Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Jupiter Winds- C. J. Darlington

My Rating: 4 Stars

Description: In 2160, a teenager becomes the bait to capture her missing revolutionary parents she thinks are long dead.

Grey Alexander has one goal—to keep herself and her younger sister Orinda alive. Not an easy feat living unconnected in the North American Wildlife Preserve, where they survive by smuggling contraband into the Mazdaar government's city zones. If the invisible electric border fence doesn't kill them, a human-like patrol drone could.

When her worst fear comes true, Grey questions everything she thought she knew about life, her missing parents, and God. Could another planet, whose sky swirls with orange vapors and where extinct-on-Earth creatures roam free, hold the key to reuniting her family?

My Thoughts: I must admit that I had begun reading this, believing it was a dystopian, though I was pleasantly surprised to realize it was actually a sci-fi.The technology and world building Darlington creates is fascinating and I was drawn into the landscape African landscape that was now in North America. I would have been happy for the whole story to take place in the Preserve.

Yet the story continues else where as well. First in Mazdaar and then on Jupiter. The settings were each unique from each other, and still managed to remain connected. I do wish that some of Jupiter's flora and fauna had been given a little more scientific background (like what made the dirt rainbow), but liked that it was not the exact same as Earth.

This was a well crafted story with a Christian view point that I loved. In the future, I hope to see more like it by Darlington.

I received this book in exchange for an honest review.

Monday, July 21, 2014

The Butterfly and the Violin- Kristy Cambron

My Rating: 5 Stars

Description: And then came war . . .

"Today." Sera James spends most of her time arranging auctions for the art world's elite clientele. When her search to uncover an original portrait of an unknown Holocaust victim leads her to William Hanover III, they learn that this painting is much more than it seems.

"Vienna, 1942." Adele Von Bron has always known what was expected of her. As a prodigy of Vienna's vast musical heritage, this concert violinist intends to carry on her family's tradition and play with the Vienna Philharmonic. But when the Nazis learn that she helped smuggle Jews out of the city, Adele is taken from her promising future and thrust into the horrifying world of Auschwitz.

The veil of innocence is lifted to expose a shuddering presence of evil, and Adele realizes that her God-given gift is her only advantage; she must play. Becoming a member of the Women's Orchestra of Auschwitz, she fights for survival. Adele's barbed-wire walls begin to kill her hope as the months drag into nearly two years in the camp. With surprising courage against the backdrop of murder and despair, Adele finally confronts a question that has been tugging at her heart: Even in the midst of evil, can she find hope in worshipping God with her gift?

As Sera and William learn more about the subject of the mysterious portrait--Adele--they are reminded that whatever horrors one might face, God's faithfulness never falters.

My Thoughts: I have always had a soft spot for Holocaust stories, maybe because of the great tragedy that managed to also birth light on some places. The Butterfly and the Violin perfectly captured that concept for me, with a woman who faces such hardship, yet plays beautiful music.

Often times, I find it difficult to go from on perspective to another when the characters live in different time periods. However, Kristy managed to describe each period with details that kept them distinct in my mind. The change between war torn Austria and modern California pulled me right in.

There is not much I can say that I did not like. Perhaps when Vladamir, an other wise suave gentleman, referred to his heart as a "ticker". All in all, I really enjoyed seeing the Holocaust threw the eyes of Sera and Adele. and hope to read more by Kristy Cambron.

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

Purchase a copy: http://ow.ly/zhXo3

About the author: Kristy Cambron has been fascinated with the WWII era since hearing her grandfather's stories of the war. She holds an art history degree from Indiana University and received the Outstanding Art History Student Award. Kristy writes WWII and Regency era fiction and has placed first in the 2013 NTRWA Great Expectations and 2012 FCRW Beacon contests, and is a 2013 Laurie finalist. Kristy makes her home in Indiana with her husband and three football-loving sons.

Find Kristy online: website, Facebook, Twitter

Friday, July 18, 2014

Writing Tip- Short Story Opportunity


While at Realm Makers, I learned a bit about Splickety Magazine. They publish short stories, 500-1,000 words, and pay a "small stipend" for these stories, holding the rights for six months. Splickety publishes short stories in all genres, but have two imprints as well. Havok publishes speculative fiction and Splickety Love does romance.

You can look at the submission guidelines by clicking the image above. From there you can check out the rest of the magazines webpage.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

In the Field of Grace- Tessa Afshar

My Rating: 4 Stars

Description: Without wealth or family, the widow Ruth left her people and followed Naomi, her beloved Hebrew mother-in-law, to rebuild Naomi's home in Israel. Provisions gone and starvation at the door, Ruth used all that she had left--a strong back and a willing heart--to gather grain in a field, abandoned after the harvest.

Tormented by others, Ruth is shocked to find the owner of the field watching her. Talking to her. Bringing food to her and Naomi. Boaz tells himself his kindness toward Ruth is repayment for the love she has shown to his cousin Naomi. But his heart knows better.

My Thoughts:  I have waited for the story of Boaz to come out ever since I read about his mother in A Pearl in the Sand. It was exciting to see his story as well, and then at the end to have it connected with his great-grandson, David.

Afshar brought the story of Ruth to life by showing their actions through the filter of their past. She showed us their lives before they met and how it shaped the way they interacted. While never shown in the Bible, I think that Afshar's portrayal gives a good idea of how Ruth and Boaz's lives could have been, beyond what we know.

My one complaint is that the two main characters did not seem to struggle with belief as much as those of A Pearl in the Sand, so I was not able to connect with them as well has I had Rahab and Salmone. Still, the romance is sweet and the story insightful into the lives of two Biblical figures.

I received this book in exchange for an honest review.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Five Glass Slippers- Cinderella Collection

My Rating: 3.5 Stars

Description:What happens when Cinderella is so painfully shy that she cannot bear the idea of attending the royal ball? Or when the slipper fits . . . but on the wrong girl? What happens when Cinderella is determined to oust an imposter prince from her rightful throne? Or when she is a cendrillon miner working from a space station orbiting a cthonian planet? What happens when Cinderella, a humble housemaid, is sent with a message for a prisoner trapped in a frightening fairy circus?

Here is Cinderella as you have never met her before, wearing glass slippers and off on unforgettable adventures!

WHAT EYES CAN SEE: Elisabeth Brown
Painfully shy Arella begs her stepmother to let her stay home from the prince’s ball. But kindly Duchess Germaine is determined that her beautiful stepdaughter should be presented at court along with her own two daughters. So, dressed in a gorgeous gown and a pair of heirloom slippers, Arella catches the eye of the crown prince . . . and finds her life suddenly far more complicated than she ever desired.

BROKEN GLASS: Emma Clifton
The slipper fits . . . but on the wrong girl! Rosalind never once danced with Prince Marius at the ball, for she is in love with his brother Henry. If only Rosalind and Marius would stop bickering long enough to invent a scheme, perhaps the three of them can find the real mystery lady. But they must work quickly, for dark deeds are afoot, and the kingdom is poised on the brink of disaster.

THE WINDY SIDE OF CARE: Rachel Heffington
Alisandra is determined to have her rights. She knows that she is the king’s secretly dispossessed daughter, the true heir to the throne. Prince Auguste is an imposter, and if she plays her cards right, Alis will prove it to the world! That is, if charming Auguste doesn’t succeed in winning her heart before she gets her chance . . .

A CINDER’S TALE: Stephanie Ricker
It’s a dangerous life, yet Elsa wouldn’t trade this opportunity to work at Tremaine Station, mining cendrillon from the seething surface of planet Aschen. Nevertheless, when a famous deep space explorer and his handsome son dock their starcraft at the space station, Elsa finds herself dreaming of far galaxies beyond Aschen's blistering heat. There is no time for dreaming, however, when danger threatens the space station, and Elsa and her fellow miners are tested to the limits of their courage.

THE MOON MASTER’S BALL: Clara Diane Thompson
After her terrifying experience there several years ago, the one place young housemaid Tilly longs to avoid is Bromley’s Circus. But when kindly Lord Hollingberry begs her to deliver a message to the mysterious Moon Master hidden away among the circus dwellers, Tilly can’t refuse . . . and finds herself ensnared in a web of enchantment cast by the loathsome Mrs. Carlisle and her beautiful goddaughter.

My Thoughts: Over all I found this collection pleasant to read. It was not my favorite collection of stories, but it was definitely the most unique, connected by a plot rather than genre or writing style. I found it a nice change of pace to read a collection with various genres (rather than all historical, ect.) My opinion ranged with the stories, however.

In What Eyes Can See, I was pleased to find that it did not end the way one would expect a Cinderella story to end. It was a nice change from the original story. However, I felt bad for Drusilla, and actually thought she deserved better than what she got out of the situation. I know I would have been livid if I were her... though maybe she is just more forgiving than I am.

Broken Glass had another interesting twist on the characters and who ends up with whom. But I found I was not completely pleased with how it ended as I didn't like Marius and felt a bit bad for Darcy, even if he was the villain.

The Windy Side of Care had to be my favorite of the stories. Though I would never describe Alis as an overly kind person, I found her remarks amusing, as well as thoughs of the other character. Her "godfather" was particularly humorous, though I found his reasoning strange.

A Cinder's Tale contained a vary well built world, especially for such a short story. I imagine that I will enjoy reading the book that goes along with it. However, the whole element of the "Prince" seemed a little forced and out of place in this world. I believe I would have liked it better if the story had skewed a little further from the Cinderella origin in that regard.

The Moon Master's Ball was by far the most unique of the stories. I actually enjoyed the circus setting a lot more than I had thought I would. And the slippers were really cool. I won't lie. Yet by the end, I found it hard to believe that Tilly was the only person who could save the Moon Master and that no one else in the town seemed to notice that there was something seriously off about that ball.

I applaud the creativity and originality that went into making each of these stories unique and hope to see work by these authors again.

I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Friday, July 4, 2014

A Beauty So Rare- Tamera Alexander

My Rating: 5 Stars

Description: Plain, practical Eleanor Braddock knows she will never marry, but with a dying soldier's last whisper, she believes her life can still have meaning and determines to find his widow. Impoverished and struggling to care for her ailing father, Eleanor arrives at Belmont Mansion, home of her aunt, Adelicia Acklen, the richest woman in America--and possibly the most demanding, as well. Adelicia insists on finding her niece a husband, but a simple act of kindness leads Eleanor down a far different path--building a home for destitute widows and fatherless children from the Civil War. While Eleanor knows her own heart, she also knows her aunt will never approve of this endeavor.

Archduke Marcus Gottfried has come to Nashville from Austria in search of a life he determines, instead of one determined for him. Hiding his royal heritage, Marcus longs to combine his passion for nature with his expertise in architecture, but his plans to incorporate natural beauty into the design of the widows' and children's home run contrary to Eleanor's wishes. As work on the home draws them closer together, Marcus and Eleanor find common ground--and a love neither of them expects. But Marcus is not the man Adelicia has chosen for Eleanor, and even if he were, someone who knows his secrets is about to reveal them all.

My Thoughts: Having recently read Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld (a steampunk novel), where the hero is the Archduke of Austria, I was pleasantly surprised to discover that the hero of this novel was an Archduke of Austria as well. I think that the culture allows for a far greater exploration of choice in ones destiny than can be found in English cultures.

Beyond that, I found the idea of a plain woman (one who actually is plain and does not just believe she is) attracting a prince with her mind to be enjoyable. The conversations between Marcus and Eleanor were such that I could actually see the two actually liking to be around each other for years to come, because they actually had real conversations rather than flirtation.

I found the chemistry between the characters to be refreshing and the conflicts realistic. And that Tamera wrote the story back at Belmont with Adelicia (who is a very interesting character), added another layer to the history of the novel.

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