What Happens Next

Author: Christina Suzann Nelson

Publisher: Bethany House

Release Date: January 17, 2023

Rating: 4 out of 5.

A little different that what I’ve come to expect from Nelson, but I like it!

Recently divorced Faith Byrne has taken her past career as an investigative reporter and shifted to performing a podcast that focus on redemptive stories of people who have experience traumatic events.  When her ex-husband gets permission to take their two daughters to Hawaii for the entire summer, Faith isn’t sure what to do with herself until she receives an unexpected letter from one of her childhood friend’s sister.  Faith had always wondered what she had done for her summer of 1987 friend to never respond to her letters, but she finds out that she went missing after school started that year, but her family never told her.  Heather’s sister, Brooke, solicits Faith’s help on her podcast to bring her missing sister’s story to light so that her family might finally find closure.  But as Faith digs into the story, what she finds is anything that she expected.

I love Christina Suzann Nelson’s contemporary stories and look forward to her newest book every year.  This one was a little different than anything she has written in the past, but I loved it!  It was interesting to see how everything played out and if the reader could follow the clues to discover the truth before Faith did.  Nelson did a great job of balancing mystery and intrigue with hope and healing for Heather’s family.  Showing how grief support groups can help families heal and not store grief for years is something that needs to be shown more throughout our society.  If you love a good mystery, this will be a good story for you to pick up on!

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

The Final Gambit

Author: Jennifer Lynn Barnes

Series: Inheritance Games #3

Publisher: Little Brown

Release Date: August 30, 2022

Rating: 4 out of 5.

The final book in The Inheritance Games series is good but not quite as good as the first two. A fantastic addition to one of my new favorite series.

Avery Kylie Grambs only has to survive a few more weeks living at the Hawthorne mansion in order to inherit billions. She has survived several attempts on her life and those she loves being targets as well. After a rough start, Avery has finally connected with the Hawthorne brothers and feels at home at Hawthorne House. As the day of her inheriting more money than any teenager has ever had approaches, more trouble pops up as a stranger arrives at the house in need of help. With each passing day, the danger increases, and Avery comes closer to losing all she is about to gain.

This book was really good; the problem was it followed the second in the series which was fantastic. The Hawthorne Legacy was so amazing that anything that followed it had zero to little chance of being anywhere close to as good. There isn’t much I can pinpoint that I didn’t care for in this book but nothing stood out as making it extraordinary. I thought the relationships were just a little dulled and the tension didn’t pull me in as much as the last. It is a great addition to the series and the ending is left open for more to come which is great fun for me as I loved the intricate nature of this series. The way that little moments from the beginning were brought full circle by the end of this book brought a smile to my face and showed me that Jennifer Lynn Barnes is an author that knows what she is doing. I would recommend this book to anyone that has read the first two in the series and wants to see what comes next.

The Hawthorne Legacy

Author: Jennifer Lynn Barnes

Series: Inheritance Games #2

Publisher: Little Brown

Release Date: August 2, 2022

Rating: 5 out of 5.

It’s not often a second book in a series is better than the first, especially when the first was amazing! The Hawthorne Legacy is a fantastic addition to The Inheritance Games.

After the bombshell ending of The Inheritance Games, Avery Grambs is ready to pick up the pieces and find the man everyone thinks is dead, Tobias Hawthorne the second. DNA tests have been run that show she is not related to the Hawthorne family but now she and two of the Hawthorne grandsons are on the hunt to figure out the clues left by their grandfather. Avery continues to be threatened and those that want what has been left to Avery are ready to do whatever it takes to get her out of the picture.

I can’t remember the last time I read a book that the second in the series was better than the first, and I loved the first in the series. The tension in this book was more intense and pulled me in tighter making me unable to put the book down and I read this in a single day. The story was intriguing and made me want to keep turning the pages. Avery is a special kind of protagonist: relatable, witty, and not afraid to play the games with the boys. There wasn’t much at all that I didn’t like about this book including the dangerous situations she found herself in, the mystery, and settings all had me pulled deep into the story. I love a book like this that is hard to put down and keeps me from wanting to do anything else. I recommend this book to readers that enjoy mystery and action, but make sure to read the first in the series before starting this one.

The Inheritance Games

Author: Jennifer Lynn Barnes

Series: Inheritance Games #1

Publisher: Little Brown

Release Date: July 27, 2021

Rating: 5 out of 5.

I am kicking myself for not reading this sooner!  Such a fun and engaging book; I can’t wait to read the rest of the series!

Avery Grambs wants nothing more than to survive high school, get a scholarship to collage and leave. She lives with her sister after her mother died and her father wants nothing to do with them. All that changes when Avery finds out she is suddenly a billionaire when Tobias Hawthorne died and left his entire fortune to her. The problem is Avery has no idea who Tobias Hawthorne is. To claim the money, she must move into the Hawthorne mansion and live for a year with the rest of the Hawthorne family. Tobias had four grandsons who are as equally smart and have a love for puzzles just like their grandfather did. All the Hawthorne men believe Avery is up to something to get their money and Avery is going to have to play along with the game that Tobias set up to survive the craziness that is her life now.

I had heard about The Inheritance Games a good bit over the last year and knew it was one I wanted to read. This book was so much fun to read; I read it in less than two days. The way the writing was done with short chapters and lots of cliff hangers made it hard to put down. I loved all the action, mystery drama and fantastic storyline. Avery is a wonderful protagonist with a storyline that makes her relatable and fun to read about; all her actions seemed exactly like the character would act and never once made me question her actions, or any of the other characters for that matter. This series makes me think of The Hunger Games and Divergent, those types of books are some of my favorites and make me enjoy reading. I ended last year in a bit of a slump not enjoying any of the books I had been reading. Being able to start the year of with a series like this is reminding me of the joy I get from reading and escaping into a great story. I recommend this book to readers that enjoy a fun mystery that is action packed and full of great characters and a fun start to what is shaping up to be a great series.

Treasure Hunters

Author: James Patterson and Chris Brabenstein

Series: Treasure Hunters #1

Publisher: Little Brown/Jimmy Patterson

Release Date: May 5, 2015

Rating: 5 out of 5.

A fantastic fun series for young readers that kids and parents can enjoy together.

When their parents are both gone from them, the Kidd children have to grow up quickly and try to solve the puzzle left for them by their father. Their mother is being held hostage and their father has gone overboard in a massive storm at sea. Now, they work together on the biggest treasure hunt they have ever been on against pirates and other rivals that want what they are trying to find.

My two boys are getting to the age of reading books by authors I have known for a long time, such as James Patterson. Patterson is one of the best authors in the world and I’m finding that his books for kids are just perfect. His writing is simple but fun, it’s not something if you are looking for a complex mystery but a good story that young readers will greatly enjoy. That’s the perfect thing about Treasure Hunters, it is a great book for young readers looking for books to get them into the great world of fiction.

So many kids hate reading because they haven’t found books that are fun to read. I love being at the stage of life where I can read books and recommend them to my kids and be able to talk about with them and help them discover a love for reading. There are a lot of mediocre books out there, but Treasure Hunters is a great book with fun adventure for kids to enjoy reading. I love the fun adventure and the pictures make the story even more enjoyable. I recommend this book to middle grade readers that are looking for a fun adventure.

The Victor

Author: Patricia St. John

Publisher: Kingsley Press

Release Date: September 17, 2011

Rating: 4 out of 5.

An interesting take on Christian historical fiction that middle grade readers will enjoy.

Philo is worried about his family. His sister, Illyrica has been possessed by a demon causing their family lots of stress. When he and his younger sister hear stories of a prophet from Nazareth that has been healing the sick, they hope their sister can be healed. When they mention the prophet’s name around their sister, she goes into a fit of rage. When things are at their darkest, Philo runs away but no matter where he goes, he hears of the amazing work the Jewish prophet is doing and all his miracles.

I picked this book up at Baker Book House on a family trip and just read it. An interesting fictional telling of Jesus and the miracles performed during his short time on Earth. This is a short and quick read that is probably most appropriate for middle school or high school age kids to read and fully understand. I was able to read this in a single day and thought the writing was well done and an interesting way to tell a story like this.

Charm

Author: Tracy Wolff

Series: Crave #5

Publisher: Entangled Teen

Release Date: November 8, 2022

Rating: 4 out of 5.

The fifth book in the Crave series is another great read that fans of the series will not want to miss!

What happened during the missing four months while Grace was stone? After coming to Katmere Academy, Grace finds that nothing in her world is as it seems. Now, she is surrounded by Vampires and any and all dangerous creatures she always thought were myth, the most dangerous of all is Hudson Vega. Somehow Grace ends up trapping Hudson and herself in her mind while she is stone. They are trapped together for months, but time doesn’t run the same while trapped in stone. The longer they are together, the more frustrated they become with each other while also growing closer. How are they going to get out and back to their family members and will they be able to do it before it’s too late.

For anyone that has read the Crave series, it is easy to fall in love with these characters and the story created. Tracy Wolff has crafted a world that fans of Harry Potter and the Twilight universe will love, and this latest installment will give readers an inside look at what happened when Grace and Hudson were trapped inside her mind. I wasn’t sure what to expect with this one, but enjoyed the time spent reading it. While I did enjoy it, I wouldn’t say it was my favorite in the series; to be honest, it could have cut out two hundred pages and been just fine. Those two hundred pages caused it to drag some in the middle and had me skimming the pages at times.

