“Threads of Suspicion” by Dee Henderson

Evie Blackwell’s reputation as a top investigator for the Illinois State Police has landed her an appointment to the governor’s new Missing Persons Task Force. This elite investigative team is launched with plenty of public fanfare. The governor has made this initiative a high priority, so they will have to produce results–and quickly.

Evie and her new partner, David Marshal, are assigned to a pair of unrelated cases in suburban Chicago, and while both involve persons now missing for several years, the cases couldn’t be more different. While Evie opens old wounds in a close-knit neighborhood to find a missing college student, David searches for a private investigator working for a high-powered client.
With a deep conviction that “justice for all” truly matters, Evie and David are unrelenting in their search for the truth. But Evie must also find answers to the questions that lie just beneath the surface in her personal life.”

This is a perfectly named book! In the first half of the book there are so many threads that must be explored before Evie, with her co-investigator David, begins to find answers and narrow down the possibilities to the final conclusion. 

I will make the disclaimer that some people may find this particular writing style very difficult to get into. I can’t say it was absolutely riveting, but as someone who really likes Dee Henderson I was prepared to stick it out. And obviously these are cold cases so they don’t have the same ‘thriller’ feel that others of her books do. Not only that, but I think her writing style portrays reality. A lot of the everyday life of detectives, etc. isn’t all thrilling and rush-rush, but more of just searching for threads to pull. I think she did a great job of portraying that. 

So things don’t start to pick up much until 50% and then the action steadily rises until the last chapters where the climax is reached and the resolution is complete. 

I really did enjoy this book and David and Maggie’s side story is so sweet as well as Jim and Lynne’s. I don’t know if their stories will see a little more resolution as this series continues, but I sure hope so! Also anxious to see how Evie and Rob’s story progresses. In the first book, I was not invested in their relationship at all and was rooting for another guy, but in this one, Rob’s character is fleshed out a little more and I really like him. 

So overall,  it was a great story and I’m giving it 4 stars!

Disclaimer: I received this book from Bethany House Publishers in exchange for my honest review.

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“Pursued” by Lisa Harris

“Nikki Boyd’s flight into Nashville was routine–up until the crash landing at the airport. When the dust settles, Nikki discovers that the woman who had been seated next to her on the plane is missing–and no one will admit she was ever there. Erika Hamilton had been flying to Nashville with an air marshal as a key witness in an upcoming grand jury trial. When she flees from the crash, is she running from trouble or straight into it? Before Nikki can even see her family, she and her team are pulled into a missing persons case where the motives are as unclear as the suspects. “

At the recommendation of a Goodreads friend I decided to try out my first Lisa Harris book. I was not disappointed! Despite the fact that it was the third in the series (what is with that? This is now the third book in a row that I’ve read that was the third in a series. I guess they do say ‘three’s a charm’ but seriously! Okay anyway…), it worked pretty good as a stand-alone. I could tell that there were things in the previous books that were referenced, but it never felt like it was hard to follow or anything. I do want to go back and read those though.

This is one of those fast paced books whose chapter titles are marked by hours and minutes on the clock, and the whole thing takes place within the space of about 60 hours. Definitely made it difficult to put down. 

There were some unexpected (even disappointing) twists, and I actually don’t feel like there was complete resolution to the main issue, but not sure if that might be something the author continues in her next book. I can’t go into details without giving serious spoilers. 

I did enjoy the spiritual side as well. While it wasn’t as strong as others I’ve read, she still brought out some great truths, especially toward the end. 

Mrs. Harris is a very talented author and I look forward to reading the next book in the series as well as others she’s written as I get the opportunity. 

Overall, I would give this a four star rating!

Disclaimer: I received this book from Revell Books in exchange for my honest review.

“When Tides Turn” by Sarah Sundin


“When fun-loving glamour girl Quintessa Beaumont learns the Navy has established the WAVES program for women, she enlists, determined to throw off her frivolous ways and contribute to the war effort. No-nonsense and hoping to make admiral, Lt. Dan Avery has been using his skills to fight German U-boats. The last thing he wants to see on his radar is a girl like Tess. For her part, Tess works hard to prove her worth in the Anti-Submarine Warfare Unit in Boston–both to her commanding officers and to the man with whom she is smitten. When Dan is assigned to a new escort carrier at the peak of the Battle of the Atlantic, he’s torn between his lifelong career goals and his desire to help Tess root out a possible spy on shore. The Germans put up quite a fight, but he wages a deeper battle within his heart. Could Tess be the one for him?”

I would like to start off this review by saying I discovered something about writing styles in relation to myself when I was having a conversation with a friend the other day. She said there are three main story telling styles. Character driven stories, plot driven stories, and theme driven stories. When she told me that I was able to identify why some books really stick with me and others leave me with more of a ‘meh’ reaction. My favorites are character driven stories, a close second being plot driven stories and I have a harder time really getting into theme driven stories. Okay that’s the introduction.

Sarah Sundin is an incredibly talented author whose specialty is theme driven stories set in the World War II time period. Her research and attention to detail is truly noteworthy and for that I admire her. She does also do a great job weaving a plot and I really like her characters. So this should honestly be a 5 star book and I think as far as quality and everything it truly is. For my personal enjoyment however I’m going to bump it down to 4 stars. As I said I really liked her characters, but I never felt them. There seemed to be certain elements of emotion lacking where she told what they were feeling instead of showing it. However since I’ve now made the discovery that I described before, it doesn’t bother me as much and I’m able to give this book the kind of review I want to. If you love the WWII time period and all the naval info and details etc. with a great story line to make it flow, I think you’ll really like this book!

I also liked how she portrayed the spiritual journey of the characters, especially Dan. Such an admirable hero, not because he’s perfect but because he’s teachable and surrendered to what the Lord shows him.

So as I said, a five star book, but for my own personal enjoyment I’m bumping it down to four stars.

Disclaimer: I received this book from Revell Reads in exchange for my honest review.

“Murder is No Accident” by Ann H. Gabhart

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“Young Maggie Greene may be trespassing in the old, empty Victorian mansion on a quiet street in Hidden Springs, but all she wants is some private time in the magnificent tower room to write her stories. Certain she’ll be in trouble if caught, she hides when a realtor shows up. But someone else is in the house too, someone even more worried about getting caught. When Maggie finds the realtor’s body at the bottom of a flight of stairs and the other person gone, Deputy Sheriff Michael Keane is called in. He assumes the realtor’s death is a tragic accident–until a second person is found dead in the house. When Maggie is threatened, Michael must catch the murderer before anyone else dies.

Cozy mystery fans will love this third installment in The Hidden Springs Mysteries series from an author who knows how to make small-town America sweet, sentimental–and a little sinister.”

I gotta admit, I signed up to review this book because of the cover. I’ve always loved the board game “Clue” and its layout. Always made me wish I could climb inside it. So when I saw this book, I couldn’t resist despite the fact that it was the third in a series. Well, before I started reading it, I’d decided I’d see if I might get a hold of the first two books somehow (through Kindle lending if nothing else). Well, as it turned out the first one is free at the moment. So I snagged it and as I was nearing the end I knew I HAD to read the second one, so I broke down and paid for it…but it was totally worth it! And finally about 10 days after I initially received the book, I finally got the read the third one.

Okay that was all back story. Now for my review.

Even though I did read all three in order, I think even if I had only read the third one it would have been fine as a stand-alone. There are references to occurrences in the previous books, but nothing that would be confusing or detract from the story.  This was a truly enjoyable book to read.

Despite what I said in my last review about enjoying being shocked at the end of a mystery to find out “who-dun-it”, I still enjoyed figuring out who it was almost from the start of each of these mysteries. The last one was a little more difficult for me than the other two and I only ended up getting it half-right after all. There was definitely a surprise waiting for me at the end of this one.

I loved Michael and Alex’s little side story that wasn’t directly related to any of the mysteries, but, ugh, Mrs. Gabhart still left me with some unanswered questions. Could we have one more little novella please?

I loved all the towns people that helped fill out the story so wonderfully. Honestly, it’s almost like a modern day Mayberry, all the way down to Aunt Lindy in place of Aunt Bee, and Lester in place of Barney Fife. I gotta say though, Hank the news reporter just about got on my last nerve. 🙂

There is one thing that brings it down to 4 stars for me. The spiritual content lacked much to be desired. The only one that seemed like she was probably a real Christian in the entire series was Aunt Lindy. The rest were all pretty wishy-washy. Not only that but there is a Presbyterian woman pastor that is painted in a very positive light which I found very annoying.

So my over all review: for a good, clean, enjoyable, cozy mystery, this is a great choice! But don’t expect much in the spiritual department.

Disclaimer: I received this book from Revell Books in exchange for my honest review.

“Still Life” by Dani Pettrey.


“Someone Is Out There. Watching Her. Waiting. 

Blacklisted in the photography business over a controversial shot, Avery Tate answered an ad for a crime-scene photographer. She expected to be laughed at, but crime-scene analyst Parker Mitchell hired her outright–and changed her life. But six months ago, when her feelings for Parker became too strong, she left his employ to sort out her heart. 

  Now, for the first time, Avery is facing the world that rejected her to attend the gallery opening of a photography exhibit for which her friend modeled. But the only image of her friend is a chilling photo of her posing as if dead–and the photographer insists he didn’t take the shot. Worse, her friend can’t be found, and so Avery immediately calls Parker for help. 

  As Avery, Parker, and their friends in law enforcement dig into the mystery, they find themselves face-to-face with a relentless and deadly threat. “

I am happy to give a 5 star review of this book! I read the first in the series last year, really enjoyed it, and was looking forward to reading the next in the series. This did not disappoint and if anything I enjoyed it just a little bit more. Parker was one of my favorite characters in the first book, so perhaps that’s why I liked this one so much. It was great to see all the other characters again as well, and follow the continuing threads of their various stories. I find Kate and Luke’s thread the most intriguing and am really looking forward to seeing it play out in coming books.

As for the mystery, despite the fact that the premise was a little gruesome, I honestly didn’t find it too hard to handle. It didn’t really go into too many gory details leaving it more to the imagination. There may be one scene that was the exception, but once again I didn’t find it that disturbing probably because I was more focused on where the bad guy was gonna jump out from, and less on what was being discovered. As for who killer was? Definitely unpredictable, which is actually the way I like it. Despite the fact that there is a certain amount of glee in saying “I knew it!” I still love the mysteries where I’m like, “Wow, never saw that coming!”

The spiritual content was also really good! Maybe not as strong as it could have been, but still I didn’t find it weak at all. It dealt with the theme of moving on from the past which a character was saved out of, giving the gospel to close friends from that past, and yet not blaming yourself if they don’t make the choices you wish for them.

Overall a great book and nearly impossible to put down, once started (at least for me)!

*Disclaimer: I received this book from Bethany House Publishers in exchange for my honest review.

 

“The Newcomer” by Suzanne Woods Fisher

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“In 1737, Anna Konig and her fellow church members stagger off a small wooden ship after ten weeks at sea, eager to start a new life in the vibrant but raw Pennsylvania frontier. On the docks of Port Philadelphia waits bishop Jacob Bauer, founder of the settlement and father to ship carpenter Bairn. It’s a time of new beginnings for the reunited Bauer family, and for Anna and Bairn’s shipboard romance to blossom.

But this perfect moment cannot last. As Bairn grasps the reality of what it means to be Amish in the New World–isolated, rigid with expectations, under the thumb of his domineering father–his enthusiasm evaporates. When a sea captain offers the chance to cross the ocean one more time, Bairn grabs it. Just one more crossing, he promises Anna. But will she wait for him?

When Henrik Newman joins the church just as it makes its way to the frontier, Anna is torn. He seems to be everything Bairn is not–bold, devoted, and delighted to vie for her heart. And the most dramatic difference? He is here; Bairn is not.

Far from the frontier, an unexpected turn of events weaves together the lives of Bairn, Anna, and Henrik. When a secret is revealed, which true love will emerge?”

This was a really difficult book for me, and honestly, I’m sorry to say so, because I have loved everything I’ve read by Suzanne Woods Fisher. Her normal genre is contemporary Amish fiction, and she is one of the better authors in this genre. In this book, she takes the setting back to the early days of settling America (think Benjamin Franklin and Poor Richards Almanac), and somehow it just didn’t work for me. To start with, it was a pretty slow book. There was nothing that really propelled it forward. It followed three different storylines, which wouldn’t necessarily be a problem, but I really struggled with feeling invested in any of them. Even though I liked the characters of Anna and Bairn, I didn’t feel like they were fully developed. They seemed somewhat flat and two-dimensional. And I’m sorry, but Felix was just annoying. At first I kind of liked his precociousness, but then he just would never listen to anyone!

Honestly, the best part of this book was the last few chapters. I know that maybe kind of a ‘duh’ thing to say, but it seriously finally seemed to actually be moving forward. 

I’m sorry to write such a negative review, but it wasn’t just me either. My mom read it too and had the same thoughts.

Disclaimer: I received this from Revell Books in exchange for my honest review.

“An Uncommon Courtship” by Kristi Ann Hunter

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“Life for Lady Adelaide Bell was easier if she hid in her older sister’s shadow–which worked until her sister got married. Even with thepressure of her socially ambitious mother, the last thing she expected was a marriage of convenience to save her previously spotless reputation.

Lord Trent Hawthorne couldn’t be happier that he is not the duke in the family. He’s free to manage his small estate and take his time discovering the life he wants to lead, which includes grand plans of wooing and falling in love with the woman of his choice. When he finds himself honor bound to marry a woman he doesn’t know, his dream of a marriage like his parents’ seems lost forever.

Already starting their marriage on shaky ground, can Adelaide and Trent’s relationship survive the pressures of London society?”

In general I love this type of storyline! A man and woman forced into a marriage through means outside their own control, who then learn how to love each other. Yes, I did say how to love not just to love each other. Is their a difference? I think so, and I think this book did a great job of portraying it. Learning to love involves more of the feelings whereas I think learning how to love involves a choice. And that is exactly what this book focuses on. It focuses on what love really means, and how a couple learn about it and learn to put it into practice because God brought them together for life. One thing I particularly admired was the fact that it was never an option of whether they would stay married or not. That was a given, and they had to work out the kind of marriage relationship they were going to have. And I think the author did a great job of handling the topic.

There was one really big and disappointing thing in this book for me. The author included ‘the bedroom scene’. I don’t think it’s justified, but I will make the disclaimer that there was no sensuality in it. It was written more as a sequence of events (only up to a certain point) with a small amount of conversation. What was more disappointing was that they didn’t leave it there. In the following chapter, and possibly two, Trent discusses an ‘issue’ that occurred which I think could have been avoided. It provides for some awkward moments of conversation.

Because of this, my rating is lowered by 1 1/2 stars, which disappoints me greatly.

This really was a great story, but I would have a hard time recommending it someone without reservation.

Despite that I’m really looking forward to the next book in the series which I believe will be Griffith’s story.

*Disclaimer: I received this book from Bethany House Publishers in exchange for my honest review.