Don’t Keep Silent by Elizabeth Goddard – Beautiful Setting, Filled with Intrigue and Suspense

Don’t Keep Silent by Elizabeth Goddard is the third book in her Uncommon Justice series.  I had read the second book, Always Look Twice, and was excited to read her new book.

When Rae Burke’s brother Alan asks her to search for his missing wife Zoey she agrees and uses her tenacious and keen investigative skills to try and find her sister-in-law and friend.  As she heads up to Jackson Hole, Wyoming she hopes to enlist help from former DEA agent Liam McKade, but since they part ways last time she’s not confident that he will be willing to join forces and help find Zoey.

Don’t Keep Silent grabbed my attention from the get-go.  It was filled with lots of suspense and twists and turns.  There were some likable characters, but my favorite was Liam.  He seemed like a faithful friend, brave and willing to put himself on the line to protect Rae, try and find Zoey and expose the bad guys and bring them to justice.

Author, Elizabeth Goddard did a good job of describing the scenic area of Jackson Hole, Wyoming during the wintertime.  Made me want to go there on vacation.  The reader is left guessing as to whether some of the characters are good guys or bad guys, and there were some surprises.  The faith aspect of the novel was minimal and confined to mostly one-sentence prayers for protection or help.  I wish the characters’ faith had been more developed, especially with Liam.  I think the book would have been richer if the author had done that.

What I struggled with is the main character, Rae.  Something that really bugs me is when characters do things that don’t make a lot of sense or aren’t logical.  Rae seemed to do that repeatedly, she was emotionally driven and had a high estimation of her own abilities.  Why Liam stuck by her I don’t know.  Rae seemed to have no issue with putting her life on the line, not only hers but Liam’s too.  Not just once but on multiple occasions.  That got old and I found Rae less likable.

I won’t give away the ending, but the ending and reason why Zoey was kidnapped kind of stretched the imagination.  Towards the end, the story kind of dragged and was very convoluted.

There were things I liked about the book, the character Liam, the setting, and the suspense and intrigue, but there were some things I wasn’t too keen on.  I would recommend Don’t Keep Silent if you are a fan of Elizabeth Goddard or you like suspense, mystery, and intrigue.

I would like to thank Revell Publishing for the opportunity to read Don’t Keep Silent by Elizabeth Goddard.  I was provided a complimentary copy of the book but was under no obligation to give a favorable review.

 

The Crushing Depths by Dani Pettrey – Romance, Mystery and Suspense

The Crushing Depths by author Dani Pettrey is the second book in her Coastal Guardians series.  The storyline is why I wanted to read this book.

The Dauntless is an oil rig 38 miles off the coast of North Carolina.  Greg Barnes has had a very bad day and he’s looking forward to having a cigarette break.  When he steps outside, he can hear the environmental protesters chanting.  Do they ever take a break?  When he flicks his lighter, little does he know that his day is going to get a whole lot worse.  Was this a tragic accident or something more sinister?  Former friends are reunited when Rissi Dawson and Mason Rogers are called in to investigate the accident as part of the Coast Guard Investigation Services team.  Before investigators can even reach the Dauntless the action heats up.

What I really liked most about this book was the relationship between Rissi and Mason.  Especially learning of their friendship from when they were young.  I liked the support that the CGIS team gave one another and their friendships.  I appreciated that faith was included through prayer.  I would like to have seen the characters personal faith developed further.  It was interesting learning about what it’s like working on an oil rig out in the ocean.  Those are some of the elements that worked well.

I struggled with the book in a few areas.  There were so many characters that it was kind of hard to keep track.  While I liked the characters, Noah and Brooke, I thought that the storyline involving these characters didn’t advance the main story and was almost a distraction.  I think another book about Noah would be good.  There was a lot of action and at times the story dragged switching between the main story and the one involving Noah.

Something that seemed odd was the personal relationships and romance that developed between characters that worked together, especially in light of how that is viewed in today’s culture.  Since there was a deep bond between Rissi and Mason focusing on their physical attraction seemed unnecessary and perhaps not what I would expect in a book by a Christian author.

I thought that the transitions between storylines within chapters could have been handle better.  I would recommend some kind of a break, like a line, to show the story is now focusing on different characters or have shorter chapters.

If you are a fan of Dani Pettrey or like romantic mysteries, suspense or stories that involve the military you may want to read her newest book The Crushing Depths.

I would like to thank Bethany House Publishers and NetGalley for the opportunity to read a complimentary copy of Dani Pettrey’s newest book The Crushing Depths.  I was under no obligation to give a favorable review.

 

Showdown with Iran by Mark Hitchcock – Sobering, Fascinating, Informative and Well Grounded in Bible Prophecy

When you read the headline news and there are developments in Israel and the Middle East do you wonder how that fits into end-times Bible prophecy?  If you do, then you may want to read Mark Hitchcock’s most recent book Showdown with Iran.  This year began with the news that Iranian General Soleimani was killed in the US ordered drone strike.  Just this week, Iran issued an arrest warrant for President Trump in connection with the drone strike.  So how does all this fit into Bible prophecies about Iran?  What about the nations that surround Israel that are hostile towards her?

In Showdown with Iran, Mark starts by reviewing the current state of Iran and recent hostile acts that seem to lead us ever closer to war.  One of the more sobering facts is that Iran is drawing closer to having a fully functional nuclear weapon in seven to eleven months.  Will Israel be forced to take a preemptive strike to stop that from happening?  If so, how will Iran respond?

I was interested to learn that there is a conflict between Islamic nations in the Middle East, like Saudi Arabia and Iran.  But there are many nations that are in league with Iran and Israel is surrounded by hostile nations.  Today, we are seeing ties between Syria and Iran and interestingly Russia is one of their allies.  How does that line up with Bible prophecy?

