Monday, July 16, 2018

The Kremlin Conspiracy- Joel C. Rosenberg

My Rating: 3 Stars

Description: New York Times bestselling author Joel C. Rosenberg returns with a high-stakes political thriller set in Russia.

Everything he learned to protect the president, he must use to take out theirs.

With an American president distracted by growing tensions in North Korea and Iran, an ominous new threat is emerging in Moscow. A czar is rising in the Kremlin, a Russian president feverishly consolidating power, silencing his opposition, and plotting a brazen and lightning-fast military strike that could rupture the NATO alliance and bring Washington and Moscow to the brink of nuclear war. But in his blind spot is the former U.S. Secret Service agent, Marcus Ryker, trained to protect but ready to kill to save his country.


My Thoughts: Political thrillers are not my typical read, though I do like to pick them up from time to time for a change of pace. And usually, Rosenberg's novels are a good fit. I had read and really enjoyed The First Hostage, fully engaged with the action and suspense that was unfolding. The down side of that novel for me had been the main character, who was not as engaging as the rest of the story. And my critique this novel is much the same.

Both Marcus Ryker and Oleg Kraskin play leading roles in the book, taking most of the page space. They are nearly identical men, around the same age with similar families and life choices, which even the book points out. As with the character from The First Hostage, I did not feel any real connection with either character, particularly Marcus who is consistently emotionally detached from every action he makes other than the marriage to his wife. And, as with the other novel I mentioned above, this would have been a small issue if not for the fact that the story is largely structured around tracking these men from the catalyst of their careers onward.

The novel takes a long time to get into the actual thriller part of the story. The initial chapters are interesting, with the presumed terrorist attacks in Russia, but then quickly lose traction with years of  the two main characters' family lives and Russia's summarized political negotiations. There were moments that were interesting, normally involving explosions, but over all I felt like I was waiting for the story to start. Still, the story does pick up with Oleg finally stepping into the Russian president's full confidence and both main characters eventually meeting each other. It just took so long to get there.

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

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Spice Bringer Cover Reveal!

Today is the cover reveal for Spice Bringer!! Check out all the information below as well as the links for preorder.



A deadly disease. A vanishing remedy. A breathless journey.

All her life, Niya's known she will die young from the fatal rasp. She survives only with the aid of vitrisar spice and a magical, curmudgeonly fire salamander named Alk. Then an ambitious princess burns down the vitrisar grove in an effort to steal Alk so she can claim her rightful throne. Joined by Jayesh, a disgraced monk, Niya and Alk must flee to the faraway Hidden Temple with the last vitrisar plant, or all who suffer from the rasp will perish.

But even as Niya’s frustration and banter with Jayesh deepen to affection, the rasp is stealing away her breath and life.

For a girl with limited time and a crippling quest, love may be more painful than death. 









Author Bio:

Born in a small town in north central Oregon, H. L. Burke spent most of her childhood around trees and farm animals and was always accompanied by a book. Growing up with epic heroes from Middle Earth and Narnia keeping her company, she also became an incurable romantic.

An addictive personality, she jumped from one fandom to another, being at times completely obsessed with various books, movies, or television series (Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, and Star Trek all took their turns), but she has grown to be what she considers a well-rounded connoisseur of geek culture.

Married to her high school crush who is now a US Marine, she has moved multiple times in her adult life but believes that home is wherever her husband, two daughters, and pets are.


Social Media Links





Preorder Links:

Barnes & Noble Nook:

Uncommon Universes Press – autographed paperback preorder: https://uncommonuniverses.com/product/spicebringer-autographed-paperback-preorder/

Regularly 17.99, autographed paperback preorders are 14.99 with free shipping discount (free shipping to US locations only)

Monday, July 9, 2018

King's War- Jill Williamson

My Rating: 4 Stars

Description: One battle is over, but the war has just begun. They escaped the Five Realms and have found a home, but peace is much harder to find. The aftermath of the Battle of Sarikar should have been a time to mourn those lost in the slaughter. The enemies of Armania are many, however, and when one steps back to regroup, another surges forward in attack.

While the remnant must take responsibility for the evil they brought to Er'Rets, it would seem that something just as dark already existed in this new world. The growing struggle between Armania and Barthel Rogedoth is but a pale reflection of a far more dangerous battle for the souls of humanity.

