Devastation Class

Authors: Glen Zipper & Elaine Mongeon

Publisher: Blink YA Books

Release Date: September 8, 2020

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

A story packed with self-discovery, action, tension, and great characters!  Young readers will enjoy flying through this action-packed story!

Set in the distant future, Earth’s Alliance forces have gone through a nine-year war with the vicious alien Kastazi race. The battle was hard fought and even though Earth won, things are not the same. The Alliance Devastation Class starship California heads out on a scientific exploration mission with a small crew of both officers and civilian students along with a small group of military cadets to see what is left in the universe. The cadets use this mission to prove their worth, especially JD Marshall and Viv Nixon, who both have high ranking parents in the alliance and know they are being watched closely. Their mission does not go as planned as they are ambushed with a second wave of Kastazi forcing JD and Viv to lead a mutiny and take over their ship when those in charge freeze at the most critical moments. They use all their skill and knowledge but quickly run out of options and activate the ship’s blink Reactor, a new technology that is supposed to send them a safe distance away. However, it takes them to a future even more dangerous than what they left.

While there was a quite a bit I didn’t totally understand in this book, there was also a lot I really did enjoy. The characters are engaging and fun to follow on their journey, the story is fun, exciting and a new adventure than most of what I have read before. The story does go back and forth between several different viewpoints, but it is done in a way that is easy to follow, broken up by chapters with the character’s name at the top of the chapter for whose view point readers are about to follow. Just when you think the story is wrapping up, another surprise shows up and ramps up the action. One thing is for sure, there was never a lack of tension that propelled the story forward. I loved the dynamic between JD and Viv, so much there that I can’t wait to see explored further. This is the first in a new series and I foresee it being a trilogy, this first part was wrapped up nicely while also leaving it on a pretty good cliffhanger for the reader to be itching for more. I will be grabbing the second as soon as it comes out to see what happens with these characters. I recommend this to readers that enjoy science fiction and characters that are fun and easy to follow.

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

The Ancestor

Author: Lee Mathew Goldberg

Publisher: All Due Respect Publishing

Release Date: August 20, 2020

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

A very intriguing premise with back and forth timelines and a hint of the supernatural with greed, anger, and love at the heart of the story.

When Wyatt Barlow wakes up frozen in the Alaskan wilderness, he has no idea who he is, where he is, or more strangely when he is. The only thing he has with him are a journal with the date 1898 and a mirror. He watches and sees another man hunting close by and realizes the man looks exactly like him, minus the beard. Wyatt follows the other man home and studies him with his family. It doesn’t take him long to realize he is no longer in his own time and his family is long gone. Wyatt soon befriends Travis, his lookalike and concludes Travis is his great-great grandson. Wyatt originally came to Alaska looking for gold and sets his mind at finding it once again and hopefully a family as well.

The Ancestor is an interesting premise with touches of the supernatural that just didn’t finish strong for me. There was no surprise or twist that I didn’t see coming. I was really hoping for a strong ending, instead it fell completely flat with what was easy. For the most part, I didn’t find a connection with any of the characters that made me care enough to be invested in their stories. The dialogue was forced in most instances and the language was too harsh for my liking. Supernatural or Science Fiction is not my usual genre to read, but I decided to give this one a try after first hearing about it and being intrigued. There was not enough evidence or background to show how this might have happened to Wyatt. Even with a science fiction novel you want the story to make sense, but this book didn’t provide that, it was just written and we were expected to believe it without anything to back up the claims. While I think Science Fiction fans will enjoy this one, it just wasn’t for me. I recommend it to those that enjoy sci-fi and speculative fiction without wanting much explanation for the events they read.

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

The Time Collector

time collectorAuthor: Gwendolyn Womack

Publisher: Picador

Release Date: April 16, 2019

Rating: 4 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

Great story interweaving science fiction and history

Roan West has made a very comfortable living as an antique collector. He has an unfair advantage as a psychometrist, which means he can sense the past imprint by touching an object.  He has been able to find many valuable artifacts throughout his life, but he has also found that touching something that spans too many years might kill him.  His friend Stuart introduced him to a group of psychometrists that have been looking into artifacts that seem to have been misplaced through time known as ooparts.  Its strange that a ring appears in a cretaceous rock.  When part of the group begins working on solving the mystery, one ends up missing and another dead.  When Stuart doesn’t show up to a rendezvous with Roan, he knows something is amiss.  On the flight back to New Orleans, he discovers that a young woman named Melicent Tilpin has just used her gift in front of the world on Antiques Roadshow.  When it appears she might become a target, Roan decides he must help her and find his friend Stuart as well.

