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!!

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!

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.

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!!

 

Blind Spot – Chesapeake Valor #3

Oh my goodness!!  Dani Pettrey has done it again.  The third book in her Chesapeake Valor series, Blind Spot, is fantastic!  I don’t know how she does it, but each new book is better than the last – and since … Continue reading

Still Life

still-life-book-cover

Maybe I should preface this with the fact that I LOVE everything Dani Pettrey writes!  So, I can’t help but gush about her newest novel…Still Life, the second book in her new Chesapeake Valor series.

And, I must admit, I loved her Alaskan Courage series and characters so much, I was sad to see her moving on.  But, if there was ever any question (not by me, of course) as to whether or not her writing would be just as wonderful in her next series, it has been laid to rest.  The Chesapeake Valor series is full of captivating romance and suspense that keeps you on the edge of your seat.  If you haven’t read Cold Shot yet, go get it and pick up Still Life while you’re there!!

This series is set near Chesapeake Bay; Still Life, specifically in Baltimore, Maryland.  I’m really enjoying learning more of this area since I’ve never been there and don’t remember reading much else set nearby.

Parker is a crime-scene analyst.  He previously hired Avery as his crime-scene photographer and her life has never been the same.  At the start of this book, they haven’t seen each other in six months.  Out of necessity she calls on Parker…and that’s where this fabulous story begins.  The relationship between Parker and Avery exhibits the true love of putting the best interest of someone else ahead of your own interests…even if it does prove to be a bit misguided.  I loved the depth of Parker and Avery’s characters.  I loved the spiritual threads of forgiveness and continual communication with God in this book.

The twists and turns in the story line of Still Life keeps you on your toes.  Suspenseful movies often have me hiding in the hallway or at least standing at the back of the room.  This book had me a little jumpy and I even had to put the book down at one point to prepare myself for what I thought was going to happen.

If you enjoy romantic suspense, this series is for you!  These books can be read as stand-alones, but why would you want to?  Haha…I’m a stickler for reading my books in order because I love the added layer of familiarity with the other characters and past experiences when you do.  Either way…in order or not, be sure to pick up Cold Shot and Still Life!  You won’t be disappointed!

Sabotaged by Dani Pettrey (And…My 1st Giveaway)

It has been too long since I’ve reviewed a book on my blog, but with the final book in Dani Pettrey’s Alaskan Courage Series out, I had to come out of hibernation to tell you all about it.  (Well, not … Continue reading

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Unspoken by Dee Henderson

Maybe I ought to preface this review with the confession that I may be a tad biased.  You see, Dee Henderson is my all-time favorite author.  I have never read a book by her that I didn’t LOVE.  And since this is my first blog post for one of her books, I can’t help but tell you why I LOVE her so much! 

**  I love the way she writes. 

**I love the way she develops her characters. 

**I love the way her characters instantly matter to you – they become “real” to you and you care for them and their family as much as you care for your own. 

**I love the unique way that her characters continue to re-appear in other books, often more than just in passing. 

**I love that she doesn’t shy away from difficult topics and circumstances. 

**I love the reality of her stories. 

**I love the “real” problems that people face and the “real” way she brings it around to conclusion. 

**I love most of all her love of God and the way she brings a relationship with Him to life in each book. 

**I love the way she tackles difficult and real reasons that people choose not to, or can’t bring themselves to believe in God, and yet she takes the time to share with and bring each around to an understanding of who God is and who He wants to be in their lives. 

Dee Henderson captures my heart in every book.  I have never read a book by Dee that didn’t have an impact on my life and leave me wanting to read more, know the characters better and draw closer to Jesus.  I know I could go on and on and on, but this is supposed to be a review about a specific book.  Guess I’ll get to it. 

Due to some changes in publishing matters, Dee Henderson took a break from writing.  Much to her faithful fans delight, Full Disclosure which released October, 2012, was the break of her six years of quiet.  Full Disclosure and Unspoken are not “officially” considered a series, but may I strongly suggest that you read Full Disclosure prior to opening Unspoken?  If you’ve read my other reviews, you will remember that I am a stickler for reading books in order.  You get to know people in Full Disclosure who are also prominent characters in Unspoken.  Although you can read Unspoken as a standalone, knowing the stories of these characters will create a much richer reading experience.

I joined and have enjoyed being a part of a couple of Facebook reading groups.  A comment that I read on one of these group boards about Unspoken shortly after it released indicated that this book was slower than other Dee Henderson books.  Reading that comment, prior to reading the book myself, gave me pause.  I took it as possibly negative.  Having now read the book, I must say that I agree.  It was a little slower – although when I think about it, I feel the same way about Full Disclosure.  I have discovered however that the pace is one of my favorite parts of these two books.  I feel that the slower pace, without changing the suspenseful story line, allows for deeper connections with the characters.  It also lends to a deeper spiritual emphasis – deeper in that it tackles some real tough reasons to disbelieve or be questioning one’s faith.  Dee doesn’t gloss over someone’s real struggles in believing in or trusting God.   God has blessed her with the ability to meet even the toughest reasons of disbelief, ones that when explained, even a strong believer can’t find a good way to refute, with humble love and grace.  This leads to a real understanding of who God is.  I grew up in church and accepted Christ as my personal Savior at a young age, so I have no personal concept of how one could not believe that.  Dee Henderson has been one of the biggest influences in helping me see from other’s perspectives, in helping me understand why it’s not as easy for everyone.  She demonstrates how to love others to Jesus.  It’s an amazing gift that she has and I can’t describe it adequately.

Another favorite aspect of Dee’s books, which Unspoken illustrates very well, is the way her characters re-appear.  I absolutely love the unique way that she has of interlacing her characters.  Characters from her first books appear in Full Disclosure!  I loved hearing from some of them after so many years!  It’s just as exciting to see that characters from Full Disclosure have prominent roles in Unspoken.  I love that Dee’s characters aren’t locked up in their own books, but they travel from book to book and we get to see their relationships grow as well.  We get to know them and we get to revisit them.  It’s very unique.  I don’t know of another author that does this as well as Dee does.  (I love that she’s been mentoring Dani Pettrey in how to do this though!!)

I adored the gentle romance of this book.  I feel that the patience and constancy of Bryce’s character exemplifies Christ’s romancing of us – He is endlessly patient with us and is constantly there waiting for us to turn to Him.

I have other favorite things to share, but since I don’t want any spoilers in this review, I’m going to end.  I will however end with the wonderfully exciting news that we don’t have to wait another whole year for the next one…only half a year.  Undetected will hit the shelves in May, 2014.  And from the little that I was able to gather so far on her website, it appears that one of the characters for Undetected is related to one of the characters in Unspoken!!  LOVE it!!!  I’m so excited.

May 2014 is going to be an amazing month…a new Dee Henderson book AND a new Dani Pettrey book!!