Hiatus for education

My deepest apologies, but I am suspending my reviews for all books not submitted through Awesome Indies in order to embark into a new endeavor – technical writing. I will continue to work on my current list and I will announce future opening of my reviews on this blog.

Starley’s Rust by J.B. Dutton

Starley’s Rust

by J.B. Dutton

Genre: Paranormal Fantasy


Kari has just lost her mother to trans-dimensional beings called the Embodied, some of whom planned to use Mom to prove that humanity could be symmetrical and therefore worthy to be spared from annihilation. The human world still has no idea any of that exists, and while they consider Kari an orphan, she is convinced that her mother is not dead. But how can Kari get her mom back? Noon, an Embodied and a friend, is gone and Cruz, her human boyfriend, just wants to go back to regular life, wants her to “get past it”. But a poster for an art show leads Kari to a magnetic and fascinating artist named Starley who has a fantastic connection to the Embodied. Should she trust the quirky Englishman? Can Starley help Kari find her mother, or will he just use her for his own plans?

This second book of the trilogy is definitely a second book. Situations become weirder, but Kari doesn’t save the world yet. It has been a while since I read the first book, so I felt a little disoriented at first. JB summarizes the previous action well, but not so much that it interferes with the story.

I enjoyed the plucky, persevering nature of Kari. She is a character that shows a lot of loyalty and careful thought about those around her. She also stays true to herself. I felt like she became a little more crass in this second book, and I didn’t love it. The cute exclamations from book 1 turned into full-on swearing sometimes, and while it makes her seem more hardcore, it also makes her somewhat less likable for me. I also felt like her repeated requests to Starley to explain what he said made her seem less intelligent. I had to remind myself that she probably had trouble with his accent, which distracted me from what they said.

New creatures and more information about the Embodied added a lot of interest to this second book. I liked discovering the answers to the mysteries. Starley and his interesting back story gave the plot some sparkle. The sudden, spontaneous changes of scenery provide a jet-setting element to the story, complete with some famous landmarks. Cilic’s strange and ominous activities add some creepiness and foreboding to the plans of the unsuspecting heroes.

Unfortunately, some editing issues got in the way of the star rating for this book. I wanted to give it more, because the story was fun, whimsical, and owned the strangeness of the situations with a lot of flair. I look forward to reading the final book in the trilogy!


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Destiny: Absent Shadows Trilogy, Book 1 by S. M. Spencer


Absent Shadows Trilogy, Book 1

by S. M. Spencer

Genre: Paranormal, Urban Fantasy, Vampires

Four Stars

Lili McIntyre just ended a difficult relationship and is now on a much-needed summer vacation to Melbourne, Australia for a few months. Her aunt Debs welcomes her Down Under and provides her with a chance to clear her head. On the plane, Lili meets Claire, and that new friendship introduces her to more than she dreamed of. Though Claire doesn’t know it, her new boyfriend, Tom, has an enormous secret. The oblivious Claire introduces Lili to Sam, Tom’s close friend. As a natural double-date, Sam and Lili find themselves thrown together and soon discover a growing attraction.

Soon, Lili discovers why Sam and Tom behave so strangely. They are vampires! Suddenly a world of the supernatural opens up to Lili and her heart will lead her to help Sam keep his secret identity and defend the city from conflicts begun in ages past.

Destiny is an enjoyable book with a fun take on the vampire genre, full of characters created with affection and care. Lili’s struggle to determine her future and the pressures from home struck a chord with me. She feels the urgency to decide her future and move forward, although the hugeness of the decision overwhelms her.

The American/Australian crossover made me wonder through the tale about the author’s origins, but I think I know. Some telling word choice clued me in. I loved hearing about life in Melbourne and all the interesting trips the characters took nearby. Though some of Melbourne’s history appears in the book, I would have like to learn more.

I appreciated the potential for the tale to discuss the subject of abuse. I think that young women, especially, need reinforcement that abuse is real, encouragement that they don’t have to endure it, and illustrations of what it really looks like. Plenty of speakers and nonfiction writers share about abuse, but tales of people enduring and overcoming it reach us in a different, sometimes more personal way.

Lili wonders through the tale why she isn’t scared that Sam is a vampire. I know why: it’s because none of the vampires in this book are the slightest bit scary. Romance and good looks trump blood-drinking. Any slip of the teeth is slight and polite to the extent that Claire never once discovers their identity. Even the scenes that should be thrilling and terrifying lose their teeth because of the detached and passive way the author describes them. My take is that the trouble lies in the author’s unwillingness to make the characters suffer. She loves them too much. Any problem is short and quickly resolved without the pain that blood-drinking romantic interests should pose.

Aside from the pressured calm of the tale, I enjoyed the book and look forward to the second book in the trilogy to find the answers to the problems that Lili hasn’t solved yet.

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Deceiver: Mystical Mountain Magic Book 1 by Guy Brooke

Deceiver: Mystical Mountan Magic Book 1

by Guy Brooke

Genre: Fantasy, Children

Four Stars

The world has become a harsh and hopeless place, and the only hope for it lies in the mountain of Misty.

In the forests around Misty live two refugees and their baby girl who will play a key role in the mountain’s plans. Yes, the mountain has plans, along with his unusual friend. The natives who live at the base of the mountain and even the animals will all play a part in the plan, because a terrible creature has invaded their home. With its beautiful, haunting song it will lead them to destruction purely for its own enjoyment. This monster and its unknown plans threaten to destroy the only chance for hope in to return to the world.

Deceiver is a delightfully whimsical story, reminiscent of a Native American folk tale. The vibrant characters drew me in and pulled me through a story that kept me guessing what could possibly happen next. With so many reboots and formulaic novels out there, it is really refreshing to be able to enjoy a story that keeps me wondering.

I especially enjoyed the character of Misty. Seldom have I read about a living mountain and I loved to hear how Guy brought a geological formation to life. And he certainly did!

Aside from a little bit of repetitive sentence structure and poetry rhythm that worried me a little, this story had everything I could ask for. The story is written as the beginning of a series, not so much a stand-alone story. The ending made me impatient to see how the characters fare after their fantastic adventure, so I am excited to read and review the second book next.

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Diabolical Taste by Ros Jackson


Diabolical Taste

by Ros Jackson

Genre: Fantasy, Paranormal, Urban

Five stars

Another adventure with Kenssie the secret-eating demon takes us into the countryside where Rak and Kenssie have fled from the council. They struggle to feed themselves in the sparsely populated area, and soon Kenssie learns why. Rak has a big secret waiting there and a vital mission to execute. Throw in a human with a formula that allows him to see demons, and Kenssie gets into a big mess. Can she help Rak with his problem without alerting the Council? Will he ever see her love for him and reciprocate? Does he deserve it anyway?

Ros has taken us on another entertaining and interesting stage in the life of Kenssie the secret-eater. Though she is a demon, she isn’t a horrific movie demon. She has compassion and a desire to do good that war with her nature and the pressures of demon society. Also, she has a fun sense of fashion.

I loved the thoughtful and multilayered story that Ros has created, and I had the pleasure of a read without the need for intense scrutiny. Her characters all have depth and interest outside the story, each with the seeming potential for their own book. This adds a huge realism to this fantasy tale that emphasizes the moral and important ideas that the author works out through the story.

Kennsie grows in this installment, and (hopefully not a spoiler) she learns her own value and gains her independence. I loved her growth from dependence and codependence to a woman standing on her own two feet, even if she wishes they were hooves. Her secret-delving powers also seem to gain in strength and importance through the story and add surprise and depth to the plot. Humor is the icing on the cake of this story, and there is plenty with all the foibles of man and demon. This book is a must-read, and while I highly recommend reading the first book, I feel this story can stand alone .

I approve this title for Awesome Indies. http://awesomeindies.net

I received this book from the author for the purposes of an unbiased review.

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Sacrifice by Jennifer Quintenz


Daughters of Lilith: Book 3

By Jennifer Quintenz

Genre: Fantasy, Paranormal, Urban, Young Adult, New Adult

Five stars

Braedyn battles once again to stop the apocalypse and prevent the terrible demon Lilitu from breaking through the ancient barrier into our world. This book in the series follows the Guard’s preparations for Seth the Incubus’ next attempt to free Lilith from the underworld. Friendships are forged, tested, and destroyed while the teens must wrestle with decisions that may save the world…or not. Can Braedyn save Luke, Cassie, and Royal, her vulnerable human friends, from the demons’ attacks? Will she manage a friendship with Amber, who once tried to have her boyfriend killed? Can they discover the enemy’s plans in time to stop their next move?

This book definitely served as a transitional part of the series, though an important one, going deeper into the existing characters and their struggles. The mission didn’t change and the stakes didn’t improve. Braedyn didn’t save the world, but she hasn’t lost it yet either. The tension keeps building and it’s getting really heavy! I liked learning more about her relationship with Luke and the perils of their love. The sacrifices the two make mean so much more when we share their struggles with them. We hate the villain, Seth, more too.

Reviewing books can sometimes highlight the vast difference between a well-written book and the rest. Jennifer definitely writes a good book! Only now I have to wait for the next in the series…

I approve this title for Awesome Indies. http://awesomeindies.net

I received this book from the author for the purposes of an unbiased review.

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The Rag Literary Magazine June issue 6

The Rag Literary Magazine Issue 6

Seth Porter , Daniel Reilly , Justin Duerr (illustrator)

Genre: Anthology, Short Stories, Contemporary Fiction, Literary Fiction, Poetry, Magazine

Five stars

Personal failure, self-examination, and the tyranny of entropy fill the pages of the Rag Lit Mag in June. Staying true to the monthly anthology’s gritty theme, the tales range from base to darkly whimsical on a tour through the self. My favorites for this issue were Best Work and On Bread Alone with their forays into the whimsical and departure from grim reality into both symbolic and spiritual regions. One or two tales, I felt ended too soon.

Best Work shocked and charmed with the artist’s self-destructive (literally) artistic process and the near-prophetic nature of his meeting with the homeless girl and her voracious drawing.

Bread Alone spun a bittersweet tale of a man who lived multiple lives through different bodies, jumping haphazardly from one to the next, yet knowing every thought and experience of the new self. The narrator’s profound love and ensuing spiritual journey was both ridiculous and beautiful.

The featured artwork was fascinating, and made me want to zoom in and examine closely the active, colorful, joyful, images tinged with terror and darkness.

The poetry in this issue fit well with the theme, illuminating scenes in sharp detail and drawing me into their emotion.

I received this book from the author for the purposes of an unbiased review.

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