Friday, April 29, 2016

Land of Silence by Tessa Afshar

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Land of Silence
by Tessa Afshar


ISBN-13: 9781496414007
Trade Paperback: 394 pages
Publisher: Tyndale House Publishers
Released: May 1, 2016

Source: Review copy from the publisher.

Book Description, Modified from Back Cover:
Elianna is a young girl crushed by guilt. After her only brother dies while in her care, Elianna tries to earn forgiveness by working for her father’s textile trade and caring for her family. When another tragedy places Elianna in sole charge of the business, her talent for design brings enormous success, but never the absolution she longs for. As her world unravels, she breaks off her betrothal to the only man she will ever love. Then illness strikes, isolating Elianna from everyone, stripping everything she has left.

No physician can cure her. No end is in sight. Until she hears whispers of a man whose mere touch can heal. After so many years of suffering and disappointment, is it possible that one man could redeem the wounds of body . . . and soul?


My Review:
Land of Silence is biblical fiction about the woman of Mark 5 who was "subject to bleeding for twelve years." The author stuck with the facts found in the Bible and then came up with a backstory to explain why Jesus decided to confront her and specifically chose to call her daughter.

I was pleased that the story was historically accurate since it takes an effort to get these details as close to correct as possible. These historical and cultural aspects were woven into the story and helped drive the narrative.

The characters were fully fleshed out and acted like real people. I always understood why Elianna acted as she did in the circumstances, though I could also see the trouble it might bring later. People suffered due to their own poor choices and the bad choices of others. It's a heartbreaking story that brought me to tears several times. But they learn to seek God even in suffering, and, at the very end, Jesus brings healing.

There was no sex or bad language. Overall, I'd highly recommend this story, especially to those who feel hurt by their fathers.


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, April 24, 2016

Needle and Dread by Elizabeth Lynn Casey

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Needle and Dread
by Elizabeth Lynn Casey


ISBN-13: 9780425282564
Mass Market Paperback:
304 pages
Publisher: Berkley Prime Crime
Released: April 5, 2016

Source: Review copy from the publisher.

Book Description, Modified from Back Cover:
Downtown Sweet Briar is now home to a new sewing shop run by one of the The Sweet Briar Ladies Society Sewing Circle's own members. With the help and support of her fellow members, Rose is determined to make SewTastic a success, and, to that end, she decides to sponsor a series of do-it-yourself weekends for sewing enthusiasts.

But when a group arrives at SewTastic to work on a project, a loud and argumentative guest pushes everyone’s buttons. And when she winds up dead in Rose’s project room—strangled by a sewing machine power cord—it’s up to Tori and the gang to stitch together the clues before Rose’s reason for living is ripped apart at the seams.


My Review:
Needle and Dread is a cozy mystery. This book is the eleventh in a series, but it didn't spoil the previous mysteries. A lot of characters were introduced quickly, though, so it helps if you've read a previous novel.

The only thing the police did was prevent suspects from leaving town until Tori solved the case. That's a pity as it would have been a fairly simple case for them to solve. It's only because Tori picked the most difficult angle to solve the case (who hates the nasty woman? everyone!) that it took her so long.

The significant clues were easy for me to pick out. I never changed my whodunit guess, though the two people reading this book with me weren't certain until closer to the end. I liked the characters and enjoyed the humor, though, so I enjoyed the story.

There were no sex scenes. 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.

Friday, April 22, 2016

What Happened on Beale Street by Mary Ellis

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What Happened on Beale Street
by Mary Ellis


ISBN-13: 9780736961714
Paperback: 352 pages
Publisher: Harvest House Publishers
Released: April 1, 2016

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from Goodreads:
A cryptic plea for help from a childhood friend sends cousins Nate and Nicki Price from New Orleans to Memphis, the home of scrumptious barbecue and soulful blues music. When they arrive at Danny Andre's last known address, they discover signs of a struggle and a lifestyle not in keeping with the former choirboy they fondly remember.

