Monday, October 31, 2011

Behind the Seams by Betty Hechtman

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Behind the Seams
by Betty Hechtman

ISBN-13: 9780425241424
Hardcover: 304 pages
Publisher: Berkley Prime Crime
Released: November 1, 2011

Source: Review copy from the publisher.

Book Description from Goodreads (slightly modified):
The crochet group's informal leader, actress CeeCee Collins, has a movie out, and thanks to the Oscar buzz, she's scheduled to appear on the famous Barbara Olive Overton Show. Molly and the others from their crocheting club come to sit in the audience. When CeeCee's niece Nell--a production assistant on the show--is accused of poisoning one of the producers, Molly and the club must set aside their crochet projects to clear Nell's name.

My Review:
Behind the Seams is a cozy mystery with a crochet theme. It's the sixth book in the series, but it can be read as a stand-alone and doesn't spoil the mysteries in the previous books.

The whodunit was on my list of possible suspects from the start, and I was certain of whodunit long before Molly was. However, the clues weren't obvious, so it was believable that Molly and friends didn't suspect. I found it less believable that Molly kept getting arrested because she was near a crime and due to misunderstandings. The being arrested part, maybe, but not the number of times within a matter of days.

The suspense was created by Nell potentially being arrested for murder and the relationship tensions between Molly and her boyfriend. It was clear that Molly wasn't committed to the relationship, though. While it was realistic that she took some time to realize this, it lacked the intended tension and so these sections felt slow to me. It might have been more suspenseful if I'd read the previous books.

There were also several scenes that headed toward a very exciting climax then jumped in time until the scene was over (which was confusing) and then had people discussing what had happened. This also cut down on some of the potential tension and excitement.

While the mystery part of the story was completely wrapped up, the author added a relationship cliff-hanger to the last paragraph of the book. But with the guy I didn't like.

Basically, I was left feeling like it should have been a really exciting, interesting book. It had all the right elements. But due to some of the writing choices, the excitement didn't engage me like it could have.

Kissing and such were only implied. There were no sex scenes. There was no bad language. Overall, it was an interesting cozy mystery with an interesting crochet method described in the story and in more detail in the back.

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 from Chapter One
"Okay, action," I said. "Sorry, I don't have one of those little black chalkboards to click."

"Dear, those are only when you're actually filming. This is just a run-through," CeeCee Collins said. Whatever it was called, CeeCee instantly went into character and gestured toward the setup for a cooking demonstration spread out in front of her. A series of glass bowls with ingredients, a mixing bowl and a nine-by-thirteen pan, along with a assortment of cooking tools, sat on the dark wood trestle table in her dining room.

She looked the picture of domesticity with her apron, and it was obvious she'd gone into character, because the real CeeCee didn't know which end of a wooden spoon was up.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Grace Under Pressure by Julie Hyzy

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Grace Under Pressure
by Julie Hyzy

ISBN-13: 9780425235218
Trade Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: Berkley Prime Crime
Released: June 1, 2010

Source: Borrowed from my local library.

Book Description from Back Cover (slightly modified):
Everyone wants a piece of millionaire Bennett Marshfield, owner of Marshfield Manor, who is receiving letters from someone claiming a right to his money. The elderly, reclusive owner trusts no one but his aged curator, Abe. But when Abe is killed in a case of mistaken identity, it's clear the person is deadly serious.

Although shaken by the murder, Grace Wheaton, whose lifelong dream has been to work at the manor, steps up to the challenge of assuming Abe's job. But if she's going to keep her job, she must find out who the murder is before he succeeds in killing her boss! She'll have to investigate a failed Ponzi scheme, some Wheaton family secrets, a scam artist, and more...

My Review:
Grace Under Pressure is the first cozy mystery in a series. I reviewed the second novel in the series and liked it enough to read this one, too.

While all the needed clues were there to guess "whodunit" at about the same time Grace did, the whodunit wasn't obvious. I also wasn't entirely clear why the person thought Mr. Marshfield owed them money. Someone did, yes, but not really Marshfield. The suspense was mainly created by the tensions of Grace's job--working with difficult people and customers--as well as wondering whodunit and if they would strike again.

The characters were varied, likable, and acted like realistic people would to the situations. The details about the setting, the people, and the job made the story come alive without slowing the story down.

Grace's two housemates are men. In the second book, it's only hinted at that they're a gay couple. In this book, it's clearly implied, but a big deal wasn't made about it.

There were no sex scenes. There was some explicit bad language (just one word used on several occasions: "h-ll"). 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.

Read more of Chapter One using Google Preview.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Spooktacular Giveaway Hop

Spooktacular Giveaway Hop

As a part of the Spooktacular Giveaway Hop, I'm holding a giveaway for your choice of one of three books.

book coverFor Whom the Stars Shine by Linda Chaikin is a a historical set mainly in Hawaii from 1888 to 1891. The book is a used book in good condition. You can read my review here.

Eden Derrington's father travels far and wide looking for a cure for leprosy as the disease gets worse on the islands. Her family is dividing down political lines as the king of Hawaii is ill and may die soon. But when Eden receives a mysterious note implying that her mother's accident was really a hushed-up murder, Eden begins to question everything she thought she knew.

book coverSolemn Oath by Hannah Alexander is a Christian medical suspense novel with some romance. The book is a used book in good condition. You can read my review here.

Dr. Lukas Bower vowed to put his patient's health first. By refusing to betray this solemn oath in the face of hospital politics, life has become very difficult for the young interm director of Knolls Community Hospital emergency room. The small-town serenity of Knolls is suddenly broken by a spate of suspicious fires, and the new influx of patients strains the resources of the already overworked emergency room. With the increased responsibilities, Lukas finds himself working more and more with Dr. Mercy Richmand.

book coverThe Time Machineby Tim Chaffey and Joe Westbrook is a science-fiction adventure for boys and girls about age 8 to 14. The book is new. You can read my review and a teen's review.

Jax and Isaiah, teen boys from the world’s top science academy, are creating a time machine for their science fair project. When the boys attempt to go back to 70,000,000 BC to see dinosaurs, the time machine fails though they're sure it should have worked. Then they try going back 4,500 years so they can witness the pyramids being built. Yet they come face-to-face with dinosaurs after all! Did the machine glitch and send them back to 70,000,000 BC? No time to test it out--Isaiah needs saving from an angry dinosaur, and Jax will need the help of their friends, two girls named JT and Mickey, and their hover-board project if he's going to save him.

This contest is for USA & Canada residents only.

To enter the giveaway:

1) you can twitter me saying "Hi @genrereviewer. Enter me in the giveaway for [give the book name and author's name]."


2) You can leave a comment to this post asking to be entered and naming which book you'd like to win. Please also leave some way for me to contact you--or follow this blog so you can see the winner announcement. I'd be fun if you also included why you're interested in reading this novel.

This giveaway ends on October 31, 2011 at midnight. The winner will be randomly selected. I'll announce the winner on Nov. 1, 2011 on this blog.

If you entered using twitter, I'll send you a @ or DM telling you of your win and asking where to send the book. If you entered using the blog comments, you'll need to leave your e-mail address or check back to see if you won so you can e-mail me your mailing address. If the winner hasn't responded with a mailing address within four days, I reserve the right to pick a new winner.

I hope everyone has fun with this!

The blogs participating in the Spooktacular Giveaway Hop:

Saturday, October 22, 2011

The Mother Hunt by Rex Stout

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The Mother Hunt
by Rex Stout

ISBN: 0-553-24737-9
Mass Market Paperback: 212 pages
Publisher: Bantam Books
Released: 1963, 1981, 1993

Source: Borrowed from my local library.

Book Description from Goodreads:
When a baby is abandoned on the doorstep of a young socialite widow, the woman thinks she knows the identity of the father: her deceased writer husband, the cad! But who is the mother? Reluctantly, Nero Wolfe accepts the case, and Archie identifies the first clue: unusual buttons on the baby's overalls. The case seems like child's play to Wolfe until the first dead body...

My Review:
The Mother Hunt is a humorous, historical mystery. Though this book is a part of the Nero Wolfe series, each novel is a stand-alone. You don't need to read the previous novels to understand this one.

The setting was Manhattan, NY, in 1963 (the same year it was written, though it's "historical" now.) The story was a fast-paced, quick read with some suspense created by the number of dead-ends they hit. While the whodunit was guessable, it could have easily been one of several people, and we're not told the vital clue until the "big reveal" scene.

The main characters have very vivid personalities, and the viewpoint character is a very jaunty fellow. The characters kept me coming back, though the mystery was interesting, too. I especially like the Nero Wolfe movies, which capture the novels well.

There was some talk about people having affairs, but no sex scenes. There was a fair amount of explicit bad language. Overall, I'd recommend this book to those who like mysteries and the 60's but don't mind explicit 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 from Chapter One
When the doorbell rang a little after eleven that Tuesday morning in early June and I went to the hall and took a look through the one-way glass panel in the front door, I saw what, or whom, I expected to see: a face a little too narrow, gray eyes a little too big, and a figure a little too thin for the best curves. I knew who it was because she had phoned Monday afternoon for an appointment, and I knew what she looked like because I had seen her a few times at theaters or restaurants.

Also I had known enough about her, part from public record and part hearsay, to brief Nero Wolfe without doing any research.

Read more of chapter one using Google Preview.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Jordan's Crossing by Randall Arthur

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Jordan's Crossing
by Randall Arthur

ISBN: 0-88070-582-5
Trade Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: Multnomah Books
Released: 1993

Source: Bought at a library book sale.

Book Description from Back Cover:
When pastor Jordan Rau accepted a position with a European missionary agency, his decision was not based on an opportunity to serve God, but on the monetary rewards the position would bring him.

However, shortly after his family's arrival in Germany, Jordan's priorities dramatically change after his young son, Chase, is murdered. Jordan becomes obsessed with finding his son's killers and delivering justice by his own hand. Driven by hatred and revenge, he sets out on a course of action that will destroy not only the murderers, but his own family as well--and only a miracle can stop him.

My Review:
Jordan's Crossing is a Christian suspense novel. There is a character in this novel that is the main character in a previous novel, but this novel can be read as a stand-alone. It did spoil the previous novel, though, so you might wish to read them in order.

The suspense was created by the relationship tensions caused by financial worries and the death of a son/brother and from the physical danger Jordan put himself and others in while tracking his son's killers. The characters dealt with realistic problems, but I felt like I was held at a distance. The author told about the character's emotions instead of pulling the reader into them.

The whole story was basically a sermon to the reader about the problems in the modern, western church and the effect of picking and choosing what parts of the Bible to believe has on Christians. While I liked the story and agreed with a lot of what the author pointed out, I wished the story had emotionally engaged me more.

Also, I didn't really like the ending. After bringing home the point repeatedly that Christians need to leave justice to God rather than seeking revenge themselves, the ending solely focused on the justice dealt out in this world. No one mentioned the ultimate justice given by God on Judgment Day.

There was a minor amount of "he cursed" style bad language and one explicit bad word which, apparently, some people don't consider a bad word. There were no sex scenes though a rape was referred to in vague terms. Overall, I don't regret reading the 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.

Read an excerpt from chapter one using Google Preview.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Mrs.Pollifax, Innocent Tourist by Dorothy Gilman

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Mrs.Pollifax, Innocent Tourist
by Dorothy Gilman

ISBN: 0-449-91137-3
Hardback: 205 pages
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Released: 1997

Source: Used book sale at lbrary.

Book Description from Google Books:
Working with her retired CIA friend John Farrell, Mrs. Pollifax must smuggle a manuscript out of Jordan, a document that encodes the shocking truth of Saddam Hussein's reign.

Hardly are the two airborne when the coils of Middle Eastern intrigue begin to unwind. Mrs. Pollifax's seatmate is not the affable Arab businessman he pretends to be. It is not imagination that persuades Mrs. P. that wherever they go, she and Farrell are followed. To elude their pursuers in such a politically volatile country isn't easy. In fact, it can be downright deadly. . . .

My Review:
Mrs.Pollifax, Innocent Tourist is a suspense/spy novel that doesn't take itself to seriously. Apparently, this book is the thirteenth in the series, but you can follow the story without having read the previous books, and this book didn't spoil details of the previous novels.

The characters were interesting and engaging. There wasn't a lot of detail to the action, but there was some nice setting detail. While this would qualify as a spy novel, they didn't have neat gadgets nor were they sneaky. They're extremely careful to do everything needed to look like innocent tourists, but then they talk about CIA connections and other suspicious details in front of their previously unsuspecting tour guide. It's also a suspense novel, but it was hard for me to take the physical danger to the main characters seriously. The suspense (for me) was more about would the guy with the manuscript make it, and would they manage to connect up with him?

There was a fair amount of explicit bad language. There was no sex. Overall, it's a fast, fun read.

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

Excerpt: Read an excerpt using Google Preview.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Line of Duty by Terri Blackstock

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Line of Duty
by Terri Blackstock

ISBN: 0-310-25064-1
Trade Paperback: 384 pages
Publisher: Zondervan
Released: 2003

Source: Library book sale.

Book Description from Goodreads:
A bomb explodes at the Icon International building in New Orleans while lawyer Jill Clark Nichols is in the top floor boardroom. The thirty-story building goes up in flames and fire departments from all around the area are called in. The firefighters from Newpointe are especially concerned since they know Jill is inside the building. Dan, her husband, rushes in to save her. But as firefighters work to evacuate the upper floors of the building, a second and third bomb explode, causing the lower floors to cave in. Firefighters and civilians are buried beneath the rubble.

When the smoke finally clears, a count is taken. Jill narrowly escapes the chaos of the explosions and fire only to find Dan missing.

Were the bombs the act of a terrorist, or a scheme coming from a heart of greed? Can Jills faith carry her through these long days of pain and uncertainty? And will Dan survive this tragedy . . . or sacrifice his life in the line of duty?

My Review:
Line of Duty is a Christian suspense novel that turns into a general fiction with a mystery. This is the fifth book in the series, but it reads like a stand-alone.

The suspense in the first part was mainly created by the physical danger that the various characters were in and then wondering which characters survived. After that, the suspense was created by relationship tension, regret and sorrow leading characters toward potentially bad decisions, and the side mystery of who blew up the building. The mystery was handled realistically and was not easily guessable ahead of time.

The characters were varied, interesting, and dealt with realistic problems. The story's focus was mainly on dealing with loss (and why God would allow it) and on loving people who are different. Most of the characters were Christians who were mutually struggling to understand why God allowed some to live, some to die, and some to have life-changing injuries.

There were no sex scenes. There was a very minor amount of "he cussed" style of bad language. 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 from Chapter One
Ashley Morris sensed the doom in the Icon International Building. She had listened to the news reports of layoffs and the companies crashing stock value with the detached interest of a sixteen-year-old, but it was hard to ignore the reality now. In the lobby, grim-faced employees spoke in low voices. Some wiped tears as they carried boxes out to their cars. Reporters with camera crews waited outside, interviewing exiting employees who'd just gotten the ax.

She'd picked a lousy day to hit her mother up for money.

Popping her gum, Ashley got into the elevator with two women and a man. One of the women gave her a look as if she had just parachuted out of a UFO. Ashley looked right back at her an blew a bubble. The woman looked away.

Read more from chapter one using Google Preview.