Miss Nobody by Nicole Dunlap Book Review

missnobody_coverMiss 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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Child of the Loch by Elizabeth Delana Rosa 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.51jmHsHBulL._SY400_

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

Have You Seen Her? By Chicki Brown Book Review

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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 she 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