Bullet Train

Author: Kotaro Isaka

Series: Hitman #2

Publisher: Harry N. Abrams

Release Date: August 3, 2021

Rating: 5 out of 5.

In a read before you watch debate, this will be better than the movie!

Aboard the Shinkansen from Tokyo to Morioka, multiple assassins are traveling with different, seemingly unrelated agendas.  Tangerine and Lemon have “rescued” a wealthy man’s son from a kidnapping and are making their way to deliver the boy and the ransom money that is housed in a suitcase.  Nanao, referred to as ladybug for his unlucky, yet successful adventures, is working with his partner Maria on an assignment to grab a specific suitcase off the train, which just happens to be the same suitcase that Tangerine and Lemon are guarding.  Kimura has boarded the train to avenge his young son’s accident by a teenager known as “the Prince.”  But the Prince is more calculated and sadistic than anyone knows who is out to determine the boundaries that he can push.  Could there be more assassins aboard that have even more agendas?  What will happen when they finally realize that things might not be quite as unrelated as they seem?

I picked up a copy of this book when I saw that it was going to be a movie and I love to read it before I see it.  Needless to say, this is an action-packed thriller from start to finish.  There are so many twists and turns throughout the book that it made my head spin.  There were many aspects of this book that I enjoyed: the banter between Lemon and Tangerine, the frustrations of Nanao, and Kimura’s parents were just the icing on the cake.  It was easy to connect with certain characters and disdain for others, just as the reader intended.  The fight scenes on the train were done very well and was completely believable.

There is quite a bit of strong language throughout the book, a lot of violence, and some disturbing thoughts and concepts by one of the characters, but still a great book.  I recommend that those who love to compare books to movies check this out.

Code of Courage

Author: Janice Cantore

Publisher: Tyndale House

Release Date: July 19, 2022

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Another fantastic police procedural from one of the best is completely satisfying and downright enjoyable!

Detective Danni Grace has been on the job a long time and never expected to want to do anything else. After being injured during a riot, she takes a leave and almost never comes back to the job she loved. When the riots increase with a police officer involved shooting in her hometown, Danni returns to try and save the career of her fellow officers. She is going to have to work hard to overcome the doubts she has about staying on the force she lost her passion for. She also must put aside her past and work with her ex-husband, Gabriel Fox, an investigator for the city prosecutor’s office. Together they work to preserve justice and protect those they have made an oath to serve and protect.

I always love getting a new Janice Cantore book. I know that no matter what the story is I’m going to enjoy it. Her knowledge being a 22-year veteran of the Long Beach police force shows in every book that she writes. Every character in her books is believable and engaging, which is so rare. Not only are her characters as officers written real and believable, but anyone else that shows up on the page pulls me in and makes me want to know more about their backstory and all that they are going through. Danni Grace was a great protagonist; she is strong, but also vulnerable and even though it takes a while, she is willing to accept the help she needs from Gabriel, which brings their relationship into an interesting dynamic. For being just under four hundred pages there is a lot of story here but it is told well and flows at a great pace. This is a great book for fans of Romantic suspense to pick up. If you have never read anything by Janice Cantore, I would recommend this one along with all of her books.

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

Deadly Shallows

Author: Dani Pettrey

Series: Coastal Guardians #3

Publisher: Bethany House

Release Date: July 5, 2022

Rating: 4 out of 5.

The final installment in the Coastal Guardians series is packed with more action and drama than a romantic suspense should be allowed to have!

When a deadly attack occurs affecting members of the Coast Guard Investigative Services, Agent Noah Rowley and his team race to stop the attack and save as many lives as possible. During the attack, Brooke Kesler, a flight medic for the Coast Guard, helps take one of the gun man that was wounded to the hospital and ends up on the radar of the bad guys when they think she knows something she shouldn’t. With each new clue they uncover about the deadly plot affecting their city and friends, they realize more lives could be at stake. Noah, Brooke and the team must work together to stop the plan of truly evil men.

