Tag Archives: KDP

Review of Ascension (Shadow and Light Trilogy, #1), by Felicity Heaton

AscensionI downloaded a copy of Felicity Heaton‘s Ascension from the Amazon free list.

Description from Goodreads:
A witch on the verge of achieving phenomenal power, Lealandra must turn to her half-breed demon ex-lover Taig for protection from the dark force that is after her and also from her own magic.

With her Counter-Balance dead and her coven against her, Taig’s blood and power is the only thing that can help her control her magic and survive the ascension and gain the strength to defeat her enemy.

Old feelings come flooding back as Taig allows her into his world and Lealandra finds herself fighting not only for survival but to win his broken heart again and heal the pain in their past. Can he forgive her for walking out on him all those years ago and will he ever believe her when she tells him that he’s not a monster but the man that she loves? 

Review:
Eh, wish I’d left this one on the shelf. While the idea was an interesting one, the actual execution is a mess and frankly Lealandra was the kind of heroine I always want to slap and the gender relations are so outdated and disgusting I almost couldn’t get past them.

Let me start with some examples of Lealandra’s behavior. She returns to her ex when she needs his protection. She then kisses him, but gets pissed off when he basically says, “I’ll only help you if you have sex with me” (which also makes him a big dick, even after Lea’s internal monologue says he’s only saying it to get back at her for leaving) but spends the whole book giving him very obvious mixed signals (because she really loves him and wants to have sex with him, despite refusing). She gets jealous of him speaking to another woman, so she throws herself into obvious danger and gets herself drugged and almost assaulted, requiring rescue. She get’s angry at the bad guy and then charges in to fight him, so unprepared she literally didn’t even put clothes on (yes, naked). Again, needs rescuing while thinking, “I wish I’d listened to Taig.” She allows Taig to constantly talk about possessing her, owning her, releasing custody of her, taking care of her, protecting, etc. She lived with a man for six years who didn’t “allow” her to do something she needed. Her impending ascension means that she isn’t able to control her own body or sexuality. (God, that is such a common theme in romance books and it always pisses me off.) She’s 32 bloody years old, but acts and is treated like a child.

Basically, Lea’s character, which we’re told is strong can, be summed up in this disgusting quote

Usually she was strong, but around him, she felt as though she didn’t need to be. She could be the woman she was inside, without fear of him thinking that she was weak. He would protect her.

Because apparently she can’t simultaneously be the woman inside and strong? Because obviously no true woman would want to be strong when there’s a man available. Blerg.

And this is all highlighted by the fact that she basically doesn’t do anything but cower and lust over Taig for the whole book. Even defeating the villain, who we’re told is weaker than her (but male) requires this:

It was his power that allowed her to do this, that would see her end this fight and become the victor. It was his strength all along that had helped her, through both the ascension and also through what lay ahead. She would always need him and his power, his support and guidance, but most of all his love and devotion.

Blerg. Because god forbid she both have her own strength, power and skill and be a woman!

Then there is the actual writing. It could have been ok, a bit purple but readable, if it wasn’t so damned repetitive. We are told the same things over and over and over again. Then those same things are contradicted over and over and over again. Just so we can be told or shown the opposite again. The internal monologues are endless and always focus on sex or the other person’s body, usually when the character is in pain or running/fighting for their life. Sure, his sexy abs are just what I’m thinking about when trying not to die.

The plot is incredibly weak, mostly because there is sooooo much sex, talking about sex, fantasizing about sex, refusing to have sex or, well, sex (most of which was of the hammer and nail variety. He basically just gracelessly pounds her and apparently that’s erotic and gets her off) that there is almost no room left for plot or character development. There is one side character, who gets mentioned repeatedly throughout the book, but isn’t introduced or explained until 80% in. Similarly, there is no build up to the final fight. Suddenly, with almost no explanation, they have a team fighting with them and are in the middle of it.

Very poor. I have no desire to continue the series, thank you very much, even if the hints for book two started getting dropped at about page 10.

Review of Living Dead Girl & Stalking Dead (The Vampire Hunter #1-2), by S. C. Reynolds

I picked up S. C. Reynolds’ Living Dead Girl and Stalking Dead (book 1 & 2 of The Vampire Hunter series) from the Amazon free list. I believe the whole series is perma-free. (At least it was still free at the time of posting these reviews, a year after originally downloading.)

Living Dead GirlDescription from Goodreads:
When Aurora Stone awakens to find she’s been buried underground, she frantically claws her way to the surface. But the nightmare has only just begun; she was buried in her own grave and has been resurrected on the one year anniversary of her death.

Aurora immediately seeks the help of her best friend, Henry, who is no longer the awkward sixteen year old she remembers from a year ago. Henry is tall, muscular, with piercing blue eyes. 

But Henry isn’t the only one who’s captured Aurora’s attention. Lucas, a sexy vampire, is watching her every move. He’s been ordered to send her back to the grave, but he is immediately attracted to Aurora and can’t bring himself to re-kill her. 

As Aurora struggles with her new un-dead body, she must make a decision between the boy next door and the vampire who has nothing to lose. And time is running out – plagued by blackouts she can’t control, Aurora knows her days may be numbered. She was brought back for something epic, but will she get the chance to find out what?

Review:
Run, run away as fast as you can. You want nothing to do with this book. It’s horrible. The main character is a shallow, mindless, boy obsessed nitwit that is so uninteresting I barely managed to finish the book. If this had been the only problem I had with the book I probably would have shrugged it off as a weak YA, but it’s not.

This book is flat…I mean FLAT. There is no emotional resonance or peak anywhere in it. Example: Aurora has just mysteriously risen from the grave. Does she freak out? Search for a reason? Show any evidence that she’s been dead? Nope, she gets upset that the boy she liked is now dating her friend. A frightening vampire kidnaps her and informs her that he’d been told to kill her. Does she get mad or frightened? Nope, she worries about what to wear. She is told that her vampire friend was an admitted killer at one time. Does she get nervous? Nope, she’s mad he didn’t kiss her. A werewolf attacks and almost kills her. Does she get the shakes and go into shock? Nope, she has a makeup session.

There is just nothing realistic about Aurora’s rising from the dead. Even down to the rising. Look at the cover of the book. See that dirty, grime incrusted hand? Yeah, she’s supposed to have dug her way out of the grave. But when she gets to Henry’s house, she and her pretty pale pink dress are clean. So clean, in fact, that she even chooses to wear it again. How did she manage that?

Time passes that isn’t accounted for. Aurora pulls the cliché TSTL storm-out-and-get-lost-and-endangered shtick when angry. She makes no effort to figure out what happened to her, even when it’s obvious that people around her have the information. Assumptions are made and treated as fact (that she’s a living dead girl, as opposed to a vampire, zombie, etc) based on nothing. The same belief is shared by several people with no sharing of information. She managed to go clothes shopping despite being dead for a year and having no discernible source of income or credit. She’s supposed to be hiding in someone’s house for several weeks without them noticing. People get stumbling, hiccuping drunk on three beers and seventeen year olds somehow manage to go on quick beer runs. The younger sister is horribly slut-shamed because her skirt is too short. There is the start of a love triangle. The book is from Aurora’s 1st person POV for 25 chapters and then we randomly get a chapter from someone else’s POV, before going back to her. (It’s jarring.) The editing needs attention and the author uses ridiculous, contrived occurrences to artificially drag out reveals.

Basically, I found very little to enjoy here. I’ll admit that the writing was fine, but the story is undeveloped, lacklustre and a time-waster. However, I read it because I’m doing a reading challenge in which the second book in this series factors, so I’m committed to at least the next book in the series before I can pretend I never read it. *sigh* I will persevere.

Stalking DeadDescription from Goodreads:
In the second installment of The Vampire Hunter series, Aurora finds herself getting dangerously close to Lucas, the sexy vampire who was hired to send her back to the grave. As Lucas fights his own attraction to Aurora, he can’t bring himself to follow through on his orders to kill her. Instead, he tries to help Aurora and her best friend Henry solve the mystery behind her resurrection. They dig up her grave to find out what item of hers was placed there when she was brought back to life.

As it becomes increasingly obvious that Henry thinks of Aurora as more than a friend, she is torn between the two guys. As much as she is drawn to the mysterious Lucas, she is also deeply attracted to Henry. But deciding what she wants will have to wait – when Lucas didn’t follow orders, someone else was hired to do the job. And the new hunters on the scene have a history with Lucas. They would like nothing more than to kill Lucas and send Aurora back to her grave – permanently.

Review:
Soooo, yeah….this wasn’t an improvement on the first book. Nope, still annoyed me at almost every turn. I still found Aurora to be a vapid, useless, unpleasant heroine. I still found the love triangle contrived and infuriating. I still found both heroes substanceless.

The main problem I seem to have with this series is that a girl rose from the dead. She’s being hunted by supernatural assassins. “Agencies” (don’t ask me what that means or entails) all over the world know about her “case” (don’t ask what constitutes a case). She has a mysterious medium who pops up with timely advice on occasion and a vampire lusting after her (and vice versa) but the book is essentially dedicated to a weak love triangle, Henry’s basketball practice and whether his father is having an affair or not.

Seriously, given everything that’s supposedly going on, I don’t really care about her adolescent obsession over who she has or hasn’t kissed (even as YA). I sure don’t care who his father may or may not be kissing. And the whole, ‘he might be having sex with a man, thus his whole life and marriage must be a lie, since he obviously can’t also be attracted to women’ instant assumption is insulting to the extreme. Talk about jumping to conclusions and making simplistic judgements. Ugh.

Aurora never presses on important points. People all around her have information she should want. I mean, how she died is worth pressing for.  But she never does. She just lets it all slide. Useless!

I have the rest of the series and if reading it wasn’t so painful, I might be interested in knowing the cause of the ‘living dead girl.’ But I just can’t face any more of the dull, flat recitation of daily events.

Review of Beneath the Veil #1 & 2, by Aimee Roseland

I downloaded the first and second novella of Aimee Roseland‘s Beneath the Veil series (A Taste for Moonlight and A Kiss Beneath the Veil) from the Amazon free list.

A Kiss Beneath the Veil Description from Goodreads:
Daphne is working as a medium in a world altered by the lifting of the Veil, when the monsters drew back the curtain and revealed their true nature.

The worst part hadn’t been finding out that her gorgeous new boyfriend was a vampire, it was finding out that Daphne herself was one of the monsters.

Now she’s a ghost whisperer, trying to track down a serial killer while hiding from her ex and his proclamations of everlasting love. Because when a thousand year old vampire says “everlasting”, he really means it. And Daphne is afraid that true love is a myth. Of course, the newlywed bogeymen next door would beg to differ.

Review:  **spoiler alert**
The writing here was fine and I didn’t notice any problematic editing. For those seeking a guaranteed HEA, this is probably a great book to pick up. Unfortunately, it was a little too squinky for me.

The whole premise is that a woman finds out that the guy she’s been dating for two weeks is a vampire, so she bolts. He then stalks her as she moves several times, such that she is afraid to leave her home after dark, for 5 years. Yes, that’s two weeks dating and five years stalking. And apparently she was smart to stay indoors all that time, because the first time she finds herself accidentally out at night he kidnaps her and whisks her away. Creeeeepyyy.

It must be true love though, because within roughly half an hour (if that long) they’re falling into bed and she’s thinking this:

“Yes! I dreamed of you every night.” She admitted softly. “Please, please, I need you,” she said, realizing then how much she’d missed him. How much she’d regretted leaving him, and how glad she was that the choice to return to him had been taken out of her stubborn hands.

Bergh! Then within 24 hours she’s in love and within 48 they’re getting married and converting her to vampirism so they can be together forever. Whiplash!

And her fear makes no sense anyway. Within three weeks of leaving him, all the supernaturals came out and she discovered she was a medium. So, if she’s a monster herself, why was it such a big deal that he was too?

Anyhow, Isaac was sweet (if you ignore the fact that he stood outside her home every night for five years–not particularly believable to boot) and I didn’t hate Daphne. The mystery was paper thin, all the ‘I love you, bla bla, bla’ got too saccharine for me and (being a novella) it was all too rushed for my preferences. But for those who are into this sort of read, I imagine it’s a pretty good one. It also really is a stand-alone novella, which is noteworthy in its rarity these days.

A Taste For Moonlight

Description from Goodreads:
Anne knew she wasn’t the kind of girl a hot werewolf would go for. After all, she wasn’t a fresh-faced twenty-year old. (How long ago was that birthday, again?)  She wasn’t a virgin. (Yep, those two gorgeous boys were definitely hers.) And she wasn’t shopping in the junior’s section at good ol’ Tar-jay. (Real women have curves though, right? Um…right?)

But even after all her helpful pointing out of these very obvious reasons why he shouldn’t fall for her…that’s exactly what happened.

Thomas is working at the Red Wolf in the hopes of finding a woman willing to overlook the fact that he’s “other”, and what better place to search than at a werewolf strip-club?

Review:
This was ok in a sweet kind of way. It had some admirable points. I liked that Thomas, despite being a huge werewolf, was unquestionably a nice guy—no alpha assholes here! He wooed her by doing things like taking her kid’s fundraiser packet to work and selling cookies for him. That was super refreshing.

And honestly, the whole book is worth reading for this passage:

Oh well. She actually liked all the other Anne’s she’d become. She was a darn good mom and one hell-of-a baker. Chubby Anne…well, she was nice to hug, as her guileless sons often said. So she was okay too.

I love that Anne accepted herself. I did think that the book compromised this same self-acceptance theme by hinting that it’s ok or Thomas to love Anne for Anne, despite her body, but if he’s attracted to her for being heavy (as in that’s his preferred body type) he’d be a ‘chubby chaser’ and that would be insulting to her. That still makes ‘fat’ shameful, even if it simultaneously says ‘fat people get love too.’ But the sentiment is nice.

So, the story is sweet. The characters are mostly sweet. Unfortunately, the book is so rushed that it’s almost a waste of time. It’s insta-love, insta-relationship, insta-everything really. Even after having her children kidnapped, forced into the horrible position of being a prize in a breeding contest (which ran completely counter to the whole idea of mates and made little sense in the story anyway) and being turning into a werewolf, Anne instantly forgives. Bah! There is no time for anything to progress or develops and it would have been significantly better as a novel than a novella.

As a plus, I didn’t realise that this was a second in a series and read it first. Until I went to review it, I never suspected it wasn’t a stand alone, so it would be fine to read as one.