Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Dragon Raider by Ava Richardson

book cover
Dragon Raider
by Ava Richardson


ISBN-13: 9781986793100
ebook: 294 pages
Publisher: Relay Publishing
Released: March 24, 2018

Source: Review copy from the publisher.

Book Description, Modified from Goodreads:
Far from the kingdom of Torvald, on the Western Isles near the coast, Lila is the daughter of the Raider leader, destined to take his place one day aboard their plundering ships. But Lila wants the Raiders to become Dragon Mercenaries, dragon riders who help protect merchant fleets and navies from attack. Her father Kasian is skeptical, but a young mage named Danu—with a quest of his own—comes bearing a prophecy claiming that Lila is the lost heir of Roskilde.

With Danu’s guidance, Lila finds the dragon she’s destined to bond with—but the mismatched pair soon learn that much more than just their futures is at stake.


My Review:
Dragon Raider is a young adult fantasy novel. The heroine is a young woman who was adopted as an orphaned baby by the leaders of the Sea Raiders, a group of people reminiscent of the Vikings. She wants to bond with a dragon and create a Dragon Raider group because the Sea Raiders' ships are getting destroyed by an evil, neighboring, usurper King. But the heroine no longer quite fits in with the Sea Raiders once she tries to forge a new path, even if it's one that will save them.

Danu is a young man with the ability to do magic and speak with dragons. He was training with the witches when the leader of the witches had a dream prophecy. Now Danu is committed to finding the rightful heir to the throne of Roskilde, who will stand against the returning darkening. However, convincing the heroine that he is trustworthy and that she is the princess is the least of his problems. Not everyone is convinced that a Sea Raider heir can ever be on the right side of a war.

The characters were interesting and acted realistically. The world building was woven into the story. There was a lot of action and suspense, including several battles. There was no sex. There was a very minor amount of bad language. Overall, I'd recommend this interesting and exciting fantasy.


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, April 22, 2018

Shot in the Dark by Cleo Coyle

book cover
Shot in the Dark
by Cleo Coyle


ISBN-13: 9780451488848
Hardcover: 352 pages
Publisher: Berkley Prime Crime
Released: April 17, 2018

Source: Review copy from the publisher.

Book Description, Modified from Goodreads:
As Village Blend manager Clare Cosi attempts to finalize a date for her wedding, her ex-husband becomes addicted to making dates through smartphone swipes. Clare has mixed feelings about these quickie matchups happening in her coffeehouse. Even her octogenarian employer is selecting suitors by screenshot! But business is booming, and Clare works hard to keep the espresso shots flowing. Then one dark night, another kind of shot leaves a dead body for her to find.

Now, with the help of her ex and crew of quirky baristas, Clare starts "swiping" through suspects in her own shop, determined to find the real killer before another shot rings out.


My Review:
Shot in the Dark is a cozy mystery about drugs and dating apps. This novel is the 17th in the series. You don't need to read the previous novels to understand this one, and this story didn't spoil the whodunit of the previous books.

The story mainly focused on a dating app that encouraged people to casually hook up and dump each other. A woman uses Clare's shop to dramatically threaten to shoot a man who verbally abuses women after dates. Videos go viral. Clare tries to save the coffee shop's reputation while solving two murders. Clare asked good questions and noticed things that didn't seem right, so there were clues. You can tell who were bad guys. However, what's going on is complex enough that it was difficult to know precisely who did what until the end.

There was a fair amount of bad language. Clare and her boyfriend frequently headed for the bedroom, but it was fade-to-black style; there were no graphic sex scenes. 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, April 20, 2018

In Prior's Wood by G. M. Malliet

book cover
In Prior's Wood
by G. M. Malliet


ISBN-13: 9781250092809
Hardcover: 304 pages
Publisher: Minotaur Books
Released: April 17, 2018

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from Goodreads:
Newly returned from investigating a murder in Monkslip-super-Mare, handsome Max Tudor wants nothing more than to settle back into his predictable routine as vicar of St. Edwold’s Church in the village of Nether Monkslip. But the flow of his sermon on Bathsheba is interrupted when the lady of the local manor house is found in a suicide pact with her young lover.

Lady Duxter’s husband rallies quickly from the double tragedy―too quickly, it is murmured in the village. When a young girl goes missing and a crime writer becomes a target, DCI Cotton asks Max to lend his MI5 expertise to the investigation.


My Review:
In Prior's Wood is a mystery set in England. This is the seventh book in a series. You don't need to read the previous books to understand this one, and this one did not spoil the mysteries of the previous books.

Details about the setting were woven into the story, making the village seem a distinct, unique place full of interesting people. The point of view was distant rather than deeply in someone's head, so we got the background and thoughts of a number of characters. Max, an Anglican priest married to a Wiccan, was the main point-of-view character. People came to him to share their concerns about things that happened, and Max gleaned clues from these conversations. He helped his detective friend solve the mystery. We're not told everything that Max hears, thinks, or does, so some things came as a surprise and were explained only at the end. Even so, there were enough clues that I strongly suspected whodunit.

There were no sex scenes. There was occasional use of bad language. Overall, I'd recommend this interesting and relaxing 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, April 18, 2018

A Death of No Importance by Mariah Fredericks

book cover
A Death of No Importance
by Mariah Fredericks


ISBN-13: 9781250152978
Hardcover: 288 pages
Publisher: Minotaur Books
Released: April 10, 2018

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from NetGalley:
New York City, 1910. Invisible until she’s needed, Jane Prescott has perfected the art of serving as a ladies’ maid to the city’s upper echelons. When she takes up a position with the Benchley family, dismissed by the city’s elite as “new money”, Jane realizes that while she may not have financial privilege, she has a power they do not—she understands the rules of high society. The Benchleys cause further outrage when their daughter Charlotte becomes engaged to notorious playboy Norrie, the son of the eminent Newsome family.

But when Norrie is found murdered at a party, Jane discovers she is uniquely positioned—she’s a woman no one sees, but who witnesses everything; who possesses no social power, but that of fierce intellect—and therefore has the tools to solve his murder. There are many with grudges to bear: from the family Norrie was supposed to marry into, to the survivors of a tragic accident in a mine owned by the Newsomes, to the rising anarchists who are sick of those born into wealth getting away with anything they want. Jane also knows that in both high society and the city’s underbelly, morals can become cheap in the wrong hands: scandal and violence simmer just beneath the surface—and can break out at any time.


My Review:
A Death of No Importance is a mystery set in 1910 in New York City. I loved that the lady's maid was able to solve the mystery because of her skill set. Jane knew a wine stain from a blood stain, how different stain patterns might happen (jostled elbow, etc.), and noticed things that were out of place, all because it's her job to clean these things up. She was wise in how she gathered clues and intelligent in her ability to put the clues together. Since so many people had motive and opportunity, it wasn't an easy task to narrow things down. While one character seemed the most likely murderer to me, I wasn't certain about whodunit until the very end.

Vivid historical and setting details were woven into the mystery, and the writing immersed me in the story. It felt like this really could have happened and that these people once lived. The characters acted realistically and were interesting and varied. I cared about what happened to the various characters, even the less likable ones. I understood why they acted as they did.

There were no sex scenes, though a past rape was described in vague terms by one character. There was a minor amount of bad language. Overall, I'd highly recommend this historical mystery.


