Book Review: Angel Dreams (An Angel Falls #2)

angelDreams-tour

New Release from Jody A. Kessler – Blog Tour & Giveaway! Both novels in this award-winning series will be on sale for only .99 cents for a limited time.


AngelDreamsSupernatural boundaries will be crossed as Angel of Death, Nathaniel Evans, risks his eternal soul to save the one he loves, the paranormally gifted and nature-loving, Juliana Crowson.

While working with a new client, Nathaniel finds out that pissing off a demon-wielding warlock in order to help a suicidal teen with misplaced sexual tendencies may be the last thing he ever does as an angel. Unable to stand aside, Juliana’s involvement in Nathaniel’s new case quickly develops into a misadventure with gun-toting bikers, table dancing, and a shamanic exorcism performed by her temperamental Native American friend, Chris Abeyta.

Can Nathaniel and Juliana’s love endure blood-letting rituals in the forest while helping a terrified teen find the will to live, or will fate and the rules of the afterlife tear them eternally apart?


At the conclusion of “Death Lies Between Us,” Nathaniel and Juliana were camping out under the stars following their adventure at Castle Hill, a haunted mansion occupied by even more dangerous humans. Juliana might have died in the house is not for Nathaniel’s interferance. Now she knows what he is, and he enjoys her company, he’s reluctant to tell her the exact nature of the failure that got him demoted as an Angel of Death. He was never there to guide her into the afterlife. Her brother was the client, and a new angel is following him now.

Whereas the first book in this series was centered around unintended consequences, “Angel Dreams” delves more into the paranormal world surrounding Juliana, including angels, demons, witches, Native American shamen, and her own unique connection to the Earth. Ms. Kessler doesn’t shy away from the ugliness, representing the darkside of power with physical sickness and emotional pain. I very much appreciated Juliana’s strong spirit playing a critical role in both her actions and her survival of the consequences that follow.

I do have a few issues with the story. First, I didn’t feel the Castle Hill story was neatly tied at the end of the first story, and I had expected that to be revisted. Other than a mention in the first chapter, this book doesn’t address it. And two, I find myself hoping that Juliana soon sees her shaman friend, Chris Abeyta, as more than her friend. No, he’s not quite the book boyfriend that Nathaniel is, however, Chris is flesh and blood 24/7, which I feel gives him the advantage.

Angel Dreams does make up for it’s shortcomings with action and suspense. I’m looking forward to reading the next installment of the series.

★★★★
About My Book Reviews


032About the Author

When Jody isn’t navigating the terrain of her imagination and writing it down, she can be found exploring the wilderness of Colorado with her family, or in the kitchen baking cookies & brownies – and then trying not to eat them all. She’s passionate about continuing to learn and reads anything and everything that catches her interest. Jody is a full time mom, a Reiki Master, and has taught Hatha yoga for over a decade.

Jody’s debut novel, Death Lies Between Us, is the winner of RomCon’s Readers’ Crown award for best Paranormal Romance in 2014. She is currently working on a historical time travel series set in Montana in the 1860’s. The first book in the series, The Night Medicine, will be published in March 2015.

Jody A. Kessler invites you to visit with her at: www.JodyAKessler.com, or on Facebook & Twitter

For a chance to win a $10 amazon gift card or a signed paperback of the Death Lies Between Us (An Angel Falls, #1) please enter the rafflecopter!

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My Blogging Lapse, RT2014 People-Watching, and Stuff

Nancy Brant asked me to participate in a writing process blog hop and I saw it as an opportunity to post something. I haven’t blogged in a while. It sucks, but there’s a reason for it that’s relevant to my writing process. For me, writing takes one road, and reading/reviewing/blogging/promoting take another. I am working on strategy to manage both at the same time, but I’m not there yet.

There are a few, very exciting things happening with my writing career. A few years ago, I would have found one of them greatly disappointing. The benefit of time, and rapid progress in the industry, is that what might have been a setback only three years ago is now a blessing, and not even a disguised one. I apologize for being vague. I’d love to tell the story, because I think it’s an interesting one, but I neither can nor should. Truly, it doesn’t provide much value for other writers, not even for those in a similar situation.

RT2014

Marie Sexton, Me, and Alanna Coco

I attended RT 2014 in New Orleans this year. I met great people, spent a lot of time with my childhood friend, Marie Sexton, and sat in on some insightful panels. However, the most valuable thing I took away from the conference is something I observed while people watching among the indie authors. The ones that are successful–which I will define as having name recognition with strangers (think Lilliana Hart)—had two things in common that most of the authors in NOLA lacked. One, they referred to themselves as “indie publishers”, and two, they don’t sit still. Their books are the sellable component of their personal businesses, which is kept afloat with various entrepreneurial requirements. Whereas many self-published authors are fighting to connect with readers to sell a book, these few are reading trade publications, making connections, and building brands. Their books are marketing them, rather than the other way round.

Clearly, it’s not a model for success that can be implemented overnight by a working mom with a daily 50-mile round trip commute, but it’s nice to have an attainable goal.

Right now, the bulk of my focus is on Glitch, book one of a YA Sci-fi series. As of this morning, Glitch is a working title, because a book with that title was released in the same genre back in February. The idea for “The Winter Son” trilogy came about from a desire to dabble in the war between angels, but make angels the bad guys. It was originally called “The Choir Boys,” and it was intended to be a paranormal romance featuring an immortal paramilitary operative, but my main character argued that he wasn’t old enough to vote, so changes had to be made. I finish books, but they’re never the ones I start.

I’ve been asked how my work is different from others in its genre. I think that’s a question better left to readers. There’s a literary concept called “suspension of disbelief” and basically, readers cannot relate to something perfect. The more incredible something is–wealthy, beautiful, and/or powerful—the more flawed it has to be. Take any superhero you like and weigh his/her strengths against weaknesses. You’ll find they balance each other out.

It might be a cop out, but I try to make my characters on the average side, more representable of the young adult population. I avoid hot heroes and girls with red hair and green eyes. I have smart kids who make dumb, and sometimes selfish decisions. My world building is largely contemporary, but as the story progresses and the surface is scratched, evidence of richer, darker, even alien worlds can be found beneath.

I never set about writing this way. It evolved over time. I’m half-Japanese, and having been raised in Wyoming, I have come to self-identify as a white woman. For half of my life, I was a practicing Mormon, but in my 20s, I discovered an atheist within. I’m Pro-Gun, Pro-Choice, Pro-Fiscal Responsibility, Pro-Diversity, and a straight ally of the LGBT community. My writing, I believe, is a reflection of me, and written for my 16-year-old self…a girl whose life was shaped by reading books that were over her head.

My writing process is one that needs to change the more I think about it. I work out ideas in notebooks, write scenes in Scrivener, edit on hard copy, and I get done when I get done. It worked well when I was writing for myself, but my goals have changed. One day, I hope to quit my job and write full-time, and spending two years to complete one book isn’t going to get me there.

I was supposed to tag in three other writers to post next Monday, but like I said…I have two roads at the moment. Finding authors to participate turned out to be on the other one. Instead, please check out these great new releases.

Summoned, by Rainy Kaye

The Devil Made Me Do It  (Book 2, Speak of the Devil Series), by Shawna Romkey

Endured (Book 3, Shadowed Love Series), by Kinley Baker

Cover Reveal: The Devil Made Me Do It, by Shawna Romkey

The Devil made me do it preview 1

The Devil Made Me Do It (Speak of the Devil #2)
By Shawna Romkey

Coming from Crescent Moon Press, June 2014

About the Book:

Lily is working with the angels to stifle the last of the demon outbreaks and to figure out how to stop the Silence of God, so life can get back to boring normality. But all hell breaks loose when she’s stolen from school and brought face to face with the devil himself. Lily has to find her way back home to Luc, crack the prophecy that breaks the curse silencing God, and figure out how she and Luc can ever really be together; but Lucifer has other plans for her that don’t include her ever getting out of Hell in tact.

SR-37-150x150About the Author:

Shawna Romkey, teacher by day, writer by night (or day or whenever anyone leaves her alone long enough to get some work done). Bestselling YA / NA paranormal author of Speak of the Devil. The second in the series, The Devil Made Me Do It, will release July 1.

Shawna is from Kansas City, Missouri, but resides in Nova Scotia in a house by the sea with her husband, two sons, and currently two dogs but that’s subject to change depending on the local homeless dog population.

For more info, check out her website at www.shawnaromkey.com.

Book Review: Death Lies Between Us, by Jody A. Kessler

deathLiesBetweenUsRelease Date: March 2013
NA Paranormal

Saving the life of someone you love should not be the worst thing you have ever done, unless you are an Angel of Death. Disgruntled with his position in the afterlife and conflicted by his feelings toward his new client, Nathaniel Evans forgoes the rules and saves nineteen year old Juliana Crowson from being hopelessly stuck in Forge Creek. This alters Juliana’s destiny and she finds herself in a series of near death accidents.

In the mountains of Colorado, Nathaniel comforts Juliana as she struggles to understand her paranormal abilities while coping with her brother’s drug addiction. When an ill-tempered Native American Shaman teaches her the difference between ghosts and place memories, she decides she wants nothing to do with the supernatural world. Too bad she doesn’t know that Nathaniel is part of it. Will fate bring these two together, or has Nathaniel made the biggest mistake of his afterlife?


When Nathaniel Evans first sees Juliana Crowson, she’s writing in a notebook while a boy that resembles her plays a guitar. Her face is hidden from Nathaniel by her long black hair and eyelashes. The poetry she’s writing in her book give him an ominous feeling, like she may have a death wish. It wouldn’t surprise him. He’s an Angel of Death and he’s there to help her make the transition into the hereafter.

Her time has not come yet, and because he has to be there when it does, he has the only excuse he needs to follow her. It’s in his job description, but he quickly realizes it might be bad for his soul. He was wrong about her death wish. On the contrary, she’s full of life. Within an hour of walking into her life, Nathaniel finds her in three potentially life threatening situations, and with each one, he feels the moment he’s waiting for draw nearer and dreads it. But when people who know Juliana leave her with her foot caught between a log and a rock in an ice-cold creek, Nathaniel can no longer watch. He makes himself visible and flesh enough to free her from her predicament, but fears that his interference may set her up for a death worse that the hypothermia he’s helped her avoid.

Death Lies Between us is a New Adult novel centered on a theme of unintended consequences. Every character in this story does something that impacts other characters, sometimes in undesirable ways, even across time and dimensions. There are moments of innocence, selfishness, cruelty, fear, greed, love, pity, and forgiveness, all of which come from characters one might least expect. This gives the entire cast a very human quality.

Nathaniel is a desirable hero with a tragic past that allows the reader to pity his mortal life and sympathize with his present situation. With two dangerous incidents averted, superstitious Juliana is on her guard and waiting for the third to come and claim her. Once introduced, they are subject to quick, mutual infatuation. The reader can only hope that she avoids the fate that Nathaniel’s presence promises.

Yet, it’s in the love story arc of the story where a latent flaw inherent to any romance with a ghost lies. The only “happily ever after” requires the death of the living partner, and the thought of Juliana’s death was Nathaniel’s conflict. How could he do his job when his instinct was to protect her? Appearing to her is not a huge deal, because the girl has supernatural talents that she is struggling to come to terms with, but manifesting as a touchable person takes a lot of effort for him. Basically, I didn’t feel that Juliana was at risk of dying, but neither did I feel there was hope for a future with Nathaniel. A happily-for-now was possible if she survived the novel, but I found myself hoping for the development of a third scenario that involved Chris, a cranky, 25-going on-70-year-old Native American shaman.

Without giving anything away, I will say I was satisfied.

In her debut novel, Jody Kessler has written a solid paranormal novel that bring together Native American folklore, restless spirits, supernatural gifts, and angels on missions. It is the first of a planned series, and there are a number of loose ends left to be tied. The haunting of Castle Hill, (one of the primary settings of the book), Juliana’s brother’s drug addiction are both realistically still in play, as is an apparent fall from grace for Nathaniel, who seems unable to follow rules where Juliana is concerned.

I would recommend Death Lies Between Us to fans of NA Paranormal Romance, particularly readers who enjoyed Avery Olive’s “A Stiff Kiss” or Toni de Palma’s “The Devil’s Triangle.”

I was given an e-book copy of this novel in exchange for my honest opinion.

★★★★

About My Book Reviews

Book Review: Tainted (Wasteland #3), by Lynn Rush

tainted-lynn-rushTainted (Wasteland Trilogy #3)
By Lynn Rush

After over four hundred years as a Guardian, Durk Langdon rebuked it all. Walked away from everything when his mate, Jessica, was brutally murdered. Yet he has no recollection of anything since that gruesome day.

Nothing alleviates his longing for Jessica or his disdain for the Guardians until a former brother in arms joins him and his cause. Visions of his lost love start appearing in the most unlikely places, until Durk learns she survived.

But when he sets out to find her, demonic obstacles he never could have imagined tear them apart.

If only he had trusted her…

Tainted brings us into the Wasteland storyline at some point after Durk Langdon abandons his calling. He is running, barefoot and half-naked, down a lonely highway. There’s no one behind him. He doesn’t know what he’s running from, but he knows that if he stops, he’ll die. Meanwhile images of Jessica, his murdered mate, flash through his mind. He hides when a car approaches. It stops and a woman gets out. She knows his name, but he doesn’t know her.

Ms. Rush drops the reader into Durk’s confusion at both the passage of time and reality in the opening scene. There is a sense that time has passed since the end of Awaited (Wasteland #2), but there are few clues as to how much. He remembers being in the mountains, but now he’s in the desert. Starting the story here was a deliberate, and wise, choice by the author because this confusion—not knowing what is real or who can be trusted—continues for half of the story. In fact, I was not certain that Durk was free of the torment that wiped his memory clean until the last two chapters.

Anyone who’s read the first two books of the Wasteland trilogy knows that Ms. Rush juggles her details with the deft hand of a circus clown. All three of her male leads have been flawed, damaged men, but Durk Langdon is all but an empty shell. He was going through the motions of serving the Light before he watched the woman he loves die. Combine his broken heart with lost time and severe torture, and Durk becomes a man who’s hanging onto one fraying thread while wondering why he still bothers.

While I felt that Durk’s part of the story was very well done, I have to admit that his and Jessica’s relationship felt a little thin for me. They are supposed to be intended mates, and Jessica has known this for thirty-five years. Durk has been in love with her for decades. Yet, I found timidity where I expected sexual tension.

It was great to see David and Beka, and Russell and Annabel, again, especially under the dire circumstances they face. And the guest appearance by archangel Michael is rave worthy. All in all, I found Tainted to be a solid finish to the series.

4-stars

Book Review: Wasteland (Lynn Rush, 2011)

Wasteland, by Lynn Rush
Crescent Moon Press (August 23, 2011)

Bound by the blood contract his human mother signed four centuries ago, half-demon, David Sadler, must obey his demonic Master’s order to capture fifteen-year-old Jessica Hanks. But as he learns more about her, he realizes she may be the key to freedom from his demonic enslavement.

The only obstacle—Jessica’s distractingly beautiful Guardian, Rebeka Abbott. He must not give in to their steamy chemistry, or he will lose his humanity. But fresh off a quarter millennia of sensory deprivation as punishment for not retrieving his last target, he may not be able to resist temptation long enough to save what’s left of his human soul.

The thing that attracted me to Wasteland was the cover. The blue glowing within the black is haunting, and the feather floating to the ground is light and beautiful. I had a visceral reaction when I saw it and wanted to read it instantly. I’m not a fan of the typeface, though. I would have preferred a font that reflected the Old World origins of most of the characters, maybe some sort of compromise between blackletter and a roman face. Don’t mind me…I’m a type snob and I know it.

Wasteland opens in a small town in Arizona, at a dance club where locals are getting their drink and flirt on. In the center of this mass of bodies and alcohol is 400-year-old David Sadler, a sort-of bounty hunter who’s spent the last 245 in solitary confinement as punishment for missing his last Mark. He dreams of being free of the contract on his soul, while his demon-half tries every second to claw out of his skin for good.

For that to happen, David would have to give into the temptation he’s so far succeeded in resisting. That’s actually written into the contract his mother signed in blood before he was born. Letting down his guard, giving into a woman’s charms, or losing hold of his demon for even one moment and failing to stop the beast from taking what it wants…it makes no difference. Sex will wipe out what remains of his humanity.

Consider for a moment what 245 years means. The last time David walked among humans, it was 1767. And, the past 200 years of his punishment were spent in sensory deprivation. And now, here he is…2012, in a club where the women wear next to nothing, drink, dance, and flirt with strangers. Master wants the rest of his soul; David’s determined to not let him have it.

Wasteland is initiated as a thriller with frequent battles and relentless pacing. But in this story, there are two games in play. There is the obvious race between demons and guardians both looking for a child messiah, and the tug of war between the same demons and angels for David’s freedom and soul. As for David himself, he is tormented by metaphorical demons more powerful that the literal ones that surround him. Finding himself worthy of the love and trust of the guardians is the biggest one of all.

Wasteland is a good book. I very much enjoyed reading David’s story, particularly one scene where he holds Beka’s head in his hands and begs her to live. I’m looking forward to reading the sequel, Awaited, and when I’m done, I’ll tell you what I think about it.

My rating: ★★★★