The Stranger Game

The Stranger GameAuthor: Peter Gadol

Publisher: Hanover Square Press

Release Date: October 2, 2018

Rating: 4 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

Intriguing concept of mistaking personal connection for stimulation.

Rebecca has had an off and on relationship with Ezra for several years. It started in college and has spanned most of their professional life.  When they go cold, they never separate for more than two weeks.  Ezra even followed Rebecca to the west coast after she took a job as an architect because he just couldn’t live without her.  But now he has gone missing.  When Rebecca checks his apartment to make sure he hasn’t hurt himself, she finds a print out of an article describing a phenomenon called the stranger game.  This game has people following random strangers to see if they can determine where they are going or what their life is about.  But society has taken the original concept and made it darker, now working to seduce victims that they are following.  They even begin staging violence to heighten peoples senses for playing the game.  In some cases, people just disappear.  Will Rebecca ever be able to find Ezra?  Or is he gone for good?  Just another stranger in a game?

The concept of this novel was really intriguing. It is basically saying that people have lost personal connections and have become isolated, lonely, and depressed.  Even when they have a relationship, they are still depressed because they don’t connect the way that nature intended.  Enter the stranger game.  This game allows people to imagine how another person’s life is lived, what they might be thinking, where they might be going, what they will be doing after that.  But the initial rules are never to make contact and never follow the same person twice.  But I suppose rules are meant to be broken and society has a knack for doing that.  It is terrifying to think that something like this could actually happen.  The book indicates that almost everyone starts playing the game.  Players are following players that are following players.

Overall it is a mystery and it is really a great read. I don’t want to give anything away, but you should really pick up a copy of this book.  It is worth your time.  There is some harsh language throughout the book as well as some mild sex scenes that still are more suited for mature audiences.

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

The Scythian Trials

the scythian trialsAuthor: Elizabeth Isaacs

Publisher: Vesuvian Books

Release Date: October 23, 2018

Rating: 4 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

A little bit of The Hunger Games mixed with The Valiant makes for a great read for a mature audience.

The Scythians are descendants of the Amazons and highly valued warriors. Nya Thalestris is one of the best in her generation and she has earned a spot in the Trials, a mating ritual responsible for the evolution of her species. Nya has a hard time letting anyone, especially men, get close to her or touch her, it sets her off violently. What she doesn’t remember is years ago she was abducted by their enemy, the Drahzda and tortured. Jax Nickius has been working with her for years to help her get past her abuse and he discovers hidden triggers in her mind. Jax has grown close to her and pursues her as a mate during the trials. When Nya’s memories start coming back, she realizes she has enemies within her own walls and her life is in more danger than she would have thought possible.

I was about to give up on this book but stuck with it and I am glad I did. The ending ramped up the tension and really made me care more about the characters. Nya is a real fighter and the kind of tough female lead character that is becoming more and more popular. However, I had mixed feelings about Jax. His devotion and feelings for Nya were clear and I didn’t have trouble relating to him on that level, but there was just something else about him that didn’t have me jumping to the edge of my seat when he was being written about. The secondary characters, especially the other warriors helped bring the story to life.  When Nya’s memories started returning and flashbacks showed what she had been through, I wanted more back-story and more scenes with Nya and Penn. While this is targeted to a Young adult audience, I have trouble recommending it to a young audience because of the language and sexual scenes throughout. With that being said, I do recommend this to readers that enjoy dystopian novels with plenty of action, tension, and romance throughout.

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

The Spartan Way

The Spartan WayAuthor: Joe De Sena

Publisher: St. Martins Griffin

Release Date: September 4, 2018

Rating: 4.5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

Spartan Up! Aroo!

Several people have heard about Spartan races, but what does it really mean to have a Spartan mentality? How do people continually train for these brutal obstacle course races year after year and continue coming back for more?  Joe De Sena, founder of the Spartan Race, breaks down the ten common principles found in the attitudes of true Spartan racers.  Each principle reflects a method to not only conquer obstacles in a race, but how to also conquer obstacles in your life.  These include prioritizing your life, making commitments, drive, and passion are just a few that are included.

Even though this book does have lots of stories about amazing Spartan racers, it is also geared more toward a book to help you succeed. These are the same principles that are found in many of today’s bestselling business books, just presented in a different format.  I was really hoping for more about the races themselves, but De Sena really parallels how these principles can fit into your life.  One of the best aspects of the book is about getting healthy and fit.  De Sena’s missing is to get people off the couch and into the world.  Find an experience and go out and do it, don’t leave yourself wanting.

There is some harsh language throughout the book, but it is fitting with the subject matter at hand. I recommend this book to people who are interested in obstacle course racing as well as need a boost in their life.

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

Delayed Justice

Delayed JusticeAuthor: Cara Putman

Series: Delayed Justice #3

Publisher: Thomas Nelson

Release Date: October 16, 2018

Rating: 5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

An absolutely fantastic book with a very timely message about speaking out on abuse even if it takes time and strength to say the right words.

Jaime Nichols has spent her whole life trying to get the strength to move on from the abuse she faced as a child. Now she is a lawyer fighting in the courtroom to give a voice to victims like her. After decades of counseling, she has gained the voice she needs to go against her uncle, the man who molested her when she was just a small child. He is up for promotion to become a one star general and with his power he is determined not to let Jaime ruin him.  While Jaime fights her own case, she is also helping a young girl who was abused and needs help healing. Chandler Bolton brings his therapy dog to help the young girl and is instantly drawn to Jaime. He sees her strength but also her pain and wants to help her heal. As Chandler and Jaime work together to help those hurt and without a voice, they are drawn to each other and find strength they didn’t know they had at just the right moments.

This is a book that can tackle a tough topic, but does it in a way readers will really be able to connect with and feel for the characters. Cara Putman has a way with legal thrillers, she brings out the drama in all scenes, inside the courtroom and out.  I love the fact that the court scenes aren’t boring and slow paced; there is still tension and heart pounding moments. It was obvious there was going to be chemistry between Jaime and Chandler, their connection was apparent from the first moment they saw each other. Both Jaime and Chandler have demons they are fighting but together they are able to work through these difficult times and find a strength they didn’t know existed. Faith is a big element throughout and I loved the way Putman incorporated The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe, such a timeless novel that played well with the struggles being faced here.  None of the moments of faith were too forward or in your face to push readers away that might not want to read that. It is enough to make readers think and maybe instill a few seeds to keep the reader thinking and possibly nudge them towards faith of their own.  It’s simple enough to show readers there is more out there if they will trust and look to God without trying to shove religion down anyone’s throat.  I recommend this book to fans of Putnam and also anyone that enjoys a good romantic suspense.  While this is a third in a series it can be read as a standalone without losing anything.

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

A Sparkle of Silver

Sparkle of SilverAuthor: Liz Johnson

Series: Georgia Coast Romance #1

Publisher: Revell

Release Date: October 16, 2018

Reviewer: Jennifer S. Roman

Camilla “Millie” Sullivan is having a hard go of it.  Living in the small beach town of St. Simons Island, Georgia, and working as a waitress at the Hermit Crab Café, Millie also looks out for her elderly grandmother, who has dementia.  As Grandma Joy gets worse, she is being evicted from her care facility because her dementia is too severe for her current home, yet she is being denied funding for anything more suitable.  Her life savings have been squandered as the result of her being a victim of a scam, and Millie has no idea what to do.  She takes a second job at Chateau Devereaux, a local historical home, and remembers that Grandma Joy mentioned a relative who stayed there one summer.  The relative supposedly left a diary there with clues to a buried treasure.  Not expecting much, Millie decides to search the library for the missing tome, and amazingly, finds it.  Before she can leave with the book, however, she is accosted by Ben, a security guard.  Not wanting to lose both their jobs, she makes him an offer he can’t refuse: help her find the buried treasure, and she will split the spoils with him.  Needing the money himself, Ben reluctantly agrees.  Ben is working three jobs in an effort to pay back money that his mother has swindled out of people.  While they don’t hit it off at first, Ben and Millie grow to trust each other and to find that they are actually quite attracted to one another.  But will they find any treasure and be able to claim it as their own in time to keep Grandma Joy from being homeless?

