Book Review: Black Dog (Black Dog #1) by Rachel Neumeier

Book Review: Black Dog (Black Dog #1) by Rachel NeumeierBlack Dog by Rachel Neumeier
Series: Black Dog #1
Published by Strange Chemistry on February 6, 2014
Genres: Fantasy, Paranormal, Urban Fantasy, Young Adult
Pages: 448
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
Goodreads
3 Stars
Natividad is Pure, one of the rare girls born able to wield magic. Pure magic can protect humans against the supernatural evils they only half-acknowledge – the blood kin or the black dogs. In rare cases – like for Natividad’s father and older brother – Pure magic can help black dogs find the strength to control their dark powers.

But before Natividad’s mother can finish teaching her magic their enemies find them. Their entire village in the remote hills of Mexico is slaughtered by black dogs. Their parents die protecting them. Natividad and her brothers must flee across a strange country to the only possible shelter: the infamous black dogs of Dimilioc, who have sworn to protect the Pure.

In the snowy forests of Vermont they are discovered by Ezekiel Korte, despite his youth the strongest black dog at Dimilioc and the appointed pack executioner. Intrigued by Natividad he takes them to Dimilioc instead of killing them.

Now they must pass the tests of the Dimilioc Master. Alejandro must prove he can learn loyalty and control even without his sister’s Pure magic. Natividad’s twin Miguel must prove that an ordinary human can be more than a burden to be protected. And even at Dimilioc a Pure girl like Natividad cannot remain unclaimed to cause fighting and distraction. If she is to stay she must choose a black dog mate.

But, first, they must all survive the looming battle.

Today I have a twofer: a review of BLACK DOG by Rachel Neumeier and an interview with the author. Be sure to check out both posts, because I asked Rachel some questions about the book, including where the idea for BLACK DOG came from!

Book Review:

BLACK DOG is a werewolf book, albeit a very different type of werewolf book from the usual sort. Rachel Neumeier’s black dogs are more like hellhounds, the dog side constantly fighting the human side for control. Black dogs transform at will, whenever they need to fight, prove their dominance, or when emotions get too high. It takes great strength of will to control the black dog shadow. There also are the traditional werewolves that follow the call of the moon, but they aren’t as powerful as black dogs.

Told from the alternating perspectives of Alejandro, a black dog, and his sister, Natividad, a Pure, BLACK DOG is a book that unfolds slowly. Alejandro, Natividad, and her twin, Miguel, are Mexican, and it was great to see some diversity in a YA book. There are some Spanish words and phrases sprinkled throughout the book; most have context translations or are easy to figure out.

The siblings are on the run from a dangerous black dog, Vonhausel, who killed their parents and wants to kill them. Their only hope is the Dimilioc pack, the last remaining civilized group of black dogs. But with only Natividad being worth anything to the pack, Alejandro must prove his control of his black dog, and Miguel, a human, must also show he’s useful. When Vonhausel shows up and tries to wage war, the siblings must help Dimilioc, each in their own way, because the alternative is death. Or something worse than death, in some cases.

Some readers might be bothered by Natividad being fifteen and expected to mate with one of the black dogs. Natividad is Pure, able to wield magic that can calm the ferocity of the black dogs’ shadows. Usually I would have an issue with that sort of alpha behavior, but I thought the Master of the pack handled it very well — he said no one could touch Natividad until she turned sixteen, and she would have her choice. Natividad didn’t have an issue with it, either. So all the possible mates were respectful, and wanted to protect her. There’s not really any romance in BLACK DOG — Natividad’s future relationship is a side topic. I just wanted to mention it.

Like I said above, BLACK DOG is a slow book. It’s over 400 pages, and I do think it could have been shorter and tighter. There were a lot of phrases repeated in dialogue, over and over, such as “I think” or “you know,” and they did pull me out of the narrative. I’m picky about things like that, though.

In the author’s world, black dogs are known to the public, thanks to the disappearance of vampires and their mindclouding magic of anything supernatural. The vampires and their war with the black dogs happened before the book, and so is offstage, but does have some influence on the events of BLACK DOG. I had some questions that I would have liked answered, but they didn’t really affect my understanding of what was going on.

Aside from that, once I got into the book, I did enjoy piecing the story together and learning about the siblings’ pasts, Vonhausel, and Dimilioc. I really liked the pack dynamics, and watching the black dogs control their shadows. It was also interesting to see regular humans interact with the pack. Natividad’s interactions were the best of all, because she wasn’t afraid of any black dog, knowing they wouldn’t hurt her. So it was fun and different to see a fifteen-year-old be taken seriously, her opinion valued, by the much older pack master.

