Friday, May 25, 2018

Beaches, Bungalows and Burglaries: A Camper & Criminals Cozy Mystery

Thank you for visiting today.  Heart of the Witch by Deanna Chase came out today.  It is the second book in Witches of Keating Hollow seriesSoul of the Witch is the first book in the series.

Beaches, Bungalows and Burglaries by Tonya Kappes is the first tale in A Camper & Criminals Cozy Mystery series (and it is out today)!  Mae West’s (not the actress) life has been turned upside down.  Her husband, Paul duped people into investing in his Ponzi scheme and Mae did not know until the FBI showed up at their house.  She has lost her home, car and possessions.  Her attorney, after he takes her car keys, states that there are two items that she owns and one of them could help her earn a living.  For some reason, Paul put an RV and the Happy Trails Campground in Normal, Kentucky in Mae’s name.  With no other options, Mae hops into her new home on wheels and heads for Normal.  The brochure shows a beautiful campground on a lake and Mae could use a vacation before making plans for her future.  Mae arrives at Happy Trails and discovers that the brochure was printed twenty years ago.  Mae is surprised to find out that the residents of Happy Trails and Normal were also victims of Paul’s nefarious schemes.  Mae does not think life can get worse, but then she is approached by Detective Hank Sharp (local FBI agent and park ranger).  Paul has escaped from prison and his body has been found floating in Happy Trails gunky lake (covered in green slime).  Mae, of course, is at the top of the suspect list, but there is a town full of alternatives.  She sets out to find the Paul’s killer as well as revitalize Happy Trails.  She will need help and the ladies of The Laundry Club are happy to assist.  Come along to Normal, Kentucky where life is happily never normal.

Beaches, Bungalows and Burglaries was a delight to read.  I found it well-written and entertaining.  It has a nice steady pace throughout the whole book.  Mae West is an interesting and likeable main character.  She would rather wallow in her new home, but she is lacking in clean laundry.  That is how Mae meets the Laundry Club ladies whose stories make Mae wants to help those taken advantage of by Paul.  Mae, though, is lacking in the life skills department (laundry, cleaning, cooking, how to use a Keurig).  It is a good thing she met Dottie and the other ladies of The Laundry Club are willing to help Mae.  The ladies warm up to Mae and set out to help her fix up Happy Trails.  The town has a group of diverse characters and shops.  I loved Happy Trails and the residents.  I like how they come together for dinner and I had not heard of iron skillet smores before this book.  There is a hint of romance in the story (a little flirting or interest expressed).  I am happy the author did not rush Mae into a relationship.  The mystery was straightforward, and I thought the killer stood out like a dog sitting in the middle of a group of cats.  My rating for Beaches, Bungalows and Burglaries is 4 out of 5 stars.  Beaches, Bungalows and Burglaries is an amusing story and I am keen to read Deserts, Driving, and Derelicts (June 29, 2018). 

By the way, isn't the retro cover adorable!  Beaches, Bungalows and Burglaries is available on Kindle Unlimited for those of you that subscribe to the service. I will be sharing my thoughts on Together Forever by Jody Hedlund tomorrow.  It is the second book in Orphan Train series.  I hope you have an enchanting day.  Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Hair of the Dog: A Cypress Cove Mystery

Good Day! Due to the new GDPR Regulations, I need to remind readers of my blog that you can unfollow/unsubscribe from my blog at any time.  I sincerely hope, though, that you will stay with me on my journey through books.  Buried Secrets by Barbara Cameron is out now.  It is the second book in Harvest of Hope seriesThe Diva Cooks Up A Storm by Krista Davis will be out on May 29 along with Murder in Greenwich Village by Liz Freeland.

Hair of the Dog by Carlene O’Neil is the third installment in A Cypress Cove Mystery series.  Penny Lively lives in Cypress Cove, California where she owns Joyeux Winery.  Penny walks into the veterinarian clinic that her cousin, Annie Moore co-owns with Brian Grasser.  She overhears Brian accusing vet tech, Nicole of stealing medication.  Nicole is dismissed, and they hope they have seen the last of her.  The next day, Annie and Penny arrive at the clinic at the same time as Nicole who is picking up her last check.  Annie proceeds into the clinic ahead of Nicole and Penny.  The pair find Annie holding a knife over Brian with blood pooling on the floor.  There was no forced entry, the murder weapon belonged to Annie, and she had a $1 million-dollar motive (plus she was standing over Brian with the knife in her hand).  A distraught Annie asks Penny to investigate and find the murderer.  Penny knows Annie did not harm Brian and agrees to nose around.  There are a couple of suspects who could have committed the crime (Nicole, Claire, Dot) and the people leasing space from Annie and Brian for their rabies vaccine research have been acting secretive. When a second person connected to Annie turns up dead, Penny knows she must work quickly before the killer strikes again. 

Hair of the Dog can be read as a standalone.  Penny’s background is provided for readers.  The book is nicely written, but I found it to be a slow starter.  It is just the right length for a cozy mystery (300 pages).  The mystery has several components and the author provided good misdirection.  There were just the right number of suspects and each had a good motive.  Chief Lucas continually tells Penny to stay out of the investigation, but Penny is dogged (she is very nosy) in her pursuit of the killer (she cannot help herself).   I did notice that he did not mind the information she provided him.  It was interesting to find out more information about how a winery operates.  The author provides beautiful descriptions of the vines, the buildings and the town.  Penny is romantically interested in Connor, the manager of her winery.  There was some flirting between them, but we will have to wait and see how their relationship develops.  There are good characters in Hair of the Dog and the author has developed them as the series progresses. There are plenty of cozy moments with food, wine, chatting with friends, and the events that take place at Joyeux Winery.  I am giving Hair of the Dog 3.5 out of 5 stars.  The first two books in A Cypress Cove Mystery series are One Foot in the Grape and Ripe for Murder.

Thank you so much for stopping by today.  I hope I have helped you find a new book to add to your ever expanding TBR pile.  I will be reviewing Beaches, Bungalows and Burglaries by Tonya Kappes on May 25.   On May 26, I will be featuring Together Forever by Jody Hedlund.  May you have a resplendent day.  Take care of yourself and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Revealing the Dead: Relatively Dead Mysteries

Greetings!  Heart of the Witch by Deanna Chase will be out on May 25.  It is the second book in Witches of Keating Hollow seriesA Passion for Haunted Fashion by Rose Pressey releases on May 29.  It is the sixth book in A Haunted Vintage Mystery series.  I really need more time to read.

Revealing the Dead by Sheila Connolly is the sixth installment in Relatively Dead Mysteries.  Abby Kimball is still contemplating what she wants to do career wise.  In the meantime, she is going to work on renovating the Victorian home she shares with New Newhall.  Abby decides to start with the tiny half bath on the first floor and contacts Maguire Plumbing.  After agreeing to do away with the unusable little room, Jack Maguire starts dismantling it.  Inside the back wall he finds an old wrench that belonged to his father.  Abby can tell that Jack got a psychic shock when he touched the tool, but he takes off before Abby can talk to him.  She wonders how the tool got left inside the wall and wonders if Jack Maguire has similar special abilities.  Through Ellie Walker, Abby is introduced to her new classmate, Danny Allen.  Ellie believes that the young autistic boy has abilities similar to her own and they can communicate in a special way.  When Abby gets an opportunity to meet Danny, she is surprised by the colorful visions she receives from him.  Abby begins by researching the Maguire family tree and then learns more about autism.   Abby soon learns that an incident from the past has startling implications for those in the present day.  Join Abby on her journey in Revealing the Dead.

Revealing the Dead is not a standalone novel.  Each book in the Relatively Dead Mysteries builds upon the previous one as Abby and Ned learn more about their special abilities.  It was nice to catch up with Abby and Ned in Lexington.  However, I am not thrilled with the direction the series has taken (too much science).  I find myself frustrated with Abby.  She has such a wonderful gift and she has failed to fully explore it.  Abby spent a significant amount of time researching in this story which slowed down the pace of the book plus there was a lack of action.  I thought the writing was stilted which is unusual for this author and there was too much repetition.  I felt that Revealing the Dead could have used polishing.  My favorite character is Ellie Walker.  She is a smart young lady who is open and accepting of her gift.  I like her inquisitive nature and her acceptance of others.  It was wonderful the way she stood up for Danny against bullies (it was handled very well).  I believe it is past time for her mother, Leslie to step up.  She needs to work on her relationship with Ned and Abby for Ellie’s sake.  The ending felt incomplete.  We are not told what decision Abby made regarding the Birch School.  I am hoping to see Abby’s character grow in the next book.  She has yet to complete anything since the beginning of the series.  It would be nice if there was less science and more paranormal.   I am rating Revealing the Dead 3 out of 5 stars.  I find the cover for Revealing the Dead to be delightfully spooky.  The other novels in Relatively Dead Mysteries are Relatively Dead, Seeing the Dead, Defending the Dead, Watch for the Dead, and Search for the Dead.

Thank you for visiting today.  I will be featuring Hair of the Dog by Carlene O'Neil next time.  It is the third installment in A Cypress Cove Mystery series.  May you have a blissful day.  Take care and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Dying Truth: A DI Kim Stone Novel

Welcome!  Best Beach Ever by Wendy Wax is out today.  It is sixth book in the Ten Beach Road seriesBought the Farm by Peg Cochran releases on June 5.  I want to mention that Heart of the Witch by Deanna Chase is second book in Witches of Keating Hollow series.  It will be available on May 25.  So many books and too much housework!  I need a cleaning service.

Dying Truth by Angela Marsons is the eighth book in DI Kim Stone series.  DI Kim Stone and DS Bryant are heading back to headquarters when they get a call to the exclusive Heathcrest Academy where a student is on the roof.  By the time they arrive, Sadie Winters is dead.  It looks like a suicide until Kim notices details that are inconsistent with that ruling.  Despite pressure from above to quickly close the case, Kim and her team question the students and teachers.  Kim is surprised when one of the teachers is Joanna Wade (who likes to flirt with Kim).  Kim gets a call from Joanna to meet, but she arrives too late.  Someone got to Joanna before she could talk with Kim.  DS Kevin Dawson connects with Geoffrey Piggott, a student who is similar to Dawson at that age.  Geoffrey provides a key clue to what is happening at this privileged school.  An old tradition has been kept alive and what is happening in the present is connected to a past death.  Kim and her team race to stop another death, but it will come with a great sacrifice. 

Dying Truth is another great installment in the DI Kim Stone series.  The novels in this series build upon each other.  You need to start with Silent Scream (currently $.99 on Amazon) and work your way up to Dying Truth.  I thought the book was well-written with complex characters.  The characters continue to evolve as the series progresses.  I enjoyed getting to know more about DS Kevin Dawson.  I did find the pace a little slow in the beginning of the book, but it picks up as you get into it.  As the mystery develops, the suspense amps up and the pace picks up.  I will say that I was not immediately drawn into Dying Truth as I have been with the other novels in this series.  It took me a couple of chapters to get thoroughly into Dying Truth.  The mystery is multifaceted.   There are several parts (layers) to it and it can be challenging to figure out all the details (I love a twisty mystery).  I have to admit to some tears at the end (I wish I could say more, but I do not want to spoil it for anyone).  I am giving Dying Truth 4 out of 5 stars.  Dying Truth is an intense suspense novel that will have you up very late to find out it turns out.  I am eager for the next adventure with DI Kim Stone.

Thank you for visiting today.   I am sharing my review of Revealing the Dead by Sheila Connolly on May 23.  It is the sixth book in Relatively Dead Mysteries.  I hope you have a captivating day.  Take care and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader

Monday, May 21, 2018

Berried at Sea: A Cranberry Cove Mystery

Felicitations!  I hope everyone had a delightful weekend.  Bear Witness to Murder by Meg Macy comes out on May 29 along with The Diva Cooks Up a Storm by Krista Davis.  If you are looking for a mystery series for the middle schooler (chapter books) in your life, check out A Wells & Wong Mystery series.  The series consists of Murder is Bad MannersPoison is Not Polite, First Class Murder and Jolly Foul Play.  

Berried at Sea by Peg Cochran is the fourth novel in A Cranberry Cove Mystery series.  Monica Albertson is marrying Greg Harper in Cranberry Cove, Michigan.  Monica recently ran into her old college friend, Andrea Bowman in town and invited her and her new husband, Bruce to the wedding.  She soon regrets inviting Andrea and her boisterous, disagreeable husband.  Bruce is later found dead in a boat washed up on the beach by the newlyweds.   An upset Andrea stops by Sassamanash Farm to ask Monica to use her sleuthing skills to track down Bruce’s killer.  It turns out that Bruce was not well-liked and there are a number of people who are not saddened by his death.  Monica has barely begun her deep dive when Andrea is arrested.  She knows Andrea is innocent and intends to prove it.  Who disliked Bruce enough to kill him?  Monica wades through the suspect list and the clues to reveal the killer. 

Berried at Sea is nicely written, easy to read and has a good pace.  It is much shorter than the previous books in this series.  I like the characters in A Cranberry Cove Mystery series. They are well-developed and likeable.  I like the addition of Kit Tanner, Monica’s new baking assistant.  It is a good thing she hired him since she spent little time in the new kitchen.  There are plenty of cozy moments (cooking, chatting, spending time with friends, and lovey dovey moments) as Monica gets married and settles into life with her new spouse.  She is happy to spend time with her new hubby and is not particularly interested in sleuthing (that’s a change). Of course, Greg would prefer she not get involved.  I do wish there had been more on the wedding (I felt shortchanged).  It was interesting to find out about cranberry harvesting.  The mystery was straightforward, and readers will have no problem identifying the culprit.  You do not need many clues to figure it out (armchair sleuths will probably peg the killer without any assistance).  Monica spends time questioning suspects, but there is little action until the end.  The dominant feature of Berried at Sea is romance with the mystery far off in the horizon.  Monica must also spend time consoling Gina.  Jeff and Lauren are working on their wedding.  Lauren keeps changing her mind about details.  She was still dithering about her colors at the end (we will have to wait and see).  Monica and Kit have noticed that groceries are missing. At the end, Monica believes she has stumbled upon the solution.  I wish the author had fully resolved this storyline.   I am giving Berried at Sea 3 out of 5 stars.  I felt that it was not as good as the previous novels in this series.  The other books in A Cranberry Cove Mystery series are   Berried Secrets, Berry the Hatchet, and Dead and Berried.

Thank you for visiting today.  I will be reviewing Dying Truth by Angela Marsons tomorrow.  May you have a glorious day.  Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Beyond the Pale: A World of Spies Mystery

Welcome!  Best Beach Ever by Wendy Wax comes out on May 22.  It is the sixth (and I believe the final) book in Ten Beach Road Novel series. Beaches, Bungalows and Burglaries by Tonya Kappes publishes on May 25.  It is the first book in A Camper and Criminals Cozy Mystery series.

Beyond the Pale by Clare O’Donohue is the first book in A World of Spies Mystery series.  Hollis and Finn Larsson are professors at a local college who have been married for fifteen years.  Hollis feels that Finn does not appreciate her and that their marriage is lacking (stale, dull, predictable).  She has been trying to convince him to travel this summer without success (liven things up).  Hollis is surprised when she hears from David Agnelli whom she trained at the Farm with many years ago.  He needs her help in convincing Finn to do a job.  They need Finn and his reputation (credentials) to obtain a rare manuscript in Ireland that could help save an agent.  The job should last under twenty minutes and then they can enjoy a vacation in Ireland.  The job, though, fails to go as expected.  They show up at Byrnes Antiques, but their contact does not.  Finn and Hollis have fifty thousand euros (courtesy of David) and a trail of mysterious people following them.  They are not the only ones trying to obtain the manuscript.  There are other dubious people after it, and they will do whatever it takes to get it.  Hollis and Finn need to find the manuscript and the missing agent while staying ahead of their adversaries.  Will they make it home alive? 

Beyond the Pale sounded like a great fast-paced mystery/suspense novel, and I enjoyed Claire O’Donohue’s A Someday Quilts Mystery series.  After I finished Beyond the Pale, I wondered if it was the same author.  The best part of the book is the beautiful descriptions of Ireland (the scenery, Trinity College, Book of Kells) and the Irish history.  The one thing I kept wondering throughout the whole book was why had Hollis married Finn and why did she stay married to him.  Finn is more interested in baseball and his adoring fans than Hollis.  The pair seem to have nothing in common.  I never felt any passion or emotion between them.  I never got into Beyond the Pale.  The book starts off with Hollis whining about her marriage (not a good start).  She wanted them to travel during the summer and he had already agreed to teach.  I thought Hollis should plan her trip and go.  I have a feeling Finn would never have noticed she left.  Hollis’ backstory seemed slightly farfetched (unbelievable).  She finished college and trains for the CIA.  She is top of her class, but she gives it up for the love of her life (is anyone buying this) and teaches at a small-town college.  I can understand Finn being at a small-town college.  It makes him a big fish in a small pond (he likes attention, accolades, and admirers).  You knew the mission to Ireland would go sideways, but there seemed to be a bad guy everywhere they turned (who knew them, their names and what they were after).  I found the pacing in Beyond the Pale to be slow which made the book seem so very long (360 pages).  There were some good elements in the story, but it failed to come together.  Identifying the bad guy was child’s play.  I kept thinking the author would throw a twist in at the end because the solution could not be that simple.  Unfortunately, there was not surprise ending.  I am giving Beyond the Pale 2 out of 5 stars.  While Beyond the Pale was not for me, I suggest obtaining a sample to see if the story appeals to you.

I do recommend this authors A Someday Quilts Mystery series (you should check them out).  I am reviewing Berried at Sea by Peg Cochran on Monday.  It is the fourth A Cranberry Cove Mystery.  May you have a tranquil day.  Take care and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader

Saturday, May 19, 2018

The Battered Body: A Supper Club Mystery

Happy Saturday!  Rockets' Dead Glare by Lynn Cahoon comes out on June 5 along with Bought the Farm by Peg CochranThe Spook in the Stacks by Eva Gates will be published on June 12.  You can stock up on novels to read while relaxing on vacation this summer (or at home).  A Supper Club Mystery series includes Carbs & Cadavers, Fit to Die, Chili con Corpses,   Stiffs and Swine, and The Battered Body.

The Battered Body by Ellery Adams is the fifth novel in A Supper Club Mystery series.  James Henry is the head librarian for Shenandoah County Library in Quincy’s Gap.  His father, Jackson is getting married on Christmas Eve to Milla.  James wants the newlyweds to be on their own when they return from their honeymoon, so he has been looking for his own home.  After trying on his suit for the wedding, he notices that his weight has gone up considerably since Milla started cooking for the two men.  James consults nutritionist, Dr. Ruth Wilkins and starts keeping a food journal.  Now if he can just avoid the cheese doodles (and cake, cookies, the break room snack machine).  At dinner about two weeks before the wedding, Milla announces that her sister is coming for the wedding and she will be making the cake.  It turns out that Milla’s sister is Paulette Martine, a famous chef and “Diva of Dough”.  Milla requests that James pick her up at the airport and warns him that Paulette can be “prickly” (that doesn’t bode well).  Prickly turns out to be an understatement for the Diva’s attitude (rude, condescending, and critical are more accurate) and she estranges every person she encounters (unless there are press present).  One morning James receives an early call from Lucy that the Diva has been found dead in the Widow’s Peak Inn kitchen covered in the cake batter she was mixing (what a waste of good cake batter).  The Supper Club members are once again caught up in a murder.  Can they whip up the killer and get the wedding back on track?

The Battered Body is an entertaining cozy mystery.  I thought The BatteredBody was well-written, it had a steady pace and good flow (smooth transitions between sections).  I do recommend reading Carb & Cadavers before embarking on other books in A Supper Club Mystery series.  It will help you get to know the characters, their backgrounds and relationships. There is quite a bit going on in The Battered Body.  The Fitzgerald brothers are intelligent, caring men.  The libraries Elf on the Shelf is missing, and they intend to get it back.  Scott has a girlfriend, and it is putting a strain on the twin’s relationship.  They need to find a lady friend for Francis.  James is hoping to start again with Lucy Hanover, but there may be an insurmountable obstacle in their path to happiness.  James struggle with dieting adds levity to the book.  I thought the author did a wonderful job at portraying the struggle many people have when trying to lose weight (especially during the holiday season and when a famous chef is in town cooking/baking up a storm).  Bennett Marshall, the postal carrier, is going to appear on Jeopardy and he is diligently studying.  Murphy Alistair’s book is coming out soon and the Supper Club is dreading it.  They know that Murphy will not be kind.  It is pleasant to see the changes in Jackson Henry.  He has certainly transformed since the first book in this series, though, there is still is some gruffness about him (adds to his charm).  The mystery was well-crafted, and readers will be surprised at the end.  It is not one that can be completely solved before the reveal (we are not given all the details until later in the book).  I welcomed the delightful quote from Cicero which books lovers everywhere can relate to.  The quote is “a room without books is like a body without a soul”.  I am eager to read the next installment in A Supper Club Mystery series which is Pasta Mortem (available on May 21, 2018)

I will be sharing my thoughts on Beyond the Pale by Claire O'Donohue on Sunday.  It is the first A World of Spies Mystery.  I hope you have a peaceful day.  Stay safe and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader

Friday, May 18, 2018

Lost Books and Old Bones: A Scottish Bookshop Mystery

Good Day!  Dying Truth by Angela Marsons is out today.  The eighth installment in the DI Kim Stone series.  If you enjoy suspense/thriller type of stories, then you want to check out the DI Kim Stone series.  Paige Shelton is the author of A Dangerous Type Mystery series (love it), A Scottish Bookshop Mystery series, Country Cooking School Mystery series, and A Farmer's Market Mystery series (cute series).

Lost Books and Old Bones by Paige Shelton is the third tale in A Scottish Bookshop Mystery series.  Delaney Nichols has relocated to Edinburgh, Scotland where she works at The Cracked Spine, a rare book and manuscript shop.  Delaney has two new friends in medical students Rena and Sophie.  They met when the ladies brought in some antique medical books to sell (which her boss, Edwin MacAlister loves).  She went out to a club with them where they encounter Mallory and Dr. Byron Eban (an odd man).  Dr. Eban has a particular fascination in Burke and Hare (two men who killed to obtain corpses for Dr. Knox to use for medical research).  Dr. Eban believes Edwin owns the scalpels by the famous Dr. Knox (hidden in his not so secret room).  Delaney cannot resist checking for the blades before heading home.  The next morning, Delaney gets a call that someone broke into The Cracked Spine and Mallory was found dead in the alley beside the shop with a skull from the medical school next to her.  Delaney, with the aid of the books, delves into the case to catch the culprit. 

Lost Books and Old Bones can be read alone.  The details a reader’s needs are included in this tale.  Delaney does talk about past cases in the story as well.  I love the setting of this series.  The author provides us with beautiful descriptions of Edinburgh as well as historical tidbits.  Another delightful part of the book is the books referenced (who doesn’t love visiting a bookstore and browsing for hours). The paranormal element (the books in The Cracked Spine give her cryptic clues) is barely present.  I wish the author would incorporate it more into the story.  Burke and Hare are an integral part of the story (mystery).  Ms. Shelton wove their history into the story.  Their tale is creepy and fascinating. Delaney devoted her time to solving the mystery.  She goes around asking questions and people just answer them (I know it is fiction but is this realistic).  You would think someone would tell her to bugger off.  Delaney spends little time at the job that pays her bills, but she does have time for her boyfriend, Tom (and to be jealous of old girlfriend who appeared at the crime scene and happens to be a reporter).  The author does not fully flesh out the secondary characters (Rena & Sophie for example).  I found the pace to be slow especially in the beginning which was also disjointed.  It lacked an ease and flow.  There was too much repetition of certain details (how Delaney is not good friends with Sophie and Rena). The mystery had some interesting components (Dr. Eban is particularly unnerving) and there is misdirection to throw readers off the real killer.  However, it really did not work as I had no trouble identifying the culprit (the who and why).  The story could have used more action (needed something to liven it up).    I am rating Lost Books and Old Bones 3 out of 5 stars.  Lost Books and Old Bones just failed to capture and hold my attention.   The next book in A Scottish Bookshop Mystery series is The Loch Ness Papers and will be released in April 2019.

I appreciate you visiting today.  Next time I will be sharing my review of The Battered Body by Ellery Adams.  May you have a day filled with merriment.  Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Better Off Read: A Bookmobile Mystery

Good Day!  If you enjoy Amish suspense novels, I suggest you investigate Covert Police Detective Unit series by Emma Ashley.  The books in the series include Undercover Amish and Amish Under Fire (both on Kindle Unlimited).

Better Off Read by Nora Page is the first tale in A Bookmobile Mystery series.  Cleo Watkins is the head librarian of the Catalpa Springs Public Library in Catalpa Springs, Georgia.  Unfortunately, a storm recently downed a beautiful old tree right onto the library.  Mayor Jeb Day does not wish to use city funds to revive the library (they have insurance).  Instead, he wishes to make Catalpa Springs a fishing destination with a world class fishing pier and have a floating casino on Tallgrass River.  Cleo still wants to get books out to public and starts taking out Words on Wheels, the bookmobile, out every day.  Cleo has to stop by Krandall House with books ordered by the eccentric Buford Krandall who is in a feud with neighbor, Mary-Rose Garland.  Cleo discovers the front door open, the library in a disarray and Buford dead.  The evidence quickly mounts against Mary-Rose.  Cleo knows her friend did not harm Buford and sets out to prove it with the help of her friends. 

Better Off Read is a humorous cozy with a fast pace.  Cleo Watkins is seventy-five and determined to save her library.  The mayor is determined Cleo will retire and repurpose the library.  Cleo is a smart, spunky strong-minded woman who leads a busy life and has a lead foot when driving (I am amazed she has not had her license revoked).  I appreciate her passion for books and helping others find the right books for them to read.  There is a cast of quirky characters to accompany Cleo in Better Off Read.  There is Ollie, her grandson who does not know what he wants to do with his life.  Leanna who works part-time at the library (before the storm) and is going to college to get her degree in library science.  Henry Lafayette who is smitten with Cleo and has a pub named Mr. Chaucer.  Bitsy Givens is president of the Ladies League, married to the local bank president and puts up with her demanding mother-in-law.  Let us not forget Rhett Butler, the library cat who accompanies Cleo on her rounds in Words on Wheels.  While there are some interesting characters, I felt the author introduced too many of them.  They just kept coming and it is difficult to keep them all straight.  I wish the author had limited the number and focused on developing them (they seemed superficial).  Catalpa Springs is a small Southern town in Georgia near the Florida border.  There is Southern hospitality, plenty of food and gossip flows freely and quickly.  There seemed to be one zany antic after another throughout Better Off Read (I just wanted them to stop).  There is an amazing amount of dialogue in the story.  The mystery had some good components, but it gets lost.  I believe when the solution to the murder is revealed, some readers will be scratching their heads.  The book has a satisfying ending that wraps up all the storylines.  I felt that there was too much going on (I could not begin to describe it all).  Better Off Read had a great premise, but the final product was dissatisfying.  My rating for Better Off Read is 3 out of 5 stars.

Thank you for stopping by today and reading my review.  I will return next time with my thoughts on Lost Books and Old Bones by Paige Shelton.  I hope you have a peaceful and relaxing day.  Take care of yourself and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Dead as a Doornail: A Kenni Lowry Mystery

Welcome!  I am featuring Tonya Kappes today.  Ms. Kappes novels include A Killer Coffee Mystery series, A Magical Cures Mystery series, A Ghostly Southern Mystery series, and her latest A Camper & Criminals Cozy Mystery series (first book out on May 25).  For years, USA Today bestselling author Tonya Kappes has been publishing numerous mystery and romance titles with unprecedented success. She is famous not only for her hilarious plot lines and quirky characters but her tremendous marketing efforts that have earned her thousands of followers and a devoted street team of fans (I am one of them).  Readers can follow Tonya Kappes on Facebook, her Facebook Cozy Krew, Twitter, Goodreads, and Pinterest. You can sign up for her newsletter here.
Dead as a Doornail by Tonya Kappes is the fifth novel in A Kenni Lowry Mystery series.  Kenni Lowry is the sheriff in Cottonwood, Kentucky.  She is enjoying a spa day at Tiny Tina’s courtesy of her boyfriend, Finn Vincent with her best friend, Jolee.  Then Lucy Ellen Lowell barges in demanding an appointment so her nails and hair will be beautiful for upcoming nuptials of  Polly Parker and Mayor Chance Ryaland.  After a lively disagreement, an unhappy Lucy Ellen leaves and comments that Tina will regret not accomodating her.  Lucy Ellen is well-known for her disparaging articles on businesses posted in the Cottonwood Chronicle when she is unable to bully the owner to get her way.   Kenni is looking forward to a quiet evening after the gossip of the salon when her mother barges in with Polly Parker and her mother, Paula.  It seems that Kenni is Polly’s new maid-of-honor  and gets the privledge to wear a large hunter green dress that is reminiscent of Scarlet’s curtain dress in Gone with the Wind (good grief).  Kenni is awakened at 4 a.m. with a phone call from Darnell Lowell.  He has arrived home and found his wife, Lucy Ellen dead.  When Kenni arrives at the crime scene and sees Poppa, she knows that Lucy Ellen was murdered.  Chance Ryland and Polly would prefer Kenni to put off her investigation until after their wedding (it is taking attention away from Polly).  Kenni will need to work quickly to find Lucy Ellen’s killer before the wedding while handling her maid of honor duties.  It is going to be a long week for Kenni Lowry. 

Dead as a Doornail is the fifth book in the series, and I suggest reading the books in order.  That way you will understand the background on Kenni, her family history, her romance with Finn, and Poppa.   Dead as a Doornail contains good writing and has a nice quick pace which makes for an enjoyable read.  I appreciate Tonya Kappes conversational writing style.  Cottonwood is the quintessential small town where gossip runs rampant, doors are not locked, favors are a way of life and everyone has advice to give on your love life.  As sheriff, Kenni finds herself in an unusual position.  It will soon be time for re-election and she cannot alienate the voters which is how Kenni finds herself in awkward (and unwelcome) position of being Polly’s maid of honor.  Kenni’s mother will having you laughing with her antics and how she manipulates Kenni.  Cottonwood has several quirky characters that use charming Southern colloquialisms.  The mystery is a nail biter. Dead as a Doornail is a lighthearted cozy mystery that will have readers chuckling frequently and puzzled by the killer’s identity.  You can purchase Dead as a Doornail on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, and Bookbub.

Thank you for stopping by today.  I hope you will take the time to check out the other stops on the tour.  There are spotlights, author interviews, character interview, character guest posts, and book reviews.  I will be reviewing Better Off Read by Nora Page on May 17.  May you have a day filled with joy.  Take care and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader


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May 19 – MJB Reviewers - REVIEW

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