The Letter for the King Book Review

Book: The Letter for the King
Author: Tonke Dragt
Rating: 4 Out of 5 Stars

I would like to thank the publisher and Netgalley for providing me with this ARC. Well, I guess it’s not really an ARC since the book was published a long time ago, but this is a new edition.

So, I have never heard of this book until now. I don’t know how it could have slipped by me, but it did. The Letter for the King has everything that a great fantasy needs. It has adventure, excitement, and well written characters. It is written in a more traditional, classical fantasy style. Think Lord of the Rings here people.

The writing is amazing. Although, there were a few times that I found myself wincing. Like the Lord of the Rings, Dragt does tend to tell us what is going on instead of actually showing us in a few places. This is always a big issue for me, because whenever I am being told what is going on, it kind of feels like they are either trying to cut corners or the publisher is making them cut their book down. I don’t know which one it is.

The characters were well developed and well written. There is a lot of them, but I didn’t have any trouble keeping them straight.  It felt like that none of them were trying to get their chance in the spotlight and everyone was important. There are a lot of books that I read that just add characters for the sake of having a large cast and this is not the case here.

This really is one of the most underrated and overlooked books that I have read in a long time. People really do need to find this book and pick it up for themselves. I think they really will be in for a surprise.

The Cruel Prince Book Review

Book: The Cruel Prince
Author: Holly Black
Rating: 2 Out of 5 Stars

Warning: Unpopular Book Opinion coming your way.

Okay, let me start out by asking this question: what was all the hype with this book? I mean, I really don’t get it. The world building was good and  I did like the world, but other than that, I really don’t see what’s so special about this one. Granted, the only Holly Black books that I can say that I have loved have been The Spiderwick Chronicles. I guess I should have seen this coming. It’s just a good think I borrowed this one instead of actually buying it.

Now, I did love the world building. It was something that pulled me right in. I also love Fae stories and I must say that Holly did an amazing job with creating a Fae world. It had an evil king, rich detail, and a hidden world. On that aspect, everything was great. Though I will say that Holly is not the Queen of Fae. Sarah J Maas is still better on that aspect, in my mind.

The characters were weak. I’m sorry, but they were. They were not developed and flat, which made it really difficult to keep everyone straight. Not only that, but I didn’t’ find them all that believable and they were really hard to connect to. I just found myself really not caring about them.  Not only that, but why does young adult insist on having a gay or bi character in every book? Hey, I am all for it, but it’s getting old. Diverse characters does not involve this.

The writing was also very weak. If you are going to write about the Fae, I expect a little bit more complex writing. Look at other young adult fantasy writers and you will see what I’m talking about. It was almost like Holly dumbed down the writing in some places and not in others. This made for kind of a messy book. As most of you know, I do not like messy books.

The plot was messy as well. I was reading and all of a sudden we are talking about a tournament , which to me has nothing to do with Jude’s background. I would had much rather Holly explore her background, instead of going this route. It just didn’t make sense. Everything was just thrown at us without really anything being explained. It was almost like Holly just expected us to go along with everything without really questioning it. It was just poor, in my book.

Overall, I am giving this one a poor rating. What saved it from a one star was the fact that I did like the world, but other than that, I was not impressed.

Love Life and the List Book Review

Book: Love, Life, and the List
Author: Kasie West
Rating: 4 Out of 5 Stars

I do love Kasie West books, but when I first starting reading this one, I was a little bit concerned. The standard Kasie West just wasn’t there. The characters nor the plot jumped out at me and made me  not want  to go on. I kept on going and the plot did get a lot better. About ten percent of the way in, I found the author that I have come to know and love.

Abby is probably my least favourite Kasie West character. She is an artist who is trying to get into an art program. Her mom has mental problems and her dad is deployed. This really should make her a deep character, but it’s not just there. What Abby goes through just doesn’t come off the page. We know that she is suffering, but we don’t get that. We also don’t know what kind of an artist she is, as her earlier work is not really discussed. Now, I did like Abby, don’t get me wrong. I admired her drive to improve and how she stuck it out. I loved how close she was to people and how she treated people, for the most part. At the end, I think she really does act her age. Go back to your teen years and think about your own behaviour.

