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Julius Caesar's great-great-granddaughter

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The Ghost and the Graveyard by Genevieve Jack - surprisingly good, but I had some qualms about it. [Dec. 15th, 2015|10:05 pm]
Julius Caesar's great-great-granddaughter
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This book has a fairly complex mythos - the heroine is the reincarnation of a person who was more along the lines of a demi-goddess than the witch she is being described as, and the heroine needs to decide if she will take up the mantle of responsibility, and the perks and drawbacks associated with it.   Buffy has definitely influenced this work - the heroine has hints of both Buffy's calling and Willow's skills.
It is a series, and like most series, it's not the whole story.  Parts of the story are resolved in this book, but many more are left hanging, especially the romance.  There was enough of a story that what was left hanging didn't annoy me.
The romance plot here is a love triangle.  I'm not normally fond of these in romance, because it doesn't allow for the chemistry that I think marks a good romance.  It works here as this is more of a urban fantasy (with sex).  Both guys are hiding something, and both are telling the heroine to not trust the other person.  The author balances this nicely so that it's not clear who to trust, for the heroine or the reader, without resorting to the idiot ball.
What I did find problematic was some of the aspects of the sex.  One of the male leads has a level of influence over the heroine that makes it unclear to the heroine (or the reader) as to whether  she was actually up for what was going on.  It's rape-y enough that it bothered me, but I'm somewhat sensitive to this.  She is sexually attracted to him, and would probably been right there without the influence, so I'm not sure if this is intended to demonstrate that something about the guy is not kosher, or if it is to excuse getting into the sex as quickly as the book does.
There are a couple of other problems with the writing.  The quality of the writing is uneven - it flips between "I'm writing a novel" and "I'm talking to my BFF" .   And there are some holes in the plotting and flow.  One event that is part of the climax is anticipated so early that I wondered why it hadn't happened long before it actually did.  And the setup has some issues - the way it sounds the house should have been overrun with ghosts, instead of having only the two.
In the end, I think this is a pretty  good lightweight urban fantasy that would have been better with the sex toned down a bit.  Read it if the non-consensual aspect isn't a problem.
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Blood Magic by Jennifer Lyon - I want to read the book this could have been [Dec. 10th, 2015|12:00 am]
Julius Caesar's great-great-granddaughter
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This book has some really great concepts, and it had the potential to be not just a good romance, but a good fantasy novel.  But ...  nope.  It fails, by relying on some of the more annoying romance tropes.  This is one of those books where I want to regularly slap sense into the characters, and show them the obvious solution to the problems they run into!
The heroines are witches, and the heroes are witch hunters - I would have called them something else, because they're supposed to only hunt witches that have gone to the dark side, so to speak.
It has an interesting magic system (although not as realized as some I've read),  and a very creative curse with a catch-22 loophole, and the opportunity for some realistic conflict.  And while it is the first book in the series, the author does resolve the primary conflict and doesn't dangle too many loose plot lines at the end.
But every time I was really enjoying the story, the author would go back to moving the romantic plot along with Poor Communications Kills and passing the idiot ball, and maybe even a little bit of soap opera asshole.  Honestly, if someone endangers their life to save your much loved little sister, you owe them anything and everything, and you don't get pissed if they need you.  And in regard to  Poor Communications Kills if someone tells you that spell A could affect the person, but not force them to do something, for og's sake, tell the person about it.  (of course, there's at least two chapters that just wouldn't exist if your people are halfway intelligent about things)
Bottom line - If you like magic users and hot sex, and don't mind authors who use the idiot ball to move the plot along, you'll probably enjoy it.  I might read the remaining books if they show up for free, but I probably won't pay for them.
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New Beginnings by Brandy Rivers - mediocre, with one unpardonable sin [Nov. 23rd, 2015|11:59 pm]
Julius Caesar's great-great-granddaughter
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I am sure that there are going to be people out there who really enjoy this book - after all, it has hot sex scenes with good looking people, enough plot to fill pages between sex scenes, and a committed relationship in the end to give it a veneer of respectablity.
It does not have good writing, or even ok writing.  The characters exhibit what I call soap opera stupidity - for instance: Guy - I didn't want a relationship; girl - OMG, you don't want a relationship now.  Guy - there's an insane guy who wants to hurt you, lock your windows; girl - don't tell me what to do!
Plot is basic: Sassy independent woman arrives in town, falls for the alpha male (literally the alpha, since this is a werewolf story).  However, since the alpha male is perfect, the auther has to make the villian insane (he hears voices), so that we can have some dramatic tension without having to write realistic interactions or flawed characters.
And this is where the author commited what I consider an unpardonable sin.  It's not enough that we had to make the villain insane, then we make him gay as well, and all very "hush, hush, no one can know" gay.  It certainly doesn't add to the story, and - at best it comes across as "no one will care if I kill off a gay", and at worst "gays are icky, so he needed to be killed anyway".  Dear Ms Rivers - this is the new millenium - gays are not cannon fodder, nor are they throwaway evil. 
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Depravity by M. J. Haag - I didn't like it at all, and you might want a trigger warning. [Nov. 17th, 2015|04:50 pm]
Julius Caesar's great-great-granddaughter
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It's a re-telling of Beauty and the Beast, which is my favorite fairy tale plot, so this should have been a shoe-in.
The biggest problem I had with this book is that it starts with a scene depicting coerced sexual activity (not quite rape, but the next thing to it).  That's actually the worst it gets, although there's also at least one near-rape scene.  This may be some people's thing (Catherine Coulter is a huge romance author, and I've never read a book of hers that didn't have at least one scene that was rape at some level)  but I don't want to read it.  
The other problem is that the story is set in a vaguely medieval-ish setting, but the author's voice - and therefore the voice of the heroine, as this is first person - is entirely too modern, several times to the point of being jarring.
The Beast is a jerk - he breaks promises,  throws temper tantrums whenever he doesn't get his way, manipulates Beauty, and treats her poorly.  This is not how the story is supposed to go - the Beast is supposed to be a good man trapped in a terrifying body.
This is not a complete book - like many current "series", the primary story line is left at "to be continued" at the end of the book.  But I'm not interested in seeing how this one plays out.
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Haunted on Bourbon Street by Deanna Chase - Very good, although not a keeper [Nov. 15th, 2015|03:48 pm]
Julius Caesar's great-great-granddaughter
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I've made the mistake of not reviewing this book immediately after reading it, so I'm fuzzy on the details.
I like the concept - an empath settles into an apartment on Bourbon Street and attracts ghosts.  The author is doing some serious world building here but it doesn't impede the flow of the story, and better yet - there are some minor plot lines that are left unresolved, but the primary plot line is resolved in this book (something that cannot be said about a lot of urban fantasy series!)
The only things I remember not liking : The author uses pairing two beautiful people as a shortcut for  chemistry  - but that's the number one method of producing chemistry easily.  Also, there's a twisted ankle that's only a problem when it needs to be, and the heroine walks barefoot down Bourbon Street, which gave me the only real "You've got to be kidding me"

All in all, a good story for people who like ghost stories, and people who like magic and ESP elements in their stories.  I'm getting the next book (at 99 cents).
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Forgotten by Maggie Shayne - slightly better than meh [Aug. 30th, 2015|12:24 am]
Julius Caesar's great-great-granddaughter
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This book is a very common plot - psychic is "seeing" serial killer's future victims, has to figure out who the killer is before he(she?) kills again.  There are a couple of twists, which I won't spoiler.  There's also a couple of plot holes  that show the author is more of a romance author than a mystery writer - really, it seems like the coroners should have established an approximate height for the murderer.

Overall it was enjoyable (especially for free), but not a great book.  The writing was solid (which makes it better than a lot of the free ebooks), the plotting was adequate, but not particularly creative (and like I said, left some holes wide open).  Actually, every aspect of the writing was like that - adequate, but not anything that hasn't been done better before.

So, get it if you like psychics and serial killer stories - I'd say that it would even be worth paying 99 cents, but not more than that.
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Rockstar Ghost by KuroKoneko Kamen - bad, no make that very bad [Aug. 27th, 2015|10:11 pm]
Julius Caesar's great-great-granddaughter
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I didn't start with high expectations - it does feature a "Rockstar" and has a Manga version of the rock star in question as the cover.   It has some of the usual problems with amatuer offerings - misspellings (including Walmart!), unrealistic attributes (one of the characters has red eyes),  overconcern with material things (e.g. Prada, Armani, etc.  are the only things worth having).  And like many authors are doing nowadays, this book ends in the middle of the story.

The author seems to have no awareness about how American culture or the medical community works, as well as a few other things.

The author also seems to be a virgin and probably quite young - any hint of sexual behavior is greeted by the heroine with "Pervert!"

