Obsession by Patricia Bradley – Mixed Feelings

Obsession by Patricia Bradley is the second book in the Natchez Trace Park Rangers series.  I’ve read a couple of books by Patricia and looked forward to this book because of the interesting setting.  

Emma Winters works as a Natchez Trace park ranger and historian.  She is overseeing a project to document and preserve the graves of the slaves who had been buried on this historical site.  As Emma is getting ready to head home, her day’s about to get a whole lot longer when someone takes a couple of shots at her.  Called in to help investigate is her former fiancé Sam Ryker who also works as a park ranger.  While things didn’t end well between them, Sam wants to find the person who is targeting Emma and get out before any feelings between them are revived.

I struggled a bit with the novel.  I wasn’t too keen on the main character, Emma, she wasn’t a very likable character.  She was the independent woman who was also the helpless stubborn female who didn’t want help.  Parts of the story seemed rather contrived to keep Emma and Sam in regular contact.  There wasn’t a lot about faith in this book.  I think the story would have been richer if that aspect of the characters’ lives had been developed.  There were three people in the book that struggled with unforgiveness, Emma, Sam, and Sam’s sister Jenny.  I would like to have seen at least one of them have a biblical perspective and understanding of forgiveness.  Sam did work his way through the unforgiveness he had been harboring.

Something I can’t stand in books is when a character does something really stupid and illogical which puts them at risk and in harm’s way, which Emma did towards the end of the book.  When that happens, I stop caring about the character because I feel manipulated and it’s not logical. 

The character Sam was likable, but I didn’t understand why he continued to be drawn to Emma.  Emma’s continued to blame Sam, and herself, for her brother’s disappearance ten years earlier.  That got old really quick!  She blamed others instead of recognizing her brother’s own personal responsibility for his life choices and the risks he took. 

I liked the character Sheriff Nate Rawling and hope to see him in future books in this series.  He seemed to respect and trust the team that he was working with and was there to work alongside them.  The Natchez Trace park setting was interesting. 

There were a few elements and characters I liked in Obsession, but they were overshadowed by a character and parts of the storyline I didn’t care for. 

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

Network of Deceit by Tom Threadgill – Filled with Mystery, Intrigue, Suspense – You Won’t Want to Put It Down

It was the storyline, filled with mystery, suspense, and intrigue, that drew me into reading Network of Deceit by Tom Threadgill

On the heels of a highly publicized successful case, Detective Amara Alvarez has been transferred to the homicide division and she’s been assigned her first case.  A young teen, Zachary Coleman, has died at a local waterpark.  The cause of death is not clear and the tox screen won’t be back for weeks.  While there are no clear indications of murder, there’s some suspicious details that Amara wants to investigate.  She’s not one to wait patiently on the sidelines but will take a closer look and delve into the evidence until she has an answer, one way or the other.

The storyline was intriguing, and the evidence was peeled back one layer at a time.  The suspects, Zach’s friends Matias, Haley, and Liam were interesting and obviously trying to cover something up.  But was it related to Zach’s death or was there something illegal that the teens were caught up in?  I enjoyed reading how Amara would reexamine the facts and suspects over and over again until a crack appeared.

My favorite part of the book was the characters, Amara, her coworker Detective Jeremiah Peckham (otherwise known as Starsky).  The relationship between Amara and Starsky was special, they obviously cared about each other and respected one another.  But was there something more going on between them?  I enjoyed Amara’s large and close family especially her mom Maria and Maria’s boyfriend Wylie.  Amara’s family were the kind of people you would want to get to know.  Once you’ve met them, you’ll be welcomed back.  Though work was a big part of Amara’s life, her family was more important and she made time to be with them. 

I very much enjoyed reading Network of Deceit by Tom Threadgill.  It held my attention from the first page to the last.  The plot was interesting and the characters were likable, relatable people that I cared about.  Even the “bad guys” were interesting.  They weren’t vilified to the point that you hated them, but you got to know what made them tick and what made them go down the wrong path.  I didn’t want the story to end.  I hope that these characters come back in future novels. 

You know a book is really good when you are thinking about the story or characters when you aren’t reading the book.  Though faith was not a big part of the storyline, I appreciated that this was a clean book, with no foul language or sexual immorality.  Tom Threadgill knows how to tell a good story, he’s a good writer.  Tom skillfully develops the characters and moves the plotline along as he unveils the mystery and builds suspense.  I look forward to reading more of Tom Threadgill’s books.

I highly recommend Network of Deceit by Tom Threadgill.  I would like to thank Revell, a division of Baker’s Publishing Group for the opportunity to read a complimentary copy of the book.  I was under no obligation to give a favorable review.

When Twilight Breaks by Sarah Sundin – Mixed Feelings

I love reading Sarah Sundin’s historical fiction novels and that’s why I was excited to read her newest book When Twilight Breaks.  This story starts before the beginning of World War II.  Unlike her earlier WWII novels, this story is not focused on characters in the military. 

Evelyn Brand is an American correspondent for American News Service based in Munich, Germany in 1938.  She has a few strikes against her, she’s a woman, young, and will do whatever it takes to get a story.  Evelyn wants to expose the truth of what’s she’s seeing no matter whose toes she’s stepping on.  Denied the opportunity to go where the action is at, Evelyn was sent to do a softball story about American students and their experiences at the University of Munich.  It’s there that Evelyn meets Peter Lang who is working on his Ph.D. in German.  Evelyn and Peter couldn’t be much different.  He appreciates what he sees in Germany, the changes that have happened since 1932 with prosperity, no unemployment, seemingly secure and very orderly.  Peter takes a fancy to Evelyn, though it’s not mutual, he is not easily deterred.

I struggled a bit with this book.  Evelyn’s character was rather off-putting.  She came across as judgmental and a know-it-all.  I felt like I was reading a story with a modern-day woman being put in the middle of a story in the 1930’s.  Something that’s common in today’s movies and TV shows is to portray men as being inferior to women.  I almost felt like that was what I was seeing and it surprised me in a book from an author who is Christian.  Evelyn was shown to have the moral high ground in recognizing the wrong road Germany was headed down.  Peter was depicted as someone who was somewhat blind to the changing atmosphere in Germany. 

My favorite character was Peter.  Though he was slow to start seeing the growing threat to Jewish people in Germany, once he recognized it, he didn’t hesitate to try to help people who were being victimized.  He was kind, caring, patient, and ready to put his life on the line and risk everything he had worked for to help a friend in need.

I did like the secondary characters, Evelyn’s friend Elizabeth White, Herr Gold and Peter’s friends the Schreiber family, and Paul and Simone Aubrey.  There were some heartwarming and good surprises about friends as well as vile words and behavior from so-called friends. 

Regarding the Christian faith, there wasn’t a lot about faith included in When Twilight Breaks.  It was “Christian lite” on the substance of faith and the Gospel was not shared.  I think the book would have been richer if that element of the story had been developed. 

The views of men and women in this book seem to reflect a more secular view from today’s culture.  I was pleasantly surprised by the change in Evelyn.  At first, she seemed selfish and ready to put people at risk for her cause, but later she learned the importance of being interdependent and putting others first. 

It was somewhat eerie reading about the growing intolerance for people who were deemed inferior since we are beginning to see that in our own Country.  A good warning to not go down that path. 

I had mixed feelings about this book.  I liked the character Peter and grew to appreciate Evelyn’s passion to get the truth out about what was happening in Germany.  It made me think about what it must have been like for the people living in Germany, both the Jewish people who were being persecuted and the German citizens who saw what was going on.  I found it both sobering and terrifying. 

I wasn’t keen on the feminist aspects of this book, especially in light of it being written by a Christian author and published by a company that publishes Christian books and authors. 

Would I recommend When Twilight Breaks?  I like Sarah Sundin’s writing, she’s a good storyteller.  However, I think this book was not as good as some of her other books because of what felt like a feminist agenda as opposed to telling a story.  It was informative, disturbing, and interesting to see the progression of Germany going down the wrong road. 

I would like to thank Revell Publishing Group and NetGalley for the opportunity to read When Twilight Breaks by Sarah Sundin.  I was under no obligation to give a favorable review. 

My Words Will Not Pass Away

Morning glory Lord! Father when we read Your Word, there is so much think about, meditate on and contemplate. Like learning from Jacob or meditating on Your goodness and kindness to mankind. But as a Christian, especially during these days there is nothing more comforting than to think about Christ’s return, of Him gathering up His church and the end of days. We do not know the day or hour of Christ’s return, yet we seeing signs that it’s closer with each passing. In these days where truth and justice is not upheld, help Your people to cling to Christ, Your Word and the surety that we have in the knowledge that You will fulfill Your promises. Help us to endure to the end, where we will be saved, delivered, preserved, safe from loss and destruction. May we proclaim the Gospel of Christ to those who don’t yet know You. May we pray boldly to the God who is able to do exceedingly, abundantly, more than we can ask or imagine. May we pray for the salvation of those whose lives seem so lost. Because nothing is too hard for You. As we see churches and pastors and teachers abandoning Your Word for the wisdom and solutions of mankind, help us to remain steadfast in reading and studying the Bible. May it be the plumbline by which we evaluate everything else. We come to You in the name of the One who holds us safe and secure in His hands. The One whom You testified, “This is My Beloved Son in whom I am well pleased.” The Way the Truth and the Life, no one comes to the Father except through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen!

Divine Abandonment

One of the YouTube channels that we regularly follow is Mark Hitchcock’s channel Marking the Times. We really enjoy the talks he has about Bible prophesy and what’s happening in our world currently.

The most recent episode is very sobering. I would encourage you to watch and pay close attention.

When I read the last half of Romans 1, I can’t help but see the downward spiral and progression of sin. As the chapter continues it says, “God gave them over…” That giving people over to their sin and depravity is called Divine Abandonment.

When you see our Country and around the world, you can’t help but see what’s listed in Romans 1:16-32 being played out.

The only hope we have is a merciful God who sent His Only Begotten Son, Jesus Christ to come and be born of a women, live His life perfectly without sin. As the Son of God and Son of Man, He alone was worthy and able to bear our sin debt. He bore the wrath of God that we deserve, He paid the price for our redemption from sin, so that we could be forgiven.

What is required of us? To repent of our sin (agree with God that we have sinned and turn to God and ask for His forgiveness) and believe in Jesus Christ, that He is who He said He is and that His death on our behalf paid the penalty for our sin.

I’m sure many of you have felt the heaviness of what we see going on in our Country. It’s much bigger than loosing an election. It’s seeing our Nation in a downward spiral. But we also have a confident hope and assurance of our salvation. Whether we die or are raptured one day, we know eternal life has been bought and paid for on our behalf by Jesus Christ. He holds us secure in His hand.

If you don’t yet know the Lord, I would ask you pray for God to reveal Himself to you. Watch this video, read the Scriptures, Romans 1 and read Revelation where we learn about the end days and what will happened when God’s wrath is unleashed upon a sinful world. Read the Gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John and see who Jesus Christ was, who He said He was and what He came to do.

Don’t take my word for it, read the Bible for yourself. If you feel like you have led a horrible life of sin and can’t be forgiven, that is a lie straight from the pit of hell. A broken and repentant sinner, God will not cast away. If you choose to reject Jesus Christ and continue in sin, then you will bear the wrath of God for eternity.

Eternal life is not just for Christians. Those who reject God and the forgiveness He offers through His Son Jesus Christ, will also have eternal life. Instead of heaven, it will be hell and eternal punishment.

Please know that in no way do I look down on anyone and think I’m better. I’m not. The only reason I will have eternal life is because God had mercy and compassion on this sinner. He opened my spiritually blind eyes to see. He opened my ears which were deaf to Him. He took this heart of stone and made it a heart of flesh. He helped me to see my sin, repent and turn to Christ Jesus the Lord. And He can do the same for you.

None of us knows the day and hour when we will die. When we will have that last chance to repent of our sin and believe in Jesus Christ. Don’t delay…this literally the most important decision you will ever make.

The Crown in Crisis by Alexander Larman – The Man Who Should Have Never Been King

I wanted to read The Crown in Crisis – Countdown to the Abdication by author Alexander Larman because I had heard about the King Edward VIII’s abdicating the throne for divorcee Mrs. Wallis Simpson.  I didn’t know any of the details other than the fact that Mrs. Simpson was an American who was twice divorced.  It all seemed very romantic and like true love that would bring a man to give up the throne of England to be with his beloved.

Well, I was in for an awakening.  As I write my thoughts about King Edward VIII, I need to divorce my feels about him from what I think about this book.

As the man was portrayed in this book, I found King Edward VIII to be an arrogant, rude, immature, vapid, insufferable, selfish, boring jerk who focused on himself instead of others.  He put himself over and above the Country he had been entrusted with.  Mrs. Wallis Simpson wasn’t much better.  She seemed to be on a quest for power and money and used sex or whatever she had to entrap men, including King Edward VIII.  Wallis was not twice divorced, but once when she started committing adultery with King Edward.  As part of their weird relationship, a plan was implemented for Wallis to divorce her current husband so the two could marry.  But they made it look like Wallis’ husband was the one who was committing adultery and she was the innocent one.  Their adultery was blatant and it fractured Edward’s relationship with his father, King George V. 

Not sure if the book accurately portrayed Kind Edward VIII and Wallace Simpson?  It may have been accurate.  Obviously, when a man is ready to toss the crown away for a woman who uses people, they will make a few enemies along the way.  It was hard to tell if the author had a negative viewpoint of the King and Mrs. Simpson, or if the preponderance of information about them was negative from the people who surrounded them during this timeframe. 

Regarding the book, apart from two very dislikable people, it had some negatives.  The book came across as very gossipy, and you know gossips are not always the most reliable source.  At times, I found the story and scenes confusing in how they were written.  It has long sentences that made the point hard to follow.  There were volumes of people in this book, too many to really tell the story in a straight, interesting understandable manner.  Some of the accounts were very confusing and skipped from one person to another.  There didn’t seem to be a logical order, especially about to the attempted assassination of King Edward VIII.  At times, the author went into too much detail and pursued rabbit trails that took away from the story instead of making it richer.  It seemed like the author had so much information about King Edward VIII and Mrs. Simpson from the many, many people that surrounded them that he included it all in the book.  I’m sure he left a lot out, but I found this book was not written in a fashion that made drew the reader in and unveiled what happened during this crisis in an interesting, logical, and organized way. 

I hated the first chapter, it was gross and vile in what was said and seemed to be rumors, innuendo, and speculation as opposed to facts.  Throughout this book, I noted many times that it seemed gossipy.  If I hadn’t agreed to read the book and give a review, I would have closed the book and not finished it.

I did find that the last third of the book interesting.  You would think if someone wanted to walk away from the throne, they could hand over the reins to the next one in line.  Not so.  It was a huge crisis for England and there were a lot of politics and power plays that were happening and of course, family relationships that were impacted.  This was the part of the book that was most interesting. 

King Edward VIII was a man who should have never been king.  From the beginning, I thought it was God’s providence that spared England from a weak self-absorbed king, as the nation would soon be in a war for the survival of their nation and the free world. 

Would I recommend this book?  Probably not.  Take into account the good and bad information and make a decision if you would like to read it.

I would like to thank St. Martin’s Press and NetGalley for the opportunity to read the The Crown in Crisis by Alexander Larman.  I was provided with a complimentary copy of this book and not under any obligation to give a favorable review. 

Love the Lord your God

Morning glory Lord! I thank You for the clarity of Scripture, it is the plumbline by which we should measure all other things. It is the mirror by which we should examine ourselves. It is truth and that which varies from Scripture I should disregarded. You have commanded Your people to love You with all our heart, mind, soul and strength. Help me to not have a divided heart. May my soul find joy and peace in You alone. Help me to love You with my mind, read Your Word and know what You have revealed about Yourself. Let me know You and Your Word for myself, not solely through secondhand teaching. Let me be a Berean and search the Scriptures so that I know if a teacher or pastor is accurately teaching Your Word. May my heart and mind be captivated by Christ Jesus with a holy devotion. May my strength and effort be devoted to You. You have told us that if we love You we will keep Your commandments. You have commanded us to love our neighbors as ourselves. Lord, we are able to do that when we love others with the love Christ has shown us. Help us to walk one day at a time with our focus on You. Thank You for Your Son Jesus Christ. Thank You for His sinless and holy life. Thank You for the truth He boldly proclaimed. Thank You that He was fully God and full Man, that He our compassionate, merciful, gracious Great High Priest, Savior and Sacrifice. Thank You that by His death the sin debt of all who repent and believe was paid. Help us to walk through the power of the Holy Spirit in wisdom and truth. It is in the name of the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world that we come to You. Amen and amen!

Triumphal Entry

Morning glory and evening grace Lord! What was it like, the day of Jesus Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem? People spread their garments on the road before Him and cried out, “Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord.” The prophesied day had arrived. Those who knew the Scripture should have anticipated His arrival. As jubilant as the crowd was celebrating King David’s descendant, a few days later they would cry, “Crucify Him!, when Pilate asked what he should do with the King of the Jews. As horrifying as it is to think about, that’s what Christ Jesus came to do. The sinless Son of God would be put to death on a cross like a common criminal. Not for anything He did wrong, but because that was the plan from before the foundations of the world were laid. Before the first sin was committed Jesus knew He would be born of a woman. The One who is fully God would be fully Man. He would die on a cross bearing the punishment for all who would repent and believe in His substitutionary sacrifice on our behalf. Lord, never let me forget the price that was paid for my redemption by my Kinsman Redeemer. Let me not take my sin lightly or turn a blind eye when others sin. Let me daily wage my battle with sin. Let me meditate on Your Word, be washed by the Water of the Word. Let me eagerly tell others of the One who loves their soul. It’s in the precious name of Jesus Christ Lord, God and Savior I come to You. Amen!

Faithful Servant

Evening grace Lord! When we read Your Word Lord, we are amazed because there is so much to see. So much that is going on. We see that You are a faithful God, a covenant keeping God. You made a covenant with Abraham and his descendants. Abraham was 100 years old when the son You promised was born to him and Sarah. You promised that they would have descendants as numerous as the stars of heaven. When Isaac is 40, Abraham send his faithful servant off to find a bride for Isaac from among his people. Abraham is confident that You will lead his servant to the right place and people. When he arrives in Nahor, he prayed a prayer to his master’s God. You answered his prayer down to the finest detail and showed lovingkindness to his master Abraham. I can’t help but see not only were You at work to find a bride for Isaac, but You also revealed Yourself to Abraham’s faithful servant. He bowed down and worshiped You. Lord , You are a God who cares and You desire that all would come to repentance and salvation through Abraham’s descendant Jesus Christ. Not just a Man, but God incarnate. You are the One and Only God who saves. We come to You in the name of Your Beloved Son, the One who was a Suffering Servant who bore our sin on the cross. Hallelujah, what a Savior. Amen!

