Archive for September 2017

Review of Crown of Souls by Ronie Kendig   Leave a comment

Six months after stopping a deadly plague, Cole “Tox” Russell and his team are enjoying a little rest. That peace is short-lived when a sniper shot hits Tox. The enemy is discovered to be one of their own, a rogue Special Forces team operator.

Alec King is perhaps the only person as skilled as Tox, and he’s out for justice. Furious with orders that got his men killed, he intends to make those responsible pay. And he insists Tox join him, believing they are the same breed of soldier.

Afraid his old friend is right, Tox battles a growing darkness within himself as he and his team engage in another deadly encounter with antiquity. It appears Alec is cheating–he’s using a mysterious artifact, a crown that history has linked to some of the worst slaughters in humanity. Racing to stop Alec before his vengeance is unleashed, Tox must fight the monster without becoming one.

***

This is another read that’s most unusual for me. I have never read or been interested in military suspense. But when I read that there was a touch of sci-fi and supernatural elements in there (plus the fact this was the only appealing read in the fiction request section) I decided to take a chance on it.

Despite being the second book in the series, I had no problems picking up on the story, which starts out with a shot on the very first page with our hero Cole “Tox” Russel. While there were a couple clunky parts in places, I have to be very honest. This is one of the best written suspense stories I have ever read! Especially being military focused, because I usually don’t like either suspense or military fiction. Crown of Souls proved to be the exception. I actually got hooked, which amazed even me. The plot was pretty face-paced (again, couple clunky spots that sagged, but nothing major) and the character development was just beautiful. I didn’t like some spots where the author made some rapid switches from one character’s point of view to another, but the story is too good to really care.

Tox makes for one incredible character. He’s a warrior haunted by death and worse, the things he’s had to do in the name of serving his country that not even his own team know. Is he worthy of redemption? Would his team leave him if they found out about his secret? And what is always foremost in his mind, would the one girl he loves ever be able to forgive him?

Through it all, Haven shines like a beacon. Her love for Tox is an anchor, and her quiet faith both draws him and dares him to believe.

If you’re looking for an action-packed story with faith, romance, and intrigue that will keep you up turning those pages, I highly recommend buying this book. I’m already looking to get the first book, and I’m certainly going to be waiting eagerly for the third!

Small warning here to those a little squeamish: there are some graphic scenes in here. This is a military novel, so this kind of stuff will be present, but it’s not a book jammed to the hilt with it. But zero in the bad language and sexual content.

Verdict: Buy immediately!

(I received a free copy of the book from the publisher and author in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed are my own.)

Review of The Warble by Victoria Simcox   2 comments

In this first adventure of the Bernovem Chronicles, young Kristina is whisked away to the magical land of Bernovem after she opens a mysterious box from her teacher. There, she finds out she must deliver the magical Warble to its resting place and break the hold of the evil queen holding everyone in bondage. Though danger lurks at every turn, Kristina and the friends she makes along the way fight to bring back peace to the realm.

The story has a Narnia vibe, what with Kristina being sucked away into a magical land with gnomes, fairies, dwarves, and talking animals, but carries a distinct flavor of its own. Each page is a delightful enchantment, and when you reach the end, you feel the need to go back to the beginning and start reading all over again. The character development is solid, and the writing clear. And even more, I loved the parallels to the return of Christ that were weaved throughout the story.

Victoria Simcox is a highly skilled and creative author who has managed to carve a unique world that I look forward to visiting once again!

Amazon: https://tinyurl.com/z3nuv5l

Posted September 16, 2017 by J.M. Christian in book reviews

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Looking Back and Going Forward….   2 comments

Greetings, all! Been awhile since I posted something that wasn’t a review of a book or movie, so time to change that. And I want to start with giving an update on the final book to The Heart of Light Trilogy, and an apology on the lengthy delay in releasing it. It’s hard to believe that it’s been 2 years since Crown of Ravens was published. In that time, I’ve furthered my career in graphic designing, and just this year started taking courses so I can move into web development and design. I never forgot about the series and writing in general, but it’s one of those things that starts to get put in the back seat when you’re dealing with life and trying to support yourself. It gets harder and harder to make time when so much is needed for the more pressing issues, and every day you’re racing to catch up and cram as much as you can into that short space so you don’t fall behind. And with the audience for my books not being large, it was easier to put off the third book for “later”.

I’ll be honest, I never did much with marketing my books. I take full blame on that one. 😛 When I first published the series, I had to make the art myself, and while I was confident in the story itself (my mom and I did double-time on the editing) I wasn’t as confident in the cover art. If there’s one thing I pride myself in, it’s knowing a good cover. And while I will never knock my old work (it was pretty advanced for what I knew back then) I am brutally honest. It had some serious flaws, and trying to market a book with a cover you know is not put together very well is scary.

Last year was when my skills with making graphic art got to a point that I knew I could finally, FINALLY, give these stories the spectacular artwork I had always coveted in other books, and that they deserved.

I was already in a competition where the contestants needed to choose one of their older works and redo them. I looked through some of my older artworks, and the one for Crown of Ravens caught my eye. Right there, I decided to go for it. And behold, what I got was the art I had always dreamed of seeing on one of my books. I was even able to make the crown itself, a feat all on its own that I was unable to do before. (And yes, I was kicking myself for writing it as black. Gold sure would have easier. 😛 )

So Crown of Ravens was taken care of. It had a gorgeous cover, but now we come to The Dark Wolf. That book will always be my baby because it was my first, and from the start, I was never happy with the cover it got. Don’t get me wrong, I take pride in what I was able to make back then. I had ZERO experience making that stuff, and at the time, I had only a couple tutorials on Youtube to get me going. So it was big thing for me to even make a cover on my own. But again, I knew it had flaws, and it wasn’t the best work to represent the story. The first cover for Crown of Ravens had its own problems, but even that looked visually more appealing. As the years went by and I continued learning graphic art and design, The Dark Wolf went through 4 different cover variations as my skills gradually increased (I feel so sorry for putting it through that 😦 ). Last year was when the cover switching finally ended with the creation of the fifth and final work with a brand new piece of art.

Before

After

 

Before

After

I got both covers prepped and put together, then uploaded them to Amazon. Honestly, I did get a little thrill when the covers appeared on Amazon. 🙂 It was the art I had always dreamed of having for a story of mine. And at last, I finally had it. I did try to market it, but again I got sidetracked, and that was put on the back shelf. My workload was growing, and when I decided to take the leap into web development, that just added to my already full plate.

It was actually one of my friends who recently read my books that gave me the shot of encouragement and motivation I needed. And I realized I had to go back. I needed to finish what I started, not just for the dear readers out there, but also for myself and for the story that got me started on this journey through life. It was that first book, The Dark Wolf, that led me here. Now, I need to give it and the readers out there the ending they deserve.

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Now you’re probably asking, “The update, man! Where are things with that third book (you dang slow author you)!”
Okay, enough suspense here. 😛 Currently, I’m still on the first draft but have managed to reach the halfway point on it. And I have already plotted out the remaining chapters, so no time will be wasted with wondering where the story should go. While a 2017 release is not likely at this point, 2018 is. I can’t give an exact date, but I’m looking at publishing the third book in either summer or fall of next year, depending on my schedule. Regardless, I want to let all of you know that the third book will be published, and the series resolved. And once again, I apologize for the LONG delay. The last chapter of The Heart of Light Trilogy is coming, folks. May have taken awhile, but it is coming, so hang in there.

Next post, I’ll be sharing some exciting news about what to expect for the third book. And I promise, I won’t do my usual and post a month later. 😉

(Disclaimer: Image and art used is my work and copyrighted)

Review of The Assault (Harbingers)   Leave a comment

Cycle 2 of the Harbingers series continues the story of four gifted strangers brought together to fight a growing darkness.

In Bill Myers’s “The Revealing,” the team finds themselves in Rome trying to retrieve the mystical spear Hitler once owned–the very spear that pierced Christ’s side. This task will take them from hidden chambers inside the Vatican to a mysterious seaside cave with powers they could never expect.

Frank Peretti’s “Infestation” unleashes a microscopic evil on the world that deceives, blinds, kills, then spreads. The Harbingers team must confront a monster bent on seducing and destroying mankind.

In “Infiltration” by Angela Hunt, the team is wounded and barely holding together. Forced to split up, they realize their investigations have led them into dangerous waters.

Alton Gansky’s “The Fog” unleashes a supernatural mist unlike any other. There are vicious things in the fog that kill whatever they find. One team member realizes that the ultimate sacrifice may have to be made.

***

So this story was a little different than what I usually read. I’m not a fan of suspense (which is why there is probably only four other books like that in my collection) as I have found that with suspense, the author is so busy trying to create it that important things like character development and romance are neglected. But when I saw that this had a supernatural angle to it, I thought I would go ahead and give it a try, despite it being the second book in the series.

Bill Myer’s episode is what we begin with first, and starts us from the perspective of the tattoo artist, one of the four unique people this series revolves around (and no, they’re not even close to X-Men) who find themselves trying to find the spear that pierced Jesus’s side and end up in a house crazier than Wonderland. I could say it was because of just plunging right into the story without having read the first book that led to my initial dislike, but I would be lying. I just really don’t like Bill Myer’s writing. I have only read one other book by him, and what turned me off then turns me off now. A muddled plot that is really boring, poor character development, and, yes, it may be minor but still bugs me, one dirty word: p***.

After suffering through Myer’s part, I was praying really hard Peretti would not disappoint. And thank God, he didn’t. One thing he does, which a lot of people don’t do: write some solid character development. And he starts us with the crusty, ex-priest, atheist professor. Good writing and a plot that actually deserves the name “suspense” keep you turning those pages. And might I add, the element of faith was better presented too.

The third part is written my Angela Hunt (who I do like after reading her novel, Egypt’s Sister). It’s a bit of a lag after Frank Peretti’s engaging tale and an annoying professor you were silently rooting for. Andi, the professor’s assistant, is who we now focus on. Not bad, but still a drop from the previous part.

Fourth is by Alton Gansky who switches us to Tank, the Christian ex-football player, and a supernatural fog that invades the city. The story starts off slow, but builds up the further you go, and gives us a nice climatic scene at the end and a hero’s sacrifice.

After all was said and done, I actually did enjoy the story, minus Myer’s part. So I’ll continue to follow it. While it has its ups and downs, the premise and characters are engaging enough for me to want to continue. And the element of faith, though subtle, is a driving point for each character’s journey.

Verdict: Definitely not a must-have, but it’s a decent story for suspense lovers and those needing something to read.

(I received a free copy of the book from the publisher and author in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed are my own.)

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