Friday, March 29, 2013

Miss Nobody Book Review

Miss Nobody: Book One of The Shaw Family Saga by Nicole Dunlap is the expertly woven tale of Charlene Shaw and her daughter Raven Shaw. Fifteen-year-old Charlene has dreams of becoming a famous actress. After having her heart broken by her true love and not having a good home life, she decides to run away from Bellwood, North Carolina headed for Hollywood. Unfortunately, she accepts a ride from a truck driver who sexually assaults her and leaves her for dead. A little over a year later her parents finally hear of Charlene’s fate and go to an Iowa orphanage to retrieve her. However, Charlene has left for L.A. to pursue her acting and in her place is a blue-eyed baby girl named Raven. The Shaws take their granddaughter home to Bellwood and so begins the intertwining stories of Charlene and Raven Shaw.

I really liked the story. The emotions are believable and I like that the author expertly keeps the characters separate but connected. Charlene and Raven both have their own distinctive voices as the reader follows them both over an eighteen year period. I also appreciate getting to know Damien and Jon, their respective love interests, by getting into their heads a little. I believe Charlene's trauma from her encounter with the truck driver and I’m satisfied that it encompasses a fear of freeways as well as men. Her love/hate roller coaster emotions with her faith are believable and well played as well.

There are minor questions I have about Charlene spending over 14 years trying to become an actress without trying to improve herself in other ways. But I haven’t been that obsessed with anything so I can’t relate on that note. I also thought that Charlene and her ties to Bellwood over the years is a little orchestrated. The pattern of assault in the Shaw family does seem a bit overdone too.

There are endearing moments in between Charlene and Damien as well as Raven and Jon. Their lives, although filled with much drama, do get reprieves. I like Raven's strong character being a stark contrast to her mom. Charlene doesn't have the strength Raven does which eventually pits them against one another. Can they reconcile? The secondary characters are entertaining and useful. I enjoyed Ms. Jenkins. She is funny and familiar. Elise is a perfect “Ice Queen” and plays her part to the last.

The dialog is smooth, believable and interesting. The setting is well chosen and skillfully used. The description and use of plot devices, especially Raven’s blue eyes, make this a rich story. Speaking of rich, I was impressed by the dynamics of wealth in the small town of Bellwood and how it plays a major role in the fate of many characters. I liked the presentation of facts that created suspense and foreshadowed much throughout the plot. It was like a puzzle except more than one piece could fit.

Miss Nobody has great drama worthy of its own miniseries. If you like the drama and shock factor of daytime soap operas and now some of the prime time dramas, Miss Nobody is for you.

Rating: 4.5/5

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Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Hair Extension Review Coming Soon

Many lovely hair extensions can be found online here.
They can add a pop of color to any outfit and are great for the spring season!
Video review coming soon!!

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Marlene Bateman / Gaze Into Heaven Guest Post

Please join me in welcoming Marlene Bateman to PrincessReviews as she talks about her book, Gaze into Heaven!! :
This book is a religious one and is slanted toward members of the church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
Here are some assorted blurbs.  

Gaze Into Heaven is a carefully compiled collection of more than 50 near-death experiences that occurred during the early years of the Church. These documented accounts give fascinating glimpses into the Spirit World by those who have actually been there. Besides being filled with stories of insight and inspiration, Gaze Into Heaven has pertinent quotes from latter-day Prophets and other leaders,scriptures, and perceptive commentary. After reading this book, you will never think of life—or death—in the same way.

Most of us have wondered exactly what will happen when we die. What does the Spirit World look like? Will we see departed family members and friends? What do people do there? Do spirits there know what is happening on earth? What did people who had near-death experiences learn from their visit? All of these questions and many more are answered in Gaze Into Heaven. There have been many books written about modern day near-death experiences, but this book is the first to focus solely on those that took place in early church history.

Studying near-death experiences can bless us with a better understanding of this life and increase our knowledge of the life to come. By reading about those who actually entered the spirit world and saw conditions there, we can benefit from the insights they gained and use that information to reevaluate our lives and use our time on earth productively.

Deseret Book:
Seagull Book

How I came up with the title
Some people have asked me how I came up with the book title. It is from a quote by Joseph Smith. It’s a really cool quote, but a bit lengthy, so I’ll shorten it a little.  Joseph Smith said; “All men know that they must die . . . it is important that we should understand the reasons . . . of life and of death, and the designs and purposes of God in our coming into the world . . . and our departure hence. . . It is a subject we ought to study more than any other. . . Could you gaze into heaven five minutes, you would know more than you would by reading all that was ever written on the subject.” Joseph Smith, History of the Church, Period I, vol. 6, (Salt Lake City: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 9 October, 1843), 50.

Quote from a reader
“I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this book! I can't even tell you how grateful I am to you for writing it. My 12 year old nephew died in May and this has been a healing balm to my soul. I can't wait to send a copy to my brother. I have always been afraid to die, but not now. This book has power in its pages.” Alice Gold

From Back Cover
“With this book, Marlene Bateman Sullivan has done a valuable service for Latter-day Saint readers. Previous life-after-death studies published brief extracts from numerous sources and combined them to define spirit-world events and conditions. Returning to those sources, she has compiled many of their complete accounts, which add additional insights that will be enjoyed by many. Well done!” Duane S. Crowther, author of Life Everlasting—A Definitive Study of Life After Death

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Friday, March 22, 2013

Child of the Loch Book Review

Child of the Loch by Elizabeth Delana Rosa is about J.J. McDonnell who on her twenty-fourth birthday discovers that she is the heir to the Loch throne; and that she must take her throne immediately to save the people and the land from destruction. The story follows J.J. as she forms alliances and makes enemies on her way to the throne.

The only way for me to describe this book is Lord of the Rings on fast forward. I have “watched” movies by fast forwarding until I see something interesting and then pushing play for a few minutes and then fast forwarding again, watching a three-hour movie in like thirty minutes. That is how I felt reading Child of the Loch. I wasn’t going to give a rating at first because I felt it was not complete.

There is very little dialog and a lot of “telling” without enough “showing.” It is in first person so it reads much like a diary. There are moments of greatly crafted description, but they're few. I did not feel invested in the heroine J.J. and I sometimes forgot her name because no one says it due to there being hardly any quoted dialog. I also don’t get to know the other characters whose personalities would usually come through dialog. I get a vague idea of the characters from some of the actions that J.J. describes but of course it’s subjective. She can’t really tell the reader what that other character is thinking and feeling. I can't care about them that much because I don't know them. I was confused for a short time because I mixed up Selorn and Sean. As it reads, the two do not have any unique attributes to separate them in my mind.

I did like the parts that had dialog and seemed to take time to expand on the scenes. I liked J.J.’s connection to Sanandra the dragon. (I liked the dragon’s name too.) I was moved by the part when they mourned Sanandra’s child. I also liked the marriage advice given. Favorite line: “If you can not take the next breath without thinking of him as part of your future, then you must bond.” At this time, family secrets are revealed. This story has more intertwined lives than a soap opera. This bit of drama does give it a twist. These brief moments pull the reader in to see the characters. I wish the entire book was more like that.

The climax provides a surprising turn of events for the villain. I thought it fitting. I read another review that pointed out that this is a good read for someone who wants the magic and mystically wonderful world of nymphs, elves and dragons without all the added weight of heavy dialog and description. I agree. So I think I can give this book a rating based on how I felt reading it. My personal preference would’ve been for more dialog and getting to know the characters through them. But the story is creative and has some good fantasy elements. So it is a good option for readers wanting the adventure at a good pace without too much clogging it up. Great cover.

Rating 3/5
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Sunday, March 17, 2013

John Barlow Interview

1. What is Islanders about?
In the wake of environmental and social collapse, a group of kids go in
search of the truth about what happened to their world.

