Nadine Brandes’ A Time to Die

About

How would you live if you knew the day you’d die?

Parvin Blackwater believes she has wasted her life. At only seventeen, she has one year left according to the Clock by her bedside. In a last-ditch effort to make a difference, she tries to rescue Radicals from the government’s crooked justice system.

But when the authorities find out about her illegal activity, they cast her through the Wall — her people’s death sentence. What she finds on the other side about the world, about eternity, and about herself changes Parvin forever and might just save her people. But her clock is running out.

Review

As many of you know who read my reviews, I’m a huge fan of YA. I had seen this book around, but I didn’t know much about it. Here’s my thoughts:

What I liked:

A unique setting. Dystopian really is so 2012, BUT, the author managed to create a new unique world that didn’t make me feel like I was reading a spin-off of another book (you know who you are Hunger Games!). Parvin’s world is not as “harsh” as other novels…so long as you have your clock. I really enjoyed the premise, and this being book one, I still have many questions.

An engaging plot. The book is interesting in the beginning, but it really takes off when Parvin gets cast through the Wall. Man, oh man, does she encounter some crazies. And I didn’t know what to expect. I think I was surprised on every side. Maybe I knew someone was going to die, but I didn’t ‘know how. Maybe I knew someone was going to come and help, but I didn’t know when. It was like, surprise, surprise, surprise.

Spiritually, I loved that Parvin has to learn to rely on God. She tries countless times to rely on other people, but at the end of the day when it comes to her surviving, its her and God.

What I didn’t like:

Parvin. I know. But she’s kind of a whiny narrator. Don’t get me wrong, if I were in her shoes, they would have found me curled up in a ball and crying somewhere. But, it meant that it was harder to like her. She never seemed happy with any situation that came up, someone always had to help her, and I found myself more often not rolling my eyes at her reactions. That said, I get the impression that she’ll be a little older and a little wiser in book two.

The romance. Ya’ll know me, I like my books with a generous dose of romance. There is something here, but I didn’t totally connect. I couldn’t understand why they were together other than the fact that he was a boy and she was a girl. But, at the same time the lack of romance wasn’t a real big issue for me since I was so concerned with what Parvin was going through.

Romantic scale: 5

Overall, this was definitely an interesting novel and I would recommend it. And I will say, I’ve been thinking about the mysteries that book one has not solved. But for me, some YA feels “older” and some YA feels “younger” and I will admit to liking the “older” YA books more. In order for me to love a “younger” YA, I have to really connect with the main character and I just didn’t connect with Parvin. That said, its different, really well written, and I think you would enjoy it if you picked it up!

Reviews to Come Soon…

I’ve been working on something that’s big (at least for me!) and I fully plan on revealing it in the next few weeks. But, that thing has slowed me down as far as reviews. That said, here are some reviews you should expect soon:

How far would you go to save the ones you love?

Six years ago, impossible circumstances forced Dr. Lisbeth Hastings to leave behind the love of her life, not just in another country, but in another time. Her work as a top-notch epidemiologist and parenting her little girl helps alleviate the pain, but at night when her exhausted head hits the pillow, images of her beloved Cyprian haunt her sleep.

Cyprian Thascius returns from political exile a broken man. He’s lost his faith, the love of his life, and his purpose. He attempts to move on, to face the danger that is looming over Carthage, but when Cyprian’s true love suddenly reappears, his heart becomes as imperiled as the fledgling church he seeks to save.

Have the years that kept Lisbeth and Cyprian apart created too wide a chasm to bridge? In the midst of a new epidemic and rising oppression, will their love be the most costly fatality? Filled with gripping action and raw emotion, this spellbinding adventure of star-crossed lovers captivates with every turn of the page in this electric continuation of The Carthage Chronicles.

Hyam is a likeable lad who will make a fine farmer someday. But he carries a burden few can fathom. As his mother slips toward death, she implores him to return to Long Hall, where he spent five years as an apprentice. It was there that Hyam’s extraordinary capacity for mastering languages came to light–and soon cast him into the shadows of suspicion. How could any human learn the forbidden tongues with such ease? When Hyam dares to seek out the Mistress of the Sorceries, her revelation tears his world asunder.

He has no choice but to set out on the foreboding path–which beckons him to either his destiny or his doom. An encounter with an enchanting stranger reminds him that he is part hero and part captive. As Hyam struggles to interpret the omens and symbols, he is swept up by a great current of possibilities–and dangers.

With lyrical prose that unveils a richly imaginative world, Thomas Locke takes readers on a journey into the Realm. There he invites them to awaken their sense of wonder. This cracking adventure moves like a contemporary thriller but harkens back to the enduring genre of classic fantasy.

Finally Returned Home, Reef McKeena
Finds His Beloved Alaska Facing Its Greatest Threat

Growing up, goody-two-shoes Kirra Jacobs and troublemaker Reef McKenna were always at odds. Now, working together as search-and-rescue for Alaska’s arduous Iditarod race, a growing attraction seems to be forcing aside old arguments. Then Reef catches Kirra sneaking from camp in the middle of the night.

Kirra’s uncle, a musher in the race, has disappeared. Kirra and Reef quickly track the man, but what they discover is harrowing: Frank’s daughter has been kidnapped. Kirra and Reef, along with the entire McKenna family, are thrown into a race to stop a shadowy villain who is not only threatening a girl’s life–but appears willing to unleash one of the largest disasters Alaska has ever seen.

Emissary by Thomas Locke is a new one for me, but I love the fantasy. Are you interested in reading any of these?

Irene Hannon’s Deceived

About

For three years, Kate Marshall has been grieving the loss of her husband and their four-year-old son in a boating accident. But when she spots a familiar-looking child on an escalator in the mall, she is convinced it is the son she thought was dead. With police skeptical of her story, she turns to private investigator Connor Sullivan. The former Secret Service agent is dubious but agrees to investigate. Digging into the case he discovers that the incident may have been no accident at all. But if Kate’s son is alive, someone is intent on keeping him hidden–and may be willing to go to lethal lengths to protect a sinister secret.

As Irene Hannon’s many fans have come to expect, Deceived is filled with complex characters, unexpected twists, and a riveting plot line that accelerates to an explosive finish.

Review

Irene Hannon can write some really intriguing suspense novels. My thoughts on this one:

What I liked:

The mystery/suspense. I wanted to know what happened! I was immediately drawn into the story of what had happened to Kate’s son and why. Even though the “bad guy” is revealed to you, the reader, you still don’t understand everything that happened until you finished the book, and I wanted to know.

The writing. I like the way the author slowly teased the facts out of the story so that I was constantly turning pages.

The big reveal at the end really worked for me and came together well.

Spiritually, there is no real theme, but the characters go to church and pray and trust God throughout the story.

What I didn’t like:

Kate and Connor. To clarify, there was nothing “wrong” with them, except that they seemed almost exactly like every other couple in this series. Nothing they did surprised me. Nothing they did made them stand out. Even their respective pasts felt like the other people’s past in the series. If you asked me to describe them, it would be very cookie cutter, because though the characters appeared to have depth, in no way did I really connect to them as a reader. I skimmed over the romance entirely because I felt like I knew exactly how it was going down. Aside from the mystery, the whole book felt familiar.

Romantic scale: 6

Overall, the book was really entertaining and if you like mystery/suspense, I recommend it!

Monday Musings…Topics That Make Me Want a Book

Last week I wrote about topics that make me want to avoid a book here. This week I decided to write about topics that usually get me excited.

1. Arranged marriages or marriages of conveniences. I like these, because if done right, you see a couple forced to interact with each other and slowly falling in love…..if done right!

2. Second chance love. I’m not sure why! I just like it when people have a history, usually not a good one, but still manage to come together.

3. Ordinary girls who attract un-ordinary men. So not realistic, but I really like topics like this.

4. Rome. I just really love books that take place in the Roman era. I mean, those people were crazy, but soooo fascinating.

5. Fantasy. A good fantasy novel is like Calgon, it takes me away.

6. Male POVs. It is not usual to read books from a man’s pov (unless its some kind of thriller, political intrigue, etc.). I like them all the more, the more realistic they feel (if that makes any sense).

7. Foreign countries. It’s like taking a vacation, that is, if the author makes the country another character instead of just a place where the characters happen to be standing. And I really like learning about other countries.

8. Time-Travel. Yeah….I like these. I like trying to figure out how it all works.

9. Wars. Civil War, WWI, WW2, Vietnam, American Revolution. I so admire people who lived through these times, and they usually have romances I can believe in.

10. Minorities as leads. Native Americans, Black people, Asians, Latinos, diversity is awesome, and I’m always super excited to read about it.

So really, I could keep going, but these topics jump out to me right away. What topics make you want to pick up a book rather pass it over?

Steven James’ Checkmate

About

In Checkmate, critically acclaimed novelist Steven James offers a climactic chapter in his bestselling series, the Bowers Files.

When a clandestine FBI facility is attacked, Special Agent Patrick Bowers is drawn into the vicious, ruthless story that a killer from his past is bent on telling the world.

Clues lead to long-forgotten secrets buried deep beneath Uptown Charlotte, North Carolina. Now Bowers is caught up in trying to stop one of the deadliest attacks ever planned on American soil.

Smart, tense, and full of mind-bending twists and turns, Checkmate explodes onto the scene, bringing this cycle of the Bowers Files to an unforgettable conclusion

Review

I’m a huge Patrick Bowers fan. I have read every novel in this series, so of course I couldn’t miss out on this one! And that’s saying something, folks, because I like my mysteries with a heavy dose of romance and while Patrick Bowers has a little romance, it is in no way, my usual fare. My thoughts:

What I liked:

Patrick. Patrick is a great detective and I would say that he really drives the series. I love being in his head, watching him take in small details, and interact with his family. After almost ten books, he feels like an old friend.

Tessa. Patrick’s daughter. She always manages to add something extra to the story. I will say, how nice that she is unusually brilliant in only the most of helpful ways, but I like Tessa.

The mystery. This novel really brings things full circle. Patrick’s been chasing the bad guys in this book almost the entire series, so just like Patrick is familiar so are these guys. But I still enjoyed watching Patrick unravel what was going on. Mr. James’ mysteries are always so well thought out and I never feel like Patrick stumbles across clues. He actually does detective work! I will say some of the crimes are sad and a bit gruesome, but Patrick chases serial killers, so…..

Spiritually, the Bower novels are not your usual straight up Christian fiction, but the point of his novels seems to be that all me are capable of evil, but God keeps us from going down that route.

What I didn’t like:

At times it felt like Patrick was always trying to teach me something. His internal monologue could often turn into a lecture, and I may have skimmed over that so that I could get back to the mystery.

Romance scale: 5

Overall, very enjoyable and you won’t want to put it down.

Elizabeth Camden’s Beyond All Dreams

About

Sweeping and Romantic Historical Drama from an Award-Winning Author

Anna O’Brien leads a predictable and quiet life as a map librarian at the illustrious Library of Congress until she stumbles across a baffling mystery of a ship disappeared at sea. She is thwarted in her attempts to uncover information, but her determination outweighs her shyness and she turns to a dashing congressman for help.

Luke Callahan was one of the nation’s most powerful congressmen until his promising career became shadowed in scandal. Eager to share in a new cause and intrigued by the winsome librarian, he joins forces with Anna to solve the mystery of the lost ship.

Opposites in every way, Anna and Luke are unexpectedly drawn to each other despite the strict rules forbidding Anna from any romantic entanglement with a member of Congress.
From the gilded halls of the Capitol, where powerful men shape the future of the nation, to the scholarly archives of the nation’s finest library, Anna and Luke are soon embroiled in secrets much bigger and more perilous than they ever imagined. Is bringing the truth to light worth risking all they’ve ever dreamed for themselves?

Review

I happen to think that Ms. Camden writes some lovely romance in her novels, so of course I always read her books. Here’s my thoughts on this one:

What I liked:

Anna O’Brien. She’s no schoolgirl, she’s super smart, she’s tenacious, and she works at a job that few women of her day would ever consider working at (shoutout to librarians!). Anna has an interesting back story and I really liked how her job is a direct product of that.

Luke Callahan. Another wonderful heroic creation of Ms. Camden. I just love how none of her heroes are the same and all of them come across as very different people. Luke has his own ticks that are interesting and his own backstory that is unique. Sometimes he wasn’t always predictable even as he tried so hard to be, and I liked that.

The mystery of the ship. Wow. I definitely wanted to know what happened and it’s slightly based off of true events folks.

The chemistry. There is some really great chemistry between Luke and Anna. I love how their relationship develops and you can really see them falling for each other.

The premise and/or setting. I knew next to nothing about Congress in the late 1800s particularly as it concerns problems with Cuba. I learned so much and in a way that didn’t make me feel like I was learning.

Spiritually, there is a theme of forgiveness and how if you don’t forgive you can grow to become quite bitter. Unforgiveness will change who you are.

What I didn’t like:

The romance. Only in the sense that it felt unnecessarily drawn out to me. All I could think was that the two of you want to be together so why are we trying to create problems?

Something about this novel made it seem like it just mozied along. The writing was fantastic, I read this book in a day, but it  still felt kind of slow paced.

Romantic Scale: 8

Overall, I really enjoyed reading this book, I will be honest and say it’s not my favorite of her novels, but still a really good read.

**I received a copy of this novel from Netgalley. My opinion was not affected in anyway.**

Monday Musings….Topics That Turn Me Off

Do you ever read the blurb for a book and then decide that’s not for me? Even if you love the author? Or if you’ve heard good things about the author? I do, all the time. Even though, many, many times if I eventually read the book I may love it. Here are some topics I generally avoid (even though there are exceptions to all of them).

1. Widowed people with kids. I know this one sounds strange, but rarely do I find children endearing in books. They can be, absolutely (Mary Connealy’s Petticoat Ranch) but not all authors write them well, and so I’m not terribly fond of romance novels that have children in them. I will usually pass on the novel unless I hear good things about it.

2. Older couples. This is kind of sad to admit, but I think since I’m in my 20s I have a hard time relating to couples in their 40s and above. When I think of an exception, I think of Gayle Roper’s Autumn Dreams. That said, I was not excited to read this book initially.

3. People with secrets. I hate when deception is used as a trope. Rarely, and I do mean rarely do I like books when the main character is hiding something, with the exception of Tamera Alexander’s Beyond This Moment.

4. Animals. Dogs should not have leading roles in books. That is all.

5. Love triangles. Why? How many people in this world actually have two wonderful men fall in love with them at the same time?

6. Silliness. You know, the couple playing games, or someone who is supposed to be on the run for their life but they have a pig and a kid and some other craziness coming with them. No….just no. If it’s obvious from the blurb that things are going to get silly I walk away. Silliness is different than humor. I love humor. And to be honest I don’t like serious realistic fiction, but silliness makes me feel like the author thinks I’m stupid.

7. Amish. Yes, I read the occasional Amish novel, and there are some good ones! But people, I just can’t get with it. Most authors, when they write about the Amish, all I can think is how strange the Amish are for allowing a group of people with interesting rules decide what they can and can not do.

8. Adultery. Particularly if the main character is committing adultery. I have to be able to trust my main character, and adultery just kills that trust.

So, here’s my list (I’m sure it’s not complete) of books I pass over when I see what they’re about. Even though there are tons of exceptions to these rules. What topics make you pass over books?

Cover Love!

It’s been one of those weeks again, where I just haven’t been reading as much. I’ve decided to take it slow for the rest of the year, but I’m super excited for the new year and the reviews to come (don’t worry, I still have reviews to come in December!) Until then, let’s look at these covers:

Mortified after her semester abroad is cut short, Amelia Christiansen returns to Deep Haven, certain she isn’t brave enough for the adventures she’s dreamed of. The last thing she expects is for the man who broke her heart to cross the Atlantic and beg forgiveness.

Heir to a European hotel dynasty, Roark St. John has trekked from one exotic locale to another, haunted by tragedy and the expectations that accompany his last name. Amelia is the first woman to give him a reason to stop running. He’ll do anything for a second chance—even contend with Amelia’s old flame, who is intent on sending Roark packing.

While one surprise after another leaves Amelia reeling, Roark’s continued presence only highlights the questions pursuing her. Like him, is she running from the life God has called her to? Could finding her new place mean leaving home behind?

Nym has saved Faelen only to discover that Draewulf stole
everything she valued. Now he’s destroyed her Elemental storm-summoning ability
as well.

When Nym sneaks off with a host of delegates to Bron, Lord Myles
offers her the chance for a new kind of power and the whispered hope that it
may do more than simply defeat the monster she loathes. But the secrets the
Bron people have kept concealed, along with the horrors Draewulf has developed,
may require more than simply harnessing a darker ability.

They may require who she is.

Set against the stark metallic backdrop of the Bron kingdom, Nym
is faced with the chance to change the future.

Or was that Draewulf’s plan for her all along?

England, 1940. Clare Childs knew life would change when she unexpectedly inherited the Maggie Bright—a noble fifty-two-foot yacht. In fact, she’s counting on it. But the boat harbors secrets. When a stranger arrives, searching for documents hidden onboard, Clare is pulled into a Scotland Yard investigation that could shed light on Hitler’s darkest schemes and prompt America to action.

Across the Channel, Hitler’s Blitzkrieg has the entire British army in retreat with little hope for rescue at the shallow beaches of Dunkirk. With time running out, Churchill recruits civilian watercraft to help. Hitler is attacking from land, air, and sea, and any boat that goes might not return. Yet Clare knows Maggie Bright must answer the call—piloted by an American who has refused to join the war effort until now and a detective with a very personal motive for exposing the truth.

The fate of the war hinges on this rescue. While two men join the desperate fight, a nation prays for a miracle.

Next year is gonna be fun!