Presidents’ Man

Presidents dayAuthor: Seth Margolis

Publisher: Diversion Publishing

Release Date: February 7, 2017

Rating: 4 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

A quick hitting political thriller with one man doing all he can to control the race for president.

Julian Mellow is one of the richest men in the world and has made a few enemies on his way to the top. He has also sacrificed more than he wanted.  However, all the money he has amassed isn’t enough to make him happy, so he decides to pick a man and make sure he becomes the next president of the United States.  His one goal in getting his pick for president in the white house all ties back to his son being killed in Africa.  Mellow wants revenge on those responsible for taking the life of his only son and is willing to stop at nothing to make sure everyone pays the price.

Seth Margolis has taken a political thriller that spans the globe and written a story that is good, but left me feeling a little overwhelmed with the number of characters to follow and the intricate plot line. I liked the story and think Margolis did a great job with keeping the tension up for most of the book, but at times found myself having trouble keeping up with the multitude of characters.  I can see the merit of having most of them but felt the story could have been tighter if some could have been tied into others to bring the number of secondary characters down slightly.  With all that being said, I enjoyed the way this one man was able to manipulate so many others and the lengths he was willing to go to in order to achieve his goal.  This a man driven by pure hate towards those that wronged him and anyone that gets in his way better watch out.  I enjoy a good political thriller and am pleased with the way this one turned out and will recommend it to readers that are looking for a good thriller with lots of unexpected twists and turns.

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

Solo

soloAuthor: Kwame Alexander

Publisher: Blink YA Books

Release Date: August 1, 2017

Rating: 5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

A stunning tale of finding one’s self and realizing the most important things in life. Told in poetic verse, Solo is a tale that is touching and real down to the heart.

Solo is the story of Blade Morrison, a seventeen-year-old of a rock star that has fallen from grace.  Blade is tired of living the life of glitz and glamour and wants to find more in life.  His mother died when he was nine leaving him and his sister to deal with the aftermath of their father’s addictions.  When Blade discovers a deep held secret within the family, it threatens to throw everything into a tailspin and threaten his relationship with everyone around him.  This sets him on a journey across the country to discover the truth about who he is and how that will shape the rest of his life.

Solo is one of the clearest examples of not judging a book by its cover I have ever read.  The premise sounded very interesting, but when I opened and realized it was told in poetic verse I was initially turned off.  Poetry is usually not my kind of thing.  I have a hard time getting into poetry and the flow of the story told that way.  I decided to give Solo a chance and as the story progressed with each poem, I found myself entranced and pulled into the story.  There was such an intimacy to the characters and the way they interacted with one another.  I read this in one day and enjoyed the flow much more than I imagined I would.  This is the type of story that is for poetry readers, but also for those that enjoy a good story with heart and will leave readers thinking of their family and friends in a different way.  So, if you are like me and open the pages of this book and think it isn’t going to be your cup of tea, give it a few pages and enjoy the story for what it is.  You won’t be disappointed!

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

It Takes One to Tango

tangoAuthor: Winifred M. Reilly

Publisher: Touchstone Hardcover

Release Date: April 7, 2017

Reviewer: Jennifer S. Roman

Marriage counseling is something that people usually do together in hopes of resolving issues and “fixing” what is broken in the marriage.  It is often used to improve communication, clear the air, and foster honesty and intimacy.  Ms. Reilly doesn’t dispute most of this, but she does believe that just one person can make all the difference.

Contrary to what many couples and counselors believe, she purports that if just one person changes his or her attitude and reaction to how the other acts, it will ultimately improve the entire marriage.  She has many case studies to support her theory, and most meaningful to her is her own.  She is the first to admit that she and her husband have had numerous arguments that ended in at least one of them wanting divorce, and after numerous counseling sessions, they both realized that they did not want that.  Instead, they took baby steps to improve their marriage by improving themselves.  For example, she is chronically late.  Her husband gets steamed over that and says she is inconsiderate.  Instead of complaining about it, he just patiently waits.  This in turn encourages her to work on being more punctual.  Conversely, he is, in her opinion, sloppy.  Instead of yelling at her husband to pick up his dirty clothes, Ms. Reilly doesn’t say a word.  Her lack of complaining fosters a resolve in him to pick up after himself.  Sure, they slip back into their old ways now and again, but they find that it is much easier to get along when they individually work to make things better.

