Book Reviews

Due to my extreme lack of free time, I sadly cannot accept any more book review requests at this time. Exception to the rule: if you send me a hard copy of your book, I will happily read and review it (My tablet is forever running out of batteries, but hard copy books don’t have batteries!). If you choose to take advantage of this exception, email me at michellishelli@gmail.com and I’ll send you my mailing address. Oh, and I should probably mention that I read YA / sci-fi / fantasy pretty much exclusively, so if your book doesn’t fall into those genres, you should probably look for a different reviewer!

Note: All reviews below can also be found under the “Book Reviews” category.

«»     «»     «»     «»     «»     «»     «»     «»     «»     «»     «»     «»     «»     «»     «»     «»     «»     «»     «»

The Book

Runaway Smile (read for free here)

The Genre

Children’s Fiction

The Author

Nicholas C. Rossis: avid reader, web developer, architect by training, holder of a PhD in Digital Architecture from the University of Edinburgh. Author of the epic fantasy series Pearseus and the sci-fi short story collection The Power of Six, all Amazon best-sellers.

The Plot

A little boy wakes up in the morning and realizes he has lost his smile. After spending the entire day trying to find it, he learns the truth behind smiles: the only real smiles are the shared ones.

The Review

I adored this book. It’s short, it’s sweet, and the illustrations are gorgeous. It’s not just a kid’s book, either — the story is packed full of random hilarious details, like the fact that the boy’s dog is a legitimate superhero who wears glasses at home ala Clark Kent and then puts on his superhero costume and runs off to save the city while his master is at school. And the message is just really sweet — only real smiles are the ones that can be shared. The best kid’s book I’ve read in a long time — would definitely recommend!

The Rating

5 out of 5 smiles!

 

Click here to visit Nicholas C. Rossis’s website! And here’s the Amazon link. Happy reading!

«»     «»     «»     «»     «»     «»     «»     «»     «»     «»     «»     «»     «»     «»     «»     «»     «»     «»     «»

The Booksavingsaffronsweeting

Saving Saffron Sweeting

The Genre

Contemporary Romance

The Author

Pauline Wiles. British by birth, Pauline moved to California eight years ago and, apart from a yearning for afternoon tea and historic homes, has never looked back. Her work has been published by House of Fifty, Open Exchange, and Alfie Dog Fiction. Saving Saffron Sweeting is her first novel.

The Plot

Grace Palmer’s British friends all think she’s living the American Dream. But her design business is floundering and when she discovers her husband is cheating with her best client, she panics and flees home to England.

The tranquil village of Saffron Sweeting appears to be a good place for Grace to lick her wounds, but the community is battling its own changes. Reluctantly, Grace finds herself helping her new neighbours as they struggle to adjust and save their businesses. However, not everyone has the same opinion on what’s good for the village. The charismatic new man in her life may have one speculative eye on Grace, but the other is firmly on profit. How will she navigate the tricky path between her home and her happiness?

The Review

This was a cute little romance with fun characters, a great and engaging setting, and an extraordinarily satisfying conclusion. I had a wonderful time following Grace through the trials and tribulations of pulling her life back together, navigating her various romantic entanglements, and saving her new home from the ravages of modern industry. Grace is witty, and feisty, and just a delightful protagonist in general. The cast of supporting characters were entertaining and well rounded, making for an engrossing read.

The titular Saffron Sweeting is where most of the book takes place, and the author describes it exquisitely. I could picture myself sitting outside the bakery sipping Earl Gray tea and munching on a sausage roll with Grace, or walking up the twisting, tree-lined path to her little cottage in the middle of nowhere. This is one of those books where the setting becomes a character all its own.

All in all, a quick, fun, romantic read. Fire up your kettle, select your tea bag, and cuddle up with this book today!

The Rating

5 out of 5 stars.

 

Click here to visit the author’s website and learn more about Saving Saffron Sweeting!

«»     «»     «»     «»     «»     «»     «»     «»     «»     «»     «»     «»     «»     «»     «»     «»     «»     «»     «»

The Bookcastkinners book

Catskinner’s Book

The Genre

Science fiction / urban fantasy

The Author

Misha Burnett

The Plot

James Ozryck has a monster in his head.

All of his life the entity that he calls Catskinner has made him a fugitive, afraid to get too close to anyone, afraid to stay in one place for too long. Catskinner kills, without compassion and without warning, and is very good at it.

Now James has learned that Catskinner is not the only monster in the world, a world that has suddenly become a far stranger and more dangerous place than he imagined. In order to survive, he will have to become something more than a monster — he will have to learn what it means to be human.

The Review

I LOVED this book! It’s short, it’s sweet, it’s violent, it’s sexy, it’s intriguing … A+ all around! The world Burnett’s created is absolutely fascinating, and totally unlike anything I’ve read before — I honestly don’t know where he comes up with this stuff!

