Claire Middleton

Books

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Smashwords book reviews by Claire Middleton

  • Crucible of Dust (The Clockwork Ascendancy - A Steampunk Saga) on May 06, 2012

    When I first started this novella, I thought it would be a quick, light read. Boy was I wrong! I quickly realized this book was nothing to be taken lightly and settled in for the ride. And what a journey it was! What it lacks in word count it more than makes up for in a caliber of writing rarely found in Ebooks (at least what I’ve seen). Leone manages to weave more intricate storylines in half the time it takes other books. This story is dense with emotion, intrigue, imaginative world building and a gripping plot. An absolute steal at 99 cents, and you owe it to yourself to take a peek. You won’t regret it. Recommend for almost anyone, fans of fantasy, supernatural, steampunk, action…there are some scenes of violence towards the end that may not be suitable for younger children, but is probably okay for ages sixteen and up.
  • An Affair to Remember on May 26, 2012

    What an amazing story! I still have goosebumps! (actual, literal goosebumps!) I read “An Affair to Remember” in one sitting, and I loved how easy this was to read! I was never once bored (impossible with all the crazy drama happening every second!) and the author’s writing style was very engaging and compelling. There were no mistakes or editing errors that I saw, which is always nice. The only thing I thought was weird at first was that it seemed like Monica and Chase fell in love way too quick…but in retrospect it worked with the pace and tone of the story. I really liked this book and recommend it. I’d definitely look for other works from this author as I really like her style!
  • A Luminous Future on June 04, 2012

    I don’t know what I loved most about this book, as I was totally enraptured from the moment the secret police were banging on the door to take young Teodor’s father away, to the final, beautiful and emotional passage where everything comes full circle. What an AMAZING life Teodor Flonta has experienced! I am so happy I read this story, as it makes me appreciate my life and upbringing even that much more. Not that I feel sorry for Mr. Flonta…not in the least. Obviously his experiences shaped him into the man he is and led him exactly to where he is now. I have to say that I love his wife’s name (Ariella) and may use it one day :-) and I think, no, I KNOW his father is proud of him for telling his story in such a loving and brilliant way. Thank you for sharing this with me. I hope others read it and benefit as well.
  • A Song Apart on June 12, 2012

    Kevin Derow had dreams of being a musician, but after 9/11 decided on being a numbers cruncher instead. I have to say I disagreed with his logic on this, as I would think one would realize how short and precious life is, so one should live life to the fullest and follow your dreams, but his attitude was the opposite. But to each his own… Then one day he comes across the hottest new thing in music (I pictured her as being like a Taylor Swift), and a relationship develops between the two. I appreciated that the romance took its time in unfolding, and it wasn’t a case of “insta-love” that we see so often these days in teen books. Instead, it developed naturally…first as a friendship, and then something deeper. You can’t help but root for these two as they navigate their way through increasingly difficult conditions regarding both her fame, and his ordinary existence. Both have problems, the celebrity and the plebeian. But both manage to find a way to connect in a very endearing and charming way. I recommend this book to fans of contemporary fiction who enjoy a good story, great writing, and a sweet romance that is not over done and cliché.
  • When Earthlings Weep on June 24, 2012

    I loved this book!! From the very beginning I was totally hooked, when Mickey is talking with Jen (who reminded me of a VERY tall Yoda from how he spoke). Mickey is having nightmares and doesn’t really know what is real and what is a dream. He later finds out that the government was doing gene-splicing experiments with aliens. They’d implanted an ET brain chip in him during a sleep study, and now the government wants him, but so do the aliens. He can travel through time and is known as “The Destroyer of Worlds”. But it’s not his fault (really), and he has to stop his alter ego before it’s too late. I never knew what was going to happen from one page to the next, and it wasn’t predictable or stereotypical at all! Super interesting and I’m really glad I read it!
  • The Crow God's Girl on Aug. 07, 2012

