Review for The Jerusalem Assassin

The Jerusalem Assassin by Joel Rosenberg

Genre – Political Thriller, Christian Fiction, Suspense

Series – 3rd book in the Marcus Ryker Series

Rating – PG-13 for Suspense and violence

Synopsis –

Marcus Ryker is looking forward to some rest and recuperation after having just returned from a dangerous mission. After working many years in the Secret Service he is transferred to secretly work of the CIA. As he is learning the ropes, an unknown organization begins killing key members of the U.S. government. Marcus begins to suspect something big is a foot. Meanwhile the President is organizing a peace summit between Israel, Palestine, Saudi Arabia, and the United States. Will Marcus be able to figure out who is behind the assassinations before it is too late?

My Thoughts –

I have been reading Joel Rosenberg’s books for years! So when I heard he was coming out with the next book in this series, I was thrilled. Rosenberg usually writes about 1 book a year. So my mom and I are always trying to remember what had occurred in the previous book. It had been such a long time since I had read The Persian Gamble that I had forgotten just about everything. For the most part Rosenberg does a great job juggling the political aspects with suspense and action.

Now I have to say that overall this series was one of my favorites. Most of his previous books take place in Israel or the Middle East like his J. B. Collins series which got a little repetitive. So I appreciated having this series focus more on Russia. It felt fresh and different. The Kremlin Conspiracy was probably my favorite of the three books in the Marcus Ryker series. It felt like something out of a Jason Bourne movie.

This newest installment was a wee bit of a let down. Not to say that it was bad, but it defiantly felt slower and more politically based then character based. Most of the book takes place in closed door meetings with either our bad guys or good guys. So not really any character development. Marcus has stayed the same throughout much of this series. I kept hoping that we would see a change in him or find out more about his past. I also wanted to see more of Peter Hwang or Oleg Kraskin, but these characters kinda got sidelined.

Oleg Kraskin is one of my favorite characters in this series. We got to know him so well during the previous two books and I was looking forward to seeing how he did, now that he was in America. There was one great scene between Marcus and Oleg that made me really happy. We get to hear Marcus be a little more open about his faith and ask Oleg about what his beliefs were.

Despite being labeled as Christian fiction, there is not much Christian content in this series. Honestly, it did not bug me too much as Marcus himself is kinda a quiet person. In The Jerusalem Assassin, we do see Marcus praying or reading his Bible.

I do want to mention that so many of the Middle Eastern characters have similar names. At first I struggled telling who was who. It got better later on. The end fell nicely together and I liked how Rosenberg paced the end.

Language – Two different uses of mild language.

Violence –

Honestly, compared to some of his other books, I felt that the violence was toned down a bit. There are several shootouts. One takes place at a church and a character dies. Several people are wounded and end up in the hospital. A character kills one of the intruders and incapacitates another. Later on we have a character who has surgery to place a bomb inside her. She is a suicide bomber and willingly goes to her dead. In the bombing she kills 23 people and injures many more. A couple mentions of blood and body parts exploding in the air. Lastly, we have another character who has a similar surgery to implant a bomb in his chest. Several characters are killed.

Innuendo – Really only a mention of a character liking another character. That it.

Conclusion –

I always love a good political or action thriller, so it was nice to step back into Rosenberg’s series. Although I cannot say it was my favorite, I had a hard time putting it down. My mom and I had to take turns, which was tough especially for the action sequences. Rosenberg gives us an interesting look at what could happen if there was peace in Israel. Overall an enjoyable read, but would highly recommend reading these books in order. 😉

So over to you guys! What books have you been reading? Read any of Rosenberg’s books? Have a favorite?

Anna

Review for Orbiting Jupiter

Orbiting Jupiter by Gary D. Schmidt

Genre – YA fiction, Contemporary

Series – There are a few characters from some of his previous book, but it is Stand-alone.

Rating – PG – mild language and mild innuendo

Synopsis –

Jack’s parents have decided to foster a boy named Joseph, who has a messy past. He has been to prison, hurt a teacher, and has a daughter. Joseph has gone through things that no 14 year old should go through. Yet, the Hurd’s still want to foster him. Will Joseph and Jack get along? Will the Hurd’s be able to help Joseph?

My Thoughts –

First, I want to mention that, yeah, a 14 year old had a daughter. This all happened in the past so we only get bits and pieces of what happened. I don’t support what Joseph did in any way, but the author does a great job dealing with this topic.

It is a short book only about 200 p. So a easy read. Honestly, it was a breathe of fresh air compared to Atlas Shrugged. Middle-grade fiction can pack a lot in a tiny package. I read this in 2 days. Well, the first chapter on like Tuesday, then read the rest on Wednesday.

I loved this one!! Schmidt does a great job writing from a 12 year old’s perspective!! I had previously listened to 2 other books by this author: Wednesday Wars and Okay for Now. Both were amazing! They take place back in the late 60s. He makes his characters believable which I love. He also sprinkles bits of humor throughout.

The characters were so well done! I love it when authors show parents in a positive light. In Orbiting Jupiter, the parents are so supportive of Jack and Joseph. They want to make a difference in Joseph’s life, and give him something he never had: a loving home. Also Mr. D’Ulney was such a great teacher. He found something Joseph was good at and decided to water that talent. Coach Swieteck is from Okay for Now. It was so neat to see him in this book, although it is a small appearance.

