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Saturday, May 6, 2017

Aries by Lara Giesbers

*I received a copy from the author in exchange for an honest review*


First Impression: Such a magical cover and intriguing premise about supernatural gifts bestowed on mankind by God.

Characters: Connected families, their relationships, and their enemies are all unfolded in a tale that evokes Downton Abbey crossed with the Salem Witch Trials. The characters are simple in nature, yet rich in spirit. I found myself wishing for a simpler time when people had convictions.

World Building: I imagined scrolling castle hills and markets of time gone by. I appreciate the character driven story line as the scene.

Writing Style: Giesbers writes with ease and wistful dialog. Bible verses are quoted throughout in character conversations, which is great for anyone interested in real world application of biblical passages.

What I Enjoyed: The heartbreaking tension between grief and joy was displayed with innocence throughout Aries. I adored the relationships and social commentary warnings hauntingly appropriate for today's climate.

Deal Benders: Although the characters were drawn in a simpler time, I would have like to see more depth. Sometimes it felt they were a little one-dimensional, even if each in their own dimension.

Overall Rating: 4 stars because I appreciate well-done historical fiction and whimsy.

For Fans Of: Downton Abbey, any historical or christian fiction.

The Tethering (Bound by Blood Book One) by Jeremy R. Strong

*I received a copy from the author in exchange for an honest review*


First Impression: I have run into some beautiful covers lately, and they really make me want to know more about the story inside.

Characters: Humanity has evolved and devolved sometime in the future. Mystical creatures with distinct and imaginative personalities are ready to meet the reader. I really rooted for Tiger and her brother, just as the reader should for main characters.

World Building: A dark world full of danger and despair pairs well with beautiful prose in this first novella installment.

Writing Style: I read this in a few sittings, which probably took a total of a few hours. The narrative and dialogue left me wanting more. Much of this book reads like a Shakespearean dream or a fable.

What I Enjoyed: Strong doesn't reveal everything, but gives enough clues for the reader to follow along on the journey. I could imagine the new world around me as I read about the flora and fauna of the future.

Deal Benders: Some details were confusing, but still enjoyable. I would like to know more about how humanity got to its present state, and what the heck are Watchers?

Overall Rating: 4 stars for a delightful adventure and excellent writing. (less)

Fatherland by Robert Harris

This book was recommended and given to me by a professor, very thoughtful grad present!


Fatherland is a departure in alternate history. What would happen if the Nazi regime wasn't defeated, and Hitler was allowed to reign supreme in Europe?

First Impression: Alternate history is always intriguing, as it makes us think about the outcome of choices.

Characters: March is the main protagonist, with a lifetime of bad decisions leading up to the ultimate question: What is loyalty, and does it override human decency? I found many of the other characters forgettable, which is perhaps the intent.

World Building: The world doesn't seem much changed in ways of thinking, but I enjoyed imagining a world where JFK wasn't assassinated and other such idiosyncrasies. Picturing the state of the world was not difficult if Germany had won the war.

Writing Style: Very straight-forward with a bit of mystery.

What I Enjoyed: The idea of uncovering Nazi secrets in an alternate world where they win was very intriguing. I'm so thankful, without spoilers, that they were defeated.

Deal Benders: I found myself wanting to know more about the alternate reality and how different things were. I struggled to stay focused on the mystery and intrigue because quite frankly I became bored.

Overall Rating: I liked it, so three stars seems appropriate. If the focus on world building was a bit more focused on the alternate reality, it could have been better.

For Fans Of: The Man in the High Castle

Rim War (Subversion Book One) by Kadin Seton

First Impresson: Beautiful cover, sci-fi space saga, yes please!


Characters: Millie is a believable heroine whose end-of-life gets turned upside down. I don't want to give away spoilers, so I'll just say she finds herself starting a new chapter with a crew of well imagined cohorts. Even the villains are intriguing. I would like to know more about the evil alien race terrorizing the galaxy.

World Building: Seton draws you into a futuristic time when Earth has discovered life outside our solar system, and it's every bit as wonderful and terrifying as we'd imagine. This is the hardest part to craft, and I was fully submersed - well done!

Writing Style: Straight-forward story-telling, worthy of anyone's shelves. All reading levels and walks of life will understand and rush through this first installment at light speed...then end up wanting more.

What I Enjoyed: Space tech, alien species, and artificial intelligence. I appreciated the way Seton crafts a believable future that delights the imagination.

Deal Benders: The main thing I didn't care for was the egregious sex scenes. I felt they were a bit too detailed for the average reader who doesn't necessarily like to mix their sci-fi with sensual stories. This is rated R for adults.

Overall Rating: Solid 4 stars for this first book, eagerly awaiting book two in the series!

For Fans Of: Firefly, Ender's Game

The X-Variant by Rosemary Cole

First Impresson: I really appreciate well-done covers, and this one is intriguing!



Characters: The future humanoids are advanced in some ways, and like children in others. They learn complex emotions from humans, and provide advanced technologies in return. I wanted to see more character development...to care about Kala and her team more.

World Building: Most of the story focuses on interaction and dialog. However, there are pieces mixed in of a believable old and new Earth. The symbionts' origin story and description are fascinating, almost as if they are separate characters in the story.

Writing Style: Cole has a honed ability using metaphor and imagery to paint a picture. This was the main feature that stood out to me, and I think it could be used to develop the characters and relationships a bit more.

What I Enjoyed: The dystopian, post-apocalyptic meets zombie survival story mixed with enough science to be plausible if yet fiction. The symbiotic host factor was interesting...I would have like to know more about where Kala's came from, but I suspect that is reserved for the second installment.

Deal Benders: I didn't care about the characters, so I give this book a solid three stars. Hopefully as the story progresses we will get to know them better. I also found myself with more questions than answers.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Forever Friday by Timothy Lewis

Forever Friday by Timothy Lewis starts out slow, but builds to a beautiful crescendo of love. Albeit sometimes predictable, this heartwarming tale will leave you satisfied. We as humans want to believe in love, and Lewis offers us that chance. Romance is not dead, at least not in the pages of this book.

Forever Friday

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

The Last Orphans by N.W. Harris

I received a copy from the author in exchange for an honest review.

First Impression: The Last Orphans is part of an apocalyptic series, which I'm a fan of - so this should be good!

Characters: Shane Tucker collects a team of survivors on the road to safe haven. He reads like an old soul who knows more than his years might suggest. Teenagers and little children band together against all kinds of danger in this world after the storm.

World Building: Author N.W. Harris creates a world you can fall into, especially for post-apocalyptic fans. The young teens race against time and nature in a nail-biting adventure across treacherous territory.

Writing Style: I appreciated the imagery painted as well as the descriptive action scenes.

What I Enjoyed: I could see The Last Orphans becoming a popular series, and then on into movies. This first installment reads that way. I also liked the way Harris handled the adult population dying off - it felt realistic even if fictitious.

Deal Benders: Shane and some of the kids are too good at survival for children who have never fended off anything more than the neighbor's dog. There's also a bit too much gore for a Teen series.

Overall Rating: I rate this as a Young Adult book with an L for Language, V for Violence. I would definitely read the next one.


For Fans Of: The Maze Runner, The Walking Dead