Elusive Hope

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Title: Elusive Hope
Series: Escape To Paradise
Author: MaryLu Tyndall
Publisher: Barbour Books
Published: November 1, 2013
Pages: 320

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Magnolia Scott is a Southern Belle forced against her will into the forests of Brazil. With her overbearing father insisting on uprooting her family to escape the uncertainty of Southern life after the Civil War, Magnolia doesn’t have much of a say in the matter. As Magnolia sees her life full of suitors, parties, dresses, and beauty fade, she realizes she needs to find a way out of this horrid jungle, even if she has to run away to do it.

Hayden Gale had spent years seeking revenge against his scoundrel of a father. His search leads him to Brazil, where he’s believed to be helping colonize the jungle, and he plans to seek out his father and finish his search once as for all. With nothing to lose, definitely not a good reputation, Hayden keeps searching, but he didn’t think he’d have a companion particularly not the snooty Magnolia Scott.

As they journey to Rio de Janeiro, each for different purposes, they both try and use the other for their own purposes, but the more they travel together the closer they get and the harder the deception is to uphold. Magnolia begins to love the place she used to hate and Hayden begins to see a different side of Magnolia he never knew existed and both begin to feel differently towards each other with every step. One thing’s for certain, falling in love wasn’t in the plans.

Can Magnolia Scott learn to love the tropical land that is Brazil or will she leave to try and find love back home? Will Hayden get his revenge against his father or will he realize that revenge isn’t healthy? Can Magnolia an Hayden fall in love despite their differences or will their love be ripped apart by life and status? Can Hayden and Magnolia realize that the only One who truly matters in this life is Jesus?
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I love MaryLu Tyndall’s work. I have since the beginning and her first book, a pirate series that captured my heart. Since that first book MaryLu has definitely improved as an author and this book proves it. This book was eloquently written and heart tugging and I couldn’t get enough. Only MaryLu could make a book involving a con-man and a woman obsessed with her looks into a viable and romantic romance.

This romance is one of the best I’ve ever read! It had complexities and issues that made the romance feel realistic yet and kept my interest. This isn’t a hugely passionate romance, but neither is it stale. It has enough kisses and emotional connections to keep your attention without making it feel forced. The whole romance is just terribly romantic and plays on pretty much any historical romance buff’s fantasies. I absolutely loved this one!

The storyline of this novel is actually more than just a romance which definitely keeps your interest and because of the suspense of it, I actually stayed up until 2:30 in the morning to read it just because I couldn’t stop. There’s actually a really interesting secondary plot line that completely fascinates me and definitely makes me want to read the third book in the series. Without saying too much, it involves some creepy happenings and visions. It’s so gripping!

The setting of this book is gorgeous. I’ve never been to Brazil but MaryLu Tyndall’s description of this lush and green terrain creates a mental image that makes you feel like you’ve been there. In this book you really get to “experience” Brazil and because of that my opinion has kind of changed toward these colonists and their leaving America. This terrain has captured my heart along with the quirky mix of colonists that call it home.

MaryLu Tyndall captured me with her very first words in print and the inspiration for them, but this book captured me for a different reason and I’m glad I got the opportunity to see her grow into the amazing author she is today. This book is absolutely amazing and is definitely worthy rereading let alone reading. This author and all of her books come very highly recommended by me.

Overall, I loved it. It captured me from the beginning and I loved every second of the journey I got to go on. This book is perfect for romance lovers and lovers of the forest. This book is best left to adults and very mature teenagers. I give this book a five out of five.

*I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for this review. All opinions expressed are my own.*

Burning Sky

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Title: Burning Sky
Author: Lori Benton
Publisher: WaterBrook Multnomah
Published: August 6, 2013
Pages: 416

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Willa Obenchain’s life changed when she was abducted by Mohawk Indians when she was fourteen. After twelve years and the loss of her husband and two daughters, she decides to go back home to her family’s New York territory homestead. She intends to keep to herself and live alone, but her plans are dashed when she finds an injured Scotsman lying in her path and her feeling of obligation to nurse him back to health kicks in.

When Willa rounds the road dragging her wounded Scotsman, Neil MacGregor, behind her, she’s shocked and dismayed to see that a lot has changed in he twelve year absence. Her childhood home is in disrepair, her parents are missing and rumored to be Tories, and the young Richard Waring she once adored has now become a man twisted by the horrors of war. With Richard, Neil, and her Mohawk brother, Joseph Tames-His-Horse, pulling her in separate directions, Willa begins to realize that her life of solitude might not be so solitary anymore.

As Neil and Willa become closer, the homestead is plagued by tragedy after tragedy that are a lot more than coincidence and with the strong feelings against “savages” and anyone associated with them, Willa’s safety is unsure. With the possibility of losing the homestead to auction and Richard, Willa is willing to do almost anything to save it, but it seems someone else has other plans for her.

