Breaking Cover by Michele Rigby Assad – Fascinating, Intense & It May Keep You Up Late

I love a good mystery filled with suspense and intrigue.  That’s why I wanted to read author Michele Rigby Assad’s new book Breaking Cover – My Secret Life In The CIA and What It Taught Me About What’s Worth Fighting For.

Have you ever wondered how in the world someone ends up working for the CIA as spy?  It’s not like you take a class in school or get a degree in spying.  What type of person is well suited to become a spy?  As a Christian, how do you reconcile the deceptive practices that are necessary for spying with your Christian values?  Those are just a few topics that Michele talks about in her book Breaking Cover.

It was sobering to learn about what Michele and her husband Joseph experienced when they were in field.  They endured a lot, from the bureaucracy within the CIA, the transitory secretive life that being a spy necessitates and the ever-present perils that surrounded them.  Not just once and a while, but every day their lives were on the line.

Reading about what Michele endured, because she is a woman, gave me a greater respect for the work that she did and the sacrifices she and Joseph made to help protect our Country from those who sought to do us harm.  I couldn’t have done what she did, I would have quit!  There was one scene in the book that left a lasting impression on me.  Michele was driving to work in Iraq, not exactly a safe and friendly place for women.  She was at a stop light when all of a sudden some very evil men took notice of her.  Not good…not good at all.  How in the world was she going to get out this situation alive, much less unharmed?  That was just one of the many stories that gripped me and kept me up late at night to find out how things were going to turn out.

As intriguing as their ten-year careers were, it was interesting to see how they transitioned out of the CIA into regular life.  It’s not like you can fill out a resume and list your jobs and give references.  Michele shared that there is a high recidivism rate for CIA agents.  They end up coming back to work for the CIA because the transition can be too hard.

What I appreciated most about Michele and Joseph Assad’s story was how God had gone before them and was using the incredibly trying and difficult circumstances they lived in for ten years to prepare them for a greater mission.  They learned and honed their skills, talents, abilities and discernment.  One day, they would be called upon to employ all they had learned and much more to help bring to 150 Christians from war torn Iraq to safety.

I came away from reading Breaking Cover more grateful for the Country we live in and freedoms we have.  I have a greater appreciation for the work that people in the intelligence community do to keep our Country safe.

Breaking Cover by Michele Rigby Assad is fascinating, especially from the unique perspective of a woman being a CIA officer and a counterterrorism expert in the Middle East.  I highly recommend this book, but be forewarned, you may be staying up late at night because it’s too intense to put down.

I would like to thank Tyndale House Publishers for the opportunity to read a complimentary copy of Breaking Cover in exchange for an honest review.  I was under no obligation to give a favorable review.

 

Advertisements

If I Live by Terri Blackstock – You Won’t Want to Put It Down

I love reading Christian mysteries and suspense novels and Terri Blackstock is one of my favorite writers.  That’s why I jumped at the opportunity to read her newest book, If I Live, which is being released March 6, 2018.

This is the third book, in the If I Run series, which tells the story of Casey Cox who has been on the lamb since her friend Brent Pace was found brutally murdered.  She is the chief suspect because her DNA was found all over the crime scene.  Dylan Roberts, who was hired by Pace family to bring Casey to justice, now believes she is innocent.  So much so that he has been working with Casey to compile evidence that will break open this case wide open and allow the guilty to be exposed.

From the opening chapters of If I Live, the reader had better be strapped in because it takes off and doesn’t let up until the very end.  Each chapter in the storyline is told from a different character’s perspective.  It’s a different technique and almost makes you feel like you are in the character’s head and seeing things from their point of view.

I really liked If I Live, it’s full of suspense and intrigue.  It’s fast paced.  I appreciate how the Christian faith has been woven in to several characters.  Casey become a Christian during the course of this book and it’s interesting to see all that happens to her from the point of view of a new believer.  I especially liked how Casey recognized that though it was tempting to be angry and unforgiving towards those who had done evil, the Holy Spirit was showing her that a Christian doesn’t respond the same way as the world does.  I liked the developing relationship between Casey and Dylan.

As a Christian, I appreciate how author Terri Blackstock tells a good story without including sexually explicit scenes, filthy language and shows the Christian faith in the lives of characters.

After everything that Casey has been through, will it all be for naught?  Will she make it out of this alive?  Will she be free or spend the rest of her life in jail?  Just how much evil can one person get away with?  How widespread is this corruption and how many lives have been affected?  Who is clean, who is dirty and most importantly who can be trusted?

Well to find out the answers to those questions and more, you’ll need to read Terri Blackstock’s newest book, If I Live, which I highly recommend.

I would like to thank NetGalley and Zondervan Publishers for the opportunity to read If I Live in exchange for an honest review.  I was under no obligation to give a favorable review.

