Friday, July 1, 2022

The Heart of the Mountains by Pepper Basham

Book cover
The Heart of the Mountains
by Pepper Basham


ISBN-13: 9781636093253
Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: Barbour Fiction
Released: July 1st 2022

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from Goodreads:
To escape a forced marriage, Cora Taylor travels from England to the Blue Ridge Mountains in search of her brother, who is working as a teacher in a mission school. She hopes to find a place where her nursing skills and independent ideas will be accepted and appreciated, but nothing prepares her for the wild mixture of isolation, community, brokenness, and hope within these mountains…or in the person of Jeb McAdams.

Returning from the devastation of World War 1 emotionally damaged, Jeb McAdams struggles against the rampant mountain alcoholism to soothe his nightmares. It’s easy to hide within the mountains, or it was, before Cora Taylor arrived. Now, she seems to show up at every turn, bringing her modern ideas, curiosity, and beautiful eyes with her.

Bound by their shared war history, the pair develop an unlikely friendship, which unexpectedly turns into something more. But when Cora’s desire to help the women of the mountains crosses an unspoken line, will Jeb be able to protect this feisty flatlander from the wrath of the mountain men?


My Review:
The Heart of the Mountains is a Christian romance set in 1919 in the Appalachian Mountains. Cora served as a nurse in WWI, and Jeb McAdams served as a soldier. They experienced things that changed them but which also gave them a different perspective that laid a foundation for a friendship. Cora joined her uncle and brother in the mountains to avoid a marriage she didn't desire but also to help the locals with her nursing skills. Some locals weren't happy to have another outsider influencing people, though. Between handling medical crisis and learning to avoid the dangers of the mountains (both animal and certain unfriendly people), Cora's friendship with Jeb grew as they spent time together.

The characters were complex and reacted realistically to events. The historical and setting details immersed me into the story and brought it alive in my imagination. Cora felt that God had used some bad circumstances to prompt her to go to a place where she'd find happiness and contentment helping others. There were no sex scenes or bad language. Overall, I'd recommend this enjoyable historical 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.


Thursday, June 30, 2022

The Nurse's Secret by Amanda Skenandore

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The Nurse's Secret
by Amanda Skenandore


ISBN-13: 9781496726537
Paperback: 304 pages
Publisher: Kensington
Released: June 28th 2022

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description from Goodreads:
In the slums of 1880s New York, Una Kelly has grown up to be a rough-and-tumble grifter, able to filch a pocketbook in five seconds flat. But when another con-woman pins her for a murder she didn't commit, Una is forced to flee. Running from the police, Una lies her way into an unlikely refuge: the nursing school at Bellevue Hospital.

Based on Florence Nightingale's nursing principles, Bellevue is the first school of its kind in the country. Where once nurses were assumed to be ignorant and unskilled, Bellevue prizes discipline, intellect, and moral character, and only young women of good breeding need apply. At first, Una balks at her prim classmates and the doctors' endless commands. Yet life on the streets has prepared her for the horrors of injury and disease found on the wards, and she slowly gains friendship and self-respect.

Just as she finds her footing, Una's suspicions about a patient's death put her at risk of exposure, and will force her to choose between her instinct for self-preservation, and exposing her identity in order to save others.

Amanda Skenandore brings her medical expertise to a page-turning story that explores the development of modern nursing--including the grisly realities of nineteenth-century medicine--as seen through the eyes of an intriguing and dynamic heroine.


My Review:
The Nurse's Secret is a suspense set in 1883 in New York City. Una has learned to look out for her own interests because she's had to take care of herself since she was a child. She's good at looking and acting respectable in order to pick people's pockets, but her habits aren't normally refined anymore. She cusses, drinks, steals. A rare act of kindness on her part ends up with her needing to avoid the police, making some bad decisions, witnessing a murder, and being arrested for that murder. She manages to escape and join a nursing school to hide from the police, but what she thought would be an easy disguise requires a lot more effort (and help from new friends) than she expected. Strangely, she spots more murders at the hospital, though it's not like she can report them to the police. Especially since no one else seems to think they are murders.

Though the murders were pivotal to Una's life, she didn't mystery-style investigate until nearly the end. Much of the story focused on what it was like to be a nurse, doctor, or nursing student at that time. The historical details were woven into the story and brought it alive in my imagination. The characters acted realistically. Una wasn't exactly likable at first, but I understood why she acted the way that she did. As time went on, friends who cared about her brought out her desire to help others even at risk to herself. The story stayed suspenseful as one bad decision after another left Una in danger of being thrown out of the school or spotted by the police. Again, I understood why she acted that way, and it was consistent with her character and past.

There were no sex scenes. There was a lot of bad language. Overall, I'd recommend this interesting historical.


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 26, 2022

Cold Case Killer Profile by Jessica R. Patch

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Cold Case Killer Profile
by Jessica R. Patch


ISBN-13: 9781335555106
Paperback: 224 pages
Publisher: Love Inspired Suspense
Released: June 28th 2022

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from Goodreads:
Searching for the perfect morning landscape to paint leads forensic artist Brigitte Linsey straight to a dead body—and a narrow escape from the Sunrise Serial Killer still on the scene. Now she’s become unfinished business and new prey. Working with FBI special agent Duke Jericho could mean putting the murderer away for good.


My Review:
Cold Case Killer Profile is a Christian romantic suspense novel. It's the second in a series, but it works as a standalone. Duke and Brigitte worked well together as a team. Duke and Brigitte respected each other's abilities and personalities, and they came to care for each other as they got to know each other. Both were reluctant to marry anyone due to witnessing bad marriages in the past.

Duke and Brigitte asked questions and followed up on leads. The mystery was a clue-based puzzle to solve. I suspected whodunit early on and the clues were consistent with that, though there were other possible suspects. The suspense came from repeated attacks on Brigitte and other possible witnesses to the identity of the killer.

The Christian element was trusting God through tough circumstances. There was no sex or bad language. Overall, I'd recommend this enjoyable romantic 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 24, 2022

Edward and Amelia by Karen Thornell

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Edward and Amelia
by Karen Thornell


ISBN-13: 9781524421052
Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: Covenant Communications
Released: June 6th 2022

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from Goodreads:
The last thing Amelia Kennington wants is to participate in the London Season. But the daughter of a duke is not afforded such opinions, so she submits to his plans. Beneath is a well-hidden fire that surfaces when provoked—such as when a gentleman startles her and she falls into the Serpentine.

Edward Drayton, the Earl of Norwich, has gained a reputation as a rake--a reputation that he intends to change. This Season, he plans to find a wife—except she seems to find him instead. And she is nothing like he expected.

Scandal is inevitable following Edward and Amelia’s accident-prone meeting, forcing them to marry. Amelia’s disdain for this man she hardly knows is more than clear, and Edward’s pride is wounded before their marriage has even truly begun. Yet, against all odds, the two slowly let their guard down. But when Society gossip, a sister’s jealousy, and long-held secrets threaten their budding relationship, the unlikely couple must determine if their love is strong enough to withstand the opposition they face.


My Review:
Edward and Amelia is a romance set in 1813 in England. It wasn't realistic historically nor did the characters act realistically. For example, even though it hadn't worked for any woman before them, woman after woman kept trying to trap Edward into marriage by getting in compromising situations with him only to have their reputations ruined. The eldest sister declared she wanted to marry a man with a high title but then actively worked to ruin the chances of happiness not only for her sisters but for herself by spreading scandalous rumors that would reflect poorly on her family. The friend who helped start the rumors clung to Edward at a public ball while flirting with him yet somehow everyone felt this shamed Amelia and gossiped about her instead of the flirt. These characters' actions made no sense.

Actually, the story didn't start off too bad. Edward didn't listen well because he was certain he knew what women liked. When Amelia said she didn't want to plan a dinner party, he basically told her that of course she would enjoy it and made her do it. When Amelia told him that she didn't like flattery, he eventually listened. Amelia refused to believe anyone would desire her because of her scars and because her family treated her so poorly. Edward slowly started to listen and open up.

