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Book Review: The False Prince (The Ascendance Trilogy #1) by Jennifer A. Nelsen

            Scholastic    Published April 1, 2012             342 Pages
Scholastic
Published April 1, 2012
342 Pages

Civil War is threatening to tear a kingdom. Conner, a nobleman has a plan to find some to impersonate the King’s missing son in order to use him as a puppet. Four orphans are taken; one is quickly killed while the remaining three compete against each other to prove they can impersonate the prince better.

Sage, the orphan that causes the most trouble is aware of Conner’s plans and is completely against it. But he goes along with it because he doesn’t want to be killed. Living in Conner’s palace, Sage begins discovering the lies of not only Conner but the royal court.

This was a good and exciting read. Firstly, the story was well written; Nelsen began at a very high start which is always great. She was able to keep that pace for quite a while until the middle of the book in which things slowed down and got so redundant that I had to pause.

For what Nelsen did with the story, as in twists and turns, I didn’t certain things about Sage. I did like his fighting spirit; didn’t like the fact that he rarely could back up what he said. I also didn’t like the fact that he played dumb throughout the entire book until the last few chapters. I understand why Nelsen did it that way but It felt forced when she added the dramatic twist.

As for the other characters . . . they played their part well. Some of them were predictable but the Nelsen made that up in the plot which did seem overly dramatic. But in this sense what saved the book is it stopped being boring.

Overall, this book gets 8 out of 10. Don’t think I will read book two; read the preview and still don’t like Sage.

 

Love, Pickles

Quick Five© with Mindee Arnett

 Courtesy of Mindee Arnett            (Goodreads)
Courtesy of Mindee Arnett
(Goodreads)

Name: Mindee Arnett

Who is Mindee? A horse loving, former boxer who loves all things paranormal and Mumford and Sons.

Website: http://www.mindeearnett.com

Books: The Nightmare Affair (The Arkwell Academy Books 1 &2) and Avalon (Avalon #1)

Buy: Amazon, Barnes & Nobles

If you haven’t read The Nightmare Affair you need to read my review here and then go buy the book. When you speak to an author a book that you believe changes the whole game, the excitement you feel is off the charts. After having a brief fan girl moment, Tanya Pickles interviewed Mindee Arnett, cutting down the basics of her popular first book and what it took to get there.

Motif Ink is honored . . . Enjoy

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What inspired The Nightmare Affair?

             Tor Teen  Published March 5, 2013              367 Pages
Tor Teen
Published March 5, 2013
367 Pages

The primary inspiration came from the Henry Fuseli painting The Nightmare. It depicts a woman with a “nightmare” sitting on her chest. I saw it and wondered what it would be like if the situation were reversed, if the woman were doing the sitting instead. And voilà, Dusty was born.

You state on your website that you wrote four novels, only submitted one and received dozens of rejection letters. What pushed you to keep trying?

Well, publishing was always the goal, but the drive has always been the story. Regardless of failure I never felt any desire to stop writing. And it just sort of followed that I would keep on trying to publish as well. Also, more than anything I think beginning writers need to understand that writing is a skill that takes a lot of time to develop. And the only way to develop it is to continue writing. I don’t consider those early novels as failures. They were practice novels.

 How would you define your style of writing? What is it about your writing that draws people to read or continue reading your book/books?

Hmm…I’m not sure how to describe my style. I love vivid imagery and language, snappy dialogue, and a story that moves. I really don’t know what draws people to read my stuff other than the ideas themselves.

             Tor Teen    Expected Publication March 4, 2014             384 Pages
Tor Teen
Expected Pub. March 4, 2014
384 Pages

Do you feel that you are a successful writer? What makes you successful?

I think that success isn’t something you obtain. I think it’s something you have to strive for every day. It’s always ongoing. So I guess by that logic I’m only successful because I keep at it.

 Finally, what is the lasting impression you wish to leave in the literary world?

Ha! For now, all I aspire to is to keep having the opportunity to write more books. We’ll see if there’s any lasting impression later, I suppose.

Mindee loves cyber stalkers (hahaha) so follow her here

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For your Quick Five© email Tania at wordpress174@gmail.com

Book Review: Beauty’s Daughter by Carolyn Meyer

Hermione is the daughter of Helen. . Helen of Troy. Yes, the impulsive, beautiful Helen, who falls in love Prince

  HMH Books for Young Readers      Published Oct. 8, 2013            352 Pages
HMH Books for Young Readers
Published Oct. 8, 2013
352 Pages

Paris and runs away with him. What we don’t know is that when Helen left she told her son, who looks like her, and left her daughter that takes after her father.

Hermione is distraught and convinced that her mother was actually kidnapped and the rest of the story goes the Greek army declare war on Troy for kidnapping the Queen and not returning her. Hermione goes with her father and from a side line point of view prays to the gods and goddesses to end the war and reunite her with her love.

