Monday, June 20, 2022

Fatal Code by Natalie Walters – Suspense, Mystery and Intrigue

Since I love reading mystery and suspense novels, I was excited at the opportunity to read Fatal Code by Natalie Walters.  This is the second book in the Strategic Neutralization and Protection Agency (SNAP) series.  This author is new to me, and I haven’t read the first book in the series, Lights Out.

 

The book opens with Elinor Mitchell attending the funeral service for her beloved grandfather Arthur Conway.  He was a brilliant man, a theoretical physicist, and had worked at the Los Alamos National Lab.  More important than his career was the impact that he made on his granddaughter’s life.  He took Elinor in and raised her while her parents were involved with conservationist causes all around the world.  Elinor is also a scientist and is working on an important project at Lepley Dynamics.

 

Kekoa Young works for the SNAP Agency and is investigating a possible information leak at Lepley Dynamics.  Concerns have been raised that information has been shared with competitors or foreign governments.  Kekoa is a cyber security expert and was also assigned to keep an eye on his neighbor Elinor Mitchell.  That task that is outside his comfort zone.  Kekoa’s team at SNAP will also be part of the investigation.  Garcia, Lyla, Jack, and Brynn will be investigating other Lepley employees. 

 

I enjoyed the story more as it focused on Elinor and Kekoa and their growing relationship.  Elinor was closed off and not open to friendship.  Later on, as she opened up, I grew to like the character.  Kekoa was my favorite character.  He was kind, caring, fun, thoughtful, smart, and a diligent worker.  Both Elinor and Kekoa are struggling with their own hurts.  Will they work through those hurts or choose to remain insulated?

 

I enjoyed the intrigue and mystery and trying to figure out who the bad guys were and why they were involved in trying to steal sensitive information.  Faith was a part of the storyline and it was impactful to Elinor and Kekoa’s lives.  I would like to have seen the Christian faith and Gospel also included.

 

Toward the end of the book, one of the bad guys threatens a character by describing the torture she will endure.  That seemed over the top especially coming from a Christian book publisher.  It would have been beneficial to have a key or list of characters at the beginning of the book with a brief description.  There are a lot of characters in the book and it’s hard to keep track of them. 

 

I enjoyed the mystery and intrigue in Fatal Code.  While some of the scientific information was over my head, I found cyber security and code-breaking interesting.  I enjoyed the developing relationship with Elinor and Kekoa and the ties that Kekoa has with his family back in Hawaii.  If you like mystery, suspense, and intrigue you may to read Fatal Code by Natalie Walters. 

 

I would like to thank Revell Publishing and NetGalley for an opportunity to read Fatal Code by Natalie Walters.  I was under no obligation to give a favorable review. 

 


Saturday, June 04, 2022

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

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

 

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

 

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


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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 





Wednesday, May 25, 2022

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Sunday, May 08, 2022

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. 

 

Monday, April 04, 2022

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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


Saturday, March 26, 2022

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Wednesday, March 02, 2022

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Thursday, February 10, 2022

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. 

 

Saturday, January 15, 2022

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Sunday, December 19, 2021

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Saturday, November 20, 2021

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

  


Fatal Code by Natalie Walters – Suspense, Mystery and Intrigue

Since I love reading mystery and suspense novels, I was excited at the opportunity to read Fatal Code by Natalie Walters .   This is the se...