Silent Symmetry by J.B. Dutton

Silent Symmetry cover lo-res

Silent Symmetry

by J.B. Dutton

Genre: Paranormal, Fantasy, Science Fiction, Romance

Five stars

A tragic car accident in their hometown in Wisconsin took away Kari’s father when she was very small. Kari arrives in New York ready for a new life. She is excited to support her mom in a new job and maybe a little romance.

A scholarship at the exclusive Chelsea Prep for Kari turns out to be one of the job perks of Mom’s new job as an IT at the Temple of Truth. The secretive organization intrigues Kari and she can’t help but snoop into its secrets. Even their apartment contains strange connections to the organization. The mysterious connection two cute boys in her class, Noon and Cruz, have to the ToT doesn’t make nosiness any less irresistible.

The deeper she delves into the ToT’s secrets, the stranger and more mysterious things get. When she discovers her part in the organization and its goals, life and existence turn out to be way more complicated than she ever imagined.

This book was my most interesting pick out of my long, long, read-and-review list. The title and the synopsis grabbed my attention from the start and I chose Silent Symmetry to read first for the summer. This book didn’t disappoint!

I felt engaged by Kari and her sad past, but also by her eager desire to care for her Mom and her positive attitude. The story began with many questions. When some of those questions were answered, I somehow found myself with more. I loved the natural way J.B. wove the tale, interlaced with questions resolving and mysteries uncovered. Even the ending left questions begging for a sequel.

Silent Symmetry was an entertaining and fast read that well deserved the first read of the Summer. I approve this title for Awesome Indies.

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

Silent Symmetry is available as an ebook here:
bit.ly/SilentSymmetry (Amazon.com)
bit.ly/SilentSymmetryUK (Amazon.co.uk)

Available in paperback here:
bit.ly/SilentSymmetryPB (Amazon.com)
bit.ly/SilentSymmetryPBUK (Amazon.co.uk)

Few Are Chosen by M.T. McGuire

Few Are Chosen

by M.T. McGuire

Genre: Fantasy, Humor

Five stars

The Pan of Hamgee ekes out his existence in a world parallel to our own. Working as a third-tier criminal is the only ambition he can attain, because his continued existence is illegal. Capture by the despotic Grongolian rulers means execution for The Pan. Does the dictator, Lord Vernon, have it in for him personally? The dotty and fanatical Resistance is probably an equally bad (or maybe even worse) option for The Pan.

When The Pan discovers a magic thimble, he hasn’t a clue that it will be the key to his world’s liberation. He didn’t want to be a hero, dangit! He was happy with his accidental promotion to getaway driver. It fit perfectly with his natural yellow streak and talent for saving his own skin. He didn’t want to save the world. But to his chagrin he finds that somewhere in deep inside, he has a conscience, and the blasted thing won’t let him ignore the cause of Underground or the mysterious girl he sees through the magic thimble.

I found myself smiling like a goof through most of the book. MT’s delightful humor and silly names were like a sprinkling of chocolate chips on top of a delicious cupcake. The book’s ending had me laughing and annoying my husband by reading him snippets.

MT weaves an endearing tale of cowardice paired with surprising bravery. The true growth and maturing of a dopey young man tugged my heartstrings and tickled my funny bone. Little about this story is typical. I loved the delightful dialects and fantastic, complex political and racial balance. The swearing in the book is priceless, not displaying a lack of imagination, but adding a creative exclamation fitting for the setting. Arnold’s Y Fronts!

I couldn’t wait to read the next page of this book, and am delighted to recommend it for Awesome Indies! This book is a gem and an absolute must-read.

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Stalking Shadows by Tahlia Newland

Stalking Shadows

Book 2 of the Diamond Peak Series

by Tahlia Newland

Genre: New Adult, Fantasy

Four Stars

In her second book of the Diamond Peak series, Newland draws us further into the world of Ariel, a regular girl with a fantastic past and a challenging future. Ariel, Nick, and Twitchet depart the haven of the Observatory to continue up the mountain in their mission to defeat Rasama. Deadly perils and romantic tension await Ariel and Nick on the trail. In a push for the next haven at Sheldra, Nick and Ariel must fight  monsters, demons, mages, and their feelings while Twitchet heckles them. Between the three and Sheldra stand many different supernatural terrains and the enemies who inhabit them, which are sometimes the same thing. Can they overcome the obstacles and enemies to arrive at Sheldra? Will Amic show up to oppose them? Will Ariel be able to defeat him if he does?

In Newland’s signature style, she turns internal struggles into fantastic battles of magic. Feelings have a color and a brightness, and evil has many faces and personalities. Even romance holds extra danger when a girl can zap the one she loves with the power of feelings. This can be particularly excruciating with a volatile teen! I admit I found Ariel’s fluctuating resolve almost as aggravating as Nick did, even though we both knew why she felt that way. Newland really nailed the love/hate relationship with Twitchet, who amused, comforted, aggravated, and mocked the couple mercilessly.

Newland wrestles with the problem of evil, transforming it into a supernatural battle against a tenacious beast. I could really feel her anguish at the infection in society, the hopelessness of so many in the face of the disease, and the deep need for a hero to step in and defeat it. Her enemies weren’t just beings, but sometimes sprits or animated objects, which gave an almost Shinto flavor to some of her terrain. They weren’t simple “bad guys” either but individuals with a perspective and tragic past.

Newland’s writing style just gets better and better. Her scenes take me out of my living room and into Diamond Peak. I know when I pick up one of Tahlia’s book I’m in for a great read!

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Spirit of Lost Angels by Liza Perrat

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Spirit of Lost Angels

by Liza Perrat

Genre: Historical Fiction, Literary Fiction

Born in the farmlands of pre-revolutionary France, Victoire lives the tough but simple life of a commoner under tyrannical rule by nobles, church, and nature. Once she grows up, she must choose between limited means of survival. These means carry her to Paris and then back to her hometown of Lucie-sur-Vionne again after she is victimized by a noble. Tragedy soon tears her away from her village again and transports her back to Paris and into the Salpatiere, a madhouse and jail, from which she shouldn’t escape alive. Fortune smiles on Victoire and she is provided with means of escape and a new life. Will Victoire live for revenge? Will she survive the extreme violence of the building French Revolution?

Liza has created a beautiful history lesson in a story; the best method, in my opinion. Through Victoire, the reader can see many walks of life lived by people of the period and many perspectives on the volatile political landscape.

Victoire is a dynamic character who brings us through her life with honesty and courage.  Her difficult life, helplessness to her fate, and position in life engage the reader’s sympathy and understanding. She brings humanity and reality to the well-known and often overlooked aspects of a country in crisis.

A warning to sensitive readers: this book depicts extreme social situations. Victoire experiences sexual encounters, both consensual and non-consensual, straight, gay, and even adulterous. She is tortured, shot, and participates in riots in which authorities and rioters are harmed and even killed. Many children die of many tragedies. This is the French Revolution, not a bedtime story.

For those who are brave enough to face the grim realities of a people on the verge of revolution or death, Spirit of Lost Angels is a wonderful journey through the extremes of life within the country in crisis.

Spirit of Lost Angels is available as a print and e-book:

Amazon.com

Amazon.co.uk

Smashwords

Love and Other Subjects by Kathleen Shoop

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Love and Other Subjects

by Kathleen Shoop

Genre: Contemporary, Women’s

Five stars

Carolyn Jenkins is a new teacher, brimming with optimism and ready to save the world. Well, she’s at least ready to save her class full of kids from a life doomed to illiteracy and menial jobs. Life, however, turns out to be more complicated and dismal than her idealistic vision. The reality of an inner-city school and a broken system threatens to ruin her dreams. Her personal life isn’t doing so hot either. After breaking up with her long-time boyfriend, Alex, her BFF roommates Laura and Nina aren’t necessarily supportive. When she meets a mysterious older man named Jeep, Carolyn gains the courage to move forward with her life-changing plan. Over the school year, Carolyn learns the dirty truth about the school where she works, Klein the sadistic principal who is also her boss, and about Jeep’s crazy family. Can Carolyn push past all this imperfection to grasp happiness or will she lose everything she hoped for?

Carolyn was a character of radical highs and lows. Her optimism and quirky courage warred with her negativity and over-analasys of the faults in her life, others, and herself. It was kind of annoying at first and showed her extreme immaturity. Kathleen uses all the awful setbacks in Carolyn’s life to expose her immaturity, aggravate her moodiness, but also to bring out her strength and mature her. I liked Carolyn more and more through the book as I left behind her spoiled whininess and sympathized with her.

The other characters served well to help Carolyn suffer more, but they were also her strength. I liked the juxtaposition of the different personalities of Nina and Laura, who Carolyn also worked with, and their different perspectives on life. Jeep, the love interest, was a great elusive temptation and ideal in Carolyn’s life. I don’t think I could have thought of a crazier name for him, and pairing him with a brother-in-law named Ford was just hilarious.

This book entertained me and drew me through the story without boredom. The pacing was great and I loved all the subtle details of conversation and background. Thanks for the great read, Kathleen!

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Attention: New review policy

Please notice the changes on my Review Policy page. As of today, I am fitting my review policy to match the standards for  Awesome Indies. Whether or not your books are independent books, this is how I’ll review them. If I have reviewed your book in the past and have given you a four- or five-star rating (which I choose on Amazon, Goodreads, or other sites with the star-rating option), but have not submitted you to Awesome Indies, this is a mistake. Please send me an email and I’ll send it in to them.

If your book is already on the Review List, I will give you wiggle-room with these rules. When I email you with your review, please let me know if there is anything you don’t want from the new policy.

If your book is an independent book on the list, please be sure to let me know that when I send you your review so that I can be sure to send it to Awesome Indies if it qualifies.

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Kate Policani

Treason by S.M. Boyce

Treason

Book Two of The Grimoire Trilogy

Genre: Fantasy, Epic

Kara the Vagabond is still trying to bring peace to the land of Ourea. The Yakona rulers, the Bloods are not making it easy, fighting at every turn and backstabbing for all they’re worth. Kara and Braeden both must face their identity, the parts they know and the parts they don’t. They must overcome their faults and the faults of others to grasp at peace. Even Kara’s mentor gets in on the bickering. Death threatens, beckons, and sometimes has a good point. Can they overcome the pettiness of the Bloods and understandable excuses to bail on the backstabbing jerks? Will they survive the murderous Carden and all the other nasties out to kill, torture, maim, and destroy? Will they be able to overcome their  own fears and admit that they love each other?

The second book in the Grimoire Trilogy is just as fascinating as the first. (I felt a little disappointed that there are only three. I loved the explorations of the hidden parts of the self, the ones we hide from ourselves and the ones we discover to our dismay. The theme of “the monster within” was given so many great twists and turns! I loved the guilt and the fears of the characters. Their motives were true-to-life and full of errors just like all of us poor dummies. The hunger for love, revenge, justice, truth, and salvation almost had a flavor.

As in the first, there were a few of the same hidden errors, but I didn’t stop long enough to note them because I wanted to hear what happened next.

Once again, S.M. brought a personal narrative into an epic tale again and again, making me care about, hate, love, and want to smack all manner of imaginary creatures as if I knew them. Her world is so well thought-out and rich that I could completely immerse myself in it.

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