Double Book Review: The Haunted/The Hunted by Cassie Alexander

 

 

24322196

The Hunted; links to goodreads

29079839

The Haunted; links to goodreads

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Genres: erotica; BDSM (sort of) erotica; paranormal

Why I read them: I was in the mood for something kind of mindless, and found these waaaay back in my Kindle (I think I actually won these like 2-3 years ago in the Erotica group on goodreads for some game or something I’d participated in). I remembered that The Haunted was ghost/human erotica and decided it sounded perfect for the mood I was in. For The Hunted, I just decided to go ahead and knock another really old book off my TBR. (Bonus points: both counted for my #RockMyTBR challenge!)

Who I’d recommend them to: Someone who isn’t all that picky about their erotica, and especially fans of paranormal erotica.

My rating (The Haunted): ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆ (Maybe 2.75 stars)
My rating (The Hunted): ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆ (2.5 stars)

The Haunted: Goodreads | Amazon        //        The Hunted: Goodreads | Amazon


What The Haunted is about:

The first in the Sleeping with Monsters series, about strong women and the monsters they love,The Haunted is a very hot modern take on gothic ghost stories.

Daphne Vance’s life is perfect — she’s a beautiful, devoted wife, and her husband has just bought her a vast countryside estate to start their family in.

But when her husband leaves on a business trip, it doesn’t feel like she’s alone in the mansion — she can feel eyes watching her, and hot hands trailing up her thighs. The domineering spirit of the mansion’s former owner is still present — and when she discovers her husband cheating on her, she doesn’t want to resist the Master anymore….


Review:

First of all, that line about Daphne’s life being perfect is a lie. (That’s not a huge spoiler because you realize how not-perfect her life is in the first page or two.) Her husband is gone all the time, and, honestly, he’s an ass. So what’s a lonely, young, new(ish) bride to do, all alone in her gigantic new manor, while her husband is away and not home putting a baby in her? Well, allow the resident ghost, known only as “Master,” to have his kinky way with her, of course!

Ok, all joking aside, I actually loved the idea of ghost/human sexy times. I haven’t read any PNR with that concept before, so it was a new and fun twist for me to read about. And, I’ll be honest, it got pretty dang hot a couple of times.

But, despite the amusing/interesting premise of this book, I didn’t love it. Maybe because my copy is so old, it’s since been updated and edited, but my copy needed a bit of work. There were some errors, maybe some typos, and a lot of sentences that just didn’t make a lot of sense without reading them multiple times (and some that never made sense). I found misused words a few times, too.

On top of that, there were a bunch of things not explained, and this one thing near the end that was totally unnecessary and just came out of the blue. (I won’t say what that thing was here, but if you want to know, I’ll probably put it in the spoiler tag on my goodreads review.) This is erotica, and it’s short, but that doesn’t mean I’m happy with having gaping holes in the plot. I don’t really read erotica for the plot, but I want what I read to make at least some sense. If you’re going to have something like a ritual to do a thing, I want a bit more explanation than simply telling me that a ritual happened and it involved x, y, and z, without any indication of how the person who did the ritual found out about it in the first place, etc. Ugh.

I never cared much at all about any of the characters. I think I liked the…uh…Ok, I can not remember what the servant dude’s name or actual occupation was, so I’m just going to say he was a butler. (I’m not 100% sure that’s accurate, but close enough.) Anyway, I liked him alright, but everyone else I was sort of indifferent about or deeply despised. Except the one drunken guy who tried to rape someone. I hated him and wished he’d died painfully. (More on this in the goodreads review spoiler tags.) I am never a fan of books in which the wife or whatever is desperate for a baby, but continues to hang on to her deplorable husband until he impregnates her, then plans to leave him. And that was a big part of this story. And while I’m fine with spreading the love and and someone having multiple sexual partners, it got a little weird in this one (especially with the desire for a baby thrown in). Like, I was cool with her sexing it up with her husband and the ghost, but then the gardener? (And the thing from the end that I’ll talk about on goodreads.) Passss.

Aside from my complaints, which might not bother other people, I actually did kind of like this one. It was a fun, super quick read (the book is only about 175 pages, so I read it in a day), and I was curious enough to continue on with The Hunted. However, I would still hesitate to recommend it, because of my aforementioned issues with the plot and need for more edits.


What The Hunted is about:

The second in the Sleeping with Monsters series, about strong women and the monsters they love, The Hunted is a BDSM-themed werewolf thriller.

As a call girl, Samantha never hoped for a happily ever after until she met Vincent. It didn’t matter that he was a mobster, for seven years their life was perfect – then he was betrayed and brutally gunned down by other members of the family. Now she’s on the run for her life, and the only thing she has to remember Vincent by is a silver locket with the phone number of a stranger folded inside.

Max is a queer mountain man — and a werewolf. For seven years he’s been living off the grid in exile after his pack threatened his then-boyfriend Vincent’s life. But when Vincent’s dying wishes send the beautiful Samantha to him for protection from the family, he knows what he has to do – honor his dead alpha’s wishes and keep her safe, no matter what.

In her grief, Samantha’s willing to do anything to get revenge, which Max tries to talk her out of – until he realizes his old pack was complicit in Vincent’s death. Then he’s as eager as she is — but they only have each other against the pack.

Is she strong enough to mate with him? And if she is, is he strong enough to kill them all?


Review:

I’m going to go ahead and say that I liked this less than The Haunted, and I’m considering lowering my star rating to 2/5 instead of rounding the 2.5 up to 3 stars.

This one has a bunch of time jumps and perspective shifts that took me over half the book to get used to, and I didn’t like the way it was written. I’m not a huge fan of multi-POV, even when it’s only two, anyway, but this one was really frustrating because it literally just repeated exactly what I’d just read from the other person’s POV, with an additional sentence or two added of their reaction or whatever. I ended up skimming over those after a few of them because it was boring for me to re-read the same thing again.

I didn’t really care much at all about any of the characters in this one, either. I’ll also say that the premise for this one was more boring for me, because I’ve read some shifter erotica and PNR before, so the whole, “Ermahgerd, she’s my mate! Must mount and claim! No, wait, she’s human, ugh, what to do? What to do?!” thing isn’t new for me and I kind of dislike it. A lot. Even when the “mate” is totally on board.

This one also suffered from not explaining things that were very important to the plot, apparently, like the werewolf knot thing. What the hell was it? More descriptive terms, please. Draw me a verbal diagram because what I imagined was probably not the thing the author envisioned, and seemed not only painful but kind of gross.

I don’t even know what to say about the whole, “My long-term boyfriend whom I loved deeply just died, but that’s ok, I can totally mate with his ex two days later!” thing that was going on in this book. It’s like insta-love on a whole new level, but also with insta-sex.

Speaking of the sex… What went down in The Haunted was way hotter, in my opinion, than this one. I’m fine with people using sex like a drug to escape for a while, but it was kind of boring in this one.

And I didn’t really like the “wolf thoughts” in this book. I’ve read some other shifter/were erotica and PNR that let us into the mind of the wolf side of the character, but this one creeped me out and had me rolling my eyes a lot. Not a fan.

 

Ok, I’ve decided that I am going to lower my rating for this one to 2/5 stars. The more I think about it, the less I liked it. I wouldn’t recommend this one. It just had too much going on, needed more editing, and kind of bored me.

Advertisements

Book Review: Burntown by Jennifer McMahon

 

Genres: mystery/thriller/suspense; a little horror; a touch of paranormal

 

Why I read it: I really liked The Winter People, so when I saw Jennifer McMahon’s newest book on NetGalley, I had to request it, and was lucky enough to be approved for an e-ARC.

Who I’d recommend it to: Fans of her other books. People who like mysteries, etc., and magical realism.

