Thursday, June 13, 2024

The Best Life Book Club by Sheila Roberts

Pump Up Your Book is pleased to bring you Sheila Roberts’ The Best Life Book Club Virtual Book Tour April 15 – June 14! · ┈┈┈┈┈┈ · ꕥ · ┈┈┈┈┈┈ · Looking for #WomensFiction #RomanticComedy #ContemporaryRomance #Books? Check Out Sheila Roberts' THE BEST LIFE BOOK CLUB #puyb #bynr #asmsg #amreadingSHARE ON X · ┈┈┈┈┈┈ · ꕥ · ┈┈┈┈┈┈ · About the Book books Title: The Best Life Book Club Author: Sheila Roberts Publisher: MIRA Publication Date: August 15, 2023 Pages: 368 Genre: Women’s Fiction / Romantic Comedy / Contemporary Romance goodreads add to Karissa Newcomb is ready for a new start in a new neighborhood, as far away as she can get from Seattle, where her husband cheated on her with the neighbor who was supposed to be her best friend. She and her nine-year-old daughter are moving on to the city of Gig Harbor on the bay in Puget Sound. She even has a new job as an assistant at a small publishing company right in Gig Harbor. Her new boss seems like a bit of a curmudgeon, but a job is a job, she loves to read, and the idea of possibly meeting writers sounds fabulous. Soon she finds she’s not the only one in need of a refresh. Her new neighbors, Alice and Margot, are dealing with their own crises. Alice is still grieving her late husband and hasn’t been able to get behind the wheel of a car since a close call after his death. Margot is floundering after getting divorced and laid off in quick succession. They could all use a distraction, and a book club seems like just the ticket. Together, the three women, along with Alice’s grumpy older sister, Josie, embark on a literary journey that just might be the kick-start they need to begin building their best lives yet. Buy Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | HarperCollins About the Author books USA Today and Publishers Weekly best-selling author Sheila Roberts has written over fifty books under various names, ranging from romance and relationship fiction to self-improvement. Over three million of her novels have been sold and that number continues to climb. Her humor and heart have won her a legion of fans and her novels have been turned into movies for the Lifetime, Hallmark, and Great American Family channels. Sheila is also a popular speaker, and has been featured at women’s retreats, writers’ conferences, and banquets. When she’s not out dancing with her husband or hanging out with friends, she can be found writing about those things near and dear to women’s hearts: family, friends and chocolate. Author Links Website | Facebook | Goodreads | Instagram Blog Tour Highlights Monday, April 15 ⭐PUYB Virtual Book Club⭐: ⭐Pump Up Your Book Virtual Book Tour Kick Off⭐The Best Life Book Club Tuesday, April 16 Book Teaser Trailer at YouTube Wednesday, April 17 First Chapter Reveal at Pump Up Your Book Thursday, April 18 Literarily Speaking: First Chapter Review: The Best Life Book Club Friday, April 19 Book Feature Highlight at What Is That Book About Monday, April 22 Book Trailer of the Week Feature at Pump Up Your Book Tuesday, April 23 Book Feature Highlight at The Avid Reader Wednesday, April 24 The Writer’s Life e-Magazine: Book Spotlight: Hot New Women’s Fiction Book Alert! The Best Life Book Club by Sheila Roberts Thursday, April 25 Book Review at redbookreview “The Best Life Book Club is about four friends who explore life and relationships in the book club they have. The author has wrote an amazing book that will have you turning pages till the very end. The overall theme in this book is friendship and how important friendship can be. I enjoyed reading this book and look forward to reading more books by this author. This book would be a great fit for any book club or reader.” Monday, May 6 Read My First Chapter: Chapter One: The Best Life Book Club by Sheila Roberts Tuesday, May 7 Literarily Speaking: Interview with Sheila Roberts, Author of THE BEST LIFE BOOK CLUB “As I child I would put myself to sleep telling myself stories (I was always the heroine, of course! Usually a lady pirate.) So there’s that. Writing is a big part of who I am. I also love connecting with readers. “ ⭐PUYB Virtual Book Club⭐: 🎈Happy Book Birthday to 🧁THE BEST LIFE BOOK CLUB Wednesday, May 8 From the TBR Pile: Blog Tour: Excerpt from The Best Life Book Club by Sheila Roberts Thursday, May 9 B for bookreview: Spotlight: The Best Life Book Club by Sheila Roberts Monday, May 13 Community Bookstop: Book Tour: Review: The Best Life Book Club by: Sheila Roberts “This was a great book about starting a book club and learning and discussing the book they picked. Someone each gets a turn at picking a book. Which I think was great as people’s choices change in what we read. I think the women really complement each other in this book.” Tuesday, May 14 Dawn’s Reading Nook: New Release Spotlight: The Best Life Book Club by Sheila Roberts Wednesday, May 15 Nuttin’ But Books: ❤Inside the Pages: THE BEST LIFE BOOK CLUB Thursday, May 16 Book Review at Dana Loves Books “This would be a great book to read with your group of friends. There is a readers guide with discussion questions at the end of the book, loved that! There’s also a wonderful quote at the start of each chapter that I really enjoyed. “ Monday, May 20 Country Mamas with Kids: The Best Life Book Club: 4/5 Stars Review “I recommend to women’s fiction fans and also to book club members looking for a fun and interesting read about romances, friendships, emotional growth, and more!” Tuesday, May 21 Book Feature Highlight at Word Magic Wednesday, May 22 Book Review at A Cozy Readers Corner Friday, May 24 Book Review at Review Thick and Thin “The Best Life Book Club” is an enjoyable read that emphasizes the importance of community and the transformative power of friendship and literature. It’s a feel-good story that will resonate with readers looking for an uplifting and comforting escape.” Monday, May 27 Book Feature Highlight at The Literary Nook Tuesday, May 28 Book Feature Highlight at I’m Into Books Wednesday, May 29 Book Review at fuonlyknew “I enjoyed how each new character entered the story and learning what their circumstances were. You meet divorcees and widow’s of different ages dealing with things at different stages. As I continued reading their stories they really grew on me. I began to hope each would get a happy ending. Not my normal thing to mention in a review but, I had some favorites. The grouchy Josie with her tough exterior. And Gerald. His bark was worse than his bite. Maybe. They made me laugh.” Wednesday, June 5 As the Page Turns: Read an Excerpt from ‘The Best Life Book Club’ by Sheila Roberts Thursday, June 6 Book Review at Sapphyria’s Books Friday, June 7 The Faerie Review – Review – The Best Life Book Club Tour ” I was glad we got to follow the women separately, getting to see things going on first hand, instead of relying on them sharing everything later. By the end of the book, I felt I knew them (and the romantic interests), like I would if we were just becoming friends ourselves. If you’re looking for a good cozy read, make sure you grab this!…” Monday, June 10 Book Feature Highlight at Confessions of an Eccentric Bookaholic Tuesday, June 11 Book Feature Highlight at Blogging Authors Thursday, June 13 Book Review at A Room Without Books is Empty Friday, June 14 Book Review at The Blended Blog ********* My Take: I really enjoyed this book. I went to the Book Club at my local book club for a while but I realized that I had to be in certain mood to read a certain book. If I wasn't enjoying a book I wouldn't read the book. So I wouldn't fit in with this group of women but it was different as they all grew to be really good friends. I liked that the main character got to work for a publishing company and she ended up finding books for them to publish. I would recommend this book if you are looking for a beach read or a pool side read. I gave this book a 4 out of 5 stars on Goodreads.

