Aaru by David Meredith Review

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Synopsis:

Rose is dying. Her body is wasted and skeletal. She is too sick and weak to move. Every day is an agony and her only hope is that death will find her swiftly before the pain grows too great to bear.

She is sixteen years old.

Rose has made peace with her fate, but her younger sister, Koren, certainly has not. Though all hope appears lost Koren convinces Rose to make one final attempt at saving her life after a mysterious man in a white lab coat approaches their family about an unorthodox and experimental procedure. A copy of Rose’s radiant mind is uploaded to a massive super computer called Aaru – a virtual paradise where the great and the righteous might live forever in an arcadian world free from pain, illness, and death. Elysian Industries is set to begin offering the service to those who can afford it and hires Koren to be their spokes-model.

Within a matter of weeks, the sisters’ faces are nationally ubiquitous, but they soon discover that neither celebrity nor immortality is as utopian as they think. Not everyone is pleased with the idea of life everlasting for sale.
What unfolds is a whirlwind of controversy, sabotage, obsession, and danger. Rose and Koren must struggle to find meaning in their chaotic new lives and at the same time hold true to each other as Aaru challenges all they ever knew about life, love, and death and everything they thought they really believed.

My Thoughts:

The synopsis of this book piqued my interest and it definitely did not disappoint. Immortality is something that I think everyone thinks about from time to time and this book explores this possibility in a unique way of downloading your persona onto a massive super computer called “Aaru”.

The story was very well done…the writing flowed very smoothly and I was engaged from the first page to the last. It had some unexpected moments and ended in a way that would satisfy but also leaves me wanting more (book 2, Aaru, Halls of Hel is advertised to be released in 2018).

The characters were interesting. I did find it difficult to be on board with Koren being  only 13 or 14 years old, based on the lack of parental supervision and some of the things that happened to her (although I realize that this does happen).

Rose was a sweet character and I loved seeing the virtual world through her eyes. I did find some of the concepts of Aaru to be a bit confusing at times but overall the world building was solid.

This is not a Christian fiction book, so there was some cursing and some references to Heaven and God that I didn’t agree with.

Overall, this was a nice change from the contemporary stories I’ve been immersed in lately. It had a mixture of many genres…fantasy, thriller, horror, mystery, and romance.

My Rating:

4 stars

I received this book from the author to review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

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If I Live by Terri Blackstock Review

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Synopsis: Casey is hiding again—in Memphis this time—but it’s different now. She knows without a doubt that Dylan believes her and is doing all he can to help bring Brent’s killer to justice. He’s become an unexpected friend . . . and even, maybe, something more. Hope makes everything more bearable.

Casey makes a deal with the DA to turn over all the evidence she and Dylan have gathered against Keegan and Rollins—only to discover that the DA is in league with them too. After a desperate escape, who can they possibly turn to now?

Time is running out for Casey, but master suspense writer Terri Blackstock will keep readers on the edge of their seats until the last, utterly satisfying page.

My Thoughts: This was a terrific finale to an excellent series! I’ve read many thrillers/suspense books in the Christian fiction subset and this series is by far, my favorite. Often I’ve found that Christian thrillers can be a bit too tame for my liking…Terri Blackstock knows how to keep it clean but also keep the reader on the edge of their seats, all while glorifying God. I read through all three of the books in this trilogy very fast…the pacing was great and the story never dragged.

I loved the character development throughout this book but also from the beginning of the trilogy. The faith content was incorporated perfectly into the story. I love how Terri Blackstock manages to meld thrills and suspense with a Christian message, this doesn’t seem like an easy task but she does it very well.

Overall, this was my favorite of the three books in the series and one of my favorite books of 2018. I highly recommend this series to those who like adventure and thrills!

My Rating: 5 stars

I received this book from Booklook Bloggers to review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

The Empowered by Craig Parshall Review

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Synopsis: Just when a mysterious death in Washington, DC, appears to have voodoo connections rooted in New Orleans, Trevor Black also receives an invitation to speak at the national ABA convention in the city.

