Review: Formula of Deception by Carrie Stuart Parks

Formula of Deception

 

 

 

 

 

 

Synopsis:

“I love Carrie Stuart Parks’s skill in writing characters with hysterical humor, unwitting courage and page-turning mystery. I hope my readers won’t abandon me completely when they learn about her!” —Terri Blackstock, USA TODAY bestselling author of If I Run, If I’m Found, and If I Live

An artist hiding from an escaped killer uncovers one of World War II’s most dangerous secrets—a secret that desperate men will do anything to keep hidden.

After the murder of her twin sister, Murphy Anderson changed her name and appearance and moved to Kodiak, Alaska, to avoid the press and publicity. But when local authorities discover she’s an artist and request her help in drawing a dying man’s memories, she unintentionally ends up in the limelight again—and back in the killer’s crosshairs.

The deathbed confessions of an Alaskan hunter have Murphy drawing the five bodies he discovered on remote Ruuwaq Island ten years ago. But what investigators find has them mystified. Evidence suggests that the bodies were deliberately destroyed, and what they uncover in an abandoned Quonset hut from World War II only brings more questions.

As one by one the investigators who were at the hut die, Murphy knows there is something much darker at stake. What happened on this island during the war? And who is willing to kill to keep its secrets buried?

Rating: 4.5-stars

Review:

Formula of Deception by Carrie Stuart Parks is definitely for fans of Heather Graham, J.T. Ellison, and Brenda Novak. Carrie Stuart Parks brings a lot of excitement and danger in this thrilling read. A crime investigation leads back to a historical secret that somebody is  willing to kill to keep buried. Yet, investigators are getting closer and their death hangs into the air. As new and old victims pile up, the intensity of the situation rises. This dark Alaskan murder mystery, kept giving me chills.

Inside Formula of Deception, I got to meet a twin of a dead woman. The twin, Murphy Anderson, goes into hiding. Staying away from a murderer, is the plan. However, Murphy is soon drawn out of hiding and back into danger. Murphy has a talent that is needed for an investigation. This now, puts her at high risk. The murderer is still killing people to keep the historical secret hidden. It’s only a matter of time, before everything escalates out of control. Overall, this one was phenomenal.

 

Review: The Orphan’s Wish by Melanie Dickerson

 

The Orphan's Wish (Hagenheim, #8)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Synopsis:

From the streets to an orphanage in a faraway kingdom, Aladdin has grown up alone. Until he meets Kirstyn. With a father who is the duke of Hagenheim and a mother who is the patroness of the orphanage where Aladdin lives, Kirstyn is a member of the most powerful family in the land . . . and way out of his league. Despite the difference in their stations, Aladdin quickly becomes Kirstyn’s favorite companion for taking walks in the forest, and their childhood friendship grows along with them.

Through his scrappy skills, intelligence, and hard work, Aladdin earns a position serving in the duke’s house. But he knows it isn’t enough to grant him his one desire: Kirstyn’s hand in marriage. If he hopes to change his station in life and feel worthy of marrying Kirstyn, he must leave Hagenheim to seek his fortune.

But once Aladdin leaves, no one is around to protect Kirstyn, and the greedy men desperate to take advantage of her father’s wealth take notice. Now, more than Aladdin’s background stands in the way of the future he’s worked so hard to obtain. His only hope is to rescue Kirstyn and somehow manage to win her hand as well.

Rating: 5-stars

Review:

The Orphan’s Wish by Melanie Dickerson is another form of Aladdin. This one has so much more meaning and depth than the original Aladdin story. Yes, not stealing is the main moral of the story, but it holds more emotional luggage. Themes of friendship, love, and hope are discovered here. Somehow, a weave of Christian influence has been swept into the tale. It created a hopeful plot with characters searching for peace of mind and heart. Some violence is found in the book. Violence such as theft, bullying, and child abuse are mentioned. However, it is so low and almost non-existent.

