Sunday, 30 December 2012

Placebo



Back Cover
 
One man must uncover the TRUTH—
Even when others will stop at nothing to keep it BURIED.
 
While investigating a controversial neurological research program, expose filmmaker Jevin Banks is drawn into a far-reaching conspiracy involving one of the world’s largest pharmaceutical firms.  He seeks answers about the questionable mind-to-mind communication program—and answers to his own family tragedy.
 
Rooted in groundbreaking science, Placebo, explores the far reaches of science, consciousness, and faith.  This taut, intelligent, and emotionally gripping new thriller from master storyteller Steven James will keep you flipping pages late into the night.

Review

This was easily one of the most anticipated novels on my “to be read” list.  I devoured Steven James’ gritty crime drama series, “Patrick Bowers Files” (and if you have not read them – you MUST pick one up!), and was sad to see them come to an end.  Imagine my elation when I found out that Mr. James was writing a new series!  Aptly entitled “The Jevin Banks Experience”, this series follows a former magician, and now exposĂ© filmmaker, Jevin Banks, who seeks to pull the wool from peoples’ eyes regarding false psychics, televangelist con men, and fortune-telling scam artists.
 
Jevin and his faithful compatriots, Xavier, a conspiracy theory buff, and Charlene, a former assistant on his stage shows, are on a mission to blow open the new theory of mind-to-mind communication.  There are many players at work behind this new theory who have invested a lot time and money, so any attempts to dissuade or disapprove the science could be met with deadly force.
 
Given the plot lines for the novel, I have to say that I found it utterly fascinating.  Could two people who are emotionally “entangled” with each other, really affect the one another’s emotions, or even physical feelings?  For example, what is the explanation behind the inherent bond between twins, where sometimes when one feels pain, the other feels it at the exact same time, and in the same area(s) of the body?  How can they often discern each other’s thoughts and feelings – without even being in the same room?  The mysteries and complexities between a bond between twins is nothing new, but what is, is the idea that your thoughts can affect the thoughts of another, particularly those who are in a romantic relationship. 
 
Telepathy has been an interesting and intriguing subject for many years in our culture.  Often, superheroes are given telepathic powers which would ultimately give them an “upper-hand” in fighting the enemy.  Further, the power of the brain has been the topic of many scientific discussions and studies and branches out to the power of positive thinking and visualization, techniques that are often used by professional athletes to help them attain their goals.
 
And on an even different track, recently, evidence has been revealed that suggest that individuals in vegetative states can communicate through measuring their brain activity.  (CBC News, “Canadian in ‘vegetative state’ communicates to scientists”) Whether or not that means we can one day communicate telepathically to one another remains to be seen, and may be an instance of connecting two dots that do not exist. 
 
I apologize for digressing from a review of the novel itself, but needless to say, it provided much food for thought.  Whether or not it is to be taken literally, or just as a work of science fiction, is up to you.  Overall, I really enjoyed this field trip into the area of telepathy and must say that Mr. James has done it again in writing another riveting novel.  Too bad I have to wait nearly a year before the next one comes out…


Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc.  Available at your favourite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.

Taming the Wind


Back Cover

A young widow nursing the wounds of her past…
A cowboy with demons of his own…

Though grateful for the blessing of her daughter, Carissa Lowe has accepted that widowhood is her lot in life.  Bound by fear and mistrust, she feels incapable of opening her heart again.
 
Tyler Atherton has never forgotten Carissa.  When he discovers she’s living with her sister on a nearby ranch, his life becomes intertwined with the lovely widow’s.  And Carissa’s daughter, Gloria, seems determined to wrap herself around his little finger.  But while Tyler longs to provide a home and future for Carissa, he is haunted by an obligation he feels unable to fulfill.
 
Challenged by mounting hardships, can Carissa and Tyler preserve their fledgling love in a land as unforgiving and vibrant as the people who call it home?
 
Review
 
Carissa Lowe had a disastrous first marriage.  Now, widowed with a headstrong child of her own (that reminds Carissa so much of when she was younger…), Carissa’s sole purpose in life is to be a good mother to her daughter, Gloria.  Marriage is far from her mind as she cannot deny the feelings of mistrust towards men that prevents her from getting close to any man.  Any man except Tyler Atherton, that is.
 
Tyler finds Carissa very perplexing.  At one moment she is warm and friendly towards him, and the next she gives him the cold shoulder.  On the other hand, there is no denying Gloria’s feelings towards him – and he relishes the precious moments with the toddler.  But it’s Carissa’s heart he wishes to win over more than anything.  Before he could even think of committing to someone, however, Tyler is determined to find the Indians who viciously killed his father, and exact his own revenge.
 
Taming the Wind was a great, well-written novel, and I would say it is the best of the trilogy.  It intertwines tales of war and sorrow and brings it all together with messages of hope, forgiveness, and love.  The romance was sweet and it was wonderful to see two people grow in their faith and learn to lean on God, and trust in His goodness. 
 
Postscript:  I had the privilege of reviewing the first two books in this trilogy (“Land of the Lone Star”), Chasing the Sun, and Touching the SkyTaming the Wind brings this trilogy to a very satisfying end.  While each book is stand-alone, I would definitely recommend reading the books in order, as the characters make recurring appearances throughout the trilogy. 
 

Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc. Available at your favourite bookseller from Bethany House, a division of Baker Publishing Group.

A Change of Fortune



Back Cover
 
Lady Eliza Sumner is on a mission.  After losing her family, her fiancĂ©, and her faith, the disappearance of her fortune is the last straw.  Now, masquerading as Miss Eliza Sumner, governess-at-large, she’s determined to find the man who ran off with her fortune, reclaim the money, and head straight back to London.
 
Much to Mr. Hamilton Beckett’s chagrin, all the eyes of New York society—all the female ones, at least—are on him.  Unfortunately for all the matchmaking mothers and eligible daughters, he has no plans to marry again, especially with his hands full keeping his business afloat and raising his two children alone.
 
When Eliza’s hapless attempts to regain her fortune put her right in Hamilton’s path, sparks instantly begin to fly.  The discovery of a common nemesis causes them to join forces, but with all their plans falling by the wayside and their enemies getting the better of them, it will take a riot of complications for Hamilton and Eliza to realize that God just might have had a better plan in mind all along.
 
Review
 
Lady Eliza has a plan:  find the people who stole her fortune and return to England.  She has many obstacles to overcome, however, and her fumbling attempts to gain information often land her in hot water.  It’s obvious she needs a sidekick or someone to help her locate her fortune, and the people responsible for its disappearance.
 
Mr. Beckett is fairly self-sufficient, and is not in need of anyone.  Except, maybe, a governess for his precocious children.  Lady Eliza smoothly integrates herself into his family, and upon discovering that they have a mutual enemy, they join forces to right the wrongs done to them.
 
Joined by one of Lady Eliza’s previous charges, an outspoken and headstrong young woman, and a chauvinist, arrogant private investigator, their investigations would undoubtedly be met with hair-raising escapades, nightly break-ins, and lots of laughter over the mixed results.
 
It’s been a long time since I laughed so much while reading one novel.  This is such a brilliantly written novel, and the dialogue is so witty that it kept me in stitches from chapter to chapter.  It is hard to believe that it is a first novel for Jen Turano, for it is so well-crafted.  I cannot wait for her next novel!
 
Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc.  Available at your favourite bookseller from Bethany House, a division of Baker Publishing Group.

Thursday, 22 November 2012

No Safe Harbor



Back Cover
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…the man she’s grown to love?

Review

Cara Hamilton’s got spunk.  An orphan, she crosses the ocean to a foreign country on slim hopes that her brother is still alive and waiting for her there.  Her hopes are nearly dashed however, when upon arrival, her brother doesn’t show.  Alone, and without a home or a job, and when most would be sorely overwhelmed by their situation, Cara squared her shoulders, lifted up her chin, and forged her way onward.  It is this quiet strength that greatly appealed Cara to me.  She was resilient, and not helpless, when her situation got dire.

The story was really good, and including all the right elements: history, romance, and suspense.  The history was rich and very intriguing, the romance delightful, and the suspense just enough to add some extra ``bite`` to the story.  I very much enjoyed this read and wouldn’t hesitate to pick up the next novel in the series.
 
Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc.  Available at your favourite bookseller from Bethany House, a division of Baker Publishing Group.

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Full Disclosure



Back Cover
Paul Falcon and Ann Silver
-A Love Story-

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 rgion’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 US 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 failing in love really is…

Review

Dee Henderson is one of my all-time favourite authors.  I devoured her “O’Malley” and “Uncommon Heroes” series in a matter of days, and I have re-read several of them (which I only do if it is a really, really good book).  So you can just imagine how much jumping off the walls I was doing when I heard Dee had a new book coming out. 

Full Disclosure is exactly what the writing on the back says, “a love story”.  It chronicles the sweet and slow romance between two high-powered law enforcement individuals.  If anything, it might have been a bit too slow, as I found the story didn’t really pick up until about a 1/3 of the way through, which is a bit unlike Dee.  There was so much stuff in the book, and it read a bit more of character summaries on Paul and Ann, as opposed to just telling their story.  I wasn’t able to connect with Ann as well as I would have liked.  All the characters in the book described her nothing short of a saint and super-woman.  By the end of the book, you discover that Ann is an artist, pilot, author, coin collector, top murder investigator, etc.  Perhaps it is just envy speaking out, but Ann was painted at being good at so many things, that it felt a tad unbelievable.  What probably threw me off the most, however, was stating that she wrote the “O’Malley” and “Uncommon Heroes” series about her best friends.  Granted, I LOVED having the cameos by some of the “O’Malley” and “Uncommon Heroes” characters in the book, and having them as friends of Ann’s and Paul’s would have been just fine, but I couldn’t wrap my brain around Ann actually writing the books…it just seemed a little odd. 

The writing of Full Disclosure is unquestionably fabulous.  Dee is and always will be an awesome writer.  I liked that she weaved in some “crime mysteries” in the story to add a bit of excitement to the plot.  So while I’m not jumping up and down after reading the novel like I was before, it is still a good story with good writing.  And I still will be one of the first in line to read Dee’s next book.

Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc.  Available at your favourite bookseller from Bethany House, a division of Baker Publishing Group.

Monday, 22 October 2012

Borders of the Heart


Back Cover

Every life has a turning point, where one choice changes everything. 

Once that line is crossed, there’s no going back.

J.D. Jessup finds his line in the desert near Tuscon, as far from his home as the moon.  He’s traded his guitar and the songs in his head for the daily grind of an organic farm – a mind-numbing existence that dulls the pain of his memories.

His boss has one rule:  if J.D. sees an illegal, call Border Patrol. 
But when an early morning ride along the fence line leads him to Maria, a beautiful young woman near death, J.D.’s heart pushes him toward another choice.  Longing to atone for the mistakes that drove him to the desert, J.D. Hides her and unleashes a chain of deadly events he could never have imagined.  Soon the two are running from a killer and struggling to stay alive.  As the secrets that haunt him collide with Maria’s past, J.D. realizes that saving her may be the only way to save himself.
Part thrill ride, part love story, Borders of the Heart is a tender yet gripping odyssey of hope.

Review

Borders of the Heart was an incredibly well-written novel.  I love Chris Fabry’s use of words in his descriptions.  He makes the scene come alive for readers, making one think you are seeing, touching, and experiencing the moment with the character.  One example of his great descriptions is found on the first page:

“Sweating in the stillness, lying on top of the old quilt given to him by Slocum’s wife, and straining to feel any air movement from the clacking metal fan he had found in the barn, he felt beads of perspiration run past his mouth and onto the dusty pillow.”

This novel grabbed me from the first page and didn’t let me go until I read the last word.  The plot had several twists and turns, but it is the characters that drive the story.  Both J.D. and Maria have inner demons they have to deal with, making them very real, very compelling characters to follow.

All in all, a great read!

Book Trailer


Click here to see author Q&A.


Tyndale House Publishers provided me with a complimentary copy of this book in return for an honest review.

Monday, 15 October 2012

With Every Letter



Back Cover

They know everything about each other – except their real names.

Lt. Mellie Blake is looking forward to beginning her training as a flight nurse.  She is not looking forward to writing a letter to a man she’s never met – even if it is anonymous and part of a morale-building program.  Lt. Tom MacGilliver, an officer stationed in North Africa, welcomes the idea of an anonymous correspondence – he’s been trying to escape his infamous name for years.

As their letters crisscross the Atlantic, Tom and Mellie develop a unique friendship despite not knowing the other’s true identity.  When both are transferred to Algeria, the two are poised to meet face-to-face for the first time.  Will they overcome their fears and reveal who they are, or will their future be held hostage by their pasts?

Combining a flair for romance with excellent research and attention to detail, Sarah Sundin vividly brings to life the perilous challenges of WWII aviation, nursing – and true love.

Review

With Every Letter is a unique love story surrounding two characters who hold similar fears.  Lt. Mellie Blake has become used to being the “oddball” amongst any group of people, and rejection is, while painful each time, very commonplace to her.  In order to protect herself from rejection, she has erected a huge wall around herself and makes no attempt to make friends.  Lt. Tom MacGilliver, on the other hand, tries extremely hard to make friends and makes everyone think he is a happy, care-free guy in order to escape the stigma of his father’s wrong-doings.

Their similar fears are that of rejection.  While Mellie does everything in her power to avoid any circumstance that could cause rejection (namely, making friends), Tom ensures that everyone will like him so no one would want to reject him.  It’s in this that these two find common ground, and their anonymity in writing letters gives them a place to share their fears with someone who understands.  Neither of them expected the wonderful friendship that would come of it, nor the romance that blossomed between them.

I was discussing this book with a fellow reviewer (her review can be found here), and one thing that popped out was the fact that this story was about two flawed people, which in essence is two very real people.  Mellie and Tom aren’t perfect, but neither is any human being!  But what Mellie and Tom do is strengthen each other’s weaknesses and bolster their strengths to help the other become the person God wants them to be.

With Every Letter was a very touching, sweet story, and I enjoyed every moment of it.



Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc.  Available at your favourite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.

Friday, 12 October 2012

Love's Reckoning



Back Cover

On a bitter December day in 1784, Silas Ballantyne arrives at the door of blacksmith Liege Lee in York County, Pennsylvania.  Silas is determined to finish his apprenticeship quickly and move west.  But because he is a fast worker and a superb craftsman, Liege endeavors to keep him in Lancaster by appealing to an old tradition: the apprentice shall marry one of his master’s beautiful daughters.

Eden is as gentle and fresh as Elspeth is high-spirited and cunning.  But are they truly who they appear to be?  In a house laced with secrets, each sister seeks to secure her future.  Which one will claim Silas’ heart—and will he agree to Liege’s arrangement?

In this sweeping family saga, one man’s choices in love and work, in friends and enemies, set the stage for generations to come.  This is the Ballantyne Legacy.

Review

This is the first novel I have read of Laura Frantz’, but I can quickly tell you it won’t be my last.  Love’s Reckoning was an absolutely amazing piece of written work.  It captured my attention from the first page and would not let go until I finished.  I often found myself thinking about the story and the characters throughout the day when I wasn’t absorbed in the book itself. 

