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These Words Tell a Story...

I am the author of the Amazon bestselling young adult post apocalyptic novel, PODs. 

Triangles - Kimberly Ann Miller A cruise ship, the Bermuda Triangle, a beautiful girl and two hot guys...sounds like a great summer! And that's exactly what you get with Triangles--a really great summer read.

Autumn has definitely had it rough when she boards the cruise ship. She needed some time to decompress and relax, get her life back in order. But rarely do things work out the way we envision them. And it's no different for Autumn. She finds herself waking between alternating realities, never knowing which version of her life she'll be living when she gets up the next morning.

The alternating realities helped Autumn work through the emotional baggage she carried with her. Each new reality brought a different outlook or perspective, a new way for her to heal and move on. My favorite and least favorite was when she was able to see her father again. It was touching and one of my favorite parts of the book, but having just lost my father it made it hard to read with dry eyes, making it my least favorite part in the book, too (but in a good way).

I say that Triangles is a great summer read, that's it's fun. And it is fun and a good book to take on vacation or to the beach. But it is so much more than that. It's a book about self-discovery and healing. The reader gets to watch Autumn evolve through the pages of the book. She starts off carrying a lot of heavy emotional baggage and it sometimes shows in her attitude, but by the end of the book she's shed that baggage and comes into her own as a person. It's such a great message. I'm anxiously awaiting what Kimberly Ann Miller has for us next!

~Michelle Pickett
Author, PODs
Out of Breath (Breathing, #3) - Rebecca Donovan 4.5 Stars.

It was a satisfying ending to the series but fell kind of flat for me. I had trouble connecting with the supporting characters and felt the introduction of Emma and Evan was rushed. After so mucch time and hurt I think they would be more cautious. of each other, but their first meetings were almost uneventful.

Despite my very slight issue, I enjoyed the book immensly and highly recommend the "Breathing Series " to anyone and everyone! Although a tad prrdictable, I think the ending was perfect.

If you haven't read this sereis you are definitely missing out on a great body of work.

- Michelle Pickett
author, PODs available now!
The Emotion Thesaurus: A Writer's Guide to Character Expression - Becca Puglisi, Angela Ackerman Excellent resource. I keep it on my desk all the time!
The Collector - Victoria Scott Gotta love Dante, with his over inflated ego and laugh outloud oneliners. But as it turns out, even demons have a heart. I fell in love with Dante Walker and I can't wait to get more of him in "The Liberator!"
Confessions of an Angry Girl - Louise Rozett Definitely took me back to high-school my years. It brought back the jumble of emotions we had to work through as we found our place in the world.

Quest of the Hart (A Princess of Valendria Novel)

Quest of the Hart (A Princess of Valendria Novel) - Mary Waibel I have been waiting not so patiently to read Mary Waibel’s debut young adult reverse fairy tale retelling since she told me about it months ago. I finally got my chance and all I can say is…it was definitely worth the wait.

But I found one problem with the book. Quest of the Hart isn’t a story. It isn’t a fairy tale. It isn’t a young adult novel. Why? Because…

It’s empowerment on paper.

The story Mary weaved was not only entertaining, interesting and engaging, but also empowering for girls. Instead of the prince saving the helpless princess, the princess was the one who saved the prince. This type of message is so important for today’s generation of young women, and Mary delivered it flawlessly.

At the beginning of the tale, Princess Kaylee is shy, quiet, and seems weak, like a person would imagine a pampered princess would be. Although, she wasn’t spoiled or mean-spirited, she was used to being waited on. But that stopped during her quest to save Prince Devlin. There was no one there to wait on her. She had to learn to fend for herself…

“I am not your maid, Princess. You need to learn how to do this on your own.”

As the story progressed and the stakes rose, Kaylee had to step-up and face things that were definitely way out of her comfort zone. She had to push herself to the limit and beyond to complete her quest and save her prince, and ultimately the kingdom. The best thing about this was I got to go through this with her. I could feel her unease in situations, her fear, her confusion when things didn’t work how they were supposed to, and I could feel her sense of accomplishment each time she met a goal, her strength and tenacity building in the face of the obstacles before her. I watched her grow…I watched her become empowered. And that is the message young adult readers of Quest of the Hart are going to get…you can do it. You are strong enough. You are empowered.

