From my Bookshelf – Supernova Era by Liu Cixin

The premise of the book is an intriguing one. Eight light-years from planet earth a star created a supernova event that caused strange lights in the sky. Unfortunately, the supernova also polluted the atmosphere with radiation that attacks the human body at the chromosomal level. All humans over the age of 13 will be dead in less than a year. Leaders of every nation in the world take on the unenviable task of training the best and brightest 13-year-olds to run the world once the inevitable happens.

The book, originally written in Chinese, focuses on three students from the same classroom entrusted with the task of running China once the adults have all passed. An overwhelming task even for the most skilled adult, the needs of a nation weigh heavily on young people who are barely teenagers. Children’s natural preference is to play. Trying to work at adult jobs while taking classes at night quickly becomes tedious and children simply stop going to work. The desire, all across the globe, to create a world that is more fun and play-based than the world the adults left them leads to the most bizarre and violent global game ever imagined.

I enjoyed the premise and the responses of the kids to the demands of the adult world were absolutely authentic. The only thing I found difficult to deal with was the author’s tendency to wax philosophical in the midst of a work of fiction. It didn’t necessarily detract from the story, but it did tend to slow the pace down a bit. But the story is still very well-crafted. There is one “why did they do this” kind of mystery that was left unsolved so I’m not sure if there will be a sequel of the author just meant to leave things not completely settled. 

From my Bookshelf – Feathers and Fae by Crystal L. Kirkham

Long-held secrets, mystical realms, and one stubborn young lady who is more than she seems. If you enjoy a well-written fantasy story, Feathers and Fae is worth the read.

When a banished evil who goes by the name of Aseth returns, intent on regaining the power he once had, Emmett exercises some of his magic – a well-kept secret until that moment – to protect his friend Kami. But his magic does more than he expected and the two find themselves in a different realm called Mythos, a place of magic and creatures Kami thought only existed in books. As they seek passage back to the realm where Earth is contained, Emmett finds it more and more difficult to keep secrets from Kami. Being in Mythos has somehow given her the ability to sense when someone is lying to her and she quickly figures out that all is not as she has believed it to be.

As their situation becomes more dangerous and Aseth draws closer, Emmett has no choice but to tell Kami the whole truth. Can they stop Aseth once and for all? Or will all of Emmett’s attempts to keep Kami safe end in failure?

The characters were very well-developed and the relationship between Kami and Emmett was just what you would expect from two people who were supposed to be lifelong friends. When Kami is able to sense Emmett’s lies, the tension between them adds a measure of intensity to the story, especially when Aseth is practically on top of them! Even when everything seems hopeless the reader can’t help but root for these two and the friends who help them. The ONLY thing I was missing was more detail in the world-building. That lack may have been due to the fact that the characters were on a journey that took them through a few different regions of Mythos. Whatever the cause, I struggled to visualize the world as a whole but it wasn’t enough to detract from the enjoyment of the story!

From my Bookshelf – In My Time of Dying by David J. West

I have to be honest – I was drawn to this book mostly by the cover. The synopsis of the story was definitely intriguing, but the artwork of the cover is what sold me.

This story did NOT disappoint! In 1875, Elizabeth Jane Dee finds herself drawn into a world of intrigue and magic when she receives a mysterious note requesting her help and promising that someone will protect her since her task will be dangerous. Before she can even find out what she is being asked to do, she encounters dangerous men who all carry the same tattoo and are definitely from another part of the world. They demand that she lead them to the monster and willing to kill her if she won’t cooperate.

She finally meets her protector – a mysterious man named Rockwell Porter – and sets off across the American West to help a man she knows only as Mr. Methuselah. The tattooed men are in hot pursuit, led by a man who calls himself Count St. Germain, and Elizabeth discovers that she possesses some supernatural skill that she never knew about. But exactly who is Mr. Methuselah? Why is Porter Rockwell helping her and is he truly immune to bullets? And who is this Count St. Germain really?

The book ends with a captivating cliffhanger that has me very eager for the sequel. The author’s ability to combine historical fiction with the mystical makes this a series I will definitely be finishing!

From My Bookshelf – Walking Shoes by Lynne Gentry

Leona Harper is a pastor’s wife in a small-town church. As is often the case for women like her, every choice Leona makes is up for scrutiny among at least a few members of the church. Her efforts to put forth the kind of image that will keep the church people happy has strained her relationships with her two adult children and left her exhausted.

