Alabaster

AlabasterAuthor: Chris Aslan

Publisher: Lion Hudson

Release Date: November 18, 2016

Rating: 5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

A well-known story told from a different perspective.

Miriam and Martha have had their share of a rough life. When they were children, their mother died leaving them with their father and younger brother.  Even so, they still made the best of it.  That is until the day that their father helps a leper, who leaves them a small alabaster jar for helping before he dies.  Nothing seems that odd until one day Miriam notices a small white patch on his back.  Soon the priest and his wife come to observe the patch and quarantine the family.  But the patch does not recede, so their father must leave the community for good and venture out to the lepers.  But fate does not stop there.  Martha has no money for a dowry and remains single, but she is quite the busybody.  Miriam gets married to a young man who helps the priest, but his mother and sister are scornful to her and it might have been better never to marry.  Their brother, Eleazar, runs away from the community with a friend when they are of age, with intentions never to return.  That is until they meet the doctor in the north that has been able to cure leprosy.

This book was a great read that keep playing with my mind. Once the book got started, I began to wonder if this might be one of the well-known stories of Jesus in the bible.  The more I read, the more it sounded likely.  And then I discovered that it was.  It was told from a completely different perspective than I had ever heard it before.  But it was still masterfully told.  The emotions of Miriam were vastly different than I would have pictured them, but there were still very believable.  I love it when stories like this pop up and change the way I have always observed things.  Well done!

There is some implied sex scenes, one of which is a rape scene, but it is not graphic. I would recommended this to young adult readers and up.

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

Jorie and the Magic Stone

JorieAuthor: A. H. Richardson

Publisher: Serano Press

Release Date: December 26, 2014

Rating: 4 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

A magical tale with dragons, hidden stones, treasures, and, of course, evil forces trying to stop Jorie at every turn.

Marjorie, who prefers to be called Jorie, has gone to live with her aunt. She has a vivid imagination and lets it run wild at her new country home.  With her fire-red hair flowing behind her, she runs around the estate and quickly meets a new friend, Rufus, who lives next door.  Together they find a mysterious land beneath the Tarn that is full of enchantment, danger and adventure.  They meet a good dragon, the Great Grootmonya who sends them on a quest to find the three Stones of Maalog and return them.  Jorie is in possession of the first stone, which will lead them to the next.  Along the way, they have to deal with evil dragons and even worse creatures to accomplish their mission.

Jorie and the Magic Stones is a fun story that will be a good edition for young readers.  This isn’t one that everyone will love, but for those that enjoy fantasy novels, this is going to be one to add to their list.  I liked the characters, especially the kids, they had spunk.  I had a few points that I got confused on, but it was probably because I was reading The Magician’s Nephew (Chronicles of Narnia), at the same time and there are several similarities between the two books.  The target audience of young readers will enjoy the short chapters and fun characters.  The travel between worlds made me feel like I was in the story and couldn’t wait to see what they would find.  I recommend this book to young readers looking for adventure in an entertaining story.

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

A Welcome Murder

A Welcome MurderAuthor: Robin Yocum

Publisher: Seventh Street Books

Release Date: April 4, 2017

Rating: 3 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

Several viewpoints makes an intriguing tale, but this won’t be at the top of my list of best reads

Johnny Earl was at the height of his life. He had everything going for him, until it all fell apart.  He had a promising baseball career that ended with an injury, which led to him selling cocaine.  It didn’t take long for him to end up in prison for seven years.  Prison is just another obstacle for him to overcome.  Once out, his only goal is to retrieve the drug money he stashed before being arrested and leave town.  Before he is even able to start getting his things together, he is picked up for questioning in the murder of the FBI informant who sent him away.  To top matters off, his former cellmate shows up in town wanting Johnny’s money to use to fund an Aryan nation group.  Johnny is stuck between a rock and a hard place and it might just be a jam he can get out of.

Let me break this one down into the good and the bad. The good would have to be the storyline.  The murder mystery was interesting and with the dialogue between the viewpoints it made it even more interesting to see who was involved and how.  The bad is that about does it for the good.  Even though the story was interesting, I couldn’t get into it as much as I would have liked because of all the harsh language and sex.  That might not bother some people but for me it was far too much.  The book is short and I did get through it quickly but I still can’t say it is one I enjoyed much or can recommend.

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

Forward to Glory: Tempering

Forward to GloryAuthor: Brian Paul Bach

Publisher: Clink Street Publishing

Release Date: March 21, 2017

Rating: 2 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

Dealing with television, movies and a screenplay all in one should make it an interesting concept, but I just could not get into this one at all.

With a name like Butterbugs you would think life would be interesting. But it’s not, not even a little.  His only dream is to act, so he drops everything and heads to Hollywood.  He is living in his car and running out of resources.  Even with his high hopes, he eventually becomes isolated from much of the LA scene.  He then begins to meet several other outcasts, but not all of them are bad.  When he gets his first screen test, things seem to be spiraling out of control.  With many other characters, it could be an interesting tale with many different directions.

Ok, I wanted to give this one a chance, and I did. I get what the author was trying to do, but it just wasn’t happening.  The story is really disjointed and even though it is set up more like a screen play, it just wasn’t easy to follow.  Too much of the first part of it goes on and on without getting to the reason for the story.  I have no doubt that some readers may find this more to their liking but I wasn’t one of them.  I’ll give anything a try once is my motto, but this one just didn’t work out for me.