Publication date: April 25th, 2017
Publisher: Doubleday
Pages: 304 ebook | 336 hardcover

My rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ (3.5 stars)

 

 

Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository | Barnes & Noble


What it’s about:

Eva grew up watching her father, Miles, invent strange and wonderful things in the small workshop behind their house on the river that runs through their old mill town. But the most important invention of all was the one that Miles claimed came from the mind of Thomas Edison himself–a machine that allowed one to speak with loved ones long passed. Smuggled out of Edison’s laboratory, the blueprints were passed down to Miles, and he’s been using them to protect Eva, her mother, Lily, and her brother, Errol, ever since.

Then, one night when a storm is raging and the river is threatening to flood, the machine whirrs to life on its own. Danger, it says. You’re in terrible danger. The next thing Eva knows is waking up on the side of the river and seeing her mother’s grim face. Eva’s father and brother are dead, their house has been washed away and an evil man is searching for them both. They need to hide.

Eva changes her name to Necco–a candy she always loved–and tries to put everything in her past behind her as she adapts to her new life off the grid. But when her boyfriend is murdered and her mother disappears, she knows that the past is starting to catch up to her.

What really happened the night of the flood? As Necco searches for the truth, her journey unites her with two women who are on desperate quests of their own. And as the trio follows the clues to solving the mystery of Necco’s past, they discover that sometimes it’s the smallest towns that hold the strangest secrets.


Review:

I’m going to start with the bad/what I didn’t like about this book

 

There wasn’t much, honestly. I did have an e-ARC, so it’s possible that my complaints were addressed before publication (I haven’t had a chance to check a finished copy).

First, I think I’m going to stick with listening to Jennifer McMahon’s books, instead of reading them, from now on. I think her writing style is wonderfully suited for audiobooks, because it really paints a picture of exactly what’s going on. However, that’s not something I’m a huge fan of, generally, while reading. It’s a “telling, not showing” kind of thing, I think. I actually don’t mind some telling, but it was a little much in this book, and some of the descriptions of things went on a bit longer than I would have liked. This is a very small complaint and it’s probably just me being too nitpicky.

My biggest complaint was actually in the last few pages of the book. There was a slur (“It sounded like g***y music…”), which I find in books all the time. It annoys me, but I let it slide with older books. But these days, there’s not much of an excuse for that kind of thing to slip by because 99% of the time there are definitely other words that can be used to describe something. I won’t try to really explain in depth why it’s a slur, because I don’t want to speak for anyone, but here’s a very brief article on it to get you started, and a quick google search can show you more. Basically, no, it does not mean you’re “free-spirited,” or anything like that.

I am not a big fan of multiple points-of-view, and this book has them. It wasn’t bad, but it did slightly irritate me. That’s totally a personal preference thing, though, so if you don’t mind them in general, you’ll probably be fine with the way they’re handled in this book.

 

Now, on to what I did like, characters, etc.

 

The story of the machine was really interesting, and (I think) actually based a bit on fact. I haven’t dug into this to check out facts, but I’m pretty sure that Edison really did have plans and a possible patent to create a device that would–if successful–allow the living to contact their dearly departed. Unfortunately, it wasn’t a big feature in the book, even though pretty much the entire plot centered around it. Still, it was very cool to read about when it was mentioned.

The way the past and present and various character connections were woven together was interesting enough to keep me reading almost non-stop after about the halfway point. (It did take me a little while to really get into the story, but I think that was just my mood.) I’ll admit that I actually had everything worked out before the big reveals of all the twists, but I was fine with that and it didn’t detract from my enjoyment of the book.

I felt for Necco and Theo so much, and I liked both of them a lot. I think I might have enjoyed the multi-POV more if it had been just the two of them. Necco was such a strong young woman, and my heart kept breaking for her. And Theo, oh gosh. I related a little too much to her a few times, and my heart broke for her, too. I’m not exactly sure how realistic all of their actions and reactions were to the things going on, but it was at least mostly believable, I think. If a sequel to this ever came out, and Necco and Theo were in it, I would definitely read it to find out more about how their lives are after the end of this book.

Pru…well, I’m honestly not sure what to say about her. I feel like she was more and less fleshed out than Necco and Theo (I’m not sure if that makes sense, sorry), and I didn’t really end up caring much about her. I felt bad for her, and I was a little proud of some of her actions. She just wasn’t my favorite. But, the circus stuff was cool, and I‘m hoping she found a happy ending because I have nothing against her, I just never loved her.

The Fire Eaters were pretty great. I loved them and I would read a book just about them. I kind of wish we’d learned more than we did, but I’m also happy with most of their story remaining a mystery.

The personal mythology that’s going on in this book is fascinating, in my opinion. The way facts and lies and twisted truths are intertwined was really well done and kept me wanting more. The stories people told others and themselves, the lives they invented, etc. It was all really good, and made me think about my own and those of other people.

 

And now the things I didn’t love or hate, but still want to talk about

 

I won’t say much about the other characters so I don’t spoil anything, but I wish we’d learned more about the villain.

I still want to know the real, whole story about the elephant. I can make assumptions, but I want to know for sure.

There’s also something that wasn’t fully settled (for me, at least) that I’m really curious about concerning Necco, and Matthew’s family. Actually, there are a few things that weren’t talked about by the end that I wish had been, but I guess they’re not super important to the plot. There were just some loose ends I would have liked seeing tied up. I can’t say more without possibly mentioning spoilers, ugh. (I have a few of my questions in the spoiler tags on my goodreads review.)

Would I recommend it? Probably. I didn’t love this one, but I don’t feel like I wasted my time reading it, and I mostly enjoyed it. It just didn’t wow me as much as I’d hoped it would.


If you’ve read it, what did you think of it? Are you planning to read it, if you haven’t yet?

Must Read Monday: May 01

must-read-mondays

Must Read Monday is a weekly thing I do here to recommend books I’ve read and enjoyed. I might sometimes throw in something I gave 3 stars to, but for the most part they’re books I gave a 4-5 star rating to. That doesn’t mean they’re necessarily amazing literature, but it does mean I liked them enough to recommend them to other people.

 

twp The Winter People by Jennifer McMahon

 

When I read it: January 2017

Genres: horror; mystery/thriller; paranormal

Recommended for: Fans of ghost stories and the kind of horror that slowly builds a creep factor. Think M.R. James’s ghost stories, or movies like Insidious, Dead Silence, Oculus, etc.

 

Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository | Barnes & Noble


What it’s about:

West Hall, Vermont, has always been a town of strange disappearances and old legends. The most mysterious is that of Sara Harrison Shea, who, in 1908, was found dead in the field behind her house just months after the tragic death of her daughter, Gertie. Now, in present day, nineteen-year-old Ruthie lives in Sara’s farmhouse with her mother, Alice, and her younger sister, Fawn. Alice has always insisted that they live off the grid, a decision that suddenly proves perilous when Ruthie wakes up one morning to find that Alice has vanished without a trace. Searching for clues, she is startled to find a copy of Sara Harrison Shea’s diary hidden beneath the floorboards of her mother’s bedroom. As Ruthie gets sucked deeper into the mystery of Sara’s fate, she discovers that she’s not the only person who’s desperately looking for someone that they’ve lost. But she may be the only one who can stop history from repeating itself.


I listened to the audiobook of this because the waiting list from the library was shorter, but I think that added to the experience of this book. It had a nice mystery mixed in with the horror, and an interesting twist. I felt so creeped out, like I was being watched, the entire time I was listening to it. If you’re a fan of that sort of thing, I definitely recommend the audiobook with headphones (bonus points for listening to it in the dark while you’re trying to sleep haha :P…not that I did that…ok, yeah, I totally did and it was great).

I’m a huge fan of horror movies, having been raised on them, and I’m honestly a little jaded now. It takes a lot for a horror movie to scare me, and I can count on one hand the number of books that have done the job. This one made the list, and I might actually invest in the audiobook even though I never buy audiobooks. It was that good.

I gave it 4-4.5/5 stars, and you can check out my review here if you want to know more about what I thought of it.


Have you read The Winter People, or any of Jennifer McMahon’s other books? If you have, what did you think?