Thursday, December 31, 2015

On Thin Icing

Happy New Year's Eve!  It is the very last day of 2015.  It is also considered Unlucky Day!  Funny how it falls on the last day of the year!  Are going to a party tonight or staying in?  Do you watch the ball drop from Times Square?  I, personally, stay at home (I am sure none of you are surprised by this).  The animals get so scared by the fireworks.  I do watch the ball drop, though, in Times Square!

On Thin Icing by Ellie Alexander is the third book in A Bakeshop Mystery series.  Juliet “Jules” Capshaw has been back home in Ashland, Oregon for the last six months.  Jules found out that her husband, Carlos, of three years had been lying to her.  Jules met Carlos while working on a cruise ship.  Carlos was the head chef and Jules was the pastry chef.  After finding out about Carlos lies, Jules went home to Ashland has since been working with her mother, Helen at the family bakery called Torte.  Jules has an opportunity to cater a retreat for the executive board of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival (which is based in Ashland).  The retreat will be held at Lake of the Woods resort near Ashland.  Jules agree to the job and takes their employee, Sterling with her. 

The resort is beautiful, but the bartender, Tony is obnoxious (and the owner, Mercury is a wee bit flaky and unorganized).  Then the unexpected happens.  Jules husband, Carlos shows up (thanks to Jules mother).  Just what Jules does not need.  The next morning Jules is looking for some of their supplies when she finds Tony stuffed in a freezer.  They are snowed in at a remote cabin with a dead body and a killer (and Jules estranged husband).  This should be a real interesting weekend!  Will they be able to find the killer before someone else is killed?

On Thin Icing is an easy and quick read.  However, I felt it was not as good as the first two books in the series.  The book was thin on clues and the focus was not on the mystery (call me crazy but I feel the mystery should be the main focus of a cozy mystery).  There was too much emphasis on Jules attraction to Carlos (I got weary about hearing how attractive Carlos was, his sexy accent, and his excellent cooking).   Food descriptions to up a big portion of the book (the food sounded delicious, but did the writer have to describe every single thing the people cooked in the book).  I give On Thin Icing 3 out of 5 stars.  This book was missing the quirky townspeople and the bakery.  I also felt that the theme has been done too many times this year.  They are stuck in a remote place with a dead body and a murderer.  The plus side is the limited suspect pool.  The down side is the limited number of suspects (it is an oxymoron).  At the end of the book you will find the recipes for the dishes made in the story as well as a sneak peak of Caught Bread Handed (the next book in the series).

The first two books A Bakeshop Mystery series are Meet Your Baker and A Batter of Life and Death.  I received a complimentary copy of On Thin Icing from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

I am currently reading The Children's Home by Charles Lambert (it is awful).  I hope everyone has a great evening!  Make sure to stay safe and stay off the road if possible!  Have a wonderful New Year!

The Avid Reader

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Death Crashes the Party

It is National Bicarbonate of Soda Day!  Personally, I think this day should be January 1 when many people wake up with hangovers from over indulgence on New Year's Eve (that is when they will need bicarbonate of soda).  Baking soda does, though, have many other uses (besides baking).  People used to use baking soda for brushing their teeth (before toothpaste).  It is also a great cleaning agent.  You check out all the uses on  

Death Crashes the Party by Vickie Fee is the first book in A Liv and Di in Dixie Mystery series.  Olivia “Liv” McKay owns and runs Liv 4 Fun, a party planning business in Dixie, Tennessee.  Liv is married to Larry Joe McKay who runs McKay Trucking with his father.  Her best friend (and partner in crime) is Diana “Di” Souther.  Di is the postal carrier for the town.   Liv is busy planning an anniversary party for the Erdman’s who want conflicting themes.  Liv ends up coming up with Moonshine and Magnolias (the husband wants redneck and the wife wants classy).  While checking the freezer in the Erdman’s garage to see if it will hold the ice sculpture (Mrs. Erdman’s request), Liv finds a dead body.  She jumps back, trips over a green trash can, knocks it over and finds another body.  They turn out to be Duane and Darrell Farrell.  They worked at McKay Trucking.  Determined to clear McKay Trucking and the McKay name (since her husband and father-in-law are the prime suspects), Liv (with the help of Di) sets out to find the killer.  Their methods are not very ethical (actually they are against the law), but they feel the results are worth it.  Can Liv solve the murders and plan a party at the same time?  Will Di and Liv be able to stay out of jail?

I found Death Crashes the Party to be an easy and light read (can be read in a couple of hours) and it had a nice flow.  The mystery was pleasing (there were some twists thrown in), but it was figuring out the killer that was a cinch.  I found Death Crashes the Party to be a little superficial.  It was lacking depth (and details).  We did not get a lot of information on the characters (seems to be a theme lately).  I also wish the murder had not happened right at the beginning.  It needed a little more lead in before the crime (it makes for a long book).  There is too much foul language in the book (especially for a cozy mystery).  I do not think the foul language was needed.  I give Death Crashes the Party 3 out of 5 stars.  An interesting start to a new series.  I will read the next book in the series to see if it improves.

I received a complimentary copy of Death Crashes the Party from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

I am currently reading Friends and Enemies:  A World War II Romance by Terri Wangard.  I hope all of you have a wonderful evening.  Make sure to take time to relax and do something for yourself!  Take care and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Thread and Gone

Happy Pepper Pot Day!  Pepper Pot (aka Philadelphia Pepper Pot) is a soup that was created for the continental army on this day in 1777.  It was a cold winter at Valley Forge and the chef created this spicy soup to help warm the troops.  The soup originally contained scraps of tripe (you do not want to know what it is--trust me), meat, vegetables (if they had any), pepper corns, and whatever else was on hand.  This soup is available at your local grocer in a can!  Check the soup aisle.  

Thread and Gone by Lea Wait is the third book the Mainely Needlepoint series.  Mary Clough has found a beautiful old needlepoint piece in a leather case while cleaning out her family’s attic (to get the house ready to sell).  Mary (eighteen) and her fiancĂ©, Rob has brought it to Angie Curtis and the Mainely Needlepoint group to have it appraised.   They all agree to let local attorney, Lenore Pendleton hold the piece in her safe while it is being researched.  The piece looks quite old and is in the style of Mary, Queen of Scots.  Unfortunately, Lenore is murdered and her safe is cleaned out (it contained jewelry as well as Mary Clough’s needlepoint piece).  Who knew about the needlepoint and why did they steal it?  Angie is trying to adjust to living alone.  Her grandmother, Charlotte is on her honeymoon with Reverend Tom.  Angie is very happy for her Gram, but she misses her companionship.  Angie is keeping herself busy looking for Mary’s missing needlepoint.

I found Thread and Gone to be very predictable.  I kept hoping for a great twist at the end (I thought of a great alternate killer), but I was disappointed.  I just wish the culprit had not been so obvious.  Thread and Gone is easy to read and picks up where the last book ended.  I missed the interactions with Angie's grandmother, Charlotte and the rest of the group.  I did like the history of Mary, Queen of Scots and Marie Antoinette (and their needlework).  I give Thread and Gone 3 out of 5 stars.  I just thought Thread and Gone was lacking.  It was not as enjoyable as the first two books in the series.  It also had a different feel.  Alcohol seemed to be a big feature in Thread and Gone.  They seemed to be consuming alcohol all the time.  Beer and wine were mentioned so frequently (it was just odd and unnecessary).  There is also a lot of internal dialogue with Angie thinking about the case (and other things) instead of interacting with other people.  I hope the next book in the Mainely Needlepoint series Dangling by a Thread (which will be out in November of 2016) will be better (like the first two books in the series).  Thread and Gone can be read without having enjoyed the first two books in the series. 

Twisted Threads and Threads of Evidence of the first two books in the Mainely Needlepoint series.  I received a complimentary copy of Thread and Gone from NetGalley and Kensington in exchange for an honest review.

I am currently reading Mail Order Marriage by various authors.  Thank you for visiting my blog and reading my review.  I really do appreciate all of you!  Have a wonderful Tuesday!  Take care and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader

Here is a glimpse of the tree in my bedroom.  I put it in a big crock this year.  It contains Raggedy Ann and Andy ornaments and country ornaments (bought them at a great store years ago).  The tree has a bird house in the middle of it.  I found it over ten years ago and it was the only one they had.  I just love it.  

Monday, December 28, 2015

The 12 Brides of Christmas

It is Card Playing Day!  With the children out of school, here is a chance to teach them some card games.  I am sure the adults can think of some fun card games to play as well (without children)! The year is coming to end.  2015 went by so quickly.  I really, really hope 2016 will be a better year for our family.  What are you looking forward to in 2016?  Any resolutions for the New Year?

The 12 Brides of Christmas (various authors) is a delightful collection of twelve, historical Christian stories written by well-known Christian authors.  All of them take place in the late 1800s and revolve around Christmas (and Christmas items like the tree, star, advent, nutcrackers).  Each story is set in a different place (Lone Tree, Kansas, Oregon Trail in Wyoming).   I enjoyed these heartwarming Christmas stories.  They are well-written and easy to read.  Once you start reading them you will not want to stop.  They are not preachy or overly religious.  They all just have a nice, light Christian tone (so they can be read by younger readers as well).  I give The 12 Brides of Christmas 4 out of 5 stars.  I will be looking for more works by the authors in this book.  If you enjoy reading historical romance books, then you will like this collection.

Some of the authors in The 12 Brides of Christmas are Diana Lesire Brandmeyer, Amy Lillard, Margaret Brownley, Pam Hillman, Amanda Cabot, and Mary Connealy.  Each of the stories in this collection can be purchased separately (but you get a better deal by purchasing them all together in one book).  I received a complimentary copy of The 12 Brides of Christmas from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

I am currently reading When Love Returns by Kim Vogel Sawyer (it is wonderful).  I am off to cook dinner and then relax.  I am taking it easy after all the bustle of getting ready for Christmas. 

The Avid Reader

Here is a picture of our big Christmas tree.  I had my daughter forward me a picture from her phone (ignore the mess from our presents).  This room is our new study (a work in progress).  It was formerly my bedroom  and you can see parts of my Raggedy Ann collection.

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Rising Darkness

It is National Fruitcake Day!  I associate fruitcake with the rock hard item that no one wants to receive as a gift nor to eat.   I recently watched a baking show where they made some delicious looking fruitcakes and breads.  I think a baker just needs to find the right recipe and they will be able to convert their audience (and put a stop to the fruitcake jokes).

Rising Darkness by Nancy Mehl is the third and final book in the Finding Sanctuary trilogy.  Sophie Bauer (formerly Wittenbauer) used to be a conservative Mennonite living in Kingdom, Kansas.  An incident forced her to leave and seek a new life.  Sophie works at the St. Louis Times doing the obituaries and occasional restaurant review.  Sophie wants to be a crime reporter and is working towards getting a college degree.  One day Sophie comes across a letter from Tom Ford (Sophie knew him in Kingdom) who is in prison in El Dorado, Kansas.  Tom claims a wanted criminal by the name of Terrence Chase is hiding out in Sanctuary, Missouri (of course, Tom wants something in exchange for giving Sophie this information).  Sophie sees this as her chance to write a big story (and gain recognition) if she can find Chase.  Sophie goes to Sanctuary (a very private town) under an assumed name and with a made up story to explain her presence in town (and so she can gain access to Church records).  Sophie will have to face her past in Sanctuary (which was originally an all Mennonite town but is now mixed) especially when she comes face to face with Jonathan Wiese.  Jonathan is a pastor at Agape Fellowship Church in Sanctuary and the only man Sophie ever loved (secretly as a teenager).  Will Sophie be able to find Terrence Chase (without getting herself killed) and write her story?  Can Sophie resolve her past issues?  You will have to read Rising Darkness to find out.

I found Rising Darkness to be a predictable novel (the mystery and the romance).  I was hoping for a twist to make it more interesting (I would have been happy with anything that would have made the novel more interesting).  While Rising Darkness is a part of a series, it can be read as a stand-alone story.  I give Rising Darkness 3 out of 5 stars.  The writing is satisfactory, but not remarkable (I was not pulled into the story).  I found parts of the novel to be very slow paced (and a little boring).  It actually took me three different tries to get through Rising Darkness (I just never got into the story).  The Christian theme is not mild in this book.  There are many discussions about religion and theology throughout the book.  The book ends without everything being resolved (which is frustrating).  I did like Sophie’s growth during the book and how she is finally able to overcome her troubled and difficult youth. 

The first two books in the Finding Sanctuary trilogy are Gathering Shadows and Deadly Echoes.   You can find more information on Nancy Mehl and her books at  I received a complimentary copy of Rising Darkness from NetGalley and The Book Club Network Inc. in exchange for an honest review.

I am currently reading Stars Over Sunset Boulevard by Susan Meissner.   I hope everyone has a nice and enjoyable Sunday.  I am watching the Downton Abbey marathon before the final season starts next week.  Take care and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Shattered Lies

In the United Kingdom (and other British owned countries) it is Boxing Day!  Boxing Day is the day after Christmas when servants (called staff today) and tradespeople (an example would be how we tip the postal carrier and newspaper delivery person) receive gifts from their employers and customers. Back when the big houses had servants, the employers would give each employee a new uniform.  

I just finished reading the book Shattered Lies by S.J. Francis.  Katherine “Kate” Thayer is thirty years old, a veterinarian, and runs her grandmother’s farm, Magnolia Lane Farm in Thayerville, Mississippi.  Kate was raised by her grandmother, Katherine after her parents passed away when she was a baby.  Kate does not know much about her mother or her family.  One day Kate goes into the attic and finds a journal written by her mother.  This prompts her to start asking questions.  Kate is going to uncover secrets that people have kept hidden her whole life.  Everything is going to change.  Secrets always have a way of coming out into the open (especially the ones you do not want to be known). 

Shattered Lies sounded like such a good novel (it really sounded interesting/intriguing).  Unfortunately, I was disappointed.  This is a novel about secrets, hatred, and bigotry.  I started getting a little into the novel toward the end, but it was hard to read (the writing style).  There tends to be a lot of internal dialogue with the characters going on about whether they should or should not have kept the secrets and what should they do now (I think this makes up more than half the novel).  The majority of the characters are really not likable (mostly because of their bigoted attitudes).  All of the women seems to be strong, determined, and stubborn (there is nothing wrong with this).  It is their way or the highway (you cannot always have your way in this world).  I am amazed that no one was murdered in the novel (or severely injured).  Several times I wanted to walk away from this book, but I persevered and finished it.  There is a nice lesson about forgiveness and the ending is left so there can be a sequel (I will not be reading it).  I give Shattered Lies 2.75 out of 5 stars. 

Now while I did not enjoy this book, other readers did.  If you have an e-reader (like Kindle, Nook, Kobo), get a free sample and check it out for yourself.  I received a complimentary copy of Shattered Lies from NetGalley and Reading Alley in exchange for an honest review.

