June Book Reviews (Part One)

It looks like June is going to be another successful month of reading, so breaking my monthly reviews into two posts seemed like a good idea. I have a bunch of great reads for you to browse, and more on the way.

Below are reviews for this month’s 4 and 5-star reads including a sci-fi thriller, three poetry collections, a paranormal suspense novel, and a romance/action mash-up.

Click on the covers for Amazon global links.

*****

The Insurgent by Teri Polen

I thoroughly enjoyed the first book in this series (Subject A36) and couldn’t wait to get into the second. It didn’t disappoint. Our hero, Asher, has surrendered to his bio-engineered personality (A36) and become a serious threat to his old team of insurgents. The insurgents are battling the Colony, a diabolical organization that harvests the genes of children (by killing them) so wealthy people can enhance their bodies.

The leader of the Colony, Silas, is a great antagonist because he’s so horrid! And sadly, Asher has become his killing machine. Declan rises to the top as the main protagonist in this book, and he has some relationships to repair after betraying his friends in the last one.

The author spends the first part of the story catching readers up on the characters and what happened during book one. Forward progress doesn’t really take off until about the 20% mark and then it’s non-stop action, twists and turns, deception, plotting, and battling right up until the end, which wraps up nicely.

Despite Asher’s months of murdering people, I still felt a lot of empathy for him from the first book (and recommend reading them both, in order). Declan was convincing, and I liked his sense of humor, but Brinn, and her unwavering trust in Asher’s love, was my favorite. This isn’t a long book and I had a hard time putting it down. Highly recommended for sci-fi readers and fans of fast-paced action. (Kindle Unlimited).

*****

Jagged Feathers by Jan Sikes

Van Noble lost his leg in Afghanistan, and he has a huge inferiority complex about being an incomplete man, but when he discovers Nakina Bird on the run from a Mexican cartel, he steps right up, determined to help her. Thus begins this exciting romance/thriller mashup.

The story has a nice balance of action and romance – the book is definitely both, and Sikes spends a lot of time on character development, which paid off. I connected with both Nakina and Van, and I liked how the action grounded their relationship. Nothing frivolous going on here as they have some serious goals to achieve.

For fans of paranormal fiction or new age mysticism, Nakina has psychic abilities that thread through the story and impact the plot. There are sex scenes and a great deal of sweetness with these characters, but the action ramps up the pace between the romantic lulls. I found both aspects of the story realistic and engaging. Characters from Book One play a secondary role in this story, and this book can be read as a stand-alone without any confusion. Highly recommended to readers who enjoy romance/action mashups.

*****

Life & Soul by Harmony Kent

I read the first book of poetry by this author and was happy to pick up the second. This little collection is full of gems and took me about two hours to read, spread over several days. The styles of poems vary, including both free form and multiple forms of syllabic poetry. Some of the poems run for several pages and some are very brief (but wonderfully powerful).

The book is divided into six sections that address different aspects of a soul’s journey or state of being. Part I, Lonely Soul expresses isolation and longing. Seeking Soul addresses disillusionment and pain. Brief Soul is full of short but impactful poetry, such as this:

Beneficent sage
This old willow
Bowing its crown

Part IV is titled Friendly Soul and explores the importance of friendships. Loving Soul extends into love relationships, and finally, Life of a Soul is a long poem that tells the story of the author’s life, one that I was familiar with from her first book.

There were a lot of poems that I enjoyed. Several of my favorites were Echoes, Life Goes On, Hope, Lost Property, Not Looking, and Unconditional. Okay, more than “several,” but all calling attention to the author’s talent. Highly recommended to fans of poetry looking for a touching read about a soul’s journey. (Kindle Unlimited).

*****

Quantum Wanderlust: A Short Story Anthology

I love time travel and all the ways it can manipulate reality. This book of thirteen time-travel short stories by thirteen authors offers a wide variety of twists on the topic. The genres vary from fantasy to horror to romance. Some stories are spooky, some are sinister, and others are wonderfully poignant.

The Butterfly effect enters into a number of stories but not all of them. Time travel is used to recover lost memories, and to deal with overpopulation in a dystopian future. It plays out in connecting families, getting revenge, and preventing tragedies.

I appreciated the variety of stories, and as with most anthologies, I enjoyed some more than others. There’s plenty of high-quality writing in here with compelling characters and satisfying conclusions. This is an excellent way to explore new authors, and after each story, there’s a short biography of the author with links to their other books and social media.

One thing was clear from reading this collection: Avoid traveling through time, because more often than not, something is going to go terribly wrong. Recommended to readers who enjoy short stories and speculative fiction, and who adore time travel twists. (Free on Kindle).

*****

A Voice in the Silence by D. L. Finn

Drea, a recent widow, lives alone in her home far from town. There’s a serial killer roaming the area and a winter storm on the way. But what initially finds its way into her home isn’t a murderer, but a trio of animals who’ve escaped from a lab—a dog, a cat, and a rat. And before she knows it, they’re doing things that no animals should be able to do. They talk.

Suspension of disbelief was a necessity for this book. In some ways, the fantastical abilities of the animals gave the story a whimsical, childlike innocence. But that quality is countered by the presence of a serial killer outside in the storm, and the suspense intensifies when Drea finds his footprints in the snow. With the help of her animal family, a ghost, and a caring police officer, she just might get through the storm alive.

Three major plot lines thread through the story, and each comes to its own satisfying climax rather than all resolving at the end. The main protagonists are well-rounded characters, and that includes the animals. My favorites were Drea, Adam, and Charlie the dog. The villains range from mentally ill to completely deranged.

The story unfolds primarily from Drea’s perspective though the overall POV is omniscient. The pace is good, and descriptions gave a clear picture of the action and setting. There’s a romantic undercurrent and some violence, including an off-stage suicide. Overall, I’d say this book is suitable for YA and adult audiences, and I recommend it to readers who enjoy paranormal stories and want to try something whimsical, suspenseful, and entirely different. (Kindle Unlimited).

*****

Summer Magic by Marcia Meara

I loved Meara’s Wake Robin Ridge series, and this short book of 18 poems is written by the main character Mackenzie Cole (not really, but you get the idea). The poems are lovely glimpses of childhood summers and growing up in the Blue Ridge Mountains. For this nature-loving reader who spent her summers exploring the woods of Vermont, it was like a trip down memory lane.

The book is divided into two parts: Mac at Ten (about his childhood), and Poems of Love & Life (told from the perspective of an adult). Some of my favorite poems were: The Rope Swing, Star-gazing, and Bruises.

One stanza from Bruises:

Badges.
Attesting to his bravery,
Marking his adventures,
And confirming in his mind
His place among Immortals.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the author (ages ago) without any expectation of a review. I’m glad I finally read it. Highly recommended to poetry readers and grown-up kids who remember the magic of summer.

*****

Poetry Treasures 2: Relationships (WordCrafter Anthology)

I enjoyed the first Poetry Treasures anthology and decided to give this one a try as well. The anthology includes a selection of poems from twelve poets, and as the title suggests, the theme of relationships guided the work. Despite the unifying theme, the poems were quite varied in content and style, and I enjoyed the diversity of forms and voices.

In many anthologies, there’s a range of skill, and some pieces reflect more talent than others. I have to say that in this case, I found all of the poems well-crafted and a pleasure to read. Some of them I recognized from previously published anthologies, and it’s a good sign of their quality that they were so memorable.

That said, I did have some favorites—too many to list, of course. Here is a handful that I especially enjoyed: “The Red Petticoat” by Elizabeth Merry, “A Jar” by D. Avery, “She Lives and Yet She’s Dead” by Robbie Cheadle, and “Fat Belly Joy” by Marjorie Mallon. And so many more.

Prior to each set of poems there’s a short biography of the poet. Many of these poets have their own published collections for readers who didn’t get enough here. The book took me about an hour to read (approximately 36 poems in all) and it was an hour well spent. Highly recommended

*****

Happy Reading!

190 thoughts on “June Book Reviews (Part One)

  1. D.L. Finn, Author says:

    Thank you for including A Voice in the Silence with such a great list of authors. I enjoyed all the books but one, which is on my reading list 🙂 Suspension of belief is a good tool when entering my world…lol. Made my day to come back from vacation to your wonderful review, Diana xo

    Liked by 4 people

  2. You have quite a list of books you’ve read, Diana! As I anticipate our road trip that starts Monday, I hope to make more time for reading! My TBR is kind of ridiculous right now and my Chirp audiobook file is loaded!

    Liked by 4 people

  3. mydangblog says:

    Some very intriguing reads here! Can’t wait for Part 2!

    Liked by 4 people

  4. Wonderful reviews, Diana! And thank you so much for recommending poetry books as well, for poetry lovers like me. 🙂

    Liked by 4 people

  5. Thanks, as always, for the recommendations, Peach!

    Liked by 4 people

  6. What a great time of reading, you’ve been having, Diana! I see some that I’ve already enjoyed hugely, and others that were already on my list, and some that I didn’t know too. You covered all the bases. 😀
    Congrats to all the authors. Sharing everywhere. Hugs on the wing.

    Liked by 5 people

  7. A fantastic celebration of books Diana, some I have read and others I have yet to enjoy.. thanks for your reviews, always a wonderful recommendation ♥

    Liked by 5 people

  8. Chris Hall says:

    I don’t know which to go for first! Great selection, Diana.

    Liked by 5 people

  9. petespringerauthor says:

    Even by your standards, you’ve had a busy month. You do an excellent job of giving us a sense of each book without giving away too much. Looking forward to taking a look at the reviews for Part 2.

    Liked by 5 people

  10. Beem Weeks says:

    Another fine collection of reviews, Diana. Congratulations to these authors.

    Liked by 5 people

  11. dgkaye says:

    I’ve read a few of these already and have a few more awaiting my Kindle Diana. Your reviews always urge me to hurry up so I can read the ones you have lol, fab reviews, congrats to all authors listed. ❤

    Liked by 4 people

  12. You must have read tons of books during your canyon hiking trip, Diana! I love your great reviews. Your Kindle should be close to empty by now. Congratulations to Teri, Jan, Harmony, Denise, Marcia, and all the contributing authors for the two anthologies. ❤

    Liked by 5 people

  13. memadtwo says:

    More great reviews. Thanks Diana. (K)

    Liked by 4 people

  14. acflory says:

    Great reviews, as always, Diana, and I have to say I’m a sucker for animals, especially if they talk. I’ll definitely be checking that one out. 😀

    Liked by 5 people

  15. Summer Magic sounds right up my alley!

    Liked by 4 people

  16. balroop2013 says:

    As usual, there is a lot of variety here Diana. Thanks for sharing your wonderful selection of books.

    Liked by 5 people

    • Lots of poetry, Balroop, which I don’t really notice until I’m pulling together the post. I’ll have another nice batch at the end of the month. Thanks for taking a stroll through the reviews. Happy Weekend, my friend. ❤ ❤

      Liked by 2 people

  17. Dalo 2013 says:

    Another incredible set of authors you bring to us, and I’m often overwhelmed and inspired by the talent out there. Thank you for being such a role model and source of inspiration, – and these reviews are something special. Wishing you a wonderful weekend ahead.

    Liked by 5 people

  18. Jaya Avendel says:

    Another fabulous collection of books! I love the sounds of Jagged Feathers and Life & Soul. The stories and narratives sound splendid. 🙂

    Liked by 4 people

  19. Another fabulous selection of books from our talented friends in our community Diana! We’re lucky to have you!! 💖💖

    Liked by 5 people

  20. Teri Polen says:

    You always have such a good variety of books, Diana, and I’m honored you read The Insurgent – and also Quantum Wanderlust! Thanks so much for reviewing both of them. I’ve got a couple of others waiting on my TBR, so thanks for also sharing your thoughts on those.

    Liked by 3 people

    • My pleasure to read both The Insurgent and Quantum Wanderlust, Teri. I couldn’t wait for the first, and I enjoyed your diabolical plot in the other. Both awesome reads. And I’m glad you found a couple of others here that are on your pile. I hope you enjoy them. Have a great weekend and Happy Reading!

      Liked by 1 person

  21. olganm says:

    You’ve had quite a great reading month, Diana. I recognise many of the titles, and I’ve read some other great reviews of them as well. Thanks for the recommendation, and I’ll check them further. Congratulations to all the authors as well.

    Liked by 4 people

  22. Wow! You are a prolific reader Diana and I love how you present each book with such a delightful flair! I just ordered Harmony’s book of poems and I’m intrigued by A Voice in the Silence? I’ve read Teri Polen’s series and loved them. Thanks so much for sharing and now I have some good reads for the summer! Looking forward to your Part II! Hugs, C

    Liked by 5 people

  23. Wonderful collection of reviews, Diana. I’ve read a few of these and see some tempting new ones to add to my towering list 🙂

    Liked by 4 people

    • Ha ha ha. There were two books in here that I dug out of the kindle black hole, Jacquie. Its so easy to lose track when new books pile on top of each other. I’m glad you found something of interest. Happy Reading, my friend. Hugs.

      Liked by 2 people

  24. What a great collection of reviews. Thanks for including Quantum Wanderlust in the mix.

    Liked by 5 people

    • Thanks for dropping by, Craig. It was a really fun read, especially for this fan of speculative fiction. I liked the unique direction of your story. All of them were so different! Have a productive weekend and Happy Writing!

      Liked by 2 people

  25. Rebecca Budd says:

    Always a joy to read your reviews, Diana! A marvelous collection.

    Liked by 4 people

  26. Marcia says:

    Thank you so much for including Summer Magic in with the work of all these fabulous writers, Diana! I’m truly happy you enjoyed it!

    I haven’t read all of these books yet, though most are on my list, but I did jump on The Insurgent the day it was released! I’d been waiting with bated breath for that one, since I loved Subject A36 so much. It did NOT disappoint. Fantastic book with great characters I won’t forget.

    Thanks again for making my morning brighter! 🤗❤️🤗

    Liked by 4 people

    • You’re so welcome, Marcia. I can’t believe I waited so long to read Summer Magic. I lost track! I’m glad you enjoyed The Insurgent. I’d been waiting for that one too. Teri did a great job. Happy Reading, my friend. Hugs. 🙂 ❤ ❤

      Liked by 2 people

  27. Delightful reviews and awesome post, Diana. All the books were fantastic 😊😊

    Liked by 4 people

  28. Staci Troilo says:

    I’ve read and enjoyed many of these. Excellent reviews, Diana. And thank you for the kind words about Quantum Wanderlust.

    Liked by 5 people

  29. Terrific reviews, Diana. Congratulations to all.

    Liked by 5 people

  30. Gwen M. Plano says:

    What a great selection, Diana. Thank you for sharing your reviews. I’ve read several and am reading one on your list right now. Wonderful writers all! 😊

    Liked by 5 people

  31. Resa says:

    Rocket Reader!
    So many good authors, so many books and you give everyone a chance to be read.
    I find you inspiring, lol, although your reading & writing energy turns into a sewing and drawing urgency in me. So, that’s what I will do now.
    Thank you Diana!

    Liked by 4 people

  32. Hi Diana, thank you for reading and reviewing Poetry Treasures 2, there are some wonderful poems in that anthology. You have shared reviews of a number of wonderful books here. I have also read and loved The Insurgent, Life & Soul and Summer Magic.

    Liked by 4 people

    • Thanks for browsing, Robbie. I really enjoyed Poetry Treasures 2. You and Kaye Lynn did a beautiful job of pulling together the poets and editing the work. I think it shows when there’s some intentionality about what’s included. Well done. Have a lovely weekend and Happy Reading. 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  33. Joan Hall says:

    A great collection, Diana! I’ve read several of these titles and I’m currently reading another on your list.

    Thanks for featuring Quantum Wanderlust. The concept of time travel has always fascinated me.

    Liked by 5 people

  34. V.M.Sang says:

    Some great sounding books here, Diana. I must read at least some of them. Thanks for the reviews.

    Liked by 4 people

  35. Thanks so much for your fantastic review of Life & Soul. You’ve made my day! 😁 Congrats to Teri, Jan, Denise, Marcia, and all the authors in the anthologies on these awesome reviews. I’m about 3/4 of the way through A Voice in the Silence and am enjoying it. Great recommendations, Diana. Thanks for sharing. Hugs. Have a wonderful weekend 💕🙂

    Liked by 4 people

  36. noelleg44 says:

    There are fantastic books in this list, Diana. How ever do you find time to read them all? Thanks for the recommendations – I’m sure to add some of these to my TBR list.

    Liked by 4 people

    • I listen to them in my car, Noelle, and since I live so far from anything, a couple trips to town is a full-length novel! And some of these books are only about an hour’s read so I can polish one of them off while making dinner. Lol. I’m so glad you found a couple of them that appeal to you. Have a great weekend and Happy Reading!

      Liked by 2 people

  37. Darlene says:

    Some great reading here! I am just in the middle of Poetry Treasures 2: Relationships. I tend to read poetry a little at a time so it is taking me longer but I’m enjoying it so far. So much talent.

    Liked by 4 people

  38. Jan Sikes says:

    Finding this post today made my tired heart sing!! Thank you SO much for reading and reviewing Jagged Feathers! I am honored to sit here with these other amazingly talented authors. I sincerely thank you, Diana!!

    Liked by 5 people

  39. You’re reading up a storm! If you had to name your three or four favorite authors ever, who might they be?

    Liked by 4 people

    • Oh, Neil, that’s a hard question. Some authors came along just at the right time in my life, like Tolkien. Others I’ve enjoyed in phases. Probably right now, I’m drooling over Katherine Arden and Margaret Rogerson, both fantasy writers with a wonderful lyrical style. I attack their books with a highlighter! Lol. Thanks for the great question. And thanks for checking out the reviews. 🙂

      Liked by 3 people

  40. Congrats to everyone. Diana??? You’re amazing.

    Liked by 5 people

  41. You have so many books on your list I want to read, Diana. Right now, I’m devouring Denise’s, A Voice in the Silence. I’m having trouble putting it down to return to my editing!

    Liked by 5 people

  42. Great reviews, Diana. I’ve added A Voice in the Silence to my TBR

    Liked by 5 people

  43. I love your variety of reading. I have read four of these, and they were fantastic. I have A Voice in the Silence coming up fast on my TBR!

    Liked by 6 people

    • Reading blogger books has definitely exposed me to genres that I wouldn’t normally choose, and that’s been tons of fun, Priscilla. I’m delighted to hear that you’ve read a bunch of these. Denise’s book was so hard to describe. It’s definitely creative, and it has a lot of different things going on. Thanks for the visit and Happy Reading!

      Liked by 1 person

    • D.L. Finn, Author says:

      Yay! I hope you enjoy it, Priscilla 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

  44. Another hot mess (mean mix) of books to read! 😋 Thanks Diana

    Liked by 4 people

  45. Another great collection. Thanks, Diana.

    Liked by 4 people

  46. Thanks for the reminder and reviews on most importants books of the last time, Diana! I feel somehow guilty, because i have them on my list, but had not time to read, yet. Best wishes, Michael

    Liked by 4 people

    • I have lots of books on my list, Michael. One of these has been sitting on my reader for over a year… maybe two! No guilt, my friend, there just isn’t the time to read them all. Just have fun when you do. Happy Reading. ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  47. A reading machine is right! “The Insurgent” stood out for me in this group of books.

    Liked by 4 people

    • I’ve finally caught up with my Goodreads challenge, Laurie. I was behind up until this week. The Insurgent is great, and I do recommend reading the duology in order. It’s got a fast pace and some exciting action as well as great characters. Thanks for browsing and have a wonderful weekend!

      Liked by 1 person

  48. I’ve said it before…you’re a reading machine, Diana! Thanks for the terrific reviews. So many great books by our friends.

    Liked by 4 people

    • Thanks, Jill. The weather here is stuck in April, so I’ve been inside more than usual, with time to read. I really enjoy reading indie books and sharing my enjoyment. Glad you enjoyed the reviews! Have a wonderful weekend! ❤

      Liked by 2 people

  49. amreade says:

    Great reviews, Diana, and what amazes me most is that this post is called Part 1! This would be at least two months’ worth of reading for me. I’m impressed! Have a great weekend.

    Liked by 5 people

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