Her Deadly Game

Author: Robert Dugoni

Publisher: Thomas & Mercer

Release Date: March 28, 2023

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Another fantastic thriller from master storyteller, Robert Dugoni!

Keera Duggan wanted to make a name for herself on her own, so she set out in the Seattle prosecutor’s office and worked her way up until a complicated relationship with a colleague messes it all up. Now, Keera goes to work in the family law firm with her father and sisters. When she is hired by Vince LaRussa, she has the chance to show the rest of her family that she has what it takes to try the big crimes and win. Going against her in court is Miller Ambrose, Keera’s ex who wants nothing more than to take Keera down in court. It will take all Keera and her team have to win the case and keep anyone else from getting hurt.

Robert Dugoni is one of the best thriller writers around and this newest addition is further evidence of that. The characters and storyline flow freely with great tension that kept the pages flying and my attention until the last page. I wasn’t sure what to expect with the storyline and characters after the many books in the Tracy Crosswhite series and loving every one of them.

I have found after readomg many books by Dugoni that his writing style is one that readers will find relatable and easy to read. There is something about the way he writes that makes me know with every story I am going to find characters that will be engaging and make me want to see them come out safe and sound by the end of the story. Keera is a great strong female protagonist that I have come to love from Dugoni books. Even when I thought the story was finished there was another fantastic twist that made me smile and know I was reading a book I could easily pull from the shelves anytime and enjoy. I recommend this book to those that love suspense thrillers.

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

Middle School: Get Me Out of Here

Authors: James Patterson & Chris Tebbetts

Series: Middle School #2

Publisher: Jimmy Patterson

Release Date: February 13, 2018

Rating: 5 out of 5.

The second book in the Middle School series is even better than the first!!

Rafe Khatchadorian’s sixth grade year wasn’t great and now he has the chance to start over at a new school in a new city. He is starting his seventh-grade year at a new art school and just when he is thinking it’s going to be a new start, things go wrong. The other students are super competitive and when he realizes he needs to find a way to fit in, he starts on a new mission that leads to more problems and an even crazier year for Rafe and his family.

It’s hard for a second book in a series to be better than the first, but James Paterson has done it with this book. I loved the way Rafe tried to turn over a new leaf and do better to not disappoint his mom, but is also trying to find his way in a new school with new problems. Rafe has real hard issues he is struggling with and the way he deals with them is written really well for kids reading to be able to relate and find ways to deal with those struggles. One of my favorite things about these books is the way the characters are relatable but easy for kids to read and follow along with. I read these to connect with my kids as they find a love for books and reading. I would recommend this book and series to kids and their parents that want to find a great series for them to enjoy books and have something to talk about together with their kids.

Remember Me

Author: Tracie Peterson

Series: Pictures of the Heart #1

Publisher: Bethany House

Release Date: March 1, 2023

Rating: 4 out of 5.

The start of another great series by Tracie Peterson!

Addie Bryant was forced by her father and brothers up to the Alaskan territory when they wanted to search for gold, but she never thought that her brothers would sell her to the highest bidder just to have some gambling money.  Being sold to the owner of a brothel was horrible, but fortunately for Addie the owner only wanted her for himself and took her as a wife.  After he is killed in a gambling incident, Addie discovers that everything is left to her and she is a wealthy woman, much to the scorn of her brothers that want her money.  She manages to slip away out of Alaska entirely and hopes to never see them again.

Years later in Seattle, Addie is working as a camera girl at the Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Expo.  Her brothers were arrested for burglary but have been released for good behavior while moving pieces to the expo.  They also pick up jobs as custodians at the expo and pick a few pockets while they are there, hoping to run into Addie and her money.  Addie’s first true love, Isaac, also shows up at the expo with his class of children and can’t believe he has found her after years of searching.  But the past doesn’t heal all wounds and Addie isn’t sure who or what she can trust.

As always, Tracie Peterson crafts a fantastic story where she brings history to light with lovable characters that must overcome hardships.  Having this set up in the Pacific Northwest was a nice change and I love how she managed to bring the expo to life for her readers.  I also love how she molded Addie and Isaac into who they needed to be to move past hardships brought to them.  I know they may not be in the next book, but I can’t wait to see where this goes.

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

Second Time Around

Author: Melody Carlson

Publisher: Revell

Release Date: March 7, 2023

Rating: 4 out of 5.

A fun quick romance that readers will greatly enjoy!

