Thursday, September 21, 2017

Crown of Souls, The Tox Files #2 by Ronie Kendig

Book description:

When You Stare Into the Abyss It Also Stares Into You

The bullet that rips into Cole “Tox” Russell was never meant to kill. It was meant to send a message. Only one man is skilled enough to have taken the shot, a rogue Special Forces operator who vanished months ago.

Alec King is perhaps the only person as skilled as Tox, and he’s out for justice. Furious with orders that got his men killed, he intends to make those responsible pay. And he insists Tox join him, believing they are the same breed of soldier.

Afraid his old friend could be right, Tox battles a growing darkness within himself as he and his team are forced into another deadly encounter with antiquity. It appears Alec is harnessing the power of a mysterious artifact, a crown that history has linked to some of the worst slaughters in humanity. Racing to stop Alec before his vengeance is unleashed, Tox must fight the monster without becoming one.

My review:

I have been a fan of Ronie Kendig's books ever since I read the first one, a suspense/intrigue novel. She went from that to finding her true niche, writing military/special ops fiction. She is not alone in the Christian fiction market with this genre', but she is hands down the best at writing this genre'. She has proven that time after time with each book she has written, and has done so again with The Crown of Souls. And it also shows she keeps getting better and better.

  The Tox Files are different from her other series. In her previous series, she has created a team of guys and focused on a different guy in each novel in that series. In the Tox Files, she has again created a great team of guys, but each book focuses on the same man: Cole Russell, aka Tox. She still does a lot of character development on the other characters in the book, which she always does masterfully, but I have enjoyed the whole series focusing on one character and seeing more character development than normal. And Ronie has created a great and likable, though flawed, character in Cole Russell.

 This series has also been different from her others in that she blends history with the modern, going back in history in between what is happening in the here and now.

 Crown of Souls is the most intriguing novel in this series so far, and the most gripping. At the center of the story is a very misguided former special ops and friend of Cole's, Alec King. King has seen too much bad left unchecked because of politicians decisions, and is now taking things in his own hands, meting out his form of justice and vengeance. He is borderline insane in his lust for vengeance, and is pushed over the edge by an ancient crown that seems to have the power to corrupt the person wearing it.

 Ronie did a great job of portraying the feelings of King, which are echoed in Cole, as he struggles to understand his friend, yet still condemn his actions. I myself have read of the atrocities committed in other countries and how our soldiers are commanded to ignore some things and stand down instead of taking really bad guys out. I can see how a soldier could go over the edge like the fictional Alec King, and how a soldier like Cole could also struggle in that area.

 Slight spoiler alert: one interesting part of this series has been the fact that Cole Russell is dead to  the world, including his parents. I was curious and eager to see where that would go, and found out in this book.

  As to what I thought of the book overall: a word that gets overused, but definitely applies here: awesome. Ronie has outdone herself yet again. The book was a perfect blend of suspense, intrigue, humor, internal conflict, flawed but likable characters,  history, and Christianity. I made the mistake of taking this book with me to work and reading on my breaks, and had a very difficult time putting it down to go back to my job. I loved the book, and can't wait to read the next one in the series.

 I was given a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

 Get the e-book prequel, The Warrior's Seal free on Amazon.

About the author:

An Army brat, Ronie Kendig grew up in the classic military family, with her father often TDY and her mother holding down the proverbial fort. Their family moved often, which left Ronie attending six schools by the time she’d entered fourth grade. Her only respite and “friends” during this time were the characters she created.

It was no surprise when she married a military veteran—her real-life hero—in June 1990.  Married more than twenty years, Ronie and her husband  have homeschooled for the last eighteen years. Despite the craziness of life, Ronie finds balance and peace with her faith, family, and retired military working doge in Northern Virginia.

Ronie has a deep love and passion for people, especially hurting people, which is why she pursued and obtained a B.S. in Psychology from Liberty University. Ronie speaks and teaches across the country and mentors other writers.

Since launching onto the publishing scene in 2010, Ronie and her books have hit bestseller lists and garnered awards and critical acclaim, including:

2015 RT Book of the Year Finalist – Firethorn
2015 INSPY Shortlist – Firethorn and Embers
2015 Lime Award Winner – Firethorn
2012 Christy Award Winner – Wolfsbane (Contemporary Romance)
2013 HOLT Medallion Winner – Trinity: Military War Dog (Best Book by a Virginia Author)
2013 Selah Award Winner  – Firethorn (Fiction – Suspense)
2013 Inspirational Reader’s Choice Award Winner – Trinity: Military War Dog (Romantic Suspense)
2012 Lime Award Winner – Firethorn (Suspense)
2012 Carol Award Finalist – Wolfsbane (Romantic Suspense)
Christian Retailing’s 2011 Readers’ Choice Awards Finalist – Nightshade
2011 Inspirational Reader’s Choice Award Finalist – Nightshade (Romantic Suspense)
Named one of the Top 25 Christian Fiction Suspense, Mystery, and Thriller Writers by FamilyFiction (Sept 2011)
2011 FamilyFiction Readers’ Choice Awards – 3rd place as New Favorite Author, 8th place with Nightshade for Novel of the Year.
INSPY Award Shortlist final in Mystery/Thriller (Dead Reckoning)
The Christian Manifesto’s 2010 Lime Award for Excellence in Christian Fiction (Nightshade)

  Conspiracy of Silence is available from Bethany House Publishing, part of the Baker Publishing Group.

 Thanks to the Crown of Souls Quick Reaction Force Group for the review copy.

Check out Ronie's website at

Download the e-book novella The Warrior's Seal here, which is free at the writing of this review.