Ms. Llywelyn is excellent at making historical characters come alive as real, three dimensional people. Her diligent research flavors every page withoMs. Llywelyn is excellent at making historical characters come alive as real, three dimensional people. Her diligent research flavors every page without ever being burdensome....more
Benjamin Netanyahu is the longest serving prime minister of the modern state of Israel. His autobiography helps explaiThe Story of a Visionary Leader
Benjamin Netanyahu is the longest serving prime minister of the modern state of Israel. His autobiography helps explain why. Netanyahu has a dream for his nation, a dream he never lost sight of despite opposition from within his country and from other nations, many of which were dedicated to destroying Israel. To read this autobiography is to read the history of Israel and its growth into one of the strongest nations in the world. As he tells his life story, it is clear he never lost his focus on his dreams for his country. This despite the opposition he faced within his country, the biases of a hostile media, the constant and ultimately unproven accusations of corruption. All designed to take him down. He dealt with international threats from terrorists and nations who wanted to see Israel gone. He stood up to bullying from the United Nations and other so-called friendly nations. This included powerful pressure, interference, and broken promises from the United States. At times, it seems the pressure on him to make peace with terrorists despite all the evidence the terrorists did not want peace borders on persecution. His experiences with various U.S. presidential administrations are insightful. That alone makes this a book well worth reading. Through it all, he pursued peace with innovation, diligence, integrity, and determination while he kept to his goal of keeping Israel growing, strong, and secure. This well written autobiography reads quickly for a book of over 650 pages. It fits the cliché of being a page turner. Netanyahu’s story is also a microcosm of the world over the last 75 years. He is honest about the mistakes he made, and he gives credit to those who helped him achieve his goals. The story is not about one man. It is the story of a leader with a dream and the team he inspired, encouraged, and led to achieve that dream. ...more
A very engaging and personable book about writing fiction and being an author. I had the privilege of meeting and spending a couple of hours with Tom A very engaging and personable book about writing fiction and being an author. I had the privilege of meeting and spending a couple of hours with Tom Morrisey a few years ago at the Blue Ridge Writers Retreat. This book is just like that conversation. He knows his stuff and writes like he's talking with you over a cup of coffee. Lots of helpful advice about writing and publishing, especially for newer writers. His counsel and wisdom are so valuable and helpful....more
Very good novelization of the Nez Perce final efforts under Chief Joseph to resist being sent onto a reservation. It is told in first person narrativeVery good novelization of the Nez Perce final efforts under Chief Joseph to resist being sent onto a reservation. It is told in first person narrative by a young warrior of Chief Joseph's clan. It is historically accurate and also provides insight into the Indian's view of what happened. Very readable. I recommend it to all who enjoy westerns and to all who are interested in this period in our country's history....more
Bell presents a concise and clear examination of Voice, where it comes from, how to develop, how it's affected by genre. The book is full of excellent Bell presents a concise and clear examination of Voice, where it comes from, how to develop, how it's affected by genre. The book is full of excellent examples of other authors accompanied by Bell's discussion of the sample. Also has some really good exercises for developing your own voice. Bell is one of my favorite authors on the writing craft and I always find gems to apply to my own craft. This is no exception....more
This fascinating story of love and redemption carries the reader between tow continents, North America and Africa.
We travel with Anna Haas to the CôteThis fascinating story of love and redemption carries the reader between tow continents, North America and Africa.
We travel with Anna Haas to the Côte d’Ivoire where she serves as medical missionary with her husband. She discovers a local cocoa grower is holding young children in near slavery to harvest his crop with no regard for their safety. The plight of two boys resurrects deep scars from Anna’s own past and her helplessness to prevent her mother’s suicide, which also took the lives of her two younger siblings.
Anna vows not to fail the two boys but soon faces threats from corrupt government officials and the farmer, threats not only to her missionary status but her life as well. Her determination to save the boys strains her marriage to the breaking point. Her efforts are further complicated by her fragile pregnancy.
With each page, we are carried deeper into Anna’s heart, into her fears, into her courage.
Ms. McClain creates a vivid story world on both continents. Her skill at description places the reader both in cold, windswept Long Island and the heat of equatorial Africa.
In Anna Haas, McClain brings a flowed and determined character to life, giving her a depth that draws us to her and to her struggles. Many times the reader will feel right beside her as she treats the severely injured boys, struggles with her pregnancy, and runs for her life. And we’re right their through every guilt-inducing memory of the deaths of her siblings.
Each character is uniquely drawn. McClain diligently avoids stereotypical and clichéd people to give her novel a richness and depth that only enhance the entire story.
