Monday, October 31, 2016

Faithful by Alice Hoffman

Happy Halloween!  I hope all of you are having a ghoulish day. Some wonderful new books come out tomorrow, Tuesday, November 1.  They include The Christmas Club by Barbara Hinske; The Good, the Bad, and the Guacamole by Rebecca Adler; Twice Told Tail by Ali Brandon; Deck the Hallways by Kate Carlisle;  Better Late Than Never by Jenn McKinlay; We Wish You A Murderous Christmas by Vicki Delaney; A Killer Kebab by Susannah Hardy; and Hooking for Trouble by Betty Hechtman. I cannot wait to read these new novels.  I will be reviewing The Christmas Club tomorrow.

Faithful by Alice Hoffman is a very unusual novel (let me be brutally honest and say it is just plain odd).  Shelby Richmond is seventeen years old when she is in a tragic accident that puts her best friend (of a sort) in a coma.  Shelby feels survivors guilt and does everything she can to ruin her life.  She quits going to high school, tries to kill herself, and then shaves off all her hair.  She spends the next two years lounging in her parent’s basement watching television and getting high (let’s not forget the smoking and junk food).  The one person she talks to is Ben Mink, her pot dealer.  When Shelby is nineteen, Ben is heading to New York for college.  He is going to become a pharmacist and asks Shelby to come with him.  Shelby then wanders around New York with her bald head (black clothes too).  She eventually gets a job at a pet store.  Ben is good for Shelby, but she refuses to see it.  Shelby is still bent on self-destruction.  After the accident, Shelby started receiving postcards.  Whoever is sending the postcards is trying to help her move on.  To encourage her on the right path.  Will Shelby ever be able to move on with her life?  Can she forgive herself for surviving an accident? 

Faithful, as I said, was a very peculiar book.  It is written like Shelby is talking.  The reader is subjected to Shelby’s long, depressing narrative.  Some parts of the book are compelling, but there are many pages that should have been tossed on the editing room floor (you get the metaphor).  I felt that Faithful was not a finished book.  It is also a very dark, negative novel.  If you are a person prone to sadness or depression, please stay clear of this novel (otherwise, you will want to off yourself by page 75).  I give Faithful 2 out of 5 stars (like I said there are some good parts).  Faithful will be released tomorrow.  Please remember that this is just how I felt about the book.  Every reader has a different perspective or take on a novel.

I am currently reading Deck the Hallways by Kate Carlisle.  I am lucky enough to be belong to her review crew and received my copy on Saturday (the print is so tiny in the book).  I am off to enjoy dinner and relax.  I hope all of you have a frightful evening (you know I mean delightful).  Take care and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader

Sunday, October 30, 2016

The Angel of Forest Hill

October is almost over.  Only two more months left in 2016.  I hope all of you are having a special weekend.  I am working on my bedroom.  I moved rooms almost a year ago (to be closer to my mother's room), and I am slowing making it my own.  I like unique pieces.  I am not the type of person you will find in Ikea.  I prefer thrift stores and antique shops.  That's what happens when you grow up with two aunts who own antique shops!  

The Angel of Forest Hill by Cindy Woodsmall is a lovely Amish romance.  Rose Kurtz is the only daughter in the family.  She has eleven brothers and their needs dominate the household.  Her mother has never had a kind word for Rose.  Then one day the Bishop comes by to ask a very large, life altering favor from Rose.  There is a family in need in a small Amish community.  Joel Dienner just lost his wife, Florence (died giving birth).  He needs someone to help with the children (two children in addition to the new baby, Grace).  There are only eight families in this little Amish community.  They would love to help, but they all have their own families and responsibilities.  Because of the circumstances, Rose would have to marry Joel.  Rose knows this is her chance to get away and she agrees.  The two marry, but they each have their own bedroom.  A year later Joel is finally starting to come alive again. Rose has been a big help with the kids and with Joel’s business.  Her suggestions have even helped his business become profitable.  Four years later the two of them are still in separate bedrooms.  But they are attracted to each other.  They spend more time together and get to know each other.  Joel helps Rose overcome her fears.  Erma, Joel’s former mother-in-law, is very nasty to Rose.  Joel talks to her and, unfortunately, lets it slip that Rose and Joel have never consummated their marriage.  Erma hot foots it over to the Bishop to tell him.  The Bishop (Joel’s father) has no choice but to take this issue to a higher authority.  Just when Rose and Joel are ready to move forward with their relationship, they might be ripped apart.  Join Rose and Joel in The Angel of Forest Hill.

The Angel of Forest Hill is a special book.  You will be drawn in right from the beginning.  The book is well-written, has good characters, and a beautiful setting.  The story is told from Joel and Rose’s point-of-views.  I give The Angel of Forest Hill 4 out of 5 stars (I liked it).  It is a sweet story, but it does have a predictable ending.  The Angel of Forest Hill is lovely book that will help you get into the spirit of Christmas.  It is a short novel (208 pages) that can be finished in just a couple of hours.  I do wish the author had provided an epilogue.  I would have liked to find out how Rose and Joel fared.  Did they have kids?  Did Rose end up having a good relationship with her mother?  There are a couple of recipes at the end of the book.  