The protagonist, James, is enthralling — he’s a curious mix of beleaguered every-man, jailkeeper to a vicious alien entity, lonely man just trying to find his place in the world, and hired hitman. It’s bizarre. It’s wonderful.

I’m trying to think if there’s anything I didn’t like … I think the only thing that threw me was Godiva’s evolution as a character (Godiva being the love interest). When she first shows up, she comes across as extraordinarily vacuous. But by the time you get to the end of the book, she’s brilliant, resourceful, and deviously clever. It made a certain amount of sense, but I would have liked more of a gradual transition or explanation.

I highly recommend Catskinner’s Book. If you’re at all a fan of science fiction — or even urban fantasy! — I suggest you give it a try. It doesn’t fit neatly into one genre box, but … well, read it and you’ll see how great it is!

The Rating

5 out of 5 stars

«»     «»     «»     «»     «»     «»     «»     «»     «»     «»     «»     «»     «»     «»     «»     «»     «»     «»     «»

The Novella Stone Kingdom Cover, front

The Stone Kingdom (Book Two of the Wilderhark Tales)

The Genre

Fairy tale / Fantasy

The Author

Danielle E. Shipley

The Plot

One thoughtless act is all it takes to bring the curse threatened on Rosalba’s christening day to pass. Now the princess must combine her desperate determination with the service of benevolent tailor Edgwyn Wyle to find the second half of the key to her kingdom’s restoration.

The Review

This was a short, sweet, and delightful novella. The heroine, Rosalba, is everything a princess should be — kind, beautiful, caring, and rather feisty on top of that. She falls into the classic fairy tale trap of doing something she really shouldn’t, and the kingdom pays the price for her mistake. Luckily, help arrives in the form of the chubby but helpful tailor Edgwyn — an endearing young man who is probably my favourite character in the story. He’s everything you want in a fairy tale prince, minus the rock-hard abs and … well, being a prince. But he’s kind, and generous, and their love story was so fun to watch unfold.

As this was the second novella in the series, and I hadn’t read the first, I was expecting to be hopelessly confused, but that wasn’t the case at all — this novella stands on its own as a separate story. I could tell from the way certain parts were written, and the inclusion of a couple of chapters that struck me as being rather irrelevant to the story, that these were put in to tie this novella into the existing series and please fans of characters from the first novella. As a new reader, I found that a bit irksome, but hey, I can hardly fault a book in a series for being part of a series!

Aside from that, I found this novella to be a charming and excellent read. Shipley is obvious well-read in fairy tale lore, because she draws a lot on common fairy tale tropes (evil fairy curse, princess trapped in tower, etc.), but she puts her own spin on them, which makes for a really enjoyable read. I would definitely recommend this story to any fairy tale fans out there!

The Rating

Five out of five stars!

Check out The Stone Kingdom here!

«»     «»     «»     «»     «»     «»     «»     «»     «»     «»     «»     «»     «»     «»     «»     «»     «»     «»     «»

The Bookconstructofangels

A Construct of Angels

The Genre

Urban Fantasy

The Author

Andrew Toynbee has been writing in various genres since he was eleven years old, including publishing articles in various specialist magazines. After his first novel attempt became too big and unwieldy to manage, he changed tack and, in 2009, began work on A Construct of Angels.

The Plot

After accidentally triggering the spontaneous resurrection of a dead student, an ordinarily routine day for York-based paramedic Sara Finn erupts into a series of events that propel her on a terrifying journey, promising to forever change her pragmatic opinions of life and death. Sara finds herself caught in the crossfire between warring forces, powerful beyond human comprehension, that threaten to plunge civilization into hellish chaos and eternal darkness.

The Review

I quite enjoyed this book. The main character, Sara Finn (a pun on “seraphim”, which I love!), is feisty and determined and a great heroine in general. She has to deal with all sorts of unimaginable horrors over the six days leading up to the possible-Apocalypse, and even though the big bad guy goes so far as to invade her dreams and mess with her head, she stays strong and doesn’t bend to his will (well, not when it matters, anyway!).

I really loved the start of this book — a dark star driving people crazy, zombies rising from their graves, etc. It was a very cool concept, and I felt very grounded in her messed-up world. As the story progressed, I got a bit lost in what was happening; the book is quite long, and I feel the story lost its focus in the middle. The ending, however, was appropriately apocalyptic, and featured some great scenes (dancing zombies!) that effortlessly pulled me back into the story and the explosive finale.

A long read, but a good one if you’re a fan of urban fantasy or the angels vs. demons concept!

The Rating

4 out of 5 stars.

 

Click here to check out A Construct of Angels!

