Book Review: War of Wizards (Secrets of Shadow Hill) by S. P. Cervantes

I’m going to make a confession.  I have never read the Harry Potter series.  Yes, yes, I know.  I’m deprived.  But it is on my list.  As I continue in this genre of paranormal romance, it is clearer to me that I need to read some of the big books in the genre.  I broke down and read the “Twilight” series for example.  And now I can see all the references my vampire books make to it.  So now I have to read Harry Potter.

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I read the first two books in this series and loved them.  My review for “Always and Forever” is here and my review for “The Prophecy” is here.  It is strictly YA, no graphic sex, but in this one, Ava and Dalton are finally married and finally consummate their relationship.  The descriptions aren’t detailed and it is very tender and sweet.  Definitely YA appropriate.

Here is the synopsis for this final book:

Ava and Dalton want nothing more than to forget about the danger their love puts them in, and live peaceful lives in Shadow Hill; but that is not their destiny. Evil continues to haunt them, threatening to destroy everything. Volikai’s determination to summon the dark powers that the Originals have kept hidden for centuries before the Prophecy can be fulfilled.

When Patrick finds a new love, and learns of the reason for his powerful connection with Ava, he will stop at nothing to protect those he loves and destroy the evil that has plagued the world since the beginning of time.

Together, they will be faced with unimaginable choices to save the one’s they love as the final secrets of Shadow Hill are revealed.

As with the other books, this one is written from varying points of view.  I usually don’t have a problem with that, it is really creative and different.  But in this book it was a bit confusing when chapters went from Patrick to Dalton because it wasn’t exactly clear who the speaker was at times.

I do like the maturity shown throughout all of the books.  Especially with Dalton and Patrick.  It is a number of years after they first met, and with all they have been through with Ava, they now have a mature, adult, working relationship.  They both want to keep everyone safe, especially Ava.  They aren’t at odds anymore.  I truly liked seeing that particular relationship evolve.

Ava and Hannah have evolved as well.  They take their situation very seriously.  They go from knowing nothing about magic and wizards to leading their coven in the space of a few years.  Their strength is remarkable.

I hate to say this, and many YA fans will vehemently disagree, but it was kind of refreshing that some characters didn’t make it.  I’m not going to do a spoiler alert and name names.  But in most of these types of books, everyone lives happily ever after.  In this one, its a different kind of happily ever after.  And I really liked it.  It is more realistic, as much as realism can be found in a book about wizards.

A great follow-up to the first two books.  A great ending to the trilogy.  I truly love this series for its romance, its relationships between characters, its drama and aspect of a thriller.  And the magic is cool.  Definitely a must read for fans of paranormal YA.

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Book Review: Revelations (Thera’s Eyes Series) by Leia Kiuski

Yes, I am on a paranormal romance, YA kick.  Again.  But I am so glad to be getting such different takes on the genre.  This one is no exception:

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Here is the synopsis:

Elizabeth Monterey is a 17-year-old girl, who always had everything: lots of money, friends, the perfect boyfriend, and a promising future in the archery world. But an inexplicable accident changed her life forever, and now she needs to face the harsh reality of the death of her parents, a brother in a coma and the loss of her fortune. 

As if she hadn’t problems enough, demonic-looking creatures want the freedom to come and go to the human world as they please, and Elizabeth is the one chosen to prevent that from happening. But, she can’t do it alone. It will be necessary to find out who her allies are… and her enemies. 

So, the hunt begins. 

‘Revelations’, the first book in the ‘Thera’s Eyes series’, is an incredible adventure story, filled with magic and romance. A novel that follows the current trends and still manages to be different from anything you have ever read.

This is really different than the typical YA fare with wizards, zombies and vampires.  I truly admire authors that can create these worlds seemingly out of thin air.  I love learning about their creation, the laws of their world, the lore and history.  This story was no different.

I love that the main character, Beth, is flawed.  She’s shaken.  Her life has taken a turn for the worst and she is still standing.  But she is strong.  She overcomes her situations and makes the best of it, becoming a leader in a new world that she had no clue even existed.

