Blind Betrayal

Blind BetrayalAuthor: Nancy Mehl

Series: Defenders of Justice #3

Publisher: Bethany House

Release Date: April 17, 2018

Rating: 5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

Nancy Mehl’s newest installment to the Defenders of Justice series gives readers their favorite characters in the most heart stopping adventure yet.

In what starts out as a routine day escorting a reporter to Washington to testify before a grand jury quickly turns into the most dangerous assignment U. S. Marshal Casey Sloane has had yet. The witness was reporting on an up and coming environmentalist with potential ties to terrorism.  As she and her partner are getting ready to transport their witness, their office is bombed leaving them unsure of who they can trust and where to go to stay safe.  They flee with their witness and together, with an old flame from her past Casey, is tasked with doing all she can to keep everyone alive and safe.

As the final book in the Defenders of Justice series, Nancy Mehl has crafted a story that wraps up the series successfully and with as much, if not more, tension than all of the previous books. Each book is unique in its own way and can be read together or individually with equal enjoyment.  I enjoyed the way this story was crafted showing how technology can be harmful and helpful at times. With the use of social media, Casey and her team found their way out of a tough spot that otherwise might not have given the team the help they needed.  I liked Casey. She was tough but not over the top or even stubborn.  Being a leading lady and in law enforcement, authors have to show these characters are able to keep up with their male counterparts and are not to be messed with but are still human and not exempt from harm or other problems.  It would have been easy for Mehl to put the romance element at the forefront, but she kept the suspense tight throughout keeping me glued to the page until the very end.  I enjoyed the secondary characters more than I thought I would at times, they helped carry the story along when it could have started to drag.  Overall I enjoyed this book and recommend to fans of Mehl and those that enjoy romantic suspense.

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

Send Down the Rain

Send Down the RainAuthor: Charles Martin

Publisher: Thomas Nelson

Release Date: May 8, 2018

Rating: 5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

A great new story by one of my favorite authors!

Allie has had a rough life. What started as a promising childhood with loving parents owning a popular local restaurant was dashed when her father become addicted to gambling.  Once her father went into debt, he started drinking, which led to physically abusing her mother.  Her childhood sweetheart was lost to Vietnam.  Her first husband was lost to drugs and trying to put him through rehab cost her the restaurant.  Now her second husband has just been tragically killed in a crash with his semi not far from home.  Even though their marriage was far from perfect, being left alone again might be all that Allie can take of life.

Joseph’s life isn’t perfect either. His father left him, his brother and mother when they were young.  So they threw themselves into other things.  Joseph became good at physical activities such as karate.  His brother was good with people so he worked as a grocery sacker.  Joseph ends up shipped to Vietnam where he serves four tours, but each tour takes its toll.  He becomes a trained killer and is tasked to do things that never leave his dreams at night.  He can never shake all the bad that he is done in life no matter how much good he does.  This is why he has isolated himself in a cabin, but fate has ways of bringing people back together when they least expect it.

As usual, Martin brings an incredible story that life that is entertaining and heart wrenching all at the same time. Allie and Jo-Jo were meant to be together, but circumstances in life kept them apart.  And they were not perfect by any means.  That is one of the things I love most about the characters that Martin develops.  Each character is extremely flawed and from the outside you would probably want to avoid them if you ever met them.  But as you get to know them, their edges soften and you begin to understand them.  In fact, you actually want to be friends with them.  The unlikely cast of characters includes a drug addict, alcoholics, physical abuse, Vietnam war vet, and illegal immigrants.

This book is packed full of family issues, romance, PTSD, and even action with a Mexican drug cartel. But through all of the circumstances, wounds heal and they are able to become somewhat of a family.  The theme of the story is forgiveness and it takes the entire story for Joseph to finally accept that.  He has tried to atone for what the has done in the past through good deeds, but it is never enough.

There is so much that goes on in this book that the only way to understand it is to just read it. I highly recommend this book for readers that just want to enjoy a great story!

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

The 49th Mystic

49th mysticAuthor: Ted Dekker

Series: Beyond the Circle #1

Publisher: Revell

Release Date: May 15, 2018

Rating: 5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

Fans of Dekker can rejoice as he brings us back into the circle and the world we grew to love with Thomas Hunter. A book well worth the wait and meant to be enjoyed by all that call themselves part of The Circle.

