Blue Haven by Lisa King Review

Blue Haven is
a science-fiction thriller that explores what innovation can achieve—and
destroy—despite the best intentions. King’s imaginative world-building and use
of moral ambiguity make this page-turning novel a thought-provoking thrill
that’s impossible to put 
down

By Lisa King

Welcome to Blue Haven, the world’s most lucrative condo corporation—so exclusive that only five lucky residents live in this lush, tropical paradise, housed in a top-secret location.

Among them is twenty-five-year-old Aloe Malone, an introvert and former waitress who traded bussing tables for lengthy sleep-ins, ocean dips, Michelin-star restaurants, spectacular sunsets, and unlikely new friends—all thanks to a spurious lottery win.

Life’s good.

Damn good.

That is, until Aloe discovers a journal.

Seemingly left by a past resident named Eloise whose entries are both sad and evoking, Aloe quickly suspects there’s more to Blue Haven than meets the eye.

Her suspicions are confirmed when visions arise, gruesome hallucinations she can’t understand, followed by a strange yet familiar man lurking in places he shouldn’t. Something’s wrong. Or maybe it’s all in her head. Regardless, she vows to uncover the truth.

Except someone wants to keep her quiet, and it’s the last person she ever suspected.

Blue Haven is a science-fiction thriller that explores what innovation can achieve—and destroy—despite the best intentions. King’s imaginative world building and use of moral ambiguity make this page-turning novel a thought-provoking thrill that’s impossible to put down.

Book Information

Release Date: May 31, 2022

Publisher:  The Story Plant

Soft Cover: ISBN: 978-1611883206; 336 pages; $26.95; E-Book, $7.49

Book Trailer https://youtu.be/DgnqxcZLRcg

Amazon: https://amzn.to/3LVsZB0

Barnes & Noble: https://bit.ly/3waPpHv

Indigo: https://bit.ly/3MWRayO

IndieBound: https://www.indiebound.org/book/9781611883206

Book Depository: https://bit.ly/3kNK4kk

My Thoughts

I was in a Summer reading mood when I picked up Blue Haven. I had just finished working for the school year and was eager to start my summer with a book that would give me the “summer feels”. This book was the perfect read for that and so much more. It is very atmospheric, when I opened the book, I was immediately transported to Blue Haven, experiencing what Aloe was experiencing.

This story exceeded my expectations and is my favorite read of 2022. There were several jaw dropping twists and things that I was shocked by in a good way. I am still thinking about the story a week after I have finished it.

I highly recommend this book but urge readers to go into it knowing as little as possible about it, it’s so much fun! It does have some bad language but overall the content is pretty clean.

I received a copy of this book from the author/publisher to read and review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

My Rating

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Day One

Less than twenty-four hours earlier, Aloe Malone was sitting on a
tattered couch, a distinct eagerness coursing through her veins. She shivered;
her radiator was on the fritz again, sputtering from one side, cackling,
rendering her tiny bachelor apartment bone-cold uncomfortable. She curled into
a sweater, still freezing, slowly succumbing to the chronic, aggravating chill.

And then she laughed, her breath puffy with condensation. She’d
worked her last shift at the diner, and said her meager and limited
goodbyes—except the one owed to her crummy apartment.

“Sayonara, shithole,” she whispered under her
breath.

Now, she squinted into the radiant sun: hot
but not fierce, a tempered warmth that was perfect and satisfying. She pressed
her feet into the fairy dust sand and gave her toes a wiggle. She’d never felt
sand like this before: white, delicate, possibly otherworldly, like it’d been
manufactured in a laboratory or harvested from another universe. Like someone
had broken one million hourglasses to populate this beach.

She turned to her personal concierge, Amir.
“Is this … real sand?”

Surely, it couldn’t be.

He nodded. “Real indeed. One of the many
reasons we chose this location.”

This location: a mysterious venue somewhere on planet Earth. She’d love to know
the actual coordinates and considered asking (for the third time) but
confidentiality was part of the deal. If you wanted to live in the world’s most
lucrative beachfront community, secrecy was paramount.

Still, she dug her toes deeper into the cushy grains. What
part of the world produces sand like this? Aruba? Somewhere in South Asia? The
Philippines?

She stared skeptically at Amir. His natural tan and dark features
were clearly exotic. And his name, Amir. Was that Arabic?

“Aloe?” He touched her arm. “Are you feeling okay? You look a bit
dazed.”

Her mind floated back. “Yeah, sorry. Still a little groggy.”

“That’s a very common side effect,” he replied. “Rest assured,
you’ll be back to normal in a few hours at most.”

She nodded, somewhat attuned to the aftermath of drugs slugging
through her arteries. The whole “going under” aspect had been daunting: a white
mask, followed by slow, deep inhalations; counting down from ten, as requested;
waking somewhere new and unknown— though it made good, logical sense. How else
were people supposed to fly to a top-secret paradise without discovering its
whereabouts?

