Sunday, August 21, 2016

The Cat, The Collector and the Killer by Leann Sweeney

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The Cat, The Collector and the Killer
by Leann Sweeney


ISBN-13: 9780451477408
Mass Market Paperback:
304 pages
Publisher: NAL
Released: Aug. 2, 2016

Source: Review copy from the publisher.

Book Description from Back Cover:
Jillian Hart and police chief Tom Stewart are enjoying peaceful, newly wedded bliss in Mercy, South Carolina, until a woman is found wandering the streets one night. She's in her night clothes, disoriented, and carrying a kitten in a tote bag. A search of the woman’s house reveals many more cats, a maze of cardboard boxes—and a dead man.

Although the evidence suggests the frail woman is the killer, Jillian doesn’t believe she’s capable of such a crime. The dead man had many enemies in town, which means finding the real murderer may prove to be its own cat and mouse game...


My Review:
The Cat, The Collector and the Killer is a cozy mystery. This is the eighth in the series. You don't need to read the previous books to understand this one, and this book didn't spoil the mysteries in the previous books.

It was a clue-based puzzle mystery. It was somewhat complex, which delayed my figuring out "whodunit" a little and meant that additional pieces fell into place until the very end. However, it didn't really make uncovering who was involved more difficult. I realized whodunit about two-thirds of the way in. The heroine was right in the middle of things (by request of her husband) and had access to the most clues...yet she still didn't figure it out until whodunit attacks her. Sigh. At least she didn't need rescuing.

There was no sex. There was a minor amount of bad language. If you like mysteries involving lots of playing with and caring for cats, then you'd probably enjoy this one.


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, August 19, 2016

The Artisan's Wife by Judith Miller

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The Artisan's Wife
by Judith Miller


ISBN-13: 9780764212574
Paperback: 336 pages
Publisher: Bethany House
Released: Aug. 2, 2016

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from NetGalley:
Ainslee McKay's world is shaken when she discovers her twin sister has not only eloped with a man she barely knows but now Ainslee must take over and run the tile works in Weston, West Virginia, by herself. She had only agreed to help her sister because it was her sister's dream. She urges her brother to sell the business quickly so she won't be exiled in Weston forever.

When Levi Judson arrives and asks for a job at McKay Tile Works, she's impressed by his skill and passion for the business. He hopes Ainslee will agree to produce his unique mosaic tile patterns. Ainslee must decide if she wants to keep the business and expand using Levi's designs. But can their growing feelings for each other survive when Ainslee learns that Levi's brother is a patient at the local asylum?


My Review:
The Artisan's Wife is a historical novel set in 1876 in West Virginia. This book is the third in a series. You can understand what's going on without reading the previous books, but I'd recommend reading these books in order. Part of this book was more of a resolution to events in the first book than about Levi and Ainslee, and it "spoils" critical events from that first book in the process.

The historical focus of this book was on the asylum and its patients. Levi has a brother living there, and he provides art classes for his brother and other male patients. He encouraged Ainslee to overcome her fear of the patients and to help the female patients create a library at the asylum. Time was also spent at the tile works, but generally Ainslee handled to office work and Levi and his brother did the artistic tile work.

I found the main characters interesting, and Ainslee learned from her mistakes and became more mature as time went on. While Levi and Ainslee worked well together and were a good team, their romance mostly happened in the stretches of time that the author skipped over. Perhaps due to skipping forward through time, this felt more like a "life happened" story since it felt like any struggles were quickly overcome.

The Christian element was references to praying and underlying themes like forgiveness and trusting God's care and provision. There was no sex or bad language. Overall, I'd recommend this book to fans of historical 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, August 14, 2016

Secrets and Lies by Shirlee McCoy

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Secrets and Lies
by Shirlee McCoy


ISBN-13: 9780373447589
Mass Market Paperback:
224 pages
Publisher: Love Inspired
Released: Aug. 9, 2016

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from Goodreads:
Attacked in her classroom, widowed teacher Ariel Martin's only thought is for her unborn child. When her student's brother, rookie K-9 officer Tristan McKeller, saves her life, she's grateful. She knows Tristan won't rest until she's safe, but the only person who would want to hurt her is dead. With her and her child's life on the line, she'll have to trust Tristan with her secrets if she wants to finally get the fresh start she's been desperately seeking.


