Ramblings and Ruminations

Revell Reads Reviews

Okay, folks I have a confession.

And it involves a ramble, so grab something to drink. And maybe a snack.

First, the backstory.

I try really hard to make Allison’s Well a pleasant meadow for all those that come to visit.  It’s important to me that I stick to the theme of my blog and that this little corner of the internet would remain a place of laughter and refreshment.  Nothing negative, nothing nasty.  I get a Teensy Weensy Bit Sarcastic sometimes (particularly in movie reviews) but, you know, other than that, it’s usually pretty positive around here, I think.

ANYWAY.  I recently signed up to the Revell Reads Blog Tour program.  The long in short of it is that I get free books from this publisher in exchange for honest reviews that I must post on Goodreads, Amazon . . . and my blog.

I signed up to review four books really hoping I’d like them . . .

And, unfortunately . . . I didn’t.  The reviews are pretty negative.

I don’t like writing negative reviews anymore.  Now when I read a book I don’t end up liking, I simply don’t review it on Goodreads . . .

. . . unless I’m forced required to.

 

And, double whammy, this also means that there will be a negative blog post on Allison’s Well and I’m not to happy about that either.

And yet, I made a gentleman’s agreement that I would post the reviews on my blog SO I AM TORN BETWEEN MY DUTY TO MY FOLLOWERS AND KEEPING MY WORD TO REVELL.  I’M VERY CONFLICTED RIGHT NOW.

 

So . . . I ended up deciding to close my eyes and just post these.

The only way I felt that I could get this over with as quickly as possible was to combine all of my negative reviews on one blog post, even though you’re technically supposed to do separate posts, I think.

 

 

So, to the person from Revell Reads who is looking over this blog post (and is probably wondering what the heck they are doing here amongst this Gif Madness) . . .

*hands you unpleasant package with an apologetic smile*

 

 

And to you, dear follower, feel free to skip this post.  We shall return to our regular positive programming next Saturday!

 

 

 

ONE MORE RIVER TO CROSS:  by Jane Kirkpatrick

(1 star)

 

FTC Disclosure: Revell Reads gave me complimentary copies of this book. A positive review was not required. These are my honest thoughts.

 

Did not finish.  I’m afraid I couldn’t get past the first few chapters.  The writing is really poor.  It’s not only bland and stilted, it’s confusing, and I had to pause at the end of every paragraph to decipher the sentences I had just read. A lot of the statements felt utterly random and had no connection to the previous phrases.  The characters were so colorless that I was getting them confused within the first chapter, and the historical details were awkwardly inserted with the heavy-handedness of a dull textbook.

THE GIRL BEHIND THE RED ROPE:  by Ted and Rachelle Dekker

(1 star)

 

FTC Disclosure: Revell Reads gave me complimentary copies of this book. A positive review was not required. These are my honest thoughts.

 

Deep down, I guessed that this book would not be for me. Dystopia and I do not have a very good relationship.  Still, I decided to give it a try.

I should have known better.

The moment I opened the book, before I had even finished the first sentence, I was overwhelmed with this novel’s predominant feeling of darkness.  I couldn’t get beyond chapter two before I had to quit.

While this book does shine the light on “Christian” cults and points out a lot of dangers that many professing Christians fall into (the purity culture, trying to predict the Second Coming, salvation by works, etc) it, like most gritty Christian novels, spends way too much time dwelling on the dark than on the light—a common trap for many authors.

It might be helpful to some readers, I suppose, although I even have my doubts about that. The “allegorical” elements of the book seem far too vague and open to random interpretation—a dangerous thing when placed in the hands of some readers who stand on a shaky foundation and struggle in separating extra-biblical fiction from Scriptural truth.

This looked like dark and disturbing read and, more alarmingly, a potentially confusing one and I honestly didn’t want to waste any more time on it.

CHRISTMAS IN WINTER HILL:  by Melody Carlson

(two stars)

 

FTC Disclosure: Revell Reads gave me complimentary copies of this book. A positive review was not required. These are my honest thoughts.

 

I ended up skim-reading this one. I was expecting something fluffy and happy to deliver me a mild shot of holiday sappiness but, sadly, I didn’t get even that.

The dialogue and style is toneless and soulless and the characters so boring and homogenized, that this book failed to produce any feelings whatsoever.

The story is also, unfortunately, pervaded with the subtle theme that is found in some Christian Christmas stories: that any pray uttered during the holiday season is almost granted a kind of magic. A prayer said at Christmas time can’t fail. By combining the faith and trust of Christianity and the pixie dust of Christmas, all our dreams will come true.

I realize that most authors are trying to preserve the holly jolly feels of Christmas ultra happy endings, but this still smacks of a “prosperity gospel” attitude that not only rubs me the wrong way – it is extra-Biblical.

THE GRYPHON HEIST:  by James R. Hannibal

(3 stars)

 

FTC Disclosure: Revell Reads gave me complimentary copies of this book. A positive review was not required. These are my honest thoughts.


Well, that was interesting. Allow me to recap.

 

THE CHARACTERS:

Sadly, I felt the characterization was lacking. Talia and her co workers all felt like well-worn repeats of standardized (and not very good) stereotypes. Eddie was really the only one that was mildly cute, but there were a few developments with him at the end that I didn’t like. The main character, Talia, your typical tough-talking, yet secretly anxiety ridden professional woman and the only thing that made her different was her extreme naivete—which, unfortunately, was hard to except. Didn’t she watch TV or read novels? Even I know the real moral code (or lack thereof) of the CIA—Talia’s foolish belief that she’s going to carry out her career in the agency like a lady Boy Scout feels unbelievably foolish.