And so begins this awe-inspiring conclusion to Jill Williamson's Kinsman Chronicles. The Hadar family and their allies prepare to make one final stand in the name of Arman. There shall be war--in Er'Rets and in the Veil--to vanquish evil or be ruled by darkness.


My Thoughts: One thing I always wondered after reading From Darkness Won was how well Achan' people responded to his rule after his coronation, due to his youth and his not having been raised as a prince. King's War goes into this with Trevn, though this young Sâr has a greater uphill battle to wage for his people's loyalty, especially since so few trust and serve the will of Arman. But he also has to overcome his own unpreparedness and the newness of blood voicing magic, something Achan's people had a lot of experience with by the time his story came about.

The number of POV characters this time around was a little bit of an issue for me. Some of my favorite characters, like Sir Kalenek and Hinck, did not appear as often as I would have liked them too, while characters like Qoatch had more page time than I would have liked. But, that seems to be the way of epic fantasy, and I don't begrudge the depth of narrative achieved through some of my least favorite characters.

I am so happy that Jill dove into the history of Armania and the origin of its magic system. Though I'm not fully convinced that every connection between the two series was made as well as I had hoped, I am still pleased with the depth of history and world building (And kind of hoping now for a trilogy that would even predate this one, going into the history of how Armania fell away from worship of Arman alone and how the five realms came to be). This series will never trump that of the Blood of Kings, but it is a good read of its own and one that I am glad to have added to my shelves.

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




Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Ilyon Chronicles Cover(s) Reveal!

Happy Fourth of July!!!


But seriously, today's post is not about our American holiday (as I am sure you have gathered from the post's title), it is the cover reveal day for Jaye L. Knight's upcoming novel, Bitter Winter, and novella, Lacy. And the covers just so happen to be in the appropriate color scheme! I don't know if you guys can tell, but I am super excited for this!!!


 
Already struggling with a harsh winter and the threat of food shortage, a catastrophic event leaves those in the Landale camps reeling. Just when things couldn’t get much worse, camp members fall ill with the same devastating sickness that’s sweeping across the country.

Determined to gain the cure, Jace sets off to Valcré. However, there are only two sources—the queen, or a powerful gang of smugglers who have made the dangerous city their home. When Jace gains audience with the gang leader, he finds the price of the cure is steeper than any of them imagined, forcing him to make an impossible choice—betray his conscience or let those he loves die.





The last thing Aaron ever envisioned was falling for a prostitute. Everything about it spells trouble. However, he can’t help noticing the way her smile lights up when she sees him and how much brokenness she hides behind it. Neither can he ignore how desperately she needs rescue and protection.
When Lacy shares a life or death secret with him, Aaron is willing to risk everything to help her and to show her Elôm’s love. Yet, such a choice could destroy his reputation and maybe even cost him his freedom.
 

Monday, July 2, 2018

100 Bible Stories for Children- Review

My Rating: 3.5 Stars

Description: The stories children hear when they are young help form their minds and hearts. Instill a deep love for the Bible in your children with this richly illustrated storybook. Using beautiful traditional art and easy-to-understand language, 100 Bible Stories for Children teaches some of the best-loved stories from the Bible to ages 5-8. The illustrations will captivate your children as you read with them at bedtime or in Sunday School, and independent readers will return again and again to learn the stories of the heroes of the faith. You and your family will treasure this classic collection of Bible stories.

My Thoughts: Working in children's ministry means that it is always a good idea to have a children's Bible or Bible storybook on hand. So when I review these, I always take into account how different age groups will react to both the images and the text. So far as text goes, this one is pretty good. The stories are short, one to two pages so that they don't take long to get through. The lessons drawn from each story also correlate well to the way the stories would be told in Sunday school, making this book useful for parents who want to review lessons with their kids at home.

However, I am not as thrilled about the images. While there are a number of illustrations which are engaging and bright, most of these pictures appear twice, with one of the duel occurrences simply being an enlargement of part of the initial image which appeared on the previous page. With five year olds, this is not a problem. At that age, they are unlikely to notice that the pictures are the same illustrations, and if they do, they will think it a game to try and spot the similarities. Yet this book is advertised for 5-8 year olds, the later of which I think would soon notice the repetitive nature of the book.

Another issue with the illustrations is how difficult it would be to use the pictures as recall tools for the children who can't read the stories themselves. While the scenes are all different, most of the people are drawn looking remarkably the same. With only one story in between them, Joseph and Moses are drawn exactly the same, with the exact same brightly colored, Egyptian outfit. Which is sad, because the larger images, when evaluated individually, are actually beautiful.

