Book Review: Free Fall by Nancy Mehl (The Quantico Files #3)

Free Fall

About the Book-

The closer she comes to the truth, the deadlier her chase gets.

FBI behavioral analyst Alex Donovan and her colleague Logan Hart have been called upon to write a profile for a missing woman, but a little digging quickly turns up more disappearances in Virginia with the same physical description.

Alex is in a race against the clock to rescue the missing victims, so when the UNSUB makes demands of her in exchange for information, Alex takes the bait. But when her life is put in jeopardy, Logan must do whatever it takes to track them down before time runs out.

Alex works to think one step ahead of the suspect, but the more Logan and the BAU learn about the serial kidnapper, the more they fear Alex may not make it out alive.

My Review-

Similar reviews:

I’ve been looking forwards to reading the finale for this trilogy for so long, and I was so glad it was finally time to read this book! Unfortunately, it was a bit of a letdown, but overall I am glad I read it!

This book is primarily the finale between Alex Donovan (the female protagonist) and Logan Hart (the male protagonist) and their relationship that has been developing over the past few books. In my opinion, the romance in this book doesn’t really develop all that much–it’s just a bunch of physical attraction, and mostly Logan pining after Alex. In that regard, it was a bit . . much? It was a lot of romantic ~feelings~ and “ooh do they like me back” instead of any truly good chemistry, and honestly I wasn’t a huge fan of Alex and Logan together.

The setting for this book was really well done! There was some historical background set in an abandoned amusement park/circus, and part of the investigation was also set there, and I thought that was really creepy and unique. Haunted/old circuses have a particular flavor of spooky and I thought that the setting was a really good choice.

The main storyline was also really good: I think it progressed at a good pace, and the story itself was interesting and unique, and kept me hooked. It was different from the standard Christian fiction politics-motivated/drugs/terrorism that seems to be all anybody writes about anymore, which was really nice. I was a little bit skeptical of the realism of some of the plot points, but overall, it was the most interesting part of the story and I thought it was interesting.

The side stories were a little confusing to me, and in parts it felt more like the side story was there to fill space rather than contribute to the story. Several of the side storylines (Logan’s medical side story, Jeff’s whole conversion story, etc) were interesting, but I much preferred the main story to the side plots. Truth be told, a lot of this book seemed to be trying to fill space, and that was a bit annoying to slog through.

With that being said, I REALLY liked the perspective of the antagonists and their chapters: it was so suspenseful seeing their point of view, and those chapters were really well done.

Overall, this was a good book, if a little bit weak. I think the second book in the series was my favorite. I much prefer the Kaley Quinn Profiler series and the characters in that book over this one, and this entire set of books was mediocre (I think the author tried to imitate the Kaley Quinn Profiler series too closely but didn’t think through the plotline closely enough) but didn’t succeed.

My Rating-

3/5

I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book which I received from the author. All views expressed are only my honest opinion; I was not required to write a positive review.

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Book Review: The Catch by Lisa Harris (US Marshals #3)

The Catch

About this Book-

After a harrowing attempt on a judge’s life at the courthouse, Deputy US Marshals Madison James and Jonas Quinn are tasked with finding a missing woman and an endangered child in connection to the murder of the judge’s wife. What seems like a fairly straightforward case becomes hopelessly tangled when the marshals discover that the woman they are searching for is not who they think she is.

Madison and Jonas are forced into a race to find the woman and the child before the men who want her dead discover her location. And in a final showdown that could cost her everything, Madison will come face-to-face with the person who murdered her husband.

USA Today bestselling author Lisa Harris concludes her thrilling US Marshals series with this breathless tale of secrets kept, lies exposed, and ultimately, justice prevailing.

My Review-

Similar Reviews:

I was excited to finish reading Lisa Harris’ US Marshals series: the series so far has been building up to this book and I was looking forwards to seeing how the whole story resolved!

I liked the premise of this book a lot: it was different from a lot of the standard Christian fiction books, and that made it really interesting. There was a lot of fast paced action scenes: chases, manhunts, kidnapping, etc., and that kept me reading the book. I really liked the commentary about people who become indebted to others for their survival, and the ability for those in power to abuse that position easily. What looked like an infidel man in power and his money-fueled schemes turned into a kidnapped woman and child, a manhunt, and the lives of many at stake.