Besides, look at this fucking view.
The oceanfront, steps away, was a prism of blue light. Turquoise lapped at the
shoreline, fading to a sumptuous cerulean. The sky was a lovely robin’s egg,
swept with long, lazy clouds. Her eyes found the horizon. There was nothing in
the distance, no islands, shorelines, or glimpses. Just pure, unadulterated
space.

Aloe turned to the billowing palm trees swaying in her periphery.
Not an imposing number, just enough to provide a calculated amount of shade.
Unlike other beaches she’d visited, Blue Haven’s was devoid of human life; and
that, was its true appeal. No sandcastles or shoddily impaled umbrellas or
squawking birds begging for scraps of potato chips. Blue Haven was a
stock-grade computer background that didn’t exist in real life—except it did,
to her absolute astonishment.

“Paradise,” she looked at Amir and smiled. “Y’all weren’t lying.”

“We aim to please,” he replied. “Go ahead, test the water. Dip
your toe in. We’ve installed top-of-the-line thermoregulators to ensure the
perfect temperature. Always.”

“You’re heating … the ocean?”

“Only as required.”

“Wow,” she replied, stepping forward.

A wave drifted over her toes, warm as bathwater, and she instantly
unwound. A salty gust of air filled her lungs, causing her chest to lift.

And just like that, the unshakeable sense of irresolution that’d
been following her for years was suddenly gone. All that mattered was here and
now—this moment.

“How’s the temperature?” Amir asked.

She returned to his side with a lightness in her step. “Perfect.”

“Excellent.” He tucked a fuchsia hibiscus behind her ear, and for
some reason this motion summoned a pang of guilt. Her stomach lurched, and the
weight of her body returned.

Did she really deserve this new life?

The answer was clear and undisputed. Of course not. No cognizant,
twenty-five-year-old could honestly admit otherwise. She’d simply gotten lucky.

Then again, who was she to contest the force of luck?

“Are you ready to continue with the tour?” Amir asked.

She took one last glance at the ocean, nodding. The view was
dreamy, glorious, enchanting—beyond any adjective she’d ever learned. Maybe she
didn’t deserve this life, but it had found her. The only choice now was
acceptance.

Even if Blue Haven seemed too good to be true.

 


Lisa King
 is a Canadian fiction author and researcher whose work on veteran mental health has been published in numerous academic journals. She holds degrees in psychology and neuroscience, both from Western University. Aside from writing, she enjoys family outings, ample coffee, and unapologetic napping. She lives in London, Ontario with her husband, daughter, and wonky-eyed cat.

Her latest book is the adult science fiction/psychological thriller, Blue Haven.

You can vist her website at www.AuthorLisaKing.com or connect with her on Twitter and Instagram.

 
Sponsored By:

Mustique Island by Sarah McCoy Review

Synopsis

From bestselling author Sarah McCoy, a sun-splashed romp with a rich divorcee and her two wayward daughters in 1970s Mustique, the world’s most exclusive private island, where Princess Margaret and Mick Jagger were regulars and scandals stayed hidden from the press…

It’s January 1972 but the sun is white hot when Willy May Michael’s boat first kisses the dock of Mustique Island. Tucked into the southernmost curve of the Caribbean, Mustique is a private island that has become a haven for the wealthy and privileged. Its owner is the eccentric British playboy Colin Tennant, who is determined to turn this speck of white sand into a luxurious neo-colonial retreat for his rich friends and into a royal court in exile for the Queen’s rebellious sister, Princess Margaret—one where Her Royal Highness can skinny dip, party, and entertain lovers away from the public eye.

Willy May, a former beauty queen from Texas—who is also no stranger to marital scandals—seeks out Mustique for its peaceful isolation. Determined to rebuild her life and her relationships with her two daughters, Hilly, a model, and Joanne, a musician, she constructs a fanciful white beach house across the island from Princess Margaret—and finds herself pulled into the island’s inner circle of aristocrats, rock stars, and hangers-on.

When Willy May’s daughters arrive, they discover that beneath its veneer of decadence, Mustique has a dark side, and like sand caught in the undertow, their mother-daughter story will shift and resettle in ways they never could have imagined. 

My thoughts

First of all, the cover of this book screams summer read! I was so excited to pick it up when I saw this gorgeous cover.

This book was extremely atmospheric and the perfect beach read. Set in the 70s on Mustique Island, the reader gets a taste of how the wealthy socialites live. I googled the places described in the book and was surprised and delighted to see that they were in fact, real places. I found the story interesting, especially when Princess Margaret made appearances but didn’t gel well with the writing style and found it slightly boring. Overall an okay read.

I received a copy of this book from the author/publisher to read and review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Among the Innocent by Mary Alford review

Synopsis

When Leah Miller’s entire Amish family was murdered ten years ago, the person believed responsible took his own life. Since then, Leah left the Amish and joined the police force. Now, after another Amish woman is found murdered with the same MO, it becomes clear that the wrong man may have been blamed for her family’s deaths.

