Monday, May 22, 2017

The Chapel Car Bride- Judith Miller

My Rating: 2 Stars

Description: With her penchant for seeing the best in everyone, Hope Irvine sees a world full of good people in hard places. When her father accepts a position traveling in a chapel car as an on-the-rail missionary, she is determined to join him in his efforts and put her musical skills to good use by serving the mining families of West Virginia, saving their souls, and bettering their lives.

Luke Hughes shares Hope's love of music and her love of God, but as a poor miner he knows he can offer her no future. Still, the notes she sings resonate in his heart. When she begins to travel with a young mine manager to neighboring counties, Luke can hardly suppress his jealousy. It isn't until he begins to suspect these missions of mercy might be the mine manager's cover for illegal purposes, though, that Luke feels justified in speaking up. But how can he discover the truth without hurting Hope or, worse, putting her in danger?

My Thoughts: This novel was fairly lack-luster. There's not much to the plot, it's more just things that happen in the characters lives. The first two chapters of the book are spent in a town other than Finch (where they spend the rest of the book), dealing with a conflict that has nothing to do with the rest of the story. While it did lead to the moment when Hope and Luke met, it was in no way necessary for them to meet that way.

Hope and Luke are both characters with very little personal conflict. Hope is a very nice person who wants to help everyone and Luke is the same, but neither one have any real personal issues to overcome. The only character I really cared for was Kirby, whose character was a bit tarnished, and clearly not the guy Hope was going to choose.

I might have still thought this book was all right if not for the writing. Within the first hundred pages, it was said at least five or six times that the miners didn't like outsiders and that included people claiming to be preachers. Then there were also the number of times it was said that only the women and children were ever happy to see Hope and her father (and that was because she bribed them with candy and thread). All of this was told rather than shown, which would have been a lot more interesting.

I have provided an honest review after having received a copy of this book from the publisher.

Monday, May 15, 2017

The Illusionist's Apprentice- Kristy Cambron

My Rating: 2.5 Stars

Description: Harry Houdini’s one-time apprentice holds fantastic secrets about the greatest illusionist in the world. But someone wants to claim them . . . or silence her before she can reveal them on her own.

Boston, 1926. Jenny “Wren” Lockhart is a bold eccentric—even for a female vaudevillian. As notorious for her inherited wealth and gentleman’s dress as she is for her unsavory upbringing in the back halls of a vaudeville theater, Wren lives in a world that challenges all manner of conventions.

In the months following Houdini’s death, Wren is drawn into a web of mystery surrounding a spiritualist by the name of Horace Stapleton, a man defamed by Houdini’s ardent debunking of fraudulent mystics in the years leading up to his death. But in a public illusion that goes terribly wrong, one man is dead and another stands charged with his murder. Though he’s known as one of her teacher’s greatest critics, Wren must decide to become the one thing she never wanted to be: Stapleton’s defender.

Forced to team up with the newly formed FBI, Wren races against time and an unknown enemy, all to prove the innocence of a hated man. In a world of illusion, of the vaudeville halls that showcase the flamboyant and the strange, Wren’s carefully constructed world threatens to collapse around her.

Layered with mystery, illusion, and the artistry of the Jazz Age’s bygone vaudeville era, The Illusionist’s Apprentice is a journey through love and loss and the underpinnings of faith on each life’s stage.


My Thoughts: To be upfront, I had not found the premise of this book to be all that interesting. The description made it fairly clear that actual illusions would play little part in the way the book was written and would instead be a backdrop to the rest of the plot. In that I was right. Though the reader is able to view a number of illusions throughout, the continued skepticism of the point of view characters takes away the grandeur of them. Even Wren, an illusionist by trade who should be fascinated by other people's work, instead seems to snidely remark on how none of it could possibly be real.

I understand this in someways, as the author obviously wishes to make her position on such matters clear. And she goes to great lengths to remind the reader that magic is not real and that mystics are nothing but frauds. Yet it causes me to question why the author wrote about vaudeville at all, if she had no intention of using the inherent smoke and mirrors to further draw the reader in.

Cambron has no issue with creating well developed worlds and characters. Wren's background is full of twists, which were well spread through the novel. However, for a story like this, there is a need for a twist in reality, at least so far as the reader understands it. Cambron attempted to capture that same level of mystery with the flow of the scenes and the way in which the characters interacted, and yet I don't believe that it succeeded.

At times, both Elliot and Wren were incredibly vague with their internal monologues, to where I was not sure what they were thinking. At others they seemed to contradict past information given to the reader or else reintroduce facts the reader is already aware of as though they were not.

I wish that I could have liked this book. I've read and enjoyed other novels by this author, as well as novels which dealt with illusion. However I cannot help but feel that Cambron's writing style is not suited to this subject matter. Though, that could be only my opinion.

I have provided an honest review after having received a copy of this book through The Fiction Guild.

Monday, May 8, 2017

An Uncommon Protector- Shelley Shepard Gray

My Rating: 3 Stars

Description: Overwhelmed by the responsibilities of running a ranch on her own, Laurel Tracey decides to hire a convict—a man who’s just scary enough to take care of squatters and just desperate enough to agree to a one year post.

The years following the war have been hard on Laurel Tracey. Both her brother and her father died in battle, and her mother passed away shortly after receiving word of their demise. Laurel has been trying to run her two hundred acre ranch as best she can.


When she discovers that squatters have settled in her north pasture and have no intention of leaving, Laurel decides to use the last of her money to free a prisoner from the local jail. If she agrees to offer him room and board for one year, he will have to work for her to pay off his debt.


Former soldier Thomas Baker knows he’s in trouble when he finds himself jailed because he couldn’t pay a few fines. Laurel’s offer might be his only ticket out. Though she’s everything he ever dreamed of in a woman—sweet and tender-hearted, yet strong—he’s determined to remain detached, work hard on her behalf, and count the days until he’s free again.


But when cattle start dying and the squatters damage a barn, Thomas realizes more than just his freedom is on the line. Laurel needs someone to believe in her and protect her property. And it isn’t long before Laurel realizes that Thomas Baker is far more than just a former soldier. He’s a trustworthy hero who’s survived a terrible past. He needs more than just his freedom, he needs her love and care too.


My Thoughts: The story started out really good. It was engaging and easy to read, so I blew through the first quarter of the book in one sitting. At that point, I was pretty sure that it was already much better than the last book in the series (which I had given 3.5 stars) and I was really excited to pick it back up the next day.

But then something changed. The story started become repetitive, with a good portion of the character's interacts being the same argument over and over. I also started to notice certain words were repeated far more than they needed to be. There were four pages in a row in which Thomas was "contemplative" about something. He also managed to say a few times what Laurel was thinking, using the same wording so that the character voices of the two were indistinguishable.

As with many authors who become popular, I think this book suffered from too few drafts. As though the editor trusted we would read it anyway, despite the mistakes. And while the problems with this one were not overbearing, they were still off-putting. The story is there for anyone who loves Gray's books, and I still believe that the story itself was better than the first book. However, I'm frustrate to see a great story hurt by simple fixes. So this time around, I can't give it any higher than a three.

I have provided an honest review after having received a copy of the book through the Fiction Guild.

