Monday, August 3, 2020

Peace in the Valley by Kelly Irvin

Peace in the Valley (Amish of Big Sky Country #3)
About the Book

Peace in the Valley by Kelly Irvin has a forest fire heading for the homes in West Kootenai, Montana.  Nora Beachy and her family are forced to evacuate along with the other residents including Levi Raber, Nora’s beau, and his extended family. The smoke is bad for her youngest niece who was born with underdeveloped lungs.  It is decided to send Nora along with her sister and her family to live with their grandparents in Libby.  The Amish in Libby have embraced a different type of worship which is not approved of by Nora’s parents nor their church elders.  Nora finds her relatives wearing a variety of clothing from traditional Amish dress to English clothes.  Their services are held in a church with live music.  After Nora attends her first service with the Eagle Valley Amish, she understands their choice.  Nora would like a closer relationship with Jesus and to understand the scriptures.  She begins to question the Amish church and its practices.  When Levi is sent to bring her home, Nora will have to decide which life suits her best.  
Montana's Wildfire Smoke Affects Climate and Health - Moms Clean Air Force
My Thoughts

Peace in the Valley by Kelly Irvin the final novel in Amish of Big Sky Country series.  We return to West Kootenai, Montana where fires are decimating the West Kootenai National Forest.  The people in the town built their homes close to the mountains and always knew that this could happen.  Nora Beachy’s family evacuates to nearby Rexford where the smoke is still present in the air.  Sadie, the youngest child of Nora’s sister, was born early with underdeveloped lungs and the smoke is bad for her.  It is decided to send Jeannie (Nora’s sister) along with her husband and children to their grandparents’ home in Libby with Nora to assist (poor Jeannie is just worn out with three kids under five).  Nora’s parents, though, are worried about the Eagle Valley Amish influencing Nora with their different way of worshipping and their more worldly choices.  Nora is twenty years old and a baptized member of the community.  She is looking forward to marrying her beau, Levi Raber when they have saved enough to purchase the home they have their eyes on.  Peace in the Valley is a story about temptation, judging others, trust, family, and faith.  I thought the story was well-written and it can be read as a standalone.  We see Nora seeing a different way of life and worship.  The Amish in Libby have more freedoms.  They can dress differently, play musical instruments, and drive cars.  Nora finds her faith and beliefs challenged from the moment she arrives.  Temptation can be hard to resist especially when it is things you have always wanted to do.  She wonders what is so wrong about playing an instrument or studying the Bible.  I find that the story followed an expected path and there is repetition of the same details.  It is a story laden with scripture quotes and talk about faith.   I could understand why Nora struggled especially with regard to Levi.   I do know that I would make a lousy Amish wife because I could not “bow to my husband’s wishes”.   My favorite line is, “God has a plan for us.”  I liked the epilogue that wrapped up the series.   
Why I Fell In Love with the Amish. As I considered writing an Amish novel a friend offered to take me up to the small Amish community in West Kootenai, Montana. She’d grown up there and was friends with many of the Amish families. I jumped at the chance.
Amish in West Kootenai, Montana
Peace in the Valley releases on Tuesday, August 4 and is available from Amazon*.  The other two novels in Amish of Big Sky Country series are Mountains of Grace and A Long Bridge Home.  You can find Kelly Irvin's other novels here.  Thank you for joining me today.  I will return tomorrow with The Mockingbird's Song by Wanda E. Brunstetter.  It is the 2nd book in Amish Greenhouse Mystery series.  I hope that you have a tranquil day.  Take care, stay safe, and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader
Stock Photo : Young woman reading a book by the lake
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Sunday, August 2, 2020

The Last of the Moon Girls by Barbara Davis

The Last of the Moon Girls
Happy Sunday!  I hope you are having a pleasant weekend.  Here are some of the books that will be published on August 4:  Piecing It All Together by Leslie Gould, A Life Once Dreamed by Rachel Fordham, The Cabinets of Barnaby Mayne by Elsa Hart, and Peace in the Valley by Kelly Irvin.  I will be sharing my thoughts on all of these books this month.  Which one do you wish to read first?
Lavender Herb Farm in Okanagan Valley
Herb Farm
Book Summary 

The Last of the Moon Girls by Barbara Davis has Lizzy Moon learning that her grandmother, Althea has passed leaving Moon Girl Farm to her.  Lizzy left the family farm eight years ago after two teenage girls were murdered, and their bodies found in the pond on their property.  Althea was never charged, but the gossip did its damage.  Lizzy returns to the farm to obtain the family journals and put the farm up for sale.  She was unprepared for the emotions and memories that come rushing back or the condition of the farm.  Lizzy finds a journal that Althea left for her titled A Book of Remembrance which is meant to help her remember the good times as well as assist her with her gift.  Andrew Greyson, their neighbor, arrives to fulfill a promise he made to Althea.  He has been in love with Lizzy since they were children.  Andrew never doubted Althea’s innocence in the girl’s deaths.  Lizzy realizes there is only one way that she can move forward and that is to clear Althea’s name.  She sets out to discover who murdered the teenage girls eight years ago.  Someone is not happy with Lizzy resurrecting the case and delivers forbidding messages.  Can Lizzy clear Althea’s name and embrace her legacy?
Drying flowers from the Natural Bridges Farm
Drying racks for herbs
My Thoughts 