Click here to visit Andrew Toynbee’s blog!

«»     «»     «»     «»     «»     «»     «»     «»     «»     «»     «»     «»     «»     «»     «»     «»     «»     «»     «»

The Bookleather to the corinthians

Leather to the Corinthians

The Genre

Satire

The Author

Tom Lucas was born and raised in Detroit, and although currently enjoying the lack of snow and ice in Florida, remains a son of the post-industrial apocalypse. Throughout his childhood, Tom found solace in comic books, Star Wars action figures, movies, cartoons, and video games. His passion for story has carried him through his adult life. Tom is a college professor, author, blogger, poet, book reviewer, and spoken word performer. When not writing, Tom likes to drive fast and take chances.

The Plot

The General and his clown army are determined to defeat the King, mad ruler of the Village, who only cares about celebrity status and bling. The story follows several characters, with the main protagonist (sort of) being a young soldier in the General’s army who fights to survive the melee, losing his humanity along the way.

The Review

This was an interesting satire of American culture that had me alternatively laughing out loud and cringing. I really enjoyed the depiction of several major fast food corporations as actual military forces battling it out for control of the hapless citizens of the Village. The General’s clown army and his hellish Necro-crofts fascinated me, as did the church of the Big Red J — basically what happens when you combine religion with comic book enthusiasts. I found the church of the Big Red J both hilarious and brilliant — and it also unnerved me a bit, because it sounded like an awesome religion to me, even though it’s clearly not supposed to be!

The writing style is fascinating — Lucas writes as if he’s a televangelist, which, considering the concept of this book, is I think a really great choice on his part. Because of the writing style, I sometimes found the book a bit exhausting to read, as it’s quite intense.

I have two major gripes with this book. One is the editing — I found a lot of spelling/grammatical errors, which detracted from the reading experience for me. I was also annoyed by the lack of female characters. About 95% of the characters are men, and the only female characters (at least, from what I recall) are sex-crazed (or having to do with sex in general). I assume this was part of the satire — that the media paints women as sexual objects and nothing more, etc. etc. But as a female reader, I guess I was looking for something … morewith the female characters.

All in all, a fun read — not a book for the faint of heart, but definitely one you might enjoy if you’re a fan of political/social satire!

The Rating

4 out of 5 stars

 

Check out the book here: http://readtomlucas.com/

«»     «»     «»     «»     «»     «»     «»     «»     «»     «»     «»     «»     «»     «»     «»     «»     «»     «»     «»

The Bookfriendshipofmortals

The Friendship of Mortals

The Genre

Literary Fiction / Sci-fi / Fantasy

The Author

Audrey Driscoll – a librarian and cataloguer, gardener and writer. She discovered the writings of H.P. Lovecraft many years ago, and after reading his story “Herbert West, Reanimator”, she began to wonder about Herbert – what motivated him to reanimate corpses? And thus the Herbert West trilogy began!

The Plot

Herbert West can revivify the dead – after a fashion. He persuades Miskatonic University librarian and aspiring alchemist Charles Milburn to help him, but risks their friendship for the sake of his experiments. When West prepares to cross the ultimate border, only Charles can save his life – if his conscience lets him.

The Review

The cover of this book does not do the story justice. This was one of the most fascinating and thought-provoking stories I have ever read. It’s told from the perspective of mild-mannered archivist Charles Millburn, but the real story revolves around the incredibly fascinating, mysterious Herbert West and his necromantic attempts. I absolutely loved this setup – Herbert West’s story became so much more intriguing when viewed through the eyes of another. This is definitely what the author intended when she wrote this gorgeous piece of literature, and I feel she pulled it off beautifully.

Herbert West alarmed, enchanted, and terrified me all at once. He is ruthless in his ambitions, confident that he will not be discovered, and willing to do whatever it takes to get his way. He should have been the villain of the piece but, perhaps because the story is told through his loyal follower Charles Millburn, I was instead sympathetic for him, and wanted him to succeed despite the fact that what he was doing was morally questionable at best.

The only complaint I can really make is that I felt the story dragged in places. The first half of the story was absolutely gripping, but once the characters separate and go their own ways for a bit, I wasn’t quite as enthralled – although once they get back together, the story picks up pace again.

Overall, a gripping and fascinating insight into a brilliant and disturbed mind (Herbert West, not the author!). I would definitely recommend this to any fan of H.P. Lovecraft, fans of sci-fi/fantasy, and anyone who just enjoys excellently written literature.

The Rating

5 out of 5 stars

Click here to visit Audrey Driscoll’s blog.

Click here to check out the book (currently free to download!)

