Sunday, April 19, 2015

Shadow of a Spout by Amanda Cooper

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Shadow of a Spout
by Amanda Cooper


ISBN-13: 9780425265246
Mass Market Paperback:
304 pages
Publisher: Berkley Prime Crime
Released: April 7, 2015

Source: Review copy from the publisher.

Book Description, Modified from Back Cover:
Avid teapot collector Rose Freemont takes a break from her Victorian tea house only to find a new mystery brewing elsewhere. Rose is off to the annual convention of the International Teapot Collector’s Society. Her granddaughter Sophie is minding the tea house while she’s away.

Rose is eager for teapot expert Zunia Pettigrew to appraise a prized antique teapot. When Zunia is rude and declares the pot a fake, Rose is really steamed. After Zunia’s found dead beside Rose’s dinged-in teapot, Sophie must rush to her grandmother’s aid and find the real killer.


My Review:
Shadow of a Spout is a cozy mystery. It's the second book in a series. You don't need to read the previous book to understand this one, and this story didn't spoil the whodunit of the previous novel.

This mystery was a clue-based, puzzle mystery. There were plenty of clues, plenty of suspects, and even clues that eliminate suspects from the list. Whodunit seemed the most...motivated to me, but I wasn't sure until the last clues fell into place. Sophie figured it out just before whodunit pulls out a gun (allowing Sophie to save someone else's life--yay!).

I like how Sophie--and Rose--are logical thinkers and go about sifting through the clues and asking questions in a logic way. One problem for cozy mystery writers is to justify the heroine getting involved. Once evidence is uncovered that shows Rose is being set up, Sophie decides to duplicate the police's work so she can deliver the murderer to the police wrapped up in a bow. Though she is generally cooperative with the police and didn't look down on them, I didn't care for her smug attitude in that moment and I hope it doesn't come to dominate these fun stories.

There was no sex. There was a very minor amount of mild bad language. Overall, I'd recommend this fun, clue-filled 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, April 12, 2015

The Inn at Ocean's Edge by Colleen Coble

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The Inn at Ocean's Edge
by Colleen Coble


ISBN-13: 9781401690267
Trade Paperback: 304 pages
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Released: April 14, 2015

Source: Review copy from the publisher.

Book Description, Modified from Back Cover:
In 1989, Claire Dellamare disappeared from her own fourth birthday party at the Hotel Tourmaline on the island of Folly Shoals, Maine. She showed up a year later at the same hotel, with a note pinned to her dress but no explanation. Nobody knows where Claire spent that year.

When Claire returns to the Hotel Tourmaline for a business meeting with her CEO father, disturbing memories begin to surface. Until now, Claire didn’t even know she had been missing, and her parent's aren't willing to discuss her disappearance.

Luke Rocco's mother went missing at the same time Claire disappeared. After a chance encounter reveals the unlikely link between them, Claire and Luke set out together to uncover the truth about what happened that fateful year.


My Review:
The Inn at Ocean's Edge is a romantic suspense novel. Except for the hero, the men in this story are not the sort you'd root for. One man leaves Claire stranded on an isolated, dangerous beach because she won't have sex with him. The male sheriff initially dismisses Claire's reliability, then he jumps to the conclusion that Claire--as a four-year-old--hatched a complicated plot that led to her committing a modern murder to hide it even though the modern murder would never have been suspected if she hadn't reported seeing it. And many townsfolk assume the same. I felt like the plot would have been stronger if the townsfolk suspected a person or persons more likely to create complicated plans and to have something to hide.

There were clues as to what really happened the night Claire disappeared as a four-year-old. I had the general outline figured out very early on. The story was interesting enough to keep me reading to learn the exact details of what happened and what would happen after the truth is exposed. The characters were varied and interesting. Luke was a knight in shining armor compared to the other men. He was a decent fellow who shared many interests with Claire. The suspense mainly came from physical danger to Claire as the murderer had a habit of attacking her.

There was no sex or bad language. There was an underlying message of forgiveness and of sacrifice to help others. Overall, I'd recommend this novel to suspense fans. I liked the story even though I had a hard time liking most of the characters.


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.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Just Like Me, Climbing a Tree by Durga Yael Bernhard

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Just Like Me, Climbing a Tree
by Durga Yael Bernhard


ISBN-13: 978-1-937786-34-2
Hardcover: 32 pages
Publisher: Wisdom Press
Released: April 2015

Source: Review copy from the publisher.

Book Description, Modified from Publisher's Website:
Just Like Me, Climbing a Tree explores 12 of the most distinctive trees from across the globe. Yael Bernhard’s playful poem winds through the pages and imagines the many discoveries found while climbing a tree, whether in our backyards or on the other side of the planet. Bernhard's paintings show her careful research of each tree and draw us up into the branches to view new creatures, people, and places.

The appendix to the book offers more facts about the trees, such as their range, habits, uses, and interesting cultural beliefs about the tree. This section will help answer questions that curious young minds might have.


My Review:
Just Like Me, Climbing a Tree is a children's book recommended for "ages 5 and up." The poem is a simple but charming "what if" narrative of a child about the different creatures and things you might find when you climb a tree. I loved climbing trees as a child (and still do), and it reminded me of those adventures.

The pictures show the tree with a local child, setting, and creatures. It's fun to spot the creatures "hiding" in the tree. Parent's may have to explain what some creatures--like sloths--are to young children. There is a label for each tree that tells the tree's common name, scientific name, and the location. This helps you to match up the tree to the further information in the back. There is also a world map on the inner cover that shows where each tree is located.

Further information about the trees is given in the back. It's adult level reading, but much of it would be interesting to a child interested in trees. The trees shown in the poem (and covered in the back) are: Weeping Fig (in Cambodia), Montezuma Cypress (Mexico), Mango (Guinea, West Africa), Monterey Pine (California), Baobab (South Africa), Lychee (Hawaii), Weeping Willow (Holland), Kapok (Brazil), Olive (Israel), Gingko (China), White Mulberry (Australia), Southern Live Oak (Southeast United States).

I recommend this is a fun and potentially educational book to parents of children who love climbing trees. The author even has a note at the end about climbing safely.


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: View an page from the book on the publisher's website.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Buried Secrets by Irene Hannon

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Buried Secrets
by Irene Hannon


ISBN-13: 978-0800721268
Trade Paperback: 384 pages
Publisher: Revell
Released: April 7, 2015

Source: Review copy from the publisher.

Book Description, Modified from Goodreads:
After seven years as a Chicago homicide detective, Lisa Grant has hit a wall. Ready for a kinder, gentler life, she takes a job as a small-town police chief. But the discovery of a human skeleton by a construction crew at the edge of town taxes the resources of her department.

A call for assistance brings county police detective Mac McGregor, an ex-Navy SEAL, to her doorstep. As they work to solve the mystery behind the unmarked grave, danger begins to shadow them. Someone doesn't want this dead person telling any tales--and will stop at nothing to make certain a reputation-shattering secret stays buried.


My Review:
Buried Secrets is a Christian romantic suspense novel. The main characters were likable, acted realistically, and we got to know them well. The suspense came from physical danger to those involved in the past case, including those presently investigating it. The villain was a psychopath and very clever about making murder look like it was an accident.

I have a pet peeve about heroines who are only able to prove the murderer's guilt by that person trying to kill them. In this story, the killer was so clever that there wasn't enough proof even though the hero and heroine where able to narrow down whodunit based on careful investigation. The killer wasn't acting rationally anymore and was overconfident. By the end, Lisa knew whodunit and was on guard against attack. It's a suspense novel, so knowing that a clever killer was not happy with our heroine adds to the suspense. So it worked for me.

The Christian element was shown more in how the characters treated people and acted than through their talking about God. There was no sex or bad language. Overall, I'd recommend this enjoyable and 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.


Excerpt: Read an excerpt using Google Preview.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Dearest by Alethea Kontis

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.

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Dearest
by Alethea Kontis


ISBN-13: 9780544074071
Hardcover: 288 pages
Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers
Released: February 3, 2015

Source: Review copy from the publisher through Amazon Vine.