My Review:
Secrets and Lies is a romantic suspense novel. It's the fifth in a series, but you don't need to read the previous novels to be able to follow this one.

Tristan is having trouble parenting his young sister and admires how well Ariel handles her. Ariel's dealing with the fall-out of having married a man who was secretly both crazy and criminal, discovering she was pregnant just as the divorce went through, and his death in a fiery car accident. She's drawn to Tristan because she wants to feel safe and not alone....which is understandable, especially as someone's trying to kill her.

I could see where the plot was headed long before the main characters, so there were no surprise twists. The suspense mainly came from the attempts to kill Ariel. 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.

Friday, August 12, 2016

A Scream in Soho by John G Brandon

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A Scream in Soho
by John G Brandon


ISBN-13: 9781464206498
Paperback: 256 pages
Publisher: Poisoned Pen Press
Released: Aug. 2, 2016

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from Back Cover:
When a piercing scream rends the air and a bloodied knife (but no body) is found, Detective Inspector McCarthy is soon on the scene. He must move through the dark, seedy Soho underworld peopled by Italian gangsters, cross-dressing German spies, and glamorous Austrian aristocrats as he attempts to unravel the connection between the murder and the theft of secret anti-aircraft defense plans. This evocative and suspenseful London novel from the golden age of British detective fiction is now republished for the first time since the 1950s.


My Review:
A Scream in Soho is a suspense/thriller that was originally published in 1940 and is set in London. It takes place during the early days of WWII, so blackouts make investigating the nighttime murders a challenge. Detective Inspector McCarthy grew up in Soho, so he has contacts among the criminals and an understanding of the area. He keeps his sense of humor and unconventional ways as he solves the murders and a theft of secret defense plans, then tracks down the missing plans.

The characters had distinct, interesting personalities. The author included the bad guy's viewpoint as well as the detective's, yet the detective was clever enough to piece everything together without the added information that the reader has. While there were clues, the story was more about how the detective tracked down the answers along with an action-packed arrest sequence.

There was no sex. There was a fair amount of bad language. Some of the characters spoke in dialect, but I had no trouble understanding what they said. 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.

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Love's Betrayal by DiAnn Mills

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Love's Betrayal
by DiAnn Mills
&
Faithful Traitor
by Jill Stengl


ISBN-13: 9781634097796
Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: Barbour Books
Released: August 1, 2016

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from Back Cover:
Love's Betrayal: Boston, 1776. Delight Butler is a passionate defender of the American patriots. When redcoats bring an injured Henry O’Neil to the Butler home for care and lodging, Delight despises the man. Though she comes to admire the man, Delight struggles to trust that he could desert the British army and risk his life for the patriot cause.

Faithful Traitor: New York, 1775. Georgette's parents have arranged for her to marry an aloof man with a reputation for dallying with married women. Yet she desires a husband that will be true only to her. Then she's tempted by a dashing, cloaked man who rescues her from danger and says he adores her. Still, she agrees to marry her parent's choice--who is admittedly handsome and rich--and prays that she can love him, and he love her. But her few, brief meetings with the dashing patriot spy may cause her troubles she didn't foresee.


My Review:
Love's Betrayal is a Christian historical romance set in 1776-1777 in Boston and Chesterfield. I got hung up on the scenario of British troops taking a wounded comrade specifically to a known patriot household, threatening to harm them if they don't nurse him, then abandoning him there. Why didn't they just take him to a British infirmary, or at least one of the known British supporters in the town?

Anyway, Delight and the soldier quarrel until Delight feels bad that her Christian witness is so poor. He falls in love with her beauty and spirit and no longer wants to fight. Delight's father says he thinks the British soldier would be a good husband for her even though he's the enemy. And suddenly she's attracted to the hero, though I don't quite understand why.

I was disappointed that the (potentially) most interesting scenes were skipped and summarized later. The story just dragged for me. There was a strong Christian element: the family prayed and tried to put the Christian virtues into practice. There was no sex or bad language.

Faithful Traitor is a Christian historical romance set in 1775 in New York. It has hints of Jane Austen (misjudgements, romantic imaginings, and match-making mothers) and vaguely follows the plot of the Scarlet Pimpernel (but set during the American Revolution). I'd call this "high romance" as there was much blushing and trembling at a man's touch. That's not my favorite genre, so I was surprised by just how fun this story was. Lots of action and dialogue, and the hero and heroine were better people for having met each other.

