Fortress of Mist by Sigmund Brouwer

Fortress of Mist cover artTitle: Fortress of Mist (Book Two, Merlin’s Immortals)

Author: Sigmund Brouwer

Publisher: Waterbrook Press

Book Description:

The throne is redeemed, but the battle is just beginning.          

In the dark corners of an ancient land, evil lurks in the shadows. Powerful druids haunt the spaces of their lost territory. Double-minded noblemen fight for domain and influence. Invaders from the north threaten the kingdom of Magnus. This land of promise and redemption is mired in deceit and corruption.

The Orphan King, once victorious in conquest, appears to be losing his grip on his seat of power. Thomas rules Magnus, but does not know whom he can trust. His enemies anticipate his every move, thwarting him at each turn. Something is not right.

Under attack, both in the supernatural and natural worlds, Thomas must reach back into the secret layers of his past to find the strength and wisdom to fight his battles. When the mist clears, who will stand with him?

Review:

The battle between good and evil continues in Fortress of Mist. The more Thomas of Magnus searches for answers, the more questions he finds. Each person he wants to trust holds secrets they refuse to reveal, leaving Thomas unable to trust anyone but himself. And through it all, he must fight to hold onto Magnus, a goal that seems hopeless when he has to face it alone.

Once again, Sigmund Brouwer has written an intriguing book full of twists and turns that keep the reader guessing until the very end. The depth of Thomas’s emotions make it easy to step into his shoes and experience the events of the story along with him. Katherine’s longing to reveal everything to Thomas and her feelings for him bring the reader close to her and make it easy to want her to find a happy ending. Yet the book ends with a cliffhanger that leaves you longing to read the next book just to find out where the story goes next.

The theme of faith is artfully woven throughout the book. In the battle between good and evil, Thomas must choose which side to fight for. It is not always an easy choice, nor is the choice always clear at first glance. Thomas, though still resistant to Christianity, steadfastly analyzes each option presented to him and chooses in ways that indicate the beginnings of faith. His questions and doubts remain, however, lending him a relatable struggle that many face when struggling with whether to turn to God.

The intrigue, excitement, and believable challenges make this book easy to enjoy. If you’re looking for an adventure in which you will lose yourself until the end, I recommend Fortress of Mist.

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Filed under Christian, Fantasy, Fiction, Historical, Series, WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group, Young Adult

Domination by Jon S. Lewis

Domination cover artTitle: Domination

Author: Jon S. Lewis

Publisher: Thomas Nelson

Book Description:

THEIR GOAL IS SIMPLE: TOTAL DOMINATION.

With six arms and jaws that can snap a man in two, the warmongering race of aliens known as the Thule has conquered every planet they’ve attacked.

And now their invasion of Earth has begun.

Humanity’s only hope springs from a mysterious Thule legend about a Betrayer, who they believe will rise up and destroy their people. The American government tried to manufacture their own Betrayer by injecting children with Thule blood but time after time the experiment failed . . . until Colt McAlister.

A decade later, Colt is a 16-year-old cadet at the CHAOS Military Academy where he’s training to defend mankind. But he’s afraid that the alien blood may be turning him into a Thule—and he’s beginning to suspect that fulfilling his role as the Betrayer may cost him everything.

Experience a cosmic battle filled with high-tech gear, gateways to other planets, and ultimate stakes. Not everyone will survive. But heroes will rise up and step into their destiny in this earth-shaking conclusion to the C.H.A.O.S trilogy.

Review:

In this epic conclusion to the C.H.A.O.S. Trilogy, Colt McAlister is one step closer to saving Earth from an invasion of Thule. Unfortunately, the mission he and his friends have been tasked with completing if far from easy. If the practice runs in the simulator are any indication, humanity is doomed. But despite the odds stacked high against them, Colt and his friends hold onto the hope that when the time comes, they will succeed.

I loved the first two books in this trilogy, and I looked forward to reading Domination for quite some time. This book did not disappoint. As with the first two books, there is plenty of action, danger, and plot twists to keep the reader turning pages. There is also just the right amount of teenage angst as Colt faces the normal struggles of being a sixteen-year-old boy, although his challenges are made all the more difficult because the entire world is counting on him to save them from destruction.

Colt’s faith comes to the forefront in this book, shining bright through his struggles with the Thule blood running through his veins as well as wondering if he can live up to everyone’s expectations. Regardless of his doubts, he always clings to his faith in God. The verse he wears on a medallion around his neck serves as a constant reminder that God will help him, regardless of what dangers he may face.

If you haven’t read the first two books in this trilogy, I highly recommend you pick them up before reading Domination. If you have already read Invasion and Alienation, what are you waiting for? Pick up a copy of Domination now. You won’t regret it.

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

Shattered by Dani Pettrey

Shattered cover artTitle: Shattered (Alaskan Courage Book 2)

Author: Dani Pettrey

Publisher: Bethany House

Book Description:

When her prodigal brother Reef’s return to Yancey, Alaska, is shattered by his arrest for murder, Piper McKenna is determined to protect him.