The Last of the Moon Girls by Barbara Davis is not quite what I expected from the description.  Moon Girl Farm has been in the Moon family since Sabine Moon purchased the property in 1786.  It has passed from mother to daughter through the generations and now Lizzy Moon, as far as she knows, is the last Moon girl.  Lizzy left the farm eight years after a scandal rocked Salem Creek, New Hampshire and the Moon family.  Two teenage sisters did not make it home one night.  After the sheriff’s department received an anonymous tip, they dragged the lake on the farm and found the girls who had been missing three weeks.  People believed Althea Moon, Lizzy’s grandmother, killed the girls despite the lack of evidence.  Lizzy is notified that Althea has died leaving the farm to her.  Lizzy comes home to sell the farm and collect the family journals.  After reading a special journal Althea left for Lizzy, she sets out to learn what really happened to the teens.  Lizzy was a conundrum.  She went eight years without visiting her elderly grandmother who raised her.  All her life all Lizzy wanted was to be normal (highly overrated).  Lizzy has wanted nothing to do with the farm or the scandal (as we are repeatedly told).  But then she doggedly pursues the truth.  I did enjoy the magic, the information about herbs and perfume, and Lizzy’s soapmaking.  I was disappointed that the romance was so prominent.  I wish it had taken a backseat to the mystery and magic.   Andrew Greyson, Lizzy’s love interest, had cared for Lizzy since they were kids. He was always there when she needed assistance.  They are now both back in town and Andrew is working to fix the greenhouse.  I did not like Andrew rescuing Lizzy because I would have preferred Lizzy saving herself. My favorite character was Evvie Broussard, the keeper of bees and jewelry maker.  I thought the story was predictable and it moved along slowly.  You can foresee how the story will play out after the first few chapters.  There were various storylines all happening at the same time which muddled this book.  Lizzy, the farm, the magic, and finding herself would have been enough.   The epilogue wrapped up the book with a bow.  The Last of the Moon Girls is a good escape novel.  Some changes would have taken this book to the next level and made it great.  
Aftelier Perfumes - perfume organ-Mandy Aftel Is A Natural Perfumer We Love
Creating Perfume
The Last of the Moon Girls is available from Amazon*.  You can find other novels by Barbara Davis here.  I appreciate you reading my review today. I did want to mention that I know information is the My Thoughts portion repeats parts of the Book Summary.  The summary I write only appears here on my blog while my review appears everywhere else.  Tomorrow I am featuring Peace in the Valley by Kelly Irvin.  It is the third (and final) novel in Amish of Big Sky Country.  I hope that you have a carefree day.  Take care, stay safe, and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader
Reading outside under the apple tree
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Saturday, August 1, 2020

Ghost Ups Her Game by Carolyn Hart

Ghost Ups Her Game (A Bailey Ruth Ghost Novel Book 9) by [Carolyn Hart]
Welcome!  It is the first day of August which means the hottest days of the summer are ahead of us in Florida.  The perfect time to stay inside with a cool drink and an ereader full of books.  The Last of the Moon Girls by Barbara Davis is out today along with Across the Winding River by Aimee K. Runyan, and Trust No One by Debra WebbCastelmezzano, The Witch is Dead by Adriana Licio is now out.  It is the prequel to the author's new Italian cozy mystery series, The Homeswappers.  What is next on your TBR list?
The Glory Train - PLAY - The Train - Wattpad
Ghost Ups Her Game by Carolyn Hart has Bailey Ruth Raeburn heading back to Adelaide, Oklahoma when an urgent call comes through the Heaven’s Department of Good Intentions.  She quickly hops aboard the Rescue Express with Wiggins calling out that this case is “Irregular.  Problematic.  Out of the Ordinary.” He issues a final warning about following the Precepts.  Bailey Ruth arrives to find Matt Lambert, Vice President of Outreach at Goddard College, dead on the floor with Professor Iris Gallagher standing near the victim with the murder weapon in her hand.  Newly minted attorney, Robert Blair also in the room.  Bailey Ruth quickly starts searching for clues.  She knows Police Chief Sam Cobb will soon have Iris at the top of his suspect list.  The clues are few, but it turns out that there are several people who were not happy with the victim.  Unfortunately, the evidence is stacked against Iris who soon finds herself behind bars.  Bailey Ruth needs to save Iris before the local prison becomes Iris’ permanent home and Bailey Ruth finds herself out of a job.  

