Always Look Twice – by author Elizabeth Goddard – Filled with Mystery, Intrigue and Action

As someone who loves to read mysteries, I really liked reading Elizabeth Goddard’s newest book Always Look Twice the second book in her Uncommon Justice series.  There was so much to like about this book, starting with the characters.  But what first drew me in to Always Looks Twice was the opening scene.

Crime scene photographer, Harper Reynolds, has taken a much need break because of the toll that her work has taken on her.  She and her sister Emily have been traveling to National Parks and are finishing up their travels in Jackson Hole, Wyoming where they lived as children.  Harper has been photographing the beauty found in nature only to have that beauty marred by witnessing a murder through her camera lens.  In her quest to escape she lost her camera, a memory card, her phone and was injured.  So, when Harper reports the crime she witnessed, there’s no corroborating evidence to be found.  Will the Sheriff believe Harper?  Will law enforcement diligently investigate the crime she witnessed?  What will happen when she is reunited with her childhood friend Heath McKade?

I really liked the main characters in this book.  They are interesting, kind and caring and people and because of that I was invested in their story.  Harper and Emily carried emotional scars from trauma in their childhood and they dealt with its lingering effects quite differently.  I especially like the friendship between Harper and Heath.  They were friends in a pivotal time in their lives and now they are reunited.

One of the things I liked best about Elizabeth Goddard’s writing is her ability to write a scene so the reader can imagine it in their head.  She does it without being too wordy.  Reading the story was almost like watching a movie.  I appreciated that the story was clean, there was no profanity or sexual immorality.  There was some mention of the character’s faith.  I would like to have seen even more the faith aspect of the character’s lives.

If you like mystery, intrigue, and action I would encourage you to read Elizabeth Goddard’s new book Always Look Twice.  This one kept me guessing until the end.  This is the first book I’ve read by Elizabeth and I look forward to reading more of her books.

I would like to thank Revell Publishing for the opportunity to read Always Look Twice by Elizabeth Goddard.  I was provided a complimentary copy of the eBook through NetGalley.  I was under no obligation to give a favorable review.

#AlwaysLookTwice #UncommonJustice

 

Dark Ambitions by Irene Hannon – Character Development Is Missing

Irene Hannon is one of my favorite writers.  I’ve loved her books that I’ve read, the characters and the Christian faith that’s been a part of the storylines.  That’s why I was excited to read her newest book Dark Ambitions.

Unfortunately, I thought Dark Ambitions was not as good as her other books.  I’ve read the two other books in the Code of Honor series and liked them.  What was different about Dark Ambitions?  I found the character development was not too deep in this novel, the characters were rather flat and one dimensional.

From the beginning of this book, the focus was on the physical attraction between Rick Jordan and Heather Shields dominated this book.  So much so that it took away from the character development of the main characters.  Rick, who has a heroic background as a former Army Night Stalker and runs a camp for foster children, seemed like a superficial jerk with his unkind judgmental opinion of the receptionist Nikki.  If you took away one thing from this book, you knew that Rick and Heather were physically attracted to one another because of the numerous references to looks and their physical attraction.

In most of Irene’s books, I find some likable relatable characters.  In Dark Ambitions, not so much.  Maybe Heather’s dad.  As a reader, I want to have characters I like and care about, but that was missing in this book.

A great deal of research went into getting the technical details right.  The storyline of Dark Ambitions has some possibilities of making a good story.  Where it fell short for me was the character development.  Also, I missed having faith and God being a part of the character’s personal lives.  While there was action in the story, there wasn’t a lot of suspense, nor twists and turns.

While this book seemed to be a one-off, I do look forward to reading more of Irene Hannon’s books in the future.

I would like to thank Revell Books and NetGalley for the opportunity to read Irene Hannon’s newest book Dark Ambitions.  I was provided with a complimentary copy of the book and was under no obligation to give a favorable review.

My Dearest Dietrich by Amanda Barratt – A beautiful and sorrowful love story during a pivotal time in history

When I first saw that there was an opportunity to read My Dearest Dietrich: A Novel of Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s Lost Love by author Amanda Barratt, I wasn’t interested.  Mostly because this novel would be hard to read emotionally and learn more about the evils that happened during World War II.  But I’m so glad I took a second look and decided to read it.

Before I read My Dearest Dietrich, I had basic knowledge of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, that he was a Christian pastor and had participated in a plot to have Adolph Hitler assassinated and that he was executed for his part in that conspiracy.  But other than that, I didn’t know the details.

This book is wonderful.  I learned about Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s life, family and his beloved fiancée Maria von Wedemeyer.  How decent, God-fearing Germans citizens were impacted by what Hitler was doing.  While not everyone was able to personally fight the evil things they saw happening, so many citizens were gravely impacted by the maniacal and brutal dictator and were just trying to survive.  It was heartening to learn of the Bonhoeffer family, their friends and many others who sought, albeit unsuccessfully, to put an end to Hitler’s reign of evil.

