Tag Archives: clean reads

Review: A Sticky Inheritance, by Emily James

A Sticky Inheritance, by Emily James Maple Syrup Mysteries book 1A Sticky Inheritance, by Emily James (Stronghold Books, 2016)

When Nicole Fitzhenry-Dawes’ beloved uncle dies, she travels to a small, tourist town in Northern Michigan to handle the funeral arrangements.

Uncle Stan disgraced himself in her family by leaving a lucrative medical career for an obscure maple syrup farm, and now he’s left the farm to her. For all her doubts about being a lawyer, she’s not sure this would be better. Plus, her parents would never forgive her.

More important in the short term is proving that Uncle Stan did not commit suicide, as originally thought, and finding his killer.

Along the way, Nicole gets herself into some amusingly awkward situations and begins to make what could be some good friends – if she lives and decides to stay.

Nicole has some fun quirks, like the novelty socks she wears despite her upscale lawyer image, and her occasional references to geek culture. I was happy to recognize a nod to the movie, “The Princess Bride,” as well as a classic Star Wars reference. Readers who don’t get those comments won’t miss any of the story.

This isn’t a Christian novel, but it’s a clean mainstream read, and I am highly enjoying this series. So far, each book includes a recipe involving maple syrup.

Favourite line:

It was strange watching twins arguing, like seeing a person fight with their reflection in a mirror. [Kindle location 319]

To find out more about author Emily James and the Maple Syrup Mysteries, or to sign up for your free ebook copy of the prequel, Sapped, visit authoremilyjames.com.

[Review copy from my personal library.]

Review: Sapped, by Emily James

Sapped, by Emily JamesSapped, by Emily James (Stronghold Books, 2016)

The worst way to find out that your boyfriend is already married is to see it on the news. The only way it could be worse than that is if his wife died under suspicious circumstances. [From the book description on Goodreads.]

And that’s how things start for the heroine in Sapped.

Nicole Fitzhenry-Dawes is the daughter of two over-achieving lawyers. She’s a lawyer herself, and although her people skills are an asset to her parents’ firm, she knows she’ll never live up to their expectations.

Now this happens, and she’s desperate to help prove her suddenly ex-boyfriend innocent. Even when her father orders her off the case.

Sapped is a prequel to the Maple Syrup Mysteries series, available as a free ebook for signing up for the author’s newsletter, or in print through Amazon.

It’s an engaging mystery, fast-paced and with a snappy delivery. Nicole’s self-doubts in a world of confident people make her very relatable, as does her desire to uncover the truth. She’s smart, spunky, and has a lot more going for her than she realizes.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book, and immediately dove into the next in the series, A Sticky Inheritance, in which we see the significance of the “Maple Syrup Mysteries” title for the series. This isn’t a Christian series, but it’s a good, clean read.

There’s more than one author named Emily James. To find out more about the one behind the Maple Syrup Mysteries, and for more about her books or to sign up for your free ebook copy of Sapped, visit authoremilyjames.com.

[Review copy from my personal library.]

Review: Recruits, by Thomas Locke

Recruits, by Thomas LockeRecruits, by Thomas Locke (Revell, 2017)

Seventeen-year-old twins Dillon and Sean have never had a happy home life, but for the past ten years they’ve been imagining this amazing, gravity-defying train station that couldn’t exist on Earth.

Now they discover it’s real – and on another planet. One they can create a portal and step onto.

They may be the first gifted humans found on Earth, and an ex-military human from still another planet is assigned to train them. He, at least, sees their potential. Unlike the Examiner, who’s waiting for a chance to fail them and wipe their memories.

The twins face unexpected danger, and the authorities don’t believe their version of events. Suddenly it’s Dillon and Sean against the adults (with a few exceptions), racing against time to save an innocent man and possibly stop an invasion.

Recruits is a fast-paced, entertaining read that should appeal not only to young adult males but to anyone who enjoys a good, clean adventure. Written by a Christian author, the book doesn’t have a spiritual thread that I saw, and I consider it a mainstream novel.

Favourite lines:

…they probably saw the scar at the same moment, because Dillon dragged in the breath Sean had trouble finding. [page 13]

Baran’s voice was delicate, like he wanted to speak without actually disturbing the air. [page 305]

Thomas Locke is the pseudonym of well-known writer Davis Bunn. The Thomas Locke books are fantasy, science fiction and techno-thrillers, and for more about them and the author, visit tlocke.com.

[Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc. Available at your favourite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.]

Review: Trial Run, by Thomas Locke

Trial Run, by Thomas LockeTrial Run, by Thomas Locke (Revell, 2015)

With Trial Run, Thomas Locke delivers an international techno-thriller set just beyond our current technology. Gabriella Speciale’s research team has fled danger in the US and set up a secret base in Switzerland, where their experiments with out-of-body consciousness have resulted in an unexpected casualty.

In the US, a shadow group within the government wants to replicate their work for the purposes of espionage.

The third key players are two California university students, Trent Major and a girl named Shane Schearer. The information Trent receives in dreams from an older version of himself puts them in the shadow group’s sights.

This is one of those novels you start reading without a clue about what’s going on. In the hands of a skilled writer like Thomas Locke, it makes for a good ride. (If you want an easier entry, read his free ebook novella, Double Edge, which introduces Gabriella and Charlie Hazard and explains the experiments.)

Trial Run is book one in the Fault Lines series, and I suspect questions that aren’t answered yet will be resolved in future books. (For example, does Trent really see a future version of himself, or who is it really? And how does future-Trent do this?)

The writing is tight and evocative. Some of my favourite lines:

He felt it too. Like the dark had grown claws that scraped the skin off his spine. [page 9]

It was a warrior’s grin. A drawing back of every facial muscle, exposing the raw power of a man who knew the business of death. [page 278]

Part of the plot involves quantum theory, which is presented in small, layperson-level instalments. I didn’t get it, but apparently most people don’t, and it didn’t affect my enjoyment of the story. Two minor things that did act as speed bumps: the use of “lay/laying” instead of “lie/lying” (I work so hard to get this right, myself) and the expression “Indian territory” for dangerous territory.

Revell is a Christian publisher, but Trial Run is a clean mainstream novel. If you’re looking for a faith thread, the closest you’ll get is one character’s unexplained compulsion to forgive select people. If you just want a fun read, this is it.

Thomas Locke is the pen name of well-known Christian author Davis Bunn. Under the Locke name, he’s writing this sort of near-future suspense as well as epic fantasy. I’ve reviewed his fantasy novel, Emissary, here. For more about Thomas Locke’s books or to sign up for his newsletter, visit tlocke.com.

[Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc. Available at your favourite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.]