Posted in Fantasy/Sci-Fi

R. J. Larson’s Judge

About
The last thing Kien Lantec expects on his first day of military leave is to receive marching orders from his Creator, the Infinite. Orders that don’t involve destroyer-racing or courting the love of his life, Ela. Adding to Kien’s frustration, his Infinite-ordained duties have little to do with his skills as a military judge-in-training. His mission? To warn the people of ToronSea against turning their backs to the Infinite to worship a new goddess.

But why Kien? Isn’t this the role of a true prophet, such as Ela of Parne?

Seeking answers, Kien visits Ela and finds her stricken by a devastating vision of her own. Her birthplace, Parne, has been corrupted by her enemies and will soon suffer judgment. Pulled in separate ways, each must seek to follow the Infinite’s leading and hope He will reunite them again soon.

Review
In reading Christian fiction, there are some authors you read and you just know they’ve been with God, Ms. Larson is one of them. With shades of Old Testament prophets Jonah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel (and maybe others), Kien and Ela embark on some trips that lead to joy and heartache. When I first started the novel, I kept hoping that Kien and Ela would be together the whole time, to add a deeper level to the romance. But they each had individual tasks, and still there was an element of romance to the novel that just worked. In spite of them not being together most of the novel, my pages were flipping as I saw both of them develop even more into people that the Infinite (or God) could use. I so enjoyed this novel and I cannot wait until the third one comes out. I continually love Kien’s character who brings much needed humor to tense situations, and Ela’s spirit because she is so committed to the Infinite. Spiritually, this novel reads again like the Old Testament, but points out the importance of just being obedient. Great Novel. Highly Recommended!

**I received this novel from Netgalley. My opinion was not affected in any way**

Posted in Historical

Elizabeth Ludwig’s No Safe Harbor

About

New York City, 1897

She came to America searching for her brother. Instead all she’s found is a web of danger.

Cara Hamilton had thought her brother to be dead. Now, clutching his letter, she leaves Ireland for America, desperate to find him. Her search leads her to a houseful of curious strangers, and one man who claims to be a friend–Rourke Walsh. Despite her brother’s warning, Cara trusts Rourke, revealing her purpose in coming to New York.

She’s then thrust into a world of subterfuge, veiled threats, and attempted murder, including political revolutionaries from the homeland out for revenge. Her questions guide her ever nearer to locating her brother–but they also bring her closer to destruction as those who want to kill him track her footsteps.

With her faith in tatters, all hope flees. Will her brother finally surface? Can he save Cara from the truth about Rourke… a man she’s grown to love?

Review
This novel is the kind of read that is perfect for a Sunday afternoon. There is suspense, mystery, intrigue and romance and the concept and location of the novel is original. The mystery was sufficiently interesting enough to keep you turning the pages and trying to figure out what had happened. Everyone was not whom they seemed (Poor Cara!). The romance was sweet and believable. Cara’s character fit her circumstances; she never came across to me as annoying and the decisions Rourke made, made sense. Spiritually, Cara has to trust God to be faithful and Rourke has remember that vengenance is the Lord’s. If there was any drawback, I would say that the novel is pretty straightforward. Yet, it was still a page-turner. Overall, a good book. Recommended!

** I recieved this copy from Netgalley. My opinion was not affected in any way**

Posted in Personal

Monday Musings….The Importance of Reviews

I once read somewhere that reviews are currently what sales books. Yet, reviews are always subjective, what one person likes another person may hate and vice versa. So why are reviews important and how should you treat them?

1) Reviews indicate how popular a book is. If I have just enough money to purchase one novel and I’m not looking for something in particular, quite often the number of reviews on Amazon tell me whether something is worth looking at. Even if that novel has something like 4 stars, if 100 people have read it, apparently there was something in it that people liked. I will more often than not read it. Case in point, Hunger Games. The novel sounded silly to me, but since all those people had read it, I figured there must be something intriguing about it.

2) Reviews can speak to what you like/don’t like. There are some books that get 4 stars for reasons that would totally make me buy a novel or 5 stars that would make me put a novel down. Oftentimes, when I am looking for a book, I will go for the poorest reviews and make sure its not something that states “the quality was poor on my kindle” or “I didn’t know it was a Christian novel.”

3) Reviews can show you what is out there. On my blog, I have intentionally categorized the book by their topics: historical, suspense, YA, etc. because sometimes the mood hits and you just want a historical and one that is good. It helps to have a reviewer who has read a number of them and you can sift through them to find the review that is attractive to you.

4) Treat reviews with a grain of salt. I read three reviewers regularly. One of them has taste like mine, if she recommends a book, I know it’s good. Another of them doesn’t have taste like mine, yet she reads enough books that I value her opinion when it is given. Another reviewer I read, gives pretty generic reviews, but again she reads so many books out there that it is helpful to me to see what is popular.

5) Treat them as introductions. Keep an open mind. I know my goal as a reviewer is to introduce readers to familiar authors and authors that people may not come into contact with at the bookstore. There is a lot of self-publishing out there. Some of it is GOOD. My goal is to find the GOOD and the GREAT.

Anyone else have any reasons as to the importance of reviews?

Posted in Historical

Heather Blanton’s A Lady in Defiance

About
Charles McIntyre owns everything and everyone in the lawless, godless mining town of Defiance. When three good, Christian sisters from his beloved South show up stranded, alone, and offering to open a “nice” hotel, he is intrigued enough to let them stay…especially since he sees feisty middle sister Naomi as a possible conquest. But Naomi, angry with God for widowing her, wants no part of Defiance or the saloon-owning, prostitute-keeping Mr. McIntyre. It would seem however, that God has gone to elaborate lengths to bring them together. The question is, “Why?” Does God really have a plan for each and every life?

A Lady in Defiance, loosely based on true events, is set in the majestic San Juan Mountains of Colorado. While a romance, it is also an “ensemble” piece that weaves together the relationships of the three sisters and the rowdy residents of Defiance. With a nod to Pride and Prejudice, the story is filled with surprises, plot twists, and an ending you won’t be able to guess

Review

I stumbled across this kindle book and what a find? It kind of reminded me of The Harvey Girls (Judy Garland fans anyone?) only 10 times better. There is something about Charles that is so likeable even as he takes part in some repugnant activities. And Naomi? Loved her. She was brave and fiesty without ever slipping into that annoying category. The romance here just made sense and I look forward to what the author will write next. Spiritually, I love how Naomi poors out her grief to the Lord and still trusts Him though its hard. Charles has to learn to acknowledge the Lord. And together they learn that there is much power in prayer. Great Novel. Highly Recommended!

Posted in Contemporary, Mystery/Suspense

Raquel Byrnes’ Bayou Blue

About

With her family shamed and her faith shaken, Riley Drake carries a heavy burden. She returns to Bayou La Foudre Parish to clear her brother’s name, but her mission proves difficult and dangerous. The locals are convinced he’s guilty of the tragic bombing that left the town in mourning, and she finds her only ally is Jake Ayers. Frustrated and fascinated by the parish’s brooding sheriff, Riley hopes she’s found someone to trust with her burden…and her heart.

Sheriff Jake Ayers wants peace and healing in his parish, but Riley’s presence stirs tempers into a frenzy. Most of the townsfolk want her dead. Emotions run deep in the bayou, and Jake’s are no exception. Keeping a level head and an indifferent heart is going to be as difficult as keeping Riley alive.

Review
This novel captured my interest from the start. Though it is not necessarily a who dunnit novel, there is still plenty of suspense. The cajun setting also adds an extra spice to the novel. I enjoyed the back and forth between Jake and Riley and it was good to see the characters from Purple Knot again. Spiritually, Riley is a new believer so she has to learn to trust God as she searches for what really happened with her brother. Really Good Book. Highly Recommended!

Posted in Contemporary

Jennifer Rogers Spinola’s Til Grits Do Us Part

About
Shiloh Jacobs is planning her wedding without family, without money, and without a clue—and trying to make a go of small-town Southern life. Until she stumbles on an unsolved case about a missing woman that makes her run in the opposite direction—right into the would-be killer’s web of plans. In the midst of sorting through her tragic past and strained relationships, Shiloh finds herself on the run from a madman—and hoping she can make it to her wedding alive.

Review
It was nice to return to Staunton, Virginia again. I think that this novel took me a minute or two to get into, but that’s most likely because the first few chapters were reviewing what happened in the previous novels. Ms. Spinola threw a mystery in the novel that was captivating and interesting…I kept trying to guess who done it! But the best parts of the novel, in my honest romantic opinion, were between Adam and Shiloh. Spiritually, Shiloh has to learn to forgive herself and move past her past. Though there were moments where I had to suspend my disbelief, this was overall a good novel. Recommended.

**I recieved this novel from Netgalley. My opinion was not affected in any way**

Posted in Contemporary

Dee Henderson’s Full Disclosure

About
Ann Silver is a cop’s cop. As the Midwest Homicide Investigator, she is called in to help local law enforcement on the worst of cases, looking for answers to murder. Hers is one of the region’s most trusted investigative positions.

Paul Falcon is the FBI’s top murder cop in the Midwest. If the victim carried a federal badge or had a security clearance, odds are good Paul and his team see the case file or work the murder.

Their lives intersect when Ann arrives to pass a case off her desk and onto his. A car wreck and a suspicious death offer a lead on a hired shooter he is tracking. Paul isn’t expecting to meet someone, the kind that goes on the personal side of the ledger, but Ann Silver has his attention.

The better he gets to know her, the more Paul realizes her job barely scratches the surface of who she is. She knows spies and soldiers and U.S. Marshals, and has written books about them. She is friends with the former Vice President. People with good reason to be cautious about who they let into their lives deeply trust her. Paul wonders just what secrets Ann is keeping, until she shows him the John Doe Killer case file, and he starts to realize just who this lady he is falling in love with really is…

Review

Ms. Henderson is a very good story teller. She has an incredible way of starting a novel and pulling you and this one was no different. I was instantly intrigued when I started the novel and I was definitely turning the pages to see what would happen next. Yet, there were moments that I felt like the novel was a bit too long. Also, the romance between Paul and Ann was a little strange to me. Paul was very objective about the whole dating process in the sense that I didn’t know why Ann captured his fancy. That said, he was a great guy and I was certainly impressed with this character and the length, depths, and breadth he would go to, to impress Ann.  Ann on the other hand was really HIGH MAINTENANCE (there’s high maintenance and there’s HIGH MAINTENANCE, girlfriend was the latter). Maybe the problem was that she didn’t need Paul. Ever. And she didn’t seem to want him too. So, the romance was a little weird to me, but the book itself was certainly interesting. Spiritually, I love the way both Ann and Paul have a strong relationship with God and seek Him out in everything. They just live their faith.

Posted in Personal

Monday Musings….What Makes a Romance Novel a Good Romance

So I just recently read a novel that advertised itself as a romance, but I’m sorry to say, it simply wasn’t one. That got me thinking, what must a romance have to be a good romance?

1. The foundation of friendship. Friendship, I think is key to a good romance novel. I love 5 hour long BBC movies because you can see the romance develop as two people get to know each other. Also, I think it’s easier for the reader to identify with the heroine if the relationship is based on friendship than looks. There’s great hope for the future with friendship.

2. Chemistry. I never really considered whether or not chemistry was needed (I’m sorry I hate current romance movies, they play too much on attraction), but it is. Looking for a spouse shouldn’t be like shopping for a pair of shoes, there should be some iota of attraction there!

3. The romance must make sense. I mean that’s as straightforward as it gets. There can be age differences, but by the time I put the novel down, I shouldn’t keep thinking ‘dude was old’ or ‘why did he pick that sister,’?

4. Both characters have to give a little. I’m all about men jumping through hoops for their women, but really the best romance novel requires change on both people’s parts. Otherwise, I’m reading the novel and while I see why one person wants the relationship, I’m confused as to the other.

5. Jesus at the center. This should probably be number one. But really, for you to have faith in that couple to get things done and most importantly for that relationship to last, it must have Jesus at the center.

So these are a few of my thoughts. Anyone have any other ones to contribute?

Posted in Historical

Tamera Alexander’s A Lasting Impression

About
To create something that will last is Claire Laurent’s most fervent desire as an artist. It’s also her greatest weakness. When her fraud of a father deals her an unexpected hand, Claire is forced to flee from New Orleans to Nashville, only a year after the War Between the States has ended. Claire’s path collides with that of Sutton Monroe, and she considers him a godsend for not turning her in to the authorities. But when they meet again and he refuses to come to her aid, she realizes she’s sorely misjudged the man. Trading an unwanted destiny for an unknown future, Claire finds herself in the middle of Nashville’s elite society and believes her dream of creating a lasting impression in the world of art may finally be within reach.

All that Sutton Monroe holds dear lies in ruin. He’s determined to reclaim his heritage and to make the men who murdered his father pay. But what he discovers on his quest for vengeance reveals a truth that may cost him more than he ever imagined.

Set at Nashville’s historical Belmont Mansion, a stunning antebellum manor built by Mrs. Adelicia Acklen, the richest woman in America in the 1860s, A Lasting Impression showcases the deep, poignant, unforgettable characters that set Tamera’s stories apart and provides an inspiring love story that will capture readers’ hearts and leave them eager for more.

Review

Tamera Alexander is a fabulous author. Somehow she manages to take ordinary topics and turn them into something phenomenal. This novel is no different. There is the character of Sutton who has to deal with the after affects of the Civil War and Claire who has to live with the deception she has practiced. One of the things that I loved about this novel was that their eventual relationship was grounded in friendship. It just made sense. The novel is a bit long, but I love long novels (by good authors!). Spiritually, Claire comes to know God in a way she hadn’t before; situations force her to lean on him. Great novel. Excited about the new one coming out soon. Highly Recommended!

Posted in Historical

Julie Lessman’s A Love Surrendered

About
Orphaned in Iowa, Annie Kennedy moves to Boston to stay with her spinster aunt. She longs for romance to fill the void left by her parents’ death. But when she falls hard for Steven O’Connor, the man who broke an engagement to her sister, Annie is worried. Will he break her heart too when he discovers who she really is?

With heart-pounding romance, intense family drama, and emotional twists and turns, A Love Surrendered is everything Julie Lessman’s many fans have been waiting for.

Review

A Julie Lessman novel=drama. And this latest tale is no different. This is the last novel in the O’Connor series (at least for a while, if you don’t count the prequel coming out in November) and I thought it was a very good conclusion. It may even be one of my favorites in the series. You have Annie who is a small town girl come to the big city with a big secret and you have Steven who struggles with guilt even as he plays with fire. I think I liked Steven’s character the most because of all the men in the O’Connor family, there were a couple of scenes in the novel that just made him stand out. Although, there were times when I was like really Steven? You can’t read about one O’Connor without reading about the others and so you get some updated info on several siblings’ marriages. Spiritually, Annie gets a swift reminder to trust God and I love how much she falls in love with God and is willing to put him first in everything. This is what makes her character unique. Steven has to learn to forgive himself and to give his life to God. Good Book. You must read this series in order to make sense. Highly Recommended!