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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Waning Moon by PJ Sharon

Waning Moon

by PJ Sharon

Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction, Dystopian

Four Stars

Lily Charmichael lives outside the prosperous, advanced cities solar barriers that provide shielding from the deadly rays of the sun and radiation poisoning of future Earth. Instead she spends her life hiding in a cobbled-together survivalist compound her uncle Sam created to hide his orphan niece Lily and nephew Zeph from discovery. If the agents of the government find the siblings, the little freedom they have will disappear. Lily and Zeph’s altered DNA give them each amazing powers, Lily to heal and Zeph’s to kill.

A stranger named Will wanders into one of Uncle Sam’s bear traps one evening and Lily, against her better judgment, takes him in and helps him. Is he really a starving teen looking for his father, or does he have more sinister motives?

When uncle Sam’s cancer requires medication, Lily must brave discovery to travel with a caravan from the local village to the trading town of Albany. Will travels with her, planning to continue his search for his father once they arrive. Can Lily evade capture in the dangerous, government-controlled town? Can she trust Will? While she is gone, will Zeph give in to his deadly impulses and lose control?

PJ Sharon has written a truly entertaining tale. I could really feel for Lily with her amazing power coupled with the stigma of unnatural life. Her struggle to restrain and protect the brother she loved made me hurt for her. She is a brave character with a strong sense of stealth despite her typical teenage insecurities and special worries about herself. Her differences give her drive and purpose rather than crippling her.

The character of Will gives so much to Lily’s mission, taking it from a quick dash to a complicated and exciting adventure. Her forgiveness and understanding shine through in her treatment of him. I love that she as a character can accept his struggle and sympathize with him even when he breaks her trust.

I loved the mix of future and present in the makeshift tech, and the thought that obviously went into what a failing Earth ecosystem would look like and how people would cope.. The dying Earth issues the characters faced added a danger, complexity, and urgency to everything.

Other than some mild passive writing and a few too many uses of “as” and “ly” adverbs, this book rocked the indie platform. Though it is the beginning of a series, I didn’t feel cheated of a good ending or a loss of interest in the next tale of Lily’s struggle. 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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Heat Lightning by Ruth Coe Chambers

Heat Lightning

By Ruth Coe Chambers

Genre: Contemporary Fiction

3half

The town of Bay Harbor waits for the return of their fathers, sons, brothers, and fiancés from World War II. While they begin to enjoy the return of freedoms lost through rationing and the war effort, they gradually welcome the men and face the aftermath of battle with them. Some return unable to face the lives they once led, while others come home to build lives they never started.  Through tragedy and renewal readers can join in the dynamics of the people of the town and their relationships. Will the town ever be the same again?

I enjoyed this story and the multifaceted characters Ruth created. Her portrayal of the small town with all the uncomfortable transparency of living really drew me in. The characters’ dramas tantalized and made me want to hear more. Their motivations and transgressions pulled me through the tale wondering what would come of it and who would win out in the end.

The structure of the story and the tragedy of the ending confused me a little after the tense but quiet life of the town before everything came unraveled. The author took on a brave task with the myriad characters and their personal dramas, mostly succeeding at separating their individual threads of the tapestry. Throughout, I wondered if Anna Lee really was the main character. Sometimes it seemed as if the book had no main character, though the ending focused on Anna Lee and her impressions. I also felt a little bit of a rush toward the ending to cram in the remainder of Anna Lee’s life before her return to the town. Her experiences in Tallahassee and beyond could have made their own book, but I think a time jump would have made more sense.  Sporadic passive writing also added some discontinuity to the narrative.

Whether you love small-town life or hate it, Ruth’s tale of a changing society in the confines of a sleepy Florida town will pull you in and  make you feel part of their life and dramas.

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

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Thrall by Jennifer Quintenz

Thrall

by Jennifer Quintenz

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy

Braedyn is a high-school wallflower, facing the same insecurities and complexes that most of us do. Bullies, snobs, and jerks pull their typical pranks and harassments. With her best buddies, Royal and Cassie, she can face all the troubles of high school. But when a new boy named Luke moves in next door, her world is dumped upside-down. Humanity is fighting a war with mythical creatures. Secret armies defend humanity against them. Other worlds barely divided from ours threaten to release a horde of soul-sucking monsters. This was so not what she had planned for her junior year!

This book was everything I look for in an entertaining novel. Jennifer gave us a little romance, a little supernatural, a little danger, a little conflict, and a lot of fun. I loved the conflicts that she put Braedyn through. She was afraid of her peers and the agony they could inflict with so little effort. Her fear of being abandoned haunted her, and she came very close to realizing it. Her identity was challenged and her capability of good was called into question. I could relate to these fears and the way Jennifer wrote them was gripping. Will Braedyn be humiliated? Will she be rejected by everyone? What will she do if she is?

I also loved the moral struggle Braedyn faced during her adventures. She had to make big decisions about herself and others that could have drastic consequences. Very adult responsibilities were suddenly thrust upon her. She thought a lot about right and wrong and how her decisions changed and shaped her. She didn’t face easy decisions either. These were some tough calls.

I have no complaints whatsoever about anything. The editing was excellent, the plot flowed effortlessly, and even the unbelievable worked. This was a definite page-turner for me! Jennifer has written a truly engaging book.

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Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/14112002-thrall