I am joining the 2016 EBook Reading Challenge.  There are different levels that will suit every reader.  The levels are:

1.  Bits                           5 ebooks
2.  Bytes                      10 ebooks
3.  Megabytes              25 ebooks
4.  Gigabytes               50 ebooks
5.  Terabytes               75 ebooks
6.  Empty the Cloud  100 ebooks

You can read any genre and any length of book as long as it is an ebook (my preferred format).  Here is the link to the challenge if you wish to sign up.  I suggest that you set up a special list (shelf) for yourself on Goodreads.  I have a shelf for 2016 and then you can have a separate shelf for ebooks (it really helps to keep track of the books if you wish to).

I am currently reading The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend by Katarina Bivald.  What are you reading?  I hope everyone is enjoying their holiday!  Take care and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader

Friday, December 25, 2015

Chocolat Chaud Murder and Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas!  I hope all of you are having a wonderful holiday!   I actually got everything done!  The presents were wrapped (in gift bags--that is as good as it is getting this year), stockings filled, cookies baked (and some even had icing on them), and trees finished.  I did not get lights outside the house, but I considered it a bonus (and was not likely to happen this year)!  It was a difficult day without my father (our first Christmas without him).  There were some goods moments though. I actually started my shopping early so my father had a hand in picking out some of the gifts.  It made them extra special!  

Chocolat Chaud Murder by Harper Lin is the ninth book in A Patisserie Mystery series.  Clemence Damour is looking for the perfect wedding dress in Paris, France for her wedding to Arthur Duboil.  Clemence is trying on dresses at La Belle which is co-owned by Adine (who designs the dresses) and Jennifer Moss.  Clemence may have found the perfect dress, but a scream rings out.  Perrie, Adine’s assistant, found the body of Adine in her apartment.  Inspector Cyril St. Clair is the head inspector and warns Clemence to stay out of the investigation.  Of course, Clemence has no intention of listening to him.  Clemence sets out to find the killer.  She is determined to solve the crime.  Will Clemence be able to figure out who killed Adine?

Chocolat Chaud Murder is the first book I have read in A Patisserie Mystery series.  It is a short book (really it is too short) and easy to read.  I found it lacking though.  It seemed a little superficial.  We are not given much information on any of the characters (last names seemed to be lacking).  There were also no clues.  I like to follow the clues to solve the mystery.  We are given a clue just before the killer is revealed.  I had already figured it out (it was very simple), but I like the investigation and the bread crumbs that lead us the murderer.  I felt that the crime happened to early in the book.  I wish authors would not have someone killed in the first chapter.  The book does have a good flow which makes it easy to read and enjoy.  I give Chocolat Chaud Murder 3 out of 5 stars.  I do recommend if you read you start at the beginning of the series.  I think it would be beneficial (and helpful to understand the main characters).

Chocolat Chaud Murder is currently available for (a limited time) $.99 on Amazon. I received a complimentary copy of Chocolat Chaud Murder from the author in exchange for an honest review.  

Have a lovely (and hopefully relaxing) Christmas evening! I hope you got everything you wished for this holiday! I am currently reading Calico Spy by Margaret Brownley (cute book).  Take care and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader

Thursday, December 24, 2015

The Lady Who Lived Again

Happy Christmas Eve!  The last day before Christmas!  You either have it done or it is not getting done (which is my current philosophy)!  Though I did get the tree done last night.  I also got the lights on my mother's tree.  I am now baking cookies and am getting the gifts in their gift bags (I am not a wrapper).  I was tickled when my mother's last gift showed up in the mail today!  I did not think it would make it in time.

The Lady Who Lived Again by Thomasine Rappold is A Solve Survivor Novel.  Madeleine Sutter is twenty-four years old and lives in Misty Lake, New York with her grandfather.  She is the sole survivor of an accident that claimed her friend’s lives three years previously.  The town doctor declared her dead (I personally think she was in a coma) and then Maddie woke up the next day.  Now no one in the town will associate with her (they are a superstitious lot).  Maddie did wake up with one little benefit—she has the ability to heal (which she keeps a secret).  Her grandfather tried to convince her to move away, but Maddie will not leave him (he is ill).  Maddie was engaged to Daniel Hogle, but he broke up with her after the accident (the jerk).  Daniel has now returned to town with a new fiancĂ©.  Maddie’s old friend, Amelia Strope is coming back to town to get married.  Amelia wants Maddie to be a part of the bridal party.  Maddie is hoping this will be a chance to show the town that she is the same person that she was before the accident.

Dr. Jace Merrick is the new doctor in town.  He is taking over the practice of Dr. Benjamin Filmore (the doctor who declared Maddie dead).  Jace would like to study Maddie’s case.  He does not believe the superstitious nonsense that the townspeople have been spouting.  They come to a mutual agreement.  Jace will pretend to be engaged to Maddie and escort her the festivities leading up to the wedding as well as the wedding.  Maddie will share information from her accident and recovery with Jace as well as help him with his practice (she is a good assistant and a good organizer).  But Maddie cannot help but use her special powers to help those who are ill.  Can this ruin the budding relationship between Maddie and Jace?  Can Jace ever accept Maddie’s special abilities?  Will the town ever accept Maddie?

