The 49th Mystic

49th mysticAuthor: Ted Dekker

Series: Beyond the Circle #1

Publisher: Revell

Release Date: May 15, 2018

Rating: 5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

Fans of Dekker can rejoice as he brings us back into the circle and the world we grew to love with Thomas Hunter. A book well worth the wait and meant to be enjoyed by all that call themselves part of The Circle.

Many years ago, a gateway to another world was opened with Thomas Hunter. His death was supposed to sever that gateway for good. For years, no one crossed over until Rachelle Matthews from Eden, Utah crossed that gateway.  Rachelle has always been blind, but when she attempts a procedure to restore her sight she begins waking up in another reality and finds herself wondering which reality is real and which is a dream.  In the new reality, she wakes up with her sight and abilities beyond her wildest dreams.  There is an ancient prophecy that says she must find and recover five ancient seals that will have serious effects on both worlds.  Her success will mean peace for all or keep both worlds locked in darkness forever.

Anyone that has read Ted Dekker knows that his writing is like no other. He isn’t afraid to dive deeper than most with his stories and take you on an adventure you will never forget.  Fans of Dekker will without a doubt be familiar with his circle series and eager to pick up The 49th Mystic to see where the story continues.  I will say that if you haven’t read any of The Circle series, this book might be a little hard to understand at times.  Readers can still enjoy the story but the backstory from the previous books will be beneficial.  With all that being said, it is a wonderful story that I, along with others I’m sure, have waited years for.  Even though this is a continuation of the circle series, in a way it is its own story, something that makes it perfect for new readers of Dekker.

Written with characters that are tough but also relatable, The 49th Mystic has everything readers will want.  There is a depth to the characters along with the storyline that will pull readers in and keep them until the very last page.  I decided to take my time reading and really engross myself in the story, Dekker’s writing requires close attention so that the reader can see different connections throughout the book.  Each chapter and each page contains minute details that drive the story forward and are not to be missed.  Each character is vital and every word the characters say and action they take will lead to where the story is going to take you here and in volume two.  It is almost cruel to make us wait even the few short months for the next one, but wait we will. Be ready to Dive Deep once more.  I recommend this book highly to fans of Dekker’s previous novels and even to newcomers of his work with an open mind to enjoy a new story unlike any they have ever encountered.

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

The Golden Vial

The Golden VialAuthor: Thomas Locke

Series: Legends of the Realm #3

Publisher: Revell

Release Date: March 20, 2018

Rating: 5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

The battle for the realm continues brining in some new characters to freshen up the story.

Darkness has settled over the Three Valleys area, cutting off the towns from the outside world. Little by little the darkness squeezes the area in closer.  The townspeople have started to ignore the threat and accepted that it was always this way.  There is one that has not.  Dally’s entire family was killed by the dark force and she was left orphaned and taken in by the town mayor.  She hasn’t gotten along well with people, but she has always had the ability to talk with the mayor’s dogs.  When Lady Shona arrives to combat the evil forces, she request the presence of Dally and her ability.  It is also discovered the Dally has the power of a great mage, but has never been taught.  She joins Lady Shona’s band of faithful followers on her quest to save the realm, with hopes to save Hyam as well.

This series has been my favorite fantasy series in quite some time and I have been looking forward to this book for well over two years. It went in a different direction than what I expected, but it is a transition novel to the next storyline.  Locke has done a really good job of weaving everything in the world together, which can be daunting when you have to create the world to begin with.  The descriptive nature of the scenery has continued so that it is easy to jump back into the realm at a moment’s notice.  The cast of characters continue to be a fun bunch to be around much of the time.  As the main character, Dally struggles with confidence much like Hyam did in the first book.  Given their similarities, I would not be surprised to find that they are related in some way in the future.

Undoubtedly, this series will not be for everyone; however, I recommend that you give it a try. Each book is serious, but has a lot of humor to keep it a little lighter.  This book is a great read for young adults and up.  If you haven’t read the first two, I recommended it as there is a lot of back story that needs to fill you in.

