The Solid Grounds Coffee Company

Supper clubAuthor: Carla Laureano

Series: Supper Club Novel #3

Publisher: Tyndale House

Release Date: February 4, 2020

Rating: 5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

Another terrific installment to the Saturday Night Supper Club series!

Bryan Shaw is one of the best rock climbers in the world. After a climbing incident in Colombia involving his past flame, Bryan loses his sponsor, turning him into an unemployed hobbyist. The night before he plans to return to the States, Bryan is approached by a man who is in need on an interpreter to help with a ministry that converts farms used to grow drug products into coffee beans. This chance encounter leads to Bryan purchasing the coffee farm to see if he can put that BA degree he has to good use.

Ana Sanchez is a high-profile public relations specialist in Denver. She makes her living cleaning up other people’s messes and she is one of the best. When a high maintenance client puts her in the position of trying to cover up the drug overdose of an underage girl, Ana makes a judgement call, which saves the girls life but lands Ana on a paid suspension. Now with loads of time on her hands, she is not sure what to focus her time on.

When Bryan returns to Denver to start up a roastery business, he visits and old group of friends who run the Bittersweet Café. Ana is there too and while the two are polar opposites, Bryan offers Ana a business proposition to help get the roastery off the ground. She accepts the challenge and the two begin to work closely together. While neither is looking for a relationship, they become closer. Could this match bring fulfillment to their lives?

This series is such fun to read. Each installment has become like a member of the family or at least of the supper club on family and friends night. Even though this is the third in the series, it can easily be read as a stand-alone. I loved the story between Bryan and Ana. They both had to overcome their demons, Bryan in the early stages of the book and Ana in the later part, but they were still able to do it. Ana’s story spoke volumes to me. She had been through so much and always took failure as a personal blame and built walls up around herself so that even her most personal friends could not get through. Once those walls finally came down, she was a different person. I feel as though she could easily be one of my closest friends.

I’m not a coffee drinker, but I learned a lot about the process. It was very interesting to see what all goes into making a cup of coffee. Laureano did a lot of research into this process and if you love cover art, there is a story behind it that you can read about. If you haven’t picked up a supper club novel yet, then you need to grab a copy of one today!

I received a complimentary copy of this title from the publisher. The views and opinions expressed within are my own.

Mercy House

Mercy HouseAuthor: Alena Dillon

Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks

Release Date: February 11, 2020

Rating: 3 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

A very deep, difficult book containing lots of heavy topics. Not recommended for the faint of heart or young reader, but a good story nonetheless.

Mercy House is a safe place for abused women run by Sister Evelyn and a group of fellow nuns. Evelyn wants to help these abused women because she knows what it is like. When she was first starting out as a nun with the Catholic Church, she was abused and has held it inside that the very man who abused her is none other than Bishop Hawkins. The nuns must hide many of the ways they go about helping the women who come to Mercy House as the church would condemn their methods and shut them down. Evelyn must use all her resources to save the ones she has worked decades to help and vows to let nothing get in her way. Her courage and drive to save Mercy House pushes those within its walls to work just as hard to keep their doors open and not let someone in power run all over them.

The overall storyline was good demonstrating hope and overcoming such difficult obstacles when everything else is going against them. Evelyn is a strong protagonist that female readers will enjoy getting to know. I enjoyed the way she would stop at nothing to keep Mercy House open for those she cared about. The storyline and the strong characters are what kept me reading. There were several points I wanted to stop reading as the content was a little too graphic for my taste, but I’m glad that I persevered to finish the story. Between the use of very harsh language and graphic sex scenes, I was turned off of the story. While this wasn’t my cup of tea, I feel that there is an audience out there that will be very entertained by this story.

For those that are interested, check out more on the book page at Harper Collins.

I received a complimentary copy of this title from the publisher. The views and opinions expressed within are my own.

3 Words That Will Change Your Life

3 wordsAuthor: Mike Novotny

Publisher: Bethany House

Release Date: January 7, 2020

Rating: 4 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

Who knew three words in the right context could have so much meaning?

There are three words that we have likely all heard at some point in our lives. But maybe we hear them quietly, which suppresses the meaning. God is here. That is easy to glance at and read over without having any real feeling or indication that God is actually here. But if we look at it as GOD IS HERE, just by seeing it more pronounced we take more notice and can begin to seek out that GOD is, in fact, here!

The synopsis of this book had me very intrigued and the content was good. The author begins by being easily relatable to anyone who has searched out God in the past and not received a strong feeling in return. He explains that by just reading over those three powerful words, we can be missing out on a powerful relationship because God is Here and he wants to be with us. Novotny does a good job debunking some different myths/beliefs and also throws around a lot of lighthearted humor to keep the reader moving.

I received a complimentary copy of this title from the publisher. The views and opinions expressed within are my own.

