Tuesday, May 21, 2019

A Second Chance by Linda Byler

A Second Chance: An Amish Romance (Chronicles of St. Mary's Book 3) by [Byler, Linda]
Welcome!  The Codebook Murders by Leslie Nagel is out today.  It is the fourth book in The Oakwood Mystery series.  I will feature this new cozy mystery on May 25 as part of the Great Escapes Virtual Book Tour.  A Daughter's Truth by Laura Bradford comes out May 28 along with Sconed to Death by Lynn Cahoon and Murder, She Uncovered by Peg CochranHairless Harassment by Molly Fitz releases on May 30.  It is the third novel in the Pet Whisperer PI series
Hairless Harassment (Pet Whisperer P.I. Book 3) by [Fitz, Molly, Press, Sweet Promise]

A Second Chance by Linda Byler has readers journeying to Indiana.  Edna Miller is twenty-nine years old and has been working as a maud since she was fifteen.  She goes from home to home helping new mothers manage their households and family (a temporary housekeeper).  Edna loves hard work and creating order out of chaos.  Edna is alone at home with her elderly parents since her other five siblings married.  Edna has never been asked on a date and she has no prospects on the horizon.  She has only had eyes for Emery Hoschtettler, and, while Edna thought she kept her feelings under wraps, it was apparent to all according to her sisters.  One day she receives a note from Jonathan Hershberger asking her for a date.  Jonathan is a kindhearted man who happens to be wealthy, but Edna does not find him appealing.  She gives him a chance, but her heart was not in it.  Edna knows she should come to terms with her single status, but she longs for a husband and family of her own.  Orva Schlabach just lost his wife to cancer and he has three children to raise.  Edna is hired by Orva’s sister to manage the house and family.  It is a different assignment for Edna, but one she feels capable of handling.  Edna is surprised one day when she receives a note from Emery asking her out on a date.  Edna feels that her prayers have finally been answered.  Is Emery the right man for Edna?  What does God have in store for Edna Miller?
 Lancaster Burning Trilogy by [Byler, Linda]
A Second Chance is the story of Edna Miller and her journey towards finding fulfillment.  Edna is twenty-nine, single, and a hard worker.  She likes working in homes where she can cook, clean and interact with people.  Edna could work in one of the local RV factories and earn more money, but it is not the type of work for her.  I was shocked when she only received $100 for two weeks of hard work (one family had eight children).  Edna also takes care of her elderly parents (70s) when she is between assignments.  Her father has diabetes and refuses to eat the proper foods.  I found Edna to be judgmental, set in her ways, yet she was friendly.  She likes for a home to be clean and orderly (a little obsessed with cleanliness).  I like that she is a strong female woman, but her attitude left a lot to be desired.  Most of the book follows Edna through her day-to-day activities (in detail).  She sorts cupboards, cooks, does laundry, sweep, mop, change beds, etc.  Even the food she cooked made was described down the condiments. It was tedious trying to slog through A Second Chance.  I kept hoping the pace would improve, but it never did.  The story lacked spark.  The joyous moments were few in this story.  If you were not depressed before starting A Second Chance, you will be when you finish it.  Even the ending was lackluster (I wanted a happily-ever-after ending).   Edna is a Christian woman who prays to God to help her and guide her.  I liked the inclusion of the Serenity Prayer and the painting Edna purchased incorporating the prayer. Little Emmylou’s speech about her mother was so sweet.  There was a beautiful rock garden described in the book that I want in my backyard.  A Second Chance felt more like a rough draft (especially with the number of typos and inconsistencies) than a finished novel.  It has some good bones, but I thought it needed a major rewrite. 

