Tag Archives: Mystery

The House on Foster Hill

The House on Foster Hill

By Jaime Jo Wright

The Story

Kaine Prescott is no stranger to death. When her husband died two years ago, her pleas for further investigation into his suspicious demise fell on deaf ears. In desperate need of a fresh start, Kaine purchases an old house sight unseen in her grandfather’s Wisconsin hometown. But one look at the eerie, abandoned house immediately leaves her questioning her rash decision. And when the house’s dark history comes back with a vengeance, Kaine is forced to face the terrifying realization she has nowhere left to hide.

A century earlier, the house on Foster Hill holds nothing but painful memories for Ivy Thorpe. When an unidentified woman is found dead on the property, Ivy is compelled to discover her identity. Ivy’s search leads her into dangerous waters, resurrecting painful memories and forcing a reunion with the man who broke her heart. Can Ivy unravel the mystery and find a renewed hope before any other lives–including her own–are lost?

(Back cover summary from Bethany House.)

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Chilling. Gripping. Those are words that would describe The House on Foster Hill quite aptly. I’ve not delved much into split-time novels. Generally, I like my historical fiction separate from the contemporary genre, but I knew from all the buzz surrounding this book that I needed to give it a try.

The key to a good split-time novel is for both storylines to be equally compelling. Jaime did a superb job of that with this book. She would switch the POV at just the right moment, leaving me wanting to learn more about whichever character I was leaving. The suspense in both of the women’s lives was well done. I even jumped at one point, which doesn’t usually happen for me. What I loved about these characters was that they were willing to fight for the helpless and themselves. When trouble came, they didn’t wait around for someone to rescue them, they went out and did it themselves.

The romance thread in this book, while not as prominent, was also very well done. I really liked how Jaime slowly wove together the different mysteries of this book, inexplicably linking the characters.

Hope was the overall tying thread. Hope in a world that is dark and difficult, because our hope isn’t tied to this earth. It’s tied to Jesus, and that’s a thread that cannot be broken.

This is a unique book, from a unique voice, and I’ll definitely be keeping an eye out for further work from Jaime.

About the Author

Jaime Jo Wright is the Publishers Weekly and ECPA bestselling author of two novellas, and a human resources director by trade. She lives in Wisconsin with her husband and two children, and The House on Foster Hill is her debut novel. Find her online at www.jaimewrightbooks.com.

(Biography from Bethany House.)

I was provided a copy of this book from the publisher. The opinions expressed are my own.

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Lady Jayne Disappears

Lady Jayne Disappears

By Joanna Davidson Politano

The Story

Lynhurst Manor is a house built on secrets . . . and the arrival of Aurelie Harcourt might reveal them all.

When Aurelie Harcourt’s father dies suddenly, he leaves her just two things: his famous pen name, Nathaniel Droll, and his wealthy family–who want very little to do with her.

As Aurelie struggles to find a home with her father’s family and learn the rules of society, she relishes in his parting gift–the beginning of his last story. The story she always wanted to hear, about her mother’s mysterious disappearance from the home where she now lives. To complete the novel, she’ll have to extract clues from relatives–and one enigmatic houseguest–who often seem reluctant to give them up.

(Back cover summary from Revell Publisher)

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I am so glad that I got the opportunity to read Lady Jayne Disappears. I’d heard others rave about this book but dismissed it. I shouldn’t have. This book entertained, with sweeping prose reminiscent of Dickens, a romance that gradually blossomed, and a mystery that climaxed in an altogether unexpected way.

What really touched my heart was the many areas where I could identify with Aurelie as a writer. In some ways, we are so alike, as if this were almost my journey. Aurelie is all about belonging. It’s what she craves, what drives her. And that’s something I believe we can all identify with. From those awkward years of Junior High, belonging becomes important, and it can be difficult to find, but what it really is isn’t always what we expect. Aurelie’s faith in this book is authentic and takes center stage often. Joanna writes in such a way that it feels as natural as your next breath, which is how our relationship with Jesus should be.

This book held me captive. I had to find out what happened, not only to Lady Jayne but more importantly to Aurelie. Beyond romance, would she find peace for herself? And she does, in such a satisfying way. Others have listed this book as their favorite of the year so far, and I have to agree. This book has taken up residence on my bookshelf and in my heart—permanently. It doesn’t happen very often that as soon as I finish a book I seriously want to turn back to page one and start all over again, but with Lady Jayne Disappears, that was exactly the case.