The Land Beneath Us

landAuthor: Sarah Sundin

Series: Sunrise at Normandy #3

Publisher: Revell

Release Date: February 4, 2020

Rating: 5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

An ending that brings the series full circle and shows that three brothers can all be prodigal sons.

In 1943, Clay Paxton was betrayed by his two older brothers. After an unfortunate incident that led to all three brothers quarreling, his older brother Wyatt left out of town and took all of money Clay had saved to go to college for medical school. Later that same day, Clay found his other brother and girlfriend together in a more than friendly embrace. Now Clay has joined the Army and is working on becoming a Ranger at Camp Forrest, Tennessee. He has managed to put his past and his faults behind him as he focuses on becoming a Ranger. He knows that the battle ahead will be difficult, but he knows he will be a hero to those around him because he has dreams. In these dreams he dies in battle and he is looking forward to it.

Leah Jones has finally left the orphanage behind and is excited that her love for books has landed her a job as an assistant librarian at Camp Forrest. She hopes to be able to find the original orphanage she was left at with her two baby sisters and find a path to reunite with them. But one night outside the library she is brutally attacked but saved by her friend Private Paxton. When the results of the attack are life altering, Clay proposes a marriage of convenience, which will leave Leah with death benefits after he dies in battle. But the one thing that never of them expected was life without the other.

This was a fantastic conclusion to the Sunrise at Normandy series. Each book told the story of a wayward brother that ended up in a branch of the service at D-Day in Normandy. The final book wraps up all the chaos caused by a single event perfectly. I thoroughly enjoyed getting to see each brother grow in character in their respective book. Clay’s maybe the most difficult because he was wronged by both brothers. He was a genuinely nice guy, but he had a lot of personal growth to do and demons to overcome. It was interesting how each book related to the parable of the prodigal son. Both Wyatt and Adler were the brothers that left, but Clay was the brother that stayed and had to overcome the feelings he had developed against his older brothers.

Leah also had a lot of growth occur in this book. She started out as a naïve character, but quickly got hard knock lessons in a hurry. As a reader, you feel protective of her, especially after the ordeal that she goes through. The women in each book are just as unique as the brothers and it is fun to see how that complement each other. I also enjoyed getting to have some dialogue with the Paxton parents and see the family dynamic that occurred.

I love historical fiction during this era and Sundin makes the books very enjoyable. The romance isn’t forced and encouraged to play out. As a reader, I wanted to see these two get together and had a fretful moment at the end when I thought it might fall apart because of false pretenses.

One of the scenes in this book includes a rape. While not graphic, it may make some readers uncomfortable or cause distress for any reader that has been in this situation.

I received a complimentary copy of this title from the publisher. The views and opinions expressed within are my own.

Interested in the first two books of this series?  Check out the reviews for The Sky Above Us and The Sea Before Us.

Ghosts of the Missing

ghostsAuthor: Kathleen Donohoe

Publisher: Mariner Books

Release Date: February 11, 2020

Rating: 3 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

A mystery that had so much potential, but with a slow start that fell flat for me.

Adair spent her childhood in Culleton, New York, a town with a lot of history. She moved to Brooklyn to leave her past behind and try and make it as an artist. It doesn’t take long though before she decides to return to the old Moye House, a writer’s retreat, to see what she can accomplish. However, she is not the only one staying at the Moye house; Ciaran is staying at the house with hopes to solve the mystery of what happened to her sister, Rowan Kinnane who also happens to be Adair’s best friend. Together they work to investigate what really happened.

I wanted to like this, I really did, but after the first hundred pages of crossover between time periods and characters, I just found it less and less interesting. The mystery itself was intriguing but the set up just didn’t come off the way as intended in order to enjoy the story. I really wanted it to start off with a bang and quickly draw me in, but it takes a while to really get traction. Some readers will likely enjoy this book as they may enjoy a slower beginning that builds up tension in the story to the end. I feel that if Donohoe would have gone with less switches between time periods and points of view, it would have been easier to follow and connect with the story and characters. The mystery was what pulled me in, and I love mysteries, but unfortunately this just wasn’t my cup of tea. I recommend it to readers that enjoy the journey throughout the book instead of the final destination.

I received a complimentary copy of this title from the publisher. The views and opinions expressed within are my own.

Freaky in Fresno

FreakyAuthor: Laurie Boyle Crompton

Publisher: Blink YA Books

Release Date: February 11, 2020

Rating: 4 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

Teen girls will enjoy this book!

Cousins, Ricki and Lana, are as opposite as can be. Ricki is a lover of horror movies. Lana is consumed by her online persona, “Lookie Lana”, a makeup and glamour guru. Once close, the cousins grew apart as they found different interests and have developed a general dislike of each other. To help remedy this, their Aunt May gives them a pink convertible, just like the one their grandmother used to own. While fighting over who gets to take the car to their big night, the drive-in theater’s reopening for Ricki or Lana’s online personality festival, they receive an electrical jolt that causes them to switch bodies. While trying to find clues and keep things straight with their boyfriends, the two begin to redevelop their bond. Through a series of close calls in each other’s bodies, they fight to get back to normal before evening when they must go to their important events. The girls learn things about each other and themselves. Also disconnected, their mothers also are reunited by the girls’ switch.

Freaky in Fresno is yet another twist on the old “Freaky Friday” concept. Unfortunately for adults who have read the original and been through a few of the adaptations of the original story, this book comes across as incredibly cheesy and predictable. It’s hard to make a used concept new and fresh. That being said, for today’s teens, this book will be fun and enjoyable, especially for teenage girls. At time, it was a little difficult keeping up with the girls as they were not in their own body. There were some humorous moments as the girls fought for each other and in the end there was a positive message.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher. The views and opinions expressed within are my own.

A Cold Trail

A cold trailAuthor: Robert Dugoni

Series: Tracy Crosswhite #7

Publisher: Thomas & Mercer

Release Date: February 4, 2020

Rating: 5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

Dugoni has done it again with the newest edition to his Traci Crosswhite series! Fans will not want to miss this latest thrill ride!

Tracy Crosswhite hasn’t been to her hometown of Cedar Grove since she came for the retrial of her sister’s murder. When her husband, Dan, wants to com back to vacation in his parents’ old house while their home in Seattle is getting remodeled, she thinks it might be a nice little rest for them and their new baby. Upon her arrival back in Cedar Grove, she remembers the memories of what the town means to her and the history she will never be able to escape. While Dan is representing a local merchant in town trying to keep his business, Tracy is asked by the local department to look into a new case that has ties to a decades old cold case. The more Tracy looks into the case, the more entangled it gets stirring up feelings of her own haunted past and the hard times Cedar Grove has had to endure. Things are not as simple as they once were for Tracy; now she has her baby to consider and how far she is willing to go to protect those she loves.

Robert Dugoni is being called by some as one of the best crime novelists in the market and for good reason. His Tracy Crosswhite series is by far one of my very favorites and this latest installment ranks right up there. It is going to be next to impossible for him to top the first in the series, which hasn’t happened yet, and I just don’t think any will ever beat it. That being said, this is an excellent addition to the series. I love seeing the dynamic of Tracy and Dan change with the addition of their baby, Tracy loves being a new mother but she can’t put her instincts and love of being a detective behind her. When she is asked to look into this case, it brings up all the old memories of what happened to her sister. If she can help bring closure to a family, then she has to go for it because she knows what it feels like to go for years wondering if you really know the truth or not. Dugoni has found a way to write characters that never make me question if they are doing the right thing; how he writes them is exactly how I picture them. I loved the addition of the Irish nanny, she had just the right amount of spunk to brighten the room in the tense moments. Even though this story is set in Cedar Grove, Dugoni has managed to bring in a few of our favorite characters from Seattle.

This may be the 7th in the Crosswhite series but I for one hope there are many more to come. If this is your first time to pick up a Dugoni book, it can be enjoyed without reading the others but I would highly recommend starting with the first in the series to know the full back-story with all of the characters to get the most enjoyment. I recommend this book to anyone that enjoys a great suspense thriller with great characters, a tight story, and an ending that will leave you thirsting for more.

I received a complimentary copy of this title from the publisher. The views and opinions expressed within are my own.

Collision of Lies

Collision of LiiesAuthor: Tom Threadgill

Publisher: Revell

Release Date: February 4, 2020

Rating: 5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

One of the best thrillers I have read in a very long time. It’s hard to call a book unputdownable, but that perfectly describes Collision of Lies.

When detective Amara Alvarez overhears an argument between a couple on her day off, she feels compelled to see if she can help. She quickly discovers it is much more than a disagreement between a husband and wife. Their son was on a bus hit by a train three years ago. He and everyone onboard was killed and they have had to live with the loss for the past three years. That is until they received a text from someone claiming to be their son needing help. With these new clues, the authorities try to open the case without getting many others involved. If this was no accident, then whoever was behind it had to have help from people on the inside. Time is running out as Amara rushes to convince others of her theory and save the lives of as many as she can to reunite families with the ones they lost.

