High Treason at the Grand Hotel

Author: Kelly Oliver

Series: Fiona Figg Mystery #2

Publisher: Level Best Books

Release Date: January 5, 2021

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Fiona Figg returns in another mystery that may be her last!

After the success of her first mystery in getting close with Frederick Fredericks, Fiona is again dispatched by Room 40 on another mission, this time to Paris.  At least this time she gets to be herself.  Upon arriving in Paris, she finds that her passport has been stolen but manages to get passed off as a Captain’s wife.  She then realizes that her contact is nowhere to be found and takes a room at the Grand Hotel where Frederick Fredericks is staying.  Even though she is supposed to be herself, she brings plenty of disguise with her and transforms herself into Harold the bell boy.  Now able to move throughout the hotel inner workings with ease, she finds roadblocks with the hotel staff, but manages to get on serving duty at a local party.  When she is discovered with a bloody knife over the body of a dead countess (yet again) she quickly finds out that her spying days may be over!

If you thought Betrayal at Ravenswick was a hoot, wait till you read High Treason at the Grand Hotel.  I wasn’t sure that Fiona could get herself into more trouble, but she proved me wrong.  This new cozy mystery was laced with misfortune, but she ultimately prevailed at a high price.  As with the first, there was still plenty of humor, but it took quite a bit of serious tone as the story went.  Fiona gets mixed up in a serial killer’s ring of murders, which she thankfully helps solve, but not before some of the characters meet their unfortunate fate.  She also witnesses a firing squad execution.  Again, this book has many historical characters from the time that make it worth the read and the research if you’re interested.

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

Betrayal at Ravenswick

Author: Kelly Oliver

Series: Fiona Figg Mystery #1

Publisher: Level Best Books

Release Date: March 10, 2020

Rating: 4 out of 5.

A new cozy mystery series has captured my attention!

Fiona Figg’s life has begun to crumble apart.  After four years of happy marriage, she decides to surprise her husband at work one day and finds him in the arms of another woman.  With little other course, she gets a divorce and decides to focus on her work in Room 40 at the War Office in London.  She wishes that she could get out of London to avoid running into her ex-husband and his new wife and she soon gets her wish.  She is offered the chance to retreat to Ravenswick Abbey to spy on a South African war correspondent named Frederick Fredericks.  After arriving at Ravenswick, she is quickly caught up in a domestic dispute that delves into the murder of a countess.  Fiona must maintain her cover and assist in the murder case to appease all parties.  Be careful what you wish for!

Sometimes you just need a cozy mystery to forget about your day and that is exactly what readers will find with Betrayal at Ravenswick.  This book was equal parts serious and humorous as Fiona bumbles around undercover as a male doctor.  It is easy to find an emotional connection with Fiona on her losses but also find yourself telling her that it’s not a good idea to go through with what she has planned.  It’s easy to become her friend as you read the story.  I’ve always enjoyed this genre and having in set during World War I was an even better reason to read it.  That book is based on some historical characters, so if you know much about Room 40, it makes it that much more fun to read.  This book is suited for an older audience, but I believe many will enjoy it.

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

The Art of Deception

Author: Leonard Goldberg

Series: Daughter of Sherlock Holmes #4

Publisher: Minotaur Books

Release Date: June 16, 2020

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

Yet another fantastic installment to the Daughter of Sherlock Holmes series!

To be visited by Scotland Yard to consult on a case is not out of the ordinary for the Watsons, but a case involving vandalism of fine art seems a bit low on the docket for them.  But as Joanna Watson knows, nothing is really as it seems until you truly observe.  As the Watsons visit the crime scenes, it becomes apparent that the vandal isn’t simply vandalizing the paintings, but the manner he is doing it shows that he is looking for something hidden behind the canvas.  As they begin to unravel the mystery, more than just art begins to arise, including murders.  Will they be able to determine who is behind the vandalism before he finds what he is looking for?

As always, Leonard Goldberg has crafted yet another thrilling tale for readers to devour and try to match wits with Joanna Watson, the daughter of Sherlock Holmes and Irene Adler.  These books are just good, clean reads and this was no exception.  I love that Goldberg has developed a new line of mysteries that readers are able to enjoy and try to see if they can figure out the culprits before Joanna does.  And true to form, there is usually an unexpected twist or two at the end that will keep your mind whirling to keep up!

Fractured Tide

Author: Leslie Lutz

Publisher: Blink YA Fiction

Release Date: May 5, 2020

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

Not at all what I expected, but in the best of ways! Leslie Lutz has crafted a fun, chilling and engaging tale that will leave readers glued to the edge of their seats.