Crime Scene Cleaning :: Crime-scene-cleanup-seattle
Ghost Ups Her Game by Carolyn Hart is the 9th A Bailey Ruth Ghost Novel.  Bailey Ruth Raeburn is a delightful character.  Bailey Ruth is a woman who loves her heavenly job as well as fashionable clothes.  When an urgent call from Adelaide arrives at the Department of Good Intentions, Bailey Ruth knows the assignment is for her.  I always enjoy the Bailey Ruth novels because they have humor, mystery, and a fashionable female sleuth from Heaven.  I thought Ghost Ups Her Game was well-written with steady pacing.  I do not believe this would make a good standalone book because some key details are missing for new readers.  I suggest beginning with Ghost at Work.  The mystery was fun to solve.  I can always count on Bailey Ruth to diligently search for clues and question witnesses.  I like that she keeps Sam Cobb, the Adelaide Chief of Police, up to date.  They get along for the most part.  It is great how they bounce ideas off each other when they are not eating unhealthy food.  The mystery is not hard to solve, but that did not diminish my reading pleasure.  Ghost Ups Her Game is one of those books that you just sit back, start reading, and enjoy the ride.  My favorite line from Ghost Ups Her Game comes from Bailey Ruth when she says, “A ghost must do what a ghost must do.”  The only thing I dislike about the book is the descriptions of every outfit.  I do not need to know what each and every one of Bailey Ruth’s outfits look like especially since she changes so often.  I look forward to Bailey Ruth’s next adventure.  Ghost Ups Her Game is an entertaining tale with a mystifying murder, a curious clue, a weighty weapon, a careful cop, a pushy politician, and a heavenly emissary riding the rails to the rescue.  
Kate's jb murder board
Bailey Ruth standing in front of murder board
Ghost Ups Her Game is available from major booksellers including Amazon*.  You can find the other eight A Bailey Ruth Mystery series here.  Thank you for visiting today.  I will be back next time with The Last of the Moon Girls by Barbara Davis.  I do hope that you have a heavenly day.  Take care, stay safe, and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader
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Friday, July 31, 2020

The Orphan Twins by Lesley Eames: Review & Excerpt

The Orphan Twins
About the Book

London, 1910. Lily is ten years old when she realizes her grandmother, a washerwoman in the backstreets of London's Bermondsey, is seriously ill. She's determined to do what can she can to help and keep her grandmother's illness a secret – even from her beloved twin, Artie. But Gran isn't getting any better, and there's only so much Lily can do...
When tragedy strikes and the twins are faced with the prospect of a workhouse or an orphanage, a benefactor offers to take Artie in and educate him. All Artie's needs will be taken care of – but the gentleman has no use for a girl. The twins have lost everything they knew and loved, but they never thought they'd lose each other.
As the orphan twins grow up and take different paths, their new lives are beyond anything they could have imagined. Will they ever find a way to be together again?
Southwark Park Road, Bermondsey, Southwark, c.1910 | London Borough of Southwark | Ideal Homes
Southwark Park Road, Bermondsey 1910

About the Author
Lesley Eames was born in Manchester but currently living in Hertfordshire, Lesley’s career has included law and charity fundraising. She is now devoting her time to her own writing and to teaching creative writing to others. In addition to selling almost 90 short stories to the women’s magazine market, Lesley has won the Festival of Romance’s New Talent Award and the Romantic Novelists’ Associations Elizabeth Goudge Cup.
Poplar workhouse dining hall, c.1903 and link to workhouse recipes // Meet your privileged relatives, kids ...
Workhouse Dining Hall
Author Links

Twitter: @LesleyEames

Carl Duwe outside his baker and confectioner's shop on Burton Rd, West Didsbury, 1908
Bakery & Confectionery 1908
My Thoughts

The Orphan Twins by Lesley Eames is an engaging historical novel.   Lily Tomkins and her twin brother, Artie live with their Gran on Jessey Street in Bermondsey in 1910.  Lily is just ten years old when she notices that Gran is unwell.  Gran passes within a year leaving the twins with just each other.  Artie is fortunate to have found a benefactor in Mr. Crispin Alderton.  He agrees to take in Artie and provide him with an excellent education which will allow him to obtain a good position later.  Lily is sent to Booth’s Cottage Schools in Sevenoaks where she will train for life as a domestic.  The twins will need to work hard to get ahead and fight to keep in touch with each other.  I thought The Orphan Twins was well-written and it moved along at a good pace.  The characters are developed, and I enjoyed following the twins’ journey.  We get to see how differently boys and girls were treated.  The Orphan Twins is told from Lily’s point-of-view.  Lily Tomkins is smart, and she knows that she wants more out of her life.  Artie is given a great opportunity (one Lily would have loved) and Lily encourages Artie to accept it.  The education of a boy was considered a higher priority than that of a female.  We get to see the differences in the twins’ lifestyle.  I thought the author captured the time-period with the clothing, books, attitudes, and historical events.  There are great descriptions of London and the scenic places the characters visited.  Lesley Eames brought the setting to life with her vivid word imagery.  The Orphan Twins is an emotional novel about love, family, trust, friends, and hope.  We get to see good times and the bad (make sure to have tissues handy).  The ending was just lovely.  My favorite phrases from The Orphan Twins is, “It isn’t how much money a person has that matters.  It’s what’s in their hearts.”  The Orphan Twins is a captivating historical novel with a raging war, fine friends, tons of tea, romantic despairs, ingenious ideas, and steadfast siblings.

