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.


Friday, August 31, 2018

The Cats Came Back by Sofie Kelly

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The Cats Came Back
by Sofie Kelly


ISBN-13: 9780399584596
Hardcover: 304 pages
Publisher: Berkley Prime Crime
Released: Sept. 4, 2018

Source: Review copy from the publisher.

Book Description, Modified from Goodreads:
The charming Minnesota town of Mayville Heights is hosting a music festival, and the whole place is bustling with musicians and tourists. Librarian Kathleen Paulson is looking forward to taking in some fabulous performances--and her two cats, Owen and Hercules, are looking forward to having their pictures taken in some promotional photos for the town. But then the trio stumbles across a dead body by the river.

The victim is a friend--who also happens to be a look-alike of a popular cabaret singer set to perform at the festival. Who could have wanted to harm this innocent girl? Was it a case of mistaken identity? As accusations abound and suspicions swirl, Kathleen, Hercules and Owen will put their abilities--both mundane and magical--to the test, and lay down the paw.


My Review:
The Cats Came Back is a cozy mystery. This is the 10th book in the series. You don't need to read the previous books to understand this one, and this book didn't spoil the mysteries in the previous books.

The cats are intelligent and have cat abilities (disappearing and getting out of places) taken to a magical degree. Their actions drew attention to clues or allowed the heroine to question people more naturally, but mostly they provided humor with their antics.

It's a clue-based puzzle mystery. The heroine is intelligent and knows how to ask questions without being pushy or accusing. Whodunit seemed obvious to me right after a scene where the heroine thought she'd learned nothing. She later caught on to the clues provided at that time. She took a little longer at pinpointing whodunit because she assumed certain information was correct whereas I doubted it.

There was no sex. There was occasional use of bad language. Overall, I'd recommend this fun 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, August 26, 2018

False Colours by Georgette Heyer

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False Colours
by Georgette Heyer


ISBN-13: 9781402210754
Trade Paperback: 342 pages
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Released: 1963; March 1, 2008

Source: Borrowed from the local library.

Book Description, Modified from Goodreads:
Honourable Christopher "Kit" Fancot returns to London on leave from the diplomatic service to find that his twin brother, Evelyn, has disappeared and his extravagant mother's debts have mounted alarmingly. The Fancot family's fortunes are riding on Evelyn's marriage to the self-possessed Cressy Stavely and her formidable grandmother's approval of the match.

If Evelyn fails to meet the Dowager Lady Stavely in a few days as planned, the betrothal could be off. When the incorrigible Lady Fancot persuades her son to impersonate his twin (just for one night, she promises) the masquerade sets off a tangled sequence of events that engage Kit's heart far more deeply than he'd ever anticipated.


My Review:
False Colours is a Regency romance novel. This romance was mostly dinner parties and garden walks, so there wasn't much action-adventure. But I loved this fun story!

There are funny scenes of Kit and his mother making tiny slips about his identity, and the mother's personality created a lot of humorous scenes. While I could guess what had happened to Evelyn, who was going to marry whom, and so on, there were several times the story took a turn that I didn't expect.

**minor spoiler** I love that the heroine is astute enough to realize Kit isn't the man she agreed to marry, and she doesn't jump to the conclusion that she can't trust Kit because of the lie.**end spoiler**

There was no sex. There was some bad language (mostly using "God" in a swearing sense). Overall, I'd recommend this 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.


Excerpt: Read an excerpt using Google Preview.

Friday, August 24, 2018

The Unknown Ajax by Georgette Heyer

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The Unknown Ajax
by Georgette Heyer


ISBN-13: 9780373774166
Trade Paperback: 368 pages
Publisher: Harlequin Books
Released: 1959; August 18, 2009

Source: Bought through Half.com.

Book Description, Modified from Back Cover:
Over the years, the truculent Lord Darracott has ruled his barony with a firm hand and a fierce tongue. But when a tragic accident kills his eldest son, Lord Darracott must summon the next heir apparent--his derelict son's only child, whose name no one has dared utter for the past twenty-seven years.

Raised in Yorkshire with a thick accent to match, Hugo finds himself in the broad expanse of the Kent marshlands, where his future estate lies--and which is home also to the Darracotts, who instantly distrust this coarse and unrefined interloper. But Lord Darracott has the solution--provided he can convince his sharp-tongued granddaughter to marry a perfect stranger.


My Review:
The Unknown Ajax is a Regency romance novel. This storyline was a little different from Heyer's usual fare, but it still had a lot of humor to it. Hugo's sense humor and uncommon background made him an interesting character. The "save the day" scene at the end was great fun, though it eventually felt like it'd never end. The story also started slow and built up the the main scenes, so don't expect a fast-paced adventure story. Still, I thoroughly enjoyed it.

There was a fair amount of bad language (mostly using "God" in swearing). There was no sex. Overall, I'd recommend this humorous novel to Heyer fans.


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.

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Murder at Hawthorn Cottage by Betty Rowlands

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Murder at Hawthorn Cottage
by Betty Rowlands


ISBN-13: 9781786816085
ebook: 302 pages
Publisher: Bookouture
Released: Aug. 21, 2018

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from Goodreads:
Melissa is just settling into her new life in a crumbling cottage in the countryside when the bones of a young woman are found in the woods just behind her new home. As an investigation begins, strange phone calls in the night convince Melissa that the police are barking up completely the wrong tree.

A local journalist convinces her to help him to prove the bones are from a prostitute who disappeared almost a year ago. Melissa’s enquiry takes her from the beauty salon to a male stripper show, exposing many of the village’s darkest secrets. Can Melissa solve this terrifying crime without putting herself and her new friends in terrible danger?


My Review:
Murder at Hawthorn Cottage is a cozy mystery. The heroine is a suspense writer, so she observed people and how they acted. She had just moved, so she was getting to know the locals and was inspired with the plot of her next book. Only real life becomes too close to that plot--drugs might really be smuggled in and distributed in her neighborhood. A local, charming reporter also convinced her to help him investigate the disappearance of a prostitute.

