Firstborn, by Tosca Lee

book cover FirstbornPublisher’s Overview:

From New York Times bestselling author Tosca Lee comes the much-anticipated, high-speed sequel to The Progeny, about the powerful descendants of Elizabeth Bathory, the most prolific serial killer of all time.

Face-to-face with her past, Audra Ellison now knows the secret she gave up everything—including her memory—to protect. A secret made vulnerable by her rediscovery, and so powerful neither the Historian nor the traitor Prince Nikola will ever let her live to keep it.

With Luka in the Historian’s custody and the clock ticking down on his life, Audra only has one impossible chance: find and kill the Historian and end the centuries old war between the Progeny and Scions at last—all while running from the law and struggling to control her growing powers.

With the help of a heretic monk and her Progeny friends Claudia, Piotrek, and Jester, Audra will risk all she holds dear in a final bid to save them all and put her powers to the ultimate test. Love, action, and stunning revelation reign in this thrilling conclusion to The Progeny.

First Thoughts:

This is the continuation of The Progeny.

My Take:

First up, Firstborn isn’t a pretty little standalone that can be read out of sequence. Stop if you’ve not read The Progeny first, because you will need the information contained it. The four pages of recap really aren’t enough. Because it had been over a year since I’d read it, I actually re-read it before starting in on Firstborn and I was glad I did. The Progeny left readers with a stunning revelation and the narrative of Firstborn picks up where it left off. It moves at a heart attack pace with so many twists and turns that it was occasionally hard to keep up. Thank goodness also for the cast of characters at the beginning. While most of the names were featured in the previous book, there were some new ones that gave me a slight hint of what was to come.

Firstborn isn’t exactly what you might call Christian historical fiction, although it is written by a Christian author who has written historical fiction. But it does take a look at how people can define themselves as good when others see them as bad, and how a desire for justice can be twisted into revenge. It explores the desire for life: do you live for yourself or are you willing to die for the safety of others? Are you willing to kill for something that might’ve happened 400 years ago?

I loved Firstborn. I didn’t want to put it down. Part way through, I had a thought as to the identity of the Historian. It seemed crazy and I’ve been wrong before, but it turned out I was actually right. Still, the reveal came with another twist. And, just when I thought there are no more shoes left to drop, Tosca Lee dropped another bombshell and it wasn’t the last. In fact, I came away believing there might be one or two not so loose ends that hadn’t been tied up, and thinking, “What if… the story isn’t quite over?”

Thank you to Howard Books for my complimentary copy of Firstborn, which I received in exchange for my honest review.

Have you read Firstborn? Do you plan to read it? Let me know your thoughts.

Excerpt

Publisher: Howard Books (an imprint of Simon & Schuster)

Publication Date: 02 May 2017

Page Count: 336

Read more on:   Tosca Lee’s Website   Kregel’s Website

Purchase on:   Amazon   Barnes & Noble   Books-a-million   Christianbook.com

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Without Warning, by Joel C. Rosenberg

book coverPublisher’s Overview:

As he prepares to deliver the State of the Union address, the president of the United States is convinced the Islamic State is on the run, about to be crushed by American forces once and for all. But New York Times foreign correspondent J. B. Collins tells the president he’s dead wrong. With the Middle East on fire, the Israeli prime minister dead, and Amman in ruins, Collins fears a catastrophic attack inside the American homeland is imminent. He argues that only an all-out manhunt to capture or kill Abu Kahlif—the leader of ISIS—can stop the attack and save American lives. But will the president listen and take decisive action before it’s too late?

First Thoughts:

I’ve enjoyed every previous novel I’ve read by Rosenberg. Although I mostly review historical fiction now, requesting to review Without Warning was a no-brainer for me!

My Take:

ISIS is constantly in our headlines. Barely a day goes by when we don’t hear of more attacks by them (including one on the day I’m writing this review) or of more sympathizers and supporters being taken into custody. They have one aim: to create an Islamic State of their specifications. Whoever doesn’t agree with their ideal is their enemy. The J.B. Collins series, of which this is the final book, focuses on the hunt for their leader.

Joel C. Rosenberg has created a very real “what if.” Many of Collins’ opinions on ISIS and political correctness are possibly Rosenberg’s own, and they’re ones I’ve heard many times. Haven’t we heard former leaders state that Islamic State is on the run? Didn’t we hear our previous government refuse to use the term “Islamic terrorism” because of the slight possibility of causing offense? The president in Rosenberg’s narrative could very well be our country’s previous president.