Also covered is the history of an important area, the Strait of Hormuz, where oil tankers from surrounding Persian Gulf nations must pass.  They do so under the watchful eyes of Iran.  An important element in the relationship between Israel and Iran is religion.  Bible prophesies about Iran and other Middle East nations are covered as well as the Islamic faith, prophecies, and the differences between Sunni and Shia faith and how those differences impact international relationships.

Something I found very helpful is information about the ancient Biblical names of nations and their current modern-day names.  When Mark disagrees with what other Bible prophecy teachers believe, he explains their conclusions, his conclusions, and why he differs.  Bible end-time prophecies are covered from the books of Ezekiel, Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Revelation and what has already been fulfilled and what is to come.

This most interesting chapter to me was Will America Survive?  When you read Bible prophecy there’s no clear reference to the United States.  Mark does an excellent job of explaining why that is.  The scenarios he puts forth are very sobering and timely especially in light of Covid-19 and recent civil unrest in our Country.

While end-time Bible prophecies could be fulfilled at any time, Mark is cautious and reminds the reader that Scripture forbids date setting.  He brings the reader back putting our hope in the Lord God Almighty, truth found in the Bible and the assurance of salvation found in Jesus Christ alone.

I highly recommend Showdown with Iran by Mark Hitchcock and encourage you to get a copy and read now it before the next eruption of conflict with Iran.  Another great resource is the Marking the Times weekly videos on YouTube where Mark covers various Bible prophecies and current events and to date, he has 119 episodes.

I would like to thank Thomas Nelson Publishers and NetGalley for the opportunity to read Showdown with Iran by Mark Hitchcock.  I was provided a complimentary copy of this book and was under no obligation to give a favorable review.

 

Closer Than She Knows by Kelly Irvin – Interesting storyline, characters and setting. Christian faith was portrayed rather worldly.

I became acquainted with author Kelly Irvin’s writing through her Amish themed books and was excited to read her newest book Closer Than She Knows.

Closer Than She Knows is about Teagan O’Rourke, a court reporter in San Antonio, Texas.  She comes from a family that works in law enforcement.  Teagan’s life is about to unravel as people around her are being targeted by some sicko and she finds herself at the center of an investigation.  Why are these innocent people being targeted?  How are they all connected?  What can she do to stop this before another innocent life is taken?

One of the things I like about Kelly’s writing is how she portrays relationships with family, friends, and co-workers.  I especially like the O’Rourke family, Teagan, her father Dillon and step-family Billy, Gracie, and Leyla.  My favorite character was her friend Max who seemed like a real gem, and her friends Julie and Evelyn.  They were a tight-knit group that cared for one another and were there for each other.

I found Teagan’s job as a court reporter fascinating and learned a few details about that job.  Kelly does a great job describing the setting in the San Antonio downtown area and neighborhood where historic homes were being rehabbed.  It seems inviting and picturesque.  The story is very suspenseful and will keep you guessing until the end.

This book is written by a Christian author and the Christian faith is part of the story.  The best example of that was Max, a man redeemed and dependent upon the Lord each day.  He was gracious and caring.  I found Teagan’s faith to be immature and nominal.  When talking about her reluctance to having children her explanation seemed very secular and lacking faith.  She seemed to care more about the environment than lost souls and sin.  At one-point, Teagan describes herself in very politically correct terms and does not mention that she is a Christian.  Her understanding of the death penalty was not in keeping with what God has declared in the Bible.  Teagan and Max’s physical attraction could have been portrayed a little less worldly.

If you are a fan of Kelly Irvin’s novels or like mystery, intrigue, and trying to solve a whodunit, you may like Kelly’s newest book Closer Thank She Knows.

I would like to thank Thomas Nelson Publishers and NetGalley for the opportunity to read Closer Thank She Knows by Kelly Irvin.  I was under no obligation to give a favorable review.

 

Standoff by Patricia Bradley – Mixed – interesting setting, likeable characters, but too many characters and dragged a bit.

I love mysteries so I was excited to read Patricia Bradley’s newest book Standoff, the first book in the Natchez Trace Park Rangers series.

Standoff is about the rather brutal and ugly business of moving illegal drugs through Natchez Trace National Parkway a corridor that runs from Natchez, MS to Nashville, TN.

Brooke Danvers was looking forward to riding along with her dad District Law Enforcement Ranger, John Danvers.  She has followed in her father’s footsteps and will soon be sworn in as a LE Ranger despite her parent’s concerns.  When John gets a call, plans change and Brooke will have to wait another day.  Only that won’t be happening when John is found dead at Emerald Mound later that night.  His death is ruled a suicide, but Brooke does not believe it and will stop at nothing to find out who brutally murdered her dad.  Old ex-friend and neighbor Luke Fereday is back in Natchez working as an undercover park ranger trying to infiltrate the drug ring.  Not only is he working to stop the flow of illegal drugs, but he too wants to find John’s murderer.

Standoff has a whole of stuff going on.  There are a lot of characters introduced early on in the story, law enforcement, drug dealers, potential bad guys, family, friends. and neighbors.  It was kind of hard to keep all the characters straight.  It would have been helpful to have a key at the front of the book with a list of characters and a brief description.  The first part of the book seemed to dragged, but about midway through the story picked up moved at a faster clip.  The number of characters could have been trimmed down some.

There were a number of things that seemed off or not quite believable.  It seemed odd that Brooke’s mother would leave town so quickly after the death of her husband.  It didn’t seem plausible that Luke could pass off being in town to visit his grandmother because his behavior and weird hours would raise suspicion.  He just happened to show up wherever Brooke was at way too many times.  The scene where Brooke makes a discovery seemed contrived.

