Seasons of Love and War by Brenda Ashworth Barry

Summary

SEASONS OF LOVE AND WAR is a historical family saga and epic love story. Childhood sweethearts Beth Ann Rose and Kaylob Shawn O’Brien just want to get married and pursue their dream careers, but the Vietnam War changes everything when Kaylob is drafted into the Army and declared dead. Beth Ann has a complete emotional melt down and starts to have visions of him in the jungles of Vietnam. Is he alive or has she completely lost her mind?

Characters

Kaylob, Beth Ann, and Blake are the three main characters. Although I liked both Kaylob and Blake to certain extents, I couldn’t bring myself to like Beth Ann. She reminded me as a lead in a trashy soap opera. By the end of the book I absolutely loathed her – to the point that I didn’t think she deserved anyone and I wished very much that things end poorly for her. She was not what I would define as a strong woman. Her reaction when Kaylob first goes missing was absolutely over the top. Most of her actions, in one way or another, were understandable  in some regard, but it was the way she handled them that was STUPID. She was a spineless selfish little creature that I hope ends up dying in a horrible way to match her horrible little personality – very similar to my emotions toward Catherine of Wuthering Heights. The supporting characters were fine, I actually liked Jake and Carol. I won’t even mention her long term friend because I’ll just start another rant on how much I disliked Beth Ann. Plus I don’t want to ruin any of the story.

Plot

Very interesting plot. The historical aspects of this book seemed to spot on. Anything I wasn’t 100 sure of, I actually googled really quickly and was impressed that the author did their homework. A hurrah because this was presented as a more historical novel. Wanting to find out what happened to Kaylob was hands down the number one reason I went through the book. I didn’t realize when I picked this book that it couldn’t stand alone. That was very disappointing because more than once I thought “was that really necessary?” Though that may have been due more to my dislike of the main character.

The war zone pieces were great…but they were entirely centered on Kaylob’s love for Beth Ann. I get that it was their connection – but for a historical novel I thought we’d see a little more of what was happening to him and his fellow soldiers. What we did see were some of the best parts of the novel and I absolutely love Kaylob for them. Where the author failed with Beth Ann in my eyes, Kaylob was wonderful. Not perfect, but wonderful. Plus I’m not 100% sure where the author was going with the more supernatural part of the book with Beth Ann’s visions. You’ll see what I mean.

Overall

The writing was well done and easy to follow. The plot wasn’t perfect but did keep me engaged. I would point out that a few parts felt a little convenient – like when John Patterson calls Beth Ann. I also felt there were a few logical fallacies that were overlooked, but most of them were minor and had to do with Beth Ann’s decision making in general. The historical references were spot on as far as I could tell – which was a huge win in my mind. I truly thought that my general dislike of Beth Ann would fade as the author built the character up and made her stronger. Instead she kept her a pouting selfish brat, who I could never sympathize with because she always seemed to be using those who were good-natured.

Rating

2.5 stars (rounded up to 3)

If you like Wuthering Heights or soap operas you will love this book – it just wasn’t my favorite. As a historical novel this was a win, but as a romance for me it was an epic fail.

I received a copy in exchange for an honest review. More reviews at creatingworldswithwords.wordpress.com.

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#giveaway for The Sixth Gate

I’m giving away a signed copy and sewn bookmark for The Sixth Gate!

book1_the_sixth_gate_frontl.jpg

You could win these!

In July, The Sixth Gate released and I’d like to send a copy to someone who loved the prequel!

All you have to do is these three things:

  • Acquire a copy of The Gate Guardian’s Daughter (you get a free copy when you sign up for my MAILING LIST);
  • Read The Gate Guardian’s Daughter; and
  • Leave a review on Amazon and/or Goodreads (both to double your chances)!3

I’m only giving the opportunity to those who are on my mailing list – so make sure you sign up! You could win a copy of the book and the hand stitched bookmark.**

You have until September 30, 2017 to submit in a review. I’ll select (using a random selection program) and notify the winner the following weekend.

**If you live outside the United States (US) you can only win an unsigned copy of the book (not the bookmark).

 

Vermilion Tears by Tia Lee

Summary

Vermilion Tears is a gothic paranormal novel set in Victorian times. Lydia comes from humble beginnings living with her family in New Haven. Her life gets turned upside down when she is on a train to New York City to start her new life. Lydia is attacked by supernatural creatures she didn’t even realize existed. Now a supernatural being herself, she finds herself fleeing from a brutal captor and trying to keep her family intact. Will she be caught or will she succeed in escaping and restoring her family?

Characters

Lydia is a leaf caught on the wind of change. She seems to go with the flow…not always making the best of decisions. At first I wasn’t sure if I’d like her or not. What I can say is that after she turns and is a captive, I finally felt like I got to know Lydia’s character. Edgar and Ruben were interesting supporting characters. I’d also like to mention that I had a hard time with multiple chapters being in first person, which may have further contributed to some very confusing POV shifts. As a side note: I hated Edgar’s lengthy monologues and it really hampered my overall like of them.