Aladdin grew up knowing loss, grief, bullying, and theft. He has always felt ashamed of himself. One day, he sees young Kirstyn and they instantly become friends. Their friendship blossoms and as they grew older it turned into something much more. An attraction formed between a wealthy lady and an orphaned abused boy.  Aladdin felt the pressure of not being able to give his lady, Kirstyn what she deserves. So, he raised himself up the ladder and worked hard to provide her with a good home and a happy life. But will it be enough? Together, they help each other and create a happiness that is hard to ignore. I found this novel to be sweet, engaging, and heartfelt.

Review: House at Saltwater Point by Colleen Coble

 

 

 

 

 

 

Synopsis:

The dangerous beauty of Lavender Tides is harboring secrets that reach around the world.

Ellie Blackmore is making a name for herself as a house flipper. But when her sister Mackenzie disappears, Ellie can’t focus on anything but uncovering what happened. Her only clue is the bloodstain on the deck of Mackenzie’s boat. Ellie knows her sister isn’t on the best of terms with her ex-husband, Jason, but he wouldn’t kill her—would he?

Coast Guard intelligence officer Grayson Bradshaw believes Mackenzie faked her own death after stealing a seized cocaine shipment. The problem is convincing Ellie, who seems to view him as the true enemy.

Both Ellie and Grayson want truth, but truth—and family—is often more complex than it first appears. From international terrorism to the peaceful lavender fields of Puget Sound, The House at Saltwater Point is a thrilling race to uncover the truth before it’s too late.

Rating: 5-stars

Review:

The House at Saltwater Point by Colleen Coble is full of suspense, mystery, and danger. The story swept me up quickly. One missing person who has a sister willing to look for her, and a man trying to find that missing sister who may be guilty of crime. Neither one is happy. Both are searching for one common thing, Mackenzie.

Lies, deception, and trust are put to the test. Ellie and Grayson are two interesting heroes who will need to rely on each other when everything comes out…I enjoyed the sister who loves her sister enough to risk danger in finding her. However, there are some powerful questions from Grayson that kept me guessing and wondering the whole way through the book. Intriguing, fast-paced, and entertaining, Colleen Coble crafted a wonderful world of fiction. I was excited to follow these characters and see where their search led them. Overall, I would highly recommend The House at Saltwater Point to all readers.

Review: The Love Letter by Rachel Hauck

The Love Letter

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Synopsis:

From the New York Times bestselling author of The Wedding Dress comes a story of long-lost love and its redemption in future generations.

Romance has never been actress Chloe Daschle’s forte—in life or on screen. But everyone knows who to call for a convincing death scene . . . and it might be killing her career.

When Chloe is given a peek at the script for an epic love story, she decides to take her destiny into her own hands and request an audition for the lead female role, Esther Kingsley. The compelling tale, inspired by family lore and a one-page letter from the colonial ancestor of scriptwriter Jesse Gates, just might break her out of this career-crippling rut. Jesse would rather write about romance than live through it after his past relationship ended in disaster. But once on-set together, the chemistry between Jesse and his leading lady is hard to deny.

Centuries earlier, in the heart of the Revolutionary War, Hamilton Lightfoot and Esther Longfellow wrote their saga off the silver screen. Esther’s Loyalist father opposes any relationship with Hamilton, but Esther must face her beloved father’s disapproval and the dangers of war in order to convince Hamilton of their future together. Hamilton has loved Esther for years, and on the eve of battle pens the love letter she’s always wanted—something straight from the heart.

Set in stunning upcountry South Carolina, The Love Letter is a beautifully-crafted story of the courage it takes to face down fear and chase after love, even in the darkest of times. And just maybe, all these generations later, love can come home in a way not even Hollywood could imagine.

Rating: 4-stars

Review:

The Love Letter by Rachel Hauck is a wonderful engaging story. It takes from the past and brings it to the present…and as for the future, it’s up to the present day couple to figure out their hearts. I love a good romance and a historical tale. Rachel Hauck gave me both of these worlds in this one book of hers.

