Thursday, October 19, 2017

In the Middle of the Mess by Sheila Walsh

Walsh wants readers to experience the salvation freedom to be who they were meant to be apart from pain and shame. She invites readers to find healing and strength in the midst of the mess. Walsh has struggled with depression and shares her battle experiences, wrapping the narrative around the death of her mother.

The primary emphasis of this book is an encouragement for us to be truthful. We know how to say the right words so that it appears all is well. Walsh wants us to speak the truth, admitting the pain, revealing the scars. Trying to hide our wounds gives a foothold to fear and shame. Believing lies about ourselves easily leads to a pit of despair. Walsh includes practical suggestions to counter lies, such as Scripture verses to use. She suggests creating a community for support consisting of safe-place sisters who confess to and pray for each other.

Walsh shares her own experiences and through them helps us understand how to find healing and strength. It is a very personal account of struggling, having a mental breakdown when she was 36 years old and being hospitalized. People who know Walsh from her speaking engagements and TV experiences will welcome these personal stories.

Walsh shares the lessons she has learned through her own experiences. Her suggestions have been tried and tested. I recommend this book to women who are ready to deal with the lies and instead walk in the truth. You'll get good encouragement and practical suggestions.

Food for thought: “Raw, honest pain offered to God brings us closer to His heart.” (63)

My rating: 4/5 stars.

Sheila Walsh is a Bible teacher and best selling author with more than five million books sold. She is the cohost of Life Today with James and Betty Robison. She lives in Dallas, Texas with her husband and their son. You can find out more at

Thomas Nelson, 192 pages.

I received a complimentary ARC of this book through Handlebar. My comments are an independent and honest review.

Whisper by Mark Batterson

Batterson suggests that our ears have been deafened to the voice of God. Learning to hear the voice of God is the solution to many of our problems. Hence this book.

I really like many of Batterson's insights. One was about the nature of whispering. When someone whispers, you have to get close to hear what is said. It makes sense that God would whisper to us, drawing us close to Him. Batterson reminds us of the importance of silence and the distraction of noise. No wonder we have been deaf to the whispers of God.

Batterson has the goal of helping us learn how to discern the voice of God in the ways He speaks to us. We all hear God differently as God speaks to different personalities in different ways. He helps us determine our unique whispering spot to hear from God.

The seven ways God speaks to us include Scripture (the final authority for all we hear), desires (we are to delight in Him), doors (tests to keep us from less than God's best), dreams (how to evaluate them and trust God), people (remembering that they and we are imperfect), promptings (discerning holy moments), and pain (perhaps speaking something that cannot be said any other way).

I recommend this book for anyone wanting to hear God speak. You'll receive good teaching on how to place yourself to hear the whisper. The book is very readable too as Batterson tells lots of entertaining and informative stories, like the history of vanilla.

Food for thought: “If you want to hear the heart of God, silence is key.” (16)

You can download an excerpt and watch a video here.

The book releases October 24.

My rating: 4/5 stars.

Mark Batterson is the New York Times best selling author of more than a dozen books. He is the lead pastor of National Community Church, one of the most innovative and influential churches in America. He has a DMin degree from Regent University. He, his wife, and their children live on Capitol Hill. You can find out more at

Multnomah, 224 pages.

I received a complimentary ARC of this book from the publisher. My comments are an independent and honest review.

A Small Book About a Big Problem by Edward T Welch

Each of us has experienced anger. Each of us has been hurt and hurt others because of it. Welch decided to take a slow walk through the issue, writing 50 short vignettes to be read over 50 days. Each reading includes a question for thought.

This is a good book about anger but I was disappointed in that it lacked clear and practical ideas to deal with anger. Welch explores the relationship of anger to fear and blame. He reminds us Jesus was hard on anger because it destroys. Welch also explores how anger is formed, beginning as a desire but then having that desire thwarted. He helps us understand what anger reveals about our relationships, including with God.

A confusing aspect of the book for me was Welch writing about anger's opposite. He writes that wisdom is anger's opposite (Loc 276/1400), love is the opposite of anger (Loc 300/1400), humility is the opposite of anger (Loc 487/1400), and asking forgiveness is anger's opposite (Loc 598/1400).