But things got more and more absurd and nonsensical in order to keep them apart. Women kept visiting Edward in the evenings, but he didn't explain who they were or introduce them. Edward kept complimenting every woman he encountered (in front of his wife!) in an attempt to make them leave him alone. He wrote to the women that he'd ruined to apologize and left their letters on his desk where Amelia saw that he was still writing to these women. After weeks of marriage, Amelia received dozens of letters from "women ruined by Edward" within a few hours and yet she didn't suspect that they weren't genuine. She literally refused to listen to her husband try to explain the truth of his reputation. One moment, she reflected on how very little she knew about her husband but later felt that she knew her husband better than two friends who had known Edward his whole life. The author's efforts to keep them apart due to misunderstandings just became absurd. Frustratingly absurd. Not a satisfying read.

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.


Wednesday, June 22, 2022

Guilty Creatures by Martin Edwards

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Guilty Creatures
by Martin Edwards


ISBN-13: 9781464215841
Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: Poisoned Pen Press
Released: June 7th 2022

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description from NetGalley:
From the animal mysteries of Arthur Conan Doyle and F. Tennyson Jesse through to more modern masterpieces of the subgenre from Christianna Brand and Penelope Wallace, this anthology celebrates one of the liveliest and most imaginative species of classic crime fiction. The collection includes an introduction on animals in detective fiction by Martin Edwards.

Since the dawn of the crime fiction genre, animals of all kinds have played a memorable part in countless mysteries, and in a variety of roles: the perpetrator, the key witness, the sleuth's trusted companion. This collection of fourteen stories corrals plots centered around cats, dogs, and insects alongside more exotic incidents involving gorillas, parakeets, and serpents—complete with a customary shoal of red herrings.


My Review:
Guilty Creatures is a collection of 14 short story mysteries written between the 1890s and 1960s. These stories either had an animal as the intended victim (a racehorse, etc.) or an animal provided a clue or was a part of committing the crime. In one case, an animal was simply the excuse for buying the poison. Most of the cases were simply a walk-through of the events with the solution at the end, but a few were clue-based puzzle-mysteries. In general, I enjoyed the stories, and I hadn't read any of them before. I will note, though, that I didn't like the India viper story. The vipers in that story didn't act like what little I know about vipers and snakes. First, snakes can climb (even slick metal). Also, it's not like they could eat a human, so why would they come out of hiding to attack a human? Anyway. There were only a few uses of bad language. There were no sex scenes. Overall, the stories were interesting and enjoyable.


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 19, 2022

Long Way Home by Lynn Austin

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Long Way Home
by Lynn Austin


ISBN-13: 9781496437396
Paperback: 400 pages
Publisher: Tyndale House
Released: June 21st 2022

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from Goodreads:
Peggy Serrano couldn't wait for her best friend to come home from the war. But the Jimmy Barnett who returns is much different from the Jimmy who left, changed so drastically by his experience as a medic in Europe that he can barely function. When he attempts the unthinkable, his parents check him into the VA hospital. Peggy determines to help the Barnetts unravel what might have happened to send their son over the edge. She starts by contacting Jimmy's war buddies, trying to identify the mysterious woman in the photo they find in Jimmy's belongings.

Seven years earlier, sensing the rising tide against her people, Gisela Wolff and her family flee Germany aboard the passenger ship St. Louis, bound for Havana, Cuba. Gisela meets Sam Shapiro on board and the two fall quickly in love. But the ship is denied safe harbor and sent back to Europe. Thus begins Gisela's perilous journey of exile and survival, made possible only by the kindness and courage of a series of strangers she meets along the way, including one man who will change the course of her life.


My Review:
Long Way Home is a split story following Peggy in 1946 in New York City and Gisela in 1938 to 1946 in Europe and elsewhere. The whole story was well-written, so the characters seemed like real people, I cared about them, and the historical details immersed me in the story. But it's a heavy read. Gisela's family is Jewish, and they manage to escape Germany only for their ship to be denied refuge in Cuba, America, Canada. They ended up in a country that was soon invaded by Germany. Her story was full of sadness and tragedy, and she was rather helpless as her choices were mainly decided by others (parents, Germans, etc.).

Peggy's story was also filled with sadness. At least she kept trying to make things better even when the critical choices had to be made by others (Jimmy's parents, his friends, etc.). Through her efforts, not only did Jimmy slowly find healing but so did several of his war buddies. She also found people that appreciated her talents and caring personality when her own family didn't.

Those involved in the war struggled with how a loving, good, all-powerful God would allow such horrible things to happen. Throughout the story, different people commented on how they dealt with this. Peggy even used the words that Jimmy once spoke to her to help him to better understand God's character. She helped him see the light in the world brought by God's people. There was no sex or bad language. Overall, I'd recommend this book but understand that parts are very sad.


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 17, 2022

Death and Hard Cider by Barbara Hambly

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Death and Hard Cider
by Barbara Hambly


ISBN-13: 9780727850744
Hardcover: 256 pages
Publisher: Severn House
Released: June 7th 2022

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from Goodreads:
September, 1840. A giant rally is being planned in New Orleans to stir up support for presidential candidate William Henry Harrison: the Indian-killing, hard-cider-drinking, wannabe "people's president". Trained surgeon turned piano-player Benjamin January has little use for politicians. But the run-up to the rally is packed with balls and dinner parties, and the meagre pay is sorely needed.

Soon, however, January has more to worry about than keeping his beloved family fed and safe. During an elegant reception thrown by New Orleans' local Whig notables, the son of a prominent politician gets into a fight with a rival over beautiful young flirt Marie-Joyeuse Maginot - and, the day after the rally is over, Marie-Joyeuse turns up dead. The only black person amongst the initial suspects is arrested immediately: January's dear friend, Catherine Clisson.

With Catherine's life on the line, January is determined to uncover the truth and prove her innocence. But his adversaries are powerful politicians, and the clock is ticking...


My Review:
Death and Hard Cider is a mystery set in 1840 in New Orleans. This is the 19th book in a series, but it can be understood without reading the previous novels and didn't spoil the previous mysteries. The setting and historical details were woven into the story, creating a distinct sense of that specific time and place and bringing the story alive in my imagination.

Since the lead character is a free, well-educated black man, he was able to interreact with white men in a respectful manner. He was also able to get clues from the slaves and others who wouldn't trust the white law officer who worked with him to find out who killed the teenaged white girl. They asked questions, followed up on clues, and January's medical skill came in handy. There were clues and whodunit can be guessed, especially right around the same time as the main characters do. And then they have to definitively prove it. Whodunit's actively trying to kill those investigating, so there's danger along the way. The characters were interesting, complex, and acted in realistic ways.

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


Thursday, June 16, 2022

Elysium Tide by James R. Hannibal

Book cover
Elysium Tide
by James R. Hannibal


ISBN-13: 9780800738518
Paperback: 352 pages
Publisher: Revell
Released: June 1st 2022

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from NetGalley:
Dr. Peter Chesterfield is one of the Royal London Hospital's top neurosurgeons. He is also a workaholic, ordered by his boss to take a week off to attend a medical symposium at the luxurious Elysium Grand on the island of Maui. While there, Peter pulls a woman with a skull fracture from the water. Though he is able to revive her in the ambulance, she eventually dies in his arms, leaving him with only one clue to what happened to her: the word "honu."

Increasingly obsessed with discovering the cause of his patient's death, Peter becomes entangled in an ongoing investigation of a brazen luxury auto theft. He also becomes a source of unwanted advice to detective Lisa Kealoha, who has jurisdiction over the case. But when the two join forces, they begin to uncover a destructive plot that runs far deeper than either of them could have imagined. And if they're not careful, they're both going to end up dead.


My Review:
Elysium Tide is a mystery/suspense novel. Lisa is a good detective, finding leads and following up on them. She knows the people and the island. Peter is Sherlock-Holmes-type brilliant and isn't afraid to order others around--which doesn't make him friends even though his ideas are good ones. He notices details and draws accurate conclusions not immediately obvious to others. Often, both Lisa and Peter would come to the same location or conclusion though they got there by different deductive routes.

There were several crimes that were committed that needed to be solved. It wasn't initially clear if they were connected and, if so, how. It was an interesting mystery and filled with fights, car chases, and medical emergencies. I loved the character relationship dynamics between, well, everyone. Even the bad guys were interesting, realistic characters. Lisa's team had fun (though professional) interactions. I hope this is intended to be a series as the author set it up to include the possibility of future cases worked together.

