Quick Book Review: Queen of America by T.J. Slee

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Book Review
Book Title: Queen of America  (Freya Eriksdottir #1)
Author: T.J. Slee
Date Read: September 26th – November 4th, 2016
Date Reviewed: November 4th, 2016

Background: I received this book for free through Goodreads First Reads for an honest review.

Quick Synopsis: This book is all about female vikings, which is a nice change from seeing all men vikings all the time. Freya goes out on a mission and is determined to finish it. You follow her struggles and the adventures that vikings have. It’s a great read following strong female characters that are also vikings.

Evaluation: This book was a good read, but I felt that the style did not match with me. This book is truly beautifully written and I love the strong female characters, the exciting plot and the incredible adventures, but I just didn’t like the writing style. It felt too slow for me, but that’s because I really like to read fast paced books. Yet, this book isn’t slow by any means – TJ keeps up an amazing pace. I just found it didn’t fit well with me as a reader. Other readers will definitely like this book! It gets all my praises and awards, but as a reader I just know the types of writing styles I like to read and TJ’s writing style doesn’t match with me personally.

That being said, it’s time to get into the juicy parts of this book. You follow Freya as she goes on an adventure, but you also meet her brother Leif. Her story was truly inspiring and compelling, which had me continue and finish this book.

For people interested in viking history but want a more interesting read than a history textbook, I would definitely suggest picking this book up. It’s a great fiction read that keeps you hooked and gives you some insight into their culture.

There are definitely characters I would have loved to see more of, but other than that there’s not much else to improve on in this set of stories. It’s truly a great read and I suggest readers pick it up!

4 out of 5 stars.

April Anthology Book Review: A Cup of Roses, Stories by 8 Writers by Fiona Gold Kroll

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Photo via Goodreads.

Book Review
Book Title: A Cup of Roses, Stories by 8 Writers
Book Author: Fiona Gold Kroll, Ruth Frankel-Graner, Gerda Frieberg, Carol Green, Sam Hoffer, Raizie Jacobson, David Rapoport, Jenny Roger.

Introduction: I received this book for free through Goodreads First Reads. As per usual, I was having a particular type of book craving – today it was anthology, and an overall short read. A Cup of Roses filled the bill, so I decided to pick it up and got so hooked I finished it in one sitting.

Review:

This anthology holds many different types of stories – humor, religion, drama, romance, food, history, joy, poetry, tragedy and so much more. For being so little, you wouldn’t expect much of an impact, but this book really had me interested and wanting more.

The book is incredibly easy to read, and each story is not to short but also not to long. The individual stories each have their own focus, none of which really seem connected. This helped me out when I began to get bored with a few of the short stories – each one had it’s own plot it centered around and did not depend on the others. These standalone stories are all well written, and are all written in different writing styles (since there are many authors that created this anthology).

Was this book my top, all time favourite anthology? No. Did it rank high? Yes. While it doesn’t get the gold, it definitely gets second place in my books. While the book didn’t wow my socks off, it did give me an interesting perspective into many different aspects of the writers lives/imagination. I wasn’t expecting to have to think or have my opinions rattled with this book, but it does just that. And as a reader and reviewer, I love a book that makes me think and form different opinions – or just gives me insight into something I haven’t thought about before.

I don’t have any recommendations for how to make this little series of stories better. It’s perfect in it’s own little way. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone and everyone who wants to read an anthology that doesn’t have one clear focus (and doesn’t have a connection between all of them). It’s great for a rainy day, a small lunch break, a school project, or just as a different type of read.

Would I want more from these authors? Absolutely. I enjoyed each story – while not all of them had my hooked to every word, they were all beautifully written and well thought out. I didn’t want to put the book down, I had to keep going (which is rare. Often I can set a book down and forget about it for a while, but I didn’t want to leave this book behind. I had to finish it).

Overall, this was an incredible read. I enjoyed each story, I felt educated, and the book made me think.

Four out of five stars.

Quick Book Review: Mount of Hope:A Victorian Tale of Young Love by Jamie Michele

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Mount of Hope was a wonderful historical, romance read!

This novel is set in the 19th century in England and follows the main characters Alfred and Julia, who are adoptive siblings. Julia is considered an ugly duckling and far from the wonder child Alfred is, especially since Julia was adopted when her parents passed. The young woman has feelings for her adoptive sibling that are very obvious, but Alfred seems a little oblivious to it all. Meanwhile, Alfred is falling for a beautiful young woman named Amelia, who might be more deceptive than she seems at first glance.

