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28 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great blend of paranormal and contemporary aspects
I was honored when Julia Templeton asked me to review The Deepest Cut, it combines the factors of contemp that I love, the tough issues (Riley's mom dying and her guilt at being in the car with her, and the cutting) right with the paranormal aspects that I love. The paranormal, the ghosts one woven into a love story and the other downright evil and creepy are very well...
Published on May 23, 2012 by Brandi Breathes Books

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27 of 31 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A Ghost Without Much Spirit
I don't really like to give negative reviews, but this book kind of made me feel like I was tricked into reading what's little more than someone's fantasy of having sex with a two hundred year old "hot" Scottish guy, by calling the novel a ghost story. In fact, the ghost in question isn't very ghostly, as he's seemingly completely corporeal - that is, he can touch and be...
Published on November 6, 2012 by Krisi Keley


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28 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great blend of paranormal and contemporary aspects, May 23, 2012
By 
I was honored when Julia Templeton asked me to review The Deepest Cut, it combines the factors of contemp that I love, the tough issues (Riley's mom dying and her guilt at being in the car with her, and the cutting) right with the paranormal aspects that I love. The paranormal, the ghosts one woven into a love story and the other downright evil and creepy are very well written.
I flew through this book. The characters grabbed and held my interest, the plot is fast moving always having me wonder what would happen next while still processing what just happened, and the emotions are so well written.
Riley is easy to relate to, and her pain jumps off the page. I also really admire her love for her dad and her brother. Her brother Shane is balanced between a good friend and awesome brother with just enough annoying to make it believable.
Ian really is swoon worthy and I love how dogged he was at first with her to get and keep her attention. He got mine too. The backstory with Laria is good, and I was always wondering what it was just below the surface and what it would finally take to deal with her.
And I totally wasn't expecting the ending, I can't wait to get my hands on the next one to find out how this all ties together and what happens with Riley.
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27 of 31 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A Ghost Without Much Spirit, November 6, 2012
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Krisi Keley (Spring City, PA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Deepest Cut (MacKinnon Curse novel Book 1) (Kindle Edition)
I don't really like to give negative reviews, but this book kind of made me feel like I was tricked into reading what's little more than someone's fantasy of having sex with a two hundred year old "hot" Scottish guy, by calling the novel a ghost story. In fact, the ghost in question isn't very ghostly, as he's seemingly completely corporeal - that is, he can touch and be touched back, and experiences lust for the teen girl lusting after him, despite that he can also materialize and flicker out of existence at will. This anomaly of why a ghost (usually synonymous with spirit), who is also described as needing to absorb the energy in his surroundings to appear at all, can be physically identical to and act on the desires of a living man is never explained, nor is much else of the paranormal in the story, including why a cross can protect against an evil, jealous spirit witch, even though God (who would seemingly be the power behind that protection) doesn't mind that a two hundred year old Scottish man-ghost is seriously contemplating having sex with and is definitely touching in a sexual way a sixteen year old girl - and one he knows he shouldn't be having a relationship with to boot, as his whole reason for being in contact with her is that she is supposed to help him cross over. Unfortunately, it was very difficult to enjoy the story as the simple teen romance it obviously truly is because said romance consisted of the teen girl claiming love for and trust in her Scottish ghost after "knowing" him about two days, having minimal conversation, and based predominantly on his hottie status - his gorgeous dark hair and blue eyes and the way she can feel his smile down to her toes mentioned almost every few pages, while anything that would actually inspire real love and trust is notably missing. In addition, the cutting aspect of the story, from which the title presumably comes, seems added only to show the main character is traumatized and suffering, whereas all of her other behavior, too much of which comes across as a bit selfish and shallow, portrays a rather immature, but otherwise normal, teenager. I guess the story might be appealing to readers looking for a "love" at first sight teen romance, but I doubt it would be for someone who is, like I was, looking for a ghost story, as there isn't much explanation of or logic to what little supernatural element it contains.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars "He was the only sanity in my otherwise crazy-ass world." ...Really?, October 25, 2013
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This review is from: The Deepest Cut (MacKinnon Curse novel Book 1) (Kindle Edition)
I bought this novel out of boredom one night, due to its cheap price (free, for Halloween), and the semi-interesting, guilty-pleasure story line. I read this book in about three days, and I have to say I can't help but feel a little duped. The fact that this book has an overall 4.6 stars is incredibly confusing to me. The novel showcases Riley, a sixteen year-old, left "reeling" after her mother's death (a plot point that ultimately seems to serve little purpose) and a move across the world to Scotland. But since the main character is actually rather dull and without depth, she was also given a couple more "interesting" qualities- how about a psychic medium who self-harms? Great!