    Wow. This book was incredible! I’m so impressed with this amazing story and how the author wove so many storylines together, and had such vivid descriptions and an original plot. I admit at first I was confused as to what was going on…I hadn’t read the first two books in the series, and although the author catches us up to speed right away, there were still some questions that I had. I didn’t feel confused, more like just wondering about the history of some of the characters, and if that would better explain their actions. There was a lot of world building that needed to happen for me to start understanding the whole thing. But the characters and storyline were incredible, and once I really got into it I couldn’t put it down! I love how Kate totally transformed throughout the course of the book, and it’s a refreshing change of pace to read of a strong heroine who doesn’t need her relationship with a guy to define her. Definitely recommend, even if the beginning seems a bit confusing just keep going because it gets really good!
  • Angels Gate on Sep. 08, 2012

    I had no idea what to expect when starting this book, only that the premise sounded fascinating (and a little like Point Break at first glance). Well, it was that and so much more…kinda like Point Break meets Blow meets Pulp Fiction. It was awesome! The character of August was my favorite – he is one cool cat. This book definitely held my attention from start to finish, and I loved all the details that were put in as the story unfolded – like talking about other events at the time and how they all entwined. Like the murder of Big Mac…I remember that case very well as it happened right by my old neighborhood. This was definitely one of the better written books I’ve read lately and recommend it without hesitation. Warning, there is mild language and some sex scenes but nothing too graphic
  • Quest for a Dream on Sep. 20, 2012

    This novel pulled me in from the opening pages with Ms. Carl’s warm and engaging narrative voice. I felt sucked in and swept away as I followed Dani on her spiritual journey through the extraordinary and the unknown. The writing was artistic, as was the storyline, and this is definitely one of the better written novels I have come across as of late. The author’s sassy personality shines through, especially in the secondary characters who added a real sense of balance to this book. If you are looking for a lot of action or romance then this probably isn’t the book for you, but if you want an engaging, unique novel that will make you think outside your normal reality for a bit then you have to pick this one up. It’s a winner!
  • A Life In A Moment on Oct. 30, 2012

    This was a lovely novella that I easily read in one sitting. Not because it was short…because it was so good! Mr. Livos is a very talented writer and the right from the opening sentences he creates a rich and vivid atmosphere that sweeps the reader along for the journey. I liked that it was more about life, love, and characters, not all action and sex and violence…the story really spoke for itself and I was captivated from start to finish.
  • Return of the Crown on Jan. 17, 2013

    This is the first book I’ve read from Millie Burns, but I really hope it won’t be the last! I loved how Ms. Burns writes in such a descriptive and literary way, but its not boring with too many unnecessary details… I felt like I was really inside the story as it unfolded every step of the way, not outside looking in. Even with the 3rd person POV (which isn’t really my fave) I felt connected to the characters and liked that the occasional POV change here and there let us see more perspectives. I thought the epilogue was interesting too and am wondering if this is leaving the door open for a part 2? Recommend for fans of literary fantasy and adventure.
  • Corkscrew Ridge on Feb. 27, 2013

    Paul is a teacher at the local tech college when he comes across a farm (the old Johnson place) that he decides to take over and try to save it. I could see this novel being really appealing to people who are really interested in farming and gardening activities, as they are discussed in great detail in this novel, almost at the expense of a plot. Things just sort of unfold along the way, and there really aren’t very many parts where we as a reader become very emotionally invested in the characters or the outcome of events. However, this isn’t entirely bad, as it made for light hearted reading that is perfect for a rainy day indoors. The author manages to write beautiful descriptions that transport the reader to another time and place and plops us right down in an unfamiliar world (at least for this city gal) and exposes us to a different life, yet with characters we can all identify with on some level. Recommend for fans of drama, light romance, and literary fiction.
  • Many Many Many Gods of Hinduism on Nov. 17, 2013

    I was surprised with how much I liked reading this book. I admit I’m not normally one for the religious-type books, and consider myself more spiritual than sticking to any one practicing religion. But I think that was almost what I liked the best about this book was explaining the roots of the spiritualty that Hindus believe and especially how they connect it with the body and mind. Even if you don’t agree with the philosophy for your own religious ideas, it is hard to deny that this is a well-written book that succinctly lays out the principles of Hinduism in a cohesive and entertaining manner. Recommended for teens on up.
  • The Angela Suite on March 30, 2014

