Review for Witch Ball by Adele Elliott

witch ball

 

My Rating:  4/5

Author: Adele Elliott
Title: Witch Ball

Genre: Young Adult

Background:

Amazon Description: 
Truly Moore loves to spend time with her Great Aunt Fleur, a larger than life, quirky old lady who makes a living selling magic charms. The townspeople know Fleur is “different”, a sin in this “Buckle of the Bible Belt”, and many suspect that Aunt Fleur is a witch. The serenity of the town is shattered by the murder of a respected high school track coach, and as the murder becomes more and more difficult to solve, a witch hunt begins. But not all demons have pointy horns and tails, and not all angels have wings.

Witch Ball asks us to be careful who we deify, and who we vilify.

 

Opinions:

Narration: First Person through Truly

 

Character Development and Plot:  In some ways, this story reminds me of To Kill a Mockingbird. It has discrimination, a trial, and a young girl’s view of the events. However, it revolves around a different discrimination – transgender and transvestites. Truly is a fifteen year old girl on summer break in the South. She adores her aunt and seeks advice from her. At the beginning of the book, Truly has a crush on Eric, a college boy who works at the local library. Things turn upside down with a death of a local boy and then the murder of the track coach. Secrets come out not only in the community but also in Truly’s own family.

 

The book focuses on sexual orientation and discrimination within the South. Truly grows up during the summer. She must learn to stand up and go against the crowd. She forms her own opinions on what is considered right or wrong. She also learns about forgiveness. In today’s world where gay rights are on the news more often, this book focuses on how society is hard to change their views. It lightly brings in religion – specifically Baptists – as well as the law.

 

The book is written for young adults but adults might enjoy it, too.

 

Standalone or Part of a Series: Standalone

Review for Beautiful Wreck by Larissa Brown

beautiful wreck

My Rating:  3.5/5

Author: Larissa Brown
Title: Beautiful Wreck

Genre: Science Fiction/Historical Romance

Background:

Amazon Description:
In a bleak future built on virtual reality, Ginn is a romantic who yearns for something real. She designs environments for people who play at being Vikings. But when her project goes awry, she’s stranded in the actual 10th century, on a storybook farm in Viking Iceland.

Heirik is the young leader of his family, honored by the men and women who live on his land. But he is feared and isolated because of a terrible curse. Ginn and Heirik are two people who never thought they would find a home in someone else’s heart. When forces rise against them to keep them apart, Ginn is called on to decide—will she give up the brutal and beautiful reality of the past? Or will she have the courage to traverse time and become more of a Viking than she ever imagined?

 

Opinions:

Narration: First Person through Ginn

 

Character Development and Plot:  The story is told through Ginn’s eyes. Coming from the 22nd century, her world is vastly different than Iceland she ends up in. Ginn is not satisfied with the life she had in the future. When she ends up 1200 years in the past, she takes in everything she can – the voices and surroundings. She ends up in a wealthy farmland. The chief of the land is Heirik – who is considered cursed by his strange birthmarks along much of his face and body. Ginn ends up falling in love with Heirik, and he with her. However, superstition remains in the way. No one has ever touched Heirik at all. How does she show Heirik that everything is okay? That she will not be cursed if he touches her. How does she show the people of the farm that as well? In other matters, Ginn does not do well with most of the chores done around the farm. Her thread making is terrible, and she tries to fit in. However, she makes a friend in Betta which helps her through the days in Iceland. The characters slowly grow over time in their own way. I’m not that familiar with Viking history – especially in Iceland. I would have to say that the only thing that I imagine should have been a little different is the reaction of the few characters that eventually learn that Ginn is from the future.

 

The story tightly weaves Viking history into it. There is a lot of tradition and daily life in the book. The flow of the story is a little slow for my usually reading. I think that some more dialogue might have helped in spots of long descriptions. The book contains a lot of breaks within the chapters. I know some people really like this and others don’t. I don’t mind either way.

 

Standalone or Part of a Series: Standalone

 

Review for Wild Born (Psionic Pentalogy) by Adrian Howell

wild-born

 

My Rating: 3.5 /5

 

Author:  Adrian Howell
Title: Wild Born (Psionic Pentalogy)

 

Genre:  Young Adult/Fantasy

 

Background:

Amazon Description:
When young Adrian Howell discovers he possesses powerful telekinetic abilities, he is plunged into a sinister world of warring paranormal factions and terrifying government organizations. Adrian must discover what really happened to his missing sister. But to do this, he will first have to find his place among fugitives like himself, and protect the life of a deeply scarred child who can speak only through her mind… a child who will change Adrian’s life forever.
(Wild-born is the first book of Adrian Howell’s PSIONIC Pentalogy)

Read all five books of Adrian Howell’s PSIONIC Pentalogy in order:

Book One: Wild-born
Book Two: The Tower
Book Three: Lesser Gods
Book Four: The Quest
Book Five: Guardian Angel

Genre: Young Adult, Paranormal, Urban Fantasy
(Recommended for readers aged 13 and above.)