In Dietrich and Maria’s story, I saw that love must be brave.  It was inspiring and touching to see how Maria sought to be there for Dietrich, breathe life and hope into their future, even if it meant risking her own life.  They managed to deepen and grow their relationship through letters and monthly one-hour visits at Tegel prison under the watchful eye of the guards.  Dietrich, in turn, sought to protect Maria and his family and accepted the severe consequences of his actions.

I took my time reading My Dearest Dietrich because I didn’t want to rush by and miss some of the treasures contained therein.  This is a beautiful love story between two very different, but uniquely suited, people during a pivotal time in history.  Amanda Barratt did a wonderful job in writing this true and fictionalized, account of Dietrich and Maria’s love story.

I would like to thank Kregel Publications and NetGalley for a complimentary of the book and the opportunity to read My Dearest Dietrich by Amanda Barratt.  It’s a love story to remember.  I was no obligation to give a favorable review.

 

Mountains of Grace by Kelly Irvin – Mixed feeling but worth hanging in for the themes of grace and forgiveness

I had never read Kelly Irvin’s books until about a year ago.  After reading one of her Amish themed books I loved how she developed the characters and how they grew and changed through the story.  That’s why I was eager to read Kelly’s newest book Mountains of Grace.

Mountains of Grace is different from the other Amish themed books that Kelly Irvin has written.  This novel is set in NW Montana in a community called West Kootenai.  I never knew that there were Amish communities in Montana.  From Mountains of Grace I got the impression that this Amish community, though they lived separate and different lives than the English people, the community seemed to be more closely allied with their English neighbors.

I have some mixed feelings about this book.  It wasn’t until about halfway through that something changed and captured my interest.

I struggled with the two main characters, Mercy, a 22-year-old single Amish school teacher, and Juliette Knowles, her English friend and neighbor.  The two young women couldn’t be any different from one another.  Mercy seemed quite immature especially in the scene when they were fleeing their homes because of a fast-approaching wildfire.  Mercy’s response and that of her younger siblings seemed childish and didn’t demonstrate that they comprehended the seriousness of the situation.  Juliette, on the other hand, seemed to be a vapid, shallow, mouthy gal who wanted attention and would flirt with any male who came nearby.  I didn’t like either Mercy or Juliette.

It wasn’t until about halfway through this book I found someone I liked, Spencer, who was a smoke jumper that was injured at the beginning of the book.  It was his interaction with Mercy that made me pause.  Something about Spencer was honest and he took a liking to Mercy.  It was interesting how their very different characters interacted with one another.

There were a lot of characters to keep track of in this book, family, friends, and neighbors of Mercy and Juliette.  I liked Tim, the man who was in love with Juliette.  Why he like her I didn’t understand because Juliette was such a pill.  I appreciated his integrity and his willingness to obey God’s command that he should not be unequally yoked with an unbeliever.  There some good examples of strong Christian faith.  I loved some of the prayers offered by different characters.

I had a hard time imagining Mercy as a school teacher because of her immaturity and poor decisions that resulted in her being disciplined by the Amish elders.  While it wasn’t made known, I wondered who it was that told on Mercy.  What I did like about Mercy was her boldness and desire to befriend Spencer who was so different the Amish men she knew.

I liked the themes of forgiveness that were lived out by several characters, like Angie, Spencer, Tim.  While it may not be easy, God does command us as believers to forgive those who have hurt and wronged us.

I never fully came to appreciate Juliette.  Her character was very off-putting.  I was glad that she finally disclosed what had happened to her and what caused her to turn from being a nice young lady to someone who was not so nice.  I appreciated that she was a good friend to Mercy and even tried to protect her.

I’m glad I read this book to the end.  It contains some good examples of forgiveness and mercy and God’s abundant mercy towards us as sinners.  It also showed the importance of communicating with one another, even when it’s hard.  It was almost like there were two lines of stories with the Amish and the English characters and a lot going on with multiple characters.

Would I recommend this Mountains of Grace, yes, especially if you are a Kelly Irvin fan or like Amish-themed novels.  It was interesting to learn about the men that put their lives on the line to help protect life and property and put out wildfires in treacherous terrain.

I would like to thank Zondervan Publishers and NetGalley for providing a complimentary copy of Mountains of Grace by Kelly Irvin.  I was under no obligation to give a favorable review.

 

Clear Confusion by Kathy M Howard – Book Review, Review Tour and Giveaway


Welcome to the Blog + Review Tour (and Giveaway!) for Clear Confusion by Kathy M. Howard, hosted by JustRead Publicity Tours!