Monday, May 1, 2017

The Angels' Share- James Markert

My Rating: 4 Stars

Description:

Some believed he was the second coming of Christ. William wasn’t so sure. But when that drifter was buried next to the family distillery, everything changed.
Now that Prohibition has ended, what the townspeople of Twisted Tree, Kentucky, need most is the revival of the Old Sam Bourbon distillery. But William McFee knows it’ll take a miracle to convince his father, Barley, to once more fill his family’s aging house with barrels full of bourbon.

When a drifter recently buried near the distillery begins to draw crowds of pilgrims, the McFees are dubious. Yet miracles seem to come to those who once interacted with the deceased and to those now praying at his grave. As people descend on the town to visit the “Potter’s Field Christ,” William seeks to find the connection between the tragic death of his younger brother and the mysterious drifter.

But as news spreads about the miracles at the potter’s field, the publicity threatens to bring the depth of Barley’s secret past to light and put the entire McFee family in jeopardy.

The Angels’ Share is a story of fathers and sons, of young romance, of revenge and redemption, and of the mystery of miracles.


My Thoughts: The Angels' Share is a good read. The writing is compelling and sucks you into the time period as well as William's chaotic life, inserting you into the setting of Twisted Tree. The story literally opens with a bang and leaves with one as well. Though the pace is slow, there is nothing dull or uninteresting about it.

At times, the lingo was a little much. The author Markert writes as though you already know what most of the terms mean and, though there are context clues, I still was not sure about the meaning of a few. As well, the period slang is thick throughout the dialogue, which was both good and at times stereotypical. I've listened to recordings of mobsters who didn't sake "Jack" so often.

I would also not come looking to this book for a "Christian" read. Despite it's being published by Thomas Nelson, I found it hard to pinpoint a Christian message. Don't get me wrong, the story is great and if you are not looking for a scriptural message, then this is perfect. The "Potter's Field Christ" is portrayed as a character whom no one can agree on, who lived in a time when no one could agree on what they believed anyway.

In some aspects, the story does place the reader in the position of the Israelites during the time of Christ, unsure which narrative they have heard is true. In that respect, it makes for an interesting discussion though I disagree with many of the parallels drawn. As to whether or not you might like this novel, I guess that depends on what you are looking for.

I have provided an honest review after having received a copy of this book from the publisher.


Monday, April 24, 2017

The Sacred Writings: Beneath the Blackberry Moon- April Gardner

My Rating: 5 Stars

Description: Big Warrior Totka Hadjo enters his toughest battles yet—the fight for love, the invasion of fear, and the inescapable ashes of each.

The war has ended, and now, Totka Hadjo must endure eleven moons and twenty-six sleeps without his beloved Copper Woman. But he has a two-fold task to keep him occupied: establish a lodge deserving of her and challenge her Jesus Creator to a vision, to prove his existence.

Totka leaves the white settlements with Copper Woman’s holy book, an object with medicine strong enough to keep at bay the hounding ghosts of his unavenged ancestors. But the sacred writings cannot restrain the Bluecoat who has returned from the dead, the one who first owned her heart. From the far reaches of the Muscogee Confederacy, Totka is powerless to stop the onslaught of events that conspires to take his beloved from him forever.

Leaping Waters, Totka’s old passion, is a constant presence he cannot escape, but she might be able to unlock the spiritual mysteries found in the holy book’s talking leaves. While he wades through the confusing symbols, the Choctaws, his ancient enemy, are determined to seize prime Muscogee hunting lands. In the process, they aggravate wounds that might never heal and expose him to a truth too bitter to swallow.

Denial and revenge go down much easier.


My Thoughts: I was so afraid to start reading this book; afraid that it wouldn't live up to the first. I have read many other novels where the main characters split off from each other in the second book and I have never liked that second book until now. Though very different from the first part, The Sacred Writings is just as amazing and I'm a little thunderstruck by how much I enjoyed it.

What sets The Sacred Writings apart from other stories where the love interests are separated is that the majority of this story focuses only on Totka. April made the correct decision to let him hold the story since his is by far the most interesting plot line at this point in his and Copper Woman's story. And even though he and Copper Woman are  not together, she is never far from his thoughts and I love how their separation drove his character arc.

Though the romance is not quite as strong, there are enough scenes to keep the romantic tension going right along side every other conflict Totka has to deal with. *Hugs book to chest* I loved this book so much.

That is not to say that there are not a few problems. A couple scenes stretched on longer than I was willing to read through and I ended up skipping on to the next. As well, the very last connection found between Totka and Hilaho felt like far too much of a coincidence. However, if you loved the first part, you will adore this as well.

Monday, April 17, 2017

The Message in a Bottle Romance Collection- Joanne Bischof and others

My Rating: 4 Stars

Description: Join the journey as one word etched in Latin on an ancient bronze bottle travels through the centuries to reach five young women who are struggling to maintain their faith in God and love. An Irish princess, a Scottish story weaver, a Post-Colonial nurse, a cotton mill worker, and a maid who nearly drowned each receive a message from the bottle just when they need their hope restored. But will the bottle also bring them each to a man whose love will endure?

My Thoughts: The collection started out strong with a captivating prologue that had me certain the rest of the stories would be spell binding. Unfortunately, after that, the collection started out a bit rocky, though it did get better as the stories progressed.

The first novella in the collection, The Distant Tide, was my least favorite of the stories. The characters' motivations lacked much conflict and I felt that the Message Bottle played an insignificant role in the plot.

The second story was better, the Message Bottle was more prominent and I like the characters better, however it was with the third story that I really started liking the collection. Those last few stories felt far more believable and the settings were more immersive. Though not my favorite romance anthology, I believe this one is still worth the read if you happen to come across it.

I have provided an honest review after having received an ecopy from the publisher through Netgalley.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Praying the Psalms- Ben Patterson

My Rating: 4 Stars

Description: Have you ever tried to pour out your deepest feelings to God, only to discover that you can't find the words? We want to feel connected to God, but sometimes it seems like we're not speaking the same language.

There is no better place in all of Scripture than Psalms to learn to be with God. Praying the Psalms includes 50 selections from this book--songs of praise, cries for help, glad rejoicings, and humble offerings--accompanied by inspirational devotions that will open a divine window in your prayer life.

Adapted from God's Prayer Book; now in a deluxe LeatherLike binding.



My Thoughts: Though I have read through the Bible a few times, Psalms is a book I tended to slog through. It was only slightly more interesting to me than Numbers, and I simply could not understand why so many people loved to quote it. Praying the Psalms seemed like a chance to figure out why others found this book of the Bible so moving.

I have to say that this little book managed to give me a new perspective on the Psalms. It allowed me to take my time, reading each one individually and to really appreciated what the original writers were saying. Instead of rushing through multiple chapters in one day, I lingered on each and compared them to my own heart cry.

Each of the Psalms included is followed by the author's take on the subject matter, along with a breakdown of some of the more important verses. Though I appreciated Patterson's perspective, I did not agree with all of his conclusions. Some did not seem to correlate as well with the scripture as did others.

I really liked the size of this book. As someone who travels for work, Praying the Psalms was compact enough to bring along in my bag, with short enough chapters that I was able to read it on days when all I wanted was to collapse in bed and never get up. I would definitely recommend it as a gift for family members who struggle to get through longer devotionals and I plan to reread it myself.

