I Know You Know

I know you knowAuthor: Gilly MacMillan

Publisher: William Morrow Books

Release Date: September 18, 2018

Rating: 4 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

A gripping tale of a decades old murder and present schemes to find the truth by some and keep it hidden by others.

It’s been twenty years since the brutal murder of eleven-year-old Charlie Paige and Scott Ashby. Even though a man was convicted of the crime, there have always been questions regarding his actual guilt. The boys childhood friend Cody Swift feels guilty for not being with his friends the night they were killed and has decided to do his own investigation into what happened. Not everyone is happy about his investigation. Cody starts a podcast and puts up recordings of interviews he has with people who were close to the boys and involved in the case. When another body is found in the same location the boys were murdered at, another investigation is opened and finds the cases linked together. Detective John Fletcher, the man who worked the original case, decides to open his old files and dig into the past to see if it helps solve the present case and possibly put his own career on the line while doing it.

The concept of this book was extremely intriguing and overall I did enjoy it but had a rough time staying with it. My biggest problem is it is far too wordy.  When I open a book and see very little dialogue along with massive amounts of narrative it is hard to keep going, it makes the story read much slower.  As we hit the moments of dialogue, things start to pick up and it did here as well bringing the story to life.  There was a lot of repetitiveness when Cody was doing his podcast; things that could have been mentioned once and then not brought up again every time the podcast was written about.  Switching between past and present can be confusing for readers but it seemed to work well here. Even the back and forth with point of views worked well in this story, the readers needed to see all of these different sides to the case in order to follow along. I will say the ending surprised me, just as I thought things would be wrapped up there was another little twist that brought the story up a notch.  I recommend this book to readers that enjoy a good mystery without being able to figure everything out before it happens and being pleasantly surprised by the little things that happen throughout.

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

Burden of Proof

Burden of ProofAuthor: DiAnn Mills

Series: FBI Rapid Response #1

Publisher: Tyndale

Release Date: October 9, 2018

Rating: 5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

DiAnn Mills has been a top suspense writer for years, but this may be her best work yet.

April Ramos has been a negotiator with the FBI for years and it is work she is proud to do, but it also takes a toll on her. When she isn’t able to talk a man out of committing suicide, she feels maybe she isn’t doing what she is meant to do. With no time to process what she is been through, a woman shoves a crying baby into her arms and runs off. A man claiming to be the child’s father takes April and the baby at gunpoint making her put her skills to use once again. Jason, the baby’s father, tells April a story of how he is being framed for murder and his child was kidnapped. The more April learns about what is happening in this little town, the more she believes everything Jason is telling her and discovers just how deep the sinister connections run. April has to determine if helping Jason is worth risking her career and possibly her life.

I have been reading DiAnn Mills for years and there is something different about her most recent work, Buden of Proof. Her writing has changed, the way she delivers the story and the tension throughout is all so much better than ever.  April instantly connected with me and her desire to help others made her a protagonist for everyone to connect with. The way that Mills was able to weave the complex story together and make each character and their actions relevant to the overall story was excellent writing and something that will set her apart from the many story tellers out there.  It was not only the character connections that I enjoyed but also the extra tension throughout the story, especially the end. In her previous books, I found the ending very predictable but not here.  This story surprised me up until the very last pages. Readers will enjoy not only the page turning action but also the heart of the story.  April is struggling with her faith and even with everything Jason has gone through he tries to stay strong and help April come closer to God. I don’t know what has changed for Mills to make her writing so much better but I hope she keeps it up. I recommend this book for anyone looking an amazing read with a heart to the story and characters to connect with.

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

Under My Skin

Under my skinAuthor: Lisa Unger

Publisher: Park Row Publishing

Release Date: October 2, 2018

Rating: 4 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

A griping suspense thriller where just when you think you know what is happening you really have no idea!

What do you do when you can’t tell if your nightmares are really that or truly memories? When Poppy’s husband Jack was murdered while going for a run, her world came crashing down.  She couldn’t handle it and disappeared for days only to turn up confused and wearing clothes she didn’t remember putting on and no memory of where she had been.  While she is trying to figure out what happened to her during those missing days and what happened to her husband, more nightmares plague her causing her to fear for her own sanity and safety.  She starts to feel as if she is being followed and wonders if the person responsible for killing Jack could now be after her.  Is finding out the truth worth it?  Or will it even be something she can handle?

