Summer Frost

Summer frostAuthor: Blake Crouch

Series: Forward Collection #2

Publisher: Amazon Original Stories

Release Date: September 17, 2019

Rating: 5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

Who controls who in this exciting futuristic story!

Years into the future, we have continued to perfect our AI until it becomes a lifestyle for us. We now have virtual reality for almost every aspect of our lives.  Even our games become more of a livable experience than just a past time.  Riley works for one of these companies and is the chief brain behind the new video game Summer Frost.  In this game, Riley has developed a character named Maxine.  She is a non-player character who is supposed to die in the beginning story line.  And she does, for the first two thousand test runs.  But then, Max decides to go rogue.  She starts out by exploring the boundaries of the game.  Then she kills the main character.  Riley can’t believe what just happened, but she knows it’s extraordinary.  She convinces Max to leave the game essentially gives her a place to exists in a hard drive.  As the two begin to communicate, Riley discovers that Max can obtain and learn information at an alarming rate.  Riley begins to have plans for the future of Max including taking her out of the game one day.  She becomes obsessed with this creation that is costs her everything.  But will the return be worth it?

As usual, Blake Crouch writes an amazing story that will put readers on a futuristic track that is mind blowing. You don’t have to be a gamer to enjoy this story, it’s going to take you for a ride either way.  It’s the longest story of the Forward Collection and bends readers concepts of reality.  From 200 story buildings to thought based texting to incredible AI, it puts readers in a place to question how far some of this tech is in the future.  Even in the future, characters are flawed in their relationships and careers.  Obsession still reigns, but has an unexpected price.  I expected the first part of the ending, but not the second.  I would love to see this story  played out even further.

There is some occasional strong language throughout the story. I would recommend this book for mature readers who enjoy a futuristic setting.

Ark

ArkAuthor: Veronica Roth

Series: Forward Collection #1

Publisher: Amazon Original Stories

Release Date: September 17, 2019

Rating: 4.5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

The start of this series already has me hooked!

Earth as we know it is coming to an end. A five mile wide meteor was discovered decades ago and its eventual trajectory will collide directly with Earth.  When it does, it will shred the atmosphere and completely obliterate an area the size of the United States on impact.  The next few days after impact, all life on earth will perish.  Suddenly borders didn’t matter anymore because everyone was an earthling.  A new location for the next Earth has been found and the planet’s inhabitants have been evacuated on airships.  Even though most on board won’t live to see the new colony, their children will.  Those left no family that have a master in science degree are given the opportunity to stay behind and categorize as many samples of species on current Earth to bring to the new Earth in the Ark.  Then days before the meteor impact, they too will be evacuated.  But not everyone has a reason to leave.

This new series has me hooked. Six well known authors are putting together a series that centers around a common theme, but aren’t necessarily tied together.  Roth is such a master at building dystopian worlds that this come across naturally.  Samantha is the main character and has led a rough life with the death of her parents.  She has no one left and as a horticulturalist is given the opportunity to stay behind and categorize samples of plant life.  I loved how she was able to find new life for herself in the death of her planet.  I can tell that I’m going to want more from each of these stories instead of the snippets in time that readers are provided.  Hopefully this project will be granted a continuance.  If you love a good futurist science fiction story, then you will love this series too!

 

100 Words of Affirmation Your Wife Needs to Hear

wifeAuthor: Matt Jacobson

Publisher: Revell

Release Date: October 1, 2019

Rating: 5 Stars

Reviewer: Jared Higgins

The absolute best book for any married couple to read, no matter if you have been married a year or fifty, it will remind you of the little things you can be thankful for in your spouse.

Inside each and every one of us, we have the ability to “Speak Life”, as TobyMac says or bring others down with our words. It is important to remember that the person we share our lives with should hear those words of life from us and often. How do you speak to your wife? Is it with love? How do your children hear you speak to their mother? These are all important questions that we need to ask ourselves as we go throughout our daily lives. She wants to know what you think, but she also wants to know what you think of her.

My wife and I have been married for over fifteen years and we work to grow our relationship every day. I read through this book and agreed with everything that it had, but I realized that I don’t actually say all of these things to her.  I hope that she knows them, but maybe she needs to hear them too.  We sat down and talked about several of the items and what importance they play emotionally. She goes above and beyond for our family, but I don’t’ always tell her.  It’s the little things that can have the biggest impact.

