Friday, April 17, 2020

Suspense that will knock your socks off – Kings Falling by Ronie Kendig

Do you know that feeling when you’re reading a book and you keep checking how much you have left, not because it’s boring and you’re ready to be done with it but because it’s amazing and you don’t want the end to come?

Yeah, like that.

Of course, I already knew that Ronie Kendig writes amazing stories of military suspense from reading her series The Tox Files, and she often adds in a touch of the supernatural via Biblical artifacts. So I was expecting a real thrill ride, both with suspense as well as emotions and in-depth characterizations.

There is no doubt she delivered…and then some.

Leif Metcalfe and his team, dubbed Reaper, need to recover the stolen, ancient Book of the Wars if they hope to stop the Armageddon Coalition and their pursuit of global economic control. But their attention has been diverted by a prophecy in the book that foretells of formidable guardians who will decimate the enemies of ArC. While Iskra Todorova uses her connections in the covert underworld to hunt down the Book of the Wars, Leif and Reaper attempt to neutralize these agents but quickly find themselves outmaneuvered and outgunned.

The more Reaper tries to stop the guardians, the more failure becomes a familiar, antagonistic foe. Friendships are fractured, and the team battles to hold it together long enough to defeat ArC. But as this millennia-old conspiracy creeps closer and closer to home, the implications could tear Leif and the team apart.

This is the second book in what, I believe, will be a three-book series called The Book of the Wars. From Book One: “Mentioned in the pages of the Septuagint but lost to history, the Book of the Wars has resurfaced, and its pages hold secrets—and dangers—never before seen on earth.” The Book of the Wars of the Lord is briefly mentioned in Numbers 21, but it is lost and we have no idea what it is or what is in it.

I did read the first book in the series first, Storm Rising (The Book of the Wars), and loved it!

Kings Falling can be read alone, but I'm glad I read the first book first and got to know the characters. The conflict in the primary romance made more sense because I had begun with the first book. In Book Two, the suspense continues at a furious pace.

The main hero, Leif (don’t you LOVE that name?), is missing six months of memories. Dangerous memories. And that provides that tantalizing bookish agony of having to wait to learn something more about the hero. I kept flipping the pages, looking for that moment when he would learn something more so that I could learn something more.

All the characters are so real that I felt as if I was living the story with them. At times, I wanted to pray for them, for their safety, for their inner turmoil, for their relationships with each other. That’s the sign of a compelling novel. Every single page was full-to-bursting of that deliciously maddening suspense that keeps you up until two o’clock in the morning…whether it be physical, emotional, or psychological suspense.

My favorite lines ~
“Do you ever think it’ll be you next?” Saito asked as they waited for their contact.
“Next for what?”
“One of these Neiothen,” Saito said, thumbing absently through a magazine yet staying eyes out. “I mean, if you think about it, couldn’t any of us be one? And that is crazy. They have no idea they’re assassins, but then they cut ties with sanity and deliver death in a handbasket.” He tossed aside the magazine and huffed. “What if we suddenly go ape?” His brown eyes nailed Leif.

And now, I must read Book Three! As soon as I post this, I'm checking when it releases!

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Monday, February 24, 2020

Five Reasons to Read Kathleen Fuller’s The Innkeeper’s Bride

If you know me at all, have read my blog for long, or are aware of my own published books, you know I enjoy anything Amish. So when Kathleen Fuller’s latest Amish book popped up, I knew it would shoot to the top of my to-be-read list. Apparently, it’s the third book in the Brides of Birch Creek series, but I didn’t know that when I read it, and it can definitely be read as a stand-alone.

The blurb ~

With two matchmakers on the loose in the Amish community of Birch Creek, the new innkeeper doesn’t stand a chance in this sweet Amish romance.

When Selah Ropp returns to Birch Creek, she is a different person than when she left. I know I haven’t done much listening in the past, Lord, she prays. But I’m listening now. Her new friend, Cevilla Schlabach, urges her to let go of regrets and allow this to be a fresh start. Cevilla herself, though, hides a secret longing behind her weathered face.

Levi Stoll and his family spent a year transforming a large English house into a small inn. Now that they are open for business, Levi is pleased to have Selah join them as an employee—as long as his grandmother doesn’t try any matchmaking schemes on the two of them. After all, Selah seems as guarded as he feels, and the last thing he wants is for anyone to remind him of his history.

With Kathleen Fuller’s trademark humor and memorable characters, The Innkeeper’s Bride reminds us that God’s grace in the present and our hope for the future is stronger than any pain of the past.

So, without further throat-clearing, here are my five reasons to read The Innkeeper's Bride (An Amish Brides of Birch Creek Novel) ~

The hero has glasses. Too many heroes are achingly handsome with chiseled good looks, and too many heroines are gorgeous with flowing blonde hair. It endears a hero or heroine to me when the person isn’t perfect. Romance isn’t just for those our culture says have the perfect appearance. This hero has glasses, and the heroine thinks he’s cute.

Grumpy grandmothers. Well, one isn’t a grandmother, but she’s old enough. What makes this fun is that they grouch at each other. Each is right…and each is wrong at times. But it’s two women, set in their own ways, trying to forge a relationship under some difficult circumstances. It’s a realistic but humorous view of the difficulties – and rewards – of friendships at any age.

