What Happens Next

Author: Christina Suzann Nelson

Publisher: Bethany House

Release Date: January 17, 2023

Rating: 4 out of 5.

A little different that what I’ve come to expect from Nelson, but I like it!

Recently divorced Faith Byrne has taken her past career as an investigative reporter and shifted to performing a podcast that focus on redemptive stories of people who have experience traumatic events.  When her ex-husband gets permission to take their two daughters to Hawaii for the entire summer, Faith isn’t sure what to do with herself until she receives an unexpected letter from one of her childhood friend’s sister.  Faith had always wondered what she had done for her summer of 1987 friend to never respond to her letters, but she finds out that she went missing after school started that year, but her family never told her.  Heather’s sister, Brooke, solicits Faith’s help on her podcast to bring her missing sister’s story to light so that her family might finally find closure.  But as Faith digs into the story, what she finds is anything that she expected.

I love Christina Suzann Nelson’s contemporary stories and look forward to her newest book every year.  This one was a little different than anything she has written in the past, but I loved it!  It was interesting to see how everything played out and if the reader could follow the clues to discover the truth before Faith did.  Nelson did a great job of balancing mystery and intrigue with hope and healing for Heather’s family.  Showing how grief support groups can help families heal and not store grief for years is something that needs to be shown more throughout our society.  If you love a good mystery, this will be a good story for you to pick up on!

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

The Final Gambit

Author: Jennifer Lynn Barnes

Series: Inheritance Games #3

Publisher: Little Brown

Release Date: August 30, 2022

Rating: 4 out of 5.

The final book in The Inheritance Games series is good but not quite as good as the first two. A fantastic addition to one of my new favorite series.

Avery Kylie Grambs only has to survive a few more weeks living at the Hawthorne mansion in order to inherit billions. She has survived several attempts on her life and those she loves being targets as well. After a rough start, Avery has finally connected with the Hawthorne brothers and feels at home at Hawthorne House. As the day of her inheriting more money than any teenager has ever had approaches, more trouble pops up as a stranger arrives at the house in need of help. With each passing day, the danger increases, and Avery comes closer to losing all she is about to gain.

This book was really good; the problem was it followed the second in the series which was fantastic. The Hawthorne Legacy was so amazing that anything that followed it had zero to little chance of being anywhere close to as good. There isn’t much I can pinpoint that I didn’t care for in this book but nothing stood out as making it extraordinary. I thought the relationships were just a little dulled and the tension didn’t pull me in as much as the last. It is a great addition to the series and the ending is left open for more to come which is great fun for me as I loved the intricate nature of this series. The way that little moments from the beginning were brought full circle by the end of this book brought a smile to my face and showed me that Jennifer Lynn Barnes is an author that knows what she is doing. I would recommend this book to anyone that has read the first two in the series and wants to see what comes next.

The Hawthorne Legacy

Author: Jennifer Lynn Barnes

Series: Inheritance Games #2

Publisher: Little Brown

Release Date: August 2, 2022

Rating: 5 out of 5.

It’s not often a second book in a series is better than the first, especially when the first was amazing! The Hawthorne Legacy is a fantastic addition to The Inheritance Games.

After the bombshell ending of The Inheritance Games, Avery Grambs is ready to pick up the pieces and find the man everyone thinks is dead, Tobias Hawthorne the second. DNA tests have been run that show she is not related to the Hawthorne family but now she and two of the Hawthorne grandsons are on the hunt to figure out the clues left by their grandfather. Avery continues to be threatened and those that want what has been left to Avery are ready to do whatever it takes to get her out of the picture.

I can’t remember the last time I read a book that the second in the series was better than the first, and I loved the first in the series. The tension in this book was more intense and pulled me in tighter making me unable to put the book down and I read this in a single day. The story was intriguing and made me want to keep turning the pages. Avery is a special kind of protagonist: relatable, witty, and not afraid to play the games with the boys. There wasn’t much at all that I didn’t like about this book including the dangerous situations she found herself in, the mystery, and settings all had me pulled deep into the story. I love a book like this that is hard to put down and keeps me from wanting to do anything else. I recommend this book to readers that enjoy mystery and action, but make sure to read the first in the series before starting this one.

