Illuminae (The Illuminae Files 01) by Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff

Its been a long time since I’ve had a book review go up. I’m so sorry! I started about 3 books on my Kindle and just couldn’t get into it. It was time to admit that it is time to pick up one of my physical books and see if it will do better.

Illuminae has had a lot of buzz about its awesomeness. Being not so into Young Adult books and really not much of a sci-fi enthusiast, I still decided to give this a go because I just can’t miss out on what others call awesome and I needed a change in pace. I’ve read books like this before where its comprised of telling a story through reports and such. It is one of my favorite sorts of reading because it does feel really authentic most of the times. World War Z had a similar set-up and Carrie was definitely this type of story except a different genre. Anyways, just when you pick up the book, it looks so intriguing and fun!

Let’s check it out!

Illuminae (The Illuminae Files 01)
by: Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff

Illuminae

This morning, Kady thought breaking up with Ezra was the hardest thing she’d have to do. This afternoon, her planet was invaded. The year is 2575, and two rival megacorporations are at war over a planet that’s little more than an ice-covered speck at the edge of the universe. Too bad nobody thought to warn the people living on it. With enemy fire raining down on them, Kady and Ezra—who are barely even talking to each other—are forced to fight their way onto an evacuating fleet, with an enemy warship in hot pursuit. But their problems are just getting started. A deadly plague has broken out and is mutating, with terrifying results; the fleet’s AI, which should be protecting them, may actually be their enemy; and nobody in charge will say what’s really going on. As Kady hacks into a tangled web of data to find the truth, it’s clear only one person can help her bring it all to light: the ex-boyfriend she swore she’d never speak to again. – Goodreads

 WOW! I don’t go all googly eyes and crazy about books. Illuminae is definitely something. It is nice to feel the same passion and excitement as others. There is so much creativity in this one and the way it shows off the situation through hacked documents and camera footage and making it authentic and forbidden by striking out sentences and having spaces and having little images created through words and binary numbers is so smart and suitable for a story like this one. It takes us not only in the future of 2575 but a dystopia. We can believe in the Kady and Ezra who has broken up over something that seems so random now. Aren’t most teen break-ups like that? However, life does throw them lemons and that comes in the form of a war that they can’t control and are split up over the two ships that remain. There’s a lot of politics as the captains of the ships have to make difficult decisions. And we see these in memos.

Other than the creative elements of using different mediums to tell their story so we get a pretty good picture of what is going on, it is the progression and pacing of the events that make it so fun. Also, the fact that we are zeroed into various characters more and the story makes the feeling of well-rounded, its easy to forget that other things are happening and then when it does have a reveal, the moments tend to build up in several surprises and twists that truly make this one big. What starts off as a sci-fi, war and dystopian novels quickly turns around and becomes a futuristic “zombie-esque” movie. Somehow revealing that probably makes it worse because that was one of the bigger twists in Illuminae that I embraced and was shocked because I didn’t read any synopsis before jumping in.

In terms of characters, Kady and Ezra are an interesting pair of characters. There’s a clear connection between them and right away for two kids nearing adulthood (aka 18 years old), there is a striped away innocence that we can’t push away. Both of them have their secrets while Kady seems to have something more. As the readers, we get a third person view of reading these reports and we get a clear idea of where everyone stands and how they both feel and what they are going through. Aside from them, perhaps the other character is the all powerful AI called AIDAN who takes on a huge role as it takes control in this 2575 future of almost everything and humans are rendered almost dysfunctional and slow when they lose the power to use it. I won’t tell you why but it brings on a whole new meaning to technology and aritificial intelligence being a double-edged sword.

Illuminae is a book that you jump into to take an adventure. It almost feels like watching a movie and yet, I don’t want this to be adapted into a movie (although its already announced that it will be – of course). There’s something about reading these passages that work so much more than what a movie adaptation can do. The fact that its like we are watching this in third person recap from different footages gives such a nice imaginative journey. It does so much more to what we can see going on. There are twists that can only work because of the between the lines and hidden facts on paper along with the imagery. Illuminae is a must-read. It has been a long time I haven’t felt this excitement for a book before: a pageturner full of thrills and twists and some compelling characters, moral and ethical choices. It is so awesome!