I was honored to receive a free copy of the manuscript in return for an honest review. ...more
From the back cover: Abandoned by her husband, in danger because of her faith, but with an implacable will to what God calls her to do, Empress HelenaFrom the back cover: Abandoned by her husband, in danger because of her faith, but with an implacable will to what God calls her to do, Empress Helena takes a perilous pilgrimage from Caesarea to Judea and Jerusalem. Along the way she meets those who would help her: the deposed bishop, Macarius; rough-edged yet kind-hearted sergeant Cratus; Anthony, a young soldier who has lost everything, including his faith. And she is pursued by the Roman assassin, Severus, whose assignment is to kill her.
Miracles follow this humble but determined woman as she wins many to the faith and changes lives forever. Including her own.
There are several things to like in this story about the discovery of the True Cross. The historical accuracy places the reader right in the story world of political upheaval in the Roman Empire of Constantine and the persecution of Christians and Jews. The setting is vividly created in the tale of Helena’s pilgrimage, the ruins of Jerusalem, and the surrounding countryside.
As I read the novel, I found I wanted to know the characters more closely. They seemed to hold themselves at arms length, describing their fears and dreams as well as their grief and their faith, but not letting the reader experience them fully. I think the story also suffers slightly because, if you’re familiar with the period and the story of Helena, you know the outcome.
The story flows quickly without bogging down under heaps of exposition. Bunn does an admirable job of weaving the history seamlessly through the characters experiences without lecturing or getting preachy.
Overall, The Pilgrim is an interesting read, especially if Helena and this era are unfamiliar to the reader.
I give it 3.5 stars.
An advanced reader copy of the book was given to me by the publisher in return for an honest review. ...more
This is an excellent sequel of Birkby’s first book, The House at Baker Street. Mrs. Hudson and Mrs. WatsoThe Women of Baker Street by Michelle Birkby
This is an excellent sequel of Birkby’s first book, The House at Baker Street. Mrs. Hudson and Mrs. Watson continue their detection endeavors on two fronts. Mrs. Hudson investigates a series of murders in a hospital. Mrs. Watson investigates the disappearance of street boys. Their separate paths join together in a bizarre and macabre mystery. Once again their lives are endanger as they seek to understand and reveal the dark secrets they uncover. Among Birkby’s strengths is the ability to make these two women come alive on the page. They step out of the shadows of Sherlock and Dr. Watson. The plot is strong throughout. The twist that brings the two investigations into one is masterfully done. The final revelation is both surprising and satisfying. Birkby delivers again. I look forward to her next Baker Street adventure. ...more
I thought I had read all of the Spenser novels. Somehow, I missed this one. Both a refreshing and exciting read. Refreshing to be back in Parker's mesI thought I had read all of the Spenser novels. Somehow, I missed this one. Both a refreshing and exciting read. Refreshing to be back in Parker's mesmerizing style with succinct descriptions that bring his settings and his characters to life. And to enjoy anew one of the best masters of dialogue I've ever read. Parker adds an exciting plot with plenty of twists and turns that kept me guessing until the final reveal. The end was a satisfying surprise. And along the way, I got to spend time with Spenser and Susan and Hawk. And Pearl the wonder dog. And a cast of the deadly dangerous and the loopy loony all wrapped up in the story world of Boston and its environs as only Parker could present it. ...more
Vogler’s book takes the concept of the Hero’s Journey by Joseph Campbell to build an approach to the craft of writing through guidelines in plot and cVogler’s book takes the concept of the Hero’s Journey by Joseph Campbell to build an approach to the craft of writing through guidelines in plot and character development.
For me, the strong point of the book is how thoroughly he melds the archetypes of the Hero’s Journey with the stages of the journey, or the plot. He writes in depth about the protagonist or hero meeting the other archetypes and how these meetings help form the plot from the Call to Adventure and the decision the hero must make through the subsequent stages.
Vogler explores how the stages of the journey fall into the three-act structure. He presents a logical progression which gives a framework for both the story arc and the character arc. He takes us from the ordinary world of the hero through the call to Adventure, the hero meeting his mentor and crossing the first threshold into the story. The hero faces tests, makes allies, finds enemies. The ordeal of the story intensifies the ordeal until the hero finds his reward and begins the road back.
His use of movie examples fits comfortably with his style and makes the examples and points very understandable.
I recommend this book to both outliners and organic writers. Whatever your style or preference, Vogler provides a structure for building our stories that fits both styles of writing. ...more
Treasure Box by Orson Scott Card I found this gem of a book on a recent journey to a used bookstore. I consider my self a long time fan of Mr. Card evTreasure Box by Orson Scott Card I found this gem of a book on a recent journey to a used bookstore. I consider my self a long time fan of Mr. Card ever since I read Ender’s Game. I thought I had read most of his work. Until I discovered this one, published in 1996. Don’t know how I missed it. It’s a ghost story with the ultimate paranormal twist where our hero ends up fighting evil incarnate. The story is full of Mr. Card’s talent as a storyteller. The hero, Quentin Fears, is real and believable as a billionaire recluse who seems to have found true love until he discovers the woman of his life is a witch using him to release the ultimate of evil into the world. All of the characters show Mr. Card’s gift of creating fascinating people who must deal with a world that is unlike anything they’ve ever experienced. The story world is anchored in America, but the invasion of the paranormal left me gasping. Mr. Card knows how to put the reader into a story and then surprise him with twists and turns. When you finish the book, you have the experience of a story that took you on a marvelous and horrifying to journey to an unexpected yet satisfying end. ...more
This story of real-life lawman, Bill Tilghman, is alive with suspense and adventure. Tilghman is hired to break up the Wild Bunch outlaw and bring itsThis story of real-life lawman, Bill Tilghman, is alive with suspense and adventure. Tilghman is hired to break up the Wild Bunch outlaw and bring its leader Bill Doolin to justice. Set in Oklahoma in the early 1890s, it's a saga of people settling a new land, outlaws seeking the easy life, Indians dealing with yet more corruption and double dealing from the white man. Tilghman pursues his quarry across the Oklahoma territory only to have him seem to vanish into the wilds of the land. There are several close encounters building up to the exciting climax. We also experience in Tilghman a man seeking to establish himself as a rancher and a man who falls in love with a younger woman who proves more than a match for this old lawman. We follow Doolin too as he meets his wife and seeks to escape the law and establish a new life in California for his wife and son. The story is filled with intrigue and suspense, with heroic citizens and vain, self-seeking politicians. The research is impeccable and provides the true sense of the time period and the hardships required to build a life on the frontier of the Old West....more
In this sequel to The First Principle, Marissa Shrock writes one of the best Christian speculative novels I’ve read in a long time.
Shrock keeps us rigIn this sequel to The First Principle, Marissa Shrock writes one of the best Christian speculative novels I’ve read in a long time.
Shrock keeps us right with her heroine, Vivica Wilkins, from page one to the climax. We are with Vivica as she enters a new world of being a member of the rebellion. These are a group of fighters dedicated to restoring freedom, especially religious freedom, to a world of dictatorial powers seeking to dominate all of Earth.
Christians are persecuted, made into slaves, or executed for their beliefs. Vivica is a reluctant hero as she seeks her place in this society of warriors in a world seeking to exterminate them. She has to learn who to trust while at the same time demonstrating her own trustworthiness.
Shrock has filled her story with intricate twists and turns, with betrayals that may not be betrayals, with loyalty that is not at all loyal. Vivica must weave her way through relationships with people she cannot be sure about while she’s also learning about herself and her new identity as a Christian.
A major strength of this novel is Shrock’s ability to have her characters express their faith in ways that are natural and believable. None of it feels forced or contrived. There is no sense the author shoehorned faith just to get into the story. Never does she stop the story to preach at the reader.
Another strength is well-developed characters. Even minor characters are presented with depth and subtle agendas and quirks.
This all serves to keep the tension and suspense high throughout the novel.
Along the way, Vivica reunites with her father. But is he all he seems to be? Why did he abandon her? Her mother is a politician seeking to change the system from within. Or is she? Her arrest propels Vivica deeper into the maelstrom of the rebellion. Her boyfriend, the father of the baby she gave up for adoption, also sends her confusing messages.
Vivica must sort all this out even as she infiltrates a secret project and tries to sabotage it. But betrayals assault her here as well until we reach the climax which I will not share because of spoiler alerts.
Read the book to find out. It is well worth the investment of your time.
I give this outstanding effort 4.5 stars.
I don’t think it’s necessary to read the first book before this one. Shrock does an excellent job of entwining material from the first novel into this one so the reader doesn't feel lost or confused. But read the first novel anyway because it is an equally good story.
