Friday, January 20, 2017

Betrayal at Cleeve Abbey by Anita Davison

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Betrayal at Cleeve Abbey
by Anita Davison


ISBN-13: 9781786690821
Paperback: 294 pages
Publisher: Aria
Released: Dec. 1, 2016

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from Goodreads:
Flora Maguire is now happily married to Bunny Harrington and living in Richmond when she receives an alarming telegram informing her of her father's tragic death in a suspicious riding accident at Cleeve Abbey.

Heartbroken, she and Bunny return to her former home, where she was Governess to Eddy, Viscount Trent, and her father was Butler to Earl Trent.

Flora’s intention was to bury him next to Lily, her mother, who passed away when Flora was a small child. But mystery surrounds the final resting place of Lily, and no-one is willing to talk. Flora must uncover hidden family secrets as she also solves her father's murder.


My Review:
Betrayal at Cleeve Abbey is a mystery set in 1902 in England. It's the second book in a series, but you don't need to read the previous books to understand this one. However, the characters referred to some events in the previous novel including (I think) spoiling whodunit.

The characters were interesting. I liked how Flora's husband was very supportive of her and that Flora was able to handle herself creditably in a dangerous situation. The many historical details (like news, technology, dress, etc.) were woven into the story without slowing the pacing.

The story involved several mysteries--past and present--that might or might not be connected. Some mysteries were a matter of finding the person who knew what had happened and was willing to talk about it, which wasn't exactly easy. For the murder mystery, Flora asked questions and uncovered clues until she had a good picture of what had happened. I was not surprised by whodunit, but I hadn't guessed whydunit until the confession scene.

There were no graphic sex scenes. There was no bad language. Overall, I'd recommend this enjoyable historical 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.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

An Uncommon Courtship by Kristi Ann Hunter

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An Uncommon Courtship
by Kristi Ann Hunter


ISBN-13: 9780764218262
Paperback: 352 pages
Publisher: Bethany House
Released: Jan. 3, 2017

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from NetGalley:
The last thing Lady Adelaide Bell expected was a marriage of convenience to save her previously spotless reputation. What's worse is that her socially ambitious mother could have saved Adelaide's reputation and now clearly hopes to use her to gain social position for her favorite daughter, Adelaide's sister.

Lord Trent Hawthorne had grand plans of wooing and falling in love with the woman of his choice. When he finds himself honor bound to marry a woman he doesn't know, his dream of a marriage like his parents' seems lost forever. Already starting their marriage on shaky ground, can Adelaide and Trent's relationship survive the pressures of London society?


My Review:
An Uncommon Courtship is a Christian historical novel set in 1814 in England. It's the third book in the series. You don't need to read the previous novels to understand this one, but you'll probably enjoy it more if you know the history behind the "for love" marriages of the other characters.

Frankly, I felt like the story started in the wrong spot. I would have loved seeing Trent and Adelaide interacting when trapped in the ruins, but that's skipped over. The first chapters were mostly each character thinking about what had happened, their dashed hopes, and their worries. I tend to be bored by beginning chapters that are mostly a character thinking rather than interacting. Once the main characters started interacting, I found the story more engaging.

Trent wanted love in his marriage, but what is love? Knowing a person's favorite color or being able to finish their sentences? He consulted with his family and married friends (from previous stories) to learn the answer, and they directed him to the Bible for answers about love and marriage. Whereas the advice of Adelaide's mother seemed more likely to ruin the marriage.

Because Trent and Adelaide are married, they do have sex (though no sex scenes) and have some vague discussions about sex with others (as no one had prepared them for their wedding night). There was no bad language. Overall, I'd recommend this book to fans of the Hawthorne House series. If you haven't read any of them, though, I'd recommend starting with an earlier 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, January 8, 2017

Mystery in the Channel by Freeman Wills Crofts

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Mystery in the Channel
by Freeman Wills Crofts


ISBN-13: 9781464206719
Paperback: 278 pages
Publisher: Poisoned Pen Press
Released: Jan. 3, 2017

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from NetGalley:
The Chichester is making a routine journey across the English Channel on a pleasant afternoon in June, when the steamer’s crew notice something strange. A yacht, bobbing about in the water ahead of them, appears to have been abandoned, and there is a dark red stain on the deck… Two bodies later, with no sign of a gun, there certainly is a mystery in the channel.

Inspector French soon discovers a world of high-powered banking, luxury yachts and international double-dealing. British and French coastal towns, harbours – and of course the Channel itself – provide an alluring backdrop to this nautical adventure, along with a cast of shady characters.


My Review:
Mystery in the Channel is a mystery novel that was originally published in 1931 and is set in England. We followed Inspector French as he carefully tracked down every lead in the case. He's clever, so he can see the potential of a clue as fast as the reader might. It's not really a mystery were you guess whodunit (though it's possible) but rather an enjoyable ride along as the mystery unfolds. It was an interesting case and I liked the main character, so it was an enjoyable read.

There was no sex. There was a 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.


Friday, December 30, 2016

Better Off Thread by Amanda Lee

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Better Off Thread
by Amanda Lee


ISBN-13: 9780451473851
Mass Market Paperback:
304 pages
Publisher: Berkley Prime Crime
Released: Dec. 6, 2016

Source: Review copy from the publisher.

Book Description, Modified from Back Cover:
Marcy is busy helping her customers make hand-crafted ornaments at her embroidery shop, the Seven-Year Stitch. But when her friend Captain Moe asks her to play the elf to his Santa for sick children at a local hospital, she can’t refuse. Despite the ridiculous outfit, Marcy finds herself enjoying spreading cheer—until the hospital’s administrator is found murdered.

Although the deceased had plenty of people willing to fill her stocking with coal, evidence pins the crime on Moe. Now it’s up to Marcy, with the help of her police officer boyfriend Ted and her Irish Wolfhound Angus, to stitch together the clues to clear Moe’s name.


My Review:
Better Off Thread is a cozy mystery. It's the tenth in a series. You don't need to read the previous books to understand this one, and this story didn't spoil previous whodunits.

I liked the heroine and her friends. The mystery was clue-based. I was pretty certain of whodunit by about halfway through. Marcy was focused more on finding people with motive (and there were plenty) than in thinking through who could have actually done it. But she did figure out whodunit before the suspenseful ending and even saved some people's lives.

There was no sex or 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, December 25, 2016

Firewall by DiAnn Mills

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Firewall
by DiAnn Mills


ISBN-13: 9781414389936
Trade Paperback: 391 pages
Publisher: Tyndale House Publishers
Released: June 20, 2014

Source: Bought through Half.com.

Book Description, Modified from Back Cover:
After a whirlwind romance, Taryn Young is preparing to board a plane at Houston International Airport, bound for a dream honeymoon, when a bomb decimates the terminal. Injured but still alive, she awakens to discover her husband is missing and they're both considered prime suspects in the attack. Further, the FBI is convinced her husband isn't who he appears to be.

Agent Grayson Hall's number-one priority is to catch those responsible for the day's act of terror. All evidence is pointing to Taryn and her new husband. But his instinct tells him her pleas of innocence are genuine. Is her naivete just for show, or could she truly be another victim of a master scheme, possibly linked to the software she recently developed for her company? With both their lives and reputations on the line, and the media outcry for justice increasing with each passing minute, Taryn and Grayson pray they can uncover the truth before they become two more casualties.


My Review:
Firewall is a Christian romantic suspense novel. The characters were interesting and some were developed into complex-motive characters. I found it believable that Taryn was initially fooled even though she's a smart woman, but it did take her longer than I expected to believe the truth. The suspense was from physical danger to several characters; this was a very deadly story to be a character in. There was very little down-time as events raced along. The romance was based on two people coming to trust and care for each other (rather than many repetitions of "(s)he's sooo hot!")

The Christian element was mainly some short prayers asking God to help them with the situation and the realization that God is there with them through the confusion. There were no sex scenes. There was no bad language. Overall, I'd recommend this interesting, 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 Google Preview.