There are many good tips in the book explaining how changing one’s own reactions to a partner changes the entire relationship, and while I am not sold on all of them, most make sense.  Moreover, there are many techniques that would easily apply in other relationship situations besides a marriage.  Working relationships, friendships, even relationships among family members, can benefit from each party taking a step back and being more cognizant of how he or she reacts to another person or situation.  Not everything works for every situation, but many tips here can easily work in common interpersonal relationships.

Having been married for over 20 years myself, I thought my husband and I had things pretty well worked out.  However, as I read the book, I could easily apply some of Ms. Reilly’s suggestions to our common areas where we get stuck.  Once I realized that I needed to identify what I wanted in a calm and rational tone, or that he needed to stay calm when I called him out on something, it worked a lot better.  Anyone can certainly benefit from Ms. Reilly’s observations.

I highly recommend this book for people who are in challenging relationships but don’t want to give up on them.  They will certainly find, if they give it a chance, something that will help.  I will not reveal all the tips in the book, but there are many that will make sense and be effective if given a good attempt.

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

Over Maya Dead Body

Over MayaAuthor: Sandra Orchard

Series: Serena Jones Mystery #3

Publisher: Revell

Release Date: July 4, 2017

Rating: 5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

A murder hits close too Serena’s family and she finally realizes who she loves!

Serena is finally taking a vacation with her family to Martha’s Vineyard to attend her father’s friend and his daughter’s engagement party. But when they arrive, the house has a police cruiser out front and they discover that her father’s friend Jack has had an accidental fall down a set of beach stairs and is deceased.  But things don’t quite seem to add up.  Now his son is missing, but when Serena checked customs, she found he landed the day before and his cell signal shows he is on the island.  Suddenly, Nate shows up to support Serena in the investigation, which is sort of weird.  Next, Tanner shows up too, at her mom’s insistence.  As the investigation continues, they discover a connection to an ancient Mayan vase.  Then the fiancee’s son is killed with a connection to drug dealing and the daughter looks guilty too.  Can Serena ever just have a day off?

This was the best book of the entire series. It kicked off with a bang and didn’t let up to the end.  This one was probably her most emotional book as the murder was very close to home for her.  The setting of Martha’s Vineyard wasn’t bad either.  There were a lot of things wrapped up in this book.  A little spoiler alert, but Serena finally makes a choice between Nate and Tanner.  We discover Nate’s past and why he just appears to be a jack of all trades.  And we finally get the real deal on crazy Aunt Martha.  Maybe she’s not so crazy after all.  Trust me,  you will thoroughly enjoy this fun filled mystey!

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

In 27 Days

In 27 DaysAuthor: Alison Gervais

Publisher: Blink YA Books

Release Date: July 25, 2017

Rating: 5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

A hard hitting, emotional roller coaster that will leave readers pulling at their heart-strings and wiping a tear from their eyes by the last page.

When Archer Morales commits suicide, his classmate Hadley Jamison is surprised by how much it affects her. She knew him from freshman English class, but that’s about it.  He was the kind of guy that pretty much kept to himself.  Hadley decides to attend Archer’s funeral for some closure.  As she is leaving the funeral, she runs into a man who calls himself Death.  Death offers Hadley a deal; he will send her back in time twenty-seven days to try and stop Archer from killing himself.  It doesn’t take much to convince Hadley that this is something she must do.  She agrees but finds that it is not going to be an easy task.  Archer has kept himself isolated for several reasons, none of which he is especially eager to share with anyone.  As Hadley works to gain his confidence, strange accidents start to occur that keep Hadley and Archer farther from each other and make Hadley wonder if she is really ready to risk everything, including her own life, to accomplish her mission.