    I read this book in one sitting. I was sucked into it right away because it felt real and gritty and authentic. The characters are memorable and unique, and there are a lot of details into the scenes that makes it seem like you are really there and in the characters’ heads. One thing I didn’t like was that there were several punctuation and grammar issues. But I didn’t want to put the story down until I finished because it was so good and really different from anything else I’d read lately. So if you enjoy an ‘adults only’ read about the darker, more twisted side of life, then this is a great book for you to try.
  • Defender of the Flame on June 13, 2014

    You know right from the opening pages that this isn’t some mindless rehash of the same ol’ same ol’. We jump right into the action (the author handles any “housekeeping” in the preface) and pulls you right in. I’m not one for rehashing the plots in reviews (that’s what the book description is for), but I can say that the blurb doesn’t do it justice! This is one of those books (or series) that you really have to read in order to appreciate the complexity and depth of the world this author created. For the most part it was quite fast-paced (although sometimes a bit TOO fast for my liking… huge chunks of time or important events were quickly glossed over) and the dialogue was believable (not contrived or stiff). There were some minor editing things, and it could have benefitted from the use of more contractions to smooth it out some, but nothing that deterred my enjoyment any. Overall it felt very polished and professional. There is great tension and conflict (both internal and external) which compels us the readers along and keeps us invested in the outcome. The ending is satisfactory and fulfilling, yet leaves the door open for future installments. I do not think fans of Sci-Fi adventure will be at all disappointed and I highly encourage you to give this one a try!!
  • Remembrance Part One: A Time For War on Feb. 20, 2015

    oh my gosh… that was amazing! I need some time to process all that. This book was loaded with tension and drama and action… honestly even by the 15% mark I felt like I’d already been through the emotional wringer! And we were just getting started! In addition to the powerful storyline, the way the author A.K. Stauber writes is simply mesmerizing. Literary prose that is unexpectedly beautiful, even in the bleakest of scenes. But it makes you just want to keep on reading. There were some formatting glitches and some editing things, nothing too major, but I noticed some grammar and punctuation things. But nothing that hindered my overall enjoyment. I recommend this for fans of historical fiction, or anyone who wants to read a riveting, moving and well written novel of love and survival.
  • The Dark Rider on March 07, 2015

    for me “The Dark Rider…” was just okay. I liked the premise and thought it had a lot of potential, but something just failed to grab me the way I thought it should. (Note, my daughter read it right after me an LOVED it…so there you go.) Something that struck me was the overall tone of the book…it felt and sounder more mature that a normal young adult novel. I thought there was too much “telling” of events instead of “showing”, and was always kept at arm’s length from the action…like it was happening around me but not to me, if you know what I mean. Maybe it was because of the multiple pov’s and third-person omniscient narration, but I never quite knew what character I was “tuning into”, and that is something that is important for me to do. There were some proofing errors that I noticed, and even though the plot was interesting, I thought the pacing as a bit too uneven for my tastes. So much of this is probably just my personal preferences, as it was a decent story and as I mentioned my teenaged daughter loved it. It just wasn’t my cuppa.
  • Field of Vision on April 02, 2015

    what makes this a truly satisfying novel is the number of different levels on which it operates. On the surface it's a fast-paced adventure/survival novel; at another level it explores human conflict and connection, and on another it is a lush, literary treat that stretches the rules of normal wordplay. Michael Jarvis is not afraid to take risks, and in my view it pays off in a gripping and thought-provoking narrative that makes us rethink things. Great lively dialogue and eccentric characters finish off this wonderful read. Looking forward to hearing more from this author in the future.
  • Planet Woman on June 12, 2015

    4.5 stars - Well this book took me a while to read, but in the end I’d definitely say it was worth it! It’s like all these amazing elements came together to create an incredible book that I can honestly say is one of the better ones I’ve read in a long time… and honestly I’m not even a huge Science Fiction fan! (but I love Romance).Anyways, the themes and events that happen are relatable to modern day, yet with a new spin. The author writes VERY well… very descriptive and strong and we feel like we are there almost like watching a movie or something. The editing is near flawless (I notice these things) and professionally presented. Overall an interesting, if not surreal novel that pushes the boundaries of typical sci-fi literature. Hope to read more from Judith Rook in the future, and I could see some of the secondary characters perhaps getting their own spin off novels. Seems there is more story to tell!
  • Connecting the Dots: Man, God, Angels, and Demons on Aug. 31, 2015