I have provided an honest review after having received a copy from the publisher.

Friday, April 7, 2017

Search by Content- Book Ninjas Allows You to Chose

Recently I was made aware of a site called Book Ninjas, where readers can search for books in order to determine their sexual content level. Now, I know there are other sites like this, however this is the first which I have seen were you can actually search for a title or author instead of just by genre. So instead of looking for new books, I can check the rating on a book I am already considering. (Now picture me getting really excited!)

Today I have Lily Black, one of the Book Ninjas, here to tell us a little more about the website:




1.      How did Book Ninjas come about?

As a romance reader I (that is, Lily) was always stumbling across scenes that were way too hot for me, as well as books that had language I didn’t want in my head. After complaining of this to my sweet hubby for a few years, he got the idea to create a program which could quickly provide a blush level for books, so readers could choose books that were the best fit for them. Flash forward several years of hard work, and we launched Book Ninjas in November of 2016!


2.      How easy/difficult is it to rate a book on the blush-o-meter?

Hmmm…so, this question can be interpreted two ways. How easy is it for me, Lily, to add books to the catalog? That’s fairly simple, thanks to the algorithms and tech-wizardry that goes on behind the scene, as the Ninjas do their work. I simply select a book file (with its attached cover image and author) and add the description and genres. The Book Ninjas do the rest, providing the book a blush level!

Behind the scenes, the Book Ninjas use a variety of lexical analysis techniques to analyze the books, and give intermediate scores for language, overall heat level, and highest heat level (i.e., the hottest scene), which are then combined to provide the overall blush level.



3.      About how many book ratings does Book Ninjas currently offer?

We’ve just passed up the 1,000 mark for books in the catalog, and are super excited about that! Of course, that’s split over lots of genres plus further divided by romance vs. YA, etc., and by blush level. But still, we’re thrilled to have so many books in the catalog, and we continue to add more all the time!

Any authors or publishers who are interested in having their book(s) added to the Book Ninja catalog can contact me directly via email at lily at lilyblackbooks.com, or can use the contact form here [http://www.book-ninjas.com/contact-the-book-ninjas/]. Books need to have a minimal number of reviews on Amazon and/or Goodreads, but we are eager to help authors and publishers get their books into the catalog.


4.      Are there any plans to expand the blush-o-meter? Whether to other types of content or else to offer a breakdown of content?

Yes, we are planning to add a rating indicating how bloody or gory a book is, which should be useful to readers in the Mystery/Thriller/Suspense genres.  The Ninjas are voting to call it the “blood-o-meter,” but we’ll have to see.  We’d also like to offer something for kids books someday, but that is further down the road. The Ninjas are always learning and training hard behind the scenes!

As for a breakdown of content, that’s already in the works and will soon be available to registered users! The extra info we plan to provide to those who’ve created an account will allow readers to see individual ratings for language, overall heat level, and hottest scene. The Ninjas will also break down the specific swear words included in a book, and other useful information. User interaction with the rating system is also planned. We should be rolling these (and other) updates out soon, so anyone interested should sign up for the newsletter here [http://www.book-ninjas.com/newsletter/] to stay informed!



Thanks Lily! I can't wait to see Book Ninjas expand.


Bio:  Lily Black believes in true love, but is also quite sure going after it is the scariest thing we'll ever do!  She explores this dynamic in her romantic suspense novels, which are set in the small imaginary town of Willowdale, where people dream big, love deeply, and kick butt if necessary.  She has a black belt in Chung Do Kwan Tai Kwon Do, and has also trained in everything from judo to broadswords.  She lives in North Carolina, where she works as a content editor for a small publisher, and divides her free time between the mountains and the sea with her very patient and loving husband and their teen daughter. She is also the co-creator of the Book Ninjas’ Blush-O-Meter. Readers everywhere search the Book Ninjas’ online catalog for romance, YA and chicklit novels in all genres, and find books that match their preferred blush level!
Book Ninja’s Catalog: http://www.book-ninjas.com/
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/16078435.Lily_Black


She has a new novel coming out, which is a 4 on the Blush-o-Meter, if you would like to check it out.



Description: Love is worth fighting for.

Alexa Wolving has just one rule: never give a guy a second chance. That works just fine in the safe life she’s built. In the charming town of Willowdale, her day job as a librarian balances perfectly with her evening job as a black belt instructor. But when she attracts the attention of a stalker, Alexa’s carefully built world begins to crumble.

Drew Cosimo knows he broke Alexa’s heart five years ago when he took his first Ranger assignment and disappeared from her life. Now that he’s out of the army, he’s moving back home to Willowdale. He’s not looking for a fight, but making peace would be easier if Alexa hadn’t told the entire town he was a money-grubbing jerk. Despite the tension between them, Drew is quick to offer his protection when a stalker forces Alexa from her home.

As the stalker’s attacks escalate, Alexa and Drew are forced to face their painful past and the simmering attraction between them. They must fight to save each other before everything they care about goes up in flames.

Monday, April 3, 2017

Grace and the Preacher- Kim Vogel Sawyer

My Rating: 2 Stars

Description: The Kansas community of Fairland anticipates the arrival of their new minister and in recent months, late in 1882, postmistress Grace Cristler has communicated with Reverend Dille via letters, answering his questions about the little town, and developing affection for the man who pens thoughtful missives.

Theophil Garrison grew up under the loving influence of his saintly grandmother, but was roped into his cousins’ train-robbing plan. When they fail and are apprehended, Theo fled the scene, evading jail time. Now an angry cousin is out to avenge Theo's duplicity, and he’s on the run. He encounters a fatally ill traveler--a minister. Seeing a way to keep hidden, Theo trades identities with the man, dons his fine black suit, carries a Bible, and prays that he'll be accepted as Rufus Dille.

Once in Fairland, if Theo's true identity is uncovered, what will be left of the world he has built for himself, Grace, and those in the town who have come to love and accept him?


My Thoughts: Normally I give a book until page 100 before I set it aside as a DNF. However, by that time the hero and heroine had still not met, so I pushed through until they had. At that point, the story did pick up, so I was willing to continue with it. Yet I never truly felt invested in anything that happened.

Theophil's choices seemed less like those of a mature adult who has endured abuse and more like a scared teenager with no concept of how his choices would affect others. Grace was somewhat more mature, but still behaved like she might have been seventeen. There was a lot of blushing and stuttering on both sides, and while it was mentioned that they spent hours talking to each other, the reader is not privy to hardly any of the time which these two characters spend one on one.

Most of the actual romance between Theo and Grace was seen through the perspective of Bess. Her's was an interesting POV, with a good twist toward the middle of the book, but she over shadowed the two main characters. As well, I also found Earl's perspective to be far more interesting up until the end.

Overall, the conflict was not very intense. The characters seemed to forgive and forget without much issue and there was not as much of a climax as I would have liked. It is an easy, uncomplicated read that may offer a few hours of distraction, and there is a good bit of scripture worked into the mix without being overly preach. And that on its own earns the story a couple stars.

