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.

Without Warning

without warningAuthor: Joel C. Rosenberg

Series: J.B. Collins #3

Publisher: Tyndale

Release Date: March 14, 2017

Rating: 5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

Will ISIS strike on American soil? This is Rosenberg at his best!

J. B. Collins and Yael were part of a team that successfully rescued the President of the United States. Now back in the US for two months, J.B. has been recovering and the President has been launching air strikes and driving ISIS back out of Iraq, but J.B. feels it is not enough. He wants the President to go after the leader, kill the snake by cutting off the head. Then the unthinkable happens.  At the State of the Union address, mortar shells start hitting the capitol building.  A full attack has been unleashed against the President, vice-president, and all the members of congress.  Although the President survives, several members of congress do not.  J. B. expects retaliation, but the President seems to be in denial.  What’s worse is now the attack has turned personal when the terrorist find J.B. and his brother Matt’s family.  If the president is not going to stop ISIS, maybe J.B. can do just that.

This was an incredible ending to the latest trilogy by Rosenberg. All three books flow seamlessly together and can easily be devoured in a short period of time.  The way he writes current events into a novel can be truly frightening.  Suddenly the ideas he has don’t seem so farfetched.  I was glad to see that J.B.’s personal struggles were finally resolved in this book and that he had peace.  I can definitely say that I didn’t expect the ending.  That made me feel like it was cut a little short, even though it is the longest book in the trilogy by far.  I was also really impressed with how Matt handle his suffering.  I thought he might have gone into depression, but he stayed strong throughout.  I was also really disappointed in the romance between Yael and J.B., but given the ending, it is probably for the best.

With high tension, fast-paced suspense, and well developed characters, this trilogy needs to be read by all!

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

The First Hostage

The First HostageAuthor: Joel C. Rosenberg

Series: J.B. Collins #2

Publisher: Tyndale

Release Date: December 29, 2015

Rating: 5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

Could the President of the United States really be kidnapped by ISIS?

After ISIS has attacked the peace summit in Jordan that would bring peace to Israel and Palestine, the President of the United States has suddenly gone missing. In an attempt to elude the attackers, the President was rushed off by the secret service to get on air force one.  J.B. Collins was pulled alongside the Jordanian President who managed to get to the airport in an attempt to board the plane as well.  Only one problem, air force one is gone, and the President is not one it.  Unfortunately, the airport has been hit with sarin gas, which killed all those who where present.  Not long after the attack, a new video surfaces showing Abu Kalid, head of ISIS, with the President saying that American has 48 hours to turn Islam or the President will be beheaded.  Can he be saved?  If so, how?

If Rosenberg was wanting to ratchet up the suspense in his novel, he certainly found the right formula. The next book in the series picks up immediately where the previous left off.  Fortunately, I read them back to back so I didn’t have to wait months like everyone else.  Rosenberg continues to combine tension and suspense and play up the romance between J.B. and Yael.  You really wonder if this could happen, but the way Rosenberg lays it out, it really seems like it could.  I’m starting to get a little scared of what he is writing because it really seems believable.  What could possibly happen next?

The Third Target

The Third TargetAuthor: Joel C. Rosenberg

Series: J.B. Collins #1

Publisher: Tyndale

Release Date: February 6, 2015

Rating: 5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

ISIS is growing fast and we have no idea where they will strike next, or do we?

J. B. Collins is a very successful foreign war correspondent working for the New York Times. He followed in the footsteps of his grandfather who did some pretty foolish things. However, J.B. may have just trumped anything his grandfather could have ever done by taking an invitation to meet in person with one of the leaders of ISIS in Syria. Already a torn country ravaged by its civil war, Syria has become a stronghold for many followers of the Al-Qaeda split off and are very dangerous.  J. B. gets his interview and manages to safely get away, but not before he can confirm that ISIS has procured chemical weapons.  But will his interview put a target on his back once his story goes public?  Or will ISIS keep him around as long as they can use him?

Rosenberg is well known for his end times novels and this is no exception. He keeps the novel on a fast pace with lots of action in a very realistic current events setting.  J.B. embodies everything that Rosenberg typically has for a main character.  He is successful.  He has a job that puts him in the line of fire for current events.  And he is not a Christian, yet.  But he has people in his life that urge him to give his life to Christ.

I really enjoyed this book. The current events make you think about what could happen today.  The tension keeps you moving through the book at a fast pace.  And the potential love interest makes you root for the romance within the suspense.  I can’t wait to read the next one!

Almost Missed You

Almost Missed YouAuthor: Jessica Strawser

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

Release Date: March 28, 2017

Rating: 5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

A wonderful debut novel that will leave the reader guessing at every turn and wondering if we ever really know the people we have in our lives.

Violet and Finn’s relationship has been one people talk about as the couple that was meant to be. They came to be together by not one, but several coincidences.  A chance meeting on a beach, another with a note on a website to find each other again, and friends that connect them as well.  Three years into their marriage Violet thinks things are perfect.  They have a little boy named Bear, whom they both love and are all going on a family vacation back to the beach.  One afternoon as she is relaxing on the beach, Finn offers to take Bear back to the hotel for his nap so she can relax.  As the afternoon wears on, she packs her things and heads back to the room to find it empty, no Finn, no Bear.  All of the boy’s things are gone, it’s like they were never there to begin with.  Violet finds herself living her worst nightmare and starts to wonder if she ever really knew the man she married.

Caitlin and Finn have been best friends for years. When he takes off with Bear it is Caitlin he runs to for help, demanding she help hide them or he will reveal a secret that could destroy her family.  Caitlin is faced with a difficult decision, help her longest, closest friend to protect her secret, or do what she knows deep down is the right thing to do.

This story is told from alternating viewpoints of Violet, Finn and Caitlin and back and forth from present to past. It is rare that an author can pull something like that off, but Jessica Strawser did an outstanding job with Almost Missed You.  For a debut novel, this was outstanding.  Rarely have I read a book that made this kind of emotional connection, was a thrilling page turner, and made me think so hard about the possibility of this actually happening in my own life or the lives of people I know.  It was incredibly easy to see the depth of love all of these characters had for their children and also the hard choices they were facing with each step they took.  Violet lived every mother’s worst fear, losing a child, and more astounding to someone they thought they could trust.  Finn was the epitome of someone in need of help dealing with pent up issues keeping him from moving forward with his life.  And Caitlin is stuck in the middle.  She knows about Finn’s past and doesn’t want to betray him in any way but can’t stand to see Violet hurting.  I think the reason this story worked so well was the fact it was told from so many different viewpoints.  We got to see more of what was happening compared to if it was just from one character’s viewpoint.

I love finding new authors that I will want to stick with for years to come and I am happy to say I think I found one in Strawser. I recommend this book to all those that enjoy a good mystery that is tight with emotional connections that will keep you turning the pages well past bedtime.

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

The Roanoke Girls

The Roanoke GirlsAuthor: Amy Engel

Publisher: Crown

Release Date: March 7, 2017

Rating: 3 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

Disturbing and creepy. That’s all I’m saying.

Lane Roanoke is fifteen years old and her mom has just committed suicide, which is really not surprising to her as she has been threatening it for most of her life. What is surprising is that her mom’s parents want Lane to come live with them in Kansas, which is vastly different than New York City.  Once she gets there, she is greeted by her cousin Allegra and they become like sisters, even look like sisters too.  Her grandparents are filthy rich from oil and she becomes one of the Roanoke girls, which pretty much gets you whatever you want.  However, one day she discovers the secret that drives all Roanoke girls either to run or to die.  She runs away and never looks back.

Eleven years later, Allegra has gone missing and Lane is called back to Roanoke. Even though time has passed, it feels the same as soon as she pulls up.  Everyone she left is still there and her messed up family is still the same.  But with Allegra gone, sights are now set on Lane to take her place as the next Roanoke girl.

This book was very disturbing and creepy too. I can’t delve too much into it because it would give away the context to the readers, but needless to say, this is not what I was expecting in some big Kansas farmhouse.  Still gives me the heebie jeebies.  One point that I do have to make is that I can tell this author has written YA novels previously.  The flow and characterizations still tended to show up as YA, which I actually like.  However, what I don’t like is when there is a great YA author that decides to go into mainstream adult fiction and it reads like a YA novel with lots of profanity and sex, which is a bit of the case here.  I’ve seen this happen with lots of great authors in the YA genre.  I like the YA better because it is usually cleaner.  I understand that this book had to have sex since that is the pretense of the whole things, but the profanity could have been cut way back.  This is why I only recommend this book to mature older readers.

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