 

The Landscapes of Anne of Green Gables by Catherine Reid – A Treasure That Will Make You Fall in Love All Over Again

Words fail me to describe how much I loved reading Catherine Reid’s newest book, The Landscapes of Anne of Green Gables.  I felt like I was opening a treasure each time I read from this book and gazed at the beautiful pictures of the breathtakingly beautiful Prince Edward Island.

I first read Anne of Green Gables as a young adult and loved Lucy Maud Montgomery’s writing so much so that I read all her books.  What a gifted writer!  Her poetic lyrical writing captured character’s thoughts and emotions and enabled readers to imagine the beautiful landscapes of God’s creation.

Who could not fall in love with Price Edward Island when reading Anne of Green Gables or seeing the wonderful TV mini-series by Sullivan Entertainment?  With each page you turn in this book you will be entranced by the beauty of this island.

Catherine Reed does a wonderful job in telling about Maud Montgomery’s wonderful, yet hard life.  She achieved success, but was not immune to tragedy.  Catherine intertwines thoughts and experiences from Maud’s life and shows how they were reflected in the lives of characters she wrote about.  The landscapes that inspired and moved Maud, where an integral part of her books and her life.  Included in the book are numerous quotes from Maud’s writing, not only her personal journals, but also her beloved fiction books.

I forewarn you, after reading The Landscapes of Anne of Green Gables, you may want to reread all of Lucy Maud Montgomery’s books.  This book is a treasure; I wanted to savor each page.  It will help you to see the beauty in nature in a new and fresh way.  You may even be inspired to visit Prince Edward Island and behold it for yourself.

If you know someone, young or old, who loves Anne of Green Gables, or is enchanted by gardens and nature, you may want to get them a copy of The Landscapes of Anne of Green Gables by Catherine Reid.  I would like to thank NetGalley and Timber Press for the opportunity to read this book.  I was under no obligation to give a favorable review.

Even though I got to read this book for free, I liked it so much that I may go ahead and purchase it.  It’s a keeper that I would like to go back to again and again.

This book will be available for purchase on April 18, 2018.

 

Dangerous Illusions by Irene Hannon – Filled with mystery, intrigue and characters you want to get to know

Author, Irene Hannon, is relatively new to me and I really like her work.  That’s why I was excited for the opportunity to read her new book Dangerous Illusions.

This mystery is about Trish Bailey, a woman’s whose life has been filled with much tribulation over the last couple of years.  Two years ago, her life was turned upside down when she lost her husband and father and nearly lost her mother, Eileen.  Trish is a dutiful daughter and has been caring for her ailing mother in addition to working as an art teacher at an inner-city school.

Matt Parker seems like a nice guy, but Trish has no interest in romance.  And just who is this stranger that seemed to blow in out of nowhere and land on Matt’s doorstep one dark and stormy night?

After all that Trish has been through, what more could go wrong?  Well, that’s where Dangerous Illusions starts.

As I started reading this book, I was hopeful that things would turn around for Trish.  Instead, circumstances went from bad to worse.

I don’t know if it was the author’s intention in writing the book for readers to be able to relate to Trish and feel overwhelmed as the vulnerable character might have, but that’s how I was feeling as the book started.

At first it seemed so dark.  I felt very uncomfortable as Trish was the victim once again and this time at the hands of some very unsavory characters.  Detective Colin Flynn was like a breath of fresh air and I hoped he would be able to see the truth through some murky troubled waters that were overwhelming Trish.

Though the book seemed to start off dark and it felt like evil was prevailing, I pressed on because my experience with Irene Hannon’s writing is that she is a safe writer.  I appreciate how she doesn’t have her characters do stupid things to put themselves in danger.  She doesn’t have them making bad decisions that make no sense.

I liked the mystery and intrigue in Dangerous Illusions and Irene does a great job in developing characters and relationships in her book.  The characters seem real and like someone you would want to know.  I really liked the characters Colin and his long-time friends Kristin and Rick and fellow officer Mac McGregor.

I recommend Dangerous Illusions, especially if you like a good mystery. I appreciated how Irene Hannon wove the Christian faith into the storyline and characters.  I appreciate that there was no profanity or explicit sexual scenes and that the author shares and respects my Christian faith and values and doesn’t assault them.

I would like to thank Baker Publishing Group and NetGalley for the opportunity to read Dangerous Illusions by Irene Hannon.  I was under no obligation to give a favorable review.

 

Little Bunny’s Own Storybook by Margaret Welwood & Illustrated by Nataly Vits – Will Spark Young Readers Creative Imagination

I was contacted by author Margaret Welwood inquiring if I would read her book for children, Little Bunny’s Own Storybook.  I read a lot of books, but not children’s books.  But I thought it might be a nice change of pace.  Indeed, it was.

