Category Archives: Book Reviews

Book Review: Always Darkest by Jess and Keith Flaherty

What’s better than winning a book giveaway?  Maybe finding out that it’s a paperback (because I’m just an old-fashioned girl, after all)?  Or that it’s signed?  Or that it’s just really, really good.  Always Darkest was all of that and more.

From the Back Cover:  

Everybody loves a hero.
Everybody loves an antihero with a heart of gold.
Nobody loves a demon.
Nobody but Mal Sinclair, though she doesn’t know it.
Ben was just looking for a vacation from hell, but wound up finding his life’s purpose instead.
Always Darkest, Book I of The Arbitratus Trilogy, draws you into a world of angels and demons walking among us, a world where good and evil are not absolutes. An ancient prophesy sets the stage, but the players will decide the outcome.
And the fate of the world hangs in the balance.

Always Darkest

What I Loved:  While I can’t say that I’m usually into the demons-and-angels genre, I really got sucked in by this book.  The premise was highly intriguing, especially as I started to get about a quarter of the way in.

One of the main characters is a demon, but he’s a surprisingly likable demon.  He’s easy to relate to, and I found myself rooting for him early on.  (What does it say about me that I’m on a demon’s side?)  But that was the case with several of the characters.  They had distinct personalities that made them memorable and delightful.

Interestingly enough, the book is written from an omniscient point of view.  This isn’t something I’ve come across very often, and I think it takes a lot of talent to pull it off successfully without making it seem like the author had just forgotten what POV he or she was using.  But the Flahertys really make it work.  It not only helps the depth of the book unfold, but also seems incredibly relevant considering the subject matter.  (Is God, in his omniscience, witnessing all of this?)

The descriptions are just wonderful!  I truly felt like I was in the story, whether I was meeting a character or exploring a new place.  Here are a few of my favorites:

“She had once been almost forbiddingly beautiful, but whatever she had been doing had corrupted her exterior and she was beginning to resemble her true nature; her former rich colors fading to grey, her teeth sharpening, her skin starting to crepe and sag.  She had all the warmth of a pit viper and made no secret of her contempt for demons.  The unblinking way she stared at him made Ben certain she was fantasizing about turning him inside out and leaving him hanging from a tree at midnight.”

“She spent some of her early years around New Englad, was born in Boston, but she had no memory of real time here, save for a vague sense she would like the smell of a Christmas tree in the house, and she might want to try her painfully underdeveloped artsy side by paining with her dad when the leaves changed.”  (Honestly, this is just a small part of about two pages that made me feel as though I was completely immersed in autumn.  Crisp air, sweatshirts, and hot coffee.  I loved it.)

“Life, after all, was cruel, and no one had ever promised him the afterlife wouldn’t be.”

I also have to say that any book that makes several mentions of Star Trek and mentions one of my favorite dishes to make that nobody has ever heard of (cassoulet) gets several points in my book.

What I Didn’t Love So Much:  Right at first, it’s a little difficult to keep track of the characters because there are so many demons, fallen angels, and other various roles.  Fortunately, this clears itself up after the first couple of chapters.

Also, I think this book might make a little more sense to me if I knew more about the Bible, but that’s all on me.

Most of all, I just hated that it had to end.  I’m ready for the next one!

Rating and Recommendation:  5 stars

If you like intrigue, romance, ancient history brought to life, fantastical creatures, great dialogue, battle scenes, and the way you feel in the pit of your stomach when the seasons change, then you’ll love Always Darkest.

If you don’t like any of that, then you must be dead.

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Ashley O’Melia is an independent author and freelancer from Southern Illinois.  She holds her Bachelor’s Degree in Creative Writing and English from Southern New Hampshire University.  Her books include The Wanderer’s Guide to Dragon Keeping and The Graveside Detective.  Her short stories have been published in The Penmen Review, Paradox, and Subcutaneous.  Ashley’s freelance work has spanned numerous genres for clients around the world.  You can find her on Facebook and Amazon.

Be sure to check out the monthly giveaway!

Interested in having your book reviewed?  Contact me.  Don’t forget to sign up for my mailing list for news and more!

I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.  I will always give you my honest opinion about an item when linking to it.