Then one Sunday morning, her husband, J.D. Harper, drops dead in the pulpit from a heart attack. She doesn’t have a job and she is living in the parsonage, the home that the church owns and provides as housing to their pastor. What is going to happen to her now that her husband is gone? Not only does she have to process her grief at losing the man she loved, but Leona also has to face her son David and daughter Madison, neither of whom are big fans of their mother. And then there’s her mother who was NEVER happy that J.D. decided to be a pastor.

With the help of her outspoken friend Roxie, Leona re-enters the workforce, learns to stand up to the busybodies in the church, and is able to communicate with her kids like never before. She learns that the “negative nellies” in the church are far outnumbered by those who are genuinely fond of her and are looking out for her.

I am a pastor’s wife and I have to say that Leona’s story is so true it is almost painful! The author describes a lifestyle that is so unique that only another pastor’s family can truly understand the scrutiny that you live with when hubby is in the pulpit every week. The toll that such a life can take on family relationships was depicted in a real and honest way without lumping all people of faith into the same negative box. Leona discovers some real friends among the church members and her kids even start to find the good in a situation that had long been a source of frustration for them both. The first in a series, this is a very realistic peek into life in the parsonage and I will definitely be continuing the series!

From my Bookshelf! #Indiecember

This isn’t so much about a specific book review. It’s about a fun book challenge I’m taking part in during the month of December. The amazing Megan Tennant (check out her Twitter feed HERE) has organized the Indiecember book review challenge again this year and I’m so excited to be taking part. Unlike many other reading challenges I’ve been a part of, this one is LESS about reading books and MORE about reviewing books written by independent authors.

Indie authors rely heavily on the reviews that readers provide on websites like Goodreads and Amazon. So Megan, an author herself, has organized this yearly event specifically to help out those indie authors with book reviews. The idea is to spend the entire month of December helping out indie authors by talking about their books all over the sites I mentioned above PLUS posting links to those reviews on social media. Twitter seems to be an especially active site for authors and readers alike. Instagram is pretty popular too.

Love to read? Willing to take a few mintues to give an honest review to an author who doesn’t have the budget of a big publishing house to promote their book? Then check out all the info from Megan over on Twitter (the link is HERE) and join in the fun!

Book Review

Tosca Lee once again crafts a story that keeps you breathlessly turning pages until the very end. And then it leaves you wanting more.

We meet Wynter Roth in the middle of her story – she’s being forcibly removed from The Enclave, the home of the cult known as New Earth. She leaves with one goal in mind – to return and rescue her sister Jaclyn and Jaclyn’s daughter Truly. There’s just one problem – Jaclyn is married to the leader of New Earth, a man named Magnus. And he’s the one kicking Wynter out into the world that he has taught his followers to fear. Thankfully, she’s barely past the boundary of New Earth when she is met by an old family friend, Julie, who is determined to help Wynter get her bearings. Julie and her husband Ken let Wynter move into the apartment over their garage and they make arrangements for her to see a therapist when she becomes overwhelmed by all the sudden change in her life.

The outside world is a strange place to Wynter. She’s never used a smart phone, watched television, or “surfed” the internet. And the world she’s entered is facing a serious problem that is only just becoming apparent. Numerous people are struggling with what seems to be an early-onset form of dementia and the doctors are baffled as to the cause. Especially because it seems to be contagious. To make matters worse, the power is going out and the gas stations are running out of fuel. Outside forces using the health scare to their advantage perhaps?

Beautifully weaving flashbacks together with Wynter’s current experiences, Lee takes the reader on an emotional ride through the events that led to Wynter’s expulsion from the Enclave and places her squarely at the center of a national health crisis. She reconnects with a former cult member that had supposedly died and even gets a chance to see her sister (outside of the Enclave) who entrusts her with the monumental task of transporting precious cargo that could hold the answer to curing the epidemic that is sweeping the nation. Along the way, she meets Chase, a former Marine who makes it his personal mission to help Wynter make her very important trip (once he forces the truth out of her, that is). And that former cult member? She introduces Wynter and Chase to Noah who has gone to great lengths to provide a safe, secure hideaway for just the type of crisis currently taking place.

Underlying all of this is Wynter’s own personal struggle to figure out just what or who is worth believing in. As a child, Wynter’s faith in Magnus and his teaching was firm and unwavering. In her adult years, she learns things about Magnus that cause her to question everything she once believed. So is she really sorry to be leaving when Magnus casts her out? And just exactly how does Jaclyn, the wife of The Prophet, come into possession of items that could prove invaluable to the CDC in treating and stopping what is shaping up to be a pandemic?

