Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Ember Falls - A Fabulous Book

***** (5 stars out of 5)

I was greatly blessed by God and the author with a complimentary copy of this book. I wanted to buy a copy of the book in hardback but I could not afford it right now. I sent a message to the author on his Facebook page. I told him that if he could send me a copy of his book I would share my review everywhere I could. I would have done the same if I had bought the book, I like it so much. He graciously sent me a copy. Not only a copy but a hardback copy. Not only a hardback copy but a signed hardback copy.

I love this series so much. I share my love of this series with everyone I can. I had the manager of my library order copies of all three of the books in this series for the library.

A wonderful book. Great. Better than the first book in the series, and the prequel. Loved it.

One of my favorite quotes in the book. Something we should all practice.
Do the next right thing.” (pg 22)

The plot of the book (and a quote) - “A resistance to unite. An impossible foe to conquer. A kingdom to win.” (pg 14)

The characters – memorable, well developed, superb. You love the “good guys” … battling, doing their duty and more, fighting the bad guys, rescuing friends and relatives, healing the sick and injured, and doing the next right thing.

...and despise the “bad guys.”
    “From behind the immovable guard, Kyle appeared, Heather's inside churned. Here he was, this handsome, charming, disarming scoundrel.”
    “What's in the past, Kyle, and what we can't forget, Princeling,” Heather said, “is our friendship destroyed, our friends murdered, and our future king betrayed.” pg 111

I did not trust Kyle or his father, but the author writes well and I was lured into a tentative hope... I won't give you any details to ruin the story. Do they follow through and redeem themselves or return to their old scroundreling ways?? You will have to read for yourself and find out.

Kyle says...
    “In Terralain, all rabbits are free, and all are equal. All kings and queens–if only they will grab it.” (pg 115)

That is nonsense. On earth there are always rich and poor. Powerful and powerless. Oppressed and Oppressor. And some take advantage of others and their belief that people can change. Even in heaven, where all humans will be equal, there will be God and his Son to honor and glorify for all our days. They are liars, or socialists, and socialism does not work... I think they are just liars and scoundrels.

Oh my, the other things that happen in this book that I wish I could tell you. Things I was not expecting. Many surprising turns of events. 

And... just so you know... this book does not end the story... and I am glad. There will be a book 3 for the series, or more... we shall have to wait and see.

Thank you S.D. Smith. Thank you so much. For the gift of this signed hardback book and for the gift of your writing in all three of your books. I enjoy them so much I want to be one of the herd.

You can get the book (in popular paperback, haughty hard cover, or electric..uh, eBook) at Amazon, of course.

Or, you can get book (in all those forms + audiobook) at S.D. Smith's he has SWORDS and NECKLACES and SHIRTS for sale and some rad combos.

I wish I had more money. I would love some Ember memorabilia. 

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Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Flash Point - a phychological thriller and a page turner

 Description of Book from Publisher

What If the Limits of Time and Space Were Breached? 

Junior financial analyst Lena Fennan loves managing risk and making money. Yet when she gets a mysterious invitation to take a leap into the unknown, she does not hesitate. Soon a series of events takes her to the brink of destruction. But Lena refuses to give in, entranced by glimpses of a future that redefine everything.

Reese Clawson emerges from prison gripped by the slow burn of revenge. She will track everyone who hand a hand in destroying her--and take them out. First on the list is Charlie Hazard.

As time and space become jumbled, Lena and Reese are pulled into a collision course that could alter the parameters of human consciousness.

 My Review:

I gave this book ***** 5 stars.

As I stated in my first review of the books from this series, Fault Lines, this book in not in my usual wheelhouse of books I would choose for reading. I don't usually like physiological thrillers, but I give these a chance because they are by a favorite author. I liked this one more than the first one, and got interested faster, because I already knew some of the characters from the last book. That made it a lot less confusing than the last one, also.