Monday, April 22, 2024

All The Books I have read so far this year

When Jenny inherits her estranged grandmother’s cottage in Sherwood Forest, she has nothing to lose - no money, no job, no friends, no family to speak of, and zero self-respect. Things can only get better... Her grumpy, but decidedly handsome new neighbour, Mack, has a habit of bestowing unsolicited good deeds on her. And when Jenny is welcomed into a rather unusual book club, life seems to finally be getting more interesting. Instead of reading, the members pledge to complete individual challenges before Christmas: from finding new love, learning to bake, to completing a daredevil bucket list. Jenny can’t resist joining in, and soon a year of friendship and laughter, tears and regrets unfolds in the most unexpected ways. Warm, wise, funny and utterly uplifting, what one thing would you change in your life before Christmas comes around? I rated this 4 stars. Don't really remember much about it but must have liked it at the time.
New York Times Bestseller Jinger Vuolo, the sixth child in the famous Duggar family of TLC's 19 Kids and Counting and Counting On , recounts how she began to question the unhealthy ideology of her youth and learned to embrace true freedom in Christ. When Jinger Duggar Vuolo was growing up, she was convinced that obeying the rules was the key to success and God's favor. She zealously promoted the Basic Life Principles of Bill Gothard, Jinger, along with three of her sisters, wrote a New York Times bestseller about their religious convictions. She believed this level of commitment would guarantee God's blessing, even though in private she felt constant fear that she wasn't measuring up to the high standards demanded of her. In Becoming Free Indeed , Jinger shares how in her early twenties, a new family member—a brother-in-law who didn't grow up in the same tight-knit conservative circle as Jinger—caused her to examine her beliefs. He was committed to the Bible, but he didn't believe many of the things Jinger had always assumed were true. His influence, along with the help of a pastor named Jeremy Vuolo, caused Jinger to see that her life was built on rules, not God's Word. Jinger committed to studying the Bible—truly understanding it—for the first time. What resulted was an earth-shaking realization: much of what she'd always believed about God, obedience to His Word, and personal holiness wasn't in-line with what the Bible teaches. Now with a renewed faith of personal conviction, Becoming Free Indeed shares what it was like living under the tenants of Bill Gothard, the Biblical truth that changed her perspective, and how she disentangled her faith with her belief in Jesus intact. I rated this at 3 stars. I liked her sisters book better.
Spensa’s life as a Defiant Defense Force pilot has been far from ordinary. She proved herself one of the best starfighters in the human enclave of Detritus and she saved her people from extermination at the hands of the Krell—the enigmatic alien species that has been holding them captive for decades. What’s more, she traveled light-years from home as an undercover spy to infiltrate the Superiority, where she learned of the galaxy beyond her small, desolate planet home. Now, the Superiority—the governing galactic alliance bent on dominating all human life—has started a galaxy-wide war. And Spensa has seen the weapons they plan to use to end it: the Delvers. Ancient, mysterious alien forces that can wipe out entire planetary systems in an instant. Spensa knows that no matter how many pilots the DDF has, there is no defeating this predator. Except that Spensa is Cytonic. She faced down a Delver and saw something eerily familiar about it. And maybe, if she’s able to figure out what she is, she could be more than just another pilot in this unfolding war. She could save the galaxy. The only way she can discover what she really is, though, is to leave behind all she knows and enter the Nowhere. A place from which few ever return. To have courage means facing fear. And this mission is terrifying. I rated this 4 stars. I didn't like this as much as the others in the series.
In the 1920s, the richest people per capita in the world were members of the Osage Nation in Oklahoma. After oil was discovered beneath their land, the Osage rode in chauffeured automobiles, built mansions, and sent their children to study in Europe. Then, one by one, the Osage began to be killed off. The family of an Osage woman, Mollie Burkhart, became a prime target. One of her relatives was shot. Another was poisoned. And this was just the beginning, as more and more Osage were dying under mysterious circumstances, and many of those who dared to investigate the killings were themselves murdered. As the death toll rose, the newly created FBI took up the case, and the young director, J. Edgar Hoover, turned to a former Texas Ranger named Tom White to try to unravel the mystery. White put together an undercover team, including a Native American agent who infiltrated the region, and together with the Osage began to expose one of the most chilling conspiracies in American history. I gave this a 5 stars. I was very interested in this case.
Tension builds as the body count increases. Emily Davis stumbles across a skull while searching for a missing hiker in Hickory Run State Park, and someone goes to great lengths to keep her away from the case. Boulder Field’s national landmark status and its popularity makes it impossible to keep the story out of the national press, and a viral video puts Emily in the cross-hairs of a serial killer. The sergeant assigned to investigate the case is none other than her high school sweetheart, Wade Brunner. The Butcher of Boulder Field must be stopped. Emily and Wade will need to work together to end his reign of terror. I rated this at 3 stars. It was so so.
Twenty years ago, several people were murdered in Des Moines, and the only evidence left behind was a snowman ornament hanging on a tree on their front lawns. With a suspect behind bars, the killings have come to an end--or so everyone thought. But now crimes with a similar MO are happening in a small Iowa town, and a local detective believes the killer is back and ready to strike again. With little time on the clock before they have another murder on their hands, private investigators River Ryland and Tony St. Clair must work alongside Tony's father to find evidence that will uncover an evil that has survived for far too long. As the danger mounts and the suspect closes in, it will take all they have to catch a killer--before he catches one of them. USA Today bestselling author Nancy Mehl continues her explosive new FBI profiler series with an intense story of revenge and redemption. I rated this at 5 stars. This was a very good next in the this series.
Now that she’s in her fifties, Penelope Standing has life pretty well figured out. Her pet sitting business keeps her busy, her neighbors are conspiring to get her boyfriend, Jake, to propose, and she has just enough free time to make the corrupt mayor’s life miserable. Then she arrives to walk Brutus, the lovable but ill-behaved mastiff — and finds his owner, Jezza, dead. While the police work to uncover Jezza’s past, Penelope launches an investigation of her own, talking to her clients as she takes care of their pets. Even Brutus, “temporarily” staying with Penelope and Jake, provides clues. More than one person had a motive for murder. But only one of them is coming after Penelope… I rated this at 4 stars. I enjoyed this.
Family secrets can be the most dangerous of all. When Carly Tucker’s police-officer husband is killed during a home break-in, she knows that her side hustle finding the antique treasures at flea markets isn’t enough to support her and their infant son, Noah. So her grandmother’s proposal to have her and her two sisters restore the family’s waterfront Beaufort home into a bed-and-breakfast--that Carly will run--is immediately intriguing. But it’s equally daunting with the animosity that exists between the three sisters. What Carly never expected as she begins to go through the attic was to find a letter in a trunk, written in her husband’s handwriting . . . dated two days before his death. Eric had discovered that Carly’s grandmother was adopted--a fact Carly is certain Gram is not aware of--and had already begun trying to track down her birth family. Is it possible that Eric’s death wasn’t random after all? With few options, Carly reaches out to Gram’s neighbor Simon—and the older brother of her high school sweetheart--who is a local homicide detective. One of the items in the trunk is an enameled egg. If it truly is a Faberge egg, the value could set Carly up for life . . . and would certainly be worth killing for. The journey to find the truth and protect her family will have Carly delving deep into the lost treasures of Eastern Europe--if she and Simon can survive that long. I rated this at 4 stars. I was really interested in the Faberge Egg angle.
Taunting riddles. A deadly string of heists. Two broken hearts trapped in a killer's game. Christian Macleod was pulled into a life of crime at a young age by his con artist parents. Now making amends for his corrupt past, he has become one of the country's foremost security experts. When a string of Southwestern art heists captures the FBI's attention, Christian is paired up with a gifted insurance investigator who has her own checkered past. Andi Forster was a brilliant FBI forensic analyst until one of her colleagues destroyed her career, blaming her for mishandling evidence. She now puts those skills to work investigating insurance fraud, and this latest high-stakes case will test her gift to the limit. Drawn deep into a dangerous game with an opponent bent on revenge, Christian and Andi are in a race against the clock to catch him, but the perpetrator's game is far from finished, and one wrong move could be the death of them both. I rated this at 4 stars. I really enjoyed this thriller.
It should be simple—a dragon defeated, a slumbering maiden, a prince poised to wake her. But when said prince falls asleep as soon as his lips meet the princess', it is clear that this fairy tale is far from over. With a desperate fairy's last curse infiltrating her mind, Princess Aurora will have to navigate a dangerous and magical landscape deep in the depths of her dreams. Soon she stumbles upon Phillip, a charming prince eager to join her quest. But with Maleficent's agents following her every move, Aurora struggles to discover who her true allies are, and moreover, who she truly is. Time is running out. Will the sleeping beauty be able to wake herself up? Once Upon a Dream marks the second book in a new YA line that reimagines classic Disney stories in surprising new ways. I rated it 3 stars. Found this a bit on the boring side.
Imagine a world where your eyes can't be trusted... When the Sycamore corporation releases the ultimate gadget -- an implantable microchip designed to replace smartphones -- society rapidly descends into dystopia. Augmented reality contact lenses act as the new system's display, simultaneously recording everything in the user's field of vision. The potential applications are limitless. So are the surveillance opportunities. Soon after gaining access to Sycamore’s inner circle and learning the corporation’s plans for the future, the chip’s young creator painfully regrets ever giving them the idea. Power like this has never existed. I rated this at 4 stars. It reminds me a bit like what the Bible says will happen in the last days.
Ellingham Academy is a famous private school in Vermont for the brightest thinkers, inventors, and artists. It was founded by Albert Ellingham, an early twentieth century tycoon, who wanted to make a wonderful place full of riddles, twisting pathways, and gardens. “A place,” he said, “where learning is a game.” Shortly after the school opened, his wife and daughter were kidnapped. The only real clue was a mocking riddle listing methods of murder, signed with the frightening pseudonym “Truly, Devious.” It became one of the great unsolved crimes of American history. True-crime aficionado Stevie Bell is set to begin her first year at Ellingham Academy, and she has an ambitious plan: She will solve this cold case. That is, she will solve the case when she gets a grip on her demanding new school life and her housemates: the inventor, the novelist, the actor, the artist, and the jokester. But something strange is happening. Truly Devious makes a surprise return, and death revisits Ellingham Academy. The past has crawled out of its grave. Someone has gotten away with murder. The two interwoven mysteries of this first book in the Truly Devious series dovetail brilliantly, and Stevie Bell will continue her relentless quest for the murderers in books two and three. New York Times bestselling author Maureen Johnson weaves a delicate tale of murder and mystery in the first book of a striking new series, perfect for fans of Agatha Christie and E. Lockhart. I rated this at 4 stars. I found it pretty interesting and a good thriller.
Inheriting your uncle's supervillain business is more complicated than you might think. Particularly when you discover who's running the place. Charlie's life is going nowhere fast. A divorced substitute teacher living with his cat in a house his siblings want to sell, all he wants is to open a pub downtown, if only the bank will approve his loan. Then his long-lost uncle Jake dies and leaves his supervillain business (complete with island volcano lair) to Charlie. But becoming a supervillain isn't all giant laser death rays and lava pits. Jake had enemies, and now they're coming after Charlie. His uncle might have been a stand-up, old-fashioned kind of villain, but these are the real thing: rich, soulless predators backed by multinational corporations and venture capital. It's up to Charlie to win the war his uncle started against a league of supervillains. But with unionized dolphins, hyperintelligent talking spy cats, and a terrifying henchperson at his side, going bad is starting to look pretty good. In a dog-eat-dog world...be a cat. I rated this at 4 stars. I thought it had a pretty good premise.
Two years ago, Joseph King was convicted of murdering his wife and sentenced to life in prison. He was a “fallen” Amish man and a known drug user with a violent temper. Now King has escaped, and he’s headed for Painters Mill. News of a murderer on the loose travels like wildfire, putting Chief of Police Kate Burkholder and her team of officers on edge. But this is personal for Kate. She grew up with Joseph King. As a thirteen year old Amish girl, she’d worshipped the ground he walked on. She never could have imagined the nightmare scenario that becomes reality when King shows up with a gun and takes his five children hostage at their Amish uncle’s farm. Armed and desperate, he has nothing left to lose. Fearing for the safety of the children, Kate makes contact with King only to find herself trapped with a killer. Or is he? All King asks of her is to help him prove his innocence—and he releases her unharmed. Kate is skeptical, but when the facts and the evidence don’t align, she begins to wonder who she should trust. Spurned by some of her fellow cops, she embarks on her own investigation only to unearth an unspeakable secret—and someone who is willing to commit murder to keep it buried. I rated this at 4 stars. I thought it was a pretty good thriller.
A masterfully paced thriller about a reclusive ex–movie star and her famous friends whose spontaneous trip to a private Greek island is upended by a murder ― from the #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Silent Patient. This is a tale of murder. Or maybe that’s not quite true. At its heart, it’s a love story, isn’t it? Lana Farrar is a reclusive ex–movie star and one of the most famous women in the world. Every year, she invites her closest friends to escape the English weather and spend Easter on her idyllic private Greek island. I tell you this because you may think you know this story. You probably read about it at the time ― it caused a real stir in the tabloids, if you remember. It had all the necessary ingredients for a press a celebrity; a private island cut off by the wind…and a murder. We found ourselves trapped there overnight. Our old friendships concealed hatred and a desire for revenge. What followed was a game of cat and mouse ― a battle of wits, full of twists and turns, building to an unforgettable climax. The night ended in violence and death, as one of us was found murdered. But who am I? My name is Elliot Chase, and I’m going to tell you a story unlike any you’ve ever heard. I rated this at 3 stars. It just fell a bit flat for me.
Ryland Grace is the sole survivor on a desperate, last-chance mission—and if he fails, humanity and the earth itself will perish. Except that right now, he doesn’t know that. He can’t even remember his own name, let alone the nature of his assignment or how to complete it. All he knows is that he’s been asleep for a very, very long time. And he’s just been awakened to find himself millions of miles from home, with nothing but two corpses for company. His crewmates dead, his memories fuzzily returning, Ryland realizes that an impossible task now confronts him. Hurtling through space on this tiny ship, it’s up to him to puzzle out an impossible scientific mystery—and conquer an extinction-level threat to our species. And with the clock ticking down and the nearest human being light-years away, he’s got to do it all alone. Or does he? I rated this at 3 stars. I know that it is Science fiction but there was a bit much science. I skimmed the last third of it.
After discovering the truth behind Sycamore, tech pioneer Kurt Jacobs rejects the corporation’s offer of a new identity and chooses to fight to expose the truth. But with an overt threat against his family hanging over him, Kurt must act without being seen. In Sycamore’s hyper-connected dystopian world full of palm-based microchips and augmented reality contact lenses, this is easier said than done... I rated this 4 stars it was a good followup to the first book.
As part-time Tinker’s Cove, Maine reporter Lucy Stone says “ oui” to her daughter’s surprise wedding invitation in France, she must also make a different kind of vow—to catch a killer! When Lucy Stone arrives at a sprawling French chateau with the whole family, it should be the trip of a lifetime—especially because she’s about to watch her oldest daughter, Elizabeth, marry the handsome, successful man of her dreams. But while navigating the vast countryside estate owned by her impenetrably wealthy in-laws-to-be, the jet-lagged mother of the bride has a creeping feeling that Elizabeth’s fairytale nuptials to Jean-Luc Schoen-Rene are destined to become a nightmare . . . Maternal instincts are validated the moment a body is pulled from a centuries-old moat on the property. A young woman has dropped dead under mysterious circumstances—possibly at the hands of someone at the chateau—and unflattering rumors about the Schoen-Rene line and their inner circle flow like champagne. Then there’s the matter of Elizabeth’s hunky ex beau showing up on the scene as she prepares to walk down the aisle . . . With tensions building, personalities clashing, and real dangers emerging at the chateau, Lucy is determined to protect her family, together for the first time in years, and expose the one responsible. She’ll have to locate the culprit among a list of worldly jilted lovers and potential criminal masterminds, or Elizabeth’s trip down the aisle could end in tragedy . . . I rated this book at 3 stars. Too much crusading for my taste. If I wanted to learn about sex trafficking and environmental issues I would read a book about them.

Tuesday, February 27, 2024

One Wrong Move by Dani Pettrey

One Wrong Move

by Dani Pettrey

February 2 - March 1, 2024 Virtual Book Tour

Synopsis:

One Wrong Move by Dani Pettrey

Taunting riddles.
A deadly string of heists.
Two broken hearts trapped in a killer's game.

Christian O'Brady was pulled into a life of crime at a young age by his con artist parents. Now making amends for his corrupt past, he has become one of the country's foremost security experts. When a string of Southwestern art heists targets one of the galleries Christian secured, he is paired up with a gifted insurance investigator who has her own checkered past.

Andi Forester was a brilliant FBI forensic analyst until one of her colleagues destroyed her career, blaming her for mishandling evidence. She now puts those skills to work investigating insurance fraud, and this latest high-stakes case will test her gift to the limit. Drawn deep into a dangerous game with an opponent bent on revenge, Christian and Andi are in a race against the clock to catch him, but the perpetrator's game is far from finished, and one wrong move could be the death of them both.

Dani Pettrey captivates with...

"An intense blend of suspense, love, and faith."
~ Booklist

"Wicked pace, snappy dialogue, and likeable characters."
~ Publishers Weekly

Book Details:

Genre: Romantic Suspense
Published by: Bethany House Publishers
Publication Date: February 6, 2024
Number of Pages: 400
ISBN: 9780764238482 (ISBN10: 0764238485)
Series: Jeopardy Falls, Book 1
Book Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | BookShop.org | Goodreads | Baker Book House

Read an excerpt:

PROLOGUE

He inhaled the stiff resolution of her death. She’d seen Cyrus. Remembered him. Now he’d need to silence her before she could mention Cyrus to anyone at the gallery. The imbecile should have been more careful, but that’s why he was in play. To assure things went according to plan, to remove anyone who stood in their way, and when it was done, to take out Cyrus and Casey. That he would delight in. Cyrus had been a pain in his rear as far back as he could recall. Casey. He was just a lamb to the slaughter, unfortunate fool.

Enrique released a smooth exhale, then inhaled the spicy scent of the girl’s perfume wafting on the stiff October breeze—­whistling through the wind tunnel the long row of downtown businesses made.

Killing her would alert Cyrus to his presence in the States, but, perhaps it would keep him on his toes. Someone needed to.

Maintaining a good distance from his prey, Enrique followed as she meandered through the shops, wearing one of those recyclable grocery bags slung over her shoulder. A baguette and fresh flowers peeked out of the top. She made another stop, this time popping into a coffee shop. He kept walking, stopping a handful of stores down on the opposite side of the street, and waited, letting the other shoppers meld him into the crowd.

A cup of coffee in hand, the girl emerged.

He turned back to look in the storefront before him, waiting until she was far enough ahead for him to resume following. Nearly a fifteen-­minute walk out of town, in an isolated patch of wind-­stirred mesa, sat a two-­story adobe building. Four exterior doors, each with a letter on it. Apartments.

Watching from behind a copse of trees, he waited while she retrieved her keys from her pocket, opened the bottom exterior door on the right, and disappeared inside. He held back, awaiting nightfall. He glanced at his watch. Not long. He surveyed the building, using binoculars to peer through the sheer curtains of her unit. A light in the bedroom shone, and slips of it spilled from what he could only assume was the adjacent bathroom.

He smiled.

The sun dipped below the horizon, and soon darkness shrouded the land. Time to move. Heading around to the back of the building, he found a sliding door to her unit. Easy enough. He jimmied the lock and eased inside.

Water ran in the bathroom, but a voice carried in song from the other side of the apartment. “Carry on Wayward Son.” Interesting choice.

He moved with stealth, approaching what he discerned was the kitchen. A teakettle whistled as steam from the open bathroom door filled the space. The girl turned the corner, dressed in a robe, a teacup in her hand. Her eyes locked on his, and panic flashed across her face as the teacup fell and shattered on the floor.

He smiled. Time to have some fun.

ONE

“Wait here,” Cyrus ordered.

“Why?” Casey asked—­though pawn suited him better. As much as it galled him, Cyrus needed the insipid man. Needed his skills. For now. But when they were done, so was he. “Why?” he asked again.

Cyrus gritted his teeth. So incessant. He shook out his fists. Only a handful of locations to go and the questions would cease. He would cease. “It doesn’t take two of us to get what we came for,” he said, hoping Casey would accept the answer and let it drop, but he doubted it. “I’ve got this. Two of us will only draw more attention.”

“Fine.” Casey slumped back against the van’s passenger seat.

The imbecile was pouting like a girl. And, that knee. Cyrus wanted to break it. Always bouncing in that annoying, jittery way. The seat squeaked with the rapid, persistent motion. He shook his head on a grunted exhale. If Casey didn’t settle . . . if he blew their plans. Cyrus squeezed his fists tight, blood throbbing through his fingers. Too much was at stake. His own neck was on the line.

He turned his attention to the task at hand. “I won’t be long,” he said, surveying the space one last time before opening the van door. The lot behind them was dead, the building still. He climbed out, his breath a vapor in the cold night air. He glanced back at their van, barely visible in the pitch-­black alley.

Shockingly, Casey remained in the passenger seat, his knee still bouncing high.

He shut the van door as eagerness coursed through him. The thrill and rush of the score mere minutes away. Just one quick job and then it was finally time.

He slipped his gloved hands into his pockets. A deeper rush nestled hot inside him, adrenaline searing his limbs. His fervency was for the kill.

He moved toward the rear of the restaurant, where the rental rooms’ entrance sat. His gloved fingers brushed the garrote in his right pocket, and he shifted his other hand to rest on the hilt of his gun. Which way would it go? Garrote or gun? Anticipation shot through him. Rounding the back of the building, he hung in the shadows and then stepped to the door and picked the lock—­so simple a child could have done it. But what had he expected of a rent-­by-­the-­hour-­or-­day establishment?

Opening the door, he stepped inside the minuscule foyer and studied the two doors on the ground level. Nothing but silence. He found the light switch and flipped off the ceiling bulb illuminating the stairwell, then crept up the stairs, pausing as one creaked. He held still, his back flush with the wall, once again shadowed in dark­ness. Nothing stirred.

Reaching her room, he picked the lock, stepped inside, and shut the door, locking it behind him.

She was asleep on the shoddy sofa, a ratty blanket draped across her. Getting rid of her now might be easier, but what fun was it killing someone while they slept? And he needed to make sure she had the items.

He stood a moment, watching her chest rise and fall with what would be her final breaths, then he knocked her feet with his elbow.

Her eyes flashed open as she lurched to a seated position. She rubbed her eyes. “You’re late.”

Less chance of witnesses.

“You have the items?”

She nodded.

“Get them. We’re in a hurry.”

She got to her feet and headed for the bedroom.

He followed.

To his surprise, she climbed up on the dresser and reached for the heating vent.

Huh. She was smarter than he’d expected, yet not bright enough to know what was coming.

Pulling the dingy grate back, she retrieved a black velvet pouch and a bundle of letters held in place by a thick rubber band.

“Hand them over,” he said.

She hopped down and hesitated. “I get my cut, right?” She clutched the items to her pale chest.

“You’ll get your cut,” he said, wrapping his hands around the garrote.

She released her hold. Taking the bag first, he slid it into his upper jacket pocket, then slipped the letters into his pant pocket. “Good job.”

She brushed a strand of hair behind her ear, revealing her creamy neck. “Thanks.”

Restless energy pulsed through him.

“Are we done here?” she asked, shifting her stance, her arms wrapped around her slender waist.

“Just about.”

“What’s left to do?” she asked, her head cocked, and then she stilled. She took a step back. So she’d finally figured it out.

“No.” She shook her head, backing into the paneled wall. In one movement, left hand to right shoulder, he spun her around and slipped the garrote over her head.

He’d intended to give her the option—­the easy way with a gunshot to the head or the hard way with the garrote. But the hard way was far more pleasurable, giving him the best elated high.

It really was a shame. She was a pretty thing.

Five minutes later, he was back in the van, leaving the body behind.

“You got everything?” Casey asked as they pulled onto the street, their headlights off.

Cyrus smiled and handed both items to him. They were a go. The appetite for what was to come gnawed at Cyrus’s gut, but in a good way. It was time to feed the anticipation that had been growing in him for nigh on a year. It was time to scratch that itch.

TWO

Christian’s hands gripped the rock face. Granules abraded the tender flesh beneath his nails, leaving them raw. Pushing up on the ball of his foot, he strained, his fingers searching for the crag. Finally, his hand landed on the cold surface—­only three inches deep. On a sharp inhale and slow exhale, he lunged upward—­only the slightest hold kept him from the hundred-­foot drop to the forest below. His foot landed on the next hold, and he settled, his muscles hot in the brisk dawn air. Blood throbbing through his fingers, he shifted the weight onto the balls of his feet.

Mapping the next route in his head, he leaped for the next hold. Air replaced the solid rock for the breath of a second, and searing adrenaline crashed through him as the hold slipped away. His pulse whooshing in his ears, he slid down, finally grabbing hold of a crag on his rapid descent. His fingers gripped hard—­the only thing holding his body weight and keeping him from the ground far below.

He examined the cliff, looking for a foothold. Something. Anything. Adrenaline raked through him, quivering his arms. Not good. Time held motionless until he anchored his foot on a narrow ledge, small rocks shifting under the soles of his climbing shoes. He kept his weight on the ball of his foot while scanning for a new route up. He exhaled as he found it, but it was going to require another leap of faith.

Releasing his hold, he lunged for a more solid handhold. Gripping it, he worked his way up to another ledge—­this one deep enough to settle comfortably onto.

His breathing quickened by the climb, he turned and pressed his back against the volcanic rock—­cool against his heated and perspiring skin—­and exhaled in a whoosh. Talk about a close one. He smiled. One more adventure down.

He held for a moment, taking in the morning light spreading across what seemed an endless sky. Man, he loved this view. Narrow shafts of sunlight streamed down through the early morning fog, lighting the yellow-­and-­orange foliage ablaze. Everyone talked about the beautiful fall colors in New England, but for him nothing beat fall in New Mexico, and it was peak season.

He sank into the silence. Only the occasional chirping of birds in the trees below rushed by his ears on the stiff, mounting breeze.

The brilliant orange sun rose higher above the horizon, its rays glinting off the rushing water of the swift creek at the bottom of the valley—­chasing away the fading chill of night and replacing it with renewed warmth of the coming day.

“Ain’t Worried About It” broke the silence with its melody. Who on earth was calling so early? He prayed nothing was wrong. It was the only reason he kept his cell on him while climbing—­in case there was an emergency and his family needed him.

He shimmied the phone from the Velcro pocket on his right thigh and maneuvered it to his ear without bothering to look at who was calling. “O’Brady.”

“I need you here now!” Tad Gaiman’s voice shook with rage.

Why on earth was Tad calling him so early? Why was he calling him, period?

Tad’s heated words tumbled out. “My gallery’s been robbed!”

“What?” Christian blinked. There was no way. The security system upgrades he’d installed made it impenetrable, or so he’d thought.

“Do you hear me? My gallery has been robbed!”

“I do.” He kept his voice level. Tad was frantic enough for the both of them. “Which gallery?” The man owned three.

“Jeopardy Falls.”

The one in their hometown? Crime was nearly nonexistent in their small ranching, lately turned tourist, town of five hundred. “Take a deep breath and calm down so you can focus.”

“Calm down?” Tad shrieked, and Christian held the phone away from his ear. Even his sister Riley couldn’t hit that high of a pitch. “Did you not hear me? My gallery’s been robbed.”

“I hear you. Let me call you back.”

“Call me back? You cannot be serious!”

“I’m balanced on a ledge on Manzano.”

“Of course you are.” Tad scoffed.

“I’ll call you when I’m on the road.”

“And how long will it take you to get here? This is a DEFCON 5 situation.”

Christian shook his head. Clearly, Tad had no idea what he was talking about. DEFCON 5 meant peacetime.

“Christian! How soon?”

“I need to climb down and make the drive back to town. I’ll see you in an hour.”

“An hour!”

“We’ll talk through it on my way in.”

Scaling down the rock face as fast as he could, Christian reached his vintage Bronco.

Climbing inside, he clicked on the Bluetooth he’d installed. It’d cost a lot, but in his line of work, he needed to be able to talk while on the road chasing down a case. He shook his head, still baffled that anyone had beat the security system.

He dialed Tad.

Normally his drive along the winding dirt roads through the mountains was calming, but not today.

Tad picked up on the third ring.

“Okay,” Christian said, swiping the chalk from his hands onto his pants—­the climbing towel too far to reach. “Walk me through it. Did the alarm go off?”

“The one on the security system you said couldn’t be beat? No!”

Christian took a stiff inhale. How on earth had someone gotten through the door without the key fob? The fob . . . “Tad, do you have your key fob?”

Silence hung thick in the air as Christian’s Bronco bumped over the ruts in the dirt road, the drop-­off only inches from his tires. He rounded the bend, and the road—­if it could be deemed one—­widened. “Tad?” he pressed.

“Okay, fine. I don’t have it.”

“Where is it?” Christian asked as he headed for the main road that led back to Jeopardy Falls.

Tad swallowed, the slippery, gulping sound echoing over the line. “I think the woman I spent last night with after the gala took it.”

“Riley mentioned she might attend the gala, but she couldn’t make it.”

“It was well attended.”

“And the woman you mentioned?”

“I met her at the gala.”

“She’s not local?”

“I’ve never seen her before last night.”

“So she just strolled into the gala?”

“Yes. It was a semiprivate affair. I sent out invites but welcomed anyone, given it was Friday Night on the Town.”

Their small town had instituted the night on the town for one Friday a month about a year ago, and it had really drummed up business for the eclectic downtown shops.

“Let’s shift back to the gallery,” Christian said. “I’m assuming you used Alex’s fob to get into the building?”

“No. I can’t get in.”

“Why not?” Christian pulled out onto the paved road.

“I can’t reach Alex, despite the fact she’s supposed to open this morning.”