Can Willa save her homestead or will she lose it to the ruthless Richard Waring? Will Willa choose to go back with Joseph Tames-His-Horse to the People as Burning Sky or will she find her place in the world she once lived in? Will Willa let Neil into her heart or will she drive him away with her thickly constructed walls? Can Willa prove her parent’s innocence before auction or not? Can Willa find a place in the world of her childhood or will she decide she needs the Mohawks to be happy?
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Ever since I saw this book was up for review, I was excited about it. So excited, I jumped on it with lightning speed and have been patiently awaiting a time for me to read this one. It was completely worth the wait. I loved this one! Though it’s a debut novel for Lori Benton, I couldn’t really tell. This book flowed so well and worked so well that this book is fantastic for any author let alone a debut author. This is definitely going on my “favorites” list.

This book is set in post-Revolutionary War New York and it worked really well. The scenery is gorgeous and the terrain is rugged, which makes for the perfect historical novel. The author is very good at drawing you a mental picture of the lush, green terrain without being wordy and keeping you interested without being overt. The historical facts were sprinkled in without being too much or feeling like a history lesson and she showed a side of history few of us think about – what it was like after the war. It definitely worked well with the storyline and expanded on a very popular war.

The romance in this book was kind of a love-triangle but was also one of the more sweetly subtle ones that I’ve read, but trust me it works and it works well. Never once did I feel like the romance was rushed or was disappointed with the romance being laid out for me. There was enough passion to make it feel real but enough emotional bonding to make a solid believable romance. Lori Benton just crafted one of the best romances I’ve ever read.

There’s also some drama and suspense in this book. It’s enough to keep the book interested but not too much to make you feel jolted around. It definitely worked with the storyline and though I could’ve called the ending from the first quarter of the book, and I did, I enjoyed the road to get to the end and didn’t mind at all that I guessed the ending a long time ago. Flow is definitely a strong suit of Lori Benton’s and I look eagerly look forward to anything else she has for me.

Lori Benton’s first novel has made a fan out of me and I’d be lying if I said that she didn’t capture my heart with Willa Obenchain formerly Burning Sky. I can’t believe I enjoyed a debut novel as much as I enjoyed this one. I will jump at any opportunity to read more from this author and I can’t wait to see her grow. This author has created a fan and has me highly recommending this book to anyone looking for a 18th century Native American love story.

Overall, I loved this book. This book is perfect for those that love historicals or books about the Native American culture. This book is great for adults and maybe mature teenagers. Children should stay away as there is some very emotional and possibly frightening scenes. I give this book a five out of five. The highest score I’ve ever given a debut before.

*I received a complimentary copy of this novel in exchange for this review. All opinions expressed are my own.*

Fire Storm

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Title: Fire Storm
Author: Mackenzie Dare
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform
Published: February 16, 2013
Pages: 288

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When an incident occurs that threatens the life of young, happily married, mother Jess, it’s chocked up as an accident. That is until another incident happens right after with no logical explanation why. Jess is now a target in a murderer’s sights and no one knows why. She’s innocent and untouched by evil but she is marked for murder despite not having any enemies.

Jess’s husband, Jim, is a firefighter and loves excitement and danger, that is until that danger creeps closer to the one thing he loves most – his wife. Jim is trying to protect his family, but protecting them from someone unseen is harder than it sounds and Jim begins to feel helpless as more attempts begin to occur and he can’t stop them. He’s determined to keep his family safe but with an unknown enemy the only thing he can do is pray.

With Jim and Jess struggling to stay alive, their relationships to each other and God begin to grow but their determination to find the killer is just as strong. When one attempt goes too far, both Jim and Jess are pushed to the limit and their faith is tested as they find out just how much they trust God to take care of the ones they love and just how much they’re willing to let God have.

Why would a killer come after this family? Who is a secret enemy of the family or do they even know them at all? Will Jim and Jess be able to live through attempt after attempt or will one or both of them succumb to killer’s weapons? How will they find a killer that leaves almost no trace that he was there? Will everything work out for this farm grown Illinois family or will their lives be destroyed by the attempts of a killer?
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I tend to avoid self published books or books published by upstart or little known publishers because the quality of story usually isn’t as high as a well known publisher’s offerings, not to mention the covers and editing usually isn’t up to par. However, I’m very glad to have broken habit here because this book genuinely surprised me with how well it was written. There are some typos and flow issues but in general this book’s story was a very well written one and one I’m glad I got to read.

Being a first book by Mackenzie Dare, this book was actually really good. The suspense was actually pretty unpredictable with an unknown enemy, that I didn’t guess and was shocked to find out who he actually was, and a surprisingly taut pace. I was pleasantly surprised at the ability of the author to successfully keep me hooked until the very end, particularly after a somewhat slow start to the action. There was some pacing issues and at the end it felt a little forced and had a bit too much action but was still enjoyable and actually was one of the better suspenses that I’ve read.