While this novel by Linda Byler was not for me, I have enjoyed her other creations.  I am looking forward to reading The More the Merrier which comes out October 1.  Thank you for joining me today.  I am sharing my review of A Twist in the Tail by Leighann Dobbs tomorrow.  It is the first tale in The Oyster Cove Guesthouse series.  I hope you have a tranquil day.  Take care and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader
Haber, Matt -Tribute to Maxfield Parrish

Monday, May 20, 2019

Southern Sass and Killer Cravings by Kate Young

Southern Sass and Killer Cravings

(Marygene Brown Mysteries)
by Kate Young

About the Book 

Cozy Mystery
1st in Series
Kensington (May 28, 2019)
Mass Market Paperback: 368 pages
ISBN-10: 1496721454
ISBN-13: 978-1496721457
Digital ASIN: B07H1VWGBS
Life has always been sweet on Georgia’s Peach Cove Island, but a case of murder has Marygene Brown down in the pits . . .

For generations, the women of the Brown family on Peach Cove Island have been known for their Southern sass and sweet homemade desserts at their beloved Peach Diner. Since their mother's passing two years ago, Marygene has been stuck in Atlanta while her sister Jena Lynn has been running the family business. Now Marygene has left her husband and returned to her hometown, where she can almost feel Mama's presence.

But all is not peachy back home. Marygene has barely tied on an apron when a diner regular drops dead at the counter. When it turns out the old man's been poisoned, Jena Lynn is led away in handcuffs and the family eatery is closed. Now, to save her sister and the diner, Marygene must find the real killer. With some startling assistance from her Mama's spirit, Marygene will be serving up a special order of just desserts . . .

Includes Seven Recipes from Marygene’s Kitchen!

The author is hosting a pre-order giveaway!  CHECK IT OUT HERE! 

About the Author

Kate Young writes humorous southern mystery novels. She is a member of Sisters in Crime and the Guppy Chapter. Kate lives in a small town in Georgia with her husband, three kids, and Shih Tzu. When she is not writing her own books, she's reading or cooking.

Author Links

BookBub - https://www.bookbub.com/profile/kate-young-b3339e9c-d2e4-482d-a637-5afd7b064d73

Southern Sass and Killer Cravings (Marygene Brown #1)

My Thoughts

Southern Sass and Killer Cravings is set on a small island off the Georgia coast called Peach Cove.  The Peach Diner was started by Marygene’s grandmother, Nanny after her husband gambled and drank away their money.  Marygene has a natural talent for cooking and baking.  She knows what is needed to elevate a dish and how to fix a wonky recipe.  I thought Southern Sass and Killer Cravings was nicely written and it moved along at a steady pace.  I liked the author’s conversational writing style which made the story easy to read.  Southern manners and hospitality are the code in the South.  Southern women are polite and always have sweet tea ready for guests (even if they are unwelcome).  I liked that Marygene is a friendly yet flawed character (realistic) who has gotten herself out of a bad marriage.  She has made mistakes and knows that she needs to make amends (to family and friends).  There are an assortment of characters in the story that include Marygene’s sister, her half-brother, biological father, shop owners, residents, a reporter, and land developers.  Betsy Myers, Marygene’s best friend, is over-the-top and boisterous (she is quite a characters).  With Carl Ledbetter’s father dead, he is ready to let developers buy the land he inherited for high rise condos and a resort.  Other residents do not want this type of development which leads to animated debates.  There is plenty of action throughout the story, but I could have done without the repetition of case details.  The mystery was mixed for me.  The method of murder and the killer’s identity are easily discerned by avid cozy mystery readers.  It was interesting, though, following the investigation to learn more about the victim and why he was killed.  There are two potential love interests for Marygene.  Personally, I thought it was too soon for Marygene to move on after her abusive marriage (she still had bruises on her neck).  There is mild foul language in Southern Sass and Killer Cravings and references to the abusive Marygene suffered.  My favorite phrase from the book is “the past always has a way of coming back and biting you in the keister” (so true).  There are recipes from The Peach Diner included at the end.  Southern Sass and Killer Cravings is a humorous cozy mystery that is perfect to read on the front porch in a cozy rocking chair with sweet peach tea on a table nearby.  Southern Sass and Killer Cravings has Southern hospitality, friendship, sweet tea, gossip, tasty treats, a dead man, secrets, an island spirit and a new amateur sleuth.
A Second Chance: An Amish Romance (Chronicles of St. Mary's Book 3) by [Byler, Linda]
Southern Sass and Killer Cravings comes out on May 28 and can be purchased at AmazonB&NKoboIndie Boundibooks, and BAM.  Do not forget about the pre-order contest giveaway.  Click here for more information and to enter.  Do not forget to visit the other stops on the tour for author interviews, recipes, and reviews (schedule below).  Thank you for stopping in today and reading my review.  I  will share my thoughts on A Second Chance by Linda Byler tomorrow.  I hope that you have a splendid day.  Take care and Happy Reading!