“Okay . . . so walk me through what happened with the fob.”

“I woke up and that . . . woman was gone, and the fob wasn’t where I’d left it. I searched my place, but it’s not there, so I rushed to the gallery. I stopped at Alex’s place on the way, but no answer. She is so—”

“Settle down, Tad. Let’s think this through. Do you think Martha would let you into Alex’s place if you explained the situation?” Maybe the landlady would understand. Jeopardy Falls was a small enough town where everyone knew everyone, which was still taking time for him to get used to. To be known. Well, known at what he was willing to show, which wasn’t much.

“I’m not leaving my gallery. Not until I get inside and see what damage is done. You get the fob from Martha.”

Christian furrowed his brows. “If you can’t get in the gallery and the alarm didn’t go off, how do you know it’s been robbed?”

“Because I can see the three front cases through the porthole windows in the door. They’re open and empty.” A sob escaped Tad’s throat, though he tried to cover it with a cough.

Christian exhaled. “All right. I’ll call Martha, but she might not feel comfortable letting us in.” It was a lot to ask. “Actually, I think in this case, it’s best to have Sheriff Brunswick to reach out to Martha.”

“That’s a good idea,” Tad said. “Give him a call.”

“Wait?” Christian tapped the wheel. “He’s not there yet?”

“No.”

“Did he give you an ETA?” Maybe Joel was on another call. Their county was large, and with only him and one undersheriff, they had a lot of ground to cover.

“I haven’t called him yet.”

Christian’s brows hiked. “You called me before the sheriff?” Where was the sense in that?

“You put the supposedly impenetrable system in. I want to know what went wrong. And I need you to get me inside if we can’t get Alex’s fob.”

“Me?” Christian tapped the wheel.

“You installed the system, so surely you know how to beat it. And, regardless, you’re the one the sheriff calls when they need a locksmith or safecracker on a case. Though you’re quite more than a simple locksmith, aren’t you?”

Christian stiffened. “Meaning?”

“Whoever did this obviously had knowledge of the system.”

“And . . . ?” Christian tightened his grip on the wheel, his knuckles turning white.

“As far as I’m concerned, you’re to blame.”

Christian swallowed the sharp retort ready to fly and took a settling breath instead. “I’ll be there in twenty.”

He disconnected the call before Tad could throw another barb in his direction. He knew all too well how those stinging barbs felt, but this time he was innocent.

***

Excerpt from One Wrong Move by Dani Pettrey. Copyright 2024 by Dani Pettrey. Reproduced with permission from Bethany House Publishers. All rights reserved.

 

 

Author Bio:

Dani Pettrey

Dani Pettrey is the bestselling author of the Coastal Guardians, Chesapeake Valor, and Alaskan Courage series. A two-time Christy Award finalist, Dani has won the National Readers' Choice Award, Daphne du Maurier Award, HOLT Medallion, and Christian Retailing's Best Award for Suspense. She plots murder and mayhem from her home in the Washington, DC, metro area.

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DaniPettrey.com
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BookBub - @DaniPettrey
Instagram - @authordanipettrey
Facebook - @DaniPettrey

 

 

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My Take: This is the first book in a new series. I really liked this book as it took me into a world that I don't think I have ever really read about, the world of Art Heists. In This book we meet Christian, his brother Deckarrd and their Sister Riley. They are all involved somehow in a Private iNvestigation firm. There is also Gaston who sold them the firm and trained them And has remained as a sort of a jack of all trades. Christian installed the alarm system at some galleries that have been robbed so they get into the investigation. Then there is Andi who works for the insurance company and is in charge in finding out who stole the art. Andi use to work for the FBI until she had to resign in disgrace after a case she was working on evidence disappeared and her anylisis was corrupted. Her Best friend Harper is out to prove her innocent before she goes on a mission trip. So Christian and Andi pair up to work on the Art heist and Deckard and Harper team up to work on clearing Andi's name. The mysteries are interesting and keep you guessing until the outcome is revealed. There is alot of romance so if you like romance and mystery this is a good book for you. i gave this a 4 out of 5 five stars and am really looking forward to book two in the sereis. I recieved a review copy of this book from Partners in Crime Book Tours and was not required to write a positive review.

Wednesday, January 31, 2024

Cold Threat by Nancy Mehl

Cold Threat

by Nancy Mehl

January 22 - February 2, 2024 Virtual Book Tour

Synopsis:

Cold Threat by Nancy Mehl

Twenty years ago, several people were murdered in Des Moines, and the only evidence left behind was a snowman ornament hanging ominously on a tree in the victims' front lawns. With a suspect behind bars, the killings have come to an end--or so everyone thought. But now crimes with a similar MO are happening in a small Iowa town, and a local detective believes the killer is back and ready to strike again.

With little time left on the clock before they have another murder on their hands, private investigators River Ryland and Tony St. Clair must work alongside Tony's detective father to find evidence that will uncover an evil that has survived far too long. As the danger mounts and the suspect closes in, it will take all they have to catch a killer--before he catches one of them.


Book Details:

Genre: Suspense
Published by: Bethany House Publishers
Publication Date: January 2024
Number of Pages: 336
ISBN: 978-0764240461 (ISBN10: 0764240463)
Series: Ryland & St. Clair, 2
Book Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | BookShop.org | Goodreads | Baker Book House

Read an excerpt:

PROLOGUE

DECEMBER, TWENTY-­FOUR YEARS AGO

I watched as fire devoured the house as if it were a living, breathing monster, ravenous for death and destruction. It took effort not to smile as I observed the fire department desperately trying to quench the ferocious flames, the firefighters slipping and sliding on the snow and ice. But winter is no match for me. They would lose this fight. The nightmare has just begun. Inside they will find my Christmas offering. Those whom I’d judged and executed. The beast was at my command and would destroy any evidence that could lead to me.

“It’s perfect,” she whispered. “I love it.”

I smiled at her. “It was a long time coming.”

“But you did it. I’m so proud of you.”

I had to blink away the sudden tears that filled my eyes.

“Shouldn’t we leave?”

I nodded. She was right. At some point, the police would arrive and would most certainly look through the people gathered across the street since many times those who set fires like to watch their creations dance and light up the night. They might even take pictures. This was the only time I felt comfortable hanging around for a few minutes—­before anyone had time to scan the crowd. This was important. The first. My debut performance.

I’d just turned to leave when a couple of police cars pulled up, lights flashing, their blue-and-red beams cutting through the night and the falling snow. I walked down the street, hidden behind a curtain of white. I stopped to watch as they exited their vehicles. The sight only added to my excitement. Two officers approached the fire department chief. As they talked, another officer stood on the sidewalk, staring at the structure that was being consumed. Suddenly, he shouted and pointed up toward the second floor. I had to walk back to see why. I stood behind a tree, trying not to look suspicious. That was when I saw it. A face peering through one of the windows.

“Oh no,” she said, her voice breaking. “How did you miss her?”

The officer who’d spotted the unthinkable began to run toward the front door, but two firefighters grabbed him and held him back while another one grabbed a ladder and put it up against the house. It was clearly a child staring at them, her eyes wide with fear. They tried to climb toward her, but it was impossible. The flames from the first floor blocked their way. I felt a wave of anger. She had defiled my righteous mission. I fought to push back my rage. I had no desire to hurt a child. She shouldn’t have hidden from me. I would have kept her safe. I sighed in frustration. This was her fault. Now all of us would have to watch as she died. There wasn’t anything I could do. I felt the urge to leave, but the police were concentrating on her. No one was focused on the crowd, so I risked staying a minute or two longer.

Suddenly I heard a shout and saw the police officer who’d tried to enter earlier suddenly run toward the compromised house and through the front door before anyone could stop him. What a fool. The monster I’d created was too strong. Now there would be two additional lives sacrificed. This wasn’t my mission. Only the guilty were supposed to die. I consoled myself with the knowledge that the blame was theirs. Not mine.

“Maybe he’ll get her out,” she said quietly.

I didn’t respond. I knew she was upset. I couldn’t find the words to tell her that it was too late for both of them.

Part of the house collapsed on the other side, away from the window where the child still stood. Everyone watched in horror. Two firefighters started to follow the officer into the house, but their chief called them back. It was clear they were frustrated, yet the chief obviously thought it was too dangerous for them to enter. He’d probably already written off the officer and the child.

“It’s not your fault.”

“I know,” I said.

I waited for the rest of the structure to fall, but as we all watched, the unbelievable happened. The police officer ran out of the house, something in his arms wrapped up in a blanket. A firefighter ran over to take the bundle from him as the rest of the building collapsed. The officer fell to the ground. I could see his burns from here. It looked as if the cloth from his shirt had melted to his skin and part of his dark hair had burned away. Now he would always remember this night. I felt no anger toward him. Truthfully, I was relieved that the child had a chance. I’d still accomplished my mission. This was a lesson learned. I had checked out the couple carefully, and I’d watched the house. Hadn’t seen any evidence of a child. Still, I’d missed something important. I would never make this mistake again.

She sighed with relief. “I’m so glad she’s okay.”

A thought suddenly struck me. I hadn’t seen the child, but had she seen me? Was she now a liability to my mission? As soon as the thought came, I dismissed it. She’d been hiding. Trying to make sure I couldn’t find her. She would have been too afraid to look at me knowing I might see her too. Besides, she was so young no one would take her seriously anyway. Even if she had caught a glimpse of me, soon I would look very different. I breathed a deep sigh of relief. I was safe.

