The Apple Creek Announcement by Wanda E Brunstetter – Mixed Emotions

Wanda E Brunstetter has become one of my favorite writers and I looked forward to reading her newest book The Apple Creek Announcement, Creektown Discoveries, volume 3.

Reading one of Wanda’s books is like catching up with old friends, especially Orley and Lois Troyer.  They own an antique store and want to engage with and to help the customers who visit their store.  In The Apple Creek Announcement, readers are introduced to Andrea and her boyfriend, soon to be fiancé, Brandon Prentice.  Andrea is a piano teacher and a painter who sells her artwork capturing local Amish scenes.  Brandon is the town’s veterinarian.  Their relationship seems to be going well until Andrea learns about a lifelong secret her parents have kept.  It throws her for a loop, and her focus has changed. 

Two of my favorite characters are Orley and Lois.  I’m glad these characters are included in this novel.  I enjoyed their storyline in this book.  They seem very kind and caring. 

I had a hard time with Andrea and Brandon.  At first, I found them very boring.  Their romance kind of fell flat, wasn’t believable.  Once there were developments in the story, these two characters became more interesting. 

Unfortunately, I didn’t much care for the main character Andrea.  She seemed spiritually immature.  She reacted emotionally and didn’t turn to God in prayer or to the Bible.  Even towards the end of the book, her character didn’t acknowledge wrong behavior and attitudes on her part.  Andrea held on to anger, resentment and blamed her parents.  She seemed to play the victim and blame everyone.  If her character had developed and grown over time, repented and turned to God, it would have come across as different.  Brandon was more likable, and he seemed more mature, willing to examine if he had made the right decision.  He sought wisdom and good counsel from an older believer. 

I found it odd that when Andrea and Brandon were engaged, that one of the obstacles they encountered were their pets not getting along.  You would think that a vet would have clue on how to help the situation. 

A couple of things that should have been left out was Andrea trying to calm her nerves with lavender essential oil.  If the character was a Christian, she should have turned to God’s word and prayer.  Some advice that Orley gave Brandon wasn’t the best.  He told him to pray…good!  Then he said God may give you a “sign”.  No!  Examples of those in the Bible who asked for a sign were descriptive, not prescriptive.  It was before they had the Bible, God’s Word. 

I rather liked Andrea’s friend, Colleen.  She seemed to genuinely care about Andrea and was straightforward with her and Brandon. 

Something I appreciated about The Apple Creek Announcement is that it’s clean, and the Gospel of Christ and word of God are shared.  I look forward to reading more of Wanda’s books in the future. 

If you’ve read the earlier books in this series, you may want to read The Apple Creek Announcement by Wanda E Brunstetter.

I would like to thank Barbour Publishing and NetGalley for the opportunity to read a complimentary copy The Apple Creek Announcement by Wanda E Brunstetter.  I was under no obligation to give a favorable review. 

The Rising Tide by Ann Cleeves – Great Storyteller Brings Beloved and Determined Vera Stanhope to Life

The Rising Tide by Ann Cleeves is the tenth book about DI Vera Stanhope.  I’ve watched the PBS series on Vera over the years but never read a novel by Ann Cleeves.  She makes the characters come alive as she reveals details about their personalities and lives while unveiling the mystery. 

The Rising Tide is about a group of friends who have known each other since high school.  Fifty years ago, their teacher had organized a weekend, Only Connect, where the group members bonded.  They’ve been gathering every five years since.  During the first reunion, one of their friends, Isobel, was killed in a terrible tragedy.  On their 50th reunion, friend Rick Kelsall was found hanged.  Was it suicide or murder?  You can be sure that Vera and her team will not rest until they find out the truth about what happened, why, and who is responsible.

Vera Stanhope is one of my favorite characters.  I love her dogged determination to solve a case and bring justice for the deceased.  She is not intimidated by powerful and influential people and treats all potential suspects the same way.  I especially appreciated getting a better understanding and insight into Vera’s team members Joe, Holly, Billy, and Paul. 

I enjoyed reading The Rising Tide and getting to know the characters better.  Ann Cleeves does a great job bringing characters to life and describing the scenes so the reader can visualize what’s happening.  She’s a great storyteller and I highly recommend The Rising Tide by Ann Cleeves.

I would like to thank St. Martin’s Press and NetGalley for the opportunity to read a complimentary copy of The Rising Tide by Ann Cleeves.  I was under no obligation to give a favorable review. 

The Deadly Shallows by Dani Pettrey – Suspense, Mystery, Relationships and Faith

As someone who enjoys suspense novels, I was excited read Dani Pettrey’s newest book, The Deadly Shallows, the third book in the Coastal Guardians series

Brooke Kessler, is attending a Flight Medic A-School graduation to support her friend Molly.  Like a story ripped out of today’s headline news, in the middle of the ceremony there’s unimaginable horror when someone begins shooting into the crowd.  Brooke, Noah Rowley, and their fellow Coast Guard team members will begin the long process of investigating who is responsible for this tragedy and bring them to justice. 

