Crown of Souls

Crown of SoulsAuthor: Ronie Kendig

Series: Tox Files #2

Publisher: Bethany House

Release Date: September 5, 2017

Rating: 5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

In less than one ten-thousandth of a second, lives will be changed causing Tox and his crew to face their toughest mission yet and not all will survive.

Having earned some much-needed rest, Cole “Tox” Russell and his crew have hit the beach to relax. When a sniper hits Cole and the shooter is discovered to be one of their past team members, things quickly become more interesting. The shooter, Alec King is one of the only other people that could be considered as good as Tox. He is carrying a grudge from years ago when a mission they were both on didn’t end as he would have liked.  Ever since, he has been enacting his own form of justice. He wants Tox to join him to prove that they can be unstoppable and Alec is willing to stop at nothing to convince Tox to join him. Tox worries that maybe Alec is right and he is more like his old friend than he would like to admit.  Secrets long kept are unearthed along with a mysterious artifact that could lead to the destruction of humanity. Tox and his team must race against the clock and find a way to stop Alec before more death and destruction is unleashed.

If you are a fan of Indiana Jones, Tomb Raider, or even National Treasure, I would highly recommend Crown of Souls and The Tox Files. Ronie Kendig has become a master of Military Thrillers. This book goes back and forth between Tox and his mission, to the past and why the artifact they are hunting is so important. If you don’t follow both times lines closely, you might miss some important information for the story. The best thing about a Ronie Kendig novel is there is something there for everyone, Romance, Suspense, History, Mystery and so much more. There are intense moments at just the right time and then things mellow out to calm the reader before being thrust right into the next tough and tense situation. It was hard for me at times to follow the past and present parts, but they did enhance the story and made the mystery all the more intense. It is obvious throughout the entire book that Kendig is familiar with the military and isn’t just writing about something she has no clue about. The lingo, the way they team interacts with each other on missions and during down time makes each one believable as a valuable member of the team and an asset to the story. One of my favorite things about reading books by Kendig is I know I’m going to be entertained and enjoy the story along with the characters and how they connect with one another. I recommend Crown of Souls to all readers that enjoy a good thriller with a military background and strong ties to an ancient mystery that could devastate the lives of all it comes in contact with.

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

Beneath Copper Falls

Beneath Copper FallsAuthor: Colleen Coble

Series: Rock Harbor

Publisher: Thomas Nelson

Release Date: July 11, 2017

Rating: 5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

A riveting story that will leave the hairs prickling on the back of your neck to the very last page.

Dana Newell has had a hard time in love. She is trying to escape her abusive fiancé by moving back to her childhood home of Rock Harbor to be a 911 dispatcher.  She is hoping the change will be a peaceful one.  However, the small town has secrets of its own and Dana may be in for more than she bargained for.  One of the first people she meets when she arrives is a man named Boone who has scars both visible and ones that can’t be seen.  While answering calls at her job, she hears the screams of her friend on the other end of the line saying she is about to be killed.  Dana does everything she can but they are too late to save her friend’s life.  The past and present soon collide and Dana realizes the peaceful future she wanted may not exist.

There was something about this story that resonated with me and had me glued to my seat till the very end. The suspense was top notch and it didn’t even have to do with the murders.  The way Coble portrayed Dana and the fear she had and felt jumped off the page and kept my pulse racing.  This is the kind of story I love to read.  There doesn’t have to be a lot of blood and guts to be suspenseful, it is subtle and that is the best.  I haven’t read any others in the series but I don’t feel that made a difference with my enjoyment in Beneath Copper Falls; those that have read all might beg to differ but new readers will still be able to enjoy.  This is also one of those books that hours after finishing, I am reflecting and have found more aspects that I enjoyed.  The writing was crisp and clear without anything that might take the readers out of the story.  The characters were well placed, I liked how Dana reacted to the scars that Boone had but didn’t let it deter her from letting her feelings for him surface and acting on them.  I recommend this to readers that enjoy an edge of their seat story that will make them check the locks on their doors at night and question their instincts.

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

Crisis Shot

Crisis Shot.jpgAuthor: Janice Cantore

Series: Line of Duty #1

Publisher: Tyndale House

Release Date: September 5, 2017

Rating: 5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

Janice Cantore is back in full force with one of her best novels yet. I’ve been waiting for her to write this book for a long time.