Danny's sister, Isabelle, asks for Nicki's help. She reluctantly accepts Nate's help due to a complicated past with men, including a one-time date who has started stalking her. Nate has to rein in his favorite cousin's overzealousness as a new PI. Confronted with a possible murder, the stalker, and some missing jewels from decades ago, Nate must rely on his faith and investigative experience to keep one or more of them from getting killed.


My Review:
What Happened on Beale Street is a romantic suspense novel and the second book in a series. I'd recommend reading the books in order since this novel spoils the whodunit and some events of the previous one.

The characters acted like realistic people and were varied in their personalities and backgrounds. The mysteries were solved by the PIs steadily following up clues until they found the answers. The suspense came mainly from Isabelle's creepy stalker, but Nate also entered some dangerous areas during his investigation. Nate was skilled as an investigator but didn't have much romantic experience, which made dating jumpy Isabelle a bit challenging.

Nicki was great at research, but she pushed everyone too hard when asking questions in the murder investigation and otherwise irritated people. Because she alienated potential information sources, she ended up mostly doing research for Nate's cases. She entertained herself by researching some jewels hidden at the hotel but never found. She kept it exciting by being somewhat sneaky about trying to find them rather than simply asking permission from the hotel's owner.

The Christian element was mainly shown in how the main characters treated other people. There was no sex or bad language. Overall, I'd recommend this 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.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Killer Takeout by Lucy Burdette

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Killer Takeout
by Lucy Burdette


ISBN-13: 9780451474834
Mass Market Paperback:
304 pages
Publisher: Obsidian Mystery
Released: April 5, 2016

Source: Review copy from the publisher.

Book Description, Modified from Back Cover:
Every year, Key West’s weeklong Mardi Gras–style festival has tourists and locals alike lining up for costumed revelry and delicious eats. Key Zest magazine has assigned food critic Hayley Snow to write a piece on the fest’s grab-and-go food, so she’s planning on hitting up the mobile eateries while checking out the party preparations.

Hayley’s office mate, Danielle, recently elected Queen of Fantasy Fest, is also buzzing between festivities and fundraisers. But when a former royal rival gets taken out, Hayley needs to put down her party hat and her pen and figure out who served up a side of murder—before Danielle gets crowned a killer.


My Review:
Killer Takeout is a cozy mystery. It's the seventh book in a series. You don't need to read the previous novels to understand this one, and this book didn't spoil the previous mysteries.

Frankly, the book was mostly about Fantasy Fest and the incoming hurricane. Hayley did ask a lot of case-related questions, but they weren't very good questions and so she got nowhere. About halfway through, I realized it wasn't going to be a very hard mystery (thus the bad questions) and was able to quickly pin down whodunit and why from the few clues.

For all that, I enjoyed the book until it hit on my pet peeves. Hayley and a friend did The Stupidest Thing A Cozy Mystery Heroine Has Ever Done in the last few pages. And despite this, despite yelling at her boss for expecting her to do actual work, and despite mentally criticizing everything about her boyfriend and dismissing his every wish about their future, she comes off with everyone admiring her. So, yeah, fantasy.

There was no sex. There was a 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.

Friday, April 15, 2016

Calamity in Kent by John Rowland

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Calamity in Kent
by John Rowland


ISBN-13: 9781464205774
Paperback: 276 pages
Publisher: Poisoned Pen Press
Released: 1950; April 5, 2016

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from NetGalley:
In the peaceful seaside town of Broadgate, a sensational murder occurs. The operator of the cliff lift locks the empty carriage one evening; when he returns to work next morning, a dead body is locked inside – a man who has been stabbed in the back.

Jimmy London, a newspaper reporter, is first on the scene. He is quick on the trail for clues – and agrees to pool his knowledge with Inspector Shelley of Scotland Yard. This case could reignite Jimmy’s newspaper career, but it also exposes him to great danger.