Rambling about adaptations ahead… skip if you’d like

Before I go, I just need to ramble about movie adaptations because both my darling husband and fantastic co-host has heard about it. I’m all for adaptations, heck, I’m starting a freakin’ segment on it, right? However, there are exceptions to the equation. It is why I wish some people would realize why its okay to not adapt every book (or video game) that is popular. The whole execution can be the death of what was a great book: look at I Am Number Four. A great book series that just didn’t take off as a movie which is a shame because it can do so well in the right hands. Another example more along the lines of this one is World War Z which was a great movie but it wasn’t an adaptation or even an inspiration, it was a zombie movie that leeched off the idea of World War Z. The book wasn’t about that: it was about survival and the different citizens and their stories and escape. It wasn’t about almighty Brad Pitt solving the mystery of it all. I liked the movie but calling it an adaptation is just trying to sell it as something it isn’t. To be fair, Carrie did a fairly good job for something with similar structure. There are some great adaptations but with something that works so well, perhaps I’m just not creative enough to see how they can make Illuminae great and I think part of it is how much involvement the authors have in this matter to use their creativity to work it all out. I’m happy that the adaptation will probably get a bigger reach for Illuminae, however, I will try to tuck away the subjective views and wait for the first trailer to see how they approach it all.

Rambling done…

Have you read Illuminae? Are you planning to?

Friends with Partial Benefits (Friends with Benefits #1) by Luke Young

It does feel like forever since I’ve written a book review. Maybe not, the last one was A Good Marriage, I believe. (It’s been really busy…) Either way, I figured after some awesome reading, I’d go for some contemporary book that has been just sitting around in my Kindle for a long time. I have to admit that the reason I’ve been straying away from this one for so long is because the cover kind of makes me laugh a little. While there has been a lot of these sexy novels in my readings in the past year (not erotica because I can’t quite categorize this one in there), there has been some surprises. Some quite pleasant surprises, in fact. So, I really go into these with an open mind and hope to just finish this with a light and fun time. Expect to see some more of this alternating between genres just to keep things interesting for myself.

Let’s check out this first book and I’ll tell you if I’ll consider continuing on with this series!

Friends with Partial Benefits
by: Luke Young

Friends with Partial Benefits

Jillian Grayson is a disillusioned divorcée and best-selling romance novelist who suddenly can’t write a chapter without her hunky male heartthrob suffering ED, an STD, or even worse. Brian Nash is a tennis-obsessed college senior who’s unlucky in love and the roommate and best friend of Jillian’s son, Rob. When Rob brings Brian home for Spring Break, and Brian meets the surprisingly young and tennis passionate Jillian, their shared interest quickly develops into an intense mutual attraction. After nearly giving in to their feelings, they hatch a plan, while under the influence (of something more than just the perfect Miami night), to be Friends With Partial Benefits, complete with rules to define the boundaries. Will the lonely pair continue with this distinctive relationship, actually explore their desires, or discover all of it is a really bad idea? – Goodreads

Friends With Partial Benefits is really not a bad way to start a series. In fact, it redeems itself quite well in finding the balance between being sexy (not erotic) and romantic. Sure, its a little hard to relate because of the age of the character and just how daring she is but a part of books, just like movies, are appealing because they lead us to a experience something exciting and differently from our own reality. Now, don’t get me wrong, there are criticisms. A few of them that drew me away from the immersion however, for the fact that finds a good balance and keeps the style pretty easy to read, if you like this genre, its not a bad read especially since its a legit length for a debut and its free which I always think is a nice and smart way to get audience.

Contemporary romances are so hard to find nowadays where our sex and manhoods are not mentioned. Don’t blame me. That is what these books like to refer to these body parts so just using the lingo to also prevent a ton of odd search terms.  However, what I am getting at is that, while attraction and emphasis on mesmerizing over “manhoods and sexes” seem quite key to having greater attraction, making it seem pretty creepy, there is a nice way of making it about building on that relationship and not hopping on for a ride right away. (Did I just write that? What have I become?) While Friends with Partial Benefits does have its attractive young guy and lovely best friend’s mom, there is still an effort to focus on the development of these relationships despite still adding in the rather fun/funny and to me, a little far-fetched circumstances. However, I do believe far-fetched ideas are acceptable because it is an imaginary story so you can let these fantastical courage happen even if its a little ridiculous. These characters are fun so that is a huge plus.My main issue with this one is really in a bit of clunky writing. The writing style sometimes feels like it doesn’t flow well into the next scene. Especially as it takes on the views of two characters (or maybe three).