Book Description, Modified from Back Cover:
Readers met the Woodcutter sisters (named after the days of the week) in Enchanted and Hero. In this delightful third book, Alethea Kontis weaves together some fine-feathered fairy tales to focus on Friday Woodcutter, the kind and loving seamstress. When Friday stumbles upon seven sleeping brothers in her sister Sunday’s palace, she takes one look at Tristan and knows he’s her future. But the brothers are cursed to be swans by day. Can Friday’s unique magic somehow break the spell?


My Review:
My review on Amazon.

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, March 22, 2015

Aloha Betrayed by Donald Bain

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Murder, She Wrote:
Aloha Betrayed
by Jessica Fletcher
and Donald Bain


ISBN-13: 9780451466556
Mass Market Paperback:
304 pages
Publisher: Obsidian Mystery
Released: March 3, 2015

Source: Review copy from the publisher.

Book Description, Modified from Back Cover:
Jessica is on the Hawaiian island of Maui, giving a lecture at Maui College on community involvement in police investigations. Her co-lecturer is legendary retired detective Mike Kane, who shares his love of Hawaiian lore, legends and culture with Jessica. But the talking stops when the body of a colleague is found at the rocky foot of a cliff.

Mala Kapule, a botanist and popular professor at Maui College, was known for her activism and efforts on behalf of the volcanic crater Haleakala. The high altitude crater is already the site of an observatory, but plans to place the world’s largest solar telescope there split the locals, with Mala fiercely arguing to preserve the delicate ecology of the area. Was someone trying to muffle the protestors? Or was Mala’s killer making a more personal statement?


My Review:
Aloha Betrayed is a cozy mystery. This is the forty-first book in the series. You don't have to read the previous novels to understand this one, and this one doesn't spoil the whodunit of previous novels.

Technically, this is a clue-based mystery, and whodunit can be guessed. The final clues that straighten out the muddle of who and why don't come until nearly the end. I like Jessica as a heroine, but there was a "no, don't do it!" moment that seemed to stretch reasonable caution. Jessica did a number of vacation events like a luau, dinner cruise, and a picnic in Iao Valley. It brought back memories of my Maui vacation.

There was no sex. There was a very minor amount of bad language. Overall, I'd recommend this fun 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, March 15, 2015

Twisted Innocence by Terri Blackstock

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Twisted Innocence
by Terri Blackstock


ISBN-13: 9780310332367
Trade Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: Zondervan
Released: February 3, 2015

Source: Review copy from the publisher through BookLook Bloggers.

Book Description, Modified from Back Cover:
Holly Cramer has worked hard to keep the identity of her daughter's father a secret, shamed and embarrassed by the one-night stand. But when the police knock on her door searching for Creed Kershaw, she realizes his identity isn't as hidden as she thought. The fact that Creed is a person of interest in a recent drug-related murder only increases her humiliation.

Determined to keep him out of their lives and turn him over to police, Holly uses her private investigating skills to search for him. But her bravado backfires when he turns the tables and takes her and the baby hostage. As desperate hours tick by, Holly realizes his connection to Leonard Miller--the man who has gunned down several members of her family. Creed claims he's innocent and that Miller is after him, too. His gentleness with Lily moves Holly, but she can't trust a man who has held her at gunpoint...even if he reminds her so much of herself.


My Review:
Twisted Innocence is a Christian suspense novel. This book was the third in a series, and I'd recommend reading the books in order. This novel is a continuation of the on-going story of Leonard Miller versus the families of these three sisters. We're given enough information to understand what's going on, but this information "spoils" events in the previous novels.

The suspense came from emotional tension in various relationships and from physical danger. Holly endured an attack, kidnapping, and repeated attempts to kill the people she cares about. Since this was the first I'd "met" Holly, I was a little confused by her early motives. If you don't want someone to find you, you...track them down? She's a proactive sort of gal who doesn't always make good decisions. Anyway, it was very suspenseful, and I quickly become engaged in the story even without reading the previous books.

The Christian element was some discussion about why bad things happen and about trying to redeem ourselves versus God redeeming us. There was no sex or bad language. Overall, I'd recommend this novel to suspense 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.