Saturday, April 30, 2016

Tumbledown Manor

Happy National Honesty Day!  You celebrate this day by being completely open and honest (you are not even allowed white lies). Can you be completely honest for one day?  Here are some historical events that took place on April 30 in history.   The United States made the Louisiana Purchase (remember this from history class) for $15 million dollars in 1803.   George Washington takes the oath of office to become the first elected President of the United States in 1789. He took the oath on Wall Street in New York City. Douglas Fairbanks and Mary Pickford become the first celebrities to leave their footprints in concrete at Grauman's Chinese Theater in 1927.

Tumbledown Manor is a new novel by Helen Brown.  Lisa Trumperton Katz, a writer, has been married to Jake for twenty-three years.  Lisa believes she has a good life (and a happy husband) until she opens the card attached to her birthday flowers and finds out that they are for his mistress.  Lisa asks Jake for a divorce and decides to head back to her birthplace of Australia.  Lisa stays with her sister, Maxine (a real pain in the tuchis) and her husband, Gordon.  Lisa, thanks to her divorce settlement and her income from writing (she is currently doing a three book series based on the Bronte sisters), can afford a place of her own.  Her sister encourages her to purchase a new townhome.  But once Lisa discovers their family home Trumperton Manor (Tumbledown Manor to the locals) is for sale (and in horrible condition), her decision is made.  It will need quite a bit of work, but that does not alter Lisa’s decision.  Her son, Ted and his friends are big supporters and offer their assistance. Lisa also hires Scott Green (local handyman and landscape designer) and the Gray Army to help with the renovations.   Lisa is looking forward to her new life in Castlemaine, Australia.  What secrets will Lisa uncovers about the house and her family during the renovation?  Will Lisa ever be able to complete her latest manuscript (she is suffering from writer’s block)?  What happens when ex-husband, Jake has a change of heart?

Tumbledown Manor is an expected story.  It has a pretty good flow to it and nice writing, but there are really no surprises or twists (I kept hoping for a ghost in the stables).  Everything turns out just like you expect it would.  I do wish there had been more about the renovations on the house and less about Lisa’s writing.  I also found way too many references to egg salad sandwiches (I’m not kidding).  It turned me off eating for several hours.  It was an overused and unneeded reference.  I liked Lisa finding out the history of her family (the scandal) and the addition of Mojo (the cat) and Kiwi (the cockatoo).  Tumbledown Manor was a satisfactory novel, but I wanted more.  It is basically a romance novel with a theme that has been done many times (a woman finds out husband is cheating, gets divorce, and starts a new life by making an impulsive buy).  I give Tumbledown Manor 3 out of 5 stars.  I did like the sweet ending (all romance novels have to have a happy ending).  I think the novel had unrealized potential.  It could have been so much more (a great ghost story or the beginning of a mystery series).

I received a complimentary copy of Tumbledown Manor from NetGalley in exchange for an honest evaluation of the novel.

Guideposts puts out some great series.  If you have not tried them, today is a good day to start.  They are offering the first book (ebook version only) in three different series, for $.99 each (a very significant savings). The three series are Sugarcreek Amish Mysteries, Miracles of Marble Cove, and Mysteries of Silver Peak. I have read and loved each of these series (you can download a version that can be used on your Kindle.  You will have to download, then email to your Kindle with "convert" in subject line). I hope all of you have a great last day of April.  Take care and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader

Friday, April 29, 2016

Curtains for Miss Plym

Happy Friday!  The last Friday of April.  The month just flew by so quickly.  It is Arbor Day.  Arbor Day was established in 1872 in Nebraska.  It is a day to plant a tree and help nature (and the environment).  On April 29. . . in 1945 Dachau Concentration Camp was liberated by troops from the United States; Hair (a controversial play at the time) opens on Broadway in 1968; and Catherine Middleton and Prince William are married in Westminster Abbey in London in 2011!  Do you think Prince Charles will ever step aside so Prince William can take over the throne?  Queen Elizabeth just turned 90!  She looks very good for her age.  I was going to review Tumbledown Manor by Helen Brown today by Microsoft Word went on the fritz and deleted it while I was trying to save it (it has been giving me fits lately).  I will try again tomorrow!

Curtains for Miss Plym by Kathleen Delaney is the second book in A Mary McGill Canine Mystery series.  Mary McGill is busy organizing Santa Louisa’s annual spring rummage sale that will be held at St. Mark’s Church community hall.  There will also be a pet adoption event held outside the hall.  Mary arrives early at the event with Millie, her black cocker spaniel at discovers the body of Emilie Plym (a sweet elderly woman).  It looks like she was strangled with the belt from her robe (how horrible).  How did Miss Plym get into the locked hall during the night (because Mary locked it the night before herself)?  Who would kill this sweet woman?  Mary wants to find out and starts asking questions.  Mary works with the Chief of Police (who happens to be married to Mary’s niece, Ellen) to find the culprit.  Will Mary be able to find the killer before the killer tries to silence her?