I loved Cooper. He’s sweet and loyal. He is probably one of my favourite Kasie West lead males. He has a need for speed as he is a quad racer and will do anything for Abby. I love how he went of his way to help Abby become a better artist. However, he does seem kind of blind to how Abby feels about him, even went as far as to reject her. He really does want Abby to grow as a person, which also seems to make him grow as well.

The side characters were well done, but I didn’t think there was as many as past books. I did like the smaller cast, but maybe some more characters would had added some depth to Abby’s character.

The writing was the normal Kasie West writing. Cute, fun, and simple! This made for a really quick and light read, which is what I need sometimes. I did really think that beginning was slow and the ending was rushed.

Overall, not a bad read. Just don’t let the slow start turn you off of this one.

Wonder Book Review

Book: Wonder

Author: R.J Palacio

Rating: 5 Out of 5 Stars

I know, I know...I am probably the last person who has read this. I have been on the library waiting list for some long and it really did feel like it was forever. All of the middle school English classes are reading this.

Right away I was quickly pulled into the world of Wonder. I loved the real feel of it and just how much of real life it was actually about. I loved all of the characters and how they grew. Everything about this book was really amazing and it pulled me right in. There are so many emotions that I feel that this book is bound to hit you hard and really make you think about the world around you. I just felt so drawn to the book and was pulled right in.

Auggie is our main character and he is going to school for the very first time. Now, as many of you know, he isn't really normal. He has a syndrome that affects the way his face look different. He is really a sweet boy, who finds the world to be kind of an evil place. Now, he doesn't let this stop him from being himself, but he has been handed a rather difficult life. He is a strong character, who enjoys doing the same thing that normal fifth grade boys do.

Not only do we have Auggie's point of view, but those who are closest to him. The part that hit me hard was Via. She is not by any means ashamed of her brother, but she does want her chance to shine. She has always put Auggie first and I really do understand why she acts the way the way she did. Put yourself in her shoes.

I think what really made this book was RJ Ralacio's writing. It really was wonderful and eye opening. I was just amazed by how much emotion she could pack into such short chapters. It was just wow...That's all I have for you.

Yes, this book is worth all the hype that it gets. I do strongly encourage everyone to give this book a chance.

From the Earth to the Shadows Book Review

Book: From the Earth to the Shadows
Author: Amanda Hocking
Rating: 3 Out of 5 Stars

I would like to thank Netgalley and the publisher, Wednesday Books, for providing me with this ARC.

This is probably the lowest rating I have even given an Amanda Hocking book. I loved the first book, but I did find this one to be lacking. I don’t know what it was, but there was a lot missing. I thought the plot was slow to build up with a rather rushed ending. Don’t get me wrong, I still love this world, but this one was just not up to Amanda’s normal standards.

I view this book as being kind of messy and not in a good way. The writing and plot just seemed really, really forced. I don’t know if there was pressure to meet a due date or what, but it just wasn’t up to Amanda’s normal standards. Whereas the first book seemed to be a bit more complex in terms of writing and plot, From the Earth to the Shadows just did not have that magic touch.

The plot was very simple and by simple, I mean simple. The situations the characters found themselves in were just convenient with very convenient outcomes. Nothing was ever very urgent because there was always a solution and one that was reached very carefully. Nothing felt like it was ever urgent. I guess to put it simply: there was really no extension to the world.

With all of this messiness, I found it really hard to connect with Malin. I loved her and the rest of the gang, but in this second book, I really did find myself not caring about them. I did find Asher’s story to be interesting, but even it kind of fell flat at the end. Like the world building, there was just really not character growth here either.

I did expect more from this book than what I got. While it is not a bad book, I do think there is still some work to be done before publication day, which is April 24, 2018. I do feel that my three star rating is fitting.

First Look At Upon

Hello! Here is your first look at Upon, which will be out sometime this summer.

Summary:
Ryanon and Dak find themselves on the run after the fall of Leria. Whispers of the Black Moon Objects follow them everywhere as the magic and darkness bares down on them. Someone is watching...Someone is following them...Meanwhile, Amberfall and the Trelians prepare to journey to Xandria with what hopefully is a large army. Xandria finds itself torn in two as the civil war reaches home and Vicar ascends to the throne.