I was given a free copy of this book in return for an honest review. ...more
Other Countries by Jon Bannister is the fourth book in the Hazel Best and Gabriel Ash series. Bannister continues to be a joyous surprise with4.5 Stars
Other Countries by Jon Bannister is the fourth book in the Hazel Best and Gabriel Ash series. Bannister continues to be a joyous surprise with her clever plots and intriguing characters. Hazel and Gabriel pull us into this adventure with they’re all-too-human foibles as well as their dedication to each other. Gabriel really shines in this story as he adjusts to being a father, a task he feels completely unprepared for. He’s much more comfortable analyzing data. In this story, besides his adjustment to parenthood, he takes steps of emotional growth in his relationship with Hazel and her lodger, Saturday. He also has to become a man of action, not just intellect. Hazel learns more about herself as well and it’s not all good as she falls for a man who may not be the best for her. She rescues a television personality from an assassin. She enters a whirlwind relationship with the man, a relationship that ultimately becomes a serious threat to herself and the people she cares about. When Gabriel and Saturday lose contact with hazel, Gabriel calls on all his skills and his contacts to try to find her. He even has to rely on Saturday’s computer knowledge and street smarts to find Hazel. The final twist in the plot is a twist that threatens to send Saturday to prison for the rest of his life. Bannister takes all these plot threads of love, friendship and evil and weaves them into a compelling tapestry that both satisfies the reader for this story and stimulates our hunger for the more of Gabriel and Hazel and their quirky world. ...more
Exciting thriller with a fascinating pair of heroes. Villain and other characters were equally well-done and the plot had enough twists and turns to kExciting thriller with a fascinating pair of heroes. Villain and other characters were equally well-done and the plot had enough twists and turns to keep you going. The reveal at the end was a complete surprise, but Baldacci planted enough clues along the way that the ending is very satisfying. One of the better page-turners I've read in a long time. Looking forward to reading more adventures of Sean King and Michelle Maxwell....more
Steven James does not disappoint in his newest thriller. Plenty of action and he takes also explores the meaning of life and love and God without slowSteven James does not disappoint in his newest thriller. Plenty of action and he takes also explores the meaning of life and love and God without slowing the pace. Great characters, including a robot. If you like thrillers, this is one to read....more
One of the best books I've ever read, regardless of genre. What seems like a time travel adventure becomes a study of slavery in America in the early 1One of the best books I've ever read, regardless of genre. What seems like a time travel adventure becomes a study of slavery in America in the early 1800s. A study we experience at a personal level through the lives of the characters. Octavia Butler brings that world to reality with all its horror and in all its humanness. Not one character is a cliche or stereotype. Butler brings the story world alive. The characters walk off the page and into your heart. I came away with a deeper understanding intellectually, emotionally, and spiritually of what slavery was like. Thinking about it still brings chills. I highly recommend you add this to your reading list for 2022....more
A fascinating novella. I've never really been in to ghost stories much but this one grabbed me on page one and kept me riveted. The humor ranges from A fascinating novella. I've never really been in to ghost stories much but this one grabbed me on page one and kept me riveted. The humor ranges from subtle to out-loud funny. The Irish setting is a character all in its own, especially the fictional village of Carn. The main character, Declan, is enjoyable as we follow him on this ghost story and his adventures and misadventures in trying to stop the ghost from killing his best friend, Paddy, as she seeks revenge on those who killed her. The story never stops moving and the pace is just right to keep us turning pages to find out what is going to happen to Declan next. The ending has a very satisfying twist. ...more
Terry Pratchett's Discworld stories are full of great characters, well-written plots, exciting adventures. Raising Steam doesn't disappoint. He populaTerry Pratchett's Discworld stories are full of great characters, well-written plots, exciting adventures. Raising Steam doesn't disappoint. He populates his world with the most amazing species of goblins, dwarfs, humans, golems, vampires, etc. The humor is fantastic. Every page is full of excellent writing that makes you smile, chuckle, and--at times--laugh out loud. This was my second reading of this marvelous story. What intrigued me most this time is Pratchett's exploration of racism through his exploration of humans, dwarfs, trolls, goblins, golems, and more. Much of what he writes in this area is spot on with what's in our society....more
This is a dystopian sci-fi set in the 2020s. Published in 1993, the novel has an eerily prophetic feel about it. It starts off feeling almost young adThis is a dystopian sci-fi set in the 2020s. Published in 1993, the novel has an eerily prophetic feel about it. It starts off feeling almost young adult given the age of the protag. But it doesn't stay there. The quality of depth and quality of the writing bring it closer to a literary novel.
In the story, society is collapsing, gangs are roving the land, government is corrupt and powerless.
