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The One Year Bible: The entire King James Version arranged in 365 daily readings –KJV
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Call of the Herald (The Dawning of Power, #1)

Call of the Herald (The Dawning of Power, #1) - Brian Rathbone First off, I'd like to thank Mr. Rathbone for sending me a copy of his book--I greatly enjoyed it! It seems rare to come across a synopsis that says so little about a book, but this is certainly one of those cases! To me it was a bit like Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings, Terry Brooks' Shannara series, and Paolini's Eragon saga rolled into one. In fact, there were two scenes that almost could have been taken from LOTR, though I don't hold that against Rathbone. This novel is actually comprised of three books, all of which take you to Godsland and reveal the story of Catrin Volker, revealed to be the Herald of Istra, and her companions and Guardians.Catrin's story is truly incredible--she is a teenager when she discovers a power awakened within her and ultimately has to head on a journey to save all of Godsland. Rathbone's writing is captivating and draws you into the story immediately. At times I feel as if the characters' dialogue slips into something a bit too modern for the story and time being portrayed, but that only happens here and there. The level of detail with which Rathbone writes this epic adventure is very impressive. However, because there IS so much detail, not to mention so many places and characters, the story can be somewhat difficult to follow at times. There are multiple points of view, and at points in the chapters we would revisit some characters briefly, and occasionally I had to think hard to recall who they were and how they fit into the story.Overall, though, I immensely enjoyed The Dawning of Power. Over the years I have become a huge Fantasy geek and this book was right up my alley. There is plenty of action with plot turns and twists to keep you driving onward to discover what happens next. I definitely became attached to many of the characters as I learned more about them and they played their part in the quest. I can't wait to read Rathbone's next book, and a part of me has to wonder if he won't continue Catrin's story at some point down the road. That door was certainly left open. I for one, would like to see that happen.

The Skull Ring (Julia Stone)

The Skull Ring - Scott Nicholson Firstly, I would like to thank Mr. Nicholson for sending me a copy of The Skull Ring to review. This is the first book I've read that focuses on Satanic cults, though admittedly the story is more devoted to Julia Stone and her "relationship" to the cult. I have to say, parts of the story definitely gave me the creeps and I refused to read it at night, in the dark!The suspenseful storyline is what carried this book and made it worth reading and at times, difficult to put down. There was the constant question of who Julia could really trust, though I did feel that many events that transpired were a bit predictable. I was reasonably sure who was to be feared throughout most of the book, though there were a couple of surprises I didn't see coming (as they related to certain characters, that is). As for the characters, they were all pretty good, basic characters but would have benefited from some further development and fleshing out to make the story even better. The friendship Julia finds herself forming with Walter felt a little hokey to me--not that it couldn't have happened, but I don't think enough of the book was used to really promote it to where the relationship made sense.All-in-all, The Skull Ring is an easy read with a definitely "creepy-factor" that makes you want to know how the story is going to turn out.

A Passion Denied (The Daughters of Boston, Book 3)

A Passion Denied - Julie Lessman With A Passion Denied, Julie Lessman has brought to life another incredible story about the O'Connor family. While I enjoyed both of the first two books in the series, the first, A Passion Most Pure, was definitely my favorite between the two. For me, this book reminded me very much of that one and I found myself unable to put it down, but fortunately I was not awake until 3:00am this time around! While this story focuses on Lizzie, I was happy to see that we were able to keep up with what is going on with Faith and Charity, as well.And let me tell you, all of these O'Connors are a very passionate family! In fact, sometimes I feel like they might be too passionate--or a better way of putting it is that they are very open about it. There were some conversations that took place and I tried to envision them happening in my family and it just wasn't working. In fact, I personally would probably have been embarrassed to have some of the conversations that were had between some of the family members!But all of that aside, Lessman has an amazing gift for telling a great, fast-paced story with lots of twists and turns. On more than one occasion I found myself saying, "Are you serious?!" when certain events unfolded. I love getting to know all of the characters even better, and it's always great to have a new hero to love--in this case, it's Brady. I definitely liked him--and really, it's hard to have a favorite among these men--but boy is he so darn stubborn sometimes! Then again, many men are. :-) In the end, Lessman is always able to wrap everything up with a nice bow, though. Without giving away too much, let me also mention that there is a little side plot involving Marcy and Patrick's marriage that also added another element to the story and gave it greater depth.Bottom Line: if you've read either of the first two books and enjoyed them, you're sure to like A Passion Denied, as well. If you haven't read any and have any interest in Christian/Historical fiction, you should definitely give these a try! My contest to win one of Julie Lessman's books is a great way to do that!

