A Crime of Passion Fruit

Crime of passionAuthor: Ellie Alexander

Series: A Bakeshop Mystery #6

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

Release Date: June 27, 2017

Rating: 5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

A delectable treat that readers are sure to fall in love with before the end of the first chapter.

In the middle of a major remodel and expansion at Torte, Jules Capshaw is trying not to get caught up in the madness and stress. When her estranged husband contacts her begging for her to come to the cruise ship he works on and take over as a temporary pastry chef, she wonders if it could be just the distraction she needs.  She is hesitant to be back in her old life and routine with Carlos but finds it hard to resist the trip.  Before she can settle into the ship, she finds a dead body onboard and the trip takes a sour turn.  Jules is knee deep in the investigation with a killer on the loose and a mystery to be solved.

I stumbled upon the Bakeshop Mysteries earlier this year and must say I have been pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoy them. This is the type of book you can sit by the fire or curl up on the beach to read and just get lost in the story.  It is the epitome of a cozy mystery. A Crime of Passion Fruit is another great addition to the series.  I loved taking the main characters, Jules, her mom, and the professor to a new setting on board the cruise ship and solving the new mystery.  The description of the cruise ship and how working in the kitchen and feeding such a large number of people on a daily basis was done so well I felt I was there, and I have never been on a cruise.  At first I was thinking the mystery was going to be hard to follow, being out of their normal setting and so many new characters, but everything fell into place in just the right way and at just the right time.  Ellie Alexander has figured out the perfect recipe for a great fun read that is hard to put down and even harder to forget.  I highly recommend this book to anyone that enjoys a good fun mystery that will keep them thinking and even give them a laugh or two at just the right time.

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

Twelve Days

twelve daysAuthor: Steven Barnes

Publisher: Tor Books

Release Date: June 27, 2017

Rating: 4.5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

This is a book that is hard to break down into just one or two genres; it dives deep into so many more aspects that will leave readers thinking long after the last page.

When world leaders, criminals and others start dying all around the world mysteriously, everyone starts to panic. A new terrorist group tells of more deaths to come and a suspected apocalypse.  One family finds itself in the middle of the chaos.  Olympia Dorsey, a journalist from Atlanta, and her two kids are trying to heal after being abandoned by her husband and their father.  Hannibal is autistic and Olympia has tried everything she can think of to help her young son.  Terry Nicolas lives across the street and has had a relationship with Olympia but nothing ever worked out.  He has reunited with his wartime buddies to carry out a risky mission to get justice for a crime against them and also get them set for life if the score is a success.  After going to a special session at Hannibal’s care center and witnessing a very unusual speaker and martial artist, Madame Gupta, Olympia sees something change in her son and hopes this is the answer she has been looking for.  While all this is going on, the death toll continues to rise and society is on the brink of chaos.  Olympia and Terry must decide if the choices they are about to make will be worth the sacrifices.

Twelve Days is a book with a very interesting premise and very entertaining.  I found myself lost at a few points for not paying close enough attention and had to go back and reread a few segments.  However, the writing is clear as long as the reader pays attention.  The way the danger was brought about was very clever and was written well.  There is much more to this story than good vs. evil.  There is a clear theme of family, forgiveness and even redemption.  I liked how Barnes brought multiple aspects together to weave the story in just the right way.  There is a lot to be liked about this story and I think there is something for almost any reader to take away.  The characters themselves are well developed and the plot gets wrapped up nice at the end.  Not a happy ending that is thrown together, but something that actually makes sense for the story and the characters.  I recommend this to readers that enjoy a good thriller with a bit of paranormal thrown in.

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

The Cover Story

The Cover StoryAuthor: Deb Richardson-Moore

Series: Branigan Powers Mystery #2

Publisher: Lion Fiction

Release Date: June 27, 2017

Rating: 5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

Another crazy case brings Branigan Powers back to try and solve another crime before others get hurt.

When reporter Branigan Powers hears of a fatal car crash involving two college girls coming home to celebrate the holidays, she, and everyone else, think it is just an accident until the sole survivor informs them it was anything but. She doesn’t remember much from the accident, but Charlie swears it was an old-fashioned hearse that forced them off the road.  Branigan heads to the college to see if she can uncover clues as to why they were forced from the road.  Her search leads her to fraternity row and pledge parties that have gone too far.  Back once again to help her with her case is Malachi Martin.  Even though he is homeless, he is able to look beyond what most see and uncover details that will help solve another case for Branigan.