There were clues as to what was going on and multiple threads that they came across. You could guess at some aspects, but the murder whodunit was revealed suddenly and almost accidentally at the end. The heroine had no clue that person was whodunit (which is why she placed herself in danger). She generally tried to avoid dangerous situations, but she still found herself in some tense moments.

There were no graphic sexual descriptions, which is remarkable given that the heroine attended a male stripper show to investigate a certain lead. There was some bad language (and of a wide variety). Overall, I'd recommend this interesting 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, August 19, 2018

Instruments of Darkness by Imogen Robertson

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Instruments of Darkness
by Imogen Robertson


ISBN-13: 9780670022427
Hardcover: 374 pages
Publisher: Pamela Dorman Books
Released: February 17, 2011

Source: Borrowed from my local library.

Book Description, Modified from Goodreads:
In the year 1780, Harriet Westerman, the willful mistress of a country manor in Sussex, finds a dead man on her grounds with a ring bearing the crest of Thornleigh Hall in his pocket. For years, Mrs. Westerman has sensed the menace of neighboring Thornleigh Hall, seat of the Earl of Sussex. It is the home of a once-great family that has been reduced to an ailing invalid, his whorish wife, and his alcoholic second son, a man haunted by his years spent as a redcoat in the Revolutionary War.

Not one to be bound by convention, Harriet recruits a reclusive local anatomist named Gabriel Crowther to help her find the murderer. The same day, Alexander Adams is slain by an unknown killer in his London music shop, leaving his children orphaned. His death will lead back to Sussex, and to an explosive secret that has already destroyed one family and threatens many others.


My Review:
Instruments of Darkness is a suspense novel set in 1780 in England. There's an unknown, lurking menace in the nearby Thornleigh Hall. Harriet knows the recent murder will be left unsolved unless she takes action, and she believes in justice. But pursuing justice puts her at odds with the powerful family at Thornleigh Hall. She asks for Crowther's help because he has studied the marks left on a body by murder and because she wants to talk the case over with someone level-headed.

The characters were well-developed so I understood why they acted as they did. Our heroes steadily pursued answers and stood for justice even when threatened or in danger. The secrets of Thornleigh Hall were slowly revealed and evidence gathered. The suspense mainly came from physical danger, but Harriet's reputation was also under threat.

Innocent people died in horrid ways. Minimal "gore" detail was used to describe these scenes, but it disturbed the characters and may disturb the reader--which I think was the point. It was worth any risk to stop this evil. (A dog also dies. It was the historically accurate way to legally prove the presence of poison in a food or drink. Harriet and Crowther spending so much time together alone seemed less historically accurate.)

There was no sex. There was a fair amount and a wide variety of bad language. Overall, I'd recommend this interesting 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.


Friday, August 17, 2018

The Crescent Stone by Matt Mikalatos

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The Crescent Stone
by Matt Mikalatos


ISBN-13: 9781496431714
Paperback: 448 pages
Publisher: Tyndale House
Released: Aug. 7, 2018

Source: Review copy from the publisher.

Book Description, Modified from Goodreads:
Madeline Oliver has never wanted for anything, but now she would give anything just to breathe. Jason Wu skates through life on jokes, but when a tragedy leaves him guilt-stricken, he promises to tell only the truth, no matter the price. When a mysterious stranger name Hanali appears to Madeline and offers to heal her in exchange for one year of service to his people, Madeline and Jason are swept into a strange land where they don't know the rules and where their decisions carry consequences that reach farther than they could ever guess.


My Review:
The Crescent Stone is more social commentary than traditional fantasy. There is no great Evil to be fought, just social inequality and greed to be recognized. Human children are offered a deal--your hearts desire in return for service to the Elenil. These children come from all backgrounds, and we get brief descriptions of past racial discrimination in America (out of context, so it sounds even more shocking and baffling).

Jason is the comic relief in an otherwise depressing story with a sad ending. Ironically, he's the most realistic and complex character. Madeline is more a role than a person. She's dying, so she agrees to fight the Scim for 1 year in return for her health. After gaining her health and while in awe of the Elenil, she still decides not to fight in the war because she couldn't kill anyone. She doesn't like how the magic in the world works and harshly judges the locals for how they use it, yet she greatly benefits from it. After only two months of living in this world and despite warnings about the consequences from the people who live there, she decides that she knows best how to fix things, even if it'll cause the death and suffering of many innocent people.

She's a self-centered, arrogant gal (though apparently still "pure of heart") who seemed intent on passing her pain on to the entire fantasy world. I felt so frustrated by her attitude that I didn't enjoy the story. The ending had the obvious solution that took her forever to recognize. While I'm in favor of pointing out inequalities, I felt like the author was going for shock value more than truth in an attempt to prompt action in the readers. 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.

Sunday, August 12, 2018

A Rumored Fortune by Joanna Davidson Politano

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A Rumored Fortune
by Joanna Davidson Politano


ISBN-13: 9780800728731
Paperback: 416 pages
Publisher: Revell
Released: July 31, 2018

Source: Review copy from the publisher.

Book Description, Modified from Goodreads:
Tressa Harlowe's father did not trust banks, but neither did he trust his greedy extended family. He kept his vast fortune hidden somewhere on his estate in the south of England and died suddenly, without telling anyone where he had concealed it. Tressa and her ailing mother are left with a mansion and an immense vineyard and no money to run it. It doesn't take long for a bevy of opportunists to flock to the estate under the guise of offering condolences. Tressa knows what they're really up to. She'll have to work with the rough and rusticated vineyard manager to keep the laborers content without pay and discover the key to finding her father's fortune--before someone else finds it first.


My Review:
A Rumored Fortune is a Christian romance set in 1866 in England. It reads like a fantasy that happens to be set in a Victorian rather than medieval type setting. Despite the common belief that her father was a commoner that stole his fortune, people call Tressa "the princess of the castle" and treat her family respectfully.

Tressa idolized her father at the beginning of the story and longed for his love. Only, she and her mother were called home because her father appears to have died at sea. Neither knows were his fortune was kept, plus he took out a loan. Is the fortune even real? Family and suitors descend on the castle to find the fortune for themselves. Tressa deals with finding food for them, money to pay the disgruntled servants and field hands, and money to pay the debt. She struggled with the realization that people desired her rumored fortune, not her.

