Book Review Owen by Tony Riches

Owen (Tudor Trilogy, #1)Owen by Tony Riches
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The legacy of King Henry VIII has always fascinated me, but I knew very little about the earlier accounts of the Tudor dynasty. Thus, I selected Owen: Book One of the Tudor Trilogy by Tony Riches to learn more about how the Tudor Dynasty was established. The story of Owen, the great-grandfather of Henry VIII, is as fascinating as the tales about the legendary king. Told in the first-person perspective of Owen, the story begins in 1422 when he first meets his new mistress, Queen Catherine of Valois, the young widow of King Henry V. The queen’s young son, Harry (Henry VI), is crowned King of England and France. Nobles responsible for the young king’s upbringing tightly control the queen’s life and her influence on her son. Owen, serving as the Keeper of the Wardrobe, loyally serves and befriends Queen Catherine and gains her trust. Rumors of Catherine’s affair with the 2nd Duke of Somerset prompts a parliamentary statute that forbids her to remarry until her son comes of age. Soon after, Catherine and Owen fall in love and secretly marry in the backdrop of political turmoil that ultimately leads to the War of Roses.

Author Tony Riches has masterfully written a poignant love story narrated by Owen in the present tense. The moment-by-moment narrative helps the reader more actively engage with Owen’s life journey. The story is rich with vivid descriptions and natural dialogue that highlights Owen’s wit and cleverness. Although his childhood has been shattered by the loss of his Welsh noble parents and heritage, Owen becomes the unlikely second husband to Queen Catherine and the father of her children. Their secret love and marriage have tragic consequences in the backdrop of the War of Roses. Yet Owen’s firstborn son, Edmund, ultimately becomes the father of King Henry VII, the first monarch in the Tudor Dynasty.

Owen: Book One of the Tudor Trilogy is one of the best historical fiction novels I’ve read this year. I highly recommend this book to historical fiction readers, particularly those interested in the Tudor Dynasty.

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Review The Insurmountable Edge by Thomas Goodfellow

The Insurmountable Edge: Book OneThe Insurmountable Edge: Book One by Thomas Goodfellow
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The U.S. is on the brink of a deadly war with China in the debut international thriller, “Insurmountable Edge: Book One” by Thomas H. Goodfellow. The only person who can counter the threat is the steel-edged General Jack Wilder. His execution of some of the deadliest missions on behalf of the US in the elite special forces has forged him into a deadly weapon which enemies will have to reckon with. Jack Wilder is similar to Jack Reacher created by Lee Child, but he has his own unique foibles.

The story starts out in a horrific scene where two children are forced to dig their own graves before they are stoned to death. General Jack Wilder then takes over as the narrator. Retired and living at his plush Californian ranch, he cares for his hellbent seventeen-year-old ward, Adelaide, and his army buddy, Jeff, suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PSTD). Ironically, Wilder’s unresolved issues with PSTD makes him prone to hallucinations.

A striking physician, Kate, seeks Wilder’s help in solving a series of murders with international security implications at a company she oversees. Meanwhile, war is ready to break out in the Middle East with China that will have an “insurmountable edge“ in the conflict. Tasked with investigating the insurmountable edge, Jack Wilder’s mission twists with unexpected turns as murders pile up and he is sometimes off edge talking with imaginary people and animals—possibly clues to political machinations behind the scenes. The book does not end with a classical cliffhanger but continues in what will be a three-book series that should connect the murders and international conflict.

Author Goodfellow has written an action-packed thriller filled with unique, memorable characters and vivid descriptions. The interactions between the characters and the smart, crisp dialogue work hand-in-hand with action scenes and unexpected twists to drive the story forward. Even though Wilder struggles with his own internal turmoil, he is an engaging character with a hint of chivalry toward Kate. But make no mistake, he is more than capable of maximum damage against his enemies.

“The Insurmountable Edge,” is an exciting start to a three-book series that spins a complex web of international intrigue and unforeseen enemies that promise to be the ultimate match for Jack Wilder. Highly recommended for fans of complex international thrillers with a hero you can root for.

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Book Review ‘Til Death Do Us Part” by Jan Sikes

'Til Death Do Us Part‘Til Death Do Us Part by Jan Sikes
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

“Til Death do us Part,” by Jan Sikes is a heartfelt story based on the author’s life and her soul mate and husband during their later years together. This is the last book in the series spanning their lifetimes together. The forward gives an overview of the previous books which I had not read but helped to orient me on what happened beforehand. Thus, I could read this final book as a stand-alone novel.

The story follows the story of Luke and Darlina Stone in the last decade of their marriage after they’ve already overcome many hardships since he was released from jail . Although Luke Stone has significant health problems, he’s given another chance to rediscover his passion for country music after being interviewed by a magazine. Again inspired to write music and to perform, he introduces and shares his passion with Darlina. Both he and she write music and perform together as his health declines over the years. Luke grasps each moment of happiness and adapts to his health challenges by focusing on his creative energy with his wife at his side. This is an inspirational love story of two people who are devoted to each other and find meaning in every aspect of their lives. The quote that resonates in my mind at the end is: “When I pass from this life you’ll hear two sounds. You’ll hear a train whistle blowing and you’ll hear an owl hooting.”

Jan Sikes has written a story that touches the human spirit. Although some creative liberties have been taken, the novel is based on the author’s real events which you can easily relate to. It is a story about not giving up but following your dreams and remaining true to those you love. It struck every emotional chord as I read it because it spoke to the heart.