Lisa believed in God, and she'd came to view him as a father after her own father died. Peter felt that belief in gods was primitive and misguided, but an intense near-death experience made him question that conclusion. There was no sex or bad language. Overall, I'd highly recommend this well-written and 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, June 12, 2022

Among the Innocent by Mary Alford

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Among the Innocent
by Mary Alford


ISBN-13: 9780800740269
Paperback: 297 pages
Publisher: Revell
Released: June 7th 2022

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description from Goodreads:
When Leah Miller's entire Amish family was murdered ten years ago, the person believed responsible took his own life. Since then, Leah left the Amish and joined the police force. Now, after another Amish woman is found murdered with the same MO, it becomes clear that the wrong man may have been blamed for her family's deaths.

As Leah and the new police chief, Dalton Cooper, work long hours struggling to fit the pieces together in order to catch the killer, they can't help but grow closer. When secrets from both of their pasts begin to surface, an unexpected connection between them is revealed. But this is only the beginning. Could it be that the former police chief framed an innocent man to keep the biggest secret of all buried? And what will it mean for Leah--and Dalton--when the full truth comes to light?


My Review:
Among the Innocent is a Christian romantic suspense. Unfortunately, the story had so many aspects that weren't realistic that I felt like I was watching a super-villain action movie. Early on, the police had a good sketch of the bad guy and, later, a recent photo, but the bad guy only had to put on sunglasses and a hat and no one recognized him. They repeatedly opened doors to him, after which he'd knock them out with one powerful punch. Dalton kept telling Leah that he'd keep her safe even after it was proven that neither of them could stop the guy from doing whatever he wanted. And the police made so many basic mistakes. For example, once someone finally shot the bad guy in the arm (and somehow this made him helpless), no one tried to handcuff or otherwise restrain him.

I didn't like that Dalton expected Leah to view the actual crime scenes. I had no problem with her interviewing the victim's families (which she was good at), but Leah felt like she had to be tough and work the scenes even though it was traumatizing. Dalton wanted to identify the true killer but didn't seem to do much except drive Leah around and schedule which officers would watch which family or empty barn. They were nice enough characters, but they came across as ineffectual. And the behavior of the previous police chief was completely illogical. Seriously illogical. However, the suspense was high throughout as one love-sick girl after another willingly sneaked off to see the killer even after being warned he was a killer. Will anyone survive?

There was no sex or bad language. Though the crime scenes were bloody, not much time was spent describing the gore (as in, it's not very graphic).


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 10, 2022

Sunburst by Susan May Warren

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Sunburst
by Susan May Warren


ISBN-13: 9780800739836
Paperback: 368 pages
Publisher: Revell
Released: June 7th 2022

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from Goodreads:
When former Navy SEAL and lifelong bachelor Ranger Kingston is called upon to take part in a rescue mission to save his brother Colt, who has been kidnapped by terrorists in Nigeria, he is shocked to find among the hostages a woman he knows and could never forget.

Noemi Sutton was attempting to return a young girl to her family in Boko Haram territory when she and the girl found themselves taken hostage, along with several others. And while Ranger Kingston may be able to get the hostages away from their captors, he'll need Noemi's help if he ever hopes to get out of Nigeria alive.

Her solution? Pose as husband and wife. But when her uncle discovers the union, he insists on a traditional Nigerian wedding. Worse, she's discovered the real reason she was kidnapped, and anyone around her is bound to be caught in the cross fire. Including her so-called new husband.


My Review:
Sunburst is a Christian romantic suspense. It's the second book in a series, but you can understand this book without reading the previous ones. Noemi didn't feel valued by her parents so she believed God didn't care about what happened to her and she should leave others before they leave her. Ranger's serious, focused, and committed to helping others even at a sacrifice to himself. Ranger repeatedly risked his life to help Noemi and said that he'd always come for her, but she kept wondering if Ranger just viewed her as a duty since he hadn't actually said, "I love you." Noemi and Ranger supported each other through the tough things they faced despite feeling that the other just viewed them as a friend. She helped Ranger dream of a different future than he'd planned on but could no longer have.

Since they're on the run from terrorists, the suspense stayed high throughout the story. The characters were complex, realistic people, and I cared about what happened to them. Noemi learned that God did care about her and both learned to trust God's love even when life wasn't turning out the way they would have liked. There was no sex or bad language. Overall, I'd recommend this suspenseful 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, June 8, 2022

Peril at Pennington Manor by Tracy Gardner

Book cover
Peril at Pennington Manor
by Tracy Gardner


ISBN-13: 9781643859064
Paperback: 304 pages
Publisher: Crooked Lane Books
Released: June 7th 2022

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from Goodreads:
Thanks to Aunt Midge’s unlikely friendship with Nicholas Pennington, the Duke of Valle Charme, Avery Ayers and her associates at Antiques and Artifacts Appraised head off to their most glamorous assignment yet—cataloguing and appraising the contents of a castle-like mansion on the Hudson River. But regal splendor becomes a backdrop to mayhem when the precious Viktor Petrova timepiece disappears—and housekeeper Suzanne Vick plummets from a parapet to her death.

Avery, her dad William, and colleagues Micah Abbott and Sir Robert Lane soon learn that Suzanne’s predecessor also met with an untimely end. Further, the housekeeper’s suspicious demise coincides with Avery’s discovery that many of the Duke’s most priceless heirlooms have been replaced by fakes.

Detective Art Smith lends his expertise, but the suspect list encompasses the Duke’s entire retinue—including his family. A criminal mastermind is making a desperate bid for ill-gotten riches…can Avery bring the culprit to justice before her time is up?


My Review:
Peril at Pennington Manor is a cozy mystery with a lot of family drama. At least a third of the book was Tilly's school woes, Avery's dating woes, marathon prep, and family drama (both hers and the royals). There were also some kittens and dates with Art. This was a clue-based mystery, but it had so much filler that I forgot to even care whodunit. Avery tended to jump to conclusions but Art would remind her of other possibilities. She was very nosy (even opening doors to bedrooms in an area where she wasn't supposed to be working, and in front of her detective boyfriend, who didn't even object). She eavesdropped (as did Art) to gather clues, but it ended up coming down to discovering who sold the stolen goods.

This book is the second in a series. I didn't need to read the previous book to understand this one, but I might have cared more about the family drama if I'd started with the first book. There was no sex. There was a fair amount of bad language. Overall, I'm recommend this to fans of family drama in their cozy mysteries.


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, June 6, 2022

Where the Road Bends by Rachel Fordham

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Where the Road Bends by Rachel Fordham

ISBN-13: 9780800739744
Paperback: 336 pages
Publisher: Revell
Released: June 1st 2022

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from Amazon:
As Norah King surveys her family land in Iowa in 1880, she is acutely aware that it is all she has left, and she will do everything in her power to save it--even if that means marrying a man she hardly knows. Days before her wedding, Norah discovers an injured man on her property. Her sense of duty compels her to take him in and nurse him back to health. Little does she realize just how much this act of kindness will complicate her life and threaten the future she's planned.

Penniless and homeless, Quincy Barnes knows the most honorable thing he can do is head on down the road and leave Norah to marry her intended. He vows to start over and help others like Norah helped him, but he can never forget her or the wrong he did to her, the one person who belived in him.


My Review:
Where the Road Bends is a Christian romance set mainly in 1882 in Iowa. Norah saved Quincy in the prologue, and they got along well, like old friends who could open up about their worries and past. When they realized that Quincy's presence threatened Norah's reputation, he left so she could marry her betrothed and save her beloved farm. He struggled to find a steady job, so when he discovered some money in the old clothes that Norah gave to him, he decided he needed it more than her. He bought a hotel, made it profitable, and helped others start anew. Yet he can't get rid of the guilt of taking her money. When he tries to repay it, he discovers that his actions hurt Norah more than he could have guessed. He does all he can to make things right and help her heal from what she's suffered.

The characters were likable, complex, and acted realistically. Their actions had serious consequences but their courage to stand for forgiveness and God's grace could change a whole (small) town. Historical and setting details were woven in and immersed me in the story. Quincy was determined to make Norah's dreams come true (from doing nothing but relaxing and reading books for a week to her bigger dreams) to show his love for her. There was no sex or bad language. Overall, I'd highly 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.


Sunday, June 5, 2022

Bayou Book Thief by Ellen Byron

Book cover
Bayou Book Thief
by Ellen Byron


ISBN-13: 9780593437612
Paperback: 304 pages
Publisher: Berkley
Released: June 7th 2022

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from Goodreads:
Twenty-eight-year-old widow Ricki James leaves Los Angeles to start a new life in New Orleans after her showboating actor husband perishes doing a stupid internet stunt. The Big Easy is where she was born and adopted by the NICU nurse who cared for her after Ricki's teen mother disappeared from the hospital.

Ricki's dream comes true when she joins the quirky staff of Bon Vee Culinary House Museum, the spectacular former Garden District home of late bon vivant Genevieve "Vee" Charbonnet, the city's legendary restauranteur. Ricki is excited about turning her avocation - collecting vintage cookbooks - into a vocation by launching the museum's gift shop, Miss Vee's Vintage Cookbooks and Kitchenware. Then she discovers that a box of donated vintage cookbooks contains the body of a cantankerous Bon Vee employee who was fired after being exposed as a book thief. The skills Ricky has developed ferreting out hidden vintage treasures come in handy for investigations.


My Review:
Bayou Book Thief is a cozy mystery. Ricki stumbled across a lot of crime, not all of it related to the murder. Since her last boss had been (unknown to her) pulling off a scam, she's more aware of the possibility now. She's a friendly, easy-to-talk-to sort of gal, and she's good at tracking a clue down to its source. The detective was overworked so didn't mind the tips. But she told Ricki to run the scenarios that her vivid imagination came up with through a logic test to see if her ideas were really reasonable before reporting them to the police. This was a clue-based puzzle mystery. As there were several crimes, I'll just say that some whodunits were more obvious while others needed a longer accumulation of clues to guess.

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


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


Wednesday, June 1, 2022

Missing Pieces by Hickey, Johnson, Lilly, Thompson

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Missing Pieces
by Cynthia Hickey;
Linda Baten Johnson;
Teresa Ives Lilly;
Janice Thompson


ISBN-13: 9781636092898
Paperback: 448 pages
Publisher: Barbour Fiction
Released: June 1st 2022

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from Goodreads:
What could go wrong when jigsaw puzzle enthusiasts get together?

Elvis Has Left the Building by Cynthia Hickey
Cee Cee is hosting a jigsaw puzzle party in Apple Blossom, Arkansas, and everyone is expected to bring a brand-new 500-piece jigsaw puzzle to work on that depicts something from the 1950s. With a vintage car show, vendors, live music, and a dance, the night promises to be a great one—until the Elvis impersonator is murdered and a priceless puzzle is missing.

The Puzzle King by Linda Baten Johnson
Jane enters a jigsaw puzzle competition at the Fargo, North Dakota, fairgrounds. When a fellow competitor is poisoned, all suspects are confined at the hotel during the investigation, and Jane is determined to use her puzzle-solving skills to root out the killer.

A Puzzling Weekend by Teresa Ives Lilly
Tabitha’s first event at her new bed and breakfast in Pumpkin City, Pennsylvania, is a jigsaw puzzle mystery weekend. All is going well until the hired cook is found stabbed to death. As the prime suspect, Tabitha works with the handsome investigator—and two wily beagle dogs—to clear her name.

Mystery at the Jigsaw Swap by Janice Thompson
Mariah hopes to sell her puzzles at a jigsaw puzzle convention in Camden, Maine, at the historic opera house. But her most valuable puzzle ends up missing when another vendor is stabbed to death.


My Review:
Missing Pieces is a collection of 4 short story cozy mysteries. They contained no sex or bad language. Unfortunately, there wasn't a smart heroine in the bunch and most of the stories weren't very realistic.

"Elvis Has Left the Building" seemed like a parody mocking cozy mysteries since it was illogical and unrealistic. The department's newest patrol officer was sent to do crowd control at the jigsaw puzzle event. He apparently always had evidence collection bags on his person, was then assigned to solve the murder case, and soon was helping Cee Cee break into a suspect's house in search of evidence. Earlier, Cee Cee was the one to point out to him that the puzzle in front of them was the missing puzzle, then they ran off to investigate the death scream. The officer/ex-boyfriend promptly accused her of killing the victim because there's a dark hair (like hers) on this guy that she had talked to several times throughout the night. He also accused her of stealing the puzzle. And he's the romantic interest. That's not romantic, in my opinion. 1 star.

"The Puzzle King" had some interesting information about jigsaw puzzle competitions woven into the story. I strongly suspected whodunit from the moment the murder was discovered. The sheriff in charge of the investigation basically accused Jane of murder before they even knew it was murder, all because Jane had given him some coffee. Despite several people warning Jane not to be alone with any of the suspects, what does she do? And once she finally figured out who the murderer was, she still did several very stupid things (to increase the suspense, I guess). Jane was always dense, asking again for information she'd already been told or genuinely thinking that rules didn't apply to her. It was hard to respect her as a sleuth. Still, it wasn't a bad story. 3 stars.

"A Puzzling Weekend" at least reads like a genuine cozy right down to the cute dogs that help solve whodunit. The heroine secretly likes the handsome detective, who goes to her church. Though she's obviously framed for the murder, he believed that she was innocent because he'd previously observed her character and genuine Christianity. He accepted any gossip she overheard but warned her to be careful and let him do the actual interviews and such. Of course, she had to push it but got a confession. I guessed whodunit even before the murder happened, though. 3.75 stars.

"Mystery at the Jigsaw Swap" is a "bumbling detective" type mystery that's meant to be funny but was just painful for me to read. Mariah didn't think she was good at detective work and just thinking about who was where when her puzzle was stolen gave her a headache. She felt like a loser and failure, but solving the mystery made her feel more like a success. She seemed a little out of touch with reality, like thinking the detective might be mutually attracted to her while she's standing there covered with garbage and stink from a dumpster dive. Or that the police should delay their arrest until she could be there to watch. Mariah solved the mystery by overhearing clues and suspecting and then eliminating all of the suspects until the solution was obvious even to her. 2 stars.


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, May 29, 2022

When the Day Comes by Gabrielle Meyer

Book cover
When the Day Comes
by Gabrielle Meyer


ISBN-13: 9780764239748
Paperback: 384 pages
Publisher: Bethany House
Released: May 3rd 2022

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from Goodreads:
Libby has been given a gift: to live one life in 1774 Colonial Williamsburg and the other in 1914 Gilded Age New York City. When she falls asleep in one life, she wakes up in the other. While she's the same person at her core in both times, she's leading two vastly different lives. On her twenty-first birthday, she must choose one path and forfeit the other.

In Colonial Williamsburg, Libby is a public printer for the House of Burgesses and the Royal Governor, trying to provide for her family and quietly support the Patriot cause. The man she loves, Henry Montgomery, has his own secrets. As the revolution draws near, both their lives--and any hope of love--are put in jeopardy.

Libby's life in 1914 New York is filled with wealth, drawing room conversations, and bachelors. Her mother is intent on marrying her off to an English marquess in hopes that she'll gain in her own social status. The possibility of war in Europe only complicates matters.


My Review:
When the Day Comes is a historical set in 1774 in Williamsburg, Virginia and 1914 in New York City. It was extremely predictable. At about a third of the way into the story, I told someone the setup and predicted "I bet these people die, this happens, she has to choose this way, but this happy ending is highly hinted at." Yup, it all happened. What I didn't predict was that the 1914 timeline went from her self-centered mother verbally abusing and emotionally manipulating her to, worse, a stranger husband that got drunk and raped her more than once. While the actual rapes were not a detailed scene, we're shown how Libby was emotionally devastated.

