Thursday, March 16, 2017

Review of The Illusionist's Apprentice by Kristy Cambron



From the Back Cover:

Not all illusions happen on the stage.

Wren Lockhart, apprentice to master illusionist Harry Houdini, uses life on a vaudeville stage to
escape the pain of her past. She continues her career of illusion after her mentor’s death, intent on burying her true identity.

But when a rival performer’s act goes tragically wrong, the newly formed FBI calls on Wren to speak the truth—and reveal her real name to the world. She transfers her skills for misdirection from the stage to the back halls of vaudeville, as she finds herself the unlikely partner in the FBI’s investigation. All the while Houdini’s words echo in her mind: Whatever occurs, the crowd must believe it’s what you meant to happen. She knows that if anyone digs too deep, secrets long kept hidden may find their way to the surface—and shatter her carefully controlled world.

Set during one of the richest, most vibrant eras in American history, this Jazz Age novel of illusion, suspense, and forgotten pasts is perfect for fans of The Magician’s Lie, challenging all to find the underpinnings of faith on their own life’s stage.

For more information about Kristy Cambron and her books, check out her website here!

My Thoughts:

"Truth is the illusion we always chase." - Elliot Matthews, The Illusionist's Apprentice

I should say that I'm a sucker for anything vintage related. And I'm a fool for all 1920's Jazz Age things.

So. Yeah. *foolish grin*

Despite my love of all things vintage, I still found myself enjoying certain aspects of this novel more than I even thought I would. Stunning! Kristy Cambron paints such a vivid picture of vaudeville that I could almost feel the handcuffs and hear the applause of the crowd...

Sorry, got lost there for a moment. ; )

Wren Lockhart is an illusionist who longs to be free, but she lives her life behind illusions. I enjoyed seeing her break free from her chains to find real peace. While we see plenty from the loveable Elliot Matthews, the story revolves mostly around Wren. We don't tread the depths of Elliot's backstory very much, so the glimpses we receive are meaningful. I loved seeing him learn what a hero really was. Sometimes a hero rushes into battle. And sometimes he waits.

Four Stars. A beautiful, stunning portrayal with an equally stunning message. The suspenseful mystery proved to be complex, yet utterly fascinating.  The Illusionist's Apprentice is Kristy Cambron's fourth book, but it is a standalone novel.

I received a copy of The Illusionist's Apprentice by Kristy Cambron published by Thomas Nelson from BookLook Bloggers. All opinions expressed are my own.

God bless you guys, and I'll see you next time!

Hugs!

~V. Joy Palmer

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Review of Still Life by Dani Pettrey




From the Back Cover:

Someone is out there. Watching her. Waiting.

Blacklisted in the photography business over a controversial shot, Avery Tate answered an ad for a crime scene photographer. She expected to be laughed at, but crime scene analyst Parker Mitchell hired her outright--and changed her life. But six months ago, when her feelings for Parker became too strong, she left his employ to sort out her heart.

Now, for the first time, Avery is facing the world that rejected her to attend the gallery opening of a photography exhibit and support her best friend, who modeled for the show. But the only image of her friend is a chilling photo of her posing as if dead--and the photographer insists he didn't take the shot. Worse, her friend can't be found. She immediately calls Parker for help. As Avery, Parker, and his friends in law enforcement dig into the mystery, they find themselves face-to-face with a relentless and deadly threat.

For more about Dani Pettrey and her books, check out her website here!

My Thoughts:

If you like to watch Criminal Minds, Bones, NCIS, or even Psych, then you will LOVE Still Life by Dani Pettrey!

First things first, I would recommend that you read Cold Shot, the first book in the series, before reading Still Life. Otherwise the dynamics within the group might confuse you.

The first chapter immediately drew me into the story, but the first third of the novel moved at a slower pace. Then it took off like lightning again! Excellent pacing! A certain fellow was supremely creepy. *shudder* Twists and turns plague you on every page. Also, as some of my fellow bloggers have mentioned, this cover is seriously swoon worthy! I loved Parker (and his accent!) and Avery. I enjoyed seeing them grapple with trusting God in ways they hadn't been.

Between 3 1/2 and 4 Stars. A good, enjoyable read. Still Life is the second book in Dani Pettrey's Chesapeake Valor Series. Book three, Blind Spot, releases in October 2017! I found the set up for this upcoming book to be very well done.

I received a copy of Still Life by Dani Pettrey from Bethany House Publishers, a division of Baker Publishing Group. All opinions expressed are my own.

God bless you guys! See you next time!

 Hugs!

~V. Joy Palmer

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Review of Redeeming Grace by Jill Eileen Smith

 

From the Back Cover:

One devoted woman is about to discover the power of love.

When famine visits Bethlehem, some hold out home for rain, while Naomi and her family make a long Journey to Moab in search of greener pastures. The harvest there is plentiful, and for a time it appears the Lord is blessing them. But when calamities strike, one after another, Naomi is left alone in a foreign land with only her widowed daughters-in-law for comfort.

Downhearted and destitute, Naomi is determined to return to Bethlehem alone. But her daughter-in-law Ruth refuses to leave her side. Despite the fact that she and Naomi will almost certainly live out their days in widowhood and poverty, Ruth holds out hope for a better future . . . and maybe even a second chance at love.

My Thoughts:

Oh, friends. Redeeming Grace is such a sweet story. The title so aptly portrays it. <3

Now, if you're looking for a book with a shocking plot twist where everybody dies, then you should know that this is not that kind of story. ; )

Not that there isn't death, loss, struggle, and heartache. There certainly is! But there is also triumph, love, redemption, mercy, beauty, and grace.

Ruth, Naomi, and Boaz are the points of view in the story. I thought they all had such excellent character development! I really understood them, their fears and joys. I knew what hurdles they needed to overcome. I knew what they were fighting for, and I cheered for them. (And maybe cried for them, too...ahem.)

It's always good to remember that Biblical Fiction is just that. It's fiction. It may be based off of real people, and the authors try to remain true to the Bible and historical research, but it's still fiction. Biblical Fiction is a wonderful way to glimpse the truth nuggets God has show other people. I love that. <3 I always recommend reading the Author's Note at the end of the book first.

Four Stars! Beautiful story! Redeeming Grace is the third book in Jill Eileen Smith's Daughter's of the Promised Land Series. The Crimson Cord and The Prophetess are the first two (amazing) books, but you can read them out of order without banging your head into a wall. ; )

I received a copy of Redeeming Grace by Jill Eileen Smith from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group. All opinions expressed are my own.

See you next time, and God bless you guys!!!

Hugs!

~V. Joy Palmer

Thursday, February 9, 2017

The Tenth Coin

Hey guys!

I posted on Snack Time Devotions today about what God's been whispering to me regarding The Parable of the Lost Coin. Check it out here!

Hugs!

~V. Joy Palmer

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Review of Unfolding by Jonathan Friesen



Description:

Jonah wishes he could get the girl, but he’s an outcast and she’s the most perfect girl he knows.

And their futures seemed destined to fork apart: Jonah’s physical condition is debilitating, and epileptic seizures fill his life with frustration. Whereas Stormi is seemingly carefree, and navigates life by sensing things before they happen. And her most recent premonition is urging her to leave town.

When Stormi begs Jonah for help, he finds himself swept into a dark mystery his small town has been keeping for years. And the answers Stormi needs about her own past could possibly destroy everything Jonah has ever known—including his growing relationship with Stormi herself.

My thoughts:

Wow. Just wow.

This book kept me up very, very late. And I have a baby. Staying up all night reading is not a luxury I can afford to take. However, I could not stop reading Unfolding!

Ok, so this is not a light, easy-breezy story. This is an intense, edge of your seat, flinching due to every small noise kind of story. But what do you expect with a small town riddled with secrets and a secret society and...I'd better not say that part. ;) The writing voice is different, yet so unique. And I absolutely adored Jonah! His perspective and voice would have been make or break it to the story. Jonah sounded like a real dude. ;) Also, speaking as someone who's had a lot of involvement with disable adults, I found his feelings regarding his disabilities to be realistic based on what I've seen. However, I am by no means an expert.

Fans of paranormal, mysterious, secret society YA and/or of Ted Dekker will love Unfolding by Jonathan Friesen. Seriously. You will want to buy this book immediately.

What are you waiting for?

I received a copy of Unfolding by Jonathan Friesen published by Blink from BookLook Bloggers. All opinions expressed are my own.

God bless you guys, and I'll see you next time!

Hugs!

~V. Joy Palmer

Friday, January 27, 2017

Review of An Uncommon Courtship by Kristi Ann Hunter




From the Back Cover:

Lord Trent Hawthorne couldn't be happier he is not the duke in the family. Free to manage his small estate and take his time discovering the life he wants to lead, he has grand plans of someday wooing and falling in love with the woman of his choice. When he finds himself honor bound to marry a woman he barely knows, his dream of a loving marriage like his parents' seems lost forever.

Life for Lady Adelaide Bell was easier when she hid in her older sister's shadow--which worked until her sister got married. But even with her socially ambitious mother's focus entirely on her, the last thing she expected was a marriage of convenience before she's been introduced to society.

With nothing going as expected, can Trent and Adelaide's marriage of obligation survive their own missteps and the pressures of London society to grow into a true meeting of hearts and minds?

My Thoughts:

This was such a sweet, delightful story!

 Kristi Ann Hunter has crafted a story set in the Regency period that remains true to the times, yet is delightfully quirky. This family is a riot!

Trent struck me as afraid of commitment, which was hysterical given that he suddenly found himself married. I loved seeing him ask and learn the answers to marital bliss. Adelaide proved to be sweet. She was very shy and had been neglected by her family to horrendous lengths, so it was great to see her finally stand up for herself!

The story definitely picked up for me once more of Trent's family got involved. There were times that I was frustrated with Trent and Adelaide, but let's be honest, when do we handle everything perfectly? So I really, really loved that the author wrote flawed characters. We are not always going to like every decision every character makes in every book. I consider it a mark of a good author when the characters make me feel real emotions.

This story fell somewhere between 3.5 and 4 stars for me. I'm honestly not sure which! LOL. I will confess, this was my first book by Kristi Ann Hunter. However, it won't be my last book by her! An Uncommon Courtship is book three in the Hawthorne House Series. I'm very much looking forward to the next book in the series!

I received a copy of An Uncommon Courtship by Kristi Ann Hunter from Bethany House Publishers, a division of Baker Publishing Group. All opinions expressed are my own.

God bless you guys! See you next time!

 Hugs!

~V. Joy Palmer

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Review of Conspiracy of Silence by Ronie Kendig



From the Back Cover:

This Is the Way the World Ends.

Four years after a tragic mission decimated his team, Cole "Tox" Russell has been disavowed by the United States. And that's fine--he just wants to be left alone. But when a dormant, centuries-old disease is unleashed, Tox is lured back into action.

Tox and his former Special Forces team regroup to work with FBI deception expert, Kasey Cortes, and fiery archaeologist, Tzivia Khalon, to search the globe for answers--and a cure. As the mission leads from one continent to another, it becomes clear they're not just fighting a plague but battling an ancient secret society whose true goals remain hidden.

With time running out and the threat for a global pandemic rising, Tox and his team realize their sole chance might be to reach back through centuries of silence to find the only answer that can save them all.

My Thoughts:

Hold on guys! I have to duck and cover.

*glances over shoulder*

Okay, I'm good. ;)

This is one of the. best. suspense novels that I have read in a very long time! Oh, my gosh. I loved, loved, loved Conspiracy of Silence by Ronie Kendig! The action. The plot. The secrets. The romance. The faith. And I know I mentioned this already, but seriously, the action!

I've gotten kind of picky about suspense/thriller novels with threads of romance. Maybe that's what happens when you binge read Dee Henderson and Ted Dekker books. Usually the romance feels forced and underdeveloped, and there's usually not enough action for me. I am happy to report that Tox more than lived up to my expectations!

If you were to look up "soldier" in the dictionary, you would see a picture of Tox. No joke. He is the embodiment of patriotism, honor, regret, and loyalty starting at you with blue eyes. I loved Kasey, and the romance between Tox and Kasey is a long time coming so sweet. Tzivia was a spitfire; I can't wait to see what happens with her!

I loved how the author mixed in more secret societies than National Treasure and an ancient, Biblical plague. The action grabs you by the throat from the first page and doesn't die until the last page. Scratch that. We know there's more action to come since this is the first book in The Tox Files. AHH! I can't wait.

I received a copy of Conspiracy of Silence by Ronie Kendig from Bethany House Publishers, a division of Baker Publishing Group. All opinions expressed are my own.

God bless you guys! See you next time!

 Hugs!

~V. Joy Palmer