Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Tosca Lee: The Progeny

By Kelly Bridgewater

Emily Jacobs is the descendant of a serial killer. Now, she’s become the hunted.

She’s on a quest that will take her to the secret underground of Europe and the inner circles of three ancient orders—one determined to kill her, one devoted to keeping her alive, and one she must ultimately save.

Filled with adrenaline, romance, and reversals, The Progeny is the present-day saga of a 400-year-old war between the uncanny descendants of “Blood Countess” Elizabeth Bathory, the most prolific female serial killer of all time, and a secret society dedicated to erasing every one of her descendants. A story about the search for self amidst centuries-old intrigues and Europe’s underground scene…and one woman’s mission to survive.
From Amazon

My Review:

The synopsis of The Progeny gripped my attention and made me want to read this book. I couldn't wait to get my hand on a copy, so I was really excited to get an advanced reader copy directly from Howard books. With the non-stop run for life and the romance, Tosca Lee hit it out of the park with this novel.

 I am a huge fan of stories that don't stop moving. You know, the stories that capture your attention in the first chapter and don't let go. Trust me, I stayed up way too late, reading this book, but every time, I kept telling myself, I'll finish at the end of this chapter, Lee throws another twist in the story, so I couldn't put the book down. I had to keep reading to see what happens. There is a number of chases and encounters with the enemy to satisfy even the pickiest readers, like me. The story does end with a cliffhanger, begging me to return to the second book, which I can't wait for.

I really enjoyed learning about Elizabeth Bathory. I don't remember learning anything about her history class. It probably would have made me pay more attention. After finishing the book, I did a quick Google search and read some articles about her. Man, was she vicious! But I loved the idea of a female serial killer from the early seventh century. I, however, truly enjoyed how Lee introduced me to the history of Bathory without setting the story back in that time frame. It is a complete original and unpredictable story.

In DaVinci code fashion, Tosca Lee takes me on a journey through history, even though hers in based on truth not made up assumptions. With non-stop action, characters I enjoyed, and a lesson in history, Tosca Lee hit the mark with The Progeny causing me to want the second book right now. 

I received a complimentary copy of The Progeny from  Howard Books and the opinions stated are all my own.

My Rating:  5 out of 5 Stars

Purchase The Progeny

Would you buy a historical suspense novel? Why or Why not? What draws you to this genre?

Friday, May 27, 2016

Dee Henderson: Traces of Guilt

By Kelly Bridgewater

Evie Blackwell loves her life as an Illinois State Police Detective . . . mostly. She's very skilled at investigations and has steadily moved up through the ranks. She would like to find Mr. Right, but she has a hard time imagining how marriage could work, considering the demands of her job.

Gabriel Thane is a lifetime resident of Carin County and now its sheriff, a job he loves. Gabe is committed to upholding the law and cares deeply for the residents he's sworn to protect. He too would like to find a lifetime companion, a marriage like his parents have.

When Evie arrives in Carin, Illinois, it's to help launch a new task force dedicated to reexamining unsolved crimes across the state. Spearheading this trial run, Evie will work with the sheriff's department on a couple of its most troubling missing-persons cases. As she reexamines old evidence to pull out a few tenuous new leads, she unearths a surprising connection . . . possibly to a third cold case. Evie's determined to solve the cases before she leaves Carin County, and Sheriff Thane, along with his family, will be key to those answers.

From Amazon
My Thoughts:

I LOVE Dee Henderson's O'Malley's series. It was my introduction to Christian mysteries. Not only have I jumped at the chance to read any book she writes, I own every single copy in physical and digital form. But . . . with the last couple of books she has written like Taken, Full Disclosure, Unspoken, and Undetected, I haven't been as interested in her writing. They were not mysteries, in my humble opinion, at all. They were more contemporary romances with hints of a passed mystery. With her latest release Traces of Guilt, the subtitle for the series, An Evie Blackwell Cold Case, I prayed that Henderson returns to her mystery background in writing.

When I first started reading Traces of Guilt, it started out like Taken and the other books that I didn't enjoy. I got about fifteen percent in and put it down, chalking it up to another disappointing book. Knowing I needed to finish it, so I could give it a full and honest review, I picked it up one evening after my boys went to sleep. I was surprised that the story started to get interesting.