I liked the main characters, Brooke and Luke.  My favorite character was Luke’s grandmother Daisy.  The action scenes, especially toward the end were well written and easy to visualize.  I like the setting of the Natchez Trace law enforcement.  I think the series has some good potential.  I will read future books in this series.  I appreciated that the book was clean, not filled with vulgar language or sexual immorality.

I would like to thank Revell Publishers and NetGalley for the opportunity to read a complimentary copy of Standoff by Patricia Bradley.  I was under no obligation to give a favorable review.

 

On a Coastal Breeze by Suzanne Woods Fisher – Unique setting and interesting characters and relationships

I was excited to read On a Coastal Breeze by author Suzanne Woods Fisher.  This is the second book in her Three Sisters Island series.  The first book, On a Summer Tide, introduced readers to the Grayson family.  That’s where I found myself drawn into their story when Paul buys a summer camp on Three Sisters Island with the hope that his three daughters Camden, Madison, and Blaine will help him get the camp fixed up, and back up and running.

A year has passed since the family undertook this adventure and they are gearing up for another summer season of campers.  They’ve settled into living on the island.  Cam is engaged to Seth and she is throwing herself into a project to help the island be energy independent.  Maddie has finally set up shop as a marriage and family counselor on this small island with just over a hundred year-round residents.  She’s about to get a big surprise when the town’s new pastor makes a memorable entrance.  Blaine is home for summer following a year at culinary school and she has a big announcement.

While the setting at Three Sister’s Island is beautiful, the most intriguing part of this story are the relationships.  Not only within the family but with friends and the town’s people.  The Grayson family is interesting, quirky, maddening, wise, unwise, honest, veiled, committed to one another, loving, and supportive.  The characters grow and change.

Something I especially liked about On a Coastal Breeze is how the character’s backstory was filled in.  Just when a character was making a goofy decision or acting illogical, there would be a scene from earlier in their life that helps the reader to better understand the character and why they were acting that way.

Faith and prayer were part of the storyline, especially with the character Maddie.  But there were some thoughts, attitudes, and actions that were ungodly and unkind.  Something in Maddie’s background was revealed during the story.  I would like to have seen the character recognize sin as sin and repent.  Repentance seemed to be lacking.  Instead there was regret and she seemed to rely on or fall back on psychology.  Yet Maddie had some good insight into people and situations.  Cam and Blaine seem to be distant from God and it was reflected in how they responded to life.  Rick, the new pastor was rather unconventional.  His sermons were not quite theologically accurate.  Instead, they were simplistic and there to make a point and relate to a character.  Overall, while faith was included in the story it was not deep.

What I liked best about On a Coastal Breeze where the relationships and how the characters grew and changed.  I wish faith had been more deeply developed in the characters.  It looks like there will be a third book in this series focused on the youngest sister Blaine and I will likely read it.

I would like to thank Revell Publishing and NetGalley for the opportunity to read a complimentary copy of On a Coastal Breeze by Suzanne Woods Fisher.  I was under no obligation to give a favorable review.

 

Remembering Rudy

Oh, how my heart hurts
For my sweet boy Rudy
Has passed away
So sudden and unexpected

I’m surrounded by so many memories
Everywhere I turn
I remember where you were
Because everything has a story

You came into my life during some difficult years
I remember adopting you, this cute little orange kitten
Rather scrappy but oh so full of personality
That boy could purr

When we open the door
You were always there to greet us
You never knew a stranger
Always eager to meet someone new

Perched on your cat stand
You looked out the window
Watched the birds
Then napped in the sun

With patience you waited for your brother Junior
Until he came out of hiding three weeks later
Then you became fast friends for life
Sure, you had your little tussles but they didn’t last

When Sissy came along
You watched and waited for her
Soon she was with you 24/7
How her heart must be hurting right now

I will always remember our drive from California to Texas, 3 ½ days
3 kitties in their carries, 2 birds in a cage, winding our way in 2 cars
Junior and Sissy slept in their litter box and piddled in their beds
Only Rudy got it right

Oh, how my sweet boy loved sunshine
Catching a patch of morning sunshine in the office
Sitting on the tub for early afternoon
Catching the last rays of sun as you lay on our bed

Boy oh boy, did Rudy love to eat
The big boy with the tiny meow
Persistently and loudly let us know it was breakfast time
Getting close to dinner, Rudy was there to keep me on track

Rudy knew the real deal
A piece of chicken or tuna, uh no thank you
Cat treats, No! Wouldn’t touch it!
He stuck with the real stuff, canned food and dry

Towards the end of his days
When his sight was failing
He would tap his water so he could know it was there
Then we would find a little trail of Rudy prints on the floor

Rudy loved to be loved
He loved to meet new people
He made friends where ever he went, even the vets
We often heard, “He is so sweet!”

But he had a special friendship
With our friend Julie
My social butterfly needed companionship
So, Julie came and spent time with him while we were away

When we had guests
The other kitties were scarce
But Rudy safely guarded Ron and Carol
Keeping watch just outside their door

Rudy loved water, at bath time
He would sit on the side and drape his tail in the water
After a shower, he could be found sitting in the stall
Not the least disturbed by the water

Clipping his nails was a breeze
I could easily snip them off and be done
Not so with Junior who has to be tackled
Taking three times longer

Rudy wasn’t fearful or afraid
I never heard him growl or hiss
Towards the end, he was leery of our new dryer
He could see the clothes through the glass door and rushed on by

My favorite time with Ru was nap time
He would never sit on my lap
But he loved to curl up and lay by my side
Tucked safely under the blanket

He slept better than anyone I’ve ever known
And he snored…loudly!
When we let him sleep in our room
He slept the whole night through

It was fun to watch Rudy, even in his old age
Have moments when he was frisky and playful
Batting a catnip mouse on the floor
Or watching the ball go around the cat scratcher

The end came sudden and so unexpected
What seemed like a simple vet visit
Soon escalated into something serious
We had a hard decision to make

