A Good Idea Gone Wrong


Stain (My Soul to Wake) Book One


My Soul to Wake (Stain #1)

By: Tara Oakes

GoodReads Summary:

*** Warning: this novel is intended for those over 18 years of age due to its erotic nature and mature content. ***
True love.
These are the things of legend. Unexplained, some even say impossible… but nonetheless prevalent in stories and tales from all cultures and in every land from the beginning of time. What if there’s something to it? What if there is an explanation behind the mysteries and bedtime stories? Something beyond words?


She was taken from him in the cruelest way… condemned, sentenced and punished out of fear of the unknown. How is he supposed to live without her? How can he go on knowing that in this life, they will never be one again? There’s only one thing to do… only one option that will bring them together again.


Leah is taken on a weekend excursion with her best girlfriends to let loose, relax and have a little fun. What harm is there in a little vacation? It’s not like the legends, the haunted history of the place can scare them away. It’s all harmless fun.

Or so she thought.

Something seems familiar about the town. The trees, the winds, the feel of everything. Her ever present nightmares have become more intense within the limits of the old historical setting. She’s prepared to write off the whole trip as nothing more than a case of her mind running away with the sensationalized magic here. When she meets a handsome stranger who’s eager to know her in a way no one else can, she begins to think there just may be something more to this place, something more to him.

Will has been waiting, biding his time, and praying that she’ll come back. He’s broken the natural order of things to possibly find her again, weaving their way through the years until they can be together again. He knows he may never find her, but he can’t risk not trying. This place calls to her, just as it did to him. It will bring her back home. It will bring her back to him.

What’s 300 years when it comes to true love? He’s prepared to wait an eternity if he has to, just to see her, hold her, make her his and to help her remember what was stolen from them so long ago. He’ll stop at nothing to make her remember who she is, the power she possesses, and the love they swore to each other.


I’m of two minds on this one, both good and bad. So hear me out before making your purchasing decisions. It will depend on what you want and expect from a book.


The Good:

The story itself is rather well crafted. Using ideas I’ve seen before many times, reincarnation, endless love, witchcraft, Salem, etc., Tara Oakes add a few subtle elements to make this story hers.

For instance, I love how the title(s) bring elements of her story into the foreground of your mind when you finally realize how the word “stain” fits in. Finding a good title is sometimes a very hard thing for writers to do. Unfortunately, the editor or whoever is in charge of advertising cannot make up their minds on which title is the title of the book and which title is the title of the series. This makes things difficult when you’re looking for it and subsequent books.

I love the premise of the story (and I’m not giving away any spoilers).

I’m also impressed by the descriptions. She tells the intimate bits without cliché and boring repetition. Plus, I think the warning in the blurb is a bit much, considering what I read in high school and what I know kids in high school read. Plus, I’ve read plenty of YA books which border more on the pornographic than this ever touched.

Tara, I think, did a decent job of creating a lovely meeting of two souls in a properly intimate manner according to the context of the story, without going overboard or being repetitiously sugary sweet enough to make my teeth hurt. And I’m thinking that’s also a hard thing to accomplish, since I find it so rarely.


The Bad:

I do not understand the overwhelming amount of five star ratings. The idea behind the story is nothing new. Subtle elements give it a different dimension, but it is not a blockbuster. It does not blow me away with originality.

I teeter on the edge of relating to Leah and completely hating her angsty personality.

Trust me, I love Salem and all things horrendous and potential about the place. It has so many seeds for great stories.

The love story is fantastic, but the ease with which Leah accepts the unbelievable and the purposeful way she acts at the end, make me see three different characters. She’s just so all over the place.


The Ugly:

As an admitted grammar nazi with good influences from an anthro-linguistic background, I have learned to turn a blind eye to random bits of untidy grammar and the rare typo.

At this point, I hope that future editions of this find an editor who can fix my/me constructions, discover the important missing words and rid us, please, of the rampant passive voice that reduces a powerful, emotional scene to one where we simply do not give a damn because the one telling the story does not give enough of a damn to animate the scene rather than swish it around her mouth and spit.


Here’s a clue to those who do not understand what passive voice is: take your document, or any document and open it in MS Word. Go into your proofing settings and make the thing check for grammatical errors. Run a check. When you see those annoying green, red and blue squiggles, right click on what it underlines. It TELLS you what’s wrong. Fix the red ones. Those are spelling errors. Check the blue ones. Those are few, but they happen. They tell you when you’re using two instead of too. The green one’s? Those are the ones that tell you when a sentence is a fragment or to wordy or too long or whatever. Pay attention when it says “passive voice.”

I admit, there are a few times where passive voice is almost required and you simply cannot get rid of it. But in the middle of a hugely emotional scene, do your freakin’ best to get rid of the damned passive voice people.

If I read/listen to another book with so much potential and an overabundance of passivity (ruining that wonderful idea), I’m going to give a grammar lesson on this blog. No one wants that, right. (Unless you do, then, please tell me and I’ll add a section addressing the most common mistakes I can see ruining otherwise beautiful writing.)

Sometimes I wish I had a really good editor with new eyes proofing my stuff, ‘cause I bet they’d see much more than I, the one so invested in my own work.

(Random thought: should I start a proofing/editing business to help others?)

Stupid, pet peeve-rant over. (Look at that. A green squiggly. Look at all those fragments. Sometimes they work. Know the rules before you bend them, I always say.)



A Witch’s Path, Book Two

A Witch's Path

By: N. E. Conneely

Narrated by: Jeff Hays

GoodReads Summary:  After a near death experience, Michelle has vowed to do her job, magical assistance for the police, and leave the heroics to someone else. Besides, life should be settling down for her since the trolls have been captured and the sorceress was neutralized. Unfortunately, the power behind the sorceress wants her dead, Elron starts acting funny, a magical creature wreaks havoc on a town, and there’s trouble with the werewolves. As if that wasn’t enough, the clans have started to notice her power and she has more reasons than ever to fear the clans.

Things go from bad to worse when Michelle’s best friend is abducted, and she must decide between her friend and her vow to stay out of dangerous situations.

Series: A Witch’s Path

Once more, we visit Michele in her frenzied world, helping the police deal with magical objects and crimes. It feels as is the girl is never still and we come to understand truly her obsession with caffeinated food and beverages.

This time, however, we get to know Michelle’s friends a bit better. Even though they are important to her, fighting the trolls in the first book kind of overwhelmed their very existence.

I think I’ve mentioned this once or twice, but I do not like spoilers and I always try to avoid dropping them in any review. Suffice it to say, in this story, there is a kidnapping, gargoyles, more werewolves and shifters to count, endless love, and even a dinosaur. It is a glorious mess to keep you entertained.

If you’re curious, we do discover a little more about Michelle’s parents’ past, which is good and just enough to whet the appetite for more. But I do have an issue about the scene at the end of the book when she’s facing her parents. Unfortunately, they give her no more information than when she’d found during her own brief investigation. There is nothing new here. Either there should be, or the scene should be cut in favor of the next.

Browsing through other reviews, I have to agree that after the first book’s microscopic focus on the tools and methods to her magical practice, I did expect less detail and more character depth aside from always being tired or angry. Unfortunately, that is not the case as most of her movements revolve around the minutia of the spells she works. While listening, I do find myself glazing over those bits.

What I focused on in the course of listening to this sequel, was Elron. Despite the old language, he contains great emotion and Conneely does a good job in expressing that without trite dialogue or clichéd bullshit. I feel as if Elron is a much more developed character than even the MC.

Once more Jeff Hays amazes me with range and talent. Trust me, barely into one chapter and you will be astounded. You should definitely check out more of his work. I’ve included a link to his webpage above. Just click on his name.

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