on June 9, 2013 :
One of the biggest draws for me when reading this book was that the story was original. The world established by McMichael was very clear to me, despite discrepancies of an actual time (i.e. toy cars vs. actual cars exisiting). I love how we get the details and world of the courier throughout the novel, and just the fact that the novel dealt more with this type of character and strayed from the over-done fantasy novels of vampire/zombie/elf/insert-monster-of-choice-here. It was definitely a nice change. Leila is cast as the tough, yet lovable heroine, who smarts off and fends for herself most of the time. There are wonderfully developed side characters who support our eventual band of brothers, if you will; such as Roger, Anatolio, Phillip, Tim, Ruth, etc.
Although I am a strong believer in telling the story you want to tell as a hopeful future editor, there were a few suggestions I would like to merely mention. (SPOILERS ahead!) The relationship between Leila and Nalick was great, but I do feel as if there wasn't enough struggle between the two from the point of her deciding to stay to finally developing feelings for him. It seemed to me that she gave in too easily and honestly, not something I would expect if she really loved Erich that much. Also, I feel as though part of this may stem from not fleshing out the relationship between Leila and Erich enough. To me there was an understanding of their relationship, but only a surface one. Another suggestion I have is more development of Nalick. The beginning of the novel claims him to be a ruthless leader, but I feel as though we never really glimpse that side of him. If we don't really see this false perception of him, why mention it? One last suggestion I have is that I would have liked more from the priest. I just felt like his importance and predictions were downplayed, when his role figures pretty prominently throughout the novel.
Overall, this was a wonderful read. I would highly recommend it to those who enjoy fantasy novels, and are looking for something different than the over-done, run-of-the-mill reads out today.
(reviewed 4 months after purchase)
on June 1, 2013 :
First thank you to B. Kristin McMichael and Never Too Old For Young Adult for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.
I really enjoyed this book. I have a thing for kings and queens era books and I was really excited to read this.
When I started the book I forgot what the summary said so I was kind of confused when it started with Kay and I remembered that Leila was actually the main character. Also, there were many typos. Repeat words or words that weren't meant to be there but it's nothing that a good edit couldn't fix.
I was a little confused with the constant switching of POVs but I definitely think it added to the story knowing more than just what Leila thought, I just think it could have better transitions.
I thought it was a great and original idea and I loved the whole underlying theme of fate. If you had a chance to know how your whole life would play out and everyone you cared about would you want to know?
I don't blame Leila for not wanting to, but I also know why someone might.
While the ending wasn't as bad as I was expecting it to be (the people who complained about it must not have read very many sad stories), a few tears did roll down my cheek.
I realized I did get very attached to the characters and because it was written so well I was emotional at the end.
I praise the author for this wonderful story and will definitely be checking out her other works.
(reviewed 23 days after purchase)
on May 31, 2013 :
I have to say I loved every moment of this book. From page one all the way to the bittersweet and unexpected ending. I love the world of this book Lexia the desert city, Dria the river city, North Country the mountain city, each with their own unique way of life and each equally descriptive and beautiful. I especially love the characterization, each character has a different unique personality with their own individual quirks. I loved that I could relate to each and every one of them. I also like that the true bad guy in this novel is fate, life, and time. Though their were bad people they were not the main culprit. I haven't ever read a book quite like this one. It was unique and original. I loved how it was more about how she lived her life then her saving the world or some cliche thing. It was well developed, well thought out, and well written. The imagery was beautiful. My favorite part of the whole book was the characterization and the lives and choices each character made. It's been a long time since I've read a book like this not since Cleopatra's Daughter by Michelle Moran.
This book is about a woman named Leila who is a courier. Her friend gets caught one day and Leila barters her life for her friends. Nalick the king that caught her makes a deal with her if she stays and marries him he will let her friend go. Nalick is doing this in the beginning because his seer saw that Leila and he were fated to be together. At first I was pissed at Nalick for forcing her into this when she didn't want it but later I found he was a sweet, caring man that just wanted her to stay long enough to get to know him. I love how their relationship grows. Its slow but because it is its realistic, and there is no denying that they love each other. The other nobles of Lexia don't like Leila because she's a commoner and other kings are trying to kidnap her to make her their bride also, so their lives are hardly dull.
