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Monday, September 30, 2013

Monthly Reflections (#21) ~ September

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Monthly Reflections, where we take the time to reflect on the previous month.

My goals for September were...

To read 12 books

In September I...

Read 10 books

Books read:

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Favorite Read This Month:

My favorite read this month was Love's Awakening, but Trapped is a close second and I loved both Stranded and SEAL Under Siege.

Reviews:



My thoughts on September:

I didn't read nearly as much as I had hoped to this month, but I'm going to try and finish one more book tonight. If I'm able to finish it in time, I'll update this post. :)

Looking ahead:

My goal for October:

Finish 11 books
Finish the A to Z Reading Challenge and the What's in a Name Reading Challenge

If you want to do your own Monthly Reflections, feel free to grab the button and post about it on your blog, then leave a comment with the URL - otherwise, please share your thoughts in a comment!

Now it's your turn! What did you accomplish in September, what do you hope to accomplish in October?
Sunday, September 29, 2013

#FallIntoReading Wrap-Up Post


The Fall Into Reading read-a-thon has ended. I didn't quite reach my goal of finishing four books, but I was really close! 

I finished these three books:


I also read about a third of Ever After and a little under half of Fired Up.


Plus I read/started a few other books. All in all, I'm happy with what I was able to read this week. :) What did you read?

Review & Giveaway! SEAL Under Siege by Liz Johnson


SEAL Under Siege by Liz Johnson
Love Inspired Suspense / 2013
Find on: Amazon, Goodreads

About the book:
SHE'S NOT SAFE YET

When Staci Hayes is rescued from a Mideast prison by navy SEAL Tristan Sawyer, she thinks the ordeal is over. But back in San Diego, a new threat arises. Staci has information that could prevent a hit on U.S. soil, and the terrorist will stop at nothing to silence her. Tristan insists on being her bodyguard, but his constant presence makes her long for things beyond her reach. Protecting Staci is the second chance Tristan needs to put the past behind him. Yet with a spy on the naval base, anyone could be a threat. Can he offer her safety…and love?

Men of Valor: 
These navy SEALS were born to excel….

My rating:
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My thoughts:

SEAL Under Siege is the second book I've read by Liz Johnson and another great suspense read. I really liked the characters and loved how Matt and Ashley (from A Promise to Protect) were in this book a lot - it was neat to see what was going on in their lives.

The plot to SEAL Under Siege was very interesting and the story held my attention. There were a lot of suspenseful moments, which I loved, and the romance was sweet.

Overall, SEAL Under Siege was a great Love Inspired Suspense novel and I recommend it to fans of romantic suspense. I look forward to reading more of Johnson's books and hope she writes one about Willie. :)

*I received this book for free for my honest review. I was not required to give a positive review, only my honest opinion - which I've done. All thoughts and opinions expressed are my own.* 

Was my review helpful? If so, please click "yes" on Amazon. Thanks!

Book Excerpt!


