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Book Review: Where the Rain is Made August 13, 2011

Posted by Jaidis in 5 Tree Reviews, Book Reviews, Hazel O'Shea Reviews.
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Description:

A decadent-looking savage has captured Francesca DuVall and her brother, Marsh. Now she must spend every waking moment planning an escape from the camp of the brutal savages. What she doesn’t count on is the powerful draw of desire interfering with her scheme.

Ethan Gray is a curator at a national museum in Washington, D.C. . . . most of the time. But when he travels through time to help his beloved People, he becomes Meko, leader of the most revered and feared tribe of the plains, the Cheyenne Dog Soldiers.

Their worlds are decades apart, yet Meko can’t resist the dark beauty he kidnapped during a raid. He has many battles to fight, but none more crucial than capturing Cesca’s heart forever.

My Review:

Where the Rain is Made by Keta Diablo is a hot and spicy romance novel soaked in history and mysticism, which immediately gripped my attention and had me anticipating the turn of each page until the very end! I admit I’m a sucker for a good love story, but Where the Rain is Made was much more than a sappy tale of star-crossed lovers with an exciting sex scene or two. This book is filled with love and hate, life and death, and choices not one of us would ever want to make.

Ethan Gray was an Assistant Curator for one of the most admirable museums in the country. He worked with Native American artifacts, providing the museum identification and history of each piece along with stories about the people and their ways. Being a Cheyenne he grew up being told the tales of his ancestors lifestyles and traditions. But he had also lived and breathed this lifestyle, just as they had so many years ago. Ethan was a time wanderer. The Cheyenne Sacred Council had sought out Ethan to aid them in setting things right with the past, sending him back in time to watch over his people and lead them safely and fiercely through their hardships. He had successfully completed his missions time after time, never faltering from the sacred Council’s plan, but this time would be different. She would be there, and she would change everything.

Mr. Duvall had caught himself a bit of the gold fever and decided to move his family, daughter Francesca and son Marshall, from the civilized comforts of New York city to the untamed plains of Colorado. This was not the white man’s land but that didn’t stop them from stealing it away, ravaging through the native’s villages destroying their livelihood and annihilating the people. The Cheyenne were left no choice but to defend themselves, fighting fire with fire they attacked the white man with full force. Soon Francesca’s world would be torn apart as she and her brother were taken captive by the Cheyenne dog soldiers. Why had their lives been spared? They were of no use to these cold and brutal savages yet they were shown mercy and brought to live among the people in their village. As much as Cesca struggled with her new way of living, she couldn’t fight the heavy desire she felt whenever she looked upon or even thought of I Am The Wind. The connection they shared was intense and went beyond the lustful thoughts that constantly ran through both of their minds. There was no going back now.

I highly recommend this book! The tension between the two main characters was incredible and had me craving the pages to come! There was so much emotion in this story and I sincerely felt for each of the characters and what they had been through. I am hoping and wishing there will be a sequel soon!! Loved Where the Rain is Made!

My Rating:

Happy Reading,

Hazel O’Shea

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Book Review: Paying the Piper August 6, 2011

Posted by Jaidis in 5 Tree Reviews, Book Reviews, Hazel O'Shea Reviews.
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Description:

The Piper is the Bay Area’s infamous child kidnapper. When the Piper selected crime reporter, Scott Fleetwood, to report on his latest child kidnapping, Scott thought he had the world in his grasp, but he held nothing. Scott had been duped by a wannabe. By the time the FBI exposed the hoaxer, time had run out, leaving the real Piper only one course of action—to kill the child. With a murder added to his résumé, the Piper vanished leaving Scott to take blame from the public and the investigating FBI agent, Tom Sheils. But now, eight years later, the Piper’s back, with very specific targets in mind—Scott’s young children. Scott can have his children back as long as he can pay the ransom. The hard part is that ransom isn’t measured in dollars, but in blood.

Some debts can’t be repaid…

My Review:

If you’re looking to get pulled in and pumped up by a truly kick-ass suspense novel, then this book is for you! Simon Wood’s Paying the Piper is a pure adrenaline rush that will have you hanging by the edge of your seat while clawing at your heartstrings. Mr. Wood tells the tale of a parent’s worst nightmare, the kidnapping of a child and the unrelenting attempts to get them back! The excitement begins as soon as you open the book, the story moving along at a swift and thrilling pace. The storyline is fantastic and the characters are complex and diverse. I saw and felt this novel come to life as I’m sure many readers have and will!

Right off the bat we are introduced to Scott Fleetwood, a crime reporter for the Independent, as he races his way across town to his children’s elementary school. His wife had just called with horrible, life-altering news…their son had been kidnapped! Every parent hopes and prays for their children to be kept safe from such a tragedy, but Scott had almost expected it. Just eight years ago Scott had made a terrible mistake and put publicity and a good story above bringing down the bad guy. Scott believed the man on the phone was The Piper, a serial kidnapper contacting him personally to tell his story. This was huge, or it would’ve been had he really been speaking with The Piper. Scott soon realized he had been duped when the area’s highly feared kidnapper became a cold-blooded killer, showing the F.B.I., the news and Scott that they had made a grave mistake in ignoring his demands. A young boy had been killed and Scott has been blamed by all for his death. Now, after eight years his children were being used as pawns in this sick and vengeful game that The Piper had waited long enough to play. Scott wanted his children back and was willing to get them no matter the cost. It was time to pay The Piper.

I highly recommend reading this book to just about anyone! I was completely engaged in this story from the beginning and found myself emotionally vested in the main character’s course to get his kids back. There were twists and turns I never saw coming, keeping the storyline fresh and invigorating! Loved this book!

My Rating:

Happy Reading,

Hazel O’Shea

Book Review: Bread from the Sky July 29, 2011

Posted by Jaidis in 4 Tree Reviews, Book Reviews, Hazel O'Shea Reviews.
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Description:

How many cat heads do you have to eat before you acquire the characteristics of a cat? Why do you hang a snail shell in a tree? How do you get a curse removed? And who buried a gri-gri in the yard? These and other questions are answered in Bread From the Sky.

Wanting a career change and armed with a graduate degree in international studies, a woman in her mid-40s leaves her divorce and ordinary life behind for a two-year stint as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Togo, West Africa.

She learns survival skills in order to live without electricity or plumbing like the rest of the people in her adopted village. She also gains language skills as, in addition to French, which is still the official language, there are over half a dozen local languages in common use at her village. Adjusting to a new culture, several different languages and some very old attitudes is sometimes difficult, frustrating and funny.

There are friends to be made, foods to get used to, bureaucrats and insects to contend with, health issues to recover from and red tape to choke on. Dealing with people who want to rip her off, who harass her (sexually and otherwise) and who always want something from her isn’t easy. The challenges are offset by the warmth and friendship that was found along the way as well as some amazing adventures. As a wise man said to her, “Africa will change you, whether you want it to or not.”

This is a true story of the author’s two years in Togo as a Peace Corps Volunteer.

My Review:

Bread from the Sky by Marie McCarthy is a touching and truthful story, recounting the author’s two years spent in Togo, West Africa as a Peace Corps Volunteer. Ms. McCarthy dove right into her new lifestyle with undeterred optimism and an authentic thirst for learning everything and anything about the Togolese ways. Despite the lack of electricity, running water and sterile, hygienic living conditions we are accustomed to here in the U.S., Marie couldn’t help but feel delighted to be there! The landscape was beautifully untouched and the people were extremely welcoming. Strangers were greeted and befriended immediately, making one a stranger no more. The Togolese had very little, sometimes going without food and basic necessities, yet their cheerful attitudes never wavered. This was refreshing to Marie and she fit in perfectly.

The trip wasn’t without its hardships and frustrations. Marie had gone there to work, but many of the villagers lacked motivation and organization. They had expected the white woman to bring with her gifts and money to dispense throughout the village, and were constantly asking for things without wanting to work for them. This aggravated Marie and more often than not, kept her from accomplishing what she had gone there to do. She was determined to make a difference, and though it wasn’t always in the ways she had planned, she did just that.

Bread from the Sky reads like a diary or journal, guiding the reader through these experiences with Marie. I found it very informative and eye-opening! If you are a fan of documentaries, I certainly recommend reading this book!

My Rating:

Happy Reading,

Hazel O’Shea

Book Review: Stir Until Thoroughly Confused July 21, 2011

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Description:

Mary’s given up everything, including an unsatisfying marriage, to become a chef. But the career comes with a side dish: Kegan, her sexy but controlling new boss.

