River Rising (Carson Chronicles Book 1) #bookreview @johnheldt

  • Title: River Rising (Carson Chronicles Book 1)River Rising (Carson Chronicles Book 1) by [Heldt, John A.]
  • Author: John A. Heldt
  • Publication Date: September 18, 2017
  • Sold by Amazon Digital Services LLC
  • Language: English
  • Formats:  Kindle
  • Goodreads
  • Genres: Historical Fiction, Romance, Time Travel

Meet the Carson family. The eldest of five siblings, Adam, comes across a letter written by his mother. In that letter, he finds that his parents, who had disappeared months before, did not actually vanish. Rather, his mother provides him with evidence that she and her husband, found a time portal in which they walked through in search of adventure. But, something went wrong. Now, it’s up to the Carson children: Adam, Natalie, Greg, and twins Caitlin and Cody, to find their parents and bring them home.

This is definitely my favorite of John A. Heldt’s novels. It’s the same in many ways, yet it’s different. It’s the same in a way that we read the adventures the characters have: they travel through time, make friends, fall in love. It’s different because in the previous novels (I’ve only read The American Journey series), which everything ties together in the final book, we learn about different characters with ties of the same professor. Here, it seems as if the series will continue the Carson family in search of the same thing: reuniting their family.

Because of this, we’re left with a cliffhanger, living it open for a second book. This isn’t to say that we’re left hanging. River Rising, full of love, heartbreak, adventure and action, ties almost everything together. It just leaves us eagerly waiting to continue the journey.

As usual, the writing is engaging and keeps us on our toes. My only grievance is the dialogue. Having read another series by the same author, I’ve come to be familiar with the same style in the dialogue, when I wish it would be different. Here’s an example. Throughout this book, and the previous series, the dialogue is similar to this (this is not necessarily the exact dialogue):

“I have something to give you,” Adam said.

“What is it?”

“I’ll show you,” Adam walked inside the house, then returns with a box. “I want you to have this.”

Or…

“They didn’t,” Hank said. “They didn’t tell me much of anything.”

In the first example, my thought is that if you’re going to give someone something, you don’t need to tell them you’ll show them. A “allow me a second to retrieve it” would have sufficed, and to me seem more realistic. The second example is that there is quite a bit of repetition in the dialogue. Normally, this wouldn’t bug me, however, the same happened throughout the previous five novels I’ve read. And with both the future characters and past characters doing it, it leaves little room for character growth.

However, the dialogue issue aside, I did truly love the story. I love how the author gradually includes real-life tragedies into the narrative. My eyes refused to leave my Kindle as I read the ending. Although some things were predictable, I did find several shocking moments.

I look forward to learning more about the Carson family and following them onto their next adventure as they search to reunite.

Overall Rate: 5 out of 5 stars

*For more book reviews, click here.*

Biography

John A. Heldt

John A. Heldt is the author of the critically acclaimed Northwest Passage and American Journey series. The former reference librarian and award-winning sportswriter has loved getting subjects and verbs to agree since writing book reports on baseball heroes in grade school. A graduate of the University of Oregon and the University of Iowa, Heldt is an avid fisherman, sports fan, home brewer, and reader of thrillers and historical fiction. When not sending contemporary characters to the not-so-distant past, he weighs in on literature and life at johnheldt.blogspot.com.

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The Silver Horn Echoes: A Song of Roland #bookreview

  • Title: The Silver Horn Echoes: A Song of Roland
  • Authors: Michael Eging and Steve Arnold
  • Print Length: 334
  • Publication Date: July 22, 2017
  • Sold by Amazon Digital Services LLC
  • Language: English
  • Formats:  Kindle, Paperback, Hardcover
  • Goodreads
  • Genres: Mythology, History, Historical Fiction

After Roland learns of a new threat to the Frank Kingdom, he must fight his way to victory and to protect King Charles, who happens to be his uncle, the brother of his mother. Additionally, Roland must find a way to bring to justice, the murderer of his father.

