Sunday, November 19, 2017

Better Late Than Never by Jenn McKinlay

book cover
Better Late Than Never
by Jenn McKinlay


ISBN-13: 9780451488640
Mass Market Paperback:
304 pages
Publisher: Berkley Prime Crime
Released: Nov. 7, 2017

Source: Review copy from the publisher.

Book Description, Modified from Goodreads:
When the Briar Creek Public Library holds its first overdue book amnesty day--no fines for late returns--the volume of incoming materials is more than Lindsey and her staff can handle. But one tardy tome catches her attention--a copy of J. D. Salinger's The Catcher in the Rye, twenty years past due. When Lindsey looks up the borrower, she's shocked to discover it was a murdered teacher named Candice Whitley, whose killer was never found. Candice checked out the novel on the day she was murdered. Now Lindsey wonders if it could provide a clue to the decades-old cold case. No one noticed who brought the book back in, but could it be Candice's killer? Lindsey is determined to catch the culprit one way or another, because justice for Candice Whitley is long overdue...


My Review:
Better Late Than Never is a cozy mystery. It's the seventh in a series. You don't need to read the previous books to understand this one, and this book didn't spoil the whodunits of the previous mysteries.

This was a clue-based mystery. Lindsey picked up on connections between the cold case and some current events, asked questions, and looked at old pictures of the people involved. Because of her ability to make connections, Lindsey asked a critical question that would narrow things down and figured out whodunit right before finding herself in danger from that person. The main characters were entertaining, quirky, nice people.

There were no sex scenes. There was occasional use of bad language. Overall, it was an enjoyable novel.


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


Excerpt: Read an excerpt using Google Preview.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

City of Lies by Victoria Thompson

book cover
City of Lies
by Victoria Thompson


ISBN-13: 9780399586576
Hardcover: 304 pages
Publisher: Berkley Prime Crime
Released: Nov. 7, 2017

Source: Review copy from the publisher.

Book Description, Modified from Goodreads:
Like most women, Elizabeth Miles assumes many roles; unlike most, hers have made her a woman on the run. Living on the edge of society, Elizabeth uses her guile to relieve so-called respectable men of their ill-gotten gains. But brutal and greedy entrepreneur Oscar Thornton is out for blood. He’s lost a great deal of money and is not going to forgive a woman for outwitting him. With his thugs hot on her trail, Elizabeth seizes the moment to blend in with a group of suffragists who have an agenda of their own.

She never expects to like or understand these privileged women, but she soon comes to respect their intentions, forming an unlikely bond with two of the women--a young woman her own age and an older woman with a grown son, Gideon. Gideon is the rarest of species—an honest man in a dishonest world. She knows she’s playing a risky game, and her deception could be revealed at any moment, possibly even by sharp-eyed Gideon. Nor has she been forgotten by Thornton. Elizabeth must draw on her wits and every last ounce of courage she possesses to keep her new life from being cut short by this vicious shadow from her past.


My Review:
City of Lies is a historical suspense set in 1917, mainly in New York. Elizabeth works as part of a group to con wealthy men. When a con goes wrong and thugs are on her heels, she joins a group of suffragists and makes sure they get arrested. She'll be safer in jail! However, these suffragists are treated poorly and decide to go on a hunger strike. That wasn't what she had in mind. Still, Elizabeth becomes genuine friends with two of the women while Gideon works to get his mother and the other women freed.

The man that she helped con is determined to get his revenge, so Elizabeth must use all her wits (and many lies) to stay alive. I was never sure quite what was going to happen next. Both the type of con and what the suffragists went through are historically accurate, though our main characters are, of course, fictional. It's an interesting bit of history, cleverly woven into the exciting story.

While I understand that Elizabeth's pretty and that Gideon likes strong women, I still wonder about a man who refuses to lie falling for a woman who lies to the point he can't identify when she's telling the truth. There was a minor amount of bad language. There was no sex. Overall, I'd highly recommend this exciting 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.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Repost: Lady Jayne Disappears by Joanna Davidson Politano

I believe Revell is asking me to post my review of this book now even though I already posted it last month. So, to keep the publisher happy, here's a repost. For those getting my review via email, my usual Friday book review (for a new Christian historical romantic comedy) may be at the bottom of this 3-review stack.

book cover
Lady Jayne Disappears
by Joanna Davidson Politano


ISBN-13: 9780800728755
Paperback: 411 pages
Publisher: Revell
Released: Oct. 3, 2017

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from NetGalley:
When Aurelie Harcourt's father dies in debtor's prison, all he leaves her is his famous pen name, Nathaniel Droll. His wealthy sister gives her a home the moment she learns about her existence, but her daughter greets her with resentment. Only the quiet houseguest, Silas Rotherham, and her aunt's granddaughter welcomes her company.

Aurelie decides to complete her father's unfinished serial novel while searching for the truth about the disappearance of Lady Jayne, her mother. She deals with her anger at how the family treats her by writing the family into the story as unflattering characters. But this soon makes it difficult to keep her identity as Nathaniel Droll hidden.


My Review:
Lady Jayne Disappears is Christian romance set in 1861 in England. The book was mostly about Aurelie learning to write stories. She did little investigation into her mother's disappearance, generally content with her own explanations. The moment she met a person, she'd write a fictional story for them, not bothering to learn the truth until reality forced her to change her opinion.

I liked Silas, who was kind and thoughtful. Aurelie seemed an unintentional contradiction, though. She grew up among prisoners, which allows her to write realistic characters. Yet she usually acted like she grew up completely sheltered from the real world. She's very trusting, idealistic, and sweet. She easily overlooked sin in practically everyone but was very judgmental of her own relatives.

Unfortunately, the story wasn't very realistic or historically accurate. Some errors were little details, like the description of the whist game didn't sound like how whist was actually played. Or inconsistencies, like how Silas was surprised that the jail-keeper didn't fed the prisoners free meat each day. Silas was poor once and should have known that the poor could rarely afford meat. He also wouldn't have expected the jail-keeper to spend his own money to provide it. Many details about debtor's prison were portrayed in a misleading or inaccurate way. For example, Aurelie stated that the debtors weren't allowed to work (except her father). In real life, debtors could work within the prison to earn money, some debtor's were allowed to leave during the day to work, and family members could work. The author also gave the heroine and hero modern views and sometimes characters used modern phrases.

Aurelie was a strong Christian who meditated on verses and frequently prayed for people. There was no sex or bad language. Overall, I enjoyed the characters, but many holes in the story were never explained and errors and inconsistencies kept jerking me out of 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.


Excerpt: Read an excerpt using Google Preview.

Repost: Dangerous Illusions by Irene Hannon

I believe Revell is asking me to post my review of this book now even though I already posted it last month. So, to keep the publisher happy, here's a repost of an excellent book.

book cover
Dangerous Illusions
by Irene Hannon


ISBN-13: 9780800727673
Paperback: 352 pages
Publisher: Revell
Released: Oct. 3, 2017

Source: Review copy from the publisher.

Book Description from Gooderads:
Trish Bailey is on overload trying to deal with a demanding job, an ailing mother, and a healing heart. When a series of unsettling memory lapses leads to a tragic death--and puts Trish under police scrutiny--her world is once again thrown into turmoil.

Detective Colin Flynn isn't certain what to think of the facts he uncovers during his investigation. Did Trish simply make a terrible mistake or is there more to the case than meets the eye? As he searches for answers, disturbing information begins to emerge--and if the forces at work are as evil as he suspects, the situation isn't just dangerous . . . it's deadly.


My Review:
Dangerous Illusions is a Christian romantic suspense novel. It's the first book in a new series, but it's also a stand-alone novel. It's one of my favorite by this author.

Trish has been through a lot of loss and heartbreak. She's used to taking care of herself (and others), so she initially had a hard time "bothering" Colin to ask for help. But even though she's independent, she was sensible and wasn't stubborn about having her own way.

We know who the cruel bad guy is and his goals, so we can see the danger even when Trish has every reason to think there is none. Still, Trish did start putting the pieces together pretty quickly, told her idea to Colin, and he promptly investigated the angle she suggested. I liked that he was supportive, caring, and respected her. While I strongly suspected how the end suspense was going to play out, I still had a pounding heart as I read it, partly because she was afraid and I cared about what she was going through.

The main characters were Christians, though Colin started out feeling like praying was pointless. We mainly saw their faith through how they treated people and what they cared about. There were no sex scenes or bad language. Overall, I'd recommend this suspenseful, intriguing 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.

Out of the Ordinary by Jen Turano

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Out of the Ordinary
by Jen Turano


ISBN-13: 9780764217951
Paperback: 352 pages
Publisher: Bethany House
Released: Nov. 7, 2017

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from NetGalley:
As Miss Gertrude Cadwalader, paid companion, becomes acquainted with her employer, she realizes the wealthy Mrs. Davenport has a strange tendency to be a bit light-fingered with other people's trinkets. Gertrude is relieved when Mrs. Davenport decides to have a quiet summer away from the social scene--until the woman changes her mind in order to help a young socialite launch into society.

When Gertrude is caught in the act of trying to return one of the trinkets by Mrs. Sinclair, the mother of shipping magnate Harrison Sinclair, the woman jumps to an unfortunate conclusion. Harrison is determined to mend fences with Miss Cadwalader, but he's unprepared for the escapades that courting her will entail.


My Review:
Out of the Ordinary is a Christian romantic comedy set in June 1883 in New York. It's the second in a series. This book can be read as a stand alone since each book has different main characters. However, Gertrude and Harrison first meet in the previous book, so they refer back to events in that book, and the main characters in the previous novel played a role in this one.

The main characters were nice people with a good sense of humor. They ended up in a series of silly situations during which they got to know and care about each other. There were some phrases that were too modern and some behavior that was improbable for the time, so don't expect high historical accuracy. There wasn't a lot of action in this story. For example, about 25% of the story occurred in one room on a yacht. People exchanged lengthy, humorous dialogue, even when in a hurry.

There was also a long, sad confession by Mrs. Davenport explaining why she acts they way she does. Both Mrs. Davenport and Gertrude feel like they're not worthy of God's love, and Gertrude has stayed as Mrs. Davenport's companion in an attempt to make atonement for her failure to save her mother. Both come to accept God's love. There was no sex or bad language. Overall, I'd recommend this humorous novel.


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


Excerpt: Read an excerpt using Google Preview.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

The Last Best Friend by George Sims

book cover
The Last Best Friend
by George Sims


ISBN-13: 9781464209000
Paperback: 192 pages
Publisher: Poisoned Pen Press
Released: Nov. 7, 2017

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from NetGalley:
At 2pm on a Monday in 1966, Ned Balfour wakes in Corsica beside a beautiful woman. In the same instant, back in London, fellow art dealer and Dachau survivor Sam Weiss falls ten stories to his death. Ned refuses to believe that Sam's death was intentional, and his investigation thrusts him into the deceit and fraudulence of the art world, where he unmasks more than one respectable face.


My Review:
The Last Best Friend is a mystery set mostly in England in 1966 and was originally published in 1967. The mystery involved something that happened during WWII. However, the first 27% of the story was mostly a mid-aged man (Ned Balfour) carrying on an affair with a girl half his age and, later on, having sex with a friend of his wife. The actual sex happened "off screen" and was thought or talked about using euphemistic terms, but there was one scene with graphically described upper body female nudity.

Anyway, it took a while for Ned to decide that his best friend's death was suspicious and that he should look into what his friend was doing that last week. He wasn't particularly clever in how he tracked down clues. Sam's other friends passed on most of the needed information, and some thugs let him know that he was on the right track. Once all of the information came together, Ned tried to deal with it himself before finally deciding to tell the police what he knew. Vengeance is his. There was some bad language. Overall, I'd recommend this interesting mystery (though it took a while to get going).


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


Excerpt: Read an excerpt using Google Preview.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Christmas on the Run by Shirlee McCoy

book cover
Christmas on the Run
by Shirlee McCoy


ISBN-13: 9780373457403
Mass Market Paperback:
224 pages
Publisher: Love Inspired Suspense
Released: Nov. 7, 2017

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from Goodreads:
Master gemstone cutter Carly Rose Kelley will do anything to keep her son safe. But with blackmailers insisting she forge priceless antique stones or they'll kidnap her son, she needs help. With Christmas days away, the desperate widow has only one hope--the brother-in-law she never met.

Hostage rescue specialist Dallas Morgan never knew about his nephew or his estranged late brother's wife. Now their lives are in his hands. But the sweet child and vulnerable woman remind Dallas of the family he once had and lost. And he can't afford distraction. Now that they're trapped in the sights of ruthless blackmailers, nowhere is safe...but Dallas won't let anyone stand in the way of him saving Carly and her little boy.


My Review:
Christmas on the Run is a Christian suspense novel. It's the eighth book in a series, but it works as a stand-alone novel. The characters were surprised when they discovered the person ultimately behind the jewelry scheme, but I wasn't, though I think it was meant to be unexpected. I even wondered why they didn't checked up on that person more. Still, suspense novels are about staying alive while stopping the bad guys, not about whodunit.

The characters were nice people. Carly struggled with following Dallas' orders (that were meant to keep her and her son safe) since she's used to doing things her way. But she did ask for help, so she tried to trust and cooperate. Dallas struggled with his grief over losing his family around this time of year some years back--children that would have been about the age of Carly's son. The suspense was the physical danger to everyone and Carly and Dallas's emotional turmoil over their attraction to each other.

The Christian element was learning to accept that God is Sovereign even when things don't go the way we'd handle things. 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.


Excerpt: Read an excerpt using Google Preview.