paranormal

Destiny

Destiny
Set in Australia this YA paranormal romance is the story of Lili who, while looking for her destiny, finds herself in a world filled with vampires and ghosts. Destiny: ‘The predetermined or inevitable path a person must follow.’ When nineteen year-old Lili McIntyre decides to trade her California summer for a mid-winter visit to Australia, it’s in hope of finding inspiration and direction in the country where her father was born. But when she arrives in Melbourne, the first thing she finds is the last thing she’s looking for—a brooding man who makes her heart race every time she sees him. Against her better judgement, Lili finds herself drawn into a relationship that tests her very beliefs about life, reality and fantasy. But the real test is how to follow her destiny as she faces some of the hardest decisions of her life.

Reviewed 

Lili McIntyre just ended a difficult relationship and is now on a much-needed summer vacation to Melbourne, Australia for a few months. Her aunt Debs welcomes her Down Under and provides her with a chance to clear her head. On the plane, Lili meets Claire, and that new friendship introduces her to more than she dreamed of. Though Claire doesn’t know it, her new boyfriend, Tom, has an enormous secret. The oblivious Claire introduces Lili to Sam, Tom’s close friend. As a natural double-date, Sam and Lili find themselves thrown together and soon discover a growing attraction.

Soon, Lili discovers why Sam and Tom behave so strangely. They are vampires! Suddenly a world of the supernatural opens up to Lili and her heart will lead her to help Sam keep his secret identity and defend the city from conflicts begun in ages past.

Destiny is an enjoyable book with a fun take on the vampire genre, full of characters created with affection and care. Lili’s struggle to determine her future and the pressures from home struck a chord with me. She feels the urgency to decide her future and move forward, although the hugeness of the decision overwhelms her.

The American/Australian crossover made me wonder through the tale about the author’s origins, but I think I know. Some telling word choice clued me in. I loved hearing about life in Melbourne and all the interesting trips the characters took nearby. Though some of Melbourne’s history appears in the book, I would have like to learn more.

I appreciated the potential for the tale to discuss the subject of abuse. I think that young women, especially, need reinforcement that abuse is real, encouragement that they don’t have to endure it, and illustrations of what it really looks like. Plenty of speakers and nonfiction writers share about abuse, but tales of people enduring and overcoming it reach us in a different, sometimes more personal way.

Lili wonders through the tale why she isn’t scared that Sam is a vampire. I know why: it’s because none of the vampires in this book are the slightest bit scary. Romance and good looks trump blood-drinking. Any slip of the teeth is slight and polite to the extent that Claire never once discovers their identity. Even the scenes that should be thrilling and terrifying lose their teeth because of the detached and passive way the author describes them. My take is that the trouble lies in the author’s unwillingness to make the characters suffer. She loves them too much. Any problem is short and quickly resolved without the pain that blood-drinking romantic interests should pose.

Aside from the pressured calm of the tale, I enjoyed the book and look forward to the second book in the trilogy to find the answers to the problems that Lili hasn’t solved yet. Four stars.

Chasing the Dead

Chasing the Dead
A revengeful spirit tracks Deacon and Madrid across New Mexico, seeking the Indian maiden traveling with them. The story is set in 1886 and is a western (paranormal) romance.    

Reviewed by Awesome Indies Assessors

March 2, 2015

Fantastically Original

What a fantastically original plot and story idea! If you like westerns, American history, the native American Indians or just want a read with some seriously sexy Bannister boys (cowboys!!), well then this one is for you.

The plot moved along at a cracking pace, it kept me interested and had plenty of action. There are bigger plot arcs that aren’t really finished in this one, which gives Keta plenty of opportunity to bring these boys and girls back for more. The female characters, Maddie and Sacheen are headstrong and know themselves well. It was a lovely thing to see strong women in a romance novel with such strong males. This was just as important as their softer emotions. Despite the heroine needing to be rescued, it wasn’t because she was helpless, like a lot of bodice-ripper romance.

The mixing of Indian folklore/beliefs with Mexican and Christian beliefs worked really well. Given the setting, and the little Indian translation list at the start I was initially concerned that there’d be too much in Indian or Mexican and I’d miss plot points because I don’t speak/read either. Thankfully, Keta took care of me, and the different languages ended up giving the story a lovely exotic spice, without being too much. There wasn’t any point where I didn’t understand what was going on.

There were a couple of points that might need a bit of attention (hence the 3.5-4 star rating). It seemed too easy for Uday to lure Sacheen away (a little too convenient that Maddie knew the answers but it’d slipped her mind to share with anyone else), and the story became a little rushed at the ending. It didn’t draw enough of a picture for the reader in the final battle/action scenes before zooming to the ending. A little more exposure to the last action scenes would give them greater weight. As they stand it came across as a bit ‘tacked on’ to the other story arc (Maddie and Deacon).

Minor things really, just the last rough edges of an otherwise enjoyable read. The manuscript needs another once over, to catch some minor typos, but it was mostly really well written.

I would recommend it for romance lovers, paranormal fans and general readers who are interested in an engaging plot, strong characters and action with a fantastic setting.

Sunspots

Sunspots
A love story of loss and redemption and the ghosts that haunt our lives and our houses. Aurora Goldberg Stein is lost in grief. Her beloved husband, Jake Stein, has just died in a tragic car accident and her sorrow is overwhelming. But is this really the end? Perhaps, perhaps not. She hears his voice. She sees his ghostly presence. She travels back in time to another life with Jake. What is going on? What is the message? Jake Stein, a dashing Texan, sweeps Aurora off her feet and changes her life. A Brooklyn born actress, she moved  to NYC and does temporary work to pay her bills. On this particular assignment, she accidentally meets Jake Stein, who is her dance with destiny. Leaving everything she knows, she marries him and moves to Austin, Texas. No longer struggling to make ends meet, Aurora wiles away her time bored and lonely, and trying to recapture the excitement she once had with this man. And then suddenly, it’s all over, her life, her future is gone. Vanished are all her hopes and dreams. But destiny comes in many forms, and when Aurora moves to a new house, she discovers that the previous owner has never left. The ghostly presence of Viola Parker looms large and becomes Aurora’s guide through time revealing to her the mistakes she’s made with Jake Stein through the centuries. This time, maybe this time, Aurora can get it right.

Reviewed

Sunspots is a moving, beautifully-written mystery about the devastating consequences of obsessive love.

5 Stars

 

Bell’s elegant prose not only describes the events and scenery of this self destructive love story in riveting detail, but also skilfully evokes the atmosphere both internal and external. The structure of the story is very clever. At the beginning of the book, our empathy is aroused for grieving widow Aurora Goldberg. It appears that she had the perfect marriage to charming Jake, but as the story progresses, we and Aurora discover Jake’s secrets, so shocking to her that she is forced to re-evaluate their love. Through eyes opened by the truth—and helped along by the visions provided by a ghost—she sees that all was not as rosy as she had believed. Not only that, but the legacy he left her could be life-threatening.

Popular fiction tends to romanticise love where one looses themselves in the other, or feels completed by the other, or feels they cannot live or be happy without the other; Sunspots takes this kind of notion to its extreme to show how disempowering an obsession with the object of our love actually is. Obsession not only blinds you, it makes you weak, needy and boring. Your partner is likely to turn elsewhere to get away from your clinging, especially if you end up harping on at him that he never gives you any attention anymore. It’s dangerous to let your whole life revolve around one person, for when they leave you—by death as it is in this case—you are devastated. As the book progresses we come to see how much Aurora has brought her crippling grief upon herself. She literally looses herself in this obsession.

Bell brings a metaphysical element to the story with the addition of Viola Parker, the ghost of the sister of Aurora’s last incarnation. With her help, Aurora sees that this pattern of obsessive love and betrayal by Jake—in his previous incantations—has been repeated in past lifetimes that ended with Aurora’s suicide. Viola urges her to take a different path in this life and cut the cycle of self-destruction.

Bell deals with interesting themes here, that we tend to repeat patterns until we make a conscious effort to change them,  that the past can be changed by actions in the present, and that when someone ‘saves’ us with love, in a healthy, balanced relationship we also to some extent ‘save’ them.

Highly recommended to anyone who likes psychological depth in their romance. I give it 5 stars and a place on the Awesome Indies list.

 

Pro Luce Habere

Pro Luce Habere
What if the legend isn’t simply a cautionary tale of good and evil, a warning about trading one’s soul for eternal life? What if, instead, it’s a misinterpretation of the unimaginable – something true that has only always overlooked the fundamental truth? In 1212 Provence, a boy filled with hope sets out on a pilgrimage to discover the mysteries of his faith, only to find himself become part of a dark and even more mysterious myth, born millennia ago. Forced to kill so he might live, but cherishing the lives he knows intimately in death, he is both shaped and haunted by the battle between light and darkness, within his victims and within himself. Amidst the inquisitions of the Middle Ages, two history-changing revolutions, world war and the paradoxes of modernity, an immortal being struggles to determine who really is the monster, as he journeys through time toward solving the mystery behind a legend as old as mankind. Look beyond fiction and folklore and believe again. Volumes I & II combined in one book. As a prequel, Book II: Pro Luce Habere may be read before Book I: On the Soul of a Vampire.

Reviewed by Awesome Indies

June 7, 2012

5 Stars

Wow, another instalment in the On the Soul Series about the beautiful French vampire Valery.  If you don’t like vampire stories, then read on, because this is nothing like the usual vampire fare. This series reminds me more of Dostoevsky than Stephanie Meyers or any other contemporary vampire author.  It’s a long time since I’ve read the Russian masters, but the intensity, passion and depth of philosophy in Krisi Keley’s books give me the same kind of feeling. These are powerful and thought provoking books and a must-read for anyone interested in philosophy or the wide sweep of European and American history, especially as it relates to the pervading ideas of the various time periods.

It’s the exquisite character of Valery that drives these books, eloquent, intelligent, deeply contemplative, witty and beautiful both inside and outside. He was a young man with tremendous faith in God when he was turned into a vampire against his will in thirteenth century France, just after the Children’s Crusade in 1212. Volume one of Pro Luce Habere chronicles his outer journey from that time through centuries of life in Europe, and the inner journey of his struggle to reconcile his belief in God and the morals inherent in that belief with the fact that he must kill in order to live.

Volume two continues from there and takes Valery to the New World of America in its early days of colonisation. During the civil war, he uses his abilities to take away the suffering of soldiers who are dying in such pain that they beg for death. To them, he is an angel. We follow him back to Europe for a time and through the two terrible world wars of the twentieth century. Valery continues to suffer over the nature of his existence, feeling that he is an evil monster, while it is clear to those who love him that his soul is full of the light of love and compassion.  His unquenchable search for truth and the depth of his love are extremely moving.

The purity of Valery’s love will make you question your assumptions about the role of sex in a love relationship. Keley’s vampires have no desire for sex, just for the knowing of a soul that they feel at the moment they take a life. It is this, more than the blood, which sustains them and drives their blood lust. The purist of souls ignite Valery’s love, and his relationships with those who, even though he fights against it, inevitably become his ‘children’ are extraordinary.

His pain is that he can’t overcome his overwhelming desire to completely know the mortals he loves, as he only can at the moment of their death at his hands, or to loose them to a mortal death. So, even though he knows he is condemning them to the everlasting suffering of a pure soul fighting the evil of his existence, he turns them, then suffers with remorse as they fight the same inner battle he does.

The first book was set in the present day, and books two and three are Valery’s memories as he lies dying in the arms of his beloved at the end of book one. At the end of this book, we return to that point.

These books are deeply moving, and if you like an intense, passionate character, extraordinary writing and have a fascination for history, then you may become a fan. I give it 5 stars and look forward to the next instalment.

 

Reviewed by Tahlia Newland

5 Stars

This is an extraordinary work of fiction. The central character is a vampire, but this is not your usual vampire story; it is an amazing way of looking at history through the eyes of a man who has lived through it – all of it. The depth of characterisation, the historical detail, the questions raised and the quality of the prose are all exemplary. When I think of the books that have moved me the most, this is top of the list.

On the Soul of a Vampire

On the Soul of a Vampire
The answer’s neither in blood nor life; the key to the mystery is in the human soul. Keley handles words with authority and skill… but more than that, she writes with a genuine spiritual and psychological depth I've rarely encountered in modern fiction. –Werner Lind, Lifeblood   For some it takes a lifetime to discover their raison d’être. Imagine searching for eight centuries. In 1997 Philadelphia, 800 year old vampire Valéry Castellane comes face to face with is reason to be, in the person of Angelina Lacroix, a young mortal woman whose understanding of immortality is about to change all he’s known as truth and which will take him, and his readers, on a journey into the human soul. Discovering a mortal who not only senses his presence, but also somehow knows his name, Valéry becomes obsessed with solving the mystery of how this might be. Confronting the girl, after learning she has knowledge of his entire existence, he is stunned and frustrated when Angelina seems more intent on convincing him he’s not the soulless monster of myth than she is with providing an explanation. Unable to take her life or give her immortality, Valéry embarks on a journey with Angelina that not only take them from Philadelphia to his childhood home in the Provençal Alps, but on a journey into his greatest hopes and dreams, fears and disappointments, and into the past that has shaped him. A novel about faltering faith and never-ending hope, On the Soul of a Vampire will not only alter everything you think you know about vampires, it will change the way you see your very soul.

Ed Undead – The Chronicles of a Teenage Zombie

Ed Undead – The Chronicles of a Teenage Zombie
Categories: ,
Author:
Publisher:
Published: May 18, 2012
For Ed Kirk, your, normal sixteen year-old high school student, the world changed the day he awoke to a plague that had turned almost everyone around him into flesh-eating zombies. Now, fighting the virus himself, he must find a way out of the small town he used to call home. Fleeing from the hordes of living dead, he and his girlfriend, Lisa Jane, fight for survival and cling to the hope that they can find help and a cure for the virus that is slowly eating away inside Ed, and that will eventually turn him into one of the undead creatures they are desperately trying to escape. Can they find a way to survive before it’s too late?

Approved by Awesome Indies

4 Stars

As expected, zombies populate this book, complete with rotting flesh, sunken eyes and mindless shuffling gait. They’re not my favourite characters, but if you like zombies, you’ll like Ed Undead. It’s a strong story that never bores, and Ed, the 16 year old almost Zombie, shows us what true courage is.

The story is set in a post apocalyptic world, where a plague has turned most of the population into zombies whose only concern is finding some living flesh to tear into to satiate their hunger. Ed has the virus but hasn’t turned into a zombie – yet. He hopes he never will and aims to find someone with a cure, if there is one, before the virus takes him over the edge. The living dead are after him and he and his girlfriend, Lisa Jane are running and fighting for their survival.

They team up with a mother and her child, and for a short while with Ed’s rival from school. Lisa sends him off when he shows himself too cowardly to help her out of a sticky situation. Throughout the story, Ed has flashbacks to life as it was and these are very well handled. He faces zombies that were once people he knew and the remains of others who became their food. It’s gruesome stuff, but the writing keeps a good balance between description of the details and not over doing the horror. His grief as he recalls what he has lost is real and moving.

The author called it a paranormal romance, but I’d call it urban fantasy. Ed and his girlfriend are in love, but that doesn’t make it a romance. This is more action based than character and relationship based, and the main issue is escaping the zombies and the strange ‘boss’ that some of them refer to, rather than overcoming obstacles to a relationship as in a romance.

Regardless of what genre you stick it in, it’s a good yarn and I think boys in particular would like it. The two main characters are strong, but I would have liked to have got to know the mother and daughter better, and Sam Ed’s little sister seemed a bit silly for a ten year old. I think her character could be developed further.

I give it 4 stars and a place in the Awesome Indies listing.  Ed and Lisa are great characters to spend time with, even if it is in a zombie infested town.

Don’t Judge A Book By Its Magic

Don’t Judge A Book By Its Magic
Colleen is a normal girl. She loves shoes, chick flicks, and cute clothes. The only thing abnormal about her is that she’s just become a magician; not the disappearing bunny kind, but the power-shooting-out-of-your-hands kind of magician. Her problem now is that she doesn’t believe in magic. Well, she believes in it. She’s seen it shoot out of her own hands, but she opposes it in a moral sense; no hexes, no spells, no incantations, no potions, no amulets, no tomes, no casting circles, no eye of newt, none of that. She has to be very clear because people pressure her about it. Whatever they say about “how it’s done,” this is a morality issue for her and she will not cave in to their pressure. Join Colleen at Seattle Pacific Regional University, where she becomes a part of The Convergence. She’ll learn the freaky side of Work Study, Financial Aid, and Vyxhepiocht. Seriously, she’s never seen so many hot guys. It’s going to be wild!

Reviewed by Meredith

This was an enjoyable book for the most part – it made me laugh and smile a fair amount. It’s very light – not for someone looking for deep subject matter.

This story at first reminded me of K.M. Shea’s “My Life at the Magical Beings’ Rehabilitation Center” because of the age of the main character, the light/witty inner commentary, and having to learn the rules of a magical society. But that similarity only lasted so long – my one complaint about the book is that it quickly becomes focused almost solely on which guy the heroine will choose….there’s not much else driving the plot. Which is disappointing because I think there’s a lot that could have been made of this set up. That said, I truly did enjoy it. I’m not sure if I’ll read the next one or not.

Note – I received this book free from Awesome Indies Books in return for an honest review.