The Glass Ocean

Glass OceannAuthors: Beatriz Williams, Lauren Willig, & Karen White

Publisher: William Morrow

Release Date: September 10, 2019

Rating: 4 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

Very intriguing time-slip mystery that will keep readers turning the pages to discover the truth!

Set between 2013 and 1915, three women find themselves entangled in the tragedy of the RMS Lusitania.  In 2013, Sarah Blake is beginning to see that she is running out of money from her big-time book deal five years ago.  She was enjoying being offered talk shows and interviews, but now must settle for the occasional book club.  Her mother has Alzheimer’s and the nursing home bill is looming over Sarah.  When she opens her great-grandfather’s trunk that was found in the wreckage of the Lusitania, she discovers that a new chapter in history could be written.  Unfortunately, she will have to obtain help from a disgraced member of British parliament to do it.

In 1915, Caroline Hochsetter yearns to return to her home of Savannah, where she can enjoy the warmth and hospitality of the south.  Unfortunately, she is stuck in New York with her husband who seems to be out to prove that he is just as well off with his self-made fortune as the old money families.  He decides that they need to set off to England in first class accommodations aboard the Lusitania to sell an unfinished piece of classical music that also happened to be a gift to Caroline.  Caroline tries to convince him to not sell the piece nor make the trip to England as the war is escalating between the Germans and Britain. The only bright spot is that a good friend of hers is also on the ship, whom she discovers she has developed romantic feelings for, but can Caroline take charge of her own happiness?

Con artist Tessa Fairweather is trying to get out of the family line of work, but there always seems to be one more job she gets pulled into.  When her sister convinces her to steal a music manuscript from Caroline Hochsetter, she believes that she can finally put the past in the past.  Unfortunately, the manuscript isn’t where it should be the night she enters the house and in order to obtain it, she will have to board the Lusitania.

This was an incredibly interesting story.  Sometimes three points of view can be a little intimidating, but it worked great in this case.  Each story was uniquely crafted and brought out great character development for each of the main characters.  I often found myself wanting to continue one of the stories further but realized that I was going to have to read the next chapter in a different point of view to really get the whole picture.  Everything wound together perfectly spiraling toward a collision until the truth was discovered.   Great story.  Would love to read another book by these three authors.

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

The Gryphon Heist

Gryphon HeistAuthor: James R. Hannibal

Series: Talia Inger #1

Publisher: Revell

Release Date: September 3, 2019

Rating: 4 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

Readers are set up for a thrill ride full of suspense, danger, mystery and so many twists and turns they won’t be able to stop until the very last page!

After passing her final tests to become a CIA agent, Talia Inger gets assigned to a case she is less than thrilled about at first. She is assigned to work in the “Other” department. Her first assignment is working with Adam Tyler, a Moldovian executive, to retrieve his technology for their own defense. What seems like a simple task at first turns into the more than she could have bargained for when finds out who else is after the technology and what it is going to take to retrieve it. As the get closer to completing their mission, things get more complicated and Talia starts to wonder who she can trust and if she has been given all the information she needs to complete the mission and return home in one piece.

The Gryphon Heist is a novel full of so many things. That can be both good and bad. It is obvious that Hannibal did his research and knows his stuff, the plot would have been incredibly weak had he not, and this plot was anything but weak. The problem is there was so much going on it was a little difficult to keep up at times. Not only is the plot and storyline very intricate, there are also a lot of characters to keep up with. In my opinion, a few of the characters could have been cut without impacting the story. There were other chapters that just felt awkward and better left on the cutting room floor.  Those were the only items that took the book down a notch for me. When the tension picked up, it did so at warp speed. The last few chapters made the book, I’m talking unstoppable action that left me thirsting for me. The little tidbits about who might be the bad guy on the inside was played out so well I found myself smiling with the turn off each page. I’m so happy that this is the first in a series and we will get to see these characters further developed. I see so much potential for this series and the characters and will be chomping at the bit to get my hands on the next installment. I recommend this book to readers that enjoy the television show Alias and the Mission Impossible movie series type thrillers and a great read.

