Book Review: Jupiter Winds

29 Jul

jupiter-winds-400In 2160, a teenager becomes the bait to capture her missing revolutionary parents she thinks are long dead.
Grey Alexander has one goal—to keep herself and her younger sister Orinda alive. Not an easy feat living unconnected in the North American Wildlife Preserve, where they survive by smuggling contraband into the Mazdaar government’s city zones. If the invisible electric border fence doesn’t kill them, a human-like patrol drone could.

When her worst fear comes true, Grey questions everything she she thought she knew about life, her missing parents, and God. Could another planet, whose sky swirls with orange vapors and where extinct-on-Earth creatures roam free, hold the key to reuniting her family?

 

cj-bench-200C. J. Darlington is the award-winning author of Thicker than Blood, Bound by Guilt, and Ties that Bind. In 2006 C. J. started the Christian entertainment Web site TitleTrakk.com with her sister, Tracy, and has been actively promoting Christian fiction ever since. She is a regular contributor to Family Fiction Digital Magazine and NovelCrossing.com. A homeschool graduate, she makes her home in Pennsylvania with her family and their menagerie of dogs, a cat, and a paint horse named Sky.

 

My Impressions:

I read C. J. Darlington’s first novel, Thicker Than Blood, and really loved it. (Read my review HERE.) So when she contacted me about reviewing a YA Sci-Fi novel, I was intrigued. Now I am glad I read it. What a great twisting, turning adventure across the galaxy! Filled with adventure, danger and faith, Jupiter Winds is a must read for your whole family. If you like family read-alongs, this book would be a perfect choice — there is so much to discuss.

Grey Alexander took over the care of her sister Orinda following the disappearance of her parents five years ago. Now at the age of 17, Grey is an accomplished smuggler, eluding the drone patrol on the borders of the Alamo Zone and the North American Preserve. Faced with the dangers of Mazdaar patrols, the wild animals that live in her desert home and the overwhelming struggle for survival, Grey and Rin attempt to not only survive, but thrive. But a deadly encounter with a border patrol and the increased scrutiny of the Mazdaar regime propel Grey and Rin on a galactic trip to Jupiter to find answers and hope for a future.

There is a lot for sci-fi fans to love in Jupiter Winds – high tech gadgets, weapons and space travel. The setting is a post nuclear Earth in which two global governments strive against each other for supremacy. There is persecution of the faithful remnant which pits ruthless oppressors against determined and well-trained rebels. And though the plot is fast-paced, characters are well-developed. Grey and Rin are not your typical teenagers; they have had to learn to survive without their parents in a very hostile environment. But teens and young adults will find much to identify with. Secondary characters are developed as well, allowing the reader to connect with their fears, doubts and victories. And you will love Darlington’s descriptions of the flora, fauna and terrain of Jupiter.

Darlington does a good job of injecting faith into the story. Never preachy, it is, however, foundational for the themes of hope and God’s sovereignty. One verse is repeated throughout the story — If I ascend to heaven, you are there! (Psalm 139:8). This is a particularly relevant verse for the space travelers. Personal freedom as contrasted with the desire for security is also examined.

I highly recommend Jupiter Winds to anyone who wants a well-written book filled with complex characters, an intriguing plot and an imaginative setting. Yes it is science fiction, but it is so much more! I am hoping for more adventures with Grey and Rin.

Highly Recommended.

Great for family read-alongs.

Targeted audience: middle school and above.

(Thanks to the author for a review copy. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)

To purchase this book, click on the image below.

Book Review: The Cuckoos of Batch Magna

28 Jul

Resized-C374EWhen Sir Humphrey Miles Pinkerton Strange, 8th baronet and squire of the village of Batch Magna in the Welsh Marches, departs this world for the Upper House (as he had long vaguely thought of it, where God no doubt presides in ermine over a Heaven as reassuringly familiar as White’s or Boodle’s), what’s left of his decaying estate passes, through the ancient law of entailment, to distant relative Humph, an amiable, overweight short-order cook from the Bronx.