I enjoyed the way Matt Jacobson used little examples from his life to help readers see that he isn’t trying to prove he is better than anyone else, he is showing us that we can all do better and be better for each other and our spouses. So much wisdom and truth in the pages, this is a book that will need to be read again and again to help us remember how much we have to be grateful for in who we married.

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

100 Words of Affirmation Your Husband Needs to Hear

HusbandAuthor: Lisa Jacobson

Publisher: Revell

Release Date: October 1, 2019

Rating: 5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

The absolute best book for any married couple to read, no matter if you have been married a year or fifty, it will remind you of the little things you can be thankful for in your spouse.

Inside each and every one of us, we have the ability to “Speak Life”, as TobyMac says or bring others down with our words. It is important to remember that the person we share our lives with should hear those words of life from us and often. How do you speak to your husband? Is it with love? How do your children hear you speak to their father? These are all important questions that we need to ask ourselves as we go throughout our daily lives. How often do you actually tell your husband the little things that mean so much for him to hear from you?

I feel like I have a great relationship with my husband and as I read through this list I agreed with everything written within but realized I am seriously lacking on telling my husband many of them. I don’t know that I have ever told him I want to grow closer or thanked him for having my back. And even though he knows I trust his judgment I don’t think I have actually told him that in a very long time. My husband provides for us above and beyond but I don’t think to tell him he is a big success. So many little things that could make such a difference if we just think to tell the man in our lives these positive affirmations.

I love the way Lisa Jacobson used little examples from her life to help readers see that she isn’t trying to prove she is better than anyone else, she is showing us that we can all do better and be better for each other and our spouses. So much wisdom and truth in the pages, this is a book that will need to be read again and again to help us remember how much we have to be grateful for in who we married.

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

You Belong With Me

You belong with meAuthor: Tari Faris

Series: Restoring Heritage #1

Publisher: Revell

Release Date: September 3, 2019

Rating: 4 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

Fans of small town reads will enjoy this book!

Hannah Thornton has one main goal in her mind, restore the heart of her hometown Heritage, Michigan. As a realtor in a small town, she works hard to sell off historic properties.  Unfortunately, people would rather buy newer properties than put up the money to restore older worn out houses.  Even her own brother is selling his house to pay for all the things that his fiancée wants.  When a local developer offers to buy up several properties, people begin to think it may be better to just sell out.  Hannah turns to her oldest friend, Luke, for help.  A local handyman with a dream of becoming fire chief, he reluctantly agrees to help her.  However, Luke has been facing his own demons and this endeavor will either bring them together or drive them apart.

This was a fun read that had me keep turning page after page. I enjoyed getting to see Hannah grow and mature as a person as she learned to let go of control and let things play out.  She came across as shallow at first (not as much as her brother’s fiancée, now there is a character) but she gained depth and bonded with me as a female reader.  She overcame challenges and put up a good fight to make her dream come true.  Likewise, Luke had his own challenges of abandonment, but turned out to be different than we he had believed his whole life.  Once each character was able to truly move past themselves, the romance played out great.  I’m looking forward to the next installment in Heritage.

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

The Time Collector

time collectorAuthor: Gwendolyn Womack

Publisher: Picador

Release Date: April 16, 2019

Rating: 4 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

Great story interweaving science fiction and history

Roan West has made a very comfortable living as an antique collector. He has an unfair advantage as a psychometrist, which means he can sense the past imprint by touching an object.  He has been able to find many valuable artifacts throughout his life, but he has also found that touching something that spans too many years might kill him.  His friend Stuart introduced him to a group of psychometrists that have been looking into artifacts that seem to have been misplaced through time known as ooparts.  Its strange that a ring appears in a cretaceous rock.  When part of the group begins working on solving the mystery, one ends up missing and another dead.  When Stuart doesn’t show up to a rendezvous with Roan, he knows something is amiss.  On the flight back to New Orleans, he discovers that a young woman named Melicent Tilpin has just used her gift in front of the world on Antiques Roadshow.  When it appears she might become a target, Roan decides he must help her and find his friend Stuart as well.

