Vanishing Point by Lisa Harris Review

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Synopsis: During Garrett Addison’s first week on the job as a criminal investigator for the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, his team is called out to a murder scene of a young girl. She’s the third victim in a string of disappearances with one thing in common–a Polaroid photo of each victim left behind at the crime scene.

The FBI is pulled into the case to help, and Garrett finds himself working with Special Agent Jordan Lambert, the woman he once loved. When yet another girl dies–number six–Garrett blames himself and believes he doesn’t have what it takes to be an agent. What he’ll discover is that, while he may be done with the killer, the killer is not done with him–or Jordan.

Bestselling and award-winning author Lisa Harris unveils an unforgettable story of a case that has haunted the public and law enforcement for more than a decade. Fans of the Nikki Boyd Files will thrill to finally discover what actually happened to Nikki’s sister, Sarah. New readers will become instant fans after devouring this chilling tale.

My Thoughts: This is book 4 in the Nikki Boyd Files Series but it definitely works as a standalone. This story was gripping from beginning to the end. It is a clean police-procedural that follows Garrett and Jordan, who are working tirelessly over a period of many years to track down a serial killer who is targeting young girls.

Garrett and Jordan were great characters…both smart but not robotic or heartless, they gave the reader a glimpse of the emotional toll that one goes through when searching for a murderer. Their relationship was also sweet, although frustrating at times.

Lisa Harris is very gifted as an author and definitely has a way with words. It was always easy for me to get lost in the story and the pacing was fast.

There are some sad moments but I appreciated that the age-old question of “why does God allow bad things to happen to people?” is addressed, and addressed well.

Overall, this was a great thrill-ride. I was never bored and would definitely pick up another book from this author!

My Rating: 4 stars

I received this book from Baker Publishing Group to review. All opinions are my own.

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Dangerous Illusions by Irene Hannon Review

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Synopsis: Trish Bailey is on overload trying to deal with a demanding job, an ailing mother, and a healing heart. When a series of unsettling memory lapses leads to a tragic death–and puts Trish under police scrutiny–her world is once again thrown into turmoil.

Detective Colin Flynn isn’t certain what to think of the facts he uncovers during his investigation. Did Trish simply make a terrible mistake or is there more to the case than meets the eye? As he searches for answers, disturbing information begins to emerge–and if the forces at work are as evil as he suspects, the situation isn’t just dangerous . . . it’s deadly.

Bestselling and award-winning author Irene Hannon captures readers with a mind-bending story that will have them doubling back to retrace their steps–and figure out what they missed!

My Thoughts: This story was just okay for me. The plot was interesting but I found it kind of predictable. I also felt like it was too heavy on the romance and a bit too light on the suspense.

The romance, although cute, was extremely rushed and felt very forced. I’m not a fan of romance in books so this is never an aspect that I enjoy in stories.

I did find the twist to be clever but I predicted it far before it had been revealed. The mystery didn’t have enough pizzazz for me to get invested in the story or the characters.

Overall, I found this story to be worth reading but I don’t see myself continuing with the series.

My Rating: 2.5 stars

I received this book from Baker Publishing Group to review.

Lady Jayne Disappears by Joanna Davidson Politano Review

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Synopsis: When Aurelie Harcourt’s father dies in debtor’s prison, he leaves her just two things: his wealthy family, whom she has never met, and his famous pen name, Nathaniel Droll. Her new family greets her with apathy and even resentment. Only the quiet houseguest, Silas Rotherham, welcomes her company.

When Aurelie decides to complete her father’s unfinished serial novel, writing the family into the story as unflattering characters, she must keep her identity as Nathaniel Droll hidden while searching for the truth about her mother’s disappearance–and perhaps even her father’s death.

Author Joanna Davidson Politano’s stunning debut set in Victorian England will delight readers with its highly original plot, lush setting, vibrant characters, and reluctant romance.

My Thoughts: This story had so many components that I loved…richly developed characters, a slightly creepy setting with a gothic feel, a mystery, and some twists and turns.

The plot is complex and would be difficult to describe but I feel that it would be best to read without knowing a lot about the story. The main character, Aurelie, was adorable…I related to her in many ways…she was very self conscious of what others thought of her and escaped into books. Her faith was admirable and honest.

I found some revelations of this book to be very surprising as it didn’t follow the “happy ending, sugary sweet” cliche that Christian fiction often tends to fall into. I was pleased with this as life doesn’t always give us the happy endings that we hope for.

I loved the characters in the story…Politano described them in a way that I was able to picture each of them very vividly and had strong feelings towards all of them.

The setting was also perfect…most of the story takes place in Lynhurst Manor, an old mansion in England with many empty rooms and dark corridors. I truly felt as though I was walking the halls with Aurelie throughout the story.