‘How much would this errand cost?’ Mr Higgins asked, when Lily took his washing round and announced that she was running errands for people.

‘Just a halfpenny,’ Lily told him. None of their neighbours were rich so she knew she was unlikely to get any business if she asked for more. ‘I can fetch things like cigarettes and milk or shoes from the cobbler. Or I can post letters. You know you can trust me. I’m Maggie Tomkins’s granddaughter, after all.’

‘Hmm.’ He gave her a long look as she stood before his chair, hands clasped behind her back. ‘All right. You can fetch me ten Woodbines from Welby’s. Be quick about it or I might think you’ve gone off with my money.’
Wild Woodbine Cigarettes
He gave her two shillings. Lily raced to the corner shop, bought the cigarettes and raced back to hand them to Mr Higgins along with his change which he counted carefully. ‘You haven’t taken your halfpenny,’ he pointed out.

‘I thought I should wait for you to give it to me.’  He pushed a halfpenny across the table and Lily picked it up. ‘Thanks. Maybe I’ll call tomorrow and see if you have any more errands for me.’
Half Penny coin - what was the point??!!!!
A half penny coin
‘I’m not promising I’ll have any.’

‘I can ask, though, can’t I?’

‘I suppose you can. Knock on the window and I’ll beckon you in if I need you.’

Lily took the halfpenny home and wrapped it in an old sock. By the end of the first week she had seven halfpennies in there – three from Mr Higgins, two from his neighbour, Mrs Platt, and two from Mr Wright across the road.

Gran seemed no worse but neither did she seem any better. She was eating little and looked terribly tired in unguarded moments. She also looked deeply relieved for all the help Lily was giving but she fired up one afternoon when she and Lily were alone and Lily asked, ‘Feeling all right, Gran?’ ‘’Course I am!’ Gran insisted.
Rustin’s shoreditch
Lily regretted asking the question because Gran got up and busied herself instead of resting for a moment over a cup of tea. Lily was sure Gran still wasn’t back to her old self, but some illnesses took a while to pass and Lily hoped Gran’s was one of them.

Even so, she made it known to her customers that she was available for errand-running in the mornings too. It meant getting up very early to fill the copper and set it to boil, put washing in the dolly tub or the old tin bath to soak, mix starch, scrub grubby collars and cuffs, and eat breakfast too, moving quickly while trying to look as though she wasn’t rushing at all.
Philip Mernick’s East London Shopfronts | Spitalfields Life

She encouraged Artie to leave for school sooner than was really needed by suggesting he’d like to play with his pals then, as soon as he’d joined them, she’d say, ‘Don’t be late,’ and hasten away as though going to see her own friends, Gertie and Ruth. In reality she’d race off to get her errands done before running back to school in time for the starting bell.

By the end of the second week the money in the sock totalled eightpence. By the end of the third week there was a shilling and thruppence.

Gran still wasn’t better. No matter how hard she was trying to hide it, the signs were there. Less washing was coming in and yet Gran was behind with it. There were occasional creases in ironing that used to be perfect, little food in the house and Gran herself seemed… smaller somehow. Not the vigorous Maggie Tomkins of old.
22 Borough High Street: rear elevation 
For all that she was trying to leave Gran her pride, Lily couldn’t help speaking out again when she caught Gran’s worn hands rubbing her middle as though trying to soothe pain. ‘I wish you’d tell me if you have a belly ache.’  ‘Only a bit of wind, Lil.’

It was more serious than wind. Lily was certain now. She wished she knew how much it would cost for Gran to see a doctor, but asking any of their neighbours would arouse their suspicions about why she wanted to know and word might get back to Gran. Perhaps when Lily had three shillings in the sock she’d speak to Gran about seeing someone.
Taking over a London bus in the Armistice day celebrations, 1918
Armistice Day in London 1918
The Orphan Twins is available from Amazon, Kobo, iBooks, and Google Play.   The Orphan Twins is available through Kindle Unlimited (can learn more about the program here).  If you like The Orphan Twins, check out Lesley Ames' other novels here.  Thank you for joining me today.  I will be back tomorrow Ghost Ups Her Game by Carolyn Hart.  It is the 9th A Bailey Ruth Ghost Novel.  I do hope that you have a positive day.  Take care, stay safe, and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader

Be Kinder than You Think Your Students Need
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Thursday, July 30, 2020