It took me a while to like Joseph as a character. Schmidt only had Joseph talk a handful of times. Most of what we find out about Joseph is from Jack’s perspective. It made me so happy that Joseph loved Jupiter and wanted to be apart of her life!

I would not say this is a Christian book, but there was one scene where the family went to church on Christmas. We hear how Jesus was born. A character asks how can God allow bad things to happen. We see the difference in Joseph’s life after meeting Jack and his family. First, sin entered the world though humans, not though God. Also, God and use hard times and the sinful choices we make for good. If we give our life to him, we can be transformed. While this wasn’t in the book per se, but I think it still applies.

Overall the plot is super simple. Joseph moving in and his stay with the Hurd’s, but it works so well!! Not gonna lie, the ending surprised me. It brought tears to my eyes. At first, I was mad at the author, but once I read the end, it was worth it.

Language – Mild language, really only used maybe 4 times. Also there is a brief conversation about freezing your balls off. (Boys talking about falling in a river) only a few sentences. A couple mentions of Jack hearing words he is not allowed to say.

Violence – We find out gradually that Joseph’s dad abused him. During a conversation Joseph had, he talked about how his face was bruised. That is about it. Not detailed, but just enough to know it happened. The author showed things, instead of telling them. Also, there is a fight at school which leads to a couple characters with bruises and a bloody nose.

Two characters fall into a river. Its a rather tense moment. Jack says he say a dog drown in the river once. Joseph has a scar the runs from his side all the way down to his knee. Also there’s a car accident with a few character’s deaths.

Innuendo – Very tastefully done. Once kiss mentioned. We find out in the first sentence that Joseph has a daughter. Joseph went to Madeline’s house over a summer when her parents were not home. A little bit of talk about falling in love.

Conclusion –

While there are a few content issues, I really enjoyed it!! I probably wouldn’t give this to a middle schooler, despite the fact, that that is the target range. There were many positives elements that made up for the content issues. Overall, I think Orbiting Jupiter was well worth the read! In fact I read bits of it twice! Just goes to show you how much I liked it. 😉 Bring some Kleenex as its a tearjerker.

Have you read any book by Gary D. Schmidt? What are your favorites? Do you like Orbiting Jupiter?

Review for Wildwood

Wildwood by Colin Meloy

Genre – Middle-grade fiction, Fantasy

Series – 1st in the Wildwood Chronicles

Rating – PG for mild peril

Synopsis –

Prue loves her baby brother, Mac, and she will do anything to keep him safe. One day while visiting a park, crows swoop in and steal Mac right out of Prue’s hands. She decides to follow the crows into the Impassable Wilderness to look for him. Prue’s classmate, Curtis, follows her into the woods. As they traverse the forest, they meet many creatures along the way who inform them of the perilous political situation that the South woods are in. As the evil Dowager Governess amasses an army, will Prue be able to save her brother before it is too late?

My Thoughts

This book had been on my TBR list for quit some time, and I am just now getting around to it. I came into it knowing nothing about it except that it was reminiscent of Narnia.

It started out with so much potential with a likeable heroine trying to save her brother from an evil queen. I thought Prue was a relatable character. She did what was right in the face of danger. I also liked Curtis, the quiet friend who sort of tags along for the ride. I would say Curtis had better developmental arc as he had some hard lessons to learn.

It felt like the author was trying to tell 2 stories in 1 book. The first half the book explains the political issues that the Wildwood is experiencing. We see the what goes on in the South wood while Curtis’s adventure shows us what the queen is truly like. Then the story shifts gears and we meet two more different groups of people: the Mystics and the Bandits. The book is long for a middle-grade novel. It clocks in at 544 pages. I feel like the author could have cut the book in half and told the first half just by itself, maybe go a bit more into what the South Wood is like.

I cruised through the first chunk of the book, but then about 30% in I hit a snag and slowed down. Personally, I had to force myself to sit down and finish it. Normally I love these two genres so I don’t know if I’d enjoy having an actual copy to read or maybe this just wasn’t my cup of tea.

One quibble I do have to mention is about the Mystics. They are a very New-age type of group who mediate and speak to the trees. A few of their poses sound similar to yoga. A character offers some advice to another character explaining that we have no control over what happens to us. Something about this just sounded off to me. Several characters mention there being no god. I come from a Christian worldview so I struggled with some of the themes that the author put in there.

Language – Fairly clean, I think only 2 or 3 uses of mild language.

Innuendo – Again, not much there. A character gives another character a kiss on the cheek before a battle.

Violence – The Bandits and the Dowager Governess are at war. So there are several skirmishes mentioned. A couple mentions of dead bodies. A character makes a choice and is taken prisoner. He is put into a suspended cage. A couple times where character shoot at other people/animals. A bird is shot through the chest and dies. During one battle a character is shoot in the shoulder and it mentions his wound bleeding. Another character is shot in the chest and falls down (doesn’t die). Most of this was not very detailed.

Conclusion –

An interesting read that at times did remind me of Narnia. I did like the characters as they all had flaws and issues they were working through. The author did a decent job creating a believable fantasy world, but there were a few issues that I had with it. Glad that I finished it! Now I can move on to something different.

Have you read this book? Did you enjoy it? How’s your April going?

Anna contemporary