Sunday, November 18, 2018

The Bloomsbury Affair by Anita Davison

book cover
The Bloomsbury Affair
by Anita Davison


ISBN-13: 9781786690852
ebook
Publisher: Aria
Released: Nov. 20, 2018

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from Goodreads:
1905 London. Flora Maguire wants to keep her family safe. So when her beloved charge Viscount Edward Trent is accused of murder, she's determined not to leave the investigation to the police. A man was killed on the train in the seat next to Edward, and he was found leaning over the body. When Edward runs away from the police, they're certain of his guilt. As they investigate, Flora and her husband Bunny become mired in a murky world of communists and fraudsters.


My Review:
The Bloomsbury Affair is a mystery set in 1905 in London. It's the fifth book in a series, but you don't need to read the previous books to follow this one. However, the characters referred to events in the previous novels and spoiled the previous mysteries.

The characters were interesting and acted realistically. Historical details (like politics, technology, etc.) were woven into the story. The mystery was clue-based, and I realized whodunit before Flora did. Unfortunately, Flora's active investigation of the murder didn't significantly change the ending except by putting several people's lives in danger. The Detective uncovered one of the criminal pair by himself, and I suspect he would have discovered the other if Flora hadn't hidden critical evidence from him. I felt like Flora actually stood in the way of justice this time. And the murderer was not captured by the end. Basically, I found the mystery unsatisfying.

There were no sex scenes. There were only a couple uses 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, November 16, 2018

A Holiday by Gaslight by Mimi Matthews

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A Holiday
by Gaslight by Mimi Matthews


ISBN-13: 9780999036464
ebook: 175 pages
Publisher: Perfectly Proper Press
Released: Nov. 13, 2018

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from Goodreads:
Sophie Appersett is quite willing to marry outside of her class to ensure the survival of her family. But the darkly handsome Mr. Edward Sharpe is no run-of-the-mill London merchant. He’s grim and silent. A man of little emotion—or perhaps no emotion at all. After two months of courtship, she’s ready to put an end to things.

But severing ties with her taciturn beau isn’t as straightforward as Sophie envisioned. Her parents are outraged. And then there’s Charles Darwin, Prince Albert, and that dratted gaslight. What’s a girl to do except invite Mr. Sharpe to Appersett House for Christmas and give him one last chance to win her? Only this time there’ll be no false formality. This time they’ll get to know each other for who they really are.


My Review:
A Holiday by Gaslight is a romance set in 1861 England. Sophie is a practical, dutiful daughter of a baronet. When a rich merchant asks to court her despite her lack of dowry (it was spent on adding gaslights to the family manor), her parents urge the match in hopes of more funds. However, the hero has been reading an etiquette manual with rather vague advice, so he says little during the courtship in hopes of avoiding offense.

Most of the story happened at a Christmas party held at the manor. The hero has been given a second chance as long as he agrees to share about himself. They get to know each other and admire each other's character, but the differences in their class does make for a few misunderstandings. Historical details about manners, the latest technology, Christmas customs, and such were woven into the story and brought it to life. The characters were likable and were a good match in temperament and interests.

There was no sex. There was occasional use of 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.


Wednesday, November 14, 2018

The Opium Purge by Elizabeth Bailey

book cover
The Opium Purge
by Elizabeth Bailey


ISBN-13: 9781912546480
ebook: 383 pages
Publisher: Sapere Books
Released: Nov. 1, 2018

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from Goodreads:
1790, England. Lord Francis and Lady Ottilia Fanshawe are preparing for the birth of their first child. But Lady Fan won’t let a little thing like pregnancy get in the way of solving a local mystery. Their neighbour – Sir Joslin Cadel – who recently returned from a sugar plantation in Barbados, has collapsed and died on his doorstep. And his young ward, Tamasine Roy, claims to have murdered him.

With Tamasine clearly suffering from some kind of mental disorder, and the rest of Cadel’s household acting suspiciously, it is clear all is not as it seems. Why did Sir Joslin suddenly return to England? What happened to Tamasine’s parents? Could this seemingly angelic young woman really be a murderess…?


My Review:
The Opium Purge is a mystery set in 1790 in London. This novel is the 3rd in the series, but you don't need to read the previous novels to understand this one. This story didn't spoil the whodunit of the previous books, but it did refer back to events in the first story.

The story revolved around a stunningly beautiful, young woman who inherited madness from her mother. Her guardian, Sir Joslin, dies after being pushed down some steps by the girl. She freely admits to trying to kill her guardian in revenge for something that happened several years before, but she won't explain what. Due to her medical training, Lady Fan knows that Sir Joslin didn't die from the push. He died from an opium overdose. She investigates what led up to that day and who in the household might wish to kill Sir Joslin. Complicating matters, her husband's nephew falls in love with the girl and refuses to acknowledge her mental deficiency.

Lady Fan is sympathetic towards the girl and her situation. She asked the household plenty of questions along with using her observational skills. The mystery was a clue-based, puzzle mystery. The characters were interesting, and I cared about what happened to them. The author used historical details to create the feeling of a specific time and place. There were only a few uses of bad language. There were no sex scenes. 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.


Sunday, November 11, 2018

Wait for Me by Susan May Warren

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Wait for Me
by Susan May Warren


ISBN-13: 9780800727482
Paperback: 336 pages
Publisher: Revell
Released: Nov. 6, 2018

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from Goodreads:
Pete Brooks can't believe he's waited an entire year for Jess Tagg to return to Montana, only to have her break his heart by getting engaged to her ex-fiancé. Worse, Pete nearly lost his life again while on a rescue and other lives were lost. Pete isn't sure he wants to continue to work in Search and Rescue. Maybe if he can just get over Jess, he can figure out how to move forward.

EMT Jess Tagg has returned to Montana to finally give her heart to Pete, but it seems he's no longer interested. Leaving after a terrible fight, she finds herself crashed on the side of a highway along with Esme Shaw and both are taken captive into the untamed Montana wilderness—with murderous intent. Now Pete and the other PEAK Rescue Team members are in a race against time, the elements, and the actions of a vengeful man.


My Review:
Wait for Me is a Christian romantic suspense novel. It's the sixth book in a series. I'd recommend reading the previous books in the series as there are ongoing story lines that were further developed and wrapped up in this book. There were two romances.