Leila is so cool. She can definitely take care of herself. She's strong-willed, head-strong, and stubborn, but she's also trustworthy, caring, and has a huge heart that is loyal and pure. I loved the children Phillip, Tim, and Ruth. They were adorable and just had my heart melting from the first page. Nalick is a strict and scary king, but underneath he's caring, loving, and a little bit of an anxious worrywart. But he's handsome and has a heart of gold. Anatolio well his character was incredibly done. He was Leila's protector, her shadow. He knew everything about her and he truly cared about her. Now I don't want to give the ending away so all I'm going to say is pay attention to his character because he plays a major role in Leila's life later.
*I received this book free from the author in exchange for an honest review.*
(reviewed 3 days after purchase)
on May 31, 2013 :
I received a free copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.
K...this one is tricky and will take some time to review...I'm finished and will review soon.
I've settled on a 3.5...
So, I finished this book almost a month ago, and I have tried to review it twice. I like the story. It is a great story with a lot of potential: a great female protagonist, interesting and deep supporting characters, a well-developed world, and a unique plot twist that re-defines "happily ever after."
I struggled with the editing in this story though - really struggled. It needed some quality time with a red pen and perhaps another revision to iron out some kinks and further develop the relationship between Leila and Nalick during her imprisonment. Also, there are issues with pacing during this time and too much awkwardness in the development of that relationship for me to be comfortable with it. I mean King Nalick is not one to be messed with; he is scary to most who have heard of him. However, Leila doesn't show her intimidation; I love her attitude toward him even in the face of what she has heard of him. On the other hand, the author doesn't see enough of the development of their relationship to really feel invested in it.
(reviewed 35 days after purchase)
on May 30, 2013 :
I would like to thank the Author for gifting me this book for a honest review!!!
This book was very interesting, it was different. Leila is Courier and shes very good at it. Probably the best. Shes known for her work and never getting caught. Shes a very a independent woman, she knows how to defend herself and knows how to get out of alot of bad situations. But then her best friend Kay gets captured on one of her runs and to free her she agrees to marry King Nalick. Leila has heard bad things about all the kings and is upset about what
she must do. Leilas also not looking to fall in love again. After spending more time with King Nalick, she starts to have feelings for him and actually wants to marry him. King Nalick has always loved Leila and had been searching for her for a very long time. Alot of the other ruling Kings and nobles dislike that Leila and the King are to get married and there are several times she gets captured or almosts gets captured. Leila could never get a break it was like almost everytime she steps outside she gets taken captive.
When I started reading this book, I just couldnt get into it. It took me longer to read this book. I had to stop several times and take a break from reading. I did enjoy this book. I loved how she was able to move on and fall
for King Nalick. Toward the end of the book, when you finally find out what King Nalick was hiding I was shocked, upset. To me the ending was sad. I would of wanted to see more of their life after they finally get married.
(reviewed 17 days after purchase)
on May 30, 2013 :
I was given a free ebook copy by the author in exchange for a review. The read 4 review was offered through my Goodreads group Never Too Old For Y. A. Books. To sum up the story line, Leila is a courier; a one woman kick-butt fighting chick who steals things for a living. She encounters Nalick a King who, like every other king wants to marry her. Why not? She is gorgeous, witty, smart sexy and can take care of herself. He convinces Leila to marry him by kidnapping her best friend Kay and offering Kay's freedom in exchange for Leila's.
Let me start out by saying that I absolutely loved the story. It was fast paced, packed with action and full of suspense. The world building was well done and I could envision everything that was described. There were no flaws in the story that I noticed and everything fell into place and made sense. The main character Leila is a treasure. She is beautiful, sexy, smart, and cunning, and can fight her way out of any mess. She is often called the "ghost courier" for her tendency to escape any prison. The secret to her success is revealed in the story but I won't give it away here. She is a truly likable character even if she is a little over the top. I mean she is perfect but in a good way. Kind of like superman is too perfect but totally makes sense in the story.