2. Which character from Islanders are you most like and why?
Coby. He's the best friend of the leader of the group (Ben Brewer). Coby is
a bit of a coward, but he provides back-up for the more courageous members
of the group. I think novelists are like that; we're not typically heroic or
dashing, we're always there in the background, looking on.

3. How many books (of your own writing) do you hope to have published in
your life time?
I've had six published so far. The plan is 2 more in the Islanders series
and a whopping 8 more in the LS9 crime series I'm writing. Wow, that would
be 16...

4. What is your favorite quote?
"By the time a man realizes that maybe his father was right, he usually has
a son who thinks he's wrong." Charles Wadsworth.

5. What inspires you the most?
Other writers inspire me, though, especially the great modern American
masters. I was re-reading Salinger's FRANNIE AND ZOOEY the other day. It
blew me away, the elegance of the prose, the assuredness of every sentence.

6. What is your favorite hotel to stay at when traveling?
I love faceless modern hotels, like Holiday Inns. I find the anonymity
relaxing. The ideal hotel for me is the Holiday Inn at Heathrow Airport; the
fact that you are staying there implies that you'll be taking a flight
somewhere exciting tomorrow...

7. Do you prefer Coke or Pepsi?
Pepsi. But the only soda I really like is root beer. I wrote a novel about
the invention of a fictitious soft drink rather like Coke. During the
research I read about Moxie. I really want to try Moxie one day!

8. What made you want to write Islanders / What inspired Islanders?
The Harry Potter revolution made me think that the YA genre could be
exciting and fun to write. I had a go and liked it, so I just kept on with
the novel. It took me five years, though.

9. Do you have any pets?
No. We live in an apartment. I love dogs, but the thought of picking up warm
poop with a plastic bag every morning on the street makes me shudder.
Mornings are bad enough for me without that.

10. Thank you!! Is there anything else you'd like to say?
ISLANDERS is at 99cts for the next few weeks, so now might be a good time to
give it a go!

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Greg James Interview

1. What inspired you to write The Sword of Sighs?

The idea for The Sword of Sighs came from the Fantasy fiction that I grew up reading for the most; The Hobbit, The Chronicles of Narnia and The Wizard of Oz being the main ones. There are also some influences from Fantasy television shows and movies I watched at the time like He-Man, Dungeons & Dragons and Star Chaser. I’d like to think that it’s written as more of a Classic Fantasy story than Gritty or Dark Fantasy. It’s a tribute to everything I enjoyed as a child and teenager.

In addition to that, I wanted to write a novel with a female lead character who is strong, independent and gets to grow and develop throughout the story without needing a romantic sub-plot as a crutch. But that’s just my own preference for characters who can stand on their own two feet against what the world has to throw at them.

2. What is The Sword of Sighs about?

The Sword of Sighs is about Sarah Bean – a teenage girl from Okeechobee, Florida who finds a way into another world called Seythe. Once she arrives there, she discovers that she has magical abilities that she was born with. She meets a wizard, Ossen, who tells her that she can help to save Seythe and its people from an ancient, evil being known as the Fallen One.

3. Which character from The Sword of Sighs are you most like and why?

I think a writer is every character in their books – good and bad. So I would say I’m like all of them really. That said, the main characters; Sarah, Ossen and Jedda, all contain some key aspects of my personality. Sarah has my sense of commitment to a cause and determination. Ossen has my interest in understanding the world and observing how it works. Jedda has my desire to fight for what’s important to me, no matter what.

4. If The Sword of Sighs was a movie, who would you want to play the part of The Fallen One and why?

The Fallen One has some similarities with Sauron from The Lord of the Rings in that he exists as a presence in the background for the majority of the story. However, there is a character called E’blis who serves as his avatar in The Sword of Sighs. I think Frank Langella would be the perfect actor to play E’blis.

5. Are you more of a video-gamer or a board-gamer?

I enjoy both. I’ve enjoyed games since I was very young, especially those with a strong storyline to them as I think this helped me to understand structure and how you put a plot together in an entertaining and engaging way. A few favourites off the top of my head would be HeroQuest, Dungeons & Dragons, Space Crusade, Dead Space, Bioshock, Silent Hill 2, Ico and Shadow of the Colossus.

6. Are you closer to your mother or father?

I was closer to my mother.

7. Where is your favorite place to travel to and why?

My favourite place would be Whitby in North Yorkshire. It’s a very picturesque, old-fashioned and relaxing seaside port-town that allows you to leave the current century behind whilst you are there. It’s also where Bram Stoker based a large part of Dracula.

8. If you could live anywhere, where would you live (city, Los Angeles, Italy, beach, woods, etc) and what would you live in (mansion, hotel, boat, car, etc.)?

I like the idea of a house away from everything – either in the countryside, forest or amongst the Scandinavian mountains. I wouldn’t want something as large as a mansion really, just a small place that I could call my own.

9. What age would you say you are, mentally or personality-wise?

I think all writers tend to be younger than their years, in some respects, as creativity requires a lot of imagination and the world we live in does tend to want to stifle your imagination the older you get. But at the same time, I think we can appear older than we are as well – to write well, you need to be capable of insight into people and the world around you. That insight requires a sensitivity that comes with an early maturity that allows your imagination to create art and stories that truly connect with people, regardless of age.

10. Thank you! Is there anything else you'd like to say?

I’d like thank Tasha and Princess Reviews for hosting this interview and I’d like to wish all of the readers out there the very best. Without readers, a writer is nothing so we owe you everything.

The Sword of Sighs can be purchased from:

For information on Greg James, please visit:

Friday, March 15, 2013

Have You Seen Her? Book Review

Have You Seen Her? by Chicki Brown follows Marcia Hadley's escape from her fabulously wealthy but abusive husband. Forming a new identity as Dani Reynolds 3,000 miles away, she takes a job as a cocktail waitress at a club called Frenzy, hoping to stay off the radar. But the club's bouncer Taylor has set his sights on her. To her surprise, Dani finds herself looking right back.

This book has a good premise although it is predictable. Readers will definitely get their money's worth just in the word count alone. This is a LONG book. I was surprised how long it was for a romance. I was exhausted a third of the way through the book. The writing is clean, consistent and clear. It is also tedious. It follows Dani through each and every action of each and every day...well practically. I would have cut out a lot of her day-to-day activities.

The plot kept me on a seesaw of interest. For example, the idea of her husband finding her, her attraction to Taylor and sparse intense altercations creates tension, but then the volume of text devoted to Dani's day-to-day activity stifles the progression.

Dani is a strong female character from the beginning, so I did not see much of a change there. Her perception and reaction to Taylor is the only thing that really changes. I think her transformation happened before she even left her husband. But this book describes in detail Dani's growing relationship with Taylor. Every thought, every conversation she has with her neighbor Fanny or friend Sonja is purposeful and reveals much about how she's feeling and provides her with much needed advice.

Taylor is a complex male character that has a lot of rich background. As the story progresses we find out his character and his motives are greatly tied into his past. It really should be Taylor's story to be honest. He's the character that grows the most.
We hardly get any background about Dani beyond the fact that married into wealth. In fact, we don't get any idea about her family until we're deep into the story. I thought that odd because it isn't explained why she doesn't contact them until 75% through the plot.

The other characters do their jobs creating tension or providing advice. However, I didn't care for how everything just works out for everyone, and all previous animosities are resolved. That seems unrealistic. Not everyone is going to feel ok about every situation, especially when it deals with matters of the heart. Nor will they voice their change of opinions so articulately.