I don’t think it’s a spoiler to say that the U.S. Capitol building is attacked early on in the book. (It’s mentioned on the hardcover’s flyleaf.) It isn’t the first time an author has taken out the Capitol in a terrorist attack either: Tom Clancy did it back in the mid-1990s and the Kiefer Sutherland vehicle Designated Survivor uses a similar plot device. Once the attack starts, the novel flies at a frenetic pace. The hits keep coming, some out of left field, and some of them are personal. The intensity level lowers for a time midway through, but the plot never stops moving. The ending is a stunner, but don’t cheat yourself by reading it out of order.

I stayed up late to finish Without Warning, and I don’t regret it! It’s a definite five star read. I do suggest, however, that you read the J.B. Collins books in the order in which they’re published. This isn’t a book you can read out of context. The First Hostage starts at the moment The Third Target ends, and Without Warning starts two months after the final events of The First Hostage. Each book builds upon the other not just in terms of the plot but also in character development. The J.B. of Without Warning is not the man we first meet in The Third Target. But if you love political thrillers, then I can definitely recommend this series.

Thank you to the Tyndale Blog Network for my complimentary copy of Without Warning, which I received in exchange for my honest review.

Have you read Without Warning? Do you plan to read it? Let me know your thoughts.

Excerpt

Publisher: Tyndale House Publishers

Publication Date: 14 March 2017

Page Count: 480

Read more on:   Joel C. Rosenberg’s Website   Tyndale’s Website

Purchase on:   Amazon   Barnes & Noble   Books-a-million   Christianbook.com

Where Two Hearts Meet, by Liz Johnson

book coverPublisher’s Overview:

In her kitchen at Rose’s Red Door Inn, executive chef Caden Holt is calm, collected, and competent. But when her boss asks her to show off their beautiful island to impress a visiting travel writer and save the inn, Caden is forced to face a world much bigger than her kitchen–and a man who makes her wish she was beautiful.

Journalist Adam Jacobs is on a forced sabbatical on Prince Edward Island. He’s also on assignment to uncover a story. Instead he’s falling in love with the island’s red shores and Caden’s sweets.

When Caden discovers Adam isn’t who she thought he was, she realizes that the article he’s writing could do more than ruin the inn’s chances for survival–it might also break her heart.

First Thoughts:

I chose to read this because it’s the second book in the Prince Edward Island Dreams series. I’ve already read book one.

My Take:

Where Two Hearts Meet is the story of a self-doubting woman who never believes she’s good enough and a man overwhelmed by guilt after witnessing death at close hand. Readers first met Caden in the first book of the Prince Edward Island Dreams series, when she uncertainly asked the main character to be a taste tester for her. The two women became friends and Caden now works behind the scenes to ensure her friend’s business serves up food to remember. But all could be for naught if the money runs out, and only a glowing review from an anonymous travel writer. She and her boss both believe Adam is that writer, but Adam is a journalist with PTSD after being imbedded with the military in Afghanistan.

This novel is primarily a contemporary romance and there’s little in the way of suspense or drama. Caden’s biggest problem, besides the inn’s financial status, is the reappearance of a former classmate who’s now a big name chef in Toronto. Insecure Caden feels there is absolutely no way she can compete with the woman and it does seem the townsfolk reinforce that at times. One line in particular stood out to me: “They were quick to accept her gifts. And just as quick to forget who gave them.” And I suddenly thought, “We do that with God.” I also have to mention minor character, Levi, who plays a major part of Adam’s story. His history is a poignant one.

It does help to have read the first book in the series, The Red Door Inn. Not only does it give backstory to the inn’s development, it also aids the reader in understanding why it’s under threat. Another book is due to be published next summer, and an excerpt is included. I’ll hopefully read it soon after it’s released.

Thank you to Revell for my complimentary copy of Where Two Hearts Meet, which I received in exchange for my honest review.

Have you read Where Two Hearts Meet? Do you plan to read it? Let me know your thoughts.

Excerpt

Publisher: Revell (a division of Baker Publishing Group)

Publication Date: 18 October 2016

Page Count: 384

Read more on:   Liz Johnson’s Website   Revell’s Website

Purchase on:   Amazon   Barnes & Noble   Books-a-million   Christianbook.com