Sunday, January 31, 2016

Merchant of Alyss (Legends of the Realm #2) by Thomas Locke

Title: Merchant of Alyss (Legends of the Realm #2)
Author: Thomas Locke (pseudonym for David Bunn)
Pages: 384
Release Date: January 5, 2016
Genre: Fantasy
Publisher: Revell
Format: eBook (also available in paperback)
Note: I received a free eBook copy of this novel from the publisher in exchange for my honest opinion.

About the book:

     Life for Hyam is bittersweet. Admired by the citizens of Falmouth for his heroic rescue mission, he cherishes these peaceful days with Joelle by his side. Yet grief over the loss of his magical skills during the great Battle of Emporis threatens to engulf him. Sometimes he even wishes he had never known magic at all.

     When Hyam comes into possession of an ancient Milantian scroll, he is thrilled to feel the surge of power that courses through him whenever he touches it. But what he discerns in the text could mean war. He embarks upon another journey to determine its true meaning and forestall any attack. But as Hyam is seeking answers, he is unaware that the merchant of Alyss is seeking him . . .

My review:

     Another fantastic good versus evil fantasy novel!

     This is part of a “true” series. You have to read book one before you start this novel or major parts of the story won’t make sense to you.

     Hyam and Joelle are back along with a number of their friends from the first book. There have been some changes in each of these characters and I enjoyed seeing how they have moved on. They again band together for this new quest. They also have new friends and allies join them as a new evil makes its presence felt.

     The story telling is wonderful and the fantasy land is described in great detail. I thoroughly enjoyed the development of the different races and their histories as they are gradually revealed.

     I certainly hope that this is not the last book about this incredible realm from the author’s imagination. As with the first book in this series I am giving this one a rating of 5 stars and highly recommending it.

Thin Ice (Men of Valor #2) by Irene Hannon

Title: Thin Ice (Men of Valor #2)
Author: Irene Hannon
Pages: 400
Release Date: January 5, 2016
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Publisher: Revell
Format: Paperback (also available in eBook)
Note: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest opinion.

About the book:

     If Ginny Reed is still alive – who is the woman buried in her grave?

     After losing her parents and her sister, Christy Reed has been mired in grief. Now, life is finally starting to feel normal again – until an envelope addressed in her sister’s handwriting arrives in the mail. And the note inside claims she is still alive.

     FBI Special Agent Lance McGregor, a former Delta Force operator, is assigned to reopen the case . . . but he’s coming up with more questions than answers. Is Christy a pawn in a twisted cat-and-mouse game – or the target of a sinister plot? As Lance digs deeper, one thing becomes clear: someone in the shadows has a deadly agenda.

     Bestselling author and three-time RITA Award winner Irene Hannon pulls out all the stops in this high-stakes thriller that races to a bone-chilling finish.

My review:

     This is an incredible romantic suspense novel!

     This is part of a “true” series. You should read the first book in the series before reading this one.

     Before I had even gotten halfway through the prologue my heart was pounding and I was hooked and knew that I would be finishing the book as quickly as I could. The writing style is very compelling and the characters are masterfully developed. This includes both those on the good side that need protection and those on the evil side.

     Christy Reed and Lance McGregor are dealing with loss from the past. They are processing things in very different manners but both are moving on with their lives. I was rooting for each of them as well as hoping to see a relationship develop between them from early on. They are definitely likeable characters.

     I was amazed at the detail that was put into developing the evil mastermind. It was incredible to see just how twisted someone’s mind can become by things that happen in their past.

     After the dramatic, attention grabbing prologue we jump in time and have a slow introduction into the actual mystery in the story. From that point on the suspense and the romance both build. Thankfully Irene gives us breaks in the suspense to catch our breath.

     This wonderful novel definitely is getting a 5 star rating from me and I am highly recommending it.

     Here is the link for my review of book #1 of this series, Buried Secrets:

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Finding Love in Sun Valley, Idaho (Resort to Love #1) by Angela Ruth Strong

Title: Finding Love in Sun Valley, Idaho (Resort to Love #1)
Author: Angela Ruth Strong
Pages: 254
Release Date: February 1, 2016
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Publisher: Mountain Brook INK
Format: eBook (also available in paperback)
Note: I received a free eBook copy of this novel from the publisher in exchange for my honest opinion.

About the book:

     Actress Emily Van Arsdale has returned to her Idaho hometown – with an entire film crew in tow! With its stunning scenery and reputation for hosting celebrities, Sun Valley is the perfect setting for Emily’s newest romantic comedy. Tracen Lake is happy to work as a stunt consultant for the movie but not as thrilled to deal with a bunch of high-maintenance Hollywood types. But Tracen is surprised to discover in Emily a down-to-earth Idaho girl who does all her own stunts and loves the outdoors. As filming wraps up and Emily heads off to her next gig, will she be able to leave Sun Valley – and Tracen – behind?

My review:

     This is a delightful contemporary romance!

     As soon as each of the main characters was introduced I was able to connect with them. Both Emily and Tracen have good friends that are to help them navigate changing current of their feelings and fears. I was able to understand both sides of the confusion that they were dealing with as they tried to sort out their friendship and relationship.

