Network of Deceit by Tom Threadgill – Filled with Mystery, Intrigue, Suspense – You Won’t Want to Put It Down

It was the storyline, filled with mystery, suspense, and intrigue, that drew me into reading Network of Deceit by Tom Threadgill

On the heels of a highly publicized successful case, Detective Amara Alvarez has been transferred to the homicide division and she’s been assigned her first case.  A young teen, Zachary Coleman, has died at a local waterpark.  The cause of death is not clear and the tox screen won’t be back for weeks.  While there are no clear indications of murder, there’s some suspicious details that Amara wants to investigate.  She’s not one to wait patiently on the sidelines but will take a closer look and delve into the evidence until she has an answer, one way or the other.

The storyline was intriguing, and the evidence was peeled back one layer at a time.  The suspects, Zach’s friends Matias, Haley, and Liam were interesting and obviously trying to cover something up.  But was it related to Zach’s death or was there something illegal that the teens were caught up in?  I enjoyed reading how Amara would reexamine the facts and suspects over and over again until a crack appeared.

My favorite part of the book was the characters, Amara, her coworker Detective Jeremiah Peckham (otherwise known as Starsky).  The relationship between Amara and Starsky was special, they obviously cared about each other and respected one another.  But was there something more going on between them?  I enjoyed Amara’s large and close family especially her mom Maria and Maria’s boyfriend Wylie.  Amara’s family were the kind of people you would want to get to know.  Once you’ve met them, you’ll be welcomed back.  Though work was a big part of Amara’s life, her family was more important and she made time to be with them. 

I very much enjoyed reading Network of Deceit by Tom Threadgill.  It held my attention from the first page to the last.  The plot was interesting and the characters were likable, relatable people that I cared about.  Even the “bad guys” were interesting.  They weren’t vilified to the point that you hated them, but you got to know what made them tick and what made them go down the wrong path.  I didn’t want the story to end.  I hope that these characters come back in future novels. 

You know a book is really good when you are thinking about the story or characters when you aren’t reading the book.  Though faith was not a big part of the storyline, I appreciated that this was a clean book, with no foul language or sexual immorality.  Tom Threadgill knows how to tell a good story, he’s a good writer.  Tom skillfully develops the characters and moves the plotline along as he unveils the mystery and builds suspense.  I look forward to reading more of Tom Threadgill’s books.

I highly recommend Network of Deceit by Tom Threadgill.  I would like to thank Revell, a division of Baker’s Publishing Group for the opportunity to read a complimentary copy of the book.  I was under no obligation to give a favorable review.

When Twilight Breaks by Sarah Sundin – Mixed Feelings

I love reading Sarah Sundin’s historical fiction novels and that’s why I was excited to read her newest book When Twilight Breaks.  This story starts before the beginning of World War II.  Unlike her earlier WWII novels, this story is not focused on characters in the military. 

Evelyn Brand is an American correspondent for American News Service based in Munich, Germany in 1938.  She has a few strikes against her, she’s a woman, young, and will do whatever it takes to get a story.  Evelyn wants to expose the truth of what’s she’s seeing no matter whose toes she’s stepping on.  Denied the opportunity to go where the action is at, Evelyn was sent to do a softball story about American students and their experiences at the University of Munich.  It’s there that Evelyn meets Peter Lang who is working on his Ph.D. in German.  Evelyn and Peter couldn’t be much different.  He appreciates what he sees in Germany, the changes that have happened since 1932 with prosperity, no unemployment, seemingly secure and very orderly.  Peter takes a fancy to Evelyn, though it’s not mutual, he is not easily deterred.

I struggled a bit with this book.  Evelyn’s character was rather off-putting.  She came across as judgmental and a know-it-all.  I felt like I was reading a story with a modern-day woman being put in the middle of a story in the 1930’s.  Something that’s common in today’s movies and TV shows is to portray men as being inferior to women.  I almost felt like that was what I was seeing and it surprised me in a book from an author who is Christian.  Evelyn was shown to have the moral high ground in recognizing the wrong road Germany was headed down.  Peter was depicted as someone who was somewhat blind to the changing atmosphere in Germany. 

My favorite character was Peter.  Though he was slow to start seeing the growing threat to Jewish people in Germany, once he recognized it, he didn’t hesitate to try to help people who were being victimized.  He was kind, caring, patient, and ready to put his life on the line and risk everything he had worked for to help a friend in need.

I did like the secondary characters, Evelyn’s friend Elizabeth White, Herr Gold and Peter’s friends the Schreiber family, and Paul and Simone Aubrey.  There were some heartwarming and good surprises about friends as well as vile words and behavior from so-called friends. 

