Book Reviews

Double Trouble by Susan May Warren

My edition: Kindle Unlimited
Pages: 335
Series: PJ Sugar #2
Genre: Mystery, Christian, Romance
Published: Feb. 10, 2010
Rating: 2.5 stars

Synopsis:

With one solved case under her belt, PJ Sugar is ready to dive into her career as a private investigator. Or at least a PI’s “assistant” until she can prove herself to Jeremy Kane, her new boss. Suddenly PJ’s seeing crime everywhere. But is it just in her head, or can she trust her instincts? When she takes on her first official case—house-sitting for a witness in protective custody—Jeremy assures her there’s no danger involved. But it soon becomes clear that there is someone after the witness . . . and now they’re after PJ, too.

Review:

I didn’t mind the love triangle in the first book because it wasn’t a focal point and she wasn’t dating either hero. Now in this second book, I am not a fan.

The plot… Not a fan of that either. It was unrealistic at best. In the synopsis, as well as when the job is being described to PJ, it sounds like she is house-sitting for a woman in witness protection. But no, she has to impersonate this woman in which she has a like three-page interaction with her. This woman also has tattoos, which if you think about it would not work. Even though someone painted it on, people who really know tattoos can see the fake. She has a different style than PJ and different hair. She looks and acts nothing like PJ so it just isn’t the best to have PJ impersonate her.

I don’t know how I feel about Jeremy in this book. Boone in the first book didn’t feel fully flushed out which I didn’t mind because that gives the character growth in the next books. But in this book, I really didn’t like his character. I really didn’t like that PJ was in a relationship with Boone but still thought about Jeremy in certain ways at times. It felt slimy to read. It’s obvious from the first book that Jeremy will be the long-term love interest. Why have PJ date Boone? Why have Boone be serious enough to propose? It seemed like unnecessary drama that really didn’t do much for the plot.

I normally love the characters Susan creates but this book series doesn’t add up to her others. To be honest, if I read this series before the others, I wouldn’t give Susan another chance.

Though I will say the scene with Gabby in the rain hit me in the feels. That was a bit hard to read. I am going to read the third book because I do want to know what goes down with her and Jeremy. I just don’t think I am going to read it right away.

Book Reviews

Nothing but Trouble by Susan May Warren

My edition: Kindle Unlimited
Pages: 341
Series: PJ Sugar #1
Genre: Christian, Romance, Mystery
Published: Jan. 1, 2009
Rating: 3.5 stars

Synopsis:

It’s not fair to say that trouble happens every time PJ Sugar is around, but it feels that way when she returns to her home town, looking for a fresh start. Within a week, her former teacher is murdered and her best friend’s husband is arrested as the number-one suspect. Although the police detective investigating the murder—who also happens to be PJ’s former flame—is convinced it’s an open-and-shut case, PJ’s not so sure. She begins digging for clues in an effort to clear her friend’s husband and ends up reigniting old passions, uncovering an international conspiracy, and solving a murder along the way. She also discovers that maybe God can use a woman who never seems to get it right.

Review:

It’s safe to say that I only added this to my TBR because it’s Susan May Warren. She is my new favorite author. But it is also safe to say that after I read the blurb when I started to read it, I was skeptical about if I was going to like this story.

This turned out better than I thought. Even with the love triangle which wasn’t a full focus. Though if I had to choose, I say I’m team Jeremy. PJ is just returning to town after ten years of being gone. After reconnecting, her best friend’s husband is wanted for murder.

PJ has to figure out who the real killer is while dodging her ex and the new guy who seems to be getting under her skin. I absolutely loved both men but am a complete Jeremy fan. This was one of those books that I didn’t have to worry about law enforcement because it was a main aspect and there was only one thing I had a critical comment about. Other than that I have the second book and will pick that up soon.

Book Reviews

Take a Chance on Me by Susan May Warren

My edition: Kindle Unlimited
Pages: 394
Series: Christiansen Family #1
Genre: Romance, Christian Fiction
Published: Jan. 1, 2013
Rating: 4 stars

Synopsis:

Darek Christiansen is almost a dream bachelor—oldest son in the large Christiansen clan, heir to their historic Evergreen Lake Resort, and doting father. But he’s also wounded and angry since the tragic death of his wife, Felicity. No woman in Deep Haven dares come near.

New assistant county attorney Ivy Madison simply doesn’t know any better when she bids on Darek at the charity auction. Nor does she know that when she crafted a plea bargain three years ago to keep Jensen Atwood out of jail and in Deep Haven fulfilling community service, she was releasing the man responsible for Felicity’s death. All Ivy knows is that the Christiansens feel like the family she’s always longed for. And once she gets past Darek’s tough exterior, she finds a man she could spend the rest of her life with. Which scares her almost as much as Darek’s learning of her involvement in his wife’s case.

Caught between new love and old grudges, Darek must decide if he can set aside the past for a future with Ivy—a future more and more at risk as an approaching wildfire threatens to wipe out the Christiansen resort and Deep Haven itself.

Review:

Darek Christiansen, single father, ex hotshot, is now in Deep Haven helping his parents run Evergreen Resort. When his youngest brother, hockey star Owen, calls saying he can’t make it home to be auctioned off, Dare has to step in. Ivy is new to Deep Haven. She just wants to start over in a small town. A place where she feels like she can belong for the first time. On the first night she is in town she is invited to the VFW for a fundraiser for local first responders. When no one is bidding on Darek, she decides she will only to find out she bought the pariah of the town. Ever since Darek’s wife passed away his been angry. So their first interaction is not the best. But Darek redeems himself and takes her on a tour of the town. But it is interrupted when Darek gets a call from his mom. Later Dare runs into Ivy and invites her to his family get-together for the Fourth of July to redeem himself again.

Jensen is hated by most of the town after what happened between him and Felicity (Darek’s wife). Jensen had something to do with her death and he has to do three years of community service. If he doesn’t get his hours in, he will have to do the mandatory four-year prison time. Claire used to be friends with Jensen, Darek, and Felicity. But after Felicity’s death, she hasn’t really talked to either of the guys she spent so much time with in high school. Claire’s parents want more for her. Claire just wants to stay in Deep Haven. Jensen wants to complete his hours so he can leave the town and his mistakes behind.

Darek is another male MC from Warren that I love. Jensen was a good MC but I really like Darek more. I liked Ivy as well and I loved Claire. I do have the rest of the series and hope that these characters will make cameos in the upcoming books. I am so happy for the outcome for both Jensen and Darek.

Book Reviews

Cross Academy by Valicity Elaine

My edition: Kindle Unlimited
Pages: 428
Series: Cross Academy
Genre: Christian, Fantasy
Published: August 17, 2015
Rating: DNF

Synopsis:

Blessings are gifts from God. But when the spiritual realm cracks open and demons crawl forth in hordes, Blessings become the means of survival. Humanity needs supernatural weapons to fight this supernatural war, so Gifts of power are given to strong Tribes and Clans to help preserve the last of God’s Children.

That was over 700 years ago.

Today, Cross Academy trains those with exceptional blessings. Hunters of the Cross are the legends of old, fighting demons and darklings to keep the Four Regions safe. When a seemingly insignificant village is destroyed, the Cross goes to investigate. What they learn threatens to tip the balance of the Great Demon War … in favor of the demons.
Chaos unfolds over the Four Regions of the earth, and the refugees taken into the Academy are right at the center of it all.

Fox Fire is one of the rescued villagers who enters the Academy. She remembers the legends of her elders; how her ancestors fought the darklings using the Gift of the Flame. Now, those stories are nothing but myths. There hasn’t been a Sundancer born in the Fire Tribe in over 200 years. Until now. When the walls of Fox’s village come crashing down, Fox realizes the myths about the Fire Tribe might be more than children’s stories.

Enrolling in Cross Academy is her only way to get stronger, but she isn’t sure the schooling is worth it. She isn’t even sure she can survive the courses. But she doesn’t have a choice. Her best friend has been possessed by a powerful demon. Only God can save him now. But Cross Academy teaches students how to slay demons … Can Fox use her blessing to save him instead?

Review:

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Ephesians 6:12

This book is broken into three parts. Discernment disclaimer: Obviously due to the synopsis this deals with demons. This has gore in it. It also deals with other mature topics.

I didn’t finish this due to some issues. I will talk about them in this review.

To be fair- SPOILERS!!! If you plan on reading this book, do not read my review. Seriously I give away plot points and if you continue to read on it is not my fault you ruined the story for yourself.

PART I

Part one starts off following the children, more specifically Fox, Talon, and Roaring, of the Grand chief. They live in the Village of Wi. The Village has three rings. The outer ring has the poverty, the second ring has the merchant and the market, then the innermost ring has the Grand Chief and their family plus people of status. They are a matriarchal society. On the day Fox earns her knot, she wants to celebrate by going outside the Wall. She and her best friend KI are then attacked by a demon that took over a bear’s body. KI is hurt in the process and Fox kills her first demon. Talon is going to be the Grand Chief someday and I think she feels inadequate. She is close to her brother who is quiet and stand-offish. I’m quite unsure about their relationship. I don’t know if I am reading too much into this or if it’s written as if there might have been a ship between them. (Again I may be reading too much into this due to the fact that before I got saved I read books such as Game of Thrones and Flowers in the Attic. Both books have certain relationships that shouldn’t happen) But she feels lacking in comparison to her siblings. Roaring and Fox are amazing in combat while Cat the other sister is amazing with social occasions. Part one ends with the destruction of the village and Fox fighting for her best friend’s life. Roaring and Talon fought as well but we don’t know if anyone lived at the end of part one.

If you don’t like the color red, then you will not like any of the decorations for the Fire Tribe. Everywhere you look red, red, more red. What’s that? RED! For most of part one, I feel as if I wasn’t completely invested in any of the characters. Plus there was the relationship between Talon and Roaring I’m trying to figure out if my brain is reading too much into it. At the end of part one, I was shocked because I didn’t know whether or not the author really did what I think she did.

PART II

There was one chapter with Evelyn’s POV in part one but it’s towards the end and there isn’t too much information given besides he is a lieutenant from the Academy. He and his team were dispatched to take care of an ambush of demons. They end up following the giant demon at the end of part one. Evelyn and the Cross Academy saved two thousand from Wi including the Fire siblings. But Wi was cut off from the rest of the world. They are untrusting of anyone whom they deem as an outsider. Evelyn sits in with the interviews his second, Kotaro, and a priest, Izzy, conduct to gather further information on what happened to Wi.

Talon is questioned by Evelyn (who is at times referred to as Diaz) and the team. Through this interview, it is established that KI has been possessed by a demon since he came to Wi. Talon being only nine could tell something was not right with the boy. She then makes the decision (as a nine-year-old) to seal the demon because an exorcism would be too dangerous. It’s only hinted that Talon has an extraordinary gift that if she was properly trained she could have been a priest along with Izzy who is extraordinary by priest standards. When KI was attacked in part one, it broke the seal that Talon had placed which awoke the demon inside KI which then turned into a beacon drawing the demon horde to Wi.

The siblings are now in Babel where the Cross Academy is located. They are no idea about this world because Wi has been so isolated and closed off. Diaz even tells Talon that she was a bird in a cage and how he hopes in Babel she learns to fly. Talon and her sibling have to bury their parents and unfortunately, they are unable to go back to Wi to do the burials. At the end of part one, Roaring is discovered as a Sundancer who has the ability to bend fire. It’s hinted Fox is one because she wasn’t burned at the end of part one. During the burial, Fox notices the earth benders. There are also people who can bend air. Some people can heal themselves and others. (serious Avatar vibes) It doesn’t say bend. I am inputting that word in because I don’t know what else to call it.

Fox is asked by Diaz to join the Academy because he knows she is a Sundancer like her brother. Though Diaz would much rather have her brother. Fox agrees to it after she makes a deal to see KI. Fox also, learns of the Nine which has been discussed in chapters involving Diaz. The Nine are the top evil. Fox fought against one at the end of part one.

I am not a fan of Fox. She is quite protective of KI but I don’t buy their relationship. I don’t buy her feelings for him. I just don’t see it.

I ended up DNFing this due to not really connecting with the story. I wasn’t too big of a fan of the writing. There are too many small plot points going on and it felt like several stories combined into one. Too many MCs and at times I was confused about who I was reading in a chapter.

