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

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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

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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.

Friday, June 22, 2018

Once Upon a Spine by Kate Carlisle

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Once Upon a Spine
by Kate Carlisle


ISBN-13: 9780451477736
Mass Market Paperback:
304 pages
Publisher: Berkley Prime Crime
Released: June 5, 2018

Source: Review copy from the publisher.

Book Description, Modified from Goodreads:
Brooklyn's future in-laws are traveling from England to meet her, and if that's not enough to set her on edge, rumors abound that the charming Courtyard Shops across the street may be replaced by high-rise apartments. Their trendy neighborhood will be ruined unless Brooklyn and her fiance, Derek Stone, can persuade the shopkeepers not to sell.

But with a rare edition of Alice in Wonderland causing bad blood at the Brothers Bookshop and a string of petty vandalism making everyone nervous, Brooklyn and Derek feel overwhelmed. Then the local cobbler is found in the Rabbit Hole juice bar under a toppled heavy shelf. Things get curiouser and curiouser when a second priceless copy of Alice is discovered.

As the Brits descend, Brooklyn learns they're not so stuffy after all. Derek's dad is won over with chocolate cream pie, and his psychic mum would kill to help Brooklyn solve this murder--before another victim takes a tumble.


My Review:
Once Upon a Spine is a cozy mystery. This novel is the 11th in the series. You don't need to read the previous novels to understand this one, and this story didn't spoil the whodunit of the previous books.

Brooklyn and Derek worked as a team, and they passed on the information that they discover to their detective friend. Brooklyn mainly got people talking about the murder to glean who had motive and might have known that the victim would be at that spot. There were clues, but the mystery was ultimately solved by Brooklyn knowingly running into a situation where whodunit was threatening more people (hoping to somehow prevent another death). I prefer reckless to stupid in a heroine, but my favorite mystery heroines solve the mystery without the murderer confessing. Still, enjoyable characters.

There was no sex. There was occasional use 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.


Excerpt: Read an excerpt using Google Preview.

Monday, June 18, 2018

A Defense of Honor by Kristi Ann Hunter

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A Defense of Honor
by Kristi Ann Hunter


ISBN-13: 9780764230752
Paperback: 352 pages
Publisher: Bethany House Publishers
Released: June 5, 2018

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from NetGalley:
Katherine "Kit" FitzGilbert was ruined in the estimation of London society more than a decade ago. She now helps aristocratic women who have been seduced or raped and are pregnant so they can avoid being ruined. She also discreetly raises the illegitimate children in return for payments from the fathers.

When business takes her to London and she's forced to run for her life, she escapes through a ballroom and is spotted by Graham, Lord Wharton. What should have been a chance encounter becomes much more as Graham embarks on a search for his friend's missing sister and is convinced Kit knows more about the girl than she's telling. As much as Kit desperately wishes to tell Graham everything, revealing the truth isn't worth putting him and everyone she loves in danger.


My Review:
A Defense of Honor is a Christian romance set in 1816 in England. Realistic, complex characters and vivid setting details immersed me into the story. I cared about the characters and understood why they acted the way they did. The romantic couple inspired each other to be better people and had shared interests to sustain their attraction. I love this type of story, which has real struggles without making the reader depressed. Rather, the characters find healing and freedom.

Kit pushed her shy friend into doing something that resulted in her seduction while also ruining Kit's reputation. Cast from society, Kit and her friend have found a way to save other women from the same fate while also providing a home for the resulting children. Kit's guilt runs deep, and she helps other women as a way to earn the forgiveness of her friend and God. She struggles to accept that they've already forgiven her. She also struggles with trusting God to provide for their needs.

There was no sex or bad language. Overall, I'd highly recommend this enjoyable and moving 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, June 17, 2018

The Mermaid by Christina Henry

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The Mermaid
by Christina Henry


ISBN-13: 9780399584046
Paperback: 336 pages
Publisher: Berkley
Released: June 19, 2018

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from Goodreads:
Once there was a mermaid who longed to know of more than her ocean home and her people. One day a fisherman trapped her in his net but couldn't bear to keep her. But his eyes were lonely and caught her more surely than the net, and so she evoked a magic that allowed her to walk upon the shore. The mermaid, Amelia, became his wife, and they lived on a cliff above the ocean for ever so many years, until one day the fisherman rowed out to sea and did not return.

P. T. Barnum was looking for marvelous attractions for his American Museum, and he'd heard a rumor of a mermaid who lived on a cliff by the sea. He wanted to make his fortune, and an attraction like Amelia was just the ticket.

Amelia agreed to play the mermaid for Barnum, and she believes she can leave any time she likes. But Barnum has never given up a money-making scheme in his life, and he's determined to hold on to his mermaid.


My Review:
The Mermaid is a fantasy/romance set mainly in 1842 in New York City. The story was initially told like a fairy tale narrative. A mermaid falls in love with a fisherman in a remote village in America, but once her husband dies, she's left mourning him and angry at the ocean that took him from her. She hasn't aged, and rumors about her reach the ears of P. T. Barnum. At this point, the author started showing scenes and developing characters.

