If For Any Reason


If for any reasonAuthor: Courtney Walsh

Publisher: Tyndale House

Release Date: February 3, 2020

Rating: 4 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

A story about second chances, forgiveness and how loving someone can lead you on a grand adventure!

Emily Ackerman has grown up as a child star. But when fame slips away and she loses her grandfather, Emily returns to Nantucket, a place she spent time as a child. She hasn’t been back since her mother was killed in a car accident. Everywhere she goes, she carries a book of letters with her from her mother. It is as if her mother is right beside her with advice she needs at the hard moments in her life. She has never known her father and never spends long enough in one place to make lasting relationships. As she arrives back in Nantucket, Hollis McGuire is one of the first faces she sees. They knew each other before she left the island and even though she has no intention of staying, it is nice to have a familiar face. Hollis had a career as a baseball player, which ended in injury. He has returned to the island to get to know the daughter he has never had time for. Emily starts to learn secrets about her mother’s death and falls for Hollis, making her plans to keep her time on the island short harder and harder. Emily must decide if her mother’s advice to guard her heart is worth it or if she should take a chance on Hollis.

Emily is a character that has trouble dealing with her past and the failure she has recently experienced. I loved the way she was written with a controlling grandmother but still finds the strength to stand up for what she believes in and find out the truth. Love is hard and can be painful at times, but Walsh has written characters that learn that heartache and difficult times can help them grow into who they are meant to be. Emily and Hollis’s relationship has a great start, but I do think the ending was a little rushed for them. The other members of the family make the relationships come alive, especially Hollis’s daughter. The interactions between her and Emily were some of the most authentic in the whole story. Emily was going through a hard time and I felt for her, more than some of the other characters. She didn’t whine about what she was going through, instead she kept trying to find her spot in life and without realizing it found her instead. If you are looking for a good contemporary love story, I would recommend this one.

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

Wolf

wolfAuthors: Herbert J. Stern, Alan A. Winter

Publisher: Skyhorse

Release Date: January 23, 2019

Rating: 5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

Well researched fictional account of Hitler’s rise to power.

In 1918, a young man wakes up in a German hospital with no memory. Referred to as Patient X, he undergoes major plastic surgery for shrapnel wounds that he received to his face, head, and body. As his physical scars heal, his memory continues to elude him. Once he had healed physically, X was transferred to a mental ward in Pasewalk Hospital near the Poland border. He began to see a new doctor and while his memory recollection falters, X is given an opportunity to assume the name of a fallen soldier, Friedrich Richard. He also befriends a new patient sharing his room who is being treated for blindness from a gas attack in the trenches. He comes to call this friend Wolf. Upon their departure of the hospital he learns Wolf’s true name, Adolf Hitler.

It was in Pasewalk Hospital that Hitler’s plans were put into motion. Originally a quiet painter and appreciator of art history and architecture, Hitler tied his emotions to his love of Germany. In spite of the gas attack, Hitler’s blindness was attributed the Fatherland’s defeat in the Great War. His doctor came to realize this and told Hitler that he was destined to be the one to lead Germany into a new era of greatness. Within minutes Hitler’s sight returned. Over the next fifteen years, Friedrich led an interesting life that remained entangled to Hitler. However, their views were not always in sync. Hitler keep Friedrich as his most trusted ally as the only person who knew the truth of what happened at Pasewalk. Friedrich also remained loyal to Hitler and often became the only voice of reason that the Fuhrer would entertain.

For someone who voraciously reads about World War II history and events that precede that war, I realized that I have not researched as much on the time frame from 1918 to 1933. I learned so much from this book. Even though it is a fictional account, the events and timelines all match up. And it wasn’t just Hitler’s history that was interesting, but about many of Germany’s industries that have been merged together with names we know today but were separate players during this time frame. This book also introduced some US history that we’re not rather proud of but is important to know about so that it doesn’t occur again.

One of my favorite aspects to historical fiction accounts is when it makes me go research the credibility of the book. I would spend a couple of hours reading through this and then spend another couple of hours researching out what I had just read. It all matched up. Several of the historical characters were fun to find out more about to see what they went on to do during the war. I think that this is one of the greatest compliments that an author can have. Job well done.

