Book Review: Amy Maurer Jones’ April Drools

aprildroolsTitle: April Drools
Author: Amy Maurer Jones
Genre: YA / Paranormal
Series: Yes / Short 2
Rating: 5 out of 5
My Copy: Review Copy via Author

Synopsis:
Hardy Hunter, here (your favorite werewolf). Welcome back to Mundane High. Sadly, not much has changed since Valentine’s Day. You’d think my vampire BFF dating the very human captain of the football team would have made life a little easier for a supernatural at Mundane High, but no such luck. Samantha and I are still lonely outcasts looking for love in all the wrong places, but that’s no surprise. The vamp always gets the girl (or guy, in this case) in Hollywood, but what about the werewolf? Yeah, not so much—unless there’s a new she-were in town.

Claire Crescent is beyond beautiful, and I haven’t failed to notice. Unfortunately, my human male counterparts haven’t either. Making everything more complicated, the mate Claire left behind at her old school still haunts her heart. For the time being, I’m playing it smart by offering Claire my friendship. I pray, after time, my friendship with her will develop into something deeper.

How did that 1950s love song go? Why Do Fools Fall in Love? Um, yeah, you can say it: My life still sucks!

I adored April Drools! Of course there goes my theory of Hardy secretly crushing on Rhapsody. April Drools picks up a few months after Vampire Valentine takes place and our favorite couple Rhapsody and Reese are still together. This time, we get Hardy’s story and oh what a story it is!

Our three favorite supernatural beings are still misfits, even though the school has become more aware of them now that Rhapsody has been dating Reese. When the new girl, Claire, enrolls, every male has eyes for her and Hardy isn’t the exception. Taking one look at her, our favorite werewolf just turns into putty and he’s a bit upset when Rhapsody and Samantha approach her. Only because he’s not sure of what to make of her. Claire isn’t too thrilled to learn she’s one of four supernatural beings now enrolled. At her old school, they pretty much dominated the scene. Claire and Hardy quickly become fast friends, but when a fellow student begins to ask her out, Hardy’s temper flares because he’s protective of her. The two quickly become an item, but when they run into Claire’s ex-boyfriend at a local theater, will Claire’s feelings change?

I’m keeping quiet about the ending, but I had so much reading April Drools. Hardy is such a great character and Jones does a great job with his voice. I love the interaction between Rhapsody and Samantha with Hardy. The three truly are friends and as you read, you can easily feel the comradeship the three have. Rhapsody calls Hardy Fido with Samantha laughing along calling him Fee-Fee too. I really liked how Rhapsody and Samantha welcomed Claire into her inner circle. Ask anyone who has moved, it’s not easy being the new kid and to have two people welcome you with open arms is heartwarming. I felt Claire’s uneasiness at first and here Jones showcases how well she’s familiar with students.

April Drools is a fun read! If you haven’t read Vampire Valentine, I recommend it so you’re familiar with the characters. It’s okay to pick this up and dive right in if you’re so inclined.

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Blog Tour: Review & Giveaway-Jessa Russo’s Ever

everTitle: Ever
Author: Jessa Russo
Genre: YA / Paranormal
Series: Yes / Book 1 of 3
Rating: 3 out of 5
My Copy: Review copy via Author

Seventeen-year old Ever Van Ruysdael has a secret: she’s been in love with her childhood best friend, Frankie, for years and never got the chance to tell him. Two years ago, Frankie and Ever were involved in a car accident and Frankie died. He helped Ever stay alive by guiding her to safety and Frankie became ghost following his death. He’s been living with Ever and her family since that night. Although she knows they can never be together she longs for a boyfriend or to experience the feelings of falling in love. When Frankie’s father sells his house, she quickly catches the eye of the new neighbor’s son, Toby. Soon her and Toby are spending time together and she has to grapple with her new feelings for him while keeping him a secret from Frankie. Things are not what they seem and when Ever finds out Toby’s true motivates, she has to deal with the death of a beloved family member and the reality that Frankie may be back.

Jessa Russo does a good job of engaging the reader immediately and Ever is well written. In terms of characterization, I really liked Ever’s best friend, Jessie. Your heart aches for what she goes through regarding her family life. Putting myself into Ever’s shoes and if my best friend had a life like her’s, I would do everything I can to be there for her. In that one scene with Jessie’s mother and her boyfriend, I’m glad Jessie had the support of Ever’s parents.