The Avid Reader

Tour Participants

May 18 – Baroness' Book Trove – REVIEW

May 18 – Moonlight Rendezvous - REVIEW

May 18 – A Blue Million Books – AUTHOR INTERVIEW

May 18 – View from the Birdhouse – SPOTLIGHT

May 18 – fundinmental – SPOTLIGHT

May 19 – LibriAmoriMiei – REVIEW

May 19 – Cozy Up With Kathy – REVIEW

May 19 – Cinnamon, Sugar, and a Little Bit of Murder - REVIEW, RECIPE POST WITH PICTURES

May 19 – Babs Book Bistro – REVIEW

May 20 – The Power of Words – REVIEW

May 20 – The Avid Reader – REVIEW

May 20 – The Pulp and Mystery Shelf – SPOTLIGHT

May 21 – StoreyBook Reviews – REVIEW

May 21 – Bibliophile Reviews – REVIEW

May 21 – Ruff Drafts – AUTHOR INTERVIEW

May 21 – Books Direct – SPOTLIGHT

May 22 – Reading Is My SuperPower – REVIEW

May 22 – Lisa Ks Book Reviews – REVIEW

May 22 – Read Your Writes Book Reviews - RECIPE POST WITH PICTURES

May 23 – Socrates Book Reviews – REVIEW

May 23 – MJB Reviewers – REVIEW

May 23 – Defining Ways - RECIPE POST WITH PICTURES

May 23 – Island Confidential – SPOTLIGHT

May 24 – Christa Reads and Writes – REVIEW

May 24 – The Book's the Thing – REVIEW


May 24 – Moonlight Rendezvous – REVIEW

May 24 – Elizabeth McKenna Romance Author – SPOTLIGHT

May 25 – Cassidy's Bookshelves – REVIEW

May 25 – A Wytch's Book Review Blog – REVIEW

May 25 – The Book Diva's Reads – SPOTLIGHT  

May 25 – Celticlady's Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

May 26 – Melina's Book Blog – REVIEW

May 26 – The Book Decoder – REVIEW

May 26 – Readeropolis – SPOTLIGHT

May 26 – That's What She's Reading – SPOTLIGHT

Have you signed up to be a Tour Host?

The Vintage House - An Intimate Event Space for Baby Showers, Bridal Showers, Intimate Weddings, Birthday Parties - Overland Park, Kansas - vintagehouse7612.com
My type of porch!

Sunday, May 19, 2019

The Refuge by Ann H. Gabhart

Greetings!  Southern Sass & Killer Cravings by Kate Young will be out on May 28 along with Crepe Expectations by Sarah FoxRebekah's Quilt by Sara Harris releases on May 31.  Hitches, Hideouts and Homicide by Tonya Kappes is available on June 4.  It is the seventh A Campers & Criminals Cozy Mystery.  Is there an upcoming release you are looking forward to reading?
Shakers dancing for religious rather than social reasons. Notice their unique use of facial expression and posture as it is not so much about engaging with those around them as engaging with the Lord.
Shaker dancing that took place during worship
The Refuge by Ann H. Gabhart begins in October of 1849 in Harmony Hill, Kentucky.  Darcie and Walter Goodwin joined the Shaker community to evade cholera which is sweeping through the area.  The Shakers have been fortunate not to have been affected by the horrible disease.  It was supposed to be a temporary stay for them since they are unable to live as husband and wife.  Unfortunately, Walter dies when a steamboat explodes.  Since Darcie has no other alternatives, she stays with the Shakers even though she does not embrace their beliefs.  Darcie is pregnant which unnerves the Shakers since they find marriage to be sinful and believe it creates disharmony.  Darcie makes friends with the other ladies in her room and they form a close bond.  Darcie prays for a solution to her dilemma because she knows that her baby will not be allowed to stay with her once it is weaned. 
Shakers - famous for their needlework, baskets, boxes, just about everything they created with a perfection for details..
Outside a Shaker village house

