So, I regret to inform readers that it has been a long time since I’ve read a Chautona Havig book. *Gasp* I know, I know. I have failed. But let me say this, I am glad I snatched up this one and I was reminded why I love her work so much.
For starters, this fairytale retelling of Cinderella set to the backdrop of early Hollywood cinemas. Think Greta Garbo and early Clark Gable (pre-Gone With The Wind)–which was the best time in movie history. Everything was new and exciting and glamorous. It was also sketchy a filled with all sorts of backdoor dealing that could make ones’ skin crawl, but I digress.
The Last Gasp (what they used to call cigarettes) is a blessed torture of who-done-it and will-she-ever as murder knocks on the front door of a superstar and his girl. I love their tender affections for each other. He is trying to figure out how to make a good life and follow the calling God placed on his heart. She is unsure about some things, while determined and focused on others. Together, they are a beautiful mess and I love it.
The character I was really digging on was Mrs. Cohan – that woman has some sass and it was fun to read her. She definitely added some punch to the story. I pictured a younger version of my own grandma as neither woman had no issue saying what she thought, whether people l liked it or not.
I also enjoyed the twist on the Cinderella part. Yes, there are “step-family” like characters, but they take it to a whole new level of evil.
Listen- just get the book. It will be the perfect read for this end of summer relaxation, maybe once the kids are at school. Chautona writes in a way that is simple and pleasant all the way through.
***I was given a copy from the publisher. All views are my own and a positive review was not required.
About the Book
Book: The Last Gasp
Author: Chautona Havig
Genre: Christian Historical Mystery, Fairytale retelling
Release date: July 6, 2021
At the pinnacle of his Hollywood career, Garrison Prince’s reign ends tonight.
As plain old Gary Prinz, he can pursue his Bible education, buy a bungalow in Pasadena, acquire a few chickens, and marry the girl of his dreams. He just never imagined trading the silver screen for a pulpit would wreak such havoc.
A cigarillo girl, Lucinda Ashton spends her days with her boyfriend, Gary, and her evenings selling candy and “gaspers” to the Hollywood elite at the Taj Mahal Theater.
However, when gunshots ring out just as intermission begins, Lucinda finds herself smack-dab in the middle of a brouhaha that leaves three dead, and no one has a clue why.
All the police know is that the evidence points to Lucinda as the killer and Gary as the intended target.
Four new friends, one young orphan, and a potluck of clues that don’t seem to fit anywhere leave the police baffled, Lucinda in fear for her freedom, and Gary ready to trade in his acting shoes for gumshoes if it’ll save his “Cinda.”
The first book in the Ever After Mysteries combining beloved fairy tales and mysteries, The Last Gasp. This Cinderella retelling blends a murder with enough crime and story clues to keep you on the edge of your seat.
Click here to get your copy!
About the Author
Author of the bestselling Aggie and Past Forward series, Chautona Havig lives in an oxymoron, escapes into imaginary worlds that look startlingly similar to ours and writes the stories that emerge. An irrepressible optimist, Chautona sees everything through a kaleidoscope of It’s a Wonderful Life sprinkled with fairy tales. Find her at chautona.com and say howdy—if you can remember how to spell her name.
More from Chautona
What Beautiful, Unexpected Parallel Did I Find Writing this Mystery?
I bought it at Pic-n-Save when I was eleven—an 8.5×11 paperback book of traditional fairy tales. I learned another side of the age-old stories that you don’t see from Disney. Rapunzel? Yeah. That was the story about the queen who was craving rampion (a salad vegetable) so much that she promised to give up her child for it. Rampion—Rapunzel. It’s a thing.
It’s also where I learned Cinderella’s name as “Aschenputtel.” Look, those Brothers Grimm were… well, they were German and that should explain everything. “Puttel” just sings of German, doesn’t it? That tale was also a bit gruesome. The one sister cut off her big toe to make the shoe fit because her mother said, “You won’t have to walk anywhere if you’re a queen. Who needs it!” So the idiotic girl did. Same for the other sister and her heel. Seriously, didn’t she learn from her older sister?
Oh, and it’s the one where mother and stepsisters get their eyes picked out by birds. It reminded me of Proverbs 30:17. “The eye that mocks a father and scorns a mother, the ravens of the valley will pick it out, and the young eagles will eat it.”
Talk about bringing Scripture to life for kids there. *Gulp*
True confession, our kids used to sing that verse to the tune of “All Hail the Pow’r of Jesus’ Name.” You should have heard the lusty voices of our children in our Grand Marquis station wagon (may the wonderful beast rest in peace) singing, “The ravens shall pick out his eyes and eeee-agles eeee-eeaat the saaaammmme!”
Cinderella—I mean, Aschenputtel—really wasn’t my favorite story, though. I liked other stories from other books. Like the Ten Brothers—a Chinese folk tale. You know. Fairy tale.
Know which fairy tale I liked even less than Cinderella?
The Little Mermaid. Seriously, I didn’t like the original (Sorry Mr. Andersen… I just didn’t), and I can’t stand Disney’s. But when we first began planning the Ever After Mysteries, I knew which one I wanted to do. The Little Mermaid had everything going for it. Houdini and a water tank. Can’t you just see it? It would have been great. But a friend asked who was writing about the “cigarillo girl” (as I mention in THIS post), and well… the rest is history. Or at least, it’s set back in history.
But there’s one truth I discovered as I wrote this mystery.
Mystery… that’s a good word for this truth, actually. Cinderella is a beautiful picture of Jesus as our prince. We can be His bride and put on the shoe He has fashioned only to fit us, or we can try to snatch it up and make it suit our wills and hold our overgrown egos (work with me here). He takes us out of our ragged, dirty lives and brings us home… to Him. To His Father.
Is there anything more beautiful? I don’t think so.
In The Last Gasp, Gary knows Cinda long before she knows him—truly knows him. He loves her just as she is. Is it a perfect retelling of the beauty of Christ’s love for his church? Not hardly. It wasn’t intended to demonstrate that relationship at all. But there are tiny nuances that do. And that’s pretty cool.
Rebecca Tews, August 2
For Him and My Family, August 2
Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, August 3
Gina Holder, Author and Blogger, August 3 (Author Interview)
Lots of Helpers, August 4
Inklings and notions, August 4
deb’s Book Review, August 5
CarpeDiem, August 5
Locks, Hooks and Books, August 6
Connect in Fiction, August 6
Texas Book-aholic, August 7
Blogging With Carol, August 7
She Lives To Read, August 8
Ashley’s Clean Book Reviews, August 8
Connie’s History Classroom, August 9
Simple Harvest Reads, August 9 (Guest Review from Donna Cline)
Abba’s Prayer Warrior Princess, August 10
A Modern Day Fairy Tale, August 10
Musings of a Sassy Bookish Mama, August 11
The Meanderings of a Bookworm , August 11
Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, August 12
Book Bites, Bee Stings, & Butterfly Kisses, August 12
Splashes of Joy, August 13
Mary Hake, August 13
For the Love of Literature, August 14
Back Porch Reads, August 14
Through the Fire Blogs, August 15
Mamma loves books, August 15
To celebrate her tour, Chautona is giving away the grand prize package of copy of the book and a $50 Amazon gift card!!
Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.