The Inheritance Games

Author: Jennifer Lynn Barnes

Series: Inheritance Games #1

Publisher: Little Brown

Release Date: July 27, 2021

Rating: 5 out of 5.

I am kicking myself for not reading this sooner!  Such a fun and engaging book; I can’t wait to read the rest of the series!

Avery Grambs wants nothing more than to survive high school, get a scholarship to collage and leave. She lives with her sister after her mother died and her father wants nothing to do with them. All that changes when Avery finds out she is suddenly a billionaire when Tobias Hawthorne died and left his entire fortune to her. The problem is Avery has no idea who Tobias Hawthorne is. To claim the money, she must move into the Hawthorne mansion and live for a year with the rest of the Hawthorne family. Tobias had four grandsons who are as equally smart and have a love for puzzles just like their grandfather did. All the Hawthorne men believe Avery is up to something to get their money and Avery is going to have to play along with the game that Tobias set up to survive the craziness that is her life now.

I had heard about The Inheritance Games a good bit over the last year and knew it was one I wanted to read. This book was so much fun to read; I read it in less than two days. The way the writing was done with short chapters and lots of cliff hangers made it hard to put down. I loved all the action, mystery drama and fantastic storyline. Avery is a wonderful protagonist with a storyline that makes her relatable and fun to read about; all her actions seemed exactly like the character would act and never once made me question her actions, or any of the other characters for that matter. This series makes me think of The Hunger Games and Divergent, those types of books are some of my favorites and make me enjoy reading. I ended last year in a bit of a slump not enjoying any of the books I had been reading. Being able to start the year of with a series like this is reminding me of the joy I get from reading and escaping into a great story. I recommend this book to readers that enjoy a fun mystery that is action packed and full of great characters and a fun start to what is shaping up to be a great series.

Treasure State

Author: C.J. Box

Series: Cassie Dewell Novel #6

Publisher: Minotaur Books

Release Date: September 27, 2022

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Took a little bit to get going, but once the story picked up steam, it never slowed down!

Cassie Dewell has been working as a private investigator and loves what she does. Her newest case has her on the hunt for a missing private investigator and a con man who could be behind his disappearance as well as stealing fortunes from several women. As she is looking into this case. she is contacted by a man claiming to be the mastermind behind a treasure hunt that has already cost five people their lives. Cassie finds herself in Anaconda, Montana with clues to who could be behind all she is investigating. Each clue brings about another strange twist in the case and Cassie finds herself in danger before all is solved hoping she can make it home and help find a treasure.

I didn’t realize this was the sixth book in the Cassie Dewell series when I started it. Even though I hadn’t read the others, I was still able to really enjoy this story. The start of the book was a little slow but once it got going, I couldn’t put it down. The story was fun and intriguing with the double mystery Cassie was investigating. I loved how all the pieces came together by the end, it all played out just perfectly and left me feeling great about the story and the way Box set it all up. Now that I’ve read this one, I am eager to go back and read the others in the series. Cassie is a great protagonist with a set of skills that helps her in solving her cases, she has enough flaws to make her a believable character though. This was a fun mystery without the fluff or other aspects that can make a book boring and hard to get through. I recommend this one to readers that enjoy suspense, mysteries, and a great fun setting.

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

Dark Fall

Authors: Brian Andrews & Jeffrey Wilson

Series: The Shepherd Series #3

Publisher: Tyndale House

Release Date: November 8, 2022

Rating: 5 out of 5.

The powerhouse duo of Brian Andrews and Jeffrey Wilson have done it again with Dark Fall! One of the most action-packed, adrenaline laced thrillers I have read this year.

The Shepherds are called in on a mission after a village in Peru is found in ashes leading them to question if it is from a human weapon or some higher power. Jedidiah Johnson is the leader of the group and as they head to investigate rumors of a new energy-based weapon, tensions mount as the weapon is unlike anything any of them have ever dealt with. The team heads to Hong Kong to try and find a scientist that helped create the weapon but what they learn from Dr. Zhao is that things are worse than they imagined.