Flynn Keller lives his headstrong daughter, Leatrice on his father-in-law’s (Silas Cox) farm.  Both men lost their wives in recent years, leaving them to raise Leatrice.  They are worried about Leatrice who seems to rush headlong into danger just like her mother.  Silas suggests Flynn join the Shakers for a time to provide structure for Leatrice, but Flynn knows he will not be able to keep his daughter with him at Harmony Hill.  Flynn encounters Darcie while working with a horse for the Shakers.  He is captivated by the beautiful woman and Leatrice takes to Darcie right away.  But then Silas makes an impulsive decision that endangers them all.  What does God have in store for Darcie, Flynn, Silas and Leatrice? 
Girls tending the garden, In the foreground is the Ministry Shop and to the right is the Meetinghouse; Shaker Village, Canterbury, NH
A Shaker village

The Refuge is a well-written novel that proceeds at a gentle pace.  I could tell that Ann H. Gabhart has done her research into the Shakers.  It was interesting to learn about the Shaker community and their beliefs.  I was surprised to learn that the correct name for them is Believers in the Second Coming of Christ.  It is outsiders who labeled them Shakers.  It is not a religion that would suit every individual especially since men and women are kept separate and not allowed to raise their own children.  They did have a strong work ethic and thriving villages.  The characters were developed and realistic.  I liked that there are characters who have differing viewpoints (those that embrace the Shakers and those that do not) and a variety of ages.  I liked the friendships that developed between Darcie and her roommates.  Faith is woven into the story making an integral part of The Refuge.  The Shakers might have a different ideas, but they believe in God like all Christians.  Leatrice was a delight.  She was a precocious little girl who lit up the story along with the two babies.  The Refuge is not a straightforward romance which I appreciated.  There is intrigue, friendships, kittens, childhood drama, faith, a depressed horse, and love. The ending is sweet and heartwarming.  There is one phrase from The Refuge I wanted to share.  It is “take each day as it comes with the blessings and trials it brings, for the Lord only promises us this day”.  The Refuge provides an insightful look into the Shakers and those who sought refuge with them.
The novels in Ann H. Gabhart's The Shaker series are The OutsiderThe BelieverThe Seeker, The Blessed, and The Gifted.  Thank you for stopping by today and reading my review.  Tomorrow I will be participating in a blog tour for Southern Sass & Killer Craving by Kate Young.  I hope you have joyful day (better to laugh than to cry).  Take care and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader  
Woman Reading (1940) - Adrian Paul Allinson (British, 1890-1959)

Saturday, May 18, 2019

The Inn at Hidden Run by Olivia Newport: Review and Giveaway!

About the Book

A Father-Daughter Genealogy Team Link Present to Past on Family Tree

Meri flunks out of medical school—and runs from her parents. Genealogist Jillian Parisi-Duffy’s digging traces the family long tradition of doctors to an ancestor saved during a yellow fever outbreak in Memphis in 1878. As Meri’s family closes in, Jillian gets the final puzzle pieces in place just in time for them all to learn the truth. The Inn at Hidden Run is the first book in the Tree of Life series. Readers will come back to backdrop of a lovely mountain town of Canyon Mines again and again to explore and celebrate unforgettable family stories that inspire them to connect with their own family histories and unique faith journeys.

Click here to purchase your copy!

