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Writing, Reading, and Rural Life With a Border Collie


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Faith-Flavored Fiction at its Finest in ‘Whitney Chronicles’

The Whitney Chronicles Book 4: No Greater Love

By Larry M. Lawrence

Rating: G

Genre: Fiction/Christian Fiction

Launch Date: December 15, 2021

Via: Reedsy/Discovery

Josiah and Olivia Whitney are middle-aged residents of a rural North Carolina town. They’re trying to get their new business, Whitney Engineering, up and running and live a comfortable, quiet life. But fate seems to have other designs – and so do human traffickers.

Hot-headed city council member Bruce Madison is seen yelling at new Sheriff Tyrell “Ty” Andrews. Questions and conflict soon follow. Does Madison have a connection to human trafficking and the drug cartels? What about the quintet of people surreptitiously hauled into town by a tractor trailer? And who’s trying to silence them, and why? A high stakes game of cat-and-mouse with a deadly assassin ensues. When desperate people take desperate measures, who will survive?

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Epic YA Fantasy a Rousing Read

The King’s Trial (Morgan Horse Publishing, 2019)

By M.L. Farb

Fiction/Fantasy/Young Adult

Via: Author request

Palace intrigue. Love. Loss. Double crosses. An evil queen bent on enslaving a third of her people. An unassuming tavern hand with a knack for picking up vital information. A petulant prince and his beautiful, spirited fiancé. A kingdom teetering on the verge of anarchy.

Main characters:

Yosyph: The protagonist is a “shadow walker” wannabe.There’s more than meets the eye with this guy. Just like this book.

Katrin: the feisty seventeen year-old daughter of a wealthy merchant. She’s been betrothed to Prince Halavant since infancy, but is now targeted for assassination by the Queen, Halavant’s mom.

Prince Halavant: Haughty and supercilious, Halavant is about a mile wide and a quarter inch deep when we first meet him. But then… Well. You’ve have to read for yourself to find that out.

Naven: Personal servant of Katrin’s father and her trusted friend.

“When we overthrow the monarchy, we will have a rule of law and not of whim. A law that will protect the weak and give everyone access to justice.”

The Plot:

Yosyph says little, observes much, and is assumed mute. Posing as a tavern hand, he gathers intel on the wicked queen. When he learns she plans to enslave his people forever, Yosyph vows to raise a rebellion. But he fears that such a revolt will only result in needless bloodshed and the death of thousands.

After saving Katrin from the queen’s would-be assassins, Yosyph and Katrin embark upon a dangerous journey across a peril-filled desert in search of Yosyph’s kin. He hopes they will join him as allies in the war that is to come. Can he muster the faith necessary for his plans to come to fruition? Will Yosyph’s unexpected answers to his prayers stop his realm from descending into bloody darkness? What exactly is a “king’s trial,” anyway? Why does it exist, and for whom?

“Wishes and horses, and a year to ride them.”

Enchanting & Echoes

All of these questions and more are addressed in this enchanting, fast-moving fantasy. Fans of The Chronicles of Narnia and The Lord of the Rings will find much to enjoy here. If you know what to listen for, you may also hear whispers of The Once and Future King.

Rife with unexpected twists, the plot is complex and intricate without devolving into unwieldy or clunky. The narrative flows smoothly as it switches POVs between Halavant and Yosyph.

“Stockpile swords and speak softly.”

Gently Faith-Flavored

Indeed, there’s a lot going on in this sturdy, gently faith-flavored story. A robust plot is buttressed by prodigious world-building skills, full-bodied characters, and rich word pictures. A fresh and original tale saturated in courage, sacrifice, love, loyalty, and loss, this expertly crafted story reels you in from chapter one and doesn’t let go until the very end.

Delightful!

Book 1 in The King Trials series, The King’s Trial is an absorbing, rousing read that’ll have you turning pages faster than Secretariat rocketing around the final turn in the Belmont. It’s a delightful read that’s ripe for a sequel. Keep an eye out for more! Cuz this one’s a keeper!

Our Rating: 4.5


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Apocalyptic Christian Thriller Packs a Wallop!

Salvation

Book 3 in the Subversives trilogy

By Raena Rood

One Foundation Publishing, 2021

Genre: Christian Fiction/Apocalyptic Thriller

Via: Author Request

“… (we) must tell them what we have learned here. We must tell them that there is no pit so deep that He is not deeper still. They will listen to us, Corrie, because we have been here.”

– Betsie ten Boom

Kimber here, ready to rock and roll with Salvation, the third and final installment in the fast-paced, high-octane Subversives trilogy by Raena Rood. But first, a disclaimer:

Her Crankiness   – Hi, Mom – isn’t necessarily a big fan of book series or trilogies. The reason is simple. Way too often, the first book starts off as a real barn burner. Subsequent titles soon run out of gas. They sputter and putter and limp into The End with way too many stops in Dullsville and Snooze Gulch along the way.

So we were a little hesitant to take on the Subversives trilogy. Which just shows you what we know.

A Pleasant Surprise

The trilogy turned out to be one of the most well-written, thoroughly engaging and highly readable books/series of the year. (Not to brag or anything – Hi again, Mom – but one of us read over 350 books last year. Well, it was mostly me. But Mom helped. A little.)

