Starley’s Rust by J.B. Dutton

Starley’s Rust

by J.B. Dutton

Genre: Paranormal Fantasy


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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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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