Monday, September 29, 2014

Reviewing Your Universe

Title:  My Soul Immortal
By:  Jen Printy
Publisher Ecopy Provided
Rating:  3 Stars

Star-crossed lovers with an immortal twist!

Jack’s immortal and hides this fact from the world. When his secret’s exposed, he relocates to another city and continues his off-the-grid lifestyle. His new start hits a brick wall when he meets Leah, a woman that so resembles his lost love Lydia, and he fears for his sanity. A stranger named Artagan arrives in town, knows Jack’s secret, and warns Jack Leah’s in danger. Jack must discover what Artagan isn’t telling him and hope it’s enough to save the woman he loves.

The first few paragraphs sucked me into the story. I wanted to know who Jack really was, why he was immortal and how Leah’s existence related to Lydia, if at all. Ms. Printy’s voice and imagination kept me turning pages, eagerly anticipating the answers I sought.

My interest waned about a third of the way into the book. For me, Jack’s immortal angst weighed on the plot and slowed the pacing. Several scenes were presented with circumstances that were conveniently resolved and gave away what could have been great foreshadowing for a couple of big reveals.

Jack and Leah’s relationship proceeded at more of a normal pace versus the inst-love/lust/like some romances present. I enjoyed the stronger connection that grew over time, although I will say Jack’s feelings for Leah were better shown and developed than Leah’s for Jack. That, however, could definitely relate to Jack being immortal and the narrator of the story.

Artagan came back onto the page farther into the story, and the pace picked up. He definitely added mystery, intrigue and balance to the plot. I look forward to the next book in this series. Each of the characters left me with a positive curiosity, and that’s a great hook to recommend for a series.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Reviewing Your Universe

Empty Altars
by Judith Post
Rating:  4 Stars

The stars have shined since the dawn of time, their existence spawning stories of gods and goddesses. Who better to protect humanity than beings with knowledge and power far beyond our own?

When the universal balance is threatened, Diana (goddess of the hunt and goddess of all magic) is sent by her runes to help the Norse gods protect the world from a burgeoning evil strong enough to destroy everything the gods created.

Mythology is not a strong interest of mine, but Empty Altars’ synopsis poked my curiosity. The beginning started a bit slow and was somewhat confusing (I’m sure due to my lack of mythological knowledge), but once the action started and the pace picked up, Ms. Post’s voice had my full attention.

Strong characterization, layered personalities and a solid plot kept me turning pages. For those who enjoy fantasy worlds ruled by gods, goddesses and magic, Empty Altars will not disappoint. I am thrilled at finding a new author to follow and look forward to reading more of Ms. Post’s work.

*author ecopy provided for honest review

Monday, August 11, 2014

Reviewing Your Universe

They Who Fell
by Kevin Kneupper
fantasy/urban fantasy
5 Stars

The world isn’t always as it seems…sometimes it’s scarier.

Jana understands just how precarious the world inside the Perch is. As a slave, doing the wrong thing, speaking out of turn or just looking her angel keepers in the eye could all result in a harsh punishment or ultimately death. Living in fear is second nature, but being frightened all the time serves as motivation. She wants to survive.

William Holt lives outside the Perch, fighting daily with others in his cell to destroy the angels and reclaim what’s left of the world for the dwindling human population. Nothing will stop him: not the Vichies, humans that have pledged themselves to the angels but prey on weaker humans, not the unexpected creatures now roaming the Earth, and especially not the debauched angels themselves.

Holy awesome surprise! Mr. Kneupper hooked me with the first chapter and kept me turning pages until I finished the book in one sitting. Excellent writing, great characterization and a phenomenal plot landed They Who Fell at a solid 5 star rating. I wanted to read the next installment immediately. Since I couldn’t (hasn’t been released yet) I spent the next couple of days thinking about the story.

By turning the traditionally ingrained idea of benevolent angles on its head and creating a plausible set of circumstances, I seriously questioned what would happen if a second heavenly fall occurred. Would the angels I’ve viewed as guardians become my worst nightmare? Would God turn his back on all of His creations and let the outcome be determined by the players themselves?

