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Demon Heart

DEMON HEART by [David Crane, Mary Holzrichter]

Published in 2017, David Crane’s dramatic Sci-Fi novel, Demon Heart, is set in Osaka, Japan. It explores the roles of light and darkness in shaping the human experience. It is a powerful narrative about Naoko Kitamura, the protagonist who realizes that she is half-demon. Living amongst human beings, the character learns how to manage this dark side – by controlling the intensity of her powers.

Crane’s readers realize that learning one’s true identity has a significance in their life journey. All the challenges faced by Naoko, prove her strength and ability to achieve victory, regardless of all the tough circumstances at play.

I give this book a 5-star rating for numerous reasons. First, it was cathartic to read it in first person narration, as this made me feel closer to Naoko, the protagonist. It was easier to understand all the psychological battles within her mind, by progressing with her thoughts, throughout the story.

Furthermore, the book gives an account of the themes of good and evil, and the basis of human existence. Naoko reveals to her characters the importance of accepting one’s identity. Suppressing the shadows and demons within us only leads to chaos. If she wasn’t aware of her true identity, it’d be difficult for her to understand the origin of all the darkness around her.

Through the writing of Crane, the readers perceive demons from a different light. We have been taught, so often, that demons are destructive, and don’t want the best for humans. This is quite clear when Naoko is expected to keep her true identity a secret. Human beings cannot handle the intensity of divinity thus, they shouldn’t know much about this world. Keeping it a secret is also psychological since humans would not have the capacity to understand the healing powers of a demon-hybrid.

However, Naoko manages to engage the readers’ empathetic sides, as she thrives to create a balance between good and evil in the world. She is indeed one of the genuine police officers, who attempt to create this balance, while greatly fighting against evil.

This book also teaches its readers about Japanese cultures, traditions and beliefs, and it is a great narrative for readers like me, with a keen interest in the spiritual realm.

The story captured my attention, right from the title, and I’ll be sure to give it a second reading due to how much I related with the protagonist and her experiences.

Pages: 272 | ASIN: B074DSSBPY

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Regrets

Regrets by [Milton Schacter]

Bradley, a grumpy old man, goes into his favorite liquor store one night to get a bottle of wine. Not knowing of what is awaiting him, everything changes when he is shot by a mugger. It would be obvious for Bradley’s story to end with his death but he wakes up in his former school where he used to play basketball and meets Pete who explains to him that his life is not over yet and how linear time works. Bradley is given another chance to live and face all the things he regrets from his younger age and makes amends but this will happen in the body of a young African American teen named DeShawn.

The author introduces his readers to the life of Bradley in a unique manner that I found to be full of gripping twists. The plot is easy to follow and captivating. The readers can feel the confusion of Bradley when he wakes up in his former high school in a different teens body, yet he is in his seventies. This opens the reader to another world of intriguing possibilities and a unique view at what things would look like if something of the sort happened like what Bradley faced. Pete is a representation of the state between heaven and hell. The conversation between Pete and Brad is philosophical and riveting. When Brad is given another chance to go back, make amends and face his regrets, it superbly sets up the story to explore possibilities, and the plethora of possibilities is what makes this novel immensely engaging.

Every piece of this book has been crafted carefully and the story line is fascinating. More than just being a great book, it creates a bond between two different worlds; the Midwestern life of Bradley and the “hood” life of DeShawn. Regrets uses a unique idea to explore the choices we all make in life. The author has also done a marvelous job of addressing the issues that most African Americans face in America and he advocates for Black Lives Matter in a fictional yet realistic way. I highly recommend this book.

Pages: 319 | ASIN: B0892P99KN

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Wounded

Wounded by [Burgess Jr., Ben]

Some scars will destroy everything in your path. No one understood this better than Samantha. After being a heartless and disengaged person for most of her life, she has no remorse about what she does to other people. She is perfectly fine deceiving and targeting women. That is until she meets Sasha, who upturns her entire life. Sasha loses some important people in her life for the simple reason that she loves Samantha. However, Sam’s past and her scars will ruin everything. Isis died but who will Samantha be now? Can she make it having lost a chunk of her heart? Can love truly improve a person?

Ben Burgess Jr writes Wounded with a passion that will make you feel the characters devastation. It is sad to watch Sam be the person she is, knowing full well she could be different. The stories of Sam’s childhood are told with vivid emotion and pain that the reader cannot help but empathize with a person who is still a scarred little girl inside. Even when she messes up, the reader still remains on her side. This book will keep you hoping that love will finally show up and conquer all. When you think it finally has, unseen twists will have you reeling.

It is evident that Samantha’s character took time to sculpt. She is deeply complex and multidimensional. This only increases the frustration when other characters do not see these sides too. She is an extraordinarily broken person but the enthusiasm with which she executes her bitterness is inspiring. The friends, among other supporting characters, are developed enough to make them interesting but allow Sam to remain the driving force in this novel.

The emotive way in which this book has been written, along with a vibrant use of language, makes the writing simple yet captivating. However, I felt like the story was wrapped up a little too quickly. I wanted to see more of the process that led to Samantha’s change and I felt like the death of Isis should be broken down as we simultaneously witness the birth of a new Sam.

This book pulls you in right from the beginning. You will find yourself hoping for a better Sam right from the first page. Wounded will inspire an emotional investment. After this emotional roller-coaster, at least you will get a happy ending.

Pages: 224 | ASIN: B07TT13N13

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The Astral Surge

The Astral Surge by [Nirmal Ranganathan]

The Astral Surge follows the life of two main characters, Ron and Catherine. The book starts off by revealing our characters’ past. They meet after Catherine’s mom adopts Ron and they start an interesting life together. However, Ron starts revealing some dark tendencies that cause Catherine to wonder about her brother. As they grow older, they find their respective careers and take different yet similar paths that show their true selves. Eventually, it all culminates in some pivotal events which have big consequences – both good and bad – for our main characters and certain other people.
The book starts slow, and although the beginning confused me, it helped set the context for the later part of the story. The characters were intriguing and well developed. I liked the way they continued to develop as the story progressed. I enjoyed the characters being realistic. It helped in my easily empathizing with them.
Ron is a uniquely interesting character. The way the book documents his descent down the path he chose is both chilling and gripping. One example of this is the conversation he has with his soon-to-be-wife. She doesn’t notice it as much, but in this scene, you get a sense of his internal conflicts.
I also feel that the characters sometimes express an out-of-place carefree or happy attitude, which makes the book hard to read at certain points. However, the novel makes up for this with a plot that keeps you engaged. The author smoothly transitions between different points of view of each character. We can see this in the way the book shifts its focus on each of them in every chapter.
Catherine’s character is wonderfully developed too, showing her awareness of Ron’s issues and how she continues to watch over him.
Another character I felt contributed significantly to the story was the FBI agent Peter Fox. His helping nature and the chemistry he had with the other characters throughout the book added an extra dash of intrigue to the story. For example,  the way he goes about assisting Antony was something that I personally found surprising. It added a nice touch to the main plot.

Overall, the book has equal amounts of action and a story that is well balanced. It does a fantastic job of bringing together all its characters and tying their situations up in a satisfying way that is sure to appeal to any fan of paranormal fiction.

Pages: 272 | ASIN: B07NY31HNK

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The Ancient Sacred Tree: Birthing a Hero

The Ancient Sacred Tree: Birthing a Hero by [Brenner, Dawnette N.]

The Ancient Sacred Tree: Birth of a Hero by author Dawnette N. Brenner is about a 12-year-old boy named Joshua who finds himself thrust into a magical land full of danger.

This book made me really emotional. Not only does the book cover a tough but important topic, how kids deal with divorce, but the quotes from anonymous children talking about divorce were heartbreaking. It really is important to remember that kids can be affected in different ways and often see more than people think, and like Joshua, often feel guilt. And on top of that, the book is also dealing with mental illness as Joshua is a pre-teen dealing with bipolar disorder. Having a book that deals with subjects like this is very important, and I feel that Brenner handled the subjects really well. This is the kind of book that readers can definitely connect to, both in how you deal with struggles and watching the struggles of others.

Brenner has done a fantastic job of entering into the mind of a child. The imaginative world that Joshua finds himself in is a great representation of the kind of imaginary places children make up to escape to. I loved how the land of Ice Plants and Norkels has not just a dreamlike quality but really captures how imaginary worlds are distorted versions of what we see and know. Things like Thragons that seem close to familiar but are a magic of their own. The imagery she uses really brings the fantastical world to life. The back and forth switch from the magical realm to the real world is disorienting, but it is clear that this was intentional as we watch Joshua dealing with the world around him.

Joshua is an incredible character who is dealing with a great deal both internally and externally. This book is a magical way of showing and handling tough subjects for your adult readers. I found this book to be enchanting to read, even when it made me want to cry, and I would highly recommend it. I would definitely give this book 5 stars for its unique creativity, and the extraordinary way it deals with its subject matter. I look forward to reading book two!

Pages: 186 | ASIN: B074PK4GHW

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