Lynette Eason’s “Crossfire” ~ a Revell Reads Review

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Revell Reads sent me a copy of the newest Lynette Eason book in the “Extreme Measures” series: Crossfire. If you’re a fan of strong female characters and suspense reads, you will want to check out this book!

About Crossfire

The FBI. SWAT teams. Hostage situations. And the approaching 15th anniversary of a terrible event from Julianna’s past; one that still gives her nightmares.

She’s able to sort of bury the memories all the rest of the time. But in the days approaching the anniversary of the school shooting when she was a student, the memories refuse to be buried.

Julianna is a top-notch FBI special agent and negotiator. In fact, she hasn’t lost a hostage yet. But she’s about to be involved in negotiating for hostages in a cascade series of crimes. First, in a courtroom where not only the judge but the jury and some marshals are taken captive. While she’s working that assignment, she meets Clay Fox, whose sister is one of the hostages. Clay is a former army sniper, and while he’s exceptionally competent at his job as a school resource officer, he’s got pain and secrets of his own.

But when Clay sees Julianna in action, he is a bit…smitten. Slowly they become friends. And coincidentally, Julianna’s sister Dottie is a student at Clay’s high school.

But the cascade of hostage situations is beginning. There are some terrible ones. And the perpetrator is asking for Julianna as a negotiator by name. He, or she, is escalating. And those that Julianna loves the most might become the next targets.

My thoughts

Whew!

Once again, Lynette Eason has crafted a highly readable thriller with appealing and even vulnerable (at times) characters. She unfolds Julianna’s story in a fascinating way, even as a sweet romance might be developing between the special agent and Clay. They do have a lot in common, after all, beginning with their careers. They also have unhealed pain from the past that suddenly impacts their present.

I enjoyed seeing Julianna’s work as a hostage negotiator. (Not that I’d ever want to see that in person!) She is measured and effective, and readers will totally root for her. Eason also illustrates that dealing with past pain (or not dealing with it) really does impact the current day.

Crossfire is a great read. You will love it if you’re a fan of suspense thrillers with a bit of clean romance and a lot of mystery; intersecting with faith. I recommend it!

Enjoy! –Wren

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from Revell Reads. All opinions expressed here are my own.

Fantastic new cyber-suspense novel: Elizabeth Goddard’s “Critical Alliance” (a Revell Reads review)

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I DO love a great suspense book–with a little romance! Elizabeth Goddard’s newest, book 3 in the Rocky Mountain Courage series, has all of that and more. Revell Reads was kind enough to send me a copy of this wonderful book. And I won’t be giving anything away–except how fantastic it was–if I tell you I read it all in one day!

Okay. I have to give a LITTLE away…to let you know why you’ll want to read this.

About Critical Alliance

Years ago, bright and talented Mackenzie Hanson wandered a little too far into the hacking world…and negatively altered her potential future (and her family relationships) as a result. She was able to recover to a degree, and managed to create a career as a university professor, teaching cybersecurity. (Having broken the law when she was a juvenile enabled her court records to be sealed.) But when she spots her former fellow hacker Julian, who hands her a mysterious card–just before a terrible accident–at a carnival while on a date with a fellow faculty member, her professional life suddenly didn’t seem to matter that much. All Mackenzie wanted was to get home to Montana to see her family. Even though that family sort of informally disowned her when she made her foray into illegal activities.

But when Mackenzie makes it home, she has some terrible discoveries to make, about her family and her family business. Now not only Hanstech, founded by her deceased father, is under attack; but she and her siblings are as well. Will Mackenzie’s exceptional hacking skills save Hanstech in time; or could they target her in the eyes of the feds? Or, worse, expose her to the deadly person behind the attacks? Diplomatic Security Services agent Alex Knight, who’s on mandated “vacation” following an op gone bad, might be Mackenzie’s only hope. If even he can help her.

Drones. Hackers. A broken family. And danger. Maybe even the brightest and strongest won’t be able to overcome these.

My thoughts

Well–I told you earlier that I read Critical Alliance in one day!

I am a huge fan of police procedurals and thrillers. And Elizabeth Goddard captivated me immediately with her slightly flawed hacker turned college professor Mackenzie. A woman who’d made an enormous series of mistakes as a teen admitted her errors, turned over evidence to the FBI, and sought to redeem herself. Only to be rejected by the siblings I’m sure she’d hoped would support her on her new road. So alone, except for God and her faith, she crafted a different future. Yet Mackenzie’s love for her family caused her to run back home immediately to help them when she discovered they were in danger.

And then, there’s Alex. The sparks of attraction between the former hacker and the special agent are enormous. But Alex has mistakes–grave ones–in his own past. I loved seeing how he puts Mackenzie’s safety above his attraction to her, and how he drops everything to help her and try to keep her alive.

The combination of cybersecurity, video-gaming, drones, and people who may or may not be who you think they are kept me turning page after page as quickly as I could. The only thing I’m sorry about after finishing Critical Alliance is that it is the last book in a series of three!

Pick up a copy of Critical Alliance for yourself. You’ll love Mackenzie and Alex; and then, like me, you’ll want to grab books 1 & 2 of the Rocky Mountain Courage series. (Just FYI: they’re called Present Danger and Deadly Target. And you’ll meet some of their characters in Critical Alliance!)

Enjoy! –Wren

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from Revell Reads. All opinions are my own.

“Fatal Code” by Natalie Walters ~ a Revell Reads review

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Since I loved Natalie Walters’ Lights Out, I was very excited to have the opportunity to review her second book in The SNAP Agency series, Fatal Code. I received a copy of this book from Revell Reads, and I can’t wait to tell you about it!

About Fatal Code

In Fatal Code, the SNAP team from Lights Out returns with a brand-new case to work. The Strategic Neutralization and Protection agency is composed of team leader Jack Hudson, and specialists Kekoa Young (cryptologist and hacker), Lyla Fox (expert marksman, and politics/technology) , and Nicolás Garcia (former Special Forces and weapons/explosives expert). The team liaises with various 3-letter government agencies on special projects. And the newest involves the attractive neighbor from Kekoa’s building.

Elinor Mitchell works for a government contractor, Lepley Dynamics, on a special project named Van Gogh. The SNAP team has been hired by Lepley because they’re concerned that one of their employees is selling secret project information to the Russians–or another player. All evidence points to Elinor, but Kekoa is convinced that there is no way that she would betray her company, or her country, in that way.

It’s also a bit uncomfortable for Kekoa, because he has been hoping to get to know Elinor personally. And now he has to investigate her–personally. There is no way that that is going to go well.

But someone else is after Elinor. They’re certain that she possesses technology and codes from her deceased and beloved grandfather–who used to work at Los Alamos. And they have no compuction against torture or murder.

My thoughts

I was delighted to get to revisit the SNAP team on a new adventure! Kekoa is a fun and fascinating character. He has his own mysterious backstory, with an event that has separated him from his family in Hawaii. He’s the very best at computers and code-breaking (not to mention surfing and finding the best Hawaiian food in D.C.). He’s not convinced that he is that great at out-of-the-office operations, though. And he really, really doesn’t want to pretend to be someone other than he is with Elinor. Neither of those keeps him from being assigned those roles.

Elinor is a fascinating, intelligent woman. She’s bright and loving even as she is dealing with family issues; her parents left her in the U.S. as a child while they moved to Africa to do conservation work, leaving her practically an orphan. If it hadn’t been for her beloved grandfather, she’d have lived bereft of love and kindness. But he showed her, by his presence and his own faith, that she had a God who loved her and had wonderful plans for her.

I so enjoyed both the main characters in this book. Walters gives both Kekoa and Elinor backstories that add interest and compassion in readers. (Plus–there’s always that hope that they might just get together…or maybe they won’t.) I also love a good spy story. And this one is fantastic, with its tie-ins to international espionage and the nuclear research at Los Alamos. (Not to mention one of my favorite Smithsonian museums.)

Don’t miss Natalie Walters’ fantastic Fatal Code. I absolutely could not put it down; I read it in ONE day! It is a fantastic follow-up to Lights Out (which you will also want to read–either before or after Fatal Code). I’m also excited that there will be a third book in The SNAP Agency series. Sooner rather than later, I hope!