Nalick the king is the love interest in the story. I was not fussy on the way that Leila falls for him so quickly given the way she was forced to stay, but put that aside and the interaction between the characters is very real and believable. He is a likeable person despite his flaws and referenced ruthlessness. His feelings for Leila are very believable and I love the two together.
Having said all that there were some flaws in the book, mainly the missing words, grammar errors and run on paragraphs that left me a little confused as I had to read them over a few times to understand what was going on. It didn't detract from the story but a good editor would be worth looking into to make it flawless and more seamless to the reader.
Some of the minor characters were well thought out and characterized and I loved Anatolio and Roger. Some of the other characters however could have been downplayed a little as it distracted me from the main plot. There were too many characters to keep track of and the description of everything that went on made it harder to keep up with the main story line.
Overall, I loved the story. I was swept away by the suspense and kept on the edge of my seat. The ending promised to be sad, however I found it was fitting to the story line and made me a little emotional at the end.
I think the author did a wonderful job with the story and look forward to reading another of her well thought out books. I give it 4 stars.
(reviewed 18 days after purchase)
on May 29, 2013 :
This review is also available on my blog confessions of a broke bibliophile
for the most part this did not read like the first book of a self published author. From the beginning we are thrown into the action as Kay is trying to escape from the guards, this immediately caught my attention and i connected with her almost straight away, however this was not her story. it was Leila's cue her arriving in the next scene in a comparably dull entrance and unfortunately in my opinion this did not change all that much through out the book. Leila was the quintessential "perfect" character that i must say i kind of hate, although this somehow was contradicted many times as well. she was the "best" courier seen as the "ghost courier" (that even while Kay was running for her life in the first scene, she still found the time to look up to) and yet she has apparently been caught so many times (view spoiler), and apparently has 0 awareness i was expecting some sought of reaction when the king moved her when she was sleeping but nup nada nothing. however when she is caught she always manages to escape... usually with her feminine wiles, because despite being able to blend in she apparently seems to be the most beautiful girl any of these men have ever seen, and i am still wondering what is so special about her? then we come to King Nalick... who while i think he is charming and all the rest i don't see what Leila thought was different about him compared to all the other kings vying for her hand in marriage, this i think is where this novel fell down for me one of the big requirements Leila said about marrying him is there would have to be love... and i was waiting for them to actually fall in love i wanted some courtship, instead the next day she tattoos herself (which basically seems to be the human version of branding in this book) into his family. it is because of me not believing in this relationship that the ending which while admittedly was bittersweet i did not find to be the sad ending i was warned about.
this all in all was just not what i was expecting i was expecting a kick ass heroine with great fight scenes ala Yelena in poison study... which may have been the problem ... i was comparing it to one of my favorite books. i found the fight scenes lacking and clinical simply telling us what she did without any sought of description into how and they became almost non events.
finally i would like to say something about the writing style which while original i am starting to see more of at the moment. the writing style was a weird mix of 3rd person and 1st person with it being written in the 3rd person as if you were a mind reader this is not a writing style that i personally choose to read as i feel it lends itself to a story being told and not experienced, however i can understand why she did this as the story has so much to do with what characters are thinking.
while this book was not quite what i was expecting and not exactly my cup of tea i see potential in McMichael and i imagine this book will be enjoyed by many people.
(reviewed 20 days after purchase)
on May 29, 2013 :
To Stand Beside Her is quite unique, I don’t think I’ve ever read a novel that’s close to similar. Leila’s personality is not uncommon in today’s novels but what she goes through during her life is. I truly enjoyed the spunkiness that Leila displayed at every turn, and nothing could keep her down for long. Nalick starts out as the villain, and I wasn’t sure that I would like him, especially since he was trying to force Leila to stay with him. However, it soon became obvious that all he wanted was a chance for her to know him. The relationship between Nalick and Leila grew at the perfect pace, it didn’t feel contrived at all. It took a few steps forward, and a few steps backward and then settled down into contentment.
