Spirit of the Fox

Spirit of the FoxAuthor: Matthew O’Connel

Publisher: Station Square Media

Release Date: October 23, 2018

Rating: 5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

Supernatural folklore twists make this a very compelling mystery.

It’s been nine years since Meiko Wright’s mother abandoned her and her father in San Diego and fled back to her native country of Japan. Since then she and her father have continued to live in San Diego through her teenage years and she has resented her mother ever since.  She blames her for all the missed first times that she should have had with a mother.  But now her father, an esteemed professor in folklore, has taken an assignment in Tokyo to allow Meiko to have some time with her mother to try to heal their relationship, even though Meiko wants nothing to do with it.  Even so, they begin a process of healing.

Meiko being half Japanese, decides to take in some of the tour scenes while in country. She decides to take a trip to Kyoto to see the temples and while at one of the most popular shrines, she is suddenly overcome and loses consciousness.  When she awakes, she has lost her memory and a priest vows to help her.  Since disappearing, both of her parents are worried about her.  When pictures of her surface with men no one knows who wind up committing suicide, she becomes a person of interest.  It becomes a race to see who can find Meiko before something worse becomes of her.

Interestingly, this is the fifth book that I’ve read this year set in Japan. More interestingly, they have all been set around murders.  This particular book was definitely intriguing.  The story of the fox spirit was interesting and how it has been in the Japanese folklore really brought it to life.  Couple this with finding a way to rebuild a damaged family brought the emotion aspect to the story as well.  The story is a bit predictable, but don’t let that take anything away.  It is very well written and worth reading.  There is some language and discussion of sex, but nothing too over the top.  I recommend this book to people who are interested in Japanese folklore or just love a good mystery.

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

Mind Games

Mind gamesAuthor: Nancy Mehl

Series: Kaely Quinn Profiler #1

Publisher: Bethany House

Release Date: December 4, 2018

Rating: 5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

With a writing style that reminds me of Tosca Lee, one of my very favorite authors, Mind Games was quickly devoured leaving me wanting more.

Trying her hardest to keep her past of being the daughter of a serial killer a secret, Kaely Quinn has had her name changed and kept close relationships to a minimum. She works as an FBI behavior analyst and is more talented than any other in her department with her unorthodox methods.  Her career is threatened when a reporter finds out who she is and she is transferred to St. Louis. This same reporter follows her to St. Louis and receives an anonymous poem predicting murders and the end of Kaely’s life. At first no one takes his claims seriously until a body turns up just as the poem said it would. There is no pattern to this like with a normal serial killer, which makes trying to profile him even harder. Kaely’s new partner is unsure of her at first but quickly comes to respect her and the unlikely methods she uses to solve cases. Both will be tested to their limits trying to solve their hardest case yet.

I have read several books by Nancy Mehl and enjoyed them all. Mind Games has to be the best yet by her. The writing style here just took an upturn and reminded me a lot of one of my favorite writers, Tosca Lee. I loved the story here and the way it all played out. There was much more Suspense than romance which helped to move the story along at a very fast pace.  The characters had great chemistry with each other and the relationships played out smoothly. The way the bad guy was revealed at the end and the motive made me smile, I saw it coming partly but was still a little surprised. Kaely is a great protagonist and readers will enjoy following her story. Her past is complicated and she lets it push her to evolve as the person she is meant to become. There is so much more to this story that I can’t wait to see unfold in the following books in the series. The relationship with her and Noah is bound to continue along with other members of her family. Mehl did a great job introducing characters that I’m sure will have a bigger role to come and I for one will be along for the ride.

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

Race for the Mind

Race for the mindAuthor: Daniel Gerard Welch

Publisher: Self-Published

Release Date: December 1, 2017

Rating: 5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

Probably the most informative medical thriller that I have ever read!

As the population grows in number and the average life span continues to lengthen, the number of cases of Alzheimer’s disease continue to increase as well. As the current leading untreatable disease in America, millions are affected every year.  As the mind continues to degrade over time, family and loved ones can only watch and support the best they can, often having just as negative an effect on them as the actual person diagnosed.  Hopefully one day, there will be medicine that can cure or at least recede the symptoms.

BioNeura, a small medicinal start-up company in San Francisco, has just determined that a new experimental drug that they have developed shows positive signs of deferment of the disease. But they lack the capital needed to get the drug mainstreamed so that it can be reviewed by the FDA.  The group begins with a quest for venture capitalist partners to begin further development of the drug.  What ensues is a step by step process of how the company must begin to make this drug available to the market, as well as the time that it takes to actually put the drug through trials, funding, marketing, and eventually a successful product lunch.  But there are always antagonists along the way such as rival companies, activist groups, and sometimes even our most personal relationships. Race for the Mind is destined to become a hit.

This is probably the most informative medical thriller that I have ever read! I know a little bit about the process that it takes to have a drug considered and eventually approved by the FDA for market, but this book really took it to the next level to let the reader know just how long that it can take.  Another interesting part of this book was the process of growing a small start-up company into one that handles full production, manufacturing, and distribution of products.  It was very interesting to see the dynamic of the leadership and watch it unfold each time the company took a new step, be it a merger, acquisition, or going public.  I loved watching a cast of unlikely characters who all initially meet at a conference in Las Vegas come together to create a great story.

I highly recommend this book to people who love a good thriller and anyone who is interested in Alzheimer’s disease.

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

Just After Midnight

Just after midnightAuthor: Catherine Ryan Hyde

Publisher: Lake Union

Release Date: December 4, 2018

Rating: 5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

While dog might be man’s best friend, Hyde shows that horses may very well be a girl’s best friend.

Faith has left her husband after taking all that she can take and heads to her parents’ California beach house. She doesn’t know what the future holds, but knows she has to do it on her own. She never expected to get involved helping a young girl running away from her father and trying to deal with the death of her mother. Sarah is living with her grandmother after her mother’s death. It was ruled a suicide but Sarah knows more than she has told the authorities about what really happened to her mom. Sarah’s grandmother is trying to get custody of her and needs to keep her away from her father. Faith ends up taking Sarah on a journey to try and lift her spirits. Her father has sold her beloved horse and together Faith and Sarah spend the summer following the horse from show to show and learning a lot about themselves in the process.

Catherine Ryan Hyde has solidified herself as one of the very best in writing literary and women’s fiction. Her writing gets to the reader’s heart and soul, showing that there is still kindness in the world. I loved everything about this book. The characters were relatable, strong and yet not afraid to show their sensitive side. I thought the story would be more about Faith and what happened with her husband but instead it was more about Sarah and how she is dealing with the problems she is facing with the loss of her mother and her father’s involvement in what happened. The relationship between Faith and Sarah blossoms and shows that the two need each other even if they don’t realize it. The way Hyde builds these characters and makes the readers care deeply what happens is better than almost anyone I have read before. She is able to get to the heart of the story and keep us enthralled so much so that it is hard to believe the story is over until the last page is turned. I recommend this book to readers who love a good story with characters they will fall in love with. Those that love a story about horses will also enjoy this story but being a horse lover is not a requirement to enjoy.

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

The Color of Lies

the color of liesAuthor: CJ Lyons

Publisher: Blink YA Books

Release Date: November 6, 2018

Rating: 5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

A great YA thriller with heart!

Ella Cleary has never been like everyone else. She has grown up with a special medical condition called synesthesia, a scrambling of the senses that gives Ella the ability to see colors that show people’s true emotions. Others have it affect other senses. This ability has always helped her when judging and reacting to others until she meets a guy she can’t read. Alec comes into her life unexpectedly and drops a bombshell in her lap telling her the truth about her parents’ deaths. She had always thought they died in an accidental fire, but it turns out it was no accident at all and the real truth of what happened has never been discovered. Finding out this truth makes Ella wonder whom she can trust and if everything she has believed has been a lie. The only way that Ella can discover the truth about her past and what really happened to her parents is to find a killer.

The Color of Lies is such a new and unique book to me that I couldn’t put it down.  I loved the characters and the story arc. Ella and Alec have a great chemistry that leads the story down just the right path.  There is a little bit of back and forth in the story between the present time and what happened over a decade ago to Ella’s parents. Also, readers need to be aware of the flipping of point of views between Ella and Alec, they are at the top of each chapter to distinguish who’s point of view it is in so that greatly helps. For readers who have trouble following the switch, they may want to pay extra attention to follow along. For me this was a great way to move the story along and give the readers the most information to be fully involved in the story. One thing that surprised me was the fact that this book has much more prose than dialogue, something that usually slows a story down for me, not here, I was too intrigued with what was going to happen and didn’t really need the dialogue to speed things along. All of the supporting characters were significant to the story and added to it without taking away from the main characters and what they were trying to accomplish. Overall I would say this was a very enjoyable read and will recommend to both YA and adult readers who love a good mystery.

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

Jerusalem’s Queen

jerusalem queenAuthor: Angela Hunt

Series: The Silent Years #3

Publisher: Bethany House

Release Date: November 6, 2018

Rating: 5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

As the silent years continue, an unlikely leader emerges to guide the Jewish nation.

Salome Alexandra has spent all of her six years of life in the small town of Modein. But when her father and sister are killed in an accident, she and her mother’s lives are on the brink of change.  A distant relative from Jerusalem has come to claim them to live in his house.    He is the son of the high priest and they will have a good life.  As the time draws near for them to come to Jerusalem, the high priest and two of his sons are murdered and the relative that claimed them has now become high priest.  When they arrive in Jerusalem, Salome begins to get educated and is given a personal attendant.  These two women, slave and free, begin to realize they are merely pawns in a man’s game and neither are truly free.  But God works in mysterious ways and Salome was always told that she had a purpose in life for which God had set her aside.

I think my favorite part of reading historical fiction by Angela Hunt is that she picks characters that I know nothing about and gives me a history lesson. She makes me go research the characters so that I can compare sources I can find against her work and I love it.  I love the research she does to make these past figures come back to life and I love the research she makes me to do learn more about it.  This book was no exception.  I had not heard of Salome Alexandra before, but I know about her now.  Told between viewpoints of Salome and her attendant Kissa, this story unfolds tragedy, growth, forgiveness, and purpose.

I recommend this book to historical fiction lovers, biblical fiction lovers, and people who enjoy Hunt’s work!

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

Enclave

EnclaveAuthor: Thomas Locke

Publisher: Revell

Release Date: November 20, 2018

Rating: 4.5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

With post America in shambles, a special group of humans may be the only hope!

Caleb lives with his father in a West Virginia enclave making a living as a trader, but Caleb has a secret, he is able to sense things about other people. During a heated encountered between his father and two tribal leaders, Caleb senses that one of the leaders aims to kill his father.  When he turns and yells this to his dad, the leader realizes that Caleb is what they call specials.  Realizing that he can never return home, Caleb sets out to meet up with his dad along the road later to determine what he can do now.  He comes upon another young man named Kevin, who has run the underground railroad for refugees to get them to safety, but the militia have cracked down on Kevin and want him to round up specials.  Kevin and Caleb strike up a quick but trustworthy friendship that will set a course to change the future for all involved.

The dystopian post-apocalyptic genre has quickly become one of my favorite. It gives every author a blank canvas to create what they believe the world is going to look like in the future and many of the authors have focused solely on America.  Locke chooses to use this same approach and has a little bit of supernatural tied in as well.  Human experiments mixed with a plague causes devastation throughout the country.  Now most people live in enclaves with some townships remaining a mega power centers.  Locke has never disappointed me with the quality of his writing.  He always comes up with new ideas, especially in his future worlds.  They are always action packed and the short chapters really move the books along.  I’m looking forward to the characters getting developed during the next books to see how they flesh out more.  If you need a new series to end your year, grab a copy!

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