Category Archives: Action & Adventure

An adventure story is about a protagonist who journeys to epic or distant places to accomplish something. The protagonist has a mission and faces obstacles to get to his destination. An action story is similar to Adventure, but the protagonist usually takes a risky turn, which leads to desperate situations. Includes spy novels, westerns, superheroes, etc, like James Bond, Dirk Pitt, Indiana Jones, and most stories that include explosions, fight scenes, daring escapes, etc.

Nick and Tesla’s High-Voltage Danger Lab by Hockensmith and Pflugfelder

High-voltage-final72A Series of Unfortunate Events (minus the creepy) + science + build it yourself = a really fun book!

Nick and Tesla’s High-Voltage Danger Lab
Steve Hockensmith
“Science Bob” Pflugfelder
Quirk Books
November 2013

Nick and Tesla, twin teens, are sent to live with their brilliant, but forgetful inventor uncle after their parents take a research job in another country. While acclimating to their new home they uncover mysteries and a series of events that lead to answers to questions they didn’t even know to ask.

Other than a terrific, fast paced science-laden story, the authors include several do it yourself (DIY) science projects to immerse the reader in the story and to build interest in science. A few of them could be dangerous (or messy) so parent are invited to join in on the fun.

The characters are engaging, the storyline clean fun, and the DIY projects included in the book are fantastic.


Scott Asher is the Managing Editor of BookGateway.com. His personal blog is AshertopiA – a land flowing with milk and honey… and a lot of sticky people where he turns real life into stupid cartoons, writes on Christianity, Zombies, and whatever else he wants and posts Bible studies from his classes at church.

This book was provided by the publisher as a review copy.

Falcon Down by Cobb

FD-Cover-Image-mediumFalcon Down is an action packed spy thriller written by C.H Cobb. To be honest, Cobb hit my soft spot with Spy Thrillers. I love the action, the heroes, and the world of the spy. Not surprisingly, Cobb falls into the traditional spy-thriller novel quite well; he has a strong central character that works in the government, practically like a spy and ends up using his skills to rid the world of a different nations evil plans. Even more intriguing, however, is the internal struggle of the character.

Falcon Down
Falcon Series 1
by C.H. Cobb
Doorway Press
June 2013

Major Jacob Kelly is the spy-like figure and main character of the book. While working on a top-secret mission, his unarmed aircraft gets shot down. Open being captured, Kelly has to use his training to withstand torture and, ultimately, escape from the both the compound and country of his captors. It’s an action packed book, which left little room to be bored. Despite his amazing skills, Kelly struggles with the act of killing people. Although he feels he must, his conscience often pricks and prods him, telling him that it’s wrong. This internal struggle is vital throughout the entire novel.

Despite my overall enjoyment of Falcon Down, there were some minor aspects about the book that I hope will be resolved for any subsequent parts of this series. First off, the format of the book was tiresome; within chapters there are numerous dividing lines that section off different ‘scenes’ or ‘narratives’. This is a stylistic aspect, without question, but I firmly believe that Cobb would have had a more effective story had he elaborated on many of the scenes to form their own chapter and or nixed some of the shorter scenes. The many divided sections within a chapter, though at times useful, became too abundant and created what felt like unnatural breaks within the story. Even without that reason, however, I would still vote for fixing this up somehow just to keep the story more fluid and less choppy.

Secondly, it is evident that Cobb is a pastor and he is aiming to talk about Jesus in some way within the novel. It came as a pleasant surprise, however, when I barely noticed any talk about Jesus or religion. This is not to say that I do not advocate talking about Jesus; rather, I believe many fictional works written by Christians could become more successful and effective if they do not overtly talk about Jesus (think, for instance, The Chronicles of Narnia, by C.S Lewis). Eventually, Cobb did talk about Jesus through some of his characters dialogue. But, it really did seem forced into the story. I’m not creative enough myself to think of a way in which Cobb could have subtlety made his message about Jesus clear, but I’m sure there is one. Sometimes, as an author, the best thing you can do is show instead of tell. It is clear that Kelly has an internal moral struggle, so maybe a more effective way of communicating the gospel through this book would be to probe into the characters heart and mind more deeply, showing how he comes closer to a conversion to Christ through his actions and internal debate. All in all, it’s a minor issue, but one that would have gone a long way for me had it been resolved from the beginning.

