A MelanieM Review:For The Win (#lovehim #2.5) by S.M. James

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Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

He’s been stood up.

It stings more than it should, considering it wasn’t actually a date. But being stranded at a holiday party alone, is one of the most terrifying things Brooks can imagine.

Then he meets the larger than life Darien. He’s cool, fun, and saves Brooks from a night of lurking awkwardly in the corner.

But before Darien can get too flirty, Brooks lays down the law. They’re hanging out as friends. Just friends.

Because Brooks doesn’t date. Ever.

Even though Darien is gorgeous.

Even though he sees through Brooks’s bullshit.

Even though everything about him screams ‘take a chance’.

Brooks made his choice.

This isn’t a date.

Well, if you’ve been following my reviews of this incredible YA series, then you know that, unfortunately as is my wont, I did not read them in the order they were written.  Bad me.  Mea Culpa.  Because they are so much better that way.  If (insert duoh here) you read them as the author clearly intended,  you pick up on the nuances of each characters back history, their slow to develop relationship with the person they are meant to be with, as well as some of the other personalities that appear throughout the series and in their own stories. More on that below.

But I fell into the #lovehim series by way of that incredibly emotional story In Case You Missed It (#lovehim #3).  That would be the one that first introduced me to this author, series, and proceeded to put my heart through an entire gamut of emotions from heartbreak to hope while making me fall deeply in love with these characters and world the author was building.

For The Win (#lovehim #2.5) by S.M. James is a “beginning” story, the how they meet section of one of the main couples in the series.  It just so happens to be the story I should have read prior to In Case You MIssed It because all the clues, all the “damnit, really” indications are flowing here.  But so are the beautiful writing and relationship dynamics that occur between Brooks and Darien as they meet for the first time.  The dialog, the glances, it’s everything.

I think I might have mumbled something about the author giving enough information that you could read the other story as a stand alone.  After reading this, I was an idiot.  Don’t do that.  For The Win is the foundation that In Case You Missed It needs.  Just as I have come to realize that this is a pattern the author uses with her other couples.  We get a glimpse into their past lives and first meet or section taken from their relationship.  Then we get a story that will fast forward it to a “present day” to see where that relationship stands and how the young men are doing in their lives. And, folded in among the real life relationship drama of the current main couple, we get an idea of what our other couples are doing as well.

What can I say?  I love this series and characters!  It’s realistic in its situations, the characters have depth and remain true to their age and histories.  Where needed, and yes, it’s really needed with some of the people here, the author has done the research to make everything feel authentic and believable.  So easy to fall in love with all of them and I did.

I have listed all the stories below.  Only a couple left to review before I’m out and waiting for the May release.  I don’t think I want to be deprived of this series even for a month’s time.   So yes, I highly recommend this story and series.  Please start with the first one and work your way through.  It’s the only way to go.

I will be waiting for the next story to release!

Cover art:  Story Styling Cover Designs.   Cute, and the  tone, style fits and brands the series.

Sales Link: Amazon

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 40 pages
Published November 28th 2018 by May Books
ASINB07HFVVJSG
Series #lovehim #2.5

Series #lovehim

That Feeling When (Archie and Landon)

No Big Deal
To Be Continued(3,5) Digi and Gram
In Real Life(4.5)  Archie and Landon  coming soon, hopefully.

A MelanieM Review: Panther Queen (Morrighan House Witches #3) by Amir Lane

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Rating: 2.75 stars out of 5

 

“That’s panther queen to you.”

When cattle rancher Lenna Alvarez rescues a black jaguar, she discovers there’s more to the animal than meets the eye. Bonding with a centuries-old Aztec Warrior wasn’t part of her plans. Then again, neither was simultaneously facing off against an American businessman and poachers encroaching on her family lands.
With her newfound powers, Lenna is sure the poachers don’t stand a chance. Only, Lenna isn’t the only one bringing strange animal powers to the game. The poachers have them too, led by businessman Ansen Peters. Lenna is in over her head, and not even the jaguar can save her.

Ansen Peters doesn’t want the ranch. He wants the jaguar. And he’s willing to kill her for it.

How to review Panther Queen (Morrighan House Witches #3) by Amir Lane?  Ok, let’s compare it to the experience of going out to dinner at a well known restaurant.  They are a fine dining establishment with an elevated cuisine due to their chef and their menu.  You ask for the chef’s special’s and then the courses start to arrive.  Starting with the first course, you are amazed!  It’s a 5 star feast for the literary senses.

Author Amir Lane takes the reader into Brazil’s Pantanal, a little known but enormous and ecologically rich wetland the size of Washington State,  We’re dropped immediately into the life of Lenna and her family’s struggling ranch, we feel the heat, hear the calls of the wildlife all around us, feel the eyes of the caimans lurking just above the waterline…and we’re there.  We’re feasting on the delicious storyline of strong characters in a loving family under threat in a wild environment also perpetually under threat itself.  It’s a narrative meal you can’t resist!  And won’t!

The power, the joy. the sheer vibrancy of the majority of this novel is incredible.  There you are, eating a remarkable rich and delicious eight course meal.  And for six or  seven courses you’re treated to a aromatic banquet of layered flavors….adventure, Mayan religion and mythology, suspense, and high action mixed with familial love and the power of the land. Oh my.
Then comes the seventh and eighth courses.

And it appears that a change has happened in the kitchen and a new chef has taken over because otherwise I can’t account for the utter lack of energy or color or  lack of connection to anything that went before or just plain  no substance at all. What a debacle!  It’s as if the head chef said, “hey, not feeling how to finish up the rest of the meal, so I’m leaving, ciao”.  The owners, in a panic took some hapless stranger off the street to finish remaining dishes and dinner saying this was the plan now carry on.  Smh! Inset every astonished, gobsmacked emoji you can think of here!  Because what happens to this story next is unthinkable.  You  wouldn’t even recognize it as being anywhere near the same novel if I had scattered all the pages like a puzzle and asked you to piece them together again.

I’m going my reasons under one spoiler section for those that are interested because, again, irritated beyond belief that anyone does that to their own story.    If you don’t have an ending, Well, then….You don’t rush to publish you wait until you have the ending the book and your characters deserve.  But you don’t tack on a colorless, lifeless, absurd, and frankly, meaningless ending as was done here.    You had a 5 stars book that ended at a 2.   I could cry at the loss of promise here.

So here’s some spoilers for those that  are interested:

Anyhow to finish with my metaphor.  Here we are at the table and the check comes. We leave a tip.  Not the waiter’s fault.  But ask to  speak to the manager or owner.  We  politely explain that we lost ourselves in the lushness and variety of the majority of the dinner.  It exceeded our expectations.  But all was lost at the end when the final dishes destroyed our taste buds and made us forget exactly why we thought everything before was so wonderful.  Instead we are leaving disappointed and rather sad.  And won’t be returning.

Sorry about that.

 

Cover by Combs.  Great cover. Love all the elements and the color combination.

Sales Links:  Amazon

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 198 pages
Published October 17th 2018
ASINB07JJXZ1HY
Edition Language English
Series Morrighan House Witches #3

Rise

Shadow Maker

Bad Omen

Panther Queen

A MelanieM Review: The Werewolf on Lowre Few Lane by Bryce Bentley-Tales

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Rating: 4 .5 stars out of 5

 

Thirteen-year-old Colton and his best friend Jade spend their free time investigating a local urban legend concerning an old abandoned house in their hometown in Ireland. The run-down building is said to be haunted and some of the things they’ve seen seem to confirm it.

Colton has a crush on foreign-exchange student, Dylan, who is visiting his aunt from America. But Dylan isn’t your average American kid, and soon Colton and his friends are embroiled in more than urban legend and must find a way to save everything they know and love.

If you’re a lover of those wonderful fantasy adventures that mixed youth, growing up with both the familiar and the unknown, where wardrobes turned into doors into scary, fabulous alternate worlds and a path that the heroes took on a fated journey?  Well, here’s a tale for you! The Werewolf on Lowre Few Lane by Bryce Bentley-Tales, the first story by this author, brings together an unlikely group of 13 and 14 year olds in a small town in Ireland. We  meet the first two misfits out where clearly they have no business being, spying on the local haunted house and getting thoroughly creeped out in the process when it starts to show evidence that perhaps things aren’t as normal there as they should be.

It’s Colton, half Irish half Asian with a mother from Singapore and a dad from Ireland, and one of his best friends Jade, a wonderfully brash,intelligent girl who’s a great match for the curious Colton, although their first attempts at being low key are both spot on for their age and laughingly normal.  Thomas of the bright red hair, and surprising depths and sweet Erin come a little later.  It’s on one dark night when they are out investigating that they meet Dylan, the American foreign exchange student staying with his Aunt who lives locally.just as

Ah, how the author has all the threads needed to start weaving a marvelous supernatural fantasy tapestry!  And he does!  What an adventure! From a pack of white wolves menacing the village and local boys gone missing to Colton needing to figure out issues within himself,  low self worth and insecurity to a group that shows realistic, heartwarming amounts of  individual growth while on an epic journey!  And yes, it’s also about family and love and what that truly means to each and every preteen and grownup involved here.

One element I absolutely appreciated?  That fact that both Colton’s and Dylan’s homosexualtiy wasn’t treated as a huge deal.  Of course, they do have much large things to face throughout most of the story, that feeling comfortable with who they are becomes much easier for all of them in the end.  Perspective and all.

Was the story perfect?  No.  I needed more worldbuilding and backhistory for Dylan and his side of the family.  I definitely needed more on Weredome. More, much more books and adventures there, please!  Just the tiny glimpses we got was enough to want to go sledding through the lands on romps wild and free with the folk there.  So I’m hoping the author has more planned for this merry  troop and that house on Lowre Few Lane.   One book clearly is not enough.

The Werewolf on Lowre Few Lane by Bryce Bentley-Tales is well written, full of endearing, believable characters on quests and into adventures that keep you glued to Kindle or whatever you happen to be reading the story on.  I loved it.

I definitely recommend this story for all lovers of YA  novels and fantasy/supernatural novels. Or just lovers of fantasy fiction who are young at heart.

Cover art: Natasha Snow.   I liked parts of this cover, especially where we seem to be looking through a doorway out into a snowy world.  I think maybe it’s the font giving me issues.

Sales Links:  NineStar Press | Amazon

ebook
Expected publication: October 29th 2018 by NineStar Press (first published July 9th 2018)
ISBN139781949340075
Edition LanguageEnglish

A MelanieM Review: The Dragon of Ynys by Minerva Cerridwen

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

 

Every time something goes missing from the village, Sir Violet makes his way to the dragon’s cave and negotiates the item’s return. It’s annoying, but at least the dragon is polite.

But when the dragon steals a person, that’s a step too far. As Sir Violet ventures out to get the missing baker back, however, he quickly realizes things are not at all what they seem..

Ever read a story that made your heart smile? That left you feeling warm, happy, and with an urge to read it out loud to someone?  Children, adults?  Just because you wanted to spread the joy a special tale had given you?  Well, The Dragon of Ynys by Minerva Cerridwen  is that story.

After I finished it, I wanted to grab onto the author and publishers and beg them to put it out in a hardback version, complete with illustrations.  One I could pick up and read to groups of children, no matter the age or even adults for that matter.

This book is charming, adventurous, and brings out the best in it’s characters.  Perhaps in its readers as well because it speaks to the heart in a gentle, kind, and  humorous way.  It has a dragon that steals things because it’s lonely and wants companionship. And just maybe  because certain things strike it as pretty or downright hilarious.  It has a knight named Sir Violet who’s nature is gentle and home loving.  And a village that suits them both.  I mean really, it’s full of characters who are absolutely a delight to spend time with (as you will) and whose lives will pique your interest (oh yes, they do).

I can’t remember reading any novelette I loved more recently.

I need to find more stories by this author.  This story is beautifully written, concise, and yet it flows just as it should.  The characterizations are perfect for the story.  Would I mind a return?  No.  Do I need one? No.  I think its marvelous as it.

Do you love fantasy?  Here’s a jewel you shouldn’t miss out on.  There is a romance but not the one you might be thinking of. Definitely no sex.  I told you I would read this to children.  There is a F/F couple, a dragon and knight to die for and so much more.  I highly recommend  The Dragon of Ynys by Minerva Cerridwen.  

Cover art:  Kirby Crow.  I love it.  It’s perfect really for the tone of the story.

Sales Links:  Less Than Three Press | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 94 pages
Expected publication: May 16th 2018 by Less Than Three Press
ISBN139781684312863
Edition LanguageEnglish