No matter a person’s religious belief, Mr. Kneupper’s world is well-developed and scarier than hell. I would never want to experience that kind of existence firsthand, but I’ll gladly immerse myself in the next story of this trilogy!

*author ecopy provided for honest review 

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Reviewing Your Universe

Normal is the Watchword (The Watchword series)
By Jasmine Tru
Free ecopy provided by author for honest review
Rating:  3.0 Stars

The world is filled with unknown wonders. Some of us are lucky to see some of them. Others are fated to be part of them.

Juniper’s a senior in high school, and her life is as ordinary as it gets. She spends her school hours battling senioritis with her best friend, Carrie. Then she meets Darius, a guy she’s never really noticed before, and things get interesting. They have a connection she can’t explain…at least she thinks they do. She’s just not ready to trust her instincts.

With her senior photography project due in two weeks, one she hasn’t even started, Juni focuses on her schoolwork and stops procrastinating. Inspiration strikes, and she thinks of the perfect subject for her project. She has no way of knowing her choice will change her life forever, and nothing can prepare her for what follows.

I loved the premise of Normal is the Watchword. The story line moved forward without giving away an important part of the plot. The characters were driven by an instinctual need to discern right from wrong, find justice and make amends. These are all laudable character traits and give plenty of room for conflict.

For me personally, the opening page rocked, but the story started slow. A huge bit of back story front-loaded the novel, the first active dialogue came on page 10, and heavy narration marked the book’s tone. Decisions made by both Juni and Darius were inconsistent with emotions, dangerous and implausible. Yes, they are teenagers, but both are intelligent characters and more should have been expected from them, not less.

While I would have enjoyed more character depth, enough was given for me to like the characters. I am interested in seeing how things progress in Loyalty (Watchword #2) between the good and bad guys, and especially between Juni and Darius.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Reviewing Your Universe

Ignited by Desni Dantone
Published by Laine D Publishing
Ecopy obtained from Amazon free promotion
Rating:  4 Stars

A rockin’ new urban fantasy series!

Being a teenager is, well, brutal—and 17-year old Kristina Young has more reasons than most to understand how truly harsh life can be.

Her family was murdered when she was a toddler, throwing her into the foster system. When she was eleven, her foster father became a threat instead of a caregiver. At 17, she was in an accident and survived, while her two best friends didn’t.

While each of these incidents reveal tragedies in her life, they’re also responsible for her deepest secret. A blue-eyed guardian angel that always protected her and kept her safe. Right up to the night he reappears in her life and saves her again. Except this time, she’s not a little girl and she wants answers. Like who he is and why he continues to save her.

When the answers come, so does the ever-increasing danger to her life. Her savior, Nathan, is from a race of hybrid demigods called Kala. They battle an evil race of demigods called Skotadi. Since he has no idea why the Skotadi are after Kris, they go on the run, hiding from those that want to kill her.

Kris finds herself in the middle of a war she never knew existed, never asked to be a part of. When they learn why she’s so important, everything changes. Time becomes her worst enemy. She needs information to change her destiny, and Nathan’s willing to do anything to get it.

This is a great beginning to a new young adult urban fantasy series. There are romantic elements. There are some paranormal elements. While there is no true romance and a conclusive happily ever after, I love the groundwork that’s been laid. Love doesn’t happen instantaneously, and I, for one, am thrilled to see a heroine that thinks about her emotions and considers actions and consequences.

While there is a love-triangle conflict, it doesn’t detract from the story. There’s a purpose behind the characters and their respective positions, and I can’t wait to see how it changes and develops in the next book.

With all of the positive, why not a solid 5 rating?

I didn’t have a good enough handle on what the overall factions were really after. What they were and where they came from was explained, but not enough detail was given to help me understand their real purpose and drive. How they functioned.

I also felt the best friend Callie’s inclusion in the dark moment and rest of the story felt gratuitous. She is human, with nothing to offer the maturing demigods with powers. Callie has no real reaction to the demigods’ existence, the danger, or Kris’s impending change. Other than Kris needing a female friend, she didn’t add anything to the story. I hope in the next book she does.