Publish or Perish

Publish or Perish - Margot Kinberg While not one of the most complicated mysteries I've ever read, I enjoyed Publish or Perish and am glad that Margot Kinberg contacted me. The book is an easy read, moves pretty quickly, and is definitely laid out in the manner of an Agatha Christie. Kinberg sets the scene with many pages devoted to the story before Nick's murder actually takes place, so you get a feel for all the possible suspects, and naturally there is more than one. Is it Nick's advisor who is accused of stealing Nick's software? Or is it Angel, the girlfriend who caught Nick with another advisor at Tilton University? What about Rose, who would do anything to win the fellowship that had been awarded to Nick?Those questions lead me to my biggest issue with this book. It was too easy to figure out who the murderer was, in my opinion. In the end, it was almost too obvious who stood to benefit the most by Nick's death. Of course, that's mostly because of another *major* event that takes place, but I don't want to spoil anything for those of you who want to read this :-) I really liked the basis for the plot of this book--while I'm not sure if anyone would truly commit murder in these circumstances, it made for an interesting story. You really wanted to see certain people "get theirs" in the end. All-in-all I thought it was a good debut for Kinberg--minus one star for being too easy to figure out.

Beyond the Loop: The Journey of Willis October: The Man, the Myth, the Legend

Beyond the Loop: The Journey of Willis October: The Man, the Myth, the Legend - Jason R. Thrift Some of you might recall my review of Thrift's debut book, The Civilization Loop, which I read in September of last year. These self-published books deal not only with the often mind-blowing concept of time travel, but even manage to mix a bit of God in with the Sci-Fi, which can make for an interesting story. Thank you to Mr. Thrift for sending me the latest installment!While I have to be honest and admit that Beyond the Loop did not quite captivate me the way Thrift's first book did, I still enjoyed the story. If I had it to do over again, I would probably re-read The Civilization Loop before tackling this book, simply to have the original story a little fresher in my mind. However, Thrift does do a good job of recalling the events of the first book without making it a blatant summary of the story--he works it into the current storyline. Willis October's adventure is certainly incredible and we see his account of several major events throughout history... Noah's Ark, Hitler's Third Reich, 9/11--you name it, and he was probably there in some way, shape or form. Sometimes his involvement is more hands-on than it is others, but it is always fascinating to see how Thrift works him into some of history's most amazing events. With respect to the religious aspect, in Beyond the Loop we read about the Second Coming of Jesus and how it relates to the story of the time team and Willis October.By the end of this book, we realize that we only know a part of Thrift's story and that much more is yet to come in a third book. And yes, the events leading to all of this certainly can bend your mind in ways you never thought possible. I've said it before and I will say it again--stories that really do justice to time travel and its consequences can certainly make one think! The writing is improved over the first book, with awkward phrasing almost nonexistent, though admittedly typos still abound a bit more than I would like to see. I would most definitely recommend this book to those of you that have already read The Civilization Loop and are anxious for the continuing story of Willis October and the part that he played.