I highly recommend this book to readers who love poignant, realistic stories that inspire you to live your life to the fullest.

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Book Review Descent of Shadows by Ryanne Glenn

Descent of ShadowsDescent of Shadows by Ryanne Glenn
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Descent of Shadows by Ryanne Glenn is a coming-of-age, YA fantasy about a young teenage girl, Anna, who must leave her childhood behind and accept the overreaching legacy of her parents. The tale begins with a heart-wrenching scene where Anna witnesses the murder of her parents at a festival by human-like shadows, the wraiths. Wounded, she barely escapes with her life and seeks refuge at a sanctuary where an ancient, magical barrier prevents wraiths from entering. On her sojourn there, she meets Alex, another orphan escaping mayhem. Anna deals with her grief with the singular purpose of avenging the deaths of her parents. Despite her youth, she is determined to join the army when she reaches the sanctuary and fight in the war against the wraiths. She catches the eye of General Collins who recognizes her leadership abilities are similar to her legendary parents. He takes her under his wing and mentors her like a father. Anna overcomes the doubts of the regime’s Council that considers her too young to join the army, and she quickly rises through the military ranks. Despite her successes in missions, Anna’s confidence is shaken as she faces the harsh realities of war, the awakening of her latent powers, and the internal strife that is as great as the threat from the wraiths. The climatic ending offers unexpected twists and dramatic changes to Anna, setting the stage for the second book in the trilogy.

Debut author, Ryanne Glenn, has woven deeper themes into a tale which, on the surface, seems straight-forward. The first couple of chapters are rich in sensory details, but then relaxes into a narrative driven by dialogue, magical world-building, and vivid descriptions of training and fighting scenes. However, the harsh realities of war are not glorified and profoundly affect the heroine. Make no mistake, Anna is a strong, female protagonist with whom teenager readers can identify. Beneath her risk-taking bravado, she harbors self-doubt that she must overcome to become an effective leader. Her different approach to leadership and training comes across as rebellious and brash to members on the Council. Her impulses to lash out must be reined-in by General Collins, who nonetheless gives her leeway to lead her regiment consisting of teens about her age. Although this is an action-driven fantasy, there are some subtle pauses when Anna reflects on how she fits into her world and the legacy of her family.

Descent of Shadows should appeal to YA fantasy readers who enjoy reading about strong, female characters and unique world-building. Highly recommended.

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Book Review Next Time I See You by M.J. Bell

Next Time I See YouNext Time I See You by M J Bell
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Next Time I See You by M.J. Bell is a contemporary science fiction, time travel story with elements of romance. It is a story of a young Colorado woman, Kat, whose life is shattered when the love of her life is senselessly killed in a mass murder. After more than a year, Kat has “complicated grief” and is struggling to get her life together. In a deja vous moment, she is strangely attracted to a young man, who she follows to a University of Colorado physics lecture where advances in a time machine are discussed. After that, she becomes obsessed with traveling back in time to stop the mass murderer from killing her boyfriend and the other victims in the heinous crime. When Kate finally finds the way to travel back in time, the suspense heightens. She only has a limited a time to stop the mass murderer. The tale takes unexpected twists and the ending will tug at your emotions.

Author M.J. Bell has masterfully crafted a story that is both suspenseful and poignant. It is obvious the author has done research on the grieving process and the common traits of a mass murderer. The story is told from first person perspective of Kat in the present, but then switches to third person in the past to introduce another character who aids her. The story is relevant to our modern times and shows the perspective of a person who has lost a loved one in the heart-breaking tragedy of a mass murder. It is rare that a book moves me like this one. It is thought-provoking and has a universal message that a person can survive a tragedy and still find love and meaning. It asks the age-old question as to whether events in life are fated or do we have the ability to change what happens to us.

I highly recommend this book to both adults and mature young adults who like the elements of science fiction and romance which are relevant for our times.

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Book Review: The Tattered Box

Book Review: The Tattered Box 

Below is my Goodreads book review: The Tattered Box by Paul Schumacher, a Colorado author.

The Tattered BoxThe Tattered Box by Paul Schumacher
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Tattered Box by Paul Schumacher is a memorable coming of age story of John, a young man coming to grips that his own father left him when he was a young boy. However, his elderly grandfather Bill leaves him a tattered box full of items evoking memories of his past. After John is hit by a baseball and knocked unconscious, he mysteriously time travels to 1941 when he again meets his grandfather as a young man the same age as him. It is as if the past, present, and future join into one time. All of the items in the tattered box are still left intact at the beginning of John’s journey in the past. As he adjusts to the pre-WWII culture, he becomes friends with his grandfather whom he fondly calls Bill and shares the moments that the items in the tattered box represent. By learning more about his grandfather, John learns about himself and the importance that memories have for the future.

This is a beautifully written story that is multi-layered with rich symbolism. One of the more poignant scenes is when John and Bill observe an eagle protecting their helpless eaglets in the nest. John comments, “Their father would teach them everything he knew, then suddenly push them out of the nest, forcing them to flap their wings in one death-defying leap.” This is a pivotal scene that will tie into the heartfelt ending, leaving a visual memory that will forever be embedded in a reader’s mind. I highly recommend this book for the rich message it offers that moments of the past, present, and future co-exist between generations.

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