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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Brilliant Disguise: A Charlie McClung Mystery (The Charlie McClung Mysteries Book 1)

  • Title: Brilliant Disguise: A Charlie McClung Mystery
  • Author: Mary Anne Edwards
  • Print Length: 333
  • Publication Date: January 18, 2014
  • Sold by Amazon Digital Services LLC
  • Language: English
  • Formats:  Kindle, Paperback
  • Goodreads
  • Genres: Mystery, Cozy Mystery

Brilliant Disguise is the first of five mysteries in the Charlie McClung series.  Marian is a widow still trying to come to terms with her husband’s death some years before. As a result, there are very few people she allows to get close to her. One of them is Jodie and the other Dianne. One night, the neighborhood hears a loud commotion. Along with the rest of the neighbors, Marian goes to check. It doesn’t take long to learn that Dianne had been shot. Cause of death: suicide. Or is it?

Charlie McClung is a new detective in town and doubts the validity of the chief’s suicide claims. In fact, there are many things about the police department that are questionable. Being new, McClung doesn’t know who to trust, with the exception of a grieving widow next door to his victim. Together, McClung unofficially joins forces with Marian to figure out exactly what went wrong the night Dianne died.

Brilliant Disguise is a very light, fun read. It’s told in the omniscient point of view, which is my least favorite when reading. Personally, I prefer the third person and being inside the mind of one character at a time. It took some time for me to be OK with the first person, and I suppose after reading more omniscient POVs, I’ll get used to it. It just confused me at first, especially when the entire series is a “Charlie McClung Mystery.” But that’s just me. I still enjoyed the read. Because I tend to spend my time reading about (and writing) hard-boiled crimes and science fiction, this delightful cozy mystery was a refresher.

The characters are likable, although I disliked Dan, Dianne’s husband. I won’t say why in case I end up giving away too much to the plot. But Marian and McClung were fun to get to know. I felt Marian and McClung had great chemistry throughout the course of the book. There were a couple of parts in Marian’s grief of losing her husband that seemed to be too much for the purpose of the story. But I was glad to know a man entered her life to help her let go after ten years. And he’s Irish, at that, which scored major points in McClung’s favor. And a bit of jealous of Marian.

Above all, the story held at a steady pace. The mystery itself was sound. There was quite a bit of twisting and turning involved. I had no idea how it would end, although I had a few presumptions here and there.

Brilliant Disguise was aptly named. I recommend this book to anyone that’s a fan of mysteries and or clean romance. This is definitely one book I can see being played on the Hallmark mystery channel.

Overall Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

*For more book reviews, click here.*

Biography

Mary Anne Edwards

Born in Mercedes, Texas, Mary Anne has lived in Georgia most of her life. A life-long fan of authors such as Agatha Christie, Anne Perry, Caroline Graham, and Elizabeth Peters, it wasn’t until a few years ago that Mary Anne decided to listen to the voices in her head and began writing her own series of traditional mysteries featuring Detective Charlie McClung.

The first book in the series, Brilliant Disguise, was released to critical acclaim in January of 2014. The next three in the series, A Good Girl, Criminal Kind, and Sins of my Youth were released soon afterward. The fifth book in the series, Flirting with Time, was released June 30, 2017. Mary Anne is currently working on the sixth book, Good To Be King, with at least four more to follow.

Mary Anne and her husband currently live in Smyrna, GA with an ill-tempered Tuxedo cat named Gertrude. Mary Anne is active in the Sisters in Crime Atlanta Chapter and sits on the advisory board of Rockdale Cares, a non-profit advocacy group for the developmentally challenged.

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.

A Taste For Love #bookreview

  • Title: A Taste For Love
  • Author: Cathy Padilla
  • Print Length: 344
  • Publisher: Clean Reads
  • Publication Date: April 18, 2017
  • Sold by Amazon Digital Services LLC
  • Language: English
  • Formats:  Kindle
  • Goodreads
  • Genres: Romance

Sarah is a young, strong-willed woman who is nothing if not loyal to her family and friend. She’d been hurt in the past, which resulted in her fear of falling in love, so she vows to avoid it. When she meets Luke Patterson, it’s an instant affection. They connect on a level which surprises her and she finds herself at ease whenever he’s around. While she’s struggling with unwanted feelings for Luke, she finds herself blackmailed by another man into an engagement to save her family’s honor and their land. Luke, on the other hand, has his own secret to protect. While he works to save the woman he loves from sacrificing everything, he tries to help her overcome her fear of love.

