Cynthia M. (clariail) - , - Reviews

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The Accidental Alchemist (Accidental Alchemist, Bk 1)
The Accidental Alchemist (Accidental Alchemist, Bk 1)
Author: Gigi Pandian
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.9/5 Stars.
 22
Review Date: 9/30/2015


I had received this book in the mail Monday afternoon from a fellow PBS member and had meant to only glance through it as I had just started reading two other books. Instead I was hooked from the first page and didn't want to put the book down and finished in record time for me.

The MC is a non-practicing Alchemist who has eternal life, meaning she doesn't age but she can die. She doesn't stay in one place very long because of the aging thing but moves to Portland cause it felt like home. When unpacking some of her crates, she discovers a gargoyle who is alive and has come from France to seek her out to help him. The second day in her home, she goes out and returns to find the dead body of her contractor on her porch steps.

The MC is also a vegan who has an affinity with plants. The gargoyle, Dorian, loves to cook so he takes that part over. A couple of the bad reviews on Goodreads specifically mentioned too much talk of food but I didn't mind that part. I'm not that familiar with the vegan diet so I thought it was interesting. I also enjoyed learning a little bit more about alchemy since the only thing I know about it was turning metal into gold.

I pretty much liked all of the characters in the book but would have to say that my two favorites were Zoe (MC) and Dorian (gargoyle) who was probably my most favorite. I'm looking forward to reading more of their story as well as the others in the book as there are still secrets to be discovered.


Angel Killer: A Jessica Blackwood Novel
Angel Killer: A Jessica Blackwood Novel
Author: Andrew Mayne
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 4/5 Stars.
 2
Review Date: 11/19/2014


Overall I enjoyed this story. It sounds odd to say about a book, but the author's style is very 'wordy' in some cases too much and in others a little clunky. But it did keep my interest and want me to continue reading to see what happened. You don't really get to know Jessica all that much but I still liked her character well enough. I would have to say though that my favorite character might be her sociopath ex-boyfriend.

The mystery moved along okay but there were leaps you couldn't figure out how they got from point A to Point B. If it had been a TV show, my husband and I would have looked at each other and said "because the script said so", in this case it was because the writer wanted to go there. As far as figuring out how each murder scene was created, you are right there trying to figure it out along with Jessica.

I'm not sure if this is the first of a series or a standalone but I will be on the lookout for any others.

For those interested: There are multiple occurrences of four-letter words.


Bad Things Happen (David Loogan, Bk 1)
Bad Things Happen (David Loogan, Bk 1)
Author: Harry Dolan
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.7/5 Stars.
 70
Review Date: 1/4/2015


This was a new to me author so wasn't sure what to expect. Lots of twists and turns which kept you on your toes. It always seemed like the characters knew things going on that you didn't which you would expect but the writing made it seem more mysterious. The MC David Loogan is an enigma which I look forward to reading more of.

For those that might want to know - there are a few curse words here and there in the book.


The Bishop  (Bowers Files, Bk. 4)
The Bishop (Bowers Files, Bk. 4)
Author: Steven James
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 4.5/5 Stars.
 27
Review Date: 7/20/2010


I could not wait for this book to come out as I had previously read the first three in the series and I can say that I was not disappointed in the least. It has or talks about many of the same characters from all of the Bowers Files so you feel that you are still in the loop when you begin reading. Truthfully, I did have a problem getting through the first 100 pages but at that point it started getting my attention and just built from there. By the time I reached the last 100 pages I didn't want to put it down until I had finished it. Every time that I thought I had a good guess as to who the bad guy was, something happened and I would have to re-think it.

The only drawback that I had with the book (and it was very minor) is that one of the murders takes place where they work with chimpanzees and it gets into a little bit of too technical talk for me concerning the research that the foundation was doing, metacognition being one part of it. I kept wanting them to get that part over with.

I can't wait for the next one, The Queen, to come out next year.