One of my favorite parts of The Deadly Shallows was the relationships between co-workers who had become trusted friends.  Many of the characters returned from the first two novels in this series.  The author captures the sense of friendships and commitment to one another.  I appreciated that faith was part of the character’s lives, most notably through prayer.  I liked that novel was clean, no profanity or immorality by the main characters.

There were a lot of twists and turns in this story, a couple of romances between characters and two mysteries going on.  I like how Noah worked through the painful memories he had as a child that continued to impact his life.  The story did drag a little bit.  There was one romantic scene that could have been dialed down some.  

Overall, I really liked The Deadly Shallows.  I like mystery and suspense.  But what I appreciated most was the relationships, with likable characters and their faith being part of the story.

If you like mystery and suspense, or stories based around the military, relationships and faith, you may want to read The Deadly Shallows by Dani Pettrey.

I would like to thank Bethany House Publishers and NetGalley for an opportunity the read a complimentary copy of The Deadly Shallows by Dani Pettrey.  I was under no obligation to give a favorable review. 

Critical Alliance by Elizabeth Goddard – Focus is on Action and Intrigue Over Character Development

Critical Alliance is Elizabeth Goddard’s third book in the, Rocky Mountain Courage series.  I’ve read the first two books, Present Danger and Deadly Target, enjoyed them and was excited to read her newest novel.

The story centers on two main characters, Mackenzie Hanson and Alex Knight.  Mackenzie has been doing well in her cybersecurity career at a university in Michigan.  Yet it seems like she can’t get away from her youthful criminal past when she receives a warning about cybersecurity issues with her family’s business.  Though she’s been estranged for many years, Mackenzie feels compelled to go home and try to help with the hope of redeeming her past mistakes.  Mackenzie’s path will once again cross with Alex Knight a Special Agent with the Diplomatic Security Services.  Alex has come home to Montana to get some rest following an assignment that went wrong.  But cases seem to find him even when he’s on vacation. 

There were some elements that I liked about this book.  Cybersecurity is an interesting theme for a mystery novel.  I liked Alex and his friends in Montana that were carried over from the earlier novels.  The backdrop in Montana was a beautiful setting, the descriptions were well written so the reader could imagine what the settings were like.

Where I struggled with this book was the main character, Mackenzie.  I found her to be arrogant with delusions of grandeur to the point of irritating.  I couldn’t see why Alex was attracted to Mackenzie, much less why he would risk her career for her or go along with her schemes.  The characters were shallow and the focus was on action and intrigue.  The characters were not well developed.  I enjoy reading Christian fiction, especially when faith is included in the characters’ lives.  But this book didn’t include much regarding faith.

Not sure if I recommend Critical Alliance because the characters were not well developed.  It’s shallow and relies on action and intrigue over a richer and deeper story.  The book focused on lots of details about cyber security instead of characters.  I will read more books by Elizabeth Goddard because I’ve enjoyed her earlier novels. 

I would like to thank Baker Publishing Group and NetGalley for the opportunity to read a complimentary copy of Critical Alliance by Elizabeth Goddard.  I was under no obligation to give a favorable review. 

The Sugarcreek Surprise by Wanda E Brunstetter – A Lovely Book with Likable Characters

Wanda E Brunstetter has become one of my favorite writers and I was excited to read her newest book The Sugarcreek Surprise, the second book in the Creektown Discovery series

The Sugarcreek Surprise tells the story of Lisa Miller the only survivor of a tragic car accident.  She lost her parents and paternal grandparents at seven years old and has very few memories before the accident.  Lisa went to live in Ohio with her maternal grandparents.  She works as a school teacher with the young children at their Amish community’s schoolhouse.  Lisa lives a very insulated life, has very few friends, and has no desire to get married or have children.  Truth be told, Lisa is trying to protect her heart from the pain of losing someone else she loves.  Her life is about to be changed by a persistent dog Maggie and a newcomer Paul Herschberger from Pennsylvania. 

This book is about relationships.  Lisa’s relationship with her grandparents, her dog Maggie and her developing friendship with Paul.  Orley and Lois Troyer, from the Walnut Creek Wish, are back and befriend Paul and in turn his friend Lisa.  Orley and Lois are my favorite characters.  They are continually looking for people whom God would have them befriend.  They are mentors, prayer warriors and give wise biblical counsel. 

I liked Paul and appreciated his kind, caring, gentle, and hardworking character.  At times I struggled with Lisa and her negativity or not being open to others.  But I appreciated seeing how her grandparents and Paul responded to her.  They prayed for Lisa, gave her time and trusted the Lord to be at work in her life.

I appreciate the Christian faith being included as part of the characters’ lives, in the form of Scripture verses, sermons, and prayers.  The Sugarcreek Surprise is not action-packed, instead, it goes deeper into people’s lives, relationships, and what motivates them.  I love that this book is clean and shows good and healthy relationships.  The characters deal with honesty, forgiveness, growth, and how to trust God and obey Him. 

I loved reading The Sugarcreek Surprise by Wanda E Brunstetter and highly recommend it.  It was a lovely book, filled with likable characters, the kind of people you would want to know.  Wanda E Brunstetter is the kind of writer that makes me want to read all her books.