Curtains for Miss Plym was enjoyable, but I thought the killer was extremely obvious.  Also, the murder happened right at the beginning of the novel (a pet peeve of mine).  We need more of a lead in into the crime and then start the solving of the said crime (otherwise it is one long book).  Curtains for Miss Plym has nice, likeable (and relatable) characters and a charming small town setting.  The author did provide good details and clues (thank goodness).  With a little work this could be an enjoyable cozy mystery series (needs a more complex crime).  I give Curtains for Miss Plym 3.5 out of 5 stars.  Will I read the next book in the series?  I will give it a try. 

The first book in A Mary McGill Canine Mystery series is Purebred Dead.  I received a complimentary copy of Curtains for Miss Plym in exchange for an honest evaluation of the novel.

I finally got my mother out of the house today.  It just took me a month!  We did not get everything accomplished, but I can do the rest of the errands myself (in about half the time).   I am currently reading The Atomic Weight of Love by Elizabeth J. Church.  I am off to watch Grimm!  Have a wonderful and enjoyable evening. Take care and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader 

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Antiques Fate

It is Take Your Daughter to Work Day!  Have you ever tried this?   It is also Kiss Your Mate Day (I bet many people like this day)! Make sure to give your significant other special kiss today!  Do your pets let you know when they want something?  It is funny how each of my dogs have a different way of letting me know what they want.  Doozy is very direct.  Wolfie gets her point across, but she is indirect and sweet.  Today she was directly in my path (laying down) and would not move.  She happened to be in front of the water bowl.  Want to guess what was empty?  Wants I filled it up (with ice water from the fridge because they do not like tap water), she moved out of the way!

Antiques Fate by Barbara Allan is the tenth book in the Trash n’ Treasure Mystery series.    Brandy Borne is enjoying some quiet time with her boyfriend, Tony Cassato (Chief of Police in Serenity) when they are interrupted by Brandy’s mother, Vivian.  Vivian is excited because she was just hired to perform her one woman MacBeth (with hats) at the Old York annual fete (the play is as ridiculous as it sounds).  Vivian will perform at the New Vic Theater (replica of Old Victorian Theater in England) in Old York.  Of course, this means that Brandy will be going to Old York with her mother.  Brandy is the one who hands her mother the various hats and her designated driver (Vivian had her license taken away).  They arrive in Old York and meet with the New Vic Theater owner, Millicent Marlowe (prefers Millie).  Millie gives them a tour of the theater and they meet her grandson, Chad Marlow (Artistic Director for theater).  Then Millie drops dead.  Vivian uses her phone to contact Sheriff Rudder (who Vivian has on speed dial).  Was Millie’s death accidental or intentional?  Turns out that there is a controversy in the town.  Millie was on the Boards of Trustees for the town which has six members.  Half are for keeping the town quaint and old-fashioned (which draws in tourists).  The other three members want to allow changes (modernization) to the town.  With the vote always 3 to 3 nothing gets done.  Is someone trying to change that outcome?  Unfortunately, Millie’s death is just the first (three more to follow).  Vivian decides she must investigate and insists that Brandy help her.  Can they find the killer in time?  Will people enjoy Vivian’s rendition of MacBeth?

Antiques Fate was just too ridiculous (daffy) for me to enjoy.  Vivian’s character is extremely over-the-top (daft) and annoying.  It is her way or the highway.  The book is told from a first-person perspective mostly from Brandy’s point-of-view, but Vivian is allowed a few chapters to rant (mostly about herself and how she is right).  Brandy comes across as a lackey doing her mother’s bidding.  The mystery was the best part of the novel.  It was complex with twists and turns (I loved it).  It is a shame that the rest of the novel was not of the same standard.  I just did not enjoy the ridiculousness (it just seemed farfetched).   I give Antiques Fate 3 out of 5 stars (because of the mystery).  I have tried to like this series, but it is just not for me (other people will love it).  Antiques Fate can be read alone.  The author does a good job of filling in the readers on the characters and what has happened previously (the main details).  The ending leaves us with a clue on the sparks that will fly in the next novel.

Other novels in the Trash n' Treasure Mystery series are Antiques Roadkill, Antiques Maul, Antiques Flee Market, Antiques Bizarre, Antiques Knock-Off, Antiques Disposal, Antiques Chop, Antiques Con, and Antiques Swap.  Christmas stories in this series are Antiques Slay Ride, Antiques Fruitcake, and Antiques St. Nicked. I received a complimentary copy of Antiques Fate from NetGalley (and the publisher) in exchange for an honest evaluation of the novel.