As for the story itself, it flowed great and I enjoyed Friedrich as the narrator. I can’t personally understand his willingness to drop everything at a moment’s notice to help Hitler. I’m sure it had to do with Hitler being (literally) his oldest known friend due to the amnesia. But there were times that Friedrich had a really good thing going and he ended up throwing it away. Even so, it was fun to see the adventures he had from working on a cruise liner, to a film scorer, to overseeing security for nightclubs.

There is some occasional harsh language throughout the book as well as multiple references to sex, underage sex, and other elements that will make some readers uncomfortable. I recommend this book for mature readers who enjoy the historical time period. Based on the merits of the research, I’m giving this book 5 Stars!

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

A Girl’s Guide to the Outback

OutbackAuthor: Jessica Kate

Publisher: Thomas Nelson

Release Date: January 28, 2020

Rating: 5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

This is the novel I have been waiting for from Jessica Kate! Her fun sassy attitude comes through on every page. The way she takes readers across the world to Australia makes me want to pack my bags and head to the outback!

After his business failed and his father died, Samuel Payton decided it was time to leave Australia and try his hand at something new. He makes his way to Virginia and sets out to help others by becoming a youth pastor. He works with Kimberly Foster, a start-up expert that is working through her own personal issue of rejection from her mother who never really wanted her. Sam and Kimberly don’t always get along as their personalities clash, but they can’t help the attraction they feel towards each other. When Sam gets news from home that his family needs help, he decides that even though he loves being a youth pastor the recent troubles they have had and the conflict with Kimberly needs to take a back seat to helping his family. As Sam leaves, Kimberly finds herself in a bind to find his replacement and board members start to lose confidence in her. Kimberley’s at a loss and knows it is hopeless to try and convince Sam to come back, when he calls her for help with their family business troubles. They make a deal that if she comes to help then maybe Sam will reconsider returning to the states with her. The longer Kimberly is in Australia, the more Sam realizes he made a mistake leaving the job he loved and the woman he thought he could never get along with becomes someone he can’t see not being in his life.

With fun, sassy characters and a setting that will transport you to the great outback, readers will enjoy this new book by Jessica Kate. Her first novel was good, but I knew she could do better. I was waiting for this one right here. She is from Australia and brought a totally new feel to this contemporary romance. The Aussie slang along with the setting was a perfect blend to keep me engaged and entertained. Kim had never been to Australia and her main knowledge with the country was based on her interactions with Sam, which transplanted me as the reader to her character. I have always wanted to go to Australia and see the land, so as Kimberly made her way there and spent time with Sam and his family I felt as if I was traveling with her. And when Sam’s sister went to the Gold Coast I felt as if I was sitting on the beach watching the sun set with her. These little moments brought the book alive for me while making it all feel authentic. This story hit so much deeper for me than a lot of the contemporary romance I read. If Jessica Kate can keep this up as she continues to write, she has a bright future ahead of her. This is a light and fun read, not suspenseful, but still a quick read. I recommend this to readers that enjoy a romance with a little bit of sass at just the right places.

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

Promised Land

Promised landAuthor: Robert Whitlow

Series: Chosen People #2

Publisher: Thomas Nelson

Release Date: January 14, 2020

Rating: 5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

Another terrific story with one of my favorite characters ever written!

A lot has changed since Hana and Daud were married. They feel that they can no longer stay in their homeland of Israel because of enemies Daud made while working with the Mossad. They believe it is best to return to America and live in Atlanta, which is where Hana’s law office. Hana continues with her work and Daud sets himself up a company to assist corporations looking to open an office in the middle east as his primary employment, but the CIA likes to use him as a contractor. While on a covert mission to extract a Ukrainian scientist, events don’t go as planned and Daud becomes the suspect of interest in a disturbance, branding him as a fugitive in Egypt.

When Jakob Brodsky calls Hana about another client, she knows it will never be a dull moment. Jakob has a new case involving some artifacts that were stolen by the Russian government during World War II. His client is hoping to locate and recover them if possible. Hana agrees to help in a limited capacity as her firm only wants her time spent on billable clients. Her boss, Leon Lowenstein, has also asked Hana to participate in a Jewish information forum to share her story. Daud agrees to oversee security for the event to not only keep Hana safe, but also show people in the United States what attending an event is like in the middle east.