Overall, this was a wonderful story that I highly enjoyed and would definitely recommend. I am eagerly awaiting Politano’s next release!

My Rating: 5 stars

I received this book from Baker Publishing Group to review.

 

Murder in Disguise by Donn Taylor Review

About the book:
 

Official verdict: Suicide.
But why would that vigorous department chairman kill himself? To avoid disgrace? Those rumored ventures on the dark side? Some other secret life? Visiting professor Preston Barclay wonders. But his questions bring no answers, only anonymous threats. He has enough problems already, proving himself on a strange campus while radical faculty do all they can to undermine him. Worse yet, that sexy siren assigned as his assistant complicates his courtship of the beautiful Mara Thorn.
While Press keeps asking questions, Mara’s research reveals a cancer of criminal activity that permeates the community and even the campus itself. The more Press questions, the more dangerous the threats against him become, and the more determined he grows to clear his friend’s name.
But can Press and Mara’s stumbling efforts prevail against the entrenched forces of the police, the campus radicals, and an unseen but powerful criminal organization that increasingly puts their lives in danger…?
About the author:
With a PhD in English literature (Renaissance), Donn Taylor taught literature for 18 years at two liberal arts colleges. Now retired, he has published suspense novels, mysteries, and poetry. His historical novel Lightning on a Quiet Night was a finalist for the 2015 Selah Awards. He is a frequent speaker at writers’ conferences. In a prior incarnation, he led an Infantry rifle platoon in the Korean War, served with Army aviation in Vietnam, and worked with air reconnaissance in Europe and Asia. He now lives in the woods near Houston, TX, where he writes fiction, poetry, and essays on current topics.
Find out more about Donn at http://www.donntaylor.com.
My Thoughts: This book was a very fun mystery but also an interesting look at universities  and how they view Christianity, history, and truth. The mystery was engaging and the story moved quickly. There were several twists and turns that were surprising.
The main character, Preston Barclay was extremely intelligent and witty, but I also found him to be slightly arrogant, condescending, and frustrating at times. I went back and forth between liking him and disliking him. I also wasn’t fond of his love interest, Mara…she never seemed to be happy with Preston and it got a bit tiring.
My only other issue was that there were a lot of characters to keep track of and many of them had very strange and unusual names.
Despite all of this, I couldn’t put the book down…I had to know the answer to this mystery. I also loved when Preston described his classes and the things he had taught. I would love to be a student in one of his classes. There were some very good quotes and observations in this book…one in particular that I read out loud to my husband.
I would definitely pick up another book by Donn Taylor, I enjoyed his writing style and the subject matter was extremely interesting.
My Rating: 4 stars
I received this book from Litfuse to review.

Beneath Copper Falls by Colleen Coble Review

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Synopsis: Dana has already learned that love isn’t safe . . . but could it be different in Rock Harbor?

As a 911 dispatcher, Dana Newell takes pride in being calm in tough circumstances. In addition to her emotionally-charged career, she’s faced enough emergencies in her own life. She recently escaped her abusive fiancé to move to tranquil Rock Harbor where she hopes life will be more peaceful.

But the idyllic town hides more danger and secrets than it first appeared. Dana is continually drawn to her new friend Boone, who has scars inside and out. Then she answers a call at her job only to hear a friend’s desperate screams on the other end. Soon the pain in her past collides with the mysteries of her new home—and threatens to keep her from the future she’s always wanted.

My Thoughts: This book kept me guessing. The story was fast paced and intense. It follows Dana, who has just left an abusive relationship and returns to her hometown for refuge. A series of murders of women are occurring that are all similar in nature and the suspense continues throughout the book until the final boiling point at the end.

I enjoy Colleen Coble’s writing style, it’s very descriptive and always keeps me turning the pages. The twist of the story was slightly unexpected and surprising but a bit far-fetched. I enjoyed the character of Bree, who trains search and rescue dogs. I also loved the small town feel of the setting. The author did a good job at building suspense throughout the story.

Unfortunately, it felt very over-dramatic at times. These characters had experienced a lot of drama in their lives (so much so that it gave me a soap opera feel at times). It made the book feel a bit unrealistic to read all the things one character had experienced. I also felt that the way murders were handled didn’t seem accurate, given the fact that they were possibly committed by a serial killer (the small town sheriff probably wouldn’t be the one in charge of these murders).

Overall, I was very entertained by this book but I wasn’t extremely impressed with it. I would recommend it for anyone who likes a fun murder mystery with a little bit of grit and some twists.

My Rating: 3 and a half stars

I received this book from Booklook Bloggers in exchange for an honest review.

