A Test of Wills is the first book in Charles Todd's Inspector Ian Rutledge mystery series. He has returned home from war--the first world war--and isA Test of Wills is the first book in Charles Todd's Inspector Ian Rutledge mystery series. He has returned home from war--the first world war--and is on his first case. It will prove challenging in more ways than one. First, the war has left him changed--broken, confused, uncertain. Second, the case itself is tricky. One of the suspects is super-friendly with royalty, and there is pressure to solve the case, but, solve it in such a way that there isn't a scandal. He is arriving on the scene several days after the crime, the murder, and he doesn't even see the crime scene or the body. His work mainly has him interviewing anyone and everyone that might have seen something--or heard something. But there aren't many leads that are fruitful. He has a handful of clues, but, the clues lead him to no one person. There's always something off. For example, the person with the best motive, has an alibi that is solid. The people with opportunity have no motive, etc. So can he do it? can he solve the case?
I liked this one well enough. Ian Rutledge is so very, very different from Bess Crawford. (I've read two or three of the Bess Crawford mystery series also by Charles Todd). Both show the effect of the war certainly. Bess Crawford mainly does this through her other characters: Bess is nursing men who have been wounded--sometimes severely--and/or are suffering from post traumatic stress disorder. The soldiers we meet in the Crawford mystery series certainly showcase the effect of war. But with the Ian Rutledge series it is completely different. It's an inside-out look, for better or worse. Ian is very broken, very disturbed, and we're in his head for the most part. It was an interesting aspect and added a new level to the mystery. ...more
I definitely found Conjured by Sarah Beth Durst to be a compelling and surprisingly romantic read. What I enjoyed most about this dark YA novel is theI definitely found Conjured by Sarah Beth Durst to be a compelling and surprisingly romantic read. What I enjoyed most about this dark YA novel is the mystery. Readers are kept clueless, just as clueless as the heroine herself. Her name, so she's been told, is Eve. What can Eve remember? Not much. And the two people "closest" to her, well, they're odd sorts. One, Malcolm, seems honorable enough, but still crazy mysterious. The other, Nicki, seems mysterious too, but, also antagonistic. Both seem anxious for Eve to recover her memories, but, are trying to pretend that it's no big deal, that the memories will come--or not--as they will. Eve definitely feels PRESSURE from almost everyone in her life.
Eve has, for better or worse, started a job at a library. She meets a boy around her own age, Zach. I would say that he's unlike any other boy she's ever met, but, since Eve has no memories at all of her past, and surprisingly few of her present, that would not be worth much. But Zach is special, and, he thinks Eve is very, very special indeed. Zach isn't the only "young person" she's met since leaving the hospital. She's also met a few others, that are STRANGE, STRANGE, SUPER-STRANGE.
Conjured is a book that celebrates MYSTERY. Eve is on a journey of self-discovery, and, the mystery she's trying to solve is herself... ...more
There's good news and bad news. Which to start with?! I'll start with the good news, I suppose.
The good news is that there is very little distinctivelThere's good news and bad news. Which to start with?! I'll start with the good news, I suppose.
The good news is that there is very little distinctively Christian content within Lady Maybe. Why is that good news? Well, you don't have to be unChristian to have disdain for "Christian romances." Some Christians avoid it perhaps for the reason that "Christian fiction" is "preachy." Some perhaps for the reason that "Christian fiction" rarely contains realistic content: characters that are actually, genuinely sinners--or so they say.
I can honestly say that there is nothing within Lady Maybe that could be considered preachy. The first slight evidence of "Christian content" comes in at around three hundred pages. The main character, Hannah, prays or speaks of praying. And another character reminds her that Jesus forgives all who ask. I can also say that the characters are certainly sinners living in a sin-filled world. For example, the main character is a "fallen woman". (view spoiler)[Hannah, the heroine, is a fallen woman. During her employ, she was seduced by Sir John who was angry and hurt by his wife's cheating. He arranges another job for her so they do not continue to fall into sin. He's worried that so long as she's in the house--she'll be a constant temptation to him to commit adultery. He also chooses that time to move with his wife. Hannah keeps her pregnancy a secret, and has Sir John's child with him being no wiser for it. Hannah's sudden re-entry for their lives is a bit of a shock for him. But what can he say when his wife surprises him within two or three minutes of them getting into the carriage to leave for their new home?! Readers, of course, know nothing of their past. As I said, this is a secret-driven romance.