While Amelia looked like a human when not in her mermaid form, she didn't accept various human notions of proper behavior. She stood up for herself when dealing with Barnum and didn't feel she needed a protector. But her assertiveness and her desire for others to accept her ideas of right and wrong also made for conflict. Amelia increasingly chafed against the 1842 white male attitude towards women, slaves, savages, and God, and she wanted Levi to agree that those attitudes were wrong.

Levi, Barnum's assistant, fell in love with Amelia and worked to protect her against those who would treat her like an animal or condemn her as the Devil's creature. Even knowing she's not human, he still expected her to conform to human standards in some ways and didn't always understand her attitudes or feelings. The suspense came from the potential danger to Amelia from religious people, greedy people, and those who viewed her as an animal or fraud. Frankly, though, that danger didn't really materialize until nearly the end.

There were no sex scenes. There was occasional use of bad language. Overall, I'd recommend this interesting story, but realize it's more about choices and attitudes than 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.


Friday, June 15, 2018

A Rebel Heart by Beth White

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A Rebel Heart
by Beth White


ISBN-13: 9780800726898
Paperback: 368 pages
Publisher: Revell
Released: June 5, 2018

Source: Review copy from the publisher.

Book Description, Modified from Goodreads:
Five years after the final shot was fired in the War Between the States, Selah Daughtry can barely manage to keep herself, her two younger sisters, and their spinster cousin fed and clothed. With their family's Mississippi plantation swamped by debt and the Big House falling down around them, the only option seems to be giving up their ancestral land.

Pinkerton agent and former Union cavalryman Levi Riggins is investigating a series of robberies and sabotage linked to the impoverished Daughtry plantation. Posing as a hotel management agent for the railroad, he tells Selah he'll help her save her home, but only if it is converted into a hotel.

Selah isn't sure she entirely trusts the handsome Yankee, but she'd do almost anything to save her home. What she never expected to encounter was his assault on her heart.


My Review:
A Rebel Heart is a Christian romance set in 1870 in Mississippi. The setting and historical details immersed me in the story. The story touched on how difficult it was for former slave owners and ex-slaves to form new, equitable relationships. The story also looked at how Southerners each reacted differently to a Yankee, Levi.

The characters were complex and acted realistically, and I cared about what happened to them. Selah and Levi brought out the good in each other. They were attracted to the other's character as well as looks. They respected each other and worked well together.

There was some mystery since Levi was trying to determine who caused the train wreck. We know whodunit since we get scenes from their point of view. This increased the suspense since we know there is danger to Levi (and others). The main characters prayed before making major decisions, and their Christian beliefs were reflected in how they treated others. 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.

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Vanished in the Night by Lynette Eason

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Vanished in the Night
by Lynette Eason


ISBN-13: 9781335490414
Mass Market Paperback:
224 pages
Publisher: Love Inspired Suspense
Released: June 5, 2018

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from Goodreads:
After saving Kaylee Martin from abduction and delivering her baby boy on the side of the road, Dr. Joshua Crawford can't get them out of his mind. Unfortunately, neither can Kaylee's violent stalker. He'll stop at nothing to get to the new mom and her child. Can Joshua keep them safe so they can become the family he's dreamed about?


My Review:
Vanished in the Night is a romantic suspense novel. Though a part of a series, it worked as a standalone. The book is short, so things happened very fast. The hero and heroine fell in love practically as soon as they met. There were only a few attacks on the heroine before the ending suspense sequence happened. There weren't very many suspects. It was more about figuring out who was doing what and where to find them.

I liked the main characters. The heroine picked her battles, was willing to accept help, made good decisions about safety, and could think on her feet and defend herself. The hero was caring, a doctor, and a mixed martial artist who was good at defending her. The physical danger to Kaylee and her baby caused the suspense.

There was no bad language or sex. 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, June 8, 2018

Where the Fire Falls by Karen Barnett

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Where the Fire Falls
by Karen Barnett


ISBN-13: 9780735289567
Paperback: 352 pages
Publisher: WaterBrook
Released: June 5, 2018

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from NetGalley:
Watercolorist Olivia Rutherford has shet her humble beginnings to fashion her image as an avant-garde artist to appeal to the region's wealthy art-collectors. When she lands a lucrative contract painting illustrations of Yosemite National Park for a travel magazine, including its nightly one-of-a-kind Firefall event, she hopes the money will lift her and her sisters out of poverty.

After false accusations cost him everything, former minister Clark Johnson has found purpose as a backcountry guide in this natural cathedral of granite and trees. Now he's faced with the opportunity to become a National Parks Ranger, but is it his true calling? As Clark opens Olivia's eyes to the wonders of Yosemite, she hides her father's connection to a murder in the park's past.


My Review:
Where the Fire Falls is a Christian romance set in 1929 in Yosemite National Park. Though this book is a part of a series, it works as a standalone. The series is about the early years of the various national parks.