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

Diamond in the Rough

Diamond in the Rough

Author: Jen Turano

Series: American Heiresses #2

Publisher: Bethany House

Release Date: September 3, 2019

Rating: 5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

Witty, hysterical, and all-around fun story!

 Poppy Garrison is a social misfit.  She doesn’t feel that she truly belongs in high society and wouldn’t be a part of the New York Four Hundred if she hadn’t had to agree to her grandmother’s terms to help save her family from financial ruin.  Every step she takes towards becoming high class seems to land herself in some sort of unexpected fiasco.  Through it all she keeps her wits about her if she can manage to make it through.

 After almost being plowed over by Poppy during the Gypsy Quadrille, Reginald Blackburn wonders if he will see her again.  To his surprise, he is requested to teach etiquette to Poppy by her grandmother, who admires his British manners.  If their first encounter is anything to judge by, he just bit off more than he can chew.

 I’ll admit that reading historical romance set in 1880s New York is not one of my usual go to genres.  However, this book was downright hilarious to read.  The situations that Poppy found herself in were so comical that I often laughed out loud.  The wit displayed by both Poppy and Reginald made the book flow so smoothly that I just had to keep moving forward to get a little bit more.  Not in a suspenseful way, but just in a way that you want to keep that feel good feeling as you read.  The character development was spot on throughout the entire book.  This is the first book that I’ve read by Jen Turano, but I can see why so many people see her as a go-to author.  It is also the second in a series, but easily reads as a stand-alone.  I recommend this to readers who love historical romances and to those who just want a good clean story.

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

Fatal Strike

Fatal StrikeAuthor: DiAnn Mills

Publisher: Tyndale House

Release Date: September 3, 2019

Rating: 4 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

With a combination of FBI Snipers, murder using rattlesnake venom, and a budding romance, DiAnn Mills has crafted a thriller fans will not want to miss.

Galveston is being hit by a new kind of killer using rattlesnake venom for murder. A local gang called the Veneno is the prime suspect and the FBI calls in agents Leah Riesel and Jon Colbert to tackle the case. They have a witness that saw a body being left on a church doorstep but soon disappears. Without their witness, they don’t have much of a case. No one around is willing to help without the fear of being the next victim and the more Leah and Jon dig, the darker the motives become.  The more secrets they uncover, the more they have to face fears they didn’t even know they had.

DiAnn Mills says to expect an adventure with her books and that is definitely what readers will get with this book. The premise is gripping: death by snake venom, no thanks! My mind was reeling with what could be coming as I turned the pages.  Leah and Jon had a great story, I really connected with them and the feelings they developed for each other over the course of the story. The ending kept me guessing, which I love in a suspense novel.  I don’t want to be able to figure everything out quickly, I like those little surprises and DiAnn Mills always exceeds my expectations.

I have always enjoyed DiAnn Mills books and know I am going to get a great story. Fatal Strike was a really good story, but certain aspects of this story fell short for me. Leah had the ability to be a great female lead but the way her backstory was written didn’t resonate with me. If you take that out of the story, readers will have a heart pounding thrill ride. While this is not my favorite novel Mills has written, it was still a very enjoyable read and one I recommend to readers that enjoy a good romantic suspense novel with a great romance and a story line that will keep you up thinking late into the night.

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

After the Flood

after the flood

Author: Kassandra Montag

Publisher: William Morrow

Release Date: September 3, 2019

Rating: 4 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

Unique take on dystopian literature that is not as washed up as the title suggests.