My final thoughts about the book are that it had amazing potential. There are a few things that are weird for me. The first would be when the chapter comes up it is named after the person whose POV is the main of that chapter. The reason I say that is because it’s sometimes hard to figure out who is the main POV if it wasn’t said. Also, with the chapters, Fox is the only one whose full name is the chapter. For Talon, it’s just Talon. For Roaring, it’s just Roaring. But for Fox, it’s Fox Fire. Why is her’s so different?

The second problem for me is sometimes the way Fox comes across is like she’s twelve or thirteen but she’s really sixteen. She just reads sometimes as younger than she is. I don’t know if that has to do with the cultural aspect the author intended for the Fire Tribe or if it’s just how the author wrote her. To me, she comes off as younger than she is.

If this focused on Fox Fire alone, I think I would have finished it in one day.

Book Reviews

Wild Montana Skies by Susan May Warren

My edition: Kindle Unlimited
Pages: 356
Series: Montana Rescue #1
Genre: Christian Fiction, Romance
Published: Oct. 1, 2016
Rating: 4 star

Synopsis:

The last thing Search and Rescue helicopter pilot Kacey Fairing needs upon returning home to Mercy Falls, Montana, is to run into her mistakes. After a devastating crash during her recent military tour in Afghanistan, she is emotionally broken but ready to start putting her life back together. She just wants to reconnect with her teenage daughter and spend the summer working as the new lead pilot of PEAK Rescue in Glacier National Park.

But her mistakes aren’t so easily forgotten. Because Ben King is also back in town.

Country music star Ben King abandoned his past when he moved to Nashville thirteen years ago to start his career. But when his father is injured, Ben is called home to help manage PEAK Rescue during his recovery. He doesn’t realize his father has ulterior motives until his old flame, Kacey, walks into his house and back into his heart.

Now, with Mercy Falls in a state of emergency due to flash floods, Kacey and Ben will have to work together to save lives. But when secrets are uncovered and old hurts rise to the surface, will they walk away again? Or can they find a different ending to their country love songs?

Review:

Kacey is back in Mercy Falls. She is trying to recover for the summer to see if she can go back into the armed forces to fly again. Kacey is hired on as a pilot for PEAK Rescue which is run by her ex-fiance’s father. Even worse, her ex is in town. What’s even worse is that she is face to face with the man that left her thirteen years ago.

Let me tell you, I love Kacey. She is an awesome heroine. She flew black hawks to do SAR missions and medevacs. She got a bronze star and is very humble about it. She puts her daughter first. Does she make a few mistakes that are kinda dumb? Yes. Hello, she can’t be a Mary Sue. But she is by far my favorite female character from Susan. Knox is still my number one, but Ben is a close second.

I remember this couple from the book Knox. We get a glimpse of them. But reading their story, I fell in love. They are so adorable when they’re not fighting the pull against each other. They are amazing parents to Audrey. I am telling you that I love this couple. I couldn’t get enough of these two. Can’t wait to see them in other books. The next book is Sam’s. I, unfortunately, don’t have the money to splurge on the rest of the series so I will have to wait.

Book Reviews

The Way of the Brave by Susan May Warren

My edition: Kindle Unlimited
Pages: 347
Series: Global Search and Rescue #1
Genre: Romance, Christian Fiction
Published: Jan 1, 2020
Rating: 3.5 stars

Synopsis:

Former pararescue jumper Orion Starr is haunted by the memory of a rescue gone wrong. He may be living alone in Alaska now, but the pain of his failure–and his injuries–has followed him there from Afghanistan. He has no desire to join Hamilton Jones’s elite rescue team, but he also can’t shirk his duty when the call comes in to rescue three lost climbers on Denali.

Former CIA profiler and psychiatrist Jenny Calhoun’s yearly extreme challenge with her best friends is her only escape from the guilt that has sunk its claws into her. As a consultant during a top-secret mission to root out the Taliban, she green-lighted an operation that ended in ambush and lives lost. When her cathartic climb on Denali turns deadly, she’ll be forced to trust her life and the lives of her friends to the most dangerous of heroes–the man she nearly killed.

Her skills and his experience are exactly what’s needed to prevent another tragedy–but in order to truly set Orion free from his painful past, Jenny will have to reveal hers. They’ll have to put their wounds behind them to survive, but at what cost?

