Archive for August, 2013

Review: TURNED (Vampire Journals, #1) by Morgan Rice

Posted August 8, 2013 By kellysmithreviews

TURNED_by_Morgan_Rice_small3Author: Morgan Rice
Release Date: March 10, 2011
Pages: 196
ISBN #: 9780982953723
FTC Disclaimer: Book was purchased by the reviewer, with no publisher or author involvement.

I enjoy surfing online to find new paranormal novels to devour and, as I have repeatedly said before, I am skeptical reader. But I always give every book I encounter a try, so when I downloaded Turned, the first novel in Morgan Rice’s YA Vampire Journals series, I tried to keep an open mind.

As I read, I realized that this wasn’t your everyday girl falls for vampire boy, vampire boy seems unattainable…you all know the drill (not that I dislike those books–in fact, I can quote some of them chapter and verse). It starts with eighteen-year-old high school senior Caitlin Paine is starting yet another new school, this one in the heart of New York City, where she feels even more alone and outcast than usual.
She hates being here, hates moving every so often when her mother’s “plans” don’t work out and, to be honest, sort of hates her mother, too. She doesn’t expect to find any rays of sunshine in this particular Hellhole, but it turns out she’s wrong when a cute boy gives her his seat in class. His name is Jonah and immediately an attraction forms between the two.
He is a classical musician and unlike every other student in the school, which makes him an easy target for the bullies. When Caitlin stumbles upon him in an alleyway on her way home from school, surrounded by four huge hulking guys, she wants to help him. She feels the rage that she has had ever since she came of age boil up within her and, before she knows it, she had successfully incapacitated all four men, all of whom were about double her size. She doesn’t know how she did it. She doesn’t understand what’s happening to her.
Her mom is of no help, she isolates herself away from her beloved younger brother (who runs away from home) and she never knew her father. When she finds out something she hopes and prays isn’t true about her mother, she runs, too. She is utterly alone except for Jonah, who invites her to a classical concerto as a date.
While on the date, everything that has happened to Caitlin culminates in her pain and hunger getting out of control. During intermission, she dashes out of the theater and into the backstage area…where the perfectly delectable young singer is taking a fifteen minute rest.
When Caitlin drains him of his blood, she is satisfied, but terrified as she cannot remember what she’s done, only that she is in serious hot water. She runs again and is persecuted by the NYPD and by two separate groups of vampires.
But what is Caitlin? She was not turned, she was never like this until she turned eighteen. Can these disparate groups of the Undead teach her who and what she is or is she doomed to run forever? And who will help her if she does? Jonah? Or the mysterious and handsome vampire Caleb, who rescued her (…or did he)?
I really enjoyed this read, though it was much too short for my tastes, even for a YA novel. Still, the characters–especially Caitlin and her baby brother–are well-rounded and the internal workings of the vampire lifestyle are wonderfully imaginative.
I didn’t like the length and that there story wasn’t very descriptive but it was quick-moving and had not one but two guys for the readers to fantasize over.
The story ends up in a tantalizing cliffhanger that will leave the reader nearly desperate to find out what will happen next.
This was not just a YA read; I believe that adults will enjoy this as well. I look forward to reading more from Ms. Rice!
Great work!
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Review: VENICE VAMPYR (Venice Vampyr, novella #1) by Tina Folsom

Posted August 1, 2013 By kellysmithreviews

VeniceVampyr1Author: Tina Folsom
Release Date: December 12, 2012
Pages: 115
ISBN #: 9780983612971
FTC Disclaimer: Book was purchased by the reviewer, with no publisher or author involvement.

I went scouring Kobo (where I get my ebooks) to see what paranormal novels they had available and found Venice Vampyr #1 by Tina Folsom. I could tell by the description and cover photo that it would be a “bodice-ripper” as they used to call the scandalous romance novels. I can’t say that those are the type of novels I particularly enjoy to read in my spare time, but both the novel and author were new to me and it was about my favorite supernatural creatures, so I downloaded it to give it a try.

The story starts out quickly, with 3,000 year old vampire Raphael di Santori being pushed into a canal in old-time Venice during carnival season. Vampires can die in these novels by two things the author confirmed in the narrative: being shot with silver bullets or drowning. A member of the Guardians–a group of renegade humans who were the earliest vampire hunters–must have been the one to give the fatal shove and as he is ready to relinquish himself to death he is saved by a lady of noble standing in Venice, the beautiful Isabella Tenderini. She lost her own husband a year ago to death by drowning and cannot bear to see someone die in that manner.


She risked her life to save a stranger and unknowingly becomes enmeshed into the eternal war between the Undead and the Guardians when she decides to keep this handsome and mysterious stranger in her palazzo until he comes to…as long as her servants keep quiet about this and don’t tell her late husband’s cousin, Massimo, about the fact that she has an unknown male sleeping in her bed…naked.


Isabella is drawn to Raphael from the moment she undresses him so he doesn’t catch cold in his soaked clothes and the sexual interactions start before the male lead is even awake!


Spanning only a week’s time, this novel is exactly as I described it–a bodice-ripper. The sex is outrageous and consists of things being done that most women only fantasize about late at night, alone. I was actually a little shocked at how graphic, not the sex, but the language was. For this being termed a “historical paranormal romance” nothing but the clothing and settings are properly written about.


The words that they used, while they were featured in the language back then, were probably not as common then as now, and not just the cursing, but the way they spoke, period, reminded me of more “current” times rather than the 14th Century. Not that I minded the actual language (I am no angel!) but it didn’t fit with the story of old-time Venice, Italy whatsoever. It made the whole thing seem awkward to me. Folsom probably should have made them sound more old-fashioned while they performed the scandalous sex acts. In my opinion, it would have made the story a bit more authentic and intriguing.