Georgette genuinely desired to be a woman of virtue when dealing with temptation. The hero struggled with his need for God's forgiveness, and the heroine struggled with trusting God with an uncertain future. There were no sex scenes. Bad language was indicated with "he cussed" rather than the actual words. Overall, I'd highly recommend this delightful tale.


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, August 5, 2016

The Female Detective by Andrew Forrester

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The Female Detective
by Andrew Forrester


ISBN-13: 9781464206474
Paperback: 316 pages
Publisher: Poisoned Pen Press
Released: August 2, 2016

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from NetGalley:
The Female Detective is the first novel in British fiction to feature a professional female detective. Written by Andrew Forrester, it was originally published in 1864. Miss Gladden's deductive methods and energetic approach anticipate those of Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes, and she can be seen as beginning a powerful tradition of female detectives in these seven short stories.

'G' uses similar methods to her male counterparts like examining crime scenes, looking for clues, and employing subterfuge, observation and charm to solve crimes. Little is ever revealed about 'G' herself, and her personal circumstances remain a mystery throughout. It is her ability to apply her considerable energy and intelligence to solve crimes that is her greatest appeal.


My Review:
The Female Detective is a mystery novel that was originally published in 1864 and is set in England. Miss Gladden is a professional, undercover detective. She's clever and usually assumes the role of a genteel woman on hard times until the arrest is about to be made.

The style was of a memoir containing five cases that she solved and two that were of interest to her. The focus was on the facts of the case and her deductions from those facts, not on her as a person. It's like getting the final scene of the mystery, where the great detective takes everyone back through events and points out the important clues and what they meant.

Since it's not really a guessing game, I found the historical aspects of the cases more interesting than the mysteries. For example, one case hinged on how a marriage settlement worked if the wife died before giving birth. Another involved identifying an unknown body. The cases ranged from murder and accidental death to robbery, fraud, and an escape from a locked room.

The author liked to use dialect for lower class characters, though he usually made sure the reader understood what was meant. The writing in first story was a little choppy, but the rest flowed well. There was no sex or bad language. Overall, I'd recommend this interesting 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.


Tuesday, August 2, 2016

A Heart Most Certain by Melissa Jagears

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A Heart Most Certain
by Melissa Jagears


ISBN-13: 9780764217517
Paperback: 400 pages
Publisher: Bethany House Publishers
Released: Aug. 2, 2016

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from Back Cover:
Lydia King knows what it's like to be in need, so when she joins the Teaville Moral Society, she genuinely hopes to help the town's poor. But with her father's debts increasing by the day and her mother growing sicker by the week, she wonders how long it will be until she ends up in the poor house herself.

Her best chance at a secure future is to impress the politician courting her. The moral society's president is her suitor's mother, and she challenges Lydia to prove her usefulness by obtaining a donation from Nicholas Lowe. He's the wealthiest man in town, but he flat-out refuses to help.

Despite appearances, Nicholas wants to help others but prefers to do it his own way, keeping his charity private. When Lydia proves persistent, they agree to a bargain, though Nicholas has a few surprises up his sleeve. Neither foresee the harrowing complications that will arise from working together. When town secrets are brought to light, this unlikely pair must decide where their beliefs—and hearts—truly align.


My Review:
A Heart Most Certain is a Christian romance set in 1905 in Kansas. The historical details were a vital part of the plot. The author researched how the church at that time generally dealt with prostitutes. Lydia initially shared this opinion because she needed to keep a respectable reputation; it's all she has. Due to events in his own life, God has opened Nicholas' heart to helping ex-prostitutes but he does so in secret.

Nicholas teaches Lydia about creating relationships with those you're helping and viewing them as people. Lydia helps him see that he needs the help of fellow Christians even if there are hypocrites in the church. Both are better people for having met the other, and they shared a passion for helping overlooked people.

But Nicholas is reluctant to love another woman after his wife's betrayal, and Lydia is being pressured into marriage with a man that she doesn't love or respect. Lydia was very brave, and I sympathized with her struggle to make the right decisions as that wasn't always clear.

There were no graphic sex descriptions despite plenty of characters who were prostitutes. The minor amount of bad language was given as "he cursed" instead of the actual bad words. Overall, I'd recommend this interesting 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.


Excerpt: Read an excerpt using Google Preview.