StarPassage Book One: The Relic

Star PassageAuthor: Clark Rich Burbidge

Publisher: Deep River Books

Release Date: June 30, 2016

Rating: 4 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

A fun time travel adventure for teens and adult readers alike!

After months of dealing with their parents’ problems involving their dad’s PTSD from war and the stress it has inflicted on their mom, Tim and Martie are afraid what might happen next. Christmas is supposed to be a happy time, but the family is so torn they have trouble finding anything to celebrate until an ancient Christmas ornament sends the siblings on an adventure across the country and back in time. Tim and Martie are not alone in their travels; a group of dark spirits travel as the star is used and want the power of the star for themselves.  The teens have to work hard to avoid these trackers and get home in one piece to try and save their family before it is too late.

I found StarPassage to be a fun read that surprised me at several points.  I didn’t totally know what to expect starting this but as I read I found myself enjoying the story and really bonding with the main characters.  I liked that these two teenagers were willing to do whatever they needed to do in order to save their family.  They even had several moments during their time travels that they had to choose to help others when it would knowingly put them in danger and they did it anyway.  They might have been on a mission but they didn’t put themselves above others, a good lesson for all.  There are elements of faith throughout but I don’t think it is enough to turn anyone off from reading this book.  The author did a great job of setting up the different times and settings for the readers, even those who might not be into history very much.  Overall this was a very enjoyable read and I am curious to see how the next in the series will continue the travels and see how these characters will continue to grow.

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

Trial on Mount Koya

Trial on Mount KoyaAuthor: Susan Spann

Series: Shinobi Mystery #6

Publisher: 7th Street Books

Release Date: July 3, 2018

Rating: 5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

Another thrilling and insightful installment in the Shinobi series! Keep them coming!

Hiro and Father Mateo have been tasked with delivering a message from Iga to a temple on Mount Koya. Arriving just before a blizzard sets in, they are greeted by Ringa, the temple guardian.  Ringa recognizes Hiro as Hanzo’s cousin and quickly separates them to have the message, at which time he also reveals he is an Iga spy.  That night while sleeping, Hiro and Father Mateo are awakened by cries throughout the temple to find that Ringa has been murdered and posed as a Buddha.  Hiro and Father Mateo are asked by the abbot to stay and investigate the murder to find the killer.  They learn that the abbot sent a request to Iga to have an assassin brought in to teach the priests self-defense.  Shortly after their encounter, the abbot is found murdered.  Then the plot thickens when another priest is found murdered shortly thereafter.  Tempers flare and baseless accusations begin to be made.  Can Hiro and Father Mateo solve the case before another murder occurs?  And what is the pattern?  Why destroy the priests of a Buddhist temple in a neutral region?

This is one of those series that I look forward to all year! And when it finally shows up, I just tear into it to see what is going to happen next.  The stories that Spann comes up with are so entertaining and intriguing.  I can’t get enough of the banter between Hiro and Father Mateo.  There are times that I just laugh out loud and what goes on between the two of them.  I’ve also enjoyed watching their relationship grow closer as they continue on their journey.

I also enjoy the historical accuracy that Spann has brought to this series covering much of 16th century Japan.  The cultures and behaviors have been brought to life and very educational.  This particular book dives down into the Buddhist temples and their way of life.  She did a great job of explaining the belief system to help the reader understand the motivation behind the killer.

This is a great series that I recommend for all readers. It doesn’t even feel like a historical fiction novel most of the time.  She does a great job of pulling the reader into the book that you feel like you are part of the action.  Grab a copy today!

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

The Wild Inside

The wild InsideAuthor: Jamey Bradbury

Publisher: William Morrow

Release Date: March 20, 2018

Rating: 4 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

A stunning debut novel that you will either love or hate.

Tracy Petrikoff is a natural when it comes to hunting and trapping. Growing up in the Alaskan wilderness and the daughter of a famous dog sled musher who won multiple Iditarod’s, it only made sense that she follow in his footsteps.  And she does, right up until her mother dies.  Things for her dad start to fall apart after that, including dog sled racing.  But Tracy is determined to get back on a sled to race.  One day while in the woods near the house, she is suddenly attacked by a stranger, but manages to get her knife before she is knocked unconscious.  The next day, a stranger stumbles onto their property with a stab wound and her dad takes him to the hospital.  Tracy fears for her freedom if it is the same man that she may have stabbed.  Then another stranger shows up asking about lodging in their shed.  Tracy doesn’t trust him from the start, but can’t share her full suspicions with her dad as he doesn’t know about the attack.  How can Tracy get herself out of this tangled web?

This was a very interesting book set in the Alaskan wilderness. The scenery was set beautifully by the author and the way of life in the wilderness really brought the concerns families in this area have to life.  Occasional strangers passing through the areas that may or may not have good intentions, even though most are probably on a bucket list item to see Alaska as a survivalist.  I enjoyed the difference in culture that always educates me on other areas.

Tracy was a very flawed character, to say the least. She is basically a wild she-devil living out in the wilderness.  She gets her fill when she is out hunting and sometimes just by drawing blood.  Having the book told from her perspective was interesting and confusing at the same time.  There were times that I had to go back to a previous part to make connections and understand where she was taking the story.

I’m also not a fan of sans quotation mark dialogue. This is just a personal preference, but unfortunately I’ve seen more books going this direction and I really just don’t like it.  Sometimes it hinders the story line and can be just plain confusing.   Aside from that, there were some items that would keep this book from being suitable from a young audience.

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

Deborah Rising

Deborah RisingAuthor: Avraham Azrieli

Publisher: Harper/Legend

Release Date: September 27, 2016

Rating: 4.5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

Based on biblical events, this story has the potential to be the prequel to the passage many have heard.

Deborah lost her parents a year ago, so the local judge took her and her sister in to live with them. The judge’s son chose her sister to marry and things were beginning to look positive.  But the night of the wedding, her sister was slandered a nonvirgin since she did not bleed and must go through a trial.  Throughout the trial, Deborah must watch her sister in the pit of shame while her husband speaks for her since she has no father or male relative.  She is sentenced to death and Deborah must watch as her sister is stoned to death and finds herself suddenly engaged to the same man who killed her sister.  In an attempt to run away, she hears the story of an elixirist from Edom who managed to turn women into men to win a war.  After being returned to the camp, she works in the basket factory and the foreman is a slave from Edom who confirms the story of the elixirist.  With help from a guilt ridden priest, Deborah escapes and sets off on a journey to find this mysterious figure to turn her into a man so that she can avenge her sister’s death and reclaim her family’s land.  But will she ever manage to get away successfully?

I wasn’t sure what to expect when I started reading this book other than a story about Deborah the prophet. Did I ever get more than what I bargained for.  This story took me for a wild ride in directions I never expected.  The way the story was told was exceptional and I was hooked from the first page.  Deborah’s desire to be a man defined her very character and when she set her mind to a task, she accomplished it.  It was interesting to see her personality develop into a leader as well.  She got into some perilous situations, but was always able to work them out, sometimes with a little help.

There is always a lot of interpretation left to the imagination on biblical stories, so don’t go thinking this is debunking the bible or anything. Just enjoy the story for what it is.  With no language or anything graphic, I flew through this book ready to jump into next one!

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

The Tunnels

The TunnelsAuthor: Greg Mitchell

Publisher: Crown

Release Date: October 18, 2016

Rating: 5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

History lovers will love this exciting description of the first year of escapes under the Berlin wall.

In August of 1961, a physical barrier was erected separating the already tense division between East and West Berlin. Germans who lived in East Berlin but worked in the West were suddenly found unemployed.  Families were separated, but many felt the wall wouldn’t last.  They expected to see it come down any day as a failed experiment.  Slowly, the barbed wire fence become concrete and finding a weak area to cross or escape was getting more and more difficult.  However, a few people with a passion to see their fellow Germans free worked to figure out a way to tunnel under the wall and bring escapees into the West.  Some were successful, others not as much. The Tunnels explores these expeditions as well as the tensions between Washington, Berlin, and Russia during one of the most tense times in history.

Prior to this book, I knew about the Berlin wall, but not about what all it represented and how much it divided families across the city and country. Reading the descriptions about how oppressed the East was and how people trying to escape were killed and the propaganda was used to make them look like their death was a good thing was appalling.  It is hard to believe that this was just over fifty years ago.

Mitchell did a great job presenting this book in a way that read more like a novel than a nonfiction historical account. It was fascinating, quick to read, and educating.  Since reading this, I have shared it with over readers who felt the same way.  I really enjoyed getting to find out more about the time frame and how the Kennedy administration handled the situations and how it impacted the Cold War.  I highly recommend this book to anyone interested about the wall or just about the era itself.

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

Looking at 2018

 

Once again we find ourselves remembering our favorite books of the past year, but also anticipating all the future releases coming out in 2018.  Check out the list of several titles that we can’t wait for next year.

  1. The Extraordinary Life of Sam Hell by Robert Dugoni. A new Dugoni novel is something that we always look forward to.  Find out more here.
  2. The Lost Castle by Kristy Cambron. Diving back into historical fiction, Cambron is promising us another spectacular series.  Find out more here.
  3. A Steep Price by Robert Dugoni. The next installment in the Tracy Crosswhite series is definitely something to look forward to next year.  Find out more here.
  4. Olivia Twist by Lorie Langdon. A retelling of the popular story combined with Langdon’s unique writing style equals a must read. Find out more here.
  5. Everywhere You Want to Be by Christina June. A retelling of the popular story Little Red Riding Hood should  be enough for you to grab this one off the shelf. Find out more here.
  6. Troubled Waters and Storm Front by Susan May Warren. Continuing the Montana Rescue series with another character’s story always keeps it interesting.  Find out more here about Troubled Waters and here about Storm Front..
  7. Coldwater by Samuel Parker. Parker’s next novel proves to be as intriguing as his debut.  Find out more here.
  8. When Through Deep Waters by Rachelle Dekker. We really enjoyed her debut series and we are very interested into what she is coming out with next.  Find out more here.
  9. The 49th Mystic by Ted Dekker. Like father, like daughter.  We haven’t read anything new by Ted in quite some time, so imagine our excitement when we learned there was a new story coming out! Find out more here.
  10. The Man He Never Was by James Rubart. We always look forward to more supernatural thrillers.  Find out more here.
  11. Thirst of Steel by Ronie Kendig. We love military thrillers and Kendig’s current series is one of the best! Find out more here.
  12. If I Live by Terri Blackstock. We’ve been waiting for this one for almost a year!  And it’s finally almost here.  Find out more here.
  13. Every Wicked Man by Steven James. Does this book really need any introduction?  The Patrick Bowers series is most likely the best series in print today.  Find out more here.
  14. The Defiant by Lesley Livingston.  The sequel to our top YA pick is a must read coming out soon! Find out more here.
  15. Trial on Mount Koya by Susan Spann. The next adventure of the samurai awaits. Can we go ahead and jump to summer? Find out more here.
  16. Not that I Could Tell by Jessica Strawser. Her debut novel was great and we’re betting the sophomore novel will be too.  Find out more here.
  17. Hope in the Holler by Lisa Lewis Tyre. An author who makes history fun for young readers.  Find out more here.
  18. Everything We Give by Kerry Lonsdale. The first two installments of this series were great.  Now we get to see the story from Ian’s perspective.  Find out more here.
  19. Night Music by Deanna Lynn Sletten. One of the best writer’s out there, we have never been disappointed.  Find out more here.
  20. High Treason by Diann Mills. Another great suspense writer that has written several series we’ve enjoyed.  Find out more here.

Too Far Down

Too far down

Author: Mary Connealy

Series: Cimarron Legacy #3

Publisher: Bethany House

Release Date: October 3, 2017

Rating: 5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

The Boden family is back with their biggest, deepest adventure yet. Done miss the final installment!

The Boden family is once again under attack. The CR Mining Company is hit by an explosion killing men and casting another dark shadow upon the family. Cole Boden moved back to New Mexico after spending years in the East and loving the city life. He has been running the mine and trying to find aspects of the mining and ranching life to keep him happy. Melanie Blake has caught his eye in ways no woman ever has before. She has been fiends of the Boden’s forever and wants to help tackle the latest threat to those she cares about. She never expected to find herself falling for one of the Boden’s but can’t help the feelings she has for Cole. Together they will work to save the family and the land they have all worked so hard for.

As the final book in the Cimarron Legacy series, Mary Connealy, ties up all the loose ends and leaves readers with a satisfying end to a fun, spirit filled story. Which each book focusing on a different member of the family, we really get a chance to know the characters and develop a relationship with them making it easy to laugh and cry with each joy and trial they go through. The Boden family has had more than its fair share of trials and tribulations and this latest takes them deeper than ever before. Mary Connealy has an uncanny talent for creating a story that is both suspenseful and fun to read. It’s hard to find the balance between those two but Connealy has made each of her books entertaining and enjoyable by using wit and humor to make the story flow.

The relationships flowed well keeping with the suspense of the story and the troubles the Boden’s have experienced. At first I wasn’t sure if I was going to enjoy the story with Cole as the main lead but he stepped up and brought the story to life. There was so much with his background that helped the story take on new life when I thought it was finished. Melanie is a tough gal that isn’t willing to put up with being talked down to or taken advantage of because she is a woman, which I liked from the start. Being able to bring her into the family dynamic brought about a new view to the family and what they were going through. She has been around them from the start and gave the reader a different perspective. I recommend this book to fans of Connealy’s previous works and romantic suspense lovers alike.

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