Posted in Books and Authors

Clarissa Johal + Book Reviews

So remember how I said I went a little crazy on BookBub before I got tons of free books and more than a couple samples of books on sale? And then I bought 2 full books because I liked the 2 samples I had read?

It didn’t stop there.

I liked one author so much I got samples of her other works and then ended up buying another one of hers. I stuck with the books that were on sale for 99c though so I’m not completely out of mind. Just…mostly. I don’t want to see my next Amazon bill.

 

clarissa johalI’ve recently finished 2 of Clarissa Johal‘s books – The Island and Struck.

“Clarissa Johal is the bestselling author of paranormal novels, POPPY, THE ISLAND, VOICES, STRUCK, and BETWEEN. When she’s not listening to the ghosts in her head, she’s swinging from a trapeze, or taking pictures of gargoyles. She shares her life with her husband, two daughters, and every stray animal that darkens their doorstep.”

the islandThe Island

I found The Island first and found it refreshingly simple. True, at times it was a little too simple. The ending for example. It could have been drawn out a bit more…perhaps 50-100 pages. The story wrapped up a little too quickly, as if Ms Johal wanted to hurry it along or something. I’m not the author so I can’t say why she didn’t spend more time with the end.

The ending was good, my excitement never abated. The problem was that, instead of jumping into the water, Johal took the time to slip in starting with her toes. I liked the pacing and how we only got glimpses and wonderings until the late middle. But then Emma figures everything out in a day? Such a tiny, insignificant island but there’s such a detailed history known of the tribe who lived there? The tribe was wiped out. Kaputt. Yet they left quite a detailed legend for a library to have. Legends are generally not very detailed but that one was.

There’s more to it than a library and a description but I don’t want to give spoilers. Suffice it to say that it seemed too easy and, while I reveled in the rest of the story, I couldn’t believe that part.

However, that’s my only beef with the book. The rest of it was exciting and relatable. I found my heart thumping and my adrenaline pumping at the most mundane, normal parts. No monsters, no weird occurrences – just a woman trying to figure out how to deal with a jerk and how to break news to her friend.

Johal really made her characters relatable. I especially enjoyed the blooming romance. It wasn’t a main topic and it wasn’t overdone. It just…bloomed. It was super cute.

struckStruck

Having enjoyed the previous book so much, I found another of Johal’s books and tried that one.

Struck was just as enjoyable without the disappointment of an ending that was too simple. No secluded islands this time. This story is set in the midst of San Francisco. Action starts off faster this time around but never lags the whole way through.

There was a bit of a convenient coincidence toward the end for how to defeat the baddie, but, while I raise my eyebrow at it, I’m not going to complain because it didn’t really hurry things along.

Several times I wanted to smack Gwynneth around and force her to open up to people, but her personality was solidly shown…that she’s anything but like me. I can’t keep something to myself (if it’s about myself) to save my life. I burn with the need to tell someone if I have a problem and it doesn’t let up until I’ve shared. She’s the kind of person who’d probably die before spilling the beans.

And that brings me to the one thing that I frowned upon in this book. Johal’s method of creating tension was to have Gwynneth protect her loved ones by lying to them and not tell them anything of what’s going on. While the rest of the story is original and fresh, this tactic isn’t. I’ve seen it done so often in the past and it never protects people; it just hurts them.

People always prefer to have the truth given to them, not to be lied to and pushed away for protection (in my experience). If a loved one had a choice, they would choose to stand with you and try to help you even at the cost of themselves. If they didn’t, they wouldn’t love you very much I think and you’re probably better off without them.

However, this kind of tactic does tie in with Gwynneth’s personality so I’m not going to harp on it.

My goodness these two books were so much fun for me to read! Simple yet engrossing. None of the hoity-toity smarty pants feel to it that so many established super successful authors adopt. No 500 pages of unnecessary back story and extraneous details. I don’t need to know where the demons come from or how they got into our world. I don’t need a huge deal made about sending them back or trapping them. It’s more believable for me that an average, every day person isn’t able to eradicate a demon or a monster.

So if you like horror/paranormal books like the ones I’ve reviewed, go give Clarissa Johal a look. They’re not long books – less than 300 pages. Fun and exciting to read. For me at least.

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Posted in Books and Authors, Personal

ebooks + BookBub

Wow! It feels like it’s been forever since I last posted here. Every week I thought, “I need to continue with that story.” But every week I didn’t. I’ve been preoccupied with the fitness part of my life and since I started the story for fun and told myself I wouldn’t stress over it, I…well…didn’t stress.

I’m not continuing the story right now though, nor will I very soon because I’m still thinking about Charlotte’s back story. Well, still thinking about it when I actually do think about it…which isn’t often.

Now that the fitness part of my life is calming down, I’ve gotten back into reading and when I read I reeeeeeaaaaaad. Till my eyes become as dry as raisins and fall out of my head.

The last several weeks I really wanted a Kindle Fire to read books and comics on. I won’t go through my thought process or all that happened concerning Kindles because it’s a bit long and involved (not negative, just long and involved), but the end result was that I didn’t get a Kindle. I have an iPad (game apps will be the death of my brain and free time) and I have a Kindle app on it. Long story short – I found it pretty much does the same thing as the Kindle Fire so I’m happy.

My plan is that after I move, I’ll find a used bookstore and sell the majority of my books. Those I can’t sell, I’ll donate to the library. This would be extremely difficult because I love books and I love the feel of them in my hands, except I’ve done it before. Once you’ve done the heart-wrenching parting once, it gets easier and easier each time after. Much like murder I’ve heard. Not that I want to test that though.

From now on I’ll endeavor to only buy ebooks. We have limited space after all and this won’t be the last time we’ll have to move. Have you ever had to move boxes and boxes of books over and over again?? It sucks! I swear, I have to keep fit just to survive moving book boxes! And I have more than a few 30-40lb boxes. As does my husband except his are more like 50lb boxes (hardback books for his work).

It’s about this time that I was lucky (or unlucky, however you wanna look at it) enough to stumble across Rosemary Clement-Moore’s blog post – Bargains that are bad for my budget (with a giveaway). In her post she talks about a site called BookBub.

 

bookbubI had never heard of it before but it’s free so I moseyed on over there to check it out. All I had to do was provide the genres and authors I like and the site did the rest for me. They’re a gigantic list of books that are on sale and/or FREE! They connect to different sites that sell books like Barnes & Noble’s Nook, Amazon’s Kindle, and Apple’s iBook.

Why, if I’m an Apple lover, am I switching to Kindle for books? Long and involved explanation again so I won’t go into it.

So BookBub! Only one day using it and it was already bad for my health. Based off of genres and authors I like, it instantly created a list of book sales. I never got to the end of the list and I ended up downloading close to 24 free books and 10 samples of books that are anywhere between 99 cents and $1.99.

After that I thought the best thing for me would be to stop browsing through the list and concentrate on the samples I had just downloaded. I read through 2 of the 10…and bought them both. I refuse to read the rest of the samples at this time because I see now that it’s a dangerous game I’m playing.

……

I’ll probably read them as soon as I’m done reading the 2 books I’ve bought.

These aren’t complete crap books either. Along with the book blurb on what it’s about, BookBub also gives the number of stars the books have gotten from readers on Goodreads and/or Amazon. While most had anywhere between 250-600 5-star reviews, some had over 1000 5-star reviews. Some of them have been best-sellers too.

While I’ve never heard of any of the authors I got, that doesn’t make them crap. It just means they’re no Stephen King or Janet Evanovich. So far the 2 books I ended up buying I’m really enjoying. They’re different and fresh and they’re showing me that my writing doesn’t have to be pretentious or long-winded (800 pages for a horror story?? Really??) to sell.

I know a ton of people love long works, but my attention usually drifts off elsewhere when it gets too long. I mean, how long does a horror story really have to be to scare the pants off of someone? Make it too long and I’m no longer scared (very bad when it comes to horror) AND I’m super bored (deadly for any book). About that time is when I put the book aside and you see it get stale and rot in my Goodreads’ Currently Reading list.

If you’re a book lover (and you probably are if you reading a book/writing blog), go check out BookBub. It’s definitely worth a little time and it’s free!