About the Author

Joanna Davidson Politano freelances for a small nonfiction publisher but spends much of her time spinning tales that capture the colorful, exquisite details in ordinary lives. Her manuscript for Lady Jayne Disappears was a finalist for several contests, including the 2016 Genesis Award from ACFW, and won the OCW Cascade Award and the Maggie Award for Excellence. She is always on the hunt for random acts of kindness, people willing to share their deepest secrets with a stranger, and hidden stashes of sweets. She lives with her husband and their two babies in a house in the woods near Lake Michigan and shares stories that move her at http://www.jdpstories.com.

(Biography from Revell Publisher)

I was provided a copy of this book from the publisher. The opinions expressed are my own.

Still Life

Book Review: Still Life

Author: Dani Pettrey

Review by Grace Olson

The Story

Back Cover from Amazon of Still Life:

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 and support her best friend, who modeled for the show. 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. She immediately calls Parker for help. As Avery, Parker, and his friends in law enforcement dig into the mystery, they find themselves face-to-face with a relentless and deadly threat.

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            Dani Pettrey is brilliant at what she does. I loved her previous series set in Alaska, and I’m finding that I like these just as much. Still Life is the second book in the series, and I would definitely recommend reading them in order, it helps to set up some of the relationships and dynamics that happen in this book.

Still Life is…chilling. Reading it at night is not recommended. I rushed through this book in the same break-neck pace that Dani sets, with each ending to the chapter begging me to continue reading. I love how each character has their specialty that they bring to the team, but they don’t have those because they’re just unnaturally good at them, they all have motivation and reasons. The setting is different than her other series, but where the wilds of Alaska and its animals were an issue, abandoned buildings and unstable people are just as dangerous in the Chesapeake Valor series. The mystery, suspense, and adventure are great in this series, but the romance keeps perfect pace with it.

Over all, I really enjoyed Still Life, and would definitely recommend it!

About the Author

Biography from Amazon’s website: Dani Pettrey is a wife, homeschooling mom and author. She feels blessed to write inspirational romantic suspense because it incorporates so many things she loves–the thrill of adventure, nail-biting suspense, the deepening of one’s faith and plenty of romance. She’s a huge fan of dark chocolate, is always in search of the best iced mocha and her dream is to one day own a little cottage on a remote stretch of beach. She and her husband reside in Maryland with their two teenage daughters. Visit her web site at www.DaniPettrey.com!

I was provided a copy of this book from the publisher. The opinions expressed are my own.

The Lost Girl of Astor Street

Book Review: The Lost Girl of Astor Street

Author: Stephanie Morrill

Review by Grace Olson

The Story

Back Cover from Amazon’s website of The Lost Girl of Astor Street:

When her best friend vanishes without so much as a good-bye, eighteen-year-old Piper Sail takes on the role of amateur sleuth in an attempt to solve the mystery of Lydia’s disappearance. Given that Piper’s tendency has always been to butt heads with high-society’s expectations of her, it’s no surprise that she doesn’t give a second thought to searching for answers to Lydia’s abduction from their privileged neighborhood.

As Piper discovers that those answers might stem from the corruption strangling 1924 Chicago—and quite possibly lead back to the doors of her affluent neighborhood—she must decide how deep she’s willing to dig, how much she should reveal, and if she’s willing to risk her life of privilege for the sake of the truth.

Perfect for fans of Libba Bray and Anna Godbersen, Stephanie Morrill’s atmospheric jazz-age mystery will take readers from the glitzy homes of the elite to the dark underbelly of 1920s Chicago.

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            Stephanie’s other books are also written for teen girls, but are contemporary novels and I have enjoyed reading those. But I LOVED the Lost Girl of Astor Street. This book is gritty and real, and deals with emotions, life issues, and tragedy in a genuine, honest way. The twists and turns are many and most I didn’t expect. There’s adventure, suspense, mystery, history, and romance in this book, all skillfully woven together and appropriately done for this audience. I didn’t want to put this one down, not until I discovered with Piper whodunit, and what effect that would have on Piper and her family. I would love to see more from Stephanie revolving around Piper and this era, so here’s hoping!

As many have found, the young adult genre is also a great area for adult readers as well, and this is one of those that both older and younger readers would enjoy.

About the Author

Biography from Amazon’s website: Stephanie Morrill is the author of several young adult novels, including the 1920’s mystery, The Lost Girl of Astor Street (February 2017, Blink/HarperCollins). Despite loving cloche hats and drop-waist dresses, Stephanie would have been a terrible flapper because she can’t do the Charleston and looks awful with bobbed hair. She and her near-constant ponytail live in Kansas City with her husband and three kids. You can learn more about her on her author site: StephanieMorrill.com

I was provided a copy of this book from the publisher. The opinions expressed are my own.

