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.