Aug 22, 2014

Armored Hearts, by Pauline Creeden & Melissa Turner Lee

Disclaimer: All reviews are the result of my personal opinion from a Christian stand-point. These reviews are provided for those who share my beliefs and morals, to help guide what fiction a reader may wish to pick up. For those who do not share these beliefs, please refrain from hateful comments. It is due to rude commenting that I must now include this note prior to all reviews. For more information, visit my purpose behind this blog. Thank you for your understanding.






Summary:
Intended Age-Group: 12+
Issues of Violence: fantasy violence
Intimacy Level:
Language: none
Recommendation: 4 out of 5 stars

Back Cover Blurb:
When a crippled young lord rescues a girl falling from a tree, it reveals a secret about himself and his mother's side of the family that could put him at the center of a war with beings he thoughts only existed in fairy tales. Tristan Gareth Smyth lived his entire life stuck at home at Waverly Park, left behind while his Grandfather makes trips to London, all because of his blasted wheelchair. Then an American heiress falls in his lap, literally, and he must find a way to keep her at a distance to protect not only his secret, but everyone around him from an assassin sent to kill him.

Initial Reaction: *****
I was skeptical at first. It took me a few chapters to really get in to the story or understand some things, but once I did I read through it at lightspeed! Well...at least it felt fast to me. ;)

Writing: *****
The writing is very simple and it took a while for me to get connected to the characters. The positive side of the simple writing means it was a quick read. After a few chapters, it didn't stand out to me anymore and I was able to fully engage in the story -- simple writing or not. :)

Characters: *****
I hate lies and secrets, especially between a couple. And one of the most infuriating things for me in a novel is when those secrets and plans that will eventually cause hurt and need a "great reveal" last through the whole book. It's like an ominous pendulum ticking down the seconds until relational chaos.

So...imagine my joy when Jessamine and Gareth actually talked out some of their problems. Without waiting until everything crashed down around their ears! They acted like a real couple might. Granted, real couples keep secrets, too, but I was so relieved when they pursued communication instead of secrecy. It surprised me. It surprised Gareth, too, but it was perfect.

The characters, after you get to know them a bit more, become very alive and well-developed.

Plot: *****
There's nothing I love more than watching a character make bad plans and then those bad plans don't work. Truly. Every book in which this happens sticks out in my mind as realistic, engaging, and surprising. Too often we're forced to watch characters play dumber-than-the-average-man (or woman) and then follow awful plans into predictable ruin.

This was my first steampunk novel so I wasn't sure what I was getting myself into. But the plot fascinated me! Steam mechanics and inventions mixed with fantasy. Creeden and Turner delivered it beautifully and I wasn't disappointed.

Favorite part: When Gareth and Jessamine finally became a team.

Spiritual Content: *****
Honestly, it's been a few months since I read this and I can't remember the details. From what I recall, The spiritual content was light, but present. The authors did a great job of bringing in morals and lessons without forcing them.


Overall, the entire story was uplifting, wholesome, and positive. I highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys clean fantasy.

Find the book on:
Goodreads
Amazon
Pauline Creeden's Goodreads Page
Melissa Turner Lee's Goodreads Page












Nadine Brandes is an adventurer, fusing authentic faith with bold imagination. She writes stories about brave living, finding purpose, and other worlds soaked in imagination. Her debut dystopian novel, A Time to Die, releases September 2014 from Enclave Publishing. When Nadine's not taste-testing a new chai or editing fantasy novels, she is out pursuing adventures. She currently lives in Idaho with her husband. You can find out more about Nadine and her books at http://nadinebrandes.com.
 

Aug 15, 2014

Dystopian book Giveaway!

You read it right: Who wants a free copy of my book, A Time to Die?

For those of you who follow this blog, you should probably know (if you don't already) that I'm an author. My debut novel comes out September 23rd. It's dystopian -- think Hunger Games or Divergent or Matched only with themes and messages based on Christ. Here's a little blurb:

www.nadinebrandes.com/my-books/

How would you live if you knew the day you'd die?
Parvin Blackwater believes she has wasted her life. At only seventeen, she has one year left according to the Clock by her bedside. In a last-ditch effort to make a difference, she tries to rescue Radicals from the government’s crooked justice system.
But when the authorities find out about her illegal activity, they cast her through the Wall -- her people's death sentence. What she finds on the other side about the world, about eternity, and about herself changes Parvin forever and might just save her people. But her clock is running out.
This is book one in the "Out of Time" trilogy (subsequent volumes coming in 2015 and 2016).


I got the advanced review copies (ARCs) of my book in the mail a couple weeks ago and am giving out one a week until I run out. To receive an ARC means that a few special readers will get to read A Time to Die early...in real book form! (So old-fashioned.) ARCs go out to readers in exchange for an honest review on Amazon, Goodreads, and all those other great book sites.