A Taste of Love is an excellent, fun to read on the beach novel by Cathy Padilla. The story was well-written and the scenes were clean, meaning there were no erotica or bad language, which was good.

Throughout most of the book, I was hoping to find more of a fault to Luke. He seemed a little too perfect; however, I still liked the character and wished there were men just like him. Sarah, though set in her ways, bounced around whether or not she should trust Luke. After her past dealings with love, it’s understandable. However, at times, I just wanted to tell her to take a deep breath and calm herself. A few parts in the story, character-wise, I didn’t care much for. One time Sarah wanted a friend to find out what the statute of limitations to murder was. Maybe it’s just me as a mystery writer/fanatic but I thought it was a crazy thing to ask. There were a few other brief scenes such as that that struck out as weird. Thankfully they didn’t stay in my mind as I continued to read.

My biggest issue in the story was the point of view changes. However, I later found out after reading the novel that it was meant to be in the omniscient point of view. There was a scene when it’s mainly Sarah’s POV and she’s talking on the phone with her Aunt Laura, we know that Laura winks at her sister, although Sarah obviously can’t see her. I normally prefer to know what’s inside one person’s head during a particular scene because at times ended up confusing me. However, I ultimately decided to overlook POV changes because I enjoyed the story.

While I did figure out some of the plot points, there were one or two which shocked me toward the end. I would certainly enjoy reading more romance from this author. I believe she has the ability to go from being good to great. It’s one of those sweet novels where you turn the pages and realized you’ve spent hours reading when it only feels like a few minutes.

Overall Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

*For more book reviews, click here.*

World of the Innocent #bookreview

  • Title: World of the Innocent
  • Author: Nadine Keels
  • Print Length: 108
  • Publication Date: May 23, 2017
  • Sold by Amazon Digital Services LLC
  • Language: English
  • Formats:  Kindle, Paperback
  • Goodreads
  • Genres: Romance, Christian, Young Adult

World of the Innocent is a sweet story of two young people, Jhoi and Marcas, as they explore themselves and romance. Jhoi (pronounced JOY) is a young, African-American woman who’s poetic and guarded. Marcas is admired by many but is viewed as strange.

Nadine Keels creatively weaves a genuine romantic tale of two people who falls in love before they realize what’s happening. The words across the pages are vivid enough that you get a feel for not only the scenery but for the characters’, particularly Jhoi and Marcas, sentiments as they explore their budding relationship and faith in God.

Time goes by quickly in this novella and at times took a few seconds for me to realize that it had been a few days or even a month from the last sentence. The ending came as a surprise to me (in a good way) but I wanted more of an elaboration because it had the opportunity to draw some tears.

Either way, this was a sweet YA novella that deserves a chance in the limelight.

Overall Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

For more book reviews, click here.

Biography

Nadine C. Keels

Find hope and inspiration here. http://www.prismaticprospects.wordpress.com

Nadine. A French name, meaning, “hope.”
With her lifelong passion for life-enriching fiction, Nadine C. Keels enjoys reading and writing everything from short stories to novels. Her fiction works include Love Unfeigned and The Movement of Crowns Series, and select pieces of her lyrical poetry can be found on her spoken word album, Hope. Lyricized. As the founder of Prismatic Prospects, her communication company, Nadine has served as editor for a number of titles, and through her writing, from her books to her blog posts, she aims to help spark hope, inspiration, and genius in as many as she is privileged to reach.

The Wager: A Romantic Comedy as Christian Allegory #bookreview

  • Title:  The Wager: A Romantic Comedy By ChrThe Wager: A Romantic Comedy as Christian Allegory by [Brister, Mike]istian Allegory
  • Author: Mike Brister
  • Print Length: 284
  • Publisher: Michael E. Brister
  • Publication Date: August 9, 2016
  • Sold by Amazon Digital Services LLC
  • Language: English
  • Formats:  Kindle, Paperback
  • Goodreads
  • Genres: Christian Fiction, Romance, Comedy

The Wager is written as a cross between a romance novel and a play. We meet two very distinct characters and we quickly fall in love with them. Sarah Dumont is a famous actress, rich, grew up in a prominent family as the oldest child. Because of her status, she is driven, focused, and pretty much snotty. Matt Shepard is not rich, who was the youngest child growing up on a farm. Matt is working hard at putting pieces of his life back together, friendly and sly.

The two meet based on a wager: Sarah is challenged that she wouldn’t be able to earn Matt’s attention. Sarah’s first intention was to have him make furniture for her in LA. Then when the wager is made, I felt like something was missing within the story line. Sarah wants furniture, then the woman tells her Matt wouldn’t meet with her no matter. From there, it seems Sarah’s immediately offended being told she wouldn’t be able to get Matt out on a date. I felt I needed something more to explain.

When they finally do meet, from there on, the two personalities clash and are full of hilarious banter. You can’t help but love them. I also love the use of Doodle, Matt’s dog, in the story. It only made me love Matt all the more. I found him to be very charismatic and charming.

The writing style flowed nicely. The only thing I wasn’t too fond of was that the narrative repeated pieces of the dialogue and vice versa. Having to read too much repetition made me skim more than I’d like. However, it was easy to get the feel of the southern accent. Whether you’re Midwestern, southern, northern or from Mars, readers will find themselves slipping into a southern accent.

Sometimes it was difficult for me to gather the feelings of the characters but I think it’s really up to the reader. After reading parts of the scene, I would go back and reread in order for me to get the sense of how they felt during the incident. I feel this is primarily due to the fact that it’s more of a play (or movie/TV script).

Regardless of the few “negatives,” I thoroughly enjoyed the read. It had humor, it had tears, it had love, and of course, a hidden moral to the story.

Overall Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

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

Biography

Mike Brister

Mike Brister was born in Jackson, Mississippi, in 1952. His father worked for the Illinois Central Railroad and in 1955 was transferred to New Orleans, Louisiana. This began a lifelong relationship with one of the most unique cities in the world. Eventually, the family would return to Jackson.

Mike received degrees in mathematics and spent his working career as a consulting actuary. Now retired, he has written his first novel. He has made numerous trips to Haiti and plans more. The hope is that the novel is a fun read and allows for the purchase of goats for families in Haiti.

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.

 

Souls to the Polls #BookReview

  • Title: Souls to the Polls
  • Author: Patricia Murphy
  • Print Length: 394
  • Publication Date: November 19, 2016
  • Sold by Amazon Digital Services LLC
  • Language: English
  • Formats:  Kindle, Paperback
  • Goodreads
  • Genres: Comedy, Romance

Synopsis:

Maggie Frew is a demon. Like all demons, she works in US politics – keeping her darkness under control by feeding it a steady diet of malevolence and sin. The problem: Maggie’s candidate in Virginia, older than dirt Peter Cameron, doesn’t have an evil bone in his body. And without a steady source of food, Maggie’s demon could wind up controlling her. The plot thickens: A crime spree heats up in the sleepy town of Leesburg, Virginia, thanks to a rogue demon intent on creating mayhem. And now the creature has set its sights on Maggie. Somehow, Maggie will have to find a new source of food, stop a rogue demon from exposing its existence to the world, and manage a campaign team made up of two seventy year-old Lesbians and Harry the Terrified Intern. It’s high octane politics, comedy, romance, and campaign sabotage in Souls to the Polls.

My Review:

When I began to read Souls to the Polls, I had mixed feelings about it. Mainly because with how people have been reacting during the last few elections, I didn’t know whether I wanted to read a book about demons in politics, be it fiction or not. I tend to be wary of things like that. But in the end, I decided to accept this book and see what I thought.

It did take a little bit for me to get into the story. In fact, I’ve set it down several times until I decided it was finally time to push through. I never did like starting a book and not finish. After reading the first few chapters again, I was pleased to find that Souls to the Polls was actually a fun, easy read. It may be about politics, but it’s so much more than that–you’ll even forget about that aspect.