Where the book really fails though, is the structure.  The author just doesn't know how to put together a story.  Characters, traits and conflicts are introduced right before they are needed, and sometimes dropped as soon as they aren't needed anymore.   Also, some things are there that need to be dropped.  A paragraph is devoted to how the heroine is making lasagna.  If this were a cozy mystery featuring an enthusiastic cook, it would be appropriate, but not so much here.  In another instance, the heroine and friends go to a nightclub, and the author spends a paragraph listing all the famous people who have been there.

However...
I feel like there is some talent here.  If the author gets and editor or a mentor to show how to structure her stories, and what needs to go and what needs to stay, and maybe talks to some of the people who actually do what her characters are supposed to be doing, then I think she has a chance of writing some really good books.  It's just not this one.
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Ready to Were by Robyn Petermen - great, fun, funny read! [Jun. 25th, 2015|12:24 am]
Julius Caesar's great-great-granddaughter
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It's a fairly common romance plot - heroine (because, reasons) has to go back to her home town and the jerk she left behind.  (Or is he?)  But every time I think the author is going to slip into a well-worn rut, she deftly sidesteps it with a wink and a laugh.
This is the beginning of a series, but this book stands on it's own as well, and the central issues are resolved.  We're introduced to the next problem (or maybe set of problems), but those aren't given so much screen time that you feel like you are cheated of a story.  Hallelujah!  I get so tired reading a "book" that is just a tease to get you to buy a series.
Bear in mind, this is not great art, but I don't expect that of romances.  The world building is a little light weight and the character are sometimes too perfect. However, the humor and pacing are so well done that I don't care if the hero is "Central casting hero type 1"
I will be reading more of Ms. Petermen's stories!
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The Alpha’s Captive #1-3 by V. M. Black - Taken, Pursuit, & Flight: not bad [Jun. 21st, 2015|10:39 pm]
Julius Caesar's great-great-granddaughter
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The basic plot of this series is "Bad guys after the hero, and the hero picks up the heroine while trying to get away".  It's not a kidnapping, in fact the heroine rather forcefully insists on accompanying the hero in his quest to save himself and his people.

Technically, this is three books, and there are at least two more out there.  I don't know if it will be five total, or if the story continues on from there.

However, none of the "three" books that I read could stand on its own.  There was no separate plot for any book, just events as part of the overall plot.  I think the internet has successfully done what Stephen King wanted to - revived the serial form of storytelling.    The question becomes - do you want to read the next story after you finish this one?  For this series, for me the question is no.

It's a wild ride - motorcycle, car, werewolf in wolf form, boat, and mini Cooper, just in the first three books - and a fun one, but I'm not even that interested at this point  to see if I can find the next book for free.  There's just not quite enough world building, quite enough characterization or quite enough plot to keep me interested.  And I'm not enough of a car and motorcycle afficianado to like that part of the story.
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of Fur and Fangs anthology - really bad, bad, bad, bad, and who knows [Jun. 13th, 2015|09:55 pm]
Julius Caesar's great-great-granddaughter
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This is an anthology of 6 shape-shifter novels.  First, either it's badly marked up, or my Banana PC Jr. tablet doesn't like these - the contents page was all sorts of screwed up.

Story 1 - FANG CHRONICLES: MANDY’S STORY by D’Elen McClain.  I didn't get a page into this one.  The female were-wolf kidnapped a were-bear and declared that he would fall in love with her when they had sex, and if that didn't work, she'd just wait until Stockholm Syndrome set in.  Next.

Story 2 - BIG BAD BEAST by Skhye Moncrief.  I actually read all the way through this one, mainly because I was bored and it never made me actually want to kill the author.  It is mainly driven by soap opera stupidity.  ("Dammit, why did he keep me from leaving, even though I'd have to leave the gate open and let all the monsters in to kill everyone in the building") 

Story 3 - FERAL FASCINATIONS by Skhye Moncrief.  I didn't get past the setup - it sounded like the author got most of her sci-fi babble from Flash Gordon, and the whole plot of the story was "I fuck him and it saves the universe"  (I wonder if the Sad Puppies would like it)

Story 4 - THE GEORGIAN EMBRACE by Sky Purington.   I had hopes for this one.  I really like stories involving ghosts, and this started out with a ghost.  The author has watched a bit too much HGTV (Georgian in the title refers to the style of the house where the story is set). It turns into a time travel story, with people bouncing between the present and the Georgian era like yo-yos. I was still reading, but getting more and more bored with the story, until the story started to act like it was going to use rape to advance the romance.  I gave up on this story at that point.

And, since there was no way to get to the next story without paging, I gave up on this books.
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