Expcert:
The sounds of the drums echoed over the city of Skalavik. The sun had barely broken over the horizon, but, yet, the city was already awake. The starved faces of people peered out of their doors as prisoners were marched through the streets. Legions and castle guards urged them forward as they marched under Vicar Morninghelm’s banner.
The legions’ and guards’ uniforms shone as the early morning sun hit them. The prisoners marched, bound and gagged, under their watchful eye. The legions and guards eyed the citizens, as if they were daring them to come out and change to change their fate.
They marched right over the dead bodies that littered the ground without a second thought, making it seem as if the dead weren’t really there.
No one noticed the young man ducking in the shadows. He belonged to no one, didn’t serve a soul besides himself. The only thing he was worried about was saving his brother who was currently being marched to his death. 
Dreu darted through a small alley. He still hadn’t caught sight of his brother and knew he was running out of time. The gallows were just straight ahead, waiting for this morning’s round of victims. 
If the king kept this up, there would be no one left in Xandria.
It didn’t make sense to him as to why his brother was going to hang. He had not been involved with Dak Morninghelm nor had they even supported him. The brothers had always just kept their heads low, trying to stay completely out of the fight.  They just wanted to have enough to eat. What was so wrong about that?
The sun blinded him as he came out of the darkness. Though he couldn’t see them yet, he could hear them. They would be coming any moment now.
Dreu loaded his ancient bow. He didn’t even know what he was doing, but it was far better sitting around and doing nothing. 
The group marched by him. Ahead, he could see the faint outline of the gallows. He was running out of time.
He quickly scanned the group, but there was no sign of his brother. He crept a little bit further out the shadows, daring not to go much further. His hands shook just a bit as he held the bow.
The group was right in front of him now. He scanned the passing poor souls, but, yet, there was still nothing. The nobles were actually calling out to the condemned, making fun of them. Dreu’s eyes narrowed. Why would you make fun of someone who was about to meet such an awful fate?
Someone was reading something from the gallows, but he didn’t hear the words. Where was his brother? He had to be here! He just had to be! He hadn’t been in any of the earlier death marches.
The group had now come to a complete stop in front of the gallows. Many of them were trying to look brave and failing. A few didn’t even bother to hid their fear. The first group was forced upwards, bagged, and the noose went around their necks. The level was pulled and their life left them. On to the next group....
Dreu kept scanning the group, but there was no sign of his brother. 
Then, something happened. He heard someone yelling at him, pointing at his bow. Swearing, Dreu stepped back into the shadows just as a familiar figure was bagged and the level pulled.
Screams filled his ears as he ran away from the scene. It took him three blocks to realize that the screams were his own.

Happy Friday! Once and Storytime Are Free!

Well, it's snowing here again and I have decided last minute to make Once and Storytime free on Smashwords! From April 6-April 8 both novels are free!


Here's the Link: https://www.smashwords.com/profile/vi...

Once: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view...

Storytime: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view...

I am not running an Amazon sale at this time. Check back later though.

Scarborough Fair Book Review

Book: Scarborough Fair
Author: Margarita Morris
Rating: 4 Out of 5 Stars

I would like to thank Netgalley and Margarita Morris for providing me with this galley.

I will admit that I was drawn to this book more so than the summary. I am not going to lie. That doesn’t mean that the summary didn’t get my attention, but look at the cover. It’s so pretty! I guess that this is one of the cases that the cover really sold the book.

This book is told from two time frames, I guess. Alice is from the Victorian era and Rose is from, well, now. Both girls are pulled together by mystery. Alice disappeared and no one knows really what happened to her. Rose, her maid’s great-great daughter, finds letters and starts to read them. She quickly discovers that everything is not what is seems.


I thought that the characters were actually pretty well put together. I really enjoyed Alice, Mary, and Rose. However, I didn’t really understand the propose for some of them, such as Kitty. I just didn’t see what she really had to add to the story. They also were not as complex and as well developed as those who are in books that I give a five start rating to. We do have a huge cast of characters and, like I just got done saying, I am not sure that a lot of them really add anything to the overall plot. I mean, I did know who everyone was, but it was hard to juggle when I first started out reading the book.

The world building was excellent. Margarita really comes alive with this. She does an amazing job of portraying Scarborough as this really homely, magical small English town. Like other small towns, we have our dark secrets. I know it sounds really clichéd and it probably is, but there was just something about it that really pulled me in.

