Some Small Magic

Some Small MagicAuthor: Billy Coffey

Publisher: Thomas Nelson

Release Date: March 14, 2017

Rating: 4.5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

Every book of Coffey’s dives a little bit deeper and a little bit darker.

Abel Shifflet’s life needs a little bit of magic. He was born with soft bones and messed up insides, which the other kids at school take advantage of.  He and his mom are very poor as she can only wait tables and any money they have tends to go to mending Abel’s bones when they break.  At a mountain revival in the hills outside Mattingly, Abel watches Reverend Johnny Mills heal others with the touch of a hand.  Abel can’t decide if it is real or just tricks, so he decides to seek out Reverend Johnny after the revival is over.  After Johnny takes his money for a “word”, he is soon overtaken by a spirit that tells Abel that he will find treasure, healing, and reward.

Soon after this meeting, with his mother upset about the money he lost to Reverend Johnny, Abel begins to clean the house for forgiveness. While cleaning he finds a treasure, several letters from the father he thought was dead.  With this new mystery, Abel decides it is part of the sign and decides to run away to find out the truth in the town of Fairhope, North Carolina.  With only his slow minded friend Dumb Willie for a companion, they hope the night train that runs by the trailer park.  But someone awaits them in the boxcar and the real danger begins.  Is there really magic in the world, big or small, that could help Abel?

I love Billy Coffey’s writing. I love that he is not scared to show the evil of the world in his books and through his characters.  But this book is really, really deep.  It’s really good, but does it ever dive deeper than anything he has written so far.  And if you’ve ever read one of his books, you know that you have to pay attention to the details, otherwise you’ll be reading along and realized that you missed the train somewhere and have to go back to find out where.

All of his books have a supernatural element. It is similar in regard to There Will be Stars with death, but not on the Groundhog Day aspect.  I’m still trying to figure out if this is more of a story about Abel or about Dorothy.  Both learn a lot in the pages of this book, so it could really be about either.  I so want to dive into who these characters are, but feel like I would be ruining the story for anyone who hasn’t read the book.  However, I will say that reading the chapters narrated by Dumb Willie are very powerful.  Coffey wrote these sections just as if the reader were mentally challenged.  The language, word order, and thought process is very powerful and makes the reader really consider these individuals throughout the world.

Unfortunately, I don’t think this is Coffey’s best book.  It is still really good, but it just didn’t do as much for me as some of the others.  This may be because I have become very attached to several of the main characters that appear in many of the novels.  Sherriff Barnett still appears briefly.  I also loved the reference to “time is a circle” with Dorthea Cash.  Be sure to read There Will be Stars to make that connection if you haven’t.

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

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.

As Red As Blood

as red as bloodAuthor: Salla Simukka

Series: Lumikki Andersson #1

Publisher: Crown for Young Readers

Release Date: January 17, 2017

Rating: 3 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

This book had such potential to shine like the fairy tales it eludes, but for me it fell flat.

Lumikki Andersson likes to keep to herself and out of the business of others. Even though she is only sixteen she is living by herself and going to a charter school for the gifted.  It is an ideal situation after the problems she had at her old school with some not so nice girls that attended the school.  Trying to stay out of others business usually works well for her, until she stumbles upon thousands of washed Euro notes hanging in the school’s darkroom and three of her classmates acting very suspiciously.  It doesn’t take long for Lumikki to become completely involved in the center of the problem these three have found themselves in.  They all end up going against a drug lord, Polar Bear, and many others that end up hunting them for what they have and know.  Lumikki is now in a race to stay alive and uncover the truth to try and save them all.

When I first heard about As Red as Blood I thought it sounded like a very intriguing read, especially for a YA, which are some of my favorites.  I’m not sure if it is the fact that it was translated from Finnish or maybe just the story itself, but it didn’t live up to my expectations.  One of my biggest pet peeves is a book marketed to young adults that has vulgar language.  I’m not naive, I know that is how many kids speak but I still don’t like seeing it in books for this audience.  I also felt like the story didn’t really get going until it was almost over.  The best part of the book for me was the last twenty-five pages or so.  Finding out more about the main character should have come earlier to help make the connection and establish a better relationship.  I still think some of it could have been lost in the translation and don’t want to fault the author too much on that part.  The two female leads really had good potential and I think there is further development to explore there, I just don’t feel compelled to explore it personally.

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.

Best Laid Plans & Other Disasters

best-laid-plansAuthor: Amy Rivers

Publisher: Wooden Pants Publishing

Release Date: January 17, 2017

Rating: 4 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

When life throws a curveball, hit it back!

Gwen Marsh has finally achieved one of her dreams of becoming mayor of the town of Cambria, Colorado. Just a stepping stone on the way to the Governor’s mansion.  But when she finds out that she is pregnant, things begin to fall apart.  The city manager is making her job miserable with her boyfriend Jason who worked in the city finance department.  Then Jason took a new job that required a lot of travel and they have been fighting a lot lately.  Plus his new flawless looking coworker appears to have a thing for him.  What else could go wrong?  Oh, wait!  Her estranged mother has suddenly appeared in town two weeks before her cousin Val’s wedding.  If she can get through the next two weeks, hopefully motherhood will be a snap!

I enjoyed this book much more than the previous, Wallflower Blooming.  I think that Rivers writing has improved and the story line flowed a lot better.  Plus, the tension between Gwen and Jason was a lot more believable as were the city politics.  Gwen is an exceptional woman who can accomplish anything that she puts her mind to and I believe that motherhood will be no exception to her.  She experienced a lot at once, but don’t we all know that storms come when least expected.  The book was also left open for Val to possibly be pregnant as well.  I wonder if we will get to continue on with these interesting characters.

There is some implied sexual content and mild language in the book. I would recommend this to mature young adults and up.

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