    I was honestly shocked at how much I enjoyed reading this book, “Connecting the Dots: Man, God, Angels, and Demons” by author Dave Shaw. I have read many, many, many books on Biblical Scripture and interpretations, and with varying degrees of satisfaction. Often I do feel that they can come across as too “preachy” (pardon the pun), or highbrow, or holier-than-thou. (Again, pardon..) However, I thought this book was a wonderful change and Mr. Shaw’s author ‘voice’ was more like how a friend or trusted confidante would talk to you… a much wiser, learned friend or confidant! I like that he actually asked… and addressed… several questions that I’ve had myself over the years, and while I may not totally agree with absolutely everything (naturally), so much made sense, and I believe helped me to better understand my role in His Kingdom and His plan. Like the author, I have ‘felt Job’d” (haha!) and reading books like this by others who feel the same is something that gives me peace and strength. Thank you for writing this and I look forward to reading more books from Dave Shaw in the future!
  • Tukie Tales Complete Series: A New Beginning for a Better Tomorrow on Sep. 18, 2015

    Book 1: One day, young Jake and Amy hear strange noises in the woods behind their house and they go to investigate. What they find is a magical and wonderful surprise in the form of talking animals and special creatures known as “Tukies”. They make new friends and learn a very valuable lesson about wandering off when they shouldn’t. Absolutely wonderful, lively illustrations and an engaging text with fun pictures, lovable creatures, and a strong message for children re-enforcing them to be careful and not to get lost. A charming tale sure to delight and entertain! Book 2: My daughter is positively in love with the Tukies and these stories! We read one a night, and although the 5 stories are part of a larger book, the length of each shorter story is just right, and they each have their own distinct “lesson” or theme. This one is called “I Can Do It” and it teaches the young Beaver, Cody, who is growing frustrated that he can’t build a solid dam. With the help of the Tukies and him not giving up and trying new ways, he is able to succeed. A great, happy message that is fun to read and teaches important life lessons. Wonderful! Book 3: We all really enjoy these Tukie Tales as they are very easy to read, engaging, and fast-paced to keep your child’s attention. They are positive, strong values wrapped up in creative and magical fun. This one, “Team Work is Best” really drives home the importance of working together for a common goal, as well and being aware of fire danger (important!) A win-win for child and parent, and stories that encourage children to actually think and learn something useful. Highly recommend – you won’t be disappointed! Book 4: "Tukie Tales- Helping is Fun” by Debbie Burns and Patty Cockrell is such a fun, sweet story with an important plot (gasp!) and is quite easy to read for older children, but the real younger ones might need some help. The wonderful illustrations really bring the scenes to life, and the messages in these adventurous stories will not be lost on the young ones, even if they just seem like cute, fun stories about magical forest creatures and talking animals. A wonderful book with delightful stories. Hope there will be many more books like this with the Tukies as I can see them being wildly popular. Book 5: My daughter has already read this book three times. It is definitely one of those books that is as entertaining for the adults as it is for the children. The illustrations add a great accent and life to the story, but while some children’s books absolutely must rely on the pictures to keep the child’s attention, “Tukie Tales: A New Beginning for a Better Tomorrow” does not. Each of the individual stories are captivating and heart-warming, each with their own special message for the readers. “Kindness Counts” shows how doing good things for people (or animals) can come back to you in a great way, even if you don’t expect it. Highly recommended for children ages 4-9, and all children at heart.
  • Intelligent Design II: Apocalypse on Oct. 26, 2015

    Intelligent Design II is the first book I’ve read from this author, but I think he’ll be one to watch. I liked that he wasn’t afraid to take chances and push limits. The writing is very good—intelligent, suspenseful, descriptive and disturbingly honest. It is pretty evenly-paced, but for me it got really crazy good during the last half or so when it all started to blow up…No lack of explosive drama here! Try and be bored reading this… just try. I dare ya! But seriously, this was one roller coaster ride that I was not expecting.. Mr. Erickson uses great word economy and doesn’t bore us with too many unnecessary details, but the descriptions are totally on point. This s an author who fortunately totally understands the concept of ‘show, don’t tell!’ Fast, focused, and to the point, “Intelligent Design II” is a keeper, and I’m definitely checking out his other works soon!
  • Howlers in Heat on Oct. 26, 2015