This was a really interesting read that wove several different parts of history into a common thread. Having the ability to sense the past by touching an object would be really cool, but could also be deadly as shown time and again in this book.  My favorite part was the stories that were shared by touching the objects as a first person account.  I also really enjoyed getting to see Roan and Melicent’s relationship bud as the story grew.  I think my only drawback to the story was the way it wrapped up.  For 300 pages there is such tension and excitement as the plot builds and the characters develop and then it just kind of finishes out over the last 50 pages.  I would love to see this story expanded upon.  I’m not a big fan of stories that have too much fluff, but this one was just building it up and could have kept it going.  Hopefully there is a sequel coming up that will help explain the overall mystery of the oopart.

There is some occasional harsh language as well as an implied sex scene, but nothing graphic.

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

Carry Me Away

Carry Me AwayAuthor: Dorothy Adamek

Series: Blue Wren Shallows #2

Publisher: Crabapple Press

Release Date: November 5, 2019

Rating: 4 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

Unlikely circumstances result in an unlikely romance.

Ada Carmichael has just lost her entire family in a shipwreck. The Black Swallow has sunk of the coast of Australia and Ada herself would have been a causality had it not been for the heroic action of midshipman Tom Darley.  As the two only survivors of the catastrophe, the media begins to go crazy.  Ada desperately needs to stay hidden before her past comes back to haunt her, but Tom could really use this publicity to make his dream come true.  When Tom’s plan to protect Ada go awry, it will take both of them to find redemption.

This is my first book by Adamek and she has a unique gift to bring a story setting to life. It takes a lot of talent to transport readers not only to a different time setting but an entirely different continent.  It is easy to see that she is a native of Australia as her descriptive scenery was bar none.  I felt as though I stood alongside the characters as I viewed the settings of the mainland and the island farms.  The romance felt natural and didn’t seem forced.  The characters fleshed out beautifully, flaws and all.  This is the second in a series but easily a standalone.  I recommend this to readers who love historical romances.

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

If Only I Could Tell You

If only I could tell youAuthor: Hannah Beckerman

Publisher: William Morrow

Release Date: October 15, 2019

Rating: 4 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

When is a lie better than the truth? Secrets come back to haunt in this chilling tale that will leave readers guessing as to who really knew what and the damage caused when we assume we know what happened.

Audrey always dreamed and wished for her daughters to grow up and be best friends to each other. Unfortunately as they grew up, a secret tore them apart and as adults now they no longer speak to each other and refuse to let their own daughters have anything to do with one another. Audrey has watched her family come undone over the last few decades and as her time on this earth is coming to a close, she wonders if there is any way to make her family whole again. What she doesn’t realize, is a secret from three decades ago is the root cause of the problem and confronting the truth might be the hardest thing any of them have ever had to do.

I wasn’t really sure what to expect when I picked up this book. What I got was an engaging story with a tight plot and tension in all the right places to keep the story flowing beautifully. The back and forth point of views between Audrey, Jess, and Lily combined with the timelines helped encompass the whole story and kept me from feeling lost at times. I really enjoyed the setting even though none of it was familiar to me; everything was written in a way that helped me be able to picture the houses, and office buildings and each different place the characters found themselves. Hannah Beckerman did an outstanding job of weaving the different layers of time and points of view together to craft a story that kept me guessing as to what the final outcome would be right up to the very last pages. Each character had a special message to bring to the story and I don’t believe it could have been told any differently than it was. A few of the storylines could have been cut without affecting the story, Audrey and her outings with her granddaughters seemed at little monotonous and didn’t add to the story, but that is one of my only negatives about the book. Overall it was a very enjoyable read and one I would recommend to readers that like a story that will keep them guessing with intriguing characters and real scenarios they might find themselves in.

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

The Words Between Us

The Words between usAuthor: Erin Bartels

Publisher: Revell

Release Date: September 3, 2019

Rating: 4 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

A story of learning to trust.