A subplot romance between octogenarians. Romance isn’t just for those in their twenties. And those who are grandparents have additional concerns with a new relationship...their grown children and grandchildren who may or may not approve. Kathleen Fuller handles this well.
Snowed in. I love winter weather! Bundling up in hats and scarves and mittens, making hot chocolate, digging out from several inches of snow…how romantic!

An Englischer who does the right thing. Another subplot involves the Englisch son of a rival hotel owner. My first impression of the son was not a good one, and I worried over what he was going to do. He’s smart and educated, and in the end, though, I wished there had been more of him in the book. I wonder if he might get his own book in the series in the future?

Overall, The Innkeeper's Bride (An Amish Brides of Birch Creek Novel) was a gentle, relaxing read with just enough intrigue to keep me interested. I thoroughly enjoyed this little bit of Amish country and wished for a room for myself at the inn.

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*I received a copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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Tuesday, February 11, 2020

A Rather Blas̩ Title for What Is Actually an Exciting World War II Story РThe Socialite

It’s another historical novel for review in this post, which is a little unusual since I don’t typically read a lot of historical fiction. But this isn’t your average historical…it reads a lot like suspense. Set within occupied France in the early stages of World War II, how could it not?

The blurb for The Socialite ~

Glamour, treachery, and espionage collide when an English socialite rushes to save her sister from the Nazis.

As the daughter of Sir Alfred Whitford, Kat has a certain set of responsibilities. But chasing her wayward sister, Ellie, to Nazi-occupied Paris was never supposed to be one of them. Now accustomed to the luxurious lifestyle that her Nazi boyfriend provides, Ellie has no intention of going back to the shackled life their parents dictate for them—but Kat will stop at nothing to bring her sister home.

Arrested for simply trying to defend himself against a drunken bully, Barrett Anderson is given the option of going to jail or serving out his sentence by training Resistance fighters in Paris. A bar owner serves as the perfect disguise to entertain Nazis at night while training fighters right below their jackboots during the day. Being assigned to watch over two English debutantes is the last thing he needs, but a payout from their father is too tempting to resist. Can Barrett and Kat trust each other long enough to survive, or will their hearts prove more traitorous than the dangers waiting around the corner?

World War II is a fascinating time to study, and in this story, it creates the conflict between the hero and heroine. If not for the heroine’s sister running away to France, I doubt the heroine and hero would have even met. The war was a tragic time in our world history that layers veils of tragedy and worry and unimaginable sadness to the characters.

A lot of what we learn about the heroine is through her thoughts of her sister. Her younger sister is flighty and impulsive and obsessed with herself and having fun. Because of this, she has put herself into an unimaginably horrible situation…an affair with a Nazi officer. The heroine is responsible and dutiful, and yet there is a hint of rebellion in her as well, at least toward a father who is perceived as controlling and heavy-handed.

Even as I was getting to know the sisters, I already felt like praying for the younger sister to get her life together. I couldn’t see how a relationship with a Nazi officer could ever come out right. The introduction to the hero was equally intriguing as he describes himself as a “desperate fool who craved the hefty paycheck that came with accepting the side deal.”

In the first half of the book, the reader learns interesting tidbits about life in occupied France before all-out war began and the German procedures as they took over a country and began their process of making everyone and everything there German. British and French music was cleverly arranged to sound German, although the British and French citizens there would have known the tune to be their own. Fashion was also a challenge since everything was either rationed or unavailable. “Plucking an outdated Parisian magazine from her travel bag, Kat flipped open to the feature article. ‘Oh, look. Ten new patterns for transforming your faded dress into updated pieces using tablecloths and window dressings. Look, Ellie. Isn’t that darling? You can cut up a floral drape and make stripes on a white skirt. Voila! A new skirt.’” How about scraping every little bit of lipstick from the tube because of rationing? Or the Nazis edging into open water in the 1930s to test the United States?
Eventually, the hero and heroine must pretend to be romantically involved to gain the trust of the Nazi officer. A war effort, although I'm not sure of their mission. It's been done before, many times, but it's a favorite. This author does it well.

And then there’s spying!

At times, the romance is a little too physical for my preferences — “desire burned in his eyes” several times — to the point where I wondered if they had even gotten to know each other enough to fall in love. The heroine’s control of the romance at the end also would not have been my preferred happily-ever-after.

But this story is not just a romance. This is drama of the highest degree. War definitely changes everything, and when a twist I had not anticipated clunked me on the head, I was ready to pray for the sisters. Yes, choices have consequences, but they aren't usually that life-changing or destroying.

My favorite lines ~
“If there was an award for Best Actress Pretending Not to Hate Her Sister’s Nazi Suitor, the prize was hers for the taking.”

“‘And you always follow the rules, don’t you? No matter who gives them or for what reason. My guess is you don’t ask the reason. You simply obey.’ He shoved his hands into his pockets and peered at her as if he could read the inner workings of her mind. ‘What if these people you’re trying so hard to please are wrong?’”

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*I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.

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