The end of BLACK DOG does neatly tie up the main story line. I’ll admit, when I got to what I thought was the end, I was like, “No! That’s it?!” But it wasn’t! It’s hard to say anything about the ending, because I don’t want to spoil it, but the real ending was good. Very insightful. And there will be a sequel to BLACK DOG, so the other things I wanted to see, such as who Natividad will choose, and what will happen to Dimilioc, will most likely be addressed in that.

About the author:

Rachel Neumeier started writing fiction to relax when she was a graduate student and needed a hobby unrelated to her research. Prior to selling her first fantasy novel, she had published only a few articles in venues such as The American Journal of Botany. However, finding that her interests did not lie in research, Rachel left academia and began to let her hobbies take over her life instead.

She now raises and shows dogs, gardens, cooks, and occasionally finds time to read. She works part-time for a tutoring program, though she tutors far more students in Math and Chemistry than in English Composition.
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– leeanna

Book Review: Salt (Salt #1) by Danielle Ellison

Book Review: Salt (Salt #1) by Danielle EllisonSalt by Danielle Ellison
Series: Salt #1
Published by Entangled Teen on January 7, 2014
Genres: Paranormal, Romance, Young Adult
Pages: 266
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher
Goodreads
2 Stars
Penelope is a witch, part of a secret society protecting humans from demon attacks. But when she was a child, a demon killed her parents—and stole her magic. Since then, she’s been pretending to be something she’s not, using her sister’s magic to hide her own loss, to prevent being sent away.

When she’s finally given the chance to join the elite demon-hunting force, Penelope thinks that will finally change. With her sister’s help, she can squeeze through the tests and get access to the information she needs to find "her" demon. To take back what was stolen.

Then she meets Carter. He’s cute, smart, and she can borrow his magic, too. He knows her secret—but he also has one of his own.

Suddenly, Penelope’s impossible quest becomes far more complicated. Because Carter’s not telling her everything, and it’s starting to seem like the demons have their own agenda…and they’re far too interested in her.

Book Review:

I’m always on the lookout for witch books, and I thought the summary for SALT sounded interesting. A witch that had her power stolen by a demon? And she has to rely on her family members to draw power so her secret doesn’t get out?

Unfortunately, SALT‘s premise didn’t lead to an awesome book for me. I put it down a few times and almost gave up reading it, because I just couldn’t get into it. I wish I could pinpoint exactly why I didn’t like it; I think it was the combination of slow pacing, so-so characters, and nothing feeling original. The whole book was slow for me. I kept wanting SOMETHING to happen, and whenever something did, I never felt like Penelope or any of the other characters were in danger. The action scenes just didn’t have any zing, even the one that kicked off the book. And even though she kept her lack of powers secret, I never doubted Penelope would succeed at her goal. Everything always just worked out for her, almost too easily.

Penelope also had a habit of doing stupid things even though she knew better, like forgetting salt, which is used to fight demons. Or she left her cellphone in the car while running in the dark at night. Really? Sorry, but it’s a peeve of mine when smart girls do stupid things.

I did like Penelope and Carter’s relationship, because even though he had secrets of his own and wasn’t always forthcoming with information, he was a great guy. It was obvious he cared about Penelope. So that was nice to see, instead of Penelope falling for a bad boy witch.

Ultimately, SALT just wasn’t the book for me. In the end, I wanted MORE from it: more action, more character development, more unique worldbuilding, etc. If you’re in the mood for something fluffy, it might be perfect for you.

Socialize with the author:

Danielle Ellison:
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– leeanna

Book Review: Pretty When They Collide (Pretty When She Dies #0.5) by Rhiannon Frater

Book Review: Pretty When They Collide (Pretty When She Dies #0.5) by Rhiannon FraterPretty When They Collide by Rhiannon Frater
Series: Pretty When She Does #0.5
Published by Self-Published on March 13, 2013
Genres: Horror, LGBT, Paranormal, Romance
Pages: 145
Format: eBook
Source: Own
Goodreads
4 Stars
An exciting new novella set in the world of Pretty When She Dies...

Cassandra is a dhamphir-the offspring of a vampire and mortal woman-and a thief of occult relics.

Aimee is a full-blood witch that is bound to a powerful vampire who traffics in the slavery of supernatural beings.

Both are powerful, lonely, and trapped in the dangerous world of the vampires.

When Cassandra steals a relic from Aimee’s vampire master, he targets her as his next acquisition. What he doesn’t realize is that a chance encounter between Cassandra and Aimee ignited a spark between them that they cannot deny.

To survive, the women must find a way to band together and fight against the ruthless evil that conspires to enslave them forever.

Book Review:

PRETTY WHEN THEY COLLIDE is a novella in the Pretty When She Kills universe, focusing on Cassandra and Aimee. I sped through it, and hope their story continues!

