Review of Holding the Fort by Regina Jennings   Leave a comment

 

Louisa Bell never wanted to be a dance-hall singer, but dire circumstances force her hand. With a little help from her brother in the cavalry, she’s able to make ends meet, but lately he’s run afoul of his commanding officer, so she undertakes a visit to straighten him out.

Major Daniel Adams has his hands full at Fort Reno. He can barely control his rowdy troops, much less his two adolescent daughters. If Daniel doesn’t find someone respectable to guide his children, his mother-in-law insists she’ll take them.

When Louisa arrives with some reading materials, she’s mistaken for the governess who never appeared. Major Adams is skeptical. She bears little resemblance to his idea of a governess–they’re not supposed to be so blamed pretty–but he’s left without recourse. His mother-in-law must be satisfied, which leaves him turning a blind eye to his unconventional governess’s methods. Louisa’s never faced so important a performance. Can she keep her act together long enough?

***

 

I originally requested this as something for my mom to read. Originally, I was thinking about going for the sequel to Harbingers, which I reviewed a few months back. But upon reading the premise, what little enthusiasm I had quickly evaporated. So I asked my mom to choose the book she liked the most that would appeal to her, and I’d give it to her to read after I was done. This was her top choice.

My expectations going into this read were low. I don’t particularly like stories set in the old west, and after my last read, I held little hope of even the romance element being worthwhile. Imagine my surprise when I ended up enjoying the story!

As far as pace goes, it doesn’t lag. Everything is kept moving, without the boring spots you sometimes encounter with historical romance fiction. And the characters themselves are ones with heart and personality that keep you turning the pages to see what happens next.

Louise is a spunky strong woman, with a passion for singing and a heart that’s devoted to those she cares for. With her parents dead and her brother serving in the army, singing in saloons is the only thing that has stood between her and the street. When she’s faced with unexpected unemployment and then news of her brother in trouble with his commanding officer, she makes the decision to go seek a new life for herself and straighten out her brother. Her hope is that the US Calvary is in need of some wholesome entertainment. But after promising to make a simple delivery of books, she is mistaken for the governess Major Daniel Adams requested to help rein in his unruly girls. Though she has little book learning, she goes along with the assumption, figuring it will give her the chance to aid her brother.

Major Adams is great at running a fort, but he struggles with raising two girls. Caught between the two, he’s forced to always be at his best with little time for engaging in any silliness. Allowing himself to try out a stunt ends up with him injuring himself right in front of Louise. When she doesn’t reveal his secret, he feels obligated to give her a chance as the governess for his children, despite his suspicions.

I really enjoyed Louise and watching her use her wits to maintain her facade as a refined and educated woman. Even though she feels completely overwhelmed and fearful of the moment when she is found out, she doesn’t back down. She gives the performance of a confident governess her best shot, and during her free hours when she is alone, struggles to learn the subjects she needs to stay ahead of the girls she is tutoring. What also adds to the character is that she has always been judged by the church ladies of her hometown and scorned by them without ever being given the chance to prove herself or that the accusations against her are false. As a result, she doesn’t see God as a loving God, and doubts her self-worth.

Major Daniel Adams, as far as male leads go, wasn’t bad. While I wouldn’t call him a favorite, he worked well in the story. He’s a typical stiff military man, but with Louise, that’s when more personality and feeling breaks free. Though he’s suspicious of Louise’s story and background, he opts to give her a chance. His attraction to her grows, especially when he sees how well she and his children get along.

What I really liked about Major Adams was that he went by Louise’s heart and stuck by her. Even when given the opportunity to find evidence that would provide him with the truth about Louise, he refused to take it, choosing instead to trust her and what he felt in his own heart about her.

Personally, I feel there should have been another character to help with leading Louise and Daniel in having a relationship with God, or a stronger one in Daniel’s case, since he was already a Christian. It felt awkward when he would go talking about God and how Jesus is there for all, since it felt like he was a little lost too and needed guidance himself, but it doesn’t detract from the story. The romance is good, and you’ll be rewarded by a sweet ending that makes you eager for the next book in the series.

Verdict: A definite buy!

