The Letter Keeper

Author: Charles Martin

Series: Murphy Shepherd #2

Publisher: Thomas Nelson

Release Date: June 8, 2021

Rating: 5 out of 5.

If the first book in the series didn’t draw you in, this one is a sure bet!

Murphy Shepherd always leaves the ninety-nine behind to search for the one.  The one that no one else could find that’s being trafficked.  And he’s made a lot of enemies along the way that would love nothing more than to silence the man who has destroyed their profits once and for all.  Unfortunately, someone has found the ability to do just that and not only have they destroyed his beloved island, they have captured his new wife and teenage daughters.  Murphy must race against time with the tables turned on him to find his family before they meet a fate worse than death.

So, if you loved the rough, tough persona of Murphy Shepherd created during in The Water Keeper then you are in for a treat in this new book.  There is not as much action as the first book, but readers get to see the man behind the persona and really begin to understand who he is.  From childhood to university to how he become involved in this line of work.  In addition to all of this, readers get to know some of the supporting characters better including Bones and his daughter Ellie.  One of the most surprising elements of the book was developing the story of Casey, who was found at the end of the first book.  She develops into such a beautiful, yet fierce, character with some unexpected twist and turns along the way.

If you thought the first book mirror the move Taken, this was makes you think it will be like Taken 2, but it is much more than that.  Grab a copy as soon as you can!

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

Searching for Normal

Author: C.J. Darlington

Series: Riverbend Friends #2

Publisher: Focus on the Family

Release Date: April 6, 2021

Rating: 5 out of 5.

The second book in the Riverbend Friends series picks up where the first left off, but now readers get to focus on Shay and see her story. A great YA/Coming of age story that is perfect for young adult readers.

The second book in the Riverbend Friends series focuses on the life of Shay Mitchell. Her life changed forever six months ago when she came to live with her aunt and started a new school that brought about her being bullied. Living with her Aunt Laura above a bookstore is nice, but none of her new friends know the real reason she came to live with her aunt and what happened in her past that is causing her to be bullied. While living with her aunt, Shay learns the truth about her biological father and rushes at the chance to meet him. All she wants is a normal family life and to be happy without all the bad stuff hanging over her. But what she wishes for and how she thinks it will happen might be the farthest thing from a happy normal life.

With this second book in the Riverbend Friends series, I am falling in love with these four friends and the way these books are written to young adults, especially young girl readers. For me, this is the perfect series because it isn’t all sunshine and rainbows, it shows these girls going through hard things and the way they lean on each other and find a deeper relationship with God through the problems they are facing. They go through hard things, but they realize that even through bad, good things come out of it, like the new friendships they find with each other. I think that is one of the most important things, especially now, finding a few good friends you can trust and rely on through the hard times makes getting through those hard times a little bit easier.

Shay and her story picked up where the first book left off but also gives readers some good back story as to what happened to her and makes the first book even better because I was able to reflect on why she reacted the way she did to some of what happened in that book. I liked this character and how she handled what happened to her, her aunt was one of my favorite characters with her taking Shay in and dealing with how she was treated by both family and school issues. I would recommend reading the first in the series with this one, it could be read after but in my opinion to get the most out of the series go in order. Young girls will be the target audience for this one and parents can enjoy the fact that it is a good story that is clean and no questionable content. I received a complimentary copy of this title from the publisher.  The views and opinions expressed within are my own.

Real, Not Perfect

Author: Stephanie Coleman

Series: Riverbend Friends #1

Publisher: Focus on the Family

Release Date: April 6, 2021

Rating: 5 out of 5.

A great teen book about family, relationships, and the struggles young girls can face growing up and why it is important to have a close relationship with God.

