Game of Love

This is post number 19.

Cover:

game_of_love_cover

This is part of series of romance novels by Melissa Foster.

Plot:Dex Remington reunites with his long time friend and first love Ellie Parker. With the stress of his new game launch and her escape to his city, can the couple leave the past behind and stay together?

Passage:

“He saw it in her eyes. She was sliding back into that silent place. Goddamn it. “Ellie.” He reached for her. She took a step backward. “Ellie, I’m sorry. Don’t go reticent on me, please. This is so hard. I’m trying. I’m really trying to stay with you, to stay with us, but I don’t know what you expect of me. I hurt, Ellie. Every fucking time that you clamp down on your feelings. Every time you shut me out, it’s like a gunshot to my heart. A man can love a woman for only so long without it being reciprocated. On some level you must know that.” Just as I know it’s a fucking lie. I’ll always love you. She nodded.”

Spoilers/Opinion: So first things first, Dex is supposed to be hot even though he is a computer programmer, and I have a hard time buying that. In STEM when it comes to finding a man, the odds are good but the goods are odd. Especially in computer science/engineering. I will give the author a pass because she mentions the stereotype, so she is self-aware. Dex often broods over the fact that he makes video games for a living, which annoys me. If he really hated the fact that kids enjoy video games more than their education, he could easily get into teaching or programming software to help kids with homework. Ellie is the first person to bring the idea of creating an educational game, and he acts like he never thought of such a thing before, which also annoys me. He’s supposed to be the CEO of one of the most successful video game companies in the nation, yet Dex lacks the foresight to see the market for educational programming. I don’t buy it.

Ellie is more believable as a teacher wanting to work for low income and at risk youth. The only part of her job that was strange was her interview with Maple Academy. She brought up the fact that she left her previous job because she found out that she was dating a married man, yet the principal welcomed her with open arms. Interviewers don’t ask about age let alone want to know about the candidate’s sex life, so I had a hard time believing the principal would still be on board. Speaking of Ellie’s ex, he only makes an appearance twice in the story, one of which was nothing more than him passing by. He was not necessary, and I think the story would have been more streamlined without him.

The romance itself is just okay. Ellie has commitment issues that stem from being in the foster system and sexual abuse at the hand of her foster father. Dex has trust issues from Ellie leaving him when they were in high school (not her fault) and during college (actually her fault). At first, I understood where Dex was coming from because she did leave him high and dry without so much as a toodle-lo. After several chapters of him not trusting Ellie when she made the effort to stay, he should have gotten over it. They show affection with more than just sex, which is nice.

Ratings: This is a romance novel, so the rating will be as follows:

Relationship drama: 2/10
Romantic Development: 5/10
Hot love interest: 2/10 or 7/10*
Creativity: 4/10
Plot: 5/10

Overall I give Game of Love a 5/10. Not a bad book, but a few unrealistic situations where realism would have made for a better story.

*Depends on whether or not you believe hot programmers exist

 

 

 

The Dark Huntsman

This is post number 18.

Cover:

darkhuntsman_cover

This is the first novel of a  fantasy-romance series by Jessica Aspen

Plot: Logan the huntsman is on a quest by the dark queen to kill the last of the MacElvy witches. The only thing in his way is Trina MacElvy, a powerful witch. Together they have to figure out why the queen wants the MacElvys dead.

Passage:

“Glimmers of power limned her naked body and the silver blade of the athame that gleamed between her breasts. Her legs were spread slightly apart, tensed for battle. Long black hair crackled and lifted with static. Her expressive face was poised on the edge of dilemma, her body caught between the need to hold the spell and the need for action. He paused to let the feel of power and woman roll through him”

Spoilers/Opinion: I’ll admit that one of my favorite guilty pleasure genres is the “dark fairy tale”, especially those that revolve more on the world of fairies rather than Grimm tales. Right off the bat I had some hope that the lore would have some depth, and that I would get to see some cool powers. Unfortunately, I did not see either.

The male protagonist is huntsman, which mean his tracking abilities, strength, and speed are heightened. These abilities are used sparingly, and with little impact. Trina is not much better; she used her plant magic once in the beginning against a successfully and a couple times unsuccessfully. Most of the magic comes from the objects they use, and I feel like that is a waste of potential.

Speaking of  waste of potential, we catch glimpses of the dark queen and her court, but everyone there seems to either be scared, evil, or both. The lands that Logan hails from only has two uncles and some forests. That’s it. Honestly, the most developed world is when Logan and Trina cross back into the human realm, but that is almost cheating. The creatures lack variety with only elves/fairies, pucas, and trolls mentioned.

In terms of romance, the main characters sleep together early and often with a few too many sex scenes. I’m no prude, but when there are more than three sexual encounters in a novel between the same characters it gets tedious. The most affection that we see between the two usually revolves around Trina being in danger, and Logan coming to save the day. Now damsel in distress is fine, but in this novel the exact same situation of Trina being magically forced to wear/consume an evil object and being put under a spell happens twice. With less than a quarter of the book between the two incidents. That’s just stupid.

As a fantasy romance, I give The Dark Huntsman the following scores:

Powers: 2/10

Explanation of Powers: 2/10

Romantic Development: 4/10

Creativity: 5/10

Plot: 4/10

Overall, I give this novel a 3.5/10. There is nothing special about this novel when the potential for world building, powers, and plot was ruined by a romance without affection.

Citation:

Aspen, Jessica. The Dark Huntsman. Published 2013. Accessed 01/31/2017. Abracadabra Publishing. Kindle Edition

 

 

 

Hello Again!

Hey everyone,

I am restarting this blog! I originally started this blog for a school project, and kept up with it for a few months. A move, change in jobs, change in almost everything led to me not reviewing like I wanted, and neglecting this blog. Now years later, I missed being able to share what I thought, and spreading the word on free books. Plus my friends were probably sick of hearing about the weirdness that is low to high Kindle books.

To revamp, I am going to post a good number of romance novel reviews in the spirit of Valentine’s Day. Trust me, there are some interesting finds. Thank you for reading, and I hope you enjoy my reviews!

Sincerely,

The Reader

In the Dark: Office Mom Becomes a Real Mom

This is post number 17.

Cover:

in_the_dark_cover

This is a standalone novel by Pamela Buford

Plot: Cat Seabright is in her late thirties and wants to have a child before it’s too late. She enlists the help of her friend’s cousin to set up a rendezvous where he would sleep with Cat and then leave, in the hope of getting Cat pregnant. A misunderstanding leads to Cat sleeping with a mystery man, and finding out who he is could put her plans in jeopardy.

Passage:

“SPOT SET UP a hellacious howl downstairs, barking and snarling at the front door. Brody scanned the computer room for the cheap digital clock Leon had bought him. There it was, precariously perched on a heap of paperbacks that were themselves precariously perched on top of the computer monitor. Twelve noon on the button. She was punctual. Brody abhorred punctuality. He took a last drag of his cigarette and ground the butt in the ashtray balanced on his knee, a weighty slab of green glass he’d swiped from a steak pub during his misspent youth. He thumbed the red buttons on his handheld electronic game a half dozen more times, annihilating two giant lizard warriors and a grenade-chucking alien octopus, to the accompaniment of staccato bursts of static from his Gatling gun.”

Spoilers/Opinion: Let’s start with what I like. I enjoy the fact that the characters in this story are in their late thirties/early forties. It mixes it up from teen/twenties/early thirties that almost every free romance has. The writing is easy to understand and has a decent pace. Sometimes the author likes to use those “big words”, but the grammar and mechanics are fine. The dialogue, for the most part, has no large blocks of exposition that interrupt what the characters are saying. Nothing worse than someone asking a question and getting the answer five pages later because they were too busy getting lost in each others’ eyes.

Now the parts I don’t like mostly involve the plot itself. I cannot believe that a successful woman would setup a one night stand and risk potential litigation and custody agreements with a basic stranger rather than going to a sperm bank. She claims she trusts the cousin, but he is basically a stranger.Also she tries to hide her pregnancy from the father, Brody,  and almost succeeds until the cousin randomly shows up at the stranger’s door. Too coincidental to be believable. Brody then tries to clean up his act instead of telling her he knows, or trying to get a court order. He just passively hopes Cat will let him in the child’s life without trying to setup visitation or child support. What a weenie.

This is nothing compared to her job. Cat’s job involves her being an “office mom”, and her boss Nana apparently requires her employees to be saints. The whole plot revolves around the fact that Brody takes advantage of Nana’s rules by threatening to tell her employer they had sex. In exchange for staying mum, he hires Cat as his office mom.This does not really matter though because if Nana finds out Cat is pregnant out of wedlock, then Cat’s fired anyway. By the way, this is highly illegal. I don’t think the author did her research on discrimination laws. Or employment in general.

Other ways this job is weird include the following:

  • Comforting employees of other companies
  • Doing cleaning and organizing for the office
  • “Mothering” and offering a place for employees to vent
  • Baking cookies and serving it with milk

I don’t know about you, but I think if an office requires a “mom” like this, then that office has issues or severe under staffing.

Overall, the romance is believable outside of the plot. Brody and Cat seem to enjoy each others’ company, and they are genuinely attracted to each other. They seem to make each other better people, especially Brody, which I like.

Ratings: This is a romance novel so here are the ratings for:
Relationship drama: 5/10
Romantic Development: 5/10
Hot love interest: 7/10
Creativity: 2/10
Plot: 2/10

Overall, I give In the Dark a 5/10. The plot brought down what was a decent romance with stupid choices and a strange career.

Citation:

Burford, P. (1999). In the dark. Retrieved January 27, 2017.

Something Yellow: A Mystery without any Mystery

This is post number 16.

Background: Something Yellow is written by Laura Templeton, and is a stand alone novel. The cover has a picture of pink sneakers on top of a field of yellow daffodils.

Plot: Holly is a banker in Atlanta who moves back home to her small town in the Appalachian mountains. She has returned to help her terminally ill mother in her final months. 13 years ago, Holly’s sister Rachel went missing and her family had never been the same since. She had always blamed her ex-boyfriend Houston for her sister’s disappearance even though no one else thinks he is guilty.

Spoilers: The novel opens with a neighbor’s daughter going missing. Holly and her mother are disturbed as the girl has a similar description to Rachel. Holly tries to adjust to rural life, and becomes friends with the pastor who is also from Atlanta. The girl’s body is found, and at the funeral, Holly confronts Houston about how she still thinks he is responsible for what happened to her sister. Oliver, Holly’s brother, also returns to town to help take care of their mother. Holly investigates background on Houston and discovers that he is not responsible for Rachel’s disappearance. The local psychic tells her to talk to Oliver to find out what happened to Rachel, but Holly is distracted when the man who killed the neighbor girl is found and goes to trial. She starts going out with Houston again, and the psychic reminds her to talk to Oliver. After some holiday celebrations, Holly gets a lead on her sister’s mystery by visiting her former basketball coach. He confesses that he helped Oliver bury her sister 13 years ago in exchange for keeping his secret of molesting boys, including molesting Oliver. She confronts Oliver who confesses that Rachel fell and died, and he buried her because he didn’t know what else to do. He drives away, and then gets in a fatal accident. A short while later, Holly’s mother dies. Holly returns to Atlanta after breaking up with Houston, but he shows up at her door and whisks her away back to their hometown.

Passage:

I threw the term paper on the ground and jumped into the car quickly, before he could reach me. He ran after me as I backed down the driveway . Through the windshield, I saw him yelling. His open mouth made a black O against the twilight. I sped up, my tires throwing gravel into the air. I drove out of Bushy Creek faster than I’d ever driven in my life. The car fishtailed on the dirt road, and I nearly lost control as I rounded a sharp curve that ran right by the river. I didn’t slow down. Right then I’d just as soon die, be sucked down under the fast-moving waters of Bushy Creek, be knocked unconscious against the rocks, my car shattered to bits.

Opinion: When it comes to mysteries, I usually expect the main character to have some sort of drive to solve the mystery, but Holly just lets information fall into her lap rather than seek it out. There should also be a sense of danger or urgency to drive the story along, but the only motivation the characters had were to find closure for themselves. A few twists caught me by surprise like the coach being a pedophile, but having the psychic repeatedly tell Holly to talk to her brother took away the any shock factor the ending may have had.This made the story drag on and feel more like a lifetime movie on paper than a true mystery.

The romance between Holly and Houston felt forced, especially the end when he just shows up and she jumps into his arms like everything is okay. This is compounded by the fact that none of the characters are particularly interesting or do anything except die. Speaking of which, Oliver’s death actually made me laugh because of how abrupt it was; I mean, one minute he is confessing this horrible turn of fate with Rachel and how he was molested, and the next he just gets in a car and kills himself by crashing into a tree with no further explanation or pleas for forgiveness.

Overall the writing is not terrible. There is decent pacing, and the use of first person is used correctly although not to its highest potential to create suspense.

Ratings: This is a mystery novel so the ratings are as follows.

Surprises/Twists: 7/10

Problem Solving/ Finding Info: 2/10

Sense of Danger/ Urgency: 2/10

Creativity: 3/10

Plot: 4/10

Overall, I give this book a 3/10. The lack of drive for anyone to find out what happened to Rachel dragged out what little story there was, and having flat characters only made the problem worse.

Citation: Templeton, Laura (2013-09-28). Something Yellow (p. 148). Cup of Tea Books, an imprint of PageSpring Publishing. Kindle Edition.

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.