Book Review: From The Wreckage by Michele G. Miller

From The Wreckage Cover

From The Wreckage
By: Michele G. Miller
Copyright: 2014
Format of Book: E-Book, One day I will own her paperbacks, too. She’s just that good.

I will start by saying I read this book in one day.. I really couldn’t put it down. From The Wreckage is a beautifully written novel that will draw you in from the very first chapter. When you start reading, you really don’t know what you’re getting yourself into and then suddenly you are thrown onto a rollercoaster ride. From The Wreckage is a haunting story about Jules Blacklin, a high school senior, who has survived a devastating storm in her town. She is forced to keep moving forward and find a way to continue surviving, despite the horror that she has experienced firsthand.

“In a matter of minutes on a Friday night, I lost my school, my identity, the security of my first love, the personality of my sweet fearless brother, my best friend, my town, everything as I knew it. Everything changed.  Minutes – that’s all it takes to change your entire life. How do you deal with that?”

Have you ever read one of those books where you feel like you are right in the middle of all the action? I was terrified, anxious, attached, frantic, desperate, hesitant, and filled with hope at multiple points while reading this novel, many at the same time. If you are like me and have never lived through a natural disaster to this magnitude, it’s hard to know what it’d be like. Sure, you can imagine it to some degree, but you really don’t know. From the moment the tornado lands, I was right there with/as Jules. My heart was racing and I felt her desperation.

The Final Countdown
Characterization  –  5/5 Stars
Miller does a great job delving into the psyche of a victim, finding the different facets of what makes her characters tick and then taking them through various stages of disarray. Each character experiences the same horrific and traumatizing event, but they all come out with a different scar. The sad beauty is that not all of these scars are physical. I immediately felt drawn to Jules. She’s that girl who has it all and then… doesn’t. Her decisions are many of the same ones I’d make. She’s one of the most real characters I’ve had the pleasure of reading in a long time.

One heartbreaking character within this story is Jules’ younger brother, Jase. Children see the world with open, excited eyes; they are ready to explore and learn. What happens to children when their world gets turned upside down, literally and figuratively?

West Rutledge.. don’t even get me started. A hero with something else seeding inside. I found his mystery to be magnetic and wanted to know more about him. (Ah, the beauty of series novels.) 🙂

Perhaps the biggest character of all is the storm itself. It becomes more than an event, it becomes personified – a villain that came to town and changed everything, leaving dust, damage and loss in its wake.

Overall, Miller’s cast of characters is seamlessly produced. I’d love to see what would happen if this had the chance to go to the big screen. (I call dibs on being cast as Jules, though…)

Dialogue  –  4/5 Stars
The execution of dialogue throughout this novel is done very well. Like everything else in this book, the dialogue is refreshing and honest. My favorite bits are the conversations that take place in the basement while Jules and West are trapped; these are the ones that pull at your heartstrings and make you breathe a little faster out of well-placed anxiety. One of the lines that West says to Jules while trapped struck a chord with me – “We’re not gonna die tonight, Buffy. I’ll be damned if I finally get the nerve to speak to you again, only to die in this place.”

Plot  –  5/5 Stars
There’s perfection in this plot. The best part? It’s not overdone. Miller has found something unique, but instead of banking on just the simple idea of a storm changing everything and how it resolves for a single character, she has created a web of cause and effect for multiple characters. To quote the Buffy the Vampire Slayer musical Once More With Feeling (which I feel is very fitting, seeing as FTW has multiple references to the cult classic) “Where do we go from here?”

Visual Imagery  –  5/5 Stars
Storms like the one in FTW happen all the time around the world. You watch the news, see photos and videos, feel sad and slightly scared, but it’s still not typically on your doorstep. Unless you’ve lived through it firsthand, there’s no way to actually get it. Reading From The Wreckage made me feel like I was inside the storm instead of just seeing archived footage. Recovering from those early scenes was like finishing a race… you need time to let everything settle and go back to normal.

When I’m reading a really good book, I find myself seeing through the eyes of a character I am drawn toward. For this one – it was Jules. The tornado touched down right behind her and my world went hazy as I ran for my life. When you find yourself right there, in the midst of it all, that’s when you know the author did something right.

Ending  4.5/5 Stars
Without giving anything away, the ending was satisfying enough, but I wanted even more. Not in a bad way, but in the when’s-the-next-in-the-series-coming-out kind of way. But that’s how it goes with books I am drawn into.  Looking forward to the next one!!