After her father is sent to prison, Sia ends up helping her mother run their scuba diving tours business. Still a teenager, she has taken on more responsibility than most her age. Together they go out and explore the reef and find secrets in sunken crafts. On their latest dive things don’t go as planned, a mysterious creature emerges from the deep, their boat sinks and Sia washes up on the shore of a deserted island with even more mystery. When she finds the other survivors from the boat, it is the first good sign since they started out that morning. The island isn’t what it seems and Sia’s best hope for finding answers are at the center of the island where the most danger is also. With their last hope fading and Sia looking to save herself and the others, they make their way through the jungle to hopefully find a way off the island and back to their families.

This was unlike any book I have read in a long time. The science fiction element to it was interesting and kept the story flowing quickly and fluidly. Writing this from Sia’s diary was interesting and unique. For a little while I wasn’t sure what to think of all that Sia was being put through. Even at the end, I had to scratch my head at the way it all played out. Without giving anything away, I will say I am still satisfied with the ending even with the questions I have. That’s a rare combination, to be satisfied and still have questions, not something that happens often and only a very talented author can do that with their writing and please the reader. Sia’s relationship with each of the other characters is what made the story work. She is a great protagonist and the story wouldn’t be the same with anyone else in that role, but I really liked the interactions with Sia and Sarah, their relationship was real and genuine. There weren’t any fake niceties between the two of them and every aspect of why they acted the way they did towards each other made perfect sense with the story. I love when a story unfolds as it should and nothing feels forced.  I would recommend this book to readers that enjoy a well-crafted science fiction thriller that will give you goose bumps and knowing the next book you pick up won’t be near as good.  

Two Reasons to Run

Author: Colleen Coble

Series: Pelican Harbor #2

Publisher: Thomas Nelson

Release Date: September 8, 2020

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

With terrorism, a family’s safety at stake, and more suspense to keep you on the edge of your seat, Two Reasons to Run is a must read!

Police Chief Jane Hardy is still learning to live with the fact that she has found her son. Her father kept so many secrets from her and now her son’s father Reid is in her life whether she wants him to be or not. When she is approached by a local woman saying her son is missing, she starts looking into the disappearance and possible murder on the oil platform Zeus. Soon, she is in the middle of a terrorist plot to bring down the oil platform with the life of her son is now in jeopardy. Reid has been investigating the oil platform as well for a documentary and they together work to expose who is trying to bring the platform down and keep their son safe. Tensions fly as they get closer to catching a killer but also further from the safety for their family that they are trying so hard to bring back together.

Two Reasons to Run is the second installment in the Pelican Harbor series; normally books like these, romantic suspense series, don’t always have to be read in order. They might have some of the same characters but each one has a new set of protagonist male and female that we get to see work through their problems to try and be together. With this one though, I had read the previous book, but it had been a while and I felt like I needed to go back and reread it to fully get the story in front of me. The further I got in the story, the better I remembered what had been happening and was able to follow along. That said, this is not one for a new reader to pick up without knowing the back story of the characters. One of the best aspects of this story was the family relationship Jane had and the way it tugged at the emotions. When her son is threatened, especially since she had just gotten him back in her life, it took the stakes to a whole new level. This was a great sequel with so much more at stake for the characters that readers will have no problem making a personal connection and letting the story pull at their hearts as they turn the pages. I was able to read this one very quickly and really felt pulled into the story once it got going. The end was very satisfying but also left open enough for another in the series to follow. I recommend to readers that have read the first in the series and are ready for far more action, suspense and romance. 

Everywhere to Hide

Author: Siri Mitchell

Publisher: Thomas Nelson

Release Date: October 6, 2020

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

With a unique disability and witness to a crime, Whitney Garrison is the perfect protagonist in this top-notch new thriller!

Whitney Garrison has survived an abusive boyfriend, law school and growing up with a unique disorder, face blindness. She is working at a local coffee shop and tutoring kids to make enough money to survive until she passes the bar and gets a job at a high-end law firm. She has done all this on her own, not wanting to burden her father and let him know the mistakes she has made. One afternoon she inadvertently witnesses a murder; even though she saw the killer, she has no idea what the killer actually looks like. He could be right in front of her and she would have no idea.  He follows her every move and thinks she has information he is willing to kill for. Both the local detective, Leo Baroni, and the Feds get involved trying to keep Whitney safe and find their murderer.