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


Excerpt: Read an excerpt using Google Preview.

Sunday, April 15, 2018

The Leavenworth Case by Anna Katharine Green

book cover
The Leavenworth Case
by Anna Katharine Green


ISBN-13: 9780486823508
Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: Dover Publications
Released: April 18. 2018

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description from Goodreads:
Horatio Leavenworth, a wealthy merchant and pillar of nineteenth-century New York society, has been found shot to death in his Fifth Avenue mansion. Circumstances point to a member of his household as the killer and particularly to his lovely nieces, one of whom will inherit his fortune. The idea of a lady murderer, especially one of the Leavenworths' social stature, is almost too shocking to entertain, although the evidence — a broken key, an incriminating letter, and an overheard snatch of conversation — points toward the young nieces. But which one?

This brilliantly plotted tale of love, greed, sacrifice, and betrayal introduced the first American series detective, Ebenezer Gryce, and is widely considered the first full-length detective story written by a woman. The suspenseful bestseller is credited with attracting writers to a genre previously considered unworthy of serious literary attention. It remains not only a fascinating whodunit but also an absorbing look at nineteenth-century mores and manners.


My Review:
The Leavenworth Case is a mystery set in New York City that was first published in 1878. A rich man is found murdered in a locked library, and a niece who will inherit little is caught destroying evidence along with the key to the library. The clues soon point suspicion instead toward someone who has much more to gain from the death, but did that person commit the murder or get someone else to do it?

While I initially correctly guessed whodunit, the clues pointed first here and then there, so I was no longer certain about who did it until the confession at the end. The main character was a gentleman in whom the ladies and others trusted and confided. He helped the official detective to gather clues, but the detective was the one to provoke the confession.

The characters were interesting and a product of their time, but they weren't highly developed. There was no sex or bad language (beyond a few exclamations referring to God by people who believed in God). Overall, I'd recommend this interesting and complex 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, April 13, 2018

Cinco de Murder by Rebecca Adler

book cover
Cinco de Murder
by Rebecca Adler


ISBN-13: 9780425275955
Mass Market Paperback:
304 pages
Publisher: Berkley Prime Crime
Released: April 3, 2018

Source: Review copy from the publisher.

Book Description, Modified from Goodreads:
It's fiesta time in Broken Boot, Texas, and tourists are pouring into town faster than free beer at a bull roping for the mouthwatering Cinco de Mayo festivities. Tex-Mex waitress Josie Callahan, her feisty abuela, and even her spunky Chihuahua Lenny are polishing their folklorico dances for Saturday's big parade, while Uncle Eddie is adding his own spicy event to the fiesta menu: Broken Boot's First Annual Charity Chili Cook-off.

But Uncle Eddie's hopes of impressing the town council go up in smoke when cantankerous chili cook Lucky Straw is found dead in his tent. And when Josie's beloved uncle is accused of fatal negligence, she, Lenny, and the steadfast Detective Lightfoot must uncover who ended the ambitious chilihead's life--before another cook kicks the bucket.


My Review:
Cinco de Murder is a cozy mystery. It is the third in a series, but you don't need to read the previous novels in order to understand this one. This book did not spoil the previous mysteries.

I enjoyed the characters more than the mystery. The people were interesting and full of personality while still acting realistically. Josie had integrity about not sharing information that she'd been asked not to share, which I appreciated. I liked how the growing attraction between Josie and Lightfoot was portrayed.

The detective wasn't sure that the death even was a murder, but Josie kept coming up with possible murder scenarios. She changed her scenario every time she learned new information, so it's not surprising that she didn't solve whodunnit until that person basically confessed when confronting her. At least she managed to get free and help stop that person from fleeing justice. However, I never was clear exactly how the murder was done, though the general method was given.

There was no sex. There was one use of mild 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, April 8, 2018

The Bengal Identity by Eileen Watkins

book cover
The Bengal Identity
by Eileen Watkins


ISBN-13: 9781496710581
Paperback: 256 pages
Publisher: Kensington
Released: March 27, 2018

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

Book Description, Modified from Goodreads:
With no ID for his pet, an agitated young man shows up at Cassie's Comfy Cats claiming his house has burned down and he needs to board his big, brown cat, Ayesha. But after a bath washes dye out of the cat's coat and reveals beautiful spots, Cassie suspects the exotic-looking feline may in fact be a valuable Bengal show cat, possibly stolen. At the same time, there are rumored sightings of a "wild cat" in the hills of Chadwick, New Jersey. Could there be a connection?

When Ayesha's alleged owner turns up dead, it looks like whoever wants the beautiful Bengal is not pussyfooting around. Working with the police, Cassie and her staff need to be careful not to reveal the purloined purebred's whereabouts while they discreetly make inquiries to cat breeders to find her real owners. But after a break-in attempt rattles Cassie's cage, it's clear someone let the cat out of the bag. And when a second body is found, it's up to Cassie to spot the killer, who may be grooming her to be the next victim .


My Review:
The Bengal Identity is a cozy mystery. It is the second book in a series, but you don't need to read the previous book to understand this one. The previous mystery was not spoiled in this book.

The main character was a nice person who cared about others. She asked intelligent questions and was good at spotting things that should be investigated. The mystery involved exotic cats and illegal breeding operations. There were only a few possible suspects, so it wasn't too difficult to figure out whodunit. However, the story still kept me interested all the way to the end.

There were no sex scenes. There was some bad language. Overall, I'd recommend this enjoyable and interesting cat-related 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, April 6, 2018

Portrait of a Murderer by Anne Meredith

book cover
Portrait of a Murderer
by Anne Meredith


ISBN-13: 9781464209048
Paperback
Publisher: Poisoned Pen Press
Released: April 3, 2018

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from Goodreads:
'Adrian Gray was born in May 1862 and met his death through violence, at the hands of one of his own children, at Christmas, 1931.'

Thus begins a classic crime novel published in 1933 that has been too long neglected - until now. It is a riveting portrait of the psychology of a murderer.

Each December, Adrian Gray invites his extended family to stay at his lonely house, Kings Poplars. None of Gray's six surviving children is fond of him; several have cause to wish him dead. The family gathers on Christmas Eve - and by the following morning, their wish has been granted.

This fascinating and unusual novel tells the story of what happened that dark Christmas night; and what the murderer did next.


My Review:
Portrait of a Murderer is a historical crime fiction set in 1931 at Christmas in England. It was published in 1933. The story is told primarily from the viewpoint of murderer. He calculated how to get away with the crime as well as justified himself mentally and waxed philosophical about it. The first half of the story was setting up murder--describing who was in the house and why they would want to kill the victim--and then describing how the murderer tried to cover his crime up.

The second half was how the police and one of the other people at the house at the time of the murder figured out who did it and how they proved it. The murderer was not likable, but the man that he set up to take the fall was even less likable.

There was no sex. There was a minor amount of bad language. Overall, I would 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.