You sought to be alone, curled up in a corner
Suddenly, Sissy hissed, was afraid and stayed away
Junior who had been with you for years
Wouldn’t come near and ran away

As you laid in your bed in the sun
Sissy fearfully peered around the corner
With big eyes she watched
Then ran away

As we drove to the vet
I sat beside you
Petting you for the last time
My poor boy, you were suffering and in pain

In tears we held you
Heard you purr your last purr
And then you were gone
Rudy, you took a piece of my heart with you

It’s hard walking in our home and remember you are no longer there
Each room I enter there are memories of you
I miss you my sweet boy, you were my ray of sunshine
Ever so grateful that you were ours for 13 ½ years

Rudy, mama’s sweet boy
Adopted October 28, 2006
Died May 7, 2020

 

The Land Beneath Us by Sarah Sundin – Loved this book and Didn’t Want It to End.

Sarah Sundin has quickly become one of the writers whose work I love to read.  Her newest book, The Land Beneath Us was wonderful.  This is the third book in Sundin’s Sunrise at Normandy series and this book focuses on the youngest of the Paxton brothers, Clay.  Readers of the first two books, The Sea Before Us and The Sky Above Us, will already be familiar with the Paxton’s story.  But it doesn’t take away from this book because you’ll get to see things through Clay’s eyes.

I loved the characters in this book, especially Clay, Leah, and the Paxton family as well as their close friends.  The characters are decent, honest, and caring people whom I’d like to know.  They are kind, but not perfect and have areas they need to grow in.  Forgiveness is a big theme in this book.  It’s was thought-provoking to see Clay and Leah wrestle with forgiveness and see them come to the realization that though they have been wronged they too have sins they need to deal with.

I loved learning about the training and preparation the Rangers and Army went through as they prepared for D-Day.  While this is a small picture of what the men endured in WWII, it gave me a renewed appreciation for what they did as we come up to the 75th Anniversary V-E Day, May 8, 1945.  D-Day was a critical part of winning that battle.

I appreciated that the Christian faith was included in the storyline and that the book was clean and not filled with sexual immorality and vulgarity.  I found it interesting to learn what it may have been like to be an orphan growing up in the 1930s and 40s and the prejudice orphans may have faced.  I loved the courage that Clay demonstrated in battle, in relationships, and looking in the mirror at his own flaws.  Leah also demonstrated and lived out courage and chose to look at the good instead of focusing on the bad.

Though The Land Beneath Us is the 3rd book in the Sunrise at Normandy series, it would make a good stand-alone book.  The author does a good job of filling in the background of what happened with the characters in the first two books.

The Land Beneath Us by Sarah Sundin was wonderful and I was sorry to see it end.  This is a book and series I would want to read again.  I loved this book and highly recommend it.  If you haven’t read the first two books, you may want to read them as well, but it’s not necessary to enjoy this book.

I would like to thank Revell Publishing and NetGalley for the opportunity to read The Land Beneath Us.  I was supplied with a complimentary e-book and was under no obligation to give a favorable review.

My Heart, Ever His by Barbara Rainey – Positively Lovely, A Keeper and Makes a Wonderful Gift to Give

As someone who loves poetry and likes to write writing out prayers, I wanted to read Barbara Rainey’s new book My Heart, Ever His.  This book is positively lovely!

Barbara’s prayers are heartfelt, God-honoring and glorifying.  They are honest, open and transparent.  Kind of like the Psalms, Barbara honestly shares with the Lord what she is feeling, but she comes back to who God is, what He has done in her life and others and who He has revealed Himself to be in the Bible.

I love that Scripture is included in the prayers and in the E-book the Scripture verses are highlighted in a different color and at the end of each prayer is a link to the end of the book where each prayer’s Scripture verses are documented so you can look them up for yourself.

Many of the prayers seemed especially relevant and timely considering all that we are going through as a Nation.  My heart was convicted, encouraged, strengthened.  It is comforting to know other women share similar struggles but also know where our Hope truly lies.  I felt like I was sitting across from a friend who was sharing from her heart about her life.

Even in the Christian community, there are times where we put on a good face and may not always share what we are struggling with.  After reading these prayers, you may desire to be honest and open, but also challenged to not just present only your hurts to the Lord, but go back to God’s Word and be encouraged to remember who He is and what He has done for us through His Son Jesus Christ.

The prayers range from who we are as Christians, God as our Security, physical needs and health, emotional needs, relationships, faith, lives which have turned out different than what we hoped, God’s Word and prophesy, Jesus Christ our Savior, Redeemer, salvation, security, suffering, seasons, and surrender.

I love this book!  My Heart, Ever His by Barbara Rainey is a keeper.  It’s also one that I want to share with others.  I highly recommend this book and look forward to reading it again and again.

I would like to thank Bethany House Publishers and NetGalley for the opportunity to read My Heart, Ever His by Barbara Rainey which was provided to me for free.  I was under no obligation to give a favorable review.

 

The Splendid and the Vile by Erik Larson – Riveting, Interesting, Insightful, Heartbreaking, Thrilling. – If you read only one book this year, The Splendid and the Vile is the one to read.

When I learned that Erik Larson had released a new book, I could hardly wait to read it and was riveted as I read The Splendid and the Vile, A Saga of Churchill, Family, and Defiance During the Blitz.

The book starts out in May 1940, when Winston Churchill was appointed Prime Minister of Great Britain.  It covers the first year of his leadership, but it was a pivotal year and devastating for the entire nation.  It’s almost incomprehensible to imagine what it was like for Great Britain to endure the relentless and vile bombings they suffered from Nazi Germany.  But Erik Larson has taken what is hard to imagine and helps the reader to learn about this unique and brave leader who inspired a nation and helped Great Britain to endure while suffering great losses and come out victoriously as the great evil of Nazi Germany was defeated.

When reading this book, God’s providential hand in raising up the right leader for a nation at the right time is evident.  One can only speculate how England would have fared and how WWII would have ended with a different man as Prime Minister.

Not only do you get to know PM Winston Churchill and his view of the war, but this book really comes to life as you learn about and from the people who surrounded Churchill, what they saw, felt and experienced.  Clementine, Churchill’s wife was every bit his equal and we learn quite a bit about their children, especially their son Randolph and youngest daughter Mary

Those who surrounded the Prime Minister provide insight into Churchill and how Great Britain prepared and fought the war, including from John Colville, Churchill’s private secretary whose diaries documented behind the scenes happenings, to Frederick Lindermann (The Prof) Churchill’s scientific advisor, to Max Aitken-Lord Beaverbrook the man who Churchill believe would help their country ramp-up aircraft production so they could wage an effective air campaign against the Nazi’s.

The book also looks at the war through the lens of Nazi leaders including, Hitler, Goring, Goebbels, Hess and flying ace Adolf Galland.  It was both interesting and horrifying to see how they viewed what they were doing and their ultimate goal to defeat Great Britain.

The Splendid and the Vile is a full-bodied look at Prime Minister Winston Churchill and the people who surrounded him and the people of Great Britain and the suffering they endured.  This is a tremendous book, it’s an interesting, insightful, heartbreaking and thrilling look at history, a strong unique leader and a people who did not crumble when facing great evil unleashed against them.

I highly recommend The Splendid and the Vile by Erik Larson.  If you read one book this year, other than the Bible, this is the one to read.  Especially during this time in our Nation and the world, this book will put into perspective what we are going through compared to what Great Britain and the world endured during WWII.

I would like to thank Crown Publishing and NetGalley for the opportunity to read The Splendid and the Vile by author Erik Larson.  Mr. Larson is a gifted writer and I look forward to reading more of his work.  I was provided with a free copy of the book but under no obligation to give a favorable review.

 

A Long Bridge Home by Kelly Irvin – Interesting Likable Characters and Storyline, But Has Some Wrong Theology

Kelly Irvin has quickly become one of my favorite Christian fiction writers.  Until I started reading her novels, I hadn’t read too many Amish theme books.  I was excited at the opportunity to read Kelly’s newest book A Long Bridge Home, the second book in the Amish of Big Sky Country, which takes place during the same timeframe as the first book, Mountains of Grace.  Wildfires are burning in the mountains near the community of West Kootenai, Montana.

Christine and the Mast family evacuate but do not intend to return to West Kootenai.  Her mother and father have decided it’s time for their family to return to Kansas where her father’s parents live and need help in their older years.  Christine is desperate to stay because of her special friend Andy Lambright.  While they are not engaged, they’ve talked about marriage and seem to be heading in that direction.  Andy is evacuating too, but he’s returning to his family’s home so he can deal with some unfinished business.  Andy and Christine persuade her parents to let her stay a little bit closer in St. Ignatius, Montana.

Christine will be staying with family, but she will be experiencing a whole new world than what she’s used to.  Andy returns home and finds old wounds still haven’t healed and the best remedy is forgiveness, even though he was one who was wronged.  Will his lack of honesty drive Christine away?  Will Christine remain faithful to her special friend?  Or will she be lured away by the excitement of her new friend Raymond Old Fox and a culture that is foreign to her?

I really liked the characters in A Long Bridge Home.  My favorite was Andy, he was an honest and vulnerable and was growing and maturing.  I liked Christine but found her secrecy about her relationship with Raymond betrayed her conscience.  Raymond Old Fox was an interesting character and I liked him.  I wondered what attracted him to pursue a friendship with Christine.  I found it interesting to learn about the Native Indian history and culture and to see some of the similarities to the Amish culture and the contrasts.

Where I ran into some discomfort with this book was how Christine wrestled with the differences in her Christian faith and spirituality from Raymond’s Native Indian culture.  It is interesting to learn of other cultures and what they believe but, as a Christian, we cannot forget that the Bible is the plumbline of truth and of right and wrong, heaven and hell, sin, rebellion, truth, righteousness, forgiveness, repentance, and salvation through Jesus Christ alone.

Christine hesitated to share her faith, in part, because of the mistreatment of Raymond’s Native Indian ancestors at the hands of people who said they were Christians.

I tried to let Christine wrestle through what she was learning and how that differed from what she knew of the Bible.  I struggled with her trying to see her Christian faith and Raymond’s spirituality as equivalent.  Christine seemed to think that Raymond’s belief in a Creator was the same as her belief in the God of the Bible.  At one point she said, “He’s your God too.”  I wanted to tell Christine, “No He’s not…not at this point.”  But I did appreciate that Christine wanted to pray for Raymond and she felt the need to tell him about Jesus Christ even though that was not done in her Amish culture.  I appreciated Andy’s trust in Christine and his more mature understanding of the differences between the Amish and Indian religious beliefs.

Christine had some wrong theology and I highlighted a number of statements and made many notes.  I tried to let the character wrestle with her thoughts and theological understanding.  Ideally, I would like to have wrong theology corrected in the novel, perhaps by another character or by a character’s growing understanding.

Is the right theology important in a fiction novel by a Christian author?  Yes, because that book may influence a reader for right or wrong.

There was much that I liked about A Long Bridge Home, the characters and storyline.  But I struggled with some of the wrong theology the main character expressed.

I would like to thank Zondervan Publishers and NetGalley for the opportunity to read A Long Bridge Home by Kelly Irvin.  I was under no obligation to give a favorable review.

 

Promised Land by Robert Whitlow – Intrigue, Suspense, Interesting Characters Mixed with Fascinating Cultures

When author Robert Whitlow writes a book, I want to read it.  That’s why I was excited at the opportunity to read his newest book Promised Land and I loved it.

Readers are reintroduced to characters from his last novel Chosen People.  Hana Abboud, a Christian Arab attorney from Israel who is living in the United States, her husband Daud Hasan a Christian Arab from Israel, friend and colleague Jakob Brodsky, and dear friends Ben and Sadie Neumann.  While reading this book, I felt like I was being reunited and catching up with old friends.

The story begins with Rahal Abaza in Qatar, five years earlier he had a jarring experience that set his life on a new course that will intersect with Daud and Hana.  Hana is at home and awakens for her night watch, a time of prayer, reading Scripture and worship.  While she does not know the specifics of all that’s going on with her husband Daud, she is praying for him while he is in Egypt on a mission for the CIA.  He will need those prayers for what he’s about to encounter.

From the get-go, Promised Land is off and running.  There’s a lot of suspense, intrigue, and action, but it doesn’t interfere with the development of characters or take the place of an interesting storyline.  It’s well balanced.

My favorite thing about Robert Whitlow’s writing is how he develops characters.  Hana is one of the most interesting characters.  It’s fascinating to see and consider what it’s like to be an Arab Christian who is from Israel.  You would think that there might be conflict, but Hana is a very gracious woman who takes her faith seriously.  She loves her family and is a faithful friend.  I found Daud intriguing and felt on edge with all the situations and people he encounters.  Jakob is an interesting fellow.  He always seems to take on cases that look impossible and that will require a lot of work and research to see if they will pan out.  Ben and his daughter Sadie…absolutely love them.

I don’t want to spoil the story about what happens, so I’ll leave it with a brief intro into the storyline and characters.  But I hope that you will pick up a copy of Promised Land by Robert Whitlow.  It’s the second book in this series but is a good stand-alone book.  You may want to go back and read Chosen People so you can have a richer connection with the characters.

Robert Whitlow is a gifted writer.  He tells a good story and develops rich likable characters.  I highly recommend Promised Land by Robert Whitlow.  If you like action, suspense, intrigue, and interesting likable characters you will like Promised Land.

I would like to thank Thomas Nelson Publishers and NetGalley for the opportunity to read Promised Land by Robert Whitlow.  I was provided with a free copy of this book and was under no obligation to give a favorable review.

 

 

It Is Appointed

Like so many people around our country, I was shocked and saddened to hear the tragic news of Kobi Bryant’s death yesterday, along with eight other people, including his daughter Gianna.  It was shocking…sudden, unexpected and he was so young as were others on the same flight.

I’ve been thinking about death quite a lot in the past few weeks.  One night I was laying in bed praying and thanked God for the gift my husband Chris.  I realized how much my life has been enriched and changed because of him.  He has brought my life new meaning and the everyday ordinary things like cooking and taking care of our home have a purpose.

As a Christian, I know that our death is a divine appointment.  God knows our end before we were even born.  He has determined and appointed our times…our beginning and end, even where we live.

He Himself gives to all people life and breath and all things; 26 and He made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined their appointed times and the boundaries of their habitation, 27 that they would seek God, if perhaps they might grope for Him and find Him…Acts 17:25b-27b

Each day is a gift from God.  It’s important for me to be grateful today and not take people for granted because I don’t know if we will have another day.  More important is the truth that we will all die one day and we will stand before God to give an account for lives.

  • 27 And inasmuch as it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment, – Hebrews 9:27

Every one of us has sinned and broken God’s Law.  We can never be good enough or do enough good works to earn our salvation.

  • 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, – Romans 3:23

That is all of us…you and me!

  • For all of us have become like one who is unclean,
    And all our righteous deeds are like a filthy garment. – Isaiah 64:6a-b

Apart from God sending His Son Jesus Christ to pay the penalty for our sin, none of us would or could be saved.  There is One Way to God…Jesus Christ.

  • Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.” – John 14:6

The death of those nine people on that helicopter was tragic and unexpected.  We should be in prayer for their families, friends, teammates, and co-workers.

But I want each one of us to consider our divine appointment.  We don’t know when it will happen.  We don’t know how we are going to die.  Will we be on our deathbed and have time to repent and confess Jesus Christ as Lord?  Or will our death be sudden and unexpected?  We don’t know that.

  • Behold, now is “the acceptable time,” behold, now is “the day of salvation”— 2 Corinthians 6:2b

Lord willing, you may be granted many more days.  But I beg you…do not delay.  There is nothing more important than making sure that your salvation has been secured.  That your sins have been forgiven.  Because there will be no second chances once we die.

  • But when the kindness of God our Savior and His love for mankind appeared, He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by His grace we would be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.  – Titus 5:4-7

Our Sovereign God…the One who is Holy, Holy, Holy and Righteous, He is the Righteous Just Judge and His Wrath against sinful man is just.

In the parable of the Prodigal Son, we see a picture of our Heavenly Father.  He is standing and looking out and waiting for his wayward son to return.  Here we can see the Mercy and Grace of God…His Lovingkindness and willingness to Forgive.  The son didn’t deserve the father’s forgiveness…but the father was willing to forgive.  God is rich in mercy and He has made a way for sinners to be forgiven, through the sacrifice of His Son Jesus Christ who paid the sin debt of all who will repent and believe.

The Prodigal Son

11 And He said, “A man had two sons. 12 The younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of the estate that falls to me.’ So he divided his wealth between them. 13 And not many days later, the younger son gathered everything together and went on a journey into a distant country, and there he squandered his estate with loose living. 14 Now when he had spent everything, a severe famine occurred in that country, and he began to be impoverished. 15 So he went and hired himself out to one of the citizens of that country, and he sent him into his fields to feed swine. 16 And he would have gladly filled his stomach with the pods that the swine were eating, and no one was giving anything to him. 17 But when he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired men have more than enough bread, but I am dying here with hunger! 18 I will get up and go to my father, and will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in your sight; 19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me as one of your hired men.”’ 20 So he got up and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion for him, and ran and embraced him and kissed him. 21 And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight; I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ 22 But the father said to his slaves, ‘Quickly bring out the best robe and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet; 23 and bring the fattened calf, kill it, and let us eat and celebrate; 24 for this son of mine was dead and has come to life again; he was lost and has been found.’ And they began to celebrate.

25 “Now his older son was in the field, and when he came and approached the house, he heard music and dancing. 26 And he summoned one of the servants and began inquiring what these things could be. 27 And he said to him, ‘Your brother has come, and your father has killed the fattened calf because he has received him back safe and sound.’ 28 But he became angry and was not willing to go in; and his father came out and began pleading with him. 29 But he answered and said to his father, ‘Look! For so many years I have been serving you and I have never neglected a command of yours; and yet you have never given me a young goat, so that I might celebrate with my friends; 30 but when this son of yours came, who has devoured your wealth with prostitutes, you killed the fattened calf for him.’ 31 And he said to him, ‘Son, you have always been with me, and all that is mine is yours. 32 But we had to celebrate and rejoice, for this brother of yours was dead and has begun to live, and was lost and has been found.’” – Luke 15:11-32

Don’t delay…for today is the day of salvation.

 

Collateral Damage by Lynette Eason – Likable engaging characters in a suspenseful story

As someone who loves to read Christian mystery/fiction books, I was excited at the opportunity to read Lynette Eason’s newest book, Collateral Damage, the first book in the Danger Never Sleeps series.

Collateral Damage starts off at an army base in Afghanistan where the men are preparing to arrest a fellow soldier, Isaiah Michaels who is suspected of being a traitor and selling information to the jihadists.  Sergeant Asher James doesn’t believe the allegations because it doesn’t square with the man he knows.  But he has been charged with leading the operation as two MARP vehicles set out to Kabul to arrest Specialist Michaels who has been spotted at a bar.  Military psychologist, Brooke Adams is looking forward to heading home in three weeks.  She’s meeting some friends at The Bistro in Kabal.  When Specialist Michaels tries to catch her eye, Brooke does her best to tune him out and focus on her friends who have become like family so far away from home.

What happens next is just the beginning of an action-packed story filled with suspense and lots of twists and turns.  What information did Isaiah Michaels find?  Did he betray his country?  What accounts for the large increase of adoptions at Morning Star Orphanage over the last year?  How does it all fit together?

I found myself invested in this story because I liked the main characters and I wanted to get to the bottom of the mysteries.  I appreciate that the story did not have filthy language or sexual immorality.  The Christian faith was a part of the storyline and the two main character behavior and choices were influenced by their faith.

I did struggle with the first chapter because it was long and it introduced at least fourteen characters in a very fast-paced story.  After that chapter, the pace and number of characters slowed down.  I think it would have been better to break it up into two chapters.  I did figure out who the bad guy was but that didn’t take away from enjoying the book.  I was interested to find out his motivation.

Collateral Damage is the first novel I’ve read by Lynette Eason and I really liked it.  The best part of the book for me was the engaging likable characters.  I look forward to reading more of her books in the future.

If you like suspense and action with likable characters, read Lynette Eason’s newest book Collateral Damage.

I would like to thank Revell Publishing and NetGalley for the opportunity to read Collateral Damage by Lynette Eason.  I was provided a complimentary copy of this book to read but was not required to give a favorable review.

 

Smoke Screen by Terri Blackstock – Likable Characters in a Compelling Story

Terri Blackstock is on my shortlist of authors, who when they write a new book, I want to read it.  I was excited at the opportunity to read Terri’s newest book Smoke Screen.  She has a way of drawing the reader into the story with an honest portrayal of likable characters with broken lives.

What makes Smoke Screen a good book?  In this book, it was the main characters, Brenna and Nate and an interesting storyline.  Brenna is in a rough season of her life.  She’s had a divorce that she didn’t ask for or want and now she is battling a weak but powerful and strategic ex-husband for the custody of their children.  Nate, an admirable man with proven character, a hero who along with his teammates puts his life on the line to save lives and protect communities when wildfires are burning.

Both characters bring their history of brokenness to the table.  One whose father was murdered and the other whose father was convicted of that murder.  Imagine what losing a father does to a family with children.  It tears them apart and leaves scars that take a long time to heal.  Can the love between two teens possible survive?  What if the man who served 14 years for a crime that he didn’t commit is set free?  How will that impact the families involved as well as the community?  Will the truth ever be made known and will justice be served?

Nate was my favorite character.  A strong man of courage, who lives out his Christian faith with grace and forgiveness.  Yet, even he will have that faith tested.  Brenna, a woman who has been through a lot of tragedy in her life.  Her faith is wavering and her walk is stumbling along.  The secondary characters, especially Nate’s brother and mother were likable too.

There were a few things I struggled with.  One being Brenna’s alcohol problem.  I understand that she was overwhelmed and just trying to get through, but as a Christian how did she get there.  Nate was very solid in his faith walk, except for a couple of areas where his response didn’t seem fitting.  One, when testifying in court he waffled and played loose with the truth.  Two, when Brenna is out of control with her drinking one night, he just lets her drink, to her very public detriment.  I didn’t understand that response.  It didn’t seem fitting of his character, especially when Brenna had so much to lose.

I appreciate that the story included the Christian faith.  There were some good examples, but I would have like to have seen it portrayed deeper and stronger.

I liked this story and the characters, even with some of the messiness and brokenness of their lives.  I really like Nate’s commitment and faithfulness as a son, brother, friend, teammate, and firefighter.