He knows he’ll be in enemy territory, both as a disbarred attorney and as a follower of Jesus, but he determines to travel there and confront the supernatural element. Right after a grisly murder in his hotel room puts him on the suspect list, his daughter disappears, leaving a note that suggests a connection to the local cult religion. Now Trevor must not only crack the case but try to protect Heather from forces of darkness clutching at her soul as well. And just as he discovers that his ability to sniff out the supernatural has its limitations, Trevor learns that this web of evil extends far beyond isolated murders, enslaving scores of innocent children, with its head perhaps linked to the highest seats of power.

My Thoughts: Books about spiritual warfare and the invisible war that wages around us always fascinate me. This book follows Trevor Black, a former lawyer who can see past the invisible veil…he sees demons and is attuned to the demonic forces surrounding him. He is called by a former coworker to investigate a suspicious death which leads him to discover something very sinister behind everything.

This book was very fast paced and exciting. The reader is taken from North Carolina to New Orleans to Washington DC and meets many colorful characters. Although there are a lot of characters in this book, it was fairly easy to keep track of who was who.

The writing is very atmospheric. At one point, I was on a boat in a New Orleans bayou and I could almost hear the sounds and fear that a gator would attack.

I truly believe in the battle of good and evil and appreciate that Craig Parshall writes about the subject. I will definitely pick up more books by him. This is book 2 in the Trevor Black series but it works as a standalone. I enjoyed it more than the first book, The Occupied…read my review of it Here.

My Rating: 4.5 stars

I received this book from Tyndale House to review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Coldwater by Samuel Parker Review

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Synopsis: Having forfeited his youth to the state prison system, Michael moved back to the only home he’d ever known. An empty shell of a man who now lived–if it could be called living–in the still vacant house of his parents in a town with one stoplight. A town that hated him. Had always hated him. And was ready to pick up where the prison system had let off.

Now he’s on the run from men who’ve tried to kill him once; but Michael is more than an ex-con. A powerful, sinister force creeps inside him, threatening and destructive. Who–and what–it will destroy next is the only real question. From the bold voice that brought readers down Purgatory Road comes a new pulse-pounding, spine-rattling tale of vengeance and justice that will have them up all night.

My Thoughts: The first chapter of this book is possibly one of the most anxiety-provoking and stressful scenes that I’ve read in a book, ever! I am extremely claustrophobic and the thought of that scene as it’s very vividly described by the author sent chills down my body and almost caused me to stop reading because of the intensity of the scene. This is a testament to how great Samuel Parker’s writing is.

Parker is very good at showing the reader things through the character’s eyes instead of narrating it and “telling” it. The scenes were all very descriptive and I found myself on the edge of my seat, trying to figure out what was truly going on in the story.

This is the kind of story that is best experienced by knowing very little about the plot. This makes the revelations more interesting.

I found the story to be a great thriller but not such a great novel as far as the Christian aspect goes. There were definitely supernatural elements at play but I was very disappointed to only truly see the “evil” side of things. The “good” never showed up and I feel like a great opportunity was missed. I was pleased to find that the content was very clean and lacked cursing and graphic scenes. There were some scenes of violence but the author left a lot to the reader’s imagination instead of getting too graphic.

Overall, I found this to be an exciting read but would have liked more faith content.

My Rating: 4 stars

I received this book from Baker Publishing Group to review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Vanishing Point by Lisa Harris Review

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Synopsis: During Garrett Addison’s first week on the job as a criminal investigator for the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, his team is called out to a murder scene of a young girl. She’s the third victim in a string of disappearances with one thing in common–a Polaroid photo of each victim left behind at the crime scene.

The FBI is pulled into the case to help, and Garrett finds himself working with Special Agent Jordan Lambert, the woman he once loved. When yet another girl dies–number six–Garrett blames himself and believes he doesn’t have what it takes to be an agent. What he’ll discover is that, while he may be done with the killer, the killer is not done with him–or Jordan.

Bestselling and award-winning author Lisa Harris unveils an unforgettable story of a case that has haunted the public and law enforcement for more than a decade. Fans of the Nikki Boyd Files will thrill to finally discover what actually happened to Nikki’s sister, Sarah. New readers will become instant fans after devouring this chilling tale.