The firefighters began treating the girl and the officer until an ambulance roared up. It was time to leave. I pulled my jacket tighter and let the darkness and the dancing flakes shroud me as I slipped away, but not before I glanced at the snowman ornament hanging on the tree planted near the sidewalk.

As I walked away, I couldn’t help but sing softly, “Frosty the snowman . . .”

CHAPTER ONE

DECEMBER, PRESENT DAY

River Ryland stared at her phone, willing it to ring. Unfortunately, it seemed it didn’t respond well to mental telepathy. The pastor at the church she’d started attending with Tony had taught on faith yesterday. He’d brought up Mark 11:24 and Philippians 4:6. From what she could understand, faith was something you needed before your prayers were answered. As a child, she’d listened to her father preach, but he’d never mentioned anything like that. His sermons had been about sin and judgment. How to stay pure. Which was laughable since he ran off with the church’s secretary and left his daughter, son, and wife behind, humiliated and without any way to survive financially.

As she continued to eye her phone, she wondered if she should start believing that God would bring more clients to Watson Investigations. Was it okay to have faith for something like that? It was clear that faith was important to God, but she didn’t want to treat Him like some kind of genie in a lamp who would bring her whatever she asked for. What was His will, and what was selfishness? She sighed quietly. Life with God was proving to be interesting.

She glanced over at her partner, Tony St. Clair, and asked herself the question she’d posed so many times. What was he doing here? She’d had to leave the FBI. Severe PTSD had made it impossible for her to continue working as a behavioral analyst. Tony had been shot by the Salt River Strangler, the serial killer who’d tried to kill her, and was still dealing with some of the aftereffects. Even so, he could have gone back to work. Instead, he talked her into starting this detective agency. They’d only had two cases so far. The results had been positive. One case had to do with teachers at a local high school selling drugs—­something they stumbled across. The teachers were arrested, and the drug trade shut down. No paying client with that one. The other case had been pro bono. They’d solved that too. Thankfully, someone connected with the case—­not their client—­had given them a generous stipend. But how long would that last without some new cases? Was asking herself that question a lack of faith? She really didn’t know the answer.

Tony’s long legs were crossed, his feet up on his desk. He was leaning back in his chair, writing in a notebook. He reminded her of Benedict Cumberbatch. His curly dark hair was longer than most FBI agents had worn their hair. His long eyelashes sheltered eyes that sometimes looked blue and other times appeared to be gray. Tony was an enigma. A handsome man who never dated. He used to. Before the shooting. There were definitely some women at church who had him in their sights, but he clearly wasn’t interested. Of course, she wasn’t dating either. Didn’t want to. Right now, she just wanted to figure out who God wanted her to be. It was hard to believe He needed a private investigator. She didn’t see that among the gifts listed in the Bible.

“Okay, God,” River whispered. “I’m asking You to make this agency successful. I thank You for hearing me. And . . .” She gulped. “And I thank You for our new cases.” There. She shook her head. Weird, but Pastor Mason would be proud of her. She jumped when Tony’s phone rang.

River listened closely. If this was a case . . . Well, Pastor Mason also said something about patience. Surely answers to prayer didn’t happen this quickly. If so, she should have started praying this way a long time ago.

“Slow down, Dad,” Tony said. “I’m not sure I understand.”

River was almost relieved that it was Tony’s father. If it actually had been a new case . . . well, it would have freaked her out a little. She began to straighten her desk again, only slightly listening to Tony’s conversation. It seemed to be a little one-­sided.

Finally, Tony said, “I’ve got to call you back, Dad. Let me talk to River and see what she thinks. You know her mother is ill.” Pause. “All in all, doing pretty good. She has full-­time help now.” Another pause. “Okay. I’ll phone you in a bit.”

After he hung up, he pulled his feet off his desk and sat up straight in his chair. His blue sweater was the same color as his eyes . . . when they were blue. Why was she paying attention to his eyes? She gave herself a virtual kick in the pants and realized that Tony looked upset.

“Everything okay?” she asked.

“No, not really.”

“Is your dad all right? Your mom?”

“No,” he said, cutting her off. “They’re fine. And before you ask, my sister’s good too.” He looked away and cleared his throat. Something he did when he was troubled or thinking. Finally, his eyes met hers. “I told you that when my dad was a rookie police officer, before he was promoted to detective, he was badly burned in a fire?”

She nodded. She remembered the story. It was hard to forget. “He saved a little girl’s life.”

“Yes. Well, they found two bodies in the house after the fire was put out. The little girl was the granddaughter of the couple. Thank God, Dad got her out in time.”

“Yeah. Your father’s a hero.”

Tony smiled. “Don’t say that to him. He won’t put up with it. I also told you that they never found the person responsible?”

She nodded again, then waited for him to finish. It was obvious what was coming next. She swallowed. Was this just coincidence? Of course, this was Tony’s dad. They couldn’t charge him anything for their services. River should have mentioned in her prayer that they needed a paying case. She didn’t realize God was so literal.

Trust Me.

Although she hadn’t heard an audible voice, it was so clear it made her jump.

Trust Me.

She swallowed hard. “Uh, he wants us to help him solve a twenty-­year-­old crime?” she said. Why was her voice squeaky? “Why now? I mean, I assume he tried to close this case himself. From what you told me, he’s an excellent detective.”

“He is, but he’s retiring.”

“And he wants this solved before he leaves?”

Tony nodded. “In a way. You see, there were two other similar murders with the same MOs in Des Moines not long after that one. The police arrested someone. Charged him with all three. Dad was never sure they got the right person.”

“You never told me that.”

“I never went into details because I thought it was a closed case.”

“So, your father wants to make certain the case is truly closed before he leaves? It’s still a really cold case. You know how tough they are to solve after so long.”

“Well, except he says it’s happened again.”

“In Des Moines?”

Tony shook his head. “No, up in Burlington, Iowa, where they are now. They moved there years ago because Dad felt it was a better place to live. He was convinced that Des Moines was getting too big. Too dangerous. He wanted a slower-­paced life. A safer place for Mom. Truthfully, I think he had a tough time working in Des Moines. He couldn’t get anyone he worked with to believe they’d arrested the wrong person for those murders.”

“Wait a minute. So, your dad thinks the killer followed him?”

He shrugged. “He doesn’t know, although I agree that it seems strange. Look, I know you have questions. I do too. Can you come to Burlington with me so we can write a profile? He wants to see if we can add something to what he has so far.”

River hesitated a moment.

“I know you’re thinking about your mom. Sorry. Maybe I shouldn’t have asked. I can go alone. I shouldn’t have put you on the spot.”

River shook her head. “You’re not. Now that we have Mrs. Weyland, I may be able to come with you.”

Hannah, the young woman who had come in to help River’s mother during the day, had quit after finding out she was pregnant. She’d recommended her aunt, who had recently lost her husband. Agatha Weyland was sixty-­three years old and had nursed her husband through Alzheimer’s. When Hannah told her she was pregnant and had to leave her job, Mrs. Weyland had begged her to set up an interview with River. At first, she wasn’t sure if it would work since Mrs. Weyland wanted to move in.

“I just can’t stay in my house anymore,” she’d told River when they talked. “Too many ghosts. Hannah and her husband love the house and they’ve offered to buy it. I was goin’ to move into an apartment, but if you have a spare room . . .” Her hazel eyes had filled with tears, and River had been touched by her. But would she change her mind and quit once she was stronger? She didn’t want Rose to get used to someone and then have her leave. River’s mother was still dealing with Hannah’s quitting. She had loved and trusted the young woman.

“I’m not lookin’ for anything temporary,” Mrs. Weyland had said as if reading River’s mind. “I intend to take care of your mother until . . . well, until she no longer needs me.”

This time it was River’s turn for tears.

“Oh, honey,” the older woman had said, taking River’s hand. “I know what Alzheimer’s is like. I know how to take care of your precious mama. My Harold was a happy man until the day he died. I learned how to go with him wherever he was . . . and how to be whoever he needed me to be. We were happy, and your mother will be happy too. You have my word.”

River had really wanted to hire Mrs. Weyland, but she was certain Rose wouldn’t give up another one of her rooms. She’d gotten upset when River and Tony had moved her original sewing space to another room even though they set it up exactly the same. They’d moved things around so River could be closer to her mother in case she needed help during the night. Now she’d have to give up her sewing room completely, even though she never used it. River was prepared for a meltdown. But after spending a couple of hours getting to know Mrs. Weyland, Rose had said, “Can’t we just move the things in the sewing room down to the basement, River? Either Agatha could move in there, or you could move into that room, and Agatha could be right next to me.”

Although she was more than surprised by her mother’s request, she quickly agreed. River moved into the old sewing room, and Mrs. Weyland set herself up next to Rose.

“Let me talk to Mrs. Weyland,” she told Tony. “She’s barely had time to get to know my mother. She might feel uncomfortable with me leaving town so soon. How long do you think we’ll be gone?”

“Why don’t we say the rest of the week?” he said. “I think that’s enough time to create a profile. My father’s already put together a murder book, although I’m not sure how much information he’s been able to get his hands on. Hopefully, we’ll at least have some pictures and reports.”

“Okay, but if Mrs. Weyland or my mother is uncomfortable . . .”

“I’ll go alone and bring everything back with me.” He frowned. “I’d really like you to talk to my dad. See if he can convince you the cases are related. I know that’s not what we do when we write a profile, so we’ll be using our ace deductive skills as well.”

River laughed. “I’ll call Mom now, but you might as well plan on going alone. My mother will probably have a conniption fit.”