The storyline that’s been building throughout the series resolved with less fanfare than I would have liked: I thought that there would be a huge reveal of that thread but it seemed rushed and half-hearted, which was disappointing.

Honestly, at the end of the series, Madison and Jonas’ relationship is just . . . fine. They don’t have any particular chemistry (not the “lighting flared between their touch”) kind of chemistry, just . . . any sort of chemistry really that made me want to cheer for them as a couple.

One thing to note is that there are a lot more sexual references in this book than in the average Christian fiction book. Primarily, this is due to the fact that the premise of the main story is based off of a man having an affair with a woman other than his wife, and the consequences of that affair, so there are a lot of references to extramarital activities.

All in all, I think this book was good, if not particularly memorable. It was very fast paced, which made it easy for me to want to keep reading, but there was also not anything particularly memorable about this book I’ll remember about it in a year. I was disappointed by the resolution of the series-long arcs, but the story from this particular book was good.

My Rating-

3/10

I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book which I received from the author. All views expressed are only my honest opinion; I was not required to write a positive review.

Book Review: Malicious Intent by Lynn H. Blackburn (Defend and Protect #2)

Malicious Intent

About this Book-

Dr. Ivy Collins, founder and CEO of Hedera, Inc., is ready to begin clinical trials of her company’s cutting-edge prosthetic. Her work has been heralded by government, medical, and advocacy groups and everyone hopes the device will be a success. Well, almost everyone. Someone is trying to sabotage Hedera and the launch, but to what purpose–and how far will they go to get what they want?

Meanwhile, U.S. Secret Service Agent Gil Dixon can’t believe he’s finally been reunited with Ivy, his childhood best friend. Now that he’s found her again, Gil intends to spend the rest of his life with her. But it will take all his skill to uncover the truth in time to save Ivy’s life’s work, her own life, and the innocent lives caught in the crossfire.

Perfectly balancing chilling suspense and uplifting romance, award-winning author Lynn H. Blackburn delivers a story of revenge, greed, and overcoming that you won’t want to put down no matter how late it gets.

My Review-

From this series: Unknown Threat by Lynn H. Blackburn (Defend and Protect #1)

This book was really fun! It was really fast paced and the story moved rapidly. I read through the whole book fairly quickly and really enjoyed it!

I had some issue with the believability of the plot points: even though suspension of disbelief comes with the territory of Christian suspense, there were aspects of this book that were difficult to believe even with a certain amount of suspension of disbelief. For instance, someone like Ivy, who had MILLIONS of dollars at her disposal, would be unlikely to work with law enforcement and more likely to work with a security team/private investigators of some sort. I’m not convinced that wills just . . . give you 20 million dollars directly into a bank account, and furthermore, if you HAD 20 million dollars, you would have them in investments and not just . . . loose in a bank account?

Further things I have issue with: ransomware/computer experts/servers/etc, how smart people work???, research conferences, hospitals/medical work/injuries/physical trauma and such. I think my academic background is strong enough that some of the points that the author assumed the audience would gloss over don’t do it for me, and that took away quite a bit of the overall believability of the story for me to a point where I could not properly ignore it.

With that being said, there were also several things that I really did like! I LOVED the reunion story between Gil and Ivy as childhood best friends falling into each other’s lives. I thought that was so sweet, and their gradual shift towards their previous interrupted romance was so cute. Gil’s relationship with his sister Emily (and Emily & Ivy’s relationship) and his mom and the way they all acted was just so sweet and I really liked that a lot.

Gil and Ivy’s characters were basically perfect, but that gave them a chance to focus on their romance from their childhood. I think the amount of ~angst~ in this book was well done, but they are a little too perfect as people in general. I also liked the small thread of working through historical problems and the unanswered questions from when they were young. It seemed really healing to Gil and Ivy and the forgiveness and understanding that they had for each other was really good to read.