It’s with happiness that I recommend Falcon Down to anyone who enjoys an action packed story. You will be excited and on the edge of your seats throughout the entire book. For myself, I’m looking forward to the next part of the series and would enjoy reading the sequel!


Michael Krauszer is the owner/founder of Christian Literature Review. Currently he is a senior at The College of New Jersey, working to complete his BA in English, along with attending Veritas Evangelical Seminary for his MA in Theological Studies. If you’re an author and would like him to review your book, contact him at Mike@Christianlitreview.com

This book was provided by the publisher as a review copy.

His Majesty’s Hope by MacNeal

imageMaggie Hope is back – this time on a secret mission to Berlin during World War 2. It’s supposed to be a quick in and out drop off and intelligence run… Supposed to be.

His Majesty’s Hope
Maggie Hope #3
by Susan Elia MacNeal
Bantam / Random House Audio
May 2013

Maggie quickly makes things more complicated by deciding to stick around a little longer to gather intelligence when an opportunity to work for high ranking officials opens up. This leads to daring escapes, dramatic fights, terrible persecution and a fun story set in an era that is one of my favorites.

[MILD SPOILERS] The problem I have with this novel is that I’m constantly being jerked out of the story due to the questionable ethics being promoted by the main characters and cliché storylines. I despise when everyone in a story is related (although they may not know it at first.) The main bad guy is who? The helper at university is who? The boyfriend is where? Are there only 10 people in the whole world? Why must we go back to this tired form of storytelling?

As far as ethical issue, sure Maggie Hope is like a female James Bond so sleeping around doesn’t surprise me as much as it should considering that this is a World War 2 era story with a female protagonist. Her roommate being a (smart, fashionable, witty) gay man just trying to live his life in peace with his gay lover (who of course get attacked for being gay by some drunk ruffians). It’s just so cliché!

And consider the other heroine, Eliza, who wants to be a nun and seems to take her faith seriously except that she enjoys frequent premarital sex in the alley outside dance halls. (And who is related to our protagonist, of course.)

But Eliza’s hypocrisy is part of an anti-religious theme in the book that I didn’t appreciate. Along with Eliza, Maggie’s main contact in Berlin went to school to be a priest but is a borderline abusive, mean-spirited, sour man who never comes across as interesting, smart, or sympathetic. And he is terrible at apologetics. (Or great at being Maggie’s straw man.)

Consider how terribly this man answers the witty, smart, charming atheist Maggie about the issue of pain and suffering in Berlin. The man says that the pain and suffering and evil is something God provides to mold us and teach us lessons. While it is true that Christianity believes that God uses suffering we don’t believe that God is responsible for evil and suffering. This is a step too far and reveals a negative bias by the author against Christianity. The arguments that the wannabe priest make are merely set-ups for Maggie to knock down; easy straw man arguments create for Maggie, the atheist, to win. And why is there conflict anyway? Many of the greatest heroes from World War 2, especially in Germany, were the Christians who sacrificed everything to undermine the Reich. (Consider Bonheoffer, for some more knowledgeable and appropriate responses to Maggie’s questions.) And there really ought not to be a conflict between science and religion either, but that is the way the author chooses – the easy way – instead of really wrestling with the question of evil in Hitler’s Germany.

The story is fun and Maggie is a charming character. But the way the book heavy handedly promotes carnality and atheism made the story less enjoyable for me. And I believe can also cause issues for the other 80% of the world that believes in a faith tradition.

I don’t recommend it.


Scott Asher is the Editor-in-Chief of BookGateway.com. His personal blog is AshertopiA – a land flowing with milk and honey… and a lot of sticky people where he turns real life into stupid cartoons, writes on Christianity, Zombies, and whatever else he wants and posts Bible studies from his classes at church.

This book was provided by the publisher as a review copy.

The Battle of Verril by Lallo

verrilThe final book in The Book of Deacon trilogy, Myranda and the Chosen must face the invaders from another world. But the generals of the D’karon are fearsome enemies that apparently can’t be killed. Even more troubling, the prophecy that brought the Chosen together states that only four of them will survive the final battle, and one will die.

The Battle of Verril
The Book of Deacon #3
by Joseph Lallo
CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform
July 31, 2012

As the final book of the trilogy, the author’s writing shows quite a bit of improvement, and I can only imagine that the act of writing such a lengthy trilogy was a growing experience and a labor of love.

That said, it was quite a labor to reach this point in the story, and there are plot holes and problems from the previous books that continue to overshadow the successes made with this final chapter of the trilogy.

The characters, both good and bad, actually begin to take on more layered personalities, but their rocky foundations still leave much to be desired.

As final battles go, things continue as you would more or less expect them to. Although I couldn’t help but wonder why a war that has lasted for over a century and was supposedly engineered by an invading force from another dimension would only just now be reaching its conclusion.

In the end, the overall story isn’t bad, just poorly executed. The entire series would have probably done better as a single book and with a generous amount of editing. Still, the author has shows quite a bit of improvement and has since written a few side stories that take place in the same universe, but have a much higher quality of writing.

Anyone who has managed to make it this far, should definitely check out some of the author’s later works.


Matthew Scott is the Dark Fantasy & Horror Editor of BookGateway.com who describes himself as just another average reader who enjoys sharing his opinion on various books, authors, and whatever else may cross his path.

The Great Convergence by Lallo

greatconvThe second book in the The Book of Deacon trilogy, picks up directly where The Book of Deacon left off. Now that two of the Chosen have been found, it would seem the Perpetual War may finally end. But Lain isn’t interested in stopping a war, and while the prophesied spirit named Ether has finally been summoned, she has emotional bearing of a petulant child. With an end to the war in sight, Myranda has taken up the charge of finding the remaining Chosen, but dark forces are gathering to oppose her.

The Great Convergence
The Book of Deacon #2
by Joseph Lallo
CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform
July 31, 2012

Delving a little deeper into the world, The Great Convergence actually starts to build up to a workable plot. Unfortunately, it still suffers from a lot of the problems that plagued the first book. The overall story is still rather convoluted, and the characters too often come across as flat archetypes.

We do, however, finally have a villain or troupe of villains to address. As it turns out, Myranda’s world is being invaded by forces from another dimension, and the war that is currently being fought is really just an excuse to wipe out humanity.

But the villains all come across as the exact same, and I honestly had trouble trying to keep their names straight, since they all seemed to be clones of one another.

Myranda attempt to actually take charge in this book, but since she has no means of forcing the Chosen to act, her attempts to direct them just comes across as whining and nagging.

Lain remains flat and dull as he constantly broods in the background, and his friend Desmeres is little more than greed incarnate. (Actually both characters seem to have absolutely no moral compass and are motivated solely by their own selfish reasons, so it’s little wonder they get along.)

Ether and Ivy are introduced and act like spoiled children throughout the entire story. Ether is snobbish and cruel, looking down on everyone but Lain and herself. Meanwhile, Ivy has all the social grace and attitude of a five year old. And while it’s clear that the author wanted Ivy to be painted in a sympathetic light, her childlike naivete and constant whining wear on the nerves rather quickly.

Ultimately, the story doesn’t really go anywhere, since once again, the narrative comes to abrupt end and we’re left to wait for the next book. But for anyone who has bothered to read this far, the final book is more of an inevitability than anything else.

The Book of Deacon by Lallo

bookofdeaconOrphaned, homeless, and alone, Myranda is a young woman who is just trying to stay alive. The Perpetual War has been raging across the land for years now, and Myranda is one of the few people who sees the constant bloodshed as a waste of life. Her views make her unpopular, and she is forced to wander from town to town seeking shelter. Her life is completely changed, however, when she finds a dead soldier in the frozen wastes and ultimately takes his place in a prophecy that might just save the world.

The Book of Deacon
The Book of Deacon #1
Joseph Lallo
CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform
March 18, 2012

Before diving too deep into this book, it should be noted that this is the first in a trilogy. However, unlike a traditional trilogy, the books aren’t self contained stories. Instead, the narrative in the first two books simply drops off and is immediately picked up in the sequels. This makes it a bit difficult to get a clear picture of the overall story from just one book.

As for the characters, themselves, they’re rather poorly designed. Myranda is hopelessly passive and spends the majority of the book being tossed from plot point to plot point. The fact that she has all the personality and bearing of a sack of grain makes her a poor protagonist. She isn’t so much a part of the story as the story happens to her.

Leo/Lain might as well have truly been two completely different characters as his entire nature changes halfway through the first book. We aren’t really given an explanation for his sudden shift in personality, except that the story seemed to call for it.