“A conniption fit? Where do you get these expressions? I truly think an old lady lives somewhere down deep inside you.”

River picked up her phone, stuck her tongue out at Tony, and dialed Mrs. Weyland.

***

Excerpt from Cold Threat by Nancy Mehl. Copyright 2024 by Nancy Mehl. Reproduced with permission from Bethany House Publishers. All rights reserved.

 

 

Author Bio:

Nancy Mehl

Nancy Mehl is the author of more than fifty books, a Parable and ECPA bestseller, and the winner of an ACFW Book of the Year Award, a Carol Award, and the Daphne du Maurier Award. She has also been a finalist for the Christy Award. Nancy writes from her home in Missouri, where she lives with her husband, Norman, and their puggle, Watson.

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NancyMehl.com
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Twitter/X - @NancyMehl1
Facebook - @nancy.mehl

 

 

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My Take: This is the second book in a series and I would suggest that you read the first book. You don't need to read these in order but it would be nice to read the first book. I really liked this second book. It kept me engaged and wanting to know what would happen next. I look forward to reading the next installment. I don't want to give away any spoilers but I do wish that the two main characters would admit to each other that they have feelings for each other as every one around them seems to already know. As far as the thriller part of this book I would say that it stood up to being both thrilling and exciting. I gave this book 5 stars on Goodreads. Great way to continue a series. I received a review copy of this book from Partners in Crime Book Tours and was not required to write a positive review.

Thursday, November 23, 2023

Dark Dweller by Gareth Worthington

Dark Dweller

by Gareth Worthington

November 13-24, 2023 Virtual Book Tour

Synopsis:

cover

Captain Kara Psomas was pronounced dead when her research vessel slammed into Jupiter.

More than a century later, the crew of the Paralus, a helium mining freighter, find a pristine escape pod with a healthy young girl nestled inside. A girl who claims to be Kara—and she brings a message of doom.

She says she has been waiting in the dark for that exact moment. To be found by that particular crew. Because an ancient cosmic being has tasked her with a sacred responsibility. She claims she must alter the Fulcrum, a lever in time—no matter the cost to the people aboard—or condemn the rest of civilization to a very painful and drawn-out demise.

She sounds convincing. She appears brave. She might well be insane.

Praise for Dark Dweller:

"... intense, exciting, and nerve-wracking ... taut, tense, and ultimately explosive. A fantastic read not just for science fiction aficionados but for all lovers of adventure."
~ Readers' Favorite

"Dark Dweller is that rare beast of hard sci-fi that can pull off high-end concepts, but also entertain the reader with tension and strong set pieces."
~ SFBook Review

"A story steeped in intrigue, vivid descriptions, and action-packed dialogue."
~ Midwest Book Review

"Epic, bleak, provocative."
~ Indiereader Review

"Knuckle-hard science fiction."
~ Bestsellers World

Dark Dweller Trailer:

Book Details:

Genre: Hard sci Fi mixed with esoteric elements
Published by: Dropship Publishing
Publication Date: February 2023
Number of Pages: 304
ISBN: 9781954386051 (ISBN10: 1954386052)
Book Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | BookShop.org | Goodreads

Read an excerpt:

PROLOGUE

Dr. Sarah Dallas

"Are you the fucking pilot, Hair?” Boz screams at me, piggy eyes aflame in her round face.

I hate that moniker: Hair. Not important right now. The fact we’re going to die is. “No, I’m not, but—”

“Then stay in your lane and shut your hole.”

Breathe, Sarah. Don’t punch her. You’re the ship’s counselor. Be professional. Do not punch her. The mantra rings over and over in my skull, but Boz tests every ounce of my training. There are four of us on this twelve-year round trip. Assaulting the pilot isn’t the best idea.

I release a very measured breath and fix my attention on the largest planet in our solar system looming large in the viewfinder of our liner—the Paralus. Jupiter is enormous, its surface banded with reddish-brown and off-white clouds, rushing and crashing into one other. Its one angry red eye stares at us, at me.

My supposed intellect short-circuits as I try to quantify and categorize. In the face of something truly awe-inspiring my tiny human biological computer is unable, or refuses, to comprehend the sheer magnitude of this world. Yet my limbic system must have some ancient recollection of dealing with overwhelming reverence, forcing a rush of adrenaline through my bloodstream and into my trembling muscles.

Just look at it.

The Paralus shudders as we hurtle into the upper atmosphere. Jupiter has a will of its own, intent on sucking us into its gassy interior. Ironic, given we’re here to grab its vapors. Helium-3 to be specific, to act as cryogenic coolant for our nuclear fusion reactors at home and space stations set out along the Interplanetary Transport Network. Jupiter has helium in spades, while Earth has precious little, and so now we risk our lives on ridiculously dangerous missions to mine the ether. In the age of interplanetary travel and colonization, profit trumps human life—as always.

Metal squeals and the hull creaks. The luminous tabs and keys beneath crystal glass control panels stutter and flicker. Even the slick white walls and soothing curves of the Bridge’s interior can’t muffle the complaints of the frail, human-made underpinnings.

A tear slips from the corner of my eye and my knuckles are white as I grip the armrests.

“Are you crying?” Boz yells, peeling her stare from the enormous viewfinder to gawk in disgust at me for daring to have any emotion other than anger.

“We’re coming in too hot,” I press, flitting a concerned frown from Boz to the planet and back again in hopes she takes the hint to watch where the hell she’s going. “Can’t the AI take over?”

“Which part of shut up isn’t penetrating all that hair?” Boz clicks her tongue, then tweaks on the thruster yokes. Sweat beads on her forehead. “I got this, Dallas. Now back off.”

I wriggle back in my seat and adjust the harness again. Everyone hates a backseat driver, but if she gets this wrong Jupiter will seize the Paralus and we’ll never have enough thrust to escape. We’ll either be torn to shreds or crushed like a tin can. Either one a shitty way to go.

Our freighter shakes like a rag doll in the mouth of a puppy, the nuts and bolts of this dilapidated piece of junk threatening to come loose. The Paralus is fragile as all hell and entirely breakable—the sort of construction a five-year-old makes out of drinking straws and modeling clay. A mile-long needle with a nuclear fusion engine at the aft end, a Scoop and transport shuttle docking bay, the AI mainframe in the center, and two spinning rings: one for cargo, and one for medbay, exercise room and living quarters. Ops, also called the Bridge, sits right in the nose.

Perfect for a front-row seat to our doom.

“Still too much speed,” Boz says. “Increasing retro-thruster burn.”

Will that do anything? The main retro-thrusters have been firing while we’re asleep for months now, slowing us to enter orbit correctly, which sounds great on paper but—given the heap of shit we’re in—means diddly squat.

“Boz, keep her steady,” Commander Chau calls from his chair.

“I’m trying, sir,” she yells back.

“Tris?” Chau says loud enough to be heard over the din of warping metal punctuated at regular intervals by the warning alarm.

“The trajectory is off, something’ changed,” Tris Beckert, our co-pilot and chief engineer, replies in his Texan drawl. “Jupiter’s not where we predicted. It’s not a big ol’ shift, but enough.”

I swear my ass just clenched hard enough to make a button on the seat. A ton of unmanned craft have slammed into their destination planet or just whizzed on by into space forever. I’m no astrophysicist, but was once told reaching a target in space like standing on Everest and firing a bullet at a pea-sized target on the other side of the Earth.

“We’re comin’ in a little steep,” Tris says, tapping away at his readout. “AI is helpin’ Boz compensate—”

The alarm blares again.

“Warning, orbital entry path suboptimal,” says a synthetic, sonorous voice from overhead.

Only an AI could so calmly announce our deaths.

“Yes, I fucking know, Dona,” Boz spits back. “Reverse thrusters won’t do it. Gotta skip over the atmosphere. Just need to burn more delta-v.”

The Paralus lurches under a burst from the engines. The horizon of Jupiter fills the viewfinder, its swirling fumes mixing like milk and coffee in a fresh latte. A fresh latte? Shut up, Sarah.

On the horizon, flashes of white light, tinged with green edges, emanate from just below Jupiter’s cloud line.

Tris shoots a worried look at Boz.

“Asteroids exploding on impact?” she yells without breaking her concentration.

“I don’t think so,” Tris shouts back.

“You better fucking hope not or we’re about to get cratered,” Boz says.

Cratered. Great. Pebble-dashed with chunks of space rock. The spindly nature of the Paralus helps it to not be a gigantic target, but it only takes one puncture and we’re all screwed.

Why am I here, again?

“Hold on to your pantyhose,” Boz says, perspiration running down her temples.

The Paralus is battered, a pathetic kite in impossibly strong winds, as we plunge farther into the outer atmosphere of Jupiter. The viewfinder is near black—sunlight can no longer penetrate the violent vapors assaulting us. Multiple feeds from external cameras cycle on and off, but offer no help.

Boz roars long and loud, heaving on the yokes while Tris taps away at his console, calculating and recalculating—pinging his very human assumptions off the computations of the AI. Chau sits, smooth jaw set and stoic, his narrowed sights fixed on some imaginary endpoint to this nightmare of an orbital entry. He looks oddly calm.

I squeeze my eyes shut and mumble a prayer, though to whom I don’t know. God, Yahweh, Allah. Anyone who’ll listen. In moments of extreme stress, time seems to slow, the human mind suddenly able to function on some higher level, absorbing all the information it can in hopes of averting disaster. Behind my eyelids, in a weird half-dream, half-out-of-body experience, I see myself clinging to the harness. Observing the cowardly pose fills my astral-projected self with shame, which only grows with the knowledge I’m not praying for loved ones at home who might miss me when I’m gone, but to make it out alive so I can go on ignoring them for a little longer.