My Thoughts: This is book 4 in the Nikki Boyd Files Series but it definitely works as a standalone. This story was gripping from beginning to the end. It is a clean police-procedural that follows Garrett and Jordan, who are working tirelessly over a period of many years to track down a serial killer who is targeting young girls.

Garrett and Jordan were great characters…both smart but not robotic or heartless, they gave the reader a glimpse of the emotional toll that one goes through when searching for a murderer. Their relationship was also sweet, although frustrating at times.

Lisa Harris is very gifted as an author and definitely has a way with words. It was always easy for me to get lost in the story and the pacing was fast.

There are some sad moments but I appreciated that the age-old question of “why does God allow bad things to happen to people?” is addressed, and addressed well.

Overall, this was a great thrill-ride. I was never bored and would definitely pick up another book from this author!

My Rating: 4 stars

I received this book from Baker Publishing Group to review. All opinions are my own.

Blind Spot by Dani Pettrey Review

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Synopsis: FBI agent Declan Grey is in the chase of his life–but isn’t sure exactly what he’s chasing after. Threatened by a terrorist that “the wrath is coming,” Grey fears something horrible is about to be unleashed on American soil. When his investigation leads him to a closed immigrant community, he turns to Tanner Shaw to help him. She’s sought justice for refugees and the hurting around the world, and if there’s anyone who can help him, it’s Tanner.

Tanner Shaw has joined the FBI as a crisis counselor . . . meaning she now has more opportunity to butt heads with Declan. But that tension also includes a spark she can’t deny, and she’s pretty sure Declan feels the same. But before anything can develop between them, they discover evidence of a terror cell–and soon are in a race against the clock to stop the coming “wrath” that could cost thousands their lives.

My Thoughts: This is book 3 in the Chesapeake Valor series. I read the first 2 books and was eager to pick this one up. Each story focuses on a man in a group of childhood friends who all work together in the FBI. This story focuses on Declan, a serious and tough agent with a gentle heart. I enjoyed getting to know Declan better and seeing his relationship grow with Tanner.

I adore the characters in this book. If I were able to choose a group of fictional characters to “hang out” with, I would choose these characters. Each one of them loves Jesus, live lives of integrity, and are always there for each other. They also manage to have fun despite the dangers they face.

The mysteries in this book were intriguing. One of the mysteries was carried over from book 2 and the other one began and was resolved in this book.  I liked this aspect because it left me wanting more but didn’t end on such a cliffhanger that I felt unsatisfied when the book was over.

I really enjoy Dani’s writing. I find myself flying through the pages and riding along on the adventures while on pins and needles, because of the suspense.

The faith content in this book is also great. The characters let their lights shine and “walk the walk”.

I highly recommend this book for fans of suspense and thrillers.

My Rating: 4 stars

I received this book from Bethany House Publishers to review.

 

Here and Gone by Haylen Beck Review

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Synopsis: Here and Gone is a gripping, wonderfully tense suspense thriller about a mother’s desperate fight to recover her stolen children from corrupt authorities.. It begins with a woman fleeing through Arizona with her kids in tow, trying to escape an abusive marriage. When she’s pulled over by an unsettling local sheriff, things soon go awry and she is taken into custody. Only when she gets to the station, her kids are gone. And then the cops start saying they never saw any kids with her, that if they’re gone than she must have done something with them… Meanwhile, halfway across the country a man hears the frenzied news reports about the missing kids, which are eerily similar to events in his own past. As the clock ticks down on the search for the lost children, he too is drawn into the desperate fight for their return.

My Thoughts: This book reminded me of a movie called Breakdown, starring Kurt Russell. The plots of the book and the movie are similar and both were successful in creating a lot of tension and suspense. This story is every mother’s worst nightmare…to have your children taken away and the blame put on you.

The writing style was very reader friendly but it read like a movie adaptation…there was a lot of telling instead of showing. The pacing was good, the story moved along with every page. The characters were decent but none of them stood out to me.

Overall, this was a good thriller but not one that will be memorable…there was nothing “special” about it.

My Rating: 4 stars

I received this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review.