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Posts Tagged ‘2 Stars’

Description From Goodreads:
Hidden within Human society is an entrancing race of beings who look just like us. They are the Akataromai. Originating on Earth, they conceal themselves, blending within the Human population. Though they appear to be Human, mature Akataromai live for centuries and feed upon negative Human emotions. Angelina Quorra is an Akataromai, a Human-looking girl who might never die. But Angelina is unique among her people, absorbing pain as well as emotion and giving anyone who feeds her overwhelming pleasure. This is her story, told by the men who adore her. Her talent is called The Lustre, bringing her great fame, and great trouble.

THE LUSTRE, by Kate Policani
Available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble

Review: ** 2 Stars
Kate Policani delivers an interesting twist on the “vampire”, but fails to deliver an interesting story. Told entirely from an external point of view, in passive voice, the characters and plot never resonated with me. I wanted to hear from Angelina, the actual protagonist, not just the secondary characters. The method of delivery detracted from the story itself, to the point that there almost wasn’t a story. It was like being in a conversation where the subject is sitting right next to you, and everyone is talking about her, around her, and over her, but no one is talking to her. Awkward.

Characters: ** 2 Stars
Angelina has the Lustre, an ability to not only take away negative human emotions, but to take away physical pain and replace it with orgasmic pleasure. Interesting to say the least. Yet somehow Angelina is vacant, almost empty of emotion herself. She just sails along, not really taking an active part in her own life. Instead, the men in her life are the active participants, likely due to the fact that they’re the ones telling her story, and they make her out to be a perfect angel, innocent and pure…boring.

Her husband, Luciano, seems nice enough, adopting her as his ward when she’s a preteen, and making sure that she doesn’t feel obligated to marry him when she comes of age (though that was the intention all along). However he’s as naive as a teenager despite being more than a hundred years old.

The villain, Jacque Trace, is greedy and selfish, but hardly evil. His actions are despicable, but he also tries to make Angelina happy, in his selfish way. I didn’t like the man, but neither did I hate him, and he wasn’t scary, malicious, or dangerous enough to engage me emotionally. Overall, he was…meh.

Plot: ** 2 Stars
The plot is unfortunately as vacant as Angelina herself. It was just one event after another, without a story arc that slowly builds to an exciting climax and then resolves to satisfying conclusion. There were a few exciting events, such as a killing and a kidnapping, but they fell flat because they were told in a passive voice.

Setting: ** 2 Stars
Like everything else, I wanted more from the setting. I needed a year or an era, a full five-sense description, just something more.

Romance: * 1 Stars
A twelve year old girl is taken from her parents to be a ward of a much older man, with the expectation that when she’s of age, she will marry him. While the author tried to make the match seem like love, it never felt right to me. There were verbal declarations of love, and Luciano was good to Angelina, but I never felt the fire, and with the initial set-up of their relationship, it always felt too easy, and a little bit wrong.

Genre – Contemporary Fantasy or Paranormal Romance: * 1 Stars
I’m actually not really sure how to classify The Lustre. It’s not traditional paranormal romance by any means, but there is romance, and it’s in a contemporary setting. The concept of the Akataromai was interesting and unique, but the story was bland, like saltine crackers. I want more action, more romance, more passion, and more pain in my fantasy.

Note: This review was requested by the author. The only compensation received was a free copy of the book.

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Description From Goodreads:

Gwen Sparks holds a rare power. She can see into the memories of the dead. When she learns that vampires are killing witches for the power in their blood and selling it as the new hot drug, brew, she’ll have to team up with her ex-boyfriend, detective Micah Reynolds to catch the murderer. As if working with her ex wasn’t bad enough, Gwen’s also being pulled into the realm of death by an unsettled ghost and has to deal with a sexy but frustrating vampire who wants nothing more than to claim her as his. Can Gwen protect her heart, and her veins from the very species that craves her?

