Tag Archives: fiction

The Evaporation of Sofi Snow by Mary Weber (Thomas Nelson, 2017)

{Book Review – The Evaporation of Sofi Snow by Mary Weber}

The Evaporation of Sofi Snow by Mary Weber (Thomas Nelson, 2017)

About the book (from the publisher):

The Evaporation of Sofi Snow by Mary Weber (Thomas Nelson, 2017)

For fans of Ender’s Game and Blade Runner comes a story of video gaming, blood, and power.

Ever since the Delonese ice-planet arrived eleven years ago, Sofi’s dreams have been vivid. Alien. In a system where Earth’s corporations rule in place of governments and the humanoid race orbiting the moon are allies, her only constant has been her younger brother, Shilo. As an online gamer, Sofi battles behind the scenes of Earth’s Fantasy Fighting arena where Shilo is forced to compete in a mix of real and virtual blood sport. But when a bomb takes out a quarter of the arena, Sofi’s the only one who believes Shilo survived. She has dreams of him. And she’s convinced he’s been taken to the ice-planet.

Except no one but ambassadors are allowed there.

For Miguel—Earth’s charming young playboy—the games are of a different sort. As Ambassador to the Delonese, his career has been built on trading secrets and seduction. Until the Fantasy Fight’s bomb goes off. Now the tables have turned and he’s a target for blackmail. The game is simple: Help the blackmailers, or lose more than anyone can fathom, or Earth can afford.

From the award-winning author of the Storm Siren Trilogy, step into a diverse cast of characters spanning from the electric metropolises of earth to the chilling alien planet above, in a story of re-finding yourself in the midst of losing the one thing you love. Before it all evaporates.

My thoughts:

I was excited to finally read a Mary Weber book. (The Storm Siren series is on my to-read list! I hear the world-building is great in those books.)

This young adult novel is set in a dystopian and intriguing future world after World War IV. Told in alternating third person points of view between Sofi and Miguel, I found Sofi’s character arc to be the strongest and most developed. There’s much to like about Miguel, but I found I wanted a little more of how his past affects him and what his true motivations are much earlier in the book.

The premise is absolutely intriguing and includes a fight against human trafficking. However, I found myself a little too confused about the details of the world and how it works (particularly the FanFights, as well as the government structure) until about the fifth chapter. But, if you can stick it through that confusion, there’s enough to follow and pickup subsequent details in later chapters. I also found too many side characters (particularly within the Corp higher ups and governmental officials) were thrown at us in the first ten chapters or so, making me having to pause reading and flip back to figure who was who again. The characters in the second half of the book are much more streamlined and easier to follow.

The plot keeps the reader’s attention in this book, along with themes of misplacing and gaining trust, governmental challenges, ethical issues, and family bonds. A YA book club would find much to discuss from the book.

The discussion questions in the back are framed well and allow readers to dive deeper into the themes within the book. In fact, some of the discussion questions (like about Miguel’s internal character arc) gave me a better understanding of some of the themes and characters than I found within the novel itself.

For fans, there will be a sequel, coming in March 2018! Check out the info about Reclaiming Shilo Snow, which is already available for preorders, too. I’m intrigued enough (and the cliffhanger!) to want to check out the sequel next year.

Reclaiming Shilo Snow by Mary Weber (Thomas Nelson, 2018)

Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher as a part of the BookLook bloggers program. All opinions expressed are my own and this is my honest review.

I am an affiliate for Amazon Associates. If you click on an Amazon link and then make a purchase, I receive a small commission. This does not affect your final cost at all. Thank you for supporting this blog and my family!

This site is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.

Life After by Katie Ganshert (Waterbrook, 2017)

Why or Who {Book Review – Life After by Katie Ganshert}

We have a few authors in our family who become “immediate must-reads” when they have new books. In the kidlit world, these include (but are not limited to) anything from: Natalie Lloyd, Jason Reynolds, Kadir Nelson, Kristy Dempsey, Nora Raleigh Baskin, Caroline Starr Rose, Patricia MacLachlan, Jacqueline Woodson, Stacy McAnulty, Bryan Collier, and many more.

In the adult fiction world, one of my personal “must-reads” is Katie Ganshert.

Life After by Katie Ganshert (Waterbrook, 2017)

About the book (from the publisher):

Life After by Katie Ganshert (Waterbrook, 2017)

On the day of a late spring storm, in Chicago, Autumn Manning boarded an “L” train. A bomb explodes, killing everyone in the train car except for Autumn—the sole survivor. A year has passed and Autumn suffocates under a blanket of what ifs and the pressing desire to bring the victims back to life, every day, if only for her. She doesn’t want their stories to be forgotten. She wants to undo what cannot be undone. An unexpected ally joins her efforts, also seeking answers and trying to find a way to stumble ahead.

But one victim’s husband, Paul Elliott, prays to let the dead—and their secrets—rest in peace, undisturbed and unable to hurt his loved ones.

Caught between loss and hope, these restless souls must release the past to embrace a sovereign God.

My Thoughts:

In Life After, Katie Ganshert surpassed my expectations. Really.