There are a lot of unanswered questions. The first one is regarding Frankie and how easily he just adjusted to being a ghost and living with Ever’s family. I wish Russo would have explained a little more of her family’s reaction to having him around. Also, why did he focus on Ever and not his own family? I believe a lot of the heartache his parents experienced could have been avoided, but alas in order to have this plot, he needed to be with Ever. There’s also a line that had me scratching my head. When Ever’s mother is standing next to Ariadne, Ever makes note that both of them look alike. That unsettled me a bit because it’s never explored and there’s mention of Ever having a sister dying before she was born. Furthermore, there’s an incident involving Ever’s father and Toby says it was an accident and it wasn’t supposed to happen. Why the change in plans?

I debated heavily with the rating and often bordered on a three / four rating. Ultimately, I went with the three because of some unanswered questions and for the first quarter of the novel. Ever started strong, but it just fell flat with the constant feelings Ever had regarding Toby. It picked up once Ariadne made an appearance and even though she felt like a caricature at times, she was the second intriguing character. Frankie for me stole the show and I wish we had more of his perspective. He’s the first to warn Ever about Toby and says he’s not a good guy. Why is that Frankie? Did Frankie have an idea of Toby’s employment? What was his reaction towards Ariadne when was he given the choice of what ultimately becomes Ariadne’s gift to Ever?

Ever ends on a cliffhanger, which I won’t reveal, but I’m looking forward to reading book 2, Evade, because I’d love to know what happens to Ever and Frankie. The premise is interesting and if you’re a fan of the paranormal genre, then I recommend this book.

EVER Review Tour Banner Click on the banner for the full review tour schedule


giveaway
Jessa is giving away 1 signed copy of Ever and Evade (when it’s available) to one lucky winner. Click here to enter.

Book Review: Melissa R Smith’s Touch of Silver

touchofsilverTitle: Touch of Silver
Author: Melissa R Smith
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Series: Yes / Book 3
Rating: 5 out of 5
My Copy: Review Copy via Author

Melissa R. Smith’s Touch of Silver is the eagerly anticipated sequel to Legacy. It can be read as a standalone if you don’t mind not knowing the back story; however, Smith does an excellent job keeping readers up to date without bogging down the reader in history. A new reader can easily read this book without too many spoilers.

Touch of Silver picks up where Legacy left off; months have passed since Roman and Devani last saw each other. She’s a prisoner at work with her all actions being reported to London and the Militia. Devai is surprised when Echo gets in touch and requests for her to change her work shift. Unaware of the reason, she reluctantly agrees and later that evening, she comes face to face with Roman. He explains he hasn’t stopped loving her and wants them to be together, but Devani resists because she knows London is watching and she wants to protect Roman. When an attempt is made on Devani’s life, she goes to Roman seeking his protection. Touch of Silver shows us the lengths a son will go through to keep his father’s legacy pristine and to hide a horrific secret.

I’ve been lucky enough to read Smith’s previous work. Touch of Silver has surprised me because it shows how much she’s grown as a writer and I do believe readers will enjoy her latest piece. The writing is engaging and witty. I loved the moment Roman meets with Devani and when their reunion is interrupted by Bethany knowing Bethany can make her life hell he says, “Say the word and I’ll drain her.” Touch of Silver is also heartbreaking. When Devani and Roman see the evidence Jake Daniels went to protect, you’re filled with heartache. The way Smith sets up the scene, as you read, you can feel it as the scene progresses. Echo’s disbelief at what she sees to Roman’s reaction will leave you emotionally drained. Then there’s London and what he orders the members of the Militia to do. You can feel his desperation at the lengths he’ll go to get what he wants. I don’t know what his fate is with regards to his appearance in a future book, but I hope the Sects get a hold of him.

Most of the characters from Legacy are featured and Smith goes into a more detailed background with regards to characterization. We get to know a little more about Tracy and I was surprised to find she was related to someone Devani knows. I really liked how Smith set up the prejudices people have against Sanguines. She also shows us the differences between the territories and we’re introduced to Phillip Trahan, the Elder in New Orleans. Oh Phillip! What an interesting character and I’m sure most readers will be left wanting more. The writing is engaging and detailed. One of my favorite scenes involves Echo playing Angry Birds:

“I can never get the silly boomerang bird to work right.” Echo was sitting on the count next to me. A magazine was in her lap, but she was playing Angry Birds on iPad instead. “I want to trade him in for that big red bird, now that sucker can break through anything.”

In the end, I loved Touch of Silver. Be prepared for an emotional rollercoaster. Please note: do not begin this book in the evening; otherwise you’ll experience a sleepless night because you won’t be able to put it down.