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Beneath a Prairie Moon by Kim Vogel Sawyer

book cover
Beneath a Prairie Moon
by Kim Vogel Sawyer


ISBN-13: 9780735290051
Paperback: 342 pages
Publisher: Waterbrook Press
Released: March 20, 2018

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from Goodreads:
Abigail Brantley grew up in affluence and knows exactly how to behave in high society. But when she is cast from the social registers due to her father's illegal dealings, she finds herself forced into a role she never imagined: tutoring rough Kansas ranchers in the subjects of manners and morals so they can "marry up" with their mail-order brides. Mack Cleveland, whose father was swindled by a mail-order bride, wants no part of the scheme to bring Eastern women to Spiveyville, Kansas, and he's put off by the snooty airs and fastidious behavior of the "little city gal" in their midst. But as time goes by, his heart goes out to the teacher who tries so diligently to smooth the rough edges from the down-to-earth men. How can he teach her that perfection won't bring happiness?


My Review:
Beneath a Prairie Moon is a Christian romance set in 1888 in Kansas. A group of men from a small, rough town in the West send money to a matchmaker agency in the East since there are no available local women. The matchmaker, an older widow, decides to travel to the town to assess the men to best match them up.

She brings along a younger woman who has been rejected by several matches. This gal uses manners as a shield to prevent people from accusing her of any wrongdoing and longs to retake her place in high society which was lost when her father committed a crime. She is tasked with teaching the potential grooms some basic etiquette.

The sheriff of the town is initially worried that the women are pulling a scam. The men of the town are impatient for their brides and don't see the point of learning etiquette. The sheriff and a respected shopkeeper keep an eye on the women to prevent the eager men from bothering them. The shopkeeper befriends the young woman when he learns of her past because he knows what it's like to be accused by society when you've done nothing wrong.

The story was told from the viewpoints of these four characters. It was a light-hearted story with funny moments. While etiquette played a large role in the story, the focus of the story was on how the main characters reacted to events and grew as people. The romance developed over time as people got to know each other and became friends. The main characters learned to more deeply trust in God. There was no bad language or sex. Overall, I'd highly 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.

Sunday, April 1, 2018

Why Kill the Innocent by C. S. Harris

book cover
Why Kill the Innocent
by C. S. Harris


ISBN-13: 9780399585623
Hardcover: 368 pages
Publisher: Berkley Publishing Group
Released: April 3, 2018

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from Goodreads:
In the newest mystery from the national bestselling author of Where the Dead Lie, a brutal murder draws Sebastian St. Cyr into the web of the royal court, where intrigue abounds and betrayal awaits.

London, 1814. As a cruel winter holds the city in its icy grip, the bloody body of a beautiful young musician is found half-buried in a snowdrift. Jane Ambrose's ties to Princess Charlotte, the only child of the Prince Regent and heir presumptive to the throne, panic the palace, which moves quickly to shut down any investigation into the death of the talented pianist. But Sebastian St. Cyr, Viscount Devlin, and his wife Hero refuse to allow Jane's murderer to escape justice.

Untangling the secrets of Jane's world leads Sebastian into a maze of dangerous treachery where each player has his or her own unsavory agenda and no one can be trusted. As the Thames freezes over and the people of London pour onto the ice for a Frost Fair, Sebastian and Hero find their investigation circling back to the palace and building to a chilling crescendo of deceit and death .


My Review:
Why Kill the Innocent is a mystery set in January 1814 in London (during a bad winter storm and Frost Fair). This book is the 13th in a series, but you can understand it without having read the previous novels. This novel did not spoil the mysteries from the previous books.

The characters were complex, interesting, and acted in realistic ways. Both Hero and Sebastian were deeply involved in the investigation. As usual, several social issues of the time were woven into the story as they touched on the investigation. There were several suspects but Sebastian had difficulty finding the critical clues that definitively pointed to one person. I began to suspect whodunit near the end but was not certain until the final clue was found.

There were no graphically described sex scenes, but there was a scene that ended with two brief paragraphs indicating sex between a married couple. There was a fair amount of bad language. Overall, I'd highly recommend this interesting historical mystery.


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


Excerpt: Read an excerpt using Google Preview.

Friday, March 30, 2018

To Die but Once by Jacqueline Winspear

book cover
To Die but Once
by Jacqueline Winspear


ISBN-13: 9780062436634
Hardcover: 336 pages
Publisher: Harper
Released: March 27, 2018

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

Book Descriptiion from Goodreads:
Spring 1940. With Britons facing what has become known as "the Bore War"—nothing much seems to have happened yet—Maisie Dobbs is asked to investigate the disappearance of a local lad, a young apprentice craftsman working on a "hush-hush" government contract. As Maisie’s inquiry reveals a possible link to the London underworld, another mother is worried about a missing son—but this time the boy in question is one beloved by Maisie


My Review:
To Die but Once is a historical mystery set in London in late May of 1940. This is the 14th book in the series and spoils many previous events (though not mysteries) if you have not read those books.

The author wove information about World War II problems and events into the investigation, like the effort to rescue the soldiers stranded on the French beaches, spies, war profiteering, and secrets about the war that people kept blabbing. It annoyed me that the heroine kept telling people she would keep secrets about what was going on, then she'd tell everyone she met about them. She was very observant, though, and was able to piece together what was going on and turn that information over to the police.

There was no sex. There was occasional use of bad language. Overall, I'd recommend this interesting and complex mystery to people interested in what was going on during World War II.


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 28, 2018

A Brush with Shadows by Anna Lee Huber

book cover
A Brush with Shadows
by Anna Lee Huber


ISBN-13:
Trade Paperback: 384 pages
Publisher: Berkley
Released: March 6, 2018

Source: Review copy from the publisher.

Book Description, Modified from Goodreads:
July 1831. It's been fifteen years since Sebastian Gage has set foot in Langstone Manor. Though he has shared little with his wife, Lady Kiera Darby, about his past, she knows that he planned never to return to the place of so many unhappy childhood memories. But when an urgent letter from his grandfather reaches them in Dublin, Ireland, and begs Gage to visit, Kiera convinces him to go.

All is not well at Langstone Manor. Gage's grandfather, the Viscount Tavistock, is gravely ill, and Gage's cousin Alfred has suddenly vanished. He wandered out into the moors and never returned. The Viscount is convinced someone or something other than the natural hazards of the moors is to blame for Alfred's disappearance. And when Alfred's brother Rory goes missing, Kiera and Gage must concede he may be right. Now, they must face the ghosts of Gage's past, discover the truth behind the local superstitions, and see beyond the tricks being played by their very own eyes to expose what has happened to Gage's family before the moors claim yet another victim.


My Review:
A Brush with Shadows is a mystery set in 1831 in England. It is the sixth book in the series. You do not need to read the previous books to understand this one, and this book did not spoil the mysteries of the previous novels.

The historical and setting details that were woven into the story made it feel distinct to that time and place. The main characters acted realistically and were interesting people. The heroine lacked common sense and often rushed into danger, but she was observant in regard to possible clues. Her husband was a little dense when it came to suspecting people in his family home, which slowed his progress in solving the mystery. He dealt with emotional wounds from his childhood as well as the current mystery.

The couple asked questions and followed leads while avoiding danger, as someone was not happy that they were there. I initially thought the clues were pointing towards one person, but that changed near the end. At that point, only one person seemed to fit the clues who hadn't been "cleared," and, indeed, that was whodunit. So guessing whodunit is possible.

There were no sex scenes. 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.


Excerpt: Read an excerpt using Google Preview.

