Sunday, May 22, 2016

Murder at Lambswool Farm by Sally Goldenbaum

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Murder at Lambswool Farm
by Sally Goldenbaum


ISBN-13: 9780451471642
Hardback: 320 pages
Publisher: Obsidian
Released: May 3, 2016

Source: Review copy from the publisher.

Book Description, Modified from Back Cover:
Seaside Knitter Birdie Favazza has long loved knitting, but lately she’s taken on a new challenge—making a family farm operational again. With help from friends, Lambswool Farm is now up and running, with thriving crops and grazing sheep. In addition, the farm will host rustic, six-course prix fixe dinners plated by local chefs.

But on the night of the first meal, everything spins out of control when one of the guests, Seaside Harbor’s family physician, dies. Soon the town is gossiping and pointing fingers at all possible suspects—including the women at Lambswool Farm. Now the Seaside Knitters must join together to uncover the truth in Dr. Hamilton’s complicated past—and restore peace to town and country alike.


My Review:
Murder at Lambswool Farm is a cozy mystery and the eleventh book in the series. You don't need to read the previous novels to understand this one, and this story didn't spoil the previous mysteries.

The main characters were very nice people who didn't even want to think badly of their suspects. They respect the police, so they investigated the murder from a different angle than the police. They asked reasonable questions. It's a clue-based mystery, and I realized whodunit a bit before the heroines did.

The author occasionally hid information that the viewpoint characters knew from the reader. There were strong hints as to what it was, though, and this shouldn't prevent readers from guessing whodunit. Still, hiding known information remains one of my pet peeves.

There was no sex. There was a minor amount of bad language. Overall, I'd recommend this cozy 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, May 20, 2016

Dawn at Emberwilde by Sarah Ladd

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Dawn at Emberwilde
by Sarah Ladd


ISBN-13: 9780718011819
Trade Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Released: May 10, 2016

Source: Review copy from the publisher through BookLook.

Book Description, Modified from Back Cover:
No longer a student, Isabel Creston works as a teacher at the safe yet stifling Fellsworth School so she can care for her younger sister Lizzie, who was left in her care after her father’s death. The unexpected arrival of a stranger with news of unknown relatives turns Isabel’s small, predictable world upside down.

At her new family’s invitation, Isabel and Lizzie relocate to Emberwilde, a sprawling estate adjacent to a mysterious forest rife with rumors and ominous folklore. Perhaps even more startling, two handsome men begin pursuing Isabel, forcing her to learn the delicate dance between attraction, the intricate rules of courtship, and the hopes of her heart.


My Review:
Dawn at Emberwilde is a Christian historical romance set in 1817 in England. Technically, it's the second book in a series, but it's actually a stand alone. The previous book's main characters aren't mentioned in this novel.

The romantic couple were nice people who cared about those around them. They built each other up and were better for knowing each other. I admired Isabel for resisting a marriage that she had doubts about even though it appeared to be a desirable match. It even made sense for her to be rebellious about this considering her history and recent events. The magistrate was investigating a mystery involving smuggling in the forest, which added interest and intrigue.

The historical aspect was more of a backdrop than a detailed part of the story. The Christian element was mainly a few prayers and concern shown for abandoned children. There was no sex or bad language. Overall, I'd recommend this enjoyable romance 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, May 13, 2016

Traces of Guilt by Dee Henderson

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Traces of Guilt
by Dee Henderson


ISBN-13: 9780764218866
Paperback: 400 pages
Publisher: Bethany House Publishers
Released: May 3rd 2016

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from Goodreads:
Evie Blackwell loves her life as an Illinois State Police Detective and is very skilled at investigations. She would like to find Mr. Right, but she has a hard time imagining how marriage could work, considering the demands of her job.

Gabriel Thane is a lifetime resident of Carin County and now its sheriff, a job he loves. Gabe is committed to upholding the law and cares deeply for the residents he's sworn to protect.

