The Final Gambit

Author: Jennifer Lynn Barnes

Series: Inheritance Games #3

Publisher: Little Brown

Release Date: August 30, 2022

Rating: 4 out of 5.

The final book in The Inheritance Games series is good but not quite as good as the first two. A fantastic addition to one of my new favorite series.

Avery Kylie Grambs only has to survive a few more weeks living at the Hawthorne mansion in order to inherit billions. She has survived several attempts on her life and those she loves being targets as well. After a rough start, Avery has finally connected with the Hawthorne brothers and feels at home at Hawthorne House. As the day of her inheriting more money than any teenager has ever had approaches, more trouble pops up as a stranger arrives at the house in need of help. With each passing day, the danger increases, and Avery comes closer to losing all she is about to gain.

This book was really good; the problem was it followed the second in the series which was fantastic. The Hawthorne Legacy was so amazing that anything that followed it had zero to little chance of being anywhere close to as good. There isn’t much I can pinpoint that I didn’t care for in this book but nothing stood out as making it extraordinary. I thought the relationships were just a little dulled and the tension didn’t pull me in as much as the last. It is a great addition to the series and the ending is left open for more to come which is great fun for me as I loved the intricate nature of this series. The way that little moments from the beginning were brought full circle by the end of this book brought a smile to my face and showed me that Jennifer Lynn Barnes is an author that knows what she is doing. I would recommend this book to anyone that has read the first two in the series and wants to see what comes next.

The Hawthorne Legacy

Author: Jennifer Lynn Barnes

Series: Inheritance Games #2

Publisher: Little Brown

Release Date: August 2, 2022

Rating: 5 out of 5.

It’s not often a second book in a series is better than the first, especially when the first was amazing! The Hawthorne Legacy is a fantastic addition to The Inheritance Games.

After the bombshell ending of The Inheritance Games, Avery Grambs is ready to pick up the pieces and find the man everyone thinks is dead, Tobias Hawthorne the second. DNA tests have been run that show she is not related to the Hawthorne family but now she and two of the Hawthorne grandsons are on the hunt to figure out the clues left by their grandfather. Avery continues to be threatened and those that want what has been left to Avery are ready to do whatever it takes to get her out of the picture.

I can’t remember the last time I read a book that the second in the series was better than the first, and I loved the first in the series. The tension in this book was more intense and pulled me in tighter making me unable to put the book down and I read this in a single day. The story was intriguing and made me want to keep turning the pages. Avery is a special kind of protagonist: relatable, witty, and not afraid to play the games with the boys. There wasn’t much at all that I didn’t like about this book including the dangerous situations she found herself in, the mystery, and settings all had me pulled deep into the story. I love a book like this that is hard to put down and keeps me from wanting to do anything else. I recommend this book to readers that enjoy mystery and action, but make sure to read the first in the series before starting this one.

The Inheritance Games

Author: Jennifer Lynn Barnes

Series: Inheritance Games #1

Publisher: Little Brown

Release Date: July 27, 2021

Rating: 5 out of 5.

I am kicking myself for not reading this sooner!  Such a fun and engaging book; I can’t wait to read the rest of the series!

Avery Grambs wants nothing more than to survive high school, get a scholarship to collage and leave. She lives with her sister after her mother died and her father wants nothing to do with them. All that changes when Avery finds out she is suddenly a billionaire when Tobias Hawthorne died and left his entire fortune to her. The problem is Avery has no idea who Tobias Hawthorne is. To claim the money, she must move into the Hawthorne mansion and live for a year with the rest of the Hawthorne family. Tobias had four grandsons who are as equally smart and have a love for puzzles just like their grandfather did. All the Hawthorne men believe Avery is up to something to get their money and Avery is going to have to play along with the game that Tobias set up to survive the craziness that is her life now.