Beyond the message held in the story—which is what grabbed me the most even though story itself is very interesting, the pacing is perfect and the characters are well developed—Mary’s descriptions were spot on. I could see the imagery. She did an excellent job of drawing me into the scene with the characters. Descriptions like…

“Soon the trees surrounded them, stifling all light and sound, save for the thunder of their horses’ hooves. The scent of pine filled the air as they rode into the grove of conifers.”

Descriptions like that really place me right in the middle of the action with the characters. I love it when an author can do that. Make the room fall away and replace it with the smell of pine and the thunder of horses’ hooves.

Bottom Line: I really enjoyed Quest of the Hart. I think it was an entertaining story. A fresh take on a popular fairy tale. I loved the idea of reversing the roles of hero and heroine—I think that was brilliant, and, like I’ve said, it empowers young women. I won’t hesitate to read more of Mary’s work. She did a fantastic job with her debut novel. I’m anxious to see what she has in store for her sophomore book!

My Rating: 5 of 5 stars—I loved it!

Baking Love - Lauren  Boyd I had the pleasure of reading Lauren Boyd’s debut contemporary romance Baking Love and I have to say, I was quite impressed. The book did not read like a debut author’s work. It was extremely well written, had excellent pacing, and an engaging story line.

Lauren did an excellent job of developing her characters. They had depth and I connected with them, especially Kate. I could feel her conflict as she dealt with her feelings for Eric. She was a strong character and kind of snarky, which I loved. Her internal dialogue was sometimes funny and I laughed out loud at her thoughts a few times.

In addition to developing strong, relatable characters, Lauren found plenty of situations to stick them in, creating enough conflict to keep the pacing of the book at a good rate. There were no slow spots where I found my attention wandering. My focus stayed firmly on the story. There was a scene I especially liked. It put Kate in a very uncomfortable position, which is the best position to put characters because it keeps readers entertained, and it kept me reading and giggling. I don’t want to spoil anything so I’ll just say pretend brides can be funny…and a little bittersweet, too.

I will admit I was a little worried going into the story. Kate, the main character, is hired to bake a wedding cake for the man she’s in love with and the woman he’s marrying. I didn’t know how I’d feel if in the end of the book the man, Eric, were to leave his fiancée for Kate. But I was pleasantly surprised by the ending of the book. I thought it was perfect. Everything wrapped up exactly how it should and left me with a smile on my face and a sense of contentment.

Bottom line: Lauren Boyd baked herself a good one with Baking Love. She is definitely an author I’ll be watching. I won’t hesitate to read another book of hers and I highly recommend Baking Love to anyone who loves sweet contemporary romance.

My rating: 5 Stars (with frosting on top)

Michelle :)
Author, [b:PODs|13425802|PODs|Michelle K. Pickett|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1327645122s/13425802.jpg|18908216], June 4, 2013
[b:Milayna|17737994|Milayna|Michelle K. Pickett|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1365395536s/17737994.jpg|24817332], March 13, 2014
The Infected, a PODs novel, November 2014
Astarte's Wrath - Trisha Wolfe Astarte’s Wrath is the second novel by Trisha Wolfe’s I’ve read. The first, Of Darkness and Beasts, I absolutely loved. So I was excited to read Astarte’s Wrath.

Before I began Astarte’s Wrath, I had an opportunity to talk to Trisha about the book and the extensive research she’d done in preparation of writing it. For over a year she researched the time, the people, the lands, the customs, the legends, Gods, anything and everything about the history surrounding Astarte and Cleopatra, filling notebook after notebook of information until she finally had to force herself to stop. She said she could have continued researching for months.

After talking to her I understood how important this book is to her. How much she poured her heart and soul into writing Astarte’s Wrath. So when I read it I really, really wanted to give it a great review and tell everyone how much I loved it. I wanted to point to all the areas where Trisha’s brilliance shined through. I wanted to tell everyone that this book, this piece of Trish, was a work of magic, that I could feel her love and enthusiasm for the project as I read it. That I was caught up in the magic she created…

And that’s exactly what I’m going to do, because the book is nothing short of brilliant.

Trisha Wolfe left part of her soul in Astarte’s Wrath and you can feel it in every word.

I so was impressed by the way she seemed to seamlessly weave the history of the time with the pieces of fiction to form story she wanted to tell. She created a rich and colorful tapestry of characters both historical and fictional intertwined together in a complex and engaging story that had me flipping pages faster than my Kindle could keep up.

I don’t know what I can say about the plot. I feel anything I say will spoil the book for anyone who hasn’t read it. It’s such a unique twist on the time period. It’s filled with history, but also fictional elements that add an exciting and engaging storyline that just pulled me in. There are deep, interesting characters, forbidden love, betrayal, loss, revenge, and so much more.

Even though many of the characters and a good portion of the story line is fictitious, Trisha did an excellent job staying true to history. I’m a sucker for happily-ever-afters, but if you know anything about the history of the time period, well, I knew one wasn’t going to come. And even with that knowledge the ending still tore at my heart. I’m not going to say anything more, but Trisha managed to make me cry and smile at the end of the book. It was both heartbreaking and, while maybe not happy, it ended just the way I think it should have. Perfectly.

Bottom line: Astarte’s Wrath is a five star gem. It’s truly a work of art and straight from Trisha Wolfe’s heart.

Trisha is an extremely talented author. She seems to reach out from the pages of her books and touch her reader's hearts. She is an author that other authors gauge themselves by, hoping they can recreate the magic she so effortlessly crafts.
Unmaking Hunter Kennedy - Anne Eliot Cute concept. Somewhat slow. Definitely could have benefited from a good editor to help weed out the mistakes.

Overall a cute, clean and sweet book.
The Chemistry of Fate - Meradeth Houston If you’ve read my blog you already know I have mad love for Meradeth Houston. Not only is she a sweet person (and funny), but she is a wicked talented author. When I read her debut young adult paranormal Colors Like Memories I was blown away. I love her writing style and the subject matter was so relevant to today’s teens. It’s an awesome book all the way around. I highly recommend it. If you haven’t picked up a copy, get one. You’ll be glad you did.

Based on my experience with Colors Like Memories I had extremely high hopes for The Chemistry Of Fate. I knew it was going to be good, but wow! I had no idea it was going to surpass Colors Like Memories.

I’m always one to look at the first sentence of a book. A lot of my decision to continue to read a book or not hinges on that first sentence. My like or dislike of that sentence decides if I keep reading the paragraph, which, in turn, decides if I read the next paragraph and ultimately the book. Meradeth has a way with first sentences. I still believe the first sentence in Colors Like Memories is the best first sentence I’ve ever read in a book. Period. But, the first sentence in The Chemistry Of Fate rates up there on my list of favorites, too.

“They are everywhere, can be anyone, and are always the last person you’d expect.”

Okay, that got me. Who are they? And why does the person speaking feel the need to mention them? So that sentence made me want to read more and the second sentence…

"I should have said the seat was taken before she sat down."

made me want to keep reading. Why? Why not let her sit there? Who is she?

Meradeth did exactly what great authors do. She presented questions to her readers in the first few sentences. Questions keep readers engaged in the story. They keep them reading to find the answers—and you’ll want to keep reading to find the answers to the questions in The Chemistry of Fate.

I was immediately drawn into the lives of Tom and Ari. I cared about them. I needed to know what happened to them at each stage of the story. I felt their conflicting emotions, their fear, confusion.

Meradeth’s writing style draws me into her stories. I love how she strings words together. It’s almost like a melody. There were so many areas of the book that when I read them I was struck by how beautifully written they were…

“I knew for certain I loved her when I flew in the night sky, and the stars only reminded me of her eyes. I could never utter such a line aloud, but it happened.”

And my ultimate favorite quote from The Chemistry Of Fate:

“Walking from the funeral, leaving her body behind for the last time, I was so full of rage. I longed to hurt something. But then it started to snow. She always loved the snow. And I stood in the white world and wept.”

That touched me and my throat got that ridiculous tight lump in it. You know the one. It comes just before your eyes start to leak. And then my husband teases me for crying over a book, but how can that not touch a part of your heart? The pain in the passage is evident and the writing is beautiful.

