Book Reviews

Book Review

Book Review: Can’t Live Without by Joanne Phillips

In my slow but sure attempts to work my way through the small virtual mountain of books piled up in my ereader, I present to you my official book review for Can’t Live Without.

 

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.

 

Unrelated link of the day:

Follow this link to view a collection of gifs of people in infomercials failing at accomplishing simple household tasks.

 

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Book Review: A Sense of Light or Darkness by Lizbeth Wright

The lovely Lizbeth Wright sent me her poetry collection … in physical form! Woo! I just feel so much more legit as a reviewer when I can hold the actual book in my hands. Points for style, Ms. Wright!

And now … THE REVIEW! Dum dum dummmm …

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.

 

Unrelated media of the day:

Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga apparently sang a duet together. Did anyone else know this??? Anyway, here it is. I like that Tony’s just rolling with it and having a ball.

 

Shameless plug of the day:

The Goodreads Giveaway for Imminent Danger is on until April 11th. Enter here!

(Open to CA, USA, UK)

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Book Review: The Crimson League, by Victoria Grefer

I can’t remember if Victoria actually asked me to review this, or if I picked it up for free one day and decided to write a review, but either way, on with the show!

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.

 

Unrelated image of the day:

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Book Review: 28 Shades of Black by Sahm King

This is a fun one, because I picked up the book on a whim and had no idea what to expect … well, read on to see what happened!

 

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.

 

Unrelated video of the day:

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Magnet Giveaway Results + FANART!!! + Vlog #6!

Today was possibly the most awesome day ever. I will explain why in a convenient-to-follow numbered list.

  1. First, several friends and I went to a local micro-brewery, took a tour complete with samples, and then went for sushi.
  2. Then I got home and discovered that fellow WordPress blogger Misha Burnett had mentioned my book in his latest blog post in a very flattering manner.
  3. Then I discovered that fellow WordPress blogger J.R. Wolfe had finished reading my book and posted a glowing review on Amazon.com.
  4. And to top it all off, Celeste DeWolfe sent me my first ever piece of fan art. And it’s gorgeous!!!
Artist: Celeste DeWolfe

Artist: Celeste DeWolfe

When I first started writing, I always thought the coolest part about being an author must be getting fan art — seeing how other people envision your characters, and watching them brought to life. And now Celeste has fulfilled that lifelong dream of mine, and I’m beyond ecstatic. Woooo!!!

I’m getting too excited. Let’s all take a deep, calming breath and move on to …

The Magnet Giveaway!!!

I decided to record the name-drawing event for posterity because, heck, why not, so here is Vlog #6 — Magnet Giveaway + The Book is Here! ((to just see who the winners are, skip down to below the video))

 

As you discovered in that super exciting video, the winners of the magnet giveaway are:

  1. Jo of all trades
  2. Lizbethwrightbooks
  3. Misha Burnett
  4. Paula Acton
  5. Mari Wells
  6. Celeste DeWolfe

Congratulations, my magnetic friends! (Get it? Magnetic? Hehehe …) I will attempt to contact you tomorrow to acquire your postal addresses for mailing purposes, but if you feel like dropping me a line at michellishelli@gmail.com and letting me know your addresses, that saves me a step!

So, most awesome day ever? Possibly. It’s definitely in the running. Thanks to everyone who participated in the giveaway, and thanks especially to the personages mentioned above for supporting/enjoying Imminent Danger!!!

Unrelated image of the day:

Categories: Book Reviews, iUniverse, My Works, Self Publishing, Writing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 34 Comments

Book Review: Water, by Terra Harmony

 

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!

 

Unrelated media of the day:

For your viewing entertainment, an internet classic:

 

Aaaaaaaaaand and elephant:

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Read this if you asked me to review your book!

What up, fellow bloggers. This post is for housekeeping purposes, so bear with me.

I’ve amassed a large selection of self-published books I’m supposed to read and review, and I’m getting a bit confused. Therefore, here is a list of all the ebooks that I currently plan to read/review. They aren’t in order or anything, just me scrolling through my tablet and typing them as they appear.

If you asked me to read/review your book, and it’s not on here, TELL ME!!!

