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Posted in Reading

Review: The Kiss of Betrayal

The  Kiss of Betrayal by Michelle C. Hillstrom.

Quick note, this is the third book in the series. As it should be known, I can’t talk about this book without revealing minor spoilers from the first two. Obviously, nothing big will be said. But a spoiler warning in the review.

Spoiler warning.

Now, that’s out of the way.

The first two books are about the good guys, but this one is all about the villain,  Elisabet and everything from her point of view. It goes way back, hundreds of years and explains how she became the person she became. More interesting is how she never set out to become a villain, but more the darkness found her. Her story takes over over several centuries and several countries.

What I liked about this book,

The man character, Elisabet. She doesn’t set out to be a villain or take over the world or anything. In her mind, she’s a hero, but things did not go the way it planned. We see her fail and grow and change. She’s a human being and those are the best kind of villains. Not the guys who are LOLEVIL LETS RULE THE WORLDZ, but the ones that seems like it could happen to you or me.

And then, this might be a bit weird, but I really liked the side characters in this book. There’s several characters that have very small roles to play, but are extremely interesting. All felt like real people that I wanted to get to know. Armature novelist sometimes make the mistake of not having enough small roles that fill out a world and give it meaning, but the author does that have that issue at all.

Finally, I read all three of her books almost back-to-back and man, I can really see how she’s improved as an author. By this point, she has learned her own style, what works for her and what doesn’t work. Things are polished and just in general, feels like real growth is being showed. I liked that a lot.

What I didn’t like about this book,

I had a few more qualms about this book then the two before it. Nothing massive or anything, but there were a few points here and there.

The first is, the first 225 pages (which is a bit more then half the book) takes place in the 1400’s-1500’s. Without giving too much away, lots of stuff happens to Elisabet. She’s betrayed, she becomes stronger and smarter. Things are going really well, but then it skips a few hundred years to catch up to the 1860’s in Louisiana. I think I would of liked it more if these events tied into how she came to America and met the people she knows then. I understood the author prob didn’t want to make this book 700+ pages, but it was clear she got money and met people during that time jump. How did that happen? I wanted more.

The second thing is how Elisabet met Wesley (This is a spoiler). She met him, found out he already have a love interest and that sent her crazy with rage that caused her to kill that woman, attempt to get Wesley as her own and then spend another 130 years trying to kill her every time that woman was reborn??

That seemed a tad…. over the top. I know she was a villain and everything, but dang woman. The motivation didn’t seem strong enough for over one hundred years of messing with these two. I feel like that was a bit of a week spot, especially for a guy she just met. It would of worked way better of Thomas and Victoria (Or their families) had betrayed her in someway or something, or she had a deeper connection.

Last thing, is both this book and the previous book has gone back to explain backstory. It’s good, but I’m ready for these books to start moving forward, not continue backwards. It’s very different from other books in how it does that and it’s both interesting, but I do want more in the present day by now.

In short, go give all of these book’s a read. Even though romance isn’t really my thing, I still enjoyed these books a lot. There’s more to the story and it’s good stuff.  The characters and situations are pretty good.

I wouldn’t normally do this, but it’s not a normal day, I personally know this author and she’s a friend of mine. I met her in 2016 and she is one of the kindest persons I’ve ever met . Michelle is a self published author and needs the support. They’re all available on amazon. She’s a good author and just a lovely person. If you want to know more about her, her books, or what she’s up to, you can find her here on wordpress.

https://itsawriterslifeforme.wordpress.com/

Overall, I give this book a 7.5/10.

Thanks for reading guys!

~Ames

 

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Posted in Reading

Review: The Possessive Kiss

The Possessive Kiss by Michelle C. Hillstrom.

First, this book is the second book in the series. As so, it’s really difficult to talk about this book without spoiling anything from the first book. So, there will be a spoiler warning for the first book.

Spoiler Warning.

With that out of the way, lets get to it.

This book is a bit unique as although it is a sequel, it goes back in time and explains how Wesley and Victoria first met back in the 1860. The two of them were destined to meet and fall in love, but fate had other ideas for them. When the civil war kicked off and Wesley was sent off and it changed his life forever.