I was interested in the story because the heroine is talented at watercolor painting. Sadly, the author seems to have simply looked up some art terms and scattered them throughout the story as she doesn't convey an accurate understanding of watercolor painting. She spent more time researching the park, though, so we got vivid descriptions of the park as Olivia toured it while painting the sights.

The hero is a guide in the park. He's leery of women because untrue accusations by one got him fired by his church. He's uncertain what to do with his future as he wants to be a minister but feels he can no longer be one. Olivia wants to be a famous artist and is pressured into acting like a jerk to fit in with her rich clients. She has to decide what is most important to her and what she's willing to compromise. These two fall in love as she works on her paintings. We get a suspenseful ending when people start to do unethical things to make money off of her paintings.

The Christian theme was about understanding where your identity comes from as a child of God. There was no sex or bad language. Overall, it was an 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.

Sunday, June 3, 2018

Fire in the Thatch by E.C.R Lorac

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Fire in the Thatch
by E.C.R Lorac


ISBN-13: 9781464209673
Paperback: 304 pages
Publisher: Poisoned Pen Press
Released: June 5, 2018

Source: Review copy from the publisher.

Book Description, Modified from NetGalley:
The Second World War is drawing to a close. Nicholas Vaughan, released from the navy after an accident, takes refuge in Devon—renting a thatched cottage in the beautiful countryside at Mallory Fitzjohn. Vaughan sets to work farming the land, rearing geese and renovating the cottage. Hard work and rural peace seem to make this a happy bachelor life.

On a nearby farm lives the bored, flirtatious June St Cyres, an exile from London while her husband is a Japanese POW. June's presence attracts fashionable visitors of dubious character, and threatens to spoil Vaughan's prized seclusion. When Little Thatch is destroyed in a blaze, all Vaughan's work goes up in smoke—and Inspector Macdonald is drafted in to uncover a motive for murder.


My Review:
Fire in the Thatch is a mystery published in 1946 and set at the end of World War II in England. The first fourth of the book set up who the characters were and let us get to know the victim, who happened to be a nice fellow. The characters were complex and interesting.

The fire was declared an accident, yet the Scotland Yard detective is brought in to determine if it was an accident or a very clever murder. The detective thoroughly looked into every detail of the matter and questioned suspects. He's quite clever and astute about how people act. While I did highly suspect whodunit from the same scene that the detective did, the author muddied things enough that I wasn't certain until nearly the end.

There was a fair amount of bad language. There was no sex. Overall, I would recommend this enjoyable and 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.

Friday, June 1, 2018

Gentlemen Formerly Dressed by Sulari Gentill

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Gentlemen Formerly Dressed
by Sulari Gentill


ISBN-13: 9781464206955
Paperback
Publisher: Poisoned Pen Press
Released: June 5, 2018

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from Goodreads:
The dedicated black sheep of his conservative, wealthy Australian family, Rowland Sinclair prefers to leave managing the immense family fortune and politics to his elder brother, Wil, while pursuing a life as a gentleman artist. A life in company of boho housemates Clyde, a fellow painter; Milton, a plagiarising poet; and Edna, the beautiful, emancipated sculptress who is both his muse and the (unacknowledged) love of his life.

Having barely escaped 1933 Germany while reluctantly pursuing an off-the-books mission in Munich, the usually stoic Rowly remains horrified and deeply troubled by the changes that have come about under the Nazi government. The country which he knew in his early twenties as the centre of modern art and culture, is now, under Hitler, oppressed and sanitised. Tortured by the SA for the degeneracy of his own paintings, he bears both physical and emotional scars. For the first time he is moved to take a stance politically, to try and sway the political thought of the time. A friend of the Left and son of the Right, Rowland doesn't really know what he is doing, or what should be done, but he is consumed with a notion that something should be done. Plus he needs to recuperate.

And so Rowly and his friends make for England rather than returning to Sydney. In London, in the superlative luxury of Claridge's, they feel safe. Then Viscount Pierrepont is discovered in his club, impaled by a sword. Pierrepont is sporting a frilly negligée and makeup - so, a sex crime? Too embarrassing. And too bizarre a death for this aging gentleman, and him newly wed. His murder, and the suspicion falling on his young niece, quickly plunge the Australians into a queer world of British aristocracy, Fascist Blackshirts, illicit love, scandal, and spies ranging from London and its suburbs to Bletchley Park and Oxford, and inevitably drawing in Wil Sinclair as well as players like H.G. Wells and Winston Churchill. It's a world where gentlemen are not always what they are dressed up to be.


My Review:
Gentlemen Formerly Dressed is a mystery set in June and July 1933 in England. This is the fifth novel in a series. This story referred back to events that happened in previous books, especially the fourth book. The events that happened in Germany still impact the characters during this book, so I'd recommend reading that story before this one.