Tressa and hero were both kind, thoughtful people. The hero has learned through adversity to love others and to think about the common people. Tressa endured heavy pruning and learned who is her true Vine. There were vineyard-related analogies throughout the book. There was no sex or bad language. Overall, I'd recommend this 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.

Friday, August 10, 2018

Weekend at Thrackley by Alan Melville

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Weekend at Thrackley
by Alan Melville


ISBN-13: 9781464209710
Paperback: 240 pages
Publisher: Poisoned Pen Press
Released: Aug. 7, 2018

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description from Goodreads:
Jim Henderson is one of six guests summoned by the mysterious Edwin Carson, a collector of precious stones, to a weekend party at his country house, Thrackley. The house is gloomy and forbidding but the party is warm and hospitable – except for the presence of Jacobson, the sinister butler. The other guests are wealthy people draped in jewels; Jim cannot imagine why he belongs in such company.

After a weekend of adventure – with attempted robbery and a vanishing guest – secrets come to light and Jim unravels a mystery from his past.


My Review:
Weekend at Thrackley is a mystery/adventure set in England which was originally published in 1934. Jim is invited to a house party where the host collects jewels and all the other guests have precious jewels that the host wants to view. It's not really a mystery since the reader pretty much knows what's going on as does the undercover detective that's at this party. The detective is trying to prove that jewelry theft is occurring. Jim happens to stumble across clues to what's going on and recognizes the undercover detective as an old school friend, so he gets in on the action.

The good-guy characters were fun with a humorous view of the world. I thought that we were going to have a murder-free detective story at first (which I enjoy, too), but the bodies started piling up at the end. There was no sex. There was a fair amount of bad language. Overall, I'd recommend this entertaining adventure.

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, August 5, 2018

Texas Baby Pursuit by Margaret Daley

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Texas Baby Pursuit
by Margaret Daley


ISBN-13: 9781335490537
Mass Market Paperback:
224 pages
Publisher: Love Inspired Suspense
Released: Aug. 7, 2018

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from NetGalley:
Minutes after his baby nephew is kidnapped, Texas Ranger Dallas Sanders traces the crime to a child trafficking ring hiding in plain sight. As he and local sheriff Rachel Young race to expose the sinister conspiracy, they’re determined to keep their relationship professional. But when Rachel’s infant daughter is also abducted, can she and Dallas rescue the children in time…and survive to have a future together?


My Review:
Texas Baby Pursuit is a Christian romantic suspense novel. It is the fourth in a series, but it reads like a stand alone. The hero and heroine were both law enforcement officers, and they worked together to question people and track down clues. They were competent at their jobs. The suspense came from the need to rescue the babies before they were sold off and from several attacks on the heroine.

The hero and heroine supported and respected each other and built each other up. Each had a bad relationship in the past that left them questioning their judgment when picking a romantic partner, but they talked this out together and worked through the issues that held them back. They were attracted to the other's character and personality, not only their looks. I appreciate authors who show this kind of relationship.

The Christian theme was the heroine feeling like God had let her down and questioning why a good God would allow evil to occur. There was no bad language or sex. Overall, I'd recommend this 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.


Friday, August 3, 2018

A Tale of Two Murders by Heather Redmond

book cover
A Tale of Two Murders
by Heather Redmond


ISBN-13: 9781496717153
Hardcover: 320 pages
Publisher: Kensington
Released: July 31, 2018

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from Goodreads:
In the winter of 1835, young Charles Dickens is a journalist on the rise at the Evening Chronicle. Invited to dinner at the estate of the newspaper's co-editor, Charles is smitten with his boss's daughter, vivacious nineteen-year-old Kate Hogarth. They are having the best of times when a scream shatters the pleasant evening. Charles, Kate, and her father rush to the neighbors' home, where Miss Christiana Lugoson lies unconscious on the floor. By morning, the poor young woman will be dead.

When Charles hears from a colleague of a very similar mysterious death a year ago to the date, also a young woman, he begins to suspect poisoning and feels compelled to investigate. The lovely Kate offers to help--using her social position to gain access to the members of the upper crust, now suspects in a murder. If Charles can find justice for the victims, it will be a far, far better thing than he has ever done. But with a twist or two in this most peculiar case, he and Kate may be in for the worst of times .


My Review:
A Tale of Two Murders is a mystery set in 1835 in England. Vivid historical and setting details were woven into the story, making it feel like these events could really have happened. The author tried to stay true to what is known about Charles Dickens' career and lifestyle in his early twenties, but the mystery is fictional. The mood of the story was somber.

The characters were interesting and acted realistically, and I cared about what happened to them. The author also used correct manners and attitudes for the time, so Kate and Charles had to be careful about their behavior together. Charles and his friends found some inventive ways to gain access to people to ask them questions. He wanted to uncover why two girls had died on the same night a year apart. I did not correctly guess whodunit until the final clues fell in place, and Charles had it figured out by then, too.

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


Monday, July 30, 2018

Scandal Above Stairs by Jennifer Ashley

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Scandal Above Stairs
by Jennifer Ashley


ISBN-13: 9780399585531
Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: Berkley Prime Crime
Released: July 3, 2018

Source: Review copy from the publisher.

Book Description, Modified from Goodreads:
Priceless artwork has gone missing from the home of a wealthy baronet, and his wife stands to take the blame. When Kat's employer asks for help in clearing her friend's name, Kat trades her kitchen for the homes of Mayfair's wealthiest families.

Soon antiques are disappearing not only from the extravagant households of connoisseurs and collectors, but from the illustrious British Museum. As the thefts increase in frequency, Kat encounters her friend Daniel McAdam, who has set himself up in a pawnshop on the Strand as a seedy receiver of stolen goods. When a man is murdered in the shop, Kat must use all of her wits to see that the thieves are caught and justice is done.


My Review:
Scandal Above Stairs is a mystery set in May 1881 in England. This is the second book in the series. While the characters did refer to events that happened in the previous novel, they did not spoil whodunit. You do not need to read the previous novel to understand this one.

