Friday, July 21, 2017

The House of Memory: A Pluto's Snitch Mystery

Thank you for stopping by today.  Carolyn Haines is the author A Sarah Booth Delaney Mystery series, Fear Familiar series, The Pluto's Snitch series and Familiar Trouble.  Fans of her work can like her author page on Facebook, follow her on Amazon and Goodreads.  You can find out more information about Ms. Haines and her books on her website (  You can also sign up for her mailing list on her website.

The House of Memory by Carolyn Haines is the second book in The Pluto’s Snitch series.  Raissa James and Reginald Proctor are traveling toward Montgomery on a steamship for their latest case. Raissa and Reginald are partners in the Pluto’s Snitch PI Agency that specializes in the occult.  Zelda Sayre (aka Mrs. F. Scott Fitzgerald) needs their help with her friend, Camilla Granger.  Camilla is engaged to marry David Simpson.  David was showing Camilla their new home when she became violent and attacked with him a knife. Camilla has no memory of the event.  After a second incident, Camilla agreed to be admitted to Bryce Hospital.  Camilla’s overbearing mother, Maude Granger will soon take drastic measures if Camilla’s situation is not rectified.  While staying in Montgomery, Raissa hears about the rash of young women who have gone missing in the area and later are found deceased—and the deceased want Raissa’s help!  What caused Camilla to attack her fiancé and who is hurting these young women?  Tag along on Raissa and Reginald’s latest case in The House of Memory.

When I started reading The House of Memory, I was drawn into the story.  After a while, though, my interest started to wane.  The pace of the novel slackened and the numerous details bog down the story.  An irritation (to me) is the constant repetition of information.  The details of the cases are repeated over and over (it is odd, though, that we are never told what year it is).  There are some good ideas present, but I just felt it needed some work (nothing a little rewriting and a good editor couldn’t fix).  My rating for The House of Memory is 3 out of 5 stars.  The mystery of the missing girls was straightforward and identifying the culprit was a snap.  I did appreciate the mystery behind Camilla’s odd behavior.  I do wish the author would have Raissa embrace her gift (and learn more about it).  It feels like she is flirting with the paranormal, but is not sure if she wants to make a commitment.  The House of Memory is the second book in the series, but it can be read alone.  The author rehashes what occurred in The Book of Beloved. At the end of The House of Memory, we are given a glimpse at Raissa and Reginald’s next case.  The House of Memory is available on Kindle Unlimited.

I hope you have found my review helpful.  I am currently reading The Forgotten Family of Liverpool by Pam Howes.  May you have a incredible day.  I will be sharing my thoughts on 30 Second Death by Laura Bradford (A Tobi Tobias Mystery).  Take care and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader

Thursday, July 20, 2017

A Name Unknown by Roseanna M. White

Welcome!  Roseanna M. White is a Christian author who has written Ladies of the Manor series, Culper Ring series, and Giver of Wonders.  Ms. White can be found on Facebook, Goodreads, and Amazon
A Name Unknown is the first book in Shadows over England series by Roseanna M. White.  We are taken back to 1914 when tensions are on the rise throughout Europe (war has yet to break out).  Rosemary Gresham is a thief in London who helps support her “family”.  The group consists of twelve orphans who have banded together and become a family.  Rosemary has done two previous jobs for Mr. V and now he is offering her a third with a handsome payout.   Mr. V wants Rosemary to find documented proof of Peter Holstein’s loyalties.  He is loyal to England or Germany? Peter is of German descent and has the ear of the King of England, George V.   War is sure to be declared soon and time is of the essence.  Peter has just returned home to Kensey Manor from London.  He is happy to be away from the crowds and return to his writing.  Peter needs important documents to be found in his library or what his friend, Gryffyn calls the cave.  With troubling times coming, he needs the documents that prove his nationality (his loyalty).  Rosemary arrives as a librarian to apply for the position Peter has available (to sort the items in the cave).  As time passes, Peter’s character is revealed to Rosemary.  He is a kind, Christian man, but few people get to know Peter because of his stutter.  Will Rosemary find the documentation she needs to complete the job?  Or will she find a far greater prize in Cornwall?

