Friday, 4 December 2015

Shadows at Sunset by Tonya Royston

Title: Shadows at Sunset
Author: Tonya Royston
Series: Sunset Trilogy #1
Genre: YA, Romance, Mystical, ????
Source: ARC for honest Review
Pages: 304 pages
Rating: 2.5 stars

Available at:

Blurb: (via Goodreads)
She never thought her ability to communicate with wild animals was anything more than a unique gift. But this gift is tied to a long history of secrets that threaten to shatter her one chance at true love…

Laken Sumner isn’t your average teenager. Ever since she realized that wild animals could hear her thoughts, she’s spent more time in the woods with them than with other children. Even her wolf is a better friend to her than most people. She trusts him—so much so that she follows him out into the wilderness in the middle of the night to find a lost little boy. But the boy’s disappearance is only the beginning.

The one bright spot in her life is Noah Lawson, the handsome new town deputy. Charming and mature, he almost seems too good to be true. Then she meets Xander Payne, the new boy at school, who seems to know something about her. But how could that be possible?

As strange things begin to happen in her sleepy New England town, Laken wonders if Xander has something to do with it. Or is it just a coincidence that danger targets her soon after he arrives? 

My Review:

I have never felt more conflicted about a book before. I actually liked this book, I liked the characters the premise, but there also a lot of things that needed work. So bare with me as I try and work this out.

Let's start with the fact that this is not a series, it's a serial. For those who don't know the difference, a series is one large plot that encompasses the entire series, with subplots for each novel that act as a driving force for that overarching plot. Now, that's a rough definition, it varies a bit with longer series that exceed 4 novels, but at the end of each novel, something is resolved, even if there is a cliff hanger at the end. A serial is made up of several parts that when put together make one long novel (a great example of this is the Beastly Tales by MJ Haag). Serials don’t have to resolve anything, they can stop at any point in the larger story. At the end of this novel there was no resolution, there was no explanation to the events of the novel thus far, it just suddenly ends... So it's a serial. This was slightly frustrating to me because I was anticipating a novel and I found myself extremely frustrated that there was no explaining going on. I'm still not sure if this is a werewolf book, or what the mystical element to the novel is. If I had one major problem with this part of the serial, it's that I gained nothing from the book other than learning who the characters were. I don't even know what the conflict is yet. This was a major problem for me.

My other issue was that I strongly felt that the novel needed to go through some kind of beta reader or editor. While I found no grammatical issues, the writing was over descriptive and the dialogue was forced in a lot of areas, especially in the beginning. There was a lot more telling than there was showing, and I felt that the author needed to have a little more confidence in the reader being able to paint images on their own without descriptions and explanations being shoved down their throat. It was hard to get into the book, and if I weren’t reading this book in exchange for a review, I would have just put it down. I'm glad I didn't, I'm glad I pushed through it, because there is actually a story in there that has so much potential.

The only thing this novel did was really introduced the characters and beginning of the rising action of the story. Even here I was a little disappointed because even though she used the whole book for this purpose (304 pages people), a lot of the characters are really static. The only developed character is the main character Laken, Xavier was slightly more developed than the rest too. The reason this happened is because the author kept cutting off scenes! She would introduce a scene, like when Noah comes over to the Summer’s house for dinner for the first time, and she starts the scene, introduces some cute dialogue, then ends it after a cute moment. You don’t actually get to see what happens at dinner, and that would have been a great moment to get to know not only Noah more, but Laken’s parents more as well. This is just one example, but this was a common pattern all throughout the novel.

Okay, I know I have criticism for all of the major points of a novel (Plot, writing, character development), but hear me out. There was so much potential for this book. Despite everything that was lacking in this book… and a lot is lacking… I still kind of liked it! Keep in mind that I am under no obligation to say this. I received this book for an honest review, and I have never held back when I have read a book for an author that was terrible, but this book wasn’t terrible. Do I think that this book needed to go through some kind of secondary reader before being published? Yes. Does it need tons of work? Yes. But under all of that there is a story worth telling. I got to scratch the surface of that in the first part of the serial, but there is much more hiding under there. If you are willing to take a chance and read this book, try to see what I see, then I suggest you go for it. Maybe wait until the second part (is out in February though so you can connect the two and you can maybe discover what the plot of this novel is really about. Also, Twenty-five cents for every printed and ebook copy sold will be donated to the Ian Somerhalder Foundation. So, you know, another reason to chance it!

So my final thoughts? This book wasn’t ready to be published, but with some alteration, it could be something really amazing. It has such a cool premise, who doesn’t love a girl who can communicate with animals? But everything around that premise needs some serious work.

Saturday, 21 November 2015

(Dis)content by Melissa Haag

Title: (Dis)content
Author: Melissa Haag
Series: Judgment of Six Series #5
Genre: Romance, Werewolf, Fantasy, Adventure
Source: ARC
Pages: 324 pages
Rating: 5 stars!

Available at:

Blurb: (via Goodreads)
I hate. I thought I hated before the letter, before the werewolves, but now I understand that was nothing more than a chip on my shoulder. The urbat took what was mine. They will pay.

Isabelle leads a very normal life...for an emotional syphon. If not for Ethan and his bar, she would have lost her sanity long ago. But everything changes with the crash of her fighting cage and a man who transforms into a wolf. There’s something about Carlos—when he’s not growling at her—that makes her do things she wouldn’t normally do, like sigh and daydream.

Attraction aside, she is faced with the very real evidence that werewolves and urbat exist, and the urbat are after her. And the only way she can keep Ethan safe is to join with the werewolves and Carlos. It’s a race against time to stop a war, fight for love, and find the last Judgement

My Review:

First of all, if you have not read anything my Melissa Haag, then I am very sorry to say that you are missing something in your life and you don’t even realize it. She is such a wonderful writer, and since she first contacted me in the Winter of 2012 with her first two books, she has managed to publish over 10 novels of varying length. Her Judgment of Six series is by far some of her best writing, and I was ecstatic when I received the ARC for (Dis)content. If you would like to read my reviews of the previous books in the series, please click the title of the following books to be redirected there! #1- Hope(less), #1.5- Clay’sHope, #2- (Mis)fortune, #3-  (Un)wise, #4- (Un)bidden

If you have read my previous reviews on these books, then you know I have been excited for (Dis)content for a while now. Isabelle seemed like she was going to be badass like Bethi in (Un)wise, and I was excited for the Judgments to start coming together and figure out their destiny. I am so very happy to announce that (Dis)content did not disappoint me in any way.

Character wise, Isabelle was a fantastically strong character, both physically and emotionally. She did remind me a lot of Bethi and it is no surprise that the two find a fast friendship in each other. Her Judgment might be Peace, but Isabelle brought some much needed fire and attitude to mix up the group dynamic. What was interesting is that this book brought a full human into the mix! The dynamic between the girls, the wolves, and the single human was fascinating to explore and watch unravel. As for Carlos, it was interesting to see the more animalistic side of one of our male protagonists. Don’t get me wrong, we see Clay in his wolf form in most of Hope(less), but seeing the animalistic urges in Carlos’ human body (like how chasing her became a turn on), was a new aspect that we didn’t really see in any of our previous male love interests thus far.

Now if we are talking plot, this book was by far my favorite because the adventure truly beings in this novel. Previously, we were taking our time learning about the characters and their stories mostly over lapped with each other, now however, time is starting to crunch and bringing all the Judgments together has become more important than ever. While we were learning about Isabelle, and her romance with Carlos was jumping its hurdles, we also get to see the gang do some traveling, figure out some next steps, and make a huge decision that impacts the novel’s world in a major way. Isabelle didn’t have the option to relax and accept her new life like the other girls, things were all systems go from start to finish… however, I think that suited Isabelle’s personality perfectly.