Hana likes the safety of living in Atlanta, but Daud feels the call of Jerusalem. While overseas for work, he stops over in Jerusalem to talk to someone about Jakob Brodsky’s case. He never knew the events set off by this trip would eventually put everything he loves in jeopardy.

I’d like to start off by letting people know that this is the sequel to Chosen People and while it can be read as a standalone, to get the full effect of the book and characters, I highly recommended reading the first book. Promised Land is the continuation of Hana and Daud’s journey together after they were joined in the first book. This story really focuses on struggles of a newlywed couple and their adjustment to a new life. Through it all, readers get to see the selflessness of both Daud and Hana and how they are willing to give up on their own dream to see their partner’s dream come true. Sure, there are times that each character struggles with the actions of the other, but Whitlow shows how important constant communication is in a marriage.

Hana is one of my favorite characters that has ever been put into print. Her actions and demeanor speak to my soul when I read about her. I loved how her habit of waking up during the night and praying carried over from the first book. She speaks life to me and I feel like I know her. That is an extremely powerful attribute to any book. I hope she does the same to other readers.

The only issue I have with the whole book was the lack of Emily’s presence. She was a consistent supporting character for Jakob in the first book and now she is reference by name only. Here is to hoping that there is a third book that will reprise her role.

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

The Art of Friendship

The art of weaknessAuthor: Kim Wier

Publisher: Bethany House Publishers

Release Date: January 7, 2020

Rating: 5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

In the day and age of Facebook friends and followers, it can be difficult to have and cultivate true relationships. The Art of Friendship explores these issues and gives the reader insight into what it really means to be a true friend, something we all desperately need.

We live in the world of Instafriends with Likes and Shares that provide many avenues at our fingertips for connecting to others. With that in mind, it is amazing to consider the fact that we are more lonely than ever before. Loneliness is harder on our minds and bodies than smoking or obesity. It’s not the fact that we have more connections than ever but that we are lacking deeper more meaningful ones. The Art of Friendship will give you an inside look at what God has meant for you in your life with meaningful friendships. There are many different types of friends we can have and each one fulfills a role in our lives to make it the fullest and richest it can be. But we can’t get that from only online friends and relationships. Through this book you will discover the friendships that can be life changing and give you all you seek.

When you first look at the title of this book you might think it’s not for you or think that you have lots of friends and don’t need help in that department. But the deeper you look, the more you will see that what you thought of as true relationships are not really that. With Facebook and the other social media platforms available, it can be so easy to get wrapped up in the world of likes, tweets, hearts, and other ways to show people you are invested in their lives. But even that lacks a heartfelt connection that a true face-to-face interaction can fill. It truly is God’s will for us to have close relationships to have a life lived to the fullest. Not only will it enrich our lives, but we can enrich the lives of those we are involved in as well. I love when Wier says, “If we want friendships that will fuel our body, mind, and soul in a way that helps us move forward, we need to fill up with the right kind of friendships.” There is so much truth in this book that we can all learn from if we keep an open mind as we read through the pages. I recommend this book to everyone, not a single person can pick this up and walk away without feeling as if they have grown.

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

Cross Her Heart

Cross her heartAuthor: Sarah Pinborough

Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks

Release Date: January 14, 2020

Rating: 4 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

Cross your heart and hope to die can be a very serious pact to some. Cross Her Heart shows just how dangerous breaking that kind of promise can be.

Lisa’s life was going great, things with her job have never been better, and although her relationship with her daughter Ava is not at its best, she wouldn’t trade it for the world. A new client at work has started showing interest in her and she wonders if maybe it is time to explore that part of her world she has shut off for so long. Secrets she has kept locked deep inside have kept her from venturing out and letting others in too close. Even her best friend Marilyn doesn’t know all her secrets. Things all come unhinged when Ava rescues a boy from drowning at the lake and they all get their picture in the news bringing her past to light. With her world crumbling and not knowing who she can trust, Lisa has to figure out who is behind the horrible events in her life and how she can stop them before Lisa and Ava pay the ultimate price.

