Murder is no Accident

Murder is no accidentAuthor: A. H. Gabhart

Series: Hidden Springs Mysteries #3

Publisher: Revell

Release Date: March 14, 2017

Rating: 5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

Another cozy mystery in The Hidden Springs series that is sure to be a hit.

Deputy Sheriff Michael Keane gets another call he doesn’t want to hear, there has been another body found in Hidden Springs. A 911 call came in saying someone is dead at a Victorian mansion in town. Maggie Greene is in high school and helps her mother keep the mansion clean, and sometimes goes to the tower to write, which is where she is when she finds the body and calls 911.  Michael assumes the death is a tragic accident until there is another body found in the house.  Then Maggie receives threatening phone calls telling her to stay quiet about what she might know.  Michael now feels more pressure than ever to find the killer and solve his biggest mystery yet.

The Hidden Springs Mysteries are becoming some of my favorites. These are the types of books you can just sit down and read and enjoy without worrying about language or a boring story.  I love the way these stories keep the reader entertained and wanting more throughout the entire book.  It has been awhile since I have read the first two in the series but this might be the best one yet in my opinion.  I really liked the relationships and interactions between Michael, Alex, Maggie, and Anthony.  Each one had its own special dynamic that worked well.  I also really enjoyed the mystery in the mansion with the murder from the past and present and how things related.  I don’t have much negative to say about the story because there wasn’t much I didn’t like.  This is just a nice cozy mystery that I think most everyone who picks it up will enjoy.  I recommend this to readers of all ages that enjoy a good clean page-turner that will keep you smiling and guessing till the end.

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

Kitty Hawk and the Curse of the Yukon Gold

Kitty HawkAuthor: Iain Reading

Series: Kitty Hawk Flying Detective #1

Publisher: CreateSpace

Release Date: December 3, 2012

Rating: 4 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

A high-flying adventure that is full of twists and turns with an overall good message to boot.

Kitty Hawk is about to set out on her first big adventure flying her plane to Alaska to study and document the habits of whales before she starts college. She has been flying for as long as she can remember and feels certain she is ready for this big adventure.  Kitty soon finds herself in the middle of an even bigger adventure, chasing gold thieves and getting caught up in an epic chase with roots deep into the gold rush of long ago.  Before all is said and done, Kitty will have had the adventure of a lifetime, made friends with people she never would have imagined, and learned so much about herself.

Kitty Hawk was a great adventure read for young adult readers, which is the target audience. I only have one issue with that, there were a few instances of harsh language, especially one use of GD, which I have a very hard time seeing in a book intended for young readers.  That and the print being very small makes it a little harder for reluctant readers to want to pick up and stick with the book are my only negatives.

Kitty is a very adventurous girl that I think can be a very good role model for young girls. Even though she is just out of high school, there are times that she seems a bit younger, maybe middle school age.  I really liked the way things didn’t turn out how you would have expected.  I don’t want to give much away, but I will say I enjoyed the relationship between Kitty and Charlie and his brothers.  There were a few points where I wasn’t sure if things should have played out the way they did, but it was all quickly cleared up, just make sure to not give up and keep reading.  There is enough mystery to keep the readers guessing and a nice history lesson about the area dealing with the gold rush.  I really enjoyed the way the characters were so knowledgeable about their different areas, Kitty and flying, Charlie and so many other areas.  Overall I really enjoyed this book, (minus the few harsh words), and will recommend it to mature young readers.

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

Police at the Station and they don’t look friendly

PoliceAuthor: Adrian McKinty

Series: Detective Sean Duffy #6

Publisher: 7th Street Books

Release Date: March 7, 2017

Rating: 2 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

The sixth installment in the Sean Duffy series is a mystery that just didn’t work for me.

Set in Belfast in 1988, Detective Sean Duffy is called in to solve a series of murders involving a crossbow and drug dealers. Things become more mysterious the further Duffy investigates and he soon discovers that things are much more complex than they appeared.  Duffy is soon in a race for his own life as he is being held at gunpoint and forced to dig his own grave.  To top things off, his home life is falling apart and he doesn’t know how to fix either his personal life or his professional one.

I wanted to like this book, I really did, but unfortunately it fell flat for me. It could be that it is the sixth in a series and I hadn’t read any of the previous.  Then again, I feel that it had great potential, even for a reader that, like me, hadn’t read any of the others in the series.  It is a crime drama and set in the past in Belfast.  I usually love crime dramas, when well written, but here it just didn’t work for me.  Being set in Belfast the language was a little different than what I am used to reading, as well as lots of profanity that was needless in my opinion.  I rarely do this and hate to say that this was a book I just didn’t want to finish. I got almost two-thirds of the way through and had to push myself to power through the remainder.  I’m sure fans of the Sean Duffy series will enjoy having prior knowledge of the characters but this isn’t one to start in the middle of a series like this.

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

The Illusionist’s Apprentice

The Illusionist ApprenticeAuthor: Kristy Cambron

Publisher: Thomas Nelson

Release Date: March 7, 2017

Rating: 5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

Cambron has mastered suspenseful historical fiction and this is no exception!

Wren Lockhart has a past that she would love to keep buried. But being the apprentice to Harry Houdini has made her keep even more secrets than just her past.  Secrets that people would love to find out.  Secrets worth killing for.  After attending a spectacle put on by Horace Stapleton, who was once debunked by Houdini, she finds herself in the attention of the FBI.  Stapleton led people to believe that he could raise someone from the dead, but the subject later died at the scene.  So, the FBI calls on Wren to help them figure out how Stapleton did it.  And why the victim died.  Again.  But when someone tries to gun down Wren and one of the agents, she begins to realize that her personal life is changing with the more danger she steps into.  Someone may be trying to kill her.  Someone she may trust with her life.

As always, Kristy Cambron has spun another amazing tale. If you are a fan of the movie The Prestige or The Illusionist, then you will definitely enjoy this book.  Going backstage behind some of the greatest illusionists in history is phenomenal.  And Cambron does the research to bring you there.  From the theater settings to the street corners in London, you feel like you are in the scene with the characters.

There was a little bit of past/present narrative that dealt Wren exclusively, not like her earlier novels that split between characters in different times. Even so, this was still a fantastic read.  One thing that I found interesting was her choice to use the word collaborate so many times.  This has become such a popular word in today’s society that I wonder if it really was used that much in the time frame depicted in the book.  Just seemed a little interesting to me and made me think about it.  Which is a very good thing as a reader.

Wren’s character was fun to explore as a reader. She is a very closed off and private person and the story does a great job of explaining why.  But when the romance between Wren and Elliott begins to bloom, that is when the fun really begins because her character has a transformation from being self-sufficient to allowing herself to be loved.

Overall this was very exciting, enlightening, and fun to read. I can’t wait to see what she is working on next.

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

Interview with Robert Dugoni

Robert DugoniRobert Dugoni is quickly becoming one of the most popular police procedural authors with his Tracy Crosswhite series!  We were able to catch up with him to get his thoughts on the series and what he sees in the future.

  1. 1. What do you find most challenging/rewarding about writing?

Someone just asked me that question and I said, “Writing is like breathing. I feel better when I do it.” Yeah, I was being facetious, but it’s true. I love to write, and like all people who love something, when you’re not doing it you feel crappy. The most challenging part is making the characters come alive for the reader, to make the characters have problems and issues just like readers have. When I can do that, readers become immersed in the story and it becomes real for them. I love to receive emails from readers telling me that they stayed up very late to finish one of my novels. That means I’ve done my job.

2. The Trapped Girl is the fourth in the Tracy Crosswhite series, can we expect more? (I sure hope so)

Tracy 5, “Close to Home” is already finished and is being copy-edited. It will be out next summer. After that, I have a literary novel, “The Extraordinary Life of Sam Hill” which will be out in April 2018. Then it will be back to Tracy. I’ll keep writing them so long as they are fresh and people enjoy them.

3. Of all your novels which has been your favorite to write?

I loved My Sister’s Grave because it was challenging. I really created everything out of whole-cloth and learned my characters and my story along the way. It was scary at times, but I trusted the process. I also really enjoyed The Trapped Girl because I had this 20 year old woman talking to me the entire time I wrote and finally I just gave in and wrote her scenes in first person, as she told them to me. Little did I know that the entire book would suddenly come together.

4. Do you prefer writing legal thrillers or more of the police procedural with Tracy Crosswhite?

I love them both. There is something intriguing about courtroom dramas that pull the reader into the story. But I also love sitting down with experts in their field and asking them questions and finding scenes in my novels I had never contemplated. My friend, Chris Humphreys says your scenes are in your research and he’s right.

5. What are you working on now?

Tracy 5, Close to Home, which I’m editing with my editors. I’m also working on Tracy #6 and I suspect I’ll be editing Sam Hill here shortly.

6. Who are your favorite authors?

I don’t really have one, other than Stephen King. But he’s on another planet than the rest of us. The man is so gifted it’s scary. The Green Mile. The Shawshank Redemption. 11-22-63. The details of those stories is remarkable. Beyond that, I just love to read a good book, and I read everything. I read mysteries, thrillers, romance, literary. I read “Boy” books and “Girl” books, young adult. Anything with a good story and characters, I’ll read it.

7. What t.v. shows and movies are you currently into?

Love The Crown. Love Victoria. Loving Westworld. Beyond that, I’m a sitcom guy. I love the creation of each character with a unique quality that makes that person memorable. I also am impressed that good sitcoms can tell a story that truly moves you, makes you laugh, sometimes cry in under 30 minutes. No wasted words. It is a gift and screenwriters who get it write are remarkable.

8. What are a few of your favorite books, either already out or even coming soon?

I named a few by Stephen King. I love The Nightengale, A Man Called Ove, Blind Your Ponies. My buddy Sheldon Siegel has a new one coming out called The Felony Murder Rule, which I’m really enjoying. In Harm’s Way – The Sinking of the Indianapolis. Frozen in Time, The Boston Girl. It’s a wide variety, I know. But I’ve really enjoyed them all.

9. I know you teach about writing, (I have been to the novel writing intensive with you and Steven James and highly recommend to anyone wanting to pursue writing). What would be your number one piece of advice for aspiring writing?

Learn the craft. Writing is a job. It is a craft. People teach it because it can be taught. You wouldn’t pick up a violin and start playing it in public without lessons. You wouldn’t operate on someone unless you had been trained in medicine as a surgeon. Writing is no different. It is a craft. Take time to study it and find what works and why and what doesn’t.

10. What do you enjoy doing when not writing?

I love to travel to other countries and I love to work out. I really love watching my kids play sports, but my son is now in college and my daughter is injured so I’m going through serious withdrawals. I also work out a lot – It keeps me sane, and that’s a good thing when you listen to people in your head for a living.

 

Breaking and Holding

 

breaking

Author: Judy Fogarty

Publisher: Lake Union

Release Date: August 2, 2016

Rating: 3 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

A story of love, betrayal, and what to do when you find love but can’t have it.

 

 Set in the summer of 1978, Patricia Curren finds out her husband has had an affair.  Instead of approaching him about this and dissolving her marriage, Patricia decides to spend the summer alone on Kiawah Island.  She has always been a loner, hiding away in her books.  On the island, she ventures out and meets Terry Sloan, a college tennis player working at the country club for the summer.  It is an instant attraction for them both that quickly turns toward obsession.  They both have secrets, some worse than others, and the summer is quickly coming to a close.  Terry is trying to turn pro and has a sponsor interested in him who is about to bring their relationship to the edge of imploding.  Between the sponsor, Patricia’s husband coming to the island, and so many other problems, they are about to face more than either of them can handle.

 

 Breaking and Holding had a lot of potential that didn’t fully hold up for me.  There were several good points that I want to highlight first.  My biggest praise would have to be that this book had some of the best character development of any I have read in a long time.  From beginning to end, the characters fully change and develop into who they are at the end of the story and not the same as at the beginning.  I didn’t think it would happen but the end was satisfying for how it played out throughout the novel.  Even with those positives, there were several negatives for me.  The language bothered me.  I got very, very tired of seeing the F word.  It was just not necessary so much of the time.  Most of the novels I read don’t have that kind of language, and that’s how I prefer it.  But there are a rare few that have language that are written so well that it doesn’t bother me, especially if it isn’t overused.  The story is told from several different viewpoints, mostly Patricia and Lynn (Patricia’s husband’s assistant), and a few instances of the view point of Terry.  This could bother some readers, but I had no problems with following who was talking and how it shaped the story.  Overall it was an okay story but not one I will be picking up again.

 

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

 

 

The Calling – Rachelle Dekker

Write - Read - Life

CallingThe follow up to The Choosing takes things in a different direction, but not in a bad way. The Calling by Rachelle Dekker is a great sequel to what has the potential to be an excellent series. 

Carrington Hale convinced Remko Brant to escape the Authority City with her and now they are married and have a young daughter. He is the leader of the Seers and never before has he had so much at stake.  Time and time again he and his team infiltrate the city to attempt dangerous rescue missions that fail more often than succeed.  Damien Gold is the newly appointed authority President with dangerous ambitions and is bent on catching Remko and his group of rebels and destroying their message of hope and everything they represent.  Remko is losing control of his camp and is afraid everything he has worked so hard for might be slipping…

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