Friday, February 27, 2015

Unbound by J.B. Simmons

Unbound is an apocalyptic thriller by J.B. Simmons. The first book in The Omega Trilogy follows 18-year-old Elijah as his nightmares of a dragon turn into reality when the beast of the end times is released.

Simmons offers a fascinating glimpse into the way our world could look in 50 years. Mixing futuristic technology with historical places and end-times theology, Unbound is both thoughtful and entertaining. As many reviewers have said (including me! see below), you won't be able to put it down.


About the book:
From the back cover:
He must be released for a little while.
But the one who sees doesn't believe.


Elijah Goldsmith has nightmares he needs to ignore. Why would a rich kid from Manhattan dream three straight nights about a dragon and the destruction of St. Peter's Basilica? He's never even been to Rome.

It's bad timing, too. He's graduating soon and applying to be a spy in the International Security Agency. That's where he meets Naomi. She's the kind of girl who makes boys like Elijah want to share their secrets. Were they brought together to learn what his secrets mean? There's more to their sparks than they think.

This is 2066. The year the world ends.


About the author:
J.B. Simmons writes thrillers with an apocalyptic twist, and political philosophy clothed in fantasy. His latest novel, Unbound, is the first book in The Omega Trilogy. Book two, Clothed with the Sun, released February 27, 2015.

The Omega Trilogy is his second series. in his Gloaming books, J.B. carries the torch of Tolkein and C.S. Lewis into an underground city with an exiled prince. The Gloaming's characters champion the philosophies of history's great thinkers and bring them to battle.

J.B. lives outside Washington, DC, with his wife, two toddlers, and an intriguing day job. He writes before dawn and runs all day. His secret fuel: coffee and leftover juice boxes.

Well-educated and highly articulate, the emerging author has learned to combine his love of fiction with his own creativity.

When asked why he became a writer, J.B. points to a defining moment early in his career. Late one night, he was sitting in a windowless office toiling over a legal brief. "It was a season of questions: who am I, why am I here, what am I doing? An answer flashed in my mind like a bolt of lightning: 'You are a writer.' Ever since, I have felt peace when filling a page with words. I am a writer."

J.B. went to law school with the main goal of becoming a better writer. Years of practice in the professional legal world have honed his skills—because in law and in fiction, every word must have a purpose, chosen with care. J.B. writes smart fiction. Picking up what he can from his favorite novelists, he strikes a chord between the crispness of Hemingway, the complexity of Faulkner, and the accessibility of C.S. Lewis.

J.B. is a graduate of the University of North Carolina and the University of Virginia.

Learn more at http://jbsimmons.com.


Margie's comments: As I hinted at above, I did have a hard time putting Unbound down. It held my attention from start to finish. The first chapter plops the reader right into the action, and the story doesn't really let you go even at the end, where the narrative lets you know there is another book coming. In fact, that's probably the only thing that detracts from the reading for me. I like to feel like a book is completely standalone, even in a series. While the story did wrap up the particular vision this book reveals and leaves Elijah and Naomi recouping their strength for the next phase of their work, it still was a little open-ended for me. At least I don't have to wait for the next book, Clothed with the Sun, to read the next installment, since it released today.

The characters in Unbound are well developed and interesting. The technology as the author sees it in 2066 is intriguing. Elijah is fascinated with Naomi, but is not sure what to do with his dreams or her faith. She introduces him to more people of faith in order to get answers to his dreams. So not only is he having these nightmares that keep increasing in intensity, he's having to learn a belief system that is totally foreign to him.

I highly recommend Unbound to readers who enjoy apocalyptic thrillers. And I look forward to reading more from this author.

**I received this book from The Believers Media group in exchange for a review.**



Monday, February 16, 2015

Return to Exile by Lynne Gentry


Return to Exile (Howard Books, January 2015)

About the book:

How far would you go to save the ones you love?

Six years ago, impossible circumstances forced Dr. Lisbeth Hastings to leave behind the love of her life, not just in another country, but in another time. Her work as a top-notch epidemiologist and parenting her little girl helps alleviate the pain, but at night when her exhausted head hits the pillow, images of her beloved Cyprian haunt her sleep.

Cyprian Thascius returns from political exile a broken man. He’s lost his faith, the love of his life, and his purpose. He attempts to move on, to face the danger that is looming over Carthage, but when Cyprian’s true love suddenly reappears, his heart becomes as imperiled as the fledgling church he seeks to save.

Have the years that kept Lisbeth and Cyprian apart created too wide a chasm to bridge? In the midst of a new epidemic and rising oppression, will their love be the most costly fatality? Filled with gripping action and raw emotion, this spell-binding adventure of star-crossed lovers captivates with every turn of the page in this electric continuation of The Carthage Chronicles.



About the author:

Lynne Gentry has written for numerous publications. She is a professional acting coach, theater director, and playwright. Lynne is an inspirational speaker and dramatic performer who loves spending time with her family and medical therapy dog.






Margie’s Comments: I have enjoyed reading Lynne Gentry’s The Carthage Chronicles, including the “e-shorts” A Perfect Fit and Shades of Surrender, and the first book in this series The Healer of Carthage. While these novels include a bit of time travel, putting modern women into ancient Carthage, I didn’t find it difficult to make that suspension of belief to enjoy the stories. The rich historical detail, the medical details, and the full body of characters in the series make for an entertaining read. Lisbeth and her mother Magadalena both are victims of a time portal but learn to adapt their medical training to deal with epidemics that had no cure in the ancient world. In Return to Exile, the second book in this series, Lisbeth makes the return to ancient Carthage when Cyprian, her husband, is released from exile where he’d been sent because of his Christian beliefs. Together they struggle to keep the church going as they begin to deal with yet another epidemic, this time typhoid fever. When their daughter contracts the deadly disease, they know the only way she will survive is for Lisbeth to take her back into the modern world. While the book is a standalone story, the book still ends with a cliffhanger, making the wait for the concluding book in the series difficult. But that is my only complaint about the book. For a rich reading experience, I highly recommend Return to Exile by Lynne Gentry.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Beyond All Dreams by Elizabeth Camden



Beyond All Dreams (Bethany House, January 2015)

Is bringing the truth to light worth risking all they’ve ever dreamed for their futures?
Anna O’Brien leads a predictable and quiet life as a map librarian at the illustrious Library of Congress until she stumbles across the baffling mystery of a ship disappeared at sea. Thwarted in her attempts to uncover information, her determination outweighs her shyness and she turns to a dashing congressman for help.

Luke Callahan was one of the nation’s most powerful congressmen before his promising career was shadowed in scandal. Eager to share in a new cause and intrigued by the winsome librarian, he joins forces with Anna to solve the mystery of the lost ship. Opposites in every way, Anna and Luke are unexpectedly drawn to each other despite the strict rules forbidding Anna from any romantic entanglements with members of Congress.

From the gilded halls of the Capitol where powerful men shape the future of the nation, to the scholarly archives of the nation’s finest library, Anna and Luke are soon embroiled in secrets much bigger and more perilous than they ever imagined. Is bringing the truth to light worth risking all they’ve ever dreamed for their futures?
 
Learn more and purchase a copy at Elizabeth’s website.


Elizabeth Camden is the author of six books and a RITA and Christy Award winner. With a master's in history and a master's in library science, she is a research librarian by day and scribbles away on her next novel by night. Elizabeth lives with her husband in Florida.



Margie’s Comments: Beyond All Dreams by Elizabeth Camden is one of those rare books I had trouble putting down in order to get other things done. The author has vividly brought to life the world of late-nineteenth century Washington D.C. The events of that time and how they affected not only the policy makers but also their constituents both in our nation’s capitol and in their home states is fascinating. The characters are well developed and by the end of the first chapter I had fallen in love with both Anna and Luke. As the title suggests, the dreams and aspirations of the characters peopling this story world are pursued and many are realized beyond what they expected. The romantic tension between Anna and Luke was another factor that kept me reading, just to see what would happen next. I highly recommend Beyond All Dreams.

New from Elizabeth Camden | ‘Beyond All Dreams’ Kindle Fire Giveaway and Author Chat Party

Travel back in time to the U.S. Capitol and the Library of Congress in Elizabeth Camden's newest release, Beyond All Dreams. From the gilded halls of the Capitol where powerful men shape the future of the nation, to the scholarly archives of the nation's finest library, Anna and Luke are soon embroiled in secrets much bigger and more perilous than they ever imagined. Is bringing the truth to light worth risking all they've ever dreamed for their futures?



Elizabeth is celebrating the release of Beyond All Dreams with a Kindle giveaway and Facebook party on February 17.




beyondalldreams-400

One grand prize winner will receive:



  • A Kindle Fire

  • One copy of Beyond All Dreams


Enter today by clicking the icon below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on 2/17. Winner will be announced at Elizabeth's 2/17 Beyond All Dreams Facebook author chat party. RSVP for a chance to connect with Elizabeth and historical fiction fans, as well as for the opportunity to win some great prizes!



beyondalldreams-enterbanner


{NOT ON FACEBOOK? ENTER HERE.}


RSVP today and spread the word—tell your friends about the giveaway via FACEBOOK, TWITTER, or PINTEREST and increase your chances of winning. Hope to see you on the 17th!

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Emissary by Thomas Locke



About the Author:
Thomas Locke (pseudonym of Davis Bunn) is an award-winning novelist with total worldwide sales of seven million copies.

