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! 🙂


Salt by Pauline Creeden


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!


Blind Betrayal by Nancy Mehl


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! 🙂


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! 🙂

Spark by J.M. Hackman


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


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


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! 🙂