Sir Humphrey Franklin T Strange, 9th baronet and squire of Batch Magna, as Humph now most remarkably finds himself to be, is persuaded by his Uncle Frank, a small time Wall Street broker with an eye on the big time, to make a killing by turning the sleepy backwater into a theme-park image of rural England – a vacation paradise for free-spending US millionaires.

But while the village pub and shop, with the lure of the dollar in their eyes, put out the Stars and Stripes in welcome, the tenants of the estate’s dilapidated houseboats are above any consideration of filthy lucre and stand their ground for tradition’s sake … and because they consider eviction notices not to be cricket.

Each disgruntled faction sees the other as the unwelcome cuckoo in the family nest.

So, led by randy pulp-crime writer Phineas Cook, and Lt-Commander James Cunningham DSO, DSC and Bar, RN (ret) – a man with a glass eye for each day of the week, painted with scenes from famous British naval victories and landscapes that speak of England – the motley crew run up the Union Jack and battle ensign and prepare to engage.

But this is Batch Magna, a place where anything might happen. And does …

author P Maughan-1Peter Maughan features on the list of Critically Acclaimed Independent Authors compiled by the leading book evaluation blog, Awesome Indies. The eBook versions of the books on this list have been evaluated by industry professionals against specific criteria for quality fiction & deemed to be of the same quality of craftsmanship as books published by mainstream publishing houses. The author is also a recipient of the AI’s Gold Seal of Excellence.

An ex-actor, fringe-theatre director and scriptwriter, Peter Maughan is married and lives in the Welsh Marches, the backdrop for the Batch Magna series. The novels feature converted paddle steamers on the fictional River Cluny, and the author is a former houseboat dweller himself, living in the mid-1970s (the time frame for the books) on a converted Thames sailing barge among a small bohemian colony of houseboats on the Medway, deep in rural Kent. An idyllic time, heedless days of freedom in that other world of the river which inspired the novels, set in a place called Batch Magna.

 

My Impressions:

The Cuckoos of Batch Magna sounded like a fun read reminiscent of all those wonderfully quirky British TV shows and aired on PBS here in the States. The premise — a clueless American inherits a rural estate and sets about improving the neighborhood by planning a vacation destination, but ends up displacing and alienating the locals. But unfortunately, this novel by Peter Maughan was not really my cup of tea. I had difficulty connecting or even caring about the characters. There are descriptions that really didn’t add to my interest in the book, such as the lengthy depiction of a cricket match.  But these are only my opinions. The book got a lot of 5 star reviews on Amazon, so check those out to make up your own mind.

Please note: This is not a Christian novel. It contains profanity and adult situations.

Targeted audience: adults

(Thanks to the author for a review ebook. The opinions expressed are mine alone.)

To purchase this book, click on the image below.

Book Review: The Story Keeper

25 Jul

386898Successful New York editor, Jen Gibbs, is at the top of her game with her new position at Vida House Publishing — until a mysterious manuscript from an old slush pile appears on her desk. Turning the pages, Jen finds herself drawn into the life of Sarra, a mixed-race Melungeon girl trapped by dangerous men in the turn of the century Appalachia. A risky hunch may lead to The Story Keeper’s hidden origins and its unknown author, but when the trail turns toward the heart of the Blue Ridge Mountains, a place Jen thought she’d left behind forever, the price of a blockbuster next book deal may be higher than she’s willing to pay.

 

lisawingatepubpicLisa Wingate is an award-winning journalist, magazine columnist, popular inspirational speaker and a national bestselling author of 16 books. Her first mainstream novel, Tending Roses, is in its fifteenth printing from Penguin Putnam. Tending Roses is a staple on the shelves of national bookstore chains as well as in many independent bookstores.

