Eat Prey Love by Kerrlyn Sparks

Eat Prey Love by Kerrlyn SparksEat Prey Love by Kerrelyn Sparks
on September 28, 2010
Pages: 373 pages
Source: Library
four-stars

Wanted: Bride. Must love children. Mortals need not apply.

Carlos Panterra is looking for a mate, a woman who will love and care for the young orphans he's recently taken under his wing (or paw, as the case may be). When the shape shifter spies the beautiful Caitlyn, it's like sunshine amidst the darkness. At last, he's found the perfect woman, except...

Caitlyn Whelan is mortal. Worse, her father is the head of a CIA agency bent on hunting the undead. Still, Caitlyn knows that Carlos is the man for her, shape shifter or not. So she jumps at the chance when her sister offers her a job to work with him, determined to show Carlos their attraction is more than just animal magnetism. But danger lurks in the night, and their unleashed, untamed passion might just get them both killed...

I loved Eat Prey Love! I loved almost everything about it and had a really hard time of putting it down to go adulting.

Eat Prey Love has seen the perimeters of my physical shelves more times than I’d like to admit because I keep buying it and then either selling it or giving it away because I always talk myself out of reading it. But after being in this reading game for 10+ years I should already know that any story involving kids and a shifter I’m all over that story. I think what also had me on the fence about Eat Prey Love was the sheer amount of book in this series. Lately, I’ve been finding myself trying out series that have books that are now in the double digits and I either get intimated or decide to rebel and read whatever books out of the series that I want to read just to see if the series is worth all of the contemplation I put into thinking about them. I am glad to say that the Love at Stake series is a definite must read just from reading Eat Prey Love.

Early on in Eat Prey Love I had to pause and re-read the synopsis a few times because the story wasn’t starting off how I imagined it would for Carlos to have 5 adopted children he needed to watch over, but I had to keep talking myself into not passing judgement until the story started to open up more. Eat Prey Love might’ve not formulated as I imagined but it was composed in an almost flawless manner that I can’t deny kept and held my attention with no problem.

Carlos and Caitlyn were so evenly matched, not so much in strength but just as people, they balanced and completed the other in ways that I have rarely seen in the paranormal romance genre, heck the romance genre period. While Carlos was reserved and just full of secrets (not malicious one or ones that would end up hurting Caitlyn in the end, but his hurts and his motivations for doing some of the things that he did past and present) Caitlyn was so open and uninhibited when it came to Carlos. With everyone else in Eat Prey Love, these two had no problem with holding what they felt or thought close to their chest unless the other party showed their cards first, but when it came to each other they craved the intimacy of sharing everything about themselves with the other with no strings attached, well unless those strings came with loving this unconditionally which they both did they just hadn’t gotten around to telling the other yet.

I really had wished that Eat Prey Love was longer than what it was because I would have really enjoyed reading about how Carlos and Caitlyn were going to parent or be guardians over the 5 cubs that Carlos adopted. The two babies adore Caitlyn so I wasn’t too worried about them, but I would’ve really liked to see how she interacted with the 3 older children, escpeicallly the one who thought she could become Carlos’ mate since he was hellbent on finding a were-panther mate.

Eat Prey Love was dang near perfect except for the tedious rejection that Carlos insisted needed to happen between him and Caitlyn because he was stuck on finding a were-panther mate to continue his dying species. I’m really looking forward to reading more of this series because Eat Prey Love was too good to not be a great sign of there being other stories of the same caliber or better floating around this series.

Bonnie & Clyde of the Hood by Alicia Howard

Bonnie & Clyde of the Hood by Alicia HowardBonnie & Clyde of the Hood by Alicia Howard, Rasheed Carter
on September 30, 2014
Pages: 126 pages
Source: Purchased
three-half-stars

Bonnie is a sexy beast that hustle these streets, nigga, and bitches out that money. She don’t care how she get that paper as long as she eats well and rides plush. She is a heavy hitter that don’t take no shit. She been sitting doing a five year bid now that she’s out Bonnie is ready to take the hood over once again.
Clyde is fine a laid back hustler that owns most of the hood. Its only one person stand in the way of him being the king of it all. A nigga name Lynch. Clyde is determined to have it all because whatever he wants he gets. Nothing will stand in his way or so he thinks.
When Bonnie & Clyde bum heads will it be love at first sight or battle of the King & Queen it only one way you will find out….is by reading the book.