 

The Illusionist’s Apprentice by Kristy Cambron Review

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Synopsis: Harry Houdini’s one-time apprentice holds fantastic secrets about the greatest illusionist in the world. But someone wants to claim them . . . or silence her before she can reveal them on her own.

Boston, 1926. Jenny “Wren” Lockhart is a bold eccentric—even for a female vaudevillian. As notorious for her inherited wealth and gentleman’s dress as she is for her unsavory upbringing in the back halls of a vaudeville theater, Wren lives in a world that challenges all manner of conventions.

In the months following Houdini’s death, Wren is drawn into a web of mystery surrounding a spiritualist by the name of Horace Stapleton, a man defamed by Houdini’s ardent debunking of fraudulent mystics in the years leading up to his death. But in a public illusion that goes terribly wrong, one man is dead and another stands charged with his murder. Though he’s known as one of her teacher’s greatest critics, Wren must decide to become the one thing she never wanted to be: Stapleton’s defender.

Forced to team up with the newly formed FBI, Wren races against time and an unknown enemy, all to prove the innocence of a hated man. In a world of illusion, of the vaudeville halls that showcase the flamboyant and the strange, Wren’s carefully constructed world threatens to collapse around her.

Layered with mystery, illusion, and the artistry of the Jazz Age’s bygone vaudeville era, The Illusionist’s Apprentice is a journey through love and loss and the underpinnings of faith on each life’s stage.

My Thoughts: This book contains a lot of things that I love…Vaudeville, mystery, illusionists, and a surprising twist. The story revolves around Wren Lockhart, a famous illusionist who was an apprentice for Harry Houdini. After a magician performs an illusion that results in the death of a man, the FBI gets the help of Wren to decipher what really happened on that day.

I am gaining more and more appreciation for historical fiction and I love the time period of the 1920s.  As I was reading this book, I felt like I was transported to the 20s…I could picture the theaters and flappers and glamorous parties that were vividly described in the story.

The characters were well developed, although I didn’t care for Wren at first but she grew on me as the story progressed.

I absolutely loved the scenes from Wren’s performances…I always loved watching illusionists and felt like an audience member watching her perform her amazing feats. I love Kristy Cambron’s writing style…it is very fluid and descriptive. She is very gifted at pulling the reader into the story.

The mystery seemed too weak to carry through the entire book. I found the resolution to be a bit rushed. I also didn’t care for the romance…it was very predictable and had an insta-love feel that seemed very unrealistic based on the personalities of the characters.

Overall, the story was a lot of fun and a great escape. I would highly recommend it for fans of historical fiction and the world of illusions.

My Rating: 4 stars

I received this book from Booklook Bloggers in exchange for an honest review.

Murder is No Accident by A.H. Gabhart Review

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Synopsis: Young Maggie Greene may be trespassing in the old, empty Victorian mansion on a quiet street in Hidden Springs, but all she wants is some private time in the magnificent tower room to write her stories. Certain she’ll be in trouble if caught, she hides when a realtor shows up. But someone else is in the house too, someone even more worried about getting caught. When Maggie finds the realtor’s body at the bottom of a flight of stairs and the other person gone, Deputy Sheriff Michael Keane is called in. He assumes the realtor’s death is a tragic accident–until a second person is found dead in the house. When Maggie is threatened, Michael must catch the murderer before anyone else dies.

Cozy mystery fans will love this third installment in The Hidden Springs Mysteries series from an author who knows how to make small-town America sweet, sentimental–and a little sinister.

My Thoughts: Up until now, I had only attempted to read one other cozy mystery and I dnf’d it because I found it boring. I wanted to give the genre another chance so I requested this book to review. Unfortunately, I’ve come to the conclusion that cozy mysteries are too tame for me.

The book started out great, with a death of a realtor in a large Victorian mansion. I love the setting and the characters…it takes place in a small town called Hidden Springs and everyone knows everyone. I also enjoyed the author’s descriptions of people and places, I was able to picture everything very easily.

Unfortunately, it dragged a lot in the middle and by the end I didn’t even really care who the culprit was.

I also found the procedures used by the police in this book ridiculous. I’m not an expert at crime scene investigation but I’ve watched enough crime shows to know that there are certain procedures that need to be followed (regardless of the size of the town). The romance in the story also felt as though it was just put in to satisfy those who want some romance in a story….it didn’t fit well with the plot and almost felt like an afterthought.

To be fair, if I liked cozy mysteries, I probably would have really enjoyed this book but I like a bit more grit and action in my stories. I would absolutely recommend this if you are a fan of cozy mysteries or stories about small towns.

My Rating: 2 stars

I received this book from Baker Publishing Group in exchange for an honest review.