Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Doom with a View: A Merry Ghost Inn Mystery

Welcome! I hope you are having a good week.  Kate Kingsbury is the author of A Pennyfoot Hotel Mystery series and A Merry Ghost Inn Mystery series. Readers can follow Ms. Kingsbury on Facebook, Amazon and Goodreads.  The first book in A Merry Ghost Inn Mystery series is Dead and Breakfast.   

Doom with a View by Kate Kingsbury is the second tale in A Merry Ghost Inn Mystery series.  Melanie West and her grandmother, Liza Harris own the Merry Ghost Inn in Sully’s Landing, Oregon.  They are open and booked with six guests from Portland who all belong to the same book club.  The guests are currently being entertained by Cindi’s (their assistant) magician boyfriend, Nick Hazelton.  Walter Dexter, though, is not enjoying Nick’s act (continuous heckling and complaining).  The next morning, Melanie hears Max barking (like he is upset) outside and goes to investigate.  She finds Walter dead from where he fell from the balcony.  Officer Ben Carter is the first responder and discovers someone tampered with the balcony.  Which one of their guests disliked Walter enough to kill him?  Detective Tom Dutton (aka Grumpy) is assigned the case and issues a stern warning to Melanie and Liza not to investigate.  They have no intention of listening to him.  The pair, with the aid of their resident ghost-Orville, set out to nab a killer.

Doom with A View is a cute story with a subtle paranormal element.  I found the book easy to read and it has a nice, steady pace.  I had not the opportunity to read Dead and Breakfast (first book in series) prior to picking up Doom with a View.  I was a little confused in the beginning because the author starts introducing the main characters along with all the guests (ten people, one dog, and a ghost).  Once I got all the characters straight, I was fine.  I was surprised that Melanie and Liza had hired an assistant.  You would think they would wait until they started turning a profit.  I thought it was strange that the owners did not share news with the guests themselves.  Instead, they would send out Cindi to announce activities and such.  It seemed odd and out of place (especially with Cindi’s appearance).  I am rating Doom with a View 3.5 out of 5 stars.  The mystery was not complicated and I thought the killer stood out (eliminate the obvious).  The author does provide some pointed clues that will aid readers in solving the murder.  I wish there had been more sleuthing or active investigating (instead of them just asking questions).  I loved the ghost, Orville.  He would laugh and move items around the house.  Quite a bit of the book is devoted to cooking and eating (wanted less of this and more mystery).  One thing I am extremely tired of in cozy mysteries is grumpy, mean detectives.  Detective Dutton did nothing to enhance the story.  Instead we get numerous mentions of his grumpiness.  Doom with a View is an appealing cozy mystery.  It has good main characters, quirky inn, a ghost, and a dog.  A little fiddling and A Merry Ghost Inn Mystery series would be delightful.

I appreciate you visiting and reading my review.  On Thursday, September 21 I will be evaluating Secrets of the Shipyard Girls by Nancy Revell.    May each of you have a wonderful Wednesday. Take care and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Ax to Grind: A Kenni Lowry Mystery

Happy Book Release Day!  Tonya Kappes is the author of A Ghostly Southern Mystery series, A Killer Coffee Mystery series, A Kenni Lowry Mystery series and A Magical Cures Mystery series. Readers can connect with her on Facebook (she also holds contests) and follow Ms. Kappes on Goodreads and Amazon.  