Katie dives into deeper, more tumultuous topics with empathy and skill. Life After alternates in third person between Autumn Manning’s point-of-view and Paul Elliott’s perspective. Each character is broken. Each character has secrets. Each character is on a course of internal and external discovery. But, also each character reacts differently to tribulations, and yet, the reader can empathize and understand both.

The main and side characters are all realistic, interesting, and varied. We want to watch Autumn’s story unfold. We want to see Paul heal. We want to learn more about Reese. We want to hear Ina May keep talking.

The Chicago setting roars with life and yet charms with quirk. The setting ties in aptly with character recall and emotions. We feel Autumn’s tension near public transportation. We feel Paul’s ache as he searches for his daughter.

And then there’s the faith journey. Life After asks tough questions. But they are questions (at least some, if not all) many of us have wondered. Questions many of us have discussed and read to learn more about. And questions that have no answers except in God’s knowledge. Part of this book is about just that. The trust the comes with faith and realizing that we cannot–and perhaps should not–always know all the answers. And about light in the chaos.

I highly recommend reading Life After. And then pass a copy into someone else’s hands to read, too.

Who is one of your “must-read” authors?

Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher. All opinions expressed are my own and this is my honest review.

I am an affiliate for Amazon Associates. If you click on an Amazon link and then make a purchase, I receive a small commission. This does not affect your final cost at all. Thank you for supporting this blog and my family!

This site is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.

The Bronte Plot by Katherine Reay (Thomas Nelson, 2015)

Book Review – The Bronte Plot by Katherine Reay

The Bronte Plot by Katherine Reay (Thomas Nelson, 2015)

About the book (from the publisher):

The Brontë Plot by Katherine Reay (Thomas Nelson, 2015)

When a rare-books dealer goes to England, she discovers more than just the famous writing haunts—she discovers how to love and be loved in today’s modern world.

Victoria Seward makes a living finding rare books through means that aren’t always on the up-and-up. But if it makes the clients happy, who is she really hurting? After all, everything always turns out all right in the end. At least it does in her favorite books, the ones her absent father sends every year on her birthday, no matter where he is.

When her unorthodox behavior ruins her relationship with her boyfriend James, Victoria knows something has to change—she has to change. Enter Helen, a wealthy client seeking a companion for her trip to England to purchase antiques, and who just happens to be James’s grandmother. Helen has secrets of her own, secrets that help her relate to Victoria more than anyone can guess.

As Victoria and Helen travel across England, Victoria suspects there is more to this trip than Helen lets on. When Helen’s health falters, Victoria reaches out to James, reigniting feelings that were never truly extinguished.

Everything comes to a head at Haworth, home of the Brontë sisters, when hidden offenses rise to the surface. Victoria’s happy ending is within reach—if she can step out of the literary world and into the life that’s been waiting for her all along.

My Thoughts:

I’m a fan of Katherine Reay’s writing. In the books I’ve read of hers so far (read my review of Lizzy and Jane here, which I loved), she always includes real characters who are broken, need growth, and therefore very relatable.

She includes such characters in her newest novel, The Brontë Plot, too. Besides heavy doses of Austen, Dickens, and C.S. Lewis (love!) references, Katherine Reay includes intriguing, literary-inspired locales in this book, as well.

Like many classic British novels, this book includes a large amount of dialogue, at times favoring dialogue over action. I don’t mind this at all and think it works well for this book, and for the type of book it aims to be. Katherine Reay also regularly includes varied relationships. There’s a romantic plot line, yes, but it doesn’t always take the focus of the book, a choice I enjoy. In Lizzy and Jane, one of the main plot lines centered on the relationships between two sisters. In this newest novel, The Brontë Plot, we see an interesting and intertwined friendship of growth between Helen (James’s grandmother) and Lucy.

I did find that it look me three-fourths of the novel to actually come to like Lucy, the main character. She has many faults, as we all do, but I found myself unable to care about her as much as the other characters because of disconnection formed from some of her choices. That said, Lucy’s growth provides a great opportunity to grow in liking her. All of Reay’s characters experience reflection and some measure of both challenge and growth, which makes for an interesting read.

Many readers may also find themselves willing to give certain classics a chance after how Reay’s characters discuss them in this book, which is a great benefit. I’ve added a couple of classics to my to-read list, too!

What’s one of your favorite novels that includes other literary quotes/influences?

Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher as a part of the BookLook blogger program in exchange for my honest review. All opinions expressed are my own.

I am an affiliate for Amazon Associates and GrapeVine Studies. If you click on an Amazon link or a GrapeVine Studies link and then make a purchase, I receive a small commission. This does not affect your final cost at all. Thank you for supporting this blog and my family!

This site is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.

The Five Times I Met Myself by James L. Rubart (Thomas Nelson, 2015)

Book Review – The Five Times I Met Myself by James L. Rubart

The Five Times I Met Myself by James L. Rubart (Thomas Nelson, 2015)

About the book (from the publisher):

The Five Times I Met Myself by James L. Rubart (Thomas Nelson, 2015)

What if you met your twenty-three-year-old self in a dream? What would you say?

Brock Matthews’ once promising life is unraveling. His coffee company. His marriage.

So when he discovers his vivid dreams—where he encounters his younger self—might let him change his past mistakes, he jumps at the chance. The results are astonishing, but also disturbing.

Because getting what Brock wants most in the world will force him to give up the one thing he doesn’t know how to let go . . . and his greatest fear is that it’s already too late.

My thoughts:

The premise of this book is enticing and something most people have probably considered. What would you change about your past? What would you tell your younger self to help change things, if you could? How would any of those changes–even the small ones–affect all of your future?

The author dives into these situations and explores various possible outcomes in this book. Because the main character doesn’t know what’s really happening and what’s really being changed or not, the reader is kept guessing as well, which helps create intrigue and quick page turns.

However, I did find myself pulled out of this world and its believability. I don’t know too much about time travel theories, but I kept wondering, wouldn’t Brock be a completely changed person in each of the time lines? Wouldn’t even his memories change? Or wouldn’t those changes erase the “now” Brock? Something the author reveals at the end of the book helps to partially explain these questions, and includes the stance that God can do all things, even what we would consider impossible, but I still found that these holes pulled me out of the story several times. I also didn’t find myself connecting wholly with all of the characters at all times. I feel like I didn’t get to know some of them as Brock did before they changed in “alternate time lines.”

That said, the themes included in this book of healing, redemption, grace, forgiveness, and God always giving second (and third and fourth…) chances are fantastic themes to consider and reflect upon. Readers will find themselves reflecting on their own lives and whether what we are investing our time in are truly the right things.

Check out the Litfuse page for more information about the author and the book.

What’s your favorite time travel novel?

Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher as a part of the Litfuse blogging team in exchange for my honest review. All opinions expressed are my own.

I am an affiliate for Amazon Associates. If you click on an Amazon link and then make a purchase, I receive a small commission. This does not affect your final cost at all. Thank you for supporting this blog and my family!

This site is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.

The Splendor of Ordinary Days by Jeff High

Book Review – The Splendor of Ordinary Days by Jeff High

The Splendor of Ordinary Days by Jeff High

About the book (from the publisher):

The Splendor of Ordinary Days by Jeff High (NAL, 2015)

The pastoral charm of small-town Watervalley, Tennessee, can be deceptive, as young Dr. Luke Bradford discovers when he’s caught in the fallout of a decades-old conflict.

After a rocky start as Watervalley’s only doctor, Luke Bradford has decided to stay in town, honoring the three-year commitment he made to pay off his medical school debts. But even as his friendships with the quirky townsfolk deepen, and he pursues a romance with lovely schoolteacher Christine Chambers, several military veterans’ emotional wounds trigger anger and unrest in Watervalley.

At the center of the clash is the curmudgeonly publisher of the local newspaper, Luther Whitmore. Luther grew up in Watervalley, but he returned from combat in Vietnam a changed man. He fenced in beautiful Moon Lake, posting “Keep Out” notices at the beloved spot, and provokes the townspeople with his incendiary newspaper.

As Luke struggles to understand Luther’s past, and restore harmony in Watervalley, an unforeseen crisis shatters a relationship he values dearly. Suddenly Luke must answer life’s toughest questions about service, courage, love, and sacrifice.

My thoughts:

There’s a lot to like about this novel with its small-town setting, array of characters, and sincere topics of forgiveness, service, courage, and love. I particularly enjoyed the pieces of setting the author wove within, as well as the ordinary, daily interactions between many of the side characters and the town doctor, Luke Bradford.

While I liked most of the characters, I didn’t strongly connect to any one character. I also found myself withdrawn from some of the novel’s world while reading because of a few complications, including extra phrases within the writing (like adverb-laden phrases that could be eliminated and yet still inferred by the readers from other character actions), regular breeches of doctor-patient confidentiality (even though it’s a small town), and a few possibly stereotypical choices within characters or actions that left me either a bit uneasy or uncertain. (For example, I couldn’t figure out why the next-door neighbor kid, Will, was regularly referred to as peculiar for liking poetry and being introspective. He just seemed awesome to me.) I also didn’t fully sense Christine and Luke’s romantic connection, though part of this may be because I haven’t read the first two novels in this series.

Perhaps the best portions of the novel are those focusing on post-traumatic stress disorder, particularly among veterans. Several different characters had served in different ways, and all were dealing with PTSD in various forms. These scenes allow for a great deal of consideration on the effects of PTSD and how communities can be aware of different needs and offer healing.

Litfuse and Jeff High are offering a Kindle Fire HD 6 Giveaway! Click the image below for details. Also visit Litfuse’s tour page on this book for more reviews.

Splendor of Ordinary Days

What are some of your favorite small-town novels?

Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book from the Litfuse Publicity Group as a part of their blogger program in exchange for my honest review. All opinions expressed are my own.

I am an affiliate for Amazon Associates. If you click on an Amazon link and then make a purchase, I receive a small commission. This does not affect your final cost at all. Thank you for supporting this blog and my family!

This site is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.