Recently, Lisa’s Blue Sky Hill Series, set in Dallas, received national attention with back-to-back nominations for American Christian Fiction Writers Book of the Year Award for A Month of Summer (2009) and The Summer Kitchen (2010). In 2011, Lisa’s Novel, Never Say Never, won the American Christian Fiction Writers Book of the Year Award. Pithy, emotional, and inspirational, her stories bring to life characters so real that readers often write to ask what is happening to them after the book ends.

Lisa is one of a select group of authors to find success in both the Christian and mainstream markets, writing for both Bethany House, a Christian publisher, and NAL Penguin Putnam, in mainstream fiction. Her bestselling books have become a hallmark of inspirational southern fiction. Her works have been featured by the National Reader’s Club of America, AOL Book Picks, Doubleday Book Club, the Literary Guild, American Profiles and have been chosen for numerous awards.

When not busy dreaming up stories, Lisa spends time on the road as a motivational speaker. Via internet, she shares with readers as far away as India, where her book, Tending Roses, has been used to promote women’s literacy, and as close to home as Tulsa, Oklahoma, where the county library system has used Tending Roses to help volunteer mentors teach adults to read. Recently, the group Americans for More Civility, a kindness watchdog organization, selected Lisa along with Bill Ford, Camille Cosby, and six others, as recipients of the National Civies Award, which celebrates public figures who work to promote greater kindness and civility in American life.

 

My Impressions:

What a great experience I had being a part of Lisa Wingate’s Sisterhood of The Traveling Book. I was chosen to be a part of a group that read Lisa’s newest book The Story Keeper, due out in September.  Sharing insights and stories of our own, we passed the book around. My group is still in the process of reading and reflecting before the book heads back to Lisa in Texas. And while the Sisterhood is certainly special, The Story Keeper is a novel that you will not want to miss.

Jenn Gibbs left her Appalachian roots behind when she moved to New York to pursue a career in publishing. When she takes a new job with Vida House, a mysterious manuscript from the infamous slush pile appears on her desk and she is swept into an intriguing story and again forced to revisit the haunts of her childhood. An elusive author and her demanding family keep Jenn in North Carolina longer than she would like, but she soon discovers that you cannot really escape your past.

Two stories in one kept me turning the pages of The Story Keeper. I was impressed with the many voices that Lisa employed in telling the stories. Lisa masterfully brings to life the places and peoples of Appalachia. Her characters are real and relatable, even Jenn’s sisters who live a life dedicated to a conservative Christian cult. I loved the theme of lives being a compilation of many stories.

The Story Keeper releases on September 1, so be sure to keep a watch out for it. You can pre-order it from Amazon too.

Highly Recommended.

Great for Book Clubs.

(Thanks to Lisa Wingate for the opportunity to read this book. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)

To pre-order The Story Keeper, click on the image below.

Book Review: Bridge to Haven

24 Jul

368184To those who matter in 1950s Hollywood, Lena Scott is the hottest rising star to hit the silver screen since Marilyn Monroe. Few know her real name is Abra. Even fewer know the price she’s paid to finally feel like she’s somebody.

To Pastor Ezekiel Freeman, Abra will always be the little girl who stole his heart the night he found her, a wailing newborn abandoned under a bridge on the outskirts of Haven. Zeke and his son, Joshua—Abra’s closest friend—watch her grow into an exotic beauty. But Zeke knows the circumstances surrounding her birth etched scars deep in her heart, scars that leave her vulnerable to a fast-talking bad boy who proclaims his love and lures her to Tinseltown. Hollywood feels like a million miles from Haven, and naive Abra quickly learns what’s expected of an ambitious girl with stars in her eyes. But fame comes at an awful price. She has burned every bridge to get exactly what she thought she wanted. Now, all she wants is a way back home.

