Friday, April 28, 2017

Town in a Maple Madness by B.B. Haywood

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Town in a Maple Madness
by B.B. Haywood


ISBN-13: 9780425278642
Mass Market Paperback:
304 pages
Publisher: Berkley Prime Crime
Released: April 4, 2017

Source: Review copy from the publisher.

Book Description, Modified from Goodreads
Return to Cape Willington, Maine, where blueberry farmer Candy Holliday springs ahead into sleuthing... The imminent arrival of spring has the locals gearing up for their sweetest celebration ever the first annual Maple Madness Weekend. Along with maple sugar house tours, a community-wide marshmallow roast, and a weekend-long pancake breakfast, restaurants will be serving up special maple syrup dishes. But the weekend festivities are put in jeopardy when things start to get sticky...

One of Candy's friends is accused of stealing sap from a rival's sugar maple trees, and landscaper Mick Rilke is found dead, floating down the river wrapped up in a fisherman s net. As Candy taps into Mick s life, his unsavory side comes to light, as well as a possible connection to both crimes. Now it's up to Candy to follow the flow of suspects to a cold-blooded killer


My Review:
Town in a Maple Madness is a cozy mystery. It's the 8th in a series, but you don't need to read the previous books to understand this one, and this book didn't spoil the whodunit of the previous novels.

The mystery was clue-based, but the story was more about suspense and romance. After several characters gave Candy information and asked her to solve things, she headed off by herself to remote locations to check out crime scenes and repeatedly found herself in danger. Despite present and past experiences, she refused to bring along a companion (except for the dog, who was sometimes left locked in the jeep) and didn't think to bring a weapon for protection, so she had to use improvised weapons. She also delayed calling for help on her phone when letting people know what was going on would have been smart and helpful. I assume this was all done to increase the suspense, but it seemed an artificial way to do so.

That said, the heroine was likable. There were just enough clues and so few suspects that I was able to guess whodunit before the heroine, though I couldn't guess why. (Gotta love it when the suspect provides a strong clue, though Candy didn't notice it.) There was a very minor amount of bad language. There were no sex scenes. Overall, I'd recommend this book to fans of the series.


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


Excerpt: Read an excerpt using Google Preview.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

What the Dead Leave Behind by Rosemary Simpson

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What the Dead Leave Behind
by Rosemary Simpson


ISBN-13: 9781496709080
Hardcover: 304 pages
Publisher: Kensington Books
Released: April 25, 2017

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from Back Cover:
As the Great Blizzard of 1888 cripples the vast machinery that is New York City, heiress Prudence MacKenzie sits anxiously within her palatial Fifth Avenue home waiting for her fiance's safe return. With daylight, more than two hundred people are found to have perished in the icy winds and treacherous snowdrifts. Prudence's fiance is found frozen, his head crushed by a heavy branch, and clutching the ace of spades.

Her fiance's school friend, Geoffrey Hunter, is an attorney and former Pinkerton agent. Both Prudence and Geoffrey suspect Charles's death was no accident, especially happening so soon after her father's sudden death. Prudence turns to Geoffrey to help her prove the murderer and protect her inheritance from a stepmother intent on controlling Prudence's share of the family fortune.


My Review:
What the Dead Leave Behind is a historical novel set in 1888 in New York City. It's not really mystery genre since it's pretty obvious who the bad guys are. Even the main characters felt certain they knew whodunit and were attempting to prove it. Also, the reader gets to see things (including the murders) that the hero and heroine never see and some of which they never discover.

Some suspense was created by the repeated attempts to harm or kill the heroine. However, the author included so much historical detail that the pacing was too slow to sustain a feeling of suspense. The slower pacing and attention to detail will appeal to fans of historical novels (though I noticed a couple details I suspect are inaccurate).

The characters were interesting, and the hero was gallant and generally clever. But the main characters were slow to make some obvious connections and ask some important questions of people who would have been happy to answer. The heroine assumed things rather than re-assessed what she knew based on new information.

She also kept telling herself that her step-mother underestimated her, but I felt like the heroine overestimated herself. She had potential, but she didn't act logically or even consistently. She panicked at one point and forgot something vital that had just happened. A few scenes later, she somehow located a weapon she didn't know existed and acted heroically. So...does she fall apart easily under stress or think clearly and act decisively when under threat? Sometimes she acts one way and sometimes the other.

The author would shift point of view in the middle of a paragraph and sometimes jumped in time in a way that left me briefly confused. At the end, the bad guys weren't handed over to the courts (though they were stopped). There was a brief homosexual sex scene. There was some bad language.


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


Excerpt: Read an excerpt using Google Preview.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Silence of the Jams by Gayle Leeson

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Silence of the Jams
by Gayle Leeson


ISBN-13: 9781101990803
Mass Market Paperback:
304 pages
Publisher: Berkley Prime Crime
Released: April 4, 2017

Source: Review copy from the publisher.

Book Description, Modified from Back Cover:
In Winter Garden, Virginia, the Down South Cafe is open and flourishing, and Amy Flowers is busy making jam and pies. The only thorn in her side is Chamber of Commerce director George Lincoln, who is trying to buy the cafe so he can tear it down and build a B&B on the site. When George collapses while eating at the Down South, everybody assumes it's a heart attack until the autopsy declares it to be poisoning. Now it's up to Amy to prove her innocence.


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

The mystery was clue-based, but there weren't many suspects. I was pretty certain of whodunit from early on, though the author did make me wonder a couple times if maybe I was wrong. Amy asked some good questions, but much of her efforts (understandably) went in running her restaurant and some family drama involving an aunt.

Amy's a nice gal who doesn't want to hurt anyone's feelings. She's fairly intelligent. "Fairly" because she did confront one of her suspects when they were completely alone and accuse him of lying about something that would be a motive. It doesn't matter how that turned out; it was dangerous.

There was no bad language and no sex scenes. 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, April 16, 2017

Princess Sophie and the Six Swans by Kim Jacobs

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Princess Sophie and the Six Swans
by Kim Jacobs


ISBN-13: 9781937786670
Hardback: 40 pages
Publisher: Wisdom Tales
Released: April 1, 2017

Source: Review copy from the publisher.

Book Description, Modified from Back Cover:
Princess Sophie, the spirited young heroine of this adapted tale from the Brothers Grimm, finds herself faced with an incredible challenge and some lessons to learn. She had forgotten her departed mother's warning to temper loyalty and strength with a compassionate heart. Antagonized by Sophie's resentful words, her powerful new stepmother turns Sophie's six brothers into swans and sets her the task of saving them.

Will Sophie succeed in helping her brothers? Can she spin six shirts made from the thorny thistle, while never speaking a word, even in her defense? And what will happen when King Yoren captures Sophie and takes her prisoner?

Featuring stunning artwork by renowned illustrator Kim Jacobs, her retelling of this classic Brothers Grimm fairytale also contains an author's note with fascinating details on family heraldry and mute swans.


My Review:
Princess Sophie and the Six Swans is a retelling of the Grimm fairy tale and is intended for ages 4 and up. The author added some details to the basic tale to help explain why certain things happen. The heroine's harsh words toward the stepmother prompted the stepmother's curse that Sophie must not speak until the thorny shirts are completed. So Sophie has to grow in character to be able to complete the difficult task.

Beautiful illustrations fill the pages. Details showing the setting and character's body language further develop the story and draw the reader in. I've enjoyed many of the Wisdom Tales Press books, but this engaging book is my favorite so far. I'd highly recommend it to fans of children's fairy tales.


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


Excerpt: View an excerpt on the publisher's website.

Friday, April 14, 2017

The Chapel Car Bride by Judith Miller

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The Chapel Car Bride
by Judith Miller


ISBN-13: 9780764219054
Paperback: 352 pages
Publisher: Bethany House Publishers
Released: April 4, 2017

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from NetGalley:
With her penchant for seeing the best in everyone, Hope Irvine sees a world full of good people in hard places. When her father accepts a position traveling in a chapel car as an on-the-rail missionary, she is determined to join him in his efforts and put her musical skills to good use by serving the mining families of West Virginia, saving their souls, and bettering their lives.

Luke Hughes shares Hope's love of music and her love of God, but as a poor miner he knows he can offer her no future. When she begins to travel with the mine owner's son to neighboring counties, Luke can hardly suppress his jealousy. It isn't until he begins to suspect these missions of mercy might be a cover for illegal purposes, though, that Luke feels he has the right to act to protect Hope.


My Review:
The Chapel Car Bride is a historical novel set in 1913 in West Virginia. At the beginning of the story, we get an overview of how chapel cars worked and what they looked like. The coal mine existed only to explain how the poor conditions and pay motivated some workers to do an illegal side business to feed their family. This illegal activity was the motivating focus of the story.

The main characters were nice people. Hope assumed the best about everyone and wanted to help people. Luke had the unfortunate tendency toward self-sabotage when it came to his dreams. He wanted to become a preacher and immediately fell in love with Hope. Hope returned his regard, but the son of the mine owner offered to help Hope reach out to the children in surrounding towns. Luke assumed that this made him a rival for Hope. When this man's true character was revealed and Hope and Luke declared their love, the author apparently felt it'd been to easy. A previously nice character suddenly turned nasty and got in the way. Yet the obstacle didn't really exist and the solution was so obvious that this just irritated me.

The Christian element was references to their holding services, praying, and care for the poor. There was no sex or bad language. Overall, I'd recommend this book.


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


Monday, April 10, 2017

Pursued by Lisa Harris

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Pursued
by Lisa Harris


ISBN-13: 9780800724207
Trade Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: Revell
Released: April 4, 2017

Source: Review copy from the publisher.


Book Description, Modified from GoodReads:
Nikki Boyd's flight into Nashville was routine--up until the crash landing at the airport. When the dust settles, Nikki discovers that the woman who had been seated next to her on the plane is missing--and no one will admit she was ever there.

Erika Hamilton had been flying to Nashville with an air marshal as a key witness in an upcoming grand jury trial. When she flees from the crash, is she running from trouble or straight into it? Before Nikki can even see her family, she and her team are pulled into a missing persons case where the motives are as unclear as the suspects.


My Review:
Pursued is a Christian suspense novel. It's the third in a series, but you don't need to read the previous books to understand this one. The story reads like an action movie. Nikki's flight crashes, which would be enough to put most people out of action (and unwilling to go up in the air again within 48 hours), but not Nikki! She shakes it off because she wants to be the one to find the missing woman whose life may be in danger.

Nikki just powers through pain and exhaustion despite the increasing body count and some rather traumatic experiences. Frankly, the fact that she seems superhuman--hardly touched by these experiences during the story--means that I had a hard time bonding with her. While the constant physical danger and time limits on finding the missing woman do make for a suspenseful story, I read suspense for the human element--how do they get through the trauma?--not for the big explosions.

Nikki felt she was always right. If a team member expressed a concern about her actions or plans, she dismissed those concerns and did things her way. Nikki also couldn't let unknowns go and didn't trust others (even her team) to find out those answers without her in the middle of things. While Nikki was otherwise a nice, caring person, I'd hate to be on her team.

The Christian truth thrown in at the end was her realization that God's in control and has all the answers about what has happened and will happen. But I'm really wondering if that'll change her behavior toward her team. There were also a few, brief prayers during the action. There was no sex or bad language. Overall, I'd recommend this novel to fans of action movies.


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


Excerpt: Read an excerpt using Google Preview.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Where the Dead Lie by C.S. Harris

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Where the Dead Lie
by C.S. Harris


ISBN-13: 9780451471192
Hardcover: 352 pages
Publisher: Berkley
Released: April 4, 2017

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from Goodreads:
London, 1813. Sebastian St. Cyr, Viscount Devlin, is no stranger to the dark side of the city, but he's never seen anything like this: the brutalized body of a fifteen-year-old boy dumped into a makeshift grave on the grounds of an abandoned factory.

One of London's many homeless children, Benji Thatcher was abducted and tortured before his murder—and his younger sister is still missing. Few in authority care about a street urchin's fate, but Sebastian refuses to let this killer go unpunished.

Uncovering a disturbing pattern of missing children, Sebastian is drawn into a shadowy, sadistic world. As he follows a grim trail that leads from the writings of the debauched Marquis de Sade to the city's most notorious brothels, he comes to a horrifying realization: someone from society's upper echelon is preying upon the city's most vulnerable. And though dark, powerful forces are moving against him, Sebastian will risk his reputation and his life to keep more innocents from harm.


My Review:
Where the Dead Lie is a historical mystery set in 1813 in London. This is the 12th book in a series. You don't need to read the previous novels to follow this one, and this book did not spoil any whodunits of the previous novels.

The author vividly described the setting and wove in historical details without slowing the fast pacing. The main characters were likable and cared about justice for the street children. Sebastian and Hero were observant and asked good questions, but the mystery was complex enough that it took some time to uncover who was involved. I'm a little surprised that Sebastian doesn't have more enemies, though, considering the secrets he tends to uncover along the way. It's a good thing he doesn't use those secrets against people.

Sex occurred and rape and torture was referred to, but there were no play-by-play sex or torture scenes. There was a fair amount bad language. Overall, I'd recommend this well-written novel.


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


Excerpt: Read an excerpt using Google Preview.

Friday, April 7, 2017

Behind the Scenes by Jen Turano

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Behind the Scenes
by Jen Turano


ISBN-13: 9780764217944
Trade Paperback: 304 pages
Publisher: Bethany House Publishers
Released: April 4, 2017

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from NetGalley:
Miss Permilia Griswold may have been given the opportunity of a debut into New York high society, but no one warned her she wasn't guaranteed to "take." After spending the last six years banished to the wallflower section of the ballroom, she's finally putting her status on the fringes of society to good use by penning anonymous society gossip columns under the pseudonym "Miss Quill."

Mr. Asher Rutherford has managed to maintain his status as a reputable gentleman of society despite opening his own department store. While pretending it's simply a lark to fill his time, he has quite legitimate reasons for needing to make his store the most successful in the country.

When Permilia overhears a threat against the estimable Mr. Rutherford, she's determined to find and warn the man. When Asher doesn't believe her, she decides to take matters into her own hands.


My Review:
Behind the Scenes is a Christian romance set in 1883 in New York City. Having read Turano's books before, I expected unconventional characters who don't care what society thinks and humor resulting from the silly situations they end up in. Unfortunately, the characters were borderline insane in this one, and their irrational behavior is intended to get the laughs.

I expected Permilia to be observant and clever. But, no. She danced a complete quadrille without noticing that everyone else was doing a set pattern and only she was making up steps. Her dancing usually results in injury to others, yet she agreed to dance with two men whom she likes. Really? The first 35% of the book was this lavish ball where Permilia blundered into trouble or panicked when men tried to talk with her.

