Thursday, September 20, 2018

Phoebe by Paula Gooder

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Phoebe
by Paula Gooder


ISBN-13: 9780830852451
Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: IVP Academic
Released: Sept. 4, 2018

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from Goodreads:
Sometime around 56 AD, the apostle Paul wrote to the church in Rome. He entrusted this letter to Phoebe, whom he describes as the deacon of the church at Cenchreae and a patron of many. But who was this remarkable woman?

Biblical scholar and popular author and speaker Paula Gooder imagines Phoebe's story—who she was, the life she lived, and her first-century faith—and in doing so opens up Paul's world, giving a sense of the cultural and historical pressures that shaped his thinking and the faith of the early church. After the narrative, Gooder includes an extensive notes section with comments on the historical context, biographical details, cultural practices, and more. Rigorously researched, this is a book for anyone who wants to engage more deeply and imaginatively with Paul's theology.


My Review:
Phoebe is 72% historical fiction that begins in 56 AD, when the apostle Paul wrote to the church in Rome. The author's intent is to help Christians to better understand what it would have been like to live at that time. The story follows Phoebe as she delivered Paul's letter to the Christians in Rome and found healing from her past along with a better understanding of the freedom found in Christ.

Cultural and historical details were woven into the story along with things like the recipients debating what Paul meant, conflict between Jewish and Gentle believers and between non-believers and believers. She also included events recorded in the Bible, like references to Jesus' life and things like Paul's arrival in Rome in chains. The characters were engaging and acted realistically. I enjoyed the fiction section, and it was generally consistent with the information found in the Bible even if I didn't agree with how she portrayed some things.

The remaining 28% was end notes, which briefly explained things like why the author described Paul the way she did or how slavery worked in the Roman Empire. I found this section informative. But I was disappointed that in the end notes for the last few chapters (which focused more on events actually described in the Bible rather than fictionalized events), she apparently favored the opinion of those who doubt the historical accuracy of the Bible.


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


Sunday, September 16, 2018

A Secret to Die For by Lisa Harris

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A Secret to Die For
by Lisa Harris


ISBN-13: 9780800729158
Trade Paperback: 336 pages
Publisher: Revell
Released: Sept. 18, 2018

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description from Goodreads:
Psychologist Grace Callahan has no idea that she has a secret--one worth killing for. But when she finds out one of her clients has been murdered, she quickly realizes that the computer security specialist wasn't simply suffering from paranoia.

Detective Nate Quinn has just been cleared for active duty after a bombing killed eighteen people, including his partner, and left him dealing with PTSD. His first case back on the job involves the murder of Stephen Shaw, and his only lead turns out to be an old friend, Grace Callahan--and her life is in grave danger. Someone believes Shaw gave his psychologist information before he died. Information they are willing to kill for.


My Review:
A Secret to Die For is a Christian romantic suspense novel. Detective Nate recently lost his partner and several friends in a bombing incident. He had survivor's guilt and was determined to keep his old friend, Grace, safe. Grace recently lost her child and then her marriage and still struggled with the loss. When she discovers that a murdered client left her clues to stopping a terrorist attack, she's determined to feel useful by helping, even if it's dangerous.

The characters dealt with their pain while trying to stop the bad guys and stay alive. Grace has learned that only God can give her true security, not a man, but she's willing to have a romantic relationship again. Nate feels distant from God because He didn't save the good guys. But he still prays for help when things get bad and wants to regain a close relationship with God. Grace helps him process what happened, but Nate isn't ready to risk loving and losing someone again.

I liked that Nate and Grace were old, close friends and built on that friendship. The story was exciting, but the bank security box sequence just didn't ring true with my experiences, so it took a little while for me to get into the book. But I did enjoy it and would recommend it. 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, September 14, 2018

A Borrowing of Bones by Paula Munier

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A Borrowing of Bones
by Paula Munier


ISBN-13: 9781250153036
Hardcover: 352 pages
Publisher: Minotaur Books
Released: Sept. 11, 2018

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from Goodreads:
It may be the Fourth of July weekend, but for retired soldiers Mercy Carr and Belgian Malinois Elvis, it’s just another walk in the remote Lye Brook Wilderness—until the former bomb-sniffing dog alerts to explosives and they find a squalling baby abandoned near a shallow grave filled with what appear to be human bones.