Witches and Wedding Cake by Bailey Cates

Witches and Wedding Cake (A Magical Bakery Mystery #9)
Good Day! I want to share some upcoming book releases with you. The Mockingbird's Song by Wanda E. Brunstetter is out on August 1.  It is the second novel in Amish Greenhouse Mystery series.  A free preview is available from Amazon by clicking hereAdriana Licio has created a new cozy mystery series called The Homeswappers.  It begins with a prequel titled Castelmezzano:  The Witch is Dead which comes out July 30.  The Cabinets of Barnaby Mayne by Elsa Hart publishes on August 4.  You can never have too many books!
Crime Scene Do Not Cross Chalk Stock Vector (Royalty Free) 453970798
Witches and Wedding Cake by Bailey Cates has Katie Lightfoot completing the final details of her wedding which will take place within a week.  It has been a whirlwind three months since Declan proposed.  Declan’s mother and two of his sisters arrived in town early to revisit old haunts.  Unfortunately, Rori McCarthy’s ex-husband has tracked her down.  Katie gets a late-night call from Declan.  Rori visited her ex-hubby at his seedy motel and found him dead on the floor of his room.  Detective Peter Quinn has Rori at the top of his suspect list especially since she made a threat against him hours before his demise.  Rori asks Katie to investigate.  She wants closure as well as off the suspect list.  In between working at the bakery, moving into the newly renovated carriage house, and last-minute wedding details, Katie, with help from the ladies of the spellbook club, begins asking questions.  It turns out that Tucker Abbott, Rori’s ex-husband, was a con man who left unhappy people in his wake.  Katie will need to work quickly if she is going to solve this case before she walks down the aisle.  
9 Brilliant Alternates to a Wedding Cakes | City of Creative Dreams  wedding cake alternatives cheap, wedding cake alternatives unique, wedding cake alternatives dessert table, wedding cake alternatives ideas
Witches and Wedding Cake by Bailey Cates is the 9th A Magical Bakery Mystery.  I have been reading this spirited series from the very first beginning.  Witches and Wedding Cake can be read as a standalone, but I recommend reading this series in order.  It will allow you to follow Katie on her journey from discovering she is a kitchen witch, moving to Savannah, solving mysteries, and falling in love with Declan McCarthy.  Katie has had a busy two and half years.  I thought Witches and Wedding Cake was well-written with developed characters.  The author captures the beauty of Savannah, Georgia with her word imagery.  Katie Lightfoot is the perfect protagonist for this series.   She is friendly, smart, creative, and relatable.  There is a great cast of characters from Lucy, Ben, and Declan to the ladies of the spellbook club.  I just love Mungo, Katie’s familiar with his adorable “yip”.  The mystery was fun to solve.  There are multiple suspects that slowly get whittled down.  One little detail can provide the solution.  Katie has a full plate in this book, but she found time to help Declan.  Connor, the spirit who had attached himself to Declan, is missing.  Declan misses the Irish spirit.  I look forward to seeing how they find him. The special part of this book is Katie and Declan’s wedding.  Katie must deal with an interfering soon-to-be sister-in-law and a lack of an officiant.  I enjoyed reading Witches and Wedding Cake.  It is one of those books that puts a smile on your face.  Witches and Wedding Cake is an enchanting cozy mystery with a twitchy troglodyte, distinct dragonflies, a cupcake wedding cake, a mystifying music box, a stray spirit, and a magical marriage ceremony.
Fairytales Come To Life At This Whimsical Wedding #bohowedding
Witches and Wedding Cake can be obtained from Amazon* along with the other eight books in A Magical Bakery Mystery series.  I hope you enjoy this enchanting cozy mystery.  I appreciate you reading my review today.  Tomorrow I am sharing The Orphan Twins by Lesley Eames. I hope that you have a magical day.  Take care of yourself, stay safe, and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader
tiny paints
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Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Morning Star by Charlotte Hubbard

