The Greedy Three

Author: Karen Katchur

Publisher: Podlum Publishing

Release Date: February 28, 2023

Rating: 4 out of 5.

A dark and twisted tale of greed and how far some are willing to go for what they want.

Noah has worked hard to build his reputation as a respectable person to do business with, even if that business happens to involve buying and selling babies. His newest clients want a three-week-old baby and he has everything lined out when it all goes wrong.

Hester lives in a cabin in the woods and stays to herself after a restraining order placed against her keeps her from seeing her daughter and family. Hester only wants to help but her actions always seem to be seen the wrong way and she ends up in trouble. One night she hears a knock on her door and opens it to find a young girl holding a baby in need of help. She takes the girl in and tries to help, but it isn’t long before Noah shows up looking for them and money taken from him. Between the three of them things turn tense quickly and no one will emerge unharmed.

This book was not what I expected, but in a good way. After finishing a book that was just so-so, I enjoyed this book more than I expected. The tension throughout was well done and the characters kept me engaged. Hester was the most well written in my opinion, she had gone through a lot, but it was obvious she was just trying to do what she could to help, even if she went about it the wrong way. Each character was greedy in their own way, just like the title suggested. There was more to the story than simply implied at the beginning and I really loved the way that played out. There was some language and darker themes throughout that make it not good for anyone younger to read. I do recommend this book to those that enjoy suspense thrillers.

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

The Oasis King

Author: Mark David Pullen

Publisher: Morgan James Fiction

Release Date: February 28, 2023

Rating: 4 out of 5.

A cross between Narnia and Journey to the Center of the Earth (movie, not the book,) made for a great fantasy adventure book for young readers.

Dylan, Jack, and Tripp are cousins spending a week at their grandmother’s farm. As they are out exploring, they are transported away to the Valley of the Oasis, a land unlike anything they are used to. In this strange land, they find creatures extinct in their world, talking animals and Tripp’s father, Martin, who has been missing since before he was born. Martin and his dogs have been pursued by a Stranger with green skin and other odd features that seems to be from another time and place. As the boys stick close to Martin, they work together to try and find a way to get them all back home.

With elements of both Narnia and the Journey to the Center of the Earth movie, this book made for a fun adventure for younger readers. I would say this book was good, not great, but also not bad. For such a short fantasy novel, Pullen did a pretty good job of setting up this different world we find our characters in but left me with several questions about the world; how they actually ended up there, since the boys’ method was different than Martin and what is to come next. I understand his thought process of keeping it short to attract young hesitant readers but there was a lot left unanswered and several head scratching moments. I don’t want a fantasy book that is super hard to understand, but also need this new world to make sense which I felt was lacking here. This is the start of a series and I am looking forward to seeing what is coming next for these characters and hopefully seeing the Oasis world built up more and expanded in a way to make the story come together fully. I would recommend this to young readers that enjoy fantasy but don’t want a 500 page book that is full of words they won’t understand.

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

Bright and Deadly Things

Author: Lexie Elliott

Publisher: Berkley

Release Date: February 14, 2023

Rating: 4 out of 5.

A strange and twisted tale full of unexpected twists and turns from beginning to end!

Set in a remote mountaintop cabin in the French Alps, a group of scholars go to a retreat where things turn deadly. Emily is trying to find a place for herself after the death of her husband and the secrets revealed at the cabin. With each passing hour at the cabin. things start to feel off and Emily notices behavior changing in her and the others. When one member is found dead, every one is a suspect and Emily doesn’t know who she can trust anymore and who might be out to get her.

Bright and Deadly Things starts out with an interesting premise and readers will have to go into it with an open mind as it goes more from suspense thriller to a psychological thriller. The one thing it is for sure is a thriller; there are twists and turns all over the place and the plot plays out well. I had a little trouble connecting with the characters and wanting to make sure they all came out safe by the end. I just didn’t care that much which is never a good thing when reading a story and wanting/needing to connect with the characters and what they are going through. I would recommend this book to those that really enjoy psychological thrillers.