 

 

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Book Review: A Class Apart by Susie Murphy

Romance, drama, suspense, and beautiful scenery reign supreme in A Class Apart by Susie Murphy.  I was given a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review, and I can’t wait to tell you about it!

a class apart

From the Cover:  It’s 1828, and Ireland is in turmoil as Irish tenants protest against their upper-class English landlords.
Nineteen-year-old Bridget Muldowney is thrilled to return to the estate in Carlow she’ll inherit when she comes of age. But since she left for Dublin seven years earlier, the tomboy has become a refined young lady, engaged to be married to a dashing English gentleman.
Cormac McGovern, now a stable hand on the estate, has missed his childhood friend. He and Bridget had once been thick as thieves, running wild around the countryside together.
When Bridget and Cormac meet again their friendship begins to rekindle, but it’s different now that they are adults. Bridget’s overbearing mother, determined to enforce the employer-servant boundaries, conspires with Bridget’s fiancé to keep the pair apart.
With the odds stacked against them, can Bridget and Cormac’s childhood attachment blossom into something more?

What I Loved:  A Class Apart is a breathtaking piece of historical fiction that made me turn the pages so fast I thought my fingers might catch on fire.  The descriptions completely transported me.  The characters were clear, believable, and relatable.  There is genuinely something happening in every chapter, so this isn’t a tale of ladies sitting in the parlor and gossiping over tea.  The story encompasses the real truths that the people in Ireland had to face in their time, weaving a heartrending tale that’s impossible not to read.

I usually make notes as I read a book when I know I’m going to review it, but I didn’t want to put this book down long enough to do so.  There’s so much more I wish I could say about it, because A Class Apart deserves heaps of praise.  It’s a true testament to the fact that indie authors can and do take pride in creating literary art.

What I Didn’t Love So Much:  Nothing!  That it ended, maybe?  I want more!  Since this is noted as the first book in a series, I can’t wait for the next volume!

Rating and Recommendation:  If you love to see a place and time in history come to life, if you love romance, glorious prose, and a read that will keep you on your couch well past the time you should have gotten up to make dinner, then A Class Apart is for you.  I wish I could award more, but I give it 5 out of 5 stars.

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Ashley O’Melia is an independent author and freelancer from Southern Illinois.  She holds her Bachelor’s Degree in Creative Writing and English from Southern New Hampshire University.  Her books include The Wanderer’s Guide to Dragon Keeping and The Graveside DetectiveHer short stories have been published in The Penmen Review, Paradox, and Subcutaneous.  Ashley’s freelance work has spanned numerous genres for clients around the world.  You can find her on Facebook and Amazon.

Be sure to check out the monthly giveaway!

Interested in having your book reviewed?  Contact me.  Don’t forget to sign up for my mailing list for news and more!

Once A Wanderer Cover - ebook

 

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Book Review – The Troubled Youth by Anthony Miner

When two people are forced to confront their past and their future all at once, how can they possibly handle it?  That’s what you’ll discover in The Troubled Youth by Anthony Miner.

From the Cover:  Jackson and Samantha live modestly in a small apartment in Upstate New York when tragedy strikes Jackson’s family back in his hometown of Lake Joy, Massachusetts. Now the couple, along with their two cats, pack up their lives to take care of the family he left behind years ago.
The Troubled Youth is a novel about the two of the most drastic parts of life; heartache and love. For Jackson, it follows his journey back to a place he long forgot with the added pressure of grieving over the loss of a loved one. And for Samantha, the story shows growth and pain of adjusting to a new life. As a couple, they will struggle and mature. But the more they seem to learn from each other, the more their past mistakes will come back to push them away.
Regular everyday life rarely offers a clear cut good and evil. There is just opinions mixed with choices. Read the story of this fiction and follow a realistic story of a young couple that make plenty of mistakes along their path to understanding the losses of loved ones and finding a life they never expected.

What I Loved:  There is a very real love between the two main characters that’s palpable throughout the book.  Despite all the problems they’re facing, it’s obvious just how much they care about each other and that their love is the central core of their entire being.

The Troubled Youth deals with the very real problems of adulthood.  While Jackson’s family tragedy is (hopefully) much more than most of us would ever have to deal with, it asks the questions:  What would we do if we had to make the toughest decisions in life?  Where do we draw the line when it comes to our loved ones?  Is there a line?

This book has a very distinct feel and tone to it that makes it incredibly real.  While the characters could have been sitting in any old kitchen, I immediately envisioned them as being in the house I grew up in.  That might not have been what the author intended, but it worked very well at keeping this a relatable story.