Deputy Landon Grainger loves the McKennas like family, but he’s also sworn to find the truth. And he knows those closest to you have the power to deceive you the most. With his sheriff pushing for a quick conviction, some unexpected leads complicate the investigation, and pursuing the truth puts Landon’s career in jeopardy.

When Piper launches her own investigation, Landon realizes he must protect her from herself–and whatever complications await as the two follow clues deep into Canada’s rugged backcountry. Not only does their long friendship seem to be turning into something more, but this dangerous case is becoming deadlier with each step.

Review:

Certain her brother is innocent of killing a snowboarder, despite the town’s belief to the contrary, Piper McKenna hunts for the real murderer. Her search infuriates her older brother’s best friend Landon Grainger, who happens to be a member of the town’s law enforcement. As more clues surface that Piper’s brother may be as innocent as she claims, she and Landon must find a way to work together to unravel the increasingly murky mystery surrounding the murder without becoming victims themselves.

From the very first page, Pettrey draws the readers into the suspense and drama surrounding the murder and the search to find the killer. The suspense carries throughout the book and is intertwined with traditional elements of a romance novel as Landon and Piper try to solve the mystery of their own feelings while looking for a murderer. Watching the characters follow their hearts and stumble along, all the while trying to find or cling to faith in God and each other, gave the story a sense of realism that some novels lack. No one is perfect and life is full of challenges and heartache, something this book shows beautifully.

I haven’t read the first book in this series yet, but the story was easy to follow without prior knowledge of the McKenna family or the events in the previous book. At first the sheer number of characters was a bit overwhelming, but I quickly became acquainted with them and was easily able to keep track of who they were and how they were connected to each other. Many of the McKenna siblings, as well as Landon, seemed to feel the need to always be in charge, which created stumbling blocks when they needed to work together, but I was impressed with the growth shown by all of the characters by the end of the story.

Overall, this is an amazing book that I found difficult to put down. The way the author balanced the suspense and the romance while setting up for the next book in the series impressed me and left me wanting to read more of her work. If you’re a fan of romantic suspense novels, you’ll love this book.

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

Fire Prophet by Jerel Law

Fire Prophet cover artTitle: Fire Prophet (Book Two in the Sons of Angels Series)

Author: Jerel Law

Publisher: Thomas Nelson

Book Description:

Fire Prophet is Book Two in the Son of Angels Series. Spirit Fighter began the Son of Angels series.

What if you could actually see angels and fallen angels engaging in battle—and you were expected to join the fight?

It’s been one year since Jonah Stone and his sister, Eliza, discovered that their mother is a nephilim, the product of a union between a human and a fallen angel, which makes them and their little brother, Jeremiah, quarterlings, or one-quarter angel. After embarking on an epic journey to rescue their mother and the other nephilim, who were kidnapped by fallen angels, the Stone kids have enjoyed a little peace and quiet.

But when Jonah and Eliza are attacked by fallen angels at school, they learn that quarterlings all over the world are being targeted, and separating them from their parents is the only way to keep them safe. The kids undergo special training to help them discover their own unique angelic gifts, which come in handy when they embark on a mission to find a mysterious prophet who they believe holds the key to Abaddon’s defeat in a massive battle between good and evil.

Parents today are looking for fiction that makes Christianity and the Bible exciting for their kids. This series is the first Christian answer to Percy Jackson and the Olympians, the Kane Chronicles, the Secret Series, and other middle grade series packed with adventure, action, and supernatural fights. But the message is solidly scriptural in that God alone is always in control.

Review:

Jonah Stone and his younger brother and sister, Jeremiah and Eliza, are quarterlings (one-quarter angel). Abbadon, the ruler of evil, is determined to destroy the Stone children, every other quarterling, and the nephilim (half angels). Jonah and his siblings take refuge with the rest of the quarterlings and begin learning to use their angelic abilities to fight evil. The quarterlings’ parents, both nephilim and human, are taken to other secure locations for their own protection. Jonah, his brother and sister, and their new quarterling friends must work with the angels and use the unique gifts Elohim has given each of them if they are to save their parents and themselves from death.

When I first read the description of this book, it sounded like an amazing story full of action and lively battles between good and evil. While the book does contain these, it fell far from my initial expectations. Speculative fiction requires readers to suspend their disbelief and accept that the fantastical elements could really exist. Unfortunately, the first third of Fire Prophet contained too many ridiculous and clichéd elements for me to adequately suspend my disbelief. The story did improve after the first third and began to live up to the potential given in the book’s description. The spiritual battles were vividly described and drew me in, allowing me to almost experience them alongside the characters.

I say almost because of another set of issues that cropped up throughout the book. The frequent head-hopping and shifts to points of view other than the protagonists made it difficult to fully get into the story. Minor consistency issues also pulled me out of the story. I also started skimming over the repeated statements of the kids disappearing from the physical realm every time they entered the hidden realm. The first time or two they popped into the hidden realm, it made sense to mention that they suddenly vanished from the view of anyone in the physical realm. By the second half of the book, however, I felt as though the author didn’t think I would remember that going into the hidden realm meant the quarterlings were hidden from the sight of any nearby humans.

