The Expedition

the expeditionAuthor: Chris Babu

Series: The Initiation #2

Publisher: Permuted Press

Release Date: December 5, 2018

Rating: 4 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

The initiation was child’s play compared to the new quest bestowed on the four champions!

Shortly after completing the initiation, Drayden, Catrice, Sidney, and Charlie are presented with a new quest: to travel to the City of Boston and represent New America in an attempt to seek aid.  New America is failing as battery life is coming to an end and wind turbines desperately need maintenance.  Food production has been shortened and people are now being randomly exiled so that the colony as a whole can survive.  Unfortunately, this shortens the time that Drayden has available to look into his mom’s exile.  Trying to bargain for more time or a change of expedition has only frustrated their superiors to the point they have been threatened with execution and their families exiled.  Fortunately, they have a team of elite guardians with them for protection on the way to Boston.  But once out of New America, things don’t go quite as the group had planned.  Could there be different missions between them and the guardians?  Will Boston even still exist?  Why hasn’t there been talk about their future once they return?

This book picks up right where the first one left off.  Four scared and confused teenagers with no idea what awaits them are thrown into yet another scenario of seemingly ensured failure.  We get to see how the world has developed post confluence outside of the New America walls and to say the least, humanity has gone back to being fairly primitive, but there are a few surprises along the way.  This installment focuses on the teens continued survival as well as a challenge against the guardians.  A consistent element was that of Drayden’s insecurity.  It smeared throughout all the pages of the book, especially his relationship with Catrice.  I would really like to know what is going through Catrice’s head most of the time but may never get to see that.  I would like to see the next installment with alternating points of view.

If you enjoy this style of book, then you will likely enjoy this one as well.  There is some mild language throughout, but nothing that is not expected in today’s society.

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

The Initiation

the initiationAuthor: Chris Babu

Series: The Initiation #1

Publisher: Permuted Press

Release Date: February 27, 2018

Rating: 4 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

Fans of The Hunger Games will be excited about this new series!

Despite the warnings, doctors continued to over prescribe antibiotics.  Once the greatest medical advancement, now an adverse effect has been created.  Bacteria continued to develop until antibiotics no longer provided any effect.  This created superbugs, which in turn created the confluence, an epidemic that begin to wipe out civilization.  In an effort to save humanity, Manhattan Island was walled off from the rest of the world and set into a quarantine.  As people planned for equality and lives free from power, wealth, and corruption. New America was born and divided into four cells.  Most people live in the Dorms sector, which has been getting the shaft from the other sectors as of late, but for an unknown reason.  New American is failing.

Drayden is a 16-year-old math whiz who is about to graduate and take a job in the dorms.  Suddenly his mom is exiled from New America for conspiracy.  He knows something isn’t right about this and the only way to find out is to enter a contest known as The Initiation.  A series of puzzles and tests await him in the abandoned subways as he travels from the Dorms to the Palace.  If he survives, his remaining family can move into the Palace with him and he will be able to find the truth about his mom’s exile.  If he fails, he faces exile himself, or possibly death.

Dystopian literature is the fastest growing reading genre today and several new books hit the market every week.  It’s difficult to weed through what might be worth reading and what is better left on the shelf.  This book took a little bit to set up, but once it did, it really took off.  It takes on the familiar trait of kids that are living in the least respected quadrant of ruined America that have the opportunity to make a better life for themselves.  In this case, it’s an event called the Initiation and requires them to pass several different challenges to move forward.  The character development was done very well.  Drayden was instantly likeable.  Alex was the perfect antagonist that you loved to hate.  The other characters pretty well fit in where you would expect, with a few flaws possibly.

If you enjoy this style of book, then you will likely enjoy this one as well.  There is some mild language throughout, but nothing that is not expected in today’s society.

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

A Study in Treason

study in treasonAuthor: Leonard Goldberg

Series: Daughter of Sherlock Holmes #2

Publisher: Minotaur

Release Date: June 12, 2018

Rating: 5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

My interest in Sherlock Holmes has been renewed by this new series!

After a top-secret document outlining the treaty between England and France to stand against Germany disappears, Dr. John Watson is solicited to assist England in finding the document.  Dr. Watson agrees on one condition, that his son Dr. John Watson, Jr. and his wife Joanna assist in the investigation.  Joanna is the daughter of Sherlock Holmes and Irene Adler and she is just as astute as her father, if not more.  As they assist Scotland Yard in the investigation, evidence starts to point in the opposite direction of the investigation, which brings out more questions than answers.  As with her father, everything must be cut and dried with no middle ground.  With an apparent hurry up investigation, the trio attempt to work out the facts to solve the case and restore the document.

If you enjoyed Sherlock Holmes, then this new series is a must.  Told from the perspective of Dr. John Watson, Jr, a new mystery has surfaced that resembles the volumes of work that his father documented for Sherlock Holmes.  The story line is very interesting and told in a way that keeps the reader engaged.  Just as things seem to be wrapping up, a new curve is thrown into the mix that resets all the knowledge gathered so far.  Goldberg does a great job leading readers down the path, but keeping them right where he wants them.  Scotland Yard still bumbles a bit and is too hasty to wrap up investigations, but Joanna mimics her fathers’ antics from pacing to smoking while deep in thought.

Even though this is the second in a series, it easily reads as a standalone.  However, it garnered enough of my interest to go get the first book to fill in any blanks that I may not have noticed.  If you’re a fan of Holmes or just love a good mystery, give this a try!

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

The Cost of Betrayal

cost of betrayalAuthors: Dee Henderson; Dani Pettrey; & Lynette Eason

Publisher: Bethany House

Release Date: September 4, 2018

Rating: 4.5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

A collection of novellas by three of the leading authors in Christian fiction makes for a great read.

First up is Dee Henderson’s Betrayed. After spending years in prison Janelle Roberts is freed after an FBI Agent and his wife buy a box of possessions at an auction and find evidence showing there is no way she could have committed the murder she is accused of. To keep Janelle safe, they hide her away while they all search for the murderer who is still at large and might threaten Janelle’s life and freedom.

Second, we have Dani Pettrey’s Deadly Isle. When a storm hits her childhood home, Tennyson Kent is trapped along with the rest of the island residents with a murderer. The storm cuts them off from anyone that could help. Together with Callen Frost, her first love, Tennyson hopes to figure out who the killer is and stop anymore tragedy from coming to their island.

Finally, Lynette Eason’s Code of Ethics gives us the story of Ruthie St. John saving the life of Detective Isaac Martinez. Isaac is trying to prove one of the others on the squad is betraying all they believe, and it puts his life on the line.  Together he and Ruthie must stay alive and prove who in the department is corrupt.

This was a great group of stories and even though they don’t tie in to one another, they are very well written. I think when I started this I was expecting the stories to connect in some way and was a little confused when they didn’t. Had I realized this to begin with, it would have helped while reading. The first story to me was the slowest to get through. Deadly Isle and Code of Ethics were really quick reads and made the entire set worth reading for me. I really enjoyed the fact that Eason’s Code of Ethics tied in with her latest series. If any are like me and the first third seems a little slow to you I recommend sticking with it through the other two thirds where the suspense really kicks it to another level and the stories are extremely riveting. I recommend this to readers who enjoy all three of these authors and enjoy a great romantic suspense reads. I have the feeling that some of these stories will be further developed as time goes on, either in another collection of short stories or on their own. Either way I can’t wait to see what happens with these characters.

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

Code of Valor

Code of Valor

Author: Lynette Eason

Series: Blue Justice #3

Publisher: Revell

Release Date: January 1, 2019

Rating: 5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

The newest Blue Justice series installment follows Brady St. John and is sure to please readers with a wild and crazy adventure!