A recommendation on the back of the book by award-winning author Julie Lessman likens Frantz’ work to that of Liz Curtis Higgs; I couldn’t agree more.  Frantz’ writing has the same character depth and heart-pounding romance as Higgs’ and fantastic story-telling.  The only part that I found lacked was the ending.  I felt it could have been re-tooled and tweaked a bit more, as some of the characters’ actions didn’t feel realistic or plausible, given what I knew about the characters and their personalities from the first ¾ of the book. 

That said, it was still a brilliant piece of work and I will read it again.  I will also be looking forward to the second instalment in the “Ballantyne Legacy” coming out in the fall of next year.  

 
Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc.  Available at your favourite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.

Friday, 5 October 2012

The Last Disciple


 


Back Cover
The BEAST is on the throne.
The populace is ruled by its APPETITES.
And a DIVINE PROPHECY emerges that some would die to protect
and others would kill to snuff out.
With the empire sinking into decadence and decay, corruption has infected every sphere of Rome.  Those in power have marked Gallus Sergius Vitas, one of the last men of integrity, as a threat to be eliminated.
Followers of Jesus are hunted down and killed for sport as Nero attempts to stamp out the fledgling religion.  But the revelation of John, Jesus’ last disciple, portends a different victory, sending tremors through the empire.

Review

If this book were to be summed up in one word, it would be gripping.  Gripping in its portrayal of the manic Nero, the corruption of Rome, and the persecution of the early Christian Church.

“The Last Disciple” is set about 30 years after the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.  The Great Fire has already ravaged Rome and the Gladiator “games” are at its peak in the Coliseum.    Added entertainment in the Coliseum are the vicious attacks on the Christians in the arena by bears, lions, and gladiators.  It was an incredibly dangerous time to be a Christian.  But it was also during this time where great courage was displayed.

This was an incredibly well-written novel.  It grabs you at the first few pages and doesn’t let you go until you’ve turned the last page, and even then it leaves you with wanting more.

There are so many characters in this book, but the viewpoints and character development and insights are so well-done, that you do not feel the slightest bit confused jumping from one viewpoint to the other. 

The story is exciting at the least and riveting at its best.  Readers follow Gallus Sergius Vitas, a non-believer, but who is very tolerant to those of the Christian faith.  He is one of Nero’s right-hand men, and tries to use this position to help the persecuted Christians, while at the same time determine why Nero is so afraid of them.  The Disciple John’s recent letter, simply entitled Revelation, has the power to send Nero over the edge with its predictions of the End Times, and ultimately Nero’s demise.

This book isn’t one to be missed.  Those who enjoyed the Left Behind series will want to dive head-first into this series.  But those who are just a fan of great Christian fiction will want to (and should!) check this out.  If anything, it will give you a great humbleness reading about what Christians past have endured, and a great appreciation for the freedom(s) we have today.

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

The Bridesmaid



Back Cover

 
Come home to Hickory Hollow, Pennsylvania--the belowed setting where Beverly Lewis' celebrated Amish novels began--with new characters and new stories of drama, romance, and the ties that draw people together.

 
Joanna Kurtz has made several trips to the altar, but never as a bride. The young Amishwoman is a closet writer whose stories aren't her only secret.

Eben Troyer hopes to make Joanna his bride--if he can ever leave his parents' farm in Shipshewana, Indiana. Yet Eben's hopes to build a life with Joanna hinge on his brother's return from the English world...

Review

Book two in the “Home to Hickory Hollow” series, The Bridesmaid follows Joanna Kurtz and Eben Troyer, whose chance meeting embarks them on a sweet and tender love story.  Though separated by state lines, Joanna and Eben kindle their love through letters and Friday night telephone dates.  However, it isn’t long before things begin to complicate their long-distance relationship.  Eben cannot leave his family farm unless his brother LeRoy returns from the English world to take up partnership with their father in working the farm.  Joanna’s storywriting lands her in great disapproval with Hickory Hollow’s Preacher, which prevents her from transferring her church membership to Eben’s church.  The spark of love between Eben and Joanna that started out so vibrant and strong now has a possibility of being snuffed before it can thrive, and Joanna’s sister’s admonition of being “three times a bridesmaid and never a bride” is starting to feel like the truth.

I really enjoyed this novel.  I had described the first novel in this series, The Fiddler, as “…a refreshing escape…”, and The Bridesmaid is no different.  Beverly Lewis brings her readers on yet another escape, but this a very sweet one.  Mrs. Lewis’ writing is so effortless and easy to read that I thoroughly enjoyed every moment spent reading The Bridesmaid.    


 
The Bridesmaid is book 2 in the "Home to Hickory Hollow" series. A review of the first book, The Fiddler, can be found here.


Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc.  Available at your favourite bookseller from Bethany House, a division of Baker Publishing Group.

Song of the Ovulum



Back Cover

It has been fifteen years since Billy and Bonnie Bannister helped repel the demonic assault on Heaven.  Now they and Ashley Foley sit in a maximum security prison where the authorities conduct experiments on them to learn the secrets of long life.

Earlier, the world’s acceptance of dragonkind crumbled, and the Enforcers took the infant twins born to Billy and Bonnie and stole Excalibur.  The Enforcers hoped to develop a weapon to battle the dragons that are sure to try to rescue their allies.  All the while, a great secret from the past is being revealed to Bonnie through a dream.  Joran and Selah, teenaged children of Methuselah, have been trapped in a strange world for centuries, yet still able to manipulate certain events in our world during that time.

Walter Foley finds the Bannisters’ son and hopes to use his dragon traits to help him rescue the prisoners.  In the meantime, an ancient demon locates the Bannisters’ daughter and plans to use her to help him discover the hiding place of the most powerful ovulum in the world and squelch its protective song.  With that ovulum in his possession, he will be able to conquer and control both Earth and Second Eden.

The fate of two worlds now rests on the Bannisters’ two teenagers who must use their dragon traits and their innate courage to battle demons, a sorceress, and enemy soldiers in order to rescue parents they don’t even know.

Review

For those who are new to Bryan Davis and his books, Song of the Ovulum is the first in his newest series “Children of the Bard”.  This series follows his two previous series, “Dragons in our Midst” and “Oracles of Fire”.  Don’t be afraid to pick up this novel without reading the previous series however, as there is an excellent recap at the back of the book which explains all that happened previously.

Bryan is a veteran fantasy author, and his expertise clearly shines in Song of the Ovulum.  It is a richly woven tale with unique characters and multi-layered plots deeply ingrained with Biblical truths.  Song of the Ovulum will take you on a great fantastical journey and is sure to be a pleaser to young readers.
 
Book has been provided courtesy of Foundation Distributing, Inc and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc.  Available at your favourite bookseller from AMG Publishers.

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Precisely Terminated



Back Cover
 
With microchips implanted in their skulls at birth, the slaves of Cantral and Cillineese have laboured under the tyrannical rule of the nobles and their computers for centuries.  Monica, a noble who avoided the implanting and escaped a death sentence at the age of four, is now sixteen and is in hiding.  She lives with the slaves inside the walls of the Cantral palace, pretending to be one of them while the slave council plots a way to use her chip-less state to destroy the all-powerful computers that strike down any hint of rebellion.
 
The fate of millions rides on Monica's shoulders.  As the only chip-less person in the world, she must find a way to destroy the computers and free Cillineese from the nobles' iron fist before they strike with the ultimate punishment--death for everyone inside the city walls.
 
Review
 
Precisely Terminated is a debut novel from young Amanda L. Davis, the daughter of Bryan Davis, who himself is the author of the “Dragons in our Midst” series. 
 
This novel follows Monica, a noble turned wall slave, who escaped from being implanted with a computer microchip when she was only four years old.   In the cities of Cantral and Cillineese, microchips are implanted in every human being.  Powerful computers monitor each person’s microchip, and thereby each and every step a person takes for the rest of their lives.  For the nobles, it is ensuring they stay within the boundaries of their city walls.  But for the slaves, it ensures that they follow a strict daily routine: breakfast, work, lunch, work, supper, bath, and finally sleep.  If the slaves are not on schedule, or in a place that it not within their work area, (i.e. in a library when they should be cleaning a noble’s bedroom) the chip will give off powerful shocks increasing with intensity, ending with a final deadly shock.
 
As Monica is without a chip, she is the only hope that the slaves have of ever being able to shut down the computers and free the slaves from the nobles’ rule.  What follows is a twisty maze of events Monica embarks on her quest to find the computers and shut them down.
 
I confess that I haven’t read much by way of dystopian novels, the only ones being the widely popular “Hunger Games” trilogy (which I quite enjoyed), so I wasn’t sure what to expect when I cracked open Amanda’s book.  In many areas, I was pleasantly surprised.  Amanda has her own unique writing voice and style, and it is very consistent throughout the novel.  She has a wonderful imagination and an eye for detail.  I did feel, however, that Monica’s character could have been a little less antagonistic – it felt like she was constantly bickering and complaining to the other characters, and it got rather tiresome to read. You could call Monica a bit of a “reluctant heroine” by the way she viewed her mission.
 
That being said, Precisely Terminated is a fine debut novel for Amanda L. Davis, and shows a lot of promise.  I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend Precisely Terminated to youth readers interested in a little sci-fi/dystopian drama.


Book has been provided courtesy of Foundation Distributing, Inc and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc.  Available at your favourite bookseller from AMG Publishers.

Saturday, 22 September 2012

Lethal Legacy

 
Back Cover
 
A determined daughter...
A skeptical detective...
A deadly secret...
 
The police say her father's death was a suicide.  Kelly Warren says it was murder--and she has new evidence to prove it.  Detective Cole Taylor doesn't put much credence in her claim, and nothing in his case review suggests foul play.  But when he digs deeper and discovers startling information linking her to a long-buried secret, the danger escalates.  Is history repeating itself?  And who wants Kelly silenced?
 
Review
 
Lethal Legacy follows commercial artist, Kelly Warren, on her quest to get the truth behind her father’s sudden and unexpected death.  The police have ruled it a suicide, as for all intents and purposes, that’s exactly what it looks like.  However, Kelly knows her father, and is certain that he would never, ever do such a thing.  Five months after his death, new evidence surfaces, which Kelly hopes will be enough to reopen her father’s case file.
 
Detective Cole Taylor chalks the new evidence up to simple coincidences, and believes the matter is open and shut.  He is far more interested in the striking redhead who brings in the evidence.  However, he is strict about mixing business with pleasure and does his best to keep his feelings at bay.  When an attempt on Kelly’s life happens, everything changes.  Suddenly all things are not as they appear.  Committed now to protecting Kelly Detective Taylor will do whatever it takes to get the real story behind her father’s death.
 
Book three in the “Guardians of Justice” series, Lethal Legacy is a book that has it all.  Romance, suspense, riveting plot, and high-octane action.  In the two days it took  me to read this novel, it proved very hard to put down.  Irene Hannon has perfected a great recipe for novels, as proven by the two previous books in the series (which I proudly own and display on my bookshelf), and her other series, “Heroes of Quantico”.  I could say with almost complete certainty that you would be guaranteed a good read with any novel that Irene writes.  Do not miss this novel!


Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc.  Available at your favourite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.

Thursday, 6 September 2012

Firethorn



Back Cover
 
Former Marine and current Nightshade team member Griffin Riddell is comfortable.  So comfortable he never sees the setup that lands him in a maximum security prison, charged with murder.  How will he ever prove his innocence stuck behind iron bars?

Covert operative Kazi Faron is tasked with reassembling Nightshade.  She's convinced whoever set up the fugitive also dissected the black ops team.  But breaking Griffin out of a federal penitentiary amid explosive confusion may turn out to be her last assignment, because Kazi has a secret - and it could get everyone killed.

As Kazi and Griffin race to rescue the others and discover the traitor, love awakens in their hearts.  Can a covert operative and the felon she's freed overcome their mutual distrust long enough to save Nightshade?  Will anything prepare them for who - or what - is coming?

Review

I seriously devoured this book.  In two work and horseback riding-filled days.  It made me late for work at least once, and caused me to stay up late each night to finish that "one more chapter". 

What made this novel so good to me?  The characters were real and well developed.  They were multi-faceted as characters should be, because that's what we are as humans!  You felt their emotions as easily as if they were your own, and truly cared for them. 
 
The story was non-stop excitement from the first page.  Ronie's familiarity with the military is clearly evident in this book and gives a sense of realism to each scene.   

It is by far one of the best novels I have read this year.  The saddest thing about finishing the novel was that it was the last one in this amazing series - "Discarded Heroes".  I can't wait for the next novel from Ronie!

Thursday, 30 August 2012

To Love and Cherish



Back Cover
Melinda Colson has been waiting months for Evan, the assistant gamekeeper at the Bridal Veil Island resort, to propose.  Without an offer of marriage, she must return to Cleveland with the family she works for as a lady’s maid.
 
Evan isn’t afraid of hard work, and he hopes to be promoted soon.  He wants to marry Melinda – but not until he’s sure he can support her and a family.
 
Letters strengthen their romance until a devastating storm strikes the island.  With no word from Evan, Melinda knows she must journey back to Bridal Veil in search of her beloved.
 
But the hurricane isn’t the last calamity to shake up Bridal Veil.  Melinda finds a new job on the island, but still no offer of marriage comes her way.  Has she given her heart to the wrong person?  Will she ever find a man to love and cherish?
 
Review
 
To Love and Cherish brings veteran authors, Tracie Peterson and Judith Pella, together for a romantic historical collaboration.  This is the second novel in the “Bridal Veil Island” series, but I had no trouble jumping in mid-series.
 
This novel centres around two people very much in love, but having some serious communication issues.  Melinda desperately wants to marry Evan – the sooner the better.  She loves him so much and just wants to live the rest of her live with him.  Evan equally loves Melinda with the same fervour, and does want to marry her as soon as possible, but his moral convictions keep him from popping the question.  He knows that he is not financially able to support both himself and Melinda, and doesn’t want to put Melinda into poverty.  With a promised promotion coming soon, Evan has a hard time understanding why Melinda cannot wait until that comes.
 
The writing in this novel is really well-done.  The vast amount of expertise shared between Tracie and Judith is readily seen and much appreciated.  Too many novels are haphazardly put together without much attention paid to story development and grammar, and also the historical research.
 
But despite the high caliber writing, I found myself getting annoyed and frustrated with the characters for the greater part of the novel.  Melinda and Evan, for as much as they love each other, have a hard time understanding and communicating to one another.  For Melinda, she is unable to respect Evan’s desire to be in a position where he can support himself and her (and not to mention the children they will eventually have), and is constantly pouting and making Evan feel bad about his reasonable decision.
 
It felt like Evan, however, seemingly wasn’t making all the efforts he could have to seal the promotion.  Initially, he didn’t even want the promotion, and when the promotion was continually delayed, he didn’t raise the issue with his employer.  It leaves the reader wondering if the characters did have true love between them, or if at the end of the novel they would go their separate ways.
 
Overall, I was left with mixed feelings regarding the book.  The writing was well-done and the book had great potential, but I just didn’t connect very well with the main characters.  I am still looking forward to further collaborations between Tracie and Judith, however, as I have read some of their previous series (“Bells of Lowell” and “Lights of Lowell”), and thoroughly enjoyed them.


Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc.  Available at your favourite bookseller from Bethany House, a division of Baker Publishing Group.