Despite Asher inexplicably being attracted by Permilia's blundering (and perfume) at the ball, he refused to take her warning about an assassin seriously. The book description made it sound like Asher and Permilia would work together to figure out who's after them. Nope, they left figuring that out to other people. Permilia spent more time trying to figure out what God wanted her to do with her life. And more scenes were about various woman throwing things or trying to strangle each other than on murder attempts by an assassin.

There was no sex or bad language.


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


Excerpt: Read an excerpt using Google Preview.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Deep Extraction giveaway

I recently reviewed a Christian romantic suspense novel, Deep Extraction by DiAnn Mills. I just learned that the author is holding a giveaway at: http://www.diannmills.com/desk/deep-extraction-giveaway/.

And here's a link to the book trailer, if you're interested: Deep Extraction book trailer

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Scarweather by Anthony Rolls

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Scarweather
by Anthony Rolls


ISBN-13: 9781464207402
Paperback: 279 pages
Publisher: Poisoned Pen Press
Released: April 4, 2017

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from NetGalley:
1913. John Farringdale, with his cousin Eric Foster, visits the famous archaeologist Tolgen Reisby. At Scarweather - Reisby's lonely house on the windswept northern coast of England - Eric is quickly attracted to Reisby's much younger wife, and matters soon take a dangerous turn. Fifteen years later, the final scene of the drama is enacted. This unorthodox novel from 1934 is by a gifted crime writer.


My Review:
Scarweather is a mystery novel that was originally published in 1934 and is set in England. The narrator, a "Watson" to his friend Ellingham, described significant events from 1913 to 1928 relating to his cousin's disappearance while visiting an archaeologist friend. Since Farringdale is looking back after the case is solved, he pointed out clues that weren't so clear at the time and described the leads they followed up.

Figuring out whodunit was just a matter of putting the clues together, and it's not intended to be difficult. The point was rather to follow Ellingham as he slowly but steadily worked to uncover the truth--even if it took 15 years! It's an interesting story even if not a typical mystery style.

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


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


Friday, March 31, 2017

Deep Extraction by DiAnn Mills

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Deep Extraction
by DiAnn Mills


ISBN-13: 9781496410986
Trade Paperback: 400 pages
Publisher: Tyndale House Publishers
Released: April 4, 2017

Source: Review copy from the publisher.

Book Description from Goodreads:
A pacemaker should have saved oil and gas magnate Nathan Moore's life. Instead, it provided his killer with a seemingly perfect means of execution. A bombing at one of Nathan's oil rigs days earlier indicates his death could be part of a bigger conspiracy, a web Special Agent Tori Templeton must untangle. But her first order of business is separating the personal from the professional--the victim's wife, her best friend, is one of the FBI's prime suspects.

Clearing Sally's name may be the biggest challenge of her career, but Tori finds an unexpected ally in the newest member of the task force, recently reinstated Deputy US Marshal Cole Jeffers. As Tori and Cole dig deeper into Nathan's personal and business affairs, they uncover more than they bargained for. And the closer they get to finding the real killer--and to each other--the more intent someone is on silencing them for good.


My Review:
Deep Extraction is a Christian romantic suspense novel. It's the second book in a series, but it's essentially a stand alone. The main characters were well-developed and acted realistically. One of the main characters was dealing with cancer, which triggered Tori's fear of getting cancer. Tori and Cole also had to deal with the emotional turmoil of having a good friend (Nathan) die and needing to uncover the secrets in his life.

Tori and Cole worked well together as a team, and I could see why they were attracted to each other. The suspense came from physical danger to several of the characters. The killer started a sequence of events where the danger wasn't gone after Nathan died, and it wasn't easy to uncover everything needed to understand exactly what had happened and whodunit.

Cole was a Christian and needed to forgive a man who shot him. Tori was considering God because her brother asked her to, but she struggled with a God that let bad things happen. There was no sex. There were occasional "he cursed" type references to bad language being used by some non-Christian characters. Overall, I'd recommend this exciting 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.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

The Endicott Evil by Gregory Harris

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The Endicott Evil
by Gregory Harris


ISBN-13: 9781617738890
Paperback: 304 pages
Publisher: Kensington Books
Released: March 28, 2017

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from NetGalley:
In Victorian London, there exists no greater investigative team than master sleuth Colin Pendragon and his loyal partner, Ethan Pruitt. But it will take all their powers of deduction to determine if a fatal fall was a result of misery or murder . . .

Adelaide Endicott—elderly sister of Lord Thomas Endicott, a senior member of Parliament—has plummeted to her death from the third-floor window of her bedroom at Layton Manor. Did she take her own life—or was she pushed? Although Scotland Yard believes it is a clear case of suicide, Adelaide’s sister Eugenia is convinced otherwise . . .

Pendragon and Pruitt look into the victim’s troubled mental state while simultaneously exploring who might have had a motive to push Adelaide to her death. As they search for the truth, they uncover a family history involving scandalous secrets, abuse, and trauma.


My Review:
The Endicott Evil is a mystery set in London around 1895. It's the fifth book in a series. They're trying to wrap up the loose ends on the Connicle case (from book 3), so that case was thoroughly discussed. I probably would have enjoyed that part of the story more if I'd read the beginnings of the case. They're also investigating the Endicott case, which worked as a stand-alone mystery.

Pendragon and Pruitt seem intended to be a Holmes and Watson duo, only they're gay (as indicated by a few comments and actions; it's not a major aspect of the story). Pendragon is a brilliant detective that sees clues that others completely miss and solves mysteries that seemed unsolvable. Pruitt managed to spot a few critical clues without realizing what they were until Pendragon explained their significance. However, Pruitt's main role seemed to be to manage Pendragon, usually by smoothing over his socially incorrect or rude behavior with others.

The Endicott case was clue-based. I could see where it was going, but the critical clues to whodunit were not revealed by Pendragon until the big reveal at the end. The Connicle case mainly involved tracking a woman down. I was a bit baffled why the duo didn't anticipate what happened at the end since they knew she was dangerous.

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, March 20, 2017

The Elusive Miss Ellison by Carolyn Miller

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The Elusive Miss Ellison
by Carolyn Miller


ISBN-13: 9780825444500
Trade Paperback: 304 pages
Publisher: Kregel Publications
Released: Feb. 28, 2017

Source: Review copy from the publisher.

Book Description, Modified from Goodreads:
Pride, prejudice, and forgiveness... Hampton Hall's new owner has the villagers of St. Hampton Heath all aflutter--all except Lavinia Ellison. The reverend's daughter cares for those who are poor and sick, and the seventh Earl of Hawkesbury definitely does not meet that criteria. His refusal to take his responsibilities seriously leaves her convinced he is as arrogant and reckless as his brother, who killed Lavinia's mother in an accident.

Nicholas Stamford is shadowed by guilt: his own, his brother's, the legacy of war. A perfunctory visit to this dreary part of Gloucestershire wasn't supposed to engage his heart, or his mind. Challenged by Miss Ellison's fascinating blend of Bluestocking opinions, hoydenish behavior, and angelic voice, he finds the impossible becoming possible--he begins to care. But Lavinia's aloof manner, society's opposition and his ancestral obligations prove most frustrating. Can Lavinia and Nicholas look beyond painful pasts and present pride to see their future?


