Friday, January 27, 2023

Letters of Trust by Wanda E Brunstetter – Difficult Topic Handled with Care

 

Author Wanda E. Brunstetter has become one of my favorite writers.  I appreciate that her books are clean, without profanity and sexual immorality, and that the characters are more fully developed.  That’s why I wanted to read her newest book Letters of Trust.

 

This book is quite different from any other story I’ve read by this author.  The subject is more difficult and a bit darker.  When I think of the Amish community, I don’t think of alcoholism.  Wanda explained that she had Amish readers request that she write a story that deals with alcoholism.  Sadly, alcohol abuse has impacted their communities as well.  The story also had a personal touch because alcoholism has touched Wanda’s life though a family member. 

 

Letters of Trust tells the story about newlyweds Vic and Eleanor Lapp who are moving to Vic’s home state of Pennsylvania where his family lives.  Other than Vic and his family, Eleanor had no family or friends there.  Eleanor loves Vic and wants to support his decision to move back home.  Like any newlywed couple the first year of marriage can be a challenge.  Eleanor keeps in touch with family and friends through letters. 

 

Vic is employed by an English man and is surrounded by English workers as well.  Vic finds himself under regular pressure by a coworker to drink alcohol.  He’s able to resist until a crisis breaks down his resolve to not drink alcohol.  Alcohol had been an issue in his youth, before he had committed himself to the Amish community and church.  Now Vic chooses not to resist the draw of alcohol. 

 

Like every other sin, alcoholism and drinking to excess, doesn’t just impact the one who is drinking.  Vic’s drowning his sorrow impacted his marriage, his family, his job, and most importantly his faith.

 

Will Eleanor find support and wise counsel from her dear friend and family?  Will she have the wherewithal to remain in her marriage and help her husband?  Will she be strong enough to acknowledge the truth, get wise counsel, and the help and support she needs?  What will it take to wake Vic up to the truth that alcohol is destroying his life and his marriage?  Will he realize it before it’s too late?  

 

Something I would like to have seen, especially since faith is an integral part of the story and character’s lives, is to see alcoholism in light of the truth of Scripture.  Secular society calls alcoholism a disease, but a Christian believer knows it is a sin.  There may be some beneficial secular programs to help the alcoholic and their family.  But for a Christian believer, first and foremost, we need to recognize our sin and repent.  Like all sin, God has provide a way for us to be forgiven through Christ Jesus.  If this had been a secular story, I would not have had that expectation.

 

Something that flowed from the aspect of faith and seeing a character caught up in sin, was Vic a true Christian?  I don’t have good understanding of the Amish faith.  But I wondered if there is some measure of legalism?  Is a person considered a true believer as long as he complies with the rules of the Amish community?  What is a warning sign that a person’s outward confession is not genuine?  Would an Amish Christian be concerned about their witness and testimony to an unbelieving coworker?

 

I would like to have seen the faith aspect of alcoholism dealt with, in addition to the practical steps recommended by the secular world.  I liked that Vic’s parents had a realistic understanding of their son and didn’t try to make excuses for his choices and behavior.

 

If you like Wanda E. Brunstetter’s writing, or have an interest in the topic of alcoholism, you may want to read Letters of Trust.  This was a hard book to read because of the subject matter and the fact that too many lives are impacted by alcoholism.  I appreciate that the author tackled this painful topic. 

Letters of Trust will be published March 1, 2023.

 

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

 

Monday, January 02, 2023

Critical Threat by Lynette Eason – Suspense and Intrigue, But Falls Short

Critical Threat is Lynette Eason’s third book in the Extreme Measures series.  I enjoy suspense and intrigue novels and looked forward to reading this new release. 

 

It appears that there may be a serial killer loose in Virginia.  FBI Special Agent and behavioral analyst Grace Billingsley and prison psychiatrist Sam Monroe team up to help the Critical Incidence Response Group to find this murderer before he takes the life of another innocent person.  Details of the case have been withheld from the public.  But when a prisoner has information about the crimes, Sam and the team want to find out what he knows and if he is involved.  Sam brings a unique perspective to the case because his father is a convicted serial killer and was recently transferred to the same facility where Sam works. 

 

The serial killer aspect of this story makes the novel rather dark.  It was interesting trying to understand how the team puts together a profile of the murderer.  I liked the interaction between Grace and Sam.  Grace was not put off by Sam’s family background.  She was compassionate and caring towards him.

 

What I found off-putting about the story was Grace.  She was a brave woman, but didn’t use a lot of wisdom or common sense.  After the killer sees her at a crime scene, he repeatedly tries to get to Grace.  Though she has been targeted and has some protection, she makes several poor decisions, making her vulnerable to attack.  The folks that were providing protection did a poor job, because multiple times the killer was successful in getting to Grace. 

 

When a character repeatedly puts themselves at risk and fails to use common sense, I stop caring about them because the story feels manipulating.  I would rather someone be smart over being brave. 

 

Both Grace and Sam had family issues going during the height of the case.  To some degree it gave the reader a better understanding about the characters.  It may have taken away from the main storyline. 

 

There wasn’t a lot of the Christian faith included in the novel.  Grace’s attempt to help Sam’s daughter understand about good and evil fell short.  Her explanation about the devil and sin seemed more filled with human psychology, rather than sound theology about a sovereign and holy God and sin and repentance. 

 

The storyline was interesting, had a lot of suspense and intrigue.  It was also dark and disturbing.  At times, the story seemed drawn out and repetitive.  Grace putting herself at risk, over-and-over again, didn’t seem realistic.  Nor did the FBI failing to protect a target.

 

I enjoy Lynette Eason’s suspense novels, yet Critical Threat wasn’t my favorite.  Would I recommend it?  If you like Lynette Eason’s writing, you may want to give it a try. 

 

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

 


Saturday, December 17, 2022

Love Though the Seasons by Tracie Peterson – Mixed Impressions

I looked forward to reading this release of four short stories, Love Through the Seasons by Tracie Peterson, which will be published February 1, 2023.  Once I started reading the book, it was obvious that some of the stories must have been written a few years ago.  Things that are common today, like cell phones, weren’t mentioned in the stories and there were no time references.  Stormy Weather was written in 1999, King of Hearts in 1997, Falling for Love is a new release for 2023, and Silent Nights was written in 1998.

 

I enjoyed a couple of the stories, Stormy Weather and Falling for Love, but wasn’t too keen on King of Hearts and Silent Nights.

 

Stormy Weather takes place in the spring and is about a widow, Gina Bowden, and her young son, Danny.  Danny’s Cub Scout leader, Gary Cameron, is a widower.  This is a sweet story and the characters are very likable.  Gina tries to make up for being a single mom, but finds that she needs help when her son has been assigned a project for Cub Scouts.  Gary is willing to help and they develop a comfortable and caring relationship.  I appreciated the faith and trust that both Gina and Gary had in the wake of losing their spouses. 

 

I found King of Hearts to be an odd story.  Elise Jost received bad news that she was just shy of having the credits she needed to graduate from college.  As a result, she would need to take one class during summer school.  The one class that fit her schedule was Renaissance Appreciation taught by Dr. Ian Hunter.  Elise is less than pleased about taking the class, partly because of a required assignment at the end of the semester.  Elise’s attitude was crummy and there was very little in her behavior that displayed Christian faith.  This story may not have aged well.  Back in the day, Renaissance fairs were very common and folks had an interest in them.  Today, this story come across as kind of weird and at times almost creepy.  One character was introduced that seemed to be there for no other reason than to put a damsel in distress that needed to be rescued.  Overall, I found the story very odd.

 

Falling For Love is the newest story and was very likeable. Nice characters who were kind and caring.  Karen Jacobs, a widow, owns the old family farm and lives there with her mother Meredith.  Karen is contacted by her cousin Marlene who hopes that her mother, Lettie, might be able to come and live with Karen.  Over the coming days, Karen’s two other aunts, Helen and Rachel, contact her to see if they too might be able to come live with them.  Thankfully the house set up where the downstairs area would work well as a home for all four sisters.  Work needs to be done to make things ready for the aging family members.  Karen contacts someone from church, Dan Polk, who can help with the project.  This was one of my favorite stories.  The sacrificial love and kindness Karen demonstrates by inviting her family to come live with them is refreshing.  The developing relationship between Dan and Karen was sweet.  The characters demonstrated their Christian faith.  I very much liked this story.

 

Silent Nights was the story I liked least.  Lynn Murphy and her attitude and actions did not display Christian faith, nor did her husband Frank.  They have issues in their marriage which need to be worked out.  While acknowledging that God does not like divorce, Lynn leaves home because her husband heading out of town again on business trip and their anniversary trip will need to be rescheduled.  Lynn goes to stay with her grandfather Omar Lewiston, but doesn’t even leave a note for her husband to let him know where she is at.  I liked the grandfather, he was kind, caring and displayed some wisdom.  The characters’ change and development was not really handled well.  I did not like the characters, nor their attitudes and the Christian faith was not evident in their lives.  Then suddenly, things changed and the story ends, but how and why they changed wasn’t well developed.  Perhaps this story would have been somewhat better as a full-length novel where the characters could have been better developed. 

