Welcome to The Knight Stalker; a blog where PNR Author Shelbie Knight chats about what she loves most - reading and writing!

Do you have a specific Author that you would like to see featured, or a book you would like Shelbie to review? Or possibly you would like to hear occasional updates on Shelbie's own personal journey on the road to publishing? Feel free to email any requests - it's all fair game!

On these pages, Knight rules and brings to life the sexy supernaturals from your wildest imagination!

June 16, 2015

Gerard Cosmetics Goes "Kaboom!" in response to You Tuber

Many of you who follow social media may have heard about the video that sparked off a firestorm regarding Gerard Cosmetics. If you have not, read on and I will fill in the pieces for you as we go.

First off, I would like to state that I have no direct association with Gerard Cosmetics, or any of their acting Officers, past or present, MannyMUA or Karina Kaboom. My association with the beauty industry is strictly a personal one; our daughter is a budding makeup artist, determined to train and build a career with our support. I have spent countless hours and thousands of dollars on all things beauty, as well as watching thousands of hours of You Tube review/tutorial videos with her. That is where my association begins and ends. The opinions I voice are my own; I am not sponsored, endorsed, nor am I under any contractual obligation. Satisfied, Karina?

After witnessing the beauty side of social media go ape-shit, I decided I had to look into this further. In the end, there was no choice and no denying - the Author in me had to write.

The basics: Gerard Cosmetics was originally the creator of Whitening Lightning and, after its success, decided to expand to a line of cosmetics that were targeted to the needs and desires of the women (and men) who use them. They produce cosmetics in the mid-range price point. 

The company, realizing the power of social media, works in tandem with You Tube Beauty Bloggers, providing products for their use and review on their You Tube channels. With the power of the blogger and, more so, the video blogger, this has become a common practice in just about any product-driven industry that exists; cosmetics only leading the way.

Apparently, Beauty Blogger, Karina Kaboom, purchased two of their products and didn't care for them, to say it mildly. In her video, she uses oh so helpful terms such as "shit," "way over-priced" (and more). In reference to the price, she repeatedly asks the viewer, "who do they think they are?," comparing them to MAC, as a microscope would to a bug. 

Of mention: Karina Kaboom states that she paid Twenty Dollars for the Matte Lipstick and Twenty-Four Dollars for the LipGloss. Honestly, as a potential customer, I have closely examined Gerard Cosmetics prices many times over and have no idea why she would pay that much. That may be the individual product's retail price, but if you visit Gerard Cosmetics web page with any regularity, you will see that they are always offering products on special, frequently combining items at a much discounted price. Why anyone would pay MORE for the same product available to the rest of us at a much lower price is only one of the questions to be taken into regard when considering the motivations behind her "review."

As I am sure Karina expected, her video circulated and was eventually viewed by Gerard Cosmetics' Owner and CEO, Jennifer Gerard and friend, You Tube Beauty Blogger, MannyMUA. Manny recorded and, unfortunately, posted a brief Snap Chat, where the two can be heard voicing their (brief) irritation over Karina's comments (attacks) and, apparently, referring to her appearance in a negative manner, which I was unable to hear, even with her dutiful demonstration (see below). 

Note: In the follow-up video posted by Karina, she claims that you need to wear ear plugs to hear this comment and, for those of us who do not understand the English language well, she lifts a pair for our viewing reference.

And so it began...

After watching the original You Tube video, I can see why Jennifer Gerard was upset - had I been in the same situation, I would have, as well. That would be a Hell-to-the-Yes!

When I watch Beauty Bloggers, I expect their honest opinion to be delivered in a clear, unbiased format, explaining their experience with the product(s) and the pros and, if any, cons. I expect to hear why they would, or would not, purchase the product. I expect to hear their opinion on the value and effectiveness of the product; can it back up any claims the manufacturer may have made? I want details about the product and the reviewers experience in wearing the product. Period.

What I DO NOT expect is to sit and listen to a rant - and this was, without a doubt, a rant - about how horrible and overpriced the product is and, worse, to listen to unfounded and unproven accusations against the company itself. It is unethical and, in my opinion, a direct attack against both Gerard Cosmetics and Jennifer Gerard, herself - and her financial investment. 

That, my friends, is stepping so far over the line that you've abolished the damn thing.

Additionally, even if it is true that Beauty Bloggers are required to sign a contract stating that they will give a positive review if they are to work with Gerard Cosmetics, they ARE the ones signing it, are they not? That I am aware of, Gerard Cosmetics,  is not forcing Beauty Bloggers to sign contracts with them. I have a hard time believing that this is not a common practice in the beauty industry, besides. After all, what company in their right mind wants to pay sponsorship fees for someone to trash their products? It's goes against all basic common sense. It may not be spoken of, for obvious reasons, but I believe it's more of a common practice than we are led to believe.

In addition to the accusations made against Gerard Cosmetics and Jennifer Gerard, what really bothered me about Karina Kaboom's rant was, rather than give her constructive opinions of the products, she outright called the products "shit" and "total crap" repeatedly

Now, I don't know about you, but if I put my heart and soul into creating something - which, as an Author myself, I do it on a daily basis - and then someone, using a public forum, came straight-out and called it shit... Well, I think I would be offended and have a few things to say, as well. Adding further insult, calling into question my ethics? Yeah. Not. Going. To. Happen. EVER. 

As far as I am concerned, this woman took out a big can of red paint and craggily-ass brush and painted a nice big target square in the middle of her chest. And I think she did it with intent - for publicity.

In closely examining her comments, I noticed that she made several uneducated comments about the products, talking about them as if they are the anti-Christ. As an example: The matte lipstick was so drying on her lips and the color changed from its original appearance in the tube to when she applied it, etc.  

And this is where she lost me completely. 

In order to refer to herself as an experienced Beauty Blogger, Karina would have, at a minimum,  some of the following: Experience working with the medium, educated in the products, their use and design, familiar with other products in the category, standard price point information, etc. Had she been experienced, the remarks she made would have never crossed her lips, among many. Therefor, by her own remarks, she is rendered lacking. Period. 

Basic facts Karina should know: Matte lipsticks are, as a whole, drying on the lips. This is the biggest complaint that is heard from customers regarding matte lipsticks, so why the hell she attempted to use this as a negative is beyond me. 

Since (she) had a tendency to compare Gerard Cosmetics to MAC so many times, I will use MAC's own matte lipstick as an example...

MAC's original matte lipstick formulation was considered, by customers, to be too drying; they also complained that they disliked the"tugging" on the lips during application. So, listening to their customers, MAC reformulated their matte lipsticks. The newly formulated matte ipsticks were received with wide applaud as being easier to apply and not AS drying to the lips. Notice I stress the word AS. Still, the story continues... There were customers whom didn't mind the extreme drying of the original mattes, some actually liking it, or the tugging and they missed the colors of the original mattes, begging MAC to bring them back - Hello Retro Mattes! 

Simply put, there is no matte lipstick (that I know of) that will not feel drying to the lips - it's simply a matter of degrees and what is tolerable to the person wearing it - as the very nature of matte lipstick (high-pigmented + long-wearing = low moisture). Mattes formulation has been altered to remove the moisturizing ingredients, among several things, therefor increasing the products longevity. 

Based on the facts of the product, her complaint holds no merit. If Karina is an experienced Beauty Blogger, using many different products (including matte lipsticks), then she should know the feel of them by now. She should know the affect that they have on the lips - drying. She should learn two words that any matte wearer learns - lip balm. But she shouldn't be reviewing, no, criticizing, products that she clearly has no knowledge of. As I said, I am not a Beauty Blogger, but I know.

On to the next rant... 

Karina also complained that the color of the lipstick changed once she applied it, looking different from what it appeared when in the tube. 

For real? Need I even go into detail on this one? Well, since she was naive enough to make this a complaint, I have no choice...

In this case, Karina had purchased and was reviewing the lipstick '1995' created in tandem with Jaclyn Hill for Gerard Cosmetics. The description of this color states, "Get inspired by the neutral nudes of the 90s with Jaclyn Hill's signature lipstick, 1995. Inspired by the 90s grunge revival and the beauty trends of an unforgettable decade, this iconic creation is a matte but creamy lip color that isn't trendy but a timeless expression of glam."

In Karina's review, she stated that, 'In the tube, the lipstick appeared to have a pinky-brown color, but when (she) applied it, especially after several coats, (which she demonstrates by swatching on her hand), the color turned solid brown'. 

Seriously? It's like watching another Dumb and Dumber. If you didn't already believe that this woman had very little knowledge of the products she was reviewing, this should seal the deal for you.

First off, anyone who wears lipstick knows that just because a color looks one way in the tube, or is described as a particular shade, does NOT mean that it will appear the same once on your skin. Period. Need I say, Duh?

Not only can the color change, depending on the tone and hue of your skin in combination with the pigments (and even the clothes you are wearing and the color of your hair), it's an almost given that it will. Additionally, to add more layers will darken ANY lipstick, no matter its formulation!

I literally could go on and on about this video... I honestly can't even believe their are people upset on Karina's behalf. She spouted falsehoods, accusations and more, yet is surprised when there's a response? I don't think so. I think she's orchestrated the whole thing - for attention. Even more, after looking at her channel and her video history, I think she leans towards the negative. I mean, seriously, who records videos on who to UN-follow? 

Unfortunately, the video that should have been cataloged far away instead had a finger pointed right at it by the posting of the Snap Chat, where we hear MannyMUA and Jennifer Gerard making a few comments about Karina Kaboom. Manny, for real? What were you thinking? There are some things, sweetie, that just need to stay private. But, ALL of us have done something, spur of the moment, that we later came to regret. I know you have a good heart and that there was no malicious intent on your part.