This was a really interesting read that wove several different parts of history into a common thread. Having the ability to sense the past by touching an object would be really cool, but could also be deadly as shown time and again in this book.  My favorite part was the stories that were shared by touching the objects as a first person account.  I also really enjoyed getting to see Roan and Melicent’s relationship bud as the story grew.  I think my only drawback to the story was the way it wrapped up.  For 300 pages there is such tension and excitement as the plot builds and the characters develop and then it just kind of finishes out over the last 50 pages.  I would love to see this story expanded upon.  I’m not a big fan of stories that have too much fluff, but this one was just building it up and could have kept it going.  Hopefully there is a sequel coming up that will help explain the overall mystery of the oopart.

There is some occasional harsh language as well as an implied sex scene, but nothing graphic.

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



Author: Steven James

Publisher: Thomas Nelson

Release Date: October 8, 2019

Rating: 5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

Synapse is Steven James at his best! In his first futuristic thriller, he shows readers what an absolutely outstanding writer he truly is and why his books are a must read!

Kestrel Hathaway has just experienced a horrible tragedy when her baby is born without taking a breath. As she leaves the hospital mourning her baby, she witnesses a terrorist attack that sends her world into a tailspin. In a world where Artificial Intelligence (AI) is advancing faster than ever before, Kestrel has never wanted to be a part it, especially after her parents were killed by an AI. Her brother has never held her views against AI’s and has spent the last few years working to advanced Artificial Intelligence higher than ever before. As she mourns the loss of her baby, she receives a gift from her brother, her own Artificial, Jordan. There is another terrorist attack looming and Kestrel begins working with Federal Counterterrorism agent Nick Vernon to figure out who is being targeted and how they can stop the attack. Jordan is not your normal Artificial, he starts asking questions normal Artificials have never asked before. With technology advancing so quickly along with the questions they raise, the world we once knew is not what we live in and we will never be the same because of it.

Anyone who has ever read a Steven James book knows he is one of the very best! Tthe way he crafts a story is unlike any other. It doesn’t matter if you are reading a Patrick Bowers novel or any of his others, the story you get will be exceptional. Synapse is no different. I normally don’t go for science fiction, too much world building that never pulls me into the story. Even though this is only set thirty years in the future, enough must be set up to make the AI’s believable and relatable. I had no trouble following along with this world and picturing myself right there with the characters. What was written in a little under 400 pages could have been pushed to multiple novels and I would have gladly sat and devoured them all. Steven James does an incredible job of pulling readers into the story and that is why he doesn’t need the extra pages other authors might in order to give readers more information. And just like with every other novel he has written, readers will find plot twists at every turn and tension driving the story each step of the way. There is an element of faith throughout and leaves me with a few questions, especially with AI’s and faith.

With multiple viewpoints, readers will also get a full scope of what is happening without feeling lost. For someone who is not a fan of science fiction, I would happily read many more futuristic novels written by James and recommend them to anyone and everyone. I truly hope he will write a follow up (or 10!) for Synapse and keep these characters and their story going for a very long time. I highly recommend this to everyone, I’m not going to even classify a certain group of readers. If this is not your normal genre to read in, please do not let that stop you. This is worth the read and just might open your eyes to things you never thought about. I say this after every single Steven James book I read, but there are not nearly enough people reading his books and that needs to change. If you want a fabulous story, no matter the genre, pick up a Steven James book and enjoy.

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


RecursionAuthor: Blake Crouch

Publisher: Crown Publishing

Release Date: June 11, 2019

Rating: 5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

A fast-paced, mind-bending thriller that could only come from the likes of Blake Crouch!

It’s 2007 and Alzheimer’s disease is becoming more prevalent with no apparent cure in sight.  Helena Smith’s mother is a victim of the disease and she has made it her life’s work to combat the disease with science.  As a researcher, she hasn’t made much progress, but all that changes one day when a stranger walks into her lab and offers her an open checkbook to build the contraption that she dreams of: a memory chair.  Now secluded on an abandoned oil rig that has been outfitted into a secret laboratory, Helena is making advancements on her chair light years ahead of where she was at Stanford.  Once her team finally manages to capture and recreate memories, Helena can’t wait to use it for her mother.  But the chair’s mysterious benefactor seems to have other plans for the chair’s use, plans that she never saw coming or thought possible.

Ten years later, New York City cop Barry Sutton is called to a potential suicide jumper.  As he tries to talk her off the ledge, she confesses that she has FMS or false memory syndrome.  Becoming more prevalent, people are stricken with a second set of false memories of a completely different life that they never lived.  In many cases, it drives the person crazy until they commit suicide to escape from the madness.  Although Barry tries to persuade her, he is unsuccessful, and she jumps to her death.  Experts aren’t sure how the disease is transmitted nor is there any known cure.  He only hopes that he hasn’t contracted it from this woman.  As Barry investigates what loose ends there are, he finds something that doesn’t add up.  What Barry doesn’t realize is that this investigation will set forth a series of events that will change the world as he knows it, and possibly several other alternate worlds too!