Regarding the Christian faith, there wasn’t a lot about faith included in When Twilight Breaks.  It was “Christian lite” on the substance of faith and the Gospel was not shared.  I think the book would have been richer if that element of the story had been developed. 

The views of men and women in this book seem to reflect a more secular view from today’s culture.  I was pleasantly surprised by the change in Evelyn.  At first, she seemed selfish and ready to put people at risk for her cause, but later she learned the importance of being interdependent and putting others first. 

It was somewhat eerie reading about the growing intolerance for people who were deemed inferior since we are beginning to see that in our own Country.  A good warning to not go down that path. 

I had mixed feelings about this book.  I liked the character Peter and grew to appreciate Evelyn’s passion to get the truth out about what was happening in Germany.  It made me think about what it must have been like for the people living in Germany, both the Jewish people who were being persecuted and the German citizens who saw what was going on.  I found it both sobering and terrifying. 

I wasn’t keen on the feminist aspects of this book, especially in light of it being written by a Christian author and published by a company that publishes Christian books and authors. 

Would I recommend When Twilight Breaks?  I like Sarah Sundin’s writing, she’s a good storyteller.  However, I think this book was not as good as some of her other books because of what felt like a feminist agenda as opposed to telling a story.  It was informative, disturbing, and interesting to see the progression of Germany going down the wrong road. 

I would like to thank Revell Publishing Group and NetGalley for the opportunity to read When Twilight Breaks by Sarah Sundin.  I was under no obligation to give a favorable review. 

My Words Will Not Pass Away

Morning glory Lord! Father when we read Your Word, there is so much think about, meditate on and contemplate. Like learning from Jacob or meditating on Your goodness and kindness to mankind. But as a Christian, especially during these days there is nothing more comforting than to think about Christ’s return, of Him gathering up His church and the end of days. We do not know the day or hour of Christ’s return, yet we seeing signs that it’s closer with each passing. In these days where truth and justice is not upheld, help Your people to cling to Christ, Your Word and the surety that we have in the knowledge that You will fulfill Your promises. Help us to endure to the end, where we will be saved, delivered, preserved, safe from loss and destruction. May we proclaim the Gospel of Christ to those who don’t yet know You. May we pray boldly to the God who is able to do exceedingly, abundantly, more than we can ask or imagine. May we pray for the salvation of those whose lives seem so lost. Because nothing is too hard for You. As we see churches and pastors and teachers abandoning Your Word for the wisdom and solutions of mankind, help us to remain steadfast in reading and studying the Bible. May it be the plumbline by which we evaluate everything else. We come to You in the name of the One who holds us safe and secure in His hands. The One whom You testified, “This is My Beloved Son in whom I am well pleased.” The Way the Truth and the Life, no one comes to the Father except through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen!

Divine Abandonment

One of the YouTube channels that we regularly follow is Mark Hitchcock’s channel Marking the Times. We really enjoy the talks he has about Bible prophesy and what’s happening in our world currently.

The most recent episode is very sobering. I would encourage you to watch and pay close attention.

When I read the last half of Romans 1, I can’t help but see the downward spiral and progression of sin. As the chapter continues it says, “God gave them over…” That giving people over to their sin and depravity is called Divine Abandonment.

When you see our Country and around the world, you can’t help but see what’s listed in Romans 1:16-32 being played out.

The only hope we have is a merciful God who sent His Only Begotten Son, Jesus Christ to come and be born of a women, live His life perfectly without sin. As the Son of God and Son of Man, He alone was worthy and able to bear our sin debt. He bore the wrath of God that we deserve, He paid the price for our redemption from sin, so that we could be forgiven.

What is required of us? To repent of our sin (agree with God that we have sinned and turn to God and ask for His forgiveness) and believe in Jesus Christ, that He is who He said He is and that His death on our behalf paid the penalty for our sin.

I’m sure many of you have felt the heaviness of what we see going on in our Country. It’s much bigger than loosing an election. It’s seeing our Nation in a downward spiral. But we also have a confident hope and assurance of our salvation. Whether we die or are raptured one day, we know eternal life has been bought and paid for on our behalf by Jesus Christ. He holds us secure in His hand.

If you don’t yet know the Lord, I would ask you pray for God to reveal Himself to you. Watch this video, read the Scriptures, Romans 1 and read Revelation where we learn about the end days and what will happened when God’s wrath is unleashed upon a sinful world. Read the Gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John and see who Jesus Christ was, who He said He was and what He came to do.