Was Gerard's response entirely appropriate? Not necessarily. But, the questions is, what was that wrong about it? Did Jennifer Gerrard and MannyMUA have a right to their reactions to Karina Kaboom's video? Damn straight. She, her products and her business practices were attacked and her friend was there, defending her as friends do. It wasn't necessarily their views that were wrong; rather, it was the public airing of them. Lesson learned. I would have been beyond angry, as well. As I said earlier, it's one thing to make your opinion of a product known to the public, to conduct a fair and reasonable review - but this was not any of those things. This was a straight-out attack against Jennifer Gerard and Gerard Cosmetics. 

Also, as you watch the video, please take note of Karina's voice; you will hear the volume increasing throughout the video, as her agitation grows and her tone becomes clipped and severe. 

Several times in the video, she mentions (Vanessa), another You Tube Beauty Blogger, gushing about how much she trusts her and how (she) went against Gerard Cosmetics by refusing to sign their contract, enforcing the positive reviews clause in exchange for free products. On and on it went, ad-friggen' nausea. At one point, I couldn't remember if I was watching a gushing about Vanessa's channel, an ad for MAC Cosmetics, or a hit on Gerrard Cosmetics. Can anyone say dis-com-bob-u-lated?

All of this combined should give you something to ponder as you consider the validity of her review...and her motivations behind it. People rarely get that emotional unless it's personal to them. In some way they feel they have been discarded, wronged, etc. and, in response, they go on the attack. After watching Karina's video, I have little doubt that this is personal.

Here's a little foundation-laying...

On You Tube, conduct a random search for a Beauty Blogger. Then, after opening their profile, select any review video and watch it. Repeat. And again. 

I would be willing to venture that you could watch fifty, maybe a hundred or more, You Tube videos and in NOT ONE will you hear the Beauty Blogger call the product "shit" or "crap." Not. One. Nor will you hear them attack the company, or it's founder(s). Ever.

I've watched thousands of these You Tube videos with my daughter over the years and, trust me, NOT ONCE have I ever heard a Beauty Blogger refer to products as such, let alone taking the review further, leveling accusations against the company and it's Owner, as a whole. Hell, even the Lime Crime debacle rarely generated that kind of emotion - and that involved people's money!

To add more even more proof to this puddin', after the Snap Chat was released, Karina Kaboom recorded a follow-up video on her channel, titling it, "Re: Owner of Gerard Cosmetics Calls me Ugly!" where she continues her rant against Gerard Cosmetics and Jennifer Gerard.

Well, you know what Karina Kaboom? I will call you ugly, and I am not referring to your appearance, rather your attitude way out ways your appearance! KA-BOOM! And listening to you then turn your rant on to your fellow Beauty Bloggers (i.e. Jaclyn Hill and others) who have (or not) worked with Gerard Cosmetics, set my ears to burning as you continued your tirade against the company and its ethics. You not only obliterated the damn line, you drew a new one...right into legal territories. 

Remember this... Freedom of speech only protects you so far. When you are leveling accusations against a company that, if proven, negatively affect peoples opinions of said company, their desire to conduct business with them and therefor their finances or their place in the industry, you wouldn't have the money to buy a handkerchief to cover that squawking hole you call a mouth.

I wonder...is it good old jealousy that has a hold of you? Are you upset that you are not one of the "many" Beauty Bloggers who have been offered a partnership with Gerard Cosmetics? Trying, unsuccessfully I might add, to turn viewers against those Bloggers who make just a SMALL pittance of the sales generated by those using their codes? It is just plain WRONG! They have a right to make money and to build a business just as the rest of us do. If they are featuring products on their channel that, as a result, cause the company financial benefit, why should they not see a small slice of that? THAT is what makes a successful Blogger - one that reaches the public AND makes money.

Possibly, if you were functioning more as a traditional Beauty Blogger does, rather than holding yourself above them all, and you worried less about what Gerard Cosmetics was doing and with whom, you would be working towards your own success, building something for yourself to stand on - in addition to your bitterness, that is. Jaclyn Hill should be a shining example of a way to build a business - not someone to tear down in your rants.

Keep up the hard work my lovely Beauty Bloggers! 

And to Jennifer Gerrard and MannyMUA, Marlena and Jaclyn Hill...no worries. We gotcha.

Shelbie Knight =)


After posting the above, I was not surprised that I received several comments; take note that these comments were emailed to me, rather than posted here, publicly, where it's quite readily available. A few of the responses "lectured" me that I clearly hadn't watched Karina's videos and that she has reviewed "thousands of products..." 

Naturally, as any writer worth their ink, I had investigated Karina Kaboom, and her claims, including watching the (involved) videos prior to writing the above blog post. Did I take the time to scour though her entire catalog of videos? Ah, no. And the reason? Point blank - they were not of relevance and, therefor, not worth my time.

So, after reading one particular email, I decided to look further into Karina Kaboom's video history and, predictably, what I found only solidified my opinions. Why you may ask?

To start, in looking through her video list (going back a eight months), I would estimate that 95% of her videos are featuring NAIL POLISH. There is certainly no problem with this - there are many Bloggers who specifically select this product and review it exclusively. However, it does add to the suspicions I placed upon her and her motives; when a Blogger features nail polish almost exclusively (and no other cosmetics), what exactly made her select this one company?

Additionally, I did take note that, out of all of Karina Kaboom's videos, I could only find TWO reviews for cosmetics: One, Gerard Cosmetics and, interestingly, the other, Makeup Geek.

We already know what her reaction was to Gerard Cosmetics, so there's no need to go into detail there. But, given her reaction to GC, I was curious to see what she had to say about Makeup Geek...especially since I have had direct experience with many of their products.

In her "review" video, Karina featured ONE Makeup Geek shadow, in this case Caitlin Rose. One. Shadow.And throughout the painfully long video, she, again, makes repeated accusations against past Makeup Geek reviewers, stating that they gave good reviews only because 'they received free products', etc. She refers to the shadow as 'ok' and 'nothing special', complaining about the amount of product you receive compared to the price-point. And on and on it goes...

God, it was painful to watch. It was nothing more than a repeat of what she did with Gerard Cosmetics. (The Makeup Geek "review" was first, then Gerard Cosmetics.)

To the small minority that exist with the belief that Karina Kaboom is some poor, corporate-attacked,  bullied, innocent You Tube Blogger, I ask that you not only read and consider the points that I make above, but that you watch the videos in mention.

For disclosure sake (again), I have no affiliation with Makeup Geek, or Marlena (Makeup Geek's Creator and CEO), other than as a customer. I have PURCHASED many of their shadows for myself and my daughter and I will do so again; my cart currently sits full with my next order. Because of this, I KNOW that Karina's "review" is garbage and is done with malice, just as with Gerard Cosmetics. It's unfortunate that I do not have the medium set up with which to give honest reviews; I would be all over this...but I do have this...

My review of Makeup Geek's shadows: 

The shadows are high quality in every way that counts; smooth consistency, highly-pigmented with little-to-no "fallout" and they blend beautifully. MG offers a wide-range of colors - something for everyone - warm tones, cool tones, bright colors and several that could pass for dupes of many top brands (Stilla, Nars, MAC). 

The application lasts throughout the day with, or without, a shadow base, although I always use one for maximum color pay-off. And Karina's comment about the 'small size of the product' only shows what little she knows of cosmetics - and how little she was informed before making her statements. Makeup Geek shadows are comparable in size to other top brands, if not larger (see below).

Product priced: Eyeshadow Refill "pan" (R); Compact (C)
(size specifics and price are taken directly from manufacturers website & Sephora)
  • Makeup Geek:  Standard 1.8G/0.064 oz  $5.99 R Foiled 1.8G/0.064 oz $9.99 R
  • MAC:  Standard 1.3 g/0.04 oz  $10 R
  • Stila:  Standard 0.09 oz  $18 C  Jewels (foils) 0.08 oz  $20 C
  • Too Faced:  .06 oz/1.7 g)  $18 (currently sale, $16.20) C
  • Urban Decay: Standard 1.5g 0.05oz  $18 C Moondust (foils)  $20 C
  • Makeup Forever: Standard 0.07 oz  $21 C
  • Sephora: Standard 0.07 oz  $12 C
  • Ardency Inn: Standard 0.06 oz  $21 C
  • Benefit Cosmetics: Standard 0.11 oz  $20 C
Note: The use of the words Standard is used only for the purposes of specifying that this is a shadow that is not foiled. The terms Foiled, Jewels & Moondust are specific to the company they are listed with and represent this company's "foiled" shadows.

The above pricing is meant for comparison purposes only and in no way a representation of the products mentioned, or the quality of their products. My purpose in listing this is to counter Karina Kaboom's claims that Makeup Geek shadows are overpriced and contain little product. As you can see, even considering that many of them are in compacts, the price difference is considerable. As well, take note of the size comparison.

In closing, it is now more clear that ever that Karina Kaboom has ulterior movies in her reviews of these two companies. If not for the difference in the company name and product, they are almost a repeat of one another. In both she makes claims of "hyped" product reviews, accuses other You Tuber's of being "bought out" and "receiving free products in exchange for reviews" and, most sad, in both she makes accusations against the business' of improper business practices.

From an outsider's point of view, Karina Kaboom's own words and history have become her own downfall and it is clear that she is bitter and using her medium vindictively. At this point, I would not trust her word on dog food.