“Whatever happens to us in the future, we must never lose faith in the end of the story.”

Anyway, here are our reviews of the first two books in the Subversives trilogy: 1) Subversive, and 2) Sanctuary: What Do ‘Sanctuary’ and Secretariat Have in Common?

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4 Mystery/Suspense Titles: 1 Winner

A legal thriller and a sports novel. Both by the same well-known author. Two murder mysteries.

Four distinct titles. Three are by well-established, “international best-selling” authors: John Grisham and James S. Murray. The fourth book, Mystery In The Hill, is by a newbie: Aaron Qualilo. Which one rises to the top? Here’s our take:

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Why THIS Debut Novel Reads Like a BOSS

Sitting on Top of the WorldSitting on Top of the World

By Cheryl King

Historical Fiction/Young Adult

Via: Reedsy/Discovery

Launch Date:  December 31, 2021

Some books just grab your attention. Slide down your throat. And wrap themselves around your heart. Sitting on Top of the World is one of those books.   

June Baker is a “girl with gumption.” The “almost fifteen year-old” has to be while she rides the rails in search of work as the family farm hangs in the balance. How she got there and why rounds out the first part of this delightful book. What’s happens next fills the second half. Both pick up steam quickly in this heartwarming, delicious read about family, faith, loss, love, desperation, betrayal, and hope during the Great Depression.

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25 PAWsome Non-Fiction Books That Read Like Fiction

It’s been forever since we did a Fine Wine Friday post. So here ya go. No extra charge:

***

“Alright Kimber. Step away from the Narrative Non-Fiction (NNF) book stash and I’ll forget all about the incident with that double cheeseburger.”

“Drat! I was kinda hoping Mom already forgot about that. But anyway, you’re probably asking, What’s ‘narrative non-fiction’ and why should I care?”

Bet this tastes great if I can ever get it off the fence!

Glad you asked. Basically, narrative non-fiction is non-fiction that reads like a novel instead of a dry-as-burnt-toast textbook. Or War and Peace. ( Mom said I oughtta throw in that last one.)

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Heart & Head Clash in Vibrant New Fairytale, ‘Heartless Hette’

Heartless Hette

By M.L. Farb, 2021

Genre: Fiction/Fairytale/Fantasy

Rated: G

Via: Author Request

Summary:

Hearts and heads collide as an unlikely trio sets out on an epic quest to find the true meaning of friendship and more in this freshly reimagined version of “once upon a time.”

“Which is stronger – heart or head?”

Once upon a time, a beautiful princess prized logic and reason above all. Her father bid her marry, become queen and produce an heir. But no suitor could match her formidable mind. So a sorcerer disguised himself as a prince. He set out to woo the princess. She rejects him. The sorcerer steals her heart. Literally. Right out of her chest.  In its place is a mechanical “clockwork heart” designed to bend Princess Hette’s will to his.

“Love only hurts… Alone hurts less.”

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Family Matters in Delightful New Sci-Fi Novel

The Captain’s Daughters

By Doreen D. Berger

PolarisPrint, 2021

Genre: Fiction, Sci-Fi, Family

Rating: G

Via: Author Request

Summary: Two spunky sisters get more than they bargained for when they disobey their starship captain Dad and wind up captives in an interstellar game of cat-and-mouse.

“What lies within the folds of the fabric of the never-ending universe?

“Not now, Kimmi!” sniffs Her Momness.

Why is she saying this when I just brought her the Frisbee?  Hello? Earth to Mom? Come in, Mom?

“I’m right in the middle of the good part,” she says. “Can you gimme a min?”

Oh, bother. Cuz Mom said that like, two hours ago.

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High Octane Action Powers ‘Albertan Apocalypse’

Albertan Apocalypse

By John Keillor, 2021

Fiction/Dystopian/Action-Adventure

Summary: Governments have been destroyed worldwide by global catastrophe except in Alberta, Canada. But when malevolent forces try to take over, Albertans put up a ferocious fight to keep their freedom. 

Originally reviewed on Reedsy/Discovery.

Setting

It’s 2031. Twelve years ago a worldwide catastrophe destroyed the internet and disabled governments. Many human brains were also “ruined” when the atmosphere “was transformed into a microwave oven.” One of few stable societies remaining is in Alberta, Canada. But malevolent forces are converging to invade the province, exploit its natural resources, and enslave its citizens.

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‘Spies Never Quit’: Spunky, With a Dose of Sass

Spies Never Quit

By M. Taylor Christensen

Moon Zoom Press, 2021

Fiction/Action-Adventure/Spy Thriller

Via: Author Request

Summary: When a young woman’s mom is abducted, she goes undercover to save her. Can the novice “spy” pull it off – or will her inexperience cost them both their lives?

“A light spy thriller where the romance is sweet and the suspense is cozy.”

What do you do when some Uber Bad Guys kidnap your research scientist mom and force you to steal and hand over all her research so they can build a huge lethal weapon, or else?

If your name is Mari Sandoval, you try to break into your mom’s lab and comply. Foiled by some spunky sorority girls who are more than they appear to be, the eighteen year-old college freshman considers her next move. And what it may cost.

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