I would like to thank Barbour Publishing and NetGalley for the opportunity to read a complimentary copy of The Sugarcreek Surprise by Wanda E Brunstetter.  I was under no obligation to give a favorable review. 

Containers in the Garden by Claus Dalby – Beautiful, Inspiring and Gorgeous Photos

I was very excited to see that Claus Dalby has released a book on Container in the Garden.  I’ve been following his posts on social media for a couple of years now and enjoy the pictures and videos he shares.

Finally, we have a collection of pictures assembled from Claus Dalby’s beautiful and inspiring garden.  This book is filled with stunning photos of plants, flowers, and foliage in a variety of colors and combinations.  Claus begins with some of the basics of containers, soil, seeds, bulbs, planting and care. 

My favorite part of the book is when Claus goes through the color combinations, and assortment of plants that can be combined to reflect the seasons and holidays.  Also, how we can create or define different sections in our garden or outdoor rooms.  This book is very inspiring and gets a gardener’s creative juices flowing.  I appreciate the explanations on why certain plants were selected and combined with other plants.

I love this book and highly recommend it.  This book is a helpful resource for those new to gardening, and those who have gardened for many years.  It would be a lovely gift for those who enjoy beautiful pictures from the garden.  Reading through this book, I came across a number of plants that I would like try to grow.  I enjoyed Containers in the Garden so much that I plan to buy a copy of this book. 

I would like to thank Cool Springs Press and NetGalley for the opportunity to read a complimentary copy of Containers in the Garden by Claus Dalby.  I was under no obligation to give a favorable review. 

Drawn by the Current by Jocelyn Green – Mixed Reaction

Drawn by the Current is the first book I’ve read by Jocelyn Green.  It’s the third book in The Windy City Saga series, but it works well as a standalone novel.  I wanted to read this story because it tells the story about the capsizing of the SS Eastland while still docked onshore.

Olive Pierce wants to celebrate her friend Claire’s birthday by going to the Western Electric’s picnic.  Boarding the ship, they are anticipating a fun summer day, but soon disaster will strike and leave them and over 2,500 passengers fighting for their lives.  At the end of the day, Claire is one of over 800 people who are missing and feared dead.  As an employee of MetLife Insurance, Olive, will be handling insurance claims from this unimaginable disaster.  There are many mysteries to uncover as Olive searches for the truth.  As she is handling cases, she finds out that someone at the office is sabotaging her work.  Who is responsible and why?  While Olive is investigating several mysteries, she meets a freelance photographer and private investigator, Erik Magnussen.  He will help her uncover the facts, expose the truth, and close cases. 

What works with Drawn by the Current?  My favorite character was Erik because he had an interesting background and seemed like an honest, strong, and brave man.  I liked Olive’s family.  Her mother Meg, aunt Sylvia, and uncle Kristof were a very caring, loving, and supportive.  I loved their store, Corner Books & More.  The author did a good job telling the story of SS Eastland disaster.

What didn’t work?  I struggled with Olive.  I didn’t care for her dishonesty and how she justified it.  There were too many mysteries going on that took away from the main story.  Olive took some risks and made decisions that weren’t logical.  The biggest thing I struggled with in this story was the feminist-like agenda.  Like the struggle Olive encountered trying to show that she was capable of doing more in her job, to her work being sabotaged, to her solving multiple cases, to the abuse her friend Claire endured, and the woman police detective helping to save the day.  Women were portrayed as victims or heroes, and many men were seen in an unfavorable light.  It seemed like the story was told through a feminist lens.   

I would like to have seen the Christian faith better portrayed in the characters’ lives.  Olive was full of remorse over her wrong actions, but it didn’t say she was repentant.  She believed that God had forgiven her for what she had done, but doesn’t explain the basis of her forgiveness.  She seemed prideful about her remorse over her wrongdoing.  That her remorse was better than Blanche’s, who justified what she had done. 

There were some things I really appreciated in Drawn by the Current.  The story about the SS Eastland and what it would have been like handle such a great loss of life, as an individual, family, community, and business.  I liked Olive’s family and Erik.  They were likable and relatable characters.  While I struggled with some aspects of this story, I would like to read other books by author Jocelyn Green.  She had some interesting insight into the characters. 

If you like historical fiction, you may want to read Drawn by the Current by Jocelyn Green.  

I would like to thank Bethany House Publishers and NetGalley for the opportunity to read a complimentary copy of Drawn by the Current by Jocelyn Green.  I was under no obligation to give a favorable review. 

Malicious Intent by Lynn H Blackburn – Mystery, Suspense and Likable Characters

I like reading mysteries and suspense stories and have enjoyed Lynn H. Blackburn’s novels.  That’s why I was excited to read her newest book, Malicious Intent, the second book in the Defend and Protect series.

Malicious Intent focuses on Gil Dixon and Dr. Ivy Collins, characters introduced in the first book of the series, Unknown Threat.  Gil and Ivy go way back, but they had a falling out and haven’t seen each other since then.  Secret Service Agents Gil and Zane are following up on counterfeit bills deposited by Hedera, Inc., Ivy’s business.  When they arrive at her home and knock on the door, they find something is amiss as the door opens by itself.  It had been 15 years since Gil had last seen Ivy, and now she was standing before him.  But something is terribly wrong with Ivy.  She looks beat up and is holding a gun.

Other characters from the first book, Luke, Zac, Tessa, Faith, and Sabrina, are also included in this story.  One of the things I liked about this book was the friendships and commitment these people had for one another.  The storyline and investigation were interesting as they tried to determine who was trying to harm Ivy and why.

The romance part of the story was a little rushed, especially considering how Gil and Ivy’s relationship had ended 15 years earlier.  But Gil was ready to put the past behind him.  I did like Ivy and her drive and passion to help people.  I found annoying Gil’s repeated use of a nickname he had for Ivy, who is now a grown woman, not a young girl.  There’s a little bit of faith worked into the story.  I would have liked to have seen more of that.  The characters were likable, but I wish they had been developed more fully.  I appreciate that the novel was clean, without profanity or sexual immorality. 

Overall, I liked Malicious Intent because of the mystery and suspense.  My favorite part was the friendships and commitment between all the characters.  I recommend this book, especially if you like suspense and law enforcement. 

Thank you to Revell Publishing and NetGalley for the opportunity to read complimentary copy Malicious Intent by Lynn H. Blackburn.  I was under no obligation to give a favorable review. 

Trust Me by Kelly Irvin – Lots of twists and turns, but not my favorite.

Trust Me is Kelly Irvin’s newest book, a mystery set in San Antonio in the Arts District. 

Actually, there are two mysteries, one dating back to 2010 in which Delaney Broward’s brother Corey was killed.  Ten years later, Hunter Nash, the man convicted of Corey’s murder, has been released from prison.  He’s maintained his innocence all this time, and now Hunter’s on a mission to find the person who killed Corey.  To investigate and find the real killer, he needs to reconnect with his former girlfriend Delaney.  She wants nothing to do with Hunter.  To make matters worse, on the day Hunter was released from prison, Corey’s former fiancée Ellie was found murdered.  Coincidence?  Did Hunter kill Ellie?  Or is someone out to implicate Hunter?

This novel has a lot going on with two murders, past and present.  While there is action in the story, emotions and memories are a big part of the story.  At times that kind of drags the story. 

I liked Hunter, and he was the one character whose Christian faith was focused on.  He was a changed man from his eight years in prison.  While he wanted to find Corey’s murderer, he wasn’t bitter.  Instead, Hunter was humbled as he reflected back on his life.  I appreciated the support Hunter had from his family and a local pastor who helped him to get a job.  I didn’t care for Hunter pushing his way back into Delaney’s life, and I don’t think her reaction was portrayed realistically. 

Delaney had abandoned her faith and the other characters seemed spiritually empty.  That surprises me in a book from a Christian author.  As the story goes along, it’s revealed that there were a lot of secrets and people weren’t necessarily who they represented themselves to be. 

The ending was a bit of a stretch.  When characters do something that isn’t logical, only to put themselves at risk, it doesn’t make a lot of sense.  I guessed who the villain was but didn’t believe the scenario of the hitman being manipulated because of his low intelligence. 

What was done well?  Kelly Irvin is a good writer and captured the atmosphere and vibe of San Antonio and the Arts District.  I wish the characters had been more likable and relatable.  Other than Hunter, faith was not a big part of the story and I wish it had been. 

If you like Kelly Irvin’s writing or like reading mysteries, you may enjoy this book.  For me there was something a bit off about it and at times rather dark. 

I would like to thank Thomas Nelson Publishers and NetGalley for the opportunity to read a complimentary copy of Trust Me by Kelly Irvin.  I was under no obligation to give a favorable review. 

The Secret Life of an American Codebreaker by Jan Slimming – Compelling, Fascinating and Interesting

Do you find World War II history fascinating?  I do, and that is why I was excited to read Jan Slimming’s new book The Secret Life of an American Codebreaker

The book starts out telling the story of Janice Martin, a young college student who was recruited to learn about and employ the much-needed skill of codebreaking during the pivotal time in our Country, World War II. 

Janice is the focus of the book, but the book is about more than one person.  Periodically, the story comes back around to what was happening in Janice’s life at that time.  The story includes the history of cryptography and codebreaking.  You will learn about brilliant individuals who worked together to break the coded messages of our enemies during WWII.  That information was passed along to our military leaders to use and effectively win the battles. 

The Secret Life of an American Codebreaker was a fascinating book and goes into a lot of detail about how Americans, Great Britain, and the Allied forces worked together.  An early version of computers was developed to help analyze the large volume and ever-changing data that was coming in from the enemies’ encrypted messages. 

I found The Secret Life of an American Codebreaker by Jan Slimming to be a very interesting and compelling book.  I highly recommend it, especially if you like history, stories about WWII, and intrigue. 

After reading this book, it makes me wish that I had sat down with my parents and other family members and learned about the work they did in WWII.  I cannot imagine how different the world would have been if not for the courageous work and sacrifice of so many during World War II.

I would like to thank Pen & Sword Publishers and NetGalley for the opportunity to read a complimentary copy of The Secret Life of an American Codebreaker by Jan Slimming.  I was under no obligation to give a favorable review. 

Deadly Target by Elizabeth Goddard – Too Many Twists and Turns, Not Believable

Deadly Target is Elizabeth Goddard’s second book in the Rocky Mountain Courage series.  I looked forward to reading it because I’ve enjoyed Elizabeth’s novels in the past. 

Erin Larson is a criminal psychologist and crime podcaster.  Erin and her friend are kayaking on Puget Sound when out-of-nowhere, a large yacht is speeding towards them and tries to mow them down.  They narrowly escape by abandoning their kayaks.  After being rescued Erin, receives a phone call from her former boyfriend, Detective Nathan Campbell, in Montana.  She is filled with dread as he tells her that her mom tried to commit suicide and is in the hospital.  This is just the beginning of the action in chapter one.  The rest of the book is filled with twists and turns, attempts to kill either Erin or Nathan and their family members and others caught in the crossfire.  It stretched from Washington to Montana and Boston.

Deadly Target is action-packed and filled with many twists and turns.  Nearly everyone was suspect and couldn’t be trusted.  It took me a while to get into the story because the tension continued to build and build and build with multiple incidents.  I didn’t connect with the character Erin because I found her off-putting.  I liked Nathan but didn’t understand what he saw in Erin. 

As much as I wanted to like Deadly Target, I didn’t enjoy it.  The story had too many twists and turns and too many characters.  It was hard to follow, and stretched the imagination.  The plotline with its endless action just wasn’t believable, especially towards the end.  Added to those negatives, the main character wasn’t very likable.  That’s why I don’t recommend Deadly Target by Elizabeth Goddard.

I would like to thank Revell Publishers and NetGalley for the opportunity to read a complimentary copy of Deadly Target by Elizabeth Goddard.  I was under no obligation to give a favorable review. 

A Flicker of Light by Katie Powner – A lovely book with relatable and likeable characters.

I’m not sure what drew me in and made me want to read A Flicker of Light by Katie Powner, an author whose writing is new to me.  Perhaps it was the scenic and beautiful setting of a small town in the mountains of Montana.  Maybe it was the relationships of this family who had been through some difficult years.  What is the secret that Grandma June has kept all of these years? 

Bea is 21 years old, and she and her husband, Jeremy, are expecting their first child.  Their circumstances have changed, and she’s going to reach out to her father to see if they can stay with him for a few months while they get a handle on things.  Mitch Jenson has been alone now for two years, following the death of his wife, Caroline.  He couldn’t imagine his life without her, and there’s not a day that goes by that he doesn’t desperately miss her.  His parents, Randall and Juniper Jenson, health is not the best.  Now Mitch needs to figure out how he can help them navigate this new season of life.

A Flicker of Light is about relationships with family and friends.  It’s about pain and vulnerability and needing help but wanting to be independent.  I loved the town of Moose Creek and the beauty of Montana.  I could relate to Mitch as he had to deal with his mother facing dementia and tried to figure out how he could help his parents.  I was curious about June and her secret.  How would she respond when the truth came out? 

I’m so glad that I discovered A Flicker of Light and look forward to reading more books from Katie Powner.  The characters in this book were very relatable, likable, and I cared about them.  Good decent people that you would like to know. There was a little mystery, and I appreciated seeing the characters grow and change.  I took my time reading this book, and it was lovely to end the day spending time with these characters.  I appreciated that this book is clean, with no profanity, and faith was a part of the story. 

I would like to thank Bethany House Publishers and NetGalley for the opportunity to read a complimentary copy of A Flicker of Light by Katie Powner.  I was under no obligation to give a favorable review. 

Waiting on Love by Tracie Peterson – Characters Refreshingly Honest with Integrity and Faith

I am grateful to have rediscovered Tracie Peterson’s writing and her recent book Waiting on Love which is part of the Ladies of the Lake series.  This book is very different from what I usually read, but it was the storyline and characters which drew me in. 

Elise Wright is very different than her sister Caroline.  Both girls grew up sailing the sea with their father Captain Bill Wright and mother Mary, on their ship the Mary Elise.  Caroline has chosen to marry a wealthy high society man she met through her aunt and uncle.  But Elise loves the life she has on the sea.  She will fulfill the promise she made to her dying mother, to continue to take care of her father and the ship’s crew.  The ship will be taking on two new sailors, Nick Clark, a man who is haunted by his past, and Booker Duran a man who is on the run.  Captain Wright sees something in both men and he wants to give them a second chance.

I absolutely loved this book!  I read a lot of books by Christian authors and publishers and most of them have very little about faith.  Not so with Waiting on Love by Tracie Peterson.  The Christian faith and the Gospel of Jesus Christ are front and center in the lives of the characters and how they live, what they say and do.  The Gospel and Bible verses are shared as part of the storyline and development of the characters.  I appreciated and enjoyed the honesty and integrity of the characters, their graciousness, mercy, and kindness. 

Of course, there is always an antagonist or two in stories.  I appreciated the integrity and upright character displayed by the main characters in how they dealt with deceitful people seeking to do harm to others.

Reading Waiting on Love by Tracie Peterson left me with good examples of Christians living out their faith in an interesting story that takes place in the 1800s.  I am so happy to have rediscovered Tracie Peterson.  Reading this book makes me want to go back and read her earlier novels.  I would like to commend Bethany House Publishers for allowing the Christian faith and the Gospel message to be shared in this fictional story. 

I highly recommend Waiting on Love by Tracie Peterson.  An interesting story, which takes place in a different era and a unique setting.  I appreciated the refreshing honesty and integrity of the characters and examples of godly living.  I liked that Elise embraced her femininity, and the men their masculinity.  That’s not something you see too much these days in fiction. 

I would like to thank Bethany House Publishers and NetGalley for the opportunity to read a complimentary copy of Waiting on Love by Tracie Peterson.  I was under no obligation to give a favorable review. 

Labyrinth of Lies by Irene Hannon – Filled with Suspense and Mystery

Labyrinth of Lies by Irene Hannon is the second book in the Triple Threat series.  In this newest book, readers are introduced to Cate Reilly, sister to Eve Reilly featured in the first book of the series Point of Danger

Cate is a detective in St. Louis County, and she’s the right person for an undercover assignment.  Teenagers Stephanie Laurent and Alex Johnson have been missing for two months.  New evidence indicates they are not runaways but victims of foul play.  Cate agrees to go undercover at Ivy Hill Academy to try and find out what happened to the missing teens.  It’s been eight years since she’d last seen Zeke Sloan, the man she loved who walked out on her for his career as a DEA agent.  As it turns out, Zeke is also working undercover at the school as a Spanish teacher.  Cate’s undercover assignment just got a lot more complicated. 

Irene did a great job in building the suspense and mystery.  It was at times unnerving, especially for the characters whose lives were being impacted by the subterfuge around them.  I really liked the characters, especially Kayla, Edwardo Garcia, and his wife Margarita.  As the story unfolds, readers learn how characters got caught up in the evils of drug trafficking.  Because some of the characters go by anonymous names, like Razor and Wolf, you don’t know who the bad guys are.  It was interesting reading about how people justify getting involved in evil.  I liked the friendship that developed between Cate and Kayla.  I didn’t know how Edwardo would be able to get out of the impossible situation he was in.  I also liked how Cate and Zeke worked through their relationship.

I wish the character’s Christian faith had been developed in this storyline.  I think the book would have been richer with that element.  I wasn’t too keen on the feminist aspect of Cate and her sisters and the focus on the physical attraction between Cate and Zeke in a Christian fiction book.

If you like mystery and suspense, give Labyrinth of Lies by Irene Hannon a read.  I liked this second book better than the first one in the series because of some of the characters. 

I would like to thank Revell Publishers and NetGalley for the opportunity to read a complimentary copy of Labyrinth of Lies by Irene Hannon.  I was under no obligation to give a favorable review. 

Paradise by Lizzie Johnson – Excellent and Compelling Story About a Town’s Tragedy and its People

When I saw the book Paradise – One Town’s Struggle to Survive an American Wildfire by Lizzie Johnson, I wanted to read it.  As someone who lived over 40 years in California, wildfires were an unfortunate part of life.  When the strong winds start blowing in the fall, every Californian knows that there’s a chance of a wildfire starting.  I knew that this would be a hard book to read, but I am so glad I did. 

Lizzie Johnson did an excellent job in telling the story of the town of Paradise which is situated in northern California in the Sierra Nevada foothills of Butte County.  She captured the feel of the town and its citizens.  Anyone can write about facts and numbers, but Lizzie did a marvelous job making this grievous history personal. 

Through all the research that she did, the town’s people she got to know, and how she shared their stories you will better understand the Camp Fire, how it started and why, its devastation and toll, not just to buildings, but to people’s lives and homes.  The story is very gripping as she shares the stories of individuals whom she follows through this dreadful day.  Eighty-five people lost their lives in the most horrific circumstances.  The people that survived, and how they bear the scars from this devastating fire and are working to rebuild their lives. 

I appreciated how Lizzie Johnson told the stories of the people of Paradise.  She documented what happened, how the fire started, events and circumstances that made evacuating the town’s people safely problematic.  So glad the fire wasn’t the end of the story.  She tells about the people of Paradise in the months and years afterward. 

The ugly truth about PG&E’s criminal negligence and irresponsibility that started the fire is told, as well as decisions by the mayor and town’s council and how it impacted the evacuation of citizens.  There was one cause of the fire, but many factors that made the situation worse. 

Lizzie Johnson did an excellent job in telling this difficult and painful story in a way that made it personal, showing care and honor to the people impacted.  After reading Paradise, when I hear about the Camp Fire, I’m thinking about the people whose lives were impacted by this devastation.  I highly recommend this book.  It will give you a better understanding of the wildfires in the west that are increasingly common and their dreadful impact on people’s lives. 

I would like to thank Crown Publishing and NetGalley for the opportunity to read a complimentary copy of Paradise by Lizzie Johnson.  I was under no obligation to give a favorable review. 

Hostile Intent by Lynette Eason – Filled with Suspense, But Too Much Violence

Hostile Intent by Lynette Eason is the fourth book in the Danger Never Sleeps series.  

Cold, calculating with a hardened heart set on vengeance, Nicolai will stop at nothing to make these people pay for what was done to his family.  FBI Agent Caden Denning is working on this case and is trying to find out why three families have been killed and how they are connected.  When evidence turns up at the crime scene, a photograph of his friend Ava Jackson, as a small child with her father, Caden is concerned that Ava may be the next target.  He will stop at nothing to bring a killer to justice and protect his friend.

I’ve read the other books in the Danger Never Sleeps series and liked them.  I especially liked the friendships between the main characters who are highlighted in each of the books.  While I like some of the characters in this book, the violence was over the top.  In the first chapter, readers are introduced to the villain who goes on to murder two families, and we learn about two other families whose murders are connected to this case.  Later, Ava is attacked and is on a hit list.  The villain not only wants to murder Ava but torture her and make her suffer.  I like mystery and suspense novels, but I was surprised that this was in a book from a Christian writer and publisher.  I would expect to see this in a book from a secular publisher.

This book has lots of twists and turns, some not so believable, like what happened to Ava’s dad.  The story kind of drags a bit when the story should be advancing.  I liked the Caden Denning character, but the budding romance between Caden and Ava was a bit of a stretch. 

Hostile Intent is the novel I liked least in the Danger Never Sleeps series.  I liked that the characters and friendships from the earlier books carried over to this one.  For me, the issues were the over-the-top violence, convoluted storyline, and the romance wasn’t believable.

Would I recommend Hostile Intent?  Perhaps for someone who is a fan of Lynette Eason’s writing.  But for others, I would pass on this book.

I would like to thank Revell Publishing and NetGalley for a complimentary copy of Hostile Intent by Lynette Eason.  I was under no obligation to give a favorable review. 

The Walnut Creek Wish by Wanda E. Brunstetter – An Enjoyable Inviting Read with Likable Characters

The Walnut Creek Wish is the first book I’ve read by Wanda E. Brunstetter.

Jeff and Rhonda Davis have been married for nearly thirteen years.  But their marriage has been strained and they’ve grown apart.  Both are hardworking and care about one another, but disappointment over not having children has impacted their marriage.  In a last-ditch effort to try and help their marriage, against better judgment, the Davis’ decide to purchase a new home in Walnut Creek, OH.  The additional strain of financial issues, when their old house doesn’t sell, adds more pressure.  Jeff has a love for antiques and befriends an Amish couple, Orley and Lois Troyer, who own a local antique store.  A rather unconventional friendship develops between the couples.  Will their friendship and faith-filled influence be enough to help Jeff and Rhonda?

I loved this book.  I appreciated the development of the characters and they really came alive.  I liked that the author wasn’t in a hurry to rush from one action scene to the next.  Instead, the reader gets to know the characters and what made them the way they are.  It was interesting to learn why Jeff and Rhonda had rejected the Christian faith and to see God at work in their breaking down those walls. 

I read a lot of books by Christian writers and publishers, and it’s a rare occurrence these days when the Gospel message is shared as part of the storyline.  That is why I loved this book.  The Troyer’s built a relationship with the Davis’, cared about them, and prayed for them.  They shared their faith and eventually shared the Gospel of Christ with Jeff and Rhonda.  I liked and cared about these characters.

Because I enjoyed the characters and the setting, I didn’t want to rush through reading this book.  This book was very enjoyable.  I appreciated that the storyline was clean, without immorality or profanity. 

I highly recommend The Walnut Creek Wish by Wanda E. Brunstetter.  I love finding an author whose work is new to me, and I look forward to reading more of her work. 

I would like to thank Barbour Publishing, Inc and NetGalley for the opportunity to read a complimentary copy of The Walnut Creek Wish by Wanda E. Brunstetter.  I was under no obligation to give a favorable review. 

Present Danger by Elizabeth Goddard – Lots of Intrigue, But Too Many Characters and Details Took Away from the Storyline

Since I had enjoyed Elizabeth Goddard’s earlier mysteries, I was excited to read her newest book, Present Danger the first book in the Rocky Mountain Courage series

Present Danger is filled with suspense, mystery, and intrigue from the get-go.  Private pilot Chance Carter is taking off with a package containing something illegal and headed to a small airstrip in Montana.  He should have listened to that nagging uneasy feeling.  But when his airplane is about to crash, he’s just trying to survive.  The next two chapters seem disjointed from the first chapter.  We are introduced to Sheriff’s Detective Jack Tanner and US Forest Service Special Agent Terra Connors.  They will be joining forces to investigate the questionable death of a local citizen, Jim Raymond, found in the forest.  Jack and Terra’s relationship goes way back, but they haven’t seen each other in years.  Their relationship didn’t end on a good note however they will strive to put their personal feelings aside and solve this case.