Ax to Grind by Tonya Kappes is the third story in A Kenni Lowry Mystery series.  Kenni Lowry is the sheriff in Cottonwood, Kentucky.  It is time to start her re-election campaign and her mother is pulling out all the stops (imagine giant sign and a bull horn—just for starters) since Kenni’s former deputy, Lonnie Lemar is running against her.  Kenni is at an award ceremony honoring her dog, Duke when she is approached by Cecily Hoover, Beryle Stone’s assistant.  Beryle, a famous author, passed away a week ago and her estate is to be auctioned off.  Beryle had finished a tell-all book that will expose secrets and Cecily is afraid someone will try to steal it.  The one problem is Beryle hid the manuscript and Cecily has been unable to locate it.  Before the book can be found, Cecily turns up dead in the alley behind Ruby’s Antiques and Paige Lemar is unconscious inside.  Poppa, Kenni’s grandfather, returns to help her with the case.  The killer obviously does not wish the manuscript to see the light of day (much less be published).   Kenni along with Deputy Finn Vincent (and let’s not forget Poppa) dig into Beryle’s past to find Cecily’s killer. 

Ax to Grind may be the third installment in A Kenni Lowry Mystery series, but it can be read alone.  The author provides the necessary background on Kenni as well as summaries of what occurred in the first two books in the series.  I found the book to be a slow starter, but the pace picked up the further I got into the story.  The zaniness factor was ramped up in Ax to Grind (much to my disappointment).  Kenni’s mother needs to be reined in (my mother thought her antics were hysterical, and she told me I lack a sense of humor).  If I was Kenni, I would change my house locks (using an out-of-town locksmith) and get an untraceable phone number (to thwart her mother).  The mystery was cleverly set up, but I wish there had been a good twist to surprise me.  I identified the killer before the third chapter in the book.  There are a limited number of suspects and there are big clues that point to the killer.  Most readers will be able to solve the crime before the reveal.  I love the paranormal element (Poppa) and wish there was more of it in the story.  I feel that Poppa would be a great resource to Kenni if used properly.  A Kenni Lowry Mystery series portrays what life is like in small Southern towns.  For those readers who enjoy light, comical cozy mysteries, pick up a copy of Ax to Grind.  Fixin' to Die and Southern Fried (currently $.99 on Amazon) are the first two books in the series.

Thank you for reading my latest review.  I will be sharing my thoughts on Doom with a View by Kate Kingsbury on Wednesday, September 20.  I hope that you have a pleasant and happy day.  Take care and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader

Monday, September 18, 2017

The Beloved Christmas Quilt from Three Generations of Brunstetter's

I hope everyone had a delightful weekend!  On Tuesday, September 19 some new books are being released.  The titles include Whispers of Warning by Jessica Estevao, To Be Where You Are by Jan Karon, Invictus by Ryan Graudin, and Ax to Grind by Tonya Kappes.

The Beloved Christmas Quilt:  Three stories of Family, Romance and Amish Faith by Wanda E. Brunstetter, Jean B. Brunstetter and Richelle Lynn Brunstetter.  We get to see how one quilt with a Psalm 31:3 embroidered on the back helps and guides three generations.  Luella’s Promise by Wanda E. Brunstetter is set in Bird-in-Hand, Pennsylvania.  Luella Ebersol was hired by Atlee Zook to care for his dying wife, Dena Zook and young son, Daryl.  Before Dena passes away, she gifts Luella with a special quilt that Dena and Atlee received as a Christmas gift from Dena’s mum the first year they were married.  It is a quilt that is to pass from mother to daughter.  After Dena’s passing, Luella continues to work for Atlee and care for little Daryl.  Slowly the pair begin to care for each other, but Luella’s parents are not pleased with the pairing (age difference).  Without her parents blessing, Atlee and Luella cannot have a future together.  Is there a chance for them to have a happily ever after?

Karen’s Gift by Jean Brunstetter takes us to Lykens, Pennsylvania.  Karen and Seth Allgyer moved to Lykens two years prior to get away from the commercialized Paradise.  Karen misses her family especially now with newborn, Nancy Anne in the house along with her other daughters, Roseanna and Mary.  Karen is worried about Nancy Anne who was born early and is afraid the little girl might suffer from the effects of the German measles Karen had while pregnant.  Seth is having trouble at work with a co-worker and he cannot handle any more stressful news.  How will the family cope during this worrying time?

