What Blooms From Dust

What Blooms From DustAuthor: James Markert

Publisher: Thomas Nelson

Release Date: June 26, 2018

Rating: 5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

Beautifully written, yet mysterious novel of the Oklahoma Dust Bowl.

Just as the electricity was jolting into Jeremiah Goodbye in the electric chair, a tornado struck the prison freeing him and giving him a second chance at life. Penned as the coin flip killer after being convicted of the death of four men, Jeremiah spent three years in prison awaiting his turn to die.  After being released, his Oklahoma no longer looks like it did when he went into prison.  With the flip of his coin, he decides to return to his hometown of Nowhere to settle a score with his twin brother Josiah.  On the way, he rescues a young boy, Peter, being sold to feed a family.  Peter tags along with Jeremiah to Nowhere where the dusters have ravaged the town and the spirits of the people.  When a huge duster that becomes known Black Sunday hits the town, people start to speak the truth in their hearts, however ugly it may be.  Before long, it’s up to Jeremiah and Peter to become unlikely saviors for the town that cast him out three years ago.

I wasn’t sure what to expect when I picked up this book, but I enjoyed every minute of it. I’m a huge fan of history of the dust bowl, which may be because I live in the Texas panhandle, so I always read up on it every chance I get.  This book was beautifully written and carried a great message to all readers on kindness.  The book description made me think that I would be reading more about a mystery, and it was mysterious, but not in the ways that I originally thought it would be.  I really enjoyed getting to see the goodness come out of the main character and how it spread through an unlikely boy to all of the townsfolk.  It would be easy to give away the secrets of this book, but I would rather have people read it and find them for themselves.

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

When Through Deep Waters

When through deep watersAuthor: Rachelle Dekker

Publisher: Tyndale House

Release Date: July 3, 2018

Rating: 5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

Tackling the difficult topics of grief and mental illness, Rachelle Dekker has written a book far removed from that of her first trilogy, but in all the right ways. Dekker has found her voice as a writer in a way I have been waiting for.

It’s hard to live your own life when you are always trying to please someone else. Alicen McCaffrey has the life her mother wants for her, but its not the life she wants.  With a wildly successful husband, California home, and a daughter she adores, things seem perfect, until it all falls apart.  Alicen feels completely responsible and hits rock bottom feeling she has nothing left to live for.  Almost everyone abandons her and she turns to the one person she has left, a childhood friend who takes her back to their childhood home in Red Lodge, Montana.  Memories of their good times spent together and her grandmother who lived there come flooding back.  However, the good times aren’t the only things that come back.  Alicen starts hearing voices and seeing things that aren’t there and she fears she is losing it completely just as her grandmother was rumored to have done.  Is any of it real?  Or is this going to be more than she can take?

The name Dekker for me always draws me to books by Rachelle’s father, wo is one of my all time favorite authors with stories like no one else writes. The first books Rachelle wrote reminded me all too well of her father’s writing which disappointed me, I was hoping for her own voice.  In When Through Deep Waters I finally saw that individual voice of hers coming out.  There was a moment or two she tried to put tie-ins to her father’s writing that could have been left out, but readers who haven’t read anything by him won’t even notice.  This story hit really close to home for me because I read it right after my son had been in an accident that could have been catastrophic; luckily it wasn’t, but the emotions were at a passionate high point anyway.  I felt a solid connection with the characters more than in any of her previous novels and could really see a growth in the writing.  A great deal of detail helped make the setting and the characters mesh in just the right way and brought the story to life.  I not only enjoyed Alicen as the main character, but also several of the secondary characters as well.  Labeling it as a thriller might be a stretch since that didn’t happen until close to the end; regardless, it is a book worth reading and keeping on the shelves for a long time.  I recommend this book to fans of both Dekkers’ and those that enjoy the writing of Tosca Lee and James Rubart.

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

Everything We Give

Everything We GiveAuthor: Kerry Lonsdale

Series: Everything We Keep #3

Publisher: Lake Union Publishing

Release Date: July 3, 2018

Rating: 5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

The thrilling and insightful conclusion to the Everything We Keep series!  Summer must read for sure!

Ian Collins is married to the woman of his dreams and a father to his beautiful young daughter. As an accomplished photographer, he has just completed a successful show of his work when he gets a call from National Geographic.  The magazine loves the images he did of the Rapa Das Bestas Festival in Spain, so much so that they want to send him and a writer back to Spain to get more images and a narrative for the magazine.  There is even a good chance that this could be his chance to land the cover image.  Everything is going great and he plans to celebrate with his wife Aimee.  Except he can’t find her and she isn’t answering her phone.  He finally finds her at a friend’s apartment and discovers that she has talked to James, her former fiancé who now lives in Hawaii.  She is really shaken up and having a hard time.  The next day, James comes to talk to Ian as well, which goes about as well as expected.  Ian realizes that they will probably never see James again and is shocked when he gets a card from James with the phone number for a woman he has been searching for that may have answers about his mother.  This brings to surface all of Ian’s abonnement issues that could further threaten his marriage.  Can Ian manage to save his marriage and finally get closure for his past?

First of all, thank you to Kerry Lonsdale for dedicating this book to her readers. This series has been phenomenal and keep me anxious for each character’s backstory. Everything We Give is no exception.  This book dives into Ian’s backstory, who had a substantial role in Everything We Keep and he fell in love with Aimee and was the right fit for her.  Now readers get to understand what makes Ian have some of the issues he does.  Young Ian’s mother had dissociative personality disorder, so she would shift between being people in her mind.  I’m not sure how anybody could cope with this, but Ian become her primary caretaker until an event that led to his mother being placed in prison.  He has carried this inside him for his whole life and never even opened up to Aimee, which becomes a bit of an issue to say the least.

I’ve always enjoyed the setting in California in an area that I know well, but shifting part of the story to Spain was amazing as well. Getting to read about a culture and events that I don’t know much about are always an added bonus.  This is a very anticipated summer read that I can’t recommend enough.  There are some minor cases of strong language and sensuality, but nothing too extreme.  Grab this book or the whole series and enjoy every bit of it!

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

The Armoire

The ArmoireAuthor: Ione Joy

Publisher: eLectico Publishing

Release Date: August 25, 2017

Rating: 5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

True purposes can be easily unlocked when seen, but greater are those who find their purpose through faith in the unseen!

All her life Maxine has been curious as to what was always hidden away in her grandmother’s armoire. She was always told it was for her when she would be ready.  After her grandmother passes away, she receives the armoire, but no key.  After a frantic search, she finally locates the key and opens the doors to discover a single beautiful feather.  Bewildered, she touches the feather only to come face to face with an angel named Abia.  Abia has been instructed to show Maxine several scenes that will help her understand her true potential.  Maxine is then whisked from scene to scene to witness heartbreaks, sadness, happiness, true joy, and unspeakable devastation.  These scenes are provided as a gift that shapes the remainder of Maxine’s life on this earth.

This was a fantastic book that easily fits in with Christian end times fiction, but not in the Left Behind sense.  This gives the main character, Maxine, an understanding of who she is meant to be, the purpose she was made for.  And when she tries to use the “after college” approach, it is said that Jesus will be coming back soon and there is no time to waste.  The bulk of the book is about Maxine’s life and how all the scenes that she witnessed with Abia become encounters in her own life.  She meets these people after these events have happened and understands what happened so that she can help them.  Even so, she still faces great tragedy and personal losses and tries to cope with them as best she can understand.

If you are looking for a great book to read this summer, please get a copy of this one! It will be well worth your while.

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

Dominic

DominicAuthor: Mark Pryor

Series: Hollow Man #2

Publisher: 7th Street Books

Release Date: January 2, 2018

Rating: 4 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

Not every main character is honorable. Sometimes, they’re just a psychopath!

Originally from England, Dominic has made quite a life for himself in Austin, Texas. He is a prosecutor with the district attorney’s office for Travis County and primarily works with juvenile cases.  He also is a local musician that plays at a lot of different scenes.  But only two people know that he is also a psychopath.  And the saying goes that three people can keep a secret when two of them are dead.  The two people are his special lady and her teenage brother, who also happens to be a psychopath.

When a cop starts poking around asking about Dominic’s involvement in a past murder investigation that left his roommate in prison, Dominic is afraid that his teenage protégé is going to do something stupid like kill her. So, when she is found dead, his thoughts naturally drift toward what must have happened and how this could all lead back to him.  With only himself in mind (he is a psychopath after all), Dominic begins the process to transfer all involvement of any of the crimes to someone else.

This is a very different, but interesting concept. I haven’t read Hollow Man, but don’t feel like I missed much, maybe just a little backstory.  I’ll probably go ahead and read it so that I can fill in some of the blanks.  Having the main character as a psychopath with no regard for human life is a little different from my normal reading genre.  However, it is interesting that the reader can still form a bond with him as a main character.  Its also told in an exciting way that makes the reader want to find out what he is planning.  Usually this would be told from the police procedural point of view, but this turns the tables in an effort to thwart the police from discovering the truth.  That in itself makes me want to continue with this series.  It also helps that I frequent Austin and I love it when scenes and settings can easily come to life for me because I’ve been to the locations that the author is describing.