Total: 23.5/25 Stars

Why read this book?

Beauty and tragedy don’t tend to go hand-in-hand… but here they do. So much loss, love, growth, and coming of age in this complex YA novel. It’s a great start to what is sure to be an amazing series. I am an avid Michele G. Miller fan, but this is by far her best yet.

Have you read this book? What were your thoughts?

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Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West by Gregory Maguire

Wicked Book Cover

Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West
By: Gregory Maguire
Copyright: 1995
Published by: HarperCollins Publishers
Format of Book: Physical (Good ol’ crinking-pages, hardcover, hold-it-in-your-hands, smells-like-a book)

Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West is a clever take on L. Frank Baum’s The Wizard of Oz. The reader gets to see the story from the Wicked Witch’s point of view. From start to finish, we learn more about the Witch, her roots, her life story, her struggles and joys. Is it possible to love a villain? Hey, is she even really a villain? That’s what this beautifully written novel does.

I absolutely love Wicked. This was my third time reading this book; each time I read it, I find at least one detail I missed from before. I enjoy reading books that give me a different perspective each time I read them. This is no different. Separated into five parts, this novel is incredible from start to finish. There are two sides to every story and Maguire gives us a compelling and rather artistically-worded version. Dare I say, I enjoy the story within this novel far more than I enjoy that of the musical of the same name that was based off of this book. I love the darkness and the beauty of each character.

The Final Countdown
Characterization  –  4.5/5 Stars
The character development of Elphaba, our main character, is laid out to the very last detail from start to finish. Maguire takes us through the various stages of Elphaba’s life- from a little baby with terrifyingly sharp teeth, through teenage years and adulthood, until she meets Dorothy Gale. The thing that makes this book most enjoyable is how Maguire makes Elphaba into a character that the reader can relate to. I find it most interesting that it makes sense. This could be how the Wicked Witch was before that fateful meeting with the girl in the blue checkered dress and annoying little dog.

Throughout Elphaba’s story, we meet quite a few intriguing and mysterious characters; the beautiful Galinda with her upper-class life, Boq with his endearing persistance, Fiyero with his otherworldy ways, the Wizard with his agenda, and so many others. I fear giving too many names, as I don’t want to ruin the story for anyone.

Dialogue  –  3.5/5 StarsWicked quote 2
The dialogue in Wicked matches the wide array of characters that Maguire has introduced the reader to. The philosophical banter, moral questioning, heated arguments, and quirky jokes help drive the plot and characters along nicely. There are many times in Wicked that I found myself thinking, “Huh, I never thought about it that way” for various points characters would bring up. The argument of “What is evil?” comes up very often, each character sharing their perspectives.

Plot  –  4.5/5 Stars
This book has it all – mystery, intrigue, tension, love and hate, life and death, darkness and light. There’s a lot going on, but Maguire shares this with the reader in such a way as to not become overwhelming. I enjoyed finding out where Elphaba came from, who her parents were, what it was like to grow up in her world, follow her through her time in school and see what was to become of her. Maguire raises questions of morality and religion and what the consequences of our actions are.

The best part of Wicked‘s plot is that there are no stereotypical plot devices used. This is a freshly told story that keeps the reader on their toes wondering what will happen next.

Visual Imagery  –  3.5/5 Stars
The imagery in this story is well done. Maguire gives the reader enough detail to have a foundation but not so much that there is no need for imagination on the reader’s part. It’s amazing how Maguire can take a story like The Wizard of Oz that is so iconic and have his own take on what the land of Oz is like. He has an almost Tim Burton-esque view of this world he has adopted and made his own.

Ending  4.5/5 Stars
After 406 pages, I still didn’t want it to end. Luckily, it doesn’t have to just yet. Gregory Maguire has created a lovely little series of books to follow Wicked. While you know the ending of The Wizard of Oz, the ending of Wicked is like a whole new story. That’s all I will say about it. Other than, I love it.

Total: 20.5/25 Stars

Why read this book?

There’s a reason that I keep coming back to this book. It’s cumbersome in a wonderful way. I enjoy this version far more than The Wizard of Oz, but then again I’ve never been one for campy stories. There’s a little something in this story that I believe everyone can relate to, though the darkness interwoven throughout may not be for everyone. I love a book that can make you think. Give it a shot and keep an open mind.

