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Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Book Review (with Author Giveaway)....Storm Siren





Storm Siren by Mary Weber
Review by Kara Grant  **4 Stars**
Info from goodreads.com


One of the most STUNNING book covers ever done!!






Please also see this blog interview that includes which actors Weber chooses for the main characters, sooo very cool!! I can’t imagine Anne Hathaway playing a villain, but I’m sure she would rock at it J




“I raise my chin as the buyers stare. Yes. Look. You don’t want me. Because, eventually, accidentally, I will destroy you.”

In a world at war, a slave girl’s lethal curse could become one kingdom’s weapon of salvation. If the curse—and the girl—can be controlled.

As a slave in the war-weary kingdom of Faelen, seventeen-year-old Nym isn’t merely devoid of rights, her Elemental kind are only born male and always killed at birth — meaning, she shouldn’t even exist.

Standing on the auction block beneath smoke-drenched mountains, Nym faces her fifteenth sell. But when her hood is removed and her storm-summoning killing curse revealed, Nym is snatched up by a court advisor and given a choice: be trained as the weapon Faelen needs to win the war, or be killed.

Choosing the former, Nym is unleashed into a world of politics, bizarre parties, and rumors of an evil more sinister than she’s being prepared to fight . . . not to mention the handsome trainer whose dark secrets lie behind a mysterious ability to calm every lightning strike she summons.

But what if she doesn’t want to be the weapon they’ve all been waiting for?

Set in a beautifully eclectic world of suspicion, super abilities, and monsters, Storm Siren is a story of power. And whoever controls that power will win.





My Comments
When I first heard about this book I had no idea what to expect, but I KNEW I had to read it!  The cover alone is utterly breathtaking and the story wastes no time pulling the reader in. 

Nymia, “Nym,” is being sold to her 15th slave owner when the story begins.  All she knows is a life of abuse and destruction, home is a foreign word to her.  She believes she is responsible for the deaths of her parents and she has power she can’t control.  She refuses to allow anyone to get close to her because she believes she will eventually destroy everything good around her.  She is filled with anger and bitterness after having to survive in a world that has always been at war with suffering all around.  The reader comes to love Nym immediately and it’s obvious that despite her deadly abilities, she has a good heart.




Since Nym is an Elemental, she is able to control any and all weather patterns in the story for her use.  Her emotions are connected to the elements so it’s a good idea NOT to upset her.  Most people are intelligent about this, but there are wicked characters throughout that test her in this.  Some are as powerful as she is, some don’t live very long.
 



Nym is given a deal to train her abilities to stop the enemy at war and save her kingdom.  Many times in the book, she considers death instead due to the strain she endures while training.  She has hardened her heart and would rather focus on running away in anger than facing what she’s truly made of.  I definitely understood her on a small level.  It takes unbelievable courage, faith, and self-control to tame someone’s anger/bitterness/regret.  However, I also know Nym is extraordinary and more capable of ANYTHING she has experienced in her past.  She has purpose beyond others wanting to dominate her power.  I also REALLY loved that Nym hates using her powers to attack others, even when they deserve it!  She would rather protect the innocent and only kill as a last/necessary resort.  She is devastated when innocent people are killed or destroyed.  I also really loved reading about the weather around Nym…lightning, wind, hail, rain, etc.


http://s268.photobucket.com/user/bigears1993/media/stormhalleberry.jpg.html#x-men%20stor

Nym reminded me of Halle Berry’s Storm in XMen, except she’s a child and she doesn’t have a team of Elementals to work with.  She is so much stronger than she realizes, but that revelation doesn’t come until later and it makes a tangible difference in her character. 

There is a lot of violence in the story, but nothing graphic (the betrayal and secrets in the story were worse than the violence for me).  The story itself is written in powerful ways with beauty, danger, and nature.  I really loved the way certain scenes are described from Nym’s perspective even though there are some parts I couldn’t understand very well, it’s poetic how the author makes Nym’s body one with the elements around her.  “Around us roars a blizzard of my creation.  Lightning bolts splice the ground beside our bodies.  Pine needles and branches whip above our heads.  I try to stop.  To tell my curse to listen to his fingertips and calm down.  But I don’t know how to stop anymore.  I can’t.  I only know how to weep and crumble and break as the fissure in my chest opens wide to swallow us.”