Overall, I liked Talia’s back story and character arc (unfortunately, I saw some spoilers for the big reveal a the end, so it kind of ruined the surprise for me) and I thought her personal theme was a unique one, given the usually more plot-oriented genre, however –

THE THEMES:

Most of the Christian elements themselves felt stilted and rushed as characters leap into faith and accepting God with very little foreshadowing. Most of the stories Christian elements were tied to the main plot-lines so you couldn’t remove them entirely (which ALMOST would have been my first preference, since it felt out of place)—but I wish they had been portrayed with a little more authenticity.

THE DIALOGUE:

There are a few scenes and lines that are generally amusing but, for the most part, most of the dialogue is very unnatural and stilted as it makes self-conscious attempts to be witty or deep by turn.

MISCELLANY:

I did appreciate that the author shied away from any romance with Talia, but I was aggravated that he slated her geeky best friend as “non-boyfriend material” – when I honestly felt that this could have been a cute relationship if he had dared to break the friend-zoned trope.

I felt like there were too many token characters in this book. The international cast felt like a weak salute to Star Trek and each nationality represented feels like a bad parody.

THE PLOT (and the tech):

I gave this novel an extra star for plot originality. Having to perform a heist in the mesosphere was truly an intriguing concept and made for a decently exciting finale.

The author really pushed the envelope of his niche and genre and, in exchange, we got an interesting and unique blend of adventure novel, heist story, spy thriller, and Christian fiction. The author’s true strengths are definitely coming up with unique concepts and writing technical jargon (ala Tom Clancy). In my opinion, this book would have been far better if it had been ghostwritten and some of the plethora of stereotypes had been removed.

SUMMARY:

While there was nothing stellar about the writing or the characters, this was still a mildly entertaining read with some interesting twists. (It was even educational at times: I learned what an ekranoplan is!).

I’ll probably check out the sequel to see how the author can possibly top a heist sequence that takes place in our mesosphere.

 

Annnnnnd, we’re done.  *wipes forehead*

 

 

Okay guys – do you forgive me for this blog post?  *crawls away*  Have you read these books?

Here’s a happy gif.

 

 

Let’s talk, citizens!

 

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10 thoughts on “Revell Reads Reviews

  1. Hey, girl. Hugs! I know writing and posting this article wasn’t easy for you, my happy friend.

    I am hoping to read One More River to Cross. I’m not holding my breath, as I didn’t like the only other Kirkpatrick book I read, but that was many years ago. I saw a documentary on the Donner Party, but I haven’t heard of the group featured in this novel, and that sort of thing oddly fascinates me… even as it breaks my heart. Kind of like my obsession with WWII fiction right now… Ha!

    I hope the next books you read are winners!

    1. Hey Andrea!! Aw, thanks. Haha, not really. *grins*

      Haha! Yes, it was definitely an interesting subject and opening concept. *nods* Hehe, I am ALWAYS obsessed with WW2 fiction. 🙂

      Thank you, my friend! And thank you so much for commenting! <3

  2. Awwwww! ALLISON. It is toootally okay you had to post some negative reviews. (Sometimes I actually like reading negative reviews and…I don’t know what that says about me.) I LOVE how you always keep things light and positive here. It is so refreshing in a world where it seems all people do is complain. I love your heart! But I think we can all forgive you for needing to occasionally rant. No apologies needed!

    I’m sorry all these books turned out to be a bust. That’s always so disappointing. Ugh. I hope your next reads are fabulous to make up for it! <3

    1. Hey Christine!

      Haha! I do too. *guilty grin* I just don’t enjoy writing them anymore.

      Aww, thanks, my friend!! *soft hug* You’re so sweet!

      And thank you for your best book wishes! *smiles* I just need to dive back into my regular genres (middle grade) and I’m sure I’ll find something fabulous soon!

      Your comments always make me smile, Christine! <3

  3. I’m actually reading the Kirkpatrick one now and I feel the same way about most of the story. I’m at 70% and have only semi-bonded with two characters. Normally in stories like this I sit on the edge of my seat and worry who’s going to live or die, but really it’s so jumbled it’s hard to recall who’s where when and what party the folks ended up with, plus a lot of inconsistencies between attitudes and actions. I honestly don’t care if anyone makes it through, other than those two….which is a sad state of affairs.

    1. Hey Hannah! Thanks so much for commenting!

      WOW – I really commend your stick-with-it-ness. I could barely get through two chapters of that book. Aww, yeah. That’s always such a disappointment. :/ With a survival based story like this, I would definitely want to be involved with each character.

      A sad state of affairs indeed!

  4. Heyo! *fist bumps fellow reviewer* I thought that was so brave of you to blog about this. Can I just say you are SO GOOD at telling people what went wrong in the books; I think I would just be like, ‘uh, it wasn’t any good.’ 😉

    I personally quite like dystopian novels, but of course it’s not everybody’s thing. 🙂 Though, I’ve never actually READ The Gryphon Heist…

    1. Hey Abbie!! *fist bumps back* Awww, thank you! *smiles* You’re so sweet! Haha!

      Yep, dystopia doesn’t seem to provide many undecided feelings: either someone does like it or they don’t. I know a lot of people like it but, in general, it’s not exactly my cup of tea. 🙂

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