That was the part I most enjoyed about the book, when they finally both admitted they loved each other and accepted it. I think my favorite scene with them was after she broke her leg. Roger was on his way to visit and check on Leila, and she was doing a terrible job of keeping still, but somehow Nalick was keeping her contained and mostly happy. I also have to mention Philip, Tim, and Ruth. These children stole my heart from the moment they appeared, until the very end. Leila had a very caring heart and it made it easy for me to identify with her, because I would have wanted to take these kids as my own too. Anatolio simply captivated me with his shadowing of Leila. He truly cared about her, and I loved being able to see her through his eyes.
The only thing that prevents me from giving this book 5 stars, is the ending. I don’t mind that Nalick and Leila didn’t end up living happily ever after. They had a beautiful 10 years and a happy family. I even loved Anatolio as much as I loved Nalick, and I’m so happy that Leila would never be left alone. What I missed and wanted was more of Anatolio. I want to see Leila and Anatolio grow together, especially because his concern that she couldn’t grow to love him was big in the latter half of the novel. I just wanted to see a little more of Anatolio and Leila. Plus, I would really like to get to know the other kids as well as Philip, Tim and Ruth! If a sequel were to come out showing their growth together I would absolutely revise my review to being a full 5 stars.
(reviewed 18 days after purchase)
on May 29, 2013 :
First off, Smashwords won't allow 1/2 stars I upped this to a 4. Personally, I feel it was a 3.5. That isn't horrible by any means, I just didn't feel it was a full 4 star read.
I went into this book looking for something a bit different than the usual read. The author had stated that ending was not typical so I was itching for the difference. Unfortunately, getting to that point was a bit bumpy.
The author provided me a copy in exchange for an honest review. It started off interesting enough, but I just couldn’t get fully into the story. The main character Leila, is a very well-known mischief maker aka “expert courier”. As stated in the book she was “a ghost to many and a legend to everyone else. “ To me she comes across as many things but I wouldn’t label her a ghost. There were parts in the book that just seemed to contradict her awareness. One example is when the king picked her up, out of her bed and took her to the boat where she continued to sleep. Honestly, I would have seen her do some serious ninja moves and give the king a few bruises before someone calmed her down. Now that would have been believable.
The story itself is laid out nicely. Plenty of description, but not in an overbearing way. Sometimes too much going on in the story, trying to figure out who was who but all in all everyone had their place. Described with beauty, she can easily fool someone who is not knowledgeable of her toughness.
As the story evolves, so does the relationship between Leila and Nalick. The story starts off as one of adventure but the true story is the bond that binds the two and just how much he loves her. Along with the evolution of the characters, I found myself changing my perspective of the story. There was a tenderness that I didn’t expect to feel. And yes, I went from cynical reader to one who rooted for the relationship and hoping that the ending wasn’t what was prophesied by the seer.
I recommend this to anyone who likes a good love story with a touch of toughness that round out the characters. I recommend this to anyone who has felt a loss but has come out stronger. This is a book that will tear at your heartstrings but in a way that doesn’t leave you devastated.
(reviewed 20 days after purchase)
on May 28, 2013 :
I just have to say before I begin my review that I cried. Yes, I did. I cried at the end of this book. It was bittersweet and I cried because I was sad and happy at the same time.
This book follows Leila and her strong independent ways. She's a courier, the best the country has. She takes assignments and delivers things (or takes things) making sure no one knows she was there. It's part of her adventurous spirit, the one that doesn't want to settle down, and never be still.
But when her friend, Kay, is captured, she strikes a bargain with king Nalick. A bargain that she has to come to terms with it. Having had her heart broken by love, the story unravels just as the walls she's built up around her, preventing herself from becoming hurt again. But Nalick is persistent and truly loves her. It warmed my heart to see that he wasn't just trying to get into her pants, but honestly wanted her to be happy. So happy that he was willing to forfeit everything for her.