The main characters were interesting, caring people. Since an innocent girl was being accused of murder, they asked questions despite being warned off by people trying to hush up the crime. Since the murdered man was found in a woman's nightgown, they looked into a possible homosexual connection. There were enough clues that I could guess whodunit shortly before Rowley. The main characters also tried to warn people in Britain about Hitler and what's going on in Germany. Interesting historical details were woven into the the story and touch on the crime.

There was some bad language (if you're American) to a fair amount of bad language (if you count British/Australia bad words). There were no sex scenes. Overall, I'd recommend this interesting novel.


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


Excerpt: Read an excerpt using Google Preview.

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

The Hills Have Spies by Mercedes Lackey

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The Hills Have Spies
by Mercedes Lackey


ISBN-13: 9780756413170
Hardcover: 336 pages
Publisher: Daw Books
Released: June 5, 2018

Source: Review copy from the publisher.

Book Description, Modified from Goodreads:
Mags, Herald Spy of Valdemar, and his wife Amily are happily married with three kids. The oldest, Peregrine, has the Gift of animal Mindspeech--he can talk to animals and persuade them to act as he wishes. His dream is to follow in his father's footsteps as a spy. He wonders if he even wants to be Chosen by a horse-like Companion, like his parents expect.

Mags regularly trains his children with tests and exercises, preparing them for the complicated and dangerous lives they will likely lead. When reports of an unusual number of missing people reaches Mag's ears, he decides to take Peregrine with him to discover who (or what) is behind the disappearances.

Peregrine and his father travel as traders so they can follow the rumors without inciting suspicion. He uses his Gift to help rescue several animals in distress, but he's disappointed at the lack of adventure. When they discover the missing people are actually being kidnapped outside of Valdemar's border, Mags declares that they can't do anything. Yet Peregrine is determined to at least learn more about what is happening to the people and if this poses a threat to Valdemar...


My Review:
The Hills Have Spies is a fantasy novel with an adult and a 13-year-old main character, so it may appeal to tweens and teens as well as adults. It helps if you've read some of the other Valdemar series so you can better understand the references to certain people or unusual creatures. However, you can understand this story without that additional depth of knowledge. The world-building created a unique and interesting setting for the story.

Mags is uncertain about how to be a good father since he had no parents as a child. Perry has been trained in and is skilled at being a spy, so he wants to use that training. But adventure can be scary. Perry makes a poor decision--though for the right reasons--and realizes things are much more dangerous than he thought. Yet he has no choice but to continue what he began even though the danger only increases.

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


Friday, May 25, 2018

A Date with Murder by Donald Bain & Jon Land

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A Date with Murder
by Donald Bain
& Jon Land


ISBN-13: 9780451489272
Hardcover: 304 pages
Publisher: Berkley Prime Crime
Released: May 1, 2018

Source: Review copy from the publisher.

Book Description, my take:
Jessica Fletcher's friend Barbara "Babs" Wirth and her husband, Hal Wirth, host a Labor Day party at their home in Cabot Cove, Maine. Hal is found dead at the party. Officially, he died from a massive heart attack, but something doesn't seem quite right to Jessica Fletcher. Especially when his ex-business partner is also found dead in Cabot Cove. Jessica finds an unpublished memoir that Hal was working on and is shocked to discover that he'd tried dating on the sly with an online dating service. After one date, though, he changes his mind...but it was too late as that date eventually led to deadly consequences.

My Review:
A Date with Murder is a more of a thriller than a cozy mystery. Someone tried to kill Jessica Fletcher multiple times as she investigated. She had no proof beyond a gut feeling, so she asked a young man to hack into websites to get information and did things like set herself up as bait to try to solve whodunit.

Ironically, I guessed whodunit even before the body was found and that did turn out to be the person behind the whole, complex crime. While the crime and characters were interesting enough to hold my interest, I rolled my eyes at the end when Jessica, knowing the cops were there to arrest someone and thinking she spotted that person, left safety to follow that person. After solving hundreds of murders, you'd think she'd know better.

This is the forty-seventh book in the series. You don't have to read the previous novels to understand this one, and this one doesn't spoil the whodunit of previous novels. There was no sex. There was a minor amount 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.

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Lone Witness by Rachel Dylan

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Lone Witness
by Rachel Dylan


ISBN-13: 9780764219818
Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: Bethany House
Released: May 1, 2018

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description from NetGalley:
Prosecutor Sophie Dawson's first job in the White Collar division of the Fulton County D.A.'s office is to build a case against a local bank employee who may be cheating clients. But when circumstances beyond her control leave her as the only witness to a double homicide involving a vengeful gang, her world is turned upside down.

Former Atlanta police officer turned private security guard Cooper Knight is hired to ensure that Sophie is kept safe. But as threats escalate, they don't know who they can trust.

Sophie is determined not to back down, but her bank case gets more complicated by the day, and the gang will stop at nothing to keep her from testifying. Sophie wants to take a stand for what's right--but can Cooper, who is determined not to be distracted by their growing attraction, keep her safe so that she can finish her pursuit for justice?


