Thursday, August 16, 2018

Through the Autumn Air: An Every Amish Season Novel

Hello!  A Deadly Brew by Lynn Cahoon will be out on September 4 along with Die Me A River by Denise Swanson.  Hitting the Book by Jenn McKinlay releases on September 11 (I cannot wait for this one).  Now is the time to start hinting for Amazon gift cards for Christmas.

Through the Autumn Air by Kelly Irvin is the third An Every Amish Season Novel.  Mary Katherine Ropp has been a widow for seven years and has just married off the last of her ten children.  Her family has been encouraging her to move out of the family home and into the dawdy haus at her eldest son’s home.  Mary Katherine has a vivid imagination which allows her to write creative stories plus she loves to read.  She has dreamed of opening a bookstore with her Englisch friend, Dottie Manchester.  However, the church elders prefer that Mary Katherine work in the Graber’s Amish-owned combination store.  Ezekiel Miller is a widower who owns the Purple Martine Café in Jamesport.   While he still misses his wife, Ezekiel is attracted to Mary Katherine.  There have been thefts at the local Amish homes.  The items stolen are not valuable monetarily, but they have sentimental value to the owner.  One-night Mary Katherine wakes up to a noise in her kitchen.  She finds a scruffy man assembling a sandwich.  Burke McMillan is a man who is lost spiritually after the deaths of his daughter and wife.  Mary Katherine fixes him a meal and allows him to bunk in the barn.  The next day she takes him to Ezekiel’s café where he gets a job as a cook and a place to live with Ezekiel.  Ezekiel and Mary Katherine see Burke as a project, but it could be that Burke was sent to help them.  Is it possible to get a second chance at love?  Are Ezekiel and Mary Katherine willing to risk their hearts?

While Through the Autumn Air is the third novel in the series, it can be read alone.  Each story focuses on a different character who has lost the love of their life.  The series is set in Jamesport, Missouri is a close-knit Amish community where everyone knows your business.  I thought Through the Autumn Air was well-written and had good pacing.  There are smooth transitions between sections as the point-of-view switches between Ezekiel and Mary Katherine.  I liked that the characters are older.  Mary Katherine is sixty years old, but she is not ready to sit in a rocking chair and knit.  She has raised ten children and they have provided her with twenty-seven grandchildren.  Her children (especially her oldest son Thomas) are trying to force changes on Mary Katherine along with Bishop Freeman and the church elders.  One of my favorite characters is Dottie Manchester.  She is a lively woman with an unusual style of dress.  It is lovely that Ezekiel likes Mary Katherine’s attitude (along with her creativity and curiosity) and does not want to change her (thank heavens).  Some of the Christian themes present in the book are God is in control, to have a strong faith, power of prayer, events happen in God’s timing, and accepting God’s will and plan for our life.  While I liked some aspects of Through the Autumn Air, I have others infuriating.  I did not like how Thomas, Bishop Freeman and the other church elders were trying to control Mary Katherine (I understand it is the Amish way and Mary Katherine states it is a woman’s lot in life to have men in charge).  They wanted to make her move out of her home of thirty-six years, tell her where she could work, who she could or could not go into business with, how she should react to situation, etc.  Mary Katherine is a grown woman who, as long as she is not hurting herself or breaking the law, should be able to manage her own life (I will quit ranting now).  I thought the name of the bookstore was clever along with the tagline (I do not want to spoil it for you).  There are some entertaining moments in Through the Autumn Air that had me chuckling.  One of my favorites is Mary Katherine riding in Tony’s rickety car.  My rating for Through the Autumn Air is 3.5 out of 5 stars.  Through the Autumn Air is sweet Amish novel with romance, mystery, humor, good food, and a love of books. 

The first two novels in An Every Amish Season series are Upon a Spring Breeze and Beneath the Summer Sun.  Thank you for dropping by today.  Tomorrow I am sharing my thoughts on Cottage by the Sea by Debbie Macomber.  May you have a gleeful day.  Take care and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Murder at the Mansion: A Victorian Village Mystery

How are you doing?  In the Dog House by V.M. Burns will be released on August 21 along with As the Tide Comes In by Cindy WoodsmallGoodbye Cruller World by Ginger Bolton comes out on August 28 along with Halloween Murder by Leslie Meier.  

Murder at the Mansion by Sheila Connolly is the beginning of A Victorian Village Mystery series.  Katherine “Kate” Hamilton left her home of Asheboro, Maryland after high school.  Katie currently works at Oriole Suites Hotel in Baltimore and is surprised when she gets a call from Lisbeth Scott, her best friend in high school.  A storm went through Asheboro a few weeks ago causing severe damage and many of the residents do not have insurance to cover repairs.  The town is on the verge of going under and they want Kate’s assistance.  The town council had been convinced to buy the Old Barton home (a beautiful Victorian mansion) by Cordelia Walker.  It turns out she had personal motivations for the venture and her plan would not benefit Asheboro.  They are hoping Kate can use her skills to come up with a viable and inexpensive plan for to resurrect the town.  Kate tours the Barton mansion and meets the caretaker, Josh Wainwright.  She is surprised to see it in such beautiful condition.  It is like stepping back in time to the Victorian era, and Kate begins to formulate a plan.  As Kate exits the mansion with Josh, she finds her high school nemesis, Cordelia Walker dead on the front steps.  Detective Reynolds of the Maryland State Police Criminal Division is in charge of the case, but he could use someone local to be his eyes and ears.  Since the Oriole was bought out, Kate has the time to aid the town and Detective Reynolds.  While in Asheboro working on her plan for the town and researching the Barton family, Kate delves into Cordelia’s life looking for clues.  What had Cordelia uncovered that got her killed?  Join Kate on her inaugural mystery in Murder at the Mansion.

Murder at the Mansion contains good writing and with varying pacing.  The story starts out strong as we are introduced to Kate.  I like the main character as she is smart, likeable, hardworking, and willing to help her hometown.  Kate does need to work on her self-confidence (don’t we all).  I like the books concept of a struggling small town with a beautiful Victorian home.  If something is not done to draw in tourists, Asheboro will die quickly.  The Barton mansion sounds gorgeous.  I just loved the descriptions of the Victorian masterpiece (I would love to own this home).  I like the vision Kate came up with for the town and I am looking forward to seeing it come to fruition in future books in this series.  The mystery has layers to it which are revealed as Kate searches for clues and I like that the mystery ties into the Barton mansion.  I wish, though, that it had been harder to pinpoint the guilty party.  I found the pace to vary throughout the story and it was especially slow in the middle.  There was too much repetition and speculation.  I feel that the book needed further editing.  If Murder at the Mansion had been tightened up, it would have been a much better cozy mystery.  I was curious as to why Kate did not look up information online.  She kept wanting details on the original owner of the Barton home, but she did not do the obvious.  There is mild foul language in the book (and it is not needed).  Overall, I thought Murder at the Mansion was an intriguing first novel in A Victorian Village Mystery series.  I am giving Murder at the Mansion 3 out of 5 stars.  I am curious to see what happens next as Kate works to save Asheboro.

Sheila Connolly's next novel is The Lost Traveller in A County Cork Mystery series.  It will be out on January 8, 2019.  Thank you for visiting today.  I will be sharing my thoughts on Through the Autumn Air by Kelly Irvin next time.  I hope that you have a spectacular summer day.  Take care and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

The Hope Jar: First Novel The Prayer Jar Series plus a Giveaway!

 A Brand-New Series from New York Times Best Selling Author 
Wanda E. Brunstetter.
What happens when making an elderly Amish couple very happy means going along with a lie that gets bigger by the day?

Michelle Taylor is not who her new family in Lancaster County believes her to be. The Lapps were looking for their long-lost granddaughter when they met Michelle and she assumed the identity of Sara Murray. Once homeless and hopeless, Michelle has come to love her new Amish friends and even considers the idea of romance among them.
Finding an old blue jar in the barn that is filled with slips of paper containing thoughts, quotes, and prayers by an unknown author becomes a boost to Michelle’s budding faith— but also convicting. How can she tell the truth without hurting the ones she has truly come to love?

Click here to purchase your copy!

About the Author

Brunstetter is one of the founders of the Amish fiction genre. She has written close to 90 books translated in four languages. With over 10 million copies sold, Wanda’s stories consistently earn spots on the nations most prestigious bestseller lists and have received numerous awards.
Wanda’s ancestors were part of the Anabaptist faith, and her novels are based on personal research intended to accurately portray the Amish way of life. Her books are well-read and trusted by many Amish, who credit her for giving readers a deeper understanding of the people and their customs.
When Wanda visits her Amish friends, she finds herself drawn to their peaceful lifestyle, sincerity, and close family ties. Wanda enjoys photography, ventriloquism, gardening, bird-watching, beachcombing, and spending time with her family. She and her husband, Richard, have been blessed with two grown children, six grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren.

Do you want to make your own Prayer Jar!  Want to make your own prayer jar to pass along to future generations? CLICK HERE to download a printable template you can use to write your sentiments on. Simply cut out each strip of paper when you’re finished and put them in the jar of your choice.

My Thoughts on The Hope Jar

The Hope Jar is a lovely, fulfilling story.  I thought it was well-written with steady pacing which makes the book easy to read (and enjoy).  The Hope Jar captured and held my attention.  It is an intriguing and thought-provoking novel.  The book contains good characters with my favorite being the Lapp’s.  They are such sweet, welcoming down-to-earth people.  Mary Ruth shares her love, wisdom and faith with her family, friends and the people she encounters on her journey through life.  I could feel the Lapp’s heartbreak when they found out that Michelle was deceiving them.  While The Hope Jar focuses on Michelle, there are sections with Sara’s story from her point-of-view.  I hope we find out more about Sara in the next novel.  We get to see Michelle grow throughout the story, though, she still has a way to go (as do we all).  At the end of the book, there are still unresolved issues.  I like the inclusion of the history of the Amish people.  It provides insight into the Amish religion and their way of life.  There are discussion questions and recipes at the end of the book.  The Hope Jar is a story of faith, hope and love.  I look forward to reading The Forgiving Jar when it releases (February 1, 2019).

To celebrate her tour, Wanda is giving away a grand prize that includes a $25 Amazon Gift Card, jar-shaped notepad, and a copy of The Hope Jar (with an autographed bookplate inside).  Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click here to enter.

Thank you for stopping by today and I hope you will take the time to visit the other stops on The Hope Jar Book Tour (see schedule below). I will return tomorrow with my review of Murder at the Mansion by Sheila Connolly.  May you have a blessed day.  Take care and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader

Blog Stops

Among the Reads, August 14
The Avid Reader, August 14
Just Commonly, August 15
Genesis 5020, August 16
Mary Hake, August 16
Bigreadersite, August 16
Lighthouse Academy, August 17
Splashes of Joy, August 20
SusanLovesBooks, August 20
Cafinated Reads, August 23
Quiet quilter, August 23
Carpe Diem, August 24
Texas Book-aholic, August 26

Monday, August 13, 2018

A Thief Revealed by Heather Sunseri: First Novel in International Thief series

Salutations!  Bloodlust by Midnight by Deanna Chase is out today.  It is the second installment in Last Witch Standing series.  Vampire hunter and witch Phoebe is trying to find her missing brother, but a new drug is causing trouble in New Orleans.  Phoebe needs to track down the maker and save Dax.  Tomorrow Through the Autumn Air by Kelly Irvin releases.  It is the third An Every Season Amish Novel.

A Thief Revealed by Heather Sunseri is the first book in International Thief series.  Lola Parks made a mistake eleven years ago and she has been paying for it ever since.  She was trained to be a thief who can mingle with society and acquire high ticket items.  Lola’s latest assignment is to acquire the Gaft Diamond from Lady Sarah Somerset at her birthday bash.  After successfully obtaining the item, Lola is mingling with the guests before she departs.  Then Lady Sarah rejoins the bash with blood dripping down her dress.  It seems there is another thief after the valuable diamond, and they cut off Lady Sarah’s finger to obtain it.  When they discover it is a fake, this thief will go to great lengths to obtain its quarry.  Dimitri Tobias was hired by Lord Somerset, Sarah’s father, to keep the family and their valuables safe (if they would just let him do his job).   When Lady Sarah ends up dead, Dimitri sets out to capture her killer and recover the diamond.  But when Dimitri meets the lovely Lola, he knows she is not a killer (thief—yes).  The ruthless bandit, though, will do whatever it takes to capture Lola and get their hands on the diamond.  Dimitri and Lola team up to stop the merciless killer.  But what happens when Lola steals Dimitri’s heart?

A Thief Revealed is a fast-paced romantic suspense.  For those of you who have read the In Darkness series, you will remember dashing and enigmatic Dimitri Tobias.  If you have not read In Darkness series, it will not be a problem.  I thought A Thief Revealed was well-written with thefts, murder and liaisons.  Two intriguing characters who are on opposite sides, but they manage to work together (and not just professionally).  The story is told in alternating point-of-views (just like the In Darkness series).  We get to experience the story from Lola, Dimitri and the cut throat killer.  You can feel the chemistry between Lola and Dimitri (smoldering heat).  I would have liked more character development regarding Lola and to know more about her early years.  At the end of A Thief Revealed, readers are left with some unanswered questions.  We will have to wait for A Thief Consumed (October 11) to get those answers.  My rating for A Thief Revealed is 4 out of 5 stars.

Thank you for reading my review.  Tomorrow I am featuring The Hope Jar by Wanda E. Brunstetter as part of the Celebrate Lit Tour.  Make sure to visit and enter to win a prize package which includes $25 Amazon gift card.  If you like my reviews, please consider following my blog (upper right).  I hope you have a magical day.  Take care of yourself, stay cool and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader

Saturday, August 11, 2018

The Girl on the Doorstep: A Black Country Novel

Good Day!  Lindsey Hutchinson lives in Shropshire with her husband and dog.
Lindsey loves to read and has recently discovered photography.  She is the daughter of author Meg Hutchinson.  Lindsey has written The Workhouse Children, The Lost Sisters, The Orphan Girl, and The Wives' Revenge.  Her next novel is set around an orphanage in 1890 and involves two siblings (a boy and a girl).  You can connect with Ms. Hutchinson on Twitter @LHutchAuthor and on Facebook.

The Girl on the Doorstep by Lindsey Hutchinson is the fifth book in A Black Country Novel series.  Rosie Harris is crying on her doorstep in Wednesbury when she is found by Maria Valesco, a Romany gypsy.  Rosie’s mother has just passed away and she has no other relatives.  Maria takes in Rosie and teaches her the gypsy ways.  Thirteen years later, the pair return to Wednesbury for the annual The Gathering. It is the time when the younger generation find their life partner.  Rosie does not participate that year much to Jake Harding’s dismay.  Rosie is fortunate to make the acquaintance of Margy Mitchell, a cut-rat.  When Maria passes away, Rosie needs to find a new home and Margy offers her one aboard their boat.  Rosie, who has second sight, traverses the waterways with the Mitchell’s and provides readings to folks to earn a living.  When Margy’s son, Bill along with his twin sons leave home to return to his roots, Rosie departs the Mitchell’s boat.  She joins Betty on her boat since she can no longer manage on her own and eventually buys that boat.  All this time, Jake Harding keeps an eye on Rosie since he is determined to make her his wife.  However, Rosie’s heart is taken by another.  While Rosie can see the future for others, she cannot see her own.  What does the future have in store for Rosie?  Return to the Black Country for Rosie’s journey in The Girl on the Doorstep. 

The Girl on the Doorstep is an absorbing historical novel (I was up quite late finishing it).  Rosie is a friendly main character who possesses the sight.  The secondary characters are equally delightful.  Margy is quite a character and Sarah, Bill’s wife, is an individual that you will love to hate.  I thought the book was well-written and had gentle pacing.  It was interesting to find out more about the gypsy lifestyle as well as the “cut-rats”.  Before trains and trucks took over transporting goods, items were shipped along the canals in England.  Their boats were their whole life.  It provided their livelihood as well as a place to live, entertain and raise their family.  I like how the “cut-rats” looked out for each other.  Life is full of ups and downs as we see in The Girl on the Doorstep which is a story about the working class.  I enjoyed the interactions between the characters as well as their can-do spirit, courage, and generous natures.  There are good life lessons presented throughout the book and I liked the variety of characters.  Lindsey Hutchinson did not disappoint with The Girl on the Doorstep

Here is an extract of The Girl on the Doorstep:

It had been thirteen years since Rosie Harris had seen her home town of Wednesbury in the heart of the ‘Black Country’. Looking around her from the seat of the gypsy vardo, she guessed nothing much had changed. Then she remembered it was Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee soon and the townspeople would be in high spirits in anticipation of the celebrations. To celebrate, the streets would be decorated with bunting and flags and parties would be held where copious amounts of alcohol would be consumed. Everyone in their particular street would contribute what food they could manage, to be laid out on long trestle tables placed in the centre of the roadway. Music would echo its way between the buildings and folk would kick up their heels to its beat. Rosie smiled as she traversed the heathland known as Lea Brook. She kept her eyes peeled for the old disused coal shafts and guided the horse towards the Monway branch of the Birmingham Canal which bordered two sides of the massive triangle of waste land. The railway line curved around the Lea Brook side. They would stop over for a while in the hope of selling their wares, although she didn’t hold out much hope, for everywhere they stopped they were moved on the following morning by the council authority. Nowhere wanted gypsies around; people were afraid their children would be kidnapped or their houses ransacked and their goods stolen. Rosie clucked gently to the horse wondering for the hundredth time where people got these mad ideas from.

Nearing the towpath of the canal, Rosie tugged gently on the reins pulling Samson to a standstill. Jumping nimbly to the ground she began to unhitch the horse from the vardo, and tethered him to a nearby tree, leaving a long rope to enable him to graze further afield. Her ears picked up the sounds of the ‘cut-rats’, the canal people, working their barges and narrowboats nearby. Her eyes caught glimpses of people staring and she waited for the inevitable shouts and jeers as she began to collect stones for a fire ring.

Setting the fire, Rosie called to the woman in the caravan. ‘Maria, fire is burning – time for tea.’  The dark head of Maria Valesco popped through the top of the split door at the back of the wagon. Climbing down Maria joined her young friend who was setting the kettle to boil on the iron trivet stood over the fire.
Looking around Rosie said, ‘No point in getting settled as I’m sure we’ll be moved on before long.’ Maria stroked the girl’s long dark hair and smiled. ‘It’s the life, my lovely, the Romanies are feared so we are pushed away. You know this as well as I do.’ ‘I do, Maria, but sometimes I wish they would just accept us as we are – travellers.’ ‘Don’t think on it, Rosie. Let’s eat before the darkness descends, then we shall see what the morning brings.’

Cooking their food in a frying pan on the iron trivet now relieved of the kettle, Rosie looked up to see a woman standing before her. She was dressed in an old long skirt and cotton blouse, her shawl wrapped around her shoulders. Her brown hair was pulled into a loose bun at the back; her blue eyes twinkled and she was slightly overweight which made her pant after the walk across to them. 
‘I thought this might sweetin yer tea,’ she said proffering a jug of milk.  ‘Thank you,’ Rosie said as she accepted the jug and invited the woman to sit on a three-legged stool near the fire. Tea with milk was shared as the three women chatted quietly.  ‘We thank you for your kindness, it is rarely given to the likes of us,’ Maria said.  ‘Nor us, the “cut-rats” I mean,’ the woman replied. ‘My name is Margaret Mitchell; friends call me Margy.’ She lifted her tin mug in a salute which said for them to call her by her nickname.

Rosie introduced Maria and herself before saying, ‘It never ceases to amaze me how the general populace tars us all with the same brush because of a few rogues.’  ‘It’s the way of the world, gel,’ Margy muttered. ‘We’ll be movin’ along in the morning and I suggest you do the same.’ She indicated the direction of her narrowboat with a tilt of her head.  ‘Yes, I think you could be right, Margy. We should get going before the townspeople descend on us in anger,’ Maria said as she stared into the fire contained within the circle of stones.  ‘Maria, we can’t – not yet!’ Rosie said, consternation etching her voice.

Maria sighed loudly. ‘I know what you are thinking, Rosie, but I must keep us safe while we wait.’  ‘What yer waitin’ for?’ Margy asked, dying to know what was going on.  Maria and Rosie exchanged a glance before saying in unison, ‘The “Gathering”.’  ‘What, ’ere in Wednesbury?’ Margy gasped. She had heard of this whilst on her travels on the canal. Seeing Maria nod, she laughed loudly. ‘Oh bloody ’ell! I’ll bet that will lead to trouble.’ ‘It may, though I wish for no trouble with the town. The “Gathering” is a time for travellers to come together so our young ones can choose a life partner,’ Maria said with a nod. ‘I can see as ’ow that’s important. It ain’t like you can marry outside of yer clan so-to-speak,’ Margy ventured.

‘Oh we can, Margy, but rarely does this happen. However, people do not understand our ways; they think we are here to cause upset and unrest. That is not, nor has it ever been, our intention.’ ‘Ar well, us “cut-rats” have much the same reception from folk when we moor up. They ain’t got no time for us.’ Margy shook her head sadly as she stood to return to her boat. ‘Good luck to yer both,’ she said but as she turned to leave, Maria called her back. ‘Give me your hand, Margy Mitchell.’ Retaking her seat, the woman did as she was bid. She watched as Maria took her hand in her own. Tracing a finger along the lines of Margy’s palm her voice was barely more than a whisper.

The Girl on the Doorstep is available at Amazon (and on the Kindle Unlimited Program), iBooks, Barnes and Noble, Google, Bookbub and Kobo.  I appreciate you visiting me today.  I am taking Sunday off this week.  I will return on Monday with my review of A Thief Revealed by Heather Sunseri.  It is the first novel in the International Thief series and it will be out on Tuesday, August 14.  I hope that you have a lovely weekend.  Take care and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader

Facebook: @Lindsey Hutchinson

Friday, August 10, 2018

Cherry Pies and Deadly Lies: A Very Cherry Mystery

Happy Friday!  Are you ready for the weekend to start?  A Christmas by the Sea by Melody Carlson comes out on September 4. I look forward to reading her new Christmas book each year.  If you like to read historical mysteries, pick up A Tale of Two Hearts by Michelle Griep on September 1.  It is the second book in Once Upon a Dickens Christmas.

Cherry Pies and Deadly Lies by Darci Hannah is the first story in A Very Cherry Mystery series.  Whitney Bloom lives in Chicago, Illinois where after creating a disastrous Superbowl commercial, she finds herself blacklisted by ad agencies as well the laughingstock of the advertising world. To make ends meet, Whitney has started the online business Bloom ‘n’ Cherries! selling her baked cherry creations.  She has been corresponding with a man online who calls himself C-Bomb and seems to know Whitney from home town of Cherry Cove, Wisconsin. Whitney gets a frantic phone calls from her mother.  The manager of their orchard, Jeb Carlson has been murdered and her father, Baxter is the prime suspect.  Whitney rushes home where the annual Cherry Blossom Festival is in full swing and is dismayed when she finds that Jack MacLaren, her old high school nemesis, is in charge of the investigation.  Not trusting Jack, Whitney declares that she will find out who killed Jeb.  Whitney will have to deal with her past while sifting through the clues to identify Jeb’s killer.  Someone, though, is intent on destroying her families’ inn and reputation.  Can Whitney track down the culprit before it is too late?

Cherry Pies and Deadly Lies has a cute cover and I like the setting of Door County, Wisconsin.  The town sounds charming and the acres of cherry trees in bloom sounded beautiful (I would be sneezing up a storm with my allergies).  It was interesting to learn more about cherries and the running of an orchard.  To get through Cherry Pies and Deadly Lies, though, you need to suspend your disbelief (from beginning when we find out the content of the commercial to the end when Whitney shoots off a gun with no clue who she is shooting at).  The world in the book is not one in which normal people live.  My mother can enjoy these types of books, but I find myself annoyed, rolling my eyes and becoming exasperated (my mother states I lack a sense of humor).  I thought there was an absence of character development and the story rambles.  When Whitney is with her friends, she tends to act like a nincompoop.  She is told to keep certain key details about the murder to herself, and, within a short time, Whitney is telling her friends.  Whitney could be categorized as TSTL.  In the story, there is the cliché high school nemesis and, of course, the men who appeal to Whitney are “hunky”.  I found many items repeated throughout the book and speculation abounds.  The mystery is the best part of the book, but identifying the guilty party is a no brainer.  Cherry Pies and Deadly Lies needs rewriting and editing as well as proofreading.  As you can tell, I did not enjoy reading Cherry Pies and Deadly Lies (I had a rough time finishing this time and there was skimming involved).  I highly suggest that you pick up a sample for your e-reader and judge Cherry Pies and Deadly Lies for yourself.  My rating for Cherry Pies and Deadly Lies is 2 out of 5 stars (not for me).  Cherry Pies and Deadly Lies is Darci Hannah's debut cozy mystery.

I appreciate you stopping by today.  Tomorrow I am featuring The Girl on the Doorstep by Lindsey Hutchinson.  It is the fifth novel in A Black Country Novel series (each book in series can be read alone).  I hope that your day passes swiftly so your weekend may begin.  Take care and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader

Thursday, August 9, 2018

A Simple Singing: The Sisters of Lancaster County

Welcome Back!  Through the Autumn Air by Kelly Irvin comes out on August 14.  Shattered at Sea by Cheryl Hollon will released on August 28 along with Secret at Pebble Creek by Lisa Jones Baker.  

A Simple Singing by Leslie Gould is the second novel in The Sisters of Lancaster County series.  It is December of 2013 and Marie just watched her sister, Jessica marry Silas.  Marie Bachman is one for the following the rules and fully expects to be courted by a good Amish man, to settle down on a nearby farm and have a large family.  When Bishop Jacobs son, Elijah visits from Florida, it seems like providence.  Gordon Martin, their farmhand, likes to sing while he works which reminds Marie of her father who taught her to sing while they worked in the barn.  Gordon has a kind nature and a generous heart, but he is a Mennonite.  Mrs. Bachman informs Marie that she will be going to Pinecraft, Florida with her Aunt Suz for a vacation.  Marie is surprised at how the Englisch, Amish and Mennonite mingle in the community.  She enjoys attending services in a church, the opportunity to sing with others, and to spend time with Elijah.  Their second week in Pinecraft, Gordon arrives on a mission trip and Marie gets to know him better.  While on the trip, Aunt Suz tells Marie the story of their ancestor, Annie Bachmann and the struggles she faced during the Civil War.  Back at home, Marie wrestles with her conscience on her life choices.  As Aunt Suz finishes telling her the story of Annie, it helps Marie make a decision about her future. 

A Simple Singing may be the second book in The Sisters of Lancaster County series, but it can be read alone.  I thought the novel was well-written with two interesting, interconnected stories.  It did take me a little while to get into the book.  Once I did, though, I was engaged.  I was happy to see the pacing improve (it starts out a little slow).  There are smooth transitions as it switches from Marie to Annie.  I actually enjoyed Annie’s story more than Marie’s.  I found it more captivating and wish it had been a book on its own.  Gordon volunteers at homeless shelters in Lancaster County and in Florida.  Ms. Gould handles the subject adroitly as she does the issue of slavery in Annie’s timeline.  It was lovely to watch Marie grow as an individual throughout the story.  The author is a descriptive writer which helps brings the book to life for me because I can visualize the scenes thanks to her writing.  Christian themes present in A Simple Singing are prayer, having faith, and the importance of following the path God has laid out for you (not your own).  Ms. Gould did her research for the Civil War scenes especially the Battle of Gettysburg.  I like how she included President Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address.  I found A Simple Singing to be a heartwarming Amish novel and I am eager to read Liesel’s story in A Faithful Gathering (February 5, 2019).  My rating for A Simple Singing is 4 out of 5 stars.  

The first book in The Sisters of Lancaster County series is A Plain Leaving. Thank you for stopping by and reading my review today.  I will be featuring Cherry Pies and Deadly Lies by Darci Hannah tomorrow.  May you have a day filled with cooling thoughts (hopefully it will help beat the heat).  Take care and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Purrder, She Wrote: A Cat Cafe Mystery

Felicitations!  A Thief Revealed by Heather Sunseri is the first book in her new International Thief series.  It will be out on August 14.  The Christmas Prayer by Wanda Brunstetter releases on August 15. For those who enjoy crafty cozy mystery, check out A Crafter Knits a Clue by Holly Quinn.  The first book in A Handcrafted Mystery series and it comes out on October 9.  It is time to start hinting for Amazon gift cards for Christmas!

Purrder She Wrote by Cate Conte is the second A Cat Café Mystery.  Maddie James is having the grand opening of JJ’s House of Purr’s, a cat café, on Daybreak Island.   It is a chance for people to spend time with adorable felines and enjoy a snack at the same time.  It is Maddie’s goal to find loving, stable homes for the cats in her care.  The first day gets off to an explosive start when volunteer, Adele Barrows gets into an altercation with Holly Hawthorne.  Holly wishes to adopt a cat and Adele has no intention of letting Holly get her claws into another innocent feline.  Before Maddie ends up with a cat fight on her hands, she diffuses the situation.  That evening Sgt. Mick Ellory stops by asking about the shop’s signature cat toys which are made by Adele and exclusive to JJ’s House of Purr’s.  Unfortunately, someone used them to silence Holly forever.  With Adele at the top of the suspect list and the shop the subject of hot gossip, Maddie, with the aid of Grandpa Leo, digs into the case.  She will need to work in her investigating in between handling the café, spending time with her new boyfriend, listening to Ethan’s new ideas for the café’s kitchen, handling the hospital gala for her father, delivering for the new Pet Meals on Wheels program and dealing with her sister’s marital woes.  Maddie will need to work in a cat nap or two if she is to keep up with her responsibilities.  She will need to be stealthy in her investigation or Maddie may use up the last of her nine lives.

Purrder She Wrote is easy to read and has a steady pace.  There is a lot going on in this book.  I do not quite understand why the author felt the need to jam so much into one story.  I would prefer she take the time to fully flesh out her characters.  I would like to know more about Grandpa Leo and have him take a more active role in the investigating.  I also could do with less of Maddie’s father who comes across as self-centered.  He cares more about how events affect his career than his family.  There was a great Emily Gilmore (of Gilmore Girls) reference in the book as well as one referring to Lord Voldemort.  It was clever how the author included Stan and her pet treats from the Pawsitively Organic Mystery series.  The whodunit was straightforward, and readers will have no problem identifying the guilty party.  Maddie was intensely focused on solving the crime.  She went from suspect to suspect to obtain information and kept in touch with her contact at the local newspaper for the latest news.  There is speculation, rumors, and red herrings.  I do wish that the case had been solved differently by Maddie (I would say more but I do not want to spoil it for you).  There is some mild foul language in the story.  Maddie is dating local pet groomer, Lucas Davenport but an old beau is also trying to capture her attention.  Personally, I prefer the old beau over Lucas.  I would prefer the romance to be less prominent in future books.  I enjoyed the descriptions of the adorable felines and their antics.  However, we do not need to know how often or when the litter boxes are scooped (no matter how necessary the chore).  The cat café concept is unique, and I had not heard about them until I read Cat About Town (you should look it up online to see the various designs).  While Purrder She Wrote is the second novel in A Cat Café Mystery series, it can be read alone.  My rating for Purrder She Wrote is 3 out of 5 stars.

Thank you for reading my review.  Next time I am reviewing A Simple Singing by Leslie Gould.  The second novel in The Sisters of Lancaster County.  I hope that you have a fulfilling day.  Take care, stay cool (I am grateful for whoever invented air conditioning) and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

To Catch a Witch: A Wishcraft Mystery

To Catch a Witch by Heather Blake is the eighth novel in A Wishcraft Mystery series.  Darcy Merriweather runs As You Wish, a personal concierge service, in the Enchanted Village in Massachusetts.  She has been hired by Abby Stillwell to organize this year’s annual Wicked Mad Dash.  The proceeds from the race will help pay the medical bills for little Aine Bryant.  The event gets off to a bumpy starts courtesy of Vince Paxton and his magical pranks.  Abby asks Darcy to go over the bookkeeping ledgers for the race since they are off from the previous years.  Abby then departs to warm up for the race, but she does not return.  A search commences, and Abby is found dead below Aural Gorge bridge.  As Craft investigator, Darcy teams up with her fiancé, Nick Sawyer (police chief for Enchanted Village) to track down Abby’s killer.  Darcy is worried about her sister, Harper.  She has been running herself ragged since she broke up with Marcus.  Her health is in jeopardy and Dr. Dennis Goodwin has some shocking news.  To top it off, Dorothy Hansel Dewitt is attempting a coup and the only person who can save the village from her reign of terror is heartbroken Harper.  Can Darcy conjure up the killer before her suspects fly off?  

To Catch a Witch is an enchanting cozy mystery.  It is well-written and has a steady pace which makes for an easy to read story.  Heather Blake has created delightful characters for A Wishcraft Mystery series.  Darcy has embraced life in the Enchanted Village.  She is now running As You Wish, gotten engaged, a wonderful stepmom to Mimi, takes care of their numerous pets, is the Craft investigator, and helps her friends.  Darcy has a caring heart and does not like to see anyone hurting.  She has also taken to rehabilitating Vince Paxton who found his Craft too dull and has taken to dark magic.  If Darcy can turn Glinda around, then Vince should be a piece of cake.  There is a humorous scene with Aunt Ve and Archie that involves Magnum PI and Pina coladas.  Two of my favorite characters are Pepe and Mrs. P.  They are just adorable, and Pepe is a wizard with a needle (I would for him to craft me a dress). The author was creative when making up the magical abilities for her series.  They are unique along with the names.   The Enchanted Village is a charming small town outside Salem.  Each shop is special and suits the owner (no big box stores in this hamlet).  If you have not read any of the previous novels in A Wishcraft Mystery series, I do not suggest you begin with To Catch a Witch (you would be missing out on the backstory that is needed to understand the characters and the magic).  Each book in the series builds upon the previous one.  I thought the mystery was spellbinding and multifaceted.  There are several suspects with motive to kill Abby plus it turns out that Abby had a few secrets of her own.  There is active investigating and I appreciate that Darcy works with the police to help solve the case.  Nick is happy to have her assistance and just warns her to be careful (Nick is a sweetie).  You will need to be clairvoyant (or a master cozy mystery sleuth) to solve Abby’s murder.  I could have done with less repetition (I do not need to be told the same thing multiple times), but that is my only grievance. To Catch a Witch is packed full of intriguing storylines, and it will keep you riveted until the very end.  I wish we did not have to wait a year for the next bewitching installment in A Wishcraft Mystery series.   

To see the other titles in A Wishcraft Mystery series, click here.  Thank you for stopping in today.  Tomorrow I will be sharing my feelings about Purrder, She Wrote by Cate Conte.  It is second book in A Cat Cafe Mystery series.  May you have an entrancing day.  Take care and Happy Reading!
The Avid Reader