There was SO much packed into this story, and it only took place over the course of several days, which was a little wild. There was the counterfeit event, the ransom/hostage attack, the ransomware, the ex, the conference, the bomb, the house attack, and more. It become a little difficult to keep track of after a while, but simultaneously, the fast pace made the story move quickly so it was understandable.

I really liked the teamwork between Gil and his Special Agent team: it was so clear that they had each other’s backs, even Morris, who seemed gruff at first, but still worked cohesively as a group. The group completely trusted each other and would go out of their way to support each other and that work environment seemed so lovely!

All in all, I really liked this book! I’ll definitely be picking up more of Lynn Blackburn’s books in the future, and other than the slight unbelievability, this story was really enjoyable!

My Rating-

8/10

I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book which I received from the author. All views expressed are only my honest opinion; I was not required to write a positive review.

Book Review: Aggressively Happy by Joy Marie Clarkson

About this Book:

Discover the Way Toward a Lighter, Braver, and Wiser Life

This old world can be exhausting, despairing, and cynical. But you don’t have to be.

Instead, you can unlock the power to a happy life–an act of defiance that will make you more resilient in times of turmoil, pain, and chaos. Cultivating happiness takes grit, determination, and a good sense of humor. It’s not always easy, but it’s well worth it.

Beloved writer Joy Marie Clarkson leads the way, crafting an audacious case for happiness no matter what you’re going through. With her signature humor and lyrical storytelling, Joy offers an irresistible invitation:

“If we accept that life will be full of difficulties and sorrows, we then have two options: to resign ourselves to life generally being a bummer, or to seek enjoyment, delight, and hope in the midst of (and in spite of!) life’s up and downs. To put it bluntly: You could choose to cultivate happiness, or you could not. . . . I think we should go for it.”

Go, therefore, and choose an aggressively happy life.

My Review:

This book was so good! I hadn’t read anything by the Clarksons (although I’ve been meaning to for ages!) so I was really exited to pick this one up.

Joy provides easy and actionable ways to live “aggressively happy,” filled with anecdotes and lessons that she’s learned over the years. They are all very practical tips and candid observations, and overall it is just overflowing with optimism. It’s not very theologically heavy, but the message of the gospel shines through, but not in an overbearing way. I am a huge proponent of deliberately choosing the bright parts of life, and looking for ways that make life lighter, and this book speaks to that so well.

I personally really liked that this book wasn’t super spiritual: I appreciate a theology book as much as the next one, but this one was so simple and so practical, and wasn’t heavy on shoving Teaching down your throat, which was really refreshing. I also really liked that she included passages about doubt and questioning faith: it takes a lot of courage for someone to admit that, particularly in a book, PARTICULARLY in a Christian book, and I found that chapter deeply relatable. The reminder that faith is inherently supported by believing in something that may not exist was very timely and I loved the quote: “The more one lives inside the story of Christianity, the more undeniable it becomes.”

At the end of each chapter, there are suggestions of pieces of art to consume: music, books, and films. From the sound of it, they sound like pieces that are created that speak to the human experience, and they sound really good. I’m looking forwards to checking out these suggestions!

This is a book I will be returning to again and again, and I highly recommend!

My Rating:

5/5

I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book which I received from the author. All views expressed are only my honest opinion; I was not required to write a positive review.

Book Review: Beyond Her Calling by Kellyn Roth (Alice and Ivy #4)

Beyond Her Calling

About this Book-

Ivy Knight feels that her life may never start. Though her loving family assures her that her place in the world is close to home, she still feels a push to move out of her comfort zone. Hoping against hope, she travels to her old friends at McCale House, seeking a purpose.

Jordy McAllen has just returned to Scotland after his education in London. He fears that what everyone has always said about him may be true: he can’t be a good doctor, let alone a good man. Determined to prove himself, Jordy snatches up the opportunity to become the doctor in the village of Keefmore near his parents’ farm.

When an old friend decides to travel to Keefmore and visit a relative, Ivy follows. She soon finds herself drawn to Jordy, but as their attraction grows, they both face doubts. A relationship between the two of them feels improbable—and might just require a step of impossible faith.