If you have read any of the Coastal Guardians books, or are a fan of romantic suspense, this is one you will not want to miss. I have always loved the way Dani Pettrey crafts novels that are rich in drama, suspense, tension, romance and so much more. This novel and the way she put Brooke in dangerous situations and how it affected the other team members was written beautifully. There was no trouble relating to Brooke as the main female lead in this book and all that she goes through, I found myself on the edge of the seat several times hoping everything would turn out alright. My only complaint about this book would be at times it got a little preachy with how much the different characters were praying in different situations. This is a Christian fiction book and as such it is to be expected, but for readers that are turned off by too much of that this will take them out of the story, not something that needs to happen. I’m all for praying in all situations, good and bad, but when reading a story like this I just felt it took me away from the tension and what I needed to be focused on in the story. This was a good wrap up to the series and I can’t wait to see what stories come next from Pettrey.

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

Critical Alliance

Author: Elizabeth Goddard

Series: Rocky Mountain Courage #3

Publisher: Revell

Release Date: July 5, 2022

Rating: 4 out of 5.

The third book in the Rocky Mountain Courage series is a nonstop action ride that will pull readers in and keep them glued to their seats.

It’s been a long time since Mackenzie Hanson used her hacking skills for evil. When things went too far, she went to the authorities herself and now has a career as a professor of cybersecurity at Michigan University using her skills to help others. A blast from her past comes back to warn her about a danger to her and her family leading her to return home to try and save her father’s tech company from a cyberattack. Alex Knight has been working for the Diplomatic Security Services and needs time to recover after a mission that ended badly. He returns home to Montana and runs into Mackenzie, a girl from his past he has never forgotten. He is pulled into her mystery and together they work to try and save lives and the company her family has poured so much into before it is too late.

This is the last book in the Rocky Mountain Courage series and readers get Mackenzie and Alex’s story along with some answers tying up the rest of the series. I love how this series can be read in order or even as stand-alone novels if a reader happened to pick one up without realizing it was in a series. Even so, the reader might enjoy going back and reading the others to catch up on the story. Mackenzie is a great character for this story, and I loved the way her past was brought back in and showed how much she has grown as a person. Alex was a good male lead but had a few moments that I felt disconnected from him, I can’t say for sure what it was exactly that made me feel that way about him as a character except I found him a tad annoying. None of that was enough to turn me off the story though, the action was top-notch and the romance between the two worked really well, especially towards the end of the story. I think fans of romantic suspense will definitely want to add this one to their collection!

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

Impending Strike

Authors: Lynette Eason & Sami A. Abrams

Series: Elite Guardians Novel #2

Publisher: Sunrise Publishing

Release Date: June 28, 2022

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Another fantastic Elite Guardians novel that fans of the series will not want to miss! 

Charlie Lee is a member of the Elite Guardians; he is the only male member. He has tried to put his feelings for fellow Guardian Lizzie Tremaine aside as he knows a relationship with her would be beyond complicated. Lizzie is a single mom whose main goal is to protect her daughter while doing her job protecting others. Charlie goes undercover on a project and winds up hurt with memory loss for the last four years of his life. With no memory of why he shouldn’t try to make things work with Lizzie, he tries to get her to see him as more than a friend. The closer they get, the harder it is to do their jobs without the risk of one or both of their hearts getting hurt.

This is the second book in the second installment of the Elite Guardians collection and the collaboration of seasoned author Lynette Eason with Sami Abrams, an up-and-coming author. I don’t feel like this one was as great as the first in this new series but still a great addition to the overall Elite Guardians collection. Lizzie and Charlie had a past that wasn’t explored as much causing a few head scratching moments. The moments of Charlie losing his memory and trying to recall what he couldn’t remember and how that affected his relationships with all around him helped to move the story along. When it comes to romantic suspense, these books read quickly and are a great companion for a rainy day or relaxing day reading without worrying about much else. I thought for her first book, Sami Abrams did a great job diving into this series with a world already built and established adding a great story and characters we hadn’t read much about before. This book was still fast paced and enjoyable, and I am curious to see what is going to come next with the series. I would recommend this book to anyone who loves romantic suspense and has been a fan of the Elite Guardians series. Readers wouldn’t have to read the rest of the series’ first to enjoy but I do think it would help readers to get the most out of the book.