Mallory Farrell inherits her grandmother’s tourist shop in Seaport, Oregon; however, she doesn’t want to spend the time and energy it would take to get the shop back up and running. That is, until her old crush shows up wanting to add the store to make a cookie cutter outdoor mall. Mallory now has the determination to make the shop what it can be. She catches the eye of a renovation TV producer who wants to feature her shop and the apartment above she has been living in. The apartment is much worse than the shop and Mallory is ashamed, causing her to almost pull out of the show all in trying to keep Grayson at arm’s length.

Melody Carlson is a great contemporary romance author that has a way of transporting readers to a faraway place in her stories. One thing I have come to love about her writing is the way the main characters interact; it is dynamic and fun and with the perfect amount of romance at all the right times. Whenever I pick up a book by Carlson, I know I am going to have a quick and enjoyable read. These are the types of books that when I pick them up, I don’t have to think too much or worry about the story.

In the way that Grayson wanted to turn Mallory’s shop into a cookie cutter shopping mall, this book is somewhat of the same thing. For me at least, contemporary romance novels are very much cookie cutter books. That’s not a bad thing as much if you are just looking for a quick read that doesn’t require much thinking. They are still entertaining, but readers don’t have to worry about a deep story. And in the world that we live in that can be great sometimes.

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

After the Shadows

Author: Amanda Cabot

Series: Secrets of Sweetwater Crossing #1

Publisher: Revell

Release Date: March 21, 2023

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Amanda Cabot takes her readers on a journey as she transports them to the Texas Hill Country in the late 1800’s on a wonderfully delightful novel.

When her husband is killed in a bar fight, Emily Leland has no sorrow. Her husband was abusive and with no husband she heads home to Sweetwater Crossing, Texas. Going home is not as easy as she expects; her father has mysteriously passed away and she has no home to return to. After a fight with her sister, she is left alone and with no money. With a broken heart and the mystery of her father’s death, Emily turns to the aid of Craig Ferguson, the schoolmaster that is widowed and the only one willing to help her.

Amanda Cabot always finds a way to thrill me with her writing. She has a way of writing historical romance where I feel pulled into a different time and place seeing myself right alongside these characters and the struggles they face. I’m from Texas so seeing a story set in the hill country close to me was fun and very engaging. Emily is a strong female protagonist even with all she has had to suffer through, and I found myself rooting for her to find love and succeed. All great stories have that one moment that feels different from the rest and this story had that with a few chapters left. I recommend this book to fans of Cabot’s writing and those that love historical romance.

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

Code Name Edelweiss

Author: Stephanie Landsem

Publisher: Tyndale House

Release Date: March 7, 2023

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Landsem connects the darkness of the rise of the Nazi party on home turf in the USA.

During the summer of 1933, Germany has just named the new chancellor, Adolf Hitler.  The Great Depression has been affecting people across the globe and the United States has felt its effects.  In the film industry in California, people are losing their jobs, but there is also growing tension between Germany and the film industry due to several of the studio owners being Jews.  Liesl Weiss loses her job as a secretary and finds herself begging an unknown stranger, Leon Lewis, for a job.  She discovers that he is a Jewish lawyer who has been watching the change of tides as Germany’s new Nazi party has come into power.  He asks Liesl to take a job as a spy with the Friends of New Germany group and report to him what she discovers using her new code name, Edelweiss.  As she places herself and her family in danger, the information is too dangerous to ignore, and she knows that she must stand for what is right.

This is my first book by Landsem and as someone who loves this era of fiction, it will definitely not be my last.  She quickly pulled in my attention with the Liesl’s story and that of some of her counterpart spies with what was happening in the Los Angeles area during the 1930s.  I’ve always heard that not much emphasis was put on the war until after Pearl Harbor, but discovering this was based on a true story with sleeper Nazi Germany cells throughout the United States was really unnerving.  The character development was great and I would love to see more come out of this story in the future!

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

The Family Bones

Author: Elle Marr

Publisher: Thomas & Mercer

Release Date: March 7, 2023

Rating: 4 out of 5.

When does a psychopath make the jump to serial killer?

Olivia Eriksen is a member of one of the most notorious psychopathic families of the last century.  But more than that, her direct line of ancestors abducted and killed young women and even murdered each other.  Needless to say, the gene for being a psychopath is hereditary, but not everyone makes the jump to becoming a killer.  Olivia is working on her doctorate to prove that is the case.  When she gets an invitation to the Eriksen family reunion in Oregon, her mother convinces her to go so that she can work on her research.  She even takes her fiancé along so that they can begin to introduce their relationship to her family.  However, things at the reunion turn dark quickly as members of the family begin to turn up dead and the evidence points toward Olivia being the killer.  Can she prove her innocence?  Or did she make the psychotic jump without knowing it?

This was definitely a different kind of read where the reader is trying to figure out what is going on with the main character.  Told from Olivia’s perspective, everything seems as if she is being framed.  On top of everything, she is dealing with a lot of pressure from her fiancé to go public.  Truthfully, I couldn’t stand the guy because he was such a whiner about her not wanting to bring their engagement to light when all this death is going on around them.  Aside from that, it is a really interesting concept that makes you think concerning being around a family that has psychopathic tendencies.  There is some strong language throughout and some implied sex that would make this suitable for mature audiences.

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

Under Fire

Author: Lynn H. Blackburn

Series: Defend and Protect #3

Publisher: Revell

Release Date: March 7, 2023

Rating: 5 out of 5.

The third book in the Defend and Protect series is by far the best and probably my favorite of all the books I’ve read by Blackburn!

Secret Service Agent Zane Thacker is now working to protect the President and even though it’s his dream job, he isn’t fully happy. He is now assigned to go back to Raleigh, North Carolina to help when the president goes on an event there. He gets to work with his best friend, Special Agent Tessa Reed; not only is she his best friend she is also the woman he is secretly in love with. Tessa has been working through her past dealing with her problems with alcohol and healing from her demons. Zane knows her deepest darkest secrets and Tessa doesn’t want to do anything that jeopardize their friendship in any way. She oversees arranging the protection for the President on his trip to Raleigh and every step of the way problems arise threatening the President and those assigned to protect.

This is the third book in the Defend and Protect series and having read all in the series, I am happy to say this is my favorite. Lynn Blackburn is one of my favorite romantic suspense authors and Under Fire lives up to my expectations of what I’m going to get when I pick up one of her books. Which is nice to say after being extremely underwhelmed by most of the romantic suspense books I have read lately. Christian fiction has become a growing market with many more options than in decades past. Blackburn has managed to overcome the typical genre stereotype formula to create a unique series that continues to be interesting. She has restored my faith with Under Fire and kept me on the edge of my seat and loving the dynamic between Zane and Tessa. Fans of the series will not want to miss this one.

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

Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life

Author: James Patterson & Chris Tobbetts

Publisher: Jimmy Patterson

Release Date: November 6, 2012

Rating: 5 out of 5.

The first book in the Middle School series is an imaginative, fun read for kids that will be great for getting them into reading.

Rafe Khatchadorian is starting middle school and doesn’t expect it to be great and so he puts in place a plan to make it the best year ever. Rafe has his best friend Leonardo the Silent at his side egging him on with points for every rule in school he breaks. He does all of this to avoid what he is afraid of but it doesn’t take long for it to all catch up to him and he must decide what is most important in surviving middle school. 

There are now 15 books in the Middle School series for a good reason. James Patterson has created an empire with his children’s books and this one, which was released ten years ago, I’m just now reading it because my kids are into them are fantastic. Rafe is such a relatable character for kids that might be having a hard time fitting in and wanting to read about a kid that is having the same problems as them. One of the things about the book is that even though Rafe becomes a bit of a troublemaker, he is also going through a lot and we see him struggling with that and letting it be a real thing. This is a great start to what I’m sure is going to be a great series for kids to read and enjoy reading instead of books that turn them off from reading.

Under the Whispering Door

Author: T.J. Klune

Publisher: Tor Books

Release Date: September 21, 2021

Rating: 4 out of 5.

A book with character development better than any I’ve read in a long time.

Wallace Price worked as an attorney and was not the best person he could be before passing away from a heart attack. When he wakes up at his own funeral, a reaper is ready to collect him and take him to where he is supposed to cross over. At first, he doesn’t want to believe he is dead, but it quickly becomes evident that is the case and this is more real than he would like it to be. When he meets Hugo, the owner of a unique tea shop that is supposed to help him cross over, he doesn’t feel ready to leave just yet. He is given one week to finish figuring out what he needs to do before crossing over.

I want to start with the good points of this book: the character development of Wallace was stellar. Kind of hard to have character development of someone that dies but Klune did a phenomenal job of making this character that starts out despicable as someone you want to root for and see come out happy in the end. What I didn’t know when I picked this book up was it was a book dealing with LGBTQ issues, not a book I normally pick up. The story and characters were well written and readers that enjoy these issues will want to pick this one up.