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.

 

Advertisements

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.

 

 

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.

 

Brew or Die by Caroline Fardig – Not My Cup of Tea

As a mystery lover, I was excited to read a mystery by an author, Caroline Fardig, who new to me.  After reading the description of her new book, Brew or Die, I decided to give it a try.

One of the descriptions, by USA Today, for this mystery is a “cozy mystery” which is defined as a crime fiction in which sex and violence are downplayed and it takes place in a small community.

If Brew or Die lined up with that description, I probably would have liked it.  Unfortunately, it was a lot different than I expected.

So, what’s not to like about Brew or Die?  The story opens with character Juliet Langley at work in the local coffeehouse, Java Jive.  The reader is introduced to a cast of characters that are in Jules life, including her current boyfriend, Stafford, who is a police officer, longtime friend Pete and her old boyfriend Ryder.  At first I thought this book would be clean.

But beginning on pages 12 & 13, started a trend of vulgarity which continued on throughout the book.  Profanity was used well over one-hundred times, perhaps much more.  It was to the point of distraction.  I don’t understand why authors resort to the use of profanity.

If I had picked up this book to read on my own, at the beginning of the profanity, I would have put it down and not finished it.  But because I agreed to read it for a review, I read the entire book and couldn’t wait to be done with it.

In addition to the excessive use of profanity, Juliet (Jules) seemed to be attracted to any male that had a pulse.  Thus, sexual immorality also included in the book.

Based on the profanity (used excessively), casual sexual and sexual immorality, I do not recommend this book.  Brew or Die by Caroline Fardig was a big disappointment and not my cup of tea.

I would like to thank NetGalley and Random House Publishing Group for the opportunity to read Brew or Die in exchange for an honest review.  I was under no obligation to give a favorable review.

 

Flora’s Secret – by Anita Davison – Enjoyable and A Nice Surprise – I look forward to reading more books by Anita Davison

floras-secret-murder-on-the-minneapolis-cover97157-mediumSince mysteries are one of my favorite genres I was excited at the opportunity to read a book by an author whose work is new to me.  That’s why I selected this historical fiction by Anita Davison, Flora’s Secret.

Flora’s Secret is the story about a young governess, Flora Maguire, who is accompanying her charge Eddy Vaughn as they journey home to England on the maiden voyage of the Minneapolis.  Any hope for smooth sailing is quickly abandoned when Flora finds a dead body at the bottom of stairway.  Is it an accident or murder?  Spunky Miss Maguire is not one to be easily deterred and will do whatever she can to get to the bottom of this man’s untimely death.  Thrown into the mix is a shipboard romance with a fine gentleman Mr. Bunny Harrington.

I really enjoyed this book.  The main characters well developed, interesting and very likable.  The author did a great job in describing people and scenes.  She gave enough details for the reader to imagine the scenes, but not too much.  The characters, Flora and Bunny, where very likable; people I would want to know.  I’m hopeful their story will continue in another book.  Other characters were intriguing and it was fun to try and figure out who the good guys were and the bad guys were.

While this book is not from a Christian writer and publisher, I appreciated the fact that the story was told and developed without profanity and sexually explicit scenes.  It’s clean historical fiction, a mystery with a bit of romance, that focused on developing characters and the storyline.  This was the first book I’ve read by Anita Davison and I look forward to reading more of her books.

I would like to thank NetGalley and Aria Publishers for the opportunity to read Flora’s Secret by Anita Davison.  I was under no obligation to give a favorable review.

Cracked to Death by Cheryl Hollon – So-so

CrackedLoRes-183x300

I enjoy reading a good mystery book, especially during the summer.  That’s why I selected Cheryl Hollon’s newest book Cracked to Death.  This was the first book I’ve read by this author and I had some mixed feelings about it.

On the positive side, I liked the character Savannah Webb and her boyfriend Edward Morris.  Both characters seemed likable and cared about others.  I found the premise of a mystery involving the art of glasswork interesting.  A few of the characters had disabilities and Savannah was quite caring towards them.  Homicide detective David Parker was interesting, but not fully developed.

What I didn’t like:  Some of the characters (Rachel and Faith, SueAnn, Officer Boulli to name a few) seemed like caricatures not real people.  There were a lot of politically correct, edgy things included in the book, to the point of distraction.  It took away from the storyline.  For example, when a homeless person urinates on the side of an art studio, Edward suggests that America needs to build more public toilets.  I don’t read mystery books to have PC views shoved in my face.  There was one curse word but it was unnecessary.

Previously I mentioned that the story included characters with disabilities.  The one I didn’t understand was Arthur who had Crohn’s disease.  He was not a major character and he goes into a detailed explanation about the disease.  Since his character was a minor part of the story it wasn’t value added to the story.

I thought it was interesting that the two overweight characters where portrayed negatively.  An emphasis was made on their physical appearance and one is incompetent and the other is rather stupid.

One of the most obnoxious characters was Amanda.  There is a reference to her sexting.  Thankfully the book didn’t go in to detail.  But it was not a good or necessary part of the story.  I felt like it was thrown in to be edgy.  This character makes some ridiculous choices and it gets tiring after a while.  Bad choice after bad choice and of course she’s “sorry”, weepy and didn’t mean it.  She felt like people where judging her.  Perhaps they were just astonished at her bad nonsensical judgment.

I didn’t care for Savannah “smiling down at these two absurd looking elders.”  Really?  That was uncalled for.

Later when Amanda is telling about her relationship with Martin, she is assured by Edward and Savannah that her friends wouldn’t judge her.  Perhaps instead, Amanda needed friends to lovingly speak up when they see her exercising lack of wisdom and discernment.

Another edgy reference:  “You know how liberal this community is.  It’s not quite as diverse as deliberately quirky Gulfport.”

Amanda wasn’t the only person using poor judgment.  Savannah had her fair share of bad choices, most of which revolved around her acting as a “consultant” for the police.  There were times when she should have called the police and given them information and not talked to a witnesses or suspects.  This wasn’t very realistic.

All this adds up to the story not being really believable.  Many people and references seemed like they were thrown in just to make the story edgy or politically correct.  The character of Amada was irritating rather than interesting.  Savannah overstepping her bounds as a consultant about glass seemed to go too far to be believable.

There may have been a few errors in the book.  Location 625 – screenedin should have been screened in.  Location 1049 – references a third bottle that was found that was an original Bristol blue bottle, like the first one.  A little later, in location 1111, the third bottle is referenced again, “Jacob noticed was also a copy.”  Location 1155:  the word should have been “frequented” instead of frequent.

All in all, I found the story in Cracked to Death, by Cheryl Hollon, so-so.  Some of the storyline and characters were not believable or they were downright annoying.  At the same time, there were some characters that were likeable and the setting in a glass art studio was interesting.

I would like to thank NetGalley and Kensington Publishing Corp for the opportunity to read Cracked to Death by Cheryl Hollon in exchange for an honest review.  I was under no obligation to provide a favorable review.