Archive for the ‘suspense’ 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.)

 

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 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 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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