Excerpt from SEAL Under Siege by Liz Johnson, published by Love Inspired Suspense
Chapter One
Lt. Tristan Sawyer whispered into the mic that brushed the corner of his mouth. “Rock, are you in position?”
Night hung over him like a blanket, wrapping up all of his senses, except his hearing, as he waited for the sound of his senior chief’s voice. “Affirmative.”
Across the street Petty Officer Will Gumble lurked next to the window of a crumbling single-story home. The house—not even a mile from the Persian Gulf—had been cleaned out, probably weeks ago, and Willie G. had swept it again to make sure there wouldn’t be any surprises when they moved on their target.
He took two short breaths and lifted his night vision goggles, giving the street another check. It was deserted except for the five stonelike figures hidden along the street. He only spotted them only because he knew they were there. He’d scouted and scoped each location in preparation for this moment. He’d studied the maps and floor plans, packed his gear and prepared his mind.
All for this moment.
His blood began to pump harder, picking up speed. He tightened then loosened his grip on the weapon in his hand, forcing his breath into a steady rhythm and his heart into an even pattern.
He was ready. But he had to wait for the signal that their boats were nearly in place at the extraction point. If they moved too soon, they’d recover the “packages”—three American hostages—but have no place to deliver them. If they waited too long, they left the inflatable boats open to discovery.
Timing was everything, so he schooled his muscles, keeping them alert yet relaxed until the signal.
A double click came through his earpiece.
Time to rock and roll.
“Let’s go.” Just like they’d practiced, he swung around the back of the building, where Senior Chief Matt Waterstone, also known as Rock, wrenched open a window on the basement level and slid into the darkness below. Tristan followed suit until his shoulder caught on the frame. He wiggled, his feet still not quite on the floor.
The team was on radio silence for this part of the mission, but he didn’t need to see or hear his best friend to know Matt was laughing at him.
After what felt like an hour suspended by the snagged shoulder of his battle dress uniform, he reached across his body and yanked on it until it let go with a tear.
He dropped to his feet, squatting and squinting into the dark, his weapon at the ready. On the far side of the box of a room, the door cracked open, and light filtered in. The weak sliver of a stream made it only halfway across the floor, but it did illuminate Matt’s gloved hand on the edge of the door.
Tristan moved forward, staying low. They’d done this enough to know the drill. He would move first down the hallway, Matt positioned at his six—covering his blind spot. Back to back, they’d sweep the basement, looking for the packages. Intel said there were two women and a man. They had been held here for at least three weeks, though word of their captivity had just reached the SEAL teams.
Only God knew what the three had endured. At least two of them were in their sixties. The people of Lybania tended to respect their elders. As for the girl in her twenties…
A shiver ran down his spine. He couldn’t think about that. He had to get her free and secure first. Once they were all safely out of this pit and away from men who kidnapped aid workers for no reason, he’d let the ones trained to deal with her situation handle it.
For now, he’d do what he was trained to.
Matt motioned for them to stop, opening a door with the toe of his boot. He must have encountered less resistance than he expected, since it flung open like a piece of paper on hinges, flapping against the opposite wall.
Tristan shook his head at Matt, who shrugged a shoulder and offered a smirk by way of apology for the unnecessary noise. Luckily, the walls of the building could have been from the biblical era, all crumbling blocks that muffled errant doors and shuffling feet. Matt led the way into the room, clearing it before stepping back into the hallway.
With two fingers, Tristan pointed toward the stairwell at the end of the hall. Matt nodded, taking the rear as they climbed from the dimness of the basement into relative light. It wasn’t much brighter than a full moon, but compared to the inky darkness below, the second floor radiated, removing any possibility of hiding in the shadows.
His earpiece clicked twice, and he swung his fingers in a quick barrel roll at Matt. They had fifteen minutes to get the American prisoners and get them to the extraction point on the gulf. No time to waste.
Matt nodded, held a hand to his ear, and motioned to the door on his left. At least two voices carried through the wall, their Arabic words getting louder.
“Cards,” he mouthed. Apparently someone was cheating. If there was no honor among thieves, there was less among kidnapping terrorists.
Tristan motioned that they should pass the door without incident if possible. Their mission wasn’t to take down this cell or alert anyone to their presence. Their only job was to snatch and go.
The door to the room with the card game stood open about three inches, so he held up his hand, waiting for another argument as a diversion. They didn’t disappoint, tempers exploding like one of Matt’s C-4 bricks. In the fray the two SEALs bolted down the hall, passing three closed doors on each side.
An empty chair sat outside the last door on the right, the guard most likely wrapped up in the card game they’d passed.
Tristan jiggled the handle of the door, but it stuck in place. In a flash Matt was there by his side, his lock picking kit in hand.
Tristan had known Matt since the first day of Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL training and in all that time, he had yet to see a lock his friend couldn’t pick. Man, it was a good thing Matt was on the teams. He’d be dangerous on the wrong side of the law.
Tristan held his weapon at the ready, standing guard until the old lock popped, and the door swung in. He backed into the room, letting Matt take the first sweep and shutting out most of the noise and light from the hall with the closed door.
The space was empty save for two figures huddled in the corner, hands clasped together. He held a finger to his lips as he squatted in front of the shadowed, grandfatherly man. “I’m with the United States Navy.” He whispered the words, which seemed intent on filling the entire room. “Are you Judith and Hank Timmons?”
The man’s gray hair bobbed into the shard of light coming from the hallway. “Yes.” It seemed to take all his energy just to utter the single syllable, and he slumped against his wife.
Tristan offered them both a reassuring grin and gently squeezed the man’s boney elbow. “We’re going to get you out of here. But I need you to move quickly and quietly and do exactly what I say. Do you understand?”
The couple nodded in unison, their faces drawn and weary but their eyes alight with hope. For good reason.
“This is my teammate.” He motioned to Matt’s towering shadow. “Ma’am, this is the senior chief. He’s going to help you up and out the window.”
She shook her head, holding on to her husband’s arm with both hands. “I won’t leave him.”
“He’ll be right behind you.”
Matt squatted down in front of the woman and held out his hand. “I promise you’ll be okay. There are more of our team outside, waiting for you. You don’t want to make them miss the boat out of here, do you?”
She frowned for a split second before Matt had her on her feet and shuffling toward the window. Mr. Timmons wasn’t going to let his wife out of his sight, so he pushed himself off the dusty floor, following closely behind.
Tristan glanced over his shoulder toward the empty hallway before whispering into his mic. “Second story, northwest corner.”
“Copy that.” Then a short pause before Willie continued. “We see you.”
As Matt slipped a harness around Mrs. Timmons, she clutched at his flak vest, shaking him. “You have to help Staci. They took her last week.”
“Do you know where they took her?”
Mrs. Timmons looked out the window she was about to be lowered through. “No.”
“It’ll be all right. Hang on tight and walk down the wall or you’ll scrape against it. Got it?” Matt scooped the nodding woman into his arms, sliding her feet-first through the window, lowering her on the rope that slipped expertly through his hands.
The rope went slack for a moment, and then it was tugged twice, the signal from Willie G. that the package had arrived to them. Matt pulled it back up and immediately hooked it to a harness under Mr. Timmons’s arms.
Tristan pressed his mic to his lip. “Second package on the way. The third has been moved. We’ll search the rest of the building and meet you at the extraction point.”
Willie clicked his mic twice—roger that—as Mr. Timmons slid through the window with a little help from Tristan and Matt.
Just as the rope went slack again, the door behind them cracked with the force of an angry kick. He and Matt both dove to the darkest parts of the room along opposite walls.
As he rolled, Tristan pulled his knife from his boot. Gunfire would draw unwanted attention from neighbors, which the team on the ground didn’t need as they hustled two dehydrated, malnourished seniors down dark alleys.
The two new occupants swore loudly in Arabic as they ran into the room. They asked over and over where the old man and woman had gone, their words carrying down the hall where several more angry voices joined the fray.
Tristan caught Matt’s eye across the room, and didn’t even have to signal. They knew what they were doing, knew what had to happen. Simultaneously, they each aimed for the man closest to them, quickly rendering each harmless with a blow to the neck.
His hand tingled as his Lybanian target—or “tango,” as Tristan had been trained to call them—crumbled to the ground, and he wiggled his fingers. But there wasn’t time to think about it more than that as five more men barreled into the room.
Letting his training and survival instincts take over, he spun to the left and dropped to the floor just as one of the men fired his semiautomatic into the wall. So much for avoiding gunfire. With a sweep of his leg, Tristan took the tango down at his ankles, even as his gun continued to discharge.
Caught by one of the stray bullets, another tango yelped and crashed into the wall, shaking the whole house, like the ancient mud blocks were just waiting for an excuse to give way.
As he slumped to the floor, the tango yelled at one of the others to go kill the girl. The last to enter the room spun and ran back the way he had come.
“Be right back,” Tristan yelled at Matt, who just grunted in response.
He charged down the narrow corridor toward the stairwell, praying he wouldn’t be too late to save the last package.