What I liked:

I was really excited about this book because the civil war is one of my favorite time periods in history. When reading history fiction, I am extremely picky about the slang,  jargon and expressions used. Obviously, people in the 1860 would not be using terms we coined in the 21st century. This is one of my biggest pet peeves and something I watch for very closely when reading.

Thankfully, it was not much of an issue when I was reading this book. I do think there was one or two words I wanted to challenge, but as I have stated, my internet was not working at the time and I don’t remember them now, and I can’t find them at the moment. They weren’t a huge deal.

I really enjoyed how this went into more backstory of Wesley and we learn what happened to him during the war. That was great. The characters are more fleshed out, which was wonderful.

This was huge. There is an actual reason why these two characters keep finding each other and why their love is so strong. So many times in other mediums, it’s because love never dies, or love is stronger then death or sometimes. I was expecting it too be that. I won’t spoil what it is, but I was so glad that is a legit reason!

What I did not like.

There really isn’t much.  The only thing I really did want more of the actual civil war. I know it’s a romance and it’s focused on how Wesley and Victoria, but in the first one, she had more of a life outside him. I know this is a different time period and such, but I did miss that element of the book.  I would of liked more of Wesley in the war.

A tiny minor thing, but the ending was given away in the previous book. I kinda wish that part hadn’t been spoiled as I did know what was coming. I think it would of made the ending more tense for me.

Overall, a great sequel. Adds a lot of depth and background to the characters, like all good sequels.  I enjoyed it a lot.

8/10

~Ames

Posted in Reading

Review: The Faithful Kiss

The Faithful Kiss by Michelle C. Hillstrom.

Katelynn Wilder is a regular college freshman, starting over in a different state in Louisiana. She’s ready for a fresh start; all her life, she’s had nightmares about a red-haired devil woman for a long time and her family has an urban legend that goes back several generations.

On the first day, she gets settled in and to her delight, she meets her roommate’s older brother, Wesley and thinks he’s really hot. However, not long after, she is attacked, and she realized that her life might not be normal, her dreams might mean something and that her new friends are way more then they say they are.

What I like about this book

These books are romance, which aren’t really my thing, but I still enjoyed then all the same. They can be a bit cheesy in spots. It does become clear (at least to me it did) who the villain is pretty early and that’s not much of a mystery. Her writing style is clean and engaging, with some lovely passages. I got lost in some of her prose.

There’s a lot of lore in this book. I don’t want to give too much away, but there is a mythical element and really like what the author does here. I do feel like she takes it and gives it her own fresh spin. At no point did I sigh and feel like I was reading the same old-same old thing.

What I don’t like

I shall be honest: it’s romance. As many know, this isn’t my favorite genre. It’s a bit cheesy and a touch cliche in spots. But not too bad. Nothing like love at first glance. Katelynn does have a life, a job and friends outside Wesley, which I was very glad of.

The only other thing was sometimes the characters don’t see things that are pretty freaking obvious. Like this angry woman hangs around the guy she like and glares at her a lot. A few days later, she get text messages from a random person telling  her stay away from him. I wonder who they could be from. But that’s pretty much it.

Over all, I enjoyed this book. Short, sweet and to the point. Lot of fluff, but was well written and good characters. What more could you ask for?

8.5/10

~Ames

 

Posted in Reading

Review: A Torch Against the Night

I just finished this book two night and I am still not over it. This book was really good. At several points, I set it down and just walked away so I could absorb what I had just read.

As this is the second book in the series, obviously I will not be giving any huge spoilers, but it’s impossible to talk about it without spoiling any of the first one. So be warned, mild spoilers ahead. Please don’t read unless you have already read An Ember in the Ashes.

Mild Spoiler Warning.

With that out of the way, on to the review.

Elias and Laia escape Blackcliff, both of them wanted subjects of the empire. They have one goal, make to make it to Kauf Prison. Laia’s brother was taken there months ago and has valuable information-if he’s not already dead. If the two of them can make it there and free him without getting caught or kill in the process, then the rebellion might have a chance of surviving.

