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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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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Lichgates by S.M. Boyce

Lichgates

Book One of the Grimoire Trilogy

by S.M. Boyce

Genre: Fantasy, Epic

Kara has wandered into another world and her life will never be the same. She wanted a hike in an area she had never seen before, and boy did she get her wish! Ourea is a world parallel to ours, hidden, and accessible by portals called Lichgates. What Kara finds on the other side of the Lichgate transforms her into The Vagabond and sets her on a course to unite the stubborn, divided Yakona races and bring peace to Ourea once again. Threatening everyone is the evil Carden and his terrifying Stelian race. Joined by a mysterious and alluring man named Braeden, she explores this new land and learns what it is to be The Vagabond.

S.M. Boyce has created a lush world of fascinating creatures and high drama. Politics, age-old vendettas, secret kingdoms, and mysterious creatures are just some of the fascinating world. This book, the beginning of the series, is really rather epic.

Kara struggles in a very real way with the guilt and grief of losing those close to her. Her grief and guilt shape her and inhibit her. I loved the scenes where she relived her painful memories, not because I’m a sadist or anything, but because they were so well-written and truthful.

I did see one or two errors in the editing, but it really didn’t detract from the story at all. I just wanted to hear what was going to happen next.

The world of Ourea is so full of variety and completeness that it’s kind of hard to believe that somebody created it and that it isn’t real. S.M’s characters are vivid and believable. No one is perfect. All have their flaws and hang-ups, including Kara. I just really loved this book and can’t wait to get to the next one!

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Lethal Inheritance by Tahlia Newland

Lethal Inheritance

(Book one of the Diamond Peak Series)

Author: Tahlia Newland

Publisher: Catapult Press

Genre: Young adult contemporary fantasy

Four Stars

One dark and terrible night, Ariel’s mother is dragged away from their home and abducted by horrible demons. Helpless and clueless as to what has just happened to her, Ariel hopes it’s all a bad dream. In the light of morning the truth is clear. Her mother, Nadima, is gone. An old woman named Maya appears and seems to know exactly what’s happening. Trusting in her council, Ariel leaves her home and embarks on a journey into a hidden land alongside our own.

Overwhelmed with unbelievable supernatural phenomena, Ariel must act on faith and find a mysterious guide who will lead her to the evil that has abducted her mother.  Joining her guide, Walnut, and his intriguing young assistant, Nick, she will endeavor to train to reach the Serpentine’s lair and defeat her mother’s captors. Will she rescue her mother? Can she overcome these terrible obstacles and survive?

 

Tahlia weaves another fantastic tale of supernatural  amazement and peril. This story was filled with symbolism and allegory. Dealing with the very real problem of evil,  this is no lighthearted, meaningless read. Throughout the story I felt the keen awareness and grief over evil. Ariel is trapped by the Serpentine weed that pervades and cripples society, only to re-grow after defeat. It both feeds itself with evil, suffering, and negativity, and re-creates more of its nourishment with feeding.

Unique to any other fantasy book I’ve read, Ariel’s weapons to defeat these horrors are focus, clarity, and spiritual power. Tahlia has created a unique and notable new approach to magical powers. It was very interesting comparing and contrasting my own world view with the one Tahlia presented. I noticed and appreciated the references to Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy! Love!

As with some of Tahlia’s other books, I found that I wished for more description or introduction in certain scenes or with certain characters. For example, I was unable to recall any physical description of the character Tynan. (I was surprised to see this unique name used here, as I also used it in Don’t Judge a Book By Its Magic. I didn’t copy, I promise!) However, the lack of description didn’t detract from the story in any way, and many of them were deferred to later on in the narrative.

Lethal Inheritance was a fantastic and fun read with lots of action and truly spectacular imagery. The emotional lives of the main characters were honest and tumultuous, drawing the reader into their points of view. Kudos, Tahlia, on another entertaining book release!

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Don’t Judge a Book By Its Magic

DJABBIM Cover New

Don’t Judge a Book By Its Magic

by Kate Policani

Genre: Romance, Fantasy, Paranormal

Synopsis:

Colleen is a normal girl. She loves shoes, chick flicks, and cute clothes. The only thing abnormal about her is that she’s just become a magician; not the disappearing bunny kind, but the power-shooting-out-of-your-hands kind of magician.

Her problem now is that she doesn’t believe in magic. Well, she believes in it. She’s seen it shoot out of her own hands, but she opposes it in a moral sense; no hexes, no spells, no incantations, no potions, no amulets, no tomes, no casting circles, no eye of newt, none of that. She has to be very clear because people pressure her about it. Whatever they say about “how it’s done,” this is a morality issue for her and she will not cave in to their pressure.

Join Colleen at Seattle Pacific Regional University, where she becomes a part of The Convergence. She’ll learn the freaky side of Work Study, Financial Aid, and Vyxhepiocht. Seriously, she’s never seen so many hot guys. It’s going to be wild!

Read The Bookworm’s review: http://www.thebookwormextraordinare.blogspot.com/2012/09/review-dont-judge-book-by-its-magic-by.html

Read Maine Muse’s review: http://mainemuse.wordpress.com/2012/10/23/dont-judge-a-book-by-its-magic/

Read AM Day’s review: http://www.abookloverslibrary.com/27/post/2012/10/dont-judge-a-book-by-its-magic-a-book-review.html

Read Quillwielder’s review: http://quillwielder.com/2012/10/27/book-review-dont-judge-a-book-by-its-magic/

Read Fox Cutter’s review: http://foxcutter.livejournal.com/172716.html

Read Tima Lacoba’s review: http://bloodgifted.blogspot.com/2012/10/a-fellow-writers-release-party-kate.html

Read Night Owl Reviews opinion: http://www.nightowlreviews.com/v5/Reviews/Arianne-reviews-Don-t-Judge-A-Book-By-Its-Magic-by-Kate-Policani

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The End of the World Sucks by Sharon Trembley

The End of the World Sucks

by Sharon Trembley

Genre: Fantasy

Vanna is a young, intelligent woman hard at work surviving the zombie apocalypse. By hard at work, I mean washing laundry. What? Stuck in the makeshift washroom at a local college/makeshift fortress, Vanna relies on the guys with guns to protect her from the walking dead. Unfortunately that means she has to wash their dirty clothes obey their lazy, critical mamma. The two families with the most votes in the group, the Cornfields and the Russos, are not in agreement about who should get what, when. Neither are concerned about fairness. Waiting for hunky Marines to helicopter in and save her isn’t getting Vanna very far. The peace is fraying and the greed is growing among the holdouts. When Thanos the vampire arrives, things just get more complicated.

I was fascinated by this book. I loved the main character and her critical but fair point of view and her deep desire for peace and understanding despite all the awful circumstances she encounters. I wanted to see her escape the bad guys and get to safety.

Thanos was both intriguing and repelling. I kind of wanted him to find what he wanted among the humans because he was such a great contrast. He looked like a teen and had the young guy perverted side, but he was an ancient vampire. He liked Vanna and respected the other humans and wanted to help them…or did he?

The Prologue with its foul old man language was a bit of a turnoff, but the rest of the book was filled with realistic, complicated problems and much less swearing.  Sharon thought about every challenge that would face a group of random strangers united in battle against walking death, and she didn’t always choose the most obvious solution. Greed, sadism, nepotism, theft, rape, murder, and blood drinking all have a place in the truly sucky end of the world. Sharon paints them well through Vanna’s honest perspective.

It sounds like this was just the first book of more of Vanna’s adventures. If it is, I’ll be sure to keep an eye out for the next one.

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