I am currently reading Fading Starlight by Kathryn Cushman (lovely book).  Thank you so much for visiting and reading my latest review.  Have an enjoyable evening!  Take care and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Hide Away

Happy Babe Ruth Day!  For those of you who do not know, Babe Ruth was a famous baseball player!  This day honors Babe Ruth's achievements.  It is also Tell A Story Day!  It does not matter what type of story, just read it or tell it on this day.  On April 27 in 1810 Beethoven composes Fur Elise.  In 1981 Xerox PARC introduces the computer mouse and construction begins on the Freedom Tower in 2006 (later renamed One World Trade Center) in New York.

Hide Away by Iris Johansen picks up where Shadow Play ends. Eve Duncan is in the hospital after killing Walsh who was after Cara.  Eve and Joe will do anything they can to protect Cara from Salazar.  Salazar is determined to kill Cara to get even with her father, Juan Castino.  Castino is the kingpin of a drug cartel in Mexico City.  Salazar already had Cara’s sister, Jenny murdered as well as their caretaker, Elena Pasquez.  After Eve is released from the hospital, they head home to Atlanta.  They soon discover that Salazar has a new assassin, Ramon Franco on their tail.  Eve and Cara book a private plane and head to Scotland.  Jane MacGuire, Eve’s adopted daughter, has accepted a job Lord John MacDuff, Earl of Cannaught (and a Laird).  MacDuff has been trying to get Jane to Cira’s treasure for years.  Jane has finally agreed (she had dreams of Cira as a teenager).  Eve and Cara will hide out in Scotland with MacDuff, Jane, Jock Gavin, and Seth Caleb.  But what do they do what Franco and Salazar pick up their trail?  What will these people do to keep Cara safe?

Hide Away was an extreme disappointment.  When I finished the book, the one thought I had was it was pointless (the book).  If you have not read Shadow Play, you can catch up (for the most part) in Hide Away (it does rehash what happened in Shadow Play).   I was hoping that Cara's story would be completed in this novel.  Unfortunately, it was not.  We are left with another cliffhanger.  I will not be reading the next book (except maybe to look at in a bookstore to see how it ends).  Hide Away contains guns, violence (extreme), machete, IED's, and much more.  There is one surprise or twist that some people will not see coming (unless you paid attention close attention to the clues).  I just did not enjoy Hide Away (but that is just me).  I give Hide Away 3 out of 5 stars.  It is okay, but not great (I wanted a gripping suspense thriller).   The writing did not flow well.  It jumped around.  The pace was good, but I just did not feel that we gained any ground in this book.  I really wanted to like this novel, but it is just not for me.

For more Iris Johansen books, you can find them here on Amazon. I received a complimentary copy of Hide Away from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review of the novel.

I am currently reading Tea with Jam and Dread by Tamar Myers (did not buy this book)!  I wanted to tell you about my little kitten, Bucky (for buckeyes from Ohio).  She is a tortoise (and about 4 to 5 inches long) and normally runs from me (because I treated her eye infection).  Today she decided she wanted dinner now.  Bucky came up behind me and meowed to get my attention (such a tiny little meow).  As soon as I started towards the kitchen, she scampered in ahead of me.  It was so cute!  Have a nice, relaxing evening!  Take care and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

House of the Hanging Jade

It is Hug an Australian Day (I believe you can easily guess what you are supposed to do on this day)!  It is also National Pretzel Day.  Pretzels are believed to be the world's oldest snack.  Monks took thin strips of dough, twisted them into the shape of children's arms in prayer, and then sprinkled them with salt!  I am certainly glad they created the pretzel (I love sourdough pretzels the best). William Shakespeare was baptized on April 26 in 1564 in Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire, England.  In 1981 Dr. Michael Harrison performs the world's first human open fetal surgery (remember the picture of the little baby's hand sticking out of the womb).   

House of the Hanging Jade is the latest mystery novel by Amy M. Reade.  Kailani Kanaka is a chef that is currently living in Washington, D.C.  Kailani is from Hawaii and is not enjoying a D.C. winter.  Kailani decides to return home to Kona and her family.  Geoffrey Corcoran is the owner of the restaurant where she works and her current boyfriend.  They have only been dating for a short while, but Kailani knows he is not the one (too clingy).  The Kanaka is happy for their daughter to return home and spread the word that she is looking for a position.  Kailani receives a call from Dr. Barbara Merriweather-Jorgensen.  Barbie (as she prefers to be called) is looking for a personal chef for her family (husband and two children).  Kailani will live on the premises and she is asked to introduce more nutritional foods to the family.  Kailani soon finds that there are secrets within the Jorgensen house and Kailani does her best to protect the children.  Then Dr. Douglas Fitzgibbons, an associate of Barbie’s turns up dead at the house.  The number one suspect is Lars Jorgensen, Barbie’s husband (turns out that Douglas was more than a work associate).  Then Kailani’s ex-boyfriend turns up on the Big Island.   Geoffrey cannot seem to take no for an answer.  How far is Geoffrey willing to go to have Kailani as his girlfriend?  Who killed Dr. Fitzgibbons?  What happens when someone else turns up dead on the estate?