This is a quick, easy read with plenty to enjoy.  On one hand, the reader gets to know Millie very quickly and understands the immense love she holds for her dear Grandma Joy.  Ben comes off as gruff and unfeeling until we see him with his students and later as he explains why he works so hard.  Together, their chemistry makes us want to read more.  On the other side, the story unfolds through diary entries that Millie’s relatives wrote while enjoying St. Simons Island over the summer as a guest of a friend.  Ruth is a country girl from a farm, and a whole new world of mystery, romance, and danger greet her at the wealthy friends’ home.  Together, Ben and Millie get to know one another, and Millie’s heritage, while looking for what could be the answer to their problems.  The characters are likeable and easy to get to know, and the situation, while definitely unrealistic, is a fun break from real life.  I had no problem engaging in the book and quickly wanting more.  It was a quick read that left me satisfied when I was done.  I would definitely recommend this book as a fun, uncomplicated read to anyone who enjoys romance and mysteries, especially when we get an interesting glimpse into the past.

While the language is not offensive to the readers and the main characters don’t do anything more involved than kiss passionately, there is a murder and thwarted sexual assault.  Not many details are given, but if anyone is easily upset by these topics, I do recommend caution.  Otherwise, the story is short and sweet and full of historical references.  It is a chaste romance and interesting treasure hunt.  Any reader who enjoys this kind of story should find A Sparkle of Silver as charming as I did.

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

One Day in December

One Day in DecemberAuthor: Josie Silver

Publisher: Broadway Books

Release Date: October 16, 2018

Rating: 4 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

What happens when you see the one, but can’t meet them?

All it took was a moment in her mundane little life. Laurie was sitting on a bus on her way to her flat from work during Christmas when she saw him sitting at the bus stop.  They’re eyes met and they both knew in an instant that it was a connection meant to be.  They would spend eternity together just like you read in the books and see in the movies.  As he made his move to get on the bus and come to her, the doors locked and the bus drove away.  No names.  No number.  No way to see each other again.  Her flat mate, Sarah, tries to cheer her up and begins to fix her up with other dates, but she has elevated the nameless man to a place where no other man can touch him.  Then one day Sarah wants her to meet her new boyfriend, Jack.  As luck would have it, it’s him, the man from the bus stop.  Sarah is like a sister to her and Laurie knows she would never jeopardize their relationship, not even for Jack.  What ensues is a story about changes in life, romance, and circumstances that affect all because of one day in December.

I honestly did not expect this book to be as good as it was. I thought it was going to be a girl finds love with best friend’s guy and in the end it all works out.  However, this was more of a raw look at life and what circumstances can do and how it touches several lives, not just two or three.  There were so many different tangent lines that it was fun to watch them all connect in the future.  Through it all were Laurie and Jack, even when they were with different people. Silver did a great job of keeping those two characters at the center and really letting the reader see who they were and fleshing them out.  This isn’t your average holiday romance.  In fact, I’m pretty sure there might be a movie about this in the future that will be an exciting movie.

There is quite a bit of harsh language throughout the book as well as some sexual content that will be better suited for mature audiences. If you like holiday romances, this is for you.

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

Hidden Peril

Hidden PerilAuthor: Irene Hannon

Series: Code of Honor #2

Publisher: Revell

Release Date: October 2, 2018

Rating: 5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

Another edge of your seat read from Irene Hannon! Hidden Peril keeps true to Hannon’s great writing and will keep the reader turning the page.

It’s been twenty years since Kristin Dane took a vow with her friends to do what she could to make the world a better place and she is now making that happen with her fair trade shop. She has products from around the world and is able to bring attention to these areas and their needs by the products she sales. When people connected to her shop start dying, Kristin gets involved in the case.  She begins working with Detective Luke Carter. He has just started working with the St. Louis PD and is pulled deep into the case hoping to find answers. Kristin and Luke work with the FBI in a case that spans the globe and is more complicated than any of them first believed.  Together they work to stop this killer before more people die.

Hidden Peril is the second book in the Code of Honor series and I loved the way this story played out.  The way the story spanned the globe and brought about history and awareness to events not commonly talked about made it all the more interesting.  Irene Hannon is one of the best at romantic suspense.  At times her stories can be a little heavy on romance but this one played out with extra suspense, which I really enjoyed.  Some authors have a way with making certain characters especially evil and Irene Hannon is one of those authors, I felt the evil and let it roll with the story in the direction it was meant to go.  Nothing seemed forced and the characters meshed well together. Kristin is the type of character that is easily relatable and you want to pull for and see her succeed.  Luke and Kristin had an easy attraction to each other and the tension and danger they faced brought them closer together in a very natural way.  I am not sure if there will be another in this series, but if there is, I will be first in line to read it. I recommend this book to fans of Hannon’s work and those that love reading romantic suspense.

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