Tessa’s life has always been pretty easy; she goes to swim practice, gets good grades and has two loving parents. All of that changes as she comes home one afternoon to find out her parents are getting a divorce and her best friend is moving away. To top things off, she is put in drama, the worst class ever. As Tessa tries to cope with her new family life, her mom gets more and more depressed, her best friend is posting about how great her new life is, and Tessa feels like everyone has a great life except her. Her goal is to convince herself and others that she is fine and nothing is wrong, but it only takes a little bit for her new friends to realize she is anything but fine and they help her discover that it is ok for things to not be perfect.

This was such a great fast read; I loved how real it was (no pun intended). It’s true though, being real and not perfect in this day and age of social media is so hard to do. Everyone tries to put their very best little snap shots up to post for all to see when that isn’t real life. Life is hard and messy and if we realize that and let others see the real life we are living, it will take away the stress and weight of trying to be perfect all the time. Tessa is going through what a lot of kids end up going through these days and to see her angry, hurt and letting her emotions get the best of her at times is what really made this book connect with me. This is the first book in the series about four friends that have different lives but find a way to connect with each other through their struggles and come closer because of it. While Tessa was the main character, readers get to see a small glimpse into the lives of the others that will shine in their own upcoming stories. The fact that Tessa didn’t get the perfect fairy tale ending was something I give props to the author for, very rarely does life give us that fairy tale ending and to see things play out there the way they did is going to be bringing me back for more. I am thankful that teens will have a realistic view of life when picking this one up. I recommend this to young teen girls that are looking for characters they can relate to and want to feel connected to a storyline that is more than just an escape.

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

Whom God’s Destroy

Author: Vincent B. Davis II

Series: Sertoris Scrolls #4

Publisher: Self Published

Release Date: May 1, 2021

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Davis is back in his element with Quintus Sertoris again on the war path!

After his tenure as senator and following the disaster that befell the senate, Quintus Sertoris is now serving as a legate for Rome to Greece.  While this should be a mission of peace, he quickly realizes that his new commander expects to return with a tribute of at least 5,000 deaths.  Once the legion is in Greece, Quintus begins to realize that Roman citizens are disappearing, some being sold into slavery, which is illegal.  As he investigates, he realizes that he is up against a villain known as Cerebus that is bent upon the full destruction of Rome.  Sertoris must devise a way to put an end to the conspiracy while making new friends, and losing some, along the way.

I love this series, but after Bodies in the Tiber, I was ready to get back on the war path and leave the politics behind.  Luckily, Davis does just that in his new Sertoris Scroll.  Now under the command of Proconsul Titus Didius, he is dispatched to Greece as a legate.  Unfortunately, this leaves readers without the Quintus/Arrea love story that many were hoping to get back on track, but it does allow for good banter with his old friend Apollonius once again.  This book introduces new friendships and sees some old friendships start to dwindle.  The drama with Sulla continues at a distance, mainly through letters of Rome’s impending civil war.  Everything is being set up nicely for the Social War that Sertorius is greatly known for.

Highly recommended for lovers of ancient roman literature.

Primordial

Author: David L. Sobel, MD, JD

Publisher: Self-Published

Release Date: December 9, 2021

Rating: 4 out of 5.

What do you get when a lawyer is tied up in a medical thriller? Primordial!

Jonas is a member of the legal team at a hospital in New York City and enjoys his quiet life.  He’s good at his job and enjoys living with his dad, even if his dad does wish he would get involved with someone.  When one of the hospital’s research analyst determines that someone has been killing patients and provides a list to Jonas of the next potential victims, he pays little mind to it.  But then he finds that one of the patients who dies the next night was on the list!  With only the help of two medical residents, Jonas begins to uncover something sinister that dates back to concentration camps in WWII.

This is one of those rare books that you don’t expect to keep on your shelves after you’ve read it, but you are so surprised by how good it was that you think about rereading it.  I thoroughly enjoyed the plot of this book and watching the characters relationships get intertwined with each other. It was a little bit cat and mouse mixed with some medical/legal thriller aspects that kept me turning the pages.  And how about that ending?  I wasn’t sure how the flashbacks were going to tie into the present-day story, but WOW!  Can this thing have a sequel?

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

The Ninth Metal

Author: Benjamin Percy

Series: Comet Cycle #1

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Release Date: June 1, 2021

Rating: 3 out of 5.

More like a modern day western that what I expected.

What some people viewed as the end of the world, others viewed as a golden opportunity.  One night, a comet crashed into the small town of Northfall, Minnesota, forever changing the town and the people who lived within.  What initially caused power outages, vehicle accidents, and debris raining from the sky turned into a huge cash crop when people realized that the metal fragments from the comet had huge potential as an energy source, which turns Northfall into a “gold rush” town of the 21st century.  Now, two giant corporations are fighting for overall control of the metal: the local Frontier family and the Texas based oil man with deep pockets.  And in the center of it all, is a commune that sits atop the biggest metal reserve that will only sell to the person who can bring the dead back to life!

I went into this novel expecting a dystopian, speculative fiction type of read that was going to be more how we rebuild after we’ve been hit by a comet type of story.  However, it was more of a 21st century shoot from the hip western that made me think of some recent miniseries that have been airing in Montana and South Dakota.  Even so, it was quite an interesting depiction that was enjoyable to read through and see what happened.  I enjoyed the Frontier family drama that made me think of a ranching family up in Montana that controls the land against developers.  It also had a little bit of government conspiracy thrown in for good measure as well as dishonest cops who are on the take.  Overall, a little something for everybody.  There is a lot of foul language throughout the book as well as some implied sexual activity, but nothing is graphic, but it does leave some to the imagination.  I recommend this book for mature readers who enjoy this genre.

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

A Lady in Attendance

Author: Rachel Fordham

Publisher: Revell

Release Date: June 1, 2021

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Such a great historical fiction story that had me laughing as much as researching!

After serving a five-year sentence in the House of Refuge in Hudson, New York, Hazel is released with little hope of finding a decent job as she believes no one will trust her.  She uses an alias to find employment and lands a job as a lady in attendance for a dentist, Dr. Gilbert Watt.  As she begins to work with Dr. Watt, she begins to trust again and finds a friendship that may be able to heal her soul and mend any past transgressions.

There is nothing better when you read a historical fiction novel that makes you research the accuracy of the story.  This holds so true for Rachel Fordham and this book.  From the prologue set in the House of Refuge, which was actually the second prison for women in the United States, to the job duties of a lady in attendance for dentistry at the time.  I learned so much through this book that I had to go back and reread parts just to make sure I fully understood what was going on.  In addition to the historical accuracy, I couldn’t have loved seeing two characters thrown together more than Hazel and Gilbert.  Their banter was priceless throughout the book.  The humor was spot on and I even laughed out loud at a book I thought I wouldn’t even crack a smile in.  Great job!

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

The Happiness Thief

Author: Nicole Bokat

Publisher: She Writes Press

Release Date: May 18, 2021

Rating: 4 out of 5.

A slow build to a great ending, The Happiness Thief turned out much better than I expected and was a very enjoyable read.

Natalie Greene has lived for years with uncertainty after the car crash that killed her mom and left her with unclear memories from the trauma. Her husband has left her for another woman and she reluctantly agrees to accompany her stepsister to a retreat in the Cayman Islands. Her stepsister is a Happiness Guru and Natalie is hoping to find some happiness on the trip. Instead she ends up in an accident that triggers memories and long held onto guilt of what happened to her mother.

Back home in Boston Natalie gets back to life as a food photographer and mother to her teenage daughter until an email arrives saying there is more to the accident in the Caymans than she was led to believe. As more clues come to light, Natalie realizes she has been lied to for a very long time and as the truth comes to light nothing is as it seems.