The next book in the Branigan Powers book is just as witty, delightful and fun as the previous. The characters bring their own pizazz to the story that keep the story flowing at a great pace.  I absolutely loved each of the books in the series and was excited to see a new installment come out.  This is the kind of story you can sit down and just enjoy; it is clean, it is witty, and it is well written.  Moore has a way with these characters, especially Malachi who is back and able to see what others can’t.  This is a Christian mystery series but it is not at all preachy and will appeal to all audiences.  The reader gets to venture back into this world that Moore has created and get to dive even deeper.  With that being said, it isn’t one that you would have to read the previous books to enjoy and know what all is going on in the story.  I highly recommend this to any and all readers that enjoy a good cozy mystery.

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

Every Deadly Kiss

Every Deadly KissAuthor: Steven James

Series: The Bowers FIles #2

Publisher: Berkley

Release Date: July 4, 2017

Rating: 5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

If you have never read a Steven James novel, I suggest you start now with this one. It will keep you up at night and have you looking twice and double locking the doors.

FBI Special Agent Patrick Bowers is back and ready to solve a series of murders taking place in Detroit. Not only are there murders to be solved, there is also a terrorist plot that is more than a century old making it one of the toughest cases Patrick has ever had to tackle.  When Patrick is called in by his old girlfriend to help on a case, he questions briefly if it will affect his current relationship but tries to convince himself it is just for work and can be kept professional.  When he arrives, he finds a connection between the murders and his former lover.  With the murders continuing and the threat of a bioweapon attack increasing, Patrick finds himself digging deep to solve all the clues before it is too late.

I have been telling people for several years that Steven James is the best there is. The way he can spin a story and keep you on the edge of your seat is better than anyone out there and he is at the top of his game with Every Deadly Kiss.  The amount of time and research he puts into these books shows as you read. This is not the kind of book you can skim and still get everything out of it you need to understand the story.  Every page, paragraph, and sentence is full of information that is vital to the story and the way James gets that information across will keep you on the edge of your seat and up way past bedtime.  With this book set as another prequel to the original Bowers files, it is interesting to see the relationships develop between Patrick and the other key characters that we have grown to love throughout the years.  Patrick still has his quirks and we see them develop more into what they eventually become.  For me, a Steven James novel is always going to be at my “Top of the Year” list.  There is just something about his writing that resonates with me more than almost any other author I read.  Unlike his earlier books, this one has a bit more language and adult content, not a lot compared to what many authors like to put in, but still a little more than I’m used to from him.  With that being said, it completely fit in with the characters and how they would react with something that they would actually say.  That’s what I want, the character to act as they naturally would and every character James writes in his novels fulfills their role. That is an incredible difficult task but one that he pulls off with ease.  I cannot recommend a Steven James novel highly enough and Every Deadly Kiss is no exception.

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

The Right Side

Right SideAuthor: Spencer Quinn

Publisher: Atria Books

Release Date: June 27, 2017

Rating: 3.5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

A military thriller with heart and soul for human and animal lover alike.

LeAnne Hogan has been to war in Afghanistan and made it back, almost in one piece. She is hesitant to reenter the world after coming home missing an eye and half her face scarred.  It helps that she doesn’t remember most of the trauma that almost killed her, but also troubling because she thinks her injury and the death of her comrades could be her fault.  While at the hospital. she inadvertently becomes close to her roommate, Marci who dies unexpectedly.  LeAnne now finds herself driving across the country with no destination in mind and no real future.  Without meaning to, she finds herself in Marci’s hometown and discovers that Marci’s eight-year-old daughter has gone missing.  As she partners with a stray dog that has claimed her as his own, they begin their own search for the missing girl and begin to discover secrets no one wants revealed.

