The Pages of Her Life

Pages of her lifeAuthor: James L. Rubart

Publisher: Thomas Nelson

Release Date: May 21, 2019

Rating: 5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

If you have never read a James Rubart book, you are missing out!  He is one of the best authors I have ever read. The Pages of Her Life is another home run for this very talented author.

Allison Moore thought starting her own architecture firm with her best friend was going to be the best thing ever, no more working in the corporate world and having to answer to others. After her divorce and the death of her father, she needs something good in her life. While she enjoys working with her best friend and not having to answer to anyone, things are tougher than she would like to admit. When her mom tells her that her father had been living a secret double life and has left them almost half a million dollars in debt, she knows she must do something to help. As Allison searches for ways to help, she is gifted a journal which she pours her heart into. With each passing day, her problems seem to intensify and so does the mystery of her new journal. The words she writes in the journal begin to disappear and are replaced by new ones that help her see her situation in a new light.

James Rubart is quickly becoming one of my go to favorite authors. If I see he has a new book coming out, I am all over it. This is the third book I have read by him and it fully lived up to my expectations. His writing style is unlike that of anyone I have read before. He has a way of writing a story that goes so deep with characters that will pull you in better than most. I loved the way Allison and her brother stepped up to help their mom when they found out she was in need. Their mom was trying to do what all moms do and keep her kids from worrying but in the end, they had to come together as a family and work together to solve the difficult problem.

Readers need to go into this book with an open mind for what they will find within the pages. It is not your normal feel good read; this will require readers to go deeper and examine their faith and aspects of their own life. Rubart did an outstanding job of character development with Allison as she goes through trials and tribulations in her personal and professional life. I despised Derek and Linda, but that is ok as these are not characters we are supposed to like, and I loved how real the dislike for them came across. Fans of Rubart’s writing will notice characters from previous novels making an appearance. I almost feel there is a little more that could happen for a few of the characters. The storyline itself wrapped up nicely but I became so invested in these characters I would like to see more with them. I highly recommend this to readers that enjoy a story that will draw them in to the supernatural and explore elements of faith not often written about in such an entertaining and enjoyable story.

Turtles in the Road

TurtlesAuthors: Rhonda Rhea and Kaley Rhea

Publisher: Bold Vision Books

Release Date: April 21, 2017

Rating: 5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

A wonderfully enticing story that I couldn’t devour fast enough. Readers will truly fall in love with these characters and the trials they go through to find out who they are and what God has in store for them that is so much better than they would have ever imagined.

Piper Cope thought she had her life figured out. She felt certain God had called her to be a pastor’s wife. When her fiancé breaks off their engagement, she is left uncertain of her future. She packs her car and leaves to go live with her sister, another complicated relationship in her life, while she sorts out what her future holds. While driving on the rainy roads, she swerves to miss a turtle in the road and ends up in the ditch with a broken car stuck in a little unknown town. With her car in the shop and not a lot of money, she ends up at the little bed and breakfast in town and working at the community center. She quickly falls for the little town but doesn’t want to get her heart broken again. The community center director decides to take a chance giving Piper a job and helping her out in her time of need but doesn’t expect to have feelings for her grow as quickly as they do. Will Piper find what she has been looking for or find herself at another dead end and more confused than ever?

Rhonda Rhea and her daughter Kaley Rhea have written one delightful read that I devoured in a single day. This may be one of the most enjoyable Christian Romance books I have ever read. The best thing about this story for me was the fact that nothing felt rushed, the characters acted out exactly as I felt they should, the romance was not rushed in the slightest and I found myself picturing exactly what was happening as I jumped into the pages head first. The writing style is unique and hit the spot; when I say this was funny I mean it was actually funny where it was supposed to be funny and for the right reasons. Most of the times when a book is said to be funny it is because a character has certain quirks that make it funny but here it was situations and the characters jut being flat out hilarious. I loved everything about Piper from the way she ended up swerving to miss the turtle to the very end (I don’t want to spoil the end, but I guarantee you will be smiling). Readers that enjoy a fun clean romance with a good message will absolutely adore Turtles in the Road. This will be on my best of list for sure!

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

Pieces of Her

Pieces of Her

Author: Karin Slaughter

Publisher: William Morrow Publishing

Release Date: May 21, 2019

Rating: 4 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

What do you do when the person you thought you knew best turns out to be a stranger with a life that you never could have imagined that has now put your life at risk?

 Laura has spent the last thirty years protecting herself and her daughter Andrea from her past. A past she isn’t proud of and wants to keep secret. When they go out to celebrate Andrea’s birthday, a shooting throws their world into turmoil. Andrea sees a side of her mother she has never witnessed before and finds out that before her mother was Laura, she was someone completely different. Piece by piece, Andrea works to figure out who exactly her mother is and what is causing her past to attack them all. Without her mother giving her information she needs, Andrea travels across the country collecting the puzzle pieces to put it all together and keep them both alive.

