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Monday, July 24, 2017

Iola Goulton reviews GHOST HEARTS by Lisa Harris and Lynne Gentry

Amazon Description


A brilliant transplant surgeon. A rogue organ broker. A ghost child.
And the legend that could destroy them all.

A brutal murder convinces surgeon Mia Kendall there’s more than she imagined to the mysterious spike in heart transplant rejections. Determined to find answers before she loses another patient, Mia gets sucked into a dangerous international medical web. With time running out for her youngest transplant recipient, Mia is forced to partner with a disillusioned ex-military pilot who flies brokered organs across East Africa. But searching for the truth will prove costly for the unlikely duo racing to stop a madman before he annihilates a rare and cursed bloodline.

From best-selling author Lisa Harris and award-winning author Lynne Gentry comes a chilling, hypnotic medical thriller that will take you from the suburbs of Cincinnati to the jungles of Africa.

My Review

Ghost Heart is medical thriller. I have a love-hate relationship with medical thrillers. I love it because I love the suspense aspects. I hate it because it highlights the inequalities in medical profession both within countries like America, and globally. A million dollars for a heart transplant? The mind boggles.

Yes, there is some blood and gore (gore = anything that can't be fixed with an Elastoplast. There are some good reasons why I didn't go into a medical profession). The worst of it is actually in the Prologue, so if you read the sample and are afraid it's going to get worse, don't worry. It doesn't.

Kelsey Taylor is five years old, and needs a heart transplant stop urgently. Her mother, Catherine, is prepared to do anything to save her daughter. Even going to Africa to for a heart transplant. The only way she save her daughter is to ask her father for help—which could destroy her relationship with her husband.

Mia Kendall is a heart surgeon in the public hospital in Tanzania. She finds her heart transplant patients are dying. But the transplant patients from the nearby private hospital not. She's suspicious. What is happening? Is there a problem with her surgical methods? Her post-operative care? Or is there a problem with the transplant organs?

Jeme is a Tanzanian wife and mother. Her husband has recently had a heart transplant, but he's sick again. And she's trying to protect her daughter—an albino, at risk of being kidnapped and murdered by hunters for her white skin and blue eyes. Unfortunately, this part of the story is based on fact. Albinos are considered cursed, yet at that same time, their body parts are considered good luck charms.

Ghost Heart focuses on the people who are trying to save lives. Catherine and Jeme, trying to save the lives of their daughters from two very different threats. Mia, trying to save her patients, and to make up for one mistake long ago. Organ transplant pilot Race Daniels, trying to save lives to make up for the two he couldn't save.

It also highlights the tragedy of our modern medical system, and the way it favours the haves over the have-nots. Those who have insurance or money or who live in a country with a good public health system vs. those who don't. The tragedy of transplants—the fact one person has to die in order for another to receive a new heart. The tragedy of greed—that where money is involved, someone will find a way to get rich at the expense of others.

The novel is suspense from start to finish, with several unexpected twists. Don't do what I did and start it when you should be going to bed! Recommended for all medical suspense lovers.

Thanks to the authors for providing a free ebook for review.

About Iola Goulton


I love reading, and read over150 Christian novels each year. I'm a Top Reviewer at Amazon US, UK and Australia, and am in the Top 1% of reviewers at Goodreads.

I am a freelance editor specialising in Christian fiction. Visit my website at www.christianediting.co.nzto download a comprehensive list of publishers of Christian fiction. 



I also write contemporary Christian romance with a Kiwi twist—find out more at www.iolagoulton.com.

You can also find me on:
Facebook (Author)
Facebook (Editing)
Instagram
Pinterest
Twitter

Monday, July 10, 2017

Iola Goulton reviews BENEATH COPPER FALLS by Colleen Coble

Amazon Description



A woman is murdered—drowned—in the Prologue. Another woman is almost drowned in the first chapter. Is that creepy or what?

Dana, the almost-victim, escapes from her fiance and returns home to Rock Harbor. She knows Garrett might track her home, but figures she’ll be surrounded by friends, and he’ll stick out in the small town. He’s determined to get her back—and she’s just as determined to stay away from him, to stay safe.

She has decided she doesn’t need a man to take care of her, but then she meets Boone Carter. That’s a first meeting that doesn’t go well! But they reconcile, and … but that would be telling. Suffice to say this is romantic suspense, and although the emphasis is largely on the suspense, there is still enough romance to keep romance lovers happy.

This was a great story, full of suspense and misdirection. I thought I’d figured out the identity of the murderer, then something happened which meant I had to be wrong (and I was). We also saw more of the evildoer’s MO as the story progressed, and this just ramped up the tension as we saw him working to ensnare his next victim—another Rock Harbor woman.

At this point I hadn’t guessed the evildoer’s true identity, but that didn’t stop me yelling at the character to get away from the creep. I did eventually work out the real murderer (long before Dana, Bree and co worked it out), but that only added to the suspense. He’s behind you! Get out now!

This is the sixth novel in Colleen Coble’s Rock Harbor series. I think I’ve read one or two of the previous novels—Bree rang a bell, but that was all. It didn’t matter. Beneath Copper Falls can easily be read without having read the previous books. I’m sure fans of the series will be thrilled to read a new instalment.

Recommended for thriller fans. Best read the day before your manicure appointment, not the day after.

Thanks to Thomas Nelson and NetGalley for providing a free ebook for review.

My Review

A woman is murdered—drowned—in the Prologue. Another woman is almost drowned in the first chapter. Is that creepy or what?

Dana, the almost-victim, escapes from her fiance and returns home to Rock Harbor. She knows Garrett might track her home, but figures she’ll be surrounded by friends, and he’ll stick out in the small town. He’s determined to get her back—and she’s just as determined to stay away from him, to stay safe.

She has decided she doesn’t need a man to take care of her, but then she meets Boone Carter. That’s a first meeting that doesn’t go well! But they reconcile, and … but that would be telling. Suffice to say this is romantic suspense, and although the emphasis is largely on the suspense, there is still enough romance to keep romance lovers happy.

This was a great story, full of suspense and misdirection. I thought I’d figured out the identity of the murderer, then something happened which meant I had to be wrong (and I was). We also saw more of the evildoer’s MO as the story progressed, and this just ramped up the tension as we saw him working to ensnare his next victim—another Rock Harbor woman.

At this point I hadn’t guessed the evildoer’s true identity, but that didn’t stop me yelling at the character to get away from the creep. I did eventually work out the real murderer (long before Dana, Bree and co worked it out), but that only added to the suspense. He’s behind you! Get out now!

This is the sixth novel in Colleen Coble’s Rock Harbor series. I think I’ve read one or two of the previous novels—Bree rang a bell, but that was all. It didn’t matter. Beneath Copper Falls can easily be read without having read the previous books. I’m sure fans of the series will be thrilled to read a new instalment.

Recommended for thriller fans. Best read the day before your manicure appointment, not the day after.

Thanks to Thomas Nelson and NetGalley for providing a free ebook for review.

About Iola Goulton


I love reading, and read over 150 Christian novels each year. I'm a Top Reviewer at Amazon US, UK and Australia, and am in the Top 1% of reviewers at Goodreads.

I am a freelance editor specialising in Christian fiction. Visit my website at www.christianediting.co.nz to download a comprehensive list of publishers of Christian fiction. 


I also write contemporary Christian romance with a Kiwi twist—find out more at www.iolagoulton.com.

You can also find me on:
Facebook (Author)
Facebook (Editing)
Instagram
Pinterest
Twitter

Monday, June 26, 2017

Iola Goulton reviews THE PRIORITY UNIT by Susan Page Davis

Iola Goulton reviews The Priority Unit by Susan Page Davis


Amazon Description

A missing man.

A mysterious computer program –

Even the people constructing it don’t know what it will do.

On the worst night of Harvey Larson’s life, his partner is killed and his wife, Carrie, walks out on him. Ten years later, the Portland, Maine police detective has learned to cope with his grief and depression. When he and the Priority Unit investigate the disappearance of software designer Nick Dunham, he meets a young woman who will change his life. Jennifer Wainthrop was the last person to admit seeing Dunham alive.

Harvey and his partner, Eddie Thibodeau, stay a step ahead of a bomber and put together the clues that tell the truth: Dunham’s kidnapping and the bombings are one case, and Jennifer is caught in the middle. News that Carrie has committed suicide may plunge Harvey back into despair. Harvey turns to God for help untangling his complicated life. He finds strength in his faith as he attempts to save Jennifer from the same grim fate that claimed Nick. But Jennifer must depend on her own wits and God alone when the killer gets too close.

My Review

Jennifer Wainthrop meets Detective Harvey Larson when he visits her workplace to investigate the disappearance of one of her colleagues, and he asks her out.

I’m not always a fan of romances where there is a big age gap between the hero and heroine (for example, I’ve always found Jane Austen’s Mr Knightley a little creepy, and even as a child I could see the potential for problems in the marriage between Prince Charles and Lady Diana). I think The Priority Unit dealt with the sixteen-year age gap well. This was helped by the fact Harvey Larson was a man of principle and honour, and I could see what Jennifer saw in him.