Book Review: Melissa R Smith’s Legacy

legacyTitle: Legacy
Author: Melissa R. Smith
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Series: Yes / Book 2
Rating: 4 out of 5
My Copy: Review Copy via Author

Melissa R Smith’s Legacy is the second book in the Sanguine series and it is part one of a two part series. It is very much a standalone book and if you haven’t read Six Hours to Sunrise, you won’t be left trying to backtrack since Legacy introduces a new set of characters and takes places in a different location.

Six Hours to Sunrise addresses the issue of Sanguines living among us and what it’s like to grow up unaware of them. Legacy touches on the relationships between the Militia and Sanguine. The Militia are a self governed group of humans who make it their business to make sure Sanguines honor the Lossbridge Treaty. The treaty outlines what Sanguines can and cannot do, which some Sanguines oppose, but only because they feel a treaty wasn’t necessary. What happens when a top ranking militia official befriends a Sanguine? What if said Sanguine finds his mate amongst a descendant of a militia member? That’s what Legacy attempts to answer.

Devani Daniels is just fourteen years old when she begins to form a bond with Tristan, a Sanguine. Tristan quickly recognizes the signs and makes arrangements to leave her life because such a connection cannot happen at such a young age. Her father realizes there is no denying his daughter’s fate and proceeds to sever his family’s ties regarding participation in the Legacy Act. The act itself just means, children of high ranking Militia members automatically are held to the regulations even if they don’t become Militia officials. Unfortunately, Devani and her sister are unaware of this and when Devani is invited to an unknown club, she has no idea her life is about to be turned upside down. When she’s informed of her reason for being invited to the Weeping Orchid, Devani immediately gets ready to leave. She’s aware of what Sanguines are and doesn’t want anything to do with them; however, the club owner and his companion, Simeon and Echo, quickly explain the purpose of the club and she changes her mind. Later she meets Tracy and her boyfriend Greg and spends the evening dancing the night way, but when she learns she’s been reserved for someone named Roman, Devani begins to question if she really wants to be involved with them. Little does she know, two men from her past will renter her life and she has to make the difficult decision of protecting her family or take a chance on love.

Character development is strong and readers will associate with Devani. We have a heroine who is strong and isn’t afraid to fight for what she believes. Readers will enjoy the relationship she has with her sister, Jasmine. Echo is a force to be reckoned with as well as Simeon. Of course we must have a villain and London is a toad of the first order. I can’t wait to see what fate awaits him in part two, Touch of Silver.

The writing is engaging and polished. One note regarding the narrative, Smith uses first person point of view, but it does interchange at times with Roman’s narrative. It’s not bothersome, but might distract readers since you aren’t told when the narrative changes. We do need Roman’s narrative and Smith does a good job placing it where we needed it and it becomes clear as you read. I personally enjoyed Roman’s past and how he and Jake Daniels came to understand one another.

Legacy ends on a cliffhanger and readers will be left dying to know what happens next. Lucky for you the wait isn’t far since Touch of Silver is scheduled for an early March release. In the meantime, you can read Legacy for free at Smashwords using coupon code: WC87W.

Book Review: Amy Maurer Jones’ Vampire Valentine

vampire valentine copyTitle: Vampire Valentine
Author: Amy Maurer Jones
Genre: YA / Paranormal
Series: Yes / Short 1
Rating: 4 out of 5
My Copy: Review Copy via Author

A vampire, werewolf, and a witch walk into a high school…no this isn’t the start of a joke, but the characters in Amy Maurer Jones’ paranormal comedy short. Vampire Valentine is about three misfit supernatural beings who happen to be best friends. Our vampire is Rhapsody Ripper who has crooked fangs and wears braces. Hardy Hunter is a werewolf and is on the football team. He’s protective of Rhapsody and there might be little more to their friendship, but Jones doesn’t expand on this (I believe Hardy is secretly in love with her). Finally, we have Samantha Spell, Rhapsody’s best friend, who happens to be a witch, but she’s still learning to cast spells. So what happens when Rhapsody gets asked to the Valentine’s Day dance by the star footballer? What chaos will ensue? I’m keeping quiet, but I’ll say this, Jones reminds us that high school really does suck.

Synopsis:
How is it that vampires, werewolves and witches always manage to become glamorized in Hollywood? They are forever portrayed as the overwhelmingly gorgeous, record-breaking athletic types with off-the-chart SAT scores! This is such a load of crap. Let’s be honest with ourselves for a minute. It’s never easy being different, even under normal circumstances. Now factor in the reality that your DNA is something far from human and imagine yourself wandering the halls of an ordinary mortal high school. You still think this would be cool, right? Well, you would be dead wrong (no pun intended). Take it from someone who can claim this miserable fate, it totally sucks!