Everywhere to Hide is a unique read that kept me guessing and on the edge of my seat, not an easy task with as many thrillers as I read. I loved Whitney for the protagonist in this story. She has gone through a tremendous amount in her short life so far, and even with her face blindness, she never plays the victim card. She finds a way to work around the problems she faces and learn and grow from the experiences. The face blindness was a new one for me, I have never read anything with that as an issue for one of the characters, it was unique and intriguing. Always wondering if Whitney was about to interact with the killer and not know it made the story that much more thrilling for me and kept me glued to the page. Leo was a great character to be there for her and the way Mitchell brought on the romance aspect of the story was just right for me. It was subtle but enough was there to make it believable and easy to follow. Little hints were dropped throughout that helped everything that happened by the end make total sense. This story is a fun blend of complicated mystery and fun thrill rides, the type of book that can be read in one sitting because you are so sucked into the story. I recommend this to readers that enjoy a fun, clean thriller that will keep them guessing and smiling with delight long after they turn the last page.

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

Soul Raging

Author: Ronie Kendig

Series: Book of Wars #3

Publisher: Bethany House

Release Date: November 3, 2020

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

In the final installment of The Book of the Wars, Ronie Kendig brings readers on a wild adventure across the globe as characters we have fallen in love with begin the final battle prophesied in the series.

Leif Metcalfe has had about all he can take without getting any answers to what has happened to him. He decides to take matters into his own hands; a calculated risk that comes at a high price. He must now join forces with the very enemy he swore to fight against. Those he cares about are at a loss to understand his actions and how to help him come back to them and the man they know him to be. Iskra Todorova is most worried about his soul and knows more than anyone that the course he is on is not one he can survive for long. With not only Leif’s life at stake, Iskra fights for the safety of her daughter and to take down the man behind it all, Ciro Veratti. With a heavy heart, the Reaper sets out to hunt one of their own and in the process start the final battle from the Book of the Wars.

Ronie Kendig is a master when it comes to writing a story with intense detail, action, suspense and so much more. There are some books I read that can be considered lighthearted and simply flow with little attention to detail. I read them but don’t have to pay very close attention to get the gist of the story and follow along. Others, like anything Ronie Kendig writes, need to be read with a fine-tooth comb in order to not miss the important details and all the subtle hints given throughout to connect the story by the end.

Going along with that is following the series in order, so much of what she writes connects with the other books in the series; these are not ones that can be read out of order or as a standalone, each one needs to be read in the order it was written in order to follow the characters and story line on their journey. For fans of her previous work, you will not want to miss this one. I loved this series and felt a deep connection with the characters. The way she writes characters with such dynamic personalities is like no other writer out there. This is a great conclusion to a fun action-packed series and readers will thoroughly enjoy this edition to what is one of the best reads of the year for me. I recommend this to readers that have read the previous in the series and enjoy military thrillers with drama, action, suspense and so much more. I received a complimentary copy of this title from the publisher.  The views and opinions expressed within are my own.

Hell and High Water

Author: Keenan Powell

Series: Maeve Malloy Mystery #3

Publisher: Level Best Books

Release Date: March 31, 2020

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

My first introduction to the Maeve Malloy series and I must say I am very intrigued with this character and what else is in store for her!

Maeve Malloy’s time being suspended from practicing law is complete, but she doesn’t know if she wants to go back to practicing. During this time, she takes a job working in the kitchen at a secluded lodge in the Alaskan wilderness. Within the first twenty-four hours of landing at Fox Island, a tourist is killed, and a wild bear has everyone trapped in the lodge. A storm is moving into the island and prevents the authorities from coming to help find the killer. Maeve is asked to help gather information and dives back into investigating mode. She uses her skills to find a killer before someone else ends up dead.

This was my first introduction to Maeve Malloy and this series. One of the best aspects of the book is even though it isn’t the first in the series, I was able to follow the story without feeling totally lost. Now, had I read the others, I might be saying you need to read them before reading this one, but I didn’t feel lost and was able to enjoy the story.

The beginning started a little slow but picked up and kept me intrigued with a few twists by the end I really enjoyed. Maeve is a fun, realistic character.  She is trying to decide what direction she needs to head in life and just when she thinks being a lawyer and investigating isn’t for her, she is thrown into an investigation that could ultimately save her life. I loved the fact that Maeve is portrayed as real, flawed, confused and trying to figure out where she needs to go next in life. That is real life, that is what we all go through and seeing this character trying to figure it all out was very well written.

Being secluded up in the Alaskan Wilderness was a great setting for this story, I was chilled to the bone with each new crisis the characters had to face. At first you see a very eclectic group of characters brought together, but as the story progresses it makes perfect sense why they are there and how it all came about. There are a few moments that seemed forced; Tom for one, but maybe if I had read the others in the series his actions wouldn’t have seemed out of place. I recommend this to fans that enjoy a good mystery with twists and turns up to the very end. A little bit of harsh language and mature content make it unsuitable for younger readers but that isn’t the intended audience either. I received a complimentary copy of this title from the publisher.  The views and opinions expressed within are my own.