Having not read any of the main books in the series, I was a little worried I’d be lost or confused. I wasn’t, so I’d say PRETTY WHEN THEY COLLIDE would be a good introduction to the universe. There’s enough background to get your bearings, but not so much that the book is full of info dumps.

Cassandra is a dhampir, half-human and half-vampire, and Aimee is a full-blood witch. Cassandra is a kick ass thief, and Aimee is bound to a nasty vampire. Once they meet, sparks fly — literally. Aimee’s magic responds to Cassandra, which is something that’s never happened before. Before long, Aimee wonders if Cassandra is her way to be free of her vampire master, and Cassandra can’t resist helping out a damsel in distress.

The relationship between Cassandra and Aimee is one of the biggest reasons I wanted to read this book. I can think of very few f/f (lesbian) relationships in urban fantasy/paranormal romance. They’re rarer than were-unicorns. I was cheering for them to get together, and although I knew it would happen, I still enjoyed reading the progress of their relationship. I was sad when the novella ended and I had to say goodbye to them.

Aside from the relationship between Cassandra and Aimee, I want to mention the horror aspect of this novella. It’s not disgusting, full of gore and guts, but psychological, stomach-twisting horror. Frank, Aimee’s vampire master, is a real … douchebag. Yeah, I can’t believe I’m using that word in a review, but he is. Let’s add in creepy and sadistic, and you have a worthy villain for Cassandra.

Socialize with the author:

Rhiannon Frater:
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– leeanna

Book Review: Ruined (The Eternal Balance #1) by Jus Accardo

Book Review: Ruined (The Eternal Balance #1) by Jus AccardoRuined by Jus Accardo
Series: The Eternal Balance #1
Published by Entangled Embrace on December 30, 2013
Genres: New Adult, Paranormal, Romance
Pages: 325
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher
Goodreads
3 Stars
Hell is looking for a way to break loose…

Jax lost the genetic lottery. Descended from Cain, the world's first murderer, he's plagued by a curse that demands violence in exchange for his happiness. He left everything behind, including the girl he loved, but thriving on the pain of others is lonely… And it's killing him.

After a series of heartbreaking losses, Samantha put rubber to pavement and headed for college as fast as her clunker could carry her. But she can't outrun her problems. When an attack at school drives her back home, she's thrown into the path of a past—and a guy—she's been trying to forget.

Sam strains Jax's control over his darkness, but running isn't an option this time. Someone—or, something—followed her home from school: a ruthless monster with a twisted plan centuries in the making. Forced together to survive, and fighting an attraction that could destroy them both, Jax and Sam must stop a killer bent on revenge.

Book Review:

RUINED is the story of Jax and Sam, best friends and would-be lovers kept apart by Jax’s demon. Yup, I said demon. Jax is a descendent of Cain, the world’s first murderer, and he’s cursed by a demon as a result. The demon feeds on violence, and hates Jax’s brother, Chase, so Jax left town three years ago, leaving Sam and his family behind to save them.

But when Jax comes back to say goodbye to his dying uncle, he gets thrown into a mess with Sam. Minutes after their first meeting in years they’re in a car accident when Sam’s brakes don’t work. The action doesn’t let up after that, and what starts out as tension-filled banter turns into a story of good and evil. Jax and Sam’s relationship, which goes back and forth as Jax tries to keep Sam safe from his demon, is a big part of the book. But so is the demon storyline, which turns out to have much more importance than I originally thought it would. I’m really curious to see where the author will take that part of it, because I enjoyed her take on demons and good versus evil.

RUINED is told in alternating viewpoints from Jax and Sam, which allowed me to get inside both of their heads. Sam is a character I really liked, because she doesn’t break down when bad stuff happens to her. And let me tell you, lots of bad stuff happens to her. But she doesn’t let it get to her — she just keeps going, and tries to cope as best she can. Jax is a sweet combination of a bad guy and a softie, a guy who has a good reason to be bad. The further away he keeps loved ones, the less chance his demon will hurt them.

The chemistry between Jax and Sam is super strong, and there’s a ton of romantic tension. There were a few times where I wanted to tell them to just get on with it already! But once they do, it’s definitely worth the wait.

The ending of RUINED did disappoint me a bit, because there’s a lot of buildup to it… and then it’s over. I expected more, but as RUINED is the first in a series, I’m sure more will come in subsequent books. I also had trouble connecting with the characters at first, which I think was due to the author’s writing style. I did get used to it eventually, and I’d definitely try another Jus Accardo book.

Socialize with the author:

Jus Accardo:
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– leeanna

Book Review: Six (Sundancer #1) by Rachel Robinson

Book Review: Six (Sundancer #1) by Rachel RobinsonSix by Rachel Robinson
Series: Sundancer #1
Published by Eternal Press on November 16, 2013
Genres: New Adult, Paranormal, Romance
Pages: 204
Format: eARC
Source: Blog Tour
Goodreads
3 Stars
Emmalina is an immortal darkling. A half human, half dark witch. Though she was born with all six emotions, she has arrived at her eighteenth birthday and all but one miserable emotion has fled her body.

The mission of the dark witches who control the new, darker world is simple—eradicate weakness. Weakness is summed up in one word. Emotion. Or, the six. Anger, fear, sadness, joy, surprise, and love.

The dark witches want her. She wants something else more.

She wants six.

Today I have two posts for you, both relating to the new book SIX by Rachel Robinson. This post is my review of the book, and I also have an interview with the author. Check after the review for the tour giveaway and schedule to visit the rest of the stops.

Book Review:

The idea behind SIX is what hooked me first. Half human, half witch, darklings, like Emma, do not feel emotions. As they age, they either forget what emotions feel like, or give them up to gain power. As someone who prefers to not show emotions (except maybe anger :D ), I was super curious to see how the author would pull of an unfeeling character.

Emma is a hard character to grasp at the start of SIX, and that’s on purpose. Because she doesn’t have most emotions, it’s difficult to relate to her. I thought the author did a good job of showing what little Emma feels at the start, both with the style of writing and how Emma interacts with those around her.

As a Darkling who is very nearly “gone,” or totally unfeeling, Emma is in danger of being killed by her new allies. She must either relearn emotions and live, fail and be killed, or surrender to be the wife of the ruler of the darklings. Only the first option is a good one, since both of the others would result in her death.

Over the course of SIX, Emma does manage to relearn most emotions. I’ll let you read to see if she succeeds in finding all of the six: fear, anger, sadness, surprise, joy, and love. Love, naturally, is the hardest to feel, but Emma is sure that she’ll be able to feel it with Finn, the first male darkling she meets. Considered an abomination, male darklings are not allowed to procreate, and Finn guards his heart so that he doesn’t fall for anyone.

For a good part of SIX, I wasn’t convinced with the relationship between Emma and Finn. I wasn’t sure why Emma was so captivated by Finn (even though he is hot and a nice guy). It seemed a bit weird to me that she would be so interested in the first male she’s ever seen, to the point of wanting to love him. Eventually there is an explanation, which helped the relationship make more sense to me. I’ll let you find that one out, too.

Emma’s process of relearning emotions is one of the best parts of SIX. She’s aided in this by both Finn and Lana. Lana was the standout of the book for me, a total kickbutt character who spoke her mind alllll of the time. Lana protects and befriends Emma, and gives her a kick in the behind when necessary.

SIX is set in a really interesting world. That world was my other favorite part of the book, so I wish there had been a little more information on it, but what is there is really cool. Darklings like Lana who give up their magic live in circles, where there is mostly nothingness. In the Dark Citadel, where dark witches who have embraced their powers and given up emotions, the world is built on magic, and mostly fake. It’s a good contrast, and I like that SIX is a New Adult Dystopian book.

An interesting read for sure, especially if you like seeing characters grow and change in a book.

Giveaway:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

*giveaway is tour-wide

Tour Schedule:

11/18: A Book Obsession: Spotlight
11/19: RhiReading: Excerpt
11/20: [Insert Clever Quip Here]: Spotlight
11/21: Literary Meanderings: Interview
11/22: Urban Fantasy Land: Excerpt
11/23: Books, Movies, Reviews, Oh my!: Interview
11/24: Mad Hatter Reads: Excerpt
11/25: Flutters and Flails: Review
11/26: Romancing the Readers: Excerpt
11/27: Miriam Smith: Spotlight
11/28: Book Chick City: Spotlight
11/29: Books by Steph: Review
11/30: The Reading Obsession: Interview
12/01: Leeanna.me: Interview & Review
12/02: Chelle’s Blue and Sparkly Corner: Spotlight
12/03: Racing to Read: Review
12/04: Fade Into Fantasy: Interview
12/05: What I’m Reading: Excerpt
12/06: Cassandra Lost in Books: Spotlight & Review
12/06: Hot Off the Shelves: Review

About the author:

author rachel robinsonRachel grew up in a small, quiet town full of loud talkers. Her words were always only loud on paper. She has been writing stories and creating characters for as long as she can remember. After living on the west coast for many years she recently moved to Virginia Beach, VA. Escaped is her first Paranormal Romance novel. You can find her over at The Mean Girl Diaries writing non-fiction of the satirical sort.
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Buy links: Amazon | Publisher

– leeanna

Book Review: The Beautiful and the Cursed (The Dispossessed #1) by Page Morgan

Book Review: The Beautiful and the Cursed (The Dispossessed #1) by Page MorganThe Beautiful and the Cursed by Page Morgan
Series: The Dispossessed #1
Published by Delacorte Books for Young Readers on May 14, 2013
Genres: Paranormal, Young Adult
Pages: 352
Format: ARC
Source: Amazon Vine
Goodreads
2 Stars
After a bizarre accident, Ingrid Waverly is forced to leave London with her mother and younger sister, Gabby, trading a world full of fancy dresses and society events for the unfamiliar city of Paris.

In Paris there are no grand balls or glittering parties, and, disturbingly, the house Ingrid’s twin brother, Grayson, found for them isn’t a house at all. It’s an abandoned abbey, its roof lined with stone gargoyles that could almost be mistaken for living, breathing creatures.

And Grayson has gone missing.

No one seems to know of his whereabouts but Luc, a devastatingly handsome servant at their new home.

Ingrid is sure her twin isn’t dead—she can feel it deep in her soul—but she knows he’s in grave danger. It will be up to her and Gabby to navigate the twisted path to Grayson, a path that will lead Ingrid on a discovery of dark secrets and otherworldly truths. And she’ll learn that once they are uncovered, they can never again be buried.

My Review:

As with so many books I read lately, I’m having difficulty reviewing THE BEAUTIFUL AND THE CURSED. It was a book I wanted to like — who wouldn’t like gargoyles? — but I ended up forcing myself to finish. The best way to put my feelings for it would be: cool ideas, but bad execution.

The good parts:

1. The gargoyles. Finally, a paranormal book with something other than vampires or werewolves! The author put some thought into them, explaining how they’re created, their purpose, etc. Basically, gargoyles exist to protect the humans that live in their buildings. Luc, one of Ingrid’s love interests, is the caretaker of the abbey she moves to with her mother and sister. I got the impression gargoyles don’t really *like* taking care of their charges, but it’s their penance for committing a very specific crime before their human death.

2. Grayson, the missing brother of Ingrid and Gabriella, was the closest I had to a favorite character in this book. There are only a few parts from his perspective, but they’re quite dark and gruesome. Kidnapped by a mysterious entity, Grayson undergoes a transformation. We don’t find out exactly what happens to him until the end of the book, but I liked that the author went there.

The bad parts (for me):

1. The pacing/action scenes. THE BEAUTIFUL AND THE CURSED is a book I had to keep making myself pick up, due to the tepid action scenes and the slow pacing. The characters were in danger multiple times in the book, but I never felt worried about any of them. It was like, “Oh, Ingrid’s being attacked by a hellhound. Okay.” The pacing was off, too; the book just read super slowly for me. It felt like it took forever for something important to happen, and then that something important was covered in a paragraph or two.

2. The romances. Ingrid and Gabby have two love interests each. I was not enthused. I am picky about romance and relationships when reading, and I didn’t feel any chemistry between the various couples. The only relationship that came half-way close to working was Gabby and Nolan. Nolan’s part of the Alliance, a human organization that fights the same threats the gargoyles do. Nolan’s banter with Gabby was funny, and actually established SOMETHING between them, a basis for interest.

THE BEAUTIFUL AND THE CURSED does at least answer some of the questions raised within its page, but it does leave plenty of room for another book to continue the series. It’s a series I won’t be reading, because, for the most part, I just wasn’t impressed. Although the use of gargoyles as a different paranormal creature was creative, there just wasn’t enough otherwise for me to sink into the book.

Socialize with the author:

Page Morgan:
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– leeanna

Book Review: Dark Angel by T.J. Bennett

Book Review: Dark Angel by T.J. BennettDark Angel by T.J. Bennett
Published by Entangled Publishing on October 21, 2013
Genres: Adult, Historical Fiction, Paranormal, Romance
Pages: 224
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
Goodreads
4 Stars
When young widow Catherine Briton is washed ashore, the sole survivor of a violent shipwreck, all she wants is to go home to London. But injured as she is, she can’t escape when a shadowy stranger rescues her and takes her to his castle—where she’s healed with suspicious, almost magical speed.

The more time Catherine spends in the castle, the more her curiosity rises where her fiercely handsome new "master," Gerard, is concerned. As she begins to investigate, though, her discoveries only bring more questions. It seems Gerard isn't the only one on the island keeping secrets…

The small town is full of strange mysteries and townspeople who know more than they should about her. And when a hulking beast that stalks the nearby hills and valleys catches up to her, Catherine must figure out what’s going on before it’s too late.

My Review:
DARK ANGEL is a sumptuous, Gothic-inspired, fairy tale romance. If you like strong heroines, tortured heroes, sizzling romantic tension, and a well-written story, this might be the book for you.

I’ll admit this right off: I’m not the biggest fan of romance or romantic relationships. I almost always criticize them, because I’m picky. But books published by Entangled have never let me down. DARK ANGEL is no exception.

The book’s style might take some getting used to, because the author is very descriptive. I like that sort of writing when it’s done well, and I thought it was done well here. The lush descriptions help set the scene, as well as build the characters of Catherine and Gerard. I want to say it’s almost Victorian in style; I can’t say for sure, not having read books written in that era.

DARK ANGEL starts off strong and dangerously, with Catherine in a lifeboat in the middle of the sea. Overboard after a disaster, she sees an island, or thinks she does. When she entreats the captain to set sail for the island, he refuses to, for only the dead and dying see it. After the lifeboat turns over, Catherine wakes up to find herself on the shores of that island, and that’s where the real story begins….

The island, Ynys Nos, is like no other place Catherine has ever seen. And for an English gentlewoman, she’s seen quite a lot, having given up her privileged life to help the less fortunate. She was even a nurse in the Crimean War. But even more compelling than the mysterious island is its master, Gerard. Gerard takes Catherine into his home, sparking off an intense battle of wills between the two.

There’s an immediate attraction between them, but Catherine fights it every step of the way. Gerard does everything he can to make her give in. There is PLENTY of blazing romantic tension, which is something I enjoyed.

Gerard is the epitome of a tortured, dark hero, with so many secrets that he needs a vault the size of Fort Knox to keep them all. He’s an alpha male, supremely confident in himself and in his ability to seduce Catherine. Usually such confidence and a “you’re mine” attitude bugs the heck out of me, but I liked it here. It just fit the overall story. Plus, his vulnerabilities helped balance out the alpha attitude. Beneath the big strong male, there’s a little boy who grew up without friends and the weight of the island on his shoulders.

DARK ANGEL has a mystery behind the romance, and a few paranormal touches. Beauty and the Beast is one of my favorite fairy tales, and it also influences the book. Overall, it’s a very atmospheric read. I sometimes thought I was on the island, following Catherine as she tried to figure out all the mysteries and gets answers for Gerard’s secrets.

The ending did leave me wanting a little more, but that was mainly because I didn’t want to leave Catherine and Gerard’s story. The book does move along a bit slowly, due to the descriptive writing and setting everything up, but that wasn’t a con for me. I was too caught up in the mystery of Ynys Nos, as well as the growing relationship between Catherine and Gerard.

I’d recommend DARK ANGEL if you like romances, historical fiction, or paranormal. There’s a little something for everyone here.

Socialize with the author:
T.J. Bennett:
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– leeanna

Book Review: A Clockwork Heart (The Chronicles of Light and Shadow #2) by Liesel Schwarz

Book Review: A Clockwork Heart (The Chronicles of Light and Shadow #2) by Liesel SchwarzA Clockwork Heart by Liesel Schwarz
Series: The Chronicles of Light and Shadow #2
Published by Del Rey on August 13, 2013
Genres: Adult, Alternate Universe, Fantasy, Paranormal, Romance, Steampunk
Pages: 304
Format: ARC
Source: Amazon Vine
Goodreads
2 Stars
FOR BETTER OR CURSE. That might as well have been the wedding vow of Elle Chance and her new husband, the ex-Warlock Hugh Marsh in the second book of this edgy new series that transforms elements of urban fantasy, historical adventure, and paranormal romance into storytelling magic.

As Elle devotes herself to her duties as the Oracle—who alone has the power to keep the dark designs of Shadow at bay—Marsh finds himself missing the excitement of his former life as a Warlock. So when Commissioner Willoughby of the London Metropolitan police seeks his help in solving a magical mystery, Marsh is only too happy to oblige. But in doing so, Marsh loses his heart . . . literally.

In place of the flesh-and-blood organ is a clockwork device—a device that makes Marsh a kind of zombie. Nor is he the only one. A plague of clockwork zombies is afflicting London, sowing panic and whispers of revolution. Now Elle must join forces with her husband’s old friend, the Nightwalker Loisa Beladodia, to track down Marsh’s heart and restore it to his chest before time runs out.

My Review:
Although I wasn’t blown away by the first book in The Chronicles of Light and Shadow, A CONSPIRACY OF ALCHEMISTS, I decided to give the second book a chance. There were a couple of things I liked, such as the magic system, and I was hoping to find out more about the Light and Shadow in the second book.

Unfortunately, I don’t think A CLOCKWORK HEART was the right book for me.

To start off, I didn’t really care for Elle or Marsh. I am usually a character-driven reader, and will overlook a weak story if I really get behind the characters. I had hoped that with one book behind them, Elle and Marsh would be more consistent, but they aren’t. Throughout the book, Elle vacillates between being a strong, intelligent, and independent woman to one who makes stupid decisions. In the first book, Elle reluctantly became the Oracle after having being tricked into it. Okay, I can understand that six months down the line, she’s still not happy about how it happened, but I can NOT understand why she wouldn’t learn more about her new powers as a way to keep herself and her husband safe. Nope. Elle tells the voices of the past Oracles to leave her alone.

I have to note one scene with Elle’s character inconsistencies. She takes a charter that Marsh doesn’t want her to take, and her old friend from pilot school, Ducky, comes along. She tells him about the marital troubles between her and Marsh, and Ducky says that if Elle was his wife, he’d spank her for being a brat. Then Ducky turns the airship around, and Elle just says, “Okay,” and thinks she’s being silly for disagreeing with Marsh. That is NOT the Elle I remember from A CONSPIRACY OF ALCHEMISTS, the Elle who fought Marsh every step of the way.

Marsh also frustrated me. I can appreciate that he made a HUGE sacrifice in giving up his warlock powers to have a normal life with Elle, but he seemed like an ultra controlling husband. I know that this book is set in 1904, when women didn’t have the rights that they do now, but … part of what Marsh liked about Elle was her independence.

I actually liked the minor characters more than I liked Elle and Marsh. Loisa, their Nightwalker friend, was my favorite in the book. I think I’d have enjoyed a book from her point of view more than one from Elle’s.

Moving onto the plot … the book read like three or four separate, disjointed stories for me, not one cohesive story. There were several events that happened, such as Elle winning an airship, or being put in jail, that just didn’t make any sense. The argument that separated Elle and Marsh was full of stilted dialogue, and I had to read the passage three times to figure out it was actually a fight! I’m not going to spoil the ending, but it was an overflowing bucket of angst. Too much, and it felt tacked on. I could have done without the last two chapters.

What was good in A CLOCKWORK HEART? The clockwork powered zombies were a very cool invention of the author’s. They were spooky, and their creation process made me shiver.

At first I also liked Clothilde, the villain of the book. She is a lady in white, something I wish had been explored more, because I was never entirely sure what she was, or what her motivation was. Why did she want a man? Just because she was lonely? I don’t know.

I’ve picked out a couple of the bigger things that bothered me in A CLOCKWORK HEART. I could mention a lot more, but I’ll stop there. I think if you liked the first book in the series, you might like the second one. If you didn’t, then I’d skip A CLOCKWORK HEART.

Review on Amazon Vine.

Let’s talk about it:
When a trilogy (like The Chronicles of Light and Shadow) is published at an accelerated rate, are you more likely to read it?

Socialize with the author:
Liesel Schwarz:
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– leeanna

Book Review: A Conspiracy of Alchemists (The Chronicles of Light and Shadow #1) by Liesel Schwarz

Book Review: A Conspiracy of Alchemists (The Chronicles of Light and Shadow #1) by Liesel SchwarzA Conspiracy of Alchemists by Liesel Schwarz
Series: The Chronicles of Light and Shadow #1
Published by Del Rey on March 5, 2013
Genres: Adult, Alternate Universe, Fantasy, Paranormal, Romance, Steampunk
Pages: 336
Format: ARC
Source: NetGalley
Goodreads
2 Stars
LEAVE IT TO CHANCE.

Eleanor “Elle” Chance, that is—a high-flying dirigible pilot with a taste for adventure and the heroine of this edgy new series that transforms elements of urban fantasy, steampunk, and paranormal romance into pure storytelling gold.

It is 1903, and the world is divided between light and shadow. On the side of light is a wondrous science that has transformed everyday life by harnessing magical energies to ingenious new technologies. But each advance of science has come at the expense of shadow—the traditional realm of the supernatural.

Now two ancient powers are preparing to strike back. Blood-sucking immortal Nightwalkers and their spellcasting Alchemist allies have a plan to cover the whole world in shadow. All they require is the sacrifice of a certain young woman whose past conceals a dangerous secret.

But when they come after Elle, they get more than they bargained for. This enterprising young woman, the daughter of a scientific genius, has reserves of bravery and determination that even she scarcely suspects. Now she is about to meet her match in more ways than one: a handsome yet infuriating Warlock named Hugh Marsh, whose agenda is as suspect as his charms are annoyingly irresistible.

My Review:
A CONSPIRACY OF ALCHEMISTS is the first in a series combining steampunk, alternate history, fantasy, and paranormal genres. I was attracted to it because of the blurb, which mentions the world being divided into light and shadow, technology and supernatural.

It took me a long time to read A CONSPIRACY OF ALCHEMISTS. I tried a couple of times, and eventually powered my way through it because I had a chance to read the second book, A CLOCKWORK HEART. I had quite a few issues with the book, which kept me from enjoying it.

As I said, one of the reasons I wanted to read the book was because of the interesting world highlighted in the summary. But I swear there’s practically no worldbuilding. So when there were mentions of a war between light and shadow, and even when the “bad guys” kidnapped the main character, I didn’t entirely know why it would be such a bad thing if the shadow won.

Because Elle, the main character, is an airship pilot, fighting for her place in an arena (and world) dominated by males, I expected her to be a spunky, strong character. But she was inconsistent, and dare I say it, boring. I preferred the narration of the green fairy, Adele, who lived off absinthe, to Elle. Elle lives in a world where technology and magic work side-by-side, yet she refuses to believe in the existence of magic. So when the reveal comes that she has a pretty big magical ability, she a) doesn’t believe it and b) doesn’t learn anything about her powers. Then she makes some absurd decisions, which lead her right into danger. Sorry, but I really don’t like it when supposedly intelligent characters do stupid things.

And then the last nail came when Elle met the infuriating Marsh. They were attracted to each other at first glance. And though Elle didn’t like Marsh (and who would, he was a domineering jerk), she couldn’t deny her attraction to him. Their “relationship” moved way too quickly from the bickering, “I hate you stage” to the “I love you” stage, strongly reminding me of a young adult novel. In fact, I thought A CONSPIRACY OF ALCHEMISTS read a lot like a young adult book, from the underdeveloped characters to the quick romance to the simplistic writing style.

Let’s talk about it:
If you don’t like the first book in a series, will you give the next book a chance?

Socialize with the author:
Liesel Schwarz:
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– leeanna

Book Review: The Weight of Souls by Bryony Pearce

Book Review: The Weight of Souls by Bryony PearceThe Weight of Souls by Bryony Pearce
Published by Angry Robot, Strange Chemistry on August 6, 2013
Genres: Paranormal, Young Adult
Pages: 350
Format: ARC
Source: NetGalley
Goodreads
2 Stars
Sixteen year old Taylor Oh is cursed: if she is touched by the ghost of a murder victim then they pass a mark beneath her skin. She has three weeks to find their murderer and pass the mark to them – letting justice take place and sending them into the Darkness. And if she doesn’t make it in time? The Darkness will come for her…

She spends her life trying to avoid ghosts, make it through school where she’s bullied by popular Justin and his cronies, keep her one remaining friend, and persuade her father that this is real and that she’s not going crazy.

But then Justin is murdered and everything gets a whole lot worse. Justin doesn’t know who killed him, so there’s no obvious person for Taylor to go after. The clues she has lead her to the V Club, a vicious secret society at her school where no one is allowed to leave… and where Justin was dared to do the stunt which led to his death.

Can she find out who was responsible for his murder before the Darkness comes for her? Can she put aside her hatred for her former bully to truly help him?

And what happens if she starts to fall for him?

My Review:
I was so excited to read THE WEIGHT OF SOULS. As soon as I saw the cover (go Strange Chemistry for being true to the protagonist and not whitewashing the cover!) and read the summary, I was in. Before starting the book, I’d also heard or read somewhere that there was an Egyptian mythology connection too, so that was another big plus for me.

Unfortunately, THE WEIGHT OF SOULS just wasn’t the book for me. The ingredients were there — such as Taylor’s curse of having to avenge murder victims — but the execution didn’t work for me. I keep saying “for me” because I think I’m in the minority on not liking this book.

I thought the book read like a contemporary high school novel with a touch of the paranormal. It even included the popular clique bullying the main character for no good reason. There’s a small paranormal connection — Taylor’s curse — but I wanted to see a lot more of that instead of her sitting in class. The paranormal aspect does come in more when one of the guys who bullies Taylor turns up dead. Justin gives her the mark before either of them realize he’s been murdered, and the two have to team up to find his killer.

Now, enter in a romance between Taylor and ghost boy, a crazy Truth or Dare club, and the diary of Taylor’s ancestor. The romance came out of nowhere, and I didn’t buy Justin’s reason for why he bullied Taylor for so long. As for the diary of Oh-Fa, Taylor’s ancestor and the reason she has the curse, the way the entries were written, and some of the word choices pulled me out of enjoying his story. I also wanted to see more of the Ancient Egyptian connection — there’s really only mentions of Anubis and that’s it.

I did finish reading THE WEIGHT OF SOULS, and even at the end I had questions. I am not sure if the book is the first in a series or a standalone (it’s not clear, and as of today, I can’t find an answer). Some of the story is concluded, but not all, which contributed to my general “meh” feeling for the book. I felt like there was a lot of potential for this book, but it just wasn’t delivered.

Let’s talk about it:
What mythology system would you like to see brought into books?

Socialize with the author:
Bryony Pearce:
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– leeanna