Monthly Archives: December 2011

Alienation by Jon S. Lewis

Alienation cover artTitle: Alienation

Author: Jon S. Lewis

Publisher: Thomas Nelson

Book Description:

The invasion was only the beginning . . .

After his parents were killed in a car accident, Colt McAllister was drawn into a world he thought only existed in comic books—one where mind control, jet packs, and flying motorcycles don’t even scratch the surface.

Along with his best friends Oz and Danielle, Colt is now training at the secret Central Headquarters Against the Occult and Supernatural academy. But strange accidents seem to follow him. . . even with the security of the school grounds. What first seems random soon turns deadly. But who is targeting Colt?

As the alien invasions increase in frequency and force, C.H.A.O.S resources are taxed to the limit and they’re forced to utilize the new recruits. In the midst of battle, Colt will discover some startling revelations . . . about himself, his friendship with Oz, and why he has been chosen to defeat this alien attack against earth.

Review:

Sixteen-year-old Colt McAlister is back for another exciting adventure full of aliens and intrigue. This time, however, someone is determined to kill him. Thanks to the government’s belief that Colt is the one who will save the world from an invasion of six-armed, shapeshifting aliens, he must survive multiple attempts on his life. His friends Danielle and Oz are determined to help him in any way they can, but can he truly trust them? Can he trust anyone?

The second book in the C.H.A.O.S. Trilogy, Alienation is an action-packed thrill ride full of conspiracies, danger, and of course, aliens. From hoverboards and nanotechnology to robots and jet packs, this book embodies any geek’s dream world. Although fictional, the technology is described in such a way that it is fully believable and undeniably awesome. Colt, Danielle, and Oz continue to develop their close friendship as their characters grow in strength and depth. When the three friends arrive at the CHAOS Military Academy, they work together and separately to stop the plot to eliminate Colt. Through the wild, life-threatening events, Colt learns who he can trust and what friendship really means.

Yet again, Jon Lewis has done a wonderful job of writing a book that will hold the interest of both teens and adults until the very last page. Alienation shows the importance of thinking for yourself, as well as knowing when to rely on others. Teens are sure to love the adrenaline-laced adventures Colt and his friends experience, and parents will appreciate the thread of faith skillfully woven into the tale. With all of the questionable role models out there, Colt McAlister and his friends provide a welcome change with their determination to help others and do the right thing, no matter the personal cost.

I highly recommend Alienation, and the rest of the C.H.A.O.S. Trilogy, to anyone who loves science fiction, adventure, and high-tech toys. These books will not disappoint.

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Filed under Christian, Fiction, Mystery/Suspense, Science Fiction, Series, Thomas Nelson, Young Adult

Invasion by Jon S. Lewis

Invasion cover artTitle: Invasion, a C.H.A.O.S. novel

Author: Jon S. Lewis

Publisher: Thomas Nelson

Book Description:

Colt McAlister is drawn into a war against things he thought only existed in comic books.

After a car wreck takes the lives of his parents, Colt moves to Arizona to stay with his grandfather. There, an informant tells him that his parents were actually murdered because his mom, a journalist, was getting ready to write a story exposing Trident Industries.

Along with Oz and Danielle, his new comrades at Chandler High, Colt vows to uncover the truth. But the more they learn, the more bizarre reality becomes. Mind control, jet packs, and flying motorcycles only scratch the surface of what they discover.

Colt is recruited by a secret organization called the Central Headquarters Against the Occult and Supernatural. But the battle isn’t just against an out-of-control giant corporation. A gateway to another world is opening, and the invasion has already begun.

Review:

Sixteen-year-old Colt McAlister is enjoying a summer of surfing and freedom in his first car. Then his parents die in a head-on collision and everything changes. He moves to Arizona with his grandpa, hangs out with his childhood friend Danielle, and makes a new friend in Oz, who seems oddly familiar. As Colt works to find his way around school and his new life, he stumbles into a deadly plot involving the largest company in the world. With Dani and Oz by his side, he learns there may be more to comic books and conspiracy theories than he had always believed. Is it possible that they are based on reality and shapeshifting aliens are planning to invade Earth?