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

Sunburst

Author: Susan May Warren

Series: Sky King Ranch #2

Publisher: Revell

Release Date: June 7, 2022

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Another fantastic adventure by Susan May Warren that takes readers from Africa to Alaska with all the action you can expect from a novel by Warren!

Ranger Kingston has spent his life on rescue missions with the Navy SEALS. He recently left the life he had known for so long, but when his brother, Colt, is kidnapped with others in Nigeria, he goes in to help save him. During the mission, he escapes with a woman he never thought he would see again and has never forgotten. Noemi Sutton is just as surprised as Ranger when he comes into the terrorist camp to help them escape. The escape doesn’t go as planned and Noemi and Ranger must work together if they are going to make it out of Nigeria alive.

Susan May Warren is a master when it comes to Romantic Suspense. Her books have entertaining plots, engaging characters and settings that pull the reader in deep to the story. Sunburst is no exception to this method; she has crafted in making great stories for readers to enjoy.

Ranger isn’t looking for love, afraid it will take his mind off the mission, any mission he has next, and Noemi is afraid to get close to anyone because she might lose them, or they might get hurt because of her. With their combined baggage setting up the story, it makes it hard to see them making it work. With every step they take, more trouble comes their way and kept me glued to the story. This is the kind of fast paced story that I love reading; hard to put down and characters that I couldn’t help but cheer on at every turn. I loved the way Susan May Warren sets up scenes in so many different settings and doesn’t even make my blink, it all felt so incredibly real. This is the second in the series, but it could be read as a standalone. If you haven’t read the first, you will be missing a little backstory for a few of the characters and storyline, especially towards the end of the book. I do recommend this to fans of romantic suspense and Susan May Warren, you won’t be disappointed, another great read!

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

Among the Innocent

Author: Mary Alford

Publisher: Revell

Release Date: June 7, 2022

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Not at all what I was expecting when I picked this book up but ended thoroughly enjoyed the story!

It’s been ten years since Leah Miller escaped the clutches of the man that murdered her entire family. Leah grew up Amish but left after the murders finding it too hard to stay. When the man they believed responsible for the murders took his own life, Leah was finally able to breathe again. She joined the police force and spent her time looking out for those in the town and Amish community. When another Amish woman is found murdered in the same way as Leah’s family, she knows the killer is still out there. Leah must work with Dalton Cooper, the new police chief in town who has his own agenda concerning this case. Together they work to find out the truth and stop the killer before any more lives are lost.

Normally a book on Amish fiction would not be one I eagerly pick up to read, but I’m happy to say Among the Innocent was so much better than I expected. Mary Alford crafted a story set within the Amish community that was engaging, suspenseful, delightful, and more. Every now and then the difference in language the Amish use made it slower to read but only slightly. Leah was a great character that even with her past and suffering she was able to still rise above it all and help others.

Dalton and Leah had great chemistry that brought the story to a higher level that I wasn’t expecting. The romance was just right letting the suspense always lead the story. The way the killer was written into the story was very engaging and had me turning the pages. I would recommend readers set aside a good amount of time to read so they can fully enjoy without distractions. This was my first Mary Alford book and can guarantee it won’t be the last. Readers that enjoy romantic fiction and Amish fiction will not want to pass this one up.

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

Elysium Tide

Author: James R. Hannibal

Publisher: Revell

Release Date: June 7, 2022

Rating: 5 out of 5.

A bit of a slow start, but when the story picks up speed, readers better be buckled up because it goes into overdrive! 

Dr. Peter Chesterfield needs a break. He doesn’t want to take a break, but he is ordered by his boss to attend a medical symposium in Hawaii at the Elysium Grand hotel. Even while he is supposed to be on vacation, he ends up working when he pulls a woman from the water with a head injury. She ends up dying in his arms but whispers the word “hono” before dying. After her death, Peter teams up with local detective, Lisa Kealoha, to uncover the missing pieces to the case. Things take a turn for the unexpected the further into the case they go, and it isn’t long before they wind up in the crosshairs of some very dangerous men. Together they must try and solve the case before anyone else gets hurt, or worse.

