Pieces of Her

Pieces of Her

Author: Karin Slaughter

Publisher: William Morrow Publishing

Release Date: May 21, 2019

Rating: 4 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

What do you do when the person you thought you knew best turns out to be a stranger with a life that you never could have imagined that has now put your life at risk?

 Laura has spent the last thirty years protecting herself and her daughter Andrea from her past. A past she isn’t proud of and wants to keep secret. When they go out to celebrate Andrea’s birthday, a shooting throws their world into turmoil. Andrea sees a side of her mother she has never witnessed before and finds out that before her mother was Laura, she was someone completely different. Piece by piece, Andrea works to figure out who exactly her mother is and what is causing her past to attack them all. Without her mother giving her information she needs, Andrea travels across the country collecting the puzzle pieces to put it all together and keep them both alive.

 Aside from the incredibly harsh language used throughout the entire novel, this was an incredibly engaging read. The story, the characters, and the predicaments they found themselves in kept me hooked throughout. I loved the concept of the book and how the characters had such intricate pasts that caught up with them in the end. The back and forth timelines took a little bit to keep up with who was who and how it related in the past compared to what was happening in the present timeline. Andy had trouble getting her words and thoughts out at times which was a little irritating, I wanted to see more out of her. I do think she had good growth as a character along with her mother. The “bad guys” didn’t really evolve much for me, they started bad and they stayed that way. This was a very engaging and enjoyable story for me but I do wish the language would have been toned down, it just wasn’t necessary to the extent it was used. I do recommend this to readers that enjoy a great mystery. This is the first book by Karen Slaughter and I enjoyed the writing style and will be tempted to pick up more in the future.

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

The Eighth Sister

the eighth sister

Author: Robert Dugoni

Series: Charles Jenkins #1

Publisher: Thomas & Mercer

Release Date: April 9, 2019

Rating: 5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

Robert Dugoni’s newest series starts off with a stellar story that will hook readers and keep them guessing until the very end. Another well-crafted story by one of the very best.

 Charles Jenkins thought he had left his spy days behind him decades ago. He has a wife, son, and a new baby on the while with his security business is falling apart.  Just when things are at their worst, his past comes back into the present when his former bureau chief shows up with an assignment for him that could save him financially. He must travel to Moscow to find a secret Russian agent supposed to have been killing members of a US spy cell known as the seven sisters. With no other alternative, Charles agrees to the mission and heads to Russia where he finds what he least expects, the eighth sister. His mission doesn’t go off without complications and he finds himself trying to escape with no help from his country and risks his life to get back to his family he left behind.

 In typical Robert Dugoni fashion. readers are given a thriller that is unlike anything written by most authors out there. When Dugoni writes a thriller, readers are going to be pulled in and given a story they will be thinking about for days after they turn the last page. I loved the way he tied in David Sloane even though this was not a David Sloane novel. Charles Jenkins looks to be a stellar lead character for this new series and is able to bring in secondary characters that I can’t wait to see how they are further developed in future novels. The first half plays out as more of a spy thriller and the second half goes more into a legal thriller. Each are great in their own way and are still able to drive the story forward with tension between the characters and what is going to happen. This is very different from the Tracy Crosswhite series, which is my absolute favorite series. I was a little skeptical going into this that it wouldn’t live up to my expectations, but I am happy to say this was another great read by Dugoni.  I really enjoyed the start to this new series and can’t wait to see what will come next. I recommend this to readers that enjoy Dugoni’s writing style and a great spy/legal thriller. If you have never read anything by Dugoni, the start of this series would be a great place to begin your journey.

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

The Persian Gamble

persianAuthor: Joel C. Rosenberg

Series: Marcus Ryker #2

Publisher: Tyndale

Release Date: March 12, 2019

Rating: 5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

Yet another superb current events thriller from Rosenberg!