The ups and downs in Colt McAlister’s life ring true, even when he’s in the midst of an unrealistic situation. Readers can easily suspend disbelief, however, as they follow along on the adventure of a lifetime and cheer on the good guys. This is a classic story of good versus evil, although there are a few instances where the line between good and evil must be blurred for the sake of saving the world. These instances bring out Colt’s conscience, which is remarkably strong in the face of the challenges he stumbles or runs headlong into at every turn.

Jon Lewis has written an amazing tale of science fiction with just enough truth mixed in to make it frighteningly realistic. The possibilities suggested throughout the book add a chilling glimpse into what could be, while also including alien species that leave one hoping the UFO fanatics are wrong. Colt is a character anyone can look up to and sympathize with, which makes him a great role model for adolescent readers. This book was written for teens, but it is one that is easily enjoyed by adults as well.

I highly recommend Invasion to anyone who loves science fiction, action/adventure, or stories of the supernatural. This book is a keeper, and I look forward to reading the next book in the C.H.A.O.S. series.

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Filed under Christian, Fiction, Mystery/Suspense, Science Fiction, Series, Thomas Nelson, Young Adult

Accused by Janice Cantore

Accused cover artTitle: Accused

Author: Janice Cantore

Publisher: Tyndale House

Book Description:

Detective Carly Edwards hates working in juvenile—where the brass put her after an officer-involved shooting—and longs to be back on patrol. So when a troubled youth, Londy Atkins, is arrested for the murder of the mayor and Carly is summoned to the crime scene, she’s eager for some action. Carly presses Londy for a confession but he swears his innocence, and despite her better judgment, Carly is inclined to believe him. Yet homicide is convinced of his guilt and is determined to convict him.

Carly’s ex-husband and fellow police officer, Nick, appears to be on her side. He’s determined to show Carly that he’s a changed man and win her back, but she isn’t convinced he won’t betray her again.

As the investigation progresses, Carly suspects a cover-up and strikes out on her own, uncertain whom she can trust. But when danger mounts, she begins to wonder if she made the right choice.

Review:

Detective Carly Edwards is stuck in “juvenile exile” and wishes she was back in her patrol car, on the front lines of protecting Las Playas, California. When a juvenile she knows is accused in a high-profile murder case, Carly is sure it will lead to her release from working in juvenile investigations and return her to patrol. Instead, it leads her into the investigation of her life and forces her to figure out who she can trust. Unfortunately, one of the few people she is sure she can trust is her ex-husband, a man she wants to continue to avoid. Carly and her ex must work together with the help of a few others to figure out who the real killer is and untangle the web of corruption and deceit surrounding them before someone else ends up dead.

Accused is a Christian suspense novel with romantic elements. The plot takes unexpected twists and turns, which quickly grabs the reader’s attention and holds it tightly until the end. The Christian themes could be woven in a little more smoothly in the first half of the book, but the second half mixes Christianity into the story seamlessly. The biggest issue I had with the elements of faith in the first half of the book was Carly’s somewhat repetitive negative reactions to any mention of God, prayer, or church. While it was good to see a main character in a Christian novel struggling with doubts and anger toward God, the repeated references to “Bible-thumpers” and disproportionate anger whenever anyone mentioned church or prayer to Carly felt a bit overdone.

Despite the occasionally clunky inclusion of Christian themes in the first half of the book, I enjoyed the story a great deal and would recommend it to anyone who enjoys suspense or complex mysteries. The characters are realistic with flaws as well as good qualities, and the author did a marvelous job of weaving a plot so complex that the reader is left wondering who can be trusted right along with Carly. I would read more books by Janice Cantore.