Parts of the book I found interesting, like learning about different aspects of law enforcement in remote forested areas and the illegal sale of Native American artifacts.  However, I thought the book had issues that took away from the storyline and characters.

Present Danger very convoluted and packed with details that did not contribute to the story.  There were too many characters, it was hard to keep track of all of them.  While Jack and Terra had a history, there didn’t seem to be much romance between them.  I kind of liked Jack, but his insecurities that he had carried with him all these years (not based on his own failings or history) got kind of old.  It seemed like an unnecessary element and focus of the story.  I can’t recall if Jack ever told Terra why years before he left town without saying goodbye.  He didn’t come clean and explain what he had overheard her grandfather say.  It bothers me when things in the storyline don’t make sense, like when a character does something illogical that puts themself in danger.  Also, there came a point when Terra should have been removed from the case but she wasn’t.  One of the biggest surprises at the end came out of nowhere and didn’t seem believable.

Elizabeth Goddard describes scenery really well so that the reader can imagine what the place looks like or the characters are experiencing.  She’s done her research and knows jobs and locations well.  But I don’t recommend this book because of the negatives in the story: too many characters; too many unnecessary details that distract instead of moving the story forward; and not making the characters compelling enough to care about them.

While this book has been published by a Christian publisher there wasn’t much concerning the Christian faith in the book. 

I would like to thank Revell Publishing and NetGalley for the opportunity to read a complimentary copy of Present Danger by Elizabeth Goddard.  I was under no obligation to give a favorable review.

Unknown Threat by Lynn H. Blackburn – Interesting plot and characters, but had a convoluted ending

When I saw that Lynn H. Blackburn had a new book out, Unknown Threat (Defend and Protect, Book 1), I wanted to read it because I had enjoyed her earlier novel Beneath the Surface

Unknown Threat’s plotline sounded intriguing.  US Secret Service Special Agents Luke Powell and Zack Thacker went out for an early morning run and when they return to their vehicles suddenly, they are under fire.  As they are lying on the ground looking at their vehicles, they realize that their cars are wired with bombs.  Will they survive until help comes?  Who in the world is trying to kill them and for what reason?  FBI Special Agent Faith Malone has been assigned to investigate these attacks and try and protect the remaining US Secret Service team in Raleigh.

This fast-paced story drew me in from the beginning.  Interesting to think about how people who risk their lives to protect others might respond when they are targeted?  I liked the character Luke Powell and the US Secret Service team, their friendships, and their commitment to one another. 

I didn’t quite connect with Faith Malone, she seemed more like a caricature of a tough single woman who sacrificed her personal life for career advancement.  The repeated Cherry Coke references kind of got old.  It was understandable why Faith might be attracted to Luke who was a decent nice guy, but I didn’t understand what he saw in her. 

Faith’s sister Hope was a very likable and refreshing character.  I would like to see her in future books of the Defend and Protect series.  It was hard to understand how the character Special Agent Janice Estes kept her job.  Was she incompetent or just plain corrupt?  She wasn’t very believable. 

While I liked many of the characters, I struggled a bit with the plotline.  It was very convoluted and I don’t see how a reader would have been able to figure out the mystery.  The story ended rather abruptly and if it hadn’t been for the last chapter summarizing whodunnit and why I don’t think I would have put the pieces together.  Not sure that the motives of the bad guys were believable.   

There wasn’t much about the Christian faith included in the storyline.  But I did appreciate that there was no profanity or sexual immorality.   

The good: likable characters and an interesting scenario.  Not so good: the convoluted plot and ending and one of the main characters wasn’t very likable. 

Would I recommend Unknown Threat by Lynn H. Blackburn?  If you like Lynn’s books give this book a read.  This is the first book in the Defend and Protect series and some of the characters will be carried over to future books.

I would like to thank Revell Publishers and NetGalley for the opportunity to read a complimentary copy of Unknown Threat by Lynn H. Blackburn.  I was under no obligation to give a favorable review. 

J. I. Packer His Life and Thought by Alister McGrath – Learn about this influential Christian Thinker

Following the death of J. I. Packer in 2020, I was interested in reading J. I. Packer His Life and Thought by Alister McGrath.  I wanted to know more about this well-respected man who had impacted Christians through his writing, most notably through Knowing God.

This book is not your typical biography, instead, the author focused on J. I. Packer’s Christian faith, theology, writing, and influence within the Christian community.  I appreciated learning about what was happening within Christianity during Packer’s life and career and his commitment to the authority of Scripture and defense of the faith. 

My favorite part of this book was learning how J. I. Packer came to faith in Jesus Christ and seeing God’s hand direct this young man and use him as a strong defender of the Christian faith.  I would have liked to hear more about the personal aspects of Packer’s life and have a fuller picture of this man of God.

If your faith walk has been influenced by J. I. Packer’s writing, or you would like to learn more about this man who influenced Christian thinking during his lifetime and beyond, I encourage you to read J. I. Packer His Life and Through by Alister McGrath

I would like to thank InterVarsity Press and NetGalley for the opportunity to read a complimentary copy of J. I. Packer His Life and Thought by Alister McGrath.  I was under no obligation to give a favorable review.