Best Book I’ve Read This Year!!!

FORD

FORD (Montana Marshalls) by Susan May Warren

“I think hope is also about who you hope in.  Maybe you don’t trust the circumstances, but the source.”

Goodness!!  The third book in Susan May Warren’s Montana Marshalls series, FORD, is absolutely fantastic!!  In fact, it’s so good that I am having a really hard time putting into words just how much I love it.  I am not generally one to choose a single favorite book, because there are so many wonderful ones available.  But FORD, oh FORD!  This book shot straight to the top of my favorites list before I was even done reading it.

Susan May Warren is a fabulous author.  I’ve enjoyed everything I’ve ever read of hers.  I knew the Montana Marshalls series was going to special when I read and fell in love with the first book, KNOX.  TATE came next and the story was just amazing.  And then FORD…FORD is riveting.

This series centers around the six Marshall siblings.  Reuben’s story was told in a previous series.  Knox and Tate’s stories were shared in the first two Montana Marshalls books.  And now, in book three, we learn the story of Ford Marshall…and some of his twin sister RJ’s story.  Wyatt’s story is yet to come.  Reminiscent of Dee Henderson’s O’Malley series and Dani Pettrey’s Alaskan Courage series, these books revolve around a very intertwined family.  This is my favorite kind of series because all of the family members show up in some fashion in every book.  As readers, we are drawn into the family and are actually made to feel a part of the family.

I loved everything about FORD.  As you can surmise from the title, this book is Ford’s story.  We met Ford and Scarlett and began to get to know them in TATE.  Ford is a Navy Seal and Scarlett is a communications expert turned Rescue Swimmer candidate.  This book takes us to Russia as Ford and Scarlett go on a crazy dangerous mission to try and save Ford’s twin sister, RJ…a CIA analyst who went into the field to try and save someone’s life but became a target herself.  Enter York, an ex-special ops soldier who is working independently and becomes RJ’s self-appointed protector.

The way Susan May Warren interwove the character development with the suspense, the spiritual elements and the romance is unparalleled.  She creates characters that are so exceptionally real that I had to remind myself, more than once, that they are fictional and that my “friends” would be okay…even when it seemed that they wouldn’t.  I was on the edge of my seat the whole way through.  Between Ford and York, the intensity and suspense was gripping.  Although I enjoy suspense, I am a bit jumpy and since hiding in the hall or behind the couch isn’t effective while reading a book, I had to put down the phone when it got really suspenseful.  Haha…up and down, and up and down, and up down my phone went.  I couldn’t leave it down for long though because I had to see what was going to happen next!

The spiritual elements sprinkled throughout Christian fiction books are one of the main reasons that I read Christian fiction.  In FORD, there is a stark difference between Ford’s belief in God, the way he leans on Him and calls out to Him for help, and Scarlett’s bitterness and unbelief.  This allows for some beautiful spiritual conversations to take place that we get to witness and be challenged by ourselves.

And, as we can always expect from Susan May Warren, the romance is woven throughout the story with just enough tension to be believable and to cause you to root for them to find a way past the hurdles and into a God-honoring relationship.

And as if all of that weren’t enough, the author’s use of humor throughout the story brings a breath of fresh air amidst the mad dash across Russia to keep RJ alive.

Wow…just wow!  I cannot recommend this book highly enough.  Read it…you’ll be glad you did!  The books in this series are set up to overlap each other.  So if you have not read KNOX or TATE yet, start there because you really don’t want to miss any of this series!!

Advertisements

The Killing Tide by Dani Pettrey

The-Killing-Tide-by-Dani-Pettrey

 

“Jesus walking on water, calming the storm… Knowing He tamed something so wild and free settled her soul in a way nothing else did.”

 

Wow…just wow!  The Killing Tide is the first book in Dani Pettrey’s new Coastal Guardians series…and what a way to get things started!!  It’s fantastic!  In true Dani Pettrey fashion, this book captured me from the get-go and didn’t let go all the way through.

I very much enjoyed getting to know the new cast of characters.  The author sets up this new series well, introducing us to many new characters in a way that doesn’t overwhelm, but leaves us looking forward to learning their stories as the series continues.

Both Finn and Gabby are strong characters that evoke great emotion in the reader.  From the beginning the reader is pulled into the life of Finn and can’t help but root for him both in his career and his personal life.  Gabby is very headstrong and determined, not willing to take no for an answer.  Her tenacity has the potential of putting her in very dangerous positions and causes the reader to worry for her safety.

The suspense definitely kept me on the edge of my seat!  When watching a suspenseful movie, I am known to be quite jumpy.  And the further from the screen I am, the safer I feel.  So, as my family and friends can attest, hiding in the hall or behind a couch is a normal occurrence. Haha!   With a book I’ll never learn what happens from the hall or behind the couch…so, when it gets a bit too suspenseful and I need to feel safe, the book gets decidedly shut.  That happened more than once in this story.  But, of course, it couldn’t remain shut for long because I just had to find out what was going to happen next!!  It was written perfectly, keeping me guessing the identity of the “bad guy” to the very end!

Readers of The Killing Tide are privy to the thoughts and perspectives of some of the other characters as well.  Rissi is one of those characters and the ending sets up the next book beautifully.  I’m already anticipating its release!

Dani Pettrey is a fantastic author and her stories never disappoint.  If you love romantic suspense, you don’t want to miss this book.

Montana Marshalls #2 – TATE

Tate cover

“We love, simply because we’re loved.  God’s love comes first and ours is just a response.  We didn’t trigger it – He did.”

I have always loved Susan May Warren’s writing.  Her contemporary, her historical, her suspense…it’s all fabulous!  She crafts characters that you connect with from the moment you meet them…and from then on you consider them friends.  She draws you into each story and you are not only entertained, but ministered to.

As soon as I heard about the Montana Marshalls series, I knew I wanted to read them.  I purchased the first book, KNOX, and it was sitting on my to-be-read pile when I heard that TATE was soon to hit shelves.  These books were coming out fast!  I devoured them both and oh my goodness!!! Ah-maz-ing!!!  So, so good.  I couldn’t put them down…KNOX or TATE and I really, really can’t wait for FORD to become available!

Until I started reading KNOX, I thought that the Montana Marshalls were marshals…as in law enforcement marshals.  Haha – nope!  This series is a family with the last name of Marshall.  This is my favorite kind of series because the siblings all play a part in each book.  We know them all, on some level, from the beginning of the series which makes the rest of the series that much better.  I am a stickler for reading my books in order.  With this series, I would recommend that even readers who aren’t sticklers read them in order, as the author has set this series up to overlap one another.

We have a good feeling for who the main characters, Tate and Glo, are when we start TATE because they were such an integral part of KNOX.  We are already invested in their relationship even though there are some huge obstacles to conquer to make it work.   I loved seeing them grow and learn to overcome these obstacles.  I also loved seeing them learn to truly rely on God and His leading.  I can’t say enough good about this book – or this series.  If you don’t already have them in your to-be-read pile…order them now!!

Book of the Wars #1, Storm Rising – by Ronie Kendig

Storm Rising cover

Storm Rising is the first book in Ronie Kendig’s new series, The Book of the Wars.  I have heard rave reviews about her work, but this is the first book I’ve read by this author.    I wasn’t really sure what to expect but was very excited to jump into the world Ronie Kendig has created.  She did not disappoint.

This book grabs you from the get-go and keeps you on the edge of your seat to the very last page.  I enjoy romantic suspense and I enjoy military themes, but this paramilitary story was unlike anything I had read before.

Despite dealing daily with things I can’t even imagine, I found the characters to be very relatable in their personalities…their need to succeed, their need to protect, their need to be in control.  I enjoyed seeing how individual and unique each character was, primary and secondary characters alike.  The flaws of each made them very real to me and also demonstrated how much we each need one another and God.

I was delighted to find humor in the midst of the nail-biting suspense by way of funny expressions. For example, “I’ve tapped in Iliescu and Braun, because this is big Cheez-Its.”

The Book of the Wars is a new series, but it follows characters found in the Tox Files series.  I am generally a stickler for reading my books in order, but made an exception with this one.  Although this book can be read as a standalone, if you are like me and want the richer experiencing of having all of the info as it happens, I would recommend starting with the Tox Files.  If that doesn’t matter to you, then pick up Storm Rising right now!!  It’s a fantastic book.

I’m very glad I read it and am looking forward to reading more by this author!

I LOVE this book…”More Than Words Can Say!”

More Than Words Can Say - TreeMore Than Words Can Say by Karen Witemeyer

“Choosing a husband was much like choosing a good baguette.  One looked for a strong outer shell, a tender interior, and most importantly, a tractability of dough to hold whatever shape the baker deemed appropriate.

Abigail needed a good baguette by the end of the week.”

Oh wow…this book is sooo good!  I love Karen Witemeyer’s books…all of them.  The title of this book sums up my feelings about it perfectly.

I love this book…“More Than Words Can Say.”

More Than Words Can Say is Karen Witemeyer’s second Patchwork Family Novel.  As the quote above suggests, this is a marriage of convenience story.  Zach’s story has been highly anticipated and meeting Abigail, a joy.  Zach was such a rough and broken, yet loyal and dependable character in More Than Meets the Eye, that I couldn’t wait to see his tale unfold in More Than Words Can Say.  I was not disappointed.  Witemeyer expertly crafted each thought and interaction, deepening our regard for Zach.  He is a man of few words, with a heart of gold.  Abigail’s determination and protectiveness were apparent from the beginning causing you to want her to succeed.  The warring confidence in her abilities in the shop versus her insecurities in her personal life were realistic and very relatable.  Zach and Abigail’s interactions are one of my favorite things about this book and they range from lighthearted and funny to deep and heartbreaking.

I love the way God speaks through Karen Witemeyer’s fictional characters to teach, us, His non-fictional children how to draw nearer to Him.  Witemeyer takes us to church without making us feel like we’ve been preached to.  In this book guilt holds Zach back from a true relationship with God.  It also causes Abigail to cower from her harasser.  A conversation Abigail remembers and shares with Zach allows us to learn along with them.  “Guilt leads us to confession and repentance, she told me, but after we take it to the cross, we’re supposed to leave it there, not carry it around with us.”

One of the things I enjoy most about Karen Witemeyer’s writing is her beautiful balance of humor and heartache.  She writes historical romance and life was hard in the late 1800s.  Just as in every period of time, God was good and good could be found in and through the difficulties of life.  Witemeyer’s writing handles these matters with grace and wit.  A perfect example of this is Zach’s realization that God might just have a sense of humor. “The Big Man must be elbowing the angels right now and guffawing with the heavenly host over the fool mortal who’d done the marrying part yet was still combusting over a pair of dimples.”

More Than Words Can Say is definitely a book for the keeper shelf…one I will be reading again.  And, I’m already looking forward to the next installment – which is a novella of Rosalind’s story…yay!!  If you enjoy historical romance, if you enjoy well developed characters in cute little towns, if you enjoy seeing God working in the lives of others, you will enjoy this book.  Whether you are like me and a stickler for reading your books in order if it doesn’t matter either way to you, you should order the first Patchwork Family Novel, More Than the Eye Can See.  This series is fantastic, and I can’t wait to see where we go from here.  Happy Reading!

*Thanks to the publisher and the author for the complimentary copy to review.  A good review was neither encouraged nor requested.  All thoughts expressed are my own.

Now and Then and Always

41UH9GKGkAL._SY346_

A rambling run-down bed and breakfast, some deeply broken people, a decades old mystery…when put together with God in the center, it makes for a powerfully moving story.

I’ve missed Maple Valley…the charming, quirky town and its amazingly loving and welcoming residents. Reading Now and Then and Always, set on the outskirts of Maple Valley, just felt like coming home – oh I wish this was a real place! As always when we visit Maple Valley, we get to meet some new characters, but we also get to “run into” some old favorites. It’s such an added joy to catch up with these “friends.”

The newest Maple Valley residents, Marshall, Mara and Lenora are flawed and broken people. In this story, we witness God meeting each of these characters right where they are. And although this is a fictional story, it mimics how God uses us, flawed and broken people, to do His work…to care for, to offer acceptance, to love one another. The deeply broken characters in this book serve as examples to us of people in our own lives who need to be offered that care, acceptance and love. God uses Melissa Tagg’s writing to teach us how to be His hands and feet. Her writing has a unique blend of humor and depth that grabs hold of our hearts and ministers to us as we read.

This story deals with addiction, grief, hurtful family relationships, abandonment, abuse and scars. It deals with choices, perspectives hope and healing. It deals with all of this while sharing a beautiful story that draws you in and causes you to feel as if you are a part of it. Therefore, even though I have finished this story, I do not want to leave Maple Valley and these people yet. My real life is full of people who are dealing with these same things…the good and the bad. This story encourages me to be present in their lives and be the kind of friend and relative that I loved meeting and visiting with in this book.

If I’ve not made it clear enough in my review thus far, I love this book. It touched my heart and I am already anticipating another visit to Maple Valley.

Although set in a beloved fictional town full of stories already told, Now and Then and Always can be read as a stand-alone novel. If however you enjoy the added depth of reading stories in order, to enhance the overall enjoyment of the book, like I do, then I would recommend going back to the beginning of Maple Valley and starting with the prequel novella to the Walker Family Series, Three Little Words.

*Thanks to the publisher and the author for the complimentary copy to review. A good review was neither encouraged nor requested. All thoughts expressed are my own.

Sweet On You

SweetonYouFinalCoverSmall

Becky Wade has outdone herself with the final installment of the Bradford Sisters Romance series.  After reading and adoring the first two books (and the novellas) in this series, I could not wait to get my copy of Sweet On You and read Britt and Zander’s story.  I absolutely adored the previous books, and already loved Britt and Zander from those stories, so I knew this one would be amazing.  It was better than I could even have hoped for.

Sweet On You is a friends to more story and it’s the first time Becky Wade has used this premise.  I hope she uses it much, much more because she wrote this one masterfully!  Although, obviously, not all male/female friendships are destined for more, Britt and Zander’s definitely is – the only two who can’t see it are Britt and Zander.  Truly, Zander is an absolute dream.  How Britt can be so oblivious, I’ll never know.  Zander, on the other hand, just can’t see a relationship with Britt going from wish to reality.  I am so thankful that Becky Wade is not blind to their plight and sets her pen to helping them realize (and bring to fruition) their love for one another.

Becky Wade’s characters are consistently well developed, real and relatable.  Britt and Zander are already beloved to those of us who’ve read the rest of this series and the feeling only grows as we read Sweet On You.  I love that we are treated to glimpses of them when they were younger through notes and journal entries shared at the end of each chapter.

The Bradford Sisters Romance series is set in the fictional town of Merryweather, Washington.  Merryweather is a place that you look forward to revisiting in each book and a place you really wish you could visit in person.  Both Britt and Zander grew up in this wonderful town.  Britt has realized her dream of becoming a chocolatier in her very own “Sweet Art” Chocolate shop and Zander has been traveling the world with the advance from his highly successful, best-selling novel.  Sweet On You begins with Zander having just returned to Merryweather and I so enjoyed his appreciation of this special place – as well as one special someone – in the opening scene.

In this story, just like the others in this series, Becky Wade has added a thread of mystery.  The purpose for Zander’s return to Merryweather is that his uncle, who raised him has died.  Upon arrival he learns that the circumstances surrounding his uncle’s death are suspicious.  He vows to get to the bottom of this mystery, and this leads him and Britt on a journey to find answers.  Although not a “suspense” book…there were a few times that I was almost on the edge of my seat waiting to learn what happens next.  I’m very much enjoying the mystery aspect Becky Wade is adding into her stories.

One of my favorite things about Becky Wade’s writing is that she shares the faith walk of her characters.  Just like in real life, we are all in different places in our relationship with God.  Her characters reflect that.  Britt is very independent and in Sweet On You she learns that it’s okay to need God and those He has put in her life.  Zander learns to truly trust God with what is most important to him.  I love seeing characters grow in their faith, because it causes me to grow in my faith too.

Sweet On You is the perfect conclusion to the Bradford Sisters Romance series.  Becky Wade did a fantastic job of weaving everything together and leaving her readers feeling on top of the world, while at the same time, feeling a bit sad that we’re at the end of this series and saying goodbye to the people of Merryweather.  Thankfully, we can visit anytime we want by just picking up one of the books in this series to re-read.

If you’ve read my previous reviews, you know that I am a stickler for reading my books in order…because I feel it’s a richer experience.  This is true of the Bradford Sisters Romance series too, but Sweet On You can be read as a stand-alone novel.  So, whether you choose to read in order or jump right in…head on down to your local bookstore (or online to your favorite bookseller) and get your copy now!!  You’ll be glad you did!

Beautiful Love Story + Up All Night Suspense = FANTASTIC Conclusion to the Chesapeake Valor Series!!!

Dead Drift

Dani Pettrey did a fantastic job of wrapping up the Chesapeake Valor series in Dead Drift.  Luke and Kate’s story is full of drama, suspense and love.  Dead Drift is a multi-layered story.  It is explosive.  It is romantic.  You will read of old hurts and current hopes.  You will witness the struggle to forgive and how difficult it can be to earn and give trust.  You find yourself on the edge of your seat one moment and needing a tissue the next.

