Monday, October 21, 2013

Review ~ Critical Pursuit by Janice Cantore

Hello Friends! Today, I have a cop thriller for you: Critical Pursuit by Janice Cantore! (I received a NetGalley copy of this book for my honest review from the publisher Tyndale House) This is the first book I've read by this former Long Beach, CA police officer, and it was fantastic! I have a couple of her other books on my Kindle, and now I'm super excited to read them! Critical Pursuit is a re-release by Tyndale House, formerly titled The Kevlar Heart. 

Summary:  Brinna Caruso is the cop you want when your child is missing. Known for her tenacity and her "wall of slime" dedicated to the pedophiles and child abusers in her area, Brinna is determined to track down every missing child she can and bring them to safety. Why so passionate? Because twenty years earlier, Brinna herself was abducted and left in the desert to die. Had it not been for Milo, the cop that saved her, she wouldn't have survived. Now, twenty years later, Brinna and her search and rescue dog, Hero, have stumbled onto a series of kidnappings that are remarkably similar to her own, and they must figure out who is behind them! Brinna's own kidnapper was killed several years before, so who is this copycat? Meanwhile, her personal life is falling apart, her faith in God is non-existent, and thanks to a media crazed lawyer, she is stuck with a partner who isn't all there.

Jack O'Reilly lost his wife and unborn child to a drunk driver nearly a year ago. Formerly, one of the best homicide detectives that Long Beach, CA had to offer, he is now hanging on by a thread, more consumed with getting revenge for his wife and daughter than catching any murderers. Re-assigned to patrol, he is partnered with Brinna, and together they must work through their personal lives, their jobs, and their faith.

What I liked: The plot was great. While I figured a few things out here and there, it was fun to see how it all came together in the end. I also enjoyed that it wasn't too gruesome, but still got the point across. The "wall of slime" is awesome, as is Brinna's tenacity and desire to keep kids safe. Jack and Brinna's chemistry is goof too, and Hero is just plain awesome!

What I didn't like: Part of me didn't like that it was about child molesters. Nothing graphic happened or anything, and it did make a great story, I just get so mad at the IDEA of children being victimized that it makes it hard to read about sometimes. Other than that, I don't have any complaints.

Take Away: Jack and Brinna both struggled with hatred, revenge, and where God was in their pain. Ms. Cantore does a really good job dealing with these issues, especially the "Where is God?" question. How monsters can harm children and get away with it is sickening, but trying to figure out why God allows it to happen is even harder. Sin is terrible, and rest assured, God HATES it when children are harmed. There is no easy answer for why it happens, but know that even in the pain, God is still there and can and will bring healing. It isn't easy, but he will if you ask for it. If you, or someone you know has been victimized, please find someone to talk to, preferably a Christian counselor who can help you work through your hurt, and help you on the path to healing. If you suspect someone you know has been victimized, or is an abuser, please report it, and make sure the victim is somewhere safe!

Overall, this was a good read, and I really want to read the rest of her books now. This book challenged me to think about how I can help those who have been victimized, but also how to help them spiritually as well. It gave me a lot to think about on the theological side of things, and some of it I'm still chewing on. I hope you enjoy this book! It isn't preachy, I just took away a lot from that side of things. If you like cop thrillers, or mysteries, you'll enjoy it!

Happy Reading!

Sarah K

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Review ~ Unspoken by Dee Henderson

Hello Friends! Today, I get to review a book by one of my all time favorite authors, Dee Henderson! I've loved her books since I was a teen, and I've read them all at least twice...or more. For those of you unfamiliar with her books, you need to start with her O'Malley series, (the final book in said series was just published earlier this spring) and go from there. Her latest book, Unspoken, follows last fall's release, Full Disclosure. (note, I received an ARC of this book via NetGalley from the publisher, but it was missing words, so I bought my own copy and used it for the review)

Summary: Eighteen years ago, at the age of twenty, Charlotte Graham was born. Before that, she had been known as Ruth, the girl who was kidnapped at sixteen and held for four years before being released. No one knows what happened during those four years, and if she has her way, no one will. Now, at thirty-eight, Charlotte is content to live out of the public eye and keep to herself, a hard thing to do, now that she finds herself the owner of one of the largest storage facilities in the USA. Sure, she has friends, but they are very few, mostly limited to the two in charge of her protection, John and Ellie.

Enter Bryce Bishop, coin collector, and savvy businessman who isn't afraid of hard work. Owner of Bishop Chicago, a high end coin dealership, he meets Charlotte one evening after an interesting phone call from the head of the FBI's Chicago unit, and close friend, Paul Falcon. Paul instructs Bryce to trust Charlotte. Confused, Bryce quickly learns that she has bought the storefront next to his, and has filled it with some of the most valuable coins Bryce has ever seen. She wants to sell them to him - all of them. Not only that, there's more.

Bryce decides to give her a chance, as he is intrigued by her coins, and her past. The more time they spend together, the more he realizes he cares for Charlotte. She, on the other hand, is plagued by her past, her wealth, and a pesky reporter who is threatening to write a tell-all about her kidnapping, and place her in harms way once again. Together, they must learn to trust God, and each other, in order to survive what is coming next.

What I loved: Charlotte and Bryce are extremely well written. I enjoyed getting to know them, as well as John and Ellie. I also liked hearing from more characters from previous books - Paul and Ann, even Gage and his back story is the same as in the O'Malley's. I also enjoyed the leisurely pace this book had. It wasn't rushed, it wasn't in your face, it just kept you wanting to read more. Paul and Ann's secondary cold case that they are working on is a fun addition, and does help keep the story moving.

I thought it was very interesting that much of the action in this book takes place off set. You hear about it, but it isn't happening where you are. For some, that may be a little bit of a let down, because Ms. Henderson's other books are little more action filled. For others, it's a nice change of pace.

Spiritual Application: I also appreciated the struggles that the characters dealt with, especially about trusting God, and the struggle with forgiveness. I felt that Ms. Henderson dealt with the "why do bad things happen?" and "why should I believe in a God that allows evil men forgiveness?" questions extremely well. Bryce was very patient with Charlotte as she worked through these issues, and while there isn't a good answer to these questions, (easy yes, good, not so much), they were treated with respect, and gave the characters, and the reader much to think about. Forgiveness is a crazy hard wonderful thing. It's easy to forgive little stuff, but the big stuff, especially when it's been done to us, is HARD. God forgives everyone who asks, and the idea that someone who harms a child could be forgiven and enter heaven is horrible to me. Yet, I have to remember that sin is sin. I too am stained and dirty, and God still forgives me. If God didn't forgive something big like that, then it would mean that it is bigger than God, and nothing is bigger than Him. Forgiveness is something that we can only do with God's help, because only he is bigger than what has been done to us or by us. Without forgiveness, we would be just as lost an alone as those who have wronged us. What a precious, humbling gift!

The other issue this book tackled was that of good stewardship/financial responsibility. Charlotte comes into a rather large sum of money - an astounding amount, and has Bryce help her figure out what to do with it. While most people would use it for personal gain, Charlotte does not. Even though she is not sure where she stands on issues of faith, she still wants to give to worthy Christian causes. I love the shout outs to Samaritan's Purse and World Vision - two of my favorites as well. What would YOU do if you came into that kind of money? Who would you give it to?

What I didn't care for: There wasn't as much of a mystery as I thought there would be. I also wish more had been done with Gage, or with Ellie's past. The first part, while interesting, was a bit slow at times, thought I must admit, I learned a LOT about coins and coin collecting!

Overall, a great read! A little different than her previous ones, and if nothing else, you should at least read Full Disclosure before reading this book, if you haven't already. If you enjoy a cozy mystery, a tiny hint of romance, or coin collecting, you'll like this book!

Happy Reading!