The Happiness Thief was a fun, quick read once I got past about the first third. There was a slow build, but once I got a little way in, the story picked up and had twists and turns in abundance. I loved the way each new clue unfolded a piece of the puzzle and it all came together in such a great way. Natalie was pretty easy for me to sympathize with and want to follow; however, I wasn’t fond of Isabel. Something about her just didn’t sit well with me but played out well in the end with how she was written in her story arc. Some of the secondary characters really brought a lot of what I needed to make the story mesh properly. At several different points throughout the story I enjoyed how Bokot showed we must do to find happiness for ourselves, we can’t rely on others to bring us happiness. I would recommend this book to mystery lovers that want a real page turner after a bit of a slow start.

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

Power Play

Author: Rachel Dylan

Series: Capital Intrigue #3

Publisher: Bethany House

Release Date: June 1, 2021

Rating: 5 out of 5.

The third installment in the Capital Intrigue book is the best in the series with more action, danger, and romance at all the right swoon-worthy moments.

While at a diplomatic dinner, State Department attorney Vivian Steele watches as two ambassadors collapse, and it is soon speculated that poison is involved. She is quickly recruited into a joint FBI task force to investigate what really happened. Together with Diplomatic Security Service agent Jacob Cruz, they must figure out who is behind the attack, if anyone else is being targeted, and who can be trusted. Viv works with her sources and Jacob uses his skills as a former Navy SEAL to find the truth and stay alive as the danger comes closer and their working relationship becomes complicated by their growing feelings for one another.

I’m going to start with the only bad thing I have to say about this book, it is the last in the series and I don’t want this series to end! Each book has brought more drama, suspense, romance, tension, and characters that I have fallen in love with. This one really had a way of making me extra invested in the characters and what was going to happen. So much tension builds with each chapter that it kept me glued to my seat turning the pages as fast as possible. I love it when a novel gets me so engrossed, I forget about everything else going on around me. One thing I loved was the fact that Viv was a twin and Dylan really showed that relationship and how important it is. Each of the main characters from the previous books show up as secondary characters, so readers get a chance to see how their stories are continuing to progress which is nice. I recommend this book and series to anyone who likes romantic suspense with a great storyline that is fast paced and a good clean read.

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

On the Cliffs of Foxglove Manor

Author: Jamie Jo Wright

Publisher: Bethany House

Release Date: June 1, 2021

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Jaime Jo Wright does it again!! I could not put this book down. Such a fantastic back and forth story that will grab your attention at the very beginning and make you feel like you are on the edge of the cliffs.

In 1885, Adria Fontaine is on a mission to retrieve what her father has pirated and return it to him. She must go to Foxglove Manor, a house on the cliff overlooking Lake Superior. This mission is the only way to keep her father from putting her into an institution and Adria is determined to find the treasure. Standing in her way is the mistress of Foxglove, a cruel old woman with more secrets and danger than Adria left behind at home. In present time, Kailey Gibson finds herself and her autistic brother at Foxglove, which has been turned into a senior home, as the new nurse’s aide. When she was younger, her family took a vacation to Foxglove when it was a rental and shortly after she was kidnapped for a day and returned home safely. She has repressed memories of this time but is hoping returning to Foxglove will help her figure out what really happened. To get to the truth, she is going to have to uncover deep, hidden secrets the manor doesn’t want exposed to the world.

Anyone that has ever read a Jaime Jo Wright book knows that you are going to have to set aside a good chunk of time to read and not be bothered. These are the types of books you want to read and never put down. I devoured this book as there is so much good within the pages. Not only am I floored by the way she takes two different timelines and weaves the stories together flawlessly, but each story also holds my interest equally. Some writers focus more energy on only one of the timelines, causing the other to be more dull, but not Wright!. Each of the characters, no matter if they were minor or not, had me vested in their story and wanting to see it turnout for the best. Jaime Jo Wright is fast becoming one of my favorite authors and keeps me aching for more stories and worlds to lose myself in. I recommend this book to anyone that enjoys a beautifully crafted mystery with lots of depth to it and has a lot of time to set aside to devote to the story.

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