A Lady Unrivaled

LadyUnrivaled_mck.inddBook Review: A Lady Unrivaled

Author: Roseanna M. White

Review by Grace Olson

The Story

Back Cover from Bethany House’s website for A Lady Unrivaled:

Her future–and her heart–hang in the balance.

Amid the Unforgettable Cotswolds, the Final Grasp for the Fire Eyes Diamonds Could Threaten Them All

Lady Ella Myerston can always find a reason to smile–even if it’s just in hope that tomorrow will be better than today. All her life everyone has tried to protect her from the realities of the world, but Ella knows very well how the dangerous Fire Eyes diamonds have haunted her brother and their friends, and she won’t wait for peril to strike again. She intends to take action . . . and if that happens to involve an adventurous trip to the Cotswolds, then so much the better.

Lord James Cayton has already broken two hearts, including that of his first wife, who died before he could convince himself to love her. Now he’s determined to live a better life . . . but that proves complicated when old acquaintances pull Cayton into their desperate attempt to seize the jewels. He does his best to remove the intriguing Lady Ella from danger, but the stubborn girl won’t budge. How else can he redeem himself, though, but by saving her–and his daughter–from those intent on destroying them all?

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            I LOVED this last book in the Ladies of the Manor series. Ella always seemed an interesting character, but getting more to know her and her spunk and flare for life was so much fun. She is definitely one of my favorite heroines I’ve read about recently. Her tenacity, courage, and loyalty make her such a great character, yet not without her faults. I didn’t really like Cayton in the other books, but as I got to know him in this one, I couldn’t help but cheer him on. His inability to let go of his sinful past is something that so many struggle with, yet as he learned to accept God’s love for him, he was able to live in freedom. I also really enjoyed how Roseanna continued to have other character’s viewpoints in the book. Seeing some of their struggles really brought a well-rounded dynamic to the story. The climax of the Fire Eyes mystery kept me turning pages, holding my breath at times and then finally at the end letting out that satisfied sigh. No character is as he, or she, seems, and Roseanna always had a surprise waiting in the next few pages. I would highly recommend this whole series, not only because of the premise and how she carries it out, but because of the level of quality throughout all three books. Roseanna does a fantastic job, and not once was I bored while reading, or tempted to pick up some other book.

About the Author

Biography from Bethany House’s website: Roseanna M. White pens her novels beneath her Betsy Ross flag, with her Jane Austen action figure watching over her. When not writing fiction, she’s homeschooling her two children, editing and designing, and pretending her house will clean itself. Roseanna is the author of nine novels, ranging from biblical fiction to American-set romances to her new British series. Roseanna lives with her family in West Virginia. Learn more at www.RoseannaMWhite.com.

I was given a review copy of A Lady Unrivaled from the author. I received no monetary compensation for my review. The opinions expressed are my own.

Without Warning

imgresBook Review: Without Warning

Author: Lynette Eason

Review by Grace Olson

The Story

Back Cover from Revell Publisher’s website for Without Warning:

Intensity. Skill. Tenacity.

The bodyguards of Elite Guardians Agency have it all.

Katie Singleton, a partner with the Elite Guardians Protection Agency, stumbles upon her next assignment quite by accident. Spotting blue lights at a familiar restaurant, she stops to investigate, only to discover that owner Daniel Matthews has become the target of someone who will go to any lengths to put him out of business.

Daniel might be concerned, but he’s not convinced that a bodyguard–and a female one at that–is necessary. A new attack and his niece’s urgings are enough to make him reconsider. He and Katie must figure out who’s behind the intimidation and threats–before a would-be killer strikes again.

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            I’ve heard a lot of good things about Lynette Eason’s books, but never felt compelled to try one out for myself. However, I’ve been on a murder mystery kick lately (I’ve been reading a lot of Agatha Christie’s novels), so I thought I’d give Without Warning a try. I was so out of the loop, that I didn’t even realize until halfway through the book that I was reading the second book in the series. Oops. It worked out, though, because this book can easily be read as a stand-alone, though I’m sure reading the books in the series in order would enhance the experience.

I must say, my expectations were high. Did I mention I was reading from the Queen of Crime, Agatha Christie? This book blew me away, though (for those of you who’ve read it, there’s a pun for you. Cheesy, I know.). This novel was action-packed, with suspense riding high. I found myself reading it any chance I got, just to try to figure out who-dun-it, and what they would do next! At one point, I was reading in my room and someone knocked on my door, and I had to take a few seconds to keep from grabbing the nearest pillow to use as a defense against the ‘intruder’. I really was gripped by this story!

