Aftermath by Terri Blackstock – Fast-paced Suspenseful Story

Terri Blackstock’s books are filled with intrigue and suspense and that’s why was excited to read her newest book Aftermath.  This book will hold your attention from the get-go.

Taylor Reed and her friends Desiree and Mara are at a political rally, the draw isn’t Presidential candidate Ed Loran, but instead their favorite band Blue Fire is playing.  What happens next is the things nightmares are made of.  An explosion, smoke, people screaming.  The only thing Taylor can think of is getting out alive.  Later that night, Dustin Webb is driving home and suddenly the police are pulling him over.  Certain that he wasn’t speeding nor was there any cause to be pulled over, he consents to the police searching his car.  What they find will land him in jail and Dustin will be the suspect in the bombing that left dozens of people dead.  His one phone call will be to his friend Attorney Jamie Powell, whom he hasn’t seen in fifteen years.  If anyone will believe him, it will be Jamie.

Aftermath seems like it could have been ripped from today’s headline news.  It’s fast-paced and filled with twists and turns.  What I liked best were the characters Dustin and Jamie, their personalities and friendship that spanned many years.  Taylor was an interesting character, I found myself asking how I would handle the trauma that she endured.  I also found her irrationality and thought processes very disturbing.  Dustin’s friend and business partner Travis and his wife Crystal are going through their own battle as Crystal is fighting for her life.  Dustin understands why Travis can’t be there to help right now, but Dustin’s fighting for his own life, and the world’s about to turn against him unless he can prove his innocence.

I liked the storyline and it grabbed my attention from the beginning.  I liked the main characters Dustin and Jamie, but I was frustrated when Dustin seemed to be making illogical decisions and didn’t believe the evidence that showed who the bad guy was.  I figured out who the bad guy was and his motivation, but had to see how the story all fit together.  In many respects, Taylor seemed like a loose cannon and the most illogical.  I liked the fast clip of the story, it fit the narrative but the end of the book seemed to drag a bit and the story came to an abrupt ending.

The Christian faith wasn’t a big part of the story, I think that the characters’ development would have been richer if their faith had been included.  I appreciated that the story did not have sexual immorality and or profanity.  Aftermath was an interesting story with likable characters, but it could have been richer.  I would like to see the main characters in other books.

If you like mystery, intrigue, and suspense I recommend that you read Terri Blackstock’s newest book AftermathThis book is being released on May 11, 2021.

I would like to thank Thomas Nelson Publishers and NetGalley for the opportunity to read Aftermath by Terri Blackstock.  I was provided with a complimentary copy of the book but was not obligated to give a favorable review.

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.

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. 

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. 

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. 

Acceptable Risk by Lynette Eason – Mixed Review – Action Packed, Intrigue, Suspense but had a Character Issue

Acceptable Risk, the second book in the Danger Never Sleeps series.  Author Lynette Eason is relatively new to me, but after reading Collateral Damage, I was excited to read her latest book.

Journalist Sarah Denning is stationed in Afghanistan, where she was kidnapped along with children from the school where she had been teaching.  Desperate, Sarah attempted to send an SOS message for help.  That help comes through former Army Ranger Gavin Black who has been hired by Sarah’s father, Lieutenant General Lewis Denning.  If she had known who had sent the help, she might have tried something different.  When Sarah is back stateside and recovering, Gavin remains by her side to protect her from unknown threats that keep on coming.

Acceptable Risk is a fast-paced book, packed with action from the get-go.  My favorite character was Gavin Black, a kind, decent, caring, brave man who will do whatever it takes to protect Sarah.  I liked Sarah’s brother Caden, who was introduced to readers in the first book.

What I struggled with the character of Sarah Denning.  That character had a lot of anger and bitterness toward her father, which got old real quick.  It seemed like every decision she made was to spite and hurt her father for perceived wrongs.  So much so that she was willing to dismiss anyone who believed differently.  Ninety percent of the book Sarah was bullheaded, arrogant, a know it all and ready to put herself and anyone else at risk for what she deemed an acceptable risk.  There was nothing about this character that reflected her being a Christian.  This character’s personality flaws outweighed her good qualities like being diligent and persevering to uncover the truth.  One other thing I didn’t care for was that Sarah was always feeling like the victim.  But she never seemed to connect that some of what happened to her was because of choices she had made that put herself (and others) in danger.

Factoring out my dislike of Sarah, I did like this book because of the other characters and thought the storyline was interesting.  The ending was a bit over the top and not very realistic or logical.

If you are a Lynette Eason fan or like action-packed suspense with a little romance, you may want to read Acceptable Risk by Lynette Eason.

I would like to thank Revell Publishing and NetGalley for the opportunity to read Acceptable Risk by Lynette Eason.  I was provided with a complimentary copy of the book and was under no obligation to give a favorable review.

 

 

Don’t Keep Silent by Elizabeth Goddard – Beautiful Setting, Filled with Intrigue and Suspense

Don’t Keep Silent by Elizabeth Goddard is the third book in her Uncommon Justice series.  I had read the second book, Always Look Twice, and was excited to read her new book.

When Rae Burke’s brother Alan asks her to search for his missing wife Zoey she agrees and uses her tenacious and keen investigative skills to try and find her sister-in-law and friend.  As she heads up to Jackson Hole, Wyoming she hopes to enlist help from former DEA agent Liam McKade, but since they part ways last time she’s not confident that he will be willing to join forces and help find Zoey.

Don’t Keep Silent grabbed my attention from the get-go.  It was filled with lots of suspense and twists and turns.  There were some likable characters, but my favorite was Liam.  He seemed like a faithful friend, brave and willing to put himself on the line to protect Rae, try and find Zoey and expose the bad guys and bring them to justice.

Author, Elizabeth Goddard did a good job of describing the scenic area of Jackson Hole, Wyoming during the wintertime.  Made me want to go there on vacation.  The reader is left guessing as to whether some of the characters are good guys or bad guys, and there were some surprises.  The faith aspect of the novel was minimal and confined to mostly one-sentence prayers for protection or help.  I wish the characters’ faith had been more developed, especially with Liam.  I think the book would have been richer if the author had done that.

What I struggled with is the main character, Rae.  Something that really bugs me is when characters do things that don’t make a lot of sense or aren’t logical.  Rae seemed to do that repeatedly, she was emotionally driven and had a high estimation of her own abilities.  Why Liam stuck by her I don’t know.  Rae seemed to have no issue with putting her life on the line, not only hers but Liam’s too.  Not just once but on multiple occasions.  That got old and I found Rae less likable.

I won’t give away the ending, but the ending and reason why Zoey was kidnapped kind of stretched the imagination.  Towards the end, the story kind of dragged and was very convoluted.

There were things I liked about the book, the character Liam, the setting, and the suspense and intrigue, but there were some things I wasn’t too keen on.  I would recommend Don’t Keep Silent if you are a fan of Elizabeth Goddard or you like suspense, mystery, and intrigue.

I would like to thank Revell Publishing for the opportunity to read Don’t Keep Silent by Elizabeth Goddard.  I was provided a complimentary copy of the book but was under no obligation to give a favorable review.

 

Closer Than She Knows by Kelly Irvin – Interesting storyline, characters and setting. Christian faith was portrayed rather worldly.

I became acquainted with author Kelly Irvin’s writing through her Amish themed books and was excited to read her newest book Closer Than She Knows.

Closer Than She Knows is about Teagan O’Rourke, a court reporter in San Antonio, Texas.  She comes from a family that works in law enforcement.  Teagan’s life is about to unravel as people around her are being targeted by some sicko and she finds herself at the center of an investigation.  Why are these innocent people being targeted?  How are they all connected?  What can she do to stop this before another innocent life is taken?

One of the things I like about Kelly’s writing is how she portrays relationships with family, friends, and co-workers.  I especially like the O’Rourke family, Teagan, her father Dillon and step-family Billy, Gracie, and Leyla.  My favorite character was her friend Max who seemed like a real gem, and her friends Julie and Evelyn.  They were a tight-knit group that cared for one another and were there for each other.

I found Teagan’s job as a court reporter fascinating and learned a few details about that job.  Kelly does a great job describing the setting in the San Antonio downtown area and neighborhood where historic homes were being rehabbed.  It seems inviting and picturesque.  The story is very suspenseful and will keep you guessing until the end.

