Murder is No Accident

Howdy, Folks!
I have spent every spare second since I last posted reading “The Hidden Springs Mysteries.” This is because I am voluntarily reviewing a copy of “Murder is No Accident” by A. H. Gabhart through a partnership with Revell publishing and Netgalley. The book is the third installment in the series and the latest release for Gabhart, who also writes under the name Ann H. Gabhart. If you are a fan of the cozy Christian whodunit, clear your calendar, because you won’t be able to do anything else until you’ve finished this tale. Note that though all these books share a location and characters, they each can be enjoyed as a standalone without difficulty.
That said, this volume begins when teenager Maggie Greene is looking for a place where she can daydream and write her stories in peace. Unfortunately, she sneaks into the tower room in a mansion in small town Hidden Springs, Kentucky. Shortly after she arrives, she hears raised voices and the local realtor tumbles down the staircase to her death. Not wanting to get caught trespassing, she uses the victim’s cell phone to report the incident anonymously to the police and runs away. However, in dodging one problem, she creates a whole host of others. She didn’t escape unnoticed, and whoever saw her wants to make sure she stays silent. Her only choice is to contact law enforcement. Deputy Sheriff Michael Keane starts investigating what looks like a routine accident, but then someone else dies in the house. This time it’s clearly murder. Can Michael connect the events and track down the perpetrator before someone else gets hurt?
The target audience for this story is age twelve years old and up. There is no objectionable content in this volume, and wonderful Christian truth is woven seamlessly into the pages, but sensitive youngsters may be impacted by the violence portrayed in the genre. I highly recommend this series to people who like Irene Hannon and Nancy Mehl. My rating is five out of five stars. For those who are interested in the complete experience, the publication order is as follows:
Murder at the Courthouse (Hidden Springs Mystery #1)
Murder Comes by Mail (Hidden Springs Mystery #2)
Murder is No Accident (Hidden Springs Mystery #3)
All these adventures are available now, so look for them at your favorite retailer. Until we meet again…
Happy Reading,
Carolyn

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Death by Chocolate Lab

Hey, Folks!

I hope this post finds you well. 2016 was a year filled with illness for me, so I focused on my health. This post is the beginning of a new phase in which I can enjoy life outside my room again. Enough about me, though. Let’s talk about what we came here for, which are new releases in the world of literature.
I am voluntarily reviewing a copy of “Death by Chocolate Lab” by Bethany Blake through a partnership with Netgalley and Kensington Books. My followers know I don’t pull any punches when sharing mqy opinions.
This book is the first title in the “Lucky Paws Petsitting Mysteries,” mainstream cozies centered around animal loving philosopher Daphne Templeton. This feisty heroine loves all living creatures, but she is not fond of Blue Ribbon K9 Academy owner Steve Beamus, who broke her sister Piper’s heart. The problem? Beamus is found murdered and newcomer police detective Jonathan Black zeros in on Piper as the most likely suspect from a long list of people. What’s a girl to do? Daphne and her canine companions Socrates and Artie set out not only to find the real killer, but to locate Axis, Steve’s award-winning Labrador Retriever who vanished the same night of the incident. Can she do so before anyone else gets hurt, or are she and the rest of her pals in the small town in danger?
The target audience for this novel is readers age 12 and above, but aside from a few references to Karma, there is no objectionable content. This debut is perfect for fans of Charlaine Harris’ Aurora Teagarden. These characters, both human and animal, are a delight, and the puzzle is not easily solved. Those captivated by light crime fiction can count on Bethany Blake for an intriguing adventure. I would be glad to critique any upcoming manuscripts. My one criticism? The sleuthing came to a bit of an abrupt halt for my taste, but otherwise I consider it a solid debut. I would give it four and a half out of five stars. It is available now wherever books are sold, so pick it up when you get a chance. Until we meet again…
Happy Reading,
Carolyn

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After The Storm

Hey, Folks!

If you are a fan of edgy suspense, I encourage you to check out Linda Castillo’s Kate Buckholder series. St. Martin’s Press gifted me with a complimentary copy of the latest release, “After The Storm,” in exchange for a review, which will always contain my honest opinion, so here we go:

A tornado rips through Painters Miller, Ohio, uncovering remains long buried in an Amish barn. As Kate sets out to identify the bones, it becomes clear that the death was anything but accidental. She  begins to wonder if she should be looking for the killer in the Plain community she grew up in. Will 30 years of secrets be her undoing? Complications in her personal life add another layer of depth to the story. Is she capable of focusing, or will the distractions give the perpetrator the advantage he needs to silence her permanently?