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Winning Miss Winthrop by Carolyn Miller

book cover
Winning Miss Winthrop
by Carolyn Miller


ISBN-13: 9780825475023
Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: Kregel Publications
Released: March 27, 2018

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from Goodreads:
Years ago, the man who stole Catherine Winthrop's heart rejected her--and she's never recovered. Now tragedy has brought him back into her life. This time it isn't her heart he's taking, it's her home and her family's good name--and she has no one to share her grief.

Jonathan Carlew's life may look enviable from the outside--wealthy, handsome, landed. As he ascends to the barony, challenges await as his sense of responsibility is hard to fulfill when his relatives resent him. These two broken hearts must decide whether their painful past and bitter present will be all they can share, or if forgiveness can provide a path to freedom for the future.


My Review:
Winning Miss Winthrop is a Christian romance set in 1816 England. I prefer romances where the main characters are better people for having met each other, and this author's previous books have had this. However, I can only describe these main characters as becoming worse people from having known each other.

The hero started out as kind and thoughtful of others, even those that he felt had offended him. However, he became harsh and controlling. His main fault was that he refused to listen to people and instead jumped to conclusions that made him miserable. He made poor decisions because he felt rejected and hurt. Also, inexplicably, he did nothing to correct things when friends and family started telling others that he's engaged to a young woman when it's not true.

I had a hard time liking the heroine, and many of her actions didn't make sense to me. She started out thinking of others, but she became rude and guided by her emotions. She justified her behavior by feeling she was just saying the truth or that society's rules weren't fair. She behaved inappropriately then dealt with the resulting gossip in ways that just made it worse. For example, she tells people that she is engaged to a nice man hoping that will stop gossip. Only she fully intends to later break that engagement, which will only ruin her reputation more, which she doesn't seem to consider. Also, she frequently jumped to wrong conclusions about the hero's actions.

Despite only having known each other for a short period several years in the past, both the hero and heroine feel that they could not love any other despite the ever-increasing hurtful actions of the other. They seem to feel that a romantic moment in time indicates a true and lasting love. The misunderstandings between the two continued all the way up to the last scenes, and there's no reason to believe that their communication will be any better after they marry. Frankly, I'm disappointed that a Christian book is promoting this relationship as a romantic ideal.

The Christian element was a few prayers to God when they got themselves in trouble. 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.

Friday, March 23, 2018

In Places Hidden by Tracie Peterson

book cover
In Places Hidden
by Tracie Peterson


ISBN-13: 9780764218996
Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: Bethany House Publishers
Released: March 6, 2018

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description from Goodreads:
On her way to San Francisco to find her brother, Caleb, who went missing three months ago, Camriann Coulter meets Judith and Kenzie, who both have their own mysteries to solve in the booming West Coast city. The women decide to help each other, including rooming together and working at Kenzie's cousin's chocolate factory.

Camri's search for her brother, an attorney, leads her deep into the political corruption of the city--and into the acquaintance of Patrick Murdock, a handsome Irishman who was saved from a false murder charge by Caleb. Patrick challenges all of Camri's privileged beliefs, but he knows more about what happened to her brother than anyone else. Together, they move closer to the truth behind Caleb's disappearance. But as the stakes rise and threats loom, will Patrick be able to protect Camri from the dangers he knows lie in the hidden places of the city?


My Review:
In Places Hidden is a Christian romance set in 1905 in San Francisco. The story follows three women--Camri, Judith, and Kenzie--but this book mainly focused on Camri's search for her missing brother.

The characters were well-developed, complex people who grew throughout the story. Camri was brought up in a progressive household that promoted education and women's rights. Now Camri gets to know people with different priorities or who are dealing with things like racial prejudice, where education isn't primarily what's needed or wanted.

Her brother has angered the corrupt, powerful men of the city, but it's not clear if he's alive somewhere or dead or even who is behind his disappearance. His friends help Camri in her search for her brother. In the end, it's clear that God has been working behind the scenes to bring about good from what was intended for evil.

The historical and setting details were naturally woven into the story. This is the type of story that feels like it really could have happened. 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.

Sunday, March 18, 2018

A Borrowed Dream by Amanda Cabot

book cover
A Borrowed Dream
by Amanda Cabot


ISBN-13: 9780800727574
Paperback: 352 pages
Publisher: Revell
Released: March 20, 2018

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description from Goodreads:
Catherine Whitfield is sure that she will never again be able to trust anyone in the medical profession after the town doctor's excessive bleeding treatments killed her mother. Despite her loneliness and her broken heart, she carries bravely on as Cimarron Creek's dutiful schoolteacher, resigned to a life without love or family, a life where dreams rarely come true.

Austin Goddard is a newcomer to Cimarron Creek. Posing as a rancher, he fled to Texas to protect his daughter from a dangerous criminal. He's managed to keep his past as a surgeon a secret. But when Catherine Whitfield captures his heart, he wonders how long he will be able to keep up the charade.

With a deft hand, Amanda Cabot teases out the strands of love, deception, and redemption in this charming tale of dreams deferred and hopes becoming reality.


My Review:
A Borrowed Dream is a Christian historical romance set in 1881. This is the second book in a series, but it works as a standalone since it has different main characters. I enjoyed how historical detail was woven into the story creating a distinct sense of time and place.

Both the hero and heroine were kind, thoughtful, and caring people. They brought out the best in each other and were better people for having met each other. The heroine was wary of doctors because the local doctor harmed her mother when she was sick. The hero is a doctor who has a talent for healing, but he's on the run from a criminal who is trying to force him to do something illegal. While getting to know each other, they faced several difficult events that involved helping others and which unintentionally brought danger into town. I loved that the heroine was very brave in stressful situations.

Both main characters followed God wholeheartedly though imperfectly. They dealt with issues like forgiveness and loving others when they aren't lovable. 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, March 16, 2018

Murder in Belgravia by Lynn Brittney

book cover
Murder in Belgravia
by Lynn Brittney


ISBN-13: 9781907324826
Paperback: 211 pages
Publisher: Mirror Books
Released: March 15, 2018

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description from NetGalley:
Set against the backdrop of WW1, Mayfair 100 is the telephone number for a small specially-formed crimebusting team based in a house in Mayfair. London, 1915. Just 10 months into the First World War, the City is flooded with women taking over the work vacated by men in the Armed Services.

Chief Inspector Peter Beech, a young man invalided out of the war in one of the first battles, is faced with investigating the murder of an aristocrat and the man’s wife, a key witness and suspect, will only speak to a woman about the unpleasant details of the case. After persuading the Chief Commissioner to allow him to set up a clandestine team to deal with such situations, Beech puts together a small motley crew of well-educated women and professional policemen.

As Beech, Victoria, Caroline, Rigsby and Tollman investigate the murder, they delve into the seedier parts of WWI London, taking them from criminal gangs to brothels and underground drug rings supplying heroin to the upper classes. Will the Mayfair 100 team solve the murder? And if they do, will they be allowed to continue working as a team?


My Review:
Murder in Belgravia is a mystery set in 1915 in London. Chief Inspector Peter Beech is confronted with a suspect who refuses to see a male doctor for her life-threatening injuries or to talk to a male policeman about the murder of her husband. Happily, he's good friends with a woman doctor and with a high-born woman who trained as a lawyer. They help him with the suspect but doubt she killed her husband even though she confesses to it. But who is she protecting?

