Friday, February 22, 2019

Never Let Go by Elizabeth Goddard

book cover
Never Let Go
by Elizabeth Goddard


ISBN-13: 9780800729844
Paperback: 368 pages
Publisher: Revell
Released: Feb. 5, 2019

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from Goodreads:
As a forensic genealogist, Willow Anderson is following in her late grandfather's footsteps in her quest for answers about a baby abducted from the hospital more than twenty years ago. The case may be cold, but things are about to heat up when someone makes an attempt on her life to keep her from discovering the truth.

Ex-FBI agent--and Willow's ex-flame--Austin McKade readily offers his help to protect the woman he never should have let get away. Together they'll follow where the clues lead them, even if it means Austin must face the past he's spent much of his life trying to forget. And even if it puts Willow's tender heart at risk.


My Review:
Never Let Go is a romantic suspense novel. Unfortunately, the story just didn't work for me. Austin deals with emotional trauma in his past by ignoring it. Willow can't help but dig up a person's past. This is given as the reason their relationship didn't work, so it should be great once Austin starts sharing about his past. Except her lack of trust is still a major issue. It's things like her asking (or agreeing) that he should leave, then feeling devastated that he's abandoning her (which he's never done). Or he's been doing sweet things for her and buys a necklace that she was admiring, and she's hurt and jealous that he must be buying that necklace for some unknown girlfriend. He even asks her, "Please, just trust me for once in your life!" And she does...once. Then she's back to assuming the worst about him. I don't understand why he's even attracted to her.

The mystery/suspense also didn't work for me. They followed up on a old clue and showed people an age-progressed picture of their suspect. People immediately know who she is. So why did the FBI agents not find her since they had a more accurate photo 21 years ago? And you know that the whole small town would have been talking about this young, single, local woman who, without getting pregnant, suddenly had a baby. And the one person who knew the identity of the Bad Guy had been killed by the start of our story, so I still don't understand why he was drawing attention (and a much more severe prison term) to himself by going around trying to kill the investigators. His tracks were already covered. And the girl still being alive was what was bringing about his ultimate aim. So why try to kill her and others to prevent her discovery? It just didn't make any sense.

And, finally, at about 60% of the way in, the story could have neatly wrapped up. So the author had Austin's brother basically reason, "Everything my brother has told me fits the facts as I know them, but I won't ask him why he thinks he's working for the girl's birth mother. I'll just assume he's been hired by the killer (who is now trying to kill them?) and do my best to prevent them from finding the girl!" Talk about forced. Willow's main job in the story seemed to be doing things without thinking about the consequences, getting attacked by bad guys, and trying to stay alive long enough for Austin to save her. This just wasn't my type of book. There was no bad language or sex.


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


Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Escape to Everly Manor by Chalon Linton

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Escape to Everly Manor
by Chalon Linton


ISBN-13: 9781524408374
Paperback: 240 pages
Publisher: Covenant Communications
Released: Feb. 1, 2019

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from NetGalley:
Nineteen-year-old Lizzy and her nine-year-old brother, Thomas, find themselves orphaned after a tragic accident claims the lives of their parents. Their estranged, cruel Uncle Cline arrives to claim his inheritance, and he's determined to spend his newfound wealth and rid himself of his charges. Desperate to save her brother from a dangerous life as a cabin boy on a merchant ship, and herself from being married off to a detestable old gentleman, Lizzy schemes how they can run away.

Lizzy and Thomas escape and find refuge in an abandoned cabin. Lizzy soon meets a Mr. Barton in the nearby village, and the charming gentleman is immediately intrigued by the mysterious young woman. Through his kindness to herself and her brother, Lizzy begins to trust him and hope for a life in which she can live—and love—as she chooses.


My Review:
Escape to Everly Manor is a romance novel set in 1813 in England. There were many little things in the story that seemed improbable to me. For example, it wasn't until nearly the end that someone questioned why their parents named a cruel uncle as their guardian and left them completely dependent upon him. It's not like Lizzy and Thomas had no friendly adults in their life to look into the matter. Also, everyone acted like it was shocking for a nine-year-old boy to work, but factories (among other places) regularly employed young boys. So I didn't find it very historically accurate.

The main characters were nice and meant well, but they didn't always act realistically. Plus Lizzy was pretty useless in a crisis and quite adept at getting into situations where she was helpless and needed to be rescued. Even Barton sometimes acted stupidly when it came to a crisis. For example, he once handed what was obviously a weapon to someone who wanted to use it on him. Still, the author tried to create suspense through violent storms, injuries, and kidnappings.

The romance developed over time as trust built between the two. Barton was kind and patient. Lizzy had very little care for her own happiness and was determined to protect Thomas above everything (though her plans didn't do a very good job with that). Lizzy treated her brother like a five-year-old, babying him and acting like he's incapable of handling difficult situations. She rejected Barton in favor of caring for her brother, even though it's clear that she didn't have to make a choice between them. She let Barton kiss and hold her on several occasions but didn't even try to find a way to make a relationship with him work. Frankly, she kept making bad decisions even when better options were available. 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.


Sunday, February 17, 2019

The Sky Above Us by Sarah Sundin

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The Sky Above Us
by Sarah Sundin


ISBN-13: 9780800727987
Paperback: 384 pages
Publisher: Revell
Released: Feb. 5, 2019

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from Goodreads:
Numbed by grief and harboring shameful secrets, Lt. Adler Paxton ships to England with the US 357th Fighter Group in 1943. Determined to become an ace pilot, Adler battles the German Luftwaffe in treacherous dogfights in the skies over France as the Allies struggle for control of the air before the D-day invasion.

Violet Lindstrom wanted to be a missionary, but for now she serves in the American Red Cross, where she arranges entertainment for the men of the 357th in the Aeroclub on base and sets up programs for local children. Drawn to the mysterious Adler, she enlists his help with her work and urges him to reconnect with his family after a long estrangement.

Despite himself, Adler finds his defenses crumbling when it comes to Violet. But D-day draws near. And secrets can't stay buried forever.


My Review:
The Sky Above Us is a Christian historical romance set from Oct. 2, 1943 to June 24, 1944 in England. It shows the lead up to D-Day and the invasion from the viewpoint of a USA fighter pilot and a Red Cross volunteer at his airbase. This book is the second in a series. Though it includes enough information that it can be read as a stand alone, the three books are linked as each brother is motivated by a shared painful incident in their past.

Adler is very competitive and is determined to make ace pilot while forgetting how badly he wronged his two brothers in the past. He's ordered to be wingman to another pilot who's a friend, but being wingman will prevent him from making ace. God keeps placing him in positions where he must put others before himself, and he learns humility, compassion, and how to accept forgiveness.

Violet has been urged by a relative to become a missionary. She loves God enough to do that, but the missions board won't send a single woman. She loves children, so she goes to England thinking she'll be helping the refuge children. Only she's assigned to serve donuts to rough-around-the-edges American pilots. Adler seems more of a gentleman than the others, and she wants to help him heal and find God's love. She progressively realizes that she's been looking down on others and feeling self-righteous when she has no right to.

The main characters acted realistically to events and had depth. After having grown through the events in the book, the hero and heroine end up as a good match with shared goals and values. The fighter pilot scenes were suspenseful. 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 15, 2019

A Murder Unmentioned by Sulari Gentill

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A Murder Unmentioned
by Sulari Gentill


ISBN-13: 9781464206979
Hardcover
Publisher: Poisoned Pen Press
Released: Feb. 12, 2019

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from Goodreads:
The gun used in Rowland Sinclair's father's death some thirteen years earlier has turned up in a drained dam at the family's country homestead in Yass. Rowland and his elder brother, Wil, had avoided any discussion of the event. The possible involvement of the teenage Rowly and his older brother's intervention comes to light as their enemies use their influence to set the police to renew their inquiries into Henry Sinclair's death.

Rowly and the trio of artist friends who live in his Sydney suburban mansion, and generally have his back, avail themselves of a racing green Gypsy Moth (Rowland is a pioneer in air travel) and a yellow Mercedes sports car (another frightening mode of transport) to arrive in New South Wales' Southern Tablelands, bent on clearing Rowly's name.

With cameo appearances from historical figures - Bob Menzies in the Sinclair kitchen, Edna Walling in the garden, and Kate Leigh grinning lasciviously at Rowly in a jailhouse crowd - and a real sense of fun contrasting with the quite genuine tension.


My Review:
A Murder Unmentioned is a mystery set in Dec. 1933 in Australia. This is the sixth novel in a series. This story referred back to events that happened in previous books, especially the fourth book, but you don't have to read the previous books in order to follow this one.

The main characters were interesting, caring people. Rowly was even more hot tempered than usual, ready to punch people for any insult. It was a clue-based mystery. I caught on to who the anonymous informant was long before Rowly and Wil, but it was realistic that they didn't suspect that person until strong evidence pointed in that direction. Rowly had to save people's lives at several points in the story, which added suspense. Interesting historical details were woven into the the story.

There was a fair amount of bad language. There were no sex scenes. Overall, I'd recommend this interesting 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 13, 2019

No Escape Claws by Sofie Ryan

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No Escape Claws
by Sofie Ryan


ISBN-13: 9781101991244
Mass Market Paperback: 304 pages
Publisher: Berkley Prime Crime
Released: Jan. 29, 2019

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from Goodreads:
It's fall in North Harbor, Maine, where Sarah owns a charming secondhand shop and sells lovingly refurbished items of all kinds. The shop is always bustling--and not just because a quirky team of senior-citizen detectives works out of it and manages to get in even more trouble than Sarah's rough-and-tumble rescue cat, Elvis.

A cold case heats up when young Mallory Pearson appears at the shop. Mallory's father is in prison for negligence after her stepmother's mysterious death, but Mallory believes he is innocent and asks the in-house detectives to take on the case. With Sarah and Elvis lending a paw, the detectives decide to try to give Mallory's father a second chance of his own.


My Review:
No Escape Claws is a cozy mystery. It is the sixth 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. They were trying to prove that a person hadn't committed a crime, so they also had to prove who did do it. The amateur detectives asked questions and looked into various alibis. I immediately realized that the judge's identification of the culprit was based mostly on the hat (which is a clue that got them asking the right questions), but it took a very long time for the characters to figure that out. I also correctly realized whodunit a good bit before the main characters. The cat didn't even play much of a role except that of "cute cat."

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 10, 2019

The Colour of Murder by Julian Symons

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The Colour of Murder
by Julian Symons


ISBN-13: 9781464210891
Paperback: 304 pages
Publisher: Poisoned Pen Press
Released: Feb. 5, 2019

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from Goodreads:
John Wilkins meets a beautiful, irresistible girl, and his world is turned upside down. But did he really commit the heinous crime he was accused of? Told innovatively in two parts: the psychiatric assessment of Wilkins and the trial for suspected murder on the Brighton seafront, Symons' award-winning mystery tantalizes the reader with glimpses of the elusive truth and makes a daring exploration of the nature of justice itself.


My Review:
The Colour of Murder is a crime story set in England and originally published in 1957. The first half of the story was John recounting to a psychologist the events leading up to the murder. He's unhappy with his wife and attracted to a beautiful, young girl. He makes up an elaborate fantasy world around this girl, though she's not consciously encouraging him. He has blackouts when he drinks too much, but he's so unhappy that he's drinking too much. Then a murder occurs and John is arrested for it. He has no memory of the critical parts of that evening because he was drinking.

At this point, I was bored as I was expecting a mystery rather than a story of a pitiful mid-life crisis. Then we get into the actual murder trial. The evidence increasingly showed that John was unlikely to have committed the murder (though it was still possible). However, the police and jury don't see anyone else with an obvious motive--though they weren't looking too hard. There were clues and, at the very end, John's lawyer is certain he knows who did it.

Basically, this novel is less a mystery and more of a commentary on the justice system and how lawyers twist the truth to fit the image they are trying to build. John couldn't stand being seen as the type of person they made him out to be and ends up insane. I found it a rather depressing read. There was a fair amount of bad language (including b**ch). There were no sex scenes.


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 8, 2019

The Coronation by Boris Akunin

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The Coronation
by Boris Akunin


ISBN-13: 978-0802127815
Hardcover: 368 pages
Publisher: Mysterious Press
Released: Feb. 5, 2019

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

Book Description, Modified from Goodreads:
After five years spent abroad building up a business as something of a private investigator, the handsome, stuttering Fandorin is back in Moscow--and in for a case that entangles him with the highest echelons of Romanov royalty. Grand Duke Georgii Alexandrovich arrives in Moscow with three of his children for the coronation of Tsar Nicholas II, who is fated to become the last Emperor of Russia.

During an afternoon stroll in the park, Georgii's daughter Xenia is dragged away by bandits, only to be rescued by an elegant gentleman and his Japanese sidekick. The passing heroes introduce themselves as Erast Petrovich Fandorin and Masa, but panic ensues when the party realizes that four-year-old Mikhail has been snatched in the confusion. A ransom letter arrives from an international criminal demanding the handover of the Count Orlov, an enormous diamond on the royal scepter which is due to play a part in the coronation. Can the gentleman detective find Mikhail in time?


My Review:
The Coronation is a mystery set in May 1896 in Moscow. It's the seventh book in a series. You don't need to read the previous novels to understand this one, and this novel didn't spoil the previous novels.

The viewpoint character was a butler for the Grand Duke Georgii Alexandrovich. He spent a lot of time thinking about his butler duties in the first part of the book. While interesting, that did slow the pacing for the suspense and mystery. The series heroes are not viewpoint characters, so we only learn what the butler sees or is told. And he's a fool who keeps messing things up because he has no faith in the hero's abilities.

After the kidnapping, the story was a race to find and save the child mixed with events related to the coronation and various romances of all types. I guessed who the mastermind, Dr. Lind, was shortly after the kidnapping. Someone made a comment that made me think "oh, I bet that character is the mastermind." It's extremely rare that I'll jump to the back of the book, but I did so in this case and it turned out I was correct. However, it was realistic that the characters in the story didn't catch on until the very end. Don't expect a happy ending – even the butler wasn't happy, and things turned out well for him.

There were no graphic sex scenes. There was some bad language. I'd recommend this mystery to those interested in the Russian setting.


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.