Male time-crossers are apparently told this gift allows them to be heroes in one timeline with the knowledge that, if they die, they'll still have a second life to live. They're encouraged to make history (and, I assume, stand against evil). The women are told to be very careful not to change history to the point they just kind of observe it. We're told that this important event or that one happened, but we mainly got scenes of Libby longing miserably for Henry, trying to financially support her indebted 1774 family, and a few social events. She was a part of one major historical event, yet I never felt immersed in the history. Libby was also told that if women time-crossers got pregnant, they must give up their choice of paths in order to sacrificially have and raise their children.

Libby believes that God placed her to be born to this cruel mother, and she must honor her mother. Libby's even told that, if she acts to change her circumstances, she will be playing God and going against God's plan for her. The message seemed to be that she should submit in abusive relationships to prove that she trusted God over wanting her own way. Well, I don't agree that it's wrong to try to get away from abusive relationships. And while I'd say that sinful people do harmful things and God can bring good even from things that happen due to living in an evil, fallen world, that's not really the message here. // 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, May 27, 2022

Written on the Wind by Elizabeth Camden

Book cover
Written on the Wind
by Elizabeth Camden


ISBN-13: 9780764238444
Paperback: 352 pages
Publisher: Bethany House
Released: May 3rd 2022

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from Goodreads:
Natalia Blackstone is a rarity in Gilded Age America. As a trusted analyst for her father's bank, she is helping finance the legendary Trans-Siberian Railway. From her office in New York City, Natalia relies on a charming Russian aristocrat to oversee the construction of the railroad on the other side of the world.

But while overseeing the work, Count Dimitri Sokolov witnesses the deadly result of the Russian Monarchy's will to see the railway built. To silence him, the state has stripped Dimitri of his title, his lands, and his freedom, but Dimitri has a key asset the czar knows nothing about: his deep friendship with Natalia Blackstone and his assets still invested at her father's bank.

From the steppes of Russia to the corridors of power in Washington, Natalia and Dimitri will fight against all odds to share the truth of what happened, but how can their newfound love survive the ordeal?


My Review:
Written on the Wind is a romance set in 1900 in New York, Washington, and Siberia. The characters reacted realistically, were complex, and I cared about what happened to them. Historical details about banks, the Trans-Siberian Railway, and politics were woven into the story. The setting and historical details immersed me in the story, bringing it alive in my imagination. It's a well-written story.

However, I was annoyed with Dimitri. He respected Natalia as a businesswoman but still felt totally justified in demanding that she cater to his every desire. He never really believed her when she told him that her father would fire her from the bank if her actions (on his behalf) made the bank look bad. I was relieved that Natalia wasn't willing to do everything Dimitri demanded and tried so hard to find a solution that would work for both her and Dimitri. But he kept pressuring her to make his wants her priority (as a Russian aristocrat who felt his cause was important would do) and only conceded where Natalia's reputation and desires as a woman became important. He did change some as time went on and always supported her skills as a businesswoman, but I didn't really understand her intense attraction to him during this time when he was essentially threatening the life that she loved.

Anyway, this was quite suspenseful. The first part was Dimitri's arrest, escape off the very railway that he'd helped build, and his dangerous journey through Siberia in winter. He faced danger from animals, people, and the weather. Natalia struggled with people who resented her and the changes happening in her life. Then they had to work together to do the impossible: force the czar to acknowledge what Dimitri had witnessed and confirm that the killing wouldn't happen again. There was no sex or bad language. Overall, I'd recommend this interesting historical 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, May 22, 2022

Surviving the Wilderness by Maggie K. Black

Book cover
Surviving the Wilderness
by Maggie K. Black


ISBN-13: 9781335555045
Paperback: 224 pages
Publisher: Love Inspired Suspense
Released: May 24th 2022

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from Goodreads:
When masked figures take his daughter, Master Corporal Jeff Connor will stop at nothing to rescue her—even if it means working with wilderness guide Quinn Dukes. As Quinn’s thrown into the line of fire too, Jeff will do everything in his power to uncover the kidnapper’s identity…and protect them both.


My Review:
Surviving the Wilderness is a Christian romantic suspense novel. Quinn is a skilled wilderness guide who learned some of her skills from Jeff before starting her own company. Jeff had a crush on Quinn, but his last serious relationship ended with the woman telling him that he was garbage and hiding the fact that she was pregnant. He doesn't feel worthy of a loving relationship with an amazing, talented woman like Quinn. He's now caring for his young daughter when she's kidnapped. Quinn's wilderness tour group gets caught in the middle of the armed kidnapping, and she helps Jeff go after his daughter.

Quinn and Jeff admired each other and worked well together. They really were better together as Jeff was extremely impulsive and often charged into a situation rather than thinking out a plan or working with others. (This also caused him problems when in the military.) Jeff realized that he needed to change if he was going to be a good father and a good husband, so he asked God's help with becoming a better man and with rescuing his daughter. The suspense came from the attacks by the bad guys, the danger to the child and others, and the danger created just by being in the wilderness. 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.


Friday, May 20, 2022

Fatal Code by Natalie Walters

Book cover
Fatal Code
by Natalie Walters


ISBN-13: 9780800739799
Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: Revell
Released: May 3rd 2022

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from Goodreads:
In 1964, a group of scientists called the Los Alamos Five came close to finishing a nuclear energy project for the United States government when they were abruptly disbanded. Now the granddaughter of one of those five scientists, aerospace engineer Elinor Mitchell, discovers that she has highly sensitive information on the project in her possession--and a target on her back.

SNAP agent and former Navy cryptologist Kekoa Young is tasked with monitoring Elinor. This is both convenient since she's his neighbor in Washington, DC, and decidedly inconvenient because . . . well, he kind of likes her.

As Elinor follows the clues her grandfather left behind to a top-secret nuclear project, Kekoa has no choice but to step in. When Elinor learns he has been spying on her, she's crushed. But with danger closing in on all sides, she'll have to trust him to ensure her discoveries stay out of enemy hands.


My Review:
Fatal Code is a Christian romantic suspense/mystery. This is the second book in a series, but it works as a stand alone and didn't spoil events from the previous novel.

The characters reacted realistically to events and came across as real people with genuine struggles. Kekoa wasn't able to protect his little brother and has never forgiven himself. When it's clear that Elinor's in danger, he's terrified that he won't be able to protect her, either, especially since he's a computer expert, not a warrior. As Kekoa and Elinor spent time together, they became friends and cared about each other. They shared interests and supported each other. The suspense came from lots of different people wanting the plans and program codes that Elinor possessed and their willingness to hurt and kill to get them.

Kekoa needed to release his feelings of guilt, accept forgiveness, and trust God was in control. 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.


Wednesday, May 18, 2022

An Unfamiliar Duke by Sian Ann Bessey

Book cover
An Unfamiliar Duke
by Sian Ann Bessey


ISBN-13: 9781524419912
Paperback: 290 pages
Publisher: Covenant Communications
Released: May 16th 2022

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from Goodreads:
At eleven years of age, Rosalind Ainsworth was convinced that Sebastian Lumley, the future Duke of Kelbrook, wanted nothing to do with her. And ten years later, after having had no contact with the nobleman in the intervening time, her opinion of him has not changed. Unfortunately, neither has the marriage contract their fathers signed soon after her birth.

As Rosalind’s twenty-first birthday and the appointed wedding day approaches, Sebastian makes a rare appearance in London. His first meeting with Rosalind since childhood goes less than perfectly, but both are willing to do their best to make their marriage work. After a quick wedding, the new couple relocates to Finley Park, where their acquaintanceship slowly blossoms into affection. But Sebastian’s time consuming work in his private workshop threatens their fledgling relationship. When Rosalind’s life is placed in jeopardy because of that work, Sebastian finds himself forced to choose between the man he has pledged to help and the woman he has come to love.


My Review:
An Unfamiliar Duke is a romance set in 1782 in England. Sebastian and Rosalind were betrothed at birth and didn't gain a positive impression of each other when they met as children. Sebastian still doesn't like social events and idle chatter (though he loves numbers and talking with inventors). However, he realized that he ought to do a little courting to get to know his bride before they married. Both agreed to have patience with each other's mistakes, and they did make mistakes as two people learning to join their lives together. They were willing to recognize and admit to mistakes and gave forgiveness when needed. Rosalind even tried to think of a good trait or action by Sebastian for every misstep he made so she wouldn't focus only on the negative.