Meanwhile, Helene, Elias’ former best friend from Blackciff has been appointed blood shrike, aka, second in command to the emperor. One who’s insane and has commanded her to hunt down and make the impossible choice to kill her what used to be best friend, all while trying to protect her family from his rage.

What I like.

To be honest, I could go on about what I like for a very long time. The twist and turns in this book is great. The world is expanding, we’re starting to get more of what I wanted from the first book. More back story, more about the world we’re inhabiting. Not everything has been made clear, but It has been made public that there will be four total book, so we have time. Even better, this doesn’t seem to show any signs of fatigue or things being stretched out to fit four books. I’m very happy with how this is going.

And then the plot twists.

I’m not going to spoil them, but h-o-l-y c-r-a-p. There’s two that caught me by surprise and they come almost one on top of each other. It’s just bam bam. To be fair, looking back, there’s a few small clues sprinkled in, but I did not see them coming at all. They add in another wrinkle for the next book. It’s going to be insane and I cannot wait.

What I didn’t like,

Two things,

One, a few characters have names that are a bit harder to pronounce. Like there’s a girl named Afya and a guy who has the name Miladh. To be fair, they do belong to tribes and not everyone has the name Jane, but they are more difficult to pronounce.

Second,

In the first book, there is a character named Keenan who is introduced as one of the leaders of the rebels. I truthfully hardly noticed him. In this book, he becomes a more important character and travels with Laia and Elias and guess what: a love triangle forms. I honestly sighed when I saw it started to happen because it’s my least favorite thing in YA. Just no more. It does play a part in the plot later, but love triangles are so boring and overdone.

But honestly, that’s it. There’s so much good stuff in this book. I could talk for ten minutes about all wonderful stuff here. About Helene wrestling with her loyalties, about Laia and Elias struggling to free her brother. This is a wonderful book full of magic and danger. Give it a read, I love it.

Have you read it?

~Ames

 

Posted in ideas, writing

Writing your way out of a writer’s block

Hey all,

It’s been quite a week. After way too much candy (50% off all candy at the store after Halloween!) bit of craziness at work, I’ve been trying to settle back into a routine of writing to get back on track.

As from my last post about it, I’ve been having some writer’s block. I mentioned that I’ve been trying to work my way out of it. It took me a bit, but I realized that I did not know the characters well enough and that I needed to do some exercises and fine tune the plot.

Easier said then done.

But what I have really been learning is the only way to get out of a writer’s block is to write. There is no other way around it. No secret trick or magic formula that will just make it go away. Sure, thinking about the plot can help get the ideas flowing. But you have to sit down and actually write again to get past it.

Sometimes it can be a personal one. I am a perfectionist when it comes to my writing. In fact, I have scenes planned for books that I wrote over two years ago.  (Thank goodness I haven’t published yet.) I know it can be difficult to look back and think what was written is pure garbage and wonder who would want to read such crap.

It’s times like these that I remind myself that it’s okay for a first draft to be messy. That no one else is going to read it but me until I want them to. So if it’s a terrible, ugly, incoherent, mess, that it’s alright. They just have to exist. The second and third drafts are for editing and polishing. The first draft is just for writing.

In fact, when writing the best selling, Gone Girl, Gillian Flynn also had writer’s block and decided to just write whatever her mind wanted to. What she wrote ended up being the infamous ‘cool girl’ speech, and it turned out amazing. Here’s part of it from the movie

(Note, I do not own any of this)

Sometimes, you gotta sit down and write. See where your characters lead you and be unafraid. There is no shortcut. The only cure to a blockage is to write like mad, even if that writing is terrible.

Who knows where you might find yourself.

~Ames

Posted in info, writing

Writing, explained.

I saw this and it was too funny not to share.

Writing is frustrating

Not writing is frustrating

Wanting to write and not being able to write is frustrating

Not wanting to write, but knowing you have to because these little things called deadlines exists and that’s frustrating.

And yet, we keep on writing.

