Thursday, March 12, 2020

Chasing the White Lion ~ Lone Star Book Blog Tours Review & Giveaway!

(Talia Inger, Book Two)
Genre: Contemporary Christian / Thriller / Suspense
Publisher: Revell
Date of Publication: March 3, 2020
Number of Pages: 384

Scroll down for the giveaway!

Young CIA officer Talia Inger has reconciled with the man who assassinated her father, but that doesn't mean she wants him hovering over her every move and unearthing the painful past she's trying to put behind her. Still, she'll need him--and the help of his star grifter, Valkyrie--if she hopes to infiltrate the Jungle, the first ever crowdsourced crime syndicate, to rescue a group of kidnapped refugee children.

But as Talia and her elite team of thieves con their way into the heart of the Jungle, inching ever closer to syndicate boss the White Lion, she'll run right up against the ragged edge of her family's dark past. In this game of cat and mouse, it's win . . . or die. And in times like that, it's always good to have someone watching your back.

Former tactical deception officer and stealth pilot James Hannibal takes you deep undercover into the criminal underworld where everyone has an angle, and no one escapes unscathed.


Want to be a real hero? Compassion International, a real organization fighting child poverty, stars in Chasing the White Lion. By giving hope and a sense of identity to these kids, they're helping families slam the door on human traffickers. A portion of every book sold will go to support Compassion's work. You can join the fight simply by buying a copy of Chasing the White Lion.


HALL WAYS REVIEW: AUDIO BOOK / PRINT COMBO REVIEW. Confession. I started Chasing the White Lion as an eBook, then decided I had to have it in print, and then, because I couldn’t stand to stop reading, I got it on audio so I could listen while work (that ol’ chestnut) required my attention. This wasn’t a leap of faith. After listening to the The Gryphon Heist, book one in the Talia Inger Series, and then reading just the first chapter of Chasing the White Lion, I knew that I was in for an action-packed thrill fest, and I wasn’t interested in taking reading breaks. ALL IN, no regrets.

The mark of a great book is when I am so pulled-in and consumed by its pages that I forget or can’t be bothered to take notes about it. I was eight or nine chapters in before I remembered that I would be writing a review about the book and should pull some great lines or make some commentary on the writing. But again, that just took me away from the story – and its well-written-ness -- so the notes are sparse. This is a dangerous thing given how my memory isn’t awesome (too much on the brain to retain, you know), but Chasing the White Lion has characters who feel real and meaty plots that stay with you and keep you satisfied long after the reading is done.

“That’s what families do. They catch each other, and they keep going, no matter what.”

DON’T START WITH BOOK TWO unless you have no intention of reading book one. Book two has major spoilers of book one but more importantly, why would you deny yourself the pleasure of reading the two books back-to-back? Of course, you can; author James Hannibal makes sure no readers are left in the dark from the events of The Gryphon Heist. But having an understanding of the relationships between characters enriches the reading of Chasing the White Lion a hundredfold. It’s intriguing watching those relationships morph and grow and change; Hannibal understands the complexities of human nature and crafts personalities that pop with authenticity. Layers are peeling away from each of them, and readers are getting ever closer to seeing what’s at their core. This group of thieves and spies and mercenaries are finding themselves redefined, and I cannot wait to see how they evolve in the next book. (Umm, there better be one.)

“The whole atheist-in-a-foxhole seemed like a cowardly out. But maybe if she was praying for him, that would be enough.”

One relationship that has taken quantum leaps is that of main character Talia’s with God. This is another example of why it’s best to start the series with book one. The series is Christian fiction and a very important part of understanding Talia is understanding her faith journey, which is still in progress (aren't they always?). Readers who jump in with Chasing the White Lion might find the religious aspect heavy, possibly even unrealistic, because they don’t have the characters’ backstories. They miss out on watching faith organically develop for Talia as she sees how others’ journeys and belief systems (or lack of any) impacted their lives and the lives of others. Hannibal continues to build this element and expertly illustrates the power of being a believer and follower of Christ. Powerful, but sloppy when you are a CIA operative trained to eliminate, not to convert.

Hannibal’s imagination is amazing and much as I’d like to believe the scenarios in the Talia Inger series are purely fiction, I can’t help but wonder how much of it is only slightly-veiled truth based on Hannibal’s real-life background in covert operations and stealth technology for the military. How much of it is just a slightly skewed version of reality? Scary stuff, but much like it is for character Eddie, the geek in me thrills at the technology and the clever (though often nefarious) uses of it. Good stuff that's even better given the experiences the author surely brings to the story.

ABOUT THE NARRATION: Returning narrator Mia Barron, again, knocks it out of the park. She is the voice of Talia now, and in all her iterations. Pragmatic, (over)confident, introspective, afraid, angry, reverent – no matter what the emotion, Barron makes it real for listeners. Plus, her performances of male voices and the numerous accents of multiple characters adds an extra layer of enjoyment and learning. (For example, it hadn’t occurred to this Texas girl that the Russian name Oleg isn’t pronounced Oh-Leg. Of course it isn’t, but hearing its proper pronunciation – something close to Alyek -- now makes reading it so much richer.) Barron’s pacing is perfect (I listened at regular speed), and the audio is glitch-free. As I might have mentioned before…there better be a third book, but I will add it better be on audio and with the talented Mia Barron performing.

Truly, Chasing the White Lion has every element that I need, and in perfect doses, to have a completely satisfying reading experience. It’s cerebral, it’s thought-provoking, and it has a neatly-tied resolution so that I’m not plagued with questions or confusion. But I am concerned because of how perfectly the story concludes… Did I mention that I REALLY need a third book? I am not anywhere near ready to let this group go. (*SIDE NOTE: Hannibal is a multisense synesthete, but is he prescient? Does Eddie have COVID-19?!)

Thank you to the publisher, Revell, for doing this series justice and creating a top-notch audio of the book and a supremely edited print copy. Thank you to the author for generously donating a portion of proceeds to Compassion International (I hope audio purchases count). And I thank them both and Lone Star Book Blog Tours for providing me a digital copy in exchange for an honest review – the only kind I give. 

Former stealth pilot James R. Hannibal is a two-time Silver Falchion Award winner for his Section 13 mysteries for kids and a Thriller Award nominee for his Nick Baron covert ops series for adults. James is a rare multi-sense synesthete, meaning all of his senses intersect. He sees and feels sounds and smells and hears flashes of light. He lives in Houston, Texas.

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GRAND PRIZE: Copy of Both Books in the Talia Inger Series
+ Bookstore Candle + $10 Starbucks Gift Card; 
SECOND PRIZE: Copy of Both Books in the Talia Inger Series
+ $20 Barnes and Noble Gift Card;
THIRD PRIZE: Copy of Both Books in the Talia Inger Series  + $10 Starbucks Gift Card
March 3-13, 2020
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