Monday, September 06, 2021

Hostile Intent by Lynette Eason – Filled with Suspense, But Too Much Violence

 

Hostile Intent by Lynette Eason is the fourth book in the Danger Never Sleeps series.  

Cold, calculating with a hardened heart set on vengeance, Nicolai will stop at nothing to make these people pay for what was done to his family.  FBI Agent Caden Denning is working on this case and is trying to find out why three families have been killed and how they are connected.  When evidence turns up at the crime scene, a photograph of his friend Ava Jackson, as a small child with her father, Caden is concerned that Ava may be the next target.  He will stop at nothing to bring a killer to justice and protect his friend.

I’ve read the other books in the Danger Never Sleeps series and liked them.  I especially liked the friendships between the main characters who are highlighted in each of the books.  While I like some of the characters in this book, the violence was over the top.  In the first chapter, readers are introduced to the villain who goes on to murder two families, and we learn about two other families whose murders are connected to this case.  Later, Ava is attacked and is on a hit list.  The villain not only wants to murder Ava but torture her and make her suffer.  I like mystery and suspense novels, but I was surprised that this was in a book from a Christian writer and publisher.  I would expect to see this in a book from a secular publisher.

This book has lots of twists and turns, some not so believable, like what happened to Ava’s dad.  The story kind of drags a bit when the story should be advancing.  I liked the Caden Denning character, but the budding romance between Caden and Ava was a bit of a stretch. 

Hostile Intent is the novel I liked least in the Danger Never Sleeps series.  I liked that the characters and friendships from the earlier books carried over to this one.  For me, the issues were the over-the-top violence, convoluted storyline, and the romance wasn’t believable.

Would I recommend Hostile Intent?  Perhaps for someone who is a fan of Lynette Eason’s writing.  But for others, I would pass on this book.

I would like to thank Revell Publishing and NetGalley for a complimentary copy of Hostile Intent by Lynette Eason.  I was under no obligation to give a favorable review. 

 

Wednesday, August 18, 2021

The Walnut Creek Wish by Wanda E. Brunstetter – An Enjoyable Inviting Read with Likable Characters

The Walnut Creek Wish is the first book I’ve read by Wanda E. Brunstetter. 


Jeff and Rhonda Davis have been married for nearly thirteen years.  But their marriage has been strained and they’ve grown apart.  Both are hardworking and care about one another, but disappointment over not having children has impacted their marriage.  In a last-ditch effort to try and help their marriage, against better judgment, the Davis’ decide to purchase a new home in Walnut Creek, OH.  The additional strain of financial issues, when their old house doesn’t sell, adds more pressure.  Jeff has a love for antiques and befriends an Amish couple, Orley and Lois Troyer, who own a local antique store.  A rather unconventional friendship develops between the couples.  Will their friendship and faith-filled influence be enough to help Jeff and Rhonda?

 

I loved this book.  I appreciated the development of the characters and they really came alive.  I liked that the author wasn’t in a hurry to rush from one action scene to the next.  Instead, the reader gets to know the characters and what made them the way they are.  It was interesting to learn why Jeff and Rhonda had rejected the Christian faith and to see God at work in their breaking down those walls. 

 

I read a lot of books by Christian writers and publishers, and it’s a rare occurrence these days when the Gospel message is shared as part of the storyline.  That is why I loved this book.  The Troyer’s built a relationship with the Davis’, cared about them, and prayed for them.  They shared their faith and eventually shared the Gospel of Christ with Jeff and Rhonda.  I liked and cared about these characters.

 

Because I enjoyed the characters and the setting, I didn’t want to rush through reading this book.  This book was very enjoyable.  I appreciated that the storyline was clean, without immorality or profanity. 

 

I highly recommend The Walnut Creek Wish by Wanda E. Brunstetter.  I love finding an author whose work is new to me, and I look forward to reading more of her work. 

 

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

 

Saturday, July 24, 2021

Power Play by Rachel Dylan – Filled with Suspense and Intrigue, But Story Dragged

Power Play by Rachel Dylan is the third and final book in her Capital Intrigue series.  I enjoyed the first two books and was excited to read her newest novel.

 

Vivian Steel is an attorney with the State Department and attending a diplomatic dinner in Washington DC.  As dinner starts, chaos ensues when the Egyptian ambassador drops dead.  Jacob Cruz, with diplomatic security, instructs guests to return to their seats as they handle the situation.  A couple of hours later, Vivian heads over to see the US ambassador Penelope King only to see her collapse to the ground.  Two diplomats on the same night, one dead and the other near death.  What is going on, and who is behind this?

 

That’s how Power Play starts, and the suspense and intrigue continue to build throughout the novel.  This story is a more behind-the-scenes investigation with less action than the other books in the series.  Vivian is paired with Jacob Cruz as one part of the investigation team to determine what happened to the Egyptian ambassador.  Was it murder, or was it natural causes, and does it related to what happened to the US ambassador?  When Vivian is attacked on the streets of DC, it adds another layer to the investigation.  Was this random or part of a coordinated attack?

 

I appreciated that Vivian’s friends, Layla and Bailey, featured in earlier books make an appearance in this story.  That’s one of the elements that I appreciated, their ongoing friendships and support of one another.  I liked the relationships between the FBI investigative team with Delaney and Weston.  The character’s Christian faith was a small part of the book.  I would have like to have seen it more developed.

 

The story was very convoluted and had too many twists and turns, and the story started dragging.  After Vivian is attacked, especially in light of what happened to the ambassadors, one would think that security would be on high alert and take no risks.  I found Vivian’s actions not logical or believable.  The romance between Jacob and Vivian, in the middle of an intense investigation, seemed contrived.  I think the priority would be the protection of Vivian and the ongoing investigation.  Let the relationship develop afterward.

 

I like Rachel Dylan’s writing and look forward to reading more of her books.  The story in Power Play was good, but not the strongest of the Capital Intrigue series.  If you like Rachel’s writing and have read the first two books in this series, you may want to read Power Play.

 

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

 

  

Monday, July 19, 2021

With You I Am by Cleopatra Margot – Charming and Romantic

 


It was the beautiful cover of With You I Am by Cleopatra Margot that got my attention.  After reading the storyline, I wanted to read this book.  Cleopatra Margot is a writer whose work is new to me. 

 

Noelle Carter is the CEO and events coordinator of Carter, Inc., a business started by her grandparents.  Her curiosity is peaked when the Mayor of Balsam Falls, Nebraska, contacts her about planning the town’s spring event.  Perhaps some time away will help reignite her creativity and allow her to connect to the place where her grandmother had come from.  She will be working with Wynn and Marshall from Bryant Brother’s Construction to make the venue ready for the Spring Fling.  Noelle’s life will be impacted by the town and its people, the Bryant family, and one special man. 

 

With You I Am is a charming and romantic story.  The reader will fall in love with the small town of Balsam Falls and the Bryant family.  It’s the kind of place you wish really existed and filled with people you would like to know.  Not perfect people, but people who are kind, caring, and giving.  People who have had hard times, but by God’s grace and through faith they have persevered.  As much as this book is about a love story, more than that, it is about relationships.  The Christian faith is an important element in the story. 

 

I really loved this book.  With You I Am is long and goes at a slower pace, which is kind of nice.  You get to know people as the characters are developed.  I loved the Bryant family, their friends, and would love to visit a town like Balsam Falls.  You won’t want to hurry through this book, but instead, enjoy the journey. 

 

Faith was an integral part of the characters’ lives.  Some of the theology was sound, and some of it was more motivational rather than doctrinal. 

 

I really loved this book, and then I got towards the end, and there was a turn of events I wasn’t expecting.  Honestly, that change in the story made me mad.  The character was irrational, wasn’t thinking, was selfish, and overly dramatic.  At no time did this character pray about the circumstances or seek wisdom from the Lord.  I hated this part of the book, and thankfully that wasn’t the end of the story.  But I felt manipulated by the writer for dramatic purposes.  The emotions that the character was working through could have been handled in a much different scenario which would have better fit the story.

 

Also, the physical attraction between the two main characters was focused on too much, with the repeated references throughout the book.

 

Would I recommend this book?  Yes…I loved the relationships in With You I Am, the family interaction, and their friendships.  Even though the romance was a huge part of the story, the other relationships were the meat and backbone of the story.

 

I would like to thank Faith to Love Publishing and JustRead Tours for the opportunity to read a complimentary copy of With You I Am by Cleopatra Margot.  I was under no obligation to give a favorable review. 

 

Friday, July 09, 2021

Present Danger by Elizabeth Goddard - Lots of Intrigue, But Too Many Characters and Details Took Away from the Storyline

 

Since I had enjoyed Elizabeth Goddard’s earlier mysteries, I was excited to read her newest book, Present Danger the first book in the Rocky Mountain Courage series. 

 

Present Danger is filled with suspense, mystery, and intrigue from the get-go.  Private pilot Chance Carter is taking off with a package containing something illegal and headed to a small airstrip in Montana.  He should have listened to that nagging uneasy feeling.  But when his airplane is about to crash, he’s just trying to survive.  The next two chapters seem disjointed from the first chapter.  We are introduced to Sheriff’s Detective Jack Tanner and US Forest Service Special Agent Terra Connors.  They will be joining forces to investigate the questionable death of a local citizen, Jim Raymond, found in the forest.  Jack and Terra’s relationship goes way back, but they haven’t seen each other in years.  Their relationship didn’t end on a good note however they will strive to put their personal feelings aside and solve this case.

 

Parts of the book I found interesting, like learning about different aspects of law enforcement in remote forested areas and the illegal sale of Native American artifacts.  However, I thought the book had issues that took away from the storyline and characters.

 

Present Danger very convoluted and packed with details that did not contribute to the story.  There were too many characters, it was hard to keep track of all of them.  While Jack and Terra had a history, there didn’t seem to be much romance between them.  I kind of liked Jack, but his insecurities that he had carried with him all these years (not based on his own failings or history) got kind of old.  It seemed like an unnecessary element and focus of the story.  I can’t recall if Jack ever told Terra why years before he left town without saying goodbye.  He didn’t come clean and explain what he had overheard her grandfather say.  It bothers me when things in the storyline don’t make sense, like when a character does something illogical that puts themself in danger.  Also, there came a point when Terra should have been removed from the case but she wasn’t.  One of the biggest surprises at the end came out of nowhere and didn’t seem believable.

 

Elizabeth Goddard describes scenery really well so that the reader can imagine what the place looks like or the characters are experiencing.  She’s done her research and knows jobs and locations well.  But I don’t recommend this book because of the negatives in the story: too many characters; too many unnecessary details that distract instead of moving the story forward; and not making the characters compelling enough to care about them.

 

While this book has been published by a Christian publisher there wasn’t much concerning the Christian faith in the book. 

 

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

 


Friday, June 11, 2021

The Real JRR Tolkien by Jesse Xander – Biased Eisegeses of JRR Tolkien’s Work

Since I loved JRR Tolkien’s The Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings trilogy books and movie adaptations I was excited to read a new biography The Real JRR Tolkien – The Man Who Created Middle Earth by Jesse Xander.  This author’s work is new to me but I was eager to learn more about the life of JRR Tolkien.  

 

At first, I found the details of Tolkien’s life interesting.  He lived in a different day and age and in many respects, he and his brother Hilary had a hard life, in part, because they were orphaned when they were quite young.  Because of family dynamics and strong beliefs, the boys were not raised by family but were handed over to others to raise.  The author details a lot about their youth and JRR’s adulthood and how his experiences and the people he knew were reflected in Tolkien’s writings.

 

Sounds good and much of the reading was fascinating.  Then I started seeing things in the book that were off.  Something I’ve never seen in a biography before is an author essentially apologizing for things in the subject’s life or religion or work that they felt might cause an offense to today’s readers.  Xander saw fit to read into Tolkien’s writing and assume bigotry, oppression, and criticism about his Catholic faith. 

 

Instead of exegeting Tolkien’s work, Jesse Xander eisegeses or reads into his work and assigns motives based on today’s political and moral environment.  He attributes to Tolkien prejudice, racism, misogyny, xenophobia, antisemitism, homophobia, neglect of his wife, and an imbalance of power in their marriage.

 

It seems as though Xander failed to understand and appreciate JRR Tolkien in the time and era that he grew up and he lived in.  He is judging him by today’s standard of “moral superiority”.  In a way, Xander seems to have an appreciation for Tolkien and has a lot of knowledge about his work.  In other respects, it’s like he has a love-hate relationship with Tolkien.  He spends most of the book talking about Tolkien’s life and at other times tearing him down and attributing ugly motives to him. 

 

Because of Xander’s eisegeses of Tolkien’s life and apologies for it (instead of simply telling about his life) I find suspect his interpretation because it was biased or influenced by his imposing today’s standards on this man who lived in a different day and age. 

 

Because of the flawed way Jesse Xander wrote this biography, The Real JRR Tolkien, I would not recommend it.  If he had been upfront and said he was writing a criticism of JRR Tolkien’s life and writing that would have been more honest and upfront and given readers a more accurate way to decide if they want to read his book. 

 

I would like to thank Pen & Sword Publishers and NetGalley for the opportunity to read a complimentary copy of The Real JRR Tolkien.  I was under no obligation to give a favorable review. 

Wednesday, May 12, 2021

Unknown Threat by Lynn H. Blackburn – Interesting plot and characters, but had a convoluted ending

When I saw that Lynn H. Blackburn had a new book out, Unknown Threat (Defend and Protect, Book 1), I wanted to read it because I had enjoyed her earlier novel Beneath the Surface. 

 

Unknown Threat’s plotline sounded intriguing.  US Secret Service Special Agents Luke Powell and Zack Thacker went out for an early morning run and when they return to their vehicles suddenly, they are under fire.  As they are lying on the ground looking at their vehicles, they realize that their cars are wired with bombs.  Will they survive until help comes?  Who in the world is trying to kill them and for what reason?  FBI Special Agent Faith Malone has been assigned to investigate these attacks and try and protect the remaining US Secret Service team in Raleigh.

 

This fast-paced story drew me in from the beginning.  Interesting to think about how people who risk their lives to protect others might respond when they are targeted?  I liked the character Luke Powell and the US Secret Service team, their friendships, and their commitment to one another. 

 

I didn’t quite connect with Faith Malone, she seemed more like a caricature of a tough single woman who sacrificed her personal life for career advancement.  The repeated Cherry Coke references kind of got old.  It was understandable why Faith might be attracted to Luke who was a decent nice guy, but I didn’t understand what he saw in her. 

 

Faith’s sister Hope was a very likable and refreshing character.  I would like to see her in future books of the Defend and Protect series.  It was hard to understand how the character Special Agent Janice Estes kept her job.  Was she incompetent or just plain corrupt?  She wasn’t very believable. 

 

While I liked many of the characters, I struggled a bit with the plotline.  It was very convoluted and I don’t see how a reader would have been able to figure out the mystery.  The story ended rather abruptly and if it hadn’t been for the last chapter summarizing whodunnit and why I don’t think I would have put the pieces together.  Not sure that the motives of the bad guys were believable.   

 

There wasn’t much about the Christian faith included in the storyline.  But I did appreciate that there was no profanity or sexual immorality.   

 

The good: likable characters and an interesting scenario.  Not so good: the convoluted plot and ending and one of the main characters wasn’t very likable. 

 

Would I recommend Unknown Threat by Lynn H. Blackburn?  If you like Lynn’s books give this book a read.  This is the first book in the Defend and Protect series and some of the characters will be carried over to future books.

 

I would like to thank Revell Publishers and NetGalley for the opportunity to read a complimentary copy of Unknown Threat by Lynn H. Blackburn.  I was under no obligation to give a favorable review. 

 

Friday, April 30, 2021

J. I. Packer His Life and Thought by Alister McGrath – Learn about this influential Christian Thinker

Following the death of J. I. Packer in 2020, I was interested in reading J. I. Packer His Life and Thought by Alister McGrath.  I wanted to know more about this well-respected man who had impacted Christians through his writing, most notably through Knowing God.

This book is not your typical biography, instead, the author focused on J. I. Packer’s Christian faith, theology, writing, and influence within the Christian community.  I appreciated learning about what was happening within Christianity during Packer’s life and career and his commitment to the authority of Scripture and defense of the faith. 

My favorite part of this book was learning how J. I. Packer came to faith in Jesus Christ and seeing God’s hand direct this young man and use him as a strong defender of the Christian faith.  I would have liked to hear more about the personal aspects of Packer’s life and have a fuller picture of this man of God.

If your faith walk has been influenced by J. I. Packer’s writing, or you would like to learn more about this man who influenced Christian thinking during his lifetime and beyond, I encourage you to read J. I. Packer His Life and Through by Alister McGrath. 

I would like to thank InterVarsity Press and NetGalley for the opportunity to read a complimentary copy of J. I. Packer His Life and Thought by Alister McGrath.  I was under no obligation to give a favorable review. 

Saturday, April 03, 2021

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 Aftermath.  This 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.

 

Friday, March 05, 2021

Obsession by Patricia Bradley – Mixed Feelings

Obsession by Patricia Bradley is the second book in the Natchez Trace Park Rangers series.  I’ve read a couple of books by Patricia and looked forward to this book because of the interesting setting.  

Emma Winters works as a Natchez Trace park ranger and historian.  She is overseeing a project to document and preserve the graves of the slaves who had been buried on this historical site.  As Emma is getting ready to head home, her day’s about to get a whole lot longer when someone takes a couple of shots at her.  Called in to help investigate is her former fiancĂ© Sam Ryker who also works as a park ranger.  While things didn’t end well between them, Sam wants to find the person who is targeting Emma and get out before any feelings between them are revived.

I struggled a bit with the novel.  I wasn’t too keen on the main character, Emma, she wasn’t a very likable character.  She was the independent woman who was also the helpless stubborn female who didn’t want help.  Parts of the story seemed rather contrived to keep Emma and Sam in regular contact.  There wasn’t a lot about faith in this book.  I think the story would have been richer if that aspect of the characters’ lives had been developed.  There were three people in the book that struggled with unforgiveness, Emma, Sam, and Sam’s sister Jenny.  I would like to have seen at least one of them have a biblical perspective and understanding of forgiveness.  Sam did work his way through the unforgiveness he had been harboring.

Something I can’t stand in books is when a character does something really stupid and illogical which puts them at risk and in harm’s way, which Emma did towards the end of the book.  When that happens, I stop caring about the character because I feel manipulated and it’s not logical. 

The character Sam was likable, but I didn’t understand why he continued to be drawn to Emma.  Emma’s continued to blame Sam, and herself, for her brother’s disappearance ten years earlier.  That got old really quick!  She blamed others instead of recognizing her brother’s own personal responsibility for his life choices and the risks he took. 

I liked the character Sheriff Nate Rawling and hope to see him in future books in this series.  He seemed to respect and trust the team that he was working with and was there to work alongside them.  The Natchez Trace park setting was interesting. 

There were a few elements and characters I liked in Obsession, but they were overshadowed by a character and parts of the storyline I didn’t care for. 

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

  



Sunday, February 28, 2021

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.

 

Hostile Intent by Lynette Eason – Filled with Suspense, But Too Much Violence

  Hostile Intent by Lynette Eason is the fourth book in the Danger Never Sleeps series.   Cold, calculating with a hardened heart set o...