Roseanna’s Groom is by Wanda Brunstetter’s granddaughter, Richelle Lynn Brunstetter (her first published story).  Roseanna Allgyer is marrying John Beiler.  She is excited and nervous to start her new life with the man she loves.  They are standing before the Bishop while he discusses their responsibilities when John suddenly flees.  Roseanna is hurt and confused.  John goes away, and old beau, Mark returns to town wishing to court Roseanna again.  Roseanna is afraid to trust another man with her heart.  What choice will Roseanna make?

The Beloved Christmas Quilt contains three sweet stories.  I liked how we get to experience three generations of the family.  It was nice that the characters from Luella’s Promise are in all three tales.  My favorite one is Luella’s Promise.  It is well-written, good pace, and engaging characters.  I like the messages or themes in the novellas.  They include friendship, power of prayer, kindness, compassion, overcoming adversity, and following God’s path for your life.  My rating for The Beloved Christmas Quilt is 4 out of 5 stars.  Roseanna’s Groom is a nice story and for Richelle Brunstetter’s first published work, she did a good job.  Karen’s Gift, though, was not as enjoyable.  I was not fully engaged by this short story.  It lacked the nice, easy writing style that readers prefer (and we get from Wanda Brunstetter).  The Beloved Christmas Quilt has three inspiring, romantic stories that will leave you with a warm feeling in your heart.

I appreciate you stopping by today.  I am currently reading Wagging through the Snow by Laurien Berenson (cute story).  May each of you have a lovely day.  I will be sharing my thoughts on Ax to Grind by Tonya Kappes on Tuesday, September 19.  Take care and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Pudding Up with Murder: An Undercover Dish Mystery

Salutations!  Turkey Trot Murder by Leslie Meier is the latest A Lucy Stone Mystery novel (Book 24). Lucy Stone and her husband, Bill are going to be alone this holiday.  But you can count on Lucy to stir up excitement when she finds a body while training for the Thanksgiving 5K.  Turkey Trot Murder will be released on September 26.

Pudding Up with Murder by Julia Buckley is the third cozy mystery in An Undercover Dish Mystery series.  Lilah Drake works as a secret chef in her spare time (when not working at Pine Haven Caterer’s).    Lilah along with her dog, Mick are attending the birthday party of Marcus Cantwell.  She prepared a rice pudding for her client, Ellie Parker to take to the event.  After speaking with Marcus, Lilah is given a tour and the dish on the family by Cash Cantwell.  When Lilah goes back to the kitchen, people are enjoying the rice pudding.  Marcus enters the kitchen with an empty bowl of rice pudding and collapses.  Thankfully, Detective Maria Grimaldi was on hand to secure the scene and quickly gather evidence.  Who disliked Marcus enough to murder him?  When Cash ends up being a prime suspect, Lilah starts looking at the extended family to find the real killer.

I found Pudding Up with Murder to be easy to read and it had a decent pace.  The mystery was straightforward and one detail gives away the identity of the murderer.  I could pinpoint the killer early in the story.  I felt the romance dominated the book (I like a little romance, but I this was over-the-top).  I quickly tired of Lilah mooning over Jay and Jay’s jealousy over Angelo Cardelini (it was ridiculous).  I wanted more investigation and less day-to-day activities.  There is cooking, walking the dog, dates, friends, and work.  These elements make up a significant portion of the book.  My rating for Pudding Up with Murder is 3 out of 5 stars.  I do not quite buy into concept of a secret chef.  Why would anyone be ashamed about not cooking or not wanting to cook? What am I missing?  I was not enthralled with Lilah, but I did enjoy Mick, the dog (a cutie).  Pudding Up with Murder can be a standalone.   For cozy mystery readers who prefer the emphasis on cozy, then you will appreciate Pudding Up with Murder.  The first two books in An Undercover Dish Mystery series are The Big Chili and Cheddar Off Dead.