What I Didn’t Love So Much:  While the flashbacks do a great job of revealing the character’s backgrounds, they tend to jump out and take the forefront of the story.  For example:

At the very beginning, when Jackson is getting some horrible news, we take a big side step into the other times the main character has cried in front of his fiancé.  It feels like such an awkward thing to do at that moment, especially when the author begins talking about the montage at the Hall of Presidents at Disney World.  He mentions a speech by President George W. Bush right after 9/11, and I immediately opened a new tab to look it up.  I had completely forgotten about this particular moment, and it was quite moving just as the main character had promised.  I’m not sure, though, that this was the right place to bring it up.  It makes this whole section very jumbled.

Also, this book could have been better edited.  There were quite a few awkward sentences, as well as some incomplete sentences, missing words, or misplaced commas.  Sometimes the wrong tense is used.  Some of this is more acceptable than it might be in a different piece due to the casual tone of the book, but I still found it distracting.

Rating and Recommendation:  While there were some editing issues, I think overall this is a really great story.  I don’t typically go for real-life dramas, but I’m happy that I read it.  There’s something different about it, and it truly made me feel as though I was going back home and having to deal with all the consequences that come along with that.  I give The Troubled Youth 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it to anyone who enjoys a cathartic and emotional read.

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Ashley O’Melia is an independent author and freelancer from Southern Illinois.  She holds her Bachelor’s Degree in Creative Writing and English from Southern New Hampshire University.  Her books include The Wanderer’s Guide to Dragon Keeping and The Graveside DetectiveHer short stories have been published in The Penmen Review, Paradox, and Subcutaneous.  Ashley’s freelance work has spanned numerous genres for clients around the world.  You can find her on Facebook and Amazon.

Interested in having your book reviewed?  Contact me.  Don’t forget to sign up for my mailing list for news and giveaways!

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Book Review: Bloodline Origins by Iuliana Foos

Vampires and aliens.  What more do you need?  How about some great romance, likable characters, and wonderful descriptions?  You get all that in Bloodline Origins by Iuliana Foos.  I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review, and I’m more than happy to give it.

Bloodline Origins by Iuliana Foos

From the Cover:  Determined to turn her fantasy into reality, Ana starts her journey to become a vampire. Along the way, she learns the truth about their secret society, discovers her prestigious bloodline, and falls in love.
Not all vampires are accepting of humans and war looms in the shadows. An ancient tome reveals the vampires’ alien descent and sparks war.
An army bent on eradicating her coven’s existence threatens her new world. Survival or annihilation will be in Ana’s hands.

What I Loved:  The book starts quickly, and we learn right away that Ana wants to be a vampire.  I was a little thrown by this at first because it felt too far-fetched, but the reasoning behind it is explained later on in the story.

Foos is very thorough in how the world works and what the “rules” are, such as how vampires behave, what their society is like, etc.  While some of this is reminiscent of other vampire books (and how could it not be?), it still seems to be its own unique alternate world:  “The human world has changed and not necessarily for good.  We have preserved our traditions, our beliefs, and yes, we do have rules–rules that kept us safe from humans.”

There’s a lot of great description that really makes the setting for this book.  As I read, I never forgot where the characters were at or what they were supposed to be doing.

Ana, the main female character, is a very realistic and relatable character.  The reader easily comes to know her past and her uncertainties, and she changes as the story progresses.

Andree, the main male character is strong and very appealing.  He’s a bit of a bad boy simply because he’s a vampire and he’s royalty, but he’s not a jerk.  He’s a very romantic character.

I love the romance between the two main characters.  It’s swift, but since the story give a “fated mate” vibe, it really works.

There are some really great twists, but I won’t tell you what they are!  It would spoil things too much.

What I Didn’t Love So Much:  Unfortunately, the book really needs some more editing.  There are a lot of misplaced commas and a few missing words.  The chapter breaks feel random, and even though there are scene breaks for changes of perspective, I think it could have been done better.  For instance, sometimes the story advances by two months, and it would be nice to see that as the start of a new chapter, perhaps even with the time frame noted.

Rating and Recommendation:  Since I pretty much couldn’t put this book down, I have to give it five stars!  What little fixes that are needed don’t detract from the story, and I can’t wait to read the next one.  If you love romance and fantasy, and you don’t mind a little bit of blood, then this is the book for you.

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Ashley O’Melia is an independent author and freelancer from Southern Illinois.  She holds her Bachelor’s Degree in Creative Writing and English from Southern New Hampshire University.  Her books include The Wanderer’s Guide to Dragon Keeping and The Graveside Detective.  Her short stories have been published in The Penmen Review, Paradox, and Subcutaneous.  Ashley’s freelance work has spanned numerous genres for clients around the world.  You can find her on Facebook and Amazon.

Interested in having your book reviewed?  Contact me.  Don’t forget to sign up for my mailing list for news and giveaways!