Enjoy! –Wren

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from Revell Reads. All opinions expressed here are my own.

“All That Fills Us” by Autumn Lytle ~ a Revell Reads Review

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I just finished one of the most interesting books I’ve read this year. It’s Autumn Lytle’s All That Fills Us, and it is truly remarkable and unusual. Revell Reads sent me a copy to read; and it is a pleasure to share my thoughts about it, and its author, with you.

About All That Fills Us

Mel Ellis felt as though she had it all in college. The perfect major, the perfect boyfriend, a gorgeous town to live in. But when she graduated, things didn’t seem to come together–for her, anyway. As all those around her kept attaining their dreams, jobs, and goals, hers continued to seem out of reach. And then, she lost what she did have. An illness, anorexia (including an addiction to exercise), grew in her and took over her life (even though many of the behavioral roots connected with it probably started much earlier).

As Mel’s illness puts her in the hospital–again–she promises her grandmother and her doctor that she will enter treatment. But while she’s at her apartment “taking care of some last-minute things,” as she tells the doc, she comes up with what seems to her to be an even better plan: walking from Grand Rapids, Michigan, to Mount Rainier. Over two thousand miles. Then, she can create a story of her life that will, in her opinion, MEAN something.

Her disordered thinking is telling her that this will make her life worthwhile. What it isn’t telling her is that in her current state, she should be in the hospital, and that attempting this trek might just take her life. Instead of saving it.

My thoughts about this book

WHAT a book. And what a voice. It was very hard to believe that this was Autumn’s first book. She unfolds protagonist Mel’s story perfectly, and also heartrendingly. We get to look on as Mel interacts with others, but we also get an abundant look into her mind and the thoughts that overflow into her thinking, courtesy of her illness. Thoughts about her size. About others’ sizes. And calorie-counting to the extreme. Honestly, I wasn’t sure that Mel wasn’t going to end back up in the hospital before she made it a dozen steps; much less miles.

Although Mel isn’t quite sure that God would love someone who has failed so abysmally, again and again, it seems that He might just have a plan that is bigger than her harsh thoughts and ideas about herself, her life, and her value. And He might just be about to bring extreme evidence of that plan, and His enormous love, to Mel’s understanding as she takes her own extreme adventure.

All That Fills Us was a difficult book for me to start. Poor Mel! It was hard to read, at times, how harsh and unforgiving she was in her own thoughts and treatment of herself and her body. And I don’t want to give you any spoilers; but I will tell you that her journey is a fascinating one, and the rewards for taking it, immense. I recommend this book highly.

Just a quick content warning for those who might be struggling with anorexia: Autumn does describe some extremely restricted food intake and planning, as well as some exercise-addicted behavior. At no time, however, is either of these glorified. Just part of Mel’s journey.

About the author, Autumn Lytle

Autumn shares on the back of her novel a bit about herself; that she loves running, lives in Seattle, loves being her son’s mom, and is, as she puts it, “a forever-recovering anorexic.” She is also an amazing human being. (I don’t know her personally, by the way!) I’ve enjoyed her book so much that I had to check out her website. Here are some links that you can visit to get to know this author a bit better.

You can find Autumn on her website, Autumn Lytle. The subheading on her site reads, “Author. Runner. Eater. Explorer.” That tells us a lot, doesn’t it? But as you read her posts, you get so much more, even if you are NOT a runner (as I am not!). You are totally going to want this woman as your friend!

When I read some of Autumn’s blog posts, I had the same experience I did as I read her book. Tears. But also laughter. See if you don’t experience the same thing when you read these words, from Autumn’s website post “On becoming small:”

While the world measures small by the size of your waist or the number on your jeans, Jesus calls us to a smallness that allows us to bear witness to the glory of his creation, putting our worries and fears into perspective. It’s a revelation that draws me out of my own isolated world where I am the center of my own universe into a world full of beauty and hungry for love.

Autumn Lytle

If you’d like to experience a little more of this author’s story and get to “meet” her as well, you can watch her talk by clicking on the link below.

Author Night with Autumn Lytle from Baker Book House

And definitely, don’t miss this, her first book, All That Fills Us.

Enjoy! –Wren

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from Revell Reads. All opinions are my very own.

“The Catch” by Lisa Harris ~ a Revell Reads review

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Revell Reads was kind enough to send me a copy of Lisa Harris’s newest novel, The Catch. I just finished it and I’d love to share about it!

About The Catch

The Catch is Lisa Harris’s third book in her US Marshals Series. (It does definitely work as a stand-alone novel; but since I’m sure you’ll want to read the first two, The Escape and The Chase, also featuring US Marshals Madison James and Jonas Quinn, I wanted to mention them!) In The Catch, the book begins with two women; and the first, Myra, is threatening to take the second’s, Becca’s, infant son. Suddenly, a gun is brandished.

In another part of town, accused criminal Maxim Cervantes is scheduled to appear before a judge to learn whether he can post bail or if he’ll be denied that opportunity. Madison and Jonas, along with numerous other marshals, have been assigned to the courthouse since Cervantes, who’s on the Most Wanted list for racketeering, kidnapping, and felony murder, has a cadre of foot soldiers who are a serious cause for concern. And sure enough, that concern is warranted, and the two marshals are forced into immediate action to protect the judge.

It’s not just the judge whose life is in danger, however. Before it’s all over, the marshals will be searching for Becca and her baby, attempting to solve a murder, and to rescue someone from Cervantes’ hit men’s grasp. And they STILL haven’t had a moment to talk about their feelings for one another; but with several innocents’ lives at risks, their personal lives have to be put aside for the moment.

My thoughts

I couldn’t put The Catch down once I started reading it! Although I wasn’t familiar with Madison (and her past) or Jonas, and their earlier adventures, I really liked their characters. I sympathized with Becca (even though some of her decisions started the rollercoaster of crime and events) and was anxious for her baby to be found. I also do love police and federal agent-types of fiction, and I’m so satisfied when I’ve reached the ends of the books and the crimes have been solved. The twists and turns of the criminals’ choices weren’t easy to predict (actually, I rarely knew where things were going to go!) and Harris definitely kept my anticipation at a high level.

I enjoyed reading The Catch and felt that I was able to get a grasp of the protagonists’ characters and motivations, although I do wish that I’d gotten to know Madison and Jonas in the two earlier books of the series first. I appreciated their commitment and professionalism and loved learning a bit about their pasts and inner worlds. I can recommend this book for sure to you! (But I’d also say, read the first two books in the series too!)

Enjoy! –Wren

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from Revell Reads. All opinions stated here are my own.

Lynn H. Blackburn’s awesome new addition to her Defend and Protect series: “Malicious Intent” (a Revell Reads review)

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About this time last year, I had the extreme pleasure of reading Lynn H. Blackburn’s fantastic Unknown Threat, the first in her Defend and Protect series, courtesy of Revell Reads. And I’ve just finished her incredible book #2 in the series, Malicious Intent, also courtesy of Revell Reads! I just can’t recommend this series to you highly enough. Let me tell you a bit more.

About Malicious Intent

Once upon a time, Ivy thought she would grow up and marry her childhood love, Gil. That was before events transpired that separated them, and, Ivy imagined, would keep them apart forever. How could Gil and his family ever forgive?

Since then, Ivy completed her university and even doctoral studies, and founded a company devoted to the creation of exceptional prosthetic devices, especially for those who’ve lost a limb. Hedera, Inc., is finally poised to begin clinical trials on a prosthetic that seems incredibly likely to change the world for amputees.

That is all before a series of events that might get Ivy killed…and delay the trials, perhaps forever. Counterfeit money. Criminal trespass. A forced interrogation. And worse.

But these have a most unexpected consequence: they bring Ivy face to face again with Gil. Now Secret Service Agent Gilbert Dixon. And Ivy can tell he is both as shocked to see her as she is to see him; and, more, that all those years of distance haven’t lessened the connection their hearts once built.

The question is, can Ivy survive long enough to see if more than just a past love is possible?

My thoughts

I LOVE Lynn H. Blackburn’s writing! She is masterful at creating suspenseful and captivating storylines. Her characters are genuinely interesting people who’ve devoted years, talent, and amazing skill sets to rising to places of excellence in their fields. And, they are deeply connected to their friends and those they love. All of these make Blackburn’s newest, Malicious Intent, a fabulous read filled with characters I truly rooted for and a book I couldn’t put down.

Ivy and Gil are both SO appealing. And their sweet relationship, which was devastated by life events neither caused, was such a loss. It was a fun ride to watch them come face-to-face with “the one that got away”–for once, an equal loss on both sides.

Gil’s fellow agents (and committed friends) in both the Secret Service and the FBI exemplify what the highest and best candidates can bring to those professions. (Yes, I realize that they’re imagined characters in a book. They were still AWESOME.)

And then, there’s the story! Who on earth would want to stop someone from bringing amazing prosthetics to market? Ivy doesn’t know. Neither does Gil, nor do his fellow agents. But the clock is ticking. And they might not survive discovering the answer.

I would say that Malicious Intent is one of my favorite suspense reads of the year. I do love a fantastic police procedural (although really, this would be more of a Secret Service procedural). Malicious Intent definitely qualifies as a fantastic example. Excellent characters (who also, I forgot to mention, love God), a sweet love story, and a well-paced story that is filled with unexpected danger. You will love Lynn H. Blackburn’s newest. Don’t miss it!

Enjoy! –Wren

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from Revell Reads. Here, I’ve expressed my own opinions honestly.

“The Prince and the Prodigal” ~ a Revell Reads review

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Recently, Revell Reads sent me a copy of Jill Eileen Smith’s incredible novel about the story of Joseph, his family, his sufferings, and his eventual triumph: The Prince and the Prodigal. It is worth every moment of your reading time!

About The Prince and the Prodigal

Jill Eileen Smith begins with the Genesis 37-50 account of Joseph and unfolds the story masterfully, creating a narrative that takes us inside the hearts and minds of the sons (and daughter) of Jacob. These chapters cover a lot of ground for those who will comprise the beginnings of the nation of Israel, and that ground includes favoritism, jealousy, kidnapping, murder, selling a human into slavery, lying, and deception. (And more.) In The Prince and the Prodigal, the author writes an incredible novel that uses Joseph and Judah as its main protagonists, with first-person perspectives from Dinah and Tamar as well.

Readers get the opportunity to step into the distant pasts of Canaan and Egypt, and into the lives and the cultures of those mentioned in Genesis. What happens when horrible wrongs are done to the women and men who live there? How will they get past those? The intimate thoughts and faith of God’s people shine brightly through Jill Eileen Smith’s writing.

My thoughts about this book

What was Joseph, son of Jacob, really like? Genesis tells us about his dreams, of course, which start his whole story; plus his actions and who he becomes over time in Egypt. We only get a brief glimpse of his emotions, though what we see in Scripture is extremely vivid (his weeping when his brothers are brought before him; the names he selects for his sons that tell not only of his suffering but of God’s provision; his desire for his father to know how he’s succeeded in Egypt). If ever there were a man who had a lot to forgive, it was Joseph. Yet Joseph’s timeline also includes the stories of Dinah and Tamar, who were also both enormously wronged.

Jill Eileen Smith tells a FANTASTIC story of these individuals; and not only of them, but of Joseph’s brothers, of Potiphar and Potiphar’s wife. She is able to draw back the curtain on what their thoughts and motivations might have been; and the incredible victory that faith and perseverance win in them. Because the story of Joseph is not just the story of a man, sold into slavery, who was able to triumph; it’s an encouragement to all of us when we have experienced times of suffering that seem as though they’ll never end.

Do get a copy of The Prince and the Prodigal for yourself. You will find it captivating and compelling reading; and you’ll be encouraged and blessed by the end of it.

Enjoy! –Wren

Disclosure: I received a copy of The Prince and the Prodigal from Revell Reads. All opinions are honest and my own.

“Never Leave Me” by Jody Hedlund ~ a Revell Reads Review

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Revell Reads was kind enough to send me Jody Hedlund’s newest book in her “Waters of Time” series: Never Leave Me. I’d love to share about this book with you!

So! Castles. Knights. Convents. Incurable illnesses. And last but not least, time travel!

If you read my blog, you might remember when I read Jody Hedlund’s Come Back to Me over the summer. In that lovely book, readers met Marion, a medical research scientist. Marion has been working for years to try to find a cure for her sister Ellen’s genetic disease, one that will bring not only premature death but extreme suffering. The sisters’ father was also trying to find a cure, but was in a coma in the first book in the “Waters of Time” series. Marion flies to London to his side. But his research, which seems so fantastical that Marion can’t believe it at first–concerning healing water and something called The Tree of Life–eventually takes Marion on a trip back through time, where she meets Will, a noble knight. And she falls in love.

Never Leave Me is Ellen’s story. When the book begins, Ellen is fighting the genetic disorder that her sister and father were trying to cure in Come Back to Me. It’s incredibly painful and has caused a number of cancers. Ellen is telling their family friend Harrison that she is ready for her suffering to end; that she doesn’t plan to fight this newest cancer. He is furious. Perhaps she doesn’t realize it, but Harrison has loved her for years. However, due to the injury that put him in a wheelchair as a child, and also due to her knowledge of her illness, they’ve never talked about this. Ellen has also distanced herself from all romantic relationships, and has devoted herself to using her inheritance to care for children with serious diseases.

But Harrison knows a little about that healing water. And in fact, he has a tiny amount of it. Ellen, sure that the substance killed those she loved, refuses it. To her astonishment, a miracle happens. And, you guessed it; a trip back in time to medieval England!

Just because “no spoilers”…

I’m not going to tell you any of those details. But Harrison’s and Ellen’s lives are changed. Reunions occur. But both learn that the Middle Ages are definitely NOT for the faint of heart. There’s sword-fighting. Accusations of witchcraft. Difficult childbirth. And savage men with great power, while the women around them have almost none.

Ellen and her sister Marion are very, very different. Ellen’s disease has shaped both of their lives. Yet both are accomplished medical professionals. And when love finds each of them, they have dramatic decisions to make. For Ellen, the decision is one that could transform the rest of her days. But will she have the courage necessary to embrace it? Harrison is willing to risk everything to find Ellen, when she disappears. But neither of them has realized that a serum that could cure every disease isn’t going to only have benign supporters. Those on the side of evil exist in both the current day and in medieval times. And they’re willing to commit any crimes necessary to get that cure. Harrison and Ellen may not have much time to decide if they will stand against evil and embrace love…before it’s too late.

If you loved Come Back to Me, don’t miss its sequel Never Leave Me!

Enjoy! –Wren

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from Revell Reads. All opinions are my own.

Erin Bartels’ “The Girl Who Could Breathe Under Water” ~ a Revell Reads Review

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I was so thrilled to get to read Erin Bartels’ newest! Revell Reads kindly sent me a digital e-book version of The Girl Who Could Breathe Under Water. I admit, I was captivated by the cover before I even knew what it was about. As it turned out, the book was as gorgeous and as haunting as the cover is.

My impressions of The Girl Who Could Breathe Under Water

I’ve heard it said that writers should never read reviews of their work. Something akin to that is the problem, the weight, that Kendra Brennan is carrying around: a letter from someone signed as, A Very Disappointed Reader. Now. That’s not disheartening, is it?

There’s also another weight. Kendra is the author of a best-selling book. Her first one, as a matter of fact, and such a success that her second book has already received an advance. The only problem? She hasn’t been able to get any words down on paper. And the time is ticking by…

For many years of her childhood life, Kendra spent her summers at her grandparents’ cottage on the remote Hidden Lake in Michigan. She met her best friend there, after Cami’s adoptive parents brought her home from China. Kendra’s and Cami’s summers were spent in utter happiness there together; in the water, on the sand, in the canoes, or on their special island. Robert and Beth, Cami’s parents, adopted Tyler, an older boy from China. And the once-besties-type of friendship between the two girls begins to erode. Eventually, Kendra stopped coming to the lake. And Cami and Kendra haven’t spoken, or seen each other, in years.

So, Kendra, who’s lost her grandmother and grandfather, is returning to the empty cottage in the hopes of jump-starting her writing. Of breaking the writer’s block that has stymied her efforts. Her first book, which was fiction, was viewed by many as autobiographical, with obvious villains and heroes. But after receiving the unhappy reader’s letter (which has never left Kendra’s possession) her well of words has dried up. Maybe her book was autobiographical. The letter’s words, “Your book…is the work of a selfish opportunist who was all too ready to monetize the suffering of others…” are branded on her mind, ever-present in her days and her nights, serving as a painful roadblock. Its intimate words make her believe that the author has to be someone from Hidden Lake. Someone who knows.