 

A couple of the stories, Stormy Weather and Falling for Love, were enjoyable and had likable characters and the characters displayed more mature Christian faith.  King of Hearts and Silent Nights fell short. 

 

Would I recommend Love Through the Seasons by Tracie Peterson?  If you like Tracie’s writing you may want to read these stories.  It was nice to read shorter story format and some of the stories were enjoyable.  But the short story format may not work well for some of the storylines. 

 

I would like to thank Barbour Publishing and NetGalley for the opportunity to read a complimentary copy of Love Through the Seasons by Tracie Peterson.  I was under no obligation to give a favorable review.  


Friday, November 25, 2022

Honor’s Refuge by Hallee Bridgeman – Likable relatable characters, suspense, intrigue

Honor's Refuge by Hallee Bridgeman is the third book in the Love and Honor series.  It’s the second book I’ve read by this author.  I wanted to read it because the author makes the characters come to life.

 

Honor’s Refuge continues the story of Phil Osbourne, who was introduced in the first book of the series Honor Bound.  In that book, Phil had lost his leg due to an injury he sustained on a mission with the special forces team.  Phil’s been home for two years and developed a friendship Melissa Braxton who runs a shelter for women who suffer from physical abuse.  Truth be told, Phil and Melissa have fallen in love.  But Phil doesn’t feel like a man who is whole, or that he can’t be the man Melissa deserves. 

 

Phil and some of his former teammates researched and found Melissa’s long-lost sister Lola.  They were separated when they were very young following their mother’s death.  Phil would do anything, including putting himself at risk, to reunite this family. 

 

I appreciate how Hallee Bridgeman develops the characters in her book.  The main characters are very likeable, as well as Phil and Melissa’s friends, family, and co-workers.  There is a depth to the characters that makes them seem real.  Honor’s Refuge is suspenseful.  Mysteries are unveiled as the characters work through their weaknesses, understand their feelings and try to strengthen their faith. 

 

Faith is part of the character’s lives.  I appreciated that Phil and Melissa prayed and talked about the Lord.  I would like to have seen the Gospel more accurately presented.  Melissa’s sister Lola is comforted by the community that has taken her in, she is curious about their faith.  It was explained to her that “It’s less about religion and more about community.”  Repentance of sin and belief in Jesus Christ for forgiveness of sin was not explained. 

 

Phil was one of my favorite characters.  He used his experience and training to help protect Melissa, Lola, and her children.  His personal mission was to protect them threats from very evil people entrenched in drug trafficking. 

 

I had some problems with the ending of the book.  Phil’s background and training was special forces, and since he was dealing with men who were downright evil.  I’m not sure it was realistic that he would respond to the bad guys by subduing them and using zip ties and sheets to restrain them.  I didn’t understand why Phil struggled with remorse over the violence he employed to protect innocent women and children from a drug lord and his minions who intended to harm them.

 

I liked Honor’s Refuge because of the characters.  It’s an interesting story with suspense, intrigue, bravery, good vs. evil, and developing relationships.  I did struggle some with the ending.  Even so, I recommend Honor’s Refuge by Hallee Bridgeman.  I would give this book a 3.5-star rating. 

 

I thank Revell Publishing and NetGalley for the opportunity to read a complimentary copy of Honor’s Refuge by Hallee Bridgeman.  I was under no obligation to give a favorable review. 

 



 

Thursday, November 03, 2022

Body of Evidence by Irene Hannon- Likable Characters, Interesting Storyline

Body of Evidence by Irene Hannon is the third book in the Triple Threat series.  If you like mysteries and intrigue, give this book a read.

 

Grace Riley is a forensic pathologist in rural Missouri.  Not the kind of place where you anticipate stumbling across a lot of murders.  Though the evidence seems to indicate Mavis died of natural causes, something about this case doesn’t sit right with Grace.  It’s Friday night, Grace is alone and conducting an autopsy in the mortuary when she hears a noise.  She investigates, but it isn’t until she goes outside that she finds the source of the noise and dials 911.  The new local sheriff, Nate Cox, is on duty and responds to the call.  These two working together will not be deterred until they get to the bottom of it.

 

I really enjoyed Body of Evidence, and from page one, I was hooked.  The main characters, Grace and Nate, were likeable and had interesting careers.  I liked learning about the job of a forensic pathologist, and very different in a rural setting as opposed to a big city.  I enjoyed their friendship and developing romance.  I also liked Grace’s relationship with her sisters. Eve and Cate.  They were caring and supportive.  The townspeople were intriguing, and I found myself examining them through the lens of a  perspective of a suspect.

 

I appreciated that this a clean novel.  Faith is talked about a little bit in the novel.  I would have liked to have had that element further developed with the main characters.  I did figure out who the bad guy was and wanted to learn about their motives and why they did their dastardly deeds.  Very much liked Grace and Nate, there were upright in character, determined to find the truth and fight for justice. 

 

If you like suspense and intrigue, if you like books that involve law enforcement and medical mysteries, I recommend Body of Evidence by Irene Hannon. 

 

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

 

Friday, October 14, 2022

Honor Bound by Hallee Bridgeman – Good Storyteller and Likable Characters

Honor Bound the first book I’ve read by author Hallee Bridgeman.  I enjoyed this book and looking forward to reading more novels from the author.

 

Dr. Cynthia Myers left the Washington D.C political scene following a humiliating episode with her former fiancé.  She went far away to the jungles in Africa to work as a medical missionary providing obstetric services to women in a small village.  She loves doing her job and has found fulfillment helping local families.  The life she’s settled into is about to be disrupted when a warlord’s battle come to town.  The warlord’s son is gravely injured, and Cynthia has been charged with trying to save his life.  Captain Rick Norton and his Army Special Forces team are in pursuit of the warlord, and his army who have wrecked-havoc in the villages. 

 

I really enjoyed this book, Hallee is good storyteller.  She is skilled at making the reader feel like they are right there with the characters in the midst of the jungle.  I liked the characters, especially Rick Norton and his team.  I came to respect Cynthia over time, but initially bristled at this character’s attitudes and views.  Hallee did a good job bringing the military battles and escape plans to life.  As a Christian, I appreciated that faith was an important part of the character’s lives.  The book has clean language, and sexual immorality was not part of the story. 

 

My favorite character was Rick Norton.  He was a man of strength, was confident in his skills, training and leadership.  He wanted to be true to and pursue that which God had called him to.  I also came to like Cynthia’s father.  He unapologetically made the best decisions he could and gave wise advice to his daughter.

 

I struggled with Cynthia and her “holier than thou” passivist naïve views.  Like when she was angry when Rick and his team had to dispatch the warlord’s army.  She believed that it would be better if she had died instead of men who were doing evil things and harming many people in their path.  The character’s moral compass was skewed.  She didn’t distinguish between good and evil.  Overtime she grew and had better balanced views…mostly. 

 

Something I took issue with some of the Scripture references being misused or misstated.  The biggest one was in a conversation between Cynthia and Rick when she referenced Matthew 5, where Jesus Christ submitted and went with the soldiers who were arresting Him.  “Christ defied them without violence.  He went with the soldiers peaceably from the garden of prayer and ultimately laid down his life.  Should we Christians not be Christlike in all things?”  My issue with this misuse of Scripture was that Jesus Christ’s purpose in not resisting the soldiers was not to show a passivist response to evil.  This was done in fulfillment of God’s plan for the Son of God to willingly die a substitutionary death on the cross, to pay the sin debt of everyone who will repent of their sins and believe in Him. 

 

A second misstatement of Scripture, “God’s Word promises us that He will take all things and make them good.  Even the horrible things.”  Wrongly stated.  Better to stick with Scripture rather than misstate it.  “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.”  Romans 8:28

 

I liked Honor Bound, the first book in the Love and Honor series.  It was easy to get into the story, and there were many likable characters.  Hallee Bridgeman is a good story teller.  I would add a caution to not get your theology from Christian fiction and be aware when Scripture is misstated or misused. 

 

I look forward to reading more books from Hallee Bridgeman including the next two novels in the Love and Honor series. 

 

I would like to thank Revell Publishing and NetGalley for the opportunity to read a complimentary copy of Honor Bound by Hallee Bridgeman.  I was under no obligation to give a favorable review.

 

Tuesday, September 27, 2022

The Apple Creek Announcement by Wanda E Brunstetter – Mixed Emotions

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

Saturday, September 17, 2022

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Friday, August 26, 2022

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


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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Tuesday, July 26, 2022

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

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. 

 


Letters of Trust by Wanda E Brunstetter – Difficult Topic Handled with Care

  Author Wanda E. Brunstetter has become one of my favorite writers.   I appreciate that her books are clean, without profanity and sexual ...