The carriage tumbles off a cliff, and Sir John and a woman are recovered. Everyone assumes that the woman by his side is his wife. And she is, in fact, clutching a ring belonging to Lady Mayfield. As you might have guessed--as I guessed almost right away--Hannah is that woman. Sir John does recover, but, he finds it wonderfully fun to have a new "Lady Mayfield." And he's beyond thrilled to learn that he has a son, Danny. (Danny was brought to their home while Sir John was still in a coma.) He loves putting Hannah in tricky situations. Asking the doctor when he can start sleeping with his wife again. Insisting that she sleep by his side.
But Sir John is not Hannah's only temptation. James, Sir John's solicitor, comes around. He is anxious to prove that Lady Mayfield is TROUBLE. But, he falls in love with her himself. It doesn't help that he ever-so-accidentally comes across a just-finished-bathing still-very-extremely-exposed Hannah. James becomes a little lust-driven to say the least. He learns her true identity, and, is relieved that she isn't Marianna after all. He has heard too many stories about her.
The book has dozens of twists and turns, and, yes, I've spoiled a small number of them. It isn't so much the fact that Hannah is a "fallen woman" who has had a child out of wedlock that is objectionable. It is the amount of graphic detail involved in the storytelling--past and present. Now this "graphic detail" might be laughable compared to other SMUTTY ROMANCES published secularly. But for any reader who finds such content undesirable, it will be disappointing or frustrating. (hide spoiler)] The characters subtly point to the message that forgiveness is offered to all by Christ. I say subtly because there is nothing preachy--nothing obvious--about this one.
Now, the bad news. The bad news is that there is very little distinctively Christian content within Lady Maybe. It would be unfair for me to generalize that all readers of Christian romance read exclusively Christian romances, or, that Christian readers avoid secular romances. But some readers--at least--do exclusively read Christian romances, and, there is a reason for this. They want their romances to be clean, absent of graphic details, a high purity quality especially between unmarried characters, but lacking of intimate details even between married characters. (Some secular books are capable of this. Georgette Heyer, for example, comes to mind.) But sadly, more and more Christian romances are failing this standard. Some readers perhaps--like myself--have learned the hard way that reading "smutty books" is spiritually dangerous or unwise. Some readers hold themselves accountable to a higher standard, not caring what everyone else is reading, or what everyone else considers fine for reading.
Lady Maybe is a Regency Romance set during 1819. Marianna and Sir John are unhappily married. She has had a lover since the very beginning. Sir John is aware of his wife's cheating, but, hopes that if he keeps on forgiving her that even if it takes three hundred or so chances, that their marriage might eventually work out. Hannah Rogers, the heroine, has been in and out of their lives. She was first hired to be a companion for Marianna, (Lady Mayfield). She left her job--suddenly--and then returned a year later asking for past wages. She ended up getting rehired as a companion for the Lady. The couple is--for better or worse--moving yet again. Sir John is trying to "hide" his wife from his lover and cut off all communication between the two. But an accident within the first few chapters of the book changes everything….
Lady Maybe is a secret-driven, surprise-heavy historical romance. The characters are well-drawn. Marianna. Hannah. James Lowden. Sir John. Becky (the wet nurse). Dr. Parrish. Mrs. Parrish. Mrs. Turrill, the housekeeper. I could go on. There were plenty of characters that I genuinely started to care about and/or got the chance to know. That is a strength, I won't deny it. I have read Christian romances where 90% of the characters are completely one-dimensional and essentially lifeless. That is not the case with Lady Maybe.
Was it compelling? Yes. I admit that it was. But was it bordering on inappropriate for picky readers? Yes. I think it was. ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
Sarah Sundin is one of my favorite authors. She writes historical romances set during World War II. I enjoy many historical romances; some more than oSarah Sundin is one of my favorite authors. She writes historical romances set during World War II. I enjoy many historical romances; some more than others perhaps. I enjoy reading novels set during World War II--romance or not. So Sarah Sundin is a definite treat for me. I look forward each year to reading her newest book. Often her books are released in August, and anything that you can look forward to in August is a GOOD thing in my opinion.
Through Waters Deep is the first book in her new series. Readers meet Mary Stirling, a secretary for Boston's Navy Yard, and Jim Avery, an ensign in the Navy. These two knew each other--though not well--in high school. They've bumped into each other in Boston after several years apart, and are now on ever-increasing friendly terms.
World War II has not started yet, but, that doesn't mean there's not a lot of activity. Boston is a city full of opinionated people. Some anxious to have the United States join the war. Some determined to avoid war at all costs. When the two groups meet and mingle, well, trouble is the result. (The novel opens in March 1941, and ends shortly after the bombing of Pearl Harbor in December 1941).