My Review:
Lone Witness is a Christian legal suspense novel. There were two high-stakes cases going on at the same time. Sophie was a witness to a double homicide. She had to learn to be a good witness, able to withstand an aggressive defense attorney despite her struggle with panic attacks happening when she's stressed. Since her testimony was the main evidence against the murderer, the boy's gang leader brother was willing to kill Sophie to stop the case.

At the same time, Sophie was working on a case of a bank employee who cheated clients, but her boss was pressuring her to offer a plea deal. Then she found evidence of a major crime going on that involved more people. The criminal was willing to kill to prevent Sophie from exposing the deeper crime. The suspense was high as multiple people attempted to physically hurt or kill Sophie.

Cooper was an honorable man who tried to think of others before his own desires. Since his father abused his mother, he's afraid he may do the same. He came to realize that, as a follower of Christ and with God's help, he's not destined to follow in his father's patterns of addiction and abuse. The romance was based on both physical attraction and admiration of the other's character. There was no sex. There were four uses of cr*p, but no other bad language. Overall, I'd 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, May 20, 2018

Murder on Union Square by Victoria Thompson

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Murder on Union Square
by Victoria Thompson


ISBN-13: 9780399586606
Hardcover: 304 pages
Publisher: Berkley Prime Crime
Released: May 1, 2018

Source: Review copy from the publisher.

Book Description, Modified from Goodreads:
Frank and Sarah Malloy are enjoying married life and looking to make their family official by adopting Catherine, the child Sarah rescued and has been raising as her daughter. The newlyweds soon discover, Parnell Vaughn, an actor and Catherine's legal father, must agree to relinquish his parental rights. Vaughn's girlfriend insists that Frank pay them money to sign the legal papers. Even though exchanging money for a child is illegal, Frank agrees and returns with the papers and the money only to find Vaughn beaten to death. Vaughn's girlfriend points to Frank as the culprit.

Vaughn seems at first to be an unlikely candidate for murder--particularly such a violent crime of passion--but Frank soon uncovers backstage intrigue as dramatic as any that appears on stage. Sarah and Frank must use all of their resources to investigate Vaughn's death as Frank's own life hangs in the balance.


My Review:
Murder on Union Square is a historical mystery set in New York City in 1899. This is the twenty-first book in the series. You don't need to read the previous books to understand this one, and this one didn't spoil the whodunit of the previous mysteries.

This was a clue-based puzzle mystery. Since Frank was arrested for the murder (and so I didn't expect people to talk with him) and he didn't get to study the physical clues at the scene, I honestly wondered how they'd solve this case. But he has a team working for him, and they managed to ask questions and gather clues. Frank, Gino, Sarah, and Maeve asked good questions. I did guess whodunit, how, and why before the team, but I wasn't completely certain until the confession.

Interesting historical details about theaters, actors, and the legalities of adopting a child were woven into the story. The main characters were nice people and had realistic reactions to events. There were no sex scenes or bad language. Overall, I'd recommend this interesting historical mystery.


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


Excerpt: Read an excerpt using Google Preview.

Friday, May 18, 2018

Together Forever by Jody Hedlund

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Together Forever
by Jody Hedlund


ISBN-13: 9780764218057
Paperback: 384 pages
Publisher: Bethany House
Released: May 1, 2018

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from Goodreads:
Marianne Neumann became a placing agent with the Children's Aid Society with one goal: to find her lost sister. Her fellow agent, Andrew Brady, is a former schoolteacher with a way with children and a hidden past. As they team up placing orphans in homes in Illinois, they grow ever closer . . . until a shocking tragedy changes their lives forever.


My Review:
Together Forever is a Christian romance set in June 1858 in New York City and Illinois. While the storyline about the orphan trains and the work of the Children's Aid Society was interesting, the romance felt more like something written for Hollywood than Christians. A child in the story asked Drew on several occasions why he was "eating" Marianne. They repeatedly got too physically intense. In public. In front of children. And when they weren't even engaged.

Drew and Marianne spent a lot of time kissing and touching. Marianne had doubts about marrying Drew, but she was very supportive of Drew and was willing to do the things he wanted to do. By the end of the story, she had learned to forgive herself for past mistakes but was unwilling to hurt anyone and so allowed herself to be pressured into wrong behavior.

Drew behaved selfishly toward Marianne and cared only about what he wanted. He briefly wondered how he was going to support Marianne but cared more about bedding her. This issue was never really resolved. He lost all my respect when he asked Marianne to go on a midnight walk alone with him (view spoiler). And then he pushed her to do something that frightened her and was potentially dangerous.

