Book Review: Hex on the Beach by Gina LaManna ★

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“Slipping under the covers, I replayed the day’s events in my head, from Gus’s announcement that Leonard had been found dead, to the strange incident with Harpin and ensuing rescue by Aarik. My last thoughts before drifting off to sleep centered around Ranger X’s softer side. The one I’d seen at his cabin, and I wondered what I’d have to do to see the gentle side of him once more. To see the man who’d rubbed salve on my neck with a touch so gentle it made my heart flutter, who fed me bread though I was certain it was the only food he’d had left. The man who riled me up to the point of boiling then cooled me down with a single smile – that brief, fleeting smile was the last thing I saw before slipping into my dreams.” 

Unfortunately, the above quote exemplifies why I hold such distaste for this novel. It is positively vapid in most parts. None of the characters can hold the story, which really has no plot, and the entire thing needed about a hundred more pages of narrative and probably 6 more rounds of edits. It was not good and sadly it was clear that it was a self-published novel. I give it 1.5 stars for the potential it had.

I do not want to be unnecessarily harsh here, because I read this book at the behest of a friend, whom I usually share similar taste in books with. However, this time, I was not a fan of her suggestion (sorry, friend!).

This book was just unbelievably stupid. It was thin, superficial, unrealistic, and completely cringey. Nothing about it made me want to keep reading or continue with the series. Nothing happened. Nothing! Nothing whatsoever, throughout the whole story. There was hardly a plot at all and all of the characters were extremely one-dimensional. It seemed like LaManna had one basic concept for her story and didn’t feel the need to develop it at all. The story read as an outline that still needed numerous pages of actual writing, background information, character history, world building, etc., to flesh it out. However, we didn’t get any of that!

What we did get was silly drivel that made no sense and unconnected events punctuated by boring stretches of nothingness. Hex on the Beach contained every cliche imaginable, too. As if the author thought, “Okay, so if I want to fit into this genre, what do I need to include?” A naive, “serious” girl that doesn’t know she’s a witch? Check. Absent family? Check. Mentors to explain all the magic to said naive girl so they can info-dump on the audience the whole time? Check. Magical land hidden from the normal folk? Well, sort of. I’d hardly call a random, hidden beach a magical land. Crazy but lovable family that forces themselves and their advice (rather rudely, I might add) onto the protagonist? Check. The entire concept of the grandmother, literally every single thing she said and how she was described, made me want to abandon the book altogether. It was inane, annoying, and clearly trying too hard. Hot guy that hates other girls, but somehow falls for the ditzy lead after meeting her one time? Check. That part of the story was so eyeroll-worthy. The “romance” was pure insta-love fluff and also slightly abusive. Sure, just tie my hands up and take me to your remote cabin after I told you no, because you know what’s best for me. All of that weirdness was written in a sexy way, because the guy was “dark and mysterious and hot and moody.” GROSS. And the entire exchange (multiple exchanges) about him getting a glimpse of Lily’s underwear was super forced and just strange.

Nothing made sense! The entire book happened in the span of two days and suddenly everyone is in love and die-hard loyal??? Lily was not at all curious about her mother or her early life or magic in general or anything at all???? Her entire character was so dense and so incredibly annoying. All of these “adult” characters read more like immature 13 year olds. I could not stand them. How come these supposed 30 year old women were running around squealing about boys and literally getting grounded when there was some crazy murder plot happening? Honestly, if the characters don’t take the plot seriously, how are we as readers supposed to? And really, a goth shapeshifter that turns into cute animals and a bubbly pink vampire that can’t drink blood? Gag me.

Also, why is it that we only met such a small handful of people in this book? Characters were introduced so randomly and then tossed away or ignored. Why weren’t there more people on this wonderful magic island?? We never got any background on the characters and not a single one was fully developed.

The writing was awful and just…fake sounding. No bit of it sounded natural. It was all very telling and there was absolutely no showing. There were no subtleties whatsoever. The dialogue was probably the worst part for me, because I am very dialogue-heavy with books. It was just so wooden and stiff. No one talks like that! There were too many cutesy/dumb phrases (that no one in real life uses) to make the characters seem innocent or quirky. All it really did was make them sound inappropriate for their ages.  It was all just really really bad.

Maybe I could see the appeal of something like this for a mindless read at the beach?? Maybe? But that would be it, and I don’t know if I am just not a fan of this kind of book to begin with, but I wouldn’t even choose this for a beach read.

To top it all off, the nonexistent plot wasn’t even interesting. It was all so boring and lame and there was NO hint of danger. Ever! The climax was decidedly anti-climactic and nothing was resolved or explained by the end of the book. It also cut off very abruptly on a cliffhanger so that you would be forced to buy the next book to see what happens, which I do not enjoy.

Well, I for one will not be taking the bait.

Ugh. I have nothing else to say; I’ve ranted enough! I’d skip this one if I were you guys, though.

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Wait, so, it wasn’t really a dried cat’s paw they were using in the potion, right?

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Title: Hex on the Beach (The Magic and Mixology Mystery #1)
Author: Gina LaManna
Genre: Paranormal: Witches | Contemporary | Romance | Mystery
Publication Date: April 29, 2016
Page Count: 254 pages
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