The characters we meet were very well-rounded and enjoyable to get to know. They really managed to bring the story to light. For me, if not for the quirky characters, both major and minor, I would have decided to give up for good. They really bring the plot alive and you’ll find yourself laughing at the craziest things–in a good, wholehearted way.

Like most any book, there were some things I enjoyed, and there were some things I could have done without. However, either way, Patricia Murphy deserves recognition for her brilliant way of writing Souls to the Polls.

Overall Rate: 4 out of 5 stars

*Read more reviews at: https://angelakaysbooks.com/book-reviews/*

About the Author

Patricia Murphy is a full-time writer in Washington, DC. She has a lot of years of experience working on campaign politics all throughout the US though, by her own admission, she was a pretty lousy campaign manager. This is due entirely to the fact that she spent most of her time writing about the off-the-wall anecdotes and colorful characters she met along the way instead of actually running the campaign.

Patricia is happily married with two overweight cats and her first child on the way. In her spare time, she enjoys yelling at the television during presidential debates and eating cold pizza for breakfast.

Poet of the Wrong Generation #BookReview

  • Title: Poet of the Wrong Generation
  • Author: Lonnie Ostrow
  • Print Length: 455
  • Publication Date: November 10, 2016
  • Sold by Amazon Digital Services LLC
  • Language: English
  • Formats:  Kindle, Paperback
  • Goodreads
  • Genres: Romance, Contemporary Fiction, Young Adult

My Review:

I was surprised to find that I loved everything about this book–from the cover to the prose. The storyline was engrossing, the characters extremely well-developed, the dialogue superb…well, Poet of the Wrong Generation is a book you have to read when you have no pressing matters to attend to because it’s that hard to put down.

We open with a prologue to the present. Johnny Elias is staring into a photograph taking himself back into a time when life was good and carefree. He was in love, had friends, he had happiness. And now, because of the things happened since then, he’s feeling regret. Don’t we all when we start feeling that nostalgia?

After we’re through we the prologue, the next time we see Johnny is back in time in 1991. He joins Megan Price, the girl he loves, and their friends at a concert in Central Park. However, soon after, everything changes. Feeling heartbroken and betrayed, he begins doing what a lot of real people do in these kinds of situations: a writes down his feelings. But these aren’t just words. They’re magical poetry from the heart. Johnny ends up turning his writing to music and falls into success and fame.

This was a truly amazing novel. I can see it becoming a summer series or even a mini-series on the Hallmark channel. But at the same time, perhaps they better not touch this story. After all, bringing stories to live, especially on network television, it just may ruin this beautiful creation of Lonnie Ostrow’s.

If you want a book complete with twists and turns, pick up Poet of the Wrong Generation. If you want a book with star-crossed lovers, pick up Poet of the Wrong Generation. If you want a book that tugs at your heartstrings in every way, pick up Poet of the Wrong Generation. It’s well worth the time it takes to read. I highly recommend this pleasure of a book.

Overall Rate: 5 out of 5 stars

Lonnie Ostrow
Biography

Lonnie Ostrow has been an innovator, storyteller, promoter and celebrity-insider for more than two decades. With Poet Of The Wrong Generation, he combines all his unique experiences to bring you a novel of love & betrayal, music & fanfare, downfall & redemption — a fable of stardom’s rewards, set in New York City during the 1990s. It’s been hailed as “the ultimate rock & roll love story.” Since 2001, Mr. Ostrow has been the publicity/marketing director & researcher for the iconic best-selling novelist Barbara T. Bradford. He also serves as an editorial and marketing consultant for a collection of first-time authors through The Editorial Department in Tucson, AZ. Previously he served as a PR executive, promoting an assortment of first-time celebrity authors including Ray Manzarek of The Doors.

From 1995 – 2001, Mr. Ostrow was widely credited with inventing the “living celebrity postal phenomenon.” In all, he worked with more than 40 legendary personalities from the Bee Gees to Bob Dylan, Sylvester Stallone to Jackie Chan, creating media events to celebrate their postal recognition by an assortment of foreign nations.

Ostrow’s first publication, Titanic, A Postal Collection, was published in 1998.

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