Thursday, August 4, 2011

Coexist by Julia Crane

Published synopsis:

Sixteen-year-old Keegan is struggling to keep her huge secret from her friends--she's an elf, descended from a long line of elves that live in secrecy alongside humans.

In elfin society, mates are predetermined but not allowed to meet until they are eighteen. Against tradition, Keegan's brother Thaddeus told her Rourk's name because his visions warned him she'd need Rourk's protection, especially since Keegan will play a key role in the coming war between the dark and light elves.

Rourk finds himself drawn to Keegan's side every time she thinks his name. He wants to talk to her but remains in the shadows, silently guarding her every time she mentally beckons him. A twist of fate thrusts the two of them together when Rourk is forced to step up his protection and make his presence known.

An ancient prophecy deeply entwines Keegan's family and the future of their society. Somehow they must find a way to thwart fate and win the battle...without losing Keegan. With war brewing, and dark forces aligning, will Keegan and Rourk ever have the life together that they both desire?


Keegan is a typical sixteen year old girl who loves to shop, hang out with friends, and date the cute boys from school. She also happens to be an elf. Keeping her true identity a secret, she enjoys life to the fullest and waits in happy anticipation for the day that she’ll meet the one chosen to be her mate.

Rourk is a warrior through and through. His mind is focused and he knows his importance in elfin society. But every time Keegan thinks his name, he is irresistibly drawn to her. Keeping his identity from her for the next year and a half is going to be slow torture.

With the ultimate battle between light and dark fast approaching, each must face what fate has in store for them.

Coexist by Julia Crane is a fresh take on the YA paranormal genre. Her vision for elf society, as well as other supernatural beings, is unique and charming. Coexist is a fun, quick read that leaves the reader wanting more.

Something that I felt the novel needed, though, was more dialogue. The conversations between characters tended to be a little choppy, with only a few lines in each section. The novel sometimes has the feel of a story being told instead of a story developing through character interaction and detail. It gives the reader a somewhat superficial feel for the characters, especially supporting characters that have important roles in the end. The story line is excellent and the characters are more than likeable, but I would have liked to have seen more development of their personalities through conversation and detailed interaction. This would have given the intriguing twist at the end even more impact. That being said, Julia Crane is an excellent writer and I thoroughly enjoyed my escape into her magical world of elves. I give the book four stars. (I received a review copy from the author.)

Purchase Coexist by Julia Crane

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Merlin's Kin by Everett Coles

Published synopsis:

Unaware of the compulsion put upon them by the sleeping spirit of Merlin the Magician, Francis Steele and his four friends explore the subterranean chambers of an old ruin. Lost, they escape through a door to the outside only to find themselves in a new and unbelievable world where mammoths draw gigantic caravans and two great blue moons light up the night sky. Here too are primitive birds – small, sly and intelligent; unicorns and huge fighting beasts; Big Foot is here and a race of Elf-like creatures as well as the descendants of King Arthur’s knights who long ago lost the ideals of chivalry.

Against this backdrop, the fifteen year old Francis and friends have to find their way back to their own world while making sense of this one and helping Merlin to keep his secret cave hidden.

The story races along with caverns used as a prison, manned bird racing and slave trading all mixed in with magics rediscovered by the heroes.

Welcome to Merlin’s world, explore it, enjoy it, but tread carefully.


Merlin’s world is crumbling around him and he has to use his last resource left to save it. Called from the depths of a crystal cave on another world, five very different children are compelled to leave the safety of their life on Earth and journey to what they had believed were the fabled lands of Camelot. What they find is nothing like the world they left behind. This world is filled with magnificent beasts and magical creatures. Though they once lived in peace, a battle of power now rages between them and the humans, and the children find that very few can be trusted. As they try to discover the reason they were called, and also search for the key that will open the doorway home, the children are led on a magical adventure that is as dangerous as it is exciting.

Merlin’s Kin is a YA paranormal novel that will have young teens flipping the pages to find out what happens next. Packed with action, the world Everett Coles created is an excellent mix of Arthurian lore and fantasy. Villians abound, but along the way, the children find that they have the courage and wisdom of their ancestors, and just maybe, they can help bring this world back to its once peaceable state.With little twists in the plot and on common similes, metaphors, and adages, the author was also able to weave humor in among the action, keeping the dialogue fresh and interesting.

The story line of Merlin’s Kin is an excellent premise and puts a new twist on an old subject. At times, though, the dialogue and scenes seem a bit disjointed as transitions between narrators are not clearly denoted and the story jumps quickly and often between locations. This, however, may be the key to holding the attention of youngsters in a fast paced electronic world where things are constantly changing. I would have enjoyed the book more if the children had received more instruction from Merlin earlier in the book as to why they were there in the first place after his desperate plea for help. As the story progressed, it seemed that the only goal was to get home until quite far into the book. Other than that, I enjoyed Merlin’s Kin and the new world it took me to very much and I give it four stars. I thank the author for giving me a review copy.

Purchase Merlin's Kin by Everett Coles

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Omega's Shepherd by J. T. Brewer

Published synopsis:

Hidden in the midst of human kind is a race of immortals calling themselves Stewards of the White Circle. They live and interact with us and, without our knowing, guide mankind, helping us to achieve our highest potential. The Stewards know a day of apocalyptic destruction will soon take place on earth and they are working feverishly to prepare the world to survive this catastrophic event. Human society sees white-bearded, charismatic James Omega as a renowned biologist, venerated college professor, successful author, and host of a popular nature series on PBS. But, he is also a Steward who has taken on a human identity well fitted to his immortal role of preserving and protecting the world's animal life in a time of shrinking habitats and world pollutions. For some time, he has been on a painstaking mission to find the "Shepherd," the one mortal foreordained to inherit his carefully-protected secrets and who must also take on a unique and perilous destiny. Now, he has found Michael Johns, a student, who seems to have all of the qualifications and appears to be the one long sought for. But how can Omega be certain? The candidate will have to be thoroughly tested without realizing he is being examined. Then, if the lad passes, things won’t get any easier, for the Shepherd does not know about the immortal world. How is Omega going to reveal his true identity without appearing to be afflicted with senile dementia? More difficult still, how is he going to convince the young mortal to accept a task requiring him to sacrifice everything of this world, including, perhaps, his own life? If this were not enough trouble, two more obstacles stand in the way: a demon spirit has taken human form for the sole purpose of destroying everything the Steward is working for; and then there is the matter of a certain strong-willed, red-headed coed who may unknowingly upset the balance of events. Either diversion may prevent or delay Omega's plans from moving forward. Meanwhile, the Master Clock is ticking. The Days of Destruction draw nigh. Life would be so much easier for a Steward if humans did not have their free will.


Omega’s Shepherd follows the seemingly disjointed lives of a famous biologist, a dairy farmer/college student, a botanist/cellist, and a demon. But as the book progresses, their lives are more closely related than any of them knew. Drawn together by cosmic forces, both good and evil, their paths are destined to cross as the world moves closer to a day of apocalyptic destruction.

Omega’s Shepherd by J. T. Brewer brings the reader on a journey through the worlds of endangered animal poaching, underworld violence, academia and wildlife preservation. I found the book to be extremely well written and detailed, and the different story lines keep the reader vested, wondering how things will draw together in the end. I also found some of the secondary characters added an interesting depth to the stories, and they did a good job of giving the reader better insight into the main characters. I’ll admit, though, James Omega had to grow on me. But, by the end, I was firmly a fan. As I read, the book did on occasion seem to meander, making it feel overly lengthy here and there, but most of it kept me glued to it and turning the pages. I do think that the book would have been just as strong, if not stronger, if some of the story lines were less detailed, though.

Filled with vivid imagery, an interesting array of characters and a touch of the supernatural, Omega’s Shepherd is a thought provoking and engaging read. I thank the authors for sharing a review copy with me. I give the book four and a half stars.

Purchase Omega's Shepherd by J. T. Brewer

Monday, August 1, 2011

The Choice by Lorhainne Eckhart

Published synopsis:

Marcie Hollis is a Wiccan, who’s always played by the rules. That’s until she meets Dan McKenzie, a man who she believes to be the knight in shining armor she’s been searching for all her life. However, Dan’s not who he appears to be. He lures Marcie into his world of lies, greed and high-grade marijuana. But fate intervenes on Marcie's illicit trip for Dan to New Orleans, when she's robbed in a crowded airport. The thug not only makes off with her suspicious backpack, he knocks her down, her head slams on the concrete floor, and she loses her memory right in the path of DEA agent, Sam Carre.

After a six-month investigation into the activities of a big time drug dealer crumbles, the same day damming evidence is found stuffed in Sam’s locker – evidence suggesting he’s the notorious leak on the team, Sam jumps on the first plane home. Arriving in a crowded airport in New Orleans - his reputation and loyalty are in question. But even though Sam’s tired, disillusioned and haunted by a past that gives him no peace, he stops to help an attractive stranger when she falls in front of him. Then in an act of chivalry, he takes her to his home until the police can identify her. When questions arise about Marcie, and what she’s involved in, the answers lead them to the exact felons Sam investigated in the Pacific Northwest.

When her illusive memory returns, this complex case pushes them both to explain the unexplainable, and leaves Sam with a haunting question. Was she set up, or was this a game she played? Sam’s forced to make a choice, walk away from the attraction that connects them, or risk losing everything.


Sam and Marcie’s lives intersect at a crucial juncture. Marcie has gotten herself in too deep in the world of high-grade marijuana, and Sam has left the DEA to do his own investigation to discover who set him up as the fall guy in an international drug bust gone bad. Both victims of past love, there is a lot of mistrust between them. But they hold on to each other throughout and keep each other safe.

The Choice by Lorhainne Eckhart has an interesting paranormal twist. Marcie is able to read auras and has several spirit guides. If only she had listened to them earlier, she wouldn’t have ended up in the mess she did. Now she’s given a second chance to change the path her life is on, and she has some difficult choices to make.

The Choice is a book filled with suspense and characters that draw the reader in. The mystery and intrigue keep you turning the pages. Though it is a little cookie cutter suspense at times, the paranormal twist adds to the uniqueness of the book, letting the reader overlook that.

As I read the book, I grew fond of most of the characters, but I admit, I never really clicked with Marcie, unfortunately. She is well portrayed by Lorhainne Eckhart in the beginning as a victim of childhood abuse who puts all her self-worth in the hands of others, one man in particular. A simple thing such as not opening a door for her can send her into a downward spiral of self-doubt and abandonment. As the plot progressed, I hoped her character would grow out of some of this as she developed a sense of self-worth that came from inside of her, as she made better choices. What I got was a woman who simply switched which man’s hands carried her self-esteem. Despite this quirk in her personality, I was still going to give the book a solid four stars.But then the ending of the book was not what I expected. There was too much left hanging. In a good suspense novel, most loose ends are tied up, and if the author is looking to write a sequel, a mystery or two is left to entice the reader to buy the next book. This ending simply confirmed things the characters already knew instead of bringing to light new knowledge. Too much went unsolved. I needed more resolution. I believe that Lorhainne Eckhart is a wonderful author – her technique as a writer is excellent and her plots are engaging and entertaining. In this particular book, though, I felt that some of the subplots could have been left out to leave more room for growth and resolution. I give the book three and a half stars.

Purchased The Choice by Lorhainne Eckhart