Review:

Because love causes all sorts of pain. It requires us to believe, and forgive, and put aside our own justice and our own desires. Love is painful . . . especially when you think you might lose that love. Or cause hurt to someone you love. Or even be required to love someone who has hurt you.” He swallowed, his gaze casting out the door, toward intensive care. “But it’s worth it. Love changes you. Love makes you brave. Love can change the world.”

I have read Warren once before and I was completely in love with her male characters. They were very respectful and considerate. A big plus was that they knew what boundaries were, which most heroes don’t know or care about. So going into this I had the expectation of the male characters being dreamboats.

I have been in such a rut that nothing has been sounding good. Most of my reads lately haven’t been higher than a three-star. To be honest, I almost DNFed this book because of my rut. But I decided to persevere.

If you like second-chance romances this book is for you. But let it be known it is a slow burn. Jenny has been running from her past. Orion has been trying to heal from it. When a chance encounter brings them face to face for the first time in a few years, Jenny denies knowing who Orion is. Jenny and her friends make the climb up Denali while Orion and his friends are off climbing another mountain.

When a storm comes in and blows Jenny and her friends off the course, Orion and his friends come to the rescue. But there is one major problem. Orion doesn’t know that Jenny was the CIA agent who believed the informant that got a SEAL team and his PJ team ambushed.

There are at times POVs from Jake and Aria. I wasn’t a big fan of reading from Aria’s POV. I am not an expert or even a person who has knowledge of climbing mountains, so there was a copious amount of equipment and terminology I had to look up.

I didn’t like Orion and Jenny as much as I did Knox and Kelsey (from Knox). Though I kept waiting for the hammer to drop between the two. It took a while for Jenny to come clean to Orion about how their past was really connected and what happened after Afghanistan. Another reason, I think I didn’t like this one as much is due to my lack of knowledge when it comes to mountain climbing. I did like the romance. I did like the story for the most part. There were just certain parts that I had to stop and look up terminology or equipment to understand what was going on.

Orion, I thought wasn’t the best name for the hero, but then he gave the story he was named after the constellation. So, I let it go. With Jake and Aria, the romance had some flirting and kissing at bad timing which annoyed me. I really don’t know if I will continue with this series. While I have loved the other book I read from Susan, this one didn’t live up to the same expectation. Though there is a shout-out to Knox with the arena bombing.

Book Reviews

How Firm a Foundation: 365 Devotions from Genesis to Revelation for Help, Hope, and Strength by Our Daily Bread

My edition: Kindle (Netgalley requested)
Pages: 464
Standalone
Genre: Devotional, Christian, Non-fiction
Published: Sept. 6, 2022
Rating: 5 Star

Synopsis:

In a year of daily devotions, How Firm a Foundation carries you on a journey through the Bible, inviting you to read portions of each book and providing stopping points for you to dwell on familiar and unfamiliar passages. Each section of Scripture is introduced and explained with summaries and outlines, so you’ll better understand it and build on what you already know to construct a firmer base on which to build your life in Christ.

Review:

Thank you Netgalley for my copy of this book. I love the outline of this devotional. It’s not like others that I have read, due to the fact it gives you an actual bible study. It helps reflect on God’s Word. Each book is listed with a synopsis of the bible book along with an outline. The devotionals are also listed in parts. The parts are sectioned in what form the bible book falls under. Examples: The Prophets, Poetry, The Letters)

I highly recommend to those who are wanting a deep devotional for the year.

Book Reviews

War Room by Chris Farby

My edition: Kindle Unlimited
Pages: 404
Standalone
Genre: Christian, Faith, Prayer
Published: August 4, 2015
Rating: 5 star

Synopsis:

Prayer is a Powerful Weapon

Tony and Elizabeth Jordan have it all — great jobs, a beautiful daughter, and their dream house. But appearances can be deceiving. Their world is actually crumbling under the strain of a failing marriage. While Tony basks in his professional success and flirts with temptation, Elizabeth resigns herself to increasing bitterness. But their lives take an unexpected turn when Elizabeth meets her newest client, Miss Clara, a wise, older widow who challenges Elizabeth to start fighting for her family instead of fighting against her husband.
 From the award-winning creators of Fireproof and Courageous comes War Room, a compelling drama with humor and heart that explores the power that prayer can have over marriages, parenting, careers, friendships, and every other area of our lives.