My heart broke at the end even before the cliffhanger happened (oh boy, what an ending!).  I’m eager to see what happens in the sequel/trilogy, but not just over the abrupt ending.  This book illustrates the pain and strength building for Nym to find out her value after being a slave her whole life.  She’s had to hide who she is to survive and to escape scrutiny from wicked slave owners who could easily have her put to death once they discover she’s an Elemental.  Nym has never know physical or spiritual freedom and I’m hoping that will be explored more in the next book.



Get ready before reading this book because nothing is what it seems!  There are curses, wickedness, betrayal, war, and strange beings who attack without warning because most of the characters in this story care more about power and controlling that power than they are about the consequences of that power.  There is also hope, adventure, friendship, and a trainer who is determined to protect Nym instead of allowing others to have their way with her.  Faith doesn’t really make an appearance in this book (at least not from Nym’s perspective, but others have faith in her), it’s mostly about Nym discovering who she really is and finding the strength to let go.  However, despite the intensity of the plot there is also healing, freedom, and growth in this story that is worth reading in Nym’s journey!  Even though there are lots of unpleasant parts in this story, the writing is incredible and the characters felt real to me.  *includes a map and reader’s group guide*

I want to thank Laura Pol, the author, BookLook Bloggers, and Thomas Nelson for the review copy provided AND the chance to participate in this mega cool blog tour.  I’m grateful for the opportunity to read this debut novel and I will NOT get tired to looking at this cover, INCREDIBLY done!  I was not required to write a positive review.  The opinions expressed are my own.  



About the Author
Mary Weber is a ridiculously uncoordinated girl plotting to take over make-believe worlds through books, handstands, and imaginary throwing knives.
In her spare time, she feeds unicorns, sings 80's hairband songs to her three muggle children, and ogles her husband who looks strikingly like Wolverine. They live in California, which is perfect for stalking L.A. bands, Joss Whedon, and the ocean.



Here is the link for the tour schedule:


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, August 11, 2014

Book Review....Her Hometown Hero


Her Hometown Hero by Margaret Daley
Review by Kara Grant  **4 stars**
Info from goodreads.com
this book will be available on amazon Aug. 19


I want Lexie the poodle!!





In a split second, a tragic accident ends Kathleen Somers's ballet career. Her dreams shattered, she returns home to the Soaring S ranch; and her first love. Suddenly the local veterinarian, Dr. Nate Sterling, goes from her ex to her champion. With the help of a lively poodle therapy dog, the cowboy vet sets out to challenge Kathleen's strength and heal her heart. He'll show her there's life beyond dance, even if it means she leaves town again. But maybe, just maybe, he'll convince her there's only one thing in life worth having; and he's standing right in front of her.

Caring Canines: Loving and loyal, these dogs mend hearts
.

My Comments

What a touching story!  Kathleen “Kit” comes home broken, injured, and bitter.  She’s not sure what her life will be about without ballet and she’s determined to recover while figuring out her next step.  Finding herself  and what she’s made of while back in her hometown will not be easy, but it’s a journey worth taking.



Dr. Nate finds out about Kit being home again and is not sure what to think.  He needs to know how long she will be in town and how serious her injury actually is.  He has seen Kit recover from leg injuries in the past and go right back to ballet, but he doesn’t realize how her life has really changed.  He offers his friendship and support immediately.  Kit is reluctant to accept his help at first, but soon finds how natural and enjoyable having his attention is.



It is so utterly precious when Nate takes Kit to get Lexie, the poodle therapy dog that becomes her best friend while recovering emotionally as well as physically.  I just loved that dog and having her in the story was the ultimate enjoyment!



My favorite characters in this story, EVERYONE who helped Kit recover.  Mostly her brother, Howard, and his family, but the whole town gives a hand in supporting Kit and it was beautiful to read.

Two scenes that were wonderful to experience: when Kit makes it to the top of the ridge and when someone gives a performance at the festival to help the kids raise money.  I could almost HEAR the applause from the audience and I also wanted to stand up and cheer.  WOW, what a moment that was in the story, incredible!!



