Destiny: Absent Shadows Trilogy, Book 1 by S. M. Spencer

Destiny

Absent Shadows Trilogy, Book 1

by S. M. Spencer

Genre: Paranormal, Urban Fantasy, Vampires

Four Stars

Lili McIntyre just ended a difficult relationship and is now on a much-needed summer vacation to Melbourne, Australia for a few months. Her aunt Debs welcomes her Down Under and provides her with a chance to clear her head. On the plane, Lili meets Claire, and that new friendship introduces her to more than she dreamed of. Though Claire doesn’t know it, her new boyfriend, Tom, has an enormous secret. The oblivious Claire introduces Lili to Sam, Tom’s close friend. As a natural double-date, Sam and Lili find themselves thrown together and soon discover a growing attraction.

Soon, Lili discovers why Sam and Tom behave so strangely. They are vampires! Suddenly a world of the supernatural opens up to Lili and her heart will lead her to help Sam keep his secret identity and defend the city from conflicts begun in ages past.

Destiny is an enjoyable book with a fun take on the vampire genre, full of characters created with affection and care. Lili’s struggle to determine her future and the pressures from home struck a chord with me. She feels the urgency to decide her future and move forward, although the hugeness of the decision overwhelms her.

The American/Australian crossover made me wonder through the tale about the author’s origins, but I think I know. Some telling word choice clued me in. I loved hearing about life in Melbourne and all the interesting trips the characters took nearby. Though some of Melbourne’s history appears in the book, I would have like to learn more.

I appreciated the potential for the tale to discuss the subject of abuse. I think that young women, especially, need reinforcement that abuse is real, encouragement that they don’t have to endure it, and illustrations of what it really looks like. Plenty of speakers and nonfiction writers share about abuse, but tales of people enduring and overcoming it reach us in a different, sometimes more personal way.

Lili wonders through the tale why she isn’t scared that Sam is a vampire. I know why: it’s because none of the vampires in this book are the slightest bit scary. Romance and good looks trump blood-drinking. Any slip of the teeth is slight and polite to the extent that Claire never once discovers their identity. Even the scenes that should be thrilling and terrifying lose their teeth because of the detached and passive way the author describes them. My take is that the trouble lies in the author’s unwillingness to make the characters suffer. She loves them too much. Any problem is short and quickly resolved without the pain that blood-drinking romantic interests should pose.

Aside from the pressured calm of the tale, I enjoyed the book and look forward to the second book in the trilogy to find the answers to the problems that Lili hasn’t solved yet.

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Eternal Destiny by Tahlia Newland

Eternal Destiny

by Tahlia Newland

Genre: Paranormal, Metaphysical, Fantasy

Five stars

In the stunning conclusion to the Diamond Peak series, Ariel continues on to the end of her journey up the Mountain to reach Diamond Peak, defeat the final demon enemies, Cogin and Rasama, and free humanity from the Serpentine infection. Along her journey she struggles with the valid fear of losing those close to her who she has grown to love. Her romance with Nick has strengthened into true love, and now she must face the danger of losing him or him losing her on their mission.  Her confidence and Nick’s jealousy face their greatest challenges yet. Will she complete the dangerous task and fulfill the prophecy, or will she and her friends succumb to the murderous demons all around?

Eternal Destiny is now one of my favorite in the series along with the first book, Lethal Inheritance. Tahlia has achieved a brilliant balance of adventure, fantastic description, and heart-tugging feeling.

The deep connections between the members of the crusade to free the world drew me into their strong camaraderie and deep purpose. The universal story of suffering, sacrifice, and salvation light up this ending to a complicated, thrilling adventure.

Tahlia’s signature fantastic descriptions of inner battles made manifest in real life have reached their pinnacle along with Ariel. As with the other books in the series, Tahlia packed  Eternal destiny with magical, spiritual feats and battles. The mystical summit of Ariel’s journey and the epitome of her spiritual progression burst out onto the pages in a vivid illustration of the author’s ideals.

Everything I really want to say will reveal the ending to the story, but I will say that the ending contains surprises, but not so many that I felt cheated of the ending I wanted to see and plenty to prevent me from thinking it at all formulaic. Tahlia has pulled out all the stops for a true triumph of her own!

I approve this title for Awesome Indies. http://awesomeindies.net

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

Goodreads https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18591119-eternal-destiny

Buy at Amazon US http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00FL8LVG8

Buy at Amazon UK https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00FL8LVG8

Ariel’s Dream by Tahlia Newland

Ariel’s Dream

by Tahlia Newland

Genre: Short Story, Fantasy, Paranormal, Young Adult

Five stars

Fifteen-year-old Ariel has a nightmare that somehow keeps intruding on her waking life; a shadow being that won’t seem to disappear even after she wakes. A simple trip to the beach with friends becomes a mind-stretching experience, and the monster seems to strengthen with her fear. How can she defeat it?

Tahlia Newland’s short story delivers her fantastic supernatural realism, but with an added chill factor of a tighter blend with reality. Ariel’s scary dream pushed into real life is just the sort of thing that everyone fears a little. The story’s added message of facing up to life’s fears reinforces the themes of her Diamond Peak series and connects it to Don’t Shatter Me. Ariel’s Dream is a quick, fun read with a little added story to fill in the series. Is that Nick we saw there with the six pack abs and the golden glow?

Ariel’s Dream is free for Kindle!

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The Secret Eater by Ros Jackson

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The Secret Eater

 by Ros Jackson

Genre: Fantasy, Paranormal, Urban

Five stars

Kenssie is a demon who eats secrets. Her mission in life is to creep into humans’ minds and devour the energy from their secrets. Her other missions include: pleasing her Master, Rakmanon, stirring up humiliation for him to feed on, and figuring out what is happening to her power. She is growing weaker and she doesn’t know why. The Demon Council offers no help, instead poking fun at her and kicking her out of their chambers. Her Master can’t seem to help her either.

But a part-demon witch named Permilia may have the answer to her problem. Should she risk angering the Council by stealing a magical tome from them or should she just accept her waning power and all the danger that comes with it?

Ros makes it easy to suspend disbelief with her quick fanciful story. Normally I don’t want to root for the success and wellbeing of demons, but Kenssie was such a relatable character. The tale proceeded from just her perspective and I found it easy to sympathize. She must try to complete difficult and dangerous tasks under the authority of unreasonable and downright evil authorities. She has to figure out how to think for herself and do the best she can with very little support or information. I can relate to that. While I read Kenssie’s adventures and hoped for her success, I kept remembering, “Oh, yeah. She’s a demon who feeds off of humanity.” I reflected a lot on the ability to see from someone else’s perspective. It also gave me a little sense of pleasant danger through the tale.

I would have liked to know more about the mechanics of the world Ros created. Kenssie didn’t seem entirely evil and I wondered how that fit into the story. Most of the demons seemed less than fully evil and mostly concerned with themselves and their pet obsession. Part of the reason the story appealed to me is that I’m highly interested in intelligent perspectives on evil and good, the afterlife, and the supernatural. Ros’ world fascinated me but left me with a lot of questions.

The short and sweet tale seemed to set the stage for possible future volumes. I wanted to know about Kenssie’s relationship with Rakmanon, how that started, and what he really had in mind. He is a demon, but she is too. Does he care about her? What is the deal about her incomplete information about whether she is full demon or not?

Please write more, Ros! I really like Kenssie the secret-eating demon. (Did I really just write that?)

I approve this title for Awesome Indies. http://awesomeindies.net

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

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Silent Symmetry by J.B. Dutton

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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)

Don’t Judge a Book By Its Magic

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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

Buy on Createspace: https://www.createspace.com/3910971

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Flower Bowl Spell by Olivia Boler

Flower Bowl Spell

by Olivia Boler

Genre: Fantasy, Paranormal

Memphis Zhang sees fairies. Sure, she lives in San Francisco, but that’s pushing the West Coast Weird Factor a bit. She thought she’d left her Wiccan past behind her and settled into the ranks of “normal” life. A push in a Metro tunnel puts an end to that, though, and suddenly the world comes alive with all sorts of supernatural activity.

Memphis can’t help but reconnect with the religion she was raised to and the unusual powers she possesses. Unfortunately, someone else also has powers — someone with sinister motives. A reporter who writes stories about entertainment, Memphis has to find the who, what, when, where, and why for an event that promises to be anything but entertaining. She has to protect her friends and two little girls who are tossed into the middle of it all.

Olivia has crafted an interesting tale with a lot of depth. Though I don’t share Memphis’ religious perspective, I could appreciate her openness, tolerance, and struggle for the truth. I liked her courage and faithfulness to those near to her. I also enjoyed the mixed-heritage confusion she shouldered like a pro, and her confidence in what she loved and what she knew about herself.

The fantasy element of the story sparkled, with fairies, statues blowing raspberries, and a hula doll that can drive! Interesting and sometimes hilarious explanations illuminated these wonders in scientific terms. Memphis and her open disposition absorbed them all and wielded them in the battle against the evil lurking around her.

The elements of past and present, history and mythology, culture and beliefs, all layered nicely to the book’s conclusion. This one was a page-turner! Thanks, Olivia, for the great read!

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