Wolf Point

Author: Ian K. Smith

Series: Ashe Cayne #2

Publisher: Thomas & Mercer

Release Date: October 5, 2021

Rating: 4 out of 5.

A fantastic thriller that kept me on the edge of my seat and reading far past my bedtime!

When the body of Walter Griffin, a prominent Black Chicagoan, is found at a watery grave in Wolf Point and ruled a suicide, the case ends up in the hands of Ashe Cayne, who knows there is more to the story. Griffin’s children come to the detective and ask him to look deeper into the case than the rest of law enforcement to find what might have been missed. They know their dad never would have done such a thing, even if it means uncovering dark secrets, they want to know the truth. Everyone is a suspect and Ashe must watch his own back in order to not end up like Griffin.

When I read this, I didn’t realize it was the second in a series and am now itching to get my hands on the first Ashe Cayne novel. The writing was smooth and the story entertaining. Even though this was the second in a series, I didn’t feel that I was missing out on a lot; readers can easily pick this up as a stand-alone and enjoy without feeling lost. Smith did a great job of crafting a mystery while keeping readers turning the pages. A few points in the story went a little slow for me but not enough to slow the entire story. It was a fun and in-depth look into Chicago that really made me feel like I was in the city and following right along with Cayne as he went about solving the crime. Lots of great secondary characters that filled the pages with little bits of humor and enough tension that kept a great pace throughout the entire story. There is a bit of language, so it is not appropriate for a younger audience but great for the intended audience. I recommend this book for readers that love a great thriller with a protagonist they will want to read more and more about.

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

The Falling Girls

Author: Hayley Krischer

Publisher: Razorbill

Release Date: October 5, 2021

Rating: 3 out of 5.

A story about the hardships of growing up as a female and trying to fit in and survive in the ever-changing world!

Shade and Jadis are closer than any two best friends could ever be. They share everything, clothes, toothbrushes and more. One day Shade decides to join the cheerleading team. She has always been into gymnastics and now wants to become part of the “in” crowd. Jadis sees her friend slipping further and further away the more time she spends with the cheer girls. When one of the cheerleaders dies under suspicious circumstances, Shade takes it upon herself to discover what really happened. She is afraid Jadis might have had something to do with it, and if it’s true, Shade feels she will somehow be responsible as well.

The Falling Girls had a great premise but fell a little flat for me. I know it has been a while since I was a teenage gir,l but the vapid shallowness of the characters running throughout the story really annoyed me. I grew up in a small West Texas town, sports were a big deal, which meant cheerleading was a big deal. But I never remember any of it being remotely close to this. Shade and Jadis were both very annoying, almost as annoying as the three Chloe’s on the cheer squad. Which also became very confusing having three characters with the same name.

I know this book is classified as a young adult, but I have a hard time recommending it to young readers because of the language and other mature content. There is plenty of high school drama, cliques and the power of friendship shown throughout the pages. There is also too much drama, irritation, annoying characters, and an overall flat storyline that just didn’t connect with me. If you are into high school drama in an exaggerated setting with lots of toxicity then this is the book for you, otherwise I wouldn’t recommend.

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

Raising Dragons

Author: Bryan Davis

Series: Dragons in our Midst #1

Publisher: Tyndale

Release Date: October 5, 2021 (Rerelease)

Rating: 5 out of 5.

The first book in The Dragon in Our Midst Series is a fun fantasy novel I can’t wait to let my son read. Clean, entertaining, and magical; a great combination for young readers!

Billy is called Dragon Breathe by kids at school after a science experiment gone wrong. He’s been dealing with abnormally hot breath as he has gotten older and when his breath accidentally sets off the fire sprinklers, his parents finally tell him the secret they have kept all his life, he is half dragon. Once he knows the truth, a lot of things make more sense about his life. When a new girl at school arrives hiding her own secret, Billy becomes the only one she can trust. Bonnie and Billy discover they are part of a legend leading back to Arthur and Excalibur. Together they find more faith and courage they didn’t know they had to deal with an evil slayer determined to exterminate the dragons forever.

