Bite-Size Book Reviews

I haven’t published a “weekly” book review since the end of October. Oops. Excuses… NaNoWriMo, followed by Christmas. I read at least 15 books in that time, even if I didn’t get much writing done. The following, except for the Mary Stewart book, are all Christian fiction in a variety of genres.



1. Last Light, Paperback, by Terri Blackstock

Last Light is the first book in the Restoration series, about a Y2K-style event happening in the suburbs. That setting made it unusual. It wasn’t in the country, where it’s easier to improvise water, heat, and food, and it wasn’t exactly like Y2K, which was a predicted event. This was a devastating event that happened with no warning. The characters were interesting, with believable responses and relationships for that setting. The mystery seemed like a secondary event, but it was wrapped up neatly at the end. I am looking forward to the rest of the series.


grandmothersletters2. Grandmother’s Letters, Kindle, by Rebekah Jones

This is a sweet story with unexpected plot twists. Several story lines run separately for most of the story, gradually connecting near the end. Ms. Jones is good at writing about relationships. The characters are well-defined and interact naturally; the crotchety old man and the children are especially engaging. Although the plot is mostly about a treasure hunt, the resolution to that puzzle is almost anti-climactic after more interesting discoveries along the way.



withoutatrace3. Without a Trace, Audiobook, by Colleen Coble
This is the first book in the Rock Harbor series. Ms. Coble does a good job of portraying a terrifically-stressed heroine who is dealing with the recent deaths of her husband and son as well as demanding relatives and a career made more complex by her personal situation. There is a particularly effective plot thread in the story that makes the reader anticipate its discovery by the characters. It’s set in the far north, with canine search and rescue teams. What’s not to love about that?




4. Tarnished Silver, Kindle, by Chautona Havig
Chautona Havig is a writer who can cross genres and styles while still maintaining her own “voice.” Tarnished Silver is a story of two stubborn people who are forced to confront the 25 year old secret they thought they had buried. Their story reminded me of the urgent attitude of the young lovers in Romeo and Juliet. The story is enhanced by a sensitive portrayal of multicultural relationships.





5. Madam, Will You Talk? paperback, by Mary Stewart

Retro Read! This is an old favorite from Mary Stewart, who has the gift of being able to balance exotic locations, romance, young and old friends and family members in a complex mystery. Her books always have brave heroes, dashing heroines, bad bad guys and tension, usually with violence. This one has a surprising motive and resolution, with a heart-wrenching twist at the end. But don’t worry, they all live happily ever after.



thesurvivor6. The Survivor, audiobook, by DiAnn Mills

This book is a sequel to “The Chase”, which I loved. I have to admit, I started this book feeling annoyed that the relationship between the hero and heroine from “The Chase” had fallen apart. It is a well-plotted story, keeping me uncertain about the secondary characters. Almost any of them could have been guilty, including the damsel-in-distress. This book is on the edgy side of Christian fiction, with considerable violence and immorality (not in the main characters!) I liked the book very much, as I do all of Ms. Mills’s novels, but I hope the romance sticks this time.

Bite-size Book Reviews – Cathe’s Weekly Reading Digest


Bite-size, digest… Get it? An intestinal play on words there… and my kids say I have no sense of humor. HA!

I did quite a bit of writing this week, especially as I participated in Jeff Goins’s Intentional Blogging Challenge, but I still managed to read several books. This week’s books were all mystery/suspense, in a variety of styles, from different time periods.


  1. “Not Quite Dead Enough and Booby Trap”, both audio, by Rex Stout

Nero Wolfe and Archie Goodwin make fun reading while I am sewing. Rex Stout’s stories span several decades; these two are set during WWII, and that seemed to give them more substance. Michael Pritchard reads most of these books. I like them.

  1. “Baggage Claim”, kindle, by Amanda Tru

This short book was all action. The characters jumped right in, ran hard until the end and then it ended. The chase was exciting, but I never got to know the characters. Not a bad book, though. Hopefully it’s only the introduction to a series that will have longer stories and more character development. I would read the series. I really only downloaded it because I am writing a story with that same name and I was curious to see if we had similar plots. We don’t.

  1. “Breach of Trust”, kindle, by DiAnn Mills

Christian fiction. DiAnn Mills’s novels are very well-researched, with solid plots that don’t get sacrificed for the sake of a romantic, wrap-it-up ending. She’s not afraid to pull punches, either. I was surprised, several times, and wondered how the author would make it all work out. I can always count on DiAnn Mills for a good story.

  1. “A Key to Death”, hardcover, by Richard and Frances Lockridge

Retro Read! Traditional detective story, published in 1954. A well-plotted murder mystery featuring Mr. and Mrs. North and a law firm that’s rapidly losing senior partners. This one had several twists. Because I have read it before, I knew the ending, but it’s not a predictable solution!



  1. “Trojan Odyssey”, audio, by Clive Cussler

I’ve read this one before. Mr. Cussler does some audacious things with history – and he almost gets us to wonder if it really happened that way! Dirk Pit saves the world yet again. The nice thing about listening to Clive Cussler novels is that I don’t have to pay close attention. If he mentions a boat, he will tell you when and where it was built, by whom, who commissioned it and for what purpose, what kind of engine it has and why that is a good/bad choice. So if I miss a few minutes, it was probably just description. I like these stories, though. They are clean fun. The bad guys are really bad and the good guys are really good.

  1. “Tomorrow’s Sun”, kindle, by Becky Melby

Christian fiction. I am enjoying this one. It’s a little strange, because it’s set in my own town, and the author really knows the area. At one point, the characters raced within a few blocks of my home, on their way to the hospital. I’m glad they knew the shortcut, or they would never have made it there in time! It’s set in two time periods (don’t worry – no time travel, just two sets of people who lived in the same house, one during the Civil War and one in the present.) The modern hero and heroine of this story are startlingly realistic. As I read the story, their personalities, convictions and motivations seem perfectly natural to me. I look forward to finishing it soon.

  1. “Legend in Green Velvet”, paperback, by Elizabeth Peters

I haven’t read anything by Elizabeth Peters in a couple years, but I pulled some of her books off the shelves for my last blog post and was hooked into this one. It’s one of her stand-alone books, with the usual smart-aleck characters in improbably situations. I love it. She’s one of my favorite authors.