Monday, December 31, 2012

Happy New Year 2013 Giveaway Hop

Christmas Books Giveaway Hop

As a part of the Happy New Year 2013 Giveaway Hop, I'm holding a giveaway for the following book:


book coverThe Captain's Bride by Lisa Tawn Bergren is a Christian historical set in 1880. You can read my review.

Elsa Anders's dream of marrying Peder Ramstad is about to come true. But as this independent, strong-willed woman discovers her own creative gifts--a love for travel, painting, and the sea--can she find happiness with a captain who insists upon leaving her safely on shore?

Leaving their home in Norway behind, Elsa and Peder embark on a new life in with their closest friends, including: Kaatje Jansen, a woman seeking a new beginning for the sake of her marriage and for the child growing within her; Elsa's sister Tora, a sly young vixen who knows exactly what she wants--and exactly how to get it; and Karl Martensen, a man torn between his friendship for Peder and a forbidden, secret love for Elsa, a man tormented by emotions that threaten to ruin them all.


This contest is for USA & Canada residents only.


To enter the giveaway:

1) you can twitter me saying "Hi @genrereviewer. Enter me in the giveaway for THE CAPTAIN'S BRIDE by Lisa Tawn Bergren."

OR

2) You can leave a comment to this post asking to be entered. (I have comment moderation on to prevent spam comments, so don't worry if your entry comment doesn't appear immediately. It will soon.) Please also leave some way for me to contact you--or follow this blog so you can see the winner announcement. I'd be fun if you also included why you're interested in reading this novel.



This giveaway ends on January 7, 2013 at midnight. The winner will be randomly selected. I'll announce the winner on January 8, 2013 on this blog.

If you entered using twitter, I'll send you a @ or DM telling you of your win and asking where to send the book. If you entered using the blog comments, you'll need to leave your e-mail address or check back to see if you won so you can e-mail me your mailing address. If the winner hasn't responded with a mailing address within four days, I reserve the right to pick a new winner.

I hope everyone has fun with this!


The blogs participating in the Happy New Year 2013 Giveaway Hop:

Sunday, December 30, 2012

The Captain's Bride by Lisa Tawn Bergren

book cover
The Captain's Bride
by Lisa Tawn Bergren


ISBN-13: 9780307458063
Trade Paperback: 400 pages
Publisher: WaterBrook Press
Released: June 2, 2009

Source: Review copy from the publisher.

Book Description from Goodreads:
Elsa Anders's dream of marrying Peder Ramstad is about to come true. But as this independent, strong-willed woman discovers her own creative gifts--a love for travel, painting, and the sea--can she find happiness with a captain who insists upon leaving her safely on shore?

Leaving their home in Norway behind, Elsa and Peder embark on a new life in with their closest friends, including: Kaatje Jansen, a woman seeking a new beginning for the sake of her marriage and for the child growing within her; Elsa's sister Tora, a sly young vixen who knows exactly what she wants--and exactly how to get it; and Karl Martensen, a man torn between his friendship for Peder and a forbidden, secret love for Elsa, a man tormented by emotions that threaten to ruin them all.

From the gentle hills of Bergen, Norway, to the rocky coast of Camden, Maine, and across the crashing, danger-filled waves of the open sea--experience an epic saga of perseverance and passion, faith and fidelity, in the Northern Lights series: the new historical series by Lisa Tawn Bergren


My Review:
The Captain's Bride is a Christian historical novel. It has five main characters, and the story jumped around in location after the group splits up after reaching America. I never had any trouble keeping track of who was who or where they were, but the ending only provided resolution for a few of the characters and the rest ended with more of a cliff-hanger.

The characters were all very realistic and complex. They dealt with real life struggles, and most of their problems were brought on them by their own poor choices. The vivid historical details brought the story alive in my imagination without slowing the pacing. The suspense was created mainly by relationship tensions but also by physical danger to various characters.

Even when things were going well for the characters, I felt like something was going to happen to spoil it. I went through the novel feeling dread for what was going to come instead of hope that good would come through all the bad. Though good did come from the bad--stronger relationships and so on. Perhaps this feeling was partly because I couldn't predict precisely what would happen next, which is a good thing.

The Christian element was woven naturally into the story line and realistically portrayed the Christian walk, with its ups and downs. The brief prayers came across as genuine. The characters (except Tora) wanted to have a good relationship with God, and that's what affected their behavior (rather than lectures from other Christians). I liked how this was portrayed.

There were no graphic sex scenes. There was a very minor amount of "he cursed" style of bad language. Overall, I'd recommend this well-written historical.


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 23, 2012

One Imperfect Christmas by Myra Johnson

book cover
One Imperfect Christmas
by Myra Johnson


ISBN-13: 9781426713675
ebook: 280 pages
Publisher: Abingdon Press
Released: September 1, 2009

Source: Free ebook promotional offer.

Book Description, My take:
Natalie Pearce makes up an excuse for not going over to help her mother take down her Christmas decorations only to learn that her mother had a massive stroke later that day. Natalie blames herself for not being there when it happened and tries to redeem herself by helping her mother recover. Her mother shows no improvement, but Natalie can't forgive herself unless she hears her mother say, "I forgive you."

Natalie pushes her family away and buries herself in her work to avoid her feelings of guilt. Her marriage is falling apart and her teenage daughter is willing to do anything to get her mother back, even run away or try to get her fired. Will the coming Christmas bring an end to everything Natalie once held dear or offer a chance for healing?


My Review:
One Imperfect Christmas is Christian general fiction that spanned about a year of time. Natalie was her own worst enemy. I didn't like her attitude of "life is all about me! Why can't everyone else see that?!" She didn't care about what other people were going through. However, I could always understand where she and the other characters were coming from even if I would have reacted differently. I think I was willing to put up with Natalie's self-pitying guilt because she could see that she was messing things up but didn't know how to fix it. She often didn't like herself or her behavior but she couldn't seem to stop it.

So this should have been a book I liked: actions had consequences and a Christian character realized she couldn't fix her own behavior. I was expecting the characters to realize something new (to them) about God as the solution to the problem and to draw closer to God, but that didn't happen.

For most of the book, you could hardly tell it was a Christian novel. There were a few, brief prayers that were mainly of the "God give me strength" sort. The characters seemed to feel that God was a genie: they'd ask God to fix their big mess and make everything okay again. When God didn't snap His fingers and grant their wish, they felt they needed to help Him out by fixing things themselves (though their efforts never worked).

(Vague Spoiler paragraph): Then, in the last few pages, Natalie finally heard some words that comforted her about her mother so she no longer felt guilty about the stroke. Suddenly Natalie had a complete personality change...at least for the day.

A lot of things in the story were never wrapped up, and I was left feeling like more bad arguments were just waiting to happen. I didn't trust that Natalie wouldn't act exactly the same the next time something happened that she "just couldn't deal with" since her enlightenment moment seemed pretty vague yet situation-specific. The ending didn't leave me feeling like the underlying problem had actually be resolved.

There was no sex. There was a minor amount of "he cursed" style of 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.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Cathedral Windows by Clare O'Donohue

book cover
Cathedral Windows
by Clare O'Donohue


ISBN-13: 9781101615843
ebook: 80 pages
Publisher: Plume
Released: November 13, 2012

Source: eBook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description from Goodreads:
In this special holiday themed short story, Christmas is just around the corner in the Hudson Valley. Nell and her friends at the Someday Quilts shop should be making eggnog and finishing up the stitching on their last homemade gifts, but when an arsonist strikes and a beloved teacher becomes a suspect, the ladies rally behind him to clear his good name. Will they succeed in time for him to spend Christmas among loved ones or will this be a chilly winter for the town of Archers Rest?


My Review:
Cathedral Windows is a cozy mystery. It's a feel-good Christmas story with enjoyable characters. The characters and setting were developed enough to give a nice feel of small town life. The mystery wasn't very complex due to how short the story was, but whodunit was not obvious. It was a clue-based mystery, and whodunit could be guessed from the clues. The suspense was from (non-romantic) relationship conflicts and physical danger.

There was no sex. There was no explicit bad language. Overall, I'd recommend this enjoyable, quick read.


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 16, 2012

All I Have To Give by Melody Carlson

book cover
All I Have To Give
by Melody Carlson


ISBN-13: 9781441212801
ebook: 167 pages
Publisher: Revell
Released: September 1, 2008

Source: Free ebook during a promotion.

Book Description from Christianbook.com:
In this present-day retelling of O'Henry's The Gift of the Magi, Anna and Michael's dreams of having a baby have come to an end. Amidst her heartache, Anna secretly struggles with strange health problems that have her very worried. But as each tries to give the other the perfect Christmas gift, the magic of Christmas is working its way into their lives in a surprising way.


My Review:
All I Have To Give is Christian women's fiction and a re-telling of "The Gift of the Magi." Anna tried so hard to have a "perfect Christmas" that she almost ruined it with her attitude. While the characters always had a motivation for the way they were acting, I was on the borderline of being frustrated with them. Anna thought she had cancer and basically just gave up before even confirming it. She strongly suspected her husband of infidelity (with little evidence) and yet this didn't seem to impact her "grand gift" plans for him.

I felt like there was a missed chance at a deeper message of giving even when hurt and how this would inspire the other family members in their troubled marriages. Instead, everyone thought she had a perfect life (even when they knew she didn't feel that way about being childless) and a perfect, untroubled marriage. The story wrapped up quickly after the gift-giving and didn't resolve some of the serious issues brought up in the story.

The Christian element seemed to be a few statements along the lines of "but Christians shouldn't do that!" (about divorce). There was a very minor amount of "he swore" style of bad language. There was no sex. Overall, it's a nice, predictable 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.

Friday, December 14, 2012

The False Prince by Jennifer A. Nielsen

book cover
The False Prince
by Jennifer A. Nielsen


ISBN-13: 9780545284134
Hardcover: 342 pages
Publisher: Scholastic
Released: April 1, 2012

Source: Checked out from my local library.

Book Description from Back Cover:
In a discontent kingdom, civil war is brewing. To unify the divided people, Conner, a nobleman of the court, devises a cunning plan to find an impersonator of the king's long-lost son and install him as a puppet prince. Four orphans are recruited to compete for the role, including a defiant boy named Sage. Sage knows that Conner's motives are more than questionable, yet his life balances on a sword's point -- he must be chosen to play the prince or he will certainly be killed. But Sage's rivals have their own agendas as well.


My Review:
The False Prince is a middle grade or young adult fantasy novel. It's aimed at boys, though I think girls and adults would also like it. It's the first book in a trilogy, but it stands on it's own and doesn't end on a cliff-hanger.

I liked that the teen hero cared about and tried to help other people even when forced into a situation where a person normally wouldn't. The main characters were generally good people even though they didn't always act like it because of the difficult situation they were in. The characters were complex and had some depth, and I cared what happened to them.

While the twists won't be a huge surprise to anyone who has read a lot of traditional fantasy, they weren't obvious and there was even one I didn't expect. The suspense was created by the physical danger to the characters, but the conflict was mainly due to (non-romantic) relationship tensions.

There was a minor amount of "he cursed" style of bad language. There was no sex. Overall, I'd recommend this interesting and engaging fantasy novel. It's now a favorite of mine, though this might partly be because it's been so long since I last read a good-values, traditional fantasy 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.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

And the winner is...

It's time to announce the winner of the Book Lover's Holiday Giveaway Hop. Including Twitter entries, we had 28 entries. Using a random number generator and numbering the entrants in the order I received them, the winner is:

Anne
who won "Read and Buried" by Erika Chase


Congratulations! I'll be contacting you for your address.

For those who didn't win, you can always buy a copy of these books from your favorite bookstore or see if they have them at your local library.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

And the winner is...

It's time to announce the winner of the "Christmas Books" Giveaway Hop. Including Twitter entries, we had 35 entries. Using a random number generator and numbering the entrants in the order I received them, the winner is:

@loujarratt (LouCinda Jarratt)
won "A Wreath of Snow" by Liz Curtis Higgs


Congratulations! I'll be contacting you for your address.

For those who didn't win, you can always buy a copy of these books from your favorite bookstore or see if they have them at your local library.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Not book related, but important food info

I apologize for posting something not book related, and I'll try to keep this short. I grew up surrounded by corn and soy fields in mid-Illinois and now live surrounded by cattle (raised for meat) and chicken or turkey houses in northern Arkansas. I live on a farm and graduated from college as a BS in Animal Science. Since around 1996, corn and soy (and some other crops) have been genetically engineered to allow farmers to spray herbicides (kills plants) directly on their crops without the crops dying. Another variety are genetically engineered to produce a toxin deadly to insects directly in the food part of the crop so the insects die when they eat it. There are a lot of harmful side-effects from this whole scheme, but now one of the companies making these genetically modified crops wants to sell a variety that will withstand very, very serious poisons because the weeds have become resistant to previous herbicides used with genetically modified crops. This is not the answer to the problem, and it could lead to serious health problems to the farmers spraying the herbicides, to crops nearby on other farms that aren't resistant, and to consumers eating the foods. To learn more, visit this site.

A Killer Maize by Paige Shelton

book cover
A Killer Maize
by Paige Shelton


ISBN-13: 9780425251744
Mass Market Paperback:
304 pages
Publisher: Berkley Prime Crime
Released: December 4, 2012

Source: Review copy from the publisher.

Book Description, Modified from Back Cover:
Becca Robbins is selling her farm-made jams and preserves at a county fair where business is not the only thing that’s dead…

The last person Becca expects to run into at the Swayton County Fall Festival is her ex-husband, Scott Triplett, who’s operating a shooting gallery. Their unexpected reunion is made more complicated when the Ferris wheel operator, Virgil Morrison, is found hanging from his rickety ride, dead from a gunshot.

Rumors of a gypsy curse and the mysteriousness of the locals about the owners of the fair make finding the truth difficult. Becca must search through a labyrinth of lies, secrets, and superstition to find a kernel of truth.


My Review:
A Killer Maize is a cozy mystery. This book is the fourth book of the series, but you don't need to read the previous books to understand this one, and this book didn't spoil the whodunit of the previous mysteries.

The characters were engaging, interesting, and acted realistically. There was a low level of suspense mainly caused by wondering what would happen next and from the creepy feel to the fair and town. The mystery did involve gathering clues, but it wasn't really a "sort through the clues and piece together the puzzle" mystery. Becca got most of her information by watching people and talking with them, so the clues weren't always obvious. I liked that Becca was nice, worked well with those in charge of the investigation, and didn't do really stupid things.