First off, I have to be honest and say I don’t usually read or even watch any kind of war stories. Secondly, I have to be even more honest and say wow! This book held my attention from the time I started reading until I finished. There was so much going on…however, not in the way it was confusing. As I read, I became so engrossed with the characters. I knew who I liked and I knew who was evil. Roland was a young man and you can see how he grew as time passed. Amidst the death, destruction and betrayal that came with the war, Roland and his company held onto their Christian faith, which I loved to read most of all.

The narrative was so descriptive, I could almost smell the blood, taste the dirt and hear the clatter of sword against sword in my mind’s eye. It was as if I was there. I started out as taking notes of what I liked and didn’t like, but in the end stopped because I could pause long enough. As it was, I had to force myself to stretch out my reading because I wanted to enjoy every minute.

Was there anything I didn’t like? I can’t remember it because I was too engrossed in the story, the relationship, the whole shebang.

Although most books I read these days are from my Kindle app, I certainly wouldn’t mind to one day purchase a hard copy. This is an epic tale that would be fun to read on a cold day sitting by a fire…in my opinion.

The authors deserve every single praise they get for the making of this book. I certainly can’t remember loving a book so much.

Here is an interesting bit of trivia I learned from one of the authors: the cover artist hand painted the cover to Song of Roland. He’s an artist in LA who has done work for D.C. Comics.

Overall Rate: 5 out of 5 stars

In the Company of Wolves (Of Witches and Werewolves Book 2) #BookReview

  • Title: In the Company of Wolves (Of Witches and Werewolves)In the Company of Wolves (Of Witches and Werewolves Book 2) by [Barclay, Cory]
  • Author: Cory Barclay
  • Print Length: 350
  • Publication Date: September 15, 2017
  • Sold by Amazon Digital Services LLC
  • Language: English
  • Formats:  Kindle, Paperback
  • Goodreads
  • Genres: Supernatural, Science Fiction, Historical Fiction, Thriller

In the Company of Wolves is aptly named. We return a few years after the events in its predecessor, Devil in the Countryside. We already know a few of the characters and are introduced to a new set of interesting ones. The entirety of the book follows the perspective of four in particular: Rowaine, a female pirate; Gustav, a man in the search of revenge; Sybil, a refuge trying to earn a safe life with her family; and Hugo, Sybil’s younger brother who is trying to find his way in the world. Each character wants something and in order to get something, they must fight for survival, bloodshed and betrayal.

I must say I enjoyed the first book a tad bit more, however, this one still deserves the rating of five stars. It kept a steady pace, and offered a few surprises you don’t see coming. As I did in the first book, I enjoyed Barclay’s way of descriptions. It’s so vivid, it’s as if I’m seeing the scene unfold.

My only issue is that sometimes the obvious tends to be stated through the narrative. Maybe it’s just me, but for example, in the beginning, one of the characters begins stuttering when he speaks. After I read his dialogue, I thought, “OK, he stutters.” Then in the next sentence, the narrative explains the fact that he stutters. There were a few more instances, but it wasn’t so much that it would knock any points off.

As always, the characters were well-developed and I enjoyed learning about most of them, especially Hugo. As a young boy trying to find his place in the world, he goes in a direction that surprises him and he’s unsure about. I’m sure many of us can relate to that in real life.

It’s not needed to read the first book before this one, though I highly recommend it. While, yes, the first one may have its flaws, it was a truly excellent introduction to the series. In the Company of Wolves, however, does give you the background you’ll need to appreciate the story.

Overall Rate: 5 out of 5 stars

*For more book reviews, click here.*

Biography

Cory Barclay

As far back as he can remember, Cory Barclay has always loved the “big picture” questions. How much knowledge did humanity lose when the Library of Alexandria was burned down? Why has the concept of Heaven remained intact, in one form or another, throughout most of human history and how has it impacted life on Earth?

And even before that, when he first began writing stories in grade school, he’s been fascinated with histories and mysteries. Whether Norse mythology, the Dark Ages, or the conquests of great leaders, Cory’s been that kid who wants to know what’s shaped our world and write about it. Especially the great unsolved mysteries.

So Devil in the Countryside was a natural for him.

Born and raised in San Diego, he graduated from University of California, Santa Cruz, where he studied Creative Writing and Modern Literary Studies. He’s also a songwriter and guitarist, and – no surprise – many of his songs explore the same topics he writes about – the great mysteries of our crazy world.

Devil in the Countryside is his second novel and he’s hard at work on its sequel.

Mercer Street #bookreview @johnheldt

  • Title: Mercer Street
  • Author: John A. Heldt
  • Print Length: 431
  • Publication Date: October 21, 2015
  • Sold by Amazon Digital Services LLC
  • Language: English
  • Formats:  Kindle, audiobook
  • Goodreads
  • Genres: Historical Fiction, Romance

Mercer Street is the second book of John A, Heldt’s American Journey five-part series. Like the rest of the books, it’s not required to be read in order. I started off with the third novel, Class of ’69. I quickly became a fan of Heldt’s writing and couldn’t wait for more. I was glad this one didn’t disappoint.

Now that I’ve read all five, in this second book, I’ve noticed a lot of similarities with the other novels, such as repetition in the dialogue between characters, which made me begin skimming. Although it’s the second book in the series, it’s the fifth one I’ve read, and reading some of the dialogue became tedious. That said, I don’t plan on subtracting any points from the book because I truly enjoyed the story that was weaved together.

Professor Geoffrey Bell and his wife, Jeanette are the only characters that remain in each of the books. I like them, particularly Geoffrey. They aren’t present much, which is a shame but understandable. They are the keepers of a time traveling tunnel built by Bell’s distant relative, Percival Bell. Every so often, they choose people as a guinea pig of sorts to travel to certain parts of the past using this tunnel. The way the return is by use of a magnificent crystal.

In Mercer Street, Susan Peterson travels with her mother, Elizabeth, and daughter, Amanda, to the year 1938, to Princeton, New Jersey. There, the trio gets swept up in love, honor, and heartbreak as they embark on a journey of a lifetime.

As usual, the story line is intriguing and fun to read. Heldt does an amazing job with his research to make this story believable. Of course, with any story messing with events of the past, anything can happen. I’m sure if you had the opportunity to walk into yesteryear, you’d be tempted to make the most of it. You’d want to make new friends with amazing people, even fall in love….after all, the heart wants what the heart wants. And just like any story messing with events of the past, even the smallest change may have major consequences that could impact the current times.

I won’t say whether it did or didn’t in this book. That’s the fun part of turning the pages until you’ve reached the end. Mercer Street is a light, clean read, one that you can’t put down.

Overall rating: 5 out of 5 stars

*For more book reviews, click here.*

Biography

John A. Heldt

John A. Heldt is the author of the critically acclaimed Northwest Passage and American Journey series. The former reference librarian and award-winning sportswriter has loved getting subjects and verbs to agree since writing book reports on baseball heroes in grade school. A graduate of the University of Oregon and the University of Iowa, Heldt is an avid fisherman, sports fan, home brewer, and reader of thrillers and historical fiction. When not sending contemporary characters to the not-so-distant past, he weighs in on literature and life at johnheldt.blogspot.com.

Devil in the Countryside @CoryBarclay #bookreview

  • Title: Devil in the Countryside
  • Author: Cory Barclay
  • Print Length: 348
  • Publication Date: February 15, 2017
  • Sold by Amazon Digital Services LLC
  • Language: English
  • Formats:  Kindle, Paperback
  • Goodreads
  • Genres: Science Fiction, Historical Fiction, Horror, Mystery

It’s very rare that I would be tempted to give any book more than a five-star rating. If I did do that, then Cory Barclay’s Devil in the Countryside would be one of the few. It’s 1588, and a killer is terrorizing the German countryside. It’s rumored to be the legendary Werewolf of Bedburg. Investigator Heinrich Franz is assigned to find the killer, seeking help wherever he can get it. A priest attempts to keep the peace amongst the townspeople, while he attempts to fight against the temptation of a young woman that could destroy his most basic beliefs. They find themselves wrapped in mysteries, steering through the political and religious landscape of the 16th century.

Devil in the Countryside was an extremely tightly written novel, keeping me on my toes the entire time I was reading. I did not want to put it down. The characters were three-dimensional and realistic…very memorable. In my minds-eye, the book played like a movie. I felt as though I was watching the scenes unfold so much, that at times, I had to remind myself that I was in the 21st century. I felt it was that good.

You’ll not only want to find out who—or what—is piling corpse after corpse, you’ll want to find out what secret these characters are withholding from everyone else. You’ll want to find out if they can force temptation out of their minds. You’ll want to find out everything you can about this book.

The story is action-packed from the second it begins until the ending, leaving the reader on the edge of their seat. There were times when the dialogue didn’t seem up to par with the time; however, that didn’t even matter. The scenes were painted beautifully. For readers that enjoy historical fiction, werewolf hunts, and murder, I recommend giving Devil in the Countryside a try. It’s a must-read!

Overall Rate: 5 out of 5 stars

For more book reviews, visit https://angelakaysbooks.com/book-reviews/.


Biography

Cory Barclay

As far back as he can remember, Cory Barclay has always loved the “big picture” questions. How much knowledge did humanity lose when the Library of Alexandria was burned down? Why has the concept of Heaven remained intact, in one form or another, throughout most of human history and how has it impacted life on Earth?

And even before that, when he first began writing stories in grade school, he’s been fascinated with histories and mysteries. Whether Norse mythology, the Dark Ages, or the conquests of great leaders, Cory’s been that kid who wants to know what’s shaped our world and write about it. Especially the great unsolved mysteries.

So Devil in the Countryside was a natural for him.

Born and raised in San Diego, he graduated from University of California, Santa Cruz, where he studied Creative Writing and Modern Literary Studies. He’s also a songwriter and guitarist, and – no surprise – many of his songs explore the same topics he writes about – the great mysteries of our crazy world.

Devil in the Countryside is his second novel and he’s hard at work on its sequel.

 

September Sky #BookReview

  • Title: September SkySeptember Sky (American Journey Book 1) by [Heldt, John A.]
  • Author: John Heldt
  • File Size: 1032KB
  • Print Length: 363
  • Publication Date: January 1, 2016
  • Sold by Amazon Digital Services LLC
  • Language: English
  • Formats:  Kindle, Audible
  • Goodreads
  • Genres: Historical Fiction, Romance

September Sky begins the American Journey series with Chuck Townsend, an unemployed San Francisco reporter, and his college-dropout son, Justin. During a cruise, they attend a lecture where Professor Geoffery Bell discusses the possibility of time travel. Soon after, he offers the Townsends the chance of a lifetime. Though skeptical, they embark on an incredible journey to 1900.

September Sky has pretty much everything you could want in a book: history, love, adventure and mystery. Although Chuck Townsend and his son were instructed to go to Chicago, they ride the train to Galveston, Texas, in hopes to right a wrong. In doing so, they each fall in love with a duo of librarians, make new friends and ultimately enemies.

Character development was energetic and well-developed. My favorites were Justin and Emily. They seemed most real and I enjoyed getting to know them. Chuck and Justin, who were just beginning to find common ground for their own struggling relationship gradually grew throughout the book.

The era and its customs were also well researched. I felt I was there–however, I do feel the dialogue for the 1900 characters seemed a little too modern. Of course, that wasn’t a deal breaker for me.

The story itself was slow moving but steady. It was predictable from having read books three through five before picking up September Sky, although I did come across a few fun twists. While this isn’t my favorite book of this series, September Sky is well worth the time to read. I had to force myself to put it down.