This is the first Sarah Pinborough book I have read and I have to say I was most impressed with her character development and the way she kept the secrets hidden for so long into the story. I put the pieces of the puzzle together just before all was revealed, but that isn’t because it was easy to figure things out. I am just a huge fan of thrillers and pride myself on figuring things out and not getting surprised. I loved seeing things unfold and the back and forth dialogue to reveal the story little by little. A lot of time, the dialogue between the past and present can be confusing and pull readers from the story. It takes a very skilled writer to be able to pull that off and I am happy to say Pinborough is one of the best I have read at this. Lisa was a very complicated character, and with a past as complicated as hers, she is one that readers will enjoy getting to know. Ava is a typical teenager and was written as such. One of the nicest things about this novel was the fact that even the secondary characters were relevant at every moment they were written. The language and themes throughout make this for a mature audience only and did turn me off at times. Overall I recommend this for a mature audience that loves a psychological thriller.

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

For more information of this title, please check Harper Collins.

The Way of the Brave

Way of the braveAuthor: Susan May Warren

Series: Global Search & Rescue #1

Publisher: Revell

Release Date: January 7, 2020

Rating: 5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

Wow! Wow! Wow! Susan May Warren has started her new series off with a bang. The Way of the Brave will take readers on a chilling ride with so much action, adventure and just the right amount of romance sprinkled in they will be aching for more.

Orion Starr is trying to put his past as a pararescue jumper and the last rescue that went wrong behind him. He is finally recovered from his injuries and living alone in Alaska. He still has nightmares about his time in Afghanistan and when his buddy Hamilton Jones ask him to join his rescue team, he wants to tell him no, but deep down he still wants to help others. When a group of climbers gets lost on Denali, Orion can’t not help, especially when he finds out that someone from his past that he thought he would never see again is with the group.

Jenny Calhoun is a former CIA profiler and psychiatrist who has been climbing mountains every year trying to get away from the guilt she feels for a top-secret mission going horribly wrong. With two of her friends on this climb, she hopes they can prove they are stronger than they think and become closer to one another. The last thing she expects to see when she gets to Denali is the man she was falling in love with when her world fell apart. When the climb goes horribly wrong and they are trapped on the side of the mountain, Jenny prays that Orion will keep his promise from Afghanistan and find her no matter what.

I have been a fan of Susan May Warren for a long time. This book is very different from any previous books of hers I have read, but in a very good way. The action and suspense here aren’t focused on a villain chasing someone, instead readers see the characters trying to survive the dangerous mountain and elements they are in. In this story, the main characters are Orion and Jenny with many supporting characters on each side that will shine in the upcoming sequels. Orion and Jenny both have a difficult past and are using their time climbing to work through their issues. I am not a climber and much of the book is about the actual climbing experience. Some of the terms and technical aspects were unfamiliar to me but written in a way that made it easy for me to follow along with the story even though I haven’t been on a climb or had these experiences myself. The research that went into this made the story flow brilliantly and kept me engaged with what the characters were going through. It is hard to write a suspenseful story with no real bad guy to move the action along, but Warren has done just that with The Way of the Brave. That said, there is a minor villain involved and I am curious to see how that will be played out in the next installment of the series. This is a wonderful start to a new series and I for one can’t wait to see what adventures lie ahead for us. If you are a fan of Romantic Suspense you will not want to miss this one. And if you have never read anything by Susan May Warren this is the perfect one to start with.

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

An Uncommon Woman

an uncommon womanAuthor: Laura Franz

Publisher: Revell

Release Date: January 7, 2020

Rating: 4 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

Franz shows why she is one of the elite authors of historical fiction during the prerevolutionary war time period!

Tessa Swan grew up the only daughter of a Scotsman in western Virginia during the 18th century. To say that she is an uncommon woman is an understatement. Living in the wild frontier borderland and having to fight off the local native American tribes has made her a bit rough around the edges and she’s not sorry for it, especially after her Pa was felled by a tomahawk. She’s seen friends be taken by the tribes and had to wonder what happened to them. When she meets the new Fort Commander, Clay Tygart, she can’t deny that there is something unspoken that passes between them. But as Clay tries to focus on his leadership duties, will she manage to distract him long enough for more than a passing glance?