As Leah and the new police chief, Dalton Cooper, work long hours struggling to fit the pieces together in order to catch the killer, they can’t help but grow closer. When secrets from both of their pasts begin to surface, an unexpected connection between them is revealed. But this is only the beginning. Could it be that the former police chief framed an innocent man to keep the biggest secret of all buried? And what will it mean for Leah–and Dalton–when the full truth comes to light?

USA Today bestselling author Mary Alford keeps you guessing as two determined souls plumb the dark depths of the past in order to forge a brighter future–together.

My Thoughts

I was very interested on this book based on the synopsis. Most Amish Christian fiction books that I’ve read are romance based so the concept of a serial killer in the Amish community sounded really intriguing. Unfortunately, this one just wasn’t it.

I found the story to be extremely far fetched in several way. I’m not a police expert but I am pretty sure when there is a serial killer stalking a small community, the FBI steps in. I also found it slightly ridiculous that the main character who was once a victim of said killer was allowed to help with the current case. It seemed like a huge conflict of interest to me.

The romance was also not my favorite, but that is a running pet peeve that I have with Christian suspense. It seems that these characters always want to add romance to their lives in spite of being stalked, assaulted, looking for killers, etc.

There are many high ratings for this book so I think many people will enjoy it, it just wasn’t for me. There were some graphic descriptions of murder scenes for those who are a bit squeamish.

I received this book to read and review from the publisher. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

My Rating

I Do or I Don’t by Rob Edwards Review and Giveaway

I am thrilled to be hosting a spot on the I DO OR I DON’T by Rob Edwards Blog
Tour hosted by Rockstar Book
Tours
. Check out my post and make sure to enter the giveaway!

About the Book:

Title: I DO OR I DON’T

Author: Rob Edwards

Pub. Date: May 18, 2022

Publisher: Rayn Media Inc.

Formats: Paperback, eBook

Pages: 284

Find it: GoodreadsAmazon, Kindle, iBooks, Kobo

Beautiful Brooke Winthrop, and brash Becca Dodge are known in
Hollywood circles as the Queen B’s for their meteoric success. They are the
host and producer of 
I Do or I Don’t, the number-one-rated reality
television show in the country. It is a whirlwind courtship show that ends
every episode at the altar where two people must decide, on live TV, whether
they will say the words that will change the rest of their lives.

One unlucky bride says, “I do,” only to be murdered by the groom on their
honeymoon. The distraught father of the bride holds Brooke and Becca
accountable. He manages to kidnap them and produce his own internet show based
on the format of their program. Brooke and Becca are run through the scenarios
they put their couples through. They must use these brief moments to prove
their innocence or be killed in the last episode.

 

My Review:

This was a such a fun book! It combined 2 of my favorite things…thrillers and reality tv. The story focuses on a reality show called I Do or I Don’t, which reminded me a lot of a mashup between  “Married at First Sight” and “The Bachelor”. The story quickly takes a dark turn and pulls the reader along through many twists and turns.

Reading this book made me think back fondly to my years of watching reality tv when it was still in it’s infancy…the silly shows like “Temptation Island”, “Average Joe”, and “Joe Millionaire” (those were the days!)

Overall, this was a super fun book that had lots of surprises. Highly recommended!

I received this book from the author/publisher to read/review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

 

About Rob Edwards:

The majority of Rob Edwards working life has been in the
video and film production world, giving him ample experience with storytelling
and the creative process. He has written throughout his career and has won
national and international awards for his work.

He is now transforming his efforts to the page, rather than
the screen.

Rob lives in the mid-Michigan area
with his bride. Together they enjoy traveling, foodie adventures, wine tasting,
reading, and generally being outdoors.

He currently works as a Media
Development Specialist and teaches video post-production.

Rob loves hearing from readers, so
please feel free to contact him.

Website
Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | Goodreads | Amazon | BookBub

 

Giveaway Details:

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5/27/2022

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Iron and Fire by Kerrin Willis Review

Publication Date: April 5, 2022
eBook & Paperback; 316 pages

Genre: Historical Fiction

1675 — Plymouth Colony — Verity Parker promised to look after her family.

Raised among the bookshops and turmoil of Reformation London, Verity now finds herself in Puritan New England, where she must learn to keep her head down and her mouth shut, or risk dire consequences. The only person who values her tenacity is Kit, the heretical ironworker she has been forbidden to see. When King Philip’s War breaks out, Verity must stay silent as the Puritan elders spread hateful rhetoric about the “savages” in the forest. When she witnesses a young girl die in childbirth, Verity must stand by as neighbors blame God’s vengeance. But when tragedy strikes her own home, Verity must choose between her duty to her family and her love for Kit. Will she choose to keep the peace, or will she defy the leaders of the colony for a chance at happiness?