Lauren Olamina loses her entire family to gangs. Even before the destruction of her family and community that launches her on her quest, an idea is geminating in her for a religious concept she calls Earthseed. It provides a frame of reference for her to understand God in the chaos of her world.
She and two other survivors from her neighborhood decide to head north from the Los Angeles area. There are stories things I better in northern CA and Washington and Oregon and Canada. But the journey is extremely dangerous and there is no guarantee of success.
Along the way, she meets other people who join her. There is always the process learning to trust them which requires observing and testing them. Eventually the group grows to nine plus several children.
The process of bonding into a ‘family’ is done with an eye on how difficult it is to achieve such bonding when most of the people she meets are likely to rob, rape, murder, and burn. But the bonds form and the way Butler does it is realistic in the story world she has created.
What I like best about this novel is characters are what keep me in a story. This is probably the most important element of a story for me. I don’t have to like them, but I have to believe they are real and capable of doing what they do. Capable means emotionally and psychologically as well as physically, relationally, and mentally. Butler does this with her protag, Lauren. And with her other major and significant secondary characters. Her minor characters are also unique and believable
I also like the way Butler shows the humanity of people in a world amazingly like the world of Mad Max. Lauren’s little group comes together, working through fear, lack of trust, and the view that everyone you meet is a potential killer. The group becomes a family the fights and bicker with each other. They also unite to fight off every attack. They mourn when members of the group die. They marvel when other members come together to support, encourage, and love each other.
I highly recommend this as a great read. Even if you don't like dystopian, read it. You'll be surprised....more
Another excellent mystery in the Adam Dalgliesh series. Ms. James has created one of the most intriguing detectives in all of the mystery genre. He is Another excellent mystery in the Adam Dalgliesh series. Ms. James has created one of the most intriguing detectives in all of the mystery genre. He is a man with a strong moral code and one who is also sensitive and empathetic to the people in the story. But he does not compromise his pursuit of justice for the victims. Ms. James has a way of describing the settings of her stories that, pardon the cliche, put the reader right there. Her settings frequently take on the role of a character. She is able to show how the setting influences each character in the story, even the police. She does not disappoint here. St. Anslem's is a small theological college in an isolated, almost desolated, part of the English seacoast. The other characters in this novel exhibit Ms. James at her best. They are complex, each with a plausible motive to murder, and something in their past or current lives to hide. Dalgliesh and his team have their own issues, but are able to put them aside or repress them so they can work together. And work together they must to solve the murders in this story. ...more
Private investigators, Sean King and Michelle Maxwell, pursue a serial killer. As tHour Game by David Baldacci
Second in his King and Maxwell series.
Private investigators, Sean King and Michelle Maxwell, pursue a serial killer. As they investigate, more victims are found increasing the stakes and the pressure to solve the case quickly. Working with local law enforcement and the FBI is as frustrating as it is helpful. Complicating the case further is the appearance of what may be copycat killers.
As they draw closer to the killer, their own lives are threatened. Only their skills and their wits can save them.
This novel does keep you turning pages. Enough clues and red herrings abound to keep the reader involved. I did figure out who the killer was about two-thirds through the book which made the ending, harrowing as it appears on the page, a little anti-climatic.
I thought the book could have used tighter editing as some of the scenes seemed to bog down with Baldacci telling us what was going on rather than showing us.
Baldacci brings his story world of the super rich and the regular community to life. It is is easy to see the conflicts between the two. The killer is very complex and we see layers of personality and motivation peeled away until the final reveal of the why behind the killings is tied together at the end. ...more
The lyrical writing and the story world of this British mystery remind me of Jacqueline Winspear. If you like the Maisie Dobb stories, you'll like UpsThe lyrical writing and the story world of this British mystery remind me of Jacqueline Winspear. If you like the Maisie Dobb stories, you'll like Upson’s heroine Josephine Tey. This mystery is set in theater world in London between the world wars and the setting comes alive as both a place and a character. An old rivalry resurrects twenty years later, taking two lives and forcing the characters to confront their pasts and their present. No one is as innocent as they seem. As sinister secrets are revealed, the story takes the reader on a psychological journey. The two main characters, Josephine Tey (playwright and mystery novelist) and Archie Penrose of Scotland Yard, sometimes work together and sometimes in opposition to solve the double murder. Upson provides solid intrigue and enough twists to keep you reading. Each twist is a surprise and leads you to think you know who the killer is until the next twist. I highly recommend this to all who enjoy good mysteries with fascinating characters and a setting you enjoy spending time in.
I enjoyed how the the author created characters who are complex, flawed and brave. Garrison Gage is pulled out of hermit-like recluse lifestyle when aI enjoyed how the the author created characters who are complex, flawed and brave. Garrison Gage is pulled out of hermit-like recluse lifestyle when a young woman washes up on the beach and she's been murdered. Formerly with the FBI and then a private investigator, Gage is retired by a disability, he takes on the task of solving the crime. A task which nearly gets him killed and he takes on a secretive police chief and the elite of the small seaside town. Along the way his emotional fortress is undermined by the death of a dear neighbor. He also takes on the role of guardian for her 16-year-old granddaughter. Here there is a parallel with Steven James's character of Patrick Bower and his stepdaughter, Tessa. The author is excellent at making the relationship between Gage and Zoe unique in its own way. Still mourning over the death of his wife five years earlier, Gage resists the attraction of a newspaper reporter until he admits his need for love. One of the positives for me in this story is the murky background the author gives his hero. Some things are made clear, others not so much. And Gage is so intriguing I look forward to reading the next book in the series....more
Actually, I would give this 4.5 stars if possible.
Rookie cop, Hazel Best, stumbles into culture of police corruption where even facilitating murder isActually, I would give this 4.5 stars if possible.
Rookie cop, Hazel Best, stumbles into culture of police corruption where even facilitating murder is on the table. Hazel finds Gabriel Ash, a man crushed by events in his life that took his wife and children. Taken because of things he had done. Now he wanders the streets of Norbold, England alone with only his dog for a companion. And they carry on conversations. Needless to say, most people in town, including the police, think Ash is more than a bit dotty and completely unreliable. But he has evidence that a prisoner was beaten to death in a jail cell with the assistance of the police. The evidence points to one officer and Hazel takes this to those investigating the murder. Soon, not only is her career in jeopardy, so is her life. And that of Ash. In a style reminiscent of P.D. James, Jo Bannister writes a captivating novel complete with a surprising plot twist at the end. Even more, she creates characters who capture us. Even the ultimate bad guys have their good points throughout the story. I like Hazel’s spunk and courage, her willingness to risk her career and life for justice. Her relationship with Ash is full of caring and conflict. She believes him but resists his evidence of police corruption until it is almost too late. Ash’s transformation is even more dramatic than Hazel’s as he progresses from a recluse to a man risking a relationship with another human being. Deadly Virtue, published in 2013, is the first in a series of Hazel Best novels. Jo Bannister has me hooked and I look forward to reading the rest. ...more
Vivica Wilkins is sixteen years old, and a bit of a rebel. She has hacked her school’s computer network so her fellow students can exchange messages wVivica Wilkins is sixteen years old, and a bit of a rebel. She has hacked her school’s computer network so her fellow students can exchange messages without the school knowing. For the right price, she can get into the grading system and change grades for her friends.
Vivica’s world is North America in the not too distant future. After the Great Collapse and the Second Civil War, the World Peacekeepers intervened in war-ravaged North America. What were formerly the United States, Canada, and Mexico are divided into seven regions. Vivica lives in the Great Lakes Region.
Normally, this would not matter much to a teen-ager. However, Vivica’s mother is the Governor of the Great Lakes Region, and is about to be nominated to be President of the United Regions of North America.
But all is not well in this dystopian world. Rebels and dissenters challenge authority that squelches individual freedoms, including religion. Particularly odious is the Posterity Protection and Self-Determination Act, a law which, among other things, requires the termination of unapproved pregnancies.
Vivica discovers she is regnant. She learns her boyfriend, Ben, is part of the rebel organization. Vivica faces a huge conflict. She wants to believe the government knows what is best, but the life growing inside calls her to consider another alternative. Ben wants to help her avoid termination.
Her mother is the victim of an assassination attempt that kills the current president. Vivica’s mother is wounded but recovers. Vivica’s bodyguard and friend is killed protecting her mother. His replacement is Anita Ward, an agent of the Population Management Clinic. Anita has her own agenda and protecting Vivica is not very high on it. Earlier in the story, Vivica had a run-in with Ward when the agent forcibly removed a pregnant girl from Vivica’s class.
Vivica’s fears for her baby are magnified by Ward’s presence. When Vivica’s mother learns of the pregnancy, she demands it be terminated, in part because of her own political ambitions.
Vivica runs away with the help of Ben and his cousin, Drake. She soon enters the world of the rebels, a world of Christians fighting for their beliefs.
While she is moving from place to place in the rebel network, Ward finds her every time. Vivica moves again and again, and those who help her are killed. Is there a mole in the rebel forces?
While on the run, Vivica uncovers information about the assassination. It wasn’t done by the rebels but by members of the government who don’t want her mother to become president. Vivica’s life, and the lives of those helping her are soon in even greater danger.
While among the rebels, Vivica slowly opens her heart to God and seeks him to protect her and her baby.
Vivica is strong person yet vulnerable and frightened. The author does good job of showing multiple layers of Vivica’s character: snarky adolescent, frightened pregnant teen-ager, fearful of whom she can trust. Shrock does an excellent job of creating a character who is flawed in so many ways, yet has drive and determination. Vivica is a character we care about.
Vivica’s spiritual journey to Christ is believably done. Shrock doesn’t sugarcoat the Christian message. Doesn’t avoid the issues of why prayers don’t seem to be answered and why bad things happen.
Pace is brisk, but not so fast the reader loses track of the characters, setting, or plot. All the characters are flawed, just like in real life. All struggle with choices and consequences.
One minor issue I have with the novel is there are times when the author seems to settle for naming a feeling rather than showing it to us through the character’s behavior and dialogue.
The reveal of the mole at the end of the story is well done. Shrock plants seeds that indicate it could be any one of several characters. When the culprit is finally revealed it is a surprise that makes sense. Excellent job of giving just enough hints to keep us guessing. And at the end, you see how it all pointed to that one person.
This is a highly entertaining and exciting YA novel with a genuine Christian perspective.
I give it 4.5 stars and strongly recommend it for those who like thrillers and romance rolled into one.
I was given a copy of the novel in return for an honest, unbiased review. ...more
Once again, Younts does a masterful job of taking us into the heart of the Amish people and culture and into the hearts of her characters.
Elizabeth DeOnce again, Younts does a masterful job of taking us into the heart of the Amish people and culture and into the hearts of her characters.
Elizabeth Detweiler has reached the age of spinsterhood. Abandoned by her father, she has spent her life caring for others—her mother, her grandmother, and her niece, Daisy. Daisy’s mother was Esther’s cousin, Irene. Irene was shunned when she chose to marry someone outside the Amish community. Only Esther maintained a relationship with her. When Irene dies, young Daisy’s father, Joe, brings the child to Esther while he goes off to fight in World War Two.
Joe’s family and the Amish consider Daisy touched and demented by her inability to communicate and believe she should be in an institution. Through research and patience, Esther learns the child is deaf and teaches herself and the child sign language so they can communicate.
After the war, Joe doesn’t return immediately. When Esther’s grandmother dies, Esther submits to the reality that she will live out her days, unmarried and caring for Daisy, the child she has grown to love as her own.
Joe returns unexpectedly and Esther faces the fact that the child she has raised will soon go to live with the father she has not seen in many years.
Sparks and conflict fly as Joe and Esther struggle with their conflicting views of what is best for Daisy. Under the tension, Joe develops feelings for Esther. She resists because he is not Amish and she saw the pain her cousin experienced after being turned out by the community.
Esther and Joe face a history of broken promises while they seek to find their own place in a world of cultural conflict and decide what’s best for the child they both love.
Among the many aspects of Younts writing that I enjoy is her ability to bring the world of the Amish to light in an honest and understanding manner. Her intimate knowledge of the people and their religious beliefs helps bring her story world alive. I feel myself part of the church services, part of the barn raisings and other parts of that fascinating world. She brings this little-known world out of the clouds of myth into a concrete reality.
Her characters are consistently complex and compelling. She creates people who engage us, who we can empathize with. We can see and feel little Daisy’s fears, Joe’s struggle with becoming a father, Esther’s love for Daisy and her opening herself to loving Joe despite the rejection she will face from her community. We walk with them through their journeys, experiencing their defeats and savoring their victories.
I highly recommend this book.