Morning Star
Welcome!  I hope everyone is having a good week.  I am in a very good mood.  I have been working towards a goal for almost seven years and I finally achieved it this week.  I had no idea it would take me this long to get the invite (sorry, but I am not allowed to say more).  I am just happy to finally have reached the summit.  I can now enjoy the perks.  How are you doing?  
Amish - Girls begin wearing a cape for church and dress up occasions at about age eight. Single women wear a white cape to church until about the age of thirty. Everyday capes are colored, matching the dress, until about age forty when only black is used.
Morning Star by Charlotte Hubbard has Jo Fussner coming up with the idea to use the old Clementi barn as a marketplace for their community.  She takes her notion to Bishop Jeremiah Shetler.  Soon The Marketplace is born and it will open at the beginning of June.  Regina Miller finds painting a joy.  She creates beautiful watercolors which goes against the Ordung.  Regina rents a booth at The Marketplace under a pseudonym which will allow her to maintain her secrecy while selling her creations.  Unfortunately, Gabe Flaud has been paying attention to Regina and her habits.  It leads him to speculate in public that Regina may be the artist which brings the church leaders down on Regina.  Gabe feels guilty for the trouble he has caused Regina especially since he has a secret of his own.  Gabe defends Regina before the other members and confesses his own sin.  The pair find themselves drawn together in the weeks that follow.  Will they find themselves the newest couple in Morning Star, or are their differences too numerous to overcome?
Picture of Stoltzfus Bakery in Central Market, Lancaster PA
Morning Star by Charlotte Hubbard is the beginning of The Maidels of Morning Star series.  Jo Fussner, Regina Miller, Lydianne Christner plus Mariettta and Molly Helfing are five unmarried women living in Morning Star, Missouri.  The five independent ladies all have jobs that support them which is unconventional for Amish women.  I liked Jo Fussner’s idea of purchasing the Clementi property and turning the run down stable into a marketplace.   The community is lucky to have a kind and compassionate leader in Bishop Jeremiah Shetler.  It is a shame the deacon and ministers are not cut from the same cloth.  Regina Miller has been creating art for many years.  While taking a class during her rumspringa, Regina discovered her love of watercolors.  She creates realistic landscapes and has dozens of them stacked in bins in her attic studio.  Regina came up with a plan to rent a stall at The Marketplace.  Unfortunately, she did not count on someone figuring out her secret and blurting it out in front of others.  I thought Morning Star was well-written with steady pacing.  There are some great characters in this story as well as some you want to drop kick into the next county.  The problem I had was with the content.  We see a woman being condemned for using her God given talents to create art.  These few men now attack her for her creativity.  I could not stand the belittling and bullying.  They want Regina to give up her independence.  I just found it all wrong.  I know it is a part of the Amish faith, but I found it frustrating and upsetting.  If she had painted on usable objects, then it was not sinful (where is the logic in that).  Please note that this is just my personal feelings about some of the content.  Morning Star has other components that I enjoyed.  I will be reading First Light in Morning Star.  I enjoyed the references to nearby Willow Ridge from Charlotte Hubbard’s Simple Gifts series and Seasons of the Heart series.  My favorite line from Morning Stars is, “Chocolate makes everything feel better, ain’t so?”  Morning Star starts off the Maidels of Morning Star series with a bang.  Morning Star is an emotional tale with picturesque paintings, merry music, a booming marketplace, firm friends, and a benevolent bishop. 
AMISH DISCOVERIES: Amish Heading to Church Service
Amish heading to church
Morning Star is available from Amazon* as well as other booksellers (Barnes & Noble, Kobo, iBooks, etc.).  The next novel in The Maidels of Morning Star series is First Light in Morning Star featuring Lydianne Christner.  It will release on December 29, 2020.  You can find Charlotte Hubbard's other novels here.  Thank you for stopping by today.  Tomorrow I am featuring Witches and Wedding Cake by Bailey Cates.  It is the 9th A Magical Bakery Mystery.  I hope you have an uplifting day.  Take care, stay safe, and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader
AMISH DISCOVERIES: Amish Reading Moment # 4
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Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Tea & Treachery by Vicki Delany

