Bringing Maggie Home by Kim Vogel Sawyer – A Thought Provoking Interesting Read

I love a good mystery, and that’s what drew me in and want to read, Bringing Maggie Home by Kim Vogel Sawyer.  This is the first book I’ve read by this author so I didn’t know what to expect.

The story starts out in 1943, when young Hazel is watching her 3- year-old sister Maggie.  She only turned her back for a few seconds, but that’s all it took and little Maggie was gone.  What happened?  Would they ever know?  Hazel and her family were devastated by the loss.  Its impact would ripple down and impact future generations.  Fast forward to present day, Hazel’s granddaughter Meghan is coming for a visit only to be surprised and find her mom Diane there too.  When the long-held secret comes out about Maggie, Meghan has hope, that as a cold case investigator, she may be able to finally bring some closure for her grandmother that she loves so dearly.

Bringing Maggie Home turned out to be a little different than I anticipated.  It focused mostly on the people and their relationships.  Through this story, you can see how one horrible event can impact people far beyond the initial tragedy.  There were times, I felt like the story dragged a bit, because I was wanting to get on to solving the mystery.  When in fact that’s secondary to understanding people.

I struggled with the character, Diane.  She was just downright unpleasant and I wanted to slap her.  She was rude and I didn’t like her.  But as the story went along I came to understand her more.  I really liked the characters Hazel and Meghan and their loving and caring relationship.  Another likeable character was Sean.  I liked how he lived out his Christian faith.  I greatly appreciate it when the Gospel message is woven in to a book by a Christian author.

For those of you who love solving mysteries, don’t worry, you’ll get to the bottom of what happened to Maggie in due time.  That part of the book was interesting too.  I wish it had been a bigger part of the story.

But all in all, I recommend Bringing Maggie Home by Kim Vogel Sawyer.  There were times reading it was painful because of the bitterness, hurt and anger the characters were dealing with.  But it caused me to reflect on my own life and relationships.  I went through a range of emotions as I read this book.  I found it hopeful in that characters grew and changed overtime and you saw the Lord at work in their lives.

I love finding an author whose work is new to me.  Not only did I get to enjoy Kim Vogel Sawyer’s newest book Bringing Maggie Home, but now I can go back and read her earlier books.

I would like to thank Blogging for Books and WaterBrook Publishers for the opportunity to read Bringing Maggie Home for free.  I was under no obligation to give a favorable review.

 

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Rule of Law by Randy Singer – A Fast-Paced Thriller Filled with Intrigue – Be Forewarned This Book Make Keep You Up at Night

Reading the description of the storyline is what drew me in and want to read Rule of Law by Randy Singer. Intrigue, suspense, politics and the news media sounds like a story ripped from today’s headlines.

The story opens with Navy SEAL Team Six ready to deploy on a mission in Yemen, led by Patrick Quillen. Before the reader finds out if the mission will succeed, we are taken back two months earlier and meet Paige Chambers, a young attorney, who is about to come up against famed and unconventional attorney Wyatt Jackson. Little does she know how their futures will converge.

As the story continues the President, Vice President and their staff, military personnel and families, Supreme Court Justices, the news media and Islamic clerics all come into play to make this story, which is full of twists and turns, come alive.

Randy Singer is a writer whose work is new to me. I love it when I find a good author. Not only do I get to enjoy their current work, but now I can go back and read their earlier novels.

What makes an author a great writer verses one that’s so, so? I’m not sure I know the answer to that. But I can tell you from the opening pages of this book, I was hooked. I was interested in the story, I cared about the people, even the bad guys. I wanted to know what would happen next and I wanted to understand what made these people tick and why they did what they did. The pace didn’t let up and it kept me guessing until the end. Be forewarned, Rule of Law may keep you up late at night to find out what happens next.

As I read Rule of Law, I was forced to examine my thoughts on what rights the President of the United States should have to executive privilege and what lengths they can go to, to protect our nation. Should they be allowed the bend or even break the law? It’s one thing when it’s an administration that I trust and respect, but another when it’s one I don’t support.

Rule of Law by Randy Singer is a fast-paced novel filled with intrigue and surprises. It’s thought provoking and a great read. I highly recommend this book and look forward to reading Randy Singer’s other novels.

I would like to thank Litfuse Group and Tyndale House Publishers for the opportunity to read Rule of Law by Randy Singer. I was under no obligation to give a favorable review.

 

Crisis Shot by Janice Cantore – If you like mysteries and police novels, give it a try.

I had previously read a novel by Janice Cantore and was looking forward to her new book Crisis Shot.

The story starts out with Long Beach Police Commander, Tess O’Rourke answering an emergency call where a fellow officer is imminent danger.  How Tess responds, right or wrong, will affect her future.  The story could be taken out today’s headline news, where every action a police officer takes is scrutinized and condemned, even when there is little merit to critic’s narrative.

When the fallout from Tess’ action doesn’t seem to be winding down, she decides to make a move to a small town in Oregon, with the hope of being able to resume the career she loves in law enforcement.  It a huge change in her life.  As Chief of Police in the small town of Rogue’s Hallow, she will be answering to the mayor and city council.  It might be a small town but even there, evil is at work.

I sort of liked the main character Tess, but didn’t feel like I got to know her well or really care about her like I wanted to.  There was a bit of a disconnect.  At first, I struggled with how Tess continually compared police work and what people were like in the small town compared where she had spent most of her life, in Long Beach, CA.  Then I realized if I had made such a drastic change in my life, I would likely be reflecting back on where I came from and what it was like back then.  The reader will get an understanding of how police work in a big city differs from a small town.  I liked how the relationships with fellow police officers changed as they worked with their new Police Chief.

The overall pace of the novel seemed to drag.  Tess encountered many obstacles and people seemed to be tight lipped and withheld important information.  I didn’t guess who the bad guy was, there weren’t a lot of clues along the way, just lots of suspicious behavior on the part of several towns people.  I didn’t really connect with the characters.  I didn’t come away from reading the book saying, “I can’t wait to find out what happens with Tess next.”  Something was missing, but I’m not sure what it was.

The Christian faith is a small part of the story.  Tess is not a believer, but there are several Christians she encounters along the way.  If there is a sequel I hope that Christian faith is a bigger part of the story.

Crisis Shot is okay.  I would definitely read Janice Cantore’s future books because of my good experience with her earlier novels.  If you like mysteries and police novels, give Crisis Shot by Janice Cantore a try and be sure to read some of her earlier books.

I would like to thank Tyndale House and NetGalley for the opportunity to read Janice Cantore’s newest book Crisis Shot.  I was under no obligation to give a favorable review.

 

 

True to You by Becky Wade – This Book Is A Real Gem

I’m not usually one to read romance novels, but when I read the description of True to You by Becky Wade, I knew I wanted to read this book.  I’m so glad I stepped outside my comfort zone.  As an adoptee, conducting my own search to find my birthmother, I was intrigued to read this story about an unlikely pair who team up to research and help a find birthmother.

Nora Bradford is content with her quiet life and surrounding herself with the things she loves, which includes family, reading, history, genealogy and watching British dramas.  John Lawson, couldn’t be any more different.  He’s a true-life hero, having saved people’s lives in his former career as a Navy SEAL.  He’s strong, driven and focused and oh yes, good looking too.

Will these opposites attract?  Why is John searching for his birth mother after all these years?  Will their efforts in searching through courthouses records, phone books and talking with people turn up anything that will lead them to John’s birthmother?  How will their faith be challenged when they run into roadblocks and situations that are far beyond their control?  Will it drive them to God or away from Him?

True to You is the first book I’ve read by Becky Wade and I absolutely loved it.  I liked the storyline which included mystery and intrigue.  Becky does a wonderful job in developing characters.  She peels back the layers as the characters grow and change through the story and events.  All the characters were very likeable.  My favorite thing was that characters didn’t make stupid decisions that make you shake your head.  Instead they were reasonable, decent, kind and caring people.  The kind of people you would like to know.

Becky is good at describing places by giving the reader enough detail so they can imagine what it looks like, but she also leaves room for the imagination of the reader to fill in the gaps.  I felt like I could step on to the streets of the charming town of Merryweather and know the people and places.

As good as all that is, the best part of this book is how Becky shows the characters dealing with difficult news and events.  They talk and reason through a crisis of faith.  I liked how Nora recognized some errors in her thinking, that it was worldly and not necessarily biblically sound.  The characters seem honest and real.

Reader’s faith in God can be encouraged and strengthened by some of the dialogue, thoughts and prayers these characters go through.

I highly recommend True to You by Becky Wade.  While this is the first book, I’ve read by Becky, I hope it’s not the last.

I would like to thank Litfuse and Bethany House Publishers for the opportunity to read True to You.  I was under no obligation to give a favorable review.

 

A Spectacle of Glory by Joni Eareckson Tada – Truth to Strengthen our heart, mind, soul and spirit

It’s been my privilege to read Joni Eareckson Tada’s books and devotionals over the years.  That’s why I was grateful for the opportunity to read her latest devotional, A Spectacle of Glory – God’s Light Shining Through Me Every Day, which she co-authored with Larry Libby.

Joni is a mature Christian and her continued growth and love for the Lord and Scripture comes shining through this devotional, A Spectacle of Glory.  This year, will be 50 years since Joni’s tragic accident that left her as a quadriplegic.  Joni’s life has not been easy and her witness and testimony have a weight of credibility other’s may not have.

In A Spectacle of Glory, Joni focuses on a Scripture verse or two each day.  She includes stories from her own life where she’s seen God at work.  With openness and transparency, she relates to the reader as she confesses her struggles, which may be similar to our own.  She closes each day with a prayer and aligns her heart and mind on the truth from Scripture.

Joni always come back to the Bible which is the believer’s plumb line.  She takes the Scriptures and uses them as a mirror to reflect what’s going on in our heart.  Shining the light of God’s Word has a way of driving out the darkness.

I highly recommend Joni Eareckson Tada new devotional, A Spectacle of Glory, written with Larry Libby.  It’s a great way to start or end your day.

I would like to thank BookLook and Zondervan for the opportunity to read A Spectacle of Glory.  I was under no obligation to give a favorable review.

 

Sandpiper Cove by Irene Hannon – A Story of Grace and Redemption

Sandpiper Cove was the first book I’ve read by author Irene Hannon.  I hope to read other books by this gracious and gifted author.

I loved reading this book.  It was a real treasure with stories of grace and redemption in the lives several characters who live in Hope Harbor.  This book is an example of why I like to read books by Christian authors who write about faith and show it lived out in their characters and everyday life.

Sandpiper Cove tells the story of Adam Stone, an ex-con who moved to Hope Harbor with the hopes of starting a new life for himself.  He’s quiet and a bit of a loner.  However, crime which he was hoping to get away from, comes to his doorstep, not once, but twice.  Getting to know the police chief, Lexie Graham, was not on his list of things to do.  However, providence was at work in the lives of these two people and their friends, family and co-workers.

I really liked the characters in this book, both the main characters and supporting characters.  It felt like I could walk into Hope Harbor and meet these people and feel welcome.  They were people I would want to know.  I liked the relationships in this book and how it showed people can impact others for good or bad.

I appreciated that Sandpiper Cove was a safe book, one that did not assault me with vulgarity, profanity, sexual immorality and violence.

I highly recommend Sandpiper Cove by Irene Hannon.  This book was a pleasure to read.  The only problem I encountered was that it ended.  I look forward to reading more of Irene’s books.

I would like to thank NetGalley and Revell publishers for the opportunity to read Sandpiper Cove.  I was under no obligation to give a favorable review.

 

Between Heaven and the Real World by Steven Curtis Chapman – Faith Strengthened and Encouraged, Rooted and Grounded in the Truth of Scripture

I am grateful for the opportunity I had to read Steven Curtis Chapman’s autobiography, Between Heaven and The Real World.  Steven’s professional career started in the late 1980’s, which was a few years before I became a Christian.  When I think of the music that influenced me as young Christian and throughout the years, Steven’s music is at the top of that list.  That’s why I wanted to read this book.

I loved and enjoyed Between Heaven and the Real World and want to read it again and share it with others.  I wept as Steven shared in a very humble, open and transparent way the pains and trials he and his wife Mary Beth and their family endured over the years, most notable was the death for their precious daughter Maria Sue.

When you connect with an artist’s work and feel like he expresses in words some of the thoughts and emotions you’ve experienced, it’s interesting to learn the genesis of the songs and what was going on in his life when they were written.  It was heartening to see the providential hand of God in Steven’s life.  How He had gifted him from a young age to love and write songs that gave a voice to what he was feeling, his faith and capture his reflections about God.

I appreciated the honesty in which Steven writes.  It’s real, but also reverent towards God.  He so obviously loves, honors and respects God, his parents, brother, wife and children.  Somehow, he manages to do so while being open and real about circumstances, choices and events.  Kind of like his music.  I appreciate Steven and Mary Beth’s deep and abiding faith that they cling to in the face tribulation, never more so than in tragedy.  It was heartening to read about the support of family, friends and professionals that came alongside them when needed most.  I applaud their commitment to their marriage and efforts to recognize that their spouse is not their enemy and that they fought for each other, not against.

While the hearts of a mother and father longs to see, their child healed and alive, the Chapman’s have allowed God to redeem their losses and impact others for good and for eternity.

If you’ve listened to Steven’s music, you can’t help but come away encouraged, strengthened and your faith built up as he drives a stake in the truth of Scripture.  It’s almost like reading one of David’s psalms.  He may start out low and in the depths of despair, but as he focuses on God, hope is restored and a light is found to illumine the next step.

I highly recommend Between Heaven and the Real World, especially if you are a fan of Steven Curtis Chapman’s music.  It’s encouraging to see someone’s faith proven genuine and real.  Even if you aren’t familiar with his music, I think you will benefit from reading this book.

I would like to thank NetGalley and Revell/Baker Publishing Group for the opportunity to read Between Heaven and the Real World by Steven Curtis Chapman.  I was under no obligation to give a favorable review.