Monday, March 14, 2016

[Book Review] Stone Of Fire by J.F. Penn

Pentecost (Arkane, #1)Pentecost by J.F. Penn
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Part 1: From The Book Cover

A power kept secret for 2000 years. A woman who stands to lose everything.
** From New York Times and USA Today Bestselling Author J.F. Penn **

India. When a nun is burned alive on the sacred ghats of Varanasi, and the stone she carried is stolen, an international hunt is triggered for the relics of the early church.

Forged in the fire and blood of martyrs, the Pentecost stones have been handed down through generations of Keepers who kept their power and locations secret.
Until now.

The Keepers are being murdered, the stones stolen by those who would use them for evil in a world transformed by religious fundamentalism.

Oxford University psychologist Morgan Sierra is forced into the search when her sister and niece are held hostage. She is helped by Jake Timber from the mysterious ARKANE, a British government agency specializing in paranormal and religious experience. Morgan must risk her own life to save her family, but will she ultimately be betrayed?

From ancient Christian sites in Spain, Italy and Israel to the far reaches of Iran and Tunisia, Morgan and Jake must track down the stones through the myths of the early church in a race against time before a new Pentecost is summoned, this time powered by the fires of evil.

˃˃˃ The first in the ARKANE series, STONE OF FIRE is a fast-paced, action-packed thriller that explores the edges of faith against a backdrop of early Christian history, archaeology and psychology.

Part 2: Recommendation

Stone of Fire was previously published with the title of Pentecost and this is the first fiction book that I read from J.F. Penn.

Stone of Fire is a very well-edited work of fiction, action-packed with like-able characters headed by psychologist, Dr. Morgan Sierra. Sure, she has her flaws and is haunted by her past but they don't make her weak. She is smart, strong and real. As for Jake, and the rest of the ARKANE gang, I'm still trying to make up my mind if I want to trust them or not.

The storyline of Stone of Fire feels very much like Lara Croft meets Dan Brown with bullets flying, traveling to different countries, going into churches to retrieve the Pentecost stones, and one false move could mean death all in a span of a few days on top of dodging this evil group of thugs called Thanatos. I really enjoyed the book as well as J.F. Penn's writing style.

So, if you love action, adventure thrillers revolving around religious mysticism, archeology and psychology, you will most likely enjoy this book. Me, I'm looking forward to reading and collecting all the books in the series.

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Monday, March 7, 2016

[Book Review] Shearwater by D.S. Murphy

Shearwater (Ocean Depths, #1)Shearwater by D.S. Murphy
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Part 1: From The Book Cover

Losing my parents felt like drowning. My mother always tried to steer us away from the sea, but we took a surprise trip when I was five. I remember making a sand castle with a moat around it, and climbing over the rocks with my dad as my mother watched from a blanket nearby. We stuck our fingers in the sea anemones and chased the tiny crabs back into their holes. I was watching the water ebb and flow into the rock formations, gleefully surprised when it burst up suddenly and splashed me with water. But then a larger wave crashed over the rocks and wrapped around me like a giant hand, pulling me into the sea.

It happened so fast, my dad didn't have time to grab me. I went rushing out into the deeper water, the dreadful silence pounding in my ears, my flailing arms cut up by the sharp rocks as I was dragged, terrified, along the bottom.I remember feeling the undertow: overwhelming and inescapable. It pulled me into the deeper waters, the dark vastness, with a force greater than any I'd ever known. Sometimes I would fight to the surface and get a glimpse of the land slipping farther and farther away. I'd take a quick breath, and scream.

I was exhausted from fighting, but just when I was about to give up, my father grabbed my arm and then side-stroked us back to land. He hauled me onto the rocks, and patted my back as I coughed up water.Through my tears and the salt water I saw my mother running towards us. I held up my little arms to her, seeking comfort. Instead, she slapped me hard across the face. Then she grabbed my shoulders, staring at me with wild eyes and saying, "Never go into the sea again, do you hear me? Never."

