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    1. Arden, NC
      Age: 25-34
      Gender: female
      5 Stars Out Of 5
      Ending left me gasping!
      January 2, 2017
      Arden, NC
      Age: 25-34
      Gender: female
      Quality: 5
      Value: 5
      Meets Expectations: 5
      This review was written for #1: Storm Siren.
      Nym is an Elemental, a supernatural being with the outward appearance of being human but with the inner ability to control Earth's elements and summon storms. Nym's very existence is considered a freak of nature. Before her birth, it was said that only male children could be born with Elemental powers and typically they were killed at birth. Nym's parents are able to hide her for a time, but once her secret is discovered, Nym is sold into slavery. In a span of 11 years, she is sold and sold again fourteen times, each time getting a circular brand on her arm to mark each time she changes owners. After an incident in which Nym's powers were said to have caused the death of multiple innocents, she is grabbed up by a court advisor for the war-torn Kingdom of Faelen and given a choice: either be trained to fight for the Kingdom of Faelen or be executed. Nym agrees to undergo training and finds herself placed in the bonds of slavery once more. Not only that, but she is also immediately thrust into a world of war and court intrigue.

      Nym's battlefield training is overseen by Eogan, a court favorite of Lady Adora, the tyrannical ruler of Faelen. Eogan teaches Nym the extensive history of her people: how over 100 years ago, a war raged between a powerful shape-shifting wizard and the then king of Faelen. To end the war, a treaty was drawn up stating that all Elementals would be killed at birth, those born before the treaty's creation would be sent to camps to die. To this day, people of the Five Kingdoms (Faelen being only one of the five) are divided -- some say the treaty saved the kingdom because the Elementals were growing too powerful, too arrogant, too great in number... while others argue that the treaty turned the kingdom into a wasteland of debauchery. Now the area is at war again, hence the need for Nym's training, even though her Elemental blood is still kept a secret from most.

      But it's not just Nym with fantastical blood. There's also her training partner, Colin, a Terrene with the ability to manipulate topography, and his sister Breck. Breck is one of Lady Adora's house servants and is someone Nym quickly befriends. Nym also learns of another race, the Luminescents, who are capable of seeing into the souls of people, reading their true intentions. Leading the Luminescents is Rasha, heir to one of the other Five Kingdoms. Rasha explains how the power works: the stronger one's dreams and intentions are, the more easily a Luminescent can read you.

      Nym, having spent so many years pretty much just trying to stay alive, is surprised to see how quickly she becomes attached to these characters around her, especially trainer Eogan. As their bond grows, Lady Adora begins to take notice, becoming quite jealous. Her inner green monster grows so large that she pulls Nym aside and gives it to her straight: either keep interactions with Eogan strictly to the training grounds and speak only of training matters, or fear disfigurement... or injury to her friends. As the feudal tension throughout Faelen grows, Nym must make incredibly tough choices about who to trust and who to protect. If she's to save those she's come to know and love, save the kingdom she's come to call home, she realizes she must also find it within herself to embrace her powers rather than fight against them.

      Man, did I get sucked into this one in a hurry! At surface level, Storm Siren is quite the enjoyable fantasy novel; the plot proves just layered enough to stay interesting to story's end yet the world building, while rich and detailed, is explained straightforward enough to be enjoyed by newbies to the fantasy genre. I also liked the variety within the characters themselves.

      Nym is no damsel in distress! She is strong, yet she rages like a wildcat when triggered. She also has great capacity for love, though those around her sometimes have their work cut out for them getting through those emotional walls she's put up. Then there's solid but smirky Eogan, perhaps one of the sexiest men I've met in fantasy in a long while. And for those who are always on the hunt for fantasy with a diverse cast -- male lead Eogan is described as a beautiful, dark black man! Eogan does a nice job of balancing pep talks to get Nym to believe in herself (and trust that she's not a monster unworthy of love or respect) with "I have no time for your nonsense tantrums, pull yourself together" shutdowns. Loved it!

      I also got a kick out of Myles, even though I was sometimes frustrated with him, as most of the time I was conflicted with what to make of him! For large chunks of the story he seems to be an adversary to Nym but then he'd turn around and offer help but then have the reader wondering about his motives. He has powers of his own, as well as a stutter that gets in the way of his trying to build up that presence of possible wickedness. Hard to truly hate someone when you just end up feeling bad for them!

      Underneath the fun fantasy adventure though, what I truly appreciated was the powerful, motivational message at the heart of the novel: that what you think might be a flaw within you might actually end up being your greatest strength, if you only learn to harness it rather than fight it. Nym spends so many years fighting this guilty feeling that she's this monstrous thing that doesn't deserve to live... until she is brought to that moment in life when she's placed in this reality where only her exact talents can save a nation of people. That's such an inspiring idea to bring to a reader -- that the thing you've spent so much time trying to stifle could end up being the one thing down the road that people will need to get them through... you just never know! So now where will Nym's new-found truth take her next? Wherever it is, you can bet she'll be more likely to have her eyes on the horizon rather than her feet!
    2. 4 Stars Out Of 5
      Start of a series that will leave you breathless...
      March 24, 2016
      Just Commonly
      Quality: 4
      Value: 4
      Meets Expectations: 4
      WHOA!!! WOW!!! First, lets just comment on how GORGEOUS these covers are. I'm nearly mesmerized by it, all of them, but then you read the stories, and you're blown away by the intensity that the covers are just the tip of it. And with Siren's Song, so appropriate with the rings and the green. Just perfect.

      Storm Siren gave me the background, and the start of a romance that I am digging and friendships that had me laugh and smirk several times repeatedly. The training was fun and had me imagine the extent of creativity in this fantasy world of Faelen, Elementals, Terrenes and Uathuils. Then there's the impact of the battle of the Keep and what Draewulf is and have become had me stunned and in search of Siren's Fury right away.

      For the full review, please visit Just Commonly Blog, where this review first appeared.

      NOTE: I received a complimentary ARC of this trilogy through The Fantastic Flying Book Club Book Tours in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed are my own. For my review policy, please see my Disclosure page.
    3. Irvine, CA
      Age: 55-65
      Gender: male
      5 Stars Out Of 5
      Kingdom In Peril, War, Hope Suspense Thriller
      April 15, 2015
      Irvine, CA
      Age: 55-65
      Gender: male
      Quality: 5
      Value: 5
      Meets Expectations: 5
      Mary Weber in her new book Storm Siren Book One in the Storm Siren series published by Thomas Nelson introduces us to Nym.

      From the back cover: I raise my chin as the buyers stare. Yes. Look. You dont want me. Because, eventually, accidentally, I will destroy you.

      In a world at war, a slave girls lethal curse could become one kingdoms weapon of salvation. If the curse and the girl can be controlled.

      As a slave in the war-weary kingdom of Faelen, seventeen-year-old Nym isnt merely devoid of rights, her Elemental kind are only born male and always killed at birth meaning, she shouldnt even exist.

      Standing on the auction block beneath smoke-drenched mountains, Nym faces her fifteenth sell. But when her hood is removed and her storm-summoning killing curse revealed, Nym is snatched up by a court advisor and given a choice: be trained as the weapon Faelen needs to win the war, or be killed.

      Choosing the former, Nym is unleashed into a world of politics, bizarre parties, and rumors of an evil more sinister than shes being prepared to fight . . . not to mention the handsome trainer whose dark secrets lie behind a mysterious ability to calm every lightning strike she summons.

      But what if she doesnt want to be the weapon theyve all been waiting for?

      Set in a beautifully eclectic world of suspicion, super abilities, and monsters, Storm Siren is a story of power. And whoever controls that power will win.

      The Kingdom is tired. The war has dragged on and everyone desires its end. Then Nym is put up on the auction block and suddenly there is a glimmer of hope. Now Nym is being groomed to use her powers in defense of Faelen. There is political chicanery, battles, adventures and loss. This is definitely a suspense thriller that will keep you flipping pages as fast as you can read. Yes, it is set with a darker tone than most however I am sure this will change as the series progresses. Ms. Weber gives us such great characters that we are always rooting for them to succeed and get together with each other. I am so looking forward to the next book in this series from this talented author.

      Disclosure of Material Connection: In conjunction with the CSFF Blog Tour, I received a free copy of this book from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commissions 16 CFR, Part 255: Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.
    4. Oak Harbor, WA
      Age: 55-65
      Gender: female
      3 Stars Out Of 5
      Inadequate introduction to a fantasy world
      April 13, 2015
      Oak Harbor, WA
      Age: 55-65
      Gender: female
      Quality: 3
      Value: 4
      Meets Expectations: 3
      I have mixed feelings about this novel. There were some aspects I liked but others I found disappointing.

      The novel opens with Nymia on the slave market. When her cloak is pulled off and the crowd sees her silver hair, they know what kind of dangerous being she is. But she is purchased by Adora, a mysterious woman who dresses oddly yet is very wealthy and has great political influence. Rather than being relegated to the horror of female slavery yet again, Nymia is to be trained to use her special abilities to fight for the kingdom.

      I liked the idea of characters with special abilities. Our heroine can control the weather, that is, bring on a storm or have someone struck with lightning. There is another character who has the ability to manipulate the earth and create large chasms. Another has been given a wall of protection while yet another can control another person's thoughts.

      I like the idea of a war as the island kingdom of Faelen is being attacked. There are good guys and bad guys and sometimes they seem to morph from one to the other. Like Nymia, I wanted to believe and trust certain characters yet doubted everyone from time to time. The betrayal of characters was so frequent I often had trouble keeping straight who was on whose side.

      The war is somewhat twofold. One aspect of it is for Nymia's soul. Will she ever be healed of the pain and horror of what she did as a child? Will she be transformed into a killing machine? The other aspect is the larger war for the survival of Faelen. It is a war against invading evil, although Faelen is not without evil itself. Will evil have the last word and destroy who they are? The latter war reaches its peek with a really great battle scene near the end.

      Creating a fantasy world is a difficult task. There is the creation of both the characters and the world they inhabit. Essential to the task is good description. That is one area I felt was inadequate in this book. I had a difficult time picturing the landscape, the buildings, the animals. At one point a bolcrane appears. It is slime-covered and black, we read. It is bigger than a horse and has a crocodilian mouth with fangs and jaws that could wrap around a torso. It has a leathery, bloated form with poisoned quills. But what we do not know is something as simple as how many legs it has, the color of its eyes, or if it even has eyes. As I tried to picture the beast, I found myself lacking so much detail I could not do it. A paragraph of chilling description would have greatly enhanced the emotional punch of the scene.

      I found the same inhibiting lack of description time after time. When we read of the air ships, there is description about their shape and attachments, but never an indication of color, not even of the pale balloon above each one or the dragon painted on the side.

      There are some concepts in the novel that would make for interesting discussion. At one point Nymia says, How can you say it's not a person's fault when he harms others, whether intentionally or not, but then say its honorable when he chooses to help? (271) Is a person born to do a life task, good or evil? What about being held responsible for such tasks? Nymia has an aversion to killing people and animals, even the enemy, even when she knows that enemy is out to destroy her. That would be a topic for discussion too. Another important issue in the book is Nymia and her feelings of self-loathing, fear, and self-harm. One of the questions in the Reading Group Guide gives a resource for young people struggling with those same feelings.

      I would not recommend this book for young teens. There is a somewhat sexual overtone that runs through several of Nymia's experiences that would only be suitable for older teens.

      There is a twist at the very end that leaves us hanging. I do hope the next in the trilogy will help me better visualize the people, places, and things.

      I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher in conjunction with the CSFF Blog Tour.
    5. 5 Stars Out Of 5
      Action-Packed Christian Fantasy with Romance and Elements of Steampunk
      January 14, 2015
      Quality: 5
      Value: 5
      Meets Expectations: 5
      Storm Siren, by Mary Weber, is an action-packed fantasy with a few elements of steampunk and romance. When an advisor to the king discovers Nyms ability to control the weather, the woman buys Nym and forces her to train to use her skills as a weapon to end the age-long war their country is losing. But Nym does not want to kill anyone. She has done it so many times on accident that being forced into killing others sounds atrocious. Unfortunately, the alternative is death. Will Nym ever learn to control her abilities and come to terms with her power?

      Immediately upon viewing the cover of Storm Siren, I wanted to read it. The description made me even more curious. I always love a good fantasy, especially when the main character has special abilities. Storm Siren did not disappoint me. Storm Siren was interesting all the way through, with romance, mystery, and earth-shattering power.

      I enjoyed the plot. There was always danger and deadlines hanging over the characters. Threats, betrayal, and secrets came from every side as Nym fought to learn control of her abilities. Nym, Eogan, Colin, and Breck went on adventures into town and the forest and heard all kinds of strange rumors. The climax was amazing and tragic, and the end was a cliffhanger.

      One of the themes in the book is guilt. Nym was filled with guilt for the people she killed. Eogan, her trainer, however, makes the point that the guilt is good. Otherwise, peoples lives begin to lose their value in the killers mind. Even though war and killing is sometimes necessary, a person must never lose sight of the value of human life.

      Most of all, I loved watching Nym grow. At the beginning, she was very depressed and angry because of all the deaths she had caused. She thought she was a monster deserving only death. But Eogan, her other friends, and God taught Nym that she was special, important, and loved. Her power was only complete when she allowed God into her life.

      I am happy to say, I fully enjoyed Storm Siren and cannot wait until the next one!

      I received a free copy of Storm Siren from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
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