If you haven’t experienced Ms. Castillo’s work before,  my suggestion is to start at the beginning. The order is as follows:
Sworn to Silence (Kate Burkholder #1)
Pray for Silence (Kate Burkholder #2)
Breaking Silence (Kate Burkholder #3)
Gone Missing (Kate Burkholder #4)
Long Lost (Kate Burkholder #4.5)
Her Last Breath (Kate Burkholder #5)
The Dead Will Tell (Kate Burkholder #6)
A Hidden Secret (Kate Burkholder #6.5)
After The Storm (Kate Burkholder #7)

I would recommend this novel to people who love mainstream mystery authors like J. A. Jance and  Sara Paretsky. It is important to note that, although this tale contains elements of Amish culture, it is NOT a cozy mystery and includes some very salty language, and scenes involving explicit violence. The intended audience is those sixteen years and older. That said, this is a riveting book, so my rating is five out of five stars. Go find the series, because all the volumes are available now.  Until we meet again…
Happy Reading,
Carolyn

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“Dressed To Kill”

Hey, Folks!
Sorry for the long delay in posting, but I have had some health concerns that have kept me occupied for quite a while. The score is now Jesus and me: One, Kidney stones: Zero. I am back, so let’s get to the task at hand. I was given a complimentary copy of Lynn Cahoon’s “Dressed To Kill” through Netgalley’s partnership with Kensington Publishing Company. My end of the deal is to spread my totally honest review around. That’s why you are seeing this right now.

  Jill Gardener,  the amateur gumshoe who owns Coffee, Books, and More, is looking forward to spending some time with her boyfriend,  police detective Greg King. What could be more fun than acting in a murder mystery dinner play to benefit a local charity?  Everyone’s amusement is short lived, however, when an actual dead body is found at the theater. The town banker has been killed, and Greg’s ex-wife is the prime suspect, but she is far from the only one. Can Jill help Greg solve this puzzle before the person responsible comes after someone close to her?

I would recommend this novel to people who love mainstream cozy mystery authors like Mary Daheim or Carolyn Hart. There are a few curse words here and there, but the violence is minimal, so those of you who don’t like blood and gore should be okay. This series is, in my judgment, appropriate for people thirteen years and older. This book can technically be enjoyed by itself, but I always have more connection with the characters when I read a series in order. The chronology for this one is as follows:
“Guidebook To Murder” (A Tourist Trap Mystery #1)
“Mission To Murder” (A Tourist Trap Mystery #2)
“If the Shoe Kills” (A Tourist Trap Mystery #3)
“Dressed To Kill” (A Tourist Trap Mystery # 4)
My rating is five out of five stars for this title. I found the whole group to be charming, and I can’t wait to critique the next installment, which is due out next month. The volumes mentioned are available now, though, so investigate them right away! Until we meet again…
Happy Reading,
Carolyn

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Steadfast Heart

Hey, Folks!

Learning new facts about places I know well intrigues me. My latest discovery is Tracie Peterson’s “Steadfast Heart,” which is the first volume in the “Seattle Brides” series. Since I live near the city mentioned, this new release captivated me from the first word, and I was happy to receive a free copy from Bethany House Publishers in exchange for my upfront reactions in this review.

Lenore Fulcher longs for a home and family of her own, but at 20, she has no wish to entertain her father’s choice for a respectable suitor: his 37 year old business associate. She despairs of ever finding the Prince Charming she has always dreamed of, until she happens upon Kolbein Booth. The handsome Chicago attorney is desperate to find his younger sister, who he believes may have come to the city in search of a husband. Lenore never took much stock in love at first sight, but now it’s happened to her. Will she be able to figure out how to get her intended to court her, or will he accomplish his mission and head home before she shares her feelings?

If you like your Christian historical romance filled with adventure and a dash of mystery, then this one will keep you hooked until the last page. The author really brings the Seattle of the 1880s to life, with characters that you will root for. Subtle biblical lessons are seamlessly interwoven throughout the plot, so you can present this to a general audience without fear of objectionable material. Those twelve years and older will enjoy it the most, though. I recommend this title to people who like authors such as Julie Lessman, Karen Witemeyer, and Laura Frantz. My rating is 4.5 out of five stars. The only reason I didn’t give it five stars is because it ends rather abruptly, but I am confident the loose ends will be addressed in the next entry, which is scheduled to be printed later this year. This tale is available now, wherever you usually buy literature. Seek it out today! Until we meet again…
Happy Reading,
Carolyn

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A Most Inconvenient Marriage

Hey, Folks!

Here’s wishing you a prosperous 2015, with lots of time to pursue your passions! If Christian historical romance is high on your list, then I may have a suggestion to start your year of right. I was given a digital review copy of “A Most Inconvenient Marriage,” which is Regina Jennings latest release. Bethany House gifted me with this novel in exchange for this review, which, as always, contains my honest critique of the title.

Having nowhere else to go, Union nurse Abigail Stuart agrees to marry dying Confederate soldier Jeremiah Calhoun so she can run his horse farm and look after his mother and sister. After a few hiccups, she settles into the home she’s always longed for. Then a stranger shows up, and the young lady is no longer a widow. It seems as though her “husband” is still living and breathing, ready to tend the animals he loves. If this is true, who who did she join with in holy matrimony? Can Abigail trust God to provide her with the stability and relationships she craves, or is she destined to end up alone?

This book is perfect for people who like authors such as Julie Lessman, Julie Klassen, Karen Witemeyer, and Jody Hedlund. It is appropriate for everyone, but I believe the target audience is those twelve years and older. This group will best appreciate the deep biblical concepts illustrated in this tale, in  addition to the satisfying romantic elements and hints of adventure. My rating for this volume is five out of five stars. You can locate it on shelves everywhere, right now, so seek this one out today. Until we meet again…
Happy Reading,
Carolyn

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Murder Tightly Knit

Hey,  Folks!

I hope the recent Christmas festivities have left you feeling blessed, not stressed. The week between the holidays is a perfect opportunity to slow down, take time for yourself, and get absorbed in an engaging book. Of course, I would never make such a suggestion without having a title in mind. I recently received a complimentary copy of “Murder Tightly Knit,” from Zondervan. The publisher’s only expectation is that I write down my sincere reactions to the second volume in Vannetta Chapman’s “Amish Village Mystery” series. That’s why everyone gets to see this post.

Hannah Troyer is puzzled by her friend Mary’s odd absences from the yarn store she manages, but the woman in charge of the coffee shop doesn’t become truly concerned until Mary is linked to the murder of Owen Esch. It seems that the federal agent brought in by local law enforcement to investigate is determined to pin the gruesome death on someone from the Plain community. Will Hannah and her pal, Village supervisor Amber Bowman, be able to gather enough evidence to get him to remove his blinders before it’s too late, or will more innocent people get hurt?

If you like a solid traditional amateur detective tale that keeps a lid on the violence while weaving in important biblical principles, this one should be added to your list. There’s even a hefty dose of romance sure to keep love story fans turning pages. No objectionable material to worry about, so it can be shared with everyone. Those twelve years and older are likely to appreciate it the most, though. I wholeheartedly recommend this novel to people who enjoy Nancy Mehl, Beverly Lewis, or Terri Blackstock. This work can certainly be savored in its own right, but for full understanding of the characters, I would encourage you to pick up the first installment of this sequence, “Murder Simply Brewed.” My rating for both of these pieces is five out of five stars. They are available right this minute, so search them out today! Until we meet again…
Happy Reading,
Carolyn

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Love Unexpected

Hi, Folks!

Are you intrigued by lighthouses? Do you like Christian historical romance that is passionate enough  that it quickens your pulse, but lacking any of the explicit content that would prevent you from lending it to your favorite teenage girl? Jody Hedlund’s latest should please all those  mentioned above. I received “Love Unexpected” gratis from Bethany House Publishers through their partnership with netgalley.com. The only condition being that I impart the truth about this volume as I see it with everyone who views this post.  This novel is book one in the “Beacons of Hope” series.

The story begins with Emma Chambers facing a major dilemma. When the ship she and her brother, Ryan, are traveling on sinks, she finds herself stranded on Presque Isle port. Ryan can easily secure housing and employment, but there are no prospects for either in the area for respectable woman like Emma. The local preacher has an idea, though. The town’s lighthouses keeper has recently lost his wife, and can’t possibly take care of his two year old son and run his business at the same time. If they married, they could solve both problems simultaneously. Seeing no other choice, our heroine reluctantly agrees to a union of convenience. The little boy instantly melts her heart, and there’s an immediate undercurrent of undeniable attraction between the newlyweds. Emma begins to wonder if this unconventional situation is God’s way of fulfilling her all of her heart’s desires. Shortly after the ceremony, rumors of her spouse’s violent past circulate. Should she honor her vow to a total stranger, or get out while she can?

If you favor Julie Lessman, Karen Witemeyer, Julie Klassen,  and Janette Oke, you will want to place “Unexpected Love” on your “To Read” pile right now. I would also encourage you to pick up the FREE ebook prequel “Out of the Storm” in whatever format is compatible with your device.  This title is perfect for sharing with general audiences, and includes subtle essential biblical lessons. While the substance is worry free, those twelve years and older will gain the most insight. My rating is five out of five stars. This one is available now, wherever Christian fiction is on display. It would make a wonderful Christmas treat, so seek it out today. Until we meet again…
Happy Reading,
Carolyn

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The Secret of Pembrooke Park

Hey, Folks!

If you prefer your Christian historical romance sprinkled with enough mystery to keep you perched on the edge of your comfy chair, I can point you towards Julie Klassen’s new Bethany House release, “The Secret of Pembrooke Park.” Due to my passion for blogging, the publisher gave me a copy of this novel. The only condition being that I share my gut level reaction with you all in this review. You know I can be counted on to call it like I see it, so here I go.

What is Abigail Foster to do? The dowry she thought she could depend on has vanished due to the charge in circumstances that force her family to sell  their upscale London estate. To make matters worse, the man she always envisioned spending her life with seems to have fallen hopelessly in love with her younger sister. Then, a distant relative sends a lawyer with an interesting proposition: Live in a country village for a year. The catch? The reasonable rent leads them to a crumbling mansion with what appears to be a sinister history.  The dashing eligible parson and his kin seem to know more than they let on, but only warn the Fosters to be cautious of ruthless treasure hunters looking for a hidden room. Will Abigail be able to find the riches everyone is searching for and improve her clan’s dire situation? Is it part of God’s plan for her to find romance that will  last through all time, or will the consequences of the events of long ago return to destroy the future?

This novel is recommended for fans of Julie Lessman, Karen Witemeyer, and Julianna  Deering. It contains the fantastic elements you would expect from an intriguing story as well as a foundation of solid biblical principles that make it suitable for a broad audience. There is no objectionable material to cause concern, but I think that it will find a home with those twelve years and older. My rating is five out of five stars, so look for it today wherever you usually acquire similar volumes. Until we meet again…
Happy Reading,
Carolyn

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The Wolfe Widow

Hey, Folks!

Looking for a cozy mainstream amateur sleuthing tale  to help you entertain yourself during the long cold winter nights we have been subjected to lately?  Fans of classic puzzles will adore “The Book Collector Mysteries,” written by mother/daughter team Mary Jane and Victoria Maffini, under the pen name Victoria Abbott. I have spent the last week engrossed in the universe of Jordan Bingham, vintage library researcher turned detective. I received a complimentary copy of the latest release,  “The Wolfe Widow, ” from Berkeley Crime Time in exchange for my upfront opinion about the title.

This is the third volume in a solid series. At the beginning, we find Jordan looking forward to a pleasant thanksgiving ensconced in her beloved quarters enjoying the culinary masterpieces of prepared by Vera Van Alst’s housekeeper. Circumstances change in hurry, however, when Jordan’s usually selective employer agrees to meet with an enigmatic stranger who shows up without an appointment at a highly unusual hour. The next morning, Jordan is blindsided by the news that her services are no longer needed. She is unceremoniously bounced out of her lodging, and the newcomer, a woman named Daphne, quickly moves in. Devastated by the loss of her comfortable new life, our heroine returns home to her beloved uncles. Something about Daphne isn’t right, however. Can Jordan and her cohorts discern her true motives before Vera loses her most prized possessions, or worse?

I highly recommend this whole series. The books can be enjoyed totally independent of each other, but for those of you who prefer to start at the beginning, the chronology is as follows:
“The Christie Curse” (Book Collector Mystery #1)
“The Sayers Swindle” (Book Collector Mystery #2)
“The Wolfe Widow” (Book Collector Mystery #3)

To my way of thinking, this book is appropriate for those thirteen years and older. The only objectionable material I found were a smattering of mild curse words, so people  who can’t tolerate that content have been warned. It’s a crime novel, but it isn’t graphic. None of the those elements marred my appreciation of the manuscript. Lovers of Agatha Christie, Dorothy Sayers, and Rex Stout will be thrilled to discover a fresh voice, not to mention devotees of Mary Higgins Clark and Mary Daheim. My rating for “The Wolfe Widow” is five out of five stars, and the whole collection is available in paperback and electronic format wherever fiction is sold, so go out and get them today. This reviewer can’t wait for the next installment, so I hope I am chosen to be one of the fortunate few who gets to tell you all about it. Until we meet again…
Happy Reading,
Carolyn

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