Nicole Hastings

Books

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Smashwords book reviews by Nicole Hastings

  • A Luminous Future on June 22, 2012

    I can’t remember a time in recent history where I’ve literally wanted to ((((hug)))) the characters in a book I’m reading, but that is what “A Luminous Future” did to me! (Weird, I know). I want to give Teodor’s mother and father hugs for being so brave and having so much courage and sticking by their convictions. I want to give schoolboy Teodor a hug for the times he was discriminated against simply because his father had been given a bad rap. I won’t recap the whole plot, but the storyline revolves around Teodor’s life growing up in a small town in Transylvania after the end of WW II but where communism is still alive and well and dictators still control the lives of people. It’s terrifying and enlightening to read how the government can exert so much control over its people’s lives, and the people have no choice but to do what they are told. I don’t love the politicians here in USA, but I’m not afraid that they are going to bang down my door in the middle of the night and take my father away. Or continually arrest him because he is a hard worker. I know the world has come a long way and we tend to forget our history, it seems, once it has passes. This book is great to remind us of the past and be aware of what is out there so that it doesn’t happen again.
  • A Life In A Moment on Oct. 23, 2012

    More like 4.5 stars... In the “fast food” culture of literature, “A Life In A Moment” is a fine meal that should be savored and appreciated. Although it is a short read, there is so much “story” packed in and it is filled with beautiful descriptions and memorable characters that really come to life in such a short time span. I was completely hooked in this story and thought the prose was elegant and clean. Very few (if any) editing mistakes, however, I was curious about the odd punctuation for the quote marks. Maybe that’s how it’s done in Greece? All in all a wonderful read that I’d highly recommend.
  • Sugar and Spice: A Karma Café Novella on Jan. 26, 2013

    Sexy, engaging and romantic, “Sugar and Spice: A Karma Café Novella is the first book I’ve read by Tawny Weber, but it was so enjoyable I might just have to get her whole collection if the rest are anything like this one! I found the characters to be likable and engaging, and I really liked this author’s writing style. It definitely left me wanting more and was the perfect length to read during the afternoon. Highly recommend!
  • Return of the Crown on Jan. 26, 2013

    I have mixed feelings about this novel. On one hand it is extremely well-written and flows nicely. I’ve read a lot of fantasy and there were some creative and highly original aspects the author explored that I’d never seen anywhere and I found that refreshing. However, much of it just felt so familiar it was almost predictable. While there were some new angles (seeing the threads was very cool), most of the time I just felt like I was reading a different version of a story I’ve already read somewhere before, and the archetypes and characters were pretty stock and standard. No real thinking outside the box here which is something that is required to earn the highest praise from me. But if a tried-and-true fantasy is what you like, then you will love this one. The prose is lovely and the shorter chapters give it a brisk pace. While it didn’t exactly blow my mind, it was a nice read that I’m sure others will enjoy.
  • The Daughter of the Sea and the Sky on July 29, 2014

    I was thrilled to hear that David Litwack had released another novel, and I wasted no time in reading it. I’d been in a book slump lately and this was just the antidote I needed! Creative, strong, and emotionally challenging, “The Daughter of Sea and Sky” delivers the best that books have to offer – a wonderful escape from the world around us, while gently encouraging us to consider our lives and how we impact and influence our world. There are many hidden meanings and metaphors in this novel that make you think about more than what is just going on in the story. I love when authors actually have something to say and don’t just tell a simple tale. Loved every page and I highly recommend for fans of genre fiction.
  • The Sense of Touch on July 29, 2014

