Book Review: Beneath Scarlett Valley: Book 1 (Volume 1) by Kerr-Ann Dempster

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Beneath Scarlett Valley: Book 1 (Volume 1) by Kerr-Ann Dempster

A YA Fantasy/Romance Novel published by Ink City Books  (08/08/2014)

Summary:

“You’re not a monster,” Vicky said. “You certainly won’t earn the MVP of life award, but you’re not a lost cause.” (p. 231).

Cassidy and Harper move back to their hometown of Scarlett. It has been years and years since they’ve been gone. Cassidy is 117. They are both Furors, half human half something else and if they can’t find The Source and immortality they will Fade and be consumed by their inner fire. Cassidy is ready for death until she meets a boy in Scarlett. Will she still be able to choose the Fade or has Sebastian changed her mind about trying to live forever and spending at least a few years with the mortal boy?

Keywords:

Paranormal, Seers, Furors, Ghouls, Immortality, Power, Choices, Sisters, Time, Death, Fading Away, Promises, Searching, High School, Instalove, Crush, Rage, Killing, Heat, Dark Past

My Review:

Dempster’s premise is paranormal, but it is a different twist. The immortal ones (the two main characters searching for immortality) are female and there aren’t any conventional witches or werewolves in the story. The girls are Furors, which is a slightly different take on the usual paranormal. Most of Dumpster’s characters are otherworldly and she has built her own universe in Scarlett Valley.

Cassidy is content to help her sister Harper find the Source and let Death and the Fade consume her over time. Instead of letting life slowly take hold of her, she is involved in the local high school, falls for the local award winning swimmer boy for SVHS and takes midnight walks with the neighbor. She can’t seem to take herself out of life and is swept up into the world of a 17 year old. She even falls hard for Sebastian. It is instalove and she is 117 and he is 17. Why does she like him? Why hasn’t her heart matured? How is being a giddy teenager acceptable and adequate for someone who has lived many, many more years than everyone else around her? If you can forget she’s lived several lifetimes, you may enjoy the soft romance that develops between Cass and Sebastian.

The relationship between Cassidy and Harper was the most interesting in the whole book. Out of all the characters, their dynamic was the most intriguing. They fought but they were there for each other. How do you keep on living with someone for all those years! How amazing. And yet, Cassidy was willing to leave her sister behind, to die without her and leave Harper to live forever on her own.

To be 117, you have a different view of the world and your death and I liked how Dempster showed Cassidy’s interesting viewpoint and thoughts about her own impending death.

This novel was published by Ink City Books 08/08/2014 and is available on Amazon here.

TLDR Star Rating: 3.75

Links for more information:

Goodreads

Kerr-Ann Dempster’s Website

Twitter

Book Review: Silent Circle (Volume 1) by Cassandra Larsen

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Silent Circle (Volume 1) by Cassandra Larsen

A YA Fantasy/Paranormal Novel published by Cassandra Larsen (08/21/2014)

 

Summary:

“We can‘t change what we are, but we can practice to get more control over what we do.” (Page 126)

Emerson is your average teenage girl. She’s got a hot boyfriend. She has a few good friends. She goes to the local high school, dressing like everyone else, partying like everyone else. On her seventeenth birthday, however, everything changes when she gains her powers. Em can’t believe that she’s a witch, but after some of her awesome abilities are revealed, she realizes there’s something going on that even her mother never told her about. That’s because her mom died when she was fourteen, before she had a chance to explain to Em who she really was. Em’s life is further complicated when her boyfriend Sebastian catches her with the local quiet boy Caiden, but hey, it’s not what you think!

 

Keywords:

Witches, Spells, Rivalry, Friendship, Loyalty, Mistakes, Teenage Drinking, Parties, Gossip, Secrets, Revenge, Death, Teen Drama, Strength, Running from Problems, Teen Issues,

 

My Review:

I like how Em is portrayed as a very normal and down to earth teen girl, albeit with her own troubles and chips on her shoulder, but those make her interesting and mysterious. Em is part of her own ‘it’ crowd but not the most popular. She’s not the model student or the model popular. She’s interesting but not really different from the norm. She fits in, until her 17th birthday when everything changes.

Larsen keeps up the intrigue throughout the book, hinting and foreshadowing that greater things are afoot and will be revealed in time. Em has just found out she’s a witch and less than a week later is having to make choices she’d never thought she’d have to make and letting people help her when she’s decided that she is self-sufficient and independent. It’s difficult for her to learn to accept the help and community of being a part of something.

I like how Em already has a boyfriend and the entire book is not a sappy falling in love romance. It’s about Em and how she has to fight to figure out what she believes in and figure out what is the truth and how she fits into this new world of witches and powers beyond belief.

The teens are realistic to a fault. You grow to love them while at the same time despising them for acting like teenagers! Rowdy drinking, bad decisions, and forgetting how they affect other people. Definitely teenage behavior. They are snarky and sarcastic and blow up in anger over little things, but they will also surprise you with their fortitude and their willingness to try. Em may have anger issues, but she is motivated to learn to control herself. That is a character trait that is really one to look up to, how many of us can say that?

The hint of a relationship between Em and Caiden, like all the gossip wants to point out, is just barely there and I hope it develops more in book two, but alas we also like Sebastian and don’t want to see him drop off! I’m interested to see how Larsen will develop the relationships and romance in the second book.

This novel was published by Cassandra Larsen 08/21/2014 and is available on Amazon here.

 

TL;DR Star Rating: 4.25

 

Links for more information:

Goodreads

Facebook

Book Review: P.A.W.S. by Debbie Manber Kupfer

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P.A.W.S. by Debbie Manber Kupfer

A YA Paranormal Novel published by Rocking Horse Publishing (06/25/13)

 

Summary:

“You never know how strong you really are until you are tested.” (Page 263).

Miri Katz is barely keeping her head above water. She is clumsy and nerdy. She has made no friends at her school and is made fun of by the cool kids almost daily. She is an average girl, maybe even below average because she has no special talents. She is failing math. But then everything changes when, in a moment of panic, the amulet her omama gave her transforms her into a cat. Now everyone wants Miri, but not to be her friend.

 

Keywords:

Animagi, Shapeshifters, Werewolves, Animagi, Revenge, Loyalty, World Domination, Special Powers, Friendship

 

My Review:

I almost put this book down. It started off with a historical fiction spin which was really exciting, but then quickly turned into something else entirely that was barely keeping my attention. The writing was a bit stilted and the main character Miri was much too pathetic to like or relate to when we first met her. “Miri did very little other than read fantasy novels and write in her notebooks. In her classes she was a mediocre student at best, plus she was clumsy and socially awkward.” (Page 65).

But I kept reading. There was something about the story that just wouldn’t let me go. And then the story got so much better. The author sucked me into the clutter of Miri’s life and the deepening intrigue of the multiple subplots that eventually merged into the main story. The author had woven a complicated plot that was not at first visible.

Normally I don’t pick up and read paranormal fantasy, but I liked the story and the characters of P.A.W.S. In a world where there are shape shifters, werewolves, and animagi, Kupfer has done a great job sorting through the possibilities of what life would be like in this kind of environment. There are rules and boundaries that make these abilities much more interesting. Kupfer is great at world building.

The essential story Kupfer tells is the one that hooked me. In the beginning I thought it was about a girl trying to find her place in the world (coming of age) and it was, at least to begin with. Then Kupfer adds in complication after complication and the depth of the plot was what held my attention raptly to the end.
If you want a young adult version of Interview with a Vampire, then P.A.W.S. is your book.

This novel was published by Rocking Horse Publishing June 25th, 2013 and is available on Amazon here.

 

TL;DR Star Rating: 4.25

 

Links for more information:

Goodreads

Debbie Manber Kupfer’s Website

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Book Review: Deny the Moon (Wolfblooded Book 1) by Melissa A Graham

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Deny the Moon (Wolfblooded Book 1) by Melissa A Graham

A Paranormal Drama Novel published by Melissa A. Graham (11/28/14)

 

Summary:

 Harley “Harls” Rayne is just an average girl in an average town in an average family, except for the fact that her parents favor her younger daughter Lorelei. This favoritism spurs Harley to run off with the bad boy biker to become his bike b***h (aka the person who rides behind him on his Harley). But Frank isn’t all that she thought he was and his violent behavior and a culminating incident becomes the final straw for her to steal his bike and run away again. She thinks she’s safe with her new life and new job and new friends, until it all comes crashing down around her once more.

 

Keywords:

 Bikers, gang, packs, werewolves, female protagonist, strippers, abusive relationships

 

My Review:

I went through a sequence of liking and disliking this book. At first I loved it, there was tension from the very first page and the characters were very real. The story was alive from paragraph one and the inciting incident went off without a hitch. Harley turned her life upside down. Then I started to get bogged down in grammatical errors and the gruesome violence that the author described. I was not prepared for the horrific violence, but kudos to the author for bringing out such a strong emotional reaction in me, it is a telltale sign of a good writer, just not what I was expecting in a paranormal young adult story. I was further disgusted by the behavior of Frank and the relationship between Harley and Frank. It was an abusive relationship described in a way to make my toes curl and my hair stand on end, but was interlaced with these extremely steamy descriptions. Graham was putting me through emotional loops, with ups and downs and extremes in between. Be warned fair readers of the violence, abuse, and foul language in this book. Graham depicts the not-so-nice aspects of relationships and the gruesome results of foul play, but she does it in a hypnotizing way that makes you turn the pages with shaking fingers.

I despised Frank so much he made my stomach curdle. He is cold-blooded and cold-shoulders and the definition of the opposite of a gentleman. But he has a soft spot for Harley and it’s hard to hate him too much because he has that undeniably redeeming quality of wanting to protect her (from everybody but himself at least). He is domineering and possessive with a pack-like animalistic quality. He is raw and as Harley sees him: extremely and ruggedly attractive.

Harley is also a hard character to like. She put herself into the bad situation. Don’t girls know that the bad boys are usually bad news? Her most redeeming moments are when she is being protective of her best friend Liz. Harley surprised me with her gumption and ability to leave the situation when it crossed the line. When at first I didn’t like her because she couldn’t take action and kept staying in the abusive relationship, she showed her true strength when she up and left and started over with a confidence not many women would have after her experiences.

This book pushes the boundaries of paranormal with its down to earth grittiness and would appeal to those who enjoy a gritty paranormal story with violence, werewolves, or a female protagonist.

This novel was published by Melissa A. Graham November 28th, 2014 and is available on Amazon here.

 

TL;DR Star Rating: 3.25

 

Links for more information:

Melissa A Graham’s Website

Goodreads Profile

Twitter

Book Review: Haylee Awakened Seed: an illustrated, paranormal, adventure (Haylee and the Traveler’s Stone Book 1) by Lisa Redfern

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Haylee Awakened Seed: an illustrated, paranormal, adventure (Haylee and the Traveler’s Stone Book 1) by Lisa Redfern

An Illustrated/Paranormal/Adventure published by Little Mountain Publishing (07/21/2014)

 

Summary:

 On the eve of Haylee’s 18th birthday, something inside of her changes. She is plagued with an insatiable hunger, a sudden blossoming of womanly beauty, profuse bleeding and a migraine so powerfully painful that it causes her to pass out. She awakens in the hospital with worried nurse and father looking on. After convincing them she is alright, the beginnings of another migraine spur her to steal some clothes and run for isolation, where hunger overcomes her once again and she eventually passes out. The next day, she is home again, convincing her father yet again that she is alright. She begins her new life as a ugly duckling turned swan 18-year old beauty at her high school with a hidden secret.

 

Keywords:

 Paranormal, Animal Kindred, High School, Teen Drama, Awakening

 

My Review:

Haylee is special, but we don’t know what she is turning into, what her secret is. We know that she is changing, but we don’t know much about her before the event, except for several short memories of brief moments in her life that were significant. The author does a very good job of setting up Haylee’s backstory in these briefest of moments even while keeping most of Haylee’s secrets to reveal later on. I don’t know what Haylee’s favorite color or tv show is, but I want to.

Haylee’s ability from early childhood and her newfound secret from the awakening are not described in much detail. Haylee herself seems mostly unaware that her abilities are not normal, only that she is different from the other children because they treat her that way. Even during the change Haylee doesn’t find it at all disturbing, either her voracious hunger or her unusual newfound strength. She has almost no reaction to her predicament or from passing out or bleeding profusely. Does Haylee know something the reader does not?

This was a short quick read that flowed easily up through the abrupt ending that acts as a subtle cliffhanger. There are many questions to answer in Haylee’s continued awakening and adventure.

This novel was published by Little Mountain Publishing 07/21/2014 and is available on Amazon here.

 

TLDR Star Rating: 3.50

 

Links for more information:

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/23155386-haylee-awakened-seed

Website: https://lisaredfern.wordpress.com/