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faith against the wolves

Review: Faith Against the Wolves, by Jonathan Chateau

faith against the wolves cover

I picked up a free Audible code for Jonathan Chateau‘s Faith Against the Wolves somewhere around the internet. Though it doesn’t seem to be available for purchase anymore.

about the book

A professional transporter of supernatural goods has his faith tested when given a chest that contains something allegedly touched by God.

Meet Travis Rail, a professional transporter of supernatural goods. Aside from his martial arts proficiency, skill behind the wheel and solid track record of deliveries, what makes him qualified to do what he does is that he doesn’t believe in the supernatural claims of his clients – which keeps him objective, honest and detached.

Or so he thought.

When his latest client has him transport a chest containing something allegedly touched by Jesus, his world gets turned upside down. Not twenty minutes into the delivery the Rift show up – an underground cult hell-bent on collecting all of the treasures of God. However, it turns out that not only were they after the chest, they were after Travis as well.

“Who exactly are the Rift? Why do they want him dead? And is what he’s transporting truly of Jesus?”

In his quest for answers, Travis is reluctantly thrust into another delivery, transporting yet another one of God’s treasures. And the closer he gets to completing this delivery, the more he learns that what he’s delivering might just be bigger than the package itself.

 

my review

When I started this, the first thing I heard was, “This is Faith Against the Wolves, a supernatural thriller.” It’s quite insistent about being a SUPERNATURAL thriller, insistent enough to put it in the tile of the Audible tract. Which is all well and good, except that it isn’t just a supernatural thriller. It’s a Christian thriller, maybe a Christian supernatural thriller or supernatural Christian thriller, but that Christian really can’t be left out and maintain honesty. I’ve read plenty of books that use religious material as plot fodder and plenty more that have subtle (and not so subtle) religious themes. This is neither of those. This is a flat out religious book. I would go so far as to call it a homily on prayer even. I mean, an angel (among others) comes to Earth to lecture the main character on how to properly pray, for goodness sake.

And I have no problem with it Christian stories generally. But I’m not a fan of proselytizing on the best day and I’m really not a fan of the sneak attack. If an author wants to write religious fiction, fine, but be honest about what it is!

Outside of my annoyance about it not being honest with it’s sub-genre, I thought it was an OK read (listen). An awful lot of it consists of Travis getting beat up and I might quibble with the oh-so-cliched use of a woman using her sexuality as a weapon as a villain. But it has a story that moves along nicely and I appreciate that, for religious fiction, it at least acknowledged Christianity’s bloody past. Chris Rice did a fine job with the narration, though I noticed a few grammatical mistakes. Hard to tell who those fall on though, the author or narrator, but there you have it.

All in all, I’d call this a fine, but not outstanding read for me, personally. Your mileage may vary.

otehr than title

Review: Other Than, by Mia Jo Celeste

other than mia Jo celestI picked up a free Audible code for Other Than, by Mia Jo Celeste, somewhere around the internet. I can’t say that I recall where though.

about the bookIt only takes one drink from the Water of Immortality to kill Evie Woods—halfway. Trapped in undead flesh, the world’s last skin-slider wakens on an island purgatory where a cursed spring bubbles with immortality, and zombie cannibals crave living flesh. Her only hope of escape rests in the hands of the one man who would see her fail. Lord Victor Lowell, the man of her dreams and darkest nightmares. Contrary and intractable, Victor preys on others to maintain his angelic charisma and preternatural prowess.

Trapped in an ever escalating war they can’t stop, Victor and Evie fight time for a cure, but as the long days pass, blackness tears at Evie, ripping her thoughts from her one memory at a time. Victor will do whatever it takes to prevent her from deteriorating into a rotting husk, even if it means dooming himself, but Evie won’t surrender his soul without a fight.

my review
Slightly spoilerish

I will admit this wasn’t anything like what I expected. The blurb’s reference to escape left me expecting a grand, sweeping tale of attempting to get off the cannibalistic island. It’s not that at all. In fact, it’s setting and plot are small and intimate instead, taking place almost entirely within the confines of a single plantation, with a relatively small cast. The thing is that even if it wasn’t what I expected I enjoyed it. It went directions I didn’t expect. The writing is sharp and the Keira Stevens did an excellent job with the narration.

It’s not without it’s problems though. In fact, I’d call it flat out problematic in some of it’s tropes and stereotypes. There’s the fact that it’s set on a plantation for one, and the hero is the lord of the manner. Now, the slaves in question aren’t black people, they’re the ‘zombies.’ But the people of color in the book are definitely represented in the same manner as slaves. They’re derogatorily referred to as ‘the darkies’ at least once, though to be fair that language came from a villain. (Actually, now that I’ve said all that, it’s never articulated that they aren’t actually enslaved, so maybe they are in addition to the zombies, as opposed to instead of.) Either way, it’s hard to see a slave owner as a hero and, while Victor is definitely shown to be trapped into doing some of the evil things he does, this one isn’t addressed at all.

Then there are some of those black characters. Most are fairly characterless, but the cook isn’t. She 100% fulfills the stock-character tropes of being both a “Mammy” and a “Magical Negro.” Large, joyous and female (but stripped of any sense of sexuality) existing solely to assist the white characters and containing the mystical knowledge and sacrificial fortitude to save them all. (In a bit of a twist, this mystical knowledge is the Christian God.)

And since I touched on femaleness, I’ll point out that, other than the heroine, there are three female characters. There’s the Mammy. There’s the hero’s scorned previous lover (whose state of free vs. enslaved isn’t clear, so calling her his mistress is iffy, but that’s how she’s referred to in the book) who is an enemy of the heroine. And there’s the hero’s harridan of a mother who is also an enemy to the heroine. A large part of the book’s plot hinges on her anger at being a set-aside wife. So, all women who compete for a man’s sexual favor are suspect, only sexless women are safe. Gee, that’s a trope I’ve never seen in a book before. Not.

Lastly, there’s the religious aspect of the book. The evil to be defeated is a ‘native’ mystical power, possibly goddess (again, can’t trust those females), and the Mammy’s Christian God is instrumental to saving the hero and heroine (who converts) and are therefore the only ones worthy of survival. I mean God doesn’t come down in a fiery ball of save-your-ass or anything, there is a very real ‘do for yourself’ theme here. But the religious undertones are NOT subtle toward the end of the book.

File this book under sometimes you can enjoy something while recognizing that it has problematic aspects. This book 100% does. But it was still a largely enjoyable read.

Edit: I’ve just looked at a bigger image of the cover, such that I can actually read the tagline, which refers to a character as a slave. So, I suppose that answers the slave question.

Review of Charming Her Rogue, by Dawn Brower

I received a free audio copy of Charming Her Rogue, by Dawn Brower.

Description from Goodreads:

Lady Catherine Langdon is special, and not because she’s the daughter of a duke. She comes from a long line of individuals born with extraordinary gifts, and she is one of the few that has a variation of all three. On the brink of war she makes a decision that will irrevocably alter the course of her life—love or duty.

Asher Rossington, the Marquess of Seabrook, decided at a very early age that he would not live an idle life. His father forbade him from being a spy for the crown, but he chose to ignore it. Ash never regretted his choice, but wished he could have repaired his relationship with his father before he died. Now with the fate of the world in turmoil he has to make another hard decision—remain a spy for king and country, or go home and honor his father’s title.

The Great War brings Catherine and Asher into each other’s lives. Only time will tell if their destiny is to be together, or if they will ultimately serve a higher purpose.

Review:

Both the title and the book description are inaccurate.Wildly so. I kind of even question it’s classification as a romance. At least in the sense that the romance genre is one in which a a love story is central, where the “main plot centers around individuals falling in love and struggling to make the relationship work.” That’s present yes, but it’s barely central.

I’m not actually claiming this isn’t a romance, just that it doesn’t feel as if the romance is central to the plot. The characters fall in love within a chapter of meeting and the whole rest of the book is the war. They pass each other on occasion and tell each other how much they love each other. But the love is established early and there is NO TENSION OR CHALLENGE TO IT. Only the inconveniences of war. And honestly Asher seems to have free movement around France. So, it hardly even feels like that much of an impediment. 

Even the hard decision referred to doesn’t exist. The two are firm in their non-decision to stay in France (as in they never even discuss anything else) until a singular event makes them both decide to return to England. (And that isn’t honoring Asher’s father’s title. That is never a consideration in the narrative.) Since they both have the freedom and funds to make leaving happen in a day there is no difficulty in it.

Also, it’s war and they can leave in a day. That tells you how much tension the war is really creating in the narrative. Not much.

Then there are Catherine’s abilities. They are mentioned. But if you took them out of the book the plot wouldn’t change at all. The single vision she tries to act on doesn’t come to pass and the one that you’d expect her to act on (based on past behavior) she doesn’t. The ‘gifts’ are a pointless plot device. 

And as to the title? Asher is in no way a rogue. There is nothing even remotely roguish about him. In the last chapter he thinks to himself that he had been a rogue before meeting Catherine. But that’s it. He’s kind and gentle and loyal and respectful throughout the book, and there is no reference to him chasing other women in the past. HE’S NOT A ROGUE at all. 

The writing here is perfectly competent, as is the narration. But I felt like the book was just a random series of events with very little tying it all together. Even characters appear and disappear with no point. Why did we meet James, have him disappear and be replaced with Julian? Plus, (as I said above) the description totally is inaccurate. This wasn’t a total flop for me, but I didn’t finish it particularly thrilled.