Red: The New Rulebook: Christian Suspense series Book 1 by Joy Ohagwu ~ Review

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Red: The New Rulebook: Christian Suspense series Book 1 by Joy Ohagwu

Suspense and mystery novels are a great way to challenge our minds. That’s one reason why I read them so often. I purposely look for suspense writers who stay away from becoming too dark and dabbling into graphic horror. I don’t mind fantasy or science fiction either as long as the line isn’t crossed at this same point. There’s a fine line to toe when looking for this kind of balance. So when I find an author who can write this way successfully while engaging the reader’s intelligence, I like to tell others. This book fulfills most of the above criteria. The author is new to me, so the jury is still out, but so far, it looks good.

Robert and Ruby had been friends since they were just children living in an orphanage. All those years ago, they had backed each other up, joining forces and becoming fast friends. Now as adults, they were each traveling their own paths, yet still in contact and still supportive of each other. Both busy in their own lives, until one day Ruby discovered she had been framed for murder. Terrified, the first person she thought to contact was her friend Robert.

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Throughout the rest of this book, they were running for their lives, followed by a mysterious force that seemed to know their every turn. It had something to do with The New Rulebook. What was the New Rulebook? Think of a contemporary TRON gone bad. Or an Anakin Skywalker’s desire to rule the universe benevolently, for the good of everyone, turned sour. The meme, a good idea falls into the wrong hands. And why could Spock not defeat Captain Kirk at 3-D chess? Because he made unpredictable moves that defied logic.

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So how did Ruby and Robert live through their ordeal? They had two things in their favor. You get to find out by reading the book. And while the story comes to a satisfying conclusion, the overall plot is not quite finished. There is more to come in future books. I am eager to read these and find out what comes next.

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I liked the plot and the concept shared in this book. It’s a good premise, and the suspense is kept moving along very nicely. I would like to mention that I think this author has more to offer in the way of refining the details. There were moments when ideas were a little confusing, or the structure of sentences were not clear. A few phrases worded awkwardly were dotted throughtout the book, although more frequently during the first third of the pages. These types of problems were a little distracting in the beginning from the action taking place. Once they are cleaned up, this will be a much better book. I’m looking forward to seeing these improvements.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a complimentary review copy of this book from the author. I was not required to write a review, positive or otherwise. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

 

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Torn: The Salzburg Saga Book 2 by D.U. Okwonko ~ Review

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Torn: The Salzburg Saga Book 2 by D.U. Okwondo

The three books in this Saga basically form one continuous story. You will want to read these books back to back because of that. There is no segue. The first story stops abruptly and the next one continues. Torn is the second story in the series. The name is apropos because the second novel becomes the dynamic relationship interplay between the survivors of the plane crash in the frozen mountains of Austria that was introduced to us in Book one.

In this second book, friendships fray under the strain of waiting for rescue and starvation; relationships in one family are going all wrong; new revelations crop up that take everyone by surprise; and tension mounts with the looming threat of death of one of the survivors suffering from hypothermia.

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Book one was packed with action while book 2 is contemplative. It’s a soap opera on steroids when veneers slip after being packed into a tight space together, wearing on the nerves. Tension and revelations take the reader to a whole new level of suspense. Book one sets up the situation, and Book 2 develops it and cranks it up a notch.

To me, this is all great writing. In addition, you now have another point of view when you add Nina’s sister’s perspective. She is home, waiting to hear from her sister, when she learns about the crash. Her brothers come home from their travels to sit with Hazel and the tension mounts as they wait to hear from rescuers’ efforts.

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Again, like book one, I just couldn’t put this book down. I wanted to read it from one end to the other. And again, like the first book, the ending is abrupt, without any solid resolution. This is irritating to me, but when we finally get all three books together, it will read as one book seamlessly. All I can say is that I hope I don’t have to wait very long.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a complimentary review copy of this book from AXP Books on behalf of the author. I was not required to write a review, positive or otherwise. The opinions I have expressed are my own. 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.”

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Spiral: The Salzburg Saga Book 1 by D.U. Okonkwo ~ Review

Spiral pic

Spiral: The Salzburg Saga Book 1 by D.U. Okonkwo

The three books in this Saga basically form one continuous story. You will want to read these books back to back because of that. There is no segue. The first story stops abruptly and the next one continues. The book Spiral is aptly named. A normal situation where three young lawyers take a corporate jet sponsored by their largest client to participate in a networking event goes all wrong very quickly once they get into the air.

The story is written from basically two points of view, that of Jake’s, the pilot of the jet aircraft, and that of Nina, one of the lawyers in the group. As the situation on the jet becomes tense, we get introduced to all the characters as they interact with each other. Each person has a history which is revealed as the adventure continues and which keeps this event popping with intrigue and interest.

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There are two major settings: on board the aircraft and on the ground in the mountains of Austria after the jet crashed. The story line keeps us focused on the effort to survive a horrible situation. And while they are just trying to survive, the situation just continues to spiral out of control, getting worse and worse as time lapses. By the end of this first tome, two of the party have died.

There is continuous action in this first book. The pace is rapid enough to keep you reading without being able to put the book down. The author writes an effective buildup to the tension among the group, since there are people to blame and people who are innocent bystanders. At first, it’s unclear exactly who is who. That type of suspense propels the reader right into the next book.

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The author is very effective in building suspense slowly and painfully. I just couldn’t put this book down once I got started. I was immensely grateful that both books were in the same volume so that I could proceed to part 2 of the saga.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a complimentary review copy of this book from AXP Books on behalf of the author. I was not required to write a review, positive or otherwise. The opinions I have expressed are my own. 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.”

 

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Hamilton Robb by Reg Quist ~ Review

Hamilton Robb pic

Hamilton Robb by Reg Quist

The best description of this book I can think of is a Western Plus. What I mean by that is that there is a strong element of historical fiction, focusing on the period where much of the West was still pre-state territories–around the mid-1800’s. If I could tack on a subtitle to this book it might be ‘The Making of a Man.’

Still, that tagline doesn’t quite fit. There are actually two men who come face to face, and the contrast is stark. One is pompous and proud, unfriendly to a fault, arrogant, a cattle rancher from Texas. His name says it all, Big Bob Stanton. His life theme seems to be: trample or be trampled. The main character is from Arizona, a former deputy sheriff, a talented gunman who hung up his belt, invested in a small ranch and lived a life of a good neighbor, helping others handle the hardships of life, hard-working, tough as steel and yet humble and friendly.

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There is a face off, staged by one of the worst blizzards in 1888. In history, this blizzard was known as the Children’s Blizzard or the Schoolhouse Blizzard, because it came on in mild January temperatures while children were just being released from schools across the territory. Winds kicked up 50-foot mountains of drifts and temperatures dropped suddenly to 40 below zero F with nearly no visibility during the high winds. Hundreds died, many of them children on the walk home, with heroic stories of teachers saving some of their children.

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The horrors of this storm is the pivotal point of the story. It’s where the focus is on the character development of two men and their people. This is where the story becomes riveting. While the outcome of this showdown is fairly obvious from the beginning, it’s how it is fleshed out that makes the story worth experiencing while reading. The author is meticulous enough in the details of ranch living in the Old West to make this read fascinating without becoming as dry as sawdust. Those are signs to me of a great storyteller, a great writer.

On top of those characteristics, the story is chuckle worthy. It’s not a funny tale, because the hardships of living in that time period keep out such ill-timed humor, but the book was filled with moments I could chuckle over. Tongue in cheek statements, moments of the ridiculous, sarcastic observations are all appreciated with a bit of dry wit.

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This is a man’s western, written from a man’s point of view and with an intended audience of men who enjoy a good historical fiction. I’m not a man, but I enjoyed this book anyway. There were plenty of serious moments and even tragedies, but it has a great ending, filled with hope for the future, the satisfaction of overcoming a huge obstacle. I think women can enjoy this book too. There is even a hint at a romance.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a complimentary review copy of this book from CKN Christian Publishing on behalf of the author. I was not required to write a review, positive or otherwise. The opinions I have expressed are my own. 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.”

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Phoebe’s Journey: Part 1: Of Passion and Pride by Kathryn B. Collett ~ Review

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Phoebe’s Journey: Part 1: Of Passion and Pride by Kathryn B. Collett

My very first reaction after finishing this terrific historical fiction is ‘wow’! Kathryn Collett is a great storyteller. I literally picked up the book and spent hours reading it and couldn’t put it down until I finished. That doesn’t happen to me very often.

In the author’s note at the beginning of the book, she gives a little bit of background about the main character and a little about herself. I find myself drawn to the same type of book she has written. I have always been fascinated by the history behind the very earliest Christians living on the Mediterranean. That’s because after Jesus died, the Mediterranean Sea was the primary vehicle in spreading the Gospel throughout the Roman world. The author explains, “Phoebe is an actual historical woman who lived in the first century. But who was she really? Was she married? Did she have children? What motivated her? Who were her friends? When did she first cross paths with the Apostle Paul? What did she wear? What was she afraid of? Who did she love? These are just a few of the questions I’ve asked at various time.” This is the basis for this historical fiction.

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There are so many things to love about this author’s writing style. First, she is meticulous in her researched details of the lifestyle of citizens of Corinth, the life of the early Christians, and the early ministry of Paul the Apostle. I felt drawn into the story personally. All the details and story line give this book credibility. I felt I was right there, side by side with Phoebe, frustrated with her, desperate to save the family business with her, grieving and angry with her throughout her experiences when life becomes unfair.

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Second, the characters are believable. Human nature hasn’t changed at all in the past couple thousand years, and this author is adept at communicating human nature in all its variations of good, bad and evil.

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Third, for me this was a fast paced adventure. The writing is compelling, establishing an urgency as Phoebe seeks to make things right for her family and friends, in spite of the challenges and limited time she faces. Since this is the first book in a series of three stories, I am looking forward to reading the rest of the books. While this tale has a definitive conclusion, it also heavily implies there is much more to come. There is still more of the mystery to solve, and resolutions to make. I highly recommend this book to you. This is one of those books I will enjoy reading over several times.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a complimentary review copy of this book from Story Cartel on behalf of the author. I was not required to write a review, positive or otherwise. The opinions I have expressed are my own. 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.”

 

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30 Red Dresses by Johan Twiss ~ Review

30 Red Dresses pic

30 Red Dresses by Johan Twiss

When James’ book agent told him he should take a book signing tour of Asia, he could not imagine the adventures ahead of him in Cambodia. So what was he doing, trudging down a road trailing a troupe of 30 girls in red dresses?

Veata lived with her uncle until her eighth birthday. But on that fatal day, his greed overcame any feelings of filial love, and he sold her into sex slavery. The only time she had ever seen her uncle smile was when he was clutching the roll of bills as we walked away from her.

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In a flurry of accidental happenings, a strong storm, James, his translator and Veata along with 29 other girls in a brothel cross paths. All their lives changed. This is a fast paced story, wringing out all our emotions as this rag tag group struggles to gain their freedom and escape alive.

My heart aches for all the girls and boys in this trade. I was so touched by the personal story of little Veata and her “giant”. Johan Twiss has created a credible story that touched me deeply, without going into gory details.

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That is the purpose of this short story. It should help open our eyes to the frailty of life, the privileges of freedom of choice and what it might be like if our ability to live free from danger was forcefully taken away from us. And this human trafficking is not a blemish in foreign countries alone. Even your own town may be affected. I pray we all open our eyes and fight this horrible industry on all fronts.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a complimentary copy of this ebook through AXP Books Elite and the author. I reviewed this book voluntarily. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

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.”

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The Elephant’s Christmas by Paula Rose Michelson ~ Review

The Elephants Christmas pic

The Elephant’s Christmas by Paula Rose Michelson

What does an old arthritic bull dog named Muggsy, a perfume representative, a life threatening surgery and subsequent miraculous recovery, a Candy Cane Lane, an elephant, and butterflies all have in common? They are all part of this intriguing memoir penned by author Paula Rose Michelson.

If you are busy with all the seasonal preparations we often get ourselves involved in during the cluster of Holidays in the winter, don’t be overly concerned about reading a lengthy, dry memoir. This one pops with high interest stories, expressed in a variety of ways from short fiction to reminiscences. Some of these stories should be in a Chicken Soup for Christmas, if there is one. And it is only twelve chapters long. Each chapter is easily read in a short time.

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One of the chapters is written from another person’s point of view, nearly a piece of fiction of its own. Still another is actually a work of fiction with a surprising reference to a favorite children’s classic. Overall, I was delighted at the variety of stories in this short book. This is not your typical memoir. It was originally intended for family and close friends. I am happy that she decided to gift this work to us as well.

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My favorite chapter is about Butterfly Grove. I won’t spoil the fun of discovery, but having some experience with the wonder of butterflies with my own family made this chapter special. It gave me those “warm fuzzies” all over again. I hope you enjoy this book as much as I have.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a complimentary ARC copy of this book from the author. I was not required to write a review, positive or otherwise. The opinions I have expressed are my own. 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.”

 

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