Sunday, December 10, 2017

Christmas Ranch Rescue by Lynette Eason, Lauryn Eason

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Christmas Ranch Rescue
by Lynette Eason,
Lauryn Eason


ISBN-13: 9780373457472
Mass Market Paperback:
224 pages
Publisher: Love Inspired Suspense
Released: Dec. 5, 2017

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description from NetGalley:
When his former crush is suspected of funneling drugs through her ranch, it's DEA agent Nathan Williams's job to find out if Becca Price is guilty. But after Becca is attacked, his top priority becomes protecting her. Convinced she's innocent, Nathan is determined to find the real culprit before the escalating threats become deadly. An ex's betrayal has left Nathan wary, and falling for the suspect he's secretly investigating is a no-win move, so he must keep an emotional distance. But with criminals preparing for a fatal showdown, can he find the truth in time to save Becca's life?


My Review:
Christmas Ranch Rescue is a romantic suspense novel. It's the fifth in a series, but you can understand this book without reading the previous ones. The suspense came from the bad guys periodically attacking the heroine. I liked that the hero supported and backed up Becca rather than trying to run things. He (briefly) struggled with his judgment about Becca's innocence as his last girlfriend totally deceived and betrayed him.

Becca acted much younger than the trained surgeon we're told she was. She was impulsive, didn't think through her actions, and was driven by her emotions. She was stubborn and didn't have a strong sense of self-preservation, though she didn't want anyone else to get hurt. While I liked that Becca was dealing with a back muscle injury due to a riding accident (thus forcing her to accept help), I found it improbable that she went through a car wreck and everything else with this injury never really impairing her ability to move or getting worse.

Having kept my horse at a boarding stable, I was immediately suspicious of a certain character's behavior and quickly figured out what was going on. Though ...we're never told why the bad guys ran their drug scheme in such a risky way. Since I found it so easy to figure things out, it seemed odd that the good guys felt like the case was so baffling. (Side note: horses don't automatically run from their opened stalls in a barn fire as horses aren't rational when frightened.) There was no sex or bad language. Overall, I'd recommend this suspenseful 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.


Friday, December 8, 2017

Death of Anton by Alan Melville

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Death of Anton
by Alan Melville


ISBN-13: 9781464208720
Paperback: 278 pages
Publisher: Poisoned Pen Press
Released: Dec. 5, 2017

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from NetGalley:
Seven Bengal tigers are the star attraction of Carey's Circus. Their trainer is the fearless Anton, whose work demands absolute fitness and the steadiest of nerves. When Anton is found lying dead in the tigers' cage, it seems that he has lost control and been mauled by the tigers—but Detective-Inspector Minto of Scotland Yard is not convinced.

Minto's investigations lead him deep into the circus world of tents and caravans, clowns and acrobats, human and animal performers. No one is above suspicion. Carey, the circus-owner with a secret to hide; Dodo, the clown whose costume is scratched as if by a claw; and Lorimer, the trapeze artist jealous of his flirtatious wife—all come under Minto's scrutiny as the mystery deepens.

This amusing and light-hearted novel from the golden age of British crime writing has long been neglected.


My Review:
Death of Anton is a mystery set in England that was originally published in 1936. It's a clue-based puzzle mystery, and a humorous one at that. The reader knows more about what's going on than the detective, but he snooped around, asked questions, and thought things out until he solved the case. Since we learned several clues before he did, it wasn't difficult to figure out whodunit (and what was going on) before the detective.

Even if we'd been told whodunit from the beginning, I still would have read the whole story because I really enjoyed the humor. The main characters were interesting, and the detective had an entertaining view of life. For one thing, he found it ironic that his brother (a Catholic priest) and 7 tigers all knew whodunit but couldn't tell him, so he had to sort it out for himself.

There was no sex. There was a fair amount of bad language. Overall, I'd recommend this entertaining 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, December 3, 2017

Somebody at the Door by Raymond Postgate

book cover
Somebody at the Door
by Raymond Postgate


ISBN-13: 9781464209123
Paperback
Publisher: Poisoned Pen Press
Released: Dec. 5, 2017

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from NetGalley:
In the winter of 1942, England lies cold and dark in the wartime blackout. One bleak evening, Councillor Grayling steps off the 6.12 from Euston, carrying £120 in cash, and oblivious to the fate that awaits him in the snow-covered suburbs.

Inspector Holly draws up a list of Grayling's fellow passengers: his distrusted employee Charles Evetts, the charming Hugh Rolandson, and an unknown refugee from Nazi Germany, among others. Inspector Holly will soon discover that each passenger harbours their own dark secrets, and that the councillor had more than one enemy among them.

First published in 1943, Raymond Postgate's wartime murder mystery combines rich characters and a fascinating depiction of life on the home front.


My Review:
Somebody at the Door is a mystery set in 1942 in England and was originally published in 1943. A man is murdered using mustard gas, and the police investigate his fellow train passengers. Instead of a typical investigation, we get a series of short stories showing the background of each suspect with events occurring from his point of view. One of these stories was quite exciting. Some were interesting and showed what England was like at the time (Home Guard duties, blackout, etc.). The Inspector also learned this background information, and it helped eliminate some suspects and provided motive and opportunity for others.

I did figure out whodunit from those stories and my guess was confirmed when the Inspector questioned a few people and turned up the final clues. Yet much of the information in the stories was filler--maybe interesting in a historical sense but having little to do with the mystery. Even the exciting sub-story could have been summarized in a paragraph as that person wasn't a strong suspect. Basically, this story may appeal more to fans of historical novels than of whodunit mysteries.

There were no sex scenes, though there was a description of a nude female's breasts. There was some bad language. Overall, I'd recommend this historical mystery.


If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.


Excerpt: Read an excerpt using Google Preview.

Friday, December 1, 2017

The Forgotten Sisters by Shannon Hale

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Princess Academy:
The Forgotten Sisters
by Shannon Hale


ISBN-13: 978-1-61963-485-5
Hardcover: 323 pages
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing
Released: March 3, 2015

Source: ARC review copy from the publisher through Amazon Vine.

Book Description, Modified from Goodreads:
After a year at the king’s palace, Miri has learned all about being a proper princess. Instead of returning to her beloved Mount Eskel, Miri is ordered to journey to a distant swamp and start a princess academy for three sisters, cousins of the royal family. Unfortunately, Astrid, Felissa, and Sus are more interested in hunting and fishing than becoming princesses.

As Miri spends more time with the sisters, she realizes the king and queen’s interest in them hides a long-buried secret. She must unravel the mystery, protect the girls, complete her assignment, and finally make her way home.


My Review:
The Forgotten Sisters is a young adult fantasy novel. It's the third in a series, but you don't need to read the previous novels to understand this one. However, if you read this one before the others, much of the suspense of the first novel will be spoiled. The first novel is very worth reading, so I'd recommend reading these in order.

Miri is a determined and adaptable young lady who wants to go home but is ordered to first teach three girls how to be princesses. She makes a bargain: she'll do the teaching in return for ownership of the land her village uses, otherwise their land is about to be sold out from under them. No one realizes the challenge they set her. She (and the sisters) have to be clever and very adaptable to push past every challenge and make things right.

I like how the girls paid attention to what was going on, worked well together as a team, and used their skills in unique ways to solve problems. The characters were likable and reacted realistically to events. There was no bad language or sex. Overall, I'd highly recommend this fun novel.

If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.


Sunday, November 26, 2017

Death in the Stacks by Jenn McKinlay

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Death in the Stacks
by Jenn McKinlay


ISBN-13: 9780399583759
Hardcover: 304 pages
Publisher: Berkley Prime Crime
Released: Nov. 14, 2017

Source: Review copy from the publisher.

Book Description, Modified from Goodreads:
Lindsey Norris and her staff are gearing up for the Briar Creek Library's annual Dinner in the Stacks fund-raiser. The night of dinner and dancing is not only a booklover's dream--it's the library's biggest moneymaker of the year. But instead of raising funds, the new library board president is busy raising a stink and making the staff miserable.

Although Olive Boyle acts like a storybook villain, Lindsey is determined to work with her and make the event a success. But when Olive publicly threatens the library's newest hire, Paula, Lindsey cracks like an old book spine and throws Olive out of the library.

The night of the fund-raiser, Lindsey dreads another altercation with Olive--but instead finds Paula crouched over Olive's dead body. As the plot thickens, Lindsey must catch the real killer before the book closes on Paula's future


My Review:
Death in the Stacks is a cozy mystery. It's the eighth in a series. You don't need to read the previous books to understand this one, and this book didn't spoil the whodunits of the previous mysteries.

This was a clue-based mystery. Since so many people had secrets that they didn't want Olive to reveal, it was more an exercise of eliminating suspects through alibis than finding clues that pointed to a specific killer. Whodunit had occurred to me shortly before the big reveal, but the author spun things in a way that made me wonder if that person would end up being the killer. The suspense scene at the end was caused by Lindsey and her friends trying to save someone. Lindsey locking herself--unarmed--inside a house with a killer inside and help outside wasn't her most brilliant moment.

There were no sex scenes. There was some bad language. Overall, it was an 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, November 24, 2017

Death at Thorburn Hall by Julianna Deering

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Death at Thorburn Hall
by Julianna Deering


ISBN-13: 9780764218293
Paperback: 336 pages
Publisher: Bethany House Publishers
Released: Nov. 7, 2017

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from Goodreads:
Drew Farthering arrives in idyllic Scotland for the 1935 British Open at Muirfield hoping for a relaxing vacation, but he soon finds a mystery on his hands. Lord Rainsby, his host at Thorburn Hall, fears his business partner may be embezzling and asks Drew to quietly investigate. Before Drew can uncover anything, Rainsby is killed in a suspicious riding accident.

As Drew continues to dig, he suspects that the motive may relate to international events. Together with Madeline and Nick, he must sort through shady business dealings, international intrigue, and family tensions to find a killer who always seems to be one step ahead.


My Review:
Death at Thorburn Hall is a historical mystery set in 1935 in England. It's the sixth book in a series. You don't need to read the previous novels to understand this one, and this novel didn't spoil the previous mysteries.

The characters had depth and reacted realistically to events. The mystery was a clue-based puzzle with some complexity. I was pretty certain of whodunit by about 75% of the way in and and only became more convinced as the story finished. It took Drew a little longer to figure out whodunit, but I felt that the reasons he didn't see it sooner were reasonable.

The main characters were Christian, and Carrie struggled with trusting God with her future (and Nick's safety). There were no sex scenes or bad language. Overall, I'd recommend this exciting 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, November 19, 2017

Better Late Than Never by Jenn McKinlay

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Better Late Than Never
by Jenn McKinlay


ISBN-13: 9780451488640
Mass Market Paperback:
304 pages
Publisher: Berkley Prime Crime
Released: Nov. 7, 2017

Source: Review copy from the publisher.

Book Description, Modified from Goodreads:
When the Briar Creek Public Library holds its first overdue book amnesty day--no fines for late returns--the volume of incoming materials is more than Lindsey and her staff can handle. But one tardy tome catches her attention--a copy of J. D. Salinger's The Catcher in the Rye, twenty years past due. When Lindsey looks up the borrower, she's shocked to discover it was a murdered teacher named Candice Whitley, whose killer was never found. Candice checked out the novel on the day she was murdered. Now Lindsey wonders if it could provide a clue to the decades-old cold case. No one noticed who brought the book back in, but could it be Candice's killer? Lindsey is determined to catch the culprit one way or another, because justice for Candice Whitley is long overdue...


My Review:
Better Late Than Never is a cozy mystery. It's the seventh in a series. You don't need to read the previous books to understand this one, and this book didn't spoil the whodunits of the previous mysteries.

This was a clue-based mystery. Lindsey picked up on connections between the cold case and some current events, asked questions, and looked at old pictures of the people involved. Because of her ability to make connections, Lindsey asked a critical question that would narrow things down and figured out whodunit right before finding herself in danger from that person. The main characters were entertaining, quirky, nice people.

There were no sex scenes. There was occasional use of bad language. Overall, it was an 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.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

City of Lies by Victoria Thompson

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City of Lies
by Victoria Thompson


ISBN-13: 9780399586576
Hardcover: 304 pages
Publisher: Berkley Prime Crime
Released: Nov. 7, 2017

Source: Review copy from the publisher.

Book Description, Modified from Goodreads:
Like most women, Elizabeth Miles assumes many roles; unlike most, hers have made her a woman on the run. Living on the edge of society, Elizabeth uses her guile to relieve so-called respectable men of their ill-gotten gains. But brutal and greedy entrepreneur Oscar Thornton is out for blood. He’s lost a great deal of money and is not going to forgive a woman for outwitting him. With his thugs hot on her trail, Elizabeth seizes the moment to blend in with a group of suffragists who have an agenda of their own.

She never expects to like or understand these privileged women, but she soon comes to respect their intentions, forming an unlikely bond with two of the women--a young woman her own age and an older woman with a grown son, Gideon. Gideon is the rarest of species—an honest man in a dishonest world. She knows she’s playing a risky game, and her deception could be revealed at any moment, possibly even by sharp-eyed Gideon. Nor has she been forgotten by Thornton. Elizabeth must draw on her wits and every last ounce of courage she possesses to keep her new life from being cut short by this vicious shadow from her past.


My Review:
City of Lies is a historical suspense set in 1917, mainly in New York. Elizabeth works as part of a group to con wealthy men. When a con goes wrong and thugs are on her heels, she joins a group of suffragists and makes sure they get arrested. She'll be safer in jail! However, these suffragists are treated poorly and decide to go on a hunger strike. That wasn't what she had in mind. Still, Elizabeth becomes genuine friends with two of the women while Gideon works to get his mother and the other women freed.

The man that she helped con is determined to get his revenge, so Elizabeth must use all her wits (and many lies) to stay alive. I was never sure quite what was going to happen next. Both the type of con and what the suffragists went through are historically accurate, though our main characters are, of course, fictional. It's an interesting bit of history, cleverly woven into the exciting story.

While I understand that Elizabeth's pretty and that Gideon likes strong women, I still wonder about a man who refuses to lie falling for a woman who lies to the point he can't identify when she's telling the truth. There was a minor amount of bad language. There was no sex. Overall, I'd highly recommend this exciting 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.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Repost: Lady Jayne Disappears by Joanna Davidson Politano

I believe Revell is asking me to post my review of this book now even though I already posted it last month. So, to keep the publisher happy, here's a repost. For those getting my review via email, my usual Friday book review (for a new Christian historical romantic comedy) may be at the bottom of this 3-review stack.

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Lady Jayne Disappears
by Joanna Davidson Politano


ISBN-13: 9780800728755
Paperback: 411 pages
Publisher: Revell
Released: Oct. 3, 2017

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from NetGalley:
When Aurelie Harcourt's father dies in debtor's prison, all he leaves her is his famous pen name, Nathaniel Droll. His wealthy sister gives her a home the moment she learns about her existence, but her daughter greets her with resentment. Only the quiet houseguest, Silas Rotherham, and her aunt's granddaughter welcomes her company.

Aurelie decides to complete her father's unfinished serial novel while searching for the truth about the disappearance of Lady Jayne, her mother. She deals with her anger at how the family treats her by writing the family into the story as unflattering characters. But this soon makes it difficult to keep her identity as Nathaniel Droll hidden.


My Review:
Lady Jayne Disappears is Christian romance set in 1861 in England. The book was mostly about Aurelie learning to write stories. She did little investigation into her mother's disappearance, generally content with her own explanations. The moment she met a person, she'd write a fictional story for them, not bothering to learn the truth until reality forced her to change her opinion.

I liked Silas, who was kind and thoughtful. Aurelie seemed an unintentional contradiction, though. She grew up among prisoners, which allows her to write realistic characters. Yet she usually acted like she grew up completely sheltered from the real world. She's very trusting, idealistic, and sweet. She easily overlooked sin in practically everyone but was very judgmental of her own relatives.

Unfortunately, the story wasn't very realistic or historically accurate. Some errors were little details, like the description of the whist game didn't sound like how whist was actually played. Or inconsistencies, like how Silas was surprised that the jail-keeper didn't fed the prisoners free meat each day. Silas was poor once and should have known that the poor could rarely afford meat. He also wouldn't have expected the jail-keeper to spend his own money to provide it. Many details about debtor's prison were portrayed in a misleading or inaccurate way. For example, Aurelie stated that the debtors weren't allowed to work (except her father). In real life, debtors could work within the prison to earn money, some debtor's were allowed to leave during the day to work, and family members could work. The author also gave the heroine and hero modern views and sometimes characters used modern phrases.

Aurelie was a strong Christian who meditated on verses and frequently prayed for people. There was no sex or bad language. Overall, I enjoyed the characters, but many holes in the story were never explained and errors and inconsistencies kept jerking me out of the 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.

Repost: Dangerous Illusions by Irene Hannon

I believe Revell is asking me to post my review of this book now even though I already posted it last month. So, to keep the publisher happy, here's a repost of an excellent book.

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Dangerous Illusions
by Irene Hannon


ISBN-13: 9780800727673
Paperback: 352 pages
Publisher: Revell
Released: Oct. 3, 2017

Source: Review copy from the publisher.

Book Description from Gooderads:
Trish Bailey is on overload trying to deal with a demanding job, an ailing mother, and a healing heart. When a series of unsettling memory lapses leads to a tragic death--and puts Trish under police scrutiny--her world is once again thrown into turmoil.

Detective Colin Flynn isn't certain what to think of the facts he uncovers during his investigation. Did Trish simply make a terrible mistake or is there more to the case than meets the eye? As he searches for answers, disturbing information begins to emerge--and if the forces at work are as evil as he suspects, the situation isn't just dangerous . . . it's deadly.


My Review:
Dangerous Illusions is a Christian romantic suspense novel. It's the first book in a new series, but it's also a stand-alone novel. It's one of my favorite by this author.

Trish has been through a lot of loss and heartbreak. She's used to taking care of herself (and others), so she initially had a hard time "bothering" Colin to ask for help. But even though she's independent, she was sensible and wasn't stubborn about having her own way.

We know who the cruel bad guy is and his goals, so we can see the danger even when Trish has every reason to think there is none. Still, Trish did start putting the pieces together pretty quickly, told her idea to Colin, and he promptly investigated the angle she suggested. I liked that he was supportive, caring, and respected her. While I strongly suspected how the end suspense was going to play out, I still had a pounding heart as I read it, partly because she was afraid and I cared about what she was going through.

The main characters were Christians, though Colin started out feeling like praying was pointless. We mainly saw their faith through how they treated people and what they cared about. There were no sex scenes or bad language. Overall, I'd recommend this suspenseful, intriguing novel.


If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.


Excerpt: Read an excerpt using Google Preview.

Out of the Ordinary by Jen Turano

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Out of the Ordinary
by Jen Turano


ISBN-13: 9780764217951
Paperback: 352 pages
Publisher: Bethany House
Released: Nov. 7, 2017

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from NetGalley:
As Miss Gertrude Cadwalader, paid companion, becomes acquainted with her employer, she realizes the wealthy Mrs. Davenport has a strange tendency to be a bit light-fingered with other people's trinkets. Gertrude is relieved when Mrs. Davenport decides to have a quiet summer away from the social scene--until the woman changes her mind in order to help a young socialite launch into society.

When Gertrude is caught in the act of trying to return one of the trinkets by Mrs. Sinclair, the mother of shipping magnate Harrison Sinclair, the woman jumps to an unfortunate conclusion. Harrison is determined to mend fences with Miss Cadwalader, but he's unprepared for the escapades that courting her will entail.


My Review:
Out of the Ordinary is a Christian romantic comedy set in June 1883 in New York. It's the second in a series. This book can be read as a stand alone since each book has different main characters. However, Gertrude and Harrison first meet in the previous book, so they refer back to events in that book, and the main characters in the previous novel played a role in this one.

The main characters were nice people with a good sense of humor. They ended up in a series of silly situations during which they got to know and care about each other. There were some phrases that were too modern and some behavior that was improbable for the time, so don't expect high historical accuracy. There wasn't a lot of action in this story. For example, about 25% of the story occurred in one room on a yacht. People exchanged lengthy, humorous dialogue, even when in a hurry.

There was also a long, sad confession by Mrs. Davenport explaining why she acts they way she does. Both Mrs. Davenport and Gertrude feel like they're not worthy of God's love, and Gertrude has stayed as Mrs. Davenport's companion in an attempt to make atonement for her failure to save her mother. Both come to accept God's love. There was no sex or bad language. Overall, I'd recommend this humorous 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 12, 2017

The Last Best Friend by George Sims

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The Last Best Friend
by George Sims


ISBN-13: 9781464209000
Paperback: 192 pages
Publisher: Poisoned Pen Press
Released: Nov. 7, 2017

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from NetGalley:
At 2pm on a Monday in 1966, Ned Balfour wakes in Corsica beside a beautiful woman. In the same instant, back in London, fellow art dealer and Dachau survivor Sam Weiss falls ten stories to his death. Ned refuses to believe that Sam's death was intentional, and his investigation thrusts him into the deceit and fraudulence of the art world, where he unmasks more than one respectable face.


My Review:
The Last Best Friend is a mystery set mostly in England in 1966 and was originally published in 1967. The mystery involved something that happened during WWII. However, the first 27% of the story was mostly a mid-aged man (Ned Balfour) carrying on an affair with a girl half his age and, later on, having sex with a friend of his wife. The actual sex happened "off screen" and was thought or talked about using euphemistic terms, but there was one scene with graphically described upper body female nudity.

Anyway, it took a while for Ned to decide that his best friend's death was suspicious and that he should look into what his friend was doing that last week. He wasn't particularly clever in how he tracked down clues. Sam's other friends passed on most of the needed information, and some thugs let him know that he was on the right track. Once all of the information came together, Ned tried to deal with it himself before finally deciding to tell the police what he knew. Vengeance is his. There was some bad language. Overall, I'd recommend this interesting mystery (though it took a while to get going).


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 10, 2017

Christmas on the Run by Shirlee McCoy

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Christmas on the Run
by Shirlee McCoy


ISBN-13: 9780373457403
Mass Market Paperback:
224 pages
Publisher: Love Inspired Suspense
Released: Nov. 7, 2017

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from Goodreads:
Master gemstone cutter Carly Rose Kelley will do anything to keep her son safe. But with blackmailers insisting she forge priceless antique stones or they'll kidnap her son, she needs help. With Christmas days away, the desperate widow has only one hope--the brother-in-law she never met.

Hostage rescue specialist Dallas Morgan never knew about his nephew or his estranged late brother's wife. Now their lives are in his hands. But the sweet child and vulnerable woman remind Dallas of the family he once had and lost. And he can't afford distraction. Now that they're trapped in the sights of ruthless blackmailers, nowhere is safe...but Dallas won't let anyone stand in the way of him saving Carly and her little boy.


My Review:
Christmas on the Run is a Christian suspense novel. It's the eighth book in a series, but it works as a stand-alone novel. The characters were surprised when they discovered the person ultimately behind the jewelry scheme, but I wasn't, though I think it was meant to be unexpected. I even wondered why they didn't checked up on that person more. Still, suspense novels are about staying alive while stopping the bad guys, not about whodunit.

The characters were nice people. Carly struggled with following Dallas' orders (that were meant to keep her and her son safe) since she's used to doing things her way. But she did ask for help, so she tried to trust and cooperate. Dallas struggled with his grief over losing his family around this time of year some years back--children that would have been about the age of Carly's son. The suspense was the physical danger to everyone and Carly and Dallas's emotional turmoil over their attraction to each other.

The Christian element was learning to accept that God is Sovereign even when things don't go the way we'd handle things. There was no sex or bad language. Overall, I'd recommend this enjoyable suspense 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.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Not a Creature Was Purring by Krista Davis

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Not a Creature Was Purring
by Krista Davis


ISBN-13: 9781101988589
Mass Market Paperback:
304 pages
Publisher: Berkley Prime Crime
Released: Nov. 7, 2017

Source: Review copy from the publisher.

Book Description, Modified from Goodreads:
In the pet-friendly town of Wagtail, Virginia. Inspired by her German heritage, Holly's grandmother has arranged for Wagtail to have a Christkindl Market packed with goodies and decorations for the howliday tourists. But Holly's mood takes an unseasonable turn when she learns that her old flame and childhood friend Holmes Richardson has brought his fiancee home--and she'll be staying at the Sugar Maple Inn...

A love triangle becomes the last thing on Holly's mind when her Jack Russell Trixie's nose for trouble leads her to the corpse of a pet clothing tycoon. Now Holly and her dedicated detectives--Trixie and Twinkletoes the cat--must sniff out the killer to keep Christmas from going to the dogs...


My Review:
Not a Creature Was Purring is a cozy mystery. It's the fifth book in a series. You don't need to read the previous books to understand this story, and this book didn't spoil the previous ones. Holly's dog has a talent for finding dead bodies, and her cat likes to snag clues.

Holly is a mature, nice person whose inn happened to house the main suspects, a family who squabbles every Christmas. When the rich patriarch of the family dies, the family wants to know who gets the money and Holly wants to know who had a motive. Since everyone was acting suspicious and potentially had a motive, this didn't get Holly very far. There were clues, but it was basically the pets (though they're normal animals) who stopped whodunit with evidence in hand. But most of the details about how the murder was done were never explained, so I'm still curious...

The Christmas activities and love triangle of Holly, Holmes, and his fiancee (who was also a suspect) filled out the story. There was no sex or 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.

Friday, November 3, 2017

Sword and Sorceress 32 by Elisabeth Waters

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Sword and Sorceress 32
edited by Elisabeth Waters


ISBN-13: 9781938185489
Paperback: 318 pages
Publisher: Marion Zimmer Bradley Literary Works Trust
Released: Nov. 2, 2017

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from NetGalley:
Women of Sorcery and Courage. For over two decades, the late Marion Zimmer Bradley, best-selling and beloved author, discovered and nurtured a new generation of authors. The original stories featured here include such stellar authors as Mercedes Lackey, Dave Smeds, Deborah J. Ross, Robin Wayne Bailey, Pauline J. Alama, and exciting newcomers whose voices are sure to be heard again.


My Review:
I used to read Sword and Sorceress back twenty years ago, and I remember enjoying the clever fantasy stories. I suppose I should have known that the content would change over the course of 20 years.

Sword and Sorceress 32 is a collection of 18 short fantasy stories with a female main character. It seemed like nearly all of them had witches. (Back when I last read S&S, some of these women would have been called a sorceress or magician, but I guess "witch" sells these days). About half of the stories had the dead (ghosts, zombies) playing a major role. I don't really care for ghost stories. Several of those stories had a heroine who faced an overwhelming force summon the dead (or fey, in one case) to win the battle.

I preferred the stories were the heroines faced a big challenge and used cleverness to figure out a simple, successful solution. Several stories were humorous, like "Woman's Work" by Pauline J. Alama. Others came up with an unusual idea, like "Expiration Date" by Julia H. West. Overall, I enjoyed about a fourth of the stories. There was no sex. There was occasional use of bad language (and some stories didn't have any).

The Sound of the Moon by Robin Wayne Bailey
A Librarian in Distress by Rose Strickman
Wight Nights by Steve Chapman
Unexpected by Suzan Harden
The Nature of Wraiths by Dave Smeds
Royal Daughters by Elaine Cunningham
The Girl from Black Point Rock by Deborah J. Ross
Shaman's Quest by Kevin L. O'Brien
Save a Prayer by Mercedes Lackey
Add a Cup of Terror by Michael Spence & Elisabeth Waters
Deadly Questions by Jonathan Shipley
Sky, Clouds, and Sonam by Catherine Mintz
Hostages of Honeycomb by Marian Allen
Woman's Work by Pauline J. Alama
Authority Figures by Michael H. Payne
Till the Cows Come Home by L.S. Patton
Expiration Date by Julia H. West
Finding Truth by Lorie Calkins


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 1, 2017

Mrs. Jeffries and the Three Wise Women by Emily Brightwell

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Mrs. Jeffries and the Three Wise Women
by Emily Brightwell


ISBN-13: 9780399584220
Hardcover: 288 pages
Publisher: Berkley Prime Crime
Released: Oct. 17, 2017

Source: Review copy from the publisher.

Book Description, Modified from Goodreads:
Christopher Gilhaney insults every guest at Abigail Chase’s Guy Fawkes Night dinner party. But when Gilhaney is shot dead under the cover of the night’s fireworks, his murder is deemed a robbery gone wrong. When the case hasn’t been solved six weeks later, Inspector Witherspoon is called upon to find the killer—and quickly!

With Christmas almost here, Inspector Witherspoon and everyone in his household is upset at the possibility of having to cancel their holiday plans—all to solve a case that seems impossible. Only Luty Belle, Ruth, and Mrs. Goodge refuse to give up and let the crime become a cold case. In fact, the American heiress, the charming next-door neighbor, and the formidable cook use all of their persuasive powers to get the others on board, because these three wise women know justice doesn’t take time off for Christmas.


My Review:
Mrs. Jeffries and the Three Wise Women is a historical mystery set in England in the 1890's. It's the thirty-sixth book in a series. You don't need to read the previous books to understand this one, and this book didn't spoil the whodunit of the previous books. The story isn't heavily historical, though there were enough details to provide a historical feel.

Our crime-solving crew got a "cold case" to solve, and they're upset that their Christmas plans may be spoiled by the case. They've never handled a cold case before, and they're not sure they can solve it. The characters were engaging and realistic, though not highly complex. It's a clue-based puzzle mystery. While we started with a large number of suspects, the actual mystery didn't turn out to be very complex as the clues narrowed things down. I strongly suspected whodunit and the motive from the start. Still, the investigation was fun.

There was no sex. There was a very minor amount of 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.

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Murder for Christmas by Francis Duncan

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Murder for Christmas
by Francis Duncan


ISBN-13: 9781492651703
Paperback: 352 pages
Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark
Released: Oct. 1, 2017

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from Goodreads:
When Mordecai Tremaine arrives at the country retreat of one Benedict Grame on Christmas Eve, he discovers that the revelries are in full swing in the sleepy village of Sherbroome--but so too are tensions amongst the assortment of guests.

When midnight strikes, the partygoers discover that presents aren't the only things nestled under the tree...there's a dead body too. Someone wearing a Father Christmas outfit. With the snow falling and suspicions flying, it's up to Mordecai to sniff out the culprit--and prevent anyone else from getting murder for Christmas.


My Review:
Murder for Christmas is a mystery that was originally published in 1949 and is set in England. Mordecai, an amateur sleuth with a reputation for solving murders, has been invited to a Christmas Eve party. The host is known for putting on a Father Christmas costume and placing a present for each guest on the tree after everyone has gone to bed. The party is hardly a happy one, so it's not too surprising that they find a dead body under the tree.

Mordecai observed behavior, asked good questions, and looked harmless enough that he got clues from guests even though they're wary of him. It wasn't too difficult to figure out what was going on and why the guests might have a motive to kill--but not why they'd kill the dead man. While I did suspect whodunit, I couldn't figure out why whodunit would murder anyone so I didn't feel very certain about whodunit. I still don't quite follow whodunit's motive, though it's clear whodunit spent more time thinking out the perfect crime than about the possible results.

There was no sex. There was a minor amount of 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.

Friday, October 27, 2017

Lady Jayne Disappears by Joanna Davidson Politano

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Lady Jayne Disappears
by Joanna Davidson Politano


ISBN-13: 9780800728755
Paperback: 411 pages
Publisher: Revell
Released: Oct. 3, 2017

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from NetGalley:
When Aurelie Harcourt's father dies in debtor's prison, all he leaves her is his famous pen name, Nathaniel Droll. His wealthy sister gives her a home the moment she learns about her existence, but her daughter greets her with resentment. Only the quiet houseguest, Silas Rotherham, and her aunt's granddaughter welcomes her company.

Aurelie decides to complete her father's unfinished serial novel while searching for the truth about the disappearance of Lady Jayne, her mother. She deals with her anger at how the family treats her by writing the family into the story as unflattering characters. But this soon makes it difficult to keep her identity as Nathaniel Droll hidden.


My Review:
Lady Jayne Disappears is Christian romance set in 1861 in England. The book was mostly about Aurelie learning to write stories. She did little investigation into her mother's disappearance, generally content with her own explanations. The moment she met a person, she'd write a fictional story for them, not bothering to learn the truth until reality forced her to change her opinion.

I liked Silas, who was kind and thoughtful. Aurelie seemed an unintentional contradiction, though. She grew up among prisoners, which allows her to write realistic characters. Yet she usually acted like she grew up completely sheltered from the real world. She's very trusting, idealistic, and sweet. She easily overlooked sin in practically everyone but was very judgmental of her own relatives.

Unfortunately, the story wasn't very realistic or historically accurate. Some errors were little details, like the description of the whist game didn't sound like how whist was actually played. Or inconsistencies, like how Silas was surprised that the jail-keeper didn't fed the prisoners free meat each day. Silas was poor once and should have known that the poor could rarely afford meat. He also wouldn't have expected the jail-keeper to spend his own money to provide it. Many details about debtor's prison were portrayed in a misleading or inaccurate way. For example, Aurelie stated that the debtors weren't allowed to work (except her father). In real life, debtors could work within the prison to earn money, some debtor's were allowed to leave during the day to work, and family members could work. The author also gave the heroine and hero modern views and sometimes characters used modern phrases.

Aurelie was a strong Christian who meditated on verses and frequently prayed for people. There was no sex or bad language. Overall, I enjoyed the characters, but many holes in the story were never explained and errors and inconsistencies kept jerking me out of the 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.

Monday, October 23, 2017

The Dishonorable Miss Delancey by Carolyn Miller

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The Dishonorable Miss Delancey
by Carolyn Miller


ISBN-13: 9780825444524
Paperback: 296 pages
Publisher: Kregel
Released: Oct. 24, 2017

Source: Review copy from the publisher.

Book Description, Modified from Goodreads:
Will a damaged reputation and desire for society's approval thwart the legacy of grace?

Tainted by scandal and forced to leave London for the quieter Brighton countryside, the Honorable Miss Clara DeLancey is a shadow of her former society self. She's lost the man she loved to another and, in a culture that has no patience for self-pity, is struggling with depression. A chance encounter brings her a healing friendship with the sisters of an injured naval captain. But Clara's society mama is appalled at the new company she's keeping.

Captain Benjamin Kemsley is not looking for a wife. But his gallant spirit won't let him ignore the penniless viscount's daughter--not when she so obviously needs assistance to keep moving forward from day to day. Can he protect his heart and still keep her safe?

When they're pushed into the highest echelons of society at the Prince Regent's Brighton Pavilion, this mismatched couple must decide if family honor is more important than their hopes. Can they right the wrongs of the past and find future happiness together?


My Review:
The Dishonorable Miss Delancey is a Christian historical novel set in 1815 in England. It's the third book in the series. While the book can be read as a stand-alone, Miss DeLancey has had a notable role in the previous two novels. This story referred back to those events but did not provide much detail. The reader might understand Clara's behavior better if they've read the previous stories.

Clara can't understand what's so wrong with her that the man she loved (and she thought liked her) so thoroughly rejected her. Now that her dowry money has gone to pay off her scandalous brother's gambling debts, no man seems interested in offering for her hand. Gossip says she's desperate and misconstrues everything she does as dishonorable. Her parents still intend for her to marry someone of rank, so the kind brother of her new female friends may enjoy her company but doesn't have a chance.

While Clara and Ben seem well-suited to each other, the focus wasn't really on them falling in love. Rather, the story was about Clara changing as she learned to forgive and bless the people she resented. The characters developed and grew as events unfold. Ben rescued Clara from danger (ranging from kidnapping to assault) several times, and Clara attempted to help Ben by using her remaining influence. The author wove details about the period and the places into the story.

Part of Clara's transformation included growing closer to God and praying blessings on others. There was no bad language or sex. Overall, I'd 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.


Excerpt: Read an excerpt using Google Preview.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Snowdrift and Other Stories by Georgette Heyer

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Snowdrift and Other Stories
by Georgette Heyer


ISBN-13: 9781492650461
Paperback: 304 pages
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Released: Oct. 3, 2017

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description from Goodreads:
The Queen of Regency Romance, Georgette Heyer, shines in this sparkling collection of fourteen short stories brimming with romance, intrigue, villainy, gallant heroes, compelling heroines, and, of course, the dazzling world of the Regency period.

Additional content in this re-issue of the Pistols for Two collection includes three of Heyer's earliest short stories, rarely seen since their original publication in the 1930s, as well as a Foreword by Heyer's official biographer, Jennifer Kloester.


My Review:
Snowdrift and Other Stories is a collection of 14 short stories by Georgette Heyer. Since the stories were so short, they were usually "love at first sight" romances with the focus on the humorous events surrounding their meeting. The hero and heroine rarely had time to actually get to know the other, and it wasn't always clear what attracted the man to the woman. In several of these short stories, you can see the core idea that was expanded into a novel. Many of the stories involved a couple racing after an eloping couple to stop them. There were also several stories involving humorous duels.

There was no sex. There was occasional use of bad language. Overall, I'd recommend this collection to Heyer fans.

The stories included in the collection:
Snowdrift
Full Moon
Pistols for Two
A Clandestine Affair
Bath Miss
Pink Domino
A Husband for Fanny
To Have the Honour
Night at the Inn
The Duel
Hazard
Pursuit
Runaway Match
Incident on the Bath Road


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 20, 2017

Blind Spot by Dani Pettrey

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Blind Spot
by Dani Pettrey


ISBN-13: 9780764212963
Paperback: 336 pages
Publisher: Bethany House Publishers
Released: Oct. 3, 2017

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from NetGalley:
FBI agent Declan Grey is in the chase of his life--but isn't sure exactly what he's chasing after. Threatened by a terrorist that "the wrath is coming," Grey fears something horrible is about to be unleashed on American soil. When his investigation leads him to a closed immigrant community, he turns to Tanner Shaw to help him. She's sought justice for refugees and the hurting around the world, and if there's anyone who can help him, it's Tanner.

Tanner Shaw has joined the FBI as a crisis counselor . . . meaning she now has more opportunity to butt heads with Declan about his over-protectiveness. But before anything can develop between them, they discover evidence of a terror cell--and soon are in a race against the clock to stop the coming "wrath" that could cost thousands their lives.


My Review:
Blind Spot is a Christian romantic suspense novel. It's the third book in a series. It's not really a stand-alone novel as main characters from the previous novels have point-of-view roles in this one and there are two ongoing cases being investigated throughout the series.

The characters made some progress on the ongoing cases, including uncovering a terrorist plot. They also had to solve a murder. The suspense came from trying to uncover and stop the terrorist plot before the bad guys pull it off or manage to kill Declan or Tanner (as they're on a hit list). With so much going on, the romance was mostly the two working together and feeling like they're a good influence on each other. Tanner revealed a secret about her past which actually helped resolve a source of conflict between the two.

The characters prayed to God to help them with the case and keep them safe. There was no sex or bad language. Overall, I'd recommend this exciting 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.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Dangerous Illusions by Irene Hannon

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Dangerous Illusions
by Irene Hannon


ISBN-13: 9780800727673
Paperback: 352 pages
Publisher: Revell
Released: Oct. 3, 2017

Source: Review copy from the publisher.

Book Description from Gooderads:
Trish Bailey is on overload trying to deal with a demanding job, an ailing mother, and a healing heart. When a series of unsettling memory lapses leads to a tragic death--and puts Trish under police scrutiny--her world is once again thrown into turmoil.

Detective Colin Flynn isn't certain what to think of the facts he uncovers during his investigation. Did Trish simply make a terrible mistake or is there more to the case than meets the eye? As he searches for answers, disturbing information begins to emerge--and if the forces at work are as evil as he suspects, the situation isn't just dangerous . . . it's deadly.


My Review:
Dangerous Illusions is a Christian romantic suspense novel. It's the first book in a new series, but it's also a stand-alone novel. It's one of my favorite by this author.

Trish has been through a lot of loss and heartbreak. She's used to taking care of herself (and others), so she initially had a hard time "bothering" Colin to ask for help. But even though she's independent, she was sensible and wasn't stubborn about having her own way.

We know who the cruel bad guy is and his goals, so we can see the danger even when Trish has every reason to think there is none. Still, Trish did start putting the pieces together pretty quickly, told her idea to Colin, and he promptly investigated the angle she suggested. I liked that he was supportive, caring, and respected her. While I strongly suspected how the end suspense was going to play out, I still had a pounding heart as I read it, partly because she was afraid and I cared about what she was going through.

The main characters were Christians, though Colin started out feeling like praying was pointless. We mainly saw their faith through how they treated people and what they cared about. There were no sex scenes or bad language. Overall, I'd recommend this suspenseful, intriguing novel.


If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.


Excerpt: Read an excerpt using Google Preview.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

The Dead Shall be Raised and The Murder of a Quack by George Bellairs

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The Dead Shall be Raised
and
The Murder of a Quack
by George Bellairs


ISBN-13: 9781464207341
Paperback: 364 pages
Publisher: Poisoned Pen Press
Released: Oct. 3, 2017

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from NetGalley:
Two classic cases featuring Detective Inspector Littlejohn.

In the winter of 1940, the Home Guard unearth a skeleton on the moor above the busy town of Hatterworth. Twenty-three years earlier, the body of a young engineer was found in the same spot, and the prime suspect was never found—but the second body is now identified as his. It's now clear that the true murderer is still at large.

* * *

Nathaniel Wall, the local quack doctor, is found hanging in his consulting room in the Norfolk village of Stalden—but this was not a suicide. Against the backdrop of a close-knit country village, an intriguing story of ambition, blackmail, fraud, false alibis and botanical trickery unravels.


My Review:
The Dead Shall be Raised and The Murder of a Quack are two mysteries that were originally published in the early 1940s. The first was set in 1940 at Christmas time and set in England. The second was set in 1942 in England.

The characters were described with a humorous touch, and the villagers and village life was described with more detail than most mysteries from this time period. The focus almost seemed more on the interesting characters than on creating a difficult mystery. The mysteries were clue-based and were interesting, but they weren't difficult for a reader to solve. In both cases, one person seemed a strong suspect from the start with a second character as a possibility. Inspector Littlejohn and the local police followed up on obvious leads and questioned people until he uncovered what happened.

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.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Death in St. Petersburg by Tasha Alexander

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Death in St. Petersburg
by Tasha Alexander


ISBN-13: 9781250058287
Hardcover: 304 pages
Publisher: Minotaur Books
Released: Oct. 10, 2017

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from NetGalley:
After the final curtain of Swan Lake, an animated crowd exits the Mariinsky theatre brimming with excitement from the night’s performance. But outside the scene is somber. A ballerina’s body lies face down in the snow, blood splattered like rose petals over the costume of the Swan Queen. The crowd is silenced by a single cry— “Nemetseva is dead!”

Amongst the theatergoers is Lady Emily, accompanying her dashing husband Colin in Russia on assignment from the Crown. But it soon becomes clear that Colin isn’t the only one with work to do. When the dead ballerina’s aristocratic lover comes begging for justice, Emily must apply her own set of skills to discover the rising star’s murderer. Her investigation takes her on a dance across the stage of Tsarist Russia, from the opulence of the Winter Palace, to the modest flats of ex-ballerinas and the locked attics of political radicals. A mysterious dancer in white follows closely behind, making waves through St. Petersburg with her surprise performances and trail of red scarves. Is it the sweet Katenka, Nemetseva’s childhood friend and favorite rival? The ghost of the murdered ├ętoile herself? Or, something even more sinister?


My Review:
Death in St. Petersburg is a mystery set in 1900 in St. Petersburg. It's the twelfth in a series. You can understand this book without reading the previous ones, and this book didn't spoil previous whodunits.

The author wove nice detail about the lives of ballet dancers and the political unrest in Russia into the story. The story switched between Emily investigating the death of a dancer in 1900 and events that happened to two dancers and their close friends in 1889 until the present time. Emily asked questions, followed up clues, and considered possible scenarios until she figured out what was going on and whodunit. She was intelligent, competent, and likable. The other characters were also interesting.

There were no sex scenes or 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.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

A Room With a Brew by Joyce Tremel

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A Room With a Brew
by Joyce Tremel


ISBN-13: 9780425277713
Mass Market Paperback:
304 pages
Publisher: Berkley Prime Crime
Released: Oct. 3, 2017

Source: Review copy from the publisher.

Book Description from Back Cover:
It's Oktoberfest in Pittsburgh, and brewpub owner Maxine "Max" O'Hara is prepping for a busy month at the Allegheny Brew House. To create the perfect atmosphere for the boozy celebration, Max hires an oompah band. But when one of the members from the band turns up dead, it's up to Max to solve the murder before the festivities are ruined.

Adding to the brewing trouble, Candy, Max's friend, is acting suspicious... Secrets from her past are fermenting under the surface, and Max must uncover the truth to prove her friend's innocence. To make matters worse, Jake's snooty ex-fiancee shows up in town for an art gallery opening, and she'll be nothing but a barrel of trouble for Max.


My Review:
A Room With a Brew is a cozy mystery. It's the third book in a series, but you can understand this book without reading the previous ones. However, this book did spoil certain events and motives in the previous mysteries (though not specifically whodunit).

The heroine and her friends were generally nice people. Max made some bad assumptions while investigating but at least took some basic precautions when dealing with potentially dangerous people. While I was able to figure out most of the who and why of the mystery, there was one part I hadn't guessed.

There was no sex. There was a minor amount of 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.

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Where We Belong by Lynn Austin

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Where We Belong
by Lynn Austin


ISBN-13: 9780764217623
Trade Paperback: 480 pages
Publisher: Bethany House
Released: Oct. 3, 2017

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from Goodreads:
In the city of Chicago in the late 1800's, the rules for Victorian women are strict, their roles limited. But sisters Rebecca and Flora Hawes are not typical Victorian ladies. Their love of adventure and their desire to use their God-given talents has brought them to the Sinai Desert--and into a sandstorm.

Accompanied by Soren Petersen, their somber young butler, and Kate Rafferty, a street urchin who is learning to be their ladies' maid, the two women are on a quest to find an important biblical manuscript. As the journey becomes more dangerous and uncertain, the four travelers sift through memories of their past, recalling the events that shaped them and the circumstances that brought them to this time and place.


My Review:
Where We Belong is historical fiction set in 1860 to 1890 in Chicago and all over the world. The framing narrative occurred in 1890 as the four main characters try to reach the monastery at Mt. Sinai, but the weather and uncooperative guides are making that difficult. We get flashbacks to when Rebecca and Flora were young (in 1860) on up to the current situation to show how events brought them to undertake this quest. Near the end, we also get flashbacks for their two servants, Kate and Soren, so we see how meeting the sisters changed their lives.

The overall theme was living a life filled with meaning by finding God's purposes for your life. Rebecca loves ancient manuscripts and travel while her sister loves helping the poor and orphans. Throughout their narrative, the sisters do a lot of traveling to France, England, Egypt, etc. The characters were interesting and acted realistically. While independent for their day, the sisters still came across as women of their time (rather than modern feminists transported back in time). Historical details were woven into the story and prompted some exciting adventures.

The sisters trusted God with their safety and future, and Rebecca looked for ancient biblical manuscripts to help defend the accuracy of the Bible. There was no sex or 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 6, 2017

Verdict of Twelve by Raymond Postgate

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Verdict of Twelve
by Raymond Postgate


ISBN-13: 9781464207907
Paperback: 256 pages
Publisher: Poisoned Pen Press
Released: Oct. 3, 2017

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from NetGalley:
A woman is on trial for her life, accused of murder. The twelve members of the jury each carry their own secret burden of guilt and prejudice which could affect the outcome. In this extraordinary crime novel, we follow the trial through the eyes of the jurors as they hear the evidence and try to reach a unanimous verdict. Will they find the defendant guilty, or not guilty? And will the jurors' decision be the correct one?

Since its first publication in 1940, Verdict of Twelve has been widely hailed as a classic of British crime writing. This edition offers a new generation of readers the chance to find out why so many leading commentators have admired the novel for so long.


My Review:
Verdict of Twelve is a mystery set in England that was originally published in 1940. The first part of the story (39% of the book) told the background of the twelve jurors. This might sound boring or perhaps like too much information, but the author kept it concise, interesting, and later referred to the jurors in such a way that it was easy to remember their background and see how it influenced their view of the case.

Part two told what had happened in the case as it happened with enough information that you can guess whodunit. Except it's not a clear case. Anyone could have read that clipping, several people benefited from the death, etc. Though I was pretty sure I knew whodunit, I worried that we'd never know for sure. Part three was the court case, with any repetition of information done to show how the lawyers presented it and how the jurors reacted to it.

I was surprised by how well the story kept my interest from start to finish. We learn the outcome of the case and what actually happened as someone witnessed it but didn't admit it until the case was over. There was no sex. There was a minor amount of bad language. Overall, I'd recommend this interesting, well-written 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, October 1, 2017

Christmas Amnesia by Laura Scott

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Christmas Amnesia
by Laura Scott


ISBN-13: 9780373457342
Paperback: 368 pages
Publisher: Love Inspired Suspense
Released: Oct. 3, 2017

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description from NetGalley:
Assaulted a week before a high-profile drug trafficking trial, assistant district attorney Madison Callahan narrowly escapes death…but suffers amnesia. Now, when she can't recall the identity of her attacker, everyone is suspect—except the handsome policeman who saved her.

Officer Noah Sinclair will do anything to bring the mob-connected drug trafficker to justice, including providing personal protection to Madison—the sister of the partner he nearly got killed. But helping her regain her memory may end their unlikely alliance because once she remembers him, Noah might be the last man she'll want to rely on.

As the trial looms and with the assailant dead set on ensuring that Madison doesn't survive to see Christmas, it'll take everything Noah's got to keep Madison alive.


My Review:
Christmas Amnesia is a Christian romantic suspense novel. It's the third in a series, but you can understand this book without reading the previous ones.

The suspense came from the bad guys constantly attacking the heroine and the chance that the drug trafficker would not be found guilty if the heroine didn't regain her memory. I was pleased that the amnesia only lasted long enough for Madison to get to know Noah and to start trusting men again. I enjoyed watching her in a more proactive mode--trying to save her case and stop the bad guys--after regaining her memory. I enjoyed the main characters.

The Christian element mainly involved some prayers at mealtimes and when in danger. They also talked about forgiving yourself and others. There was no sex or bad language. Overall, I'd recommend this suspenseful 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, September 29, 2017

A Dangerous Year by Kes Trester

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A Dangerous Year
by Kes Trester


ISBN-13: 9781620079072
Paperback: 255 pages
Publisher: Curiosity Quills Press
Released: Sept. 26, 2017

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from Goodreads:
Seventeen-year-old Riley Collins has grown up in some of the world’s most dangerous cities, learning political strategies from her ambassador dad and defensive skills from his security chief. The only thing they didn’t prepare her for: life as an American teenager.

After an incident forces her to leave her Pakistani home, Riley is recruited by the State Department to attend Harrington Academy, one of the most elite boarding schools in Connecticut. The catch: she must use her tactical skills to covertly keep an eye on Hayden Frasier, the daughter of a tech billionaire whose new code-breaking spyware has the international intelligence community in an uproar.

Disturbing signs begin to appear that Hayden might be in real danger and her protection much weaker than Riley was told.


My Review:
A Dangerous Year is a young adult novel. Much of the story was about Riley trying to fit in at school. From the title, I was expecting a story spanning a year focused on Riley protecting Hayden, but Riley only does this for a few weeks. Don't expect Riley to be a super-spy. She's given few instructions on how to do her new job, and she made common sense mistakes left and right. Things like getting very drunk or showing off that she can kick butt when she's supposed to be undercover. Her main weakness was an irresistible, hunky boy that Hayden warned her to stay away from. Riley's supposed to make friends with Hayden, but Riley forgot that every time she saw him.

Halfway into the book (and a couple weeks into the school term), Riley got a shipment of spy gear from home. She knew how to use it all (without instructions), and I was left confused: is she supposed to be a super-spy after all or are we supposed to be laughing at her mistakes? Well, she kept making basic mistakes and bad assumptions, didn't pass on information to her bosses like she was supposed to, put off looking into important clues, etc. I wasn't even surprised by the "surprise twists," but Riley sure was.

Don't get me wrong: it's a fun story and clearly meant to be humorous. But it's more teen high school drama than bodyguard detail. If you like that type of teen movie or TV show, then you'll probably enjoy the book. There was no sex. There was a fair amount 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.


Monday, September 25, 2017

Deadly Proof by Rachel Dylan

book cover
Deadly Proof
by Rachel Dylan


ISBN-13: 9780764219801
Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: Bethany House
Released: Sept. 5, 2017

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description from NetGalley:
In the biggest case of her career, attorney Kate Sullivan is tapped as lead counsel to take on Mason Pharmaceutical because of a corporate cover-up related to its newest drug. After a whistleblower dies, Kate knows the stakes are much higher than her other lawsuits.

Former Army Ranger turned private investigator Landon James is still haunted by mistakes made while serving overseas. Trying to forget the past, he is hired by Kate to look into the whistleblower's allegation and soon suspects that the company may be engaging in a dangerous game for profit. He also soon finds himself falling for this passionate and earnest young lawyer.

Determined not to make the same mistakes, he's intent on keeping Kate safe, but as the case deepens, it appears someone is willing to risk everything--even murder--to keep the case from going to trial.


My Review:
Deadly Proof is a Christian legal suspense novel. There was some romance as well, but that consisted of a few scenes where they told each other about painful events in their pasts. While there was some danger to Kate, Landon and Kate believed that the bad guys were just trying to scare her. Due to the threat not apparently being deadly, it added some suspense, but not a lot. The other two viewpoint characters underwent more obvious pressure as they were dealing with high stakes and being pressured into legal wrongdoing. Most of the suspense came from developments in the case--trying to prevent information from getting out on one side and trying to find proof of what they suspect on the other.

While I liked the main characters, I didn't feel engaged by Kate and Landon at an emotional level. Too much of the character development involved being told what the person was like, not actually seeing it. For example, we're told that Kate struggled with depression and also pride, but we never see that struggle. But we do see that Kate is a nice balance of tough but kind, independent but willing to accept advice and help from others. Still, I felt more emotionally engaged by the other two viewpoint characters.

Landon felt guilty about a war experience and felt that God didn't care about him. The Christian element was prayer for help plus Kate helping Landon heal and come back to God. There was no sex or bad language. Overall, I'd recommend this novel.


If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.


Excerpt: Read an excerpt using Google Preview.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Miss Kopp's Midnight Confessions by Amy Stewart

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Miss Kopp's Midnight Confessions
by Amy Stewart


ISBN-13: 9780544409996
Hardback: 384 pages
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Released: Sept. 5, 2017

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from Goodreads:
Deputy sheriff Constance Kopp is outraged to see young women brought into the Hackensack jail over dubious charges of waywardness, incorrigibility, and moral depravity. The strong-willed, patriotic Edna Heustis, who left home to work in a munitions factory, certainly doesn’t belong behind bars. And sixteen-year-old runaway Minnie Davis, with few prospects and fewer friends, shouldn’t be publicly shamed and packed off to a state-run reformatory. But such were the laws—and morals—of 1916.

Constance uses her authority as deputy sheriff, and occasionally exceeds it, to investigate and defend these women when no one else will. But it's her sister Fleurette who puts Constance's beliefs to the test and forces her to reckon with her own ideas of how a young woman should and shouldn't behave.

Against the backdrop of World War I, and drawn once again from the true story of the Kopp sisters, Miss Kopp’s Midnight Confessions is a spirited, page-turning story that will delight fans of historical fiction and lighthearted detective fiction alike.


My Review:
Miss Kopp's Midnight Confessions is a historical detective novel set in 1916 in New Jersey. It's the third book in a series, but it works as a stand-alone. The Kopp sisters were real people, and Constance Kopp was New Jersey's first female deputy sheriff. In this book, most of the events involving Norma and Fleurette were fictional, but the author worked true events involving Constance into the story. The story also involved two young women--Edna and Minnie--who were arrested for morality charges. Constance gathers evidence to help defend them.

There was an underlying humor to the story, especially the interactions between the sisters. The author worked interesting historical details into the story and portrayed the difficulties faced by women who wanted independence or who wanted to help out with the war effort. The characters were interesting and acted realistically. The focus was mainly on the various women, their personalities, and the challenges they faced.

There was no sex or bad language. Overall, I'd highly 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.


Excerpt: Read an excerpt using Google Preview.

Friday, September 22, 2017

Pudding Up With Murder by Julia Buckley

book cover
Pudding Up With Murder
by Julia Buckley


ISBN-13: 9780425275979
Mass Market Paperback:
304 pages
Publisher: Berkley Prime Crime
Released: Sept. 5, 2017

Source: Review copy from the publisher.

Book Description, Modified from Back Cover:
Customers trust Lilah Drake to keep her mouthwatering meals under wraps, but when a millionaire meets his untimely end, some sinister secrets become the main course.

Lilah pulls out all the stops with a sweet new casserole for the birthday party of Marcus Cantwell, a wealthy curmudgeon who has some angry ex-wives and more than a few enemies. When he's found facedown in Lilah's casserole, it's anyone's guess as to who might have wanted the old man dead. A possible new heir to Marcus’s fortune adds some unexpected spice to the investigation, but Lilah fears that the old adage is true, and "the proof is in the pudding."


My Review:
Pudding Up With Murder is a cozy mystery. It's the third book in a series, but you can understand this book without reading the previous ones. This book didn't spoil the previous mysteries.

Lilah was observant and picked up information during normal conversations which she passed on to her cop boyfriend. She was generally nice (except to her poor boyfriend). It was a clue-based mystery, and I guessed whodunit long before Liliah. However, it could have gone a different direction until nearly the end, so I kept reading to see if I was right.

There were no sex scenes. There was some bad language. Overall, it was an 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.


Excerpt: Read an excerpt using Google Preview.