There is some strong language used throughout the book, so I recommend this title for mature readers.

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

Justice Betrayed

Justice BetrayedAuthor: Patricia Bradley

Series: Memphis Cold Case #3

Publisher: Revell

Release Date: June 5, 2018

Rating: 5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

With Elvis impersonators, unsolved murders, and an unstable murderer, Justice Betrayed is bound to leave readers all shook up!

Detective Rachel Sloan thinks she is ready for whatever comes her way until an Elvis impersonator comes asking for her help. Vic Vegas knew her before her mother died and wants Rachel to help look into a cold case that might even be related to what happened to her mother.  When Vic’s house is broken into and trouble follows the case, Rachel starts to think there might be more to this case than she or anyone else originally thought.  As things heat up in the case, so does the tension between Rachel and her Lieutenant, Boone Callahan.  They had a small spark between them once but were not able to pursue the relationship being in the same unit at the department.  Trying to solve the case will take them working together and putting aside any differences they might have in order to stop a potential serial killer from claiming any more victims.

Patricia Bradley has found a knock-out formula for romantic suspense with the Memphis cold case series. The characters are real and easy to relate to and the story itself is one that readers will enjoy to the end.  I found Rachel a great lead, she was sure of herself but not cocky. She went after what she wanted even if others around her didn’t agree with her decisions and she followed her heart and stayed true to that.  I didn’t want to like Boone at first but it didn’t take long at all for him to grow on me and find myself not only routing for him but also the relationship between the him and Rachel.  It was a fun mystery with the cold cases and the relationship between that and the murder of Rachel’s mother.  I’m sure there is an entire circuit of people devoted to that and cases within as well so I enjoyed seeing how Bradley brought the story to life.  This is one of those books that fans of not only Patricia Bradley but fans of romantic suspense in general will enjoy and want to continue the series to see what happens with the characters and what other cold cases they can try and solve.

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

Cutting Edge

Cutting EdgeAuthor: Ward Larsen

Publisher: Forge Books

Release Date: January 23, 2018

Rating: 4.5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

A new type of super soldier that is hard to wrap your mind around!

Trey DeBolt is a young rescue swimmer with the coast guard stationed in Kodiak, Alaska. While out on a rescue, severe weather causes his team’s helicopter to crash.  Everyone is killed, including Trey, or so it says on paper.  Sometime later, Trey wakes up in a cottage in Maine with a personal nurse.  She fills him in on some of the details of what has happened, but will provide very little information.  She oversees Trey’s physical recovery and explains about the brain surgery that was required to save his life.  One night while Trey is outside, a team of combat men show up and murder the nurse.  As they try to find him, Trey dives in the freezing north Atlantic water and manages to swim away before they can kill him too.  Now Trey has no money, no phone, no place to go, and no idea what is going on.  However, he is starting to discover that he has new abilities.  He can ask questions of his mind and discover details about people and places that he shouldn’t know.  It’s almost as if his mind has full access to the internet.  Is this why those men wanted to kill him?

Shannon Lund is a civilian officer with the coast guard investigative service (CGIS). While looking into the accidental climbing death of a coast guard member, things start to resurface for the case of Trey DeBolt.  A private Lear jet took DeBolt to a hospital instead of an air ambulance.  Further investigating tells her that it didn’t go to Anchorage as they were told, but changed the flight plan to Minneapolis and then dropped below 18,000 feet to go visual flight so they wouldn’t be tracked.  Then she receives a call from a detective in Maine that Trey’s fingerprints have been found out a doorknob to a cottage by the coast that was destroyed in an explosion.  Lund’s decision to further investigate could be the end of her career.

This was a new idea of a technological thriller. I enjoyed the way that Larsen played it out with Trey by slowly building up his abilities and scaring him half to death.  It made it feel much more realistic than just suddenly having the full abilities at once.  There was definitely some cat and mouse games going one with some of the characters, which made the story keep going strong in several places.  The main characters were well developed, but sill flawed enough to keep it real.  The plot was exciting and changed once or twice to keep me on my toes.  And the twist was a surprise, but shouldn’t have been unexpected.

If you are looking for a new type of thriller, give this book a try . Then grab the Assassin series!

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