I could go on about how much I loved this book. I could tell you what happened in each chapter, but that would spoil the fun for you when you read it. Instead I’m just going to finish my review with my rating, which I’m sure by now you can guess.

Bottom line: Meradeth Houston is an excellent author and I highly recommend The Chemistry Of Fate.

Five Stars—I loved it!

Losing It - Cora Carmack Who can resist a guy with a Bitish accent? Garrick was pretty damn irresistible.

Charmed Memories (A Princess of Valendria Novel)

Charmed Memories (A Princess of Valendria Novel) - Mary Waibel First, I have to send my sincerest apologies to [a:Mary Waibel|6456213|Mary Waibel|http://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/authors/1344285139p2/6456213.jpg] for taking so long to post my review. I over scheduled myself and, by doing so, missed posting my review on a dear friend’s release date. I’m so sorry, Mary.

Now my review of Charmed Memories: where to start? I have to say, I absolutely loved, LOVED, Mary’s debut [b:Quest of the Hart|15787222|Quest of the Hart (A Princess of Valendria Novel)|Mary Waibel|http://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/books/1361533257s/15787222.jpg|21506976]. I thought it reached beyond the boundaries of being just another “young adult novel” in a pile of books. It was truly a story of growth and empowerment for teen girls. So I was very nervous going into Charmed Memories. I thought, “There’s no way she’s going to be able to top [b:Quest of the Hart|15787222|Quest of the Hart (A Princess of Valendria Novel)|Mary Waibel|http://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/books/1361533257s/15787222.jpg|21506976]. Well, color me wrong.

Mary has a way of taking what a reader thinks is going to be a simple, fun story and turning it into a life lesson. She did it in [b:Quest of the Hart|15787222|Quest of the Hart (A Princess of Valendria Novel)|Mary Waibel|http://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/books/1361533257s/15787222.jpg|21506976] and she’s done it again in Charmed Memories. And the best thing about her writing is she doesn’t beat the reader over the head with a moral. She doesn’t write like she’s jumping up and down on your shoulder yelling in your ear, “Get that? That’s how life should work! That’s how we should live.” No, she writes a story that’s interesting, engaging and fun to read, and then sneaks that little morsel of wisdom in when the reader isn’t looking. It wasn’t until I was done with the book and put my Kindle on the nightstand that I fell back against my pillows and said, “Huh. Yeah—you did it again.”

If you’re a regular follower of my blog, you know I don’t like to go into the story when I review a book. I don’t want to TELL you what the book is about, that’s why you read it! I’m just giving you a quick overview of my opinion on the writing, plot, grammar, blah, blah, and blah. I know all the people who aren’t authors stopped reading as soon as they saw the word ‘grammar.’  But, I’ll give you a little heads up of what’s going on in Charmed Memories, because truthfully, there’s a lot of stuff happening.

So, Charmed Memories is the second in the Princess of Valendria series by Mary. The first book is [b:Quest of the Hart|15787222|Quest of the Hart (A Princess of Valendria Novel)|Mary Waibel|http://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/books/1361533257s/15787222.jpg|21506976] (go read it, seriously). Prince Trevor is our yummy hero in Charmed Memories. He also happens to be the brother of the heroine of the first book of the series. Prince Trevor is engaged to Princess Elsbeth. Unfortunately, she was lost at sea four years earlier and presumed dead. But what kind of hero/prince would he be if he just took things at face value? Not a very good one. So throughout the pages of Charmed Memories we go on a fantastical journey with Prince Trevor as we follow clues over and under the sea, from continent to continent, looking for his betrothed, Princess Elsbeth.

But is that all? Nope. Enter stage right…Bri. Who’s she? Well, read the book. You’ll want to know. Trust me on this. Read the book. It’s full of deadly twists, turns, swoony moments, and times when the characters test their limits of love and devotion…and their fear of loss.

Mary has sewn together a complex tale of human emotion. Not only does she thrust the emotions on her characters, she writes in such an intricate, beautiful way as to pull us into their world with them. Somehow the reader finds themself alongside them and feels the same love, loss, strength, and ultimately…renewal.