I had heard about The Inheritance Games a good bit over the last year and knew it was one I wanted to read. This book was so much fun to read; I read it in less than two days. The way the writing was done with short chapters and lots of cliff hangers made it hard to put down. I loved all the action, mystery drama and fantastic storyline. Avery is a wonderful protagonist with a storyline that makes her relatable and fun to read about; all her actions seemed exactly like the character would act and never once made me question her actions, or any of the other characters for that matter. This series makes me think of The Hunger Games and Divergent, those types of books are some of my favorites and make me enjoy reading. I ended last year in a bit of a slump not enjoying any of the books I had been reading. Being able to start the year of with a series like this is reminding me of the joy I get from reading and escaping into a great story. I recommend this book to readers that enjoy a fun mystery that is action packed and full of great characters and a fun start to what is shaping up to be a great series.

Treasure State

Author: C.J. Box

Series: Cassie Dewell Novel #6

Publisher: Minotaur Books

Release Date: September 27, 2022

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Took a little bit to get going, but once the story picked up steam, it never slowed down!

Cassie Dewell has been working as a private investigator and loves what she does. Her newest case has her on the hunt for a missing private investigator and a con man who could be behind his disappearance as well as stealing fortunes from several women. As she is looking into this case. she is contacted by a man claiming to be the mastermind behind a treasure hunt that has already cost five people their lives. Cassie finds herself in Anaconda, Montana with clues to who could be behind all she is investigating. Each clue brings about another strange twist in the case and Cassie finds herself in danger before all is solved hoping she can make it home and help find a treasure.

I didn’t realize this was the sixth book in the Cassie Dewell series when I started it. Even though I hadn’t read the others, I was still able to really enjoy this story. The start of the book was a little slow but once it got going, I couldn’t put it down. The story was fun and intriguing with the double mystery Cassie was investigating. I loved how all the pieces came together by the end, it all played out just perfectly and left me feeling great about the story and the way Box set it all up. Now that I’ve read this one, I am eager to go back and read the others in the series. Cassie is a great protagonist with a set of skills that helps her in solving her cases, she has enough flaws to make her a believable character though. This was a fun mystery without the fluff or other aspects that can make a book boring and hard to get through. I recommend this one to readers that enjoy suspense, mysteries, and a great fun setting.

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

Nine Liars

Author: Maureen Johnson

Series: Truly Devious #5

Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books

Release Date: December 27, 2022

Rating: 5 out of 5.

When it clicks, it clicks; that’s how it works for Stevie Bell and that’s what works in these novels! This is a great addition to a fun-filled series. Loved every page!

Stevie Bell is taking her detective skills abroad to try and solve a murder mystery from the 90’s. Her boyfriend, David, has been studying in London and invites Stevie for a visit. When she arrives, she learns of a cold case from his friend Izzy whose aunt was there when two of her friends were murdered. In 1995, nine friends who met at Cambridge University go to a country house and play hide-and-seek leaving two of them murdered with an ax. No one was ever charged, and the friends went on with their lives until Stevie arrives and starts investigating. Things start to get intense as Stevie uncovers clues and the gang must keep in touch with Ellingham Academy to stay with the schedule that has been approved for them. As she gets closer to uncovering what really happened, things start to fall apart for Stevie and she doesn’t know what to do next.

Stevie Bell and the Truly Devious series gets better with each book. I have found myself loving the mysteries and fun dynamics of these stories. I have only one negative about these books, there is an aspect of LGBTQ throughout them all. As an adult reading these I can deal with but with this being marketed as young adult I don’t like that aspect advertised to younger readers. The story is fantastic, the characters are true to how I would see them acting in the progression of each book and the mysteries unfold beautifully. Not only is Stevie dealing with the case to solve but also trying to deal with the aspect of her boyfriend being in London and how things have changed in their time apart.

So many great aspects of this story that kept the pages turning quickly and hard to put down. Stevie Bell is the new age Nancy Drew and the cases she keeps coming across call to her and with the help of her friends she can help solve cases that no one else has been able to solve. My favorite thing about this series is the way they are so different from many of the other books I have read. So many books these days are a formula and the same old thing, these books are very different and entertaining. The story is mostly told from the point of view of Stevie but also at times shows what happened in the past, this back and forth helps with the story and for the reader to understand. I recommend this book to adult readers who love a good mystery with great characters and fun stories. I received a complimentary copy of this title from the publisher.  The views and opinions expressed within are my own.

Dark Fall

Authors: Brian Andrews & Jeffrey Wilson

Series: The Shepherd Series #3

Publisher: Tyndale House

Release Date: November 8, 2022

Rating: 5 out of 5.

The powerhouse duo of Brian Andrews and Jeffrey Wilson have done it again with Dark Fall! One of the most action-packed, adrenaline laced thrillers I have read this year.

The Shepherds are called in on a mission after a village in Peru is found in ashes leading them to question if it is from a human weapon or some higher power. Jedidiah Johnson is the leader of the group and as they head to investigate rumors of a new energy-based weapon, tensions mount as the weapon is unlike anything any of them have ever dealt with. The team heads to Hong Kong to try and find a scientist that helped create the weapon but what they learn from Dr. Zhao is that things are worse than they imagined.

Dark Fall is the third book in The Shepherd Series book and each time I pick one of these books up I shouldn’t be surprised by how amazing they are but am always blown away by the writing of Andrews and Wilson. The way these two come together to write these military thrillers keep me on the edge of my seat and up way past my bedtime. Jedidiah Johnson is the perfect protagonist to lead these stories. In a way he reminds me of Hondo from SWAT, or Gibbs from NCIS; a great leader and all-around fantastic character.

Each book in the series has proven to get better and better with more explosive plots, characters that pull at the heartstrings and so much more. This story had all the right points and the best tension I have read in a very long time with none of the normal drudgery that so many books have included lately. There was not a scene or chapter that didn’t feel right or pulled me out of the story. This is a very different kind of book than a lot out right now and I love the feel of the unknown coming from what is written within these pages. I recommend this book for fans of fast action, military, and supernatural thrillers. I do also recommend reading the whole series to get the most out of the story.

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

Big Bad

Author: Lily Anderson

Publisher: Hyperion Avenue

Release Date: September 27, 2022

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Any fans of Buffy The Vampire Slayer show will not want to miss this fun addition to the Buffyverse!

Sunnydale, California is home to the Hellmouth and the evil mayor has put up a sun-shade to make the town permanently dark for all the evil to run rampant in the newly named Demondale. Being Bad is now easier than ever. Most of the humans have left and those that remain try to either avoid the monsters or join them. Jonathan and Andrew are trying to work their way up the world of evil and end up needing the help of vengeance demon Anya who is looking for purpose. All their lives are turned upside down when Buffy the Vampire Slayer shows up ready to destroy all the evil in town. Jonathan, Andrew, and Anya work together with other demons in town including Angelus and Spike to stop the slayer before she can stop them.

It’s probably been fifteen years since I have sat and watched Buffy the Vampire Slayer but when I picked up this book and started reading all those hours watching came back to me. All the characters and storylines are a little different than the show and it was interesting seeing the characters in a different role. This is not a book with a ton of depth, but still enjoyable. I read this quickly and enjoyed the story taking me back to my younger days enjoying losing myself in some fun fantasy fiction that required nothing more or less from me. Anyone that has been a fan of Buffy and all that surrounds it will enjoy this novel.

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

What She Found

Author: Robert Dugoni

Series: Tracy Crosswhite #9

Publisher: Thomas & Mercer

Release Date: August 23, 2022

Rating: 4 out of 5.

The next installment in the Tracy Crosswhite is another great read that fans of the series will love.

Now that she oversees the cold case division, Tracy Crosswhite just solved a major case and is looking to solve another. She is asked to investigate the disappearance of investigative reporter Lisa Childress who went missing almost 25 years ago. Lisa’s daughter, Anita, has asked Tracy to help find the truth no matter where it leads. As soon as Tracy starts digging into the past with this case, she finds evidence that proves there is much more to the case than anyone could have imagined. It doesn’t take long to figure out that Tracy is going to be pushed to her limit and her loyalties.

The Tracy Crosswhite series has been one of my favorites since the very first book. This newest edition was a fun look at Tracy in her new role overseeing the cold cases which brings her all the way back to the disappearance of her sister. Each of the characters in this series are great to see grow and develop. Traci is one of my all-time favorite female leads to read about. This book had a good premise, good characters, and an overall good flow, until the end, which felt a little rushed. It was the ending that should have played out but for this kind of novel it left me feeling a little underwhelmed. Dugoni is a fantastic writer but this addition to the series fell a little flat. I still give it at least 4 stars but it is hard for anything to stack up to My Sister’s Grave. I will for sure be reading the next in the series and recommend this to fans of the series and those that enjoy suspense thrillers.

Fields of Fire

Author: Ryan Steck

Publisher: Tyndale

Release Date: August 2, 2022

Rating: 5 out of 5.

If you are a fan of military type thrillers, Fields of Fire will blow you away with the action, suspense and over the top drama in this fantastic debut by Ryan Steck!

Marine Raider Matthew Redd is heading to be deployed on a top-secret mission when he stops to help a stranded motorist on the side of the road only to wake up hours later missing the mission that his team is all been killed on. Now he is having to take a deal to leave the Corps to avoid being arrested for treason. It is the only life he has known and loved and now he must return to his home town in Montana when he receives a message from his adoptive father saying he might be in trouble. When he gets home, he is too late, his dad is dead and he is left with more questions than answers. The more he digs into it all, the harder it is to know who to trust and what has really been going on while he was away serving his country.

When I started reading Fields of Fire, I didn’t realize this was the first novel by Ryan Steck. For a debut novel, Steck did an outstanding job of creating characters and putting them in situations that kept me on the edge of my seat. Matthew Redd is a great main character with a lot of heart, hurt and determination to try and do what is right no matter what it costs him. For the longest time while reading this, I wasn’t sure where the story would end up, and by the time it all came together, I was able to connect the dots back to the beginning and it all fit together nicely. Each character had a purpose and was set in place at just the right time to move the story along at the right speed. As the story progressed, so did the tension; by about the halfway point I found myself unable to put the book down until I found out what was going to happen. This is set as the first in a series and I can’t wait to see what comes next for these characters. I recommend this book to anyone that loves a great suspense thriller with fun characters and the start of a new series.

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

Upgrade

Author: Blake Crouch

Publisher: Ballantine Books

Length: 352 Pages

Release Date: July 12, 2022

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Blake Crouch never disappoints with his mind-bending thrillers!

Logan Ramsay works for the gene protection agency (GPA) to thwart the plans of scientists who intend to modify genes for personal gain.  Logan’s mother was the matriarch of gene research and modification before her life’s work to end world hunger turned into the “Great Starvation” causing a sizeable part of the world’s population to die off.  One night at a raid in Denver, he triggers an IED in a house’s basement that was packed with a gene modifier.  At first everything comes back clean, but before long, Logan starts to notice that his intelligence is enhancing as is his body structure.  Logan knows that if the GPA finds out that his genome has been modified, he will be isolated and studied until they are confident they can contain what he will become.  But Logan also learns that what happened to him is just the first step in someone’s attempt to upgrade the human race so that they don’t face extinction in the future. 

If you pick up a Blake Crouch book, you know that you are going to be in for a wild ride that will likely result in sleepless nights while reading the book and after reading the book because you keep thinking about it for months.  Upgrade was no exception to his formula.  However, he changed tactics a bit and strayed from his usual focus on quantum entanglement to human gene modification.  He has also moved from being more current day to a time of a dystopian world after disasters. 

If you’ve researched much into genetics, you will find quite a bit of the same acronyms show up in his book.  Even if you haven’t, Crouch does a great job of giving readers just enough information to follow the technical jargon without having to have a biomedical degree just to keep up.  He never gets into the weeds, but makes it feel like you are reading a medical thriller.  The suspense is always top notch and its easy to connect with the main protagonist from the beginning.  I always look forward to his books.

There is quite a bit of foul language (understandable from the characters) but doesn’t take away from the storyline at all.  If you love suspense thrillers that will leave you thinking for weeks to months afterwards, Upgrade should be on your shelf!