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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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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Restoration by Elaine D. Walsh

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Restoration

by Elaine D. Walsh

Genre: Women, Contemporary Fiction, Drama

Convicted serial killer Randall Wright’s crimes included more than murder. He also destroyed a family. But death by lethal injection is the worst punishment the state of Florida can give him, so Tess Olsen, one of the “other victims” can exact no retribution. Randall Wright didn’t kill Tess in the traditional sense, but he did kill her dreams, wreck her ability to connect to others, and destroy her family.  Why did her mother, Alish, fall in love with a murderer when she had a stable, happy family? Why did she leave them all for this monster? And why did she not see the evil he wrought on her daughter? How could he deceive Alish so, and how could she be so blind?

Tess, now an adult, still struggles with the pain of her broken family and smothered artistic spark. She lives a hollow life of temporary flings with men and a career of restoring artwork instead of creating her own. Will Randal Wright’s execution set her free from the fear that still strangles her? Can she find a real relationship with the chivalrous art critic, Ben, who pursues her heart and not her body? Will she ever be restored?

Elaine writes a gripping story of the far-reaching destruction that an evil person can wreak whether they live in freedom or not. She also explores the terrible layers of wrong in divorce and the different ways it affects the survivors. Tess’ sensitive nature is prostrated by the betrayal of her mother, plunging her into an existence of helplessness and misery. No other family member is tortured so much as Tess, but Randall Wright didn’t return their kindness with horrors either.

Though dark and brooding, the tale also zings with the energy of Tess’ hope for release and thirst for justice. She hopes for Randall’s death and for her mother’s eyes to be opened. Ben gives her hope for a bright future of love, though she wrestles with her confidence that she deserves such a life. The characters around her also begin to open her up and relieve her of some of her icy suffering as they show her kindness and care about her.

Restoration is a deep and varied tale that highlights the best of people and the worst. I thoroughly enjoyed Tess’ journey through her psyche and her wrestle with herself.

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 Vol. 5

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The Rag, Vol 5

Genre: Literary Fiction, Magazine, Anthology, Poetry

Four Stars

The Rag promises gritty, cutting-edge writing, and it delivers. The stories and poetry in volume 5 pulled no punches. Many of the stories in this issue focus on crime and the people close to it, whether fighting it, contemplating it or committing it. My favorite, called The Girl With Pretention in Her Hair by Bill Lytton, gave us a peek inside the judgmental mind of a man on the subway contemplating the profound ugliness of those around him. We’ve all done it, and the honesty of the piece overcomes the treacherous quality of the act of presuming on the lives of people we have never met.

I confess that I really didn’t understand the poetry at all. A few truths seemed to surface for me, but I guess I’m not hip enough to really comprehend the whole.

Between the writing, the art pieces featured by Meredith Robinson really dazzled me. They are both predatory and awkward, the colors warming the blankness of the animal expressions.

I love, too, the juxtaposition of a digital magazine that brings the reader back in time to a past medium of anthologies, cutting edge and literary tradition. Take a look at The Rag, a unique and progressive approach to literature.

goodreads page: http://goo.gl/QCG2S
amazon page: http://goo.gl/bo92K