Tuesday, June 28, 2016

A Front Page Affair by Radha Vatsal

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A Front Page Affair
by Radha Vatsal


ISBN-13: 9781492632665
Trade Paperback: 336 pages
Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark
Released: May 3, 2016

Source: Review copy from the publisher.

Book Description, Modified from Goodreads:
New York City, 1915. The Lusitania has just been sunk, and headlines about a shooting at J.P. Morgan's mansion and the Great War are splashed across the front page of every newspaper. Capability "Kitty" Weeks would love nothing more than to report on the news of the day, but she's stuck writing about fashion and society gossip over on the Ladies' Page―until a man is murdered at a high society picnic on her beat.

Determined to prove her worth as a journalist, Kitty finds herself plunged into the midst of a wartime conspiracy that threatens to derail the United States' attempt to remain neutral―and to disrupt the privileged life she has always known.


My Review:
A Front Page Affair is a mystery set in July 1915 in New York city. Kitty is the daughter of a self-made, wealthy man. Though trained in the manners of high society, she doesn't quite belong. She's interested in world events and journalism. She wants a chance to prove she can do a good job as a journalist. I liked how she pushed the borders of what was acceptable in polite society in order to investigate but didn't quite feel comfortable with it. She's still finding her way and learning how the world really works.

The author obviously enjoys this historical period, and historical trivia was sprinkled throughout the story and created a vivid setting. World events were woven into the story as the motive behind many of the characters' actions.

I liked that the police had a decent case against their suspect even if Kitty felt there was more going on than they were taking into account. The story was a clue-based puzzle mystery with some suspense. I guessed whodunit about halfway through, but I didn't figure out everything that was going on until near the end, when Kitty did.

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

Friday, June 24, 2016

In Good Company by Jen Turano

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In Good Company
by Jen Turano


ISBN-13: 97807642127655
Trade Paperback: 347 pages
Publisher: Bethany House Publishers
Released: July 7, 2015

Source: Checked out from my local library.

Book Description from Goodreads:
After growing up as an orphan, Millie Longfellow is determined to become the best nanny the East Coast has ever seen. Unfortunately, her playfulness and enthusiasm aren't always well received and she finds herself dismissed from yet another position.

Everett Mulberry has quite unexpectedly become guardian to three children that scare off every nanny he hires. About to depart for Newport, Rhode Island, for the summer, he’s desperate for competent childcare.

At wit’s end with both Millie and Everett, the employment agency gives them one last chance–with each other. As Millie falls in love with her mischievous charges, Everett focuses on achieving the coveted societal status of the upper echelons. But as he investigates the suspicious circumstances surrounding the death of the children’s parents, will it take the loss of those he loves to learn whose company he truly wants for the rest of his life?


My Review:
In Good Company is a romantic comedy set in 1882 and takes place mainly in Newport. It's the second in a series, but this book can be read as a stand alone since each book has different main characters.

The characters were nice people with interesting personalities. Millie has a unique way of nannying children which doesn't match what their rich parents expect from her. The hero, heroine, and children end up in a series of silly situations during which they get to know and care about each other. There's also a mystery involving the children's parents, which the main characters look into near the end.

Several of the characters were Christians, and this was shown in how they treated people. There was no sex or bad language. Overall, I'd recommend this humorous 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.


Friday, June 17, 2016

A Golden Cage by Shelley Freydont

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A Golden Cage
by Shelley Freydont


ISBN-13: 9780425275856
Trade Paperback: 368 pages
Publisher: Berkley Prime Crime
Released: June 7, 2016

Source: Review copy from the publisher.

Book Description, Modified from Back Cover:
With her mother in Europe, Deanna is staying with the Ballard family, who agree to chaperone her through the summer season and guide her toward an advantageous marriage proposal—or so her mother hopes. Relishing her new freedom in this very liberal household, Deanna is more interested in joining a ladies’ bicycling club and befriending an actress named Amabelle Deeks.

Then they find a young actor bludgeoned to death on the conservatory floor at Bonheur, the Ballards’ sumptuous “cottage.” Deanna recognizes him as an actor who performed at the birthday fete for a prominent, moralistic judge the night before. But why was he at Bonheur? And where is Amabelle?

Concerned her new friend may be in danger—or worse—Deanna enlists the help of her intrepid maid, Elspeth, to find Amabelle before the villain of this drama demands an encore.


My Review:
A Golden Cage is a romance and mystery set in 1895 in Newport. It's the second book in the series, but this story didn't spoil the previous whodunits. You don't need to read the previous novels to follow this one, but you might understand the character's relationships better if you read them in order.