I love Greek mythology for those who are new here. And there are not many stories about Helen but this story I like because it shows a more personal side.

Firstly, I didn’t like Hermione. For a leading character I don’t believe she did much in the story. I can’t even say that because of the time period she was in there wasn’t much she can do because she really just didn’t do anything. When she found her mother was gone and with her brother she was hurt and upset and pissed off. But she did nothing about it. I think that the author was trying to keep true to the original story of Helen leaving with Prince Paris and didn’t want Hermione to interfere with that. I understand this but at the same time I don’t feel the story should have been written from the daughter’s point of view then. It should have been from the father’s viewpoint.

However, although I didn’t like Hermione I did love Helen. What was the most beautiful woman in the world like? Selfish, vain, impulsive, self centered, money hungry; she was everything I assumed she would be and I liked how the author gave Helen a voice in the story so you can have an idea of who she was. There was no assuming.

The story itself was good but confusing. For me, Hermione’s love came out of no where and it really wasn’t necessary. He wasn’t there is the beginning of the book, so we really didn’t get to see a history between them. When the war was coming to a close that was when he was constantly in the story. What I did like was the author spilt it in sections; before the war, the war, and after the war. However, by writing a story in this way it feels stretched.

The direction of the story wasn’t to my liking. There was no need for a love interest and there should have been more confrontation between Hermione and her mother, since she did leave her only daughter behind (which Hermione was more upset about anyway). Overall, the book gets 6 out of 10. I loved the war, and intensity of the writing. But the characters fell short and the story didn’t stay its original course.

Love, Pickles.

Book Review: For the Darkness Shows the Stars by Diana Peterfreund

           Balzer + Bray   Published June 12, 2012              420 Pages
Balzer + Bray
Published June 12, 2012
420 Pages

It’s been years since a genetic experiment went wrong and caused the Reduction and the rise to the Luddite; people who banished most if not all technology.

Elliot North is a Luddite; Four years before she decided not to runway with her childhood love, a servant Kai and since then things have changed.  Choosing to run the family estate, Elliot is forced to allow a group of shipbuilders to rent the land and on that ship is Kai.

While Kai is determined to show Elliot what she lost, Elliot believes this is a second chance at love. But Kai and Elliot both hold secrets they are determined not to share.

Firstly, the book is formatted in two ways; letters from the past between Kai and Elliot and basic novel format. This did add character to the story because you read first hand the relationship between Kai and Elliot. You see the innocence and the growth and in any romance novel that is appreciated.

I was bored. The story, although kept me interested, didn’t keep me fidgeting in my seat. The relationship (because that is a pretty big focus) goes back and forth. It was horrible at one point and I wasn’t sure I could bear HOWEVER, Elliot has a lot of family issues as well as the Kai’s shipmates, so that kept the story going pretty well.

I didn’t like Elliot too much. The author tried to make her plain with a large heart . . . different from the other Luddites. It was a great effort but Elliot seemed too perfect and her biggest flaw was being a Luddite.

Overall I did really enjoy this book and was surprised that book two has nothing to do with book one. Hmm don’t know what that is about. This book gets 8 out of 10.

 

Love, Pickles

Book Review: Letters from Skye by Jessica Brockmole

     Ballantine Books  Published July 9, 2013           304 Pages
Ballantine Books
Published July 9, 2013
304 Pages

Love.Love LOVE!

 In 1912, 24 year old Elspeth Dunn is a published poet who has never left her home located on the Isle of Skye in Scotland. One day she receives a fan letter from David Graham, a student that lives in America. From this moment on Elspeth and David begin a friendship and soon love through these letters.

Fast forward to 1940; WW II has begun and Elspeth daughter, Margaret has fallen for a pilot. Her mother doesn’t agree with it but doesn’t stop her daughter either. When a bomb goes off near Elspeth’s house letter from the past reappear and shortly after Elspeth leaves.

Margaret has only one letter, a clue to find out what happened to her mother.

This book was so cute and romantic and perfect I cannot stand it. It is written in letter form. Some letters are longer than others and others are just lines or telegraphs. To be honest this didn’t add or take away from the story. Every letter was detailed and held the same conversation tone as a “traditional” novel.

David and Elspeth had no intentions of being anything more than a fan and an author. However, Elspeth was interested in David and his life because it was nothing she has ever experienced. David enjoyed speaking to her because they shared a love a literature.

I thought their relationship was pure love and it was beautiful.

Regarding Margaret and her relationship there are letters exchanged between her and her love but it mostly centers around her mother and her family. I though the characters each of them played a good part; they weren’t annoying or even misused. Again for a lack of a better term perfect.

Overall this book gets 10 out of 10. I thought it was a great love story. If you are looking for the harlequin  type love story this is not the book for you.