I’ve commented in previous reviews of similar genres about these things but I feel that this book is also commendable as a free debut because it is a full size book that sets up the stage for the further sequels and its free to legitimately see if you like the characters to invest into the series. Its characters are pretty fleshed out and even if you don’t continue the series, its not an open ended conclusion but a point in time that can be continued with other life events for these characters. A side note that I have been appreciative of in the past year particularly. Being self-contained is very important and really showing that respecting the reader makes this one even more appealing to myself. Along with the fact that it wasn’t just a thousand sex scenes stringed together. There is an actual story building up in this one as crazy as a lot of the character decisions were.

Friends With Partial Benefits has its issues but it also does have some fun characters and scenes. There is a nice development and foundation built for these characters despite some clunky dialogue and flow problems in the writing. The passionate scenes are done well and seeks to be seductive but never into the full on sexual area. Finding that middle is hard but this one definitely is on the right track. It will be interesting to see where this goes although I have this odd feeling of watching a soap opera at times or potential for it, so for now, I’m putting this one on hold but in consideration to continue on. If this is a genre you enjoy, you might like it.

Sherlock Holmes and the Nine-Sigil Dragon by Tim Symonds

***Thanks very much to the author for reaching out to me to review his newest novel!***

Sherlock Holmes and the Nine-Sigil Dragon
By: Tim Symonds

sherlock holmes and the nine-sigil dragon

It’s the year 1906. Rumours abound that a deadly plot is hatching – not in the fog-ridden back-alleys of London’s Limehouse district or the sinister Devon moors of the Hound of the Baskervilles but in faraway Peking. Holmes’s task – discover whether such a plot exists and if so, foil it. But are the assassins targeting the young and progressive Ch’ing Emperor or his imperious aunt, the fearsome Empress Dowager Cixi? The murder of either could spark a civil war. The fate of China and the interests of Britain’s vast Empire in the Orient could be at stake. Holmes and Watson take up the mission with their customary confidence – until they find they are no longer in the familiar landscapes of Edwardian England. Instead, they tumble into the Alice In Wonderland world of the Forbidden City. – Goodreads

Sherlock Holmes is everywhere now. He has been reinterpreted for the big screen and in television, modernized to the 21st century and even so much time after still capturing the hearts of a lot of readers. It is suffice to say that Arthur Conan Doyle created a beyond iconic character and investigative team with Sherlock and Dr.Watson. I feel that I need to justify that I have ONLY read The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes and none of the other stories. I just never got around to it. Especially when it also happens to be the first book review I did here and needs revision so much. To say that I know the Sherlock Holmes character well via literature is a huge stretch but I feel that most of Holmes books are rather case by case so lets just jump right in.

Tim Symonds has written a few of these Sherlock Holmes follow-up novels building his own cases. I have not read them but I do feel it incredibly coincidental that he happens to set me up with this one which is set in China back in the Empress Dowager days. Perfect setting and great use of historic characters. Empress Dowager and the emperor at the time along with her renowned and powerful eunuch and all these colorful characters in history makes for a great story. The mysteries in the Forbidden Palace however for myself was not so well concealed because I did grow up with a lot of this Chinese history material and I had suspected the who quite early in the story.

Sherlock Holmes and the Nine Sigil Dragon however does have a great writing. The more classical English is always fun to read. It is a change in pace (especially for myself) and there are much less frequently used words which may require a dictionary to grasp but the context is always on track. The writing captures what I remember Sherlock and Dr. Watson’s dynamic together. However, the pacing leaves a little to be desired. A strong start is always tricky and yet while I did enjoy the story when it picked up a few chapters in, the trip to China at the start felt a little slow. It might be the process of getting used to reading the most sophisticated writing (which is a high probability).

Going back to the characters, I feel that the need to show the interest in English and how they did speak it broken or not was a little unnecessary. The characters themselves goes without saying that we can assume who they are. Perhaps because I do speak Chinese that it became bothersome to have to read the same words in their romanized Mandarin form while also reading it with the English term. It felt a little like a Chinese lesson. However, it does come into context. Little nitpicks on my part. Also, this world is complicated. The Forbidden City and the ranks and their characters and the traditions and formalities are all depicted quite well. My suggestion to those that plan on reading this: make use of the glossary in the back because it will has a great purpose even to deeper understand what certain things mean.