The mystery was a clue-based puzzle. The main characters did a good job of spotting things that were going on and coming to the correct conclusions based on the clues. The mystery had several layers--who was stealing things, who killed the first victim, and so on. They ended by uncovering who was behind the whole scheme.

The main characters were interesting and likable. Kat learned more about Daniel's mysterious past. The historical details, especially those about cooking, were woven into the story better this time. There was no sex. There was occasional use of bad language. Overall, I'd recommend this 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.


Excerpt: Read an excerpt using Google Preview.

Sunday, July 29, 2018

Murder, She Reported by Peg Cochran

book cover
Murder, She Reported
by Peg Cochran


ISBN-13: 9780525479666
ebook
Publisher: Alibi
Released: July 31, 2018

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from Goodreads:
Manhattan, 1938. Tired of being trapped in the gilded cage of her family’s expectations, Elizabeth Adams has done what no self-respecting socialite would think to do: She’s gotten herself a job. Although Elizabeth’s dream is to one day see her photographs on the front page of the Daily Trumpet, for now she’s working her way up as the newsroom’s gal Friday.

When veteran reporter Ralph Kaminsky needs a photographer to fill in for a last-minute assignment, Elizabeth jumps at the chance. At the Waldorf Hotel, Elizabeth is tasked with tracking down the season’s “It girl,” Gloria DeWitt, who will be making her society debut. Working her own connections to New York’s upper crust, Elizabeth manages to land an exclusive interview with Gloria.

Then Gloria’s stepmother is shot dead in a Waldorf bathroom, placing Elizabeth at the scene of a headline-worthy scandal: “Murder of a Society Dame.” Now Elizabeth will have to get the scoop on the killer before her good name gets dragged through the gossip columns—or worse. .


My Review:
Murder, She Reported is a mystery set in 1938 in New York. The author included interesting historical and setting details. Elizabeth was observant and able to put clues together better than anyone else. Yet she was a little slow in doing so. I realized the significance of certain information (and so correctly guessed whodunit and why) several chapters before she did, though I grant that she was sleep deprived.

Though usually likable, Elizabeth seriously let a friend down. She initially was concerned about a friend who desperately needed a job. Elizabeth even knew of a job opening that would be perfect for her. But Elizabeth was more interested in solving the mystery because it would benefit her career and social life and so forgot about her friend. Not nice.

Also, despite the fact that the handsome detective asked Elizabeth to contact him with any information about the case, she decided to confront a person she thinks is a double murderer. By herself. And without telling anyone where she is and why she thinks this person is a murderer. This made no sense for a normally intelligent gal. I felt like this was forced to create some suspense. Despite this, overall, I'd recommend this mystery as it was interesting.

There was no sex. There was a minor amount of 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.


Friday, July 27, 2018

Thief of Corinth by Tessa Afshar

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Thief of Corinth
by Tessa Afshar


ISBN-13: 9781496428660
Paperback: 368 pages
Publisher: Tyndale House
Released: July 3, 2018

Source: Review copy from the publisher.

Book Description, Modified from Goodreads:
After years spent living with her mother and oppressive grandfather in Athens, Ariadne runs away to her father’s home in Corinth, only to discover the perilous secret that destroyed his marriage: though a Greek of high birth, Galenos is the infamous thief who has been robbing the city’s corrupt of their ill-gotten gains.

Desperate to keep him safe, Ariadne risks her good name, her freedom, and the love of the man she adores to become her father’s apprentice. Her unusual athletic ability leads her into dangerous exploits. But when the wrong person discovers their secret, Ariadne and her father find their future—and very lives—hanging in the balance.

When they befriend a Jewish rabbi named Paul, they realize that his radical message challenges everything they’ve fought to build, yet offers something neither dared hope for.


My Review:
Thief of Corinth is a Christian romance set in first century Greece. It included brief encounters with Paul during his stay in Corinth. Ariadne's broken family has left her bitter and longing for other's approval. When her father falls into deep debt, she helps him rob a corrupt man. But when Paul's teachings sway her father against stealing, Ariadne discovers it's not as easy to stop thieving as to start. I didn't quite understand how, after Paul said that stealing is never acceptable, her family so easily concluded that God wanted Ariadne to steal from another evil man. They even drew other Christians into the scheme. But, hey.

The characters acted realistically, were likable, and grew as people. Historical and cultural details were woven into the story. Ariadne was determined to have her own way in some things, and she wasn't the only one who got hurt as a result of her actions. Her family had to learn to forgive each other for past hurts. Ariadne also struggled with how to love one's enemies. There was no sex or bad language. Overall, I recommend this 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.


Excerpt: Read an excerpt using Google Preview.

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Cottage by the Sea by Debbie Macomber

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Cottage by the Sea
by Debbie Macomber


ISBN-13: 9780399181252
Hardback: 352 pages
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Released: July 17, 2018

Source: Review copy from the publisher.

Book Description from Goodreads:
Annie Marlow has been through the worst. Rocked by tragedy, she heads to the one place that makes her happy: Oceanside in the Pacific Northwest, the destination of many family vacations when Annie was a teenager.

Once there, Annie begins to restore her broken spirit, thanks in part to the folks she meets: a local painter, Keaton, whose large frame is equal to his big heart--and who helps Annie fix up her rental cottage by the sea; Mellie, the reclusive, prickly landlord Annie is determined to befriend; and Britt, a teenager with a terrible secret. But it is Keaton to whom Annie feels most drawn. His quiet, peaceful nature offers her both comfort and reprieve from her grief, and the two begin to grow closer.

Then events threaten to undo the idyll Annie has come to enjoy. And when the opportunity of a lifetime lands in her lap, she is torn between the excitement of a new journey toward success and the safe and secure arms of the haven--and the man--she's come to call home.

In this heartwarming tale, Annie finds that the surest way to fix what is damaged within is to help others rise above their pain and find a way to heal.