My Review:
The Elusive Miss Ellison is a Christian romance set in 1813 in England. After experiencing war, Nicholas has decided that caring brings too much pain, so he hides behind rudeness and pride. He's also burdened by guilt for things in his past. Lavinia has been raised to look down on those who neglect the poor, so she frequently scolds Nicholas for his pride and lack of interest in his poor tenants. She soon realizes that her behavior is also rooted in pride, so she attempts to remind Nicholas of God's love instead of pointing out Nicholas' failures.

Nicholas and Lavinia quickly became likable characters who had some depth and complexity. They generally mean well even though they sometimes behaved poorly, and they helped each other to see the pride and prejudice they had in their hearts. They were better people for having met each other.

The historical details acted as a backdrop to the story, though the social expectations of the time played a vital role. Nicholas was expected to marry a rich woman from the higher classes, and Lavinia's father is too poor for her to be acceptable.

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, March 19, 2017

Mistaken Identity by Shirlee McCoy

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Mistaken Identity
by Shirlee McCoy


ISBN-13: 9780373456925
Paperback: 224 pages
Publisher: Love Inspired Suspense Large Print
Released: March 7, 2017

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from NetGalley:
Mason Gains creates prosthetics for war veterans--prosthetics that contain a tracking chip. When a key witness in a military trial goes missing, both sides of the case want to use that tracking information to find the witness but Mason refuses to give it up.

Trinity Miller has tracked down the reclusive Mason Gains to ask him to fit her best friend's son with a prosthetic. She's shocked when she's attacked and nearly kidnapped by a man who mistakenly believes she's Mason Gains's girlfriend.

Now Trinity must work with the former army pilot while he finds a way to take down the men trying to break into his computer system and keep Trinity safe.


My Review:
Mistaken Identity is a Christian suspense novel. It's the seventh book in a series, but you don't need to read the previous books to understand this one.

The characters were nice people who struggled with realistic problems. Trinity feels like she needs to prove her worth after a failed relationship and doubts about her career choice. Mason also has past relationship traumas which have led to his refusal to make prosthetics for kids, the very thing that Trinity wants from him. With bad guys determined to kidnap Trinity and kill anyone who gets in their way, there's plenty of suspense. They have to fight off the bad guys while trying to track down exactly who they are.

The Christian element was their coming to understand that God has a good plan for their lives. 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.


Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Found: Psalm 23

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Found: Psalm 23
by Sally Lloyd-Jones
Illustrated by: Jago


ISBN-13: 9780310757504
Board book: 20 pages
Publisher: Zonderkidz
Released: Feb. 21, 2017

Source: Review copy from the publisher through BookLook.

Book Description, Modified from BookLook:
Found is based on Psalm 23. Written by Sally Lloyd-Jones and illustrated by Jago, little ones will fall in love with this padded cover board book that reminds them of God’s never stopping, never giving up, unbreakable, always and forever love.


My Review:
Found: Psalm 23 is a board book for young children (suggested for 4-8 years old). It loosely translates Psalm 23 using simple words and ideas so that a child can understand it. It has the reader (as a lamb) and God (as the shepherd) as the main characters. The lamb and shepherd have very expressive body language despite the somewhat loose illustration style. (It's clear what everything in the illustrations is meant to be, yet it's not highly detailed.) The colors used and the body language of the characters reinforced the peaceful or frightening moments.

I've been looking for a book that would help to describe God to a very young child. This book clearly shows how God cares for us by providing us with food and everything we need. How he guides us, protects us, etc. And it ends with "Wherever I go, I know // God's never stopping, never giving up, unbreaking, always and forever love will go, too."

My favorite part is the illustrations and text for the "Even when I walk through the dark, scary, lonely places... // I won't be afraid. Because my Shepherd knows where I am. He is here with me." I'd highly recommend this comforting and engaging board book.


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


Excerpt: Read an excerpt using Google Preview.
(Amazon's "Look Inside" feature shows more of the book.)

Sunday, March 12, 2017

A Pilgrimage to Murder by Paul Doherty

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A Pilgrimage to Murder
by Paul Doherty


ISBN-13: 9781780290966
Hardcover: 240 pages
Publisher: Creme de La Crime
Released: March 1, 2017

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from NetGalley:
Summer, 1381. The Great Revolt has been crushed; the king’s peace ruthlessly enforced. Brother Athelstan meanwhile is preparing for a pilgrimage to St Thomas a Becket’s shrine in Canterbury to give thanks for the wellbeing of his congregation after the violent rebellion.

But preparations are disrupted when Athelstan is summoned to a modest house in Cheapside, scene of a brutal triple murder. One of the victims was the chief clerk of the Secret Chancery of John of Gaunt. Could this be an act of revenge by the Upright Men, those rebels who survived the Great Revolt?

Then Athelstan and others start receiving menacing messages from an assassin who calls himself Azrael, the Angel of Death. Who is he – and why is he targeting a harmless friar?


My Review:
A Pilgrimage to Murder is a historical mystery set in 1381 in England. It's the 16th 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. Much time was spent describing setting and historical details. The pilgrimage didn't start until nearly 60% of the way into the story, and they only traveled one day before it came to a halt.

Since people were being mysteriously murdered throughout the story and Athelstan was a target, it could have been very suspenseful. But so much time was spent describing the setting that it slowed the pace and dulled that suspense.

There were clues as to whodunit, but Athelstan kept some of the clues to himself until the big reveal. Still, I was able to guess whodunit (and was mostly correct). There was enough complexity to what was going on that there will be surprises as Athelstan describes who did what.

There were no graphic sex scenes or bad language. However, the many dead bodies were described in detail, from strangulation to decapitation to rotting heads on pikes. I enjoyed the historical detail and the characters, but I would have preferred less graphic detail about the corpses.


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, March 10, 2017

Pekoe Most Poison by Laura Childs

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Pekoe Most Poison
by Laura Childs


ISBN-13: 9780425281680
Hardcover: 320 pages
Publisher: Berkley Prime Crime
Released: March 7, 2017

Source: Review copy from the publisher.

Book Description from Back Cover:
When Indigo Tea Shop owner Theodosia Browning is invited by Doreen Briggs, one of Charleston’s most prominent hostesses, to a “Rat Tea,” she is understandably intrigued. As servers dressed in rodent costumes and wearing white gloves offer elegant finger sandwiches and fine teas, Theo learns these parties date back to early twentieth-century Charleston, where the cream of society would sponsor so-called rat teas to promote city rodent control and better public health.

But this party goes from odd to chaotic when a fire starts at one of the tables and Doreen’s entrepreneur husband suddenly goes into convulsions and drops dead. Has his favorite orange pekoe tea been poisoned? Theo smells a rat.

The distraught Doreen soon engages Theo to pursue a discreet inquiry into who might have murdered her husband. As Theo and her tea sommelier review the guest list for suspects, they soon find themselves drawn into a dangerous game of cat and mouse...


My Review:
Pekoe Most Poison is a cozy mystery. It's the 18th 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.

The main characters acted fairly mature and respectable in this book. They asked good questions and found a number of people who had motives and opportunity. I suspected whodunit from the moment we're introduced to that character, but whodunit was not obvious. Afterward, I had to think a bit to identify why I was suspicious of whodunit and no one else.

I know I grumble about heroines who nearly end up victims of whodunit, and this ending really flipped things. But I was really baffled as to why the heroine didn't just call the police when she realized whodunit as her behavior was unnecessary and could have landed her in trouble.