Ned and Shae meet again at a wedding reception. Shae has decided to testify against the man who killed her first boyfriend even though this may put her life in danger. Ned is determined to prove that he's "good enough" and not a coward. He gets his chance when Ned, Shae, and Jess are kidnapped, escape into a wilderness, and must survive while injured. The suspense came from the danger from the kidnapper who's hunting them and the danger from the injuries and weather. The main characters acted realistically to events, and I cared about what happened to them.

Much of Jess and Pete's romance was told as flashbacks, which they each think about while waiting for rescue efforts to move forward. Jess has tried not to hurt anyone and has instead hurt everyone. Neither feels like they deserve a happy ending but still love the person that they are when around the other.

The Christian theme was that God loves you even if you don't deserve it. 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, November 9, 2018

In Too Deep by Lynn H. Blackburn

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In Too Deep
by Lynn H. Blackburn


ISBN-13: 9780800729295
Paperback: 352 pages
Publisher: Revell
Released: Nov. 6, 2018

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from Goodreads:
When the dive team is called in to recover a body from a submerged car, they aren't prepared to find an encrypted laptop--or an unsettling connection between investigator Adam Campbell and the dead accountant. Adam turns to his friend Dr. Sabrina Fleming--a professor at the local university with unparalleled computer security and forensics skills--to recover the files from the laptop. But the deeper they dig, the deadlier the investigation becomes.

When evidence uncovers a human trafficking ring and implicates members of Adam's own extended family, he and Sabrina will have to risk everything to solve the case. Someone is willing to do whatever it takes to silence anyone who threatens to reveal their secrets.


My Review:
In Too Deep is a Christian romantic suspense novel. The dive team searched for evidence and retrieved a sunken car, but the hero didn't dive at all. The rest of the investigation occurred above water, mostly in a computer lab doing things like retrieving evidence from a waterlogged laptop. The suspense came from repeated attacks on the team investigating the murder, and most of the attacks were focused on the heroine. They're not certain why she's the main target, which created further mystery.

The dive team main characters reacted realistically to events, and I cared about what happened to them. Adam has loved Sabrina for years, but she doesn't feel like she would be accepted by his rich family. The danger to her life prompted him to act on his feelings, and they have to deal with the secrets in her family background and how his family will react to her.

They both believe in God and that motivates them to protect those who can't protect themselves. They are willing to risk their family reputations in order to free people being illegally forced to work for low or no wages. There was no sex or bad language. Overall, I would 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.


Excerpt: Read an excerpt using Google Preview.

Sunday, November 4, 2018

My Heart Belongs in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania by Murray Pura

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My Heart Belongs in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania
by Murray Pura


ISBN-13: 9781683227403
Paperback: 256 pages
Publisher: Barbour Books
Released: November 1, 2018

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from Goodreads:
Journey into Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, of 1863. By day, Clarissa Avery Ross is the daughter of a respectable shoemaker being courted by seminary student Kyle Forrester. But by night she is a conductor on the Underground Railroad, working with a mysterious man called Liberty. She would like to share her work with Kyle, but he refuses to enlist when the war breaks out. How can she remain true to a man she feels is a coward? When the war comes to her back door in an epic battle, the greatest challenges are yet to come.


My Review:
My...Gettysburg, Pennsylvania is a romance set in 1860 to 1863 in Gettysburg. In the first half of the book, the scenes where Clarissa led escaped slaves along the Underground Railroad were exciting. But it seemed like most of the scenes were of her 'normal' life, like her romantic walks with Kyle. When war broke out, we got a lot of "I hate you" and "I love you" scenes and love letters while her fiance's at war. Excitement returned when the war came to Gettysburg (and they still managed to spend time kissing intensely).

My main problem was with the hussy...er, heroine. She was extremely forward about embracing and passionately kissing a man, even before he was officially courting her. They also had premarital sex (implied rather than described). She justified this to herself--that God would bless this--because they love each other. She even called herself by his last name and called him her husband before the actual wedding.

I was continually annoyed by her spoiled attitude. She was hateful to people who hurt her pride--for example, Liberty scared her when trying to save her life and even apologized for it, but she basically cursed him to hell for doing so. She was impulsive plus often jumped to wrong conclusions. She's a red head, so she feels that passion, a quick temper, and tantrums are alright. One minute she hates a man and the next she's attracted to him. Even with her beauty and kisses, I can't understand why any man was attracted to her. But they all were.

There were no graphic sex scenes or bad language. Overall, I enjoy actual diaries from this time more than this story, but people who enjoy impulsive, passionate heroines may enjoy it.


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, November 2, 2018

Uneasy Lies the Crown by Tasha Alexander

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Uneasy Lies the Crown
by Tasha Alexander


ISBN-13: 9781250164704
Hardcover: 304 pages
Publisher: Minotaur Books
Released: Oct. 30, 2018

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from Goodreads:
On her deathbed, Queen Victoria asks to speak privately with trusted agent of the Crown, Colin Hargreaves, and slips him a letter with one last command: Une sanz pluis. Sapere aude. “One and no more. Dare to know.”

The year is 1901 and the death of Britain’s longest-reigning monarch has sent the entire British Empire into mourning. But for Lady Emily and her dashing husband, Colin, the grieving is cut short as another death takes center stage. A body has been found in the Tower of London, posed to look like the murdered medieval king Henry VI. When a second dead man turns up in London's exclusive Berkeley Square, his mutilated remains staged to evoke the violent demise of Edward II, it becomes evident that the mastermind behind the crimes plans to strike again.

The race to find the killer takes Emily deep into the capital’s underbelly, teeming with secret gangs, street children, and sleazy brothels—but the clues aren’t adding up. Even more puzzling are the anonymous letters Colin has been receiving since Victoria's death, seeming to threaten her successor, Edward VII. With the killer leaving a trail of dead kings in his wake, will Edward be the next victim?


My Review:
Uneasy Lies the Crown is a historical mystery set in England. There were two story lines, one set in 1415 (and some years after that) and the main mystery set in 1901, right after Queen Victoria's death. This is the 13th book in a series, but you don't need to read the previous books to understand this one. This book did not spoil any previous mysteries in the series.

Lady Emily's husband is busy ensuring the safety of the new King after a murdered man is found dressed up like a past, murdered king. She's not so sure that the threat is against the new king despite the "murdered king" theme, so she asked people questions to find the link between the murder victims. She tried to prevent any future murders even though the victims weren't nice men. At the end, she jumped to some conclusions with little proof because she trusts her intuition. (Granted, I suspected these people, too, but I prefer firm proof before a character starts making accusations like they're a fact.)

