23 February 2017

Review: Dawn on the Road by Lea Waterhouse

YA Road Trip

Dawn Berlin is a high school senior with her life mapped out for her. At least, her mom has Dawn’s life mapped out, starting with an Ivy League college. But Dawn wants to go to art school and study photography. And her first choice of school has an open day next weekend. Not that she’ll be able to go. No way would her mother allow it.

But then Justin Devenport, her childhood best friend, walks into the diner where she works, and the impossible becomes possible. Justin has a motorbike and a tent, and the time to take Dawn north to Vancouver …

Dawn on the Road is a solid coming-of-age story. 

Sure, there are few glitches. It took a while to get going, and the end was abrupt, if fitting. The story is told entirely in first person, which works for young adult, but which made the repeated I thought” tags feel redundant.

I wasn’t entirely convinced by Justin. 

He was an excellent character—intelligent, ambitious, and growing in his Christian faith. But I wasn’t sure exactly what motivated him to look Dawn up after all those years. I guess that’s one of the down sides of first person—we don’t always understand the secondary characters (because Dawn doesn’t understand him either).

Dawn I understood only too well, the internal battle between doing what she wants and doing what everyone else tells her is the right thing to do.. The desire to try her own way, even just once. And the complete lack of thought over the possible consequences …

Yes, I enojoyed Dawn on the Road. 

It was a quick and easy read, although those readers who prefer the more traditional third person past tense might not agree. Recommended for fans of Serena Chase.

Thanks to the author for providing a free ebook for review. You can come back tomorrow to find out more about Lea Waterhouse, as she'll be sharing her Friday Fifteen—her fifteen favourite books and authors.

You can connect with Lea via Twitter or her website.

21 February 2017

Review: The Writer’s Book Launch Guide by Keely Brooke Keith

Short, but to the point

This is a short book, because it’s one that is meant to be acted upon rather than just read (in fact, there is an accompanying Writer’s Book Launch Journal for tracking the details of your book launch plan).

But while it might be short on words, it’s not short on ideas … or timing. The author recommends writers begin planning their book launch a full year before the launch of their first book, by establishing (or updating) their author website. This might scare off some authors, but it makes sense. Couples planning for a new baby (especially a first baby) start planning months before the birth (I certainly did. We needed a new place to live and a new car to start with, and those things don’t just happen). The same is true of a book launch. As this book makes clear,

The weakness of this Guide is that it doesn’t go into sufficient detail in some areas. For example, many aspiring authors know they should have a website, but what kind? Blogger, Weebly, Wix or Wordpress? Self-hosted or not? What does that even mean? What are the relative advantages of Hootsuite vs. TweetDeck vs Buffer?

This is where the guide could have done with more detail. However, the author rightly says that a lot of this information changes, and there is already a huge amount of information available.

One thing I particularly liked (and that other debut authors could learn from) is her recommendation that authors start finding potential book reviewers nine months before their launch day. As a book reviewer, I agree. I’m often approached by authors wanting reviews for their book which releases next week (or if they’re planning ahead, next month). Few authors realise how quickly our reviewing schedules can fill up!

Not all authors will want to undertake every activity (*cough* podcasting *cough*). But the list is a starting point, and it’s up to the author/reader to decide what is going to work best for them and their book.

There is also an accompanying Writer's Book Launch Journal (paperback only), for tracking all the details of your upcoming launch.

Thanks to the author for providing a free ebook for review.

If you'd like to find out more about Keely Brooke Keith, visit her website, or pay a visit to Christian Editing Services tomorrow, where Keely will be my guest as she discusses the basics of launching a book.

16 February 2017

Review: Raging Storm by Vanetta Chapman

Exciting Sequel to Deep Shadows

Raging Storm is the second book in Vanetta Chapman’s The Remnant series, following Deep Shadows, and it’s definitely a series you need to read in order. If you haven’t read Deep Shadows, I recommend you read it before even reading this review. But you can click here to read my review of Deep Shadows.

Long story short ...

A solar flare has fried every computer chip in North America, so there are no computers, no Wi-Fi, no electricity … and little in the way of government or police protection.

