Tuesday, May 31, 2016

My Review - Anchor in the Storm

4 out of 5 stars
ANCHOR IN THE STORM is the second installment in the Waves of Freedom series. Though World War II is the setting, Lillian and Arch find danger on the shores of Boston.

In a word, Lillian Avery is determined. Even with the misfortune of a childhood accident that took Lillian’s leg, she refuses to allow her handicap to slow her down or get in the way of her independence. She’s thrilled to be offered a pharmacist’s job in Boston, until she finds out her employer has every intention of replacing her as soon as a man becomes available. Determined to prove herself invaluable, Lillian sets out to prove she is as good as any man, and could add some much-needed female touches to the drab drugstore. Lillian loves everything about Boston except for the flirtatious attention Archer Vandenberg continues to show her. She doesn’t care if he is her brother’s best friend and shipmate, Lillian doesn’t trust him. Arch is gorgeous, wealthy, and sophisticated; what could he possibly see in her? Besides, Lillian has no intentions of becoming involved with a man. They’re manipulative, controlling, and prey on a women’s weakness. Lillian knows firsthand the lengths a man will go to in order to gain your trust, only to feed his own selfish desires.

Ensign Archer Vandenberg is smitten with Lillian from the moment they are introduced. A bit of a cynic, Arch is used to keeping women at arms-length because they’re usually only interested in his family’s money, but Lillian doesn’t seem interested at all. In fact, her standoffish behavior makes her even more attractive. Over time, Arch realizes its Lillian’s handicap that causes her to put walls up, but Arch is determined to wear down Lillian’s resistance, at least enough that she’ll consider him a friend. Arch doesn’t want to settle for friendship, but he’s willing to give Lillian the time she needs for her to see his interest in her is genuine.

About the time Arch notices unusual behavior among the soldiers on his ship, Lillian discovers prescriptions for a dangerous drug written in larger than normal quantities. Convinced that the two are connected, Lillian and Arch do some investigating of their own. The more time they spend together, the more they open up to each other regarding their insecurities and fears. Just when it seems their relationship is ready for the next step, they both suffer their ultimate fear—betrayal.

I enjoyed ANCHOR IN THE STORM. I‘m not usually one for period pieces, but the time Ms. Sundin puts into her character development makes the backdrop inconsequential (to me). However, I did feel there were a few stutters in the story. The first being Lillian’s sudden willingness to put her apprehension regarding a relationship aside and fall head over heels for Arch. It was as sudden as a flip of a light switch. It was a bit too abrupt for me. The other was the maliciousness in which they treated each other over a misunderstanding. I think Lillian and Arch would’ve been more devastated then combative. It just seemed a little out of character for me. Other than that, ANCHOR IN THE STORM was a good follow-up to THROUGH WATERS DEEP.

Book provided for review purposes.

Available April 2016 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.



Monday, May 30, 2016

My Review - Silence in the Dark

SILENCE IN THE DARK is fast paced suspense at its best

Bailey Adams has been serving as a missionary/teacher in Mexico. She’s convinced God called her there, and it made for the perfect escape from Danny Maxwell, her ex-fiancĂ©e. While there, Bailey has seen firsthand the corruption and fear the drug cartels have brought to the people. She’s committed to making a difference, but first, she has offered to escort, Maria, one of her students, to the U.S. in order for the child to see her ailing grandfather. Before Bailey even knows what’s happening, she and Maria are caught in a shootout, and escape a kidnapping attempt. With nowhere to turn, Bailey is shocked when her help comes from Danny. She’s thankful he’s there, but revisiting their failed engagement is not what she wants to do. At the moment, she just wants to get Maria to safety and figure out if it’s her or Maria the kidnappers are after.

Danny has never stopped loving Bailey. So, when he see her in Mexico, all his old feelings for her resurface. Not understanding why Bailey is with a business associate of his, Danny has little time to ponder it before Bailey disappears. Finding Bailey and getting her to Logan’s Point is Danny’s number one priority, but his heart’s desire is that they would get a second chance at love. When it’s clear both Bailey and Maria are in trouble, Danny is determined to find out who is after them. As the list of suspects grow, and the possibility that even their friends and associates could be working against them, Danny and Bailey realize time is running out.

I thoroughly enjoyed SILENCE IN THE DARK. Patricia Bradley knows how to write suspense with just the right amount of romance. The characters have such charm. Bailey is kind and strong, but struggles with forgiving herself because of a tragedy in her past. Danny is the consummate hero who handed his heart to Bailey long ago and will do anything to protect her. A long list of secondary characters round out the story and makes you wonder who are the good guys and who are the bad guys. SILENCE IN THE DARK is a great addition to the Logan Point series.

Book provided for review purposes.

Available April 2016 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.

Friday, May 27, 2016

The Final Installment in the Alaskan Courage Series

SABOTAGED, with its unique storyline and unpredictable twists, you really had to wait until the end of the book to know the whole truth.  The only negative is knowing SABOTAGED marks the end of the series.

A Great Series Full of Action and Romance!
5 out of 5 stars
Kirra Jacobs is beside herself with worry. Her uncle−a musher in the Alaskan Iditarod race−is missing. She sets out to find him only to be shadowed by Reef McKenna, her childhood nemesis.  When Kirra and Reef find her Uncle Frank, he lets them know that Kirra’s cousin, Meg, has been kidnapped and will be killed if Frank doesn’t do exactly as they say. Kirra and Reef−along with the rest of the McKenna siblings−join forces to figure out what Frank is being forced to do and where Meg is being held. While Kirra and Reef work together to hunt down clues, Kirra realizes her feelings for Reef are no longer fueled by contempt. The attraction she feels for him confuses her, but the man she sees in Reef is far different from the adolescent she grew up with.

Reef’s transformation has been slow, and though he realizes he has true feelings for Kirra, he knows her feelings for him teeter somewhere between irritation and tolerance. But that doesn’t matter. Her family is in trouble and he intends to do everything in his power to not only help Frank and Meg, but to keep Kirra out of harm’s way.  Unfortunately, the more they uncover, the more the evidence points to a catastrophic event that endangers more than just Kirra’s family.

I absolutely LOVED the entire Alaskan Courage series.  The McKenna clan is a fiercely protective and loyal bunch, but not without their difference and their scars.  It was nice to witness the transformation in Reef−the black sheep of the family and it was great to get one more glimpse at Cole and Bailey, Piper and Landon, Gage and Darcy, and Kayden and Jake. Each of their stories was gripping, action-packed, romantic, and memorable.

A great series! A must for romance/suspense junkie!

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

My Review - Silenced - The fourth installment in the Alaskan Courage Series

5 out of 5 stars
SILENCED, book four in the Alaskan Courage series does not disappoint. Dani Pettrey has put together a great series, packed with suspense, action, and romance.
Kayden McKenna keeps her emotions locked up tight. Though part of a close-knit family, she keeps outsiders at arm’s length. That includes Jake Westin. Even though Jake has proven himself to be dependable and loyal, Kayden hides behind a wall of indifference. That is until Jake heads up an investigation into the death of a rock climber and asks for Kayden’s help. Kayden feels her resistance to Jake waning, but her fear of commitment won’t allow her to explore her feelings.
Jake Westin came to Yancy, Alaska to escape the emotional scars of his past. Finally feeling as if he can move forward, he helps Sheriff Landon Granger investigate the suspicious death of a rock climber. The more time Jake spends with Kayden McKenna, the more he finds himself falling in love with her. Knowing it will never work, he tries to keep their relationship professional.
However, when Kayden has a climbing accident of her own Jake feels as if the tragedies from his past are repeating themselves. The only way he can be assured that he’s not endangering those around him is to find the killer targeting the ones he loves.
The best thing about this series is how seamlessly the McKenna family is woven into every installment. Even though SILENCED focuses on Kayden, we also get to see what’s going on in the lives of the other McKenna siblings. Gage, Cole, Piper, and Reef are all present and accounted for. Though Reef was the focal point of book two, I hope there is one more installment that will allow is to see Reef have his happily ever after.   


Saturday, May 14, 2016

My Review - STRANDED book three in the Alaskan Courage Series

5 of 5 stars
STRANDED, book three in the Alaskan Courage series was another exciting read from Dani Pettrey.

Just when Gage McKenna thinks he’s gotten over Darcy St. James, he finds out she is working the same cruise ship he is working on as a leader of adventure excursions. 

Darcy is a reporter Gage got close to when he and his family were trying to prove his brother’s innocence in a murder investigation.  However, her similarities to someone in his past made for a pretty big obstacle.  Admittedly, they had feelings for each other, but when Darcy left Yancy, Gage convinced himself it was for the best and broke off contact with her. 

Now, Gage is convinced she didn’t change at all.  She is still up to her old tricks and techniques in order to get a story.

Darcy is shocked when she sees Gage on the same cruise ship she is working.  Her feelings for him have never changed, even though he broke off contact with her.  She does her best to convince him she’s not the same reporter she used to be, but Gage isn’t buying it.  And when Darcy’s friend goes missing, she employs all her old reporter skills to try and find her, even if it means losing Gage all over again.

When Gage realizes something is definitely wrong aboard the Bering, he ends up helping Darcy with her search.  Working with Darcy so closely churns up his old feelings for her, feelings that never really did go away.  With help from the rest of the McKenna clan, Gage and Darcy realize they are dealing with more than just a few disappearances.  What they have stumbled on is a horrifying international crime.

I am in love with the Alaskan Courage series and the whole McKenna family!  A suspense/romance series that rivals that of Dee Henderson’s O’Malley series.  I still have my frustrations when romance is held at arm’s length, but it is something I’ve come to expect from this author and will just have to adjust my thinking.  Can’t wait for SILENCED, coming out in May 2014.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

My Review - Shattered - Book Two in the Alaskan Courage series

5 of 5 stars
SHATTERED, the second installment in the Alaskan Courage series, picks up where SUBMERGED left off.

Piper McKenna is the youngest in the McKenna clan.  She loves her family deeply, even her brother Reef who has been estranged for quite some time.  When he is charged with murder, Piper refuses to believe the evidence.  Though Reef has had trouble in his past, she knows he’s not a murderer and intends on doing everything possible to prove it.  Even if it means going toe-to-toe with Landon Grainger. 

Deputy Landon Grainger was grafted into the McKenna family many years ago.  He’s always thought of Piper as a little sister.  That is until she almost died and he realized his feeling for her ran deeper than sibling love.  Trying to figure out how to explain to her how he feels is going to have to wait.  With her brother in jail for murder with overwhelming evidence against him, Landon has to balance his feelings for Piper and the rest of the McKenna’s with his duty to uphold the law.  Hopefully he doesn’t lose Piper in the outcome.

SHATTERED was a great follow-up to SUBMERGED.  Great story, great characters, good action, definitely a win, win, win.  The only negative I found with the book, just as I did in SUBMERGED was the awkward dialog that takes place when the author interjects the characters struggle with Christianity.  The dialog and inner voice of those in the books that are Christians isn’t bad.  But when unsaved characters finally surrender to God, it feels forced or stilted.  I can overlook that, but I can see how others might find it annoying and abrupt. Other than that, I am truly enjoying the series.   

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

My Review - The End of Law

4 out of 5 stars
THE END OF LAW was a chilling book that graphically described the lengths to which Hitler, and his officers, went in order to rid the world of those he deemed unworthy.

SS Officer Walter Gunther proves his loyalty over and over again to the ideologies of the Third Reich. This gets him notice, and he quickly advances in Hitler’s army. Because he kills without remorse, Gunther is the perfect choice to lead the T4 program. This program is set up not only to rid the world of the hated Jews, but also the mentally ill, homosexuals, even children with disabilities and health deficiencies.

Hedda Gunther struggles in an unhappy marriage. When her husband becomes abusive, and emotionally distant, Hedda turns her energies to her children. With a head-in-the-sand personality, Hedda doesn’t give much thought to the war or the growing rumors of what is really going on. That is, until it affects her child. Through a turn of events, Hedda realizes the horrors that are being executed in the name of war, and the many people close to her who are actively involved in these tragedies.

SS Officer Karl Muller doesn’t like the part he plays in the euthanasian programs of the Third Reich, but doesn’t have much of a choice. He does what he’s directed to do and tries to distance himself emotionally. But, when his wife’s mental condition makes her a candidate for the T4 program, Karl does everything in his power to save her, even if it means being arrested and put to death for treason.

THE END OF LAW follows these three people as they come to grips with the choices they have made in life. Walter is a horrible, unconscionable man who only cares about his career. Hedda starts off as bland and one-dimensional, but turns into a warrior for her daughter. Karl has his eyes opened to the atrocities being committed, and his part in it. He races against time to save not only his wife, but a child before either of them can me exterminated.

This book was difficult to read. Knowing it is based on the truth of Hitler’s assault on humanity, you just can’t put it down and forget what you’ve read. Therese Down was very blunt and unfiltered in her retelling of the most horrific time in world history.
Book provided for review purposes.

Saturday, May 07, 2016

My Review - Submerged

4.8 of 5 stars
SUBMERGED by Dani Pettrey was a wonderful read, full of action and suspense with romance sprinkled throughout.

Bailey Craig was an out-of-control teen when she left the small Alaskan town of Yancy.  Though she had true feelings for Cole McKenna, she ruined their relationship when she had a drunken one-night stand with another guy.  She had no intentions of ever going back to Yancy, but when her aunt is killed in a plane crash, she has no choice but to return to pay her respects.  The town is just as Bailey remembers it, and though her life has taken a complete one-eighty in the time she’s been away, the townspeople still think of her as the low-class teen that left years ago.  Seeing Cole is more difficult than she expected.  Her feelings for him have never gone away.  And even if she is a new person, she knows Cole is too decent of a guy to settle for the likes of her.

Cole McKenna, the patriarch of the McKenna clan and the family business Last Frontier Adventures, lives for adventure.  Family, friends, and the great outdoors are all he needs, or at least, that’s what he has convinced himself of for years.  However, when Bailey Craig returns to Yancy, he is shocked to find out she still has a hold on his heart.  Though Bailey left a messed up teen, she has returned a different woman; a difference Cole finds very alluring. While Cole tries to figure out his feelings for Bailey, they make a grisly discovery.  People keep showing up dead in Yancy, and Bailey might hold the key.

I absolutely loved SUBMERGED.  Great action, an amazing cast of characters, and a beautiful setting.  What more could you ask for in a suspense novel.  The McKenna family is a great anchor for the Alaskan Courage series.  I only have two small complaints.  I used the term “sprinkled” when referring to the romance in the book.  That’s because it frustrates me when characters in romance novels don’t actually experience much romance until the end of the book.  I also felt some of the overtly Christian dialog seemed stilted and a bit forced.  Other than that, SUBMERGED is a home run.  I’m just glad I will be able to catch up with Cole and Bailey in SHATTERED, the next installment in the series.

Wednesday, May 04, 2016

Author Spotlight - Dani Pettrey

I discovered Dani Pettrey with her first release in the Alaskan Courage series. SUBMERGED had an intriguing cover that spoke of adventure and suspense, and with an endorsement from Dee Henderson on the cover, who could go wrong. Her five book series is an incredible journey filled with romance/action/adventure at its best.

So, with all that said, I will be re-posting my reviews for SUBMERGED, SHATTERED, STRANDED, SILENCED, and SABOTAGED in the weeks to come. If you're a romance/suspense junkie, and haven't yet read Dani's series, I hope my reviews peak your curiosity enough to take the plunge into the Alaskan Courage series.

Some personal notes on Dani-
Dani Pettrey is a wife, homeschooling mom and author. She feels blessed to write inspirational romantic suspense because it incorporates so many things she loves–the thrill of adventure, nail-biting suspense, the deepening of one’s faith and plenty of romance. Her books have been honored with the Daphne du Maurier award, two HOLT Medallions, a Christy Award nomination, two National Readers’ Choice Awards, the Gail Wilson Award of Excellence, and Christian Retailing’s Best Award, among others. She’s a huge fan of dark chocolate, is always in search of the best iced mocha and her dream is to one day own a little cottage on a remote stretch of beach. She and her husband reside in Maryland, where they enjoy time with their two daughters, son-in-law, and super adorable grandson.

Tuesday, May 03, 2016

Book Covers - What Grabs Your Attention?

I'm curious, what do you look for in a book cover? What catches your eye? Is it a cover with real people on it, or an intriguing setting?

I've included a few examples of different covers below. Now, just for the record, these are all authors on my favorites list, and I own all of these books. Nevertheless, if I was told I could choose only one; I would have to choose Silence in the Dark.

It's important for me to connect with the characters. So, having images I can look at is a real plus. Now, the old adage "never choose a book by its cover" also comes into play. I would definitely read the back cover copy to see what the plot was about, and of course, an author I am familiar with would help to make my decision. Even so, it's the cover that entices me to read the synopsis.

So, what about you? Which cover would you choose?