Beech gets permission to form a secret team to deal with this crime and future serious crimes involving women. The team includes these two women and two other men. They each have skills that the others don't, work well together, and share a desire to find justice for victims. The characters were likable, compassionate people. The author worked the changes that occurred due to WWI into the murder investigation.

The mystery was clue-based. The team asked questions and followed up leads until they finally uncovered the truth. They were smart and had good hunches, but it took some work as they had to track down some of the witnesses. There were no sex scenes. There was some bad language. I enjoyed the characters and the mystery kept me engaged, so 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.


Sunday, March 11, 2018

A Chance at Forever by Melissa Jagears

book cover
A Chance at Forever
by Melissa Jagears


ISBN-13: 9780764217531
Paperback: 352 pages
Publisher: Bethany House
Released: March 6, 2018

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from Goodreads:
Mercy McClain joined the school board to protect the children of Teaville, Kansas, from the bullying she experienced as a child. When the worst offender from her school days applies for a teaching position, she is dead set against it. Yet Aaron Firebrook claims to be a changed man. Can he earn Mercy's trust--and her support for the challenges to come?


My Review:
A Chance at Forever is a Christian romance set in 1909 in Kansas. It's the third book in a series. This book wrapped up two side romances that have been building throughout the series, but it still worked fine as a stand-alone novel. Each romance was prevented from moving forward due to events in the past that need to be forgiven.

The main romance was between Mercy and the man who bullied her when they were children. He was abused by someone and in turn bullied others. Now he has returned to make things right after accepting Christ. He's trying to earn forgiveness from those he wronged and change his behavior through willpower. With Mercy's help, he realizes he needs to allow God to transform him from the inside and to accept the gift of forgiveness. We only see him as an honest, hardworking man, just one struggling with guilt and discouragement because he can see the damage his bullying did to Mercy and others. He encouraged Mercy to see her value and not believe the hurtful things he said in the past.

The author dealt with complex issues in a natural way that drove the events of the story. The changed people showed that change in their lives even though they still made mistakes. Other characters struggled to trust that those people had really changed or to decide how to deal with those who weren't interested in changing. The characters acted realistically and were complex and likable.

There were no sex scenes or bad language. Overall, I'd recommend this well-developed, engaging 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.

Friday, March 9, 2018

Night Stalker by Shirlee McCoy

book cover
Night Stalker
by Shirlee McCoy


ISBN-13: 9781335490223
Mass Market Paperback: 224 pages
Publisher: Love Inspired Suspense
Released: March 6, 2018

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from NetGalley:
After Special Agent Adam Whitfield’s ex-wife is nearly killed when she stops an abduction, the serial killer that Adam’s been hunting turns his focus on Charlotte Murray for getting in his way. Now, as the Night Stalker closes in, Adam has two missions: bring the murderer to justice and save Charlotte—because failure isn’t an option.


My Review:
Night Stalker is a Christian suspense novel. Charlotte stops a serial killer from kidnapping his intended target but gets hurt in the process. Since the killer's target is out of reach, he takes his anger out on Charlotte. Special Agent Adam left Charlotte after the loss of their young son because he couldn't deal with her grief. But he still loves her and regrets what he did. He's a profiler with the group tasked with stopping this serial killer. He's determine to protect his ex-wife and stop the killer once and for all.

The characters were nice people who care about others. I liked that Charlotte was courageous enough to help others and kept her promises. She worried that Adam would win her heart again only to leave her when the case was over. The suspense came from the attacks on various people while the FBI tried to figure out the killer's identity and capture him. The Christian theme was that God is there even in our darkest times. There was no sex or bad language. Overall, I'd recommend this enjoyable suspense novel.


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


Excerpt: Read an excerpt using Google Preview.

Sunday, March 4, 2018

Beneath the Surface by Lynn H. Blackburn

book cover
Beneath the Surface
by Lynn H. Blackburn


ISBN-13: 9780800729387
Paperback: 336 pages
Publisher: Revell
Released: March 6, 2018

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description from NetGalley:
After a harrowing experience with an obsessed patient, oncology nurse practitioner Leigh Weston needed a change. She thought she'd left her troubles behind when she moved home to Carrington, North Carolina, and took a job in the emergency department of the local hospital. But when someone tampers with her brakes, she fears the past has chased her into the present. She reaches out to her high school friend turned homicide investigator, Ryan Parker, for help.

Ryan finds satisfaction in his career, but his favorite way to use his skills is as a volunteer underwater investigator with the Carrington County Sheriff's Office dive team. When the body of a wealthy businessman is discovered in Lake Porter, the investigation uncovers a possible serial killer--one with a terrifying connection to Leigh Weston and deadly implications for them all.


My Review:
Beneath the Surface is a Christian romantic suspense novel. The cops find the body while doing a training dive session. The rest of the investigation occurs above water. The hero asked the heroine if he can use her dock to access the lake. Though the victims of the serial killer are middle-aged men, the heroine is suddenly the target of someone and it seems connected with the search for the serial killer.

The suspense comes from the the repeated attacks on the heroine and some exciting scenes in the hospital, where the heroine worked in the emergency department. The main characters were caring people who reacted realistically to the situations. I cared about what happened to them. The hero and heroine had been attracted to each other since they were young, but the situation brought them together romantically.

The hero and heroine struggled with the question of why God allowed bad things to happen to one person but not another. The hero was a Christian, but the heroine wasn't sure if she trusted God even though her adoptive parents had. There was no sex or bad language. Overall, I would recommend this enjoyable, 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.

Friday, March 2, 2018

A Most Noble Heir by Susan Anne Mason

book cover
A Most Noble Heir
by Susan Anne Mason


ISBN-13: 9780764230875
Paperback: 368 pages
Publisher: Bethany House Publishers
Released: March 6, 2018

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from Back Cover:
When stable hand Nolan Price learns from his dying mother that he is actually the son of the Earl of Stainsby, his plans for a future with kitchen maid Hannah Burnham are shattered. Once he is officially acknowledged as the earl's heir, Nolan will be forbidden to marry beneath his station.

Unwilling to give up the girl he loves, he devises a plan to elope--believing that once their marriage is sanctioned by God, Lord Stainsby will be forced to accept their union. However, as Nolan struggles to learn the ways of the aristocracy, he finds himself caught between pleasing Hannah and living up to his father's demanding expectations.


My Review:
A Most Noble Heir is a Christian historical romance set in 1884 in England. The historical and setting backdrop details were basically correct, though the main characters had some modern attitudes. The main characters acted realistically and were fairly complex.

Hannah was very insecure. Nothing her husband did could prove his love for her. She would tell him to spend time getting to know his father, secretly hoping he would spend his full attention on her instead. She made no attempt to learn how to be a lady while agreeing that Nolan learn to become a noble. Essentially, she sabotaged her relationship because she didn't feel lovable and was sure her husband would abandon her. She had to work through the roots of these feelings of insecurity.

Nolan was proud and had a quick temper, like his father, so their relationship was very stormy. They had to build a relationship while struggling over Nolan's marriage, which his father did not approve of even though he had done a similar thing with Nolan's mother when he was young.

The minor amount of bad language was written in a "he cussed" style rather than the actual words. There were no graphic sex scenes, though the newly married couple were shown passionately kissing. Overall, I would 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.