    Fresh and evocative, “A Sense of Touch” is one of those books that once you start reading, you just don’t want to stop! Mr. Parsons is such a natural storyteller and writer, the way he can seamlessly transition POV’s and flawlessly transition between scenes and plots make you just want to get lost in the book forever! The writing is almost poetic at times (in fact, I thought the one story “Big Blue” was more like one long freestyle poem than a short story), and so easy to follow along. I hope he writes more books like this in the future, because I for one am a new fan!
  • Gol on Dec. 09, 2015

    wow, I’m actually surprised by how much I loved this book! Fantastic fantasy adventure suitable for adults and *really* mature teens. Although there are the familiar tropes present to make it a standard fantasy, it really struck me as so much more due to the depth of the characters and the fact that even for a fantasy the rules seemed to go out the window a few times and really threw me for a loop (no spoilers). The writing is very strong and the plot is compelling and intelligent enough to really jeep our interest – which is honestly saying a lot considering I got bored reading “Lord of the Rings” trilogy! (Shhh, don’t tell). This one just flows so much smoother and faster and keeps picking up steam as it goes along. Recommend for fans of the fantasy genre, as well as action or adventure. Ready to read more from J.W. Webb soon.
  • The Urban Boys: Discovery of the Five Senses on Feb. 02, 2016

    to say “The Urban Boys” is totally unlike anything I’ve ever read before would be an understatement! I’m not sure how to even describe this book as SO much happens, and it seems to touch on so many elements, themes, and subjects. Smooth pacing, plenty of action, and diverse characters, along with current-day issues (despite being on the paranormal side) makes this a definite winner in my eyes. I think that you need to take your time while reading it to really grasp everything the author is saying, as it will require some deeper thought and reasoning, and might even change your perspective on some things. The prose is lovely and much ‘classier’ than one normally sees in a YA novel, and at times it reads and feels more mature. But teens like to read “up” so they might appreciate this, as will older readers who want to read ‘younger’ but don’t want it dumbed down. Very interesting, and recommend to fans of literary/ paranormal/ adventure fiction.
  • Gallery Pieces: An Art Mystery on Feb. 02, 2016

    the whole time I was reading “Gallery Pieces” by Larry Witham, I felt like I could have been watching it as a movie on the big screen. This novel was just as good as—if not better—many of the big-budget movies we’ve seen in this genre. The writing was clear and descriptive, with an ever-present tension of high stakes in the glamourous and dangerous world of hi class art crimes. I liked that the characters seemed “real” (not the stereotypical cardboard cutouts we see so much of in these types of books),and the dialogue felt authentic enough for the most part. But I have to say there were times where I thought I needed to be taking notes because there was so much going on and in different places and with so many characters. It almost made me dizzy, but in a good way. I definitely enjoyed reading this and think almost anyone will find something about it they like. I’d recommend this to my friends and family with no reservations. The ending makes it seem like there might be more… I hope so!
  • The Shattered Crown on Feb. 19, 2016

    This is a brilliant piece of storytelling and any fantasy or action/adventure lover should go and read this. However I would like to raise a few points. My first point being about fantasy in general while my second point will be about cliché and storytelling. Fantasy as a genre in many ways was formed with The Lord of the Rings and its influence is felt in many great epics. The Legends Of Ansu is no different, and while the Tolkien influence is felt, it does not overpower the storyline, and I think these have more of a contemporary ‘edginess’ that LOTR lacks. There are several familiar arch types and tropes that border on cliché, but manage to just avoid it with compelling backstory and genuine character development. A lot of characters here to keep track of, but Webb does a decent job of fleshing them out so as not to be the stock cut-outs. Great descriptions pull us into the world, and high stakes action keeps us there. In a way the story wraps up, but the ending is basically right in the middle of a climactic scene, so be sure you have “The Lost Prince” ready to go!
  • Friend & Foe - Book 2 on April 30, 2016

    this is the second book I’ve read by Nik Olsen. I really enjoyed the first one, and I think I may have even liked this one better than the first— it was easy to read, not overly complicated, just a great story written with amazing subplots that tie together without dragging things out... It's one of the those books you pick up and just finish before you realized it's over, like eating comfort food, the simplicity, yet action packed pages and witty dialogue and unpredictable twists were great. I enjoyed the descriptive world building Olsen uses, and really felt transported to another time and place. This boo has a depth rarely seen in the genre, and it does have its darker side. We never feel ‘safe’ as we are reading as the threat of danger is always near, but that’s what kept me so hooked. When I was finished I closed my Kindle and smiled, for it was a good read.... I'll want read the other books from Nik Olsen for sure.
  • Friend & Foe on April 30, 2016