Don’t take my word for it, read the Bible for yourself. If you feel like you have led a horrible life of sin and can’t be forgiven, that is a lie straight from the pit of hell. A broken and repentant sinner, God will not cast away. If you choose to reject Jesus Christ and continue in sin, then you will bear the wrath of God for eternity.

Eternal life is not just for Christians. Those who reject God and the forgiveness He offers through His Son Jesus Christ, will also have eternal life. Instead of heaven, it will be hell and eternal punishment.

Please know that in no way do I look down on anyone and think I’m better. I’m not. The only reason I will have eternal life is because God had mercy and compassion on this sinner. He opened my spiritually blind eyes to see. He opened my ears which were deaf to Him. He took this heart of stone and made it a heart of flesh. He helped me to see my sin, repent and turn to Christ Jesus the Lord. And He can do the same for you.

None of us knows the day and hour when we will die. When we will have that last chance to repent of our sin and believe in Jesus Christ. Don’t delay…this literally the most important decision you will ever make.

The Crown in Crisis by Alexander Larman – The Man Who Should Have Never Been King

I wanted to read The Crown in Crisis – Countdown to the Abdication by author Alexander Larman because I had heard about the King Edward VIII’s abdicating the throne for divorcee Mrs. Wallis Simpson.  I didn’t know any of the details other than the fact that Mrs. Simpson was an American who was twice divorced.  It all seemed very romantic and like true love that would bring a man to give up the throne of England to be with his beloved.

Well, I was in for an awakening.  As I write my thoughts about King Edward VIII, I need to divorce my feels about him from what I think about this book.

As the man was portrayed in this book, I found King Edward VIII to be an arrogant, rude, immature, vapid, insufferable, selfish, boring jerk who focused on himself instead of others.  He put himself over and above the Country he had been entrusted with.  Mrs. Wallis Simpson wasn’t much better.  She seemed to be on a quest for power and money and used sex or whatever she had to entrap men, including King Edward VIII.  Wallis was not twice divorced, but once when she started committing adultery with King Edward.  As part of their weird relationship, a plan was implemented for Wallis to divorce her current husband so the two could marry.  But they made it look like Wallis’ husband was the one who was committing adultery and she was the innocent one.  Their adultery was blatant and it fractured Edward’s relationship with his father, King George V. 

Not sure if the book accurately portrayed Kind Edward VIII and Wallace Simpson?  It may have been accurate.  Obviously, when a man is ready to toss the crown away for a woman who uses people, they will make a few enemies along the way.  It was hard to tell if the author had a negative viewpoint of the King and Mrs. Simpson, or if the preponderance of information about them was negative from the people who surrounded them during this timeframe. 

Regarding the book, apart from two very dislikable people, it had some negatives.  The book came across as very gossipy, and you know gossips are not always the most reliable source.  At times, I found the story and scenes confusing in how they were written.  It has long sentences that made the point hard to follow.  There were volumes of people in this book, too many to really tell the story in a straight, interesting understandable manner.  Some of the accounts were very confusing and skipped from one person to another.  There didn’t seem to be a logical order, especially about to the attempted assassination of King Edward VIII.  At times, the author went into too much detail and pursued rabbit trails that took away from the story instead of making it richer.  It seemed like the author had so much information about King Edward VIII and Mrs. Simpson from the many, many people that surrounded them that he included it all in the book.  I’m sure he left a lot out, but I found this book was not written in a fashion that made drew the reader in and unveiled what happened during this crisis in an interesting, logical, and organized way. 

I hated the first chapter, it was gross and vile in what was said and seemed to be rumors, innuendo, and speculation as opposed to facts.  Throughout this book, I noted many times that it seemed gossipy.  If I hadn’t agreed to read the book and give a review, I would have closed the book and not finished it.

I did find that the last third of the book interesting.  You would think if someone wanted to walk away from the throne, they could hand over the reins to the next one in line.  Not so.  It was a huge crisis for England and there were a lot of politics and power plays that were happening and of course, family relationships that were impacted.  This was the part of the book that was most interesting. 

King Edward VIII was a man who should have never been king.  From the beginning, I thought it was God’s providence that spared England from a weak self-absorbed king, as the nation would soon be in a war for the survival of their nation and the free world. 

Would I recommend this book?  Probably not.  Take into account the good and bad information and make a decision if you would like to read it.

I would like to thank St. Martin’s Press and NetGalley for the opportunity to read the The Crown in Crisis by Alexander Larman.  I was provided with a complimentary copy of this book and not under any obligation to give a favorable review. 

Love the Lord your God

Morning glory Lord! I thank You for the clarity of Scripture, it is the plumbline by which we should measure all other things. It is the mirror by which we should examine ourselves. It is truth and that which varies from Scripture I should disregarded. You have commanded Your people to love You with all our heart, mind, soul and strength. Help me to not have a divided heart. May my soul find joy and peace in You alone. Help me to love You with my mind, read Your Word and know what You have revealed about Yourself. Let me know You and Your Word for myself, not solely through secondhand teaching. Let me be a Berean and search the Scriptures so that I know if a teacher or pastor is accurately teaching Your Word. May my heart and mind be captivated by Christ Jesus with a holy devotion. May my strength and effort be devoted to You. You have told us that if we love You we will keep Your commandments. You have commanded us to love our neighbors as ourselves. Lord, we are able to do that when we love others with the love Christ has shown us. Help us to walk one day at a time with our focus on You. Thank You for Your Son Jesus Christ. Thank You for His sinless and holy life. Thank You for the truth He boldly proclaimed. Thank You that He was fully God and full Man, that He our compassionate, merciful, gracious Great High Priest, Savior and Sacrifice. Thank You that by His death the sin debt of all who repent and believe was paid. Help us to walk through the power of the Holy Spirit in wisdom and truth. It is in the name of the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world that we come to You. Amen and amen!

Triumphal Entry

Morning glory and evening grace Lord! What was it like, the day of Jesus Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem? People spread their garments on the road before Him and cried out, “Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord.” The prophesied day had arrived. Those who knew the Scripture should have anticipated His arrival. As jubilant as the crowd was celebrating King David’s descendant, a few days later they would cry, “Crucify Him!, when Pilate asked what he should do with the King of the Jews. As horrifying as it is to think about, that’s what Christ Jesus came to do. The sinless Son of God would be put to death on a cross like a common criminal. Not for anything He did wrong, but because that was the plan from before the foundations of the world were laid. Before the first sin was committed Jesus knew He would be born of a woman. The One who is fully God would be fully Man. He would die on a cross bearing the punishment for all who would repent and believe in His substitutionary sacrifice on our behalf. Lord, never let me forget the price that was paid for my redemption by my Kinsman Redeemer. Let me not take my sin lightly or turn a blind eye when others sin. Let me daily wage my battle with sin. Let me meditate on Your Word, be washed by the Water of the Word. Let me eagerly tell others of the One who loves their soul. It’s in the precious name of Jesus Christ Lord, God and Savior I come to You. Amen!

Faithful Servant

Evening grace Lord! When we read Your Word Lord, we are amazed because there is so much to see. So much that is going on. We see that You are a faithful God, a covenant keeping God. You made a covenant with Abraham and his descendants. Abraham was 100 years old when the son You promised was born to him and Sarah. You promised that they would have descendants as numerous as the stars of heaven. When Isaac is 40, Abraham send his faithful servant off to find a bride for Isaac from among his people. Abraham is confident that You will lead his servant to the right place and people. When he arrives in Nahor, he prayed a prayer to his master’s God. You answered his prayer down to the finest detail and showed lovingkindness to his master Abraham. I can’t help but see not only were You at work to find a bride for Isaac, but You also revealed Yourself to Abraham’s faithful servant. He bowed down and worshiped You. Lord , You are a God who cares and You desire that all would come to repentance and salvation through Abraham’s descendant Jesus Christ. Not just a Man, but God incarnate. You are the One and Only God who saves. We come to You in the name of Your Beloved Son, the One who was a Suffering Servant who bore our sin on the cross. Hallelujah, what a Savior. Amen!

Abraham, Abraham!

Morning glory and evening grace Lord! May I never forget that the Bible is history, filled with real people and real circumstances. When I read the story of Abraham taking his son, his only son Isaac, up to the mountain to offer him as a sacrifice as You commanded, I can’t imagine what Abraham must have felt. You had told him the day before what he was to do. He didn’t drag his feet or delay but got up early. He split the wood that for the fire and walked with son Isaac up the mountain. What did they talk about? Was Abraham’s heart heavy, or did he remind himself what we read in Hebrews 11:17-19, that God who had promised descendants through Isaac was able to raise him from the dead? Abraham bound Isaac and was ready to slay him when he heard, “Abraham, Abraham!” You knew that Abraham feared You and held back nothing. In reading this account, I can’t help but think of Christ Jesus, Your only begotten Son. Unlike Isaac, Jesus knew what would happen and He was the willing sacrifice. Jesus carried the wood for His sacrifice on the cross. Not a pile of firewood, but huge heavy cross. This time there would no voice from heaven stopping His sacrifice. Jesus’ dead body would be removed from the cross. He would be placed in a borrowed grave where He would rise three days later. Your beloved Son in whom You are well pleased. This was Your plan from before the foundations of the world. Can I confess, doing good to my enemies doesn’t come naturally. But that’s what You did. While we were still Your enemies Christ died for us. Thank You Lord for the greatest gift we could ever receive. Thank You Jesus for being the sacrifice in our place. Thank You Holy Spirit convicting us of sin and bringing us repentance. We come to You in the name of Your Beloved Son Jesus Christ…Amen!

Burden of Proof by Davis Bunn – Fascinating Storyline and Interesting Characters

While I’ve never read any books by Davis Bunn, I was intrigued by the blurb on the cover of Burden of Proof

Who can say that they don’t have things in their life that they regret?  If given the chance to do things differently, would you?  That’s the dilemma that’s facing Ethan Barrett.  He’s been given a death sentence by his doctor, and his time is short.  When he meets his sister-in-law Sonya, whom he hasn’t seen in thirty-five years, she is seeking his help to try and change the course of history.  Ethan wasn’t there with his brother Adrian was shot and killed on the courthouse steps.  If he had been there, would the circumstances have changed?  Ethan is about to find out.

This book is very different from what I typically read.  It’s got a bit of science fiction in the storyline.  Davis Bunn is a good writer because he draws the reader into the story from the get-go.  I don’t take much of an interest in surfing, so I was surprised to like the main character Ethan and enjoy reading about his experiences, what he saw and felt while surfing.  I found the characters very likable and appreciated seeing the characters grow and change.  Early in the book, I didn’t much care for Sonya, but as the story progressed, I really saw her in a new light and came to like the character.  The story was interesting to contemplate and had mystery and intrigue too.  I appreciated the details describing the settings where the story took place because it helped me to envision scenes as I read.

The book is published by Revell Publishing, which is a Christian publisher, so I had hoped that the Christian faith would have been woven into the storyline.  But it wasn’t.  Towards the end of the book, Ethan is talking with a friend who encouraged him to live life with an eternal perspective.  While that was thought-provoking, the story could have been much richer if the Gospel of Christ had been included and woven into the characters’ lives.

I found that the last section was a bit much with the courtroom scenes and Adrian questioning his wife Sonya about her scientific research.  I wish it had been clearer and more concise.  There were allegations hinted at about the company that wanted to buyout Sonya’s company.  Not sure why, but they seemed to dance around it instead of making a clear and straightforward assertion about their motives.

Though the Christian faith is not a part of the story, I appreciated that there was no profanity and the story was clean. 

All in all, I very much liked Burden of Proof by Davis Bunn.  The storyline was compelling and fascinating.  The characters were interesting and well developed.  I look forward to reading more of Davis Bunn’s books.

I would like to thank Revell Publishing for the opportunity to read Burden of Proof by Davis Bunn.  I was under no obligation to give a favorable review. 

The Escape by Lisa Harris – Interesting Story and Likeable Characters

I love reading books filled with mystery, suspense, and intrigue and that’s why I was excited to read The Escape by Lisa Harris, an author whose work is new to me.  This is the first book in the US Marshalls series. 

Could it really be five years since Madison James’ husband Luke had been murdered?  Her life had been changed forever, but she had thrown herself into her career as a US Marshall.  Though it was an important anniversary, she had a job to do, transporting two prisoners from Seattle to Denver.  She would be joined by US Marshall Jonas Quinn, with whom she had trained a few years ago.  Jonas had just moved back to Seattle, though he was planning for a couple days off, duty called.  Any hope for a smooth prisoner transport was quickly abandoned as their private plane crash-landed in the forests over Idaho.  Just because their plane crashed didn’t mean their job was over. 

I really enjoyed reading The Escape.  From the get-go, I found this book very engaging.  The characters were likable, and the storyline was interesting.  I liked the rapport between Madison and Jonas and that they had mutual respect for one another.  There was a little bit of romantic attraction and it was expressed appropriately for a Christian book.  I liked how the characters were revealed over time as they got to know one another.  I’ve never read anything about the US Marshalls and learned a little bit about this law enforcement agency.  The author was good at describing the scenic settings. 

I very much liked this book, yet there were times that the story seemed to drag.  The number of times the escaped prisoner got away and posed a threat to the general public seemed a bit much.  I wondered in real life that if a US Marshall had been foiled by the bad guy too many times, would they be fired? 

Something else that didn’t seem realistic was the plane crash where both Madison and Jonas sustained injuries.  But those injuries didn’t seem to stop them in their quest to get the prisoner.  The story wasn’t wrapped up entirely at the end, but it appears that there will be a book two where their story will carry on. 

I love finding a new author whose work I like and look forward to reading more books by Lisa Harris.  What I liked best about her writing is how she develops relationships. 

If you like suspense, mystery, intrigue, romance, or books on law enforcement, I recommend The Escape by Lisa Harris

I would like to thank Revell Publishing and NetGalley for the opportunity to read The Escape by Lisa Harris.  I was under no obligation to give a favorable review. 

Point of Danger by Irene Hannon – Mixed Emotions

Irene Hannon is one of my favorite writers and that’s why I was excited to read her newest book Point of Danger

Conservative radio talk show host Eve Reilly is used to getting hate mail, but one evening she encounters something a whole lot scarier, a bomb package on her doorstep.  Eve calls 911 and while she waits for the police to arrive, she tries to make sure that her elderly neighbor Oliva gets to safety as well as her neighbor’s dog that she’s pet sitting.  Rookie detective Brent Lange will be the officer investigating the case and trying to find out who hates Eve enough to want her dead. 

This book has an interesting premise and some likable characters, but it also has some issues that take away or detract from the storyline.

What worked in this novel?  I liked detective Brent Lange and I cared about the character.  He seemed like a stand-up guy, loyal and dependable, who cared about people.  I liked Eve’s sisters Grace and Cate, they seemed to genuinely care about their sister and were there for her during this crisis.  I kind of, sort of liked Eve.  I appreciated that Eve saw qualities in Brent that were admirable and that she tried to communicate with him in an effective way to draw him out.  I rather liked the story told from different characters’ points of view, but with so many characters it got a bit much. 

What didn’t work?  There were a lot of characters in this book and too many potential suspects.  There was Eve’s boss Doug and Carolyn a competitor who wanted Eve’s job.  There was Eve’s assistant Meg Jackson and her husband Steve.  Eve’s former boyfriend was a suspect.  There’s a suspect that is not identified until later in the book and then there’s the brain behind the operation that is way out of left field.  That one kind of stretched the imagination and that aspect of the storyline could have been better developed.

While the word Christian wasn’t specifically used to describe Eve, there were references to Eve going to church and praying.  But there was not a lot in Eve’s behavior or words that would lead me to believe that she was a Christian.  Some of the early scenes between Eve and Brent focused on their physical attraction, which seems particularly odd considering that she just had a bomb scare.  I don’t think that Eve’s character was well developed, in part because the focus was on her words and actions.  The character was a local conservative talk show host, not national, and that’s why it seemed odd that this local gal would be the target of a hate group. The relationship between Meg and her husband Steve went into some details that I found not appropriate in a book by a Christian author and publisher, as was the relationship between Doug and Carolyn. 

There were some aspects of the Christian faith developed in Brent, but not so much with the other characters or storyline.  That’s something I would have like to have seen focused on with the characters.  One thing stood out towards the end of the novel, Eve’s sister Cate said, “Right or wrong, I’m not wasting any prayers for recovery on his behalf.”  Really?  This is not a Christian book, but it’s written by an author who is a Christian and published by Revell which publishes books by Christian authors.  Should books published under a Christian banner be held to a different or higher standard?  I think they should. 

I like politics so that aspect of the book was interesting to me.  But I thought adding the Antifa aspect in this story was probably not the best.  The group was cleaned up compared to what people have seen on the news for the last few months.  I found it was naive at best when they were described as using intimidation, carrying signs that said, “Down with Government Oppression”, and using smoke cartridges to emit smoke without causing harm. 

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

Before the Crown by Flora Harding -Interesting Read

The story begins in 1943, Elizabeth is 17 years old, and she and her sister Margaret are doing a play at Windsor Castle.  Elizabeth is peeking out from behind the curtains to see if Prince Philip is in the audience.  She has a crush on the Prince and is hoping to see him again.  The story covers the next four years of their relationship.  Was it love and romance?  Or was it a practical arranged marriage between royalty to form alliances?

I found the story interesting, especially contemplating what a young woman’s life would be like as a princess.  In many respects, as the heir apparent, her life and choices were not her own.  I’m curious to know if this fictional account captured what Elizabeth’s personality was like.  The character had a solemnity about her because of the responsibilities that she would take on in the future.  Philip was quite a contrast to Elizabeth.  Though older the character came off as somewhat immature and irresponsible.  He was pressured by family to think practically about his future and opportunities and he wavered between that and desire for freedom and to live his life how he wanted to live it.

The book started out a little slow but picked up midway.  With each scene, I got to know a little bit more about Elizabeth and Philip.  Her father, King George, was an imposing character but you don’t really get to know him apart from his interaction with Elizabeth and Philip.  It was interesting to see their lives against the backdrop of WWII and the years after the war. 

I liked Before the Crown and found this book very interesting.  I wish that the author had included information about what was true and taken from facts and information versus what was fictional.  There is some profanity in this novel.  This book makes me want to read a biography about Queen Elizabeth and get insight into this woman who has been an influential figure for 58 years. 

What I liked best about Before the Crown is that it made me think about what it must be like to come from royalty and have great responsibilities thrust upon you.  I came away with a new respect for Queen Elizabeth.  While reading Before the Crown, I found online pictures of Queen Elizabeth as a young girl from Town & Country Magazine.  It was fascinating to see pictures of Elizabeth in connection with this historical fiction account.

I found Before the Crown, by Flora Harding, very interesting and enjoyed reading it.  If you like historical fiction, romance, or have an interest in royalty you may want to read this book.

I would like to thank publisher One More Chapter and NetGalley for an opportunity to read Before the Crown by Flora Harding.  I was provided a complimentary copy of the E-book and was under no obligation to give a favorable review. 

Remembering Rudy

Oh, how my heart hurts
For my sweet boy Rudy
Has passed away
So sudden and unexpected

I’m surrounded by so many memories
Everywhere I turn
I remember where you were
Because everything has a story

You came into my life during some difficult years
I remember adopting you, this cute little orange kitten
Rather scrappy but oh so full of personality
That boy could purr

When we open the door
You were always there to greet us
You never knew a stranger
Always eager to meet someone new

Perched on your cat stand
You looked out the window
Watched the birds
Then napped in the sun

With patience you waited for your brother Junior
Until he came out of hiding three weeks later
Then you became fast friends for life
Sure, you had your little tussles but they didn’t last

When Sissy came along
You watched and waited for her
Soon she was with you 24/7
How her heart must be hurting right now

I will always remember our drive from California to Texas, 3 ½ days
3 kitties in their carries, 2 birds in a cage, winding our way in 2 cars
Junior and Sissy slept in their litter box and piddled in their beds
Only Rudy got it right

Oh, how my sweet boy loved sunshine
Catching a patch of morning sunshine in the office
Sitting on the tub for early afternoon
Catching the last rays of sun as you lay on our bed

Boy oh boy, did Rudy love to eat
The big boy with the tiny meow
Persistently and loudly let us know it was breakfast time
Getting close to dinner, Rudy was there to keep me on track

Rudy knew the real deal
A piece of chicken or tuna, uh no thank you
Cat treats, No! Wouldn’t touch it!
He stuck with the real stuff, canned food and dry

Towards the end of his days
When his sight was failing
He would tap his water so he could know it was there
Then we would find a little trail of Rudy prints on the floor

Rudy loved to be loved
He loved to meet new people
He made friends where ever he went, even the vets
We often heard, “He is so sweet!”

But he had a special friendship
With our friend Julie
My social butterfly needed companionship
So, Julie came and spent time with him while we were away

When we had guests
The other kitties were scarce
But Rudy safely guarded Ron and Carol
Keeping watch just outside their door

Rudy loved water, at bath time
He would sit on the side and drape his tail in the water
After a shower, he could be found sitting in the stall
Not the least disturbed by the water

Clipping his nails was a breeze
I could easily snip them off and be done
Not so with Junior who has to be tackled
Taking three times longer

Rudy wasn’t fearful or afraid
I never heard him growl or hiss
Towards the end, he was leery of our new dryer
He could see the clothes through the glass door and rushed on by

My favorite time with Ru was nap time
He would never sit on my lap
But he loved to curl up and lay by my side
Tucked safely under the blanket

He slept better than anyone I’ve ever known
And he snored…loudly!
When we let him sleep in our room
He slept the whole night through

It was fun to watch Rudy, even in his old age
Have moments when he was frisky and playful
Batting a catnip mouse on the floor
Or watching the ball go around the cat scratcher

The end came sudden and so unexpected
What seemed like a simple vet visit
Soon escalated into something serious
We had a hard decision to make

You sought to be alone, curled up in a corner
Suddenly, Sissy hissed, was afraid and stayed away
Junior who had been with you for years
Wouldn’t come near and ran away

As you laid in your bed in the sun
Sissy fearfully peered around the corner
With big eyes she watched
Then ran away

As we drove to the vet
I sat beside you
Petting you for the last time
My poor boy, you were suffering and in pain

In tears we held you
Heard you purr your last purr
And then you were gone
Rudy, you took a piece of my heart with you

It’s hard walking in our home and remember you are no longer there
Each room I enter there are memories of you
I miss you my sweet boy, you were my ray of sunshine
Ever so grateful that you were ours for 13 ½ years

Rudy, mama’s sweet boy
Adopted October 28, 2006
Died May 7, 2020

 

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.

