The Girl Behind the Red Rope by Ted Dekker and Rachelle Dekker

The Girl behind the Red Rope by [Dekker, Ted, Dekker, Rachelle]

The Girl Behind the Red Rope by Ted Dekker and Rachelle Dekker, father and daughter paired up to write this book. I haven’t read any of Rachelle Dekker’s  books, but after reading this book, I will be looking to read at least one of her books. I have read several books by Ted Dekker and because of his chosen genre, they’re always on the weird side, and they make me think. I have to really focus when reading a Ted Dekker book, which isn’t hard because they capture and hold my interest and pull me in to the story.

The Girl Behind the Red Rope did the same thing. In the beginning, I found it to be weird and my thoughts were engaged, and it kept me turning pages. The farther into the story I got, the less weird it became and the more realistic and thought-provoking it became.

It’s a story about a community that calls themselves a “Christian” community, but it’s quite clear it’s much more of a “cult like” community. They are steeped in legalism–having lots of rules to live a “pure” life.

One young man’s doubts and questions about the rules lead him to stray beyond the community’s perimeter looking for answers. This sets off lots of events that cause conflict in the community–conflict that builds until a final showdown near the end.

As I mentioned before, this book kept me turning pages. I usually go to sleep no later than 10 p.m. each night, but one night, I just couldn’t put this book down. I stayed up reading until 11 p.m. No, I didn’t reach the end that night, but I was close.

Two nights later, when I had the opportunity to pick up The Girl Behind the Red Rope  again, I finished it. In conclusion, I have to say this book reminded me of a movie I saw years ago, “The Village”. However, this book had a more powerful message.

The Girl Behind the Red Rope by Ted Dekker and Rachelle Dekker was well written and the characters were very well-developed. The story and its message will stay with me for a long time. The ending was well done, although it did leave me wondering about one thing that wasn’t really mentioned or resolved. That is the one thing that I didn’t like about the book. I am the kind of person who likes my story endings completely resolved and concluded.

I do recommend The Girl Behind the Red Rope to all Ted Dekker fans, fans of weird and/or suspenseful stories, and/or stories that are thought-provoking and worthy of discussion.

The Rancher’s Unexpected Love by Ava Winters

The Rancher’s Unexpected Love: A Western Historical Romance Novel by [Winters, Ava]

The Rancher’s Unexpected Love by Ava Winters, a recent release, is the story of Samantha Loche, who has survived a tragedy and wasn’t sure where to go, but she had to leave her hometown. She found shelter in a barn loft, planning to be gone early in the morning before anyone would know she’d been there. However, her tired body kept her asleep longer than planned, and Jensen Reaves found her.

What happens from there is an “unexpected love” that seems impossible to bring to a happy ending, more danger for Samantha just as she was beginning to find healing and a place to belong, and Jensen having to make some difficult decisions.

I give this book 5 stars, and honestly believe Ava Winters earned them.

Ava Winters did an excellent job of creating great characters in The Rancher’s Unexpected Love. Samantha captured my heart from the start and I wanted to see her find happiness and belonging. I also wanted to see Jensen work through his inner turmoil and come to the knowledge of the best decisions for his life.

The plot had great pacing and was laced with danger, as well as both internal and external conflict. It kept me turning pages from start to finish and tempted me to keep reading late into the night.

I read a previous book by Ava Winters, His Blessing in Disguise. You can read my review of that book, here. I have to say that, though I also enjoyed His Blessing in Disguise, I really enjoyed The Rancher’s Unexpected Love to a greater degree, and I was especially pleased to see how much better Ms. Winter’s writing is in this newest release. She also must’ve had a better or more in-depth edit done on this book because I found far less errors, which made the book more enjoyable to me as well. I am truly glad that I didn’t give up after reading just one book by Ava Winters, and I will look forward to reading more of her books in the future.

If you enjoy western romance stories that are clean and sweet, you’ll enjoy The Rancher’s Unexpected Love.

Rowan’s Chronicle Vol. 1 by Andy Toppin Jr.

Rowan's Chronicle: Volume 1 by [Toppin Jr., Andy ]      36552306. sx318

Rowan’s Chronicle — Volume 1 by Andy Toppin Jr. is Mr. Toppin’s first book and the first volume in what he intends to be a series. I found it interesting that Amazon had the book listed with the cover on the left, and Goodreads had the book listed with the cover on the right. Personally, I prefer the cover on the left.

This is an action adventure story with steampunk elements, as well as some romance. I believe the author tried to include too many genre elements to try to reach a wide variety of readers.. The setting is 1834 and 1833 and the first five chapters take place in 1834 and the last six chapters take place in 1833.

I must say that I found the story hard to follow as it began with two characters, Chester Young and Jane Primstone. However, Rowan happens to be the captain of a ship that Chester and Jane board. Chapter two and chapter four tell the story of two different characters that seem to have no connection to Chester and Jane, but do have a connection to Rowan. Finally, chapter five introduces Rowan’s love interest and the rest of the book focuses on the two of them.

In addition to finding the story hard to follow, I also found it a bit disjointed and I felt that it had a lot of description and not enough action and dialogue. Also, the characters weren’t developed enough to really capture and hold my interest or make me care about them.

Finally, the ending is an abrupt cliffhanger, which is something I dislike in a book.

 

 

The Treasure Map by Tyler Scott Hess

Book Blurb:

Jack is a 10-year-old boy ready for a joyous Christmas vacation, but as punishment for a poor report card, he is tasked with cleaning out his family’s long-forgotten attic. Inside, he finds a chest with a treasure map and a letter that transports him to another time, place, and existence.