 Not far into the future, climate change has wreaked havoc on the planet.  Multiple floods have occurred that has raised the ocean water level to new elevations.  Now there are only a handful of land ports that used to be mountain ranges including the Rockies and Andes.  Life has taken a new approach for everyone as governments began to be overthrown and new colonies were formed.  Eventually raiders became prominent throughout the globe as super powers.  For Myra and her daughter Row, life has become a means of survival every day.  They work to catch fish in order to barter for other supplies they need.  Myra still lives in defeat after her husband left her and took their oldest daughter Row.  In a life-threatening situation, Myra learns that Row is still alive in a colony in the north.  Her boat will never make it, but she manages to join up with a larger crew in hopes of heading to the colony to regain the daughter she lost and reunite her family.

 This book made me think about Water World as the majority of the population now live on ships that sail from port to port.  It is a new twist on dystopian literature mixed with some pirates.  The synopsis of the book only covers about the first three chapters or about 30 pages, leaving almost 400 pages of unchartered territory for the ready to uncover.  I enjoyed the story development that continued throughout the book as well as the author’s ability to create descriptive scenery.  There was plenty of tension that developed between the characters and the author managed to end the chapters with just the right amount to make me start the next chapter so that I could find out what happened, which caused a couple of later nights than I normally have.  My one complaint is that there was about 375 pages of buildup that just played out the finale in only 40 pages.  It just felt rushed after having this incredible journey.  There is also some foul language throughout the book as well as some fairly descriptive sex scenes that will be more appropriate for a mature audience.

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

A Single Light

single lightAuthor: Tosca Lee

Series: The Line Between #2

Publisher: Howard Books

Release Date: September 17, 2019

Rating: 5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

Fans of Tosca Lee’s writing will have to clear their calendar of everything to devour A Single Light!  This is Thriller writing at its best!

It has been six months since Wynter Roth and Chase went underground to stay safe from the disease ravaging the country. Along with the sixty others underground, they wait for the day the door will be opened by Noah and the rest that are supposed to be waiting above ground to meet them. When messages from above stop coming months before they are supposed to be released, the fate of the world starts to seem grimmer than any of them could have imagined. As release day draws near, Wynter is eager to leave in order to find medicine for her very sick friend, Julie. As the doors open, Chase and Wynter find themselves in a world far worse off than they could have imagined. The vaccine they expected to be manufactured and passed around the country is nowhere in sight and those that survived are turning on each other in order to survive the war zones the cities have become. With each passing hour, Wynter finds herself losing hope that she can help her friend or if any of them can survive in this new world.

For me, topping The Line Between was going to be something almost impossible to do. Tosca knocked that first book out of the park. The characters and storyline grabbed me and wouldn’t let go, making me ache for more of this incredible story. By the time I got my hands on A Single Light, I had to pace myself, so I didn’t devour it too quickly. The story picks up where the first left off, Wynter and Chase in the silo waiting with the others for the day they can emerge into society. Instead of chapters, Lee uses days and hours as chapter headings and to show the passage of time. Instead of letting the time in the silo pass slowly and lose readers in the process, she skips over large portions of this time and gets to the really great twists and turns. There is so much embodied in the pages of this novel: fear, hope, love, deep longing to belong and help those we care about. Each emotion Wynter feels jumps off the page at me and griped me tightly. The connection between Wynter and Chase and how they came to be together is so well written and took me by surprise at times. If you are reading this and looking for a chance to put it down you will be disappointed, this is the kind of book that can be devoured in one sitting. I am wishing for time to go back and read it again and again. Tosca Lee has become one of the very best thriller writers in my opinion and readers can look forward to a fantastic story every time they pick up one of her books. At one point I thought I knew what was going to happen with the ending, but Lee took it in a slightly different direction, which was perfect for this story. I am trying to come up with something negative to say and am at a loss. I recommend this book to fans of Lee’s writing and those looking for an amazing story to pull them in and never let go. However, I would recommend reading The Line Between first.

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

The Last Widow

Last widow

Author: Karin Slaughter

Series: Will Trent #9

Publisher: William Morrow

Release Date: August 20, 2019

Rating: 4 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

A kidnapping, an explosion, and the threat of a biological weapon bring together a story that is intricately laid out and hard to put down.