    a beautifully written and richly evocative examination of life, love, loss, and the ravages of war, and the different ways people react to unthinkable situations. This powerhouse of a story is equally packed with action and emotion, and is sure to please even the pickiest of literary readers. I felt a great connection with the characters, and thought the narrative was clean and crisp, descriptive, but not overdone. Great writing and a bold attempt at capturing many important elements made Friend and Foe a powerhouse hit for me. Hope this author continues writing these types of books because he certainly has a knack for it. Eager for the next one as the journey of Ben and Joe continues on!
  • Not Black and White: From The Very Windy City to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue on April 30, 2016

    great writing, great action, great characters, great plot…. Overall a terrific read that I feel really opened my eyes to the seedy underbelly of corruption on every level as it permeates our political system from different perspectives. I admit this isn’t really my normal genre of reading, but the sample pulled me in, but considering this is so closely based on Obama’s ascendency (and others as well) it was really worth reading more about and learning more about the way the system really works. This isn’t a nonfiction book, but there is enough truth in here to give you pause. I thought the writing was descriptive and the characters (especially Mars) really helped bring the story to life in a relatable way. I can totally see this book as being a movie. Recommend.
  • The Lost Prince on June 10, 2016

    While reading “The Lost Prince” – the fourth book I’ve now read from this author, it really hit me that J.W. Webb makes writing fantasy seem simply effortless. At first glance, Webb hardly bothers to do more than sketch his characters, yet they become huge so quickly. Usually characterization has to be done well to create a memorable character, but all Webb gives them is quirky and authentic personalities that shine through and make them real, not lost in the large ensemble cast of players. Webb also has an amazing talent for architecture and world-building. We visualize each scene and feel thrust into this world that is richly layered, increasingly complex, and brilliantly realized. Was a bit caught off guard by the abrupt ending (almost mid-scene) but the stage is now set for it all to come together in the next installment. Hope it is available soon. I have spent the last several months reading these books and will start to have withdrawals.
  • Portia's Revelation on July 11, 2016

    I loved this book… it did take me a bit to really get into it, as is the case with many fantasy or historical novels for me as it takes time for all the layers of the fantasy world to come into play and really get to know all the characters. Lesser authors will just dump everything on you at once, but better authors know to do it gradually and over time, like was done in “Portia’s Revelation” by Rich Tenaglia. There was a slow buildup as the storylines of the various characters stated to grow and come together. The writing is very descriptive, and I can picture everything perfectly. I liked the authors “voice” and writing style, it was almost literary with beautiful prose and narration. All the historical and philosophical/spiritual drama made this more than just a ‘fantasy’, and it was complex enough to make me want to keep reading night after night. Clean editing and a Great message throughout, and I’d be happy to read more from Tenaglia in the future!
  • Pegasus to Paradise on Aug. 29, 2016

    okay just a head’s up…when starting “Pegasus to Paradise” by Michael Tappenden make sure you don’t have anywhere you need to be or anything you need to do because you won’t want to stop reading until you’ve finished it all!! Trust me on this! (and it’s pretty long, ha!) The book starts off with an engaging beginning as we get to know Florrie and Ted, and just keeps going from there. The characters are so well-developed and fully fleshed out you feel like you know them personally. I think what I liked the most about this book was just the overall feel the author managed to create where it felt intimate, like a close friend was telling me this really awesome story that I didn’t want to stop listening to. There are some surprising twists and some parts that really catch you off guard – some shocking and some sad… but that just made this true book even more amazing and inspirational. And this is one of the first books I’ve read about WWII and I thought it was really amazing and feels like it opened my eyes to a lot that happened there and how it affected the people in ways I never thought of. Recommend.