I really appreciate you visiting and reading my latest book review.  On my next visit (Monday, September 18), I will share my thoughts on The Beloved Christmas Quilt by Wanda Brunstetter. May you have a very relaxing and enjoyable Saturday.  Take care and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader  

Friday, September 15, 2017

The Proving: A new Amish novel by Beverly Lewis

Happy Friday!  Secrets of the Shipyard Girls by Nancy Revell will be published on September 21.  It is third installment in The Shipyard Girls series.  I read this while waiting for our electricity to return (I made sure all four of my Kindles had a full charge before the storm hit).  It is just wonderful.  I will publish my full review on September 21.  If you have not had the opportunity, you should out the first two books in this engaging historical series.

The Proving by Beverly Lewis takes Amanda Dienner back home to Gordonville, Pennsylvania.  Amanda “Mandy” Dienner left home five years ago after discovering her twin sisters, Arie Mae, betrayal.  Mandy has been living and working in Scott City, Kansas.  One day she receives a certified letter from her older brother, Jerome telling her that her mother, Saloma passed away unexpectedly.  Mandy learns that she has been left Butterfly Meadows, the families Amish bed-and-breakfast, to her.  Mandy would have expected the B and B to be left to Arie Mae.  The inheritance comes with the condition that Mandy run Butterfly Meadows at a profit for twelve consecutive months.  Mandy returns home to take over the inn, but she is not prepared for the community’s and guests feelings about her non-Amish status.  Will Mandy be able to handle the close proximity to her sister and her husband?  Can Mandy find it in her heart to forgive and move on with her life? 

The Proving is well-written, engaging, and has a nice easy flow.  I liked the main characters and their stories.  It was nice to follow their journey and see how they changed/developed.  I only summarized Mandy’s portion of the story and her challenges (lack of cooking skills, not being Amish—when guests expect an Amish hostess, resentment).  There is Catrina Sutton who signs up for a mystery vacation (hoping for beach destination) and ends up at Butterfly Meadows.  Some of themes in The Proving are forgiveness, power of prayer, love, and letting God take the driver’s seat on your life’s journey (He is in control, not you).  It is amazing what happens when you pray and believe.  My rating for The Proving is 4 out of 5 stars (I liked it).  The story is somewhat predictable (romantic outcomes especially), but I enjoyed reading this pleasant Amish book. The Proving is a lovely, heartwarming novel that provides a delightful respite from reality (which we all desperately need at times).

I appreciate you visiting today!  I am currently reading Whispers of Warning by Jessica Estevao (it is slow going).  Next time I will be sharing my thoughts on Pudding Up with Murder by Julia Buckley. May you have a fantastic Friday. Take care and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Macrame Murder: A Cora Crafts Mystery

Welcome!  To Be Where You Are by Jan Karon will be out on September 19.  It is the fourteenth novel in the Mitford series.  I look forward to seeing what Father Tim and Cynthia are up to this time (I am starting it tonight).  I had the opportunity to read a new sci-fi book this weekend, and I just loved it.  It is Invictus by Ryan Graudin and it will be out on September 26.  It is aimed at a younger audience, but I recommend it for any reader who loves fast paced, time traveling adventures (reminiscent of Timeless on NBC but with younger characters).  

Macramé Murder by Mollie Cox Bryan is the third installment in A Cora Crafts Mystery series.  Cora Chevalier is off to the Big Island Craft Retreat on Sea Glass Island with Ruby and Jane.  Cora and her boyfriend, Adrian arrived early so she could spend some quality time together.  While walking on the beach with Adrian, Cora observes a mermaid themed wedding with the bride wearing a beautiful one-of-a-kind tiara.  The next morning Cora hears that the bride, Marcy Grimm was discovered dead on the beach.  Cora is shocked when Adrian is taken in for questioning.  It seems Adrian has been keeping some secrets.  Cora knows that Adrian did not kill Marcy and sets out to prove it.  When another body turns up and someone close to Cora is harmed, Cora knows she needs to find the culprit quickly.  Will Cora be able to find the killer before it is too late?