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

The Maid of Ballymacool

Author: Jennifer Deibel

Publisher: Revell

Release Date: February 21, 2023

Rating: 4 out of 5.

A clean wholesome read that fans of Christian Historical Romance will not want to miss!

Brianna Kelly has only every called Ballymacool Boarding School home. The only home she has ever known makes her very protective of it and the people there. The niece of a local man comes to the school to take care of her unruly behavior. One discovery leads to another making Brianna question her past and how it will all affect her future.

Historical Romance is a genre that can be a quick read with a very lighthearted air and while there isn’t much danger or high stakes moments there is plenty of tension to drive the story forward. The story that Deibel has crafted is fun and just what I needed for a lighthearted quick weekend read. Not a lot of fluff or anything that wasn’t worth reading in the story. While Historical fiction isn’t my favorite genre to read it is a great one to sit down if you are wanting a clean wholesome read. I would recommend this one to readers that enjoy historical Christian romance.

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

The Naturals

Author: Jennifer Lynn Barnes

Series: The Naturals #1

Publisher: Little Brown

Release Date: October 7, 2014

Rating: 5 out of 5.

The first book in The Naturals series is an absolute thrill ride of a mystery that is perfect for young adult readers looking for a fabulous mystery.

Cassie has always known she was good at being able to tell what people were thinking or going to say before they said anything, but never thought much of it until she is approached by someone in the FBI with an offer for a classified program perfect for her and her abilities. They have created a program for teenagers with abilities to crack cold cases and Cassie is their newest recruit. When Cassie arrives at the house with the other teens in the program, she quickly realizes there is more to the program than originally told to her. Bodies start to add up around them and Cassie is no longer feeling safe as the killers sets their sights on her.

The Naturals is the first book in the series by Jennifer Lynn Barnes and I picked it up after reading The Inheritance Games series by her and falling in love with her writing style. The mystery and the way it unfolded and all came together by the end was so satisfying and enjoyable to read. Cassie was a great protagonist and the love triangle between her and the others at the house was fun and kept the story flowing. This story reminded me a lot of Criminal Minds set more for the Young Adult readers without the horror and gore. Cassie had a lot to overcome throughout the novel but didn’t let anything keep her down or let those coming after her win. I would recommend this book to readers who love a great mystery with great characters and a plot that is fantastic. This book is left open perfect for the next in the series and I can’t wait to keep reading Barnes work.

Unbelievably Boring Bart

Author: James Patterson & Duane Swierczynski

Publisher: Little Brown

Release Date: September 3, 2018

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Another fun book for young readers that is the perfect mix of humor and adventure to keep readers turning the pages!

When Bartholomew Bean and his father move to a new town, he feels himself becoming invisible. He creates a game with invisible creatures that surround the school and town and the only way to see them is through a game on the phone. He likes staying invisible, and if the kids at school who have been playing the game find out he is the creator, he will become the most popular kid in school.

James Patterson has done it again with another great book for early readers. I love reading these books of his before handing them off to my son to read. For a while after reading Patterson’s adult novels, I got a little bored with his writing and felt like his writing was predictable; but for younger readers these are the perfect stories to get them excited about reading and books. This story is fun and entertaining with a great set of characters and fun storyline perfect for kids and adults to read together and have a bonding experience over reading, doesn’t get much better than that.

Micah’s Got Talent?

Author: Andy McGuire

Illustrator: Girish Manuel

Series: Micah’s Super Vlog #1

Publisher: JellTelly Press

Release Date: June 4, 2019

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Great series for young readers with a great message.

Micah is so excited when his school announced a talent show with the gaming systems has been wanting for a long time as the prize. Without even thinking about it, he signs up for the talent show without knowing what his talent is. For weeks he tries to come up with a talent that could win him the gaming system, but nothing comes to him. Micah struggles to find who he is and what he is good at in time!