About the Author

Olivia Newport’s novels twist through time to find where faith and passions meet. Her husband and twentysomething children provide welcome distraction from the people stomping through her head on their way into her books. She chases joy in stunning Colorado at the foot of the Rockies, where daylilies grow as tall as she is.

More from Olivia

Of Family Lines and Family Lore
I suppose it all started in a cemetery.
Once, while a group of relatives were visiting a cemetery, one of my cousins and I wandered off and looked at all sorts of graves, speculating about the names we read and the lives they represented. We were duly scolded both for separating from our families, which caused some consternation, and for being disrespectful—though I think the second accusation was a false one!
Just because we were young children didn’t mean we were disrespecting the dead. Quite the opposite. We were respecting lives long forgotten with our curiosity about who they were and what legacies they left.
These days a lot of people are interested in genealogy. Entire TV series spin around the theme, and DNA kits show up in Christmas stockings. Lost branches of family trees find the main trunk—sometimes with big surprises.
My new Tree of Life series is set in the backdrop of a lovely Colorado mountain town I hope you’ll want to visit often, where a father-daughter genealogy team link present to past on family trees and characters learn about who they are, where they come from, and their unique faith journeys as they discover their own Tree of Life.
It all starts with The Inn at Hidden Run. When Meri arrives in Canyon Mines because she wants to run away from her family, true answers come from understanding the past that generations have forgotten—the accounts from another time and place no longer handed down but that still form the backbone of the family’s story.
What’s the backbone of your family’s history? How is it shaping your own future? 

My Thoughts

The Inn at Hidden Run by Olivia Newport is the first novel in Tree of Life series.  The story is set in Canyon Mines, Colorado where Jillian Parisi-Duffy, a genealogist, lives with her father, Nolan Duffy (a lawyer and mediator) in a beautiful Victorian home.  Meri Davies arrives in town just when Nia Dunston needs a new assistant at The Inn at Hidden Run.  It is obvious to Nia that Meri is running from something and she wants Jillian and Nolan’s assistance in helping Meri.  Meri’s family is comprised of doctors and nurses going back over a hundred years.  Her family expects her to become a doctor, but that it not what Meri wishes to do with her life.  Meri flunks out of medical school in under eight weeks (must be a record) and has fled to Canyon Mines to avoid her family.  Jillian dives into Meri’s family history to find out why the family is insistent on every member going into the medical profession while Nolan uses his skills as a mediator to keep Meri in town.  The town is comprised of caring people who watch out for each other.  The Inn at Hidden Run is a dual-time line story.  We are taken back to Eliza Davies in 1878 in Memphis, Tennessee when the yellow fever epidemic ran rampant through the town.  The historical sections relate to Meri’s family history (and in the Author’s Notes we learn that some of the historical scenes are based on true events).  I thought the novel was well-written with a gentle pace.  There is plenty of coffee and food in the story.  Nolan believes that plying people with food will get them to slow down, relax and open up.  I like how the two time frames are brought together in the end for a sweet ending.  The Christian elements are beautifully incorporated into the story.  The add just the right touch.  The author took the time to establish the characters and bring them to life.  I liked Olivia Newport’s descriptions of the lovely town, the various shops along with the delectable delights they serve, and the beautiful Victorian homes.  It was interesting to learn about a genealogist and how their research can be used in different ways (not just for a family tree).  I am curious to see how Nolan and Jillian help others in the rest of the Tree of Life series.
To celebrate her tour, Olivia is giving away a grand prize of a $25 Amazon gift card and a copy of The Inn at Hidden Run.  Be sure to comment on the blog stops (schedule below) for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click here to enter and Good Luck. Thank you for joining me today.  Tomorrow I am featuring The Refuge by Ann H. Gabhart.  I hope you have a blessed day.  Take care and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader

Blog Stops

Hallie Reads, May 22
Bigreadersite, May 23
By The Book, May 23
Mary Hake, May 28
Quiet Quilter, May 29
Remembrancy, May 30
Moments, May 31