In fact, even for myself, growing up outside of China, there are little details that I wasn’t aware of or just sometimes slips my mind. In those moments, when the mystery and the investigation starts going more in depth. The pieces start falling together. I always love the deciphering the case and what happens because that is when the details really come together perfectly and the author has done a great job in doing so. The mystery is fun. It uses and respects a lot of the history and the nature of these characters and the complexities behind the walls of Forbidden City and the politics of the entire situation.

Overall, Sherlock Holmes and the Nine-Sigil Dragon is a good read. It dives into Chinese history and enters into the Forbidden City, bringing to life some of the iconic historic people that actually was a big deal. The mystery itself is feasible and the writing is done very well. While, the beginning could have been paced better and there were small things in the charaterization that left a little to be desired, the story works well once it picks up and offers a great mystery to solve.

Fighting Grief (Knockout #1) by Kellie Perkins

The first book of the year usually is what I had to put down during the holidays and didn’t get a chance to wrap up until the last few days. I have some lovely books sent to me lately which I need to read next but before those this one needs to be wrapped up and I had the perfect opportunity to finish it when I was waiting for a software to download and install. Fighting Grief is a first book in a trilogy and while it costs $1.XX on Amazon right now, I did get it when it was a free book back in 2014 or something.

Let’s check it out!

Fighting Grief (Knockout #1)
by: Kellie Perkins

Fighting Grief

Keeva O’Brien has lost all desire to work for a dream that was never really hers. Keeva’s brother, Luke, was the one who wanted her to go to college, the one who wanted her to be something more than he or their parents. Luke raised her, gave up everything to be there for Keeva after their parents died. But when Luke died, Keeva could no longer see the point.  When new bartender, Nash Pierce, begins working at the same restaurant where Keeva works, she has no interest in his charm. All she wants is to forget her grief, to forget that everything that had made her world make sense died in an instant when her brother was killed while fighting for an underground MMA club. Nash is willing to help her do that. – Goodreads

Am I glad that I didn’t read the synopsis on Goodreads before I started this book? If you were to shrink this book into 3 paragraphs, that is generally the version you’d use because its not a synopsis. It highlights almost everything you need to decipher the ending which was obvious from the moment Nash enters the picture, by the way. I’m getting ahead of myself now.

Fighting Grief isn’t a bad novel aside from its painfully obvious situation of who Nash is and what happens to Keeva. In fact, it does itself justice by focusing on the romance and the healing and expanding on getting to somewhat understand the characters a little, while even trickling in with some conversations with supporting characters. All those aspects of Fighting Grief is good. I’d even say that the writing is fun and quick to read while still remembering to never dive into the erotica area and just dabble on the surface of a romance and the connection that Keeva and Nash have for each other. I do think that the writing can be polished a little more but this is the first book I’ve read of Kellie Perkins so I’m sure there is room for much improvement and probably has in the later books.

However, Fighting Grief is a very generic story about tragic loss and the ending is painfully obvious as I mentioned before. In fact, the only reason I did keep reading it unfortunately was to prove myself right or let the book prove me wrong. Plus, I’m not one to start a book and not at least give it a chance to redeem itself. There is merit here and I can see the appeal for some people but for me, it felt a little too obvious. There are coincidences and then there are “coincidences” if you know what I mean. Plus, there are moments when I didn’t really like our main character Keeva. I get that she is grieving but she seems incredibly immature for someone who has been thrown into unfortunate situation since she was young.

Overall, I feel like I already have a general idea where the next two books in the trilogy might go if it is as predictable as this one. While I do wonder how it will all play out, it isn’t quite enough for me to pick up the second book. However, if you want a quick romance read, this might fit the bill.

Never Kiss a Bad Boy by Nora Flite

Remember in the haul post yesterday when I said that I had to get a book because its original trilogy format was changed to just one book and I had to make that purchase, this is said book. It was originally called For the Thrill but now its just called Never Kiss the Bad Boy. If this was the first title I had seen, I would have passed over it but oh well, it is what it is. I don’t like feeling like I didn’t finish a book so it just had to be done.

