Friday, September 29, 2017

A Dangerous Year by Kes Trester

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A Dangerous Year
by Kes Trester


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

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

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

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

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


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

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

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


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


Monday, September 25, 2017

Deadly Proof by Rachel Dylan

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Deadly Proof
by Rachel Dylan


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

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

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

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

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


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

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

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


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


Excerpt: Read an excerpt using Google Preview.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Miss Kopp's Midnight Confessions by Amy Stewart

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Miss Kopp's Midnight Confessions
by Amy Stewart


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

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

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

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

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


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

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

There was no sex or bad language. Overall, I'd highly recommend this enjoyable story.


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


Excerpt: Read an excerpt using Google Preview.

Friday, September 22, 2017

Pudding Up With Murder by Julia Buckley

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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 fiancĂ©, 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.