A Cast of Stones (Staff and the Sword, Bk 1)
A Cast of Stones (Staff and the Sword, Bk 1)
Author: Patrick W. Carr
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 4.3/5 Stars.
 8
Review Date: 8/13/2013
Helpful Score: 1


An Epic Medieval Saga Fantasy Readers Will Love In the backwater village of Callowford, Errol Stone's search for a drink is interrupted by a church messenger who arrives with urgent missives for the hermit priest in the hills. Desperate for coin, Errol volunteers to deliver them but soon finds himself hunted by deadly assassins. Forced to flee with the priest and a small band of travelers, Errol soon learns he's joined a quest that could change the fate of his kingdom.

Enjoyed this book very much. The story drew you right into it and I didn't want to put it down. For the author's first book, he did an outstanding job. Needless to say I have already pre-ordered the second in the series. The way the characters were described made it very easy to picture them in my head.

The only problem that I had with it and it is more personal taste than anything was the names that the author gave to God, The Son and the Holy Spirit. In reading I had problems with trying to figure out the pronunciation in my head. Luckily for me, they weren't used a tremendous amount of time.


Cloak of the Light (Wars of the Realm, Bk 1)
Cloak of the Light (Wars of the Realm, Bk 1)
Author: Chuck Black
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 4.9/5 Stars.
 7
Review Date: 5/7/2014


One of my favorite scenarios to read about in Christian fiction is Spiritual Warfare. Maybe it comes from reading This Present Darkness by Frank Peretti when I was first introduced to Christian Fiction many years ago. Anyway, if a book description mentions it, I will get it to give it a try. That is what drew me to this book. I've never previously read any of the author's other writings so was not at all familiar with his style.

Drew Carter is a college student and has a very good friend that is strongly into physics experimentation to try to see other worlds and aliens. Drew goes with him to the lab to help and ends up blinded when the lab explodes. Gradually he recovers his eyesight but when he does, is able to into another dimension where there are aliens or what he calls invaders. Has he gone crazy or is what he sees real?

The invaders, both good and evil, are pictured differently than what I have previously read but that isn't a negative in any way. As the reader and as a Christian, I could see what the invaders actually are but Drew Carter is a non-believer and doesn't understand. I'm hoping though that before the end of the second book, he will come to know. Bad thing is, the second book doesn't come out until first of next year I believe.

The pacing in some parts of the book was very slow but the story kept me intrigued and wanting to know where it was going. If you like reading Speculative Christian Fiction, I would definitely recommend this one.


Darkness Rising (East Salem Trilogy, Bk 2)
Darkness Rising (East Salem Trilogy, Bk 2)
Author: Lis Wiehl, Pete Nelson
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 3.7/5 Stars.
 13
Review Date: 4/18/2013


This is the second in the series with the first being Waking Hours. If you aren't familar with the first one, Tommy is a believer but Dani wasn't. She looks at things from a scientific view point and has trouble with the concepts of faith, grace, etc. Everything that the Christian faith encompasses. They are engaged in a battle of good and evil.

I enjoy the characters of Tommy and Dani, both smart people in their own rights but a few times in this book I didn't think that they used it to their advantage. New characters are brought into play and you slowly see a team being built. Charlie the angel is back for a few scenes.

You get to know Tommy's Aunt Ruth and she is a hoot if you ask me. I love this line that she had in the book: "I'm a research librarian," she said. "And a gun collector. I will do research. And shoot people when asked."

This book really explains a lot about what is going on that you didn't get from the first and lays excellent ground work for the next in the series, Fatal Tide.

The only problem that I had with the book and also with the first one, is that for my taste there are too many medical/scientific terms used that I do not know and in a lot of cases didn't follow too well. I found myself skimming over a couple of pages here and there because of it. Otherwise, a great read that I would recommend.