 When a scientist from the Centers for Disease Control is kidnapped in broad daylight from the parking lot of a shopping center, authorities search high and low for any clue as to who took her and why. Days and weeks go by with no sign of her and no ransom demand until bombs start going off in Atlanta’s busiest neighborhood as a statement and a distraction. As first responders rush to the scene, Will Trent, an investigator with the Georgia Bureau of Investigations, and his partner Sara Linton reach a car crash at the outskirts of the bomb radius. Not knowing they have just stumbled upon the bombers, Sara tries to help and ends up being kidnapped as well. Will works from the outside to get his partner back while Sara works from the inside to figure out who this group is and what they are really after before it is too late.

 First of all, I went into reading this book not realizing it was the ninth in the series. Not totally sure if that helped or hurt my take on the story. Maybe having a little backstory on Will and Sara might have helped my enjoyment, although I did get a lot out of the chemistry between the two characters. They had a great dynamic and I had no idea this was not their first book, but it does make sense the way they were written so well together. There was A LOT going on in this book and if readers aren’t careful, they will miss key elements to the story. That being said, I felt a good hundred pages could have been cut and the story wouldn’t have lacked anything. With so much going on, it was hard to follow at times, but I will say Slaughter did a great job with tension at critical moments. The last 50-75 pages really brought the emotion out and made me care about the characters when it counted. I have seen lots of mixed reviews on this title and agree with both sides There are lots of good points in the book, but it was a little slow at times. One of the best parts for me was the different points of view, this gave me as the reader more of the story to see and understand. There is a lot of harsh language throughout, and while it does fit with the characters and how they would respond to a situation, readers need to be aware before reading. I would recommend this to an audience who love thrillers, especially ones that deal with medical issues, bombings and radical groups.

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

The Only Skill That Matters

Only Skill that Matters

Author: Jonathan A. Levi

Publisher: Lioncrest Publishing

Release Date: August 27, 2019

Rating: 4 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

Learn the attributes to speed reading and retaining information.

 Jonathan Levi is known for the program SuperLearners, which is geared toward expanding memory and increasing reading speed.  The program has been very successful and isn’t focused on a specific subject, such as business, but is tailored toward the specific goal of the learner.  This could be learning a musical instrument, a new language, or even mathematics.  In Levi’s newest book, he describes the steps in the program to master this skill and explains the importance of each step.

 I’ve heard of the SuperLearners program but haven’t actually tried it out.  Reading this book gave the an inside look at the program and a shortened version of how to be successful.  I liked that Levi gave personal stories about why he was not initially successful with different personal endeavors and what he did differently to learn better.  There were several other personal stories of participants that include links to watch interviews.  The flow of the book was smooth, and paragraphs were broken up physically so that readers checking this out wouldn’t be intimated with less white space.  I like that he gives examples and references throughout so that readers can easily return to a section that they feel may need more attention.

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

The Disappearance of Alistair Ainsworth

alistar ainsworth

Author: Leonard Goldberg

Series: Daughter of Sherlock Holmes #3

Publisher: Minotaur

Release Date: June 11, 2019

Rating: 5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

Great story, great mystery, and great pace!

 One stormy night, the occupants of 221b Baker Street receive an unexpected visitor.  An old colleague of Dr. Watson, Dr. Alexander Verner, comes to them with an extraordinary tale.  He was requested to make a house call to someone complaining of stomach pains, but not before he was blindfolded and taken by carriage to the house.  Once there, he realized that the patient did not have stomach pains and was actually signaling for help.  Unfortunately, he was unable to convince the captors that the man needed to be hospitalized, so upon being returned to London, he came strait to the Watsons and the daughter of Sherlock Holmes.  As the crew begin their investigation, it quickly becomes apparent that this is yet another national intelligence case and it appears to involve German spies as well as a group of unorthodox code breakers for the Royal Navy.  As the group unravels the clues, it seems that the German’s always have a head start which can only mean one thing, someone on the inside is working for the Germans.  With no time to spare, the group works alongside Scotland Yard and Naval Intelligence to rescue the victim before secrets can be released that will be devasting to Britain’s success in the war.