The characters in this story were a bit too perfect with absolutely no real doubts about God or anything, but one part of this book stuck with me and I think it deserves a little nod. Without saying too much it’s basically a scene where Jess, instead of disregarding same instruction and being a hero, listens to her husband and goes and gets help without second thought. That’s usually not something a heroine does in a story and it showed extreme trust for her husband’s leadership to me. I felt it was worth noting. I think that detail was a nice addition on the author’s part.

There was a touch too little dialogue, a bit too much repetition of thoughts and ideas, and not enough portrayal of the character’s feelings so I could connect to them, but as I type this I remember my own failed attempts at a novel and how I struggled with these very same things so I give every new author a little leeway in this area. Another thing worth noting is that this book delves into some deep issues about Christianity and people sensitive to that could possibly did this book a bit preachy but for me I liked all the bible verses and answers to tough questions, I don’t get that very often in books so it was refreshing.

I don’t know anything about this author but I think I know that she lives around horses, possibly in the Mid-West, maybe even in Illinois herself because her knowledge and love of the area came out through these pages and made me fall for the land and horses too (and I’m a city girl). I also know that this author has amazing talent and with some work, she could easily become a household name in Christian fiction. If she isn’t published with a big publishing company in five to ten years I think I’ll have take up a petition to get her published. I actually really look forward to Mackenzie Dare’s next book and to seeing how she grows as an author.

Overall, this wasn’t a bad book particularly for a self-published debut. Fans of complex suspenses will enjoy this one and people who like a book that answers the tough questions will enjoy parts of this book. This book is actually a pretty family friendly read despite the genre it falls in. I’d say be careful of the age range but anyone thirteen and over should enjoy this one. I give this book a three out of five.

*I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for this review. All opinions expressed are my own.*

No One To Trust

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Title: No One To Trust
Series: Hidden Identity
Author: Lynette Eason
Publisher: Revell
Published: January 7, 2014
Pages: 336

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When Summer Abernathy wakes up one morning to find her husband missing and three men intent on finding him, life as she knows it is now gone and replaced with a life that she never thought existed. She now has to navigate the hurt and pain that her husband’s lies and betrayal bring but also the uncertainty and danger her new world has to offer. Now’s the time to decide her fate, if she can stay alive long enough to choose.

David Hackett, AKA Kyle Abernathy, made some decisions and some enemies that placed him in Witness Protection with a new name and new life. He never intended to involve someone else, until he met Summer and married her. Now he’s been found again and on the run – again, but it’s not just him he needs to worry about this time, but with Summer’s trust for him shattered, it’s hard to protect her.

While Summer tries to stay alive, she searches for answers about her husband and his life before her. Her search takes her deep into a world of organized crime where people are used one minute and discarded the next. And with her deepest relationship of trust destroyed, she doesn’t know who to believe or whether she can forgive her husband again, but one thing she does know, it’s a fight to stay alive and she’ll fight even if she has to do it with her lying husband.

Can Summer dig up the truth about her husband and his past or with her digging cost her everything? Can Summer forgive her husband or will his lies be too much for her to forgive? Can Summer and David stay alive long enough to do what made David get into Witness Protection in the first place or will the Mafia get to them first? Can U.S. Marshall’s keep them safe or is the Mafia’s reach just too far and strong to really escape?
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After Lynette Eason’s last series, I became a huge fan of hers and was very excited to the the opportunity to review her newest one. However, though this was typical Lynette style, it wasn’t a favorite of mine and didn’t grab me like her previous ones. It’s hard for me to pin down just why I didn’t enjoy this one as much as the others but I do know that there was something off about this story.

The suspense was awesome. It was full of action and bullets and definitely was a nail biter. At times I felt that the Mafia was a bit of a stretch for the story but overall, Lynette Eason did really well in crafting a believable and intense story about the Mafia after one man with the key to their freedom. For me it was fairly easy to guess certain things that were going to happen, others were a surprise, but that’s generally how Lynette Eason’s books go and I enjoy being surprised because it doesn’t happen often.

I think my problem with this book might stem from the characters. Summer was a but over dramatic about some of the secrets her husband had, others she was spot on about. She really held onto her anger towards her husband over his name the most and though I can agree with her anger, I think she maybe blew it out of proportion just a little bit and for a bit too long. David on the other hand is too perfect. Not once does he get frustrated with Summer, or anyone for that matter, and he manages to do everything right all the time, never once messing up.

That said though, the rest of the book was pretty good and I enjoyed the fact that the couple was already married so there was already love established. It made it easier and more believable to see their love reestablished instead of forming. It was also nice to see how a married couple could go through anything and come out with a stronger marriage on the other side. It shows a hopeful side of marriage that we don’t get to really see anymore.

Lynette Eason is still a favorite author of mine, but this book isn’t. I still look forward to her next book in the series, thanks to the nail-biting teaser at the back of the book. Lynette Eason is still the queen of thrilling suspenses that stretch the imagination, but this book didn’t feel as put together as I would’ve liked. I recommend this author and this book, but big fans of the author might feel like something’s missing too.

Overall, I enjoyed the book, but it wasn’t my favorite Eason book. I look forward to her next one to hopefully redeem this one. I recommend this for fans of suspense and or the Mafia. This book is not recommended for children but adults and very mature teenagers may really enjoy this one. I give this book a three and a half out of five.

*I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for this review. All opinions expressed are my own.*

Singularity

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Title: Singularity
Series: The Jevin Banks Experience
Author: Steven James
Publisher: Revell
Published: November 5, 2013
Pages: 464

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Illusionist Jevin Banks is determined to find out what happened when his friend is murdered deep in the jungle. Labeled as an accident, Jevin and his crew know differently and are drawn to the mystery that no one seems interested in solving. So the hunt begins and the more Jevin digs the deeper he’s drawn into a dark world of secrets and conspiracies until Jevin and his crew are in too deep to escape unscathed.

Jevin is determined to find out the truth, no matter what and that leads him and his crew into a world few even thought existed, a world where the human body is only a suggestion and the human consciousness can be uploaded into a robot. This discovery only leads to more confusion on Jevin’s side and questions about why his friend was involved in this world.

With more questions than answers Jevin keeps digging but the more he digs the bigger and more complicated the puzzle gets until it seems like it’ll never be solved. Still Jevin persists and soon the puzzle starts to get solved but what they discover is a dark secret that could change the fabric and future of humanity forever. Now Jevin and his crew must try and defeat an enemy that is different than any of them expected and hopefully come out alive.

Can Jevin find the reason his friend was killed or will he get lost in the puzzle? Will Jevin defeat the madman who’s after them or will they end up as mere casualties to his plan? Will Jevin be able to help save humanity or will he be too late to save anyone? Can Jevin and his crew outsmart the enemy and win the battle or will they be defeated by someone smarter?
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Having loved the first book in the series, Placebo, I was excited to get my hands on Singularity. Having extremely high hopes, I embarked on yet another journey with our lovable and trouble-prone hero/illusionist, Jevin Banks, and thankfully, I wasn’t disappointed. Steven James concocted yet another spine tingling, mind boggling, intellectually stumping suspense that definitely kept me on my toes.

My favorite part about all Steven James novels is the creepy almost horror-like bad guy and the realistic torture and gore scenes. Morbid but true. Steven James has a real talent for making a sadistic killer and thinking up new and unique ways to kill people. The one that I felt was the most gruesome and unique was at the very end. This may sound sadistic and morbid to those that have never read a Steven James novel, but for those of us that have and keep coming back for more, it makes total sense.

This book had a much thicker plot than Placebo and frankly at times it felt almost too thick. There was so many threads and people to keep track of that half the time you forgot who somebody was or why that part of the story was significant. In the end all the threads are connected and the story makes sense but the road getting there is a long, mind boggling one, which I guess help it be unpredictable but it still felt a little overwhelming at times. Not to mention that almost half of the research and technical talk I didn’t understand and because of that found myself skimming. I’m not a dummy, but I’m not a genius either and I found it very difficult to follow when they started talking about artificial intelligence. I am still very curious how the next book is going to go, though, because of how this one ended. It doesn’t seem like there’s much of a plot left for a third, but knowing Steven James, he will find a way.

This book is set in one my favorite cities and my future home, Las Vegas. It’s also the home to Jevin Banks and his illusion show on the Strip. The book was chock full of fun facts and history about Vegas that were handy, but probably not very necessary to the storyline, not that you’ll find me complaining. Though for those of you who don’t like the city or don’ care about learning about it, this will definitely get in the way for you. I loved it though, because it helped me learn about the city I will soon call home.

Steven James definitely knows how to construct a complex and unique suspense and I love it. I fully intend to keep coming back for more horror, gore, and mystery, because Steven James has hooked me yet again and I can’t wait to see how it all ends. I will eagerly anticipate the next installment of Jevin and his girlfriend Charlene’s story. This author, series, and book come very highly recommend.

Overall, though it can be confusing at times, it’s still a classic Steven James novel and fans of him will flock to this book and fall in love with his writing all over again. Fans of Steven James and fans of edgy suspense will love this book and it’s predecessor. I don’t recommend this book for anyone but adults as some scenes can be horrific and terrifying. I give this book a four out of five.

*I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for this review. All opinions expressed are my own.*