Saturday, June 28, 2014

Critical Condition - Richard L. Mabry, M.D.

Shannon Frasier has spent 10 years trying to overcome the tragedy of her almost-fiance dying in her arms after a gunshot.  Now, on her front lawn, another man dies in her arms, leaving a cryptic message and a trail of danger to her door.  While Shannon works through the ramifications on her emotions from this event, her sister calls on her for help, her parents battle bad news, and suddenly she's no longer who she can turn to to keep her life in order.

There were a few strong points to this story line - I appreciated Shannon's boyfriend Mark's attempts to draw Shannon back to God, but without pushing her too hard, or trying to manipulate her into dependence on him for her welfare, spiritual or physical.  Shannon's own need to work through her past and how it affected her present was honest and I appreciated her realization of her own weaknesses.  However. the rest of the book felt very scattered.  There were so many tangents and extra characters that they couldn't possibly be all tied together.  The book tried to cover Shannon's past, her family, her career, her sister, her relationships, and her faith, and it was just too much for one book to handle.  Every scene should move a story along in some way, whether directly tied to the plot line, or serving to give development to a character.  This book had too many extraneous scenes to flow well, and the resulting impression was of bits and pieces that had no bearing on the story.

I give this book 2 stars.  I felt too disconnected from the characters, due to the scattered story pieces, to really feel drawn into the book.

You can find Critical Condition HERE.
You can find the author's website HERE.

I received a copy of this book from Thomas Nelson, as part of their BookLook Bloggers program, in exchange for my honest review.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Undetected - Dee Henderson

Commander Mark Bishop is one of only a few people in the world with the particular power he holds - the command of a ballistic missile submarine.  His job is tough, but he carries the responsibility well, and is respected by those under his command.  Gina Gray is the sister of one of Mark's friends and fellow submarine captain Jeff, and she's profoundly gifted.  She could have studied anything, but with her brother in the Navy, she has turned to researching ways to improve submarine defenses and capabilities, and she has turned everything the Navy knows upside down.  Riding the two-edged sword of making our own submarine's capabilities stronger, while knowing that some day other countries may use that knowledge against us, Gina needs someone to protect her while encouraging her gifts and discoveries.

I typically enjoy Dee Henderson's novels, and I especially enjoy her military ones.  This was no exception; well-written, thrilling, and just enough romance that you can see coming, but isn't the focus of the story, so it fits in nicely.  I have no military background, so I can't speak to her authenticity regarding military matters, but it certainly feels respectful and honoring of those who serve.  I love the handling of Gina's gift, and how those who are meant to be in her life don't feel threatened by her success, but encourage her to use what God has given her and led her to discover.

When I finished this book, I found that it was the third in a series, and I quickly rushed to find the others.  Turns out I had already read (and reviewed) the first: Full Disclosure, and I loved the second: Unspoken. I definitely recommend reading them in order (And Full Disclosure makes the most sense if you've already read the O'Malley series.)  I also REALLY hope this series continues - I want to read about the 3rd brother!

I give this book 4 stars.  I loved the action, I loved the characters, and I enjoyed filling in the story by going back and reading the missing book in the series.

You can find Undetected HERE.
You can find Dee Henderson's website HERE. (Although it is a rather bare bones site, I can attest that if you request bookmarks, you receive them quickly!)

I received a copy of this e-book from the publisher, via NetGalley, in exchange for my honest review.

Waters Fall - Becky Doughty

Jake and Nora do not have a perfect marriage; Nora wants Jake to step it up in providing for their family, and Jake feels discouraged by Nora's lack of respect and his own failure to get his business off the ground.  However, they're trying to make it work and sticking together, until the night Jake turns up drunk after 10 years of sobriety, and alludes to an incident with a waitress.  Everything begins to spiral down from there on both their parts, until they're not sure there's any common ground left to stand on.  Nor are they sure they want to find any.

This is not an easy book to read.  While it's vulnerable, and honest, and probably far too realistic, Jake and Nora each choose paths that you would not expect to read about in detail in a Christian fiction book.  With that fair warning, the book does an admirable job of drawing each of them through their own choices and failures until they realize what has happened to them, and they get to the place where they need to decide whether to continue to lean on themselves, each other, or God, and to see where that final choice leads them. I like that the plot took the characters to counseling, but showed that counseling is not a fix-all.  They had to work through their own messes and decide to be fixed.

I'm not sure how to rate this book; it was well-written, but I don't know that there are many folks I would recommend it to, due to detailed affair plot line.  True grace requires a real fall, and there is plenty of both in this book. I'll give it 3 stars - it's rare to find a book that delves into the sinful choices we make with no excuses, but I fear there's a line that this book may have crossed to get there.

You can find Waters Fall HERE.
You can find the author's website HERE.

I received a copy of this e-book from the publisher, via NetGalley, in exchange for my honest review.

Here to Stay - Melissa Tagg

In a plot reminiscent of It's a Wonderful Life, Autumn Kingsley has ended up stuck in her small town of Whisper Shore, taking care of the inn that's been in her family for generations, temporarily giving up her dream of traveling and living in Paris.  Now, she has a job offer in Paris, but with the town's tourism failing, what's to become of the inn and its employees?  Feeling the responsibility to the town and to the inn, Autumn works to rejuvenate the town's charm by teaming up with Blake Hunziker, the youngest son of the family who has continued to war with the Kingsleys since the death of the elder Hunziker son.  Not only her family's enemy, but their direct competitor, Blake and Autumn are now co-chairs of the town's Christmas festival, in an effort to bring the town back to life.  Also, in another attempt to save her inn, Autumn has learned that a known investor in a large hotel chain has reserved a room at her in, and she hopes that this is the open door she and her staff need.  Can Blake and Autumn let the past be past and work together to help the town?  Can Autumn find a way to preserve her family's legacy in the hotel, and still live her dream?

Between the Jimmy Stewart dream plot, and the small town that felt eerily similar to Star's Hollow, (including the single innkeeper and her chef friend, the quirky hotel desk staff, and the rugged handyman, but missing the teenage pregnancy), this story didn't exactly feel original.  Add to that the predictable twists of secrets kept turning out badly, and it should have felt tired.  However, Autumn and Blake were enjoyable characters, and the Hatfield and McCoy aspect to their relationship made it a bit more interesting.  I happen to like the town of Stars Hollow, and It's a Wonderful Life, so the similarities didn't bother me much.

I give the book 3 stars.  It was a fun romance, perfect for easy summer reading.

You can find Here to Stay HERE.
You can find the author's website HERE.

I was given a copy of this e-book, courtesy of the publisher via NetGalley, in exchange for my honest review.