Friday, May 22, 2015

Feature & Follow Friday #1: How do you write your reviews?

Welcome to Feature & Follow Friday!!

This weekly hop is hosted by  
Rachel @ Parajunkee's View, and 
Alison @ Alison Can Read!!

You can find the rules at the links above.
Join in the fun and make new blogging friends!

Every week, 2 new blogs are featured!

This week's featured blogs are:

Books * Coffee * Life * Adventures *


Book Blog Bird !!

Here is this week's question, 
contributed by

How do you write your reviews?

This is a very interesting question! I see book reviews as essays in which I can freely express my feelings and opinions regarding the book in question. 

Some bloggers use a style in which they list the pros and cons of a book. Others give a book stars for each of the various elements -- plot, characterization, world-building, and writing style -- including the cover's visual appeal, as well. They then give the book an overall rating. Still other reviewers use an essay style, punctuated by gifs. Many reviewers also include quotes from the book.

I prefer to use a straight essay style. The first paragraph usually lets my readers know my overall impression of a book. For instance, I'll write things like, "I wasn't sure I would like this novel, as it's not my usual type of read. However, I've been very pleasantly surprised!"  So, this tells my readers, right away, whether or not I'm giving the book my wholehearted approval.

Next, I briefly discuss the overall plot and why I like it.  I try not to go into too much detail, though, since I do include a plot synopsis along with my reviews, so why repeat it in the actual review? I do refer to the plot, but very loosely.

Then I go on to describe the characters, without giving too much away. I tell my readers exactly why I love or hate the most important characters. Characterization is, in my opinion, one of the most important things about fiction, whether it's a short story or a full-length novel. If characters fall flat, if readers can't relate to them, the whole novel or story fails to immerse the reader in the writer's invented world, and the characters won't seem to be real people to the reader.

Another very important aspect of a novel is  the world-building,  and especially so in the fantasy, historical fiction, PNR, UF, or SF genres.  

If the world-building doesn't ring true, then the readers won't be able to get lost in the story. I point out such details as possible anachronisms, in the case of fantasy or historical fiction. This is obviously not applicable to Steampunk novels, since they take place in alternate universes. Thus, anachronisms are supposed to be a part of the settings in these books. 

It's very obvious when the author has done meticulous research, if necessary, for the world  they have created. On the other hand, such research is not always essential, as in the case of fantasy and SF. Writers in these genres, are, of course, free to invent entirely new worlds.

Writing style is very important to me, as well. I take into account the different styles in literary and popular fiction. I love descriptive, poetic passages in literary fiction. As for popular fiction, I do like some description, but I understand that the way the plot moves is considered even more important in this type of fiction. Readers expect more action and plot twists, for example, so I mention these elements in my reviews. If these are illogical, or not particularly effective, I will be sure to mention that; again, without spoilers.

I occasionally review nonfiction, too. This type of book requires a different approach. I not only give my overall impression of the book, but analyze the validity and helpfulness of the author's points. Research is even  more crucial for this type of book, as nonfiction usually presents facts in order to prove the author's thesis. So, if there are any inconsistencies, I will point these out. 

In the case of nonfiction, the writing style is also very important to my appreciation of the book. Some authors can  be very boring in the presentation of their material. Others are so simplistic in their style, it provides little to no intellectual enjoyment at all. I believe in a happy medium!

As an eclectic reader, I like to review several different genres, although, for a long time now, I've been reading and reviewing mostly Young Adult Fiction. No matter what I'm reading, though, I take my reviews very seriously. When the time comes to actually write the review, I feel a little nervous, wondering what I'm going to write, how I'm going to express my views. However, when I start typing, the words just seem to flow, and surprising insights find their way onto the "page". Still, in spite of my initial ease in setting down the words, that doesn't mean I will publish the review just as I've written it the first time. I will usually re-read it and revise it at least twice before publishing it. Even after it's posted, though, I will tweak it a few more times. I'm constantly on the lookout for typos, for instance, as I hate to publish anything that does not look professional. I'm also very aware of awkward sentences or phrases.

Most of the reviews I've done have been about books that I have picked out and purchased myself. Sometimes, I write reviews as part of a blog tour. Whether it's a personal review, or one intended for a blog tour, I make sure it reads well and has no obvious mistakes before I publish it.

To me, one of the most enjoyable things involved in blogging about books is writing reviews! The process of writing one  not  only makes me think, but it also gets me feeling about all the aspects of the book I've read. Thus, writing book reviews is a perfect combination of left and right-brain activities. It's a creative activity, which puts me in a state of mind in which everything just flows, and I lose track of time....

