Sunday, June 30, 2013

The Reluctant Widow by Georgette Heyer

book cover
The Reluctant Widow
by Georgette Heyer

SBN: 425-02159-9
Mass Market Paperback:
352 pages
Publisher: Berkley Medallion Books
Released: 1946, 1972

Note: I couldn't find a cover picture for the version I have, but it was similar to this one.

Source: Bought through

Book Description, Modified from Goodreads:
When Elinor Rochdale boards the wrong coach, she ends up not at her prospective employer's home but at the estate of Eustace Cheviot, a dissipated and ruined young man on the verge of death.

His cousin, Lord Carlyon, persuades Elinor to marry Eustace as a simple business arrangement. By morning, Elinor is not only a widow but finds herself embroiled with an international spy ring, housebreakers, uninvited guests, and murder. And Lord Carlyon won't let her leave ...

My Review:
The Reluctant Widow is a humorous historical novel set in Regency England. The details about daily life (funerals, housekeeping, etc.) and politics were woven into the story. The hero and heroine were well suited for each other in temperament. However, they spent very little time together, and the heroine filled most of that time by complaining at the hero (with valid concerns). The declaration of love occurred at the very end with little indication that it was coming.

Most of the story revolved around Elinor restoring an old manor into good order while at the same time having a number of unexpected visitors (including the housebreaking type). The mystery was about where Eustace put the papers that the visitors were looking for and the puzzle of which visitors were working for England and which were working against it. An imperfectly trained dog and his young, adventurous master provide the main humor and stole the story, in my opinion.

There was some explicit bad language. There was no sex. Overall, I'd recommend this amusing and 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.

Monday, June 24, 2013

In Times of Trouble by Yolonda Sanders

book cover
In Times of Trouble
by Yolonda Sanders

ISBN-13: 9781593094713
Trade Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: Strebor Books
Released: April 23, 2013

Source: Advanced Reader Copy from the author.

Book Description, Modified from Back Cover:
Lisa Hampton has started a new life after a scandalous betrayal by her husband led to their divorce. But their teenage daughter, Chanelle, seems determined to lie about where she's going and who she's with and to back-talk her mom when Lisa gets protective.

It doesn't help that Lisa's mother, who is staying with them to avoid her abusive husband, thinks Lisa is being too harsh with Chanelle.

Luckily, Lisa has friends that help her cope. She's best friends with Isaac and Olivia Scott, the most influential and powerful couple in the state. And Minister Eric Freeman's prayers and words of encouragement have helped her weather the storms in her life.

When Chanelle accuses the Scotts’ son of rape, Lisa discovers how quickly her friends become foes. Olivia and Isaac use their wealth, prestige, and power to manipulate justice and threaten everything Lisa holds dear.

My Review:
In Times of Trouble is a Christian general fiction novel. The characters dealt with realistic and serious issues (like rape, physical abuse, suicide, gambling addictions, and more). They responded to the situations in realistic ways, and I felt like this story could have really happened somewhere. Even when I didn't think a character was making a wise choice, I fully understood why they were acting that way or making that choice. I liked that Lisa learned from her mistakes and grew as a person.

The suspense came from not knowing what was going to go wrong next. There was a lot of relationship tension within the family, between friends, related to romance, and even with God.

The characters were Christians who realistically struggled with their faith even as they remained faithful. They were portrayed with both good and bad tendencies, and they grew in their relationship with God. There was a lot of "God talk," but it flowed naturally from the situations and character personalities.

The only thing I wasn't crazy about were a few scenes where everyone in the scene knew "the big secret" and were dealing with its fallout, but the reader is left in the dark about the secret. I found this frustrating and confusing. I'm more emotionally engaged in a scene when I can understand what the characters are dealing with rather than left to guess why they're upset or quarreling or at the emergency room.

There was a very minor amount of explicit or implied bad language. There was some graphic description of the date rape. Overall, I'd highly recommend this interesting and engaging 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, June 23, 2013

Act Soon: Google Reader is discontinuing on July 1

About three months ago, I heard that "Google Reader was discontinuing on July 1, 2013." Then I didn't hear anything more about it, and I wasn't sure what Google Reader was. Apparently, it's where you "Follow" other people's blogs and then can see the new content on those blogs when you're signed into your blogger account. (Someone please correct me if I'm misunderstanding this.)

Anyway, 534 of you Follow me that way and will lose track of Genre Reviews and my posts on July 1, 2013 if you do nothing.

One option is to sign up to have my new posts sent directly to your e-mail address. You can sign up for this using the below form (which can also be found along the right side of my blog):

Enter your email address:

Delivered by Feedburner

I'd told that another option is to continue using an RSS reader to receive blog posts using a free service called Feedly. Feedly will transfer all of your feeds from Google Reader in a pretty simple process, and it's free. You can download the Feedly reader from Feedly's blog. That Feedly post includes tips on importing your Google Reader subscriptions.

So if you Follow me, please act soon so that you'll continue to get my reviews and giveaway posts.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Love Stays True by Martha Rogers

book cover
Love Stays True
by Martha Rogers

ISBN-13: 9781621362364
Trade Paperback: 304 pages
Publisher: Realms
Released: May 7, 2013

Source: Review copy from the publisher.

Book Description, Modified from Back Cover:
Manfred Whiteman and his brother, Edward, fought for the South in the Civil War, but they've been prisoners for months. Their loved ones don't know if they're alive or dead. When the war ends, they're released from a horrible prison, given a few provisions, and begin a long journey home to Bayou Sara, Louisiana.

At home, Sallie Dyer waits for word of Manfred. Though just a young girl when Manfred left, Sallie is determined to wait for him. But she's worried she may fall in love with another suitor or be pressured to marry another if Manfred doesn't come home soon.

On their journey, Manfred and his brother encounter storms and delays as well as wonderful, caring people. Will he return home before someone else claims Sallie's hand?

My Review:
Love Stays True is a Christian historical romance set in the American South from April 4, 1865 to June 7, 1865. I was expecting a deeply historical and realistic novel because the story was loosely based on actual journals from the time. While the situations were realistic enough, there were a number of improbable or inaccurate historical "daily life" details.

I also didn't feel much suspense. Manfred wasn't worried about making it home due to his deep trust in God, he was patient during any delays, and any danger was quickly over. Sallie's troubles (corsets, parties, being courted) didn't seem weighty compared to what others were dealing with. Also it's hard to have a romance when the two characters haven't seen each other in over a year and don't interact for most of the story. Their personalities and beliefs were so different that I wasn't actually hoping they'd get together.

The main characters' reactions often seemed too simplistic. Manfred didn't have emotional trauma from fighting in the war and cared only that he was free. All of the main characters basically said, "Oh, well, we lost, but at least everyone's coming home and things will get back to normal!" They quickly dismissed any bitter or mixed feelings about losing the war or the assassination of President Lincoln. They never questioned what the future "normal" would be.

While Sallie did suffer bad dreams after killing an enemy soldier in self-defense, her reaction seemed impossibly naive. She didn't even seem to realize that Manfred and the rest were killing people in the war. Her reaction never moved past "God won't forgive me because I killed. I don't want anything to do with God because he won't prevent bad things from happening to everyone, even my enemies" until the very end of the book.

And Sallie worries that she'll fall in love with a handsome, kind suitor even though she loves Manfred "with all her heart and soul." She tries to stop the suitor from visiting with her so she won't fall in love with him instead. She avoids anything that might make her question the basis and strength of her love rather than maturely considering the situation.

There were frequent mentions of God working things out and of Sallie blaming God for letting bad things happen. There were no sex scenes and no bad language. Overall, I guess I'd recommend this novel to those who like uncomplicated romances with historical backdrops.

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, June 12, 2013

Slumdog Book and Bag Giveaway

I've been participating in many Giveaway Hops over the last few years, but the coordinator of those hops has drastically cut back on the number she is doing. So this month I'm holding a giveaway just for the followers of my four blogs. It's for a book and/or bag.

Carefully read the rules as they are different that normal.

book coverNo Longer a Slumdog by K.P. Yohannan is a Christian nonfiction book. You can read my review.

"You girls stay here. I'm going to get something to drink." But after a few minutes, the train started moving again, and Mom still wasn't back! Our hearts were racing. The train kept going faster and faster. Where was Mom?

Those with no voice—the suffering children of Asia—tell their stories. K.P. Yohannan shares their stories of lives transformed, of families learning to love, of entire communities flourishing with new life.

If you are only interested in the book, you can order it for free from Gospel for Asia.

bags (Click on the image to see a larger version.)

These bags are made by widows in India to support themselves and their children. bag in useThey are used by Gospel for Asia missionaries and sold by Gospel for Asia for $15 each. It is the exact style of bag that GFA native missionaries use to carry the Gospel literature and Bibles they give out as they witness.

This contest is for USA residents only and ends on June 19, 2013 at midnight.

If you would like the book and a bag, or only a bag, you can enter by:

1) You can leave a comment to this post asking to be entered and naming what you want to win--the book, the red bag, the white bag, and/or the turquoise bag. You can enter for all four items if you are interested in all of them. (I have comment moderation on to prevent spam comments, so don't worry if your entry comment doesn't appear immediately. It will soon.) Please also leave some way for me to contact you--or follow this blog so you can see the winner announcement.

2) This giveaway is also on my other blogs, and you can also enter on my other blogs for a total of four entries. You can enter here on Genre Reviews, on Different Time, Different Place, ChristFocus Book Club, and Adventures With Organics.

women's literacy3) This is not a requirement to win. You will gain an extra entry for every $1 donated for GFA women's literacy. When you donate, leave a comment giving the name you are using to enter this giveaway. That way I can credit the right person with the extra entries. I'm offering this option as a way to help make people aware of this program that I support.

When the giveaway ends, I will take every entry for the red bag across all four blogs (also counting donation entries), then randomly select a winner from that list and send that winner the bag and the book (if they asked for it). Then I'll do the same for the white bag, and then the turquoise bag. Winners can win only one of the bags, but all three can win the book.

I'll announce the winners on June 20, 2013 on all four blogs. 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!

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Looming Murder by Carol Ann Martin

book cover
Looming Murder
by Carol Ann Martin

ISBN-13: 9780451413604
Mass Market Paperback:
336 pages
Publisher: Obsidian
Released: June 4, 2013

Source: Review copy from the publisher.

Book Description, Modified from Back Cover:
Della Wright moved to small town Briar Hollow to realize her lifelong dream of owning a weaving studio. To promote her new business, Dream Weavers, Della starts a weaving group to make charity baby blankets. It attracts half a dozen people who seem as eager to gossip as to weave.

When a shady local businessman is found murdered, Della can’t help getting entangled in the investigation. Her criminologist friend and housemate, Matthew, and the police chief are upset with her bumbling sleuthing. But her promises to stop don't deter her, and perhaps her knowledge of weaving might be the final clue needed to uncover the murderer!

My Review:
Looming Murder is a cozy mystery. The few weaving descriptions assumed you had some knowledge about weaving, but the mystery had plenty of clues and red-herrings. Whodunit was guessable from the clues, and the clues weren't always obvious.

While I correctly and firmly guessed whodunit long before the characters, I still think that the motives of some of the other suspects felt more natural/realistic. I found the ending a little jarring since I had to change my view of several characters. We discover that a woman who doesn't come across as brilliant is actually very smart, and so on.

The story's tension mainly came from Della's romantic misadventures and from her potential decision to spend every last dime to buy a store when her business isn't doing well. Matthew seemed pretty sensible and drew the obvious (though incorrect) romantic conclusions, so I was surprised that he kept pushing Della to go out on a financial limb with the sole argument of "because you want to."

But it's Della that's the real mystery to me. I could never guess what she'd do next. She broke promises without a thought. She went from "no one's a suspect yet" to "hey, let's investigate this ourselves!" with no good reason why they should.

The men don't take her seriously because she's hard to take seriously. She insisted on wearing high-heeled shoes even when they weren't practical--like when she's on crutches. She's in blinding pain due to a fall down some stairs, and she's trying to flirt with the emergency room doctor and hopes he'll notice her trim ankle instead of the injured one. At least Della wasn't mean, but she didn't think things through. So she destroyed a crime scene that would have proved her friend innocent when she hopped all over it on her crutches looking for clues. She baffled me.

There was no sex. There was some explicit bad language. Overall, I'd recommend this book to those who like more chick-lit type heroines.

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, June 2, 2013

You Cannoli Die Once by Shelley Costa

book cover
You Cannoli Die Once
by Shelley Costa

ISBN-13: 9781476709352
Mass Market Paperback:
336 pages
Publisher: Pocket Books
Released: May 28, 2013

Source: Review copy from the publisher.

Book Description, Modified from Back Cover:
At Miracolo Northern Italian restaurant, one can savor brilliantly seasoned veal saltimbocca, or luscious risotto alla milanese, but no cannoli. Maria Pia Angelotta, the spirited seventy-six-year-old owner of the Philadelphia-area eatery, has butted heads with her granddaughter, the head chef, over the cannoli ban more than once.

Fortunately, Eve Angelotta knows how to handle what her nonna dishes out. But when Maria Pia’s boyfriend is found dead in Miracolo’s kitchen, bludgeoned by a marble mortar, the question arises: Is her nonna capable of murder?

The police seem to think so, and they put the elder Angelotta behind bars. Eve, the entire Miracolo family, and sexy neighborhood attorney Joe Beck try every trick in the cookbook to unravel a tangle of lies and expose a killer.

My Review:
You Cannoli Die Once is a cozy mystery. The characters had unique, unusual personalities without being strange. Their reactions to various events were believable but humorous, and the story was very funny.

I liked that the characters were comfortable with people different than them. Eve and her grandmother didn't always get along, but Eve's level of revenge was to cook cannoli. One of the employees got snotty and left for a singing gig elsewhere, but Eve's group forgave the offense and welcomed her back later. Things like that. I liked them.

Eve's sleuthing mainly involved talking with people and noticing what they're up to. When she broke the law, she was in realistic danger of being punished by the law which added to the tension. But the jail was described unrealistically: people brought personal clothing, etc., to the person arrested for murder to use in jail and chatted with her through the bars while the police officer snoozed nearby.

The mystery was a clue-based puzzle, and whodunit was guessable. One part was fairly easy to guess (and Eve also caught on pretty quickly). The other part was less so. I didn't correctly guess the murderer, but it made sense.

There were no sex scenes. There was some explicit bad language. Overall, I'd recommend this enjoyable, humorous 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.