The Valiant

 

the-valiant

Author: Lesley Livingston

Publisher: Razorbill

Release Date: February 14, 2017

Rating: 5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

Sword fights, Julius Caesar and betrayal worse than Brutus makes for a captivating and impressive story.

 

 Fallon has always dreamed of being a warrior in her father’s army.  But the Celtic King has other plans.  Having lost his oldest daughter, Sorcha, to the armies of Julius Caesar, he refuses to let Fallon suffer the same fate and gives her hand in marriage to the brother of the man she loves.  She flees in the night and is captured and sold into slavery.  She ends up in the hands of an elite training school for female gladiators owned by Caesar. She now finds herself placing her survival in the hands of the man she has hated for longer than she can remember.  Fallon is in for the fight of her life as treachery is around every corner and she doesn’t know whom to trust.  To top it all off, she finds herself falling in love with a roman soldier, something she never would have dreamed.  With danger ahead, Fallon will have to use all her training to stay alive and prove how valiant she can truly be.

 

 I don’t even know where to start, other than to say that this was such a powerful and exciting story I am sad to see it end.  This is the type of book that you almost hate to read because you know that whatever you read next isn’t going to stand much of a chance of being even remotely as good.  Usually with a good story, it starts with a coincidence and only one.  From that point on, everything needs to come together as the characters should do and act.  That is a hard feat to accomplish but was done so well here that I loved every moment of the story.  There were so many twists that played out beautifully.  I don’t want to give too much away, but I will say the reveals of who some of the characters actually were and how they tied in together had me smiling and pumping my fist at how well Livingston pulled it all off.  This is a story that is unique, genuine, and highly entertaining.  I can’t really say which group of readers I will be recommending this too because I don’t want to leave anyone out that would enjoy the story as much as I did.  There is something here for almost everyone, in my opinion.  I heard there is a sequel coming out and that can’t come soon enough.  This will for sure be one of my top picks for the year.

 

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

 

Breaking and Holding

 

breaking

Author: Judy Fogarty

Publisher: Lake Union

Release Date: August 2, 2016

Rating: 3 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

A story of love, betrayal, and what to do when you find love but can’t have it.

 

 Set in the summer of 1978, Patricia Curren finds out her husband has had an affair.  Instead of approaching him about this and dissolving her marriage, Patricia decides to spend the summer alone on Kiawah Island.  She has always been a loner, hiding away in her books.  On the island, she ventures out and meets Terry Sloan, a college tennis player working at the country club for the summer.  It is an instant attraction for them both that quickly turns toward obsession.  They both have secrets, some worse than others, and the summer is quickly coming to a close.  Terry is trying to turn pro and has a sponsor interested in him who is about to bring their relationship to the edge of imploding.  Between the sponsor, Patricia’s husband coming to the island, and so many other problems, they are about to face more than either of them can handle.

 

 Breaking and Holding had a lot of potential that didn’t fully hold up for me.  There were several good points that I want to highlight first.  My biggest praise would have to be that this book had some of the best character development of any I have read in a long time.  From beginning to end, the characters fully change and develop into who they are at the end of the story and not the same as at the beginning.  I didn’t think it would happen but the end was satisfying for how it played out throughout the novel.  Even with those positives, there were several negatives for me.  The language bothered me.  I got very, very tired of seeing the F word.  It was just not necessary so much of the time.  Most of the novels I read don’t have that kind of language, and that’s how I prefer it.  But there are a rare few that have language that are written so well that it doesn’t bother me, especially if it isn’t overused.  The story is told from several different viewpoints, mostly Patricia and Lynn (Patricia’s husband’s assistant), and a few instances of the view point of Terry.  This could bother some readers, but I had no problems with following who was talking and how it shaped the story.  Overall it was an okay story but not one I will be picking up again.

 

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

 

 

Redeeming Grace

redeeming-graceAuthor: Jill Eileen Smith

Series: Daughters of the Promised Land #3

Publisher: Revell

Release Date: February 14, 2017

Rating: 5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

Another well-known story of redemption told beautifully.

Many people know the story of Ruth, or at least they think they do. But is it really Ruth’s story?  Or Naomi’s story?  When Elimelech and Naomi leave Bethlehem with their two sons to find relief from the famine, they come to the land of Moab.  Moab is land that worships gods made of stone and wood, which the people offer human sacrifices to.  But Elimelech isn’t worried as the land he is harvesting is very plenty and bountiful.  But when he is suddenly mauled by a bear on his way home from the town, things begin to change in Naomi’s life.  Suddenly both her sons plan to take Moabite women as their wives rather than from their own people.  These two women are Orpah and Ruth.  As the years go own, Naomi’s sons become more engrossed in the culture and working the land rather than returning home until they suddenly become ill and die on the same day.  Now in grief, Naomi plans to return home, but releases the holds of her two daughters-in-law so that they may return to their families.  Orpah leaves and returns, but Ruth journeys back with Naomi to Bethlehem, but will she be welcome?

I end the synopsis here because if you do not know the story of Ruth, I want you to read this fantastic fictional account. I have always loved the history that Jill Eileen Smith brings to her stories and how the details always seem to fall into place.  The book of Ruth in the Bible is very short and may appear vague when you read it.  It may leave you with questions as to why was Ruth so loyal to Naomi?  But I believe it is really more about the change in culture over time with regard to the Bible.  When the Israelites would have heard the story of Ruth recited, they would have known the importance of land possession and the kinsman redeemer.  Today, the common person probably doesn’t have the same biblical knowledge as they did at the time.  Thankfully, this book really takes on the story and tells it in such a way that makes it extremely understandable.  This is one of my favorite stories and this book just makes it that much better.

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

Recruits

recruitsAuthor: Thomas Locke

Publisher: Revell

Release Date: February 14, 2017

Rating: 4.5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

An out of this world Fantasy adventure that will leave the reader aching for more!

Sean and Dillon Kirrel are twin brothers who have always enjoyed looking into the possibilities of other worlds. So much in fact, that they have sketched out what one might look like.  Shortly after they turn seventeen, they are approached by a man telling them he is interested in them for a potential job.  It turns out that he is looking to them for a unique gift they have, the ability to transition between worlds, including the one they have sketched and imagined.  He shows them how to transition between the different worlds and it is quickly clear that the twins are destined for great things in this world and beyond.

I haven’t read much science fiction, just not my go-to books, but the way Thomas Locke writes I think I might just have to add more to my pile. Recruits was a very interesting story.  For the most part, the story is set on Earth, and the times it is on another planet.  In this book, we don’t see enough of the planet to need a large amount of setup for the location.  And even though it talks about many different planets, it is mostly dealing with humans so you are not having to picture all kinds of different beings, except towards the end.  The writing was quick and clean without a lot of unnecessary information to slow down the story which I appreciated.

There were a few aspects that did leave me scratching my head. The twins are basically on their own at seventeen.  Their parent’s lack of involvement is explained but I didn’t totally buy it.  Additionally, the ending tied up all the loose ends and all but I didn’t feel it left it open well enough with suspense for the next in the series.  It also felt like there wasn’t enough closure and explanation; it was almost like, BAM finished.  The attack at the end could have been played out with a little more explanation.  Overall it was a very enjoyable read and fans of Science fiction and Fantasy are sure to love it.

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

Code Name: Papa

code-name-papaAuthor: John Murray

Publisher: Archway Publishing

Release Date: September 30, 2015

Rating: 4 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

Ever wonder about who keeps evil out of everyday life? Just know that Papa’s taking care of it.

Just when you think you are living a mediocre life, everything gets turned upside down. That’s what happened to John Murray.  He joined up to serve in the Vietnam War and made two close friends named Jake and Bill.  After a disaster where everyone believed John to be dead, he was picked up by a Japanese freighter and delivered back to the United States where he was reunited with Jake and Bill.  Soon, Jake’s father says that he wants to have a meeting with all three where he briefs them into the intelligence world, should they choose to accept.  Jake’s father is code named Papa.  After their first few missions, Papa calls them back in and explains that he has stage four cancer and only has weeks to live.  From now on, John will be Papa.  The adventures that ensue include several missions throughout the world for several different governments and agencies.  Kill missions, cleanups, arms deals, you name it, this team did it.  But at what cost to keep people safe?  Marriages, health, families, and sanity all suffer.  But in the end, they know they can’t turn their back.

This is an eye opening read. The amount of conspiracy throughout the world is staggering.  The amount within the United States own borders and even military is even more alarming.  I was shocked to learn of how this team was used to clean up high ranking officers that had gone rogue because the Uniform Code of Military Justice wouldn’t be effective or cause too much bad PR for the US.  Not to mention that a US sanctioned team would be used by Russia in the 1970s and 1980s to handle their dirty work.  I guess it just goes to show that you don’t know what you don’t know.