Jack finds himself living the life of a young man named Niko, an enemy of the State of Ariel, a martyr of the Faithful, sentenced to die during the Independence Day celebrations. When an earthquake strikes, Niko finds the opportunity to escape, discovers a guide known only as the Elder, and teams up with a group of the Faithful to change history.

My Review:

I agreed to write this honest objective review and received a complimentary pre-release copy to do so. It is the first Tyler Scott Hess book I have read.

The story changes time and place every few chapters, some chapters revealing 10-year-old Jack’s life working on cleaning up the attic while missing out on some of his family’s Christmas activities and being fascinated by the treasure map and letter. Other chapters take us into the time and place of the treasure map and letter where the Faithful are in trouble, in prison. Then an earthquake strikes and Niko finds the opportunity to escape. He discovers a guide known only as the Elder and finds a small group of the Faithful who also escaped during the earthquake. They concoct a plan to change history.

I enjoyed this story. Jack is a delightful, typical 10-year-old boy, and the story of Niko’s struggle is believabe and a little frightening.

The story grabbed my attention from the beginning and kept my attention until the end. Jack learned a lesson and learned more about his family. Tyler Scott Hess did a good job of tying Jack and Niko’s stories together as well.

This would be a great story to read aloud to your children. It’s a good story that is suitable for elementary age children through adult, although there is one murder/death near the end, but it is not dwelt upon and it is not graphic.

I recommend this book to families and to those who enjoy stories that include Christmas. I look forward to reading more of Mr. Hess’s books.

Beyond Blood (A Detective Cliff Husto Thriller) by Jack King

Beyond Blood (A Detective Cliff Husto Thriller) by [King, Jack]

Beyond Blood by Jack King is a murder mystery novel with Detective Cliff Husto on the case. The story is about an advertising agency and how several employees of Mathis & Oliver get murdered by a serial killer — a serial killer that is highly intelligent and leaves no trace that he was even at the murder scene.

This book kept me guessing and turning pages almost to the very end. The first couple chapters seemed to be quite fast-paced and introduced a lot of characters. However, chapter three or four finally fell into a well-paced rhythm and I became caught up in the story. It was difficult to really get interested in and really care about any of the employees and bosses of the advertising agency, but Detective Cliff Husto was a likeable character from the start. As Detective Husto began to unravel the mysteries of the murders, and especially the background of the suspect, things became even more interesting.

I will say that there is a part of the story that I found predictable due to similar stories I read in the past, but in the end, Jack King gave it an interesting twist that made the ending very satisfying.

For those of you who prefer all of your Christian fiction to be completely clean, I will warn you that this book includes some violent scenes and profanity. I will also say that  Jack King created realistic characters and a realistic story, and as Christians, I hope you realize that every story–every Christian life–faces struggles and temptations and none of us is perfect, so to expect everything in Christian fiction to be completely clean and the hero to be perfect, to me, makes for an unrealistic, unrelatable, and boring story. To read a story that has some grit, struggles, temptations, and maybe even a touch of evil is to read about real life.

I highly recommend Beyond Blood by Jack King to anyone who enjoys a good murder mystery with an appealing detective on the case.

Armor of Aletheia by Ralene Burke

Armor of Aletheia (Sacred Armor Trilogy Book 1) by [Burke, Ralene]

“Armor of Aletheia” by Ralene Burke is a new release by this Fantasy writer. It is the story of Karina, an orphan raised in a castle. But when the king dies, his wife wants Karina dead.

The Creator sends Karina on a quest, where she meets many new and interesting friends. Before her quest can be completed, however, she must return to the castle and seek help for the Temple of Aletheia, but is thrown into the dungeon.

Karina faces many obstacles and must lead in a war. The story is filled with action, adventure, and a bit of romance.

This is the first book I have read by Ms. Burke, but I thoroughly enjoyed it. It was well written and captured my attention at the start and held it until the very end. Her characters were well developed and I became invested in them from the start as well–wanting those that I liked to succeed and those that I did not like to fail.

Ms. Burke included one unexpected twist I had not anticipated as well, which added tension and conflict to the story.

This is obviously the first book of a series, as it ends with the words “To Be Continued”, but the ending holds enough resolution and ends wrapped up to satisfy the reader until the next book is released.

If you are a Fantasy reader, you will enjoy “Armor of Aletheia”. I believe this story is suitable for middle grade readers through adults. There is violence due to war, but it is not overly graphic. There is no inappropriate language or explicit intimate scenes.

His Blessing in Disguise by Ava Winters

His Blessing in Disguise: A Western Historical Romance Novel by [Winters, Ava]

“His Blessing in Disguise” by Ava Winters is a sweet romance story. I gave this story a 4-star rating based on the story line and characters. Ms. Winters did a good job of making her characters believable and likeable. The story line was interesting and had just the right amount of tension and conflict.

“His Blessing in Disguise” is set in the Old West where Layla runs away from her outlaw husband to begin a new life on her own. She finds her place in Richstone but complications arise when she begins to have feelings for one of the town’s lawmen, then her outlaw husband comes looking for her.

Tensions heat up as Layla’s outlaw husband convinces her to leave town with him while the lawman, now Sheriff, has already given his heart to her but will not stand in the way of husband and wife. Will Layla and Peter ever see each other again?

For those of you who dislike reading books with editorial mistakes and flaws, I have to say if I was rating this book on the technicalities of writing, I would’ve given it three stars. In addition to too many dialogue tags in the first chapter, there were typographical errors and wording issues scattered throughout the book. The biggest problem I came across, however, was the fact that one entire scene was immediately rewritten following the first telling of the exact same scene but with a different setting and some other differences. I really can’t see how that happened, but it led to quite a bit of confusion on this reader’s part until the story returned to its proper place.