 These books are quickly becoming my favorite mystery series.  The demeanor between the three main characters is always entertaining.  I always find myself wandering how Joanna will end up solving the case.  She is intelligent, attentive, and very persistent.  Her character reminds me of Sherlock himself and I enjoyed getting to see the glimpse of her son in this novel.  He is very headstrong, but she knows what is best for him but allows him to make his own decisions, even if she might have had a bit of play in determining the outcome.  The story is very entertaining and the mystery will have you wrapped up quickly in trying to figure out the whole story, which only Joanna can truly unravel.

 Although this is a series, it easily reads as a standalone.  Fair warning though, if you do read this first, you will probably want to go buy the first two!  If you’re a fan of Holmes or just love a good mystery, give this a try!

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

The Girl Behind the Red Rope

Girl behind red rope

Authors: Ted Dekker & Rachelle Dekker

Publisher: Revell

Release Date: September 3, 2019

Rating: 5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

Teaming up for the first time, father and daughter Ted and Rachelle Dekker deliver an intense and fascinating read that will leave fans thirsting for them to team up again and again and again.

 It has been over ten years since Grace and the rest of her community saw something that would forever change their lives. Since that time, they have lived within the confines of the red rope, a boundary that is supposed to keep them all save from the evil furies of the world. They live under strict rules put in place by Sylous, their leader who only shows himself when necessary and usually only to one in the community, Rose. After so many years, Grace and her brother Jamie wonder if it might be safe to venture outside the rope and see what is happening with the rest of the world. Jamie has gone a few times without any consequences and when they speak up to the community with their concerns, they are sent out further to see what happens. It only takes one night out for them to encounter the Fury and let the community know. While the community lets them return, they are now looked at in a different light. It doesn’t take Jamie long to repent and change to the ways of the community, but Grace has a harder time going back to believing so easily. With each passing day, the things Grace has been taught and believed for the past decade start to unfold before her eyes and she must decide if what she has always believed is still true or trust what she sees.

 Anyone that has ever read a Ted Dekker novel knows they are going to be in for a fantastic ride full of fantasy, thrills, emotions and allegorical underlying spiritual tones that can be interpreted in several ways. Dekker has always had a way of pulling readers in and giving them a story that is more than an escape. His newest novel is going to give readers an escape into this world and leave their minds churning long after they turn the last page. While this was a collaboration between him and his daughter, Rachelle Dekker, I found it to be another incredible Dekker novel, no matter it was written by two Dekkers. I can’t tell yet if that gave it strength or not. It is hard to say whose writing is where within the pages. As I have read Rachelle’s novels, I have noticed the influence of her father in her writing; they are good books, but I couldn’t really see her own individual distinct voice. I enjoyed her books and maybe with her style so similar to the Elder Dekker it enhanced the story to make it more than what it would have been without the two writing together. With the two Dekker’s combined, the story takes off and pulls the reader in with no chance of escaping until the story is over. I almost read this in one sitting, if I hadn’t had anything to do, I could have easily finished this in one sitting and I can’t say when the last time I sat with a book and wanted to finish like that was. The authors did a fantastic job of portraying these characters in a way that kept the reader from questioning their actions. The empathy used to reach an emotional level was stunning. I loved Grace and the way she kept her head and tried to solve the ridiculously hard puzzle life was putting in front of her. The evil she goes up against is written in a way we can all relate to in one form or another. I recommend this book to fans of Dekker and those that enjoy a great mystery/thriller. If you have read Ted Dekker before, you will see little snippets that relate to other books he has written, (not in actual characters or settings but similar themes). If you have never read a Dekker book this would be the perfect one to get you hooked.

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