Tea & Treachery (Tea by the Sea Mysteries #1)
"Portobello Road...Portobello Road...streets where the riches of ages are sold" :0>
Tea & Treachery by Vicki Delany takes us to Cape Cod, Massachusetts where Lily Roberts owns Tea by the Sea.  In the mornings, Lily prepares the breakfasts for Victoria-on-Sea Bed and Breakfast which is owned by her grandmother, Rose.  Rose is currently in an uproar because her neighbor wants to sell his lot to a developer who intends to erect a golf resort.  Jack Ford, the developer, needs to get the zoning changed first, but he does not see that as an obstacle.  The day after an altercation between Rose and Jack Ford, Lily finds Ford dead at the bottom of their cliffside staircase.  Detective Chuck Williams believes Rose did in Jack Ford and is determined to put her behind bars.  Rose and Lily’s friend, Bernie decide to do a little digging into Jack Ford’s background and business practices.  Lily tries to dissuade them, but that is like trying to stop a steamroller going downhill with a tricycle.  Lily gets swept into the investigation and finds a multitude of suspects.  It appears that Jack Ford was not a well-liked man.  The killer is unhappy with Lily’s sleuthing which results in some scary threats.  Lily needs to work quickly, or she could end up the next victim.
Tea & Treachery by Vicki Delany is the debut novel in A Tea by the Sea Mystery series.  Tea & Treachery is set in Cape Code, Massachusetts where Rose Campbell, Lily’s grandmother, settled after the death of her husband.  She purchased a large Victorian home on the cliffs above the sea which provides her with a beautiful view and plenty of peace.  When Lily saw the little cottage on the property, she thought it was the perfect place for a tea shop which has been her dream.  When not busy whipping up delectable delights and tea for Tea by the Sea, Lily is helping her grandmother with the bed and breakfast.  I like that the author took the time to establish the main characters and provide beautiful descriptions of the B&B, tea shop, Lily’s little cottage, and the beautiful gardens.  I could just imagine strolling along through the gardens and hearing the waves below.  There are great facts about the history of tea, the various teas Lily’s serves, and food Lily’s whips up.  It was interesting to learn about the different types of teas, and how tea time started.  The mystery had a variety of suspects from the mayor, the victim’s wife, the mistress, to the son of the man trying to unload the land next to Rose.  If you pay close attention to the details, this whodunit can be solved before the reveal.  I liked that the mystery had a good wrap up (no questions left unanswered).  The new head gardener, Simon McCracken seems to have taken a liking a Lily.  There was some mild flirting between Lily and Simon.  Bernie Murphy, Lily’s writer friend, provided humor while Éclair, Lily’s labradoodle, gave readers cuteness.  Rose, Lily’s grandmother, was a hard character to like.  She is stubborn, feisty, set in her ways, selfish, and opinionated.  I found her frustrating with her “its my way or its my way” approach.   Rose and Bernie together were a bit much.  I hope both women will grow on me in future books.  Also, Lily need to develop a backbone and learn to say no, or her grandmother will run roughshod over her.  Tea & Treachery is an easy to read book and a good start to this new cozy mystery series.  There are recipes at the end for coconut cupcakes, scones, and tea bath salts.  Tea & Treachery is an engaging cozy mystery with tempting tea treats, a scarcity of scones, a dead developer, curious clues, shaky steps, a whimsical writer, and a burdened baker.  
Treats for grownups and kiddos alike. Reception decor / Styled shoot by Sephory Photography / Tea time / Boho wedding inspiration / Sweet things / Pastries
Tea & Treachery is available from Amazon*.  You can find more novels by Vicki Delany here.  She is the author of A Sherlock Holmes Bookshop Mystery series, A Constable Mary Smith series, and A Year-Round Christmas Mystery series.  Her next release is Dying in a Winter Wonderland which is the 5th A Year-Round Christmas MysteryDying in a Winter Wonderland publishes on September 29.  Thank you for reading my review today.  Tomorrow I am sharing my thoughts on Morning Star by Charlotte Hubbard.  It is the debut novel in The Maidels of Morning Star series.  I do hope that you have an uplifting day.  Take care, stay safe, and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader
✉ Biblio Beauties ✉ paintings of women reading letters & books - Robert Emil Stubner | Summer Afternoon
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Monday, July 27, 2020

From Beer to Eternity by Sherry Harris: Review & Giveaway!

From Beer to Eternity

A Chloe Jackson, Sea Glass Saloon Mystery

by Sherry Harris

About from Beer to Eternity 

Cozy Mystery
New Series
Publisher: Kensington (July 28, 2020)
Mass Market Paperback: 320 pages
ISBN-10: 1496723031
ISBN-13: 978-1496723031
A whip smart librarian’s fresh start comes with a tart twist in this perfect cocktail of murder and mystery—with a romance chaser.


With Chicago winters in the rearview mirror, Chloe Jackson is making good on a promise: help her late friend’s grandmother run the Sea Glass Saloon in the Florida Panhandle. To Chloe’s surprise, feisty Vivi Slidell isn’t the frail retiree Chloe expects. Nor is Emerald Cove. It’s less a sleepy fishing village than a panhandle hotspot overrun with land developers and tourists. But it’s a Sea Glass regular who’s mysteriously crossed the cranky Vivi. When their bitter argument comes to a head and he’s found dead behind the bar, guess who’s the number one suspect?

In trying to clear Vivi’s name, Chloe discovers the old woman isn’t the only one in Emerald Cove with secrets. Under the laidback attitude, sparkling white beaches, and small town ways something terrible is brewing. And the sure way a killer can keep those secrets bottled up is to finish off one murder with a double shot: aimed at Chloe and Vivi.
One of the most iconic restaurants in all of Florida, Blue Heaven in Key West is a funky haven known…

About Sherry Harris

Sherry Harris is the Agatha Award-nominated author of the Sarah Winston Garage Sale Mystery series and the upcoming Chloe Jackson Sea Glass Saloon mysteries. She is a past president of Sisters in Crime, and a member of the Chesapeake Chapter of Sisters in Crime, the New England Chapter of Sisters in Crime, Mystery Writers of America, and International Thriller Writers.

