Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Downfall by Terri Blackstock

The Covington family finally begins to get some rest now that Emily approaches two years of sobriety. Living in Georgia, they are able to separate from the pains of their past. Or, so they think. Without warning, Lance discovers a crude bomb under his sister's car, as she is leaving for school. Emily can't think of a reason why anyone could want to kill her- she has severed all of her drug ties.

But when Emily learns that the wife of one of the recovering addicts at her job has been murdered the same morning, she knows it can be no coincidence. And then she remembers talk of a double murder at the rehab center. It seems to bizarre to be true, but yet, one of the victims that was spoke of was now dead. And Emily was the only witness to the conversation...

The final novel in the Intervention Series did not disappoint. Once again, I was at the edge of my seat the entire book. And again, the exposed reality of the drug world was great. This time, it was mostly about the stage of long term sobriety.

As much as I loved Downfall, finishing it was truly bittersweet. Though the Intervention Series was only three books, I truly loved the characters. Yes, they are book characters, but they are some of my favorites, and I feel like I said my final farewell. I suppose it is only fair, though. The Covington family has been through enough already! Plus, the ending was perfect and left me smiling.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

The 13th Tribe by Robert Liparulo

 (In The 13th Tribe) Back when Moses met God on Mt. Sinai, the people of Israel sinned and created a golden calf to worship. Thousands were killed, but 40 were dealt a much different card- the curse of immortality on earth. Over time, the seriousness of their curse settles in, and they will do anything to earn salvation. Eventually this group who dubs themselves the 13th tribe turns to killing sinners in the hope that they will please God enough to earn their salvation.

Jagger Baird has recently been in a horrifying and traumatic car accident. He lost his arm, his friends, and his love for God. In an attempt to start over, he and his family move into a monastery by Mt. Sinai. Being a security guard for an archeological dig, Jagger is on the lookout for anything suspicious. Unsuspecting, Jagger finds just that; and much, much more.

When I first saw the current cover of this book, I instantly pictured an epic clash of ancient Greek immortals with Einstein knowledge, therefore also possessing weaponry and technology a century before their time. And then my mind went wild with the idea, and basically by the time I started the book, it was like I had already seen the movie. Except... they were two completely different things.

I would like to address the whole immortality deal because in novels, immortality can mean several different things. These immortals are not "deity-grade" immortals. That is to say, they can still be injured. To give you an idea of the type of immortality they have, it would be somewhere above Middle Earth's elves, but below Homer's Achilles. Well, they would be below the Greek demigod Achilles if he hadn't died. Does that make sense? Swords don't fling off of them, no. But they are still ridiculously hard to kill.

So what was this book like? For my fantasy mindset, it was nothing like my mental movie. Yet, that does not mean it disappointing. The 13th Tribe is equal parts God/theology, suspense, and thriller. While some of the plot-turners I had seen coming early on, others were quite surprising. I loved the characters in this novel- they really grew on me by the end. As far as pacing and suspense? There are seldom few books that force me to flip through the pages as fast as this one did. The suspense got my heart beating so fast at one point that I actually set the book down and went for a jog to use up the energy! I got very immersed in the story. I'd also like to add that the theology in this book really got me thinking. Being able to see the world from the view of the immortals about the mortals, and then the mortals about the immortals was quite fascinating. Anticipating the next installment in The Immortal Files!

 I received a free copy of this book from Booksneeze, in exchange for my honest review. The opinions expressed here are my own.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Illusion by Frank Peretti

For 40 years, the magic act "Dane and Mandy" has been renowned. But all of that ends when Mandy's life is brutally ended. Or does it? Dane, mourning his wife, stumbles into who appears to be his wife, but 40 years younger. Could it really be her, or is he going insane?

Things get stranger when the Mandy look-alike displays masterful magical skills. Stunts Dane can't even begin to imagine how they are executed- even with 40 years of experience! Squirming feelings rise up inside him as he doesn't know what to think. As the girl's powers increase, suspicious characters run surplus. Whatever this all may amount to, Dane knows that it amounts to much more than a mere illusion.

I've haven't read many Frank Peretti novels, but when I heard about his first novel in several years, I was quite intrigued. Then I read the description of the book and was instantly hooked. As soon as I started, I instantly blended with the characters. I realize I often point out how believable and formed characters are in a novel, but at least in my opinion, they can make-or-break your reading experience. And in the case of Illusion, despite the fact that many of the characters experience constant confusion and a persistent sense of deja vu, their character still shines through, and you cannot wait to reach the conclusion with them.

A word about the magic performances in this book; I wasn't quite sure how this would turn out in book form. Yet Frank Peretti managed to wow me with the stunts- mere written words! But they are so much more than that. I had such vivid mental images for every scene, and as such I was blown away. When my jaw drops while reading a novel, there is no doubt that it is a great one.

 I received a free copy of this book from Simon & Schuster, in exchange for my honest review. The opinions expressed here are my own.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

The Land Beyond the Portal by J.S. Bailey

Laura awakens at the bottom of a flight of stairs with amnesia. She cannot even remember her own name at first, but she does have a haunting, bloody memory associated by fierce guilt. But if that isn't enough to disrupt Laura's life, stumbling through a portal to an unknown land is.

Laura ends up in a secluded, timeless village. The village gives no clue as to where it is located on whatever world it may be on. But the village itself proves to be perplexing itself. The people mindlessly worship a strange, fierce deity without question. There are harsh rumors circulating, but no one will confess a word. And the lives of the populous are kept in line by the sheer force of fear.

Initially, I was unsure of what to expect from this book. What exactly is this land beyond the portal? What genre is this book? All I knew was that it caught my interest, as I am somewhat drawn to mysterious portal-type books (think The Song of Albion Trilogy or The Chronicles of Narnia). And I do not want to reveal a whole lot, because that is part of the wonder of the book- figuring everything out. As for what I will reveal, it is sort of a small-town-big-secret story. This probably instantly creates a mental response, aliens. Don't worry, it is not about aliens. In fact, I actually was greatly surprised as things became clear. I hardly guessed much of the story, and that is always a wonderful characteristic. Keep me surprised, and I'll keep reading. The characters were wonderful and easy to relate to, and the flow was spot-on. I could hardly put it down. Absolutely five stars. I am eagerly waiting for the next book by J.S. Bailey.

I received a free copy of this book from the author, in exchange for my honest review. The opinions expressed here are my own.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Diviner by Bryan Davis

Koren knows it will not be easy to sever her ties with Taushin. But even if she uses every bit of willpower within her, will that still not be enough?

Elyssa and Jason discover even more brutalities that the dragons inflict on humans. Does the suffering never end? Yet still, many of the slaves hardly want to be saved, thinking they are as free as possible.

Elyssa also discovers new aspects of her powerful gifts. She learns the secret after all these years as to what makes her a diviner.

After reading Third Starlighter, I was, thrilled to read the next chronological book in Bryan Davis' twin Starlight series. I was hoping that it would continue immediately, and all that would have changed was the cover. Well... not quite. The two series are a bit different than I before realized, mainly because of focusing on different characters, and the fact that each deals with a different half of the equation. Especially in the case of Third Starlighter and Diviner, it is almost humorous how you can mentally align events but somehow, the characters rarely meet. I really enjoy the full spectrum that provided.

Now for Diviner itself, as I stated before, I wanted to jump right in. As it turned out, for whatever reason, it actually took me a little while to get into this book. Not long, and I was completely hooked after, but the first few chapters failed to grab my attention. Another nice thing in this book is how we finally got to spend more time with some of the characters who were minor in the previous books, but had major roles in this one. And while I am sad that these series are coming to an end, nevertheless, I still cannot wait to read Liberator.

 I received a free copy of this book from Zondervan, in exchange for my honest review. The opinions expressed here are my own.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Waking Hours by Lis Wiehl

It begins with an old woman chanting in Latin and hosting unnatural strength. But things get more serious when a teenage girl is found brutally murdered. When all of the witnesses seemingly display amnesia, this is a tough case to crack. Old friends, Tommy Gunderson, former NFL player, and Dani Harris, forensic psychiatrist, must work together to solve this unusual case. But they can't help but wonder is this case might involve more than just humans.

Waking Hours took a little while for me to get truly into the story, but once I did, the novel was very suspenseful. My biggest complaint with this book was the characters. I didn't really connect with them like I do with characters from many other books. I also found the characters reactions and interactions quite predictable. However, even though I consider this to be a major flaw, I still loved the story line itself. It was the sheer force of suspense, intrigue, and mysterious supernatural happenings that made me enjoy this book.

This book did feature something that most crime novels are seriously lacking in: forensics. Amen! When reading some suspense novels you just have to ask (mentally), what about a fingerprint? Can't you test the blood to see whose it is? Footprints? Clothing? Well, this book meets the questions of the average cop-show-watcher. Another element of this novel that I enjoyed was the subtle but lingering supernatural eeriness.

I received a free copy of this book from Booksneeze, in exchange for my honest review. The opinions expressed here are my own.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

The Baker's Wife by Erin Healy

On the wing of a lie everything changed. Audrey's husband lost his job as a pastor, and her son, his college scholarship. Even through the hardships of being so ignorantly shunned, while much heavier, Audrey's love and focus remains the same. But though her life is strenuous enough, it all gets turned upside down when she hits a motorcycle with her car, leaving a pool of blood and no body...

Erin Healy wowed me yet again with her powerful style of storytelling that dives into the muck of the heart. Excellent believable characters. I almost felt genuinely sorry for most of them. The story flow was seamless, following a nicely paced trail of suspense and wisdom.

The theme of the book is greatly centered around pain, suffering, and perseverance. The novel held several surprises that I did not expect. And, as I had hoped, this book really got me thinking.

Now I do have to give something of a warning: this book will make you hungry! One of the main settings is indeed in a bakery, and oh! I had a few snacks along the way... I do owe Erin Healy a thanks, because you helped me discover the delicious rosemary potato bread. A wonderful novel, and except to pull out your bread maker!

 I received a free copy of this book from Booksneeze, in exchange for my honest review. The opinions expressed here are my own.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Third Starlighter by Bryan Davis

Adrian continues to search for Fredrick's slave refuge on Starlight. But while he hoped to find a home base to help the slaves escape, he found something entirely different. Between a murderer, rumors of the Bloodless circulating, and a child displaying wisdom years beyond her age, Adrian finds plenty to keep him busy.

Marcelle returns to Major Four separated from her mortal body and wearing a cloak of earth. As with Adrian, she runs into more than she gambled for. Being labeled as a sorceress, she finds it near impossible to convince the military to journey to Starlight.

In a word: wow. I absolutely loved this book and read it every chance I had. It contains that addictive quality that all of my favorite books have, but I can never quite seem to pin it. Third Starlighter dove right into the heart of the story, answering so many of my questions about the story. While it seemed Warrior explained everything, in actuality it only gave a piece of the story, and now I can appreciate the brilliance of having the two companion series. For this tale, it is symbiotic.

This novel also dealt heavily with the concepts of humility and building character. The story is written in a way that focuses on individual's experiences, but still provides a complete aspect with excellent pacing and description.

If you're looking for an engaging series, I would suggest you read both Tales of Starlight and Dragons of Starlight. You don't want to miss this series.

I received a free copy of this book from Living Ink Books, in exchange for my honest review. The opinions expressed here are my own.