Hidden Among the Stars by Melanie Dobson – Satisfying & Intriguing

It was the title, Hidden Among the Stars, that first caught my attention.  The storyline drew me in and made me want to read Melanie Dobson’s newest book, an author whose writing is new to me.

The story takes place in two periods of time and in two places that intersect as character Callie tries to find out who Luzia and Annika were and if perchance if one of them was related to her beloved friend Charlotte.

Luzia, Annika, Max and Hermann lived in Austria during the late 1930’s and their lives were forever changed as the were caught up in the war when the Nazi’s swept in to Austria.  Eighty years later and 5,000 miles away, Callie is drawn into trying to solve a mystery that was discovered in a children’s book.  Will Callie step outside her comfort zone to solve a mystery and discover the truth?  Will she let down her walls long enough to open herself the possibility of finding love once again?

Hidden Among the Stars was very different kind of book, but I really liked it.  I especially liked the characters from the 1930’s in Austria.  The characters came to life and the situations that they faced as their beloved country was overrun by evil was very compelling.  How would they respond when the anti-Jewish Nazi mentality grew and overwhelmed Austrians?  Fellow neighbors, were they now friend or foe?  Would they protect and try to help their Jewish neighbors?  It was both horrifying and captivating to see what they faced and how they responded to evil in their midst.

The modern-day part of the story took a little while for me to get used to because it was written in the first person, but the rest of the story was not.  After a while, I got used to it.  While I liked the characters, they didn’t seem as real or rich as the 1930’s characters.

The author includes faith in her story and the Gospel message was shared.  I appreciated that the author didn’t include profanity or sexual immorality in the story.  She delicately handled a scene where one of the characters was raped.

As the story unfolded, I figured out some of the mystery, but not all of it.  It kept me guessing until the end.

I would describe the book as satisfying and intriguing.  It unfolds and develops slowly, but that’s okay because you are learning about the characters and what they are going through.  There is some about this book that is almost poetic, probably most visible in the character of Callie.

I recommend Hidden Among the Stars by Melanie Dobson.  If you like mystery, intrigue or historical fiction you may enjoy this book.

I would like to thank Tyndale House Publishers for the opportunity to read Hidden Among the Stars in exchange for an honest review.  I was under no obligation to give a favorable review.

 

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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.