I also like that despite the fact that she is now a warrior, she still has the same issues that most teenage girls do.  Especially with boys.  And one particular boy, Leon.  Some miscues and an overheard conversation leads her to think that he isn’t interested despite her overwhelming feeling for him.  This is pretty descriptive of her imagined situation:

If she could not have his love, at least she would have his friendship and she could still be a part of his life, even after he left, and it sure was better than having nothing at all.

I truly appreciate this aspect of the story.  It lends some realism…even though they are fighting “demons” she still is struggling with her feelings for a member of the opposite sex.

I absolutely love the friendship between the warriors.  Their loyalty to each other.  Their willingness to do what is needed to “save the world”.  Definitely a bonus in this story.

And it is very well written. The characters are well developed, the plot is well thought out, the writing is fantastic.

Overall a great read, very different than others of this genre, highly recommended for those who love YA paranormal romance.

 

Book Review: The Prophecy of Arcadia by M. H. Soars

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A different spin on YA paranormal romance and I loved it.  Here is the synopsis:

Being a teenager is tough, especially when you have to pretend to be something you’re not, and you’re in love with someone you shouldn’t. 115 years ago, a small planet called Arcadia was invaded by a vicious alien race and nearly destroyed. Cut off from their resources, the Arcadians turned to Earth for help. A group of Arcadian explorers discovered a Prophecy that claimed their salvation lay in the hands of two children from Earth. To ensure their safety, the Arcadian Council sent their most gifted youngsters to Earth to act as protectors. Samantha is one of them.

To succeed in her mission she must learn to control her Arcadian powers and keep her true identity from her best friend, and the girl she swore to protect, Alexia. But Samantha will soon realize that nothing is as it seems. Someone is trying to prevent the Prophecy from taking place and the prophecy boy hasn’t been found yet. There is also a new drug circulating at school that is turning students into freakishly strong menaces.

To make matters worse, distractions keep getting in her way. Such as her love/hate relationship with her “cousin” Matthew. Or her confused feelings toward popular and mysterious Julian. She wants nothing more than to be free to live her life. But the survival of Arcadia depends on her and her friends. Free will is not an option.

I liked that this book wasn’t typical YA.  It involved aliens.  The first chapter kind of made my eyes cross with all the alien names, but the story was amazing after I got past that.

This is YA, but I would classify it as older YA, just because there is sex involved as well as drugs and alcohol.  I would say 16 and up.

Sam is the main character, but the points of view swivel from character to character.  The author does an amazing job of this, as it is very clear which character is the speaker.  This can be very difficult, and the author pulls it off nicely.

Sam and her “cousins” are sworn to protect Alexia.  They have super powers that help them do this and they are trained to be bodyguards.  But their powers don’t really manifest until they are teenagers, and this creates some problems, especially for Sam.

Add in the fact that they are several teenagers around the same age living in the same house who aren’t related and you have some romantic issues.  Considering that they are pretending to be “cousins”, this presents some problems.

What I do like about this book is how it clearly conveys the angst of this time in life.  Despite who is the character speaking, the author makes this time in life abundantly clear:

Betrayal was one of the worst feelings a human being could possibly experience.  It gnawed at your insides, it twisted your heart until you thought it would be better if someone just ripped it out — then you wouldn’t feel the pain of it bleeding inside of you.

This passage could have been written by me at age 17, but maybe not so eloquently.

I do like the aspect that the guardians aren’t 100% automatons.  They know what the prophecy says, but they use their own brains to figure out that something isn’t right.

I was completely sucked into the world of Arcadia.  It is completely different in that most of these books feature vampires, wizards, etc.  So this was completely new to me.  And it is very well written, very concise, and the prophecy, sci-fi rules, powers, etc are clearly spelled out.  You don’t find characters suddenly doing something that they couldn’t before, or the prophecy doesn’t meld to fit the situation of the characters.  That is really important to me with reading these types of books.

Highly recommended for fans of paranormal romance and YA.  I love the sci-fi angle to it.  I am eagerly awaiting the next book.

 

Book Review: Starship Grifters by Rob Kroese

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Oh do I love me some Rob Kroese.  Whether he’s writing about renegade angels, physics or space, I absolutely adore his work.

If you have followed this blog, you have definitely seen his work mentioned on here.

His latest is a space adventure and it is just as fabulous as I anticipated.  Here is the synopsis:

A space-faring ne’er-do-well with more bravado than brains, Rex Nihilo plies the known universe in a tireless quest for his own personal gain. But when he fleeces a wealthy weapons dealer in a high-stakes poker game, he ends up winning a worthless planet…and owing an outstanding debt more vast than space itself!

The only way for Rex to escape a lifetime of torture on the prison world Gulagatraz is to score a big payday by pulling off his biggest scam. But getting mixed up in the struggle between the tyrannical Malarchian Empire and the plucky rebels of the Revolting Front—and trying to double-cross them both—may be his biggest mistake. Luckily for Rex, his frustrated but faithful robot sidekick has the cyber-smarts to deal with buxom bounty hunters, pudgy princesses, overbearing overlords, and interstellar evangelists…while still keeping Rex’s martini glass filled.

I love Rex.  I kind of wanted to hate him, but he’s just so…interesting.  Here is an apt description from his side-kick Sasha:

It’s more likely that he’s somehow developed a delicately counterbalanced syndrome of mental illnesses that have somehow conspired to keep him alive up until now.  

That can probably describe most of my family.  Anyway, Rex is a walking disaster.  And he gets himself into tangle after tangle.  The way that his mind works, always trying to see the next con, always trying to save himself, he is such a well-developed character.

I also appreciate how Mr. Kroese made a robot come alive.  Despite some of her programmed issues, like being unable to think independently, she is extremely well-developed and real.  She follows Rex throughout the galaxy, through hair-brained scheme after scheme and is most often his savior.  The plot twist at the end of the book cements this notion.

Ahh…the plot twist.  Very clever.  I didn’t see that one coming, and I read CONSTANTLY.  It was truly refreshing.  It wasn’t something that I ever expected and it was glorious.

In most of these types of books, I love reading about the things that the writers come up with.  It’s sci-fi, so it can be anything.  But with Mr. Kroese, he makes it laughable, hilarious even, as Rex explains:

DNA scrambling is the worst.  Last time I had an ear growing between my shoulder blades.  People acted like they didn’t notice it, but I could hear them talking behind my back.

And I have to mention the obvious references to the epic space tale for the ages.  That shall not be named for fear of litigation.  I have read Mr. Kroese’s “memoir” of sorts, The Force is Middling in this One, and it is pretty obvious that he has an obsession with a galaxy far, far away.  And of course it bleeds into this work:

“We’re just checking out a disturbance!” yelled Fingers.  “A disturbance?”  the voice called back.  “What kind of disturbance?” “With the floors!” hollered Fingers.  “Did you say there’s been some kind of disturbance in the floors?”

Sometimes the references made me roll my eyes, but they were hilarious.  And I’m sure that there are several references I missed.

Overall, a great read, very funny, very witty, I loved it.  Highly recommended as with all of Mr. Kroese’s work.

Book Review: Serenya’s Song

Title: Serenya’s Song
Author: Mysti Parker
Release Date: April 201220628483
Length: 288 pages
Series?: Tallenmere #2
Genre: Romance, Sci-Fi, Fantasy
Format: e-book
Source: author

Find the book: Website | Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Synopsis

No one ever said love was easy…

Serenya Crowe may be a half-elf commoner, but she’s no ordinary woman. With the ability to interpret dreams, and a birth defect that forces her to wear gloves, she’s endured gossip and the cruelty of her husband, Sebastian, The Earl of Summerwind. All she’s ever wanted is to live a quiet life and raise a family. When she meets the new stranger in town, her world and her heart, are turned upside down.

Wood-elf Jayden Ravenwing is an ex-secret agent who wants nothing more than to forget matters of the heart. He left the bustle of Leogard and his failed marriage to make a fresh start in Summerwind. He never planned to fall in love again, especially with the enchanting Serenya Crowe.

When a strange portal opens on the Crowe property, Jayden is thrown into an investigation, knowing that if he fails, Serenya and everyone in the town may die.

Together, he and Serenya must overcome an ancient evil, and their own inner demons, to save Summerwind and find the love they’ve always dreamed of.

Review

I had no idea where this book was coming from prior to finishing the first book, A Ranger’s Tale, because there was no one in the first book named Serenya…until reading the epilogue. The epilogue of A Ranger’s Tale is set five years later, and Serenya’s Song takes place during that passage of time, so the epilogue kind of gives away a big detail from Serenya’s Song.

Serenya’s Song is kind of like a spin-off of A Ranger’s Tale: several characters return, and it follows a character’s life from A Ranger’s Tale.

In A Ranger’s Tale, Caliphany’s second husband, leader of the secret government agency L.I.O., has the king annul their marriage. Although his L.I.O. coworker Lilly does care for him, in the second book she has moved on and is engaged herself, so some amount of time has passed.

Jayden Ravenwing is broken and done with the world. He wants to reside in peace and fulfill the musician’s dreams within him. Little does he know the woman he knocks down with his horse one dark knight is the muse for his soul, his fine arts counterpart. and he will go to the ends of the earth for her.

But Parker has definitely added a twist and some serious mystery in the mix. Serenya’s father rescued her after birth, fleeing an unknown pursuer. She is now a grown woman and experiencing some very odd and unusual things. Her titled husband is controlling and manipulative, and insanely jealous. He knows something about what is happening to her, and is exploiting it while keeping Serenya controlled.

Jayden has found a very dangerous element that could cause massive destruction to Summerwind, and is keeping an eye on things in the area. Then some very strange things start occurring. He calls in for reinforcements and sets up an investigation, and things get even stranger.

I felt that the focus in this novel was more on Serenya than Jayden. She is an extremely compassionate, loving character. She is beautiful, a musician and artist, and can interpret dreams, but she as born with a distinct deformity: claws. I was disappointed throughout the novel at each point in which Serenya would not stand up to her husband, and took and responded to his forced advances. She lives as a titled woman in a beautiful house and pretends to have the perfect marriage, but that is all far from the truth. She is powerless, and eventually finds power (although, I don’t think she realized she was again being used and in essence, powerless), but makes a better choice. Her decision strikes me oddly given all of her giving in, but it is a decision that saves Summerwind and those she loves.

About the Author

200025_103787076370825_4452630_nMysti Parker (pseudonym) is a full time wife, mother of three, and a writer. Her first novel, A Ranger’s Tale was published in January, 2011 by Melange Books, and the second in the fantasy romance series, Serenya’s Song, was published in April 2012. The highly anticipated third book, Hearts in Exile, has already received some great reviews. The Tallenmere series has been likened to Terry Goodkind’s ‘Sword of Truth’ series, but is probably closer to a spicy cross between Tolkien and Mercedes Lackey.

Mysti’s other writings have appeared in the anthologies Hearts of Tomorrow, Christmas Lites, and Christmas Lites II. Her flash fiction has appeared on the online magazine EveryDayFiction. She has also served as a class mentor in Writers Village University’s six week free course, F2K.

Mysti reviews books for SQ Magazine, an online specfic publication, and is the proud owner of Unwritten, a blog voted #3 for eCollegeFinder’s Top Writing Blogs award. She resides in Buckner, KY with her husband and three children.

Find the author: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

Book Review: Reflections of Queen Snow White by David Meredith

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I chose this book because it appealed to my whimsical nature.  Snow White was the first Disney movie I ever saw, in the theater, for it’s re-release.  I now have my own daughter, and she loves the Disney Princesses, although her fav is Belle.  Snow White was always my favorite princess until I discovered Princess Leia.  I do have to point out that I know absolutely nothing about where these fairy tales come from.  Outside of the sanitized Disney versions, I haven’t read any literature about the origins of these stories.  Now I want to.

Despite my very eclectic tastes in reading, I am always a sucker for the “happily ever after”.  Always have, always will be.  But I understand that “happily ever after” can have different meanings.  That was one of the things that drew me to this book.

Here is the synopsis:

What happens when “happily ever after” has come and gone?
On the eve of her only daughter, Princess Raven’s wedding, an aging Snow White finds it impossible to share in the joyous spirit of the occasion. The ceremony itself promises to be the most glamorous social event of the decade. Snow White’s castle has been meticulously scrubbed, polished and opulently decorated for the celebration. It is already nearly bursting with jubilant guests and merry well-wishers. Prince Edel, Raven’s fiancé, is a fine man from a neighboring kingdom and Snow White’s own domain is prosperous and at peace. Things could not be better, in fact, except for one thing:
The king is dead.
The queen has been in a moribund state of hopeless depression for over a year with no end in sight. It is only when, in a fit of bitter despair, she seeks solitude in the vastness of her own sprawling castle and climbs a long disused and forgotten tower stair that she comes face to face with herself in the very same magic mirror used by her stepmother of old.
It promises her respite in its shimmering depths, but can Snow White trust a device that was so precious to a woman who sought to cause her such irreparable harm? Can she confront the demons of her own difficult past to discover a better future for herself and her family? And finally, can she release her soul-crushing grief and suffocating loneliness to once again discover what “happily ever after” really means?
Only time will tell as she wrestles with her past and is forced to confront The Reflections of Queen Snow White.
There were so many things I like about this book.  First being the writing style.  Very fitting of a book about a fairy tale, the writing is very elegant and proper without being nauseating.  For example, when describing Snow White’s throne room in comparison to the rest of the castle that is preparing for the wedding, Mr. Meredith writes:
The cavernous chamber appeared a bleak island of melancholy set adrift upon a sunny, celebratory sea.
The writing helps to transport the reader to the castle, to Snow White’s side, through the visions she sees through the mirror.  The writing also helps define the depth to her suffering:
Snow White had said she wanted to be alone, but that was not really true.  She simply was alone, whether there were any other people about to witness it or not.  now that she was by herself in the large room however, the queen was not at all sure what to do next.This of course was her regular dilemma.  It seemed difficult to do anything anymore but sit around feeling miserable and sad.
That is pretty much depression in a nutshell, whether it stems from grief or from illness.  Well done.
I love the use of the magic mirror to prompt Snow White to examine her life.  This is usually what is done in therapy, but being that therapists weren’t around in that time period and that cures for things pertaining to mental illness probably involved using leeches, I guess a magic mirror would have to do.  Here the mirror describes his role succinctly:
I simply do that which mirrors do.  You look in.  I show you a reflection of yourself- Nothing more.  Your stepmother thought herself beautiful, but I showed her the ugliness that dwelt in her heart as well.  She asked me then who there was more beautiful that she and again I showed her.  Some people are frightened of their own reflection, I’ve found.  They do not want to examine themselves too closely, for fear of what they will see – For fear of what others might discover.
Through the mirror, Snow White sees several events from her past, ranging from her stepmother’s abuse to her life with Charming.  Some of the events are terribly traumatic.  Some of them are very tender and emotional.  All of them serve a purpose as the mirror again counsels:
You know there is no forgetting, not really.  What happens, happens.  The past is the past and your past is ever a part of you!  Only by facing it can you truly leave it behind.  Otherwise, it will ever intrude upon your present..
I have found this especially true in my own personal life and my issues with domestic violence.  Leave it to a magic mirror to put it so plainly.
That noted, there are elements of abuse, especially surrounding her stepmother’s treatment of her.  It may trigger.  That was one thing I remember from all the Disney movies.  The absolute cruelty of the stepmothers featured.  I think that is why I refused to be referred to as a “stepmother” to this day.  I would rather my bonus son call me by my first name than his “stepmother”.  Thanks, fairy tales!!
This book is also not rated G.  It is not rated X either, but Snow White and Charming do get it on….in detail.  That was kind of refreshing.  For two reasons 1) it is a departure from the sanitized Disney versions of the fairy tales we have been force fed for the past 70 years. Yes, I know they are for children, but you rarely ever see the characters kiss…and in the next frame they get married?  And 2) these scenes were written by a man and they are very tender and not gratuitous.  Not something you associate with a man writing a sex scene.  Especially the one featuring the night of their wedding night.  Good job!!
It is a very short read and is well worth the $1.99 it is going for right now on amazon.
I really enjoyed this book.  Immensely.  It captured my imagination.  It spoke to that little girl in me who loved fairy tales but is now grown up and is now aware of the issues that face adults.  Excellent concept, excellent execution.  Highly recommended.

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