Arena

arenaAuthor: Holly Jennings

Series: Arena #1

Publisher: Ace

Release Date: November 1, 2016

Rating: 4 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

A unique story that takes a look at the gaming world and what out future of might just look like.

Kali Ling is one of the top gamers and is about to make history as the first female captain in the Virtual Gaming League’s RAGE tournament. RAGE is a competition where the top gamers in the world compete in a fight to the digital death.  Millions of people watch the fights and cheer for their favorite players.  The game and all its parts may be digital but that doesn’t mean the pain is, every player feels every killing blow.  When one of her teammates overdoses, Kali doesn’t know if she has what it takes to lead the team anymore.  As a new member is thrust into their mix in the middle of the tournament, the team has to find a way to come together in order to conquer their biggest battle yet.

I have mixed emotions about this book. The story itself was good, a bit predictable at times but enjoyable.  The drug usage, foul language and sex was a bit over done.  The images put forth by the author really made me picture the story playing out in my mind as I read it.  The romances, all of them, felt forced for the most part.  By the end a small percentage of the romances felt right and will be interesting to see where they go in the next story.  Kali and her team go through a lot in finding the right dynamic and in the end I enjoyed the way they found a way to fully work together as a team.  The theme of teamwork throughout was depicted well and something that everyone can take away as a useful lesson.

The ages of the main characters seem to be early twenties, could be a little younger, and so this book could be counted as a YA. If so, I don’t feel comfortable recommending to that target audience with the sex and language.  If it is an older audience, I think the book will be a very enjoyable read for those that especially enjoy the gaming world and virtual reality.

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

On Love’s Gentle Shore

Loves gentle shoreAuthor: Liz Johnson

Series: Prince Edward Island Dreams #3

Publisher: Revell

Release Date: July 4, 2017

Rating: 4.5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

You can never escape your past and sometimes you shouldn’t try!

Natalie O’Ryan left home years ago with plans never to return. So, imagine her surprise when her fiancée suggest that they hold their wedding in her hometown in PEI rather than in Nashville.  Natalie feels that he is trying to do it for her benefit, so she agrees, mainly because she doesn’t want to argue about it.  Soon after returning home, people can’t believe she is back.  None more so than her childhood best friend Justin Kane.  Natalie and Justin had a pact that they would always leave the island together.  The night they were to leave was right after Justin’s father died and he had to stay behind to help his mom with his siblings.  Both feel betrayed by the other, Justin because Natalie left and Natalie because Justin never came after her.  But when her fiancée has to go back to Nashville unexpectedly and leaves Justin to help Natalie finish planning out the wedding, will they be able to reconcile their differences?

Another story that could only happen at the Red Door Inn. Throughout the book, I had a really good idea of what the final outcome was going to be, but just not sure how it was going to get there.  Johnson included a few twists to keep the reader moving through the pages and caused a few surprises along the way.  The story centered on personal growth for both Natalie and Justin.  Both had to learn to find how to forgive and when they did, they were able to find grace along the way as well.  More than just a love story, this book really put people in difficult situations and had plenty of conflict.  I couldn’t help feel bad for Justin throughout much of the book.  And then when you learn the truth about Natalie, it really makes her back story that much more real.

If you have loved the series this far, you will not be disappointed. If you haven’t started, get to it!

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

A Crime of Passion Fruit

Crime of passionAuthor: Ellie Alexander

Series: A Bakeshop Mystery #6

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

Release Date: June 27, 2017

Rating: 5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

A delectable treat that readers are sure to fall in love with before the end of the first chapter.

In the middle of a major remodel and expansion at Torte, Jules Capshaw is trying not to get caught up in the madness and stress. When her estranged husband contacts her begging for her to come to the cruise ship he works on and take over as a temporary pastry chef, she wonders if it could be just the distraction she needs.  She is hesitant to be back in her old life and routine with Carlos but finds it hard to resist the trip.  Before she can settle into the ship, she finds a dead body onboard and the trip takes a sour turn.  Jules is knee deep in the investigation with a killer on the loose and a mystery to be solved.

I stumbled upon the Bakeshop Mysteries earlier this year and must say I have been pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoy them. This is the type of book you can sit by the fire or curl up on the beach to read and just get lost in the story.  It is the epitome of a cozy mystery. A Crime of Passion Fruit is another great addition to the series.  I loved taking the main characters, Jules, her mom, and the professor to a new setting on board the cruise ship and solving the new mystery.  The description of the cruise ship and how working in the kitchen and feeding such a large number of people on a daily basis was done so well I felt I was there, and I have never been on a cruise.  At first I was thinking the mystery was going to be hard to follow, being out of their normal setting and so many new characters, but everything fell into place in just the right way and at just the right time.  Ellie Alexander has figured out the perfect recipe for a great fun read that is hard to put down and even harder to forget.  I highly recommend this book to anyone that enjoys a good fun mystery that will keep them thinking and even give them a laugh or two at just the right time.

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

Twelve Days

twelve daysAuthor: Steven Barnes

Publisher: Tor Books

Release Date: June 27, 2017

Rating: 4.5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

This is a book that is hard to break down into just one or two genres; it dives deep into so many more aspects that will leave readers thinking long after the last page.