One of my favorite aspects of Dani Pettrey’s writing is how her characters intertwine throughout the series.  Although each book in the series focuses on a different couple, all of the characters – in the Chesapeake Valor Series, the group of friends – are integral to each story.

Dani Pettrey’s books draw you in and cause you to feel as through the characters are real people and the world you’ve been invited into matters.  And that’s because it does.  The world in the story mimics our real world. As in the book, our world is broken and in need of redemption.  As in real life, we try to fix it all on our own.  Through the trials portrayed in the Chesapeake Valor Series we are reminded that redemption, not only individually, but of our world, comes only through God.

Dani Pettrey is a romantic suspense author.  All of her books are suspenseful.  Dead Drift takes that suspense up a notch.  As you follow the multiple storylines, you are drawn more fully into the lives of these characters and what they are going through.  The suspense continues to build, and you hold your breath in anticipation of the outcome.

If you’ve read any of my other reviews, you likely know that I’m a stickler for reading my books in order.  I feel that it provides a much richer reading experience.  I especially recommend that with the Chesapeake Valor Series.  You can certainly read Dead Drift as a stand-alone, but there’s so much more to the overall story…so, do yourself a favor and if you haven’t already read the others, start with Cold Shot and enjoy the adventure.

Fairy Tale meets Christian Historical Fiction – Perfect Combination!! – Aladdin Edition

The Orphan's Wish Book Cover

Hagenheim has become a place I look forward to visiting with each new Melanie Dickerson Fairy Tale Romance. I absolutely adore every one of these stories. The mix of fairy tale and historical fiction told from a Christian worldview is the most amazing combination ever! I truly cannot find the words to express how much I love them.

The Orphan’s Wish is the eighth Hagenheim Fairy Tale. In this novel we learn the story of Duke Wilhelm’s daughter, Kirstyn and her childhood friend, Aladdin. The Orphan’s Wish is Melanie Dickerson’s take on an Aladdin story. Although this is a loose retelling, the essential elements are all there ~ an orphan boy falling in love with a girl, far beyond his reach and an evil, power-seeking villain trying to ruin it all. This is a fairy tale, so you already know that good wins – God wins!

The characters are well developed, and you are drawn into caring what happens to them from the start. I thoroughly enjoyed learning more about Kirstyn and Aladdin’s unique friendship through their memories and then following that grown-up relationship through the course of this story. The Orphan’s Wish is full of difficult situations – as life often can be – but throughout we are reminded of the hope we find with God in all circumstances.

I cannot recommend this book enough. If you love fairy tales…if you love historical fiction…if you love stories where good overcomes evil and love wins, this book is for you.

Smokejumpers…Alaska…Susan May Warren – Fantastic Combination!

Light My Fire

So, if you’ve read my “Favorite Authors” section of my blog, you will know that Susan May Warren is one of my top favorite authors.  I realized I went to post this review that I this is the first review of one of her books on my blog!  Yikes!!  As I thought about it, I realized that I started this blog during a time when I had read most of her books.  And then I got behind.  And if you read my blog much at all, you know I’m a stickler for reading my books in order.  Well…I made an exception for this new novella.  I really enjoy smokejumper stories and an opportunity presented itself to be an early reader on this one…so I took it.  I’ll be honest and tell you, I really, really, really wish that I had read the others first.  I can tell, from the story and the comments of other readers, that I there is more background to some of these characters in other stories.  With that said, I’m very glad I read this one.

Light My Fire, is the first of Susan May Warren’s new novella collection, Summer of the Burning Sky. It is quick paced and keeps you on the edge of your seat as the suspense zigzags through the story – and the Alaska wilderness.  The descriptions in this book had me feeling as if I were right there on that mountain in Alaska with them.  Weaved amidst the suspense is a blossoming romance and some very real conversations that reveal the struggles of the characters with trusting God completely.  Through a series of events the characters find themselves in unexpected places, facing unexpected danger.  The characters, and readers, are reminded that we are never alone.

The Summer of the Burning Sky Trilogy is loosely connected to the Montana Fire Series.  If you’re a stickler for reading your books in order – as I am – I recommend starting with Where There’s Smoke, the first Montana Fire book. If you’ve read any of Susan May Warren’s books, you already know you’re going to love this one.  If you haven’t read any of hers yet, this is a great example of her consistently fantastic work.  I’m very much looking forward to the next installment already…hurry up July!!