Overall, I enjoyed reading House of the Hanging Jade.  I was immediately drawn into the book.  I just wish the murder had been harder to solve (I could have told you who the killer was right after they found the body).  There is also the expected romance (I could see it coming but I kept hoping the author would not do it).  The book is peppered with native phrases (glossary at the end of the book).  There is quite a bit of food talk in the book (she is a chef) and gorgeous descriptions of the scenery.  Kailani’s reactions to the Geoffrey are odd.  Kailani did not tell him to buzz off or go away (at first).  She did not want to hurt his feelings (if a guy is being creepy you need to be firm).  I give House of the Hanging Jade 3.75 out of 5 stars.  The book had a good flow (no slow parts) that kept me reading.  I will definitely read more books by Amy Reade.

Other books by Amy Reade are The Ghosts of Peppernell Manor (good book) and Secrets of Hallstead House.  I received a complimentary copy of House of the Hanging Jade from NetGalley in exchange for an honest evaluation of the novel.

I am taking it easy today.  I have caught a cold that is slowly migrating to my lungs (it always happens because of my asthma).  I am currently reading Front Page Affair by Radha Vatsal.  Have an enjoyable day! Take care (stay well) and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader

Monday, April 25, 2016

Tiffany Girl

Hello again!  Tonight I am sharing Tiffany Girl with you.  This is another of those books that I got behind on while my father was ill. I am determined to catch up (I will not concede defeat).  Some great books come out on Tuesday, April 26 (book release day). House of the Hanging Jade by Amy Reade and Promised to the Crown by Aimie Runyan are two of them.  

Tiffany Girl by Deanne Gist is the story of Florence Jayne who wants more out of life.  Her father has decided she can no longer take her painting classes (because he spent the money for tuition on gambling).  Flossie (as she is called) decided to get a job outside the home to finance her classes. One-day Louis Comfort Tiffany comes to the New York School for Applied Design (Flossie’s school).  Mr. Tiffany is looking for female works to help complete his windows for the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago.  Mr. Tiffany is building a chapel with twelve windows.  Because of a strike with the Lead Glaziers and Glass Cutters’ Unions, they need workers.  Flossie is lucky enough to be one of the ladies picked.  Flossie cannot believe her luck (no she has to tell her parents).  Flossie finds a room at Klausmeyer Boardinghouse and believes these people will be her family (she is extremely naïve).  Reeve Wilder, a reporter for The New York World, lives across the hall.  Reeve finds Flossie to be extremely annoying and a disrupting influence. He does, though, find her to be an inspiration for his writing.  See how Flossie navigates life on her own as she becomes a Tiffany Girl.

Tiffany Girl is basically a long, drawn out romance novel.  There is not enough in the book regarding Tiffany and the windows.  The fair barely rates a chapter.  Flossie is an extremely naïve young woman who had no idea what real life was like outside her home.  I just expected more from the book.  The writing is okay (a little stilted) and I felt the book was too long.  It could have ended much sooner (many things could have been edited from the book).  I give Tiffany Girl 3 out of 5 stars.  The ending is expected (you know what is going to happen from the moment Flossie and Reeve meet).

You can follow Deanne Gist on Amazon to get updates of her latest novels.  I received a complimentary copy of Tiffany Girl from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

I wanted to let you know that I really do appreciate all of you that stop by and read my reviews.  Thank you so much.  Take care and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader

Silence of the Lamps

Happy World Penguin Day!  This day is a chance for people to get to know information about and appreciate the penguin.  The penguin is a native of Antarctica!  The building of the Suez Canal began on April 25 in 1859; New York became the first state to require license plates for automobiles in 1901; and Robert Noyce is granted the patent for the integrated circuit (microchip) in 1961 (and I am so grateful that he invented this little gem).

Silence of the Lamps by Karen Rose Smith is the fifth book in the Caprice De Luca series.  Caprice's sister, Nikki owns Nikki's Catered Capers.  She has been having trouble with Drew Pierson.  Drew used to work with Nikki until she spurned his advances and did not want him to become her partner.  He is now out to make her life miserable and shut down her business.  Nikki and Drew had a heated exchange at an open house that Caprice was staging.  Then another incident at the local wedding expo.  Nikki goes over to Drew's house (actually he lives with his grandmother, Rowena) to talk to him with Caprice and they find Drew dead on the floor.  A beautiful Tiffany lampshade is nearby and the base is missing (I wonder what killed him).  Nikki ends up being at the top of the suspect list (of course).  Caprice will do anything she can to clear her sister's name (as expected).  Caprice (despite warnings from loved one's) is determined to find the real killer.  Join us is Kismet for another Caprice investigation and her intriguing vintage fashions.