I enjoy the three mysteries that Evie wanted to solve. After a while of studying these cold cases, Evie believed they were connected. Even thought the story didn't flow like a suspense book that I'm used to, it did capture my attention and had a plot that kept me enthralled in the story. I finished the book in a the next two evenings.

The story does bring back Ann and Paul from Full Disclosure and Rachel from the Healer in the popular O'Malley series. I enjoyed getting to know Evie and see her heart to solve these cold cases even after twelve years and bring some sense of closure to the families involved. I, also, enjoyed getting to know the Thane brothers. I hope they come back in future novels.

In conclusion, Traces of Guilt read like a continuing mystery with interesting characters in a novel I couldn't put down after I really dove into the plot. If you skipped out on Henderson because of her latest books, don't skip over this one. It is worth the time.

I received a complimentary copy of Traces of Guilt from Bethany House publishers and my opinions are completely my own.

My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Purchase Traces of Guilt

What author have you loved, but then their writing didn't grab your attention anymore? Did you ever try another book by the author later in their writing career? Why or Why not?

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Steven James: Curse

By Kelly Bridgewater

As Daniel Byers prepares to attend a basketball camp before his senior year of high school, the terrifying blurs that’ve plagued him for the last nine months return.

Dark images begin to haunt him—creatures crawling from the deepest pits of his nightmares, glimmers of chilling memories from his early childhood. But before he can unearth the meaning behind his mysterious hallucinations, Daniel must team up with two other extraordinary teens to save a young woman who has been abducted by a scientist obsessed with enacting his own warped form of justice.

This atmospheric mystery picks up where Fury left off and takes readers into the uncharted regions where reality and madness intertwine.

From Amazon
My Review:

When I think of Steven James, I think of suspense and mysteries with so many twists and turns that I don't see the bad guy or the solution coming. There hasn't been a single book of his that I have figured out who the bad guy was. I even have studied how he wrote The Knight, which he autographed when I met him in 2014, so I could figure out how he laid his trail of clues, so I could work the same magic in my suspense novels. Anyway, with the Blur Trilogy, which is designed for the young adult crowd, I have enjoyed Blur and Fury. I anxiously awaited for the conclusion to this series with Curse.

As always, the mystery is filled with many twists and turns. What is better than a haunted hotel on a stormy night in the middle of nowhere? Nothing. It is a setting designed for  creepy event to happen. James plays on the potential reader's fears by drawing me into the creepy woods while a storm is approaching. Yes, some might think it is a completely cliche setting but that is why the setting works so well. I didn't see it coming, and it makes the tension crackled and spark with every flash of lightening and crash of thunder.

The story's point of view is from a teenager, which I love. I love seeing and understanding through world through Daniel's visions and interruptions of the dreams. While Daniel has been struggling with these visions since the book Blur, I really didn't feel like they bothered him as much this time around. He appears to have been acclimated to visions with a snap of his camera's phone.

While most of James' novels have non-stop action that connect me to the characters and the plot, Curse did not. For the majority of the book, James drags us along, not really giving us a lot of exciting action. It bored me for a long time, which I honestly hate to write, but I'm being honest here. The story picks up about seventy percent into the book and that is where James shines. From then on out, the story was written in typical James's fashion, dragging me along for a great ride.

 Curse is an original and completely unpredictable story. The theme of what is a curse to someone might be a blessing to someone else runs rampant through  the series. The story bounces off this idea and came to reality. It made me think about certain items that are occurring in my life that have me questioning God, but in reality, I should focus on what God has actually blessed me with. Like a house, three wonderful boys, a loving and supportive husband, and a steady income where my familly does not go without any of our basic needs.

With a satisfying ending, Steven James's Curse captures the teenage mind of Daniel, allowing me to experience the world with me, while the action slowed more than the previous two books. Even though I probably won't mark this one of my favorite James' novels, I anxiously wait for his next book to come out.

I received a complimentary copy Curse from Skyscape and the opinions stated are all my own. 

My Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

If you have read Steven James' novels, what makes you return to his books? If not, I suggest you picking up the Pawn, it is a REALLY great book!

Where to Purchase:
Barnes and Nobles


Steven James
From Amazon

Best known for his high-octane thrillers, Steven James is the award-winning author of eleven suspense novels. The Blur Trilogy is his first mystery series for teens. Steven has taught creative writing around the world and loves rock climbing, science fiction movies, and chicken fajitas. Find him at www.stevenjames.net.

Author links: