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.