Over all, I think this is a book children in middle school could enjoy because of the fast-paced action and unique plot. I wouldn’t recommend it for high school aged kids, however. Despite being labeled a young adult novel, it reads more like an upper middle grade novel.

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Filed under Christian, Fantasy, Fiction, Series, Speculative Fiction, Thomas Nelson, Young Adult

Review Policy Change

As it clearly states on the About page of this blog, I am an author as well as a reviewer. This may not seem important to many people, but in recent months there has been growing concern among some that authors who review books from publishers they also write for are not being honest in their reviews. Since I write for multiple publishers, I have made the difficult decision to change my review policy. Effective immediately, I will no longer accept review requests from authors or publishers, nor will I review books from my publishers. Should this situation ever change, I will reconsider my stance on review requests.

Although I regret that it has come to this, I feel this change is necessary to prevent the possibility of readers becoming suspicious of the quality of the books I review. For anyone concerned about the honesty of the reviews I have posted to date, I can assure you that I have included nothing more or less than my true opinion in each review, an opinion based solely on the contents of the book and my experience reading it.

It is my sincere hope that this culture of suspicion and accusation will one day fade into the background and once again allow authors to review whatever they please without fear. In the meantime, readers, sharing your opinion is more important than ever. Any time you read a book, please consider leaving an honest review of it on your favorite retail site, your blog, Goodreads, etc. I can assure you authors appreciate hearing what their readers think.

Wishing you a year filled with happiness and good books,

E.A. West

Author, reader, & book reviewer

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Against the Tide by Elizabeth Camden

Against the Tide cover artTitle: Against the Tide

Author: Elizabeth Camden

Publisher: Bethany House

Book Description:

After a childhood rampant with uncertainty, Lydia Pallas has carved out a perfect life for herself. She spends her days within sight of the bustling Boston Harbor, where her skill with languages has landed her an enviable position as a translator for the U.S. Navy.

Lydia’s talents bring her to the attention of Alexander Banebridge, a mysterious man in need of a translator. Driven by a campaign to end the opium trade, Bane is coolly analytical and relentless in his quest. He cannot afford to fall for Lydia and must fight the bittersweet love growing between them.

When Bane’s enemies gain the upper hand, he is forced to turn to Lydia for help. Determined to prove her worth, Lydia soon discovers that carrying out Bane’s mission will test her wits and her courage to the very limits.

When forces conspire against them from without and within, can their love survive?

Review:

Set in Boston in the early 1890s, Against the Tide deals with the problems of opium smuggling, the use of opium in popular cure-alls, and the difficulties facing women in need of employment. The story is told in a manner that makes it easy to relate to the characters and the challenges they face. Ms. Camden’s vibrant writing draws the reader into the story and brings the characters to life. Although I loved the book and the characters, at times it felt like I was reading a contemporary story set at the end of the nineteenth century. The book didn’t have the historical feel that I’m used to in historical novels, but that was a minor issue that didn’t really affect my enjoyment of the story. The characters and the plot, as well as Ms. Camden’s vivid writing style, made it easy to get lost in the pages of this book.

If you enjoy novels with tumultuous romance, danger, and faith, I recommend reading Against the Tide. Be prepared to stay up late because if you’re like me, once you start reading you’ll find the book impossible to put down.

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

Coming October 2 – Unstoppable by Nick Vujicic

Coming October 2, 2012 from WaterBrook Press – Unstoppable by Nick Vujicic.

Unstoppable cover artBook Description:

Being unstoppable is about believing and achieving. It’s about having faith in yourself, your talents and your purpose and, most of all, in God’s great love and His divine plan for your life.

Millions around the world recognize the smiling face and inspirational message of Nick Vujicic.  Despite being born without arms or legs, Nick’s challenges have not kept him from enjoying great adventures, a fulfilling and meaningful career, and loving relationships.  Nick has overcome trials and hardships by focusing on the promises that he was created for a unique and specific purpose, that his life has value and is a gift to others, and that no matter the despair and hard times in life, God is always present. Nick credits his success in life to the power that is unleashed when faith takes action.

But how does that happen?  In Unstoppable Nick addresses adversity and difficult circumstances that many people face today, including:

·         Personal crises
·         Relationship issues
·         Career and job challenges
·         Health and disability concerns
·         Self-destructive thoughts, emotions, and addictions
·         Bullying, persecution, cruelty, and intolerance
·         Balance in body, mind, heart, and spirit
·         Service to others

Through stories from his own life and the experiences of many others, Nick explains how anyone wanting a “ridiculously good life” can respond to these issues and more to become unstoppable. What’s standing in your way?  Are you ready to become unstoppable?

Read the first chapter excerpt here.

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Filed under Christian, Non-fiction, WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group