Plot

I love Gothic novels, especially Victorian era with a paranormal twist. Penny Dreadful always comes to mind when I see this genre. This book is no different. There were aspects of the plot I just loved. The paranormal aspect was absolutely nailed – it had all of the fan favorites. Not to mention the witches! Loved them. I actually was really enjoying the novel despite its flaws…until the epilogue. It felt rushed, choppy, and I felt like I got whiplash at the sudden change. All of which would have been great earlier in the book. I love when books surprise me, but this felt like a last minute addition to set the stage for a second book.

Overall

There were some historical inaccuracies and some of the conversations were just a little too modern to be believable in the time. Such as they ordered a Bloody Mary in the mid-1800s. Since this is marked as a historical novel, I feel it is important to point this out. That being said if you can overlook the flaws historical aspects, you’ll enjoy the plot like I did. Still loving the paranormal aspects of the story the most! Honestly I wondered once to twice why this wasn’t written in a more recent time frame.

The setting was well developed, which was why I could picture many of the scenes in my head. That being said there were many parts of the plot that felt too convenient. I struggled with how the characters knew some of the information. For example, when Lydia is attacked she immediately knew it was a vampire. I thought this was alternative history where people are suspicious of the supernatural and believe in it, but not that it is a every day place. Perhaps I missed this but some of the leaps the characters make in figuring things out was a stretch more than once.

Rating

3 Stars

It was okay. Strong paranormal story with some needed work in plot and character development. Felt more like a paranormal thriller or suspense, rather than a historical novel.

I received a copy in exchange for an honest review.

In What Remains by K.B. Rose

Summary

When Rachel and her family make a routine stop and become the targets of a violent assault, their summer road trip descends into a nightmare. Only the intervention of a stranger saves her life, and as they flee the crime scene, she wavers between fear and self-preservation. Can she trust him? Can she afford not to? Short-tempered and wholly impatient with her, Eric was somehow connected to it all, but he’s her key to surviving in a bleak new world. The first step in doing this is running as fast, and as far, as she can.

Moving forward in a dissolute whirlwind, Rachel has just one goal: to forget that day, by any means possible. But as her tangled connection with Eric deepens, she can’t quite forgive his role in it. She can’t forget his ties to the person responsible. And she can’t let go of the anger that begins to take root, leading her into a dangerous quest she might not come back from.

In What Remains is a dark and gritty novel of loss, love, and survival in a time when everything familiar is gone.

Note: This book contains explicit language, sexual content, drug use, violence, criminal activity, and women who fight back. Intended for mature readers only.

Characters

Rachel is both the most awesome character and the worst. In my mind she felt more like a leaf caught in a current being pulled downstream. Instead of fighting it she just went along with it, choosing survival above all else. Eric was complicated and vivid. He was the center in most of this novel, the pillar that bridged all of the individuals together. Suzy was hilarious, but represented the catalyst. All wonderfully portrayed and gritty.

Plot

I struggled with this being a romance for the first half of the book. Ultimately it is for the second half of the book and I loved it. I actually think the primary plot is more of a suspense. It was nail biting and hard to put down. I stayed up late a few nights in a row to finish it! I don’t want to give anything away but this was not for the faint of heart. This is one roller coaster ride worth riding!

Overall

I was really impressed with this book. I loved the romance. I was cheering for them. I loved how unpredictable the first half of the book was. I will note that ultimately knowing it was a romance meant I knew where it was going and how it was going to end. That was both good and bad – I knew it would all work out but it also lost some of the edge because I suspected it would have a happy ending. I’m still not sure if I was completely satisfied with the ending.

There were two parts that I didn’t like. As wonderful and gritty as it was, Rachel being underage for much of the first part of the book when she is spiraling, really put me on edge. I struggled with it. Don’t get me wrong, it was wonderfully written, but I personally almost quite twice at certain terrible parts of the book. I don’t care that she was an adult when the really bad stuff happened – I felt like the author specifically made her 18 for that scene so that I wouldn’t cringe. At that point I started to think how convenient it was that she was 18, rather than what was happening to the character. I also disliked right near the end, when she eventually faces Jimmy. I actually was disappointed with that entire part of the book – felt it was unnecessary and went too far.

Rating

4.5 Stars (rounded down)

Amazing characters, gritty realism, and nail biting suspense. The underage aspect of the main character was just too much for me when this was supposed to be a ‘romantic suspense.’ Would totally read another of the author’s book!

I received a copy in exchange of an honest review.

College Survival Guide: You U by Rachael L. Thompson

Summary:

Perfect for Soon-To-Be Students, Current Students, & Parents

This semi-autobiographical book is filled with stories, advice, and lessons on how to avoid the top mistakes in college and set yourself up for success. Learn everything your school counselors, advisors, and parents do not tell you about college. Know which majors are regretted most by graduates and which ones lead to greatest success and satisfaction. Get advice on what you can do that will set you apart from 99% of your peers. And because we cannot talk about college without mentioning the party scene, get practical advice on topics your parents do not want to talk to you about.

The author bases all information on her personal experience, experiences of friends and family, and statistics from national collegiate studies. The conversational style talks to students, not at them, and shares both funny and scary true stories to illustrate lessons.

“I am sharing EVERYTHING I wish I knew when I was in school.”