There were no graphic sex scenes. There were a couple uses of bad language. Overall, I'd recommend this interesting and 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.


Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Lady of a Thousand Treasures by Sandra Byrd

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Lady of a Thousand Treasures
by Sandra Byrd


ISBN-13: 9781496426833
Paperback: 480 pages
Publisher: Tyndale House
Released: Oct. 9, 2018

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description from Goodreads:
Miss Eleanor Sheffield is a talented evaluator of antiquities, trained to know the difference between a genuine artifact and a fraud. But with her father’s passing and her uncle’s decline into dementia, the family business is at risk. In the Victorian era, unmarried Eleanor cannot run Sheffield Brothers alone.

The death of a longtime client, Baron Lydney, offers an unexpected complication when Eleanor is appointed the temporary trustee of the baron’s legendary collection. She must choose whether to donate the priceless treasures to a museum or allow them to pass to the baron’s only living son, Harry—the man who broke Eleanor’s heart.

Eleanor distrusts the baron’s motives and her own ability to be unbiased regarding Harry’s future. Harry claims to still love her and Eleanor yearns to believe him, but his mysterious comments and actions fuel her doubts. When she learns an Italian beauty accompanied him on his return to England, her lingering hope for a future with Harry dims.

With the threat of debtor’s prison closing in, Eleanor knows that donating the baron’s collection would win her favor among potential clients, saving Sheffield Brothers. But the more time she spends with Harry, the more her faith in him grows. Might Harry be worthy of his inheritance, and her heart, after all? As pressures mount and time runs out, Eleanor must decide whom she can trust—who in her life is false or true, brass or gold—and what is meant to be treasured.


My Review:
Lady of a Thousand Treasures is a Christian historical romance set in 1866 in England. Eleanor is a skilled, kind, and well-meaning woman. Harry is honorable but made mistakes because he was desperate to find approval with his father. His father continued to punish them from beyond the grave by asking Eleanor to decide if Harry is trustworthy while providing her with inaccurate information. Eleanor is determined to find the truth, but in the process she may destroy her relationship with Harry through her doubts about him.

The story was suspenseful as Eleanor went from one trouble to the next, but most of these were brought on by illogical behavior. For example, she had full right to go into a locked room. Instead of going with everyone's full knowledge, though, she sneaked away at night (without a light) and broke into the room only to nearly be trapped where no one would know to look. She also did things like carry valuable items into dangerous areas. The suspense often seemed forced to me.

Other people also acted illogically to create suspense. When a treasure went missing, Eleanor was blamed because she was inventorying items at the time. Yet she was never entrusted with that treasure's safekeeping and didn't even know it existed until is was gone. No one questioned the people who actually did control treasure, they just blamed her and made finding it her responsibility. Another example is that the help at the antique shop was so obviously untrustworthy yet Eleanor fell for his manipulations until she had to face the consequences of his actions--for which, yet again, people were holding her responsible.

The book read like the author put a lot of historical research into it, but I found errors throughout it. Many of the details about prison and a woman's ability to take over financial control of her uncle's assets (signing for his debt, signing contracts, withdrawing his money, selling his things, etc.) without his knowledge don't match what I've read about that time period. If you don't care about perfect historical accuracy, the story should be enjoyable enough, but I felt frustrated by it.

The theme was not being afraid of being tested and found true. There was no sex or bad language. Overall, I'd recommend this enjoyable story even if it frustrated me at times.


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


Excerpt: Read an excerpt using Google Preview.

Sunday, October 28, 2018

Catching Christmas by Terri Blackstock

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Catching Christmas
by Terri Blackstock


ISBN-13: 9780310351726
Hardcover: 304 pages
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Released: Oct. 9, 2018

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from Goodreads:
As a first-year law associate, Sydney Batson knows she will be updating her resume by New Year’s if she loses her current court case. So when her grandmother gets inexplicably ill while she’s in court, Sydney arranges for a cab to get her to the clinic.

The last thing cab driver Finn Parrish wants is to be saddled with a wheelchair-bound old lady with dementia. But because Miss Callie reminds him of his own mother, whom he failed miserably in her last days, he can’t say no when she keeps calling him for rides. Once a successful gourmet chef, Finn’s biggest concern now is making his rent, but half the time Callie doesn’t remember to pay him. She leads him on wild goose chases to find a Christmas date for her granddaughter.

He’s reluctantly willing to help fulfill Callie’s Christmas wish. He just never expected to be a vital part of it.


My Review:
Catching Christmas is a rather depressing Christian general fiction novel. The whole story is full of sadness, guilt, and frustration. The story was written in first person, present tense and switched between Sydney and Finn. They initially had separate story lines. They didn't even meet until 36% of the way in to the story, when they briefly met and fought because Finn put a major guilt trip on Sydney. They don't meet again until halfway in, and they're still fighting. At 77%, after a sad, frustrating Christmas day (though with some happy moments), they're suddenly kissing each other. I've never felt inclined to kiss someone who makes me feel bad, so I just don't get it except that maybe she wanted someone to hold onto in her sadness.

So it's basically about: Callie, an old woman who publicly embarrasses people by pointing out their shortcomings and who is dying. Her granddaughter, Sydney, who is being used by her law firm to take the fall on a case that cannot be won. She went around feeling frustrated, angry, and guilty about the case preventing her from taking care of her grandmother. And Finn, who feels guilty that he let his own mother down when she was dying. He helped Callie due to guilt but resented every moment of it and felt like God--if there is a God--was punishing him. Though, by the end, he's thanking God for giving him a second chance.

The story's theme was about having correct priorities and spending time with the people we love while we still have the chance. Both Sydney and Finn were inspired by Callie's faith in God in the face of imminent death. There is 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, October 26, 2018

The Guggenheim Mystery by Robin Stevens

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The Guggenheim Mystery
by Robin Stevens


ISBN-13: 9780525582359
Hardcover: 336 pages
Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young
Released: Oct. 16, 2018

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description from Goodreads:
The adventure that began in Siobhan Dowd's popular and acclaimed novel The London Eye Mystery at long last continues with Ted, Kat, and their cousin Salim investigating a theft at the Guggenheim Museum that's been pinned on Salim's mother!