You definitely get into the book and root for the “good guys” to win the battle over evil and the ones on the side of evil. The characters make the science in the book manageable. The characters and their stories, even the minor characters are wonderful. The good guys that is. The bad guys you just love to hate. The characters are fully developed and they could be friends of mine. You really get to know and care about each of the guys on the good side, root for them, and are concerned when evil surrounds them and tries to hurt them.

The premise of making the last living days of someone with terminal illness painless and happy are interesting and hopeful. Helping them to ascend to see the afterlife helps them not fear death. I have that already, due to my personal relationship with my Lord and Savior. I don't need to see heaven to believe it is there waiting for me. Using the dying patients own brain to render them pain free, without drugs or side effects, would be wonderful; if it was truly scientifically possible.

Using the same ascending technology to spy on companies and undermine them and control the world is definitely something I could see happening. Technology created and meant for good is often twisted and used for evil by others. It is the heart of the person using the technology and their motives that matter. The technology is not at fault, it is just a thing.

The struggle of good vs. evil is something we all face every day. Not in so dramatic a way as the characters in this book, but we do. I battle my own sin and my desire for personal gain and recognition. I try to follow God, humble myself, be kind to others and let God lift me up when and if and in what ways he sees fit. But, my flesh battles against that and sometimes wants to be mean to someone and desires retribution (instead of letting God battle for me), and my pride wants recognition for jobs I feel are well done.

I finished the book with two questions. Will there be a third book in the series? Locke seems to have made it apparent that there will be, due to the way the book ended. AND... Who or what are the monsters from the “other world?” Are they supposed to represent anything we would know? Like demons? Or are they just fantasy? They are definitely evil, that is for sure. They were creepy and scary.

The book is definitely a page turner and the characters and plot drive you to keep reading. You must see how it ends and if the good guys win out.

Thomas Locke is an award-winning novelist with total worldwide sales of seven million copies.
His work has been published in twenty languages, and critical acclaim includes four Christy Awards for excellence in fiction and his 2014 induction into the Christy Hall of Fame.

Thomas divides his time between Florida and England, where he serves as Writer In Residence at Regent’s Park College at The University of Oxford. Visit Thomas at

Thomas’s other online outposts:
Subscribe to Thomas’s blog via your feed reader:
Subscribe to Thomas’s blog and e-newsletter via email:

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Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Inspiring Book - Grandma Gatewood's Walk

Wow. I read this book in less than a week. I really liked it. It surprised me how much I liked it.

It is a wonderful book that I read for a book club/challenge my library is running. A community read event promoted by Longwood Gardens. I have 20 sticky flags in the book marking favorite spots.

Grandma Gatewood has had a rough life and is now 67 and ready to set out to walk the whole Appalachian Trail... 2.050 miles. Months of walking. And, she took very little with her. And did it alone.

It is inspiring me to get off my butt and get walking. If a 67-year-old great grandmother can walk the whole Appalachian Trail then I should be able to walk a couple mile walk with my husband at the park, walk to work (under 1 1/2 miles), or work out on the Wii Fit and Bowflex. I am lazy. I will start today. Here is a quote from the book that I liked.

"...unless we be strong as steel, our lazy and baser natures yield to the temptation of time-saving when a ride is offered us..." (pg 52-53)

I need to walk more. Get out in nature more. I have become to sedentary, lazy and shut in, in the house or at work. I need the exercise... and the time to commune with God... and the vitamin D... and a bunch of other things walking outdoors would bring me.

"Just walking the trail for pleasure
For the love of out of doors,
For the lovely works our Maker
Displays on forest floors."
(pg 208)

"If you'll go with me to the mountains
And sleep on the leaf carpeted floors
And enjoy the bigness of nature
And the beauty of all out-of-doors,
You'll find your troubles all fading
And feel the Creator was not man
That made lovely mountains and forests
Which only a Supreme Power can.

When we trust in the Power above
And with the realm of nature hold fast,
We will have a jewel of great price
To brighten our lives till the last.
For the love of nature is healing,
If we will only give it a try
And our reward will be forthcoming
If we go deeper than what meets the eye."
(pg 216-217)

She was plucky and I want to be like her when I am 67 so I better get started now... I will be 55 this year and have a lot of exercising to do before I could be anywhere near where she was at 67.