I think young readers imaginations will be sparked when they read Little Bunny’s Own Storybook, which tells the story of a bunny that loves to read.  Everyday he goes to the library to find a new book to read.  But one day, to his dismay, the library is closed.  As he goes home nothing else sound good to do.  He wants to read.  But then, he has an idea.  Perhaps, he could make up his own story.

The illustrations by Nataly Vits are precious and will touch a child’s heart.  After reading this story, young readers may be inspired to write their story and draw pictures.

I recommend Little Bunny’s Own Storybook by Margaret Welwood.  Parents, be forewarned, you may want to have paper and pencils and crayons on hand in case your little one wants to try their hand at writing the very own story.

I would like to thank Margaret Welwood for the opportunity to read Little Bunny’s Own Storybook.  This book is recommended for ages 3-8.

 

Marie and Mr. Bee by Margaret Welwood & Illustrated by Coralie Rycroft – A Sweet Story with Good Lessons for Young Readers

I was surprised when I was contacted by author Margaret Welwood inquiring if I would read her children’s book, Marie and Mr. Bee.  I read a lot of books, but not children’s books, at least not for many years.  I thought it might be a nice change of pace.  Indeed, it was.

Marie and Mr. Bee, tells the tale of a young girl who listens to some bad advice from a visiting very lazy bee.  Before listening to Mr. Bee, Marie is a responsible hard working young lady.  Afterwards, taking it easy sounds kind of good.  Soon she finds out like the Bible says, “Hard work brings reward.”

Marie and Mr. Bee, is a simple and sweet story, with some good examples and lessons for young readers.  I liked how her friends, Brother and Sister Squirrel, Fox and Little Bear were obedient and did their chores.  One of my favorite lessons in the book is when Marie forgives of Mr. Bee and is his faithful friend.

The illustrations by Coralie Rycroft are precious and help tell the story perfectly.  This book will capture the imagination of young readers and show good examples about work, obedience, friendship and forgiveness.

I would recommend the story of Marie and Mr. Bee, for young readers.  I think I would have liked it when I was a little girl.  I would like to thank Margaret Welwood for the opportunity to read this book.   This book is recommended for ages 4-8.

 

Blind Spot by Dani Pettrey – Confusing, Too Many Characters and Too Many Plots

I was exciting at the opportunity to read Dani Pettrey’s newest book Blind Spot which is the third book in the Chesapeake Valor Series.

Previously, I had read her book Submerged and found she did a really good job in writing about relationships.  The plotline was interesting and intriguing and the characters were well developed.

Blind Spot couldn’t be any more different.  It was plot, plot, plot, lots of action and filled with many characters.  This is the third book in her current series, but there was no recap to bring the readers up to speed on the characters who carried over from the first two books.  I would have found it helpful to have a page at the beginning of the book with the names of the characters and a brief description about them and their history.  A number of times, I came across a name, and I had to search back to see if that person’s name had previously been mentioned because I didn’t recall anything about them.

As a side note, a number of the characters have names that are not immediately identifiable as male or female names.  Names like Tanner Shaw, Declan Grey, Avery, Finley, Griffin and Parker.  That made the confusion of too many characters even more confusing.  I found myself very grateful for two characters name Kate and Luke.

There are two main plots going on and subplot in the background.  There’s storyline of embezzlement, murder and suicide and a second storyline of terrorism, smuggling of arms and people and human trafficking.  The storylines didn’t merge in the end.  The plots seemed to compete against each other.  As I was reading the book, I was trying to figure out how they would relate, but they never did come together.

Some of the scenes were rather implausible.  The reasoning and deduction of the FBI agents to explain what had happened or what was going on seemed to be missing some in between steps or information.

Overall, I found the book confusing because of so many characters that the reader knew nothing about unless they had read the earlier books in the series.  Going back and forth between plotlines that had nothing to do with one another was not a good way to tell a story.  I think it would have been better to focus on one plot and develop a fewer characters.

The Christian faith was mention somewhat.  It wasn’t a big part of the storyline.  There a few prayers.  But overall it was lacking depth and meaning.

When I read a fiction book, I want to care about the characters.  Even if they are not likeable, I want to know them and what makes them tick.  I didn’t care about these characters.

I really wanted to like Blind Spot because of Dani Pettrey’s earlier books.  But I didn’t much care for it.  If you like her writing, I would suggest starting with book one in this series, that way you will be better able to track with characters and storylines, some of which carryover from earlier books.

I would like to thank Bethany House Publishers and NetGalley for the opportunity to read Blind Spot by Dani Pettrey for free.  I was under no obligation to give a favorable review.