Best Wishes to all of you and, no matter what you do, give it your all!

Shelbie =)

This chapter in this book has finally reached its conclusion... This is what happens when a writer sits in front of the keyboard amped up on injustice! I write and write and... E-NUF! 

*entranced* I. MUST. WALK. AWAY. Book...yes, that thing I've been working on...I can write there! 


February 8, 2015

Showtime has never seen such a loud act as Quiet Riot

Review: Quiet Riot The Movie
Rating: Five Stars

For those of you who grew up during the time of Metal music, many likely still listening to your favorite bands on your iPod, you will want to read on. Of course, there are those of you who will see the word Metal and cringe, based purely off of the word. To whichever degree your interests lie, the historical importance of this particular band alone bears reading further.

The Metal band I speak of is Quiet Riot. Whether their brand of music is to your liking or not is not what is important.

What is of important significance is the role that this band played in the history and evolution of music as a whole, especially rock music. History that I, someone who has listened to the band for years, knew nothing about...until last night.

And it was, indeed, history-making.

Directed by Regina Russell, Showtime features the Hair Metal band Quiet Riot in Quiet Riot, The Movie, as they follow the band from the seeds of their beginning, through their growth and successes to their eventual evolution. Growth, success, grief, demise and eventual resurgence of the band is all wrapped up on one hell of a show.

Additionally, interviews and insight into the band's inner workings from Glenn Hughes, Rudy Sarzo, Dee Snider and more make Quiet Riot The Movie a road trip of all road trips.

Busting into the 80's New Wave Flock of Seagulls was Quiet Riot's lead singer, Kevin DuBrow; yelling, jumping, talking to anyone with a mic who would listen, known for posing with his mic stand in his mouth, Dubrow was determined to bring his bands brand of rock to the forefront. The music scene would never be the same again - and certainly never quiet. How apt their band name truly is.

In the 80's, we saw music change; keyboards & synthesizers with singers wearing suits and short, spiked hair filled with colors, singing about love-gone-wrong was out. 

In it's place came the hard-edged grinding guitars riffs surrounded by resounding deep drums and bass, spearheaded by singers with lions-mane wild hair, wearing spandex so tight you could see what their religion was, followed by a mob of girls, while they screamed out anti-establishment lyrics that appealed to the masses. There was no fading one out of one style of music while the other gradually took it's place. No, this change was as abrupt and hard and the band leading the charge; complete and total domination that would forever change music as we know it today.

Their music and the attitude they brought with it was liberating to many and life changing for some. We saw a complete evolution in the foundation and style of music, shoving one out while screaming the next in, all brought about by one band and a man with a vision.

A man who, sadly, is no longer with us to grow old enjoying the impact that he had in the history of music. I can only imagine what God thought when he heard Kevin DuBrow screaming at the gates...

Born in '69, I was in HighSchool when "hair metal" hit the scene and dominated the airwaves and MTV. I was sucked into it hard & fast. I loved everything about the music - everything that my parents HATED - it set free a side of me that had grown up sheltered and quiet. 

Growing up listening to Andy Gibb (my first crush) & The BeeGees through the early 70's, changing to the hard grind of Led Zeppelin, then the psychedelic heroin-esq of Pink Floyd and finally (my favorite) Journey in the early 80's, my music tastes have always been eclectic, dipping into pretty much any pond that tempted me. Hell, I even liked the Meat Puppets for a while and one of my favorites, that I started listening to in the 80's (and still do to this day, frequently when writing), is Andreas Vollenweider. Now, you tell me? Quiet Riot compared to Andreas, Sade and Enigma? Yeah, girl has taste that range the gambit.

Through all the changes, once Metal was on the scene, it has stayed with me, like a disease that's infected my blood. A disease that I now know was originally grown in the Petrie dish known as Quiet Riot. Truly amazing.

Last night my Hubby and I watched Quiet Riot, The Movie on Showtime. There's so much more to say, but I don't want to give it all away. I simply want to impress upon you the desire to see this movie. I want you to watch it and form your own opinions. In the end, no matter what you walk away with, I guarantee you will be astounded. 

In my experience, it's extremely rare for a Rockumentary to ensnare your emotions, pulling, tugging and yanking them in every direction. One moment we would be laughing, the next sitting in stunned silence; mesmerized at times, grief-stricken at others, until my tear ducts were cramping with the effort of withholding my tears. Notice how I changed that last sentence to omit my Husband? See, I am capable of great learning feats!

Quiet Riot, The Movie took my Husband and I on a road trip through a full range of emotions, from Holy Shit to Oh My God. Watching the movie opened up a dialogue between us, as we delved into the past, thinking back to the happy memories we shared during this time, as well as the joy of what has changed but, still, in many ways is the same. That's the wonderful thing about music; the song stays the same, but we are forever adding new memories to associate with it.