While the corn maze ending was exciting, I still don't understand the logic of everyone looking around and hoping to run into whodunit rather than simply protecting the expected next victim (or victims). Until then, people had good reasons for what they were doing. But, hey, it worked. lol

There was no sex. There was a minor amount of explicit bad language. Overall, I'd recommend this enjoyable 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.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Book Lover's Holiday Giveaway Hop

 Book Lover's Holiday Giveaway Hop

As a part of the Book Lover's Holiday Giveaway Hop, I'm holding a giveaway for your choice of one of the following books:


book coverRead and Buried by Erika Chase is a cozy mystery. You can read my review.

Hosting an award-winning novelist is quite a Christmas coup for the Ashton Corners Mystery Readers and Cheese Straw Society. But for Lizzie, Derek Alton is nothing but trouble—from his massive ego to his smarmy moves. When he’s murdered in her living room, it seems someone decided that this womanizing writer would be better off dead than read. After suspicion falls on Lizzie’s friend, she and her fellow book club members start unearthing a novel’s worth of nasty secrets about Derek.


book coverCity of the Dead by T.L. Higley is a Christian historical suspense novel.
You can read my review.

Up from the sands of Egypt rises the Great Pyramid, where Hemiunu, Pharaoh’s Grand Vizier, commands the historic building project as he orders his life—with justice, truth, and precision. But when a series of murders at the site threatens chaos, Hemi turns his attention to hunting down the killer...a killer who may be closer than he expects. Has someone decided to seek justice for or remove all remembrance of a past injustice that Hemi and his closest friends have been ordered to never discuss? The killer's targets are those who know that a past death was not an accident...


This contest is for USA & Canada residents only.


To enter the giveaway:

1) you can twitter me saying "Hi @genrereviewer. Enter me in the giveaway for [give the book name and author's name]."

OR

2) You can leave a comment to this post asking to be entered and naming which book you'd like to win. (I have comment moderation on to prevent spam comments, so don't worry if your entry comment doesn't appear immediately. It will soon.) Please also leave some way for me to contact you--or follow this blog so you can see the winner announcement. I'd be fun if you also included why you're interested in reading this novel.



This giveaway ends on December 10, 2012 at midnight. The winner will be randomly selected. I'll announce the winner on December 11, 2012 on this blog.

If you entered using twitter, I'll send you a @ or DM telling you of your win and asking where to send the book. If you entered using the blog comments, you'll need to leave your e-mail address or check back to see if you won so you can e-mail me your mailing address. If the winner hasn't responded with a mailing address within four days, I reserve the right to pick a new winner.

I hope everyone has fun with this!


The blogs participating in the Book Lover's Holiday Giveaway Hop:

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Read and Buried by Erika Chase

book cover
Read and Buried
by Erika Chase


ISBN-13: 9780425251782
Mass Market Paperback:
304 pages
Publisher: Berkley Prime Crime
Released: December 4, 2012

Source: Review copy from the publisher.

Book Description, Modified from Back Cover:
Hosting an award-winning novelist is quite a Christmas coup for the Ashton Corners Mystery Readers and Cheese Straw Society. But for Lizzie, Derek Alton is nothing but trouble—from his massive ego to his smarmy moves. When he’s murdered in her living room, it seems someone decided that this womanizing writer would be better off dead than read.

After suspicion falls on Lizzie’s friend, she and her fellow book club members start unearthing a novel’s worth of nasty secrets about Derek. As they get closer to uncovering Derek’s scandalous final manuscript, someone decides to write finis to Lizzie’s sleuthing.


My Review:
Read and Buried is a cozy mystery. This novel is the second in the series. You don't need to read the previous novel to understand this one, and this novel didn't spoil the mystery in the previous book.

The characters were interesting, likable, and reacted in realistic ways. I liked that Lizzie was careful not to ruin people's reputations when she learned scandalous things related to the case. This was a clue-based mystery. I wasn't certain about whodunit before the reveal, but whodunit was certainly on my short list of suspects. I enjoyed that the author was able to keep me guessing.

There was a nice level of detail. There was more detail about her job and less about clothing and food than in A Killer Read, so it had more "normal" levels of detail. I felt the story pacing was smoother and kept my interest even better due to this. Lizzie's low level eating disorder, which I mentioned in my Killer Read review, has disappeared. She no longer showed angst over eating sweets.

There were no graphic sex scenes. There was some explicit bad language (11 uses of "God" in swearing and 7 uses of curse words). Overall, I'd recommend this well-written, interesting 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, November 30, 2012

"Christmas Books" Giveaway Hop

Christmas Books Giveaway Hop

As a part of the "Christmas Books" Giveaway Hop, I'm holding a giveaway for the following book:


book coverA Wreath of Snow by Liz Curtis Higgs is a Christian historical romance set in 1894 in Scotland.
You can read my review.

Christmas Eve 1894. All Margaret Campbell wants for Christmas is a safe journey home. When her plans for a festive holiday with her family in Stirling crumble beneath the weight of her brother’s bitterness, the young schoolteacher wants nothing more than to return to the students she loves and the town house she calls home.

Then an unexpected detour places her in the path of Gordon Shaw, a handsome newspaperman from Glasgow, who struggles under a burden of remorse and shame. When the secret of their shared history is revealed, will it leave them tangled in a knot of regret? Or might their past hold the threads that will bind their future together?


This contest is for USA & Canada residents only.


To enter the giveaway:

1) you can twitter me saying "Hi @genrereviewer. Enter me in the giveaway for A WREATH OF SNOW by Liz Curtis Higgs."

OR

2) You can leave a comment to this post asking to be entered. (I have comment moderation on to prevent spam comments, so don't worry if your entry comment doesn't appear immediately. It will soon.) Please also leave some way for me to contact you--or follow this blog so you can see the winner announcement. I'd be fun if you also included why you're interested in reading this novel.



This giveaway ends on December 7, 2012 at midnight. The winner will be randomly selected. I'll announce the winner on December 8, 2012 on this blog.

If you entered using twitter, I'll send you a @ or DM telling you of your win and asking where to send the book. If you entered using the blog comments, you'll need to leave your e-mail address or check back to see if you won so you can e-mail me your mailing address. If the winner hasn't responded with a mailing address within four days, I reserve the right to pick a new winner.

I hope everyone has fun with this!


The blogs participating in the "Christmas Books" Giveaway Hop:

Thursday, November 29, 2012

The Quiet Gentleman by Georgette Heyer

book cover
The Quiet Gentleman
by Georgette Heyer


ISBN-13: 9780373836840
Mass Market Paperback:
416 pages
Publisher: Harlequin Books
Released: January 10, 2006

Source: Bought through Half.com.

Book Description, Modified from Back Cover:
When Gervase Frant returns unscathed from the wars to claim his title as the new Earl of Stanyon, he faces resentment from his stepmother and half-brother for managing to survive. Then Gervase meets a lovely young woman whom all the young men in the area are in love with--including his half-brother and his cousin. His half-brother has a nasty temper and confronts Gervase in an attempt to make him stay away from her. Then a series of dangerous "accidents" occur, and it's clear that someone wants Gervase dead...


My Review:
The Quiet Gentleman is a historical romantic suspense novel set in the Regency Era in England. I liked both of the romances, with one couple seeming so well suited for each other and the other involving the man coming to appreciate the initially overlooked finer qualities that the woman has. The conflict was created by family resentment over Gervase inheriting the title and estates and between the men vying for innocently flirty Marianne.

The mystery involved who was attacking Gervase and how Gervase was going to resolve all the conflict (including dealing with whomever was attacking him). Sometimes Heyer has the prime suspect really be the "whodunit," and sometimes she has it be someone else. I wasn't entirely sure which it was in this story until near the end, so I had two main suspects until then. I enjoyed trying to puzzle this out.

The characters were engaging, interesting, and acted in realistic ways. The setting and historical details brought the story alive in my imagination. This edition of the book also had a glossary of some Regency slang and a fun short story called, "To Have the Honour."

There was some explicit bad language (mainly that using "God"). There was no sex. 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.

Monday, November 26, 2012

And the winner is...

It's time to announce the winner of the Gratitude Giveaways Blog Hop. Including Twitter entries, we had 47 entries. Using a random number generator and numbering the entrants in the order I received them, the winner is:

Jennifer Haile
who won "Mrs. Jeffries & the Mistletoe Mix-Up"


Congratulations! I'll be contacting you for your address.

For those who didn't win, you can always buy a copy of these books from your favorite bookstore or see if they have them at your local library.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

City of the Dead by T.L. Higley

book cover
City of the Dead
by T.L. Higley


ISBN-13: 9780805447316
Trade Paperback: 400 pages
Publisher: B&H Books
Released: March 1, 2009

Source: Review copy from the author as a part of her Great Book Giveaway.

Book Description, Modified from Goodreads:
Up from the sands of Egypt rises the Great Pyramid, where Hemiunu, Pharaoh’s Grand Vizier, commands the historic building project as he orders his life—with justice, truth, and precision. But when a series of murders at the site threatens chaos, Hemi turns his attention to hunting down the killer...a killer who may be closer than he expects.

Has someone decided to seek justice for or remove all remembrance of a past injustice that Hemi and his closest friends have been ordered to never discuss? The killer's targets are those who know that a past death was not an accident...


My Review:
City of the Dead is a Christian historical suspense novel with a romance. This is the second book in the Seven Wonders series, but it's a stand alone novel. The only connection between the novels in this series are that they take place near one of the Seven Wonders of the ancient world.

The characters were likable or interesting, complex, and acted in realistic ways. The historical and setting detail helped to bring the world alive in my imagination, but there weren't as many details as in some of this author's books. This may be because there are conflicting views about the pyramids and not as much information available about this time and place compared to some of her other stories. Also, I had a hard time getting immersed into this story because I found the rather casual way almost everyone seemed to treat each other as doubtful.

The mystery was very suspenseful due to physical danger to various characters, and I remained unsure of whodunit until the end. The romance was believable, but the focus wasn't on the two spending time together and falling in love. I appreciated that both characters were likable and also liked and respected each other from the start.

There was a Christian element to the story. The love interest character was a part of a group of Egyptians who still remembered the One True God (from teachings passed down after the confusion of languages at Babel) and that He promised to send a Redeemer to take away their sins. Hemiunu knew that he wouldn't get into the afterlife when judged by Egyptians gods, and he's interested in their beliefs when he encounters the sect.

There was a very minor amount of "he cursed" style of bad language. There was no sex. Overall, I'd recommend this exciting and well-written 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 on the author's website.

Friday, November 23, 2012

The Plain Princess by Phyllis McGinley

book cover
The Plain Princess
by Phyllis McGinley


Hardcover: 66 pages
Publisher: J.B. Lippincott Company
Released: 1945

Source: Inherited from my grandparents.

Book Description, Modified from Goodreads:
The Princess Esmeralda is fortunate in many ways, for the King and Queen shower her with gifts, toys, feasts, and entertainment. But she's plain by her kingdom's standard's of beauty: her mouth turns down, her nose turns up, and her eyes do not sparkle. When a neighboring Prince is turned off by her selfish, spoiled attitude, he points out to her how plain she is which makes her very unhappy.

Her parents are determined to do something to help her become beautiful, but no one knows what to do....until Dame Goodwit offers to make the Princess beautiful on the condition that the Princess will come and live in her cottage with her five daughters. The changes that take place are only natural ones; but when the Princess learns to do a truly unselfish things, then her mouth turns up, her nose turns down, and her eyes sparkle.


My Review:
The Plain Princess is a children's picture book. It's a fun little book about how a spoiled, disagreeable child is viewed as plain, but as she learns to be helpful and unselfish, she becomes "beautiful." It's a nice lesson and an entertaining sequence of events illustrated with colorful drawings (like those on the cover). It's probably not easy to find, but I do recommend this enjoyable 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.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Deadly Aim by Patricia H. Rushford

book cover
Deadly Aim
by Patricia H. Rushford


ISBN-13: 9781441239433
ebook: 317 pages
Publisher: Fleming H. Revell Company
Released: February 1, 2004

Source: A free ebook from Christianbook.com.

Book Description from Goodreads:
When a police shootout results in the death of a 12-year-old boy, Officer Angel Delaney is blamed, convicted, and condemned by the media and the Sunset Cove community before the case even goes to trial. Angel will have her day in court, but before she has the chance to defend herself, the situation spirals out of control.

Key evidence is missing, evidence that could have verified her claim of firing only one shot in self-defense. In short order, the body count rises, and suddenly Angel is a suspect in more than one murder investigation. Heartsick about the young boy's death, and questioning her judgment as a police officer, Angel joins forces with Detective Callen Riley to fight the mounting charges against her.


My Review:
Deadly Aim is a romantic suspense/mystery. It is the first in a series, but it reads like a stand-alone. The story was very suspenseful as things just kept getting worse and worse--emotional trauma, physical danger, and a series of murders of which people were quick to suspect her guilty. I didn't see how the author was going to turn things around. The characters were interesting, complex, and acted realistically. However, some evidence was used even after circumstances where it could potentially have been tampered with, and I'm not sure that was realistic.

While "whodunit" was on my list of likely suspects, I was left feeling somewhat unconvinced that this whodunit would have gotten away with all the evidence tampering, drug trafficking, and such without anyone noticing or could do that much killing without any change in behavior.

I liked that the romance didn't move too quickly. Angel had to work through letting go of a "safety net" boyfriend that she didn't intend to marry so that both of them could move on. I had admired how Angel and Callen didn't act on their desire to hug and kiss when it would have been inappropriate for them to do so...and then, within a page, they did do so. Ah, well. Also, I found it ironic that Angel hated how her father wouldn't trust her to do her job well despite all the evidence that she could, yet Angel wouldn't trust Callen to do his job well. But this was handled realistically.

Angel had been a Christian before a friend of hers was killed. Then Angel rejected God because He didn't answer her prayers the way she wanted Him to. After briefly ranting at her Christian family members about this on a few occasions, her mother pointed out that God had granted the prayer of the friend who died, and Angel reconsidered her view of God. This was worked in naturally and didn't come across as a sermon at any point.