  • The Altar of Deimos — Antoinette M
  • Can’t Live Without — Joanne Phillips
  • The Crimson League — Victoria Grefer
  • Entanglement — Maya Panika
  • L’Aria Onyx — Sahm Attaine King
  • Trapper & Emmeline — L. Flinch Bedder
  • Poor Percival Stories — Matthew Milson
  • Remember — Cristian Mihai
  • Water — Terra Harmony
  • Why Aren’t You Sweet Like Me — Carrie Nyman
  • Shadeland — DL Miles
  • Jazz – Cristian Mihai
  • Once & Always; Heart Stealer; Wishing on a Rodeo Moon — Grace Brannigan
  • 28 Shades of Black — Sahm Attaine King
  • Heroes’ Awakening — Rigel Ordinario
  • Shadows of Penumbra — Margaret E. Alexander
  • The Friendship of Mortals — Audrey Driscoll
  • The Valley Walker — T.W. Dittmer
  • Surviving the Writing Apocalypse — Tania L Ramos
  • The Warden in the Gates — DL Miles

Again, if I said I would read/review your book and it’s not on that list, TELL ME!!! 

Otherwise, I won’t read it. Because I don’t have it.

In other news … what’s with the new WordPress format?

Anyone else ticked off by it? I hate that they’ve put the author name in tiny little letters at the bottom of the blog post on the Reader. I click on posts because I want to read what the blogger has to say. Now the author name is so small that I’m worried I’m missing posts by bloggers I love because their title isn’t super eye catching and I scroll right past it.

I tried to send WordPress a letter asking them to change it — at least make the blogger name larger!!! — but I can’t figure out how to contact them. Anyone know the secret to contacting them?

Unrelated video of the day:

This song is so happy. How can you not love it?

 

Unrelated image of the day:

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Book Review: Echoes From The Past (Grace Brannigan)

The Bookechoes from the past

Echoes From The Past

The Genre

Romance

The Author

Grace Brannigan

The Plot

On the verge of a nervous breakdown, Christie reacts by running away, emotionally and physically. Down to her last twenty dollars, she’s determined to fulfill her dead sister’s last wish — to locate their sister Judith, who left home twenty years before. Her quest brings her into the lives of Garrett, Judith’s husband, and the emotionally fragile Hannah, Judith’s daughter. Christie is devastated to learn Judith died two years before. When Christie insists on getting to know her niece, Garrett agrees on the condition she doesn’t reveal her identity. He hires her to work at his horse farm but what he doesn’t count on is the turmoil and hope Christie brings into their lives.

The Review

I love a good romance, and this was definitely a good romance! I wasn’t a huge fan of the setting — the whole Western, horse ranch, cowboy thing has just never intrigued me, for some reason — but I was able to ignore that in favour of the really adorable romance between Christie and Garrett. It was wonderful to watch two emotionally troubled people come together and help each other heal. And I just love that Garrett’s dog is named Bo Peep!

The plot was solid, with good amounts of backstory, intrigue, etc. I could have used a bit more danger, but there were still sufficient life-threatening moments to keep me interested. And I would have liked more twists as well, but then, this is a romance novel, not Game of Thrones! Speaking of the romance, it was very fun to watch unfold, and it progressed at an entirely believable pace. I also really enjoyed Garrett’s interactions with his adopted daughter Hannah, especially how he makes sure to factor her into his potential love life.

If you’re looking for a heartfelt cowboy romance, I’d definitely recommend checking this out!

The Rating

4 out of 5 stars

http://www.gracebrannigan.com/

Unrelated image of the day:

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Book Review: Acceptance, by Keri Peardon

I know what you’re thinking — what’s with all the book reviews, Michelle?

Well, I recently discovered how to convert files to epub and stick them on my tablet, so now I have constant, mobile access to all the self-published novels I’m supposed to be reading and reviewing. Hence this sudden outpouring of reviews. Shocking, right? Well, hang on to your keyboards, because this latest review is going to BLOW YOU AWAY. Not literally. That would hurt.

Anyway …

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

I 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.

Unrelated question of the day:

What the heck is going on with Facebook? I keep seeing posts from my friends saying things like, “Facebook is displaying all my private messages pre-2010”, or “Since Facebook is a publicly traded company, it can now use my pictures however they want”. Is there any truth to these claims? Is Facebook evil incarnate? Do I just have a lot of conspiracy theorist friends?

Unrelated image of the day:

Animal Puns

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Book Review: Once Upon a Remembrance by Grace Brannigan

Today I present to you the self-published novel Once Upon a Remembrance. The author, Grace Brannigan, sent me a bunch of her books to review, so expect to see more of them in the upcoming months!

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/

Related image of the day:

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