They’re soon in a relationship, and in all-too-frequent arguments, and when it becomes clear they can’t work together and be together Mary faces a dilemma: keep her dream job or her dream man?

My Review:

Stir Until Thoroughly Confused by Heather Wardell is a fabulous story about self discovery, determination, and love. So many of us have sacrificed our dreams while putting those of the ones we love, or loved, above our own. While a noble and caring thing to do, it’s not always the right thing to do and we’re left with a shattered picture of what we thought this life of ours would be. What do I do? Where do I go? How could I possibly start over? Mary had asked herself these same questions time and time again. She had always wanted to enroll at the Culinary Institute but her husband Charles had other plans. He needed to finish schooling so Mary did what she had to do in order to make that happen. She could always save up and try again, couldn’t she? She soon found out that her goals played no role in the plans Charles had made for them. The plans he made for her. It was then that she knew she had to leave, and that’s just what she did!

Toronto was a new world to Mary and she couldn’t have been happier about that! This was her life and she was going to live it her way. She set her sights on Steel, the area’s most popular restaurant and was determined to get what she had wanted for so very long. Though she soon discovered she wanted much more than to be a top chef, she wanted Kegan Underwood. Kegan was tall, dark and handsome. He knew what he wanted, how he wanted it and how to get it done. Women fell for him daily but getting them to stay by his side and tolerate his controlling and passionate nature was just about impossible. Even knowing this, Mary couldn’t help but be drawn to him and he to Mary. Mary’s career meant everything to her and she wasn’t about to risk it, but what if she didn’t have to? Could they make this work and both find what they had been searching for so very long.

Heather Wardell did a wonderful job grabbing the reader’s attention and creating an emotional investment with the characters and storyline. This book had my attention from the start and I was easily able to identify with Mary and what she had gone through. I’m sure most readers will, with Mary or any of the other well-developed characters. The relationship that forms between the two main characters is exciting and realistic. I found myself being a part of it and feeling that tension right along with them! This was a fantastic read and I highly recommend it!

My Rating:

Happy Reading,

Hazel O’Shea

Book Review: Veronica in Paris July 15, 2011

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Description:

Veronica Barry travels to Paris for her junior year abroad. She befriends a British student in her language class, but develops a crush on her friend’s French lover. On New Year’s eve, Veronica must choose between loyalty and love.

My Review:

Veronica in Paris by Sophia Martin is the charming and heart fluttering novella introducing us to Miss Veronica Barry. A junior in college, Veronica has set out to spend a semester abroad in the city of love, Paris, France! She finds herself surrounded by stunning runway fashion, exquisite artwork and delightfully quaint cafes around every corner. As nervous as she was to travel so far from home and stay with her unknown exchange “family”, she was more excited than anything! This was a dream come true. A dazzling, Audrey Hepburn inspired dream that she was going to enjoy until the very moment she had to leave.

Madame Pauline Richard was allowing Veronica to stay in her home while she absorbed and engaged in the Parisian culture. She had a hard exterior, rarely smiling or showing any signs of excitement, but Veronica knew there was a fire inside of Madame Richard. A glimmer of warmth she saw whenever the two would discuss the city’s history, sites to see and the fellow students Veronica was steadily becoming friends with. She quickly grew close with a young woman from London, Felicia Davies. Felicia was outgoing, quick-witted and very fashionable. She was also dating a man Veronica couldn’t keep her eyes or mind off of! Eric was certainly hard to resist, with his gorgeous looks and extreme charisma. Yes, he was Felicia’s boyfriend and that was enough for Veronica to keep her distance, but would that be enough for Eric to keep his?

This story was very cute and certainly caught my interest. The story was paced quickly but it didn’t feel rushed or vague. Sophia does a fantastic job showing the reader Veronica’s experience and leaves you wanting to pick up the first novel in the Veronica Barry series, The River and the Roses. If you’re looking for something fun, flirty and quick to read, I definitely recommend Veronica in Paris!

My Rating:

Happy Reading,

~Hazel O’Shea

Book Review: Nothing to Lose July 14, 2011

Posted by Jaidis in 2 Tree Reviews, Book Reviews, Hazel O'Shea Reviews.
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Description:

A novel of insight and great humor, this is a Cinderella story about the triumphant makeover of the body and spirit of April Taylor, a fat girl from Queens with the right mind but the wrong body.

