Point of Danger

Author: Irene Hannon

Series: Triple Threat #1

Publisher: Revell

Release Date: October 6, 2020

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

A fantastic start to a new series by one of the best in romantic suspense. The beginning wasn’t a hit for me, but the rest of the story panned out beautifully making up for the rough start.

Eve Reilly isn’t worried when a few negative comments or message come her way. After hosting a controversial radio talk show for a while, she is used to getting the occasional hate mail. When a suspicious looking package ends up on her doorstep and she hears ticking, she knows things have gone too far. It’s time now for the police to be involved. Detective Brent Lange is called to the scene and can’t find any evidence linking someone to the incidents involving Eve. The threats don’t stop with the ticking package on her doorstep, things escalate quickly, and Brent must use all of his skills to find who is targeting Eve and how to stop them before anyone gets hurt. He quickly starts to feel something more for Eve, but his heart has been torn out before and he doesn’t want to go through anything like that again. Can he protect Eve while also protecting his heart?

Let me start by saying Irene Hannon is a fantastic Romantic Suspense writer. I love almost all of what she writes. While I’m not saying I didn’t love this story, I just have a few issues with how it started. Only seven pages in we have our main male protagonist, Brent, going to the scene of the ticking package left on Eve’s doorstep. The first thing he notices when he arrives is her every toned muscle, notable legs, gold-flecked irises, lush lashes and full lips. While all of this is beautiful description, I have a problem with it being the first thing he notices when called to a possible bomb threat. His mind as a detective should be focused on the scene around him, anyone that looks out of place, if the bomb squad has arrived and any number of things other than what was described here. This one page of description totally took me out of the story for about the next hundred pages. The ending played out great and I did greatly enjoy the story overall. I have read many romantic suspense stories over the years and come to realize how it works, not a problem with that, but don’t want to see this kind of description and romantic emotions from a character on page seven. Irene Hannon has been around long enough and written enough best sellers to get away with something like this, but I have come to expect better of her as a writer and hope to not see this again. Don’t get me wrong, I’ll be picking up the next she writes without a doubt and continue recommending her to readers without thinking twice. I do recommend this to readers that are into romantic suspense and want a good heart-pounding story to keep them up long past bedtime. I received a complimentary copy of this title from the publisher.  The views and opinions expressed within are my own.

365 Ways to Love Your Child

Author: Julie Lavender

Publisher: Revell

Release Date: October 20, 2020

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

A perfect book that showcases all the little ways we sometimes forget can be used to experience love with our children.

365 Ways to Love Your Child is a book written for all parents. Within its pages, readers will find encouragement to show kids each and every day how loved they are. It doesn’t always have to be a grand gesture, sometimes it’s the simple things that mean the most. Write a letter to leave in their lunch box that says you are always thinking of them. Give them an extra hug, squeeze a little longer and a little tighter every chance you get. So many of the actions she gives as examples are so simple, I caught myself smiling and shaking my head as I read many of them thinking I should do those more often. In our world right now, we often find ourselves so busy even the smallest task added to our list can be overwhelming. When its those little tasks that can mean the most to our kids, and in turn leave a lasting impression on both them and us.

We only have a short amount of time with our children and if we don’t make the most of it, we will regret it. One thing the last few months of COVID and quarantine has taught me is to enjoy the time we have together. While things shut down and we had nowhere to go and nothing to do, playing games together and going for walks and bike rides became fun again. Eating together and talking about the day and all we had to be thankful was a nightly ritual and it didn’t go unnoticed by me or my family. Just telling someone you love them isn’t always enough, showing them by your actions and taking the time to do stuff together can often mean more than just saying the words. Lavender does a fantastic job of pointing out all the little things we forget can mean showing love to our kids. Something as simple as putting your phone away and looking them in the eye.  In the world we live in that is very rare and I think it is time we start doing more to show our kids they are more important than an electronic device to us, because when they get the electronics we know that is where there attention will be focused just as ours can tend to be. I would recommend that all parents pick up a copy of this book and highlight certain sections that are most relevant to them and can be best implemented in their daily lives together.

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

The Hive Queen

Author: Robin Kirk

Series: Bond Trilogy #2

Publisher: Blue Crow Books

Release Date: August 29, 2020

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

A dark apocalyptic thriller that will leave readers transported to a completely different world and a story like none they’ve ever read before.

The Weave has been destroyed as Fir and his brothers escape to the east to find a land of freedom. Fir searches for the Master of men, a fabled warrior who promises freedom to men from the Weave. On their way, they find more trouble than they thought possible. The Hive Queen, Odide, brings Fir and his brothers into her hive and quickly bespells him to betray his brothers and risk all their lives in the process and almost forget the love he had for Dinitra. Now he is faced with a choice, loyalty to his brothers, allegiance to the Hive Queen, or follow his heart and love for Dinitra. Between the Hive and the Master, Fir is faced with the hardest decisions he has ever had to make, and nothing has prepared him for what is yet to come.

For me, The Bond lacked world building and character connections. Just when I felt I was connecting to the characters by the end of the book, my main protagonist is changed in The Hive Queen and I have to start from the beginning to make the character connection and feeling myself firmly in this world. It isn’t something that was ever achieved for me. I lacked a real connection with Fir, I expected to pick up this book and continue with Dinitra, 12, and their story; instead, they aren’t even mentioned until the last third or so of the book. I was really hoping to connect and enjoy this story more, but unfortunately that wasn’t the case. While I think Science Fiction lovers will enjoy this story much more than I did, it isn’t a story for everyone. I know the first one was compared to The Hunger Games, and I can see that in a way, but not as deep as the connection could have been. I did enjoy the devious game the Hive Queen herself was playing throughout and the way Fir is able to reconnect with Dinitra, those were the redemptive qualities for me. Not enough to make me want to read again but I was able to finish the story.

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

The Bond

Author: Robin Kirk

Series: Bond Trilogy #1

Publisher: Goldenjay Books

Release Date: November 30, 2019

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

A dark, apocalyptic thriller that will leave readers with questions but wanting more after the last page is turned.

In a world where males are obsolete and women are all that are known, females have been equipped with enhanced gifts engineered by a group called Sowers and the Weave. Dinitra waits to find out her purpose with the other girls when they turn sixteen. It doesn’t happen often, but sometimes the Sowers make mistakes. The Weave is under scrutiny and a group of resistance and rebels are planning to attack with their own breed of humans they created, including males. Dinitra gets her assignment and is sent far away to a group she never thought she would be with and finds out secrets of the Weave and herself that could change everything.

The Bond definitely did not start or end the way I expected. The start was slow and then didn’t seem to mesh with the middle or end very well. I had a hard time with this one, the world building wasn’t really there for me. This is set in an apocalyptic future and no matter how hard I tried, I could not envision what was happening. I needed about a hundred more pages of well-enhanced detail for who these people were, what has happened in history to lead to this point, and where the story is heading. Even though this is labeled a YA, I have a hard time recommending it for that age group because of some of the themes throughout. If I had a hard time following, I’m guessing young readers will as well. By the end, the story did pull me in a little more and I enjoyed the bond between Dinitra and 12, even if the set up to that point was little off. Dinitra did grow a tremendous amount as a protagonist from start to finish; at the beginning I saw her as weak, unskilled and pretty hopeless for what the set up was going for, but by the end she is one of the strongest around and able to better carry the story. I’m still a little unsure of where it is all headed but will follow up with the next in the series to see if I can better connect with the characters and the story. I do think this story will be enjoyable for lovers of Dystopian and Science Fiction.  If that is not one of your favorite genres, this one isn’t for you.

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

A Curse of Gold

Author: Annie Sullivan

Series: A Touch of Gold #2

Publisher: Blink YA Books

Release Date: September 22, 2020

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

When everything you touch turns to gold and your father has been cursed by a god, life can be hard. Princess Kora is back in the follow up to Annie Sullivan’s A Touch of Gold with more adventure, romance, action and adrenaline raced chapters to keep readers in suspense until the very end.

Kora thought that surviving the pirates who stole her treasure and returning it to the palace was going to be her biggest adventure, that is until she returns to the palace and finds life is not as simple as when she left. Her own people are afraid of her magical powers and threaten to overthrow her. Now Dionysus, the god who cursed her father, has put a death sentence out on Kora in order to take over her kingdom. There is no way she is going to willingly give up her kingdom, leading her to set out in search of Dionysus on the disappearing island of Jipper. Along the way she encounters challenges set to keep her from achieving her goal and saving not only her father but their kingdom as well. Going up against the greatest trickster ever is not something she wants to do, but with no other choice, Kora sets out to prove she is worth more than the gold her touch can produce.

A super-fast start, little bit of a dip in the middle, and super strong finish with lots of action, tension and a few nail-biting moments best sums up A Curse of Gold. It was a great follow up to A Touch of Gold, but I think my biggest problem was it had been a long time since reading the first so I didn’t remember a few key points and wasn’t able to connect with the characters as fast as if I had just finished the first. I do think that readers will find Kora the perfect strong female protagonist. She was by far my favorite character, although I will admit I did like Triton much more than anticipated. While Kora will be a character that readers will connect and empathize with Triton will surprise readers with his character arc and how he is written. It can be tricky to write about Greek gods and mythology; readers that are big into the Greek myths might have a problem with the way some of the characters are portrayed but if you let the imagination run free with the story, I think you will find it most enjoyable. Scenes with dialogue moved quickly, but when it switched to more narration, the story stalled for me at times and I found myself yearning to find more action and move the story along quicker, which occurred through the middle of the book than any other points. I recommend this to YA readers, especially if they are into mythology and even older readers that enjoy these types of stories.

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

Remember Me

Author: Mario Escobar

Publisher: Thomas Nelson

Release Date: September 15, 2020

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

A glimpse into the Spanish Civil War bringing to light an often overlooked part of World War II.

Marco never anticipated the path that his life would take.  He was the oldest of three children, the two younger siblings being sisters.  His father owned a printing press and his mom worked at a theatre. They didn’t have much, but they had each other.  That all changed when the fascist party began to try to overthrow the Republic of Spain.  His parents were arrested, but released, and realized that they needed to keep their children safe.  Before the country was torn in two, Marco’s mother got them passage on a ship to Mexico, which was welcoming refugee children from Spain.  Sent to a school in Morelia, Marco and his sisters quickly realized that not everyone was happy that Spanish children were being housed in Mexico.  As the civil war raged on in Spain, a similar war was happening inside Marco.  He loved his homeland, but he hated what they were doing to it.

The Spanish Civil War of 1937 does not appear in mainstream books like Hitler’s war.  Historians refer to it as one of the bloodiest wars and it completely decimated the country.  In a war, no one really wins.  The opposing political views could easily be transposed into the today’s world.  Escobar does a fantastic job showcasing the war and how the aftermath affected the citizens.  Brothers were willing to kill each other over opposing viewpoints rather than find a compromise.  It’s hard to imagine such a time, but it needs to be remembered.

Marco became the story’s central character as he aged.  From boyhood on, he witnessed the hate in the world.  Hate between the fascist and the communist.   Hate between Spaniards and Mexicans.  I never realized how different the cultures between the two countries were and how faith and religion was viewed between the two.  There is a lot to learn in this book and if you pick it up, I hope you see it through.  It is very violent and includes some unfortunate horrors, such as homosexual rape.  Many people may get uncomfortable, but the read is worth it to understand history.

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

The Haunting at Bonaventure Circus

Author: Jaime Jo Wright

Publisher: Bethany House

Release Date: September 1, 2020

Rating: 5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

In her newest release, Jaime Jo Wright will blow readers away with this thrilling, mysterious, and moving tale of brokenness, revenge, love and a yearning to belong. 

Split between 1928 and present day in the fictional town of Bluff River, Wisconsin. In 1928, readers meet Pippa Ripley, whose father is the owner of Bonaventure circus. Pippa was rejected from the circus as a baby and left on the doorstep of the owners who raised her as their own. Pippa receives mysterious packages and messages from someone called the Watchman, which lead her to look for clues to her birth. Pippa joins forces with a man trying to find answers to who murdered his sister and leads them both to evidence of a serial killer associated with the circus.  Fast forward to present day and the old circus is in jeopardy of being torn down. Chandler Faulk works for her uncle at his real estate firm and has been tasked with seeing if it is worth, preserving for history or tearing it down. She moves to the small town with her young son to dive into the history of the circus depot all while trying to balance living with her newly diagnosed autoimmune disease and being a single mother. As she researches, she finds clues to unsolved murders of the past and newer murders. The more she digs into the past, the darker things seem, and Chandler must determine if saving the depot is worth her safety.