Through Waters Deep is a great read. Readers meet plenty of characters, the main characters, of course are Jim and Mary. Other novels may explore other characters introduced in this one perhaps. (I hope so!) I loved the characterization. I loved the romance. I enjoyed the mystery. Yes, MYSTERY. For Mary is a smart woman good at detecting trouble and solving crimes. She knows that SOMETHING is going on at the Navy Yard, and believes it to be serious…
I enjoyed meeting Tuesday McGillycuddy and her dog Baxterr, the stars of Angelica Banks' Finding Serendipity. The novel takes place on the last day ofI enjoyed meeting Tuesday McGillycuddy and her dog Baxterr, the stars of Angelica Banks' Finding Serendipity. The novel takes place on the last day of school/first day of summer vacation. On the way home from school--she's roller skating, by the way--she stops to make a wish at a fountain. She'd never tell the wish aloud, who would? But the reader learns that the wish is that her oh-so-famous mother Serendipity Smith would finish the final novel in her oh-so-popular series. (Vivienne Small and the Final Battle.) Her father welcomes her home with baked goodies, but, Tuesday is too excited about her mother possibly finishing the series to enjoy a snack or even dinner. Her mother is upstairs in her office writing...and mustn't be disturbed. But when it becomes late--past her bedtime perhaps--the two open the door to discover an empty room and an open window. The Dad? Well, he's not worried. But Tuesday, well, she's super-worried! Where did her Mom disappear to?
Tuesday, for better or worse, decides to GO in search of her mom. And that journey starts at the typewriter her mom uses in her office. Before she knows what's happening, Tuesday's own story, her own adventure, has begun...and her oh-so-faithful dog, Baxterr is by her side, of course.
Tuesday's adventure is something....and the "world" she visits is fun in a dangerous sort of way. But I won't be sharing the details of her adventures there and who she meets... That wouldn't be nice of me at all!
I liked this one. I did. It was a quick, light read. It is a bit cutesy, I admit. ...more
I am continuing to love the Bess Crawford mystery series by Charles Todd. Bitter Truth is the third book in the Bess Crawford series. The book opens wI am continuing to love the Bess Crawford mystery series by Charles Todd. Bitter Truth is the third book in the Bess Crawford series. The book opens with Bess on leave--once again. Bess takes pity on a woman, a stranger, named Lydia. She's distraught and she's clearly been beaten. For better or worse, Bess becomes very involved in a family matter. Good will come out of it perhaps, but, not without sacrifice and risk. For Bess says yes to Lydia's pleas to come home with her, and agrees to pretend to be her long-time friend in front of Lydia's family including her husband, Roger. How will Lydia's in-laws react to her bringing someone home? Surely Roger will mind the interference, right?
The family Bess meets is a strange one in many ways--dysfunctional certainly. But is anyone in the family capable of murder? For that is what we all know it will come down to...a mystery is almost always a murder mystery.
I felt Bess's discomfort throughout the novel. She's witness to some very awkward family scenes. And strangers are confiding in her things that are very personal, almost intimate. Every time Bess tries to leave the family--something happens to prevent it. Though of course, eventually, she does HAVE to leave because she's a nurse stationed in France. Still the family haunts her a bit...
A Bitter Truth is a well-written historical mystery. It wasn't one that I "enjoyed" particularly because enjoy is the wrong word. There was nothing "fun" or "light-hearted" about it. But it was certainly compelling and intense. ...more
Eponine has always been one of my favorite characters from Les Miserables. I've always felt sympathy for her. And so I was quite excited to see that SEponine has always been one of my favorite characters from Les Miserables. I've always felt sympathy for her. And so I was quite excited to see that Susan Fletcher has written Eponine's story in her novel, A Little In Love.
Is an understanding--an appreciation, a love--for the novel Les Miserables a must for picking this one up? I wouldn't say it's a must. I wouldn't want to limit the audience for this one. Certainly this book will mean more to the reader who has at least watched one of the movie adaptations (though I'm not sure all movie adaptations even have Eponine's character?) But the most enthusiastic fan may just be the reader who has read Victor Hugo's Les Miserables--and unabridged at that! But any reader who is drawn to historical fiction set in nineteenth century France will find this of interest.
The framework of this one does make sense. I'm not always a big fan of stories told within a framework. But it is wisely done in this one. The narrator--Eponine herself--is not being melodramatic. She is, in fact, dying. And in a way, the whole book is a flashback showing us moments in her life that have led up to this moment--this heroic, tragic, bittersweet moment. This adaptation does not change the ultimate outcome.
Is it faithful to Victor Hugo's novel? Yes, for the most part. I do think a few details are changed along the way. And I do think plenty has been added, filled out, if you will. The characters we meet in A Little in Love are fleshed out.
So did I like it? love it? I really enjoyed it. It is one I read all at once--like a treat. I admit that I'm probably the ideal reader for this one since Les Miserables is one of my most favorite, favorite books of all time...more