"They said I was too old when I tried to get a job," she told a local reporter. "Why, I've done more since I was 'too old' than most young women." ( pg 241)

This woman, this book, was inspiring. I don't have any mountains near me...I live just feet from a 4 lane road....I don't know if I will ever walk any of the Appalachian Trail... but I am going to start where I am today and do better.

Check out this book. It will inspire you too!!

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Wednesday, March 2, 2016

The Fragment - A Wonderous Book

Note: I received a complimentary copy of this book from Franciscan Media in exchange for my honest review. The review is my own and I was not influenced by the fact that I received the book for free.

Publisher's Description of the book...

It’s 1923, and a resilient Paris is starting to recover from the ravages of World War I and the Spanish Flu epidemic. 
Enter Muriel Ross, an amateur photographer tasked with documenting the antiques that her employer, U.S. Senator Tom Bryan, has traveled to France to acquire.

Although she’s exhilarated to have escaped her parents and the confines of their stifling Virginia home, Muriel has lingering questions about why the senator has chosen her for this grand adventure. Nevertheless, she blossoms in her new surroundings, soaking up Parisian culture and capturing the sights and sounds of Paris on her camera.

But events take a dangerous turn when she discovers that the senator is on a mission far more momentous—and potentially deadly—than a mere shopping trip.

At the Cathedral of Notre Dame, Senator Bryan asks Muriel to photograph an astonishing artifact: a piece of the True Cross, discovered by Empress Helena—a historical figure familiar to readers of The Pilgrim.

When rumors surface that another fragment has been unearthed, Muriel becomes enmeshed in a covert international alliance dedicated to authenticating the fragment—and protecting it from those who will stop at nothing to steal and discredit it.

The Fragment releases February 19, 2016, from Franciscan Media Books.

Hardcover, Paperback and eBook: 176 pages
Publisher: Franciscan Media
Publication Date: February 19, 2016

My Review

A Wondrous book...Deep...Mysterious...Intense...Fantastic.

I give this book 5 of 5 stars.

I really got in to this book. It kept my attention and demanded that I keep reading... and so I did. Finishing in less than a week.

The characters are outstanding, as usual in a Davis Bunn book. Endearing and talented Muriel. The powerful but kindhearted Senator Bryant. Scarred (in more than one way) and mannerly Charles. A myriad of other secondary characters: upstanding ones, sinister people, virtuous citizenry, villainous enemies and everyday folk.

A quest. The search for a religious artifact. A fragment of the True Cross.

Muriel has just the qualifications Senator Bryan needs. She is a Christian. She is a gifted photographer. She has studied History and antiquities. But she doubts her own talent and worries that others think more highly of her than they ought. She feels out of place. Then she helps to create an opportunity to photograph, up close, an authenticated fragment of the True Cross in the Cathedral of Notre Dame. The fragment is kept in a reliquary in the shape of a cross.

     “The wood was brownish red.... She knew it was most likely a patina of blood that concealed the grain.
     Muriel felt the emotions well up in her like great waves, crashing upon her heart, sending her to her knees. Even then she could not take her eyes off the small sliver of wood. She had lived with her faith her entire life. She was child of the church. And yet it seemed to her as though she never experienced her Savior's gift I such a way as now.” (pg 45)

The quest is just beginning. They must travel to Constantinople. A place of unrest. They hope to find another reliquary. Muriel hopes to find answers for her future.

Growth. Challenges. Other people's lives on the line. A choice only she can make. These are the things ahead of Muriel.

What about Senator Byran. What is his aspiration?

     "That has been my lifelong dream, sir. To bring a fragment and plant it in our land, where it may take root and grow a family of God." (pg 148)

That is what the senator wants. Will he fulfill this desire? Will they succeed?? Read the book and find out!

These are the things that kept me reading. They will keep you reading also. I highly recommend this book.

Davis Bunn, author of THE FRAGMENTAbout Davis Bunn

Davis Bunn is an award-winning novelist with total worldwide sales of seven million copies. 

 His work has been published in twenty languages, and critical acclaim includes four Christy Awards for excellence in fiction and his 2014 induction into the Christy Hall of Fame.

Davis divides his time between Florida and England, where he serves as Writer In Residence at Regent’s Park College at The University of Oxford. Visit Davis at

Davis’s other online outposts:
Download a free list of Davis Bunn’s published novels:
Subscribe to Davis’s e-newsletter: Send a blank email to
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Monday, February 22, 2016

Merchant of Alyss Book Review

Note: This book was given to me Free in order for me to review it. Regardless of that my review is my own, my feelings about it are true, and they are not influenced by the fact that I got the book for free.

Hardcover, Paperback and ebook: 368 pages
Publisher: Revell
Publication Date: January 5, 2016

Merchant of Alyss is Book 2 in the best-selling Legends of the Realm fantasy series. Book 1 is Emissary.










Plot Synopsis

Life for Hyam is bittersweet. Admired by the citizens of Falmouth for his heroic rescue mission, he cherishes these peaceful days with Joelle by his side. Yet grief over the loss of his magical skills during the great Battle of Emporis threatens to engulf him. Sometimes he even wishes he had never known magic at all.

When Hyam comes into possession of an ancient Milantian scroll, he is thrilled to feel the surge of power that courses through him whenever he touches it. But what he discerns in the text could mean war. He embarks upon another journey to determine its true meaning and forestall any attack. But as Hyam is seeking answers, he is unaware that the merchant of Alyss is seeking him…

My Review

Wow. This series is interesting. It is also way out of my “wheelhouse” as far as my usual reading choices. It took me longer to read than I would have liked. I think it is because of my own laziness. When I would read I would read in large chunks, getting very involved and interested in the book. It really is good, just not my usual reading choice.

Hyam and company... The characters are fully developed and I felt like I was one of the company, traveling around with them; on their quest; through good times and bad, times of strength and weakness... and the story is not over yet. There are still many things to conquer.

Good guys: Mages (like wizards), warriors, kings and queens, ghost soldiers, dragons,  elves and everyday good guys. Bad guys: witches, warriors, evil leaders and more. Good vs. Evil. A classic foundation for a book. It really draws you in. You really root for the good guys and hope the bad guys get what is coming to them. Also, good vs. evil is a reality of life and so a book like this can give us hope for our own world. And, we as Christians know that ultimately our Savior and Lord will win out over the bad guys.. it is just hard, sometimes, to continue fighting while we wait for his coming.

In some portions of the book a beautiful setting and a place you would love to live; terrible in other parts. So well described that you can taste the dryness and feel the uncomfortableness of the wearisome journey across the sand and actually see the strange boat as they travel across the water to see the dragon.

My favorite quote from the book... “There are few actions that bring greater satisfaction than knowing the right choice and taking it.” pg 226.

Yes. So true. So many times I ask the Lord what to do. What do I do now? What do I do next? What do I do in this situation that I find myself in?

When, in those rare times I know what I should do, what God wants me to do and I do it; it is with great gratitude and feelings of accomplishment.

I am caught now, if I wasn't before. I want to read the next book and find out what happens to Hyam and Joelle, Shona, Selim, Meda, Fareed, and Alembord. Will Hyam find Joelle's breath and bring her back to full life? Will the good guys win out over the evil in the land? I sure hope so.

I heartily encourage you to read these books.

Free PDF sampler of MERCHANT OF ALYSS – Chapter 1

About Thomas Locke

Thomas Locke, author of Legends of the Realm fantasy seriesThomas Locke is an award-winning novelist with total worldwide sales of seven million copies.
His work has been published in twenty languages, and critical acclaim includes four Christy Awards for excellence in fiction and his 2014 induction into the Christy Hall of Fame.
Thomas divides his time between Florida and England, where he serves as Writer In Residence at Regent’s Park College at The University of Oxford. Visit Thomas at


Q and A With Thomas Locke

Emissary and Merchant CoversQ: Why did you write MERCHANT OF ALYSS?

A: Thomas Locke: I began work on MERCHANT OF ALYSS before EMISSARY (book 1 in the series) had been accepted for publication. I had no idea anyone would accept these stories, since they were so utterly different from what I had been writing up to that point. But I was so captivated by the concepts and the emotions that I had to write it.

Q: What was your favorite scene to write?

A: Thomas Locke: My wife was speaking at a conference in San Francisco, and I had come along to play spouse. I rented a bike and was cycling around the city when I was struck by the image of a guard standing on the parapet in a fierce winter storm, watching a new crimson mage. Who then turns away from the city, walks down to the magic grove protecting Hyam’s home, and attacks.
By the time we returned home, I had the first quarter of MERCHANT OF ALYSS mapped out.

Q: There is the element of magic to the story. What do you hope readers take away from the “Magic” element in the story?

A: Thomas Locke: The issue of using magic was something I grappled with for some time. I found immense guidance from the works of C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien.

Four thousand years ago, when the concept of “epic” fiction originated, there was a specific purpose behind stories where magic and mythical beasts played major roles. The Greeks sought to create worlds that were bigger than life, with challenges and obstacles that were completely and utterly beyond the reach of mortal man.

The authors sought to portray through story that a normal human being can grow beyond the impossible challenges of life. They wanted to show normal people, with flaws and weaknesses as great as those we all carry today, can in fact rise up. They can triumph

That is what I seek to do with the Legends of the Realm series. I want to return to the original aims of fantasy fiction. I want to re-insert the concept of heroic struggle, and challenges greater than life, and triumphs over evil and darkness.

Q: For what audience did you write this novel?

A: Thomas Locke: Increasingly, the younger generations within the faith community are moving away from the mind-set of their parents. I am not suggesting that they are abandoning their faith. What I mean is, they are abandoning their parents’ concept of church.

Many younger believers are trending towards a faith that dwells inside the larger mainstream world. Their lives no longer center upon a church so large it contains its own sense of community. They worship in home churches, or smaller centers focused on outreach. They accept a multi-cultural and multi-racial lifestyle, and seek a church that reflects this.

And their entertainment is being drawn from this wider arena.

At the same time, they are not comfortable with much of the darkness that dominates current television and movie trends. With this Thomas Locke brand, I seek to join a small but growing number of believers who are doing this with books and film.

The preliminary response, both from within the younger generations in our faith community, and from the mainstream, has been more than wonderful. It has been a gift.

Q: What question about MERCHANT OF ALYSS do you wish someone would ask?

A: Thomas Locke: For MERCHANT, I wish someone would ask, “How did you develop such a sense of natural flow out of a realm that doesn’t exist? How did you manage to structure a fantasy where the logic and surprise fit together powerfully?”

I feel this is a crucial element of both EMISSARY and MERCHANT. And with these two books, the answer is extremely different.

With EMISSARY, it came together as naturally as breathing. This happens sometimes. I wish it happened more often, but that is really in God’s hands.

With MERCHANT OF ALYSS, it was the exact opposite. I burned with this story. I had to write it. The passion and the joy were immense. But it was still such a struggle. And the first draft reflected this.

So I completed the work. Then I set it aside. Six weeks later I did a full-bore redraft. Then I set it aside again.

Six weeks later I did another total redraft. Then I sent it to the editors, who said, “Don’t change a thing.”

Then I did the entire process a third time. It went into line edits. And I did it a fourth and final time.

A lot, lot, lot of work to make it as smooth and simple as EMISSARY was at first draft.

Q: Where can we learn more about you and your books?

A: Thomas Locke: You’ll find me at these online outlets:
Subscribe to Thomas’s e-newsletter and blog:
Receive Thomas’s latest blog posts via your feed reader:

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