He didn't support her concerns or consider her feelings as more important than his desires. Instead, he decided to do whatever he had to to get his way. But Drew and Marianne were presented as a perfect love-match instead of a lust-motivated romance with a self-centered, manipulative hero. Yes, he's good with the children and they work well together, but there is more to marriage than that and physical attraction. 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, May 13, 2018

The Rose Legacy by Jessica Day George

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The Rose Legacy
by Jessica Day George


ISBN-13: 9781599906478
Hardcover: 272 pages
Publisher: Bloomsbury Children's Books
Released: May 1, 2018

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description from Goodreads:
Orphaned Anthea Cross-Thornley has been shuttled between family members her whole life. When she receives a letter from a long-lost uncle, she dares to dream that she will finally find a home. Upon her arrival she is shocked to learn that her uncle secretly breeds horses--animals that have been forbidden in their kingdom for centuries. More alarming is Anthea's strange ability to sense the horses' thoughts and feelings, an ancient gift called The Way. Confused and terrified, Anthea is desperate to leave, but when dangers arise that put her family and her kingdom at risk, she has no choice but to embrace The Way and the exciting future adventures it will bring her


My Review:
The Rose Legacy is a tween fantasy novel. I loved novels involving horses when I was a kid, and I enjoyed this one even as an adult. The characters acted realistically and were interesting. The world-building, though not extensive, did give it a unique feel. Anthea grew up with cars and trains, but life on the family farm revolves around horses and using the gift that allows people to communicate with horses.

Anthea has been passed around from relative to relative because she's an orphan. She tries to be perfect so people will want her. She's finally shipped up north into the exile lands to an uncle who actually wants her. But all the prim and proper ways that Anthea has learned don't fit on the farm. Worse, the horses that she's been taught to dread and thought were completely extinct are raised here. And she can feel their emotions because she has a gift called the Way. Horrified, she writes about the horses to a well-connected aunt only to later regret it.

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


Friday, May 11, 2018

Rodeo Standoff by Susan Sleeman

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Rodeo Standoff
by Susan Sleeman


ISBN-13: 9781335490360
Mass Market Paperback: 224 pages
Publisher: Love Inspired Suspense
Released: May 8, 2018

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from Goodreads:
The rodeo arena is always treacherous. Now it's deadly. It's no accident Deputy Tessa McKade is trapped with an angry bull ready to trample her to death. It's her rescuer, Detective Braden Hayes, who serves her bodyguard. As they seek to stop a would-be killer, Braden will have to use all his professional skills to guard Tessa's life.


My Review:
Rodeo Standoff is a Christian romantic suspense novel. The suspense came from physical danger to the heroine, as someone kept trying to kill her while she was performing at the rodeo. This was her last barrel racing contest, and the danger was distracting plus she had to do her crime scene investigator job as well. I appreciated that the heroine was willing to listen to sensible advice and that both the hero and heroine were willing to admit when they were wrong.

The hero's parents had serial dysfunctional marriages, so he's determined never to marry even though women are attracted to his fame as a bull riding champion. The heroine came from a loving family, but due to a cheating ex-boyfriend, she's not willing to trust her heart to a popular man. This mutual resistance to marriage stood between them despite their attraction to each other.

The Christian element was consulting God's leading in marriage. There was no sex or bad language. Overall, I'd recommend this enjoyable suspense novel.


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


Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Fitzwilliam Darcy: Earl of Matlock by Cressida Lane

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Fitzwilliam Darcy: Earl of Matlock
by Cressida Lane


ISBN-13: 1230002023489
kindle: 223 pages
Publisher: Amazon Digital Services
Released: Nov. 26, 2017

Source: ebook review copy through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from NetGalley:
Mr. Darcy has only just arrived at Netherfield Park when Jane Bennet comes to dine with his hosts. When their guest and her pretty sister Elizabeth fall ill, his charitable nature is surely the only reason he feels compelled to entertain the invalids. But just as his new friends have recovered their health, Darcy unexpectedly inherits an Earldom. Elizabeth Bennet agrees to allow him to publicly court her so the hordes of match-making mamas will leave him alone. A clean, amusing, over-the-top Pride and Prejudice retelling that'll leave you smiling.


My Review:
Fitzwilliam Darcy: Earl of Matlock is a romance set (presumably) in 1813 England. The story started with Darcy arriving late to Netherfield Park, so he never insulted Lizzy's pride. Nor does he have any pride (nor any ego about how desirable he is, despite the fact that hordes of women are trying to marry him). Darcy and Lizzy get to know each other and get along wonderfully. Lizzy never cares for any other. In fact, if you removed the names and occasional quotes from "Pride and Prejudice," you'd never guess it was meant to be a "what if" retelling of that story. The characters were only very loosely based off of Jane Austen's characters. Even the quotes were often given to different characters or used in a different context.

So, as a clean Regency romance novel, how is it? Well, it's got no sex and only a few uses of bad language. There wasn't much historical detail nor did the author feel obligated to stay true to the manners of the times. When Lizzy traveled to London to casually visit a stranger, the author needed Lizzy to stop at that house before even changing her travel-stained clothing and without a servant, so that's what she did. If the author needed Darcy to jump to conclusions and Lizzy to inexplicably not correct him, then of course they did. But for all that, the characters were nice, so it was an enjoyable, fluffy romance were little stood in the way of everyone's happiness.