Overall:

This semi-autobiographical details tips and pointers on how to survive college and come out the other side with a degree and a meaningful career path. I was actually impressed with the list of topic covered by the author. Having graduated with multiple higher education degrees in the last decade, I can attest I experiences and saw others suffer from many of the pitfalls pointed out in this read. The author has it right, it is perfect for students (current and soon to be) and there are pieces in there that parents could impart on their children. I wasn’t a fan of the thinly veiled curse words, but was overall impressed with the execution.

Rating

4 Stars

It was a pretty comprehensive coverage of college related subject matter. I felt that much of this was more of a healthy approach to life – not just school. I would have preferred if it had stayed more focused on school (especially near the end).

I received a copy in exchange for an honest review.

Burner (Affinity Series, #1) by J.S. Lenore

Summary:

Homicide detective Kim Phillips isn’t like the other officers of the Chicago Police Department. She’s quiet, isolated, and she can speak with the dead. Born with the ability to see into and interact with the afterlife, she is a Burner: a person tasked with hunting down dangerous spirits and sending them to the other side.

When Kim exorcises the ghost of a young girl, she’s dragged into a new and unsettling case, one where people like Kim are being killed. The only problem? There’s no connection between the victims, and no proof that they were murdered in the first place. Kim has to catch the killer before he finds his last victim and unleashes an unknown evil on the world.

Burner, the first book in the Affinity Series, is a dark exploration of how life and death are only separated by a single breath and how even those with power can be powerless.

Characters

Kim is a bit of a mess, but in a charming way. Her stubborn, almost self destructive drive to make things right and do them her way, is perfectly balanced by Priya. Priya is a bonded ghost (like a supernatural partner) and a sweetie! Cross is a very distinct character and I loved him almost more than Kim. The author created wonderfully diverse characters that, despite their flaws, were easy to love and even relate to.

Plot

The author built a complex world with lots of mediums and types of mediums that is pretty easy to follow. It is confusing a few times in the first few chapters but I got into the grove. Found out there is a glossary in the back that confirmed everything I had figured out, I’d recommend taking a peak there first.

There is a complex detective story that was decent. I figured it out pretty quickly but mostly enjoyed the journey and the action. Boy was there a ton of great action! I also liked the building romance between her and her new human partner…you’ll see how cute they are and I hope to see more of them!

Overall

Wonderfully written. I loved the way the author started the book – right into the action. Besides some repeated paragraphs in the earlier chapters, it was nearly flawless. I wasn’t sure what the point of the random pictures were throughout the book and actually though they could all go because they were distracting.

Relate-able characters, great plot, easy to follow world in an urban setting, and a great balance of romance and action. The ghost scenes were awesome! I wasn’t bored and every word was written with economy. I was very impressed all the way around. I kept wanting to read what was happening next!

Rating

5 stars

I loved this book. I was initially drawn to it because it said it was like the Dresden Series – and it was in many ways – but there were a lot of unique factors that just had that edge. For sure will be looking for more from this author in the future! If you love ghost/supernatural detective stories this is a must read!

I received a copy in exchange for an honest review.

Legacy by Wilde Blue Sky

Summary

Why is Michael Holsmann, a right-wing thug, searching the German countryside for details of a flight that left Berlin on the 28th April 1945? Why are the neo-Nazis so interested in a struggling penniless artist called Peter Fritch? Read this tale of identity and betrayal to find out.

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, brands, media, and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously.

Characters

Michael is a single-minded jerk. Peter a spineless outcast. Most of the characters felt a little flat at first…mostly because they are described to you and not well rounded. That is until I started thinking of this more of a historical alternative, written in a more factual tone. My favorite character was Ola, because she was the catalyst and for other reasons that I can’t detail without giving the plot away.

Plot

I decided to try something different and boy is this different but also interesting. It is really important to remember this is a work of fiction. I don’t want to give too much away, but the entire premise is fascinating. I appreciated the way the author portrayed the characters, and built up the tension. I’m a pretty open minded person so the entire context, while could offend some, really was just showing that a certain way of thinking was self destructive and what can happen after a power is ousted.

Overall

The writing is dry, but consistently so. The characters took a while to form but they felt distinct after a while. A little over the top in their speech at time. My biggest problem was everyone seemed to talk out loud to themselves. Once or twice, okay, but there were more than 5 times that characters talked to themselves.

I also wasn’t sure the point of the last chapter. I would have preferred it if was just left off, like a mystery, but the last chapter sort of tied it up in a too perfect bow. That being said, the concepts and idealist views were well captured. I followed the logic, and illogical portions, of the characters beliefs. I could easily see it being a nod to what happens in other areas around the world – the old way doesn’t let go so easily. From segregation to political parties, change may come but not everyone changes. It is slow and it is hard. I appreciated that aspect of this story, it reminded me of this very idea.

Rating

3.5 stars (rounded up)

It makes you think, what if? I always appreciate a story that makes you wonder. However, I struggled with some of the scenes and the writing was very textbook (informative, but flat). If you like alternative histories or even a ‘what if’ theory, this is a great read.

I received a copy in exchange of a honest review.