Tag Archives: Review

The Killer Next Door Review

The Killer Next Door by Alex Marwood is a cross between a pointless horror story and an episode of Criminal Minds.

Colette is running from some money launderers and holes up in a really bad apartment complex that has some strange people living there. In a room next door, a killer resembling an Egyptian version of Norman Bates hides and the body count is rising. Its a combination of clumsiness and circumstance.

While the writing and characterizations are well done, its littered with bad language and graphically sexual scenes that go overboard to create a realistic skid row-like place in the United Kingdom. The exploration of the killers psyche reminded me of a Criminal Minds episode without the justice.

The story also felt like it was going everywhere and I felt like the story itself lacked depth. I gave this book 2 stars.

*Book given by publisher to review.

Advertisements

The Hundred-Year House Review

Books1-1The Hundred-Year House by Rebecca Makkai is a novel written backwards. It’s more art than story.

Zee is married to Doug. Doug is an unemployed writer and they are forced as a married couple to move in to the coach house of the hundred-year house. Zee’s mom lives in the great house. The property used to be an art colony. Doug is researching poet, Edward Parfitt. While living in the coach house, a couple from Texas moves in and causes problems between Doug and Zee. The Texan couple doesn’t yet realize it. It’s a complex novel with a good story that I felt ended well on page 167. The rest of the novel after page 167 is all back story ending with the prologue.

I’ve heard of novels like these, and agents say they are the hardest to write, because if you don’t do it right, it’s a project that loses the interest of the readers. Up to page 167, I thought the descriptions of the drama and plot twists were well-done. The cuss words and graphic descriptions were unnecessary. But the story well done.

It was after page 167 that I lost interest. At that point, I really didn’t care enough about the art colony to want to hear their individual points of view. I reluctantly finished the novel. I’m sure the art community will love that part of the book. Regular readers might feel bored through it and wonder why the story didn’t just end at page 167. I wished the novel could have been written normally with all the backstory fed into the twist and turns of the plot, ending the way it ended on page 167.

Sometimes art is distracting when one wants to read a juicy story. In spite of its back-story, I still give The Hundred-Year House three stars for complexity of characters.

 

Disclosure of material connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase this item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I might use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255, “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.” Book given by publisher to review.

Ex-Muslim Review

Diversity usually has a negative tone. One relates it to tolerance to everything except Christianity. It’s what liberals use, but indexEx-Muslim: How One Daring Prayer to Jesus Changed a Life Forever by Naeem Fazal gives a great definition of it through his actions without compromising the Gospel.

Ex-Muslim: How One Daring Prayer to Jesus Changed a Life Forever is written in a friendly, warm, and conversational tone. The book begins with Naeem’s story in Kuwait before the war. As he tells his story, and how he came to know Christ, Naeem also goes into the beliefs of a Muslim. Naeem goes on to explain how he started Mosiac Church in Charlotte, North Carolina. People who attend are not necessarily believers, but from varying cultural backgrounds. As Naeem tells his story, he also teaches how to reach the lost, how the church confused him, and the bumps he experienced when he launched Mosiac.

I read this book during an electronic fast. Even as I prepare for my own ministry next year, I am encouraged by his words. A person always assumes people who attend church are saved, but that is not the case. Jesus doesn’t expect people to come to Him after first expunging their own sinful behavior; Jesus just says come, and if you come, you will change out of love for a Savior who first loved you. What Naeem writes about reminds me of a quote by C.S. Lewis:

No amount of falls will really undo us if we keep on picking ourselves up each time. We shall of course be very muddy and tattered children by the time we reach home. But the bathrooms are all ready, the towels put out, and the clean clothes are in the airing cupboard. The only fatal thing is to lose one’s temper and give it up. It is when we notice the dirt that God is most present to us: it is the very sign of His presence.

—Letter to Mary Neylan (January 20, 1942)

What Naeem wrote helped me to clarify the vision of Cataclysm, and therefore, Ex-Muslim will remain in my library for re-reading as I grow to understand how to open the eyes of the closed-minded. I gave this book five stars.

Disclosure of material connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase this item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I might use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255, “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.” Book given by publisher to review.

Silver Bay Review

thumb.phpJoJo Moyes is a favorite author of mine. Her writing style is very visionary, and Silver Bay is no less than excellent writing; just too many characters and a plot that moves too slowly.