The Lady Who Lived Again was a very interesting novel.  It is an historical novel with a paranormal element (which is the best part).  I just wish the paranormal element had been played up a little more.  It took a back seat to the romance in the novel.  The Lady Who Lived Again is easy to read.  My interest was captured right away.  The setting sounded beautiful, and I liked the main characters (especially Maddie’s grandfather) for the most part.  Jace’s attitude grated on my nerves sometimes (especially when he would dismiss Maddie’s ideas).  The Lady Who Lived Again is a good novel to read on a quiet evening.  I give The Lady Who Lived Again 4 out of 5 stars.  It is well-written and engaging.  A good first book in a new series.  I just wish the paranormal element had been more prominent (maybe it will be in the next book).  That is what drew me to the book.  Overall, a very enjoyable book and I will be reading the next book in the series.

The next novel is The Lady Who Saw Too Much.  It will be out in June 2016.  I received a complimentary copy of The Lady Who Lived Again from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.  

I am currently reading At Love's Bidding by Regina Jennings.  I hope all of you have a wonderful Christmas!  Enjoy the holidays! Take care and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

The Fountain

Happy Roots Day!  It is a day to celebrate your heritage!  Have you ever looked into your genealogy? Where did your family originally came from? Are they from Italy, Ireland, Germany?  That is what today is all about. As people are heading home for the holidays, you can think about your roots/history.  A good resource would be a family Bible.  I have access to the Bible from both sides of my family.  It has the records of births, deaths, and marriages.  You will be glad to have this information on hand for when your children ask you about their family heritage (especially when they are given it as a school assignment).  

The Fountain by Suzy Vadori is a young adult novel.  Ava Marshall has looked forward to going to St. Augustus (for high school).  St. Augustus is her parent’s alma mater and it is near her grandmother’s home.  Ava is hoping to learn more about her mother (who is deceased and no one will speak about).  She gets the perfect opportunity when her father has to overseas for a year for work.  Unfortunately, it seems that Courtney Wallis has taken a dislike to Ava.  Courtney is on the swim team, comes from a rich family, and is the popular girls.  Courtney starts out by giving Ava the wrong time for swim practice making her late.  Ava is hoping to join the swim team.  Courtney then changes the lock on Ava’s locker leaving her without clothes and then plants drugs in the locker.  Ava is sent her grandmother’s home for the weekend to await her fate (she could be expelled her very first week).  Ava takes the path through the woods to her grandmother’s home and comes across a beautiful fountain.  Ava’s mother loved fountains and wishing wells (she taught her daughter to believe).  Ava makes a very expected wish (we would all do the same in her shoes).  The next day Ava wakes up and her wish has come through.  Unfortunately, her wish had some unforeseen consequences.  Ava decides to find the fountain (which has disappeared) and change her wish.  Will Ava be able to change her wish?  You really have to be careful or you will get what you wish for!

The Fountain was a fun book to read.  It is a fast paced with minimum teenage angst moments.  There is no sex in the book (which is unusual for this type of book), but it did not need it.  There is a good lesson or moral to the story.  I liked how Ava changed throughout the course of the book and it was interesting to follow her adventure.  I give The Fountain 4.25 out of 5 stars (I got a little frustrated with Ava a few times).  Overall, The Fountain is a very enjoyable book that can be read by readers from 10 to 100! 

I received a complimentary copy of The Fountain in exchange for an honest review.

I am currently reading Undaunted Hope by Jody Hedlund (it is very good).  I hope you are having a wonderful holiday!  Tomorrow is Christmas Eve!  I hope all of you have a special Christmas!  Please stay safe if you are traveling. Take care and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Paint the Town Dead

It is National Date Nut Bread Day!  It has some sugar in it to make it a little sweet (but not too sweet).  There are many different recipes available online if you would like to try and make it.  You can also substitute the dates (if you do not like them).  I am making progress on our tree (I even got my mother to help)!  The last of the Christmas cards are going out (I am running so far behind this year).  Are you ready?  I bet we will all be ready for a break come December 26!

Paint the Town Dead by Sybil Johnson is the second book in An Aurora Anderson Mystery series.  Aurora “Rory” Anderson lives in Vista Beach, California.  Rory designs websites and apps.  She recently did work for the new hotel in town called Akaw.  Unfortunately, some people in town are not happy with the new hotel, and they are taking drastic actions.  One of those actions is a brick through Rory’s front window.  Similar incidents happened to council members of Vista Beach.  Rory is hoping to put the incident behind her as she gets ready for The Ocean Painting Society’s inaugural convention.  Rory enjoys toll painting and her mother, Arika Anderson will have a booth at the convention.  Her mother owns Arika’s Scrap ‘n Paint.  Rory is looking forward to the convention.  There are classes, shopping (of course), and connecting with other painters.

