Tag Archive | Paranormal Romance

REVIEW: Remembrance by Meg Cabot (A Mediator Novel)

I apologize for not posting a review in some time. I’ve been keeping very busy with my work over at Melange Books, Satin Romance & Fire and Ice YA Books. Keeping up with the web design, cover design, and releases is a lot of work!

To add to my list of excuses, I had to take some time to binge re-read all six of the original Mediator YA novels by Meg Cabot, so that I could read the new NA novel, Remembrance, which I’ll be reviewing today!


 

I’m only slightly annoyed that the new book is taller than my copies of the original books and won’t line up perfectly on the shelf.

 

Remembrance by Meg Cabot
Series: Mediator #7
Read: Feb 10-11, 2016
Format: Paperback
My Book Rating: 4.5/5 Stars
Genre: Contemporary New Adult Paranormal Romance

This book. THIS BOOK! So many FEELS!

Okay, so about 6 or 7 years ago my mother-in-law told me about this series of books by Meg Cabot called The Mediator. At that point in time I don’t think I’d ever read a Meg Cabot book, though I’d seen the Princess Diaries movies and LOVED them. So she loaned me the books… and I read the entire series back to back a good 5 or 6 times. No joke. I was smitten. I bought the entire set of books and they have a permanent home on my bookcase.

Fast forward to about a year or so ago and I heard that a new Mediator book was being released. Ecstatic is the best word to describe my feelings over this. I love the characters of The Mediator so much, I was over the moon to go on another adventure with them.

So first, if you have NOT read The Mediator books yet, DO NOT READ THIS FULL REVIEW!  It will spoil it for you! You can keep reading for now, then I’ll tell you when to stop!

A quick recap of the premise of the original 6 books is this:
Sure Simon has just moved to Carmel, CA from Brooklyn, NY due to her mother remarrying. Not only does she have a new stepdad (the first father figure in her life since her own dad died ten years prior) but she’s also got three step brothers, whom she hilariously refers to as Sleepy (Jake), Dopey (Brad) and Doc (David).

The thing about Suze is, she sees dead people. She’s a mediator of spirits, a skill she was born with, and learned early on to keep secret. It’s a ability considers a curse. Imagine her surprise when, upon walking into her new bedroom for the first time, she discovers it haunted by an incredibly gorgeous Spanish ghost named Jesse. *Swoon*

In each book Suze has ghostly challenges, and Jesse is always there for her, whether she wants him to or not. Of course she falls in love, but nothing can ever come of it – he’s dead! To add to the fun, she’s got new friends at school CeeCee (the albino), and Adam (the boy who CeeCee is in love with, even though he shamelessly flirts with Suze). She’s also got some new enemies in the form of popular mean girls Kelly and Debbie (who are both somewhat in love with two of Suze’s new stepbrothers, though Suze can’t imagine why.)

Sure is a punch first, ask questions later kind of girl, which doesn’t sit so well with her new high school principal, who happens to be both a Catholic priest and a mediator himself! He becomes her mentor and together they help solve the area’s ghost problems.

Hooked yet? You should be. Seriously. Go check out the books! They’re nice quick reads. Now, if you haven’t read them yet, STOP READING NOW! SPOILERS AHEAD!

This book was… so much…. everything.

Time has passed since we last left Suze and Jesse. They are now engaged. He’s a doctor working as a resident at a local hospital. She’s working an internship at her former high school, well on her way to getting her masters to be a school counselor. What could go wrong? Well, Paul Slater, that’s what could go wrong. The basic gist is Paul is still in love with Suze and will do anything to win her heart (or at least one night with her). After Suze’s step-dad Andy’s TV show took off and started airing in syndication on cable TV, her parents moved away and sold the house – unknowingly to Slater Industries, owned by none other than Suze’s arch nemesis Paul Slater.

In a last ditch effort to have his chance with Suze, Paul is blackmailing her. According to ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics (from his Egyptologist grandfathers collection of Mediator lore), destroying Suze’s former home – the one Jesse haunted for a hundred and fifty years – will unleash a curse on Jesse.

You can take the boy out of the darkness, but you can’t take the darkness out of the boy.