Friday, December 23, 2016

Where Does Love Hide? by Mary Manz Simon

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Where Does Love Hide?
by Mary Manz Simon
Illustrated by
Hannah Wood


ISBN-13: 9781496411686
Board Book: 18 pages
Publisher: Tyndale House
Released: Jan. 1, 2017

Source: Review copy from the publisher.

Book Description, Modified from Goodreads:
In Where Does Love Hide? children are reminded that they not only receive love but have the opportunity to share love. Looking under the fun, lift-a-flap feature, children will see examples of everyday love opportunities. Each page includes a memory verse and an example of a way to share God's love. Because love is an abstract concept and young children are concrete thinkers, they must gradually learn to understand love by what they experience.


My Review:
Where Does Love Hide? has 6 double-spread pages that each demonstrate a way for children to show love. Each page has "Where does love hide?" on one side and a flap for children to open on the other. Behind the flap is a picture that completes the scene. On the flap is text describing how to show love and a Bible verse relating to that action. (For example, "A friend is always a friend." Proverbs 17:17) The problem is that you'll lose much of the text if the flap (which is thin cardboard) gets ripped off.

So what are the ways to show love? Inviting a friend over to your house to play, helping Mom to put the groceries away, taking turns when playing with a toy at the park, sharing your cookies with others, helping a wheelchair-bound grandpa in the yard, and saying (or hearing) "I love you" at bedtime. The illustrations are stylized and simple (like the cover picture). They illustrate the text but don't go much beyond that.

Compared to the inviting and charming Lots of Love, this felt like a "because it's good for you" teaching tale. Probably because it's intended to be a teaching book. The flaps are a fun idea, but I really doubt they'll last and it's unfortunate that much of the text is on the flap.


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, December 18, 2016

For the Record by Regina Jennings

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For the Record
by Regina Jennings


ISBN-13: 9780764211423
Paperback: 336 pages
Publisher: Bethany House Publishers
Released: Dec. 6, 2016

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from NetGalley:
Betsy Huckabee knows that writing for her uncle's small-town newspaper will never lead to independence, and the bigger newspapers don't seem interested in the Hart County news. Trying a new approach, Betsy pens a romanticized serial for the ladies' pages, and the new deputy provides the perfect inspiration for her submissions. She'd be horrified if he read her breathless descriptions of him, but these articles are for a newspaper far away.

Deputy Joel Puckett didn't want to leave Texas, but this job in tiny Pine Gap is his only shot at keeping his badge. A young woman who tried to trap him into marriage ruined his reputation in the process. Now his skills and patience is test by dealing with vigilantes feeling that they are the real law. Not to mention Betsy's popping up to trail him, day and night.


My Review:
For the Record is a Christian historical romance set in 1885 in the Ozark Mountains. It's the third book in the series, but you don't need to read the previous novels to understand this one. I was in the mood for humor, and another reviewer said this story was funny. While some scenes were silly (like the hero mounted on a small, feisty pony), I didn't find the overall storyline funny.

The sheriff in Pine Gap is ineffectual, so some local men have taken to running dangerous men out of the area to make it safe. Several people explained the situation to Joel, and he's told that the vigilante activities will stop if he'll find and arrest the dangerous men. Yet Joel focused on arresting these vigilantes, and people got hurt because he went after the wrong people. It took half the book before he considered that maybe he's going about it wrong. I was frustrated with him, especially as figuring out what's really going on isn't too hard for the reader. By the time he started looking beyond the vigilantes, people weren't giving Joel the information he needed because they had no trust in him.

Incidentally, the story's not meant to be strongly historical. Betsy acted like a modern gal. She wasn't the least bit bothered by things like the hero's comment about hoping to sleep in her bed (which he didn't know was hers) or by being frequently alone at night in Joel's company. And Joel passionately kisses her several times before even officially courting her.

The Christian element was a brief mention or two that maybe Joel should rely on God instead of his own efforts. I don't recall him actually following this advise, though. There were no sex scenes or 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.