Set against the backdrop of King Philip’s War, the bloodiest war per capita in American history, Iron & Fire explores the experience of a clever, educated woman at a time when being so often resulted in death. Perfect for fans of Amy Belding Brown’s Flight of the Sparrow, or Elizabeth George Speare’s The Witch of Blackbird Pond, Iron & Fire was written for those who read the original American Girl series as children and are now all grown up.

AMAZON | BARNES AND NOBLE | WALMART

My Thoughts

This story is set in a time period that I find very interesting but haven’t read a lot about. The story follows Verity who has moved with her mother and sister from London to New England shortly after the new colony has been settled. I really liked the comparisons that Verity made as someone who came from a well established city to live in a very new colony. Verity identified more as a Quaker than a Puritan and I found this very interesting. I did some extra research on the Puritans vs. Quakers and although similar, there were some stark differences in their beliefs. As a Christian, I found that I share some beliefs with both groups.

The author created a very atmospheric setting and was very good at increasing the tension as war began to brew between the English Settlers and the Native Americans. This book really caused me to think about this time period and the injustices that occurred. I had never heard about King Phillip’s War and found it very interesting to read about.

Overall, this was a very informative book. There was some language that I didn’t agree with and I was surprised a few times with how far the author went with vulgarity. I would not classify this story as a clean read.

I received this book from the author/publisher to read/review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Praise

“Whether you’re a fan of passionate romance, a detective in search of a mystery, or a history buff looking to learn more about what happened after Plymouth Rock, Iron & Fire has something for everyone. While Verity and Kit are the main attractions, the family relationships were my favorite parts- especially the bonds between the cheeky eldest Parker sisters. I learned quite a bit about things from my own backyard I knew nothing about- and most appreciated that for a novel that took place nearly 350 years ago, the characters and their issues felt modern and relatable. A fast read that will stick with you after you turn the final page!” Meredith Bickford, MA MEd

“Iron and Fire masterfully depicts Puritan New England in a story that seamlessly blends themes of love, war, and family. Verity Parker, the headstrong protagonist, challenges nearly every “norm” of Puritan society. Throughout the course of the novel, Verity seeks to define her purpose; oftentimes she is trapped deciding between meeting the expectations of her family or embracing her divergent worldview. In particular, Verity’s conception of humanity will make her an endearing and relatable character for Willis’ audience; unlike her peers, Verity’s notion of justice and community extends far beyond societal limitations, making her worldview far more relevant for modern readers.
Beyond Verity, Willis incorporates a series of complex characters whose subtle growth help shape the novel into a well-rounded story. Each character faces a conflict that calls their identities and beliefs into question. It is unlikely that readers will not be able to find one character with whom they can relate to. Willis’ ability to interweave these intricate story lines is captivating!” ~ Megan Johnson, MEd

“In her debut novel, Kerrin Willis captures the heart of American colonial historical fiction with her words and characters. Iron & Fire, set during the King Phillip War in southeastern Massachusetts, explores the themes of family dynamics, love, and the voice of independent women living in a time when silence was the standard….The writing style is fluent and peppered with wit and descriptive prose balanced throughout the dialogue. The novel reads quickly, while the characters stay with you. Iron & Fire is an engaging, character-driven novel that is strongly recommended” ~Kimberly Rocha, MA MEd

About The Author

 Kerrin Willis lives in Southeastern Massachusetts with her two daughters and her dog, Austen. She is a high school English teacher who prides herself on being a feminist and a strong protagonist in her own story, and she would probably have been burned as a witch in colonial New England. Kerrin can usually be found pausing The Little Mermaid and subjecting her daughters to a lecture on the dangers of giving up their voices.

Kerrin has a BA in English from Stonehill College, and MA in English from Simmons College, and is currently working on her MFA in Fiction from Southern New Hampshire University.

WEBSITE | FACEBOOK | TWITTER | INSTAGRAM | GOODREADS

A Lighthouse Cafe Christmas by Jennifer Faye Review

On Tour with Prism Book Tours
A Lighthouse Christmas Café
(Bluestar Island #3)
By Jennifer Faye
Contemporary Romance
Paperback & ebook, 182 Pages
November 16, 2021 by Lazy Dazy Press

As Bluestar Island prepares for a very special Christmas wedding, Santa’s sleigh crashes into The Lighthouse Café, reuniting Bluestar’s beloved waitress with her former fiancé.

In this holiday novella, Darla Evans has carved out a quiet life for herself as a waitress at The Lighthouse Café. Up until this point, she’s conveniently avoided the one man who shattered her heart and her dreams. But when a wedding draws him back to the island, she knows their meetup is unavoidable.

Tech entrepreneur William “Will” Campbell has returned to his childhood home to be the best man in his father’s wedding. But first his father has a very special task for him—to restore a sleigh in time for the wedding. However, there’s not much time until Christmas. He just might need some help.

As snowflakes cover the small town of Bluestar, Will and Darla work together to make it a very special holiday wedding. With the past looming between them, will the magic of the season open their hearts and allow them to find love again?