Review:

Most people think ‘God helps those who help themselves’ is in the Bible. Listen, God helps those who have come to the end of themselves.

Oh my Lanta, this was a wild ride for me. I was crying for the MCs and the struggles they went through.

At the beginning of the book Elizabeth and Tony are married in the same house but it seems like they are worlds away. One day Elizabeth meets Clara who teaches her about her war room. From there Elizabeth becomes more serious and creates a war room of her own.

I loved this book!!! I can’t wait to sit and watch the movie. I love when Elizabeth takes a stand and fights for her family. I was cheering at that part! There is so much I want to talk about this book but I don’t want to ruin it. I highly recommend it! Excuse me, but I have a war room of my own to start.

A lot of people don’t pray because they don’t believe it works. But unfortunately it doesn’t work because we don’t really pray.”

Book Reviews

Voyage with the Vikings by Marianne Hering & Paul McCusker

My edition: Kindle Unlimited
Pages: 80
Series: Imagination Station #1
Genre: Children’s, Christian
Published: March 1, 2011
Rating: 4 stars

Synopsis:

Mr. Whittaker, a kind but mysterious inventor, has sent cousins Patrick and Beth to Greenland through the Imagination Station. It’s the year 1000, and they meet Viking Erik the Red, who is angry about the new God. Mr. Whittaker wants the cousins to find a Sunstone, but what does one look like? And what does it have to do with the mysterious letter found in the inventor’s workshop? Most important, can Patrick and Beth find a Sunstone before Erik’s son Leif sails away with the Imagination Station on board his ship?

Review:

There isn’t much that I can say about this but it was super cute. I liked it. It’s a Christian form of Magic Tree House. Instead of siblings, it’s cousins. Instead of a tree house, it is a machine that was made by Mr. Whittaker who owns Whit End. It’s a definite book series I will get for my son when he is old enough to read.

Book Reviews

A Convenient Engagement by Ashtyn Newbold

My edition: Kindle Unlimited
Pages: 184
Series: Brides of Brighton #1
Genre: Historical, Regency, Romance, Fake Fiance
Published: Oct. 20, 2018
Rating: 4

Synopsis:

A false engagement. A mysterious coast. Two reluctant hearts.

Much to her father’s dismay, Miss Amelia Buxton aspires to become a spinster, just like her eccentric aunt. Growing up with parents who married for every reason but love, she has never seen a joyful marriage. When Amelia requests a summer trip to the legendary waters of Brighton, her father allows her the excursion, but with one requirement: she must return engaged, or agree to the proposal of the man of his choosing.

Crawling with tourists, Brighton is not the town Adam Claridge once loved. When his sister Eleanor disappears without warning, Adam is desperate to bring her home. In his search, he happens upon Miss Amelia Buxton, a young tourist that proves vital in his search for Eleanor. But Amelia is conducting a search of her own—a search for a husband—and Adam has little choice but to offer a fair trade: he will play the role of Amelia’s betrothed in exchange for her assistance in finding Eleanor.

Convenient at first, Amelia and Adam’s arrangement quickly plummets into disarray. Falling in love had not been part of their bargain.

A Convenient Engagement is a sweet and clean regency romance novel.

Review:

Amelia is from Nottingham. Her father is overbearing while her aunt is free. In order to go to Brighton, Amelia makes a deal with her father. She will return engaged or she will marry the man her father picked.

Amelia goes to Brighton with her Aunt Margeret and a maid named Fanny. They have a run-in with Adam on the beach. A man whose sister is missing and his father is ill. Quickly Amelia agrees to help Adam in finding his sister, while Adam agrees to be Amelia’s fake fiance.

What is one thing I love about historical romances? The flirting. I enjoyed Amelia’s sarcastic insults as well. We have lost such good language when it comes to insults and flirting nowadays. Plus what happened to the courtship? Dating is overrated. If I wasn’t married, I’d make a man court me. Also, I wouldn’t mind dressing in regency clothes.

I did find in the author’s note that she was inspired by the real-life dipper Martha Gunn. I did not know that Brighton at one point in history was known for a cure in its waters. I loved finding out about that. I do plan on moving forward with this series. I have a few more books to read but I will love to return for a visit to the Brighton waters in the near future.