Sunday, August 17, 2014

Well Read, Then Dead by Terrie Farley Moran

book cover
Well Read, Then Dead
by Terrie Farley Moran


ISBN-13: 9780425270288
Mass Market Paperback:
304 pages
Publisher: Berkley Prime Crime
Released: August 5, 2014

Source: Review copy from the publisher.

Book Description, Modified from Back Cover:
Read ’Em and Eat is known for its delicious breakfast and lunch treats, along with quite a colorful clientele. If it’s not Rowena Gustavson loudly debating the merits of the current book club selection, it’s Miss Augusta Maddox lecturing tourists on rumors of sunken treasure among the islands. It’s no wonder Sassy’s favorite is Delia Batson, who is painfully shy—which makes the news of her murder all the more shocking.

No one is more distraught than Augusta, Delia's relative and best friend. Sassy wants to help any way she can...but Augusta wants her to find Delia’s killer!


My Review:
Well Read, Then Dead is a cozy mystery. The characters were interesting and varied. The heroine avoids conflict and is always trying to soothe over or divert any conflicts. Yet midway through the story, she decides that she needs to go confront a man who scares her, has threatened her, and that she's certain is a murderer...and she's going to do this by herself! Huh? She simply takes the guy's word for it that he's not a murderer. When she tells the police about his alibi, she finds out that the police already knew about it.

Skip ahead to nearly the end. It's a fairly straight forward mystery, and there have been enough clues that I know whodunit. The heroine is still trying to figure it out. She gets a note to met an anonymous person to get more information. She thinks about how she'd be yelling, "No! Don't go" if this was a horror movie, but she still doesn't think this is dangerous. She goes alone, only leaving a message about her whereabouts on the phone of someone who is currently having phone problems. Yeah. You know what happens. Only she doesn't know who tried to kill her. She only succeeds in discovering whodunit by yet again nearly getting killed. Good thing the police arrive in time to save the day!

And, of course, the boyfriend realizes she's making dangerous, foolish decisions in how she's investigating the murder and asks her to stop--and she gets in a huff about him trying to tell her what to do! These poor cozy mystery boyfriends--would the heroines really prefer a fellow who doesn't care if they get themselves killed? Sorry, this novel just hit too many of my pet peeves.

There was no sex. There was a very minor amount of bad language.


If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.


Excerpt: Read an excerpt using Google Preview.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

The Cat, the Vagabond, and the Victim by Leann Sweeney

book cover
The Cat, the Vagabond, and the Victim
by Leann Sweeney


ISBN-13: 9780451415424
Mass Market Paperback:
304 pages
Publisher: Obsidian Mystery
Released: August 5, 2014

Source: Review copy from the publisher.

Book Description, Modified from Back Cover:
When Clyde the cat travels two hundred miles back home only to find his former owner dead, the story makes national news. While everyone seems eager to tell Clyde’s incredible tale, someone needs to step up to care for him. Because the media attention is creating chaos at the local shelter, cat quilter Jillian Hart agrees to foster the loyal orange tabby, hoping his location is kept secret.

But while the media circus around Clyde continues, Jillian learns the real story behind his owner’s death—he was murdered. Why would an eldery man already dying from a serious illness become a murder victim? As the local police search for an answer, Clyde makes another escape. Jillian is drawn into the case when she finds Clyde has returned to his home again—and he’s found another body...


My Review:
The Cat, the Vagabond, and the Victim is a cozy mystery. It's the sixth in a series. You don't need to have read the previous novels to understand this one, and the previous whodunits aren't spoiled in this novel.

The mystery was a clue-based mystery, and I was able to get a good idea of whodunit and why from those clues. However, one aspect of whodunit was a surprise as the author very successfully managed to misdirect my attention. Well done! The cats were fun (and acted liked cats), and the characters were varied and interesting. The heroine was a nice person who was considerate of others and tried to help others. I liked her.

There was no sex. There was a very minor amount of bad language. Overall, I'd recommend this enjoyable mystery.


If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.


Excerpt: Read an excerpt using Google Preview.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Five Days in Skye by Carla Laureano

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Five Days in Skye
by Carla Laureano


ISBN-13: 9781434707017
ebook: 320 pages
Publisher: David C. Cook
Released: June 10, 2013

Source: A free ebook offer on Christianbook.com.

