Shine with Me by S.J. Pierce

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Some reviews are easy to write. Some are a joy. Then there are the ones that feel impossible. That is the case here. Bear with me as I try to put my thoughts down in such a way that you feel less lost than I am.

This is book three in the series. Many books have clues that tie back to the previous ones; that way a new reader can still jump in and enjoy the last book. This is not one of those. It begins with a journal and a character, whose name I didn’t even learn for several chapters, but there is absolutely no back story. What is this super-important journal? How did they come to possess this journal of evil? This is the way of the entire book. My face held a perpetually confused expression. These magical teenagers were tied to trees in another book, which is highly intriguing, but why? There is no explanation, but the memory is called upon more than once. Some of them were sacrificed for someone else to have immortality. Were these baddies originally human? Were they devil worshippers or just witches? It seems that everyone else is demon or angel or the most-common-type-of-being, hybrid of something with something else. There are numerous evil sisters, but I don’t even know how many or what happened to them. The entire story supposedly revolves around Kat and this evil woman’s, Lilliana’s, need to do something to her, but I don’t know what or why. Kat is very powerful, though I didn’t see it here, so is the villain going to use that or just torture and kill her? There are a lot of buts. This is a series that must be read in order or you will be utterly lost and frustrated.

Usually I like to discuss the characters, but since there was no history they felt empty. They were not described physically or personality-wise. Not even Gabe, her soul mate, is given any detail. The only sense I got from this first-person narrative is that she cannot live without him and that he is a healer. Kat herself is a mystery. If I was forced to describe her, which I guess I kind of am, I couldn’t. My thought is that all of that information is given in the first book and, therefore, it all relies on what was previously read and what those readers bring with them.

War is coming. I don’t know why, but there is a lot of hatred and fear. The first sixty percent is basically internal musings about this impending battle and how much Lilliana has tortured them and now she’s coming back to finish the job in this description-less dimension. I had no clue where they were or how they got there or why they were there. The only details given were that one of the elders could control the weather, there were trees, and they lived in cabins. Later it is stated that they are permanent residents, but this is a magical place. Who knows what can happen when the supernatural is involved, including The Creator and possibly Lucifer himself.

Warning: Some might find this paragraph a spoiler, but it really isn’t at all. Finally, some action! It was exciting and I was more than ready for it. Then it was cut in half. It’s a very popular writing tool. The actual action is not lived. The main character is knocked out or killed or goes somewhere else or what-have-you, but the reader doesn’t get to experience it. It is all relayed to the reader via other characters explaining how it all went down. With this tactic, not only does our main character miss it, but so do we. The battle was off to a great start, after I’d flipped through pages of teenage lust for vengeance, only to leave me hanging. The ending was long and drawn-out, perhaps to make up for the extensive build-up that led to a few pages of excitement. The so-called return to “normal” was exceptionally long. The overall balance of the book was off, especially considering the many confusing references to thrilling moments from the previous ones. They sounded like non-stop action, so I kept waiting for that here, only to finish empty-handed.

My review is based on what I read, which is only the final book, and my personal experience. Keep that in mind, as I highly suggest everyone read the first book. The premise sounds interesting and I wish I’d been able to start with Captivate Me. That being said, for a new reader it was anticlimactic and a whole lot of “Huh?” Nothing is explained, because it was all done beforehand, so it was a long haul, reading in the dark. There were brief moments of emotion, sadness or anger, but they were miniscule, since I didn’t know the characters. There were a lot of them, too. Due to the dozens of characters in the story or those that were referenced to, it is not surprising that I couldn’t get a good feel for anyone.

The rating:

  • Genre and general reading age – Fantasy for teens.
  • Level of sexuality – They do the deed several times, but it’s blissfully glossed over. That was a major plus.
  • Is there graphic language? Surprisingly, yes. It is very obvious that the story is YA, but they swore more than once and right off the bat. Even an angel cursed proudly and Kat thought that was pretty cool.
  • Did I cry? Nope. Not even when people died. The mourning period was frighteningly brief and the characters continually mentioned life returning to normal. For the people who survived, and they’re all immortal so the memories will stay with them forever, there is no return to normal. It’s called accepting and moving on and scars you for life. Only they have far more than seventy or eighty years, which sucks for them. So, the term “return to normal” didn’t really fit. Although, it was quoted as such after several weeks of healing and the reader is led to believe that most of the people are fine. If only real life were that sweet. In actuality, a new norm is what happens.
  • Did I laugh? Not once, but I believe there were a few moments that were supposed to be funny. The book is very serious, though, so it struck me as out-of-place.
  • Level of character development – I just didn’t see any. The characters are barely touched upon. They are in the story, or at least mentioned, but there is no hint of their past behaviors and emotions. There was nothing for a new reader to build upon and they never changed. I couldn’t come up with a decent way to describe our heroine and even her lover remained simple and perfect, not really a part of the story until the end. The dozens of others were a mish-mash of super hero abilities.

This book was hollow for me, but I went into it completely unprepared. Many times I can pick up in the middle of a series and quickly figure things out. Not here. My review is based solely on my experience. It is obvious that the author put a lot of effort into the book and there were hardly any typos. The repetitive thoughts about Lilliana and how much Kat wanted to kill her could have been cut in half and made it flow smoother, but for someone who has read the first two I’m sure it’s a decent ride. Normally, I would rate my experience a two, but since I was at a severe disadvantage I’ll give this ⭐️⭐️⭐️ stars. My suggestion is that all readers of fantasy and those who love characters with numerous and fantastical magic powers should grab book one and dive right in.

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NEW RELEASE: City Boy, Southern Girl by H.C. Bentley

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AUTHOR BIO

There’s just something about a small town that makes relationships interesting, whether they are romances, long-running feuds, or life-long friendships. These are the relationships H.C. Bentley enjoys discovering and exploring. Well that, and the fact she just loves a good happily ever after or second chance story.
When she’s not writing, H.C. works as a cataloging librarian at her county library. In her spare time, you can find her playing pool, traveling with her family, or curled up watching movies (romantic comedies are a favorite!). She’s also an avid reader, leaning towards various authors of romance and chick lit, but her favorite is Nora Roberts.
A southern girl at heart, H.C. calls Kentucky her home. After opting to join the military to pay for college, she spent three years stationed in Wiesbaden, Germany before returning to her hometown in rural western Kentucky, where she and her husband live with their two daughters.
H.C. loves chatting with readers. You can contact her through her website, or any of her social media.
BUY LINK (Signed paperbacks & eBooks):

12 copy

City Boy, Southern Girl

Growing up in a small town, Sarah Wright knew city boy Jake Ryland was going to be trouble the minute she saw him.
In order to help a friend, Jake moved from his home in the city – with its vast amounts of entertainment options and women – to a small town in the middle of nowhere. Accustomed to the fast paced life he loved, life now seemed to move as slow as the molasses the South was known for. Until he met Sarah.
Sarah knew Jake’s stay in town was temporary, and did her best not to be
drawn in by his charm and good looks. And after a disastrous first date, she thought she was safe. Little did she know…
As their relationship builds, so does their chemistry…and their feelings for one another. Do they try to find a way to make it work, even though they come from different worlds? Or do they walk away now and wonder what might have been?

Blood Dragons by Rosemary A. Johns

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I’m not a fan of vampire novels. Twilight created an influx of vampire stories and, while each is special in its own way, I’ve grown tired of blood-suckers. This book is completely different. It stands next to Anne Rice, all-time writer of vampire fiction, and holds its own.

The story is written as a letter to the woman he loves, talking about the present and the past. After decades together, Light has watched the all-too-human love of his life wither and grow old. Her dementia adds a devastating aspect to the story, but is far from the only soul wrenching part of the book.

A large portion of the story is dedicated to his life with his Author, in other words maker, Ruby, the red-haired devil. She introduces him to Blood Life when he is on the way out from his First Life. Immediately drawn in by the connection of creator and creation, he cannot separate himself from her and they spend over a hundred years together, wreaking havoc and killing indiscriminately. It isn’t until the late 1960’s that he sees another side to Ruby. She is controlling and punishing, then she forces him to live with their “family”, brothers from the same vampire lineage. This change alters everything about their lives. No longer is she his angel and savior; she becomes the one who holds him back.

In walks the incredible Kathy. From the get-go she is a strong, hard-headed character who is easy to love. She’s a perfect counterpoint to Light, our hero who continually comments on his lack of hero status, all the while performing acts that require bravery. By the time the story begins, he is a man looking to live a life in harmony with humans, not as a selfish vampire who believes he is worthy of worship. I fell in love with him right away. He’s entertaining and brutally honest. His insight into human nature is astounding and forced me to open my eyes and honestly look at our ideas and behaviors. Overall, the book is a tremendous observation of humanity. This is why Kathy is so important to Light. She stands for all that is good with humans: honesty, loyalty, independence, strength, and the basic need for love. She accepts and loves Light for all that he is, even though he has committed atrocious acts. That is why they were able to make a happy life together, even though she grew old while he remained eternally young.

The story has a vocabulary all its own. The novel originates from the UK and has a thick accent, but the unique vernacular creates a fantastic setting that is unlike anything else I have ever read. It took a few chapters to fall into the groove, but before I knew it I was reading it with the accent flowing smoothly in my imagination. For the majority, I do not care for stories that fluctuate constantly in time, but this book handled it flawlessly. At times I could not wait to return to the era that I had just been diving into, but it was so fast-paced that I was back to the 1960’s before I knew it, a hundred years passing in less than half an hour. This is the first story in a very long time that strikes me as perfect. At no point did I find myself floundering or distracted.

