Cheri Reviews Edenland by Wallace King


I’m definitely one who enjoys historical fiction. When I saw Edenland listed on NetGalley, I decided to take a chance. Here’s the blurb from Amazon, if you’re interested:

Born a slave, Bledsoe had never left Our Joy plantation, and a daring escape offers his only chance for liberty. On the run he encounters Alice, an Irish indentured servant, committing what appears to be an act of murder as she burns down a shack in the Great Dismal Swamp of North Carolina.

Faced with the threat of capture, Bledsoe and Alice become reluctant allies. An epic tale unfolds as their quest for freedom pulls them from swamp to city, from North Carolina to Virginia. Somewhere between injustice and loss, they discover a hidden place that seems an Eden, where their bond and love are forged.

But the Confederate army is on the march and soon tramples their tenuous freedom. Separated, they are cast into fates they never imagined. Through it all, the hope of deliverance drives them onward and the memory of their Edenland remains, burning bright against the darkness of slavery and the American Civil War.

I had pretty high hopes for this book but they didn’t pan out. I feel like I dredged through each of the 466 pages as if moving through molasses. There were a few entertaining sections, usually having to do with Alice being completely inappropriate or bumbling, but beyond that, the characters moved from place to place, encounter people, conflict ensues, and they’re off again – sometimes together, sometimes apart.

Besides the slowness of the telling, I never felt the chemistry or connection between Bledsoe and Alice. I don’t recall them ever genuinely liking each other or getting along and then, boom, they’re in love. Or maybe just Alice was in love since Bledsoe seemed fairly unfazed by their separation. Regardless, it didn’t feel legitimate to me at all. Neither did the many coincidences that happened throughout.

If you’re looking for a sweeping adventure or action-packed journey through the south during the civil war, this isn’t it. It was interesting to experience what life was like for various types of people during the era but it was a slog for me.

Thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for the opportunity to read and review this one.

If you’re still interested, you can pick it up on Amazon through the Kindle Unlimited program which includes the audible version. The narrator does a good job except I increased the speed because he reads incredibly slowly. Which, of course, didn’t help the slow-moving story…

Cheri Reviews Playing with Fire by Tess Gerritsen

Thanks to NetGalley and figuring out how to get text-to-speech to work on the Kindle app, I’ve been able to kick up my advanced copy reading. I just finished Tess Gerritsen’s upcoming Playing with Fire. This was my first experience with the author who brought Rizzoli and Isles to life and I’ll sum up my review in a few words: I really freaking liked this book! A lot.

If you want more words, you can watch the quick video review embedded below.

You can pre-order Playing with Fire by clicking here. Or, if it’s after October 27, 2015 when you see this, you can use the same link to purchase or download a sample.

Cheri Reviews The Wolf’s Hour by Robert McCammon

My buddy, Andy, has been telling me how much she loves the work of Robert McCammon for a few years now. I never really cared to give him a try. Shapeshifter spys, post-apocalyptic tales, and ghost stories haven’t really been my preference over the past few years so I’ve not paid much attention to poor Andy’s suggestions of Mr. McCammon’s work. Well, that changed a week ago when we were looking for something to discuss on the next Cocktail Hour podcast. I told Andy she could pick the book we would read and discuss. I have to be honest and tell you that I subtly tried to talk her into picking something else but she stuck to her guns and I resigned myself to slogging through a long-ass boring book. I was just thankful that I had Audible credits available. How wrong I was. How very, very wrong. Before I go further, here’s the blurb:

On the eve of D-Day, a British secret agent with unique powers goes behind Nazi lines Michael Gallatin is a British spy with a peculiar talent: the ability to transform himself into a wolf. Although his work in North Africa helped the Allies win the continent in the early days of World War II, he quit the service when a German spy shot his lover in her bed. Now, three years later, the army asks him to end his retirement and parachute into occupied Paris. A mysterious German plan called the Iron Fist threatens the D-Day invasion, and the Nazi in charge is the spy who betrayed Michael’s lover. The werewolf goes to France for king and country, hoping for a chance at bloody vengeance.

It just didn’t sound like something I’d want to read. But regardless of my apprehension, it grabbed me and didn’t let me go. I hated to hit the pause button to go to work, pick up my child, or go to sleep. I dreamed about wolves and nazis and thought about what was going to happen next and kept modifying my predictions about what Iron Fist was. I dropped a tear at one point when one character discovered that he lost his family to Allied bombing. My stomach roiled during the descriptions of some of the “entertainment” on display for some upper echelon Nazis and friends. But mostly I cheered when the bad guys got what they had coming to them. There were lots of bad guys so there were lots of ass kickings to go around.