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Tess of the Road by Rachel Hartman

book cover
Tess of the Road
by Rachel Hartman


ISBN-13: 9781101931288
Hardcover: 544 pages
Publisher: Random House Children's
Released: Feb. 27, 2018

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from NetGalley:
In the medieval kingdom of Goredd, women are expected to be ladies. Tess, stubbornly, is a troublemaker. You can't make a drunken scene at your sister's wedding, nearly destroy her marriage before it starts, break a relative's nose and not suffer the consequences. As her family plans to send her to a nunnery, Tess desperately sets out on a journey across the Southlands, pretending to be a boy.

Where Tess is headed is a mystery, even to her. So when she runs into an old friend, it's a stroke of luck. This friend is a quigutl--a subspecies of dragon--who gives her both a purpose and protection on the road. But Tess's tumultuous past is a heavy burden to carry, and the memories she's tried to forget threaten to destroy her.


My Review:
Tess of the Road is a YA philosophical fantasy. It's not humorous. It's set in the same world as the author's previous novels and involved characters from those novels. The world-building depended largely on calling common fantasy elements by weird names, though the quigutl were unique. Also, the author assumed the reader had read the previous novels so didn't bother to give much background on things and events described in those books. Unfortunately, I haven't read those books.

Tess was curious about sex even as a child, and reading novels inspired her to want romantic love. Bad decisions, naivety, and romantic ideas led to her "ruin" (though that was not her intent), and she's no longer allowed to marry. She's utterly miserable and determined to stay miserable. She finally runs away and takes on a male identity (or two). Still, she considers suicide to end the pain. Then she comes across an old friend with a quest. Her new traveling companion is a dragon-like creature that was female when Tess first met her but is now male. He has an ongoing guilt/hate relationship with his daughter from a rape.

Tess describes her journey as "I’m just walking the road, looking for reasons to keep walking" and feels that "It matters less where you go than that you keep moving." Her mother's religion is very harsh and Tess had "never seen any divine plan, unless the plan was to saddle her with guilt and self-loathing." However, when her companion's quest leads to an awe-inspiring religious moment, she feels like "nothing." "For someone who was nothing, anything was possible. The pressure was off" and "She had permission to let her body do and be and have what it wanted." Which, apparently, is sex. But actions still have consequences. Anyway, this book ended with Tess starting a more traditional fantasy adventure.

The sex scenes were described in vague terms (rather than graphically). There was occasional use 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, February 23, 2018

The Fast and the Furriest by Sofie Ryan

book cover
The Fast and the Furriest
by Sofie Ryan


ISBN-13: 9781101991220
Mass Market Paperback:
304 pages
Publisher: Berkley Prime Crime
Released: Feb. 6, 2018

Source: Review copy from the publisher.

Book Description from Goodreads:
Sarah Grayson owns Second Chance, a shop that sells lovingly refurbished items, in the charming town of North Harbor, Maine. But she couldn't run the store without the help of her right-hand man, Mac--or her dashing rescue cat, Elvis.

Mac's life before North Harbor has always been a little bit mysterious, but it becomes a lot more intriguing when a woman from his past shows up in town, and then turns up dead. Suspicion falls on Mac, but Sarah--and Elvis--know he can't be the killer, and they hope they can prove his innocence quick as a whisker.


My Review:
The Fast and the Furriest is a cozy mystery. It is the fifth book in the series, but you don't need to read the previous books to understand this one. This book did not spoil any of the previous mysteries.

The main characters were nice, engaging people. The amateur detectives asked questions and looked into various alibis. They solved the mystery more by the process of elimination than by building a case against someone. I felt like there was a lot of filler in the story. They seemed to put off asking the most pertinent questions even when the person they needed to ask was right there. While I did guess whodunit before the main characters, they didn't uncover the critical clue until nearly the end.

There were no sex scenes. There was occasional use 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, February 18, 2018

The Sea Before Us by Sarah Sundin

book cover
The Sea Before Us
by Sarah Sundin


ISBN-13: 9780800727970
Paperback: 375 pages
Publisher: Revell
Released: Feb. 6, 2018

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from Goodreads:
In 1944, American naval officer Lt. Wyatt Paxton arrives in London to prepare for the Allied invasion of France. He works closely with Dorothy Fairfax, a "Wren" in the Women's Royal Naval Service. Dorothy pieces together reconnaissance photographs with thousands of holiday snapshots of France--including those of her own family's summer home--in order to create accurate maps of Normandy. Maps that Wyatt will turn into naval bombardment plans.

As the two spend concentrated time together in the pressure cooker of war, their deepening friendship threatens to turn to love. Dorothy must resist its pull. Her bereaved father depends on her, and her heart already belongs to another man.

The tense days leading up to the monumental D-Day landing blaze to life under Sarah Sundin's practiced pen with this powerful new series.


My Review:
The Sea Before Us is a Christian historical romance set in January 14th, 1944 to June 15th, 1944 in England. It shows the lead up to D-Day from the viewpoint of a USA naval officer and a WRN officer involved with sorting through the intelligence about the target beaches. The rich, vivid historical details brought the setting and time period alive. The D-Day battle scenes were very suspenseful.

The hero feels guilty about his past actions, which broke his family apart when he ran away. He's trying to earn forgiveness from his family by getting everything just right before getting back in contact with them. He has accepted God's forgiveness, but he hasn't yet forgiven himself.

The heroine has lost her brothers and mother in the war. Though her father shows her no affection, she loves him and takes care of him. She's desperate to win the affections of a dashing man whom she knew as a child, so she tries to be someone she's not.

The main characters acted realistically to events and had depth. The hero and heroine were very good influences on each other and fell in love with the other's character, not just their looks. They each helped the other grow and heal, though it was a rocky road to get there due to how they feel about themselves. There was no sex or bad language. Overall, I'd highly recommend this excellent and exciting historical romance.


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


Excerpt: Read an excerpt using Google Preview.

Friday, February 16, 2018

A Light on the Hill by Connilyn Cossette

book cover
A Light on the Hill
by Connilyn Cossette


ISBN-13: 9780764219863
Paperback: 352 pages
Publisher: Bethany House Publishers
Released: Feb. 6, 2018

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from NetGalley:
Seven years ago, Moriyah was taken captive in Jericho and branded with the mark of the Canaanite gods. Now the Israelites are experiencing peace in their new land, but Moriyah has yet to find her own peace. Because of the shameful mark on her face, she hides behind her veil at all times and the disdain of the townspeople keeps her from socializing. And marriage prospects were out of the question . . . until now.

Her father has found someone to marry her, and she hopes to use her love of cooking to impress the man and his motherless sons. But when things go horribly wrong, Moriyah is forced to flee. Seeking safety at one of the newly-established Levitical cities of refuge, she is wildly unprepared for the dangers she will face, and the enemies--and unexpected allies--she will encounter on her way.


My Review:
A Light on the Hill is biblical fiction with romance and suspense. This novel was set 7 years after "Wings of the Wind" and followed what happens to Moriyah, a character from that story. The Israelites have taken much of Canaan and the first cities of refuge have been established. Moriyah has isolated herself out of shame for the brand on her face and feels no one can see past the rumors to see and love her. After an accident results in the deaths of the twin 13-year-old sons of a man who might have married her, Moriyah flees into a hostile land in disguise as she tries to survive until she can reach a city of refuge.

Moriyah was often guided by her emotions. For example, when a faithful friend was injured, she didn't want to leave him in someone's care even though doing so would be the one chance for everyone to survive. However, she started hearing God's guiding voice again and decided to follow His instructions and laws, no matter the cost. She falls in love with someone who helps her as he admires her courage and can see both her inner and outer beauty. They agonize that, no matter what happens, they could never marry. (After building these obstacles up so high, I would have liked it if the author had taken a little more time to resolve them rather than basically dismissing them at the very end.)

Overall, I enjoyed the story, but the characters did some things that I don't think would have been allowed in that culture. For example, Moriyah's Egyptian father married a woman from Judah but was given some land in Ephraim for a special reason. Then a man from Naphtali was told he'd inherit this land when her father died if he would marry Moriyah. The Bible makes a strong point that the land should remain with (owned by someone of) the tribe that inherited that territory, so I can't imagine the elders allowing this. Also, since her potential husband will live on and eventually inherit land several days journey away, this isn't a very desirable deal for him (though they act like it is). I can't understand why the author didn't just make the man from Ephraim! I had similar doubts about several aspects of the trial and what happened after it. Unfortunately, I found this distracting from the good insights (mercy, atonement) the author brought out.

There was no bad language or sex scenes. 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, February 14, 2018

The Masterpiece by Francine Rivers

book cover
The Masterpiece
by Francine Rivers


ISBN-13: 9781496407900
Hardback: 512 pages
Publisher: Tyndale House Publisher
Released: Feb. 6, 2018

Source: Review copy from the publisher.

Book Description from Goodreads:
New York Times bestselling author Francine Rivers returns to her romance roots with this unexpected and redemptive love story, a probing tale that reminds us that mercy can shape even the most broken among us into an imperfect yet stunning masterpiece.

A successful LA artist, Roman Velasco appears to have everything he could possibly want―money, women, fame. Only Grace Moore, his reluctant, newly hired personal assistant, knows how little he truly has. The demons of Roman’s past seem to echo through the halls of his empty mansion and out across his breathtaking Topanga Canyon view. But Grace doesn’t know how her boss secretly wrestles with those demons: by tagging buildings as the Bird, a notorious but unidentified graffiti artist―an alter ego that could destroy his career and land him in prison.

Like Roman, Grace is wrestling with ghosts and secrets of her own. After a disastrous marriage threw her life completely off course, she vowed never to let love steal her dreams again. But as she gets to know the enigmatic man behind the reputation, it’s as if the jagged pieces of both of their pasts slowly begin to fit together . . . until something so unexpected happens that it changes the course of their relationship―and both their lives―forever.


My Review:
The Masterpiece is Christian general fiction, though there is a romance in it as well. The two main characters had childhoods full of violence and fear, and we get a series of flashbacks about critical points in their past. Both lost their parents by the time they were seven. Both have put up walls to prevent caring about someone who may abandon them.

Grace has found healing and forgiveness in Christ but still hasn't forgiven herself for her bad decisions. And she still has to deal with the consequences of those bad decisions. Roman scoffs at her belief in God until he has a near death experience of hell. But recognizing that the supernatural exists is not the same as surrendering your life to Jesus.

The main characters acted realistically, and I cared about what happened to them. They didn't have an easy road to travel. The author learned about graffiti art in order to vividly describe Roman's passion for it. The bad language was conveyed using a "he cussed" style rather than the actual bad words. There were no graphic sex scenes. Overall, I would recommend this excellent novel.


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


Sunday, February 11, 2018

Kill Shot by Susan Sleeman

book cover
Kill Shot
by Susan Sleeman


ISBN-13: 9781455596492
Paperback: 336 pages
Publisher: FaithWords
Released: Feb. 6, 2018

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from NetGalley:
As the ballistics and weapon's expert for the FBI's special task force nicknamed the White Knights, Rick Cannon has known the Department of Defense was developing self-steering bullets. Rick feared these smart bullets--which have one hundred percent accuracy that can turn even a novice into a lethal sniper--would eventually end up in the hands of the wrong people. But since the ammunition was still in the development stage, he figured they had plenty of time before that happened. He was wrong. Dead wrong.

When a homeless vet is killed with a smart bullet, it's clear that the ammunition has been stolen, and the Knights are called in to find the thief and stop the killings. But they aren't the only ones desperate to find the killer. Therapist Olivia Dobbs is well known for her success in counseling military veterans with PTSD. When she discovers one of her clients moments after he is murdered, she becomes both the FBI's prime witness, and suspect.

Despite the mutual attraction that immediately sparks between them, Rick can't--no he won't--let Olivia interfere with his investigation. But when the sniper trains his rifle on her, Rick must recall all the skills he learned as a Marine sniper to make sure the next bullet fired isn't a kill shot that takes Olivia out.


My Review:
Kill Shot is a Christian romantic suspense novel. It's the second book in a series, but you can understand this book without reading the previous one as each focuses on a different couple. This story did not spoil the previous novel.

Olivia may have seen the serial killer and knew several of his victims, so the FBI team questioned and suspected her. But when someone targets her, they keep her with the team so they can protect her. This provided a chance for the hero and heroine to get to know each other. Both had dysfunctional family relationships, and they motivated each other to deal with this. Rick dealt with forgiveness and trust issues while Olivia struggled with how her family used and manipulated her. Both felt that they needed to deal with these issues before they could make a romantic relationship work, though they were attracted to each other.

The suspense came from the bad guy hunting down and killing certain people and the worry that the weapon might be sold to another country. I rolled my eyes when, near the end, the heroine took a BABY out in a car to calm her down when she knows she's a target. Putting a baby in potential danger because you don't want her to cry? Seriously? Except for that bit, the twisty story line of who took the bullets and why was an interesting, exciting read. There was no sex or bad language. 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.

Friday, February 9, 2018

Seven Dead by J Jefferson Farjeon

book cover
Seven Dead
by J Jefferson Farjeon


ISBN-13: 9781464209086
Paperback
Publisher: Poisoned Pen Press
Released: Feb. 6, 2018

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description from NetGalley:
Ted Lyte, amateur thief, has chosen an isolated house by the coast for his first robbery. But Haven House is no ordinary country home. While hunting for silverware to steal, Ted stumbles upon a locked room containing seven dead bodies. Detective Inspector Kendall takes on the case with the help of passing yachtsman Thomas Hazeldean. The search for the house's absent owners brings Hazeldean across the Channel to Boulogne, where he finds more than one motive to stay and investigate.


My Review:
Seven Dead is a mystery set in England and was originally printed in 1939. Detective Inspector Kendall was observant and quickly worked out what had happened. The question wasn't so much whodunit but rather who the dead people were and why the murderer had killed them. I enjoyed following Kendall's finding of the clues and working out what they meant.

A journalist happened to see the thief leaving the house and so got to see the crime scene. He became enamored with a girl in a painting, and he traveled to talk with her in France before Kendall arrived. Whole conversations were in French. We're given a sense of what was said, but most mysteries don't use quite that much untranslated French. As whodunit was also there, the journalist was in danger. Answers were found in the end, though whodunit's ending was a bit unusual.

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


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 4, 2018

Strongheart by Candace Fleming

book cover
Strongheart
by Candace Fleming


ISBN-13: 9781101934104
Hardcover: 256 pages
Publisher: Schwartz & Wade Books
Released: Feb. 6, 2018

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

Book Description, Modified from NetGalley:
For fans of Balto and other real-life dog stories, here's a heavily illustrated middle-grade novel about a canine movie star of the 1920s, dramatically told in both words and pictures by an acclaimed author and a Caldecott Medal-winning illustrator.

When movie director Larry Trimble travels to Berlin searching for his next big star--a dog!--he finds Etzel, a fierce, highly trained three-year-old German shepherd police dog. Larry sees past the snarls and growls and brings Etzel back to Hollywood, where he is renamed Strongheart. Along with screenwriter Jane Murfin, Larry grooms his protege to be a star of the silver screen--and he succeeds, starting with Strongheart's first film, The Love Master, which is released in 1921. Strongheart is soon joined by a leading lady, a German shepherd named Lady Julie, and becomes a sensation. But when Strongheart is accused of attacking a girl, he must prove his innocence--and it will take his best acting skills to do so.

Touching, charming, playful, and based on real events, this moving tale by Candace Fleming and illustrated by Eric Rohmann tells all about "the wonder dog" who took America by storm.


My Review:
Strongheart is an illustrated middle-grade novel based on the true story of a movie star dog. We follow Strongheart's life from when he was chosen to be a police dog as a puppy, to his being chosen to be a movie dog and his learning how to play again, to the filming of two of his movies: The Silent Call (1921) and The Love Master (1924), to incidents that happened on publicity tours. The author took information that is known about Strongheart and used that information (while filling in the unknown details with fiction) or made it more dramatic (like the trial at the end that is based on an incident that never went to trial according to her end notes). There were cute illustrations of Strongheart's life mixed in with the text. Overall, I'd recommend this quick, fun read, especially to dog lovers.


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 2, 2018

High Treason by DiAnn Mills

book cover
High Treason
by DiAnn Mills


ISBN-13: 9781496410993
Trade Paperback: 416 pages
Publisher: Tyndale
Released: Feb. 6, 2018

Source: Review copy from the publisher.

Book Description, Modified from Back Cover:
When Saudi Prince Omar bin Talal visits Houston to seek cancer treatment for his mother, an attempt on his life puts all agencies on high alert. FBI Special Agent Kord Davidson is the lead on the prince's protective detail because of their long-standing friendship, but he's surprised--and none too happy--when the CIA brings one of their operatives, Monica Alden, in on the task force after the assassination attempt.

Kord and Monica must quickly put aside interagency squabbles, however, when they learn the prince has additional motives for his visit--plans to promote stronger ties with the US and encourage economic growth and westernization in his own country. Plans that could easily incite a number of suspects both in the US and in countries hostile to Saudi Arabia. Worse yet, the would-be assassin always seems to be one step ahead of them, implicating someone close to the prince--or the investigation. But who would be willing to commit high treason, and can Kord and Monica stop them in time?


My Review:
High Treason is a Christian romantic suspense. It's the third in a series, but it works as a stand-alone. This story didn't spoil events in the previous books.

The main characters were likable and interesting. Monica had to earn the respect of the Saudi men that she needed to work with while trying to discover if any of them had betrayed the prince. She also had to work through her trust issues with men (due to a previous partner manipulating and betraying her). Kord was friends with their top suspects, so he had difficulty really suspecting any of them. There were few clues for them to work with at first, but more came to light as more assassination attempts were made. They followed up on those leads. The suspense came from the physical danger involved in being a body guard trying to thwart a determined assassin.

Monica was a Christian, but she struggled to forgive herself for not stopping that crooked, manipulative previous partner before so many people were hurt by him. Kord was uncertain which religion was the correct one and questioned why a good God would allow so much suffering. There was no sex or bad language. Overall, I'd recommend this enjoyable suspense novel.


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


Excerpt: Read an excerpt using Google Preview.

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

The Grave's a Fine and Private Place by Alan Bradley

book cover
The Grave's a Fine and Private Place
by Alan Bradley


ISBN-13: 9780345539991
Hardcover: 400 pages
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Released: Jan. 30, 2018

Source: Review copy from the publisher.

Book Description, Modified from Goodreads:
Flavia is enjoying the summer, spending her days punting along the river with her reluctant family. Languishing in boredom, she drags a slack hand in the water, and catches her fingers in the open mouth of a drowned corpse. Brought to shore, the dead man is found to be dressed in blue silk with ribbons at the knee, and wearing a single red ballet slipper.

Flavia needs to put her super-sleuthing skills to the test to investigate the murder of the dead man as well as an earlier murder of three gossips in the local church. But what could possibly connect the son of an executed killer, a far too canny police constable, a traveling circus, and the publican's poetically talented wife?


My Review:
The Grave's a Fine and Private Place is a historical mystery set in June 1952 in England. This book is the ninth in a series, but you don't need to read the previous novels to understand this one and this novel didn't spoil any previous mysteries.

The main character is a 12-year-old girl who loves chemistry. She has her own chemistry lab at home and can improvise (with the help of a loyal adult servant, who helps her investigate) when away from home. She also enjoys investigating a murder, and she sees it as a competition with the adults. She's manipulative and lies freely to get what she wants because she feels like, as a kid, that's what she has to do to learn what she needs to know. She has quite the imagination, but she puts it to good use. For example, she imagines what the murder must of looked like as it happened.

She's so enthusiastic that it's hard not to like her. She followed up on various clues and put her mind to work until she discovered whodunnit. The scene where she gathered clues from the drowned body was a little gory. There was no sex. There was a very minor amount of British bad language. Overall, I would 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, January 28, 2018

The View from Rainshadow Bay by Colleen Coble

book cover
The View from Rainshadow Bay
by Colleen Coble


ISBN-13: 9780718085766
Trade Paperback: 336 pages
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Released: Jan. 23, 2018

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

Book Description, Modified from NetGalley:
After her husband, Jack, dies in a climbing incident, Shauna has only her five-year-old son and her helicopter charter business to live for. Every day is a struggle to make ends meet and she lives in constant fear of losing even more than she already has.

When a close friend is murdered, his final words convince Shauna that she’s in danger too. But where can she turn? Zach Bannister was her husband’s best friend and is the person she blames for his death. She’s barely spoken to him since. But right now he seems her only hope for protecting her son.

Zach is only too happy to assuage his guilt over Jack’s death by helping Shauna any way he can. But there are secrets involved dating back to Shauna’s childhood that more than one person would prefer to stay hidden.


My Review:
The View from Rainshadow Bay is a romantic suspense novel. Zach has Shauna stay at his house so that he can protect her and her son. This makes sense logically, but she blames him for the death of her husband, so they have to work through the blame (as he also blames himself) before the friendship they'd previously enjoyed can turn romantic.

The good guys don't know why someone is going around killing people and few clues are left, but it's clear he's willing to kill again to get what he wants. And he thinks Shauna has what he wants. Shauna and Zach follow up a necklace clue that seems to have more to do with Shauna's traumatic past than the present, while the police follow up on the current murders.

The bad guy's identity is hidden until nearly the end, but the reader gets hints about who it is, so there's a bit of "guess whodunit" to the story. I figured out who it was very early on, but I was surprised by the identity of the person he's working with. My only complaint is that there were a few loose ends that I wish had been wrapped up.

The Christian message was trusting God with your fears and safety. 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.