What did I just read?! Bonnie & Clyde of the Hood was unlike any story I’ve every read before (other African American Urban Fiction stories included!).

If you’ve read my reviews before you know that I am a sucker for a heroine that is all that way ballsy and that can be soft when necessary and I have to say that Bonita aka Bonnie was all that and more. She participated in some activities that I wasn’t too keen on, and some really had me scratching my head as to why she felt that she needed to do certain things, but by the end of Bonnie & Clyde of the Hood it became clear that everything that was done worked towards the end goal for these characters.

Now, Clyde on the other hand was so different than any other alpha male out in the romance world. He had alpha tendencies but he didn’t flaunt them if you get what I mean. The way he carried himself and the things that he said and did screamed boss but they came naturally to him as breathing does to the rest of us; there was nothing flashy about his character at all and I think that’s what made me love his character all the more.

When I saw that Bonnie & Clyde of the Hood was free on Amazon I knew I had to one-click it. My ultimate story is for the main male and female character to have either ‘its an us against the world’ type of approach to their problems of whatever conflict is placed in their story, or to want to place their stamp on the world as reigning king and queen no matter how small their kingdom may be; I’m all about boss couples. Now while Bonnie and Cylde weren’t an actual couple throughout most of Bonnie & Clyde of the Hood it was clear as day that they were two alphas dominating every situation and/or stomping ground they chose.

Bonnie & Clyde of the Hood was a page turner for me for the simple fact that I could never predict what was going to happen next! I’m serious, at every turn of the page something unexpected happened and I would find myself wondering where the heck this story was going to go next. I love when a story is unpredictable because it lets me become immersed within the story and fall into another world that’s unlike my own.

Bonnie & Cylde of the Hood wasn’t a 5 star read for me because of some of the actions Bonnie participated in, as well as the poor editing interspersed throughout the book. I’m usually not a stickler of misspelled words or sometimes choppy sentences but when I have to reread a sentence or a passage more than once and then try to analyze what’s being said my excitement for the story wanes a little each time. While reading Bonnie & Clyde of the Hood, there were a few times that I had this happen.

It was no question of whether I was going to read book 2, and thank goodness it was also free. Bonnie & Clyde of the Hood didn’t end of a cliffhanger but it left my imagination running wild as to what’s next for these two dominant characters. I’m left wondering if the war is over or is there another player waiting in the shadows to pounce and reek havoc?

Quit Your Witchin’ by Dakota Cassidy

I received this book for free from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Quit Your Witchin’ by Dakota CassidyQuit Your Witchin' by Dakota Cassidy
on April 28, 2016
Source: Publisher
three-half-stars

Hello again! It's me, Stevie Cartwright, ex-witch and new Madam Zoltar. I was fresh off the murder-suspect list and just settling into Madam Z's psychic medium shoes-with the help of my bat familiar Belfry and spirit spy Win-when another death rocked sleepy little Ebenezer Falls, Washington state. Tito Bustamante, my beloved purveyor of mouth-watering Mexican munchies, has been found dead in the food truck court. Rumor has it that Tito was stickin' his chimichanga where it didn't belong, and my gut-not to mention his less-than-natural death-says murder. No one is above suspicion. Not Tito's own wife and daughter, not his arch food truck enemy Jacob, and certainly not the son Tito didn't know about, newly arrived in Ebenezer Falls and getting cozy with my hired help. Do join me (and try not to point and laugh) as I juggle catching a killer, snooping for clues about Win's previous life, gabbing with and eavesdropping on the locals, and enduring a visit from my very unwelcome, very annoyingly gorgeous ex-coven leader-all while continuing to adjust to my new witchless existence.

For some reason on the heels of Witch Slapped I felt the need to jump right into Quit Your Witchin’ and now that I finished I’m glad that I did.

Quit Your Witchin’ continued on in the same hilarious dialogue between Win and Belfry as it did in Witch Slapped, and held the same appealing elements. Out of everything else it was the mystery that made me sit up and pay attention. Tito was the taco man who refused Stevie service in Witch Slapped because she was suspected of killing Madam Zoltar which sort of broke Stevie’s heart because she loved the Tito and his tacos, but in Quit Your Witchin’ her heart is breaking because of him for a different and more fatal reason.