Book Description from Back Cover:
Hospitality consultant Andrea Sullivan has one last chance to snag a high-profile client or she'll have to kiss her dreams of promotion good-bye. When she's sent to meet Scottish celebrity chef James MacDonald on the Isle of Skye, she just wants to finish her work as efficiently as possible. Yet her client is not the opportunistic womanizer he portrays himself to be, and her attraction to him soon dredges up memories she'd rather leave buried.

For James, renovating the family hotel is a fulfillment of his late father's dreams. When his hired consultant turns out to be beautiful, intelligent, and completely unimpressed by his public persona, he makes it his mission to win her over. He just never expects to fall under her spell. Soon, both Andrea and James must face the reality that God may have a far different purpose for their lives-and that five days in Skye will forever change their outlook on life and love.


My Review:
Five Days in Skye is a Christian romance novel. The beautiful cover and an interest to "see" Skye tempted me into giving the book a chance. We do get a tour of the isle along with Andrea, but the characters and their struggles also pulled me deeply into the story. Both Andrea and James have made poor decisions in love in the past and have deep wounds from betrayal. They haven't really dealt with these wounds and don't intend to...until they meet each other. The story is more about healing broken relationships and past hurts than "romance," though they are physically attracted and enjoy kissing.

I liked that they both realized that physical attraction to one another is nice but not the same as love. So many romance novels promote the idea that if "sparks fly" when the characters kiss then it must be true love. I also liked that they realized they needed to deal with past hurts if this relationship had any chance rather than acting like a new relationship would somehow "patch over" the past so they wouldn't have to face it. Basically, the characters came across as real people.

The Christian element felt realistic and was part of the natural flow of the story. There was no sex or bad language. Overall, I'd highly recommend this refreshing story.


If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.


Excerpt: Read an excerpt using Google Preview.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Necessary Measures by Hannah Alexander

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Necessary Measures
by Hannah Alexander


ISBN-13: 9780764225291
Trade Paperback: 352 pages
Publisher: Bethany House Publishers
Released: October 1, 2002

Source: Bought through Half.com.

Book Description, Modified from Back Cover:
Illegal drugs are killing the kids of Dogwood Springs--a big city problem that Dr. Grant Sheldon thought he'd left behind when he moved to this small, peaceful town. Distracted by a lawsuit and problems with his mother, he's not able to be there to keep his twin children out of trouble or when Lauren needs him.

Lauren is drawn to Grant and his twins, but she is concerned that her feelings for them conflict with her recent commitment to remain single. A series of tragedies leaves her questioning her reasons for moving to Dogwood Springs. Drawn from real-life experiences, Hannah Alexander interweaves the lives, loves, and spiritual struggles of hospital personnel with the high drama of ER action.


My Review:
Necessary Measures is a Christian medical suspense novel. It's the second book in a series. You don't have to read the previous novel to understand this one, but I'd recommend doing so anyway as it's a good book and you'll enjoy this one even more if you do.

The characters were interesting and complex. The various characters dealt with real issues in realistic ways. There were quite a few viewpoint characters in this novel. All of them had major troubles at the same time, so it felt a little...overwhelming. If I hadn't gotten emotional connected with half of these characters in the previous book, I'm not sure I'd want to stick it out with all of them in this one. There was plenty of suspense--from relationships, a lawsuit, job stress, sleuthing danger, medical emergencies, etc.

The Christian characters' faith affected their decisions and everyday life, and the Christian elements felt like a natural part of the story. Christianity was portrayed in a realistic manner, from how Christians often act to how the non-Christians reacted.

There was no bad language or sex. Overall, I'd recommend this suspenseful novel.


If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.


Excerpt: Read an excerpt using Look Inside at Amazon.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

War of the Roses: Stormbird by Conn Iggulden

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Stormbird
by Conn Iggulden


ISBN-13: 978-0399165368
Hardcover: 496 pages
Publisher: Putnam Adult
Released: July 8, 2014

Source: Review copy from the publisher.

Book Description from Goodreads:
In 1437, the Lancaster king Henry VI ascends the throne of England after years of semi-peaceful regency. Henry is famed more for his gentle and pious nature than his father’s famous battlefield exploits; already, his dependence on his closest men has stirred whispers of weakness at court.