I have provided an honest review after having received an ARC from the publisher.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Geekerella- Ashley Poston

My Rating: 4 Stars

Description: Geek girl Elle Wittimer lives and breathes Starfield, the classic sci-fi series she grew up watching with her late father. So when she sees a cosplay contest for a new Starfield movie, she has to enter. The prize? An invitation to the ExcelsiCon Cosplay Ball, and a meet-and-greet with the actor slated to play Federation Prince Carmindor in the reboot. With savings from her gig at the Magic Pumpkin food truck (and her dad’s old costume), Elle’s determined to win…unless her stepsisters get there first.

Teen actor Darien Freeman used to live for cons—before he was famous. Now they’re nothing but autographs and awkward meet-and-greets. Playing Carmindor is all he’s ever wanted, but Starfield fandom has written him off as just another dumb heartthrob. As ExcelsiCon draws near, Darien feels more and more like a fake—until he meets a girl who shows him otherwise. But when she disappears at midnight, will he ever be able to find her again?

Part romance, part love letter to nerd culture, and all totally adorbs, Geekerella is a fairy tale for anyone who believes in the magic of fandom.


My Thoughts: I've always liked fairytale retellings and this was no exception. An ode to both fairytales and fandoms, Geekerella is a fun twist on a subgenre. I enjoyed most of the ways Poston incorporated the classic Cinderella elements and found it a cute read that was easy to get immersed in.

I particularly liked Darien, whose sense of humor was near my own. Though he could be arrogant at times, he was (almost) always sweet with Elle. She on the other hand... could be harsh.

Though I did really like the book, there were some problems I had with it. First, the last portion of the book was rushed. While most of the book took place over at least a month, the end rushed through in about two days. And rather than make the climax about the characters' affection for each other, Poston chose to make it about their love of fandom. While not terrible, it felt like somewhat of a let down to the previous romantic build up.

I also would say that this should not be labeled as a YA. Though the characters are teenagers, there were certain things said which I do not believe to be appropriate for this age group, particularly younger teens. There is plenty for an adult to love, for whom I do recommend this as a fun read.

I have provided an honest review after receiving a copy of this book from the publisher.

Monday, March 20, 2017

King's Blood- Jill Williamson

My Rating: 4 Stars

Description: In the second volume of Jill Williamson's Kinsman Chronicles, a remnant has escaped the destruction of the Five Realms and now lives on several hundred ships adrift at sea. As a flock, they sail north into the unknown in hopes of finding land that might become their new home.

As the king's illness worsens, Sar Wilek takes authority over the expedition and struggles to rule the disjointed people, while assassination attempts, vicious serpents, and dark magic endanger his life. 


One prophecy has come to pass, but another looms dauntingly in the future. Who is this Deliverer? And if the Magonians have him, what might that mean for the realm of Armania?


My Thoughts: The first portion of this book was not as enjoyable as I had hoped. A lot of the POV characters I had come to love from the first book were not given their own scenes in this and were instead replaced by other POV characters. This took some getting used to, as well as required me to comb my memory of the last book for who these new characters were. The second portion of the book did not have this same problem, as I had acclimated to the new characters. Yet it was in the final third of the book that the story truly interested me.

This is the part of the story where the connection between this series and the Blood of Kings started to make sense. Because the magic and cultures of the two stories are so different, I had struggled to reconcile them in my mind. Yet Jill does an amazing job of bringing about the connection and planting the seeds needed for Achan's world to exist.

Readers who had an issue with the many "romantic" conflicts in the first book should be warned. Those still exist in this portion of the book, though now Wilek and Trevn are fighting against them and advocating for a return to sole worship of Arman. The connections to the books of Kings and Chronicles are more apparent than ever, with phrases and scenarios pulled straight from the Bible. However these stories are ones of darkness, when Israel turned from God and the people of this fictional world are no different.

Though King's Blood is not everything I had hoped, it still has a lot of meat to it. The various characters and conflicts pull into question what we might have done in similar situations and remind us just how difficult it can be to serve God in an idolatrous world where so many offer up apposing answers. I think that is something we tend to forget in lives lured to complacence. And the last portion of the book, learning origins of Achan's history was worth read.

I have provided an honest review after having received a copy of this book through the publisher.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Explore Leira Blog Tour: I is for Inali



The initial introduction of Dah Inali in Songkeeper will likely stay with me for a while. The description of him, a dark, desert warrior with dreadlocks and spectacles, is one of the most unique physical characterizations I can ever remember reading. So when I was able to chose a character to host for this tour, I immediately thought of him. That said, I'll let the author tell you a bit more about him...




I is for Dah Inali 

We first meet Dah Inali in Songkeeper. Dah Inali is the brother of Sa Itera and the brother-in-law of Matlal Quahtli, chief over the entire Saari nation of the Vituain Desert. Born heir to the Sigzal tribe, he lost his inheritance when Itera was made mahtem in his stead and the Sigzal tribe was aligned with Quahtli as her dowry. It is a loss that he bears bitterly … and one he will not soon allow her to forget.

With a flick of his hand, he adjusted the spectacles perching on the bridge of his nose and turned to Sa Itera. “What does the Mahtem of the Sigzal tribe require of her disinherited brother?” –Songkeeper

Inali is an artist. I have always been fascinated with those who possess a gift for art, because I do not. Drawing the map of Leira for Songkeeper was about as much as my talents permit. I do not have an eye for design, and the things that I think I see so clearly, I cannot translate onto the page. When I try … I am bitterly frustrated.

So of course, I have the highest respect for the amazing people who can.

And Inali is one of those. Even when traveling, he carries parchment and charcoals in his satchel and can be found frequently setting his thoughts into drawings. He has the sensitive soul of an artist. Often underestimated because of his quiet, unassuming nature, when the moment of pressure comes, he may surprise you with his strength.

When it comes to life, his perspective is a somewhat melancholy and fatalistic one. 

“Things come and things go. Such is life, is it not, little Songkeeper?” --Songkeeper

He typically goes about clad in fringed leggings and an open lion skin vest with a clay bead on a chain around his neck. As far as weapons go, he prefers the subtle art of a spear pipe and coated darts to the heavier spears preferred by the majority of the Saari. 

A young Saari warrior stood beside him, skin the dull bronze of the desert. He clutched the upright shaft of his spear in two hands, point buried in the sand, cheek pressed against the haft. Hair the color and consistency of dried earth hung in knotted strands to his shoulders, interwoven with clay beads. A pair of spectacles perched on the bridge of his nose. –Songkeeper

Inali was one of my favorite secondary characters to write in Songkeeper. (Although, admittedly, I say that about all the secondary characters … because they are all my favorite!) In my mind at least, he was very distinctive. His scenes came easily. His personality translated onto the page with little effort on my part. Both physical description and personal mannerisms quickly fell into place. This is when I wish I was an artist like Inali, so I could easily translate the image in my head into a picture on a page! With no skill as an artist, I am forced to resign myself to words. And oddly enough, many of Inali’s scenes went from first draft to final stage with few changes. 

Regardless, Inali himself intrigued me. With his spectacles, satchel, and sketching supplies, his character stood in stark contrast to the majority of the Saari characters who took center page. In a world of fierce warriors, deprived of his birthright and his dream, he struggles to find his place. Maybe I just like characters who have hit every unlucky break and hard knock you can imagine, because poor Inali has had to face many significant disappointments in his life.