 

 

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Book Review: The Cat Who Had 14 Tales by Lillian Jackson Braun

With a plane trip ahead of me last month, I made sure to grab a paperback before I headed out the door.  Sure, my phone and my tablet are both loaded with ebooks, but there’s something I find incredibly satisfying about an actual book.  A collection of short stories was particularly appealing, since I would be traveling and likely too tired to have much of an attention span.

14 Tales

What I Loved:  I’ve read almost all of the other books in Braun’s Cat Who series, and I’ve loved them.  These short stories were just as good, but they revolved around different characters.  It was a nice change of pace, but of course there were still lots of cats!  It was a nice fast read, and I read almost the entire thing on the plane.  Braun was always excellent with description and characterization, and she accomplished this even in short stories.

What I Didn’t Love So Much:  There are a few cats that die on these pages.  If you’re the type that absolutely can’t stand to have animals die in a story, then this might not be the book for you.  Nothing is graphically described, but it’s there.

Rating and Recommendation:  This is a great book for anyone who loves cats, mysteries, and short stories, or a combination of at least two of those elements.  Since I was bummed when it was over, I have to give it 5 stars.

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Ashley O’Melia is an independent author and freelancer from Southern Illinois.  She holds her Bachelor’s Degree in Creative Writing and English from Southern New Hampshire University.  Her books include The Wanderer’s Guide to Dragon Keeping and The Graveside DetectiveHer short stories have been published in The Penmen Review, Paradox, and Subcutaneous.  Ashley’s freelance work has spanned numerous genres for clients around the world.  You can find her on Facebook and Amazon.

Interested in having your book reviewed?  Contact me.

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Guest Book Review: The Fire King by Amber Jaeger

by Whitney Morgan

This five-star read was on FIRE!

For almost an entire year this book popped up on my recommended page on Amazon, and when I finally downloaded it, I couldn’t put it down.

I really enjoyed The Cold King and I always get nervous when reading other books by authors who have written one of my favorites. This was definitely worth it! This re-telling of Snow White was epic. It will be very hard to beat, in my opinion.

 fire king

The Fire King was a perfect combination of witty, smart and heart wrenching. I loved all of the characters but the relationship between King Lian and Princess Katiyana was absolutely priceless.

“Well, I can see that where ever you have been hiding, dressing and acting like a lady have not been the highest priority.”

 keeping

Katiyana was a perfect heroine. While there were times she was immature and complained about little things, she was fierce and she didn’t need a man to save her or set her free.

“I am not some simpering consort that is going to hang off your arm.”

She didn’t care to challenge the king or his highest-ranking officer.

“You are a grown man, not a child. Stop acting like one. If there is a problem, just find a way to fix it and move on. Your temper tantrums are exhausting and unnecessary.”

When she saw something wrong, she acted on it.

“What was that, coward?” Katiyana taunted. “I could not hear you from all the way over there. It sounded as though you were upset someone raised their voice and hand to your king, but surely that cannot be it if you are willing to allow him to do the same to a defenseless girl.” 

I will admit that it took her a while to realize it rested on her shoulders alone to save her people. When she stepped into her role and accepted her duty she became stronger and better. She became a queen that was going to protect and serve her people.

snow white

I loved that the “apple” scene was different and the same at the same time. Instead of going with the traditional “girl bites apple without knowing, girl goes into sleeping curse, girl is saved by man,” it was actually really awesome. And there were two different scenes, so it was cool.

Not only did Katiyana challenge Lian, Lian also challenged her.

“You act like a country bumpkin, not a princess.”

“And you act like an angry bear, not a king!”

There were times the hostility between them grew and they resorted to hurting each other.

“Your lack of manners and ability to hold your tongue is appalling, as is your refusal to act and dress like a lady. When you are not aggravating me, you are up in the roof of all places, daydreaming. I cannot imagine a man wanting to tie himself to a woman like that.”

The fact that the king had to tell her to bathe was absolutely hilarious. (I’m telling you, I could not get enough of their banter and relationship. It was hysterical.)

A simple bath had her out of sorts.

“I am never going to be able to do this,” Katiyana whispered to herself as she dejectedly walked towards the bathing room. 

She refused to call Lian her king but before she knew it, he had gained her trust and respect, much to her shock she started seeing him in a new light.

“How is our king spoken about?”

 If you like re-tellings, fairy tales, Snow White, men that act like bears, strong heroines, women that do not need a man’s help or all of the above… Read this. It was beautiful, funny and amazing!

If this sounds like something you’d be interested in, you can find it here.

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Image uploaded from iOS-2

For as long as I can remember, I wanted to write. It’s been a part of who I am since I was a child scribbling away in my notebooks about characters and love and poetry and songs and ideas. I bleed stories and lyrics rather than blood. 

Well, I grew up and went through a bunch of life. I became a wife at eighteen-years-old and a mom three years later. I’ve gone through difficult losses and amazing blessings, but one thing remained the same over the years; I wanted to write. So, eventually, I did! 

If I’m not reading, then I’m writing and if I’m not writing, well, you guessed it, I’m probably reading. 

I daydream all the time. If I look like I’m staring off into space, it’s because I’m seeing a world that isn’t really there. I’m letting characters tell me about themselves.  Humor, passion, and romance is the braid that is my story-telling. I   cannot have one without the other two.  I may be approaching twenty-seven, but I’m beyond obsessed with the YA genre. Romance, Fantasy, and anything in between! 

If you aren’t a fan of fairytale retellings, but love romance and mystery, you can check out my novel ‘Finding Home in Redemption’ on Amazon! I have the first three, unedited, chapters on my personal blog, as well as a sneak preview of the prologue and first chapter of the book I have coming out this July! While they are part of the same series, you do not have to read book one to understand book two. (Although there are secrets that are revealed about book one, it’s not critical to read them in order.)

Are you interested in reading and reviewing an ebook for free? I’m looking for ARC readers who would like to receive an ebook copy of ‘Redeeming the Darkness’ in exchange for an honest review. If this sounds like something you’d like to do, feel free to contact me by email at: whitneymmorganbooks@gmail.com

Chapter one of Finding Home in Redemption:

https://www.whitneymorganbooks.com/single-post/2017/07/06/Want-to-read-chapter-one-of-Finding-Home-in-Redemption

Prologue and chapter one of Redeeming the Darkness:

https://www.whitneymorganbooks.com/single-post/2018/05/31/Redeeming-the-Darkness-Prologue-Chapter-One

For information about Redeeming the Darkness, Look here:

https://www.whitneymorganbooks.com/redeeming-the-darkness

For information about Finding Home in Redemption, Look here:

https://www.whitneymorganbooks.com/coming-soon

For all kinds of other information about books I have coming out in the future, check out my website at, www.whitneymorganbooks.com

You can also follow me on Facebook or Instagram @whitmorganbooks

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Book Review: Let’s Sell Your First Book by Amrita Chowdhury

These days, writers don’t have the privilege of just writing.  We have to become marketers.  And it’s not because we want to stand on street corners handing out flyers and begging people to read our stuff.  (Trust me, we don’t.)  I’m sure most of us would be more than happy to sit at home creating our worlds and leave all the selling to someone else.

But the fact of the matter is that, no matter if you self-publish or go the traditional route, almost all of the marketing is left on the author’s shoulders.

Let’s Sell Your First Book focuses on just that.  I received an advanced reader copy of the book from the author for free, but I promise I would have paid quite a bit for it!  This book is absolutely packed with information.  It breaks your marketing down into what strategies you should be using before you start writing, while you’re in the process, once the book is finished, and after it’s published.

Don’t think that because you’ve already written a book (or several) that this information isn’t for you.  You can easily go back and do everything you didn’t think about or missed out on the first time around.

There’s so much information here.  Not only does Amrita share her insights on marketing, but she includes links to numerous (and I mean, really, there’s a lot) of other articles on the subject matter.  It’s the kind of book you have to read through once, and then go back over with a fine-tooth comb just to make sure you get everything out of it.  A writer could spend so much time with this book.

I have to admit that there are times I get excited about marketing my books, but they come and go.  (We all get in our slumps, right?)  Let’s Sell Your First Book is very inspirational when you don’t feel like working on your social media platform or setting up your email newsletter.

I have absolutely no choice but to give this book a 5-star rating.  There’s a ton of information, it’s easy to understand and apply, and it’s increased my summer To Do list by about 5000%.  You go buy the book, and I’ll be selling mine!

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Ashley O’Melia is an independent author and freelancer from Southern Illinois.  She holds her Bachelor’s Degree in Creative Writing and English from Southern New Hampshire University.  Her books include The Wanderer’s Guide to Dragon Keeping and The Graveside DetectiveHer short stories have been published in The Penmen Review, Paradox, and Subcutaneous.  Ashley’s freelance work has spanned numerous genres for clients around the world.  You can find her on Facebook and Amazon.

Interested in having your book reviewed?  Contact me.

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