Under My Skin did something few books are able to do for me: up until the very end I didn’t guess who the killer was and was pleasantly surprised by the outcome.  I tore through this book because I was so eager to get to the end and see how that was going to play out.  I thought the author did a really good job building up the mystery while keeping the reader guessing about who was a good guy and who might be the bad guy.  Poppy and the relationship she had with Layla, her best friend, and the other characters showed such different sides of her personality and made it a fun game to try and figure out what was really going on.  The more the people around her push to stay close and figure out what is happening with her the more Poppy runs away.  Is she running away from them?  Or running away from the truth?  This was a good read for several reasons: it kept me guessing and showed a good character arc throughout the story.  The language and content is for a more mature audience and that is where I would recommend for readers to really enjoy.

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

Every Wicked Man

Every Wicked ManAuthor: Steven James

Series: The Bowers Files: The New York Years #3

Publisher: Berkley Publishers

Release Date: September 4, 2018

Rating: 5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

For the first time, I found myself crying at the end of a Steven James book! Every Wicked Man is the final book in the Bowers files and I am sad to see this series end.  Steven James has created one of the best series out there and fans will love the way things come to an end.

Patrick Bowers is called in on a case when a senator’s son commits suicide and the video is shown live online. It turns out this is not the first video shown online like this. As Patrick looks deeper into things, he discovers a mystery that ties into a centuries old code that might be the key to solving his case.  Not only is Patrick having to deal with one of his most difficult cases ever, he is also having family issues.  His new wife is off on a spiritual retreat and he feels she is keeping something from him.  Tessa, his new stepdaughter, is as obstante as ever and he is doing his best to find a balance of being an FBI agent and a family man.

When it comes to finding a good book that is hard to put down and keeps the pages turning faster than you would have thought possible, there is on one better than Steven James. I have loved the Bowers Files since the very beginning and am sad to see it come to an end. I understand that all good things must come to an end and this is a very fitting end.  We get to see the origin of how Patrick really becomes a father and what happens to his wife that shapes him into the agent he becomes in the later Bowers Files.  Almost all of our favorite characters are back, Tessa, Christy, Calvin, and Ralph.  These origin stories have been very enjoyable as a way to better understand the team we have grown to love.  Steven James has a way of drawing readers in and making them connect with the story and characters like no other author I have ever read.  It is such a rare occurrence to find a book series that spans eleven books and is still as good if not better than when it began.  Some may look at the book being over five hundred pages and feel a little turned off but it reads faster than most half its size and with his writing style James moves the story along smoothly.  I recommend this to readers that enjoy a great suspense read by one of the very best authors ever.

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

Jane Doe

Jane DoeAuthor: Victoria Helen Stone

Publisher: Lake Union

Release Date: August 1, 2018

Reviewer: Jennifer S. Roman

Jane returns to her college town of Minneapolis after taking a leave of absence from her high-paying and impressive job as a corporate lawyer in Kuala Lumpur for one reason only: to get revenge on the man she blames for her best friend Meg’s suicide.  A self-diagnosed sociopath, Jane has changed her entire personality in order to befriend and eventually seduce Steven, Meg’s ex.  Instead of dark hair, a power suit, and a strong, confident personality, Jane turns into a floral and lace dress wearing Christian girl who wants to do anything to please her man.  She quickly grabs Steven’s attention at her new data entry job at the insurance company where Steve works, and soon, he is asking her out on dates.  Once she gains Steve’s love and trust, Jane is able to put her plan of destroying Steven’s life into motion.  The only complication is Luke, a boyfriend from college, who immediately recognizes the Jane he knew back in the day.  He wants to renew their relationship, and Jane starts seeing him again for fun.  The problem is, she’s falling in love with him, too.

Rarely have I come across a book, movie, or TV show in which the main character wants to get revenge on someone and actually goes through with it.  Usually, the character comes to a moral epiphany, or the plan gets thwarted, or something else happens that prevents the revenge from taking place.  I was pleasantly surprised to see some form of revenge- whether the original plan or not I won’t say- for once.  It’s refreshing to see someone plan and carry out the plan when nobody gets hurt in real life.

Jane has self-diagnosed as a sociopath because she cannot feel empathy for others.  She talks about her struggle to fit in as a functioning member of society when she feels so differently from others, and I am sure many people can relate.  Rather than making her seem unlikeable because of her personality, Stone manages to make her more relatable because of her ownership of it.  We readers can see her struggle and therefore feel for her.

The story is pretty far-fetched as far as plots go, at least in my experience, but the fantasy of getting back at someone for a wrongdoing exists in each and every one of us.  That part is fun and cathartic as we live out scenarios we know we would never personally do.

I can’t say enough about this book, and other than the obvious fantasy of the plot, it’s all positive.  I was worried when I received this book that I wouldn’t have enough time to read it, but that was a fantasy, too. From the first line I was hooked, and I quickly devoured the story.  The characters are each fascinating in their own way, some acting as wonderful studies of human nature.  The plot moves along quickly although the reader doesn’t know until the very end what will end up happening.  There are plenty of twists and turns to keep us interested until the very last page.  I couldn’t get enough of Jane and her flawed personality just because she kept me on my toes.

No matter how much I loved this book, I would not recommend it for everyone.  The language is frequently crude and not recommended for younger readers.  The subject matter itself is for mature readers who will not take it to heart.  There is a suicide (The basis behind the whole story) and revenge porn.  Some mild violence and rough sex are also included.  This book came in way beyond my expectations, and I believe that readers who enjoy thrillers and who can overlook some challenging themes will have an enjoyable read.

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

Thirst of Steel

Thirst of SteelAuthor: Ronie Kendig

Series: The Tox Files #3

Publisher: Bethany House

Release Date: July 31, 2018

Rating: 5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

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 and all others I’ve read will have a hard time toping it. 

The Arrow and Flame Order has plagued Cole Russell and his group for years. Just when they think it’s over, things heat up again when Tox has to leave Haven Cortes, the woman he loves, to go deep undercover and complete a final mission to find the sword of Goliath and keep it from the order.  The AFO wants the sword more than anything and use Tzivia and Ram’s father to get them to find the sword for them.  Tzivia wants to see her father alive again, even after he walked out on them years ago, and Ram is afraid his secret will be exposed and his life in more danger if he doesn’t do this.  With the team being split apart and loyalties in question, Tox, Ram and the others have to work harder than ever before to protect those around them and do what is right.

Ronie Kendig has done it again with another spectacular novel about Tox and his team. After three books, it is hard to not love these characters and feel deeply impacted by what happens to them. Thirst of Steel is one of the best books as far as getting the reader deeply invested in every single character, no matter how much page time they receive.  I enjoyed seeing Ram and Tzivia at the fore front of this novel and watching them flesh out a little more than in the previous novels in the series.  There is no stop to the action, adventure and suspense in this novel and I am very sad to see this series come to an end.

I have really enjoyed the teams adventures and the way they have tied their missions in with history and ancient artifacts. It kind of makes it feel like national treasure at times, which makes the story even more fun and exciting.  When reading a Ronie Kendig book you can be sure of a few things, you are going to have characters you can’t help but fall in love with and root for them to succeed.  Secondly, you are going to have a story that will leave you on the edge of your seat until the very last page.  I love that I know that going into these books, it makes everything better and Kendig never disappoints.  A lot of books written today have a lot of unnecessary filler material that could be skipped and still enjoy the story, these are not like that.  I read every page and get something from every line and feel so much more connected to the story and characters by the end.  That shows how good the writing is and how much effort was put into it and I for one appreciate that as a reader.  This is a book I recommend to all Kendig fans as well as those looking for a great suspense thriller.  I do recommend reading the first in the series before starting this one to have a better understanding of the story.

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

After Nightfall

after nightfallAuthor: A. J. Banner

Publisher: Lake Union

Release Date: August 7, 2018

Rating: 4.5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

A fascinating who-dun-it that feels like playing a game of Clue.

Marissa Parlette has finally found joy in her love life. She has loved working as a speech language therapists with children and met her fiancée at the school his daughter attends, who also happens to be one of Marissa’s pupils.  She has also invited her childhood friend Lauren back into her life after several years apart when she discovered Lauren’s betrayal.  On the eve of Marissa’s engagement, Lauren is flirting openly with her fiancée and she confronts Lauren about it.  Lauren suddenly leaves and tells Marissa that she has something to tell her about her fiancée.  Unfortunately she never gets the chance when Marissa discovers Lauren’s lifeless body on the beach after falling over a hundred foot cliff, which doesn’t make sense given Lauren’s fear of heights.  Each of the guests at the party appear to have a motive for Lauren’s death with the secrets that are hidden behind the layers.  Will the true reason and murderer ever be brought to light?

 What a fun mystery read! This book was almost like stepping into a game of Clue.  It opens directly to the setting of the engagement party where the reader gets to meet all of the characters involved.  Personalities are put on display for the reader to see and get an understanding of the dynamic between the characters.  Then the transition to finding the body and the investigation begins.  Each character has something to hide and Marissa is in the middle of it all.  I thoroughly enjoyed working alongside Marissa to try to understand who was behind it all.  And it wasn’t some simple open and shut case, it was more secretive than that.  Needless to say, as the secrets came to light, several were appalling, but still not conducive to finding the murderer.  Being the detective on this case was definitely fun.

There was some strong language throughout the book and a little bit of sex, but nothing graphic for readers. Even so, I still recommend this book to readers who enjoy a good mystery.

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