Meanwhile, the ghost of a young girl is clinging to one of the students at the Mission Academy. In an attempt to help said student, Suze unintentionally unleashes the child spirits wrath upon her, nearly getting her killed.

The rest of the old gang is back, and they’ve been up to some pretty hilarious things. I won’t spoil all the details for you, but you can look forward to seeing: Gina (Suze’s BFF from Brooklyn, who is now crashing on her futon), Kelly, Debbie (married to Brad! Mother of 6 year old triplets! I love those triplets!), CeeCee, Adam, Jake (who happens to be roommates with Jesse!), David, and of course, Father Dominic.

There were a few inconsistencies from the original books to this one (I re-read all 6 original books before I let myself read the new one,) but nothing to really spoiled the plot. Just minor details, like for example, it’s said that Suze had Mr. Walden for junior and senior years, but she had him for sophomore and junior years in the book, we never actually get to experience senior year with her.

If you loved Suze’s crazy schemes and hilarious dialogue in the past as much as I do, you can absolutely expect more in this beast of a book. (I’m not kidding, this book is a beast! 388 pages people!)

I Instagrammed a couple of hilarious passages while I was reading, this will give you just a taste of what you’re in for. (For some reason the blog is only letting me embed one, but if you click on my Instagram photos there are a total of 3 from this book.)

I’d forgotten just how much I love to hate #PaulSlater. #amreading #mediator #remembrance #suzesimon #JesseDeSilva #suzeandjesse #megcabot #yareads #bookish #bookquotes #bookboyfriend #bookstagram #bookboyfriend #lovetohate

A photo posted by Caroline Andrus (@caroline_andrus) on

Ultimately, was the book perfect? No. There were some things I’ll change, such as (SPOILER ALERT!) I wish Jesse had stuck to his guns and waited until marriage to sleep with Suze. It was such an important thing to his character, that I felt like he changed too much. And yes, I get that it had been like, 7 years between the evens of the last book and this one, but I still don’t like that he didn’t wait that short time longer. (/END SPOILER)

However, this book had me laughing out loud, sometimes until I was nearly in tears, and for me, that makes this completely worth it. I didn’t feel the immediate need to re-read it though. Maybe that’s because I have so many more books to read right now, or the fact that the book is so much longer than any of the originals. I don’t know.

End result though, if you LOVE the original Mediator books, I’m sure you’ll love these as well.

NOTE: Because the characters are older now, Suze is 24 and Jesse is 28, there is adult language as well as adult situations. While I would totally let my daughter read the other Mediator books as soon as she wants—though I don’t think she’d appreciate them until she was at least 14 or 15—I would wait to introduce her to this book until she was at least 16 or 17, depending on her maturity level at the time.

REVIEW: Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl

Hey readers! Don’t forget to enter to win the ebook copy of Jill Bisker’s sophomore novel ‘The Way Forward’ over HERE! One part (clean) romance / One part ghost hunting fun!


 

Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl

Series: Caster Chronicles #1

Read: Nov – Dec 2015

Format: Kindle Ebook

My Book Rating: 3/5 Stars

Genre: YA Paranormal Romance

 

Things I liked about Beautiful Creatures: The small town southern setting. The fact the book is a YA romance told from the boys POV. The lore surrounding the family curse. Ridley and Link.

Things I did NOT like about Beautiful Creatures: The pacing. The fact that the book is told by the boy, who is actually an outsider looking in on the action. Lena… for the most part.

I really wanted to like Beautiful Creatures. I wanted to love it. I somewhat enjoyed the movie, though it was a little confusing, I hoped the book would bring some clarity. It cleared up a little bit, but not a lot.

If you don’t know what it’s about, Lena is a Caster (basically a witch, but they don’t call themselves witches.) When a Caster turns sixteen, he or she must choose to become Light or Dark. Due to a long ago family curse, Lena’s family does not get to choose – the choice is made for them; they are claimed. Lena’s cousin Ridley was claimed by the Dark, as was Lena’s mother. So, Lena is super depressed and convinced she’s going to be claimed by the Dark. When she moves to the small town of Gatlin, SC to live with her uncle, she meets Ethan Wate. And he is obsessed with her from the first time he lays eyes on her. They soon discover they have a connection neither can deny.