Abraham, Abraham!

Morning glory and evening grace Lord! May I never forget that the Bible is history, filled with real people and real circumstances. When I read the story of Abraham taking his son, his only son Isaac, up to the mountain to offer him as a sacrifice as You commanded, I can’t imagine what Abraham must have felt. You had told him the day before what he was to do. He didn’t drag his feet or delay but got up early. He split the wood that for the fire and walked with son Isaac up the mountain. What did they talk about? Was Abraham’s heart heavy, or did he remind himself what we read in Hebrews 11:17-19, that God who had promised descendants through Isaac was able to raise him from the dead? Abraham bound Isaac and was ready to slay him when he heard, “Abraham, Abraham!” You knew that Abraham feared You and held back nothing. In reading this account, I can’t help but think of Christ Jesus, Your only begotten Son. Unlike Isaac, Jesus knew what would happen and He was the willing sacrifice. Jesus carried the wood for His sacrifice on the cross. Not a pile of firewood, but huge heavy cross. This time there would no voice from heaven stopping His sacrifice. Jesus’ dead body would be removed from the cross. He would be placed in a borrowed grave where He would rise three days later. Your beloved Son in whom You are well pleased. This was Your plan from before the foundations of the world. Can I confess, doing good to my enemies doesn’t come naturally. But that’s what You did. While we were still Your enemies Christ died for us. Thank You Lord for the greatest gift we could ever receive. Thank You Jesus for being the sacrifice in our place. Thank You Holy Spirit convicting us of sin and bringing us repentance. We come to You in the name of Your Beloved Son Jesus Christ…Amen!

Backlash by Rachel Dylan – Likeable Characters, Interesting Storyline, Filled with Intrigue

I’ve read several books by Rachel Dylan and really enjoyed them.  That is why I was excited to read her latest book, Backlash, the second book in the Capital Intrigue series.

Layla Karam is a CIA Analyst, which fits her perfectly, but because of her skills, she has been pushed to work as a field agent.  Her assignment was part of a DEA operation in Honduras.  The team is back in the US, but they are not safe because someone is targeting the team.  Following a break-in, bombing, and murder, Layla is just trying to stay alive and figure out who is targeting her and the team?  Is it someone from the drug cartel?  Is there a mole within the CIA or DEA?  Why in the world is Layla at the center of an IG investigation?  To get through this mess, she’s going to have to seek help from the one person she’d like to steer clear of, her ex-boyfriend Hunter McCoy. 

I really like Rachel Dylan’s writing style.  From the get-go, she draws the reader into the story.  The characters are likable, and the storyline is interesting.  Several mysteries are going on in Backlash.  Who is behind the murder and attempts to kill the DEA Honduras operations team?  How did straight and narrow, law-abiding Layla end up the subject of an IG investigation?  The characters from the first novel End Game have returned in Backlash, including NCIS Agent Izzy Cole.  Layla is not the only one facing an investigation.  Her friend Izzy is a prime suspect in the murder of her former police sergeant that had sexually assaulted her.  Layla and Izzy will rely on the support and help of good friends who care.

I appreciated the friendships, people who were committed to each other.  There were some surprises in this book, like who the “bad guy” was.  I was guessing but got it wrong.  Faith was a small part of the book, mostly seen with Layla’s character.  I appreciated that this was a clean novel.  There were times towards the end that the story seemed to drag a bit, but I still liked this book.

I would recommend Backlash, especially for those who like suspense, mysteries, intrigue, or stories involving law enforcement.  I look forward to reading more of Rachel Dylan’s books and the next book in the Capital Intrigue series.

I would like to thank Bethany House Publishers and NetGalley for an opportunity to read a complimentary copy of Backlash by Rachel Dylan.  I was under no obligation to give a favorable review. 

Burden of Proof by Davis Bunn – Fascinating Storyline and Interesting Characters

While I’ve never read any books by Davis Bunn, I was intrigued by the blurb on the cover of Burden of Proof

Who can say that they don’t have things in their life that they regret?  If given the chance to do things differently, would you?  That’s the dilemma that’s facing Ethan Barrett.  He’s been given a death sentence by his doctor, and his time is short.  When he meets his sister-in-law Sonya, whom he hasn’t seen in thirty-five years, she is seeking his help to try and change the course of history.  Ethan wasn’t there with his brother Adrian was shot and killed on the courthouse steps.  If he had been there, would the circumstances have changed?  Ethan is about to find out.

This book is very different from what I typically read.  It’s got a bit of science fiction in the storyline.  Davis Bunn is a good writer because he draws the reader into the story from the get-go.  I don’t take much of an interest in surfing, so I was surprised to like the main character Ethan and enjoy reading about his experiences, what he saw and felt while surfing.  I found the characters very likable and appreciated seeing the characters grow and change.  Early in the book, I didn’t much care for Sonya, but as the story progressed, I really saw her in a new light and came to like the character.  The story was interesting to contemplate and had mystery and intrigue too.  I appreciated the details describing the settings where the story took place because it helped me to envision scenes as I read.

The book is published by Revell Publishing, which is a Christian publisher, so I had hoped that the Christian faith would have been woven into the storyline.  But it wasn’t.  Towards the end of the book, Ethan is talking with a friend who encouraged him to live life with an eternal perspective.  While that was thought-provoking, the story could have been much richer if the Gospel of Christ had been included and woven into the characters’ lives.

I found that the last section was a bit much with the courtroom scenes and Adrian questioning his wife Sonya about her scientific research.  I wish it had been clearer and more concise.  There were allegations hinted at about the company that wanted to buyout Sonya’s company.  Not sure why, but they seemed to dance around it instead of making a clear and straightforward assertion about their motives.

Though the Christian faith is not a part of the story, I appreciated that there was no profanity and the story was clean. 

All in all, I very much liked Burden of Proof by Davis Bunn.  The storyline was compelling and fascinating.  The characters were interesting and well developed.  I look forward to reading more of Davis Bunn’s books.

I would like to thank Revell Publishing for the opportunity to read Burden of Proof by Davis Bunn.  I was under no obligation to give a favorable review. 

The Escape by Lisa Harris – Interesting Story and Likeable Characters

I love reading books filled with mystery, suspense, and intrigue and that’s why I was excited to read The Escape by Lisa Harris, an author whose work is new to me.  This is the first book in the US Marshalls series. 

Could it really be five years since Madison James’ husband Luke had been murdered?  Her life had been changed forever, but she had thrown herself into her career as a US Marshall.  Though it was an important anniversary, she had a job to do, transporting two prisoners from Seattle to Denver.  She would be joined by US Marshall Jonas Quinn, with whom she had trained a few years ago.  Jonas had just moved back to Seattle, though he was planning for a couple days off, duty called.  Any hope for a smooth prisoner transport was quickly abandoned as their private plane crash-landed in the forests over Idaho.  Just because their plane crashed didn’t mean their job was over. 

I really enjoyed reading The Escape.  From the get-go, I found this book very engaging.  The characters were likable, and the storyline was interesting.  I liked the rapport between Madison and Jonas and that they had mutual respect for one another.  There was a little bit of romantic attraction and it was expressed appropriately for a Christian book.  I liked how the characters were revealed over time as they got to know one another.  I’ve never read anything about the US Marshalls and learned a little bit about this law enforcement agency.  The author was good at describing the scenic settings. 

I very much liked this book, yet there were times that the story seemed to drag.  The number of times the escaped prisoner got away and posed a threat to the general public seemed a bit much.  I wondered in real life that if a US Marshall had been foiled by the bad guy too many times, would they be fired? 

Something else that didn’t seem realistic was the plane crash where both Madison and Jonas sustained injuries.  But those injuries didn’t seem to stop them in their quest to get the prisoner.  The story wasn’t wrapped up entirely at the end, but it appears that there will be a book two where their story will carry on. 

I love finding a new author whose work I like and look forward to reading more books by Lisa Harris.  What I liked best about her writing is how she develops relationships. 

If you like suspense, mystery, intrigue, romance, or books on law enforcement, I recommend The Escape by Lisa Harris

I would like to thank Revell Publishing and NetGalley for the opportunity to read The Escape by Lisa Harris.  I was under no obligation to give a favorable review. 

Point of Danger by Irene Hannon – Mixed Emotions

Irene Hannon is one of my favorite writers and that’s why I was excited to read her newest book Point of Danger

Conservative radio talk show host Eve Reilly is used to getting hate mail, but one evening she encounters something a whole lot scarier, a bomb package on her doorstep.  Eve calls 911 and while she waits for the police to arrive, she tries to make sure that her elderly neighbor Oliva gets to safety as well as her neighbor’s dog that she’s pet sitting.  Rookie detective Brent Lange will be the officer investigating the case and trying to find out who hates Eve enough to want her dead. 

This book has an interesting premise and some likable characters, but it also has some issues that take away or detract from the storyline.

What worked in this novel?  I liked detective Brent Lange and I cared about the character.  He seemed like a stand-up guy, loyal and dependable, who cared about people.  I liked Eve’s sisters Grace and Cate, they seemed to genuinely care about their sister and were there for her during this crisis.  I kind of, sort of liked Eve.  I appreciated that Eve saw qualities in Brent that were admirable and that she tried to communicate with him in an effective way to draw him out.  I rather liked the story told from different characters’ points of view, but with so many characters it got a bit much. 

What didn’t work?  There were a lot of characters in this book and too many potential suspects.  There was Eve’s boss Doug and Carolyn a competitor who wanted Eve’s job.  There was Eve’s assistant Meg Jackson and her husband Steve.  Eve’s former boyfriend was a suspect.  There’s a suspect that is not identified until later in the book and then there’s the brain behind the operation that is way out of left field.  That one kind of stretched the imagination and that aspect of the storyline could have been better developed.

While the word Christian wasn’t specifically used to describe Eve, there were references to Eve going to church and praying.  But there was not a lot in Eve’s behavior or words that would lead me to believe that she was a Christian.  Some of the early scenes between Eve and Brent focused on their physical attraction, which seems particularly odd considering that she just had a bomb scare.  I don’t think that Eve’s character was well developed, in part because the focus was on her words and actions.  The character was a local conservative talk show host, not national, and that’s why it seemed odd that this local gal would be the target of a hate group. The relationship between Meg and her husband Steve went into some details that I found not appropriate in a book by a Christian author and publisher, as was the relationship between Doug and Carolyn. 

There were some aspects of the Christian faith developed in Brent, but not so much with the other characters or storyline.  That’s something I would have like to have seen focused on with the characters.  One thing stood out towards the end of the novel, Eve’s sister Cate said, “Right or wrong, I’m not wasting any prayers for recovery on his behalf.”  Really?  This is not a Christian book, but it’s written by an author who is a Christian and published by Revell which publishes books by Christian authors.  Should books published under a Christian banner be held to a different or higher standard?  I think they should. 

I like politics so that aspect of the book was interesting to me.  But I thought adding the Antifa aspect in this story was probably not the best.  The group was cleaned up compared to what people have seen on the news for the last few months.  I found it was naive at best when they were described as using intimidation, carrying signs that said, “Down with Government Oppression”, and using smoke cartridges to emit smoke without causing harm. 

I would like to thank Revell Publishing and NetGalley for the opportunity to read a complimentary copy of Point of Danger by Irene Hannon.  I was under no obligation to give a favorable review.

Before the Crown by Flora Harding -Interesting Read

The story begins in 1943, Elizabeth is 17 years old, and she and her sister Margaret are doing a play at Windsor Castle.  Elizabeth is peeking out from behind the curtains to see if Prince Philip is in the audience.  She has a crush on the Prince and is hoping to see him again.  The story covers the next four years of their relationship.  Was it love and romance?  Or was it a practical arranged marriage between royalty to form alliances?

I found the story interesting, especially contemplating what a young woman’s life would be like as a princess.  In many respects, as the heir apparent, her life and choices were not her own.  I’m curious to know if this fictional account captured what Elizabeth’s personality was like.  The character had a solemnity about her because of the responsibilities that she would take on in the future.  Philip was quite a contrast to Elizabeth.  Though older the character came off as somewhat immature and irresponsible.  He was pressured by family to think practically about his future and opportunities and he wavered between that and desire for freedom and to live his life how he wanted to live it.

The book started out a little slow but picked up midway.  With each scene, I got to know a little bit more about Elizabeth and Philip.  Her father, King George, was an imposing character but you don’t really get to know him apart from his interaction with Elizabeth and Philip.  It was interesting to see their lives against the backdrop of WWII and the years after the war. 

I liked Before the Crown and found this book very interesting.  I wish that the author had included information about what was true and taken from facts and information versus what was fictional.  There is some profanity in this novel.  This book makes me want to read a biography about Queen Elizabeth and get insight into this woman who has been an influential figure for 58 years. 

What I liked best about Before the Crown is that it made me think about what it must be like to come from royalty and have great responsibilities thrust upon you.  I came away with a new respect for Queen Elizabeth.  While reading Before the Crown, I found online pictures of Queen Elizabeth as a young girl from Town & Country Magazine.  It was fascinating to see pictures of Elizabeth in connection with this historical fiction account.

I found Before the Crown, by Flora Harding, very interesting and enjoyed reading it.  If you like historical fiction, romance, or have an interest in royalty you may want to read this book.

I would like to thank publisher One More Chapter and NetGalley for an opportunity to read Before the Crown by Flora Harding.  I was provided a complimentary copy of the E-book and was under no obligation to give a favorable review. 

Acceptable Risk by Lynette Eason – Mixed Review – Action Packed, Intrigue, Suspense but had a Character Issue

Acceptable Risk, the second book in the Danger Never Sleeps series.  Author Lynette Eason is relatively new to me, but after reading Collateral Damage, I was excited to read her latest book.

Journalist Sarah Denning is stationed in Afghanistan, where she was kidnapped along with children from the school where she had been teaching.  Desperate, Sarah attempted to send an SOS message for help.  That help comes through former Army Ranger Gavin Black who has been hired by Sarah’s father, Lieutenant General Lewis Denning.  If she had known who had sent the help, she might have tried something different.  When Sarah is back stateside and recovering, Gavin remains by her side to protect her from unknown threats that keep on coming.

Acceptable Risk is a fast-paced book, packed with action from the get-go.  My favorite character was Gavin Black, a kind, decent, caring, brave man who will do whatever it takes to protect Sarah.  I liked Sarah’s brother Caden, who was introduced to readers in the first book.

What I struggled with the character of Sarah Denning.  That character had a lot of anger and bitterness toward her father, which got old real quick.  It seemed like every decision she made was to spite and hurt her father for perceived wrongs.  So much so that she was willing to dismiss anyone who believed differently.  Ninety percent of the book Sarah was bullheaded, arrogant, a know it all and ready to put herself and anyone else at risk for what she deemed an acceptable risk.  There was nothing about this character that reflected her being a Christian.  This character’s personality flaws outweighed her good qualities like being diligent and persevering to uncover the truth.  One other thing I didn’t care for was that Sarah was always feeling like the victim.  But she never seemed to connect that some of what happened to her was because of choices she had made that put herself (and others) in danger.

Factoring out my dislike of Sarah, I did like this book because of the other characters and thought the storyline was interesting.  The ending was a bit over the top and not very realistic or logical.

If you are a Lynette Eason fan or like action-packed suspense with a little romance, you may want to read Acceptable Risk by Lynette Eason.

I would like to thank Revell Publishing and NetGalley for the opportunity to read Acceptable Risk by Lynette Eason.  I was provided with a complimentary copy of the book and was under no obligation to give a favorable review.

 

 

Minutes to Die by Susan Sleeman – Suspense and Intrigue that Grabs Your Attention

Minutes to Die was the first book I’ve read by author Susan Sleeman.  It’s the second book in the Homeland Heroes series.  The storyline is what drew me in.

FBI Agent Kiley Dawson was meeting with a confidential informant on a foggy night in Washington, D.C.  Her trusted source had information about a terrorist attack planned for the anniversary of 9/11.  As Kiley was arranging for witness protection a gunshot pierced the night and Firuzeh was dead.  Now what?  Soon Kiley and her team were headed to Tacoma, Washington, and looking into a different case.  A container was found at a shipyard that had been used to transport terrorists into the Country.  Kylie is reunited with ICE Agent Even Bowers as they join forces to stop a terrorist attack.  But the only thing they know for sure is the date of the attack, September 11th, and the clock is ticking.

Minutes to Die got my attention from the get-go and didn’t let up until the end.  It’s fast-paced as the characters worked to try and put together the pieces of the puzzle.  What kind of terror attack is planned?  Where will it occur?  Who are the bad guys planning to bring terror and destruction to untold millions and where are they now?  Is this case somehow tied to the murder of Firuzeh?

I liked the main characters, Kiley and Evan, and also the team members.  Each one has their area of expertise and they worked well together to try and stop the terrorist attack.  The team has been together for a while and they know, respect, and trust each other and have each other’s back.  They are an asset to Kiley as she takes the lead for the first time in an investigation.  The odd man out is Evan.  Kiley and Evan have a history and she’s not sure she can get past it.

The details of the investigation were fascinating and it was interesting to learn about different technologies available to help process evidence.

I struggled a bit with Kiley as she seemed to hang on to resentment toward Evan and her mother.  Towards the end of the book she does work through the issues she’s been holding on to.

I would have liked to have seen the Christian faith developed greater with Kiley and Evan, something more than just brief arrow prayers in times of danger.  There seemed to be an overemphasis on their physical attraction.  It seemed a bit much especially in light of the impending terrorist attack.

Despite the things I struggled with, I did like Minutes to Die by Susan Sleeman.  It was very suspenseful, interesting, and it held my attention to the end.  I came away from this wanting to read more of the author’s books.

If you like suspense and intrigue give Minutes to Die by Susan Sleeman a try.

I would like to thank Bethany House Publishers and NetGalley for the opportunity to read a complimentary copy of Minutes to Die by Susan Sleeman.  I was under no obligation to give a favorable review.

 

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.