Amazon ||  Goodreads

My Review-

Other reviews from this series:

I have been following Kellyn Roth’s Alice and Ivy series since it started being republished, and naturally, I had to read and review this one!

The main storyline in this book is following Ivy, the less accomplished twin, and her romance with Jordy McAllen, a doctor and Ivy’s friend. In book 2, Ivy Introspective, she develops a friendship with Jordy and they have grown together over the course of that book and this book, and in this one, they build their relationship and fall in love.

Ivy and Jordy have much more chemistry than Alice and her husband have, and I really liked reading their journey as they fell in love. Their discoveries about life, God, and each other are insightful and well done, and their development throughout the course of this book was really good to see.

Having read 2 books from each Alice and Ivy’s perspectives, I think now that I much prefer the books when they are written from Ivy’s perspective. They are more fun and have more interest as the story progresses. Maybe this will change in book 5, but Alice’s perspective seems more bland and uninteresting, whereas Ivy is still going through so much character development and growth that her books are inherently more interesting.

In addition to the story arc from just Ivy’s perspective, there is also a series-wide arc. In this book, there are some pretty big developments that are revealed and they were SO interesting! Due to spoilers, I can’t reveal what they are, but there were some big surprises that I hadn’t previously expected that changes the way I think about a lot of the characters, and I am so interested to see more! A lot of the information from the previous books were revealed, and it makes me more excited to see what that will mean for the characters in the future.

tw // child loss/miscarriage, alcohol use, gambling, depression/depressive episodes

As I’ve mentioned in previous reviews for this series, this is women’s fiction, which means that there is a lot of discussion of mature content that is not suitable for younger readers. In particular, the content includes (and is not limited to) drinking alcohol/getting drunk, premarital sex (with a heavy emphasis on purity), infant loss/miscarriage, depression, and consent (in regard to kisses). There is a heavy emphasis on Christian morals and change/sin/forgiveness, but there are a lot of heavier adult topics talked about, and sensitive readers should be aware of that.

One more thing to note is that Jordy has a Scottish accent, and all of his dialogue is written with a Scottish accent, which forced me to have to sound it out in my head while I was reading, so if that’s not how you read, it might be annoying/difficult.

Overall, I really liked this book, especially when compared to the previous book in the series, At Her Fingertips. If you are looking for a solid Christian adult novel with hearty dose of morals and teaching, this series would be a good one to pickup.

My Rating-

4/5

I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book which I received from the author. All views expressed are only my honest opinion; I was not required to write a positive review.

Book Review: To Disguise the Truth by Jen Turano (The Bleecker Street Inquiry Agency #3)

To Disguise the Truth

About this Book-

When a man arrives at the Bleecker Street Inquiry Agency, anxious to hire them to find a missing heiress, Eunice Holbrooke realizes her past has finally caught up with her . . . and that she may no longer be able to hide under the disguise that has kept her safe for so long.

Arthur Livingston’s goal in life is to make his mark on the world as a mining industrialist, but after the man who could help him achieve his goal is murdered, Arthur feels compelled to seek justice for the family–but he’s left with more questions than answers after the eccentric Bleecker Street Inquiry Agency refuses to take on his case.

Desperate to conceal her real identity and avoid the irritatingly handsome Arthur, Eunice takes on a different case that requires her to go deep undercover and entangles her in one troublesome situation after another. When other secrets come to light, Eunice has no choice but to confront her past, hopeful that it will set her free but knowing it could very well place her life–and the lives of those she loves–in jeopardy.

My Review-

Similar reviews:

I’ve read a great many Jen Turano books in my time, and I’ve really quite enjoyed most of them. Her writing style and the ridiculous situations her characters put themselves in. While this one wasn’t my favorite out of all the ones I’ve read, I did enjoy some of the tropes from this book and I thought it was really fun overall!

My main complaint about this book is its length: it’s just under 350 pages, but it felt like it took forever to read. The storytelling seemed really slow and stilted, and jumped from one plot point to another without seeming to progress the plotline all that much. There  was also a LOT of background and a lot of characters (some of whom were from previous books, some of whom were not), so the first half of the book was a lot of information to take in. In that regard, I didn’t enjoy the book as much, just because there were sections that were so dense.

There were a lot of tropes in this book that I really enjoyed: hidden identity, familial secrets, and previous romance were all in this book, and they were really fun to read. I didn’t feel particularly connected to either of the main characters, but I don’t really think they were meant to be relatable characters, but rather, more caricatures of characters.

This book had more . . . sexual content than I’d seen in other Jen Turano books? There was a mention of a lady marrying a man 20 years her junior because he was “virile” despite her never having experienced him in bed, even upon their marriage, with the connotation being that he was sleeping with other women. Whether Eunice was a child out of wedlock was in question, and there was also a mention of a man with a woman secretary/assistant that he seemed to pay more than was appropriate. There was also a mention of a man having a serious accident whereupon he was no longer able to be intimate. I am really unsure as to why there was all this more sexual content, but in my mind it seemed quite unnecessary, at least to go into that level of detail.

All in all, I feel like this book could be significantly shorter than it was, which would have made it much more enjoyable. I liked seeing the end of the series wrap up and a lot of the previous characters come back into play and where they’ve ended up, and the story was interesting overall. The twists and turns of the story made it really fun to follow, and Eunice’s journey was super non-conventional and unique. All in all, if you are a fan of Jen Turano’s writing style, stories, and characters, this would be a great book for you!

My Rating-

5/10

I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book which I received from the author. All views expressed are only my honest opinion; I was not required to write a positive review.

my 2022 bullet journal setup // bullet journalling.

Hello friends! Today I’m sharing my 2022 bullet journal set up! I think this is my 6th year bullet journaling, which is pretty crazy to think about. Setting up my new bullet journal is my favorite part of each year, and I’m excited to be sharing my set up with you this year!

Previous bullet journal blog posts!

All bullet journal blog posts: here


To start off, the supplies that I used this year basically the same as the ones that I’ve used previously. I’m once again using the Michaels Dot Grid Notebook, this year in taupe, which I’m very excited about. I love the quality of these notebooks, especially at their price point. As usual, I’m also using the Pentel Energel 0.7 black pen, Zebra Mildliners, and the Neutral Portrait 10-Pack of Tombow Dual Brush Pens. I know there’s a Sharpie gel pen in these photos, but honestly I’m not a fan of them lol and would not recommend.

I used the first few pages for my bullet journal for the index, although the notebook came with a few pages of “index” that I didn’t like the style of.

Next up, I have a grid spacing chart (which I *finally* remembered to put on the left side instead of the right . . . on my seventh bullet journal), as well as my 2022 goals/resolutions. I really like dividing my goals into 5 categories, and using these boxes to denote that has worked really well for me (as in, it works better for me to visualize them, not necessarily achieve them . . . lol).

Instead of a future log, this year I’m doing a memories spread instead, which looks basically the same as the typical futurelog, but instead of using it to prepare for upcoming events, I’ll use it to write down memories from over the course of the month. This is a new spread for me, and I’m excited to see it working! I think it will be much more beneficial to me than a future log, which I don’t ever really use.

Next up, I have some social media and photo trackers. I’ve been taking a photo a day for multiple years in a row, and this tracker is always how I keep track of them! I also have some trackers for Instagram followers and YouTube subscribers (shameless plug: Instagram and YouTube!). On the right side of the spread, I have space to write in the blogposts I write and videos I make, so that I have a way to keep track of what I do over the course of the year.

Next up are my reading trackers. I always forget to fill in these bookshelves spread, so this year I only have one, to track my TBR (books that I want to read this year), as opposed to previous years, where I spent a long time making these bookshelves only to not use them. I also have few pages to write the titles of books that I read over the course of the year.

The spreads after that are for more overall life maintenance. First, I have a financial tracker, just because this is the year I’ll hopefully get a job and start having more money moving in and out. I’m not 100% sure if I’ll use this spread yet, but I’ll have it here so that I can use it if I need to.

Next is my letter/pen pal trackers: on the left side I have an “address book”, where I write in the addresses of my pen pals/people I send mail to the most, and on the right side, I have a tracker of when I have letters to respond to, as well as anything else that I need to remember for my pen pals.

I also have a spread for room renovations: I’ve been slowly redoing my bedroom at home, and this spread will be for all the little tasks that I need to do before my room is fully complete. I have the page split into three categories: decorations, things to buy, and tasks. Having all of the stuff I need to do in once place will really help me keep on top of what needs to be done!

Lastly, I have my first few January spreads. I like my monthly spreads to be functional, while still being cute, so this is the layout I have. There is a section for goals, important dates, habits, and books to read. On the back two pages, I am tracking my sleep and focus tasks, and for the first time, I also have a brain dump page, where I can just put notes and random tasks that I need to achieve over the course of the month.

The weekly spread is where I get the most mileage out of my bullet journal, so I usually keep it pretty basic. It’s basically just a to do list for each day, and what I want to get done over the course of the week. It’s easy but works well for me!

All in all, I’m really pleased with how it turned out and I’m excited to use it this year!


Are you bullet journaling in 2022? What areas are you tracking? Which spread do you use the month: yearly, monthly, weekly, or daily? Leave a comment and let me know!

Book Review: To Treasure an Heiress by Roseanna M. White (The Secrets of the Isles #2)

About This Book-

1906

Beth Tremayne has always been drawn to adventure. During her childhood, she fed that desire by exploring every inch of the Isles of Scilly. Now, after stumbling across an old collection of letters and a map buried on her family’s property, she’s found more adventure than she ever anticipated in the hunt for pirate treasure. But in order to discover where the clues lead, she must search alongside Lord Sheridan, a man she finds insufferable.

Sheridan has spent years pursuing whatever archaeological interests pique his imagination. And when he discovers that Beth’s search connects with one of his far-removed pirate ancestors, he can’t help getting involved. Plus, he finds her irresistible, even though she insists he stole a prized possession of hers.

As they work together following different clues and drawing closer to danger, they start to piece together a story of tragic love and piratical adventure. But which treasure will bring the greatest surprise–the one they find in each other or the one just out of their reach?

My Review-

Similar Reviews-

One of my favorite things about Roseanna M. White’s books is how unique the settings and plots always are, and this book was no exception! This book was super unique: we were introduced to life on the Sicilian Isles, but this book delves deeper into that setting.

This book follows Beth, who has been looking for pirate treasure that has been rumored to exist around the island for years. It becomes more and more obvious that people are looking for this treasure and that she is on the right track, but no one is sure if the treasure even exists at all! At the same time, Sheridan is also invested in finding this treasure, but he is just pursuing it because of his own interest. Beth doesn’t trust Sheridan, but their research interests are so similar that they end up working together very closely, and they eventually fall in love.

My main gripe with this book is that it is utterly unmemorable: I distinctly remember enjoying the story while I was reading it, but I have truly no memory of what my favorite parts of it were, nor do I remember most of the plot points. I really liked the setting, and the background characters were really lovely: Mamm-wynn and Emily and Ainsley.

Beth was a really nice character and had a really nice personality, as well as a character arc that was interesting to follow. I really liked the enemies-to-lovers relationship she had with Sheridan, and their banter was very witty and very fun. I really liked Sheridan as a character: he had some struggles with his faith, but he stated the reasons why he doubted clearly and honestly. He never stopped pursuing his faith, and–my favorite part–called out Christians for making Christianity uninteresting and unappealing. His insistent pursuit of Beth left a bit of a nasty taste in my mouth, but aside from that, I really liked his character.

The secondary character arc, regarding Senara and her being taken advantage of by a man, was much heavier and I appreciated the discussion. I think there could have been a bit more nuanced discussion, but it was overall handled tactfully and Biblically.

Overall, I enjoyed this book! There weren’t any parts that particularly stuck out to me, but it was a pleasant read.

How strange were regrets. So many things she hated, yet without them, things she loved would never have been.

My Rating-

3/5

I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book which I received from the author. All views expressed are only my honest opinion; I was not required to write a positive review.