 

Love, Pickles

 

Book Review: Gameboard of the Gods by Richelle Mead

This book has to begin in like year 3045.

          Dutton Adult   Published June 4, 2013             448 Pages
Dutton Adult
Published June 4, 2013
448 Pages

Justin March has been living in exile after not completing his job as an investigator of religious groups. His job is “important” because the world has been pretty much destroyed due to religious extremists. But anyway, March is able to come back home when Mae Koskinen, a military elite, brings him back to the Republic of United North America.

Mae’s job is to protect March as he investigates ritualistic murders. But her job becomes a bit more complicated when feels become involved.

This was a decent read; different, slow but a bit unexpected.

Firstly, I didn’t appreciate the relationship between March and Mae. Things moved too fast and considering how Mae was called cold within the first 6 pages of the book, I felt her opening even for that moment was fake. I understand what the author was trying to do; surprise the readers with a “big” twist but it seemed pointless especially as the book dragged along.

However, I did like March as a character. Although it was noted that

he was an attractive man you really couldn’t see that through the book. He was annoying in a charming sort of way which made me believe his character. Mae just didn’t fit. Her willingness to be with or attracted to March was too easy for a military elite and also she had just lost someone she really cared about.

I liked the story and where the author was going with it despite character flaw. Yes, it was a slow read and but I didn’t mind the science fiction aspect of the book because it wasn’t over done.

I have never read Mead’s Vampire Academy series which I heard as amazing. With that being said as my first book by this author I didn’t think it was too bad. Should have been more action at the same time the homework was being done. Will I read book two? Probably not. Overall this book gets 7 out of 10.

Love, Pickles

Book Review: Mystic City by Theo Lawrence

    Delacorte Books for Young Readers    Published Oct. 9, 2012        416 Pages
Delacorte Books for Young Readers
Published Oct. 9, 2012
416 Pages

Aria Rose, youngest child of one of the most elite families in Mystic City finds herself engaged to Thomas Foster, son of the rival family. This marriage would end generations of fighting and would be a great benefit for both families. Any other story this wouldn’t be an issue however Aria  doesn’t remember anything about her relationship with Thomas. She awakes one day missing a gap of her memory ( I would say maybe the past month). However, Aria doesn’t question these events until she meets Hunter, a mystic rebel, who makes her wonder if everything she has been told is the truth.

I enjoyed this read. Although it was extremely complicated for no reason, I really enjoyed it. What I liked about this book was the fact that it was a play on Romeo and Juliet with a twist obviously. But it wasn’t done in poor taste and it also wasn’t the complete main focus of the story either. Don’t get me wrong the “forbidden love” was constantly thrown out there and if you put two and two together you can figure out the truth regarding that part.

The characters weren’t memorable. I am not sure how I feel about Aria though. She was too plain and obedient for me. Although when she didn’t agree with something she complained and fought back but at the end of the day still did what she was told to do. I just don’t feel there was anything special about her. She was a rich girl that didn’t act snobby. *Big Whoop*  Hunter is the typical beautiful boy with magical powers who knows the truth and Thomas is the pretend nice guy. I was bored with the characters.

However, the story was extremely well written and I was so curious to know how it ended that I really couldn’t stop reading. With that being said I was less impressed with the ending. It was too simple of a lead off to the next book. Overall the book gets a 7 out of 10.

Love, Pickles

Book Review: The Dark Unwinding by Sharon Cameron

Katharine Tulman is being sent to London to find out why her

     Scholastic Press  Published Aug. 27, 2012           318 pages
Scholastic Press
Published Aug. 27, 2012
318 pages

inheritance is being dwindled away by the hands of her eccentric i.e. possibly crazy uncle. But when she gets there she finds out that her Uncle is actually this amazing inventor and he employs a village about 900 people.

While fighting her  feelings (to save her inheritance or a town) and trying to find the truth about her uncle’s way of life, Katharine beings to fall for the mysterious assistant, Lane, who works with her uncle.

This book was okay. I didn’t particularly like Katharine. She was too stuck up and I didn’t completely believe her transformation. The story surrounding her uncle was great and original. I was surprised to know it was based on a true story (it is detailed in the back of the book) and it only intrigued me more.

But the characters, Katherine, her uncle, Lane, everyone, didn’t do anything for me. I was bored. The setting wasn’t as details as I would have liked. Yes, the book had mysterious elements to it but it wasn’t enough for me to enjoy.

However, I did appreciate the fact that the relationship between Katharine and Lane wasn’t the biggest thing. It was a bonus so if it didn’t happen I wouldn’t miss it.

Overall the book gets 6 out of 10. I thought the story was original and a nice retelling of an actual life but it was boring.