Overall, this novel was cute. It took a while for me to get into the plot, since it starts out rather slow. It is a great novel to read though! The language is beautiful and it is obvious that Jamie Michele translated it from the original copy of the book.

Alongside the slow speed, I did find the novel to have many cliches. Perhaps the cliches are very obvious since this is an older novel, but I guessed most of what would happen. Despite these two problems, this book is an incredible novel!

I would definitely suggest this to people interested in: Romance, historical novels, historical romances, and someone who just wants a short, quick read.

I give this book a three out of five stars, due to the slow pace and the cliches that were easily guessed throughout the novel.

I received this novel for free through Goodreads First Reads.

Quick Book Review: The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah

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Photo via Goodreads.

I never liked stories about History, but this novel definitely made me gain a new respect for War stories.

The Nightingale follows a set of two sisters throughout World War 2, and it a thrilling, addicting read. Vianne Mauriac’s husband has set off to war and she must deal with the aftermath of his absence. Soldiers from Germany are invading France, which means anyone who is labelled a Jew will be in trouble in the near future. Vianne must deal with soldiers staying in her home, friends disappearing, orphaned children, and situations no woman would ever want to face.

Meanwhile Vianne’s sister Isabelle is doing the opposite of Vianne, she’s getting involved. Vianne is trying to stay quiet if she decides to help, but Isabelle is being loud and proud. Isabelle will help people, and is determined to no matter what.

The story has many different arcs and plot intertwined in one. Vianne’s love story with her husband, Isabelle’s love story, Vianne and Isabelle’s rough relationship with their father, the War itself, the life of Jewish people during the war, the life of those who are friends with Jewish people, and many other little side plots that create an epic, war-time drama.

I found this book to be very believable. The entire novel is written in an excellent style and gets better as you read. At first it seemed a little boring, but after a few chapters I was hooked an addicted. The novel shares the feelings of the characters during this rough time, and nothing seems out of place.

As someone who didn’t have a great appreciation for History, I definitely respect anyone who lived or lost during the wars now. While this might be a fictional novel, it gives many examples of what happened to people during the war time. Kristin Hannah did an excellent job showcasing the War in a fictional novel and making it highly believable.

I would suggest this book to anyone who likes: Historical fiction, dramatic novels, novels with a mere splash of romance, war stories, and realistic novels.

Five out of five stars! A truly amazing read that transports you to World War ll in France.

I received this book for free through Goodreads First Reads.

Book Review – From First Victim to Last: Serial Murderers (Ready Research Book 3) by Mindy M. Shelton

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Book Review
Book Title: From First Victim to Last: Serial Murderers
Book Author: Mindy M. Shelton

Introduction: I love true crime stories – I binge watch Murder With Friends on the Pop Trigger YouTube Channel, I love Kathy Reich’s Temperance Brennan series, I love Bones and Murdoch Mysteries and I just find it incredibly interesting (and incredibly horrifying). Psychologically, I find it so strange but intriguing, but at the same time I’m horribly repulsed… So, when Mindy offered me the entire series revolving around murders, how could I say no to a few honest reviews? (Or five…).

Review:

If you have read the other books in this series, I must inform you that this book is a little bit different – there’s a lot more reading to do! This novel has a lot more information compiled into it than the previous novels. There is still the typical format of one murderer per chapter with the sections describing their names, date of birth and death, dates of murders, confirmed and suspected suspects, potential alises, states/areas of murders, sentences and other information. But, there is also a lot more background into the murders (because there were so many and some were highly publicized).

Compared to the first two novels, this one is a step up. It’s not wildly different, but the extra explanations make the book so much more interesting. Mindy couldn’t have added much more in the previous novels due to the absence of information, but this little addition still made this book so much better.

The textbook is non-fiction and is not told like a narrative – it’s told like a report. There are facts, citations and explanations regarding everything that happened. There is some speculation, but it is cited from the correct sources.

I truly enjoyed this book, even if it is about gruesome, horrible crimes. It gives the reader the correct information in the shortest amount of time and can be easily used as a reference (whether for true crime addicts or students).

Overall, I give this book five out of five! It’s helpful, interesting and well written.

Author Interview: Mindy M. Shelton. Author of FROM FIRST VICTIM TO LAST: SERIAL MURDERERS

Today, I am featuring a debut author on my blog – Mindy M. Shelton! This interview will give a different perspective into the life of a non-fiction true crime author that has recently been featured on my blog!

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Mindy M. Shelton has written both non-fiction and fiction in her career including the Ready Research Series and All  Tucked Inn: An Elizabeth Burke Thriller. It is such an honor to be able to interview her and be able to feature her books on my blog! Thank you Mindy for such an incredible opportunity and thank you for all of your hard work!

Now onto the hard-hitting questions…

1. For an introduction, can you try to describe yourself in one sentence?

Just a hardworking mother and wife, who loves to spend her time putting ideas to paper (or computer screen!).

2. What got you interested in true crime?

My first short-stint in college was as a Criminal Justice student. My mother was a paralegal and my father a policeman in the Army, so it truly is in my blood. I would have become a CSI, which was known as an ID Tech back then, but my husband and I had twins at the very young age of 19, so I had to delay my college dreams for a few years. By the time I went back, business was a better fit for my lifestyle. But, now I do everything I can to read and write within my first love, criminal justice.

3. How did you choose which murderers to feature in your books?

That’s a great question as I didn’t think at the time to really describe that in the books, but I chose them based on a couple of metrics. The first was that they had to be convicted, or had already pled guilty. I didn’t include anyone who was acquitted. For instance, Casey Anthony was not included in Mommies who Murder, no matter what my personal opinion of her case happens to be. The second metric I used was if there were any accomplices. I tried not to include a Bonnie and Clyde type situation, only because I didn’t want to include Bonnie if Clyde were the true murderer. And thinking on it now, I also tried to balance the well-known cases with the lesser-known, if that makes sense. In Serial Murderers, I made it a point to use a couple we all had heard of, like John Wayne Gacy and Gary Ridgway, but then I also included some I’d never heard of, like Wayne Williams and Robert Hansen. I learned a lot researching all of these books, so it was beneficial for me to include murderers I didn’t remember.

4. Out of all the murders you listed in the books, which were your favourite? Did any leave you speechless?

Many left me speechless! I seriously had nightmares when I was writing Serial Murderers. I think the ones that stick out in my memory though, were the children murderers. There was a case where the child (around 15-years-old, I believe) was being punished. Nothing severe, just a typical “go to your room and think about what you did” situation. Well, he got a gun and snuck up behind his parents, who were just innocently sitting on their couch watching TV, and he whispered, “Close your eyes, I have a surprise for you” and then shot them both in the head! I couldn’t believe it. And the only reason we know he said this was because the poor father lived to tell the tale. What makes a person think through this type of retribution and actually commit the act? It’s fascinating.

5. How long do you spend researching before you begin writing?

I spent a good couple of weeks researching before the writing began and then continued to research throughout the process. I tried to make a list of the people to include before beginning the book, but several times something caught my eye during research and the list changed.

6. What is one fact about yourself that you think might shock your readers?

Both times I’ve been pregnant has been with multiples! My doctor said I could have had a litter, but when it was all said and done, we were blessed with three healthy, wonderful children. I couldn’t ask for anything more. Oh, and thanks to being an odd child myself, I can say the alphabet backwards really fast. Not sure if any of this is shocking, but my husband uses it as my party trick.

7. Is there a genre of book you would like to write in the future?

I’m working on a fiction book right now that I’m extremely excited about. I’ll be sure to request your thoughts when it’s ready to be beta-tested, but all I can say right now is that it’s a YA thriller. Think FBI-meets-a-nonmagical-Harry Potter. LOL, actually it’s about ten teenagers, but I’ll leave it all that…

8. How do you get yourself inspired when going through writer’s block?

That’s such a depressing situation, but it happens to us all. Since I have a full time “non-writer” career, I travel a lot. Through those travels, I have found I do my best thinking while driving on a long trip. So, when things get stagnant, I hit the road and play an audiobook. It gets the brain going and the ideas flowing!

9. If you could collaborate with any professional (writer, actor, director, etc), who would you like to collaborate with?