Cindy Woodsmall has some other wonderful Christmas stories (click on her name to view some of her other novels).  I look forward to reading her latest Christmas book each year.  You should also check out the special Christmas novels by Melody Carlson and Sheila Roberts.

I am off to feed the cats.  They get very vocal if I do not feed them when they decide it is time to eat.  May you have a special Sunday evening.  I will return soon with another book review.  Take care and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader

Saturday, October 29, 2016

A Royal Christmas Wedding by Rachel Hauck

Happy Saturday!  I hope all of you are having a lovely fall Saturday.  If you are looking for Halloween cozy mysteries to read (to get in the mood), I have found a list for you.  Just click here.  I would like to suggest Krista Davis' Murder Most Howl and The Ghost and Mrs. Mewer as well as Laura Child's Gossamer Ghost.  

A Royal Christmas Wedding by Rachel Hauck is the fourth book in the Royal Wedding series.  Avery Truitt as well as her mother, Glo are dealing with the loss of her father in St. Simons Island, Georgia.  Susanna, her sister, invites them to spend Christmas in Brighton Kingdom where she lives with her husband, King Nathaniel III.  Glo is glad to get away from the memories and is excited to see Susanna (she is pregnant).  Avery is not as excited.  It has been five years since she has seen Prince Colin Tattersall.  They were in love with each other, but Colin broke off their relationship very suddenly (and without a decent explanation).  Avery has tried to get over him, but how do you forget your one true love. 

There is a special tradition in Brighton Kingdom that has not been observed in 182 years.  At the end of the Harvest Celebration, just after the last bell rings at midnight, a man in love can ring the Pembroke Chapel Bell.  He is announcing his intention to woo and marry a woman on Christmas morning.  Colin has been following the path his father set out for him for the last five years.  But he is still in love with Avery.  He is in the bell tower just before midnight and says a prayer.  The Pembroke Bell then rings by itself.  This is the sign Colin needed, and he sets out to win Avery.  But Avery does not wish to come between Colin and his father.  Will there be a happily ever after this Christmas for these two love birds?

A Royal Christmas Wedding is a sweet, predictable romance novel.  I did not know this book was part of a series when I decided to read it (discovered it after I started reading the novel).  It did not hinder my reading enjoyment.  A Royal Christmas Wedding can be read alone.  The author provides the reader with the information they need to understand and enjoy the story.  The novel is nicely written, has engaging characters, good historical element, steamy romance, and has a nice Christian element.  I give A Royal Christmas Wedding 4 out of 5 stars (I have to admit that I liked it).  The epilogue wraps up the series with a bow.  The other novels in the Royal Wedding series are Once Upon a Prince, Princess Ever After, and How to Catch a Prince.

Thank you for stopping by!  I am off to eat dinner and watch the new Hallmark Christmas movie.  I know it is Halloween season, but I cannot resist Christmas movies!  May all of you have a wonderful evening, and I will see you tomorrow. Take care and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader

Friday, October 28, 2016

Dangling by a Thread by Lea Wait

I hope all of you had a good day.  I spent the day doing some work around the house.  We have so much work to do on our home (home ownership is not for the weak).  I am currently clearing out my studio (I am selling it off).  I should be done by 2018 at my current pace!

Dangling by a Thread by Lea Wait is the fourth book in A Mainely Needlepoint Mystery series.  Angie Curtis has been back in Haven Harbor, Maine for three months.  She is the manager of her grandmother’s business, Mainely Needlepoint.  Angie is out early one morning, and she notices a stranger docking a skiff.  Angie has not seen this man before and follows him as he goes about his duties (does anyone else find this odd).  After some inquiries, Angie finds out that he is called The Solitary.  He lives on King’s Island and only comes to Haven Harbor every couple of months for supplies.  His real name is Jesse Lockhart, an Iraq veteran who was injured in Afghanistan.  Jesse is friends with Mainely Needlepointer, Dave Percy (met in rehab).  Jesse needs the quiet of the island, and he feels he is protecting the Great Cormorants that nest on King’s Island.  The Great Cormorants are a threatened species (just before extinct).  They need a certain type of environment to thrive, and King’s Island is perfect for them.  A big yacht has docked in Haven Harbor.  It belongs to Gerry and June Bentley.  They have decided that King’s Island is perfect for a vacation home.  Jesse does not wish to sell the island.  Unfortunately, he jointly owns the island with his cousin, Simon.  Gerry Bentley flies in Simon to woo him into selling.  They want to have Jesse declared incompetent so Simon can sell the island to Gerry.  When the hear what Gerry and Simon are up to, they head out to King’s Island to warn Jesse.  Jesse is on high alert and shoots an arrow at Dave (into his leg).  The police go out the next day with Angie and find Jesse dead.  Jesse did not deserve to die in this manner.  He was a quiet man who was just trying to protect some birds.  Angie is determined to find Jesse’s killer.  Dave, Angie and friends are also working to protect the island from being developed.  Will they succeed in their endeavors? 