And the twist that is Anatolio can't be forgotten. How could it be, he's such a big part of it all. The friendship that develops between Leila and him is sweet and warms my heart.
The ending of this book is like I said: bittersweet. I love that the author did that. It definitely made me cry, my heart is still heavy the next day, but I love it. I was prepared for the ending, but I didn't want to read about it, if that makes sense.
Reader: if you want to read a book that is adventurous and sweet, this is it.
(reviewed 6 days after purchase)
on May 19, 2013 :
I was provided with an ARC for an honest review so here it is.
When I first signed up to provide the review I wasnt all that sure that I had made a good decision but wanted to give it a go, more for the fact I was told it wasn't your perfect happy ever after. It just didn't sound like it would be my kind of book. (even though I read pretty much anything) So ending first - my first reaction when I finished the book was to jump in the shower and bawl my eyes out then immediately pick the book back up and reread it to enjoy it all over again! It is not a horrible ending, it is as I heard described - bittersweet. Please do not be turned off by the thought of a bad ending.
It was fast paced, and with the perfect amount of action in it. I absolutely loved the book, the story and the characters just drew me in. Leila is fiesty and tough and I loved her to pieces. Nalick the apparently awful king who has a sweet side but is keeping a secret from leila.
The author kept me guessing and wondering the whole way through and I struggled to guess what this secret was. I love it whan an author is gifted enough to keep me guessing. She created this whole world for me and I was right there the whole way through.
I absolutely loved this book and would recommend it to readers of any age. I look forward to reading more from this author as she has a true gift with the written word and plenty of imagination. Thank you to the author for the opportunity to read this book, it is one I will definately reread - hence the 5 stars!!!
(reviewed 2 days after purchase)
on May 13, 2013 :
Amazing read. I love the characters. I can't wait to read the author other writings. Overall a great read and I recommend this book to all. Leila is a ghost courier. She helps ghost find peace and closure to the ghost. (I having very bad muscle spasm in my hands writing this review if i spell something wrong sorry.) I like how she helps them even if they annoy her sometimes.
(reviewed 3 days after purchase)
on May 12, 2013 :
SPOILERS! DON'T READ IF YOU WANT TO BE SURPRISED
I expected a much more upsetting ending after I was (rather forcefully) warned that this didn't have a happy ever after, but I'll get to that in a bit.
To Stand Beside Her is this in a nutshell: badass courier who can do basically everything willingly gets captured by a king to save her friend, then falls in love with said king.
I liked this story. Leila's skills were impressive and I think the best parts were the ones where we got to see her in action. There's not as much of that as I would have liked, but I can overlook that. She has expert training in battle both with weapons and without, with escaping, with camouflage, etc. She finds that everywhere she goes people align themselves to her because she's so honest and beautiful. And I stress that because it's very fair to say that people like to help pretty people. Especially if it's a pretty girl with a knockout bod (this was described to us every time a different guy kidnapped her) that's asking for the help.
The relationship between Leila and Nalick just didn't work for me at first. It was too quick of a turn around. She absolutely despises this guy, has heard numerous stories of his ruthlessness, and forces her to his kingdom (which basically every king has tried to kidnap her) by taking her friend. And within a very short span of time she's dropped all reservations. It was too sudden, as if she totally forgot the fact that he placed one of her loved ones in peril. While I can argue that all he did was throw her in jail, again, Leila supposedly heard all kinds of rumors about his ruthlessness, and yet this doesn't worry her one bit. I know she's confident about her escaping ability but her entire mood changed when it was Philip who was taken, not Kay.
That aside, though, I really like the relationship between the two of them after that beginning point. It wasn't so gushy and annoying as many romance books, and I was appreciative that it managed to be romantic without shoving the gooey down my throat.
As a general rule I tend to like minor characters in novels more than the main characters, and that was the case here again. I always enjoyed anytime the children, Roger, Theo or Anatolio were in the scene. They were always supportive of Leila and Nalick and ready to help at a moment's notice. It was pleasant to learn more about these characters as the novel progressed.