 

Opinions:

Nearing his thirteenth birthday, Adrian discovers that he has special abilities; he’s telekinetic.  An attack on his family by an evil force sends his world spinning as he discovers who he is and how to survive. (I am beyond the age of thirteen, so I can’t really review the book as such.)

 

Narration: First person – Adrian

 

Character Development:Adrian has a good heart and tries to do the right thing. He is still a kid after all and makes mistakes. He soon learns there are consequences for his mistakes, and they can sometimes involve those around him. His actions reflect those of both a child and an adult. He can be impulsive and rebellious, which usually causes him trouble. On the other hand, he can be respectful and considerate at a level beyond what can be expected for his age. Adrian gives the books a voice and sometimes addresses the reader in the prose. Another interesting character is Alia – also gifted but with a different power. She is younger than Adrian and has had a traumatic childhood before being rescued. This makes her have a hard time expressing herself like a normal child would. I would have liked to have seen a little bit more development on this front by the end of the book. Although I admit, her character did grow within the book. I would have also liked to seen more background with Ralph.

 

Plot Development/Flow: Judging by the age of the characters and therefore the intended audience, the book might be a little slow pace for its length. The story set up for things that would happen later. There are actions scenes periodically throughout the book, but there are also down times when we learn more about the characters (and what’s happening around them.) The story ends well, but definitely leaves off for the next book to pick up.

 

Standalone or Part of a Series: First book in the Psionic Pentalogy

 

Review for Dragon Heat by Ella J Phoenix

dragon heart

 

My Rating: 3.5 /5

Author: Ella J Phoenix

Title: Dragon Heat

Genre: Paranormal

Background:

Amazon Description: Zoricah, the draconian demigoddess, has limited time to uncover a series of killings before one of her own meets the same fate. Determined not to let that happen, Zoricah has no other choice but to ask for the help of her race’s archenemy. Tardieh, the Vampire King, has long learnt not to trust the Dragons but when the flames of passion ignite between him and Zoricah, he finds himself torn between overwhelming sexual heat and his centuries-old distrust. Together they have to overcome their own prejudices before it is too late for their races and their love.

Opinions:

Narration: Multiple third-person

Character Development: The two main characters of the story are Zoricah (a draconian demigoddess) and Tardieh (the vampire king.) Zoricah and Tardieh first meet in the prologue about 200 years ago. Zoricah is a woman set on saving her people at all cost. She’s a strong character and fights for what she believes in. She is also willing to work with draoncian’s natural enemies – vampires – to help her fellow friends. When we first meet Tardieh, he is in a difficult situation. Going against his instincts, he allows Zoricah to help him. He struggles with what his father would do and what he feels is right. To make matters worse, he becomes smitten with Zoricah an archenemy of vampires. But, with his own people at stake, he must decide if he can trust her.

Plot Development/Flow: The story moves along very well. There are some dark moments in the book for those of you who are not particularly fond of them. Zoricah has discovered that someone is kidnapping draconians (as well as vampires.) Although she is not exactly sure what is happening with them, she becomes more involved when her friend’s sister is taken. She calls upon the help of the vampire king, Tardieh. She hasn’t seen him in over 200 years and she feels a stirring for him – which could be bad because it is distracting her from the job. Can the vampires and draconians work together for a common cause? Or will their differences (and the distractions) cause them to go off course?

Standalone or Part of a Series: First book of the series

 

Review for Echo Falls by Jaime McDougall

echo falls

My Rating: 4/5

Author:  Jaime McDougall
Title: Echo Falls

Genre:  Paranormal/Mystery

Background:

Amazon Description:

Running from a nightmare stalking her every move, Phoebe Martin arrives in Echo Falls hoping she has finally found a safe place to stop. But trouble has a way of catching up and soon the signs are there.

After a vicious attack in an alley, policeman Aidan O’Bryan is left with Phoebe as his only path to understanding why the Echo Falls werewolf pack – his pack – is being attacked. When another pack member is killed, Phoebe is forced to confront her past before she loses Aidan and everything she has come to love.

