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. 

Ever Constant by Tracie Peterson and Kimberley Woodhouse – Likable Characters, Living Faith and An Interesting Setting

Recently, I rediscovered Tracie Peterson’s writing and really enjoyed it.  That’s why I was excited to read her newest book Ever Constant, co-authored with Kimberley Woodhouse.  This is the third book in The Treasures of Nome series.  The story is set in the early 1900s in Alaska and is historical fiction.  I did not read the first two novels, but this book works well as a standalone.

Ever Constant tells the story about the Powell family, and this book focuses on Whitney Powell, the oldest daughter.  The family has not had an easy life, but they remain steadfast in their faith and commitment to each other.  The Powell family lives on their grandfather’s farm, including Whitney’s two sisters, Havyn and Madysen, and their husbands.  The family has experienced change and loss as their mother has recently died.  Whitney has always been the strong sister that everyone relies upon, but difficult circumstances have taken their toll on her.  Her faith is not what it used to be, and in her pain Whitney is vulnerable. 

Judas Reynolds has been a friend-of-the-family for years and is trusted by their grandfather.  But Judas is now looking at Whitney in a different light.  Dr. Peter Cameron has been there for the family, and his friendship with Whitney has grown.  Will true love finally come to Whitney?  Will she have the courage to take a closer look at herself and acknowledge how she has changed?  Will she recognize her need for God and be open with those who love her?

In some respects, this was a painful book to read.  Painful because of the downward spiral that Whitney is in.  But it was also heartwarming because of the love and support the family had for one another.  The family was gracious and kind.  I love the relationship the sisters had with one another.

What I appreciated most was how the characters were portrayed in living out their Christian faith.  It was wonderful to see prayer modeled and the Gospel of Christ was shared.  God’s love towards sinners and how one can be forgiven was part of the story.  I wish a loving warning to an unrepentant sinner about what happens if you reject God’s forgiveness had been emphasized too.  I only recall one time where that was mentioned.

I really liked this book and enjoyed the characters.  I appreciated how grace, kindness, and forgiveness were lived out by the characters.  An important element of repentance was also part of this story.  I liked learning about Alaska and what it was like during the gold rush in the early 1900s.  I very much recommend Ever Constant by Tracie Peterson and Kimberley Woodhouse

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

Backlash by Rachel Dylan – Likeable Characters, Interesting Storyline, Filled with Intrigue

I’ve read several books by Rachel Dylan and really enjoyed them.  That is why I was excited to read her latest book, Backlash, the second book in the Capital Intrigue series.

Layla Karam is a CIA Analyst, which fits her perfectly, but because of her skills, she has been pushed to work as a field agent.  Her assignment was part of a DEA operation in Honduras.  The team is back in the US, but they are not safe because someone is targeting the team.  Following a break-in, bombing, and murder, Layla is just trying to stay alive and figure out who is targeting her and the team?  Is it someone from the drug cartel?  Is there a mole within the CIA or DEA?  Why in the world is Layla at the center of an IG investigation?  To get through this mess, she’s going to have to seek help from the one person she’d like to steer clear of, her ex-boyfriend Hunter McCoy. 

I really like Rachel Dylan’s writing style.  From the get-go, she draws the reader into the story.  The characters are likable, and the storyline is interesting.  Several mysteries are going on in Backlash.  Who is behind the murder and attempts to kill the DEA Honduras operations team?  How did straight and narrow, law-abiding Layla end up the subject of an IG investigation?  The characters from the first novel End Game have returned in Backlash, including NCIS Agent Izzy Cole.  Layla is not the only one facing an investigation.  Her friend Izzy is a prime suspect in the murder of her former police sergeant that had sexually assaulted her.  Layla and Izzy will rely on the support and help of good friends who care.

I appreciated the friendships, people who were committed to each other.  There were some surprises in this book, like who the “bad guy” was.  I was guessing but got it wrong.  Faith was a small part of the book, mostly seen with Layla’s character.  I appreciated that this was a clean novel.  There were times towards the end that the story seemed to drag a bit, but I still liked this book.

I would recommend Backlash, especially for those who like suspense, mysteries, intrigue, or stories involving law enforcement.  I look forward to reading more of Rachel Dylan’s books and the next book in the Capital Intrigue series.

I would like to thank Bethany House Publishers and NetGalley for an opportunity to read a complimentary copy of Backlash by Rachel Dylan.  I was under no obligation to give a favorable review. 

Minutes to Die by Susan Sleeman – Suspense and Intrigue that Grabs Your Attention

Minutes to Die was the first book I’ve read by author Susan Sleeman.  It’s the second book in the Homeland Heroes series.  The storyline is what drew me in.

FBI Agent Kiley Dawson was meeting with a confidential informant on a foggy night in Washington, D.C.  Her trusted source had information about a terrorist attack planned for the anniversary of 9/11.  As Kiley was arranging for witness protection a gunshot pierced the night and Firuzeh was dead.  Now what?  Soon Kiley and her team were headed to Tacoma, Washington, and looking into a different case.  A container was found at a shipyard that had been used to transport terrorists into the Country.  Kylie is reunited with ICE Agent Even Bowers as they join forces to stop a terrorist attack.  But the only thing they know for sure is the date of the attack, September 11th, and the clock is ticking.

Minutes to Die got my attention from the get-go and didn’t let up until the end.  It’s fast-paced as the characters worked to try and put together the pieces of the puzzle.  What kind of terror attack is planned?  Where will it occur?  Who are the bad guys planning to bring terror and destruction to untold millions and where are they now?  Is this case somehow tied to the murder of Firuzeh?

I liked the main characters, Kiley and Evan, and also the team members.  Each one has their area of expertise and they worked well together to try and stop the terrorist attack.  The team has been together for a while and they know, respect, and trust each other and have each other’s back.  They are an asset to Kiley as she takes the lead for the first time in an investigation.  The odd man out is Evan.  Kiley and Evan have a history and she’s not sure she can get past it.

The details of the investigation were fascinating and it was interesting to learn about different technologies available to help process evidence.

I struggled a bit with Kiley as she seemed to hang on to resentment toward Evan and her mother.  Towards the end of the book she does work through the issues she’s been holding on to.

I would have liked to have seen the Christian faith developed greater with Kiley and Evan, something more than just brief arrow prayers in times of danger.  There seemed to be an overemphasis on their physical attraction.  It seemed a bit much especially in light of the impending terrorist attack.

Despite the things I struggled with, I did like Minutes to Die by Susan Sleeman.  It was very suspenseful, interesting, and it held my attention to the end.  I came away from this wanting to read more of the author’s books.

If you like suspense and intrigue give Minutes to Die by Susan Sleeman a try.

I would like to thank Bethany House Publishers and NetGalley for the opportunity to read a complimentary copy of Minutes to Die by Susan Sleeman.  I was under no obligation to give a favorable review.

 

The Crushing Depths by Dani Pettrey – Romance, Mystery and Suspense

The Crushing Depths by author Dani Pettrey is the second book in her Coastal Guardians series.  The storyline is why I wanted to read this book.

The Dauntless is an oil rig 38 miles off the coast of North Carolina.  Greg Barnes has had a very bad day and he’s looking forward to having a cigarette break.  When he steps outside, he can hear the environmental protesters chanting.  Do they ever take a break?  When he flicks his lighter, little does he know that his day is going to get a whole lot worse.  Was this a tragic accident or something more sinister?  Former friends are reunited when Rissi Dawson and Mason Rogers are called in to investigate the accident as part of the Coast Guard Investigation Services team.  Before investigators can even reach the Dauntless the action heats up.

What I really liked most about this book was the relationship between Rissi and Mason.  Especially learning of their friendship from when they were young.  I liked the support that the CGIS team gave one another and their friendships.  I appreciated that faith was included through prayer.  I would like to have seen the characters personal faith developed further.  It was interesting learning about what it’s like working on an oil rig out in the ocean.  Those are some of the elements that worked well.

I struggled with the book in a few areas.  There were so many characters that it was kind of hard to keep track.  While I liked the characters, Noah and Brooke, I thought that the storyline involving these characters didn’t advance the main story and was almost a distraction.  I think another book about Noah would be good.  There was a lot of action and at times the story dragged switching between the main story and the one involving Noah.

Something that seemed odd was the personal relationships and romance that developed between characters that worked together, especially in light of how that is viewed in today’s culture.  Since there was a deep bond between Rissi and Mason focusing on their physical attraction seemed unnecessary and perhaps not what I would expect in a book by a Christian author.

I thought that the transitions between storylines within chapters could have been handle better.  I would recommend some kind of a break, like a line, to show the story is now focusing on different characters or have shorter chapters.

If you are a fan of Dani Pettrey or like romantic mysteries, suspense or stories that involve the military you may want to read her newest book The Crushing Depths.

I would like to thank Bethany House Publishers and NetGalley for the opportunity to read a complimentary copy of Dani Pettrey’s newest book The Crushing Depths.  I was under no obligation to give a favorable review.

 

My Heart, Ever His by Barbara Rainey – Positively Lovely, A Keeper and Makes a Wonderful Gift to Give

As someone who loves poetry and likes to write writing out prayers, I wanted to read Barbara Rainey’s new book My Heart, Ever His.  This book is positively lovely!

Barbara’s prayers are heartfelt, God-honoring and glorifying.  They are honest, open and transparent.  Kind of like the Psalms, Barbara honestly shares with the Lord what she is feeling, but she comes back to who God is, what He has done in her life and others and who He has revealed Himself to be in the Bible.

I love that Scripture is included in the prayers and in the E-book the Scripture verses are highlighted in a different color and at the end of each prayer is a link to the end of the book where each prayer’s Scripture verses are documented so you can look them up for yourself.

Many of the prayers seemed especially relevant and timely considering all that we are going through as a Nation.  My heart was convicted, encouraged, strengthened.  It is comforting to know other women share similar struggles but also know where our Hope truly lies.  I felt like I was sitting across from a friend who was sharing from her heart about her life.

Even in the Christian community, there are times where we put on a good face and may not always share what we are struggling with.  After reading these prayers, you may desire to be honest and open, but also challenged to not just present only your hurts to the Lord, but go back to God’s Word and be encouraged to remember who He is and what He has done for us through His Son Jesus Christ.

The prayers range from who we are as Christians, God as our Security, physical needs and health, emotional needs, relationships, faith, lives which have turned out different than what we hoped, God’s Word and prophesy, Jesus Christ our Savior, Redeemer, salvation, security, suffering, seasons, and surrender.

I love this book!  My Heart, Ever His by Barbara Rainey is a keeper.  It’s also one that I want to share with others.  I highly recommend this book and look forward to reading it again and again.

I would like to thank Bethany House Publishers and NetGalley for the opportunity to read My Heart, Ever His by Barbara Rainey which was provided to me for free.  I was under no obligation to give a favorable review.

 

End Game by Rachel Dylan – Fast Paced and Filled with Suspense, Intrigue and Likable Characters

When I saw that author, Rachel Dylan had published a new book, End Game – Capital Intrigue Book 1, I was excited to read it.

When FBI Agent Bailey Ryan and NCIS Special Agent Marco Agostini were called in to investigate the murder of Navy Petty Officer Sean Battle little did they know that they would be drawn into a complicated, ever-widening case that would prove to be dangerous and deadly.  Where would it end?  Just who was involved?  How deep did the corruption go?  Who can they trust?  Where would their investigation lead?

I loved this book.  It was filled with suspense and intrigue from beginning to end.  What I liked most about this book were the characters.  They were nice, decent, honest people who sought the truth, no matter where their case led.  I liked the lead characters Bailey and Marco as well as the secondary characters Isabella (Izzy) Cole, Jay Graves, Lexi Todd, Tobias Kappen, and Derek Martinez.  They were people of integrity whom I liked and cared about.  They worked together in pursuit of the truth.  They considered the evidence and when things didn’t make sense or didn’t look right, they dug deeper.  Even when it meant risking their own lives.

In today’s culture where we’ve seen the compromise and dishonesty from prominent government officials, it was refreshing to see the integrity of these characters.

I appreciated how the Christian faith was woven into the storyline and supportive friendships.  I liked seeing the cooperation and teamwork between the various military branches and the legal system.  I enjoyed the friendship, trust, and romance that developed over time as Bailey and Marco got to know one another.

If you like intrigue and suspense, mixed with good characters, an interesting story and a little romance, be sure to read End Game by Rachel Dylan.  You won’t be disappointed.  End Game – Capital Intrigue Book 1 will be published on January 7, 2020.  When Rachel Dylan writes a book, I want to read it!

I would like to thank Bethany House Publishers and NetGalley for providing a complimentary copy of End Game and the opportunity to read it.  I was under no obligation to give a favorable review.

 

Breach of Trust by Rachel Dylan – Filled with Suspense, Mystery, Intrigue and Romance

If you like mysteries filled with intrigue and a little romance and be sure to read Rachel Dylan’s newest book Breach of Trust (to be released on February 5, 2019).  This is the third book in Atlanta Justice series and the characters in the first two books continue on in this current book.

Mia Shaw is a hardworking corporate attorney.  Her life is turned upside down when she discovers her friend and colleague, Chase Jackson, brutally murdered and she won’t stop until the guilty party is brought to justice.  Mia is assigned to the legal case Chase had been working on.  As she starts digging into the evidence, it appears corporate espionage may have occurred.  Mia’s going to need some help from a cyber security expert, but working with Noah Ramirez may be problematic.  Especially since he’s working to help clear his friend, David, who happens to be the prime suspect in Chase’s murder.

Wow…Breach of Trust is action packed from the get go.  When you open the pages be ready to hit ground running.  It’s filled with suspense and intrigue that will keep you guessing until the end.  I found this book, very satisfying.  The characters were very likable, especially Mia’s friends Kate and Sophie, as well as Noah and his friends Cooper and Landon.  They are nice, decent people who care about each other and are committed to their friendships with one another.  I especially appreciated how the Christian faith was woven into the character’s lives and how they grew.  Rachel’s legal experience, knowledge and research all work to make Breach of Trust an interesting story.

If you like suspense, romance and legal whodunnits…be sure to read Rachel Dylan’s newest book Breach of Trust, I highly recommend it.  Though this is the third book in the Atlanta Justice series, it works well as a stand-alone book.  I want to forewarn you, once you read one of Rachel’s books, you are going to want to read the rest of her books.

I would like to thank NetGalley and Bethany House Publishers for the opportunity to read Breach of Trust by Rachel Dylan in exchange for an honest review.  I was under no obligation to give a favorable review.

 

Falling for You by Becky Wade – Romance with a little mystery mixed in

I first discovered Becky Wade’s writing in her book True to You, which I loved.  That’s why I was excited to see Becky’s second book in the Bradford Sisters Romance, Falling for You.

What I found in Falling for You was a return to the town of Merryweather, a place I’d like to visit, with characters I liked from Becky’s earlier book, True to You.  In this book Willow, the oldest Bradford sister, takes center stage with her ex-beau Corbin.  The rest of the Bradford family and friends, including Nora and Britt, are back but mostly in the background of this story.

I enjoyed the backdrop of the story, as 12-year-old Charlotte enlists of Willow and Corbin to help solve a 40-year-old family mystery of Josephine who went missing back on 1977 and was never heard from again.  Would Willow and Corbin be able to set aside their differences to help Charlotte find out what happened to her great aunt?  Would they be able to reconcile after a painful and ugly breakup?  Had either of them changed over the last four years?

At first, I wasn’t sure if I would be able to relate to Willow a famous supermodel and Corbin a former pro-football player.  Their careers and lifestyle were much bigger than life or ordinary people.  I found that their emotional pain and coming to terms with their poor choices were something I could relate to.

Becky included the Christian faith, somewhat.  I think it could have been more strongly woven in to the characters and storyline.  Something I would have appreciated is to have Willow, as a Christian, recognize her past choice to have sex outside of marriage as sin instead of saying it was a mistake.  While a mistake may have consequences, calling something sin acknowledges it as wrong before God.

I liked the mystery part of Falling for You best, as well as the reconciliations between characters, forgiveness and seeing how the characters had grown and changed.  Overall, I give this book at 3.5 rating.  While I liked the storyline, I didn’t connect to the characters as much as I did in True to You.

If you like a romance with some mystery mixed in you may enjoy Falling for You by Becky Wade.

I would like to thank NetGalley and Bethany House Publishers for the opportunity to read Falling for You by Becky Wade in exchange for an honest review.  I was under no obligation to give a favorable review.

 

Lone Witness by Rachel Dylan – Fast-Paced Suspense with Likable Characters

As someone who loves a good mystery, I’m always on the lookout for a good suspense novel and I found just what I was looking for in Rachel Dylan’s newest book Lone Witness, the second book it the Atlanta Justice series.

Lone Witness tells the story of Sophie Dawson, a prosecutor in the city of Atlanta.  After presenting closing arguments against a crooked CEO, she wanted to get started on her newest case in the white-collar crimes unit.  Though the crimes may be different from the general trial division, what drove Sophie didn’t change.  She wanted to seek justice for those who had been victimized.  After putting in a long day at work, Sophie wanted to run in to the Quick-Stop for a snack on her way home.  That one little decision would impact her in ways she couldn’t have imagined.  Instead of being the prosecutor, she would be the lone eye witness against a gang member who brutally murdered two people.

What I liked about Lone Witness, was not only the courtroom drama, suspense and mystery, but also the characters.  They had interesting careers and were decent, likable people that I came to care about.  Rachel challenges the reader not to automatically categorize a character (defense attorney) as good or bad or assume you know their motives.  This book has some surprising twists and turns and it was interesting trying to figure out who done it.  I appreciated that the character’s Christian faith was woven into the story.

Not only did I find a good book to read in Lone Witness, but I found an author, Rachel Dylan, whose work I liked and is new to me.  I look forward to going back and reading her earlier work and future novels.

I would like to thank NetGalley and Bethany House Publishers for the opportunity to read Lone Witness in exchange for an honest review.  I was under no obligation to give a favorable review.

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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