Macramé Murder is nicely written, has a good pace and it is easy to read.  I like the craft aspect of the series and various crafts described in the book.  The sea glass and shell tiara was beautifully described (my daughter would love it—Little Mermaid fan).  Macramé Murder can be a standalone novel.  Cora and her associates history is supplied along with the details of the previous two cases (in the first two books in the series).  My rating for Macramé Murder is 3 out of 5 stars (I was left wanting more).  I thought the murder was interesting (there were some good parts), but the killer obvious (at least to me).  There is a twist, but many readers will anticipate it (it was predictable).  I never felt the suspense, though, in the story.  Cora’s numerous panic attacks and anxiety quickly got on my nerves.  You would think she would be at an old hat at murder by now (I suggest she get a new medication).  Cora is a hard character to like (I have really tried). The romance was too prominent for my tastes, and I am not a fan of Adrian.  Then there is the love triangle between Cora, Adrian, and Cashel (Cora should pick him).  Personally, I feel that Cora and Adrian’s romance is progressing too quickly (they just started dating).  I wish there had been less focus on Cora’s personal life and more on the mystery.  The story felt long (especially since the first murder happened so early in the story), and I thought there was too much time devoted to Cora thinking (internal dialogue).  The first two books in A Cora Crafts Mystery series are Death Among the Doilies and No Charm Intended.  For readers who prefer light, easy breezy cozy mysteries (like my mother), then check out Macrame Murder.

Thank you for stopping by and reading my latest review.  I will be reviewing The Proving by Beverly Lewis on Friday.  May you have a happy Thursday.  Take care, stay safe and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

An Amish Christmas Love: Amy Clipston, Beth Wiseman, Kelly Irvin and Ruth Reid

Happy Wednesday!  My electricity was restored late last night (thank heavens). We made it through Hurricane Irma without any significant damage.  We have a massive clean up job outside, but that is minor compared to what others have suffered.  We are so very lucky.

An Amish Christmas Love contains four novellas centered around Christmas by Beth Wiseman, Amy Clipston, Ruth Reid and Kelly Irvin.   Winter Kisses by Beth Wiseman is set in December in a snowy Lancaster County.  Naomi Stoltz lives with her mother, Barbara and grandmother, Ruth in the main house on their farm.  They have just rented out the daadi haus to Amish construction workers who will be in the area for a month.  When Ruth notices that the three gentlemen are in similar age to the three women, she is hoping cupid’s arrow will strike.  Barbara has been a widow for three years and it is time for her to move on (at least in Ruth’s opinion).   Ruth has been looking for the right man since she lost her husband and it is past time for Naomi to marry (according to Ruth).  Will these three women get their happily ever after this Christmas?

The Christmas Cat by Amy Clipston takes us to Bird-in-Hand, Pennsylvania.  Emma Bontrager is a sad this Christmas as it is the first one she has experienced alone in forty-five years.  Her husband, Henry passed away during the summer.  Emma was invited to the Blank house for dinner, but, with the heavy snow, she feels it would not be safe to venture out.  Emma is heading inside when she notices an orange tabby cat on her porch.  She tries to shoo the fellow away, but instead he ends up inside and resting comfortably in Henry’s chair.  Katie Ann Blank is worried when Emma does not arrive for dinner and did not leave a message.  Ephraim, Katie Ann’s brother, and Katie Ann (along with two friends) decide to visit Emma and bring her some Christmas cheer. 

Kelly Irvin’s Snow Angels returns readers to her Bee County Amish series.  David Byler has been courting Molly Shrock for the last year.  Molly is hoping that David will soon become baptized and then propose to her.  David and Molly are at a local auction when David sees his old Englisch girlfriend, Bobbie McGregor.  Bobbie’s father has become ill and she is needed to help run their ranch.  David has been in love with Bobbie, but he could not leave his community and his faith.  Seeing her now brings back his feeling for Bobbie.  She has not stopped loving him.  David needs to make a choice about his future.  Will David jump the fence or become baptized and propose to Molly this Christmas?

Home for Christmas by Ruth Reid takes us to Posen, Michigan.  Ellie Whetstone is a dog handler who travels the country visiting dog shows in her RV.  She is visiting Posen to visit the house she inherited from her aunt, Bonnie Whetstone and get it ready to sell.  Ellie follow the directions from the GPS and finds a small farmhouse.  She soon discovers that she is at the wrong property when Ezra Mast returns home with his daughter, Allison.  Allison instantly falls in love with Lulu, a three-year-old Standard Poodle, much to her father’s consternation.  A series of unfortunate events keep putting Ellie and Ezra in each other’s path.  When an accident takes Ellie away, Ezra fears he has seen the last of her.  Is there a chance for love between the Englischer and the Amish gentleman?

An Amish Christmas Love contains four lovely, heartwarming stories.  They are about love, faith, hope, trust, power of prayer, friendship, trusting in God’s path for our lives, and the magic of Christmas.  My favorite story is The Christmas Cat by Amy Clipston.  It is such a sweet story and I enjoyed the antics of the orange tabby that Emma names Hank.  I like how the author reveals Emma’s history with her husband and how much they loved each other.  Winter Kisses is humorous thanks to Ruth (she is a lively character).  Snow Angels had a slower pace than the others and it ties into Kelly Irvin’s existing Bee County Amish series (can be standalone).  I am rating An Amish Christmas Love 4 out of 5 stars.  The four stories are well-written and enjoyable to read.    I liked the life lessons presented in each story.  An Amish Christmas Love is the perfect escape novel.  Each book can be purchased separately or you can purchase all four in one volume.

Thank you for visiting today.  I am off to work on the yard clean up and work on the laundry (it piles up quickly).  May each of you have a wonderful Wednesday. I will be sharing my thoughts on Macrame Murder by Mollie Cox Bryan next time.  Take care and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader

Monday, September 11, 2017

Asking for Truffle: A Southern Chocolate Shop Mystery

Asking for Truffle by Dorothy St. James is the first story in A Southern Chocolate Shop Mystery series.  Charity Penn lives in Madison, Wisconsin with Granny Mae Stoughton who helped raise her. Penn has won a trip to Camellia Beach, South Carolina along with cooking lessons, but she never entered a contest. She is suspicious (fears it is a scam or someone trying to get her money) and asks her best friend, Skinny McGee to check it out for her.  Skinny leaves her a message stating he knows why she won the contest and will contact her the next morning to share what he uncovered.  Unfortunately, Skinny is drowned in a vat of chocolate at the Chocolate Box during the night.  Penn along with her dog, Stella (a barker and a biter) heads to Camellia Beach to find out what happened to her friend.  Penn visits the Chocolate Box and starts taking chocolate making lessons from Mabel Maybank and her partner, Bertie Bays.   But it is not all sunshine and rainbows in this small, island town.  Another death occurs and Penn is dropped into the middle of a controversy.   Penn needs to find the guilty party before she becomes the next casualty.