Book Review – Rising of Three

Ever have one of those reading experiences where you finish a book or a series you were COMPLETELY invested in and don’t really know what to do with yourself now that the story is over? If you answered yes to that question, then you would be able to empathize with how I spent part of my afternoon.

I just finished the third book of The Starseed Trilogy and I’m absolutely done in! In the first book, we meet Lily, Evelyn, and Sara, three women in their very early 20’s who are triplets but don’t know it! They were all given up for adoption by their mother, Brigit, as a way of protecting them until they “came of age”. These three were born witches and, if the prophecy was to be believed, they were very powerful ones. So powerful that they would be the only ones capable of stopping a dark force from another dimension that wished to subjugate the human race and rule the earth.

Each story contained a battle against evil with each battle being more intense than the one before. And this third installment in the series did not disappoint! The triplets finally come face-to-face with Dimia, the King of the Fata, and once again encounter his seneschal, Noro. But they don’t face these two evil creatures alone. A number of those in the “supernatural community” believe that the triplets are indeed the three spoken of in the prophecy and it doesn’t take long before the girls have their own small army to lead.

But sometimes battles exact a painful price; even when that battle is against a force of evil that must be stopped. While the losses were heartbreaking (I literally said, “No!” out loud at one point), the grief of the characters helped lend credibility to the storyline and the battle scenes contained therein. It would have been just a touch TOO incredible if the girls and their army had escaped completely unscathed.

Love, revenge, forgiveness, restored relationships, . . . it’s all here. Wrapped up in a powerful story of three women who come to cherish the sisters they never knew they wanted. 

Book Challenge Update

Not too long ago I shared that I was doing multiple reading challenges this year. Yes, I know that sounds a little nuts but it’s actually going pretty well so far. Mostly because I’ve read books that fit at least one category in multiple challenges. Here’s a quick run-down of the titles I’ve completed so far.

**Disclaimer of sorts – I always start my new reading challenges the day after Christmas. It allows me to take advantage of the down time during Christmas Break and get a good start on my reading.

Here are the titles I’ve read so far, the categories that each book “qualified for”, and my brief reaction to the book. So far I’m very lucky that I’ve not run into anything that was completely awful!

Cinder by Marissa Meyer

I enjoyed the “sci-fi” take on the classic tale of the stepsister who had no friends in her home. Haven’t decided if I’m adding the rest of the series to my TBR – but I’m kinda dying to know how the whole thing ends since the ending was VERY open-ended.

  • Popsugar – set in space (took some liberties with this one since a kingdom on the moon factors into the story)
  • Reading Women Challenge – from a series
  • 52 Books, 52 Weeks – teen as main character
  • Color Coded – red
  • Ragdoll – been meaning to read (had a friend mention this one a couple years ago; it’s been on my TBR since then!)

Where’d You Go Bernadette?  by Maria Semple

This one was fun! It’s written in a different format. Rather than traditional chapters, the story is told through emails, letters, conversations, and the occasional interjection from Bernadette’s daughter as she seeks to prove why her mother, the title character, went missing and figure out where she might be.

  • Popsugar – question in title
  • Reading Women – woman with mental illness
  • 52 Books, 52 Weeks – discusses mental health
  • Color Coded – Blue
  • Ragdoll – award winning book or author

Scarlet – Stephen R. Lawhead

I had already read the first book in this series. I actually like this one just a smidge better! But it’s really not a fair comparison since this book didn’t need to deal with as much expositions/backstory/explanation as the first novel did!

  • Popsugar – inspired by myth/folk tale/legend
  • 52 Books, 52 Weeks – re-telling of a well-known story
  • Color Coded – any random color
  • Ragdoll Reading Challenge – color in title

Boneman’s Daughters – Ted Dekker

I’ve read this one before but that was a while ago! Still in love with Dekker’s ability to develop complex, believable characters!

  • 52 Books, 52 Weeks – military related
  • Ragdoll – “blood”, “bones”, or fear in title

Rogue Fae – Ashley McLeo

I discovered McLeo’s work because of random conversation on Twitter. And I’ve fallen completely in love with her Starseed Trilogy. This title is a prequel novella. But don’t let the size fool you – it’s a great story!

