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Lynxie

Coffee2words

I write, read and review, I blog frequently and love anything to do with books and writing, including editing. I am a Book Nerd and I wear that badge with pride.  http://coffee2words.wordpress.com

Currently reading

What Tomorrow May Bring
Deborah Rix, Shelbi Wescott, Joseph A. Turkot, David J. Normoyle, Cary Caffrey, Samantha Durante, Megan Thomason, Jenni Merritt, David Estes, Susan Kaye Quinn, Tony Bertauski

An enjoyable, quick paranormal shifter romance with a little sexy time.

Forbidden: Shifters Forever Worlds (Never After Dark Book 1) - Elle Thorne

Forbidden is a short introduction to Elle Thorn's Never After Dark series, a white tiger shapeshifter romance.

While the story takes a pretty tried and true course - impossibly handsome, but broody Adonis-esque Alpha male is single despite all odds and happens upon the perfectly normal, slightly unique and not model material woman who has no idea about shifters. They fall into bed together and then into mated love - and offers nothing new to the paranormal romance or shifter romance genres, the writing flowed well and was an easy read.

Despite the expected outcome and actions by the characters, I did actually like Jax, at least up until she didn't bat an eyelid at something that should have caused even some sort of reaction.

Rafe is fairly generic alpha material, all animalistic and domineering, broody dark god that he is. He seems to be part porn star too, his ability to make Jax gush seemed a little too easy.

Overall this is an enjoyable, quick paranormal shifter romance with a little sexy time. Nothing groundbreaking or fresh, but still entertaining and engaging.

One thing I noticed:

22% - Chapter is at the top of the paragraph text.

**Note: I was given an electronic copy of this book through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review**

Some of the length could be clipped further with a heavy-handed editor, but the overall finish of the book was good.

Nica of Los Angeles (Frames, #1) - Sue  Perry

Ok, so the time it took me to read this is not an indication of my disinterest or lack of engagement to the story, instead I ended up doing NaNoWriMo and a massive work project in between August and Dec.

That aside, Nica's tale certainly contained a lot of interesting and original ideas. The world building was fresh and the characters rather amusing.

I think my favourite characters were Miles and Monk, purely because of the intellectual way they spoke and sense of humour. I also found I developed a bit of a soft spot for Hernandez.

Where this story fell over for me was in a couple of ways. The length: at only 302 pages, the story felt densely packed and far, far longer than 302 pages.

The pace: the characters were rushing through from one thing to the next, and one frame to the next so fast it became a little too much and things started to blur. Perhaps a few less scene changes and story plot points would help alleviate the feeling of being rushed.

Nica's character and personality might irritate some readers. I found her mildly annoying at times, but amusing at others.

Some of the length could be clipped further with a heavy-handed editor, but the overall finish of the book was good.

One thing I noticed:
3% - blood-?-soaked (not sure why there's a question mark hyphenated between these two words).

*Note: I was provided an electronic copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.*

All together the book just doesn't stand up as a polished piece of work.

For the Love of Women: Volume 2 - Kat Watson, Lisa Hollett, Toira O'Brady

Individually these stories range from 1-4 stars, but all together the book just doesn't stand up as a polished piece of work. There are some really great ideas within, but they need some work to make them stand on their own, or even in a collection of short pieces. Some of the ideas really need a lot more room to develop, while others are clearly aimed at the titillation crowd but they just don't mesh well with the rest of the pieces.

I've got some comments on each piece below:

She marries her
Sweet and tender, the blushing brides are a nice read, except the end felt a bit too much for the rest of the piece. If you're going to go with sweet and tender, leave it there. Don't go for too much. There's also a few adverbs and adjectives I'd pull to strengthen the story, but overall a nice story.
3.5 stars

Are Angels Allowed to swear?
Interesting premise, nice, albeit swift lead up to and complete sex scene, but reasonable. The story on the whole was more of a glimpse than a whole story.
4 stars (really needs to be longer!!)