Silence of the Lamps was my least favorite book in the series (which I have really enjoyed up to this point).  The novel contained very little mystery.  The clues were not provided until before the killer was revealed (not that you really need the clues to solve the crime).  The focus of this book seemed to be on Caprice and her relationship with Grant, the animals (a cat that needed rescued, Lady and Patches), Uncle Dom becoming a pet sitter, and Caprice's constant need for someone to watch her dog (which I really do not understand).  I read cozy mysteries for the (you are going to be shocked) the mystery!  Silence of the Lamps is nicely written and easy to read (it had a good flow as well).  The characters are interesting, and I enjoy Caprice's unique style of dress and decorating (vintage).  I give Silence of the Lamps 3 out of 5 stars.  If this novel just had more mystery (clues, investigation) and less about finding pet sitters, I would love it.  Silence of the Lamps will be out on Tuesday, April 26.
The other books in the Caprice De Luca series are Staged to Death, Deadly Decor, Gilt by Association, and Drape Expectations.  I received a complimentary copy of Silence of the Lamps from NetGalley in exchange for an honest evaluation of the novel.

You will have to pardon any formatting issues with my post today. Blogger does not want to cooperate today (I keep getting weird fonts and the paragraphs keep wanting to go off the page).  I am currently enjoying Promised to the Crown by Aimie Runyan (I have no clue why I picked this book, but it is good).  I hope all of you had a good day!  Reign returns to the CW tonight (which gives me something to watch at 8 p.m. since Supergirl is over for the season).  Take care and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Catch Me

Tonight I am sharing on of my "catch up" books (and review) with you. These are books that I got behind on while my father was ill. I am finally starting to catch up on them (thank goodness) as well as keep current.  I dislike being behind (I feel it reflects badly on me).

Catch Me by Parker Blue is the sixth book in The Demon Underground series.  Val Shapiro is half demon and half human.  She is also a succubus, the paladin for the San Antonio area, and the slayer (quite a combination).  This makes for a complicated relationship with her new beau, Austin who is a vampire (should be interesting).  Austin is one of three lieutenants to Alejandro, the leader of the New Blood Movement.   Then Alejandro goes missing and the rogue vampires are creating havoc.  The vampires start competing to be the new leader (more trouble).  Val along with her faithful (and snarky) hellhound, Fang need to find Alejandro before war breaks out (Val does not want anything to happen to Austin who is a target).  Can Val find Alejandro in time?  What happens when ex-boyfriend, Shade enters the mix?  You will need to read Catch Me to find out!

Catch Me is told from Val and Austin’s points-of-view.  There are quite a few characters in Catch Me and it gets confusing.  This novel is not fast paced (it was slow going).  You do need to read the previous books in the series in order to understand what is happening in Catch Me (or you will be totally lost).  I liked Fang (Val’s hellhound).  He had a quirky sense of humor and I liked his comments.  I did not enjoy Catch Me as much as I thought I would.  This book is aimed at a younger audience (who I believe will love the book) and has the requisite romantic issues for Val and Austin.  I give Catch Me 3 out of 5 stars. 

The other books in The Demon Underground series are Bite Me (currently free on Amazon), Try Me, Fang Me, Make Me, and Dare Me.  I received a complimentary copy of Catch Me from NetGalley in exchange for an honest evaluation of the novel.

Thank you for visiting!  Take care and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader

Murder on the Hour

Happy Pig in a Blanket Day (I am talking about the food)!  You celebrate this day by eating them (I think I will just skip it).  One of my cats, Miss Penny (she is fifteen years old) has decided she wants to brave the dogs and live on their side of the house (the cats live in two rooms where the dogs are not allowed.  Trust me they have it made). So I purchased her a cat tree to keep her occupied (and off my stuff).  Today she was quite insistent that I put it together (sat on the base and kept meowing at me).  You should have seen her when I finished.  She hopped up to the highest part and acted like she was a Queen!  Events that occurred on April 24 are . . . Buffalo Bill hired  Annie Oakley to be in his (popular at the time) Wild West Show; Mary, Queen of Scots, marries the Dauphin of France, Francois, at Notre Dame de Paris (the show, Reign, took a few liberties with this); the Library of Congress is established by President John Adams in 1800; and in 1953 Winston Churchill is knighted by Queen Elizabeth II. 

Murder on the Hour by Elizabeth J. Duncan is the seventh book in A Penny Brannigan Mystery series.  The Antiques Cymru (like our Antiques Roadshow) is coming to Llanelen, North Wales.  The townspeople are hunting their homes for special pieces hoping they will be picked to be on air (and that their item will be valuable).  Penny Brannigan, co-owner of Llanelen Spa, was asked by Emyr Gruffydd to help organize the event.  Haydn Williams has special items in his home that were made by craftsman in Wales.  He has been asked to bring his John Owen clock to the show to be evaluated for the show.  Half of a map is found in the clock (curious).  Catrin Bellis brought a beautiful quilt to be evaluated.  Catrin is just starting to blossom.  Her parents were extremely religious and strict.  They recently passed away so Catrin has started to make changes to her appearance.  After Catrin’s quilt was appraised, the appraiser told her something in private.  Later that day Catrin is found dead in her home and the quilt is missing.  What did the evaluator tell Catrin about the quilt?  And did someone happen to overhear them?  DCI Gareth Davies and DI Bethan Morgan (new detective) are assigned the case.  But you know that Penny cannot help but look into the matter, especially when she spots someone with the quilt.  Read Murder on the Hour to join Penny Brannigan as she follows the clues to solve Catrin Bellis’ murder (and her chance at a new romantic interest).

I enjoyed reading Murder on the Hour.  I have not read the other books in the series, but that did not hinder my enjoyment of the novel (can be read as a stand-alone book).  I like the way the writer crafted the mystery.  She really had me doubting my choice of killer (I like that).  Murder on the Hour has good characters (I liked Florence Semble and Evelyn Lloyd) and a unique as well as beautiful setting (North Wales).  Murder on the Hour had a sweet ending (who doesn’t love a good ending).  I give Murder on the Hour 4.25 out of 5 stars (I liked it).  I will definitely be reading the other books in A Penny Brannigan Mystery series and look forward to future novels.

The other books in A Penny Brannigan Mystery series are The Cold Light of Mourning, A Brush with Death, A Killer's Christmas in Wales, A Small Hill to Die On, Never Laugh as a Hearse Goes By, and Slated for Death (I am hoping for a sale so I can purchase the whole series).  I received a complimentary copy of Murder on the Hour from NetGalley in exchange for an honest evaluation of the novel.

I hope everyone had a delightful weekend.  I am going to go cook my dinner and relax (before my mother starts her talking session). Take care and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Raisin the Dead

Happy Take A Chance Day!  Take a chance and do something you would not normally do (but that is legal and morally okay).  I am not one to take chances.  The riskiest thing I do is spontaneously buy books!  Maybe I will pick up a lottery ticket (it always seems like I am just flushing my money away)!  What would you (or will) do today?  William Shakespeare was born on this day, April 23 in 1564 and died on this day fifty-two years later in 1616 (what a coincidence).  In 1635 the first American public school is founded in the Massachusetts Bay Colony.  It was modeled after Boston Grammar School in England.  The school was called Boston Latin School.  It is regarded as the oldest existing school in the United States.  In 2005 YouTube mania begins!  Coca-Cola changes its formula in 1985 and comes up with New Coke (yuck).  People do not take to this new formula and the company goes back to the original within three months (thank goodness).

Raisin the Dead by Karolina Barrett is the second book in A Bread and Batter Mystery series.  Molly Tyler is the baker and co-owner of Bread and Batter with her friend, Olivia Williams.  The town is divided over adding an addition to the Destiny town library.  Some people wish to protect a historical home on the land (that is falling down) and others wish to protect the Yellow Spiked Tree Frog.  There is also a fuss over Serafina Alessi visiting town.  Serafina is the head of her own perfume company.  She is the niece of Phillip.  Philip Baldeli is a member of the Library Advisory Board (advising on the expansion).  Then Philip shows up dead.  Molly’s mother Anne Tyler (and the director of the library) ends up a prime suspect.  Molly sets out to prove her mother’s innocence. 

Raisin the Dead was more of a romance novel than a cozy mystery (which I did not like since I wanted a mystery novel).  Too much of the book was devoted to the romance between the main character, Molly and her boyfriend, Sean (which has progressed quite rapidly for only two books).  The mystery was put on the back burner until more than halfway through the book.   However, you do not need that long to identify the killer.  The clues were scarce (until just before the mystery was solved).  Our focus was also diverted by Sean getting into an accident and going into the hospital.  Sean’s dead wife's twin has come to town and is causing chaos (especially at the hospital).  I wanted more of the book focused on the mystery (and a better mystery).  I give Raisin the Dead 3 out of 5 stars.  The book is easy to read, a lovely town, and some interesting characters (a good start).  Raisin the Dead is told in the first-person perspective.  The book just needed more (and a lot less romance).  I think with a little work this could be a very good series.  Now if you enjoy romance novels, then you will enjoy reading Raisin the Dead.

The first book in A Bread and Batter Mystery series is Bun for Your Life.  I received a complimentary copy of Raisin the Dead from NetGalley in exchange for an honest evaluation for the book.

I am off to cook dinner.  Thank you for visiting!  I am currently reading Hide Away by Iris Johansen (also reading A Devious Lot by Ellery Adams).  I hope all of you have a great evening.  Enjoy! Take care and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader

Friday, April 22, 2016

Plain Choice

It's Friday!  Is everyone ready for the weekend?  It seems like we work more on the weekend than during the week.  You have to catch up on housework, errands, outside chores, etc.  Of course, all we really want to do is relax!  On April 22 in history . . . the first Earth Day is celebrated in 1970 (Happy Earth Day), Disney's Animal Kingdom opens at Walt Disney World in Kissimmee, Florida (near Orlando in the middle of the state), the 1964-1965 New York World's Fair opens for its first season, and in 1977 optical fiber is used for the first time to carry live telephone traffic. 