A Name Unknown is set in beautiful Cornwall.  I thought the story idea was interesting (and the cover is just lovely), but the execution (for me) was lacking.  The book starts out with a good pace, but then it slows down to a crawl.  The story gets bogged down (too much detail), and I felt like I was sinking in quicksand (I kept looking to see if I was any closer to the end).  A little rewriting and editing would have made a significant difference.  My rating for A Name Unknown is 3 out of 5 stars.  The Christian element is moderate (just the right amount).  Peter is a Christian man who prays and leads by example (many people look up to him and correspond with him).  I particularly enjoyed Rosemary finding comfort in the Bible and God (becoming a Christian).  It was the best part of the book.  The mystery element was not complicated, and I easily identified the culprit. The mysterious Mr. V was an intriguing figure, and I believe people will be surprised by his motives.  The romance plays out slowly over the course of book and had an expected outcome.  A Name Unknown does have a charming ending.   A Name Unknown has some good elements, but I was not wowed.  It needs some reworking to improve the flow and eliminate the extraneous (it is too long).  

I wanted to let you know that Tamera Alexander's To Wager Her Heart will be published on August 8. It is the third A Belle Meade Plantation Novel.  May you have a very special day.  I will return on Friday to review The House of Memory by Carolyn Haines.  Take care and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader 

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Familiar Trouble: A Familiar Legacy Novel

Greetings!  I had the best surprise this weekend.  A neighbor that I have not met before saw me outside and asked if I owned a calico cat.  Miss Penny, our long haired calico, disappeared almost a year ago from our yard (an escapee), and I was never able to find her (despite my walking and driving around calling her name).  She has been two houses down this entire time!  Miss Penny lucked out finding such kind people to take care of her.  My mother and I are thrilled to have her home.  

Familiar Trouble by Carolyn Haines is the first book in Familiar Legacy series.  Tammy Lynn owns the Book Basket in Wetumpka, Alabama where she lives with her cat, Trouble.  Tammy is at Rook’s Vantage stargazing when she hears a noise.  She walks over, investigates and is attacked by a person in black.  Tammy ends up unconscious. When she awakes, she finds that all four tires of her vehicle have been slashed.  Deputy Aiden Waters transferred to Wetumpka six months prior.  He is on the trail of the Silk Stalking Killer (SSK) who killed his wife.  Debby Caldwell, a local bank worker, has disappeared and Trouble has found a vital clue near where Tammy was attacked.  Did Tammy interrupt SSK the night before?  Aiden has begun to care for Tammy and now her life is threatened. He does not want to lose another woman he cares about to this serial killer. Trouble puts his detective skills to work to help Aiden and Tammy catch the elusive SSK.  

Familiar Trouble is a spin-off of the Familiar series by Carolyn Haines.  In this series, we are introduced to Trouble, Familiar’s son who is a fan of Sherlock Holmes.  I thought Familiar Trouble was an easy to read cozy mystery.  I enjoyed the sections written in Trouble’s point-of-views.    I found them entertaining and would have enjoyed more.   My rating for Familiar Trouble is 3 out of 5 stars. I felt, though, that the characters lacked depth.  The author did not provide enough background detail on Tammy Lynn (more detail is provided on Trouble than Tammy).  The mystery idea was interesting, but I identified the killer before the first body turned up.   There is a small suspect pool and one individual stood out.  It would have been better if the author had included more action and had upped the suspense factor.  The romance factor is prominent and moves quickly.  I found many details repeated several times throughout the story (like the author was padding the story).  If you are burnt out and looking for a little light reading, then take a look at Familiar Trouble.  The next book in the series is Trouble in Dixie by Rebecca Barrett.  It turns out (I found this out after I read the book) that each book in the Familiar Legacy series is being written by a different author (and seem to have different main characters--Trouble is the one constant).

