recruitsAuthor: Thomas Locke

Publisher: Revell

Release Date: February 14, 2017

Rating: 4.5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

An out of this world Fantasy adventure that will leave the reader aching for more!

Sean and Dillon Kirrel are twin brothers who have always enjoyed looking into the possibilities of other worlds. So much in fact, that they have sketched out what one might look like.  Shortly after they turn seventeen, they are approached by a man telling them he is interested in them for a potential job.  It turns out that he is looking to them for a unique gift they have, the ability to transition between worlds, including the one they have sketched and imagined.  He shows them how to transition between the different worlds and it is quickly clear that the twins are destined for great things in this world and beyond.

I haven’t read much science fiction, just not my go-to books, but the way Thomas Locke writes I think I might just have to add more to my pile. Recruits was a very interesting story.  For the most part, the story is set on Earth, and the times it is on another planet.  In this book, we don’t see enough of the planet to need a large amount of setup for the location.  And even though it talks about many different planets, it is mostly dealing with humans so you are not having to picture all kinds of different beings, except towards the end.  The writing was quick and clean without a lot of unnecessary information to slow down the story which I appreciated.

There were a few aspects that did leave me scratching my head. The twins are basically on their own at seventeen.  Their parent’s lack of involvement is explained but I didn’t totally buy it.  Additionally, the ending tied up all the loose ends and all but I didn’t feel it left it open well enough with suspense for the next in the series.  It also felt like there wasn’t enough closure and explanation; it was almost like, BAM finished.  The attack at the end could have been played out with a little more explanation.  Overall it was a very enjoyable read and fans of Science fiction and Fantasy are sure to love it.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher. The views and opinions expressed within are my own.

The Gates of Hell

the-gates-of-hellAuthor: Michael Livingston

Series: The Shards of Heaven #2

Publisher: Tor

Release Date: November 15, 2016

Rating: 5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

Livingston’s second shard novel is even better than the first!

Time has moved on. Augustus Caesar has had his triumph over Cleopatra and Mark Anthony.  Their daughter Cleopatra Selene has been wed to Juba II as a show of triumph for Juba, even though he wants nothing to do with his adopted brother Octavian.  Fortunately, Selene and Juba fall in love with each other making their union a blessed one.  However, prior to the wedding, in an effort to thwart Octavian, Selene convinced Tiberius to sneak her into the Temple of the Vestal Virgins to recover a statue that had been taken, but she was actually after a shard from heaven.  Once she touched it, she managed to use its power, but ended up creating many questions from Tiberius.  Together can she and Juba manage to stay away from using this power to destroy Rome?

Meanwhile in Alexandria, Lucius Vorenus has returned to seek out his old friend Didymus to discuss the possibility that the Ark of the Covenant is losing its power. After the meeting, he is targeted by a group of people who overhead about who he is and what he has.  The attempt fails and he is reunited with an old friend that the thought dead.  Together they travel to the Island of Elephantine where the Ark is currently being housed and protected by Caesarian and Hannah.  When they learn of the breach, they decide that it may be best to move the Ark.  Unfortunately, Kush decides to attack Rome at this time and burn the Island of Elephantine.  Can they manage to get away with the Ark before it is too late?

If you enjoyed the first novel in the series, then you will love the continuation. This book really dives more into Selene and Juba’s relationship and the potential power that the two of them have with the shards they have collected.  Octavian has also taken on more of a melancholy role, but his stepson Tiberius reprises the role of villain throughout portions of the story.  I was very excited to read this novel and I couldn’t find time to stop until I had it finished.

The book follows four main story lines: Selene and Juba, Vorenus, Caesarian and Hannah, and Thysallus. Each is somehow connected to the shards and/or the Ark (which is technically a shard as well).  One of the things I love most about this series is how Livingston is blending history as well as fantasy.  There are times that I have to go back and read up on a particular event to see how it parallels to the book.  Granted, I also love the fantasy part as well.  Without the shards of heaven, it would just be a good story.  With the shards, it is a great story!

There is some mild language in one or two places as well as a rape scene. I would recommend this book for mature YA readers up to adults.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher. The views and opinions expressed within are my own.



stormAuthor: Bonnie S. Calhoun

Series: Stone Braid Chronicles #3

Publisher: Revell

Release Date: November 1, 2016

Rating: 4.5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

With Glade gone and everyone out to get her, Selah is going to have her biggest challenge yet. All she has to do is stay alive long enough to complete her mission. 

Selah has worked tirelessly to reunite her family, but in the blink of an eye it is all about to be gone. Out of the mountain they are surrounded in a world full of volcanic ash hiding the dangers beneath.  With each day that passes, she finds herself growing weaker.  Her abilities are diminishing as are the number of people trying to get her growing.  Being a novarium is a heavy burden, not only in her abilities but also in the knowledge that many have given their lives to save her.  Together they all work to continue the search in finding the Third Protocol to complete their mission.  Their only clues consist of ancient artifacts and relying on Keepers to give her the clues to continue.  With each step, Selah and her team wonder if they have made a mistake in who they placed their trust and if they can actually accomplish what they set out to do before it is too late.

As the Stone Braide Chronicles comes to an end, I feel satisfied yet still wanting more. There could easily be another novel to continue this story but with it ending here it can still be thought of as complete.  I thought this entire series was well written and entertaining.   For several moments of the story I was kept on the edge of my seat waiting to see what the outcome would be for Selah and her crew.  When reading, I love to be on the edge of my seat and feel as if I am right there with the characters.  That happened throughout much of this novel.  Bonnie Calhoun has taken us, not necessarily to a new world, but to a new time in the world we know.  The landscape is familiar with cities and landmarks that most will be familiar with but not what has happened in that land over time.  Being able to provide those landmarks help me set myself in the place the story was working its way through.  The timing is another story.  I know it’s in the future but am still unsure how far into the future we are, even after this third in the series.

While I did have those positives, I have to be honest that there are a few negative aspects for me. The question of what the Sorrows are still bugs me.  I don’t feel that that along with some of the technology they used and what Landers and Novarium are were fleshed out as much as I would have preferred.  With that being said, I feel another story coming on, either a sequel or a novella from a few of the other characters point of view would be welcomed.

There is still some violence here but nothing gets too bloody that it would need to be kept away from squeamish readers. Overall I enjoyed this series very much and am sad to see it come to an end.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher. The views and opinions expressed within are my own.