Plain Choice by Sarah Price is the fifth book in The Plain Fame series.  Amanda Diaz has returned home to her family’s farm in Lititz, Pennsylvania with her adopted daughter, Isadora.  The road is no place for a little girl.  However, she desperately misses her husband, Alejandra Dias also knows as Viper, the singer.  Alejandra misses Amanda, but he knows the road is not the place for her and the little girl.  After a while, though, Amanda knows that she needs to make things right between Alejandro and herself (she loves him too much to call it quits).  Amanda calls in a favor and rejoins his tour which is now in Europe.  Can these two work things out? 

Plain Choice finally wraps up The Plain Fame series.  This series went on way too long.  It could have easily wrapped up in two or three books.  I thought Amanda came across as a naïve (not innocent, more ignorant).  I was really not liking her.  There is no way any human being over the age of 16 can be that naïve (not in this day and age).  Amanda keeps saying she cannot do that because she is Amish, but she is no longer Amish.  She married an Englischer (an example would be driving and flying).  Plain Choice is simple and easy to read (good flow as well).  It, also, contains a good ending that I enjoyed (as will fans of the series).  I give Plain Choice 3 out of 5 stars.  It was okay, but not great.

Plain Choice is available on Kindle Unlimited (a great program).  The other book in The Plain Fame series are Plain Fame, Plain Change, Plain Again, and Plain Return.  These four books are currently on sale for $1.99 on Amazon and are available on Kindle Unlimited.  I received a complimentary copy of Plain Choice from NetGalley in exchange for an honest evaluation of the novel.

I am off to feed the cats and dogs.  I hope all of you have a great evening.  Enjoy yourselves!  Grimm is on tonight (such a wonderful show).  I am currently reading Bossa Novas, Bikinis, and Bad Ends by Mary McHugh (a lot of information on Rio but very little mystery).  Take care and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader

Thursday, April 21, 2016

The Return of the Witch

It's Thursday!  I am late getting my post done today.  I had errands to run today.  My mother needed a new toilet seat and faucet.  All the toilet seats are basically the same.  Plain and white!  The main feature is the slow close lid (since my bedroom is next to her bathroom, I made sure her new one had this feature).  One toilet seat actually had a night light in the lid (good for people with children or elderly).  Ready for some history? You are getting it anyway!  Rome was founded on April 21 in 653 BCE. The city was founded by orphaned Romulus and Remus.  The Seattle World's Fair opens in 1962 (with Century 21 Exposition), and Henry VIII ascends the throne in 1509 after the death of his father Henry VII.  

The Return of the Witch by Paula Brackston is the sequel to The Witch’s Daughter.  Gideon Masters is free after five years.  Elizabeth Anne Hawksmith knows that he will immediately come after Teagan, apprentice Hedge Witch.  Gideon is stronger than ever thanks to some help.  Despite their fortifications, Teagan is taken.  Elizabeth will do whatever she must to get her back.  After doing some investigating, Elizabeth finds out that Gideon has taken Teagan back in time.  Elizabeth enlists the help of a Time Stepper to go back in time and rescue Teagan from the ruthless Gideon.  Will her journey be successful?

In order to understand and enjoy The Return of the Witch, you do need to return The Witch’s Daughter (otherwise you will be lost).    I have to admit that I had a very hard time reading Return of the Witch.  I found it extremely slow paced (and boring).   The writing is stilted and awkward to read (lacks a good flow).  I was never able to get into the story and enjoy it. There is a lot of detail (about items outside the cottage, the cottage, people, etc.) which bogged down the story.  Also, the book is told from alternating points of view (first Elizabeth, then Teagan, etc.).   I give The Return of the Witch 3 out of 5 stars.  This book was just not my style.  I wanted to like it (because I really like books with witches and magic in them).  Books are like people.  They are each unique and appeal to different individuals.

If you enjoy Paula Brackston's books, you can follow her on Amazon to get updates on her latest novels.  I received a complimentary copy of The Return of the Witch from NetGalley in exchange for an honest evaluation of the novel.

I am off to watch DC's Legends of Tomorrow (just love that show). I hope all of you have a delightful and relaxing evening!  Take care and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

The Two-Family House

It is Wednesday and we are halfway through another week.  I do not think I will ever finish raking leaves.  I filled five cans (someone stole my other three cans--who steals garbage cans) and it looks like I barely made a dent.  I finish one section of the yard, we get a good wind, and then it looks like I never touched it.  My mother wanted to know if it was really spring with all these leaves falling.  I am beginning to wonder about it! Edgar Allen Poe published the first detective story on April 20 in 1841. The book was The Murders in the Rue Morgue (great story).  Apollo 16 (with John Young in command) landed on the moon in 1972, and in 1916 the Chicago Cubs play their first game in what is now known as Wrigley Field.  