For the rating:

  • Genre and general reading age – Fantasy for adults and possibly older teens.
  • Level of sexuality – There are references to it, in some new and exciting verbage, but it is light and the deed is never spoken of in detail.
  • Is there graphic language? Not that I noticed.
  • Did I cry? I didn’t, but there were many moments that made my heart hurt.
  • Did I laugh? Not really, but Light is extremely entertaining and a joy to read.
  • Is this part of a series? Yes, it is book one of the Rebel Vampire Series.
  • Level of character development – The characters are amazingly well-written. It is easy to fall into the arms of Light with his open and endearing storytelling. Ruby is an evil being that you love to hate. Kathy is the heart-warming bridge to the human world for Light. Even the other vampires are so well-done that they are easily envisioned and each forms a tight emotional tie to the reader.

This is one of the finest vampire novels I have ever read. The pages flew by and I cannot wait until I can delve into book two. I suggest this to readers of all genres; this is not just a vampire tale. This is a real look at human nature and the first-person view of a man’s honest introspection into his life as a vampire and his desire to be part of the human world. I am thrilled to give this book ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ shiny stars.

Available here on Amazon

Dark Wine at Midnight by Jenna Barwin

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The beings referred to as the Lux are not actually human and very few know they even exist. Their goal is to protect the human population from war and extinction by an equally hidden vampire population.

Although the vampires try hard to prevent overpopulation since their food source, humans, would be depleted, there is a constant political push and shove. Some vampires feel there are too many rules, such as no one being allowed to create another vampire for the most part, no legal hunting of humans, and lots of meals courtesy of a blood bank. The Lux has discovered there is a group planning to topple their somewhat fragile government and return to their old ways.

Dr. Cerisse Patel lives with her people at the Lux Enclave. She prefers to think of herself as a scientist, but her superiors prefer she be a spy, even though she is pretty sure she lacks the talent. Vampire Leopold knows Cerisse as a human hired to be his envoy. This means she will live amongst vampires for many years, as she will be a daytime employee; the eyes and ears for Leopold. At the same time, she will watch out for the rebel vampires on behalf of the Lux.

After months of training and learning vampire protocol, Leopold sends Cerisse to the vampire community, Sierra Escondida. She is to seek out a certain property for him, where they hope to build a research lab that will benefit all vampires. Hopefully, the community will be willing to financially support such an endeavor. At the same time, she is to watch for the rebel vampires. She hadn’t expected the vampires to like her presence right away, but she is unprepared for the open dislike she faces.

The vampire hierarchy is extremely strict and immovable. Slowly, she approaches individuals to find they are not amenable to the research lab in their community. They dislike the thought of humans being employed and working on their turf. The strictly upheld law of no unmated humans in their midst is taken seriously.

Henry Bautista is one of the original founders of the town and he and the others created the basic laws and, as the years pass, have changed them as needed. Cerisse, an unmated human, is right in the heart of them. Henry is disturbed by her entrance as Leopold’s envoy and even more so by his attraction to her.

I found the story interesting. The first chapter starts with the Lux. Basically, I was left in the dark about them and confused about their abilities and differences from humans. The author mentions Cerisse’s abilities as if the reader is already aware of them. I had to turn back a page looking for a paragraph where I must have missed the ‘and here it comes’ moment. It was several chapters before I acquired any significant knowledge of Cerisse as a Lux, and I felt like the author didn’t have a finished product with this character, that it would have been helpful to the story if more information had been given. As it is, Cerisse has several interesting and handy skills, making her the latest in super-women. I thought Cerisse needed to have a more mature personality, being a Lux of substantial years. Also, the ending is quickly rolled up, as if the author was racing towards the finish line.

The grading:

  • Genre and general reading age – Romance/Fantasy for adults.
  • Level of sexuality – Graphic.
  • Is there graphic language? Yes, but definitely milder than a lot of books.
  • Did I cry? No.
  • Did I laugh? No.
  • Is this part of a series? This is book one in the Hill Vampire Series, complete with a cliffhanger.
  • Level of character development – They did not change or mature.

I rate this book ⭐️⭐️⭐️ stars.

Available here on Amazon

New Release: 10 Dates by Emily James

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Joanie Fox can’t wait to settle down and marry the man of her dreams. However, when her engagement starts to look more stalemate than soulmate, her best friend stages an intervention sure to make even the most hardened serial daters wince: 10 Dates in 10 Days.

Statistically, if you kiss a lot of frogs there’s bound to be at least one that’s not a complete toad, isn’t there? With nothing to lose, Joanie embarks on a crazy rollercoaster of blind dates. After all, what can possibly go wrong in the search for Mr. Right?

10 Dates is a standalone, sexy, laugh out loud romantic comedy with a happy ending. It is not for the feint hearted and is best suited for readers over the age of eighteen due to sexual themes and mature content.
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