Sunday, May 9, 2021

In a Far-Off Land by Stephanie Landsem

Book cover
In a Far-Off Land
by Stephanie Landsem


ISBN-13: 9781496450425
Hardcover: 384 pages
Publisher: Tyndale House
Released: May 4th 2021

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from Goodreads:
As the Great Depression hits the Midwest, Minerva Sinclaire runs away to Hollywood, determined to make it big and save the family farm. But beauty and moxie don't pay the bills in Tinseltown, and she's caught in a downward spiral of poverty, desperation, and compromise. Finally, she's about to sign with a major studio and make up for it all. Instead, she wakes up next to a dead film star and is on the run for a murder she didn't commit.

Only two unwilling men--Oscar, a Mexican gardener in danger of deportation, and Max, a too-handsome agent battling his own demons--can help Mina escape corrupt police on the take and the studio big shots trying to frame her. But even her quick thinking and grit can't protect her from herself. Alone, penniless, and carrying a shameful secret, Mina faces the consequences of the heartbreaking choices that brought her to ruin . . . and just might bring her back to where she belongs.


My Review:
In a Far-Off Land is a historical romance set in 1931 in America. It's loosely based on the lost/prodigal son parable in the Bible. It's not a mystery/suspense novel. While the story started with Mina waking up next to a murdered man, the story became a series of flashbacks. Much of the story was people thinking about or discussing or the characters telling the reader about the events that led up to that day. Very little action happened in the "current day" for about 75% of the book. Then a couple of characters discovered critical clues, quickly solved whodunit, and figured out what to do about it. The remaining story was about healing broken relationships.

While I enjoy historical fiction, I'm not really interested in detailed descriptions of every single piece of clothing that the characters wore beyond the initial setup of their style. Same for the detailed descriptions of the restaurants, houses, etc. So the pacing felt a little slow to me. I liked that the author included the relationship tensions created by the prejudice against Mexicans and the bastard status of Max. Anyway, the story was a depressing litany of how these realistic and complex characters made bad decision after bad decision, leading to sad and tragic outcomes. Mina was a thief, prostitute, liar, and selfish, but she came across as a sympathetic character even though I didn't relate to her situation or choices.

At the end, Mina received the profound mercy and grace of a father's unconditional love. This helped her to understand God's unconditional love when she felt like God had no time for the likes of her. There was no bad language. There were veiled references to sex (no detailed sex scenes). Overall, I'd recommend this story as long as you realize it's a slow, relational novel that shows God's love for the undeserving. It excelled at that.


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, May 7, 2021

Never Miss by Melissa Koslin

Book cover
Never Miss
by Melissa Koslin


ISBN-13: 9780800738396
Paperback: 368 pages
Publisher: Revell
Released: May 4th 2021

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from Goodreads:
Former CIA sniper Kadance Tolle possesses a special set of skills and a rare pedigree. She comes from a family of assassins, and by saving Lyndon Vaile's life she risks being found by them. Despite the danger, Kadance feels compelled to help Lyndon discover who is after him--and his research that seems to prove that the Ebola virus was manmade and is about to be weaponized.

With shadowy figures pursuing them and a Mastermind watching their every move, Kadance and Lyndon must scramble to stop an impending bioattack at the State of the Union address. But their warnings fall on deaf ears, and it becomes increasingly clear that there's no one they can trust--except perhaps each other.


My Review:
Never Miss is a Christian romantic suspense novel. Kadance and Lyndon respected each other's unique skills and trusted one another's judgment, so they worked very well together as an awesome team. While Lyndon was a genius scientist, he also knew how to fight well enough to back Kadance up. Each let the one best suited lead when their skill was needed and supported their actions. Because of their unique backgrounds and abilities, they both understood what it's like to not quite fit in and felt comfortable opening up to each other. Still, they had to work through some misunderstandings as they learned more about each other.

The suspense remained high due to several attempts to kill them and the pressure to uncover who's going to release the super Ebola virus at the State of the Union speech. The main characters were likable, honorable people who reacted realistically to the situations. I cared about what happened to them. I loved that Kadance really was intelligent and skilled and didn't suddenly, at the end, throw away her gun or something just so that the hero had a chance to rescue her.

The Christian element was a few references to prayer and Kadance asking Lyndon how an intelligent scientist could believe in the existence of God. 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.


Wednesday, May 5, 2021

The Moonlit Murders by Fliss Chester

Book cover
The Moonlit Murders
by Fliss Chester


ISBN-13: 9781838886479
ebook: 303 pages
Publisher: Bookouture
Released: April 21st 2021

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from Goodreads:
1945. Fen Churche books passage on a steam ship from France to America, excited to dance the night away in the glamorous ballroom and play games on deck. Then a diamond tiara goes missing, and Fen promises to find it when her friend Genie is accused. During the search, they find the body of a German passenger hidden in a lifeboat. Then Fen finds Genie, a young actress bound for Broadway, strangled in her own cabin. With no police on board, Fen decides to do a little snooping of her own.

Fen feels sure these dreadful crimes are linked. Through her sleuthing she meets light-hearted lieutenants returning from the war, charming stewards, and snooty first-class passengers. Can Fen solve the case before they dock in New York and the killer escapes for good?


My Review:
The Moonlit Murders is a mystery set in 1945 in France and on the ocean. This is the third book in the series. You don't need to read the previous books to understand this one, and this one didn't spoil the whodunit of the previous mysteries.

This was a clue-based puzzle mystery. Fen asked good questions, was observant, and was able to link the clues together to solve the mysteries. It seemed obvious from nearly the beginning who was the jewel thief, though I wasn't certain until the end about whether or not that person had a partner. Whodunit was guessable based on the clues. Each clue just made me more certain of who murdered the German. The clues weren't quite so clear cut about who murdered Genie. The main characters were interesting, engaging, and had realistic reactions to events. Historical details like turns of phrase or rationing were woven into the story and brought it alive in my imagination without slowing the pacing.

There was no sex. There were only a few uses of bad language. Overall, I'd 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.


Sunday, May 2, 2021

The Nature of a Lady by Roseanna M. White

Book cover
The Nature of a Lady
by Roseanna M. White


ISBN-13: 9780764237188
Paperback: 384 pages
Publisher: Bethany House Publishers
Released: May 4th 2021


Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description from Goodreads:
1906. Lady Elizabeth "Libby" Sinclair, with her love of microscopes and nature, isn't favored in society. She flees to the beautiful Isles of Scilly for the summer and stumbles into the dangerous secrets left behind by her holiday cottage's former occupant, also named Elizabeth, who mysteriously vanished.

Oliver Tremayne--gentleman and clergyman--is determined to discover what happened to his sister, and he's happy to accept the help of the girl now living in what should have been Beth's summer cottage . . . especially when he realizes it's the curious young lady he met briefly two years ago, who shares his love of botany and biology. But the hunt for his sister involves far more than nature walks, and he can't quite believe all the secrets Beth had been keeping from him.

As Libby and Oliver work together, they find ancient legends, pirate wrecks, betrayal, and the most mysterious phenomenon of all: love.


My Review:
The Nature of a Lady is a Christian romance set in 1906 in England. Oliver's sister has gone missing. People keep delivering messages and objects to Lady Elizabeth because she's living in the same vacation cottage and both women have a similar look. However, Oliver's sister promised an archaeological find to some men who now think that Lady Elizabeth is their contact and is withholding their prize. They've already killed one boy to get their treasure. Libby and Oliver must find Beth before more people get hurt.

Libby and Oliver shared an interest in science and studying nature. Oliver encouraged Libby to learn more, sharing his knowledge with her. He also respected her intelligence and her courage during their efforts to protect and find his sister. She encouraged him to live up to his faith and forgive a longtime rival. All of the characters were complex, realistic people, and I cared about what happened to the main characters.

Libby felt that science explained the world without a need for God. Oliver, a vicar, explained that learning more about God's creation didn't negate the need for God. He helped her to a sense of wonder at Christ's act offering salvation. Based on one sentence, it seemed like Libby still felt that the things she discovered using science should be used to reinterpret the Bible. I'd assert instead that the Bible helps us to properly interpret what we discover through science. After all, God knows how He created everything! There was no sex or bad language. Overall, I'd recommend this enjoyable historical romance with a 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.


Friday, April 30, 2021

Murder on Wall Street by Victoria Thompson

Book cover
Murder on Wall Street
by Victoria Thompson


ISBN-13: 9781984805775
Hardcover: 336 pages
Publisher: Berkley
Released: April 27th 2021


Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from Goodreads:
Reformed gangster Jack Robinson is working hard to bolster his image in Gilded Age New York City society as he prepares to become a new father. But when Hayden Norcross, the man who nearly ruined his wife, is shot in cold blood, Jack knows the police will soon come knocking on his door. Frank Malloy has to agree, but a man as unlikeable as Hayden had more than a few enemies. It’s soon clear that plenty of the upper echelon as well as the denizens of the most squalid areas of the city seem to have hated him.

Sarah and Frank have their work cut out for them. As the daughter of the elite Decker family, Sarah has access to the social circles Hayden frequented, and the more she learns about his horrific treatment of women, the more disturbed she becomes. And as Frank investigates, he finds that Hayden had a host of unsavory habits that may have hastened his demise. But who finally killed him?


My Review:
Murder on Wall Street is a historical mystery set in New York City in 1900. This is the 24th book in the series. You don't need to read the previous books to understand this one, and this one didn't spoil the whodunit of the previous mysteries.

This was a clue-based puzzle mystery. Frank, Gino, Sarah, and her parents all helped with the investigation and used their unique skill sets. They asked good questions and investigated many leads, but there were many people who didn't like the murdered man so they had many suspects. Whodunit was a strong suspect for me from the beginning, but I understood why they weren't guessing that person. I wasn't sure if that person had help, though. What happened became clearer as they collected clues. I like that Sarah genuinely helps victims rather than pushing her way into investigating a crime simply for her amusement.

Some interesting historical details were woven into the story. The main characters were nice, engaging people and had realistic reactions to events. There were no sex scenes or bad language. Overall, I'd 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.


Sunday, April 25, 2021

The Jane Austen Investigates: The Abbey Mystery by Julia Golding

Book cover
The Jane Austen Investigates:
The Abbey Mystery
by Julia Golding


ISBN-13: 9781782643340
Paperback: 192 pages
Publisher: Lion Fiction
Released: April 23rd 2021


Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from Goodreads:
It’s 1789 and a young Jane Austen turns detective as she seeks to solve the mysterious happenings at Southmoor Abbey. When a carriage accident forces a change of plans, 13-year-old Jane is sent to be a companion to Lady Cromwell for a week as the household prepares to celebrate the eldest son’s coming-of-age party. While there, Jane vows to solve the mystery of the ghostly monk in the Abbey grounds – for she does not believe in such stories!

But this is not the only strange occurrence for the adventurous young Jane to investigate. There are shivery night-time investigations, an Indian girl with secret talents, a library fire, two prize horses in danger, and friends to save from false accusations. With notebook in hand and her faithful dog Grandison by her side, will Jane overcome the continuous obstacles and find out the truth?


My Review:
The Abbey Mystery is a delightful mystery set in 1789 in England with a 13-year-old Jane Austen as the amateur detective. I would've loved her as a kid, and I thoroughly enjoyed the story as an adult, too. The historical details about manners and customs were deftly woven into the story and did not slow down the pacing but did explain why certain things happened the way they did. Jane used modern wording and was a realistic 13-year-old girl, so younger readers will feel at home with her. She's spunky, determined, loyal, and has a sense of humor.

The mystery was clue-based, and whodunit was guessable from the clues. Jane had good ideas about where to look and what questions to ask. She made good friends that helped her to accomplish her goal of proving that a more powerful (than her) person was at fault rather than the young man who was blamed. There was no sex or bad language. Overall, I'd highly recommend this enjoyable 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, April 23, 2021

Winning the Gentleman by Kristi Ann Hunter

Book cover
Winning the Gentleman
by Kristi Ann Hunter


ISBN-13: 9780764235269
Paperback: 352 pages
Publisher: Bethany House Publishers
Released: April 20th 2021

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from Goodreads:
Aaron Whitworth hasn't had control over most aspects of his life, but he's always taken pride in being an honorable businessman and better-than-average horseman. When both of those claims are threatened, he makes the desperate decision to hire the horse trainer of a traveling circus as a temporary jockey for his racehorses.

Sophia Fitzroy knows that most horsemen don't take her seriously because she's a woman, but she can't pass up the opportunity to get away from the tumultuous world of travel and performing. As she fights for the right to do the work she was hired for, she learns the fight for Aaron's guarded heart might be an even more worthwhile challenge.

As secrets come to light and past vulnerabilities are confronted, will Aaron and Sophia sacrifice their former dreams and forge a new one together--against all odds?


My Review:
Winning the Gentleman is a Christian historical romance set in 1817 in Newmarket, England. It's the second book in the series. You don't need to read the previous novels to understand this one, though characters from her previous novels do appear in this story.

The main characters were interesting, complex, and reacted realistically to events. Aaron felt like he couldn't marry due to his "illegitimate" (though grudgingly acknowledged by his father) status making his social position questionable. He wanted to be a man of his word, though, so backed Sophia even though she tricked him into a contract making her a jockey. She didn't really want to be a jockey, just make enough of a name for herself that women would want to hire her to teach them advanced riding (dressage). Both come to appreciate the other person's strengths and grow as people. Aaron's friends help him to realize that he's made his own place in society.

There was some praying, and Sophia learned to trust God more with her future plans. There was no sex or bad language. Overall, I'd recommend this enjoyable 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.