 

 

francine-treeFrancine Rivers began her literary career at the University of Nevada, Reno, where she graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English and Journalism. From 1976 to 1985, she had a successful writing career in the general market and her books were awarded or nominated for numerous awards and prizes. Although raised in a religious home, Francine did not truly encounter Christ until later in life, when she was already a wife, mother of three, and an established romance novelist. Shortly after becoming a born-again Christian in 1986, Francine wrote Redeeming Love as her statement of faith. First published by Bantam Books, and then re-released by Multnomah Publishers in the mid- 1990s, this retelling of the biblical story of Gomer and Hosea set during the time of the California Gold Rush is now considered a classic work of Christian fiction and continues to be one of the Christian Booksellers Association’s top-selling titles; it has held a spot on the Christian bestseller list for nearly a decade.

Since Redeeming Love, Francine has published more than 20 novels with Christian themes – all bestsellers- and she has continued to win both industry acclaim and reader loyalty around the globe. Her Christian novels have been awarded or nominated for numerous awards including the RITA Award, the Christy Award, the ECPA Gold Medallion, and the Holt Medallion in Honor of Outstanding Literary Talent. In 1997, after winning her third RITA award for Inspirational Fiction, Francine was inducted into the Romance Writers’ of America Hall of Fame. In 2007, the feature-length film version of her novel The Last Sin Eater was released in theaters by Fox Faith. In March 2010, Francine officially became a New York Times bestselling author, when Her Mother’s Hope debuted at #12 on the hardcover fiction bestsellers lists. The sequel, Her Daughter’s Dream, debuted at #12 on the same list just 6 months later, in September, 2010. Francine’s novels have been translated into nearly thirty different languages and she enjoys best-seller status in many foreign countries including Germany, The Netherlands, and South Africa.

Francine and her husband Rick live in Northern California and enjoy the time spent with their three grown children and every opportunity to spoil their five grandchildren. She uses her writing to draw closer to the Lord, and that through her work she might worship and praise Jesus for all He has done and is doing in her life.

 

My Impressions:

Francine Rivers’s books are some of my book club’s favorite all-time reads. When asked what book we liked the most in our 11 years of meeting, we overwhelmingly say Redeeming Love. Now we will probably have to declare Bridge to Haven to be our second favorite. All who read Rivers’ newest novel loved it.

Abra Freeman was found as an abandoned newborn under the bridge to the town of Haven. Loved from the beginning, she still struggled with feelings of unworthiness and abandonment. A child that tried desperately to please became a rebellious teenager and ultimately a runaway set on a course to become somebody. But what Abra, now Lena Scott, finds is not love or fame or fortune, but an emptiness that has her running away from who she has become.

Bridge to Haven is an excellent choice for a book club. We found a lot to discuss — great characters, the setting of the Golden Age of Hollywood and themes of unconditional love, the value of life and God’s forgiveness. We found many parallels in Abra’s story with the Prodigal Son of the Bible, as well as the mistakes people make in general. The novel was also deemed unputdownable even though at times it was a difficult read. I first thought the book was a bit predictable, but soon came to the conclusion that the choices that Abra made were predictable because of how often people in real life make the same choices. God must find us very predictable in our sin!

Another winner from Francine Rivers, my book club highly recommends Bridge to Haven.

Highly Recommended.

(I purchased this book for my Kindle. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)

To purchase this book, click on the image below.

Book Review: Firewall

23 Jul

389936After a whirlwind romance, Taryn Young is preparing to board a plane at Houston International Airport, bound for a dream honeymoon, when a bomb decimates the terminal. Injured but still alive, she awakens to discover her husband is missing and they’re both considered prime suspects in the attack. Further, the FBI is convinced her husband isn’t who he appears to be.

Agent Grayson Hall’s number-one priority is to catch those responsible for the day’s act of terror. All evidence is pointing to Taryn and her new husband. But his instinct tells him her pleas of innocence are genuine. Is her naiveté just for show, or could she truly be another victim of a master scheme, possibly linked to the software she recently developed for her company?

With both their lives and reputations on the line, and the media outcry for justice increasing with each passing minute, Taryn and Grayson have no choice but to trust one another . . . and pray they can uncover the truth before they become two more casualties.