For Glory

For Glory - Elisabeth Lee While I may not be a member of Lee's true target audience with this book, I really enjoyed the story. For Glory is more than a mystery, it's a story of what happens to Carlyle Hudson when she goes home to Kansas after her mother's death to pick up the pieces. Lyle has a newly acquired house and bridal shop that she's not quite sure what to do with, not to mention a little Smooth-haired Fox Terrier named Glory that she seemingly has no desire to put up with. And naturally, you know a man will come into the picture sooner or later, too.Lee's gift is writing strong characters, and that includes the little dog, Glory! Lyle is full of spunk with a lot of attitude, and you soon see that all of the Hudson women (Lyle and her three aunts, Luce, Loretta and Lenore) are quite a hilarious bunch. While I enjoyed getting to know them, and the story in general, I felt like the two mysteries in the story were a little lacking. Not in actual excitement, of course, but in terms of how they were all figured out. To me, this wasn't your typical "whodunnit" story where the reader is right there trying to figure out who the culprit is. The evidence really wasn't presented in a way that the reader could pick up on all the clues, in my opinion. I noticed some suspicious actions by characters at times, but couldn't figure out what any motives would be. And why random acts of burglary by young thugs seemed to happen with great frequency to Lyle I'll never understand.Overall, though, it was a light, entertaining read that will certainly get you laughing. And everything is resolved quite nicely at the end, and for me that's when the pieces really started falling together and everything made sense. I guess the sleuth in me just likes to be able to figure it all out as I go.

The Maidenstone Lighthouse

The Maidstone Lighthouse - Sally Smith O'Rourke So, as I mentioned in my Friday Finds post, I happened across this book while browsing the stacks at BJ's. They had loads of books on my TBR list, one of which I picked up (The Hunger Games), but what caught my eye was the beautiful cover of this book, so I read the cover and my interest was piqued. I'd never heard of the title or the author, and when I got home and searched the blogging sites I read, there were no reviews to be seen.I really enjoyed reading this book. O'Rourke's writing style is pleasant and flows easily, which is exactly what I needed since I'm still a bit foggy from being sick most of the week. I was caught up in the story very quickly--who doesn't like a ghost story?--and I had a hard time putting the book down. Actually, there is more to this book than just the ghost story, but I don't want to give away too much because I would risk spoiling it. Let's just say the last several chapters prove to be very intense!I also liked the way O'Rourke handled Susan's two men in her life--Bobby (disappeared and presumed dead), whom Susan had basically fooled herself into believing was the perfect man, and Dan, who truly was the perfect man--for her, I mean, naturally he had his own flaws. It was a very realistic portrayal of her relationships--luckily, in the end she found someone who was everything she wanted, rather than someone whom she had built up to be everything she wanted because that was what she wanted to believe and wanted to have. (I hope that made sense, I plead a fuzzy head from the cold if it doesn't!)All-in-all I thought it was a great escapist read, made even better by the fact that had I not been browsing BJ's, I likely never would have come across it! A ghost story/mystery from Susan's family's past, an emerging mystery in Susan's current life, and a love story with a happy ending. Now I've got to get my hands on O'Rourke's first book, The Man Who Loved Jane Austen--I like the sound of that!

Boston Scream Pie

Boston Scream Pie - Rosemary Mild, Larry Mild I have to admit, the title alone was enough to sell me on the book, though the cover leaves a bit to be desired. This was another one of those stories where I had a difficult time following the story initially because the scenes switched back and forth between characters that seemed to be totally unrelated. However, the Milds slowly bring everyone together in what I thought was a pretty slick plot line--one that I will also not divulge because it really is key to the story.Boston Scream Pie is one of those mysteries where you can piece together information and figure out who the culprit is, but there are so many mini-mysteries that you never really can have the full story figured out. Actually, one of the main mysteries is really uncovered with little fanfare, but there is so much to the story (and the reader likely has that part figured out, anyway) that I didn't mind this to be the case. Honestly, what makes this book (and probably the series, though I have only read this title) is the characters. The Milds do a great job portraying all of the family members and possible suspects of the various murders and it becomes interesting to debate who has the most likely motive. Truth be told, Molly and her "Mollyprops" (or malapropisms) really steal the show. In the beginning, it was amusing to see her misuse and mangle various words and phrases, but by the end it was hysterical, as the "slips of tongue" really grew to have double entendres or were just plain amusing in their tone. One of my favorites was "defacation of character" as opposed to defamation of character.Overall, Boston Scream Pie was an easy, light read that provided a lot of laughs. The relative simplicity of the mystery may disappoint some diehard mystery lovers, but the plot and outcome were all carefully drawn with a resolution that I am sure will satisfy most readers. I should also note that there is a bit of sexual content as well, though nothing very graphic or gratuitous--I felt that it was pertinent to the storyline.