Includes a holiday recipe for Darla’s frosted sugar cookies!

The Bell Family of Bluestar Island:
Book 1 – Love Blooms
(Hannah & Ethan)
Book 2 – Harvest Dance (Aster & Sam)
Book 3 – A Lighthouse Café Christmas (Darla & Will)
Book 4 – Rising Star (coming soon)

(Affiliate links included.)

My Thoughts

This was a very sweet story about Will and Darla, who once loved each other and are brought together again in their hometown of Bluestar. If you are a fan of Hallmark Christmas movies, you will love this book…reading the story was such a cozy experience. Bluestar was such a delightful place to visit…a town in which golf carts are the only mode of transportation seems like my kind of place! The romance between Darla and Will was sweet but I actually liked the romance between Will’s father and his future wife even more. I appreciated that the content of the story and the romances were clean. Overall, this was a perfect story for those busy December days when you need a break and want some cozy Christmas feels.

I received a complimentary copy of this book per FTC’s rules. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Other Books in the Series

About the Author

Award-winning author, Jennifer Faye pens fun, heartwarming contemporary romances with rugged cowboys, sexy billionaires and enchanting royalty. Internationally published with books translated into nine languages. She is a two-time winner of the RT Book Reviews Reviewers’ Choice Award, the CataRomance Reviewers’ Choice Award, named a TOP PICK author, and been nominated for numerous other awards.

 

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Ends December 8, 2021



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Tacos for Two by Betsy St. Amant Review

Synopsis

Rory Perez, a food truck owner who can’t cook, is struggling to keep the business she inherited from her aunt out of the red–and an upcoming contest during Modest’s annual food truck festival seems the best way to do it. The prize money could finally give her a solid financial footing and keep her cousin with special needs paid up at her beloved assisted living home. Then maybe Rory will have enough time to meet the man she’s been talking to via an anonymous online dating site.

Jude Strong is tired of being a puppet at his manipulative father’s law firm, and the food truck festival seems like the perfect opportunity to dive into his passion for cooking and finally call his life his own. But if he loses the contest, he’s back at the law firm for good. Failure is not an option.

Complications arise when Rory’s chef gets mono and she realizes she has to cook after all. Then Jude discovers that his stiffest competition is the same woman he’s been falling for online the past month.

Will these unlikely chefs sacrifice it all for the sake of love? Or will there only ever be tacos for one?

My Thoughts

This was such a fun story and a nice break from the darker stories that I have been consuming in October.

The story follows Rory and Jude who are communicating on an anonymous dating app and happen to also know each other in real life. Rory owns a food truck but is not the best cook and Jude is a few steps from becoming a lawyer but really would love to be a cook. (It’s fairly easy to see where the story will go). The predictability of romance stories is one of the main reasons that I don’t often reach for them. I tend to enjoy the twists in a book the most, so when I can see the ending coming from the first chapter, I don’t have as much fun. (Unpopular opinion, but I also don’t enjoy Hallmark movies for the same reason…)

For a contemporary romance story, given that it’s not my preferred genre, I really enjoyed it. I loved all of the food references and found myself hungry for Tacos several times while reading it.

I also found that Rory and Jude were enjoyable to follow…the fact that Rory owned a food truck but couldn’t cook often made me smile. There are many moments where the reader gets to see the messages between Rory and Jude on their anonymous dating site and the banter is a lot of fun to read, I also liked seeing their relationship evolve. It was nice to see them fall in love with each other based on personality only. The story was very clean but had very little faith content.

There were also lots of references to “You’ve Got Mail” but again, I’ve never seen the movie so they flew right over my head. I was obviously not the intended audience for this one.

Overall, this was a cute, clean “pallet cleanser” story for me that I enjoyed for what it was. Fans of romance would most likely love it. Recommended!

I received a copy of this book from the author/publisher to read and review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

My Rating



Spouse in The House by Cynthia Ruchti and Becky Melby

About the Book

A frank and funny look at what to do when together is too close
 
Two’s company, especially for those who love each other. So what happens when—due to retirement, working from home, or even running a business together—spouses find that being in the same space all the time is awkward, complex, annoying, and just plain challenging? How can partners coexist without co-exhausting each other?
 
Cynthia Ruchti and Becky Melby know all too well how adjusting to a new, all-the-time closeness can cause the bliss of marriage to form blisters. Drawing from their experiences, and from men and women across the country in the same situation, the authors take a deep breath and dive into the root causes. They dig into what God’s Word has to say, and they offer practical tips for learning the spiritual, emotional, relational, and even physical steps that can help readers replace irritation with peace.
 
For any couple who wants their home to be a refuge of peace and serenity for all—not just themselves—and who wants to know they aren’t alone in the mental and physical claustrophobia of too much togetherness, Spouse in the House is a vulnerable, charming, and pragmatic breath of hope.
 
Click here to read an excerpt from Spouse in the House.