This book is written by a Christian author and the Christian faith is part of the story.  The best example of that was Max, a man redeemed and dependent upon the Lord each day.  He was gracious and caring.  I found Teagan’s faith to be immature and nominal.  When talking about her reluctance to having children her explanation seemed very secular and lacking faith.  She seemed to care more about the environment than lost souls and sin.  At one-point, Teagan describes herself in very politically correct terms and does not mention that she is a Christian.  Her understanding of the death penalty was not in keeping with what God has declared in the Bible.  Teagan and Max’s physical attraction could have been portrayed a little less worldly.

If you are a fan of Kelly Irvin’s novels or like mystery, intrigue, and trying to solve a whodunit, you may like Kelly’s newest book Closer Thank She Knows.

I would like to thank Thomas Nelson Publishers and NetGalley for the opportunity to read Closer Thank She Knows by Kelly Irvin.  I was under no obligation to give a favorable review.

 

Standoff by Patricia Bradley – Mixed – interesting setting, likeable characters, but too many characters and dragged a bit.

I love mysteries so I was excited to read Patricia Bradley’s newest book Standoff, the first book in the Natchez Trace Park Rangers series.

Standoff is about the rather brutal and ugly business of moving illegal drugs through Natchez Trace National Parkway a corridor that runs from Natchez, MS to Nashville, TN.

Brooke Danvers was looking forward to riding along with her dad District Law Enforcement Ranger, John Danvers.  She has followed in her father’s footsteps and will soon be sworn in as a LE Ranger despite her parent’s concerns.  When John gets a call, plans change and Brooke will have to wait another day.  Only that won’t be happening when John is found dead at Emerald Mound later that night.  His death is ruled a suicide, but Brooke does not believe it and will stop at nothing to find out who brutally murdered her dad.  Old ex-friend and neighbor Luke Fereday is back in Natchez working as an undercover park ranger trying to infiltrate the drug ring.  Not only is he working to stop the flow of illegal drugs, but he too wants to find John’s murderer.

Standoff has a whole of stuff going on.  There are a lot of characters introduced early on in the story, law enforcement, drug dealers, potential bad guys, family, friends. and neighbors.  It was kind of hard to keep all the characters straight.  It would have been helpful to have a key at the front of the book with a list of characters and a brief description.  The first part of the book seemed to dragged, but about midway through the story picked up moved at a faster clip.  The number of characters could have been trimmed down some.

There were a number of things that seemed off or not quite believable.  It seemed odd that Brooke’s mother would leave town so quickly after the death of her husband.  It didn’t seem plausible that Luke could pass off being in town to visit his grandmother because his behavior and weird hours would raise suspicion.  He just happened to show up wherever Brooke was at way too many times.  The scene where Brooke makes a discovery seemed contrived.

I liked the main characters, Brooke and Luke.  My favorite character was Luke’s grandmother Daisy.  The action scenes, especially toward the end were well written and easy to visualize.  I like the setting of the Natchez Trace law enforcement.  I think the series has some good potential.  I will read future books in this series.  I appreciated that the book was clean, not filled with vulgar language or sexual immorality.

I would like to thank Revell Publishers and NetGalley for the opportunity to read a complimentary copy of Standoff by Patricia Bradley.  I was under no obligation to give a favorable review.

 

On a Coastal Breeze by Suzanne Woods Fisher – Unique setting and interesting characters and relationships

I was excited to read On a Coastal Breeze by author Suzanne Woods Fisher.  This is the second book in her Three Sisters Island series.  The first book, On a Summer Tide, introduced readers to the Grayson family.  That’s where I found myself drawn into their story when Paul buys a summer camp on Three Sisters Island with the hope that his three daughters Camden, Madison, and Blaine will help him get the camp fixed up, and back up and running.

A year has passed since the family undertook this adventure and they are gearing up for another summer season of campers.  They’ve settled into living on the island.  Cam is engaged to Seth and she is throwing herself into a project to help the island be energy independent.  Maddie has finally set up shop as a marriage and family counselor on this small island with just over a hundred year-round residents.  She’s about to get a big surprise when the town’s new pastor makes a memorable entrance.  Blaine is home for summer following a year at culinary school and she has a big announcement.

While the setting at Three Sister’s Island is beautiful, the most intriguing part of this story are the relationships.  Not only within the family but with friends and the town’s people.  The Grayson family is interesting, quirky, maddening, wise, unwise, honest, veiled, committed to one another, loving, and supportive.  The characters grow and change.

Something I especially liked about On a Coastal Breeze is how the character’s backstory was filled in.  Just when a character was making a goofy decision or acting illogical, there would be a scene from earlier in their life that helps the reader to better understand the character and why they were acting that way.

Faith and prayer were part of the storyline, especially with the character Maddie.  But there were some thoughts, attitudes, and actions that were ungodly and unkind.  Something in Maddie’s background was revealed during the story.  I would like to have seen the character recognize sin as sin and repent.  Repentance seemed to be lacking.  Instead there was regret and she seemed to rely on or fall back on psychology.  Yet Maddie had some good insight into people and situations.  Cam and Blaine seem to be distant from God and it was reflected in how they responded to life.  Rick, the new pastor was rather unconventional.  His sermons were not quite theologically accurate.  Instead, they were simplistic and there to make a point and relate to a character.  Overall, while faith was included in the story it was not deep.

What I liked best about On a Coastal Breeze where the relationships and how the characters grew and changed.  I wish faith had been more deeply developed in the characters.  It looks like there will be a third book in this series focused on the youngest sister Blaine and I will likely read it.

I would like to thank Revell Publishing and NetGalley for the opportunity to read a complimentary copy of On a Coastal Breeze by Suzanne Woods Fisher.  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.

 

The Splendid and the Vile by Erik Larson – Riveting, Interesting, Insightful, Heartbreaking, Thrilling. – If you read only one book this year, The Splendid and the Vile is the one to read.

When I learned that Erik Larson had released a new book, I could hardly wait to read it and was riveted as I read The Splendid and the Vile, A Saga of Churchill, Family, and Defiance During the Blitz.

The book starts out in May 1940, when Winston Churchill was appointed Prime Minister of Great Britain.  It covers the first year of his leadership, but it was a pivotal year and devastating for the entire nation.  It’s almost incomprehensible to imagine what it was like for Great Britain to endure the relentless and vile bombings they suffered from Nazi Germany.  But Erik Larson has taken what is hard to imagine and helps the reader to learn about this unique and brave leader who inspired a nation and helped Great Britain to endure while suffering great losses and come out victoriously as the great evil of Nazi Germany was defeated.

When reading this book, God’s providential hand in raising up the right leader for a nation at the right time is evident.  One can only speculate how England would have fared and how WWII would have ended with a different man as Prime Minister.

Not only do you get to know PM Winston Churchill and his view of the war, but this book really comes to life as you learn about and from the people who surrounded Churchill, what they saw, felt and experienced.  Clementine, Churchill’s wife was every bit his equal and we learn quite a bit about their children, especially their son Randolph and youngest daughter Mary

Those who surrounded the Prime Minister provide insight into Churchill and how Great Britain prepared and fought the war, including from John Colville, Churchill’s private secretary whose diaries documented behind the scenes happenings, to Frederick Lindermann (The Prof) Churchill’s scientific advisor, to Max Aitken-Lord Beaverbrook the man who Churchill believe would help their country ramp-up aircraft production so they could wage an effective air campaign against the Nazi’s.

The book also looks at the war through the lens of Nazi leaders including, Hitler, Goring, Goebbels, Hess and flying ace Adolf Galland.  It was both interesting and horrifying to see how they viewed what they were doing and their ultimate goal to defeat Great Britain.

The Splendid and the Vile is a full-bodied look at Prime Minister Winston Churchill and the people who surrounded him and the people of Great Britain and the suffering they endured.  This is a tremendous book, it’s an interesting, insightful, heartbreaking and thrilling look at history, a strong unique leader and a people who did not crumble when facing great evil unleashed against them.

I highly recommend The Splendid and the Vile by Erik Larson.  If you read one book this year, other than the Bible, this is the one to read.  Especially during this time in our Nation and the world, this book will put into perspective what we are going through compared to what Great Britain and the world endured during WWII.

I would like to thank Crown Publishing and NetGalley for the opportunity to read The Splendid and the Vile by author Erik Larson.  Mr. Larson is a gifted writer and I look forward to reading more of his work.  I was provided with a free copy of the book but under no obligation to give a favorable review.

 

A Long Bridge Home by Kelly Irvin – Interesting Likable Characters and Storyline, But Has Some Wrong Theology

Kelly Irvin has quickly become one of my favorite Christian fiction writers.  Until I started reading her novels, I hadn’t read too many Amish theme books.  I was excited at the opportunity to read Kelly’s newest book A Long Bridge Home, the second book in the Amish of Big Sky Country, which takes place during the same timeframe as the first book, Mountains of Grace.  Wildfires are burning in the mountains near the community of West Kootenai, Montana.

Christine and the Mast family evacuate but do not intend to return to West Kootenai.  Her mother and father have decided it’s time for their family to return to Kansas where her father’s parents live and need help in their older years.  Christine is desperate to stay because of her special friend Andy Lambright.  While they are not engaged, they’ve talked about marriage and seem to be heading in that direction.  Andy is evacuating too, but he’s returning to his family’s home so he can deal with some unfinished business.  Andy and Christine persuade her parents to let her stay a little bit closer in St. Ignatius, Montana.

Christine will be staying with family, but she will be experiencing a whole new world than what she’s used to.  Andy returns home and finds old wounds still haven’t healed and the best remedy is forgiveness, even though he was one who was wronged.  Will his lack of honesty drive Christine away?  Will Christine remain faithful to her special friend?  Or will she be lured away by the excitement of her new friend Raymond Old Fox and a culture that is foreign to her?

I really liked the characters in A Long Bridge Home.  My favorite was Andy, he was an honest and vulnerable and was growing and maturing.  I liked Christine but found her secrecy about her relationship with Raymond betrayed her conscience.  Raymond Old Fox was an interesting character and I liked him.  I wondered what attracted him to pursue a friendship with Christine.  I found it interesting to learn about the Native Indian history and culture and to see some of the similarities to the Amish culture and the contrasts.

Where I ran into some discomfort with this book was how Christine wrestled with the differences in her Christian faith and spirituality from Raymond’s Native Indian culture.  It is interesting to learn of other cultures and what they believe but, as a Christian, we cannot forget that the Bible is the plumbline of truth and of right and wrong, heaven and hell, sin, rebellion, truth, righteousness, forgiveness, repentance, and salvation through Jesus Christ alone.

Christine hesitated to share her faith, in part, because of the mistreatment of Raymond’s Native Indian ancestors at the hands of people who said they were Christians.

I tried to let Christine wrestle through what she was learning and how that differed from what she knew of the Bible.  I struggled with her trying to see her Christian faith and Raymond’s spirituality as equivalent.  Christine seemed to think that Raymond’s belief in a Creator was the same as her belief in the God of the Bible.  At one point she said, “He’s your God too.”  I wanted to tell Christine, “No He’s not…not at this point.”  But I did appreciate that Christine wanted to pray for Raymond and she felt the need to tell him about Jesus Christ even though that was not done in her Amish culture.  I appreciated Andy’s trust in Christine and his more mature understanding of the differences between the Amish and Indian religious beliefs.

Christine had some wrong theology and I highlighted a number of statements and made many notes.  I tried to let the character wrestle with her thoughts and theological understanding.  Ideally, I would like to have wrong theology corrected in the novel, perhaps by another character or by a character’s growing understanding.

Is the right theology important in a fiction novel by a Christian author?  Yes, because that book may influence a reader for right or wrong.

There was much that I liked about A Long Bridge Home, the characters and storyline.  But I struggled with some of the wrong theology the main character expressed.

I would like to thank Zondervan Publishers and NetGalley for the opportunity to read A Long Bridge Home by Kelly Irvin.  I was under no obligation to give a favorable review.

 

Promised Land by Robert Whitlow – Intrigue, Suspense, Interesting Characters Mixed with Fascinating Cultures

When author Robert Whitlow writes a book, I want to read it.  That’s why I was excited at the opportunity to read his newest book Promised Land and I loved it.

