Archive for the ‘Revell’ Tag

Review of Nine by Rachel Dekker   Leave a comment

 

 

Zoe Johnson spent most of her life living in the shadows, never drawing attention to herself, never investing in people or places. But when a wide-eyed, bedraggled teenager with no memory walks into the diner where Zoe works, everything changes. Now, against her better judgment, Zoe, who has been trying to outrun her own painful memories of the past, finds herself attempting to help a girl who doesn’t seem to have any past at all. The girl knows only one thing: she must reach a woman in Corpus Christi, Texas, hundreds of miles away, before the government agents who are searching for her catch up to them.

***

 

 

After reading “The Girl Behind the Red Rope”, I’ll admit I wasn’t too eager to pick up another book by Rachel Dekker. While it certainly wasn’t terrible, I can’t say the story was memorable enough to make me want to grab another book by the author. But…I have a weakness for stories about genetically enhanced individuals on the run from the government (we’ll just chalk it up to too many comics :P). So I decided to give this one a try.

Nine is written just as brilliantly as The Girl Behind the Red Rope, but with a much more engaging storyline that pulls you in. The characters are real, the pacing fast, and the impact behind a name of love vs. a name of blood is felt long after you close the book.

I really came to like Zoe. She’s got her own emotional baggage to deal with, and hiding from her own past. But meeting Lucy awakens something she thought was long dead in her. In spite of the dangers and being hunted by the government, she puts everything on the line to help Lucy.

As for Lucy herself, she’s like a lost lamb mixed with the Bourne and Wolverine. One moment she’s a bewildered girl who can’t remember a thing, and the next she’s a ruthless killing machine. But it’s her struggle against how others have programmed her and what she really wants to be that tugs at your heart.

Seeley was a hard one. I got it how he could reach a point where he had almost no conscience. But he really annoyed me. You’d alternate between totally rooting for the guy and hoping for his redemption, and then being so disgusted by his actions that you wanted someone to put him six feet under. Considering what he did by the time all was said and done, I was leaning more towards the six feet under part.

So any quibbles? Only one. The major theme in the story is that we’re products of our own personal programming that has been shaped by the people around us. And we have the power to change our destiny, alter our programming that has been influenced and formed by other people.

We do up to a point. But without God, many times we end up fighting a losing battle. And that was my biggest peeve.

Aside from a focus on self, Nine is a solid and well-developed story that leaves you thinking long after you finish the book. Verdict: A definite buy.

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

 

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Posted September 25, 2020 by J.M. Christian in Reviews

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Review of The Girl Behind the Red Rope by Ted and Rachel Dekker   Leave a comment

Ten years ago, Grace saw something that would forever change the course of history. When evil in its purest form is unleashed on the world, she and others from their religious community are already hidden deep in the hills of Tennessee, abiding by every rule that will keep them safe, pure–and alive. As long as they stay there, behind the red perimeter.

Her older brother’s questions and the arrival of the first outsiders she’s seen in a decade set in motion events that will question everything Grace has built her life on. Enemies rise on all sides–but who is the real enemy? And what will it cost her to uncover the truth?

For the first time, bestselling authors Ted Dekker and Rachelle Dekker team up and deliver an intense, tightly focused ride through the most treacherous world of all.

***

I can’t say I’ve ever been a fan of Dekker’s writing. I tried reading one book of his years ago and just couldn’t get into it. But when I saw that he and his daughter were writing this one and read the premise, I thought I would go ahead and give it a try. Turned out the story was both better than I thought, but also not quite meeting my expectations. The writing is flawless. You’re pulled into the character’s thoughts effortlessly, the details are perfect with conjuring the scene without bogging you down with too much. For the story itself, I found it intriguing. Yes, it’s your standard religious community that believes only by keeping to themselves and abiding by a list of rules as long as Santa’s list that they keep themselves holy and safe. So they live in fear, scared to step out of line, scared to really know God. To them, He’s just this powerful being in the sky waiting to unleash the Furies upon them that are already ravaging the world, should they break a rule. When they finally hear the message that God loves them, that they are supposed to be His light, it’s something they almost can’t accept.

This part I enjoyed reading, especially how Grace’s eyes were opened to God’s love and she learned how to let go of the fear binding her. That the very monsters she and everyone were scared of were their own creations.

Overall, I enjoyed the story. I was expecting more of a dystopian or supernatural slant, which I feel would have helped it. As it was, it was more of a tease. The great evil haunting everyone, the terrible Furies, felt like a dream that the people of Haven Valley woke up from once they entered the real world once more.

If you’re looking for a pretty decent read with a great message, I recommend grabbing this book. As far as being very memorable, or going deeper into things, it never really reaches that level. But the excellent writing and quick pacing help make up for it.

Verdict: Buy.

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

Review of A Sparkle of Silver by Liz Johnson   Leave a comment

 

 

Ninety years ago, Millie Sullivan’s great-grandmother was a guest at oil tycoon Howard Dawkins’ palatial estate on the shore of St. Simons Island, Georgia. Now, Millie plays a 1920s-era guest during tours of the same manor. But when her grandmother suggests that there is a lost diary containing the location of a hidden treasure on the estate, along with the true identity of Millie’s great-grandfather, Millie sets out to find the truth of her heritage–and the fortune that might be hers. When security guard Ben Thornton discovers her snooping in the estate’s private library, he threatens to have her fired. But her story seems almost too ludicrous to be fiction, and her offer to split the treasure is too tempting to pass up . . .

Get ready for a romantic escapade through dark halls and dusty corners that will have you holding your breath and sighing with delight as two charming characters get caught up in the adventure of uncovering the past and finding their way to an unexpected future.

***

Hello, folks! I know, look who’s back. 😛 And with another book review. 😀

As those of who have been following my blog know, I like to occasionally go outside my preferred genre of fantasy and Biblical fiction to try something different and experience a new setting. When I saw Liz Johnson’s work “A Sparkle of Silver” advertised as a comfy mystery romance, I thought to myself “why not?” and decided to give it a try.

Millie Sullivan is a girl who’s struggling to make it one day at a time and juggle finances to keep her grandmother, who is struggling with dementia, housed in a nursing home. Then she is faced with the horrible reality of her grandmother being evicted unless she can come up with the funds necessary to get her a better place. She has zero prospects of that happening until during one of Grandma Joy’s lucid moments, finds out from the woman about a lost diary from her great-grandmother that holds the clues to a lost treasure. Armed with this knowledge, she immediately seeks employment at the local Chateau where Grandma Joy believes it to be.

Ben Thornton is working 3 jobs, his position as a security guard at the Chateau being one of them, Trying to earn enough to pay back the numerous victims of his mother’s schemes. With name after name coming up and feeling powerless to make restitution for his mother’s sins, he despairs of ever being able to wipe the slate clean until he catches Millie snooping around in the Chateau’s library.
Despite his reservations, he agrees to team up with her and find the lost diary in exchange for half of the treasure found.

The first quarter or so of this book was a bit of a slog for me. While I enjoy comfy stories, I like them to go somewhere, not spend pages crammed with details on very simple scenes. It was like Millie’s mind in a way. Veering off into aimless wandering before snap! Back to the story. Wander again…snap!

Every now and then we are sent into the past to relive the days of Millie’s great-grandmother when she was a guest at the Chateau. The ironic thing is that the story there was more interesting and flowed better than the one set in present day. Gradually, though, things do pick up. The mystery, such as it is, never amounts to much, but the romance part between Millie and Ben improves.

Millie, to me, acted ridiculously immature for her age and the responsibilities she was supposed to have, which made it hard to really connect with her. She does grow through the story, but you never feel she truly reaches a mature state until the end. Ben, on the other hand, is a pretty solid character, as well as Grandma Joy, even though her scenes were few.

Overall, the story does improve the farther you go. While I wasn’t exactly treated to a warm and comfy mystery read, I did get a lighthearted story with the message that when you leave things in God’s hands and trust Him to provide for you instead of yourself doing it, things always work out.

Verdict: For those seeking a lighthearted read that takes its time, you’ll have no problem enjoying this story.

(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 October 31, 2018 by J.M. Christian in book reviews

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Book Review of A Passionate Hope by Jill Eileen Smith   4 comments

Hannah and her husband, Elkanah, share a deep and abiding love, for each other, for their God, and for his tabernacle at Shiloh. Greatly disturbed by the corruption of the priests, they long for restoration and pray for a deliverer. But nothing changes as the years pass. Years that also reveal Hannah to be barren.

Pressured by his family to take another wife, Elkanah marries Peninnah, who quickly begins to bear children. Disgraced and taunted by her husband’s new wife, Hannah turns again to prayers that seem doomed to go unanswered. Do her devotion and kindness in the face of Peninnah’s cruelty count for nothing? Why does God remain silent and indifferent to her pleas?

Travel back to the dusty streets of Shiloh with an expert guide as Jill Eileen Smith brings to life a beloved story of hope, patience, and deliverance that shows that even the most broken of relationships can be restored.

***

This is my first book from Jill Eileen Smith. Though this is the fourth book in the series, each book focuses on a certain character from the Bible, so the stories are self-contained. With this book, the author brings Hannah’s story to life.

It’s very rare to find good Biblical fiction. This book joins that list of amazing and beautiful works that you will not only want on your shelf, but want to revisit over and over again. Smith paints a poignant and moving story. Hannah’s greatest wish is to be the mother of Elkanah’s sons. But year after year goes by, and she wonders if God sees her, if He even bothers to listen to her prayers, though she has loved and obeyed Him her entire life. She feels worthless, even though her husband loves her.

Elkanah is a great character who loves Hannah with all his heart, in spite of receiving no children from her. You, like me, are probably going to shake your head and wish he’d grown a spine in resisting his family who pressured him to marry Peninnah. But then again, it’s hard to judge when you’re not in the person’s shoes. And I think we all know how hard it is when you have family pressuring you to do something. From the beginning Elkanah regrets his decision, and with Peninnah’s unpleasant attitude and nasty behavior towards Hannah, you can feel his doubts and grief as he wonders if his family will ever be at peace and why God could not have allowed Hannah to bear his children.

Peninnah is spoiled, demanding, and lives in continual bitterness over the affection she longs to receive from Elkanah, but who instead gives it all to Hannah. No matter how many sons she gives him and how she derides Hannah and points out her barrenness, she cannot gain Elkanah’s love.

I’d already read through half of the book before I decided to just take the day off and blast through the rest because I couldn’t wait for the next part any longer. I enjoyed reading of Elkanah and Hannah’s love for each other, and the drama in Elkanah’s family with the friction Peninnah causes will definitely keep you turning those pages. And you will root for Hannah as, through all her doubts and sorrow, she holds onto God even when she thinks He doesn’t listen to her. And in the end, her faith is rewarded.

You will see this multiple times in the reviews posted on here, but I have to agree with the consensus. It really is a beautiful and moving tale of faith, forgiveness, of letting go of your doubts and despair, and allowing God to make your heart whole again.

This is a book that gets my highest recommendation. And on a side-note, I gave this to my mother to read, and she loved it so much, she’s rereading it a second time.

Verdict: A compelling and poignant retelling of Hannah that deserves its place on the shelf.

(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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