My Thoughts

Although my spouse is not always in the house…I have experienced moments when I feel like it’s a bit harder to spend long periods of time together. As I type this review, Steve and I are 18 days away from our 20th wedding anniversary, which honestly blows my mind. We are still very much in love but sometimes I think we take each other for granted. This book approaches this issue that many wives face due to retirement, sickness, working from home, pandemics, etc. in a very useful but funny way. I adored the writing style of both authors and found myself nodding in agreement and giggling out loud at times.

The main theme of the book that I found was taking note of the status of your marriage and finding ways to keep it running smoothly. I took many great tips from it even though I’m not quite at the “he’s home all the time” stage yet. I also loved that it focuses on putting God in the center, which is extremely important for a healthy marriage.

This was one of the best marriage books I’ve read in a long time and I recommend it for any married couple who have been together for a while.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher/authors to review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

About the Authors

Cynthia Ruchti tells stories hemmed in hope through her novels, novellas, devotions, and nonfiction, and through speaking for women’s events, retreats, writers’ conferences, and workshops. She draws from 33 years of experience writing and producing the 15-minute daily radio broadcast, “The Heartbeat of the Home.”

Ruchti’s more than thirty books have garnered reader, retailer, reviewer, and other industry awards. She serves as Professional Relations Liaison for American Christian Fiction Writers, is a founding board member of the Deliver Hope ministry and is part of the worship team at her church. She’s also a literary agent with Books & Such Literary Management.

Ruchti and her husband, Bill, live in the heart of Wisconsin, not far from their three children and six grandchildren.

Learn more about Cynthia Ruchti and her writing at cynthiaruchti.comor by following her on Facebook (@CynthiaRuchtiReaderPage)Instagram (@cynthiaruchtiauthor), and Twitter (@cynthiaruchti).

Becky Melby has authored more than twenty novels and novellas. Spouse in the House is her first non-fiction book release.
 
The Melbys have four sons and fifteen grandchildren and make their home in southeastern Wisconsin. When not writing or spoiling grandchildren, she may be found touring the country with Bill in their camper or on their Honda Gold Wing motorcycle.
 
Find out more about Becky Melby’s books at beckymelby.com or follow her on Facebook (becky.melby.9) and Instagram (@beckymelbybooks). She also shares short blog posts each Friday on the Fill My Cup, Lord page on Facebook.

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Pretty Broken Dolls by Jennifer Chase Review

 

As the killer circles closer and closer to
Katie, what if the only answer is to give him what he wants? 

By Jennifer Chase

Title: PRETTY BROKEN DOLLS
Author: Jennifer Chase
Publisher: Bookouture
Pages: 302
Genre: Crime Thriller

 

In the thin light of the moon, the woman’s limp body hangs from the iron fence amongst the redwoods. Looped over the railings is the little gold locket her mother gave her when she turned sixteen. The picture of the girl inside smiles out at a future she’ll never see…

As day breaks over the fairground, Detective Katie Scott forces herself to take in another disturbing scene in front of her. A woman, the same age as her, found slumped in the carriage of the Ferris wheel, red lipstick dragged across her lips, her throat cut.

Katie doesn’t want to believe that the serial killer picking off women across the state has found their way to the small town of Pine Valley, California, but when her team finds a gold engagement ring hanging nearby, it’s a terrifying, but undeniable fact.

With a twisted killer on her doorstep, Katie knows if she doesn’t act fast, she’ll find more women left out in the cold like broken dolls. Her team hit dead end after dead end, but only she can see the vital link between the victims: a connection with Katie herself.

Katie has spent years pushing traumatic memories of her years in the military far out of reach, but she must confront them now or more innocent women will die. But as the killer circles closer and closer to Katie, what if the only answer is to give him what he wants? There must be another way…

Warning – This absolutely unputdownable thriller will keep you up all night! Fans of Lisa Regan, Rachel Caine and Melinda Leigh better hold on tight for a nail-biting rollercoaster ride!

PRAISE

5 Stars! “This is the first book in the series I have read – and I want more! Suspense up to the end, characters I enjoyed, and K9 units. Loved it!” – NetGalley

5 Stars! “As always this Jennifer Chase thriller just cries out to be read in one sitting. Here we see Katie get tangled up with a serial killer although it takes time before anyone takes her seriously. Great characters and a great story, I loved this book.” – NetGalley

My Thoughts

Although this was the 6th book in a series, I was able to quickly get into the story and follow along. The story is a police procedural that follows Detective Katie Scott as she investigates a series of brutal murders where the victims are posed like broken dolls. Police procedurals are not books that I often gravitate to but I really enjoyed following Katie and seeing the process. I also loved the K9 unit aspect of it…I’m constantly amazed at the way police and military are able to use dogs to help with crimes.