    What a delightful treat. “Howlers in Heat” by M. Alex Hennessy is a great read and the author does a good job of keeping the reader invested in the story and the characters. We are on the edge wondering about how things will develop and takes by surprise at some twists and turns. I enjoyed reading it and it kept me entertained all the way through. Hayley and Connor have great chemistry and passion, and I loved reading about their ‘romance”. But there’s more to this book than just the sex (shocking, I know) and if there are sequels in the future I will most definitely want to read them. I appreciated that this novel was not only written well, but edited well(I notice these things) sadly many e-books these days aren’t, but this one felt polished and professional. A big plus in my book. A great combination of sex, adventure, danger, humor, and romance. Descriptive and intense. Loved it! That ending is a killer though! Adults only.
  • Vinyl: Book One of the Vinyl Trilogy on Dec. 07, 2015

    a compelling read, and one that will definitely appeal to fans of dystopian/sci-fi/action novels. Author Sophia Elaine Hanson does an amazing job of bringing this incredible world to life where man must fight against mental and emotional enslavement. “Passion is perilous”. Very interesting concept, and the premise feels like nothing I’ve come across before. Although there are common elements, Ms. Hanson’s voice is unique, and her characters fresh and engaging. We really root (or cry) for them and get totally invested in the outcome. BTW the editing was GREAT! Nearly flawless, and that is rare. And appreciated! Great, authentic dialogue that flowed well and moved the plot forward nicely, sparing us of the dreaded “telling” that so many authors tend to do. We feel like we are a part of the book and I recommend for fans of Dystopian Sci-fi who’d like a new twist. This is the first in a trilogy though, so we are still in for more of a ride. Can’t wait!
  • Gol on Dec. 07, 2015

    there were so many things I loved about this book, I hardly know where to begin. First, I loved the cover. And those amazing illustrations are done by Tolkien’s illustrator? Wow, that is so incredible! Second, I love the way J.W. Webb writes characters and especially dialogue and action scenes. I really feel like I am inside the story, as a part of it, instead of being on the outside looking in and having a story “told” to me. Mr. Webb’s vivid descriptions and lyrical prose creates a beautiful portrait and a frightening, mystical world that one can get lost in for hours and hours. This books seriously has everything good—action, fantasy, romance, good and evil, magic, …I wish this series could be made into a movie, although it probably wouldn’t be as good as the book anyways. But I thought the plot was highly creative, even for a fantasy, and wasn’t just a re-telling of the same overused plot devices we always see. Although I had to a few times, I truly didn’t want to stop reading until I’d finished. And I had some tears at the end! Ready for the next ones by J.W. Webb.
  • Gallery Pieces: An Art Mystery on Feb. 08, 2016

    Loved this book! Totally different from what I normally read, but superb writing and an unpredictable plot that keeps you guessing totally won me over! When I started reading this book, “Gallery Pieces” by Larry Witham, I just didn't want to stop until I’d read the whole thing. There are so many great characters (good and bad) and the suspense throughout the book just keeps building and building and kept me wanting to read more……. Kept me totally hooked the whole way. Really liked the art element and the dialogue was authentic and the narrative tight. Peale makes for interesting MC, and I was surprised and happy with how it all wrapped up – lots of unexpected layers to be uncovered. Recommend the book to those that enjoy a good mystery that is intelligent and unpredictable. Great writing, and will be sure to look for more from Larry Witham in the future.
  • Friend & Foe on March 26, 2016

    "Friend & Foe” by Nik Olsen is hands down one of the most original and well-crafted novels I’ve read in a long time! I was completely drawn in from the opening pages, and absolutely loved the author’s use of description of the different scenery and locales, and attention to detail. We feel transported not only into the various characters’ heads, but the places they are, and it was an interesting escape from reality. This novel covers so, so much it’s impossible to sum up, but it felt like I was reading several slices of real life, and it was interesting to see how it all tied together. An epic literary feat, to be certain. I was really impressed and would recommend this book with the highest of praise.
  • Not Black and White: From The Very Windy City to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue on June 29, 2016

