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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

Fairy Tale sneak peak   2 comments

It’s a little later than I intended, but I am happy that I at least made it to post on here today! Here is the snippet from the first draft of my fairy tale novel, as promised. Bear in mind that it is the first draft, so it won’t be as polished as it should be. Please feel free to like, comment, or share. Any and all are always greatly appreciated. 🙂
And now, enjoy!

****

A single tear traced its way down Lumina’s cheek. She stared silently at the solitary lump of dull stone, the only sign to remind anyone of the existence of the man who lay beneath it. But no one would remember. Like the passing of a dog, a lamb, or a tiny sparrow, none would really mourn. The memory of the man who once breathed and walked the earth with the rest of them would be forgotten, as though he never even existed.

But that was life, folks said. It was something that couldn’t be changed, only accepted. Why then, was she having such a hard time accepting it?

Lumina picked up her lantern, wiping away another stray tear, and looked one last time upon the grave that held all the family she’d ever had in the world. After another moment, she turned away and trudged down the grassy knoll alone, back to the village where all except her lay fast asleep in their beds.

Like a wraith in the night she passed through the silent streets, her lantern the only light in the murky gloom that draped over everything around her.

Only when she reached one house, smaller than the rest with a thatched roof dyed a garish red did she turn from her solitary march and enter inside.

No booming laugh met her, no twinkling eyes peering at her from under bushy brows. All was dark and empty.
Lumina completed the routine she did every night before going to bed. She washed the dirty dishes from supper and set the table for morning, before changing into her nightgown and brushing her hair, going through all the motions but without feeling or enjoying anything she did.

She placed her brush down and stared into the mirror, at the ghostly-looking reflection staring back at her with hollow-rimmed wide eyes.

Flickering light from the single candle burning on a stand played along burnished silver hair that fell to one side of her pale features, and along two ears, small and narrow, that tapered to a point at the top.

Changeling, the people of the village called her. Lumina wasn’t like them, didn’t look human enough. She did not like the dark that everyone had no choice but to live in, and her desire for light only annoyed them, for in a world ruled by unending darkness it was folly to think of asking for otherwise or wishing for anything different. It was what their lives were ruled by, the only way they lived and could remember living. Anything else was madness. And death.

None had understood Lumina or her queer thinking. But Kron did. Kron, the elderly carpenter, had possessed the same strange desire she felt, that burning passion for more than the small comfort of a candle or lantern.
So he took her in as his own, an unknown, amnesiac changeling whom none could understand him wanting. He became a father to her, gave her a name, and revealed his secret dream.

Posted October 10, 2015 by J.M. Christian in My Books

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