     The fact that both Emily and Tracen were believers was refreshing to me. I found their discussions about different stories from the bible to be fantastic. I especially liked the ongoing theme about water that flowed throughout the book. It was a wonderful connection to the fact that the setting was a resort right on the riverbank. I thoroughly enjoyed the descriptions of the river and the rafting that was being done.

     I am going to be anxiously waiting for the next book in this series. This story gets a 5 star rating from me. I’m highly recommending it.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Emissary (Legends of the Realm #1) by Thomas Locke

Title: Emissary (Legends of the Realm #1)
Author: Thomas Locke (pseudonym for David Bunn)
Pages: 384
Year: 2014
Genre: Fantasy
Publisher: Revell
Format: eBook (also available in paperback)

About the book:

     With his twenty-first birthday, Hyam begins a journey that will lead him to his destiny – or his doom.

     Hyam has always shown a remarkable ability to master language, even those left unspoken for a thousand years. But now that shadow of suspicion that was cast upon him as a child prodigy at Long Hall is lengthening, and he must keep his identity hidden – or face annihilation.

     As Hyam’s mother slips toward death, she implores him to return to Long Hall before he settles down to farm his land. This journey born from duty becomes an impassioned quest for the truth. War is coming swiftly, and Hyam must rely upon his newfound powers and the friends he meets along the way in order to unravel the puzzling past and ensure that he – and the realm – will have a future.

My review:

     An incredible good versus evil fantasy novel!

     Joelle and Hyam are misfits. They don’t know where they fit in or who their ancestors are. As such they are very confused and struggling to figure out where they belong and what they should be doing with their lives. They are very well written and their confusion is almost palpable. As bits and pieces are revealed more questions arise with the new information.

     I was drawn into the story from very early on. I wanted to find out what Hyam’s destiny was as well as his heritage. I couldn’t put the book down until the very end.

     I admit that I usually don’t care for magic or wizardry in my books. This book is very clearly a story of good versus evil and that is the only way that these aspects are included. This became very evident very early on in the story and I needed to see how it turned out.

     I am highly recommending this story and giving it a 5 star rating.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Hannah's Choice (Journey to Pleasant Prairie #1) by Jan Drexler

Title: Hannah’s Choice (Journey to Pleasant Prairie #1)
Author: Jan Drexler
Pages: 384
Release Date: January 12, 2016 (eBook), January 19, 2016 (paperback)
Genre: Historical Amish (1842)
Publisher: Revell
Format: eBook (also available in paperback)
Note: I received a free eBook copy of this novel from the publisher in exchange for my honest opinion.

About the book:

     Hannah Yoder loves her quiet life on the banks of the Conestoga Creek. In 1842, this corner of Lancaster County is settled and peaceful – yet problems lurk beneath the placid fa├žade. Hannah’s father worries about the spread of liberal ideas from their Mennonite and Brethren neighbors. And Hannah blames herself for a tragedy that struck their home nine years ago. She strives to be the one person who can bind the threads of her family together in spite of her mother’s ongoing depression and her sister’s rejection of their family. But her world is threatening to unravel.

     When two young men seek her hand in marriage – one offering the home she craves and the other promising the adventure of following God’s call west – Hannah must make a choice. Faithfully perform her duties to her family? Or defy her father and abandon her community?

My review:

     This is a wonderful historical Amish novel!

     The characters are so well developed that by the end of the book I felt like I knew them as well as I do my own family members. This is not just a couple of main characters but quite of few of them.

     Hannah and her family have faced horrible tragedy in the past. Each of them seems to have handled it differently. Some of them are stuck in the heartache at the beginning of the book. I thoroughly enjoyed seeing how those that had already been able to move on were able to help the others.

     Hannah wasn’t the only one in the story that had a decision to make. Many of the characters did. The discussions between them were fantastic as they tried to figure out what God wanted them to do with their lives. This was an incredible example of how we should work through tough decisions together. I found this especially true in the context of married couples and family growth and development.

     I was fascinated by the look into how the Amish people were different from the others in the area prior to the existence of electricity. Jan Drexler also included a wonderful description of the weaving process. This is something I have never known anything about.

     I am looking forward to the next book in this series. The hard part for me is going to be waiting for the author to get it written. I’m highly recommending this incredible novel and giving it a 5 star rating.

Friday, January 15, 2016

The Captive (Legends of the Realm #0.5) by Thomas Locke

Title: The Captive (Legends of the Realm #0.5)
Author: Thomas Locke (pseudonym for Davis Bunn)
Pages: about 30
Year: 2014
Genre: Fantasy
Publisher: Revell
Format: eBook (the only way it is available)

About the book:

     The only remnant of Joelle’s former life is her name. The only hint of her future is a foreboding vision of darkness. And her only hope is a man she has yet to meet.

     One of the last of a disappearing race, Joelle spends her days as a prisoner of the Long Hall, sweeping corridors and dusting scrolls while young wizards learn to ply their trade. In the dark of night, she practices the magical arts that are forbidden to one of her kind, hoping to soon break the spell that holds her captive.

     But an evil is growing beyond the enchanted stone walls. Joelle will need much more than her own skills to escape it. Someone is coming for her. And when he arrives, he will change everything.

     This short eBook excerpted from Emissary gives you a magical glimpse into the Realm – and the heroes who will stop at nothing to save it.

My review:

     This is an intriguing start to a new fantasy series.

     This is an introductory short story for the Legends of the Realm series. As such it does a marvelous job of setting up the type of fantasy land the series takes place in. I don’t read a lot of fantasy novels but this has already caught my interest and I will be reading more in the series.

     I was captivated by the story of how Joelle ended up being a prisoner of the Long Hall. I am really hoping that we learn more about her past in the first full book of the series. I was also very interested in the character of Trace and how he became her friend.

     I was a little uncomfortable with the use of magic in it. But I know who the author is and I am willing to read a little more to see if it turns into a true “Good versus Evil” story. If that is the case I will definitely give the series more leeway in this area.

     I have decided to give this story a 5 star rating and recommend it. I will be reading book 1 in the series in a few days and I will be reviewing it here on my blog when I do.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

The Red Siren (Charles Towne Belles #1) by MaryLu Tyndall

Title: The Red Siren (Charles Towne Belles #1)
Author: MaryLu Tyndall
Pages: 321
Year: 2009
Genre: Historical Romance (early 18th century)
Publisher: Barbour Publishing (Re-released in 2015 by Ransom Press)
Format: eBook (also available in paperback)

About the book:

     Worlds collide when a lady pirate meets a godly naval captain.

     Faith Westcott abandoned her shallow faith when a series of tragedies struck her family. To save herself and her sisters from forced marriages, this fiery, born-to-the-manor redhead is a lady by day and a pirate by night. How long can she maintain this dual identity before she’s caught red-handed?

     God-fearing Dajon Waite, who scours the Carolina coast, expunging it of pirates, is a more-than-capable captain in the British Royal Navy. But when he is asked to take on the guardianship of Faith and her sisters, he’s headed for deep water. Having vowed to avoid women, what will he do when he finds himself falling for Faith?

     Sir Wilhelm Carteret has always gotten everything he desired, but Faith seems to be unaffected by his charms. When he devises a plot to rid himself of his competition, more than Captain Waite’s reputation is at stake as alarming secrets are revealed.

     Will Faith regain her trust in God only to find herself headed for the gallows? Will Dajon scuttle his good name – and neck – to save her?

My review:

     This is an incredible historical romance!

     I quickly became caught up in the story of heartaches that Faith and her sisters had been through. I understood her desire to provide a safe place for all of them where they would be provided for. Faith had one major shortcoming though, just like most of us. She felt it was all up to her to take care of them. She was an incredibly strong and resourceful woman, especially given the fact that it is only 1718.

     As the book progresses we slowly learn about Dajon’s past and what has brought him to the Carolina coast. He has decided that the only way to redeem a past mistake is to be perfect at following all the rules of both God and man.

     I loved both of these characters and was captivated by their journey as they both learned about God and His grace and forgiveness. There were wonderful twists to the story and I wasn’t sure how things were going to work out until the very end.

     I am looking forward to reading the other books in this series. The way this book ends sets up the second book in the series perfectly. I believe that books 1-3 should probably be read in order because of this.

     I am highly recommending this wonderful book and giving it a rating of 5 stars.

Friday, January 1, 2016

Blue Ribbon Trail Ride (Horses and Friends #4) by Miralee Ferrell

Title: Blue Ribbon Trail Ride (Horses and Friends #4)
Author: Miralee Ferrell
Pages: 208
Release Date: January 1, 2016
Genre: Middle School
Publisher: David C. Cook
Format: eBook (also available in paperback)
Note: I received a free eBook copy of the book through NetGalley in exchange for my honest opinion.

About the book:

     Thirteen-year old Kate and her friends came up with the perfect way to raise money for her autistic younger brother and others to attend summer camp – a horse scavenger hunt! As local businesses donate money and prizes, Kate keeps the entry fees in her mom’s antique jewelry box.

     But when the box and the money disappear, Kate and her friends must unravel the clues, hold on to hope, and solve the mystery along the Blue Ribbon Trail Ride.

My review:

     What’s better than horses and mysteries?

     This is another fantastic book geared for middle school readers who love horses. There is also plenty of mystery and sleuthing. I found this book to be very reminiscent of Trixie Beldon which I read when I was growing up.

     I really liked seeing how Kate has matured over the course of these books. Lessons she learned in earlier ones came up again. This time though she quickly remembered them and acted accordingly.

     There is another newcomer to the core group of friends. I found him to be very amusing and yet a nice addition. Adding him gave Kate and her friends more room to grow and develop as they learned how to adjust to his quirks.

     I would love to see more books written about these wonderful characters. I have to give this marvelous story a rating of 5 stars. I am highly recommending it. In fact I’ve already purchased it for my granddaughter.