And while the novel did have a good story attached and even a bit of danger dashed into the narrative, there wasn’t a decent sex-to-plot ratio. I at least want to read sixty-percent sex and forty-percent story. This was lucky if it had even twenty-five-percent of actual story compared to the amount of sex that was in it. I just wish that the story received more attention, as it was well-plotted, just unbalanced.


I’m not saying it was a bad novel, but it wasn’t worth it. In my opinion, if I want a predominantly sex-filled novel, I wouldn’t read one under the false description of “historical paranormal”. I believe that it should have been listed under “paranormal erotica”, because it falls under those lines more than it does historical. Tina Folsom had a great story right under her nose as she was penning this novel but she didn’t utilize it properly in my opinion.


I do recommend you, reader, pick up this novel and read it for yourself if this is the type of erotica you enjoy partaking in. I don’t think it’s one I’d read twice, but I know many of you will quite enjoy it.


I give this a 3 out of 5, because it really does have a lot of potential, and I will read its sequels…just because it now has me intrigued at what will happen to the characters!
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Review: MOONLIGHT (Moon Series, #1) by Lisa Kessler

Posted August 1, 2013 By kellysmithreviews

MoonlightAuthor: Lisa Kessler
Release Date: July 15, 2013
Pages: 331
ISBN #: 9781622661084
FTC Disclaimer: ARC received from publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Review Originally Posted at Kelly Smith Reviews

When Mrs. Kessler announced her book blog tour for Moonlight, I immediately volunteered to host an interview and do a review for the novel before its release on July 15th. Why? Because after having read and reviewed her first two vampire novels in the Night Series, I knew that her werewolf-epic would be nothing short of incredible…and I was correct. I am not a big fan of werewolves, as I love vampires, but this novel isn’t just about a wolf…it is about being human.

I opened the .PDF file immediately upon receiving it and was immediately introduced to the two main characters, the elusive and beautiful Lana, who blacks out every time there is a new moon and has no memory of the night, and Adam, the handsome and sexy horse-trainer who turns into a werewolf every time there is a full moon.

Immediately, I liked Lana, recognizing her as a tough-spirited girl unlike what used to be the “norm” for the typical female lead in a romance novel. And I am not a typical romance reader, but Adam certainly sounded as sexy as Mrs. Kessler tried to make him!

Lana was abandoned at birth and moved around as a ward of the state until she was eighteen, when she then put herself through college and became a freelance writer…the best occupation for someone on the run. When she turned eighteen is when the blackouts started, you see, and that was when she went to a hospital and had a CAT scan done on her brain. After she left the hospital (because she didn’t want to be put in a psych facility to see if she had schizophrenia), someone sent people after her–men in grey jumpsuits who all had strange lion-heads with an “N” on the foreheads tattooed on their inner wrists. It was clear that they wanted her.

She evaded them and came to Reno, where she had the fortune/misfortune of running into Adam in a diner, after he tells her he “smelled her scent from outside”. Wow…what a way to win a woman over, huh? When he tells her she is a jaguar, she laughs and doesn’t believe him. When he is about to say more, the diner doors burst open and the men in the grey suits are back for Lana again and this time there is nowhere to run.

Adam leaps (literally) to her rescue, seeing that whoever these men are, Lana does not want to go with them. Why is he protecting the very thing he wished to kill upon smelling her distinctive jaguar scent? That’s a reason he refuses to let himself think about at the moment. it is the night of the new moon, and Adam leaves Lana to her own devices but takes a photo of her in jaguar form, for proof that this strange, naive and enticing girl really does shape-shift into a jaguar on the nights of the full moon.

But learning her true identity isn’t Lana’s biggest problem. She now has the unwanted protection of a werewolf–as Adam claims himself to be–and one of his Pack members, Gabe, is left dead practically at their feet, killed by another jaguar. She now has to find out who she is and quick: the Nero Organization is still looking for her, and now one of her own kind is out killing members of Adam’s Pack…and she doesn’t want to see Adam hurt.

Adam has his own problems without having to deal with jaguar assassins, too. His father, Pack Alpha Malcolm, is pressuring him to find his mate so that he can one day lead the Pack, as is his rightful duty as Malcolm’s first-born son. But what can Dam do when he finds his mate in Lana–a jaguar, the werewolves’ longest and most ruthless enemies?

Trying to work out the age-old feud of cat and dog, Adam and Lana must escape persecution from Nero and the Pack, all while keeping Lana safe, trying to find her birth parents and avoiding Sebastian–the sexy jaguar who is originally assigned to capture Lana but becomes much more than an assassin.

What I really liked about this novel was the underlying theme of bigotry and stereotyping. The Pack thinks all jaguars are evil killers, so Adam can’t bring his mate home to meet them. The jaguars think all wolves are weak creatures therefore they are worth nothing but contempt. It takes the reader to new thought levels, about the racial issues of the 60’s (when it was illegal for an African-American to marry a Caucasian) and the LGBTQA issues that are happening right now in America.

As for the romance, it was a bit steamier than Mrs. Kessler’s previous novels but it was not the dominating factor in the story. In fact, neither was the theme of the hunt for Lana. The true emotion that this story focused on was not lust or fear, but love. It was about loving your mate, loving your family and loving yourself and learning to accept yourself as you are, because when you do, others will start to accept you, too.

The characters were amazingly well-written, from the leads to the supporting, everyone from the assassins to the members of Adam’s Pack were well-rounded, fully-developed people. You felt like they were real as you read about each of them in turn. Read this novel as soon as it is released, because I can guarantee you you will be taken on a page-turning ride of your life into Mrs. Kessler’s mind.

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