There was a minor amount of "mild" bad language and no 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, March 5, 2017

The Cheltenham Square Murder by John Bude

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The Cheltenham Square Murder
by John Bude


ISBN-13: 9781464206696
Paperback: 288 pages
Publisher: Poisoned Pen Press
Released: March 7, 2017

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from NetGalley:
In the seeming tranquility of Regency Square in Cheltenham live the diverse inhabitants of its ten houses. One summer’s evening, the square’s rivalries and allegiances are disrupted by a sudden and unusual death – an arrow to the head, shot through an open window at no. 6.

Unfortunately for the murderer, Superintendent Meredith is visiting his friend, the crime writer Aldous Barnet. Three days after his arrival, Meredith finds himself investigating the shocking murder two doors down. Six of the square’s inhabitants are keen members of the Wellington Archery Club, but if Meredith thought that the case was going to be easy to solve, he was wrong…


My Review:
The Cheltenham Square Murder is a mystery novel that was originally published in 1937 and is set in England. The mystery was a clue-based puzzle.

Meredith and the local detective interview people and follow up on clues. I was certain of whodunit at a little over halfway through. I enjoyed the story, but I was disappointed that the normally observant and smart Superintendent Meredith overlooked what seemed a pretty obvious clue or two until the end. However, part of howdunit did come as a surprise to me.

There was no sex. There was a fair 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.


Friday, March 3, 2017

A Knightsbridge Scandal by Anita Davison

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A Knightsbridge Scandal
by Anita Davison


ISBN-13: 9781786690838
ebook: 300? pages
Publisher: Aria
Released: March 1, 2017

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from NetGalley:
Flora Maguire has come to enjoy some time in fashionable Knightsbridge, London. Extravagant shops, exuberant theatres and decadent restaurants mean 1903's London is a thrilling adventure, but there are dark secrets threatening from the continent.

When the body of a London socialite--a leading light of the burgeoning women’s movement--is found outside The Grenadier public house, Flora can’t resist investigating. Mysterious letters are discovered in the victim’s belongings, strange links to the foreign office, and why do the clues keep coming back to the assassination of a Baltic king?


My Review:
A Knightsbridge Scandal is a mystery set in 1903 in England. It's the third book in a series, but you don't need to read the previous books to understand this one. However, the characters referred to events in the previous novels and partly spoiled previous mysteries.

The characters were interesting, especially Flora's maid. Flora now seems to feel she's better at detective work than she actually is, which gets her into trouble. Flora still walks into dangerous situations, but in this book, she ends up passively waiting for someone to notice she's missing and rescue her.

Historical details (like politics, technology, etc.) were woven into the story and played a role in the mystery. Flora and her maid asked questions and uncovered clues. I strongly suspected whodunit as being the murderer from early on, and I had a fair idea of what was going on before Flora did. There was enough complexity to the mystery to keep it interesting, though.

There were no sex scenes. There was a very minor amount of bad language. Overall, I'd recommend this enjoyable historical mystery 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, March 1, 2017

The Rock Maiden by Natasha Yim

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The Rock Maiden
by Natasha Yim

Illustrated by:
Pirkko Vainio


ISBN-13: 9781937786656
Hardcover: 36 pages
Publisher: Wisdom Tales
Released: March 1, 2017

Source: Review copy from the publisher.

Book Description from Goodreads:
When her fisherman husband fails to come home after a storm at sea, the beautiful maiden Ling Yee is heartbroken. Every morning, she puts her baby on her back and clambers to the top of a cliff looking for any signs of his return. But day after day, she is disappointed. The villagers try to convince her to give up her vigil. "No," she would say, "He will come home soon." Tin Hau, the Goddess of the Heavens, takes pity on her grief and turns Ling Yee and her child into stone so that they would mourn no more. The fisherman eventually finds his way home--only to discover that his wife has been transformed into the Rock Maiden.

Will the family forever be kept apart? Find out in this re-envisioning of an old Hong Kong legend by award-winning author Natasha Yim, featuring stunning illustrations by renowned Finnish artist Pirkko Vainio.


My Review:
The Rock Maiden is an old Hong Kong legend, modified for ages 4 & up. The text tells a compelling, sweet story about the love and loyalty of a husband and wife. The legend was modified to provide us with a happy ending. The illustrations have the look of watercolors and are lovely. They illustrate the text but also fill out the story by showing details about village life. This makes it feel like a true tale. I enjoyed studying these illustrations. Overall, I'd recommend this juvenile fiction book.


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


Excerpt: View a full page spread from book.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Bookman Dead Style by Paige Shelton

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Bookman Dead Style
by Paige Shelton


ISBN-13: 9780425277263
Mass Market Paperback:
304 pages
Publisher: Berkley Prime Crime
Released: Feb. 7, 2017

Source: Review copy from the publisher.

Book Description, Modified from Back Cover:
It’s January, and the Star City Film Festival has taken the Utah ski resort town by storm. Movie stars are everywhere, including The Rescued Word, where Clare Henry and her grandfather restore old typewriters and beloved books. When cinema’s hottest superhero, Matt Bane, enters their store to buy some personalized notecards, it’s hard not to be starstruck.

But when Clare sees the police leading Matt out of The Fountain hotel in handcuffs only a few hours later, she can’t believe her eyes. The affable actor is accused of killing his sister, but Clare’s convinced he’s wrong for that role. Now it’s open call for suspects as Clare tries to reel in the killer before another victim fades to black


My Review:
Bookman Dead Style is a cozy mystery. It's the second book in a series. You don't need to read the previous book to understand this story, and this book didn't spoil the previous one.

The main characters were mature, engaging, nice people. The mystery was clue-based, but keeping an eye on those with a possible motive didn't provide Clare with much in the way of usable leads. The final, critical clues were spotted by Clare at the end, allowing her to solve the case and even provide proof that will assure whodunit's conviction.

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.

Friday, February 24, 2017

When God Made You by Matthew Paul Turner

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When God Made You
by Matthew Paul Turner

Illustrated by:
David Catrow

ISBN-13: 9781601429186
Hardcover: 40 pages
Publisher: Waterbrook Press
Released: Feb. 28, 2017

Source: Review copy from the publisher.

Book Description from Goodreads:
From early on, children are looking to discover their place in the world and longing to understand how their personalities, traits, and talents fit in. The assurance that they are deeply loved and a unique creation in our big universe is certain to help them spread their wings and fly.

Through playful, charming rhyme and vivid, fantastical illustrations, When God Made You inspires young readers to learn about their own special gifts and how they fit into God's divine plan as they grow, explore, and begin to create for themselves.

'Cause when God made YOU, somehow God knew
That the world needed someone exactly like you!



My Review:
When God Made You is a Christian children's book for ages 3 to 7. It reminds me of Dr. Seuss' books. The rhyming text has a nice cadence to it that is fun to read, and the colorful, fanciful illustrations will catch your eye. I've read this book several times already, and I'm an adult! Overall, I'd highly recommend this book.

The text encourages readers that God made us the way that we are and that He delights when we explore and use our unique talents. We're also encouraged to have faith, hope, love, and be kind.

I'll mention that the text says "God pictured your nose and all ten of your toes. / The sound of your voice? God had it composed." Some children do not have ten toes, so it's too bad it didn't just say "all of your toes." Also, there are a couple of words like "debut" and "revue" that may need to be explained the first time through.

The illustrations are very colorful and full of life and detail. You can spend some time looking at everything, making it more interesting to read again and again. After the text says "when you make-believe, the stories conceived," the illustrations went in a fanciful, imaginative direction that didn't necessarily match the text. It's clear by the end that what happened is make-believe, but it's a little surprising the first time through.


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, February 19, 2017

Murder on the Moor by Julianna Deering

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Murder on the Moor
by Julianna Deering


ISBN-13: 9780764218286
Paperback: 336 pages
Publisher: Bethany House
Released: Jan. 31, 2017

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from NetGalley:
At the urgent request of an old school friend, Drew and Madeline Farthering come to Bloodworth Park Lodge in the midst of the Yorkshire moors. There have been several worrisome incidents out on the moor and, worst of all, the vicar has been found dead on the steps of the church.

Drew's friend is obviously smitten with his bride of eight months, though it's hard to imagine what she sees in the awkward man. Drew can't help wondering if her affections lie more with the man's money and estate, while her romantic interests focus on their fiery Welsh gamekeeper. As the danger grows ever closer, Drew must look past his own prejudices, determine what is really going on, and find the killer before it's too late.


My Review:
Murder on the Moor is a historical mystery set in 1934 in England. It's the fifth 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. Since Drew was betrayed by a beautiful woman in the past, he struggled to be objective about some of the suspects and misinterpreted some of what was going on.

The mystery was a clue-based puzzle. Some of the clues seemed obvious to me, though they were overlooked by the characters for various reasons until nearly the end. So whodunit didn't come as a surprise though I also didn't guess every aspect correctly.

The characters were Christian, and Drew subtlety pointed a few nonbelievers toward God. There were no sex scenes. There was no bad language. Overall, I'd recommend this 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, February 17, 2017

Mission Impawsible by Krista Davis

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Mission Impawsible
by Krista Davis


ISBN-13: 9781101988565
Mass Market Paperback:
304 pages
Publisher: Berkley Prime Crime
Released: Feb. 7, 2017

Source: Review copy from the publisher.

Book Description, Modified from Back Cover:
In the pet-friendly town of Wagtail, Virginia, Holly and her grandmother, Oma, are working their tails off to prepare the Sugar Maple Inn for an upcoming matchmaking event for pet owners. While Holly has no interest in pairing up, Oma plans on playing Cupid and finding someone to warm her reluctant granddaughter's heart.

Unfortunately, one man Holly does meet is cold, dead cold, and he has a personal letter from Oma in his pocket. As suspicion is cast over the inn's guests, Holly, with the help of her furry friends, Trixie the Jack Russell and Twinkletoes the cat, must fetch the real killer, or she may soon have a date in court.


My Review:
Mission Impawsible is a cozy mystery. It's the fourth 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.

The pet antics were fun, as usual, and Holly is generally a mature and nice person. I'm not seeing her attraction to a guy who is afraid of killers as something that could last very long, though. The mystery was clue based and could be guessed from the clues. It took a bit to narrow down the suspects as the meaning of the clues wasn't always clear. I wasn't completely certain I was correct about whodunit until nearly the end. Nice!

There was no sex or bad language. Overall, I'd recommend this interesting and 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, February 12, 2017

The 12.30 from Croydon by Freeman Wills Crofts

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The 12.30 from Croydon
by Freeman Wills Crofts


ISBN-13: 9781464206733
Paperback: 358 pages
Publisher: Poisoned Pen Press
Released: Feb. 7, 2017

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from Goodreads:
Andrew Crowther, a wealthy retired manufacturer, is found dead in his seat on the 12.30 flight from Croydon to Paris. From there, we flash back to the killer's perspective. We live with the killer at every stage, from the first thoughts of murder to the strains and stresses of living with its execution.

Seen from the criminal's perspective, a mild-mannered Inspector by the name of French is simply another character who needs to be dealt with. This is an unconventional yet gripping story of intrigue, justification, and self-delusion. And will the killer get away with it?


My Review:
The 12.30 from Croydon is a suspense novel that was originally published in 1934 and is set in England. While Inspector French is on the case, we don't hear the case from his perspective until the very end. Most of the novel was from the murderer's point of view.

We know exactly how the murder was committed because we see it happen from the first thoughts to how he carefully planned and committed every step. Like the criminal, we don't know where any mistakes were made or what clues the Inspector has found. Will Inspector French settle on the right suspect?

I liked the other characters and hoped they didn't get accused. I didn't like or dislike the murderer. His reasons were understandable and not entirely selfish, but they didn't justify murder. Still, I found myself unaccountably sighing with relief along with him! The story certainly made me tense with suspense.

There was no sex. There was a minor amount of bad language. Overall, I'd recommend this interesting, suspenseful "reverse mystery."


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


Friday, February 10, 2017

No Man's Land by Simon Tolkien

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No Man's Land
by Simon Tolkien


ISBN-13: 9780385541978
Hardcover: 592 pages
Publisher: Nan A. Talese
Released: Jan. 24, 2017

Source: Review copy from the publisher.

Book Description, Modified from Goodreads:
Inspired by the real-life experiences of his grandfather, J. R. R. Tolkien, during World War I, Simon Tolkien delivers a perfectly rendered novel rife with class tension, period detail, and stirring action, ranging from the sharply divided society of northern England to the trenches of the Somme.

Adam Raine's impoverished childhood in turn-of-the-century London comes to a sudden and tragic end when his mother is killed in a workers' protest march. His father, Daniel, is barely able to cope with the loss. But a job offer in the coal mining town of Scarsdale presents one last chance, so father and son head north. The relocation is hard on Adam: the local boys prove difficult to befriend, and he never quite fits in. Meanwhile tensions between the miners and their employer, Sir John Scarsdale, escalate, and finally explode with terrible consequences.

In the aftermath, Adam's fate shifts once again, and he finds himself drawn into the opulent Scarsdale family home where he makes an enemy of Sir John's son, Brice, who subjects Adam to a succession of petty cruelties for daring to step above his station. However, Adam finds consolation in the company of Miriam, the local parson's beautiful daughter with whom he falls in love. When they become engaged and Adam wins a scholarship to Oxford, he starts to feel that his life is finally coming together--until the outbreak of war threatens to tear everything apart.


My Review:
No Man's Land is historical fiction set in 1909 to 1919 in England and France. Though the novel is lengthy, the author wasn't wordy. He brought the time period alive with vivid descriptions, and these details didn't slow the story but served to move the story forward. Every scene served to develop the characters into complex, realistic people with a wide range of personalities.

I didn't intend to read this book because the WWI scenes take up nearly half of the book and I knew those scenes would be hard to read. But I give every book a chance, and I was so drawn into the story that I ended up reading the whole thing. Many bad things happen, but I didn't feel forced to "live" the emotions with the characters even though I sympathized with the pain and struggles that they went through.

Trench warfare wasn't pretty, and the horrors of it are described. Yet there was just enough distance that I didn't feel like I was living it with the characters; it just inspired great sympathy for those who lived through it. There were no sex scenes. There was some bad language. Overall, I'd recommend this well-written historical novel.


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


Excerpt: Read an excerpt using Google Preview.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Still Life by Dani Pettrey

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Still Life
by Dani Pettrey


ISBN-13: 9780764212956
Paperback: 352 pages
Publisher: Bethany House
Released: Jan. 31, 2017

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description from NetGalley:
Blacklisted in the photography business over a controversial shot, Avery Tate answered an ad for a crime scene photographer. She expected to be laughed at, but crime scene analyst Parker Mitchell hired her outright--and changed her life. But six months ago, when her feelings for Parker became too strong, she left his employ to sort out her heart.