Evie arrives in Carin, Illinois as a part of a new task force dedicated to reexamining unsolved crimes across the state. Spearheading this trial run, Evie will work with the sheriff's department on a couple of its most troubling missing-persons cases. Evie's determined to solve the cases before she leaves Carin County.


My Review:
Traces of Guilt is general fiction, not a romantic suspense. Evie is happy as a single woman (by which she means she's happy dating a man who wants to marry her but whom she doesn't intend to marry). This doesn't change, but we don't meet her boyfriend.

The task force was looking at a bunch of cold cases, so there's no suspense. They talk about what might have happened and possible leads. They talk about what they did and what they discovered. They think and talk about how they feel very sad and how heartbreaking and painful it is to work these cases. We're rarely allowed to be "in on the action" with an actual scene of an interview or when finding physical evidence.

There were plenty of cases--a missing girl, a missing family, missing parents, two murdered pedophiles, and a woman in hiding from a killer--yet it's not a mystery genre. In two of the missing cases, they know whodunit. It's just a matter of finding the bodies, and they know where to look. There was no justice in those cases, just providing resolution.

Gab and Evie also worked the missing family case, which got nowhere and Evie went home. Then, in the last chapter, a new, chance clue allowed Gab to solve the case, and Gab provided Evie (and the reader) with a brief summary of his investigation. We don't even know whodunit exists before this point. Again, no justice. And, for all her work, Evie didn't solve any of the mysteries.

Frankly, what we had were six viewpoint characters struggling emotionally with what happened in the past and what they want in the future. That was the focus of the story. The Thane family was nice, but I didn't really connect with the women characters. The Christian element was a few prayers and the fact that they go to church. There was no sex 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.


Excerpt: Read an excerpt using Google Preview.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Murder in the Museum by John Rowland

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Murder in the Museum
by John Rowland


ISBN-13: 9781464205798
Paperback: 250 pages
Publisher: Poisoned Pen Press
Released: May 3, 2016

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from Goodreads:
Professor Julius Arnell, a retired academic whose life was devoted to Elizabethan literature, breathes his last in the British Museum Reading Room. Inspector Shelley's suspicions are aroused when he finds a packet of poisoned sugared almonds in the dead man's pocket. A motive becomes clearer when he discovers Arnell was wealthy, and his will is missing.

A friend of Arnell's also recently died in the British Museum Reading Room. Is there connection between these deaths? Henry Fairhurst, a museum visitor who saw the death, adds his detective talents to Inspector Shelley's own. They set about solving one of the most baffling cases Shelley has ever encountered.


My Review:
Murder in the Museum is a mystery novel that was originally published in 1938 and is set in England. We mainly follow Inspector Shelley and his official assistant, but a humorous amateur detective also realized some vital clues which he provides to Shelley. I enjoyed the characters and their pursuit of the answers.

The first two-thirds of the story was a clue-based puzzle mystery which appeared convoluted but was fairly simple underneath due to a limited number of suspects. You can guess at whodunit, but the definitive clue provided everyone with the murderer's name. Then it became a suspenseful chase to save someone's life and catch the murderer.

There was no sex. There was some 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.

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Silence in the Dark by Patricia Bradley

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Silence in the Dark
by Patricia Bradley


ISBN-13: 9780800724184
Trade Paperback: 368 pages
Publisher: Revell
Released: April 5, 2016

Source: Review copy from the publisher.

Book Description, Modified from Goodreads:
Two years ago, Bailey Adams broke off her engagement to Danny Maxwell and fled Logan Point for the mission field in Chihuahua, Mexico. Now she's about to return home to the States, and she's taking one of the mission school's children with her so the girl can visit her grandparents. But as she's getting the little girl from her uncle, men from the local drug cartel attack the restaurant. Bailey and the child get away, but now they're on the run and only Danny can help them escape Mexico.

To make matters worse, people who help her along the way find themselves in danger too--including Danny. Are they after her or the child? Are they safe once they've left Mexico? And can Bailey keep herself from falling in love with Danny all over again?