As for my review policies and rating system, you can find them -- together with sparkly stars provided by Parajunkee -- HERE.

I hope to be writing and publishing book reviews for a long time to come!

Next Week's Question

How many books have you got 
on your TBR list?
Suggested by:
Obsessive Compulsive Reader

These are my follow preferences.
The links are in my sidebar.

 Be sure to visit the rest of
the participating blogs!!


Saturday, May 16, 2015

Shelf Candy Saturday #151: Golden Daughter, by Anne Elisabeth Stengl

Welcome to Shelf Candy Saturday!!

This is my weekly feature
showcasing beautiful book covers!
It also provides information,
if available, on their very talented creators!

For more information
about Shelf Candy Saturday,
simply go HERE.

Here's my choice for this week!

Golden Daughter 
(Tales of Goldstone Wood, Book 7)
Trade Paperback, 584 pages
Rooglewood Press
November 10, 2014
Christian Fiction, Fantasy,
Young Adult Fiction

My Thoughts About This Cover

This is another absolutely glorious cover!  Of course, the color blue predominates, but there's also a very beautiful shade of pink -- hot pink. This is the only shade of the color I like. I don't like pale pink at all. This tone, though, is simply gorgeous, and combines very well with the blue.

As I stated in last week's post, I find circles immensely appealing, so it was to be expected that I would be attracted to this cover. Circles are perfect shapes, after all, so they carry a message of completion, of wholeness that strikes a chord with me. They are also, as Brian from Babbling Books pointed out in his comment to last week's post, frequently to be found in Oriental art. Thus, I was not surprised to find that the young woman on the cover is of Oriental descent. 

Although my favorite animal is the horse, I like the presence of the cat on this cover. Somehow, I find that this animal is a perfect addition to the image.

The young woman seems to be testing the water, which is a little rough, and could be a danger to her and the cat. I wonder, though, whether she's creating some sort of water magic, instead.

Getting back to the circle, could this be some sort of time portal, or entry to a supernatural world? It's interesting that the roiling clouds have the same shade of pink of the young woman's kimono.....are they somehow related to her? Only by actually reading the book would I be able to find out.....

I also love the font used for the title -- it's so graceful, yet understated, and forms a nice contrast with the author's name. I think the same font was used for both the title and the author's name, but the title is all in lower-case letters, while the author's name is all in caps. I find that this contrast adds to the cover's contrast and appeal.

The brilliant artist who created this masterful cover is Julia Popova. She is a photographer and digital artist from Russia, and lives in Novosibirsk. She's well versed in PhotoShop and other techniques, including watercolor. When I visited her website, I found her portfolio breathtaking!

Online Links


What do you think of my 
choice this week?
Please leave a comment
and let me know!

Friday, May 15, 2015

Mini-Review/Excerpt/Giveaway!! The Violet Hour, by Andrea L. Wells

Welcome to this stop in 
the blog tour for
The Violet Hour, sponsored by
Bewitching Book Tours!!

I'm featuring an excerpt with mini-review,
and BBT is sponsoring an 
AWESOME giveaway!!

The Violet Hour
(The Violet Hour, Book 1)
Andrea L. Wells
Trade Paperback, 324 pages
Infinity Publishing
May 11, 2015
Paranormal Romance, Urban Fantasy,
Young Adult Fiction

Still shocked over her mother’s mysterious death, California socialite Logan Keller is handed a one-way ticket to her long lost roots in Wyoming where love, deceit and danger await. Though she could forget everything staring into Luke Callahan’s eyes, Logan is quickly thrust into a fight for survival. Taking fate into her own hands, she begins unraveling the dangerous deceptions that abound at every turn. Her father is keeping secrets and Luke is keeping more. But Logan is keeping the biggest secret of them all.
The Violet Hour is a page-turning, captivating twist of young romance and the paranormal.

I have to confess that the very first thing that attracted me to this book was the gloriously beautiful cover! However, if the only thing a book has going for it is a gorgeous cover, it will obviously fail to pull a potential reader into it.
I'm very happy to report that, based on the teaser and excerpt below, I do believe this novel promises to deliver a great reading experience!
For instance, I can see that Wells is very adept at building suspense through vividly described details. This gives her writing a sort of cinematic quality that makes me want to see the movie adaptation of this novel. This is truly impressive for a debut author. I predict that this novel will be an amazing, YA winner!!

I sat up and pulled my knees in close to my chest.  Electricity flared in the air as Luke inhaled.

“You know, Logan, you’re not who I expected you to be,” he said, taking a long thought-filled pause.  “I thought the next twelve months were going to be hell living with a California socialite, but you’re pretty amazing.  I guess I owe you an apology.”

“So, it’s a good thing that I’m nothing like you expected?” I asked.

“It’s a really, really good thing.”

As I started to smile back he craned his neck to look away from me.  His eyes focused.  Something black flashed across the road but I was more scared by Luke’s reaction.  The warmth had vanished from Luke in a heartbeat.  The object stopped moving toward us when it got to an opening between the trees.  Even though I could feel Luke’s concern, I leaned forward toward the window, curious.  It was a wolf – a really big wolf, staring directly at us with bright green eyes.  It was close enough I could see quick breaths escape into the crisp rain-drenched air.  I was startled when the engine roared to life.  Luke threw the car into reverse, and I nearly slammed into the dash as the sound of gravel scattered everywhere.  He quickly jockeyed around and pulled back onto the road heading home.  I kept my eyes on the wolf until he was no longer in sight.

“Was that a wolf?” I asked.  Everything happened so quickly, I had to be sure.

“Yes,” he spit.

“I’ve never seen a wolf before – that thing was huge.”

Luke immediately turned to look at me with an expression that I couldn’t begin to read.

“What’s going on?” I pressed, puzzled.

When he looked toward the road and didn’t answer, I knew my question needed to be more specific to get results.

“Why are you freaking out?  It was just a wolf.”  I was worried.  He had gone from warm and comforting to moody and distant over such a small thing and I second-guessed how quickly I had fallen for him.

“Because I need to get you home, it’s getting late,” he muttered, failing to control his tone.

“That doesn’t make any sense, Luke.  I have no curfew and you flaked as soon as you saw the wolf.”

“Wolves are dangerous.”

“We were in the car,” I countered.

“Doesn’t matter.” 

The Violet Hour Series has been begging to escape Andrea’s subconscious for more than five years.  Focusing on a wonderful career, handsome husband and two beautiful children by day, she began feverishly penning the series by night.  Now a full-time writer, Andrea debuts The Violet Hour.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 Be sure to visit the other blogs 
on the tour!
You can access the 
complete schedule by clicking
on the button below!

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Waiting On Wednesday #130: Only A Promise, by Mary Balogh

This is a weekly event hosted by
It showcases future releases which
we book bloggers
are eagerly anticipating!!

Here's my choice for this week!

Only A Promise 
(The Survivors' Club, Book 5)
Trade Paperback, 400 pages
Platkus Books
June 2, 2015
Historical Fiction, Romance

The new Survivors' Club novel from the New York Times bestselling author.

The Survivors’ Club: Six men and one woman, all wounded in the Napoleonic Wars, their friendship forged during their recovery at Penderris Hall in Cornwall. Now, for one of them, striking a most unusual bargain will change his life forever.…

Ralph Stockwood prides himself on being a leader, but when he convinced his friends to fight in the Napoleonic Wars, he never envisioned being the sole survivor. Racked with guilt over their deaths, Ralph must move on...and find a wife so as to secure an heir to his family’s title and fortune.

Since her Seasons in London ended in disaster, Chloe Muirhead is resigned to spinsterhood. Driven by the need to escape her family, she takes refuge at the home of her mother’s godmother, where she meets Ralph. He needs a wife. She wants a husband. So Chloe makes an outrageous suggestion: Strike a bargain and get married. One condition: Ralph has to promise that he will never take her back to London. But circumstances change. And to Ralph, it was only a promise.

Why I'm waiting on this one!!

Mary Balogh is my all-time FAVORITE
historical romance author, so
I'm jumping up and down for joy that
this latest installment of this
great series is being released VERY soon!!
Back in August of 2013, I reviewed
The Arrangement, which is Book 2 of 
this beautiful series.
You can access my review HERE
So, I'm really excited about this one!!!
I need to go back and catch up
with the other volumes.....
The edition shown above is the UK one.
This cover is SO much more beautiful than 
the US cover for the mass market
paperback edition, which you 
can see below.
So I have to own the UK edition!!! 


Only A Promise
(The Survivors' Club, Book 5)
Mary Balogh
Mass Market Paperback, 400 pages
June 9, 2015
Historical Fiction, Romance
Amazon US/Barnes & Noble


What do you think of my choice?
What fascinating book(s) are 
you longing for this week?