Tess O’Rourke’s dream of becoming the first female police chief in Long Beach, California comes to a screeching halt when an unfortunate shooting leaves a fourteen-year-old boy victim and Tess as the shooter. Tess is cleared of any wrongdoing but, that doesn’t stop the public, especially an obnoxious blogger from trying to crucify her in the court of public opinion.  Tess decides her best option is to move away and start new somewhere else.  She takes a job as police chief of a small town in Oregon. Even though it is a long way from Long Beach, the residents of Rogue Hollow have still heard of what happened and are hesitant to give Tess a chance to prove what she can do.  She is able to make a few close friends, but things take a turn for the worst when her best friend turns up missing and the woman’s cousin is found shot dead.  Tess must rely on the help of sheriff’s deputy Steve Logan who has been an asset since she moved to town and she quickly finds herself becoming attracted to him.  Together, they work together to solve the first murder the town has seen and worry about mixing business with pleasure.

Janice Cantore has been a favorite of mine for a long time, but after the last series I felt a little underwhelmed. It just wasn’t the great work I had come to expect from her.  With Crisis Shot, I am happy to say my faith in her work has been restored.  This was a great read.  The characters were just right in all aspects of the story.  Tess is a strong female lead that even though she is going through a tough situation, she handles it with dignity and is able to be logical and not let her emotions get the best of her.  Steve was brought in but his presence wasn’t overwhelming.  I really liked how the members of the force were very standoffish when Tess arrived, but after seeing how capable she was of handling the situations they were faced with, their attitudes changed quickly. With all the changes that Tess went through, she was still able to handle it well, I think it helped that she didn’t have family holding her in one place so she was able to go somewhere else and start a new life for herself.  The fact that Cantore is a former officer gives credibility and authenticity to the writing that is missing from many police procedurals.  I recommend this book to anyone who has read Cantore as well as to new readers looking for a great romantic suspense that won’t disappoint.

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

Close to Home

Close to HomeAuthor: Robert Dugoni

Series: Tracy Crosswhite #5

Publisher: Thomas & Mercer

Release Date: September 5, 2017

Rating: 5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

Robert Dugoni delivers the next series installment getting Tracy involved with the Navy in a case that could sink more than one career, and life, if she’s not careful.

When Seattle homicide detective Tracy Crosswhite is called to the scene of a hit-and-run death, she doesn’t expect the case to lead her to the Navy. The suspect is a serviceman at the local base, which causes the local Judge Advocate General Corps to get involved.  The case is then transferred to the military court where the key piece of evidence goes missing.  Tracy has made a promise to the family of the victim that she will make sure justice is served for the death of their son, giving her no other option than to pursue the case. The further Tracy digs into the crimes, the more connections pop up to recent heroin overdoses.  With each new clue, Tracy, and those around her are put in danger and not everyone is guaranteed to make it out alive.

The Tracy Crosswhite series has become one of my absolute favorites. I love the way Dugoni has taken this character and made her someone the reader wants to cheer for and strive to be like in so many ways. Close to Home is the fifth in the series, but can easily be read as a stand-alone novel.  There are references to the first book in the series, but nothing about this book makes it necessary to have read the entire series.  For me, this was more of a mystery than a suspense thriller.  There was not the usual edge of my seat, can’t wait to see what is going to happen next moments.  That’s not a bad thing, it’s just different from the way Dugoni has written these books in the past.  I enjoyed the way he spent extra time building up a few of the secondary characters we have seen throughout the series.  I really enjoyed the different tone to the story with incorporating the military and JAG lawyers.  I am a big fan of military shows and novels and thought this fit in so well with the writing of the characters already established in the series. It will be interesting to see if any of the new characters introduced here make it to the next in the series.  I recommend this book to anyone looking for an excellent mystery that will leave you guessing and cheering with the way the story comes to an end.

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

Portrait of Vengeance

Portrait of VengenaceAuthor: Carrie Stuart Parks

Series: Gwen Marcey #4

Publisher: Thomas Nelson

Release Date: August 8, 2017

Rating: 4 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

Things get personal for Gwen as she finally unravels some of her own history.

After returning from her previous assignment in Kentucky, forensic artist Gwen Marcey is looking forward to some vacation time with her new romantic partner Blake, whom she also met in Kentucky on the previous case. However, a new case so close to her own childhood story has struck a nerve that she can’t refuse it, which may jeopardize her relationship with Blake for good.  A double homicide and a missing four-year-old girl on a tribal reservation in Idaho echoes a memory of when she was fourteen.  But as she investigates the case, memories from her past begin to unravel and she starts to realize the truth she has held onto may be all lies.  With her best friend, Beth, and trusty dog, Winston, Gwen sets events that started over thirty years ago, back in motion.