Fourteen year old, Robin Windsor, finds herself living with her estranged grandmother in Sussex, Michigan, after her parents are arrested for unthinkable crimes, leaving Robin feeling lost and abandoned.  She soon meets Peter Flynt, who recently lost his mother.  Peter and Robin develop a unique friendship.  Through a shared love of books, they bond, as he gives her his mother’s books and she repays him with her poetry.  After a series of unfortunate events, including her grandmother’s death,  Robin feels betrayed by Peter and runs away.  After returning to Sussex years later, Robin opens a used bookstore and tries to recreate her life, while still hiding her true self, ashamed of her past.  She reconnects with a high school friend who encourages her to stretch out of her comfort zone, and maybe even attempt to have a romance.  Robin begins receiving packages in the mail containing Peter’s mother’s book collection, which she returned after her grandmother’s death.  She knows that Peter is reaching out to her.  Also, Robin begins to uncover the truth about her parents’ crimes, which she isn’t sure what to do with.  As she searches for truth, she reconciles her past with her future. In the end, Robin discovers that the truth is powerful and that there are good people in the world that she can trust.

This book switches back and forth between grown Robin and a youthful Robin, allowing the reader to see and understand her past and how it has created the person she is today.

I have mixed emotions after finishing this book.  I feel like the beginning was a series of negative events, with no redemption, or bright places for Robin.  She is a tragic character, like she reads about in her books.  Peter tries to draw her out, but it lacks a lightness, which didn’t inspire me to become enthralled in the book.  She kept her guard up through much of the book.  The second half was lighter and good things begin to happen to Robin, despite her efforts to hide and be invisible.  Even though so many parts of Robin’s life are tragic and she suffers many losses, she overcomes, and is able to reconcile many of the hurts caused by her parents.  She is able to regain trust in people.  I feel like this book, like Robin in her youth, lacked an emotional depth that would have made it better.  I liked seeing Robin both in her youth and as an adult, striving to overcome.  I like that this book ends with the idea that Robin will have her “happily ever after” allowing her to let go of the heartbreaks of her youth and start again. I would recommend this book to anyone who loves the beauty of a book or who loves a happy ending.

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

Wyatt

wyattAuthor: Susan May Warren

Series: Montana Marshalls #4

Publisher: SDG Publishing

Release Date: October 12, 2019

Rating: 5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

The fourth book in the Montana Marshalls series brings the action to a whole new level with threats crossing borders and relationships at an all-time high making this a must read by Susan May Warren

Wyatt Marshall has always felt like the outcast of the Marshall family. He never wanted to work on the family ranch or be a Ranger or SEAL like his brothers. Instead, hockey was his passion and he followed it all the way to the NHL. He is the most famous of his family and should be on top of the world but his life is missing something. He lost the only woman he has ever truly loved. Coco Stanley came to live with his family when she was fourteen and the two had a short relationship before she left to return to her home country of Russia. When Wyatt finds out Coco has been shot in Russia he lets nothing stop him from finding her and proving to her that he has never stopped loving her. Coco has never forgotten the time she spent at the Marshall ranch and the connection she had with everyone there, especially Wyatt. Is she ready to let herself love again after all this time?

Wyatt is a wonderful continuation of the Montana Marshall series. I love the way Susan May Warren has crafted this family comprised of strong, tough, and uniquely skilled individuals that all have their own talents and bring those talents together to help each other and the ones they love. Book three in the series wasn’t my favorite, so going into this installment I was a little hesitant I would enjoy it as much. I didn’t have to worry long, the pace was spectacular, the romance only fueled the tension, and suspense was spot on. Wyatt pulled at my heartstrings the way he wanted to be liked and respected but had a hard time believing he was worthy enough, something we all struggle with at one time or another. With the action taking place in Russia as well as back in the U.S., there was a lot to follow at times but Warren does a great job taking the reader along for the ride in whichever country readers find themselves. I loved the theme of redemption throughout and the calling for us to come to our Father and he will welcome us with open arms no matter how far we have strayed. Fans of Warren’s and this series will love the tie in of all the other characters and the way we get to see Wyatt’s story unfold. There is also a nice set up for the final book with a focus on Ruby Jane, which I for one can’t wait to see a female Marshall take the lead and teach the boys a thing or two. I recommend this to readers that love a great romantic suspense novel, even if you haven’t read any of Susan May Warren’s books before give this one a go and enjoy. I would recommend reading the other in the series first for readers to get a good feel for the backstory of the characters.

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