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

The Progeny, by Tosca Lee

book coverPublisher’s Overview:

Emily Porter is the descendant of a serial killer. Now, she’s become the hunted.

She’s on a quest that will take her to the secret underground of Europe and the inner circles of three ancient orders—one determined to kill her, one devoted to keeping her alive, and one she must ultimately save.

Filled with adrenaline, romance, and reversals, The Progeny is the present-day saga of a 400-year-old war between the uncanny descendants of “Blood Countess” Elizabeth Bathory, the most prolific female serial killer of all time, and a secret society dedicated to erasing every one of her descendants. A story about the search for self amidst centuries-old intrigues and Europe’s underground scene…and one woman’s mission to survive.

My Take:

The Progeny is a novel that pulled me in immediately, from its short prologue set in a mysterious location known as The Center to the small Maine cabin where Emily is recuperating from life-changing surgery. It’s a beginning that leaves the reader with plenty of questions and no immediate answers and it isn’t long before Emily discovers her life is in danger. From then on, the non-stop action moves from the USA to beautifully described locations in Eastern Europe.  We experience everything that happens through the lead character’s eyes, which means we know only what she knows. Who can she trust? What is it that she must find to keep her life and save the lives of those around her?

The premise of The Progeny doesn’t make it sound like a Christian novel but I was intrigued enough by it to not dismiss this book out of hand. Plus, Tosca Lee has written some great Biblically-based reads in the past. It doesn’t read like an obviously Christian book, and there are some distinctly non-Christian things that take place within its pages by non-Christian characters. It even reminded me, at times, like Interview with a Vampire. But there are visits to churches, observations of religious symbolism, and philosophical discussions about the nature of God. The day after I finished reading The Progeny, I thought about it some more and could see parts of the Gospel reflected in it. I’d love to say more about that, but I’d have to include some major spoilers.

This is the first in a series called Descendants of the House of Bathory. The second book will be out next year. I found it to be a total page turner and the information revealed on the last page left me wanting more. If you like edgy, alternative Christian fiction that’s part supernatural and part thriller then I suspect you’ll probably enjoy The Progeny as much as I did.

Thank you to Howard Books for my complimentary Advanced Uncorrected Proof of The Progeny, which I received in exchange for my honest review.

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

Excerpt

Publisher: Howard Books (a division of Simon & Schuster)

Publication Date: 24 May 2016

Page Count: 336

Read more on:   Tosca Lee’s Website   Howard Books’ Website

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