Monday, February 23, 2015

The King's Scroll- Jaye Knight


About the Book

Following the harrowing events that brought them to Landale Forest, Jace and Kyrin have settled comfortably into their new lives and the mission of protecting those under the emperor’s persecution. The fast approach of winter brings with it the anticipation of a quiet few months ahead. That is until the arrival of four mysterious, dragon-riding cretes who seek aid in a mission of great importance—not only to their own people, but to all followers of Elôm.

Hidden in the vast mining valley north of Valcré, a faithful crete has spent years sharing his knowledge with the destitute miners and their families and is known to possess what may be Arcacia’s last surviving copies of the King’s Scrolls—the Word of Elôm. Joining the cretes, those in Landale must find the crete teacher and bring him to safety, but it is a race against time. Should Daican’s men find him first, execution and the destruction of the Scrolls is certain.

When disaster strikes, all seems lost. Could Elôm have a plan even in the enemy’s triumph?

Available on Amazon!

* * *

My Thoughts
I am really enjoying the Ilyon Chronicles. Kyrin and Jace are great characters and the Knight has done an awesome job of building their back stories. While the threat of death and execution has always been looming, in The King's Scrolls it shows up on stage, bringing home just what these characters are willing to sacrifice for their faith. As I am sure Knight meant for it to do, the story has made me question what I would do if it were my family's safety at stake.

One thing that I am not a fan of is the number of small Point of View characters there were. I have always preferred there three or four at most, and tend to be annoyed when there are characters with only one scene from their POV. I feel like some of these could have been cut out and nothing would have been lost from the story.

I can't wait to find out what happens in the next book (There is a next book? Right!?).

I received and Advanced Reader Copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.

* * *

About the Author
Jaye L. Knight is a homeschool graduated indie author with a passion for writing Christian fantasy and clean new adult fiction. 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.

* * *

Resistance Kindle Sale

Haven’t begun the adventure into Ilyon? From February 17th - 23rd, get Resistance , the award-winning first book of Ilyon Chronicles for your Kindle on sale for only 99 cents! Check it out on Amazon!

* * *

Share in the excitement of the release and enter to win a themed Epic Winter giveaway! Prize pack includes an autographed copy of The King’s Scrolls, a CD by Future World Music (some of Jaye’s favorite writing music), a dragon bookmark, a stone hawk pendant (much like the ones mentioned in the book), and a few packages of Twining’s Winter Spice tea to sip while you read! (Giveaway is open to US residents only. Cannot be shipped internationally.)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

* * *

Tuesday, February 17

Wednesday, February 18

Thursday, February 19

Friday, February 20

Saturday, February 21

Sunday, February 22

Monday, February 23

Tuesday, February 24

Wednesday, February 25

Friday, February 20, 2015

The Crimson Cord- Jill Eileem Smith

My Rating: 4 Stars

Description: Wife to a gambler who took one too many risks, Rahab finds herself sold as a slave to cover her husband's debt. Forced into prostitution by Dabir, counselor to the Syrian king, Rahab despairs of ever regaining her freedom and her self-respect. But when Israelite spies enter Jericho and come to lodge at her house, Rahab sees a glimmer of hope and the opportunity of a lifetime. In one risky moment, she takes a leap of faith, puts her trust in a God she does not know, and vows to protect the spies from the authorities. When the armies of Israel arrive weeks later, Rahab hopes they will keep their promise, but she has no idea what kind of challenges await her outside Jericho's walls--or if she will ever know the meaning of love.

My Thoughts: This is either the third or fourth novel I have read, detailing the story of Rahab. With each new telling, I start to fear that the authors will not be able to come up with a new way to tell the story.  Once again, I have been proven wrong.

The Crimson Cord is the first I can remember where Rahab was previously married. It gave her a new light to have been sold out, not by her father, but by her husband. The whole ordeal with Gamal was one I had not expected but really enjoyed. As a retelling of one of Jesus' parables, I found it interesting who was cast in each part.

The second part of the book was not as good as the first in my opinion. A lot of what is said by the characters is exactly as it is in the Bible (at least in one translation). While I understand its Biblical accuracy, it made the conversations seem a bit stilted and jumpy. Since the English Bibles we read come about through translations of Hebrew into Greek and then into English, if not first Latin, I think she could have taken more liberty with the conversations (not the story itself) in order for them to flow better. Though I know not everyone would agree with me on this.

In all, The Crimson Cord is a well told story of Rahab, one I will soon add to my bookshelf of Biblical retellings.

I received this book from Revell publishing in exchange for an honest review.

Enter the Goodreads giveaway here.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Beyond All Dreams- Elizabeth Camden

My Rating: 4 Stars

Description: 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?

My Thoughts: Elizabeth Camden has written another great book. I absolutely loved the humor and wit of this story. Anna and Luke had very real personalities, ones I would expect to meet in my daily life. I enjoyed the honesty in which Camden portrayed them, even if Luke did have a fierce temper and both had grizzly backgrounds. While this may put off some readers, I found Luke's flaws far more relatable than most hero's.

The one thing I would have preferred to be different would be plot about the ship. To be honest, I had not found the ship intriguing and would have rather had more conflict in other areas. At times I forgot about the ship altogether until Anna brought it back up and toward the end I wanted her to forget about it just as much as the Navy did.

I can't wait until Camden puts out another novel. Hopefully one about Philip this time (and the spiral staircase?).

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

History Soapbox: After reading a review saying that Luke's pacifism was out of historical context, I would like to point out that recent study of the Maine's wreckage shows no evidence of it being destroyed by the Spanish. If such is the case, Luke was right to want peace and there were many Americans who agreed with him, many who were drowned out by those who wanted war. Pacifism is not a new concept, and has been around long before the founding of the United States.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Return to Exile- Lynne Gentry

My Rating: 4 Stars

Description:A twenty-first-century doctor travels back in time to third-century Carthage to rescue her husband, but the arrival of a deadly epidemic forces her to make an impossible choice in this fast-paced second novel in The Carthage Chronicles series. 

Dr. Lisbeth Hastings salvaged two things from her accidental trip to the third century: her mother's stethoscope and her child. Making a life for her daughter Maggie back in the present is difficult, but returning to ancient Carthage is impossible. However, when Lisbeth learns her husband is slated to die a martyr's death, she must find a way around the impossible to save him. 

Cyprian Thascius returns from political exile a broken man. He's lost his faith, the love of his life, and his purpose. When Ruth, an old friend, proposes he marry her to restore his position and protect his estate, the disgraced nobleman accepts. But when Cyprian's true love suddenly reappears, his heart becomes as imperiled as the fledgling church. 

As Lisbeth and Cyprian reunite to battle a new epidemic and save the oppressed community of Christians, the chasm between the two of them seems too wide to bridge. But when Maggie contracts typhoid, Lisbeth must choose: stay and save the man she loves, or return home and save her daughter? 

Filled with gripping action and raw emotion, this incredibly compelling adventure of star-crossed lovers will keep you engrossed with every turn of the page.

My Thoughts: The description of Return to Exile found on Goodreads gives away a far bit more information than does the description on the back of the book and on Amazon. So when reading the book, I spent the first fourth of the book wondering what the point of that portion of the story was. Then something happened which shattered by heart in a million pieces, jumped on those pieces, and laughed.

Return to Exile captured my emotions better than any book I have read in a number of years, which is why I struggled with rating this book. As a sequel, I had really enjoyed the first book and found Gentry's depiction of events as heart-wrenching in this one. Yet there were a number of things which I had issue with.

For the first, quiet a few problems came about because someone failed to share information which they should have. It seemed horrible foolish for Lisbeth to not tell Cyprian of Felicissimus the moment she heard he still around. I also could not get past Ruth's extreme optimism that her, Lisbeth, and Cyprian would work out their situation, which is a really big issue that there was no way anyone was walking away from happy.

Still, there was an emotional depth and conflict which is often absent from books. Any novel that can make me mope about for a few days over the characters deserves credit.

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

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Esther- Angela Hunt

My Rating: 4 Stars

Description: An ambitious tyrant threatens genocide against the Jews in ancient Persia, so an inexperienced beautiful young queen must take a stand for her people.

When Xerxes, king of Persia, issues a call for beautiful young women, Hadassah, a Jewish orphan living in Susa, is forcibly taken to the palace of the pagan ruler. After months of preparation, the girl known to the Persians as Esther wins the king's heart and a queen's crown. But because her situation is uncertain, she keeps her ethnic identity a secret until she learns that an evil and ambitious man has won the king's permission to exterminate all Jews--young and old, powerful and helpless. Purposely violating an ancient Persian law, she risks her life in order to save her people...and bind her husband's heart.

Esther marks bestselling author Angela Hunt's return to biblical fiction. In each novel she explores an example of a Hebrew Old Testament tob woman: a woman whose physical beauty influences those around her--and can change the course of history.

My Thoughts:Biblical retellings are some of my favorite historical genres. Each ones gives a different look at some of the Biblical characters. Esther: Royal Beauty is not the first book I have read about Esther, and, as expected, keeps many of the same story points as referenced in others. Admittedly, some of these parts are ones I found to drag on longer than I would have wished (i.e. her childhood and the time spent between the event mentioned in the Bible). However, there is a lot to be said about Hunt's retelling.

In previous books about Esther, I can not remember there being any mention in foreign wars or battles. Nor can I remember much mention of Vashti other than her being removed from the throne. Yet it is known that Persia was a waring nation that expanded its territory through concur, so they must have fought. And their is no historical mention of Vashti's execution, so she must have still remained around and been a force to be reckoned with.

As well, Hunt included the point of view of the eunuch, Harbonah. While at times I was irritated by his insistence that he loved his King,  as though he had to convince the reader that this was a good thing, there were many things the reader could not have been privy to had his character been removed. Through his eyes, Hunt did splendid job at bringing Persian history to life and I am excited about the rest of the series.

I received this book through Bethany House Publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Friday, January 23, 2015

The Daughter of Highland Hall- Carrie Turnasky

My Rating: 3 stars

Description: Fans of Downton Abbey, Jane Eyre, and Pride & Prejudice will enjoy this pure and inspiring romance taking place in Edwardian England amid a clash of cultures and changing times.

Eighteen-year-old Katherine Ramsey travels to London with her family to make her debut into society and hopefully find her future husband. Her overbearing aunt insists she must secure a proposal from a wealthy young man who is in line to inherit his father’s title and estate. But Katherine questions her aunt’s plans when she gets to know Jonathan Foster, a handsome medical student and strong Christian who is determined to protect the poor and vulnerable in London’s East End. When a family scandal puts a damper on Katherine’s hopes for the season, she has time to volunteer with Jonathan, caring for children in one of London’s poorest areas, and romance blossoms. Katherine’s faith grows and she begins to envision a different future with Jonathan. But when Katherine’s work in the East End puts her in danger, Jonathan distances himself from Katherine to protect her. A wealthy suitor reappears, and Katherine must choose which path to follow.

My Thoughts: The Daughter of Highland Hall is a well written story with a compelling hero. I honestly liked Jon and his parts of the story. As well, his sister Julia was someone I enjoyed reading about. Unfortunately, I did not care for the heroine.

Kate is a well-to-do young woman who seems to want all the trappings of society, while simultaneously hating the trappings of society. She despises the rules and the etiquette, but wants to be set in the thick of it and find a husband who follows all these rules. Really, the only thing I could figure that Kate wanted from society was money and status, yet she is supposedly humble enough to make friends with her maid and spend time in the East End. She seemed more spoiled, wanting everything while sacrificing nothing and it made for a wishy-washy character without any real direction.

While Jon was mature enough to weigh what he wanted and to make sacrifices for it, his judge of Kate's character seemed idealistic. He at times told her that she was not self-centered or the kind of person to give up. Yet she put attending a party above helping a friend rescue her sister and consistently gave into her aunt's desires because to do so was less embarrassing.

When Kate was not attending a party or other social event, I enjoyed the story. I would have liked for the search for Helen to have taken up more of the book as well as the time spent in East End, however most Edwardian novels seem to take place in the ballroom.

From other reviews, it sounds as though the first book, about Julia and William, might have had a better storyline. It would be interesting to find out.

I received this book from the publisher, Multnomah, in exchange for an honest review.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Emissary- Thomas Locke

My Rating: 3 Stars

Description: 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

My Thoughts: When I first saw this book up for review, I was not aware that Hyam was to become a mage. Ordinarily, I would stay away from books with wizarding heroes, but since it was from a Christian publisher, I decided to stick it out.

Let me start by saying that Locke has done some fantastic world building. At no time did I feel like this was not a real world that I could somehow enter and move around in. The story was easy to follow and the magic interesting. Yet, as a whole, I could not get into the story.

For most of the book we are given absolutely no insight into Hyam's emotional state. We know his mother just died and assume this makes him sad, but there is no real clue that it does. The mages themselves seem to be the only things which draw an emotional response from him. Because we have no idea of his emotions, I really can not say what his motivations were. It made him difficult to relate to.

Joelle was a much easier to understand. However, it took half the book for her and Hyam to meet and during that time she did relatively nothing important to the plot except give us a better glimpse of the red mage.

Emissary had a great story, I just wish the characters had been more relatable.

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