Asking for Truffle had such an interesting premise.  I liked the Chocolate Box, Mabel, Bertie, Althea, and the luscious sounding chocolates.  Penn, on the other hand, is very unlikeable.  She is prickly as a porcupine, standoffish and a whiner.  Penn complains constantly about her family (I admit they leave a lot to be desired, but I tired of hearing about them), her trust issues, people wanting her families’ money, her lack of cooking skills, her grandmother dislike of her, her aversion of anything related to magic, ghosts, crystals, and such.  The same details are repeated frequently throughout the story (I’m surprised someone had not tried to kill her prior to this). Penn states she has learned from her past mistakes, but she keeps making the same ones.  Her dog, Stella (a gift from Erik, the Cheese King—we never learn his full name) is a horror (bites everyone and barks constantly—though it does seem like a smart dog).  It might help if Penn actually tried to train Stella or showed her love.  Asking for Truffle would have been a better story if the author had made Mabel and Bertie the main characters.   I felt Asking for Truffle was too long.  If all the repetition had been left out, it would have been a better length (along with cutting down on the numerous cooking scenes).  There are actually two mysteries (the murder and a burglary).  Neither are difficult to solve.  Most readers will be able to identify the guilty parties early in the story. Penn is lacking as a sleuth.  She comes to town and spends more time learning to make chocolate than investigating Skinny’s murder.  She receives an envelope from the detective with paperwork that Skinny received prior to his death, and Penn does not open it.  These are just two examples.  The conclusion was very unsatisfying.  The author should have included an epilogue to tie up the loose ends.  What is the Cheese King doing that is angering Penn’s family?  Why did Mabel change her will a month before Penn arrived in town?  Who is Penn’s mother?  These are just a couple of unanswered questions (very frustrating).  I am rating Asking for Truffle 2 out of 5 stars (I did not like the final product).  If you are looking for a good escape book, then I do not recommend Asking for Truffle (it is frustrating and depressing).  There are some scrumptious chocolate recipes at the end of the novel. 

I appreciate you visiting today.  I will be reviewing An Amish Christmas Love by Amy Clipston, Beth Wiseman, Ruth Reid and Kelly Irvin on Tuesday (if I have electricity and wifi connection).  I hope each of you have a pleasant (and safe) Monday.  Take care and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Murder Wears Mittens: A Seaside Knitters Society Mystery

Greetings!  If you are looking for a sweet Christmas story to read, please check out 12 Days at Bleakly Manor by Michelle Griep.  I liked the characters, life lessons, and the mystery.  

Murder Wears Mittens by Sally Goldenbaum is the first book in A Seaside Knitters Society Mystery series. Cass Halloran is rushing to finish washing the lobster nets at the laundromat (who knew lobster nets needed washing) so she can get to her weekly knitting meeting (and dinner).   She checks the dryer and notices some children’s clothing.  A young boy comes in from the rain, grabs the clothing and takes off on his bike with his dog.  Cass spots that he left behind a little girl’s uniform for Safe Sea’s Elementary School.  When Cass mentions it to the group, they agree to go with her to check out the situation.  Cass, Izzy, Nell, and Birdie head over to the children’s home (Christopher and Sarah Grace) the next day and discover they are alone.  The kids do not know what happened to their mother, Kayla.  Sister Fiona, Cass’s aunt and principal of the children’s school, quickly takes charge of the situation (she is a bossy woman).   Kayla is soon found, but so is the body of Dolores Cardozo.  Kayla has no recollection of the past day.  When her bicycle is found outside Dolores’ home, the police consider Kayla their prime suspect.  The Seaside Knitters start digging into Dolores’ life to uncover who might have wished her harm.  Secrets are being disclosed and the killer has already shown what they will do to keep their skeletons locked away!

A Seaside Knitters Society Mystery series is a continuation of A Seaside Knitters Mystery series (which contains eleven books).  It contains the same characters in the same town (which is disappointing).  When you first open the book, you will find a long list of characters.  I only mentioned a few above.  There are too many characters to keep straight (along with their husband, relationships, etc.).  I highly recommend reading A Seaside Knitters Mystery series prior to picking up Murder Wears Mittens (that is no guarantee that you will still be able to keep the characters straight).  I did not enjoy Murder Wears Mittens as much as Death by Cashmere (first book in original series).  I miss the book being centered around the knitting shop (they father around the dinner table now).  I appreciate the strong, female characters in Murder Wears Mittens, and it is nice to see how the various characters have grown/evolved (especially Cass) since Death by Cashmere.  My rating for Murder Wears Mittens is 3.5 out of 5 stars.  The mystery has several components that are revealed as the group delves into Dolores’ life.  The suspect list is extremely small, and I thought the killer’s identity was obvious.  I believe most readers will figure out this puzzle before the reveal.  The reason for Kayla’s secrecy is a no-brainer.  I wish there had been more time devoted in the story to the mystery.  It seems like more time is spent on the group’s meals than the whodunit.  Murder Wears Mittens is easy to read, has a decent pace, good characters, and has a quaint seaside town. For those cozy mystery readers who prefer that the emphasis is placed on the cozy, you will love reading Murder Wears Mittens.