Margarita’s writing was beautiful. She knew when to have a lighter mood and when to have kind of a darker one. The ability to write rather gentler and action scenes with such ease really appealed to me. She also really played with the senses, which only made the book come more alive for me.

Overall, this was a pretty entertaining book, with a few issues. However, I do think that it is still worth your time to pick this up and read it. 

Elizabeth and Mary: Cousins, Rivals, Queens Book Review

Book: Elizabeth and Mary: Cousins, Rivals, Queens
Author: Jane Dunn
Rating: 5 Out of 5 Stars

So, I actually read this book a while back and I am just getting around to writing the review. I really cannot remember the last time I wrote a review for a five star book. It’s been awhile, it feels like.

Elizabeth and Mary’s rival is one of the most interesting events in history for me. I really didn’t get into Mary, Queen of Scots until Reign...Yeah, I know that probably wasn’t the best way to become really interested in her life. I just love the dynamic nature of this historical event and I am always looking for books on these two. Now, I was a bit disappointed that this book did seem to focus more on Elizabeth than Mary, but I am willing to overlook that, because I do think that this is a well written book. I know a lot of people will say otherwise, but I most certainly do think that this is one of the better written history books out there.

What I liked was Jane really didn’t romanticize Mary, which a lot of people do seem to do.  Jane presents Mary in a very realistic picture. She was a product of the French court and used to having everything handed to her. (Is that the right way to put it?) She was taught, by the French, that it was her right to rule and that was how things were going to work. Between this and her depression, we see how Mary is set up to make some poor decisions, which seal her fate.  She lives a life of self-indulgence, which also leads to her downfall. Now, I do actually feel bad for Mary. Sure, she made a lot of poor decisions, but how can you not really feel bad for her?


Elizabeth...Oh, Elizabeth was clearly not Mary. Anyone who knows about Elizabeth knows that she was not at all like her cousin. She was careful and really thought about her actions. She gave up a lot for England, even love. She, I think, really did care for Mary, who was said to haunt her for the rest of her days. She had to rule in a man’s world, in a position that very few women held. I think that this was really what drew her to Mary. After all, they were both queens in their own right.

I could go on and on about these two, but I think most of us already know the story. I will say that if Elizabeth had agreed to meet Mary, history may have been very different.  So what stopped her from getting close to Mary? Elizabeth would not meet Mary, wanted to have a say in who Mary married, and would not give her asylum in England. What ended Mary’s reign in Scotland? She did not have the support of the nobles, she was Catholic, and made unpopular choices in her husbands. I know there is more to than that, but I really do think that this is what sealed her fate.

However, Mary’s son, James, did end up as King of England and Scotland. So, you tell me, who got the last laugh?

Overall, a well written and well put together book. It was easy to read and well researched. There really isn’t anything new in this book, but I think most people will find it to be a rather enjoyable read. 

Helpful Youtube Channel For Writing

So, I was browsing on Youtube instead of writing, editing, and reading my ARCs when I found this Youtube Channel. I have found it to be both very helpful to my writing and I think it will help those of you who are looking to use blogs to help promote your books. Granted, each blogger, including me, has certain certeria for books, which can usually be found under the profile. Anyway, I think that Ellen and I are on the same page as to what we are looking for in books. I also found a few ways to improve my own writing.

Below, I have included Ellen's information and a link to her Youtube channel.

Ellen Brock
E




DescriptionNeed help with your novel? Have a question about writing great characters, plotting your novel, outlining, or finding your voice? My videos aim to answer common novel writing questions. About Me I am a professional freelance editor with five years of experience. I started editing full time in 2011 and began working shortly after as an editor with Musa Publishing where I was quickly promoted to head editor of Musa's middle grade imprint. I left Musa in 2012 to freelance full time. Since then I have worked with about 150 writers per year as an editor, writing coach, and plot consultant. My clients are represented at a number of agencies, including The Unter Agency, Irene Goodman Literary Agency, and Upstart Crow Literary. My clients have published with Katherine Tegen Books, The Wild Rose Press, and many have launched successful self-publishing careers. If you would like to get in touch, please visit my website: https://ellenbrockediting.com/


Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/user/KeytopServices/about


Serena