This was another exciting story that landed the main character in continual peril. Gwen finds her share of hardships in both her professional and personal life.  This book gets really personal for Gwen as it deals with the death of her parents and her life in-between.  There is a lot of irony in that the people she meets are somehow all connected to her past, but that may happen more often than it gets credit for.  Even so, there is a lot of area history included in this book that made it interesting to account for the current murders in the area. And as in previous books, Ginger and MaryAnn come to her rescue again, although likely for the last time.  If you have no idea what I’m talking about, then you need to read it to find out.

I was a little disappointed that the after the connection that Gwen and her daughter made in the previous book, there was little this book built on that. Her ex-husband is still a piece of work that shows up with the occasional phone call and in her thoughts.  Other than seeing Gwen continually build up her esteem, it’s almost like the last book didn’t happen.  I hope to see more of what went on previously show up in the next installment.

If you enjoy a good mystery with some humor and history thrown in, grab a copy and enjoy!

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

Ferocious

FerorciousAuthor: Paula Stokes

Series: Vicarious #2

Publisher: Tor Teen

Release Date: August 15, 2017

Rating: 4.5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

Winter Kim is back and ready for revenge in this explosive follow up to Vicarious.

Winter Kim is on a mission. After her sister was murdered and the only ones she loves were taken from her, she finds out she has a brother she never knew about.  His life is in danger if she doesn’t travel to South Korea and confront Kyung, the man responsible for all the misery in her life.  Helping her along the way are her friends, Jesse and Sebastian.  Together they gain access to Kyung’s corporation and try to gather as much information as possible to get her brother to safety and get out alive herself.  Winter must decide if the revenge she is seeking is worth risking everything or will she be able to release the darkness within her.

The follow up to Vicarious picks up right where things lift off in the first one. Vicarious was very action packed and moved at a quick pace, Ferocious takes things down a notch and moves slower for several different reasons.  The main point of this story is the revenge Winter is seeking.  Revenge takes planning, planning takes time, which ended up making the story less action packed and slower.  This isn’t necessarily a bad thing; the set-up of what Winter was going to do was well laid out giving the characters more depth.  Even though I can’t call this as action packed as the first, there certainly were a lot of twists and turns that kept me guessing until the very end.  As far as I can tell, there isn’t another book to follow in the series.  I can see the story mostly wrapped up here but there are still a few threads that could be played out further if the author decided to pursue the storyline further.  I recommend this book to an older YA audience that enjoys thrillers with plenty to keep them guessing.  It is marketed as a YA but I don’t think a few of the themes would be appropriate for the younger YA audience.

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

Vicarious

VicariousAuthor: Paula Stokes

Publisher: Tor Teen

Release Date: August 16, 2016

Rating: 4.5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

A total thrill ride with mind-bending twists and turns throughout that will leave the reader craving more.

The bond between sisters is a strong one, and almost none compared to that of Winter Kim and her sister Rose. They work for Rose’s ex-boyfriend, Gideon, who has them engaging in dangerous and exciting activities while he records their neural impulses making a Vicarious Sensory Experience for others he calls ViSEs.  Their adventures include shark diving, hooking up with celebrities at dance clubs, and any and all thrills anyone would want to experience safely for a price.  Winter’s world is turned upside down when her sister disappears and her murder is recorded on a ViSe and sent to Gideon.  Winter can’t do anything until she finds her sister’s killer and becomes consumed with revenge.  With each clue, she uncovers the story of what happened to her sister doesn’t add up and Winter starts to question everything she has known to trust and believe in.

I love a good YA book that keeps up with the direction the world is going and Vicarious is just that kind of book. Each chapter flows into the next bringing the story and the characters into more chaos that will leave the reader aching for more. The characters are strong and even though they go through challenges they learn from each and every obstacle they encounter and use that to push them forward.  There is a romance in the story but it is played out in a very different way than most books, which I really enjoyed.  This is classified as a YA/Teen book and it is good for that in most areas, the only problem I have is the occasional language and sexual scenes throughout.  I don’t like to see those in books marketed to a younger audience but feel like it wasn’t played up nearly as much as it could have been and for that I am thankful.  This is the kind of book that so many readers will be able to find something to enjoy.  I recommend this book to teens and adults that like a good thriller with a sci-fi undertone to it.

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