Book Review: The Maverick by Coty Justus

Maverick

 

This one is also one of my favorites.  But it is a little darker.  Here is the synopsis:

Acrasia fights to keep her father alive, stealing and lying to purchase his expensive medication. Showing the world two faces—the gentle, loving daughter and the cynical, toughened criminal—she challenges anyone to stand in her way when it comes to her father’s well-being. 

When Michael touches Acrasia’s hand, he knows she is for him, and he feels cheated. Nevertheless, he can think of nothing but her, and the more he fights his fate, the more he realizes there could be fates worse than a lifetime with Acrasia, such as a lifetime without her. Now he needs to convince her that the contents of the dust-coated leather tote in her father’s closet make her his.

Acrasia is probably my favorite out of all the women in this series.  She is very smart, she knows how to get what she wants.  She is so selfless, she constantly puts herself in harms way just to keep her father alive and them fed.  All at a young age.  Even making up assignments in a fictional school so he continues to think that she is still going and doing well.

This is another story that shows even when love is fated, it can be difficult.  And this one is the most difficult of all.  Michael is the youngest.  He is seeing his older brothers and even cousins meet their “chosens” and become blissfully happy.  They are starting families.  They live communally at his family’s ranch.  And he hasn’t met her yet.

But when he does, she’s being booked on charges.

What makes it even worse is that his mother, Alicia, is convinced that Michael’s chosen is evil, and will do anything to protect her grown son.  Even when Acrasia nearly dies helping Alicia, it isn’t enough.

I love the relationship and the banter between Acrasia and Michael.  She is so afraid to let anyone near, to truly let anyone see how much they mean to her.  She constantly keeps everyone at arms length.  Her constant accusations of Michael’s “cockiness” is hilarious.

I love how Acrasia fits right into the stronghold, despite Alicia’s best effort to make her the outcast.

Another aspect that I truly adore about this series is the children of The Ten and the “chosen”.  They truly provide a background of joy to the otherwise serious goings on that The Ten are facing.  I think Ally and Susan are my favorites.  They test out their new powers and truly test the patience of everyone around them.

Despite the darkness, this ends up being a wonderful story.  It segues nicely into the final story.

I was also delighted to learn about the name Belphobe.  My daughter shares a version of that name.

Book Review: The Roundup by Coty Justus

Roundup

This is book three in the Birthrights series.  This one is probably one of my favorites in the series.  I absolutely love the characters and the action and the description of the locations used in the book.  Here is the synopsis:

Sliced from her dead mother’s womb by a reclusive wildlife conservationist, Penny is lovingly raised in seclusion in the mountains of western Wyoming. Because there are those who wish her dead, she must always hide. When her guardian angel dies, leaving her alone at the age of twelve, she waits eight years for the one she knows will eventually rescue her. 

When Matthew sees Penny in a chance encounter at a gas station, he knows she is for him, but by the time he is able to turn his vehicle around, she is gone. For the next year, Matthew searches for his mystery woman. Finding her proves easier than keeping her, though, thanks to the contents of a leather tote.

I absolutely LOVE Penny.  She is funny, she is sweet and she is so good with wildlife and animals.  Her relationships with her animals is so precious.  She reminds me of my daughter, who loves animals as well.  And she is so innocent it is endearing, not annoying.

One aspect of the series I haven’t mentioned in any of my reviews so far is the character of Alicia.  She is interesting to say the least.  She is the mother of all the Stanton boys, and is fiercely protective, to the point of turning her back on her birthright in an effort to “protect” them.  She often makes wrong assumptions about the things she witnesses or the messages she receives from her goddess.

I also want to point out the unique quality of this religion.  I’m not well versed on other religions other than the usual judeo-christian based ones, so I have no idea if the one in the book is actually based on an actual religion, but I love it.  It’s not really a religion, per se, but more like a way of life.  It is a birthright.  These women are born of a bloodline of women with powers.  There are codes, of course.  And their duties are to propagate  and teach the next generation and battle the “one who is many”.  There are other members of “The Ten” who have gone “dark” that is to the dark side.

Again, I love the love story.  When these women find their “chosen” it is love at first sight.  And it is all consuming.  I love stories like that.

In particular with this story, as with The Stronghold, I love the incorporation of Native American culture.  With the fantastic descriptions of the landscape during Penny’s journey in this book, I really want to head to that part of the country.

Another things that I love as this series progresses is the relationships that grow among the women as the stronghold expands.  The friendship with Odessa and JB, how they welcome Penny with open arms.  How they care for each other and their children.  Very inspirational and much needed in a world where women usually stab each other in the back.

This book is probably up there with my favorites in the series.

 

Book Review: The Stronghold by Coty Justus

Stronghold

 

This is the second book in the Birthrights series.  Here is the synopsis:

The release of her father from prison forces Jocasta into hiding. Memories of the night he tried to kill her have rendered her mute, unable to speak of the horror she witnessed. Fearing he will attempt to finish the job, she alters her appearance and flees to Cheyenne, Wyoming. 

Alan has long been waiting for his mysterious J.B. Alerted to her presence by a series of dreams, he knows she is out there somewhere and has never wanted anyone but her. When she finally arrives, bearing a leather tote packed with heartache, Alan must decide whether the waiting was worth a lifetime of worry. 

This one broke my heart.  It was refreshing in that it didn’t follow the usual cookie cutter:  boy meets girl.  They fall in love.  They live happily ever after.  It showed that things aren’t always perfect and that even when you are destined to be together, it isn’t always perfect.

I love J.B. she is so sweet and innocent.  But she gives too much of herself.  And she is too forgiving of Alan.

I love that this story also incorporates more of the Stanton family’s Native American heritage.

This book, like the one before it, starts to set the stage for future books.  You see the sense of family that is developing.  There are hints of the next book when it is mentioned that a younger brother, Matthew, might have found his “chosen”.

The reader learns more about the religion as well through Odessa’s training.  It is absolutely fascinating, and so out of the realm of the usual paranormal books that are on the market today.  Very unique.

Again, there is romance, but no sex scenes.  Perfectly acceptable for teenagers of all ages.

 

Another excellent book in the series.

Book Review: A Home on the Range by Coty Justus

Just found my latest paranormal romance series to binge out on….

ahomeontherange

The author originally asked me to review one of the books of her series.  I saw that there were a few books in the series, and knowing what I know about these types of books, I asked if I could read the others.  The author graciously complied and that is how I spent a good portion of last week engrossed in the world of The Ten and the Stanton family.  Here is the synopsis:

Book 1: Odessa and Jason 

After her mother’s death at the hands of a cult leader, Odessa escapes the cult, relying upon determination, instinct and a mysterious voice to keep her one step ahead of her pursuers. The blood-stained contents of the heavy leather tote she bears have already cost lives, and she is prepared to kill to prevent them from falling into the wrong hands. 

Jason waits. He does not know what he waits for, only that it rapidly approaches from the east. Restless, he struggles to comprehend his inner turmoil, delving into his family’s past for answers, answers that may cost him his life.

There are five books in this series.  I highly recommend reading all of them.  Each can function as stand alone novels, there aren’t any cliff hangers, but characters overlap from one book to another, and the story continues until the final book.

I love so many things about this series, the first being that it is extremely female driven.  In the heritage that Jason and Odessa both belong to, without knowing it, it is female-centric.  The women are the ones in charge.  The women are the ones in power and it is the job of the men to protect.

Odessa’s strength and drive is overwhelming.  It sets the stage for later books and you understand why she is who she is in the greater scheme of things.

I loved reading about Wyoming.  I now want to go there.  The author does a wonderful job setting the scene, putting you right there with Odessa on her journey.

The love story is fantastic.  I love these stories where people meet and they just KNOW.  That they are meant to be together because they are greater together than apart.  I should note that this is a love story, but there aren’t any sex scenes.  They really aren’t necessary and this series is pretty safe for teenagers of all ages.

The rest of the series is as follows:

Book 2: The Stronghold (Jocasta and Alan)

Book 3: The Roundup (Penny and Matthew)

Book 4: The Maverick (Acrasia and Michael)

Book 5: Range Wars (The Final Battle)

Excellent start to an excellent series.  I will be reviewing each of the books for the rest of the month.

 

Book Review: Weeks in Naviras by Chris Wimpress

naviras

 

Ohhh…one of my favorite kinds of books.  I would call it a mashup.  A little bit of romance, a little bit of sci-fi, throw in some politics and political commentary, add elements of a thriller.  Excellent.  Here is the synopsis:

It’s late afternoon in the tiny Portuguese fishing village of Naviras, where Eleanor Weeks is sipping wine and watching the ocean. Even though she’s been there dozens of times, how she arrived that particular afternoon is a mystery to her. Until she remembers she’s the wife of the British prime minister, and that she’s just been killed in a terrorist attack.

As Ellie explores her afterlife she finds other people she knew, all of whom died before she did. She recalls her troubled marriage during her husband’s rise to the very top of British politics. She remembers the tragedy and secrets which dominated the last ten years of her life, before recounting her role in a conspiracy which threatens to destabilise not just Britain but the wider world. 

Both a political thriller and love story, Weeks in Naviras delves into the heart of a woman who sees first-hand the rise and fall of governments troubled by turmoil and crisis.

Beautifully written.  I really want to go to Naviras.  Like right now.  The way it is written, you can see the little village.  You can feel Ellie’s attachment to it.  You understand why it is where she would go.

The “flashbacks” aren’t puzzling at all.  When not written effectively, it can detract from the overall reading experience.  Not so with this book.  It only makes you want to keep reading on to find out what happens.  The author only feeds you enough information to spur you on.  It is maddening but at the same time satisfying when you finally DO get the answers.

Ellie is an intriguing character.  The ten year span that you get to know her is appropriate.  You get to see her grow as a mother, as a person.  The amount of courage it takes to do what she does on the last few pages is phenomenal.  She grows from someone afraid to confront her husband and his power to one who essentially takes on some unknown quantity to save the world.

I appreciate the honest depiction of depression.  The noonday demon.  The malaise.  And the portrayal of it in someone in Ellie’s position is appreciated as well.

I also liked the political commentary as well.  I can very well see the author’s political stance on recent events, but it isn’t overwhelming.  It isn’t a political book, it is more futuristic (I think?).  Not enough is specified to pinpoint exact events or political figures.  But the criticism rings loud and clear.

I also love the creativity employed with the mode of  terror device used.  I don’t want to give anything away, but put it this way, it will knock your socks off.  The twists are so unexpected, so genius.

Excellent, excellent book.  Highly recommended.  Definitely different, definitely eclectic.

Book Review: Djinn by Laura Catherine

djinn

 

Ohhhh….I really liked this book.  Really, really, liked it.  Read in one day, liked it.  Here is the synopsis:

Kyra’s life is far from normal.

She’s been on the run for as long as she can remember and her father is the only stable thing in her life, but everything changes when the people pursuing them finally catch up.

Kyra is abducted by the handsome and mysterious, Will. He takes her to a secret compound where she is told the truth: She’s a Djinn, a genie-like creature with super powers and a love of dogs.

Kyra has to adjust to the Djinn and their rules, but her new life is far from perfect. Everyone is hiding something and the one person Kyra cares about most is forbidden to her.

There are secrets around every corner and more dangers than Kyra could ever imagine as she struggles to find herself and be with the one she loves.

Very different from the normal “vampire and werewolves” fare.  That is why I was drawn to this book.  I recently read the Forbidden Trilogy by Karpov Kinrade(I may do a post on it soon), and this kind of reminds me of that series mixed in with one I love, but have yet to finish, called The Significance Series by Shelly Crane.

Kyra is a very strong character.  Very strong-willed, smart, resourceful.  She analyzes her situation and tries not to get too emotional.

I don’t want to give any of the twists and turns away at all, but this is probably one of the least predictable YA novels I have ever read.  You think you know where it’s going and WHAM! a new twist.  That is probably why I was up until 3 a.m. last night finishing this book.  Characters aren’t stereotypical, events aren’t what they seem.  Very refreshing in this genre.

I found myself wishing this book was longer.  I wanted to know more about the Blooders, the history of the djinn and their wars.  I guess if this is going to be a trilogy, there is more to come.

I also like the social commentary.  Most of the time I try to ignore that, but the commentary in this book was written in such a way that it wasn’t preachy, it wasn’t political.  It was just part of the story and events weren’t contrived to get the point across.  It was woven more naturally into the story.

This is strictly YA fare as well, I would be comfortable recommending it to a younger teen.  I wish books like these were written when I was younger!!!

Looking forward to the next few books…

Book Review: The Scourge by Roberto Calas

scourge

 

Back to the zombies.  I figure Easter is coming…

This time it is zombies in medieval England:

God has forsaken this land.

A mysterious plague descends upon 14th century England, ravaging the country and trapping the souls of the afflicted in eternal madness. The feudal hierarchy–and even the church itself– slowly crumbles as the dead rise to feed and the living seek whatever shelter they can. The bishops of England call for calm and obedience, but one man isn’t listening.

Sir Edward of Bodiam has been separated from the woman he loves and nothing on heaven or earth can stop him from seeking her out. 

Edward and two of his knights travel through the swiftly changing landscape of England, a countryside now overrun by the minions of hell. The knights encounter madness, violence, and sorrow, but Edward fights his way ever deeper into the thickening darkness of unholy terror. 

Roberto Calas brings you along on a dark, historical tale full of love, death, and black humor. Follow Edward as he journeys to save his wife, his kingdom, and his very soul.

Very similar to The Zombie Bible series by Stant Litore.  But where Mr. Litore is poetic and philsophical, Mr. Calas is humorous.  Think Monty Python with zombies.  But not so campy.

I know next to nothing about this time period in history.  My husband is a huge fan of medieval history, weapons, warfare, etc.  When he starts going on about the battle of Agincourt my eyes start to glaze over.  It’s not that it isn’t interesting, it just doesn’t interest me.  But Mr. Calas made it interesting.

Many people say that chivalry is a dying notion.  That honor is dead.  This may be true.  but no knight I have ever known can resist a maiden in distress.

Intermixed with all of the knightly adventures and the quest for Sir Edward to return to his wife, Elizabeth, are zombies.  My husband seems to think that zombies would be easily dispatched in medieval times, but he didn’t count on the power of the Catholic church.  It is thought that the zombies just have the plague:

The noises that come from the plaguer are those of an animal.  Growls and shrieks.  There is no reason.  There is no humanity.  I can feel his teeth scraping at the bevor upon my neck.  His hands shove at my helmet.  I see three red circles above his thumb.  I shove at him, but he has latched on to me, with one arm under my head.  He pulls me toward his mouth like a hungry lover and I scream.  Not in fear but in anger.

I’m always intrigued by the little differences that the authors of zombie books weave into their stories.  Be it the way the zombies began (plague, gas, aliens, or no reason at all) or how they move and act, this always fascinates me.  These zombies feel pain.  Which must make it difficult to kill them.

On his quest, Sir Edward has Sir Tristan and Sir Morgan with him.  Sir Morgan is devoutly religious.  He is always quoting scripture.  Sir Edward and Sir Tristan kind of give him hell for it.  But their discourse highlights the way Catholicism permeated everyday life during this time period.  Sir Morgan actually believes that holy relics can cure the plague.  And by the end of the book, Sir Edward starts to believe him as well.  The religious conversations were hilarious, however:

“Blessed be the Lord, my rock, who trains my hands for war, and my fingers for battle.”

“This is the same Lord who says we shouldn’t kill?” Tristan asks.

“No, it’s the Old Testament God,” I say.  “The grumpy one.”

“You have two Gods?” Zhuri asks.

“Just one,” Tristan says.  “But he had a troubled childhood.”

I was struck at the similarities between this work and the other zombie books I’ve read.  Particularly the ones set in modern times in the US.  Apparently when the dead start walking, the world goes to shit.  There is a fundamental breakdown in society, even in the “dark ages”, and the desire to rule one’s own little kingdom is powerful.  Even at the price of precious human life.  If you are a Walking Dead fan, think “The Governor”.  These knights find this all over England.

There is a situation the knights in this story find themselves in that is quite absurd.  Think zombie bears.  Edward remarks to himself after they have barely gotten out alive (again):

I wonder how many mad tyrants rule in England now.  How many lunatic kings sit in dung-pits and throw men to their deaths.

Overall, a great read.  Full of adventure, strong characters, humor and strong relationships.  Very different from typical zombie stories in that you actually LEARN SOMETHING about history while reading them. Much like Stant Litore’s work.  I look forward to the next installments.

Oh, and a quick note, this book was originally written as a serial for Amazon in 2012.  Each episode seems to end in a cliffhanger because a new episode would be released each week.  It doesn’t detract from the work at all, but I didn’t realize that at first when I was reading, and it made sense in the author’s notes in the end of the book.

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