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Filed under Christian, Fiction, Series, Tyndale House Publishers

A Rush of Wings by Kristen Heitzmann

A Rush of Wings cover artTitle: A Rush of Wings

Author: Kristen Heitzmann

Publisher: Bethany House Publishers

Book Description:

Though her panic is real, Noelle St. Claire is uncertain what danger she is fleeing. Fragmented images and slivers of memory have driven her to abandon her wealthy, sheltered life in New York for the hope of a haven—remote and safe.

Noelle’s arrival at the Rocky Mountain horse ranch owned by Rick Spencer and his brother Morgan causes more than a little stir. Beautiful, vulnerable, yet strangely secretive, Noelle is an enigma the two contrasting brothers seek to unlock. But as their attentions breach the wall she hides behind, the past becomes a menacing threat from which Noelle can no longer hide.

Review:

A Rush of Wings takes readers on an amazing journey of pain, hope, and healing. Noelle St. Claire is running scared—she just isn’t sure what she’s running from. When she arrives at the Spencer ranch just outside Juniper Falls, Colorado, she finds what she’s looking for: a place she feels safe.

Rick Spencer and his brother Morgan are both attracted to Noelle, although Rick tries to deny it at first. Morgan tries to garner Noelle’s interest while drawing her out of her shell. While it wasn’t his original intention, his carefree, outgoing ways start to crack the wall Noelle has placed around her memories. Rick can see that the only way she can ever heal is with God’s grace and love, but she’s resistant to anything related to God or faith. Panic attacks triggered by harmless comments and gestures start to cripple Noelle, and she has to decide if she wants to continue to live in fear or if she wants the freedom and independence she first sought at the ranch.

Kristen Heitzmann has done a wonderful job of showing the devastating result of traumatic events and the healing power of God. The realism of the characters and their struggles makes them easy to identify with, and the vivid descriptions throughout the book bring the story to life. A Rush of Wings is a great read for anyone who loves realistic Christian fiction.

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Filed under Bethany House Publishers, Christian, Fiction, Mystery/Suspense, Romance

Almost Heaven by Chris Fabry

Almost Heaven cover artTitle: Almost Heaven

Author: Chris Fabry

Publisher: Tyndale House Publishers

Book Description:

Billy Allman is a hillbilly genius. People in Dogwood, West Virginia, say he was born with a second helping of brains and a gift for playing the mandolin but was cut short on social skills. Though he’d gladly give you the shirt off his back, they were right. Billy longs to use his life as an ode to God, a lyrical, beautiful bluegrass song played with a finely tuned heart. So with spare parts from a lifetime of collecting, he builds a radio station in his own home. People in town laugh. But Billy carries a brutal secret that keeps him from significance and purpose. Things always seem to go wrong for him.
However small his life seems, from a different perspective Billy’s song reaches far beyond the hills and hollers he calls home. Malachi is an angel sent to observe Billy. Though it is not his dream assignment, Malachi follows the man and begins to see the bigger picture of how each painful step Billy takes is a note added to a beautiful symphony that will forever change the lives of those who hear it.

Review:

This is the story of Billy Allman, a simple man born and raised in the hills of West Virginia. All of his life, he’s had a strong faith in God, a love of bluegrass music, and a dream for a radio station. Everything in his life seems to go wrong, but through it all he remains steadfast in his love of the Lord. In fact, the worse the situation, the stronger his faith seems to grow.

Malachi is an angel given the task of protecting Billy. Through the angel’s eyes, readers are given a deeper look at human nature and how those in the heavenlies might view life here on earth. Malachi suffers from a few moments of doubt, making him easy to connect with, but his faith in God’s goodness and his allegiance to the Creator never waver.

Throughout the story, we see event after event in Billy’s life that has a deep impact on him. Many are enough to make some people decide God has abandoned them. But as Billy remains strong in his faith, it inspires readers to do the same. A common theme in the book is that no matter how bad life gets here on earth, God is still very much in control and He’s right there with us through it all, even when it feels like we’re stumbling along on our own.

Almost Heaven is filled with poignant emotion and amazing descriptions that draw the reader in. The emotions and events are portrayed in such a way that readers can easily empathize with the characters and experience the story right along with them. The many reminders of God’s love and healing are uplifting without being overwhelming. It’s the kind of book that will speak to a wide audience.

I recommend this book for any reader who doubts God’s goodness, or doesn’t feel worthy of His mercy, or is going through a difficult time, or has an experience in their past that still haunts them. Basically, any reader who enjoys Christian fiction will likely enjoy Almost Heaven.

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Filed under Christian, Fiction, Tyndale House Publishers

Yesterday’s Promise by Delia Latham

Yesterday's Promise cover artTitle: Yesterday’s Promise

Author: Delia Latham

Publisher: White Rose Publishing

Book Description:

A whirlwind romance amidst the natural splendor of Yosemite National Park. A spur-of-the-moment wedding near Bridalveil Fall. A young bride who awakens the morning after to find her new husband gone with the mountain wind.

Songbird Hannah Johns supports the child born of that ill-fated union by singing in a dinner lounge. Her dream of someday owning the elite establishment and turning it into a venue more suited to her Christian values is shattered when an unexpected transaction places it in the hands of Brock Ellis, the handsome biker who abandoned her in their honeymoon suite.

Ensuing sparks fly high, revealing buried secrets and forgotten pasts. Seeking to find peace with her painful past, Hannah returns to Yosemite, and Brock follows hard on her heels. Back where it all began, she finds herself in danger of losing her heart yet again to the man who shattered it the first time around.

Review:

Hannah Johns is a single mom working as a singer in a dinner lounge. Brock Ellis is an entrepreneur who buys the dinner lounge and has big plans to change it. He also broke Hannah’s heart four years before, but he shows no signs of recognition when he’s introduced as her new boss. What ensues is an amazing tale of faith and love, memories and loss. And in the midst of it all, Hannah’s three-year-old son, Davey, unwittingly helps bring together his mother and the father he’s never known.

Delia Latham’s writing style is vibrant and realistic, evoking emotion and bringing the story and the characters to life. She’s seamlessly woven Christianity into Yesterday’s Promise, showing that even the strongest of Christians can have doubts and misunderstand God’s leading. This book also shows how forgiveness and love can mend the most broken of fences and that God’s grace and strength are sufficient to sustain us through whatever storms life may throw our way. Though Ms. Latham a new author to me, I would definitely read more of her work.

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Filed under Christian, Fiction, Pelican Book Group, Romance

The Mercenary’s Marriage by Rachel Rossano

The Mercenary's Marriage cover artTitle: The Mercenary’s Marriage

Author: Rachel Rossano

Publisher: Rachel Rossano

Book Description:

Trained as a mercenary soldier, Darius was a man of decisive action. He was also a man of compassion. Seeing a young slave woman about to become the spoils of war, he claimed her for his own. Marrying her before God and king, he made her a free and respectable soldier’s wife.

Brice was born a slave. Abused and beaten, she learned quickly to avoid being noticed and to stay away from men. When her master’s walls fell to enemy forces, she ran, but not fast enough. In Darius’ offer she found deliverance, but experience had taught her to fear power such as his. Could she trust in his protection, or had she traded one form of slavery for another?

Review:

Once I started reading The Mercenary’s Marriage I couldn’t stop until I finished the book! The vibrant characters felt like they could step off the page at any moment because of their realism. The journey and challenges of Darius and Brice kept me riding along on their emotional roller coaster until the very end. While I would have liked to see little more attention given to Darius’ motivation for his actions, I have to admit that the way Ms. Rossano wrote his character made it that much easier to identify with Brice. After all, Darius kept me guessing as much as he did her!

All in all, this is a wonderful sweet romance I would recommend to anyone looking for an engaging read. I would definitely read more books by Rachel Rossano.

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Filed under Fantasy, Fiction, Indie, Mystery/Suspense