My last issue was the title. It’s a great title, but it gave an expectation that wasn’t realized. With demigods involved and otherworldly powers, the title suggested a fire-related element that never appeared. Maybe it’s my own issue and I read too much into it.

Overall, I enjoyed Ignited. Ms. Dantone has captured my attention, and I eagerly await the release of Sacrificed!

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Reviewing Your Universe

Magic Academy by Jillian Keep
Published by Pathforgers Publishing
Rating: 3 Stars

 Are you willing to do whatever it takes to get what you want?
Firia is. She’s a human serving in a society run by magic-wielding elves. She can do some magic on her own, and her goal is to win a competition at the yearly magic contest from which academies recruit their students. But she knows she’ll never win without help. So she summons a demon and binds him to her in order to boost her magic.

The results are everything she hoped for. She wins at the competition, gets into the top magic academy and begins her training as a sorceress. Then things get interesting and complicated. Firia is attracted to her demon Varuj, as well as Mae’lin, a very sweet elf attending the same school.

She must study hard and practice hard in order to pass her exams and stay in school. Varuj and Mae’lin both help Firia succeed in different ways, but she is confused and torn between her feelings for both men. Firia doesn’t want to hurt anyone but knows she must make a choice between the life she wants and the life she could have, and between the men that can give her either.

Magic Academy is a high fantasy concept at its best. However, I would NOT classify this as YA ever, nor would I call it New Adult. This book has a new adult plotline defined by erotic elements. Let me be the first to say the sex scenes were smokin’ hot. Unlike other reviewers, I didn’t get the heebie jeebies by the tone, verbiage or pairing.

Varuj is a demon with a demon nature. His description and actions followed the world’s rules and fit his character development. Firia’s burgeoning social and sexual enlightenment also fit her character development. All of this worked for me.

My biggest issue with the book is the large amount of “telling” versus showing. Another stumbling block for me was the ending. I got to the end and went, “Huh?” I kept trying to turn a page on my Kindle, thinking it was digitally stuck. Instead, the story had concluded with a rushed climax (no pun intended) and a cliff-hanger ending. If this is a standalone book and not the first book in the series, wow. There needed to be more resolution with the storyline for readers to get a conclusion without a HEA.

Would I recommend Magic Academy? To certain types of readers, absolutely. Will I read the next book in the series? You bet. I like Ms. Keep’s voice. I think her writing will improve, and I really want to read more of Firia and Varuj’s story.

*Netgalley arc provided for honest review

Monday, September 23, 2013

Milestones and Celebrations

Hobbies, personal interests and even exercise time go by the wayside when one goes about the business of living life.This last year's been crazy both good ways and bad. Renovating our new home has been a huge project. Getting our old home ready go to on the market, at the same time as the new home renovation, has been insane. Hubs being incapacitated from not one but two foot surgeries, while trying to accomplish everything, has been a nightmare.

Somehow, we've managed to survive.

Thankfully, hubs is doing great. He's on the mend and back at work. The old house goes on the market October 1st. Renovations on the new house aren't completely finished but everything looks great and every day offers us another reason to love our home.

On a personal front, our third daughter graduated high school in June and our second daughter finished her first year of college the same month. Today, ironically, both of those girls started on a new path. Daughter number two was accepted into the medical assistant program. She is working toward a nursing degree. Daughter number three started her first day of college. She is following her big sister's footsteps toward the nursing program as well. Daughter number one works two jobs, always moving toward her personal goals. And daughter number four, though still in high school, already has her eyes on a music scholarship for singing, piano, violin...maybe all three.

So this last year is marked with milestones and celebrations in our family's journey through life.

And even if I'm the only one that reads this blog, this is my private clifftop for shouting, cheering and pom pom waving in celebration. I am so proud of my girls. Every day I look at what the four of them have accomplished or are working toward accomplishing, and I realize how blessed I am to have such strong, driven, nurturing daughters. The world is a big, harsh, beautiful place. I can't wait to see each one of them find their niche...and make a difference.

World, meet my daughters.

Girls, the world is yours.