Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Whispers In The Reading Room by Shelley Gray

Book review of Whispers In The Reading Room by Shelley Gray

Lydia’s job at the library is her world—until a mysterious patron catches her eye . . . and perhaps her heart.

Just months after the closure of the Chicago World’s Fair, librarian Lydia Bancroft finds herself fascinated by a mysterious dark-haired and dark-eyed patron. He has never given her his name; he actually never speaks to a single person. All she knows about him is that he loves books as much as she does.

Only when he rescues her in the lobby of the Hartman Hotel does she discover that his name is Sebastian Marks. She also discovers that he lives at the top of the prestigious hotel and that most everyone in Chicago is intrigued by him.

Lydia and Sebastian form a fragile friendship, but when she discovers that Mr. Marks isn’t merely a very wealthy gentleman, but also the proprietor of an infamous saloon and gambling club, she is shocked.

Lydia insists on visiting the club one fateful night and suddenly is a suspect to a murder. She must determine who she can trust, who is innocent, and if Sebastian Marks—the man so many people fear—is actually everything her heart believes him to be.

A saloon and gambling den owner is not often the swoon worthy hero in christian historical fiction but in this case, that's exactly who Lydia ends up falling in love with. Not that she had any idea who he was in the beginning but she comes to accept what he does -- and he cleans up his act somewhat in the end but I don't want to say too much about that. It's funny because there's a big line drawn in the story between him and other club owners because he doesn't employ prostitutes and while that is huge, it still would have been a big problem to any upstanding citizen at that point in time that he sold liquor (and drank it) and had an illegal gambling den in the basement. Oh, but the police knew about it and kept quiet because he was kind and also gave them bribes. What? There seemed to be a lot of rationalizing why what he did was ok (and why Lydia didn't make much of a stink when she found out). He is a likeable fella, I'll give you that. Apparently tall dark and handsome too.

It really is a strange tale. Lydia is a pitiable creature in a somewhat miserable existence with drastically reduced means a harpie for a mother so I can see how Sebastian's arrival in her life brings with it a welcome amount of interest and excitement but the whole story is quite odd. I enjoyed it but I couldn't completely suspend the voice of reality in my head as I read. I loved the first two books in the series and I wish the author had continued on with one of the characters from those books - two familiar detectives make appearances but that's all this book has to do with the other two. It didn't feel like part of the same series at all. Not at all.

I received this book from BookLook and Zondervan for the purpose of an honest review. My opinion is my own.

About the Author
Shelley Shepard Gray is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author, a finalist for the American Christian Fiction Writers prestigious Carol Award, and a two-time HOLT Medallion winner. She lives in southern Ohio, where she writes full-time, bakes too much, and can often be found walking her dachshunds on her town's bike trail. Find Shelley on her website,, on Facebook: ShelleyShepardGray, and on Twitter @ShelleySGray.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Vendetta by Lisa Harris

Book review of Vendetta by Lisa Harris (Revell) by papertapepins

No one needs to push Nikki Boyd to excel on the Tennessee Missing Persons Task Force. The case of her own missing sister, still unsolved after ten years, is the driving force in her work. When a Polaroid photo of a missing girl shows up at a crime scene, Nikki quickly recognizes similarities to the past. The closer she gets to the abductor, the more she feels this case has become personal, and she is not the hunter . . . but the hunted.With this explosive first book in The Nikki Boyd Files, award-winning author Lisa Harris takes you on a fast-paced pursuit of justice that will have you holding your breath until the heart-stopping finish.

This book is filled with fast paced action from the beginning to the end... but it doesn't always flow well. It's pretty formulaic, but I was kept guessing as to who the bad guy was. Some of the decisions the characters made or their feelings in a situation seemed a little off to me. I wanted to like this book but it just didn't live up to the cover. The cover looks so mysterious and exciting I couldn't wait to dive into it. 

The whole beginning a romance with your dead best friend's husband is a little off-putting. I know she's been gone a year but it's a little yech. Thankfully it doesn't develop very far in this first book which does help a lot with the plausibility factor. This series just isn't for me.

This book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc. Available at your favourite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.


  1. Lisa Harris

    Lisa Harris

    Lisa Harris is a bestselling author, a Christy Award winner, and the winner of the Best Inspirational Suspense Novel for 2011 from Romantic Times. She has sold over thirty novels and novella collections. Along with her husband, she and her three...
    Continue reading about Lisa Harris

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Fire & Ice by Mary Connealy

Book review of Fire & Ice by Mary Connealy (Bethany House) by papertapepins

Saddle up for mysteries and laughs with the Wilde sisters!
Bailey Wilde is the oldest sister--and the one who takes care of everyone else in her family. But after her sisters marry and move away, her little homestead becomes bleak and lonely, especially during the long winter months. In a moment of weakness, Bailey agrees to a wild plan concocted by her neighbor, Gage Coulter.

Gage is an honest man, but he didn't make his fortune by being weak. He won't break the law, but he'll push as hard as he can within it. Five thousand acres of excellent grazing land is lost to him because Bailey's homestead is located right across the entrance to a canyon full of lush grass. Gage has to regain access to this land--and he's got to go through Bailey to do it. So he makes a proposal...

Can these two independent, life-toughened homesteaders finally loosen up enough to earn each other's respect--and maybe find love in the process?

The last of the Wilde sisters to get settled and married is Bailey. Bailey Wilde has a real fear of men, especially groups of men. Her Pa and her brother were selfish and unkind while she was growing up and the war only served to show a worse side of men.

Gage Coulter is an only child and left Texas to escape his Ma's controlling ways and now she's coming to visit. He's terrified that it might turn into a permanent situation. He's even desperate enough to marry.

While I enjoyed this book, it was the weakest of the three in the series. The first on was by far my favourite. This 3rd book dragged on and then suddenly everything was wrapped up nicely in what seemed like very few pages. I way invested in the Wilde sisters because of the previous books so it was interesting anyways.

I really don't like stories where two people get married and then fall in love because it often leads to more overtly sexual situations that Christian authors would normally write about. While I can't say that was the case here, it does come close to the edge of good taste a time or two and so would not make good reading for a younger teen in my opinion.

This is one of those times I wish I could give a rating of 3.5 stars. 3 and 4 stars seem too far apart.

This book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc. Available at your favourite bookseller from Bethany House, a division of Baker Publishing Group.


  1. Mary Connealy
    Photo courtesy of Ginger Murray Photography

    Mary Connealy

    Mary Connealy writes "romantic comedies with cowboys" and is celebrated for her fun, zany, action-packed style. She has over half a million books sold. She is the author of the popular series Wild at Heart, Kincaid Brides, Trouble in Texas, Lassoed...
    Continue reading about Mary Connealy

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