Enter for a chance to win a copy of SEAL Under Siege courtesy of Liz Johnson! Giveaway is open INT. Ends 10/13.

How to enter: Sign into the Rafflecopter form below (it might take a moment to load) and click “enter” on each of the entries you complete. Commenting alone will not get you entered – you must click enter on the form. Happy entering!

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Saturday, September 28, 2013

Review: Stranded by Dani Pettrey


Stranded by Dani Pettrey
Alaskan Courage Series: Book Three
Bethany House / 2013
Find on: Amazon, Goodreads

About the book:
When Her Friend Goes Missing,
Every Minute Counts

Darcy St. James returns to Alaska to join a journalist friend undercover on the trail of a big story. But when Darcy arrives, she finds her friend has disappeared. Troubled by the cruise ship's vague explanation, Darcy uses her cover as a travel reporter to investigate further.

The last person Gage McKenna expects to see during his summer aboard a cruise ship leading adventure excursions is Darcy. And in typical Darcy fashion, she's digging up more trouble.

He'd love to just forget her—but something won't let him. And he can't help but worry about her as they are heading into more remote regions of Alaska and eventually into foreign waters. Something sinister is going on, and the deeper they push, the more Gage fears they've only discovered the tip of the iceberg.

My rating:
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My thoughts:

Stranded is the third book in Dani Pettrey's Alaskan Courage series (one of my favorite series), and another wonderful story! I still think my favorite is book two, Shattered, but I also loved this one. :)

The characters were so great! I knew from the previous books that I already loved the McKenna's, but I was pleasantly surprised by Gage - I didn't expect to find him so funny, but he made me laugh quite a few times. :) I also loved learning more about Jake - I was kind of surprised by his story and definitely felt for him.

A couple times the story repeated itself, but it was in a realistic way, as it was mostly the characters telling others about things that had happened.

The story was interesting and, even though I knew what was going on the entire time (because of a review that mentioned the plot), I was still engrossed in the story and didn't want to put it down! I ended up finishing Stranded in less than a day!

Overall, Stranded was a fantastic read that I loved! I can't wait to read Silenced (which I'm hoping is Kayden's story) when it releases. If you enjoy romantic suspense, then I most definitely recommend Stranded, but you might want to read Submerged and Shattered first, that way you'll know the McKenna history.

*I received a complimentary copy of this book from the author for my honest review. I was not required to give a positive review, only my honest opinion - which I've done. All thoughts and opinions expressed are my own.*

Friday, September 27, 2013

Weekend Wrap-Up (September 27th)


Weekend Wrap-up is where I share what I read this past week, am currently reading, and hope to read this coming week, and (when applicable) the current giveaways/giveaway winners. Occasionally I'll post some other stuff as well.

Feel free to join along and post your own Weekend Wrap-up on your blog/site (if you do, please leave the link in a comment so I can stop by) or, in a comment, share what you've accomplished (reading-wise) this past week. :)

 What I've read this week:


What I'm currently reading:

Fiction:




I'm in the middle of way too many books right now (and there's so many others I want to start!). I'm hoping to finish Fired Up, Picket Fence Pursuit, and The Courting Campaign within the next couple days.

Nonfiction:


  What I hope to read next week:


I'm hoping to read at least two of these books next week. 

Reviews posted this week:


Current Giveaways:

Book Giveaway!



Day One

Day Two



Love Blooms in Winter by Lori Copeland
Book Giveaway!


Day Five


Day Six ~ Final Day!


~

There you have it, that is what I'm reading this week! What about you?