This installment of the Witchless in Seattle series contained the same level of humor and mystery as Witch Slapped, to be honest if it wasn’t for the different murder mystery I wouldn’t have been able to tell the difference. You might see this a bad thing but I actually saw it as a consistency within the series. One of the downsides I found with Quit Your Witchin’ had to do with the introduction to more characters, and while they made the story more enjoyable they didn’t really do much to help in adding clues to solve the mystery of who killed Tito ‘the taco man.’

It really shocked me when at the end of Quit Your Witchin’ that the killer turned out to me none of the people we were introduced to but someone totally different. The reasons behind the murderer killing Tito didn’t really jive with me because it felt like a different storyline. Now if it had been someone closer to the deceased then I could’ve understood, but for the murder to literally come out of the shadows and want to kill Stevie (who by the way wasn’t no where near figuring out who actually killed Tito) I couldn’t connect.

Despite the problems I found with Quit Your Witchin’ I practically devoured this audiobook, there were so many fun times and so many suspects (that’s why I was let down when none of them turned out to be the killer). Based off some of the things that went on later in Quit Your Wtichin’ I know that some exciting things are in store for Stevie, Win, and Belfry and I can almost guarantee that there will be another visit from Baba Yaga.

Twisted by Hannah Jayne

I received this book for free from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Twisted by Hannah JayneTwisted by Hannah Jayne
on July , 2016
Source: Publisher
two-stars

Bex has always been her daddy's little girl. After her mother left, it was just the two of them. Sure he spoiled her with clothes and jewelry, but what father doesn't dote on his daughter? Except Bex's dad is alleged to be a notorious serial killer. Dubbed the "Wife Collector" by the press, her father disappeared before he could stand trial, and Bex was left to deal with the taunts and rumors. Foster care is her one chance at starting over, starting fresh. But Bex's old life isn't ready to let her go. When bodies start turning up in her new hometown, the police want to use her as bait to bring her father in for questioning. Is Bex trapping a serial killer or endangering an innocent man?

Oh I really wanted to like Twisted. The premise was spot on and the execution was solid but the main character Beth/Bex tanked this story for me.

Maybe I missed something from Twisted’s synopsis, maybe not, but the fact that Beth/Bex turned out to still be in high school I was thrown but was still willing to push through to see how the author would spin or play on this sort of field. Sadly, when it became obvious that Beth/Bex was going to be the stereotypical high school teenager who just happens to have a father in prison for being a serial killer I really started to loose interest.

At the first description of the first attractive boy that Bex sees (I can’t even remember his name) she describes him so poetically that I almost, seriously, got sick to my stomach. I understood that her whole life was uprooted and full of scandal and fear but for Bex to be the stereotypical high school girl along with trying to figure out if her father was really the serial killer that everyone said he was or was there someone else out there killing girls, Twisted took a turn that left me stumped.

The narrator, Amy McFadden, did a great job of bring Bex’s character and the mystery surrounding her life to life. I am interested to listen to other stories she has narrated because I would hate to color my opinion of her based off her participation in narrating Twisted, alone.

Like I said, I really wanted to like Twisted, but the immaturity of Bex made it really hard to take its story seriously. From the very beginning red flags were going up all over the place from Bex’s adoptive parents to the kids at school, especially those who warmed up to her so quickly. The only character that actually seemed real and fit the mood and tone of what I believe Twisted was meant to be was the wanna be reporter/journalist/director classmate that figured out who Bex was just by looking at her.

The mystery of Twisted was delicious though, and I would’ve loved this story if Bex’s character was either an adult or had an adult influence that was part of her past and now her present to balance out the high school awkwardness. Lastly, please go into Twisted with your eyes open in knowing that this is a young adult story with an adult mystery; I don’t want anyone to be disappointed or confused like I was.

Darkest Before Dawn by Amelia Hutchins

Darkest Before Dawn by Amelia HutchinsDarkest Before Dawn by Amelia Hutchins
on October 14, 2014
Pages: 437
Source: Purchased
three-half-stars

Going through an apocalyptic event doesn't mean the end of the world.

