Blind Betrayal by Nancy Mehl

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About the book:

Deputy U.S. Marshal Casey Sloane has worked at the St. Louis marshals office for two years and is given a routine assignment to help transport a reporter to D.C. to testify before a grand jury. Valerie, the reporter, was writing a story about an up-and-coming environmentalist who suddenly disappeared and, she later discovered, whose backers purportedly have ties to a terrorist.

When the seemingly ordinary assignment suddenly takes a shocking turn, Casey is forced to put aside her own feelings about the unexpected reappearance of a man from her past as she and two other marshals take Valerie on the run. And as it becomes dangerously clear Valerie’s testimony has even bigger implications than they knew, they’ll do whatever it takes to make it out alive.


My review:

Nancy Mehl always manages to keep me turning pages, and Blind Betrayal is no exception. Her writing is light and easy-to-read, while still crammed with tension and drama. I read this one while waiting for my mom to graduate from physical therapy (yay!), and it made the time fly by.

Her characterization is top-notch, and her delivery of that background information, that deep-down motivation, creates a wonderful blend of sympathy, empathy, and “Seriously?” that keeps the reader wanting more.

Now, to be honest, there were some parts of the plot that seemed way too convenient, and reminded me that this was fiction and all had to be wrapped up. But overall, I was entertained by this read.

I have not read the first two books in the series, and I wonder if that may have given me deeper insight into some of the tertiary characters. Yet, I don’t feel it’s is absolutely necessary to read them first, since I did enjoy reading Blind Betrayal, and I think you would enjoy it, too.

Many thanks to Bethany house for the copy of this book for review purposes. I was not required to give a positive review. All opinions are my very own! 🙂

 

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King’s War by Jill Williamson

king-s-war-the-kinsman-chronicles-book-3About the book:

One battle is over, but the war has just begun. They escaped the Five Realms and have found a home, but peace is much harder to find. The aftermath of the Battle of Sarikar should have been a time to mourn those lost in the slaughter. The enemies of Armania are many, however, and when one steps back to regroup, another surges forward in attack.

While the remnant must take responsibility for the evil they brought to Er’Rets, it would seem that something just as dark already existed in this new world. The growing struggle between Armania and Barthel Rogedoth is but a pale reflection of a far more dangerous battle for the souls of humanity.

And so begins this awe-inspiring conclusion to Jill Williamson’s Kinsman Chronicles. The Hadar family and their allies prepare to make one final stand in the name of Arman. There shall be war–in Er’Rets and in the Veil–to vanquish evil or be ruled by darkness.


My review:

What a fantastic end to an utterly epic series! I wondered if she could top the drama and intensity of the first two books in the series (King’s Folly and King’s Blood), but I should never have doubted Jill Williamson. King’s War was everything special about the first two parts of the trilogy and even more.

As with all three books in the trilogy, King’s War is comprised of three parts (which you can purchase individually or as one entire novel): “The Reluctant King;” “A Deliverer Comes;” and “Warriors of the Veil.”

Each part brings new obstacles for the characters to learn from and grow through. I continue to be fascinated by Williamson’s deft and beautiful world building, her intricate magic systems, and her ability to keep all of the many characters constantly developing throughout the books. Oli became one of my favorite characters as I read his perspective in this book, and there were moments I even kind of liked Charlon, which says a lot to me about how skilled Williamson is a creating multi-faceted characters.

I’m so sad that this is the final book! I have been thoroughly entranced by Jill Williamson’s Kinsman Chronicles for the past few years and feel a bit like my friends have all left me now that the series is over. Guess I will have to re-read them! 🙂

Or maybe I should finally dive into her Blood of Kings trilogy (which, though it was written years before the Kinsman Chronicles, actually takes place in Er’Rets 500 years after the events in the Kinsman series.) Sounds like a plan!

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Many thanks to Bethany House Publishers and NetGalley for the digital copy of this book for review purposes. I was not required to give a positive review. All opinions are my very own! 🙂

The Captured Bride by Michelle Griep

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About the book:

Mercy Lytton, a scout with keen eyesight raised among the Mohawks, and Elias Dubois, a condemned traitor working both sides of the conflict, must join together to get a shipment of gold safely into British hands.

A War-Torn Countryside Is No Place for a Lady
Mercy Lytton is a lady like none other. Raised amongst the Mohawks, she straddles two cultures, yet each are united in one cause. . .to defeat the French. Born with a rare gift of unusually keen eyesight, she is chosen as a scout to accompany a team of men on a dangerous mission. Yet it is not her life that is threatened. It is her heart.

Condemned as a traitor, Elias Dubois faces the gallows. At the last minute, he is offered his freedom if he consents to accompany a stolen shipment of French gold to a nearby fort—but he is the one they stole it from in the first place. It turns out that the real thief is the beguiling woman, Mercy Lytton, for she steals his every waking thought.