In the first book in the series, I loved how the four friends from different stations in life worked together to discover whodunit. But in this book, Will (the police) is ineffectual and hardly plays a role. Elspeth and Joe discover a few clues, but their main role was to keep Deanna from getting caught when breaking into homes and to prevent her from getting hurt while investigating.

I thought Deanna might get wiser about what situations are dangerous, but we're told that her mother was never able to teach her this so I doubt it'll happen anytime soon. When Joe pointed out that Deanna could have been in danger, Gran Gwen just laughed and said that Deanna can take care of herself. Um, since when? She has no knowledge of how to protect herself!

Much of the story was romantic comedy type stuff involving Joe not realizing that he loves Deanna. We also get quite a lot of ultra-liberal feminist rants by Gran Gwen and Laurette, usually against "moralists." When it was clear that the mystery was going nowhere (which means it's pretty simple) and that they'd solve it a lot sooner if everyone would just talk to each other, it seemed pretty clear who the murderer was. And, yes, I guessed right. But there was no justice.

Basically, this story didn't really hold my interest. "Immoral behavior" by secondary characters was implied, but there were no sex scenes. There was occasional use 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.

Friday, June 10, 2016

The Secret of High Eldersham by Miles Burton

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The Secret of High Eldersham
by Miles Burton


ISBN-13: 9781464205835
Paperback: 256 pages
Publisher: Poisoned Pen Press
Released: 1930; June 7, 2016

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from NetGalley:
‘They’re terrible mistrustful of strangers in these parts.’ Samuel Whitehead, landlord of the Rose and Crown, is a stranger in the lonely East Anglian village of High Eldersham. When the newcomer is stabbed to death in his pub, and Scotland Yard are called to the scene, it seems that the veil dividing High Eldersham from the outside world is about to be lifted.

Detective-Inspector Young forms a theory about the case so utterly impossible that merely entertaining the suspicion makes him doubt his own sanity. Surrounded by sinister forces beyond his understanding, and feeling the need of rational assistance, he calls on a brilliant amateur and ‘living encyclopedia’, Desmond Merrion. Soon Merrion falls for the charms of a young woman in the village, Mavis Owerton. But does Mavis know more about the secrets of the village than she is willing to admit?


My Review:
The Secret of High Eldersham is a mystery/suspense novel that was originally published in 1930 and is set in England. Inspector Young can't make headway on the murder since no one in the village will cooperate. He calls a friend, Desmond Merrion, in to apply some of his encyclopedic knowledge to the situation. Merrion believes that someone has revived the customs of old witchcraft and that discovering who is the head of the coven will lead to discovering the murderer. Inspector Young leaves him to it and follows another lead which may uncover more secrets at High Eldersham. I enjoyed the main characters.

While there were some clues, the story was less about asking questions and more about Merrion and his butler, Newport, sneaking around risking harm to uncover more clues. The characters acted on the clues as soon as they fell into place, at which point the story turned into an action-packed chase. I had a good idea of what was going on by about halfway through. I wasn't surprised by whodunit, but I think the intent was to create suspense more than to hide whodunit.

There was no sex. There was occasional use of bad language. Overall, I'd recommend this enjoyable suspense 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.


Sunday, June 5, 2016

A Haven on Orchard Lane by Lawana Blackwell

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A Haven on Orchard Lane
by Lawana Blackwell


ISBN-13: 9780764217937
Trade Paperback: 416 pages
Publisher: Bethany House Publishers
Released: June 7, 2016

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from Goodreads:
Charlotte Ward, once a famed stage actress, tries to restart her career as a way to escape her husband--only to experience disaster. Rosalind, her estranged daughter from a previous marriage, comes to her mother's rescue and moves her to a quiet English coastal village.

Charlotte is grateful to get to know Rosalind after years apart, and it's a joy to see love blossom for her daughter. Rosalind has mixed feelings about helping the mother who wasn't there for her. And what could be more complicated than romance? Mother and daughter find healing as they reach out to help others.


My Review:
A Haven on Orchard Lane is a Christian romance set in 1880 in England. The setting was a cultural backdrop rather than a detailed part of the story.

Rosalind mostly wanted to know why her mother left her with an aunt to raise her, so the healing between mother and daughter happened fairly quickly. Charlotte was unwise in choosing husbands in the past, and her current husband wants to destroy her reputation so he can divorce her and marry a rich woman. While she's hiding from him, she provides wise advice about romance to various young people, including her own daughter. She also reaches out to help two young boys from a troubled home.

The characters were complex, varied, and acted realistically. I cared about what happened to them. The romances developed over time, and I appreciated Charlotte's wisdom about looking at a man's character rather than his charm and good looks and not marrying out of fear that no one else will offer.

The Christian element was the forgiveness and care for others shown by the main characters plus some brief prayers and church attendance. And God does, indeed, work things together for good. There was no sex or bad language. Overall, I'd recommend this novel to historical romance fans.


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.

Friday, June 3, 2016

Indian Boyhood by Charles Eastman

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Indian Boyhood
by Charles Eastman


ISBN-13: 978-1-937786-56-45
Hardback: 40 pages
Publisher: Wisdom Tales
Released: 1902; June 7, 2016

Source: Review copy from the publisher.

Book Description, Modified from Publisher website:
Imagine a childhood where riding horses, playing in the woods, and hunting for food was part of everyday life; where a grizzly bear, a raccoon, or a squirrel was your favorite pet. But imagine, too, being an orphan at the age of six, being forced off your land by U.S. soldiers, and often going hungry. Such was the childhood of the first great American Indian author, Charles Eastman, or Ohiyesa (1858-1939).

Carefully edited for a younger audience by multiple award-winning author and editor, Michael Oren Fitzgerald, Indian Boyhood recalls Eastman’s earliest childhood memories. He was born in a buffalo hide tipi in western Minnesota, and raised in the traditional Dakota Sioux manner until he was fifteen years old. He was then transplanted into the “white man’s” world. Educated at Dartmouth College, he went on to become a medical doctor, renowned author, field secretary for the YMCA, and a spokesman for American Indians.


My Review:
Indian Boyhood is a picture book for ages 4 and up which is based on Charles Eastman's autobiography about his Dakota Sioux upbringing. Charles Eastman, or Ohiyesa, lived from (1858-1939) and wrote eleven books from 1902-1918. This is an edited version of his book about his childhood. It tells how he was raised by a grandmother due to losing his parents and how they were forced off their land, but also about his wild-animal pets, hunting, and learning to be a warrior.

The illustrations complement the text by showing details of Indian life that aren't specifically mentioned in his narrative. Information about these extra details is included at the end of the book. The illustrations are done in the same style as that shown on the cover. I'd recommend this book to children interested in what a Dakota Indian childhood was like in 1858-1873.


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: See more on the publisher's website.
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Sunday, May 29, 2016

A Useful Woman by Darcie Wilde

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A Useful Woman
by Darcie Wilde


ISBN-13: 9780425282373
Trade Paperback: 368 pages
Publisher: Berkley Prime Crime
Released: May 3, 2016

Source: Review copy from the publisher.

Book Description, Modified from Back Cover:
The daughter of a baronet and minor heiress, Rosalind Thorne was nearly ruined when her father abandoned the family. To survive, she began serving as a social secretary to London society’s most influential women. She organizes balls or advises on how to overcome social difficulties, and society women have come to rely on her wit and discretion.

When artistocratic wastrel Jasper Aimesworth is found dead in London’s most exclusive ballroom, Almack’s, Rosalind is hired to smooth over the affair so Almack’s reputation is maintained. But Jasper's sister hires Rosalind to discover who killed her brother, and an attractive Bow Street runner also asks for her help.

Rosalind must use her skills and connections to uncover the killer from a list of suspects that includes Almack’s powerful patronesses and her former suitor Devon Winterbourne, now Lord Casselmaine.


My Review:
A Useful Woman is a mystery set in 1817 in London, England. After her father is financially ruined and flees the country, Rosalind acts as a social secretary for London's society women. She's still treated as genteel because she's a useful woman to have around, but she works for pay and has lower-class contacts. Her unique position makes it possible for her to uncover things that others would never even hear about.

There was a clue-based, puzzle mystery, yet the story was more about complex social maneuvering. Rosalind was clever enough, but her conflicting loyalties involving helping friends, saving Almack’s, and finding the killer made solving the case more difficult for her. The characters were interesting and complex, and there was also a romantic thread. She's still attracted to her old suitor, but she's also attracted to the intriguing Runner who appreciates her skill.

The historical details were woven into the story as part of the case, and I found interesting the details of how Almack’s worked. Those details were consistent with what I already knew so I assume it's accurate. However, I believe the author portrayed the Bow Street Runners as more like the later police force. I can see why she'd want the Runner to act more like a detective, though, and it's a minor point.

There was no sex. There was a very minor amount of bad language. Overall, I'd recommend this novel to fans of the Regency period.


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.