First Visions by H.T. Wood

First Visions (Second Sight, #1)  Book Review:  First Visions by H.T. Wood

I’m a sucker for stories about people with psychic abilities but I have a caveat.  That psychic should be otherwise normal.  The heroine in this book was perfectly normal until an accident left her with second sight.

It’s a fairly common theme for stories and one that Ms. Wood handles well.  She also does a good job of another rather common theme in novels and that’s the fact that the heroine wishes she didn’t have the gift of second sight.  And she wishes she’d shut her mouth years ago when her gift helped the police find a missing child because the publicity sent her running into hiding where she’s been ever since.  And she definitely doesn’t want to help them again when another child goes missing, even though the detective in charge of the case is a great guy she can’t help falling for.  All elements of this story ring true both in real life and in this story and they are handled in a competent manner so I enjoyed reading this book.

Whether or not I’ll read another in the series will depend on my mood at the moment.  The element of surprise is missing and sometimes I like surprises.  But surprise isn’t what this writer is aiming for so some day in the future if I’m looking for a book that I know will turn out the way I want it to, I just might choose another book by this author.

Now for the rating.  I should mention that I hate using stars to rate books.  Hate!  Hate!  Hate!  In fact I hate rating books in any way at all.  I’d much rather just tell what I think and let the reader take away from my review what they wish.  But most reviewers do give stars so I’ll so the same, with the caveat that I’ll never give only 1 or 2 stars because I don’t finish books I don’t like so there’d be nothing to review.  I’ll also almost never give 5 stars because I have really, really, really high standards.  Shakespeare would make it and a few others.  Most won’t.  So we’re talking 3 or 4 stars here for the books I read on a daily basis, a range that I suspect most readers look for, a range that provides enjoyable reads without knocking a reader’s socks off.

I’m also going to start reviewing for English usage and grammar and for typos and for lazy editing and anything else in the writing itself that has the potential to take the reader away from the story.  This rating will be separate from the rating for the book as a whole.  Don’t know exactly how this part will work but I think it should be included because some people want to pass on books that are poorly edited while others wish rating systems wouldn’t give a poor rating to a wonderful story just because of poor editing.  This rating will use the full range of 1 to 5 stars because good stories can come in all kinds of packages.

So I’m giving this book a solid 3 stars for the story and a very, very solid 4 stars for good English, grammar and typos.  It’s nice to read a book that was written by a professional author who did her homework, told a decent story and spent the time to make sure her book was edited before putting it online.

Fated by Carolyn McCray

Review of Fated by Carolyn McCray

(Sorry about the picture copied from Amazon.  I wanted to show the cover and am still working on the technical details of how to get just the cover and a buy link up.)

I must admit that I didn’t read every word.  This doesn’t mean it was too long or wordy, it just means that I often skip parts of books when I become more interested in the story line than the depth of the characters.  I liked the story because I find the period of history it is set in to be rather intriguing.

It takes place in the era when Caesar ruled Rome and Brutus was a part of the patrician elite.  It follows the love affair of Brutus and one of his slaves, Torvus.  The two were drawn to each other and fated to meet but after that they were held apart by convention and politics.  Carolyn McCray tries to be historically accurate so what happens in the novel is dictated by what happened in reality. Okay, she doesn’t succeed in that historical accuracy but she’s in the ball park and, for a fictional novel, that’s close enough for me.

I’m a former history major so that may explain why I got caught up in the story line.  Reading this book took me back to a childhood in which I learned a huge amount of history by reading the historical romances that were so popular back then.  (And, yes, I’m dating myself.)  Novels such as this were a large part of why I became that history major.  Some of that history I read while young turned out to be very inaccurate but it piqued an interest in long ago events.  The consequences of those events still resonate today because history matters and any book that encourages kids to study history deserves a big plus.  I’m glad to see someone writing today who is hopefully having the same effect on young readers as those earlier novels had on me.

Unicorn Bait by S.A.Hunter

novel Unicorn Bait

My second book review.  Unicorn Bait by S.A.Hunter.  Hey, I like fun fantasy stories!

This is such a story and the title is the most fun thing of all but I won’t tell you what the unicorn bait is because that would be a spoiler.  But I’ll say this much.  It made reading the book worth it in spite of the fact that, to me at least, the book was a little longer than necessary.  A bit wordy.  And not exactly high English but definitely readable.

It’s a familiar tale with a twist.  Modern day woman inherits a joke unicorn horn from her father that turns out to be the real thing and when she dusts it off she’s whisked away to a magical kingdom where unicorns and magic are commonplace.  Since her only wish is to return to her home and since she’s smart enough to figure out that it was the unicorn horn that got her there, she figures that she needs another one to whisk her back. The rest of the book is the search for a unicorn and a virgin (which she isn’t) to use as bait because, as everyone knows, unicorns only communicate with virgins.  And, of course, in the process she falls in love with the prince of the kingdom who starts out being nasty and ends up being nice even though he remains a little rough around the edges.  Much better than Prince Charming, to my way of thinking.

So there you have it.  I’m discovering that I actually enjoy writing reviews though I’ll never write a bad review.  If I don’t like a book (and I’ve started many books I didn’t like)  I don’t review it at all.  I just put it down without finishing it.

Progress by Amy Queau

Progress by Amy Queau

This is the first of what I hope will be many book reviews.  Not of New York’s best-sellers. Of books by both writers I know and those I don’t but like what they are saying.  Some are wonderfully written and awesome.  Others aren’t exceptional in any specific way but give the reader a good read.  So on to Progress by Amy Queau, available on Amazon:

I’m not sure what category Amy was thinking of when she wrote Progress, but it seems to me to fit nicely in the literary genre as well as in a couple of other genres, namely romance and contemporary women’s fiction.  I said literary because of the writing style and the feel of the whole thing.  I always think of fiction in terms of color and the cover Amy chose for Progress is fitting.  Gray, a color that’s is perfect for literary fiction.

There is explicit sex but it’s not your usual romance.  The end isn’t the usual HEA but it’s appropriate for the story.  Still, if you don’t like literary fiction and you do like romance, you might like this story.  The protagonist falls in love with a man she works with. Or she’s addicted to him.  The protagonist sees her affair both ways and is often unsure which it is.  Whichever it is, it starts her on a path to self improvement that eventually causes her to reevaluate her life.

If I told you more, it would be a spoiler but I will reiterate that it’s the right ending for the book. The ending separates it from many works of literary fiction… and from many romances.  I was surprised.  You might be too.