Monday, May 23, 2016

Anchor in the Storm- Sarah Sundin

My Rating: 4 Stars

Descriptions: For plucky Lillian Avery, America's entry into World War II means a chance to prove herself as a pharmacist in Boston. The challenges of her new job energize her. But society boy Ensign Archer Vandenberg's attentions only annoy--even if he "is" her brother's best friend. 

During the darkest days of the war, Arch's destroyer hunts German U-boats in vain as the submarines sink dozens of merchant ships along the East Coast. Still shaken by battles at sea, Arch notices his men also struggle with their nerves--and with drowsiness. Could there be a link to the large prescriptions for sedatives Lillian has filled? The two work together to answer that question, but can Arch ever earn Lillian's trust and affection? 

Sarah Sundin brings World War II to life, offering readers an intense experience they won't soon forget.

My Thoughts: I absolutely love this series. Sundin has done an amazing job of creating characters who feel as though they live right down the street. Yet she sets them in situations that are far more interesting than daily life, using both their strength's and weaknesses to solve their problems.

As with the first book, this one follows two story lines: the one on land and the one at sea. However, in this book, the stories are far more intertwined with the events on board the ship having a greater connection to those on land. In this book as well, Arch plays a greater detective role than Jim did in the first.

I was not as excited about Arch and Lillian's relationship as I had been about Jim and Mary. While Arch and Lillian's fears mirrored one another, Arch fearing that he would only ever be loved for his money and Lillian fearing she would never be loved at all, I was often irritated with Arch's way of handling his fears. While Jim and Mary's relational problems made sense to me, Arch and Lillian's were not as relatable, especially since there seemed to be a lot more pushing apart than pulling together.

I still really liked the mystery aspect of the story and how it wove the lives of the two characters together, as well as Arch's willingness to look past other people's issues to the heart of what was hurting them. I'm excited to see what comes next in this series and how Sundin will mix history and mystery.

I received this book through Litfuse in exchange for an honest review.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Samara's Peril- Tour and Giveaway

Jaye L. Knight’s newest novel, Samara’s Peril, has been released! Samara’s Peril is the third book in the Christian fantasy series, Ilyon Chronicles. Read about it below and be sure to check out the other blog stops on the tour by visiting the official tour page. Don’t forget to enter the giveaway!

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About the Book
When news arrives that Emperor Daican has been in contact with his chief war strategist, it signals potential doom for the country of Samara. Determined to intervene, the resistance in Landale, headed by Lady Anne, embark on a covert mission in hopes of unearthing further information. However, a shocking discovery leads to complications no one could have foreseen.
Armed with their newfound knowledge, they set out for Samara to warn the king. War is inevitable, and they must face two desperate battles—one on the walls of Samara’s great stronghold, and the other on the battlefield of Jace’s heart, where victory might only be achievable through great sacrifice.

Available now on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and iBooks! Add to Goodreads

My Thoughts
I can't tell you how much I looked forward to reading this book. Jace has found his way onto the list of my favorite characters and I probably would have read this book if it were just about his daily life, with nothing else going on. But instead, we get to see Jace fall back into some of this darkest moments and how Elon saves him.

Jace's story is a powerful one about what it looks like to be completely broken and what it means to be completely forgiven. I can't wait to see where the story goes from here and can only hope it will be just as good.

There are some things I wish had been different. In a book where the Savior makes an appearance, I had hoped that he would have taken on a more prominent place in the story itself. Whenever Elon was mentioned, I kept hoping that this band of main characters would have taken on a discipleship role, yet the story takes the characters elsewhere. I also felt like there started to be a few too many characters for me to keep track of, though that did seem to enhance some of the story's epic scope.

The last quarter of the book is a rather intense battle, one that will keep you wondering if your favorites are going to make it and how much the survivors will have lost. But I guess you will have to read it to find out.

I received this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.

JayeAuthor2015About the Author
Jaye L. Knight is an award-winning author, homeschool graduate, and shameless tea addict with a passion for Christian fantasy. Armed with an active imagination and love for adventure, Jaye weaves stories of truth, faith, and courage with the message that even in the deepest darkness, God’s love shines as a light to offer hope. She has been penning stories since the age of eight and resides in the Northwoods of Wisconsin.

You can connect with Jaye on her website, blog, Facebook, Google+, Twitter, and Etsy.

Share in the excitement of the release and enter to win a themed giveaway pack! Prizes include an autographed copy of Samara’s Peril, a John 3:16 necklace by FaithWearDesigns, and a green wire dragon bookmark by Wirelings! (Giveaway is open to US residents only. Cannot be shipped internationally.)


Tour Schedule

Friday, May 13

Saturday, May 14

Sunday, May 15

Monday, May 16

Tuesday, May 17

Wednesday, May 18

Thursday, May 19

Friday, May 20

Saturday, May 21

Monday, May 9, 2016

Siren's Song- Mary Weber

My Rating: 3 Stars

Description: Nym and Draewulf prepare to face off in a battle destined to destroy more lives than it saves.

With the loss of Tulla still fresh in mind, Rasha’s fate unknown, and Lord Myles taken over by the dark ability, Nym and the few Bron soldiers rush to warn Cashlin’s queen. Only to discover it may already be too late for the monarch and her eerie kingdom. As the Luminescents are sifting through Nym’s past memories and the queen is reading into her future, Nym is given a choice of how to defeat Draewulf, but the cost may be more than she can bear. And even then there are no guarantees.

With that reality burrowing into her bones—along with the guilt of the lives she will sacrifice—Nym returns to her homeland of Faelen to raise an army of peasants through promises of freedom. But when the few friends she has left, along with the world and citizens she loves, are staring down the face of a monster and his undead army, will Nym summon every element her blood is capable of controlling . . . or surrender to a different strength—one of sacrifice?

Because in the end, death may be more merciful for them all.

My Thoughts: First, I have something to confess. I never read the second book in this trilogy and I had not cared overly much for the first book. I received this book as complete surprise for review from the Fiction Guild.

I liked this book better than the first one. The feel is not quite as dark and there seems to be less sexual innuendo, though still some. Nym has grown into a capable leader and has learned to stop self-harming, acknowledging that cutting herself doesn't fix anything. I also really liked Kel's character and snorted out-loud when Nym mentally addressed one of the other characters as Sir Doesn't Matter. The ending was one that I both liked and hated: liked because it kept me wondering, hated because it used a point of view other than Nym's... and it kept me wondering.

Overall though, I couldn't get attached to this story. I really didn't like most of the secondary characters and Eogan was about to get on my last nerve up until three fourths of the way through because he refused to talk to Nym about his problems. I also spent a lot of time wondering why characters held off on sharing information until the last minute.

I see where others enjoy the story. Nym is a strong heroine, one who doesn't think that being strong means hating everyone, and the fight scenes are very well done. But while I liked this book better than the first, I don't feel the need to go back and read the second.

I received this book through the Fiction Guild in exchange for an honest review.

Monday, May 2, 2016

The Confessions of X- Suzanne M. Wolfe

My Rating: 3 Stars

Description: Before he became the sainted church father of Christianity, Augustine of Hippo began a love affair with a young woman whose name has been lost to history. They were together for over thirteen years, and she bore him a son. This is her story.

She met Augustine in Carthage when she was just seventeen years old. She was the daughter of a tile-layer. He was a student and the heir to a fortune. They fell in love, despite her lower station and Augustine’s dreams of greatness. Their passion was strong, but the only position in his life that was available to her was as his concubine. When Augustine’s ambition and family compelled him to disown his relationship with the her, X was thrust into a devastating reality as she was torn from her son and sent away to her native Africa.

A reflection of what it means to love and lose, this novel paints a gripping and raw portrait of ancient culture, appealing to historical fiction fans while deftly exploring one woman’s search for identity and happiness within very limited circumstances.

My Thoughts: This is by no means a quick read. Wolfe's lyrical form of writing requires the reader take their time and mull over her descriptions, mentally digesting images of life and living. The analogies she uses fill an otherwise straight forward narrative of everyday life with complexity. But though the writing is beautiful, I could not find myself fully engaged in the story.

Though "X"s life is bittersweet, having years of love and a son only for those to be taken from her, I did not find the majority of it to be captivating or even all that interesting. I could have done without a recount of her childhood or how often her and Augustine "come together". As a work of fiction, I would have preferred there have been more focus on certain events, such as her decision to become Augustine's concubine, rather than the full scope of her life.

There are redeeming qualities to this, and those who love lyrical prose and narratives of a character's life story will absolutely enjoy The Confessions of X. However, the narrative was one that struck me as simply ok rather than attention grabbing.

I received this book through the Fiction Guild in exchange for an honest review.

Friday, April 29, 2016

40 Nights: Faith V Fear- A Movie Review

Thank you to FishFlix for providing a copy of 40 Nights: Faith V Fear DVD for review. FishFlix provides Christian Movies, from the new movie Risen to classics like the Ten Commandments and others. 

Description: An exciting Biblical drama, 40 Nights takes a look at the life of Jesus spanning from his baptism by John the Baptist, His early ministry, and then leading into his 40 day fast in the wilderness. While in the wilderness, Jesus is tempted by Satan and promised great power, wealth, and fame if he will only bow down and worship him. A tale of epic proportions, this film version of the beginning life of the Messiah is a powerful and intriguing film. Following the accounts of the four gospels, this movie gives in-depth detail into the life of Jesus and will help you understand the true story of Jesus Christ a little better.

Directed by Jesse Low and released in 2016, this movie was created to bring simplicity and understanding to the life of Jesus. Over the course of his 33-year life, he faced many trials and incredibly difficult situations. While it's easy to think of Jesus as a perfect man who faced no turmoils in His life, He was still a real man that had to face many of the same problems that all humans face today. He was tempted, he was accused, he was wrongly punished. Although, He was sinless, He faced trouble and difficulties everyday. 40 Nights helps to show everything Jesus endured and overcame in His life and journey to the cross.

My Thoughts: The Bible says that Jesus was tempted by sin and 40 Nights seeks to depict some of that struggle between faith and fear, realistically portraying scenes from Jesus' life before the Gospels interspersed within the story of Jesus' temptation in the desert. The movie portrays the human side of Jesus who still needed to eat and converse with others. In this film, Satan preys upon these needs as weaknesses, drawing out these scenes into longer arguments than are in the Bible.

The movie was not perfect. Much of the dialogue is taken straight from other parts of the Gospels and some of the flashbacks made is seem like Jesus was relying more on the wisdom of his earthly parents than his Heavenly Father. The talent of the actors also varied, with many giving very wooden performances, though the main actors did pretty well.

While not my favorite, 40 Nights does a good job with a subject that I believe is truly difficult to portray perfectly. If you are looking for a Christian movie showing the life of Christ as both God and man, this may be a good choice.

If you would like to purchase the 40 Nights: Faith V Fear DVD, you can do so here.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Shaman's Fire- Sandy Cathcart

My Rating: 4 Stars

Description: A singer, a death, a shaman…what has Sayla Whitewater gotten herself into?

Shaman’s Fire is a modern-day suspense story of a young Native American woman who struggles to find her identity as she moves between the ancient traditions of her people and the beliefs of the merging white world. She discovers magic in the shaman’s fire but, too late, she discovers such magic demands a price. Is it possible that the God of her grandmother is the same Creator her ancestors worshiped?

Shaman’s Fire is a story of choices and how the known world can change in an instant. It’s a story of injustice…a story of heartbreak…and a story of restoration.

My Thoughts: Do you walk the Creator way? Even if not, this book is still a great look at the conflict between Native Americans and Whites as well as Christianity and native traditions. The main characters of this book are Native Americans who follow Christ, at times struggling with certain traditions from the past. While the story focuses on Sayla's spiritual journey, the narrative hits on prejudice and culture clash.

For those reading Shaman's Fire for the spiritual aspect, spiritual warfare is central to the plot. In this story there is a literal battle for Sayla's soul fought between the shaman with his way of shadows and Creator Yahweh with Sayla's family. This spiritual battle is shown through visions and has very real repercussions in the physical world, showing how a family can battle darkness with prayer and faith in the Creator.

There are things about this book that bothered me at times. I was not always certain, particularly at the beginning, what the point was that the author was driving at and there were a few times where I got some of the secondary characters mixed up. One thing that I am still not sure how I felt about it was that the POV switched from character to character, with Sayla in first person, Kadai in second, and Loretta in third person.

Even with it's issues, Shaman's Fire has a lot to offer readers. I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Monday, April 18, 2016

The Bachelor Girl's Guide to Murder- Rachel McMillan

My Rating: 4 Stars

Description: In 1910 Toronto, while other bachelor girls perfect their domestic skills and find husbands, two friends perfect their sleuthing skills and find a murderer.

Inspired by their fascination with all things Sherlock Holmes, best friends and flatmates Merinda and Jem launch a consulting detective business. The deaths of young Irish women lead Merinda and Jem deeper into the mire of the city's underbelly, where the high hopes of those dreaming to make a new life in Canada are met with prejudice and squalor.

While searching for answers, donning disguises, and sneaking around where no proper ladies would ever go, they pair with Jasper Forth, a police constable, and Ray DeLuca, a reporter in whom Jem takes a more than professional interest. Merinda could well be Toronto's premiere consulting detective, and Jem may just find a way to put her bachelor girlhood behind her forever--if they can stay alive long enough to do so.

My Thoughts: Let me start by saying that I love Sherlock (the BBC and movie adaptations, not the actual books. I haven't read those. ), so this description immediately caught my eye. That said, I'm not going to focus my review on how well the story stood up to the Sherlock Holmes stories, only on how it managed to hold up on its own.

When I first received this book in the mail, it was about half as thick as I was expecting it to be. However, McMillan managed to squeeze a lot into those 200 some pages, leaving me with a picture of a city and its inhabitants that was rather complete. Merinda and Jem kept the pace of the story going with their "improper" behavior and Ray's perspective allowed me to see a side of the city that Jem and Merinda were largely removed from.

I didn't like everything about this book. The footnotes, while obviously meant to be informative and amusing, felt more like an intrusion by the author and I stopped reading them about half-way through. Along with this, there were a few times that the scenes seemed to head-hop. This might have been an attempt at omnipresence, yet it didn't come off quite right because most of the book reads as a third person narrative.

I do look forward to the sequel and reading about how Jem and Ray manage to balance their relationship. It will also be amusing to see just what kind of situations McMillan manages to put her heroines in.

I received this book through Litfuse in exchange for an honest review.