A Circle of Souls

A Circle of Souls - Preetham Grandhi I am always interested in a good mystery or thriller, so when Mr. Grandhi contacted me about reviewing his debut book, I didn't hesitate to accept the offer. I'm happy to say that I was not disappointed!Perhaps what impressed me the most about this book was the level of detail that Mr. Grandhi included, yet wrote it in a way that does not bog down the reader. His background in child psychology is obvious and makes this story that much more intriguing and intense. He has a great ability to write the story from a child's perspective when necessary and his own love of children is evident--he really writes those elements of the book with great care. So in A Circle of Souls, instead of finding a story that proves cold and cynical as is so typical with crime novels, Mr. Grandhi has managed to inject a lot of heart and soul into the story. Leia Bines, Peter Gram, and the various law enforcement officials are all warm beings with a strong desire to help and protect children.More than a crime novel, A Circle of Souls also has paranormal and spiritual elements, as a young girl's dreams end up being clues to solve a brutal murder of another child. Here, Grandhi turns to Indian beliefs in the role of the soul and predestination, among other traditions. It truly makes for a fascinating read and a bit of insight into the Indian culture.In the end I didn't have a very difficult time concluding who the murderer was, but Grandhi's writing keeps you turning the pages to see everything resolved. The chapters are generally short and shift the focus back and forth between the two converging storylines, which is a great momentum-builder. I really thought that A Circle of Souls was a great debut novel and I look forward to seeing what Mr. Grandhi has to offer in the future.

Hourglass (Evernight, #3)

Hourglass - Claudia Gray For me, the Evernight series is a prime example of a series that improves with each book. I liked the first book, as I mentioned in that review, but wasn't blown away by it. Stargazer definitely drew me into the storyline further, but with Hourglass I didn't want to put the book down. Needless to say, I was pleased when I realized there will be yet another book in this series!I think the greatest strength in Gray's books is her characters, whether they are large or small. Some of my favorite characters (Vic and Ranulf) are rather inconsequential to the story in Hourglass, but they provide some much-needed comic relief and personality. Charity, who was more prominent in the first book, makes a strong return in Hourglass and proves that she is a force to be reckoned with. And of course, Bianca and Lucas' relationship continues to bloom, but will it survive all the obstacles that they face?If you have read some of my other reviews of series, you will know that I love a good cliffhanger... and the occasional plot twist. We have both in Hourglass, but my biggest concern is that I really hope everything doesn't get wrapped up too cleanly with too pretty a bow in the fourth book. I can even live with a not-so-happy ending... I just hate it when everything works out so well when it doesn't seem possible. Have I intrigued you enough, yet? Piqued your interest? Seriously, if you have been reading this series, I definitely recommend picking up Hourglass. I think you will enjoy seeing the story grow as Gray has grown with writing it. And if you missed it, please be sure to check out my interview with Claudia Gray as part of her blog tour. All the other participating sites are also listed so you can visit them, as well!

Sophie's Dilemma (Daughters of Blessing #2)

Sophie's Dilemma (Daughters of Blessing #2) - Lauraine Snelling I happened upon this book on a bargain table at Books-A-Million. Given that I've been trying to keep a more open mind about Christian Fiction and have actually very much enjoyed a couple of titles lately, I thought I would pick this one up. Thankfully, though it took me awhile to warm up to the story initially, I ended up enjoying it.Snelling's writing did not always have as much depth of detail and emotion that I like to find in a book, but she was able to tell a good story. I've always been partial to stories set in the West in the 1800's and early 1900's, so that initially drew my interest. Snelling was able to weave a story mixed with many blessings and occasional tragedies that not only brought Sophie back together with her family, but brought the town of Blessing closer together, as well. I felt like Hamre's death was rather anti-climactic when reading about it, but perhaps that's normal given that we're already given an idea that it will come when reading the back of the book... But I really enjoyed the romance that came Sophie's way later on, it was very sweet. And without giving anything away, let me just say that the scene where she is about to give birth was quite amusing and memorable. I think I might die of mortification if I had to be transported to the doctor the way Sophie was.Another plus for me was that I did not feel like I was being preached to, like I do with so many other Christian Fiction books. The religion and prayers to God were there, but I didn't feel like I was being told that I had to believe a certain way. That was something I appreciated for a change. This is the second book in the Daughters of Blessing Series, so I think I might have to hunt down the first to see what I missed.