Can love survive divided loyalties in a backcountry wilderness?


My review:

Having been slightly disappointed by the first two books in the Daughters of the Mayflower series, I was leery about wasting time reading the third book. But I was pleasantly surprised by Michelle Griep’s addition to the series!

Griep’s writing is beautiful. Her descriptions swiftly transport the reader to upper New York in the 1750s in the midst of the French and Indian War. I was surprised at how quickly I fell into the story, and how I really did want to know what caused Mercy to be captured (as the title suggests). Griep did a wonderful job of building tension; of layering and slowly revealing backstories and motivations of her characters; of creating possibilities then tossing in challenges; of developing trust between her characters; and of maintaining a realistically harsh, yet still engaging atmosphere for Mercy and Elias to work through.

I did enjoy this story and plan to read more of Michelle Griep’s work. If the rest of the series is written like The Captured Bride, I will gladly read them all! I’d recommend you grab your own copy. (*Note: you do not have to read the series in order to be able to understand the individual stories!)

Many thanks to Barbour Publishing and NetGalley for the digital copy of this novel. I was not required to give a positive review. All opinions are my very own! 🙂

To Raise a King by Justin Orton

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About the book:

When Matt escapes a Scottish boys’ home to search for his parents, he instead finds himself fleeing for his life. Cast back in time to the brutality of 6th-century Scotland, he is sent on a dangerous quest – a race to recover the missing fragments of King Arthur’s broken crown in an epic bid to save two worlds from certain destruction.

Love, betrayal and murder follow Matt as he battles against a backdrop of powerful magic and political intrigue that soon erupts into open war. Matt’s faith in himself, and his trust in his friends will be put to the ultimate test as he fights to Raise a King.

“To Raise a King” is the first novel in the “Broken Crown” series, and builds on the original Arthurian legend that says Arthur did not die, but was placed in eternal sleep by Merlin.

Follow Matt’s struggle for survival, and his harrowing journey across Scotland. Experience a young man’s struggle as he deals with the loss of innocence, an unexpected romance, and the shocking discovery of his own heritage.

“The Broken Crown” provides a remarkable glimpse into dark-age Scotland, and weaves together history and legend to produce an action packed tale rich in characters and adventure.


My review:

This was an interesting read, but I’m still not sure how I really feel about it. I’ve been fascinated by the legend of King Arthur for most of my life and enjoy seeing all of the different interpretations of the stories. To Raise a King, while it is definitely a reworking of the legend of King Arthur, focuses a lot on Merlin: his backstory and his role in Arthur’s life and “death.”

And that’s where it gets really weird. Orton has chosen to depict Merlin as a “Marsonian” — a former inhabitant of Mars. Yep, you heard me right, Merlin’s a martian. Everything else in the story related to the legends of Arthur is very well-researched and lines up with recent historical finds, so the whole martian thing just seemed so out of left field for me. I was glad to get past that section of the book and get lost in the quest.

My other big issue was head-hopping. We jump perspectives a lot (though it does get better toward the end of the book), skipping from one character’s ideas/thoughts/views to another’s with no indication that there is a change until you have to stop for a moment and figure out whose eyes you are looking through. It makes it a bit hard sometimes to stay in the flow of the story.

Yet, Orton’s descriptions of the scenery in Scotland are absolutely lovely. I was mesmerized by the beauty he describes and so want to be walking through those glens and alongside those lochs. And the overall plot following Matt’s quest was definitely enjoyable.

So, while it was not a perfect read for me, there was enough to make me kind of like this book and even want to read the next book in the series. If you like your Arthurian legends with a healthy dash of science fiction, you’d enjoy reading this one, too.

Many thanks to Justin Orton and NetGalley for the digital copy of this book for review purposes. I was not required to give a positive review. All opinions are my very own! 🙂

 

**Note for parents of readers: while this is a YA novel (the main character is only 17), I would rate it a PG-13++ for language, violence, and some sexual content. And it is definitely not a Christian novel, so don’t be expecting anything along those lines. 🙂

Spark by J.M. Hackman

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About the book:

Brenna James wants three things for her sixteenth birthday: to find her history notes before the test, to have her mother return from her business trip, and to stop creating fire with her bare hands.

Yeah, that’s so not happening. Unfortunately.

When Brenna learns her mother is missing in an alternate reality called Linneah, she travels through a portal to find her. Against her will. Who knew portals even existed? But Brenna’s arrival in Linneah begins the fulfillment of an ancient prophecy, including a royal murder and the theft of Linneah’s most powerful relic: the Sacred Veil.

Hold up. Can everything just slow down for a sec?

Unwilling yet left with no other choice, Brenna and her new friend Baldwin (Um, hello, Hottie!) pursue the thief into the dangerous woods of Silvastamen and beyond. Exactly what Brenna wanted to do for her sixteenth birthday. Exactly. When they spy an army marching toward Linneah, Brenna is horrified. Can she find the veil, save her mother, and warn Linneah in time?

And more importantly, why on earth doesn’t this alternity have Belgian waffles?


My review:

Spark is J.M. Hackman’s first full-length novel, and I spy a promising career behind Brenna and her Firebrand abilities!

Hackman’s writing style is relaxed, but also drizzled with lyrical imagery and a liberal sprinkling of snark that conveys a perfect teenage girl voice. One of my favorite descriptions was of morning in Linneah: “Dawn had arrived, holding hands with a vivid orange-streaked sky.” Such beautiful imagery! But you can also see the teenage snark in her description of some food in Linneah: “A large platter held a boar lizard roast, which like the cliché, tasted like chicken, but had the consistency of pencil erasers.” 😀

I enjoyed Brenna. She’s a lovely heroine, flawed but feisty. Naïve enough to get herself into bad situations, but also just skeptical enough to get herself back out and all with a sense of humor.

This was only book one of the Firebrand Chronicles, and I’m looking forward to the next book in the series. I’d recommend you grab your own copy of Spark and dive into the adventure! Happy reading! 🙂

Iridescent by Kait Spangler

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About the book:

Things are more than they appear…

Aly Roberts wasn’t expecting much out of small town Airyville, North Carolina. She certainly wasn’t expecting to get caught up in a conspiracy involving the town’s gated community, Lagniappe. The people of Lagniappe are private, and Aly’s new friend, Riley Monroe, is certain that they’re hiding something. Lagniappe’s secrets are dangerous, and uncovering them may just change their lives forever.


My review:

I so wanted to like this book: strange happenings, weird family members, conspiracy theories, superhumans…

But unfortunately, it left too much to be desired for me to recommend you read it. The writing was fairly amateurish, which I could probably have overlooked if the dialogue and plotting would have been stronger.

The main characters are teenagers, but you’d still hope they’d have some common sense locked away somewhere! The young girl is just moving to a new area, and the first person she meets is a boy in her class who is completely obsessed with a nearby housing development. And she still wants to talk to him after she learns this? Aly’s cousin, the one Aly of course thinks is weird, just happens to live in that particular gated community. Why wouldn’t Aly just ask her cousin what’s going on and save everyone in the story a whole lot of trouble? No common sense…

The story got weirder as the writing regressed, and it took all I had to finish reading it. Do I care what happens in the next book in the series? Not really. But I’m guessing the characters will do stupid things which land them in difficult situations that they are miraculously saved from for bizarre reasons.

Sorry, I hate to say this about any book, but I don’t recommend you read this one. It ended up being a bit of a waste of time for me and that breaks my heart. Bummer!

The Pirate Bride by Kathleen Y’Barbo

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About the book:

A Former Privateer and a Desperate Heiress Join Forces to Find a Treasure

Jump on board with a brand new series for fans of all things related to history, romance, adventure, faith, and family trees.

One hundred years after her mother’s family came to the New World on the Mayflower, Maribel Cordova has landed in New Orleans to seek the man who holds the key to finding her father’s lost treasure. Attorney Jean-Luc Valmot has buried his past life so deep that no living person will ever find it—or so he hopes as he accepts a position on the governor’s staff. But the daughter of an infamous pirate threatens all he holds dear. Can Maribel and Jean-Luc compromise so they both can hold onto what they most desire?


My review:

This is the second book in the Daughters of the Mayflower Series: a series of books, written by different authors, all revolving around the descendants of a fictional couple who met on the Mayflower (which is the story recorded in the first book of the series, The Mayflower Bride). I did read the first novel in the series, but you certainly don’t have to read it to understand the story, since they take place about a hundred years apart.

I kind of enjoyed the first part of the story, where Mirabel is a young girl with a love for reading (especially reading about pirates), who is “captured” by privateers and charms them into allowing her to be a member of the crew.

After that, it kind of went downhill for me. I felt like the second part of the book was the Reader’s Digest Condensed Version: the writing seemed rushed and not as developed as it did in the first part. We skip ahead to Maribel as a young lady, teaching in the orphanage she was raised in. Then suddenly her family finds her and all these secrets begin to come to light one after the other. I got to the end and felt like I’d missed something.

And I really didn’t feel like the book blurb (as shown above) truly matched the story that I read, so I was a bit disappointed. It was a quick read and relatively diverting, but I did feel like there was something a bit off about it. Possibly because when they first meet and become somewhat enamored of each other, Maribel is only around eleven, while Jean-Luc is in his early twenties. That was awkward. Nothing untoward happens until they meet again about ten years later at a more appropriate age, but still.

If you need a quick and easy read, try it, but I won’t be putting it in my re-read pile. Which is a bummer, because I do love good historical fiction and pirates usually make any story better (they were the best part of this story!).

Thanks to Barbour Publishing and NetGalley for the digital copy of this book for review purposes. I was not required to give a positive review. All opinions are my very own! 🙂