His work has been published in twenty languages, and critical acclaim includes four Christy Awards for excellence in fiction and his 2014 induction into the Christy Hall of Fame.

Thomas divides his time between Florida and England, where he serves as Writer In Residence at Regent's Park College, Oxford University. He holds a lifelong passion for epic fantasy, science fiction and techno-thriller stories.

Thomas's screenplay adaption of Emissary is under development as a feature film with a British production company.

Contact Thomas at info@tlocke.com


About the Book:
Except for the healing arts, magicking is a punishable offense in the realm. The only places it is still practiced are the Long Halls scattered throughout the land–isolated haunts of wizards called mages and their long-suffering students.

But hidden rivers of power course deep beneath the earth, and not everyone has obeyed the edict banning magic. Vixens lie in wait on the Galwyn road. A mysterious race of telepaths comes and goes invisibly. It is even rumored that Elves still hide among the wizened trees. And somewhere beyond the badlands, a growing menace threatens the hard-won peace of the realm.

Hyam has always shown a remarkable ability to master languages, even those left unspoken for a thousand years. But now the shadow of suspicion that was cast upon him as a child prodigy at Long Hall is lengthening, and he must keep his identity hidden–or face annihilation.

As Hyam's mother slips toward death, she implores him to return to Long Hall before he settles down to farm his land. This journey born from duty becomes an impassioned quest for the truth. War is coming swiftly, and Hyam must rely upon his newfound powers and the friends he meets along the way in order to unravel the puzzling past and ensure that he–and the realm–will have a future.

This young man could stem the ominous tide . . . but only by turning away from everyone and everything he has ever known. And facing dangers he cannot fathom.


Margie's Comments: I have one word to describe Emissary by Thomas Locke: Wow! Seriously, I could hardly put the book down. And a couple of weeks later, I’m still processing it all. Thomas Locke, as Davis Bunn, is a master storyteller, and his first book in a “new-to-him-genre”—epic fantasy—is amazing. The characters are well developed, and I love the world the author has created for them. I highly recommend this book to lovers of epic fantasy. Check out the author’s website—http://tlocke.com/—to sign up for his newsletter and blog posts that will let you know about upcoming books.  

A Brush with Love by Rachel Hauck

About the book:
A Brush with Love | A Year of Weddings novella (Zondervan, January 2015)
Ginger Winters is a gifted hairstylist with scars no one can see. The last thing she expects from the New Year is a new chance at love.
Overcoming a childhood tragedy, Ginger emerges from the pain and trauma with a gift for bringing out the beauty in others. From the top big city salons to traveling the world as personal stylist to a country music sensation, success was almost enough to make Ginger forget her she would never be one of the beautiful people.

Almost. Now that she’s back home in Rosebud, Alabama and running her own salon, the truth remains: Ginger is still that girl, forever on the outside looking in. But she needs her confidence this weekend. She’s the acclaimed “beauty-maker” for the Alabama society wedding of the decade.
When high-school crush Tom Wells Jr. also returns to town and shows up at her shop looking for a haircut, Ginger’s thinly veiled insecurities threaten to keep her locked away from love, Despite Tom’s best efforts, Ginger can’t forget how he disappeared on her twelve years ago and broke her heart. Can she ever trust him again?

When Tom challenges her to see her own beauty, Ginger must decide if she will remained chained to the past or move freely into a new, exciting future.

Learn more and purchase a copy at Rachel’s website.


About the author:
Rachel Hauck is an award-winning, best selling author of critically acclaimed novels such as “The Wedding Dress,” “Love Starts with Elle,” and “Once Upon A Prince.” She also penned the Songbird Novels with multi-platinum recording artist, Sara Evans. Booklist named their novel, “Softly and Tenderly,” one of 2011 Top Ten Inspirationals. She serves on the Executive Board for American Christian Fiction Writers and is a mentor and book therapist at My Book Therapy, and conference speaker. Rachel lives in central Florida with her husband and pets.
Find out more about Rachel at http://www.rachelhauck.com/






Margie's Comments: A Brush with Love by Rachel Hauck was a wonderful way to start off my reading in 2015.  It is a heartwarming love story, is a quick read (novella), and has a challenging spiritual thread that doesn't beat you over the head. The characters are well-developed. The only thing I didn't like about the plot is that it wasn't long enough! But the author does state in her acknowledgments that she had enough material to write a full-length book. Truly, it has an excellent plot. I highly recommend this book for those who love romance and/or those who only have time for a quick read.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

A Stitch in Crime by Cathy Elliott



This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

A Stitch in Crime

Abingdon Press (January 20, 2015)

by

Cathy Elliott



ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


Cathy Elliott is a full-time writer who lives in northern California and whose cozy mysteries reflect her personal interests from playing her fiddle with friends to antique collecting and quilting. Besides collecting (too much) cool fabric, she also enjoys hunting for antiques and is several years into recovery from her eBay addiction. UPDATE: She backslid a while back, enticed to bid on a 1945 Singer Featherweight. (She won.) But now she’s back on the wagon. Except for the recent crazy quilt pillow purchase. She also leads music at church and enjoys time with her grandchildren.