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

Reclaiming Shilo Snow

Reclaiming Shilo SnowAuthor: Mary Weber

Series: Shilo Snow #2

Publisher: Thomas Nelson

Release Date: March 6, 2018

Rating: 5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

The perfect book for those that are into the gaming world including what it could turn into in the future. A little darker than the first but oh so good!

Seventeen-year-old Sofi Snow is one of the world’s greatest hackers alive. She has left our world to go to the alien planet Delon to find her brother Shilo who everyone believes is dead. She knows that isn’t true, she can feel it.  With the help of Ambassador Miguel, they seek out the truth in finding her brother and also letting the people of Earth in on the secrets about the alien planet and what intentions it has for Earth.  However, this isn’t the first time she has been with the Delonese.  When she was younger, she and her brother were taken by them, but she has no memory of this time.  As the second installment in the Sofi Snow series, readers will see what is next for this brother and sister and how it will impact all of Earth and beyond.

Not all books in a series have to be read in order but this one most definitely does. If you haven’t read The Evaporation of Sofi Snow or don’t remember the story very well it will be difficult to connect to this one.  With that being said, if you have read it, get ready to pick up where it left off and see how the rest of the story unfolds.  The characters continue their journey and we seem them grow closer to each other as the story unfolds.  There is sacrifice and betrayal and all the things that make a good story great.  I loved how Weber continued with the multiple viewpoints to give readers a deeper sense of what was happening in the story instead of sticking with one POV and having to figure some of it out without really seeing it unfold.  There were times in the story that I felt confused and thought I needed to go back to clear something up but within a few pages it all seemed to work itself out for me.  Readers that love YA/Dystopian novels and have a passion for gaming will not want to miss this one.

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

Shattered Minds

Shattered MindsAuthor: Laura Lam

Publisher: Tor

Release Date: June 20, 2017

Rating: 4 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

Techno thriller, Scifi, Steampunk, and high paced twists and turns that will make the pages fly!

Being one of the best biohackers in Pacifica lead Carina to work for Sudice, a cutting edge company that experimented on brains. After the company took things too far, she decided it was too disturbing when she found herself enjoying the pain she was inflicting on her patients. Once she thought about murder and she knew things were going too far. She quit the company and started taking the drug they had been administering to their patients that put them in a dream world where they could carry out their fantasies without hurting anyone in the real world.  This drug, Zeal, helped her deal with these feelings as well as lead her to an old coworker who has been secretly working with a rebel group to take Sudice down.  Carina has to make a choice whether to follow this lead or leave it all behind.

Shattered Minds is the kind of novel you have to pay close attention to with the alternating point of views throughout.  That can be confusing at times but works for the benefit of the reader here, giving more to the story than if it had stayed with a single point of view.  There are moments of romance throughout but for the most part they are on the backburner for the action.  The techno talk can be intimidating at times making it hard to follow the story for someone who isn’t very technologically savvy.  I really am not sure what all to say about this book.  The concept is very different and yet very intriguing.  I would recommend this to fans of science fiction and dystopian novels with a techno futuristic feel to it.

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

The Defiant

The DefiantAuthor: Lesley Livingston

Series: Valiant #2

Publisher: Razorbill

Release Date: January 23, 2018

Rating: 5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

Girl power like none other! This book has everything you look for in an action packed female powerhouse of a story.

Fallon thought things would be different, better after becoming the Victorix and being the top female gladiator out there. And she was right, but not in the way she expected. She might have won Caesar’s love and admiration, but she also won the hate of his enemies and all those wanting to take her place.  Soon after winning, Fallon and her sister gladiators find themselves at war with another rival gladiator academy that want to take their place and put Fallon out of the competition for good.  Along with her life and those she cares for, Fallon faces the prospect of losing the man she is falling in love with, Roman Soldier Cai.  When the battle heats up and tensions rise, Fallon has to decide whom she can trust and those she finds trustworthy might be surprising.  With her sister in danger and a tribe of amazon warriors thrown in the mix, the battle is just beginning and the stakes are higher than ever.