Unfortunately, Welch gives some suggestions but includes no strategy to carry them out. An example is Day 50. “Cast off anger and all its affiliates,” he writes. “Cast off everything that has to do with darkness and the Evil One.” (Loc 1325/1400) A good admonition but carrying it out is left up to the reader. No practical strategy is included.

If you are looking for readings about anger and a few general suggestions, this book is for you. If you want a book with some practical strategy in dealing with your anger, such as identifying its roots, you will have to look elsewhere.

I am taking part in a blog tour of this book and you can read more reviews at

My rating: 3/5 stars.

Edward T. Welch, MDiv, PhD, is a licensed psychologist and faculty member at the Christian Counseling & Educational Foundation (CCEF). He earned a Ph.D. In counseling (neuropsychology) from the University of Utah and has a Master of Divinity degree from Biblical Theological Seminary. He has counseling for more than thirty years and has written extensively on the topics of depression, fear, and addictions. He and his wife, Sheri, have two married daughters and eight grandchildren. Find out more at

New Growth Press, 192 pages.

I received a complimentary digital copy of this book through Litfuse. My comments are an independent and honest review.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

When the Bishop Needs an Alibi by Vannetta Chapman

I rarely read novels in the saturated Amish genre but this mystery caught my interest. I'm glad I read the book as I really enjoyed it.

Chapman has crafted a novel that shows how Amish and “English” form friendships and work together. The plot is woven around a murder. The bishop of the local Amish community had tried to be a friend to a young woman, new in the nearby town. I liked his compassion for her, knowing she was troubled by something. But when he finds her body, he is accused of the murder. I liked how the community, both Amish and “English” friends, come to his aid, determined to find the real killer.

I really appreciate that Chapman has portrayed the Amish community in what seems to me to be a realistic way. I like that she has added some humor to the story too. Her research into the local scenery and the migratory birds was informative as well.

I recommend this mystery to readers who appreciate a well plotted one. You'll learn how people in a small Amish community relate to the “English” too.

My rating: 4/5 stars.

Vannetta Chapman was a teacher for fifteen years and now writes full time. She writes romantic suspense and Amish novels. She and her husband live in the Texas Hill Country. You can find out more at

Harvest House Publishers, 354 pages.

I received a complimentary egalley of this book from the publisher. My comments are an independent and honest review.

The Rejected Writers' Christmas Wedding by Suzanne Kelman

This is the third in the Rejected Writers series. It's as funny as the others. I don't know how Kelman keeps creating such great plots with warmth and humor propelled by crazy characters.

In this slice of small town life on an island in the Pacific Northwest, the ladies plan a wedding. Things get pretty crazy when Doris thinks she can make all the arrangements for Flora, the soft spoken bride. There is one laugh out loud scene after another.

The novel also has its serious side when a misunderstanding derails the romantic relationship. There are some good lessons about truth and honesty and forgiveness woven into the plot. The strong friendship bond these women have forged is very inspiring.

All the elements of a great novel are here. The characters are crazy funny, like Ruby-Skye, the eccentric hippie in her 70s. The plot is wonderful. You'll revel in how the ladies help relationships heal, even while you're laughing at the mess they make on the way. The location is superb, that special island of which I'm a native and call home.

Get ready to laugh until the tears flow as you read this fun and warm look at life in a small island town. I highly recommend this novel to readers who enjoy a good laugh and appreciate a heart warming story woven through out.

You can read my reviews of the earlier books in the series: The Rejected Writers' Book Club and The Rejected Writers Take the Stage.

My rating: 5/5 stars.

Suzanne Kelman is the author of the Rejected Writers Book Club series and an award-winning screenwriter. Born and raised in the United Kingdom, she now lives in Washington State on her own version of Southlea Bay with her husband and son. You can find out more at

Kindle Press, 198 pages.

I received a complimentary egalley of this book from the author. My comments are an independent and honest review.

A Woman Overwhelmed by Hayley DiMarco $75 Giveaway

About the Book:

"A woman overwhelmed"-is this a phrase you can relate to? If you answered yes, you need to read Hayley DiMarco's new book, A Woman Overwhelmed. The best-selling author shares biblical insights and personal stories to offer a glimpse at the comedy of an overwhelmed life while encouraging us to discover the depths and heights of God's love and power. Choose to bask in the abundance of the Father instead of the abundance of life as his unfathomable depths can surely replace our fathomable messes.

My Review:

I liked this book. DiMarco has a good combination of humor and teaching, making the book an enjoyable yet instructive one. I like how she encourages us to get the proper perspective on life. We need a Savior and were meant to be overwhelmed by Him.

She helps us understand how we get overwhelmed, wanting to control our family and, well, everything. She encourages us to be honest about our failures and not act like we have it all together. Faking it is of no benefit to us or others. I really appreciated her section on comparison.

My favorite part of the book was her insight that we were made to be overwhelmed by God. He wants to be a part of what overwhelms us.

Another topic very enlightening was about control. She is honest about how people make her life miserable when she is not in control of them. “Making God's will more important to you than your own is the passage way from complaint to contentment.” (Loc 977/1575)

To help incorporate the teaching, DiMarco has included thoughts to ponder at the end of each chapter. There are also additional resources available at the publisher website for the book.

I recommend this book to women who feel overwhelmed and desire a better perspective on life. You'll get some great teaching as well as a good dose of humor.

I am taking part in a blog tour of this book. You can read more reviews at

My rating: 4/5 stars.

Hayley DiMarco is the best selling author of more than 40 books. She is the founder of Hungry Planet, a company intensely focused on feeding the world's appetite for truth. She speaks regularly at women's events, including Women of Faith, MOPS, and others. She and her pastor husband live outside Nasvhille with their daughter and four dogs. You can find out more at

Become a woman less overwhelmed by life and more overwhelmed by God and enter to win Hayley's $75 Merry Maids Visa Card Giveaway to help lessen your daily load.

One grand prize winner will receive:
  • A copy of A Woman Overwhelmed
  • A $75 Merry Maids Visa Cash Card
Enter today by clicking the icon below, but hurry! The giveaway ends on November 3. The winner will be announced November 6 on the Litfuse blog.

I received a complimentary egalley of this book through Litfuse. My comments are an independent and honest review. The copy for the rest of this post was provided by Litfuse.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

The Master's Mind by Lance Hahn

I had high hopes for this book based on the title. We are told in Scripture to have the mind of Christ and I hoped this book would help me see how that happened. While Hahn does a good job explaining our identity in Christ and what that looks like, I was frustrated with a lack of practical suggestions as to how I help bring that reality to pass.

Hahn explains how our thoughts are powerful. “If we can master our minds and bring our thoughts into alignment with the Lord's will and perspective, the rest of our lives will follow suit.” (2) We are to align our identity with Christ's. We are to change our minds and follow His direction. We are to fight the enemy and the barriers he places in the way of our getting to the right mindset. Good so far. Just give me a practical strategy to do that.

Here are some examples of Hahn's suggestions. “If we have baggage from our pasts, we need to let the Holy Spirit sort it and throw out what we no longer need.” (91) Yet he gives no strategy, no suggested prayers nor Bible passages to use. “We need to pray and ask God for His wisdom to rule our thoughts.” (168) A good idea but no help with suggested prayers or other strategy.

He writes that we need to be so filled with the Holy Spirit that He forces out the evil. (175) He mentions the benefits of spiritual disciplines but pretty much leaves it up to us to figure out what they are and how to practice them. (181) The closest thing to a strategy I found was this: “God is not as interested in our getting things right as He is in our getting out of the way and allowing Him to make things right.” (170) So I guess I'll just get out of the way and let God work.

If you are looking for a good exploration of the importance of our thoughts and our beliefs about our identity, this is a good book for you. If you are looking for a book with practical suggestions on how to change your thoughts and conform them to Christ, you will have to look elsewhere.

My rating: 3/5 stars.

Lance Hahn is the senior pastor of Bridgeway Christian Church in Rocklin, California. His first book chronicles his struggles with panic disorder. He is a popular speaker who enjoys writing. He is married with two daughters. You can find out more at

W Publishing Group (Thomas Nelson), 240 pages.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher. My comments are an independent and honest review.

5-Word Prayers by Lisa Whittle

Having grown up in an era of long and sonorous prayers, Whittle's book is a breath of fresh air. “Prayer is not about word count, but about heart intent.” (9) The short prayers and the devotions that accompany them are about our feelings, not about technique. I like the encouragement to honest and to have passion in relating to God.

While I liked all of the devotions, a couple really made an impressions on me. One was Day 15: I need You desperately today. What a cry of the heart when we feel like we just cannot face what comes next. Her devotion reminds us that God sees and cares.

Sometimes the prayer and devotion are a spiritual lesson. An example is Day 26: You are my only Master. Reading her devotion is an exhortation. We need to identify what we let master us and turn our hearts to the Master who loves us fiercely.

Sometimes the prayer blends reality with our desire, such as Day 29: I want to trust You. Whittle reminds us God knows the intentions of our heart. He is faithful and worthy to be trusted with our whole being.

I recommend this little book. It is an encouragement to express our heart to God, not in lengthy prayers but in short and meaningful ones. It is a good book for those wanting to communicate their feelings to God but don't know how. Petitions, giving thanks, praise, all kinds of heart felt prayers are included. The forty devotions could be used as a Lenten emphasis on passionately communicating with God. But don't wait until then to relate to God from your heart.

You can read an excerpt here.

My rating: 5/5 stars.

Lisa Whittle is a speaker, Bible teacher, and the author of six books. She is a wife and mom and is grateful to be a work in progress. She lives in North Carolina. You can find out more at

Harvest House Publisher, 176 pages.

I received a complimentary copy of this book through Icon Media. My comments are an independent and honest review.

Monday, October 9, 2017

God's Best-Kept Secret by Mark Maulding

Maulding writes about the identity stolen from us in the Fall and how our identity is restored to us when we believe in Jesus for salvation. Satan would like to destroy us with lies about our identity but our new self is the deepest core of who and what we are. (Loc 868/3218)

He writes about the fallacy of the civil war within, the “two self” teaching, a cunning ploy of the devil. “...[T]he Bible says our 'old self' is no longer in play after we become Christians.” (Loc 868/3218) He references Romans 6:6, 2 Corinthians 5:17, and Galatians 2:20. The old self is gone and there is only the new person in Christ.

He does distinguish the old self and the flesh. “The word flesh represents all the ways people have learned to cope with life's challenges apart from dependence on Christ.” (Loc 940/3218) We can still live independently of God, living according to the “flesh.”

He also writes that we must know we are righteous to grow spiritually mature. That righteousness is our identity in Christ. “We truly live our lives in a manner consistent with who we believe we are in our hearts.” (Loc 1269/3218) Jesus has done everything so that we are forgiven, accepted by God and we have rest in Him. That may be new to those who were taught that God sees us through Jesus or that God sees us as if we are righteous.

Maulding realizes that living in the new identity we have in Christ may take time. It takes work to change ingrained thinking. He provides suggestions for training our mind to believe the truth. We may have to take authority over Satan's lies and he helps us with that too.

My favorite part of the book was when Maulding reminded readers that the gospels contain ministry under the Old Covenant. Most of what Jesus taught was to Jewish people under the law. It wasn't until Jesus died and rose again that everything changed and there was a fundamental difference as to how God relates to us and we to Him. (Loc 1703/3218) He also has a very good section on suffering and brokenness.

This book is reminiscent of “exchanged life” books, such as those by Major W. Ian Thomas of the 1980s and the works of Hudson Taylor a century earlier. The concept of the exchanged life is somewhat controversial. Many theologians would not agree with all that Maulding writes. He attacks many sacred cows. I think this book contains important truth for every Christian.

You can find out more about the book at
You can watch a message from the author about the book here.
You can download an excerpt and watch a book trailer here.

My rating: 4/5 stars.

Mark Maulding is founder of Grace Life International, one of the largest Christian counseling and teaching ministries in America. A speaker, counselor, and leadership coach, Maulding is a regular blogger. He and his wife have four adult children and live near Charlotte, North Carolina. You can follow his blog here.

Baker Books, 224 pages.

I received a complimentary egalley of this book from the publisher. My comments are an independent and honest review.

Cancer, Faith, and Unexpected Joy by Becky Baudouin

Baudouin shares events and insights she experienced while her mother was dying and after her death. The chapters are short vignettes and are suitable for devotional reading. Questions are given at the end of the book for group discussion or personal reflection.

Baudouin also writes about experiences earlier in life. She stuttered as a child and writes about how that affected her in childhood and later. She shares how she learned to not be afraid, turning her worries into prayers.

She believes God allows trials to come our way and that He is always working for our good. Our dependence on Him is what matters most. (56) With that in view, Baudouin writes about being with her mother during the cancer and her feelings after her mother's death. My favorite part of this narrative was when her mother was near death. Heaven became much more real to her. I had found the same with my own mother.

Reading this book is an encouragement to those who feel called by God to write an inspirational memoir. Here is a quote I liked and think explains the motive for Baudouin writing this book: “When God heals us, he turns our shame into our story.” (84) One could say the same about grief or tragedy. Each of us has a story we can tell.

I recommend this book for those facing the death of a loved one or having recently experienced it. It would be a good book for a grief recovery group to read.

You can read an excerpt here.

My rating: 4/5 stars.

Becky Baudouin is a writer and former columnist at Chicago's Daily Herald. For over a decade, she has helped lead marriage and grief workshops, and is now also a speaker for MOPS. She lives in the Chicago area with her husband and their three daughters. You can find out more at

Kregel Publications, 176 pages.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher. My comments are an independent and honest review.

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Blind Spot by Dani Pettrey

This is the third novel in the Chesapeake Valor series and I highly recommend that the others be read before this one. There is much in this novel that relies on events in the previous books. The interaction of the major characters may not make much sense unless the reader is familiar with the back story of their relationships.

I was a bit surprised at the amount of romance in this novel. It seemed to overshadow the suspense aspect of the story. At times the romantic interludes seemed odd as they occurred during times when the agents should have been on high alert.

The plot was two pronged. Some on the team were working on solving a murder. Others on the team were working on a human trafficking case with a very possible connection to a future terrorist attack. The narrative alternates between the teams. I thought the plot of the murder was a little weak. The human trafficking case alone would have made for a good novel. I think a single case would have allowed for a deeper plot and deeper character development.

I do recommend this novel to those who enjoy a romantic suspense that emphasizes the romance aspect.

You can download an excerpt here.

My rating: 4/5 stars.

Dani Pettrey is a former homeschooling mom and author whose novels have sold more than 300,000 copies. You can find out more at

Bethany House Publisher, 336 pages.

I received a complimentary egalley of this book from the publisher. My comments are an independent and honest review.

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Rhinestones on my Flip-Flops by Jane Jenkins Herlong

Just like sugar makes medicine taste better, humor sometimes makes spiritual truth easier to assimilate. Herlong gives us some crazy stories interwoven with spiritual truth to help readers thrive in the midst of life's challenges. This is a book for women only as there are some topics and stories I don't think men would like at all.

I like how Herlong manages to derive spiritual lessons from some of the craziest experiences. I mean, how many beauty pageant contestants get prepared by a funeral home owner? But it worked because she ended up Miss South Carolina years ago. She also uses stories of women in the Bible as teaching examples.

But this book is not all laughs. Herlong tackles some serious issues too, like grief. She also has some great suggestions for being a wise woman. My favorite part of the book was on the example of Ruth. She was a hard worker, consistent, and reliable. She had no sense of entitlement and no expectations. She was not too proud for hard work.

I'm from the Pacific Northwest and some of Herlong's southern humor was a bit much for me, almost bordering on the profane. I do recommend this book to those who like a dose of humor with their spiritual lessons. Bless your heart.

My rating: 4/5 stars.

Jane Jenkins Herlong is an award-winning author, Southern humorist, speaker, singer, and Sirius XM comedian. She was recently inducted into the Speaker Hall of Fame. She has also achieved the distinction of Certified Speaking Professional by the National Speakers Association. She is the author of several books and the mother of two adult children. She and her husband live on the family peach farm in South Carolina. You can find out more about her and see some of her humor at

FaithWords, 240 pages.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher. My comments are an independent and honest review.

Friday, October 6, 2017

Choosing Donald Trump by Stephen Mansfield

The polls didn't give Trump much of a chance to become president. Yet he is now what some describe as the most powerful man in the world. How did that happen? Having read a biography about Trump, I was well aware of his character. I was shocked when I found out that Trump won the votes of 81 percent of white evangelicalism. (Loc 1260/2679) How did that happen?

Mansfield has done an excellent job of explaining how Trump was elected and the particular role of the conservative Christians in that accomplishment. He identifies the anger of Christians, feeling that the country they knew was slipping away. They wanted change at almost any cost. Trump won them over by promising to give their country back to them. (Loc 1282/2679) He won over Christian leaders by promising to abolish the Johnson Amendment, the law restricting pastors from speaking openly on political issues or endorsing candidates from the pulpit. (Loc 1314/2679)

Conservative Christians were so desperate for political power and change that they were willing to overlook Trump's lack of experience, his foul language, his bullying business practices, his disrespect and lack of compassion for the marginalized, his lack of familiarity with what it meant to be a Christian, his public boasts of marital infidelity, and his offensive behavior in general. (Loc 92/2679) Mansfield writes that Christian leaders were “interested in allying themselves to power at any moral cost.” (Loc 241/2679) Other Christians believed God had called and would use an immoral Trump much as God had used an immoral Cyrus in the Old Testament. (Loc 1944/2679)

Mansfield explores the spirituality of Trump and covers the great influence of Norman Vincent Peale in the distant past and Paula White in the recent past. Mansfield is direct on criticizing Trump's claim to be a Christian, noting his lack of knowledge of Christians things and his lack of moral character. (Loc 337/2679)

Mansfield also explains that conservative Christians have now wed themselves to Trump. They are responsible for putting Trump in the White House. They took a risk and now they must reconcile what the Trump administration becomes to what they believe about God and truth. (Loc 1490/2679) Mansfield also writes of the prophetic voice that must come from Christian leaders as Trump will need spiritual counsel.

Those Christian who voted for Trump need to read this book to understand the ramifications of their choice. Those who did not vote for Trump need to read this book to understand how we got to this place in American history.

You can read an excerpt here.

My rating: 5/5 stars.

Stephen Mansfield is the New York Times bestselling author of The Faith of George W. Bush, The Faith of Barack Obama, and Lincoln's Battle with God, among other works of history and biography. Founder of The Mansfield Group, a research and publishing firm, he is also an in demand speaker and consultant. He holds a doctorate in history and literature. He and his wife live in Nashville, Tennessee, and Washington, DC. You can find out more at

Baker Books, 208 pages.

I received a complimentary egalley of this book from the publisher. My comments are an independent and honest review.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Writing the Heart of Your Story by C S Lakin

Why would I, a book reviewer, read a book about writing a novel? This book has helped me to differentiate between a good novel and a great one. I now know all of the elements that make up a captivating novel. I also now know why I rarely give a novel five stars in a review. I now know the exceptional work it takes to craft a great plot and develop characters that are memorable. Many authors just do not bother with all that work.

A particular aspect of this book I really appreciated was Lakin emphasizing the importance of the first paragraph. Authors need to capture readers immediately. So many times I have had to slog through pages of the introduction of characters and settings before a hint of the plot was evident. If I hadn't made a commitment to the publisher or author to review the book, I would have quit reading it. Nancy Pearl, with the Seattle Public Library, suggests giving a book the number of pages equal to 100 minus your age. The older I get, the more quickly an author has to capture my attention.

I do recommend this book to authors and readers alike.

My rating: 4/5 stars.

C. S. Lakin is a novelist, copy editor, writing coach, mom, and more. She teaches the craft of writing at conferences and retreats. She lives near San Francisco. You can find out more at
Ubiquitous Press, 214 pages.

I received a complimentary digital copy of this book from the author. My comments are an independent and honest review.

37 Hours by J F Kirwan Giveaway

37 Hours

by J.F. Kirwan

on Tour October 1-14, 2017


The only way to hunt down a killer is to become one…

Imprisoned by MI6 for two long years in solitary, Nadia suddenly finds herself free again. But there is a price to pay for her release. Another dangerous and near impossible mission – retrieve the Russian nuclear warhead stolen by her old nemesis, the deadliest of terrorists.
But he is always one step ahead, and soon Nadia finds herself at the front line of preventing London from disappearing into a cloud of ash. Only this time, she is ready to pull the trigger at any cost.
And with the clock counting down from 37 hours, time is running out…

My Review:

I liked this novel of international intrigue. Having read the first in the series, I was familiar with the characters. Nadia is a tough woman and a different kind of heroine, an assassin. The suspense is nearly continuous as Nadia is determined to find the nefarious Salamander and kill him before he does the same to her.

The plot is a good one, with a nuclear war head being stolen. Salamander is a clever man and manages to be one step ahead of the Russians and MI6. The suspense increases as it becomes apparent Salamander has big plans for the weapon. The plot is complex, with many characters and locations. There is a great deal of revenge going on for past deeds and the death toll is pretty impressive. There is plenty of under water action too, Kirwan's area of expertise.

A strong female lead character and lots of international intrigue and suspense made for a good story. The adventure is not over yet so I will be looking for the sequel.

You can read my review of the first novel in this series, 66 Metres, here.

My rating: 4/5 stars.

Book Details:

Genre: Thriller
Published by: Harper Collins
Publication Date: March 2017
Number of Pages: 315
ID: B01N3KP711 (ASIN) 9780008226978 (BN)
Series: Nadia Laksheva Spy Thriller Series, Book 2 | 37 Hours is a Stand Alone Novel (You're welcome to read/review 66 Metres if you'd like)
Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iTunes | Goodreads

Read an excerpt:

Vladimir was cuffed and hooded, but his guards had made a fatal mistake. His hands were behind him, but not attached to the inner structure of the military van, a standard Russian UAZ 452 – he’d know those rickety creaks and the pungent blend of oil and diesel anywhere. The vehicle trundled towards some unknown destination where he would be interrogated, beaten some more, then shot in the back of the head.
Three of the four men chattered as they picked up speed down a straighter road. Their second mistake. Clearly they weren’t Special Forces – Spetsnaz – like he’d been until recently. They were regular army. He’d only seen the two heavies who’d snatched him from breakfast with his daughter. Now he knew there were four – one other had engaged in the banter, another had remained silent but was referred to as the butt of several bawdy jokes. The hierarchy of the men was also clear. The leader was in the front passenger seat, the silent one the driver, leaving the two musclemen in the back with him.
He waited. They’d been driving for an hour or so, initially dirt tracks, now a highway, which meant they were on the E119 to Vostok. If they turned right, he had a chance, as they would have to cross the Volga River. Then he would make his move.
If they turned left, he was a dead man.
Vladimir wasn’t one for options, or for hedging his bets. Not a question of making the right choice, but of making the choice right. In all his missions he’d never cared much for a Plan B. Leave too many options open, and events control you. You invite failure.
The van would turn right.
Vladimir mapped the van inside his head. The van layout was standard: two seats in the front facing forward, two benches in the back facing each other. Two front doors on the driver and passenger side, a double door at the rear. He was on the left-side bench, a heavy beside him, one opposite. The leader was in the left-hand front seat, the driver on the right. He needed to know if there was anything between him and the driver, in front on the opposite side, such as a vertical strut, or a metal grill. Because if there was either of those things, his plan wouldn’t work.
Nobody had talked to him since his arrest. Why talk to a hooded, dead man? But they were military, or at least they had been at one stage or another, so it should work. He waited for a pause in their talk fuelled by bravado – they were probably wondering which one of them would get to pop him in the skull. He reckoned they’d make the driver do it. A rite of passage. Probably a rookie, not yet blooded.
The pause came.
‘Cigarette?’ he asked, nodding through his hood to the one opposite. ‘My last, we all know that.’
Silence, except for the van’s creaking suspension and the drone of its throaty engine. He imagined questioning looks from the musclemen to the leader, the driver fixing his eyes on the road, maybe a glance in the rear-view mirror.
The dead man had spoken.
A sigh, the rustle of clothing, a pocket unzipped, the sound of a cigarette tapped from the pack. He could smell the nicotine despite the strong diesel fumes. A hand heavy on his shoulder – the muscleman by his side – while the hood was pulled up, just above his mouth, by the one opposite. Vladimir felt cool air on his lips, and smelt the stale coffee breath of the man about to give him a cigarette.
The smack in the mouth wasn’t entirely unexpected. Stunned him all the same. He slid off the bench onto the floor, and while three of the men burst out laughing, he stretched out his left leg towards the rear of the driver’s seat – nothing in the way, no vertical strut. But there could still be a wire mesh separating the rear compartment from the front. He rocked back onto his knees, and addressed the one who’d hit him. He lowered his head, bychit-style, a bull about to charge, and spat out the words amidst spittle and blood from a split lip.
‘Mudak, suka, blyad!’
This time the punch was fully expected. He railed back and up, travelling with the force of the uppercut, his head in the gap between the driver and the leader. That cost him a whack from the latter on the top of his head. Didn’t matter. No wire mesh. Rough hands slotted him back on the bench where he’d started. Profanities poured forth. Nothing he hadn’t heard before, or said himself. His face stung. He ignored it. Things settled down. The banter resumed.
He began drawing long breaths, oxygenating his body. He was chilled, because he had no coat. The other men were wrapped in thick commando jackets. It was early spring, still cold. The Volga would be near freezing. Not a problem, he bathed in it every morning. For them, though, it was going to be a different story.
The van slowed. The tick, tick, tick of the indicator. They slowed down further. Stopped. A truck passed fast ahead of them, rocking the high suspension van in its wake. The leader bellowed a command, though he wasn’t stupid enough to name the destination. ‘This way, this way.’ Another lorry – no, a tractor, given the smell of manure – the leader cursing the young driver for not pulling out sooner. The engine revved, the gears engaged, the van pulled forward.
And turned right.
Excerpt from 37 Hours by J.F. Kirwan. Copyright © 2017 by J.F. Kirwan. Reproduced with permission from J.F. Kirwan. All rights reserved.

Author Bio:

After school J.F. Kirwan studied psychology, then worked in heavy industries, including offshore oil rigs in the North Sea, and nuclear power plants in the UK, US and Japan. Lately he’s been working with airplane safety, which enables him to travel to some far-flung places.
His job is about trying to prevent large-scale accidents. Having studied them for years gives him a sense of how catastrophic events start off slow, simmer awhile, then gather speed and accelerate towards the final event. He uses this experience when writing, and calls it tourniquet plotting. He also spent years as a martial artist, training in Hong Kong, and knows a thing or two about writing fight scenes. But his main passion is diving. He used to be an instructor, and has dived all over the world, and so all three books have an underwater element. Readers – whether divers or not – often say that the books are most vivid in the underwater scenes.
After a scuba-diving injury, and surgery on his back, he couldn’t dive for eighteen months. He missed it so much he started a novel about a young woman, Nadia, who was coerced into working for the Mafia. A fan of Lee Child’s Jack Reacher, as well as other thriller writers such as David Baldacci, Stieg Larsson and Andy McNab, he wanted to create a female protagonist who could mete out justice when required. What started out as a bit of fun gathered momentum as a couple of agents got interested, and then HarperCollins snapped it up with a three-book deal.

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