Have you read this book? What were your thoughts?

E: Entertainment

E

E is for Entertainment

To me, a great book is entertaining. Now let me explain…

I don’t expect the book to always be about twists and turns and crazy adventure… but I want it to keep me inside it’s pages well after I have finished reading.

Reading Doing It Wrong
In a given book, want to have any/all of the following reactions to the story:

~ Laughter
~ Tears
~ Anger
~ Hope
~ Anticipation
~ Curiousity
~ Pride
~ Desire

buy books for happiness
The book can be fiction, non-fiction, classic, modern, drama, comedy, young adult, new adult, adult, sci-fi or realistic – I don’t care. I just expect the world when I read a book. I expect to feel something good about the book I am reading. I want to be so excited to read it, that turning the page is an adventure in and of itself.

Just like a good movie, television show, or stage production – a book needs to entertain me, otherwise… onto the next!

good book coping

D: Dead Until Dark by Charlaine Harris (Sookie Stackhouse series)

D

My apologies for the delayed D and E posts. Came down with some awful cold this weekend. Now for your D post!!

Dead Until Dark CHarris
Dead Until Dark
By: Charlaine Harris
Copyright: 2001
Published by: Berkley Publishing Group
Format of Book: Physical (Good ol’ crinking-pages, hardcover, hold-it-in-your-hands, smells-like-a book)

“Dead Until Dark” is a great mystery/comedy/fantasy blended story about Sookie Stackhouse, a cocktail waitress from Bon Temps, Louisiana. She’s adorable, small, feisty and quite attractive. She has one small flaw… she can read people’s minds. This has been an issue for her throughout her entire life, causing her to be sort of a loner. One can imagine that such a “disability” can hurt the dating world, as well. Enter Bill Compton – tall, mysterious, handsome.. and the greatest part? She can’t hear a single one of his thoughts. Bill also has something of his own to contend with – he’s a vampire. Vamps have just come out into the open. “Dead Until Dark” is the first story in the Sookie Stackhouse series and influence of the HBO hit series “True Blood.”

I thoroughly enjoyed this read. This was my second time reading “Dead Until Dark” and I loved it even more this time around. Sookie Stackhouse, Bill Compton, Sam Merlotte, and other great characters help round out a rather intriguing storyline. As a huge fan of True Blood, I can attest to the fact that, while the tv show is inspired by the book series, the books are VERY different. Even more important – this book is NOT Twilight. This is an adult’s look into the world of vampires. No one sparkles.

The Final Countdown
Characterization  –  3.5/5 Stars
Between the mysterious characters who we only have a surface skimming to those who we are given an in depth background of, I felt highly satiated as the reader. I felt like I knew Sookie and her lifelong plights. How horrible it must feel to be completely invaded by people’s thoughts each and every day. The level of mystery throughout the book allows for those holes in the story, knowing that at some point they will be filled.

Sookie is an excellent character. She’s outspoken, defends herself, and simply wants to experience love. Enter Bill Compton, most people’s dreamy, undead fantasy. Not mine. He’s very well-developed, but he rubs me the wrong way. I find him to be a bit more controlling that I prefer in a man.

My favorite character of the bunch in this story is Sam Merlotte, the owner of Sookie’s place of work, Merlotte’s. He cares about Sookie, has a secret of his own (who doesn’t?) and is confident (but not cocky.)

Dialogue  –  3/5 Stars
Where the rest of the countdown thrives, the dialogue isn’t as strong. That’s not to say it’s bad – I am thoroughly entertained by the dialogue throughout the Sookie Stackhouse series. Sookie is filled with bite and her many years of practicing keeping her face from reacting to the thoughts of others comes through in her tongue-in-cheek responses to those who get on her last nerve. She isn’t afraid to stick up for herself, even in a life-or-death situation, which leads to some great moments between her and some of the Big Bads throughout the story.

Plot  –  3/5 Stars
This book has all of my favorites – fantasy, mystery, romance, plot twists, great characters, and real time. There are great plot drivers, such as Sookie’s telepathy, the relationship between Sookie and each of the males in her life, the vampire’s entrance into society (or not), and a whole mess of other things. With so many different storylines, it’s amazing that the story doesn’t get jumbled. Charlaine Harris manages her plot points well, ensuring to close any loose ends that need closing and leaving open those that drive the reader toward the next book in the series.