The unthinkable has happened.  The Russian president and head of the FSB have just been assassinated!  And it was done by the mole that the Americans have been working to get out of Russia.  Now it a desperate escape attempt, Marcus Ryker, Oleg Kraskin, and Jenny Morris make it out of Moscow alive, but not for long.  The plane is soon shot down by Russian MiGs, but the three manage to jump to safety, but still land on Russian soil.  Jenny has been shot and needs medical attention.  The United States believes that Marcus and Oleg should be labeled as traitors and Ryker should be tried for treason while Oleg should be handed back over to the Russians.  But Marcus has a trick card up his sleeve that he must play to get presidential pardons and it concerns the transfer of Russian nuclear warheads from North Korea to Iran.  If what Oleg has said is true, Iran seems to be on a time crunch to launch several nuclear missiles at Israel and the United States.  It’s a gamble to be sure, but Marcus and Oleg haven’t lied yet.

Rosenberg continues yet another incredible series.  Picking up at the exact spot where the previous book left off, readers focus on Marcus continuing troubles.  Now a fugitive from his own country, he must figure out a way to get the group back to safety.  Marcus traits as a true leader really emerge in this installment as does his compassion for others.  He does what he must when it is kill or be killed, but that is never his motive.  Several supporting characters return for this book including Vinetti and Pete Huang.  Unfortunately, not everyone will remain alive be the end of this book.  Packed with action and a very believable story line that could easily be in tomorrow’s papers, The Persian Gamble  is as epic as it gets.

I always recommend his books for readers who love current events and a fantastic story!  Pick up a copy of this book as soon as you can!

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

Beautiful Bad

beautiful bad

Author: Annie Ward

Publisher: Park Row Publishing

Release Date: March 5, 2019

Rating: 5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

A compelling read that will keep readers guessing until the very last page and maybe even past that.  Just as the title states, this is beautifully written and full of fascinating characters from the beginning until the very end.

 Maddie is working oversees as a travel writer and spends her down time visiting her best friend, Jo. While hanging out with Jo, Maddie meets Ian who she is instantly attracted to but unsure if it is wise to pursue a romantic relationship in the war-torn middle-east. Nearly two decades later, they are married and living a somewhat perfect life in Middle America. After a recent camping trip that leaves Maddie with a bad injury and scared for her life and that of her young son, she attends a writing therapy session and tries to determine how to proceed. With a back and forth from Balkans to England and back to the U.S along with past to present timeline, everything comes together on the day of the killing with a shocking crime to solve and a sordid past uncovered.

 If you are the type of reader that enjoys a fast-paced thrill ride with tight scenes and characters that are full of surprises at every corner, this is one you won’t want to miss. From the first page with the back and forth in timelines and across the country, we see the characters grow and change. I have to say this is one of the best written novels with character growth that kept me guessing that I have read in a very long time. The first half of the book spends time setting up the relationship between the characters to bring everything full circle by the end. Throughout the pages, readers are left questioning why we love the way we do and what we are willing to do for those we love. There are two sides to every story and two sides to every person. We all have our best sides and our worst, which side we let take over says a lot about us. The back and forth between character and timelines might be a little confusing for some, but if you can keep up it will be worth it in the end. These characters, especially Maddie are so complex and full of surprises readers won’t have a choice but to be pulled into the story and feel a deep connection with what they are reading. I recommend this to readers that enjoy a psychological thriller with twists and turns at every corner.

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

Border Son

Border sonAuthor: Samuel Parker

Publisher: Revell

Release Date: March 5, 2019

Rating: 5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

The story of the Prodigal Son continues in a turn that will leave readers’ emotions spinning after the very last page. 

When Edward Kazmierski receives a phone call saying his son needs him in Mexico, he isn’t sure he wants to go. It has been years since he has even thought about Tyler. They haven’t had the best relationship and Tyler hasn’t been one to reach out to his father either. After the initial phone call, he receives another from a federal agent wanting information on Tyler and two men show up at his house wanting to know if he knows where his son is.  All this leads Ed to head south of the border where his son has started a chain reaction with one decision that causes a ripple effect of pain and destruction for everyone involved. Even though Ed is going to rescue his son, he is first going to have to prove to Tyler that he still loves him and wants to help him out of the mess he has found himself in and try and get them both out alive.

Samuel Parker has a unique way of taking a story we are all familiar with, such as the Prodigal Son, and reforming it as a suspenseful page turner. The story is one of redemption and self-sacrifice. Ed must be willing to sacrifice everything to try and save his son who needs the redemption himself to try and turn his life around. The dynamic between father and son played out well; even though Tyler knows he needs his father’s help he is hesitant to accept it after feeling abandoned for so many years. Now that they are stuck together and have to rely on each other to find a way out to safety they find that even though they haven’t been close in years, there is still a connection that can never be broken. With short chapters that go back and forth on viewpoints, the story reads quickly and clearly, more so than if it had been from one solitary point of view.  I am really enjoying books that go in this multiple point of view format because it gives so much more of the story and keeps the pages turning much quicker. There is a true feeling of fatherly love throughout the story with not only Ed trying to help his son but also Roberto feeling the need to help this young man who had once helped him. Each character brought their own sense of need to the story in how they interacted and helped the other for their own reasons. Fans of Parker’s other novels will be sure to enjoy Border Son. And if you haven’t read anything by Samuel parker I highly recommend picking up a copy today!

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

Killer Thriller

Killer thriller

Author: Lee Goldberg

Series: Ian Ludlow #2

Publisher: Thomas & Mercer

Release Date: February 12, 2019

Rating: 5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

When an author’s own work comes to life making him the star of his own story, things take an interesting and thrilling turn. Killer Thriller is not to be missed.

 Ian Ludlow has become an international bestseller with his latest thriller. Everyone loves his stories, but what everyone might not know is his fiction has a way of becoming reality. Ian finds himself in Hong Kong with his assistant Margo French to promote his book being made into a movie and uses the time to research his newest story idea. While he is there, he uncovers a conspiracy by Chinese intelligence connected to those in power in the United States and puts himself in the crosshairs when the Chinese learn what he is researching. Without meaning to, he has stumbled upon this plot and must find a way to keep the whole thing from blowing up in his face. Now Ian finds himself trapped in his own thriller, on the run from assassins and trying to prevent an epic disaster using his imagination to solve the craziest of problems even he couldn’t write.

 This was my first Lee Goldberg novel to read and I must say I am disappointed I didn’t find this series sooner as I loved it very much. Even though this was the second in the series, I enjoyed it greatly as a standalone. The characters were fun, witty, and flawed enough to make them believable in everything they did. Ian and Margo, the main characters, are a perfect pair. She is sarcastic, and he has a dry sense of humor but is able to inject humor into his writing that bleeds off the page and into his own life. There is action, adventure, suspense, romance (kind of) and enough humor to keep it lighthearted at just the right moments.

 There is a fair bit of language and adult content in the book making it unsuitable for a younger audience. With that said, it is exactly right for its intended older audience. I wasn’t sure what to expect going into this book, but it reminded me a lot of one of my favorite authors, Robert Dugoni and his writing style: sharp, tight and full of adventure. I highly recommend this for those that love adventure and a very well written thriller.

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

Forget You Know Me

Forget you know meAuthor: Jessica Strawser

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

Release Date: February 5, 2019

Rating: 5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

A wonderfully thought out story full of characters that develop beautifully and show us the importance of being there for each other in the good times and the bad.

It is rare to find a friend you can stay close to through thick and thin. Molly and Liza have always thought their relationship could withstand anything. After Molly married Daniel, Liza became an honorary member of the family with no one thinking twice about it. When Liza moved, the relationship became more awkward and strained than either of them wanted to admit. Their friendship may not be able to withstand all they thought, and Molly and Daniel’s marriage may not be as rock solid either. Trying to hang on to the last strands of their relationship, Molly and Liza plan a video chat to reconnect. Just when things are starting to warm up between them, Molly must leave the room to attend to a crying child. Liza waits for her to return, leading to the moment things change forever. Liza sees something on the camera that scares her for her friend. She calls the police and then gets in the car and drives all night to be where she thinks she is needed. When she arrives, she is turned away by an icy Molly, and left wondering what she actually saw and what has come over her friend.  None of them can pretend things are ok and they might never be again.

Forget You Know Me starts with a bang and doesn’t slow down until the last page is turned and the last question left is answered. Strawser did an amazing job of creating characters that are flawed but still clinging to that small hope that all they have done wrongs that can be righted and find their way back to that safe place they once knew and held dear. I had trouble following Molly’s motives at first, but as things play out it becomes clear why she is acting the way she is and by the last chapter we see the characters grow and develop in a way I didn’t really think possible at the beginning. I loved watching them learn what was happening and connect the dots to the bigger picture that was being played out. Molly, Liza, and Daniel are the main characters but even the secondary characters have enough material to flesh them out in a way I really started to care about them as if they were more involved than they were. Max may have been one of my favorite characters to be honest. This is the type of book that takes close concentration to see all that is happening and be able to connect all pieces, there was no skimming or skipping ahead to see what was going to happen and I loved that because I was engaged with the characters and didn’t want to miss anything that was going to happen. Molly might have had a lot going on in her life and felt no way out at times, which is something a lot of us probably feel in some form or fashion at some point in our lives, making her a very relatable character. I recommend this book to those that enjoy a great contemporary read with lots of mystery and a very satisfying conclusion. There is a bit of language making it more suitable for a mature reader.

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

The Killer Collective

thekillercollective

Author: Barry Eisler

Publisher: Thomas & Mercer

Release Date: February 1, 2019

Rating: 4 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

A deep thriller with ties that span the globe and a group willing to do anything to stop a horrible group of people before more are hurt.

 After Seattle Police officer Livia Lone finds evidence of a child pornography ring involving high officials in the government, she becomes a target. Livia and her boss believe the FBI is behind the attack and reach out to a former marine Dox. They quickly assemble a group to keep them safe and take down the threat. One of the main members of the group is John Rain, a retired specialist initially contacted to neutralize Livia. Also in the group are black ops soldiers Ben Treven, Daniel Larison and Colonel Scot Horton. Going across the country, the group fights to keep others safe and bring down the threat, even if it is at the highest levels of the government.

 Let me start this by saying it was a good read. The story matter was intense, and the characters were very well driven in their pursuit of stopping the villains to save the children being hurt. That being said, one thing about this book is there is A LOT going on. Not only in the number of characters to keep up with but also with the number of places they go and all that they must do to bring about some justice. I found it hard at times to keep up with who all was on what team and what exactly their role was. Aside from keeping up with that, the story was great. I enjoyed the way Livia’s background played into her passion for what she was doing and the fact that anyone helping her didn’t hesitate once they knew her mission and what she was fighting for. I found the relationships throughout very believable. These are characters that are thrown into difficult and stressful situations and have to have someone to rely on and have their back.

 One of the absolute best aspects of the book were the action scenes, especially towards the beginning with Livia and her Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and Judo moves she used in self-defense. Those scenes played out extremely well and I enjoyed reading them and felt as if I was there in the moment. I love when a scene plays out that way and really puts me in the room with the characters. I recommend this to readers that enjoy a good thriller with a heart at the center of the story and a lot of good versus evil. Readers need to be aware of some very harsh language throughout, so I wouldn’t recommend for a younger audience

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

The Line Between

the line betweenAuthor: Tosca Lee

Publisher: Howard Books

Release Date: January 29, 2019

Rating: 5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

In one of the most intense and believable thrillers I have ever read, Tosca Lee takes readers on a journey they will never forget in a story they will beg for more before the last page is turned!

After spending most of her life in a doomsday cult called New Earth, Wynter Roth is cast out with nowhere to turn. An old family friend takes her in and she learns how to deal in the real world. Pretty soon, all of the cults predictions of the horrible things destined to happen in the world start to come true. Wynter tries to figure out how much of this they knew about and how much of it might be because of New Earth and its leader, Magnus. One night, Wynter’s sister shows up and gives her medical samples that are a key to understanding the sickness ravaging the country. Power across the country is starting to go out spreading panic with every passing hour. Wynter must get the samples to Colorado to a lab ready to help. In a world going mad it is hard to know who to trust.  With hesitation, she receives help from a former military man, Chase Miller. At first, she doesn’t understand his motivation to help her but embraces the only help she has before time runs out.

In all the years I’ve been reading, I don’t know that I have ever been able to pinpoint my number one book for the year this early. Now something could come along later to snag that spot, but it would have to be out of this world good. I have always been a fan of Tosca Lee but this one right here is by far the best I have read, (and that’s saying a lot because her last two books The Progeny and First Born were my top books of their release years) I didn’t think anything would top Progeny, and it is still one of my favorite reads. The Line Between just has something about it that pulled me in and refused to let go until the final page, and now I’m chomping at the bit waiting for the sequel to come out. The characters, especially Wynter, were so believable and well fleshed out that I pictured each scene as though I was right there with them. Although it isn’t very conventional, I found the back and forth timeline to work very well for this story.  Seeing what happened to Wynter during the time she was with the cult and how that has affected her now with how she sees the world and everyone in it worked this way. If it had been a straight timeline, I think some of the story would have been lost and not connected well. The fact that everything talked about in this book could actually happen is a little scary and shows how well Lee did her research and poured her heart into this book. If you have never read anything by Tosca Lee you are sorely missing out.  She is solidified herself as one of my very favorite authors and I can’t wait to see what comes next. I recommend this book to fans of Dystopian thrillers that are ready for a thrill ride they won’t soon forget.

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

Factor Man

factor manAuthor: Matt Ginsberg

Publisher: Zowie Press

Release Date: March 20, 2018

Reviewer: Jennifer S. Roman

Factor Man is about to change the world. He hopes for the better, but with the way people are reacting, he is not overly sure.  To combat that, he has set up a “coming out” of sorts.  A brilliant mind who claims to have developed a new algorithm that can literally break the internet has surfaced with a plan.  Right now he is anonymous, but shortly he will reveal himself as he periodically reveals what his algorithm can do.  I cannot do the explanation justice, but basically, he can factor numbers to a higher degree than ever possible before, with the results being that encryption used for credit cards, internet security, and the internet itself will be more secure and better than ever.  Of course, that means people will be after him for his development, so he hides behind the name Factor Man.  He sets up a website and every so often takes requests for numbers to be factored.  He sets a date that the technology will be auctioned off to the highest bidder, and creates a foolproof method of keeping it out of the wrong hands or from being shared.  Factor Man has all his bases covered, yet he is still wanted by the Chinese.  And the Chinese have several people whose lives depend on getting his product before it is auctioned.

As I mentioned, this new technology is difficult to explain and to understand; Ginsberg does a good job of explaining it, but most of it is still over my head.  Fortunately, this is just a small part of the story, and the rest of it is more than enough to keep readers interested.  It’s a whirlwind chase around the world as Chinese government employees try to figure out who Factor Man is while trying to hunt him down before he goes public.  It’s a race to the finish to see if the woman assigned to the job will find him or not.  Rest assured, there are lots of good tricks and ploys along the way.  This story is anything but boring.  I especially enjoyed excerpts from his website, in which he asks the public for numbers to factor.  Every time he requests a number a few more digits larger than the previous one.  Ginsberg adds the fun twist of using requests from people famous today to make Factor Man seem more human instead of some secretive technological mastermind.

Ginsberg takes a novel approach to the typical thriller.  Yes, there is some special formula or code or technology that someone doesn’t want to get out to the public, but his concept is new and exciting.  He applies a modern twist and uses fun, snappy language to tell the story at a good pace.  Readers, after the initial explanation of the algorithm, are not too bogged down by details about the product that they can’t enjoy the story itself.  The “bad guy,” despite being on the wrong side of things, is smart, creative, and tough; one can’t help but be fascinated by her, which of course helps develop the story.  The people set up to help Factor Man make his big debut are also savvy, fun, and interesting.  They follow the rules but just on the right side of them, so we get a quick tempo with all kinds of interesting developments.  It is clear from reading the book that Ginsberg is either incredibly smart or really good at research, probably a bit of both (but more smart than anything else).  I enjoyed this book immensely and am sure that readers of technological thrillers will, too.

I admit that I was not sure about this book before I started it, because I am not usually one to enjoy a technological thriller, but it really was a good one.  I enjoyed the characters, the slick smartness of it all, the quick dialogue, and the clear thought put into it.  I hope Factor Man develops some other technology so I can find out how he goes about getting that one put into society.

This book contained profanity and violence; therefore, I recommend it for mature readers.

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