In her spare time, Sherry loves reading and is a patent-holding inventor. Sherry, her husband, and guard dog Lily are living in northern Virginia until they figure out where they want to move to next.
Woman running on beach at sunrise
Chloe runs on the beach each morning

Author Links

Taylor Family on Glass Bottom Boat at Silver Springs State Park 1
Glass Bottom Boat Tours (Chloe takes one)

My Thoughts

From Beer to Eternity by Sherry Harris has Chloe Jackson, a children’s librarian, visiting Emerald Cove, Florida for the funeral of her friend, Boone Slidell.  Chloe promised Boone that if something happened to him, she would help his grandmother.  The caveat is that she cannot tell Vivi, Boone’s grandmother, of his request.  Vivi is not what Chloe expected.  She is a stubborn, feisty, well-dressed woman in her seventies who has taken a dislike to Chloe.  In order to stay, Chloe told Vivi that her car broke down and she needs to earn money for the repairs.  Vivi reluctantly gave Chloe a job at her beach bar, the Sea Glass Saloon.  One morning, Chloe discovers Elwell Pugh, a bar regular, dead behind the bar’s dumpster.  Evidence points to Vivi as the killer.  Chloe begins asking questions to learn who else could have wanted Elwell dead.  The killer is not happy with Chloe’s nosy nature and sets out to eliminate her. 
Savvy travelers know that the best time to visit Destin, Florida occurs from November 1st through early March.
From Beer to Eternity is the debut of A Chloe Jackson, Sea Glass Saloon Mystery series.  I found From Beer to Eternity easy to read with steady pacing.  Chloe Jackson lives in Chicago, Illinois where she is a children’s librarian.  She has taken a leave of absence so she can keep her promise to Boone.  I like that the author took the time to establish Chloe’s character as well as Vivi, Joaquin Diaz, and Rhett Barnett.  I can tell Sherry Harris is familiar with the Florida panhandle from her descriptions of the town, bars, restaurants, and tourist attractions.  I liked the number and variety of attractions that Chloe visited.  I enjoyed the book references especially the Wizard of Oz and Gone with the Wind.  The mystery was thought out with multiple suspects.  Chloe begins asking questions around town and eavesdropping so she can clear Vivi off the suspect list. Of course, the killer is not happy with Chloe’s sleuthing.   I liked the unique murder weapon and the various nefarious activities.  I was disappointed that the resolution was not concrete.  I like the resolution to be based on fast instead of supposition.  I would have preferred fewer references to Rhett’s looks and Chloe’s hormonal reactions.  I enjoyed the humor scattered throughout the story.  This cozy mystery will have you longing for the beach where you can relax with a good book and a cool drink.  From Beer to Eternity is an engaging cozy mystery that will delight fans of Sherry Harris’ A Sarah Winston Garage Sale Mystery series.    From Beer to Eternity is a fun cozy mystery with stentorian snoring, the redneck riviera, flaming fires, deficient drinks, a horrid hat, and a bookish barmaid.  
Crab Island in Destin, Florida: What Locals Don’t Tell You - Littles, Life, & Laughter
Crab Island-a unique place to visit in Destin, Florida
From Beer to Eternity comes out on July 28.  From Beer to Eternity is available at AmazonBarnes & NobleKoboGoogle Books, and IndieBound.  The author is giving away five (5) ARCs of From Beer to Eternity.  To enter the giveaway, click here or enter via the Rafflecopter form below.  Good Luck!  Thank you for stopping by today.  Next time I am reviewing Tea & Treachery by Vicki Delany.  It is the debut of A Tea by the Sea Mystery series.  I hope that you sunny day.  Take care, stay safe, and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader

Tour Participants

July 27 – The Avid Reader – REVIEW

July 27 – Ruff Drafts – SPOTLIGHT

July 28 – Escape With Dollycas Into Good Book – REVIEW  

July 28 – The Pulp and Mystery Shelf – SPOTLIGHT

July 28 – Ascroft, eh? – CHARACTER INTERVIEW

July 29 – Brooke Blogs – CHARACTER GUEST POST

If you need me you know where to find me. #Ivorycoverentals #destinflorida #florida #travel #vacation #vacationrental
Chloe could have rented her jet ski here
July 30 – Literary Gold – SPOTLIGHT

July 30 – Moonlight Rendezvous – REVIEW, GUEST POST

July 31 - I'm All About Books – SPOTLIGHT

July 31 - Christy's Cozy Corners – REVIEW

August 1 - The Book Decoder – REVIEW  

August 1 - Baroness' Book Trove – REVIEW

August 2 – Cozy Up With Kathy - REVIEW, AUTHOR INTERVIEW

August 2 – eBook addicts – REVIEW
Destin Florida Food Trucks
Chloe and Rhett enjoy breakfast from a food truck
August 3 – Celticlady's Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

August 3 – Books a Plenty Book Reviews – REVIEW

August 4 – Mysteries with Character – AUTHOR INTERVIEW

August 4 – Elizabeth McKenna - Author – SPOTLIGHT

August 4 – Dee-Scoveries – SPOTLIGHT

August 5 – Melina's Book Blog – REVIEW

August 5 – Socrates Book Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

August 5 – Hearts & Scribbles – SPOTLIGHT
Summer reading by the sea. Painting of woman in a chair.
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