Desired by the Pack

This is post number 20.

Cover:

desired_by_the_pack_cover

This is the first novel(la) of a paranormal romance series by Emma Storm.

Plot: Beck and his pack of werewolves are on the prowl as paranormal law enforcement. He spots and old flame, January, and attempts to restart their relationship. Will her past as a former wolf get in the way?

Passage:

“Impossible,” he murmured, staring at her hourglass silhouette. Impossible, but undeniable. Eight years hadn’t changed anything. She was still all hips, ass and breasts offsetting a narrow waist. Built for claiming. Female fashion was kinder to full-figured women than it had been years ago, and the jeans she wore hugged her body instead of trying to hide it. Beck’s fingers itched. He wanted to wrap them around her waist and pull her close the way he should have done back then.”

Spoilers/Opinion: When I picked this book, the description of “BBW Paranormal Romance” caught my eye. For those not in the know BBW stands for big, beautiful woman, so immediately we know the female love interest is going to be a plus sized woman. The author reminds the reader of this constantly, which is a bit much. I have no problem with having a BBW protagonist (if anything I like something a little different), I just want one chapter where I don’t have hear about how plump she is.

Probably the weirdest part of the book is that nothing really happens other than the romance/sex between the main characters. Romance novels, especially paranormal romance, have at least a little bit of plot. The only plot points are running away from some humans, banging, more banging, and Beck revealing that the first time they banged the condom broke so she’s probably pregnant. Even the powers are not really explained. For instance, the book glosses over the fact that there are vampires in this world. If you mention a paranormal element it must be explained or I am left wondering what it has to do with anything. I think the author was going for a novella rather than a full fledged novel, but even novellas have something happen. If the author wanted to create more of a teaser, she could have done more to create the world rather than just having some werewolves have sex.

Speaking of sex, Beck and January have sex within hours of being reunited. They barely even talk to each other and all of a sudden they’re banging in the front seat of car while another pack member watches. I wouldn’t mind the sex so soon if there was a bit more flirting or interaction, but the Beck and January don’t even seem to like each other. As for the sex itself, the scenes are good. I have a few gripes like the fact that Beck apparently has a monster dong that breaks condoms and January being completely submissive without any discussions beforehand. They are graphic so fans of more subtle interactions might want to look somewhere else, but overall I think they are the strongest part of the novella.

Ratings: This is a paranormal romance so the ratings are as follows:

Powers: 1/10

Explanation of Powers: 1/10

Romantic Development: 4/10

Creativity: 5/10

Plot: 1/10

Overall, I give Desired By the Pack a 2/10. The BBW element was overdone, the powers were pointless, and nothing actually happened. It’s a short read, but not worth the time.

Citation:

Storm, Emma (2013). Desired By the Pack [Kindle Version]. Retrieved from Amazon.com. Accessed 2/23/2017.

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Pulse: Bombastic language and Bromidic characters

This is post number 15.

Background: Pulse is a novel written by Kailin Gow, and is the first of a rather extended series of young adult fiction. The cover is a black and white picture of a girl who I assume is the main character, and it is a typeface away from being sued by Stephanie Meyer.

Plot: Vampire brothers Stuart and Jaegar return to their family home to solve the circumstances of their other vampire brother Aaron’s death. They both introduce themselves to Kalina, Aaron’s ex-girlfriend, who is thought to have a magical bloodline that can turn the vampire she chooses mortal. This only works as long as she is a virgin and is not forced to give blood.

Spoilers: Initially, Stuart and Kalina date, and Jaegar interrupts their lives throughout the novel. Until the final chapters, Kalina does not know that she has to remain a virgin for the magic to work, so when Jaegar reveals the truth, she gets mad at Stuart for lying and not wanting to have sex with her. She also realizes that Aaron was sent to find her in order to determine whether or not Kalina is actually magical, but he fell in love with her instead of handing her over to his boss. At one point, Kalina drinks Jaegar’s blood as a bit of revenge against Stuart, but this causes her to have feelings for this brother as well. In the end, Kalina and the brothers are captured by Aaron’s boss, who says that Kalina must choose between the two of them, and as a final twist, the brother’s find out that Aaron is still alive.

Passage:

It was the first time she had seriously engaged in cheerleading since Aaron had died . She had continued going since then, participating half-heartedly in the workouts, but she’d known that something was different. Aaron was a football player, and when Aaron was alive she would always cheer for him. Without Aaron to cheer for, the sport had lost its appeal, somehow.

Opinion: Pulse fits almost every stereotype for a young adult, paranormal romance, especially one that has vampires. The paranormal elements serve no purpose except to make the main character choose between two immortal, hot jerks. Forcing the main female character to maintain her virginity to stay useful offends my inner Gloria Steinem. I get that the author wanted to make sure the teenage protagonist wasn’t having sex all willy-nilly, but Kalina felt ready to have sex multiple times and was stopped by her date simply because of this potential ability, which felt like the author was saying that losing your virginity as a girl would lower your value.

Having a love triangle/rectangle felt forced. Stuart as the good brother and boyfriend should be played by a cardboard cut out if a movie is ever made, and Kalina is only slightly better. Jaegar is the only character with depth as the bad, but not so bad that any relationship he would have would be unhealthy, brother and even he is hit or miss in terms of being interesting. Having her choose between the two was ridiculous because I kept getting the feeling that she would end up with Stuart because they got together first, and even if they didn’t, Stuart and Jaegar are both so similar that having a choice is unnecessary as did bringing back Aaron from the dead.

The writing also fits the standard in young adult fiction; the author will randomly use “big” words that sound nice or are unusual but don’t fit in with the sentence because their definitions aren’t a fit for what the author is trying to say. I call them “thesaurus words”, and these are the big words I refer to in this blog’s title. Every time they were used, I was distracted from the storytelling and reminded as to why I am annoyed by most YA literature. The dialogue and pacing were okay at best as was the use of third person limited.

Ratings: This is a paranormal romance so the ratings are as follows.

Powers: 5/10

Explanation of powers: 2/10

Romantic development: 3/10

Creativity: 5/10

Plot: 3/10

Overall I give Pulse a 3/10. Even for a YA romance, the novel is mediocre at best, and having flat characters and almost misogynistic powers knocks it from the top of the bell curve and not in a good way.

Citation: Gow, Kailin (2011-06-07). PULSE (Kindle Locations 1227-1229). theEDGEbooks.com. Kindle Edition.

 

A Gathering of Light: Not very Bright

This is post number 14.

Background: A Gathering of Light is written by Patricia Isles. The cover has two hands holding a ball of light. It is the first in a series, but it could work as a stand alone novel.

Plot: This story takes place during the American Civil War, and opens up with Hixson watching his friend die and getting wounded in battle. He wakes up in Sarah’s house, wounded but not as severely as he should be. After talking with her, Hixson learns that he is in the south as a northerner and that Sarah has the ability to heal others by gathering light in her hands and applying it to wounds. The healing takes a lot of energy, and if she heals someone that is evil, it takes more energy.

Spoilers: After talking with Sarah’s neighbor, Hixson finds out that Sarah was the product of a rape and that she was raised by her grandparents until they recently passed away. He returns up north to talk to his family about Sarah and wanting to see her again. They tell him to return to her house, and when he arrives, Hixson sees that she has been brutally beaten and raped. The neighbor and he tend to her wounds, and Hixson asks Sarah to marry him. She agrees, and Sarah, Hixson, and the neighbor move up north to be part of Hixson’s family. The couple get married, and it is revealed that Hixson is a sort of counterpart to Sarah because he can see if someone she is about to heal is good or not. In the end, Sarah and Hixson have twins who can also gather light.

Passage:

Sarah was full of apprehension as she packed what little clothes she had. The bruises were still quite visible. Her ribs were still very sore and she had not regained her strength. Worse, she felt like there was a sign on her forehead, proclaiming her stain.

Opinion: The plot really dragged on, especially the section between the two being engaged and married. This story focuses on finding family and making new starts, but it tries to bring in supernatural elements that feel out of place. Another aspect that bothered me was the fact that the author decided to have two rapes for two generations of women happen almost the exact same way and under the same circumstances. I get that there is supposed to be some sort of struggle or negative event in every story, but having two terrible events happen the same way made it hard to suspend my disbelief.

All of the characters are either good or bad with no gray in between. For instance, all of Hixson’s family is kind, patient, good natured and loving without any black sheep, whereas all of the people in Sarah’s hometown are terrible people who only talk to Sarah when they need to be healed. Having all of the characters be so one dimensional bored and annoyed me. Nobody is purely one side or another, so that also contributed to the lack of believability.

I was not a fan of the writing. Something about the writing style kept giving me the impression that the author thought the reader was stupid, and I felt a bit insulted reading it. I might not be the brightest bulb in the closet, but I can understand a novel without having to be told what everyone is feeling in every single scene. Dialogue is meh, and so is use of third person omniscient.

Ratings: A Gathering of Light is a paranormal romance so the ratings are:

Powers: 3/10

Explanation of powers: 5/10

Romantic development: 4/10

Creativity: 4/10

Plot: 4/10

Overall I give this book a 4/10. The one dimensional characters and weird use of abilities were off-putting, and though the pacing made the story easy to follow, I felt almost offended at how everything was told to me like I was a simpleton.

Citation: Iles, Patricia (2010-11-08). A Gathering of Light (Light Gatherers) (Kindle Locations 1395-1397). . Kindle Edition.

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. 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.

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.