There was no sex or explicit bad language. Overall, I'd recommend this suspenseful romantic 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, November 16, 2012

Killer Librarian by Mary Lou Kirwin

book cover
Killer Librarian
by Mary Lou Kirwin


ISBN-13: 9781451684643
Mass Market Paperback:
320 pages
Publisher: Pocket Books
Released: November 27, 2012

Source: Advanced Reader Copy from the publisher.

Book Description, Modified from Back Cover:
Minnesota librarian Karen Nash embarks on her dream trip to London even though the love of her mid-life, Dave, dumped her hours before takeoff. When she spies him at the airport with a young honey on his arm, she's so angry that she thinks of schemes for Dave’s untimely demise.

After landing, she checks into a cozy B & B run by charming bibliophile Caldwell Perkins. Soon she’s spilling tears in her pint at the corner pub, sharing her heartbreak saga with a stranger. When she sobers up, she begins to fear that she accidentally set an assassin on her ex's tail! Then she finds a B & B guest dead and wonders if it really was a natural death. If the matter isn't cleared up, several of the guests will always think the wife killed her husband. Karen decides to set things right.


My Review:
Killer Librarian is a romance with a cozy mystery. The focus was on her getting over her ex-boyfriend and falling in love with someone new. Everyone she met seemed to have been so hurt by a break-up that they considered killing their ex, so she got a lot of sympathy. And when she thinks she accidentally sent an assassin after her ex, she realized she doesn't really want him dead...and wondered what she ever saw in him since they really didn't have much in common. As wacky as the assassin bit was, it did provide a way to get Karen more quickly over her ex so she could move on.

I didn't really like Karen at the beginning because she didn't seem to like who she was and kept pretending to be things she wasn't. However, I did like how she did eventually get tired of living a lie and was brave enough to admit the truth in the hopes of being loved for who she was.

The mystery was clue-based, but much more time was spent on sight-seeing or spending time with Caldwell than in trying to find clues about whodunit. It was easy for Karen to get a confession. The setting description gave a good idea of what London is like. The characters were interesting and weren't cliche, not even small-part characters like a shop owner who sold Karen a shawl (loved that gal).

There was a very minor amount of explicit British bad language. Unmarried sex was implied, but there were no sex scenes. Overall, I'd recommend this novel to romance readers who don't mind some mystery thrown in.


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.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Gratitude Giveaways Blog Hop

Gratitude Giveaways Blog Hop

As a part of the Gratitude Giveaways Blog Hop, I'm holding a giveaway for your choice of one of the following books:


book coverMrs. Jeffries & the Mistletoe Mix-Up by Emily Brightwell is a historical mystery set in England in the late 1800's. You can read my review.

Moments after a high tea is interrupted by a fire in the servants’ hall, art collector Daniel McCourt is found sprawled on the floor of his study under a bundle of mistletoe, his throat slit by the bloody sword lying next to his body. Could the killer be one of his fellow collectors, pointedly using one of McCourt’s own acquisitions to kill him? Inspector Witherspoon is determined to solve the case, but of course he will need some assistance from the always sharp-witted Mrs. Jeffries.


book coverThrough the Fire by Shawn Grady is a Christian suspense novel.
You can read my review.

Firefighting burns in Aidan O'Neill's blood, but one call goes horribly wrong, a rookie is hurt, and Aidan is suspended. It couldn't have happened at a worse time. An arsonist is targeting Reno, leaving a scorched path of destruction. Teaming with a beguiling fire investigator, Aidan is determined to discover who is setting the fires that are so similar to the one that killed his father.


book coverThe Convenient Marriage by Georgette Heyer is a funny historical romance set in 1770's England.
You can read my review.

Horatia Winwood, a stammering girl barely out of the schoolroom, offers to take the place of her beautiful older sister (who is romantically involved elsewhere) in a marriage of convenience with the wealthy Earl of Rule. Horatia thinks that Rule loves another woman who is unsuitable to marry, so she tries to find her happiness in buying clothing and flirting with other men. But Rule is actually taken with his adorable new wife. Lord Lethbridge sees this as an opportunity to ruin Horatia as revenge against Rule for an earlier dispute between them.


This contest is for USA & Canada residents only.


To enter the giveaway:

1) you can twitter me saying "Hi @genrereviewer. Enter me in the giveaway for [give the book name and author's name]."

OR

2) You can leave a comment to this post asking to be entered and naming which book you'd like to win. (I have comment moderation on to prevent spam comments, so don't worry if your entry comment doesn't appear immediately. It will soon.) Please also leave some way for me to contact you--or follow this blog so you can see the winner announcement. I'd be fun if you also included why you're interested in reading this novel.



This giveaway ends on November 25, 2012 at midnight. The winner will be randomly selected. I'll announce the winner on November 26, 2012 on this blog.

If you entered using twitter, I'll send you a @ or DM telling you of your win and asking where to send the book. If you entered using the blog comments, you'll need to leave your e-mail address or check back to see if you won so you can e-mail me your mailing address. If the winner hasn't responded with a mailing address within four days, I reserve the right to pick a new winner.

I hope everyone has fun with this!


The blogs participating in the Gratitude Giveaways Blog Hop:

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Wolfsbane by Patricia Briggs

book cover
Wolfsbane
by Patricia Briggs


ISBN-13: 9780441019540
Mass Market Paperback:
304 pages
Publisher: Ace
Released: November 2, 2010

Source: Bought through Half.com

Book Description, Modified from Back Cover:
Aralorn, a shapeshifter and mercenary spy, returns home because her noble father, the Lyon of Lambshold, has died. But when Aralorn and her companion Wolf arrive, they discover that he's not dead. Black magic has been used to hold her father in a death-like state, and he will die if he's not released within two weeks. To break the spell, they need to know who set it and how. But no mage is likely to admit to knowing how to work the forbidden black magic even if this wasn't a trap apparently designed to kill Wolf. And, because it's strong black magic, someone's going to die...


My Review:
Wolfsbane is a fantasy novel. It's the sequel to Masques. You don't need to read the previous novel to understand this one, but the ending of Masques is spoiled if you read this novel first.

The story was written more like a cozy mystery than an action fantasy. After a fairly active beginning, the characters basically alternated between talking over what they knew and gathering more information. For the "cozy" aspect, Aralorn had two fight scenes and told one story that did nothing to move the story forward. Even the beginning was slowed a bit by all the back story we're given (some of it unnecessary), so don't expect a fast-paced book.

I was pleased that Aralorn was back to being the original, cheerful character I love from the original version of Masques. I was surprised by how quickly previous enemies from Masques and from the beginning of this book turned into close working companions. This was so different from Masques, were Aralorn's friends kept turning into enemies at the most inopportune moments.

There was a very minor amount of explicit bad language. There was a lot of implied sex. The fantasy magic of the previous book had some new elements, including printed out words to one spell and training in "centering and grounding." To me, this felt like a story that just happened to use some names (and some humor) similar to the previous book rather than an actual continuation of Aralorn's and Wolf's 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.

Friday, November 9, 2012

A Bride For Donnigan by Janette Oke

book cover
A Bride For Donnigan
by Janette Oke


ISBN-13: 9781556613272
Trade Paperback: 222 pages
Publisher: Bethany House Publishers
Released: 1993

Source: Personal library.