Love and duty become one as Aidan strives to prevent Phoebe from becoming the next victim. But with Phoebe just as determined to protect Aidan and her new home, secrets from her past threaten to tear them apart.

Will love give Phoebe the strength to trust Aidan and face her fears, or will her past destroy her future?

*Warning: Contains adult situations and language

Opinions:

Narration: Third Person – Multiple

Character Development: The story mainly follows Phoebe and Aidan. Phoebe has just moved to Echo Falls. When the reader first meets her, the reader discovers that she has been running from someone for a while and that she is in danger. She first meets Aidan (who is a cop) when she is attacked. There’s an instant attraction. However, both characters have secrets. Phoebe’s traumatic past gives her trust issue and the need to keep running. But, she likes Echo Falls and eventually loves Aidan. Can she overcome her past to stay where she wants to? Or will her misfortune drive her away?

Aidan is a cop and the alpha male for the pack of werewolves situated in Echo Falls. Lately, a string of murders involving werewolves have plagued the town. He saves Phoebe and becomes infatuated with her. However, he knows she is hiding something from him, and he hides the fact that he is a werewolf – at first. Aidan’s instincts are conflicted between pack/cop business and this mysterious woman.

They both must learn to trust each other if they are going to survive.

Plot Development/Flow: The story moves along well and is a fast read for me. I have read the second book before this one a while ago, so it didn’t hinder my reading experience. The only negative thought I have for reading this book is that the mystery isn’t surprising – at least for me. Despite that, I enjoyed the book.

Standalone or Part of a Series: First book in a series – but can be read as a standalone.

Review for Red Star Falling by Ian Hocking

red star falling

 

My Rating: 3.5/5
Author: Ian Hocking
Title: Red Star Falling
Genre: Novella/Science Fiction

 
**SPOILERS FOR THE AMBER ROOMS, DÉJÀ VU, and FLASHBACK BY IAN HOCKING**

Goodreads Summary:
In 2028, a mysterious group known as Meta begins sending agents back through time. Nobody knows who these time travellers are, or their purpose.

Exactly 120 years earlier, murdered agent Saskia Brandt opens her eyes in a Geneva mortuary locker. Medical technology from 2028 has given her a few more hours of life.

Completing her mission will take her to the north face of the Eiger—treacherous, unclimbed, enshadowed—and a reckoning with a Georgian outlaw, Soso: the man who killed her.

Red Star Falling is a thoughtful, character-based science fiction novella with a philosophical edge, written by the winner of the Red Adept Science Fiction Award.

Opinions:
This is a short, quick read on the remaining hours of Saskia’s life. After being mortally wounded in The Amber Rooms, Saskia wakes up to find herself in a morgue. Her memory is a little fuzzy, but she know that she only has a few more hours to live from the technology in her brain. The story follows Saskia as she tried to finish her mission with Soso before she dies (completely.)
It was a while since I last read The Amber Rooms, but there were some recaps in this novella. I suggest reading the books about Saskia Brandt before reading this novella. You would be lost if you jumped right into this book.

Review for The Boleyn Reckoning by Laura Andersen

the boylen reckoning

 

My Rating: 4.5/5

Author:Laura Andersen

Title:The Boleyn Reckoning

Genre: Historical Fiction

Background:

Amazon Description: Perfect for fans of Philippa Gregory and Alison Weir, The Boleyn Reckoning heralds the triumphant conclusion of Laura Andersen’s enthralling trilogy about the Tudor king who never was: the son of Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn—Henry IX—who, along with his sisters and those he holds most dear, approaches a dangerous crossroads. The Tudor royal family has barely survived a disastrous winter. Now English ships and soldiers prepare for the threat of invasion. But William Tudor—known as Henry IX—has his own personal battles to attend to. He still burns for Minuette, his longtime friend, but she has married William’s trusted advisor, Dominic, in secret—an act of betrayal that puts both their lives in danger. Princess Elizabeth, concerned over her brother’s erratic, vengeful behavior, imperils her own life by assembling a shadow court in an effort to protect England. With war on the horizon, Elizabeth must decide where her duty lies: with her brother or her country. Her choice could forever change the course of history.