My Review:
Calamity in Kent is a mystery novel that was originally published in 1950. Jimmy, the viewpoint character, is a newspaper reporter who is investigating the crime so he can write headline stories about it. He promises to share what he finds with Inspector Shelley and he keeps his word, but he didn't hesitant to push the limits of the law in pursuit of his story.

Much of the investigation was into the victim's illegal activities rather than solving whodunit and how. There were few viable suspects. Whodunit did seem highly likely to me, but the story could have easily gone in a completely different direction. There's a bit of suspense at the end. While Jimmy played a vital role, Inspector Shelley was the one to solve the crime and explain it to Jimmy (and the reader).

There was no sex or bad language (though there is one word that Americans use in a vulgar way but it wasn't meant that way). Overall, I'd recommend this book to those who enjoy "just along for the ride" mysteries.


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, April 10, 2016

Burning Proof by Janice Cantore

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Burning Proof
by Janice Cantore


ISBN-13: 9781414396699
Paperback: 400 pages
Publisher: Tyndale House Publishers
Released: March 1, 2016

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from Goodreads:
After months of investigating the brutal homicide of a young girl, Detective Abby Hart finally has the evidence she needs. But when the arrest goes terribly wrong, Abby begins to doubt her future as a police officer. As she wrestles with conflicting emotions, old questions about the fire that took her parents’ lives come back to haunt her.

PI Luke Murphy can’t stop thinking about what Abby’s former partner, Asa Foster, mumbled just before he died. “There is proof.” When he uncovers a clue to the murder of Abby’s parents and his uncle, he’s reluctant to tell Abby, despite his growing feelings for the beautiful detective.

A decade-old abduction case brings Luke and Abby together, but will his secret tear them apart?


My Review:
Burning Proof is a Christian detective novel. It's the second book in a series, and it continues the story of the previous book. I'd recommend reading these books in order (starting with Drawing Fire). The story contained an ongoing case and a new case. These cases were the focus of the second half of the book. There were suspenseful moments as the bad guys plotted to kill our main characters.

Much of the first half of the book was about Abby dealing with a fresh trauma on top of everything else. She questions if she's really called to be a detective and why God allows bad guys to go unpunished for so long while allowing innocent people to get hurt. Once she finds her answers, she's able to help a victim in the new case who's going through a similar crisis of faith. This Christian element was worked into the natural flow of the story and wasn't "preachy."

There was no sex. The author used "he cursed" to indicate bad language. Overall, I'd recommend this thoughtful, interesting series.


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, April 8, 2016

Death in the Tunnel by Miles Burton

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Death in the Tunnel
by Miles Burton


ISBN-13: 9781464205811
Paperback: 232 pages
Publisher: Poisoned Pen Press
Released: 1936; April 5, 2016

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from Goodreads:
Sir Wilfred Saxonby is traveling alone on a train in a locked compartment. The train slows inside a tunnel. By the time it emerges, minutes later, Sir Wilfred has been shot dead. Suicide seems to be the answer, even though no reason can be found.

Inspector Arnold of Scotland Yard thinks again when he learns that a mysterious red light in the tunnel caused the train to slow down. Finding himself stumped by the puzzle, Arnold consults his friend Desmond Merrion, a wealthy amateur expert in criminology. To Merrion it seems that the dead man fell victim to a complex conspiracy but the investigators are puzzled about the conspirator's identities as well as their motives.


My Review:
Death in the Tunnel is a mystery novel that was originally published in 1936. It's a complex, clue-based puzzle mystery. The Inspector was quite willing to go with the "obvious suspect," but things didn't quite add up so he consulted with his imaginative, amateur sleuth friend. This friend actually used quite a lot of logic to form suggestions of what to look into further. The focus of the story was on the details of the crime rather than on developing the characters or setting.

For all its complexity, I was quite certain of whodunit and had an overall idea of howdunit by about 40% of the way through. The author did a good job of drawing attention away from important points, though, and the main characters weren't stupid. It's simply that it took some time for them to work through the conflicting clues. The story kept my attention as I was curious to see the motive (which later became clear), the exact details of how it was done, and even how the main characters figured it out.

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