Rory is happy to see her childhood friend, Jasmine Halliday is at the convention.  Jasmine is doing the bookkeeping for the convention manager, Nixie Mohr (I bet she got picked on in school).  Jasmine suffers from narcolepsy and has a cataplectic attack after greeting Rory in the hotel lobby (it is not Rory’s fault).  She soon recovers and they go on to enjoy the convention.  However, while taking a class, Jasmine collapses.  This time she does not recover.  The police are willing to write it off an accident, but Rory is not so sure.  Rory decides to investigate and find out what happened to her friend.  If Jasmine was murdered, who would want to harm her? 

Paint the Town Dead had interesting characters, was easy to read, and contained a good mystery.  The author did a great job with the mystery (and with misdirection).  Paint the TownDead is a light, fun cozy mystery.  I read Paint the Town Dead without having enjoyed the first book in the series.  I think it would have been helpful if I had read the first book.  It would have given me a better understanding of the characters (background information), relationships, and the first case (it is referenced in this book).  One thing I did not like was Rory’s obsession with Detective Martin Green.  It was a little over the top for a person who had one date and then never went out again (it was just strange).  I give Paint the Town Dead 4 out of 5 stars.  I am going to go back and read the first book in the series as soon as I get an opportunity (and look forward to reading the next book in the series). 

The first book in the Aurora Anderson Mystery series is Fatal Brushstroke (which is currently $.99).  I received a complimentary copy of Paint the Town Dead from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

I hope everyone is having a wonderful holiday season.  Christmas is almost here!  I could use a few more days to get ready!  There are cookies to bake (the others are all gone), presents to wrap (or stuff in gift bags), and trees to finish!  No wonder I have a migraine!  Have a great evening and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader

Monday, December 21, 2015

An Amish Year

Happy Humbug Day!  Are you frustrated?  Tired of all the hard work to get ready for the holidays?  Today is the day to vent!  Get it all out and then put on a smile again tomorrow!  I have been frustrated with my big tree, but I am finally done with the lights!  Hooray!  I did not think I would ever get it done.  I will share pictures soon!  Now I get to do the fun part which is putting the ornaments on the tree.  

An Amish Year by Beth Wiseman contains four novellas.  The four stories are Rooted in Love, A Love for Irma Rose, Patchwork Perfect (my favorite), and When Christmas Comes Again.  In Rooted in Love Rosemary Lantz and Saul Petersheim dated when they were teenagers.  Then Rosemary unexpectedly broke up with Saul and refused to give a good reason.  Rosemary is hiding a secret.  Saul still loves Rosemary and wants to spend his life with her.  Can Saul break through Rosemary defenses (and bitterness) so they have a life together?  What is Rosemary’s secret?

The second story is A Love for Irma Rose is set in 1957.  Irma Rose Kauffman likes adventure. She is a spirited girl.  Jonas Miller knew Irma Rose was the girl for him as soon as he met her. He has waited two years to court her.  Jonas, though, likes fast things and tends to make the wrong choices (gets into trouble).  Can Jonas convince Irma Rose to give him a chance?  Will Irma Rose pick the safe path or pick Jonas (one adventure after another their whole life)?

Patchwork Perfect was my favorite story in the novel (I wish it had been longer).  Eli Byler has just moved with his two children (Grace and Ben) to Paradise, Pennsylvania in Lancaster County.  He felt they needed a change after his wife passed away in a buggy accident.  Eli is looking for a new wife and mother for his children.  He is introduced to the two widows in the community.  However, Eli is attracted to Miriam Fisher.  Miriam is unusual for an Amish woman.  She is eccentric, plays baseball with boys on Saturdays, and she does not cook nor garden.  Miriam does, though, have a big heart. She looks out for the children in the community and makes beautiful story quilts.  While Miriam may seem the wrong choice for a wife, she may be the right choice for Eli and his family.  But Miriam does not wish to marry.  Can Eli change her mind?

When Christmas Comes Again is set in Paradise, Pennsylvania.  Katherine Zook lost her husband in an accident.  Katherine has four children:  Mary Carol, Stephen, Linda, and Gideon.  They are all having a difficult time coping and Katherine knows that Christmas will not be easy for any of them.   Katherine discovers a stranger following her. He has pictures of her late husband.  This stranger may be the answer to their prayers as he helps each of them heal during the special time of year.

An Amish Year is a great novel to read at this time of year (or any time).  All of the stories have good characters, beautiful settings, and lovely messages.  They book will fill your heart with warmth.  They writing is very good (as always).  Beth Wiseman manages to bring her characters to life.  They feel like real people that you want to meet.  I give An Amish Year 5 out of 5 stars.

Each of the books in this novel can be purchased separately if you do not want to read all of them.  You can also follow Beth Wiseman on Amazon to get updates on her latest releases.  I received a complimentary copy of An Amish Year from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Thank you for stopping by and checking out my review.  I am off to put ornaments on the tree.  I hope all of you have a nice, relaxing evening! Take care and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader

Sunday, December 20, 2015

A Sentimental Journey Romance Collection

Happy Go Caroling Day!  Do you have a group that goes around in your community and sings Christmas carols?  I think it is wonderful that people/organizations will go to local nursing homes and hospitals. Since I am losing my voice (because of the cold), I will play carols instead. What is your favorite Christmas carol?  My favorites are Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree and I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus.  