Dangling by a Thread can be read alone.  Lea Wait updates the readers on what happened in the previous novels.  I must admit that this was not my favorite book in the series.  I thought too many pages were devoted to Angie’s thinking and contemplating about life, living alone, the antics of her new kitten, and Patrick West (the man she would like to date).  I thought the concept for Dangling by a Thread was a bit weak.   Angie had just met Jesse, but she dives in to save his island and solve his murder.  A majority of the book is devoted to friendship, family, and Angie’s interest in Patrick West.  I give Dangling by a Thread 3 out of 5 stars (I am being a little generous).  The murderer was obvious.  One little statement gives away the identity of the killer.  Some information is repeated a few times (and it was not necessary).  I really got tired of hearing about Dave’s poison garden (and it was not used in the murder).  The chapters are very short and choppy (it was annoying).  I hope the next book in A Mainely Needlepoint Mystery series is better.  It is Tightening the Threads and will be out in March 2017.

May all of you have a relaxing evening.  We need to get in all the rest we can before the busy holiday season is upon us.  I am reading Search for the Dead by Sheila Connolly (I had to finish another book last night before I could start this one).  See you tomorrow. Take care and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader

The Graces

Can you believe it is the last Friday in October?  The month has gone by so quickly.  I want to tell you about a new novel by Barbara Hinske.  It is called The Christmas Club and it will be available on November 1 on Amazon.  Also coming out November 1 is Faithful by Alice Hoffman.

The Graces by Laure Eve is a young adult novel about River and her obsession with the family called The Graces.  River (the name she gave herself) and her mother just moved to town.  Her mother thought they needed a new start after the dad took off (well, he just disappeared).  At her new school, there are three students that intrigued her.  Summer, Thalia, and Fen Grace.  People call them witches and River is instantly intrigued.  She wants proof and would also like to date Fen.  She finds a way to get noticed and get invited into the inner circle.  Will it be all she hoped for?  What happens when it all goes away?

The Graces reads more like River’s diary.  We get subjected to River’s thoughts and feelings (normal teenage angst).  It is the typical drivel of a teenager attracted to a boy and who wants to be with the in people.  I found it to be very boring and hard to read.  This blurb made this book sound like a thriller (not even a hint of thrill).  Instead I am trying to keep my eyes open and finish it (this is where my speed reading skills come in handy).  I give The Graces 2 out of 5 stars.  It had potential, but it was not fulfilled.

I hope everyone has a fantastic Friday!  I will be back later with another one of my honest reviews.  If you enjoy my book evaluations, please consider becoming a follower (at right).  Take care and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Shadow Silence

Happy Thursday!  I hope everyone is having a great day.  I want to tell you about a new book that came out today.  It is Search for the Dead by Sheila Connolly.  It is the fifth book in the Relatively Dead Mysteries.   If you have not read any of the novels in this series, you should definitely check it out.  I have been impatiently waiting for this book (I will be up late tonight)!

Shadow Silence by Yasmine Galenorn is the second book in the Whisper Hollow series.  Kerris Fellwater is spirit shaman, and she is responsible for getting the dead to pass over.  Kerris left Whisper Hollow when she was eighteen and did not return for fifteen years (because of abusive grandfather).  Kerris has returned to take over for her Grandmother Lila who passed away.  Kerris is learning her job with the help of Grandma Lila’s journal.  She also has help from Bryan, her protector, guardian, and boyfriend.  Kerris’ friend, Peggin has to find a new place to live.  She has decided to buy a beautiful old Victorian in the Foggy Downs subdivision.  There are ten houses but only two of them are occupied.  It is dangerous to live there because of the Lady.  The Lady lives in the nearby lake and she devours souls.  Her siren song lures them to the lake where the Lady captures them.  Kerris tries to talk Peggin out of buying the house, but she is determined (even though the Lady has been very ravenous of late).  Others tell Kerris to stop trying to talk Peggin out of her purchase (they all should be trying to talk Peggin out of buying this house).  So Kerris reluctantly helps Peggin move into her new home.  Soon Peggin disappears (it is the same day) and they frantically look for her.  Kerris, Bryan, and Dr. Divine (Peggin’s boyfriend) see her on the pier and then are running to save her from the Lady.    They are able to rescue her from the Lady, but Peggin has been marked.  The Lady is angry that she was thwarted and she will not be stopped.  Can Kerris and her friends save Peggin from the Lady?

I had a hard time reading Shadow Silence.  It took me three days to work my way through this novel (I normally finish a book in just a few hours).  This book sounded so interesting, but I found it to be extremely predictable.  Why would you buy a house near the lake?  And then are shocked when the Lady lures you in?  Shadow Silence can be read alone.  All the information from the first book, Autumn Thorns is rehashed in Shadow Silence.  The author repeats the same information over and over (for example that Bryan’s her boyfriend and lover; that she was gone for fifteen years; Dr. Divine and his sculptures that come to life).  The writer is very descriptive.  She describes everything in extreme detail.  I never connected with the characters in this book especially Kerris.  I give Shadow Silence 2 out of 5 stars.  I told you about the main storyline, but there are several side stories going on.  There are many characters in the book (I could not keep track of all of them).  I should mention the foul language and explicit sex scenes (this book should be X-rated).  I will not be continuing with the Whisper Hollow series.  

I am off to enjoy my evening.  Thank you so much for stopping by and reading my review.  I hope all of you have a lovely, relaxing night.  Take care and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

From This Day Forward

I hope all of you have had a delightful Tuesday.  I was kept busy with housework, review writing, and cookie baking.  My mother does love her cookies (I do not eat cookies).  My children (the dogs) love peanut butter cookies.  I bake them organic cookies for their treat (they have to perform a trick to get one).

From This Day Forward by Lauraine Snelling is the conclusion to Song of Blessing series.  Deborah MacCallister is the head nurse at the hospital in Blessing, North Dakota.  Deborah also handles many of the administrative tasks.  Deborah is helping Anji and Thomas Devlin to get ready for their wedding and she wonders if she will ever get married.  Deborah is twenty-five and has been in love with Toby Valders since they were in school.  But Deborah is not sure that Toby reciprocates her feelings.  The town is growing by leaps and bounds.  The only problem is lack of help.  They need more workers to help with the construction.  The high school needs a new teacher and Jonathon recommends his cousin, Anton Gendarme.  Anton is a handsome fellow and the ladies in town decide to fix him up with Deborah.  They go out of their way to push the two of them together.  Deborah enjoys Anton’s company, but her heart belongs to Toby.  Toby is extremely busy with the new building projects and only has time to sleep.  Deborah decides to help him out by leaving him food and doing his laundry.  Toby starts leaving little notes for Deborah (its progress).  Then Deborah leaves town for some long overdue training.  Will Toby realize that his future belongs with Deborah?  Read From This Day Forward to see how Ingeborg Bjorklund, her family, and friends are faring in Blessing.

From This Day Forward had a slower pace than the other novels in the series.  It is mostly about the daily lives of the Bjorklund family and friends in Blessing.  We get to see how everyone is faring in Blessing and get a nice conclusion to the series.  The book was just not as special as Lauraine Snelling’s other novels (she can do so much better).  It is hard to pinpoint but something was missing.  The book is well-written, but I found the book to be predictable.  I give From This Day Forward 3 out of 5 stars.  I thought too much time was devoted to Deborah thinking about Toby, her life, what was Toby thinking, is Anton the right guy for her, Toby versus Anton, etc.  I wanted to shake Deborah and tell her to grow up (put on her big girl panties and go talk to Toby).  There is also quite a bit of time devoted to prayer (several times each chapter).  Prayer is wonderful and essential in life (my personal feelings), but it seemed more like filler in the book.  The novel was longer than it needed to be.  I felt is needed some editing and it would have made it a better book.  From This Day Forward is not a stand-alone novel.  If you try to read this book without having enjoyed the other novels in the series, you will be lost.  You would also need to read more than the book in the Song of Blessing series.  You would need to go back to the very beginning to the Red River of the North series (which is wonderfully written and heartwarming). 

Thank you so much for visiting.  I hope all of you have a good evening.  I hope you get some time to yourself to relax and do something you love (like reading)!  I am off to enjoy Arrow, Frequency, Younger, Survivor, Code Black, and Designated Survivor (busy television night).  I read during the commercials.  Take care and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader

The Crepes of Wrath

Welcome to my blog!  I hope everyone is having a great morning! I wanted to let you know that Spare Change by Bette Lee Crosby is free on Amazon (and some other sites) for a limited time.  It is the first book in her Wyattsville series.  Bette Lee Crosby writes such lovely, heartwarming novels with a Christian theme.

The Crepes of Wrath by Sarah Fox is the first book in A Pancake House Mystery series.  Marley McKinney has agreed to The Flip Side Pancake House in Wildwood Cove, Washington while her cousin, Jimmy Coulson, is ill (double pneumonia).  She has taken a leave of absence from the law firm where she works as a legal assistant.  Jimmy finally gets released from the hospital and is at home resting.  But then Jimmy is found dead on the rocks by Leigh Hunter (a waitress at the restaurant) of a cliff near his home.  Did he accidentally fall down the cliff while walking?  What was he doing out alone?  Then there is the guy lurking around her cousin’s workshop and the stolen paintings inside the workshop.  Did Jimmy steal them?  Marley does not want Jimmy’s good name tainted and, reluctantly, starts asking questions.  Will Marley be able to pull out the pieces together to figure out the puzzle?

I found The Crepes of Wrath to be easy to read, but it was a lifeless book.  The characters were not fleshed out and given life.  This is especially true for Ivan, the chef.  The pace is too slow and some information is repeated frequently (it was annoying).  The mystery was not prominent in the book (at least not in the beginning).  I was 35% of the way through the book and there was still no investigation.  The mystery was interesting (there were even some little twists), but the reader can solve it.  I give The Crepes of Wrath 2 out of 5 stars.  It was okay for a first book, but some things were just off.  Like where were the police?  Why was Marley removing evidence from a crime scene?  Marley notices a clue that no one else found.  These are just two examples.  Not everything added up in the end.  The book reminded me of a rough draft, not a finished novel. The next book in A Pancake House Mystery series is For Whom the Bread Rolls and it will be out in March 2017.

Thank you for your visit.  I will be back later to review From This Day Forward by Lauraine Snelling.  Take care and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Dying for Strawberries

Dying for Strawberries by Sharon Farrow is the first book in A Berry Basket Mystery.  Marlee Jacobs owns the Berry Basket in Oriole Point, Michigan.  Marlee opened the store where she sells berries and berry related items two years ago after leaving New York (a murder ended her career at the Gourmet Living Network).  Marlee is getting ready for the Strawberry Moon Bash that will be held on Friday when her friend, Natasha Bowman comes into the store.  Natasha is married to Cole Bowman who physically abuses his wife (but she refuses to leave him).  Later that day, Natasha and Cole have a big fight.  Natasha has not been seen since then.    At a business meeting that evening, they find out that a lot known as strawberry fields has been sold to Taylor Investments.  Taylor Investments is owned by Cole Bowman.  If Cole’s plans go through, all the small businesses in town will be out of business.  Of course, it turns out that he owns many of those buildings as well including Marlee’s (which he is selling to outsiders).  The next night Marlee is waiting for Ryan, her fiancé, at the marina when someone comes up behind her and whacks her on the end.  They then push her into the water.  But no one believes her story (she had been drinking).  Marlee is worried about Natasha.  Marlee feels the police are not being proactive and sets out to get answers.  She starts asking questions (alienating her fellow shop owners).  Marlee then searches Cole and Natasha’s house for clues.  Instead she finds Cole dead on his doorstep.  Marlee has more questions than answers.  She is determined to find her friend as well as Cole’s killer.  Marlee is sure the attempt on her life is connected.  Will Marlee find the culprit or be another victim?

Dying for Strawberries is the first book in the series, but it did not feel like it.  It felt more like a book in the middle of a series.  The reader was missing information.  There is also way too much going on in this book.  It was one thing after another.  Marlee has to deal with her store, her fiancé, Natasha is missing, Cole’s murder, the development of strawberry fields, the future of her shop since Cole is determined to sell the building (he does not like Marlee), Marlee’s attempted murder, the secrets of the zoning commissioners, and Marlee’s nemesis from New York.  The book is easy to read and can be finished in about three hours (if you just sit and read).  I had a hard time liking Marlee especially after she began her questioning.  She was pushy, rude, and annoying (no one taught her the art of subtlety).  Marlee felt she was entitled to these people’s secrets since someone whacked her on the head (maybe the head whack caused some damage).  I did enjoy the mystery.  It was the best part of the book.  I give Dying for Strawberries 3 out of 5 stars (the good mystery raised the score).   I am not sure if I will read the next book in A Berry Basket Mystery series.  Knowing me, I will probably give the series one more chance.

Thank you so much for visiting and reading my book review.  May all of you have a lovely evening.  I will return tomorrow to share another book with you.  Take care and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader

Monday, October 24, 2016

Fatal Frost

I hope everyone had a lovely Monday!  I was walking through my living room at about 3 a.m. and heard some noises.  I stopped to listen and heard them again.  The noises are coming from the attic (which is just a small storage area). Something is scampering around in our attic! Unfortunately, it is my job to take care of it. Can I hope it is a cute little scampering kitten?

Fatal Frost by Karen MacInerney is the second book in A Dewberry Farm Mysteries.  It is mid-December in Buttercup, Texas.  Lucy Resnick (who owns Dewberry Farm) is soundly asleep until her dog, Chuck (a cute little apricot poodle) starts barking.  Lucy gets up to investigate and sees a shadowy figure outside near the river.  Lucy leaves Chuck inside (not a good idea) and heads outside the investigate.  Lucy notices holes in the ground before she is hit hard on the head and knocked unconscious.  Lucy wakes up quite a while later with a big bump on her head.  Someone is definitely digging on her property and they damaged her peach trees and the dewberry patch.  Someone is looking for hidden Confederate treasure.  Evidently the old treasure story has been resurrected.  Lucy then receives a call from Quinn, friend and owner of the Blue Onion.  Krystal Jenkins did not show up for work (she wants Lucy to come in and help).  Unfortunately for Quinn, Lucy has other plans.  Lucy is heading to Peter’s house to pick up her new goats, Hot Lips and Gidget (can you imagine calling a goat Hot Lips).  While loading up the goats, they smell smoke.  A small white house nearby is on fire.  They hurry over to the house and Peter (a volunteer firefighter) rushes in.  He brings out a woman and a small dog.  The woman, unfortunately, is dead, but not from the fire (I bet you can guess the woman’s identity).  The woman is Krystal Jenkins.  Krystal recently had a very public fight with Lucy’s friend, Molly Kramer at the Blue Onion.  Krystal recruited Molly’s daughter, Britt for this strange Church that started nearby called Word of the Lord.  They are against the commercialization of Christmas and protested the Christmas Market.  Sheriff Rooster Kocurek feels that makes Molly the number one suspect (he is not known for his work ethic).  Lucy is not going to let her friend get railroaded.  Lucy starts looking into Krystal’s life in Buttercup.  But someone does not want Lucy discovering the truth.  Will Lucy be able to find the real killer?  Lucy’s plate is very full this December.  She needs to find a killer, deal with her new goats who have a knack for escaping, her parents are visiting, her truck is acting up, and let’s not forget the rogue treasure hunter.  Join Lucy and her friends in Fatal Frost.

Fatal Frost was an easy to read novel with interesting characters (there are quite a few).  I enjoyed following the clues to solve the mystery.  The mystery can be solved before the killer is revealed if you pay close attention (you should be able to know who it is after the person is introduced).  I did think that there was too much going on in the book.  I did not mention everything in my synopsis (there is much more).  There was just one thing after another including escaping goats and poison pen letters.  Fatal Frost is the second book in the series, but you can easily read it as a stand-alone novel.  I give Fatal Frost 4 out of 5 stars.  I liked the paranormal element and wished there had been more of it in the book.  While I did think there was too much going on, I am curious to see what happens next with Lucy.   The first book in Dewberry Farm Mysteries is Killer Jam.  Both books are available on the Kindle Unlimited program on Amazon.

Do not forget that tomorrow is book release day!  There are some wonderful new books are coming out (I will post the titles tomorrow).  I hope all of you have a lovely evening.  Take care and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader

The Underground Railroad

Welcome Back!  I hope all of you have had a wonderful weekend. I wanted to share a new book with you by Barbara Hinske.  It is titled The Christmas Club.  It is schedule to be released on November 1, but I noticed it is already available on Amazon.  It is available under the Kindle Unlimited program and for Kindle Prime members.  I hope you will take a moment to check out this new title.

The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead tells the story of Cora and her life as a slave.  Cora is a slave in Georgia.  Cora is the daughter of Mabel and the granddaughter of Ajarry.  After Cora’s mother escaped, Cora was alone.  Cora is treated horribly by the other slaves.  She gets thrown out of the where she was living with her mother and is forced to move into the Hob (a house for the slave outcasts).  One day Cora is approached by Caesar.  Caesar is a new to the plantation.  His previous owner was a kind woman who taught him to read.  She had promised Caesar his freedom upon her death, but she did not keep her promise.  Caesar tells Cora about the Underground Railroad.  The two of them form a plan and one day they take off.  Unfortunately, things do not go quite as planned.  Lovey, a fellow slave, follows them (she had been watching them).  They are going through the swamps to make capture more difficult, but they did not anticipate hog hunters.  The hunters realize they are runaway slaves and attempt to capture them.  One of the hunters (just a boy really) ends up dead from a rock.  Cora is now wanted for murder.  Lovey ends up getting captured.  Cora and Caesar quickly make their way to the first stop for them on the Underground Railroad.  They are in for quite a journey.  Some of the stops will be quick and others will be quite lengthy.  Will they ever be completely free or will they continue to be hunted (especially Cora)?  Ridgeway is a slave hunter who has something to prove.  Ridgeway was given the task of finding Cora’s mother, Mabel.  He was never able to capture her.  Ridgeway is very determined to return Cora to her owner.  To find out what happens to Cora and Caesar, you will have to read TheUnderground Railroad.

The Underground Railroad is a very dark novel.   The majority of the novel focuses on Cora (poor Caesar).  I found the writing to be awkward and difficult to read (I just did not like the author's writing style). The book lacks flow.  First we are with Cora, then it jumps to someone else, then back to Cora, and then to another character.  It will also go back in time to tell you the backstory of the latest character (when Cora meets someone new on the Underground Railroad).  It makes it hard to read and to get into the story.   I was able to finish the book, but I did not like it or enjoy it (sorry).  You need to be aware that The Underground Railroad contains very graphic violence.  Some of the violence is very disturbing and upsetting.  I give The Underground Railroad 2 out of 5 stars.  I did like Colson Whitehead’s take on the Underground Railroad.  He had tunnels running all over the United States and actual trains.  I was curious, though, how people above ground did not hear the loud engines of the trains.  Mr. Whitehead did capture the time and place quite accurately. The ending was extremely dissatisfying.

I will return soon with another review.  May all of you have a special day! You deserve it.  Take care and Happy Reading!


The Avid Reader

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Curious Minds

It's the beginning of a new week!  I hope everyone is having a nice, relaxing Sunday!  Aimee Runyan has a new novel coming out on Tuesday, October 25.  It is Duty to the Crown and is the second book in Daughters of New France Series.  The first book in the series Promised to the Crown was very good.  I am looking forward to reading the second installment.

Curious Minds by Janet Evanovich is A Knight-Moon Novel (first book in a new series).  Riley Moon has just graduated Harvard Business and Harvard Law and has landed her dream job as a junior analyst at Blane-Grunewald in Washington, D.C.  The second week on the job her boss Werner assigns her to Emerson Knight.  Emerson Knight lives in Mysterioso Manor and is very eccentric.  The bank has sent him numerous requests to visit since the death of Emerson’s father, but he has ignored each and every one of them.  So, the bank sends Riley to Emerson.  Riley is actually glad to get away from the office.  Her boss is slightly smarmy and keeps calling her “Moonbeam”.  Emerson presents Riley with an unusual request.  He wants his gold (he owns actual gold bars).  Riley explains that it is not that easy.  So, Emerson will settle for seeing his gold and he would like a meeting with Gunter Grunwald.  Emerson’s simple requests turn out to be not so simple.  Gunter has disappeared.  There is also money missing from six clients (Emerson is one of them).  Riley and Emerson set out to get answers.  They are in for one thrilling and dangerous adventure. 

Curious Minds had some snippets that I liked, but, for the most part, I did not enjoy Curious Minds.  It was too silly to be enjoyable.  We have an extremely eccentric millionaire.  Emerson wears Converse sneakers (I liked that part), sleeps in a tent in the library, the weird house, the various zoo animals, extremely brilliant, etc.  Emerson is many various characters slapped together (Sherlock Holmes for one and Richey Rich is another—I am dating myself with this reference).  Let us not forget his Aunt Myra and the pet armadillo.  I found the characters to be flat. If there is supposed to be chemistry between Riley and Emerson, I did not feel it.  The “mystery” is no mystery.  It is a storyline that must play out (we are not given the opportunity to solve the mystery).  We follow Riley and Emerson as they investigate the gold issue and the bad bank men (another cliché).  I was very disappointed by Curious Minds.  It is not my type of story.  I prefer more serious mystery novels (with a mystery that I can try and solve).  I am just not a fan of slap stick comedy (I do not like the Three Stooges either).  I give Curious Minds 2 out of 5 stars.  I will be steering clear of this series in the future.  

I want to thank you for reading my latest review.  I appreciate it.  I am off to enjoy some Chinese food.  I do not have to cook this Sunday (all of us our sick).  I finally found a great Chinese restaurant in my town. The food is fabulous.  I will see you tomorrow for my review of Fatal Frost by Karen MacInerney. Have a delightful evening, take care and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader

Saturday, October 22, 2016


Happy Saturday!  I hope everyone is having a lovely fall day.  It was actually a little cool last night (which means high 60s).  It was just wonderful.  It has been so long since we have had cool weather. In Florida it means we switch out the tank top for a t-shirt!  My Siberian Husky, Wolfie is reveling in the coolness outside!

Teetotaled by Maia Chance is the second book the Discreet Retrieval Agency Mysteries.  Lola Woodby is a thirty-one-year-old widow living in New York.  Lola has started the Discreet Retrieval Agency with Berta Lundgren (a former cook).  They have not had much luck in finding paying cases.  If they do not get some money soon, they will out on the street.  Luck comes through their door in the form of Sophronia Widdle, a New York society lady, who wishes the ladies to retrieve her daughter’s diary (she wants to know what her daughter is up to).  Her daughter, Grace is very protective of her diary.  She keeps the older versions in a safe in her room and the current book does not leave her side (at night she keeps it under her pillow).  Grace is currently spending the week before her wedding to Gilbert Morris at Willow Acres (a health farm).  Lola calls her brother-in-law, Dr. Chisholm Woodby (who will soon be marrying Lola’s sister, Lillian) who runs Willow Acres to get them two rooms.  Lola and Berta believe they can get the diary quickly and head back home (because the food leaves something to be desired).  Unfortunately, you know what they say about best laid plans!  Locked rooms and a diligent nurse keep them from getting the diary during the first two days of their stay.  Then their target, Grace flies the coop.  She has decided to elope and thwart her mother.  Lola and Berta are about to pack up and head home when they hear a scream.  Muffy Morris, who was to be Grace’s mother-in-law, is dead in her room (wife of a Senator Winfield Morris).  After speaking with the police, Lola and Berta can leave.  In the parking lot is Senator Morris.  He wishes to hire the Discreet Retrieval Agency.  He needs them to find the killer discreetly.  The senator does not want any negative publicity.  They take the case and set out to find the culprit.  It is a good thing they have a new case, because Mrs. Widdle fires them (it is not their fault Grace took off).   Lola and Berta have their work cut out for them.  Will they be able to solve the case and get their much-needed fee?

Teetotaled is the second book in the series, and, as I discovered, you do need to read the first book in series.  The author tries to update the reader, but I was definitely out of the loop.  There was information from the first book that the reader needs to understand Lola’s situation (not for the mystery though).  I found Teetotaled easy to read and it contained a complex mystery.  There are inconsistencies (a few of them).  Lola is told the doors to the rooms at Willow Acres are locked at night and during the day.  Then Lola is shocked when she finds the doors locked.  This is just one example.  Lola is a hard character to like.  She is a grown woman who is afraid to tell her mother about her current circumstances (broke and now working as a private investigator).  I preferred Berta and wished she was more dominant in the novel (she is very much in the background).  The author tries to capture the 20s feel with phrases from that era.  She tosses them around like confetti.  I give Teetotaled 3 out of 5 stars (it was okay).  The mystery was the best part of the book (which helped raise the score).  Teetotaled was just not for me.  I will not be continuing with this series.  The first book in Discreet Retrieval Agency Mysteries is Come Hell or Highball.

Thank you so much for stopping my!  I appreciate you taking time out of your day.  I am off to enjoy my dinner and finish my novel.  I will be back tomorrow.  I hope all of you have a delightful evening. There is a new Good Witch movie on Hallmark tonight. Take care and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader

Friday, October 21, 2016

A Christmas Secret

Happy Friday!  I hope all of you had a delightful day!  Christmas Angels by Viola Shipman will be out on Tuesday, October 25 along with Pocketbooks and Pistols by Dorothy Howell.  