I just... I don't even know where to begin. I knew I was in for an interesting read when I noticed Riley's tendency to focus on the physical appearance of herself and those around her; i.e., going into detail about how she tied her long, blonde hair into a ponytail and looked at her green eyes in the mirror. (Don't even get me started about Riley's thoughts when she sees Ian for the first time.) I understand that the author is trying to give us a decent mental image of how the characters look, but it almost always comes across as shallow, not to mention tangential. Also, the science behind a human-ghost relationship is practically nonexistent in this book. And you might say, "Well, duh; it IS nonexistent." But for a story like this, it's kind of necessary. For example, I'm still a tad confused as to how Riley could have walked right through Ian upon their first meeting, and yet later on, the two of them are having some fairly PG-13 makeout sessions without a problem. The logic behind this was never explained. AND FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THAT IS GOOD, WE KNOW IAN'S SMILE MAKES YOUR TOES CURL. We get it, you can stop talking about it. Honestly, I'm glad these two characters never got around to actually having sex; I'm not sure poor Riley would have been up to the task.

Overall, I'm incredibly disappointed with this book. The writing is pandering and sub-par, the characters have no depth and never actually change or grow. The main character falls in love with Ian almost immediately with no real explanation as to how or why, as well as several references to how he's made her a better person/changed her life for the better/etc. How? When? I see no difference between pre- and post-Ian Riley. There's almost no character development whatsoever, and what little there is is abrupt and unjustified. The cutting element of the story- which I assume is what inspired the title- is almost insultingly simplified and plays no significant role in the story or the characters. As I stated, it almost feels like an afterthought that was put in to try and add more dimensions to a lackluster main character. The plot is simple and straight-forward, with little to no surprises. I was almost hoping for something along the lines of Ian being the evil one all along, having an affair with Laria when he was young and then letting her take the blame. That wouldn't even have been a particularly interesting or unexpected plot twist, but it would have been something, at least. Instead we're left with a barely-even-there love interest (and I'm not talking about his occasionally ethereal presence. Honestly, who the hell is Ian anyway? What do I know about him? Why should I care about him, apart from the fact that he's a total hottie? I literally felt nothing when he "passed over," and even Riley only cried for four days before finding herself a new crush) and a villain who makes a few too many empty threats and is altogether more annoying than frightening. Top all that off with an ending reminiscent to that of "I Know What You Did Last Summer," and you've got yourself a waste of both time and money.
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14 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Deepest Cut, September 30, 2011
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This review is from: The Deepest Cut (MacKinnon Curse novel Book 1) (Kindle Edition)
4.5 Stars: I don't know if I've ever read a story involving ghosts on this level, they might have been mentioned in passing, but my experience with ghosts is minimal. This young adult novel, is one of the better ones I've read in a long time. It has creepy elements with the malevolent ghosts and of course the balance of the benevolent ghosts. It was odd that Riley and Ian had such a close relationship since he's dead but it was a good relationship for Riley to have. I didn't know where they would go with the cutting, self-mutilation, and I'm glad that the character wants to quit, it's such dangerous affliction and I hope that the young girls that read this understand the dangers in it. It wasn't taken to lightly and it was more of a background thought. I like the characters and I liked how Laria was described and she just made the book worth it, I loved that I got little goosebumps reading this. Of course this ends with a cliffhanger that you just gasp at (or dorky me gasps at) and I have no idea when the next one is. I think that if you like a good paranormal or ghost story (still young adult) this one is a good one.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Brooding Atmosphere, April 3, 2012
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This review is from: The Deepest Cut (MacKinnon Curse novel Book 1) (Kindle Edition)
I was tugged both ways throughout Deepest Cut. On the one hand I was in love with the Scottish scenery and Templeton's intriguing take on ghosts and life after death. I love the characterizations that are very clear and easy to understand but also complex enough to rise above a notch on my respect list.
I wish that it had been a lot meatier however. There was a lot of potential to dig deeper, to give more of Ian and Riley's relationship which I felt lacking. Ian was intriguing but also too distant a male lead for me to really love him.
Still The Deepest Cut was a worthwhile read and leaves you with the promise of more to come.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars I really wanted to like it..., April 5, 2013
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I realize I am not part of the target market, but I read a great deal of YA fiction because quite a bit of really solid writing has been coming out of that genre in recent years, especially the fantasy/dystopian/paranormal type (although I am SO over vampires that unless a book has an especially unusual hook like The Reformed Vampire Support Group I don't even bother). Many YA books are better than books written for the mainstream adult market. Sadly, this is not one of them; it had great potential and just did not live up to it.

Others have presented excellent discussions of the significant plotting and characterization inconsistencies, especially the ghosts' physical manifestation which is just crazy-making, so I won't reiterate those. (There's one scene, in which the "evil" ghost sticks Riley to the wall and hauls her up and down the walls and across the ceiling, that had me giggling instead of goose-bumpy... I guess I am showing my age in noticing the direct ripoff from one of the "Nightmare on Elm Street" movies.) There are plot holes big enough for an elephant parade - why should Riley distrust Ian, how is he "not what he seems" (other than being just a wee tad too perfect?), what happened before the last journal entry that finally sent Laria completely over the edge? Why on earth would the MacKinnon family keep any possessions of their son's murderer at all, not to mention carefully packed away in an easily accessible location (and WHY is the journal written in modern, fairly-well-educated English instead of that of the eighteenth century lower middle class)? I can only guess that these are supposed to be addressed, and, one hopes, resolved in the later volumes of the series but it's not a construction I care for - in my opinion, better series novels can each stand alone on their own merits while developing a larger story over the course of the series.

I disagree with other readers who claimed to see Riley's personal growth and emotional development over the course of the book... I found her just as shallow at the end as I did at the beginning, and the big dose of "deus ex machina" at the end did not help matters at all.

The author does fairly little to address the culture shock aspect of Riley's being picked up and dropped halfway across the world while still reeling from her mother's death, except that people drive on the wrong side of the road, the Internet connection is slow, and she doesn't like tea, even though the "fish out of water" angle could have been a very rich vein for Templeton to mine. After all, Riley is completely adrift - dead mother, absent father, substance-abusing brother - when she is plunked willy-nilly into this completely new situation, and yet somehow she and her brother drop almost seamlessly into the local teenage social scene, with instant buddies and invitations to parties and only token friction for Riley that's easily smoothed away. Too many of the characters are one-dimensional and "straight from Central Casting", such as the good-looking but boorish Johan, the cardboard-cutout father, the far-too-good-to-be-true housekeeper (almost a Scottish version of Alice from "The Brady Bunch"!), not to mention the "good ghost" and "evil ghost". The author seems to have done little research into the speech of northeastern Scotland, eliminating something that could have added a good deal of color and interest to the book, as well as an additional challenge for the main character to overcome.

What finally killed this book for me was the lack of basic proofreading. Many best-selling authors have appalling spelling and grammar skills (author blogs can reveal much more than the author ever intended!) which are typically cleaned up in the editing stage prior to publication. I realize that this is a self-published book and therefore the author lacks the resources of a conventional publishing house, but surely she could have found some English major at a local college who could have given it a read-through to catch even the most egregious errors like multiple uses of "shouldn't of" instead of "shouldn't have"? Many students would be thrilled to make a few dollars, or get some extra course credit, by proofreading a book for publication. How in heck did that make it past the four readers the author thanks in the closing acknowledgements? A free book does not need to mean a sloppy, amateurish book, especially if it's supposed to be a teaser for a series of paid books - it only reinforces the poor reputation of self-published books.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars :0), July 1, 2011
This review is from: The Deepest Cut (MacKinnon Curse novel Book 1) (Kindle Edition)
(May contain spoilers)
Review with a brief breakdown of characters.

If you're a fan of the tv shows Ghost Whisper, Medium and Vampire Diaries then you will love this book. It has a feel of Ghost Whisper and Medium because the heroine of the story is able to see and talk to ghosts. In addition, it has a feel of Vampire Diaries without the vampires, no vampires in this book. I say it's more a feel of that show in the aspect of the teenagers, witches, diaries, a crush on a guy whose old, and history coming full circle in the future/present.

Riley
Riley is the heroine of this book, she is also 16 years old. She also has the ability to see and talk to ghosts. Her mom died in a car accident that she was also in but survived. After the accident, her dad decided to take a new job in Scotland and move the family, which includes dad, Riley and Shane, which is Riley's brother in an old inn. Riley has to adjust to this new country and place where she has no friends as well as to keep the ghosts at bay because they do tend to follow her around and annoy her at times.

Shane
Riley's brother Shane is troubled by his mom's death. Great boy but Riley has to keep an eye on him. Riley and Shane's relationship was a bit strained after their mother's passing but throughout the book became better.

Ian MacKinnon
Ian is 19 years old and is the ghost that Riley is able to see and has fallen in love with. She will also help him against Laria another ghost to break a cruse that has him earth bound over the past 200 years. As much as Riley wants to help Ian but she is torn because she knows once she helps Ian to cross over she will never see him again.

Laria
Laria is the ghost that has been earth bound over 200 years as well with Ian. I don't want to give too much away with her connection with Ian but she was the one who has cursed him so long ago. I have to say as silly as this sounds what I'm about say, I read this book at night with the lights off and while I'm reading about Laria, that girl gave me the heebee geebees she scared me in certain parts of the book. I think the author did a good job with Laria, because she did what she set out to do, made her evil.

Kade MacKinnon
We don't get to read much about Kade until the end but he plays an important part that will be shown more in book 2 of this book. He is a teenager but the way the author described Kade makes him seem hot and dreamy. I almost didn't want it to end when he enter the picture.

As for the other characters of the book, they all played an important part. Megan who is becoming Riley's best friend, Anne Marie who is much older and is like Riley with her abilities, Miss Akin the maid for the Inn and other key players. Reading this book, I wasn't sure what to expect and didn't want it to be just another teen book. However, after reading this book, it engaged me and I find myself rooting for Riley and Ian. The ending when Kade enter the picture was very exciting for me, though we will have to wait on book 2 of the McKinnon curse to further explore Kade, Riley and of course Laria and the history that could repeat itself.

Storyline: GOOD
Enjoyment: GOOD
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Wasn't Deep & Didn't Make the Cut, January 26, 2014
This review is from: The Deepest Cut (MacKinnon Curse novel Book 1) (Kindle Edition)
The Deepest Cut has a lot to say. Self-harm, death of a parent, and substance abuse are real problems from a real world that readers can relate to. An isolating supernatural ability, romance with a non-human character, and an ages-long curse from an angry ghost are fictional ideas from which readers (myself included) often draw a lot of enjoyment.

With all of those opportunities to relate and all of those devices to enjoy, I should have liked Deeper more--and I wanted to--but it really missed the mark for me.

One of the major problems that quickly became obvious to me was the writing. Note: this was not some typo-filled rough draft; I didn't run into glaring errors distracting me from the story. The problem, rather, was that the writing was too unsophisticated. Templeton advises purchasers of her story that her audience is meant to be mature (noting subject matter). A mature audience might still find the writing style wanting. In addition to that, the story felt short, and not the kind of short where you don't know where the time has gone. It seemed the 357-page book was only 357 pages in large-print, Kindle-size pages--more novella length.

Keeping in mind the shortness of the novel, Templeton has a lot of pieces to attempt to fit in, and their brevity really leads to a lot of missed opportunities.

- First--the reveal of the protagonist's supernatural ability to see ghosts? No spoiler alert needed here: she (Riley) tells us outright on the third page with no ceremony or detail, quickly moving on and missing a chance to be engaging or at least amusing). Even though she shares this, we never find out why she can see these ghosts--just that she could after the car accident. We never find out exactly how it works--and neither does she. World design is an important aspect of fantasy/paranormal/supernatural fiction, and it just seemed to be lacking.
- The romance left something to be desired. I could see why some readers might enjoy it: the feelings come across as intense, and the physical chemistry--which is inexplicably possible between a ghost and human--is quite hot. There is, unfortunately, a two-part trip-up in the romantic arena. First, Riley and Ian suffer from the literary affliction (and personal pet peeve) known as insta-love. And second, poor Ian has been doubly unfortunate: he's not only a ghost but he's also an all-too-common trope: a paranormal boy-toy compared to a male model and described by his 'piercing' eyes or equally sharp cheekbones. I always think a romance is steamier if it's believable.
- The villain was all bark and no bite for too long, and after Riley's third death threat, I couldn't help saying aloud, "Are you even able to kill her?" There was a problem with believability and consistency throughout the novel, and not just with the antagonist.
- Riley's brother is portrayed as a drug user in the story, but it's treated so lightly that it could have been scrapped. There is a lot of understandable family angst, but with a story this short, I think a topic with meat should be explored or not used. It was touched on so lightly that it almost seemed that Riley condoned her brother's behavior--not really a healthy stance, even accidentally, in a YA novel.
- Self-harm was another topic that I believe wasn't given its due. It almost came across as a window dressing--something to set the novel apart and add a new angle (not to mention a title) without having a real discussion about it. I don't think it's appropriate for cutting to have been a title topic and an alleged big part of the story...when it really wasn't. We don't hear about Riley getting help (outside of ghostly interference), and we probably should. It's another missed opportunity, and readers hoping to relate would probably be disappointed in the topic's treatment.

I would be remiss if I didn't mention, though, that I give Templeton kudos on her handling of the death of a parent, for the most part. Riley's grief is, at times, palpable, and you feel for her.

This was not, overall, a book I'd recommend. It had possibilities; it was more or less just not fleshed out and could have used the help of an editor or beta-reader working on style and not just typos. Deepest is the first book of the MacKinnon Curse series. If I didn't have a to-read list so big that I will realistically never complete it, I could see myself, if I were mildly bored, picking up the next book in the series.

The story, after all, isn't bad: it's all in the telling.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Just... awful, May 8, 2013
This book had no redeeming qualities. The plot was thin, predictable, and lacked complexity. The characters were flat and unlikable, with few sincere human qualities. The sense of the (Scottish) setting was unconvincing-- consisting as it did of a few "yehs" and "lasses" thrown into the awful, stilted dialogue. And the prose was stiff, lacking any lyricism at all.

The only pleasure I took from this novel was in finally putting it down. I am truly baffled that this got such a high rating.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Really?, November 28, 2012
This review is from: The Deepest Cut (MacKinnon Curse novel Book 1) (Kindle Edition)
I wanted to like it. I really did. But the cutting was disturbing and the thirteen year old brother's pot smoking combined with a ghost story that isn't much of a story at all just left me wanting the last two hours of my life back. I feel sorry for the teens who read this! Who the heck are the five star reviewers? None of them even mention the cutting or pot. Way inappropriate for teens imo.
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