The story of what happened with Grace and Hudson while she was stone is something that readers of the series have been wanting to know for a while now. The dynamic between these two is sensational, so much tension driving the story forward that it is hard to not fall in love with what you are reading. I did miss the other characters from the previous novels that added to the dynamic. Even though this series is marketed to teens and young adults, I would not recommend this to younger readers because of the sexual aspects and language. For older more mature readers this will be great addition to a fantastic series.

Everything is Just Beginning

Author: Erin Bartels

Publisher: Revell

Release Date: January 17, 2023

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Bartels delivers yet another unparalleled story about friendship, conflict, and healing.

On New Years Eve of 1989, the world is changing and possibilities seem endless.  But for Michael Sullivan, its just another reminder of how his life is turning out.  After being kicked out of his band and apartment, he ends up sharing a room in his uncle’s trailer across the road from a sprawling mansion of a talented music artist and producer.  His uncle shares his name and goes by Mike, so when Michael stumbles on an invitation to a New  Year’s Eve party at the mansion and his uncle on an extended road trip in Vegas, Michael decides to test fate and go see how the other half lives.  While at the party, he meets Natalie, daughter to the music legends who live in the mansion.  Through this chance encounter, he learns more about music, more about this family, and more about himself than he could ever bargain for.

I love that Erin Bartels usually releases her novels around the start of the year because she sets the bar for what I expect of the year!   Each book is so different from the rest that you can’t help but be pulled into each new story.  Michael and Natalie’s story is just so good that you’ll want to read it again and again.  Set in the suburbs of Detroit, Michigan in 1990 brings back so many memories of life and music during that time, I just loved it.

As with most of her novels, the emotion is raw and laid out bare for all readers to see.  It deals with some heavy things that people deal with today, not just 30 years ago.  It is so easy to connect with her characters and have them draw you into their story so that you feel more like a participant than an outsider.  This will easily be one of my favorite books of 2023!

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

Treasure State

Author: C.J. Box

Series: Cassie Dewell Novel #6

Publisher: Minotaur Books

Release Date: September 27, 2022

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Took a little bit to get going, but once the story picked up steam, it never slowed down!

Cassie Dewell has been working as a private investigator and loves what she does. Her newest case has her on the hunt for a missing private investigator and a con man who could be behind his disappearance as well as stealing fortunes from several women. As she is looking into this case. she is contacted by a man claiming to be the mastermind behind a treasure hunt that has already cost five people their lives. Cassie finds herself in Anaconda, Montana with clues to who could be behind all she is investigating. Each clue brings about another strange twist in the case and Cassie finds herself in danger before all is solved hoping she can make it home and help find a treasure.

I didn’t realize this was the sixth book in the Cassie Dewell series when I started it. Even though I hadn’t read the others, I was still able to really enjoy this story. The start of the book was a little slow but once it got going, I couldn’t put it down. The story was fun and intriguing with the double mystery Cassie was investigating. I loved how all the pieces came together by the end, it all played out just perfectly and left me feeling great about the story and the way Box set it all up. Now that I’ve read this one, I am eager to go back and read the others in the series. Cassie is a great protagonist with a set of skills that helps her in solving her cases, she has enough flaws to make her a believable character though. This was a fun mystery without the fluff or other aspects that can make a book boring and hard to get through. I recommend this one to readers that enjoy suspense, mysteries, and a great fun setting.

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

The Lost Melody

Author: Joanna Davidson Politano

Publisher: Revell

Release Date: October 4, 2022

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Surprisingly entertaining with a dark premise that kept me glued to the pages.

Vivienne Mourdant’s father has just passed away and to her surprise he leaves her in the care of an adult ward she never knew about. Vivienne is a concert pianist and her life changes with this new revelation. The Hurstwell Asylum is where she is headed to see about the woman to whom she is now in charge.  The picture she sees is very familiar to her from dreams she had as a young child. Not sure what is real and what is actually a dream from her younger years, she starts to think maybe she is the one in need of the asylum.

Of all the historical romance novels I’ve read lately, this one is one of the best with the added mystery and suspense. For some this might be a hard topic dealing with history and asylums and the hardships that were imposed during that time. The way that Politano brought about this hard topic and used faith at such hard points was perfectly written. Vivienne is not only dealing with the death of her father but also the news of what she is now in charge of and how she is going to be able to deal with that. Not only would that be tough now but being set in the time it is for a woman to deal with all of that is even more difficult. Politano wrote all of this in such a way that the reader will not want to take a moment’s break to put the book down until finished.

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