If you like Terri Blackstock, or mysteries and suspense, give Smoke Screen a read.  I found myself thinking about the characters even when I wasn’t reading the book and I was challenged to ask how I would respond if I faced similar situations that the characters faced.

I would like to thank Thomas Nelson Publishers and NetGalley for the opportunity to read a complimentary copy of Smoke Screen by Terri Blackstock.  I was under no obligation to provide a positive review.

 

End Game by Rachel Dylan – Fast Paced and Filled with Suspense, Intrigue and Likable Characters

When I saw that author, Rachel Dylan had published a new book, End Game – Capital Intrigue Book 1, I was excited to read it.

When FBI Agent Bailey Ryan and NCIS Special Agent Marco Agostini were called in to investigate the murder of Navy Petty Officer Sean Battle little did they know that they would be drawn into a complicated, ever-widening case that would prove to be dangerous and deadly.  Where would it end?  Just who was involved?  How deep did the corruption go?  Who can they trust?  Where would their investigation lead?

I loved this book.  It was filled with suspense and intrigue from beginning to end.  What I liked most about this book were the characters.  They were nice, decent, honest people who sought the truth, no matter where their case led.  I liked the lead characters Bailey and Marco as well as the secondary characters Isabella (Izzy) Cole, Jay Graves, Lexi Todd, Tobias Kappen, and Derek Martinez.  They were people of integrity whom I liked and cared about.  They worked together in pursuit of the truth.  They considered the evidence and when things didn’t make sense or didn’t look right, they dug deeper.  Even when it meant risking their own lives.

In today’s culture where we’ve seen the compromise and dishonesty from prominent government officials, it was refreshing to see the integrity of these characters.

I appreciated how the Christian faith was woven into the storyline and supportive friendships.  I liked seeing the cooperation and teamwork between the various military branches and the legal system.  I enjoyed the friendship, trust, and romance that developed over time as Bailey and Marco got to know one another.

If you like intrigue and suspense, mixed with good characters, an interesting story and a little romance, be sure to read End Game by Rachel Dylan.  You won’t be disappointed.  End Game – Capital Intrigue Book 1 will be published on January 7, 2020.  When Rachel Dylan writes a book, I want to read it!

I would like to thank Bethany House Publishers and NetGalley for providing a complimentary copy of End Game and the opportunity to read it.  I was under no obligation to give a favorable review.

 

Hallmark of Sin

Today is a sad and grievous day
As news of Hallmark’s comprise with sin
Has been made known far and wide

It’s ironic that the definition of hallmark includes
Attesting to purity
A distinguishing characteristic

Instead of being part of our culture
Helping us celebrate the holidays
With cards, gifts and ornaments

Hallmark will now be known as an emblem of compromise
Conceding to the loud voices of political correctness
Approving of sin which God has clearly condemned

How is it that a channel once known as family-friendly
Is now putting on display
Applauding and approving same-sex marriage

While our culture and standards are ever-changing
On a slippery slope that approves and promotes sin
God’s Word and His perfect righteous standard will never change

What God in the Bible has declared sin
Remains sin today
How can one embrace and promote that which God will judge

As far back as I can remember
Hallmark has been a part of the Christmas season
But how can I spend money on a company that celebrates sin

Christmas is about Christ Jesus the Lord
A Savior was born, God incarnate
To redeem and save sinful man

It is particularly gross that at Christmastime
Hallmark embraces sin
Sin for which Christ died

Hallmark has bowed its knee
To the loud and vocal groups
That demand acceptance and approval of their sin

Forgetting about families
Trying to raise their children
In truth and righteousness

Disregarding religious groups
Christians and Jews whose standards come from the Bible
God’s Word, which is uncompromising and unchanging

Hallmark is on a slippery slope
Accepting and promoting sin
How long until it works its way into their movies and cards

Why would I now spend money on a Hallmark
It’s not just the TV channel I will turn off
It’s ornaments I will not buy, no more Hallmark cards to send

Though Hallmark has approved of sin
I must stand firm with God
Because at the end of the day

It’s about a human being created in God’s image
One who needs to hear the truth about sin
And forgiveness to the repentant sinner through Christ

By Susan Bunts Wachtel
December 16, 2019

I think Hallmark is shortsighted in giving way and compromising with the politically correct groups that demand acceptance and approval. Hallmark is not calculating that they have offended conservatives who believe that marriage is between one man and one woman and Christians and Jewish believers who believe the Bible is God’s inerrant Word.

It’s not just the Hallmark Channel or Hallmark movies that will be impacted. I won’t be buying Hallmark products, including cards and gifts. I hope that they will revisit this poor and wrong decision that they’ve made. But if not…Hallmark will no longer be a part of my life.

I did call Hallmark at 1-800-425-5627 and spoke with a representative. I asked her to relay that this will impact more than just the Hallmark Channel. She gave me the phone number for the Hallmark Channel, 888-390-7474, which I will also call. I will also follow up with an email to Hallmark (https://care.hallmark.com/s/contactsupport).

 

 

A Perfect Match

When we look at Ron & Carol
We think what a perfect match
Simply made for one another

How many roads have they traveled together
How many places have they seen
How many seas have they sailed

Together they have enjoyed and delighted in
Fishing at the camp
Cooking and trying new recipes together
Fine dining or even the occasional dive
Traveling to places near and far
Simply living everyday life together

How well they have embraced, loved and cared for
One another
Their children, families and friends

Both have a keen intellect
A good sense of humor
They are always willing to lend a helping hand
A listening ear
Wise counsel
And a heartfelt prayer

They have delighted in one another
In their joys and successes
And bearing one another’s burdens

When we think of Ron & Carol
We can’t imagine one without the other
We thank God for them
Bless them
Rejoice and celebrate their Anniversary
15 Years together

By Susan Wachtel
December 7, 2019