This is one of those books that I have been anxiously waiting for since the last page of the first book, (and that was before I even knew there would be a second in the series). I loved everything about this book: the strong female leads, the action, the romance, the history, everything!  Fallon is just the right mix of a strong spirit and caring individual that you want to know her, be her friend, and see yourself as that character.  I loved the mix of action with seeing the girls having to find different ways of getting along in order to deal with the situations they are thrust into.  I love action books with strong female characters. However, that can also be a fine line to draw between the character being strong and not over the top. Fallon is definitely a leader and strong but I loved that she is shown with a few weaknesses making her relatable.  I also loved the way we got to see her and Sorcha interact a little more.  So many characters that even though they might have only had small parts made the story, it wouldn’t have developed into what it was without them.  Little bits of humor were sprinkled throughout keeping the story light and flowing at all time.

Livingston did an outstanding job with this sequel making it continue the story and add to it so beautifully the reader will be yearning for more. I’m not sure if there will be any more in the series. I can only hope there is because I would love to see more adventures from these characters.  I highly recommend this book to readers who love historical fiction with action packed scenes and characters they can route for till the bitter end.

A Brush with the Beast

A brush with the beastAuthor: Richard Sones

Publisher: Self-Published

Release Date: June 20, 2017

Rating: 3.5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

An epic battle between the ultimate good and evil spread across the globe and through the heart of humanity to show what could happen if we believe.

When Nick Gooseberry has tried every method available to rid himself of back pain, he turns to the only option he sees left, The Order, a secret society that promises him relief from pain and so much more. With the power of The Order behind him, Nick works his way up the ladder of success to ultimately rule the world.  In a small town in Texas, Sarah Johnson has been trying unsuccessfully to get away from her past.  She thinks her boss is trying to help her, instead he is setting her up to go back to prison. While back in prison, she turns to the Lord and finds a way to escape. She finds out she is pregnant and attracts the attention of the Beast who takes her away to the other side of the globe and now she has to survive an entirely new prison.  After watching the death of his parents, Fanak grows up to become a terrorist driven with a thirst for revenge and a plan to take down the United States. He thinks everything he is doing are his own thoughts without ever realizing he is at the mercy of the Beast like so many.

A Brush with the Beast is a book that had several things I enjoyed and several I didn’t.  It is not for a young audience, a little bit of mature language and other mature content. The story flips back and forth between several different viewpoints. Most of the time this doesn’t bother me but for some reason it didn’t work as well for me here. I enjoyed the storyline with Sarah but everything else left me wanting to get to the rest of her story.  While each story line was supposed to tie in and bring the story full circle, by the end I felt a good portion could have been shortened.  Not everything with Nick’s storyline added up either. Everything with Sarah was intriguing and I felt a good emotional connection to her and everything that was going on while in her point of view.  Overall it was still an enjoyable read. I recommend this for a mature audience wanting to read about end times and what might come.

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

Renegades

renegadesAuthor: Thomas Locke

Series: Recruits #2

Publisher: Revell

Release Date: November 7, 2017

Rating: 4 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

Another fantasy novel that is just out of this world!

Sean and Dillon Kirrel are twin brothers with special abilities. They can transmit their bodies between different worlds and also move their spirits without their bodies to talk to one another.  They have helped prevent an alien invasion, but now that the fun is over, they have to return to their own blend of monotony.  Sean must return to school to learn civic lessons for his future political career within the realm.  Dillon goes back to military training, but also finds this a little boring now without real action.  Top that off that both boys have recently broken up with their girlfriends and you’ve got some serious issues.  But when Dillion’s ex, Carey, contacts them after her cousin has been abducted to another realm, they realize this is just the thing they need.  That is until they both get arrested for an unsanctioned transit.  Will they be able to get themselves out of this one and save Carey’s cousin?

Back to the shape shifting worlds from the mind of Thomas Locke with some of our favorite characters introduced earlier this year. Just when you think things couldn’t get more different, Locke throws a wrench into the works and you find yourself amazed with the newness of the places you’ve already been.  Sean and Dillon are back and their typical teenage boy selves with some advances in powers.  I hated to see the relationships end, but what can you do?  And doesn’t Professor Kaviti just rub you the wrong way throughout the book?

I highly recommend reading the first book Recruits before jumping into this one so that you can get the full back story.  But for a fun sci-fi series, give this one a try.

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