Readers are reintroduced to characters from his last novel Chosen People.  Hana Abboud, a Christian Arab attorney from Israel who is living in the United States, her husband Daud Hasan a Christian Arab from Israel, friend and colleague Jakob Brodsky, and dear friends Ben and Sadie Neumann.  While reading this book, I felt like I was being reunited and catching up with old friends.

The story begins with Rahal Abaza in Qatar, five years earlier he had a jarring experience that set his life on a new course that will intersect with Daud and Hana.  Hana is at home and awakens for her night watch, a time of prayer, reading Scripture and worship.  While she does not know the specifics of all that’s going on with her husband Daud, she is praying for him while he is in Egypt on a mission for the CIA.  He will need those prayers for what he’s about to encounter.

From the get-go, Promised Land is off and running.  There’s a lot of suspense, intrigue, and action, but it doesn’t interfere with the development of characters or take the place of an interesting storyline.  It’s well balanced.

My favorite thing about Robert Whitlow’s writing is how he develops characters.  Hana is one of the most interesting characters.  It’s fascinating to see and consider what it’s like to be an Arab Christian who is from Israel.  You would think that there might be conflict, but Hana is a very gracious woman who takes her faith seriously.  She loves her family and is a faithful friend.  I found Daud intriguing and felt on edge with all the situations and people he encounters.  Jakob is an interesting fellow.  He always seems to take on cases that look impossible and that will require a lot of work and research to see if they will pan out.  Ben and his daughter Sadie…absolutely love them.

I don’t want to spoil the story about what happens, so I’ll leave it with a brief intro into the storyline and characters.  But I hope that you will pick up a copy of Promised Land by Robert Whitlow.  It’s the second book in this series but is a good stand-alone book.  You may want to go back and read Chosen People so you can have a richer connection with the characters.

Robert Whitlow is a gifted writer.  He tells a good story and develops rich likable characters.  I highly recommend Promised Land by Robert Whitlow.  If you like action, suspense, intrigue, and interesting likable characters you will like Promised Land.

I would like to thank Thomas Nelson Publishers and NetGalley for the opportunity to read Promised Land by Robert Whitlow.  I was provided with a free copy of this book and was under no obligation to give a favorable review.

 

 

Collateral Damage by Lynette Eason – Likable engaging characters in a suspenseful story

As someone who loves to read Christian mystery/fiction books, I was excited at the opportunity to read Lynette Eason’s newest book, Collateral Damage, the first book in the Danger Never Sleeps series.

Collateral Damage starts off at an army base in Afghanistan where the men are preparing to arrest a fellow soldier, Isaiah Michaels who is suspected of being a traitor and selling information to the jihadists.  Sergeant Asher James doesn’t believe the allegations because it doesn’t square with the man he knows.  But he has been charged with leading the operation as two MARP vehicles set out to Kabul to arrest Specialist Michaels who has been spotted at a bar.  Military psychologist, Brooke Adams is looking forward to heading home in three weeks.  She’s meeting some friends at The Bistro in Kabal.  When Specialist Michaels tries to catch her eye, Brooke does her best to tune him out and focus on her friends who have become like family so far away from home.

What happens next is just the beginning of an action-packed story filled with suspense and lots of twists and turns.  What information did Isaiah Michaels find?  Did he betray his country?  What accounts for the large increase of adoptions at Morning Star Orphanage over the last year?  How does it all fit together?

I found myself invested in this story because I liked the main characters and I wanted to get to the bottom of the mysteries.  I appreciate that the story did not have filthy language or sexual immorality.  The Christian faith was a part of the storyline and the two main character behavior and choices were influenced by their faith.

I did struggle with the first chapter because it was long and it introduced at least fourteen characters in a very fast-paced story.  After that chapter, the pace and number of characters slowed down.  I think it would have been better to break it up into two chapters.  I did figure out who the bad guy was but that didn’t take away from enjoying the book.  I was interested to find out his motivation.

Collateral Damage is the first novel I’ve read by Lynette Eason and I really liked it.  The best part of the book for me was the engaging likable characters.  I look forward to reading more of her books in the future.

If you like suspense and action with likable characters, read Lynette Eason’s newest book Collateral Damage.

I would like to thank Revell Publishing and NetGalley for the opportunity to read Collateral Damage by Lynette Eason.  I was provided a complimentary copy of this book to read but was not required to give a favorable review.

 

Always Look Twice – by author Elizabeth Goddard – Filled with Mystery, Intrigue and Action

As someone who loves to read mysteries, I really liked reading Elizabeth Goddard’s newest book Always Look Twice the second book in her Uncommon Justice series.  There was so much to like about this book, starting with the characters.  But what first drew me in to Always Looks Twice was the opening scene.

Crime scene photographer, Harper Reynolds, has taken a much need break because of the toll that her work has taken on her.  She and her sister Emily have been traveling to National Parks and are finishing up their travels in Jackson Hole, Wyoming where they lived as children.  Harper has been photographing the beauty found in nature only to have that beauty marred by witnessing a murder through her camera lens.  In her quest to escape she lost her camera, a memory card, her phone and was injured.  So, when Harper reports the crime she witnessed, there’s no corroborating evidence to be found.  Will the Sheriff believe Harper?  Will law enforcement diligently investigate the crime she witnessed?  What will happen when she is reunited with her childhood friend Heath McKade?

I really liked the main characters in this book.  They are interesting, kind and caring and people and because of that I was invested in their story.  Harper and Emily carried emotional scars from trauma in their childhood and they dealt with its lingering effects quite differently.  I especially like the friendship between Harper and Heath.  They were friends in a pivotal time in their lives and now they are reunited.

One of the things I liked best about Elizabeth Goddard’s writing is her ability to write a scene so the reader can imagine it in their head.  She does it without being too wordy.  Reading the story was almost like watching a movie.  I appreciated that the story was clean, there was no profanity or sexual immorality.  There was some mention of the character’s faith.  I would like to have seen even more the faith aspect of the character’s lives.

If you like mystery, intrigue, and action I would encourage you to read Elizabeth Goddard’s new book Always Look Twice.  This one kept me guessing until the end.  This is the first book I’ve read by Elizabeth and I look forward to reading more of her books.

I would like to thank Revell Publishing for the opportunity to read Always Look Twice by Elizabeth Goddard.  I was provided a complimentary copy of the eBook through NetGalley.  I was under no obligation to give a favorable review.

#AlwaysLookTwice #UncommonJustice

 

Dark Ambitions by Irene Hannon – Character Development Is Missing

Irene Hannon is one of my favorite writers.  I’ve loved her books that I’ve read, the characters and the Christian faith that’s been a part of the storylines.  That’s why I was excited to read her newest book Dark Ambitions.

Unfortunately, I thought Dark Ambitions was not as good as her other books.  I’ve read the two other books in the Code of Honor series and liked them.  What was different about Dark Ambitions?  I found the character development was not too deep in this novel, the characters were rather flat and one dimensional.

From the beginning of this book, the focus was on the physical attraction between Rick Jordan and Heather Shields dominated this book.  So much so that it took away from the character development of the main characters.  Rick, who has a heroic background as a former Army Night Stalker and runs a camp for foster children, seemed like a superficial jerk with his unkind judgmental opinion of the receptionist Nikki.  If you took away one thing from this book, you knew that Rick and Heather were physically attracted to one another because of the numerous references to looks and their physical attraction.

In most of Irene’s books, I find some likable relatable characters.  In Dark Ambitions, not so much.  Maybe Heather’s dad.  As a reader, I want to have characters I like and care about, but that was missing in this book.

A great deal of research went into getting the technical details right.  The storyline of Dark Ambitions has some possibilities of making a good story.  Where it fell short for me was the character development.  Also, I missed having faith and God being a part of the character’s personal lives.  While there was action in the story, there wasn’t a lot of suspense, nor twists and turns.

While this book seemed to be a one-off, I do look forward to reading more of Irene Hannon’s books in the future.

I would like to thank Revell Books and NetGalley for the opportunity to read Irene Hannon’s newest book Dark Ambitions.  I was provided with a complimentary copy of the book and was under no obligation to give a favorable review.