 Aside from the incredibly harsh language used throughout the entire novel, this was an incredibly engaging read. The story, the characters, and the predicaments they found themselves in kept me hooked throughout. I loved the concept of the book and how the characters had such intricate pasts that caught up with them in the end. The back and forth timelines took a little bit to keep up with who was who and how it related in the past compared to what was happening in the present timeline. Andy had trouble getting her words and thoughts out at times which was a little irritating, I wanted to see more out of her. I do think she had good growth as a character along with her mother. The “bad guys” didn’t really evolve much for me, they started bad and they stayed that way. This was a very engaging and enjoyable story for me but I do wish the language would have been toned down, it just wasn’t necessary to the extent it was used. I do recommend this to readers that enjoy a great mystery. This is the first book by Karen Slaughter and I enjoyed the writing style and will be tempted to pick up more in the future.

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

Powerful Prayers for your Son

Power prayers

Authors: Rob & Joanna Teigen

Publisher: Revell

Release Date: April 16, 2019

Rating: 5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

A wonderful tool for all parents of boys as they grow and go through the difficult times life will throw their way.

 As parents we always want to pray for our kids. Sometimes finding the right prayer can be difficult. Rob and Joanna Teigen write that even when we as parents don’t understand our son doesn’t mean God doesn’t understand what they are going through and what they need. This book offers prayers for many different situations and even stories from parents going through hard times, how they prayed for their kids and what God did to answer those prayers. Also included are sections that explain what is important for boys to learn as they grow and how parents can pray for the lives of their children

 I absolutely loved reading this book. I have two young boys and constantly want to pray the right things for them. In the day and age, we are living in a time when there is so much bad in the world that our kids are exposed to, we need to be on guard and pray constantly. I loved the areas with Prayer Stories that gave good examples of what some parents have gone through and how they prayed for their son and how God answered those prayers, even if it wasn’t exactly what they prayed for. Even when we don’t know the right words to pray for our children, if we will call out to God He will answer our prayers in the way He knows is right; it may not always be what we think is right but later if we look back we will see how right it truly is. Certain sections really resonated with me as I see my son going through those tough times and wonder if I am doing enough for him and want him to seek God and hope I am setting the right example.  The payers don’t have to be long, they are just enough to say what is on the heart, that we love our children and truly want what is best for them.  I recommend this book to parents of kids young and old.  We should never stop praying for our kids and can always use more resources to add to our arsenal for them.

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

The Song of the Jade Lily

Jade lilyAuthor: Kristy Manning

Publisher: William Morrow

Release Date: May 14, 2019

Rating: 5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

A brilliant piece of literary work that showcases the Japanese occupation of Shanghai during World War II.

Romy and her family are Jews living in Vienna during the 1930s.  On the night of Kristallnacht, her family realizes that they must flee the country to save their lives, but only she and her parents are able to secure passage on a ship from Italy to Shanghai, known as Paris of the East.  Upon arrival, Romy quickly realizes that Shanghai is very different from anywhere she has ever been.  It is overcrowded with people and separated into many different sections including French, British, and Japanese.  She soon meets another young woman here age named Li Ho.  They form a strong friendship over the next two years, but after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, the Japanese occupy Shanghai and begin to rid the area of any anti-Japanese sentiment.  Will this friendship stand the test of a war-torn country?

Jumping ahead several years to 2016, Alexandra Cohen is a very successful commodities trader in London.  But after a bad breakup and learning her grandfather is dying, she quickly returns to Melbourne, Australia.  Alexandra has always been different being part Chinese but has never really known the true story of her birth mother.  Her parents died when she was young, and her grandparents always change the subject when she brings it up.  After her grandfather passes, Alexandra receives an opportunity to work in Shanghai.  She takes it with hopes that maybe she can finally uncover the truth about the adoption of her mother and find her true family.

This has been a great year for historical novels that uncover rarely known facts about World War II.  This book was no exception as I had little knowledge of Jewish refugees living in Shanghai.  I thoroughly appreciated all the research that the author put into this book to bring this era of history to light and how she weaved it into such an intricate story.  The character development of Alexandra throughout the book was fantastic as well.  She grew from being insecure into someone who can seize the moment and get what she wants from life.  There is some very raw emotion throughout the book. There were parts that brought me to tears because of what Romy experienced.  I imagine other readers will feel the same way.

This book really focuses on the power of secrets and the damage that they can do to a family over time.  However, there is also a theme of redemption in the later part of the book.  I enjoyed that the author shared that even when families have secrets, they are not as secret as one might think.

