Sunday, October 15, 2017

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

book cover
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

book cover
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 étoile 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

book cover
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

book cover
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

book cover
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

book cover
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

book cover
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

book cover
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.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Loving Luther by Allison Pittman

book cover
Loving Luther
by Allison Pittman


ISBN-13: 9781414390451
Paperback: 432 pages
Publisher: Tyndale House Publishers
Released: Sept. 1, 2017

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description from Back Cover:
Germany, 1505. In the dark of night, Katharina von Bora says the bravest good-bye a six-year-old can muster and walks away as the heavy convent gate closes behind her. Though the cold walls offer no comfort, Katharina soon finds herself calling the convent her home. God, her father. This, her life. She takes her vows--a choice more practical than pious--but in time, a seed of discontent is planted by the smuggled writings of a rebellious excommunicated priest named Martin Luther. Their message? That Katharina is subject to God, and no one else. Could the Lord truly desire more for her than this life of servitude?

In her first true step of faith, Katharina leaves the only life she has ever known. But the freedom she has craved comes with a price, and she finds she has traded one life of isolation for another. Without the security of the convent walls or a family of her own, Katharina must trust in both the God who saved her and the man who paved a way for rescue. Luther's friends are quick to offer shelter, but Katharina longs for all Luther has promised: a home, a husband, perhaps even the chance to fall in love.


My Review:
Loving Luther is a Christian historical set in 1505 to 1525 in Germany. It's Katharina von Bora's story and started with her being left at a convent by her father as a young child. Not much is known about her life in the convents, so this is a fictional telling of what life might have been like for her (and nuns in general). More information is known about her life after she escaped the convent, but still not that much. The author explored what an adjustment it must have been for Kate using the framework of what is known about her life at that time.

The author portrayed Martin Luther as caring toward Kate from the start (though it's my understanding that he didn't initially have a positive attitude toward her but that he did come to respect her before deciding to marry her). Anyway, the author showed them spending time together and becoming friends. After initially focusing her affection toward another man, Kate realized her love for Luther. It's an interesting look at what life might have been like for a woman in her situation. The story ended with Luther agreeing to marry Kate.

There was no sex or bad language. 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, September 17, 2017

Justice Buried by Patricia Bradley

book cover
Justice Buried
by Patricia Bradley


ISBN-13: 9780800727123
Paperback: 384 pages
Publisher: Revell
Released: Sept. 5, 2017

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from Goodreads:
In an effort to get her security consulting business off the ground, Kelsey Allen has been spending a lot of time up in the air, rappelling down buildings and climbing through windows to show business owners their vulnerabilities to thieves.

When she is hired to pose as a conservator at the Pink Palace Museum in order to test their security weaknesses after some artifacts go missing, she's ecstatic. But when her investigative focus turns from theft to murder, Kelsey knows she's out of her league--and possibly in the cross hairs. When blast-from-the-past Detective Brad Hollister is called in to investigate, Kelsey may find that he's the biggest security threat yet . . . to her heart.


My Review:
Justice Buried is a romantic suspense novel. It's the second book in a series, but it works as a stand-alone novel. There was plenty of excitement: breaking into buildings, being shot at, bombs, and more. The suspense came from physical danger to Kelsey, sometimes danger she chose but also that from the murderer.

However, I didn't really understand why Kelsey's employer wanted her to physically break into the buildings after she proved that she could. After proving that she knew what she was talking about, she could have just pointed out the security holes. I was also a little disappointed that the cold case seemed more of an excuse for Brad to talk to her and play bodyguard. Kelsey did more work on that case than he did.

Since the story involved a clue-based mystery, I also wondered why the detectives didn't follow up on obvious questions. For example, they notice that the killer seems able to track Kelsey's movements, but they don't do anything about it (like check for a tracking device). I also wondered why they didn't question some things a certain character said and did as that person was on their suspect list. Basically, the end surprised the characters but didn't surprise me. Still, I liked that Kelsey was very resourceful, and Brad had an interesting dilemma about his girlfriend.

There were no sex scenes or bad language. Overall, I'd recommend this enjoyable, 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.

Friday, September 15, 2017

An Inconvenient Beauty by Kristi Ann Hunter

book cover
An Inconvenient Beauty
by Kristi Ann Hunter


ISBN-13: 9780764218279
Paperback: 384 pages
Publisher: Bethany House Publishers
Released: Sept. 5, 2017

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from NetGalley:
Griffith, Duke of Riverton, likes order, logic, and control, and he naturally applies this rational approach to his search for a bride. He's certain Miss Frederica St. Claire is the perfect wife for him, but while Frederica is strangely elusive, he can't seem to stop running into her stunningly beautiful cousin, Miss Isabella Breckenridge.

Isabella should be enjoying her society debut, but with her family in difficult circumstances, her uncle will only help them if she'll use her beauty to assist him in his political aims. Already uncomfortable with this agreement, the more she comes to know Griffith, the more she wishes to be free of her unfortunate obligation.


My Review:
An Inconvenient Beauty is a Christian historical novel set in 1815 in England. It's the fourth book in the series, but it works as a stand-alone novel.

Griffith has spent a year carefully deciding what he wants in a wife. He's decided to chose to love his wife after marrying her rather than risk becoming a bumbling idiot by falling in love before the wedding. The story started with some backstory about his childhood that helps explain his actions. His intended target is in love with someone else, however, and she maneuvers him into spending time with her cousin instead.

Isabella is under orders from her uncle to use her beauty to snare men into wanting to please him to have a chance at her. In return, he has promised to help her poor family out. He's such an untrustworthy man, though, that I never understood why she'd take her chances with him after the first few weeks. As her cousin pointed out, Isabella could select an honorable man that she liked and be honest with him in hopes of an alliance that would help her family long-term. Her cousin rightly pointed out that her response to her suggestion made no sense. Anyway, Griffith has to work to win her by learning what things she likes and figuring out what's holding her back from accepting him. They made a good pair, and courting her helped Griffith to open up to others more.

The Christian theme was about trusting God to work things out rather than trying to control everything thing yourself. There was no sex or bad language. Overall, I'd recommend this enjoyable romance.


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, September 13, 2017

Crazy About Cats by Owen Davey

book cover
Crazy About Cats
by Owen Davey


ISBN-13: 9781911171164
Hardcover: 40 pages
Publisher: Flying Eye Books
Released: Sept. 12, 2017

Source: Review copy from the publisher through Amazon Vine.

Book Description, Modified from Goodreads:
Did you know that the fishing cat has partially webbed paws for catching fish? Or that pumas can leap over 15 feet into trees? There are roughly 38 species of cats today, each one superbly adapted to their environment - whether that be in the rainforest or the desert!


My Review:
Crazy About Cats is a children's nonfiction about big cats. The illustrations were stylized (rather than highly realistic). However, they showed the unique characteristics of the different types of cats (lions, pumas, etc.) so it was still easy to identify the cats. The text talked about things like unique big cat features, their coat patterns, their hunting strategies (fish, hide and pounce, etc.), territory, and roaring. He also had featured cats where he gave more information about some cats that I've never even heard of before (margay, rusty-spotted cat) and some more common types (lion, tiger). Overall, I liked this book and would recommend it.


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, September 10, 2017

Death of a Busybody by George Bellairs

book cover
Death of a Busybody
by George Bellairs


ISBN-13: 9781464207365
Paperback
Publisher: Poisoned Pen Press
Released: Sept. 5, 2017

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description from NetGalley:
Miss Tither, the village busybody, is not the best-loved resident of Hilary Magna. She has made many enemies: bombarding the villagers with religious tracts, berating drunkards, and informing the spouses of cheating partners. Her murder, however, is still a huge shock to the Reverend Ethelred Claplady and his parish.

Inspector Littlejohn’s understanding of country ways makes him Scotland Yard’s first choice for the job. Basing himself at the village inn, Littlejohn works with the local police to investigate what lay behind the murder.

A second death does little to settle the collective nerves of the village, and as events escalate, a strange tale of hidden identities, repressed resentment, religious fervour and financial scams is uncovered. Life in the picturesque village of Hilary Magna proves to be very far from idyllic.


My Review:
Death of a Busybody is a mystery that was originally published in 1942 and is set in England. The characters were described with a humorous touch and village life was described in passing as the detective investigated, so the story had some interest beyond the investigation.

Inspector Littlejohn and the local constable followed up on obvious leads and questioned many people. Inspector Littlejohn slowly uncovered what happened until he was finally able to put it all together. There were clues, and the reader (having more clues) can guess whodunit before the Inspector. But the mystery was more complex than I expected.

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

Friday, September 8, 2017

A Tale of Two Kitties by Sofie Kelly

book cover
A Tale of Two Kitties
by Sofie Kelly


ISBN-13: 9780399584572
Hardcover: 336 pages
Publisher: Berkley Prime Crime
Released: Sept. 5, 2017

Source: ARC Review copy from the publisher.

Book Description, Modified from Goodreads:
With a well-placed paw on a keyboard or a pointed stare, librarian Kathleen Paulson's two cats, Hercules and Owen, have helped her to solve cases in the past—so she has learned to trust their instincts. She'll need their help when a twenty-year-old scandal leads to murder.

The arrival of the Janes brothers has the little town of Mayville Heights buzzing. Everyone of a certain age remembers when Victor had an affair with Leo’s wife, who then died in a car accident.

Now it seems the brothers are trying to reconcile, until Kathleen finds Leo dead. The police set their sights on Leo’s son and Kathleen’s good friend Simon, who doesn’t have much of an alibi. To prove her friend innocent, Kathleen will have to dig deep into the town's history—and into her sardine cracker supply, because Owen and Hercules don't work for free


My Review:
A Tale of Two Kitties is a cozy mystery. This is the 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 in the previous books. There's also a short story, "A Cat Burgler," included at the back.

I like the heroine because she's nice (as the other characters point out). She's not judgmental, and she cares about people. The cats are intelligent and have cat abilities (disappearing and getting out of places) taken to a magical degree. Their actions drew attention to clues, but mostly they provided humor with their antics.

It's a clue-based puzzle mystery. The heroine is intelligent, knowledgeable, and knows how to ask questions without being pushy or accusing. Whodunit seemed the most likely suspect to me, but I wasn't certain until nearly the end.

There was no sex. There was occasional use of bad language. Overall, I'd recommend this fun mystery.


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


Excerpt: Read an excerpt using Google Preview.

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Bygone Christmas Brides by Jill Stengl, Tamela Hancock Murray, Gina Welborn

book cover
Bygone Christmas Brides
by Ginny Aiken, Carla Gade, Pamela Griffin, Tamela Hancock Murray, Jill Stengl, Gina Welborn


ISBN-13: 97816832228975
Paperback: 400 pages
Publisher: Barbour Publishing, Inc.
Released: Sept. 1, 2017

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from NetGalley:
Light a candle in the window and sit down to a slice of fruitcake as you delight in six 19th Century romances that welcome love at Christmastide. Many traditions held dear today have their roots in the British Isles and have been practiced for over a hundred years.

In these six delightful historical stories, romance is nurtured amidst baking Scottish shortbread and English mince pies, burning the yule log, and hanging kissing boughs. But each couple is also plagued by worries of the day. As Christmastide draws to a close, will faith and love endure for future celebrations?


My Review:
Bygone Christmas Brides is a collection of six Christian romance short stories set in the 1800s in America, England, Wales, Scotland, and Ireland. Of course, all where Christmas-themed. There was no sex or bad language.

"A Right, Proper Christmas" by Jill Stengl. Set in 1860's in England. I was mainly interested in this story since it's by Jill Stengl. A low-born ex-soldier feels God's call to preach to those of his class, but no one will teach him theology or even give him a job. He's starving and homeless when a reverend gives him shelter from a storm. He's treated like family. The beautiful daughter has her sights on marrying a well-born local, but she's attracted to our hero's kindness and gentleness. It's a sweet, enjoyable story.

"Lost and Found" by Ginny Aiken. Set in 1870 in Wales. The heroine loves a good, honest man...who works in a coal mine. She's afraid that he'll die in an accident like a relative of hers did. Her fear demands that she stay single rather than marry him and trust God for his safety.

"'Tis the Season" by Carla Gade. Set in 1820 in New Jersey. A carpenter comes to the area to discover what happened to a woman he once cared about. The heroine kisses the hero the first time they meet (for a silly reason and despite her intentions to remain single). The romance was super-fast. And no one would keep horses that panicked every time someone whistles.

"I Saw Three Ships" by Pamela Griffin. Set in mid 1800s in Scotland. The low-born heroine has a sharp tongue, which she uses against the wealthy hero for leaving years ago without saying goodbye to her. They were close friends as children and now have to mend past grievances.

"Colleen of Erin" by Tamela Hancock Murray. Set in 1800s in Ireland. The hero has worked hard to build up his store. The heroine has always had wealth, but she also has a generous heart. She's attracted to the hero, but she won't have him until he learns generosity. I liked the characters, and an angel-type character helps the hero to forgive his lazy father (who abandoned him).

"Mercy Mild" by Gina Welborn. Set in 1868 in New Jersey. The hero, who loves children, is bringing some war-orphans to his home town to be united with their new parents. He also loves the heroine, who was abused by her parents. She refuses to have children for fear that she'll abuse her own children. She, of course, ends up having to temporarily care for a child--who is messy whereas she loves cleanliness and order.


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 1, 2017

12 Days at Bleakly Manor by Michelle Griep

book cover
12 Days at Bleakly Manor
by Michelle Griep


ISBN-13: 9781683222583
Paperback: 192 pages
Publisher: Barbour Publishing, Inc.
Released: Sept. 1, 2017

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from NetGalley:
England, 1851: When Clara Chapman receives an intriguing invitation to spend Christmas at an English manor home, she is hesitant--but if she remains the duration of the twelve-day celebration, she is promised a sum of five hundred pounds. Money that she desperately needs. She's shocked when she encounters one of the other guests—her former fiancé, Benjamin Lane.

Imprisoned unjustly, Ben wants revenge on whoever stole his freedom and future. When he’s given the chance to gain his freedom, he jumps at it—and is faced with Clara, who thinks he's guilty of humiliating her and stealing her family's fortune. Brought together under mysterious circumstances, Clara and Ben discover that what they’ve been striving for isn’t what ultimately matters.


My Review:
12 Days at Bleakly Manor is a romance set in England in late Dec. 1851. Seven strangers are invited to a manor to celebrate the 12 days of Christmas, lured by the promise that they will gain something they desire if they stay all 12 days. The host is missing, but he informs them that only one person will win their prize. Not surprisingly, accidents begin to happen.

Despite the accidents, the story seemed more humorous than suspenseful. The characters were quirky and outrageous. It's implied that at least some of the characters were based off of characters in "Bleak House," but that happens to be one of Dickens' novels that I haven't read. Since I read Charles Dickens for the historical details, I was disappointed that this novel made little effort to be historically accurate in terms of manners and such.

It wasn't difficult to figure out where the overall arc of the story was going--who the "bad persons" were, who would win, etc.-so it was a light, entertaining read. There wasn't much character development, but Ben was faced with a hard choice at the end and Clara had to decide if she'd trust Ben and God again. 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.


Sunday, August 27, 2017

Palace of Stone by Shannon Hale

book cover
Palace of Stone
by Shannon Hale


ISBN-13: 9781599908731
Hardcover: 323 pages
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA
Released: August 21, 2012

Source: Bought through Half.com..

Book Description, Modified from Goodreads:
Miri and her princess academy friends have been brought to Asland to help the future princess Britta prepare for her wedding. There, Miri also has a chance to attend school at the Queen's Castle. As Miri befriends students who seem sophisticated and exciting, she also learns that they have some frightening plans. Torn between loyalty to the princess and her new friends' ideas, between an old love and a new crush, and between her small mountain home and the bustling city, Miri looks to find her own way in this new place.


My Review:
Palace of Stone is a young adult fantasy novel. It's the second book in a trilogy. You can understand this story without reading the previous novel. However, this story does spoil the ending of the previous novel. That story is also a good read, so I'd recommend starting with "Princess Academy" and then read this one.

The characters were engaging, varied, and acted realistically. I like how the author presents her characters with situations with no easy answers. Miri is determined enough that she doesn't settle for the either-or choice that others insist that she make. Both are good things, and choosing one would mean losing the other. There's always another path, even if it's risky, and Miri has the courage to look for those answers and learn from past mistakes.

There was no sex or bad language. I'd highly 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, August 25, 2017

Crisis Shot by Janice Cantore

book cover
Crisis Shot
by Janice Cantore


ISBN-13: 9781496423702
Paperback: 416 pages
Publisher: Tyndale House Publishers
Released: September 5, 2017

Source: Review copy from the publisher.

Book Description, Modified from Back Cover:
Tess O'Rourke dreams of becoming the first female chief of police in Long Beach, California. As commander of the East Division, she is well on her way, until the night she responds to an officer-needs-assistance call and fatally shoots a teenager. Despite being cleared of wrongdoing by a grand jury, Tess is so hounded by the public that she takes a job in Oregon to escape the bad press.

Winning over the residents of Rogue's Hollow might be more difficult than adjusting to her new role as police chief in the small, backwater town. Especially when her closest friend, the pastor's wife, goes missing and the woman's cousin is found shot. Tess finds an ally in sheriff's deputy Steve Logan as they track down Rogue's Hollow's first murderer.


My Review:
Crisis Shot is a Christian suspense novel. The two main characters were Tess, the new chief of police in the small town, and the pastor of the town. Logan, a sheriff's deputy, has caught Tess's romantic interest. However, in this book, he's basically a nice guy who backs her up but has very little "screen time."

Due to a controversial but justified shooting incident, Tess has to win over the people in this new, small town while solving a series of time-urgent crimes. She has to deal with a murder, a missing person, a runaway teen, a kidnapping, etc. The pastor and Logan support her, which helps get the cooperation of the locals.

Tess has worked Homicide in the past, so she followed up the available clues and tried to piece the puzzle together. Are some of the incidences connected and what's behind it all? The characters acted realistically, and I liked Tess's level head and competence.

Tess wondered why God saves some people but not others, and the pastor demonstrated his trust in God through his actions. There was no sex or bad language. Overall, I'd recommend this engaging, suspenseful 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, August 20, 2017

A Tangled Yarn by Betty Hechtman

book cover
A Tangled Yarn
by Betty Hechtman


ISBN-13: 9780425282687
Mass Market Paperback:
304 pages
Publisher: Berkley Prime Crime
Released: Aug. 1, 2017

Source: Review copy from the publisher.

Book Description, Modified from Back Cover:
Casey Feldstein has her hands full with preparations at the Vista Del Mar hotel on the scenic Monterey Peninsula as another yarn retreat begins. The retreaters will be thrown for a loop this time, learning the trendy art of arm knitting and finger crocheting. But not everyone is enthusiastic about trying something new, and Casey is forced to come up with an alternative project.

Things go from worst to worsted when a travel writer from a neighboring retreat group is found dead in his room among a sea of feathers. When one of the owners of Vista Del Mar pleads for help, Casey gets hooked into the case and must unravel a delicate skein of secrets to catch a killer.


My Review:
A Tangled Yarn is a cozy mystery. It's the fifth book in a series, but you can understand this book without reading the previous ones. This book didn't spoil the previous mysteries.

The main characters were interesting and nice people. Casey asked questions and listened to people talk, but the clues didn't connect together to point to a whodunit but rather hinted at what had happened and why. Casey did figure out whodunit right before whodunit confronts her, and whodunit actually had a good reason for confronting her (rather than just fleeing).

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

Friday, August 18, 2017

Steal Away Home by Matt Carter, Aaron Ivey

book cover
Steal Away Home
by Matt Carter,
Aaron Ivey


ISBN-13: 9781433690655
Paperback: 152 pages
Publisher: B&H Books
Released: Aug. 1, 2017

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from NetGalley:
Thomas Johnson and Charles Spurgeon lived worlds apart. Johnson, an American slave, born into captivity and longing for freedom--- Spurgeon, an Englishman born into relative ease and comfort, but, longing too for a freedom of his own. Their respective journeys led to an unlikely meeting and an even more unlikely friendship, forged by fate and mutual love for the mission of Christ. Steal Away Home is a story set in the 1800s about an African-American missionary and one of the greatest preachers to ever live.


My Review:
Steal Away Home is a Christian historical novel set in 1841 to 1892 in England and America. It's a novel, not a biography or history book. According to the authors, they often used quotations from Spurgeon's or Johnson's own writing and most of the persons, places, and dates were based on real events.

I think I'd have preferred a nonfiction account so I'd know what Spurgeon actually thought versus what parts were the authors' take on the situation. This story just left me with questions. For example, Spurgeon's grandfather was portrayed as good preacher whom Spurgeon frequently heard preach. Yet their young Spurgeon thought of God as angry, condemning, and disgusted with him until a guest preach explained how much Jesus loved him. They have Spurgeon preaching that you find peace or find love in Jesus, yet we're repeatedly told that throughout his life he felt lost, more dead than alive, was crippled with depression and sorrow, and wished he was dead. I can understand why he struggled with depression, but it just came across like he preached a hope that he didn't feel in his own life. (Thomas helped him with this near the end of Spurgeon's life.)

Anyway, the story followed Charles Spurgeon and Thomas Johnson from their youth until Spurgeon's death, showing the defining incidents in their lives. The story took a few chapters before it started moving smoothly forward (as the beginning was description-heavy and jumped around in time). At that point, it was interesting and moved along pretty quickly, but it was still narration-heavy. This book made me want to read a real biography of these two men.


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, August 14, 2017

The Soldier Who Killed a King by David Kitz

book cover
The Soldier Who Killed a King
by David Kitz


ISBN-13: 9780825444852
Paperback: 288 pages
Publisher: Kregel Publications
Released: July 25, 2017

Source: Review copy from the publisher.

Book Description, Modified from Goodreads:
Watch the triumphal entry of the donkey-riding king through the eyes of Marcus Longinus, a centurion charged with keeping the streets from erupting into open rebellion. If you've heard the story of Passion Week so often it's become stale, now is the time to rediscover the terrible events leading from Jesus's humble ride into the city to his crucifixion.


My Review:
The Soldier Who Killed a King is biblical fiction set during Jesus' triumphal entry to resurrection. Our point of view character is Marcus Longinus, a centurion in charge of a gate near the Temple but who ended up present at every significant event. He struggled with profound guilt over his part in Jesus' scourging and crucifixion.

The characters used modern phrases like "wow" and "yeah," and the main characters had modern sensibilities about the value of human life. The Romans clearly saw who Jesus was while the Jews didn't. All of the religious leaders were called Pharisees, and every report we got about them painted them all as horrible, cruel hypocrites. The chain of command seemed meaningless as Pilate's soldiers were ordered about by anyone of superior rank. A visiting ruler (Herod) threatened to kill Pilate's centurion if the centurion didn't follow his orders, and the priests held four of Pilate's soldiers captive for a while without Pilate taking any action.

While the author generally stayed true to the gospel accounts of Jesus' Passion Week, he did change some things. He didn't have Jesus preaching every day in the temple. He had Herod order one of his soldiers to put the crown of thorns on Jesus when it was Pilate's soldiers who later did this. Herod and Pilate became friends before Jesus' trial. So Herod was sleeping at Pilate's place (unclean!) when Jesus was brought to trial, and Herod ended up judging Jesus in a bedroom while practically naked (not to mention demon-possessed). Jesus even paid a bodily visit to a boy during the period when he's dead and in the tomb.

The author provided great detail about the soldier's armor, the scourging, and the crucifixion. The scourging and crucifixion were described in such gory, drawn-out detail that I ended up skipping over it. There was a minor amount of British bad language. There were no graphic sex scenes. Overall, it was a decent story, but I'd expected a higher level of accuracy based on the subtitle.


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


Excerpt: Read an excerpt using Google Preview.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Hunting Hour by Margaret Mizushima

book cover
Hunting Hour
by Margaret Mizushima


ISBN-13: 9781683312772
Hardback: 320 pages
Publisher: Crooked Lane Books
Released: Aug. 8, 2017

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from Goodreads:
Deputy Mattie Cobb is working through issues from her past and has withdrawn from Cole Walker and his family to focus on herself, when she and her K-9 partner Robo get called to track a missing junior high student. They find the girl on Smoker's Hill behind the high school, dead. But that's only the start of trouble in Timber Creek, because soon another girl goes missing--and this time it's Sophie Walker.


My Review:
Hunting Hour is a K9-detective mystery. It's the third in a series. You can follow this book without reading the previous ones, and this book didn't spoil the previous mysteries.

Robo is a talented, well-trained working dog, and it's fun to see him "on the job" with Mattie. The main characters were likable and had depth and complexity. Events have had a realistic impact on them, and they dealt with personal struggles at the same time they're dealing with crime. Events hit a little close to home for Mattie, and she struggled to stay objective during the investigation.

The crime was a clue-based, puzzle mystery. I guessed whodunit based on those clues, yet it wasn't obvious. There was also the suspense of finding the kidnapped girl before something bad happened to her, as bad things have happened to reoccurring characters in these books.

There were no sex scenes. The was occasional use of bad language. Overall, I'd recommend this interesting and 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, August 6, 2017

Wedded for the Baby by Dorothy Clark

book cover
Wedded for the Baby
by Dorothy Clark


ISBN-13: 9780373425341
Mass Market Paperback:
288 pages
Publisher: Love Inspired Historicals
Released: Aug. 8, 2017

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description from NetGalley:
For widower and ex-doctor Trace Warren, a fresh start in Whisper Creek comes with a catch: to save his home and apothecary shop, Trace must remarry. While making Katherine Fleming his wife is simple enough, he refuses to fall in love again. But keeping his distance from the kind, beautiful woman and the infant she brings with her is dangerously difficult…

Katherine promised to protect the baby left in her care, and a marriage of convenience to Trace is the only way to do that. But all too soon, Trace possesses Katherine's heart, even as he still carefully guards his own. With hopes of turning their arrangement into a true love match, can Katherine convince Trace to forgive himself for his past mistakes and embrace his new family?


My Review:
Wedded for the Baby is a Christian romance set in 1868 in the Wyoming Territory. This is the second book in the series. You don't need to read the first book to understand this one. However, the couple in the first book were also major characters in this one, so you may wish to read the books in order.

Katherine helps a fatality ill woman while on a train trip to visit her sister and ends up responsible for an orphaned, unwanted baby. Trace is named the guardian of the child, but he needs to marry or he'll lose his livelihood--the only way to support the child. Katherine agrees to an "in name only" marriage and to care for the child until Trace can find an alternative. Trace treats her with kindness but tries to minimize his time with her as he still mourns his dead wife and child.

Katherine has no idea how to care for a baby, though, so Trace has to show her. They keep getting thrown together and discover they share interests and admire each other. The main characters were nice people, and I understood the reasons behind their actions. They both heal from past hurts. The historical details about everyday things, what was happening in the territory, and even some of the medical debates of the time were woven into the story. I suspect the author got her hands on a catalog of baby furniture from that time, as Trace ordered a lot for his house.

There was no sex or bad language. Overall, I'd recommend this sweet romance.


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


Excerpt: Read an excerpt using Google Preview.

Friday, August 4, 2017

Chasing Secrets by Lynette Eason

book cover
Chasing Secrets
by Lynette Eason


ISBN-13: 9780800723910
Paperback: 336 pages
Publisher: Revell
Released: Aug. 1, 2017

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description from NetGalley:
Elite Guardians bodyguard Haley Callaghan may be in South Carolina, but when a photo leads investigators in West Ireland to open a twenty-five-year-old cold case, her life is suddenly in danger. Haley knows how to take care of herself; after all, she's made a career out of taking care of others. But after an uncomfortably close call, Detective Steven Rothwell takes it upon himself to stay with her--and the young client she has taken under her wing. A protector at heart, he's not about to let Haley fight this battle alone.

In a sweeping plot that takes them into long-buried memories--and the depths of the heart--Haley and Steven will have to solve the mystery of Haley's past while dodging bullets, bombs, and bad guys who just won't quit.


My Review:
Chasing Secrets is a Christian romantic suspense novel. This is the fourth book in a series. You don't need to read the previous books to understand this one, and this story didn't spoil the previous novels. It didn't pay to stand too close to Haley as her enemies didn't care who got hurt in their attempts to kill her. The suspense was created by the repeated attempts to kill Haley, the uncertainty about who's trying to kill her, and some medical emergencies.

I liked the main characters as they where kind, thoughtful people who cared for others in addition to being good at their jobs. I enjoyed how Steven supported Haley and showed his friendship and caring (and all before they kissed! So many authors have people kissing before they even know each other). I found the ending a bit...extravagant and containing some unnecessary complications, but I suppose "bigger is better" in suspense. And it was exciting.

The Christian theme was about forgiving those who have hurt or wronged you. There was no sex or bad language. Overall, I'd recommend this exciting 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.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

As A Shield by Danny and Wanda Pelfrey

book cover
As A Shield
by Danny Pelfrey,
Wanda Pelfrey


ISBN-13: 9781633570917
Paperback: 216 pages
Publisher: CrossLink Publishing
Released: March 24, 2017

Source: A free review copy from the publisher through BookCrash.

Book Description from BookCrash:
Davis Morgan, having left the ministry after the death of his wife, Julie, returns to his hometown where he operates a used and rare bookstore while being appointed chaplain of the small police department. He and Charley, a young policeman, after discovering the body of a tattooed man find themselves in a serious battle to bring to justice two strange villains who are threatening the safety of Davis’s daughter and future son-in-law. While all this is going on, Davis is struggling with trying to interpret his relationship with a young history teacher who happens to be his daughter’s roommate.


My Review:
As A Shield is a Christian suspense novel. It's the second novel in a series. While you can read this as a stand-alone, I'd recommend reading them in order. Some things seemed long (a wedding) or fast (a relationship) since I hadn't "seen" the whole story of their relationship.

Unfortunately, everyone in this story had silted, unnatural dialogue, and some of the details about what roads people took would only interest someone who lives in Adairsville. However, the characters were interesting, and we got to know a little about the main characters.

The bad guys repeatedly tried to harm people that Davis cares about. However, the Christian theme was that God acts as a shield to protect his children, so the criminals came across as bumbling fools. We knew who the goons were, but there were only clues about who hired them. Davis and Charley uncovered what's going on by asking questions and following up on clues. While you can guess who from the clues, most of the clues given by Davis at the end weren't shown to the reader when they happened. When Davis and the Bay Guy fight at the end, the author withheld the name until the fight was done. I'd concluded it was someone he didn't know, but he did. Kinda frustrating when you can't trust your POV characters.

The main characters often thought upon their favorite verses (which are written out for the reader), and we also literally get a short sermon. There was no sex or bad language.


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


Monday, July 31, 2017

The Captivating Lady Charlotte by Carolyn Miller

book cover
The Captivating Lady Charlotte
by Carolyn Miller


ISBN-13: 9780825444517
Paperback: 310 pages
Publisher: Kregel Publications
Released: June 27, 2017

Source: Review copy from the publisher.

Book Description, Modified from Goodreads:
Lady Charlotte Featherington is destined for great things on the marriage market. After all, as the beautiful daughter of a marquess, she should have her pick of the eligible nobility when she debuts. She, however, has love at the top of her list of marriageable attributes. And her romantic heart falls hard for one particularly dashing, attentive suitor. Sadly for Charlotte, her noble father intends her betrothed to be someone far more dull.

William Hartwell may be a duke, but he knows he was Charlotte's father's pick, not the young lady's own choice. While she has captured his heart, he has no idea how to win hers in return--and the betrayal and scandal his first wife put him through makes it difficult for him to believe that love can ever be trusted.

Can a widowed duke and a romantically inclined lady negotiate a future and discover love beyond duty? Will they be able to find healing and hope from the legacy of grace? Poignant and charming, this is another beautifully written, clean and wholesome Regency romance from Carolyn Miller.


My Review:
The Captivating Lady Charlotte is a Christian romance set in 1814 in England. It's the second book in the series, but you can understand this book without reading the previous one.

When Marianne Dashwood is flattered by the attentions of Mr. Willoughby...oh, wait, different book. Charlotte, a romantic, is drawn to several charming, handsome young men (who are in need of her fortune). Her family wants her to marry a Duke, but he's older than Charlotte and so serious and boring. And those shocking rumors about his wife who recently died!

William is attracted to Charlotte's youth, beauty, and liveliness, but it's clear that she doesn't love him. He doesn't trust that she won't have an affair on him like his late wife. Her family is pushing them together, and Charlotte is grudgingly willing to give him a chance, but near-fatal accidents keep occurring around the Duke and make the courtship dangerous. The characters were likable, and they were better people for having met each other.

The author clearly put a lot of research into the clothing and protocol for certain events. The author apparently thought that a major duty of doctors at this time was attending to child births. While wealthy women might be attended by a surgeon, it's extremely strange that no midwives are mentioned at all. Midwives were used for most births, partly because female modesty precluded a male being involved and partly because surgeons had a reputation for killing or maiming the mother, child, or both (according to "A History of Medicine" by Lois N. Magner, pages 273-274).

There's a touching scene were a woman teaches Charlotte (by example) about praising God even in the midst of sorrow. There was no bad language or sex. 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.


Friday, July 28, 2017

Sowed to Death by Peg Cochran

book cover
Sowed to Death
by Peg Cochran


ISBN-13: 9780425282038
Mass Market Paperback:
304 pages
Publisher: Berkley Prime Crime
Released: July 4, 2017

Source: Review copy from the publisher.

Book Description, Modified from Goodreads:
The county fair is the highlight of the year for the small town of Lovett, Michigan especially for food-and-lifestyle blogger Shelby McDonald, who writes as the Farmer's Daughter. She's submitting jams and jellies she's created from the produce she grows at Love Blossom Farm in hopes of harvesting a blue ribbon.

But the townspeople get more than just the excitement of hayrides, tractor pulls, and cotton candy when Shelby's neighbor and volunteer fireman, Jake Taylor, extricates the body of Zeke Barnstable instead of a dummy during a demonstration of the Jaws of Life. The fact that Jake and Zeke were known to be at odds plants suspicion in the minds of the police. Shelby plows through the clues to weed out the true killer and save her friend.


My Review:
Sowed to Death is a cozy mystery. It's the second book in the series. You can understand this book without reading the previous one, and this novel didn't spoil the mystery in the previous book.

The mystery was a clue-based, puzzle mystery. The heroine asked questions, listened to gossip, and watched what was going on. She's generally a nice person, and no one was harmed by her methods of questioning. I strongly suspected whodunit by about halfway through and was certain by two-thirds of the way through. I found it a little curious that the heroine didn't pick up on it sooner. (The Murder She Wrote heroine sure would have.)

Minor annoyances: No one in their right mind would use a stallion when teaching a young child how to ride. Also, few farriers "make" horseshoes anymore (though they do use a hammer to shape the horseshoe and nail it on). These points weren't critical to the mystery.

There was no sex or bad language. Overall, I'd recommend this interesting novel.


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


Excerpt: Read an excerpt using Google Preview.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Noah Drake and the Dragon Killer by Ben Russell

book cover
Noah Drake and the Dragon Killer
by Ben Russell


ISBN-13: 9781540358080
Paperback: 176 pages
Publisher: Createspace
Released: Nov. 10, 2016

Source: ebook review copy from the author.

Book Description, Modified from Goodreads:
Noah Drake loves dinosaurs and would like to dig up dinosaur bones someday. Then he discovered that real dinosaurs might still be around! While on vacation to Lake Champion with his family, he hears stories about Champ, a lake monster. He'd love to capture Champ, just like he captures dinos on a video game he enjoys. But he starts to rethink things when he meets two men who are set on killing Champ for fame and fortune. Noah Drake And The Dragon Killer is a middle grade to young adult story that teaches creation. You'll enjoy Noah Drake if you like Jonathan Park!


My Review:
Noah Drake and the Dragon Killer is a Christian middle grade adventure novel. The story follows a family during their eventful vacation to Lake Champion, where some of them see the local sea monster (Champ) and encounter some dragon hunters. Noah would love to capture Champ--like on a video game he plays--but the dragon hunters are out to kill Champ for fame and fortune. The "good guy" main characters were engaging while the "bad guy" characters were largely comical.

Several characters were Christians who believed that God created dinosaurs about 6,000 years ago and that we knew them by the name "dragons" until the 1800s. There was also a simplified explanation of why a character didn't believe in evolution. There was no sex, gore, or bad language. Overall, I'd recommend this fun, engaging 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.


Sunday, July 23, 2017

The Best Dr. Thorndyke Detective Stories by R. Austin Freeman

book cover
The Best Dr. Thorndyke Detective Stories
by R. Austin Freeman


ISBN-13: 9780486814810
Paperback: 288 pages
Publisher: Dover Publications
Released: July 19, 2017

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description from GoodReads:
Known as the father of the scientific detective story, Freeman was a physician who tested his fictional ploys through microscopic and chemical analysis. His tales not only challenged the wits of his readers but also inspired many modern detection methods.

This collection presents eight of the most compelling Dr. Thorndyke stories. "The Case of Oscar Brodski," "A Case of Premeditation," and "The Echo of a Mutiny" offer outstanding examples of a form Freeman originated, the inverted mystery. In these tales, the crime and culprit are revealed at the outset; the fascination begins with the entrance of Dr. Thorndyke, who spins a convincing web of evidence from the subtlest clues.

"The Mandarin's Pearl," "The Blue Sequin," "The Moabite Cipher," and "The Aluminum Dagger" incorporate scientific detection, featuring details evaluated by the author's characteristic scientific analysis. As a special bonus, this volume includes "31 New Inn," the now hard-to-find tale in which Dr. Thorndyke makes his debut.


My Review:
The Best Dr. Thorndyke Detective Stories is a collection of 8 short stories with Dr. Thorndyke as the main character. These stories were originally published in 1909 to 1912, though one story is apparently set in 1900. They take place in England.

Dr. Thorndyke is a "medical jurispractitioner," so he handles "cold cases" (when lawyers consult him) as well as recently committed murders. He looks closely at the forensic evidence, carries a portable laboratory, and uses logic to solve his cases. He has a friend, Dr. Jervis, who helps him solve crimes. If this sounds like Sherlock Holmes, it is the same type of character. However, I like Thorndyke better. He's clever, but he doesn't show off like Sherlock does. (Sherlock has a habit of guessing based on high probabilities just so he'll look extremely smart.)

Thorndyke encourages Jervis to learn his methods, shares all of the clues that he finds, and encourages Jervis to puzzle out these clues for himself. This gives the reader a chance to puzzle out the answer as well. Not all of the stories are puzzle mysteries, though. The first three show us the crime from the criminal's perspective, then switches to showing Thorndyke spotting and analyzing the clues. These worked better than I expected and delved a bit into why the criminals acted as they did. I enjoyed and would recommend this book.

The stories contained in this book are:
The Case of Oscar Brodski
A Case of Premeditation
The Echo of the Mutiny
The Mandarin's Pearl
The Blue Sequin
The Moabite Cipher
The Aluminum Dagger
31 New Inn


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, July 21, 2017

Beneath Copper Falls by Colleen Coble

book cover
Beneath Copper Falls
by Colleen Coble


ISBN-13: 9780718090715
Trade Paperback: 368 pages
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Released: July 10, 2017

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

Book Description from Amazon:
As a 911 dispatcher, Dana Newell takes pride in being calm in tough circumstances. In addition to her emotionally-charged career, she’s faced enough emergencies in her own life. She recently escaped her abusive fiancé to move to tranquil Rock Harbor where she hopes life will be more peaceful.

But the idyllic town hides more danger and secrets than it first appeared. Dana is continually drawn to her new friend Boone, who has scars inside and out. Then she answers a call at her job only to hear a friend’s desperate screams on the other end. Soon the pain in her past collides with the mysteries of her new home—and threatens to keep her from the future she’s always wanted.


My Review:
Beneath Copper Falls is a Christian suspense novel. It's the 6th novel in a series, but it's about Dana and Boone and so works as a stand-alone novel. The suspense is created by physical danger to a number of women. Dana's abusive ex-boyfriend followed her and is causing havoc. But then another woman dies, and it seems connected to an old murder investigation. Are the two cases connected? About halfway through, I realized from subtle clues where the book was heading, and then more obvious clues also pointed in that direction. This made the story even more suspenseful.

When I was just a teenager, I briefly knew a manipulative man online who used some of the exact same words as this fictional serial killer. "I though you were different from everyone else." Makes me wonder... Anyway, poor Dana has been traumatized throughout her life and now has an abusive, stalker boyfriend after her. Both she and Boone have to heal from past hurts. They make a great couple because they really do understand how the other is feeling, and they help each other stretch beyond hurt-imposed limits.

The Christian element involved Dana finding the courage to pray with people on the job and Boone forgiving people who hurt him. She also made a point about looking at a person's character (and developing your own) rather than focusing on outer good looks. There was no sex. The bad language was referred to with "he cussed" type phrases rather than with actual bad words. 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.