Sunday, October 29, 2017

Murder for Christmas by Francis Duncan

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Murder for Christmas
by Francis Duncan


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

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

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

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


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

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

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


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


Excerpt: Read an excerpt using Google Preview.

Friday, October 27, 2017

Lady Jayne Disappears by Joanna Davidson Politano

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Lady Jayne Disappears
by Joanna Davidson Politano


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

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

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

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


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

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

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

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


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


Excerpt: Read an excerpt using Google Preview.

Monday, October 23, 2017

The Dishonorable Miss Delancey by Carolyn Miller

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The Dishonorable Miss Delancey
by Carolyn Miller


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

Source: Review copy from the publisher.

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


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


Excerpt: Read an excerpt using Google Preview.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Snowdrift and Other Stories by Georgette Heyer

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Snowdrift and Other Stories
by Georgette Heyer


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

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

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

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


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

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

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


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


Excerpt: Read an excerpt using Google Preview.

Friday, October 20, 2017

Blind Spot by Dani Pettrey

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Blind Spot
by Dani Pettrey


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

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

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

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


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

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

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


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


Excerpt: Read an excerpt using Google Preview.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Dangerous Illusions by Irene Hannon

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Dangerous Illusions
by Irene Hannon


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

Source: Review copy from the publisher.

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

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


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

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

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

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


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


Excerpt: Read an excerpt using Google Preview.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

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

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


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

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

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

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

* * *

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


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

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

There was no sex. There was some bad language. Overall, I'd recommend this enjoyable mystery.


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


Excerpt: Read an excerpt using Google Preview.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Death in St. Petersburg by Tasha Alexander

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Death in St. Petersburg
by Tasha Alexander


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

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

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

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


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

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

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


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


Excerpt: Read an excerpt using Google Preview.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

A Room With a Brew by Joyce Tremel

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A Room With a Brew
by Joyce Tremel


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

Source: Review copy from the publisher.

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

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


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

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

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


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


Excerpt: Read an excerpt using Google Preview.

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Where We Belong by Lynn Austin

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Where We Belong
by Lynn Austin


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

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

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

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


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

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

The sisters trusted God with their safety and future, and Rebecca looked for ancient biblical manuscripts to help defend the accuracy of the Bible. There was no sex or bad language. Overall, I'd recommend this enjoyable novel.


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


Excerpt: Read an excerpt using Google Preview.

Friday, October 6, 2017

Verdict of Twelve by Raymond Postgate

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Verdict of Twelve
by Raymond Postgate


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

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

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

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


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

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

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


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


Excerpt: Read an excerpt using Google Preview.

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Christmas Amnesia by Laura Scott

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Christmas Amnesia
by Laura Scott


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

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

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

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

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


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

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

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


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


Excerpt: Read an excerpt using Google Preview.