The Haunting at Bonaventure Circus

Author: Jaime Jo Wright

Publisher: Bethany House

Release Date: September 1, 2020

Rating: 5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

In her newest release, Jaime Jo Wright will blow readers away with this thrilling, mysterious, and moving tale of brokenness, revenge, love and a yearning to belong. 

Split between 1928 and present day in the fictional town of Bluff River, Wisconsin. In 1928, readers meet Pippa Ripley, whose father is the owner of Bonaventure circus. Pippa was rejected from the circus as a baby and left on the doorstep of the owners who raised her as their own. Pippa receives mysterious packages and messages from someone called the Watchman, which lead her to look for clues to her birth. Pippa joins forces with a man trying to find answers to who murdered his sister and leads them both to evidence of a serial killer associated with the circus.  Fast forward to present day and the old circus is in jeopardy of being torn down. Chandler Faulk works for her uncle at his real estate firm and has been tasked with seeing if it is worth, preserving for history or tearing it down. She moves to the small town with her young son to dive into the history of the circus depot all while trying to balance living with her newly diagnosed autoimmune disease and being a single mother. As she researches, she finds clues to unsolved murders of the past and newer murders. The more she digs into the past, the darker things seem, and Chandler must determine if saving the depot is worth her safety.

Jaime Jo Wright has done it again! The Haunting at Bonaventure Circus is a stunning, thrilling tale that is hard to put down. Any time you pick up a book by Wright, you know you are going to be in for an adventure. It is hard to do a dual timeline and keep the reader engaged and not confused. The set up for this one does take a little bit longer but is worth it in the end. She developed such a great backstory for the characters that helped me connect with them on a deep level. Pippa and Chandler both have very different stories and each of them is unique but ties in by the end in such a beautiful way.  I loved the way Wright brought it all full circle. This book tackles a lot of tough issues, a character with a physical deformity and one with a chronic illness, not something that is written about enough these days considering how common it is becoming in our world. She does this in a way that doesn’t make the character seem weak, instead readers are able to see her as one of us and connect; if it were a character that had nothing wrong they would seem too perfect and be a turn off. I am thankful for the authors that tackle these difficult subjects in such a way that will leave readers thinking about it but not turned off either. If you have never picked up a Jaime Jo Wright book, I would say run, don’t walk, to your bookstore and grab a copy of this one today, you won’t regret it. Readers that enjoy stories full of mystery, adventure, a little romance and a whole lot of hope will not want to miss this one.

The Last Agent

Author: Robert Dugoni

Series: Charles Jenkins #2

Publisher: Thomas & Mercer

Release Date: September 22, 2020

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

The follow up to The Eighth Sister has Charles Jenkins sent back into the heart of Russia in more death-defying action that will leave readers on the edge of their seat and thirsting for more from this fantastic addition by Robert Dugoni!

After being tried for treason from his own country and found not guilty, Charles Jenkins has put the spy life behind him. That is until he learns that the one person most responsible for his safe return home now needs his help. Paulina Ponomayova,, who he thought sacrificed her life to ensure he returned home, is in the notorious Lefortovo Prison. Once Jenkins finds proof it really is her and she is alive, he sets out to return to Russia and contact the man who used to be his enemy and may now be his only ally in helping him find a way into the prison and save Paulina. Viktor Federov, a former Russion officer who led the search for Jenkins, may now be the only man he can trust. Together the two work to stay one step ahead of the authorities and get Paulina safely away without risking the lives of anyone else, or their own.

Robert Dugoni is a master storyteller. I don’t know of anyone else that could write a thriller set mostly in Russia and keep me intrigued. Usually not my kind of thing, a setting like that just doesn’t keep me engaged. Dugoni makes it more about the characters and finding that relationship instead of the setting. I was so deeply taken in by the characters and the mission Jenkins was on I forgot to care about anything else. While this is not my favorite by Dugoni, I did enjoy this second addition to this series. Charles is a good character, he’s a good guy and his drive to do what is right should inspire all readers to follow that path even though it might not be the easiest. He had to sacrifice a lot to follow his heart even after all he went through after his last visit to Russia.

One of my favorite things about reading a Robert Dugoni novel is it is so easy to do; the writing is so good it flows without interruption and unnecessary plot points that do nothing to drive the story forward. I did have a few moments that the excitement wasn’t as thrilling as the rest of the story. The story wraps up nicely but is also left open at the end for another Charles Jenkins novel to come our way and I, for one, will be putting it on my pre-order list. I would recommend it to readers that enjoy a great spy thriller with lots of twists and fast action. Even though it is the second in the series it could be read as a stand alone without the reader feeling too lost.

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