The plot sounded promising. A man goes to a seaside town to find property to put in a huge resort, but I get lost in too many points of view and side stories. The language is beautiful and it takes talent to make each character sound different from the writer’s own voice. Each point of view is distinct as is their personalities. But the story fails to enthrall me. It’s supposed to be a love story between the owner of a seaside hotel owner and a businessman.

Because of how slowly the plot moved, how the characters felt disconnected from each other, and how the chapters lacked tension, I finally just quit reading. If a reader buys a novel, they aren’t required to finish a book they lose interest in, and according to my book review policy, I also am not required to finish it. Out of respect to the publisher and the author (whom I absolutely love her other novels), I chose not to post this review on Amazon. I gave this novel two stars.

I do encourage you to read her other books though. See listing below of books I positively reviewed:

The Last Letter from Your Lover: A Novel

Honeymoon in Paris

The Girl You Left Behind: A Novel

Me Before You: A Novel

Disclosure of material connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase this item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I might use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255, “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.” Book given by publisher to review.

 

For Such a Time Review

suchIn the classic re-telling of the plot from the Book of Esther, Kate Breslin brings us to Nazi Germany in 1944 in her novel, For Such a Time. It begs the question: What could you have done to save the Jews?

Aric first sees Hadassah (or her assumed name, Stella) in Dachau. He appears to rescue her from certain death and takes her to his transit camp of Theresienstadt in Czechoslovakia where Stella becomes his secretary. From here, the plot follows as closely as possible to the story from the Book of Esther. Stella’s Uncle is one of the prisoners in the camp appointed by the Nazi’s to choose who will go to Auschwitz. When telephone lines go down, Stella gets a bag of cards to type up from the captain of the camp. Aric, in spite of his compassion, doesn’t stop the Jews from getting on the train, and Stella does the unthinkable and courageous by taking 160 names off of the list. 160 Jews were saved.

Stella lives in fear of being discovered and struggles with her choices. She wants to save all the Jews. Aric detests his job, too, but does his job anyway knowing he could lose his life if he takes any chances. The question that is asked throughout this book is: What would you have done in their place? You can’t save everyone without losing your life. If you lose your life, more die. If you save some, but not all, you live to save more people. Many stories in history show us the courage of people in Nazi-occupied territory and in Nazi Germany who struggled with this question every day of the war.

The book of Esther show us a similar recounting where Esther braved the wrath of a king to reveal her true identity, and in doing so, saved his life and the life of her people. We can choose to go along to get along, and someone else will be chosen to save people; or you can choose to do the right thing no matter the risk. While this is a work of fiction, Kate Breslin gives us a history lesson on the back of the book. I encourage you to read that when you are finished reading this novel.  For Such a Time is a romance novel set near the end of World War II–an unlikely set up of a Jewess and a Nazi Wehrmacht Officer who runs a transit camp. It was riveting. I gave it five stars.

Buy book here: For Such a Time

Disclosure of material connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase this item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I might use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255, “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.” Book given by publisher to review.

Critical Condition Review

indexCritical Condition by Richard L. Mabry (M.D.) kept my eyes to the page. Life would tear me away from the story, but I would hurry to return to discover Shannon and Meghan Frasier’s tumultuous relationship and whether Shannon could put behind the past to marry Mark.

Dr. Shannon Frasier witnessed her boyfriend’s murder when they were both in medical school. In later chapters, she is a doctor in a relationship with Mark, but unwilling to commit to a marriage. Meghan, her sister, is a typical family drama creator. But during the first chapter, Dr. Frasier witnesses a man get shot on her front lawn. Meghan’s boyfriend is also shot. The police question, and even suspect Meghan and Shannon. Detective Steve Alston is attracted to Shannon. The plot tightens as the police wonder if Meghan isn’t connected to a gang who robbed a bank. The money from the robbery never surfaced. While the plot fascinated me, the book had some minor issues.

I thought Shannon’s grief over her boyfriend, Todd’s, death was too quickly dealt with in the prologue.  The later chapters, however, showed the damage of her trauma better with Shannon’s inability to make lifelong connections. Her dislike of guns made sense as it was a reaction to the trauma with her boyfriend. The distance between her family and her, and her sister’s on-again, off-again drug issues all bring this plot to a boil.