Except for Dad, always have time for Dad.

The shuddering stops.

I open my eyes. The last wisps of Jupiter’s atmosphere slip past revealing vast, open space. Here, unadulterated with the light of human cities, the universe is alive. The light from the smallest of stars reaches out to me from across the expanse. The feeling of relief at still being alive is replaced with nausea. The same feeling one gets when peering into a pitch-black well, wondering how far down it goes. We came so close to death, but what difference would it make? The universe doesn’t care. Look at how big it is.

“Jesus fucking Christ,” Boz says, slumping back in her chair.

“Hey now,” Tris pipes up.

“Sorry, Tris.”

She’s not sorry. Tris doesn’t like too much swearing, but Boz does it anyway. Several times a day. So do I, just in my head. Isn’t that what we all do? Hide a little piece of who we are to placate others. To survive society. But again, it’s hard to care when you’re out here knowing the cosmos really doesn’t give a rat’s ass what we do. The desire to let loose a string of expletives nearly overwhelms me. Nearly.

“I want to know what happened,” Chau says, his expression cold like granite. “How could our trajectory be that off?”

“It wasn’t,” Tris replies, shaking his head. “I told you, Jupiter moved.”

Chau narrows his eyes. “Not possible.”

“Engineer Tris is correct,” the AI says, its tone unchanging. “Jupiter’s orbital path appears to have altered.”

“How the hell is that possible?” Boz asks.

“Ya’ll got me,” Tris replies, tapping at his screen. “Some kinda gravitational irregularity?”

“Affecting Jupiter?” Chau says, one eyebrow raised. “Jupiter moves celestial bodies, not the other way around.”

Tris shrugs. “I’ll look into it.”

“Fine, but after the grab,” Chau says.

“I need to get us back into a proper orbit,” Boz says, already tapping away at her console. “That’s gonna take a while. We had to burn long and hard to skip over the atmosphere. It’s gonna be like turning a galactic Buick.”

“Do it,” Chau says.

“Um.” As the word leaves my lips I wish it hadn’t.

All eyes fix on me.

Shit. Well done, Sarah. Best follow through now. “Is that an aerostat in our flight path?”

“What are you talking about, Doctor,” Boz says.

I point out of the main window.

The crew follows the imaginary path from my fingertip out into space and to the spheroid metallic object. “If that’s an aerostat, it’ll do a lot of damage if we hit it.” Though they’re flexible, colliding with one of these weather stations dropped into the atmosphere to monitor the constant violent storms would fuck us up.

“That ain’t an aerostat, that’s a ship,” Tris says, squinting. “Too far out of the atmosphere. Wrong shape.”

“Are we going to hit … whatever that is?” Chau asks.

Boz shakes her head. “We’re headed out. Seems it’s geo-synched, in orbit.”

“You’re eyeballing it?” I ask.

Boz glares at me. “How about you let me do my job, Dallas?”

Chau holds up his hand. “Enough. What do we do about it?”

Tris clears his throat. “ITN protocol says we have to prioritize the grab, but … this is a little unorthodox. There’s no precedent for an alien ship.” He shoots a nervous glance at Chau.

Chau sniffs hard. “There’s no evidence to suggest it’s an alien ship. How close will we come to it?”

Tris’s fingers flit across his console at lightning speed. Then, with a dramatic swipe, he sends the flight path file from his panel to Boz who looks it over.

“Within a hundred feet,” Boz says. “Just like I said.”

Yes, Boz, I get it— you’re a genius and I’m an idiot. Seriously, Sarah, hold it together. “Do we need to adjust?”

“If we try that, we’ll push ourselves further out,” Tris says, “and it’ll take longer to re-enter synchronized orbit.”

“At a hundred feet we can get a pretty good look at it, though, right?” I say.

Tris nods. “I’d get a window seat now, because we’re about to zip by.”

We, of course, aren’t going to unbuckle and float over to the large window, so we all just fall into a confused silence and fix our attention to the small vessel that is fast approaching—or rather the one that we are fast approaching.

Could this really be alien? Are we the first humans to encounter other intelligent life? Finding microbes on Mars some fifty years ago was a little anticlimactic, especially at a time when humankind had finally started to pay consideration to our own dying world. Too little too late. But a spaceship? Maybe this crappy trip was worth it after all.

The alien vessel is now large enough in the viewfinder to study it a little better. Too damn close if you ask me, but hey, I’m just the shrink right?

Boz glances over her shoulder at Chau. The two of them don’t cross words, but exchange an unspoken question.

They’re right to be confused. What the hell is going on?

The ship, or pod, is roughly egg-shaped, and in the outer lights of the Paralus seems to be grey in color. No windows. Small rear thrusters. And an ITN insignia.

“Holy shit,” Boz says. “It’s an escape pod.”

“Did the last liner report a pod ejection?” Chau asks.

“Not to my knowledge,” Boz says. “Tris?”

The Texan shakes his head. “I got no record of that.”

“Those markings, they’re old,” I pipe up. “See the logo? Saturn is included now, since the expansion. This is pre-rebrand, done more than twenty years ago. Actually, that looks even older. Museum old.” That tidbit of information only serves to remind them who I am, how I’m here, and that they really don’t like me or my family. Shit.

“Chief,” Tris says. “We gotta see what’s over there. I can take a Scoop.”

Chau looks to Boz.

She just shrugs. “I have to swing her around Jupiter to get us into orbit. I can use the gravity to catapult us ’round and come up on the pod again. Give us time to gear up.”

Chau tents his fingertips. “How will that affect the grab?”

“Well, it’ll delay it,” Tris says, rubbing at his square jaw. “But Jupiter isn’t going anywhere.”

“Didn’t you just say it moved?” My lips try to hang on to the last word as if I can suck back the regrettably snarky remark.

Tris pinches his lips together and gives a subtle shake of his head.

You’re right Tris; shut up, Sarah.

“Oh man, we best still be haulin’ when we return,” Boz says, and shoots me a look as if this whole thing is somehow my fault. “Only get paid if we have a load.”

Hauling back Helium is all anyone gives a shit about, because it means getting paid. Helium is this century’s gold rush. This is hilarious, given I’ve listened to enough company speeches to know that helium is the second most abundant element in the universe. The problem is, while God was handing out the element, He—or She or It—seemed to skip Earth. Our planet’s crust is probably not even in the parts per billion range. In the Earth’s atmosphere, it’s only 5.2 parts per million per volume. So, Jupiter is our reservoir, our lifeline. Still, the ITN has protocols for situations like this. The pod could pose a threat to continued mining. Though no idea what kind of threat, not my wheelhouse. “I think the ITN are gonna call this one,” I add. “Something like this will trump a helium grab. The AI has probably locked all systems anyway. We won’t get to do the job yet.”

Boz tuts again.

“You are correct, Dr. Dallas,” the AI says. “Current mission suspended until investigation completed.”

Chau tents his fingertips. “The faster we clear that pod, the faster we get back on mission.”

Everyone unbuckles and swims out of the only door in or out of the Bridge. Boz gives me a long, hard, disapproving stare, but Tris flashes a grin. Chau doesn’t even bother to acknowledge me. For him, a shrink has two jobs on these freighters: make sure the crew don’t lose their minds in deep space, and stay the hell out of the way.

So far, no-one’s lost their marbles, yet.

***

Excerpt from Dark Dweller by Gareth Worthington. Copyright 2023 by Gareth Worthington. Reproduced with permission from Gareth Worthington. All rights reserved.

 

 

Author Bio:

Gareth Worthington

Gareth Worthington holds a degree in marine biology, a PhD in Endocrinology, an executive MBA, is Board Certified in Medical Affairs, and currently works for the Pharmaceutical industry educating the World's doctors on new cancer therapies.

Gareth is an authority in ancient history, has hand-tagged sharks in California, and trained in various martial arts, including Jeet Kune Do and Muay Thai at the EVOLVE MMA gym in Singapore and 2FIGHT Switzerland.

He is an award-winning author and member of the International Thriller Writers Association, Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, and the British Science Fiction Association.

Born in England, Gareth has lived around the world from Asia, to Europe to the USA. Wherever he goes, he endeavors to continue his philanthropic work with various charities.

Gareth is represented by Renee Fountain and Italia Gandolfo at Gandolfo Helin Fountain Literary, New York.

Catch Up With Gareth Worthington:
GarethWorthington.com
Goodreads
BookBub - @GarethWorthington
Instagram - @garethworthington
Twitter/X - @DrGWorthington
Facebook - @garethworthingtonauthor
YouTube - @garethworthington7564

 

 

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My Take: I didn't use to read t many Sci Fi books but recently I have been enjoying quite a few. This book was an interesting story. It was a little slow to begin but the last part was a whirlwind of action and adventure. For those of you who care the main character Sarah is gay although nothing was acted on other than to state she was gay. Also the ships doctor went by the pronouns they/them and it was never revealed if they were male or female which for me was bit like reading improper English but I got use to it by the end of the book. There was also more profanity than I personally like but it might not bother you. The story overall was ok and I was wondering how it was going to resolve itself. I felt for the young girl Kara who seems to be under the influence of an outside force that is bent on destroying the human race. I enjoyed this book and gave it a three stars out of five because the beginning was so slow. I received a review copy of this book from Partners in Crime book tours and was not required to write a positive review, all opinions are my own.