I appreciate you visiting and reading my thoughts.  I will be reviewing Asking for Truffle by Dorothy St. James on Monday (depending upon Hurricane Irma). May each of you have a special Sunday. Take care, stay safe and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader

Saturday, September 9, 2017

A Tale of Two Kitties: A Magical Cats Mystery

Welcome!  An Amish Christmas Love by Amy Clipston, Beth Wiseman, Ruth Reid and Kelly Irvin will be published on September 12.  It contains four Amish short stories that are set during the holiday season.  Sofie Kelly is pseudonym for Darlene Ryan, a young adult fiction author.  She also writes A Second Chance Cat Mystery series under the non de plume Sofie Ryan.

A Tale of Two Kitties by SofieKelly is the ninth mystery in A Magical Cats Mystery series.  Kathleen Paulson is a librarian in Mayville Heights, Minnesota and owns (well, as much as you can own a cat) two special cats named Owen and Hercules.  When remodeling a local post office, undelivered mail and photos were discovered.  The library has agreed to take possession of the photos.  Kathleen wants to find a way to identify the people in the photos and get them in the hands of family.  Twin brothers, Victor and Leo Janes have returned to town for Thanksgiving and the gossip mill is buzzing.  People remember that Victor had an affair with Leo’s wife.  Unfortunately, Meredith died in a car accident shortly afterward.  This is a chance for a reconciliation between the two men.  Mia Janes, a library student intern, is tickled to have her grandfather in town.  Kathleen drives Mia to visit Leo one day after work and Kathleen notices the apartment door ajar.  She goes inside to find Leo dead from obvious blunt force trauma.  The police soon narrow their sights on Simon Janes, Leo’s son and Kathleen’s friend, when they discover he an argument with Leo and lacks an alibi.  Kathleen with the aid of her two magical sidekicks, Owen and Hercules, delves into the case intent on tracking down Leo’s killer.  Come visit Mayville Heights and help Kathleen solve her latest case in A Tale of Two Kitties.

A Tale of Two Kitties has good writing, but the pace is a little slow.  There are nice, relatable characters and a charming small-town setting.  Kathleen is a great character who has a wonderful job—a librarian!  I enjoy her interactions with her fur babies.  A Tale of Two Kitties contains an extra amount of cozy.  There is socializing, meals, work at the library, romance, the cat’s antics, the found photographs and mail, plus much more.  I wish the author had not devoted so much time to the lost (and now found) photographs and mail.  It seemed to dominate the story. The mystery was interesting and I liked how it was structured (containing several different components that all fit together).  The author included some good clues which will aid readers in solving the crime (plus the suspect list is very small).  My rating for A Tale of Two Kitties is 4 out of 5 stars.  A Tale of Two Kitties is a cute story and I delighted in the paranormal element.  The magical cats are adorable and entertaining (especially Owen with his funky chickens).  If you have not read any of the previous A Magical Cat Mystery novels, you will be a little lost (since there are so many secondary characters) in the beginning and it might hinder readers in solving the crime.  A Tale of Two Kitties is a charming cozy mystery that will delight readers. 

I sincerely hope that each of you have a happy Saturday.  Those in the path of Hurricane Irma, please stay safe.  We are in for a long, wet weekend.  I am currently reading Doom with a View by Kate Kingsbury (still trying to catch up on my reading from when I was sick).  I will be reviewing Murder Wears Mittens by Sally Goldenbaum next.  Take care and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader