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

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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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Viking Myths by Thor Ewing

Viking Myths:

Stories of the Norse Gods and Goddesses

By Thor Ewing

Genre: Mythology, Religion,

Five stars

From the surreal tales of the beginnings of everything to the humorous antics of the gods, people, and creatures, anyone can enjoy Viking Myths: Stories of the Norse Gods and Goddesses. Whether you like heroism or bizarre pranks, this collection has something for everyone. Does Loki shave a goddess bald? Why yes. Does he fix it in a fantastic manner? Of course! Thor dresses in drag, Loki becomes the mother of a horse, and Odin trades his right eye for godly wisdom. Grab a really big glass of ale and enjoy Viking Myths. Thor Ewing presents a straightforward telling of the intricate and bizarre myths of the Norse gods. He uses plain language and tells the stories in an understandable progression, considering the wildness and interconnected nature of the stories. I enjoyed the inclusion of the plain translated names of people, creatures, and objects that shed more light on the deeper meanings of the names. The bizarre symbolism of so much of it makes me want to know more about the unique way of thinking of the culture. Thor’s retelling truly kept the magic of the tales alive while bringing clarity to their meanings. I received this book from the author for the purposes of an unbiased review.

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Bet on Black by Kenrya Rankin Naasel

Bet on Black:

African-American Women Celebrate

Fatherhood in the Age of Barak Obama

By Kenrya Rankin Naasel

Genre: Nonfiction, Autobiography, African-American, Anthology

Five stars

Bet on Black: African-American Women Celebrate Fatherhood in the Age of Barak Obama begins with an excerpt of Barack Obama’s Fathers’ Day speech and adds in a little quote before each story in the collection. The inspirational stories that follow come straight from the hearts and lives of black women who tell about the strong fathers in their lives. Some are grandfathers, some husbands, and they represent the strong black men who embodied fatherhood and commitment in spite of struggle and hardship.

President Barack Obama is often thrust into a purely political section of media and our minds. Our critical culture examines his success and failure and forgets his humanity and the enormous symbolism for many people looking to him not just for political leadership, but as an example of manhood and success. His example and wisdom as a father show a side of him often overlooked.

Bet on Black highlights these aspects of our president through the stories of other strong black men. It takes the high ground and gives rightful recognition to men who stayed true to their children through hardship, and in a society where they get none, where they earn scorn instead of praise, and where they live in company with many who didn’t choose to care about fatherhood.

I applaud, first, the gathering together of so many women to give credit where it is due and greatly needed. Also, I loved to hear the struggle and faithful fight these men fought to father their daughters and granddaughters.  It isn’t easy and thanks don’t always come. Mostly, I loved the positive reinforcement and vital role these fathers played in the lives of successful, strong black women. A woman can be strong on her own, but the support of a father makes it a partnership and a joy instead of a battle.

Any man who truly loves his daughter can find encouragement and vindication on these pages. Any daughter can learn about the blessings she has perhaps overlooked, and about the man she must demand as he father of her own children.

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

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