Critical Condition showered us with all the pieces of the puzzle. I often felt impatient to turn the page, because I did wonder about the guilt of one character. The romance Steve felt for Shannon led me to believe Shannon and Mark would break up. Mark’s attraction to another girl didn’t need to be in there as it didn’t add to the plot. The emotion between Mark and Shannon felt too stilted and distant. Steve’s background with his deceased wife sparked my interest, and he popped back into the picture near the end when he is suddenly with Meghan. The initial pages suggested he would try to break up Shannon and Mark, and was almost dishonorable about it, persisting when he knew she loved Mark. So while I enjoyed the novel, I thought these problems could have been tweaked. I gave this novel three and a half stars.

Buy here: Critical Condition

Disclosure of material connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase this item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I might use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255, “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.” Book given by publisher to review.

Numb Review

Numb-Front-CoverA lot of people might be envious of Crusader’s numbness in Numb by John W. Otte. Crusader can get a lot done, perhaps though some not so ethical things like assassinating people, because he doesn’t feel anything. In battle, the laser guns tear through his flesh, but he can fight through his injuries like Hulk or Superman. Apply a bit of medical gel and those critical injuries heal themselves. Humankind in John W. Otte’s world lives in space.

Two distinctly different empire’s are in a cold war with each other: Ministrix and Preasidium. Crusader works for Ministrix–an organization that is modeled like the Jewish temple leaders; lots of rules and a Christ-figure that is accusing. Preasidium is secular, non-believing, but they don’t have any ethics or morals. A Toleration Act enacted by them to keep the peace between their empire and Ministrix makes any kind of faith illegal. In between, are the “catacombs”–an organization that teaches true faith in Christ and sends saved people out like missionaries into either empire. Crusader’s latest job is to assassinate Isolda Westin, an engineer on the Purim.

But the numbness breaks and Crusader is unable to kill the girl. Unfortunately, in his hesitation, he discovers Ministrix agents out to kill him, too. Crusader and Isolda run from Ministrix while both try to figure out the mystery of Ministrix’s plans to kill them both.

Numb is an excellent novel. The only problem I really had with it was part of the first chapter. To me, it was an eye-roller. A bit over-dramatic, I thought, in how the story broke, but the following chapters were much better. The following chapters with its descriptions and dialogue kept me reading as the struggle between Crusader and his “numb” increased with his attraction to Isolda. In the end, he has a choice to make when his real identity was revealed. The ending of the novel was perfect. I gave this novel four stars.

In conjunction with the CSFF Blog Tour, I received a free copy of this book from the publisher (affiliate links). Other people participating:

Julie Bihn
Jennifer Bogart
Keanan Brand
Beckie Burnham
Pauline Creeden
Vicky DealSharingAunt
Carol Gehringer
Victor Gentile
Rebekah Gyger
Nikole Hahn
Jason Joyner
Carol Keen
Emileigh Latham
Rebekah Loper
Jennette Mbewe
Amber McCallister
Shannon McDermott
Shannon McNear
Meagan @ Blooming with Books
Rebecca LuElla Miller
Joan Nienhuis
Nissa
Faye Oygard
Writer Rani
Nathan Reimer
Jojo Sutis
Rachel Starr Thomson
Steve Trower
Shane Werlinger
Phyllis Wheeler
Nicole White

 

A Draw of Kings Review

A Draw of Kings

A Draw of Kings (The Staff and the Sword) by Patrick Carr is the third novel in the The Staff and The Sword Series. In a A Cast of Stones (The Staff and the Sword), we meet Errol Stone, a drunken young man with no prospects until Martin and Luis discover he is a reader. The Hero’s Lot (The Staff and the Sword) find him part of the Watch, but trouble stirs in the church. Evil encroaches and King Rodran is dying. Now in A Draw of Kings, King Rodran is dead and the kingdom is threatened by evil on all sides of the kingdom.

One must have read the other two novels in order to fully understand book three. To some, that’s not a big deal, but I usually like each novel to be a complete story. Up until this novel, each book felt like a complete story. A Draw of Kings continues and ends the trilogy. The scene opens up to the heroes and heroine returning. Again, without prior knowledge of the past two books, it would be difficult to follow. A Draw of Kings is a wonderful wrap-up to the trilogy. Although, the ending mystified me as to how a dead man was able to live. I gave this novel five stars because, like the other two, I had to keep reading long after my husband went to bed.

Read my other reviews: A Cast of Stones and The Hero’s Lot.