Okay, now I'm going to talk about the ending...
SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER
I really don't get it. I was expressly warned that this did not have a happy ending, but that's exactly what it was. I mean yeah, Nalick dies after only 10 years of them being together, but really, come on. He's going to die saving his child. And he knows, thanks to the seer, that his family will be successful and well taken care of thanks to him and Leila and Anatolio and all the others. I don't see how this is a bad ending. Especially for Leila. She's had a million (exaggerating I know) marriage proposals and had countless men in love with her, so that's nothing new. But she gets to love three men in her life without having to deal with jealousy or bitterness. Come on now, I don't think that's bad at all! I mean sure two out of three died and that's why she moves on, but it's still pretty damn good luck to have so many men willing to love her and that she loves in return. And Anatalio gets to have his time with her, so he's happy. Nalick has babies with her, so he's happy. Erich I assume was happy because he was the one who was originally going to be with her forever til he died.
I just don't see how it's a bad ending. I kept waiting to see that Leila would die from the poison stones in her back or that Nalick would die because of some twist or something.
Okay now that that's out of the way... I really enjoyed this novel. The characters were fleshed out enough that I had no problem with development, and I was pleased with the scenes of Leila teaching others the skills she had. The villains were especially villainy, essentially dirty old pervy men.
With the exception of quite a few missing words and wrong words, it's well written. I would definitely read this author again.
(reviewed 3 days after purchase)
on May 6, 2013 :
I wish I could give this book a 5-star rating. I really do. It’s just that although this book had an amazingly strong start, at about 70% into the book I could barely make myself keep reading it. I felt like the author stretched this story so much that it became almost boring.
Don’t get me wrong- this book was absolutely amazing! The story was extremely unique, interesting and really gripping and the writing was really good! It just wasn’t as great as it could have been. I felt like the ending was really rushed at some parts and stretched too thin on others. I would have much rather it had a sequel that contained all the information that was thrown onto the reader in the last couple chapters.
Overall, this was definitely a good book that’s totally worth reading, even with the not-so-satisfying ending.
[Originally posted on YaelReads.com]
(reviewed 62 days after purchase)
on April 7, 2013 :
I really didn't like this book, at first it was good enough to keep me reading but the ending was to depressing and I am not a person who likes bad endings so I hate to say this book was not good.
(reviewed 31 days after purchase)
on March 28, 2013 :
See this and other reviews on my blog:http://booksinmynook.blogspot.com/
Leila is a courier, and a really good one. She is strong, resourceful, courageous and compassionate. She has a lot of friends, but also a lot of enemies in kingdoms across the land - whose leaders wish to possess her. Leila is able to get out of almost any situation...but it wasn't until she met King Nalick that she found a reason to stay.
I enjoyed reading this book, and really liked Leila, Nalick and Anatolio. The story was fast paced and full of adventure and twists. It was a unique YA/Fantasy story line and did not feel like something that I have read before.
I did wish that I could have gotten a more personal perspective into what the characters were thinking (I have a personal preference for stories written in 1st person and this book was not). I wanted to know more about Nalick and Anatolio. I wish there was more of a build up in the relationship between Leila and Anatolio, as he is such a large part of the story. The last 1/3 of the book seemed a little rushed and a lot of major events were glossed over with little or no detail. The end of the book, while not a typical ending, was not an issue for me. A little sad, a little awkward maybe. There is definitely room for the author to pick the story back up and continue in a second novel.
Overall, it was interesting and a good read. I would recommend to anyone who likes the YA/Fantasy genre.
*I received an ARC in exchange for a fair and honest review*
(reviewed 22 days after purchase)
on Feb. 9, 2013 :
This book was very interesting, I have not read anything quite like it which made it so much more exciting. It picks up pretty quickly and is easy and fun to read. The main character is funny and easy to relate to and the other characters are just as loveable. There is also a surprising twist at the end that caught me by surprise. I think this is a great book and would recommend it to others!
(reviewed 26 days after purchase)