«»     «»     «»     «»     «»     «»     «»     «»     «»     «»     «»     «»     «»     «»     «»     «»     «»     «»     «»

The Bookcan't live without cover

Can’t Live Without

The Genre

Women’s Fiction

The Author

Joanne Phillips

The Plot

Stella Hill is proud of the home she’s created for herself and her daughter. She’s worked hard to buy the very best of everything … but when she wakes one morning to find her kitchen on fire, Stella knows her life will never be the same again. At least she has Paul to lean on; Paul Smart, owner of Smart Homes, confirmed bachelor and unknowing recipient of a schoolgirl crush Stella never quite got over …

When the charismatic John Dean turns up after sixteen years, Stella is determined not to fall for him again. Because now her heart belongs elsewhere. Or does it? With a boss she’s half in love with, a teenage daughter about to go seriously off the rails, a spendaholic mother, and a house to rebuild, Stella’s problems are only just beginning.

Can Stella put her life – and her home – back together again? And will she ever realise just what it is she really can’t live without?

The Review

This was an exceptionally fun read. The main character, Stella, is totally incapable of managing her own life or keeping her daughter in line, and watching her fumble her way from one situation to the next was extremely entertaining. But while I would usually find myself irritated with such a character (who on Earth doesn’t buy home insurance and then accidentally burns their house down?), Stella is so quirky and full of life that I found myself cheering for her from start to finish.

I wasn’t a huge fan of the romance — I guess I had trouble connecting with either of the gentlemen involved in Stella’s love triangle — but I really enjoyed her interactions with her daughter. Stella is a terrible mother who tries really hard to understand her daughter, despite the fact that she doesn’t have a clue what’s going on in her life. It was quite endearing.

One thing I found very odd about this book was the point of view. It’s mainly in first person from Stella’s POV, but at random times it switches to a third person POV from other characters’ perspectives. I did get used to it after a while, but I still found the POV jumps a little jarring.

In conclusion, I found this to be a great self-published novel with excellent editing, a moving storyline, an amusing protagonist, and lots of fun family drama. Highly recommend!

The Rating

5 out of 5 stars

Click here to visit Joanne’s blog.

Click here to check out her book.

«»     «»     «»     «»     «»     «»     «»     «»     «»     «»     «»     «»     «»     «»     «»     «»     «»     «»     «»

The Booka_sense_of_light_or__cover_for_kindle

A Sense of Light or Darkness

The Genre

Poetry

The Author

Lizbeth was born and raised in Las Vegas, where she graduated from UNLV with an English degree in 2010. She loves to write, her favourite colour is brown, and her main forms of entertainment are video games and movies. Several of her poems have won awards and been published in both print and audio collections.

The Plot

Since it’s poetry, it doesn’t really have a plot. All the poems do, however, have something to do with either light, or darkness, or both — hence the title of the collection!

The Review

The poems in this collection are beautiful. The imagery is at times haunting, at times ethereal. I love the theme of these poems — light and darkness. It’s very Kingdom Hearts (video game), which the poet mentions in the preface was one of her inspirations. I’m not a huge poetry fan, but I definitely enjoyed reading this collection.

Several of the poems in this collection really stick out in my mind — namely, Full Moon, Shadows, and The Tower Window. My favourite is definitely The Tower Window – it’s creepy, it’s intriguing, and I feel like there’s some moral to the tale, although I can’t imagine what it might be. I love when a poem really evokes emotion in you, and tells a story that you remember long after you’ve read it. That’s what The Tower Window did for me.

The Rating

4 out of 5 stars for the collection as a whole ( but 5 out of 5 for those three poems I mentioned!)

Check out Lizbeth’s blog here.

«»     «»     «»     «»     «»     «»     «»     «»     «»     «»     «»     «»     «»     «»     «»     «»     «»     «»     «»

The Book

The Crimson League (Book One in the Herezoth Trilogy)

The Genre

Fantasy

The Author

Victoria is a New Orleans girl, born and raised, with an appreciation for the charm of the Deep South. She has a bachelor’s degree in Spanish and English and a master’s degree in Spanish literature, all from the University of Alabama. She started college as a journalism major and worked a year as a staff reporter for the Alabama student newspaper, “The Crimson White.” That experience that helped her realize, once and for all, that her love for writing lay with fiction. She started enrolling in creative writing classes the following semester.

The Plot

What would you do if you were seventeen, a woodworker’s daughter, and your kingdom’s sorcerer/dictator was determined to see you dead?

Join Kora Porteg in the kingdom of Herezoth as she aids her homeland’s organized resistance. Opposing the sorcerer who slew the royal family, Kora soon discovers she’s a sorceress herself, as well as the unwitting subject of an old and often mocked legend. Though she accepts she can have no place in Herezoth after civil war should end, she fights alongside the usurper’s sister, a thief, a scholar, two telekinetic brothers, and other members of the group that calls itself the Crimson League. As their prospects deteriorate, the League has no choice but to make a final stand against its foe and the army that supports him.

The Review

I enjoyed this book, although I do admit I have mixed feelings toward it. I definitely enjoyed the magic system presented in the book — shouting magic words and making awesome things happen is a hallmark of the fantasy genre. I loved the villain, Zalski. I thought he was suave, and clever, and weirdly honourable despite him being totally evil, and if he hadn’t killed so many people I would have wanted him to succeed and become supreme dictator. His motives are very real, very complex, and he was all around a great antagonist. Kora (the protagonist) was feisty, which I liked, and by the end of it she was doing pretty much whatever she wanted, and to heck with anyone who got in the way. I wish more female protagonists were like this! And there were some really excellent scenes that I’ll remember for years to come.

Now for the things I didn’t like so much. This one is purely personal taste, but I would have liked more romance in the book. Romance is brought up a few times, but it never felt … real for me. More like it was added as an afterthought. I’m sure it wasn’t, of course, but that’s what I took away from it. The other thing that struck me as a bit odd was that, when reading the book, I kept reaching the end of conflicts and thinking, “This pretty much wraps up the current plot arc, this must be the end of the book”. Except then I would look at my little progress bar at the bottom of my eReader and discover I was barely 25% through the book. I think a lot of that had to do with the fact that the plot is very undulating. Instead of having a slowly building rising action, it kind of goes lull, dramatic moment, lull, dramatic moment, lull, etc. Things got a bit more intense when people started dying off like flies, but overall … I don’t know, I feel like this novel could have been split into two books, and then the author could have added more character development or something to flesh out the world more.

In conclusion, The Crimson League was a fairly slow yet entertaining read in the tradition of classic swords and sorcery fantasy.

The Rating

4 out of 5 stars

Check out Victoria’s site here.

«»     «»     «»     «»     «»     «»     «»     «»     «»     «»     «»     «»     «»     «»     «»     «»     «»     «»     «»

The Book

28 Shades of Black

The Genre

Humor/Drama/Erotica/Suspense/Thriller/Mystery

The Author

Sahm Ataine King is a poet, aspiring novelist, and graphic designer and has been in love with the written word since his exposure to the Science Fiction/Fantasy and Poetry genres at a young age. He has self-published two poetry collections, “The Grey Muse” and “L’aria Onyx“, along with his first novel, “28 Shades of Black”. He lives on the planet Earth and hopes to one day expand his horizons by travelling the world and learning of cultures beyond the confines of the internet.

The Plot

Dominick Black is a man with a problem: an insatiable sexual appetite coupled with a lack of inhibition.

When Black is informed by his boss that he has to take care of his over-active libido issue or lose his job, he reluctantly agrees to do what he must. What could it hurt?

From the unrelenting and murderous infatuations of a man he thought he knew, and the revelations of a past he thought was long buried, Dominick Black is in for one wild, hot, and disturbing ride.

The Review

This book was … strange. But in a good way! Also in a confusing way. It started out feeling like a parody/humour book, but then, as they say, s**t got real. The shift was totally unexpected, but in a weird way it totally works within the context of the story.

The main character, Dominick Black, is hilarious. It was so refreshing to read about him, because his character is one that I’ve never encountered before. Everything about his life is so different from mine that it was like looking into another world entirely. He’s smart, he’s gutsy … and his very peculiar method of introduction had me giggling every time I read it.

I do wish the book had been a little longer. Dominick’s relationship with his psychologist is sweet, but I felt that it developed a little too rapidly to be entirely plausible. And I would have liked the antagonist to get a bit more screen time, so I could have gotten more of a chance to suss out his motives.

All that being said, I really enjoyed the book, despite it being the total opposite of what I usually read. It baffled me from start to finish, and I had a blast reading it. Well done, Mr. King!

NOTE: This book has a lot of cursing and sexy time (some of the sexy time is disturbing and non-consensual), so read at your own risk.

The Rating

5 out of 5 stars

Check out the book here.

«»     «»     «»     «»     «»     «»     «»     «»     «»     «»     «»     «»     «»     «»     «»     «»     «»     «»     «»

The Bookwater-cover-image_final1

Water (Book One in the Akasha Series)

The Genre

Eco-Fantasy

The Author

Terra Harmony served a 5 1/2 year enlistment in the Marine Corp, and has a bachelor’s degree in International Relations and a master’s degree in Linguistics. She lives in a suburb of Washington, DC, with her husband and three children.

The Plot

When Kaitlyn Alder is involuntarily introduced to a life of magic, she becomes part of an organization hell-bent on saving the Earth. Just as her new-found life holds promises of purpose, romance, and friendship, the organization divides and a rogue member holds Kaitlyn hostage. Now one of the most terrifying men the human race has to offer stands between her and Earth’s survival.