Equally, while Jennifer was young, she had a maturity and professionalism that belied her age. And she was an oustanding computer programmer (in a world full of too-stupid-to-live heroines, I’m always impressed by a heroine (or hero) with intelligence, competence, and professionalism.

The suspense thread was well balanced against the romance, and the novel was perhaps more focused on the relationship rather than the suspense. The suspense is there, but it’s somewhat low key—without a body it’s hard to know whether a crime has been committed, let alone solve it. Although the missing computer programmer isn’t Harvey’s only problem. Someone seems to have a target on his back…

What impressed me the most was the overt Christian aspect of the novel. Neither Harvey nor Jennifer were Christians at the beginning, yet they both commit to making an honest search to see if God is real—a search they commence together. This brings them closer together at the same time as having the potential to drive them apart—what if only one chooses to believe?

Susan Page Davis is the author of Frasier Island, one of my all-time favourite romantic suspense novels. Okay, so there are elements of both novels which stretch the bounds of credibility if you think about them too much, but the characters and story are so strong it doesn’t matter.

Overall, The Priority Unit was a Christian Romantic Suspense novel which actually managed to give all three aspects equal weight—it was overtly Christian, with a building romance, and an ongoing suspense thread. An excellent novel which is especially praiseworthy for the overt Christian aspect. Even better, it’s the first in a series!

Recommended.

About Iola Goulton


I love reading, and read over150 Christian novels each year. I'm a Top Reviewer at Amazon US, UK and Australia, and am in the Top 1% of reviewers at Goodreads.

I am a freelance editor specialising in Christian fiction. Visit my website at www.christianediting.co.nzto download a comprehensive list of publishers of Christian fiction. 


I also write contemporary Christian romance with a Kiwi twist—find out more at www.iolagoulton.com.

You can also find me on:
Facebook (Author)
Facebook (Editing)
Instagram
Pinterest
Twitter

Monday, June 12, 2017

Iola Goulton reviews ENEMY ACTION by Mike Hollow

Iola Goulton reviews Enemy Action by Mike Hollow:


Amazon Description 

Fifty people squashed into a stinking public air-raid shelter all night – babies screaming, old ladies crying, no beds, not even a light to see by. When the all-clear siren sounds, people disperse to home and work. But one man remains. He’s Paul Ramsey, a young teacher, and he’s dead – stabbed through the heart. 

DI Jago quickly establishes that the victim was a pacifist, desperate to avoid military service. Why, then, was he carrying a loaded revolver in his pocket? Did he have enemies? Was he intent on harming someone – or even himself? 

Jago discovers that Paul isn’t the only pacifist whose convictions have been challenged. For some, anger and violence lie just below the surface. And despite Ramsey’s moral stance, it seems there were dark shadows in his life. In fact, more than one person might have had a motive for murder…

My Review

It's 1940, the middle of the London Blitz, and there is a body in the aftermath of the nightly bombing raids. But this body isn't a victim of the bombs. No. This body was stabbed to death. Whodunit?

The investigation starts with Inspector Jago and his partner meeting all manner of people whose only relationship was that they knew or knew of the victim, none of whom appear to have any motive for killing him. As the story progresses, unexpected relationships emerge between the characters, which leave us with several having both motive and opportunity for the murder.

Yes, there were plenty of red herrings, and the end managed to both surprise me and make perfect sense. That's always the sign of an excellent mystery.

I was impressed by the character voices, about the way I could 'hear' the different accents. I was also impressed with the overall setting and background—the subplot around contract mismanagement, the comments about gender equity, the history in general. It gave the novel a sense of time and place I rarely see in Christian fiction.

And this was Christian fiction, although it's Christian fiction of a more understated variety (as is typical with British fiction). It's clear Inspector Jago is on a spiritual journey, whether he knows it or not. I'll watch that with interest in future books, along with his relationship with the pretty American journalist.

This is the third book in the Blitz Detective series, but can easily be read as a standalone novel. I haven’t read the first two in the series, but will be ordering them soon. Recommended for historical fiction lovers, especially those who like police procedural mysteries.

Thanks to Lion Publishing and NetGalley for providing a free ebook for review. You can find out more about Mike Hollow at The Blitz Detective website.

About Reviewer Iola Goulton:

I am a freelance editor specializing in Christian fiction, and you can find out more about my services at my website, or follow me on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest or Instagram.

I love reading, and read and review around 150 Christian books each year on my blog. I'm a Top 25 Reviewer at Christian Book, in the Top 1% of reviewers at Goodreads, and have an Amazon US Reviewer Rank that floats around 5,000 (and I'm in the Top 50 at Amazon Australia).

Monday, May 29, 2017

Iola Goulton reviews WEAVER'S NEEDLE by Robyn Carroll


Amazon Description


Two recovery specialists.
One murder.
A hunt for the Dutchman's Lost Gold Mine becomes a race of survival.


Former Army MP Landry Parker fell into the recovery specialist role quite by accident—to help her ailing father. Now that she’s on her own, she is determined to prove herself and honor her family legacy.

After being shot in the line of duty, former police officer Nickolai Baptiste became a recovery specialist, and he’s good at his job—maybe even the best.

A potential client pits Landry and Nickolai against one another to find the Dutchman’s Lost Gold Mine map that was stolen from her murdered husband, and the potential payday is too enticing to pass up. The trail takes them from New Orleans to Weaver’s Needle in Arizona where legend claims the mine is hidden. Landry and Nickolai are no strangers to adventure, but the unlikely partners quickly discover there’s someone after the treasure and there are those who want to ensure the lost mine in Arizona’s Superstition Mountain stays lost forever.

Can Landry and Nickolai work together despite their distrust of each other to save the legend before more innocent lives are lost? Will they find the real treasure isn’t the gold, but something more valuable. . .true love and understanding?

My Review


Weaver’s Needle was an excellent thriller, with lots of questions, lots of plot turns, an evildoer I didn’t see coming (although I might have if the novel hadn’t been so fast paced), and a real twist ending.

Despite my bias for romantic suspense over straight suspense, I actually preferred the suspense elements of Weaver’s Needle to the romance. Who was behind the murder? Who is threatening Landry and Nickolai as they work together to find the lost map and perhaps solve the murder … and the mystery of the lost mine? What is the significance of the strange scenes about the Native American rituals?

There was also a compelling subplot about Nickolai and his relationship with his teenage sister, a schizophrenic in full-time care. Nickolai blames himself for not recognising the signs difference between normal teenage acting out and serious mental illness—a mistake which had tragic repercussions. It’s tough to incorporate mental illness into a novel, and I thought it was done well.

Next to all that, it might be inevitable that the romance element wasn’t going to be as strong. I could see the building attraction between Landry and Nickolai, but there was always the issue that Landry was a strong, praying Christian, and Nickolai an unbeliever. I thought this was glossed over, which affected my enjoyment of the romance.

But don’t let that deter you from reading Weaver’s Needle if you like thrill-of-the-chase mysteries with depth.

Thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for providing a free ebook for review.


About Reviewer Iola Goulton:

I am a freelance editor specializing in Christian fiction, and you can find out more about my services at my website, or follow me on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest or Instagram.

I love reading, and read and review around 150 Christian books each year on my blog. I'm a Top 25 Reviewer at Christian Book, in the Top 1% of reviewers at Goodreads, and have an Amazon US Reviewer Rank that floats around 5,000 (and I'm in the Top 50 at Amazon Australia).

Monday, May 15, 2017

Iola Goulton reviews A LADY IN DISGUISE by Sandra Byrd

Iola Goulton reviews A Lady in Disguise by Sandra Byrd


Amazon Description

In this intriguing novel of romance, mystery, and clever disguise set in Victorian England, a young woman investigates the murder of her own father.

After the mysterious death of her father, Miss Gillian Young takes a new job as the principal costume designer at the renowned Theatre Royal, Drury Lane. But while she remembers her father as a kind, well-respected man of the Police Force, clues she uncovers indicate he’d been living a double life: a haunting photograph of a young woman; train stubs for secret trips just before his death; and a receipt for a large sum of money. Are these items evidence of her father’s guilty secrets? His longtime police partner thinks so.

Then Gillian meets the dashing Viscount Thomas Lockwood. Their attraction is instant and inescapable. As their romantic involvement grows, Gillian begins to suspect even Lockwood’s motives. Does Lord Lockwood truly love her? Or is his interest a front for the desire to own her newly inherited property? And what should she make of her friend’s suggestion that Lockwood or men like him were involved in the murder of her father?

Soon Gillian is convinced that her father has left evidence somewhere that can prove his innocence and reveal the guilty party. But someone wants to stop her from discovering it. The closer she comes to uncovering it, the more menacing her opposition grows. With her life on the line, Gillian takes on an ingenious disguise and takes on the role of a lifetime to reveal the true killer—before it’s too late both for her and for those that she loves.

My Review


I wasn’t sure what to expect from A Lady in Disguise—the title didn’t seem to match the description (and the description ranges between somewhat misleading and coming uncomfortably close to revealing major plot points, in my view).

No matter. The review is of the novel, not the Amazon description.

And the novel was excellent. The balance was more on suspense than romance, partly because Gillian was never sure who she could trust—with good reason, because there were a lot of untoward events occurring and a few too many ‘coincidences’. The plot was complex, with many unpredictable yet satisfying twists.

The real strength of this novel was the research, which struck the perfect balance between comprehensive and unobtrusive. The setting was perfect in terms of details about the social customs and social issues of the time. Some of the descriptions brought back fond memories of my own time in London—it’s a city steeped in history, and it’s easy to imaging Gillian walking through Victoria Station or along Drury Lane.

Every detail was spot on, and a testament to the level of care taken in the planning, writing, revising and editing of the novel, and the importance of good first readers: Byrd thanks two English readers who “edit the work to ensure the characters sound English and not American, Victorian and not twenty-first century”. The effort is noted and appreciated, and made the novel a pleasure to read. I wish more American authors would take this level of care when writing historical fiction set outside the USA. (Or am I the only one who gets distracted by details which are inconsistent with the supposed setting?)

I also found the writing strong—I like the intimacy of first person point of view, although I know many readers don’t. The entire novel is from Gillian’s point of view, and she is a strong and intelligent character. I enjoyed the supporting characters as well, especially the irrepressible Ruby, who I feared for as much as Gillian did.

Overall, an excellent novel, and recommended for those who enjoy historical suspense.

Thanks to Howard Books and NetGalley for providing a free ebook for review.

About Reviewer Iola Goulton:

I am a freelance editor specializing in Christian fiction, and you can find out more about my services at my website, or follow me on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest or Instagram.

I love reading, and read and review around 150 Christian books each year on my blog. I'm a Top 25 Reviewer at Christian Book, in the Top 1% of reviewers at Goodreads, and have an Amazon US Reviewer Rank that floats around 5,000 (and I'm in the Top 50 at Amazon Australia).

Monday, May 1, 2017

Iola Goulton reviews PURSUED by Lisa Harris

Iola Goulton reviews Pursued by Lisa Harris

Amazon Description

Nikki Boyd's flight into Nashville was routine--up until the crash landing at the airport. When the dust settles, Nikki discovers that the woman who had been seated next to her on the plane is missing--and no one will admit she was ever there. Erika Hamilton had been flying to Nashville with an air marshal as a key witness in an upcoming grand jury trial. When she flees from the crash, is she running from trouble or straight into it? Before Nikki can even see her family, she and her team are pulled into a missing persons case where the motives are as unclear as the suspects.

Bestselling and award-winning author Lisa Harris has planted danger around every turn in this can't-put-it-down thrill ride that will leave readers stunned.


My Review

Pursued starts with a bang, literally, as Nikki Boyd’s plane crashes. No one notices the woman she was sitting beside disappear in the confusion following the crash, and when Nikki questions investigators, they seem to think she is traumatised and hallucinating, because the flight manifest says the seat next to her was empty.

That’s soon cleared up, and now Nikki has two days to find the missing Erika Hamilton. The race is on, and the pace never lets up. There are constant twists and turns as Nikki and her partner follow a trail of clues to find Nikki … and realise she’s not the only person they need to find. It’s a great plot, and a great read.

Pursued is the third book in The Nikki Boyd Files, and I hope it’s not the last! The series has an overall storyline of Nikki joining the police force to find her younger sister, who went missing ten years ago. There is also the romantic element, with her developing relationship with Tyler, the husband of Nikki’s dead best friend. I’d like to see these storylines resolved before I say goodbye to Nikki.

Pursued is a standalone novel and you don’t have to have read the earlier books in the series to understand it. But if you’re a suspense fan, you’ll want to read them all and it would be best to read them in order: Vendetta, then Missing, then Pursued. Recommended for all Christian suspense fans.

Thanks to Revell and NetGalley for providing a free ebook for review.

About Reviewer Iola Goulton:

I am a freelance editor specializing in Christian fiction, and you can find out more about my services at my website, or follow me on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest or Instagram.

I love reading, and read and review around 150 Christian books each year on my blog. I'm a Top 25 Reviewer at Christian Book, in the Top 1% of reviewers at Goodreads, and have an Amazon US Reviewer Rank that floats around 5,000 (and I'm in the Top 50 at Amazon Australia).