April – 60 lbs. overweight, reeling from a broken marriage wangles a job as a softgoods copywriter in a suburban department store. There she meets Don, the black design manager who is determined to help her. “You’re not really breathing,” he tells her. “You’re holding your breath for the next insult . . . such a waste, such a pretty face.” April capitulates and the program begins: the wogging, the jogging, the hip walking and near starvation that will melt her prison of fat.

Nothing to Lose is also about April’s fantasy lover, Luis O’Neill. Luis is a half Irish, half Puerto Rican boy from the projects who makes it to Princeton and utilizes his dazzling good looks to become the youngest president in Burdie’s history. Set against the backdrop of the outrageous world of advertising and marketing this is a jubilant and satisfying story of risk-taking and love between two worthy survivors.

My Review:

Nothing to Lose by Consuelo Saah Baehr is a story about breaking free from the stereo types, beating the odds, and taking the unexpected path in life. Good things don’t come to those who wait. They’re snatched up by those who seize the moment and make it their own and that’s exactly what April Taylor and Luis O’Neil were going to do!

April had always been a heavy-set girl but hadn’t really seen that as a hindrance. It merely was what it was. She had her mother’s large hazel eyes and her father’s thick chestnut hair, making it obvious to others that she’d be a total knock-out if she could just lose the extra pounds. Thankfully Sylvie, April’s best friend, had found a great job for April that would not only take her out of her comfort zone, but would help get April going in the right direction with her life. She soon left Queens and jumped straight into a Manhattan lifestyle! She had lost weight and gained the self-confidence she needed in order to get ahead and go after what she wanted…love. She set her sights on Harald, falling hard and fast. Everything was picture perfect, just as it should be. Unfortunately, her fairytale ending didn’t last long and April found herself alone and diving deeper into her bad habits and self-destructive ways. That is, until she went to work for Mr. Luis O’Neil.

Luis O’Neil was the son of an Irish father and Puerto Rican mother. He was a handsome and academically gifted child, straying from the expected street life he grew up with. Instead, he focused on achievement, being the best at what he did, and living the American dream! After studying at Princeton he landed himself a job with a major retail corporation, starting off small as a buyer and quickly becoming one of the company’s presidents! He had worked hard and it had paid off, giving him all he had ever wanted. Everything but love. Real, secure, unquestionable love. Then he met April.

Miss Baehr tells a tale of life, love and what happens when fate interjects. A concept I have always been a fan of, but it didn’t quite have the spark and connection to the reader that was needed. April seems to fall in love with any man who so much as smiles at her and her struggles with being overweight are too drawn out and redundant. Instead of identifying with and feeling for April, I found myself slightly annoyed by her. I had the same problem with Luis’s character, as he didn’t really have any depth to him, having gone through life with almost no resistance or road blocks. I also found myself distracted by typos throughout the entire book. I do feel this story had incredible potential, but that it needed more excitement to provoke and engage the reader.

My Rating:

Happy Reading,

~Hazel O’Shea

Book Review: Finding Hope July 3, 2011

Posted by Jaidis in 5 Tree Reviews, Book Reviews, Hazel O'Shea Reviews.
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Description:

This is a novelette about finding oneself, finding love and finding hope. If Steve knew anything, he knew that he was fine the way he was. He was a hard-as-steel tough guy. He was a detective that lived alone and was, if not exactly happy, satisfied with the way things were. One night changed all of that. When asked to investigate the kidnapping of his ex-partners daughter, Steve finds more than the evidence of the brutal crimes committed in the old dilapidated house of a serial killer. He finds that he is not the person he thought he was. That night begins a chain of events that makes him question everything he ever thought he knew about himself.

My Review:

Finding Hope by D.L. Marriott is a beautifully composed novelette, filled with more depth and storyline than some books three times the length! This story is drenched in emotion, showing the ever lasting bond that is created in the aftermath of tragedy and the love that prevails. Ms. Marriott pulls you into this book as soon as you start reading, writing as if the character himself is personally telling you this tale, insuring a close connection and shared experience.

The story is written from the main character’s point of view. Steve, a tough-as-nails and hard-hearted man who has spent many of his adult years as a police officer. He never minded being a loner, he was used to it. Being raised by emotionally deficient parents will do that to a person. Yet in Al he not only had a partner, but a close friend, a brother. Al’s family was just as important to Steve as they were to Al. He loved them and would always be there for them, no matter the distance or years gone by that kept them apart.

When the accident happened, it was a total shock. Al and Sandi weren’t supposed to die, not now, not when their Hope was so young. Even after the years that had passed, Hope still remembered her “Uncle” Steve and the bond the two of them had shared from the very beginning. He wasn’t going to let her fade out of his life again, keeping close contact with both her and her God parents. He would be there for Hope, during her brightest moments and darkest days. With that, their bond strengthened and their love grew. It wasn’t how Steve ever imagined it to be, but it was real and it gave him Hope.

This story was raw, unconventional and extremely genuine. I highly recommend D.L. Marriott’s Finding Hope!

My Rating:

Happy Reading,

~Hazel O’Shea

Book Review: Consumed by Love June 17, 2011

Posted by Jaidis in 3 Tree Reviews, Book Reviews, Hazel O'Shea Reviews.
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Description:

Consumed by Love is the story of a couple who must face one partner’s supernatural transformation. This short piece is written in the style of a classic horror story with a dark take on the addictive nature of love.

My Review:

Consumed by Love by Pavarti Devi is a wickedly twisted short story filled with perverse love and sadistic carnal desires. What’s happening to Hugo isn’t natural, yet his lust for flesh, for blood, seeps from his very core. He has always known this change would take place and with the passing of his father, an Abenaki chief, he expected it. Though he wasn’t quite prepared for what was stirring inside of him and the hunger it brought forth.

As the days passed after Hugo’s father’s death, Bree watched her husband fading away. He didn’t sleep, didn’t eat, and barely said a word. As hard as Bree tried, Hugo was spiraling down into a black hole she couldn’t help him out of. That is, until she gave him what he so desperately wanted…her flesh and her blood. How far will Bree go in order to keep her true love satisfied? A nibble here and a chunk of meat there, won’t be enough to keep the beast satiated.

Pavarti Devi was very creative in writing this aberrant and unique tale. I enjoyed the premise of the story, but felt it was a bit hurried. I realize it’s a short story but it moved along rather quickly, sometimes bouncing from one situation on to the next without any connection or segue. I also had a problem with the dialog at times. As it was hard to distinguish who was speaking, simply because of the placement and structure of the lines being exchanged between characters.

I do recommend giving this a read, for it’s very different and entertaining! There are sexual situations and violent themes not suited for younger readers.

My Rating:

Happy Reading,

Hazel O’Shea

Book Review: The Advice Girl June 15, 2011

Posted by Jaidis in 3 Tree Reviews, Book Reviews, Hazel O'Shea Reviews.
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Get your copy of The Advice Girl (The Dalara Series, Book One) on Kindle!

Description:

“Kira has been best friends with Sophia since Kindergarten. When her friend is presumed dead, Kira goes into a downward spiral of depression until she finds a hidden note.

Sophia knows there is something different about her. When a man she met on the internet comes to the house and saves her from an assassin, she knows he is her destiny.

Ethan is aware that he should not fall for Sophia, but he cannot help himself. She brings forth feelings of completion and love whenever she is around him.

After the attempt on her life, Sophia finds out that some vile members of a secret cult, who go by the name Vindicated Saints, are trying to stop her from learning about her powers. Ethan is a member of the Guild of Aurora and it is his job to protect her at any cost and help her get the training she needs so her powers can be fully hers. Will Sophia be able to come into her powers before it is too late?”

– Coffee Time Romance

My Review:

The Advice Girl is the first book written by author L.A. Shaw. Ms. Shaw weaves a tale of secret societies and supernatural powers, entwined in a centuries old battle to set things right and bring about peace to this tired and weary world. The Guild is an organization set out to find carriers of “The Light”, the pure and loving energy that each one of our souls possess, in hopes of fusing together our world with one that was ripped from us ages ago. In doing so, they will create a realm free of pain and suffering. The Vindicated Saints will never allow that to happen, for their existence is based on greed, fear, and above all, power. They have, and will, continue to hunt down the Guild’s prospective “talents”.