Speaking of talking, the dialog is realistic for the most part. Yet, I do think Dani and Taylor speak a bit too freely about the details of their relationship to their friends. I also think the coincidences are a bit much. What is the likelihood that Dani would find so many people in her small circle who identified with her situation? But I guess you can chalk it up to the statistics of domestic violence in the area where Dani chooses to live.
There are a few proofreading errors but it doesn't distract from the reading. The setting is described enough to get a good idea without lingering too much. The romance is sweet. There is nothing over the top. It is tastefully written.

It was hard for me to decide on a rating. Like I said before I was running hot and cold on this one. I don't need a lot of action in a romance, but it has to have a good pace. I think what bothered me the most was the slow pacing of the story. All the details and in depth thoughts of the characters and their backgrounds are great to know. But much of it should have just been left out.

I think this would do well as a TV series or mini series. It reads more like that with mini issues popping up that really have nothing to do with the overall plot. But we would watch to the end for the big deal, which for romance novels is the two main characters getting together.

I would recommend this book for a leisurely read like the novels of the 18th century that had description that went on for pages and pages and people had time to enjoy it.

Rating 3.5/5

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Friday, March 8, 2013

Charmeine, The Light-Bearer Series Book One Review

Charmaine, Book One of the Light-Bearer series by Emily Guido stars Tabbruis as a lonely Blood-Hunter who has sworn off human blood, and Charleen  (aka Charmaine) as a lonely Light-Bearer who doesn't know she's a Light-Bearer. This book is an introduction to the Light-Bearers series so it covers Tabbruis and Charleen's meeting and the rise of the main threat against them.

As a reader, the synopsis drew me in and the cover art is awesome. I couldn't wait to read this.  Once I got inside, the story moves along well with Tabbruis. However, there are places that read way too quickly. I felt like I was reading an extended synopsis. One that particularly bothered me was Tabbruis' background. That could've been a book all its own. It felt rushed. But once we introduce Charleen, the story gets bogged down. Toward the end as Tabbruis and Charleen are getting to know each other, the pace is incredibly slow. Every action is being described almost in real time. A lot of it could have been cut out. This is a problem I find with the first book of a series. There is so much introduction that the author wants to do that they don't realize they're boring the reader.

Characters. There is nothing that really endears me to Tabbruis or Charleen. I think it's because I'm being "told" how I should feel about them rather than presenting me with the character and letting me decide.

This is a paranormal romance and it involves a lot of emotion. A lot of emotion.
I felt like I was reading a spoof of a romance novel. It took all the elements and exaggerated them to the point of being comical. If that was the author's intention, they succeeded. If not, I'd invest in a good amount of revision and editing.

Final thoughts: I wouldn't read it again. But it can be enjoyed. It's a good premise. I just couldn't get past the author's writing style.

Rating 2.7/5

To read more about why I wouldn't read it again, finish the review at:

Friday, March 1, 2013

Salt of the Earth Book Review

Salt of the Earth by Jesse V. Coffey is about Rip. Rip is dead. This is the story that happens between life and the afterlife.

Robert Isaac Porter dies in a shoot out after a botched robbery attempt. He ends up in the most haunted cemetery in New England where he meets his Guardian Angel who puts him to work in haunting the place. Everyone in the cemetery has a job whether it's raising a literal "stink", turning into a banshee or running around headless after the "tourists."

I enjoyed this book. It is a quick and easy read. Rip is good guy with many hidden talents that you couldn't tell from his speech which is full of "hip" slang. But most of the other entertaining characters have their own slang as well. You won't be confused about who is speaking. It is pretty diverse.

The plot moves along pretty quickly and was easy to follow. It was only when the characters started talking about karma, the "Far Meadow" and death insurance that I started to get a little confused. But the points are minor and don't take away from the gentle humor of the book.

This is really a character-driven novel and we get a look into the emotional and psychological aspects of the soul. Some of it was abstract so it's open to interpretation about what really happens when a person dies. But from this book, it sounds like they have a good time scaring the "solids."

I recommend this book for a good, quick read with light humor and maybe a little inspiration.

Rating 4/5

Read more reviews by Cherese Vines at