Overall Rate: 4 out of 5 stars

*For more book reviews, visit: Angela Kay’s Book Reviews*

Biography

John A. HeldtJohn A. Heldt is the author of the critically acclaimed Northwest Passage and American Journey series. The former reference librarian and award-winning sportswriter has loved getting subjects and verbs to agree since writing book reports on baseball heroes in grade school. A graduate of the University of Oregon and the University of Iowa, Heldt is an avid fisherman, sports fan, home brewer, and reader of thrillers and historical fiction. When not sending contemporary characters to the not-so-distant past, he weighs in on literature and life at johnheldt.blogspot.com.

 

Hannah’s Moon #Bookreview

  • Title: Hannah’s Moon51bro8xaiol
  • Author: John A. Heldt
  • File Size: 869KB
  • Print Length: 481
  • Publication Date: February 8, 2017
  • Sold by Amazon Digital Services LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B06X3RKB37
  • Formats:  Kindle
  • Goodreads
  • Genres: Historical Fiction

I honestly don’t think it gets much better than this. Hannah’s Moon is the fifth book of John Heldt’s American Journey series. I’ve read two other books in the series (Indiana Belle and Class of ’69) and thoroughly enjoyed each. However, if I were to give the prize ribbon to a story-line, Hannah’s Moon would win by a mile.

It tells the story of a young couple in 2017 who wants nothing more than to have a baby. They’ve spent years trying and failing and finally began considering adoption. They soon learn of a way where they can legally adopt a healthy child in a shorter amount of time, but the catch is they have to do it in 1945. After meeting the child of their dreams, their bliss is deferred when they must overcome life-changing obstacles.

I caught a few typos along the way and also found myself overanalyzing the plot (though I did love the idea of it) by wondering about adopting a child born more than seventy years ago and the consequences of such an action. But I found myself drawn into the story within a few pages, having to force myself to set it down and get some sleep.

This has everything: love, friendship, pain, happiness…toward the ending, several moments pulled at my heartstrings and tears began to form from the corners of my eyes. After wanting to hurry and find out what happens next, I finished Hannah’s Moon and was sad to see that I had no more left to read.

I could tell Mr. Heldt did his research. I felt as though I was a fly on the characters’ walls, watching as they fought to come out on top.

If you’re in the mood for light romance and/or time travel where anything can happen–or you’re simply after a good book, then I highly recommend Hannah’s Moon.

Overall rating: 5 out of 5 stars

*For more reviews, click here: Angela Kay’s Books Reviews*

Biography

John A. Heldt

John A. Heldt is the author of the critically acclaimed Northwest Passage and American Journey series. The former reference librarian and award-winning sportswriter has loved getting subjects and verbs to agree since writing book reports on baseball heroes in grade school. A graduate of the University of Oregon and the University of Iowa, Heldt is an avid fisherman, sports fan, home brewer, and reader of thrillers and historical fiction. When not sending contemporary characters to the not-so-distant past, he weighs in on literature and life at johnheldt.blogspot.com.

Half A Step Away From Love #BookReview

  • Title: Half a Step Away From LoveHalf a Step Away from Love (a historical fantasy romance) by [Kuno, Olga]
  • Author: Olga Kuno
  • File Size: 2227KB
  • Print Length: 416
  • Publication Date: June 15, 2016
  • Sold by Amazon Digital Services LLC
  • Language: English
  • Formats:  Kindle
  • Goodreads
  • Genres: Historical Fiction, Romance

Half a Step Away From Love reminded me a lot of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. It follows Inessa Antego, who is the first lady-in-waiting to be the Duke’s sister. She does everything in order to please her mistress–be it aid in the escape of a secret lover, steal portrait, etc. However, duties are being threatened by the desires of her own heart: Lord Cameron Estley.

This novel was originally written as a bestseller in Russia, which I thought was pretty neat to receive a request to review  with Olga Kuno being an indie author in America. I have to say I thoroughly enjoyed this book. No, it wasn’t perfect in the translation from Russian to English, but I honestly don’t expect that in most book translations. So, no problem there.

I wasn’t too fond of the way the story opened because it seemed as though it would be a third person narrative, then a few paragraphs later, Inessa barges into the room and we find that it’s in her first person point of view. It was confusing at first but didn’t disrupt my reading too long since the opening was short. The narrative included a lot of adverbs…a bit too many. Other than those instances, the prose was extremely nicely done. In my opinion, the story overshadowed the few downfalls.

The author created each of her characters very well…they popped out of the pages, claiming life of their own. I especially loved the heroine, Inessa, as she was very witty, very knowledgeable and very loyal. Much like Elizabeth Bennett in Pride and Prejudice fought against her feelings for Mr. Darcy, Inessa couldn’t help her feelings with Lord Estley, a man she claims to dislike. I found myself quite amused by the conversations with Inessa and her companions. And to top it off, she even had a friend that was a palace ghost who helped her with mischievous duties.

If you enjoy Jane Austen, and you enjoy twists, tears, and humor, then I’d say go for Half a Step Away From Love. You won’t be disappointed.

Overall Rate: 5 out of 5 stars

Biography

Olga Kuno

Born in Moscow and having left Russia in 1991, Olga Kuno has lived in Europe, Asia and America. Having completed her Ph.D. in linguistics, she started writing fantasy romance novels. Today she is both a lecturer in linguistics and a famous Russian fantasy writer who tries hard not to mention princes, dragons and magicians in her scientific articles. Her interests include British folklore, linguistic analysis of humor and animal communication. Among her favorite authors are such English writers as Oscar Wilde, Jane Austen and J. R. R. Tolkien, which is definitely reflected in her novels.

Class of ’59 #BookReview @Johnheldt

  • Title: Class of ’59Class of '59 (American Journey Book 4) by [Heldt, John A.]
  • Author: John Heldt
  • File Size: 740KB
  • Print Length: 293
  • Publication Date: September 1, 2016
  • Sold by Amazon Digital Services LLC
  • Language: English
  • Formats:  Kindle
  • Goodreads
  • Genres: Historical Fiction

The first book of John Heldt I read was book number three of his American Journey series, Indiana Belle, which I thoroughly enjoyed. Class of ’59 is the fourth installment. As with Indiana Belle, you don’t have to read the others in order to enjoy this one.

As I began to delve into Class of ’59, I fell in love with the story line. All the characters were easy to love. The only thing that seemed to bother me, though not for long, was Mary Beth seemed too quick and willing to trust that Mark, a stranger who entered and exited the very house she was staying, was from the past.

Mary Beth, along with her sister–Piper–spends time with the two young men who lived in the past–Mark and his brother, Sam. The four embark on a journey they will never forget. Piper and Mary Beth decide to live in 1959 for a while and have the experience of a lifetime–Piper enrolls into Ben’s school, Mary Beth spends time with Mark. The sisters easily begin to fall for the brothers, which results in the quandary you’d expect–what happens when they realize that their time together must come to an end.

Class of ’59 takes you back to a time when everything was simpler. The dialogue was amazing and captivating. The plot moved forward at a fast pace and keeps you yearning for more. At the end of each chapter, I kept telling myself that I’ll read just one more chapter–before I knew it, it was ten o’clock at night and I’d finished the novel in one day. I highly recommend it.

Overall Rate: 5 out of 5 stars

Biography

John A. HeldtJohn A. Heldt is the author of the critically acclaimed Northwest Passage and American Journey series. The former reference librarian and award-winning sportswriter has loved getting subjects and verbs to agree since writing book reports on baseball heroes in grade school. A graduate of the University of Oregon and the University of Iowa, Heldt is an avid fisherman, sports fan, home brewer, and reader of thrillers and historical fiction. When not sending contemporary characters to the not-so-distant past, he weighs in on literature and life at johnheldt.blogspot.com.

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