U.S. Game Warden Troy Warner and his search-and rescue Newfoundland Susie Bear respond to Mercy’s 911 call, and the four must work together to track down a missing mother, solve a cold-case murder, and keep the citizens of Vermont safe on potentially the most incendiary Independence Day since the American Revolution.


My Review:
A Borrowing of Bones is a mystery/suspense novel. The characters were interesting, complex, and acted in realistic ways. The mystery was also complex since several things were happening at the same time: an old murder, explosives residue in several unexpected places, a missing baby, new murders, and more.

Mercy and her bomb-sniffing dog, Elvis, kept tracking down clues and passing them on to U.S. Game Warden Troy Warner (owner of a search and rescue dog). She's motivated by an experience she had as military police in Afghanistan. She's determined to find and save the mom and her baby this time. Troy isn't convinced the mom is innocent, but he's determined to keep Mercy safe. Not easy since she's stubborn and was sometimes reckless when she felt that the situation was too urgent to wait for backup.

Though the main threads of the mystery were explained at the end, some things were never explained. I think the focus was on the journey rather than the details of the mystery. There was occasional use of bad language. There was no sex. Overall, I'd recommend this novel to people who enjoy canine mysteries and 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.


Monday, September 10, 2018

The Cost of Betrayal by Dee Henderson; Dani Pettrey; Lynette Eason

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The Cost of Betrayal
by Dee Henderson;
Dani Pettrey;
Lynette Eason


ISBN-13: 9780764231735
Paperback: 384 pages
Publisher: Bethany House
Released: Sept. 4, 2018

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description from Goodreads:
In Dee Henderson's novella "Betrayal," Janelle Roberts is freed--thanks to people she doesn't know--after serving six years of a twenty-year sentence for a murder she did not commit. But a murderer is still at large, and Janelle needs to be somewhere safe with someone she can trust. She may not survive another betrayal.

In Dani Pettrey's "Deadly Isle," Tennyson Kent is trapped on the isolated island of her childhood by a storm surge, and she is shocked when the typically idyllic community turns into the hunting grounds of a murderer. Cut off from any help from the mainland, will she and first love Callen Frost be able to identify and stop a killer bent on betrayal before they become the next victims?

In Lynette Eason's "Code of Ethics," trauma surgeon Ruthie St. John saves the life of Detective Isaac Martinez. After a betrayal leads to him getting shot and then attacked while in recovery, Isaac is now a key witness determined to testify. But someone is intent on silencing him--and those around him--forever. Together, Ruthie and Isaac go on the run, desperate to escape the killers hunting him.


My Review:
The Cost of Betrayal is a collection of 3 Christian romantic suspense novellas. The first 40% of the book is a crime fiction by Henderson. It had no suspense or romance, just an old crime. The first third of the story was Ann Falcon stumbling across the missing murder weapon from a closed case--the murderer is already in prison. Since the weapon is in an unexpected spot, she looks into the case. This took the form of Ann telling her husband possible scenarios based on the evidence, then skip to their next conversation where she tells him new evidence and all of the possible scenarios, and so on. Slow pacing. When we get to the release of Janelle, the innocent woman, it's all about them telling her how hard her adjustment to normal society will be, all the arrangements they made for her, and her adjusting. Janelle did briefly confront the suspected murderer, but she didn't believe her friend did it. In the epilogue, a possible future romance for Janelle is implied. While interesting in a way, this story was too slow-paced to really engage me, especially as 'whodunit' is never proven one way or another.

Pettrey's story started with a murder and the suspense never stopped. Someone repeatedly tries to kill Tennyson while she and Callen (another law enforcement officer) investigate the crimes. She and Callen have known each other since they were children, and they fall in love again as they work together. Tennyson questions why God allows suffering but learns to trust God even in hard times.

Eason's story also started with suspense and never let up. Surgeon Ruthie isn't about to let crooked cops kill Detective Martinez after she dug a bullet out of him. On the run while trying to find proof against the crooked cops, they make a good team. They're attracted to each other and act on that once the bad guys are stopped. Occasional prayers to God for help.

There was no sex or bad language. I enjoyed the last two stories and would recommend the novel because of them.


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


Excerpt: Read an excerpt using Google Preview.

Sunday, September 9, 2018

Hitting the Books by Jenn McKinlay

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Hitting the Books
by Jenn McKinlay


ISBN-13: 9780451492678
Hardback: 304 pages
Publisher: Berkley
Released: Sept. 11, 2018

Source: Review copy from the publisher.

Book Description, Modified from Goodreads:
Theresa Houston is the victim of a hit and run. When she's attacked a second time, the investigation shifts from driver negligence to attempted homicide. A clue surfaces in the confiscated library materials that could crack open the case and it is up to library director Lindsey Norris to piece it all together. But things are not as they seem in the sleepy town of Briar Creek and when the driver of the stolen car turns up dead, Lindsey, her staff and her library friends have to hit the books before the murderer gets the last word.


My Review:
Hitting the Books is a cozy mystery. It's the ninth in a series. You don't need to read the previous books to understand this one, and this book didn't spoil the whodunits of the previous mysteries.

This was a clue-based mystery that can be guessed before the end. Someone's out to kill her friend, Theresa, so we get multiple near-death suspense scenes witnessed by Lindsey. When the man hired to kill Theresa is found murdered and some library materials in the car point to an unexpected person, they must clear up the confusion and delve deeper to find whodunit.

There were no sex scenes. There was occasional use of bad language. Overall, it was an 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.


Friday, September 7, 2018

Stormy Haven by Elizabeth Goddard

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Stormy Haven
by Elizabeth Goddard


ISBN-13: 9781335490599
Paperback: 224 pages
Publisher: Love Inspired Suspense
Released: Sept. 4, 2018

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from Goodreads:
Jonna Strand was once left for dead during an investigation into a human trafficking ring. She retired from law enforcement and moved to the opposite coast to try to forget that past. But now someone is again trying to kill her. Retired bodyguard Ian Brady comes to her rescue. He's uncover, hired by her old boss--who happens to be his uncle--to protect her. Ian must keep Jonna safe and help her catch the would-be killer.


My Review:
Stormy Haven is a Christian romantic suspense novel. Jonna left law enforcement when she was shot and left for dead during an investigation. She decided to "disappear" by retiring and moving away before anyone but her boss knew that she was still alive. But someone is trying to kill her again, and she's not going to run away this time!

Ian retired as a bodyguard when he failed to protect a client whom he'd come to love. When his uncle hears some criminal chatter mentioning his former agent, he hires Ian to secretly watch over Jonna. Protecting someone is difficult enough when they cooperate, but Jonna insists on being in the middle of the investigation...and the chases.

The suspense came from repeated and frequent attacks on Jonna. I understood why she didn't want to simply hide and wait. I liked that some of the attacks used her desire to be proactive to draw her and Ian into danger. Poor Ian had a hard job keeping them both alive, though Jonna worked with him as much as possible as long as she got to be a part of the action.

They both admired and were attracted to the other. Still, they both rejected the idea of a relationship together...until the end, when Ian jumps to "I want to marry you" after only knowing Jonna a few weeks. They got along well and made a good team, but that was a bit quick.

The main characters occasionally prayed. Ian needed to forgive himself for past mistakes. There was no sex or bad language. Overall, I'd recommend this enjoyable and 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.


Sunday, September 2, 2018

The Murder of My Aunt by Richard Hull

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The Murder of My Aunt
by Richard Hull


ISBN-13: 9781464209734
Paperback
Publisher: Poisoned Pen Press
Released: Sept. 4, 2018

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description from Goodreads:
Edward Powell lives with his Aunt Mildred in the Welsh town of Llwll. His aunt thinks Llwll an idyllic place to live, but Edward loathes the countryside - and thinks the company even worse. In fact, Edward has decided to murder his aunt. A darkly humorous depiction of fraught family ties, The Murder of My Aunt was first published in 1934.


My Review:
The Murder of My Aunt is a mystery that was originally published in 1934. The story is written as if it is a diary written by the murderer. He's not a very smart fellow. He writes down all of the details about his plans for murder, and he hides the diary in his room. He looks down on everyone else and cares only about his own pleasure. His aunt provides a home and an income for him, so he lives with her even though he hates her control. He decides to kill her so he can have control of everything himself.

You know from the beginning that it can't end well for him. After all, getting away with murder when you're automatically the prime suspect is a difficult thing. The story was lightly humorous. There was no sex. There were only a few uses 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.