Many years ago, a gateway to another world was opened with Thomas Hunter. His death was supposed to sever that gateway for good. For years, no one crossed over until Rachelle Matthews from Eden, Utah crossed that gateway.  Rachelle has always been blind, but when she attempts a procedure to restore her sight she begins waking up in another reality and finds herself wondering which reality is real and which is a dream.  In the new reality, she wakes up with her sight and abilities beyond her wildest dreams.  There is an ancient prophecy that says she must find and recover five ancient seals that will have serious effects on both worlds.  Her success will mean peace for all or keep both worlds locked in darkness forever.

Anyone that has read Ted Dekker knows that his writing is like no other. He isn’t afraid to dive deeper than most with his stories and take you on an adventure you will never forget.  Fans of Dekker will without a doubt be familiar with his circle series and eager to pick up The 49th Mystic to see where the story continues.  I will say that if you haven’t read any of The Circle series, this book might be a little hard to understand at times.  Readers can still enjoy the story but the backstory from the previous books will be beneficial.  With all that being said, it is a wonderful story that I, along with others I’m sure, have waited years for.  Even though this is a continuation of the circle series, in a way it is its own story, something that makes it perfect for new readers of Dekker.

Written with characters that are tough but also relatable, The 49th Mystic has everything readers will want.  There is a depth to the characters along with the storyline that will pull readers in and keep them until the very last page.  I decided to take my time reading and really engross myself in the story, Dekker’s writing requires close attention so that the reader can see different connections throughout the book.  Each chapter and each page contains minute details that drive the story forward and are not to be missed.  Each character is vital and every word the characters say and action they take will lead to where the story is going to take you here and in volume two.  It is almost cruel to make us wait even the few short months for the next one, but wait we will. Be ready to Dive Deep once more.  I recommend this book highly to fans of Dekker’s previous novels and even to newcomers of his work with an open mind to enjoy a new story unlike any they have ever encountered.

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

Spirit of the Trail

SOTTAuthor: Carrie Morgridge

Publisher: MFF Publishing

Release Date: May 3, 2018

Rating: 4.5 Stars

Reviewer; Jessica Higgins

Just when you think you are about to start an epic journey, you realize “epic” means different things to different people.

Spirit of the Trail follows John and Carrie Morgridge’s adventure along the Great Divide Mountain Bike Ride (GDMBR).  The book kicks off with the idea that leads to a decision to do this grueling 2,700 mile ride from Canada into New Mexico. From there Carrie narrates their crazy decision with preparation, training, and traveling up to Canada.  Once there, they realize that this is the last chance to turn back, but they press on.  She then chronicles each day of the bike ride.  She reflects on the hardships, successes, and natural beauty around them as they ride.  She shows how this ride is changing her life and makes her more adventurous.  She then challenges each reader to pick an adventure and just do it.

This was a fun and inspirational read. I love getting to read about real life adventures the make me want to run out the door and get started.  We are an active family and it sounds like this might be something we would possible do one day.  I like that they decided to do the trail on their own terms rather than with a tour group.  I feel like  you would get more out of it that way.  If you are looking for inspiration this year, get started on this book right away.

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

Storm Front

Storm frontAuthor: Susan May Warren

Series: Montana Rescue # 5

Publisher: Revell

Release Date: May 1, 2018

Rating: 5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

A wild crazy ride with as many twists and turns as the twisters the characters are chasing.

Ty Remington has had a hard time forgiving himself for the helicopter crash that busted his knee and nearly killed the man he looks up to most, Chet King. Ty still works with PEAK rescue team, but can’t bring himself to get back in the helicopter and fly again. Brette Arnold disappeared from Ty’s life after only a few short days, but he can’t stop thinking about her. He felt they had an instant connection and still doesn’t understand what happened.  When Brette found out she had cancer, she didn’t want to be dependent on Ty or anyone else so she ran to deal with it all on her own.  Now, eighteen months later, she is finally healing but when she once again runs into Ty and she is afraid she won’t be strong enough to leave this time.  Ty never knew of her diagnosis and when he sees her again he immediately knows something has been wrong and wishes he could have been there for her.  As severe storms begin to ravish the area, Ty and Brette work together to help those around them and maybe help each other in the process.

The Montana Rescue series by Susan May Warren is fast becoming one of my favorite romantic suspense series. The characters are never boring and the situations they find themselves in, while maybe not realistic for everyone, are believable for where they are and what they do.  These characters are tough, adventurous and really care for each other.  We were introduced to Ty and Brette early in the series but haven’t seen Brette in a while and it was nice to see their story continue to unfold.  I really enjoyed how Warren tackled the issue of cancer and how it affects so many, not just the person with the disease.  It is a horrible illness that affects far too many and we got to see how difficult it can be to carry that burden alone and what happens when someone is there to help.  God provides people to help carry us through the storms we may face in life, regardless of what the storm is, mental, physical nature, it doesn’t matter. The secondary story in Storm Front with Ben and Kacy continued from the first starting the series off.  It is sad to think there is only one more book in this series.  I don’t know that I am ready to see the stories of these characters wrap up.   Readers need to be ready because Storm Front ends with a heck of a cliff-hanger making it oh so difficult to wait for the last in the series and find out what happened to these character.  I highly recommend this book to fans of Warren’s writing and those that enjoy an action packed romantic suspense novel.

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

Becoming the Talbot Sisters

Becoming the talbot sistersAuthor: Rachel Linden

Publisher: Thomas Nelson

Release Date: May 1, 2018

Rating: 5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

An unexpected surprise! One of my favorite books of the year so far!

Celebrity chef Waverly Ross has built one of the most successful shows on the Food Network. From the outside, she seems to have it all.  But there is one thing that she has yearned for that she has never been able to obtain: motherhood.  Her estranged twin sister Charlie Talbot has been running from a dark secret of her past and working as a relief aid worker in Hungary.  When the aunt that raised them passes away, Charlie and Waverly and reunited and begin the process of healing old wounds and building a relationship again.  Charlie even offers to be a surrogate so that Waverly and her husband can finally become parents.  When events take a turn that leave both sisters with the possibility of losing their jobs, the dream once again must wait.  But Waverly has a plan to save her show and she needs Charlie’s help to do it.

This is one of those “can’t judge a book by its cover” stories. I had no idea what I was getting into when I opened the cover of this book, but I’m so glad that I did.  The writing was phenomenal.  I loved how Linden developed the characters based on individual perspectives and then blended them together as the story progressed.  I also loved all of the behind the scenes descriptions of what goes on to make a successful cooking show.  Throw that in with travel across parts of Europe and you’ve got a masterpiece of a novel.

The scenery was fantastic throughout the book. Traveling across Europe in a book takes a lot of research into different settings and cultures and Linden really brought those to light.  But the emphasis on the relationship between Waverly and Charlie was probably the best part of the whole thing.  Throughout the book you love the sisters, then you hate the sisters; sometimes only one, sometimes both.  It felt real the whole way through.

Definitely a book that you need to add to you summer reading list. I may even read it again just to enjoy it a little bit more!

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

The Golden Vial

The Golden VialAuthor: Thomas Locke

Series: Legends of the Realm #3

Publisher: Revell

Release Date: March 20, 2018

Rating: 5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

The battle for the realm continues brining in some new characters to freshen up the story.

Darkness has settled over the Three Valleys area, cutting off the towns from the outside world. Little by little the darkness squeezes the area in closer.  The townspeople have started to ignore the threat and accepted that it was always this way.  There is one that has not.  Dally’s entire family was killed by the dark force and she was left orphaned and taken in by the town mayor.  She hasn’t gotten along well with people, but she has always had the ability to talk with the mayor’s dogs.  When Lady Shona arrives to combat the evil forces, she request the presence of Dally and her ability.  It is also discovered the Dally has the power of a great mage, but has never been taught.  She joins Lady Shona’s band of faithful followers on her quest to save the realm, with hopes to save Hyam as well.

This series has been my favorite fantasy series in quite some time and I have been looking forward to this book for well over two years. It went in a different direction than what I expected, but it is a transition novel to the next storyline.  Locke has done a really good job of weaving everything in the world together, which can be daunting when you have to create the world to begin with.  The descriptive nature of the scenery has continued so that it is easy to jump back into the realm at a moment’s notice.  The cast of characters continue to be a fun bunch to be around much of the time.  As the main character, Dally struggles with confidence much like Hyam did in the first book.  Given their similarities, I would not be surprised to find that they are related in some way in the future.

Undoubtedly, this series will not be for everyone; however, I recommend that you give it a try. Each book is serious, but has a lot of humor to keep it a little lighter.  This book is a great read for young adults and up.  If you haven’t read the first two, I recommended it as there is a lot of back story that needs to fill you in.

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