There are merits to this story book, and I would definitely keep it around as an extra for when kids simply want to read a different book with different pictures. However, I would think it better suited to ages 3-5 rather than 5-8.

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

Monday, June 25, 2018

Song of Leira- Review

 

I'm so excited to share this new release with you guys, today! Song of Leira is the third and final book in The Songkeeper Chronicles by Gillian Bronte Adams, an epic fantasy adventure about a place where music is magic and one girl's song can shape or break the entire world.

 

The Song bids her rise to battle.

Reeling from her disastrous foray into the Pit, Birdie, the young Songkeeper, retreats into the mountains. But in the war-torn north, kneeling on bloodstained battlefields to sing the souls of the dying to rest, her resolve to accept her calling is strengthened. Such evil cannot go unchallenged. Torn between oaths to protect the Underground runners and to rescue his friend from the slave camps, Ky Huntyr enlists Birdie's aid. Their mission to free the captives unravels the horrifying thread connecting the legendary spring, Artair's sword, and the slave camps. But the Takhran's schemes are already in motion. Powerful singers have arisen to lead his army - singers who can shake the earth and master the sea - and monsters rampage across the land. As Leira falters on the verge of defeat, the Song bids her rise to battle, and the Songkeeper must answer.
Find Song of Leira online: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, CBD


 NEED TO CATCH UP ON THE SERIES?

Orphan's Song (Book 1) Her solo is a death sentence. When Birdie first hears the Song coming from her mouth, her world shatters. She is no longer simply an orphan but the last of a hunted people. Forced on the run, she must decide who to trust: a traveling peddler, a streetwise thief, or the mysterious creature who claims to know her past. With war threatening to tear her homeland apart, Birdie discovers an overwhelming truth: the fate of Leira may hinge on her song.
                          Songkeeper (Book 2) War ravages Leira & the Song has fallen silent. Desperate to end the fighting, Birdie embarks on a dangerous mission into enemy territory, while Ky returns to his besieged city to save the Underground runners. Legend speaks of a mythical spring beneath the Takhran's fortress and the Songkeeper who will one day unleash it. Everyone believes Birdie is the one. But can she truly be the Songkeeper when the Song no longer answers her call?


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Gillian Bronte Adams is a sword-wielding, horse-riding, wander-loving fantasy author, rarely found without a coffee in hand and rumored to pack books before clothes when she hits the road. Working in youth ministry left her with a passion for journeying alongside children and teens. (It also enhanced her love of coffee.) Now, she writes novels that follow outcast characters down broken roads, through epic battles, and onward to adventure. And at the end of a long day of typing, she can be found saddling her wild thing and riding off into the sunset, seeking adventures of her own (and more coffee). She loves to connect with fellow readers and wanderers online through her blog, Facebook page, newsletter, and Instagram



Review

After the dark, gruesome ending of Songkeeper, I was not sure where Song of Leira would pick up. While the cover speaks of victory, the ending of the last book was so disheartened that I did not know what to hope for in this. From the beginning it seems that the characters feel the discouragement of the last book as well. Most of them are defeated and broken, unsure of how to go on.

Honestly, I was not a fan of those first few chapters. The characters wallowed for some time and, though I recognized that they had all lost much, I am used to characters who spring back with far more determination than these did. Ky, my favorite character from the last book, was particularly frustrating in that he seemed unable to put his foot down in regards to the Underground. He was unprepared for sudden leadership, unwilling to fight for it despite being unwilling to relinquish it. Though, in that regard, it was probably his challenger who bothered me more, insisting on taking over but then never going through with it.

However, somewhere around the hundred page mark, the characters changed. Finally, they picked themselves out of their fear and self pity, taking strides to learn from mistakes and forage on where there was no blazed trail. Neither Birdie or Ky knew where they were going, but they still pulled through and took up the roles they were meant to play.

The Song Keeper Chronicles is not the fantasy I am used to. The characters are not as dogged, or as apt to unwittingly fulfilling their purpose. Everything is a learning moment or a else a decision come to after much wavering. Though frustrating for a take action sort of person like myself, it is also more honest and in that way more encouraging. Perhaps a reminder that no matter how much we drag our heels, God's will will still be served. Which made the end all the more victorious.

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