The Book of Whispers by Kimberley Starr

bookofwhispersFrom the publisher:

Tuscany, 1096 AD. Young aristocrat Luca can see demons invisible to others, but must hide the fact. A powerful book seems to hold the key to their mystery, but he can’t decipher it. In Cappadocia, during a Crusade, Luca encounters Suzan, a girl who can read the book’s cryptic language. Together, Luca and Suzan realize their true quest.

That brief description of the book grabbed me immediately. And the cover is actually pretty cool too, so I thought this might be a good book to try out a new author. Then I read the book…

…and was in no way disappointed 🙂 Starr does a magnificent job of weaving historical fact with demons and magic to create a lush and fascinating tale of the Crusades. I mean, seriously, take a moment in history, add demons, and boom! Way cooler story!

Honestly though, this story, what Starr calls “augmented history,” definitely can make a reader see the Crusades in a new light. There were motivations behind the atrocities of the Crusades, and this story shows that while many of those motivations were impure, there were those who went on the Crusades for true and good reasons as well. If only more of those motivations would have been the driving force, our world may be completely different today. But, as Starr mentions in her author’s note, there are changes we can all make to help create a better world today, and knowing why we do something — knowing that driving motivation behind our own actions and those of the people around us — is one of the most important things we need to have to begin to change the world.

This was a fascinating story and I’d definitely recommend you grab a copy when it is released in September.

Many thanks to Text 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! 🙂

 

The Evaporation of Sofi Snow by Mary Weber

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From the book: “Ever since the Delonese ice-planet arrived eleven years ago, Sofi’s dreams have been vivid. Alien. In a system where Earth’s corporations rule in place of governments and the humanoid race orbiting the moon are allies, her only constant has been her younger brother, Shilo. As an online gamer, Sofi battles behind the scenes of Earth’s Fantasy Fighting arena where Shilo is forced to compete in a mix of real and virtual blood sport. But when a bomb takes out a quarter of the arena, Sofi’s the only one who believes Shilo survived. She has dreams of him. And she’s convinced he’s been taken to the ice-planet.

“Except no one but ambassadors are allowed there.

“For Miguel, Earth’s charming young playboy, the games are of a different sort. As Ambassador to the Delonese, his career has been built on trading secrets and seduction. Until the Fantasy Fight’s bomb goes off. Now the tables have turned and he’s a target for blackmail. The game is simple: Help the blackmailers, or lose more than anyone can fathom, or Earth can afford.”

If you’re like me and you loved Mary Weber’s debut Storm Siren trilogy, don’t expect this series to be the same. It is a completely different world, a completely different genre–but it is just as gripping to read.

It took me a bit to get into the book, because it is so different from her Storm Siren world, but Weber had to build this world, write history for this dystopian Earth society, and give us reason to cheer for or want to strangle her characters (which I absolutely did on both counts). Once I felt at home with the Corps and gamers and ambassadors (and never felt comfortable with the Delonese…), I could not stop reading.

There are so many layers to this story, each one more intense than the one before, and many lessons that can be taught through this book. It could be a great classroom (or dinner table) conversation launcher for issues that we face (or, sadly more often, ignore) in our own society.

But the ending…

 

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*Thanks to BookBub for this pic.

I just have to say, there’d better be another book coming soon! Until then, read it!

Many thanks to Thomas Nelson Fiction and NetGalley for the ARC of this book for review purposes. I was not required to give a positive review. All opinions are my very own! 🙂

 

Recruits by Thomas Locke

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From the Book: “It’s a world they’ve only seen in their dreams–until now.

“Twins Sean and Dillon Kirrel have dreamed about a world beyond their own since they were children, but it has always been a fantasy. Not long before their eighteenth birthday, however, the arrival of a mysterious new neighbor and the revelations he shares bring that far-off world within reach.

“When Sean and Dillon learn they share a unique gift–the ability to transfer instantly between worlds–they are offered an opportunity to prove themselves as recruits to the planetary Assembly. But unlocking their abilities awakens an enemy beyond anything they ever imagined, thrusting them into an interplanetary conflict that could consume the entire human race.”

I love to read Thomas Locke books. His “Legends of the Realm” series is one of my favorites. It’s cool to see an author like Thomas Locke not pigeonhole himself into one specific genre, and Recruits is definitely different from the “Legends of the Realm.” I’d say it’s more similar to his “Fault Lines” series, but for young adults, and with aliens.

But I have to be honest, I wasn’t able to get as into this book as I wanted to. I am more than certain, however, that it was not the writing or character development or anything Thomas Locke did that caused me to be a bit apathetic–I’ve just been too distracted lately. The book was well-written, fast-paced, and kept me wanting to know how it would all turn out. And Locke posited some really interesting ideas about space travel and other planetary populations, that made me go hmmm.

If you like your sci-fi, check this book out. I’d definitely recommend it 🙂

I won this book from Revell in a Goodreads giveaway! So, if you’re on Goodreads, make sure you enter any contest that you actually want to win–they really do work! 🙂

Invitation by Bill Myers, Frank Peretti, Angela Hunt, & Alton Gansky

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From the book: “Four strangers with gifts they don’t understand. A world falling into darkness. This is Harbingers.

“You’re invited on a journey of suspense and the supernatural as four of your favorite bestselling authors team up for a unique series.

“From the minds of Bill Myers, Frank Peretti, Angela Hunt, and Alton Gansky, Invitation compiles the first four episodes of HARBINGERS, each following a different character.

  • Brenda — the street hustling tattoo artist who sees images of the future
  • The Professor — the atheist ex-priest ruled by logic
  • Andi — the professor’s brilliant but geeky assistant who sees inexplicable patterns
  • Tank — the naĂŻve, big-hearted jock with a surprising connection to healing power

“Brought together for the first time in “The Call,” the four soon realize pockets of darkness are emerging throughout the world. Whether it involves a mysterious house, the unexplainable death of animals around the world, or an otherworldly little girl, each puzzle they solve brings them closer to the ultimate explanation of what’s happening. But will they discover the truth in time?”

The idea of this series of collected novellas is wonderful: as they explain in the introduction, this group of author friends wanted to write engaging stories that could be read in one to two sittings. They see it as a kind of game for authors. Each author writes from the perspective of one of the four main characters, and each story builds off of the one before it. The stories are all unique, but work so well together.

They’re creepy and they’re kooky, mysterious and spooky, but altogether pretty darn cool, and I’d seriously recommend you pick up a copy of Invitation, HARBINGERS Cycle #1, as soon as possible. Happy reading!

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

Dreamlander by K.M. Weiland

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From the book: “What if it were possible to live two very different lives in two separate worlds? What if the dreams we awaken from are the fading memories of that second life? What if one day we woke up in the wrong world?

“Every night, a woman on a black warhorse gallops through the mist in Chris Redston’s dreams. Every night, she begs him not to come to her. Every night, she aims her rifle at his head and fires. The last thing Chris expects—or wants—is for this nightmare to be real. But when he wakes up in the world of his dreams, he has to choose between the likelihood that he’s gone spectacularly bonkers or the possibility that he’s just been let in on the secret of the ages.

“Only one person in a generation may cross the worlds. These chosen few are the Gifted, called from Earth into Lael to shape the epochs of history—and Chris is one of them. But before he figures that out, he accidentally endangers both worlds by resurrecting a vengeful prince intent on claiming the powers of the Gifted for himself. Together with a suspicious princess and a guilt-ridden Cherazii warrior, Chris must hurl himself into a battle to save a country from war, two worlds from annihilation, and himself from a dream come way too true.”

I stumbled across K.M. Weiland while on a blog hop, where I was so hoping to win some new books. Alas, I did not win (bummer), but I still managed to snag a book for free. I’ll admit that I’ve gathered quite a collection of free e-books, and many of them have been free for a reason, shall we say — unfortunately, not all of them are well-written, well-edited, or well-done. Dreamlander, on the other hand, was a very pleasant surprise.

With overtones of classics like Lord of the Rings and recent fantastic reads like Carr’s Darkwater Saga, not only is this book very beautifully crafted, with striking imagery, intense emotion, and complex characters, but it drags you into this land of dream vs reality and does not easily let you get back to your own normal, boring life. The story presents such a great premise (“What if your dreams were actually your other life lived in another place?”) with such rich detail and tangibility that you almost find yourself questioning what is real in your own life. It is a story that makes you think and feel and question and evaluate and really want to know what happens after the novel ends.

There is nothing better than a story that grabs you and won’t let you go, even after you’ve gotten to the last page, and Dreamlander is one of those novels for me. I would definitely recommend you snag your own copy. And, to make it even sweeter, it is currently free on Amazon or from K.M. Weiland’s website. Happy reading!

Firstborn by Tosca Lee

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From the publisher: “From New York Times bestselling author Tosca Lee comes the much-anticipated, fast-paced sequel to The Progeny about the powerful descendants of the most notorious female serial killer of all time.

“All at once, she remembers. The memories Audra had erased have returned. And now she knows why she did it.

“Now she must find her archenemy, the Historian, and put an end to the centuries old Progeny/Scion war once and for all. But first she has to rescue Luka, who is being held prisoner by the Scions, all while on the run from the law and struggling with her growing powers and their painful side effects.

“But when a bitter betrayal stalls her plans, Audra doesn’t know who to trust. With the help of a heretic monk, her Progeny friends, and the hacker, Jester, Audra fights to defeat the Scions and find a way to save other Progeny in the process. The final confrontation with her surprising nemesis will put her powers to the ultimate test.”

Seriously, I have been waiting (rather impatiently, I might add) more than a year for this sequel to Tosca Lee’s first book in the Descendants of the House of Bathory series (The Progeny, which I reviewed last year). And I actually had to force myself to put the book down and go out into the real world (although the whole time, my mind was flashing back to the story, wondering how it would all work out in the end)!

For me, the final book in a series is often a bit of a downer — it means that I don’t get to live with those characters anymore and, honestly, it hardly ever turns out the way I wanted it to. Not so with Firstborn. While I’m sad that I won’t get to experience life on the run with Audra for the first time ever again, I was totally satisfied with the conclusion of her story. The fast-paced plot twisted and flipped just as much as the first book in the series keeping my attention riveted (especially when I should have been paying attention to other things…). And even though I managed to kind of figure out some of the surprises beforehand, Tosca Lee wrote them in such a marvelous way that I still found myself gasping and smiling as I read.

Do yourself a favor — pick up a copy of Firstborn (and The Progeny, if you have not read it yet. And if you haven’t, what are you waiting for??). Firstborn is available for pre-order now and releases May 2.

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