Book Description, Modified from Back Cover:
Kathleen O'Malley stood on the deck and watched the land she'd called home for more than a dozen years slip from her view. Even though Kathleen had not been happy with her situation, it was all she had ever known. Now her only certainty was that she was bound for America to marry a man whose name she did not even know and whose face she had never seen.

On the other side of the Atlantic, Donnigan Harrison anxiously awaits Kathleen's arrival on a prairie farm. He has known the wonder of a dream fulfilled--a snug frame cabin, the sturdy log barn and outbuildings, a fine herd of livestock, and crops in the field that made his eyes sparkle. Yet Donnigan felt lonely and had limited opportunities for finding a wife. Donnigan's anticipation is overshadowed with terrifying uncertainties--What have I done?


My Review:
A Bride For Donnigan is a Christian historical set in the American West during the pioneer time period. It's a part of the Women of the West series, but the books aren't connected to each other so you can read them in any order. These novels are quick reads.

The setting and historical detail created a nice yet still somewhat vague (as to exact time period) backdrop for the events. The story followed Kathleen's life from seventeen-years-old until she has a large family of her own. Kathleen and Donnigan have to overcome misunderstandings about what they think the other partner wants out of marriage and the sorrows of losing and raising children.

The Christian element was woven into the story, and it was the focus of the story near the end. Kathleen and Donnigan both realize there must be a God, but they don't know anything about him and there's no preacher available. They glean what they can from the Bible and, after some misunderstandings caused by various Christians not clearly answering their questions, finally come to understand how to make things right between themselves and God.

Married sex was implied (as babies were born). There was a very minor amount of "he cussed" style of bad language. 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, November 4, 2012

Important information

I wouldn't normally do this, but I was an Animal Science student in college back when GMOs were just starting to be used. I had no idea of what had happened since then, and people really need to know this. Here's a free 1 hr 30 minute video that's free until Nov. 6th. Please take the time to watch as much of this as you have time for, especially people in California. http://geneticroulettemovie.com/ or

A Wreath of Snow by Liz Curtis Higgs

book cover
A Wreath of Snow
by Liz Curtis Higgs


ISBN-13: 9781400072170
Hardcover: 224 pages
Publisher: WaterBrook Press
Released: October 2, 2012

Source: Review copy from the publisher.

Book Description from Cover:
Christmas Eve 1894. All Margaret Campbell wants for Christmas is a safe journey home. When her plans for a festive holiday with her family in Stirling crumble beneath the weight of her brother’s bitterness, the young schoolteacher wants nothing more than to return to the students she loves and the town house she calls home.

Then an unexpected detour places her in the path of Gordon Shaw, a handsome newspaperman from Glasgow, who struggles under a burden of remorse and shame.

When the secret of their shared history is revealed, will it leave them tangled in a knot of regret? Or might their past hold the threads that will bind their future together?


My Review:
A Wreath of Snow is a Christian historical romance set in 1894 in Scotland. It's a novella, so it's a short, quick read and events move forward relatively quickly. It's a nice, sweet story where secrets and lies have brought deep hurt but there's a chance for the truth to bring healing.

The characters were complex and realistic, and I could sympathize with the main characters. Due to the shortness of the book, though, we don't get to know the characters really well. The romance "worked" for me, and there were enough historical and setting details to bring the story alive in my imagination.

There was a Christian element that was woven into the story about forgiveness and telling the truth. I didn't feel that it ever got "preachy," though. There was no sex and no bad language. Overall, I'd recommend this book to those looking for a short read that ends with hope and healing.


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, November 2, 2012

Collared by L.A. Kornetsky

book cover
Collared
by L.A. Kornetsky


ISBN-13: 9781451671643
Trade Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: Galley Books
Released: November 13, 2012

Source: Advanced Reader Copy from the publisher.

Book Description, Modified from Back Cover:
Ginny Mallard and her shar-pei, Georgie, need to dig up another client for her private concierge business. Ginny enjoys bantering with Teddy Tonica, the bartender at a nearby bar, and her dog is oddly fond of his bar cat, Mistress Penny. While at the bar, she overhears a drinker tell his business woes to the bartender.

Ginny interrupts and lands a job tracking down some important business papers that have gone missing—along with the customer’s uncle. Ginny can use her research skills to track him down, but she quickly realizes that she needs a partner with people skills—like Tonica—if she's going to succeed.

This is one dangerous case that’s about to go to the dogs – unless man, woman, cat, and canine can work together as one very unconventional crime-solving team.


My Review:
Collared is a mystery novel. The mystery was to find a missing man and to discover exactly why he decided to hide (along with some important business papers) from his nephew. They weren't investigating a murder, which was a refreshing change. It wasn't really a puzzle-mystery but following along as they uncovered the trail and decided what to do with what they learned. The suspense was from potential danger to them and the missing man.

The characters were engaging, and Ginny and Teddy both acted in realistic ways to the situation. I liked that they were more concerned about what harm their actions might cause people than in finishing the job to get the money or to prevent a bad reputation for Ginny's business. They also realized when they were in over their heads and when they needed to hand the situation over to professionals.

The dog and cat had "speaking" (to each other) parts in the story, but their concerns and actions were like real cats and dogs. A nice level of detail about the setting, jobs, etc., was woven into the story.

There was no sex. There was a fair amount of explicit bad language. If you don't mind that level of bad language, then I'd recommend this engaging 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.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

And the winner is...

It's time to announce the winner of the Spooktacular Giveaway Hop. Including Twitter entries, we had 17 entries. Using a random number generator and numbering the entrants in the order I received them, the winner is:

Michele Shroyer
who won "The Tale of Castle Cottage"


Congratulations! I'll be contacting you for your address.

For those who didn't win, you can always buy a copy of these books from your favorite bookstore or see if they have them at your local library.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

They Called Her Mrs. Doc by Janette Oke

book cover
They Called Her
Mrs. Doc
by Janette Oke


ISBN-13: 9781556612466
Trade Paperback: 222 pages
Publisher: Bethany House Publishers
Released: March 28, 1992

Source: Personal library.

Book Description, Modified from Back Cover:
The only daughter of a noted Montreal physician and educator, Cassandra Wilson inherited all the opportunities of Eastern society and affluence. Everything in her life has been cared for by her doting parents and servants.

She loves a serious young doctor who intends to return to his small, uncultured hometown on the Western frontier. She marries him but secretly hopes he'll soon return them to the city and join her father's practice. But he's too happy and busy to see how miserable and lonely she is. Will her new friend, who once faced similar circumstances, be able to help her change her feelings about her life here?


My Review:
They Called Her Mrs. Doc is a Christian historical set in the Canadian West during the pioneer time period. It's a part of the Women of the West series, but the books aren't connected to each other so you can read them in any order. These novels are quick reads.

The setting and historical detail created a nice yet still somewhat vague (as to exact time period) backdrop for the events. The story followed Cassandra's life from seventeen-years-old until she's very old, so we get more of an overview of her life than a good look at her during one period of her life. Her early struggle was to adjust to living in an "uncivilized" town where she didn't know anyone or fit in. Then she had to learn to sometimes help her husband and the townspeople (when her husband wasn't available) medically despite the fact she gets nauseous at the sight of blood.