So bottom line time: Buy the book. Buy both books. Give them to your teen daughters. They’ll enjoy them. They'll probably even learn something, too. Don’t have teen daughters or granddaughters? No worries, buy the books anyway. You’ll enjoy them!
This is What Happy Looks Like - Jennifer E. Smith I loved the premise of the book. I thought the story was cute and very sweet However, I didn't feel it had a satisfying ending.
True - Erin McCarthy 4 1/2 Stars

I enjoyed “True” more than I thought I would. I didn’t think I’d relate to the idea of “hiring” someone to sleep with your friend just so she could lose her virginity—and I was right. I didn’t. I thought that part of the story was completely out of place. It just didn’t fit. Setting someone up with a guy with the intention/hope that they might move on to that stage in their relationship, okay I can buy that. But hiring him? Hello, male gigolo. But what was worse than that was that Rory didn’t even confront her friends when she found out what they’d done! Come on! I don’t care how shy she is (she wasn’t THAT shy), a person wouldn’t just lay in bed and pretend to be asleep when she overheard her roommates talking about paying a guy to sleep with her. If I hadn’t already been invested in the characters by that point in the book, I would have deleted it from my Kindle because it was just so unbelievably crass on the roommates part and simple-minded on Rory’s.

Other than my initial rant above, I enjoyed the book. I loved Tyler’s character and felt his need to protect his brother’s from the abuse and neglect they were suffering at the hands of their mother. It was obvious he felt responsible for them. The author did a superb job of bringing Tyler’s emotions to life. We saw the façade he put on around others and then we were given glimpses of the true loving, nurturing person he really was when he was around his family. His flaws and insecurities made him a believable, relatable character.

Rory was also well written with exception to my complaint above. I think she was a little too naïve in areas. But as the story progressed we are able to see her grow and develop into her own person. This is evident when she leaves her father (against his wishes) to help Tyler who has found himself in some trouble at no fault of his own. When Rory makes the decision to leave and help the guy she loves, and her father disapproves of, we can see how much she has come into her own. The slow progression of dependency on her father to independence was done very well. The author didn’t rush it and it worked seamlessly throughout the story.

Bottom line: I enjoyed the book very much. Would I recommend it? Yes. It was a good book. I don’t think the jacket copy did it justice. It made it sound like it was all about Rory losing her virginity, but the book was so much more than that. It delved into deeper relationship emotions and commitments, both between Rory and Tyler and Tyler and his brothers. It had a lot more depth than the jacket copy gave it credit for. Would I ever reread it? I may. It definitely is a book worth keeping.

My Rating: Four and a half stars for two reasons. First, the idiotic paying for sex idea. I just can’t get over someone prostituting out their friend’s virginity. And second, the horrible jacket copy. It didn’t relay the true depth of the book. It was a weak description and just might turn many readers away from a very good book.
Extreme Love - Abby Niles My thoughts after reading Extreme Love by Abby Niles

Nearly every woman, unless she’s a supermodel, can think of a guy she felt completely flustered being around. The guy who she felt was totally out of her league. Who made her hands shake, heart flutter and stomach quiver whenever he was around. Just being in the same room with him was more stressful than a root canal. Well, that’s Dante “Inferno” Jones to Caitlyn Moore. He’s the toned, muscular fighter who oozes sex appeal and can have any woman he wants. She’s the once overweight, insecure girl who’s not used to attention from anyone but the “average Joe.” So when Dante sets his sights on Caitlyn it flusters her—and then some.

Extreme Love follows the relationship of Dante and Cait’s relationship. Dante is exactly what you’d expect him to be, gorgeous, muscled, tanned, self-assured. He could have any woman he wants and they all throw themselves at him.

Cait is the good girl. She’s pretty, but doesn’t see it. She’s always had a weight problem. Although she’s lost weight a considerable amount of weight and is physically fit, she still sees herself as the pudgy girl. She’s not at all self-assured and compares herself to the woman at the fighters’ parties who are dressed in “barely there” outfits. It’s at one of the after fight parties that she goes to with her friend whose boyfriend is a fighter, that she meets Dante. She can’t figure out why he keeps coming around her and it completely throws her off-balance.

Cait’s initial reaction to Dante doesn’t stop him from pursuing her, however. But it turns out there’s a few roadblocks in their blossoming relationship. A big one is that Cait hates what Dante does. She doesn’t like the fights. And he lives for them. Then there’s Dante’s training, his trainer, his opponent, and Cait’s ever present low self-esteem issues. The cards are definitely not falling in their favor.

The writing was done well. Characters came across as real and relatable. They were flawed, just how a character should be, because we are all flawed. Perfect characters aren’t relatable, Ms. Niles did a good job making sure her characters were “human.” Cait did get a little on the whiny side and at times became annoying, but for the most part it was easily over-looked.

I was very impressed by the weight issue and how it was handled in the story. I love that the female character wasn’t a size zero and actually had curves and was (gasp!) a size twelve (Oh, the horror!). And despite that fact, Dante was attracted to her…what? Really? A woman with curves can be attractive? Hell yeah! And thank you Abby Niles for writing two great characters showing us that! And let me just say…the love scene was so freakin awesome! Dante just made me swoon. He was so damn patient helping Cait get past her insecurities, but man, it wasn’t lacking in the heat department. Wow.

Bottom line: I enjoyed Extreme Love. Would I recommend it? Yes. Would I read it again? I just might. I liked the characters. I loved the weight issue that Ms. Niles addressed and how she addressed it. I was disappointed a little by the ending. I think the author was going for shock value and while I understand the intent to ramp up the ending, it kind of fell flat for me. Although, that’s just my opinion and based on the character involved (no spoilers here!) I can see why/how the story leaned that way.

FIVE stars: I loved the premise of the overweight girl losing weight but always feeling like the ugly duckling (been there, done that), based on that I give the book five stars. It was an enjoyable read and had a deeper meaning than most NA books on the market today. Abby Niles did a great job of telling young women that they don’t have to starve themselves to be a size two to be beautiful and wanted by a man. Curves are sexy, ladies. Rock ‘em!
Crush. Candy. Corpse. - Sylvia McNicoll My thoughts on Crush. Candy. Corpse. By Sylvia McNicoll

Crush. Candy. Corpse. Isn’t a typical young adult book. I was completely taken by surprise when I started reading it. But I have to make this perfectly clear…

I loved it. I think everyone should read it.

But don’t go into thinking it’s going to be a sappy, romantic contemporary love story with a happily ever after ending like I did, because it isn’t and it won’t. This is a totally different experience. One that can potentially change lives.

Crush. Candy. Corpse. Follows the court hearing of Sunny who is charged with murdering one of the Alzheimer patients she was assigned to work with for her high-school’s mandatory forty-hour community service hours. The chapters alternate between the courtroom scenes and scenes at Paradise Manor, the Alzheimer home.

The book is riveting. I couldn’t put it down. I had to know what was going to happen next, what witness was going to be called and what they would say…what was going to be revealed in the scene at Paradise Manor…I was immersed in the story.

Sunny starts out her mandatory forty-hour community service hours hating her placement. She doesn’t want to be at Paradise Manor. She thinks it smells, the old people are weird, she doesn’t know how to deal with them. She wants to be anywhere but there.

But as the story progresses, we see Sunny mature. She begins to develop relationships with the patients, care about them. She worries if they are eating enough, if their families are visiting enough, if their clothes fit right. She develops a sense of empathy toward them that she didn’t have at the beginning of the book. We watch this growth as we go through her murder trial with her.
This book touches on some very deep and emotional subjects. Alzheimer’s disease and the effects it has on a family and the person afflicted. And, perhaps even harder to deal with, euthanasia. Is it okay to end a person’s life if they ask you to? When is the time to do so? Or is it never an option?

Crush. Candy. Corpse. Looks at these questions form a young adult’s view. It’s a powerful book.

Bottom line: Would I recommend it? Yes! Most definitely. Would I read it again? That’s a hard question. As much as I loved the book, it was also emotionally draining. I don’t know if I would read it again. Also, knowing the outcome, it wouldn’t have the same impact as the first time I read it.

Five Stars. It was an exceptional book. Not what I was expecting at all. It was much, much better!