Micah’s Got Talent was a super cute and quick read that young readers will easily fly through and enjoy. I read this one wondering if it would be a good fit for my little one to read and after I finished I quickly put it on his bookshelf for him to read next. This book has a great message of friendship and not giving up. I loved the way the author tied all of this in together to make the story just right.

The House on Foster Hill

Author: Jaime Jo Wright

Publisher: Bethany House

Release Date: November 21, 2017

Rating: 5 out of 5.

A creepy fantastic mystery that is classic Jaime Jo Wright!

Kaine Prescott has been working to get over her husband’s death; she has almost given up on getting the police to believe it wasn’t just an accident while moving across the country. She buys an old, abandoned house without visiting it in her grandparent’s hometown. Wanting a fresh start, she sets about trying to make the house into a home when eerie things start happening and the house’s past comes back to haunt her. With help from a few new friends, Kaine quickly finds there isn’t much she can do to avoid the past and is forced to face it head on. Almost a century earlier, Ivy Thorpe helped to find the identity a woman found dead on the property and try to solve a crime before anyone else gets hurt.

This is the debut novel by Jaime Jo Wright, and I didn’t realize I hadn’t read it until recently. I picked it up and loved every minute of the story. Jaime Jo Wright is a master of time-slip, mystery novels, she has a way of sucking readers in and not letting them catch a breath until the very end. I love picking up her books and knowing I am going to be fully immersed into a world of fiction that is entertaining, mysterious, and totally enjoyable. The way the two timelines tie together by the end is so well done, especially for a debut novel. The characters are engaging and relatable, even the romance aspect was played out perfectly scene-by-scene. This is the type of book that I recommend to readers that enjoy suspense, mystery, and a little bit of romance.

Daughter of Eden

Author: Jill Eileen Smith

Publisher: Revell

Release Date: February 14, 2023

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Historical Biblical fiction is not something easily written well, but Jill Eileen Smith is able to knock it out of the garden with Daughter of Eden.

Being one of the very first in the world can make for a hard time. When Eve first looks upon her Creator, she is nearly blinded. It is more than she can take as she is handed over to one like her but not. Adam is different from her but also the closest thing to herself in the garden they live in. Each day their Creator comes to be with them, and it is the moment she looks forward to each and every day. That is until Eve dooms them both with a single act that changes the world. What was once a friendly place is now a world without smiles and an unknown future out of Eden.

Daughter of Eden is one of the best well written historical biblical fiction novels I have read in a very long time. The way Smith writes about Eve and all that took place in a way not thought of before brought me to Eden and right along with Adam and Eve. The story of the garden of Eden is familiar to all, even if you haven’t read the bible, you know the story but maybe not in this way. It is not easy to take such a well-known story and characters and be able to make readers see them in such a different way. The great thing about fiction is it is able to do this. I recommend this book to anyone that wants a different view of how things went down in the Garden of Eden and see Eve in a different light.

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

My Life as a Smashed Burrito

Author: Bill Myers

Series: Incredible World of Wally McDoogle #1

Publisher: Thomas Nelson

Release Date: September 10, 2019

Rating: 5 out of 5.

The first book in the Wally McDoogle series is fun, adventurous, and a great start to a kids series!

Wally McDoogle is twelve years old and forced to go to church camp where he is up against a bully the likes he has never seen. Every step he takes puts him right in the crosshairs of this bully and everyone else at the camp puts Wally on a pedestal thinking he is the one to take down the bully for them all. Wally ends up learning a very valuable lesson that it is more important to love your enemies than hate one other.

This is the start of a fantastic series for young readers, it is fast, fun and purely entertaining that will keep reluctant readers engaged and ready to turn the pages. I love fun books for kids with a great message; this is one that parents can feel perfectly capable letting their kids read and not worry that there is any questionable material within the pages. So many books out now that are even marketed to kids have material that is questionable in it. I know that some of the material may not bother some people but for parents that want a good book for their kids to read without worrying about language or anything else, this is a great one for them to pick up and feel good about.