When Ted and his big sister, Kat, take a trip to New York to visit their cousin Salim and their aunt Gloria, they think they're prepared for big-city adventures. But when a famous painting is stolen from the Guggenheim Museum, where Aunt Gloria works, the surprises begin to mount faster than they could have anticipated. With the police looking at Aunt Gloria as the prime suspect, Ted, Kat, and Salim become sleuthing partners, following a trail of clues across NYC to prove her innocence--and to pinpoint the real thief. Ultimately, it comes down to Ted, whose brain works in its own very unique way, to find the key to the mystery.


My Review:
The Guggenheim Mystery is a children's mystery. The point-of-view hero is a 12-year-old boy, and he worked to solve the mystery along with his older sister and his cousin. He's well informed, very observant, and good at reasoning things out, but he has trouble dealing with new or unusual situations. He doesn't think or act quite like other kids. He had trouble coping with being in New York City when he normally lives in London.

The kids asked questions in a reasonable way and looked at sources that might not have been obvious to everyone. They recorded what they discovered and eliminated suspects as best they could. The answer to whodunit and how was foreshadowed enough that it can be guessed, though it's not obvious.

This book is the second book in a series, but you don't need to read the previous book to understand this one. This book did not spoil the mystery of the previous book. There was no sex or bad language. Overall, I'd highly 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.

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Legacy of Mercy by Lynn Austin

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Legacy of Mercy
by Lynn Austin


ISBN-13: 9780764217630
Paperback: 400 pages
Publisher: Bethany House
Released: Oct. 2, 2018

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from Goodreads:
Having returned to Chicago, young socialite Anna Nicholson can't seem to focus on her upcoming marriage. The new information she's learned about her birth mother continues to pull at her, and she hires Pinkerton detectives to help her find the truth. But as she meets people who once knew her mother and hears stories about the past, Anna soon discovers that some secrets are better left hidden.

Unflattering stories about Anna are leaked by someone who would love to see her disgraced and her engagement broken. And as Anna tries to share her faith with her society friends, she understands that her choice to seek God's purpose for her life isn't as simple as she had hoped.

When things are at their darkest, Anna knows she can turn to her grandmother, Geesje de Jonge, back in Holland, Michigan. Geesje's been helping new Dutch immigrants, including a teen with a haunted past, adjust to America. She only hopes that her wisdom can help all these young people through the turmoil they face.


My Review:
Legacy of Mercy is Christian historical fiction set in 1897 in Chicago and in Holland, Michigan. It's the second book in a series, and it continues the story of Anna and Geesje. While it can be read out of order, you will better understand the story if you read the first book before this one. This book also "spoils" many of the things discovered in the first book.

Anna has grown in her Christian faith. She digs into her past to learn more about her biological parents, but a jealous girl creates a scandal about her potential illegitimacy. Anna needs to marry her rich fiance in order to save her father from financial ruin, but they aren't a well-suited couple due to their different values. The scandal threatens their engagement, and she's conflicted about what to do.

Anna story alternated with Geesje's story. Geesje was asked to take in a young woman from Holland who had moved here with her grandfather after the loss of her family. The young woman is suicidal, and Geesje has to gain her trust and help her grieve her losses. The young woman has turned away from God because she sees him as unforgiving, like a grandfather. Geesje also helps the grandfather, who was a minister, to learn grace and how to show love.

The characters acted realistically, and I cared about what happened to them. Several characters struggled with how to best serve God. The book was written in first person, present tense. There were no sex scenes 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.


Excerpt: Read an excerpt using Google Preview.

Sunday, October 21, 2018

Excellent Intentions by Richard Hull

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Excellent Intentions
by Richard Hull


ISBN-13: 9781464209758
Paperback
Publisher: Poisoned Pen Press
Released: Oct. 2, 2018

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from Goodreads:
Great Barwick's least popular man is murdered on a train. Twelve jurors sit in court. Four suspects are identified - but which of them is on trial? This novel has all the makings of a classic murder mystery, but with a twist: as Attorney-General Anstruther Blayton leads the court through prosecution and defence, Inspector Fenby carries out his investigation. All this occurs while the identity of the figure in the dock is kept tantalisingly out of reach. Excellent Intentions is a classic crime novel laced with irreverent wit, first published in 1938.


My Review:
Excellent Intentions is a mystery set in England and originally published in 1938. The novel started at the opening of a trial and then had flashback descriptions of events as seen by various witnesses and the detective. The reader isn't told who is on trial until the end, but everyone is sure that the accused is guilty.

This is a clue-based puzzle mystery. There were only four main suspects, and I quickly narrowed it down to two based on the same reasoning that the characters followed later in the story. The evidence seemed to point toward one character, so I reasoned out a scenario for that character. But that seemed too obvious, so I came up with a scenario that worked for the other one. We don't learn the final evidence that determines whodunit until after the characters have essentially revealed who the accused is.

There was no sex. There was only a couple uses of bad language. 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.


Friday, October 19, 2018

The Chinese Orange Mystery by Ellery Queen

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The Chinese Orange Mystery
by Ellery Queen


ISBN-13: 9781613161104
Hardcover
Publisher: American Mystery Classics
Released: Oct. 2, 2018

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from Goodreads:
The offices of foreign literature publisher and renowned stamp collector Donald Kirk are often host to strange activities, but the most recent occurrence­—the murder of an unknown caller, found dead in an empty waiting room—is unlike any that has come before. Nobody, it seems, entered or exited the room, and yet the crime scene clearly has been manipulated, leaving everything in the room turned backwards and upside down. Stuck through the back of the corpse’s shirt are two long spears—and a tangerine is missing from the fruit bowl. Enter amateur sleuth Ellery Queen, who arrives just in time to witness the discovery of the body, only to be immediately drawn into a complex case in which no clue is too minor or too glaring to warrant careful consideration.

Reprinted for the first time in over thirty years, The Chinese Orange Mystery is revered to this day for its challenging conceit and inventive solution. The book is a “fair-play” mystery in which readers have all the clues needed to solve the crime.


My Review:
The Chinese Orange Mystery is a mystery set in New York City and was originally published in 1934. The mystery was a clue-based puzzle that can be solved based on the clues. I was able to narrow my suspects down much more quickly than the detective or his clever son, Ellery Queen. Ellery got started down an odd, wrong track at the start. There really wasn't a lot more to go on by the time the author asked the reader to guess whodunit than there was shortly after the murder. Still, it was entertaining to see the results of Ellery following up on every "backward" lead.