There is very little foul language in the book; however, there are some implied sex scenes that will not be appropriate for younger readers.  I recommend this book for readers who love time slip novels exploring World War II and for people who just need a good story!

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

Realm

RealmAuthor: Alexandrea Weis

Publisher: Vesuvian Books

Release Date; May 14, 2019

Rating: 4 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

Behind every great leader is the woman he loves, even if she is not his queen.

Roxana is the daughter of a Persian tribal chief who stands at opposition to Alexander the Great.  But when he is territory is conquered, Roxana’s father must make a treaty or lose his life.  He decides to make peace with Alexander and offers his son to serve in his service.  Later that week when they are having a great banquet, Roxana is presented as the daughter of the chief.  Alexander is quickly taken by her exquisite beauty and knows that he must have this woman as his wife, which comes a quite shock to everyone.  The leader of the Greeks marry a Persian?  Certainly not!  But yes, Alexander wills it, so it does happen.  Roxana, who is immensely terrified, is suddenly thrust into a marriage with the most powerful man in the world.  She comes to love Alexander as he is tender and thoughtful to her.  He appreciates her intellect and quick wit that can match his own.  But being married to the most powerful man on earth has its own consequences.  She must watch out not just for Alexander but also for herself as jealously and treachery lurk at every turn.

I love a good historical fiction novel that incorporates actual events within the story to make it seem more alive.  Alexandra Weis did a tremendous job in her research to bring the story of Roxana to life.  Many have heard of Alexander the great, but history books haven’t done such a great job of teaching about Roxana to the masses.  She was no doubt unparalleled in beauty, but I loved that she was smart, knew multiple languages, and could match Alexander the Great in a game of wits.  It’s fun to see strong females in lead history roles when so many were suppressed.  That said, Roxana was a wide range of emotion, but I think that is true to what someone would have been feeling in her position.  From thrilled to sorrow to strength, she embodied it all.  I would love to see more stories like this one come to life.

I received a complimentary copy of this title from the publisher.  The views and opinions expressed within are my own. ;\lsdpriority5

Living Lies

Living lies

Author: Natalie Walters

Series: Harbored Secrets #1

Publisher: Revell

Release Date: May 21, 2019

Rating: 5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

Great debut series for the romantic suspense market!

 When Lane Kent returns to her home town of Walton, Georgia after the death of her husband, she needs to find hope to want to stay alive. Her five-year-old son is with her and she wants to live for him but the depression she has had for years is getting dangerously close to overtaking her. Her father is running for congress and under the watchful eyes of everyone in town. Lane feels the pressure of those watchful eyes causing her world to close in on her. Things get even harder when Lane stumbles upon a dead body in the woods. She is working with the newest deputy in town, Charlie Lynch, to figure out the truth behind the murder and if her own life is worth living after all she has seen and been through.

 For her debut novel, Natalie Walters has crafted a story that will keep readers glued to the edge of their seats waiting until the final page to see how things will turn out. I wasn’t sure what to expect from this novel, with it being the first by Walters, but I am pleased to say that I will be greatly looking forward to whatever comes next. The characters, especially Lane, were so well written that I had no trouble rooting for her to succeed and find a way out of the darkness within. The tension in each scene is brought to the surface by the way readers will fall in love with the characters. The way that Charlie develops the bond with Lane’s son and becomes involved in his life and not just Lane shows he is the perfect fit for their little broken family. One of the most interesting aspects of the book for me was the dynamic between Lane and the rest of her family. The problems she has been dealing with for years come full circle showing a great character arc. The flow of the story was well done, and I felt it was just the right length with little fluff to take away from the story. Romantic suspense in the Christian market has a lot of really great authors and can be hard to compete with but Walters had found her own unique voice and style of writing here that will please readers.  I will gladly pick up the next in the series as soon as I can and can’t wait to see what happens next with these characters. I recommend this book to readers that enjoy a good romantic suspense novel and are fans of Lynnette Eason, Diann Mills, and even Irene Hannon are going to want to pick this one up.

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

 

No Place Like Here

No Place like Here

Author: Christina June

Publisher: Blink YA Books

Release Date: May 21, 2019

Rating: 5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

An absolutely beautifully written coming of age story that will leave readers smiling long after turning the last page.

 After a year away at boarding school, Ashlyn Zanotti feels she has deserved a second chance to come home for her senior year of high school. As she prepares to head home and ask her parents for her second chance, she gets the news that her father is being sent to prison for tax evasion and her mother is going to rehab for exhaustion. With no one at home, Ashlyn is sent away to work with her cousin at a team building retreat center. Dreading the summer but knowing she has no other choice, Ashlyn decides to make the best of the situation which turns out to be more than she ever imagined. The center’s new manager is disorganized and makes more than her fair share of mistakes leaving Ashlyn with the difficult decision of staying quiet or standing up for what she knows is right.