Daughter of Light (Follower of the Word, Bk 1)
Daughter of Light (Follower of the Word, Bk 1)
Author: Morgan L. Busse
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 5/5 Stars.
 2
Review Date: 5/3/2013


Lately I find myself drawn a lot more toward books that could be termed fantasy or speculative fiction. This book is a perfect example of why. Rowen is a young woman who suddenly has a strange mark show up on her hand. She has no idea what it is, where it came from, and why is it there until one day a situation arises with one of the males from her village. In stopping his advances, she touches him with her hand and it is like she can suddenly see through his soul, all the darkness that makes up who he is. The village hears of this and convicts her of being a witch for which she could be burned at the stake but instead they banish her from the village. Thus begins her journey to find a safe place and maybe even find answers to questions that she hasn't even voiced to herself yet.

I thought that the story did slow a good bit working towards the middle but it still moved enough to keep drawing me into the story. After the middle, the pace really picked up and kept me enthralled until the end. It does leave you wondering what happens with one character that you come to like but I'm hoping that it will be resolved quickly in the next in the series.

If you have never tried this type of book, this one would be a great one to pick up. Can't wait for the next one in the series to come.


Death and the Redheaded Woman (Auction Block, Bk 1)
Death and the Redheaded Woman (Auction Block, Bk 1)
Author: Loretta Ross
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 4.1/5 Stars.
 11
Review Date: 5/9/2015
Helpful Score: 2


I found this book at the library and decided to give it a try thinking that it was a new cozy mystery series. Overall I enjoyed the author's writing style as this is her first book. There are basically two main characters, Wren and Death (Deeth). The give and take between the two is a lot of fun. Both are strong and smart so one doesn't overpower the other. You don't have to work very hard to figure out the bad guy as it comes out early on but there is still a little mystery left.

This part of the review applies more to my personal reading preferences but I know that some who read cozies share it. I read cozies because there is very little bad language and no overt sex in them. That is not the case with this one. It doesn't get too, too far but far enough that I skipped a page or two. There is plenty of sexual innuendos with the dialogue though but done with humor.

I am willing to give her next a try to see how it is.


Don't Look Back (Women of Justice, Bk 2)
Don't Look Back (Women of Justice, Bk 2)
Author: Lynette Eason
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 4.1/5 Stars.
 25
Review Date: 1/10/2011
Helpful Score: 1


If you haven't read the series and like murder mysteries then you should try this series. I think that I really enjoyed the first one better but overall enjoyed this one also. This story is about Jamie Cash and the events that had happened to her 12 years previously which had been talked about in the first book. Even though I understood why she acted the way she did through out the book (fearful, panic attacks, etc) it still got to where it annoyed me some by the time I got to the end of the book. Which would probably only pertain to me as I'm sure others wouldn't feel that way. There is a strong theme of how God sees you through catastrophic events in your life which was stated very well and could apply to any of us. The peace that you can receive from taking things to God in prayer was very well done in the book. I don't remember reading anything before that illustrated it quite the way that Ms. Eason did.

I did figure out who the bad guy was fairly early in the book but not really from anything that was said, just more of a feeling.

You don't necessarily have to read the first book in the series before this one. There are a few things mentioned about events that occurred in the first book but it is not distracting from the story line in this book. Overall, I would recommend it.


Ends of the Earth (Bug Man, Bk 5)
Ends of the Earth (Bug Man, Bk 5)
Author: Tim Downs
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 4.2/5 Stars.
 20
Review Date: 9/23/2009
Helpful Score: 5


I really enjoy reading the Bug Man novels by Tim Downs and this one was no exception. One of the things I enjoy most is the quirky character of Nick Polchak who believes that he is not a member of the human race but of the insect world. This trait was lacking in the two previous Bug Man novels and I was beginning to believe that Tim Downs was letting him become more human but it is back full force in Ends of the Earth. I started reading and as usual didn't want to put the book down. Several characters from previous books are brought back and you get to know them all over again. There are spots that make you laugh, make you angry, surprise you and almost make you cry.

You do learn more than you probably want to know about corn production but the facts put in the book are interesting. I would definitely put it in the top three of his books. I can't wait for the next one to come out!

The ending will be a surprise but a good one I promise!