But, that's the wonderful thing about music, isn't it? No matter how many years have passed, when THAT song comes on, you can immediately recall where you were, who you were with and what you were doing when you first heard it. No matter where you are or what you are doing, the memory comes flooding back to warm your heart and mind...and sometimes not. But, even when a song brings with it a memory that holds a painful place in your heart, or reminds you of a loss, it still brings something good with it - there cannot be pain without there first being love.

To this day music is an integral part of my life and career; I really couldn't do my job without it. I know. Trust me, I've tried. The idea of sitting down at the keyboard and (trying) to give life to my characters without music playing in the background... Nope. Not going to happen.

I've often wondered why. Did I just despise quiet? With two kids running the house, the answer is a resounding NO! After watching Quiet Riot, The Movie I now know. 
Music connects to us on an emotional level, drawing us in, bonding us, whether to each other, a memory or the music itself. Whether I'm bringing life to my characters, or playing Guitar Hero on XBox with my kids, I'm drawing off old memories and feelings to create new ones. I could no more give life to my characters without music than I could forget the memories that I first associated with it. 

In ending, whether you are a Metal enthusiast or not, Quiet Riot, The Movie is definitely worth the view. 

Check your Showtime local listings for viewing times, as well as On Demand and the Showtime app. I've placed links below for your convince as well.

Enjoy and. as always, Rock On!

Shelbie =)

P.S. And yes, while I've had very long hair all my life, at one point I was rockin' a Lions Mane do. And no, I will not humiliate myself putting up the pics, so don't ask! LOL! =)

December 9, 2014

Review: Temporal Shift (Blood Hunter #4) by Nina Croft

Temporal Shift (Entangled Select Otherworld)Temporal Shift by Nina Croft
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

**I was provided a complimentary copy of Temporal Shift in return for my honest review.**

This is a tricky one for me to review, as there were times when I had a really difficult time reading it; I felt as if I was missing out on something, that there was some vital clue that I should have known beforehand. Additionally, this was my first time reading work by this author, so having had no previous knowledge of her writing style, I had nothing to draw upon with which to discern series or not.

Several times I actually stopped reading and looked for series attachment, thinking there had to be something going on before this book. I could find nothing - no similar titles, no series title. Turns out, after all that struggle, I was right. I still don't understand why I couldn't find any series association it's never that difficult - but I would recommend (in the future) that the author and/or publisher mention the series affiliation, possibly giving a summary or a Prologue?

Now, on to the story. Quick and to the point - I loved it. After I got past the whole series issue - some things I just had to cast aside because clearly they were associated to another story - I found that I really enjoyed the story and Nina Croft's writing style.

To me, this story screamed Sci-Fi/Paranormal Romance blend, given the space crafts and worm holes combining with supernatural creatures.

The main characters contained depth of character, flaws and all; everything you want to see in your Hero and Heroine.

Saffaria has known, and been groomed, to the one purpose her life revolved around. She has dreams of (Devlin) for years, but when she actually meets him... Well, I won't say. You have to read it to find out! =)

Thorn has been by Saffaria's side since she was born and is there to help her, aiding her along her quest, until she fulfills her destiny.

But Devlin...oh Devlin...he lives for one thing and one thing only - to kill the leader of the Church of Everlasting Life. When he has a little run-in with Saffaria, and she eventually informs him that they are fated - not just to be lovers, but to spend eternity together - big surprise, he balks.

The problem resides in that Saffaria's whole destiny, the one that says she will be the one to save the Human race, is dependent on having not only Devlin's assistance, but that of the entire crew of the Blood Hunters.

Will she be able to convince Devlin to aid her, or will her run from his so-called "destiny?" Can Saffarina convince the Blood Hunters to help her, or will things the events that have already occurred be too much to overcome? Will Devlin finally come around to not only aid Saffarina, but accept his destiny with her? If so, how does this unfold?

It's quite the engaging story, full of plot twists and turns. Other than my initial confusion regarding the series issue, or not, I would say this was an excellent story. Although, given the disruption it caused in the story (from lack of previous information), I would highly recommend that you read the first three, yes three, in the Blood Hunter SERIES, before you attempt to read this one.

I can't stress this to the author and publisher enough: In the next book of the series, either write a Prologue, that summarizes what has happened to bring us to this point, or place a CLEAR remark that the book is part of an ongoing series.

I've never encountered this problem before. I can always find series info, or tell that a book is part of a series, if just from the first few intro pages, which always list the previous books, usually in series order. It is possible that, due to this being an ARC, that all of that was removed, but still...something needs to be there to inform the reader.

And just think...with a summarized Prologue, you give the reader enough to feed from that not only will they be intrigued to read further, but you have given those who have yet to read your work a reason to continue. Maybe it's a prime book, etc. and they don't have the previous ones, nor any inclination to buy them. By drawing the reader into the current story, by informing them a bit of what came before, not only will they understand the current story better, but they might very well be inclined to go back, reading the others that came before it.

Highly recommend! A great story, built on a solid foundation. =)

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Review: Braving Fate by Linsey Hall

Braving Fate (The Mythean Arcana, #1)Braving Fate by Linsey Hall
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

**I was provided a complimentary copy of Braving Fate in exchange for my honest review.**

To start, I would like to say that this is the first time I have read any work by Linsey Hall, so I know nothing of her writing style.

Braving Fate sounded exciting - a warrior queen is reborn and the alpha protector is tasked with protecting her. And there were parts of the story that were very engaging and intriguing. However, there were other parts where I thought it might have been a better over-all story had the sex scenes been dialed back a bit and more effort had been put into the core of the story.

Additionally, the entire past life aspect was, at times, very confusing. In my personal opinion, you have to be VERY clear when writing a story that has regression/past life/memories in it - very clear that you are differentiating between the past and present. There were several times where I simply got lost, having to re-read a certain scene to figure out where we were and why.

I will say that I loved the supernatural change (rather than vampires and shifters), it was a fun character difference to have Gods and demons. No one can cause more havoc than those two, God only knows. LOL!

Diana was a great character, bringing a tenderness to a hard story, or rather hard characters. She believes herself to be "normal" - a normal person, teacher, woman - except for the nightmares than wake her in the middle of the night, cold and covered in sweat.

But all her normalcy changes the minute she has an encounter with a demon; then she knows it's time to go.

Packing up, she leaves town, following the clues sent out by the mystical tattoo that shows up on her arm. Hmmm.

Cadan has been assigned to be her guard, for little does she know, she is anything but normal; she is their reincarnated Queen. Additionally, she's not your average Queen, but a warrior and Cadan's ex-lover. Woo. *cue titillating music* This is getting better...

But Cadan finds himself in a unique position - he falls in love with HER. Not who she used to be, but who she is now. And he has no interest in leading her to her doom, her death, by helping her to learn who she once was. Nope. Not. Gonna. Happen. (as far as he's concerned) Yet, there is nothing more determined than a woman on a mission.

There were many times in the story where I found myself excited, waiting to turn the page and see where the author would take a particular scene; she really did a great job in several areas, no doubt.

However, as I said originally, I thought the sex scenes were too highlighted. There was no question that they were hot - and detailed - but I would rather have had more focus of their developing relationship/story, than repeated sex scenes. We all know the two of them have the hots...

Overall, I was impressed with my first read by Linsey Hall and I would recommend it to those who love Paranormal Romance and are looking for a little different supernatural story.

Gods and Demons, oh my! =)

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Review: The Curse Defiers by Denise Grover Swank

The Curse Defiers (The Curse Keepers, #3)The Curse Defiers by Denise Grover Swank
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

**I was provided a complimentary copy of The Curse Defiers in exchange for my honest review.**

I understand that this is the third book in a trilogy, so it is the book to close it out. I have not read the first two, so I thought I might be walking a bit blind on this one, but I was...pleasantly surprised.

The story surrounds the facts that demons are slipping through into the human world and there are only two people who can stop their destruction - Ellie and Collin - they are all that stands between earth's destruction and domination, or not.

But we wonder if these two are even capable of working together? Clearly there is a back story here, existing between the two that has a lot to do with lost trust. It's clear that Ellie is worried that she can never trust Collin again after his lies, but he's smooth, working her over with words, telling her how much he loves her, needs her, has to have her. But, it's clear that she fell for the spiel once before and is not in the mood to repeat the mistake.

Instead, she has David (human) who is willing to stand by her side and show her what love really is. But, as always, there is someone behind the scenes playing games - in this case it's the Gods. Unfortunately, when you become a pawn in their game, there's no talking your way out of it. The clock continues its countdown, the stakes rise, hitting closer to home and all the while we are left to wonder of Ellie, Collin and David are up to the battle before them?

But, as the Gods, demons and humans close in on her, Ellie's past is laid bare for all to see. Thankfully, she discovers that she's not the naive girl she used to be - she's a tried and true warrior. The question is, will it be enough? Will she be enough? Will she get there in time? If not, how many will die? What about Collin? David? There are so many questions, so much at stake for her...

That's where the Curse Keepers come in; only they can see the reality of what is happening. Only they have the power to stop it, if they get there in time and know the true meaning of the curse.

It appears that Ellie was once a trusting, possibly a bit weak-natured character and that she has grown leaps and bounds in this novel. The writing is engaging, the characters engrossing, the story enthralling. EEE. And of course, it is filled with loads of action, twists and turns that leave you wondering how the characters managed to survive at all.

As my first read from work written by Denise Grover Swank, I was truly impressed. A great read that I highly recommend!

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Review: The Betrayed by Heather Graham

The Betrayed (Krewe of Hunters, #14)The Betrayed by Heather Graham
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

**I was provided a complimentary copy of The Betrayed in exchange for my honest review.**

I will start by stating that this is the first novel I have read by Heather Graham. I have no experience with any others in the series, or any of her other work, so this is a first for me, all ways around.

It was instantly apparent that Graham’s had mastered her setting and the characters within the her story, as they were all so vivid and clear, but still, I felt that the interactions of the protagonists was gawky and awkward with sub par dialogue that left me feeling unbalanced.

Additionally, this may seem like a small factor to some, but to me it drives me nuts - the over use of the exclamation point!!! It was extremely distracting and absolutely unnecessary. The point was driven by their actions and words; I didn't feel it was necessary to push it further out to the reader!!!

The actions in The Betrayed seemed more about moving from point-A to point-B, with little development or ambiance, thus I felt the character's growth was stymied.

I felt that Mo remained stagnant throughout the story. While she did serve a major purpose, in finding bodies and people, she was rather boring and unaffected, to me. Not exactly unlikeable, but she just didn't offer anything redeeming, drawing me to her. So, there was no like or dislike on my part - just blah; not the best feeling to have about a main character.

As for Aiden he was such a, ah hum, dick to Mo that I was thrown off instantly. Protect, to an almost alpha instinct level, but be a jerk. Nope. I didn't get this relationship at all. It seemed to me that there might have been some back story that I was missing, due to my lack of reading the previous novels, so there's a good chance I was missing something...or not.

On that note, one thing that really bothered me was that a condom scene. My personal feeling is that if you are going to work a condom (safe sex) into the scene, make it about safe sex, not just pregnancy. It really bothered me that they were searching for the nonexistent condom, until she says that she is on birth control. Then, game on?! WTH? Did Ms. Graham forget that the purpose of a condom is to prevent STD's, not simply pregnancy?

I understand, and don't like, the pressure that authors are receiving from their publishers about "safe sex" scenes. It stymies the author, changes the direction of their original story and, in my opinion, this scene is the result. I get that safe sex is mondo important - we all do. But, do we need to have the reminder of it in our fiction now, because of pressure from publishers? I say, no! If I want to write a fantasy about a woman being aggressively taken by an alpha male, dominating every aspect of her body and emotions, why should I have to add a condom scene to appease PR? I shouldn't. We all know safe sex is critical - heck, my thirteen year-old daughter can tell me that - I don't need it pushed into a story, that is was clearly not intended for.

Sorry to take so much time one this one point, but I want publishers to listen. Safe sex is pushed by parents, teachers, the community, heck, even other kids. If an author WANTS to have a condom scene in their story, great! All the more to them. If they don't? Leave it. There's a reason. We all know it's fiction...

On to the next... It's clear to me that the author does a huge amount of research on her settings, as I have never been to Sleepy Hollow, but I could picture exactly what she was describing. It's either that, or she's just that convincing! LOL!!

In the end, I enjoyed my first experience reading work by Heather Graham. Would I read another? Sure. Without a doubt. Am I intrigued enough to start at the beginning and work my way forward? Maybe if she wasn't fourteen books into the series already - while I enjoyed The Betrayed, it wasn't epic, which it would have to be to date-back fourteen books. =)

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Review: Otherworld Nights by Kelly Armstrong

Otherworld Nights (Otherworld Stories #3)Otherworld Nights by Kelley Armstrong
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

**I was provided a complimentary copy of Otherworld Nights in exchange for my honest review.**

Otherworld Nights is a compilation that contains a series of novellas about several of Armstrong's more popular characters. If you have enjoyed her characters in the past, then this book has something for everyone.

What I enjoyed most was that, rather than each story rehashing what we already knew about certain characters, it added to our knowledge of them, answered questions we may have had or delved into their unknown history that we learned about in Armstrong's prior books.

Although this book can easily be read as a stand-alone, I believe it would be much more satisfying if it was read in order, after having read the novels. And here's something to keep in mind if you haven't yet read the novels in the series and are reading this as a stand alone - each novella will contain spoilers. No question.

While the stories are short, they are well written and still follow the traditional story arc, just on a much, much shorter band. The intro gives you enough background that you have a sense of setting and relation to the larger story, even if you haven't yet read it.

Then there is the meat of the story, quick and to the point, filled with action, suspense, and emotions. It's typical Armstrong writing - solid, clear and defined. One thing I did notice that was outside of her "normal" writing style was that the endings didn't have the cliffhanger they usually do,. But, I figured since we seem to be looking back, rather than forward, it's more of a flashback to the past than a planning for the future.

Overall, the stories were solid, filled with a variety of her most popular characters; it's like a Jerry Springer follow-up on Armstrong's most loved. =)

Solid, enjoyable, it left me wanting more - which, in this case, is a good thing!

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