The Noise of War

The Noise of WarAuthor: Vincent B. Davis II

Series: Scrolls of Sertorius #2

Publisher: Thirteenth Press

Release Date: April 8, 2019

Rating: 5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

If you are a fan of ancient Roman history, then you need to get on this series! 

After the massacre of the Roman army by the Cimbri at Arausio, Quintus Sertorius finds that he is not the only survivor.  He lost his brother, 90,000 fellow soldiers, and his own eye, but he still has his good friend Lucius and his lover Arrea.  But such a crushing defeat weighs heavy on a man.  Eventually, he and Lucius discover about a dozen more survivors who Quintus then leads back to the Roman camp now commanded by Marius.  Once they arrive at the camp and begin to recover, Quintus reunites with Marius and meets his new legate Lucius Cornelius Sulla.  They have devised a plan for Quintus to become a spy and infiltrate the Cimbri camp.  Quintus realizes that this is likely suicide, but he feels compelled to accept the mission to avenge his brother and fellow soldiers.  As he embarks on this new quest, will he be able to muster the courage to help save the Republic?  Or is it all for naught anyway?

If you are a fan of ancient Roman history, then you need to get on this series!  Davis has dug up some great history that is not well known to many people, even those of us that frequent Roman history quite a bit.  He has chosen to chronicle out the life of Quintus Sertorius in this series of books.  The first book, The Man with Two Names, is of his early service in politics and joining the legion through the defeat of Arausio.  This new installment picks up where the previous left off and focuses on the continuation of his military service.  This installment also introduces readers to Lucius Cornelius Sulla, who is much more well known throughout history as a consul, and who future books will no doubt clash with as he and Sertorius lead opposite ends in a future civil war.  This book is rich with history of the Battles of Aquae Sextiae and Vercellae.  Sertorius character continues to be developed in this book as he goes from a leader, threw a period of self-pity, to becoming a leader again, who often second guesses himself but displays a brilliant military mind nonetheless.  One of my favorite parts of the first book was the developing relationship between Sertorius and Arrea.  There are aspects of this in the book, but I leave it up to readers to discover what is going on between them.

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

Driftwood Bay

Driftwood bayAuthor: Irene Hannon

Series: Hope Harbor #5

Publisher: Revell

Release Date: April 2, 2019

Rating: 5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

The newest installment in the Hope Harbor series brings the best romance yet with characters readers will quickly fall in love with and want to cheer on to the happiest of endings.

Hope Harbor seems to attract the right people at just the right time in their life. When Jeannette Mason needs a new start after losing everyone she has every loved, she retreats to Hope Harbor to start a new life with no intention of getting close to anyone. She feels that if she cuts herself off from everyone, she will keep herself from getting hurt again. Her plan works fine until Dr. Logan West shows up in town with his niece. He never thought he would become a father before he got married, but when his brother died overseas and his mom passes away, he becomes the sole guardian of a little girl he comes to love dearly. Both Jeannette and Logan find themselves in the middle of the town;s effort to help a Syrian family that has fled persecution and come to Hope Harbor. In the midst of helping others, Logan and Jeanette find what they least expected, love for those around them.

I was pleasantly surprised how much I enjoyed Driftwood Bay. I have always enjoyed Irene Hannon’s writing but am usually not as interested in romance as I prefer a little more action. For some reason, this story resonated with me.  I’m not sure if it was the interaction between Logan and Jeannette or the interaction between Logan and his niece. There was something about the way he did all he could to help an innocent child thrown into his life when he least expects it. There is love in his heart that he must let out to take care of her and even let anyone else in. Jeannette has a hard time trusting anyone and it isn’t until near the end that we find out her story and why she likes to keep everyone at arm’s length. I wish that would have been introduced a little sooner, so I could have felt more connected to her without wondering why she refuses to let anyone get close. Other than that, I thought the story flowed great and the characters were written in a way that really made me want to see them succeed. I loved the way Hannon wrote in the Syrian family, I would like to see them develop more in the next book. I love how each book in the series feels like a brand-new start and doesn’t have to be read with the others in the series to be enjoyable. I recommend this to fans of Hannon and those that enjoy a good romantic read.

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

The Eighth Sister

the eighth sister

Author: Robert Dugoni

Series: Charles Jenkins #1

Publisher: Thomas & Mercer

Release Date: April 9, 2019

Rating: 5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

Robert Dugoni’s newest series starts off with a stellar story that will hook readers and keep them guessing until the very end. Another well-crafted story by one of the very best.

 Charles Jenkins thought he had left his spy days behind him decades ago. He has a wife, son, and a new baby on the while with his security business is falling apart.  Just when things are at their worst, his past comes back into the present when his former bureau chief shows up with an assignment for him that could save him financially. He must travel to Moscow to find a secret Russian agent supposed to have been killing members of a US spy cell known as the seven sisters. With no other alternative, Charles agrees to the mission and heads to Russia where he finds what he least expects, the eighth sister. His mission doesn’t go off without complications and he finds himself trying to escape with no help from his country and risks his life to get back to his family he left behind.

 In typical Robert Dugoni fashion. readers are given a thriller that is unlike anything written by most authors out there. When Dugoni writes a thriller, readers are going to be pulled in and given a story they will be thinking about for days after they turn the last page. I loved the way he tied in David Sloane even though this was not a David Sloane novel. Charles Jenkins looks to be a stellar lead character for this new series and is able to bring in secondary characters that I can’t wait to see how they are further developed in future novels. The first half plays out as more of a spy thriller and the second half goes more into a legal thriller. Each are great in their own way and are still able to drive the story forward with tension between the characters and what is going to happen. This is very different from the Tracy Crosswhite series, which is my absolute favorite series. I was a little skeptical going into this that it wouldn’t live up to my expectations, but I am happy to say this was another great read by Dugoni.  I really enjoyed the start to this new series and can’t wait to see what will come next. I recommend this to readers that enjoy Dugoni’s writing style and a great spy/legal thriller. If you have never read anything by Dugoni, the start of this series would be a great place to begin your journey.

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

We Were Beautiful

We were beautifulAuthor: Heather Helper

Publisher: Blink YA Books

Release Date: April 2, 2019

Rating: 5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

An emotional novel that will make you want to laugh, cry, and reach through the pages to hug the characters tight as they go through their trials.

Mia Hopkins has had almost a year to deal with the car crash she was involved in that killed her older sister and left her face scarred. She has been told over and over that it will take time to heal and move on, but she doesn’t want to move on. The night of the accident is a blank to her; she can’t remember what happened that night and the little alcohol that was found in her blood doesn’t help matters. With her mother gone and not able to handle being around her and her father having to go away to work, Mia ends up going to spend the summer with her grandmother. Being in a new place and around new people, Mia tries to figure out how to move on and live the life she has left.

We Were Beautiful is a powerful read with a message that is hard hitting and can help those struggling with deep emotional issues who are having trouble moving beyond. Mia is scarred, not just on her face but deep inside emotionally having to life with what happened, and worse not even remembering what happened. The worst part of it all is the way she feels abandoned by her family. Her mom leaving her is the worst part of all, she knows she is hard to look at but having her own mother turn on her is worse than the accident itself. Being forced to go live with her grandmother turns out to be just what she needs. I loved the way Hepler brings out the best and worst in these characters, showing readers their flaws and heartaches and how they go about moving forward with their lives. We all have hard times and scars we must live with, inside and out. This is the first book by Hepler I have read, and I was incredibly impressed with the way she brought these characters to life leading me to route for them, cheer with their victories and cry with their hardships. While there wasn’t much action the story itself moved quickly. The tension between the characters and what they are going through is plenty to keep the pages turning and the reader pleased. I recommend this to young adult readers that want a story that will teach them a lesson about forgiveness and moving on in the hard times.

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

Justice Delivered

Justice deliveredAuthor: Patricia Bradley

Series: Memphis Cold Case #4

Publisher: Revell

Release Date: April 2, 2019

Rating: 5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

Patricia Bradley delivers one of her absolute best! Fans will not want to miss out on this installment of the Memphis Cold Case series. 

After years of being a victim of sex trafficking, Carly Smith has made her way out and is trying got find a new life for herself. Trusting others come isn’t something that she is ready to do just yet, and no matter how hard she tries to leave her past behind her it continues to haunt her. She knows she should have gone to the police when she first got away, but she fears if she goes to the police they won’t believe her or worse, might just send her back to the people who held her captive. When she finally feels comfortable to reach out to her family and reconnects with her sister, she thinks all is well until her sister ends up dead and her niece is kidnapped. Carly must face her fears and come forward with what she knows to save her family. When all else fails. she takes matters into her own hands and goes after the kidnappers herself.

There was something about this story that really drew me in more than any others in the series so far. The topic can be sensitive but unfortunately it is currently something we must deal with.  Patricia Bradley did an outstanding job of tackling a hard subject in an engaging and entertaining way for readers. Carly is strong through all she must endure and is able to use that to help others, especially her family when the time comes. Her fear of going to others for help is understandable after all she has been through and had others turn on her when she thought she could really trust them. I really enjoyed the way the relationship between her and Maggie played out. Almost all the secondary characters brought the story onto a whole new level, the story brought in aspects from the whole series and it was great to see the way the different characters interacted together.  For fans of the series, I highly recommend diving deep into Justice Delivered and savoring the story. If you haven’t ever read anything by Patricia Bradley, I strongly recommend reading this one, even if you haven’t read the others in the series it will be ok to start here. Each book can essentially be read as a stand-alone if it needs to be or enjoyed as a whole series.

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

Far Side of the Sea

Far side of the seaAuthor: Kate Breslin

Publisher: Bethany House

Release Date: March 5, 2019

Rating: 5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

A tale of war, pride, romance, and deceit told by the pen of a master.

Lt. Colin Mabry has had a tough go of his service in World War I.  After losing his hand in combat, he took some time away at a family farm before returning to duty.  Now stationed only a stone’s throw across the water to Paris, he is constantly reminded of the horrors of war when he hears the bombs.  As a code breaker, he deciphers messages all day long.  One day he comes across a message that is addressed to him.  A letter asking him to remember his promise and to meet at a café in Paris followed by the salutations of JR.  This could only be Jewel Reyer, the woman who saved his life and he promised to return for and gets permission to undertake this personal mission to Paris.

However, Colin is surprised to meet another young woman that is not Jewel, but rather her self-proclaimed sister Johanna.  She found Jewel’s diary and believes that she is being held against her will by a German officer.  After convincing Colin to help, they set out to find Jewel and bring her to safety.  As their trust within one another grows, so do their feelings toward each other.  But as they will discover, not everything is as it seems.  The danger they are heading into is not only treacherous but filled with espionage.  Can they really trust each other’s intentions and find Jewel safely?

Kate Breslin has a way of weaving readers into her stories so that they are not just observing the story but living it out.  I felt that I was right there with the characters for the entire journey.  I could feel what was unfolding and at times felt just a surprised at what the main characters uncovered.  Colin was flawed not just physically, but also with his pride.  This kept a tension between he and Johanna through much of the story.  Johanna was a broken person based on her past and always longed for a father figure.  She looked for the best in people and it wasn’t hard for her to find it in Colin.  This made the romance much more believable as it played out naturally instead of forced.

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

To Best the Boys

best the boysAuthor: Mary Weber

Publisher: Thomas Nelson

Release Date: March 19, 2019

Rating: 4 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

YA with a strong female lead who tries to get ahead in a male driven society.

Every year in Pinsbury Port, a mysterious letter is sent out to all eligible-aged boys inviting them to compete for scholarship at the all-male Sternwick University. The poor and the rich alike look to see their name and how likely it is they will make it. Rhen Tellur opens to see if she can decide which substances the ink and parchment are created from. Even though Rhen is a girl, she wants to be a scientist like her father. She wants to help find a cure for the disease ravaging their town. When the disease hits home, she decides to compete for the scholarship. With the help of her cousin, she disguises herself to get the best of the boys competing and get the prize. Not everyone is willing to accept a girl in this competition and things turn dangerously deadly before things are over.

While this book started very slow for me, I think it is a good book for girls looking to find empowerment in their mind and academics, especially math and science. I had trouble connecting with the characters at the beginning and unfortunately that stuck with me through a lot of the story. I did enjoy the fact that we see a strong female leading not letting the men and their idea of what a woman should be limited to keep her from following her passion and helping others. Rhen, the main character, is strong and determined but also a little scared with what could happen if she isn’t able to accomplish what she sets out for. The story reminded me in a way of The Hunger Games but set in a much different time and location with characters that were big into girl power and advancing their status in a much different way. Once part way into the story, the plot picked up and the characters came to life in a way that kept the story going till the last page. I think if readers can make it past the first few chapters that were a struggle for me they will find an enjoyable read. I recommend this to young readers that are patient and willing to keep turning the page for a story they will enjoy.

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