1

The Spot on the Wall: There’s Nothing “Sexy” About these Sex Scenes

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The spot on the Wall

A UNIQUE erotic paranormal horror story which centers on Ron, whose sexual obsession with Laura leads him to murder the recluse owner of the house she HAS to have. After Ron secretly hides the corpse in the cellar, the couple moves in. In time, however, a strange spot begins appearing on their dining room wall.

Horror/Paranormal/Erotica
338 Pages
What-If Productions
Publication Date: August 15th, 2016
Get a copy here!

2.5Penguins
Quick Reasons: there wasn’t anything horrifying about this read; I really disliked the amount of graphic, detailed sex fantasies we got from Ron’s POV; I wouldn’t even call this an “erotic” read, there was nothing sexy about it; an interesting look into obsession and the ways it changes us; random ghosts?

Huge thanks to Rob Santana, What-If Productions, and the crew at Booktasters for sending me a copy of this title free in exchange for an honest review. This in no way altered my read of or opinions on this book.

It is safe to say I did not particularly enjoy or appreciate this book, for several huge reasons. So let’s start at the beginning. I found the look into obsession and greed, and the ways these things change us or alter our behavior toward others, interesting and thought-provoking. When I first picked up this book, I was SUPER intrigued–I was excited about the idea of an erotic horror story and kept having flashbacks to that scene in American Horror Story: Murder House. If you’ve seen the show, I’m sure you know which scene I’m talking about–it involves a rubber suit? This was not at all what I got from this book, though.

For one….nothing about this book horrified me. I was hoping for fear. I was hoping this book would give me nightmares. I was HOPING I’d be kept awake at night, searching the shadows, fearing the things that go “bump.” None of this happened. Even the scenes that should have been scary, fell flat–and I’m not sure if that’s because of my personal dislike for the book, or the way the scenes were written.

Ron stood up and approached the smudge. Without disturbing Helena, he reached for a hand towel, then dabbed at the spot.

It was gone.

Just a normal, everyday blemish.

I don’t feel like the characters went through much personal growth or discovery. Ron, throughout the read, remains a whiny, sex-crazed guy. Seriously, the dude thought of literally NOTHING ELSE–every other page was smeared with graphic, detailed sex fantasies. He was judgmental, insulting, and obsessive. All of these things, while perhaps calling for an interesting character….put me off. The rest of the characters were just as 1-dimensional; I couldn’t–and didn’t really want to–connect with any of them. Which is depressing, as it made for a very long, very frustrating read.

There were a few moments at the beginning that piqued my interest enough to keep me reading, but…this quickly devolved into the rambling thoughts of a man obsessed with sex and intent on doing ANYTHING to get it. Ron claims to “love” Laura throughout….but when presented with other opportunities to find pleasure in other women, suddenly it’s all “No, I don’t think she really cares for me, what would it matter if I cheated?” Had this been written in a different manner…with less emphasis on sex/the “erotic”…it might have been scary. It might have been more entertaining. I might have actually enjoyed it.

Unfortunately, with everything I detailed above, this just wasn’t the right fit for me personally. While I don’t mind sex in my books, I want there to be an actual plot outside of the bedroom–and while there IS a plot going on here, it’s muddled. It gets lost in Ron’s obsession. I think the emphasis might have been better had it lied upon the ghost story, and not the erotic. Still, the small insight into obsession and greed–and the ways they warp and change us–was interesting. I’m disappointed…but maybe you’ll like this book better than I did. Just because I’m disappointed, doesn’t mean YOU will be–so if you think it sounds interesting, pick it up!

2

Fire Bound: There’s Just Not Enough Fire in this Plot

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Fire Bound (Sea Haven/Sisters of the Heart, #5)

Fire Bound (Sea Haven, #5)

Sea Haven/Sisters of the Heart Book 5
Goodreads Rating: 4.16 Stars
400 Pages
Jove Publishing
Publication Date: April 26th, 2016
Get a copy here!

The #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Sea Haven novels returns to the circle of the six sisters of the heart, bound by the elements—and to one who possesses the power to inflame the most dangerous passions of all.

Flame-haired Lissa Piner is a skilled glass blower whose delicate gift conceals a burning inner strength that can destroy as exquisitely as it can create. Commissioned to design chandeliers for a string of luxury hotels, her remarkable skills have taken her to Italy. But Lissa’s real mission there is a secret. For her entire life has been a lie, leading to a chance to avenge a terrible wrong.

Enlisted as her bodyguard is Casmir Prakenskii, a trained assassin living off the grid. In Lissa, he sees a kindred spirit—something unexpected and wicked, mysterious and sensual. But more than desire is about to bring them together: because both of their pasts cry out for revenge. And for two people with this many secrets, this much passion, and this many enemies, someone is bound to get burned.

3Penguins
Quick Reasons: a good amount of action/adventure; this wasn’t all sex, which I’m celebrating!; I’m not sure I believed the romance, regardless (maybe I’m just more cynical than I used to be?); stubborn, sassy characters; the banter was lively and fun; this is much more like the Feehan I used to adore

HALLELUJAH, for this book Feehan seems to be much more like the writer I used to adore! I mean, yeah, this still got only a 3-penguin rating from me…but GUYS! GUYS, this book wasn’t just sex scenes! This book didn’t only take place in the bedroom! It might seem like a little thing to celebrate, but I’m celebrating it anyway, because I can. You’re just going to have to deal.

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So let’s get into this, yes? I’ve always had a soft spot for Feehan’s Sea Haven characters. I think I started my obsession with one of the Drake sister novels–there’s just something fun and whimsical about the magical realism in these books, I guess. Although honestly, this one? Didn’t really focus on the Sisters of the Heart…. and I’m slightly disappointed with that, thinking about it now. Lissa, instead, spends the entire book AWAY from Sea Haven–and her chosen family–and instead the focus is upon her. Overcoming the demons of the past, figuring out the mysteries of things she never thought to question before, the budding romance with Casimir. You get what I’m driving at here, yes? And we didn’t even get much of THEIR powers, honestly. Casimir loses control all of ONCE, and sets a building on fire….but aside from that, the magical realism in this? Falls very, very flat overall.

 

Now, don’t get me wrong–there is action and adventure in this book. But…again, even then the writing is a BIT sub-par compared to the action/adventure scenes of books prior to this. While there’s a lot of fighting the bad guys, overcoming their struggles, etc… I feel like we only got a very small glimpse into this world, and this couple.

 

In fact, the romance itself seems flat to me. I’m not entirely sure I bought it completely. It feels like lately, Feehan has stopped trying to write up a romance realistically–with the fun arguments, and the entertaining drama, and the lively banter–and instead has been crafting more “insta-love.” Which, ICK?! What happened to our feisty characters who “fought” the romance? HELL, what happened to LISSA in this?! One second she’s snarling, claiming she’ll never ever let a Prakenskii brother brand her like the others have done to her “sisters”……..and the next, she’s doing exactly that very thing. What? I miss the badass characters who stood up for themselves, who didn’t immediately swoon at the sight of their destined partners, who put up a bit of a fight. The loves Feehan’s been crafting lately? Flat. And boring. And predictable, all things considered.

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So… while I was entertained, and enjoyed this read for the most part, I’m still pretty disappointed. Maybe I’ve just grown more cynical than I used to be? I don’t know. Regardless, this romance felt a bit like taffy–pulled and molded into some sort of rubberized mockery of love. Still, given how some of her recent novels have been for me, I’d recommend this to those who’ve read the rest of the Sisters of the Heart series–it’s cutesy, and dark, and there are some pretty steamy scenes (that HORSE scene, guys. That horse scene is my favorite).

3

A Review of The Map of Bones (The Fire Sermon #2), by Francesca Haig

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The Map of Bones (The Fire Sermon, #2)

Goodreads Rating: 3.77 Stars
416 Pages
Gallery, Threshold, Pocket Books
Preorder a copy here!

Book Two in the critically acclaimed The Fire Sermon trilogy—The Hunger Games meets Cormac McCarthy’s The Road in this richly imagined post-apocalyptic series by award-winning poet Francesca Haig.

Four hundred years in the future, the Earth has turned primitive following a nuclear fire that has laid waste to civilization and nature. Though the radiation fallout has ended, for some unknowable reason every person is born with a twin. Of each pair, one is an Alpha—physically perfect in every way; and the other an Omega—burdened with deformity, small or large. With the Council ruling an apartheid-like society, Omegas are branded and ostracized while the Alphas have gathered the world’s sparse resources for themselves. Though proclaiming their superiority, for all their effort, Alphas cannot escape one harsh fact: whenever one twin dies, so does the other.

Cass is a rare Omega, one burdened with psychic foresight. While her twin, Zach, gains power on the Alpha Council, she dares to dream the most dangerous dream of all: equality. For daring to envision a world in which Alphas and Omegas live side-by-side as equals, both the Council and the Resistance have her in their sights.

– – – – –

3Penguins
Quick Reasons: I am supremely disappointed; to quote Gibbs from NCIS: there’s a lot of yabba-yabba, and not much else; the plot feels more like a snail-crawl than a race to the finish; the prose is gorgeous; the characters lost something between book 1 and this; somewhere, this story fell off the rails for me; I just couldn’t get into it

Huge thanks to Francesca Haig; Gallery, Threshold, Pocket Books publishing; and Netgalley, for granting me early access to this title in exchange for an honest review. This in no way altered my read of or opinions on this book.

All these weeks and all these miles later, I hadn’t realized that I was still hauling the weight of the sky with each step.

Like book one, the prose in this is gorgeous—melodic, poetic, just a hint of the macabre to get the general mood of the world through to readers. There were so many moments I highlighted while reading, I had a hard time deciding which portions to quote in my review. Francesca Haig, if nothing else, has a definite knack for meshing the beautiful and the ugly into a symbiotic, woven net. This world falls over you like a scarf around the neck: beautiful, but often choking if worn incorrectly.

Even her teeth, as she shouted at me, had flecks of blood on them. Could she taste it? I wondered. What had happened to us? I used to work in the fields and grow things. Now, on this icy plain, I was a harvester of blood.

I am, however…supremely disappointed. This has been one of my most-anticipated novels for at least a year now…and in the end, I feel it let me down much more than I thought any book ever could. Which is depressing, really—when I first started this read, I was SO into the world being built. But somewhere around the thirty percent mark, things began to derail…and they didn’t pick themselves up again until the last ten percent or so.

This book did almost nothing for the story. It suffers a HUGE amount of second-book syndrome, in my opinion—there are a lot of words, there’s a huge amount of backstory…but it doesn’t come together quite as coherently as I’d have liked. It felt like, where the first book was “runrunrunrunrun,” this book became more about crawling, slowly, through a thorn field—hard to pick my way through, hard to find the right pace. I got stuck around the fifty percent mark…and almost couldn’t bring myself to finish it.

The characters, also, seem to be lacking quite a bit from book one. Cass is not nearly as vibrant, or as strong, as I thought she was. The world, and her affliction, and her brother…have all beaten her down SO. MUCH. I’m surprised she managed to pull herself off the ground to begin with. She spent most of this time either whining, arguing over senseless things, insulting her companions…or “stuck” in visions that did nothing to further the plot. Somewhere along the way, this book fell off the tracks…and took my hopes for this series with it, I’m afraid.

But at the end, in the silo, he’d made the choice to die, to save me. These days, it seemed that was the only gift we had to offer one another: the gift of our own deaths.

For a most anticipated sequel, this book really let me down. The world-building here was more “backstory” and “info-dump” than a plot device. The characters spent most of their time seeming lost, or fighting each other. Overall, this was a disappointing journey. I’m not sure I’ll be picking up book three, when it’s released. Of course, just because I personally don’t think this book works, doesn’t mean it won’t work for you! So if you enjoy dystopians, you should definitely give this series a try. The first book is, even now, still one of my top favorites from 2015. I have my fingers crossed book three will work much better for me, if I decide to finish off the series later on.