The expected answer would be Ann Rule, and yes, I’d love to sit down with her, but if I could only pick one person it would be Nora Roberts. I’ve read, and loved, her novels since I was a teenager. I want to work with her and figure out how she can put out so many books in a year and if it really is ghost writers, how did she find so many that can duplicate her format. It’s impressive. No matter the book, or information in the book, I always love it. Not sure if I’ve ever read a Nora Roberts (or J.D. Robb) book I didn’t enjoy.

10. Finally, what question have you always wanted to be asked in an interview? How would you answer that question?

I guess I always expect to be ask why I write. It sounds so simple, but it’s not. I write because I have to. I write because I love it. No, sometimes I hate writing, but the outcome is what I crave. But, here’s a funny story. When I was a waitress, and said twins were about three-years-old, there was a Psychic Convention in the city. Not something I ever believed in, but I waited on a psychic who wanted to read my fortune to me. She used cards and as she flipped one over, I saw a single letter in the corner of the card. By the time she flipped five cards, those letters spelled out the word NOTES. She turned to me and said, “Oh, you’re going to be a writer.” I was shocked. Never even thought about writing. Then over the years, no matter my profession, I was always tagged with writing the documents everyone needed. I thought about that psychic and sat down to write a book. All Tucked Inn can be found on Amazon and is a fiction murder mystery. Isn’t it strange how one person can affect your life? I find it so very interesting. Was I destined to be a writer? Or did I become a writer because I was nudged? Fascinating, to say the least.

Oh, and I’ve always wanted to be asked about my least favorite part of the process. It’s definitely the editing, creating a book cover, and marketing. Every single part except writing. I’m not sure the average reader knows what is in involved in self-publishing. When I see a review on a new writer that gives him or her one star and mentions a couple typos, I cringe. It’s so easy to make an error and that poor writer probably didn’t know they’d have to be line editor, copy editor, cover designer, agent, publicist, etc. Just to get a book out there is an accomplishment, so I ask people to be nice if they are taking the time to review a book. Especially if it’s free or very inexpensive. Yes, it should be up to “James Patterson” standards, but he has teams of people telling him where the typos are J And that is why those ebooks are $13.99!

How can readers discover more about you and you work?

Website: Website
Blog:  Expert of None Blog
Facebook:  Mindy M. Shelton Facebook
Twitter: https://twitter.com/mindy_shelton
Amazon Author Page:  Amazon: An Elizabeth Burke Thriller by Mindy M. Shelton
Goodreads: Mindy M. Shelton on Goodreads

Thank you so much to Mindy M. Shelton for such an in-depth and fantastic interview! It was a pleasure to be able to interview her and get an insight into her life (on and off the page!).

Interested in Mindy M. Shelton’s books? Here are the Goodreads Links and Photos:

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Form Birth to Death: Mommies Who Murder (Ready Research #1)

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From Cradle to Grave: Children Who Murder (Ready Research #2)

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From First Victim to Last: Serial Murderers (Ready Research #3)

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From Playground to Prison: Siblings Who Murder (Ready Research #4)

30969534From Wedding to Funeral: Spouses Who Murder (Ready Research #5)

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All Tucked Inn: An Elizabeth Burke Thriller

Quick Book Review: The Almond Tree by Michelle Cohen Corasanti

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I usually do not read this kind of book, but I must say it wow-ed me on so many levels. It started out to slow for my liking, but after about three chapters I was highly addicted and I wanted to know the life story of Ichmad Hamid. This book follws the life of Ichmad Hamid from when he was a child to when he begins an elderly man. You learn of the bright mind that Ichmad has and how he tries to get a better life for his family because of his gifted mind. I learned quite a bit about culture from this book, and I learned an even greater amount of knowledge on racism and hatred. This book centrals around a main concept (at least what I got as the main theme) of family. No matter what happened in this book Ichmad cared greatly about his family and always focused on that. When Ichmad went through school, he made sure to consider his family before every move. Ichmad made sure to think of his family when he started to develop farther in his love life as well.

I only had two problems with this book, and one was what was centered around Nora. She did go along well with the theme of family, but her storyline did break my heart quite a bit.

My second problem was that the book just seemed to end. I didn’t really see a resolution of any form happen, it felt as if the author ran out of words she was allowed to use and ended it. If some form of slowing down or conclusion would have happened, it could have been a much better book.

Either way, I believe it deserves 5 out of 5 stars for the beautiful message it sends.

Side note: I received this book free through Goodreads First Reads.