But then.

A German translator, Andreas, arrives at the lake, there to get her words just right in the translation of the bestseller. Robert and Beth are there. Tyler arrives. But Cami is still missing.

Sometimes the past really is shrouded in mystery. We see faintly the moments of our own histories, but we wrestle with their pain, especially if they are childhood pains. I found Kendra’s struggle, with so many missing pieces that she feels she desperately needs to know, to be a true and honest one. The reader hopes beyond hope that she will find peace, and restoration, even when Kendra’s path might take her places she really doesn’t want to go. Perhaps Kendra will find the Very Disappointed Reader. Or maybe not. In any case, don’t miss The Girl Who Could Breathe Under Water. You won’t be able to put it down. Erin Bartels excels at bringing the reader along in her protagonist’s journey. There is beauty and brokenness here; but there is also a truth that we all need to know.

This is a book worth reading. And when you do read it, don’t miss the author’s note at the end of the book.

–Wren

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from Revell Reads. All opinions are my own.

“Lights Out” ~ a Revell Reads review

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Recently, I had the opportunity to be introduced to author Natalie Walters, courtesy of Revell Reads, with Natalie’s brand new suspense thriller Lights Out. What a read! Let me tell you more!

About the book

Brynn Taylor, who’s been with the CIA for 8 years, is especially excited about her new anti-terrorist project. Her idea, to gather intelligence officials from other countries and train them to work together to ferret out terrorists BEFORE they have a chance to strike, is approved by her superiors and is progressing swimmingly.

Until, that is, one of those intelligence operatives disappears. The Egyptian intelligence officer, Riad, has gone completely off the grid. The CIA doesn’t know why he’s missing; but he should have remained on base with the other officials meeting and working together. Brynn, her promising project, and perhaps even the U.S. are in danger.

With Riad still missing, Brynn promises to find him. Yet her boss informs her that the search is being handed over to the SNAP Agency; but that she can work along with them. She is appalled at what this might mean for her career, much less for the U.S. She doesn’t even know that her heart might be affected.

Until she walks into SNAP’s offices and sees the man that she rejected for the CIA position she was hired for, eight years ago. But whom she has never forgotten.

Jack Hudson has never forgotten her either. It’s hard to forget someone who both betrayed him AND broke his heart. Neither of them has a choice though; they, along with Jack’s SNAP (Strategic Neutralization and Protection) team have been assigned the task of finding Riad. Which includes a computer genius-level hacker, an EOD expert, a logistician, and Jack, who’d trained for the CIA along with Brynn.

None of the group has any idea that the task before them, and the hidden dangers within it, has the potential to cost them their own lives. Or really, the magnitude of this task; that it not only could affect Washington D.C., but the whole United States, and even the world. If they can survive the poisons, the weapons, kidnapping, and worse, that is.

And if they can keep their own hearts under control.

My thoughts

So, one word: Wow.

What a story! I absolutely fell in love with Brynn and Jack, along with the fabulous SNAP team. Their chemistry, their teamwork, their fascinating skills and abilities, and even their pop-culture love, captured my heart. Each was so believable, with rich backstories that made their choices and interactions make perfect sense.

And, since I love (and have loved since high school) a good spy mystery, Natalie’s mastery of the genre made my first foray into her books a joy. She not only crafted characters that I was happy to cheer on (and hope that they survived!), she built an exceptional thriller. And, even better, I couldn’t predict anything! But I couldn’t put down the book either.

I loved every chapter, and every character (well, except for the bad guys). It’s a clean read, with a tiny bit of romance, great dialogue, and action that will keep you on the edge of your seat. I can’t wait for the next book in Walters’ series about the SNAP Agency; and I’d recommend not only that you be on the lookout for it but that you read Lights Out too.

It’s inconceivable to me that you wouldn’t love it as well!

Enjoy! –Wren

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from Revell Reads. All opinions are my own.