 

Love, Pickles

Book Review: The Wicked Within by Kelly Keaton

              Simon Pulse  Published Sept. 17, 2013               320 Pages
Simon Pulse
Published Sept. 17, 2013
320 Pages

This is the final book and Ari injured Athena pretty bad in the second book. However, in this book the clock is ticking not just for Ari to lift the curse but to find the hands of Zeus which is carrying Athena’s baby, which mysteriously went missing from the locked library (Spoiler if you didn’t read the second book).  It is up to Ari and her friends to find it and every other secret that involves Athena.

This book was less about Ari’s curse and more about the mystery surrounding Athena and her life. This didn’t make the book bad in anyway. It was informative without being boring and interesting to see how everything connects, which I thought was amazing. In Greek mythology everything and everybody is connected and Keaton did a great job showing that connection in her story.

However, I didn’t like Ari in this book. She whined too much and I think that for the first half of the book and even some part towards the end she was being a brat about a lot of things. I am also not sure if I liked reading Sebastian’s point of view. It was spoken in third person and it felt completely unnecessary. I personally didn’t care to know how he saw things. But with that being said, having his point of view didn’t make or break the book.

The action scenes were done well. There were a lot of surprises I didn’t see coming and although Keaton added a lot of new information especially at the end of the book it wasn’t done in bad taste. I was extremely thrilled and on the edge of my seat reading the end of the book; still didn’t like Ari though.

But finally, with all this good I am still on the fence about the ending. Ari technically gets her cake and eat it to. This may or may not leave room for the author to add another book or add Ari as a character in a different series but I think it should have been on way or the other. I do not disagree with the happy ending because Athena screwed  up a lot in the first two books; I’m just not sure if I agree with Ari and her cake.

Overall, this book gets a solid 9 out of 10. The series collectively gets 10 out of 10.

Love, Pickles.

Quick Five© Diane Mannino

        Courtesy of  Diane Mannino
Courtesy of
Diane Mannino

Name: Diane Mannino

Who is Diane? A well-rounded author with a taste for beautiful book covers :)

Website: http://dianemannino.com/

Books: Running from Romeo and Waiting for Romeo

Buy: Amazon

Perfecting your craft is an extremely important part of life. Whether it is a hobby or your career, you need to be to zone in on your skills to be the best. Take author Diane Mannino, interviewed by Tania Lasenburg, Mannino explains that she did what she loved . . .  her entire life.

You’ve had a successful career as a writer for different media outlets. What made you decide to write a novel? Did you simply want to add another scratch on the to do list or was this always the goal for you?

I definitely wanted to write a novel. English was always my favorite subject, I was an English major in college, and I’ve always loved to read and write. It just took me some time to get around to doing it!

Why did you choose Young Adult as the genre for your first novel?
That’s a good question because I like many different genres, but I would have to say I wanted to write YA because I not only love the genre, but I have two teenage daughters who love the genre. They read all the time and recommend books to me. I’m a huge fan of  “Harry Potter,” “Twilight” and the “Hunger Games” series because they recommended them. But the bottom line is that I had a story and characters in mind and I thought it would be a good YA/NA novel.
What was your inspiration for “Running from Romeo”? Do you feel that the story of Romeo and Juliet is still popular enough to make reference to?
“Romeo and Juliet” was a big inspiration. I love the passion they have for each other and I love Romeo’s pursuit of Juliet. I love romances and characters that you care about and root for. I knew I wanted Classic Literature to play a part in the story. I want my daughters and other young adult readers to enjoy and love the classics as much as I did. I think not only is the story of “Romeo and Juliet” relevant but all of Shakespeare’s works.
              Amazon  Published June 1, 2013       345 Pages Ebook
Amazon
Published June 1, 2013
345 Pages Ebook
How has your experience been publishing your book through Amazon? Do you feel that compared to a well known publishing company such as Harper Collins you receive the same attention and affection from those helping with the marketing of your book?

Well, I can’t really compare the two. I would LOVE Harper Collins or another publisher to publish my books, but I didn’t want to submit and re-submit for years to wait for that to happen. I think self-publishing is a great way to get your book out there and Amazon is awesome because as soon as you submit your book it’s immediately available. That’s amazing to me.

But as a self-publisher you have to market your book. You’re on your own and you don’t have anyone telling you how to do it. It is pretty much a sink or swim situation. I’m trying very hard to keep my head above water. There’s so much to learn, but I love that my books are being read and that people are enjoying them.

Finally, do you have any plans of stepping out of the YA genre? If so where would you go?

Hmm. I haven’t really thought about that. I love thrillers and mysteries. The sequel to “Running from Romeo,” “Waiting for Romeo” has a little bit of these elements in it so I’d probably say those genres. I really enjoyed writing these books because I got to do a little bit of not just one genre, but a couple of others as well.

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Diane loves loves speaking with those who are interested in her books. Follow her here for more Romero

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