Stay strong and keep writing everyone! To all doing NaNoWriMo, good luck! One of these years I’m going to attempt it, but not right now. My health has not been that well, work has been busy and I’m trying to finish a project (who knows if I’ll even be able to finish.) I’ve got too much on my plate right now.

Happy Halloween!

 

Posted in Reading

Review: An Ember in the Ashes

An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir.

This is another one of this don’t judge a book by it’s cover. Boy, have I been learning that lesson lately. First, Big little Lies, then this. I’ve had this book since 2015. I started it almost two years ago. I started it, read like, four pages, got confused, put it down and forgot about it. Then, during this epic book reading period I remembered it and sat down to read.

I had some reservations coming towards it. It throws you right into the actions and that’s confusing. I didn’t want to be confused, I wanted to be eased into it. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

Okay, just a note, this will sound like spoilers, but it not. All the information I’m giving is put out very early in the book. I promise some of this stuff is said like page two and three. Okay, here we go.

Alright, this is a fantasy book with a brutal empire with multiple classes of people.

Laia is one of main characters, she lives with her grandparents and older brother at the start of the book. Her parents and older sister were killed by the empire before the book started. In the first chapter, a raid changes her life completely.

In this world, they have learned how to manipulate and create better weapons from metal. From this, their soldiers wear a metal mask that completely molds to their face. So much that the characters describes how the mask shows every detail of the bones beneath. Because of this, the soldiers are called, Masks. To become a Mask,  they have to train at this elite school called Blackcliff for fourteen years.

Elias is the second main character who’s on his last year of training to become a Mask. He’s an excellent student but is secretly one of the most unwilling students. He hates what he’s becoming.

I know I haven’t really said much about the plot of this book, but I can’t say much else without giving anything anyway.

What I like about this book.

To start off with, I’m in love with this book. I was really surprised and I read it very fast. I’d have to say that I enjoyed it so much because of the uniqueness of the story and how much risk the author was willing to take. There was a lot of brutality. She makes it very clear very early on that this is not a gentle world and that people will get hurt and die. It’s bloody, brutal and shocking.

There’s also elements of magic and mystery that’s woven through the story lines. Not a tone, but enough to engage you and keep you guessing.

But what I especially love are the characters. Elias and Laia are both incredible leads. They both start off and grow as the story goes on, which I love so much. Both are flawed and have their strengths and weaknesses. They feel like real people that might just walk off the page any at moment.

What I didn’t like.

There isn’t really that much. I’d say probably say the entire world and back story is not fleshed extremely well. The basics are there, like how the empire came into being and such, but it’s like the bare bones. I really wanted to know more. But as there is a sequel and third one coming in 2018, I feel like we’ll probably get more information soon.

But honestly, that’s really it.

I loved this book. I didn’t want it to end.  As soon as it was finished, I went and bought the second one and dove right into the next one.

At the time that I’m writing this review, I’m about 50% of the way done reading the sequel, A Torch Against the Night (loving it) and I’m very exciting next year (2018) for A Reaper At the Gates.

If you haven’t read it, drop everything and go find it now. Highly recommend. I’m hoping they make a movie, because this is one that I really want a movie adaption.

8.5/10

Have you read it? What do you think?

~Ames

Posted in Reading

Review: Camino Island.

Camino Island by John Grisham.

Honest confession, I had never heard of John Grisham or read any of his books until I saw this one recommended in a book store. Because it looked good, I decided to grab it. And I’m glad I did!

The story starts at Princeton University, where a bunch of thieves stage a daring break into the library to steal five manuscripts worth around 25 million. The original handwritten manuscripts of five novels-including The Great Gatsby- of F. Scott Fitzgerald. The heist is successful.

Enter Bruce Cable, the owner of a bookstore on the fictional Camino island in Florida. By day, he is a just another guy, eking out earning to keep himself a afloat. But by night, few know that he sometimes is on the black market, dealing with rare and stolen books.

Months later, a young novelist named Mercer Mann is approached by a strange lady who thinks they might have a lead on the case of the stolen manuscripts. The only thing they need is someone-namely Mercer- to go undercover in what appears to be the sleepy resort island town and see if the leads are true. If the priceless manuscripts have been hiding in plain sight.