The story was full of suspense and action, along with several twists and turns. It moved super fast and was difficult to put down. I highly recommend this one! I’m looking forward to going back in the series and reading more from this author.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher/author to review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

 

PROLOGUE

The front door
stood ajar. It bumped gently against the jamb in rhythm with the evening
breeze. The screen remained wide open and was bent precariously around the aluminum
frame. Pieces of broken glass from a shattered light bulb above had scattered
across the porch, leaving behind a shadowy darkness draped across the front of
the small house.

The
neighborhood remained quiet; the light blue one-story cottage eerily so. No
outside illumination or motion lights flooded the front area. The blooming
climbing vines and perfectly manicured bushes were eclipsed by the darkness.

Headlights
approached.

A
small, dark vehicle pulled into the driveway. Waiting a moment before turning
off the engine, a woman pushed open the car door and stepped out. The young
redhead was dressed for the evening, in a sparkly blouse and tight black pants.
Wavering a moment in her spiked sandals, she looked at the house in
curiosity—and then in disappointment. Quickly grabbing a warm jacket from
inside the car and slipping it on, she walked up the driveway.

“Jeanine,
where are you?” she whispered and headed to the front door, ignoring the
shattered light bulb on the step crunching under her feet. She knocked on the
door. “Jeanine,” she said, more loudly, leaning closer to the opening. “We
waited for you… you missed a great party.”

No
response.

The
front door pushed open, revealing a darkened interior.

“Jeanine?”

The
woman hesitated but seemed to be pulled by an unknown force. She stepped over
the threshold, not bothering to close the door, and moved through the living
room. Confused by the darkness, she turned on a lamp sitting on a small table.
The room lit up instantly. Everything seemed in place. The oversized beige
couches with brightly colored throw pillows, the dark mahogany coffee table
with neatly stacked magazines and books precisely centered appeared usual for
Jeanine’s house. It was always neat and organized.

“Jeanine?”
the woman said again. “Are you here?”

The
woman walked around and checked the kitchen and small bedroom, but there wasn’t
any sign of her friend. She eyed a piece of paper on the counter and decided to
leave a quick note, scratching out that she had stopped by and asking Jeanine
to call her when she got the message.

She
suddenly noticed a strange high-pitched whistling noise coming from the other
side of the living room. Curious, the woman moved closer to the sound. The back
sliding door was slightly open. The crack was enough for the wind to invade and
make a strange noise.

Her
foot touched something. A tall turquoise vase that had been sitting on a shelf
nearby was now lying on the carpet. It seemed strange to her that it had been
knocked over. She bent down and picked up the vase, replacing it on the shelf.

She
retrieved her cell phone from her pocket and tried calling Jeanine again. It
rang numerous times and then went to voicemail where Jeanine’s upbeat voice
said, “Hi, sorry I missed your call but please
don’t hang up. Leave a message and I’ll get right back to you.”

The
greeting was followed by a quick beep.

“Jeanine,
it’s Mandy again and now I’m standing in your living room. Where are you, girl?
Everyone was asking about you tonight. Hey, and you left your front door open.
Call me.” She ended the call.

Mandy
was about to head back to the front door to leave, but something stopped her—it
didn’t feel right—and instead, she stood at the sliding door staring out into
the large backyard where dense rows of pine trees and acacia bushes huddled
around the house’s boundary. During the day, the property appeared green and
lush, but now it looked gloomy and foreboding.

Mandy
flipped on the outside light, but it only lit up the patio areas directly
outside the house, and the extended wooded region still looked dark.

She
pulled open the sliding door and the wind whipped through the house. It chilled
her. Goosebumps scuttled up her arms. Worry now set in and she didn’t know what
to do. Redialing Jeanine’s number, Mandy listened to it sound again and in
unison heard the faint, far-off ringing of a phone somewhere in the distance.

She
stepped outside, trying to decipher where the ringing was coming from.
“Jeanine?” she said, noticing that one of the outside chairs had been toppled
over and lay precariously on its side.

Moving
off the stone patio and pulling her jacket more tightly around her, Mandy
slowly trudged toward the trees, a bit wobbly in her shoes. She turned on the
flashlight mode on her cell phone and moved forward.

She
dialed Jeanine again. This time, she heard the distinct ringing of the cell
phone coming from the trees—low at first and then it rang louder.

Jeanine,” she said, with barely a whisper. Her voice sounded oddly
distant.

Looking
down, she saw where there were crushed weeds and small broken branches as if
someone had walked back and forth recently. Still, she kept moving forward,
into the trees, swinging her cell phone back and forth which only illuminated a
tiny patch of ground in front of her, creating dense shadows outside its beam.

Her
pulse quickened.

Anxiety
escalated.

Something
fluttering on a bush caught her eye. She leaned closer, focusing. As she moved
the cell light beam nearer, it revealed a piece of white fabric with a
mother-of-pearl button still attached.

Mandy
gasped.

It
wasn’t the fact that she had seen Jeanine wear that pretty white blouse on so
many occasions, it was the droplets of crimson spattered across the fabric that
shoved a spear of fear into her gut.

