Monday, August 29, 2016
Description: It takes an assassin’s sword to cleave open the past and pierce the evil of magic and murder, betrayal and revenge. Twenty-year-old Brandan, Lord Wulfgar’s notorious chief assassin, has become repulsed by his ruthless killing of innocent people and vows to desert. But he is sent on a mission to conduct Meredyth to Wulfgar to be his wife, a fate worse than death for her. Brandan convinces her that the only way to thwart Wulfgar’s scheme is to flee with him. But then she discovers that Brandan killed her fiancé. Now her desire for revenge threatens his efforts to keep them one step ahead of their pursuers and the magical forces Wulfgar unleashes to capture them. All while Brandan grapples with overwhelming guilt and disturbing revelations about his past and his true identity—and the reality that they may not survive.
My Thoughts: This is an enjoyable first book from Anne Campbell, one that is fantasy with a pretty historical feel to it. The story combines enchanted forests with a portrayal of feudal rule that few medieval fantasies manage to capture.
There were times where certain magical elements felt as though they emerged out of nowhere. At one point, Meredyth is attacked by moss, something that I had not been aware was a possibility in this story world up until the moment it happened. I would have appreciated the story more if some of these fantasy elements had been mentioned or alluded to before they came into play, however this was a minor irritation of mine.
The theme of forgiveness is important in this story; particularly when it comes to forgiveness that is not necessarily deserved. Though the reader is sure of both Brandan and Meredyth's changes of heart, they themselves are not able to accept these changes in each other at first. Through this theme, both characters were very relatable.
I look forward to reading the next in the series and received an advance copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.
Monday, August 22, 2016
Description: Robert Truax, former Second Lieutenant and Confederate officer in the Civil War, made a promise to his comrade Phillip Markham. If anything happened to Phillip, Robert would look after his beloved wife, Miranda. She was his life, his world, his everything.
After the war, Robert is left to pick up the pieces and fulfill his pact. When he arrives at Miranda's home in Galveston, Texas, things are worse than he imagined. Phillip's name has been dragged through the mud, everyone in town believes him to be a traitor, and his widow is treated as an outcast. Even more disturbing is her emotional well-being. Miranda seems hopeless, lost, and so very alone.
Robert had thought his duty would be simple. He would help Miranda as quickly as possible in order to honor a promise. But the moment Robert laid eyes on her, his plans changed. He's mesmerized by her beauty and yearns to help her in any way he can.
He makes it his duty to protect Miranda, turn her reputation around, and to find some way to help her smile again. But it doesn't prove to be an easy task—Robert knows something about Phillip that could shake Miranda to the core and alter her view of the man she thought she knew so well.
My Thoughts: My favorite thing about this book was that it dealt with the crippling issue of depression. Miranda's situation has driven her to her lowest point, tempting her to simply end it all. Those scenes where Miranda struggled were rather powerful and emotional, as was Robert's admittance that he had once thought the same.
However, while I really liked the characterization of Miranda and enjoyed her relationship with Robert, I found myself wondering why it took so long for her situation to be resolved. No explanation is given as to why it took Robert so long to show up, and then once he does, he manages to solve most of her problems in around a week just by asking simple questions of people who Miranda already interacted with regularly.
As well, toward the end, two of Robert's war friends arrived, both of whom had seemed to have little reason to be there other than to remind the reader how good of a person Miranda's dead husband, Philip, was. The end itself felt somewhat off when a number of unnamed characters started out unwilling to help Miranda, only to suddenly change their tune once they were informed of how great Philip had been.
There were definitely parts of this book I enjoyed, and I will likely try the second especially since I have read other books by this author and really liked them. While it is not perfect, it does have its good moments and despite some of the darker points, it is a fairly easy read.
I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Friday, August 19, 2016
Description: In a village without sound…
For as long as Fei can remember, no one in her village has been able to hear. Rocky terrain and frequent avalanches make it impossible to leave the village, so Fei and her people are at the mercy of a zipline that carries food up the treacherous cliffs from Beiguo, a mysterious faraway kingdom.
When villagers begin to lose their sight, deliveries from the zipline shrink. Many go hungry. Fei and all the people she loves are plunged into crisis, with nothing to look forward to but darkness and starvation.
One girl hears a call to action…
Until one night, Fei is awoken by a searing noise. Sound becomes her weapon.
She sets out to uncover what’s happened to her and to fight the dangers threatening her village. A handsome miner with a revolutionary spirit accompanies Fei on her quest, bringing with him new risks and the possibility of romance. They embark on a majestic journey from the peak of their jagged mountain village to the valley of Beiguo, where a startling truth will change their lives forever…
And unlocks a power that will save her people.
My Thoughts: Soundless did an amazing job with the question: What if no one you knew could hear? And what if you were suddenly the only one who could? I was interested in and captivated by both the way Fei originally described her soundless environment and then later how she coped with suddenly knowing sound and being unable to explain just what all these sounds... sounded like.
The relationship between Fei and Li Wei is also well done, coming across as real rather than forced for the plot. But they are also not so hopelessly in love that the story becomes all about their relationship. The story is clean, with only a couple of non-descriptive kisses, and there is no bad language.
What took the story down from five stars was the ending. Up until the final chapters, it seemed as though Fei was going to be able to convince their village of the danger in staying where they were and thus rescue them from death. Instead, <spoiler> the village is saved by Pixiu; up-until-then mythical guardians which the people managed to wake by passionately screaming <spoiler>. While this had been hinted at, it still felt out of place because of the lack of supernatural events prior to that. It also made me question why Fei had been needed in the first place.
While I didn't like the ending, I would still say that Soundless it worth the read. If for nothing else, the way sound is dealt with makes it interesting.
Monday, August 15, 2016
Description: In a land fraught with religious strife, they must break the barriers between status and faith to forge a fresh future in a new world… After her Huguenot father is arrested, aristocrat Suzanne Richelieu escapes Versailles. Handsome German peasant, Johan Rousch, risks his life to bring her to the safety of his family’s farm in the Palatinate duchy, but when Suzanne’s brother and the French army arrive with a warning that they plan to burn the area, she and Johan are forced to flee.
With no money or options, both become indentured servants in exchange for safe passage to Philadelphia. Suzanne falls gravely ill aboard ship and marries Johan, only to survive with no memory of the wedding—a reality made worse when Johan spots the “priest” who married them working as a surveyor and later in Quaker cleric garb. Are their wedding vows valid? When Suzanne's former fiancé arrives in port, planning to abduct her, Johan must save her again—but can he do so before Suzanne is lost to him forever?
My Thoughts: I enjoyed the relationship between Johan and Suzanne. The way he always sought to protect her was endearing and the way she finally declared her feelings to him was perfect. From a large picture stand point, the story was really good, with enough danger to keep it interesting.
However, along the way, certain things stood out and lowered my esteem of the story. Johan's brother would switch from hateful to kind from scene to scene, and it seemed at times that Suzanne's understanding of German would change from proficient to sorely lacking. As well, the conflict about who would accompany her to the colonies felt largely unnecessary.
The story was what kept me interested. While at times the writing did not flow as well as it could, Johan was a great character and I wanted to find out how he would win both Suzanne's love and her trust. I would recommend it to those who love good characters above all else in a novel.
I received this book through the Book Fun Network in exchange for an honest review.
Friday, August 12, 2016
While at Realm Makers this year, I was able to take a class from Kirk DouPonce from DogEared Design, in which he showed a video detailing how he had made one of his latest book covers. It was a pretty awesome, five or so minute video, showing the process for Scarlet Moon by S. D. Grimm.
Now, the cover for this book is amazing and I am excited to see if the book itself will be just as good.
Evil is slipping through the cracks of its prison, and all Soleden trembles in its wake. Yet some would harness that evil to their own ends, and first among them is Idla, the sorceress queen bent on distorting the world.
Only one can stand in her way: Jayden. Upon realizing her mark as the prophesied Deliverer, Jayden conceals herself from her enemies and her Feravolk countrymen. But after the harm the Feravolk caused to her family, she is loath to rescue the not-so-innocent.
Hiding her mark was never easy, but now that Jayden knows both Queen Idla and the Feravolk are after her, hiding her gift of the Blood Moon will be impossible.
Monday, August 8, 2016
Description: A Complex and Compelling Glimpse at One of the Bible's Baddest Girls.
Life is not easy in Philistia, especially not for a woman and child alone. When beautiful, wounded Delilah finds herself begging for food to survive, she resolves that she will find a way to defeat all the men who have taken advantage of her. She will overcome the roadblocks life has set before her, and she will find riches and victory for herself.
When she meets a legendary man called Samson, she senses that in him lies the means for her victory. By winning, seducing, and betraying the hero of the Hebrews, she will attain a position of national prominence. After all, she is beautiful, she is charming, and she is smart. No man, not even a supernaturally gifted strongman, can best her in a war of wits.
My Thoughts: Delilah is my favorite of the Dangerous Beauty novels as Delilah has far more agency in this narrative than either of the previous female leads. Instead of the plot happening to Delilah, she reacts to and shapes much of what occurs. While Delilah is more of a villain, Hunt is able to portray her in a more sympathetic light which makes the book worth reading.
Samson's perspective is also present in the novel, the first time in this trilogy in which the Biblical male lead was a point of view character. This worked well to show both sides of the story, with both characters alternating between observer and enactor of the plot.
Overall, the story itself was engaging with a good balance of Biblical content and original story. The beginning is particularly strong on this front. Unfortunately, while the central conflict picked up toward the end, Samson and Delilah's logical faltered in places. As well, Delilah's decision to betray Samson seemed to come about rather suddenly.
The story was still wonderful, as Hunt did a really good job of making these characters likeable. However, it was not without its weak points.
I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Friday, August 5, 2016
Last Thursday through Saturday (July 28-30) was the 2016 Realm Makers, which I was able to attend this year. For those who have never heard of Realm Makers, it is a conference held every year (this was the fifth anniversary) for Christian writers of speculative fiction. This year had 180+ attendees and will most likely have more next year. Keep reading to the end to see where it will be held next summer.
This year had Thomas Locke, or Davis Bunn to the non-speculative world, as keynote speaker. Previous keynoters have included Tosca Lee and Robert Liparulo, and this time around Locke shared the disciplines he has used to develop the writing career he has today. Other conference speakers shared on tropes, writing habits, ect.
My favorite classes were Patrick Carr's Character Tropes Within Fantasy and Kirk DouPonce's How to Make a Bad Book Cover. The prior was informative and the later hilarious. Patrick Carr even signed all four of his books for me!
I was able to meet some really great people this time around, including Nadine Brandes (author of a Time to Die) and my table mates at the Gala Awards dinner. Though I didn't take many pictures, I did bring back a few more books to read!
Now, I'm not one to say that you have to go to a conference, because I know it can be daunting and stressful to plan for. But if you are interested in attending one, Realm Makers in a lot of fun. It is the only one of its kind in the Christian market and gets better every year. Not to mention, next year's keynote speaker is....
What the video for dates and location!
Monday, August 1, 2016
My sister and I love watching When Calls the Heart together, so I was really excited to see this promotion from Fishflix, a site which sells christian movies. Seasons 1 and 2 were amazing, so don't miss out on the When Calls the Heart Season 3 DVD Set. Keep reading to find out how to not only preorder the new season, but also how to receive Season 1 for free.
Free DVD Set for all Preorders
For everyone who preorders the Season 3 Collector’s Edition from FishFlix.com, we’ll send the Season 1 “Episodes” set as a free gift. We believe that this set is a great item to give away to friends who are not yet familiar with the When Calls the Heart brand. With the release timed for October 11, this bonus item is a great Christmas gift for any fan of family-friendly romantic programing.
Win a $100 Gift Card
Another promotion we’re running is a drawing for a $100 gift card. In order to enter the drawing, one needs simply to leave a review of Season 3 on this page: https://www.fishflix.com/review/product/list/id/1836/category/153/#review-form and send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org verifying the “nickname” used on the product review. A drawing will take place on Sept 1, 2016 and one lucky winner will receive a $100 gift card to FishFlix.com.
About the Season 3 Boxed Set
We’re really excited about the When Calls the Heart Season 3 boxed set because it provides some truly unique bonuses for committed fans of the show (#Hearties.)
As with the When Calls the Heart Season 1 and Season 2 Collector’s editions, this 10 DVD set contains both the film versions and the TV episode versions of When Calls the Heart Season 3. You can watch the series as 10 hour-long episodes or 5 feature films. As in previous years, fans will enjoy finding small differences between the film versions and the individual episodes.
The really exciting elements of the Season 3 collectors’ edition are the three bonus Discs. Disc 8 features the typical bonus material one would expect from a project like this – behind the scenes footage, interviews, etc. Disc 9 is a special product devoted to the fans that have made When Calls the Heart such a grassroots success - featuring footage from the #Hearties gathering in Vancouver in January of 2016. The 10th disc is a When Calls the Heart trivia game that devoted fans are sure to love.