CRAVED, by Stephanie Nelson
Available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble

Review: ** 2 Stars
Gwen Sparks is a witch living in the otherworldly town of Flora, an enclave of witches, vampires, faeries, and werewolves where no humans are allowed to visit except on one weekend a year.  She reads in the paper that a witch was found dead in a ditch, drained of blood, but the local police are encouraging people not to assume that it’s a serial killer.  Gwen, unable to stand by while witches die, decides to offer her unique ability to learn the last thoughts of the dead to aid in the investigation, thrusting herself into a dangerous police case where she must work with her ex-boyfriend (a werewolf), appease her new boyfriend (a vampire), and avoid being next on the killer’s hitlist.

Reading the description, I had high hopes for this book and this author.  Unfortunately, the reality did not meet up with my expectations.

The premise of the story was unbelievable.  Gwen is an untrained civilian with no offensive magical capabilities.  Yes, she’s helped the police in the past using her abilities, but I have to assume it was at their request and on a limited basis.  It is completely unreasonable to expect cops to welcome a civilian as a full partner in an investigation, yet on this case Gwen manages to insert herself into the center of the action, not only reading the victim’s last thoughts, but going out with the cops to interview suspects and research leads.  Beyond the initial setup, the story also suffered from bad formatting, stiff and immature dialogue, repetitive and unnecessary descriptions of character motives or behaviors, and a lack of a magical system that leads me to believe this was a first effort by an otherwise unpublished author.  I would certainly encourage Ms. Nelson to keep trying, but unfortunately, CRAVED could have used more work before hitting the virtual shelves.

Characters: ** 2 Stars
Gwen is naive and somehow uneducated in her magic, despite living in a community surrounded by other witches.  I’ll grant that she’s young at twenty-six, but I would have thought that she would have been better trained at the school she apparently attended at the age of sixteen.  In the beginning, she is consumed by bitterness and grief over the breakup with her ex, avoiding the vampire that has essentially stalked her for two years, Aiden.  Then without warning, she suddenly falls head over heels in love and can’t stop drooling over him.  Meanwhile, Aiden does very little to deserve her sudden change of heart.  He’s nice enough, but mostly serves as a pretty face and generic alpha male.  The secondary characters are equally terrible.  Fiona is a selfish, spoiled brat that acts like a teenager even though she’s supposed to be Gwen’s best friend.  Micah is Gwen’s ex, but with the exception of the obvious tension in their relationship, I never got a good feel for him.  And the villain might have been crafty, but Gwen suspected him immediately, so there was little suspense to the story.

Plot: *** 3 Stars
The plot had promise, but it was overwhelmed by poor execution.  The first several chapters could have been condensed to provide a more concise introduction to the instigating event.  The magic system also needed to be further developed: there were no rules as to what could or could not be done.  In some cases the witches would use magic to change clothes or put makeup on their face, all with just a thought, and then they had to order a dress from the local tailor.  Finally, the ending was both predictable and far too open-ended for my taste, leaving me wanting (but not in a good way).

Setting: ** 2 Stars
I never got a good feel for the setting throughout the book.  For one thing, the town being segregated from humans threw me for a loop.  Supposedly it’s the humans that want separation, but then only a select few, chosen by the town, are able to visit during an annual festival, while the otherworldly residents can apparently come and go as they please.  I was also never clear on the boundaries of the investigation.  How does the Flora police department have rights to go into other towns to do its investigation?  Were the other towns also otherworld towns?  It was confusing to say the least.

Romance: * 1 Star
Gwen and Aiden were completely unbelievable together.  First, Gwen wants nothing to do with Aiden.  He’s an annoyance.  Then with a flip of a switch, she adores him.  They have sex at the most inappropriate times, like when they’re supposed to be on a stakeout and Gwen’s ex (a werewolf with supernatural hearing) is nearby.  The romance was forced and almost entirely about the sex rather than their relationship.

Genre – Urban Fantasy: ** 2 Stars
The author hits on a few of the urban fantasy tropes, but none are particularly well executed.  There are a couple of deaths and some action, but the horror and gore isn’t well described.  Gwen is on an investigation, but most of the facts just fall into her lap, or are dropped there by ghosts.  It’s sort of in an urban setting, but I couldn’t tell if Flora was really a city or just a large town.  Overall, I was underwhelmed.

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