Now, for the first time, Avery is facing the world that rejected her to attend the gallery opening of a photography exhibit and support her best friend, who modeled for the show. But the only image of her friend is a chilling photo of her posing as if dead--and the photographer insists he didn't take the shot. Worse, her friend can't be found. She immediately calls Parker for help. As Avery, Parker, and his friends in law enforcement dig into the mystery, they find themselves face-to-face with a relentless and deadly threat.


My Review:
Still Life is a Christian romantic suspense novel. It's the second book in a series. It can be read as a stand-alone novel, but there are two ongoing cases that continue to be investigated throughout the series and much of the background for these cases was in the first novel. This book had two cases, and one was related to an ongoing case.

The characters were complex and dealt with realistic struggles. Avery struggled with her unsavory past, especially as she was the one who got her best friend started in a life of crime. Parker struggled with the idea that loving another woman would dishonor the memory of his first love (who was murdered years ago).

The suspense came from not knowing if Avery's friend was still alive, then from danger to Avery. One of their suspects was a sick-minded fellow who photographed women in a way that made them look as if they're dead. Though not gory, I'll have a hard time getting his creepy work out of my mind.

The characters prayed to God to help them with the case and to help let go of guilt over the past. 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.

Friday, February 3, 2017

Maybe It's You by Candace Calvert

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Maybe It's You
by Candace Calvert


ISBN-13: 9781414390369
Paperback: 425 pages
Publisher: Tyndale House
Released: Feb. 3, 2017

Source: Review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from Back Cover:
ER nurse Sloane Ferrell escaped her risky past--new name, zip code, job, and a fresh start. She's finally safe, if she avoids a paper trail and doesn't let people get too close. Like the hospital's too-smooth marketing man with his relentless campaign to plaster one "lucky" employee's face on freeway billboards.

Micah Prescott's goal is to improve the Hope hospital image, but his role as a volunteer crisis responder is closer to his heart. The selfless work helps fill a void in his life left by family tragedy. So does a tentative new relationship with the compassionate, beautiful, and elusive Sloane Ferrell. Then a string of brutal crimes makes headlines, summons responders . . . and exposes disturbing details of Sloane's past. Can hope spring from crisis?


My Review:
Maybe It's You is a Christian romantic suspense novel. It's the third book in a series. It has different main characters than the previous books, but Sloane is a character in those books so this one is more enjoyable if you've at least read the previous novel.

Sloane is running from her past bad decisions and abuse. She's fighting alcoholism and hiding from organized crime bosses that are after her ex-boyfriend. Because of her past, she shows great compassion toward down-and-out people that others would dismiss as worthless, and this catches Micah's interest. He finds fulfillment in his crisis team work, but he holds a grudge toward all alcoholics after losing a close relative to drunk driving. Sloane not only has to deal with an ex-boyfriend determined to drag her back into her old life but wondering if Micah will reject her if he learns about her past.

The characters were likable, well-developed, and had interesting challenges to deal with. The suspense came from the ongoing danger for several characters. The characters dealt with accepting God's grace and forgiving others. There was no bad language. There was a scene where the intense kissing seemed headed for the bedroom, but there was no sex.


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, January 29, 2017

Shine Like the Dawn by Carrie Turansky

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Shine Like the Dawn
by Carrie Turansky


ISBN-13: 9781601429407
Trade Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: Multnomah Books
Released: Feb. 21, 2017

Source: Review copy from the publisher through Blogging for Books.

Book Description, Modified from Back Cover:
In a quiet corner of northern Edwardian England, Margaret Lounsbury diligently works in her grandmother's millinery shop, making hats and caring for her young sister. Several years earlier, a terrible event reshaped their family, shattering an idyllic life and their future prospects. Maggie is resilient and will do what she must to protect her sister Violet. Still, the loss of her parents weighs heavily on her heart because she wonders if what happened that day on the lake might not have been an accident.

When wealthy inventor and industrialist William Harcourt dies, his son and Maggie's estranged childhood friend, Nathaniel returns from his time in the Royal Navy and inherits his father's vast estate, Morningside Manor. He also assumes partial control of his father's engineering company and the duty of repaying an old debt to the Lounsbury family. But years of separation between Nate and Maggie have taken a toll and Maggie struggles to trust her old friend.

Can Maggie let go of the resentment that keeps her from forgiving Nate and reconciling with God? Will the search for the truth about her parents death draw the two friends closer or leave them both with broken hearts?


My Review:
Shine Like the Dawn is a Christian romance set in 1903 in England. The historical details weren't heavy and were woven into the story. If the hat-making aspect was a draw, be warned that only one scene involved hat-making. The main characters were well-developed, and I liked Nate, Violet, the grandmother. I was interested in the challenges that Nate faced in building a relationship with his half-sister, dealing with a pushy step-mother, and trying to stop a strike when he had only limited power and influence in the company.

But I don't see what two men found so attractive in Maggie that they wanted to marry her. Where Nate gave people the benefit of the doubt, Maggie condemned people as guilty until proven innocent. She briefly wondered if it's unfair of her to hold Nate responsible for his parent's hurtful actions yet she still did so. She won't even credit Nate's efforts to help her due to her grudge and because he can't stop bad things from happening to her.

As for the mystery, Maggie snooped around and found some clues. Though she lacked proof, she was ready to accuse and ruin someone's reputation even when Nate felt she shouldn't go to the police yet. Basically, he had to choose between supporting her even if he had doubts or losing her trust.

The Christian element was Maggie learning to trust God again and to realize where her attitude had led her. There was no sex or bad language. Overall, I'd recommend this interesting story even if I didn't understand why men were attracted to Maggie.


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, January 27, 2017

Telling Tails by Sofie Ryan

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Telling Tails
by Sofie Ryan


ISBN-13: 9781101991206
Mass Market Paperback:
304 pages
Publisher: Berkley Prime Crime
Released: Jan. 3, 2017

Source: Review copy from the publisher.

Book Description, Modified from Back Cover:
When Sarah Grayson opened a secondhand shop in the quaint town of North Harbor, Maine, she didn't expect to be adopted by a rescue cat named Elvis and kooky senior sleuths known as Charlotte’s Angels.

Sarah’s employee (and one of those Angels), Rose, agrees to deliver purchase for a customer. Rose arrives just in time to see the customer murdered by a woman--right before Rose is knocked out. When she wakes up, no one believes her, especially after the wife claims her husband is very much alive and has left her for someone else—and has a text message and empty bank account to prove it. Sarah, Elvis, and the Angels are determined to unravel this mystery.


My Review:
Telling Tails is a cozy mystery. It's the fourth book in a series. I'd recommend reading the previous books first as you'll better understand the character's actions in this book. There were also references to events that happened in previous books, though no whodunits were spoiled.

The main characters were engaging. The mystery was clue-based, and the story focused on collecting those clues. I was annoyed that the author didn't clearly state when Rose saw the apparent crime happen as the characters seemed to know. It's hard to confirm how solid an alibi is without that information. Still, whodunit could be solved using the given clues (and before the Angels figured it out). However, the explanation at the end was difficult to follow as it seemed overly complicated. The clues were all explained, yet important details about how the murders were done were glossed over.

There was no sex. There was a minor amount of bad language. Overall, I'd recommend this 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, January 22, 2017

Good Good Father for Little Ones by Chris Tomlin & Pat Barrett

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Good Good Father for Little Ones
by Chris Tomlin &
Pat Barrett


ISBN-13: 9780718086978
Board Book: 24 pages
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Released: Jan. 31, 2017

Source: Review copy from the publisher through BookLook.

Book Description, Modified from BookLook:
With sweet, rhyming text, Good Good Father for Little Ones explores many of the attributes that make God such a good, good Father: like a warrior, He protects you; like a teacher, He helps you learn and grow; like a king, he rules with your very best in mind; like a farmer, He grows the yummy food you need; like a musician, He loves to see you dance and giggle. Most of all, a good, good Father loves you!

Illustrated with stunning art by Lorna Hussey and penned by Grammy Award-winning Christian music artist Chris Tomlin and Pat Barrett.


My Review:
Good Good Father for Little Ones is a children's board book. I thought it was supposed to be about God, but there isn't a single mention of God in the text. The book started by asking "What is a good, good father like?" and then describes this father. But unless you know that the lion with the crown is meant to be God, it sounds like a list of things that a good human father will do.

Perhaps if the text had said, "God is a good, good father," I would have liked the book. The illustrations and rhyming text are simple, but nice. The book did describe some things about God--he protects you, teaches you, grows food, loves to see you dance and giggle, listens to you, forgives you, etc. A few are a little obscure, like "gives you medicine and fixes boo-boos," which a real dad might do, but not how I'd described God. And even a human father won't do all these things (like garden) which may be confusing for children. Since the book isn't clearly about God and could be confusing, I was disappointed.


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.

A Bend in the Willow by Susan Clayton-Goldner

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A Bend in the Willow
by Susan Clayton-Goldner


ISBN-13: 9781370816842
ebook: 275 pages
Publisher: Tirgearr Publishing
Released: Jan. 18, 2017

Source: ebook review copy from the author through the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from NetGalley:
Willowood, Kentucky - Robin Lee Carter is abused as a child and made fun of as "dirty junkyard trash" by other kids. In 1965, she disappears the same night a fire kills her rapist. She reinvents herself and lives a respectable life as Catherine Henry, married to a medical school professor in Tucson, Arizona.

In 1985, their 5-year-old son, Michael, is diagnosed with a chemotherapy-resistant leukemia. Their only hope is a bone marrow transplant, but no match is found. She must admit that she's been lying about her past and face the family she's left behind: her brother who thinks she's dead and a 19-year-old son, a product of her rape, who she gave up for adoption. She knows her return may lead to a murder charge, but Michael is suffering terribly and her husband no longer trusts her. Will she lose everything in her attempts to save her dying son?


My Review:
A Bend in the Willow is women's fiction set in 1985 with frequent flashbacks to Robin Lee's childhood. I expected the book to focus on healing from the past. But, no, it's basically watching Robin Lee be physically and emotionally tortured--by sexual, physical, and emotional abuse in her past and by guilt now.

We're told the details of the horrible things the sick son has to endure and of the abuse she and her siblings endured as children, but apparently that wasn't enough. The husband's father is also sick with cancer. The husband may lose his dream job. And so on.

So many pages were spent adding layers of pain and guilt that relatively little time was spent on rebuilding the relationships and finding healing--the things I was interested in. People initially refused to even listen to Robin Lee because they felt so hurt but would decide that they needed to get over it for the sake of the sweet, sick boy.

In the last 4% of the story, things started looking hopeful. Then the story ends. We're left with hope that Michael may get better yet uncertain if things really do work out okay in the end. This left me feeling very frustrated.

There were some graphic details when describing the sexual abuse. 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.


Friday, January 20, 2017

Betrayal at Cleeve Abbey by Anita Davison

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Betrayal at Cleeve Abbey
by Anita Davison


ISBN-13: 9781786690821
Paperback: 294 pages
Publisher: Aria
Released: Dec. 1, 2016

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from Goodreads:
Flora Maguire is now happily married to Bunny Harrington and living in Richmond when she receives an alarming telegram informing her of her father's tragic death in a suspicious riding accident at Cleeve Abbey.

Heartbroken, she and Bunny return to her former home, where she was Governess to Eddy, Viscount Trent, and her father was Butler to Earl Trent.

Flora’s intention was to bury him next to Lily, her mother, who passed away when Flora was a small child. But mystery surrounds the final resting place of Lily, and no-one is willing to talk. Flora must uncover hidden family secrets as she also solves her father's murder.


My Review:
Betrayal at Cleeve Abbey is a mystery set in 1902 in England. It's the second book in a series, but you don't need to read the previous books to understand this one. However, the characters referred to some events in the previous novel including (I think) spoiling whodunit.

The characters were interesting. I liked how Flora's husband was very supportive of her and that Flora was able to handle herself creditably in a dangerous situation. The many historical details (like news, technology, dress, etc.) were woven into the story without slowing the pacing.

The story involved several mysteries--past and present--that might or might not be connected. Some mysteries were a matter of finding the person who knew what had happened and was willing to talk about it, which wasn't exactly easy. For the murder mystery, Flora asked questions and uncovered clues until she had a good picture of what had happened. I was not surprised by whodunit, but I hadn't guessed whydunit until the confession scene.

There were no graphic sex scenes. There was no bad language. Overall, I'd recommend this enjoyable historical mystery 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, January 15, 2017

An Uncommon Courtship by Kristi Ann Hunter

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An Uncommon Courtship
by Kristi Ann Hunter


ISBN-13: 9780764218262
Paperback: 352 pages
Publisher: Bethany House
Released: Jan. 3, 2017

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from NetGalley:
The last thing Lady Adelaide Bell expected was a marriage of convenience to save her previously spotless reputation. What's worse is that her socially ambitious mother could have saved Adelaide's reputation and now clearly hopes to use her to gain social position for her favorite daughter, Adelaide's sister.

Lord Trent Hawthorne had grand plans of wooing and falling in love with the woman of his choice. When he finds himself honor bound to marry a woman he doesn't know, his dream of a marriage like his parents' seems lost forever. Already starting their marriage on shaky ground, can Adelaide and Trent's relationship survive the pressures of London society?


My Review:
An Uncommon Courtship is a Christian historical novel set in 1814 in England. It's the third book in the series. You don't need to read the previous novels to understand this one, but you'll probably enjoy it more if you know the history behind the "for love" marriages of the other characters.

Frankly, I felt like the story started in the wrong spot. I would have loved seeing Trent and Adelaide interacting when trapped in the ruins, but that's skipped over. The first chapters were mostly each character thinking about what had happened, their dashed hopes, and their worries. I tend to be bored by beginning chapters that are mostly a character thinking rather than interacting. Once the main characters started interacting, I found the story more engaging.

Trent wanted love in his marriage, but what is love? Knowing a person's favorite color or being able to finish their sentences? He consulted with his family and married friends (from previous stories) to learn the answer, and they directed him to the Bible for answers about love and marriage. Whereas the advice of Adelaide's mother seemed more likely to ruin the marriage.

Because Trent and Adelaide are married, they do have sex (though no sex scenes) and have some vague discussions about sex with others (as no one had prepared them for their wedding night). There was no bad language. Overall, I'd recommend this book to fans of the Hawthorne House series. If you haven't read any of them, though, I'd recommend starting with an earlier 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.