Probably the weakest part of the book, for me, was the wolf-shifter part. It was very interesting and I enjoyed it, to be sure, but there was just so much going on during the WWII portion of the book that I hated to have to wait to find what happened next! I guess calling Michael’s younger years weak is unfair, maybe it’s the slow part. The book wasn’t perfect; there were some words and phrases that were over-used and Michael was mostly the perfect man – I mean he even performed oral sex without being asked! I was ready for the book to end when it did but not because I just couldn’t take any more – the story was over and everything was wrapped up and I was ready to wish them all well and move on.

I’ve already purchased Swan Song. A massive “thank you” to Andy for picking such a good book for us to read. I’ll probably not doubt you again. Maybe. Probably not. You can download a sample or purchase a copy of The Wolf’s Hour by clicking here.

Blu Reviews Daughter of Mystery by Heather Rose Jones


I am intrigued when I read the blurb for Heather Rose Jones’ debut Bella Book:

Margerit Sovitre did not expect to inherit the Baron Saveze’s fortunes—and even less his bodyguard. The formidable Barbara, of unknown parentage and tied to the barony for secretive reasons, is a feared duelist, capable of defending her charges with efficient, deadly force.

Equally perplexing is that while she is now a highly eligible heiress, Margerit did not also inherit the Saveze title, and the new baron eyes the fortunes he lost with open envy. Barbara, bitter that her servitude is to continue, may be the only force that stands between Margerit and the new Baron’s greed—and the ever deeper layers of intrigue that surround the ill-health of Alpennia’s prince and the divine power from rituals known only as The Mysteries of the Saints.
– Amazon blurb

The setting of the story is one of the facets that initially attracts me: Alpennia, a fictional 18th Century European country filled with political and social intrigue in which Ms. Jones uses her considerable historical knowledge and significant research to create a very believable backdrop for the unfolding story. Throughout the tale I am provided with just enough information to ensure I am kept in the correct time and location, but I am not overwhelmed with historical data.

Margerit Sovitre is a somewhat naive young woman who is attempting to navigate the social expectations of her environment, yet is also determined to attain her academic goals in a society that frowns upon such endeavors. Sweet and considerate, surrounded by ambitious relatives, she soon reveals a determined core that stands her in good stead as she resists others’ expectations. Her mystical skills are hinted at and deftly revealed throughout the course of the story and their importance steadily unfolds as we learn about the role “mysteries” have within Alpennian society.

Barbara is deeply disappointed to discover that the death of her owner has not secured her the promised freedom she was assured. After a period of adjustment, this stoic and reserved armin accepts her allotted role in the life on the new heiress. Surrounded by her own supporting characters, the charismatic woman comes to grips with a changed reality, investigates intriguing clues regarding her own identity, all while assisting her charge maneuver through high society.

Ms. Jones’ well built world is populated with a wonderful cast of believable characters. Margerit’s family are slightly cliched, yet quite ably serve the purpose set for them. Alternately challenging and abetting Margerit’s goals, they are neither too domineering nor diluted for the plot. Barbara’s set of supporters provide me with a deeper appreciation for this intriguing young woman, but she remains a somewhat unknown entity at the conclusion. The quintessential villain is ever lurking, and he is introduced very smoothly throughout the story, his actions quite believable and appropriate for the plot and setting.

I was pleasantly surprised by the length of this novel. A well-paced introduction to the lives of lesser nobility in Alpennia was successfully achieved, filled with issues of inheritance, political intrigue, criminal maneuvering and romance. The latter is a pleasant development evolving out of a professional-turned-friendship and while I typically prefer more romantic detail, I am content with the relationship as described.

Both main characters behave and react very believably and their responses to one another, misunderstandings, and conversations are well crafted and realistic. I admit to wishing for more of Barbara’s back-story – particularly her entry into and training in her dangerous profession. Ms. Jones is very adept at introducing various characters and elements into the plot in her debut novel. I am particularly impressed by her ability to keep my interest piqued, to build the tension, and to deftly reveal important information throughout the story.
I would certainly agree with the blurb’s final claim:

Heather Rose Jones debuts with a sweeping story rich in intrigue and the clash of loyalties and love.

If exploring a new land, meeting new characters, and having your curiosity roused is what you desire, then Daughter of Mystery is certainly a novel you should consider for your shelf!

You can download a sample or purchase Daughter of Mystery by clicking here.