Saturday, September 28, 2019

One Final Breath, Dive Team Investigations #3 by Lynn H Blackburn

Book description:

Revenge has no statute of limitations

When investigator Gabe Chavez had his cover blown by an aggressive reporter, the silver lining was being able to rejoin the dive team. The downside? Dive team captain Anissa Bell, a woman who both fascinates and frustrates him.

Anissa grew up as a missionary kid on the Micronesian island of Yap and always planned to return after college. But she remained stateside, determined to solve the case that haunts her--the murder of her best friend and the disappearance of a three-year-old child.

When Anissa's fractured past collides with Gabe's investigation into the tragic shooting death of a teenage boy in Lake Porter, they'll have to put aside their complicated history with each other in order to uncover the killer's identity.

My review:

  This series was the first books I have read by this author, and she had me wowed from early in the first book. Her first two books were totally awesome, with the perfect blend of suspense, drama, romance, and humor.

 But One Final Breath is the book a lot of readers have been looking forward to. Blackburn came up with some really great and likable characters, and she writes great interactions between them on and off the job. Of all of these characters, the fan favorite seems to be Gabe, one of the two main characters in this final book. Gabe is a great investigator, diver.....and the class clown. (That may be why I liked him so much, given my sense of humor and love for jokes and humor). Blackburn did an awesome job of developing his character even more, and there were times I was laughing out loud, even laying the book aside for a moment til I quit laughing. This book really rocks.

 The plot was intricate and well thought out: revenge. That wasn't obvious at first, but even when it was, the mystery was who and why. In books like this, you always figure the good guys are going to survive and win, but it is still suspenseful and fun to see how it works out, and this book had a lot of suspenseful moments. Sometimes I had an idea what was going to happen, and sometimes I was totally surprised.

 I used to not like the romance stuff too well, but these days I do, and Blackburn did a fantastic job on the Gabe/Anissa romance.....class clown and Ms sensibility play by the rules. This was the most fun romance of the three books, and the book was the most fun of the three also. While still being 100% suspenseful.

  As with all of her books, the author made her books Christian and clean. This whole series stands high among Christian suspense, but Blackburn knocked one way out of the park with this one: perfect blend of suspense, character development and interaction, romance, and humor. I highly recommend the series, and though the third book really is the best of this great series, they should be read in order.

 My only complaint? The series is over. I'll miss these characters, but I am eager to see what this talented author has coming next.

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

About the author:

Lynn H. Blackburn is the author of Beneath the Surface, In Too Deep, Hidden Legacy, and Covert Justice. Winner of the 2016 Selah Award for Mystery and Suspense, and the 2016 Carol Award for Short Novel, Blackburn believes in the power of stories, especially those that remind us that true love exists, a gift from the Truest Love. She's passionate about CrossFit, coffee, and chocolate (don't make her choose) and experimenting with recipes that feed both body and soul. She lives in Simpsonville, South Carolina, with her true love, Brian, and their three children.

  One Final Breath, and the other books in this series, are available from Revell Publishing, part of the Baker Publishing Group.

 Thanks to Revell and the author for the review copy.

Saturday, September 21, 2019

Something Needs to Change by David Platt

Book description:

While leading a team on a week-long trek of the Himalayas, bestselling author and pastor David Platt was stunned by the human needs he encountered, an experience so dramatic that it "changed the trajectory of my life." Meeting a man who'd lost his eye from a simple infection and seeing the faces of girls stolen from their families and trafficked in the cities, along with other unforgettable encounters, opened his eyes to the people behind the statistics and compelled him to wrestle with his assumptions about faith. In Something Needs to Change, Platt invites readers to come along on both the adventure of the trek, as well as the adventure of seeking answers to tough questions like, "Where is God in the middle of suffering?" "What makes my religion any better than someone else's religion?" and "What do I believe about eternal suffering?" Platt has crafted an irresistible message about what it means to give your life for the gospel--to finally stop talking about faith and truly start living it.

My review:

  I admit I don't read enough non-fiction, but David Platt is one of the few non-fiction authors I read and keep up with. Getting the chance to review his newest book was a no-brainer.

 There are books which can be life-changing, and this is one such book. The book is an interesting and fascinating read. Platt does a great job of relating his experiences on his trek though the Himalayas. He is honest, very bluntly so, about what emotions he experienced and the questions he faced as he saw and experienced things we never have to deal with here in America.

 As interesting as the book is, it isn't an easy read. Not only does it show how easy we have it here in America, it shows how shallow and selfish American Christianity is. It causes you to take a mirror to your own Christianity and question just what you are truly willing to do for God and to spread the Gospel.

  Throughout the book in addition to relating what they encountered, Platt shares portions of Scripture he read each day, along with his journal entries about what he read and about what he saw and experienced on his trek. At the end of each chapter are a couple of questions for the reader to think about and answer.

 If you are the kind of Christian who doesn't want to get out of your comfort zone, or put yourself out much to spread the Gospel, this book is not for you. But I definitely recommend reading it. It does have the possibility of being life-changing.

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

About the author:

David Platt serves as pastor at McLean Bible Church in Washington, D.C., and he is the founder and president of Radical Inc., a global ministry that serves churches in accomplishing the mission of Christ. David previously served as the president of the International Mission Board, and he has authored several books, including Radical, Radical Together, Follow Me, and Counter Culture. Along with his wife and kids, he lives in the Washington D.C. metro area.

  Something Needs to Change is available from Waterbrook/Multnomah Publishing.

  Thanks to Waterbrook/Multnomah for the review copy.

Book trailer:

More about the book:

Sunday, September 15, 2019

The Girl Behind the Red Rope by Ted and Rachelle Dekker

Book description:

Ten years ago, Grace saw something that would forever change the course of history.

When a terrible scourge is unleashed on the world, she and others from their religious community are already hidden deep in the hills of Tennessee, abiding by every rule that will keep them safe, pure--and alive. As long as they stay there, behind the red rope.

Her older brother's questions and the arrival of the first outsiders she's seen in a decade set in motion events that will cause Grace to question everything she has built her life on. Enemies rise on all sides--but who is the real enemy? And what will it cost her to uncover the truth?

For the first time, bestselling authors Ted Dekker and Rachelle Dekker team up and deliver an intense, tightly focused ride through the most treacherous world of all.

In a world where the boundaries are clear and punishments severe, a young woman risks everything to break free from the system of fear and control to find freedom and love.

My review:

  I have read several books by Ted Dekker, but have never read anything by his daughter. The description of the book intrigued me, as well as reading something the father and daughter teamed up on.

  As with pretty much any Dekker book I have read, the book had its weird moments. It actually took me a while to decide if I liked the book or not, but then I hit a point that I found myself definitely liking it and found it harder to put down the further I got into it.

  Through a fictional story, the authors did a tremendous job of showing how easily we can be captive to fear, and the effects it can have on us to be ruled by and controlled by fear. I was actually rather impressed when I finished the book, and saw how well the authors used the story to get that all across.

 The plot was well done, and the book was full of great characters, some likable and some not so likable. One of the most likable was Eli, who the book never said exactly who or what he was, but this is fiction, so I guess that doesn't really matter.

 All in all, this was a rather riveting read that shows how even religion can be wrong, and use tactics like fear to control people and keep them as bound as the devil they claim to be fighting. Great read, and great message.

About the authors:

Ted Dekker is the award-winning and New York Times bestselling author of more than forty novels, with over 10 million copies sold worldwide. He was born in the jungles of Indonesia to missionary parents, and his upbringing as a stranger in a fascinating and sometimes frightening culture fueled his imagination. Dekker's passion is simple--to explore truth through mind-bending stories that invite readers to see the world through a different lens. His fiction has been honored with numerous awards, including two Christy Awards, two Inspy Awards, an RT Reviewers' Choice Award, and an ECPA Gold Medallion. In 2013, NPR readers nationwide put him in the Top 50 Thriller Authors of All Time. Dekker lives in Nashville, Tennessee, with his wife, Lee Ann.

Rachelle Dekker is the Christy Award-winning author of The Choosing, The Calling, and The Returning in the Seer series. The oldest daughter of New York Times bestselling author Ted Dekker, Rachelle was inspired early on to discover truth through the avenue of storytelling. She writes full-time from her home in Nashville, where she lives with her husband, Daniel, and their son, Jack. Connect with Rachelle at

  The Girl Behind the Red Rope is available from Revell Publishing, part of the Baker Publishing Group.

 Thanks to Revell for the review copy.

Monday, September 9, 2019

The Gryphon Heist by James R Hannibal

Book description:

Talia Inger is a rookie CIA case officer assigned not to the Moscow desk as she had hoped but to the forgotten backwaters of Eastern Europe--a department only known as "Other." When she is tasked with helping a young, charming Moldovan executive secure his designs for a revolutionary defense technology, she figures she'll be back in DC within a few days. But that's before she knows where the designs are stored--and who's after them. 

With her shady civilian partner, Adam Tyler, Talia takes a deep dive into a world where criminal minds and unlikely strategies compete for access to the Gryphon, a high-altitude data vault that hovers in the mesosphere. But is Tyler actually helping her? Or is he using her for his own dark purposes?

My review:

 This is one of the books of 2019 that I have been most looking forward to. Unfortunately, it arrived in the middle of my move, so I wasn't able to read it as quickly as I wanted.

 The Gryphon Heist is Hannibal's first foray into Christian fiction. He has written three adult novels for the general market that are squeaky clean, curse-free, and awesome reads. He has also written a few books for kids. 

 To be honest, the beginning of the book didn't grab me as fast as I expected. It isn't boring, it is just slow-paced, but it didn't take me long after that to be pulled into it.

 I'll break down what I liked:

The plot:

  I like reading spy stuff in addition to suspense and mystery, and this involves a couple of CIA agents, and a former CIA agent. The plot itself was so intricate and full of twists and surprises, that I was even more impressed with the author after I finished the book.

 Slight spoiler: I assumed that the CIA were trying to stop a heist. I wasn't 100% correct on that. Hannibal spun such a masterful story that I didn't know who was the good and bad guys, and just when I thought I knew what was going on, the story had another twist. I was totally shocked at the one way the story went towards the end, and wondered more than ever who was good and who was bad.

 The tech part, which was a big part, was interesting and the author did a great job of describing that stuff in terms easy to understand.

The characters:

  I like interesting characters in a book, and characters can make or break a story. This one had a lot of great and likable ones, and some very unpredictable ones.

 My favorite would be Eddie, or Red Leader as he wanted to be called. The geek CIA agent in control of the gadgets and tech stuff, he came off somewhat goofy...or geeky, but totally likable. 

  Adam Tyler would be next. Former bad guy, or still current bad guy? I went back and forth the whole book trying to decide, and the author seemed to intentionally keep the reader guessing on that.

 Talia was the newbie CIA agent running an operation against her will with Adam Tyler, and facing some great challenges. I would have preferred a main male character, but can see how one would not have worked for this story for a few reasons. She came off very likable, especially by the end.

 The criminals recruited for the operation were colorful and a wide variety of personalities and talents. The interactions between them and the rest of the characters was entertaining, and at times downright hilarious. I found myself liking Finn the best, mostly due to his theatrics and daredevil actions.

The suspense:

  Thought slow in building, the book was very suspenseful. The further I got in it, the harder the book was to put down.

 The message:

  Forgiveness was the main Christian theme of the book. Talia carried a huge load of unforgiveness, and had to come face to face with that reality.

 There was also an interesting discussion on the greater good which got me to thinking.

   All in all, this is an awesome debut into Christian fiction. It has been a while since I read a book that kept me guessing so much. I definitely recommend it, and his books he wrote for the general market.

I was provided a copy of this book by the publisher. 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.

The Gryphon Heist is available from Revell, part of the Baker Publishing Group.

Thanks to Revell for the review copy.