Those who manage to rise above such circumstances become the heroes we remember. But those who are broken and crushed beneath such circumstances become the casualties we mourn.

Curious as to which way Dah Inali will swing? I guess you’ll just have to read Songkeeper!

Check out the links below for a place to purchase the books.

Barnes and Nobles: Orphan’s Song, Songkeeper

And before you leave, don’t forget to enter the giveaway! One lucky winner will take home a copy of Orphan’s Song, Songkeeper, and a gorgeous handmade mug. Two lucky winners will take home copies of Songkeeper! Enter through the Rafflecopter below and be sure to visit www.gillianbronteadams.com to continue following the blog tour. You can earn new entries for each post that you visit along the way. Winners will be announced after April 15th.


a Rafflecopter giveaway



Bio: GILLIAN BRONTE ADAMS is a sword-wielding, horse-riding, coffee-loving speculative fiction author from the great state of Texas. During the day, she manages the equestrian program at a youth camp. But at night, she kicks off her boots and spurs, pulls out her trusty laptop, and transforms into a novelist. She is the author of Orphan’s Song, book one of the Songkeeper Chronicles, and Out of Darkness Rising. Visit Gillian online at her blog, Twitter, or Facebook page.





Description: War ravages Leira and the Song has fallen silent.

Freed from the hold of a slave ship, Birdie, the young Songkeeper, and Ky, a street-wise thief, emerge to a world at war. Hordes of dark soldiers march across Leira, shadowed by whispers of plague and massacres, prompting Ky to return to his besieged home city in hopes of leading his fellow runners to safety.

Desperate to end the fighting, Birdie embarks on a dangerous mission into the heart of the Takhran’s fortress. Legend speaks of a mythical spring buried within and the Songkeeper who will one day unleash it to achieve victory. Everyone believes Birdie is the one, but the elusive nature of the Song and rumors of other gifted individuals lead her to doubt her role. Unleashing the spring could defeat the Takhran once and for all, but can she truly be the Songkeeper when the Song no longer answers her call?


Monday, March 13, 2017

Unblemished- Sara Ella

My Rating: 3.5 Stars

Description: Eliyana has always recoiled from her own reflection in the mirror. But what if that were only one Reflection—one world? What if another world existed where her blemish could become her strength?

Eliyana is used to the shadows. With a hideous birthmark covering half her face, she just hopes to graduate high school unscathed. That is, until Joshua hops a fence and changes her perspective. No one, aside from her mother, has ever treated her as normal. Maybe even beautiful. Because of Joshua, Eliyana finally begins to believe she could be loved.

But one night her mother doesn’t come home, and that’s when everything gets weird.

Now Joshua is her new, and rather reluctant, legal Guardian. Add a hooded stalker and a Central Park battle to the mix and you’ve gone from weird to otherworldly.

Eliyana soon finds herself in a world much larger and more complicated than she’s ever known. A world enslaved by a powerful and vile man. And Eliyana holds the answer to defeating him. How can an ordinary girl, a blemished girl, become a savior when she can’t even save herself?


My Thoughts: This book turned out to be some what of a guilty pleasure. Many of its elements were things that normally make me cringe, yet I somehow still liked it. I don't know that I can pinpoint why, but Eliyana's struggle captured my attention and held it throughout, refusing to let me go even through the end.

I'm not a fan of shapeshifters or strange and convoluted names for things in a story such as the Kiss of Accord or the verity and the void. I don't like when tension is built through secondary characters refusing to answer straight forward questions. And love triangles are a sure way to make me roll my eyes... and believe me when I say that I most definitely did that while reading this.

Yet there is a complexity to the conflict in Unblemished that drew me in and left me needing answers. Though I don't so much care for the story world, I did end up caring about the characters and the questions surrounding the verity and the void. I'd rather not give away anything, so I wont mention names, but the connection between the individuals in this story's love triangle is one that I am excited to see explored and I plan to pick up at least the next book in the series just so I can see where that goes.

I have provided an honest review after having received this book through the Fiction Guild.

Monday, March 6, 2017

The Wedding Shop- Rachel Hauck

My Rating: 3 Stars

Description: It’s the early 1930s, but Cora Scott is walking in stride as a career woman after having inherited her great aunt’s wedding shop in Heart’s Bend, Tennessee, where brides come from as far away as Birmingham to experience her famed bridal treatment. Meanwhile, Cora is counting down the days until her own true love returns from the river to make her his bride. But days turn into months and months to years. All the while, Birch Good continues to woo Cora and try to show her that while he is solid and dependable, he can sweep her off her feet.

More than eighty years later, former Air Force Captain Haley Morgan has returned home to Heart’s Bend after finishing her commitment to military service. After the devastating death of her best friend, Tammy, and discovering the truth about the man she loved, Haley is searching for her place in life.

When Haley decides to reopen the romantic but abandoned wedding shop where she and Tammy played and dreamed as children, she begins a journey of courage, mystery, and love.

As Cora’s and Haley’s stories intertwine through time in the shadow of the beloved wedding shop, they both discover the power of their own dreams and the magic of everyday love.


My Thoughts: Once again I have found myself reading one of Hauck's books and I will say that I liked this one much better than the first in the series. The characters are far more likeable and the transition between time lines was not nearly as jarring. It helped that the two romances were completely separated by time instead of one leaping back and forth from childhood to adulthood and back.

I did not fully understand some of the character's reasoning. Haley's obsession with the wedding shop made little sense as she was hardly a romantic and had no experience with running a business or working sales. Cora also seemed rather naive and far more in love with the idea of passion than actually finding a steadfast love.

However, the tone and descriptions in this novel make some of the other flaws easy to overlook. The historical setting of the Great Depression was fantastic and Haley's unwavering loyalty to her newfound dream was admirable. I could have done without such a sappy point of commonality between the two romances, but I can genuinely see how someone more romantic at heart might fall in love with this story. It is one I might suggest to a friend.

I have provided an honest review after having received a copy of this book through the Fiction Guild.

Monday, February 27, 2017

The Silent Songbird- Melanie Dickerson

My Rating: 2 Stars

Description: Evangeline is gifted with a heavenly voice, but she is trapped in a sinister betrothal until she embarks on a daring escape and meets brave Westley le Wyse. Can he help her discover the freedom to sing again?

Desperate to flee a political marriage to her cousin King Richard II’s closest advisor, Lord Shiveley—a man twice her age with shadowy motives—Evangeline runs away and joins a small band of servants journeying back to Glynval, their home village.

Pretending to be mute, she gets to know Westley le Wyse, their handsome young leader, who is intrigued by the beautiful servant girl. But when the truth comes out, it may shatter any hope that love could grow between them.

More than Evangeline’s future is at stake as she finds herself entangled in a web of intrigue that threatens England’s monarchy. Should she give herself up to protect the only person who cares about her? If she does, who will save the king from a plot to steal his throne?

My Thoughts: Melanie's latest novels have been hit or miss for me. I loved The Beautiful Pretender and The Golden Braid, but this one felt overly forced and simplistic. I couldn't relate to the characters and though I finished it, I didn't at any point really enjoy it. From the first, Evangeline was a Mary Sue with her only "issue" being that she believed herself to be too selfish. Yet this never seemed to affect the way she behaved or the decisions that she made.

The villains of this story were also fairly lackluster. Evangeline's evil betrothed is something we have already seen in Melanie's other books and the other villains felt as though they were evil for evil's sake. The only character with much depth seemed to be the friend Nicola, who stood up for Evangeline as well as forgave her deception.

I might suggest this for younger teens, or even preteens. There is enough conflict and romance to entertain children in those age groups, while also containing only a couple kisses and little so far as described violence. I myself just could not get into it.

I have provided an honest review after having received this book through the Fiction Guild.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Slender Reeds: Jochebed's Hope- Texie Susan Gregory

My Rating: 3.5 Stars

Description: Trapped beneath 400 years of Egypt’s injustices, the Hebrew people await deliverance from generations of Egyptian slavery. But while it is still dark, God is at work. Young Jochebed is unaware the Master Weaver is preparing her to mother three formidable leaders: Miriam, Aaron, and Moses. Shiphrah, the half-Egyptian midwife tasked to kill Hebrew male newborns, remembers childhood stories of a merciful God and cannot resist His call on her life.

Two women, each following the dangerous path God has set before them—this is their story
.

My Thoughts: When I first picked this up, I expected it to be like most Biblical Fiction. That is, a main character's romantic story woven into a Biblical narrative. Slender Reeds is nothing like that.

In ways, this is good. It is far more realistic to the cultural setting and time period, where survival outweighs romance. The slavery of the Hebrews is also more realistic, with the characters' daily lives filled with pain and drudgery as they seek out a glimmer of God's hope. Hope is slender as a reed in this story, with arranged marriages, barrenness, and ever breaking friendships. This is not the story for someone looking for a light-hearted read.

On the other hand, Jochebed's lack of a romance leaves Pharaoh (you know, murderer of Hebrew children) with a far better love story. Amram is virtually ignored in this story of Moses' humble origins, which disappointed me as I would have loved to see how all of this affected him. Instead, friendship was the main relational conflict of the novel, one which unfortunately seemed to repeat the same pattern.

Gregory's depiction of Hebrew slavery is likely a very honest one. While the full extent of their suffering is not detailed in the Bible, it is none the less known that the people suffered greatly. However, there were things I think could have been written better and I wish Amram had played a larger role. I would keep that in mind when deciding whether or not to read this.

I have provided an honest review after I received an ecopy of this book through Netgalley.

Monday, February 13, 2017

A Royal Christmas Wedding- Rachel Hauck

My Rating: 4 Stars

Description: It’s been five years since Avery Truitt and Prince Colin of Brighton Kingdom fell in love. But he broke her heart with no explanation.

Fast forward to present day, and Colin is Brighton’s most eligible bachelor now that cousin Stephen has married. When Avery’s father dies of a heart attack, she puts her life on hold and returns home to St. Simons Island, Georgia, to help Mama with the family restaurant. But Mama misses Avery’s sister Susanna, who lives four thousand miles away in Brighton Kingdom—and is expecting her first child. So Mama insists she and Avery spend the Christmas season in Brighton.

Colin and Avery are going to see each other a lot while she’s visiting. But she can’t forget the way he hurt her, and he didn’t expect his feelings to still be so strong.

Avery is torn between considering a future in Brighton and taking a coaching job in Georgia, and Colin is finally pushed to pursue what he really wants. Is it too late to convince Avery that she is his true love? And even if he does, will she make it to the chapel on Christmas Day to give him her heart?


My Thoughts: I've never been a huge fan of Hauck's books, though I seem to continually end up with them on my review list. So A Royal Christmas Wedding was a pleasant surprise when I discovered that I actually enjoyed it. It is fairly short and sweet, a great read for anytime of year, and not just at Christmas.

Colin and Avery are incredibly mature about their past. While most novels dealing with characters who were once almost married usually devolve into petty arguments between the two, these characters managed to refrain. This made the story all the more enjoyable and made their relationship worth cheering for.

I might have rated it higher had there been a little more to the story. The length doesn't allow for any subplots or deeper issues. Yet I think the simplicity of the story compliments the joyful feel of Christmas and makes this a nice relaxing read for a normally hectic time of year. And with Valentine's Day coming around, maybe we could all use some simple romance.

I have provided an honest review after having received this book through The Fiction Guild.

Monday, February 6, 2017

The Mark of the King- Jocelyn Green

My Rating: 4.5 Stars

Description: After being imprisoned and branded for the death of her client, twenty-five-year-old midwife Julianne Chevalier trades her life sentence for exile to the fledgling 1720s French colony of Louisiana, where she hopes to be reunited with her brother, serving there as a soldier. To make the journey, though, women must be married, and Julianne is forced to wed a fellow convict. 

When they arrive in New Orleans, there is no news of Benjamin, Julianne's brother, and searching for answers proves dangerous. What is behind the mystery, and does military officer Marc-Paul Girard know more than he is letting on? 


With her dreams of a new life shattered, Julianne must find her way in this dangerous, rugged land, despite never being able to escape the king's mark on her shoulder that brands her a criminal beyond redemption.


My Thoughts: The Mark of the King is an incredibly well written book that grabs a hold of your attention and wont let go. Detailing the struggles underwent by the original colonists of New Orleans, the novel follows Julianne through a life of heartache as she learns that only God's opinion of her matters and only following his will is able to bring her joy. This message is woven into the history of the colonies, a time when faith was heavily regulated by the church.

Green's research into the time period is astounding, as she truly brings this colony to life. Though I already knew a few of the details she uses, other facts were completely new to me. I am always impressed when an author is able to impart so much history without beginning to read like a textbook.

My one complaint is that the conflict which arises toward the end was one that could have been avoided if the characters had not kept secrets from each other. Though their reasons are understandable, they also showed a lack of trust in the other. I would also like to warn that this is not an easy book to read. Some of the events portrayed are stomach churning and I would not recommend it for teenagers or those who dislike reading about some of the more horrifying aspects of history. That said, I will personally be looking for any upcoming works by this author.

I have provided an honest review after having received this book through Litfuse.

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Sherlock Meets Sherlock- Episode 3



Listings: Episode 1, Episode 2

Announcer: So you've decided to return? Well, we are certainly glad to have you here for our final installment of this season's Sherlock Meets Sherlock. Remember that if you have not seen the first two episodes, you can find them in the listings above. And if you would like to see this broadcast continue, please leave a comment for our producer.

As with the past two weeks, BBC's Sherlock Holmes and John Watson have found themselves in the flat of their Warner Brothers counterparts. The following is an experiment to see how they would react to each other.


(Summary: As the characters from each all have the same names, Warner Brothers' Sherlock Holmes and John Watson will be denoted by their last names, while the BBC characters will go by their first names. Watson and John have since completed their fistcuff from the last episode and now the characters discuss how this situation could have come to be and how to undo it.)

The Scene: They all sit in chairs, Sherlock and John on one side of the room while Holmes and Watson are on the other. Watson has his head tilted back and is pinching his nose while John rubs his neck.

Holmes: (Claps his hands to break the silence) Well, isn't this fun?

(Watson glares at him)

John: You call this fun?

Sherlock: Of course he does. He obviously gets off on this sort of thing.

Holmes: And you don't?

Sherlock: (With an air of superiority) Of course not.

(Watson snorts and then cringes)

Holmes: (Looks at Watson) I do say, you should try not to laugh.

Watson: Shut up.

Sherlock: This exchange is all together fascinating, but there are more pressing matters.

Holmes: Charges of breaking and entering for instance?

Sherlock: You know very well that's not what happened here.

Holmes: I know nothing of the sort. (Nudges Watson) Would you mind handing me my pipe?

Watson: Get it yourself.

Holmes: Rude.

Sherlock: (Groans) Would you please?

John: (Crosses his arms) Just ignore them, Sherlock. We don't need them to solve this.

Holmes: (To Watson) Why can't you be that supportive?

Watson: Because you're an idiot.

Sherlock: I need absolute silence. (Leans forward with his fingers at his temples)

Watson: (Leans forward as well) (To John) What is he doing?

John: (Whispers) It's his mind palace.

Holmes: Does it work?

Watson: (Yells) Are you kidding me?

Holmes: Perhaps I should try it.

Sherlock: Does no one understand the meaning of silence?  (Stands abruptly)

John: I have not said a thing.

Sherlock: You're still contributing to the problem. (Begins to pace)

Watson: Now what is he doing?

John: He's trying to find a solution to this mess.

Holmes: Why does he not simply reenact the actions which brought you here?

John: We don't know what actions brought us here. This isn't exactly normal.

Holmes: Really? I had assumed you did this everyday.

Watson: Oh, knock it off. No else finds this as giddily fascinating as you do.

Holmes: Perhaps that is the problem. (Stands as well, then turns dramatically to John) Why don't you tell me, in exact detail, how it is that you came to find yourself here?

John: Are you serious? (Points behind him to Sherlock) If he can't figure this out, what makes you think you can?

Watson: Because he's Sherlock Holmes. He believes he can do anything.

Holmes: That is incorrect.


Watson: Is it? (Watson and Holmes glare at each other)

Holmes: (Looks away first) It hardly matters. One can not discover the full extent of a puzzle without having encountered all the pieces. (To John) Now, please--



Sherlock: (Yells) Of course!

(Watson and John both stand. All look to Sherlock)

Holmes: What is it?

Sherlock: (Ignores Holmes) Come. (Grabs John's hand and tugs him across the room)

John: (Furious) Would you let go of me!

Sherlock: It is completely obvious.

(Watson and Holmes follow close behind)

Watson: What is?

Sherlock: (Spins about, now clutching John by the shoulder) It was right in front of us all along.

Holmes: Do not keep with this suspense. Tell me!

Sherlock: (Grins snarkily) Why, it's elementary.

(There is a thunderous boom and blinding flash. Watson and Holmes shield their eyes. Papers float around them as though recently thrown in the air. Watson opens his eyes first. John and Sherlock are gone)

Watson: Well, that's over with.

Holmes: (Looks as well) I can't believe they did that.

Watson: Did what?

Holmes: The man could have at least told us how he managed to do it.

Watson: (Angry) Are you actually serious?


Fades to black. THE END



Announcer: We hope you enjoyed this special. Remember that if you did not catch the last two episodes, you can find those above in the listings.

Monday, January 30, 2017

The Shattered Vigil- Patrick Carr

My Rating: 4 Stars

Description: Victory over the dark forces during the feast of Bas-solas should have guaranteed safety for the continent. Instead, Willet and the rest of the Vigil discover they've been outsmarted by those seeking to unleash the evil that inhabits the Darkwater. Jorgen, the member of the Vigil assigned to Frayel, has gone missing, and new attacks have struck at the six kingdoms' ability to defend themselves.
Just when the Vigil thought they had quenched the menace from their enemy in Collum, a new threat emerges: assassins hunting the Vigil, men and women who cannot be seen until it's too late. The orders of the church and the rulers of the kingdoms, fearing the loss of the Vigil's members altogether, have decided to take them into protective custody to safeguard their gift. On Pellin's orders, the Vigil scatters, leaving Willet to be taken prisoner by the church in Bunard. 


In the midst of this, Willet learns of the murder of an obscure nobleman's daughter by one of the unseen assassins. Now he must escape his imprisonment and brave the wrath of the church to find the killer in order to turn back this latest threat to the northern continent.


My Thoughts: Described as a Fantasy Mystery, The Shattered Vigil is a very complex novel with many threads that need to be followed in order to reach the end. The tone is dark and suspenseful, with few moments of mirth to lighten the impact of the plot. Those who pick up this series (and especially this second book) should be ready for an intense struggle against the darkness that lurks in the Darkwater.

Strangely enough, I enjoyed this book more than I did the first. While both are just as dark, The Shattered Vigil played out on a grander scale and offered more answers to how the Vigil functions (or barely functions). The urchins also have a more prominent role, offering some childlike hope to the otherwise bleak worldviews of the adults.

I'm not sure what to expect in the final book of the trilogy. So far it seems difficult to imagine a truly happy ending, though I do hope that Willet and the others find one. And that lack of faith in a happy ending is what ultimately leaves this book with less than a perfect rating. Because while Carr has woven an epic story and world, I would have preferred it if there had been a least one character whose worldview wasn't completely shattered.

I have provided an honest review after having received a copy of the book from the publisher.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Sherlock Meets Sherlock- Episode 2




Listings: Episode 1

Announcer: We so do hope that you enjoyed last weeks episode of Sherlock Meets Sherlock and are here now for episode two rather than having come upon this by accident. However, if you are joining us for the first time, you can find a link to the first episode in the listings above.

As with last week, BBC's Sherlock Holmes and John Watson have found themselves in the flat of Warner Brothers' Sherlock Holmes and John Watson. Let's watch and see how they react to each other.

 
(Summary: In this episode, the BBC Sherlock has begun to recognize the Warner Brothers' Sherlock as his doppelganger. As the characters from each all have the same names, Warner Brothers' Sherlock Holmes and John Watson will be denoted by their last names, while the BBC characters will go by their first names.)

The Scene: Holmes and Watson stand in the doorway to the back room while John and Sherlock stand in the middle of it.

John: (Angrily points at Holmes) You are not us.

Holmes: Well, of course not. Not exactly. 

Watson: They are not use at all. Have you lost your mind?

Holmes: Quiet possibly.

John: (To Sherlock) Sherlock, will you not say something?

Sherlock: I do believe he already covered it. (Finds a chair and brushes its contents onto the floor before sitting with a flourish of his coat) There's really not much more for me to say.

John: You mean to say that you are just going to sit there and let them impostor us?

Watson: (Points cane at John) Now see here.

(Holmes moves to stand beside Sherlock while Watson and John advance toward each other. Holmes and Sherlock watch on)

Holmes: I must say that I find this rather entertaining. 

Sherlock: Whatever do you mean?

(Both Sherlock and Holmes watch in silence for a moment)

Holmes: I believe this is the perfect opportunity for an experiment. What do you think we could do to them?

Sherlock: Do to them? (Sherlock turns to Holmes with a look of disgust) We are not going to do anything.

Holmes: Don't tell me that you're not even the tiniest bit curious as to what we can get them to fight over. (Holmes lifts a fire poker of the table next to him and stares at it as though he can not fathom what it is) You are me, after all.

Sherlock: I'm not that much like you.

Holmes: (Twirls the poker in the air like a baton) Do tell.

Sherlock: (Shakes down his sleeves and tilts his head) I see by the red of your eyes and the paler of your cheeks that you have been engaging in illegal substances for sometime now.

Holmes: Utterly fascinating. (Uses the fire poker as a staff) But you forget, I too can read you and I have already noticed the needle marks on your arms, though you have now covered them up. Meaning that you too have been... partaking.

Sherlock: That was for a case.

Holmes: Was it?

Sherlock: Yes.

(Sherlock and Holmes stare at each other for a moment. Watson and John are in the background, yelling at each other)

Sherlock: (Notices a picture of Irene Adler on the coffee table across from him, though he does not instantly recognize her. He smirks) Sentiment.

Holmes: Excuse me?

Sherlock: Who is she? The woman that you love? I must say that I am shock--

Holmes: (Interrupts) Who said anything about love?

Sherlock: (Motions to the room) You did. In every way other than words.


Holmes: (Sniffs rather loudly) (To Watson) Watson, are you rather done yet?

(In the time that Sherlock and Holmes interrogated each other, John has given Watson a bloody nose and Watson has gotten John in a headlock)

Watson: (Grabs a nearby plate, covered in Holmes' last forgotten meal which now spills across the floor, and bashes it against John's head) Just a moment more.

Holmes: Take your time.


Scene Break: Fades to black. 


 
Announcer: Come back next week for this season's final installment of Sherlock Meets Sherlock.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Of Moose and Men: Lost and Found in Alaska- Torry Martin and Doug Peterson

My Rating: 5 Stars

Description: Torry Martin—a comedian, actor, and hippie—fled from California to the wilderness of Alaska, searching for answers to life's big questions. He found what he was looking for...and a lot more!

A moose got its head stuck in Torry's window. A reindeer was trapped in his kitchen. A bear almost prevented him from reaching his airplane. He once woke up frozen to his cabin floor.

Like the Israelites of old, Torry experienced plenty of miracles and mishaps in the wilderness. And like them, he came face-to-face with God and was changed forever.

Each of these true stories of Torry's hilarious blunders and misfortunes contains a nugget of truth, but one theme prevails: If God can reclaim and repurpose Torry Martin's life, He can do the same for you and those you love.

 

My Thoughts: A couple years ago, I was able to hear Torry Martin speak at a conference and I remember his lesson being one of my favorites that year. He was funny and his advice was practical. So when I saw this book up for review, I knew instantly that I wanted to read it. And am I ever glad that I did.

Of Moose and Men is a hilarious read. Torry's sense of humor shines through in every story that he tells, and I flipped through the pages faster than I would have imagined. Yet each chapter ends with a serious moment, where Torry explains just why he told that story and the lesson that he learned from it. The scriptures and insights he gives are powerful, and the simplicity of the moments God used in his life truly spoke to me.

There is a lot to think about with this book: what things we deem important or else take for granted, and how we interact with God in our everyday lives. I appreciate Torry's honesty as well as his wit when telling of his past, even though there were some moments that made me cringe. I highly recommend this, even for those who don't normally read non-fiction, as Torry Martin's (and Doug Peterson's) way of writing is easy to follow and very relatable.

I have provided an honest review after having received a copy of this book through the Book Fun Network.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Sherlock Meets Sherlock- Episode 1




Announcer: Today, for your viewing pleasure, we have a new series entitled, Sherlock Meets Sherlock, in which the characters of your favorite Sherlock Holmes retellings get to meet. Let's watch and see how they react to each other.

(Summary: In this episode, the BBC Sherlock meets the Warner Brothers' Sherlock. As the characters from each all have the same names, Warner Brothers' Sherlock Holmes and John Watson will be denoted by their last names, while the BBC characters will go by their first names.)

The Scene: Back in Holmes' flat, Watson reads the paper in the chair by the window while Holmes lays on the floor, softly playing his violin.

Watson: Could you please stop doing that?

Holmes: (Runs the bow over the strings, creating a screeching noise). Whatever for? I find it quite relaxing.

Watson: You're giving me a headache.

Holmes: Perhaps you need your ears checked.



(Watson opens his mouth to speak, but at that moment, there is a bright flash in the back room and a crash accompanying.)

Sherlock: (Muffled yell from the back room)

John: (Muffled chiding from the back room)

Holmes: (Sitting up on his elbows) I say. (Looks at Watson) I believe we have visitors.


Watson: (Stares at Holmes and then drops the paper as he shoves to his feet) You would take an intruder lightly.

Holmes: Yes, I should like to study their behavior. Can you give them a moment so I can see what they try to take first?

Watson: (Limps across the room on his cane) Not today Sherlock.


Scene break: The lights dim and the set is changed to the back room. There are papers, as well as other odds and ends, scattered about from where Holmes left them last, yet some bits are now smoldering. Sherlock and John stand in the middle of the room.

John: Sherlock, what have you done?

Sherlock: Me?

John: Yes, you. (Angrily favors his war wound) I told you-- I told you not to touch it.

Sherlock: No you didn't.

John: Yes, I did!

Sherlock: (Begins to look around) Oh, don't be dramatic.

John: I am not-- (The door opens, cutting him off)

(Both John and Sherlock turn to the door. Watson stands there, his expression slightly miffed)

Watson: And what do you think you're doing?

Sherlock: (Squints, noticing the bum leg and military bearing) Who are you?

Watson: That's hardly the question to ask when invading someone's home, now is it?

John: We did not invade--

Sherlock: Don't bother to explain, John. It's not like he'll believe you.

Holmes: (Peeks head into room) Did you hear that, Watson? Our burglar has the same name as you.

John: Is this some kind of joke? (Looks at Sherlock) Tell me you're not playing another prank.

Sherlock: I do not play pranks. (Tilts his head to study the room. There is calculation in his expression) And certainly none so clever as this.

Watson: (To Holmes) Do you know what they're talking about?

Holmes: I have no idea. (Moves past Watson to study Sherlock) (To Sherlock) Have we met?

Sherlock: We certainly have not. However, I would like to know just how you were able to pull this off. (Steps forward) It is very clever.

Holmes: (Starts to circle Sherlock) It is, isn't it?

Watson: What is?

John: (To Watson) Oh, please. John? Watson? Don't pretend you don't know.

Watson: I don't know. (Shuffles to the side, looking out of the room) This is ridiculous. I'm going to have Mrs. Hudson call for the Yard.

John: Mrs. Hudson!

Sherlock: (Still studying Holmes) Do be quiet, John.

John: (Getting really angry) I will not. They have brought Mrs. Hudson into this and I will have answers.

Watson: Holmes!

Holmes: (Has stopped circling and now stands beside Watson) This is astonishing.

Watson: Would you just spit it out?

Holmes: (Turns to Watson and then to John) It would appear that they are us.

Watson: (Rolls eyes) You have got to be kidding me.



Scene Break: Fades to Black



Announcer: We do hope you enjoyed this installment of Sherlock meets Sherlock. Return next week for the newest episode, where the characters try to understand how there can be two of them.