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).

Saturday, February 22, 2020

From Sky to Sky, No Less Days #2 by Amanda Stevens

Book description

Zac Wilson can’t die.

Daredevil Zac Wilson isn’t the first celebrity to keep a secret from the world, but his might be the most marvelous in history: Zac doesn’t age and injuries can’t kill him. What’s more, he’s part of a close-knit group of others just like him.

Holed up in Harbor Vale, Michigan, Zac meets two more of his kind who claim others in their circle have died. Are their lifetimes finally ending naturally, or is someone targeting them—a predator who knows what they are?

The answers Zac unearths present impossible dilemmas: whom to protect, how to seek justice, how to bring peace to turmoil. His next action could fracture forever the family he longs to unite. Now might be the time to ask for help. . .from God Himself. But Zac’s greatest fear is facing the God he has run from for more than a century.

My review:

 I enjoyed the previous book in this series, and was really intrigued by characters that cannot die that aren't vampires. As odd as it may sound to have a Christian series of books about people who cannot die, this is a really cool series.

  From Sky to Sky centers on the one who is the most interesting in my opinion:  Zach, the daredevil stuntman. This series isn't suspense, but this one leaned more suspenseful as they raced to find someone who seemed to have found a way to end their lives.

 The book also brought new characters that shared the immortality of the others, and also brought into play one that I think was mentioned in the previous book, but wasn't really part of the story: Simon, another interesting character I hope gets his own book.

 I really enjoyed the book, the characters, their interacting to each other, and the plot. And again, it was interesting to think what life would be like if you couldn't die, the good and the bad. What sticks out most in the story to me was Zach's struggle to overcome his severe fear of closed spaces, and his century of running from God. Slight spoiler: There is a scene where Zach is in trouble, and feels God near. He asks God "how can you still want me as your Son?" He later relates it to his friends, and wonders again how after running from God for more than a century, how God could possibly want him. He was reminded that with God, a hundred years is as just a day. Those scenes, and the rest of Zach's spiritual journey really touched me. Yeah, it is just fiction, and he is just a fictional character.......a really cool one......but it was a great reminder of God's grace, and how quick and willing He is to forgive and welcome the wanderer back.

  From Sky to Sky was a great read, and it definitely left me wanting to read more of these interesting immortal people.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Barbour Publishing and was under no obligation to post a review.



About the author:


As a child Amanda G. Stevens disparaged Mary Poppins and Stuart Little because they could never happen. Now she writes speculative fiction. She is the author of the No Less Days series and the Haven Seekers series, and her debut Seek and Hide was a 2015 INSPY Award finalist. She lives in Michigan and loves trade paperbacks, folk music, the Golden Era of Hollywood, and white cheddar popcorn.

From Sky to Sky is available from Barbour Pubishing. Thanks to Barbour for the review copy.

Wednesday, February 5, 2020

A Quiet Roar by Randall Arthur

Book description:

At a Baptist Church in rural Georgia, male leaders are taking turns filling the pulpit in the absence of a pastor.

Two weeks before Easter, one of the leaders—an eighty-year-old millionaire—looks out over the congregation of sixty people. “I’ve decided not to teach this morning,” he declares. “Rather I’m going to make an announcement. And it’s going to upset many of you. But at this point I honestly don’t care; I’m angry. The two previous pastors have nearly destroyed our church. So, I’ve decided to do something about it. Before I make my announcement, I should remind you that my brother, when he was still alive, and I built this church building on our property with our money. The agreement at the time was that when my brother and I are deceased, the deed to the property and all the buildings will transfer to the church. But I’m not dead. And I still hold the deed to the property. Therefore, I’ve made a unilateral decision. And there’s nothing anybody can do about it.”

Eyebrows all across the auditorium instantly lifted.

“In two weeks from now, on Easter Sunday, I’m bringing in a lady pastor. I’m going to pay her salary. I’m going to furnish her a home and a car. All I’m going to tell you at the moment is that she’s a widow, and she has served as a long-time missionary in Africa.” The old man paused and pointed an aged finger toward the foyer. “If you don’t like my decision, you know where the doors are.”

My review:

 A disclaimer before my review: I personally have never been for women pastors. It isn't something I make a big deal about, and have interacted with and respected women pastors at a Christian bookstore I worked at for 5 years, and at the hospital I work at. I have listened to female evangelists as a kid, and my church's first pastor was a woman way back in 1954, and was named for her for many years.


  I read three of Randall Arthur's previous books several years ago, and was especially impressed by Wisdom Hunter and Jordan's Crossing. Even with the somewhat controversial subject, I was eager to review this newest book when given the chance. I'll break it down what I thought of the book:

1) The writing: As Arthur has proven in his other books, he is a great writer. The book was an interesting and suspenseful read - not in the mystery suspense kind of suspense, and was a page turner in its own way. I didn't want to put it down, and wanted to see what happened next.

2) The characters: I loved the characters in the book, good and bad. The preacher lady was an awesome character you had to like, and even the ones who fought her were great characters, even if you didn't like them.

3) Content: This book had a lot of Christian content, Scripture, sermon content. I thought that through the fictional female pastor, the author presented some great arguments for female pastors.

What I didn't like:
1) I caught one use of the "d"word, and I am one who have always disliked curse words in a Christian book. It IS the only one I caught.

2) The ending. I won't give any spoilers, but I love happy endings. I thought the book was heading one way with a happy ending for two people......but.....

   I did enjoy the book, and it was a fascinating read. Though it is fictional, the book shows how easily Christians can get radical and show bad attitudes and actions over a verse that may not necessarily mean what we hold it so rigidly to mean. Also through fiction, the author addressed racism in the church, and brought out ways to befriend people and possibly get them to our church by just being friends and not putting on pressure.


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

About the author:

Randall and his wife have been career missionaries since 1975. They have planted churches in Oslo, Norway; Munich, Germany; and Berlin, Germany. In addition, Randall has coordinated and led over 100 short-term mission trips.

Randall is an Atlanta native. He became a believer at the age of 12, and surrendered his life to be a preacher and missionary at the age of 15.

Randall’s first novel, Wisdom Hunter, was penned in the late 1980’s. The volume was born, not out of a long held ambition to write a novel, but rather out of a therapeutic need to put into writing the painful lessons he learned as a young legalistic missionary in Norway.

The purpose of the book was to illustrate in a real-life drama the destructiveness of legalism in the body of Christ. The novel proved to be too controversial for Randall’s legalistic camp. The president of the mission agency with which Randall served demanded Randall’s resignation the very day he read the book.

Randall later wrote Jordan’s Crossing, Brotherhood of Betrayal, and Forgotten Road. These books were also born out of personal struggles and/or partial real-life experiences.

Randall’s goal as a writer is to rip the mask of pretense from American Christianity and present stories that portray true-to-life struggles, true-to-life thoughts, true-to-life reactions, and true-to-life journeys.

A Quiet Roar is his latest, and perhaps most controversial, offering.

Check out his website at RandallArthur.com, where all of his books can be purhcased.

Collision of Lies by Tom Threadgill

Book description:

The case was tragic. But it was an accident. Right?

Three years ago, a collision between a fast-moving freight train and a school bus full of kids led to devastation and grief on an unimaginable scale. But a fresh clue leads San Antonio police detective Amara Alvarez to the unlikely conclusion that one of the children may still be alive. If she's correct, everything law enforcement believes about the accident is a lie.

With time running out, Amara must convince others--and herself--that despite all evidence to the contrary, the boy is alive. And she will do everything in her power to bring him home.

A fresh voice in suspense, Tom Threadgill will have you questioning everything as you fly through the pages of this enthralling story.

My review:

  This was a new author to me. He has published a few other books, but not on the Christian market. I have been eager to read his first book on the Christian market, and was not disappointed.

   A lot of the suspense novels I read are non-stop action and suspense. Bad guy trying to kill or kidnap someone while the good guys are on the chase. This book was a much slower pace with a lot of investigating and interviewing going on for much of the book. That isn't to say the book was boring. Slow does not equal boring, as this author proved.

 The plot for the book is genius. I assumed that the boy in question had not died in the crash that killed so many, but how? And why? The answers to those questions were a long and complicated plot that had be amazed and on the edge of my seat by the time it was all over. I was disappointed in one thing at the end, and asked why the author had to do THAT?!....but it was a great read that I enjoyed very much, and am now wanting to read his other books.

 Collision of lies had a lot of different characters, likable, and not so much. Were I a male author, I would have had a male character as the main character, but Threadbill had a female. She did end up being a great character with a great supporting "cast." Though books like these typically have a romance between the two main characters, there really wasn't one in this book. Nor was there really a main male character. The book did sort of lean that way towards the end with a possibility of a romance.....maybe that will happen in the next book.

 Also, there was nothing really Christian about the book, though it was clean and curse free, and had a Christian world view. That didn't bother me, just making note of it. This is a book I would recommend, and an author I am interested in reading more of.

I was provided a copy of this book by the publisher. All opinions in this review are my own.

About the author:

Tom Threadgill is a full-time author and a member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW). He is currently on the suspense/thriller publishing board for LPC Books, a division of Iron Stream Media. He lives with his wife in rural Tennessee.

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

Thanks to Revell for the review copy.

Sunday, January 26, 2020

End Game, Capital Intrigue #1 by Rachel Dylan

Book description:

Each New Clue . . .
Every Crime Scene . . .
Brings Them Closer to Discovering the End Game

When elite members of the military are murdered on the streets of Washington, DC, FBI Special Agent Bailey Ryan and NCIS Special Agent Marco Agostini must work together to bring the perpetrator to justice. Unfortunately, all evidence points to a Navy SEAL sniper who Bailey refuses to believe is guilty.

When Bailey and Marco start to connect the dots between the victims, they wonder if there's a deeper cover-up at play. After Bailey is targeted, it becomes clear that someone is willing to kill to keep their dark secrets.

With the stakes getting higher by the moment, Bailey and Marco rush against the clock to determine whom they can really trust in this twisted conspiracy. As allies turn to enemies, the biggest secret yet to be uncovered could be the end of them all.

My review:

  I really enjoyed The Atlanta Justice Series by Rachel Dylan, so I was looking forward to this new series by her. The other series centered on lawyers and the justice side of things, but this series is going to revolve around law enforcement.

  End Game was a great suspenseful read that had everything I liked in a suspense novel. This book had something not featured in many books I read: NCIS agents, or Naval Criminal Investigative Service, if you are not familiar with the initials. This law enforcement agency doesn't make many appearances in Christian suspense novels, so I thought it was pretty cool that the author teamed them up with the FBI to work the case.

 Characters are important, and both main characters, Marco and Bailey, were great characters easy to cheer on and like.

  The plot was a really great and complicated one, yet easy to follow. I like a suspense novel where it isn't easy to figure out what is going on right away, and the author did a great job of spinning a plot that had me clueless to who killed the victims and why. I found it fascinating to learn more about government contractors and the workings of law enforcement.

 As with all of these books, there is a romantic angle, but it took a back seat to the suspense, drama, and action. Faith also played a part, something I always appreciate authors including.

 This was what I label "read in one sitting book". I started it at work on my lunch break, read more on my second break, and then finished it at home. It is not a book one would find easy to let lie around for a week, reading once in a while. It demands your attention and you won't want to put it down. Awesome start to this new series.

I was provided a copy of this book by the publisher. All opinions in this review are my own.

About the author:


Rachel Dylan (www.racheldylan.com) was a litigator in one of Atlanta's most elite law firms for over eight years and now works as an attorney at one of the Big Three automobile manufacturers. She is the author of The Atlanta Justice Series and four Love Inspired Suspense novels and lives in Michigan with her husband.

End Game is available from Bethany House, a part of the Baker Publishing Group.