I was able to guess whodunit after we're given the vague details of the experiments that Ellery performed AFTER the author suggested that the reader guess at whodunit. However, I could not guess how or why. There was no sex. There was occasional use of bad language. 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.

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Lethal Target by Janice Cantore

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Lethal Target
by Janice Cantore


ISBN-13: 9781496423740
Paperback: 416 pages
Publisher: Tyndale House
Released: Oct. 9, 2018

Source: Review copy from the publisher.

Book Description, Modified from Goodreads:
Police Chief Tess O'Rourke thought she'd taken care of her small town's drug problem last year. But now Rogue's Hollow residents are up in arms over a contentious vote on legalizing the sale of marijuana within city limits. And when an eighteen-year-old is found dead of a possible overdose, Tess wonders if the local pot farms might be involved and begins to fear that a new, deadlier drug supply chain has cropped up.

With her relationship to Sergeant Steve Logan on shaky ground, Tess could really use a friend, and she feels drawn to Pastor Oliver Macpherson's quiet presence. But the anger she holds over her father's death prevents her from embracing his faith and finding peace. Battling storms within and without, Tess is shocked when an enemy from her past shows up in town to stir up more trouble and works to turn the town against her. When she learns that a drug boss has put a price on her head, it feels like everyone has turned against her.


My Review:
Lethal Target is a Christian suspense novel. It's the second book in a series and is a continuation of that story, though you can understand what's going on if you read it as a stand alone. I'd strongly recommend reading them in order, though, especially as the events in the previous novel are "spoiled" in this one.

Poor Tess has to deal with a lot in this novel. She's called to the scene of a teenager's death. It looks like a drug overdose, but some things aren't quite right. The teenager's father is angry at her for even considering that his son might have done drugs and for not instantly solving the crime. Someone from her past who hates her comes along to stir up the town against her, and a drug boss wants everyone dead who was involved in killing a family member (which includes Tess). Tess just wants to solve the crimes and stop the bad guys, but it seems like everyone's making this as difficult as possible.

The characters acted realistically, and I cared about what happened to them. I liked Tess's tenacity, sense of duty, and compassion. Pastor Oliver's willingness to reach out to anyone and show God's love helped several people find emotional and spiritual peace. Tess dealt with her anger with God over letting her father die in the line of duty when she was young. There was no sex or bad language. Overall, I'd recommend this engaging, suspenseful 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.

Sunday, October 14, 2018

In at the Death by Francis Duncan

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In at the Death
by Francis Duncan


ISBN-13: 9781492673408
Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark
Released: Oct. 2, 2018

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from Goodreads:
Mordecai Tremaine and Chief Inspector Jonathan Boyce travel to Bridgton to investigate the murder of the local doctor. No sooner have they arrived than it becomes clear that the city harbors more than its fair share of passions and motives...and one question echoes loudly throughout the cobbled streets: why did Dr. Hardene, the local GP of impeccable reputation, bring a revolver with him on a routine visit to a patient?


My Review:
In at the Death is a mystery set in England that was originally published in 1952. It is the fourth book in a series, but you don't need to read the previous books to understand this one. The amateur sleuth of the series, Mordecai Tremaine, has permission to follow Chief Inspector Jonathan Boyce around as he investigates.

The mystery was a clue-based puzzle. Whodunit can be correctly guessed before the big reveal, though the author tried to create uncertainty about who Mordecai's main suspect was near the end. Both the detective and Mordecai asked good questions and observed important clues. Since Mordecai wasn't official, he was able to see things that the detective didn't. He passed on useful information and solved the mystery.

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


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


Excerpt: Read an excerpt using Google Preview.

Friday, October 12, 2018

Burden of Proof by DiAnn Mills

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Burden of Proof
by DiAnn Mills


ISBN-13: 9781496427045
Paperback: 416 pages
Publisher: Tyndale
Released: Oct. 9, 2018

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from Goodreads:
Reeling from a negotiation gone wrong, FBI Special Agent April Ramos is caught off guard when a frazzled young woman shoves a crying baby into her arms, then disappears. Worry for the child’s safety quickly turns to fear when a man claiming to be the girl’s father abducts them at gunpoint. April puts her hostage negotiation skills to use to learn more about who she’s dealing with: Jason Snyder, a fugitive accused of murder.

As Jason spins a tall tale about being framed for the killing of his business partner, April must sort through his claims to find the truth. A truth that becomes all the more evident after April overhears a conversation between Jason and the local sheriff and realizes something more sinister may be happening in their small town of Sweet Briar, Texas. But aligning herself with a known fugitive to uncover the burden of proof could cost April her job . . . or worse, her life and the lives of other innocent people.


My Review:
Burden of Proof is a Christian romantic suspense novel. The hero helped the corrupt, local sheriff's wife and child escape his abuse, and the sheriff will do anything to get them back. The sheriff sets the hero up as the main suspect in a murder.

The hero has a temper and made some bad decisions. He insisted on doing things his own way and sometimes even kept important evidence to himself. The heroine tries to win his trust and to keep him from (legally speaking) messing up the evidence that has proven so difficult to gather. She has her hands full.

The suspense was created by the repeated attacks on the main characters. The main characters were likable, but I often felt exasperated with the hero since his actions often needlessly put the heroine (and himself) in danger. By the end, he realized that his desire to be in control (even the illusion of control) hadn't helped matters.

The characters occasionally prayed for help. There was no sex or bad language. 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.


Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Hidden Peril by Irene Hannon

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Hidden Peril
by Irene Hannon


ISBN-13: 9780800727697
Paperback: 416 pages
Publisher: Revell
Released: Oct. 2, 2018

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description from Goodreads:
As teenagers, Kristin Dane and her two best friends took a vow to make the world a better place. Twenty years later, she's fulfilling that pledge through her fair trade shop that features products from around the world. All is well until, one by one, people connected to the shop begin dying.

Detective Luke Carter, new to the St. Louis PD, wants to know why. Before he can answer that question, however, the FBI weighs in and Kristin suddenly finds herself in the middle of international intrigue--and in the sights of the ruthless mastermind behind an ingenious and deadly, scheme. Can this cold-blooded killer be stopped before more people die . . . including Kristin?


My Review:
Hidden Peril is a Christian romantic suspense novel. It's the second book in a new series, but it's also a stand-alone novel.

The main characters were likable and acted in realistic ways. Kristin was admirable because she spent her life trying to help others and was willing to face danger to stop the bad people. I can understand why Luke was attracted to her, but first he had to overcome his feeling that he was betraying his dead wife. The suspense came from the danger to anyone involved with the smuggling scheme, whether they were aware of it or not. Multiple people were killed simply because they messed up or were no longer useful.

We mainly saw the character's Christian faith through how they treated people and what they cared about. There were no sex scenes or 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, October 7, 2018

The Big Book of Female Detectives by Otto Penzler, Editor

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The Big Book of Female Detectives
by Otto Penzler, Editor


ISBN-13: 9780525434740
Paperback: 1136 pages
Publisher: Vintage Crime/Black Lizard
Released: Oct. 9, 2018

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from Goodreads:
Edgar Award-winning editor Otto Penzler's new anthology brings together the most cunning, resourceful, and brilliant female sleuths in mystery fiction. A Vintage Crime/Black Lizard Original.

For the first time ever, Otto Penzler gathers the most iconic women of the detective canon over the past 150 years, captivating and surprising readers in equal measure. The 74 handpicked stories in this collection introduce us to the most determined of gumshoe gals, from debutant detectives like Anna Katharine Green's Violet Strange to spinster sleuths like Mary Roberts Rinehart's Hilda Adams, from groundbreaking female cops like Baroness Orczy's Lady Molly to contemporary crime-fighting P.I.s like Sue Grafton's Kinsey Millhone, and include indelible tales from Agatha Christie, Carolyn Wells, Edgar Wallace, L. T. Meade and Robert Eustace, Sara Paretsky, Nevada Barr, Linda Barnes, Laura Lippman, and many more.


My Review:
The Big Book of Female Detectives is a collection of 74 short mystery stories featuring a female detective. These stories were grouped by when they were written and featured stories from the first fictional female detectives in the mid-1800s up to the modern day. Some of the stories were very short while a few seemed novella length, but most could be read in an hour or two.

Some were essentially the detective telling how she solved the crime. Many told events as they happened and provided clues for the reader to puzzle out. Many of the women were competent, clever private or amateur detectives. A few were criminals intrigued by solving the puzzle or were even the one committing the crime. A whole group of stories had the woman as basically the beautiful sidekick to the real detective. This collection was interesting to read and contained many fun stories. There was no sex. There was a fair amount of bad language, mostly found in the more modern stories.

The Victorians And Edwardians
THE MYSTERIOUS COUNTESS by Anonymous
THE UNRAVELED MYSTERY by Andrew Forrester, Jr.
THE REDHILL SISTERHOOD by C. L. Pirkis
THE DIAMOND LIZARD by George R. Sims
THE STIR OUTSIDE THE CAFÉ ROYAL by Clarence Rook
THE MANDARIN by Fergus Hume
THE OUTSIDE LEDGE: A CABLEGRAM MYSTERY by L. T. Meade and Robert Eustace
THE FREWIN MINIATURES by Emmuska Orczy
CONSCIENCE by Richard Marsh
THE HIDDEN VIOLINby M. McDonell Bodkin


Before World War I
CHRISTABEL’S CRYSTAL by Carolyn Wells
THE BULLET FROM NOWHERE by Hugh C. Weir
AN INTANGIBLE CLEW by Anna Katharine Green
PLANTED by James Oppenheim


The Pulp Era
THE WIZARD’S SAFE by Valentine
THE MADAME GOES DRAMATIC by Perry Paul
RED HOT by Frederick Nebel
THE DOMINO LADY COLLECTS by Lars Anderson
THE LETTERS AND THE LAW by T. T. Flynn
THE OLD MAIDS DIE by Whitman Chambers
TOO MANY CLIENTS by D. B. McCandless
RAT RUNAROUND by Roger Torrey
MURDER WITH MUSIC AND COKE FOR CO-EDS by Adolphe Barreaux
CHILLER-DILLER by Richard Sale


The Golden Age
THE SECRET ADVERSARY by Agatha Christie
DIAMOND CUT DIAMOND by Frederic Arnold Kummer
LOCKED DOORS by Mary Roberts Rinehart
THE TEA-LEAF by Edgar Jepson and Robert Eustace
THE ALMOST PERFECT MURDER by Hulbert Footner
THE LOVER OF ST. LYS by F. Tennyson Jesse
MISOGYNY AT MOUGINS by Gilbert Frankau
INTRODUCING SUSAN DARE by Mignon G. Eberhart
THE BLOODY CRESCENDO by Vincent Starrett
THE WOMAN FROM THE EAST by Edgar Wallace
BURGLARS MUST DINE E. by Phillips Oppenheim
THE MISSING CHARACTER by Phyllis Bentley
MURDER IN THE MOVIES by Karl Detzer
THE GILDED PUPIL by Ethel Lina White
THE CASE OF THE HUNDRED CATS by Gladys Mitchell


Mid-Century
MURDER WITH FLOWERS by Q. Patrick
VACANCY WITH CORPSE by H. H. Holmes
THE RIDDLE OF THE BLACK MUSEUM by Stuart Palmer
MEREDITH’S MURDER by Charlotte Armstrong
FLOWERS FOR AN ANGEL by Nigel Morland
THERE’S DEATH FOR REMEMBRANCE by Frances and Richard Lockridge
MOM SINGS AN ARIA by James Yaffe


The Modern Era
ALL THE LONELY PEOPLE by Marcia Muller
BLOOD TYPES by Julie Smith
A POISON THAT LEAVES NO TRACE by Sue Grafton
DISCARDS by Faye Kellerman
SPOOKED by Carolyn Hart
MAKING LEMONADE by Barbara Paul
LOUISE by Max Allan Collins
STRUNG OUT by Sara Paretsky
BENEATH THE LILACS by Nevada Barr
MISS GIBSON by Linda Barnes
HEADACHES AND BAD DREAMS by Lawrence Block
AN AFFAIR OF INCONVENIENCE by Anne Perry
BEAUBIEN by Deborah Morgan
DOUBLE-CROSSING DELANCEY by S. J. Rozan
THE SHOESHINE MAN’S REGRETS by Laura Lippman
DUST UP by Wendy Hornsby
THE CASE OF THE PARR CHILDREN by Antonia Fraser
FAST by Jeffery Deaver


Bad Girls
THE WINGED ASSASSIN by L. T. Meade & Robert Eustace
THE BLOOD-RED CROSS by L. T. Meade & Robert Eustace
HE ADVENTURE OF THE CARNEGIE LIBRARY by John Kendrick Bangs
SHE KNEW WHAT TO DO by Joseph Shearing
THE FORGERS by Arthur B. Reeve
THE MEANEST MAN IN EUROPE by David Durham
FOUR SQUARE JANE UNMASKED by Edgar Wallace
THE ADVENTURE OF THE HEADLESS STATUE by Eugene Thomas
THE PASSING OF ANNE MARSH by Arthur Leo Zagat
EXTENUATING CIRCUMSTANCES by Joyce Carol Oates



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, October 5, 2018

Undercover Memories by Lenora Worth

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Undercover Memories
by Lenora Worth


ISBN-13: 9781335490650
Mass Market Paperback: 224 pages
Publisher: Love Inspired Suspense
Released: Oct. 2, 2018

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from Goodreads:
Her most important mission...and she can't remember what it is. After amnesia strands private investigator Emma Langston in Dallas, only Detective Ryder Palladin can stop the men trying to kill her. But protective custody on Ryder's family ranch has its own risks, like falling for the handsome cowboy. Before she can untangle her feelings for Ryder, Emma must recover her memory...because she's sure someone's life depends on it, even if she can't remember whose.


My Review:
Undercover Memories is a Christian romantic suspense novel. The detective rescues and protects Emma, a private investigator, from repeated attacks. She initially can't remember why she was asking questions at the bar where she was beaten, but she feels an urgency to go back there again. She recovers her memory pretty quickly, only to realize that she's trying to find a kidnapped teenager and time may be running out. She has little to go on and feels desperate, which makes her reckless.

The detective just wants her to cooperate with him as he helps her, but they're constantly frustrated with each other. They're also physically attracted, despite personality conflicts and past relationship hangups. The race to find clues and save the teenager kept my interest, but the romance just didn't work for me. They can barely work together as a team. After knowing each other for only a few days, the story ended with a scene that basically goes: you want to try dating despite everything? Yup. What about let's get married? Yes!

There was no sex or bad language. The Christian element was Emma's trust that God had a purpose to everything.


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, October 2, 2018

The Christmas Heirloom by Karen Witemeyer; Kristi Ann Hunter; Sarah Loudin Thomas; Becky Wade

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The Christmas Heirloom by Karen Witemeyer;
Kristi Ann Hunter;
Sarah Loudin Thomas;
Becky Wade


ISBN-13: 9780764230783
Paperback: 384 pages
Publisher: Bethany House
Released: Oct. 2, 2018

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from Goodreads:
In Kristi Ann Hunter's "Legacy of Love," Sarah Gooding never suspected returning a brooch to an elderly woman would lead to a job . . . and introduce her to the woman's grandson, a man far above her station.

In Karen Witemeyer's "Gift of the Heart," widow Ruth Albright uses the family brooch as collateral for a loan from the local banker. But the more she comes to know the man behind the stern businessman, the more she hopes for a second chance at love.

In Sarah Loudin Thomas's "A Shot at Love," Fleeta Brady's rough-and-tumble childhood means she prefers hunting to more feminine activities. She never expected her family's brooch might be how a fellow hunter turns her attention from competition to romance.

In Becky Wade's "Because of You," Maddie Winslow has spent years in love with a man whose heart was already spoken for. When a church Christmas project brings them together and she stumbles upon an old family brooch, might it finally be her turn for love?


My Review:
The Christmas Heirloom is a collection of four Christian romance novellas, spanning from 1827 in England to modern day America. It's hard enough to create a naturally-paced romance in a novel length, so I was pleasantly surprised that three of these stories felt like the couple had really gotten to know each other and were well-suited matches. I also liked that they were attracted to the other's character and not simply the other's good looks.

While Fleeta's story was enjoyable, the focus was more on her feeling like she wasn't loved and didn't belong. As a consequence, it felt like she suddenly changed her mind about marrying because her lifelong dream hit a snag. He was interested in her and kind, and they shared an interest in guns, so, hey. But they hardly knew each other.

The characters believed in God and we see how God provided in their lives, etc. None of the stories were preachy, and the mentions of God were worked in naturally. There was no sex or bad language. Overall, I'd recommend this enjoyable collection.


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 30, 2018

Redeeming Lies by Samantha St. Claire

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Redeeming Lies
by Samantha St. Claire


ISBN-13: 9781732736702
ebook: 242 pages
Publisher: River's End Books
Released: Sept. 20, 2018

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from NetGalley:
Maddie Jennings' father is a scam artist who has used his daughter’s talent for reading people. When her father’s fortunes improve, he enrolls her in Miss Emma Willard’s School for Young Ladies where she begins a progressive education in both academics and society. Then her father unexpectedly withdraws her, taking her with him on a desperate flight from deadly repercussions for a scam gone wrong.

Her father hurriedly explains that they are being pursued by both the Pinkerton Agency and the vindictive Sicilian family. When a heart attack takes his life at a small station in Idaho Territory, she must change her identity, take the money, and run for her life. On the north-bound train to Ketchum, Maddie meets a young doctor, David Reynolds, who is also running from something-a woman he can never possess. Maddie, now trapped in her false identity by the indiscretions of her father, can neither afford to reveal her true nature nor allow her attraction to the doctor to distract her from the need to simply survive.


My Review:
Redeeming Lies is a romance set in 1889 in the Idaho Territory. This novel is the fourth in a series. Characters from the previous novels play a role in this one (so you may be interested in Alena's continuing story), but you don't need to read the previous novels to understand this one.

Much of the story was about Maddie settling into a little town under an assumed name and making good friends that help her to trust others. She used her skill to read people to help her friends, but she feels burdened by her father's guilt--especially since people are after the stolen money in her possession. The ending was an exciting sequence of people trying to get the money and her friends helping keep her safe while bringing bad guys to justice. Very fun. The characters were likable and acted realistically. Historical details like the Pinkerton's and the teachings at the Willard’s School were woven into the story.

There was no sex. There was no 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.


Friday, September 28, 2018

Miss Kopp Just Won't Quit by Amy Stewart

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Miss Kopp Just Won't Quit
by Amy Stewart


ISBN-13: 9781328736512
Hardcover: 320 pages
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Released: Sept. 11, 2018

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

Book Description, Modified from Goodreads:
With wit and verve, Amy Stewart brilliantly conjures the life and times of the real Constance Kopp. After a year on the job, New Jersey's first female deputy sheriff has collared criminals, demanded justice for wronged women, and gained notoriety nationwide for her exploits. But on one stormy night, everything falls apart.

While transporting a woman to an insane asylum, Deputy Kopp discovers something deeply troubling about her story. Before she can investigate, another inmate bound for the asylum breaks free and tries to escape.

In both cases, Constance runs instinctively toward justice. But the fall of 1916 is a high-stakes election year, and any move she makes could jeopardize Sheriff Heath's future--and her own. Although Constance is not on the ballot, her controversial career makes her the target of political attacks.


My Review:
Miss Kopp Just Won't Quit is a historical novel set in 1916 in New Jersey. It's the fourth book in a series, but it works as a stand-alone. The Kopp sisters were real people, and Constance Kopp was New Jersey's first female deputy sheriff. Most of the events involving Norma and Fleurette were fictional, but the author worked true historical events involving Constance, the elections, and inmates at the jail into the story. The story provided a taste of what it was like to be a female deputy sheriff at that time.

The author worked interesting historical details into the story and portrayed the difficulties faced by women. The characters were interesting and acted realistically. There was some suspense about the upcoming elections (and a question if Constance will still have a job afterward) and a mystery to solve involving why a sane woman was sent to an asylum when she clearly wasn't insane.

There was no sex or bad language. Overall, I'd highly 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.

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Making Friends by Kristen Gudsnuk

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Making Friends
by Kristen Gudsnuk


ISBN-13: 9781338139211
Paperback: 272 pages
Publisher: Graphix
Released: July 31, 2018

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

Book Description, Modified from Goodreads:
Sixth grade was SO much easier for Danielle. All her friends were in the same room and she knew what to expect from her life. But now that she's in seventh grade, she's in a new middle school, her friends are in different classes and forming new cliques, and she is completely lost.

When Danielle inherits a magical sketchbook from her eccentric great aunt Elma, she draws Madison, an ideal best friend that springs to life right off the page! But even when you create a best friend, it's not easy navigating the ups and downs of relationships, and before long Danielle and Madison are not exactly seeing eye-to-eye.

To make matters worse, Danielle has drawn the head of her favorite (and totally misunderstood) cartoon villain, Prince Neptune. He's also come to life and is giving her terrible advice about how to make people like her. When she rejects him and he goes on a rampage during a school pep rally, Danielle and Madison have to set aside their differences to stop him!


My Review:
Making Friends is a full-color graphic novel for female tweens. All of Danielle's old friends are in different classes than her. She feels very un-cool and lonely. When she inherits a magic sketchbook, she draws her favorite (evil) anime character's head. Out pops the character's head, alive despite a lack of a body. She also draws a cool girl to be her best friend, only the girl notices that she doesn't have parents. The evil character tries to help Danielle by directing her to be cruel to others. The cool girl isn't sure she wants to be Danielle's friend. Danielle learns what to do and not do to make friends. Plenty of laughs. There was no sex or written out 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, September 23, 2018

The Deathly Portent by Elizabeth Bailey

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The Deathly Portent
by Elizabeth Bailey


ISBN-13: 9781912546466
ebook: 381 pages
Publisher: Sapere Books
Released: Aug. 23, 2018

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from Goodreads:
1790, England. When Lord Francis and Lady Ottilia Fanshawe’s coach breaks down, they find themselves stranded in the village of Witherley. Ottilia finds her curiosity piqued when she hears of a local murder.

A young woman predicted the gruesome death of the village blacksmith. And he was killed exactly as described. In order to stop a witch hunt, Ottilia must uncover a clever murderer who took advantage of the woman's vision to get revenge while deflecting the blame.


My Review:
The Deathly Portent is a mystery set in 1790 in England. This novel is the 2nd in the series, but you don't need to read the previous novel to understand this one. This story didn't spoil the whodunit of the previous books but it did frequently refer back to events in that story.

The mystery is a clue-based, puzzle mystery. There were plenty of people with motives. Lady Fan used her keen observational skills and ability to get people to confide in her quickly to gather clues. I was able to guess whodunit at about the halfway point, but Lady Fan misread which way certain clues pointed. Further clues only confirmed my suspicions and soon made Lady Fan realize who the murderer was. Only, how to prove it? She set a clever but dangerous trap. There was some suspense because certain villagers were determined to burn the "witch" for murder and they're willing to harm those who protect her.

The characters were interesting and enjoyable. The author used some local dialect and historical details to create the feeling of a specific time and place. There were only a few uses of bad language. There were no sex scenes. 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, September 21, 2018

Burning Ridge by Margaret Mizushima

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Burning Ridge
by Margaret Mizushima


ISBN-13: 9781683317784
Hardcover
Publisher: Crooked Lane Books
Released: Sept. 11, 2018

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from Goodreads:
Colorado’s Redstone Ridge is a place of extraordinary beauty, but this rugged mountain wilderness harbors a horrifying secret. When a charred body is discovered in a shallow grave on the ridge, officer Mattie Cobb and her K-9 partner Robo are called in to spearhead the investigation. But this is no ordinary crime—and it soon becomes clear that Mattie has a close personal connection to the dead man.

Joined by local veterinarian Cole Walker, the pair scours the mountaintop for evidence and makes another gruesome discovery: the skeletonized remains of two adults and a child. And then, the unthinkable happens. Could Mattie become the next victim in the murderer’s deadly game?

A deranged killer torments Mattie with a litany of dark secrets that call into question her very identity. As a towering blaze races across the ridge, Cole and Robo search desperately for her—but time is running out in Margaret Mizushima’s fourth spine-tingling Timber Creek K-9 mystery, Burning Ridge.


My Review:
Burning Ridge is a K9-detective mystery. It's the fourth in a series. You can follow this book without reading the previous ones, and this book didn't spoil the previous mysteries.

The main characters were likable and complex, and they acted realistically. I cared about what happened to them. They dealt with personal struggles while solving the crime. Mattie's painful childhood is connected to the current crime, pulling up painful memories. She needs Robo, her loyal and talented working dog, and Cole, the veterinarian who loves her, to get her through. The crime was a clue-based mystery but turned into a suspense when the murderer kidnapped another person...and he tortured his last target using fire. (This was suspenseful but not traumatizing to read.)

The crime scenes were not described in gory detail. There were no sex scenes. The was occasional use of bad language. Overall, I'd highly recommend this interesting 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.


Excerpt: Read an excerpt using Google Preview.

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.