Sebastian and Rosalind were thoughtful, kind, likable characters who reacted realistically to events. I cared about what happened to them. They found shared interests and came to appreciate and love each other. Some historical details were woven into the story, mainly about inventions, clothing, and manners. 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.


Sunday, May 15, 2022

Guarding His Secret by Jill Kemerer

Book cover
Guarding His Secret
by Jill Kemerer


ISBN-13: 9781335759290
Paperback: 224 pages
Publisher: Love Inspired
Released: May 24th 2022

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from Goodreads:
When a family crisis leaves rancher Randy Watkins caring for a surprise baby nephew, he turns to longtime friend Hannah Carr for help. But Randy has a heart condition—a secret he’s determined to hide…until Hannah’s clever retired service dog threatens to expose it. As friendship turns to something more, can Randy trust Hannah with the truth?


My Review:
Guarding His Secret is a Christian romance. Hannah is a caring woman who tries very hard to meet her carefully planned, high expectations. Just as she takes on a retired service dog and a puppy to train toward becoming a service dog, her friend Randy also asks for her help with minding his store and then his baby nephew. Nothing's going as planned. Since Randy inherited a heart condition from his dad, he needs to avoid stress. The retired service dog was trained to pick up on certain signals and can tell when Randy needs help and then acts to help calm him. Hannah sees that Randy and the service dog need each other more than she needs the dog as a pet, but it isn't until nearly the end that she actually learns about his heart problem.

Randy didn't want to pass his condition on to any children and knew Hannah would constantly worry if she knew. They enjoyed being together, but Hannah and Randy had to come to a place where they could trust God with an unknown future. There was no sex or bad language. Overall, I'd recommend this sweet 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.


Friday, May 13, 2022

The Woman in the Library by Sulari Gentill

Book cover
The Woman in the Library
by Sulari Gentill


ISBN-13: 9781464215872
Paperback: 288 pages
Publisher: Poisoned Pen Press
Released: May 10th 2022

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from Goodreads:
The ornate reading room at the Boston Public Library is quiet, until the tranquility is shattered by a woman's terrified scream. Security guards take charge immediately, instructing everyone inside to stay put until the threat is identified and contained. While they wait for the all-clear, four strangers sitting at the same table, pass the time in conversation and friendships are struck. Each has his or her own reasons for being in the reading room that morning—it just happens that one is a murderer.


My Review:
The Woman in the Library is part romance and part mystery. There's the woman's scream mystery story and a "real" (fictional) series of letters at the end of each chapter where a helper in Boston provided details about Boston and and a critique of the story to the author. This wannabe writer increasingly tried to influence the writing of the main story, so we see a battle begin as the author resisted certain suggestions. I began to wonder if the intended ending (from initial clues) might change because of this "outside" influence.

In the main story, it's a well-written story about four very different people becoming friends and a romance or two growing from this friendship. They talked about the woman's scream but didn't really play detective. The clues were still all there, and I did guess whodunit and how (though not why) right before the big reveal. The characters were engaging and reacted realistically to events. It's an unusual story and written in present tense, which I didn't even notice until nearly halfway through.

There was a fair amount of bad language. There was a brief sex scene that wasn't graphically, body-part described except for one sentence. Overall, I'd recommend the 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.


Wednesday, May 11, 2022

An English Garden Murder by Katie Gayle

Book cover
An English Garden Murder
by Katie Gayle


ISBN-13: 9781803140667
ebook: 264 pages
Publisher: Bookouture
Released: May 5th 2022

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from Goodreads:
Recently divorced and reluctantly retired, Julia Bird has fled London to enjoy idyllic rural life in the Cotswolds. Determined to have the perfect English garden, her first job is to tear down the old shed, where she unearths much more than she’d bargained for… A body, apparently buried for decades. But who could it be, and who killed them? The police draw a blank, and even the gossip-fest that is the local bookclub can’t remember anyone going missing in the village.

Unable to get on with her garden until the mystery is resolved, Julia decides to conduct her own investigations. So, together with her wayward chocolate Labrador puppy Jake, Julia begins a whirlwind tour of the local residents. And everyone, it seems, has something to hide in this village. As she gets closer to the truth, Julia uncovers something even more shocking… Another body, this time of someone she actually knows.


My Review:
An English Garden Murder is a cozy mystery. It's a clue-based mystery, and I correctly guessed whodunit shortly before Julia. She listened to the village gossip and used her skills learned as a social worker to track down information about the identity of the old murder victim. She made friends with the detective on the case and combined what they knew to come up with theories. The detective immediately pointed out the flaws in some of her ideas and looked into others. They made a good team with the unique information that each could gather. Whodunit was guessable but not immediately obvious.

I loved the heroine. There's an underlying humor to how the author portrayed her foibles and thoughts. Julia's a nice, intelligent person. She adopted a "bad boy!" puppy and liked to think about what a good boy he was when given a firm hand...oops! Off after a bird! Well, a very good boy when he's not being a bad boy. Charming puppy. There was some bad language (though much of it was British bad language). There was no sex. Overall, I'd recommend this delightful mystery.


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


Sunday, May 8, 2022

When the Meadow Blooms by Ann H. Gabhart

Book cover
When the Meadow Blooms
by Ann H. Gabhart


ISBN-13: 9780800737221
Paperback: 384 pages
Publisher: Revell
Released: May 1st 2022

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description from NetGalley:
If any place on God's earth was designed to help one heal, it is Meadowland. Surely here, at her brother-in-law's Kentucky farm, Rose and her daughters can recover from the events of the recent past--the loss of her husband during the 1918 influenza epidemic, her struggle with tuberculosis that required a stay at a sanatorium, and her girls' experience in an orphanage during her illness. At Meadowland, hope blooms as their past troubles become rich soil in which their faith can grow.

Dirk Meadows may have opened his home to his late brother's widow and her girls, but he keeps his heart tightly closed. The roots of his pain run deep, and the evidence of it is written across his face. Badly scarred by a fire and abandoned by the woman he loved, Dirk fiercely guards his heart from being hurt again. But it may be that his visitors will bring light back into his world and unlock the secret to true healing.


My Review:
When the Meadow Blooms is a Christian historical set in 1925 in Kentucky. Rose was told by her husband that his brother wanted to be left alone, so she's tried to manage being widowed and having tuberculosis by putting her daughters in an orphanage. It was only meant to be for a month or two while she recovered at a sanatorium, but years have past. She's started to suspect that her daughters are being abused, but her doctor doesn't want to release her unless she has someplace to continue to heal. In desperation, she asks her brother-in-law to help. To her surprise, he's willing to bring her family to Meadowland.

The first half of the story was suspenseful as the adults tried to work out how to retrieve the children from the abusive orphanage. We see events from the point of view of Rose, Dirk, and the children. Historical details were woven into the story which helped bring the story alive in my imagination. The characters were complex and grew as people as they faced the present difficulties and past events. There was some romance between Rose and Dirk as they spent time together. But Dirk had to heal from the past first, so much of the second half focused on what had happened to the girl he had intended to marry.

The children prayed to God for help and saw those prayers answered. There was no sex or bad language. Overall, I'd highly recommend this enjoyable historical.


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 6, 2022

Death in a Blackout by Jessica Ellicott

Book cover
Death in a Blackout
by Jessica Ellicott


ISBN-13: 9781448306527
Hardcover: 256 pages
Publisher: Severn House
Released: May 3rd 2022

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from Goodreads:
1940. Britain is at war. Rector's daughter Wilhelmina Harkness longs to do her duty for her country, but when her strict mother forbids her to enlist, their bitter argument has devasting consequences. Unwilling to stay in the village she loves, Wilhelmina - reinventing herself as Billie - accepts a cousin's offer to come for a visit to the British coastal city of Hull.

The last thing Billie expects on her first evening in Hull, however, is to be caught in the city's first air raid - or to stumble across the body of a young woman, suspiciously untouched by debris. If the air raid didn't kill the glamorous stranger, what did? Billie is determined to get justice, and her persistence earns her an invitation to the newly formed Women's Police Constabulary. But as the case unfolds, putting her at odds with both high-ranking members of the force as well as the victim's powerful family, Billie begins to wonder if she can trust her new friends and colleagues or if someone amongst them is working for the enemy.