 

d-mills-about-picDiAnn Mills is a best-selling author who believes her readers should expect an adventure. She currently has more than fifty-five books published.

Her titles have appeared on the CBA and ECPA bestseller lists and have won placements through the American Christian Fiction Writer’s Carol Awards and Inspirational Reader’s Choice awards. DiAnn won the Christy Award in 2010 and 2011.

DiAnn is a founding board member for American Christian Fiction Writers and a member of Inspirational Writers Alive, Romance Writers of America, and Advanced Writers and Speakers Association. She speaks to various groups and teaches writing workshops around the country. DiAnn is also the Craftsman mentor for the Jerry B. Jenkins Christian Writers Guild and is the 2014 president of RWA’s Faith, Hope, & Love chapter.

She and her husband live in sunny Houston, Texas.

My Impressions:

When DiAnn Mills says she wants her readers to have an adventure she means it! Her newest novel, Firewall, starts off with a bang and the suspense never lets up. If you like romantic suspense, then definitely check out Firewall.

Taryn is a software developer who specializes in protective programs for highly sensitive systems. When she is swept off her feet by the charming Shep, she cannot believe her good fortune. But a dream-come-true honeymoon soon turns into a nightmare as she survives a terror attack and then is implicated in the bombing. Using her considerable analytical skills as well as a healthy dose of martial arts, Taryn continues to elude the bad guys while helping Special Agent Grayson Hall discover who is behind the crimes.

Non-stop action is the hallmark of Firewall. Taryn and Grayson go from one impossible situation to the next, dodging kidnappers and evading assassins. There are sparks between the two main characters, but Mills handles it in a realistic way. Both are cautious and their circumstances warrant it. The mystery continues to the very end — I did not see the final showdown coming! There is also a great dog character for animal lovers. Faith is explored as Taryn discovers new belief in God and Grayson continues a life dependent on Him.

So for a great reading adventure filled with adrenaline and didn’t-see-it-coming surprises, check out Firewall.

Recommended.

(Thanks to Revell for a review copy. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)

To purchase a copy of this book, click on the image below.

Christian Science Fiction And Fantasy Blog Tour — The Warden And The Wolf King by Andrew Peterson

22 Jul

The folks at The CSFF are touring Andrew Peterson’s latest offering in the Wingfeather Saga, The Warden And The Wolf King. I did not read this book, but want to make sure you find out all about it. Make sure to check out the book synopsis, author info and of course the links to other participants on the tour.

 

9c86dab387630aeaf362628bde976d194f7fd173All winter long, people in the Green Hollows have prepared for a final battle with Gnag the Nameless and the Fangs of Dang. Janner, Kalmar, and Leeli—Throne Warden, Wolf King, and Song Maiden of Anniera—are ready and willing to fight alongside the Hollowsfolk, but when the Fangs make the first move and invade Ban Rona, the children are separated. Janner is alone and lost in the hills; Leeli is fighting the Fangs from the rooftops of the city; and Kalmar, who carries a terrible secret, is on a course for the Deeps of Throg. Meanwhile in Skree, Sara Cobbler and Maraly Weaver care for the broken Artham Wingfeather as Fangs muster for battle across the Mighty River Blapp.

Sea dragons lurk in the waters. Wicked Stranders crawl through the burrows. Ridgerunners and trolls prowl the land. Cloven haunt the forest. Monsters and Fangs and villains lie between the children and their only hope of victory—in the epic conclusion of The Wingfeather Saga.

 

To purchase this book, click on the image below.

 

 

bioThe son of a pastor, Andrew Peterson spent his childhood in the rural farm town of Monticello, Illinois. Peterson’s family relocated to Florida when he was seven. His parents originated from that state. After living outside of Jacksonville for a few years, his family settled in Lake Butler. Peterson graduated from Florida Christian College in 1997. He lives in Nashville, Tennessee with his wife Jamie, sons Aedan and Asher, and daughter Skye.

