Ghostly Guardian: Excelling at Mediocrity

This is post number 13.

Background: Ghostly Guardian is written by Rachel Humphrey-D’aigle and is the first book of a series. The cover art is actually a bit weird because on my phone and computer it is a picture of the main female character, but on my tablet it has all of the family in silhouette. Neither are particularly attractive.

Plot: The Howard siblings all have magic abilities. Melinda is a witch, Charlie is a werewolf, and Michael is an empath. Both of their parents went missing years ago, and the three are under the care of a vampire named William. Melinda has a prophetic dream that Michael’s girlfriend is going to die, so she and William set out to protect her, while Melinda’s brothers go to a cave to solve the mystery of an attack on a tourist.

Spoilers: Michael and Charlie find a girl in the cave and rescue her. For some reason, Charlie feels immense attraction to her but he tries to dismiss it. The three find a sea hag summoning giant leeches, and they all ward her off. Meanwhile, Melinda and William pay Michael’s girlfriend a visit to warn her about her potential demise. They also talk with the girlfriend’s father, who tells them that the ring she wears protects her from being taken over by spirits. After being overwhelmed by a spirit, Melinda calls on her brothers to help out. The spirit does take over the girlfriend, and it turns out that the ghost is the siblings’ mother. She gives them her final goodbye and mentions that their father has not passed on, so he is probably still alive in some sense. The very end of the book leaves off with the rescued girl in the cave talking to her father and mentioning how she will try to lure in Charlie and his family.

Passage:

Michael opened his hand where he still held the crystal. It was heavy and didn’t float in the partially salted water. It made a slight turn in his hand and lit up. He motioned for Charlie to follow and they set off. It took Michael about ten minutes to locate the entrance to the cave . He motioned for Charlie to look, but his brother’s attention was drawn to the depths below the cave’s entrance.

Opinion: With witches, vampires, werewolves, ghosts, and other stuff, this book contains way too many supernatural elements in an introductory novel. I must admit, though, that the author does utilize all of the character’s powers couple times each, but I think that the story would have benefited from some literary weed-whacking.

The siblings are okay in terms of personality. They are close but have mild family tension because their parents are dead and Michael wants to leave the small island. Other than that, the Howard clan displays little emotion or defining characteristics. Also there is an implied potential romance between Melinda and William, which I found creepy rather than cute. I kept getting the impression that William saw Melinda as a daughter rather than as a partner or even a friend, so the thought of them banging made me feel uncomfortable.

The writing is okay as well. There are no blatant grammar or spelling mistakes although some words did have formatting issues. Some of the dialogue felt very unnatural like saying sis or bro in a sentence as well as constantly mentioning the name of the person a character is speaking to. I get that the author was probably trying to make sure the reader knows who is speaking to whom, but it made the character’s speech sound silly.

Ratings: This is a fantasy/sci-fi novel. It says it’s a romance but I didn’t see any couples being established or expanded upon. As such the ratings are:

Powers: 5/10

Explanation of powers: 5/10

Creativity: 6/10

Characters:4/10

Plot: 5/10

Overall I give Ghostly Guardian a 5/10. There was nothing awful or special about this book. The only word that comes to mind is okay.

Citation: Humphrey – D’aigle, Rachel (2013-12-09). Ghostly Guardian (Volume One) (Witches of The Demon Isle, a Paranormal Teen Romance / Fantasy Series) (Kindle Locations 819-822). . Kindle Edition.

Forsaken Petal: Nothing’s coming up roses here

This is post number 12, part two. Please read part one, otherwise this review doesn’t make much sense.

Opinion: I’m going to start with the positives because I’m feeling generous. There is a ton of action going on, as you probably noticed by my plot summary. None of the characters are unlikeable. The author has potential to make an interesting sequel,and with that I’m done with the pros.

None of the characters are unlikeable because they don’t really have any strong personality traits. Even the main character, Tom, has no real identifying features other than his magic. If there was a bit more character development, I would feel a great deal more invested in the characters and their feelings, instead of being confused or just straight up meh about what happens to them. The vast number of characters only served to muddle the plot; I swear that each chapter introduced two new people who never got the chance to display any personality.

The sheer amount of plot within this book should have divided into at least two different novels if not more. Personally, if the author had divided the book into three books where book one ended at the attack on the school, book two ended at the attack on Karman’s house, and book three went until the end, I would have enjoyed the books more because then the author could have used the extra space to provide more character development. It also would have helped with the pacing; for instance, Tom is supposed to age from 5 to 16, but since the three years at Karman’s house are not discussed at all, I kept thinking he was 13, which made the awkward make out scenes with Aithnea even worse.

I have to say, though, that the absolute worst part about this book was the writing. The author uses a third person limited perspective, but ruins the flow by having Tom’s first person thoughts interrupting a couple times per chapter. Another reason why I thought he was a prepubescent boy for almost the entire novel was because his thoughts were comically simple and had little pertinence to the action that was going on. I actually chose the passage in part one of this review because Tom’s monologue was so choppy that I actually laughed while reading it. There are also numerous grammar mistakes like a lack of clarifying commas and using the wrong form of ‘to’.

Some of the small things that bothered me included the name choices. In the beginning all of the names were traditional western names like Tom and John, but in the middle random names like Karman and freakin’ Aithnea were thrown in, which was really off putting. I actually included the coverart in this review because I think it is unbelievably awful. Everything is a shade of brown including the main character’s blonde hair and blue eyes, and their faces look just straight up odd. I know that I’m not supposed to judge a book by its cover, but in this case the front is the same level of bad as the contents.

Honestly, I do still think the author can salvage the series with a sequel that takes its time and uses third person limited correctly. The characters are set up with interesting abilities, the setting has potential, and the overall plot can be expanded to make a fun experience.

Ratings: This is a fantasy/sci-fi novel so the ratings are:

Powers: 5/10

Explanation of Powers: 6/10

Characters: 2/10

Creativity: 5/10

Plot: 2/10

Overall I give Forsaken Petal a 2/10. The plot has too much going on in terms of action and characters, and the poor choice of using Tom’s internal monologue ruin the potential for a decent story.

Forsaken Petal: Nothing’s coming up roses here

This is post number 12. I will actually be doing this review in 2 parts because there’s a whole lot of crap to cover with this book. This is part one of course.

Background: Forsaken Petal is by Joshua Hoyt. It is the first book of a series. The cover art is of the main character and his love interest. I have included the image and will discuss my opinion on it in the opinion section.

Plot: Tom is five years old when his mother sends him away to an orphanage for his own protection. While there, he is picked on by the other orphans and new headmaster. After eight years, Tom has a dream of two men who ask him to choose between the two, and he chooses Archelaus. The next day, Tom is chosen by a couple, Kristiana and John, who take him to a school for young boys, where he is trained in fighting and makes a friend named Cody.

Spoilers: One night, the school is attacked, and Tom, Cody, Kristiana, John and Kristiana’s apprentice Aithnea flee to a house hosted by a man named Karman. During the attack, Tom uses magic for the first time, which is considered impossible as only females like Kristiana or Aithnea have magic. Inside of Karman’s house, Tom, Cody and Aithnea find a secret passage way to an old library that belonged to the order of the rose, an ancient group of men and women who possessed magic and defended the world against evil forces. Tom has a vision of the man he did not choose in his dream who explains this all to him. Meanwhile, Tom and Aithnea feel a strong bond between one another, and Kristiana and John think the two are counterparts, or a couple who amplifies one another’s magic.

After three years spent at Karman’s house, they are attacked again,and Karman is killed. On their way to another safe house, the group meets Caspin, a healer. He joins Tom’s group and everyone continues on to find Archelaus and talk to him. They stop at a cave, and are attacked by a skeleton horde. More is revealed about the order of the rose, and the group all set out again on their quest. Once more, they are all ambushed, and Tanya sets them all free and joins their group.

Then the group decides to continue on and attack the black widow clan, the people who have been attacking them for most of the novel. During the trip, Caspin reveals that he is a werewolf due to unfortunate circumstances, and Tanya reveals that she is a light elf. Tanya leads them all to her homeland, where she is reunited with her sister after 10 years. The light elves agree to fight with the group because Tom has special abilities. A dark elf named Xantar pleads to fight with the light elves because he does not agree with what the dark elves are doing.

The group sets off to the black widow castle and are captured. Tom is almost trapped in an enchanted dream, but Xantar saves him. The group splits up to disarm the different parts of the castle so that Tanya can set off a light bomb. Cody and Tanya have a moment of romantic tension, and Tom has a near death experience. They all go into an elven library, and Tom finds an old man sitting at a desk in a secret room.

Passage:

He thought about the many times he had become uncertain about his own choices and even now he wondered if he should have answered the note that had come so long ago. What would his life be like if he had not gone out on that dark night? He remembered the headmaster and how he used to seem to be so big and powerful to him. Maybe I should go back and visit him when this is all done? Would he even be able to recognize me? What about Jacob and Peanut? I would definitely like to talk to them again. I want to make them pay for what they did to me.

Citation: Hoyt, Joshua (2014-01-23). Order of The Rose: Forsaken Petal (p. 169). . Kindle Edition.

Dark Bayou: Charlemagne was a BAMF

This is post number 11.

Background: Dark Bayou is written by Nancy K. Duplechain. The cover just has the title over an image of a bayou.

Plot: Leigh returns home to a small town in Louisiana for her brother’s funeral. While there, she receives custody of her ten year old niece and plenty of scolding from her grandmother. She misses L. A. but decides to stay in Louisiana because Leigh starts to have terrible dreams about her niece being in grave danger.

Spoilers: Leigh’s grandmother reveals that she and all of her French ancestors have abilities gifted to them in order to fight the forces of evil. Their ancestors were French knights who served Charlemagne, and each knight and Charlemagne had an ability. Her family in particular has the ability to heal others, and through unfortunate circumstances, this ability led to Leigh’s mother’s demise. The forces of evil are trying to come after the niece in order to wreak havoc on the world. After kidnapping the niece, Leigh, her grandmother, her grandmother’s friends, and Leigh’s new boyfriend set out to find the niece and defeat the dark ones. After a climatic battle, the niece is returned and peace returns. Leigh’s grandmother then sends Leigh to New Orleans to complete some training.

Passage:

I turned off a half mile later, onto yet another back road. This one was more up-to-date, paved more recently and fewer pot holes. I went for several miles through wooded landscape on either side of me, when I came to a clearing. As I approached, I instantly recognized it as the Bancker cemetery. Figures I’d wind up here. Without really knowing why, I pulled up alongside the cemetery. I stopped, but didn’t get out. Instead, I gazed out at the graves, spotting two with fresh flowers and yellow ribbons. They were David’s and Michelle’s.

Opinion: Dark Bayou utilizes French-creole culture very well. The back story and explanation of powers is well thought out and researched, which gave the novel depth. I thought that the use of Charlemagne and his knights as part of the mythology was really creative and interesting.

The main character is one of my favorites that I have seen in a free e-book. She has a terrible past and an unfortunate present, but Leigh never comes off as whiny or annoying. Leigh is strong, independent, but also troubled and sensitive; for example, she wants to leave and live a comfortable life in California, but is not so selfish to leave behind a defenseless orphan. There is also a love interest for her, but he is not the center of the protagonist’s universe, which is more refreshing than it should be. Her powers are not fully developed, but this is explained by a lack of training, so I can deal with it.

The writing is well done, and this novel is written in first person from Leigh’s perspective. In terms of dialogue, the author does use some phonetic pronunciation of the region’s dialect, but I feel like this is not as cringe inducing as in other novels because it is used to show some of the French-creole culture rather than only tell that a character has an accent.

Ratings: This is a fantasy/sci-fi novel so the ratings are:

Powers: 6/10

Explanation for Powers: 9/10

World/Environment/Culture: 9/10

Creativity: 10/10

Plot: 8/10

Overall I give Dark Bayou a 9/10. The writing and culture kept me intrigued, and I was amazed at the level of depth and creativity the story had with the magical history. If I had paid money for this book, I would have been satisfied, so I can definitely say that I recommend this novel.

Citation: Duplechain, Nancy K. (2011-05-05). Dark Bayou (The Dark Trilogy) (p. 86). . Kindle Edition.

Viridis: Sex, Drugs and Hot Air Balloons?

This is post number 10.

Background: This novel is written by Calista Taylor, and it is the first of a series. The cover art is of the main character. Also this novel is set in a steam punk England.

Plot: Phoebe has made a nightclub that dispenses her drug Viridis, which heightens all of a person’s senses. It is said that drinking a pure form of the drug can make that person orgasm. A man is murdered and Phoebe is one of the suspects since the man was last seen at her club. Phoebe’s ex shows up and the two rekindle their romance.

Spoilers: Phoebe’s former suitor becomes instantly jealous of her former ex, so he attacks Phoebe in her office. Her man then goes out and beats up the former suitor, who then threatens her beau with legal action. In order to prevent her man from going to jail, Phoebe agrees to sleep with her former suitor. All the while a cop is interrogating various members of Phoebe’s staff to find out why the man was killed. At one point, a mutual friend of the couple returns into their lives, and Phoebe and the friend admit that they kissed once while Phoebe and her man were broken up. Eventually, the mystery of the murder is solved; Phoebe’s brother had an affair with the deceased and someone caught wind of it and decided to kill both of them since the murderer saw the coupling as perverted. Phoebe is sad about her brother’s death, but still agrees to marry her man.

Passage:

Phoebe had been prowling the house since William left, trying in vain to ignore the sinking feeling in her gut. She was only too happy that Sarah and Martha were preoccupied in the kitchen. It was quite clear that they were shaken after being questioned by the inspector, and she could not blame them. She felt horrible that they were under suspicion, and how she would face them again, she did not know.

Opinion: This is another book that has almost too much going on, but I think Viridis actually pulls it off. The mystery of the murder had twists and turns that I did not see coming, but I could still believe that they could happen. I feel like the investigator’s plot line was by far more interesting than Phoebe’s plot line because he at least had some action not relating to a relationship. Phoebe’s relationship is her main concern rather than her business or her reputation. She has some interesting, personal moments like when she takes her birth control or makes a new potion, but for the most part, her entire world revolves around her man.

Subjectively, I was not a fan of the whole steam punk schtick. For one, the inventions are described in detail in order to show that they are both old school and technologically advanced, but I didn’t like reading pages worth of description for a steam punk computer. This really annoyed me, especially the part where I had to read paragraphs of adjectives for a hot air balloon-plane when the author could have just said that it was a zeppelin. Also, the whole point of setting a story in a time and place of extreme modesty is so that the characters have to work around these constraints and rules; all of the characters ignore the rules like Victorian hipsters, which undermines the world.

The writing is good for the most part. This story is written in third person limited perspective and switches between Phoebe and the investigator, which the author uses effectively. My only complaint is the fact that the author tries to create a Scottish accent for the main love interest and the mutual friend by phonetically writing it in the dialogue, but this only made the book hard to read and almost cringe inducing. She would have been better off just telling the reader about their accents and leaving the rest to our imaginations.

Ratings: This book is a mystery with romantic themes. As such here are the ratings:

Surprises/ Plot Twists: 8/10

Problem Solving/Finding info: 8/10

Romantic Development: 5/10

Creativity: 6/10

Plot: 6/10

Overall I give this book a 7.5/10. Viridis has a great twists and turns and effective writing. I am not a fan of the steam punk aspect, but objectively, this is a good novel that I do recommend.

Citation: Taylor, Calista (2014-02-15). Viridis – A Steampunk Romance & Mystery (The Viridis Series) (Kindle Locations 2173-2176). Daeron Press. Kindle Edition.

The Seventh Immortal: James Joyce has clearer plot lines

This is post number 9.

Background: The Seventh Immortal is the first book in a series written by J. M. Parry. The cover has what I assume is the main character wearing a bed sheet around her butt while looking at a metropolitan skyline. In the cover credits, apparently the cover was made from some chick in deviant art, and it sure does look it.

Plot: A woman wakes up in an emergency room and has amnesia. Creepy people talk about her and sedate her without any real explanation. After being set free by a male nurse, she learns her name is Kait and that she jumped off of a rooftop in a suicide attempt.

Spoilers: After leaving the hospital, Kait meets a lawyer who says she left him a package and that he witnessed her fall. After talking with him, she gives the lawyer oral sex. He confesses that he is married and that he needs to go to a church to confess his sin and feel less guilty. Once at the church, he and Kait are confronted by the church’s lead pastor and the creepy guy who sedated her in the beginning, and the lawyer guy is killed. Fleeing from the police who think she is responsible for a lot of stuff, Kait meets the male nurse at a restaurant where the waitress tells Kait that she can tell Kait all that she needs to know. After riding on the waitress’s motorcycle and trying to use it as a vibrator, Kait and the waitress meet the waitress’s boss. The boss tells Kait that she is an immortal with special abilities and that there are seven immortals in the world at all times. All of them have lived multiple life times, and they all fight each other for dominance. Kait then returns to the restaurant where the police, under the control of the creepy immortal, have surrounded it and taken the male nurse hostage. Using a magical attack, she temporarily defeats the other immortals and runs away with the male nurse.

Passage:

Kait began to explain everything that had happened since they parted ways at the hospital. She left out the more lurid details, and used the mysterious message written in her passport to explain her presence at the church. Paul was enraptured by her story, barely touching his food even as it arrived. Kait, of course, couldn’t dig in because she was too busy talking . By the time she got to the part where she actually shot Mayor Levin, the sweet smell of her stir-fried pork was almost overwhelming.

Opinion: By writing out all of the plot points, I was reminded of the fact that there is way too much going on in this story. For one, having amnesia from a failed suicide attempt feels unnecessary. If amnesia was replaced with simply discovering one’s powers for the first time, the story would have improved. Also the random sexual acts only serve to distract the reader. I mean come on, who the hell tries to get off while riding a motorcycle when their life is in danger?

The immortals in the story were a bit lame. Sure they healed quickly from mortal wounds and had special attack abilities, but all of them almost seemed annoyed at the fact that Kait had amnesia and wanted revenge rather than feel threatened or betrayed. I get that they all have lived for centuries, but a little enthusiasm goes a long way.

The writing is pretty good. This book’s author uses third person limited perspective correctly and does try to show more than tell. Some of the plot points and dialogue were a bit cheesy, but the writing helped me pull through and finish the book.

Ratings: I consider this book a sci-fi/ fantasy novel with mystery elements, although the mystery will probably disappear in the next installment since the identity of the character was revealed. As such the ratings are:

Powers: 4/10

Explanation for Powers: 6/10

Surprises/Plot Twists: 5/10

Problem Solving/Finding Info: 5/10

Creativity: 5/10

Plot: 2/10

Overall I give this book a 4/10. The writing is decent, but the convoluted plot and unnecessary sex scenes make this story really hard to follow.

Citation: Parry, J.M. (2013-05-27). The Seventh Immortal (Hearts of Amaranth) (Kindle Locations 554-558). . Kindle Edition.

Element: More preachy than a church choir

This is post number 8.

Background: The author for Element is C. M. Deporto. This book is part one of a series, and the cover art is of the main character looking at a body of water.

Plot: Natalie is a college student interning for a pharmaceutical company, and she is taking the company’s experimental supplements. She meets a boy who is also interning at the pharmaceutical company, and the two start dating. Eventually Natalie starts to notice some weird changes with her body and blames it on working out and the supplement.

Spoilers: Natalie and her man decide not to have sex because he is waiting until marriage and she wants to be a born again virgin. At the very end of the novel, Natalie discovers that she has the ability to transform into the four basic elements of earth, air, water, and fire, and she reveals this to her boyfriend.

Passage:

She removed her glasses and stared at herself. She liked the way she looked without them and Ryan had even made a comment too. Maybe she would wear her contacts instead of her glasses. She leaned forward to study her face. She was grateful she had a good complexion, hence the reason why she never bothered to wear much makeup. She didn’t need to. However, she also liked the way Lise did her makeup. It made her pale blue eyes stand out and it did make her feel pretty.

Opinion: The title of the book really brought my hopes up for seeing some cool elemental magic and interesting explanation for the powers like in Avatar: The Last Airbender or really any other storyline with the four elements. Instead I got a boring romance with heavy handed Christian themes. Now I am a Christian, and I always appreciate authors who have the balls to mention any religion in their writing, but this novel really piled on the belief of waiting until marriage. I understand that many people of many religions believe this is the best route, but the reader shouldn’t feel like they’re being chastised for their life choices if they don’t agree with the author.

Also the powers are not revealed until the last 20 pages. The main character hints at feeling different and stronger, but the elemental aspect is not mentioned until she has a freak out at the company party. By then I had lost all hope of ever actually seeing how the title relates to a story of two chaste teenagers in love. The reason why she has these abilities is assumed to be the supplements, but if the company made a super drug like this and knew what it could do, why would they test it on a love sick intern? And if they didn’t know what it could do, wouldn’t they try to monitor Natalie to check for adverse side effects like, I don’t know, mother-effin’ super powers?

The writing is mediocre. The author uses a third person limited perspective, which is the hardest to mess up. Normally I prefer this perspective because it almost forces the author to show rather than tell since we only know one character’s thoughts at a time, but since the author also changes the character whose thoughts we know quite often, I think a first person perspective would have worked a great deal better. Also, the couple’s past relationships are mentioned constantly, making entire paragraphs repetitive and unnecessary.

Ratings: This is supposed to be a paranormal romance novel so my ratings are as follows:

Powers: 3/10

Explanation of powers: 1/10

Romantic development: 5/10

Creativity: 2/10

Plot: 2/10

Overall, I give this book a 3/10. The plot had almost nothing to do with elemental abilities, and the romance made me feel like I needed to go and confess my sins.

Citation: Doporto, CM (2013-03-28). Element, Part 1 (The Natalie Vega Saga) (p. 92). CM Doporto. Kindle Edition.