My Review:
Death in a Blackout is a mystery set in 1940 in England. It's more of a historical as the first two-thirds of the story didn't focus on the mystery. At that point, newly-sworn-in police constable Wilhelmina and her partner actively asked questions, followed up on leads, and put things together. Historical details provided a distinct sense of time and place, but they were so heavily added that they slowed the pacing. For example, Wilhelmina was supposed to ask questions while a woman did her mending, but instead she watched a sock get mended (in detail) then thought about how people were now encouraged to mend things and why. This could have been cut without changing the story.

The characters were likable but I got little sense of their personalities. We're told a bit about them, but their thoughts and speech patterns were similar and rather monotone. Wilhelmina was extremely observant, focused to the point of not noticing danger, and devoted to justice, but we're never told why she's like this. While the mystery was complex enough that the solution wasn't obvious, this feeling that the characters were stilted and had no real, personality- and motive-forming past beyond the beginning of the book dropped my enjoyment of the story.

There was no sex. There were a couple uses of bad language. Overall, I might recommend this to fans of historical novels that contain a mystery.


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


Sunday, May 1, 2022

A Promise Engraved by Liz Tolsma

Book cover
A Promise Engraved
by Liz Tolsma


ISBN-13: 9781636092492
Paperback: 224 pages
Publisher: Barbour Fiction
Released: May 1st 2022

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description from Goodreads:
Young, spirited Josie Wilkins' life is about to take a turn when faced with political turmoil and forbidden love in San Antonio of 1836. John Gilbert has won her heart, despite being a Protestant preacher who is forbidden to practice his faith in Texas. Will either of them survive an epic battle for liberty to create a legacy of love?

Nearly 200 years later, Kayleigh Hernandez takes breaks from her demanding job as a refugee coordinator working with Mexican migrants to attend flea markets where she has found a uniquely engraved ring. Enlisting the help of appraiser Brandon Shuman, they piece together a love story long forgotten. But will dangers linked to Kayleigh’s work end her own hopes for leaving a legacy built on hope, faith, and love?


My Review:
A Promise Engraved is set during two time periods: the fight for Texan independence in 1835 to 1836 and the present day. In 1835, Josie faced danger as an enemy Mexican soldier kept trying to rape her. (There were no rape scenes because either she's resourceful enough to get away, her love interest saved her, or rape was referred to in the past without details.) She was also in danger because the Texans were fighting for their independence and she worked as a scout and messenger for them. She underwent a lot of pain and loss, but she found healing as she trusted God to carry more of her hurts and fears. Her romance with John started as mutual admiration and grew as they spent time together. They supported each other.

In the present day, Kayleigh bought a used ring which she later learned was used by Josie to carry military messages. Kayleigh worked with jewelry store owner Brandon to research the ring's past. Then someone started stalking her. Since Brandon was always nearby to come to her aid, a cop questioned if Brandon was the stalker and not a man from Kayleigh's past. Or maybe the attacks had something to do with her job. As much as she liked spending time with Brandon, he also had a claim on the ring and she didn't want to give it up. This prevented her from really trusting him until the attacker could be identified and stopped.

There were no sex scenes or bad language. Overall, I'd recommend this enjoyable romance and interesting historical.


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, April 29, 2022

Murder on Madison Square by Victoria Thompson

Book cover
Murder on Madison Square
by Victoria Thompson


ISBN-13: 9780593337066
Hardcover: 352 pages
Publisher: Berkley
Released: April 26th 2022

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from Goodreads:
Former policeman Frank Malloy is frustrated when a woman requests his private detective services to implicate her wealthy husband in adultery, the only legal grounds for divorce in New York state. Although Mrs. Bing seems genuinely distressed about her marriage and desperate to end it, she refuses to tell Frank the reason she absolutely must divorce her husband and admits she has no legal grounds. Frank explains he won't manufacture evidence for her and sends her on her way.

The following week, Frank and Sarah attend the first ever auto show in Madison Square Garden when they happen to meet the woman's husband, Alfred Bing, who has invested in a company that produces one of the electric motorcars on display. A few days later, the newspapers report that millionaire Alvin Bing has been found dead, pinned beneath one of the wheels of his very own motorcar. But who was driving it? The obvious suspect is Mrs. Bing, but Frank and Sarah find that nothing is as it seems in their puzzling, dangerous search for truth.


My Review:
Murder on Madison Square is a historical mystery set in New York City in 1900. This is the 25th 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. Frank, Gino, Sarah, and Maeve helped with the investigation and used their unique skill sets. They asked good questions, but they seemed oddly dense about noticing the obvious considering the information they're told. Sarah, at least, should have caught on to what was happening much sooner based on her experiences as a midwife. I caught on from the beginning, so I only strongly suspected two people. Whodunit became clearer as they collected clues and whodunit was guessable based on those clues.

Some interesting historical details about automobiles and divorce laws were woven into the story. The main characters were nice, engaging 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.


Sunday, April 24, 2022

The Adventure of the Purloined Portrait by Liese Sherwood-Fabre

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The Adventure of the Purloined Portrait
by Liese Sherwood-Fabre


ISBN-13: 9781952408151
ebook: 314 pages
Publisher: Little Elm Press
Released: April 27th 2022

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from Goodreads:
Sherlock's mother hasn't been herself for months. Her unrest has put everyone on edge even before they leave for a summer in Paris. When they seek to discover who murdered one of Mrs. Holmes' former suitors, old secrets emerge that endanger the whole Holmes family. Can Sherlock uncover the truth before the past buries them all?


My Review:
The Adventure of the Purloined Portrait is a mystery set in 1868 in France. It's the forth book in a series, but it works as a standalone novel as well. The main character is a teenaged Sherlock Holmes, and the story shows how he learned to be a detective. I felt like the author did a good job of capturing the personalities of Sherlock and Mycroft as they developed toward the adult characters.

The author has deeply researched this time period. Historical details were woven into the story, bringing the setting and manners alive in my imagination without slowing the pacing. The characters were logical, asked good questions, and followed up on clues. Whodunit and the bad guys were guessable from the clues, and Sherlock's ideas about what had happened and why were confirmed after Sherlock was captured by them. The official detective on the case also played a role in capturing the bad guys. There was no sex or bad language. Overall, I'd recommend this enjoyable 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.


Friday, April 22, 2022

Death Valley Hideout by Dana Mentink

Book cover
Death Valley Hideout
by Dana Mentink


ISBN-13: 9781335554994
Paperback: 224 pages
Publisher: Love Inspired Suspense
Released: April 26th 2022

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from Goodreads:
Placed in WITSEC while his brother testifies against a terrifying criminal, Tony Ortega must guard his young niece and nephew from the hit man hunting for them. Death Valley local Willow Duke’s hideout might just be the difference between the little family’s life or death. When bullets start flying, can they thwart a killer long enough to survive and become a family for real?


My Review:
Death Valley Hideout is a Christian romantic suspense novel. It's the fourth in a series, but it works as a standalone. Tony worked to keep himself and his brother's children safe while a corrupt man tried to capture the children to use them against Tony's brother, who was the main witness in a trial against him. The suspense came from repeated attacks on Tony and his family. Willow wasn't trained to fight, but she's loyal, brave, and resourceful and found useful ways to help Tony and protect the kids. Go, girl.

The main characters were engaging and reacted realistically to events. Tony and Willow worked well together and encouraged each other. (I do wonder, however, where that much water came from since they're in Death Valley.) Tony taught his nephew to pray to God when scared, and both Willow and Tony were Christians. There was no sex or bad language. Overall, I'd recommend this enjoyable romantic 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.


Sunday, April 17, 2022

When Blood Lies by C.S. Harris

Book cover
When Blood Lies
by C.S. Harris


ISBN-13: 9780593102695
Paperback: 336 pages
Publisher: Berkley
Released: April 5th 2022

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description from Goodreads:
March, 1815. The Bourbon King Louis XVIII has been restored to the throne of France, Napoleon is in exile on the isle of Elba, and Sebastian St. Cyr, Viscount Devlin, and his wife, Hero, have traveled to Paris in hopes of tracing his long-lost mother, Sophie, the errant Countess of Hendon. But his search ends in tragedy when he comes upon the dying Countess in the wasteland at the tip of the Île de la Cité. Stabbed—apparently with a stiletto—and thrown from the bastions of the island’s ancient stone bridge, Sophie dies without naming her murderer.

Sophie had been living in Paris under an assumed name as the mistress of Maréchal Alexandre McClellan, the scion of a noble Scottish Jacobite family that took refuge in France after the Forty-Five Rebellion. Once one of Napoleon’s most trusted and successful generals, McClellan has now sworn allegiance to the Bourbons and is serving in the delegation negotiating on behalf of France at the Congress of Vienna. It doesn’t take Sebastian long to realize that the French authorities have no interest in involving themselves in the murder of a notorious Englishwoman at such a delicate time. And so, grieving and shattered by his mother’s death, Sebastian takes it upon himself to hunt down her killer.


My Review:
When Blood Lies is a mystery set in March 1815 in Paris. This book is the 17th in a series. You can understand it without having read the previous novels, and it didn't spoil the whodunits of the previous mysteries.

The historical and setting information was woven into the story without slowing the pacing. It created a distinct feeling of that specific time and place and helped bring the story alive in my imagination. The characters were interesting, complex, and acted in realistic ways. Both Hero and Sebastian were involved in the investigation, though Sebastian was the main investigator. He tracked down leads and asked good questions. He learned that his mother was carrying something that many wanted to have, but which of them killed her and where did the object end up? There were plenty of clues and suspects, but you can't fully narrow down whodunit until the final clues at the end.

There were no graphic sex scenes. There was some bad language. Overall, I'd highly 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, April 15, 2022

Facing the Enemy by Paige Edwards

Book cover
Facing the Enemy
by Paige Edwards


ISBN-13: 9781524420994
Paperback: 376 pages
Publisher: Covenant Communications
Released: April 4th 2022

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description from Goodreads:
Lady Elise Henderson lives two separate lives. At home in Scotland, she’s the titled daughter of the Marquess of Roxbury, an heiress in her own right. In London, however, she’s Elise Taylor, a top MI6 operative for the “home office.” But when a devastating accident threatens to end her career, Elise is left with far too much time for self-reflection and the regret of a decision made long ago that features one man: fellow MI6 agent Harry Benson.

Harry Benson, the son of servants, has loved Elise for the better part of a decade. But life took them on separate journeys until their worlds converged once more. An immediate assignment to the Scottish Borders leaves Harry little time to make provisions for his small, rambunctious son, Sammy. Harry knows only one person he can rely on for the boy’s care—Elise. When Elise brings Sammy to her ancestral estate, she never imagines that a nemesis from her past looms in the shadows, hungry for revenge. Stalked at every turn, Elise and Harry discover that fighting their feelings for one another is futile, but can they survive long enough to get another shot at true love?


My Review:
Facing the Enemy is a romantic suspense. Elise has been more interested in making a difference through her job than in marriage and children. Repeated injuries mean she'll no longer be able to do the job or have children. She's attracted to Harry, who admires her abilities and confidence, but he has one son already and surely will want more. Besides, would she even be a good mother? When Harry asks her to care for his son while he's working undercover nearby, his child gets into all sorts of trouble. It gets even worse when a bad guy comes after her to take revenge.

First, the son was eight years old, which is old enough that he ought to have understood the reality of "danger" and have some idea about what could get him hurt. But he didn't, and it was more than just a boy being adventurous. Near the end, he even left hiding to wander off after Elise warned him about the danger and the need to hide until she came back. But he got bored after a few minutes. He also didn't seem to understand that the bad guys weren't playing a game. I couldn't decide if the author was pushing his behavior to create suspenseful situations or if he had metal issues that Harry simply didn't acknowledge.

Anyway, Harry had a mystery to solve, and they all got into plenty of dangerous situations. Harry's and Elise's feelings for each other grew as they worked together. Elise had some character growth in addition to just trying to survive. 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, April 13, 2022

The Catch by Lisa Harris

Book cover
The Catch
by Lisa Harris


ISBN-13: 9780800737320
Paperback: 352 pages
Publisher: Revell
Released: April 5th 2022

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from Goodreads:
After a harrowing attempt on a judge's life at the courthouse, Deputy US Marshals Madison James and Jonas Quinn are tasked with finding a missing woman and an endangered child in connection to the murder of the judge's wife. What seems like a fairly straightforward case becomes hopelessly tangled when the marshals discover that the woman they are searching for is in witness protection and the Amber Alert put out for the missing child has put two lives in danger.

Madison and Jonas are forced into a race to find the woman and the child before the men who want her dead discover her location. And in a final showdown that could cost her everything, Madison will come face-to-face with the person who murdered her husband.


My Review:
The Catch is a Christian romantic suspense novel. This is the third book in a series and continues the story of US Marshals Madison and Jonas, but you can understand what's going on without reading the previous books. However, this book wrapped up some ongoing events from the previous books (like the mystery of who killed Madison's husband), so it'd be more satisfying to read the books in order.

The main characters reacted realistically to events. Madison continued to struggle with the uncertainty of who shot her and the insecurity that created. Madison and Jonas worked together to find the missing baby and his babysitter before the bad guys. They followed up on the clues to find the missing child and uncover the truth about the murders. They worked well together and trusted the other's skills and instincts. The high level of suspense came from trying to find the targets before the bad guys and the dangers of the job.

Madison and the babysitter talked about how one can trust God when it seems like everything is going wrong and when loved ones died. There was no sex or bad language. Overall, I 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, April 10, 2022

Love's Legacy by Natalie Kleinman

Book cover
Love's Legacy
by Natalie Kleinman


ISBN-13: 9781800556461
Kindle: 225 pages
Publisher: Sapere Books
Released: March 9th 2022

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from Goodreads:
When her father — a countryside reverend — dies suddenly, young Patience Worthington is left with no home and little money. In urgent need of support, she is forced to seek out her estranged uncle, a viscount at the vast Worthington Place. Patience arrives to find that her uncle has died and that the current viscount is her cousin, Gideon. After hearing her plight, he agrees to give her a home on the Worthington estate.

However, when Patience and Gideon learn the cause of the long-standing rift between the two sides of the family, they quickly begin to clash. Too proud to accept the viscount’s charity, Patience soon leaves Worthington Place to seek shelter with her late mother’s relatives in Bath. With her kindness and beauty, Patience is an instant success in Bath society and regularly crosses paths with Gideon. Despite their differences, they enjoy each other’s company when they aren't causing offense to each other.


My Review:
Love's Legacy is a Regency romance. The story was told in a distant point of view, where we're told what everyone is thinking and doing, but we never got inside someone's head. The characters were both bland (with little distinct about them) and superficial. From the moment they met, Patience and Gideon offended each other and would act coldly toward the other until, suddenly, they were all friendly again though usually nothing had been resolved. Each was too proud to apologize or to explain a misunderstanding. For example, Gideon withheld even the most general explanation about why he warned her away from a bad guy. Patience refused to trust his judgment and even though she didn't like the guy, she kept him as a friend to defy Gideon's attempt to 'control' her. We're told that they sometimes got along and managed not to offend the other for a week or two, but the actual scenes mostly showed them in conflict. Then, at the very end, nothing had really changed but one kiss convinced Patience that this was true love and suddenly they're in perfect accord.

Patience had two suitors that she got along with very well, and she went to them when she needed help or advice. But she rejected them because there was no "spark" (um, fighting?). Incidentally, the main characters all had very modern views, which brings up the numerous historical inaccuracies. For example, characters tended to just show up at people's doors without writing to tell them that they were coming. Patience just showed up on her uncle's doorstep (from whom her family was estranged) in the evening, without sending a letter ahead about her visit, and with no plans to stay at an inn. She simply assumed he'd read the letter from her father (though she didn't know what it said) and provide her with a home and financial support. Wow! Then there was a scandal that, um, wasn't a scandal that's at the root of their family conflict. (Her mother pursued her best friend's betrothed before she knew they were betrothed, then immediately backed off when told and wished them happy. She was disowned even though the people who waited to tell her were at fault.)

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.