Overall, this was a really interesting book that was very fast paced. There is a lot of emotion throughout the book based on what happened to several of the different team members.  From suicide to murder, it is all in there.  And no one outside the direct team knew what was going on.  It was well written and kept my attention throughout the book.  If you like real life espionage, then this one is for you.  However, there is a considerable amount of foul language, so only mature audiences should read this book.

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

The Newcomer

the-newcomerAuthor: Suzanne Woods Fisher

Series: Amish Beginnings #2

Publisher: Revell

Release Date: January 31, 2017

Rating: 4.5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

A beginning novel about finding your true place in life.

Bairn Bauer has had rough life after being separated from his family and sold into slavery until he was bought to be a cabin boy for someone who was actually good. Then on a trip across the sea, he sparked up a romance with Anna Konig, who was coming to the New World from Germany with her Amish Church.  He was even reunited with his mother on the ship and his father once it arrived at Port Philadelphia.  But now they don’t want to talk about the lost years.  They just want to move on like nothing happened and have Bairn become a leader in their church.  But Bairn being a man of the sea can’t resist an opportunity he is given as a first mate on a ship running to England and back over the winter.  Will Anna wait for him upon his return?  Especially with a newcomer on the ship over named Henrik Newman?

Anna Konig has fallen in love with Bairn Bauer, but is pained watching his reunion with his parents. She knows it must be difficult, but hopes that Bairn can find a way to get along with his parents as they travel to the land that their bishop has warranted.  But when Bairn suddenly tells her that he is going back on a ship, she begins to question whether she ever rely or trust him.  As they travel to meet up with their bishop, a newcomer, Henrik Newman seems to have taken an interest to her.  His views are a little different, but he seems to be a natural leader.  When they arrive at the settlement, no one has seen or heard from the bishop.  When people begin getting restless for a new leader, they begin looking to Henrik and possibly to Anna to become his wife.  But what is in Anna’s heart?

I’m not a huge reader of Amish fiction, but I decided to give this one a try. I was very impressed with how much this story intrigued me.  I haven’t read the first in the series, but this on easily stands on its own.  The romance between Bairn and Anna played out very well, but was pained to see them part.  Then the events of the ship that Bairn was on that led her to believe he was dead easily played into Henrik’s hand.  I found Henrik very easy to dislike through the entire book, even up till the end.  At one moment, there was a pang of sympathy (only a pang), but it was quickly erased within the next few pages.  Not quite a happy ending, but definitely an open transition to the next book.  I’ll be looking forward to it.

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

Still Life

still-lifeAuthor: Dani Pettrey

Series: Chesapeake Valor #2

Publisher: Bethany House

Release Date: January 31, 2017

Rating: 4 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

When Avery Tate makes her way back into the art world that rejected her to support a friend, she never imagined she would end up investigating her possible death!

When the photography world turned its back on Avery Tate, she put her talents to use as a crime scene photographer. She started working with analyst Parker Mitchell and it wasn’t long before she developed feelings for him as more than just working partners.  She knew she couldn’t work with him feeling the way she did, so she quit working with him, but it wasn’t enough to shut of her growing feelings.  Now, for the first time since being rejected, Avery is going back to the art world for a gallery opening to support a friend that is being featured in one of the photos.  However, when she arrives her, friend is nowhere in sight except for a picture that shows her deceased.  The photographer says that is not the picture he took.  Avery knows she is in over her head and calls Parker to help. Together they search for the truth of what happened to her friend and who might be to blame.

Dani Pettrey is becoming a top name in the Christian Romantic Suspense world and for good reason. Her Alaskan Valor series was top notch.  Now with the second book in her Chesapeake Valor series she is continuing that trend.  I really liked the concept of this book.  And while it was a really good read I can’t say that it was my favorite.  I had several issues.  Even though there weren’t a massive amount of characters, I found myself having a hard time following who was who at different times.  Between Avery and Parker as well as Declan and Tanner there seemed to be too much going on.  I wish the focus would have been on one of the couples and their growing romance instead of trying to go back and forth between them both.  Avery and Parker were the main focus and they came together pretty good.  The tension really heated up about three quarters of the way through.  At this point there, was a spot I thought it was about to take off into warp speed, instead it totally fizzled out.  I don’t want to give too much away about the story but I was really disappointed it didn’t go in the direction I was hoping.  Other readers might not have a problem with this but for me it wasn’t as good as it could have been.  Overall it was still an enjoyable read and romantic suspense lovers will want to add this to their list.

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