Visual Imagery  –  2/5 Stars
The imagery in this story is lacking. I love the fast-paced movement of the book, but I am missing those various descriptions to make the visuals easier. I have a foundation of how everything appears, but I am missing the added detail. I can picture a general floorplan of Sookie’s house and Merlotte’s, but I wanted a bit more detail. Having watch True Blood since the beginning of the show, I am not at a loss for visuals, but I would like to read more instead of have the tv show dictate what I see.

Ending  3.5/5 Stars
I enjoyed the ending. After a very action-packed book, I felt fulfilled by the way the story rounded out.

Total: 15/25 Stars

Why read this book?

As I mentioned above, this story is such a great mix of so many genres – fantasy, mystery, romance, drama, comedy. With all of this, there’s bound to be something in the story that you like. This isn’t your average vampire story – Firstly, no one sparkles. Secondly, there’s SO much more to it than what meets the eye. And finally, it’s for adults. This stands alone from the tv show, as I mentioned before. If you love True Blood, you’ll enjoy these books. If you haven’t seen the show, you can still enjoy Sookie’s adventures into this new world.

Have you read this book? What were your thoughts?

Cover Reveal – From the Wreckage by Michele G. Miller

We are so excited to be sharing the cover for From the Wreckage by Michele G. Miller with everyone today! 
This is the first book in a series that will show you the depths of despair, as well as the hope and faith that come From the Wreckage.
 
Synopsis:
 
About Michele:
Michele is the author of the Coming of Age Fantasy Trilogy The Prophecy of Tyalbrook –

Never Let You Fall, book one (May 2013) and Never Let You Go, book two (Jan 2014) as well as the New Adult Romantic Suspense, Last Call (Oct 2013). 

She is currently working on the third book in The Prophecy of Tyalbrook Series, a Last Call novel and a YA Realistic Fiction that has her super excited!

Having grown up in both the cold, quiet town of Topsham, Maine and the steamy, southern hospitality of Mobile, Alabama, Michele is something of a enigma. She is an avid Yankees fan, loves New England, being outdoors and misses snow. However she thinks southern boys are hotter, Alabama football is the only REAL football out there and sweet tea is the best thing this side of heaven and her children’s laughter!

Her family, an amazing husband and three awesome kids, have planted their roots in the middle of Michele’s two childhood homes in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Email: authormichelegmiller@gmail.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorMicheleGMiller
Twitter: https://twitter.com/chelemybelles
Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/chelemybelles/
Website: http://michelegmiller.blogspot.com/
Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Michele-G-Miller/e/B00CLRE0B0/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_1
Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/c/michele-g-miller
iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/artist/michele-g-miller/id726644601?mt=11
Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/MicheleGMiller
Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6975382.Michele_G_Miller 

Complete by Lindy Zart – Blog Tour – Giveaway In Post

CompleteCoverKeep - CopyComplete (Incomplete Series, Book 2)
By: Lindy Zart
Publication Date: March 15, 2014
Genre: New Adult Romance

Blurb

If the truth sets one free, why does Lily Jacobs feel so trapped?

She’s learned doing the right thing isn’t always best and now she is living the consequences of her greatest sacrifice. Every day since Grayson Lee left is one she wishes he hadn’t. Years have gone by since their friendship turned to more and then was eradicated by Lily alone; enough time for their young love to fade. Only it hasn’t, not for Lily.

Now he is back and seeing him is devastating to her at the same time it is rapture. She tries to accept that they cannot be together, but everything inside her shouts that they should be; that they only fit with each other. And so she has to accept the greatest truth of all: She loves him still. She loves him enough not to let him go this time.

Excerpt

He wordlessly holds out a hand to me. His chest is rising and lowering from jumping around and heat emanates from him as he holds my gaze. As I fit my hand in his, the song changes to ‘Everything Changes’ by Staind. The scent of home wraps around me as he pulls me into his strong arms. His palms span the width of my back as though each finger of his has to be in contact with me.

I vaguely hear Aidan say something about pancakes and then he leaves the room with a grin on his face. My attention is immediately back on Grayson. He is singing to me, bringing me tighter into his arms, his mouth close to my temple. Pinpricks of cold awareness trail up and down my back and arms. I close my eyes, clutching him to me; the front of me pressed to him. It isn’t enough. Overwhelming emotion washes over me like the hands of regret.

“Can I tell you something?” he whispers by my ear as the song ends.

I whisper back, “Do I want you to tell me something?”