 This book is the very thing that should be in all school libraries and recommended to young readers. I loved the way the story played out and the characters evolved. Ashlyn shows so much growth as a person having to deal with incredibly tough issues not only at her new job but with her family as well. Spending time with a cousin she barely knows is awkward enough but having others at camp find out about her father makes things even more difficult. Being a teenager at camp there brings about opportunities for a summer romance.  These moments played out both realistically and sweet. All of the relationships made sense, not once was I questioning why a character was acting a certain way, they all played their parts exactly as I felt they should. I disliked Deb, as was intended, she didn’t technically have a lot of page time but what she did have was memorable. June has a way of writing these characters that have no other choice but to get the readers hooked and become deeply emotionally involved with the outcome of each of the characters. I recommend this book to young readers looking for a good story to relate to and feel like they might be at summer camp with learning the life lessons along beside them. I also recommend this to adults that might need an insight into the emotions of the younger kids in their lives.

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

The Woman in the White Kimono

Woman in the white kimono

Author: Ana Johns

Publisher: Park Row

Release Date: May 28, 2019

Rating: 5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

One of the best Japanese literature selections that we’ve seen!

 In 1957, tensions continue to run high in American occupied Japan.  The Japanese industry is still working on recovery and families that previously enjoyed a lavish lifestyle are looking at diminished returns.  Naoko Nakamura’s family is facing this possibility and her father arranges a marriage to try to solidify a partnership for his company.  Naoko has her own plans as she has given her heart to an American sailor and wants to live for true happiness.  When her family discovers that she has conceived his child, it causes a huge amount of disgrace and she is outcast while her beau is on an American tour.  The consequences of her choice will haunt her all the days of her life and cause unknown ramifications for future generations.

 Tori Kovac has been taking care of her dying father when she discovers a letter in his mail from Japan.  After he dies, she reads the letter and begins to discover that the man she has always known as her father had another life that she never knew about.  As the secrets begin to unravel, she wonders if she ever truly knew her father.  Without hesitation, Tori sets off for Japan to unravel the mystery that her father left in his wake.

 I’m a huge fan of literature set in Japan and this may be the best that I’ve read.  It’s a time slip novel crossing between 1957 and present day.  The amount of research that was put into writing this book is incredible.  Throughout Naoko’s story, everything felt like I was right there along side her during the time period.  From understanding the culture at the time to the emotions that were being felt within the country.  The pain that Naoko experienced was also so raw that it could have only been based on a true story, which is very sad indeed.  My eyes stung with tears as I read what had happened to these poor women during a dark period.  I’m glad that the author felt compelled to bring this era to light to help people understand what occurred so that we can learn from it as a society.  I also enjoyed that this was a novel free from foul language, which shows that a great story can be accomplished just on the merits.

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

Into the Wind

Into the WindAuthor: Ginger Zee

Series: Chasing Helicity #2

Publisher: Disney Hyperion

Release Date: April 23, 2019

Rating: 5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

In the follow up to Chasing Helicity, Ginger Zee brings more action, adventure, and even a little romance that readers will not want to miss.

After the crazy adventures Helicity Dunlap has gone through, her parents think a change of scenery to recuperate from the turmoil. Helicity’s best friend Mia has gone to be with her Aunt in Texas and help with her bed and breakfast. Mia invites Helicity to come spend some time at the beach with her. Helicity enjoys roaming the beach, spending time with her friend, and trying her best to get past the trauma of the last few months. When her brother, Andy, shows up to surprise her she knows something is going on with him but doesn’t want to upset him by accusing him of something she can’t be sure of. After the tornado at home that injured Andy, he hasn’t been the same and Helicity feels responsible. She wanted to escape all of that by coming to Texas but that doesn’t seem possible. When she and her friends go out sailing and get caught in intense weather, Helicity once again finds herself in the eye of the storm.

Ginger Zee has done it again. I was very impressed with the first Chasing Helicity book and the second is just as good, if not better. I love the character of Helicity, she is strong but also willing to admit her faults and learn from her shortcomings. This book picks up pretty quick where the first left off and we see the trauma each of the characters has gone through and how it affects the actions they take moving forward. There are a lot of difficult issues tackled here and readers will be pleased with the way each is handled. The tension was tight with each chapter making the reading quick and enjoyable. I love when an author makes a story that is both enjoyable and something that will make engage young readers. I read a lot of young adult novels and so many of them are short on tension and full of fluff, but not this series. These novels will keep young readers turning the page and aching to learn more about the weather and what they need to know to stay safe when forces of nature come their way. I highly recommend this novel to young readers that love science, adventure, and maybe a smidge of romance sprinkled in.