 While trying to get some much needed relaxation time, Brady St. John takes a vacation only to be interrupted. He has rented a friend’s lake cabin when he hears screams. He races to rescue a woman as she is about to be killed. The killer escapes but quickly comes back to finish the job putting them both in danger. Emily Chastain is a financial crimes investigator and has had a hard time trusting people since she was a young girl. With a past she is trying to escape, she tries to help those around her and somehow finds herself a target. Together with Brady and his siblings, Emily will try to solve a crime and stay alive.

 This is exactly what I have come to expect from Lynette Eason. Action packed suspense with just the right amount of romance sprinkled in. As the third book in the Blue Justice series, we get a look into Brady St. John as well as the rest of the family helping to solve the case. I enjoyed the character of Emily, such a vulnerable character with trust issues having to trust Brady and his family to help solve the case and keep her safe. Eason does a fantastic job of creating a story with plenty of twists and turns and characters that are both delightful and delightfully evil.

 I liked the way the story was broken up into parts based on the day and time things were occurring. It made the story move quicker and kept track of the time frame events were occurring in. With so many members of the St. John family, it is great to see each member get their own story and still see how all the others are doing as side characters throughout. I’m hoping the next in the series will focus on Linc since we have yet to read his backstory. I recommend this book to fans of Eason and even those who are new to her writing and enjoy romantic suspense. Even though this is the third in a series it can be read as a standalone without missing out on too much.

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

Top Suspense/Thriller

Our last genre category for the year is for suspense/thrillers!  If you’ve enjoyed checking out our top picks in each category, check back tomorrow for our top overall selections.

Every Wicked Man1. Every Wicked Man by Steven James

The final book in the Bowers files leaves us sad to see the series end.  James has created one of the best series out there an fans will love the way things come to an end.

Read the full review here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Steep price

2. A Steep Price by Robert Dugoni

The newest Tracy Crosswhite book is a must read!  Tracy and her crew are back and ready to tackle their toughest case yet, which hits too close to home for Tracy.

Read the full review here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thirst of Steel3. Thirst of Steel by Ronie Kendig

As the final book in the Tox Files concludes, readers will have their emotions taken on a roller coaster ride.  Ronie Kendig brings one of the best novels of the year.

Read the full review here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Not that I could tell4. Not that I Could Tell by Jessica Strawser

DO NOT PUT THIS BOOK DOWN!  Read until the final chapter to see the right way a suspense novel should be played out!

Read the full review here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

If I live5. If I Live by Terri Blackstock

One of the best conclusions to a series that we’ve read in a long time!  Blackstock never disappoints!

Read the full review here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The escape artist6. The Escape Artist by Brad Meltzer

Who is Nola Brown and why is she supposed to be dead?  Throughout this book, readers will be left stunned and salivating for answers for these two questions in addition to many, many more!

Read the full review here.

 

 

Top Romantic Suspense

Our next category focuses on romance coupled with suspense.  A great combo with several great books.

Wait for Me1. Wait for Me by Susan May Warren

This entire series was great for romantic suspense, but the closing book really ramped up the heat.

Read the full review here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

In too deep2. In Too Deep by Lynn H. Blackburn

Lynn H. Blackburn hit it out of the park with the first Dive Team book and the follow up is even better.  We loved every minute we got to spend with the characters.

Read the full review here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lethal Target3. Lethal Target by Janice Cantore

With tighter action, better characters and an overall excellent story, Lethal Target is by far the best we have read from Janice Cantore.

Read the full review here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

House at Saltwater Point4. The House at Saltwater Point by Colleen Coble

Even more entertaining and suspenseful than her previous books, this might just be Coble’s very best yet!

Read the full review here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Called to protect5. Called to Protect by Lynettte Eason

The tension was so tight and crisp that we were on the edge of our seat until the end of the book!

Read the full review here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mind games6. Mind Games by Nancy Mehl

With a familiar writing style, we quickly devoured this suspenseful novel!

Read the full review here.