Melissa Haag’s writing captivates you from the moment you open the book to the very last page where you find yourself eager to learn what happens next. (Dis)content has been my favorite novel in the series so far, and waiting until the series’ conclusion in winter 2016 seems a life time away. Thankfully, we will probably have at least one companion book to read somewhere between now and then, and Emmitt’s version of the events in (Mis)fortune will be fun to discover. This was the easiest 5 stars I have ever given, and I can’t wait to read what happens next.

Sunday, 14 June 2015

Cold Burn of Magic

Title: Cold Burn of Magic
Author: Jennifer Estep
Series: Black Blade #1
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Magic, Swords, Romance
Source: Kindle
Pages: 368 pages
Rating: 4 stars

Available at:

Blurb: (via Goodreads)
There Be Monsters Here. . .

It's not as great as you'd think, living in a tourist town that's known as "the most magical place in America." Same boring high school, just twice as many monsters under the bridges and rival Families killing each other for power.

I try to keep out of it. I've got my mom's bloodiron sword and my slightly illegal home in the basement of the municipal library. And a couple of Talents I try to keep quiet, including very light fingers and a way with a lock pick.

But then some nasty characters bring their Family feud into my friend's pawn shop, and I have to make a call--get involved, or watch a cute guy die because I didn't. I guess I made the wrong choice, because now I'm stuck putting everything on the line for Devon Sinclair. My mom was murdered because of the Families, and it looks like I'm going to end up just like her. . 

My Review:
This book had been nagging me to read it for a while now. My Kindle knows that I love Jennifer Estep, so it just kept on recommending it to me. So, even though my TBR list is ridiculously long and has several books ahead of it, I finally caved and read Cold Burn of Magic.

Have y’all read Estep’s Elemental Assassin series? Because if you have, reading Cold Burn of Magic might feel like a bit of a déjà vu. You have the badass female lead with a secret heart of gold that has rare and powerful magical abilities combined with her natural bad ass fighting skills. After her mothers murder, she is driven to destroy her murder while being cared for by a surrogate father figure. The antagonist for the overall series is basically the equally powerful badass mob boss who killed her mother. Sounds familiar right? All that has REALLY changed is the age of our heroine and the magical word she was thrust in… and the lack of a smart assed best friend/ partner in crime (which we MIGHT have here, but we will have to wait until book two to figure it out).

Now, saying that, you don’t fix what ain’t broke. There is a reason this has worked for Estep for so long, because it is awesome and it works! So, I can’t give points for originality here, but what we can’t give there is made up in so many other areas. Such as our characters! Character wise we hit everywhere on the spectrum. We have our resident badass, a no nonsense mother, a bleeding heart love interest, a motor mouth, a cocky SOB, a crooked father figure, star-crossed lovers…. You get where I am going with this, right? With some authors, this could be a bad thing. Characters could get blended together, or some may be left under developed because of page length constraints. I am so happy to say that is definitely not the case with Cold Burn of Magic. Despite there being numerous main, and secondary characters, everyone comes out clearly defined, unique, and properly developed given how much they appear in this first novel of the series.

Looking at the plot, you can’t go wrong here. Information was given at a even, subtle pace and I never felt as though information was being thrown at me. You can tell that Estep plans out her plot lines thoroughly because minor details in the beginning of the book that appear to be unimportant, become back later on to further the plot along. And not only is she plotting out this book, but she is setting up the plot lines for future books. I have absolutely nothing to complain about here. Of course, Estep never had a problem with her writing. While this novel is targeted at a slightly younger audience, Estep maintains her mature writing skills throughout the novel.

Overall, this really was a great start to a series. It didn’t feel as though too much time was spent on developing the world, the characters were developed nicely, and I was very pleased at the younger target audience. This books only real fault is that it is basically just a recycled version of Elemental Assassin.

Friday, 12 June 2015

Depravity by M.J. Haag

Title: Depravity: A Beauty and the Beast Novel
Author: M. J. Haag
Series: The Beastly Tales #1
Genre: New Adult/ Adult, Fantasy, Fairy Tale, Romance, Magic
Source: ARC
Pages: 148
Rating: 5 stars

Available at:

Blurb: (via Goodreads)
A classic fairy tale with a new twist, the Beauty and the Beast saga begins with Depravity... 

Sixteen year old Benella is concerned with two things–avoiding the two village boys who torment her and scrounging for food to help feed her family. Unfortunately, the best wild fruit and vegetables are near the walls of the estate, a dark misty place inhabited by an unforgiving beast.

When her tormentors lock her behind the massive gates, Benella knows her fate is sealed. Yet, the fate isn’t one she expects. Her encounter with the beast starts a bizarre cycle of bargaining for her freedom, a freedom the beast seems determined to see her lose.

Note: Intended for mature readers due to sexual situations, violence (attempted rape), and moderate language

My Review:
Let me start by saying that I received this book in exchange for an honest review. This was Melissa’s first go around at publishing a more mature novel, which is just a polite way of saying that this book contains some more explicit nature and sexual content. I wasn’t sure how I was going to feel going from the more teenage writing you see in Touch or her Judgment of Six Series, to a book that describes some pretty sexual acts, but Melissa has done a fantastic job retelling the classic and iconic story of Beauty and the Beast. This short book was just part 1 of a 3 part series, with each book being released within a month of each other.

Now let’s get to the good stuff, the characters. Here, Melissa really did her research. Depravity was the perfect blend of the classic French tale by Jeanne-Marie Leprince de Beaumont and the iconic retelling by Disney. One of my favourite characters was the Baker, who reminded me a lot of Gaston and yet was a very minor character in the scheme of things. (spoiler) He was a bit of a creep, but a harmless creep. All bark and no bite. While he wants Benella, he never does anything to physically obtain her despite having the opportunity to. (end spoiler). I also loved how Melissa brought back Benella’s (who you might know as Belle, or the Beauty) two extremely selfish and vain sisters. Unlike Cinderella, these sisters are her blood, which makes they way they treat her so much worse. Benella herself was the Belle we all know and love. A sweet girl who loves two things unconditionally: books, and her father. Her loyalty to her family, even the sisters that mistreat her, was beautiful. We didn’t get to see too much of the Beast in part 1 of the series, but what we do see of him is fantastic. He is the grumpy, short-tempered beast we all know and love, but you get to see glimpses of his softer side… even if they are interrupted by his growling temper. All of the characters, no matter how minor or major, are excellently well written. You really grow to love some while hating others. Part 1 was mostly spent rounded out each character and really setting up what is to come in part 2.

As for the writing… well, Melissa never did a problem with her writing. She can articulate a vast variety of emotions and feeling to her readers within a short paragraph. This fact has not changed when she switched over to a different target audience. Within a very short span (only 150 pages!) she really sets up the plot for the next 2 instalments without the reader ever getting bored. Every sentence was interesting, every character was fascinating, and every little tidbit Melissa added to the widely known tale was captivating. I was completely absorbed inside this novel the entire time reading it, and when it was finished, I was left desperate for more.

I think you are picking up what I am laying down here. This book was fantastic. I would recommend it to anyone I felt was mature enough to handle the sexual content described. Let me tell you, if you love Beauty and the Beast, you will LOVE Depravity. An extremely easy 5 stars to give! This book comes out on June 16, 2015, and the second part, Deceit, is already out on amazon for preorder and will be released on July 21, 2015.

If you want to know more about Melissa Haag’s more Young Adult writing you can look at my reviews for Touch, or the books in her Judgment of Six series/ Companion Novels: Hope(less)/ Clay’s Hope, (Mis)fortune, (Un)wise, (Un)bidden)