Tag Archives: international suspense fiction

First Line Friday — The Gryphon Heist

13 Sep

I started The Gryphon Heist by new-to-me author James R. Hannibal last night Wow, what a beginning! I can tell this story will be consuming my free time over the weekend. It appeals to my love of international intrigue. The hubs is going to love it too!

What are you reading this weekend? I’d love if you would share, then head over to Hoarding Books for more first line fun!



Talia Inger is a rookie CIA case officer assigned not to the Moscow desk as she had hoped but to the forgotten backwaters of Eastern Europe–a department only known as “Other.” When she is tasked with helping a young, charming Moldovan executive secure his designs for a revolutionary defense technology, she figures she’ll be back in DC within a few days. But that’s before she knows where the designs are stored–and who’s after them. With her shady civilian partner, Adam Tyler, Talia takes a deep dive into a world where only criminal minds and unlikely strategies will keep the Gryphon, a high-altitude data vault, hovering in the mesosphere.

Even Tyler is more than he seems, and Talia begins to wonder: Is he helping her? Or using her access to CIA resources to pull off an epic heist for his own dark purposes?

In this Ocean’s Eleven-meets-Mission Impossible thriller, former tactical deception officer and stealth pilot James R. Hannibal offers you a nonstop thrill ride through the most daring heist ever conceived.


James R. Hannibal (Lt. Col., USAF Reserve), is  the author of Shadow Catcher and Wraith. He is a graduate of the U.S. Air Force Academy who has flown the A-10 Warthog, the MQ-1 Predator drone, and the top secret B-2 Stealth Bomber, totaling over 1000 combat and combat support hours. He regularly reviews terrorism-related nonfiction for the New York Journal of Books.

Audiobook Mini-Review: The Third Target

20 Feb

When New York Times foreign correspondent J. B. Collins hears rumors that an al-Qaeda splinter cell ― ISIS ― has captured a cache of chemical weapons inside Syria, he knows this is a story he must pursue at all costs. Does the commander of the jihadist faction really have weapons of mass destruction? If so, who is the intended target? The U.S.? Israel? Or someone else? With tensions already high, the impending visit of the American president to the region could prove to be the spark that sets off an explosion of horrendous proportions. Knowing that terrorist forces are already trying to bring down two Arab governments in the region ― Iraq and Syria ― can Collins uncover the truth before it’s too late? Or will the terrorists succeed in setting their sights on the third target and achieving genocide?

Joel C. Rosenberg (http://www.joelrosenberg.com) is a New York Times bestselling author of 13 novels and five nonfiction books, with nearly 5 million copies sold.

He has been interviewed on hundreds of radio and TV shows, including ABC’s Nightline, CNN, CNN Headline News, C-SPAN, Fox News, MSNBC, The History Channel, The Rush Limbaugh Show, The Sean Hannity Show, and The Glenn Beck Show. His articles and columns have been published by National Review,FoxNews.com, CNN.com, the Jerusalem Post, World magazine, and the Washington Times, among others. He has been profiled by the New York Times, the Washington Times, and the Jerusalem Post.

Joel has spoken to audiences and met with religious and government leaders all across the U.S. and Canada and around the world, including Israel, Iraq, Egypt, Jordan, Morocco, the UAE, Turkey, Afghanistan, Russia, Germany, France, Belgium, Italy, India, South Korea, and the Philippines. He has also addressed audiences at the White House and the Pentagon, addressed members of Congress on Capitol Hill, members of the Canadian Parliament in Ottawa, and a conference held at the European Union Parliament in Brussels.

He is the founder and chairman of The Joshua Fund (http://www.joshuafund.com), a nonprofit educational and charitable organization he and his wife launched in 2006 to mobilize Christians to “bless Israel and her neighbors in the name of Jesus, according to Genesis 12:1-3.”
Joel’s books, most of which are published in numerous languages.

For more information on conferences Joel organizes, please visit http://www.epicenterconference.com. You can find his blog at https://flashtrafficblog.wordpress.com/. You can follow him on Twitter @joelcrosenberg.


My Impressions:

My husband and I often listen to audiobooks when on road trips. Trying to find something a little different from our typical Agatha Christie mystery that both of us would enjoy, I settled on The Third Target by Joel Rosenberg. The first book in the J. B. Collins series, this book promised a ripped-from-the-headlines plot with plenty of action. And that is exactly what we got — ISIS terrorists intent on establishing a caliphate by destroying their enemies. The pace of the book is fast and furious as international correspondent Collins seeks to break the big story of ISIS with WMD. Both real and fictional characters populate the pages, making this novel credible and realistic. The terrorists are ruthless and cruel, and their actions are chilling. Moderate Arab leaders, Israeli leaders, and the US President play important roles in the parallel story line of a peace accord between the Palestinians and Israel. The two big stories intersect in explosive ways.

While we really enjoyed this international political thriller, we did find the main character’s actions sometimes at odds with his intuitive and savvy persona. My husband may have muttered stupid move a few times. LOL! The narrator of the book was also a bit too intense in his reading of the book. We sometimes had to take a break from the edge-of-seat narration. But in spite of these small cons, we recommend The Third Target for fans of the thriller genre. My husband has moved on to the second book, The First Hostage, listening to it every chance he gets.


Audience: adults.

To purchase, click HERE.

(I purchased the audiobook from Audible. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)



Book Club Selections for January!

1 Jan

I am so excited! Both of my book clubs are meeting this month. By The Book meets regularly every month, but Page Turners has been hit or miss for a while. But, we’ve got great books scheduled for both groups. Yoo hoo! What about you? What are you reading this month?


By The Book’s January Selection — Chosen People by Robert Whitlow

During a terrorist attack near the Western Wall in Jerusalem, a courageous mother sacrifices her life to save her four-year-old daughter, leaving behind a grieving husband and a motherless child.

Hana Abboud, a Christian Arab Israeli lawyer trained at Hebrew University, typically uses her language skills to represent international clients for an Atlanta law firm. When her boss is contacted by Jakob Brodsky, a young Jewish lawyer pursuing a lawsuit on behalf of the woman’s family under the US Anti-Terrorism laws, he calls on Hana’s expertise to take point on the case. After careful prayer, she joins forces with Jakob, and they quickly realize the need to bring in a third member for their team, an Arab investigator named Daud Hasan, based in Israel.

To unravel the case, this team of investigators travels from the streets of Atlanta to the alleys of Jerusalem, a world where hidden motives thrive, the risk of death is real, and the search for truth has many faces. What they uncover will forever change their understanding of justice, heritage, and what it means to be chosen for a greater purpose.


Page Turners’ January Selection — Becoming Mrs. Lewis by Patti Callahan

From New York Times bestselling author Patti Callahan comes an exquisite novel of Joy Davidman, the woman C. S. Lewis called “my whole world.” When poet and writer Joy Davidman began writing letters to C. S. Lewis — known as Jack — she was looking for spiritual answers, not love. Love, after all, wasn’t holding together her crumbling marriage. Everything about New Yorker Joy seemed ill-matched for an Oxford don and the beloved writer of Narnia, yet their minds bonded over their letters. Embarking on the adventure of her life, Joy traveled from America to England and back again, facing heartbreak and poverty, discovering friendship and faith, and against all odds, finding a love that even the threat of death couldn’t destroy. 

In this masterful exploration of one of the greatest love stories of modern times, we meet a brilliant writer, a fiercely independent mother, and a passionate woman who changed the life of this respected author and inspired books that still enchant us and change us. Joy lived at a time when women weren’t meant to have a voice — and yet her love for Jack gave them both voices they didn’t know they had. 

At once a fascinating historical novel and a glimpse into a writer’s life, Becoming Mrs. Lewis is above all a love story — a love of literature and ideas and a love between a husband and wife that, in the end, was not impossible at all.

Book Review: The Fragment

2 Mar

UnknownIt’s 1923, and a resilient Paris is starting to recover from the ravages of World War I and the Spanish Flu Epidemic. Enter young Muriel Ross, an amateur American photographer tasked with documenting the antiques that her employer, U.S. Senator Tom Bryan, has traveled to France in order to acquire. Although she’s exhilarated to have escaped her parents and the confines of their stifling Virginia home, Muriel has lingering questions about why the senator has chosen her for this grand adventure. Nevertheless, she blossoms in her new surroundings, soaking up Parisian culture and capturing the sights and sounds of Paris on her camera.

But events take a dangerous turn when she discovers that the senator is on a mission far more momentous—and potentially deadly—than a mere shopping trip. At the Cathedral of Notre Dame, Senator Bryan asks Muriel to photograph an astonishing artifact: a piece of the True Cross, discovered by Empress Helena—a historical figure familiar to readers of The Pilgrim. When rumors surface that another fragment has been unearthed, Muriel becomes enmeshed in a covert international alliance dedicated to authenticating the fragment—and protecting it from those who will stop at nothing to steal and discredit it.

davis-bunn-2015Davis Bunn is an award-winning novelist with total worldwide sales of seven million copies.

His work has been published in twenty languages, and critical acclaim includes four Christy Awards for excellence in fiction and his 2014 induction into the Christy Hall of Fame.

Davis divides his time between Florida and England, where he serves as Writer In Residence at Regent’s Park College at The University of Oxford. Visit Davis at http://www.davisbunn.com.


My Impressions:

The Fragment is an international suspense novel that clearly expresses the wonder of God while keep its readers on the edge of their seats. Centuries after Constantine’s mother, Helena, embarked on a quest to find the cross of Jesus (you can read my review of The Pilgrim HERE), a small group endures danger to retrieve one fragment of that cross. The culture and politics of the world in 1923 serves as a backdrop to this novel. The Fragment is Bunn at his best, and I highly recommend it.

Muriel Ross, aged 23, feels her dreams have come true as she wanders the streets of Paris photographing the people she encounters. She is traveling with a US Senator intent of retrieving ancient artifacts. Muriel is an expert employed with the Smithsonian and is crucial to his quest. But Muriel is unaware of the stakes involved — intrigue, danger and betrayal.

The Fragment is written with short chapters keeping the story fresh and fast-paced. The action is only interrupted by the sacred moments Muriel encounters. I loved the suspense, but the moments that Muriel is swept up in the her encounters with God were truly special. Plot takes center stage, but the few main characters are developed enough to get a sense of their thoughts, dreams, struggles and doubts. Muriel is an interesting heroine, at once daring and reflective. Her faith is challenged, but remains firm. For fans of history, The Fragment has it all — a great sense of place and time and well-researched details of the political atmosphere of Europe and the Middle East of the 1920s. Throughout The Fragment, Bunn weaves a faith message that never wavers. Not all the characters are believers, but those that are rely heavily on God’s promises in the midst of trials and tests.

Although the action is concluded in The Fragment, I sense that Bunn is not done with Muriel Ross. I hope that I am right. I would love more books like The Fragment.

Highly Recommended.

Audience: adults.

To purchase this book, click HERE.

(Thanks to the author for a review copy. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)

Book Review: The Columbus Code

18 Sep

UnknownThe Columbus Code is just that the true, historical puzzle few could comprehend until today. Consistent with great historical fiction of our time, New York Times best-sell author Mike Evans pens a story replete with intrigue, adventure, and brutal persecution. The story begins with John Winters, an American Secret Service agent, who unravels centuries old truths about Christopher Columbus and the real drama that lay behind those famous voyages to the Americas.


mike-evansMIKE EVANS is a #1 New York Times best-selling author with more than 25 million copies in print, including Christopher Columbus: Secret Jew. He lives in Fort Worth, Texas. He is the Chairman of the Board of the Ten Boom Museum in Holland (tenboom.org) and also of the Friends of Zion Museum in Jerusalem (FOZHC.org). Evans is founder of the Jerusalem Prayer Team (jpteam.org) and has sixty published books.


My Impressions:

The Columbus Code is an international suspense novel reminiscent of The DaVinci Code. Filled with ancient documents, terrorist threats and a secret society determined to establish a one-world government, Mike Evans’ novel is perfect for those who like conspiracy theories and last days narratives. I found this book unputdownable!

John Winters is a Secret Service agent on administrative leave due to an operation that went south. His past and present have collided to keep him off-duty until he opens up to his government psychiatrist. His strained relationships with his only daughter and much younger brother and recent death of his mother keep Winters isolated and paralyzed by fear and doubts. A simple request to continue his mother’s genealogical search turns deadly and threatens not only his family members but his country.

The Columbus Code is definitely plot-driven. Fast-paced and adrenaline-laced, it kept this reader turning the pages. I finished it in record time! The elements of secrets shrouded in history and mystery, a shadowy Brotherhood with evil intentions, and a conspiracy among nations to upset the US economy were interesting and seemed a bit too real. Although the emphasis was on plot, not character, I still connected with John, his daughter Maria and Sophie, an academic and love interest for John, and worried for their safety. Did I say the book seemed very real?! The author also includes hints of the End Times with references to the antichrist and blood moons. Some of the bad guys get away and some of the good guys are missing at the end, so I think there will probably be a sequel to come. I hope so, because The Columbus Code left me wanting more.


Audience: adults.

To purchase this book, click HERE.

(Thanks to Worthy Publishers for a review copy. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)


Book Review: Torn Asunder

30 Mar

Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 5:10

3763508.jpgAfter graduating from the Secret Seminary, Hannah and Simon are ready to return to their homeland. Their training has equipped them to carry the gospel to a country ravaged by darkness and despair. If necessary, they’re even prepared to face the North Korean labor camps, but the hardest part of their mission isn’t the hunger, cold, and incessant danger. The hardest part is cutting off contact with one another. In this world of spies, secret police, and informants, Simon and Hannah learn that staying together won’t just compromise their ministry. It could cost them both their lives.

Two undercover missionaries delivering a single message of hope. Two Christians willing to die for the sake of the Good News. One love – more powerful than terror, more beautiful than life, and more dangerous than either of them could possibly imagine.

A love so strong, nothing but the grave could overcome it.

Torn Asunder is part of the Whispers of Refuge series branched off from Alana Terry’s award-winning debut, The Beloved Daughter. These suspense novels tell the stories of contemporary North Koreans and can be read together or separately from Alana’s other books.


alana-terryAlana Terry is passionate about human-rights issues in North Korea and has devoted her writing to raise both awareness and funds to help North Korean refugees find freedom and safety. You can learn more about her work with Liberty in North Korea at alanaterry.com.


My Impressions:

Torn Asunder is the third book I have read by Alana Terry. Her subject matter, the plight of Christians in North Korea, does not lend itself to gentle reads. Terry never minces words when it comes to the brutality of the North Korean regime — the horror of the prison system is brought to light.  Neither does she stint on the power of God’s word and work within the Christian community in spite of the darkness that covers that country. If you are interested in the persecuted church, then Torn Asunder is a book you will want to read.

Hannah and Simon are recent graduates of a Secret Seminary operated by American missionaries in China. Former refugees, they are dedicated to crossing back into North Korean to accomplish whatever God wills for them. But the forces of evil will stop at nothing to eradicate the Christian church.

Torn Asunder has at its heart the continuing goodness and love of God towards the people of North Korea. Prisoners and guards are all victims to the inhumanity of the Pyongyang government. The novel explores what it really means to be a Christian when faced with persecution, torture, and starvation. Some of the characters succumb to the torture and abuse; others remain faithful. How would I fare in the circumstances the characters find themselves in? I cannot imagine. But in the face of men’s frailty, Terry illustrates a faithful God. One aspect I was especially struck by was the need to know Scripture, to have it hidden in the heart. When faced with extreme conditions, it was the only thing that the characters had left to cling to.

Torn Asunder is a faith-filled story of romance, suspense and survival. It is also a book sure to convict — persecuted brothers and sisters need our prayers.


Audience: adults.

(Thanks to the author for a review copy. The opinions expressed are mine alone.)

To purchase this book, click HERE.

Book Review: The Babylon Contingency

16 Feb

641209Investigating a burglary at an English country house, Detective Chief Inspector Robbie Peele comes face to face with one of the most mysterious objects in world archaeology, the Phaestos Disk—and with the Middle Eastern terrorist cell determined to steal it.

The vital clue is a long abandoned Muslim village in Crete, where a Victorian gentleman explorer witnessed horrors that were meant to be secret and recorded what he saw in coded diaries. Seeking the truth about the Phaestos Disk, Peele and his assistant, Sarah Shipton, are on the cusp of solving the mystery when they are caught in an ancient Egyptian burial chamber during an earthquake.

In the end Peele has to ask far harder questions than simply who committed the original burglary. The origins of the Phaestos Disk are inextricably bound up with the Middle East peace process in ways that frustrate and astound him.


Clifford Longley is an author, broadcaster and journalist who has specialized since 1972 in the coverage and analysis of British and international affairs. For twenty years he wrote a weekly column in The Times. He now contributes to Thought for the Day on BBC Radio 4 and appeared regularly on The Moral Maze.

My Impressions:

I like to read/review books for Kregel/Lion Hudson because their British novels explore subjects and describe culture much different than those found in American Christian fiction. And while they often include some profanity and adult subject matter (this novel does) also not found in their American counterparts, they usually have a Christian worldview that I can agree with. That’s why I signed up for the blog tour of The Babylon Contingency by Clifford Longley. I must confess I have mixed feelings about this book.

DI Robert (Robbie) Peele thinks he is following up on a routine break-in at a manor house when he is plunged into a case complete with international terrorists, shadowy manipulation by intelligence agencies, a centuries old archaeological find and a plot to bring down the state of Israel. Whew, that’s a lot for a Metropolitan Police detective! Along the way he encounters archaeologists with conflicting motives and allegiances. The back cover blurb assertion that archaeology is dangerous is spot on.

I really would not characterize The Babylon Contingency as Christian fiction. The reader will be hard pressed to find any characters who are Christians, let alone live their faith. There is one archaeologist who is a semi-practicing Catholic and one who is a Jew turned Catholic turned Jew turned . . . .  You get the picture. Most characters are atheists or agnostics or just-don’t-think-about-its. The worldview that Moses didn’t exist and that the Bible is a book of myths is their starting point in informing their world. This is the part I found most intriguing about the book. It provides insight into how those in the scientific/secular world view fundamentalist (that’s how evangelicals are described) Christians and their religion of delusion and deceit. I did not get the impression that the author believed this as well, just that he was describing what a very vocal interest group believes. For that I would recommend reading this novel. The mystery took a while to develop, but once the characters travel to Crete and Egypt, the action takes off. Robbie Peele is a good detective, if a bit world-worn and cynical. Other characters are interesting, yet are motivated by their own selfish desires or ideologies. Not really any that I could relate to or want to know.

An interesting read, but . . .  The Babylon Contingency is not one I would pick up again.

Audience: adults.

(Thanks to Kregel and Lion Hudson for a review copy. The opinions expressed are mine alone.)

To purchase this book, click HERE. It is currently $1.99 for Kindle.