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