Opinions:

My thoughts:

**If you have not read the first two books – The Boleyn King and Boleyn Deceit – you will stumble upon spoilers in this review**

 

Narration: Multiple third persons

 

Character Development: With this book continuing where the last left off, the characters are hitting their breaking/turning points. William has suffered from the smallpox and the international tensions of his potential marriage to France that fails. He no longer listens to reason and has his eyes set on marrying Minuette, hoping that an alliance with Spain through Elizabeth would help against the French. Some of his irrational decisions not only affect himself but England’s future. Dominic and Minuette know their secret marriage can be discovered at any minute. With each one still loyal to William, if and when he finds out would cause devastation in their marriage and potentially their lives. Minuette is constantly trying to keep her head as William elevates her status in preparation to be queen, while Dominic is one of the few people William still trusts. They both know this could change at any moment and with William’s changing disposition, anything can happen to them. Elizabeth is struggling to keep her calm and reason with William’s behavior and the changing demeanor from Minuette. She relies further upon Walsingham and John Dee. Can she help keep England together and her friends/brother?

 

Plot Development/Flow: The story keeps a good pace just like the last book. There is more stress as the characters are hitting a climax of their relationships. Tension is high as the secret marriage between Dominic and Minuette surface. William begins to turn into his father, slowly changing from the man they once knew into a monarch who would do as he pleases. France and Spain also causes political disruptions. Will King Philip choose Elizabeth of England of Elisabeth of France as his potential bride? The book also concludes the domestic plotting including Lord Rochford and Robin Dudley. It seems no character is safe in this book.

 

Standalone or Part of a Series: Last book in The BoleynTtrilogy

Review for Allegiant by Veronica Roth

allegiant

 

My Rating: 4 /5

Author:  Veronica Roth
Title: Allegiant

Genre:  Young Adult/Dystopian

Background:

Amazon Description:
What if your whole world was a lie?
What if a single revelation—like a single choice—changed everything?
What if love and loyalty made you do things you never expected?
The explosive conclusion to Veronica Roth’s #1 New York Times bestselling Divergent trilogy reveals the secrets of the dystopian world that has captivated millions of readers in Divergent and Insurgent.

Opinions:

My Short Summary:

**If you have not read the first two books – Divergent and Insurgent – you will stumble upon spoilers in this review**

 

Like the second book, Allegiant begins right where the last one left off. Edith Prior’s news of what is outside the city walls has the remaining factions and factionless unsure of what to do. With Tobias’s mother stepping up as leader, the city is doomed to face another tyrannical government. Luckily, the Allegiant is formed. Tris, Tobias, and other friends join and face the world outside the city they grew up in. They never knew how big the world was until they stepped outside. Being outside the city is not what they expect. Government manipulations, damaged genes, experiments, and lots more await these brave young adults.

 

Narration: First person through Tris and Tobias

 

Character Development: With Tobias narrating in first person, the reader can understand what is going on in his mind much better compared to the other books. Through this, we see that Tobias has more weaknesses and doubts than we previously thought. His thoughts reveal his reliance on Tris, his anxieties over his parents, and how he handles the consequences of his actions. He is still strong but now the reader can see the little niches that make him human.

Throughout the book we see Tris grow as a person. She tackles with her brother’s betrayal, the fear of still holding a gun, learning who to trust, and how to make her relationship work with Tobias. Each character has to face their past and their fears. They are thrown into world outside their comfort zone – a world where there are no factions. A world where divergent is not some weird trait, and those that are considered divergent might not really be a true divergent.

 

Plot Development/Flow: The story moved along well. I kind of wish it was given a year of some sorts in the mix of everything (just to gain a little baring while reading it.) The story is obviously set in the future, but it could really be close to the present.
At first I would periodically confuse myself with who was narrating. The other two books where entirely done by Tris, so I would naturally keep reading in that mindset instead of Tobias’s. The more I read into the book, the easier it became. I can understand the purpose of the two views, especially near the end. It would have been impossible to include everything if it was just Tris’s view.

 

Standalone or Part of a Series: Last book in the Divergent Series

Review for The Seduction of Miss Amelia Bell by Paula Quinn

 

the seduction of miss amelia bell

My Rating: 4/5
Author: Paula Quinn
Title: The Seduction of Miss Amelia Bell
Genre: Historical Romance

.
Background:
Amazon Description:
A HIGHLAND ROGUE

Edmund MacGregor will do anything to save Scotland from English rule-even kidnap Lady Amelia Bell for ransom. As the daughter of a duke and the chancellor’s betrothed, she’s the perfect pawn in this game. But from the moment he first lays eyes on his spirited captive, he can’t resist stealing a kiss . . .