Warning: Contains mature content and sexual situations (some non-consensual). Reader discretion is advised.

The Review

Water is a well-written and engaging eco-adventure romance that kept me intrigued from start to finish. I very much enjoyed the pro-environmental conservation message of the novel . You can tell that the author feels very strongly about this subject, and it is showcased beautifully in her writing. I also liked that the magic system was based somewhat off of scientific principles, which grounded the fantasy element of the story and made it seem less far fetched that magic like that could exist in this day and age.

My main qualm was with the protagonist, Kaitlyn. I felt that she under-reacted to a very evident threat early on in the book, to the extent that it was almost unbelievable. And then she–and every other character in the book–continued to underestimate that threat until the betrayal inevitably occurred and it was too late for her to take any action to save herself. This is not to say I didn’t understand why she acted that way, but as a reader it frustrated me, and as a result I had trouble connecting with the protagonist and feeling sorry for her.

Qualms aside, Water was a fascinating book, and one that I will definitely pick up again in the future.

The Rating

4 stars out of 5

Check out the book here!

«»     «»     «»     «»     «»     «»     «»     «»     «»     «»     «»     «»     «»     «»     «»     «»     «»     «»     «»

The Book

“Acceptance”

The Genre

Urban Fantasy

The Author

Keri Peardon

The Plot

For more than two thousand years, a small community of humans has lived in harmony with vampires, giving their blood and obedience in exchange for protection. When Kalyn Reid comes of age and pledges herself to the vampires, she has no reason to worry. She’s paired with Anselm for her training, and she couldn’t ask for a kinder, more patient mentor. She also couldn’t ask for anyone better-looking.

But before she has a chance to learn her new responsibilities—or get a date—her idyllic life goes up in flames. Without warning, humans and vampires in her group are murdered by a strange new type of vampire, and the few survivors are forced to flee. Anselm and his brother, Micah, vow to hunt down the murderer, and they take Kalyn with them, thinking she’ll be safer with them. But when the killer finds them first, they must rely on Kalyn if any of them are to survive.

The Review

loved this book. I was a bit worried when I heard it was a vampire story, as I’ve read some terrible vampire books just trying to jump on the Twilight bandwagon, but Acceptance is absolutely fantastic. Keri presents her readers with a new, unexpectedly religious take on vampires that hooked me in from page one, and if not for my need to sleep and work, I wouldn’t have put it down.

Kalyn is a wonderful protagonist—smart, funny, and, above all, gutsy. I loved reading about her interactions with Anselm, because she actually reacts the way a 16-year-old girl would act in the presence of her immortal crush. She’s awkward, she stammers, she says stupid things … and that made the story so much more believable and relatable for me as a result.

The plot is fairly linear, but nevertheless enjoyable. I was actually really impressed by how unafraid Keri was to kill off her characters. Seriously, they drop like flies. It reminded me of Game of Thrones, except with less incest, and more vampires.

Anyway, I thought Acceptance was a great read, and would definitely recommend it to anyone who enjoys teen romance and vampires. Even if you don’t, give it a try. It may surprise you!

The Rating

5 out of 5 stars

Click here to visit Keri Peardon’s blog.

Click here to purchase Acceptance.

«»     «»     «»     «»     «»     «»     «»     «»     «»     «»     «»     «»     «»     «»     «»     «»     «»     «»     «»

The Book

“Once Upon a Remembrance”

The Genre

Romance

The Author

Grace Brannigan

The Plot

Photographer Isabeau Remington is transported to 1894, where she falls in love with a man she must ultimately leave behind when she returns to her own time. But things are not always as they seem, and Hawk Morgan has a secret. Someone is trying to kill him, and a prior attack has left him with no memories to defend himself against his mystery assailant. Isabeau must protect the man she loves, all the while knowing that at any moment she could return to her own time and leave him alone to face down his would-be murderer.

The Review

I really enjoyed this book. It had everything I like in a story – romance, a hint of the supernatural (time travel), a strong heroine, a dashing hero, a mystery assassin, poofy dresses, etc. The protagonist, Isabeau, was a perfect mix between confident, independent woman, and swooning damsel in distress. Not that she did a lot of swooning; usually she was the one saving Hawk (the leading man).

In terms of plot, it was fast-paced, intriguing, and had a few twists that I definitely didn’t see coming (although hints are dropped, if you pay enough attention). I found myself cheering Isabeau on as she struggled to navigate 19th century society. The love scenes were very tastefully done, and nothing R-rated was shown, but I had no trouble feeling the passion and heat the two characters were sharing.