My Review:
Silence in the Dark is a Christian romantic suspense novel. The suspense came from physical danger to the main characters and their friends. Bailey and the little girl, Maria, are in danger from one person or another from start to finish, and a number of people get killed along the way. There's also some uncertainty about who they can trust as several of the people helping them feel that the others are untrustworthy. We know which people are a danger to Bailey and Maria, so we can see the danger coming while they're wondering if the danger is over.

Bailey and Danny love each other, but Bailey wants to do mission work in Mexico while Danny is not interested and not a Christian. Frankly, this issue wasn't clearly resolved though the romance did get "a second chance." While they're nice people, they didn't seem to share many interests. The other romantic couple had more obvious reasons for attraction as they had similar interests and goals in life.

Bailey struggled with why God allowed bad things happen to her when she was trying to do everything He wanted. She admitted this to a few, trusted people who helped point her in the right direction. At the end, she sees some good things that came out of all the bad. 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.

Friday, May 6, 2016

Sins of the Past by Henderson, Pettrey, and Eason

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Sins of the Past
by Dee Henderson,
Dani Pettrey,
Lynette Eason


ISBN-13: 9780764217975
Paperback: 384 pages
Publisher: Bethany House Publishers
Released: May 3, 2016

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from Goodreads:
In Dee Henderson's "Missing," a Wyoming sheriff is called to Chicago when his elderly mother goes missing. Paired with a savvy Chicago cop, the two realize his mother has most likely been kidnapped and race against the clock to find her.

Dani Pettrey returns to Alaska with "Shadowed," introducing readers to the parents of her beloved McKenna clan. Adventure, romance, and danger collide when a whale-watching tour boat comes across the body of an open-water swimming competitor who may be a Russian defector.

Lynette Eason's "Blackout" delivers the story of a woman who witnessed a robbery gone wrong. The loot has never been found and one of the robbers is certain she knows where it is, but her memory of that night has always been unreliable. Can she remember enough to find her way to safety when a killer comes after her?


My Review:
Sins of the Past is a collection of three Christian romantic suspense novellas. I've read books by all three authors, and their style in their novella is what you'd expect from their books. The heroes and heroines were smart and worked well as a team. There was no sex. With the exception of one British bad word, there was no bad language.

Dee Henderson's story was a suspenseful mystery that ended with the hero and heroine becoming romantically attracted. There were clues to whodunit and why, so you can guess or just enjoy the suspense. The Christian element was mainly prayers and learning to forgive.

Dani Pettrey's story had the romantic attraction building from the beginning. While there were some clues as to whodunit, it's mainly a suspense-filled run to solve whodunit before they're killed. The Christian element was mainly prayers and letting go of guilt.

Lynette Eason's story was almost a horror story. The heroine was traumatized in the past and harassed with deadly intent in the present. The harassment and danger was non-stop. There were minimal clues since the suspense depended on uncertainty and the unknown. The hero and heroine had been attracted for a long time, but the current peril draws them together.


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.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Little One, God Made You Special by Amy Warren Hilliker

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Little One, God Made You Special
by Amy Warren Hilliker,
Polona Lovšin (Illustrations)


ISBN-13: 9780310753001
Board book: 14 pages
Publisher: Zonderkidz
Released: May 3, 2016

Source: Review copy from the publisher through BookLook.

Book Description from Back Cover:
This cute and cuddly board book, inspired by The Purpose-Driven Life, let’s children know God made each one of us very special.


My Review:
Little One, God Made You Special is a board book for young children. All of the adults who've looked at it have been absolutely charmed by the book. Our test subject is too young to give feedback, but this is the type of book I want my baby niece to grow up with. All of the art has the same look and style as the cover picture. I prefer illustrations like this, where the animals look more like the real thing (rather than a cartoon) yet still look warm and cuddly.

The book showed various animals interacting with their offspring in loving ways. The text stated how each of us are unique in how we look--from our chin to our grin--and that "God made you special from the start." The text is very simple so even fairly young kids should be able to follow along, and the text invites pointing to various body parts along with laughter and grins. It's a good message and lovely illustrations. I'd highly recommend 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.