More than once, I thought Nate was too pushy in questioning Kit about her next move when she herself hasn’t figured it out yet…….but you can see how much he loves her long before he voices this to her.  It was cool to see that New York had a tangible presence in Kit’s life.  It was mostly the ballet, but it was also a big part of her life.  By helping the kids in the community and her own niece, she’s able to discover her own value and that it goes WAY beyond dancing.  It was a treat to watch her transition and overcome these dilemmas.  And of course, it was wonderful to see her faith renewed.   Daley never disappoints when giving a beautiful story filled with great characters and Her Hometown Hero is very unique with an incredible ballerina and the chance to discover her value in Christ.  *clapping hands and yelling “encore!”*


I want to thank the author for the review copy provided.  I was not required to write a positive review.  The opinions expressed are my own.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Book Review.....Resistance



Resistance (Ilyon Chronicles #1) by Jaye L. Knight
Review by Kara Grant  **4 stars**
Info from goodreads.com


Really love the title and cover





Please also see Knight’s blog post on how she developed her pen name and a nice giveaway!! http://jayelknight.blogspot.com/2014/08/one-year-pen-name-anniversary-giveaway.html


“Don’t you know? Animals like you have no soul.”

Could God ever love a half-blood all of society looks upon with such fear and disdain? Jace once believed so, but when a tragic loss shatters the only peace he’s ever known, his faith crumbles as the nagging doubts he’s tried to put behind him descend on his grieving heart. With them come the haunting memories of the bloodstained past he longs to forget, but can never escape.

Taken from home at a young age and raised to serve the emperor, Kyrin Altair lives every day under a dangerous pretense of loyalty. After her unique observation skills and perfect memory place her into direct service to the emperor, Kyrin finds herself in further jeopardy as it becomes increasingly difficult to hide her belief in Elôm, the one true God.

Following the emperor’s declaration to enforce the worship of false gods under the penalty of death, many lives are endangered. But there are those willing to risk everything to take a stand and offer aid to the persecuted. With their lives traveling paths they never could have imagined, Jace and Kyrin must fight to overcome their own fears and conflicts with society as they become part of the resistance.

(Christian Fantasy/Clean New Adult/No Magic)


My Comments
Being part of the Resistance is never easy, but the long term goal of being in this group far outweighs any obstacles faced along the way.  One must have faith, hope and unity to accomplish this.  Rayad is minding his own business when Jace enters his life and even though they are not related, Rayad comes to love the young man like his own son.  Jace is judged harshly because of the race of people he originates from, but he is different than what people see at first glance.  One of my fave parts of this story is the relationship between Rayad and Jace.  Rayad is a trustworthy and honorable man who believes in Elom (which is totally forbidden in this world), but he and Jace are a packaged deal.



Then there’s Kyrin and Kaden, twin brother and sister who are also best friends.  Their relationship is also very unique and enjoyable to me.  I love my own younger brothers as Kyrin loves Kaden and it was a treat to read about them.  They are raised away from home due to their special intelligence and while they are training in this place, they come across a wonderful man who teaches them about Elom.  I was just as surprised when Kyrin gets picked, but I had full confidence that Elom was in control of where her journey would take her.  Was heartbroken when she gets separated from her brother.

love these characters!

Fave characters are easy to distinguish in this book….Rayad, Sam, and Trask.  Also loved Tyra the wolf.


There is violence throughout the story and even a scene or two of torture.  Even though blood is mentioned several times (from imprisonment, fights, or hunting), I didn’t consider anything gory or graphic.  The most difficult part was reading the tension the main characters go through and not knowing how they would escape.  It was also trying that they have to hide their beliefs or risk being executed by a pagan emperor.  Kyrin and others pray to Elom and cry out to Him many times for intervention and wisdom. 



It was uncomfortable for me to see the heartbreak and tension Jace and Kyrin must live with for the first half of the story.  They’re both great characters and handle their situations honorably, but it was difficult for me to read how much they suffer at first.  I really didn’t connect with Jace’s journey as much as I did with Kyrin, but I was eager to see what happened to both of them.

There’s very little romance in this book, but it was refreshing to see father/son and brother/sister dynamics and how they come together for the resistance.  Jace’s hunting trips with Kyrin were awesome to read.  It felt like I was there with them as their friendship develops and it was lovely seeing them heal after all the heartbreak they’ve both been through.  There is also a scene of forgiveness at the end and it was just as I hoped the conclusion of the story would play out.



It was comforting to me that despite the first half of the story and the tension that is tangible, the main characters strive to do the right thing no matter what injustices occur.  Jace and Kyrin, along with their friends, are some of the bravest characters I’ve read.  All in all, a very good story and satisfying ending.  Book 2 sounds very cool and should progress the story nicely!  There is much background given about the story including a map, explanations of the locations, there are 5 races (including humans) and what they’re about, etc.
 
I want to thank the author for the review ecopy received.  I was not required to write a positive review.  The opinions expressed are my own.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Book Review....Out of Hiding



Out of Hiding by Rachel Dylan
Review by Kara Grant  **4 stars**
Info from goodreads.com



                                            




TRUST NO ONE

This vow has kept P.I. Sadie Lane safe ever since she saw her parents murdered and then entered Witness Protection. But when she gets a lead on the long-ago killer she can't forget, Sadie joins forces with a dashing FBI agent leading his own investigation into the crime boss. Kip Moore makes her yearn to trust, but protocol demands Sadie keep her true identity hidden. Secrecy is all that has kept her alive. As they venture deep undercover into her target's syndicate, Sadie finds herself in over her head. Kip is her only hope as she comes face-to-face with a killer from her past.  A deadly past that now threatens her future and Kip's.


My Comments
How Kip and Sadie meet in this book has to be one of the best meet ups in a Love Inspired Suspense I’ve ever seen!!  I loved it and from that moment on, I was glued to the story.  Sadie is one tough woman and she’s determined to bring down justice on a man who stole the life she had when she was 8 years old.  Trust no one is her motto, but especially don’t trust the FBI! 



Kip is a special agent with the FBI when he literally grabs Sadie while on an investigation.  His intentions are only to keep her safe, but things just get more and more complicated from then on.  Kit’s motto is to bring the bad guys to justice and to make a difference working for the Bureau.  When he realizes Sadie is trying to find a missing teenager, he agrees to help her on the case.  Will these two be able to work together despite their misgivings?



One of my favorite scenes reminded me of the movie Taken with Liam Neeson.  Sadie and Kip do a total take down of an illegal trafficking case and even though there is some violence, I was SO VERY TOUCHED at the outcome. 



I also loved that every time Sadie and Kip have to travel for their case, they have to make arrangements for their pets (Sadie’s two beloved cats and Kip’s dog).  There’s also a very special police dog in the story that will win your heart over right away.  God bless police dogs and military dogs who risk their lives for their human handlers, very cool and totally heartfelt.


There was one twist in the story that I didn’t see coming and it completely changes everything….whoa!!  However, this twist also brings much needed closure to the main characters and there’s even forgiveness that didn’t seem possible at the start of things.  I always love that in a suspense book, forgiveness is always necessary and further enhances the story (read this in ONE sitting, just couldn’t put it down!).

All in all, this is SUCH a great book and it’s awesomeness that this is Dylan’s debut novel, WHAT?!  It really captures the reader’s attention, pulls at your heart strings, and leaves you eager to know what happens with all the characters (not just Sadie and Kip).  I also recommend reading the author’s note at the end, I always love learning what inspires an author to write their story and this one was very special.

I want to thank the author for the review copy received (Thank you!!).  I was not required to write a positive review.  The opinions expressed are my own.


Questions for Discussion
Sadie found faith through the upbringing and teaching of her adoptive parents after her biological parents were murdered.  What role did your parents play in your faith journey?

Sadie recognized that she was walking a fine line in her feelings of revenge toward Igor.  Have you ever wanted to seek revenge on someone, and how did you cope with those feelings?

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Book Review....A Match of Wits


A Match of Wits (Ladies of Distinction #4) by Jen Turano
Review by Kara Grant  ** 4 stars**
Info from goodreads.com







After his departure from New York two years ago to meet up with his almost-fiancee, Zayne Beckett is the last person Agatha Watson wanted to stumble upon in her travels as a reporter with the New York Tribune. Quite pathetically bedraggled, he clearly needs to be taken in hand and sent back East to his family. Although she no longer has feelings for him, Agatha realizes--by hook or by crook--she'll have to be the one to get the obstinate man home.


