Sunday, October 19, 2014

Waking Up Joy by Tina Ann Forkner

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Waking Up Joy
by Tina Ann Forkner


ISBN-13: 9781940296722
Paperback: 336 pages
Publisher: Tule Publishing Group
Released: October 8, 2014

Source: Review copy.

Book Description, Modified from Back Cover:
Joy Talley is determined to stop living in the past, but the first step she takes in that direction ends up nearly killing her. In an attempt to remove the last physical evidence of a traumatic past experience from it's hiding place, she falls and ends up in a coma. She is surprised that she can hear people while in her coma, and she's angry that people think she was trying to commit suicide. But they all realize it's a miracle she survived, and she finally wakes up in a spectacular fashion. Will the misunderstandings and pain of the past prevent her from forgiving wrongs and exposing her secret so she can finally find healing?


My Review:
Waking Up Joy is a Christian general fiction novel. The first part of the book was spent with Joy in a coma overhearing things, and it had a slightly comedic feel. We know that something traumatic happened in the past, but we're not told what it is even when the heroine is thinking about it. I don't like it when an author does this as the "big secret" never lives up to all the mystery and it'd make more of an emotional impact if we knew what she was struggling with.

Yet, in a way, it worked in this case. We get clues about what happened, and it was very traumatic. The event happened when she was a teenager and so seemed even bigger to her. Part of the story was her learning that she's not alone in having secrets or a bad past, and she doesn't need to live bound by one traumatic hour.

Joy and the boy who was traumatized along with her act realistically and have a good depth to them. But I felt distant from them rather than highly empathetic because the events that motivated all of their actions were hidden from the reader. Most of the other characters were the comic relief and had very little character development.

A side theme of the story was Joy and her family learning to let go of a heritage that believed in magic trees and charms in addition to God as they realized that it was God doing the miracles to free them from the past. (They still believe that their dead father visits them, though.)

There were no graphic sex scenes though a vaguely described rape does occur in one scene. The was a minor amount of bad language. Overall, if you're okay with stories about traumatic pasts that are the main focus and yet not openly addressed for much of the book, then you'll probably like this book.


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, October 12, 2014

Murder on the Ile Sordou by M.L. Longworth

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Murder on the Île Sordou
by M.L. Longworth


ISBN-13: 9780143125549
Trade Paperback:
320 pages
Publisher: Penguin Books
Released: September 30, 2014

Source: Review copy from the publisher.

Book Description, Modified from Back Cover:
Judge Antoine Verlaque and his girlfriend, law professor Marine Bonnet, are hoping to enjoy a relaxing holiday at the Locanda Sordou, an opulent hotel that is reopening after decades. They start to make friends with the other guests and enjoy the food, the sea, and having sex. When a guest ends up dead, Verlaque feels he's getting soft--he can't see any of his new friends as murderers, yet the rough sea that day makes an outsider as murderer nearly impossible.


My Review:
Murder on the Île Sordou is a literary travelogue that happens to contain a mystery. It's the fourth book in the series. You don't need to read the previous novels to understand this one, and this one didn't spoil the previous mysteries.

Nearly the whole first half of the book was a description of the vacation and the food. We're given a chunk of background on each character on the island for character development. Even after the murder happens, the story centered around the character's lives and the food.

While there was a subtle hint about whodunit, other subtle hints pointed at other characters. There were some actual clues about the motive which made it easier to guess than whodunit. Even when the Judge felt that he knew whodunit, exactly who he suspected is kept from the reader until we all know whodunit. The book is more for people who love character development and fine food and wine than for mystery-solvers.

There was a sex scene that covered 2-3 pages. There was some bad language, though most of that was in French.


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, October 5, 2014

Deceived by Irene Hannon

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Deceived
by Irene Hannon


ISBN-13: 978-0800721251
Trade Paperback: 416 pages
Publisher: Revell
Released: October 7, 2014

Source: Review copy from the publisher.

Book Description from Back Cover:
For three years, Kate Marshall has been grieving the loss of her husband and their four-year-old son in a boating accident. But when she spots a familiar-looking child on an escalator in the mall, she is convinced it is the son she thought was dead.

With police skeptical of her story, she turns to private investigator Connor Sullivan. The former Secret Service agent is dubious but agrees to investigate. Digging into the case he discovers that the incident may have been no accident at all. But if Kate's son is alive, someone is intent on keeping him hidden--and may be willing to go to lethal lengths to protect a sinister secret.


My Review:
Deceived is a Christian romantic suspense novel. It's the third book in a series, but you don't need to read the first two novels to understand this one. This novel did not spoil the storyline of the previous novels.

The characters were likable, realistic, and fairly well-developed. The suspense was more based on a "will the suspected-kidnapper realize he's being investigated and run before they can discover if it really is her son" tension than an ongoing threat of danger. Much of the suspense was relationship-based: will the kidnapper's girlfriend put up with his sudden odd moods and help him? How will the boy react to losing a father he loves? And so on. I liked the realistic portrayal of relationship tensions.

The Christian element was mostly in how the characters treated people and acted rather than by talking about God. There was no sex or bad language. Overall, I'd recommend this enjoyable and intriguing 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, September 28, 2014

Dead Man's Folly by Agatha Christie

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Dead Man's Folly
by Agatha Christie


ISBN-13: 9780425174739
Mass Market Paperback:
240 pages
Publisher: Berkley
Released: May 1, 2000

Source: Borrowed from the library.

Book Description, Modified from Back Cover:
A garden party on the picturesque estate of Nasse House is interrupted by tragedy - a young Girl Guide, who was supposed to be playing the victim in a murder hunt designed by crime novelist Ariadne Oliver, is found really, truly dead. Then the hostess, the simple-minded Lady Hattie Stubbs, vanishes without a trace. Could there be a connection between the two events? Luckily the great Belgian detective Hercule Poirot is on hand to investigate, but there is far more to these occurrences than meets the eye.


My Review:
Dead Man's Folly is a historical mystery set in 1956 in England (though it was a contemporary mystery when it was written). This mystery was so complicated that even Hercule Poirot couldn't sort out all the clues into their proper places until the end.

It was a clue-based puzzle mystery. I did identify which bits of information were important and I had some ideas about what each clue could mean, but none of my guesses were exactly right. Still, it's possible that someone with a creative imagination could guess it. The characters were interesting, and it was kind of fun to see Poirot unable to see how things fit together even if it meant that I had that trouble, too.

There was no sex or bad language. I'd recommend this mystery to fans of Agatha Christie's novels.


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, September 21, 2014

The Foundling by Georgette Heyer

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The Foundling
by Georgette Heyer


ISBN-13: 9781402219481
Trade Paperback: 439 pages
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Released: 1948; September 1, 2009

Source: Borrowed from my local library.

Book Description, Modified from Goodreads:
The shy, young Duke of Sale has never known his parents, but he's been well cared for. Gilly has endured twenty-four years of rigorous mollycoddling from his uncle and valet. He doesn't want to hurt the feelings of those who care so deeply for his welfare, but he'd like to know if he has the strength of character and skill to make it on his own.

When Gilly hears of Belinda, the beautiful foundling who appears to be blackmailing his cousin, he absconds with glee. But he has no sooner entered this new and dangerous world than he is plunged into a frenzy of intrigue, kidnapping, adventure, and surprises at every turn.


My Review:
The Foundling is a Regency romance, though it was really more of a coming-of-age adventure. While the beginning had some funny moments, the story didn't really get interesting (and funny) until Gilly "escaped" his protective servants and relatives and started his adventure.

The story had an interesting mix of characters. While some of the characters initially seem similar to those in her other novels, their reactions to events and their adventures were very different. I was never sure of exactly how a situation would work out.

There were no sex scenes. There was some bad language (most of it the swearing using "God"). Overall, I'd recommend this book to Heyer 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.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

The Darling Dahlias and the Texas Star by Susan Wittig Albert

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The Darling Dahlias and the Texas Star
by Susan Wittig Albert


ISBN-13: 9780425260593
Mass Market Paperback:
320 pages
Publisher: Berkley Prime Crime
Released: September 3, 2013

Source: Review copy from the publisher.

Book Description, Modified from Back Cover:
The ladies of the Darling Dahlias garden club are anything but shrinking violets when it comes to rooting out criminals…

The Texas Star herself—Miss Lily Dare, the “fastest woman in the world”—is bringing her Dare Devils Flying Circus to Darling. She’s also bringing a whole lot of trouble. Dahlias president Liz Lacy learns that Miss Dare has been threatened and her plane sabotaged. Apparently the bold and beautiful barnstormer has made plenty of enemies. And is it possible she may be involved with the husband of one of Darling’s local ladies?


My Review:
The Darling Dahlias and the Texas Star is a historical mystery set in the summer of 1932 in Alabama. It's the fourth book in the series, but you don't have to read the previous novels to understand this one. This novel did not spoil the whodunits of the previous novels.

The historical details were woven into the story without slowing the pacing. The interesting and enjoyable characters and the historical details brought the story alive in my imagination. The mystery was a clue-based puzzle mystery. It's about sabotage, not murder, which was a refreshing change from most mysteries. Whodunit was pretty easy for me to guess, but the other details of the story kept me reading.

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


Saturday, September 13, 2014

Beneath a Navajo Moon by Lisa Carter

As a member of Amazon Vine, I'm able to review books through them, but--as I understand the terms--I'm only allowed to post my review on Amazon. Because I liked this book, I'm posting a description of the book here with a direct link to my review on Amazon.

book cover
Beneath a Navajo Moon
by Lisa Carter


ISBN-13: 9781426757990
Trade Paperback: 334 pages
Publisher: Abingdon Press
Released: March 4, 2014

Book Description, Modified from Back Cover:
The search for a woman who disappeared in 1906 has lead cultural anthropologist Erin Dawson to Cedar Canyon, where the iconic terrain of red rock walls and mesas keep Navajo traditions and maybe criminal evidence well hidden.

Erin's search leads her into the path of tribal policeman Adam Silverhorn. The two fight their feelings for each other even as they become entangled in a dangerous battle. An insidious drug cartel has spawned the recent rise in gang violence on the reservation, and Adam's working to find the meth lab hidden somewhere on the Rez. The gangs are willing to kill anyone who gets in the way of their goals...

My Review: Link to my review on Amazon.