The name’s Rhapsody Ripper and I am a freshman at Mundane High. Everyone in my school hates me and my two best friends, Hardy Hunter and Samantha Spell. Why? The answer is very simple. We’re freaks of nature, complete outcasts. We’re para-ab-normal misfits and we don’t fit in. Our peers go out of their way to avoid us on a regular basis, but today something happened that has never ever happened before.

One of them was nice to me. Actually, he was much more than nice. With only five days remaining until Valentine’s Day, Reese Good, the deliciously warm-blooded star quarterback, invited me to the Sweetheart Dance. Maybe this year I won’t have to spend the holiday invented by a greeting card company alone.

What I really liked about Vampire Valentine is that it reminds us what it feels like to be in high school all over again. Do you remember your high school crush? I do, his name was Gunther and he wasn’t the star football player, but he did play on the team. I’d get all tongue tied when he’d try to talk to me, so imagine my surprise when he called me one day and I hung up on him! When Reese Good asks Rhapsody to the dance, I was cheering her on, but then immediately my mind went to Drew Barrymore’s character in Never Been Kissed, where she’s asked to the prom and at the end, her date throws eggs at her from the limo with his real date. Lucky for us that doesn’t happen to Rhapsody, but we do have jealous girls and you can imagine what they’ll try to do to sabotage Rhapsody’s big day. Never fear Rhapsody has her best friend to back her up.

In paranormal books, we are often given characters with perfect powers. I loved how Samantha was learning how to be a witch and there’s a hilarious scene involving a spell gone wrong. Jones reminds what it’s like to be the outsider. My 15 year old self really could associate with Rhapsody and Samantha. Jones also shows us how students don’t quite understand people from different backgrounds. She does a superb job in Wildflower with this and here she touches upon it with her three misfits. For example, Rhapsody is asked to play the witch in the school play so her fellow students can burn her at the stake and she has to explain that she’s a vampire. Jones is a teacher and it’s very clear from reading this and Wildflower, that she truly knows how to get into a teenager’s mindset.

Vampire Valentine is a delightful read! If you’re a parent, this is definitely a book you and your teenager can both read and enjoy.

Book Review: Shelly Crane’s Significance

16282066Title: Significance
Author: Shelly Crane
Genre: YA / Paranormal
Series: Yes / Book 1 of 4 (plus a companion book)
Rating: 2 out 5
My Copy: Review Copy via Author

Significance is the first book in Shelly Crane’s Significance series. There are four books total with a companion book. In this case, it is necessary to read the first book in the series and work your way down the list. I should also note there’s a film version of the series coming to a screen near you.

Synopsis:
Maggie is a seventeen year old girl who’s had a bad year. She was smart and on track, but then her mom left, her dad is depressed, she’s graduating – barely – and her boyfriend of almost three years dumped her for a college football scholarship. Lately she thinks life is all about hanging on by a thread and is gripping tight with everything she has.
Then she saves the life of Caleb and instantly knows there’s something about him that’s intriguing. But things change when they touch, sparks ignite. Literally.

They imprint with each other and she sees their future life together flash before her eyes. She learns that not only is she his soul mate, and can feel his heartbeat in her chest, but there is a whole other world of people with gifts and abilities that she never knew existed. She herself is experiencing supernatural changes unlike anything she’s ever felt before and she needs the touch of his skin to survive.

Now, not only has her dad come out of his depression to be a father again, and a pain as well, but Caleb’s enemies know he’s imprinted and are after Maggie to stop them both from gaining their abilities and take her from him.

Can Caleb save her or will they be forced to live without each other after just finding one another?

Ultimately what doesn’t work for me is how quickly Maggie and Caleb fall in love. Maggie even questioned her constant need for him and Caleb himself said to her that he wouldn’t push himself on her. He doesn’t, and I realize situations forced them be in each other’s company, but it wasn’t believable to me. Also the whole imprint concept was a bit rushed and not thoroughly explained. I don’t know if it’s just the way I view things, but I would imagine if your soul mate was in the same room with you, you’d know them or perhaps feel them. In two distinct incidents, Maggie and Caleb are in the same area, but the imprint doesn’t happen until later. Yes in hindsight I can see why Crane set it up the way she did, but it just doesn’t work for me.

There are a lot of unanswered questions that are never addressed. I assume this is because the author felt it was necessary to expand on her series and fill in the details as you read along. For starters who and what are Virtuosos? Why doesn’t Maggie demand more answers regarding their identity? What does it mean to be Aces? Also why are there fewer imprints happening? What caused the shift in change? Why is it rare for a human to imprint with a Virtuoso? Crane never explains why it was possible for a Virtuoso to be attracted to a human despite knowing they aren’t meant to be.

