Starley’s Rust by J.B. Dutton

Starley’s Rust

by J.B. Dutton

Genre: Paranormal Fantasy

ThreeStars

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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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-cover-250

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

Sacrifice

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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Exodus 2022 by Kenneth G. Bennett

Exodus 2022

by Kenneth G. Bennett

Genre: Science Fiction, Fantasy, Paranormal

Four Stars

Joe Stanton has big plans on his vacation to the little island town of Friday Harbor, Washington, and they don’t include hallucinating and getting kicked out of his hotel. Unfortunately, that is what happens and the strange symptoms start him on an unwilling and sometimes unwitting path to something amazing and unknown. What being wants to communicate to or through him and why? How does the dubiously ethical Sheldon Beck know about it and what does he plan to do about it? Will Joe even survive this strange communication when others before him didn’t?

The story style of Exodus 2022 jumps between the main character and the people…or things focused on Joe and his unique ability to connect with the mysterious unknown intelligence. Kenneth’s Writing has a cool, businesslike feel with an obvious knowledge and passion about the sea and its science in the writer. He obviously researched his subjects and took great care that they represented reality in an otherwise fantastic tale.

I have to disagree, though, with the nature of the relationship between Joe and Ella: even in a very liberal church, I don’t think an Episcopal priest could get away with taking a vacation with his girlfriend. I would have liked to experience more of the intense emotions of the characters, especially at the beginning, rather than just hear that they felt them. It gave a calculated tone to the story where it could have provided more heart-racing moments.

Exodus 2022 draws the reader in as the story unfolds the mystery Joe’s unique mind reveals. His danger and the ruthless nature of Beck, his team, and his family in their pursuit of the unknown creates an increasingly thrilling read.

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Djinn by Laura Catherine

Djinn cover copy

Djinn

by Laura Catherine

Genre: Fantasy, Paranormal, Urban Fantasy

ThreeStars

A teen shouldn’t have to live a life on the run, with constant moves and training in self-defense. Kyra and her father have always lived this way, and though she resents it, it is what she knows.

But everything she knows shatters when a boy named Will and his team of supernaturally-powered friends kidnaps her and takes her to the community of the Djinn. She learns her true past as a noble daughter of the Djinn, a magical people with fantastic powers, and she discovers the true identity of the man she thought of as her father. Can she rearrange her whole perspective of reality to fit in to the place they say she belongs? Can she adopt their strange culture and master the supernatural powers she possesses? Can she ignore her heart and reject the tempting Will because of their different classes in Djinn society?

Laura has worked long and hard on Djinn. One of my first “web friends” through our blogs, I have seen her grow and mature as an author. I know how much we writers need to learn so we can hone and craft great books. Laura is miles ahead of me as a young writer, and I am honored that she let me contribute to her efforts!

Laura’s new slant on the Genie is a lot of fun. Her world and her characters have a vivid life to them and the feelings she addresses bring them to life. The exploration of prejudice and classism she explores through the story and the protagonist perspective has a fresh perspective in the contemporary work.

The book still could use some work with active writing, verb variety, and variety in sentence structure. Some overcomplicated or overlong sentences remain, as well as a few confusing paragraphs. The way Laura wrote the book, the language might work much better as an audiobook or a movie. Some of the dialogue took a little analysis to follow the meaning.

Kyra’s tough girl character with a solid connection to her emotions was refreshing. She represented just the right mixture of soft and tough so that I didn’t want to smack her for being a wimp, but also didn’t consider her heartless. Laura thought a lot about how her characters would react to the strange surprises in their lives and that enhanced my experience as a reader.

I can’t wait to see what Laura will come up with next!

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

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Eternal Destiny by Tahlia Newland

Eternal Destiny

by Tahlia Newland

Genre: Paranormal, Metaphysical, Fantasy

Five stars

In the stunning conclusion to the Diamond Peak series, Ariel continues on to the end of her journey up the Mountain to reach Diamond Peak, defeat the final demon enemies, Cogin and Rasama, and free humanity from the Serpentine infection. Along her journey she struggles with the valid fear of losing those close to her who she has grown to love. Her romance with Nick has strengthened into true love, and now she must face the danger of losing him or him losing her on their mission.  Her confidence and Nick’s jealousy face their greatest challenges yet. Will she complete the dangerous task and fulfill the prophecy, or will she and her friends succumb to the murderous demons all around?

Eternal Destiny is now one of my favorite in the series along with the first book, Lethal Inheritance. Tahlia has achieved a brilliant balance of adventure, fantastic description, and heart-tugging feeling.

The deep connections between the members of the crusade to free the world drew me into their strong camaraderie and deep purpose. The universal story of suffering, sacrifice, and salvation light up this ending to a complicated, thrilling adventure.

Tahlia’s signature fantastic descriptions of inner battles made manifest in real life have reached their pinnacle along with Ariel. As with the other books in the series, Tahlia packed  Eternal destiny with magical, spiritual feats and battles. The mystical summit of Ariel’s journey and the epitome of her spiritual progression burst out onto the pages in a vivid illustration of the author’s ideals.

Everything I really want to say will reveal the ending to the story, but I will say that the ending contains surprises, but not so many that I felt cheated of the ending I wanted to see and plenty to prevent me from thinking it at all formulaic. Tahlia has pulled out all the stops for a true triumph of her own!

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