Only the mind of Blake Crouch could conjure up a thriller this mind-bending.  His previous novel Dark Matter was such an intense read that it stayed with me for days and I kept telling people about it.  This was just as intense and will be sure to make my top list for the year.  Crouch has a way of making his reader’s question what they think they know.  Sure, it’s science fiction, but just think about it if it were true.  Disrupting the space-time continuum would cause all out chaos.  Where his previous novel dealt with string theory, this one focus in on actually traveling back in time and the ramifications of even living the exact same life over again.  He makes theoretical physics fun to read about and will hopefully inspire some future minds to continue developing this type of science.  I also just learned that this is going to become a movie on Netflix in 2020, so I highly recommended getting your copy now so that you can digest this awesome read.

There is quite a bit of strong language throughout the book as well as implied sex scenes  that is more appropriate for mature audiences.

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

The Immortal Gene

Immortal GeneAuthor: Jonas Saul

Publisher: Vesuvian Books

Release Date: July 17, 2018

Rating: 3.5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

A new police procedural series with a bit of a sci-fi twist.

Jeffrey Harris takes families as he needs them, which is every so often. He has been coined as the Blood Eagle killer because of the shape that he leaves the father in when he is finished.  He has never been caught because he is very, very careful.  It’s always the same: take the mother, take the father, and then take the children.  He is very good at what he does, which is why they’ve never caught him in the years he’s been doing this.

Detective Jake Wood has been working with his partner Kirk Aiken for quite some time and have developed a friendly relationship. Jake is shaken when the Blood Eagle killer murders an entire family in his jurisdiction.  While on site, he comes in contact with horses and suddenly discovers that he has an allergy after he goes into shock.  While in the hospital, he comes in contact with an old friend who needs him to come down to Brazil.  He initially declines, but then heads down there after he finds out that it may be life or death.  While there, he gets into some serious consequences that leave him in the hospital for at least 18 months.  Upon release, Jake finds that his fiancée has moved on and so has his partner.  Jake also learns that he suddenly has some new reptilian powers after a dose of snake venom.  When he finds himself under tough circumstances now, Jake can use his powers to help protect himself and others.

This book started out as a typical serial killer novel with a little suspense here and there mixed with a lot of personal troubles for the protagonist of the story, Jake Wood. From there, it begin to mix with some sci-fi and sort of turned into a vigilante/police procedural mash up.  It was definitely entertaining throughout, but had some weak dialogue at points.  There were also times that the serial killer didn’t follow his profile, which makes for an interesting fiction concept, but not so much in real life.  There was some strong language throughout much of the book as well as some sex scenes that make the book more suitable for mature audiences.  I suggest readers give the book a chance before they make final decision.

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.

The Man He Never Was

The man he never wasAuthor: James L. Rubart

Publisher: Thomas Nelson

Release Date: February 20, 2018

Rating: 5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

An intensely intriguing story that will leave readers looking into their own dark sides wondering whether dark or light will win the ultimate battle.

We all have darkness inside of us just waiting to come out. Torin Daniels has been trying and failing all his life to control that darkness. Eight months ago, he vanished and his wife and kids decided to move on and find happiness without his darkness hanging over them. When he reappears without any memory of where he has been the last eight months, he is a different person.  His temper is gone and he feels like life is giving him a second chance.  It doesn’t take long for glimpses of his old self to begin reappearing and Torin does not want to be that man again.  He starts desperately searching for answers to where he has been and why whatever happened to quell his temper isn’t lasting and to find a permanent solution.  If he can truly be a changed man, there is the chance he can win his family back once and for all.

This is the second book I have read by Rubart and I went into it thinking there was no way it could be better than The Long Journey to Jake Palmer.  Boy was I wrong.  I remember reading Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde when I was younger and always enjoyed the story.  I was curious to see what kind of a spin Rubart was going to take on the story.  Going into the book, I knew there would be elements of faith and the supernatural, that’s just how Rubart writes and he does it so incredibly well.  Oddly enough, I have to say that the parts of the story that flowed most quickly were the most enjoyable for me happened to be the flashbacks to Torin’s childhood.  Usually flashbacks work the opposite, taking the reader out of the story and making it harder for the story to flow in its entirety.  There was just something about the way those scenes were written that kept the pages turning at breakneck speed.  The characters were set together just right for tension and believability.  It would have been hard to want to keep going if things didn’t play out in a way that seemed natural.  If you have read some of Rubart’s other books and enjoyed them, I am certain this one will be just as enjoyable, if not more so, for you as well.  I also recommend this to readers who haven’t read his works but are looking for a deep supernatural thriller that will look at the darkness inside us all and hopefully help us find a way to the light.

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.