I took this book with me to the hospital while my mom had a procedure and ended up reading the entire thing in one day. It was a fun, exciting, entertaining, and clean read. I love finding a great book that I can recommend to my son to read without any worry that the material will not be appropriate. Books on dragons and mythology aren’t my normal go-to reads but I am so happy I gave this one a try. As the start of a series, this book brings all the right stuff, magical legends, drama, tension, evil and so much more. Bonnie and Billy make a great team to move the story along and keep readers entranced in the story. The writing is perfect for young readers and their parents. I wanted to read it and see if my son would like it and if it would be appropriate for him. Even though it is a story about dragons and legends of Arthur, it still has an element of faith. I recommend this to readers that enjoy mythical, magical, and fun stories.

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

Labyrinth of Lies

Author: Irene Hannon

Series: Triple Threat #2

Publisher: Revell

Release Date: October 5, 2021

Rating: 5 out of 5.

A fabulous romantic suspense by Irene Hannon, her best yet!!!

After the disappearance of a young girl attending an exclusive boarding school and some shady drug dealings in the area, Detective Cate Reilly is asked to go undercover. As she gets to the school and does some digging, she discovers that not everything is as it seems from the outside at the prestigious Ivy Hill Academy. What she never dreamed of is that the one man she fell in love with and broke her heart years ago is also undercover at the school. Zeke Sloan is working for the DEA to uncover the source of a drug ring close to the school. The second he sees Cate his heart stops, he never forgot the woman who stole his heart, and this is the last place he expected to run into her. Together, they work to solve their two cases that become more intertwined as the investigation heats up.

I have read a lot of Irene Hannon books over the years, but I have to say this is going to take the top spot out of all her books for me. The premise hooked me right away. I loved the idea of a female detective that is always mistaken for someone much younger than they are and able to use that to their advantage to go undercover like this. Right away, I was able to connect with Cate and everything she was trying to do. I believed in her mission and her ability to pull it off, I was invested! Zeke took me a little longer to connect with, not much though, his feelings for Cate jumped off the page at me and made me want to see them together. It was difficult to identify the villain and I was pleasantly surprised with how it all played out in the end.

With romantic suspense I usually have a pretty good idea how it is all going to play out, which can cause me to lose my interest partway through, but with this book, I was invested and had trouble putting it down. By far this is my favorite Irene Hannon book and can’t wait to see what she comes up with next! I recommend this book to fans of romantic suspense, even though it is the second in a series you don’t have to read the first to enjoy this one.

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

Blood from a Stone

Author: David James Warren

Series: True Lies of Rembrandt Stone #5

Publisher: TriStone Media

Release Date: October 5, 2021

Rating: 5 out of 5.

The next installment in the Rembrandt Stone series will leave readers on the edge of their seats and pulling their hair out waiting for the next in the series!

Detective Rembrandt Stone finds himself in trouble once again when everything he loves is in danger of being taken away. He has been across four different timelines trying to stop a killer. Rembrandt still has thirty-eight lives hanging in the balance and if he doesn’t play the hand he is dealt just right, he will lose the little he has left. All he wants is to get back to his time to find his wife and daughter safe and alive to grow old with him.

The True Lies of Rembrandt Stone is the kind of series you want to read one book right after another. The cliffhanger endings kill me!! I am so glad this is written and released in a way we don’t have to wait long for the next installment. Each time I think the tag team of David James Warren can’t get any better, I am proven wrong. The story is fast paced and tight, no fluff, just a good story. It is complex enough that requires readers to pay close attention to follow Stone as he goes back and forth between the timelines.

Rembrandt, Evie, and all the rest of the characters from this series make it one of the best I have read in a long time. With each time jump, Rem finds himself in a more complicated situation to unravel the threads that hold together his life making it easy to root for him to succeed. My heart breaks for him each time he gets bad news that shows his attempt to fix his future hasn’t worked out as well as he was hoping it would. With only one more book in the series, there is a lot to wrap up and I am dying to see how David James Warren will do it. I have no doubt it will all come together; this powerhouse team of writers is up to the challenge.

I recommend this book to readers that love a great time travel mystery with an intricate plot and characters you are going to fall in love with.  It is a series that needs to be read in order and not just pick one to pick up at random.

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

Stalker Stalked

Author: Lee Mathew Goldberg

Publisher: All Due Respect Publishing

Release Date: September 16, 2021

Rating: 2 out of 5.

Dark and twisted with a definite creepy vibe throughout.

Reality TV has become all that Lexi Mazur wants to do along with drinking and popping pills. Her boyfriend dumped her and now she spends her time fantasizing about becoming part of that inner circle of Reality TV stars. Her newest obsession is a show called Socialites and the star, Magnolia Artois, who she starts following on social media and showing up at the same places as the star. This isn’t the first time Lexi has ventured into stalking; both of her ex’s didn’t know she stalked them and manipulated them before dating. She works as a pharmaceutical rep and sneaking pills for her own use has become a daily habit. Lately though, Lexi fells as if she is being watched and wonders if the tables have turned and she is now the one being stalked. She must use what she has learned over the years stalking others to beat her own stalker.

I wanted to like Stalker Stalked, I really did, unfortunately I didn’t like any of the characters and the use of foul language was absolutely ridiculous. I know this is a mainstream book and as such isn’t expected to be clean but the over-the-top use of such crass language really bothered me. It doesn’t matter if you are writing for a Christian market or mainstream, you can write a fabulous book without that kind of language. To me it feels as if the author just didn’t want to put forth the effort to write without including that. I have also read many books with language that doesn’t bother me because it is written so well, I am engrossed in the story and the characters have connected with me. The only character I even remotely connected with was Pria, she was abused by her friend and kept trying to help anyway. All the other characters were over the top annoying and irritating. I did read this book in a single day but mainly to be done with it, so I don’t have to be annoyed or wasting time just by reading the words on the page. This is a very harsh review for me, but I was expecting something better and different and was disappointed the whole way through. If you are into Reality TV and following those on social media this might be a great one for you, if not skip it.

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

Sustainable Travel

Author: Holly Tuppen

Publisher: White Lion Publishing

Release Date: June 22, 2021

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Good guide for explaining the benefits of sustainable travel.

Are you a traveler? Have you ever thought about the impact that travel and tourism have on the world?  Many people either don’t think about it or don’t fully understand what that impact is.  Holly Tuppen has written a great book to help guide travelers through common issues that occur to our planet and how to help sustainably.  This book outlines how to travel better, whether the method or location.  There is also a good section explaining carbon emissions and your own travel carbon footprint and how you can reduce it.  Possibly the best part is when she gives ideas to some of the best locations that travels can visit responsibly and sustainably. 

I recommend this book to people interested in sustainability and travelers in general.

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

Beasts and Beauty: Dangerous Tales

Author: Soman Chainani

Publisher: Harper Collins

Release Date: September 21, 2021

Rating: 5 out of 5.

A new look at old fairy tales written with exceptional depth! Fairy tale lovers and those who seek an eerie and fantastical journey to familiar worlds in a new light will love this book!

If you think you know these stories, you are wrong; you don’t, not like this. Twelve different tales of magic and mystery with a twist showing a different side of the characters we’ve never seen. Paths to true happiness are not always what they seem, and the villains might not be as bad as we were led to believe. Each tale is a beloved classic but spun in a way readers see different angles and point of views that will leave them surprised, satisfied and wanting more.

