Category Archives: Series

The Orphan King by Sigmund Brouwer

The Orphan King cover artTitle: The Orphan King

Author: Sigmund Brouwer

Publisher: Waterbrook Press

Book Description:

The future of the Immortals is in the hands of an orphan

My greatest fear was that they would find us and make of us a sacrifice beneath a full moon. Now you, Thomas, must help us destroy the circle of evil.

The last words of a dying woman would change the life of young Thomas. Raised behind monastery walls, he knows nothing of his mysterious past or imminent destiny. But now, in the heart of medieval England, a darkness threatens to strangle truth. An ancient order tightens their ghostly grip on power, creating fear and exiling those who would oppose them. Thomas is determined fulfill his calling and bring light into the mysterious world of the Druids and leaves the monastery on an important quest.

Thomas quickly finds himself in unfamiliar territory, as he must put his faith in unusual companions—a cryptic knight, a child thief, and the beautiful, silent woman whom may not be all she seems.  From the solitary life of an orphan, Thomas now finds himself tangled in the roots of both comradery and suspicion.

Can he trust those who would join his battle…or will his fears force him to go on alone?

Review:

The first book in the Merlin’s Immortals series, The Orphan King is the beginning of an epic battle between good and evil. Thomas, an orphan raised in an abbey, has known from a young age that he has a special destiny, one he must fulfill or die trying. With the help of a knight he must first rescue from the gallows, he plans to retake the castle Magnus from the man who stole it from Thomas’s family and forced his mother to hide him at the abbey. At first, it appears as though Thomas’s fear may defeat him before his journey begins, but then his courage and determination shine through. He is filled with the necessary fire to stand up for what is right and to fight against those who oppress and inflict pain upon the innocent and the weak. But does he have the wisdom to discern those who wish to use his sense of justice for their own nefarious plans from those who truly need his help and wish to aid his mission?

This book is packed with adventure and intrigue. Each chapter brings a new twist and adds just enough information to allow the reader to discover what is going on right alongside Thomas. The Christian theme is masterfully woven into the plot, revealing itself more through Thomas’s doubts than through any great displays of faith. As Thomas travels the path laid before him, he ponders the same type of questions many people have, such as why a loving God would allow such evil to occur to those helpless to defend themselves. Thomas’s journey also shows the necessity of wisdom and looking beyond a pretty face or compelling words to a person’s true intentions. Not everything is as it seems, and Thomas soon learns that not everyone can be trusted.

With this new series, Sigmund Brouwer has given teens and adults a glimpse into the superstitious medieval times. He adds just enough easily explained “magic” to emphasize the mystique of the educated in the Middle Ages while avoiding turning this into yet another “sword and sorcery” fantasy novel that reads like a dozen others. The Orphan King has a unique plot filled with mystery and questions that leave the reader begging for more.

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Christian, Fantasy, Historical, Mystery/Suspense, Series, WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group, Young Adult

His Chosen Bride by Sherry Gloag

His Chosen Bride cover artTitle: His Chosen Bride

Author: Sherry Gloag

Publisher: Astraea Press

Book Description:

Prince Henri Gasquet is happy to let his father, the king, choose his bride for him, until he meets Monica Latimer.

Monica Latimer is not prepared to risk letting any man close enough to learn about her Gift. A gift that normally has men running for the hills when they find out about it.

What will happen when both mindsets are challenged?

Review:

Henri Gasquet is forced to take a holiday from his duties as heir to the throne. Far from pleased with suddenly having nothing to do, he visits his brother and sister-in-law in Scotland. The one redeeming part of the trip—and one of the most frustrating—is the appearance of Monica Latimer, the woman he hasn’t been able to forget since the day he first met her. Can he win over Monica’s heart and accept her special gift? Can Monica learn to trust Henri and break through the royal wall he’s built around his heart?

This is a short contemporary romance filled with contention between the hero and heroine. Although portrayed as being unable to resist each other, they rarely have a conversation that ends without an argument or hurt feelings. Yet there is still an undeniable attraction that keeps the reader hoping they’ll look past their fears and see how much they care for each other. The fact that they have trouble keeping their hands off each other also shows the developing romance.

While this book was an enjoyable read, some scenes felt cut short. This was disappointing, but didn’t detract from the strength of the romance between Henri and Monica. I also would have liked to see some of the events that were mentioned but never shown. The sweet ending makes up for some of this and put a smile on my face. All in all, His Chosen Bride was an enjoyable read.

Leave a comment

Filed under Astraea Press, Fiction, Romance, Series

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.

Leave a comment

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.

Leave a comment

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.

Leave a comment

Filed under Christian, Fiction, Series, Tyndale House Publishers

The Rose Legacy by Kristen Heitzmann

The Rose Legacy cover artTitle: The Rose Legacy, Diamond of the Rockies Book 1

Author: Kristen Heitzmann

Publisher: Bethany House Publishers

Book Description:

If he wants her, let him come and prove it.

Fleeing her idyllic home in Sonoma, California, Carina Maria DiGratia journeys to the mining town of Crystal, Colorado. Clinging to hopes of a new life, she finds reality has a harsh welcome for her. Overrun with men seeking their fortune and women bound by circumstance, the town hosts both dreams and nightmares, with little surety for tomorrow. But at least here Carina is far from the betrayal that still pierces her heart.

Early on, two men vie for her trust, but neither is what he seems. Will Carina discern the truth and confront the turmoil hidden in her own heart in time to prevent tragedy?

Review:

Carina DiGratia is naïve, hot-tempered, and impulsive. The daughter of a respected Italian doctor who served a king, she’s used to getting her way, and it doesn’t take long to see she’d sheltered, spoiled, and ill-suited to life in a rough and tumble mining town.

Quillan Shepard is a freighter and the classic wounded hero. Nothing has come easy for him; life has battered him, his past is a shadowy mystery, and he has no interest in anything remotely romantic…unless you count his penchant for reading poetry and other books.

Then there’s Berkley Beck, Crystal, Colorado’s slick attorney. He’s suave, well-groomed, and takes gallantry to a whole new level. His inability to organize his office appears, at first, to be his only downside, and Carina fixes that soon enough.

Ms. Heitzmann brings her characters and an 1880 Colorado mining town to life with vivid descriptions and true-to-life dialogue. The cast of characters does a wonderful job of capturing the essence of the superstitious mindset, wild behavior, and loyalty of the mining camps and towns in the 1880s. Adventure, intrigue, suspicion, and the characters’ varying degrees of faith keep readers engaged and draw them into the story.

While the story is good and the writing magnificent, I must admit that the characters felt a bit overdone at times. Carina acted like a spoiled child for much of the book, and every time she showed signs of sucking up the hardships and carrying on with grace, she ranted either verbally or in her thoughts. However, she did grow throughout the story and eventually became the kind of strong Christian woman I kept hoping to see. Quillan started out dark and brooding, and he stayed that way to the end. Except for his occasional memories of his childhood and his thoughts of admiration and caring for an old miner, the insight into his past and him as a man came through the other characters. And finally, Berkley Beck. His actions fit his personality and the story well. Full of secrets hidden beneath a façade of respectability and smooth etiquette, he kept me guessing as to his true motives for a good portion of the book.

Although I enjoyed the story and found myself rejoicing and hurting along with the characters, I was disappointed by the ending. I love happy endings, but the end of this book if far from happy. There is a glimmer of hope that things will improve in book two of the Diamond of the Rockies series, but I still feel a little disappointed that The Rose Legacy ended the way it did.

If you’re looking for a good historical novel that does an amazing job of bringing an 1880 mining town to life and shows characters realistically struggling with their faith, I suggest reading The Rose Legacy. But be prepared to read the next book in the series. The end of The Rose Legacy leaves readers hanging and wondering how things turn out for Carina.

Leave a comment

Filed under Bethany House Publishers, Christian, Fiction, Historical, Romance, Series

The Secret of Indigo Moon by G.P. Taylor

The Secret of Indigo Moon cover artTitle: The Dopple Ganger Chronicles, Book II: The Secret of Indigo Moon

Author: G.P. Taylor

Publisher: Tyndale House Publishers

Book Description:

From best-selling author G.P. Taylor comes the highly anticipated second installment of The Dopple Ganger Chronicles, a series that combines art and traditional text to help “reluctant readers” discover the wonder of books.

Erik Morissey Ganger, famed explorer and detective (well, in his dreams), and his mischief-making sidekicks, twins Sadie and Saskia Dopple, didn’t go looking for a secret tunnel beneath the school. They never intended to make the acquaintance of a shifty private eye with a nose for trouble. It wasn’t part of the plan to come face to face with an old enemy, one with an agenda of his own that could destroy them all. And unraveling the “secret of indigo moon” was the farthest thing from their minds.

At Isambard Dunstan’s School for Wayward Children, these things just seem to happen.
In The Secret of Indigo Moon, confirmed troublemakers Erik, Sadie, and Saskia plunge headlong into a new and perilous mystery, one that challenges everything they thought they knew about their lives, themselves, and whom it’s safe to trust.

Review:

I admit I’m not a big fan of graphic novels…usually. But it didn’t take long for me to get drawn into the world of Erik Morissey Ganger and the Dopple twins, Sadie and Saskia. The Dopple Ganger Chronicles, Book II: The Secret of Indigo Moon is packed with action right from the start. The mystery involving a secret tunnel, a reporter, and an old enemy is well-written and even managed to surprise me a little—something that doesn’t happen often with children’s mysteries.

While the repetition of Erik’s full name did get a little tedious at times, this was still a wonderful book that I had trouble putting down. The Christian message is woven in with such subtlety that it wasn’t even noticeable in much of the story. And when it did appear, it was written in an allegorical fashion that was both enjoyable and uplifting. G.P. Taylor is definitely going on my list of authors I can count on for a good story.

Leave a comment

Filed under Christian, Fiction, Graphic Novels, Series, Tyndale House Publishers, Young Adult