My dad is a modern day Noah, you know building an ark, trying to save folks and getting my brother, and I ready for the impending end of days – whatever that means.

Nothing in his prepper manuals had us ready for what actually happened.
I had nothing to prepare me for Jaeden and Lachlan. Heck, I don’t know of any girl that would have been prepared for those two.

There was nothing to prepare us for the things that go bump in the night or zombies, although now that I think on it, zombies might have been easier to deal with than what really happened. No, an apocalyptic event is just a set-up for things in our world to be shaken AND stirred.

What will rise from the ruins remains to be seen.

I really enjoyed Amelia Hutchins’ Fae Chronicle series, so for the fact that she had a zombie-like, paranormal romance, apocalyptic-type story out there I had to scoop it up and read it. In enters Darkest Before Dawn, and wow I didn’t expect to have so many conflicting feelings towards this story!

Right off the bat, Emma’s character grabbed my attention. The way the beginning of Darkest Before Dawn started with Emma giving us a glimpse of the turmoil she was experiencing during the present circumstances, after the virus had swept through the land, really showed both her strength and humanity. It was sometimes because of the strength of her character that I found myself, at times, talking myself into continuing with Darkest Before Dawn; she fell victim to the mentality that she had to go at certain things alone which would sometimes backfire.

While Darkest Before Dawn started off great, that favorable momentum waned and took on the embodiment of a rollercoaster when Jaeden (maybe hero, but the main one she was banging all the time) and Emma’s ‘relationship’ became more complicated than I felt that it should’ve been.

Here’s the breakdown of my core problem with Darkest Before Dawn:

  • Exhibit 1: We have Emma, who’s a 21 year old virgin, kissing, making out, and talking dirty to two alpha males knowing they’re in opposition to each other.
  • Exhibit 2: Because of the world in which Emma, and the rest of the people who live within the Ark, live in Emma didn’t have time for naive moments when it came to Jaeden and Lachlan.
  • Exhibit 3: At every turn she played into Jaeden and Lachlan’s ability to posture and flex their alpha muscles which slowly broke down the strongholds she has placed around her heart and emotions, as well as corrupting the almost impenetrable system she had going for those she and her father had rescued when the virus almost wiped out the United States, maybe the world.

When the world is going to hell in a hand basket you have to stay on your P’s and Q’s, and with Emma dealing with these two fools she slipped a lot.

I started off Darkest Before Dawn completely fine with Emma’s relationship with Jaeden, the vampire, because he pulled her out of her shell and matched her so well that they would’ve been really compatible. But then my favorable feelings towards him went down hill so fast I almost had whiplash. He could’ve really redeemed himself by doing a few things:

  1. If he didn’t have his clingy psychotic ex still hanging around,
  2. If he wasn’t open to sharing Emma with his other vampire friends and then would change his mind when it suited him,
  3. If he repeatedly didn’t exclaim that Emma was nothing like his ex-wife but still viewed her with the glasses colored by his ex-wife’s actions, and
  4. Lastly, if he didn’t play with her like she was a play toy.

When it became known that Emma was turning into something that neither the vampires nor the werewolves could recognize or explain, the story actually picked up for me. I couldn’t get too excited though because the anchor that was the Emma and Jaeden show was still going strong and still weighing the story down with unnecessary drama and dialogue. The sex scenes between these two were borderline awkward because, while I like a hero who can dirty talk, Jaeden felt that he had to explain every little nuance when all I wanted to scream to him was ‘get on with it!” If it had been me, I would’ve fell asleep halfway through his explanation of what all he was going to do with me.

Despite the struggles I had with Darkest Before Dawn the story stuck with me for a while after I closed its’ pages. I’ve read some reviews of this story and the common denominator was questions about book 2, and now that I’ve finished Darkest Before Dawn I’m not all the excited for book two of this story. It didn’t end with a cliffhanger but it ends with letting you know that there’s something more to this story, but I hope that either Emma cuts Jaeden loose or they finally get their crap together.

About Amelia Hutchins

Amelia lives in the great Pacific Northwest with her family. When not writing, she loves everything paranormal and everything romance.