The rest of the characters randomly appear and disappear, all for the sake of moving the scenes along. Their personalities are little more than archetypes to the point that they might as well have been named like the seven dwarfs in Snow White (Happy, Grumpy, Bashful, etc.).

And then the book ends. Where we’re going and why we’re going there is never really explained beyond a few vague references to a prophecy. The story does pick up and improve as we move to the second and third book, but it still has a tendency to drag.

If you’re looking for something fantasy based that is light, fluffy, and doesn’t require too much thought, the book isn’t too bad. But if you’re not willing to read through all three books to get the whole picture, I’d advise you not to even start.


Matthew Scott is the Dark Fantasy & Horror Editor of BookGateway.com who describes himself as just another average reader who enjoys sharing his opinion on various books, authors, and whatever else may cross his path.

Bad Radio by Langlois

badradioDuring WWII, Abe Griffin was a member of a special task force that took on the strange and supernatural. One event in particular, however, left its mark on Abe. Now, sixty years later, Abe hasn’t aged a day, is preternaturally strong, and can heal from just about anything. But Abe’s abilities are more than they seem. The same ritual that gave Abe his abilities is being recreated, and the man responsible is determined to finish what he started. All he needs is Abe, and he’ll kill anyone that gets in his way.

Bad Radio
The Emergent Earth #1
Michael Langlois
CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform
August 21, 2011

Corpses and living people filled with parasites, giant worms, and blood rituals ensure that there is no shortage when it comes to gore in this particular tale. Throw in some psychics and obscure magic and you’ve got yourself a story. Or so you’d think.

But the truth is that this story just suffers from plain old bad writing. Characters are mortally wounded one moment and then they’re fine the next. Nobody even questions the fact that Abe seems to be able to heal from multiple stab wounds in minutes until three-fourths through the story. (Although no explanation is given as to how everyone else is alive and up walking around. All that blood has to come from somewhere.)

The story also has a nasty habit of using any and every lull to drop into lengthy exposition. I honestly almost laughed during one scene where a character was lying on the ground, supposedly bleeding to death and waiting for an ambulance, but manages to have an entire cellphone conversation chronicling Abe’s past.

Even worse is the fact that some of the exposition is literally a repeat of information already shared. It’s as though the characters have forgotten the details of each other’s lives, despite the exact same conversation having happening two chapters ago.

Really, I could go on, but the point is that the book is a mess. There’s already a sequel and I imagine this first book is meant to be part of a series or a trilogy, but I honestly don’t think I could bring myself to read more.


Matthew Scott is the Dark Fantasy & Horror Editor of BookGateway.com who describes himself as just another average reader who enjoys sharing his opinion on various books, authors, and whatever else may cross his path.

Abhorsen by Nix

Abhorsen2Concluding the Abhorsen Trilogy and picking up where Lirael left off, Abhorsen details the final battle between our heroes and Orannis, the Destroyer. With an evil necromancer and a Greater Dead manipulating Nicholas Sayre, the problem of Orannis’s resurrection has been solved by an unlikely fusion of magic and science. To make matters worse, the current Abhorsen Sabriel and King Touchstone are no where to be found. Lirael and Sameth must stop the Destroyer and save Nicholas, but neither are experienced enough to carry out such a monumental task. But if the Destroyer awakens, all their lives will be lost.

Abhorsen
The Abhorsen Trilogy #3
by Garth Nix
HarperTeen
October 6, 2009

Abhorsen brings the events of Lirael into fresh light and finally reveals the truth behind Lirael’s past, Sameth’s skills, and the origins of the Disreputable Dog and Mogget.

Much of the history of the Old Kingdom is explained, and we learn just how this strange and complex world was originally created. Of course some mysteries still abound, but answers to the larger questions are finally revealed.

Nix skillfully ties together the various threads of plot, and brings the story to a satisfying climax in which good and evil, life and death, and creation and destruction must battle to win. Of course no victory is assured without sacrifice, and Nix does well to draw the reader in with the promise that not all of our heroes may survive.

Looking back over both Lirael and Abhorsen, a lot of information and quite a few events are thrown at the reader. By the time I got to Abhorsen, I found myself in need of a refresher, having long forgotten some of the smaller details and side characters presented in Lirael.

With that in mind, I would strongly recommend anyone interested in the later story to at least start off with Sabriel as a way of easing into the more complex landscape of Lirael and Abhorsen. As far as good fantasy books with a touch of darkness go, I definitely recommend all three books.


Matthew Scott is the Dark Fantasy & Horror Editor of BookGateway.com who describes himself as just another average reader who enjoys sharing his opinion on various books, authors, and whatever else may cross his path.

Lirael by Nix

liraelpbFourteen years have passed since the events of Sabriel, but all is not well in the Old Kingdom. In the second book of The Abhorsen Trilogy, we are introduced to Lirael, a daughter of the Clayr. However, unlike most Clayr with their dark skin, blond hair, and light eyes, Lirael is pale to almost white and her hair and eyes are black. Even more troubling is that Lirael has never once shown any sign of possessing the Sight, the ability to see into the possible futures and the birthright of the Clayr. But Lirael may be more than she imagines, and her life among the Clayr may soon be coming to an end. Something more terrible than the Greater Dead is coming and Lirael’s unique heritage may make her the only one able to stop it.

Lirael
The Abhorsen Trilogy #2
Garth Nix
HarperTeen
October 6, 2009

As is the case I find with the second book of many trilogies, Lirael doesn’t have a true ending. Instead it suddenly cuts off and is picked back up in the third and final book, Abhorsen.

The content of Lirael is much more in depth, however, and we are introduced to a host of new characters and dynamics. Sabriel, Touchstone, and Mogget all return, but they are no longer the central characters. Instead we meet Sabriel’s children, Ellimere and Sameth (although not much focus is given to Ellimere), as well as Sameth’s friend from Ancelstierre, Nicholas Sayre.

Part one focuses mainly on Lirael and her adventures with The Disreputable Dog, whereas part two switches to Prince Sameth, who struggles with his title of Abhorsen-in-waiting and the knowledge that he must one day take over for his mother.

Part three, brings Lirael and Sameth together, but ends with Nicholas missing and a terrible, ancient force threatening to be released.

Since much of the book is effectively just build up and only half of the whole story, it’s hard to really judge the book or its content. Nevertheless, I will say that the book did a wonderful job of immersing me back into the world of the Old Kingdom. Divided into three parts, each sub-story has it’s own mini-plot and challenges, while slowly introducing us to the characters.

The pacing is quite a bit slower than in Sabriel, but the story is just as captivating. It’s definitely worth a look.


Matthew Scott is the Dark Fantasy & Horror Editor of BookGateway.com who describes himself as just another average reader who enjoys sharing his opinion on various books, authors, and whatever else may cross his path.

Sabriel by Nix

sabriel_coverSabriel is the daughter of the Abhorsen, a man tasked with ensuring the dead stay dead and are not left free to feast on the living. But Sabriel has been going to school in the non-magical land of Ancelstierre, where magic doesn’t exist and few believe such a thing even exists. However when her father goes missing, Sabriel must travel past the Border into the Old Kingdom and take up the title of Abhorsen for herself. The Greater Dead are stirring and something very old is threatening to break free past the gates that separate Life from Death.

Sabriel
The Abhorsen Trilogy #1
Garth Nix
HarperTeen
October 6, 2009

The story of Sabriel is a very simple one, yet Nix weaves a very complex world of ancient magic and necromancy. The author doesn’t waste time with history or back story, and instead dives head first into the action. What little we do learn about the magic, necromancy, and the Old Kingdom is slowly pieced together through information spread out through the story.

Yet Nix’s easy going pace and simple prose doesn’t require the reader to understand more than the basic of concepts. At it’s heart, this is really a story about a young woman growing up, experiencing love, and finding her place in a confusing and troubled world.

If I had one complaint about Sabriel, it is that there wasn’t more. While Nix’s approach is sure to make the reading more palatable for those not wishing to be bogged down with the finer details, I found myself utterly swept away by this amazing and complex world. But the author expertly slips us only a taste of the Old Kingdom’s history and never tells us more that we absolutely need to know.

Fortunately, Sabriel is only the first in the Abhorsen trilogy. The book stands alone quite well, however, and even those not interested in continuing to the sequels are sure to enjoy this remarkable tale.


Matthew Scott is the Dark Fantasy & Horror Editor of BookGateway.com who describes himself as just another average reader who enjoys sharing his opinion on various books, authors, and whatever else may cross his path.