T'Aragam (The Max Ransome Chronicles)

T'Aragam - Jack W. Regan Normally most of the books I read are for the Young Adult set and older, but when Jack W. Regan contacted me about reading and reviewing his book I couldn't pass it up since I enjoy fantasy so much. And let me tell you, this book was great fun, and I wish it had been around when I was the target audience/age for it.As you can see from the synopsis, there are some great characters with funny names, but even more importantly, T'aragam is a well-written story that grabs you from the beginning. Regan has done an excellent job weaving an adventurous tale infused with quirky humor that had me laughing out loud many times. Young Max Ransome is thrown into danger early on, escaping an attack on the Ransome Castle only to land in greater danger as he flees. After learning plans that the evil wizard Zadok has, he returns home to do what he can to disrupt Zadok's schemes. Just when you think the story is winding down, Regan throws in a twist to keep you on your toes.T'aragam is the first book in the Max Ransome Chronicles, and while it's certainly an easy read for me, I am will be likely pick up the next book (when it is available) so I can see how the story continues. Any young reader will likely enjoy this book, and it wouldn't surprise me if this story causes some readers to become hooked on fantasy books in general. It would certainly be a great introduction into the world of fantasy for the younger readers.

The Chameleon Conspiracy (Dan Gordon Intelligence Thriller)

The Chameleon Conspiracy - Haggai Carmon I received an email from Garmon's marketing agency, looking to send me a review copy of this book, and I jumped at the chance. I've discovered that I really enjoy political/government thrillers, thanks to Jack Bauer & 24, as well as Vince Flynn. I definitely was not disappointed with The Chameleon Conspiracy, though let me tell you the story is almost overwhelming!Haggai Carmon clearly knows his stuff, as the book is filled with so much detail with regards to the government, its agencies, and covert operations. Actually, I think I have a whole new respect for agents who go undercover after reading this book. There are many intense scenes that made me wonder how anyone can successfully assume a new identity--let alone have to do that all the time for their job. Even Dan Gordon commented once about keeping all of his identities straight--he dreaded running into someone he might have met from a previous case because he doubted he would know what name he had given them. To tell you the truth, I couldn't tell you how many different aliases he had in this one book!If you enjoy thrillers, particularly anything involving terrorism and state relations, then I definitely recommend this book. I will say that at times I got bogged down in all the detail--sometimes the writing was a little too dry or informational to pull me into the story. But overall, I enjoyed it and was glad to have this opportunity to discover a new-to-me author. The Chameleon Conspiracy is the third Dan Gordon Intelligence Thriller, so I have a feeling I'll be checking out the first two, as well.

Paranoia

Paranoia - Joseph Finder Paranoia is my latest discovery in the world of audiobooks for my daily commute. I have to confess I've been on the hunt for reasonably priced (cheap) audiobooks after discovering that our library system is severely lacking in this category. With Paranoia it was hard to beat a free download from iTunes, and I figured I'd give it a shot--nothing lost, right?When the story first started out, after a few chapters I wasn't sure I would be able to keep going. I got really, REALLY tired of the constant swearing. I'm not sure if it would have bothered me as much if it had been more off-hand, but as it was maliciously used by some characters when name-calling other characters in the corporate environment. In short, it really bothered me and I just didn't feel like it was a realistic representation of the way people in the corporate world behave--but what do I know? Additionally, I think hearing the word as opposed to reading it made me more sensitive to its use. (Here we have yet another case where a book can come across so differently on audio vs. the written words.)In the end, I stuck it out and I have to say I'm glad that I did. I very much enjoyed listening to the narrator, Jason Priestley--no, I don't think he's THE Jason Priestley of 90210/Brandon Walsh fame--I did some searching to see if he'd ever read audiobooks and came up empty, not to mention that it didn't sound like his voice. Anyway, I thought THIS Jason Priestley did a great job on the various characters and really helped add to the suspense of the story with good inflection while reading. The story itself is pretty intense, as you might imagine if you read the synopsis. But best of all, there was a twist at the end that I absolutely did not see coming until right before it happened and for me, it really made the book. So while there is strong language that may offend some, I still recommend this book for the story alone and I am tempted to look into other books by Joseph Finder.

