Fiction review: Belinda Blake and the Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing

Belinda Blake and the Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing by Heather Day Gilbert is another fun and scary adventure with exotic pet sitter, Belinda. This time, she’s working in a wolf preserve.

She hasn’t been on the job long when a man is found dead, his face mauled, and a wolf standing guard above him.

Belinda has a hard time believing anyone would want to kill this person, and she becomes curious. Were the wolves to blame or not?

Before long, another man emerges from a wolf enclosure with an injured hand. After that, another man is dead. This time, there isn’t a mark on him—and he was the wolves’ feeder.

What is happening? Why these deaths?

As Belinda gets closer to her co-workers, she also gets closer to the truth.

I was surprised. Author Heather Day Gilbert made me guess that several different people might be guilty, and she fooled me about the real culprit.

These books are very well written, and I liked this one even more than Snake in the Grass, which was fun, as well. (My review of Belinda Blake and the Snake in the Grass can be accessed here.) I look forward to reading the next one in the Belinda Blake series: Birds of a Feather.

While Mrs. Gilbert is a Christian writer, there are no overt Christian themes in this series. They are, though, perfectly clean reading, delightful, and without any objectionable elements beyond the fact that some of the characters drink alcohol.

Fiction review: Secrets

Secrets is the first book in the Glenbrooke Series by Robin Jones Gunn. I was looking for a fun read that wasn’t sad or complicated, and someone in my reading group recommended this series. I’m glad she did.

Jessica Morgan is driving to her life-changing beginning as a schoolteacher in the little town of Glenbrooke, Oregon. Unfortunately, the hospital is her first taste of her new life. With her lip sewn up and almost no money, she gives the nurse a false last name that she sees on a box in the room: Fenton.

Her rescuer is a firefighter named Kyle, who seems to be the most popular man in Glenbrooke. Jessica isn’t surprised, since he’s friendly, good-looking, and kind.

When school starts, the interim principal seems to have it in for Jessica. When she finds out that Jessica’s using a false name, the treatment gets worse.

Add to that the fact that all Jessica has eaten in several days are Ramen noodles and what she can scrounge at work, and Jessica is desperate. Why didn’t she bring more money with her? With her false name and her desire to hide from her father, she is stuck.

Jessica’s friendly neighbors and Kyle offer to help, but Jessica’s pride won’t let her open up or accept charity.

I can’t go any further without spoiling the story, but there are a lot of sweet, mature elements. I have read Robin Jones Gunn before, but this book stands out with its layers of thoughtful plotting. I enjoyed it, and I think you will, too. I especially loved the ending. It’s well-written Christian fiction.

Fiction review: I’ll Watch the Moon

Ann Tatlock’s I’ll Watch the Moon is a different kind of book from her—based on her grandmother’s story. I absolutely loved it.

She calls it a “love story,” and it is, though it’s not a romance. Told from a little girl’s viewpoint, we learn of Nova’s star-gazing brother, Dewey, and her Auntie Dortha, mother, and two men: Josef and Thomas. She also introduces us to Dewey’s friends and Dewey’s world. Dewey sincerely wants to be the first man on the moon.

Little by little, Josef’s life story unfolds, along with some life-changing happenings in Nova’s life. Unfortunately, I can’t tell more without spoiling.

This is a sweet, lovely read. I enjoyed the sensitivity with which it is told and the authentic historical setting. A wonderful book that I can recommend to anyone. Easily five stars.

Fiction Review: Above the Fog

Above the Fog, by Karen Lynn Nolan begins with this heart-wrenching prayer from twelve-year-old Coreen: “If there really is a God then let the roof of the mine collapse on Daddy today and send him to hell, where he belongs.”

Coreen and her family live in a coal-mining town down a holler in Kentucky. It’s typical of many coal towns—dirt poor. Or, maybe we should say mud poor. The novel begins with a storm followed by a flood and great danger to all the people in the valley.

Coreen and her mother help Grandma and Coreen’s dog, Patches, climb the hill and escape the flood. Everything they owned, which wasn’t much, was left behind in their ramshackle houses.

Coreen’s mom usually escapes in a different way: into novels. She doesn’t have a life outside of them. As the river rises, she realizes with both worry and relief that her husband hasn’t come home.

Several days later, Coreen’s father is found dead—and not a soul is sorry.

Follow Coreen, her mom, and the townspeople as they find out how her father died and what he, her mother, and many others had hidden for years. Follow Coreen and her mother as they discover the truth, which helps them both rise Above the Fog.

This is a great story, real and hard, lightened with some happy moments and giving people. I loved it.

Because of thematic elements, Above the Fog is for older teens and adults, not children. There is no cursing, and sordid details are not elaborated.