    first, I have to say that I don’t normally read these types of books but I was looking for something a little out of my comfort zone and this book sounded intriguing. I was definitely impressed with the opening sample so I dove on it. Well, I am most certainly glad I took the chance on G.A. Beller’s “Not Black and White: From the Very Windy City to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue”! This was a brilliant novel and very impressive for a debut. The title comes from the rise of a local politician (Malik Alawi… aka Obama) as he is part of the Chicago scene that is well-funded and goes to the highest levels of Washington. Crazy. The opening scene sets up the connection between a huge corruption scam and the others involved. This sets out a chain of events and nonstop action that keeps going all through to the end. All in all a very good read that I’d recommend even to those who don’t normally read this sort of thing…try it, you’ll be pleasantly surprised!
  • The GreenSeed Conspiracy on Aug. 15, 2016

    First, I have to say that I don’t normally read books like this, but I do like action movies and the concept of genetic engineering has always intrigued me, and the various ways it could potentially be used (or misused). But even though I was a bit unsure about reading this novel, color me impressed!! I wasn’t surprised to read that this book is receiving such glowing reviews and acclaim. There is such strong, vivid writing, and the characters are all fascinating, flawed, and going through their own problems. Stone is a total badass (can I say that?) and everything just felt “authentic” for lack of a better word. Dialogue, interactions, scenes, descriptions…some parts admittedly over my head in terms of the tech speak, but there is a handy glossary at the back of the book. There are some cringe-worth moments, so don’t be a prude or squeamish, but it is all part of the context and not gratuitous. Near flawless editing and perfect pacing. All in all a very good read that I’d recommend even to those who don’t normally read this sort of thing…try it, you’ll be pleasantly surprised!
  • Pegasus to Paradise on Aug. 23, 2016

    4.5 stars I will be the first to admit that “Pegasus to Paradise” wouldn’t be my normal type of read (I’m more of a fantasy and sci-fi gal) but I’ve been wanting to read more out of my comfort zone lately and expand my tastes… the premise and sample looked intriguing so I thought I’d give it a chance. I’d so glad I did! It was far more exciting and emotionally engaging than I would’ve guessed, and I found myself flipping the pages as fast as I could to see what would happen. I was totally wrapped up in the drama and felt sucked into the characters’ lives, (especially Florrie), but I liked how the chapters (sections) showed sp many different perspectives from different characters so we really get a well-rounded view of the whole story as it passes through time. I am not very familiar with WWII other than the main stuff, so it was interesting to have it written in a way that included that perspective and dealing the aftermath on a personal level in a way that is more character driven than a typical war-book, and I learned more about this period in history too! Ha. But honestly I enjoyed this a lot and was really happy with the ending – this book has it all – action, drama, history, conflict, romance… check it out!
  • A Book for Oreo on Oct. 31, 2016

    "A Book For Oreo” is a powerful, memorable book and easy to read. Great storyline with an underlying message of faith and spirituality that teaches God’s love for animals and our role as caretakers. I thought Caralee A. Jardine’s writing felt very real and candid and I loved the pictures!! It was funny and sweet, but this story also has deeply touching moments as well. Some younger readers might find the ending a bit tough to take, but it is a valuable and real lesson that we all go through in life. Minor proofing issues, but a good read, recommended for teens and older.
  • Harrow's Gate on Dec. 16, 2016

    wow, what a crazy ride! I’m not one for rehashing the plot (that’s what the summary is for on the book description page), but trust me when I say you’ve never read anything like this before! It’s quite wild and is not for those lacking in a sense of wit or adventure … trust me. But if you like nicely thought out, complex and deliciously fun adventure that is also fun to read, and breaks new ground from typical genre novels you’ll enjoy this one. It’s a pretty fast read, and while I do think it could have benefitted from some tightening and clearer focus,(it felt like it lost focus several times) it was still unpredictable enough to keep me engaged. Loved Leland and Ella and really every character that entered the scene brought their own brand of charm (good and bad) with them. I think Mr. BoarerPitchford had a great time coming up with some of these personalities!! Overall an interesting, if not surreal novel that pushes the boundaries of typical fantasy-adventure fiction. Read it in just a few nights, and I enjoyed the author’s unique and quirky writing style. Set the vibe well. Will certainly look for more from him.