Disclosure of material connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase this item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I might use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255, “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”  Book given by publisher to review. I am participating in CSFF Blogtour.

Author Website http://patrickwcarr.com/
*Participants’ links  

Gillian Adams
Jennifer Bogart
Keanan Brand
Beckie Burnham
Mike Coville
Pauline Creeden
Vicky DealSharingAunt
Carol Gehringer
Victor Gentile
Rebekah Gyger
Nikole Hahn
Jason Joyner
Carol Keen
Krystine Kercher
Jennette Mbewe
Amber McCallister
Shannon McDermott
Shannon McNear
Meagan @ Blooming with Books
Rebecca LuElla Miller
Joan Nienhuis
Nissa
Writer Rani
Nathan Reimer
Audrey Sauble
James Somers
Jojo Sutis
Steve Trower
Shane Werlinger
Phyllis Wheeler
Nicole White
Jill Williamson

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty

the-secret-life-of-walter-mitty-poster-mountain

Some people didn’t like The Secret life of Walter Mitty. Most loved it. The movie had many tender moments, relieved by silly scenes. Overall, its the kind of movie that inspires you to do something.

Like On a Clear Day, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty begins slowly. Walter works with photo negatives in the basement of Life Magazine, but Life Magazine has been taken over by new management. The last issue will be published in print before the whole magazine goes online. Number 25 by a famous photographer will be published in that last edition, but Number 25 is missing. So begins Walter Mitty’s frantic search for negative 25. Walter Mitty’s new boss says the next time he sees him, Walter better have negative 25.

Walter Mitty has never lost a negative. Over the years, though he has never met the photographer in person, Walter has established a distant friendship with the photographer. He also loves a girl he works with, but the girl doesn’t know it. Walter is so bored with his life that he continuously zones out, disappearing into his make-believe world where he beats up his boss and kisses the girl. The girl helps him look at the rest of the negatives as clues to where negative 25 might be hidden. Walter’s search for the negative takes him to Greenland, a boat, fights a shark, and into Iceland. Even after Life lets him go before negative 25 can be found, Walter continues searching out the photographer to find the negative. The journey takes him all over the world.

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty is the  kind of movie that inspires you to do something. It says find the courage to step into a helicopter or climb the highest mountain. The nice touch with Secret Life is how they incorporated EHarmony throughout the movie. Todd, the Eharmony guy, becomes Walter’s friend. I gave this movie five stars. We intend to buy it. It’s both funny and serious.

Book Review: The last Israelis

51SENk5jLaL._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-click,TopRight,35,-76_AA278_PIkin4,BottomRight,-52,22_AA300_SH20_OU01_

The Last Israelis by Noah Beck was reviewed via audio book through Audible. This is my first review of an audio book and I found it difficult to follow with all the different characters. I don’t think this is an issue with the author, but with me as the reviewer.

Even now, I am having trouble following the story so forgive me if my details are off. I have no page numbers or anything to refer to in my review; nothing to bookmark. I spent all day Saturday and some of Sunday sitting and listening to the novel. From my point of view, it’s a military novel about the Iran-Israel clash. The characters are the prime minister in Israel who has fallen mysteriously sick making Israel nearly leaderless during a critical time in their history. The cache of other characters take place on a submarine called the Dolphin. The cast is diverse from a gay person wanting to come out of the closet to a conservative. It seems message-orientated as each explains their point of view. Most of the story takes place on the submarine.

Objectionable content is at a place where the point of view gets confused when we switch heads and the swear words startle you. The swear words are not overdone or without purpose. The pros of this audio book is the later half of the novel when the action begins. The pros of this book is also the reader, too. The person reading the novel is very engaging. He does great voice impersonations and it’s not hard to listen to this novel, just hard to understand what is going on because of so many characters. When I listen to an audio book of the Bible, I understand what’s going on, but with so many characters in this novel, it’s very hard to follow. The story that comes clear from the story is the Prime Minister of Israel’s coma and awakening. Perhaps if I were to read the actual novel, I could follow it better.

The end of the novel disappointed me. The epilogue was the diplomatic cable that probably could have been left out as the only purpose it served was to be a message, instead of a story. I would have also liked to be left with some hope at the end of this novel.

Overall, it seems like social hour on the submarine discussing their points of view and politics, a lot of technical information, and some military action. I gave this novel three stars as an audio book.

*Book given by author to review.