The Jewel of Gresham Green (The Gresham Chronicles #4)

The Jewel of Gresham Green - Lawana Blackwell It's not often I find a book blurb to be so off the mark, but that was the case with this one. Not that I didn't enjoy the book, because I did, but this blurb is really quite a bit misleading and over dramatizes parts of the story quite a bit.I have to admit that the story gets off to a slow start and the plot is very difficult to follow for about the first quarter to third of the book. The transitions from chapter to chapter are a bit shaky as the scenes and characters change, but once every main character was located in Gresham, the story was ever so much easier to follow and get caught up in. The story really begins to pick up when the "evil man" mentioned in the blurb arrives, though his schemes really were not advanced the way the book blurb implies. The evil Donald is certainly an unlikable man and it was galling to read how various women fell for his fake charms. He was, however, a well-written character. Many of the characters are not particularly developed, though Blackwell does a pretty good job with Donald, Jewel, Aleda, and Loretta. In all fairness, this is actually the fourth book in the series, so many of the characters may be developed in other books.Something else I particularly enjoyed was that it was not immediately obvious with whom Jewel would eventually fall in love, however, once that was apparent it took an agonizingly long time for anything to happen! In fact, there is so much going on in this story, that it unfortunately overshadows Jewel's eventual romance and her own story. I really don't feel that this book was about Jewel as much as it was about an entire family in this village. In the end, we were really left with about two chapters devoted to the supposed romance, as if the author realized she needed to get everything wrapped up to close the book. Overall, once the story really got moving, it was an enjoyable light read with some good messages, while not being overly preachy. While this was the fourth book in the series, it did work as a stand alone novel and I do not feel I missed out on anything by not having read the first three books.

A Deadly Habit: A Penelope Santucci Mystery (Five Star First Edition Mystery)

A Deadly Habit: A Penelope Santucci Mystery - Andrea J. Sisco Thanks to Bostick Communications for my ARC of A Deadly Habit.Well, you all know how I love a good mystery, and it's even better when it happens to be a mystery that is full of humor. A Deadly Habit is Andrea Sisco's debut novel, and in my opinion it is a great start! Pen Santucci is a hilarious amateur detective, trying to clear herself of her soon-to-be-ex-husband's murder. You never know what might come out of her mouth, but chances are she would have been better off keeping it shut. Her sister, Germaine (the nun) is another great character--she lives a life devoted to God but can't resist getting involved with Pen's search for the truth. Yes, you really feel for Pen's lawyer, Marco, who is doing all he can to make sure his client isn't charged with murder, but has to be her keeper, as well. But he is determined to help Pen through this, if only due to the fact that he owes Father Daniel Kopecky a favor. I think Father Kopecky got a little more than he bargained for when Pen came to confession, though.Yes, a great set of characters really helps to make this story work. As for the mystery itself, it's pretty well done, with just enough given to the reader to let them have a guess at figuring out who really murdered Pen's jerk of husband, Paul. The main focus is really on Pen's crazy antics to discover the truth. I also rather liked that while you sense an attraction between Marco and Pen, it's not really addressed in great detail in the book, just a few lines here and there, leaving you to wonder what may come of the pair. It's become so common to weave in romances between principle characters in suspense/mystery books these days, it was refreshing to be left hanging about that this time around.While I normally prefer books to be written from a third person point of view, the fact that A Deadly Habit was written entirely from Pen's point of view did not really hurt the book. It actually gives further insight into Pen's character and why she is the way she is. (Hmmm, did I mention her crazy mother??) Overall, the writing is generally easy to read, if a bit choppy at times--to me that is easily overlooked and did not hamper my enjoyment of the story.If you enjoy mysteries or are looking for a book to give you a few laughs, I'd recommend checking out A Deadly Habit, due out this month. For a sneak peak, you can even read the first chapter here. And an additional note from Andrea herself--she loves talking with book clubs, so if you have any interest in having Andrea visit your book club (via phone or in person) please visit her web site and drop her a note!