My Review:
Cottage by the Sea is a heartwarming story with several sweet romances. Annie lost her entire family in a tragedy that left her adrift in grief and with survivors guilt. She returns to Oceanside because it's a place where she feels closer to the happy memories of her family. She reaches out to several other hurting souls in the community--a neighbor who is afraid to leave her house, a gentle giant who has been rejected and teased his entire life, a teenager with an abusive step-father, and others. Since we're dealing with hurting people, these relationships have their ups and downs as people sometimes reacted out of fear of future hurt. Still, Annie finds unexpected love and healing in the process.

The romances grew as people did life together--planting a garden, doing animal rescues, fixing up the yard, and such. There were no sex scenes. There was occasional use of bad language. Overall, I'd recommend this 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.


Monday, July 23, 2018

River to Redemption by Ann H. Gabhart

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River to Redemption
by Ann H. Gabhart


ISBN-13: 9780800723644
Paperback: 336 pages
Publisher: Revell
Released: July 3, 2018

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from Goodreads:
Orphaned in the cholera epidemic of 1833, Adria Starr was cared for by a slave named Louis, a man who stayed in Springfield, Kentucky, when anyone with means had fled. A man who passed up the opportunity to escape his bondage and instead tended to the sick and buried the dead. A man who, twelve years later, is being sold by his owners despite his heroic actions. Now nineteen, Adria has never forgotten what Louis did for her. She's determined to find a way to buy Louis's freedom.


My Review:
River to Redemption is a Christian historical set in 1845 in Kentucky. It was partly inspired by a true event. During the 1833 cholera epidemic, a slave named Louis was left in charge of several businesses in Springfield, and he also nursed the sick and buried the dead. In gratitude, the town collected money to buy and free him when his owner died years later.

The fiction was worked around this: An orphaned girl is taken in by a young widow. She's partly raised by the slaves that helped her during the cholera epidemic, so she believes in freeing all slaves. She's the one who suggests raising funds to free Louis. Her suitor owns slaves, so she's conflicted about marrying him. A charming drifter also makes her question what she really wants in her future. We also have the love story of the woman who took her in and the new, widowed pastor.

The characters acted realistically and were likable and complex. Interesting historical details were woven into the story. The Christian themes were to "pray believing" and to look for the good things even during times of sorrow. There was no sex or bad language. Overall, I'd recommend this enjoyable historical 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.

Friday, July 20, 2018

Loving Lieutenant Lancaster by Sarah M. Eden

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Loving Lieutenant Lancaster
by Sarah M. Eden


ISBN-13: 9781524405250
Paperback: 256 pages
Publisher: Covenant Communications
Released: June 1, 2018

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description from Goodreads:
Orphaned as a child, Arabella Hampton was the unwanted and unloved charge of a cruel aunt and neglectful uncle. The only light in her young life was the kindness of the Jonquil family, and she clung to the childish dream of someday living with them at Lampton Park. Now, years later, that opportunity is presented to Arabella in a most unexpected way: she is to be the lady's companion to the dowager countess. As she takes up residence at the estate, the young woman soon finds that life at the Park is far more complicated than she imagined. The lines of her position are blurred, and she is neither family nor servant. So when the countess plans a grand house party, Arabella is content to hide in the shadows. But one gentleman sees her there.

Lieutenant Linus Lancaster has retired from the navy and is not looking for love, especially when he finds himself entangled in his sisters' scheme to trap him into finding a wife at a house party at Lampton Park. Yet amid the festivities, he's impossibly drawn to the dowager's quiet companion, Arabella. Their regard for each other is undeniable, but they are haunted by their pasts. Can the two find a way to bridge their two worlds?


My Review:
Loving Lieutenant Lancaster is a Regency romance set in 1816 in England. It's the fourth book in the series, but you don't need to read the previous books to understand this one. Arabella was orphaned when a small child and grew up feeling unwanted. She longs to be a part of a loving family but expects to spend her life on the outskirts, never really belonging anywhere. Linus had to leave his sisters when he was young and joined the navy with his brother. He watched his brother die in battle and still grieves. He's come home but hardly knows his sisters. He must eventually take his place running the family estate, but it was something he was never trained to do.

I like that the story shows how our upbringing can shape how we view ourselves and others. Arabella and Linus were both kind, caring people who were drawn to those characteristics in the other. Linus drew Arabella out and helped her engage with others. Arabella helped Linus find the courage to face his future and his grief. But since both have other suitors, they're uncertain if they're just friends or if the other also desires a future together. The historical details about the politics, social manners, and such were woven into the story. There was no sex or bad language. Overall, I'd highly recommend this 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, July 18, 2018

The House at Saltwater Point by Colleen Coble

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The House at Saltwater Point
by Colleen Coble


ISBN-13: 9780718085827
Hardcover: 352 pages
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Released: July 3, 2018

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through BookLook Bloggers.

Book Description, Modified from Goodreads:
Ellie Blackmore is making a name for herself as a house flipper. But when her sister Mackenzie disappears, Ellie can’t focus on anything but uncovering what happened. Her only clue is the bloodstain on the deck of Mackenzie’s boat. Ellie knows her sister isn’t on the best of terms with her ex-husband, Jason, but he wouldn’t kill her—would he?

Coast Guard intelligence officer Grayson Bradshaw believes Mackenzie faked her own death after stealing a seized cocaine shipment. The problem is convincing Ellie.

Both Ellie and Grayson want truth, but truth—and family—is often more complex than it first appears. From international terrorism to the peaceful lavender fields of Puget Sound, The House at Saltwater Point is a thrilling race to uncover the truth before it’s too late.


My Review:
The House at Saltwater Point is a Christian romantic suspense novel. It's the second book (and third story) in the series. While it can work as a stand-alone novel, this book continues Shauna and Zach's story--the search for her missing siblings--in addition to Ellie and Grayson's story.

Grayson had to deal with learning he's adopted at the same time he's tracking down the theft of a seized cocaine shipment and a known terrorist. He knows who took the shipment, but Ellie refuses to believe her sister could be involved. She also struggled with her guilt over her youngest sister's death when Ellie was still a child. Ellie and Grayson ended up working together to discover what happened to Ellie's sister. I cared about what happened to the main characters, and they reacted realistically to events. The suspense mainly came from knowing that Mackenzie needed immediate medical care--if she survived--and from the danger to the town that they uncovered while searching for her.