Sentimental Journey Romance Collection is a novel containing nine historical romance stories set during the 1940s.  They are nice, heartwarming Christian stories.  The stories are all set from 1940 through 1945.  We get to experience life during the war from people in Europe and in the United States.  The stories contain civilians, soldiers, nurses, a spy, and auxiliary staff (like drivers of ambulances).  I enjoyed all the stories in the book.  Some were definitely better than others, but they are all good.  My favorites were the four stories that tied together in the middle of the book.   A Living Doll, Filled with Joy, A Thread of Trust, and A Stitch of Faith are the four that tie together.  I give Sentimental Journey Romance Collection 4 out of 5 stars.  The books are all nicely written, good characters and settings, and I really liked the time period.  If you like Christian, historical romances, you will enjoy this collection.

I received a complimentary copy of Sentimental Journey Romance Collection from NetGalley (and the publisher) in exchange for an honest review.

I am currently reading Cat-astrophic Spells by Harper Lin.  I hope you have a very jolly Sunday!  Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Huckleberry Hearts

Happy Look for an Evergreen Day!  If you have not purchases your tree, this is a good day to go shopping!  I love the smell of fresh trees, but I can only smell them for a short time (then my allergies kick in).  I have noticed this year a distinct lack of tree sellers in our area.  Normally, there are trees for sale outside every store or in a tent in their parking lot.  Not this year!  Is there a shortage of trees that I am not aware of?  I know I am not buying a tree, I just thought it was unusual (and I am curious).  Do you like an artificial tree or a real one?  We are going to need a new tree for next year.  I am going to get a pre-lit tree (I am still working on our lights)!

Huckleberry Hearts by Jennifer Beckstrand is the sixth book in The Matchmakers of Huckleberry Hill series.  Anna and Felty Helmuth are up to their normal hijinks.  Anna wants to set up her granddaughter, Cassie Coblenz.  Anna has decided that Dr. Zach Reynolds is the perfect match.  So Anna is having a black spot on her foot operated on (it turned out to be melanoma).  Anna even knitted the doctor a scarf, beanie, and mittens as incentive (she does not make everyone mittens because they take longer to knit).  Cassie is going to stay at Huckleberry Hill and help out while Anna recovers from her surgery (she has to stay off her feet).  This will give Anna extra time to knit (and keep her out of the kitchen). 

Cassie decided not to be baptized in the Amish faith.  She has just graduated from the University of Chicago with a BA in Art History.  Cassie is going to use the time at her grandparents to study for the GRE test (she wants to go to graduate school).  Cassie’s mother is not happy with Cassie’s choice and neither is Cassie’s brother, Norman.  They use every opportunity to tell her of their displeasure (they are bullies).  Dr. Reynolds also attended the University of Chicago.  He does not remember Cassie, but Cassie remembers him.  This does not bode well for Anna’s matchmaking scheme especially since Cassie has severe trust issues.  Zach has faith issues since the death of his father.  But being around Cassie, Anna, and Felty will change Zach (hopefully).  Will Zach be able to woo Cassie?  Can they overcome their issues and have a future together?  Anna and Felty have such a good track record.  You will have to read Huckleberry Hearts to see if Anna and Felty make another successful match.

Huckleberry Hearts was my least favorite of the six books in the series.  I found Cassie’s mother and brother very offense (and Cassie refuses to fight back or stand up for herself).  Cassie just let herself be a doormat (very unattractive quality).  This book is also the most religious out of all the books (a lot of scripture and theology).  The writing is good (as always).  Huckleberry Hearts is a light, airy, and easy to read novel for the most part.  The ending is so sweet.  Anna and Felty are such a loving, warm couple.  They are why I read the books.  While this book is a part of series, you can read it alone (though you will want to read all of them). I give Huckleberry Hearts 4 out of 5 stars.  I cannot wait for the next book in this series (though, according to the author, we will have a wait) to see what Anna and Felty are up to next (Anna is going to learn to crochet).

The other books in The Matchmakers of Huckleberry Hill series are Huckleberry Hill, Huckleberry Summer, Huckleberry ChristmasHuckleberry Spring, and Huckleberry Harvest (notice a theme).  I received a complimentary copy of Huckleberry Hearts from NetGalley and Kensington Books in exchange for an honest review.

I am currently reading Death Crashes the Party by Vickie Fee.  It is the first book in a new cozy mystery series and comes out on December 29 (I am ahead of schedule)!  I am now going to feed my children (cats and dogs) and then go back to bed.  I woke up with the flu today.  We got a little bit of cold weather and I get sick! Unfortunately, it happens to me quite frequently (because of my asthma, allergies, and weakened immune system).  I just do not want my mother to get it.  I hope everyone has a very special day! Take care (avoid the flu) and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader

Friday, December 18, 2015

The Seafront Tearoom

Happy Bake Cookies Day!  If you need to bake some cookies for the holidays, today is the day to do it!  I still need to make some iced sugar cookies and the children (my dogs) would love some more peanut butter cookies!  Do you make treats for your animals?  Liz Mugavero's A Pawsitively Organic Mystery series has great pet recipes at the end of every book.  