Friday, May 17, 2019

Read on Arrival by Nora Page

Read on Arrival (Bookmobile Mystery #2)
Toxic Toffee (An Amish Candy Shop Mystery Book 4) by [Flower, Amanda]
Read on Arrival by Nora Page takes us on a journey to Catalpa Springs, Georgia in November.  Cleo Watkins preparing for the reopening of the library in three weeks when Mercer Whitty, president of the Library Board throws a wrench in the works.  Belle Beauchamp arrives in her vintage airstream which she has transformed into BOOK IT!, a colorful bookmobile with gaming consoles, televisions, laptops and a couple of color coordinated books.  Belle, who is not a librarian, promotes herself as an innovator who has great ideas to modernize Cleo’s library.  Mercer, who is smitten, hires Belle as a consultant.  Dixie Huddleston borrowed a book from the library forty years ago and has refused to return it (despite many attempts on Cleo’s part).  Dixie drives up and claims she is ready to return the tardy tome because she has seen the signs that state she is dying and wishes to settle her affairs.  Cleo and her beau, Henry Lafayette (best to take a witness in case Dixie pulls one of her tricks again) arrive at Dixie’s home the next morning to find the back door ajar and they smell smoke.  They find Dixie dead in the pantry courtesy of the swarm of bees locked in with her.  Chief Silas Culpepper arrives and puts Cleo at the top of the suspect list because of her long standing feud with Dixie over the library book.  Cleo immediately sets out to clear her name plus find Dixie’s killer.  As if there is not enough going on in their small town, citizens begin receiving death threats causing paranoia and panic.  Cleo questions likely suspects and gathers clues trying to pinpoint the guilty party while trying to reign in Belle with her outlandish ideas.  Cleo will need to keep her wits about her to thwart a killer and outwit Belle.
Read on Arrival is the second novel in A Bookmobile Mystery series.  While it can be read alone, I believe it is best to indulge in Better Off Read first.  Read on Arrival is nicely written with steady pacing and unique characters.  Cleo Watkins is 75 ¾ and has no intention of retiring from her position as head librarian at Catalpa Springs Library.  She has discovered she enjoys tootling about the countryside in her bookmobile-Words on Wheels.  Cleo has Leanna, her assistant, to keep an eye on things at the library for her.  There are a variety of quirky characters in the story ranging from Cleo’s gentleman friend, Henry to Deputy Gabby Honeywell to Rhett, the bookmobile’s Persian cat mascot.  Catalpa Springs is a typical small Southern town where gossip spreads faster than maple syrup on a hot stack of pancakes and there are some unusual residents like Dixie.  Humor is rampant throughout the story.  It reminded me of the slapstick comedy reminiscent of I Love Lucy and The Three Stooges.  There is plenty of activity in Read on Arrival with Dixie’s murder, death threats on coffin shapes items, Cleo investigating, and Belle trying to ruin the library.  I did have to remind myself that this was a work of fiction (reality cannot be applied).  Someone cannot get away with keeping a book checked out for 40 years today (twenty years ago, but not now).  The situation with Belle is also unrealistic.  Libraries do wish to attract readers, but they will not toss out their books to accomplish it (or rip off the covers because the colors do not match their color scheme).  The mystery was straightforward, and I easily identified the killer (it was a piece of cake).  There are pointed clues and a limited number of suspects.  My favorite phrase from Read on Arrival is “don’t wake the slumbering human bed” from Rhett, the cat.  Read on Arrival is a lighthearted, humorous cozy mystery with killer bees, death threats, a delinquent book, mimes, two dead bodies, a sleuthing librarian, an “innobrarian”, and a mascot named Rhett.
The Inn at Hidden Run (Tree of Life Book 1) by [Newport, Olivia]
I appreciate you stopping by today.  I will be reviewing The Inn at Hidden Run by Olivia Newport tomorrow and there will be a giveaway!  I hope you have a fulfilling day.  Take care, stay cool and Happy Reading!


The Avid Reader
6 Can't-Put-Down Books You'll Finish by Memorial Day   - ELLE.com