Now she was gone, and she'd taken my life with her. I was shipped off to live in Ireland with a grandfather I didn't even know existed, and there I learned my whole life had been a lie. My mother's past was filled with tragic secrets... secrets that refused to stay buried. They were reaching up for me like dark shadows. I'm in danger, and I have to figure out who - or what - is after me, before everything I care about is destroyed.

Or maybe I'll show them that I'm the dangerous one.
Maybe they'll learn just how dangerous one girl can be.

Shearwater is a young adult mermaid novel that will appeal to lovers of paranormal romance, urban fantasy, witches, Irish mythology, and supernatural folklore.

This is PART ONE of the first book (Shearwater), of the Ocean Depths Series.

Part 2: Recommendation

I love the water and I love mermaids. It is quite unfortunate that mermaids in literature are not as popular as Vampires, Werewolves or Witches. On top of that, in many cultures around the world, there are many folklores about mermaids, some good, some bad and the only thing they have in common is that half their bodies are fish tails.

When I picked up this book, I wasn't sure what to expect. The word PART ONE on the description from the book cover was quite misleading as to me, it represented a full book in the series not half of the first book in the Ocean Depths Series. While it is true that D.S. Murphy makes up for it in the end, still, the abruptness of realizing I'm on the last page and Part One ending on a cliffhanger like that just makes me want to hurl the book — in this case, my iPad — across the room out of sheer frustration of not knowing what happens next and not knowing when the OTHER HALF comes out.

Now that I'm done expressing my frustration, let's move on to the good parts of this first half of Shearwater. I was really surprised by how well-written this book is. Mind you, it's not close to being literary but the amount of effort and the quality that is put in this book is amazing. D.S. Murphy did a great job with the prose as the world he'd built right from the first paragraph sucked me in and it was utterly immersive. While some reviewers found the research/historical bit distracting, I didn't mind it at all and I thought the author transitioned the research information nicely. In my head, it was like a scene unfolding on TV where the protagonist is reading a bit of research and there's the character's voice over relaying that research information over to the viewers. I like that because to me, it's like a bonus story within the story. What the author could do with this research information is to have it available as a free companion download for fans of Shearwater in the event that he edits that bit out.

I stayed away from reading YA a couple months ago because the last couple of YA books that I did read had flawed female protagonists. While I am not against flawed characters, I am against flawed characters who are utterly stupid, has no common sense whatsoever and never developed throughout the length of the book. With that in mind, I had reservations about Clara Clark. Sure she is flawed and just as confused about her mermaid background and though Clara didn't get to prove anything in this first half of Shearwater, she is definitely lovable and so far, she has the potential to be someone great and I can't wait to read more of her underwater exploits. As for Ethan, he's kind of hot and cold, like bipolar and with the first book, he was more like "just there" to get answers from that Sebastian wouldn't or couldn't give. For me personally, I want to know more about Ethan, what his history is, family, etc. As for Sebastian, he's mysterious and cool, not much emotional depth to him and somehow, even though he's teaching Clara to be more mermaid-like, I have this feeling that he can't be trusted. There's something big going on with Sebastian and Ethan and I'd like to learn more about these two guys. As for Clara's relationship with Sebastian and Ethan, I just hope it's not going to be like Twilight's Jacob-Bella-Edward love triangle where Bella strings along Jacob when Edward is not around. It's not okay to give impressionable young readers the idea that it's okay to string people along because in the real world, it's not okay. So hopefully, the second half of Shearwater will be what I hope it will be.

Overall, D.S. Murphy did a great job on the plot and the characters. I can see how this book could easily be one of my favorites in 2016 as it was such a page turner I wish I have the full book, didn't have a day job and didn't require sleep so I can just devour this book. If you haven't read this book, I recommend reading it on a weekend when you have 2 to 4 solid hours to just immerse yourself and you may or may not want to wait for the full version of Shearwater.

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