Tuesday, November 16, 2021

Lights Out, The SNAP Agency #1 by Natalie Walters


Book description:

CIA analyst Brynn Taylor developed a new program to combat terrorism, and she invited members of foreign intelligence agencies to America to foster cooperation between countries. Now one of them, Egyptian spy Remon Riad, is missing.

Jack Hudson has been working for the Strategic Neutralization and Protection Agency for almost nine years and takes the lead in hunting down the missing spy. But he isn't at all pleased to find out Brynn is involved. It's hard to trust a woman who's already betrayed you.

Every lead they follow draws them dangerously deeper into an international plot. Kidnapping, murder, explosions, poisoning--the terrorists will do anything to accomplish their goal of causing a digital blackout that will blind a strategic US military communications center and throw the world into chaos.

Can Brynn surrender control to a man who doesn't trust her? And can Jack ever get over what she did to him? The fate of the world--and their hearts--hangs in the balance.

My review:

   Natalie Walters is still a fairly new author, having just one trilogy published before this series....and it was a great series.

 If this book is any indication, she is just getting better. It was a truly great read, and has all the ingredients to make it that great read:

Plot: A very current and danger is terrorism, and in this book: terrorists targeting the power grids of the USA. 

Characters: Walters created some awesome characters for the SNAP team, all of them totally different and all very likable. Kekoa, a huge Hawiian, the "size of a mini van" is hilarious and makes everything more interesting. (He gets his own story coming out in May). Jack, the main character of this story, is more serious and just as likable. 

Suspense: There is a lot going on in this book, and it kept me on the edge of my seat reading as fast as I could. Knowing this fiction could happen some day (hope not!), made it all the more of an interesting and suspenseful read. 

Romance: This is the third book I have read recently that had two main characters who had previously been in a relationship. I like that.

   I am no expert on the ins and outs of procedures of law enforcement, but it seems the author did a lot of research and did a great job describing tech stuff and such procedures that make sense and were still interesting.

  I definitely recommend this book, and am looking forward to the other books in the series. 

 The author wrote a novella that is a prequel to the series, and it tells how the SNAP team became a team, and how each team member was recruited. I recommend reading it first. It is available in paperback or e-book.

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 Lights Out, as well as the Harbored Secrets series. A military wife, she currently resides in Texas with her soldier husband and is the proud mom of three. She loves traveling, spending time with her family, and connecting with readers on Instagram and Facebook. Learn more at www.nataliewalterswriter.com.

  Lights Out is available from Revell Publishing.

 Thanks to Revell for the review copy.


Book #2, coming May 2022

                                                       Harbored Secrets, 1-3

Saturday, November 6, 2021

The Thin Space by Dann A Stouten


Book description:

When Psychologist Rocky Devos lost his wife to cancer, he also lost his faith in the fairness of God. For over a year, he lived in the thin space between his love for God and his hatred for what he believed God did. Each night, he banged on heaven’s gate demanding an explanation.

“Why Rachel, Lord? Why would you let her suffer like that? Why didn’t you do something? Why didn’t you give us a miracle?”

The longer his prayers went unanswered the more frustrated he became. Eventually, he meets God’s silence with a silence of his own. But then, a year and four months later, the answer arrives disguised as a homeless vagabond who claims to be the apostle Paul. Clearly, Rocky believes he was delusional. But in their court-appointed sessions, he finds a kindred spirit. As Paul unpacks the pain of losing his wife in childbirth the two men connect. Rocky believes he’s there to help Paul. Paul believes the opposite.

The book explores the thin space between faith and doubt. Rocky’s questions are our questions. At some point we will all lose someone we love. When we do, we will find comfort in the company of those who have walked the path of suffering before us. Rocky invites us to join him on his journey of redemption. His conversations with Paul will not only change the way he thinks about God, they may do the same for you as well.

My review:

  I read and reviewed the author's first book eight years ago, The Gate. It has been compared to The Shack (a book I hate), but I feel it is nothing like that book, and I really enjoyed it.

 The Thin Space is different, but still an engaging read. The main character is a psychologist who had lost his wife around a year ago, and was still struggling with that and with his faith because of that. He begins counseling a man who thinks he is the Apostle Paul. The author never quite says so, but the idea that I got was that the man wasn't crazy, but actually was the Apostle Paul....but I could be wrong. :)

  It is an interesting and easy read. There is a lot of back and forth between Paul and Rocky, and there is a lot of great truths and theology in those conversations. There is also a lot of background about the Apostle Paul, most of which I knew, but it was still interesting to get a refresher on Paul and his past and his exploits after encountering Jesus.

 A book such as this is not just well written Christian fiction, but is also a book that could help people who are struggling with their faith, especially due to a loss in their life. The author gets a lot of great truths across in a non-preachy way using the medium of Christian fiction.

  The Thin Space is a great read with the possibilities of helping people who are questioning God because of loss or other bad things in their life.

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

About the author:

Dr. Dann Stouten is the Pastor of Leadership and Teaching at Christ Memorial Church in

Holland, MI. Prior to that he was the Regional Coordinator of Development for the Reformed Church in America. He was also the senior pastor at Community Reformed Church in Zeeland, Michigan. While Dann was leading Community, the church was one of the fastest growing churches in West Michigan.

Dann works with churches to help them assess their current reality, discover their preferred future, and develop a pathway to realize their objectives. His goal is to outfit the church to influence the world for Jesus Christ.

Dann is the author of The Gate: A Novel (Revell 2013), The Thin Space: Where Faith and Doubt Collide (2021), and he has written the Illustration/Application portion of the Teach the Text commentary series (Baker Books 2016).

The Thin Space is available from Elk Lake Publishing.

Lost In Darkness by Michelle Griep

Book description:

 Even if there be monsters, there is none so fierce as that which resides in man’s own heart.

Enchanting Regency-Era Gothic Romance Intertwined with Inspiration from Mary Shelley's Frankenstein  

Travel writer Amelia Balfour’s dream of touring Egypt is halted when she receives news of a revolutionary new surgery for her grotesquely disfigured brother. This could change everything, and it does. . .in the worst possible way.

Surgeon Graham Lambert has suspicions about the doctor he’s gone into practice with, but he can’t stop him from operating on Amelia’s brother. Will he be too late to prevent the man’s death? Or to reveal his true feelings for Amelia before she sails to Cairo?

My review:

   This was the first book that I have read by this author. Her Thief of Blackfriar's Lane has intrigued me, but I never read it.

  Lost In Darkness was.....different. The gothic part of the book description should have clued me in. I didn't love it, but I didn't really dislike it either....if that makes sense.

  I did like the three main characters. Graham was somewhat of a lost soul at first, yet committed to doing the right thing no matter what. Amelia set aside her career plans to help the brother she hadn't seen in seven years. Colin, her brother, was a very likable character that you can't help feeling sorry for and wishing....well, no spoilers. I do wish the author had done a better job of describing his deformities.

 Doctor Peckwood was a most unlikable character who got more and more unlikable the further in the book I got.

  The plot was decent, as was the setting. I had some difficulty getting into the book at first, but it got easier after a while. I thought the overall feel of the book was a bit depressing, though the book did have a happy ending.

  This isn't a book I would recommend, except maybe to someone who does enjoy gothic reads....yet I still am interested in checking out other books by this author.

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

About the author:

Michelle Griep’s been writing since she first discovered blank wall space and Crayolas. She seeks to glorify God in all that she writes—except for that graffiti phase she went through as a teenager. She resides in the frozen tundra of Minnesota, where she teaches history and writing classes for a local high school co-op. An Anglophile at heart, she runs away to England every chance she gets, under the guise of research. Really, though, she’s eating excessive amounts of scones while rambling around a castle. Michelle is a member of ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers) and MCWG (Minnesota Christian Writers Guild).

On the Web: www.michellegriep.com

Lost In Darkness is available from Barbour Publishing.

Thanks to Barbour for the review copy.

Thursday, November 4, 2021

Labyrinth of Lies, Triple Threat #2 by Irene Hannon

Book description:

 Danger awaits on a covert mission where few are who they seem to be

When the daughter of a high-profile businessman disappears from an exclusive girls' boarding school, police detective Cate Reilly is tapped for an undercover assignment. It doesn't take her long to realize that beneath its veneer of polish and wealth, Ivy Hill Academy harbors dark--and deadly--secrets. But the biggest shock of all? The only man she ever loved is also working at the school.

Zeke Sloan has never forgotten Cate, but now isn't the best time for their paths to cross again. When their two seemingly disparate agendas begin to intertwine--and startling connections emerge among the players--the danger escalates significantly.

But who is the mastermind behind the elaborate ruse? And how far will they go to protect their house of cards?

My review:

    Irene Hannon has been a favorite author of mine for the last 12 or so years that I have been reading her books. She is an author who seems to get better with each book and series she writes. This book is a great example.

  The author came up with a great plot, setting, and cast of characters for this book. The setting of an expensive girl's boarding school made for a very interesting and different setting, and perfect for two different people working undercover for two different branches of law enforcement. It becomes obvious fairly early that the disappearance of a young girl that Cate is investigating has something to do with the drug smuggling that Zeke is investigating.

  It is an exciting suspenseful read, made all the more suspenseful as the two main characters have to work at maintaining their covers, she as a student and he as a Spanish teacher. To make it more difficult, Cate and Zeke have to pull off meeting to compare notes. (And the idea of a 33 year old female going undercover as a 17 year old girl is not that far out. Teens on TV and in movies are often played by people in their 20's and up.)

  As in another book I read recently by a different author, the couple in this novel had previously been in a relationship together, which does make the romantic angle more believable. Zeke was much more interested in reviving that relationship than Cate was, and I was rooting for him. :)

  There have been Irene Hannon books that had more action, but this was definitely one of the more mysterious and intriguing ones. I loved it, and couldn't put it down once I started it.

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

About the author:

Irene Hannon is the bestselling and award-winning author of more than sixty contemporary romance and romantic suspense novels. In addition to her many other honors, she is a three-time winner of the prestigious RITA Award from Romance Writers of America. She is also a member of RWA's elite Hall of Fame and has received a Career Achievement Award from RT Book Reviews for her entire body of work. Learn more at www.irenehannon.com.

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

                                                               Book #1