(At this point I’m wondering how New Zealand would fare after a solar flare. After all, our local hydroelectric power station predates computer chips by decades, so surely it would still run. It also makes me thankful for our gun control laws—I don’t know anyone who owns a gun except a couple of farmers who keep them for shooting possums.)

Raging Storm starts with Shelby and her teenage son in Abney, Texas, in relative safety. But not for long—Shelby needs insulin to manage Carter’s diabetes, which means a trip to Austin, in the hope there will be some there. And a trip to Austin in this increasingly lawless society means facing unknown dangers.

Raging Storm seemed to start slowly, because it took a while for me to get into it. But once I did, it was solid conflict and action. There were a lot of bad people, but there was also a significant minority who tried to do the right thing—and some paid the price.

The whole novel takes place over a relatively short period of time, which means there isn’t a lot of room for character change and growth. The focus is more on fast-paced action.
I guess what shocked/surprised me most (but perhaps shouldn’t have) was the selfishness of most of most of the minor characters. Not just the low-key selfishness of wanting to do our own thing rather than something harder that is in the best interests of other people, but the willingness to abandon any semblance of civilised behaviour the moment it becomes clear there will be no consequences.

I suppose this is everyday life for people outside my first-world bubble.

An exciting dystopian thriller, recommended for those who want to read something a little outside the Christian norm.

Thanks to Harvest House and NetGalley for providing a free ebook for review. You can find out more about Vanetta Chapman at her website, and you can read the introduction to Raging Storm below:

14 February 2017

I'm Reviewing Still Life by Dani Pettrey at Suspense Sisters Reviews!

I'm over at Suspense Sisters Reviews today, reviewing Still Life by Dani Pettrey. It's the second novel in her new Chesapeake Valor series, recommended for those who enjoy fast-paced thrillers from authors such as Terri Blackstock and Ronie Kendig.

Click here to read my review. Here's the Amazon book description:
Romantic Suspense's Rising Star Continues to Win Fans
Blacklisted in the photography business over a controversial shot, Avery Tate answered an ad for a crime scene photographer. She expected to be laughed at, but crime scene analyst Parker Mitchell hired her outright--and changed her life. But six months ago, when her feelings for Parker became too strong, she left his employ to sort out her heart.
Now, for the first time, Avery is facing the world that rejected her to attend the gallery opening of a photography exhibit and support her best friend, who modeled for the show. But the only image of her friend is a chilling photo of her posing as if dead--and the photographer insists he didn't take the shot. Worse, her friend can't be found. She immediately calls Parker for help. As Avery, Parker, and his friends in law enforcement dig into the mystery, they find themselves face-to-face with a relentless and deadly threat.

And here's a link to the first book in the series, Cold Shot: Click here to read my review.

10 February 2017

Review: Murder on the Moor by Julianna Deering

Another Excellent Drew Fathering Mystery

I have enjoyed every one of Julianna Deering’s Drew Farthering Mysteries, but I think Murder on the Moor is the best yet. It’s the fifth book in the series, and although there is a minor subplot arching over the series, this can be read as a standalone, or as part of the series. And best of all, reading them out of order won’t hurt.

In Murder on the Moor, Drew and Madeline Fathering are called to an old house in a tiny village on the edge of the Yorkshire Moors after the local vicar is found murdered on the steps of the church. There is no apparent motive but there is a village full of interesting characters with secrets to hide … the handsome Welsh gamekeeper, the bright unsatisfied wife, the unhappy neighbours, the rough local poacher, his blind daughter who weaves yarn in beautiful colours, and the tales of an enormous wild beast which roams the moors.

And there are the village secrets Drew gradually uncovers, one of which will lead him to the truth about the murder … if he isn’t killed first.

Murder in the Moor is set in the 1930s, and is written in the classic style of writers such as Agatha Christie, and Georgette Heyer (who wrote ‘contemporary’ mysteries as well as her better-known Regency romance). The style and tone perfectly captures the feel of the era, especially the different classes, and the ending was perfect: unexpected, yet obvious enough (in hindsight) to be satisfying.

Overall, recommended for mystery fans.

Thanks to Bethany House and NetGalley for providing a free ebook for review. Julianna Deering also writes as DeAnna Julie Dodson, and you can find out more about her at her website. You can read the opening to Murder on the Moor below: