Friday, July 31, 2020

The Beautiful Ashes of Gomez Gomez by Buck Storm

Book description:

When his wife, Angel, is killed in a head-on collision, Gomez Gomez feels he can't go on--so he doesn't. He spends his days in the bushes next to the crash site drinking Thunderbird wine, and his nights cradling a coffee can full of Angel's ashes. Slow, sure suicide, with no one for company but the snakes, Elvis's ghost, and a strange kid named Bones.
Across town, Father Jake Morales plays it safe, haunted by memories of the woman he left behind, hiding his guilt, loss, and love behind a thick wall of cassock and ritual. Then a shady business deal threatens the town--and his good friend Gomez Gomez--and Father Jake can't just stand by and watch. But what happens when the rescuer is the one in need of saving?
The Beautiful Ashes of Gomez Gomez is quirky, heartfelt, and deeply human. Lives and hopes collide in the town of Paradise, stretching across decades and continents in this epic story of forgiveness, redemption, and love.

My review:

  I have reviewed hundreds of books, and can count the negative ones I have done on one hand. I don't like to leave negative ones, but I am honest in my reviews. This book sounded really good and intrigued me, but I just could not get into it. It IS a little weird...a drunk guy talking to snakes and his dead wife, and the snakes talk back....but 64 pages in, I just wasn't enjoying the book, and was forcing myself to read, so I put it down.

 I am not knocking the author. A lot of people like his books, including this one, so it may just be me. The author does have an interesting writing style, but this book just wasn't for me.

I was provided a copy of this book for review purposes. All opinions in this review are my own

About the author:

Buck Storm is a critically acclaimed author and musician whose stories have found friends around the world. His nonfiction work includes Finding Jesus in Israel and Through the Holy Land on the Road Less Traveled. Storm’s novels include The List, The Light, Truck Stop Jesus, and The Miracle Man. The latest, The Beautiful Ashes of Gomez Gomez, launches his new series, Ballads of Paradise.
Storm and his wife, Michelle, make their home in North Idaho and have two married children.
Learn more about Buck Storm, as well as his writing and music, at buckstorm.com. He can also be found on Facebook (@buckstormauthor), Twitter (@buckstormauthor), and Instagram (@buckstorm).


The Beautiful Ashes of Gomez Gomez is available from Kregel Publishing.

Friday, July 3, 2020

The Crushing Depths, Costal Guardians #2 by Dani Pettrey

Book description:

They know the power and peril of the ocean.
But as they get closer to the deadly truth . . .
An even greater danger lurks just beneath the surface.

When an accident claims the life of an oil-rig worker, Coast Guard Investigators Rissi Dawson and Mason Rogers are flown to the scene thirty-eight miles from shore. Tensions aboard the rig are high, and the death has everyone on edge. Environmental activists are threatening to do whatever it takes to stop the "plague on the environment" from continuing its work. Meanwhile, rumors are circulating on board about an ancient curse lurking in the depths below.

Mounting evidence shows the death might not have been an accident. Was the man killed by one of the activists or, more frighteningly, a member of his own crew? Rissi and Mason have to sort through not only numerous suspects, but also their own haunted pasts and their attraction to each other.

Just as the case seems about to break open, worse news arrives: a tropical storm has turned their way. Now they're cut off from any rescue--right where the killer wants them.

My review:

  I have been hooked on Dani Pettrey's books since I read and reviewed her first book, Submerged, the first in the five-book series Alaskan Courage back in 2012. And she just keeps getting better.

  What I liked about this book:

The characters: I love all of the characters in this series, and this one focused on the new team member, Mason, and his childhood acquaintance, Rissi. Their relationship was a bit different from the usual in romantic suspense novels. They had been foster kids together years before to the same abusive man, and Mason had been her protector. This added a different and cool aspect and angle to their relationship. I have come to not just tolerate, but actually enjoy the romantic aspect of these books, and it was fun watching them renew their friendship and realize both felt more than just friends.

 I liked both main characters, but Mason was just a really awesome one you can't help but liking. One thing I love about a series where the same characters are in each book, is there is so much time and room for character development, and Pettrey excels at that. Logan is one of the most interesting and likable characters, the atheist who is so witty and almost flamboyant. I love his interactions with Emmy, and laughed out loud more than once at their arguing and slams at each other.


The suspense: A lot of the action takes place on an oil rig where unexplained and suspicious accidents keep happening, resulting in some deaths.  This truly was one of those books where you don't know what is going to happen next, nor who the guilty party is. The oil rig isn't your usual setting for a suspense novel, though not everything happened on it, but the plot did revolve around it....and it made for an interesting story.


The action: There was a lot of action in the series, and the book was fairly fast-paced, which I like.

The setting: This is the first series I have read that centers on the Coast Guard Investigative Service, and I am loving it and the setting for the story. In this book, Mason and Rissi took a day trip to my favorite vacation spot, The Outer Banks...which was an added enjoyment for me.

The romance: As I mentioned, I enjoyed the developing relationship between Mason and Rissi. The author has thrown me for a loop though in what to hope for next.....I was hoping the next book would center on Logan and Emmy, but after reading this book, I also want it to feature Noah and Caleb and their possible relationships. I definitely am looking forward to book #3.

  The Crushing Depths was an awesome read, just as good as the book it follows. Pettrey again shows why she is one of my top favorite authors.


I was provided a copy of this book for review purposes. All opinions in this review are my own.



About the author:


Praised by New York Times bestselling author Dee Henderson as "a name to look for in romantic suspense," Dani Pettrey has sold more than half a million copies of her novels to readers eagerly awaiting the next release. Dani combines the page-turning adrenaline of a thriller with the chemistry and happy-ever-after of a romance. Her novels stand out for their "wicked pace, snappy dialogue, and likable characters" (Publishers Weekly), "gripping storyline[s]" (RT Book Reviews), and "sizzling undercurrent of romance" (USA Today).

Her Alaskan Courage series and Chesapeake Valor series have received praise from readers and critics alike and spent multiple months topping the CBA bestseller lists. Dani has also been honored with multiple awards, including the Daphne du Maurier Award, two HOLT Medallions, two National Readers' Choice Awards, the Gail Wilson Award of Excellence, and Christian Retailing's Best Award.

Dani considers herself blessed to be able to write the kind of stories she loves--full of plot twists, peril, love, and a longing for hope and redemption. Her greatest joy as an author is sharing the stories God lays on her heart. She researches murder and mayhem from her home in Maryland, where she lives with her husband. Their two daughters, a son-in-law, and two adorable grandsons also reside in Maryland. For more information about her novels, visit www.danipettrey.com.


  The Crushing Depths is available from Bethany House Publishers, part of the Baker Publishing Group.


                                                     #1 in The Coastal Guardian Series




                                                    The Alaskan Courage Series:




The Chesapeake Valor Series:



Don't Keep Silent, Uncommon Justice #3 by Elizabeth Goddard

Book description:


Justice comes easy for these two. But forgiveness? That's another matter altogether.

Investigative reporter Rae Burke will do anything to find her missing sister-in-law, even if it means facing Liam McKade, a man who almost lost his life saving hers. A former DEA agent, Liam thought he could find peace at his Wyoming ranch, but he doesn't feel at home anywhere anymore. When the reporter who blew his cover on an important investigation inserts herself back into his life, he's less than thrilled. But Rae's keen investigative skills have led her down the right path--and directly into the dragon's mouth--leaving Liam no choice but to protect her.

As the danger increases, the past they both tried to flee catches up to them, along with the feelings they once had for each other . . .

My review:

  Ever since I closed my copy of the second book in this trilogy, I have been looking forward to this book. Goddard left just enough of a teaser about the 3rd and last brother in this series, that I couldn't wait to read it.

 Previously to my reading and reviewing this series, I had not read any books by this author, but since reading #1 in this trilogy, I have read several of her Love Inspired Suspense novels and enjoyed them as much as this series.

 Don't keep silent brings together Liam and Rae, who had previously had a romantic relationship that ended very badly.....with Rae blowing his DEA cover on the assignment he was on. This made an interesting dynamic between these two that I enjoyed throughout the book.

 The plot for Don't Keep Silent was very suspenseful and tangled. The author had me pretty much clueless to why Rae's sister-in-law was missing, and who had taken her. The journey to finding that out was full of drama, suspense, and pretty much non stop action.

 The Uncommon Justice Series revolves around three brothers who did not have the best upbringing, thanks to a drunk and sometimes abusive father, and the series showed how each brother dealt with it differently. Liam had run away to the military as soon as he turned eighteen, but being back home forced him to deal with his past. That element in all three books was a sad but necessary issue that needs to be discussed, and Goddard did a great job of addressing it in all three books.

 Don't Keep Silent was a thrilling conclusion to this awesome series, and has left me wanting to read more by this author. And Baker has the first book in her next series on their site: Present Danger, #1 in the Rocky Mountain Courage Series, due out in April.

   I do have one slight complaint: about this series. It did center on three brothers, and to me it would have made a lot more sense to have them pictured on the covers instead of the women they were involved with......but I still loved this series and highly recommend it, and anything Godddard has written.

I was provided a copy of this book for review purposes. All opinions in this review are my own.


About the author:


Elizabeth Goddard has sold over one million books and is the award-winning author of more than 40 romance novels and counting, including the romantic mystery The Camera Never Lies--a 2011 Carol Award winner. She is a Daphne du Maurier Award for Excellence in Mystery and Suspense finalist for her Mountain Cove series--Buried, Backfire, and Deception--and a Carol Award finalist for Submerged. When she's not writing, she loves spending time with her family, traveling to find inspiration for her next book, and serving with her husband in ministry. For more information about her books, visit her website at www.ElizabethGoddard.com.



Don't Keep Silent is available from Revell, part of the Baker Publishing Group.



                                                                         Book #1




                                                                      Book #2




         And look for Present Danger, #1 in the Rocky Mountain Courage Series, April 2021


Monday, June 29, 2020

Stories That Bind Us by Susie Finkbeiner

Book description:


Rediscover the power of story to open the doors of our hearts

Betty Sweet never expected to be a widow at forty. With so much life still in front of her, she tries to figure out what's next, never imagining what God had in mind.

When her estranged sister returns to town, Betty finds herself taking on the care of a five-year-old nephew she never knew she had. In 1960s small-town Michigan, they make an odd pair. Betty with her pink button nose and bouffant hair. Hugo with his light brown skin and large brown eyes. But more powerful than what makes them different is what they share: the heartache of an empty space in their lives. Slowly, they will learn to trust one another as they discover common ground and healing through the magic of storytelling.

My review:

  This was a new author to me, but the book intrigued me. The idea of storytelling healing and drawing two people together was something that made me want to read the book.

  The book was different, but I found myself enjoying it. Hugo was such a great character, and it was cool to see how storytelling drew he and his aunt together. I would have preferred the book to have been told in the third person point of view, but first person point of view worked OK for the book - it just isn't my favorite.

 The book covers and deals with a variety of topics, including depression. I thought the author did a great job of weaving a story around the various issues she dealt with in the book. And it was cool to see how Betty tried to make a normal childhood for this little boy she suddenly had thrust on her.

 Though this wasn't an exciting or fast paced book, it was an interesting and enjoyable read.

I was provided a copy of this book for review purposes. All opinions in this review are my own.

About the author:


Susie Finkbeiner is the CBA bestselling author of All Manner of Things, which was selected as a 2020 Michigan Notable Book, as well as A Cup of Dust, A Trail of Crumbs, and A Song of Home. She serves on the Fiction Readers Summit planning committee, volunteers her time at Ada Bible Church in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and speaks at retreats and women's events across the country. Susie and her husband have three children and live in West Michigan.

  Stories That Bind Us is available from Revell, a division of the Baker Publishing Group.

 Thanks to Revell for the review copy.

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

A Dream Within a Dream, Coffey and Hill Series #3 by Mike Nappa and Melissa Kosci

Book description:

He may be the key to solving one of the greatest unsolved art heists in history

Trudi Coffey hasn't seen Samuel Hill in weeks. Then the FBI shows up asking about him. After a strange encounter with an armed man demanding her help and an attack by a member of the Boston mob looking for someone named Dream, Trudi manages to find Samuel--or rather, he finds her. He's made some pretty powerful enemies, but right now his full attention is on protecting Dream from the mob. Because Dream has something they want--the map to the location of artwork stolen from the Gardner Museum during the infamous 1990 heist.

With danger closing in from all sides, Trudi and Samuel will have to call on all their allies to keep Dream safe and discover the identities of the people who have been hunting down Samuel. The real questions are, whom can they trust? And who will make it out of this alive?

My review:

  Two odd things about this book: The first two were published in 2016 and I reviewed both. It had been so long, I was about to get rid of the other two, thinking the series was not going to be finished. Secondly, the first two were solo works by Mike Nappa. This book has two authors.

  This book was kind of weird, but in a good way...but then each book in this series is based on one of Edgar Allen Poe's works...which are weird.

  There were times in the book I wasn't sure what was going on. The one character, nicknamed "Dream" would go back into his memories without any warning, and it wasn't always easy to realize right away where he was in his timeline. That did make him an interesting character.

 I like the two main characters a lot: Sam Hill and his ex-wife Trudi. They make an excellent pair in  their detecting and protecting "Dream." It did take me a while to realize everything revolved around a big art heist, and where "Dream" played into things. However, the authors did a great job on spinning their tale and keeping the reader guessing as to what was going on.

 Even with the confusing mind of "Dream" and the occasional weirdness, I did enjoy the book. It had a lot of suspense and action. I did think the ending was a bit abrupt, and am hoping there is another book to pick up where it left off....hopefully not in 4 years. :)

 And this series should be read in order.

I was provided a copy of this book for review purposes. All opinions in this review are my own.


About the authors:


Mike Nappa is an entertainment journalist at FamilyFans.com, as well as a bestselling and award-winning author with more than one million books sold worldwide. When he was a kid, the stories of Edgar Allen Poe scared him silly. Today he owns everything Poe ever wrote. A former fiction acquisitions editor, Mike earned his MA in English literature and now writes full-time. He is the author of Annabel Lee and The Raven.







Melissa Kosci is a fourth-degree black belt in and certified instructor of Songahm Taekwondo. In her day job as a commercial property manager, she secretly notes personal quirks and funny situations, ready to tweak them into colorful additions for her books. She and Corey, her husband of twenty years, live in Florida, where they do their best not to melt in the sun.




A Dream Withing a Dream is available from Revell, part of the Baker Publishing Group. Thanks to Revell for the review copy.





The Key to Everything by Valerie Fraser Luesse

Book description:

"Promise me you'll never come back here, Peyton. It's too much--it's just way too much."

Peyton Cabot's fifteenth year will be a painful and transformative one. His father, the heroic but reluctant head of a moneyed Savannah family, has come home from World War II a troubled vet, drowning his demons in bourbon and distancing himself from his son. A tragic accident shows Peyton the depths of his parents' devotion to each other but interrupts his own budding romance with the girl of his dreams.

Struggling to cope with a young life upended, Peyton makes a daring decision: He will retrace a journey his father took at fifteen, riding his bicycle from St. Augustine, Florida, all the way to Key West. Part declaration of independence, part search for self, Peyton's journey will bring him more than he ever could have imagined--namely, the key to his unknowable father, a longed-for reunion, and a calling that will shape the rest of his life.

My review:

  My favorite genre' is Christian suspense, so I don't always gravitate towards this kind of book...especially by an author I have never read. The description intrigued me enough to request it to review, and I am glad I did. I'll admit after I got it, I wondered if I'd be able to get into it. No worries there.

  I loved the author's style of writing. She put so much emotion and description into the story, I felt myself pulled into the story and didn't want to put it down. The main character is 15 year old Peyton, who is an awesome and very likable character. The author did a tremendous job of describing his long bicycle ride, and brought into the story the emotions he experienced as he made the same journey his dad had made when he was the same age. I loved the characters he met on his journey and the colorful descriptions of them. The scene with the dollar bill about did me in, I'll admit.

 Though this is not a suspense novel, it was a book that was extremely difficult to put down. And when I picked it up the second time, I was determined to read it til the end, which I did.

  This novel is set in 1947, when things were different. It wouldn't be safe for a 15 year old boy to bicycle what I figured out must be close to 500 miles. Plus, this is fiction.

 There is not a lot of Christian content in the book - not a criticism, just an observation. However, it is a clean book that was an absolute delight to read. After I finished it, I went on Amazon and ordered another book by the author. This one was that good. It is the best non-suspense novel I have read in quite a while. I definitely recommend it.

I was provided a copy of this book for review purposes. All opinions in this review are my own.

About the author:


Valerie Fraser Luesse is the bestselling author of Missing Isaac and Almost Home, as well as an award-winning magazine writer best known for her feature stories and essays in Southern Living, where she is currently senior travel editor. Specializing in stories about unique pockets of Southern culture, Luesse received the 2009 Writer of the Year award from the Southeast Tourism Society for her editorial section on Hurricane Katrina recovery in Mississippi and Louisiana. A graduate of Auburn University and Baylor University, she lives in Birmingham, Alabama, with her husband, Dave.

The Key to Everything is available from Revell, part of the Baker Publishing Group. Thanks to Revell for the review copy.

Check out the author's other books, Almost Home, and Missing Isaac.






Friday, June 5, 2020

A Shepherd Suspense Novel, #2: Cross Shadow by Andrew Huff

Book description:

All journalist Christine Lewis wants is the truth. All pastor John Cross wants is to avoid it.

Former CIA agent turned evangelical pastor John Cross is busy caring for the small community of believers he ministers to in Virginia. Journalist Christine Lewis is busy with the demand for her talents from top news agencies in New York City. Neither has any time left for their relationship, which began eight months before when they paired up to prevent the detonation of a chemical bomb in the nation's capital.

But when Christine hears that her stepbrother has been arrested for murder in Texas, they team up again to discover the truth about the crime. Untangling a web of conspiracy, the couple finds themselves in the center of another dangerous situation-and in trouble far deeper than they expected.

With an assassin on the loose, a trusted colleague acting as a double agent, and unreliable artificial intelligence connected to mercenaries who have Cross on their hit list, these two may not get out of the Lone Star State alive.

My review:

  Cross Shadow is one of the books I have been most looking forward to in 2020. Huff's first book in this series - and his first book ever - released in November. This second book in the trilogy was released on my birthday, something I worked out with the author. (Just kidding!)

  The Christian fiction market tends to be a women's market, so it is great to have male authors putting out quality suspense like this, and they are too few.

  This second book in the Shepherd Suspense series was just as great as the first was. I hate to over-use the word awesome, but John Cross is such an awesome character: former CIA agent turned pastor. Side note: I find myself envying his spirituality, which is crazy since he is fictional.

  The description of Cross Shadow sounds a bit tame, but the book has a lot of action and suspense in it. There are a couple of high speed chases, and Huff did an excellent job of describing everything going on in the chases. I could easily visualize it in my mind, and it rivaled some of the high speed chases I have seen in movies.

 The plot was a good one, and there were some things that happened that I did not see coming. I was a little disappointed about the romantic angle - I won't give spoilers away, and that may change in the third book, which cannot come out any time soon!

 Cross Shadow is as much of a thrilling ride of suspense and action as A Cross to Kill. Huff is setting a standard of Christian suspense which is a standard others should strive for. Definitely five stars out of 5.

 By the way, the first chapter of the third and last book, Right Cross, is that the end of this book. And yes, I made the mistake of reading it. Can't wait to read the rest of the book.


I was provided a copy of this book for review purposes. All opinions in this review are my own.

About the author:

Huff spent ten years in local church ministry as a youth pastor and creative arts pastor before pursuing God’s calling into creative storytelling and media production as the product director at Igniter Media, a church media company (ignitermedia.com).

He is a two-time finalist in the American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) Genesis Contest for unpublished authors (2014, 2017) and also won the best screenplay award at the 2015 48 Hour Film Festival in Richmond, VA. A Cross to Kill and Cross Shadow in the Shepherd Suspense series are his first releases.

Huff holds a bachelor of science in religion degree from Liberty University and a master of arts in Christian education from Dallas Theological Seminary. He resides in Plano, TX, with his beautiful wife, Jae, and their two boys.

Learn more Andrew Huff and the Shepherd Suspense novels at www.andrewhuffbooks.com. He can also be found on Facebook (@huffwrites), Twitter (@andrewjohnhuff) and Instagram (@andyhuff).


What others are saying:

“In the tradition of Ted Dekker and Frank Peretti, Cross Shadow is a strong, taut thriller that retains a Christian sense of optimism and hope while acknowledging the existence of great evil in the world. Huff raises the stakes on every page all the way through the white-knuckle finale—like watching an action movie through the written word.”

~ Kyle Mann, editor in chief of The Babylon Bee and author of How to Be a Perfect Christian

“Andrew Huff’s writing is as fast-paced and tight as his enticing story lines. Masterfully balancing a well-developed plot with a cast of characters you feel like you’ve known forever, Huff creates one page-turner after another in his Shepherd Suspense trilogy. He may be a new author, but his talented word-spinning is anything but novice and will linger long in the reader’s subconscious.”

~ Betsy St. Amant Haddox, author of All’s Fair in Love and Cupcakes


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Friday, May 22, 2020

Hadley Beckett's Next Dish by Bethany Turner

Book description:

Get ready for a heaping helping of humor, romance, and second chances

Celebrity chef Maxwell Cavanagh is known for many things: his multiple Michelin stars, his top-rated Culinary Channel show, To the Max, and most of all his horrible temper. Hadley Beckett, host of the Culinary Channel's other top-rated show, At Home with Hadley, is beloved for her Southern charm and for making her viewers feel like family.

When Max experiences a very public temper tantrum and is sent packing, his only chance to get back on TV and in the public's good graces is to work alongside Hadley. As these polar-opposite celeb chefs begin to peel away the layers of public persona and reputation, they will not only discover the key ingredients for getting along but also learn the secret recipe for unexpected forgiveness . . . and maybe even love.

In the meantime, hide the knives.

My review:

  This isn't the type of book I usually review, but it grabbed my attention since it sounded like it was an amusing read. I wasn't at all familiar with the author, but I decided to review it anyway..... and I am glad I did.

  Hadley Beckett's Next Dish isn't an overtly Christian novel, but that is OK. It is a clean book with Christian themes. And the book is definitely amusing. Throw two very different chefs in the kitchen together and hilarity definitely ensues.

 Hadley and Max are both great and likable characters.....well, Max isn't likable at the beginning of the book. The only thing that did kind of bother me about the book was Max's transformation from a jerk with a temper who drank too much into a very likable and decent guy abstaining from drinking, bad temper, and cursing...for the most part. Hadley was a Christian, but I would like to have seen Max's change come from Christ, not from a rehab center. And yes, these kind of books can be predictable with boy meets girl, one is not a Christian, but there is a conversion and they live happily ever after. Slight spoiler: if Max became a Christian, there is no mention of it in the book. It was still cool to see a the change in him throughout the book.

 That aside, it was a truly entertaining read. I found myself laughing out loud more than once as these two very different personalities clashed, and Max spent more time apologizing than cooking. It was also interesting to watch as they went from barely tolerating each other, to becoming the most important person in each other's lives.

 On the serious side, were themes of forgiveness, trust, and the lesson that fear can hold us back from happiness and fulfilling lives.

 I loved the climatic moment of the book, along with the "6 years later" part at the end. I definitely recommend the book.

I was provided a copy of this book for review purposes. All opinions in this review are my own.

About the author:


Bethany Turner is the award-winning author of The Secret Life of Sarah Hollenbeck and Wooing Cadie McCaffrey and the director of administration for Rock Springs Church in Southwest Colorado. A former bank executive and a three-time cancer survivor (all before she turned 35), Bethany knows that when God has plans for your life, it doesn't matter what anyone else has to say. Because of that, she's chosen to follow his call to write. She lives with her husband and their two sons in Colorado, where she writes for a new generation of readers who crave fiction that tackles the thorny issues of life with humor and insight.


Hadley Beckett's Next Dish is available from Revell Publishing.

Thanks to Revell for the review copy.

Thursday, May 7, 2020

Standoff, Natchez Trace Park Rangers #1 by Patricia Bradley

Book description:

The Natchez Trace National Parkway stretches 444 miles from Nashville to Natchez, the oldest town on the Mississippi River. It's the perfect road for a relaxed pleasure drive. Unfortunately for Luke Fereday, it's also perfect for moving drugs.

Sent to Natchez to infiltrate the organization at the center of the drug ring, Luke arrives too late to a stakeout and discovers the body of his friend, park ranger John Danvers. John's daughter Brooke is determined to investigate her father's murder but soon finds herself the target of a killer who will do anything to silence her.

Luke will have his hands full keeping her safe. But who's going to keep him safe when he realizes he's falling--hard--for the daughter of the man he failed to save?

My review:

 I always hate to see a series end by an author I like, and the last series by Bradley was quite awesome. Now she is starting a new series, which made me happy.

 Bradley has never written anything that disappointed me, so it is no surprise to me that I thoroughly enjoyed this great start to a new series. I was barely a few pages into the book, and two murders had already been committed, so I knew it was going to be an exciting read.

 I enjoyed the setting for the book. By the way, Natchez is not a fictional town. I googled it, and it sounds like the town described in the book.

 I loved the main characters, especially Luke. Undercover work intrigues me a lot, so he was an even more likable character since that was his role in the story.

 And there was a lot of action and suspense. This was a book where you don't know what is going to happen next, nor who the bad guys all are. There was one I was suspicious of, and was correct. (Score!)

 There was of course the obligatory romance, but this was one where the the couple had known each other for years, and had had feelings for each other for a long time. (Sometimes the boy meets girl while someone is trying to murder them as they fall in love can be a bit unbelievable...but then I am a bachelor) :)

  Standoff is a great start to what promises to be another awesome series from this author. It left me wanting more, and I am looking forward to however many books are in this series.


I was provided a copy of this book for review purposes. All opinions in this review are my own.


About the author: 


Patricia Bradley is the author of Justice Delayed, Justice Buried, Justice Betrayed, and Justice Delivered, as well as the Logan Point series. Bradley won an Inspirational Reader's Choice Award in Romantic Suspense, a Daphne du Maurier Award, and a Touched by Love Award, and she was a Carol Award finalist. She is cofounder of Aiming for Healthy Families, Inc., and she is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and Romance Writers of America. Bradley makes her home in Mississippi. Learn more at www.ptbradley.com.


Standoff is available from Revell Publishing, part of the Baker Publishing Group.

Thanks to Revell for the review copy.

Tuesday, May 5, 2020

The Lost Lieutenant (Serendipity & Secrets #1) by Erica Vetsch

Book description: 

He's doing what he can to save the Prince Regent's life . . . but can he save his new marriage as well? Evan Eldridge never meant to be a war hero--he just wanted to fight Napoleon for the future of his country. And he certainly didn't think that saving the life of a peer would mean being made the Earl of Whitelock. But when the life you save is dear to the Prince Regent, things can change in a hurry.

Now Evan has a new title, a manor house in shambles, and a stranger for a bride, all thrust upon him by a grateful ruler. What he doesn't have are all his memories. Traumatized as a result of his wounds and bravery on the battlefield, Evan knows there's something he can't quite remember. It's important, dangerous--and if he doesn't recall it in time, will jeopardize not only his marriage but someone's very life.

Readers who enjoy Julie Klassen, Carolyn Miller, and Kristi Ann Hunter will love diving into this brand-new Regency series filled with suspense, aristocratic struggles, and a firm foundation of faith.

My review:

  The cover of this book didn't do much for me - at least the guy on the cover, nor did it seem like a book I would normally read: regency. And then there is the fact I wasn't familiar with the author. However, it did sound good, and the description made it sound suspenseful.

 Once I started reading the book, I couldn't put it down. Yes, it is regency. It has nobility with all of its rules and proper ways to talk and act, but it was an awesome read. It had enough suspense to pull me in and keep me reading, even thought it isn't what I'd call a suspense novel.

 I loved the two main characters, Diana and Evan. Thrown together in a marriage ordered by royalty, each carrying secrets, and each determined to do the right thing. I thoroughly enjoyed their back and forth and progressing relationship, along with the descriptions of what was expected of nobility.

 The book had a great plot and settings, and the author made even the restoration and repairs interesting that were needed on their new residence. I found the whole book quite interesting and entertaining, and it is one that I read in one setting. With breaks, of course.

 And it had a great ending. I enjoyed the book enough that I am already eyeing book two that is due out in July. Even though this isn't a book that falls into my usual reading genre', it was definitely worth reading, and is one I recommend.


I was provided a copy of this book for review purposes. All opinions in this review are my own.

About the author:



Erica Vetsch is a New York Times best-selling and ACFW Carol Award–winning author. She is a transplanted Kansan now living in Minnesota with her husband, who she claims is both her total opposite and soul mate.  

Vetsch loves Jesus, history, romance, and sports. When she’s not writing fiction, she’s planning her next trip to a history museum and cheering on her Kansas Jayhawks and New Zealand All Blacks.

A self-described history geek, she has been planning her first research trip to England.

Learn more about Erica Vetsch and her books at www.ericavetsch.com. She can also be found on Facebook (@EricaVetschAuthor)Twitter (@EricaVetsch)Instagram (@EricaVetsch) and Pinterest (Erica Vetsch).



Giveaway:



Go here to enter: http://www.audrajennings.com/2020/04/the-lost-lieutenant-by-erica-vetsch.html




Read an excerpt here: https://www.kregel.com/books/pdfs/excerpts/9780825446177.pdf

Monday, April 6, 2020

The Montana Marshalls



I don't know that I ever reviewed a whole series of books at one time before, but there is a first time for everything.

 My actual review will be after this part:

  Susan May Warren is not an author I have read many books by. There are two reasons: A lot of her books have been just romance, which I steered away from for several years. The other reason: About 9 years ago, I read a book by her and was bothered by the use of a couple curse words in her Christian book. I sent her a polite email, and she defended it, saying "that is what that character would have said." I wasn't impressed, and quit reading her stuff.

 Somehow, I ended up on her email list and had been getting emails about this series each time a new book released. They sounded really good, but I hadn't seriously thought about reading them. Back in February, I was on my trip to Amish Country, Ohio. As part of the package deal I had got at the motel I stayed at, I had coupons for free things in the area: loaf of bread one place, a bottle of BBQ sauce another, cheese, etc. One coupon was 20% off a purchase at the small Christian bookstore in Sugarcreek, OH. They had this series of books, so I bought the first two. After I got home, I ordered the next two. After reading the first one, I ordered the 5th and last one.

My review:

  I don't need a book to be blatantly Christian to enjoy it. I like the absence of cursing, and the message of Christian books. As I read Knox, I wasn't sure it WAS Christian. There was a lot of beer drinking going on, and not much to indicate it was Christian. But it was good. Really good. So I kept on reading, and the books did become more Christian in content,  and less beer drinking. :)

  The Montana Marshalls are about a family of 6 siblings: Reuben, Knox, Tate, Ford, Wyatt, and Ruby Jane. For some reason, the oldest one, Reuben, did not get his own book. There is a lot to like about this series, and one things was that the characters are all in all 5 books, and the author set up the next story a book or two ahead.

 The books have a lot: suspense, assassins, special ops, CIA, and more. They go from rural Montana to Seattle, to Russia. They have country music concerts, covert ops, bombers,  family, fights,  and a lot of surprises along the way. I don't think I could have liked the series and characters more. This is a totally awesome series, and the author outdid herself. And no cursing :)

  I had two favorite characters: Wyatt Marshall, the hockey player, who goes to Russia to save the woman he has loved since he was a teenager, and comes back with more than he went for. (I am not going to say what...read the series!)  There is a really moving scene in there regarding him and his deceased father's Bible. My favorite character came on the scene in the 3rd book, Ford. York is the son of former missionaries who were killed when he was a kid. He was a Marine, CIA agent, and has killed a lot of people...all as part of his job. Slight spoiler here: He didn't consider himself a good guy, but ends up as the love interest of the only female sibling. The 5th book, Ruby Jane, ends up being as much his story as hers. As the author put it at the end of the book, for a man like him to realize it was possible for him to be saved, he had to forget his past...so he loses his memory in the last book, and it becomes the most Christian/spiritual of all five, and is the best of this awesome series. I highly recommend it, and it has caused me to buy her Montana Rescue Series, with the exception of #6. I was trying to get bargains, and not having any luck with it :)

Sunday, April 5, 2020

Silent Shadows, Harbored Secrets #3 by Natalie Walters

Book description:

They're running from their pasts into an unknown future.
But first, they'll have to survive the present.

Nurse Pecca Gallegos moved to the tiny town of Walton, Georgia, to protect her son and escape the dangerous lifestyle that once defined her. When a series of strange circumstances evolves into threats, Pecca finds herself confiding in an unlikely ally--her stubborn patient.

Army veteran Colton Crawford is desperate to recover from the disorder that is ruining his life, and his instincts are on high alert when threats against his nurse and her son force him to take action. But Colton's involvement only ramps up the danger when he uncovers a family secret revealing that whoever is after Pecca is closer--and more deadly--than they realized.

Welcome back to Walton, Georgia, where everyone knows your name--but no one knows your secret.

My review:

 This is the 3rd and final book in this series, the first books by this author. The first book was a great debut novel, heading up a great debut trilogy.

  Silent Shadows is a book I have been eagerly looking forward to, after reading the other  two books in the series. The book is set in the same town as the others, and has a lot of the same characters as the other two. One new addition is Colton Crawford, a very likable and flawed character.

 Not only was the who kept a mystery throughout the book, but also the why. When those are revealed, it was a big surprise as to the identity of the bad guy, but also what he wanted. I did not see that coming at all. Kudos to the author.

 There was a lot of the suspense I like in books, accompanied by the expected romance. I loved the setting of the Home for Heroes, and the idea of it, along with the colorful characters that resided there.

   In addition to the suspense and romance, Silent Shadows is also very inspiring and encouraging. There is seven year old Maceo, with a prosthetic leg who manages to overcome that handicap. As much as I hate football, there was am moment where I found my eyes watering. No spoilers :)

 And the big takeaway of  the book was Colton's experience. Slight spoiler: because of his disorder, he ended up in a town meeting people he would never have met (think romance...), and came up with a plan for his life that he never would have if it were not for his disorder. This is a review, so I won't go into what all I got out of that......but it was a great message to put in a suspense novel.

 I loved the ending, and the author tied up the whole series quite satisfactory. She has proven in this trilogy that she has earned a place among the other great suspense authors who are at the top of the market. I am looking forward to reading more of her books in the future.



I was provided a copy of this book for review purposes. All opinions in this review are my own.

About the author:


Natalie Walters is the author of Living Lies and Deadly Deceit. A military wife of 22 years, she currently resides in Hawaii with her soldier husband and their three kids. She writes full-time and has been published in Proverbs 31 magazine and has blogged for Guideposts online. In addition to balancing life as a military spouse, mom, and writer, she loves connecting on social media, sharing her love of books, cooking, and traveling. Natalie comes from a long line of military and law enforcement veterans and is passionate about supporting them through volunteer work, races, and writing stories that affirm no one is defined by their past. Learn more at www.nataliewalterswriter.com.


 Silent Shadows is available from Revell Publishing, part of the Baker Publishing Group.

 Thanks to Revell for the review copy.


                                                                       Book #1



Book #2


Thursday, April 2, 2020

Kings Falling, The Book of Wars #2 by Ronie Kendig

Book description:

As the Race for the Book of the Wars Escalates
the World Teeters on the Brink

Leif Metcalfe and his team, dubbed Reaper, need to recover the ancient Book of the Wars if they hope to stop the Armageddon Coalition and their pursuit of global economic control. But their attention has been diverted by a prophecy in the book that foretells of formidable warriors who will decimate the enemies of ArC. While Iskra Todorova uses her connections in the covert underworld to hunt down the Book of the Wars, Leif and Reaper attempt to neutralize these agents but quickly find themselves outmaneuvered and outgunned.

The more Reaper tries to stop the prophesied warriors, the more failure becomes a familiar, antagonistic foe. Friendships are fractured, and the team battles to hold it together long enough to defeat ArC. But as this millennia-old conspiracy creeps closer and closer to home, the implications could tear Leif and the team apart.

My review:

  I have loved this author's books from the first one I read and reviewed eleven years ago. She just keeps getting better with each book and series, and I am always amazed at the plots and ideas she comes up with.

 This is the second book in The Book of Wars series, and it kept me on the edge of my seat as much as the previous one did. As with her other series she has written, she has come up with a unique and colorful cast of characters that are back in this book......something I really like about her books, as you get attached to the characters and they stay throughout the series. Most of them at least.

  Kings Falling seemed to have even more action and suspenseful moments than Storm Rising. There is a lot more at stake in this book, and there were more than a few surprises I didn't see coming. Among all the action and fighting, the author gives time to relationships, and I even enjoyed that part of the story.

  To write three books about a book that doesn't exist and all that comes with it must take a great imagination and ingenuity. As I read, I did truly find myself marveling at the amazing and complicated plot the author was spinning. But that doesn't mean it is hard to read. Far from it.

 I am not one that is bothered if Christian fiction isn't blatantly Christian...and this book is not. If any of the main characters are Christians, I don't remember picking up on that...but Kendig is proof that an author can write a fast-paced novel that is so awesome and you don't want to put down, yet avoid cursing and smut. Some of her characters may curse, but it is just stated, not spelled out. And I appreciate it that an author like her writes the kind of fiction that I can loan to my nieces, nephews, or someone at church.

 Kings Falling is a masterpiece of political intrigue, special ops, and suspense. I loved everything about it, though it does have a cliffhanger ending that has me wanting to read the last book coming in November.

 I highly recommend Kings Falling, but the books should be read in order.

I was provided a copy of this book for review purposes. All opinions in this review are my own.


About the author:

Ronie Kendig (www.roniekendig.com) is the best-selling, award-winning author of over 20 novels.
She grew up an Army brat, and now she and her hunky hero are adventuring on the East Coast with their grown children, a retired military working dog, VVolt N629, and Benning the Stealth Golden. Ronie's degree in psychology has helped her pen novels with intense, raw characters.

Kings Falling is available from Bethany House Publishers.



Book #1



Book #3 (coming November 2020)



Thursday, March 19, 2020

Chasing the White Lion by James R Hannibal

Book description:

In Talia's world everyone has an angle and no one escapes unscathed

CIA officer Talia Inger may have reconciled with the man who assassinated her father, but that doesn't mean she wants him hovering over her every move and unearthing the painful past she's trying to put behind her. Still, she'll need him--and the help of his star grifter, Valkyrie--if she hopes to infiltrate the Jungle, the first ever crowdsourced crime syndicate, to rescue a group of kidnapped refugee children.

But as Talia and her elite team of thieves con their way into the heart of the Jungle, inching ever closer to syndicate boss the White Lion, she'll run right up against the ragged edge of her family's dark past. In this game of cat and mouse, it's win . . . or die. And in times like that, it's always good to have someone watching your back.

My review:
   I have been looking forward to this book since the one it follows, The Gryphon Heist. That was an awesome read, and set up the characters for this team of thieves. Chasing the White Lion picks up where the last book ended, and the author goes into more depth with developing his characters and their personalities. That is something I really enjoy about a series that has the same characters, is when the author further develops the characters. One of my favorite parts of the book was the interaction between the characters, and I chucked out loud several times. I like an author who throws humor into the mix, and Hannibal does that very well.

  One thing this author excels at is coming up with a complicated and convoluted plot that is also fairly easy to follow and understand. Granted, one cannot skim over anything in the book or you will have no clue as to what is going on.

 Writing about a team of thieves who are working for good has to be challenging, and reading about it is quite entertaining. My favorite character is still Finn, full name Michael Finn. They are all great characters, but for some reason I find myself liking him and his antics the best.

 Chasing the White Lion involves among other things, human trafficking. Hannibal wound a great plot around that, and I was turning pages as fast as I could read. It was a difficult book to put down when I needed to do that.

 One thing that is prevalent in so much Christian fiction that is not in this book and its predecessor, is romance. There seems to be a hint of it between Talia and Finn, but it is going very slowly if that is the case.

 The whole story climaxes in something called the Frenzy, which was absolutely genius with the descriptions of it and what goes on there. Though the reader assumes there is a happy ending, there are a lot of tense nail biting moments there and throughout the book.

 Chasing the White Lion is not simply Christian suspense. It is political intrigue and suspense that goes beyond the usual. Hannibal is setting a standard which will be hard to follow. Awesome read that I enjoyed immensely.

 I also recommend his super clean and curse free secular series he wrote before starting this series.

 And might I add, he is one the most interesting authors as a person whose books I have read.

I was provided a copy of this book for review purposes. All opinions in this review are my own.

About the author:


James R. Hannibal is no stranger to secrets and adventure. A former stealth pilot from Houston, Texas, he has been shot at, locked up with surface-to-air missiles, and chased down a winding German road by an armed terrorist. He is a two-time Silver Falchion Award winner for his Section 13 mysteries for kids and a Thriller Award nominee for his Nick Baron covert ops series for adults. James is a rare multi-sense synesthete, meaning all of his senses intersect. He sees and feels sounds and smells and hears flashes of light. If he tells you the chocolate cake you offered smells blue and sticky, take it as a compliment.


Chasing the White Lion is available from Revell Publishing, part of the Baker Publishing Group.

This book should be read after reading The Gryphon Heist.

Saturday, March 14, 2020

The Traitor's Pawn by Lisa Harris

Book description: 


Join the hunt for the truth--and a traitor

When FBI agent Jack Shannon arrives in Corpus Christi, Texas, he is focused on one thing: find the man who has been selling encrypted government secrets to the Chinese. But when a senator is shot during a hunting trip and the woman he was with is abducted, Jack agrees to join the search--especially when he discovers that the kidnapping victim is Aubrey Grayson, a woman he was once in love with.

As the search continues, it becomes clear the senator may not have been the intended victim--and Aubrey may be connected to the other case Jack is supposed to be working on. Can Jack untangle the knots before it's too late? And when he learns the truth, will it be too painful to get past?

My review:

  No offense to the author, but when I first read a book by her a few years back, I was just like "she is OK...". Then I read more her books, and discovered she is more than OK. I have come to love her suspense novels, and she is definitely one of my favorite suspense authors.

  The Traitor's Pawn is evidence of her being such a great author. I enjoyed this book a lot. I made the mistake of starting it on my lunch break at work, and had to put it down at a very climatic moment....which there are many of in this book.

 Harris kept me guessing for a while on who was the true target, why, and if the guy they finally suspected was truly guilty or was a victim of a frame job. Even towards the very end of the book, I found myself back and forth on the guilt of the suspect.

 As with the majority of Christian suspense novels on the market, this one is romantic suspense. This book is different from a lot of those out there. In Traitor's Pawn, the two main characters had been best friends for years when they were younger, but a dating relationship with the male lead's brother and the female lead had prevented anything beyond friendship. It is a nice departure from guy meets girl, people try to kill them, they fall in love, and they live happily ever after. Not that those books are bad. :)

 There was a lot to like about this book, and I enjoyed every minute I spent reading it. I am thankful there are quality Christian authors like Harris who continue to put out great clean and Christian suspense that is worth reading. And I have always found her more interesting since she is a missionary.

This appears to be a stand alone novel.

I was provided a copy of this book for review purposes. All opinions in this review are my own.

About the author:


Lisa Harris is a bestselling author, a Christy Award winner, and the winner of the Best Inspirational Suspense Novel from Romantic Times for her novels Blood Covenant and Vendetta. The author of more than 40 books, including The Nikki Boyd Files and the Southern Crimes series, as well as Vanishing Point, A Secret to Die For, and Deadly Intentions, Harris and her family have spent over 16 years living as missionaries in southern Africa. Learn more at www.lisaharriswrites.com.

The Traitor's Pawn is available from Revell Publishing, part of the Baker Publishing Group.
  


Thursday, February 27, 2020

Ismael Covenant, Empires of Armageddon #1 by Terry Brennan

Book description:

His marriage in tatters and his career ruined by lies, Diplomatic Security Service agent Brian Mullaney is at the end of his rope. Banished to Israel as punishment by his agency, he's assigned to guard a US ambassador and an insignificant box. Little does he know that this new job will propel him straight into a crisis of global proportions.

Inside the box is a messianic prophecy about the fate of the world. And a dark enemy known as The Turk and the forces of evil at his command are determined to destroy the box, the prophecy, and the Middle East as we know it. When Ambassador Cleveland gets in the way, his life and his daughter's life are threatened--and Mullaney must act fast.

Now agents of three ancient empires have launched covert operations to secure nuclear weapons, in direct defiance of the startling peace treaty Israel and its Arab neighbors have signed. And a traitor in the US State Department is leaking critical information to a foreign power. It's up to Mullaney--still struggling with his own broken future--to protect the embassy staff, thwart the clandestine conspiracies, and unmask a traitor--before the desert is turned into a radioactive wasteland.

My review:

 I read The Jerusalem Prophecies trilogy by Brennan, and I really enjoyed that series. It has been five years since that series ended, so I was happy to see the author coming out with a new series.

 I had a little difficulty getting into this book, but that only lasted through the prologue. Once I got to the main part of the book, I got pulled into the story.

 Though this book is fictional, this book could be taken from today's headlines. Unrest in the Middle East, fighting among Muslim factions, threats against our freedoms, etc. There is a lot that happens in this book. Fortunately, the author indicates the setting, date, and time each time he switches locations, which makes it easier to keep up with what is going on and where.

 Brian Mullaney is the main character in the book, and he is a likable one you can't help feeling sorry for and cheering on. Through his eyes, the reader gets a good look at what all is involved with ambassadors, the state department, and foreign relations in regards to those.

 I found the book a fascinating and exciting read, and learned a lot through this great fictional novel. The author knows his stuff, and it is evident that he did a lot of research for the book. I am definitely looking forward to reading more in this series.

I was provided a copy of this book for review purposes. All opinions in this review are my own.


About the author:

Terry Brennan is the award-winning author of The Sacred Cipher, The Brotherhood Conspiracy, and
The Aleppo Code, the three books in The Jerusalem Prophecies series. His latest release, Ishmael Covenant is the first in his new series, Empires of Armageddon.

A Pulitzer Prize is one of the many awards Brennan accumulated during his 22-year newspaper career. The Pottstown (PA) Mercury won the Pulitzer Prize for Editorial Writing for a two-year series published while he led the team as the newspaper’s Editor.

Starting out as a sportswriter in Philadelphia, Brennan became an editor and publisher for newspapers in Pennsylvania, Illinois, and New York and later moved to the corporate staff of Ingersoll Publications (400 newspapers in the U.S., Ireland and England) as Executive Editor of all U.S. newspaper titles.

In 1996, Brennan transitioned into the nonprofit sector, spending 12 years as VP Operations for The Bowery Mission and six years as Chief Administrative Officer for Care for the Homeless,  both in New York City.

Terry and his wife, Andrea, now live in Danbury, CT.

More on Brennan can be found at www.terrybrennanauthor.com. He is also on Facebook (Terry Brennan) and Twitter (@terrbrennan1).


Enter to win a copy of the book here.


Author interview:

An interview with Terry Brennan,
Author of Ishmael Covenant

What if three ancient empires were poised to rise again and begin an epic battle for the land they
once occupied in the Middle East? What if this battle was the fulfillment of a prophecy that would
set into motion the end of the world as we know it? Those questions were the launching point for
award-winning author Terry Brennan as he began writing his new series, Empires of
Armageddon. The series begins with Ishmael Covenant (Kregel Publications), a fast-paced,
modern-day international thriller.
At the center of the action is Diplomatic Security Service Special Agent Brian Mullaney, who is
assigned to protect Joseph Atticus Cleveland, the newly appointed US ambassador to Israel.
Mullaney is at the end of his rope as not only is his marriage in trouble, so is his career. Now he’s
been banished to Israel as punishment by his agency where he is supposed to be guarding the
ambassador and what he considers to be an insignificant box. Little does he know that his new job
will propel him straight into a crisis of global proportions.

Q: Tell us a little bit about your new Empires of Armageddon series, specifically the first book, Ishmael Covenant.
The three-book Empires of Armageddon series is a fast-paced, modern-day international thriller, constructed around
historical fact and historical fiction. The story envelops the lives of nearly a dozen key characters but is driven by three
primary characters: Diplomatic Security Service Special Agent Brian Mullaney; Joseph Atticus Cleveland, the newly appointed
US ambassador to Israel; and their unknown but evident enemy, the Turk, an immortal agent of evil who serves the One.
Out of the chaos and conflict of today’s Middle East, it appears that three ancient empires (Persian, Islamic, and Ottoman) are
about to resurrect themselves. One belief of the Islamic faith is that once an Islamic nation rules any part of the earth, it rules
that part of the earth forever. So, ultimately, each of those empires would covet, and attempt to control, the same slice of land
that each empire once ruled—from the Fertile Crescent of Mesopotamia, through the rocky desert known as Palestine, to the
Nile Delta in Egypt. The collision of those competing empires could trigger the climactic events in the Valley of Megiddo.
The series explores how this potential clash of empires might impact current history, future events, and the viability of the
Jewish state. One immediate impact of an emergent Persian Empire (an alliance between the majority Shia governments of
Iran and Iraq) is to drive their ancient enemies, the Sunni Arabs of Saudi Arabia, into a treaty and mutual defense pact with, of
all people, Israel. Thus the Ishmael Covenant, the joining together of the tribe of Abraham and the tribe of Ishmael.
The plot is kick-started when the first of two messianic prophecies, written in 1794 by the legendary Jewish Talmudic scholar
the Vilna Gaon, is revealed in Jerusalem. Mullaney accepts the responsibility of guardian of the Gaon’s second prophecy and
the box that protects it, which puts his life, and the lives of his loved ones, in terrible peril and direct opposition to the Turk.
The Turk and the One have been focused on a singular purpose for thousands of years: if they can prevent the fulfillment of
one messianic biblical prophecy, they can eradicate the validity of all prophecy and change the end of the Book—the outcome
of the Battle of Armageddon. What is contained in the Gaon’s prophecy could destroy their plans.
That theme of ultimate evil trying to overthrow the plans of God fuels the story of Ishmael Covenant, which utilizes this
geopolitical cauldron and its biblical ramifications as the backdrop for an epic testing of one man’s character when faced with
multiple adversaries who threaten his family, his faith, and his country. How Brian Mullaney responds to his calling could
dictate the fate of this world—and the onset of the next.
Q: Is there a scriptural or spiritual theme that inspired the writing of Ishmael Covenant?
My Bible is an NIV Study Bible with extensive explanatory notes on almost every page. One of the longest notes and—for
me—one of the most impactful refers to Ephesians 1:3 where Paul writes about “heavenly realms.” In part, the note explains
that Christians are in a real, tangible war, what it calls a “titanic conflict”: “In the Christian’s union with the exalted Christ,
ultimate issues are involved. . . . At stake are God’s eternal eschatological purpose and the titanic conflict between God and the
powerful spiritual forces arrayed against him. . . . As a result, the spiritual struggles of the saints here and now are not so much
against ‘flesh and blood’ as against the great spiritual forces that war against God in heaven.”
I was struck by the idea that there are great spiritual forces that war against God in heaven. More sobering is the idea that my
spiritual struggles here on earth have, in some way, an impact on that war in heaven. Not all of us will come face-to-face with
evil incarnate, as Brian Mullaney and the other characters of Ishmael Covenant do. However, agents of evil are at work in the
world today, just as they have been since Lucifer’s rebellion was crushed and banished to earth.

Q: How did your studies while writing the book change your thoughts on the spiritual
warfare we face in daily life as Christians?
I don’t generally live my daily life conscious of the part I play in this great spiritual battle in heaven.
I most often perceive the evil I face as personal. So, my wife and I pray against the spirits of evil
that try to steal, rob, and destroy in our lives, in our family, and in our marriage, which is good to
do.
Through digging deeper into the concept of spiritual warfare for this book, I’ve learned that I need
to reach beyond the personal conflict of good and evil in my life and be more conscious of the
vastness of this titanic conflict around me. I need to be an example, a reflection, of Jesus and his
love for all souls. And I need to stand up for light—to be a warrior-ambassador for light—in a dark
world that often seems to be getting darker.
But the bottom line is inevitable. Good triumphs. The end of the Book will never change.

Q: What are some of the faith struggles your main character, Brian Mullaney, faces?
Right from the outset, Mullaney is grappling with a great chasm in his life. He desperately desires the forgiveness and
affirmation of his father, but now it is impossible to attain because the elder Mullaney has died. Even though he is a man of
character and integrity, admired by many, reliable and effective in his career as an agent for the Diplomatic Security Service,
Mullaney struggles personally and spiritually with the insecurity that he’s just not good enough.
Now, unfairly accused and banished to Israel from his post in Washington, Mullaney is emotionally crippled by the fractures
occurring in his marriage. Add to that, he’s enlisted in a tangible, life-threatening conflict with evil incarnate. A devoted,
mature Christian, Mullaney openly wrestles with and challenges God’s plan as he tries to save the lives of the ambassador and
those around him in the field while desperately trying to save his marriage back home. His trust in God’s faithful provenance is
ultimately tested when he is tasked to obey an implausible heavenly command—hand over the box of power while face-to-face
with Satan’s emissary.
Q: How do aspects of actual history come together with a fictional modern-day story in your book?
There are numerous threads of actual history woven throughout the plot, threads that become critical catalysts in the
unfolding of Ishmael Covenant and the rest of the series.
The story of the Vilna Gaon—Rabbi Elijah ben Shlomo Zalman (1720–1797)—that launches the narrative is accurate in all its
historical elements. He was the foremost Talmudic scholar of his age and a renowned genius on both sacred and secular
learning. The story of the Gaon’s prophecy about Russia and Crimea, revealed by his great-great-grandson in 2014, is true and
led many to believe that the coming of the Jewish Messiah was near at hand. The Gaon did attempt three trips to Jerusalem
from his native Lithuania; the last one, only a few years before his death, ended prematurely in Konigsberg, Prussia. All of that
history is extensively integrated into the story arc that plays out over all three books. The story of the Gaon’s second prophecy
is a product of my own imagination.
The ancient biblical conflict between the nation of Israel and the people of Amalek—the descendants of Abraham and
Ishmael—is a fundamental element in the conflict driving the series. Other historically accurate elements of the book include
the rise of ISIS in Syria and Iraq in 2014, the worldwide confiscation of Iranian financial assets following the hostage crisis in
1979, NATO’s nuclear sharing project which still has sixty-one nuclear bombs in bunkers at the Incirlik Airbase, the
geopolitical weapon that water has become in the Middle East, the history of the Hurva Synagogue in Jerusalem, and the
history of the Jews in Turkey. All were vital to the development of this fictional series.
Q: What kind of research went into this series? How much time have you spent in the locales where Ishmael Covenant
takes place?
I did an extensive amount of online research on the history of the Vilna Gaon, his involvement with Jewish mysticism
(kabbalah), his continued influence on Jewish theology, and the role his followers played in the building and history of the
Hurva Synagogue in Jerusalem. Much more contemporary research was required into the concept of NATO’s policy of nuclear
sharing as well as the structure of the US State Department and the duties and layout of its operations center. Additionally, the
mission and makeup of the US military’s top-secret Joint Special Operations Command was earnestly pursued and is factually
portrayed, as was the structure and assignment of the Diplomatic Security Service, one of America’s “armed services” and the
most widely represented law enforcement agency in the world.

Several years ago, my wife and I spent three weeks in Israel, visiting almost all the locales in this and my previous series,
immersing ourselves in the history of the land and the culture of its people. Engaging a Palestinian Christian as our guide
provided us with some unique access. Over the years, I’ve made many trips to Washington, DC, including an exclusive trip to
what was then called the Old Executive Office Building inside the White House compound. By necessity, locales with high
security or limited access were researched online, often aided by visuals through Google Maps.
Q: Empires of Armageddon is categorized as “end-times fiction.” How would you describe the genre and what
encouragement would you give a reader who isn’t sure about prophetic or end-times fiction to get them to read this
new series?
As Christians, one of our foundational beliefs is that Jesus Christ will return. Many believe his second coming will usher in the
final countdown to the end of time as we know it. There are many parts of the Bible that prophesy about the second coming.
Many scholars believe the creation of the nation of Israel in 1948 started the “end-times clock” ticking. So, most likely we are
in, or on the cusp of, the end of days. The end really is near—whatever “near” means in God’s timing. I believe any novel that
weaves into its plotline elements relating to how or when Christ will return, or its impact, qualifies as end-times fiction.
It’s important to remember that end-times fiction is not the book of Revelation. It’s not theologically deep or hard to
understand.
Ishmael Covenant can be characterized as an end-times thriller because there is a strong thread connecting the plot of the
book, and the series, to last-days events such as how the quest of the protagonist may ultimately affect biblical prophecies. But
primarily it is simply a story of the conflict between good and evil, and how that conflict plays out in the life of an ordinary guy.
At its core is an everyman protagonist—a Christian man, accomplished and successful in his career, who is enlisted in a life-
threatening situation beyond his sphere of experience and understanding. This lethal danger, projected not only against the
man himself but also against his family, is perpetrated by the Turk and his disciples, a shadowy gang of murderous thugs who
ruthlessly pursue our hero from one country to the next. One complicating factor is that our protagonist realizes the spiritual
implications and consequences of the deadly conflict into which he was recruited. As a result, his faith and character are
challenged to the utmost as he confronts a relentless string of obstacles to fulfilling his call.
Q: How did your career in journalism prepare you to write this series?
Journalists are trained observers. They absorb, analyze, and report on what they see. When I write, I see the stories as movies.
In other words, I’m writing what I see in my mind, which is similar to what I did as a journalist, especially my ten years as a
sportswriter. I would watch an event and then replay it in my mind to accurately recount it for my readers.
Perhaps the most tangible result of being a journalist is that I approach my writing as a gardener, not as an architect.
Architects are the writers who have everything planned and plotted out before they get started, including extensive
biographies for all their key characters and a detailed outline that is a road map for the entire book. Journalists don’t have the
time for such exhaustive planning. Journalists are more like gardeners. You watch a game. You’re on deadline. You have an
idea. You start writing and see where it takes you. My characters generally reveal themselves to me as I write. So, in writing
novels, my process is normally to see how the plot grows and matures and where my characters take the story.
But one of the first things I learned as a writer is that novels are not written in the same way newspaper stories are written.
There is an age-old structure to the way fictional novels are written, a structure that brings clarity to the story and comfort to
readers. So, I needed to be retrained for a new style of writing.
Q: You also spent nearly two decades working in the nonprofit sector. What bearing did your work with homeless
people in New York have on these stories?
My nonprofit career, my second career, impacted the series in a significant way. For twenty years I worked for agencies that
ministered to homeless people in New York City. While I was a journalist, I really didn’t have a social justice bone in my body.
After living in The Bowery Mission for seven years, not only did my social justice perspective change by seeing injustice,
poverty, mental illness, and racism on a personal level, but my heart changed as well.
Two of the primary characters in the series are black men, one African American, one Caribbean. As a white man, they were
challenging characters for me to write because I wanted to get them right. I wanted to accurately represent the reality of being
a black man in America. I read a lot and received solid counsel and guidance from those close to me who personally experience
a black man’s reality. I hope the characters and their worldviews are portrayed honestly and accurately.

Q: Can you give us just a tease of what to expect from the rest of the series?
The entire series takes place in the span of a few days, so each book in the trilogy picks up right where the other left off. The
fight for power and dominion between the empires escalates. The theme of spiritual warfare expands as the series progresses
and intensifies as the battle for the Gaon’s second prophecy continues. And readers will find Brian Mullaney torn apart by
conflicting loyalties—protecting the ambassador, salvaging his marriage and his family, unmasking a traitor in the highest
echelons of the State Department—while entangled in a lethal battle with the emissaries of incarnate evil.
More on Brennan can be found at www.terrybrennanauthor.com. He is also on Facebook (Terry Brennan) and Twitter
(@terrbrennan1).