When world leaders, criminals and others start dying all around the world mysteriously, everyone starts to panic. A new terrorist group tells of more deaths to come and a suspected apocalypse.  One family finds itself in the middle of the chaos.  Olympia Dorsey, a journalist from Atlanta, and her two kids are trying to heal after being abandoned by her husband and their father.  Hannibal is autistic and Olympia has tried everything she can think of to help her young son.  Terry Nicolas lives across the street and has had a relationship with Olympia but nothing ever worked out.  He has reunited with his wartime buddies to carry out a risky mission to get justice for a crime against them and also get them set for life if the score is a success.  After going to a special session at Hannibal’s care center and witnessing a very unusual speaker and martial artist, Madame Gupta, Olympia sees something change in her son and hopes this is the answer she has been looking for.  While all this is going on, the death toll continues to rise and society is on the brink of chaos.  Olympia and Terry must decide if the choices they are about to make will be worth the sacrifices.

Twelve Days is a book with a very interesting premise and very entertaining.  I found myself lost at a few points for not paying close enough attention and had to go back and reread a few segments.  However, the writing is clear as long as the reader pays attention.  The way the danger was brought about was very clever and was written well.  There is much more to this story than good vs. evil.  There is a clear theme of family, forgiveness and even redemption.  I liked how Barnes brought multiple aspects together to weave the story in just the right way.  There is a lot to be liked about this story and I think there is something for almost any reader to take away.  The characters themselves are well developed and the plot gets wrapped up nice at the end.  Not a happy ending that is thrown together, but something that actually makes sense for the story and the characters.  I recommend this to readers that enjoy a good thriller with a bit of paranormal thrown in.

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

A Beautiful Poison

A Beautiful PoisomnAuthor: Lydia Kang

Publisher: Lake Union

Release Date: August 1, 2017

Rating: 3.5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

Beautifully written historical fiction, yet slightly confusing at times.

Set in Manhattan in 1918, several American soldiers have just returned from World War I and brought home the Spanish influenza with them. As the disease begins its widespread outbreak, Allene recruits her two estranged childhood friends Birdie and Jasper to try and find a cure.  But as the disease begins to affect family and friends, it becomes apparent that this may not be stopped until several more have met their fate.

This was a very fast read that was mostly enjoyable. I always enjoy historical fiction and making it a medical thriller added some suspense.  But there were times that the storyline was a little bit confusing.  There were lots of twist and turns that keep the pages moving, but sometimes didn’t make a lot of sense, especially when I went back to reread how the twist had happened.  Even so, the writing is very well done and the characters finally became more likable the closer you get to the end of the book.  If you are up for something a little different or enjoy the time period that the book is set in, give it a try.

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

Egypt’s Sister

Egypts SsiterAuthor: Angela Hunt

Series: The Silent Years #1

Publisher: Bethany House

Release Date: July 4, 2017

Rating: 5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

You’ve heard of Cleopatra, but have you heard of her friend?

Chava is daughter to a Hebrew royal tutor living in Alexandria during the time of Julius Caesar. She has always had the opportunity to spend time at the palace with her friend and princess, Urbi, daughter to Ptolemy.  But when he suddenly passes away, Urbi becomes Queen Cleopatra.  No one has heard from Yahweh for over 300 years, but one night Chava clearly hears a message that she will be with the Queen on her best day and her last day and will bless her.  But Chava finds herself in some unfavorable situations with the Queen that ultimately lead to her imprisonment and sale into slavery.  Could she have misheard her mission?  Or is there still hope for her and her family?

I love reading Angela Hunt’s historical fiction novels because she pours so much research into her work that it makes it an amazing read. The amount of history that shines through makes it so interesting.  I’ve always been fascinated with this time period, so needless to say, I enjoyed the book.  However, there are some disturbing sections of the book that represent the way of live in the Roman world during that time that some readers will find difficultly reading.  However, Hunt keeps the read clean and enjoyable throughout.

Chava was an interesting character to get to know. She was extremely naïve throughout much of the first portion of the book, but then had to learn life lessons the hard way.  Even then, she stayed very optimistic despite being used as a pawn in wealthy men’s wars.  She grew and found grace.

I recommend this book to history lovers, especially if you enjoy reading about the life of Cleopatra.

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

 

Chasing Secrets

Chasing SecretsAuthor: Lynette Eason

Series: Elite Guardians #4

Publisher: Revell

Release Date: August 1, 2017

Rating: 5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

The fourth installment in the Elite Guardians series brings the thrills and suspense to a whole new level.

Haley Callaghan has no idea she is part of a twenty-five-year-old cold case from Ireland. She knows there are parts of her past she can’t remember, but has never thought about it too much.  As a member of the Elite Guardians bodyguards, Haley has spent the past few years protecting others and now she finds herself the one in need of protection.  Detective Steven Rothwell is new in town but he has found an immediate connection to Haley when she finds her life threatened and takes it upon himself to keep her safe.  He has no intention to let Haley fight this battle on her own.

The Elite Guardians series is one that fans of Christian suspense have fallen in love with and for good reason. Lynette Eason has found a way to craft a group of characters that are relatable and enjoyable to read about.  Haley’s story is very different from the rest; her connection to Ireland and the mystery of her past makes the story an even more intense read.  There was no major push with the romantic aspect of the story, instead Eason let the suspense carry the story and the romance fell into place naturally.  Haley and her connection to the teen center is one of the aspects of the story that really brought the suspense to a new level for Eason.  We get to see the other members of the Elite Guardians as they work together to keep Haley safe and help her with her newest case that turns out to be more complicated with each passing day.  Together with her friends and new detective Steven Rothwell, Haley must do everything in her power to stay alive and save those she cares most about.  I recommend this book to fans of Lynette Eason and those that enjoy a highly intense suspenseful story.

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