The whole love letter from the past theme worked. It was fun to follow along the past characters’ lives as well as what was happening to both Jesse and Chloe. This present day couple, had this give and take tension and built up passion that was it for me. I enjoyed their personalities and getting to know them. Their story made me want to care, want to know more about them, and sucked me in heart and soul. Overall, yes, I would recommend this deeply emotional love story to all.

Review: Where Hope Begins by Catherine West

 

 

 

 

 

Synopsis:

In the aftermath of her husband’s act of adultery and abandonment, Savannah must finally face the ghosts that haunt her and discover for herself whether authentic faith, grace, and ultimate healing really do exist.

When her husband of twenty-one years leaves her, Savannah Barrington believes she’s lost almost everything she’s ever loved. With her daughter in college and her son in boarding school, Savannah retreats to her parents’ lake house in the Berkshires, where hope and healing come in the form of an old woman’s wisdom, a little girl’s laughter, a touch of magic, and a handsome man who’s willing to risk his own heart to prove she’s still worth loving.

But when her husband asks to reconcile, Savannah is faced with the hardest challenge of all: Forgiving the unforgivable. Somehow she must find freedom from the chains of their past and move forward, or face an unknown future without him.

Rating: 5-stars

Review:

Where Hope Begins by Catherine West is one of the most heart wrenching tales ever. I was quickly absorbing this novel and the characters were like real people to me. Their struggles, sadness, hope, and disappointment scratched at my heart. Leaving behind tiny marks. Love is so powerful it can destroy everything the main character believes in or gives her the strength to find her way through it all. It appeared that God left the woman featured in this story. Yet as I dug further, that became less true. Sometimes our paths get distorted and lost along the way. Then, they become clear again. But until we can see clearly, patience and hope is required.

Savannah lost her husband of twenty years due to common issues that most couples face. Loss, grief, and broken marriages. But what they had before their loss and grief was love for each other. And faith in God. However, that all came crashing down when they suffered and lost their way. Savannah lost her faith when her husband broke her heart. Not knowing what to do or where to go, she stumbled like a lost soul in a desert storm. Then, hope came in the form of Brock and his daughter. Together they help Savannah heal and find the strength and peace in her life once more. Overall, I loved this story. It felt realistic and was engaging from the beginning. It was easy to relate and connect with all the characters. In the end, I recommend this stunning emotional journey to all readers.

Review: Send Down the Rain by Charles Martin

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Synopsis:

Allie’s second husband is killed tragically when his 18-wheeler crashes into the rocks near their home in Cape San Blas–the tanker was full of fuel and the explosion could be seen on overhead satellites. She’d already lost the beloved waterfront restaurant her parents started and now losing her husband, no matter how unfulfilling their marriage was, might just push her over the edge.

Joseph’s time in Vietnam left him with scars that never seemed to heal. No matter how he’s tried to love or what he’s tried to do since then, he can’t pull himself out of the wreckage of his former life. His trust and security shaken, he isolates himself in a cabin. But every morning, he faithfully pours two cups of coffee, drinking his while he sits with the second, and then pouring out the full cup.

It’s no small coincidence that Joseph found a mother and her two young children lost in the woods near his cabin. Or that when he helps them return to family in Florida, he’s near enough to see that explosion. Near enough to know it’s close to home. Near enough to know that his childhood sweetheart needs him.

The years have built so much distance between them, but it’s the secrets that may be their final undoing. Send Down the Rain reminds us of the beauty of truth . . . and the power of love to wash away the past.

Rating:  5-stars

Review:

Send Down the Rain by Charles Martin is another brilliant tale. I love this writer’s work. His characters are three-dimensional and their situations are written in a way that made me feel like I was there. This romance saga brings forth action, danger, and secrets. A man comes back from danger only to relive it back home. His long held love is placed in a deadly situation and it’s up to him to help save her.

Allie is a mother of two kids when she loses her husband. Loss, grief, and danger will only add to her troubling heart and situation. Then, comes a former friend, one who can help her. Only there are roadblocks that both she and Joseph need to get through, if they want to find happiness. Right now, survival is important.

Joseph is struggling with his own demons when he finds a woman in trouble. This woman happens to be someone he really cares about, and he won’t be letting her go. But there are things he has to figure out first. The more time he spends with her, the more he wants to keep her with him.

Charles Martin is a talented writer. I was hooked. His latest piece was just as great as his previous books. Amazing characters, emotional attachments, and a suspenseful plot is what I got and liked. Overall, I would highly recommend Send Down the Rain to all readers.

 

Review: Becoming the Talbot Sisters by Rachel Linden

 

 

 

 

 

 

Synopsis:

Twin sisters Waverly and Charlie Talbot have drifted far apart as they pursue opposite dreams of stardom and service to the poor. On an astonishing journey across Central Europe, they must come together to face their fears, find their courage and fight for what they love.

Celebrity chef Waverly Ross has built a successful career with her home-entertaining show Simply Perfect. Yet she and her husband, Andrew, have never been able to realize the true desire of Waverly’s heart: to become a mother. Meanwhile Waverly’s twin sister, Charlie Talbot, buries her bitter disappointment and shattered idealism beneath a life spent serving others as an international aid worked in Budapest, Hungary.

When the beloved aunt who raised them passes away, Waverly and Charlie come together in their grief after living years on separate continents. Struck by a fierce desire to bridge the distance between them, Charlie offers Waverly and her husband the selfless gift of surrogacy.

But soon the sisters find they are each in danger of losing their jobs, seemingly putting their dreams on hold once again. When Waverly shows up unannounced in Budapest with a plan to rescue Simply Perfect, the sisters embark on an adventure across Central Europe that could save them both from occupational hazards. Though the twins haven’t had to rely on each other since childhood, an unforeseen dangerous turn in their journey across Europe forces them to stand together to save their careers, the baby, and each other.

Rating: 4-stars

Review:

Becoming the Talbot Sisters by Rachel Linden is an awe inspiring tale of the bond between two sisters. Being an older sister, I can relate to these sisters. My baby sister has moved away to pursue her dreams, and I felt like we drifted apart. But we still love each other and are there when we need each other. The same can be shown in this book with the Talbot sisters. Their aunt passes away and that starts their reunion in becoming closer. From there their journeys become messy, complicated, and scary. But they now, have each other in their lives again and from there they learn and help each other. I loved the protrayal of the sister bonding moments, the emotional rollercoaster each one took, and the sacrifices they made. It was a steady piece of fiction. The plot was heartfelt and realistic. Overall, I recommend it to readers.

Review: The Heart Between Us

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Synopsis:

Megan Jacobs always wished for a different heart. Her entire childhood was spent in and out of hospitals, sitting on the sidelines while her twin sister Crystal played all the sports, got all the guys, and had all the fun. But even a heart transplant three years ago wasn’t enough to propel Megan’s life forward. She’s still working as a library aide in her small Minnesota hometown and living with her parents, dreaming of the adventure she plans to take “once she’s well enough.” Meanwhile, her sister is a successful architect with a handsome husband and the perfect life—or so Megan thinks.

When her heart donor’s parents give Megan their teenage daughter’s journal—complete with an unfulfilled bucket list—Megan connects with the girl she meets between the pages and is inspired to venture out and check off each item. Caleb—a friend from her years in and out of the hospital—reenters her life and pushes her to find the courage to take the leap and begin her journey. She’s thrown for a loop when Crystal offers to join her for reasons of her own, but she welcomes the company and the opportunity to mend their tenuous relationship.

As Megan and Crystal check items off the bucket list, Megan fights the fears that have been instilled in her after a lifetime of illness. She must choose between safety and adventure and learn to embrace the heart she’s been given so that she can finally share it with the people she loves most.

Rating: 5-stars

Review:

The Heart Between Us by Lindsay Harrel is the most heartbreaking/heartfelt story I have read. I was instantly taken into one sister’s journey. A path full of hospitals and illness. Suffering from a weak heart, Megan has always envied her sister of being able to live her life to the fullest. I was caught up in the sadness and the anger. There was also healing and love at the end of this book. I was completely engaged from the beginning. Two sisters finally settle their troubles and find new beginnings without the dead weight of their emotional baggage. Lindsay Harrel is a talented writer. Once I started reading,  I did not stop until I reached the end. Overall, I recommend this contemporary novel to all readers. Beware, you may need a box of tissues while reading it.

 

Review: Perennials by Juile Cantrell

 

 

 

 

 

 

Synopsis:

When two estranged sisters reunite for their parents’ 50th anniversary, a family tragedy brings unexpected lessons of hope and healing amid the flowers of their mother’s perennial garden.

Eva—known to all as Lovey—grew up in Oxford, MS, surrounded by literary history and her mother’s stunning perennial gardens. But a garden shed fire and the burns suffered by one of her best friends seemed to change everything. Her older sister Bitsy blamed her for the fire—and no one spoke up on her behalf. Bitsy the cheerleader, Bitsy the homecoming queen, Bitsy married to a wealthy investor. And all the while, Lovey blamed for everything that goes wrong.

At eighteen, Lovey turns down a marriage proposal, flees from Oxford and the expectations of attending Ole Miss, and instead goes to Arizona—the farthest thing from the South she can imagine. She becomes a successful advertising executive, a weekend yoga instructor, and seems to have it all together. But she’s alone. And on her 45th birthday, she can’t help but wonder what’s wrong.

When she gets a call from her father—still known to everyone as Chief from his Ole Miss football days—insisting that she come home three weeks early for her parents’ 50th wedding anniversary celebration, she’s at wits end. She’s about to close the biggest contract of her career, the one that will secure her financial goals and set her up for retirement. But his words, “Family First,” hit too close to home. Is there hope for her estranged relationship with Bitsy after all this time?

Eva’s journey home, to the memory garden her father has planned as an anniversary surprise for her mother, becomes one of discovering roots, and truth, and love, and what living perennially in spite of disappointments and tragedy really means. Eva thought she wanted to leave her family and the South far behind . . . but she’s realizing she hasn’t truly been herself the whole time she’s been gone.

Rating: 4.5-stars

Review:

Perennials by Julie Cantrell is an interesting read. I found it intriguing. I couldn’t imagine having a distant and bitter relationship with my sister. The major theme  in this contemporary women’s fiction piece is forgiveness.

The main protagonist, Eva, has a great life away from her home and family. That past life is one she worked hard to get away from fast. Yet, now, her parents want her back home for their wedding anniversary. There Eva will have to face her past, her fears, and let go of her demons.

Overall, Perennials is a novel about letting go of the past and moving forward. A journey of hope, truth, and healing. Julie Cantrell can write well. Her characters were easy to relate to and follow. Their troubles were realistic. I enjoyed reading this. I recommend it to readers everywhere.

Review: Love Held Captive 

Synopsis:

After the War Between the States, a Confederate officer longs to heal the heart of a beautiful woman—but first he’ll have to right the wrongs that were done to her.
Major Ethan Kelly has never been able to absolve himself of the guilt he feels for raiding a woman’s home shortly before he was taken prisoner during the Civil War. He is struggling to get through each day until he once again crosses paths with Lizbeth Barclay—the very woman he is trying to forget.
Life after the war is not much different for former Captain Devin Monroe until he meets Julianne VanFleet. He knows she is the woman he’s been waiting for, but he struggles to come to terms with the sacrifices she made to survive the war.
When Ethan and Devin discover that their former colonel, Adam Bushnell, is responsible for both Lizbeth’s and Julianne’s pain, they call on their former fellow soldiers to hunt him down. As the men band together to earn the trust of the women they love, Lizbeth and Julianne seek the justice they deserve in a country longing to heal. 