Sophia has always known she was different. Hell, her whole family seemed as if they came fresh out of the twilight zone, but Sophia made sure no one was aware of this. She was able to hide all of her pain away and instead, helped others with their struggles offering up a shoulder to cry on and wise advice to help them through their situations. The only one who came close to knowing the real Sophia was her roommate and life-long best friend Kira. The two were kindred spirits and at 25, had their whole lives ahead of them. Until the unthinkable happened and Sophia died. Kira was left lost and alone with a mountain of questions brought on by the unusual circumstances surrounding Sophia’s death. Now with very little to go on Kira is left to wonder, was Sophia murdered or was there a possibility her best friend was still alive? Her questions would soon be answered and her life put in horrible danger.

The storyline was interesting and most certainly had potential but it felt rushed and vaguely written. In my opinion, both the plot and the characters needed more depth and build up in order for the reader to become fully absorbed in the story. There were grammatical and structural errors that at times caused me to re-read a sentence multiple times before continuing on reading. This was not a terrible book by any means and I recommend reading this to anyone who is a fan of theological thrillers and mysteries. Aside from the aforementioned hitches, this was a pleasant read.

My Rating:

Happy Reading,

Hazel O’Shea

Book Review: Eden June 14, 2011

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Description:

“… the last days are not unfolding exactly as written, but make no mistake – Heaven and Hell have fallen to Earth.”

When an earthquake plunges the world into darkness, Alexandra Contreras struggles for survival and seeks answers. Guided by a mysterious, scarred man, she braves the wasteland in search of humanity’s mythical birthplace: Eden. Once confronted with her tragic destiny, she must make a decision which will alter the fate of the world.

My Review:

Matthew Plourde’s Eden is an amazing tale of good vs. evil, believing in yourself and love conquering all. Mr. Plourde wastes no time getting the reader involved and interested in this epic apocalyptic adventure! This story is filled with Angels, Demons and prophecies, bringing with them extreme danger and unbreakable bonds. The action starts no later than the first page and continues on to the very last, making it near impossible to put this book down!

At the very beginning we meet Alexandra Contreras. A straight arrow, successful thirty year old lawyer who now calls Texas her home. It had been years since her last trip to Mexico and would’ve been many more if it weren’t for her mother passing away. It had already been a year, but Alexandra’s grief and guilt still weighed heavily on her heart. She was on her way to collect her inheritance, her childhood home, when an earthquake struck, overturning her bus and life as she knew it within minutes. Once freeing herself from the wreckage she discovers a world set on fire! Buildings have crumbled, roads have been ripped away and it seems very few people have survived. There is no one to turn to, no safe place to go. That is, until she meets the mysterious scarred man who will stop at nothing to keep her out of danger, putting his life on the line time after time in order to preserve hers. It was as if fate itself stepped in and brought Koneh to Alexandra, or more so, she to him. Koneh had waited a lifetime to find her, to protect her and bring her home. Home to Eden, where the Savior belonged.

Though it didn’t happen exactly as it was written in Revelations, Heaven and Hell had fallen and the world was indeed ending. Their journey ahead will be filled with pain and suffering and most certainly death, but Alexandra knows that she must go on. As much as she tries to deny who she truly is, she knows deep within her soul that Koneh is right, she is The One, the child of God. As they forge on they are joined by Erzulie, a fallen Angel who was cast out of heaven for putting a humans life above God’s law. Father Callahan, a Catholic priest who quickly becomes Alexandra’s voice of reason and shoulder to lean on during these horrendous last days. Marco, a man Alexandra feels sympathy for but is unable to fully trust. Along with many more important and easy to feel for characters. They are up against pure evil and are willing to fight for what’s right, for what needs to be done. Their faith and above all, their love, keep them strong and help push them onward to their final destination. Eden.

I absolutely loved this book! The story does focus on biblical theories and beliefs, but in no way preaches to the reader. Whether you’re Christian or not, you will enjoy this book and walk away with a feeling of love and hope! I had the most difficult time putting this book down because every page brought something new to the story! Mr. Plourde does not tell you this story, he shows you the story. Creating an attachment between you and the characters allowing you to be right there with them, in every moment. Eden is now on my list of favorites and I highly recommend reading this to everyone looking for an inspiring and adventuresome read!

My Rating:

Happy Reading,

Hazel O’Shea