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, May 6, 2018

Bats in the Belfry by E.C.R Lorac

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Bats in the Belfry
by E.C.R Lorac


ISBN-13: 9781464209659
Paperback
Publisher: Poisoned Pen Press
Released: May 2, 2018

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description from NetGalley:
Bruce Attleton dazzled London's literary scene with his first two novels—but his early promise did not bear fruit. His wife Sybilla is a glittering actress, unforgiving of Bruce's failure, and the couple lead separate lives in their house at Regent's Park. When Bruce is called away on a sudden trip to Paris, he vanishes completely—until his suitcase and passport are found in a sinister artist's studio, the Belfry, in a crumbling house in Notting Hill. Inspector Macdonald must uncover Bruce's secrets, and find out the identity of his mysterious blackmailer.

This intricate mystery from a classic writer is set in a superbly evoked London of the 1930s.


My Review:
Bats in the Belfry is a mystery set in England that was published in 1937. The detective in this story had a lot of confusing clues to sort through. Finding the body was difficult, then identifying the deceased was nearly impossible. Who killed whom? When the detective's solution turns out to be correct, he starts to second-guess himself. Some things just don't seem to fit. Is his initial solution correct or is someone leading him along?

The main characters were interesting. I was able to guess whodunit, but like the detective, I wasn't completely sure until the very end. There was a fair amount of bad language. There were no sex scenes. Overall, I would recommend this complex and 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.

Friday, May 4, 2018

My Heart Belongs in Glenwood Springs, Colorado by Rebecca Jepson

book cover
My Heart Belongs in Glenwood Springs, Colorado
by Rebecca Jepson


ISBN-13: 9781683226031
Paperback: 265 pages
Publisher: Barbour Books
Released: May 1, 2018

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from Goodreads:
Millie Cooper, fisherman’s-daughter-turned-nurse, flees a painful entanglement with the wealthy Drexel family who summered near her childhood home in Nantucket, only to encounter them again six years later in Glenwood Springs. The serenity of Millie Cooper’s mountain hideaway is disrupted when she faces caring for the elderly mother and the expectant wife of Stephen Drexel, the man she’d once loved—at the request of John Drexel, the man who’d kept them apart. Will Millie forgive the wrongs she feels were done to her, or will she come to see them as a blessing in disguise that lead her to greater joys?


My Review:
My Heart Belongs in Glenwood Springs, Colorado is a Christian historical romance set in 1888 in Colorado. It reminded me of the movie "Sabrina," where the older, responsible brother tries to separate his younger, charming brother and the heroine but falls in love with the heroine himself.

In this book, you have the two brothers, but the story occurs after the heroine accepted money to leave the younger brother behind. She's become a nurse out in Colorado, but the rich family end up in the same small town. She's the only nurse available who can help the mother, who suffers from bad asthma. The younger brother has married and has children. The mother doesn't approve of the heroine. The heroine doesn't want to go, but she feels God is leading her to do so.

The Christian theme is about forgiveness and about God bringing good out of bad circumstances. The heroine is likeable, and I cared what happened to her. Unfortunately, the two brothers spent a lot of time avoiding her. In a romance, I prefer more scenes where the hero and heroine interact and fall in love. The author pushed the suspense to the very end, waiting until the very last minute to get the correct pair together. The setting and cultural historical details were woven into the story. There was no sex or bad language. Overall, I would 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.


Monday, April 30, 2018

The Weaver's Daughter by Sarah E. Ladd

book cover
The Weaver's Daughter
by Sarah E. Ladd


ISBN-13: 9780718011888
ebook: 320 pages
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Released: April 10, 2018

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through BookLook.

Book Description, Modified from Goodreads:
Henry Stockton, heir to the Stockton fortune, returns home from three years at war seeking refuge from his haunting memories. Determined to bury the past, he works to modernize his family's wool mill, regardless of the grumblings from the local weavers.

Henry has been warned about the Dearborne family. Kate, too, has been advised to stay far away from the Stocktons, but chance meetings continue to bring her to Henry's side. But a war is brewing in their small village, one that has the power to rip families asunder --including her own.

When tragedy strikes shortly after his arrival, Henry must sort truth from suspicion if he is to protect his family's livelihood and legacy. As misguided actions are brought to light, Kate learns how deep her father's pride and bitterness run, and she begins to wonder if her loyalty is well-placed. Kate ultimately finds herself with the powerful decision that will forever affect her village's future.


My Review:
The Weaver's Daughter is a romance set in 1812 in Yorkshire, England. The heroine was the daughter of a man who made cloth using traditional weaving methods, and they're losing their livelihood to mill owners, like the hero's grandfather. Sounds exciting, except I quickly realized that I knew more about the conflict than the author did. It seemed merely an excuse for conflict (summary version: "You're threatening my livelihood...stop or we'll destroy things!" "If I stop, others will still build and run mills plus many people will be unemployed." "How unreasonable you are! We will make you pay.").

Unfortunately, I also felt that the characters were often illogical and inconsistent in their behavior. For example, a man who saved Henry's life in the war turned up asking for a job. Henry needed guards to protect his mill. But rather than have a loyal, military-trained guard, Henry gave him a mill worker's job even though he was warned this would upset the locals.

Also, the character's motives kept changing (and usually not because circumstances changed or anything). For example, we're initially told that Kate won't agree to marry John because she's not sure if he wants her or just her father's business (even though he says that he loves and respects her and values her knowledge). Then we're told it's because she doesn't want to be dependent on anyone; she wants to be in control of her fate and the business. Later, it's because she's always known that John's a deceiver and manipulator (and this charge came out of nowhere).

The characters also had modern sensibilities. For example, Henry was an ex-military leader and was prepared to lead some men to defend his mill against an attack. He had full legal right to kill anyone destroying his property. Yet he refused to fight and just let them destroy his property until someone aimed a gun at one of his workers. Despite the risk of missing (more so as the pistols of the time weren't very accurate), Henry aimed at the attacker's leg in hopes of shooting and stopping him. This was not the mindset of a military man of the time.

The story ended with Henry promising never-ending love to a woman because she filled the empty spaces in his soul and he felt peace in her presence. I would have expected a Christian book to point to God for this, but God didn't really show up in this story. There was no sex. The bad language was written in the "he cursed" style rather than the actual words.


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, April 29, 2018

Storm Front by Susan May Warren

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Storm Front
by Susan May Warren


ISBN-13: 9780800727475
Paperback: 336 pages
Publisher: Revell
Released: May 1, 2018

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description from Back Cover:
A tornado has destroyed a small Minnesota community and among the missing are not only a group of students but PEAK Rescue team leader Chet King. Ty Remington will stop at nothing to rescue his mentor, not even when the girl he loved--and lost--walks back into his life. But Brette needs his help more than he knows, despite her stubborn determination to push him away. And when he gets a second chance, loving her just might cost him more than he can imagine.

A blogger for Vortex Storm Chasers, Brette Arnold didn't expect her adventures to land her in the same place as Ty, the guy who she walked--no, ran--from over a year ago. She had her reasons--good ones. The kind that tell her that falling for him again would only lead to heartache. But Ty isn't the kind of man to give up--not on the missing students, or on her.

Life and love hang in the balance in Susan May Warren's breathless story of holding on to hope during a deadly summer of storms.


My Review:
Storm Front is a Christian romantic suspense novel. It's the fifth book in a series. I'd recommend reading the previous books in the series as there are ongoing story lines that were further developed in this book. For example, Ben and Kacey's relationship crumbled as their wedding was canceled yet again. Some of the misunderstandings that they originally struggled with are back. They must work through their insecurities and the differences in their priorities. I appreciate that the author didn't portray everything as going smoothly just because a couple loves each other enough to get married.

The suspense in the story mainly came from tornadoes touching down nearby and the dangers involved in the rescue efforts.The characters were likeable people who reacted realistically to events. The PEAK Rescue team traveled to where Ben was on tour and searched for several missing people, including Chet. Ty struggled with his role on the team while refusing to give up hope during the search efforts. Brette lost hope as cancer ravaged her body, and she no longer feels like she has a future.

The Christian theme was how Christians can find hope in seemingly hopeless or sad situations. 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.

Friday, April 27, 2018

Wedding Cake Crumble by Jenn McKinlay

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Wedding Cake Crumble
by Jenn McKinlay


ISBN-13: 9780399583834
Mass Market Paperback:
288 pages
Publisher: Berkley Prime Crime
Released: April 3, 2018

Source: Review copy from the publisher.

Book Description from Goodreads:
With Angie and Tate's wedding just around the corner, it's a happy--but very busy--time for Mel. Not only is she doing double duty as both the maid of honor and best man, but her bakery, Fairy Tale Cupcakes, has just been hired to provide cupcakes for a famous author's book signing. But when the author turns up dead, it's just the start of a murder mystery that Mel must solve.


My Review:
Wedding Cake Crumble is a cozy mystery. It is the tenth book in a series, but you don't need to read the previous books to understand this one. This book did not spoil the mysteries in the previous books. However, the main focus of this book was the wedding between Angie and Tate and the romantic relationships of the other workers at the cupcake shop. I suspect that people who have read the previous books will find that content more interesting.

There were not very many clues in the mystery. Whodunit was on my suspect list from early on simply because we were not offered very many suspects. Mel figured out whodunit (and the motive) due to an inspiration at the end and was able to save the next victim on whodunit's list. Yay! But we never really learn how whodunit managed to successfully overpower and kill so many people, just the motive.

There was no sex. There was a fair amount of bad language. And, author, using a little "g" when the characters say, "Oh my god!" doesn't make the phrase less problematic...especially when it turned out that at least some of the characters saying it attend a Christian church and actually do believe in God. Overall, I liked the characters enough that I enjoyed the story, but I'd mainly recommend it to the series 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.