Author: Kristy Centeno
Publisher: Inkspell Publishing
Publication Date: March 19, 2016
Genres: Dark Fantasy, Young Adult/New Adult
From the publisher—
He’s been locked away his entire life.
He dreams of freedom.
The only way he can accomplish his goals is by breaking free of the chains tying him to a dark past and gloomy existence. But there’s one catch. He’s not human.
And he’s never set foot outside his jail.
Devoted to saving his peers as well as his own life, he sets out to find the one person that can help him achieve his objectives. He knows where she will be and what she will look like, but what he doesn’t anticipate is the fact he finds himself caring for the girl whose life he’s put at risk, more and more each day.
He has no name.
He has only known hatred and violence before her.
However, she will teach him to have faith in humanity, even if she can’t trust him.
Together they will embark on a journey to bring down a corrupt system responsible for the loss of many innocent lives. But when he finds his feelings compromised, can he still move on knowing that doing so will put an end to the life she once knew? How far is he willing to go to be free?
From the very beginning, this book was a surprise to me. I’d read the publisher’s description but I still wasn’t really prepared for all the elements that came together to make Deliverance such an interesting and compelling story.
While “dark fantasy” is as good a genre as any, this really is a blend of dark fantasy, mystery, romance and even science fiction, not to mention a large dollop of action adventure. Plot and characterization are equally important and even the less savory players have a strong presence.
Imagine, if you will, spending your entire life closed up and removed from the rest of the world. That’s Tiger’s whole existence and he knows nothing about normal living. Occasionally, I found this to be a little unworkable for the story because it’s hard to fathom how such isolation could still result in a fairly knowledgeable and sane person but it’s also what makes this young man so appealing. His very innocence of the ways of the world have made him a kind, thoughtful individual rather than the mentally troubled and unpleasant person most of us would expect.
Katrina, on the other hand, is a no-nonsense young woman who generally avoids unnecessary attention and, yet, when she’s confronted with a difficult and certainly perilous situation, she chooses to help Tiger. She is aware of the potential dangers but, essentially, Katrina believes in doing the right thing and it’s that sort of idealism that makes her who she is, not to mention her strong devotion to her grandmother, Rose. Rose herself is the third character who pulled me into the story and wouldn’t let me go.
When all is said and done, Deliverance is all about good versus evil and, as such, I was intrigued and the story never let me down. Ms. Centeno has come up with a premise that’s a bit mindboggling and fleshed it out with memorable people; I’ll look forward to more of her work.
Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, August 2016.
About the Author
Kristy Centeno is the author of the Secrets of the Moon saga and Keeper Witches series. She has always had a passion for books and after years of being an avid reader, she decided to transform her desire to write into a reality and thus, her first novel was born. When she’s not busy taking care of her five children or holding down the fort, she finds time to sit and do what she loves the most: writing.
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Beth Lyon Barnett
Prairie Acres Press, March 2015
Will grows up in a shack tucked away outside of the town of Pecan Grove in the Ozarks. His father is an abusive alcoholic who causes Will to quit talking when he is five years old, and his mother has been beaten down by abuse, ailments, and life. Will’s rescuer is his part Native-American granny who instills in him a sense of right and wrong and inner strength that allows him to survive.
Some of the town leaders, members of the local fundamentalist church, and several uneducated hotheads on neighboring farms are connected with white supremacist organizations. The towering white cross on Adam’s Needle was placed there by the Ku Klux Klan. Incidents of teenage pregnancy and the drug culture are growing among the poverty-stricken families.
A young Jewish couple, scientists from K.U. dedicated to improving agriculture and restoring wildlife in the area, buy a neighboring farm. A gay couple moves to town to run the florist shop. Then, the church’s pastor retires and is replaced by a phony preacher bent on making his reputation by stirring up trouble with his xenophobic interpretations of Bible passages that appeal to the poor farmers and townsfolk ready to blame their situations on something or someone. Predictable trouble.
Mass hysteria can be caused by unscrupulous, power-hungry leaders anywhere. This book is both an engrossing story unique to Will’s Ozark community and also a universal phenomenon. It’s both timely and ancient. Compare it to Winter’s Bone but with a political edge.
Reviewed by Joyce Ann Brown, March 2016.
Author of cozy mysteries: Catastrophic Connections and Furtive Investigation, the first two Psycho Cat and the Landlady Mysteries.
Lee S. Hawke
Blind Mirror Publishing, March 2016
From the publisher—
What would you sell yourself for?
Madeline knows. She’s spent the last eighteen years impatiently waiting for her Auctioning so she can sell herself to MERCE Solutions Limited for a hundred thousand credits. But when the Auctioneer fails to call her and two suits show up at her doorstep, Madeline discovers there are far worse bargains to be made.
So when your loved ones are in danger, there’s a bounty on your head and your entire city might turn out to be a lie… what would you sell yourself for?
In recent times, we in the US have come to have a rather jaundiced view of corporations, particularly the big ones, and we’ve largely lost the naive faith our parents and grandparents had that corporations cared about people. That doesn’t mean there aren’t good ones that DO have an altruistic bent but the moneycrunching type seem to be prevalent. Even with our mounting distrust, though, I don’t think we’ve anticipated the theme that Lee S. Hawke has built her story around in Dissolution.
How repugnant is the idea that our children can be bought and sold by corporations with the true parents aiding and abetting the process? I immediately felt a good deal of empathy for Maddie not only because of the auction that’s happening but also because she doesn’t know how wrong this is, never having experienced any other lifestyle. She’s an interesting girl, quite appealing, and I came to like her quite a lot despite her blind dependence on the existing system (and imagine how unromantic it must be to have to pay to spend time with your boyfriend!).
More than anything else, I found Dissolution to be somewhat incomplete. There’s no real worldbuilding and that’s pretty important in a tale like this one, a way to let the reader know how we got to such a point in our future and what propelled the corporations to a position of absolute control. The lack of such information is understandable in a novella but I’m sure I would have enjoyed Maddie’s story more in a full-length novel with space enough to provide the backstory and flesh out the characters more.
All that said, I do want to know more and I appreciated Dissolution enough to hope Ms. Hawke will bring Maddie back in the near future.
Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, June 2016.
Jessica Frances, January 2016
Also available in trade paperback
From the author—
I was raised in a world where humans no longer rule.
In the past, we made a terrible mistake by creating a new species we thought would serve us as our army, which led to our downfall.
There was a war, we lost, and many lives were massacred. It was the end of life as we knew it and the beginning of a hell we were now trapped in. We became enslaved to what we now called Superiors, becoming pets to them, simply there to entertain.
In a world so miserable, I managed to do the unthinkable: I fell in love. But even that was doomed, because to love a Superior was forbidden.
What the rest of the Superiors didn’t know was how deeply a human could love or how resilient we became when we were hurt.
The Superiors never could have imagined an uprising, which was why they never saw it coming.
Humans deserved to be free, and I would stop at nothing to deliver that promise.
My name is Tilly, and I am still alive with one sole purpose: to begin a revolution.
I had been raised to believe humans were worthless. We owned them and controlled them, and when we were done with them, we threw them away. Therefore, I never thought I would ever feel more for Tilly than disinterest. I never expected to want to save her.
It was forbidden for a Superior to love a human. No one had ever crossed that line, but I did. I fell madly in love with her, so it was no surprise how we ended up.
I was raised to be a soldier, and that was what I was always going to be. However, I was not a soldier for the Superiors, not anymore.
I became a soldier for humans, and I would stop at nothing to help them. They deserved to be free, and I would die protecting them.
My name is Johnny, and I am here with one sole purpose: to finish a revolution.
Ever since man first came up with the idea of developing a sentient artificial intelligence, we’ve been both fascinated and fearful. The benefits of such a creation are obvious but the downside is murky with consequences, not least of which is the possibility that these AI creations could become more powerful than humans and essentially take our place. Such is the world of Revolution and while the Superiors are not AI, the concept and the dangers are the same.
This is also a tale of the continual fight for human rights although in a setting far different from any of those similar battles being fought around our world today, yesterday and, no doubt, tomorrow.
Tilly and Charlotte, as pet/slave and mistress, have a unique relationship, caring for each other very much. When Tilly’s life in the family is reaching its end, Charlotte is the one who steps forward in defiance of her father, General Joseph Knight, to give Tilly a chance at a new existence. The two girls have a bond that shouldn’t be and it can’t be broken.
While Joseph is as cruel and abusive as any Superior can be, his son, Johnny, sees things…and Tilly…from a different perspective and the two find themselves with feelings for each other that simply must not be. Together, they’ll not only seek a path to happiness but also a way to change the future.
Ms. Frances is a new author to me and I’m happy to have “found” her. She has a way with words that drew me in and kept me riveted from the opening lines until the very end and her characterizations are vivid and compelling. Each of these people has strengths and weaknesses that make them stand out and I won’t soon forget them. The other thing the author did that I greatly appreciated was to create a story that is dark and yet ends with hope.
Revolution is a standalone so there’s no need to wait for the next book in a series and I’m grateful for that. I enjoy series but, every now and then, it’s nice to have a self-contained story. Ms. Frances has a nice backlist so I’ll have plenty of choices before her next book comes out.
Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, May 2016.
Title: Confessions of a Fat Girl
Author: Holly Dae
Publication Date: July 24, 2015
Genre: General Fiction
From the author—
Smart and ambitious Season Minett was homeschooled, got accepted into college at 16, graduated with a B.A. in English at 20, got a job at a prestigious magazine at 21, and isn’t afraid to go after what she wants. Twenty-two-year-old Season has it made and everyone knows it. Except Season herself.
People can gush over her all day long, but Season knows they’re just being nice. In reality, she’s accomplished nothing. She doesn’t work hard enough, can’t get her book published, and worst of all at 5’6, 180 pounds with a thirty-two inch waist, a forty-four inch hip, and arms too big for her body, she’s fat and ugly. She’s such a disappointment that after her mother divorced Season’s dad, she went to live with her new, younger boyfriend and left Season to mother the rest of her siblings. So Season is quite bewildered when the guy she sees every weekend at the bookstore shows serious interest in her. And she ends up liking him. A lot.
Season’s not naive enough to think love will solve all her problems though. In fact, love seems to be making everything worse because her food obsession is growing more and more out of her control. But that’s impossible. There’s nothing wrong with counting calories and wanting to be thin. There’s nothing wrong with trying to be as perfect as everyone thinks she is. A fat girl can’t develop an eating disorder, let alone have one. Right?
Much is made of eating disorders these days and, fortunately, it seems as though at least some people are fighting back against the drive to be ultra-thin. Still, there are far too many, mostly girls and young women, who are compelled to reach for what they think is the perfect body image. Such a young woman is Season.
Season is a prickly sort and, once you know her story, it’s easy to understand why she has so much trouble letting other people into her life. She has learned that she doesn’t have a lot of reason to trust and she also feels very inadequate. On the whole, Season is a woman with very little self-esteem so it’s not surprising that, at first, she doesn’t respond well when a man named Victor approaches her in a cafe.
Victor is the kind of guy you wish every insecure woman could meet, genuinely nice and not afraid to stand for what he believes in (although he was way too chill during a certain gun incident). Unfortunately, Season is not so likeable and I found it hard to connect with her. She’s so inconsistent, for one thing, blowing hot and cold about nearly everything including her own image of herself. I find it really hard to believe that any woman who’s so hung up on what and how much she eats would be ready, willing and able to expose her body to a man she’s known for about five minutes. Also, Season is really rude to everyone, to the point of being tiresome. Still, she has her good moments and an important part of her story is watching her mellow just a bit.
Despite my reservations, especially about Season’s personality, this is an interesting story, unlike any I’ve read before, and I’m interested in trying some of Ms. Dae’s other work. After all, just because one book doesn’t resonate with me doesn’t mean another one won’t and I’m sure many readers will like Confessions of a Fat Girl 😉
Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, August 2015.
About the Author
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Title: The Letting
Author: Cathrine Goldstein
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Publication Date: December 15, 2014
Genres: YA/NA, Dystopian
From the publisher—
What if the Devil doesn’t know he’s the Devil?
This is the question Veronica “Ronnie” Billings poses to Phoenix, her sworn enemy, the leader of the Peaceful Revolution, and the one she loves.
Kidnapped by Phoenix’s rebels, Ronnie learns how wrong she has been. She had no idea that her patriotism was wasted on a corrupt government. Ronnie was proud to be a Leader; taking hundreds of harvested girls to the Letting facility. After all, she was saving them from future Couplings and bringing them to the safety of the New World. Or so she thought…
Confused, Ronnie realizes the only way to discover the truth is to trust her heart. Together, Phoenix and Ronnie devise a plan to stop their corrupt government and preempt the dangerous rebel coup which is approaching. But when their plan goes awry, will Ronnie be strong enough to save Phoenix, her country, and herself?
When we first meet Ronnie, she’s a sort of camp counselor but this camp is unlike any we’ve ever seen. For starters, the kids (all young girls) are housed together by blood type, the first hint we have that this may not be a wonderful place. Blood type O, by the way, is almost extinct and that matters because O is the universal donor.
We can’t be sure in the beginning precisely what’s going on because the author has created a maze of facts and suppositions but, once I started to catch on, I was enthralled by the premise and by Ronnie herself. This girl, kept in the camp for years, ostensibly because there’s something wrong with her blood, has made a name for herself as uniquely adept with the children who need to be prepared for the Letting. The Letting is an ordeal but the rewards are great—so they say—and Ronnie has never questioned her part.
Until one night when all will go topsy-turvy and Ronnie will learn what she’s really been doing.
I felt a real attachment to Ronnie and to a number of other characters. Phoenix, in particular, is an appealing young man and I thought his relationship with Ronnie grew naturally, only moderately taking on the dreaded aspect of insta-love. Ronnie became a force to be reckoned with right before my eyes while holding on to her essential kindness and other players, while not nearly so “nice”, shall we say, were vividly drawn and, in more than one case, made chills run up and down my spine.
Worldbuilding is not entirely clear but that’s okay because we haven’t heard all the story yet. I don’t especially want to know all the details at this point; I’m hoping a second book is in the works and the author will share more 😉
Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, December 2014.
About the Author
Whatever the reason for my new infatuation, some things remain constant — like my love for: coffee (although sadly, it’s now decaf); yoga; Luna bars (I am petitioning for them to bring back Chocolate Raspberry!); running in my neighborhood; Hemingway; Bukowski… and, above all, my husband and my girls.
I am the author of the bestselling novel, Sleeping With Mortals: The Story of a New York Mistress, and I’m also a playwright. I have my B.A. in English and my M.A. in Theatre.
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A New Adult Contemporary series
with all the romance you’d expect, but
the killer—and lovers—that you don’t.