The Right Side is a book that is going to be perfect for some people and completely turn others off.  I found myself at both ends of the spectrum.  The story itself was very compelling and the relationships that were formed, especially between LeAnne and her four-legged friend, were just right.  On the other hand, I had a lot of trouble getting past the vulgar language.  I’m not a fan of language in books unless it is done just right.  There have been a few authors of the years that have had a way with their writing that inserting language in the story me see right past it.  I wasn’t able to do that here.  I know LeAnne is a soldier and that is typical of how they would talk, but it till didn’t fit in with the character enough for me to enjoy.  I did however enjoy her drive and desire to help do the right thing, not only with the missing daughter of her roommate but also with clearing up who was responsible for her getting hurt.  LeAnne is the kind of character you want to route for and see come out on top.  The fact that she is a broken protagonist makes her the kind every reader can get behind and enjoy reading about.

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

I Found You

I found youAuthor: Lisa Jewell

Publisher: Atria Books

Release Date: April 25, 2017

Rating: 4 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

I almost gave up on this, but found it a worthwhile read by the end.

A back and forth story between time and characters that weaves their stories together. Set in a British seaside town, single mom Alice finds a man sitting on the beach with no memory of who he is or how he got there.  Against her better judgement, she invites him inside and ties to help him.  In London, Lily Monrose is trying to find her husband of three weeks who has disappeared.  The police are saying his passport is fake making her think she never really knew him.  The scenes set in the past explore Gray and Kirsty who are on vacation with their parents.  They meet a young man who quickly becomes infatuated with Kirsty, which makes Gray uneasy.

At about a third to halfway through this book, I almost gave up but decided to keep going. Even though it wasn’t the best overall, the last third of the book was really well done with the suspense brought to an even higher level.  The back and forth between timelines and characters got a little confusing, especially with one having lost his memory.  It can be difficult to juggle multiple narratives but Jewell did a pretty good job.  At first it can seem a little out of sorts and confusing but it all ties up in the end nicely.  I was a little worried at first that it wouldn’t tie together, but Jewell was able to tie up all loose ends without causing me to eye roll (which has happened on more than one occasion with more than one author).  If I hadn’t finished I would have only given this a two star but having stuck with it to the end I will give it four.  I recommend this to readers that enjoy a good mystery that will make you think.

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

Cycle One: The Invitation

InvitationAuthors: Bill Myers, Frank Peretti, Angela Hunt, & Alton Gansky

Series: Harbingers #1

Publisher: Bethany House

Release Date: April 4, 2017

Rating: 4 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

An intriguing tale of the supernatural by four of today’s top Christian suspense writers makes this a must read!

Broken into segments, the first is The Call by Bill Myers told from the viewpoint of a street hustling tattoo artist that sees the future and uses that to help a student at a psychic institute.  He is being trained to use his gifts to help world leaders but at a very high cost.  The next segment is by Frank Peretti called The Haunted.  Peretti dives deep into the darkness within us all in this supernatural case of murder centered within a mysterious house.  Third is The Sentinels by Angela Hunt which showcases a strange phenomenon of animals around the world mysteriously dying.  The fourth and final section is by Alton Gansky called The Girl.  It is a strange tale of a young girl found in the snow barefoot and holding a piece of parchment type paper.  After careful investigation, it appears she is not of this world and someone wants to kill her.  Brought together they make the first cycle in the Harbingers Series.

Invitation is a unique blend of several of the top Christian authors doing what they do best.  I must admit before this I hadn’t read anything by several of the authors.  I know Frank Peretti’s work and that is what drew me to this.  Oddly enough, his section was probably my least favorite.  When I first heard of the premise of this story I thought there were several ways it might work out.  Each author took a character and told the story from their point of view.  It wasn’t the same story over and over, instead it was a continuation.  When one section is over you go to the next character further in time.  This left me with several questions for how each section played out and how I thought it should have played out.  Overall the story itself was very interesting, even though I do still have some questions.  Since this is the first installment, my questions might still be answered in the next book.  At least that is what I am hoping.

With each author taking a section, it was clearly noticeable the way the writing changed with who the new point of view character was and that we were in a different story. I don’t want to say it was an exceptional story, it could have been, but fell short at several points for me.  With that said though, I still recommend this book to readers that love a supernatural story with suspense on every page.  Each author brought his and her own personal touches to their section making it unique.  The first section was the best to me and easily drew me into the story.  I enjoyed that so much I stuck with the entire thing and am glad I did.  I can’t wait to see what comes next.

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