Rating: 4.5-stars

Review:

Love Held Captive by Shelley Shepard Gray is a beautiful confederate tale. A story full of loss, grief, trouble, and regrets. But somehow, through it all, there is also hope. That built trust between characters. In that something more came between them. Something called love. Love bears all. Troubles, risks, and forgiveness are found on every page. Strong women and men. Suffered from one man…who tormented them. Then, with a newfound courage, they plan to bring their enemy down forever. Death lingers near. Rap, lies, beatings, and war are discovered here. Shelley Shepard Gray has created a realistic story and believable characters. It felt as thought I had traveled back in time. I felt everything the characters felt. Love Held Captive is exactly that. Each character ends up as a captive of their love. Pain and healing are two major themes featured inside this novel. It was heart breaking and heartfelt at the same time. Bittersweet…overall, I recommend this historical book to all. 

Review: The Hideaway

Synopsis:

When her grandmother’s will wrenches Sara back home from New Orleans, she learns more about Margaret Van Buren in the wake of her death than she ever did in life.
After her last remaining family member dies, Sara Jenkins goes home to The Hideaway, her grandmother Mags’s ramshackle B&B in Sweet Bay, Alabama. She intends to quickly tie up loose ends then return to her busy life and thriving antique shop in New Orleans. Instead, she learns Mags has willed her The Hideaway and charged her with renovating it—no small task considering Mags’s best friends, a motley crew of senior citizens, still live there.
Rather than hurrying back to New Orleans, Sara stays in Sweet Bay and begins the biggest house-rehabbing project of her career. Amid Sheetrock dust, old memories, and a charming contractor, she discovers that slipping back into life at The Hideaway is easier than she expected.
Then she discovers a box Mags left in the attic with clues to a life Sara never imagined for her grandmother. With help from Mags’s friends, Sara begins to piece together the mysterious life of bravery, passion, and choices that changed Mags’s destiny in both marvelous and devastating ways.
When an opportunistic land developer threatens to seize The Hideaway, Sara is forced to make a choice—stay in Sweet Bay and fight for the house and the people she’s grown to love or leave again and return to her successful but solitary life in New Orleans.

Rating: 5-stars

Review:

The Hideaway by Lauren K. Denton is a great read for women everywhere. The tale is easy to relate to and connect with the main characters. The writing was well-done. Readers like me will travel to New Orleans. There the story takes place. This book was an eye opener. It laid out choices. Choices that readers like me have to make in life. It’s never easy to make a decision. It just get harder as the time gets closer and places the pressure onto the charcater’s shoulders. Here, I got to explore topics such as family, love, and career. The plot goes further in showing that despite being happy in a successful life that there were things missing that only the life inNew Orleans could provide. I found it inspiring.

Lauren K. Denton’s main character, Sara Jenkins,  returns back to The Hideaway. A place where her grandmother lived. Now, her grandmother is gone and the place needs major repairs before selling it and heading back to her previous life. There Sara finds things belonging to her grandmother that affects her decision on life and whether she stays or not. Plus, there’s the people around her that she has come to love and know that will make saying goodbye that much harder. Nothing’s easy or predicatable in this read. The charcater can take either route and the intrigue is powerful enough to have kept me reading. But there’s also a danger. A land developer threatens to take The Hideaway…and only Sara can stop it. Choices…

The Hideaway is a fascinating read. The charming charcaters, the realistic lives they live, and their believable situations have hooked me. Southern way of life is sweet, memorable, and enchanting. Overall, I recommend Lauren K. Denton’s novel to all. 

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