The main characters prayed a couple "God, help me" type prayers at the very end. Ellie also realized that God could heal the broken places but she hadn't let him. There was no sex or bad language. Overall, I'd recommend this 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.


Excerpt: Read an excerpt using Google Preview.

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Darkwater Secrets by Robin Caroll

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Darkwater Secrets
by Robin Caroll


ISBN-13: 9781683700685
Paperback: 272 pages
Publisher: Gilead Publishing
Released: July 17, 2018

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from Goodreads:
The Darkwater Inn stands tall and proud in the French Quarter, the hub of New Orleans. Bourbon Street is bustling, and general manager Adelaide Fountaine has her hands full with a hotel at capacity. But she is shocked when a body is found: a hotel guest stabbed with a kitchen knife.

Detective Beau Savoie, Adelaide's childhood friend, is on the case. As Beau digs into the victim's past, he unearths a shocking connection between Adelaide and the murdered guest. Beau is hurt that his friend--the woman he's quietly loved for years--kept the truth from him. To make matters worse, the stress of the investigation has sent Adelaide right into the comforting arms of her coworker Dimitri.


My Review:
Darkwater Secrets is a novel about how secret traumas affect our lives. It's not really a mystery as I easily and correctly guessed who committed the murder (and why) very shortly after the murder occurred. While the detective did follow up obvious leads and was able to get forensic results nearly instantly, the mystery was solved by the murderer confessing at 66% into the story. After that, it was simply a matter of dealing with the non-mystery relationship problems that had developed and healing from past trauma.

Gorgeous Adelaide had no desire to date (and for good reason), but both Dimitri and Beau secretly love her. It's not really a romance novel, though. I liked the characters and cared about what happened to them. However, the story had a lot of filler. For example, several conversations were basically repeated (since the good advice was rejected the first time or two). Also, the sentence structure was often poor, creating sentences that were confusing or unintentionally funny.

One main character was a Christian, while other characters practiced voodoo. 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.


Friday, July 13, 2018

The Hope of Azure Springs by Rachel Fordham

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The Hope of Azure Springs
by Rachel Fordham


ISBN-13: 9780800734732
Paperback: 304 pages
Publisher: Revell
Released: July 3, 2018

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from Goodreads:
Seven years ago, orphaned and alone, Em finally arrived at a new home in Iowa after riding the orphan train. But secrets from her past haunt her, and her new life in the Western wilderness is a rough one. When her guardian is shot and killed, Em, now nineteen, finally has the chance to search for her long-lost sister, but she won't be able to do it alone.

For Azure Springs Sheriff Caleb Reynolds, securing justice for the waifish and injured Em is just part of his job. He's determined to solve every case put before him in order to impress his parents and make a name for himself. Caleb expects to succeed. What he doesn't expect is the hold this strange young woman will have on his heart.


My Review:
The Hope of Azure Springs is a Christian romance set in 1881 in Iowa. Many of the characters dealt with grief over losing loved ones. Em was separated from her sister when they rode the Orphan Train, and she has endured 7 years of poverty and loneliness. Many of the locals lost children in a sickness that swept the area. Caleb lost his brothers in the Civil War. Throughout the story, they learned from each other how to grieve and find joy again.

Caleb initially thinks Em is very plain and treats her like a sister, but he finds healing as he tries to bring joy and playfulness back into her life. The story was basically about the characters getting to know each other and learning to care about each other.

Sheriff Caleb had a deputy but did everything by himself, like search for a missing person whose life was in danger. I found that odd. I was also surprised that the sheriff kept riding off with Em in the saddle in front of him. Mainly because that's hard on the horse, but also because they were alone. Then he takes a girl he's courting out alone on a picnic with her riding in front of him. Are there no other horses in that town or public places to picnic? There were several minor things like this that didn't seem accurate to the historical period. Still, the realistic, caring characters made for an enjoyable story.

There was no sex or bad language. Overall, I'd recommend this enjoyable 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.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Dead Drift by Dani Pettrey

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Dead Drift
by Dani Pettrey


ISBN-13: 9780764212970
Paperback: 352 pages
Publisher: Bethany House Publishers
Released: July 3, 2018

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from NetGalley:
Seven years ago, operative Luke Gallagher vanished to become part of an elite team set on capturing a deadly terrorist. When Luke returns to face those he left behind, their help becomes his only hope of stopping his target's latest threat of an attack that would shake America to its core.

Private investigator Kate Maxwell never stopped loving or looking for Luke after he disappeared. But she also never imagined he left her or his life by choice. Now he's back, and together they must unravel a twisting thread of secrets, lies, and betrayal, all while on the brink of a biological disaster. Will they and their love survive, or will Luke and Kate become the terrorist's next mark?


My Review:
Dead Drift is a Christian romantic suspense novel. It's the fourth book in a series. It's not really a stand-alone novel as main characters from the previous novels have point-of-view roles in this one and there are two cases being investigated that are a continuation from events in the previous book(s).

Two characters worked on solving the cold case of their sister/friend while the rest focused on stopping the latest threat by the terrorist who was revealed in the last book. The suspense came from trying to stop the deadly terrorist plot while avoiding assassins (as Luke and Kate are now on a hit list). Luke and Kate still cared for each other and enjoyed working together, but Kate needed to forgive Luke for disappearing on her for so many years. She has to decide if she can trust him with her heart again.

Luke struggled with some of the things he'd done in the past under orders but decided to seek forgiveness and draw closer to God. While not frequent, the characters prayed to God when they had concerns (not just "God, save us" emergency prayers). There was no sex or bad language. Overall, I'd recommend this 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.


Excerpt: Read an excerpt using Google Preview.

Sunday, July 8, 2018

Blood on the Tracks by Martin Edwards

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Blood on the Tracks
by Martin Edwards


ISBN-13: 9781464209697
Paperback
Publisher: Poisoned Pen Press
Released: July 3, 2018

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description from Goodreads:
A signalman is found dead by a railway tunnel. A man identifies his wife as a victim of murder on the underground. Two passengers mysteriously disappear between stations, leaving behind a dead body.

Trains have been a favourite setting of many crime writers, providing the mobile equivalent of the "locked-room" scenario. Their enclosed carriages with a limited number of suspects lend themselves to seemingly impossible crimes. In an era of cancellations and delays, alibis reliant upon a timely train service no longer ring true, yet the railway detective has enjoyed a resurgence of popularity in the twenty-first century.

Both train buffs and crime fans will delight in this selection of fifteen railway-themed mysteries, featuring some of the most popular authors of their day alongside less familiar names. This is a collection to beguile even the most wearisome commuter.


My Review:
Blood on the Tracks a collection of 15 short story mysteries published in the late 1800s up to the 1950s. Most of the stories were from the detective's point of view and were tales of old cases, cases where the detective quickly figured out whodunit but still needed to catch the criminal, or stories where the detective found clues, put them together, and solved the crime. There were two ghost stories, and a couple stories from the murderer's point of view. Not all of the stories were about murder. And trains--while always mentioned--didn't play a large role in several of the stories. There was no sex. Most stories contained no bad language, but five stories had one to five uses of bad language. Overall, I enjoyed the interesting detectives and mysteries. I'd recommend this collection.

Included stories:
The Man with the Watches by Arthur Conan Doyle
The Mystery of Felwyn Tunnel by L. T. Meade and Robert Eustace
How He Cut His Stick by Matthias McDonnell Bodkin
The Mysterious Death on the Underground Railway by Baroness Orczy
The Affair of the Corridor Express by Victor L. Whitechurch
The Case of Oscar Brodski by R. Austin Freeman
The Eighth Lamp by Roy Vickers
The Knight’s Cross Signal Problem by Ernest Bramah
The Unsolved Puzzle of the Man with No Face by Dorothy L. Sayers
The Railway Carriage by F. Tennyson Jesse
Mystery of the Slip-Coach by Sapper
The Level Crossing by Freeman Wills Crofts
The Adventure of the First-Class Carriage by Ronald Knox
Murder on the 7.16 by Michael Innes
The Coulman Handicap by Michael Gilbert


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, July 6, 2018

My Heart Belongs in Galveston, Texas by Kathleen Y'Barbo

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My Heart Belongs in Galveston, Texas
by Kathleen Y'Barbo


ISBN-13: 9781683225003
Paperback: 256 pages
Publisher: Barbour Publishing, Inc.
Released: July 1, 2018

Source: Review copy from the publisher.

Book Description, Modified from NetGalley:
Journey now to Galveston, Texas, of 1880...

Pinkerton agent Jonah Cahill is hired by the mysterious widow to find her lost granddaughter, rumored to be living in Galveston, Texas. Though Jonah prefers to travel alone, Mrs. Smith insists that she and her companion accompany him. Madeline Latour, investigative reporter, has been acting as Mrs. Smith’s assistant for several months, and Madeline will not allow anyone—even a Pinkerton agent—to ruin the story of a lifetime. The pair forges an uneasy truce as the investigation grows dangerous. Is there a bigger story beyond a missing girl to be revealed?


My Review:
My Heart Belongs in Galveston, Texas is Christian romance and mystery set in 1880, mainly in Texas. Mrs. Smith hires a Pinkerton detective to find her missing granddaughter and insists that he work with her assistant, who happens to be an investigative reporter that he once nearly married. They have to forgive old hurts as they spend time together while investigating.

The answer to the mystery came as no surprise as I suspected that ending from the very start. However, it was interesting to watch the characters piece the story together. The main characters were interesting and likable, though Jonah did have a tendency to accuse first and think through the facts later. The historical and setting details created a backdrop to the story.

The main characters were Christians and this guided how they interacted with people--mainly, being willing to forgive and ask forgiveness. There was no sex or bad language. Overall, I'd recommend this fun 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.


Sunday, July 1, 2018

Gone by Shirlee McCoy

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Gone
by Shirlee McCoy


ISBN-13: 9781335490476
Mass Market Paperback:
304 pages
Publisher: Love Inspired Suspense
Released: July 1, 2018

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description from Goodreads:
FBI agent Sam Sheridan’s mission is to take down a human trafficking ring and save missing teens—until he witnesses a kidnapping. Blowing his cover, Sam rescues Ella McIntire. But she’s not safe yet. While searching for the truth about her cousin’s death, Ella came too close to a dangerous secret. And now only Sam can protect her from the men determined to silence her.


My Review:
Gone is a Christian romantic suspense novel. It's the second in a series, but it works as a standalone. There was plenty of suspense from the repeated attempts to kill the heroine. Sam is a patient, handsome hero who keeps his cool and knows how to keep Ella safe. I understand why she comes to like him.

However, she's like a deer in the headlights. When something spooked her, she panicked and acted irrationally, often dashing directly toward danger. Which made Sam's job doubly difficult. I suppose most people would act this way in real life, but I'm baffled as to why Sam is attracted to her (except her looks). At least, when not panicked, she was willing to follow directions that would keep her safe.

I was surprised that a competent, special FBI team could not anticipate what happened at the very end as I knew what was going to happen, so it felt forced to me. And not much time was spent developing the characters, so they came across as somewhat one dimensional.

The Christian element was the heroine deciding that God does have a plan even during tragic events. There was no sex or bad language. Overall, this is not my favorite novel by this author, but it was still an enjoyable fluff 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.


Excerpt: Read an excerpt using Google Preview.

Friday, June 29, 2018

What Kitty Did Next by Carrie Kablean

book cover
What Kitty Did Next
by Carrie Kablean


ISBN-13: 9781910453612
Paperback: 416 pages
Publisher: RedDoor Publishing
Released: June 28, 2018

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from Goodreads:
England, 1813. Nineteen-year-old Catherine Bennet lives in the shadow of her two eldest sisters, Elizabeth and Jane, who have both made excellent marriages. No one expects Kitty to amount to anything. Left at home in rural Hertfordshire with her neurotic and nagging mother, and a father who derides her as "silly and ignorant," Kitty is lonely, diffident and at a loss as to how to improve her situation.

When her world unexpectedly expands to London and the Darcy’s magnificent country estate in Derbyshire, she is overjoyed. Keen to impress this new society, and to change her family’s prejudice, Kitty does everything she can to improve her mind and manners—and for the first time feels liked and respected. However, one fateful night at Pemberley, a series of events and misunderstandings result in Kitty being sent home in shame...

Based on Jane Austen's much-loved characters, this is the story of one woman's struggle to overcome the obstacles of her time and place and truly find herself.


My Review:
What Kitty Did Next is a Regency romance set in 1813 in England. It starts about a year after Pride and Prejudice and is told from Kitty's viewpoint. Kitty knows that her family thinks very poorly of her, but she's not sure how to improve things. Jane takes pity on Kitty and invites her to London to see the sights and learn to mix in society. Then she's invited to Pemberley! Just when Kitty feels like she's proved herself to her family and that new friends have recognized her worth (including some potential suitors), things start to crumble as old prejudices combine with a misunderstanding, forcing Kitty to return home.

The author did an excellent job of capturing the personalities and tone of Jane Austen's novel. The characters' acted in ways that were consistent with their behavior in Pride and Prejudice, and the style of writing was similar to Austen's. The author did add more historical detail--things which help bring the setting and time period alive to the modern reader. This is the best Pride and Prejudice sequel that I've read.

It's an excellent novel on it's own, too. I enjoyed how Kitty grappled with how her family treated her and questions about her future. I liked how she grew as a person. While the romantic interest didn't have a lot of scenes with Kitty (as they weren't constantly together), they did have plenty of "off-screen" time to get to know each other better. He built up her confidence, and they shared interests. And the author has done her research. I enjoyed the little historical details that were woven into the action.

There was no sex or bad language. Overall, I'd highly recommend this story and I look forward to the author's future novels.


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.


Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Gifts of Our Lady of Guadalupe by Demi

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Gifts of Our Lady of Guadalupe:
Patroness of Latin America
by Demi


ISBN-13:
Hardback: 40 pages
Publisher: Wisdom Tales
Released: June 7, 2018

Source: Review copy from the publisher.

Book Description, Modified from Goodreads:
Just before dawn on Saturday the 9th of December, 1531, Juan Diego was on his way to Mass near Mexico City. He came to a hill known as Tepeyac just as day broke. He could hear the singing of many beautiful birds, but then the singing suddenly stopped. As he looked towards the top of the hill he heard someone calling his name. He was amazed to see a beautiful lady. Her clothes glimmered like the sun and her brilliance made the rocks and plants sparkle like jewels. Juan Diego bowed deeply before her, as she told him that she was Holy Mary, the Mother of God. Then she instructed him to go to the bishop in Mexico City and ask him to build a great church so that people would come to know her love, compassion, and protection. But the bishop wished for a sign.

In this retelling of the story by award-winning author, Demi, find out how the miracles performed by the Virgin of Guadalupe persuaded the bishop to build the church; how they caused ten million Aztecs to convert to Catholicism within just eight years; and why the basilica dedicated to the Virgin of Guadalupe today receives 20 million pilgrims per year, making it the most popular Christian pilgrimage site in the world.


My Review:
Gifts of Our Lady of Guadalupe is a 32-page illustrated hardback book for children. The author tells the legend of how the miracles performed by the Virgin of Guadalupe persuaded a bishop to build a basilica dedicated to her plus convince millions of Aztecs to convert to Catholicism.

I am not a Catholic, but I believe that Catholics venerate Mary but do not worship her. Therefore, Catholics may have a problem with the book where it says, "...for imprinted in dazzling colors on Juan Diego's white cloak was a full-sized image of Mary, the Holy Mother of God! The bishop and all the priests fell to their knees in worship." And the accompanying illustration makes it look like they are worshiping the image of Mary. The illustrations are simple and look like different materials were cut into the shape of the bodies for the clothing and then the faces and details drawn in. Overall, it's a nice looking 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.


Sunday, June 24, 2018

Bought the Farm by Peg Cochran

book cover
Bought the Farm
by Peg Cochran


ISBN-13: 9780425282045
Mass Market Paperback:
304 pages
Publisher: Berkley Prime Crime
Released: June 5, 2018

Source: Review copy from the publisher.

Book Description, Modified from Goodreads:
Wedding preparations are in full swing at Love Blossom Farm as food-and-lifestyle blogger Shelby McDonald transforms the property for her friend Kelly's down-home country-style reception. But when the lead singer of the wedding band turns up dead--drowned in a trough full of rainwater and strung up like a scarecrow--the police round themselves up a barnful of suspects.

It seems that Travis sowed the seeds of discord wherever he went, and when it becomes clear that everyone from the groom to Shelby's own staff has motive, tracking down Travis' killer is going to be more difficult than finding a needle in a haystack.


My Review:
Bought the Farm is a cozy mystery. It's the third book in the series. You can understand this book without reading the previous one, and this novel didn't spoil the mystery in the previous book.

The story was more filler than detection. We're told every single detail about the wedding decor. We're told every single movement that people made, like this was a step-by-step guide. For example, we're told every step Shelby made to hand-wash dishes when the point was that she thought about some things while she washed dishes. This made for very slow pacing.

The heroine asked questions to determine who had a motive but didn't seem to know how to narrow things down once she realized everyone had a motive. She was slow in connecting any clues and wasn't sure what to do once she finally figured out whodunit. Happily, her boyfriend told her to tell the police. Of course, then she spots the murderer and obligingly runs away from whodunit into a secluded spot then falls into a pool to create an exciting ending. Unfortunately, I lost all respect for her instead.

The "Dear Reader" short asides directed at the actual reader broke the flow of the story and pulled me out of any immersion that I had in the story. There were also numerous grammar errors that created sentences that were quite funny as written and required a pause to determine what was really meant. So the mystery wasn't very puzzling and the writing didn't hold my attention. There was no sex. There was no 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.