His lips smile against my forehead. “Does that ever matter?”

Pulling back, I look into eyes that have loved me and haunted me. “Not usually.” I smile.

Grayson brings his mouth close to mine, never releasing my gaze, and tells me, “You weren’t my first love.” He pauses and my heart cracks at his declaration. “You were my only love.” And it is repaired and whole just as quickly.

My Review

Complete picks up a few years after Grayson and Lily’s story finished in Lindy Zart’s first book in the duo – Incomplete. If you haven’t read that one yet, I highly suggest it. New Adult Romance has quickly become one of my favorite genres, especially when you throw in a great author such as Lindy Zart.

In their first installment, Incomplete, Lily and Grayson were best friends growing up and discovered that maybe there was something bigger for them. [ Fun side bar – my husband and I were best friends in high school. 🙂 ] Complete takes place a few years after the previous story. Lily and Grayson have both graduated and moved on with their lives. It is a beautiful and witty story about two people who were best friends in love and what happens when life gets in the way.

    The Final Countdown

Characterization – 4/5 Stars
All of the characters in this story are very well-developed. Of them all, Lily is the most dynamic. She has a beautiful soul and has grown up quite a bit since the last time we met her. Grayson and Lily are still battling their demons, though they’re more complex now.

Lindy Zart does a great job building the history of each of her characters. The struggle with an alcoholic family member continues to be an issue for one character, while another struggles with their identity. One unsung hero in the midst is Stone; he’s ultimately one of my favorites. I love that he loves his grandfather, is a tasteful flirt and isn’t pushy. I’d have loved to see more of him (spin-off, maybe?)

Each character in Complete has a purpose. I’d love to be a part of their circle.

Dialogue – 4.5/5 Stars
The dialogue in Complete is a wonderful mix of playful banter, tragic confession and beautiful romance. I love those books where I can be laughing at one minute and crying at the next – this is definitely one of them. Grayson and Lily may be older now, but they seem to pick up where they left off. Zart used the dialogue in this novel to drive the story; this is fitting, since communication is key in any relationship – romantic, family, friends.

Plot – 4.5/5 Stars
When a story makes me feel like my own life is written in it’s pieces, I can’t help but fall in head first. Perhaps I’m a bit biased since I am always going to root for best friends in love, even if something has pulled them apart. Complete has pretty much everything I want in a romance – friends, family, conflict, music, sex. There are moments here or there that pulled me away from the story, but for the majority I was completely enthralled.

Visual Imagery – 3.5/5 Stars
I enjoy when as author gives me just enough detail to have a great foundation for what to see, but leaves space for me to come up with things on my own. Between Grayson’s bad boy style, Lily’s out-of-comfort outfits, a beautiful middle-of-nowhere feel, and everything in between, I had no trouble “seeing” the story. Visually, the story is just as beautiful as the dialogue. There are moments, such as Grayson and Lily’s stolen glances, that draw you in just a much as the conversation.

Ending 4.5/5 Stars
All I will say is – you should read it yourself.

TOTAL: 21/25 Stars

Why read this book?

If you:

like romance
have ever been in love with your best friend
want to make it big in the world
have every settled for anything less than you deserve
or just love to read
You will find something to love about this book. The struggles are all realistic, the love story brings you pain and joy, and you find yourself rooting for someone. Who? Well, that’s for you to decide. Everyone deserves true love, it’s just harder for some to see that. I absolutely love this book.

*I received copy of book for honest review.

Links

Goodreads- https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18461474-complete
Kindle- http://www.amazon.com/Complete-Incomplete-Lindy-Zart-ebook/dp/B00IZRAPKK/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1395587260&sr=8-1&keywords=Lindy+Zart
Smashwords- http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/418916
Nook- http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/complete-lindy-zart/1118922206?ean=2940149221042

About the Author

Lindy Zart has been writing since she was a child. Luckily for readers, her writing has improved since then. She lives in Wisconsin with her husband, two sons, and one cat. Lindy loves hearing from people who enjoy her work.

Links-

Twitter- https://twitter.com/lindyzart
Facebook- https://www.facebook.com/lindyzart
Goodreads- http://www.goodreads.com/lindyzart
Amazon Author Page- http://www.amazon.com/author/lindyzart
Blog- http://lindyzartauthor.blogspot.com
Smashwords Author Page-https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/lindyzart

Giveaway Info

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