  • Popsugar – someone with a superpower
  • Reading Women – novella
  • 52 Books, 52 Weeks – self-published
  • Color Coded – green

Rising of Three – Ashley McLeo

This is the final book in her Starseed Trilogy. Remember that random Twitter encounter I mentioned? I not only discovered her work, I got to chatting with her and have become a part of her “street team” which means ARCs and other goodies! This is probably the last of her books that will find itself on my list!

  • Popsugar – should be a movie (really, the entire series should be a movie series, in my humble opinion)
  • Reading Women – religion other than mine
  • Ragdoll – passes the Bechdel Test (actually, the whole series passes the test!)
  • Monthly Challenge – I took liberties with the word “top” for the month of January

My Favorite Thing is Monsters – Emil Ferris

Graphic novels are a genre I’ve not ventured into much. The artwork was impressive, the story had some really captivating moments. It’s the first of a series so I may or may not complete the story someday!

  • Popsugar – no chapter headings/weird chapter headings
  • Reading Women – Lambda Literary Award Winner
  • 52 Books, 52 Weeks – Graphic Novel
  • Ragdoll – Graphic Novel

So there you have it – 7 books and right around 28 categories covered. AT present, I’m reading “Escaping from Houdini” by Kerri Maniscalco and “Dune” by Frank Herbert. I KNEW I would love the Maniscalco novel (it’s the third in a four book series – title number 4 comes out later this year!) but I’m delightfully surprised by how quickly I became engaged with Dune. Sci-Fi is kind of a hit or miss category for me – some titles I’ve loved, others have been too “tech speak” heavy for me. I’m REALLY enjoying Dune.

From My Bookshelf – Souls of Three (The Starseed Trilogy Book #2)

This one is a day late because I didn’t post on Christmas.   But here it is!

As the second book of The Starseed Trilogy opens, the triplets – Lily, Evelyn, and Sara – are taking a break from their “magical training”. Lily has traveled back to Oregon to spend some time with those who raised her while Evelyn returns to New York City and her job with her adopted dad’s company. When Lily returns to Fern Cottage, she is told that Evelyn’s work will be keeping her in New York City longer than was originally planned – an important new client to get settled in. To REALLY complicate matters, Evelyn falls for this new client, a charming man by the name of Roman Simons. Does she really want to leave him and return to Fern Cottage? Would he understand if she told him who she really was? And then he invites her on a weekend getaway in some remote luxury home.

Meanwhile, Lily, who is more than a little frustrated that Evelyn hasn’t yet returned, discovers that Sara and Evelyn have been talking on the phone during Evelyn’s prolonged absence. And when Lily finds out that Evelyn is enjoying a weekend getaway with the new man in her life? Things can’t help but get more tense between two sisters who have had difficulty getting along from the start.

But the handsome, charming Roman Simons is not all that he appears to be and Evelyn quickly finds herself in a nightmarish situation that she, with her fledgling magic skills, cannot handle alone. She doesn’t know if her sisters even know she is in trouble, much less if they can do anything to help.

Back in Fern Cottage, the family discovers a traitor in their midst. A lifelong friend sends a letter to the Brigit, the triplets’ mother, admitting that she was behind the chaos in Alexandria that resulted in Lily losing a family member. But this person isn’t confessing anything because she doesn’t feel the least bit guilty. She openly admits that she has had a hand in helping to abduct Evelyn. The family immediately takes action, seeking to rescue Evelyn and deal once and for all with the vampires Amon and Empusa.

But new powers arise in the girls and new pieces of the prophecy fall into place. The bond between the sisters grows stronger and they learn that their own power increases when they lean on one another.

This captivating sequel moves the story forward with new plot twists and new faces while continuing to beautifully develop the characters and relationships I most loved from the first book. Some enemies are vanquished, others escape, and a traitor has yet to be dealt with. And it all leaves you waiting to see what happens in the final installment! Will the magic skills of the three sisters be enough to defeat Dimia and the Fata? The fate of the human race hangs in the balance.

Special Edition! From My Bookshelf

I got the incredible opportunity to be an Advanced Reader for Tosca Lee’s upcoming book, “The Line Between” – WOW!!! If you are already a Tosca fan, you won’t be disappointed.  If you’ve never read any of her work, WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR?!  I just finished the book today and put out an early review on Goodreads so I thought I’d share the link here.  The book comes out January 29, 2019, but you can pre-order your copy on Amazon right now.

Click HERE to read my review.