The Christmas Secret by Wanda E. Brunstetter is set in Allentown, Pennsylvania in November of 1880.  Elizabeth Canning is getting ready to marry David Stinner on Christmas Eve (which is also Elizabeth’s birthday).  They will be living in a cabin built by Elizabeth’s grandfather and it is very special to Elizabeth.  While cleaning out the cabin, Elizabeth finds a journal written by her Aunt Lovina (she grew up in the cabin along with Elizabeth’s mother).  The first entry dates back to Lovina’s sixteenth birthday.  Elizabeth starts reading the journal and discovers a startling secret that will ruin her life and affect others.  Elizabeth only tells the devastating secret to her friend, Helen.  Elizabeth calls off the wedding and quickly leaves town to stay with her grandparents.  David does not understand why Elizabeth called off their wedding.  David sets out to find Elizabeth and get answers.  Will David and Elizabeth be able to overcome the obstacle thrown in their path?  You will have to read The Christmas Secret to see if David and Elizabeth make it to the alter on Christmas Eve.

The Christmas Secret is a sweet short story (it is a novella not a full-length book).  It is nicely written and easy to read (good flow).  It can easily be finished in an hour.  I did, though, find it predictable and reminiscent of something I have read previously.  Once the secret was revealed I knew what would happen.  It is really not a Christmas story.  It is set during Christmas, but it is a historical romance novella.  It is a nice story, but I just expected more from this author.  I give The Christmas Secret 3.5 out of 5 stars.  It has nice messages about the power of love, prayer, faith, and forgiveness.

I am off to relax for the night.  I am not chatty today due to lack of sleep! My mother has been up the last two nights, and she is not known to be quiet!  She still talks loudly into the phone when talking to someone long distance (we keep telling her that they can hear her).  I am hoping for a good nights sleep tonight!  Wish me luck.  Have a great evening, take care and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Behind Chocolate Bars

How is everyone this Thursday?  I hope you have had a good day. Some new cozy mysteries come out next Tuesday.  A couple of them are Eggnog Murder by Leslie Meier, Dying for Strawberries by Sharon Farrow, and Dangling by a Thread by Lea Wait.  These are just three of the books that will be released next week!  

Behind Chocolate Bars by Kathy Aarons is the third book in A Chocolate Covered Mystery series.  Michelle Serrano is a chocolatier and part owner of Chocolate and Chapters in West Riverdale, Maryland.  Her best friend, Erica Russell is the owner of the Chapters part of the store (the book section).  Michelle is dating reporter and author Benjamin “Bean” Russell.  They are at the store when they hear about a body being found at the community center at Green Meadow Estates.  Dylan Fenton, their intern and a member of their comic book club, gets picked up for questioning.    Dylan gets picked up for questioning.  Michelle and Erica quickly jump in to help Dylan who has had a rough time (a situation with his mother from a previous book).  It turns out that the police found Dylan’s Green Lantern ring and keys at the dump site.  When Erica and Michelle try to get information out of Dylan or any of the other comic book club members, they are met with silence.  They group is hiding something.  Michelle wants to help Dylan.  The victim turns out to be Faith Monette.  Faith was not a nice person.  It turns out that she catfished people online (which they found out by downloading a copy of her hard drive).  One of her victims is Oscar Fenton, Dylan’s father.  This is not good news for Dylan.  Michelle with help from her friends sets out to get answers.  One problem is her brother, Leo.  Leo’s PTSD and depression have returned since a car accident (his girlfriend, Star was with him).  Leo is being irrational (and a little nutting) and has taken to following Michelle (and then reporting her to the police).  Michelle needs to make sure he is taking his medication and seeing his counselor.  Leo is not helping Michelle’s inquiries.  In addition, Michelle is busy helping prepare for the West Riverdale Halloween Festival.  They are helping the Boys and Girls Club with their haunted house (it sounds delightfully spooky).  It is a busy time for Michelle, but she will not let an innocent kid go to jail.  Will Michelle be able to find Faith Monette’s real killer before Dylan gets hauled out of the zombie jail and into the police station?

Behind Chocolate Bars has some good writing, but I thought there was too much going on in the book.  There are so many characters that it hard to keep them all straight (I stuck to the main ones).  We get to follow Michelle as she investigates every single lead.  She checks out all the various men Faith catfished, her friends, neighbors, enemies, etc.  We also have Reese Everhard, the idiotic town reporter/blogger, who I would have liked to put on a catapult and send her to the next county.  I do not believe ever heard of journalistic ethics (or checking her facts).  The killer was expected (aka predictable) which was disappointing.  I kept wanting a twist that would leave me gasping with surprise (and shock).  I give Behind Chocolate Bars 3 out of 5 stars (it was okay).  The characters just seemed to jump from one situation to another (too much going on) leaving the novel with a lack of flow.  The readers are subjected to many chocolate descriptions in the book as Michelle makes the delectable delights for the shop.  I would have preferred more time spent on the mystery.  I also did not like the addition of Leo and his troubles (PTSD).  It was not needed in this book.  It seemed like the situation was added as an afterthought.  While Behind Chocolate Bars is the third book in the series, it can be read as a stand-alone novel.  I am not sure if I will read the next book in the series.  It depends on the content.  The other two novels in A Chocolate Covered Mystery series are Death is Like a Box of Chocolates and Truffled to Death.

May all of you have a blessed evening.  Everyone deserves time to relax and enjoy themselves (I know I need it at the end of the day). I am currently reading Eggnog Murder by Leslie Meier.  I have gotten a wee bit behind on my reading this month.  My mother has needed more care than usual lately.  I will return tomorrow!  Take care and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader