The Last Way Home

Author: Liz Johnson

Series: Prince Edward Island Shores #2

Publisher: Revell

Release Date: August 2, 2022

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Love going back to PEI and meeting new characters mixed with those readers have already grown to love!

Eli Ross returns home to Victoria-By-The-Sea after his NHL career with the New York Rangers comes to a sudden and abrupt end.  Now without a penny to his name, he strides into town just as his mother’s pottery shop catches on fire.  Unsure if his family will even welcome him back, he has no idea how long he will stay.  He owes money to a loan shark back in New York and the only job that he can find is coaching hockey for a middle school girls league.  How much farther can he fall?

Violet Donaghy ran from her past 10 years ago after a horrific accident.  She came to Victoria in hopes of starting a new life when she met Mama Potts, who took her under her wing to become an artist.  But when their shop, and her apartment, catch fire, she is left having to work with Mama Potts black sheep son, Eli, in order to get things back in place.  When hearts collide, what is in store?

I really enjoyed Eli and Violet’s story more than I did that of Oliver and Meg in the previous book.  Not sure why, but maybe it was the hockey??  Whatever the reason, I enjoyed the banter that these two had and the unlikely situations that Eli kept finding himself in, especially when he became the coach of the middle school girl’s hockey team, The Stars.  He had a lot of growth during that period that matured him a lot.  I also loved that Eli and Violet made a stop at the Red Door Inn and I got to check in on some of my favorite characters from that series! 

This is a story of redemption for both Eli and Violet from their past mistakes.  I love that the element of forgiveness was the basis for this book with a bit of the theme of the Prodigal Son (and daughter).  This story can be read as a standalone, but it will shine light on other characters backstories. 

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

Crossfire

Author: Lynette Eason

Series: Extreme Measures #2

Publisher: Revell

Release Date; August 2, 2022

Rating: 5 out of 5.

The second book in the Extreme Measures series is just as intense and action packed as the first! Lynette Eason is at her best with this series!

Julianna Jameson works for the FBI as a negotiator and has never lost a hostage. When her younger sister, Dottie, shows up to live with her for her last year of high school it may prove to be the hardest job she’s had yet. Julianna crosses paths with Clay Fox who works as security at the school Dottie attends. Julianna saves Clay’s sister who is being held hostage with others inside a courtroom. Clay asks her to come speak, but ghosts from Julianna’s past come back to haunt them putting everyone she cares about at risk. Together they will have to do all they can to save their loved ones and stop those out to hurt them.

Lynette Eason blew me away with the first in this series and Crossfire came out in the first chapter with all the action and suspense.  While Crossfire was fantastic it ranks just a notch below the first in the series for me. I really loved Julianna and the chemistry between her and Clay but more so the way she was with trying to help and protect her sister. The way the story unfolded with her having to do her best as a negotiator with the FBI while also trying to protect her sister really helped make it a real page-turner. The baggage that both Julianna and Clay had from their past really made it more relatable characters, not perfect or with nothing weighing them down to make them more realistic.

The characters in these books go through a lot, but with all they go through, it helps them to show growth and real character development. There is a good element of faith throughout, but I never felt as if I was being preached at or annoyed by it, which does sometimes happen with Christian fiction books. Of all the romantic suspense authors I read, Lynette Eason is one of my very favorites for how realistic she makes the stories and is able to get me invested in the characters. I recommend this book to fans that love romantic suspense novels. While this is the second in a series, it could be read without having read the first and still enjoy.

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

Deception

Author: Patricia Bradley

Series: Natchez Trace Park Rangers #4

Publisher: Revell

Release Date: August 2, 2022

Rating: 4 out of 5.

The fourth book in the Natchez Trace series has Bradley at her very best with non-stop action and thrills from the first page!

Madison Thorn has tried to put the night she had to kill an FBI agent out of her mind while working for the Investigative Services Branch and has moved to the fraud and cyber division. She is good at her job and able to see things in the numbers most can’t. She is sent to Natchez, Mississippi to investigate a white color crime that turns very violent quickly. She must work with Clayton Bradshaw, an enemy from when she was a child that is now a park ranger. It doesn’t take long for both of them to realize things in Natchez Trace are not what they seem, and Madison has a target on her back.

Deception finishes up the Natchez Trace series and it is not to be missed. This novel is multi-layered deeper with the layers of family dynamics. When Madison returns home, she is hoping to help solve a white-colored crime and move on; what she doesn’t expect to find is a deep dark secret involving her family and others in town. The depth of this secret and the lengths so many are willing to go to in order to keep it hidden drives the story forward at an incredible pace. These characters and what they go through make for a nail-biting suspense novel. I loved the way the adoption scandal played into Madison and her family along with others in town. A lot of romantic suspense novels read the same and can be skimmed without missing a lot, but this is probably my favorite of all the Natchez Trace novels. I recommend this to readers that love romantic suspense novels.

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

Out of the Night

Author: Susan May Warren

Series: The Epic Story of RJ and York #1

Publisher: SDG Publishing

Release Date: August 9, 2022

Rating: 5 out of 5.

The first book in the RJ and York series gives fans of the Montana Marshalls family just what they have been longing for with this amazing couple!

York Newgate has one thing on his mind, proposing to the love of his life, RJ Marshall, but nothing in his proposal is going as planned. Trouble seems to follow them wherever they go making it difficult to get down on one knee. As they are in Paris. RJ spots a terrorist they helped put away out in the open. If it really is Alan Martin, what is he doing out and what will it mean for the happy ending RJ and York?

If you have been a fan of Susan May Warren’s Montana Marshall series, you are familiar with RJ and York and their relationship. This series is going to make readers very happy seeing this fun couple go through all kinds of obstacles just to be together. In this first book in the series, the action starts right off the bat with RJ and York trying to track down escaped criminal Alan Martin and stop whatever evil he is up to. I really enjoyed the dynamic between RJ and York, she is used to her brothers trying to protect her and now York is doing the same. She wants to prove that she is fully capable of doing all that they can do but doesn’t have the same training causing her to end up needing saving frequently. This book has non-stop action with tension in all the right places and the right amount of humor between the characters to keep the story moving along. Fans of the Marshalls will not want to miss out on this one. An easy day read for fans of romantic suspense.

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

Lifemark

Author: Chris Fabry

Publisher: Tyndale House

Release Date: August 2, 2022

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Chris Fabry and the Kendrick Brothers, LLC team up again to bring another fantastic heartwarming story!

Melissa had a tough life after her parents divorced.  She stayed with her dad, but after he remarried, he spent less time with her and more time with his stepchildren.  Before long, she decided it was best to leave home behind and move in with her boyfriend, Bryan.  What she never counted on was getting pregnant.  After much turmoil, she decided it was best to put her baby up for adoption so that he could have a better life than she could give him, but she never forgets about him, thinking of him often. 

Susan and Jimmy Colton have had heartbreak in earlier pregnancies and trying to adopt a child.  On a whim, Jimmy decides to resubmit their application letter when they receive a call that a mother in Indianapolis has chosen their family to be the recipient of her baby.  Both Jimmy and Susan have always been open with their son, David, about his adoption and have been supportive if he ever wanted to reach out to his biological parents.

David has always kept the topic of his adoption closed except for the people who are closest to him.  When he gets a call from the legal team of the adoption agency that the birth mother has updated her contact information, he decides to make contact to appease his parents.  He never expected the flood that would be released in the future!

As usual, the Kendrick Brothers idea mixed with Chris Fabry’s storytelling makes for a fantastic story!  The plot is a pro-life story and the good that can come out of choosing adoption over abortion.  It is predictable, but a story like this is intended to be, especially because of the bigger audience, but someone might find this book who is in this situation and be riveted to see what can happen when you look at a bigger picture.  I love to read books before watching movies and this will be no exception.  There will likely be a little bit of storyline removed for the movie, but only enough that it won’t be that noticeable.  It was easy to relate to the characters and Melissa’s predicament was well written.  I love the way this story comes full circle from beginning to end!

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

The Gray Man

Author: Mark Greaney

Series: Gray Man #1

Publisher: Berkley

Release Date: September 29, 2009

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Who doesn’t love a good action-packed story?

The Gray man is a legend in the assassin world.  Maybe more of a myth with his reputation.  He is the best at what he does.  Gets in, gets out, and no one knows he was even there.  But how did he come to be?  Once with the CIA, but then burned with a kill order, no one has been able to find him again.  But when they hear of an impossible hit that took place, they all know it was him.  But now his handler seems to have sold him out to save his family.  Will the Gray Man be able to stay under the radar?  Or will those who have been seeking him out finally have their chance to tie up loose ends?

First and foremost, this was a great story packed with action throughout that never let up.  It’s a quick read that I decided to try before I watched the movie.  The characters were pretty typical in their roles and the story flowed as expected.  One of the things that bothered me the most throughout the book was the different ways that the author continued to refer to the Gray Man.  Using his first name, last name, and Gray Man interchangeable, often in the same paragraph, became really tiresome.  Between action scenes, there was also quite a bit of telling the reader what is going on rather than showing the reader what is happening.  There is quite a bit of strong foul language throughout the book, which is understandable based on the characters, but sometimes a little over the top.  But enough of writing mechanics, it was still a fun read that made me like an assassin and hate a lawyer, so you can’t say that happens with every book.  This has piqued my interest enough to continue with the series!  As for the movie that I have watched as well, there are quite a few key scenes from the book that have been used in an alternate plot/story line developed by the screen writers.

The Element of Love

Author: Mary Connealy

Series: Lumber Barons Daughters #1

Publisher: Bethany House

Release Date: March 1, 2022

Rating: 3 out of 5.

New historical, western series will be a fit for genre lovers.

Laura Stiles and her two sisters have learned to handle their mother’s new husband without much of a problem until they learn he is planning to marry them off to his friends. Their father had a lumber dynasty that is supposed to be theirs, but now they must run away to find their own man to marry and be able to have legal claim to what their father left them. In their rush to get away, Laura brings her and her sisters into a mission group heading to California. They find themselves a perfect fit for the group with a skillset needed to help. The mission parson, Caleb has secrets in his past that he does not want to come to light, but he could be just the person to help Laura get her inheritance.

Let me start this review by saying this book is written for a specific audience, if you are not that specific audience you will not enjoy reading this. There are some books you can pick up and even if it is not what you would normally read you can still enjoy reading the story. Not here, I am not normally a fan of historical romance, but I grabbed this one for a quick read, it was quick but not very engaging. Lots of characters with not much development over the course of the 300 pages, especially when it came to our hero/heroine in the story. The plot was nothing deep that required special attention; something simple to breeze through pretty much sums up what this story was. Again, if the historical, western romance is your genre this will probably be one you love, if not maybe move on to something else.

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

Fields of Fire

Author: Ryan Steck

Publisher: Tyndale

Release Date: August 2, 2022

Rating: 5 out of 5.

If you are a fan of military type thrillers, Fields of Fire will blow you away with the action, suspense and over the top drama in this fantastic debut by Ryan Steck!

Marine Raider Matthew Redd is heading to be deployed on a top-secret mission when he stops to help a stranded motorist on the side of the road only to wake up hours later missing the mission that his team is all been killed on. Now he is having to take a deal to leave the Corps to avoid being arrested for treason. It is the only life he has known and loved and now he must return to his home town in Montana when he receives a message from his adoptive father saying he might be in trouble. When he gets home, he is too late, his dad is dead and he is left with more questions than answers. The more he digs into it all, the harder it is to know who to trust and what has really been going on while he was away serving his country.

When I started reading Fields of Fire, I didn’t realize this was the first novel by Ryan Steck. For a debut novel, Steck did an outstanding job of creating characters and putting them in situations that kept me on the edge of my seat. Matthew Redd is a great main character with a lot of heart, hurt and determination to try and do what is right no matter what it costs him. For the longest time while reading this, I wasn’t sure where the story would end up, and by the time it all came together, I was able to connect the dots back to the beginning and it all fit together nicely. Each character had a purpose and was set in place at just the right time to move the story along at the right speed. As the story progressed, so did the tension; by about the halfway point I found myself unable to put the book down until I found out what was going to happen. This is set as the first in a series and I can’t wait to see what comes next for these characters. I recommend this book to anyone that loves a great suspense thriller with fun characters and the start of a new series.

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

Rookie Mistakes

Author: Kelly Bandas

Publisher: July 19, 2022

Publisher: Thomas Nelson

Rating: 4 out of 5.

We all make mistakes; this book helps us learn to laugh at the mistakes and learn from them so we can have the best life possible.

Kelly Bandas is a comedian that uses her humor to help others by learning from the mistakes she has made and our own at trying to become a functional adult in this crazy world we live in. She was raised in a catholic home and all throughout her childhood Kelly was afraid to upset God, that she would never be good enough. As she grew, she tried to learn what it was like to live in a world that was cruel and hard at times and even though she felt alone, she was never alone. Each story that Kelly shares brings laughter and a sense of head nodding readers can agree with and feel connected to someone in ways they might not have expected.

As I read this book, I found so many of the stories relatable and made me feel better as a parent and person in this crazy life. We all make mistakes, every single day, but if we can learn from the mistakes and learn to do better without judging ourselves or others too harshly for it life will be better. If we can learn from our Rookie Mistakes and not keeping making the same ones over and over, maybe it will all be worth it.

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

Upgrade

Author: Blake Crouch

Publisher: Ballantine Books

Length: 352 Pages

Release Date: July 12, 2022

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Blake Crouch never disappoints with his mind-bending thrillers!

Logan Ramsay works for the gene protection agency (GPA) to thwart the plans of scientists who intend to modify genes for personal gain.  Logan’s mother was the matriarch of gene research and modification before her life’s work to end world hunger turned into the “Great Starvation” causing a sizeable part of the world’s population to die off.  One night at a raid in Denver, he triggers an IED in a house’s basement that was packed with a gene modifier.  At first everything comes back clean, but before long, Logan starts to notice that his intelligence is enhancing as is his body structure.  Logan knows that if the GPA finds out that his genome has been modified, he will be isolated and studied until they are confident they can contain what he will become.  But Logan also learns that what happened to him is just the first step in someone’s attempt to upgrade the human race so that they don’t face extinction in the future. 

If you pick up a Blake Crouch book, you know that you are going to be in for a wild ride that will likely result in sleepless nights while reading the book and after reading the book because you keep thinking about it for months.  Upgrade was no exception to his formula.  However, he changed tactics a bit and strayed from his usual focus on quantum entanglement to human gene modification.  He has also moved from being more current day to a time of a dystopian world after disasters. 

If you’ve researched much into genetics, you will find quite a bit of the same acronyms show up in his book.  Even if you haven’t, Crouch does a great job of giving readers just enough information to follow the technical jargon without having to have a biomedical degree just to keep up.  He never gets into the weeds, but makes it feel like you are reading a medical thriller.  The suspense is always top notch and its easy to connect with the main protagonist from the beginning.  I always look forward to his books.

There is quite a bit of foul language (understandable from the characters) but doesn’t take away from the storyline at all.  If you love suspense thrillers that will leave you thinking for weeks to months afterwards, Upgrade should be on your shelf!