The Two-Family House by Lynda Cohen Loigman is the story about two brothers who share a family home.  Mort, Rose, and their daughters live in the downstairs apartment.  Abe, Helen, and their four boys live upstairs.  The two brothers work together at Box Brothers. They make cardboard boxes for businesses.  Helen and Rose end up pregnant at the same time with their babies due in January.  Their children are born during a winter storm in Brooklyn in 1947.  One woman wants a boy and the other a girl.  They have the opportunity to get what they want and take it.  See how this one choice (act) changes their lives and their families. 

The Two-Family House is a slow starter.  It is hard to get to keep reading this book, but I persisted.  The novel was okay (satisfactory), but not wonderful.  The story just plods along telling you what happens because of the decision these two women made (and one regrets it).   The characters were flat.  The Two-Family House is told in a first person point-of-view by various characters (which leads to confusion as it switches).  The novel needed a little something (like maybe making it more of a secret) to make it more appealing.  It needed more depth and interest.  It reads more like a first or second draft, than a finished novel.  I give TheTwo-Family House 2 out of 5 stars. 

I received a complimentary copy of The Two-Family House from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Thank you for stopping by and checking out my latest book review.  I am off to enjoy my evening.  I want to finish All Murders Final by Sherry Harris.  Take care and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

The Midwife's Dilemma

It is April 19!  I looked up some events that happened on this day and three of them were absolutely horrible (bombings and killings). We see enough of that on the news (newspaper, online, and in person).  Did you know that . . .  the Revolutionary War began on this day in 1775, the first running of the Boston Marathon in 1897, Marie Antoinette married King Louis XVI of France in a proxy wedding in 1770 (proxy weddings were common for royalty at that time), Mae West (I just loved her) is sentenced to ten days in jail for obscenity for her play Sex in 1927, and in 1956 Grace Kelly marries Prince Rainier of Monaco.  

The Midwife’s Dilemma by Delia Parr is the third book in the At Home in Trinity series.  Martha Cade lives in Trinity, Pennsylvania in 1831.  She has been alone the last few months since Fern and Ivy Lynn left town to take care of personal business.  Thomas Dillon (who wishes to marry Martha) went as their escort.  Martha’s daughter, Victoria has been helping Aunt Hilda (not really a relative).  Martha suffered a terrible loss when her horse, Grace died recently.  Martha used Grace to get to her midwife appointments and birthing (she was also who she talked to).  Martha now has to rely on other people for transportation.  Thomas, Fern, and Ivy finally return home and they bring Jane Trew and her daughter, Cassie with them (new project).  Jane is hiding a secret, but no one wishes to pry.  Thomas now wishes for a decision from Martha.  Will she or won’t she marry him?  It is not an easy decision, because Martha knows she would not be able to continue her practice.  Martha needed to find someone to replace her if she decides to marry Thomas.  Martha also has to deal with her daughter, Victoria’s new romance.  Victoria has been seeing Dr. Benjamin McMillan (without her mother’s knowledge).  Now they wish to get married (and want Martha’s permission).  So many decisions for Martha.  Will she make the right ones?  Join us in The Midwife’s Dilemma to see what is happening in Trinity and if Martha makes the right choices.

The Midwife’s Dilemma was not as good as the first book in the series.  This book was mostly Martha trying to decide whether or not to get married (I am not kidding).  Martha goes back and forth on her decision, lamenting the loss of her horse (and not willing to accept anyone’s help on getting a new one), and upset that her daughter wants to marry her enemy (Dr. McMillan).  I, personally, did not understand what Thomas saw in Martha (I kept hoping the guy would land someone more decisive and appealing).  The Midwife’s Dilemma is nicely written and easy to read.  The Christian theme is very prevalent throughout the book.  I just felt that this book was an add-on (that was not needed).   Martha has really been trying to make up her mind this whole time (through the whole series).  The Midwife’s Dilemma is really not a stand-alone book.  You need to read the previous books in order to understand everything that is going on in this book.  I give The Midwife’s Dilemma 3 out of 5 stars.  The book does have a sweet ending that wraps up all the storylines nicely.

The first two books in the At Home in Trinity series are The Midwife's Tale (my favorite in the series) and The Midwife's Choice.  I received a complimentary copy of The Midwife’s Dilemma from NetGalley in exchange for an honest evaluation of the novel.  If you have time, please make sure to leave a review of the books you read.  They do not have to be long, but they make a big difference to authors (and, ultimately, us).  

I am off to pick up more leaves and do some painting (things for the house).  I sincerely hope all of you have a special day.  Stay safe, take care, and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader

P.S.  In case you are wondering I am still reading That Darkness by Lisa Black.  I couldn't handle more of it last night, so I started reading Berry the Hatchet by Peg Cochran (which is wonderful) and finished Tiffany Girl by Deanne Gist (which is a long drawn out romance novel).   That Darkness reads more like non-fiction or a police procedural manual than a fiction book.