ABOUT THE BOOK


Thea James has accepted an assignment as co-chairperson for Larkindale’s first quilt show extravaganza. Juggling the new assignment with running her antique business, she’s already feeling frayed when things start to unravel. Mary-Alice Wentworth, a much-loved town matriarch, respected quilt judge, and Thea’s dear friend, is covertly conked on the head during the kick-off Quilt Show Soiree, throwing suspicion on her guests. It also appears that a valuable diamond brooch has been stolen during the attack. The family is furious. But is it because of their mugged mother or the missing diamonds? When a renowned textile expert goes MIA and the famous Wentworth heritage quilt disappears, Larkindale’s reputation as a tourist haven is at risk. Thea attempts to piece the mystery together and save the town’s investment in the quilt show before Mary-Alice is attacked again . . . with far worse results.


If you would like to read the first chapter of A Stitch in Crime, go HERE.


Margie's Comments: Review to come later.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Blind Trust by Sandra Orchard



This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Blind Trust

Revell (June 17, 2014)

by

Sandra Orchard


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


Sandra Orchard is a multi-award-winning author of mysteries and romantic suspense with Revell Publishing and Harlequin’s Love Inspired Suspense imprint. She is an active member of American Christian Fiction Writers, Romance Writers of America, and The Word Guild (Canada). A mother of three grown children, she lives in Niagara, Canada, with her real-life-hero husband and writes full time . . . when not doting on her young grandchildren.






ABOUT THE BOOK


Kate Adams had no idea she was carrying counterfeit money, and she can't believe that it came from her sweet neighbor. Or that it lands her in the middle of another one of Detective Tom Parker's investigations. Determined to prove her neighbor's innocence, Kate stumbles into a pit of intrigue that is far deeper than a two-bit counterfeit operation--and strikes too close to home for comfort. As family secrets come to light, her world--and her budding romance with Tom--begin to crumble. To Kate, it's clear that she won't be safe until she uncovers all of Port Aster's secrets. But is it too late for her and Tom?




If you would like to read the first chapter of Blind Trust, go HERE.


Margie's Comments: Review to come later.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Soul Painter by Cara Leucht




This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Soul Painter

WhiteFire Publishing (March 15, 2014)

by

Cara Luecht





ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

A Word from the Author:
I never planned to be a writer. In fact, it took me a while to finish college. But I did, and here I am. And I now I can’t imagine not being a writer.

By day, I am an English Instructor at MATC, Marketing Manager for Degnan Design Builders, Inc., mother to four amazing children, wife to an eternally patient and supportive husband, and Worship Leader for Living Hope Fellowship in Sun Prairie, WI. In the evening, when I can squirrel away some quiet time, I read and write historical fiction.

I have a B.A. in English Lit. from UW Whitewater and an M.F.A in Creative Writing from Fairleigh Dickinson University in Madison, NJ.

If you have a question for me, or if you are local and would like me to stop by your book club or writer’s group, please drop me a line via the “Ask the Author” tab. I always love the opportunity to meet with others who share my love of books.


ABOUT THE BOOK


Miriam paints the future…but can she change it?

Chicago – 1890

Miriam watches the people jostle their way below the windows of her warehouse home, never thinking to look up at her as she paints their faces. But Miriam's gift as an artist goes beyond a mere recording of what is: Miriam paints their futures. Only once was she wrong. One woman doesn't match the future Miriam saw. The bright girl was supposed to grow into a respected businesswoman. Instead, Ione disappears nightly into the shadowed alley next to the cathedral with the other prostitutes. Then one night, while walking through the city fog, Miriam finds Ione broken and beaten. Miriam is forced to open her home to the stranger whose face she knows so well and open her life to change she never could have foretold. Women are missing—some found floating in the river, some never seen again. The deacon from the cathedral is the first to help. Soon Miriam’s solicitor, Michael, aids her in rejoining society so they might uncover the evil at work in the corrupt city . . . and awakens feelings she had never considered before. Finally engaged with the world she has so long observed, finally stirred by love and friendship, Miriam realizes the responsibility of her gifting. No longer can she just paint what will be. She must now help Ione find the future she is meant to have . . . and find her own along with it.


If you would like to read the first chapter of Soul Painter, go HERE.


Margie's Comments: Excellent start to the book. I've not completed reading it, so will wait to make a full review.