A copy was furnished to me in return for an honest review. ...more
I have been a long time fan of Sherlock Holmes. New titles that reference him always catch my eye. And in the case of Michelle BiSherlock with a Twist
I have been a long time fan of Sherlock Holmes. New titles that reference him always catch my eye. And in the case of Michelle Birkby’s The House on Baker Street I have a whole new world to explore. The novel’s subtitle is what caught my eye. “Behind every great detective is a great woman…” Yes, my fellow readers, if you are fan of Sherlock and Doctor Watson, you are in for a treat. The woman in question is none other than our icon’s housekeeper, Mrs. Hudson. When Sherlock spurns a case but it is not interesting enough, Mrs. H steps in to assist the young woman who is being blackmailed. The blackmailer is a criminal with a deep and sinister twist. He does not ask for money. No, he seeks to destroy the life the young woman has built by sharing embarrassing letters with the woman’s husband. Mrs. H is joined by Mrs. Mary Watson, the dear doctor’s wife, and Irene Adler, whom Sherlock always refers to as “the woman.” These three with the help of the intrepid Baker Street Irregulars embark on the case. And the game is soon afoot. They soon uncover a plot that impacts more than one woman. The blackmailer has spread his net across all of London. No money changes hands but the lady detectives discover the brutal damage this man has done. Women disappear from life, marriages are destroyed, suicides occur. Destroying lives, not acquiring money, motivates the blackmailer. The story unfolds, bringing the three deeper closer to the blackmailer and putting their own lives in danger. Irene Adler is threatened with letters. Mary Watson is kidnap and physically attacked. Mrs. H and the Irregulars come to the rescue. The final twists and confrontation are worthy of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. This is one of the few novels I will give a five start rating. I’m looking forward to the continued adventures of Mrs. Hudson. ...more
In this prequel to her Emancipation Warrior series, Marissa Shrock introduces us to one of the significant characters is the series, Agatha Sparks.
WheIn this prequel to her Emancipation Warrior series, Marissa Shrock introduces us to one of the significant characters is the series, Agatha Sparks.
When we meet Agatha in this novella, she is still using her real name, Sunshine Hemmerly.
Sunshine lives in a dystopian world following the collapse of the world’s economy and the deterioration of nations and society. Government, society and the economy are now controlled by the elites who permit no dissent. Religion is banned except for a government-authorized edition of the Bible. A small group known as the Emancipation Warriors fights back.
Sunshine’s parents were sent to prison for practicing a banned religion and supporting the warriors. She and her younger brother were sent to a reeducation academy to wash out any remnants of their parents’ rebelliousness.
The story opens when Sunshine turns 18 and ages out of the academy, leaving her brother behind.
She is given a job as an agitator where, using multiple false profiles, she monitors the web to counter wrong opinions, to stimulate public outrage against the Warriors and to reinforce the government’s agenda and spin on events.
She wants to know what happened to her parents and to find a man named Jethro who visited them in the days before their arrest.
She soon draws government scrutiny and the interest of the Warriors. She is put through loyalty tests and quickly faces the dilemma of who to trust.
She is framed by the government for murdering her boss and is rescued by the Warriors and meets Jethro.
She needs Jethro to get her brother out of the academy. Otherwise, the government will hold him over her head to keep her compliant. She is asked by the Warriors to help plant a computer virus that will destroy vital government programs.
Now she faces tough, tough choices. Will she join the warrior cause? If she joins, what dangers will her brother face? What will be her fate if she doesn’t? She is already facing execution for murder.
The author does a great job of establishing the world of her story and of creating a heroine who is vulnerable under her bravery. Sunshine is someone we can identify with a root for. Tension, suspense and mystery are on every page as everybody seems to have a secret agenda and Sunshine has to figure out out who’s on which side, and who can she trust.
The Agitator is an excellent introduction to the larger series and I highly recommend it.
I was given a free copy of the story in exchange for an open and honest review. ...more
In To Die But Once, Jacqueline Winspear again delivers an intricate and spellbinding adventure in her Maisie Dobbs series. Maisie’s task in this one isIn To Die But Once, Jacqueline Winspear again delivers an intricate and spellbinding adventure in her Maisie Dobbs series. Maisie’s task in this one is to find out what happened to a young man, Joseph Coombes. When Joseph is found dead, she takes on the mission of finding his killer and why this young man of sixteen years had to die. Her investigation leads her into the corrupt world of British criminal syndicates and wartime profiteering. She also discovers how family bonds can poison even the most normal appearing families. Maisie is also trying to adopt a young girl placed in her guardianship by the girl’s dying grandmother. Government agencies are slow to move, concerned about Maisie’s widowhood and her profession. The emotional turmoil tears at her. In addition, Maisie is called upon to help her best friend, Priscilla, and her assistant, Billy deal with the war’s impact on their children. Billy’s son is trapped on the beaches of Dunkirk. Priscilla’s young son joins with a friend in the effort to rescue those troops and can’t be found. As always with Winspear’s stories, one of the major elements is how she makes the time period come alive to the point where it becomes a vibrant character. The story is set in the early part of World War Two. England is remembering the horror of the First War as it deals with the new horrors this one brings. She brings the historical setting alive better than any other author I know. This is a novel that will stay with the reader long after the cover is closed. ...more