The Christian element was woven in as a natural part of the story, and it wasn't a big part of the story. Cassandra realizes that she knows about God but doesn't know God on a personal basis, so she decides to change that and then let Him change her attitude about her circumstances.

Married sex was implied (as babies were born). There was a very minor amount of "he cussed" style of bad language. 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.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Mrs. Jeffries & the Mistletoe Mix-Up by Emily Brightwell

book cover
Mrs. Jeffries & the Mistletoe Mix-Up
by Emily Brightwell


ISBN-13: 9780425251706
Mass Market Paperback:
272 pages
Publisher: Berkley Prime Crime
Released: November 6, 2012

Source: Review copy from the publisher.

Book Description from Back Cover:
Moments after a high tea is interrupted by a fire in the servants’ hall, art collector Daniel McCourt is found sprawled on the floor of his study under a bundle of mistletoe, his throat slit by the bloody sword lying next to his body. Could the killer be a disgruntled lover, sending a message by murdering McCourt under the mistletoe? Could it be one of his fellow collectors, pointedly using one of McCourt’s own acquisitions to kill him?

Inspector Witherspoon is determined to solve the case—preferably before Christmas Eve—but of course he will need some assistance from the always sharp-witted Mrs. Jeffries, who has her own theories on why McCourt had to die by the sword...


My Review:
Mrs. Jeffries & the Mistletoe Mix-Up is a historical mystery set in England in the late 1800's, though we don't know the exact year. This book was the twenty-ninth book in the series. You don't need to read the previous books to understand this one, and this book didn't spoil the mysteries of the previous books.

There were enough setting and time period details to give the story a historical feel. The characters were engaging and realistic, though not highly complex. The suspense came from wondering whodunit, though Mrs. Jeffries and company also nearly got caught helping the Inspector several times (which they want to avoid).

The story was a clue-based "puzzle-it-out" mystery. By about halfway through, I was pretty sure that one or two specific characters were whodunit. I had the correct whodunit and motive before Mrs. Jeffries even caught on to the "revealing" clue. It was clever how the author hid that clue, though, so whodunit wasn't obvious.

There was no sex. There was a minor amount of explicit bad language (some of it was British bad words). 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.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Spooktacular Giveaway Hop

Spooktacular Giveaway Hop

As a part of the Spooktacular Giveaway Hop, I'm holding a giveaway for your choice of one of the following books:


book coverThe Tale of Castle Cottage by Susan Wittig Albert is a historical mystery. You can read my review.

Beatrix is eager to marry her fiancĂ©, solicitor William Heelis. But with remodeling work at Castle Cottage, their future home, going at a snail’s pace, Beatrix finds frustration when the building contractor fires his best carpenter, Mr. Adcock, for stealing. At the same time, Will is investigating thefts on other construction sites—an inquiry that comes to a screeching halt when Mr. Adcock is found dead.

Meanwhile, the animals that live in and around the village have a problem of their own: a gang of rats has moved into the neighborhood and is stealing food and valuables from humans and animals alike. Sadly, the cats aren't up to the job of ridding the area of the rats, but something must be done before the rats clean the village out...


book coverMurder in the Rue Dumas by M.L. Longworth is a cozy-like mystery set in France.
You can read my review.

When Dr. Georges Moutte is found murdered, Judge Antoine Verlaque is stumped. Certainly the director of theology at the Universite d'Aix had his enemies. Moutte was just about to name the recipient of an elite fellowship as well as his own successor--a highly coveted position that includes a lavish apartment in a seventeenth-century mansion--when his lips were sealed permanently. Yet Verlaque isn't convinced that any of the academics are capable of murder. Aided by his on-again, off-again girlfriend, law professor Marine Bonnet, Verlaque turns Provence upside down, uncovering a world far more complicated than university politics.


This contest is for USA & Canada residents only.


To enter the giveaway:

1) you can twitter me saying "Hi @genrereviewer. Enter me in the giveaway for [give the book name and author's name]."

OR

2) You can leave a comment to this post asking to be entered and naming which book you'd like to win. Please also leave some way for me to contact you--or follow this blog so you can see the winner announcement. I'd be fun if you also included why you're interested in reading this novel.


This giveaway ends on October 31st, 2012 at midnight. The winner will be randomly selected. I'll announce the winner on November 1st, 2012 on this blog.

If you entered using twitter, I'll send you a @ or DM telling you of your win and asking where to send the book. If you entered using the blog comments, you'll need to leave your e-mail address or check back to see if you won so you can e-mail me your mailing address. If the winner hasn't responded with a mailing address within four days, I reserve the right to pick a new winner.

I hope everyone has fun with this!


The blogs participating in the Spooktacular Giveaway Hop:

Sunday, October 21, 2012

The Homecoming by Dan Walsh

book cover
The Homecoming
by Dan Walsh


ISBN-13: 9781441212054
Sony ebook: 310 pages
Publisher: Fleming H. Revell Company
Released: May 4th 2010

Source: Free ebook offer.

Book Description from Back Cover:
No sooner has Shawn Collins returned home from the fighting in Europe than he is called upon to serve his country in another way--as a speaker on the war bond tour. While other men might jump at the chance to travel around the country with attractive Hollywood starlets, Shawn just wants to stay home with his son Patrick and his aging father, and grieve the loss of his wife in private.

When Shawn asks Katherine Townsend to be Patrick's nanny while he's on the road, he has no idea how this decision will impact his life. Could it be the key to his future happiness and the mending of his heart? Or will the war once again threaten his chances for a new start?


My Review:
The Homecoming is a Christian historical novel set in 1944 to 1945 and mainly occurred in United States and London, England. This book is a sequel to The Unfinished Gift. You don't need to read the first novella to understand this book, but I suspect I would have felt more connected to the main characters if I had read The Unfinished Gift first.

The vivid historical details were woven into the story without slowing the pacing. We get a tour of events happening at the time, from a bomber getting shot down and its crew escaping occupied territory, to fame for a war hero on a war bond tour, to missiles falling on civilian houses in London.

There was a romance as well, but I felt like time jumped by so quickly that we didn't really get to see the romance grow. We know that they spent time around each other and that they seem well-suited for each other, but the novel's focus was more on the historical events going on than on scenes of them falling in love with each other.

There was a Christian element to the story. Katherine knew so little about church that she thought she had to pay to attend (due to the offering plate), but we're told she learns more about how churches work and what Christ is all about. The hero believed in God before his wife died, but afterward he was mad at God and had to deal with the issue of God being good.

There was no sex or explicit bad language. Overall, I'd recommend this interesting historical 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, October 19, 2012

Sylvester by Georgette Heyer

book cover
Sylvester
or The Wicked Uncle
by Georgette Heyer


ISBN: 0-06-100257-7
Mass Market Paperback:
410 pages
Publisher: Harper Paperbacks
Released: 1985, 1957

Source: Bought through Half.com

Book Description, my take:
Sylvester, the Duke of Salford, takes his responsibilities very serious, and he's decided that it's time for him to marry--but he hasn't yet met a woman he loves. When his mother mentions the daughter of her dead best friend, he decides to meet the girl.

Phoebe Marlow had a poor showing during her London season, and she wrote a novel mocking the silliness of the ton after she came back to the country. She makes Sylvester the villain due to his slanted eyebrows. When she's told that he's coming to ask her to marry him, there's only one thing to do--run away!

She ends up stranded at a small inn in a snowstorm with an injured companion, so she welcomes Sylvester's help once she's told he didn't intend to marry her. Still, she's offended by his sometimes aloof attitude and occasional thoughtless actions, and she blames him for causing her to run away. She knows that he's not the villain she's made him out to be, but surely his pride will never forgive her for portraying him as one...


My Review:
Sylvester or The Wicked Uncle is a historical adventure/romance set in Regency era England. I like Heyer's funny novels, but it turned out that this one had more scornful criticism than humorous dialogue or events. It also had a lot more adventure, including a kidnapping and travel in France. It was very exciting, and I hated putting the book down because I could never guess what would happen next.

I didn't really like the "romance," though. There were moments when I could see that Sylvester and Phoebe could get along very well, but Phoebe spent most of their time together criticizing Sylvester (not because he's bad, but because he isn't perfect) and blaming him for provoking her bad behavior. I suspect she did this because she was very insecure and felt like she'd be safer if she was constantly on the attack and could pretend to have the moral high ground. Sylvester took it all like a gentleman, apologized when he did wrong, and even modified his behavior when she made valid criticisms. He kept rescuing her from the consequences of her rash actions.

But if they'd been a modern, married couple, they'd be filing for divorce. They're going to have a miserable marriage. Even Sylvester's mother thinks this is the likely result, though she hopes it's the making of them instead. So it's not the "they're better people when together than when apart" type romance I like.

There was no sex. There was some explicit bad language. Overall, I'd recommend this novel to those interested in reading all of Heyer's books, those interested in the adventure part of it, or those who don't mind "always fighting" romance 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, October 14, 2012

The Convenient Marriage by Georgette Heyer

book cover
The Convenient Marriage
by Georgette Heyer


ISBN-13: 9780373834457
Mass Market Paperback:
404 pages
Publisher: Harlequin
Released: 1934, 2000

Source: Bought through Half.com.

Book Description, Modified from Goodreads:
Horatia Winwood, a stammering girl barely out of the schoolroom, offers to take the place of her beautiful older sister (who is romantically involved elsewhere) in a marriage of convenience with the wealthy Earl of Rule. Horatia thinks that Rule loves another woman who is unsuitable to marry, so she tries to find her happiness in buying clothing and flirting with other men.

Rule is actually taken with his adorable new wife and is concerned about her behavior. Lord Lethbridge sees this as an opportunity to ruin Horatia as revenge against Rule for an earlier dispute between them. Little does he expect the mess that results due to Horatia's, her brother's, his friend's, and Rule's hilarious interference with his carefully laid plans.


My Review:
The Convenient Marriage is a funny historical romance set in 1770's England. The hero, Rule, reminded me of The Scarlet Pimpernel - he seemed lazy and unconcerned yet he was a lot more aware and athletic than he outwardly appeared. Horatia was charming and very funny at the beginning, but then she behaved rather badly (though not so much so that I stopped liking her). Rule's old enemy and a previous mistress of Rule's did some shocking things to try to break up the marriage. The comic relief mainly came from Horatia's usually-drunk brother and his friend doing their bumbling best to prevent her actions from creating a scandal...and only making things worse.

There was a fair amount of historical detail--mainly about the clothing, though some about dueling, highway robbery, and such--woven into the story. I had a hard time putting the book down because of the bad scrapes Horatia and her brother kept getting into, some of them dangerous.

There was some explicit bad language. There was no sex. Overall, I'd recommend this funny 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, October 12, 2012

The Swan House by Elizabeth Musser

book cover
The Swan House
by Elizabeth Musser


ISBN-13: 9780764225086
Trade Paperback: 448 pages
Publisher: Bethany House Publishers
Released: July 1, 2001

Source: Bought through Half.com.

Book Description, Modified from Back Cover:
Sixteen-year-old Mary Swan Middleton has always taken for granted the advantages of her family's wealth. But a tragic plane crash that touches all of Atlanta threatens to crush her in grief for her lost mother.

When the family maid challenges her to reach out to the less fortunate as a way to ease her own pain, Mary Swan meets Carl. He is her opposite in nearly every way--he's black, poor, and struggling against the racism so present in 1962. She asks for his help to uncover a mystery about a lost painting of her mothers and ends up learning far more than she ever could have imagined.


My Review:
Swan House is a historical set in 1962 in Atlanta, Georgia. Segregation was being broken down, but prejudice and violence against blacks was still very present. Vivid descriptions about the place, time, and people brought the story alive in my imagination.

The characters were engaging, had depth, and reacted to things in realistic ways. The low level of suspense came from relationship tensions--romantic, family, and racial. While not depressing, it's not a light-hearted story. Mary Swan goes through so much pain due to losing loved ones, her naivete, and learning some new, hard things about her mother.

There was a strong Christian element, and it flowed naturally as a part of the story. Mary Swan went to church all of her life, but she's challenged by the devotion she sees in a white woman who gave up a life of privilege to serve among the poor. Mary Swan is afraid God will ask her to do something like that, so she doesn't want to get any closer to God, but she is curious about the strong faith she sees.

There was a very minor amount of explicit bad language. There was no sex. Overall, I'd highly 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.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Masques by Patricia Briggs

book cover
Masques
by Patricia Briggs


ISBN-13: 9780441019427
Mass Market Paperback:
320 pages
Publisher: Ace
Released: September 28, 2010

Source: Bought through Half.com.

Book Description, my take:
Rewritten from the original story of 1993.

Aralorn is a mercenary spy, so it helps that she's a shape-shifter. She can change to look like anyone and can easily take on animal shapes like a mouse or goose. But her latest mission turns unexpectedly deadly. Few people knew that the ae'Magi, a very powerful and charming magic user, secretly kills people to increase his power. So Aralorn joins her mysterious companion, Wolf, to defend a handful of untrained magic users and to try to stop the ae'Magi.


My Review:
Masques is a traditional fantasy novel. The 1993 version is one of my favorite novels, and I finally decided to read this re-written version. The author mainly added descriptions to the existing dialogue and action.

I love to read the 1993 version whenever I feel down because Aralorn has a wry sense of humor and can find humor in even the worst situations. And she loves to cheer other people up, too, and make them laugh at themselves for being so serious. She's a woman of action. Even when she knows there may be very bad consequences for her actions, she still does what's right. She risked her life to help others when she knew they wouldn't even thank her for it.

Due to the additions in the new version, Aralorn's humor is more muted. It's also a mask for her true feelings of utter terror and uncertainty about what to do and for her horrible nightmares. This is a more realistic reaction to the things she goes through (including torture), but it also isn't a book I'd read when I feel depressed about the world.

Though slower-paced than the original version, the new version still had a good level of suspense due to physical danger and relationship tensions. The added detail did bring the world more vividly alive, and the main characters still came across as intriguing, nice people.

There were no sex scenes, though it was implied that the bad guys raped women. There was a very minor amount of explicit bad language. There was torture, but the focus was more on healing the damage rather than the actual torture, so it wasn't very gory. There was fantasy magic and shape-shifters. Overall, I'd recommend this new version as an enjoyable fantasy. The old version is very difficult to find at a reasonable price.


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.