What Blooms from Dust by James Markert

 

what blooms from dust

About the book:

Just as Jeremiah Goodbye is set to meet his fate in the electric chair, a tornado tears down the prison walls, and he is given a second chance at life. With the flip of a coin, he decides to return to his home town of Nowhere, Oklahoma, to settle the score with his twin brother Josiah. But upon his escape, he enters a world he doesn’t recognize—one that has been overtaken by the Dust Bowl. And the gift he once relied on to guide him is as unrecognizable as the path back to Nowhere.

After one jolt in Old Sparky, Jeremiah sees things more clearly and begins to question the mysterious circumstances surrounding the murders he was accused of. On his journey home, he accidentally rescues a young boy who follows him the rest of the way, and the pair arrive at their destination where they are greeted by fearful townspeople. When the Black Sunday storm hits the very next day, the residents of Nowhere finally begin to let the past few years of hardship bury them under the weight of all that dust.

Unlikely heroes, Jeremiah and his new companion, Peter Cotton, try to protect the townspeople from themselves, but Jeremiah must face his nightmares and free himself from the guilt of flipping the coin on those men who died.

Filled with mystery and magic, What Blooms from Dust is the story of finding hope in the midst of darkness and discovering the beauty of unexpected kindness.


My review:

Though I’ve wanted to for a while, I’ve never read James Markert before. I knew that he wrote historical fiction, which I thoroughly enjoy reading, so I thought I’d give one of his books a go. Wow! I was overwhelmingly impressed by this book and can’t wait to grab another of his.

What Blooms from Dust is so much more than just a historical fiction set in Oklahoma during the Dust Bowl. It’s a story of looking beyond the surface to the heart, of the freedom found only in truth, of the beauty of redemption. Markert’s writing reminds me a bit of Billy Coffey—that relaxed, Southern rhythm, mixed with a dose of the supernatural, and shaken with a twist of the unknown. In other words, beautiful!

One of the most impressive characters (in a loose sense) in the story for me was the dust itself—the power it wielded over the people and how it could so change someone was both mind-blowing and heart-breaking. Although this was definitely a fictional account of the Dust Bowl, it still granted me a deeper respect for those who persevered through that time in America’s history.

This is a powerful story that will leave you almost as breathless as the characters battling the Dust Bowl. I highly recommend you pick up your own copy of What Blooms from Dust and a box of Kleenex.

Many thanks to Thomas Nelson and the BookLook Blogger Review Program for the copy of this novel for review purposes. I was not required to give a positive review. All opinions are my very own! 🙂

Advertisements

Salt by Pauline Creeden

Salt

About the book:

Her kind treats her as less-than-human, but she’s always been so much more.

Mermaid life has never been easy for Verona. Her scars give evidence of her abuse. When her day of reckoning arrives, she is determined to endure exile. According to her father’s experience, exile is better than becoming a land-walker and risking her life among the humans.

However, when she saves the life of a drowning human boy, she inadvertently sets off a chain of events which force her to choose a path: stay with the humans she has become attached to or return home to a life of scorn. A savage hunter draws closer, threatening even the humans. Her only hope is to keep everyone safe until the next full moon, but those around her devise their own plans.


My review:

This was an okay read, but I honestly can’t say that I loved it. It was your typical mermaid story, a modern version of The Little Mermaid. I like mermaid stories, but this one just wasn’t able to keep me wanting to find out what was going to happen next or how the characters would react to the obstacles the author threw at them.

In fact, I found that most of the obstacles were to be expected, fairly typical mermaid tropes. And the villains…oh, the villains. The villains felt to me as if she needed bad guys, so she picked some random evil characters (werewolves & witches) and threw them in. There was no real substance to them, so I couldn’t even summon the energy to really dislike them or fear for the characters’ safety.

I never like to give a less than happy review, but unless you can’t get enough stories about mermaids, I just can’t recommend you take time out of your already busy day to read this one. Bummer!

 

The Electrical Menagerie by Mollie Reeder

 

39719906About the book:

For fans of Caraval and The Greatest Showman: a quest for fame and fortune in a stardust-powered empire brings debt, scandal, and danger in spades.

The Electrical Menagerie, one-of-a-kind robotic roadshow, is bankrupt.

Sylvester Carthage, illusionist and engineer, has the eccentric imagination the Menagerie needs to succeed creatively — but none of the people skills. Fast-talking Arbrook Huxley, meanwhile, has all the savvy the Menagerie needs to succeed commercially — but none of the scruples.

To save their show, Carthage & Huxley stake everything in a royal talent competition, vying for the once-in-a-lifetime chance to perform for the Future Celestial Queen. In this stardust-and-spark-powered empire of floating islands and flying trains, the Menagerie’s bid at fame and fortune means weathering the glamorous and cutthroat world of critics, high society, and rival magicians — but with real conspiracy lurking beneath tabloid controversy, there’s more at stake in this contest than the prize.

Behind the glittery haze of flash paper and mirrors, every competitor has something to hide… and it’s the lies Carthage & Huxley tell each other that may cost them everything.


My review:

I had no idea what to expect from this book, but I seriously devoured it!

Mollie Reeder has crafted a cast of characters you can’t keep yourself from becoming emotionally involved with. Each character is both damaged and redeemed, lovable and frustrating. Carthage and Huxley are a fabulous pair, a kind of steampunk Oscar and Felix. And I now have a special place in my heart for Dominic (I honestly never thought I’d find a robot loveable, but…) Okay, not every character is loveable—her villains and red herrings are properly villainous, but still done well enough that you’re left guessing who really is behind everything till nearly the end of the story.

And the idea of a traveling circus made up of illusions and robots? Genius! I so enjoyed reading about Carthage’s fantastical demonstrations and all of the work that went into each one. While it was completely fictional, it still gave me a new respect for both the art and the intelligence of illusion.

Overall, The Electrical Menagerie was a very entertaining read, and I look forward to the next adventure in the Celestial Isles. I’d highly recommend you grab your own copy 🙂

Blind Betrayal by Nancy Mehl

217791_1_ftc

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! 🙂

 

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!

BloodOfKingsTrilogyButton-1024x625

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

captured bride

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

51dhAw3tJIL

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. 🙂