Tom Threadgill is a fresh new voice for me in suspense writing. Collision of Lies started with a bang only to pick up speed and not stop until the final pages. I loved so much about this book. The story was compelling, the characters were relatable and easy to like and cheer for, the pace was fantastic, and the overall plot was unique and exciting. I was surprised how well Threadgill wrote a female lead protagonist as he captured Amara beautifully. I felt like I was right there with her at the office or in the field trying to solve the crime. Her interactions with others played out seamlessly; it didn’t matter if she was having a family dinner or dealing with her boss at work. I believed every interaction and her behavior added up exactly how I pictured her in my mind. It is so hard in the age of movies, television, video games, apps and so forth to read something and be able to picture the scenes in your mind as vividly as I did here. Most of the time it is easier to watch something than read to get the mental image, but for those readers that love to see it play out in their minds, this book will be a welcome addition to their shelf. This is the first book I have read by Tom Threadgill but will for sure not be the last. I recommend this book to readers that love a great suspense read, but make sure you don’t have any plans for a few days because you will not want to put this one down.

I received a complimentary copy of this title from the publisher. The views and opinions expressed within are my own.

Warden of Eternity

wardensAuthor: Wardens of Eternity

Publisher: Blink YA Books

Release Date: January 21, 2020

Rating: 4 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

A slow start, but well worth sticking with until the final pages! The ending puts events in motion for a follow up I am dying to get my hands on!

For as long as she can remember, Ziva has been on her own. The only memory she has of her parents is of the day her mother abandoned her when she was three years old in New York City. It’s been fifteen years since they left her and Ziva is starting to discover she has powers she barely understands and no idea how to control them. The more she uses her powers, strange things begin to occur around her. When other worldly monsters start to attack her, others show up with powers like Ziva’s and explain the history she has missed out on growing up on her own. Sayer and Nasira have searched for Ziva and tell her that she is descended from Egyptian royalty and her magic has passed down from the time of the gods. They teach Ziva how to control her magic and give her the family she has looked for all her life. However, they are not the only ones that have been looking for Ziva and the magic she possesses. World War II is brewing around them and Ziva quickly finds herself at the center of a battle for power, uncertain who she can turn to for help and what it all could mean for her.

This book started a little slow and had a few bumps along the way but finished with twists and turns that I didn’t see coming. Ziva has to overcome struggle after struggle and she does so for the most part on her own. When she finds out there are others out there like her, she feels her spirits lifted for the first time in her life. The way she was portrayed helped me relate to her and wish for her to succeed. Not all the aspects of what happened to Ziva and how they got to the end point added up if a reader was paying close attention. Certain moments had me scratching my head trying to figure out how we got to the point we were at. The mythology and magic could have been fleshed out a little more instead of the reader having to try and figure out what the spells actually meant and how Ziva knew them. So much was left out I had trouble keeping up at times. I will say what saved this book for me was the ending. The last two chapters kept me glued to my seat unable to focus on anything else. I really hope there is more to come with this story, so many questions left unanswered and the relationships between the characters that I want to see further developed. I can’t wait to see what comes next. I recommend this book to young readers that are looking for a great story full of mythology, a little bit of history and plenty of action and adventure.

I received a complimentary copy of this title from the publisher. The views and opinions expressed within are my own.

The Insurrection

InsurrectionAuthor: Chris Babu

Series: The Initiation #3

Publisher: Permuted Press

Release Date: February 18, 2020

Rating: 4 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

As the series draws to a close, a new chapter begins!

Drayden, Catrice, Charlie, and Sidney are still shocked about learning the secrets of the Bureau and New America upon arriving in Boston. Now they must undertake the dangerous mission of returning to New America when they were never expected to survive. Even though they beat the Guardians to get to Boston, they are still an ever-present danger that is lurking outside the walls. They realize that they need leverage and decide that an acquaintance from their previous journey will hopefully provide the help. As the friends travel to New America, they begin to see that even though there are people outside the walls, people are connected in ways they didn’t know. One thing they do know is that they wickedness of the bureau must be stopped. A revolution is going to occur and they will have to be the catalyst to bring it forward.

I’ve enjoyed reading this series. There are a multitude of dystopian novels available now and it’s fun when a series finally piques my interest. Like many others, it is set in the United States after some apocalyptic event (in this case the aero flu known as the confluence) and depicts life after the event, usually in some type of totalitarian government arrangement disguised as democracy. What I enjoyed about this book was how a group of teenagers continued to outmaneuver a group that had controlled the masses for decades. And on top of that, they have regular teenage problems. Drayden continues to find himself in the love triangle between Catrice and Sidney, although this book finally gets that set straight. Feelings of insecurity bleed through the pages for each of the characters. And, of course, masks of some of the characters are revealed to show their true motives. Drayden must face his nemesis, both mentally and physically. In the end, I think many readers will enjoy the conclusion to the series.

This is the third and final in the series. I highly recommend that start at the beginning and not try to pick up this one first. There is also some foul language throughout that could have easily been left out or replaced with dystopian slang as is part of the case, but not fully.

I received a complimentary copy of this title from the publisher. The views and opinions expressed within are my own.