Thoughts
of dread and horror-filled scenarios ran through Mandy’s mind. Urgently, she
pushed the redial button on her phone again.

The
sound of Jeanine’s ringtone rang in the darkness. This time it kept ringing and
there was no cheerful message.

Mandy
walked further into the dark realm of the trees, still hoping that there was a
logical explanation. Stepping over old branches with loud crunching noises and
sidestepping bushes just before reaching the back fence of the property, she
managed to make her way to the sound of the ringing phone.

Everything
went quiet.

Mandy
stood a foot from the phone lying on the ground. It mesmerized her. She slowly
bent down to pick it up. With a startled gasp, she stepped back, dropping the
phone as she stared at her hand. It was covered in blood.

In
a frenzied panic, Mandy ran past the phone and continued along the low
wrought-iron fence. The flashlight feature dimmed and she couldn’t see where
she was going. Slowing her pace, she glimpsed something white and moving
slightly.

“Jeanine?
What’s going on?” She spoke in a strained whisper.

Trying
to catch her breath and calm her hammering pulse, Mandy approached. Her cell
phone flashlight surged and shone brightly on the blood-soaked white silk
blouse, now shredded from Jeanine’s right shoulder. She reeled back at the
sight of her friend.

Mandy
couldn’t tear her eyes away from the horror. Her throat constricted as her
breath trapped in her chest. She staggered backwards, taking in the entire
scene—unable to turn her focus away.

Her
friend’s upper body was impaled on the iron fence penetrating from her back
through her ribs, and her throat was slit open. Her head flopped down, lifeless
eyes trained on the ground. Her long brown hair fell forward, some strands
sticking to the blood seeping from her chest. Her arms hung at her sides, legs
crooked, like a marionette waiting for someone to pull the strings. Blood still
dripped from her body, sliding down her arms to her fingertips before
collecting on the ground—the wet crimson almost matching her fingernail polish.
The body was shoeless and Jeanine’s feet were dirty and bloody—as if she had
been running through the woods barefoot.

It
was the sight of Jeanine’s face that made her sob in terror. Caked in grotesque
makeup, making her look like a caricature of herself—a hideous broken doll. Red
lipstick drawn heavy around her lips, dark purples for blush on her cheeks, and
dark blues for eye shadow made her look like a circus clown instead of her
friend.

Beside
Jeanine’s body, a necklace hung on the fence. It was a small locket that she
always wore, which her mother had given her when she turned sixteen.

Mandy mouthed the
word “Jeanine” but no sound escaped her lips. Realizing she still had her cell
phone in her hand, she tried to dial 911 but fumbled a few times with the
buttons before she heard the words, Nine-one-one,
what’s your emergency?”

Jennifer Chase is a multi award-winning and USA Today BestSelling crime fiction author, as well as a consulting criminologist. Jennifer holds a bachelor’s degree in police forensics and a master’s degree in criminology & criminal justice. These academic pursuits developed out of her curiosity about the criminal mind as well as from her own experience with a violent psychopath, providing Jennifer with deep personal investment in every story she tells. In addition, she holds certifications in serial crime and criminal profiling.  She is an affiliate member of the International Association of Forensic Criminologists, and member of the International Thriller Writers. You can visit her website at www.authorjenniferchase.com or connect with her on TwitterGoodreads and Facebook.

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A Midnight Dance by Joanna Davidson Politano Review

Synopsis

All theater romances are tragedies. Ella Blythe knows this. Still, she cannot help but hope her own story may turn out different than most–and certainly different than the tragic story of the Ghost of Craven Street Theater. Yet as she struggles to maintain her tenuous place in the ever-shrinking ballet company, win the attentions of principal dancer Philippe, and avoid company flirt Jack, Ella cannot deny the uncanny feeling that her life is mirroring that of the dead ballerina.

Is she dancing ever closer to the edge of her own tragic end? Or will the secrets that are about to come to light offer release from the past?

Mystery and romance make the perfect dance partners in this evocative story from fan-favorite Joanna Davidson Politano.

My Thoughts

This is my third read by Joanna Davidson Politano and they keep getting better and better! This story follows Ella, whose mother was once a famous principle dancer in the ballet company that she is now part of (but no one knows this). The story is full of mystery and surprising twists as well as beautiful ballet descriptions from 1800s London. I was swept into the story from the moment I picked the book up until the moment I put it down. I can still remember the feelings of standing on the large stage with Ella during ballet practice or walking down the dark London streets late at night as she was on her way home. Politano is an extremely gifted writer and her descriptions truly put the reader into the story.

The faith content in this book was beautiful. Ella felt far from God and she struggled with the fame that she received and wished for as she knew that it wasn’t what God desired for her. She had a lot of internal struggles that she worked through in the book and I appreciated the “realness” of her faith.

There was so much that I loved about this book, it is one of my favorite reads of 2021 and I highly recommend it.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher to read and review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

My Rating