I debated with the ending and decided on a two because of the amount of skipping I did. I realize you can’t fully understand a plot if you’re skipping and you miss details, but I found I didn’t miss anything at all. I expected something BIG to happen and it just didn’t. The one section I thought for sure would be the climax just fizzled. I also had a small problem with the font used. It made reading difficult and was a strain on the eyes. Finally, the ending was a big no. I won’t say how it ends, but it’s not a way to end a book. Correction, it’s not the way most authors would end a book.

In the end, this book read too much like Twilight and I’ve never read the books and haven’t seen the films. You can tell the author is a Twilight fan because a dog is named after a character and mentions the series (Maggie and Caleb discuss the films). There are references to Caleb’s large family that happily accepts Maggie with no questions asked. And just like Twilight, there’s a love triangle. If you’re a fan of Twilight you might enjoy this book.

Book Review: Charlotte Abel’s Enchantment

11878534Title: Enchantment
Author: Charlotte Abel
Genre: YA / Paranormal
Series: Yes / Book 1 of 3 (if you count the prequel)
Rating: 3 out 5
My Copy: Review Copy via Author

Enchantment is first book in the Channie series and currently there is a sequel (Taken) and a prequel (part of a YA anthology, Midnight Surrender). It’s not necessary to read the prequel before Enchantment since it was written after the first book.

Channie Kearns isn’t your typical sixteen year old girl and she’s use to living in seclusion. When the family is forced to flee the Ozark Mountains, they move to Colorado where they must hide the fact they are witches. What ensues is a journey about a young teenage girl falling in love and finding herself.

Imagine for a moment having a name and it’s tied to your personality. You’re probably asking yourself, how can a name be tied to a personality? Let’s say your name is Charity, you might be inclined to do charitable work. The concept of a power-name is unique and thoroughly explored. Channie warned her parents several times that they couldn’t just change her name with another spell without consequences. Channie finds herself fighting to stay as Enchantment while possessing Chasity’s power and it frightens her. The reason they change her name has to do with her sister, Abundance, and their belief Channie will end up just like her. This worries them more because they are living around Empties (those not magically gifted).

On the night Channie’s power-name is changed, she decides to see what type of effect her new name has on men. She meets Joshua Abrim at the local park where he’s hanging with his friend and sure enough her new name affects men the way her parents had anticipated. Over time Channie and Joshua fall in love. Channie has strong sexual feelings towards Joshua and no doubt had there not been a magic barrier, I’m sure they would have consummated their relationship. Alas there is that obstacle and Joshua understands. There’s a hilarious scene involving a spell gone awry and girls reacting to Joshua as if he were a member of a popular boy band. Joshua also is a bit unsure if he believes what Channie tells him about magic and witches. At first he’s inclined not to believe her, but overtime he comes to terms with it. The way he accepts Channie is lovely and although he wants to protect her, he’s at a complete loss at how to do it. I respect Abel for handling the reality of teenagers and sex. I believe the plot could have gone either way, but instead she emphasizes the importance of an emotional connection. The only boy Channie felt a mild attraction to before meeting Joshua was Hunter. Even she admitted to herself that it wasn’t love, but lust and that her parents hadn’t warned her that females could feel it too.

A few people have suggested Channie is a bully and has no remorse using her new found powers as Chastity to get what she wants, but I disagree. One simply has to look at her parents and you understand how and why she takes situations into her own hands. They just order her around and punish her for Abundance’s mistake; heck they punish her for their own mistakes. I love the fact that the voice of reason in the family is aptly named, Aunt Wisdom. Channie is in many ways naive about the world and very much is still able to be controlled by her parents. Changing her name also changes her, something her parents did not anticipate. There were moments I felt Channie was a bit too childish especially towards her relationship with Joshua, but I had to step back for a moment and put myself in her shoes.

Joshua’s real identity isn’t known until the end and upon my first read I couldn’t connect the dots as some have pointed out. After a second reading it became clear and even though the ending is predictable, I admit to being surprised. There’s a few unanswered questions that I’m sure are addressed in Taken. Overall, it was an enjoyable read. I really liked the spells and the chaos that ensues.

People who like to read YA novels, will read this and give it a five rating. I couldn’t because I didn’t love it enough for a five rating, but I did enjoy it and to be honest I have Taken and just need to find a moment to read it. If you’re a fan of fantasy or paranormal books this might appeal to you.