Scars of War
What a sad story. The beginning started so peacefully, only to be shattered by war, fighting and death. I feel this one could benefit from being longer to give the reader a better picture of the world and belief system. In the story as it is, only a small glimpse is possible.
3 stars

Beautifully exposed
Way too short, not enough of anything to really get into.
2 stars

Wava and Claire
Paranormal vampires and a heap of backstory thrown at the reader. Too short to work well, too much info dumping. Not enough characterisation to really set the tone. Some editing required to smooth the adjectives and adverbs not needed.
2 stars

The Beach
There is so much wrong with this story it's not funny. Too much gushing, both characters are experts in bed when they've only just met, they each have way too many orgasms, the intimacy is too much and in general there's just too much of everything. Totally unbelievable and clearly written for the titillation crowd, not those who might want more of a story.

One thing I noticed: '...and slowly start moving my fingers in and out of her quickly.'
1 star

**Note: I was provided an electronic copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.**

An easy read in one sitting, if you dare.

— feeling bloody
Rape Van: An Extreme Horror Story - Tim Miller

While the finish of the story on the whole was a little rough around the edges (see things I noticed at the end of the review), the pace was fast enough that the issues didn't detract from the story being told.

Some seriously messed up people in this book, none more so than that creepy little mistress of murder. She's enough to seed nightmares for months.

Horrific in some of its simplicity, Rape Van offers a twisted view into the lives of serial killers. It included some imaginative ideas and sadistic scenes. One wicked little ride that will likely scare the bejesus out of readers and turn stomachs of all but a hardened few gore veterans.

I would have liked more time spent with the victims, it felt a little rushed at times, which detracted from the impact of some of the scenes.

An easy read in one sitting, if you dare.

The first Tim Miller read for me, but it won't be the last.

A few things I noticed:

Pg 9 - ...Why did you do that?" Mar(t)in screamed.
Pg 21 - Mar(t)in had gone completely hysterical...
Pg 56 - ...I'll get in(it) in the oven...
Pg 61 - chapter 6 needs to be on a new page.
Pg 189 - The(y) did pull back some, at least.

Fat off sex and violence intrigues as much as it disturbs with its graphic content and explosive conclusion.

Fat Off Sex and Violence - Shane McKenzie

My first Shane McKenzie book and while not as disturbing as I was expecting, still enough gore and violence to keep me reading.

I didn't love nor hate this, but I can't really fault it either because it is what it is. Graphic horrific content. I felt a little removed from the action in this, almost as if I were a spectator behind glass. It might have been the character and my inability to relate to him, more than any writing style or technique.

Certainly not for those with weak stomachs or sympathetic vomiters, Fat off sex and violence should intrigue as much as it disturbs with its graphic content and explosive conclusion.

I'm keen to see what else Shane has on offer, this will not be the last of his I read.

The outline of the story is rather ingenious idea, but alas the way in which it was executed fell far, far below the mark.

The Year We Finally Solved Everything - Rudolf Kerkhoven

You know when you have a great idea, and you're really excited to explore that great idea, delve deep into it and have a poke around to see if it really is a great idea?! Well, sadly, I fear that Rudolf could have done a bit more digging and a bit more polishing of what he found.

The outline of the story is reasonable. In fact I'd argue that it's a rather ingenious idea, but alas the way in which it was executed fell far, far below the mark.

The main character, Richard, is a useless imbecile. He's not even funny when he thinks he's being funny. He's abrasive and immature and immediately put me off reading the story. The female characters also leave little to be desired, Mia is snarky and rude, Anna: a poster child for mental health issues managed poorly and don't even get me started on Richard's best friend...

The writing is stilted and repetitive to the nth degree. At several points in the book there's about 15 lines that start with the same few words. The same ideas and concepts are hashed and rehashed and driven so far into the reader's face it's almost as invasive as having your eyes examined by an optometrist.

The way in which society crumbled in the book seemed rather explosive, but not so far outside of the realm of possible that it wasn't believable, at least a little. If the writing were more palatable I might have allowed some of the other issues, but sadly all together this was a pretty average read. I'm quite glad it was a freebie.

I liked the idea, but loathed the execution of the book. I honestly couldn't recommend it, unless you wanted editing practice.

A few things I noticed:
36-37% pay phone is hyphenated in one instance and not in another.
57% - We walk(talk) about waiting on the couch...
92% - I can't breath(e) and I reach...

The other half of my heart is much like making a loaf of bread.

The Other Half of my Heart - Stephanie Butland

The other half of my heart is much like making a loaf of bread.

It requires attention, and time to formulate the finished product. The process is, at times, complex and the end result is delightful but somewhat expected.

Now I've finished with the similes, we can get into the review. The characters were very realistic. I quite liked the damaged quality of them all in the beginning, they felt like real people, but things got a little tedious about 60% through. I wanted to see more character development. It felt like it was all a little too slow.

The plot and character arcs were obvious from about 20% in. So if you like your books to be a bit mysterious you probably won't like this one. If you enjoy a quiet, sweet romp through a slightly romance-ish story with middle-aged protagonists then jump on board.

If you like horses this one is a story for you. In fact, this reminded me of a grown up version of the Saddle club books, aimed at adults but maintaining that horsey-focus which was a welcome change from the rather adult books I normally read. I enjoyed being immersed in the world of working on a horse farm and the way in which the romance blossomed. I feel the book was strongest in the opening chapters, but slowly things got a bit out of focus.

The overall feel of the book could have been emotional, and some of the other reviews are raving on about is as such, but I feel that the middle of the book disconnected me from the characters too much, and then the emotional turmoil I was meant to feel, just didn't happen. There's sad parts, sure, but they didn't pack the punch I think they were meant to.

Still, the book is a solidly written, the storyline is tried and true, and the characters are complex. It just wasn't spot on for me, hence the lower star rating. Still worth a read if you like horses or long winding plots with a middle-aged protagonist.

A few things I noticed:
7% - supresssing (delete third s)
10% - ...and she (delete she) hope that the world...
51% - ...towelling dressing gown aare(are) anything...


**Note: I was provided an electronic version of this book through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review**

I will probably read book 2, I am keen to see how things progress, but I won't rush into it.

Gifted Thief (Highland Magic Book 1) - Helen   Harper

Gifted Thief is an enjoyable urban fantasy read with likable and complex characters. It is, for the most part, well written and the action is peppered throughout to allow for a reasonable reading pace.

Why only three stars then?

Unfortunately, the pacing of the story in the beginning dragged quite a lot. The content was interesting, and while most of the detail helped form the rest of the book, it felt stilted and cumbersome, rather than lithe and agile like the rest of the book.

The characters were mostly really well done. Some of the extreme stereotypes were a little annoying, but they worked in most instances.

Where things got really interesting was once Integrity delved back into the Sidhe world. I've read a number of Sidhe related books and I'd have to say this one was one of the best for creating a great deal of complexity in their belief and power dynamics. I also quite enjoyed the clan versus clan-less theme that ran throughout. It added another dimension to the story that I'm sure will come into play later in the series.

I will probably read book 2, I am keen to see how things progress, but I won't rush into it.

A couple of things I noticed:

78% - ...now it stood as docile than (delete than, insert as) Barbie.
87% - ...The only (one) who thinks you're...

**Note: I was provided an electronic copy of this book through the Awesome Indies Reviewer program.**

An engaging and well written story and I will be getting the second book in the series so I can answer some of those unanswered questions.

Stitch - Samantha Durante

Stitch is the opening book for the Stitch Trilogy. It begins along the same lines as many young adult dystopian type of books: the parents get removed from the picture (as painfully as possible), the protagonist spirals into severe depression (the blackest you've ever seen), and gets placed in a new town/school/planet to deal with their loss and try and move on.

Samantha does a good job of adhering to those tropes. But, then she does something magical. She breaks the mold and doesn't have the protagonist fall instantly in love, she doesn't make the supporting characters weak and useless... No, she slowly reveals an insidious plot and backstory that I was so not expecting.

One part ghost story, one part young adult, one part dystopian, one part mystery and historical, and one part sci-fi. This story delivers on variety. And, it melds well for the most part.

Alessa (who I kept calling Alissa in my head) is a reasonably level-headed character. Things go crazy and she tries to deal with them rationally, so that worked.

Where things fell down for me was the repetition of Alessa's history and emotional growth, I recall it being info-dumped three times in the last half of the book. That's probably twice too many times.

It was an engaging and well written story and I will be getting the second book in the series so I can answer some of those unanswered questions.

**Note: I was provided an electronic copy of this book as part of the compilation What Tomorrow May Bring in exchange for an honest review**

The Beholder is a tightly packed and well written fantasy story.

The Beholder - Ivan Amberlake

The Beholder is a tightly packed and well written fantasy story. It's quite youthful in its tone, but its content is too adult for the Young Adult genre.

I liked the male protagonist, Jason. Especially his mental battle and emotional and personal growth. Though the Insta-love bothered me a bit.

Emily is an interesting character, but I am not sure what to think of her. She seemed a little too good to be true to start, the at the end... Well I just don't know what to think.

The puzzles that still plague Jason at the end of the book were, rather annoyingly, what I wanted to know about, so I felt a little miffed about that too.

I can overlook it though, because the second Beholder book is available already.

I liked Ivan's writing, I found that with his other book too, but I don't know if I'd call this a thriller.

I noticed a couple of things:

5% - consistency issue: Jason arrived at the office in the morning for the meeting as he walked in, then worries about recounting the afternoon's events with his boss.

60% - ...saw himself as (a) character with a...

**Note: I was provided an electronic copy of this book in return for an honest review**

A quick and easy read, pick it up today but probably not until you've read the other books in the series first.

Assassin - Tara Moss, Jennifer Vuletic

Makedde Vanderwall's series has come to a close.

A pretty spectacular close too.

Mak is harder, grittier and downright ballsy in this book, she's taking a stand against the big baddies and she's doing it her way.

Considering it has been five years since I read the last Mak book(Siren), I was pleasantly surprised at how quickly it all came flooding back to me. Tara weaves little tidbits of information into the story but it doesn't feel like you're being drip fed it. It reads well.

I liked how we got to see Mak grow and change in this book, far more than the other books. And while one of the twists I picked very early on, the way I thought it'd go, was certainly not the way the story went.

I always had a bit of a soft spot for Andy, and this book cemented that for me. He's raw and real, both incredibly strong, yet vulnerable at the same time. Rough around the edges, but sweet and gentle too. He felt very real in this book. More so than Mak and any of the other characters.

Overall, this felt like a strong and fitting end to Mak's tumultuous journey, but it didn't blow my mind so I can't give it 5 stars. It fell just a little shy of amazing.

A quick and easy read, pick it up today but probably not until you've read the other books in the series first.

The unpredictability, sheer idiocy and childishness of the female protagonist, Ashling, undid every piece of great work Aurora did with the history and storytelling.

Bloodmark - Aurora Whittet

Bloodmark is the first book in the Bloodmark saga (of three books).

It is a rather intriguing idea, with some complex twists and plot shifts, a great way to entwine numerous folk lores into a story.

Alas, the unpredictability, sheer idiocy and childishness of the female protagonist, Ashling, undid every piece of great work Aurora did with the history and storytelling.

In one breath, Ashling is a childish little brat that makes stupid remarks to her elders when discussing serious topics of which she has no knowledge.

In the next, she's psycoanalysing those around her and making decisions that will impact a whole race like she was born to do it...oh wait, she was.

Her impulsivity and idiocy aside, the eye-rollingly juvenile expressions of true love between 'soul mates' left me with a sprain in my superior rectus (that's an eye muscle!) and a gullet that was trigger-happy to vomit at the purple prose that spouted out of Ashling's mouth at the slightest provocation.

The story arc follows a pretty stock standard direction. Yes, there's some pretty cool folk lore and beliefs thrown in, but it's a typical YA paranormal romance at heart. With characters that portray the norms for this genre.

A young heroine who is both wild and Royal, but feels trapped and rages against tradition, only to escape and get in major trouble, needs to be rescued and then... Then Daddy might accept her dark-horse of a boyfriend.

I started getting all hot and tingly (I must have spilt boiling coffee on me during one of my eye-rolls) at every mention of Grey. He's the big bad-ass boyfriend who is suitably messed up, but still totally redeemable... Especially when he happens to be the answer to all Ashling's prayers.

My issue with the Insta-love was never more horrendously obvious as it was at 25% through the book. Ashling had met her 'soul mate' a total of three times in two days (for minutes) and professed her undying love for him. He said it first!

I digress.

In summary, I loved the idea, loved the rich history and folk lore added to the story and even some of the traditional rules the werewolf race adheres to, but poor characters and an unfinished manuscript have forced me to rate this low.

The book needs a serious edit, there's continuity issues, far too much repetition, typos and just too many words.

I'm not sure why, but I am curious to see where Ashling and her pack end up, but I'll take a break before trying this author again.

If you like YA paranormal romance, give it a try. If not, avoid it like the plague.

Some things I noticed:

2% - I was certain Father was going (to) brand...
21% - "I(t) wasn't my fault...
33% and 34% - two instances of 'the week flew by' two pages apart. There was only one week mentioned before school.
42% - ...to think he liked(space)playing human...
51% - He was my(space)Grey.
75% - ...it was risky too(delete o) return and leave...
Continuity issues:
1. It was decided that they'd leave tomorrow night, but then she gets prepared and leaves tonight.
2. Ashling never picks up her leather jacket and the journal before leaving...
83% - "Than (Then) what are you doing?"
94% - ...and raged(delete d) consumed him.
...already into March as(delete as) when we arrived...
95% - continuity error: the night they danced around the fire of skulls and furs. The next paragraph nightfall came and the guys moved furniture.

A typical Alison Stuart historical...

Her Rebel Heart - Alison  Stuart

The year is 1643, and England is at the height of civil war. Families and towns have been torn apart by people taking different sides in the battle. Follow the King or the Parliament, your choice will dictate your path.

Deliverance and Penitence Felton (yeah I really didn't like their names!)
unsure about those names
But soon enough I figured they were appropriate for the time period and let it go, especially when they started using shorter nicknames (Pen and Liv) at times.

The story was a typical Alison Stuart historical. Strong women in tough situations thrown together with hunky men and forced to deal with the situation together, even if they don't want to initially. The recipe is a good one, and it works in every one of Alison's books I've read.

I liked too, the dichotomy between Deliverance's stubbornness and Penitence's typically soft female role for that time. One is decisive and fiery (Liv), the other demure and wise in the ways of running a household (Pen), one is deeply in love (Pen) the other is aghast at the idea of needing a man (Liv). It really works well, and when twists and turns happen under the pressure of the besieging armed forces, the outcome is rather amusing.

I quite liked the first fiery scenes with Deliverance and the man sent by their father to protect their home, Captain Luke Collyer. The way in which they irritated each other was amusing.

The same sort of dichotomy could be seen in other supporting characters, and it was used well, if a little caricatured in the extremes. Add in a little intrigue and you've hooked me.

intrigue

The heat level of this story is quite low. The intimate scenes are rather gentle and lovely, nothing too explicit. Certainly suitable for those who like sweet to moderate romance and sizzle-factor.

Beautifully conflicting

— feeling amazing
The Orchid Nursery - Louise Katz

Two words to describe this book: Beautifully conflicting.

The Orchid Nursery contains within its pretty covers, a vicious and unflinching dystopian Australia. One where women have been bred to follow scriptures and beliefs that they should serve men, they should long to be 'Perfected'.

When girls (or girlies as they are called in the book) live under the supervision of an augmented dorm mother in dormitories that bare sexually charged titles and the girls are named after dirt, rocks and wood. Not to mention the horrendous scriptures the girls are led to believe and are brainwashed into not just following, but actively embracing.

For any woman in this day and age, the near-future world that Katz created will rankle and burn as your eyes grate over each word.

But, while the story is a bitter flavored pill to swallow, the writing, oh, my. The writing is superb.