Beasts and Beauty was a fun and entertaining read that made me look at the fairy tales I had known since childhood in an entirely different light. I’ve always loved fairy tales and look forward to different takes on them, Snow White and the Huntsman movie gave us a new look at the characters from the beloved fairy tale that had never been seen before and I, for one, loved the version. The normal reaction when discussing fairy tales is your damsel in distress and a big strong man coming in to save the day. But with this collection, you see it all very differently, but in a way that makes the stories make sense and won’t leave the readers scratching their head in confusion. There is very little throughout the book that I didn’t like and would not recommend for younger readers. It is a little darker but nothing so scary pre-teens couldn’t read and enjoy. The pacing is quick, the writing is clear, even when there is dialogue and no quotation marks. At first, I thought this was an odd way of writing but didn’t take me out of the story. I recommend this book to readers that are looking for a fun new story that is different from a lot of what is out there.

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

Since You’ve Been Gone

Author: Tari Faris

Series: Restoring Heritage #3

Publisher: Revell

Release Date: September 7, 2021

Rating: 4 out of 5.

If you loved the first two books in this series, you’re in for a treat with the third!

After spending a few years in Costa Rica helping her brother’s mission organization, Leah Williams returns to her hometown of Heritage, Michigan, keen on revitalizing her grandfather’s business: The Want It Find It store, abbreviated WIFI for short.  Sure, the acronym is a bit misleading, but she can’t help but want to try to make it as grand as it was for her as a kid.  When she goes to the bank to get a loan, she expects to meet with Dale Kensington, who is well known throughout town and a hard nose for business.  Instead, she finds that she is working with his nephew Jon, who made her life in high school insanely difficult.  She tries to find anyway that she can avoid him, but utterly realizes that she will have to put their differences in the past and work alongside him as a business partner.  Can this relationship get any worse?

So, if you’ve read the first two books, then you know how the formula is going to for in this series:  two relationships spring up between people that you would least expect that have to reconcile their differences to make it work.  Two of the people are from Heritage and the other relationship has one from Heritage and one outside.  Ultimately something happens from the past that jeopardizes one of the relationships, but then the “wronged” person learns something they did for them that makes them realize they love them and BAM, you have a future marriage.  All that said, the story lines of the characters are all different and each resonates differently with readers.  I love the return of Madison Westmore from the first book, who was such a disliked character.  Her maturity and backstory will soften readers’ hearts towards her and make all enjoy the story!

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

The World Played Chess

Author: Robert Dugoni

Publisher: Lake Union Publishing

Release Date: September 14, 2021

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Robert Dugoni has done something no other author has ever been able to do: write a book about war that I couldn’t put down! The World Played Chess is a fantastic book with life lessons for all.

Vincent Bianco just graduated high school in 1979 and all he wants to do is enjoy his summer before going to college and maybe make a little beer money. His sister’s boyfriend gets him a job working as a laborer on a construction crew where he meets two Vietnam vets that give him a better world education than any he could have received in school. Fast-forward forty years ahead and Vincent has his own son getting ready to leave for college when he receives a journal from William, one of the vets he worked with that summer decades ago, full of life lessons that help him prepare himself and his son for what lays ahead for them.

Robert Dugoni is by far one of the best authors I have ever read. He has a way of writing a story that goes deeper than most and characters that will pull you by the heartstrings. Never in my life did I think I would enjoy a book about war, just not my genre that interested me. But The World Played Chess is written so beautifully that I couldn’t help but enjoy every page. It didn’t matter if it was Vincent’s point of view or William’s time in war, I couldn’t help but want to know how the story would turn out and if these characters would have their happy ending. The way the life lessons of one character would influence the life of another and each one grew better because of the exchange. Usually, my favorite genre to read is suspense thrillers, they move fast and keep me hooked better than most. But anytime I pick up a Robert Dugoni book, I know I am going to have a fantastic read on my hands, it doesn’t matter if it is one of his suspense books or contemporary, it will be a book to remember. I could think all day and not come up with a single bad thing to say about this book; there is a little bit of language, but it is not written for a younger audience. I recommend this book for all adults that love a good contemporary novel with honest characters you will fall in love with and each chapter full of life lessons we can all walk away feeling better for having read the words written.

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