ABOUT THE BOOK

Title: Clear Confusion
Author: 
Kathy M. Howard
Publisher: Ambassador International
Release Date: 
July 1, 2019
Genre: Inspirational Suspense/Thriller

What am I going to do, God? Who am I?

Charlotte Hallaway needs to come to terms with her father’s death. He had been her only family, and she wasn’t handling her grief well. It was just supposed to be a few weeks of peace and quiet to process it all, but then she saw them-a drug deal and a murder within seconds of each other.

And they saw her.

Now running for her life, Charlotte boards a bus to escape her pursuers and wakes up the next morning in the woods of Jennings, Georgia, without a memory of how she got there or of who she is. All she knows is an underlying fear she can’t seem to shake.

When two hunters find her battered and scared, can she put aside the clear confusion she’s experiencing to trust them? She wants to trust them, especially Nicholas, but fear is holding her back. Trust is incredibly hard when one is so clearly confused. Could it be he and his friend are not who they claim to be?

Who are they really . . . and who is she?

PURCHASE LINKS*: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Christianbook

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Clear Confusion Excerpt

5:30 a.m.

The woman awoke to the sound of wind dancing rather loudly through the treetops and a strange sense of fear. Underneath her, a cool, hard ground gave off a scent of wet mud, causing her nostrils to crinkle.

Inside, her head pounded with her heartbeat. She squeezed her eyes shut, giving herself a minute. It didn’t do much good. Her mind was too fuzzy to successfully decipher her bearings. Somehow an internal fog blocked her ability to reason.

God, where am I?

Although she heard evidence of early morning hours, it was dark, practically pitch black. Nothing visible beyond a few feet, and even that was blurry. Another gust of wind blew, bringing a breeze across her left cheek. A few goose bumps appeared. The other side of her face, shielded from the gust, remained impressed in dried mud. Although it was hard, it felt icky pasted against her skin. She tried to gently pull herself out of the crusted grime but found the movement harder than she’d expected.

The muscles in her arms and legs were sore—really sore. But why? She sat up tenderly, placing a hand on her forehead. The effort to lift her body proved difficult. Carefully and ever so slowly, she stood the rest of the way. With one hand steadying her head and the other out­stretched, she inched her feet forward, searching for something sturdy.

Why do I have on only one shoe? Where is my other shoe?

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My Review – Clear Confusion by Kathy M Howard – Gripping Suspense, Romance and Grounded in Faith

Clear Confusion is the first book I’ve read by Kathy M Howard and what a great introduction into this author’s work.  I loved this book!

Just who is Charlotte and what in the world did she see that caused her to flee?  How did she end up in a tree in the forest, scratched, bruised and hurting?  Who are these men that awakened her?  Friends or foes?  Most of all why can’t she remember anything?  Not even who she is or where she came from?

From the get-go, the reader will be dropped into the middle of a suspenseful story that will grip you until the very end.  The truth about what happened to Charlotte will be unveiled as she has to trust and depend on Nicholas Nelson and his family as they provide a safe haven for her.

I love mysteries and suspense and this book is filled with both.  But it doesn’t stop there, the story and characters are well developed.  I loved that the Nelson family were kind, decent and caring people that come alongside Charlotte when she is vulnerable, hurting and doesn’t know who she is.  Romance is a part of the story and developed slowly as Nicholas is interested in Charlotte, but he doesn’t rush her, instead he gives her the time to heal and remember first.

What I appreciated most about Clear Confusion is that the Christian faith and the Gospel are woven throughout this story.  Though Charlotte didn’t know who she was, she knew that God and Jesus Christ were part of her life.  Even in her fear, she knew she should pray and read the Bible.  Faith is a big part the Nelson family’s life too.

I appreciated that Kathy Howard didn’t have the characters make stupid decisions that put themselves in danger to advance the story or heighten the suspense.  Her characters were smart and reasonable.  I loved that the Gospel of Christ was clearly presented in this book and how faith was lived out by the characters in what they said and prayed and how they lived their lives.

While I suspected who the bad guys were, there remained some mystery because, until the end, I didn’t know who two of the villains where and how they were connected to other characters.

Clear Confusion by Kathy M Howard was a great story.  Interesting, filled with suspense and made just right by characters living out their Christian faith.  I give Clear Confusion a big thumbs up and look forward to reading more of author Kathy M Howard’s books in the future.

I would like to thank Ambassador International and Just Read Tours for providing a complimentary copy of Clear Confusion.  I was under no obligation to give a favorable review.  The views expressed are solely my own.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Kathy M. Howard resides in south Georgia with her husband and two children. She has been involved in some form of education since 1998 as an elementary school teacher, a private school principal, and presently as a homeschooling mom. As a child, she despised reading, dreading every assignment the subject gave. As an adult, Kathy finally learned to appreciate the written word, so much so that she is rarely seen without her nose in a book.

She loves the Lord and wants to share Jesus where she can, using words written and spoken. By God’s goodness and with the support and love of her family, she has written two novels, From Dishes to Snow (October, 2014), and its sequel, From Driftwood to Sapphire (August, 2015).

CONNECT WITH KATHY:  Website | Facebook | Twitter

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TOUR GIVEAWAY

(1) winner will receive a print copy (US only)
plus (1) additional winner will receive an ebook

Full tour schedule shown below. Giveaway will begin at midnight July 23, 2019 and last through 11:59 PM EST on July 30, 2019. Winner will be notified within 2 weeks of close of the giveaway and given 48 hours to respond or risk forfeiture of prize. Print US only. Ebook available internationally.

Giveaway is subject to the policies found here.

ENTER GIVEAWAY HERE

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Follow along at JustRead Tours for a full list of stops!

*NOTE: This post contains affiliate links.

 

Yours Truly, Thomas by Rachel Fordham – A Pleasant and Enjoyable Read

After reading the description of Yours Truly, Thomas I found myself intrigued at the storyline and setting of Rachel Fordham’s newest book.

Following the death of her father, Penny had taken a job to support herself and her mother.  For three years she has been working as a clerk at the Dead Letters Office in Washington DC.  It’s at work that she comes across romantic letters written by a man named Thomas to a woman named Clara Finley in Alexandria.  Penny takes it upon herself to try and get the letters to Clara, only to find out that she had died in a tragic accident.  That’s just the beginning and soon Penny finds herself on a train going to a place she’s never been, Azure Spring Iowa, to try and find the man who has touched her heart through his letters to another.

I found the idea of a Dead Letters Office intriguing and how, over 135 years ago, they would have researched to try and find a recipient of an undeliverable letter.  I liked the character Penny, she was kind, thoughtful, caring and romantic.  She was also very brave, adventuresome and a bit naïve.

In the story about Thomas, there was a bit of a forgiveness and redemption theme going on.  Thomas was a better man and he changed and grew through difficult circumstances and wrong choices he had made in the past.  In this story, you can see how friendships can impact others and make a difference for good, people like Dinah, Margaret and Abraham.

The Christian faith is not an overt part of the story, but God, prayer, and providence are mentioned.  I think it would have been a richer story if faith had played a more prominent role.  The story is clean and free of sexual immorality and profanity.

Yours Truly, Thomas was a pleasant and enjoyable read.  This is the first book I’ve read by Rachel Fordham and I look forward to reading more of her books in the future.

I was provided with a complimentary copy of Yours Truly, Thomas by Revell Publishing and NetGalley.  I was under no obligation to provide a favorable review.

 

Final Word – by John MacArthur – A Timely and Sobering Reminder on why we need the Bible

I respect John MacArthur as a pastor, teacher and authority on the Bible and that’s why I was excited at the opportunity to read his newest book Final Word – Why We Need the Bible.

We are living in turbulent times, in our nation and in this world.  We are seeing the effects of postmodernism and the denial of absolute truth and right and wrong.  As a Christian, I would hope and pray that it wouldn’t impact the Christian church, but it has.  In recent weeks and months, there have been controversies over women preaching and the Southern Baptist Convention was dealing with issues of gender identity, sexuality, racism, and intersectionality.  These issues can be very divisive and difficult to respond to, especially if you don’t have the knowledge and confidence in the absolute authority of God’s Word the Bible.

John MacArthur’s book Final Word is very timely in helping Christians to understand the bedrock of our faith, the Bible.  John is very measured and precise in the issues he raises, the examples he gives as evidence and what the Bible says and how we, as believing Christians, should respond.

John lays out the evidence to show how The Bible Is Under Attack both from the secular culture and even from within the church.  He reminds the reader that the ultimate attack is from Satan.  Not only does he show current examples but looks back over history.  As I was reading this book, I felt like I was reading headline news.

From there, John goes on to show with unapologetic authority that, The Bible is True, The Bible is Authoritative, The Bible is the Catalyst of Spiritual Growth, The Bible is Central to Faithful Ministry, and The Bible is Food for the Soul.

If you read Final Word, you will come away with a clear understanding of what’s happening in the world and within the church today and have a historical perspective as to how we got to where we are.  You will come away better equipped to understand and stand in defense of the Bible.  This book is refreshingly truthful and stands strong on the Word of God.

I highly recommend Final Word by John MacArthur.  This book is a keeper, you’ll want to read it again and will likely want to share it with other believers, those in the ministry.

I would like to thank Reformation Trust Publishing and NetGalley for the opportunity to read Final Word in exchange for an honest review.  I was under no obligation to give a favorable review.