AN ADVENTUROUS LADY

Lady Amelia’s duty is to marry well, but that hasn’t stopped her from fantasizing about true love. So when a sexy Scot appears in her home, she’s beguiled. When he kidnaps her, she’s furious. Yet as Edmund introduces her to a world of passion beyond her wildest dreams, can she leave her family behind for this handsome Highlander? And will Edmund risk the only true home he’s ever known to capture the heart of this lovely lass?

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Opinions:
My Short Summary:
Born English but raised Scottish, Edmund MacGregor would stop at nothing to keep his precious Scotland from joining with England. To buy some time, Edmund and his highlander family devise a plan to stop the signing of the Treaty of Union by kidnapping Amelia Bell – the Chancellor’s fiancé and Duke’s daughter. All does not go according to plan. For one, there is another woman that is kidnapped with Amelia. Two, Amelia Bell seems to attract bad luck. And three, falling in love is not the best idea when trying to stay on track with the plan. Add in a rival clan and you have an interesting novel.

Narration:
Multiple third person

Character Development:
The characters are well-developed in this novel. With the multiple viewpoints, the reader can understand better what the characters are really thinking and how they tick. Both protagonists are torn between love and loyalty. They step outside their comfort zones as they continue their journey together. Other characters – such as Sarah and Darach – have similar confrontations with their ideas of love. There is even love and loyalty amongst the dogs.

Plot Development/Flow:
The story flows well. There is enough romance and action to keep things balanced. The only complaint that I would have is a few spots where there are some redundancies. For instance, Amelia is troubled about doing what is right for her family (especially her father) and what she wants. The reader knows she is conflicted but the same argument goes through her head in different spots in the book. This could have been cut back a little and still be conveyed to the reader.

Standalone or Part of a Series:
Standalone in The MacGregors: Highland Heirs

Review for Gone and Done It by Maggie Toussaint

gone and done it

My Rating:  3.5/5

Author:  Maggie Toussaint
Title: Gone and Done It

Genre:  Paranormal Mystery

Background:

Amazon Description:
While planting a cherry tree, landscaper Baxley Powell’s shovel strikes something solid. Intrigued, she clears the sand away and reveals a human skull. After calling the sheriff, Baxley use her dreamwalking abilities to get a jump-start on identifying the victim.

The deputies arrive to secure the scene. They believe she’s tampering with evidence and taser her. Emotions flare, but the sheriff agrees to hire her as a consultant, if she closes cases. With a daughter to support and bills she can’t pay, Baxley is motivated to succeed.

Things get dicey when she unearths a murder victim on the same jobsite, planting Baxley in the suspect pool. For calling unwanted attention to her private retreat, Baxley’s landscaping client fires her, stiffing her for the plants and labor.

Meanwhile, her father retires as county dreamwalker, passing the community service responsibility along to her.

Baxley’s dreamwalking sideline competes for her time with her day jobs of landscaping and pet-sitting. Folks show up on her doorstep at all hours to pass messages to the departed. Though her money problems persist, food randomly appears at her door, and her hair develops a telltale white streak in the forelock overnight.

Just what every young woman wants, a permanent bad hair day.

Threats to her safety mount as Baxley delves into the victim’s life–in both worlds. With a killer dogging her heels and spirits nipping at her mind, Baxley follows her dreams to find the truth.

Opinions:

Narration:
First person – Baxley

Character Development:
At the beginning of the novel, the reader discovers that Baxley is having come financial problems as well as some paranormal problems. Her husband is declared dead from the army but no body has been found. While on a landscaping job, she discovers dead bodies. Her father is not well and she might have to take over his dreamwalking business so her daughter, Larissa, doesn’t have to. She has a lot on her plate. Baxley isn’t the type of person that jumps right into murder mysteries or dead bodies. She feels vulnerable. However, her strength comes in looking out for her daughter. She relies on her parents – her father being a dreamwalker for the county – for advice and a place of refuge. Despite her lack of faith in her abilities as a dreamwalker, Baxley understands what’s at stake and forges ahead. I would have liked to see a little more background on some other characters – especially her family. It could have added more to the story and clarify the paranormal parts.

Plot Development/Flow:
The story moves fast. With old and new dead bodies being found, her job(s) in the balance upon solving the mysteries, a watcher in her woods, and being threatened, Baxley doesn’t have much time. Besides solving the mysteries, she must also learn about her own abilities and help her father while looking out for her daughter who is also sensitive to what’s going on around her. For me, I wasn’t too surprised about the “who done it” part. There were some surprises in the plot though.

Standalone or Part of a Series:
First in a series