I liked the idea of a body guard service made up of a group of women, a different take from what’s been done before by most authors (one of the exceptions being Becky Wade’s Her One and Only). The different viewpoints in the story, particularly Riley’s, were enjoyable to read. This book also tackles the issue of PTSD. Lynette treats it realistically, giving Without Warning more depth. The romance in this book was fun too, but wasn’t really the focus. Trust was a real issue in this book, trusting the people around them, and also trusting God, even when He allows things that don’t make sense.

So this book wasn’t quite Agatha Christie, but I did get sucked in by the adventure. I’ll definitely be taking another look at Lynette’s novels, but not when I’m home alone. At night. With creepy night noises. 😉

About the Author

Biography from Revell Publisher’s website: Lynette Eason is the bestselling author of the Women of Justice series, the Deadly Reunions series, and the Hidden Identity series, as well as Always Watching and Without Warning in the Elite Guardians series. She is the winner of an ACFW Carol Award, the Selah Award, and the Inspirational Readers’ Choice Award. She has a master’s degree in education from Converse College and lives in South Carolina. Learn more at www.lynetteeason.com.

I was given a review copy of Without Warning from the publisher. I received no monetary compensation for my review. The opinions expressed are my own.

The Mistress of Tall Acre

9780800720445Book Review: The Mistress of Tall Acre

Author: Laura Frantz

Review by Grace Olson

The Story

Taken from Revell’s website description of The Mistress of Tall Acre:

There can be only one mistress of Tall Acre . . .

The American Revolution is finally over, and Sophie Menzies is starved for good news. When her nearest neighbor, General Seamus Ogilvy, finally comes home to Tall Acre, she hopes it is a sign of better days to come. But the general is now a widower with a small daughter in desperate need of a mother. Nearly destitute, Sophie agrees to marry Seamus and become the mistress of Tall Acre in what seems a safe, sensible arrangement. But when a woman from the general’s past returns without warning, the ties that bind this fledgling family together will be strained to the utmost. When all is said and done, who will be the rightful mistress of Tall Acre?

Triumph and tragedy, loyalty and betrayal–you will find it all in the rich pages of this newest novel from the talented pen of Laura Frantz.

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As usual, Laura Frantz pulled me into this story with her signature talent for bringing to life a world long passed. I felt as if I were truly living during the tumultuous time that followed the Revolutionary War. The Mistress of Tall Acre was set farther East than some of Laura’s novels, but that didn’t mean that the adventure in the story was diminished. Instead, the adventures and trials that these characters faced were just as dangerous and threatening, just of a different kind.

I enjoyed Sophie’s character. She was lively and spirited, yet when faced with mishaps, she wasn’t eternally (and sometimes unrealistically) strong as some heroines are portrayed to be. A little more down-to-earth, which I enjoyed. I honestly thought that the marriage was going to happen a lot sooner in the story, but anticipating that event actually compelled me to continue reading, as if I needed any encouragement. Lily Cate was a character I absolutely loved, and one I wouldn’t mind reading about in later books (please?). Seamus was a grand hero, though he does have his own share of flaws. The struggle and fight in this story to reach that happy ending was long and grueling at times, a true battle of Revolutionary War proportions for the characters. The twist at the end was unexpected and left me dreading that the story wouldn’t turn out right, which of course it still did. I loved how as Sophie and Seamus faced different difficulties they were pointed to God and His ability to help them, in realistic and natural ways. Sophie’s spiritual journey, and her need to cling to God alone, and leave Seamus in his hands, was moving to read.

The Mistress of Tall Acre had a feel that made me think of Jane Eyre, to a point, which wasn’t exactly what I was expecting, but wasn’t a bad thing. I was glad that this novel didn’t have quite such a bittersweet ending as Jane Eyre. If you’ve enjoyed Laura’s other novels, you’ll enjoy this as well. It’s a little different, what with the story set in civilized society, not the Frontier. But the rich settings, vivid characters, and sweeping stories that’s she’s known for carry through to The Mistress of Tall Acre.

About the Author

Biography from Revell: Laura Frantz is a lover of history, is the author of The Frontiersman’s Daughter, Courting Morrow Little, and The Colonel’s Lady, and currently lives in the misty woods of Washington with her husband and two sons. Learn more at http://laurafrantz.net/

I was given a review copy of The Mistress of Tall Acre from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. I received no monetary compensation for my review. The opinions expressed are my own.