 

CSFF Blog Tour Participants

Keanan Brand
Pauline Creeden
Vicky DealSharingAunt
Carol Gehringer
Victor Gentile
Ryan Heart
Bruce Hennigan
Jason Joyner
Carol Keen
Krystine Kercher
Shannon McDermott
Meagan @ Blooming with Books
Rebecca LuElla Miller
Nissa
Writer Rani
Nathan Reimer
Chawna Schroeder
Jojo Sutis
Rachel Starr Thomson
Shane Werlinger
Phyllis Wheeler

Christmas in July Giveaway Hop

21 Jul

It’s time for another book giveaway! This time I am participating in the Christmas in July Giveaway Hop hosted by I Am A Reader and Laurie Here. Check out all the bloggers giving away books and bookish stuff HERE.

Christmas-in-July-Giveaway-Hop

I am giving away 3 award winning books (see below). 3 books — 3 winners! To enter,  just leave me a comment with which book you would like to win. Good luck!

683769_w185Iscariot by Tosca Lee (2014 ECPA Book of The Year — Fiction)

Judas Iscariot…the name of Judas conjures up the ultimate betrayer. What could possibly bring him to such a vile decision to betray Jesus? Tosca Lee brilliantly captures Judas’ life; why he chose to follow Jesus when he was a respected scholar, what he witnesses day after day being near and speaking with Jesus. You will be captivated by every nuance of Judas’ story as he walked with Jesus and Judas’ history that led him to that point. Why did Jesus choose the path that he chose, from angering those in esteemed positions by not just allowing those who were “unclean” near him, but encouraging their presence? Judas struggled to understand Jesus’ motives and questioned them all along the way. The places where you question how and what Jesus did are brilliantly speculated by Tosca Lee in the amazing story of Iscariot.

731472Burning Sky by Lori Benton (Three 2014 Christy Awards — Book of The Year, Debut Novel, Historical Novel)

Abducted by Mohawk Indians at fourteen and renamed Burning Sky, Willa Obenchain is driven to return to her family’s New York frontier homestead after many years building a life with the People. At the boundary of her father’s property, Willa discovers a wounded Scotsman lying in her path. Feeling obliged to nurse his injuries, the two quickly find much has changed during her twelve-year absence—her childhood home is in disrepair, her missing parents are rumored to be Tories, and the young Richard Waring she once admired is now grown into a man twisted by the horrors of war and claiming ownership of the Obenchain land.

When her Mohawk brother arrives and questions her place in the white world, the cultural divide blurs Willa’s vision. Can she follow Tames-His-Horse back to the People now that she is no longer Burning Sky? And what about Neil MacGregor, the kind and loyal botanist who does not fit into in her plan for a solitary life, yet is now helping her revive her farm? In the aftermath of the Revolutionary War, strong feelings against “savages” abound in the nearby village of Shiloh, leaving Willa’s safety unsure.

Willa is a woman caught between two worlds. As tensions rise, challenging her shielded heart, the woman called Burning Sky must find a new courage–the courage to again risk embracing the blessings the Almighty wants to bestow. Is she brave enough to love again?

366418_w185Wings Of Glass by Gina Holmes (2014 Inspy Award — General Fiction)

From the best-selling author of Crossing Oceans comes a heartrending yet uplifting story of friendship and redemption. On the cusp of adulthood, eighteen-year-old Penny Carson is swept off her feet by a handsome farmhand with a confident swagger. Though Trent Taylor seems like Prince Charming and offers an escape from her one-stop-sign town, Penny’s happily-ever-after lasts no longer than their breakneck courtship. Before the ink even dries on their marriage certificate, he hits her for the first time. It isn’t the last, yet the bruises that can’t be seen are the most painful of all.

When Trent is injured in a welding accident and his paycheck stops, he has no choice but to finally allow Penny to take a job cleaning houses. Here she meets two women from very different worlds who will teach her to live and laugh again, and lend her their backbones just long enough for her to find her own.

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