Clay Tygart grew up wild after he was taken as a child by the Lenape tribe. After he was rescued, he made it his mission to keep other people safe from the same occurrence. He fought in the French and Indian War and become a hero, which resulted in a frontier fort bearing his surname. Once he arrives at Fort Tygart, he meets the Swan clan. The lone daughter named Tessa quickly garners his attention, but he knows that he must focus on being the commander now and not on a romance, which he has always easily avoided. When Tessa gets taken by the same Lenape tribe that kidnapped him as a child, he realizes that his heart has been taken captive as well. Clay knows he must get her back.

Laura Franz does a terrific job taking readers directly to the time period she is writing about. This has always impressed me about her books and An Uncommon Woman is no exception. I felt as though I was transported to the western frontier of Virginia in the opening scene while journeying down the river and spying the two native American tribes on the bank. The language she uses easily sets the scene and the use of dialect made me feel I was hearing the characters talk. She reminds me of reading James Fennimore Cooper but does it in the present. If you enjoy historical romance stories set in this time period, this is a must read to add to your shelf.

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

A Long Time Comin’

long time cominAuthor: Robin W. Pearson

Publisher: Tyndale House

Release Date: January 7, 2019

Rating: 4.5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

A breakout debut novel about love, family, heartbreak and healing. Great read to kick off the new year!

Evelyn Lester is trying to figure out if she wants to save her marriage. She discovered that her husband has been having an emotional affair with a subordinate at work. Once discovered, he quickly dissolved the relationship and is trying to show Evelyn that he wants to keep their marriage alive. To complicate matters, she just found out she is pregnant, which is making the decision that much more difficult. She decides to take some time away and goes to stay at her mother’s home. Shortly after arriving, she learns that her grandmother, known as Granny B, has leukemia and has decided not to pursue treatment. Granny B has had a rough life herself raising seven children without having a husband present. She became a hard woman and even harder on her children. Even so, her children have become very successful professionally, but they all harbor secrets from the past and present. Evelyn begins spending more and more time with Granny B and each begins to unburden their secrets to the other. Before long, they devise a plan to help Granny B close out her grievances before she passes on from this life.

This was really an incredible debut novel. There is a lot of pain displayed throughout this book caused between family members. But deep down, people begin to realize how alike they are, which can be why the pain is caused. And do we ever really understand each other’s circumstances to judge? As it is said, Remove the log in your own eye so that you can see the speck in your neighbor’s eye more clearly. That is part of the message of this book. Everyone seemed to think they knew what was best, but no one knew the whole story.

The local North Carolina dialect written throughout the book made me feel like I was there. The letters written showed the education that some of the characters received made it very believable. Sometimes it is easy to take for granted how things were in the past because some of the readers never experienced it. Pearson did a great job with this story. Terrific novel to kick off the new year!

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

End Game

End gameAuthor: Rachel Dylan

Series: Capital Intrigue #1

Publisher: Bethany House

Release Date: January 7, 2020

Rating: 4 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

With danger around every corner, every clue brings more trouble! End Game is a non-stop suspense ride that readers will have trouble putting down to do anything else!

FBI Special Agent Bailey Ryan finds herself partnered with NCIS Special Agent Marco Agostini when several members of elite military members are murdered on the streets of Washington DC. Even though their evidence leads them to a Navy SEAL sniper, Bailey has doubts he is the one behind the murders. Each new clue that brings them closer to the truth also brings them closer to danger. Bailey has several attempts made on her life as she gets closer to uncovering the truth and Marco realizes his feelings for her go far beyond that of a fellow agent. Whoever is behind this is willing to kill anyone that gets in their way and Bailey and Marco must do whatever they can to stop them before anyone else gets hurt.

End Game is the first in the new Capital Intrigue series by Rachel Dylan and she has started this new series off with a bang. I loved the main characters. Actually, I loved all of the characters. Bailey and Marco have a great chemistry from the start. They are from different agencies and are a little hesitant of each other at the beginning but quickly learn that in order to solve the case they are going to have to trust each other. The way that Bailey became a target as Marco’s feelings intensified made my connection with both characters that much more involved and kept me with a vested interest in what was going to happen next. The only downfall for me was the fact that the romance aspect outweighed the suspense at times. Being in an intense situation can make feelings run high but some of the dialogue seemed a little out of place at times. Fans of romantic suspense will surely want to add this to their list. If you have never read anything by Rachel Dylan this is the perfect time to get started with this intriguing new series.

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