Exiles: Realms of the Infinite, Book One (Volume 1)
Exiles: Realms of the Infinite, Book One (Volume 1)
Author: R. J. Larson
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 5/5 Stars.
 1
Review Date: 3/12/2015
Helpful Score: 1


I am so glad that I started reading some Christian fantasy books. If not, I never would have found books written by R.J. Larson which would have been a terrible shame. I had previously read her series, Books of the Infinite, and was missing all of the characters. Then I found where she was starting a new series, Realms of the Infinite, with a whole new set of outstanding characters. Ela of Parne does make a couple of appearances which was great as we don't have to totally do without her.

The new prophet called by the Infinite is Araine. She struggles with her calling whether to accept the Infinite or not. Much as we have to make a choice to follow God or not. She is called as prophet to the land of Belaal whose king, Bel-Tygeon, believes that he is a god. You also have Nikaros, Lije, and Josais as believers who have been taken as slaves to Belaal.

R.J. Larson does a great job of bringing in stories from the Old Testament that we are familiar with and weaving them into the story. In this instance, she uses the story of Daniel. She also does a great job with telling the reader how much God loves each of us and desires us to come to him.

If you have never tried Christian fantasy, I highly recommend starting with Ms. Larson's books, either series.


Faux Finished  (An Interior Design Mystery, Bk 1)
Faux Finished (An Interior Design Mystery, Bk 1)
Author: Peg Marberg
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 2.9/5 Stars.
 48
Review Date: 5/9/2010
Helpful Score: 1


I enjoyed reading about some of the quirky characters found in this book, especially Jean, the main character. It does include descriptions of some of her design work but just when I was getting to the point of having read enough the writer moves on.

There were a few spots where I had trouble following what Jean was doing in the book. How she got from one point to another and a couple of times got confused and had to go back to see what I had missed. Even doing that, I still had trouble following some of her jumps and the conclusions that she reached to solve the crimes.

Even with that, I did enjoy reading the book and already have book 2 on the way to me.


Finding Marie (Frasier Island, Bk 2)
Finding Marie (Frasier Island, Bk 2)
Author: Susan Page Davis
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 4.3/5 Stars.
 18
Review Date: 4/14/2009
Helpful Score: 1


I was not familiar with this author prior to purchasing this book but can say that the book flowed really well and kept my attention throughout. I had a hard time putting it down. The characters seemed very real even though some of the situations that Marie found herself in seemed a little unbelievable at times. You found yourself rooting for Marie that everything turned out well in the end.


Foreclosed (Mitzy Neuhaus, Bk 1)
Foreclosed (Mitzy Neuhaus, Bk 1)
Author: Traci Tyne Hilton
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.9/5 Stars.
 7
Review Date: 1/3/2012
Helpful Score: 1


I came across this series of books when I was looking at the free Kindle books one day. Never heard of the author but since it was free I decided to give it a try. There are actually three in the series that I could find on Amazon so I decided to go ahead and get them since they were cheap.

I enjoyed the character of Mitzy. She is feisty, smart, and cares about the people around her. In the book she is talked about having big blonde hair and for some reason everytime I read that, I pictured Dolly Parton in my mind. Go figure. :0)

The mystery really isn't all that strong in the book but it was enough considering that it wasn't really the main topic of the book to me. Alonzo is the main male character in the book but wasn't in the forefront all the time. You can tell while reading that by the end of the book romance will be in the air. I thought that it happened a little too quickly like the author was trying to get it in before the book ended so that it would be in play for the next book but that is just me.

For those who would like to know (Christian fiction readers), there are two instances where Alonzo does say two curse words but one of the instances made me laugh because of what he thought immediately after saying it and the other time he asks for forgiveness. Made him human.

I gave it 4 stars because I just enjoyed relaxing and reading it. Have already started on the second one.


Halflings
Halflings
Author: Heather Burch
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 4.3/5 Stars.
 5
Review Date: 8/17/2012


I forget where I came across the description of this book but the story line intrigued me so when I had a chance I picked it up as an e-book.

From the description: After being inexplicably targeted by an evil intent on harming her at any cost, seventeen-year-old Nikki finds herself under the watchful guardianship of three mysterious young men who call themselves halflings. Sworn to defend her, misfits Mace, Raven, and Vine battle to keep Nikki safe while hiding their deepest secret---and the wings that come with.

The story has a couple of things that I really enjoy in stories: (1) a strong female character and (2) angels (or Halflings in this case) versus demons. The storyline is building in this first book of the series as you aren't really sure what the reason is for everything that is happening to Nikki. You get a piece here and there but not near enough to give you a finished look.

For those who like the romance angle, you have a triangle going in this first book at least. For my personal taste, there was too much of it but I'm not into romance that much in my stories. You have the good boy, Mace, versus the bad boy, Raven, both wanting Nikki. How it will end, who knows?

There is some action scenes with Nikki fighting Hell Hounds but I was hoping for more. Just leaves me with more to look forward to in book 2, Guardian.

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed the book and when I started reading, didn't want to put it down. Now to wait on the next!


Here Today, Gone Tamale (Taste of Texas, Bk 1)
Here Today, Gone Tamale (Taste of Texas, Bk 1)
Author: Rebecca Adler
Book Type: Mass Market Paperback
  • Currently 3.6/5 Stars.
 15
Review Date: 1/16/2016


An okay start to a series. The MC, Josie, was too much of a ditz for me. Some of the other characters I liked but you didn't get enough of them. I liked her friend Patti better. Senora Mari was a hoot too.

Not a series that I would go out of my way to make sure I get when the next comes out as I follow too many series now that I really enjoy so much better.


Hero's Tribute
Hero's Tribute
Author: Graham Garrison
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 4.5/5 Stars.
 2
Review Date: 5/11/2010
Helpful Score: 1


I ordinarily don't read this type of book but the story line intrigued me when I came across it. To be honest, it did sit on my shelf for a pretty good while before I ever picked it up to start reading. The first few pages had me hooked even though they were some of the saddest in the book.

Michael Gavin was a hero in his town but he didn't want everyone to sugar coat what his life had been and that is why he asked a perfect stranger to give his eulogy at his funeral. Throughout the story, you not only come to know more about Michael but also about his family, his friends, and others that he came into contact with. You see how life's events shape who you become and what you stand for. It will also make you think about yourself and wonder how your life would be viewed in the end.


His Truth Is Marching On : A World War II Novel
His Truth Is Marching On : A World War II Novel
Author: Robert Vaughan
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 4/5 Stars.
 10
Review Date: 4/2/2009
Helpful Score: 1


I was not familiar with this author prior to receiving this book but decided to give it a try. I usually read Christian fiction mystery/suspense/thriller genres so was pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed this book. Once I began reading I had a hard time setting it down so was able to finish in a day or so. The story moves along and doesn't bog down anywhere.


Justified Means (The Agency Files) (Volume 1)
Justified Means (The Agency Files) (Volume 1)
Author: Chautona Havig
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 4.5/5 Stars.
 3
Review Date: 7/29/2015


Chautona Havig is a new to me author but I'm very glad to have found her. I had received this book a while back as a gift on Kindle and as a lot of books do, had just been sitting there waiting to be opened and read.

Keith works for The Agency which works to keep people safe which sometimes includes kidnapping the person. Erika is asleep in bed when she is rudely awaken by having her mouth taped, hands and ankles tied together, tossed over a shoulder and removed from her house.

I liked the way all the characters were written, not just Keith and Erika. Keith is a strong Christian who struggles with what his job entails and how it impacts with his faith. Erika is strong willed, smart and feisty but does have her vulnerable moments. She is not a Christian and has no time for listening when Keith mentions his faith. She does however ask some good questions off and on through the book that many nonbelievers have.

I started reading this book and didn't want to put it down. I actually finished it in one day which is very unusual for me, even staying up late to do so. I am planning on picking up the next two in this series and not letting them sit around for near as long as this one did.


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