Soulmated by Shaila Patel

Soulmated by Shaila Patel

Title: Soulmated (Joining Souls #1)
Author: Shaila Patel
Published: Jan 24th2017
Length: 300 pgs
Genre: Urban Fantasy, Romance
Publisher: Month9Books
This Review is a Part of the 2020 Coastal Magic Featured Author Reading Challenge

Soulmated is a YA Urban Fantasy Romance is the first book in Shaila Patel’s Joining Souls series. At the beginning of the read things went a little slow for me; the book was interesting, but it took me a little while to get wholly engrossed into the world of the book. The writing is of excellent quality the plot was thoroughly mapped out, and it shows. 

Soulmated takes place in present-day Cary, North Carolina. The empath abilities and the love interest puts this book firmly into both the Urban Fantasy and Romance genres. Our main characters are Laxshmi Kapadia and Liam Whelan. They are both high school students with way too much on their shoulders. Liam has recently become the head of his Family and Laxshmi is stuck catering to an overbearing mom who seems determined to secure financial stability through her daughter with no regard to Laxshmi’s happiness. 

Soulmated is told in first person POV through our main character’s Laxshmi and Liam in the alternating chapter format, this format doesn’t always work, but Patel manages to continue the story from chapter to chapter and pov to pov without skipping a beat, the story flows fluidly no matter who’s pov we are reading from. I’m starting to think I prefer this format as opposed to the style where each pov is told in separate books 

Laxshmi is an Indian-American girl being raised by a traditional Indian mom; her mom is very strict and comes off as caring only for herself; she’s the villain of Laxshmi’s story. Liam is Irish, and he’s searching for the “ONE” he’s an empath. Empath royalty actually and he’s just become the head of his family. He is trying to find his one. Looking for the soulmate who will both increase his power, and enrich his life is taking a toll on him, after so many years and so many failures he’s got a bad taste in his mouth for the whole thing, it’s become a chore, and he’s nearly convinced it’s nothing but a while goose chase.

When Laxshmi and Liam meet their worlds collide, and there are several forces, determined to keep them apart, jealous classmates, racist, overbearing family members and factions within the empath community. This book mostly focuses on the necessary world-building, characterization, and the development of Liam and Laxshmi’s relationship, but by the end of the book, you’re hooked. Patel hit’s hard with a cliff hanger, so I highly recommend having book two on hand and ready to go.

Here There are Monsters By Amelinda Bérubé

Here There are Monsters By Amelinda Bérubé

Title: Here There are Monsters
Author: Amelinda Bérubé
Published: August 6th2019
Length: 352 pgs
Genre: YA/Horror
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Here There are Monsters by Amelinda Bérubé is an incredible work of Literary Prose. Although marketed as a Young Adult Horror, after reading it I’d say it falls more under YA, mystery, Thriller and it was like nothing I’ve ever read before. The story follows Skye our 16-year-old protagonist, as she fights to find a balance between who she is, who she is pretending to be, and who her baby sister Diedre wants her to be. When Dierdre goes missing Skye fights hard against the disruption of her carefully planned life, but old habits are hard to break. When Skye decides to forgo her carefully scripted life to save her sister, it releases the darkest parts of her character. When she finally finds Deirdre, she’s forced to decide once and for all who she wants to be.

Bérubé is a fantastic writer who never misses an opportunity for imagery; she does not do “plain” every sentence is laced without unique flair. If Bérubé wanted to relay to the reader that it was a sunny day she would instead say something along the lines of, the day is lit by the soothing warmth, on the rays of the systems brightest star. A sentence I was inspired to write myself while reading the novel and experiencing the mastery of words Bérubé has accomplished. Each line grabs the reader holding them at the edge of curiosity while managing to be the least predictable novel I have ever read.

Although my go-to genre is usually Urban Fantasy, the skill, in which this novel is written makes it a warm, poetic, and lyrical story despite being a thriller and inspires me to read more prose. I recommend this book to lovers of prose; I think fans of Stony River or The Girl on The Train will find this novel an interesting an enjoyable read.

Here There are Monsters by Amelinda Bérubé is a Forthcoming Title from Sourcebooks Fire which will be released on August 6th, 2019.

Dread Nation (Dread Nation, #1) By Justina Ireland

Dread Nation (Dread Nation, #1) By Justina Ireland

Title: Dread Nation (Dread Nation, #1)
Author: Justina Ireland
Published: April 3rd, 2018
Length: 464 pgs.
Format Read: Ebook
Genre: YA, Fantasy, Historical Fiction
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Rating: ★★★★★ 

Dread Nation is in the first in a new series By Author Justina Ireland. The books is a YA, Fantasy, Historical fiction; taking place in the Civil War era, America Dread Nation ask the question what if?

Ireland answers it realistically. What if the Zombie Apocalypse happened during the civil war? I think we could all imagine some very different outcomes as a result. And that’s just what Ireland has done with her book Dread Nation.

How would our white counterparts have treated us if the zombie apocalypse occurred during the civil war? The current state of race relations in our country today tells me Irelands book gets it right. Dread Nation covers many of the injustices faced by African Americans during that period in history with an undead twist.

Loopholes in the 13th Amendment, allowed free negroes to be forced back into slavery after the civil war. And the cruel experimentation on negroes for the advancement of white society. The school of thought that blacks were not of the same species as whites. Using religion to justify slavery, and passing for white and the flipside dynamic to have skin which is “passing” light. Ireland dug into the historical Archives. There’s even some mention of the Native American boarding schools. Irelands fantastical take on slavery and racism during the Civil War era is as accurate as it is refreshing, interesting, and tasteful making Dread Nation an engaging and enlightening read.

In this version, of the civil war era United States; the Native and negro re-education act led to Negroes and Native Americans children aged 12, and older being rounded up and sent to boarding schools. At the schools, they were trained to fight zombies and eventually become servants for the whites who could afford to “employ” them upon graduation. The story hints that most of the Native Americans ran away from the schools. Still, a native American character does get a good bit of screen time in the book.

There are two factions at odds in the book Egalitarians & Survivalists. Survivalists believe negroes to be inferior to whites. Egalitarians don’t believe negroes to be inferior to whites. Mayor Carr & the Survivalist act as the villains in this tale, who makes a better Villain than a politician? Mayor Carr’s beliefs and political aspirations come before the safety of his constituents.

Born the biracial daughter of the richest white woman in Haller County Kentucky during the Civil War era; Jane Mckeene is the main character and heroine of the story. Two days after she was born the Zombies rose at the battle of Gettysburg and changed the course of her life forever. Because of Janes lineage, she was able to be sent to one of the ”upper-class” boarding schools.

Jane attends Miss Preston’s School of Combat for Negro Girls in Maryland. Miss Prestons houses, the negro girls whose parents have the money to ensure they end up in the better schools, mostly biracial children.
Janes is a troublemaker she and the rules have a complicated relationship. I love Jane Mckeene’s Character. Jane is mouthy, independent, resourceful, and too intelligent for her own good. And as such, has an arch Nemesis that is the cliché do-gooder tattletale, Katherine Deveraux.

Katherine Deveraux is Passing Light. And perfect at everything thus Jane can’t stand her. When Jane and Katherine uncover a plot by the mayor that’s detrimental to the city she and Katherine are shipped off to a survivalist town. They’re in big trouble, and it’s up to Jane to get them out of it.

At the beginning of the book, these two characters clash, but it isn’t long before circumstances force them together. It’s during this time that we get to see each character’s true mettle. Both girls have secrets. Both girls hide the truth of who they are. By the end of the book, I’m thoroughly impressed by the real Katherine and shocked by Jane’s secrets.

There are some references to intimate moments between characters but no scenes of a sexually graphic nature. There is violence, and murder so if your sensitive to that kind of thing this might not be the book for you. But I think this book is pretty PG 13 and suitable for readers from YA to Adult.
I give this book five out of five stars. I love the premise. I loved the accurate and evocative historical references. And I loved that the main character looks like me. Dread Nation is a great book with a strong female lead of color, written by a woman of color. I highly anticipate the release of the second book.

City of Ghosts (Cassidy Blake #1) by Victoria Schwab a.k.a V.E. Schwab

City of Ghosts (Cassidy Blake #1) by Victoria Schwab a.k.a V.E. Schwab

Title: City of Ghosts (Cassidy Blake #1)
Author: Victoria Schwab a.k.a V.E. Schwab
On Sale Date: August 28, 2018
Ages: 8-12
Grades: 3-7
Length: 304 pgs
Genre: Horror & Ghost Stories, Paranormal, Action & Adventure
Publisher: Scholastic Press

              City of ghost is the first book in Victoria Schwab’s new Cassidy Blake grade school book series. The main Character is Cassidy Blake your average 12-year-old girl, except she can see ghost. Cassidy’s backstory is the cliché brush with death leaves me with the ability to see ghost origin story, but that doesn’t mean it’s boring or unoriginal. I mean how many different ways can a person get that type of ability, you’re either born a medium, or you almost die.

 Cassidy doesn’t understand her powers and is flying by the seat of her pants. She has this ghost radar that goes off when there’s a ghost nearby. Cassidy can also cross into the land of the dead. Jacob is ghost and Cassidy’s best friend, he’s a major supporting character; and aside from being dead he’s just like any other 12-year-old boy, he loves comics and ironically scares easily. There’s some mystery surrounding how Jacob died and some things he’s been keeping from Cass about the day he saved her, and about her powers.

              Then, Of Course, we have Mom & Dad who are sort of background characters they’re utterly clueless about Cass’s powers. They write a paranormal book series. Cassidy’s parents eventually get a deal to turn their books into a show where they travel all over the world visiting haunted places. And that’s when the story begins.

              Cass travels to Edinburgh Scotland with her parents who are shooting the first episode of their show. Edinburgh is ripe with paranormal activity. Edinburgh is where Cassidy meets another girl like her Lara. Lara can also see ghost and travel through the veil.  Lara knows much more about her abilities and their purpose and reluctantly indoctrinates Cass and Jacob into her world.

              The Plot of the story revolves around ghost, dangerous ones who gain power by preying on the living or doing dark deeds. The Major Villian is the Raven lady a distraught ghost who lures children to their icy death during the winter stealing parts of their souls for power. Cassidy trips the Raven Lady’s radar and becomes prey; Cassidy, Jacob, and Lara race against time to keep Cassidy in the land of the living.

             There were many things I loved about the book. One is that the Author managed to capture the essence of the main characters they were perfectly balanced, realistic and believable. The second thing I loved was that the author takes the reader on a tour of Edinburgh’s most famous haunts and landmarks, tossing out a bit of history to go with it.

             The last and equally important things I loved about the book is the writing style. I love that the writing isn’t super basic. I don’t have kids yet. But if I did this is the type of book I’d want them to read. Something interesting, but with a vocabulary that is challenging enough to put the brain to work. I didn’t feel like whoa why I am reading this it’s way beyond my reading level. I felt like wow, even though my reading level is way more advanced than this, the level of writing doesn’t make me feel like I had no business reading the book. City of Ghost is an engaging read which becomes more entrancing as the story reaches its climax.

           Your child may be old to enough to read on their own, but this would also make a good read for quality time with your kids, remember, it’s a bit of a spooky tale.

           I give City of Ghost five out of Five stars. I encourage you to put this book on your child’s reading list. If your kids are into spooky stories and ghostly adventures, City of Ghost is the book for them. Look for this title wherever books are sold Aug 28th 2018.

Interested in more from Victoria Schwab?

 Victoria as Victoria Schwab On Goodreads

Victoria as V. E. Schwab On Goodreads


Trail of Lightning By Rebecca Roanhorse

Trail of Lightning By Rebecca Roanhorse

Trail of Lightning

Trail of Lightning is the debut book by Native American Author Rebecca Roanhorse; the first in Roanhorse’s The Sixth World Series which is destined for greatness. Rebecca Roanhorse creates a unique dystopian world, unlike anything I have read before. What would happen if there was another great flood if all that we knew washed away? What if the Navajo built a wall to control their borders? What might become of our world if we continue to abuse it? The world that we know would be no more. That’s the premise of the novel. The characters here dwell in a new world; that which was left, after most of the former world washed away. The fifth world is reborn into the Sixth world; where magic returns to the Dinè Clans. Where the old gods, their immortal children, and monsters return.

“This last flood, the one you call the Big Water, ended the Fifth World and began the Sixth.”

But the rise of the Sixth world may have been the end for the rest of the world. It was a new beginning for the DInè. As tensions rose in the fifth world the Dinè had the foresight to build a wall separating their lands from the outsiders; singing blessings as the bricks were laid until it grew in both beauty and strength. While the rest of the world washed away, the Navajo land became Dinetah.

” They say the hataałii worked hand in hand with the construction crews, and for every brick that was laid, a song was sung. Every lath, a blessing given. And the Wall took on a life of its own. When the workmen came back the next morning, it was already fifty feet high. In the east it grew as white shell. In the south, turquoise. The west, pearlescent curves of abalone, and the north, the blackest jet. It was beautiful. It was ours. And we were safe.”

“But I had forgotten that the Diné had already suffered their apocalypse over a century before. This wasn’t our end. This was our rebirth.”

Trail of Lightning is written in first person POV through our protagonist Maggie Hoskie, as well as through character dialogue, interactions, and memories. Roanhorse waste no time inducting the reader into this new world by immediately opening the story with conflict, creating a lasting first impression of our reluctant Heroine and setting the tone for the novel with powerful a powerful message and evocative language.

This is the first thing the reader learns about Maggie Hoskie:

“ I’m the person you hire when the heroes have already come home in body bags.”

Maggie Hoskie is a Monster Hunter. Trained by the Immortal Monster hunter himself Neizghání a child of the gods, Maggie is also an outcast. When we met her she’s at a low point in her life reeling from heartbreak and abandonment; she’s lonely and feeling sorry for herself.

“Killing is the only thing I have that makes me worth anything to Neizghání? And Neizghání was the only thing I had that makes me worth anything at all?”

I don’t know a woman or girl who hasn’t felt like this at some time in their lives.

In some ways, Maggie is your cliché Fantasy Heroine a loner, scared to get close to anyone, an ass-kicking badass who doesn’t believe in her beauty.

“I’m sure a beautiful woman like her has her choice of men.” My eyes shoot to Kai, looking for the joke. I clean up okay, but no one has ever accused me of being beautiful, and I know damn well I’m not as pretty as he is.”

But as cliché as that may be, in my experience this is the recipe which has proven to be essential to the construction of a great heroine. Many of my favorite Heroines made up this way. Maggie has Honàghà K’aahanáanii, clan powers which make her, faster, stronger, but it also has a dark pull. She’s always fighting against the dark side of her clan power the bloodlust that brings out her baser nature. Imagine a little devil on your shoulder whispering sweet nothings in your ear every time someone pisses you off.

“I’m Honágháahnii, born for K’aahanáanii.” He nods, thoughtful. “Honágháahnii I know. ‘Walks-Around.’ And that means you’re . . . ?” “Fast. Really fast.” So what’s your other clan? What does K’aahanáanii mean?” “ ‘Living Arrow.’ ” “So does that mean you’re good at archery or something?” “No, Kai.”
“Living Arrow means I’m really good at killing people.”

“K’aahanáanii whispers to me that it would be simple to pull the Glock I still have tucked in my pocket and put a bullet through the back of his skull.”

At the same time, Maggie is more human than she’s willing to admit; the author allows us a more in-depth look into her life. Maggie has suffered so much pain and loss first the tragic murder of her grandmother which was the catalyst to the emergence of her power, and the most recent and still open wound being her abandonment by her mentor Neizghání who she is in love with. As someone currently recovering from the end of an eight-year relationship, I found Maggie’s experiences to be both relatable and emotive. If you thought your breakup was hell, imagine recovering from a breakup with a god. An inhumane being who cannot love on a human level (sounds a lot like my Ex). The origins of Maggie’s pain, and the motive behind her way of existing both humanized and made Maggie more real to me. When I began to understand her motives and thought processes I knew that the author had hit the mark.

Kai Arviso is the secondary character, the grandson of a Maggie’s friend a medicine man name Tuh. Kai has been exiled from the other side of the wall a town known as Burque formerly known as Albuquerque. Kai is a devilishly handsome man with a way with words. He’s also a medicine man, and he’s hiding something. Maggie and Kai are opposites Kai is a people person, and adverse to violence. However, he appreciates the necessity of violence as well as Maggie’s violent nature together they are a balanced pair what Kai lacks in his capacity for violence he makes up for in both charm and power. Balance is essential in Native American Culture.

“Kai steps forward. Starts to sing. Navajo words, soft and low. Closer, within twenty feet, he lets them come. Voice still steady. Fifteen. Twelve. And then he flicks the lighter alive, leans in over the flame, and blows. His breath catches the fire, sends it whirling. Small at first, but then it grows. Tall as a child, but then taller. And it circles, twisting into a cyclone of blue and orange and yellow and red, until it’s a massive whirlwind of fire that builds, builds. “

As the series grows, I expect Kai to emerge as a force to be reckoned with.

In almost every fiction book with a Native American element Coyote, the trickster is often a common theme. He pops up frequently in both fantasy and urban fantasy, in fact, he’s the father of one of my favorite characters Mercy Thompson.

Coyote is most often written not as a benevolent god by usually not as one purposely out to cause harm, even though his trickster nature often does. Coyote’s character has been written in many different incarnations, but Roanhorse’s Coyote is a character I’ve never met before.

Although some elements remain the same, there are nuances that separate Roanhorse’s coyote from the rest of the pack; making this version of Coyote distinctly different. This Coyote is dark a little twisted and reminds that the gods are not like us, mere mortals cannot comprehend their motives.

“I think now that it must have tickled him, a creature who could change his shape as easily as humans shed clothes, to dress the white man’s frontier dandy when visiting a Navajo girl. He looked splendid, of course, but the choice was subtly cruel. I knew the stories of the Long Walk, of duplicitous land agents and con men. To remind me of them was no accident on his part.”

“I shudder at the blast of fury that pours from his body. For a moment, the pretense of the Western gentleman falters and I glimpse his true form under the facade. Shaggy gray-and-brown muzzle, dull yellow eyes, a mouthful of teeth meant for tearing carrion. He fills the room, frightening and unnatural”

While we often get the “gist” of cultural references, it’s evident that when writing second hand on the lore of other cultures; while assuming to have a full understanding of their ways, you are bound to fall short; this is the reason why own voices books are so important. It’s a testament to how powerfully written Roanhorse’s Coyote is, that as I read, I had the impression that every other version of Coyote I ever read was wrong. And the author acknowledges this.

“ So that was the Coyote?” Finished, he pushes the bowl away and leans back, stretching his lithe frame out and crossing his legs under my coffee table, arms behind his head. “He wasn’t what I expected.” ”

“ “What did you expect?” “I don’t know. A little less serious, I guess. All the Coyote stories I’ve heard portray him as kind of a fool.” He shrugs. “He didn’t seem so bad.” ”

I look forward to the development of this series and revisiting the Sixth World.

According to 23 and me, I’m only 1.7 percent native American but 100% proud of this book. Trail of Lightning is a fantastic debut novel I loved it! And you should grab a copy too!

Roanhorse is currently working on, Storm of Locusts (The Sixth World #2) which is Scheduled for release April 23rd 2019 by Saga Press and available for pre order.

Visit Roanhorse’s Website here

Storm of Locust Amazing book cover

RR - Storm of locusts