Let’s check it out!

Never Kiss a Bad Boy
by: Nora Flite

Never Kiss a Bad Boy

Could you fall in love with a killer? How about two?When hiring a hitman, it’s important to remember two rules.
One: Pay in cash.  And two: Don’t sleep with him. –Goodreads

 I’ve reviewed a few erotica novels here this past year. Its definitely a whole different ball park. Before this year, the only erotica I had read was Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy and I think it was before I wrote book reviews here. Suffice to say that erotica is a tricky genre to appreciate. I feel that everyone has a different idea of what they are looking for when they read adult fiction. If you have read some of my previous reviews, I haven’t been particularly happy with them because most of the time, the female character is somewhat unfairly portrayed, making it lack somewhat of the realistic feeling of what I’d like to see. As I mentioned before, I started Never Kiss a Bad Boy when I was reading For The Thrill which is the first book of the trilogy it was before it was put together into one book. While I appreciate the move, I actually had more fun reading For the Thrill in itself than finishing up the entire book. The story took somewhat of a predictable turn by the end but to be fair, I did really enjoy the characters and the fact that it used all three main characters to narrate different chapters so there was a good grasp of who these people were and gave them time to charm the reader and like them even in the most odd way of having this three way relationship. The only complaint I did have with this one is that the incredibly well constructed and extremely steamy sex scenes overpowered the story beneath of finding a killer and seeking revenge which with a better balance would have made this book have much more substance. Don’t get me wrong though. I love steamy sex scenes that don’t make me cringe because they are so fun to read and this one has a ton of them. I just also was intrigued by the story behind it that could have been built a little more if it was for a sex scene every other chapter.

With that said, I need to talk about our characters. The “bad boy” here are actually “bad boys” because it features two ex-hit men who just finished their last job: the calm and calculated Jacob and very social butterfly Kite. Together they make a great team. In fact, they even have a blood brother bond which leads into their last job attracting the attention of Marina who was tracking down the man they killed to find the lead of who murdered her family when she was a little girl. Because of that, she went on a hunt for these hit men to help her. They agree after some manipulation but to their surprise, they start falling for each other. Marina is a tough girl and very focused. Her life is restricted and lonesome (much like Jacob and Kite) because she is haunted by her past and wants to have the revenge in order to hopefully let it go even if it means that she’ll die. She’s extreme that way, but as we learn more about her, you can’t really blame her. Somehow, Marina, Jacob and Kite form a connection. Well, its hard to resist to hot men but Jacob and Kite are portrayed as something more, whether its their mysterious personality or their story, it pulls them all closer together and because of the blood brother bond, Jacob and Kite finally decide that they only way they can be with Marina is having her together and of course she agrees and from there, the story keeps going. Expect lots of threesome steamy sex scenes in this one. The fun part of this book though is that the characters do act a little different from what we’d expect and that gives them a fun element and something to think about because each of them are changing because of meeting the other, whether its Jacob or Kite changing because of Marina or Marina changing because of them. There’s always a question whether there is a bigger hidden agenda that might twist the story around.

Overall, Never Kiss a Bad Boy has a lot of great moments and a pretty nice story and well-built characters. The sex scenes are fun and steamy, but never cringe-worthy (which is actually quite rare) because it builds on the character’s chemistry. While the erotica is done well, the story that drew these characters together gets lost in the romantic story which is a shame because it would have been nice to see a little more of it and explore a little more of what Marina could have achieved in this mix. For what it is, Never Kiss a Bad Boy is pretty good.

Miss Taken by Cleo Scornavacca (Miss Taken #1)

I’m taking a different approach with NaNoWriMo this year so I figured that reading a novel would be a good idea. And obviously, it had to not be in the genre as I was writing so I decided to go as far away as possible and chose to read this book sitting in my Kindle for about two years. Well, kind of far away so I chose a contemporary romance/family saga (as Amazon categorizes it). Here’s Miss Taken, the first book of Miss Taken Identity. I didn’t read the synopsis before I started this up….how many times do I say that I shouldn’t do that.

Let’s check it out!

Miss Taken
by Cleo Scornavacca

Miss Taken

Rain and Raven Medici are identical twins. Although they come from a loving close-knit family their childhoods couldn’t have been more different. Once grown, Raven becomes a lawyer at their dad’s firm Kane & Medici in NYC. Rain along with her only childhood friend Tommy Conte, builds a very successful business as professional photographers. Dominick Kane is a product of his upbringing. He’s powerful, self-assured and knows he can achieve anything he desires. There is only one thing he has ever failed at. A relationship with his father Vincent Kane. Upon his father’s death, Dominick vows revenge. In a bizarre twist of fate, Dominick kidnaps Raven as part of his plan for revenge. Only to discover afterward, he has taken Rain by mistake. Rain knows she can never survive being confined again. So she strikes a bargain with the devil and agrees to help Dominick get back what he feels rightly belongs to him. His father’s share of Kane & Medici.- Goodreads

Note: The synopsis on Goodreads is much more detailed. I just took snippets. Click on the Goodreads link to read the full version.

…sigh… Before we start, I think I should be totally clear that I took two weeks off after reading this before writing to minimize the frustrations I felt as I was reading this. There is a few good points that Miss Taken does but mostly, the way they executed and took the novel got me really frustrated. I mean, its kind of the frustration I felt for Tasting the Boy Next Door (review HERE). I want to start with the good points, just to maybe calm my nerves a little because thinking of this novel again makes me feel the anger boiling up again. But somehow, my good points can’t be backed with talking about the frustrations I had. Before we start, let me reiterate that I’m not extreme feminist or anything. I just don’t quite believe in particularly writing female characters like the way that they are done here.  You will see what I mean below. And also, if you are going to have detailed sex scenes,  it is in the erotica zone. Just saying that because then readers will know what they are buying into. Yet again, I’m not that uptight but I felt a little surprised. Its my fault. I had my suspicions just by the title of the book and I still went ahead with it. At least it also exactly fits the criteria of what I was looking for.

Miss Taken starts off okay. We learn about Rain and her growing up problems and health issues and her weird relationship with this douchebag best friend Tommy that she owns a business with. First problem is here. Rain is made into a girl who really seems like she just got out of confinement which isn’t the case, from what I derived at least. Actually she fears confinement because of her illness at a young age. Starting the business and living in a certain way, Tommy is this guy that really cares about her but he isn’t her boyfriend or doesn’t sleep with her. Yet, he calls her “baby” after every single sentence he says. Reading Tommy’s dialogue was torture. To be fair, near the end, Tommy’s character seemed to have developed more than anyone else and was the most logical and acceptable person, in some ways. Sad to say, because Tommy is really small potatoes here.

The main issue I had with Miss Taken was the main character Rain who hated confinement so much that she was willing to strike a deal with this unknown stranger that kidnapped her by accident. She wasn’t suspicious of his past or why he wanted what he wanted as revenge. She thought that she could change his mind from a vengeful plans that he’s had all along that could hurt her family. Rain is very selfish and self-centered and yet, she keeps talking about how its wrong to be attracted to handsome and hot man in front of her that she has to fake a relationship with and pretends to put a cold front and have all these boundaries. In a quick turn of events, it turns into a toxic relationship that everyone reading should see coming a mile away. Dominick resembles kind of Christian Grey (Fifty Shades of Grey, if you don’t know). He is troubled but more aggressive. He is temperamental and possessive, and on top of that, he is manipulative. Yet, Rain, in the whatever time frame has fallen in love and just forgives and forgets like the snap of your fingers of everything that he does. When she gets mad, Dominick comes up and rips off her clothes (or whatever sexual act) to turn her on and they are all lovey-dovey and forgets the whole thing, thinking that it has changed. Sex doesn’t change anything. A hot guy doesn’t make you fall in love and forget who you are. That is what frustrates me. And it keeps happening for at least half of the novel and we never learn much from any of these developments except that Rain is so easily manipulated and really stupid. This is what I don’t agree with. Writing this makes me angry because it gives women this really horrible superficial image. What I hated the most was that Rain always talks about leaving and then Dominick has sex with her or sweet talk her in one way or another and she forgets and gives him another chance. I’m not a hard ass and I’m a huge romantic (and I’m even going to admit that I love sex as much as the next person) and I even forgive people who don’t deserve it more than they should but Miss Taken takes it to another level.