 

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.

 

Five Minute Friday – What’s in a Name?

I’m participating in this week’s Five Minute Friday writing challenge.  If you like to write or need some inspiration and encouragement be sure to check it out.

Today word prompt:  Name

For the first 3 months of my life I didn’t have a name because I was given up for adoption at birth.  On my original birth certificate, it only recorded my birth mother’s last name.  Legal paperwork recorded my name as Baby Girl Dawson.

Three months later, my parents Frank and Gayle Bunts adopted me and I was given the name Susan Harriett Bunts.  From that day on, I was someone’s daughter and sister to my brothers Michael and Patrick.

My first name was given by my brother Michael.  He had a girlfriend named Susan and later he had a cow that he named Suzy.  The name Susan means lily and is of Hebrew origins.  When I think of a lily, I think of Easter and the resurrection of Jesus Christ.  The name Harriett was the name of my father’s mother whom he loved greatly.  Harriett is French and means home ruler which is kind of appropriate because I love being home.  “There’s no place like home.”

At the age of 49, I was given a new last name when I married Christopher Wachtel and I was welcomed into the Wachtel family.  I wish I had the opportunity to meet my in-law Leo and Ruth Wachtel.  I look forward to meeting them in heaven.  In the mean time I am blessed to know the rest of the Wachtel family.

Even though I’ve lived with those names for many years, the name I value most is Christian.  At the age of 32, I finally recognized that I was a sinner and repented of my sin.  I recognized that there is a God to whom I will give an account and that He is the God of the Bible.  He made a way for me to be forgiven through His Son Jesus Christ and His sacrificial atoning death on the cross.  Christ’s death paid the penalty for my sin and for all who repent believe in Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of their sin.

God assures believers that He has called us by name.

“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;
I have called you by name; you are Mine!”
Isaiah 43:1 c-d

Everyone who is called by My name,
And whom I have created for My glory,
Whom I have formed, even whom I have made.”

Isaiah 43:7

Though I didn’t have a name for the first three months of my life, God knew me and He called me by name.

13 For You formed my inward parts;
You wove me in my mother’s womb.
14 I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
Wonderful are Your works,
And my soul knows it very well.
15 My frame was not hidden from You,
When I was made in secret,
And skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth;
16 Your eyes have seen my unformed substance;
And in Your book were all written
The days that were ordained for me,
When as yet there was not one of them.

Psalm 139:13-16

Before God laid the foundations of the world, He knew and called me.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him.  In love He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved.

Ephesians 1:3-6

28 And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. 29 For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; 30 and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified.

Romans 8:28-30

Though I did not have a name for the first three months of my life, God knew me, He knew my name and He called me to salvation through Jesus Christ.

Though I may have been considered an accident by my birth mother, God planned my life before He laid the foundations of the world.

When I think about who I am, first and foremost I think of myself as a Christian and that truth overshadows everything else in my life.

 

Desperate Faith

He was a man of desperate faith
Jairus was willing to risk it all
As he fell at the feet of Jesus

Reputation, respect and honor
What did that mean to him now
As his little girl lay dying

He went to the One
The only One who had the power
Over sickness and disease, even life and death

In desperation he begged
My daughter, she is going to die, unless
Please…come…touch and heal her. So, Jesus went.

She was desperate, when would she ever have another chance
The crowds said Jesus was coming
He alone had the power to heal her

For twelve long years, she was considered unclean
An outcast, no one would even touch her
Everything had been wasted on doctors who couldn’t help her

In faith, with a trembling hand
She reached out and touched the hem of Jesus’ cloak
Immediately, after twelve long years, she was healed

Instead of going on His way
Jesus stopped
“Who touched Me?”

He looked around and saw her
He cared for her, for she was someone’s beloved daughter too
She confessed, He proclaimed, “Your faith has made you well.”

Waiting, the father’s desperation grew
Every moment, with every delay
He wondered, was his daughter still alive

The synagogue officials came with grim news
Don’t bother, she’s dead
Then Jesus said, “Do not fear…only believe.”

When they arrived, they were greeted with weeping and wailing
Mourners laughed when Jesus said, “She’s asleep.”
But the place emptied when He said leave

Surrounded by those who loved this girl
Parents with desperate faith
Jesus commanded, “Talitha, arise!” And she arose.

Astounded with joy
Her parents took her by the hand
“Tell no one!” And Jesus departed

Susan Wachtel
January 7, 2019