A couple notes about ARCS:

  • These are a little different than the final copy of the book. The back of the ARC has all sorts of marketing info. Meaning...it doesn't make a great birthday gift, 'cause it's kind of ugly. ;-)
  • The ARC may have some last little typos in it (author nightmare!) but the final book won't have said typos.
Enter to win an ARC through the Rafflecopter entry form below. Or, go here to enter and follow me on my author website! You have at least two more chances to win! :)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Aug 13, 2014

Dreamtreaders, by Wayne Thomas Batson

Disclaimer: All reviews are the result of my personal opinion from a Christian stand-point. These reviews are provided for those who share my beliefs and morals, to help guide what fiction a reader may wish to pick up. For those who do not share these beliefs, please refrain from hateful comments. It is due to rude commenting that I must now include this note prior to all reviews. For more information, visit my purpose behind this blog. Thank you for your understanding.





Summary:
Intended Age-Group: 10+
Issues of Violence: fantasy violence
Intimacy Level:
Language: none
Recommendation: 3.5 out of 5 stars

Back Cover Blurb:
Fourteen-year-old Archer Keaton discovers he has the ability to enter and explore his dreams. He is a "dreamtreader," one of three selected from each generation. Their mission: to protect the waking world from the Nightmare Lord, who wreaks chaos in the Dream World. But as Archer's dreams become more dangerous and threatening, so too does his waking life. 
Rigby Thames, the new kid from England, builds a suspicious rock star-like following at Dresden High School a little too quickly. Even Archer's best friend and confidant, Kara Windchil, seems taken in by the cool guy with the wild blond hair, which definitely rubs Archer the wrong way. Archer must face two foes in two worlds, but he cannot succeed alone. Archer sets off to find other dreamtreaders in a desperate attempt to defeat the enemy terrorizing his friends and family.

Initial Reaction: *****
I delight in books about dream worlds for many reasons that I won't waste time listing here. Dreamtreaders immediately caught me in its delicious web with its concept and cover art. I'll be forever drooling over the cover. FOREVER. (I mean it!)

But once I cracked open that cover, I didn't remain as hooked as I'd hoped. The writing style was very simple, even for the young age group.

Writing: *****
I try to lock my author/editing brain in a trunk while I pleasure read, but sometimes it peeks through the keyhole, sees what I'm reading, and screams a little.

It's very distracting.

That being said, there were some writing patterns that broke the pace of the story for me. I've lost the ability to know if it's just me, or if it's something that might distract the average reader, too. On occasion, it left me lost.

Characters: *****
The characters were, at best, average. I didn't connect with Archer at all, but that could be based completely on my subjectivity. Some of his choices didn't make sense to me, but I didn't get to know his character well enough in this book to know if these choices even matched up with who he was.

I have full faith that the characters will deepen as the series continues. :)

Plot: *****
I liked how Archer Keaton was chosen to be a dreamtreader, to be set apart for a specific calling. I also liked how we didn't know too much of when or how that started. We entered into the middle of the action and didn't have to sludge through a bunch of backstory and discovery.

While the characters were school-age and Archer had to deal with some real-world drama at school, it didn't bog down the story. We spent more time in the dream world than the real world, which pushed the action forward. But the real-world action was still hugely applicable to the entire story. Side characters had mysterious roles that kept me guessing the entire time whether or not she was so-and-so or if he would do such-and-such. I like having to guess and wonder as I read a book and the author really painted quite a bit of mystery.

The end battle really surprised me. If you read it, you'll know where I was fooled. It was brilliant. The rest of the story eventually concluded while leaving an enormous opening for book two. What a delightful mixture! :-)

Spiritual Content: *****
I know the author and publisher create books with Christian worldviews, but I didn't see any mention of God or evidence of belief. Maybe it was all figurative and I just didn't put it together. I can appreciate the clean content and safe humor, but I wasn't sure what the enormous takeaway was for the teenage believer. Keep fighting? Obey the rules? Trust in friends? I'm not sure...and I would have liked to know.


Overall, it was a good read. it was quite different than what I'd expected, but it is going in my stack of "Books for my Future Kids." [grin] Pick it up and give it a try! And revel in the glorious worldbuilding.

This was my first Batson book and I'm excited to read more. I give it a 3.5 mainly because of limited draw to keep reading. But for appropriateness and clean content, it definitely gets a 5-star.











Nadine Brandes is an adventurer, fusing authentic faith with bold imagination. She writes stories about brave living, finding purpose, and other worlds soaked in imagination. Her debut dystopian novel, A Time to Die, releases September 2014 from Enclave Publishing. When Nadine's not taste-testing a new chai or editing fantasy novels, she is out pursuing adventures. She currently lives in Idaho with her husband. You can find out more about Nadine and her books at http://nadinebrandes.com.