Matilda the P-I-G AKA Princess

Zayne has no desire to be taken anywhere and is prepared to drag his heels all the way home . . . until he finds himself slipping back into the familiar banter of his former friendship with Agatha. Once they arrive in New York, Zayne realizes Agatha's determined nose for news has earned her a few enemies, and he hopes to repay her help with some help of his own. When she rebuffs all his attempts to prove himself a knight in shining armor, the lengths to which they'll go to win this battle of wills lead to some memorable antics.

Everyone else may think them a match, but nothing could be further from the truth--until Agatha finds herself in real trouble. Have these two stubborn, too-smart-for-their-own-good people been meant for each other all along?

My Comments
I have been eagerly awaiting Agatha and Zayne’s story and I knew I was in for a treat!  It only took the first few pages to have me smiling in this witty book of madcappery with Agatha and the trouble she often finds herself in.  First we meet Matilda, the most unusual pet who is perfect for Agatha, and then just as Agatha runs into Zayne who she doesn’t even recognize at first, her journey begins.  Let the crazy fun commence!!



how i picture Zayne when Agatha finds him


Zayne AFTER he gets cleaned up


Apparently Zayne got into some trouble and injured himself while attempting to pursue Helena, the woman he promised to marry.  When things didn’t work out as planned, he pursued a source of income but didn’t get very far when Agatha finds him.  Zayne is no longer the fun loving character he was known for in previous books.  He is bitter, no longer on speaking terms with God, has been avoiding his family, and in a rut trying to figure out his next move.  Agatha has always been his dearest friend and hopefully together they will help Zayne heal. 




“Miss Watson, intentional or not, you have a concerning ability to land in dangerous predicaments, and those predicaments are indeed the reasoning behind our taking this extended western journey.  Not only are the madams of all the brothels furious with you, you’ve also incurred the wrath of a shirtwaist factory owner, the tenement slum lords, the sewage disposal authorities, the men who’ve taken issue over your support of laws concerning the power husbands hold over their wives, and…Well, I could go on and on.  I’d prefer not to ignite those particular bad feelings toward you out here.  My job of keeping you alive will become incredibly difficult if the entire country wants to see you dead.”


favorite characters

Without a doubt, my FAVORITE characters in this book were……Mr. Blackheart  (Agatha’s bodyguard) and Drusilla (her traveling companion/chaperone with a secret).  These are some of the best characters ever written and I just loved them both throughout the story!!!  And of course, Piper, Zayne’s niece, was utterly adorable, spunky, and helpful as well.

It was also wonderful reading the ladies of distinction from the former books in this story, their friendship to Agatha is so precious and invaluable.





Someone definitely wants Agatha dead and there are several attempts made on her life.  There’s shooting in a department store (LOVED that scene), a mine that blows up, a contraption made for Zayne to help him get around but instead crashes everywhere, Matilda attacking a news reporter or just causing mayhem wherever Agatha goes, and one fumbled proposal at a ball that becomes total chaos when an unexpected/unwanted visitor shows up.  Truly, I dare any reader to keep a straight face while reading this!


three female assassins

how i pictured the three female assassins and their attire

Character I liked least (even the villain of the book wasn’t this bad)…..Helena.  I’m sooooo glad Matilda bit her because she needed a dose of reality and it’s not ladylike to slap her.  She was a great distraction in the plot, but she was seriously delusional.  However, she DID help Zayne realize what a mistake he’d made in pursuing her.

Even though there is only action in every other chapter in this adorable book, the dialogue was absolutely wonderfully done!!  In most of the story, Zayne is clueless on how to win Agatha’s heart and he really doesn’t even deserve her until much later.  Will he be too late?  Will Agatha face down her villain before Zayne figures out his feelings?  Just when you think you know how the book is going to conclude, something unexpected pops up!  It will take a miracle and LOTS of prayer for Zayne and Agatha to get answers they both need, but thanks to the incredible characters in this book, they might just get that miracle after all.



I only laughed a few times in the story, but you CAN expect to smile A LOT, your eyes will go wide MORE than a few times, and you will shake your head SEVERAL times at the nuttiness in this book.  It’s witty, clever, surprising, unpredictable, adorable, and irresistible!!  The women in this story will NOT disappoint and you’ll discover a couple who match one another wit for wit ;)  Turano proves to be a delightful author yet again with this one; I’m thankful for the sense of humor and heart she puts into every book.


I want to thank the author and publisher for the review copy provided.  I was not required to write a positive review.  The opinions expressed are my own.