A secret truce negotiated with France to trade British territories for a royal bride—Margaret of Anjou—sparks revolts across English territory. The rival royal line, the House of York, sees the chaos brought on by Henry’s weakness and with it not only opportunity in the monarch, but also their patriotic duty in ousting an ineffectual king. As storm clouds gather over England, King Henry and his supporters find themselves besieged abroad and at home.


My Review:
Stormbird is a historical novel set in France and England from 1443 to 1454 AD. This book is the first in a historical series on the Wars of the Roses.

The time period and the characters were vividly described, immersing me in the story and making me feel like this was how it could have really happened. The characters were complex and realistic, and I always understood why they were acting the way they did. But I didn't like any of them enough to connect/bond/root for them.

The descriptions of life and war at that time were vivid, gritty, and sometimes crude. I'm not sure about how historically accurate this novel is since it's not a time I'm familiar with. I did question some aspects, especially how the marriage-by-proxy was so surprising to the participants.

There was some bad language--and not just "mild" bad words. There was a short sex scene, but it wasn't described in erotic language. There were a number of detailed, gory torture and killing scenes. The scene where an honorable man has his head sawed off while he's still alive just had too much detail for me.


If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.


Excerpt: Read an excerpt using Google Preview.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Crime Rib by Leslie Budewitz

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Crime Rib
by Leslie Budewitz


ISBN-13: 9780425259559
Mass Market Paperback:
304 pages
Publisher: Berkley Prime Crime
Released: July 1, 2014

Source: Review copy from the publisher.

Book Description, Modified from Back Cover:
Food Preneurs, a popular TV cooking show, has decided to feature Jewel Bay, Montana in an upcoming episode. But when the show's producer is killed in a hit-and-run accident, gourmet food market owner Erin Murphy has to step in to help organize the main feature--a steak-cooking competition between three of Jewel Bay’s hottest chefs.

Then one of the contending cooks is found dead. With all the drama going on behind the scenes, it’s hard to figure out who didn’t have a motive to off the contestant. To keep the town’s reputation from crashing and burning on national television, Erin will have to grill some suspects to smoke out the killer.


My Review:
Crime Rib is a cozy mystery. It's the second book in the series. You don't need to read the previous book to understand this one, and this book didn't spoil the previous whodunit.

The mystery was clue-based, and there were plenty of clues and several suspects. The reader isn't told the critical clue that narrows the suspect list down to whodunit until we get a cozy-plot based clue that pretty much does it instead. The heroine doesn't even realize the significance of this critical clue until after she's confronted by whodunit.

The heroine was generally a nice person, but I don't really like heroines who justify breaking and entering in order to gain clues. The other characters were interesting and varied. There were some nice details about locally-made foods.

There was a minor amount of bad language. There was no sex. Overall, I'd recommend this mystery novel.


If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.


Excerpt: Read an excerpt using Google Preview.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Grace Against the Clock by Julie Hyzy

book cover
Grace Against the Clock
by Julie Hyzy


ISBN-13: 9780425259672
Mass Market Paperback:
304 pages
Publisher: Berkley Prime Crime
Released: July 1, 2014

Source: Review copy from the publisher.

Book Description, Modified from Back Cover:
The town clock is in desperate need of repair, and a benefit to raise money to restore the beautiful timepiece is being held at Marshfield Manor. Grace Wheaton, the mansion’s curator and manager, is on hand to help the event run smoothly.

When one of the organizers collapses on stage during the festivities, Grace suspects something was going on behind the scenes. The victim never left the room, yet the murder must have happened while he was at a crowded party with no enemy in sight. Grace must track down the secrets of the past before the murderer strikes again.


My Review:
Grace Against the Clock is a cozy mystery. It's the fifth book in the series. You don't need to read the previous novels to understand this one, and this one didn't spoil the whodunits in the previous books.

This mystery had less involvement at the Manor and more time on the renovations on Grace's historic house. I enjoyed the characters and how Grace is growing as a person. The mystery was clue-based, but there weren't enough clues to firmly say it was one person and not another until Grace discovers the final clue. There was enough information to put whodunit on a suspect list, though. The story thrived on discovering how the murder was accomplished as much as on trying to discover whodunit.

There was no sex and no bad language. Overall, I'd recommend this interesting, well-written novel.


If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.


Excerpt: Read an excerpt using Google Preview.