I know I ranted up there. I’m sorry about that. My point is: this is a bad portrayal and one that I can’t back because this character has no personality. She’s gone through so much in her younger days and yet, she has no personality and no values especially when Dominick is confining and restricting her more than her growing up with an illness ever was and yet, she went for this deal that turned into a real “relationship” instead of going back home and doing what is right. Why not dig deeper to see why Dominick’s history was like that, why not learn more about it. She does but only so much later. I guess, the good part of Miss Taken is that it starts off reasonably well, except for the dialogue choice. It heads in a good direction then just falls apart. Then the ending is kind of acceptable but then, its only leading up to the sequel, which I probably won’t read because I already looked at the synopsis and I kind of have an idea where its going and I’m not ready to get this worked up again.

There are ways to write novels like this. I’ve read some that are sensual and sexy to read and yet not degrading or portraying women  characters as people who just will do anything and forget all of themselves because of a hot guy that turns them on. Best example I can think of right now: King’s. Getting attracted to a hot guy and being manipulated into a situation is normal as a story, it is in the way an author approaches and builds those characters that changes the equation. Maybe for some, this could be a guilty pleasure especially since the sex scenes are done very well, unfortunately for me, it was not enjoyable for the lack of depth in the characters.

What We’ll Do For Blood (The Almost Human Series #1) by C.L. Mannarino

For some of you who are new here, I love supernatural and paranormal novels. More specifically, while the vampire genre has been wildly overused, I still remain intrigued by what else is showing up. This is where this next novel comes in. What We’ll Do For Blood is the first book in a series by C.L. Mannarino.

Before we start the review, I would like to send a huge thanks to the author for sending me the novel in exchange for an honest review!

What We’ll Do For Blood
by C.L. Mannarino

what we'll do for blood

In the sleepy town of Northam, Massachusetts, not everyone is who they seem to be. Take Scott Whitney, for example. A struggling high school senior, Scott wants nothing more than to have his much-divided, social-climbing family believe him when he comes to them with something important, no matter how often he disregards their rules. One night, Scott catches his father’s beautiful colleague, Maria, drinking his father’s blood in their office parking lot. When his father has no recollection of this event, and gets weaker the more he spends time with Maria, Scott turns to his mother and sister for help. When he realizes that Maria has captured their hearts and minds, as well, Scott has to find a way to believe in himself, and become more than anyone thought he was capable of, in order to stop her. But what will it cost him? – Goodreads

What We’ll Do For Blood is the first in the author’s series. For that, it definitely does set a decent stage to the characters and story. In particular, we learn quite a bit through his actions and decisions and thoughts about the person he is. Our main character is Scott and if not a little silly sometimes, because he lacks a bit of real life experience since he is only a high school guy, he definitely is brave. He emphasized the point that you can’t choose family no matter what happens. It never is too far-fetched in building up a scenario or a thought and that is especially with a genre like this one.

As mentioned before, vampire stories are overused. You don’t need me to tell you all the crazy ways they have been portrayed in books then adapted to movies and TV. For the most part, the vampires here stick pretty much to tradition. They feed and glamor and do what they have to to survive. They live in groups but hunt in solitude. They are ruthless and don’t eat human food and drink human beverages. I do appreciate sticking with the traditional portrayal. However, this story does also hit a lot predictable turns whether it is the choices or Maria, the vampire and adds in pieces that are just glimpses of supporting characters that are there.to serve a certain purpose only.

The aspect that saves it is that it is well-paced and well-written. Nothing beats a good reading like having a tasteful piece in front of us. What We’ll Do For Blood hits some super predictable plotlines and in the end, its really easy to see what it is setting the stage for. However, the setting itself is before modern times and I believe somewhere in the seventies perhaps. I cannot remember the time frame. It is mostly a vibe perhaps also because the characters themselves also live in a small community with even more small-minded people which makes Scott’s father’s recent promotion at his work so significant and why it becomes even harder to sidestep talking to the wrong people and even how Scott’s parents perceive what his son is doing.

Overall, What We’ll Do For Blood is a decent start as it is well-paced and well-written. While we can appreciate taking the traditional vampire route, it does have its predictable moments that do take away from it being exceptional. The extra of society ranking and community impressions and the likes add a little something extra to the story. It is an easy read and while does feature a high school main character, still will appeal to an older audience as it has some more violent descriptions but do note that this book seems to be intended for young adults (at least).