Friday, June 29, 2018

Fantasy Review: The Emerald Wars by Grace Watson

The Emerald Wars
by Grace Watson

When Leonie escapes from her life as a servant in the Emerald City, all she wants is to find her place in the outside world. After being saved by rebel fighter Dorothy, she finds herself drawn into a mission to retrieve the stolen heart of the Tin Man. But something much more sinister is happening in Oz, and before long they find themselves working with the exiled Professor Crow to save their home from being destroyed from the inside out.

It’s a perilous journey that pushes them to their limits, but the four friends keep going in search of the things they need the most; wisdom, love, courage, and a home.

'The Emerald Wars' is inspired by L. Frank Baum's 'The Wonderful Wizard of Oz'.

My Review:
Emerald Wars is set in Oz, but beyond borrowing the land and world, diverges from there. The Wizard has made himself king, and Dorothy has become a rebel set on taking him down. Leonie, newly escaped from the Emerald City, finds herself caught up in the cause.

This is a heartfelt story of love beyond rote definition. While there are no in process romances developing, two stories take center stage. Dorothy’s own and that of the Tin Man.  I thought Dorothy’s was sad, but didn’t engage with it on a deep level. The Tin Man’s, however, is revealed gradually in little flashbacks that are simply charged with emotion. The tragedy and the triumph of this relationship were the highpoints of this story for me.

I thought the action and dialog were very well done, though near the end when there were more players involved, I got lost and had to backtrack a couple of times to see who did or said what. The technology and magic systems were also an intriguing twist on the original stories. Definitely caught and held my interest.

On the other hand, the author’s views and message bled into the story so much that, at times, it took over rather than just support the plot. I also thought that some of the resolutions were just a bit too tidy and easy to be believed. It was sort of like a character shouting, “This is unfair,” and then everyone agreeing with them and the day is saved.

As for the quality of the book, I’d say it’s good. Aside from a few grammar issues near the end, it’s pretty well edited, and the story is well organized and sticks to a main theme.

Overall, I really liked this book. I think folks who enjoy LGBT themed stories in familiar fantasy settings might enjoy this.

I received the review copy of this book from the author.

~~Find Emerald Wars Here~~

About the Author:

Born in the North-East of England, Grace grew up in the Black Country and currently lives in Wales, where she is studying music and training as a classical singer. After spending her teenage years writing fan-fiction she published her first novel, The Story of Lizzy and Darcy, in 2017. She has too many books, not enough cats, and an alarmingly large collection of ceramic owls.
~~Author Links~~

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Apocalyptic Review: Armageddon: The Cosmic Battle of the Ages (Left Behind #11) by Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins

Armageddon: The Cosmic Battle of the Ages (Left Behind #11)
by Tim LaHaye, Jerry B. Jenkins

The scattered Tribulation Force is drawn inexorably toward the Middle East, as are all the armies of the world, when human history culminates in the battle of the ages. During the last year of the Great Tribulation, safe houses are no longer safe, and the cast of characters dramatically changes. By the time of the war of the great day of God the Almighty, the globe has become a powder keg of danger. Except those already in Petra, everyone has been forced to relocate as Antichrist ratchets up the pressure in the world's most treacherous game. Who will be left standing when the battle leaves the Tribulation Force on the brink of the end of time and the Glorious Appearing?

My Review:
This installment is all about setting the stage for the final confrontation, putting all the key players where they need to be and thinning the ranks of the Tribulation Force.

Chloe and her whole situation annoyed me. The others are also taking risks, but at least they have a good reason. Her blunder feels contrived, put in specifically to add to the tension, particularly for Buck. The way her fate plays out, though, was pretty well done, though it still made me mad that she got herself into it.

I overall enjoyed this one for the action. Still quite preachy, but the story picks up.

About the Authors: 

Timothy "Tim" F. LaHaye was an American evangelical Christian minister, author, and speaker, best known for the Left Behind series of apocalyptic fiction, which he co-wrote with Jerry B. Jenkins. He has written over 50 books, both fiction and non-fiction.

Timothy "Tim" F. LaHaye was an American evangelical Christian minister, author, and speaker, best known for the Left Behind series of apocalyptic fiction, which he co-wrote with Jerry B. Jenkins.

He has written over 50 books, both fiction and non-fiction.

Jerry Bruce Jenkins is an American novelist and biographer. He is best known as co-author of the Left Behind series of books with Tim LaHaye. Jenkins has written over 185 books, including mysteries, historical fiction, biblical fiction, cop thrillers, international spy thrillers, and children's adventures, as well as non-fiction. His works usually feature Christians as protagonists. In 2005, Jenkins and LaHaye ranked 9th in's 10th Anniversary list of Hall of Fame authors based on books sold at during its first 10 years. Jenkins now teaches writers to become authors here at his website. He and his wife Dianna have three sons and eight grandchildren.

Books in this Series:

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Thriller Review: The Chemist by Stephenie Meyer

The Chemist
by Stephenie Meyer

In this gripping page-turner, an ex-agent on the run from her former employers must take one more case to clear her name and save her life.

She used to work for the U.S. government, but very few people ever knew that. An expert in her field, she was one of the darkest secrets of an agency so clandestine it doesn't even have a name. And when they decided she was a liability, they came for her without warning.

Now she rarely stays in the same place or uses the same name for long. They've killed the only other person she trusted, but something she knows still poses a threat. They want her dead, and soon.
When her former handler offers her a way out, she realizes it's her only chance to erase the giant target on her back. But it means taking one last job for her ex-employers. To her horror, the information she acquires only makes her situation more dangerous.

Resolving to meet the threat head-on, she prepares for the toughest fight of her life but finds herself falling for a man who can only complicate her likelihood of survival. As she sees her choices being rapidly whittled down, she must apply her unique talents in ways she never dreamed of.

In this tautly plotted novel, Meyer creates a fierce and fascinating new heroine with a very specialized skill set. And she shows once again why she's one of the world's bestselling authors.

My Review:
Quite a thriller.

I also dig how there is still, despite the main character’s best efforts, a blossoming love story. The draw of a potential happily ever after against the threat of a tenacious and heartless adversary really pulled me in.

I don’t think I’ve ever come across a story where the main character meets her love interest in quite this way. The play between her solo survivalist tendencies and her desire to right a wrong gives just the right mix of tension and humanity.

Overall, I loved it and would recommend it to fans of thrillers.

I borrowed the audiobook from the library.

About the Author (from Stephanie Meyer's Goodreads profile):

I was born in Connecticut in 1973, during a brief blip in my family's otherwise western U.S. existence. We were settled in Phoenix by the time I was four, and I think of myself as a native. The unusual spelling of my name was a gift from my father, Stephen (+ ie = me). Though I have had my name spelled wrong on pretty much everything my entire life long, I must admit that it makes it easier to google myself now.

I filled the "Jan Brady" spot in my family-the second of three girls. Unlike the Brady's, none of my three brothers are steps, and all of them are younger than all the girls. I went to high school in Scottsdale, Arizona, the kind of place where every fall a few girls would come back to school with new noses and there were Porsches in the student lot (for the record, I have my original nose, and never had a car until after I was in my twenties). I was awarded a National Merit Scholarship, and I used it to pay my way to Brigham Young University, in Provo, Utah. I majored in English, but concentrated on literature rather than creative writing, mostly because I didn't consider reading books "work" (as long as I was going to be doing something anyway, I might as well get course credit for it, right?).

I met my husband, Pancho (his real name is Christiaan), when I was four, but we were never anywhere close to being childhood sweethearts. In fact, though we saw each other at least weekly through church activities, I can't recall a single instance when we so much as greeted each other with a friendly wave, let alone exchanged actual words. This may have been for the best, because when we did eventually get around to exchanging words, sixteen years after our first meeting, it only took nine months from the first "hello" to the wedding. Of course, we were able to skip over a lot of the getting to know you parts (many of our conversations would go something like this: "This one time, when I was ten, I broke my hand at a party when-" "Yeah, I know what happened. I was there, remember?")

We've been married for ten and a half years now, and have three beautiful, brilliant, wonderful boys who often remind me chimpanzees on crack. I can't write without music, and my biggest muse is, ironically enough, the band Muse. My other favorite sources of inspiration are Linkin Park, My Chemical Romance, Coldplay, The All American Rejects, Travis, The Strokes, Brand New, U2, Kasabian, Jimmy Eat World, and Weezer, to mention a few.
Author Links:

Books by this Author:

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Fantasy Review: The Burning Sky (The Elemental Trilogy #1) by Sherry Thomas

The Burning Sky (The Elemental Trilogy #1)
by Sherry Thomas

It all began with a ruined elixir and a bolt of lightning.

Iolanthe Seabourne is the greatest elemental mage of her generation—or so she's been told. The one prophesied for years to be the savior of The Realm. It is her duty and destiny to face and defeat the Bane, the most powerful tyrant and mage the world has ever known. This would be a suicide task for anyone, let alone a reluctant sixteen-year-old girl with no training.

Guided by his mother's visions and committed to avenging his family, Prince Titus has sworn to protect Iolanthe even as he prepares her for their battle with the Bane. But he makes the terrifying mistake of falling in love with the girl who should have been only a means to an end. Now, with the servants of the tyrant closing in, Titus must choose between his mission—and her life.

The Burning Sky—the first book in the Elemental Trilogy—is an electrifying and unforgettable novel of intrigue and adventure.

My Review:
I totally adored this trilogy. From the first pages, Iolanthe and Titus just click as heroine and hero.
I think Iolanthe having to hide in plain sight, Titus trying to push down the knowledge of his personal doom, and the two of them trying to disregard their attraction for each other all play to the reader’s advantage.

I also found the humor in this story to be spot on. Iolanthe as Fairfax has quite a charm about her (him). The interplay between her and the other boys at Eton and with Titus feels natural and quick witted.

As for the prophesies, they drive the tension and are woven in just enough to make you want more and hope against hope that some of them won’t come true.

Overall, I adored this and would recommend it to fans of fantasy set in the real world.

I borrowed this audiobook from the library. The fellow who narrates it does a fantastic job of carrying off the humor and the timing.

About the Author:
Sherry Thomas writes both historical romance and young adult fantasy.

On the romance side, she is one of the most acclaimed authors working in the genre today, her books regularly receiving starred reviews and best-of-the-year honors from trade publications. She is also a two-time winner of Romance Writers of America’s prestigious RITA® Award.

On the young adult fantasy side, there isn’t much to report yet, her debut book, THE BURNING SKY, book 1 of the Elemental Trilogy, has received a starred review from Publishers Weekly and been named to the Autumn ’13 Kids’ Indie Next List.

Sherry writes in her second language. She learned English by reading romance and science fiction—every word Isaac Asimov ever wrote, in fact. She is proud to say that her son is her biggest fanboy—for the YA fantasy, not the romances. At least, not yet…

Author Links:
Twitter @sherrythomas

Books by this Author:

The Elemental Trilogy (this series):

Lady Sherlock Historical Mysteries:

The Fitzhugh Trilogy:

The London Trilogy:

The Heart of Blade:

I'm not exactly certain I found all of Sherry's books. Take a look at her Amazon page to discover more.