Ariel’s Dream by Tahlia Newland

Ariel’s Dream

by Tahlia Newland

Genre: Short Story, Fantasy, Paranormal, Young Adult

Five stars

Fifteen-year-old Ariel has a nightmare that somehow keeps intruding on her waking life; a shadow being that won’t seem to disappear even after she wakes. A simple trip to the beach with friends becomes a mind-stretching experience, and the monster seems to strengthen with her fear. How can she defeat it?

Tahlia Newland’s short story delivers her fantastic supernatural realism, but with an added chill factor of a tighter blend with reality. Ariel’s scary dream pushed into real life is just the sort of thing that everyone fears a little. The story’s added message of facing up to life’s fears reinforces the themes of her Diamond Peak series and connects it to Don’t Shatter Me. Ariel’s Dream is a quick, fun read with a little added story to fill in the series. Is that Nick we saw there with the six pack abs and the golden glow?

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Incubus by Jennifer Quintenz

 

Incubus

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Genre: Fantasy, Paranormal, Young Adult

Braedyn, A succubus posing as a regular teen and working with the organization that fights the succubae for humankind, enters into a deeper threat in Incubus .   The arrival of Seth and his mother, a guard archivist, reveals that the gateway to the realm containing all the trapped Lilitu. An opportunity for the Lilitu to open the gate fast approaches.

Regular life has plenty of problems too. Braedyn loves Lucas and he loves her, but she might accidentally suck his life force out of him if they kiss. If she hurts anyone else, she may lose forever her chance to become human and have a regular life with Lucas. One of her best friends doesn’t know Braedyn’s scary secret and she’d like to keep it that way. Her high school nemesis, Amber, has amped up the evil and petty attacks on Braedyn, threatening to hurt her friends if she doesn’t leave the school.Who is the mysterious incubus planning to open the gate and can they stop him?  Can Braedyn overcome all this?

Jennifer has triumphed again in her second book of the series. Incubus was packed with action, intrigue, awesome characters, and a great surprise ending. I thoroughly enjoyed every page and felt a lot of frustration when my tablet battery ran out at midnight and I couldn’t finish the book until later the next day.

Braedyn is a character I can really connect with. She makes a lot of mistakes, acts impulsively, and feels like her impressions are the truth whether she has all the information or not. She really yearns for a human life and the reader will really want her to get it.

The supporting cast is no less intriguing. Lucas and his hunger to be treated like a man, but fears of being left alone, really make me want to pinch his cheeks. Seth was creepy, endearing, and a great motivator for the action with his drive to see his mother’s work through.

The ending gripped me and I had to exercise a lot of self-control to stop reading when my real life intruded. Jennifer wrote the stakes for Braedyn and the world in a very engaging manner with a lot of great twists and turns to keep me on my toes. I loved this book, as I did the first in the series, Thrall, and I would recommend both. Really, don’t skip the first, because they are both so good and two awesome reads are better than one!

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

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

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Demon’s Grip by Tahlia Newland

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Demon’s Grip

by Tahlia Newland

Genre: Paranormal, Contemporary, Fantasy, New Adult, Metaphysical

Four Stars

Ariel has reached the city of Sheldra safely after defeating a second demon master. She enters the safety of Sheldra to train for her greatest challenge yet. With many difficulties, she battles the demon Emot, the demon of desire. A new twist on her weakness harasses Ariel in the form of Nick and her imagination regarding him. Can she sort out her feelings before they become an addiction?

Deep in the caves inside the mountain, her mother Nadima struggles against her own weakness. Will her Warrior training be enough to free her and the other prisoners from slavery to demons?

Get ready for another vivid tale of inner adventure made manifest. Tahlia’s spectacular descriptions bring her characters’ thoughts out into their physical world once again. She has added significantly more description of character, location, and action without losing her active writing style.

Tahlia has given us some resolution to Nick and Ariel’s frustrating relationship ambiguity in this volume, though their resolution gives birth to its own new troubles and a shocking new problem. I like the way Tahlia has made the couple into both each other’s strength and weakness.

Sometimes their interpersonal melodrama irritated me, but I’m also cranky and old with no patience for tumultuous romance. I admit their frustrating childishness brought out the big sister/mom in me and I wanted to give them a time out until they stopped with the melodrama. I felt like it drew away somewhat from the force of the story and the continuity. Once I realized where all the yearning and frustration led, I did understand a bit more why Tahlia wrote that way. I felt a bit like I missed the steps in a formula on the  progression of addiction through the story, with actions occurring that should mean something but I didn’t know what.

I appreciated Tahlia’s focus on addiction. She seems to tackle all the tough issues. The agony of that affliction and the beauty of victory over it touch most lives whether people admit it or not. She captured beautifully the shame, illogic, emotion, and power of addiction. Though I would write the story of overcoming differently as a Christian, I applaud any victory an addict can find. Salvation from oblivion and destruction should be appreciated no matter what the philosophy behind it.

Demon’s grip is yet another action-packed part of a series full of imagination and fantastic adventure.

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

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

Although this can be read as a stand-alone novel, aspects of the story will be clearer if you have read the previous books in this series; Lethal Inheritance & Stalking Shadows.

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The Secret Eater by Ros Jackson

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The Secret Eater

 by Ros Jackson

Genre: Fantasy, Paranormal, Urban

Five stars

Kenssie is a demon who eats secrets. Her mission in life is to creep into humans’ minds and devour the energy from their secrets. Her other missions include: pleasing her Master, Rakmanon, stirring up humiliation for him to feed on, and figuring out what is happening to her power. She is growing weaker and she doesn’t know why. The Demon Council offers no help, instead poking fun at her and kicking her out of their chambers. Her Master can’t seem to help her either.

But a part-demon witch named Permilia may have the answer to her problem. Should she risk angering the Council by stealing a magical tome from them or should she just accept her waning power and all the danger that comes with it?

Ros makes it easy to suspend disbelief with her quick fanciful story. Normally I don’t want to root for the success and wellbeing of demons, but Kenssie was such a relatable character. The tale proceeded from just her perspective and I found it easy to sympathize. She must try to complete difficult and dangerous tasks under the authority of unreasonable and downright evil authorities. She has to figure out how to think for herself and do the best she can with very little support or information. I can relate to that. While I read Kenssie’s adventures and hoped for her success, I kept remembering, “Oh, yeah. She’s a demon who feeds off of humanity.” I reflected a lot on the ability to see from someone else’s perspective. It also gave me a little sense of pleasant danger through the tale.

I would have liked to know more about the mechanics of the world Ros created. Kenssie didn’t seem entirely evil and I wondered how that fit into the story. Most of the demons seemed less than fully evil and mostly concerned with themselves and their pet obsession. Part of the reason the story appealed to me is that I’m highly interested in intelligent perspectives on evil and good, the afterlife, and the supernatural. Ros’ world fascinated me but left me with a lot of questions.

The short and sweet tale seemed to set the stage for possible future volumes. I wanted to know about Kenssie’s relationship with Rakmanon, how that started, and what he really had in mind. He is a demon, but she is too. Does he care about her? What is the deal about her incomplete information about whether she is full demon or not?

Please write more, Ros! I really like Kenssie the secret-eating demon. (Did I really just write that?)

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

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

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War of Odds by Linell Jeppsen

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War of Odds

by Linell Jeppsen

Genre: Fantasy, Fairy Tale, Mythology

ThreeStars

Sara has just moved twice because of her father’s job, and ended up in a tiny mining town in Eastern Washington. Since the death of her mother, she and her father hit emotional hard times. Now it feels like things are finally looking up for them. Though she feels like she may have seen a few strange, unexplainable things, it doesn’t dampen her hope. Sara even makes two new friends at school in Nate and Chloe. They give her immediate acceptance, something she hasn’t met with lately.

When the strange things Chloe sees turn out to be real, Sara must call upon her new friends to help her. An earthquake signals the beginning of a war between the Human world and the Magic world. A Sprite, and a talking cat inform her that she is a healing witch. They introduce her to a wood nymph named Muriel who confirms.  Sickened and possessed, the Unseelie King, Timaron needs the healing gift of her human magic to bring him to his right mind and call off the war. The success or failure of her mission will determine the fates of both kingdoms and the Earth itself. Can they succeed?

Linell Jeppsen has crafted a lovely mix of imaginary and real in a sweet adventure tale. Adventure, high fantasy, romance, and a message of natural conservation carry the reader through a touching tale. Her characters are sweet and likable with some youthful doubt tossed in from time to time. Their guilt and desire to redeem their evils drives them toward a battle for peace and into your heart.

I felt that the voice of the story wavered a bit between a desire to be contemporary and an old fairy-tale voice. It would have been more consistent and smooth to stick to one or the other. At times, telling about a scene over showing through dialogue stole some of the drama. There were many times I would have liked to read more about what the character thought or felt about during the tale, but their emotions were left a mystery, taking away from the emotional impact of the scene.

Linell doled out some of the characters’ quirks and personal descriptions in a somewhat haphazard way. She treated the reader to big personality revelations in a sentence or two during a scene in which I felt they didn’t really fit. I would have liked to see her main characters struggle a little more with the upturn of their reality at the beginning of the story too. They seemed to reflect a little and then accept all manner of supernatural creatures.

Linell’s story withstood the few challenges and I really enjoyed her imaginative tale. Her characters’ relationships gripped the reader like real relationships, peppered with guilt, doubt, self-consciousness, yearning, and hope. I loved the variety and description of her characters and places, not too much and not too little. War of Odds is a lovely read!

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

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The Bone Road by Mary Holland

Bone Road

 

The Bone Road

By Mary Holland

Genre: Fantasy

Four Stars

Rhona the midwife and divvy has just lost her mother. A sudden stroke overtook her on the road and now she lies in the ground, becoming a part of the Bone Road. What survives is her mission. Rhona must carry out her mother’s last wish and travel to meet someone she doesn’t know to carry out a mysterious favor. Her journey begins the strange and wonderful journey of The Bone Road. Through the lives of her son and Selena, the woman she must aid, we learn the culture and fierce dignity of the Deo, from Wid and Zeosil, Shun, Landers, and Nobile. What will this final chore cost Rhona? How will young Jak choose to carry on his life after the choices she has made? Can Selena face the terrible Markus after what he has done to her son, and what will she do when her desperate plan results in a life she never knew she could have?

I enjoyed this story thoroughly. Mary spun a tale rich with culture, tradition, mystery, and adventure. The details sparkled and I felt like I joined them in the rich world of Deo. Part of my sadness at ending the story was about leaving Mary’s lovely world.

The people she created and their world fascinated me with their meaning and depth. Rhona, Jak, and Selena enchanted me with their fierce courage and honor. I cared about them like friends and felt great relief when they evaded danger. Markus the villain fulfilled the creepy, evil role with flair. I loved the emotional touch she achieved through the Deom traditions and taboos, and the ways the characters broke them for all the right reasons.

Though the mantle of main character transfers unexpectedly midway through the book, it really fits with the increasing strangeness of the tale. Events transpire that just one character couldn’t experience. The split perspective resolves at the end of the action when they unite against the villain.

Mary’s creativity shone in this tale through her rich characters, vivid and gorgeous settings, and wonderful, sometimes beautifully awful, surprises throughout the tale. I approve this story for Awesome Indies.  http://awesomeindies.net

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