Let me start with a confession, it took me over two weeks to read this book. Not because it wasn’t good, I just started it at a very busy time with lots going on and didn’t have much time to read. When I did read, I didn’t want to stop to do the other things I had to do. The story started a little slow but once it got going in really picked up the pace and held my interest the rest of the time. Peter and Lisa were great main characters, a little rough around the edges at times but had some great character growth and their dynamic when with each other was very well done. This was the second book in a row set in Hawaii I read by coincidence and this was by far the better of the two. I loved the beautiful setting, fast paced storyline, and fun characters. Even though it could have gone deeper into the Elysium aspect, I feel Hannibal did a great job with not going too far and losing the reader. My advice would be to pick this book up when you have plenty of time to devote to the story without interruptions. I recommend this book to readers that enjoy suspense, action and an overall great read.

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

No Small Target

Author: James Tyler Brooks

Publisher: Tyndale House

Release Date: May 17, 2022

Rating: 5 out of 5.

A fast paced thriller that blew me away by a debut author. No Small Target is one to add to the To Be Read pile for thriller fans!

Jack Case thought he had left Hawaii behind until he gets a call from Kamakoa, his closest friend asking for his help on a case. When he arrives, Kamakoa is missing and Jack is now in charge of finding him and stopping a traitor from selling defense secrets to North Korea. Being back in Hawaii is hard, but nothing could keep him from being there for the only family he has left. As the search continues for Kamakoe, Jack must figure out who he can trust and with every turn the stakes are higher as the threats to those around him continue to grow.

For No Small Target being a debut novel, I am pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed this one. Just knowing what the story was going to be about intrigued me and made me want to read it; suspense novels are my go-to and this one did not disappoint! Jack Case was a great protagonist that had me hooked from page one.  He had a rough past that was unveiled little by little making it more interesting for me as the reader. Not only were the characters well written, but the story itself and the setting really transported me and kept me engaged the whole time. I was a little worried at first with it being set in Hawaii because a few books I have read recently have had characters from there and they have been over the top annoying, so I was hoping that wouldn’t be the case here and it wasn’t. This is the first in a new series and I can’t wait to see what else comes from James Tyler Brooks.

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

Fatal Code

Author: Natalie Walters

Series: Snap Agency #2

Publisher: Revell

Release Date: May 3, 2022

Rating: 4 out of 5.

The second book in the SNAP agency series is full of action, adventure, and plenty of tension to keep the pages turning. Fans of romantic suspense will not want to miss Fatal Code!

Elinor Mitchell is an aerospace engineer that finds herself with a target on her back after her grandfather passes away and she ends up with some of his work from decades ago that have to do with a nuclear energy project. The project she is working on has connections to the work her grandfather did and it is very sensitive. SNAP agent and cryptologist Kekoa Young is assigned to help keep Elinor safe. Elinor is Kekoa’s neighbor, and he is tasked with using his close status to spy on her. The more they work together, the closer they become. When she finds out he has been spying on her, she is more hurt than when she found out someone was trying to kill her to get her grandfather’s work. Even after he betrayed her, she must trust him in order to keep her safe and her work away from the enemy.

This book was good but not quite as good as the first in my opinion. I enjoyed the interaction between Elinor and Kekoa, but some of the other minor characters just didn’t sit well with me. The only other thing that bothered me was some of the dialogue with Kekoa; with him being from Hawaii it got into that a little much for my taste. There was some good humor at times and the story flowed well making it a quick read, which was enjoyable. The book sets a pretty steady pace but does speed up at the end with a powerful conclusion that was satisfying and leaving me wanting more from the series. I can’t wait to see what happens next in the series. I recommend this book and series to those that love romantic suspense and have enjoyed the first in the series.

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