I found a few typos, and a fun mix-up between the words “descendant” and “ancestor”, but other than that, it was a smooth read. It’s been a while since I read something in the romance genre, so this was an enjoyable return for me. In conclusion, I found Once Upon a Remembrance to be a great read, and I’d definitely recommend it to anyone who is a fan of romance novels.

The Rating

5 out of 5 stars

http://www.gracebrannigan.com/

«»     «»     «»     «»     «»     «»     «»     «»     «»     «»     «»     «»     «»     «»     «»     «»     «»     «»     «»

The Book

“The Deadly Mark”

The Genre

Historical Fiction

The Author

Katherine Nader was raised in Lebanon, then moved to Canada in 2004. She is currently studying Biology, English, and Professional Writing at the University of Toronto.

The Plot

Threatened by the desires of dangerous men who see her as nothing more than a pawn in their games of power, Princess Kathleen finds herself coveted by a cruel prince who is determined to marry her at all costs. Her only ally is Eden, a man hired by her father to keep her safe. But how can Eden protect her, when the person who wants to harm her most is Kathleen herself?

The Review

If you put all the politics and courtly intrigue aside, The Deadly Mark is basically the story of a tormented princess who turns to suicide in order to escape the machinations of the various overbearing males trying to control her life. I enjoyed following Kathleen’s story, because her self-destructive nature, coupled with her questionable decision-making skills, gets her into all sorts of sticky situations. Kathleen is a very empathetic character, and it’s easy to sympathize with this girl who is manipulated by everyone around her. I also enjoyed the character of Eden, the loyal guardsman, because he truly has his work cut out for him keeping Kathleen from offing herself at every available opportunity.

My two main issues with this novel were the length, and the point of view. The book is fast-paced, which is good, but it moves so quickly, and the setting descriptions are so sparse, that I had trouble keeping track of where the characters were, and why they were doing what they were doing. So I would have definitely liked to see more description—Kathleen is a princess, after all! A few mentions of “soaring archways”, or “golden chandelliers”, or whatever would have definitely helped immerse me in the world. The other problem I had was with the POV.The Deadly Mark is written in omniscient third person, which means that you can see into every character’s head. This takes a lot of the mystery away, because you already know what everyone is thinking.

These issues aside, I did enjoy reading The Deadly Mark, mostly because Kathleen and all her foibles greatly amused me. It’s pretty good for a debut novel, and I have high hopes for the author in her future writing endeavours.

The Rating

4 out of 5 stars

«»     «»     «»     «»     «»     «»     «»     «»     «»     «»     «»     «»     «»     «»     «»     «»     «»     «»     «»

The Novella

The Last Golden Dragon

The Genre

Fantasy/Romance

The Author

Keri Peardon graduated from Hollins University in Roanoke, VA in 2001 with a B.A. in History and a strong background in creative writing. She is a life-long resident of Tennessee and is currently employed as a legal assistant to a private-practice attorney. In addition to writing, she is active in medieval re-enacting and does too many handicrafts.

The Plot

Aine, a young Irish peasant girl, is looking for the last golden dragon. Whilst wandering about the mountains, she meets a handsome man named Eammon, who offers to take her to the dragon’s lair.

The Review

I thought this was a quick, sweet little love story. And the ending was adorable! I had great fun following Aine into the dragon’s cave and experiencing the adventure with her. Eammon was delightfully enigmatic, and his banter with Aine was quite funny. My one issue with this novella is that I saw the big plot reveal coming from literally the first page. Maybe I’ve just read too many fantasy stories, so I knew what was going to happen long before it did. Regardless, I definitely enjoyed The Last Golden Dragon, and recommend it to anyone looking for a light, romantic read.

The Rating

4 out of 5 stars

«»     «»     «»     «»     «»     «»     «»     «»     «»     «»     «»     «»     «»     «»     «»     «»     «»     «»     «»

The Novella

The Widow

The Genre

Romantic Drama

The Plot

Ever since her husband died, Carol has been cooped up in her house. Her best friend solves this problem by signing her up for creative writing classes at the local community college. After her first class, Carol runs into a handsome local artist named Daniel, who offers her both coffee and sympathy. They begin to meet every week after her writing class, and eventually Daniel asks Carol to model for his next painting.  She accepts, and he proves to be the perfect balm for her wounded heart.

The Review

loved this story. Unlike most romances, this one actually had a legitimate plot that kept me flipping the virtual pages to find out what happened next. I loved the author’s descriptions of the painting/modelling scenes. I could easily imagine Carol there in Daniel’s studio, posing silently as he brought her to life on the canvas with each brush stroke. Their romance is gradual, believable, and just wonderful to read.

