Review – Destiny Gift by Juliana Haygert

Destiny Gift
(Everlast, Book 1)
Juliana Haygert
April, 2013
Self-Published
New Adult Fantasy
269 Pages

Reviewed for The Book Breeze by Abby Rose / Magic & Mayhem

Blurb from Goodreads:Thirty years in the future, a sinister New York City exists in permanent darkness. 

A student at the secured NYU, nineteen-year-old Nadine has visions of Victor Gianni, an imaginary guy she has real feelings for. Afraid of being truly insane, she explains the visions away as simple daydreams, but she can no longer deny them when she bumps into Victor in real life. But this Victor doesn’t know her, and turns her away. After the encounter, Nadine’s visions change to those of eerie fates, gods she’s never heard of, demons with sharp claws they are not too timid to use … and instructions.

To discover if she’s losing her mind, Nadine follows the vague directions—with the real, rude and reluctant Victor—leading to a man who knows it all: Nadine can restore an ancient creed by unveiling the clues on her visions, and bring sunlight and peace to the world again. But that’s only if the demons and the other evil forces behind the darkness don’t stop her first.

I had a lot of fun with this one. The premise was pretty darn interesting, with the bats and the darkness with the gods and goddesses—all things that attracted me to Destiny Gift. Where I had a problem was with Nadine. She had a lot of potential to be a real kick-xxx heroine but it fizzled in a lot of ways. First there was this obsession, yes, it was an obsession with Victor. What do you do when your world is filled with darkness and bats and you are having odd visions? You focus on a guy. At least, that’s what Nadine did. Then we had Micah enter the picture—I found him much more intriguing—and we had all the makings of a love triangle. Thank goodness that didn’t really happen as I don’t like love triangles (I’m very much a one woman/one man kinda of reader).

The best part of the story was the story itself. I loved the idea of these gods and goddesses and exploring the relationships between them. I ended up feeling kind of sorry for the villain. I won’t give away the events but the gist is that the villain had a bit of a reason to behave as he/she did. For me to empathize with the villain meant Ms. Haygert did a great job of creating and showing the villain’s depths.

I’ll definitely pick up the next book in the series to see more of the world and Nadine, Victor and Micah with an eye (hope) to seeing how Nadine grows.

Review – The Wind Chime Cafe by Sophie Moss

WIND CHIME CAFÉ
By Sophie Moss
Sea Rose Publishing (Feb 2014)
Pages 290
Genre:  Contemporary Romance

Reviewed by The Book Breeze

When single mother, Annie Malone, purchases a quirky Main Street café on Heron Island, she thinks she’s finally turned her dream of opening her own restaurant into a reality. Hearing rumors that a developer is about to build a five-star resort on the sleepy Chesapeake Bay Island, she plans to transform the café into a premier upscale bistro. But Navy SEAL, Will Dozier, has no intention of selling his grandparents’ property to a developer.

I enjoyed this book but found a lot of things too coincidental.  Annie Malone’s new start was motivated by the trauma her daughter suffered as the only survivor of a school massacre.  Will Dozier not only suffered from PTSD but lost family in the Twin Towers.  The developer’s son after the property is the long lost father of Annie’s daughter, Taylor, who suddenly arrives to use the child as a pawn.  I mean, what are the odds all of these events collide?

Outside of all of that, this book has some wonderful moments – the significance of the wind chimes and the broom, and the relationship between Will and Taylor actually should not be missed.   So overlook the contrived plot and read this lovely story of love and healing.    

Review – Gone Girl by Gilliam Flynn

Gone GirlGone Girl
by Gilliam Flynn

Crowne Publishers

Genre: Mystery/Suspense

Reviewed for The Book Breeze by Barefoot Reviews

Having found Flynn’s Dark Places and Sharp Objects,exciting books with good plots, I admit that I expected a lot from Gone Girl. I did not get what I expected. I forced myself to read the laborious first part of the novel, determined to find the core of this bestseller.

The first part could best be defined as loosely based satire. Nick is a boring, milksop, co-protagonist on a good day. While it is easy to assume that my view of Nick is what Flynn wanted, I need more from my main characters, especially the annoying ones. He was too weak to dislike, a throwaway at best. From the beginning, it is obvious that Amy has a plan, even if she is dead. The shared lead, she is another character to dislike.

A bestseller that got rave reviews around the globe, Gone Girl has more weaknesses than strengths. The plot is obvious with only a few surprises towards the end. Pacing plods to the point of exhaustion in the first part. The book does not have the sharp wit it promised. It does not have the tension and drama it touted. Perhaps, the story tries to point out that we tend to make assumptions about who the bad guy/gal is: a fact most of us know.

Perhaps, it is meant to be a sociological study of marriage, but, if so, it did not imbue me with new insights. Perhaps, it points out the influence media has in our lives with the manipulation of information, again, not a new idea. While I am disappointed in the book, I will continue to read Gillian Flynn to see if the next book grabs my attention as some of her other work has done.

Review – Murders in Manatas by Roberta Rogow

Murders in Manatas
Roberta Rogow

Zumaya Otherworlds
Genre: Alternative History Fiction

Reviewed by Barefoot Reviews

Rogow’s characters are believable from the first page. Her clarity defining the physical and emotional characteristics of Halvar, an intelligent and physically strong new protagonist, buys reader loyalty as we see the world through his eyes. An evocative read with Spain in control of the New World, a world with subsets of religions factions: Muslims, Jews, Catholics, Protestants, and Naturalists, it creates an imaginary setting based vaguely on Manhattan and Greenwich Village, New York in their earliest settlement days.

Rogow easily draws readers into the settings, using all five senses that at times were so believable, I became nauseous along with the characters. She dives right into the action, and her mystery plots move along with good pacing and a few surprise twists and turns. The interactions between the various religious, cultural, and ethnic groups is truly imaginary, but in a delightful way, that obviously makes you wonder why the world spends so much time fighting.

Review – CAPACITY FOR MURDER by Bernadette Pajer

Capacity for Murder (ProfessorBradshaw Mystery)
Bernadette Pajer  
            Poisoned Pen Press
Genre: Cozy Mystery

Reviewed by Barefoot Reviews

Professor Benjamin Bradshaw pursues another case to its resolution in the third of Pajer’s Bradshaw mysteries. An engaging piece of historical fiction with just enough electrical engineering information to be interesting, the pacing is sharp. Bradshaw is reluctant to go into the wild territory of Washington state in the early 1900s, but his curiosity to investigate another electrical event gone wrong urges him forward. With his friend, Henry, Missouri who is a love interest he is trying to ignore, his young son and friend, his housekeeper, and college students in tow, he arrives at Healing Sands Sanitarium to find that it is his invention that killed a man.

Pajer’s character development is spot on, from the emotional disaster of Dr. Hornsby, to the crass Arnold Loomis and all points in between. Professor Bradshaw, his usual thoughtful self, manages to balance all the plates in the air keeping his students busy, his son occupied, and his friend Henry, a sidekick worth his salt and reminiscent of Dr. Watson, off in pursuit of information and smuggling in decent coffee and snacks. He and Henry are the only two who seem to labor under the diet restrictions of the healing facility. In the midst of the chaos, Bradshaw’s personal feelings for Missouri won’t go away and his past won’t set him free.

While Dr. Hornsby believes he has killed his much-loved son-in-law with electrical therapy,  Bradshaw recognizes almost immediately the machine has been sabotaged and they have a murder to solve. Police arrive to push the professor aside and strong arm the situation, but the perfectly portrayed, arrogant sheriff soon recognizes he needs the professor if he is to succeed. Much to the annoyance of the guests at the sanitarium, they are sequestered until the investigation is over.

The story’s isolated setting enhances the tension, builds on the secrets, surrounding the strange group of paying guests at the sanitarium, and ends with a bang.

Review – Louisiana Moon by Lani Rhea

 Louisiana MoonLouisiana Moon
(Rising Currents, Book 1)
 Lani Rhea
March, 2014
Lyrical Press, an Imprint of Kensington Publishing
Paranormal Romance
233 Pages

Reviewed for The Book Breeze by Abby Rose / Magic & Mayhem

From the description: After losing her parents to vampires, werewolf Kristina Knight spends her life protecting humans from the bloodsuckers. Saving Darin James from the Truce Brotherhood adds fuel to the vampire coven’s wrath. When Ryant, her former lover, appears under the pretext of protecting her, Kristina isn’t ready to trust him again—especially not after he made his choice clear years ago. 

As leader of the vampires, Ryant Starga is driven to protect Kristina not only because of their past connection but because, now, the Soulscapes are out for her blood. If they succeed, the soul demons will rule the Darkworld—and no one will ever be safe. Ryant has a plan to convince Kristina she needs his protection, but it all goes badly awry when, in spite of the years separating them, he’s unable to keep his hands and mind off her—or the human Darin James out of the picture.

With Darin overstepping boundaries, will Kristina and Ryant rekindle their love only to lose it again?

I’m not a huge vampire fan—I really can’t get past the sucking of blood—but I enjoyed reading Louisiana Moon because of Kris, the heroine. For me, she was a lot of fun as she didn’t take any guff from anyone least of all Ryant. I also enjoyed their relationship as both struggled with the events of the past and what the future meant for them. Especially Kris as she had reasons to suspect the vampires were responsible for the death of her parents. Who wouldn’t have an issue with vampires after that?

What made this one a different turn on vampires was the addition of a war with the Soulscapes, demons that can animate cement—statutes mostly. So cool!

Now, for those who are not fan of the love triangles, despite the description, let me assure you Darin is not a love interest. He’s a human at the wrong place at the wrong time and Kris saves him. Their relationship is more of a mentor/mentee as he travels with her and learns more about the other world than he ever wanted to know (or dreamed of). And what an interesting world. If vampires and cement demons aren’t enough, how about a spooky hell house? This book has a lot going on but it doesn’t feel like too much is being thrown at the reader.

I hope Ms. Rhea writes book 2 soon as I really want to see how Kris and Ryant deal with the destiny thrust upon them—and have them seriously kick Soulscape butt.

Review – RECKLESS series by Gina Robinson

The Reckless Series Complete Collection

by Gina Robinson, Amazon Digital Services, March 2014 4.5 Stars

Reviewed by Shannon’s Space

Reckless Longing

Review:

In these three New Adult college romances, nineteen-year-old Ellie Martin meets Logan Walker, who is everything that she didn’t know she wanted. Ellie has recently transferred across Washington State to a new college, one that bears a striking resemblance to W.S.U. or perhaps that’s just me remembering my days and years there. The setting is terrific from the cliff-diving days of summer to the all campus snowball fights to the fabulous cheeses and ice-cream created at the university to Mom’s Weekend in the spring before graduation.

Ellie has issues. She left home when her mother betrayed her in what Ellie considers the worst way. Tie in a break-up with her boyfriend and the reader knows that Logan will not find it easy to win her. She chose this university because she Reckless Secretsthinks her biological father works there, a man she has never met because of her mother’s machinations. No spoiler here – Mom is a piece of work and it takes the entire series to find out why. Ms. Robinson could have opted for the clichéd heroine, a young woman abandoned by her parents, but chose a more difficult path instead. All of the characters, regardless of whether they’re likeable or not, have reasons for what they do even if it takes a while to learn those motivations. Dex, Ellie’s study partner in Chem, is brilliant and it would be amazing to see what happens when he has a series of his own – hint, hint, hint! When he convinces Ellie that she needs to bake cookies for the graduate student who teaches their Chem Lab, it becomes an integral part of the plot and leads to so many complications.

Of course, Logan has baggage too. He not only keeps secrets from Ellie; he has problems controlling his temper and frequently runs from the trouble he creates. If these two manage to create a successful relationship, it will take time, Reckless Togetherpatience and some serious growing up.  As the series progresses, it seems like the dance is one step forward and two steps back, but none of the situations are contrived or simplistic. Each stage of the conflict between Ellie and Logan is well plotted and makes complete sense.

This is a New Adult series set on a college campus in a small town. Fast paced, it could have used more description of the town so the reader can see the university in all its glory. The same goes for the town centered around the college, a town where the population multiplies during the school year, but fades in the off season, i.e. the summer. Then, the reader will feel more of a connection to the ensemble cast. In addition, it would have been wonderful to know more about the academics. Whoops and there was that tiny glitch in Mom’s past about her high school boyfriend – he had one name in Reckless Secrets and another in Reckless Together. This is a minor point – but one that should have been caught in editing mode.

The reader is told that Ellie is going to class, but other than her sophomore Chemistry class, we never see the professors or what she undergoes in the lecture halls. It would have been wonderful to have the juxtaposition of professional instructors versus the wicked Witch of the 9AM Chem class. Okay, one more thing. We heard that this was an early class and it was majorly hard for Ellie to get there on time which was a bit of a stretch. However, in days gone by when I was in college, it was the 8AM classes that were a hardship. By 9AM, most people are usually coherent and Ellie was fairly responsible. She didn’t party on school nights.

These characters are nice kids for the most part, but this is not your typical sweet college story of young love. There is a lot going on in the dorm halls and on this campus. This includes drinking, partying, necking, sizzling sex – it’s safe sex – and consensual for the most part. This forwards the plot. It isn’t gratuitous or unnecessary. However, it could be too steamy for younger readers. There is also plenty of drama which can be expected when young adults are away from home for the first time. The series reads like a slice of life and despite the few glitches, these are people who can be trusted to change the world for the better. And we can trust them to take care of their adversaries.