All I can say is WOW!. When I started In 27 Days, I had no idea where it would lead me.  It was one of the most raw, real, and amazing books I have read in a very long time.  The way these characters and their storyline laid out was unbelievable.  This is the kind of writing I would expect from someone with decades of experience.  Alison Gervais is an author that has the potential to take off and never look back at where her writing can take her and her readers.  The way the story of Hadley and Archer came together was absolutely beautiful.  I never once felt as if anything was forced or rushed between the characters or with their actions.  Out of all the books I have read this year, this is going quickly to the top of my list.  With the rampant amount of bullying going on in our society, this is a story that needs to be read by many.  I highly recommend this to all readers, especially anyone that might be struggling with feeling alone or how to help someone in that position.

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

Betrayal at Iga

betrayal.jpgAuthor: Susan Spann

Series: A Shinobi Mystery #5

Publisher: 7th Street Books

Release Date: July 11, 2017

Rating: 5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

This is quickly becoming my favorite series!

With Portuguese being evacuated from Kyoto, Hiro must take Father Mateo and his housekeeper Ana with him to Iga, which is the last place he wants to go. Everyone at Iga is trained to be a spy and an assassin, but at least Father Mateo should be safe.  After they arrive, Iga’s leader Hattori Hanzo invites the guest to a feast.  Also arriving at Iga are four emissaries from the nearby Koga clan, which Hanzo hopes to form an alliance with to stand against the new shogun.  During the second meal course, the lead emissary suddenly starts retching and dies shortly thereafter from poison.  Immediately the Koga clan blame Hanzo.  After much deliberation, it is decided that Father Mateo and Hiro have three days to determine who the killer is in order to maintain peace or start a war.  But when everyone is a trained assassin, can anyone be trusted?

I absolutely love this book and this series. These are some of the best stories with the quirkiest characters that I have ever read.  It’s hard to explain, but the way that everyone plays off of each over is masterfully done.  Father Mateo and Hiro’s demeanor is hilarious at times that you can help but laugh out loud.  Add Hiro’s family and it is almost like watching a samurai soap opera unfold.  Finally, Hiro’s past life’s story comes to life that has always been hinted about in the previous books.  We’ve heard about Neko and finally get to meet her.  And his mother and grandmother and some odd characters too, but make the story great.

It is so easy to get wrapped up in this story that I almost forget it is set in 1565. Even so, the historically accuracy is spot on and makes the reader feel like they are right in the middle of it.  I highly recommend this book for mystery lovers and those who just love a good read.  There is some history in the previous books, so I would suggest starting at the beginning, but don’t let that hinder you if you want to start it now!

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher. The comments and views stated in the above review are my own.

The Cover Story

The Cover StoryAuthor: Deb Richardson-Moore

Series: Branigan Powers Mystery #2

Publisher: Lion Fiction

Release Date: June 27, 2017

Rating: 5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

Another crazy case brings Branigan Powers back to try and solve another crime before others get hurt.

When reporter Branigan Powers hears of a fatal car crash involving two college girls coming home to celebrate the holidays, she, and everyone else, think it is just an accident until the sole survivor informs them it was anything but. She doesn’t remember much from the accident, but Charlie swears it was an old-fashioned hearse that forced them off the road.  Branigan heads to the college to see if she can uncover clues as to why they were forced from the road.  Her search leads her to fraternity row and pledge parties that have gone too far.  Back once again to help her with her case is Malachi Martin.  Even though he is homeless, he is able to look beyond what most see and uncover details that will help solve another case for Branigan.

The next book in the Branigan Powers book is just as witty, delightful and fun as the previous. The characters bring their own pizazz to the story that keep the story flowing at a great pace.  I absolutely loved each of the books in the series and was excited to see a new installment come out.  This is the kind of story you can sit down and just enjoy; it is clean, it is witty, and it is well written.  Moore has a way with these characters, especially Malachi who is back and able to see what others can’t.  This is a Christian mystery series but it is not at all preachy and will appeal to all audiences.  The reader gets to venture back into this world that Moore has created and get to dive even deeper.  With that being said, it isn’t one that you would have to read the previous books to enjoy and know what all is going on in the story.  I highly recommend this to any and all readers that enjoy a good cozy mystery.

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