The Rating

5 stars out of 5

«»     «»     «»     «»     «»     «»     «»     «»     «»     «»     «»     «»     «»     «»     «»     «»     «»     «»     «»

The Book

Poetry of a Madman

The Genre

Poetry

The Author

I don’t know much about Jason, so instead I will quote the blurb on his WordPress blog: “Short stories, rants, poetry, unfinished novels, and look! Cows!”

The Plot

It’s a book of poetry. It doesn’t have a plot. Sheesh.

Basically, it’s a collection of poems, most of them by Jason, with the first section devoted to guest poets.

The Review

Poetry of a Madman was a very interesting read. My experience with poetry is mostly limited to what I read in English class, so I didn’t have any expectations going in. And I was quite impressed with what I found.

Many of the poems are about serious topics — current issues, the human state, etc. — but there are also a selection of more light-hearted pieces that really drew me in. One of my favourite poems was “i am, part one”, which Jason wrote years ago, lost, and is now trying to recreate. I loved the cadence of the poem and the imagery he used — when I read it, I found myself kind of singing along in my head. I think this poem would make an excellent song.

Another favourite was “digital heartache”. I don’t want to give away too much, but to give you a taste of the awesome:

“my farmville crop is sprouting weeds

these angry birds have too many needs

my mafia family has ceased to get paid

and my warcraft warrior never gets laid”

The book has a lovely blend of poetry. There are sad poems, happy poems, quirky poems, funny poems, and thought-provoking poems. I’m a bubbly person by nature, so I enjoyed the funny/quirky ones the most. But overall I thought Poetry of a Madman was a great poetry collection, and I definitely recommend it to all you poetry lovers out there.

The Rating

4 out of 5 stars

«»     «»     «»     «»     «»     «»     «»     «»     «»     «»     «»     «»     «»     «»     «»     «»     «»     «»     «»

The Book

“Be Still”

The Genre

Romantic Drama

The Author

Tania L. Ramos. This is her second novel, which is self-published through iUniverse. Check out her blog and her website for more information!

The Plot

Plastic surgeon Jack Silver thinks his life is perfect – until he loses his daughter and wife in a series of tragic events. A decade later, Jack discovers that he is dying. He desperately wants to reconnect with his estranged son Travis, but Travis wants nothing to do with his father. Enter Dr. Christina Amity, Jack’s protégé and dear friend, who strives to help father and son work out their issues before Jack’s disease claims him. But even as Christina and Travis grow closer, Jack finds himself inching towards death, drawn by what he thinks is the spirit of his dead wife. Will Jack make peace with his son before he rejoins his wife and daughter in the afterlife? Will the emotionally-damaged Travis ever find love? Read Be Still to find out!

The Review

Let me start by saying that, despite the genre of this book being the polar opposite of what I usually read, I really enjoyed Be Still. The plot was engaging and well thought out, the characters relatable and believable. It’s a tragic story that’s at the same time uplifting, and I would definitely recommend it to anyone who likes the romance/drama genre.

I’m going to be honest, I wasn’t the hugest fan of Jack Silver. He basically gives up on living after his wife dies, withdrawing from the world and from his son, all of which really irked me. I have a hard time connecting with parent characters who emotionally abandon their children. At the same time, I totally understand why he did what he did because his plot arc was beautifully written, so even though I didn’t really like the character, Tania still got me to sympathize with him.

On the other hand, I loved Travis and Christina. Their romance is sweet, and realistic, and flawed, because when does love ever go smoothly? I actually found myself caring more about Jack because I was seeing him through Travis and Christina’s eyes, and it was bittersweet because their shared grief over his impending death is one of the things that brings them together.

I quite enjoyed Tania’s writing style. It flowed nicely, and it was very easy for me to lose myself in the story. One criticism I would make is that the description sometimes got a little flowery, but for all I know that’s the norm for this genre of writing. It certainly didn’t detract from the story, it just made me pause and think, “Goodness, that’s a lot of adverbs”.

The Rating

4 out of 5 stars, plus an “Awww!” factor of 8 puppies.

Advertisements
8 Comments

8 thoughts on “Book Reviews

  1. Hi Michelle: I’d love to have you review one of all of my books. There are 4 contemporary romances and thus far 1 time travel. Grace

  2. Steven Atwood

    Any thoughts on beta reading?

    • Well, I currently have 16 novels/novellas I’m supposed to be reading/reviewing. So while I do love the concept of beta reading, it’s not quite an option for me at the moment. If you have something you need beta-ed, and don’t mind waiting a bajillion years for my feedback, by all means send it my way 😀 I’ll add it to my ever-growing list, hahaha.

  3. I would like you to review my books…I do though write children’s stories, but I need an opinion outside the family circle. Thanks for the offer, and I will be sending something your way soon.

  4. Matt Knox

    A book review is what i’ll be looking for when my debut novel is released late this year 🙂 Great reviews.

What do you think?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.

%d bloggers like this: