Inside Threat

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Title: Inside Threat
Author: Jason Elam and Steve Yohn
Series: Riley Covington Thriller
Number: 4
Publisher: Tyndale
Pages: 390
Released: June 28, 2011

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Linebacker Riley Covington has decided to go back to football after two seasons away fighting terrorism. His football days come to an abrupt halt when Riley creates a debacle and is suspended until he gets tested for PTSD, something he refuses to do.
When a terrorist attack puts him, his friends, and the woman he loves, Khadijah Faroughi, in danger, Riley tries everything he can to help out and save Khadi from the grips of Islamic terrorists.
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I learned a lot of things during the course of this book. I learned that if you get two men together to write a book, you’re going to get one of the best suspense books ever. I also learned that you should expect a long drawn out romance that could go either way.
Another thing I learned about was the Muslim religion. This book delved deeper into the ideals and the rituals of Muslims, not just Islamic extremists, than I’ve ever seen before. I loved the new perspective it gave the story and how it enhanced the experience of reading it. The Muslim extremists depicted in this story aren’t your average Arabian Muslim radicals, no, these guys are homegrown Americans. They just happen to be Americans with a grudge against what was dealt to them.
The story progresses at a nice pace. It builds tension before it gets to the heart of the terrorists plot. Once it gets into the main storyline, the story picks up and never let’s up. It leaves knots the size of softballs in your stomach making it impossible to stop reading to even take a sip of water. I finished the second half of this book in five hours, which says something about the intensity of the storyline.
I did notice that once the progressed to the point-of-no-return for the reader, the gore increased as well. In fact, in some areas it’s so descriptive it makes you sick to your stomach because you can see it clearly in your head. That, tough, only adds to the tension and the reality that was painted by the authors.
I did not, however, like the ending. To tell the truth, the ending destroyed what would normally be a fantastic book. The authors crossed a lime that no author should ever cross. EVER. I thought of several different scenarios that turned out much better and didn’t cross the line.
The ending, though terrible, did have some good from it. But I won’t get into that. The real thing that the ending portrayed was a realistic ending. If this had happened in real life the end would have most likely been similar. But that doesn’t make the bitter horse pill any easier to swallow.
I actually hated the ending so much I can’t even recommend this to anyone unless you like sad endings and crushing disappointment. It ruined my opinion of this book so badly that I will never read this book again, even if I stop right before the ending. I give it two out of five.

I received this book free from the publisher, Tyndale, in exchange for this honest review. All opinions expressed are mine alone.

The Baby’s Bodyguard

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Title: The Baby’s Bodyguard
Author: Stephanie Newton
Publisher: Harlequin/ Love Inspired
Pages: 224
Released: August 2, 2011

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When an anonymous text message leads Ethan Clark to find what is presumed to be an abandoned boat, he finds an unlikely passenger; an infant girl. He has no idea how she got there or where she came from.
When Ethan hands over Janie Doe to Kelsey Rogers, a child services worker, he thinks his job is over. That is until they find out that Janie is a kidnap victim and may lead them to many other children who have been stolen from their rightful parents. Leaving Kelsey and Ethan to find out why everything is happening and how to stop it.
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The thing with Love Inspired books is that they’re short, always under 250 pages, which leaves the author with very little time to get the story going and going nicely. Stephanie Newton got one of those down. She got the story going quickly but not necessarily nicely. You started feeling like this was going to be a reasonably good book then your opinions change as the book quickly goes downhill and crashes around your ankles.
I think if this book had had another 100 or 150 pages it would have turned out so much better than it did. The author seemed crunched on space and priorities in this story. I would have loved to see what this author could’ve done with a lot more pages. I can’t tell her ability in other books because, sadly, I’ve not read any of her books except this one.
Another thing I found lacking in this book was the supposed romance between Ethan and Kelsey. I say supposed because the romance is just shy of nonexistent and just plain disappointing.
One thing I can’t deny, though, is that within the small window of space that Stephanie Newton had, she made some believable character development, though I still don’t know what fully happened to Kelsey’s village. Maybe it’s because I missed something, but I think that it was just never fully explained and that leaves a giant gaping hole in what would normally be well thought out characters.
The storyline is a tad unbelievable. Janie is the key to it all. A baby, with a heart condition that they know next to nothing about, is the key to stopping all the children and mothers from being separated. Also, it was way too easy. I can’t give anything away, but if you decide to read this book I think you’ll agree and know exactly what I’m talking about when I say it was just too easy. The ease is what is the real disappointment in this story.
Disappointing is all I can really say about this book. I picked it because of the cover. You see a guy partially shielding an infant from some unknown enemy and giving a good glare in the process, but instead of a book that is equal to the cover I got a book who’s cover smoked the book and no one enjoys finding out the book with the killer cover has a dud story attached.
I can’t really really recommend this to anyone but a beginner in either romance or suspense because seasoned readers will be disappointed by this book that isn’t really either. I give it two out of five.

I received this book free from Harlequin and NetGalley in exchange for this review

A Pearl in the Sand

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Title: A Pearl in the Sand
Author: Tessa Afshar
Publisher: Moody
Pages: 320
Released: September 1, 2010

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After being forced into prostitution at fifteen by her father to keep her family alive, Rahab finds to Hebrew spies about ready to be caught. She offers them a place to stay at her inn despite the fact that her life will be in jeopardy as much as theirs. Due to her help, the Hebrew spies make it out of Jericho alive and offer her immunity from the disaster they all know will happen.
The last thing Salmone wants is a Jericho zonah and her family in Judah, let alone in his care. But Salmone’s opinion soon changes when he sees how much Rahab wants to know about God. He soon starts to fall in love with and her him, but can they overcome her past or will it be the destruction of everything?
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The beginning of this tale is incredible. You can feel Rahab’s pain through the pages. A fifteen year old girl forced into this life from a father she thought loved her, then after, the fact that she cried after every encounter and felt overwhelming shame over what she just did. That’s what draws you into this book; Rahab’s pain.
But there is one thing that amazed me in this book. After hearing from her lover about the Hebrews, their magnificent defeats, and most importantly their God, she decides that this God does more for his followers than Baal and Molech ever did and starts to follow the Hebrew God. That is the starting point for this story.
Because this story is originally a bible story, I always look for whether or not the author changed anything in the major story. In this novel the biblical story came at the beginning and I have to say other then language changes to make it more understandable for the reader, this story is almost exactly like the bible story. In fact you could read them side by side and never know the difference.
In fact, the book pretty much stays that way until about the time that Rahab and her family go to the Hebrew camp. With this the author deviates from the bible and starts the romance taking liberties, but I can honestly say that I don’t mind at all.
The book, however, lags about halfway through the storyline. It’s not gritty and heart wrenching like the beginning or the end. It’s not a bad segment, it’s just not a good one. It’s not a segment that turns you off it’s just not a part that draws you in to devour more.
Tessa Afshar is a wonderful author. This book is her debut and I enjoyed it a lot more than I thought I would. She truly has a gift from God in this department. She has a way of making places come alive in your head with just a few words and she took a classic biblical story and made it into a romance for a debut novel nonetheless.
The lagging center part is the only part I didn’t care much for in this book and been through that this book still went past my expectations and rose above others to be a contender for on of my favorite debut novels. This book is great for the romantic in all of us or someone who just likes to see bible stories recreated.
I give this book four out of five.

I was given this book free from NetGalley and Moody Publishing in exchange for this honest review. All opinions expressed are my own.

A Heart Revealed

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Title: A Heart Revealed
Author: Julie Lessman
Publisher: Revell
Series: Winds of Change
Book: 2
Pages: 512
Released: September 1, 2011

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Eleven years ago Emma Malloy fled with Charity O’Connor to Boston from her abusive husband after he poured hot grease onto her face, causing her face to become disfigured. Now Emma runs Charity and Mitch’s store, Dennehy’s, while being surrounded by friends who love her like family, resigned to living her life alone.
Sean O’Connor is determined to live the life of a bachelor forever due to a past that’s certainly not a shade of white. But when Sean finds himself working side by side Emma, he finds a growing attraction for her he never knew possible. If only she weren’t married. Will their love be able to grow or will they have to kill it in order to keep their love pure?
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Julie Lessman has been a favorite of mine since her very first book, A Passion Most Pure. I fell in love with the O’Connor family and the love that just surrounds them. After a long nine months, Julie again rekindled my love for one of my favorite fictional families and left me craving more.
Julie’s writing has become better and better with each book. The first series was fantastic and this series is no different, but you see Julie differ slightly from her first books in one area, passion. Passion is what Julie is known for and it seems that Julie is testing different amounts of passion with these new books. The first, A Hope Undaunted, focused more on the couple than the attraction, while this book has more passionate scenes it still doesn’t have as many as the first series. Which isn’t all together unpleasant, in fact this story, versus the first in this series, thrives on less passion between the main couple, whereas A Hope Undaunted it was missed greatly.
Besides passion and physical attraction, this book also has a great plot with small side stories that you look forward to instead of dread. Though, the plot is a little predictable, there are some plot twists, but what else can you expect from a romance? You pick up the book knowing exactly how it’s going to end. But I think for a lot of people it’s not the ending, but the journey to get there that intrigues us. And Julie Lessman can certainly take you on a journey.
Throughout the course of seeing Sean and Emma’s relationship grow, there were really two things that that I kept asking myself: How was Emma going to get out of her marriage with Rory?, and Who was Steven going to fall in love with? Though I can’t tell you Rory and I don’t know if I’m allowed to tell Steven, I’ll tell you this, the Rory problem is solved very shockingly and whoever you think is going to fall in love with Steven probably isn’t right.
The twists and turns and emotions within this massive book keep me entertained for days. And is this a massive book, at 512 pages who pick it up and wonder why there are so many pages and whether or not every page is needed. Let me assure you, they are. Julie Lessman utilizes every page of this story and this book would suffer without all 512 pages of this incredible and incredibly massive novel.
Like I said above, I’ve been a fan of Julie Lessman since the beginning and if this book is any indication, that’s not likely to change anytime soon. Her talent is a gift from God that she uses to weave tales that touch people’s lives and I can only pray that she is writing for years to come.
An extraordinary book, I would recommend this to any romance lover that likes their romances a little bit closer to the line of inappropriate for Christian fiction than is normal. I also have to give this book a five out of five for being so beautifully written.

I was given this book for free by Revell in exchange for this honest review. All opinions are mine alone.

The Prodigy Project

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Title: The Prodigy Project
Author: Doug Flanders, M. D.
Publisher: Prescott Publishing
Pages: 334
Date: 10/10/10
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Jon Gunderson, a forty year old father of nine, is a doctor and a spy. He is called to bring his family to China where someone is trying to make the ultimate biological weapon. The weapon is endogenous retroviruses, ancient viruses buried deep within our genetic code. They’re so specific that they can target one person or hundreds of people without having others affected.
So, when Jon Gunderson brings his family as a cover to stop this bio-weapons attempt, naturally things go wrong and Jon is forced to go head-to-head to rescue his family and family friends before things get way out of hand.
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Having read a lot of debut novels, I’ve learned not to expect much. Not because they’re all terrible or anything like that. Just that new authors don’t really know their strengths and weaknesses very well yet, so though the books aren’t disastrous, they’re not as good as they could be.
This book however is different. Doug Flanders is a great author for a debut book. I was in awe of how well this book was written and was glad it came in the mail as I began reading. I think it helps that he has twelve kids and a wife to proofread. In fact, without that astronomical amount of family members available, this book have been a total disaster.
This book has a lot going on in it, making it very difficult to successfully pull off and make believable. Though the amount of trouble the Gunderson family is put through is realistic, I’m not completely sure that the type of trouble was believable. But all I know is the Hollywood version of these stories and am not an expert in any means. However, Mr. Flanders made the slightly unbelievable storyline enjoyable and something completely plausible in real life.
The story however, doesn’t focus on the endogenous retroviruses as much as the back cover makes you believe. Which you don’t really notice until after you’ve flipped the last page. It’s not a bad thing that they’re not in there so much, I just wish that the back cover had advertised some of the other action moments in the book, because now I don’t know what to give away and what to keep a secret.
Like I said prior, Doug Flanders had over a dozen people giving constructive criticism and encouragement and I agree with him when he says that the book is better because of it. The book truly is a much better book because of his many children and their opinions.
Doug Flanders also draws on his 33 years as a physician to craft this medical thriller and it shows. Me wanting to be in the medical field, I learned a lot that I’m sure I’ll be able to use later.
There was a lot of science talk in the book that was mercifully defined to make it easier to read. Though, it was difficult to follow, it enhanced the experience of the book.
Overall, it’s not really a light read with the subject and the amount of action in the book. It is however perfect for a spy loving book or perfect for the action lover in all of us.
I give it four out of five.

This book was graciously given to me from Book Crash and Prescott Publishing for this honest review.

The Champion

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Title: The Champion

Author: Carla Capshaw

Series: Roman Series

Number:3

Publisher: Love Inspired

Pages: 288

Release Date: August 2, 2011

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Alexius of Iolcos is famous for two things, an undefeated record in the Coliseum and his less than chaste relationships with scores of women. This fact made his friend, Caros, make him promise to stay away from his beautiful cousin Tiberia the Younger. A promise he’s regretted making from the time he swore them because Tibi is the only woman in all of Rome that intrigues him like she does.

Tibi is known for her terrible reputation with men. After four engagements have gone sour, the last being because he wanted to “sample” her before the wedding and her fighting back, Tibi’s father has had enough. He’s going to send her to the temple to become the priestess of fertility, something she refuses to comply with. So she runs away to the home of Alexius, Ludus Maximus, hoping to find her cousins to take her away from her father’s wrath and punishment.

After hearing that Tibi is unsafe at her father’s house he agrees to let her stay for a while, but soon finds that he wishes that she would never leave. They both soon find themselves hoping that their relationship will somehow grow, even with the odds and people’s opinions, against them. They know that if they decided to marry their marriage wouldn’t be legal without her father’s consent and there is no way he will allow a gladiator to marry his daughter. So the question is can they find a way to live happily ever after or will their love have to die?

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It’s a very rare occasion for me to find a historical fiction book that is set in something other than the 19th century which, don’t get me wrong, are nice, but sometimes a girl needs a change. I found that in this book. Not only was the time change completely out of the norm, but the romance and whole plot was a refreshing difference. In fact, everything about this book is an about face from what the majority of books on the market are about. Just those facts, along with the fact that it was so well constructed, jump this book up into my favorites list.

Here’s another plus. Most of the time I find that the cover of the story either doesn’t properly convey the story and thus makes you pass up a extraordinary book because of a lackluster cover, or the book’s cover is the best part of the whole book leaving insurmountably disappointed at the end. this book, however, has a cover that is as equally good as the book and a book as great as the cover. Whoever decided that this cover was a keeper,whether the author or the publisher, deserves props for this fantastic cover. I’m so happy with it that I think I’ll start being less skeptical of the books with great covers and start giving them the benefit of the doubt.

Carla Capshaw not only chose to base her story in Rome but in AD 84 Rome, a time when being a Christian meant, if caught, you were thrown to the lions while everyone cheered- for the lion! A time when a father literally owned his daughters like a slavemaster owns slaves; he’s free to do as he pleases to them even if it means they end up dead. Hypocrisy abounds, gossip is the main conversational topic; this is the setting Ms. Capshaw chose for her book. As you can see, she definitely has a lot to work with, but that doesn’t mean that the book is written well or the items at the authors disposal are utilized; thankfully for the reader, this authorunderstood that and didn’t settle for a mediocre book. She utilized most, if not all, of the dangers and trials of living in ancient Rome.

Each character in this story has or had their own demons to face and conquer and each character begged to be noticed from one action to another, and boy were they noticed. Each character brings something unique to the table, even the extremely minor characters have different personalities and different outlooks at situations, though most feel the same about Alexius. characters whether loved or hated, are believable and their personalities are brought out at the time they are needed the most. Making them invaluable to those they support and to the reader as well.

The publisher of this book, Love Inspired, a division of Harlequin, leaves no question in the reader’s mind as to the main topic in their books, romance. The romance in this book is innocent despite Alexius’s rather womanizing reputation. The fact that Tibi is unspoiled and so innocent is a fantastic contrast to Alexius. Also, the fact that Alexius is determined to leave her that way makes you love him all the more. The romance basically consists of a few kisses, but mostly time spent alone getting to know each other instead of a lot of kissing that somehow develops into love.

In the end, this story captivated me,as you guys are able to tell as I finished it in around three days. It’s a light read with a hint of suspense that kept you turning the pages to the very end. It technically wasn’t enough to be classified as a suspense but it was just enough to put a monkey wrench in the perfectly fine love that was blooming. It was so much so that I literally couldn’t put it down and even when I did I thought about the plot long into the night. So unless you like sleep, I would recommend (okay tell you about till you read it) to you and hope you enjoy it as much as I have.

Overall, I have to say that this book is so nice that I don’t really have anything unkind to say about it. It’s perfect for a romance fanatic or someone who likes to read a book set in ancient times. That’s why I’m giving this book the highest rating since starting this blog. I give it a five out of five (shocking I know, but I enjoyed it that much).

I can honestly say that thanks is definitely in store for the lovely people at Netgalley and Harlequin/Love Inspired for this lovely book to read in exchange for this review.

Black Sea Affair

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Title: Black Sea Affair
Author: Don Brown
Publisher: Zondervan
Publication Date: May 13, 2008
Pages: 324
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Commander Peter Miranda and his submarine crew are on a dangerous, top secret mission, attack and destroy the civilian ship, Alexander Popovich, before it can use the stolen plutonium on Russian or American soil, all without starting World War 3. But not only that but they’re in the Black Sea, where if they’re spotted is an act of war.
When the ship has sunk and several factors prevent Pete and his crew from leaving the Black Sea, Pete is forced to surrender and go into the hands of the Russians. Where they put him on trial and JAG Officer Zack Brewer is called to defend the submariner skipper and crew.
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Though this book isn’t part of Don Brown’s first series, The Navy Justice Series, it has references and eludes to the previous three books, but thankfully, readers who happened to pick up this book without reading the others can’t really get too confused by previous events in previous stories.
The events in the previous books are touched upon but not really discussed. All that will happen would be the books would be slightly spoiled for a new reader. The events aren’t really discussed because it’s more important to advance this storyline not the last three.
Though Black Sea Affair follows in the classic Don Brown style, a military thriller that includes a JAG courtroom suspense, in this book the military thriller takes up most of the storyline and the courtroom drama only takes up a minuscule sliver at the end. Making you long for the major character that ties the stories together, Zack Brewer, to make more of an appearance and to take up more of the spotlight.
This book, however, never let me get bored with it. Don Brown integrates these highly suspenseful scenes that put your stomach in knots and making almost impossible to put down. His years as a JAG officer definitely help greatly in making these books as realistic as possible.
The characters were developed with stories and reasons for doing what they do and did. The characters all force you to make an opinion of them whether good or bad and makes you either pray for their victory of imminent defeat.
Honestly, this book is great. The idea is awesome and the plot, which may be unrealistic but I’m not in politics so I wouldn’t know, works together so well. I would have enjoyed it so much more if the author had never mentioned Zack Brewer and let his presence be a surprise to readers, because I found myself counting the seconds before he would make an appearance or even be mentioned when I should’ve just enjoyed the story.
I can only give this book three out of five due to the lack of Zack. The great storyline and strong characters saved this book from being a total dive (no pun intended). This great is perfect for men and possibly women who love the military and/or action books.

Thanks is in store to Zondervan for allowing me to be able to review this book.