Jaime Jo Wright has done it again! The Haunting at Bonaventure Circus is a stunning, thrilling tale that is hard to put down. Any time you pick up a book by Wright, you know you are going to be in for an adventure. It is hard to do a dual timeline and keep the reader engaged and not confused. The set up for this one does take a little bit longer but is worth it in the end. She developed such a great backstory for the characters that helped me connect with them on a deep level. Pippa and Chandler both have very different stories and each of them is unique but ties in by the end in such a beautiful way.  I loved the way Wright brought it all full circle. This book tackles a lot of tough issues, a character with a physical deformity and one with a chronic illness, not something that is written about enough these days considering how common it is becoming in our world. She does this in a way that doesn’t make the character seem weak, instead readers are able to see her as one of us and connect; if it were a character that had nothing wrong they would seem too perfect and be a turn off. I am thankful for the authors that tackle these difficult subjects in such a way that will leave readers thinking about it but not turned off either. If you have never picked up a Jaime Jo Wright book, I would say run, don’t walk, to your bookstore and grab a copy of this one today, you won’t regret it. Readers that enjoy stories full of mystery, adventure, a little romance and a whole lot of hope will not want to miss this one.

The Price of Valor

Author: Susan May Warren

Series: Global Search & Rescue #3

Publisher: Revell

Release Date: October 6, 2020

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

Susan May Warren brings all our favorites from the Global Search and Rescue series in one of the most action-packed stories she has written! Readers will stay up way past their bedtime finishing this one!

After thinking Signe, the love of his life, had died years earlier, Hamilton Jones is now trying to raise the daughter he never knew he had. He is contacted by the Navy that they have a little girl claiming to be his daughter with a message from his wife.  Hamilton will stop at nothing to bring his wife home and reunite their family.

Signe has spent the last decade getting information for the CIA about a Russian terrorist after being kidnapped by his rebels and she is forced to marry him in order to stay alive and keep her daughter safe. When her secret is discovered, Signe fakes her death and sends her daughter to live with Ham who quickly learns she is still alive and willing to risk it all to come after her. Her past is difficult, and the more Ham learns, the harder his decision becomes of protecting her or staying true to his vow of protecting his country.

With engaging characters, a fast-moving storyline, and little snippets of characters from other beloved Susan May Warren books, this is easily one of the best I have read this year. Not many authors could take characters from a completely different series and have them blend so easily into the story line as she does. Every time I pick up a book by Warren, I know I am in for a treat including romance, suspense and so much more.

Romantic suspense is a hard genre for me because I like my novels to be more on the suspense side and lighter on the romance for the story to move along. Warren is able to deliver the suspense even during the romance scenes. Signe quickly became one of my favorite characters from all the books that I have read by Warren. I loved how strong she was regardless of all she had been through she was determined to not let it bring her down. Her main goal stayed the same throughout the entire novel: keep those she cared about safe. A lot of romantic suspense novels have an easy formula to follow, girl and boy meet or find each other again after a long time, realize they still have feelings for each other, something happens to tear them apart, and then ultimately come back together. If you read a lot, that can either become very boring or be a quick easy read for you. For me, I like for it to be changed up and not be able to guess everything that is about to happen which is what happens with this book. At several moments it felt like the tension was letting down and the story was getting close to ending and then BAM, things took another turn and pulled me and my emotions even further into the story.  

Overall, this was probably one of my favorites I have read by Susan May Warren. Yes, it is predictable at times but only for a split second before it turns in another direction keeping you glued to your seat. I would recommend this to readers that love a great romantic suspense with twists and turns until the very ending. It is the third in this series with tie ins to the Montana Marshall series but if a reader hasn’t read the previous two, they can still enjoy the story.

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

Devastation Class

Authors: Glen Zipper & Elaine Mongeon

Publisher: Blink YA Books

Release Date: September 8, 2020

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

A story packed with self-discovery, action, tension, and great characters!  Young readers will enjoy flying through this action-packed story!

Set in the distant future, Earth’s Alliance forces have gone through a nine-year war with the vicious alien Kastazi race. The battle was hard fought and even though Earth won, things are not the same. The Alliance Devastation Class starship California heads out on a scientific exploration mission with a small crew of both officers and civilian students along with a small group of military cadets to see what is left in the universe. The cadets use this mission to prove their worth, especially JD Marshall and Viv Nixon, who both have high ranking parents in the alliance and know they are being watched closely. Their mission does not go as planned as they are ambushed with a second wave of Kastazi forcing JD and Viv to lead a mutiny and take over their ship when those in charge freeze at the most critical moments. They use all their skill and knowledge but quickly run out of options and activate the ship’s blink Reactor, a new technology that is supposed to send them a safe distance away. However, it takes them to a future even more dangerous than what they left.

While there was a quite a bit I didn’t totally understand in this book, there was also a lot I really did enjoy. The characters are engaging and fun to follow on their journey, the story is fun, exciting and a new adventure than most of what I have read before. The story does go back and forth between several different viewpoints, but it is done in a way that is easy to follow, broken up by chapters with the character’s name at the top of the chapter for whose view point readers are about to follow. Just when you think the story is wrapping up, another surprise shows up and ramps up the action. One thing is for sure, there was never a lack of tension that propelled the story forward. I loved the dynamic between JD and Viv, so much there that I can’t wait to see explored further. This is the first in a new series and I foresee it being a trilogy, this first part was wrapped up nicely while also leaving it on a pretty good cliffhanger for the reader to be itching for more. I will be grabbing the second as soon as it comes out to see what happens with these characters. I recommend this to readers that enjoy science fiction and characters that are fun and easy to follow.

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

The Last Agent

Author: Robert Dugoni

Series: Charles Jenkins #2

Publisher: Thomas & Mercer

Release Date: September 22, 2020

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

The follow up to The Eighth Sister has Charles Jenkins sent back into the heart of Russia in more death-defying action that will leave readers on the edge of their seat and thirsting for more from this fantastic addition by Robert Dugoni!

After being tried for treason from his own country and found not guilty, Charles Jenkins has put the spy life behind him. That is until he learns that the one person most responsible for his safe return home now needs his help. Paulina Ponomayova,, who he thought sacrificed her life to ensure he returned home, is in the notorious Lefortovo Prison. Once Jenkins finds proof it really is her and she is alive, he sets out to return to Russia and contact the man who used to be his enemy and may now be his only ally in helping him find a way into the prison and save Paulina. Viktor Federov, a former Russion officer who led the search for Jenkins, may now be the only man he can trust. Together the two work to stay one step ahead of the authorities and get Paulina safely away without risking the lives of anyone else, or their own.

Robert Dugoni is a master storyteller. I don’t know of anyone else that could write a thriller set mostly in Russia and keep me intrigued. Usually not my kind of thing, a setting like that just doesn’t keep me engaged. Dugoni makes it more about the characters and finding that relationship instead of the setting. I was so deeply taken in by the characters and the mission Jenkins was on I forgot to care about anything else. While this is not my favorite by Dugoni, I did enjoy this second addition to this series. Charles is a good character, he’s a good guy and his drive to do what is right should inspire all readers to follow that path even though it might not be the easiest. He had to sacrifice a lot to follow his heart even after all he went through after his last visit to Russia.

One of my favorite things about reading a Robert Dugoni novel is it is so easy to do; the writing is so good it flows without interruption and unnecessary plot points that do nothing to drive the story forward. I did have a few moments that the excitement wasn’t as thrilling as the rest of the story. The story wraps up nicely but is also left open at the end for another Charles Jenkins novel to come our way and I, for one, will be putting it on my pre-order list. I would recommend it to readers that enjoy a great spy thriller with lots of twists and fast action. Even though it is the second in the series it could be read as a stand alone without the reader feeling too lost.

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