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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.)

 

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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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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.)

Review of High as the Heavens by Kate Breslin   Leave a comment

Hello, everyone! Here’s another book review from yours truly. 😀

So this time, it’s a World War I novel which, for those of you following me, know is a drastic departure from the fantasy and Biblical fiction I prefer. But I’ve always had a soft spot for those drama-filled stories of fights against the German army, so I decided to go ahead and give this one a try. 😛

High as the Heavens follows the story of Eve Marche, a widowed British nurse, in a German-occupied Brussels. Having survived the loss of her family and the horrors of Louvain from the Germans invasion, she now tends to injured German soldiers and helps her aunt as a waitress at the cafe serving the German troops. Secretly, though, she works for the Belgian resistance group known as “La Dame Blanche”.

When a British plane crashes in Brussels, Eve is the first to reach the spot and recognizes the injured pilot. And what starts is a life and death struggle as Eve risks all to save the pilot from being put to death or worse.

The story, on a whole, was fairly good. Eve Marche was very well-developed character and I admired the author for giving the character brains and a quick wit, while not making her a braggart or a showoff. Eve works for the resistance out of a desire to alleviate her own guilt over an event that happened years ago, and to help those struggling to survive under the cruel hand pressing down on them. And watching her deal with the guilt of her past, post-traumatic stress, and the despair of never being forgiven by God adds a lot of rich depth to the story.

There were a couple areas that I felt hindered it, though. The flashbacks to several years earlier, I thought were too many and too much. You would be with Eve in a game of wits with the Germans, and then we switch to scenes of her romance with Simon Forrester, followed by the events that led her to Brussels. This went on for a few chapters, thankfully not the whole book, but I felt it gave too much away. Flashbacks, I think, should be in moderation, and focus more on smaller, poignant scenes, that add mystery to the event instead of revealing the entire motivation behind the character’s pain.

Simon was another problem. Eve is a very fleshed-out character, but with Simon, we get the exact opposite. We learn that he spent time in a POW camp for several years, enduring trauma of his own, but it is lightly touched on. Not to mention, his screen time is rather small, especially for being the love interest in the story. As a result, I never really connected with the character. He was just…there.

Which brings up the romance. We bounce around too much in the story, and while we have a nice spot here and there, the romance angle is never fully developed in the story, or really focused on. So we end up in the middling there with it.

I was also was a bit disappointed with the amount of drama or “tense moments”. For a story set in a place crawling with Germans looking for any excuse to haul a person off for interrogation, it was surprisingly mild. The only action scene I can even think of was at the end, with a chase after a German spy, but that was over rather quick. Then the one flashback scene with the German takeover of Louvain. I guess in that kind of an era and setting, I was expecting some higher stakes and a more serious threat, but it never arrives there. While we have a moment here and there, most of it is glossed over.

So my recommendation? High as the Heavens is a decent read, and enough to keep you going, despite feeling a little bogged down in places. If you’re looking for a clean read, and something to pass the time, I’d say give it a try. It’s not a bad story, and the author did an admirable job crafting it.

Verdict: Buy if you’re looking for a clean read to pass the time.

(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.)

Posted July 11, 2017 by J.M. Christian in book reviews

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Halflings by Heather Burch Review   1 comment

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After being inexplicably targeted by an evil intent on harming her at any cost, seventeen-year-old Nikki finds herself under the watchful guardianship of three mysterious young men who call themselves Halflings. Sworn to defend her, misfits Mace, Raven, and Vine battle to keep Nikki safe while hiding their deepest secret—and the wings that come with.

A growing attraction between Nikki and two of her protectors presents a whole other danger. While she risks a broken heart, Mace and Raven could lose everything, including their souls. As the mysteries behind the boys’ powers, as well as her role in their earthly mission, unfold, Nikki is faced with choices that will affect the future of an entire race of heavenly beings, as well as the precarious equilibrium of the earthly world.

(Description from Amazon)

It sounds rather exciting, and after months of poring over reviews from Amazon and debating, I made the plunge and bought the book. Normally, I’d end up with a prize read and a “phooey you” to the naysayers. Sadly, they proved to be right this time.

I wanted to like the story. I really did. The story starts out strong, placing us with Nikki, the protagonist of the story, right in the middle of a terrifying chase with hellhounds. Then things go downhill. Nikki is presented as the epitome of the modern self-assured woman. She is a karate master who wins trophies in the contests she enters, drives a motorcycle, and is a talented artist. But behold Mace, the Halfling. At his appearance, her brains turn to mush, and her speech fades, for he is…hot.

Not to be outdone, here comes Raven, the bad boy Halfling with his pathetic attempts at snark that will never come close to matching Iron Man. And he too is…hot.

And there is Vine, he with the long womanly hair who also is…hot.

By now, you should get the gist of the story. Instead of it going somewhere with a solid plot and real character development, it plods along agonizingly with Nikki’s attempts to understand the Halflings and her inexplicable attraction (simple lust, really) to Mace and Raven. Vine, apparently, who is just as attractive, is too young and of course would never fit into the proverbial love triangle.

Some reviewers claimed they didn’t like the religious overtones in the story. I was like, “where are they?!” Yes, God and angels are mentioned, especially since the Halflings are part angel due to being the offspring of fallen ones.

But that’s it. What we are treated to is a trip down Nikki’s hormonal lane where she feels a hot thick stream through her system, and how hard it is to breathe in the presence of the god-like Halflings.

It’s not a big book. Maybe a little over three hundred pages. But it felt long. I had to stop several times while I waited for my disgust to subside long enough to continue. And continue I did. I plugged away through the drivel and then reached the end, a hastily rushed climax that sets things up for the next installment in the series.

Halflings seeks to be the Christian alternative to Twilight, but all it can do is show that Nikki is hot; Mace is hot; and Raven is hot. And the story itself doesn’t even reach the halfway mark into being a story, let alone a Christian one.

Verdict: pass

The Dark Wolf’s first review and e-book update   Leave a comment

I am happy to announce that my book, The Dark Wolf, has received its first review, courtesy of a friend of mine who promised to write an honest opinion on it! You can read the review on her blog:

http://kyanalightwing.blogspot.com/2014/01/review-dark-wolf.html

And an update on the e-book version of my book. I temporarily removed it due to Amazon messing up the formatting. Apparently, their online previewer has some bugs in it which threw me off from noticing any errors, and I wasn’t aware of it until I went to Amazon itself to look inside the e-book. Fortunately, I found out what to do and fixed it up so it won’t run into anymore problems. Currently, I have resubmitted it, and it should be available for purchase again within a couple days. I do apologize for the that, and like I said, this time everything should work smoothly with it now.

 

Your grace is enough...

"But he said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong." 2 Corinthians 12:9-10

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