Dark Fall is the third book in The Shepherd Series book and each time I pick one of these books up I shouldn’t be surprised by how amazing they are but am always blown away by the writing of Andrews and Wilson. The way these two come together to write these military thrillers keep me on the edge of my seat and up way past my bedtime. Jedidiah Johnson is the perfect protagonist to lead these stories. In a way he reminds me of Hondo from SWAT, or Gibbs from NCIS; a great leader and all-around fantastic character.

Each book in the series has proven to get better and better with more explosive plots, characters that pull at the heartstrings and so much more. This story had all the right points and the best tension I have read in a very long time with none of the normal drudgery that so many books have included lately. There was not a scene or chapter that didn’t feel right or pulled me out of the story. This is a very different kind of book than a lot out right now and I love the feel of the unknown coming from what is written within these pages. I recommend this book for fans of fast action, military, and supernatural thrillers. I do also recommend reading the whole series to get the most out of the story.

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

The Premonition at Withers Farm

Author: Jaime Jo Wright

Publisher: Bethany House

Release Date: October 11, 2022

Rating: 5 out of 5.

What’s better than a new Jaime Jo Wright book? How about a new mystery releasing right before Halloween!!!

Perliett Van Hilton is a healer; it’s 1910 in Michigan and her healing practices leave the local doctor frustrated. She has grown up in an unconventional household with her mother working as a spiritualist. Perliett ends up the target of a superstitious killer and to avoid the killer she must seek help from the local doctor who doesn’t care for her and a newcomer to town. Jump to Present day, the life of Molly Wasziak is anything but the life she dreamed it would be. She has had several miscarriages leading her down a spiral of depression when her husband buys an old farmhouse. Here she finds clues to a very old murder and as she digs deeper, mysterious things around the house make it even more ominous as she finds a purpose for her life once again.

Wow, wow, wow! Jaime Jo Wright has outdone herself. Every time I pick up one of her books, I know I am in for a fantastic read and this newest one releasing right before Halloween gives all the chills and thrills. Each new book always proves me wrong in thinking she can’t top the last one; somehow, they get better and better. The feel of this one hit me hard, Molly was such a fantastic character and once she was at the farmhouse, the story enveloped me in such a tight hold there was no way I was getting out of it. I sat down and devoured this book in a weekend, had I not had responsibilities like taking care of my two children, it probably would have been read in a single sitting. There are a lot of authors out there that are just mediocre, the more I read the more I realize this and have gotten to the point of being disappointed more often than not when picking up a book to read lately. This book and this author will not disappoint you! Grab her books, any of them, and escape into the wonderful world of fiction and suspense that is a glorious getaway from the world we live in. I foresee this being one of my top books of the year!

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

The Blue Diamond

Author: Leonard Goldberg

Series: The Daughter of Sherlock Holmes #6

Publisher: Minotaur

Release Date: June 14, 2022

Rating: 5 out of 5.

The Daughter of Sherlock Holmes is back with her toughest case yet! 

Two premier hotels in London had valuable items stolen out of one of the guest rooms over the past two nights, prompting hotel owners to request for added protection from Scotland Yard.  But it is not until a third hotel has an item stolen that Joanna Watson, her husband, and father-in-law are solicited for their assistance.  The Governor-General of South Africa is in London to visit the crown and has brought with him the famous Blue Diamond that was discovered as a gift.  But even with the entire penthouse suite provided to the security entourage, the thief has somehow managed to break-in and make out with the diamond without anyone being aware. 

As the Watsons go about observing to discover all the facts, another break in is committed at the same hotel.  This time to a French Diplomat whose wife’s necklace and bracelet were stolen as well as his briefcase which contained a most important document that could be used to turn the war into England’s favor against Germany.  With national secrets on the line, the Watsons must act quickly before the Germans can discover the military’s plans, but someone is willing to kill the Watsons to move the plan forward.  Will they be able to stop them?  Or is it the end of the line to the daughter of Sherlock Holmes?

This is one of those series that I can’t wait for the next installment every year!  It always winds up on my “best of” list and the “looking forward to” list!  The mysteries are always so intertwined that my brain keeps turning throughout the whole book trying to keep with Joanna and figure out who is the culprit.  Just when I think I have it figured out, Goldberg throws in a curveball to keep me guessing right up till the end with Joanna reveals it all.  I’ve read all the Daughter of Sherlock Holmes series and have enjoyed each one.  They can be read as a standalone or you can enjoy them one at a time throughout the series.  There is some character growth throughout each book and I love seeing several repeat characters throughout each story and how they grow as well.  Just a great mystery that all will love!

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

The Souls of Lost Lake

Author: Jaime Jo Wright

Publisher: Bethany House

Release Date: April 5, 2022

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Wow! Wow! Wow! Jaime Jo Wright has outdone herself! The Souls of Lost Lake pulled me in deeper than the waters of Lost Lake with a magnificent story that will stay with me long after the last page.

Wren Blythe has a complicated life. She lives with her father, working ministry at a youth camp in the Northwoods of Wisconsin. She joins in the search for a little girl who has gone missing in the area causing rumors of decades old murderess, Ava Coons, could be involved. In the 1930s, Ava Coons comes out of the woods carrying an ax and covered in blood. Her family’s cabin is found burned to the ground with blood around the ground but no sight of any of her family. At thirteen years old, Ava doesn’t remember what happened to her family and the townspeople blame her for their deaths. Years pass before another murder hits the town and Ava is the prime suspect. Decades separate Ava and Wrene, but there is a wickedness in town that will bring them together to save the lives of those they love.

Jaime Jo Wright is fast becoming one of my favorite authors. I was slow to pick up her books because she writes part of her stories in the past and historical fiction has not been one of my top go to genres. But when you write in the way Jamie Jo Wright does, it doesn’t really matter if it is past, present, or future; the story is so good it takes time out of the equation and puts the reader deep within the story. I am finding with each of her books that I read it is better than the last and The Souls of Lost Lake is no exception. Both the past and the present timelines are so intriguing with characters readers will have no choice but to fall in love with and want to desperately find out how their story turns out. I have never enjoyed historical stories much, just hard for me to get into and relate to the characters, but here I have fallen in love with even the secondary characters and can’t wait to turn the pages and see what happens. I started this one while in a reading slump, not even wanting to read for a few weeks, which is very unusual for me, but this book turned me around and I flew through the pages devouring the story within. I highly recommend this book to anyone looking for a great mystery that will be hard to put down and accomplish anything else. One of the rare books I wish I could give more than five stars.

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

Fires of Edo

Author: Susan Spann

Series: Shinobi Mystery #8

Publisher: Seventh Street Books

Release Date: February 15, 2022

Rating: 5 out of 5.

After almost three years, Hiro Hattori and Father Mateo have returned for another mystery!

Upon arriving in Edo to fulfill their task of alerting Iga operatives that they may be in danger of Lord Oda’s uprising, Hiro and Father Mateo get caught up in the fire brigade’s rush to extinguish a burning building before it can spread to other structures.  Head of the fire brigade is no other than Hiro’s childhood nemesis from Iga, but he must put feelings aside to warm him of the possible danger.  When the remains of a samurai are discovered in the fire, all attention is put on the shop owner who is responsible for the damage and the death.  As the penalty in Edo for a negligent fire is death, Father Mateo and Hiro agree to investigate and determine the true cause of the fire to hopefully spare an innocent man’s life.

I have loved this entire series and this installment is no different.  What makes these stories so great is the banter between the two main characters.  It’s just comical and makes the story move along so well, but the mysteries are always intriguing to keep the reader trying to guess at what the truth is.  With colorful supporting characters as always, Spann does a great job introducing new friends as you lose some along the way.  The ending made me feel like this could be the end for the series, but I sure hope not.  I’ve waited three years just for this one and I hope she manages to pen one or two more before it’s officially over.