As I said above, I love that this book is told from the hero’s POV instead of the heroine, as is typical in YA paranormal romances. However, the story is Lena’s. Ethan is an outsider looking in. We as the reader are limited by what Ethan knows, and it really wasn’t enough for me. When Lena shuts Ethan out, we the reader are shut out of the story because the plot surrounds Lena.

Lena was cold and standoffish. If I could see in her head, maybe I would like her more. But as is? I didn’t really care what happened to her. She was honestly pretty boring. She had cool powers, but she was so depressed about her pending claiming, it was really hard to like her.

The best characters in the book were Ethan’s BFF Link and Ridley’s Dark cousin Ridley. They had the spark that kept the story moving for me.

When I read this, I really was hoping to experience more details about the ending. The movie ending. Yes, I saw the movie first. (I got it dirt cheap on Black Friday a couple years ago, not having seen it before.) I was disappointed with how different the ending was. Rarely do I find movie adaptations to make changes for the better, but Beautiful Creatures was an example of just that. This ending was more confusing and left more loose ends.

Will I continue the series? Probably not. I did start reading the second book, but I gave up early on because, even more than in Beautiful Creatures, Ethan was the outsider looking in.

So, would I recommend this book? Again, probably not, unless you want to see how the book is different from the movie. Overall it wasn’t terrible, but it certainly wasn’t memorable.

REVIEW: The Way Forward by Jill Bisker

The Way Forward by Jill Bisker

Series: The Ghostly Way #2

Read: December 17, 2015

Format: Kindle Ebook

My Book Rating: 5/5 Stars

Genre: Contemporary Paranormal Romance

 

Laney sees dead people. It’s a gift she’s recently discovered, and a gift she wishes she could give back.

The Way Forward is the follow up to Jill Bisker’s debut novel, Finding the Way Back. What I love about reading an authors first book, then going on to read their second or third, is seeing how much they’ve grown as an author. In FTWB, at times I grew a little bored at all of the details given, but with TWF, Ms. Bisker has found the perfect balance of describing just enough to set the scene without bombarding the reader with too much superfluous information.

In book 1, Laney discovers the ability to see and speak to ghosts when she takes on the task of de-cluttering and renovating her recently deceased grandfather’s house, with the help of her cousin, Connie. It is during that ordeal that she also meets and falls for ghost hunter Emmett.

In book 2, things are not all cupcakes and roses for Laney and Emmett. He’s pressuring her to learn to use her gift and help ghosts move on, while she’s trying her hardest to suppress her ability. But really, it’s hard to blame her—being nearly killed by a ghost would make nearly anyone hesitant to use their gift!

When Emmett informs her that a ghost is haunting a little boy, against her better judgment, Laney agrees to try to help. She gets more than she bargained for when the boys father—a recent widower—shows romantic interests toward her, causing more friction in her relationship with Emmett.

TWF does a great job of guiding us through Laney’s journey of finding out more about her gift, all the while trying to help free the little boy of his ghost, on top of her own ghost drama in her own home!

You can certainly read this book without reading book 1, however you’ll miss out on the blossoming romance between Laney and Emmett which occurs in book 1. I think any fan of ghosts and romance will enjoy this story.

 

BONUS: Coming early 2016, Ms. Bisker is releasing an ebook short featuring the ghosts from book 1—read the full story of their tragic romance!

 

 

Disclaimer: I designed the cover for this book so I do receive a small monetary compensation for sales of the book. This in no way affects my review of the book. If I wanted to be dishonest, every book I design covers for would be a 5 star read! 😉

REVIEW: Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater

Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater

Series: The Wolves of Mercy Falls #1

Read: October 12-13 2015

Format: Audiobook

My Book Rating: 3/5 Stars

Narrator Rating: 3/5 Stars

Genre: Paranormal Romance YA

 

I’m writing this review for Shiver a little over a month after listening to the audiobook… and I had to look at the Goodreads description to trigger my memory. Not a good sign for a book.

Shiver is the story of Grace and Sam. When Grace was a young girl, she was attacked by a pack of wolves, pulled from her backyard and dragged into the woods behind them. Sam, a wolf at the time, saved her. Years later, Grace is obsessed with the wolves. Despite them having nearly killed her, she loves them with all her heart, especially one wolf. The wolf she will learn is actually Sam.

You see, Grace’s wolves aren’t regular wolves, they’re shifters. When the cold weather comes, they shiver from human to wolf.

This was actually a really interesting take on werewolves, but it was just lacking something for me. It wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t great either. It didn’t leave me desperate to read the next book in the series.

I did like that it was set in my home state of Minnesota. Not enough books set here IMO!

At times things moved really slowly, especially while Sam and Grace were apart. I wanted a romance, not a tragedy. I think I remember the ending being satisfying, but at this point I honestly can’t remember.

So basically, if you stumble upon the book give it a chance, but don’t go out of your way for it. My two cents.

REVIEW: Pyromancist by Charmaine Pauls

Before I get to the review of Pyromancist by Charmaine Pauls, I have the share the wonderful news I received earlier this week related to this book.

Each year EPIC (Electronic Publishing Industry Coalition) holds two contests, one for books and another for book covers. A handful of covers which I designed were entered in various categories and I am so incredibly humbled and honored to have received word that I was selected as a finalist in three categories of the EPIC Ariana Cover Awards!

One of which is the cover for Pyromancist, in the erotica category. Also in the running are my covers for Unhinged by Shelley R. Pickens (horror) and First Sun by Tara Tolly (romance). Winners won’t be announced until March, but honestly, I’m just so excited to be a finalist, actually winning would be the icing on the cake. I already feel like a winner!

 


 

Pyromancist by Charmaine Pauls (Seven Forbidden Arts #1)

Read: October 6-7, 2015

Format: Ebook (Kindle)

My Book Rating: 4/5 Stars

Genre: Paranormal Romance Erotica

Pyromancist is the story of a young woman named Clelia. Her mother, who died in childbirth with Clelia, was an oddity in the town—a Japanese woman who was abandoned in the village as a child—and said to be a witch, due to the mysterious fires that began upon her arrival. Fast forward many years and we find Clelia, now in her early 20’s, living with her grandfather in the village in which she was raised.

Josselin was just a boy when Clelia first met him. A few years her senior, she developed quite a crush on him, especially after he rescued her from a bully. Josselin is quite damaged however, with a very tragic past, and as soon as he could, he left town with no plans to return.

The story finds Clelia on the run, fearful that the fires, which have been popping up in the night all around her village, are her doing. Before she can get far, she’s captured by Josselin and his paranormal crime taskforce.

This is a steamy book. I don’t usually read erotica because it’s just not what I like in books. For me, there was too much sex. For those who like super hot books, trust me, this is the book for you! That said, once I put the sex aside, I did enjoy the story. The concept of the paranormal crime taskforce, and the seven forbidden arts, is an interesting one. Josselin’s power, which is not one of the seven, is a very unique and interesting one as well.

While I liked the build up of the relationship between Clelia and Josselin, I didn’t much care for Josselin and how he treated Clelia in the story. He is very much a domineering alpha male, which I know many readers absolutely love, but he was a little too controlling for my liking. He obviously cared very deeply for Clelia and that was how he knew how to deal with things. And that’s not to say Clelia just let him walk over her, but she certainly didn’t assert herself as much as I would have liked. That said, just as all people are different, so are all characters. Since this is the first in the series, and I know Clelia and Josselin will be popping up in the rest of the books (though not as the main characters), I hope to see Josselin tame his domineering side and Clelia stand up to him a little more.

Ultimately, if you’re looking for a super sexy paranormal story that doesn’t involve vampires or shifters, this might be just the book to hit the spot.

Disclaimer: I designed the cover for this book so I do receive a small monetary compensation for sales of the book. This in no way affects my review of the book. If I wanted to be dishonest, every book I design covers for would be a 5 star read! 😉

REVIEW: Ghost for Sale by Sandra Cox

I recently joined NetGalley, which if you don’t know, is a service that allows authors and publishers to offer their books to reviewers. Anyone can join, but you have a better chance if you’re a blogger. So, I joined. Then felt guilty because I started my full time job and didn’t think I’d have time to read any of the books I was approved for. Then I discovered I could use text to speech on these books and listen to them while working! I don’t feel so guilty now, because while text to speech narration is pretty terrible, at least I’m getting the reading done! (And my local library’s audiobook selection is severely lacking the type of books I want to read.)

Below is my review for the first book I received from NetGalley. Unfortunately, my first experience was not a very enjoyable one, but I have hopes that I’ll be approved for some books I will enjoy.

 


 

Ghost for Sale by Sandra Cox

Read: August – September 2015

Format: Ebook ARC (Kindle)

My Book Rating: 2.5/5 Stars

Genre: New Adult Paranormal Romance

 

I received an ARC of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Confession. I got about 30% through this book and didn’t think I could finish. Then, I realized I could use the text to speech feature on my Kindle and listen to the book at work. Multi-tasking at its finest. If not for text to speech, I probably would have quit this book.

When I saw Ghost for Sale on NetGalley I had to read it. I’m a huge fan of Meg Cabot’s Mediator series, about a girl who can see, hear, and touch ghosts. In Mediator, the heroine moves into an old house with her family and discovers a ghost from the 1800’s living in her bedroom. The romance is a slow build throughout the series and the characters have more to their lives than just thinking about how hot the other is. Like, mediating ghosts and helping them cross to the afterlife.

While Ghost for Sale starts out great, with our heroine Caitlin’s cousin/roommate, Marcy, receiving two test tubes in the mail, supposedly containing ghosts, and upon opening said test tubes only Caitlin can see said ghost. From there, it goes downhill.

For starters, despite being told multiple times that Caitlin’s cousin Marcy is so beautiful and rich and all the guy want her, every single male in the book asks Caitlin out. In the beginning, in the club, she dances with and is asked out by two guys, minutes apart, if that. She gets hit on by a cop who pulls her over. Don’t even get me started on the “not really her boyfriend” guy who dates her, while seeing other girls because he “has needs” and Caitlin won’t sleep with him. It was downright unbelievable that the author couldn’t add in a single male character who didn’t fall all over himself for Caitlin.

Caitlin herself was completely impossible to relate to. See previous paragraph, then add in how shallow she acts. One guy actually tells her something along the lines of “you act ditzy, but I know you’re actually very smart” – how??? How does he know this because she acts like an idiot for 98% of the book. As stated before, we’re told multiple times how beautiful and rich Marcy is, and how Caitlin’s family doesn’t have money like them, yet her parents can afford to buy her a custom pink VW Bug for her birthday? Maybe she’s not as well off as Marcy, but it was irritating to be led to believe she’s not rich when she is.

Then, let’s talk about clothes and coffee. On second thought, let’s not. It felt as though every other page Caitlin was drinking coffee or thinking about coffee or her ghost, Liam, was bringing her coffee. Every time she changed clothes we had to hear what she was wearing, down to her jewelry and nail polish choice. As well as every other character. I DON’T CARE WHAT YOU’RE WEARING! If it’s not relevant to the story, and doesn’t drive the plot forwards, why waste my time?

Speaking of the story, after the promising opening, it slowed. It didn’t pick up again until almost halfway through. The beginning was us being told how much Caitlin loves Liam despite him making sexist comments and basically kind of being a jerk in my opinion. All while she’s dating this AMAZING guy she met in the club, Patrick, who was sweet, kind, caring, fun and most importantly, ALIVE.

I don’t want to give the whole story away, so I’ll be vague here. Basically, everything is tied up all pretty with a bow with our heroine basically having to do nothing at all, things just fell into place. The “villain” backed down in about two seconds. And Caitlin reacted like Bella in Twilight when Edward left her. At least Bella had the excuse of having had an intense relationship with Edward, whereas Caitlin knew Liam about a week. She was a complete drama queen and I never bought the romance for one second.

The ending…. Let’s just say there’s suspense of belief in fiction, and then there’s scoffing at the absurdity of what the author wants us to believe.

In all, I feel Cox has potential as an author, but this story didn’t work. There wasn’t enough of a plot to work with – it actually felt like most of the beginning was added as filler to make the book longer—and though she tried to build a romance between Caitlin and Liam, it just didn’t work. I didn’t believe it. When the characters act one way and the other characters don’t react reasonably, it just doesn’t work for me.

Ultimately, I’d say skip this one. If another book by this author appears on NetGalley I’d give it a shot, but I won’t expect much.