(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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Review of The Sound of Rain by Sarah Loudin Thomas   Leave a comment

Judd Markley is a hardworking coal miner who rarely thinks much past tomorrow until he loses his brother–and nearly his own life–in a mine cave-in. Vowing never to enter the darkness of a mine again, he leaves all he knows in West Virginia to escape to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. It’s 1954, the seaside community is thriving, and Judd soon hires on with a timber company.

Larkin Heyward’s life in Myrtle Beach is uncomplicated, mostly doing volunteer work and dancing at the Pavilion. But she dreams of one day doing more–maybe moving to the hollers of Kentucky to help the poor children of Appalachia. But she’s never even met someone who’s lived there–until she encounters Judd, the newest employee at her father’s timber company.

Drawn together in the wake of a devastating hurricane, Judd and Larkin each seek answers to what tomorrow will bring. As opposition rises against following their divergent dreams, they realize that it may take a miracle for them to be together.

***

After a mining accident that nearly claimed Judd Markley’s life and took that of his brother, Judd decides on a drastic change by leaving all he’s ever known and embarking on the life he would have wanted his brother to have.

Larkin Heyward is a pampered rich girl who dreams of doing something big in the world that will make her feel useful, but feels compelled to stay with her family after the loss of her brother.

I’m always been drawn to deep stories. Those make up some of my all time favorites, so when I read the summary for this, its promise of a haunting and poignant story convinced me to give it a try. Unfortunately, its promise turned out to be hallow, at least for me.

The beginning starts out decent enough, with us trapped in the cave-in with Judd. And even his journey to South Carolina as he tries to mend his broken heart keeps you turning the pages. Larkin is okay, but not what you would call ever compelling. Still, I waited to see her journey of growth and romance with Judd.

Results were less than adequate. Like one reviewer already mentioned here, the premise advertised for this story is a little deceptive. Part of the draw in selecting this story was reading about a hurricane ripping through the town and drawing Judd and Larkin together. That hurricane went by as fast as it came, and left next to zero impact on the characters, unless you can count getting soaked in the rain as something. I didn’t even reach the halfway point in the story before it was gone. Expecting to see the characters rally after the horror and trauma of this devastating ordeal, I was surprised at how quickly the whole ordeal was glossed over. We then move to Larkin attempting an escape away from her domineering father so she can join her brother in bringing help to those “poor Appalachian folks”. And yes, my reaction did mirror Judd’s with that one.

With the hurricane moment gone, I thought we were going to do the whole ‘rich woman goes to the backwoods and learns how to fend for herself’ thing. Again, glossed over.

Honestly, the story wandered. I felt the author really didn’t know where to lead the story, so we kind of just weaved in and out of bits of drama, that were thrown in there just to keep things going.

The part about learning to live your life and healing is great, but you want to see some kind of journey with that and growth on the characters’ parts. Judd stayed as the mild-mannered man always reflecting on the loss of his brother and doing the same thing every day, while Larkin remained as a spoiled and impulsive woman who doesn’t change until practically near the end of the book.

Spiritual elements are about the same. One character will go off spouting a sermon or such, but that’s about the extent of it. You more cringe than feel anything resonant within you, which is quite disappointing. The only positive thing I can give this story is that the writing is good. I just wish the story had measured up to it.

Conclusion: As a mild, light read that takes its time and doesn’t worry about pacing, character growth, or a meaningful spiritual connection much, this is it, and judging from the amount of positive reviews on here, I believe the majority will find this story much more to their liking.

Verdict: Pass

(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.)

Cyber Monday Sale!   Leave a comment

Hello, everyone! It’s Cyber Monday today, which means bargains galore. After putting this off for months, I’m finally having a free ebook sale on The Dark Wolf! 😀 So if you’re curious about the series and been wanting to give it a try, now is your chance. The sale only runs for 5 days, from now to December 1st, so you have a limited time to grab a copy.

Buying from Amazon is easy. Simply create a free account on their site. Once you’re registered, go to the book’s page and press “Buy now with one click”. Done! Now if you don’t have the Kindle app, again, it’s free to download. You can enter your email or phone number to get it straight from Amazon, or just grab it from one of the major app stores out there.
And if none of you mind, please consider leaving an honest review of The Dark Wolf on Amazon once you’re done. 🙂

Click to order The Dark Wolf on Amazon

 

Here are some of the current reviews for The Dark Wolf:

***

Okay.. so overall THE DARK WOLF is something I want to see in a movie. It’s an honest, ‘say yes!’ Characters are well presented, especially with the main two, Darvir and Elaine. There are parts that reminds of LOTR, but I’m happy how you put things together to form a solid and unique turn of the story. – Mary  J

For the Dark Wolf of The Heart Of Trilogy. I’m still in love with the book until these days. How I prayed that the book will become a bookseller in the market and will turn out to be a movie. I’m not just saying this because the author is my friend. Rather, the book is greatly written. It has a very intricate plot but I can see the beauty it withhold. And I didn’t see any loopholes. The author weaved together the story wonderfully. And every character in his book have their own tales to tell. May it be the protagonists, the antagonists and even the supporting characters. You definitely can learn from them and even relate to them. Because it may be a Christian fantasy but it’s also happening in reality for some sort. There are some part of the book that made me so emotional. And what I truly love about the book because it really emphasized that Elosha, or Abba Father in reality will always be powerful, merciful, compassionate, loving to His people. – Whinnlight

Truly a five star rating! Could not put the book down. Loved the plot and the characters. This book had excitement, thrilling build-ups, and twist in the plot. Believe me you will not waste your money. Going to go get the second part right now. – Mike B

J.M. Christian weaves together a masterful tale in The Dark Wolf. The reader feels and empathizes with what the characters feel as they go through their struggles. Christian’s development of his characters allows the everyday person to completely relate to them. The entire world comes to life with breathtaking realness. Prepare to be transported to another world by the magic only a skilled author can create…and there are not many of them. –Kya Lightwing

I enjoyed this book very much. For one thing it was fantasy, (woot woot) and for another it has a deeper meaning to its storyline and characters. The adventures were described well and gave it a real feel. The characters were very round and shifted with the book as their circumstances challenged and changed them. There’s more than one story within this book, and each of them adds a special glimmer to The Dark Wolf’s shine. –Trista Vaporblade (Author of Quest for the Swords of Healing)

It’s epic, amazing—without a doubt, it’s one of the best reads I’ve read in awhile! –Angel (Author of Whispers of my Soul)

 

Click to order The Dark Wolf on Amazon

 

Review of A Dangerous Legacy by Elizabeth Camden   Leave a comment

 

Lucy Drake’s mastery of Morse code has made her a valuable asset to the American news agencies as a telegrapher. But the sudden arrival of Sir Colin Beckwith at rival British news agency Reuters puts her hard-earned livelihood at risk. Newly arrived from London, Colin is talented, handsome, and insufferably charming.

Despite their rivalry, Lucy realizes Colin’s connections could be just what her family needs to turn the tide of their long legal battle over the fortune they were swindled out of forty years ago. When she negotiates an unlikely alliance with him, neither of them realizes how far the web of treachery they’re wading into will take them.

I usually enjoy historical romance fiction, so I decided to give this a try. One thing is for certain. Elizabeth Camden will definitely not be getting added to my favorite authors’ list.

Our main characters are Lucy Drake, a skilled telegraph operator at the AP news agency and Sir Colin Beckwith, head of the rival agency, Reuters. Lucy and her brother have been embroiled in a bitter court battle with their dastardly uncle who managed to cheat their family of a special plumbing valve their father invented. With all their time and money being spent to keep their Uncle Thomas at bay, they have no time to actually live. Lucy keeps them going by reminding herself that once they win the fight, the valve can be offered at cheaper prices so everyone can have running water in New York.

Sir Colin Beckwith is heir to a title, but with no wealth to match it. While he loves his job at Reuters, he feels the weight of his ancestral duty pressing down on him. His only hope for restoring his home in England and taking care of the tenants who live on the estate is to marry a wealthy heiress.

Despite resisting a romance with Lucy, he soon becomes embroiled in the mystery surrounding her family.

The time period is 1903 and Elizabeth Camden does a good job portraying the excitement of the telegraph and the way news could be received over it. Plus other historical facts from this time, like plumbing, homing pigeons, journalism.

Unfortunately, it saturates the very beginning, practically the first quarter of the book. And as one reviewer already mention, there was a lot of repetitive writing. From details of why Lucy and her brother were still fighting, to the telegraph itself.

The plot meandered, and I fought to get through it. Finally reaching the halfway mark, things started to pick up, and the plot finally perked my interest. The ending was so-so. I liked where it left the characters, but the resolution of the fight with Uncle Thomas was weak and chopped short. In fact, it was like a passing breeze.

What I like: Honestly, Colin is the character who makes this book shine. His British snobbery and belief that Americans knew zero of culture was hilarious. Even Lucy’s brother Nick proved to be a pretty strong character. I really liked also when Lucy discovered just how much of her life that had been so devoted to the lawsuit with her Uncle, she’d never really taken the time to live.

What I didn’t like: Lucy’s character was just annoying. I won’t go into specifics to avoid spoilers, but let’s just say that I wish Colin had someone else to go for.
As for the romance, it was okay, but I’ve read better. Same goes for the spiritual content, which was downright sparse and then shoved in there for the sake of being a Christian novel.

So final conclusion? It’s a comfortable read for the most part, if you’re looking for light reading material. But it’s not really compelling in the characters, romance, or spiritual aspects. I should add that I passed this book on to my mom, thinking this would be something she would enjoy more than I did. Unfortunately, she did not. She actually got so bored trying to press through the beginning that she gave up.

Verdict: Pass

(Disclaimer: 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.)

 

A visual journey into Return of the Valris   3 comments

Yup, I know. I said you wouldn’t have to wait a month for this, and here we are. Although in my defense, having to write up two book reviews to post on here did throw me off a bit. 😛 But enough of that and onto the good stuff.

In between juggling work and my studies on web dev, I’ve been making progress on Return of the Valris and fleshing out certain elements of the plot more. And expanding it.

To quote Nick Fury, “You’ve become part of a bigger universe. You just don’t know it yet.”

And bigger is precisely where we’re headed, folks.

Crown of Ravens really was a defining moment in the series. It expanded upon the world started in The Dark Wolf and was deeper, darker, and more emotional than anything I’d written before. For me, it was probably the best I had ever written at the time. And there was the intimidation. I’d reached the final book in the trilogy, against all odds, and was now faced with outdoing the previous book. A scary prospect.

So I did what I always do, and decided to say a prayer to the Author of all authors. And wouldn’t you know, that’s when the inspiration struck. 😉 Below, I’ve compiled a list of images that, without giving away any spoilers, will give you some ideas of where Return of the Valris is going and hopefully get you as excited for it as I am. 😀

Eldurin, home of the Valris.

 

 

As you can see, big difference in the scenery between the two. The second image really defines the path this story is taking, and that’s going more cosmic. Arandil is going to be doing a bit of traveling.

 

 

 

Villains, anyone? 😉 Zar’ul isn’t the only force to deal with, as evidenced here. Evil wears many forms.

 

 

A New character who will have a special part in the story. I invite all of you to try and guess her part. 😉

 

 

Wings aren’t edged with gold, I know, but it was too awesome an illustration to pass up on to represent the Great Ravens. And speaking of ravens…

 

 

We’re going to be seeing Elaine a little differently here. You’ve watched her grow in The Dark Wolf and Crown of Ravens. Her journey from an exiled lonely princess to a strong warrior queen culminates in the third book. Suffice it to say, we’re finally going to see Elaine unleashed like never before.

 

 

Of course, the Valris do headline the title, so it wouldn’t be the same without wolves, would it? 😉

And there you are. No spoilers, but hopefully enough visual candy to get your imagination running. I’ll post some updates later, and you can always follow me on Facebook and Twitter for more recent posts.

 

 

(Disclaimer: Images used are from Pixabay and belong to the respective uploaders on there. None of the images used express support for my work, and 
are used for illustration purposes solely.)

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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