What I like about this book.

Okay, first I have to say my favorite thing that I read about this book is at the end where the author said that he knows that the Princeton library does have this manuscripts, but that is all he knows. The rest he made up for the story. He said that he didn’t want to encourage any ideas of stealing, so he did zero research on how the library stores the manuscripts and made up they’re kept in a vault under the library. I found that interesting.

Anyway, what I liked.

I enjoyed this story because it’s about one of my favorite topics: books and writings. One of the main characters, Mercer, is a writer with writer’s block and man, this girl felt real. The sections when she’s trying for information felt extremely realistic. I could of been reading about myself. I liked that a lot.

The plot is also quite good. This guy know what’s he’s doing. This is his 30th book and the plot moves right along. The book is only a bit over 300 pages, so there isn’t a lot of subplots, filler, or anything to side track you. Everything moves at a good pace and keeps suspense and tensions high.

Honestly, I can’t think of anything I didn’t really like. The characters felt very realistic, even the side ones. There’s a few that only have a small purpose, but they play their parts well and feel like real humans.

I think the only other thing is while the ending is very good, it’s not an insanely amazing crazy ending. That make sense?

Over all, this is a pretty good book. Mr. Grisham is an amazing author and I’m going to have to look into more of his books and see if I’ve been missing out by not reading his work.

7.5/10

Have you read anything else by him?

~Ames

Posted in Reading

Review: The Glass Castle

The Glass Castle, by Jeannette Walls.

So, this is a different book from what I usually review, as it’s a memoir and true story. I do read these from time to time, I just haven’t reviewed any yet. I wasn’t planning on even reading this book, but it was recommended to me and I couldn’t put it down.

This is probably once of the most intense and heartbreaking stories I’ve ever read, especially since it’s true. Jeannette’s childhood is a story about being raised by parents who were free spirits and did not like following laws or structures. It was a vibrant and wild life, but also destructive and dangerous.

She writes about moving constantly, not always living in a house. There’s parts where she talks about how at one point, they lived outside in the desert. Her parents didn’t want to work or hold down steady jobs, they just kinda floated from one place to the next. Her father was brilliant when he was sober, but drank a lot of the time. They encouraged their children’s imagination and taught them about geology and physics.

I don’t really feel like it’s appropriate to talk about what parts I like and didn’t like. I mean, this is someone’s story. The first chapter is how she’s describing when she was three, she was cooking for herself and burned her body. She told the nurses at the hospital she was cooking food to eat because she was hungry. She and her siblings had to learn to take care of themselves early. Their parents loved them, but weren’t very interested in being parents.

I will say, her writing style is quite good. She has a very simple style, as if she’s explaining. Nothing too fancy. I really like that.

This is one insane book and it stayed with me for a long time. I recommend it.

Finally, why is it called the Glass Castle? You have to read to find out. But there is a legitimate reason and it”s very interesting.

8/10

~Ames

Posted in writing

Writing is hard.

What’s this? I’m not writing a review!

Don’t worry, there’s more coming. I read so many books while my internet was down after the hurricane, it wasn’t even funny.

Anyway, writing has been hard as of late. I’m working on a rough draft of a book and I’m dealing with writer’s block. Like hardcore, bashing my head against the wall. It has not been good.

I’m about 100 pages into the book. I don’t write in chronological order, so I have the beginning and the end already. (I like the get the end out of the way pretty early. It helps me feel like I’m working toward something instead of meandering all over the place.) But I’m seriously struggling with the middle.

I think it’s just more of I don’t have enough of the finer plot sketched out yet and I don’t know the characters in that part of the book well enough to get it done. I think I need to do some character exercises and more outlining.

Yeah. Writing is difficult. If it wasn’t, then everyone would be doing it and publishing books left and right.

I want to get this rough draft finished by the end of 2017, although that isn’t looking too good right now. Once I finish it (whenever that might be) I have two rough draft that have been sitting for more then six months that I’m going to go back and give tehm a good strong edit.

What about you guys? Any projects you’re working on?

~Ames