The Seafront Tearoom by Vanessa Greene is a British novel about friendship.  The Seafront Tearoom is owned by Letty.  It has been in her family for over a hundred years.  It is a local gathering spot in Scarborough and the people that know about it like to keep it quiet (and so does the owner).  Kat Murray is twenty-six and lives nearby with her son, Leo.  She was living with Jake but they are better off apart.  Jake is now trying to set up a new business in Scotland.  Kat is having trouble making ends meet and is looking for a job.  Seraphine Moreau is twenty-three and just got her teaching certification.  She wants to teach English to teens in France.  She has decided to visit England to improve her conversational English.  She will be staying with Adam and acting as his au pair.  Seraphine has a secret that she has not told anyone and she is not sure she will be able to share it.  Charlotte “Charlie” Harrison is a writer and features editor with Indulge magazine.  She has decided to write an article (actually a spread) on tearooms.  She will visit her sister and her new baby while she is in the area.   

These three women meet and The Seafront Tearoom.  Charlie wants to feature the tea shop in her article, but Kat asks her to reconsider.  Kat and Seraphine offer to help Charlie with her article by finding other tea shops for her to write about.  The three set out on their adventure indulging in tea, sandwiches, and sweet treats.  They will become fast friends who can discuss anything with each other.  They help each other discover what they want out of life professionally and personally as well as help each other out during the good and bad times.

I give The Seafront Tearoom 3.75 out of 5 stars.  The Seafront Tearoom has romance, friendship, break ups, secrets, and more.  There are a lot of descriptions of British desserts with unusual names (it is interesting how different countries call the same item different names) and enough tea to fill a giant lake.  The books pace slowed down in the second half, and I felt the story could have ended much sooner (went on too long).  There was a nice twist that I liked and a lovely ending (these types of books always have a good ending).  If you are looking for a light, fluffy book to read, then you will enjoy The Seafront Tearoom.  If you are looking for a novel with depth, then skip it. Now and then I enjoy a nice, light book to read.

Another book by Vanessa Greene is The Vintage Teacup Club.  I received a complimentary copy of The Seafront Tearoom from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

I am currently reading e-Murderer by Joan C. Curtis.  Are you ready for the holidays?  Presents bought and wrapped, tree decorated, and the stocking hung?  I have to admit that I do not have the main tree finished nor are my presents wrapped.  It is hard getting in the Christmas spirit this year (I miss my father).  Good luck with your holiday preparations!  Make sure to take time out for yourself (to de-stress).  Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Whistling Women

Do you enjoy maple syrup on your waffles, french toast, or pancackes (or mush if you live in the South)?  Then today is the day for you!  It is National Maple Syrup Day!  You would think this day would be celebrated later in the winter when the sap starts to run in the maple trees.  It is an interesting process on how the maple trees are tapped and the sap collected.  You would be amazed at how much sap you need to make just a little bit of maple syrup.  If you get an opportunity to observe the process, you should take advantage of it. 

Whistling Women by Kelly Romo is an historical novel.  It is May of 1935.  Addie Bates is thirty-two years old and lives in Sleepy Valley in northern California.  Sleepy Valley is a nudist colony.  The people who live in Sleepy Valley are getting ready to travel to the world’s fair in San Diego.  Addie has not returned to San Diego since she left after an incident.  Addie does not want to go, but if she does not go she will be made to leave Sleepy Valley.  Addie’s sister Wavey Rose Briggs Donnelly lives with her two daughters in San Diego.  This could be a chance to make amends to her sister (for what happened fifteen years ago) and get to know her nieces, Mary and Rumor.  Will her sister give her a chance?  Rumor Donnelly is excited to find out about Addie.  She wants to get to know her aunt and mother back together.  Will a family reunion be in store for the family or will the past get in their way?

The story goes between what is happening in the present and goes back to 1917.  Addie was in orphan asylum when her sister, Wavey and her new husband, Tyrone Fulton Briggs ask Addie to come live with them.  Wavey is expecting her first child and Addie will provide needed help.  Addie believes it is a dream come true.  What happens that causes Addie to run away and have no contact with her sister for fifteen years?  Secrets have a way of coming out eventually.

Whistling Women is a very slow paced novel (it took quite a while before it gets to the secrets and incident).  It sounded like such a good book, but I did not enjoy reading it (I could not wait for this novel to end).  I found the majority of the characters to be lack luster.  The only one with spunk and life was Rumor, the niece (but she did become annoying after a while).  Whistling Women is a predicable novel (you know what is going to happen before you read it).  The writing is just satisfactory.  I give Whistling Women 2 out of 5 stars.  If you need a book to put you to sleep, then read Whistling Women (is that too harsh).

Whistling Women is available on Kindle Unlimited ($9.99 a month and you can get a 30 day free trial).  I received a complimentary copy of Whistling Women from NetGalley (and the publisher) in exchange for an honest review. 

Thank you for stopping by and checking out my latest review.  I am currently reading Murder Most Malicious by Alyssa Maxwell.  I hope everyone has a nice, relaxing Thursday evening.  Take care and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader