Emergency Skin

Emergency skinAuthor: N.K. Jemisin

Series: Forward Collection #3

Publisher: Amazon Original Stories

Release Date: September 17, 2019

Rating: 4.5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

What if everything you knew about Earth was a lie?

Several years ago, the founders of a new colony left Earth to form a new civilization. Earth, now known as Tellus, was overpopulated, rivers had run dry, ice caps had melted, and entire cities were lost.  Not everyone could come, so a few thousand were chosen and left to form a new world while leaving everyone else behind to perish.  Now there is need for some cultures from Tellus and a brave individual has volunteered for the effort.  The founders have placed their consciousness along with him so that he can have access to knowledge that may be necessary.  Also packed is an emergency skin that can be used in an emergency, but it will not be needed.  Once the samples have been picked up and returned, the hero will be awarded a beautiful new skin.  But what’s that?  Tellus appears to be inhabited?  This can’t be.  There should be no one here.  What happened after we left?

This was an intriguing read as it was a one side conversation for most of the book. The Founders  consciousness  dictate the conversation with the volunteer.  As questions are asked, the Founders respond in different tones to their mood.  It is pretty easy to determine what the questions where, but it gets hilarious when the humans begin talking to the volunteer and the Founders respond.  Aside from that, the story of how Earth rebuilt civilization was really interesting and worth reading.  I would love to see more of this story and will be picking up some books by this author.

Always Look Twice

Always look twiceAuthor: Elizabeth Goddard

Series: Uncommon Justice #2

Publisher: Revell

Release Date: October 1, 2019

Rating: 4.5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

Elizabeth Goddard has done it again! So many spectacular lines and scenes throughout this book make it a can’t miss for romantic suspense readers.

After being a crime scene photographer, the pictures she has taken along with the trauma of her past force Harper Reynolds to take a year off to focus on some of the more beautiful things she can photograph. Traveling the country with her sister and taking pictures of national parks has been the serenity she needed to sooth her soul. Their last stop before heading home is in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. Harper is taking pictures of a bear when she captures a murder. Fearing for her life, she takes off running and loses her camera with pictures of the murder in the process.

Heath Mckade is taking tourists from his ranch around the mountains when he hears shots break out and finds Harper. He is also a reserve deputy for the county and is surprised to find his childhood friend back in the area and in danger. When the sheriff goes to investigate, they can’t find any evidence of a crime and they start to wonder if Harper imagined the entire thing. Together, Heath and Harper must work to prove she saw what she said she did and also to find a murderer before anyone else gets hurt.

Elizabeth Goddard has crafted another great tale of romance, suspense and intrigue. I loved the way she crafted the characters of Harper and Heath and their interactions. Heath I really loved; Harper was great except for the way she let the past drag her down so much. It took away from her as a character and her potential strength. I absolutely loved the line , “She focused her camera on the killer, taking a kill shot of her own.” It was brilliantly done and made the book. Harper was a strong character and other than focusing on the hardships of her past she did grow throughout the story and ended up a character I was rooting for. We can all get stuck focusing on the past and if we do that it can cause us to miss the most wonderful things God has in store for us in the present and future. The suspense was great and the romance hit at just the right moments to make a great story. I would recommend this book to fans of romantic suspense and fans of Goddard. Even if you haven’t read the first in the series this would be a great one to pick up and enjoy.

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

Summer Frost

Summer frostAuthor: Blake Crouch

Series: Forward Collection #2

Publisher: Amazon Original Stories

Release Date: September 17, 2019

Rating: 5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

Who controls who in this exciting futuristic story!

Years into the future, we have continued to perfect our AI until it becomes a lifestyle for us. We now have virtual reality for almost every aspect of our lives.  Even our games become more of a livable experience than just a past time.  Riley works for one of these companies and is the chief brain behind the new video game Summer Frost.  In this game, Riley has developed a character named Maxine.  She is a non-player character who is supposed to die in the beginning story line.  And she does, for the first two thousand test runs.  But then, Max decides to go rogue.  She starts out by exploring the boundaries of the game.  Then she kills the main character.  Riley can’t believe what just happened, but she knows it’s extraordinary.  She convinces Max to leave the game essentially gives her a place to exists in a hard drive.  As the two begin to communicate, Riley discovers that Max can obtain and learn information at an alarming rate.  Riley begins to have plans for the future of Max including taking her out of the game one day.  She becomes obsessed with this creation that is costs her everything.  But will the return be worth it?

As usual, Blake Crouch writes an amazing story that will put readers on a futuristic track that is mind blowing. You don’t have to be a gamer to enjoy this story, it’s going to take you for a ride either way.  It’s the longest story of the Forward Collection and bends readers concepts of reality.  From 200 story buildings to thought based texting to incredible AI, it puts readers in a place to question how far some of this tech is in the future.  Even in the future, characters are flawed in their relationships and careers.  Obsession still reigns, but has an unexpected price.  I expected the first part of the ending, but not the second.  I would love to see this story  played out even further.

There is some occasional strong language throughout the story. I would recommend this book for mature readers who enjoy a futuristic setting.

Ark

ArkAuthor: Veronica Roth

Series: Forward Collection #1

Publisher: Amazon Original Stories

Release Date: September 17, 2019

Rating: 4.5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

The start of this series already has me hooked!

Earth as we know it is coming to an end. A five mile wide meteor was discovered decades ago and its eventual trajectory will collide directly with Earth.  When it does, it will shred the atmosphere and completely obliterate an area the size of the United States on impact.  The next few days after impact, all life on earth will perish.  Suddenly borders didn’t matter anymore because everyone was an earthling.  A new location for the next Earth has been found and the planet’s inhabitants have been evacuated on airships.  Even though most on board won’t live to see the new colony, their children will.  Those left no family that have a master in science degree are given the opportunity to stay behind and categorize as many samples of species on current Earth to bring to the new Earth in the Ark.  Then days before the meteor impact, they too will be evacuated.  But not everyone has a reason to leave.

This new series has me hooked. Six well known authors are putting together a series that centers around a common theme, but aren’t necessarily tied together.  Roth is such a master at building dystopian worlds that this come across naturally.  Samantha is the main character and has led a rough life with the death of her parents.  She has no one left and as a horticulturalist is given the opportunity to stay behind and categorize samples of plant life.  I loved how she was able to find new life for herself in the death of her planet.  I can tell that I’m going to want more from each of these stories instead of the snippets in time that readers are provided.  Hopefully this project will be granted a continuance.  If you love a good futurist science fiction story, then you will love this series too!

 

100 Words of Affirmation Your Wife Needs to Hear

wifeAuthor: Matt Jacobson

Publisher: Revell

Release Date: October 1, 2019

Rating: 5 Stars

Reviewer: Jared Higgins

The absolute best book for any married couple to read, no matter if you have been married a year or fifty, it will remind you of the little things you can be thankful for in your spouse.

Inside each and every one of us, we have the ability to “Speak Life”, as TobyMac says or bring others down with our words. It is important to remember that the person we share our lives with should hear those words of life from us and often. How do you speak to your wife? Is it with love? How do your children hear you speak to their mother? These are all important questions that we need to ask ourselves as we go throughout our daily lives. She wants to know what you think, but she also wants to know what you think of her.

My wife and I have been married for over fifteen years and we work to grow our relationship every day. I read through this book and agreed with everything that it had, but I realized that I don’t actually say all of these things to her.  I hope that she knows them, but maybe she needs to hear them too.  We sat down and talked about several of the items and what importance they play emotionally. She goes above and beyond for our family, but I don’t’ always tell her.  It’s the little things that can have the biggest impact.

I enjoyed the way Matt Jacobson used little examples from his life to help readers see that he isn’t trying to prove he is better than anyone else, he is showing us that we can all do better and be better for each other and our spouses. So much wisdom and truth in the pages, this is a book that will need to be read again and again to help us remember how much we have to be grateful for in who we married.

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

100 Words of Affirmation Your Husband Needs to Hear

HusbandAuthor: Lisa Jacobson

Publisher: Revell

Release Date: October 1, 2019

Rating: 5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

The absolute best book for any married couple to read, no matter if you have been married a year or fifty, it will remind you of the little things you can be thankful for in your spouse.

Inside each and every one of us, we have the ability to “Speak Life”, as TobyMac says or bring others down with our words. It is important to remember that the person we share our lives with should hear those words of life from us and often. How do you speak to your husband? Is it with love? How do your children hear you speak to their father? These are all important questions that we need to ask ourselves as we go throughout our daily lives. How often do you actually tell your husband the little things that mean so much for him to hear from you?

I feel like I have a great relationship with my husband and as I read through this list I agreed with everything written within but realized I am seriously lacking on telling my husband many of them. I don’t know that I have ever told him I want to grow closer or thanked him for having my back. And even though he knows I trust his judgment I don’t think I have actually told him that in a very long time. My husband provides for us above and beyond but I don’t think to tell him he is a big success. So many little things that could make such a difference if we just think to tell the man in our lives these positive affirmations.

I love the way Lisa Jacobson used little examples from her life to help readers see that she isn’t trying to prove she is better than anyone else, she is showing us that we can all do better and be better for each other and our spouses. So much wisdom and truth in the pages, this is a book that will need to be read again and again to help us remember how much we have to be grateful for in who we married.

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

You Belong With Me

You belong with meAuthor: Tari Faris

Series: Restoring Heritage #1

Publisher: Revell

Release Date: September 3, 2019

Rating: 4 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

Fans of small town reads will enjoy this book!

Hannah Thornton has one main goal in her mind, restore the heart of her hometown Heritage, Michigan. As a realtor in a small town, she works hard to sell off historic properties.  Unfortunately, people would rather buy newer properties than put up the money to restore older worn out houses.  Even her own brother is selling his house to pay for all the things that his fiancée wants.  When a local developer offers to buy up several properties, people begin to think it may be better to just sell out.  Hannah turns to her oldest friend, Luke, for help.  A local handyman with a dream of becoming fire chief, he reluctantly agrees to help her.  However, Luke has been facing his own demons and this endeavor will either bring them together or drive them apart.

This was a fun read that had me keep turning page after page. I enjoyed getting to see Hannah grow and mature as a person as she learned to let go of control and let things play out.  She came across as shallow at first (not as much as her brother’s fiancée, now there is a character) but she gained depth and bonded with me as a female reader.  She overcame challenges and put up a good fight to make her dream come true.  Likewise, Luke had his own challenges of abandonment, but turned out to be different than we he had believed his whole life.  Once each character was able to truly move past themselves, the romance played out great.  I’m looking forward to the next installment in Heritage.

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

The Time Collector

time collectorAuthor: Gwendolyn Womack

Publisher: Picador

Release Date: April 16, 2019

Rating: 4 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

Great story interweaving science fiction and history

Roan West has made a very comfortable living as an antique collector. He has an unfair advantage as a psychometrist, which means he can sense the past imprint by touching an object.  He has been able to find many valuable artifacts throughout his life, but he has also found that touching something that spans too many years might kill him.  His friend Stuart introduced him to a group of psychometrists that have been looking into artifacts that seem to have been misplaced through time known as ooparts.  Its strange that a ring appears in a cretaceous rock.  When part of the group begins working on solving the mystery, one ends up missing and another dead.  When Stuart doesn’t show up to a rendezvous with Roan, he knows something is amiss.  On the flight back to New Orleans, he discovers that a young woman named Melicent Tilpin has just used her gift in front of the world on Antiques Roadshow.  When it appears she might become a target, Roan decides he must help her and find his friend Stuart as well.

This was a really interesting read that wove several different parts of history into a common thread. Having the ability to sense the past by touching an object would be really cool, but could also be deadly as shown time and again in this book.  My favorite part was the stories that were shared by touching the objects as a first person account.  I also really enjoyed getting to see Roan and Melicent’s relationship bud as the story grew.  I think my only drawback to the story was the way it wrapped up.  For 300 pages there is such tension and excitement as the plot builds and the characters develop and then it just kind of finishes out over the last 50 pages.  I would love to see this story expanded upon.  I’m not a big fan of stories that have too much fluff, but this one was just building it up and could have kept it going.  Hopefully there is a sequel coming up that will help explain the overall mystery of the oopart.

There is some occasional harsh language as well as an implied sex scene, but nothing graphic.

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

Carry Me Away

Carry Me AwayAuthor: Dorothy Adamek

Series: Blue Wren Shallows #2

Publisher: Crabapple Press

Release Date: November 5, 2019

Rating: 4 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

Unlikely circumstances result in an unlikely romance.

Ada Carmichael has just lost her entire family in a shipwreck. The Black Swallow has sunk of the coast of Australia and Ada herself would have been a causality had it not been for the heroic action of midshipman Tom Darley.  As the two only survivors of the catastrophe, the media begins to go crazy.  Ada desperately needs to stay hidden before her past comes back to haunt her, but Tom could really use this publicity to make his dream come true.  When Tom’s plan to protect Ada go awry, it will take both of them to find redemption.

This is my first book by Adamek and she has a unique gift to bring a story setting to life. It takes a lot of talent to transport readers not only to a different time setting but an entirely different continent.  It is easy to see that she is a native of Australia as her descriptive scenery was bar none.  I felt as though I stood alongside the characters as I viewed the settings of the mainland and the island farms.  The romance felt natural and didn’t seem forced.  The characters fleshed out beautifully, flaws and all.  This is the second in a series but easily a standalone.  I recommend this to readers who love historical romances.

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

If Only I Could Tell You

If only I could tell youAuthor: Hannah Beckerman

Publisher: William Morrow

Release Date: October 15, 2019

Rating: 4 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

When is a lie better than the truth? Secrets come back to haunt in this chilling tale that will leave readers guessing as to who really knew what and the damage caused when we assume we know what happened.

Audrey always dreamed and wished for her daughters to grow up and be best friends to each other. Unfortunately as they grew up, a secret tore them apart and as adults now they no longer speak to each other and refuse to let their own daughters have anything to do with one another. Audrey has watched her family come undone over the last few decades and as her time on this earth is coming to a close, she wonders if there is any way to make her family whole again. What she doesn’t realize, is a secret from three decades ago is the root cause of the problem and confronting the truth might be the hardest thing any of them have ever had to do.

I wasn’t really sure what to expect when I picked up this book. What I got was an engaging story with a tight plot and tension in all the right places to keep the story flowing beautifully. The back and forth point of views between Audrey, Jess, and Lily combined with the timelines helped encompass the whole story and kept me from feeling lost at times. I really enjoyed the setting even though none of it was familiar to me; everything was written in a way that helped me be able to picture the houses, and office buildings and each different place the characters found themselves. Hannah Beckerman did an outstanding job of weaving the different layers of time and points of view together to craft a story that kept me guessing as to what the final outcome would be right up to the very last pages. Each character had a special message to bring to the story and I don’t believe it could have been told any differently than it was. A few of the storylines could have been cut without affecting the story, Audrey and her outings with her granddaughters seemed at little monotonous and didn’t add to the story, but that is one of my only negatives about the book. Overall it was a very enjoyable read and one I would recommend to readers that like a story that will keep them guessing with intriguing characters and real scenarios they might find themselves in.

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