One scene Mica, our pious little narrator, experiences is one of the most chillingly horrific scenes I've read (and I've read some whizz bang horror!) in all my born days. Yet, the way in which it was written drew me in, caressed my inner editor and led her merrily down the garden path. I was so conflicted. I loved it and hated it in the same breath.

Few authors have had this level of impact on me as a reader, and even fewer have been able to get me to check my hatred for open misogyny at the door and swallow my anger.

I should have hated this book for all the hateful crap it spouts (the world, not Katz - let me be clear here!) yet I was drawn in, wanting to understand how a world that decayed and broken could ever have come from anything resembling ours.

What I found, much to my dismay, is that Katz's vision and how they wound up that way, was not completely unbelievable. As much as I wanted to deny it, I can see us making similar mistakes. Taking similar steps into the fiery furnace.

Aside from inflicting extremely conflicting emotions in me, this book provides solid (albeit flawed) characters, it paints a picture of real people, ones filled with good intentions but are forced to make devastating decisions.

It highlights the way in which society can change in one moment, and how we deal with that change may make or break our world.

And it delivers such strong messages about what consequences our decisions have, not just to ourselves, but possibly, those around us too. And of course, it can't be all bleak and darkness, there's a tiny slice of hope and optimism that pokes it's head up too, which rounds out the novel delightfully.

I have never read anything remotely similar to this book, though others are likening it the Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale. I am yet to read it, so I can't comment on that.

I don't know if I really love this book or I hate it, but it's a five star read from me because of how much it has made me think about the ideals and themes in this book, and also for the beautifully crafted writing and amazingly complex characters.

One warning, there's quite a lot of swearing, and frequent use for the c-bomb and other synonyms. Not recommended for younger audiences.

**Note: I won a paperback copy of this book through the GoodReads FirstReads competition**

In the Enemy's Service is a thoroughly enjoyable adventure young adult read.

In the Enemy's Service (Annals of Alasia) - Annie Douglass Lima, Jack Lin

Covering the same timeframe as Prince of Alasia, this story shows the reader how those left in the castle deal with the Malornian invasion and the evil Regent while the young Prince Jaymin remains hidden in the small country towns around Alasia.

If you've read Prince of Alasia, you know how that ends, and it ties in with this story well. It also leads quite nicely into the third book Prince of Malorn, which I haven't read yet, but I plan to in the future.

The protagonist in this book is a young girl, a commoner, and someone who is very wholesome and virginal. But she's not this shining beacon of all things women should be, Annie hasn't written her that way and for me, it worked brilliantly. She's a plucky young girl who shows great strength, cunning and nous. She gets things wrong, but she works hard to fix them and to do the best she can given her circumstances. I thoroughly enjoyed reading about a solid female character who wasn't a ditz and not an amazing amazon-like woman either. Anya read like a real little girl thrown into an amazingly difficult situation.

The supporting cast are wide and varied, including people from both sides of the invasion. I liked the character arcs for a number of them, and that while the Prince was a key point in the story, he didn't really feature as a character.

Full of spying, plotting and counter-plotting, In the Enemy's Service is a thoroughly enjoyable adventure young adult read. I feel it would be suitable for most children, with only a few minor instances of violence.

Nine short stories that are as distinct and unique as can be.

Riding the Dog - Sybil Rosen

Riding the Dog takes its reader along for a rather intriguing ride. The nine short stories that are lovingly enveloped within the covers of this book are as distinct and unique as can be, but at the same time ring of a realism and honesty that many books fail to deliver.

The characters are viewed, warts and all, with nothing to hide from the reader. The character arcs in each short story are varied and interesting in their own way. Ranging from the recently returned soldier travelling home, to the 90-something year old man who barely has a grasp on reality anymore. These stories speak of tales that may not align with all reader experiences, but still draws them in.

The writing is flawless and depicts striking imagery and characters that truly shine off the page and into reality. And each short story had its own tone and voice of character that felt true to them.

Why this didn't get 5 stars from me, is simply that the stories didn't possess that WOW factor, they were great, but just a little short of perfection for me.

Still a thoroughly enjoyable read, one I would recommend to just about anyone.

**Note: I was provided an electronic copy of this book through the Awesome Indies Reviewer program.**