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

Let’s Be Real

Lets be realAuthor: Natasha Bure

Publisher: Zondervan

Release Date: March 28, 2017

Rating: 5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

In today’s world it is hard for teens to find someone that is actually worth looking up to. Natasha Bure shows it is ok to be ok with yourself and gives teen girls someone they can have as a role model that their parents will approve of.

Natasha Bure, the daughter of Candace Cameron Bure, brings young girls a book they can look to that will help answer and deal with many of the problems they face growing up. Natasha has been on The Voice, and has her own YouTube channel with videos that show the real person she is without holding back.  Throughout the book there are chapters on, friendships, faith, health, beauty and so much more we all deal with growing up. Let’s Be Real is the kind of guide teen girls can use and parents can be happy giving it to them to use as a tool.

I wanted to review this book, not because I know anything about Natasha, but because I have followed her mother for quite some time and wanted to see what her daughter had to say. They are a faith filled family and in today’s society that isn’t always looked upon with favor.  I liked the way Natasha gave real examples of problems she had faced and how she handled those problems, even if it wasn’t handled in the correct way, she showed how she learned from it all.  There are life lessons in every chapter and something for everyone to take away.  I think this will be a great edition for teen girls to read and use to help guide them through many of the problems they will face growing up.  We all face problems and the way that she handles her problems might not be right for you but it will give an example to hopefully help lead in the right direction.  There is no one right answer but these examples will be great for everyone to use to think about what is happening in their life and hopefully give them encouragement along the way.  I recommend this for teen girls, even if they are not experiencing problems, they will be at some time and can be ready with the resources to help.

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

Sandpiper Cove

Sandpiper coveAuthor: Irene Hannon

Series: Hope Harbor #3

Publisher: Revell

Release Date: April 4, 2017

Rating: 5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

The third book in the Hope Harbor series brings the romance to a whole new level. Romance lovers will not want to miss this one.

Lexi Graham is the Hope Harbor police chief and is being pulled in too many directions at once. She has her son to take care of along with the residents of Hope Harbor, who have been dealing with a string of theft and vandalism.  All of this is more than enough to keep her busy and leave zero time for anything else, romance included.  With being so busy, she is caught completely off guard when she finds herself attracted to one of the victims of vandalism, Adam Stone.  To make matters more complicated, Adam is an ex-con.  He came to town after getting out of prison trying to make a new start.  When Lexi catches one of the vandals, she talks to Adam about trying to be a mentor to the boy who is going through a tough time at home and could use his influence.  Adam isn’t sure he is the right person to help the boy, but feels God leading him to try.   Together Adam and Lexi work to make a difference in the lives of those they can reach and see if there is anything left to make work between the two of them.

This story is one of second chances. Lexi needs a second chance at love and Adam needs a second chance to prove he can be a good person.  He doesn’t come to town looking for love and doesn’t think he deserves it either.  I like the way he doesn’t want feel as if he isn’t good enough for Lexi, (even though deep down that is how he feels.)  He has several people in town looking out for him who tell him that he doesn’t have to be the same person that spent time in prison.  He did his time and now he needs to be willing to move on from that.  I love the message of knowing it is ok to make mistakes as long as we learn from them and move on to do the work God has planned for us to do.  Sometimes we tend to beat ourselves up over things that we need to let go of.  If God can forgive us, then we should be able to forgive ourselves and move on too.  Irene Hannon is one of the top Christian Romance writers and it is for good reason.  She can weave good story with a message and characters we want to see happy. Sandpiper Cove has all of that and more.  It is the third in the series, some of the characters are the same, Charley is back and you can’t help but love him, and some are new.  You don’t have to read all to enjoy each separately, which is nice.  I recommend this to readers that love a good, clean romance story that will put a smile on your face.

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

The Book of Air

The Book of airAuthor: Joe Treasure

Publisher: Clink Street Publishing

Release Date: April 4, 2017

Rating: 3 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

Interesting concept for a dystopian novel to turn to Jane Eyre.

After an airborne virus attacks the world, Jason tries to flee London to his country estate when his wife and unborn child succumb to the virus. Jason himself becomes infected, but he manages to be one of the few survivors of the virus.  His nephew seems to be immune to it.  After he arrives at his estate, there are already people living there, but they end up taking care of Jason so that he makes a recovery.  But now he must learn to live a new way with people he didn’t plan to spend the remainder of his life with.

In the distant future, a new society has emerged that regards the book Jane Eyre as the new way of life. Agnes belongs to the society, but thinks outside of the rules, which ends up earning her imprisonment.  After she manages to escape, she finds a bit of freedom, but must decide on the true course of her life.

I think this book has promise, but it just took a really long time to get into. The story is told from alternating viewpoints of Jason and Agnes, but it can get confusing because they are at different times.  I was more drawn to Jason’s story as I enjoy post-apocalyptic literature and the virus aspect was really interesting, even if the supporting characters got on my nerves a bit.  If you are looking for something a little different or like Jane Eyre, this may be for you.

There is some strong language throughout as well as several implied sex scenes, however nothing is really graphic.

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