I appreciate you reading my latest review.  I am currently reading The Dream Keeper's Daughter by Emily Colin (it is way too long).  May each of you have a wonderful day.  I will be reviewing A Name Unknown by Roseanna M. White next time.  Take care and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Killer Party: A Tourist Trap Mystery

I hope you are having a good week.  Killer Party by Lynn Cahoon, Room for Doubt by Nancy Cole Silverman, The Strange Disappearance of a Bollywood Star by Vaseem Kahn and Dead Storage by Mary Feliz were published today.   Lynn Cahoon is the writer of A Tourist Trap Mystery series and A Cat Latimer Mystery series.  Lynn Cahoon can be found on Facebook and more details about her books on her website.  

Killer Party by Lynn Cahoon is the ninth book in A Tourist Trap Mystery series.  Jill Gardner is packing for a weekend getaway with her boyfriend, Greg King and his friends.  Greg’s childhood friend, Levi Walker is getting married, and he is holding a stag party weekend in South Cove at The Castle.  Jill is looking forward to enjoying the spa services and escaping Aunt Jackie’s wedding planning while Greg reconnects with his friends.  On Saturday, the men go on a boat excursion to “fish” (ingest alcohol) while Jill shows the ladies around South Cove (it seems that Greg “volunteered” Jill for the task).  It gives Jill an opportunity to introduce herself to newcomer, Vladimir Petrov who opened a Russian collectibles shop.  Early the next morning (around 4 a.m.), Greg and Jill are awakened by Brenda Morgan, manager of The Castle.  A dead man has been found in the pool.  Greg runs downstairs and discovers it is his friend, Levi.  Because of Greg’s close connection with the victim, he is not allowed to investigate the crime.  Mayor Baylor asks Bakerstown PD to step in.  This does not stop Greg and Jill from conducting their own inquiry into Levi’s murder especially when the detectives focus on Greg.  Could one of Greg’s friends committed this homicide?  Tag along with Jill on her latest adventure in Killer Party.

Killer Party is easy to read, has good writing and has a nice steady pace.  Each book in A Tourist Trap Mystery series builds upon the previous (they are not stand alone books).  We get to know a little more about the characters and see them change/grow.  Killer Party focuses more on the cozy element (food galore, Jill adjusting to living with Greg, Jill out jogging, Emma, shopping, Toby getting over Sasha, Aunt Jackie planning her wedding, Aunt Jackie annoying the employees of the coffee shop, Jill spends a lot of time reading, Jill getting ready for a new class at college, and Aunt Jackie going to the doctor).  It is an easy, breezy type of book that is perfect to read while lounging by the pool or at the beach.  My rating for Killer Party is 3.5 out of 5 stars.  The mystery is made to seem complex.  Unfortunately, I identified the killer before Levi (I just knew he would end up belly up) turned up dead in the pool.  There are a limited number of suspects (one really stands out).  The characters in Killer Party seemed grumpy (especially Aunt Jackie).  I liked how Lynn Cahoon found a way to work Cat Latimer into the story (from Ms. Cahoon’s A Cat Latimer Mystery series).  I believe, though, that Greg and Jill may be moving too fast.  There are still many details they do not know about each other (they really need to talk more).  Killer Party ends with a cliffhanger.  Readers will have to wait until the next A Tourist Trap Mystery to find out what is going on with Aunt Jackie.

For readers who enjoy paranormal mystery novels, Molly Harper's Accidental Sire releases on July 24.  I am a fan of the Half-Moon Hollow series and Ms. Harper did not disappoint with Accidental Sire.  I will be reviewing Familiar Trouble by Carolyn Haines on Wednesday.  May you have a delightful day.  Take care and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader

Monday, July 17, 2017

Abiding Mercy: An Amish Mercies Novel

Thank you for visiting today!  Ruth Reid is the author of A Heaven on Earth series, Amish Wonders series, A Flicker of Hope (a novella), and Always Beautiful (a novella).  Ms. Reid will have a novella in An Amish Christmas Love (September 12, 2017).  Ruth Reid can be found on Facebook, Amazon, Twitter, and her website (

Abiding Mercy by Ruth Reid is An Amish Mercies Novel.  Fifteen years prior in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, Roslyn Colepepper is loading groceries into her car.  She is attacked and her car is stolen with her eighteen-month-old daughter, Adrianna inside.  The FBI are immediately called in.  They soon find the abductors car and watch as it goes over a bridge and into the river.  They do not find any survivors.  Fast forward fifteen years to Posen, Michigan.  Faith Pinkham is sixteen years old and works at her families’ restaurant, The Amish Table with her sister, mother and cousin.  Olivia, Faith’s sister, seems to resent Faith and treats her terribly.  One day they receive a call that their parents, Mordecai and Irma, were in an accident.  It will take them weeks to recover.  In the meantime, they must ensure that the farm chores are done and the restaurant continues to earn money.    Olivia prefers to spend her time with her Englischer friends, and Faith is afraid that Olivia will soon jump the fence.  Luckily, Faith has the help of Gideon Fohrer.  As they spend time together, they grow closer.  On the fifteenth anniversary of Adrianna’s kidnapping, The Detroit News runs an article with a picture of what Adrianna would look like now.  Faith’s parents return home and life is getting back on track.  Then one day Faith’s life changes irrevocably.  Faith now questions who she is and where she belongs.  What does the future hold for her?  Faith is embarking on a journey.  To see what happens to Faith, you will need to read Abiding Mercy.

Abiding Mercy is a well-crafted story.  The book has well-developed characters in an engaging story.  I was drawn into the story and read late into the night.  We get to see both sides of the situation in Abiding Mercy as the novel tells us Faith’s story and the Colepepper’s (mostly Roslyn).  Ms. Reid did a superb job at weaving the past and present together into one appealing story.  My rating for Abiding Mercy is 4.25 out of 5 stars.  I did, though, find it a wee bit predictable.  Partway into the book, I knew how the story would play out.  That did not stop me, though, from devouring the book.  There are a couple of unexpected twists.  I appreciated that the romantic element was light.  I liked the message that God is always with us.  He is there to help and guide us (if we want His help).  I did feel that the ending was a little rushed.  At the end of the book, I am left wondering about the red-haired man.  He is a present in different forms throughout the whole book.  Who is he?  I will be curious to see if he is present in the other books in the series.  I would like to know more about Olivia (she needs a book of her own).  Abiding Mercy is not your traditional (expected) Amish novel (which I welcomed).  I will be eagerly anticipating the next edition in An Amish Mercies series.

Thank you for visiting today.  I will be sharing my thoughts on Killer Party by Lynn Cahoon on Tuesday.  May you have a splendid day.  Take care and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader

Saturday, July 15, 2017

The Writing Desk: A Christian novel by Rachel Hauck

Today I am featuring Christian author Rachel Hauck (click on her name to visit her website).  She is the creator of The Wedding Chapel, The Wedding Dress, The Wedding Shop, A Royal Christmas Wedding, and Royal Wedding series. She is a graduate of Ohio State University (Go Buckeyes!). Readers can follow Rachel on Amazon, Goodreads, and Facebook.  Rachel Hauck is holding a release party on Facebook for The Writing Desk on July 18 at 8 p.m. EST.    

The Writing Desk is the latest novel by Rachel Hauck.  Tenley Roth has just won the Gordon Phipps Roth Award for Outstanding Debut Novelist.  Tenley is the great-great-granddaughter of Gordon Phipps Roth for whom the award is named.  She is supposed to be working on her second book, but Tenley is experiencing writers block (and many doubts about her abilities).   Tenley’s debut book is a hit, but she wonders if it is for her writing prowess or her heritage (Conrad Roth, her father, was also a famous writer).  Her boyfriend, Holt Armstrong is going to France for three months and wants Tenley to join him.  But then Tenley gets a call from her estranged mother, Blanche Albright.  Blanche is starting chemotherapy and needs someone to assist her.  She is asking Tenley to come to Cocoa Beach.  Tenley has been yearning for a connection with her mother and decides this might be the perfect opportunity especially since she is her last relative.  In the library at Blanche’s house is the perfect desk for Tenley to work on her book.  She can tell it has history and it speaks to her.  In the early 1900s, Birdie Shehorn has just obtained her degree from Wellesley.  She is hoping to spend more time on her writing.  Unfortunately, Birdie’s mother is pushing for her to marry Alfonso Van Cliff (a notorious flirt).  Birdie has no desire to be married off to someone she does not love, but her mother will not be thwarted.  Will Birdie get her chance to write and marry for love?  Can Tenley overcome her writing block?  Pick up a copy of The Writing Desk to see how the story plays out.

The Writing Desk is a well-written and engaging novel.  The past and future are beautifully woven together for a lovely story.  I was more interested in Birdie’s story than Tenley’s.  Tenley is a difficult character to like.  Her whining and complaining quickly got on my nerves.  The Christian element is light but impactful.  I am giving The Writing Desk 4 out of 5 stars (I liked it). I only told you a little bit about the story.  There is also Jonas Sullivan and Elijah Percy.  The story is told from the perspective of all four main characters (it does not get confusing).    In this story, we can see that despite a hundred years difference, people undergo the same struggles (joys, doubts, uncertainties, love, grief).  The Writing Desk is Christian, romance novel that can be enjoyed by readers from 13 to 103.  It is an inspirational story with a feel-good ending (it has a great epilogue).  I am never disappointed when I pick up a novel by Rachel Hauck.

Thank you for stopping by today.  On my next visit, I will be sharing my thoughts on Abiding Mercy by Ruth Reid.  I hope you have a very special day. Take care and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader

Friday, July 14, 2017

Death Plays a Part: A Cornish Castle Mystery

Welcome!  Cindy Woodsmall will be releasing the third and final book in The Amish of Summer Grove series.  It is titled Gathering the Threads.  The publisher is offering a BOGO.  Pre-order Gathering the Threads and get Ties that Bind.  I am looking forward to reading the last installment in the series.  

Death Plays a Part by Vivian Conroy is the first book in the new series A Cornish Castle Mystery.  Guinevere Evans and her dog, Dolly are heading to Cornisea Island on the Cornish coast.  Guinevere is a costume designer at a theater in London.  The theater is closing for the summer to do renovations and Guinevere would be at loose ends.  Mr. Betts, theater director, helped her acquire a job cataloguing books for Lord Bolingbrooke at Cornisea Castle.  Guinevere arrives to a little kerfuffle between Lord Bolingbrooke and his son, Oliver.  Oliver is a documentarian who has just returned to the castle after his latest excursion.  He has been trying to convince his father to open Castle Cornisea for public tours.  Guinevere discovers that the Cornisea Historical Society is recreating the trial of Branok the Cold.  At one time, he was the steward of Cornisea Castle and accused of vile acts against the villagers.  There is a rehearsal that afternoon.  Arthur Haydock is playing Branok and fireworks are sure to abound.  Arthur and Lord Bolingbrooke do not get along.  They have differing view for the castle and island.  Haydock is put in a cell for the rehearsal.  When they return, Haydock in on the floor with a knife sticking out of his chest.  Lord Bolingbrooke is suspect number one.  Guinevere believes he is innocent and embarks on a mission to prove it with Oliver’s assistance.  Cornisea Island is a small community that Guinevere discovers is rife with secrets.  Who killed Haydock and why?  Can Guinevere uncover the killer and save Lord Bolingbrooke?

Death Plays a Part sounded like a cute cozy mystery.  The book has a slow pace that would put Loralei Gilmore (she drinks vast quantities of coffee) to sleep.  A majority of the story is Guinevere running around the island (with her dog) talking to the locals who are wary of strangers.  I wished the author had fleshed out her characters (especially Guinevere).  We are given very little information on Guinevere.  The mystery was intriguing (treasure).  The killers’ identity, though, was easily discerned (at least I thought so).  I identified the killer after Haydock was discovered dead in the cell.  The suspect pool is limited. How the murder was accomplished, though, was clever.  I am rating Death Plays a Part 3 out of 5 stars.  The reason for Guinevere to investigate the murder is flimsy.  She dislikes unsolved crimes plus she is curious.  It is a weak excuse since London has dozens of unsolved crimes every week.  I wish the author had provided a pronunciation guide for the Cornish names.  I would rather the mystery had been set at the theater in London (so many possibilities). I was hoping Rubies in the Roses (second book in the series) would return Guinevere to the theater in London, but she will be continuing her stay on Cornisea Island. Rubies in the Roses will be published on August 30.

I sincerely hope that you have a fantastic Friday.  I will be sharing my thoughts on The Writing Desk by Rachel Hauck next time.  My mother's birthday is Sunday so I am gong out to pick up a few last minute items.  Take care and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader

Thursday, July 13, 2017

A Letter from Lancaster County: Lancaster Discoveries

I hope each of you are having a good week.  Kate Lloyd is an Amish author who has written Legacy of Lancaster trilogy (I enjoyed the three novels in the series). Ms. Lloyd writes a blog and is also on Pinterest (@KateLloydAuthor), Facebook, and Twitter (@KateLloydAuthor).  

A Letter from Lancaster County by Kate Lloyd is the first book in the Lancaster Discoveries series.  Aunt Silvia writes a letter to her two nieces inviting them to visit her in Lancaster County.  Angela and Rose take Aunt Silvia up on her invitation and leave their homes in Seattle.  Angela is married to Frederick, an attorney, who spends most of his time working.  Her two children are focused on their friends, cell phones, and video games.  They are overly indulged by their parents.  Angela feels a void in her life and envies Rose who is single.  Rose owns a mail order business that sends out handmade bird houses, wind chimes, etc. out to customers.  She is jealous of Angela with her husband and children.  Both ladies are unhappy with their lives.  The two sisters are very different and have never been close.  This could be the perfect opportunity for the sisters to bond and grow closer.  Aunt Silvia lives in the old family homestead and, upon exploration of the attic, the two sisters uncover secrets.  This discovery further divides Rose and Angela.  Will these two sisters find a way to come together?  Why did Aunt Silvia invite Rose and Angela for a visit?    Join Rose and Angela on their journey of discovery in A Letter from Lancaster County.

The writing in A Letter from Lancaster County is different from the books in Kate Lloyd’s Legacy of Lancaster trilogy.  Reading this Amish novel is akin to slogging through a giant pool of mud.  The pace was lethargic.  I did not think I would ever finish the tome.  The chapters alternate between Rose and Angela’s POV (first person).  It was hard to tell which one was talking.  The first 80% of the book is the two sisters whining, complaining, criticizing, insulting, blaming (reminds me of two bickering teenagers) and thinking.  I did like the last 20% of the book, but I do not see many people making it that far in the book.  There is a nice epilogue at the end of the book (best part of the book).  I am rating A Letter from Lancaster County 2 out of 5 stars.  While I disliked the sisters, I was a fan of Aunt Silvia.  She had a good outlook on life.  I really liked it when Aunt Silvia said, “accept our losses, make the best of them, and trust the Lord to guide us.”  The Christian element is very light (almost nonexistent).  The cover, though, for A Letter from Lancaster County is beautiful.  There is a preview for Simply Delicious at the end of the book.  It is the second book in the Lancaster Discoveries series.  I did like the sample provided.  It has me intrigued.  I wish A Letter from Lancaster County had been as appealing.

I appreciate you taking the time to visit today.  I will be reviewing Death Plays a Part by Vivian Conroy (A Cornish Castle Mystery) on Friday.  I hope you each of a lovely day.  Take care and Happy Reading.

The Avid Reader

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

A Crime of Passion Fruit: A Bakeshop Mystery

Thank you for visiting today.  Ellie Alexander is the author of A Bakeshop Mystery series.  You can visit the author on Facebook and follow her on Amazon as well as Goodreads.  The novels in A Bakeshop Mystery series are Meet Your Baker, A Batter of Life and Death, On Thin Icing, Caught Bread Handed, Fudge and Jury, and A Crime of Passion Fruit.  Another One Bites the Crust will be the seventh book.  It is currently available for pre-order and will be published on January 2.  Ellie Alexander will be releasing Trouble is Brewing on September 5. It is A Bakeshop Mini-Mystery.  It will introduce Sloan Krause who is the star of Death on Tap (first book in A Sloan Krause Mystery series).

A Crime of Passion Fruit by Ellie Alexander is the sixth book in A Bakeshop Mystery series.  Jules Capshaw receives a call from her estranged husband, Carlos asking for her assistance.  The pastry chef on the cruise ship quit unexpectedly and his replacement will not arrive for a week.  The captain would like Jules to return and offers an incentive of an all-expense paid trip for her mother, Helen and her fiancé, Doug Curtis (the Professor).  Jules and Helen leave Torte in the hands of their capable staff and Lance.  Lance, Director of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, is at loose ends and states he will “supervise” the staff while they are away (oh, dear).  Jules quickly settle back into the routine of ship life, but it is inevitable that she will stumble over a body.  Jules discovers a blonde woman floating in the salt water pool.  The same blonde woman she noticed sneaking around the crew area of the ship.  But who is the victim?  No one seems to know her identity.  The captain asks the Professor to investigate the crime (there goes the vacation).  Jules and the Professor need to capture the killer before the ship arrives at its next port.  Jules has her hands full with baking scrumptious treats for the passengers, searching for clues, Carlos and a rocky ship from a squall they are passing through.  Can Jules and the Professor catch the killer or will Jules end up as fish bait?

A Crime of Passion Fruit is easy to read and has a nice steady pace.  I thought A Crime of Passion Fruit had more of the cozy element than mystery.  There are numerous food descriptions in the book.  The whodunit is in the background in this story and can easily be solved.  The suspect pool is limited.  I identified the culprit early in the story.  The cruise ship was a nice change of pace and I appreciated how the author included the characters from Ashland into the story.  A Crime of Passion Fruit can easily be read alone.  All the necessary background details are provided.   My rating for A Crime of Passion Fruit if 3 out of 5 stars.  I did find it unbelievable that Jules would have time to run around the ship hunting down the Professor and looking for clues.  She is running a large pastry kitchen (that works virtually around the clock as we are told more than once) that would command her full attention (I know it is fiction, but it needs to be slightly realistic).  Also, a cruise ship has their own security to conduct investigations (and there are laws and regulations to follow when a crime is committed on a ship).  A Crime of Passion Fruit reminds me of the Love Boat.  I can see Captain Stubbing asking the Professor for his assistance and Jules reminds me of a female version of Gopher with her sleuthing.  There is a repetition of information (seems a common theme lately in cozy mysteries).  I wish I could say the Carlos and Jules situation was resolved, but it was not (sigh).  I am not a fan of Carlos (#TeamThomas).  He does not support Jules in her investigations (he wanted to promise “you will bake and stay in kitchen”).  I do not feel the love between Jules and Carlos.  There is lust, but that it is not love.  At the end of A Crime of Passion Fruit, we are left with a little cliffhanger (which means I will be reading the next book in A Bakeshop Mystery series to find out what happens). 

I appreciate you visiting today.  I will be reviewing A Letter from Lancaster County by Kate Lloyd next time.  May you have a very pleasant day.  I am currently reading Dead Storage by Mary Feliz.  Take care and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Down a Dark Road: A Kate Burkholder Novel

Happy Book Release Day!  Some of the novels that are available today are The Writing Desk by Rachel Hauck, 30 Second Death by Laura Bradford, Two Nights by Kathy Reichs, To Kill a Hummingbird by J.R. Ripley, A Basket Full of Bargains by Lorraine Bartlett and Down a Dark Road by Linda Castillo.  If you like to read historical, Christian novels, Tamera Alexander publishes a new novel in August.  It is titled To Wager Her Heart and it is the third novel in A Belle Meade Plantation series.  

Down a Dark Road by Linda Castillo is the newest A Kate Burkholder Novel.  Kate Burkholder is the chief of police in Painters Mill, Ohio.  Kate receives a call from Deputy Warden Jerry Murphy at the Mansfield Correctional Institute saying that Joseph King has escaped.  Joseph was convicted two years prior of murdering his wife.  His five children now live with their aunt and uncle on a farm outside Painters Mill.  Kate grew up with Joseph until his family moved away when she was thirteen.  She remembers the crush she had on Joseph and how he changed after his father passed away.  Kate does not think Joseph will return to town, but she sets up a watch on Rebecca and Daniel Beachy’s home.  Around 3 a.m. Kate is checking the perimeter when she is attacked.  Joseph gets the drop of Kate and forces her into the farmhouse.  Joseph is holding Kate along with his five children hostage.  Joseph swears to Kate that he is innocent, but he refuses to give himself up.  He does not want to go back to prison and he will not let the children go.  Joseph wants Kate to investigate and prove he did not murder his wife, Naomi.   Kate is set free and faces the criticism of her colleagues.  She remembers what Joseph was like as a young boy.  Kate sets off on her quest for answers.  Did Joseph kill Naomi as the evidence suggests?  Kate is in for a bumpy ride in Down a Dark Road.

I look forward to reading the latest Kate Burkholder book each year and Linda Castillo did not let me down with this tome.  Down a Dark Road captured and held my interest.  I found the book to be well-written and have a steady pace.  The mystery is complex with many twists and turns along the way (you can feel the suspense building up).  I did solve the mystery early in the story, but I enjoyed reading on to see how it would unravel. I would find dealing with the Amish very frustrating if I was a police officer (Kate is so patient).  Their reluctance to talk and help the law astounds me.  Kate Burkholder is a complicated person.  I liked that more of her youth was revealed to us (Kate looks back remembering her time with Joseph).  It is nice to see how Kate was as a girl (she grew up Amish).  I also appreciated seeing a more vulnerable side of Kate.  My rating for Down a Dark Road is 4.5 out of 5 stars.  While Down a Dark Road is the ninth book in the series, it can be read alone.  Personally, I am glad to have read the whole series, because each volume builds upon the previous. A new layer of Kate’s character is exposed and we discover a little more about Kate.  The epilogue was lovely and heartwarming.  I look forward to reading the tenth book in A Kate Burkholder series when it releases next year.  

I appreciate you stopping by and reading my review.  I am currently read Killer Party by Lynn Cahoon.  May you have a pleasant day and find some delightful new books to read.  I will be reviewing A Crime of Passion Fruit by Ellie Alexander next.  Take care and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader

Monday, July 10, 2017

Lions and Tigers and Murder, Oh My!: A Deveraux's Dime Store Mystery

Greetings!  I hope you had a delightful weekend.  Denise Swanson is the author of A Scumble River Mystery series, Welcome Back to Scumble River, and A Deveraux's Dime Store Mystery series.  As a reader you can follow Ms. Swanson on Amazon, Goodreads, Facebook and the series on FictFact.

Lions and Tigers and Murder, Oh My by Denise Swanson is the sixth book in A Deveraux’s Dime Store Mystery series.  Deveraux Sinclair lives in Shadow Bend, Missouri where she owns and runs Devereaux’s Dime Store and Gift Baskets.  It is October and Deveraux is working on her Halloween display when a man comes into the store looking for Jake Del Vecchio who is renting office space above Deveraux’s store for his PI practice (and he can see more of Deveraux this way).  Elliot Winston is looking for his missing wife, Gabriella.  Gabriella disappeared leaving behind her wallet, cellphone, car and clothing.  The police are not convinced it is a kidnapping and have referred Elliot to Jake.  Elliot has heard about Deveraux’s sleuthing skills and wants to enlist her help as well.  Elliot is trying to open a wildlife park on land he owns outside town and his wife (along with many townspeople) object to his venture.   Then Elliot receives a ransom demand.  Jake and Deveraux set out to catch the kidnapper and return Gabriella to her husband.  Jake takes the case and is happy to be spending time with Deveraux.  Dr. Noah Underwood, Deveraux’s other love interest, is less than thrilled. When Jake asks Deveraux to go on a weekend getaway, Deveraux knows it is time to make a choice between the two men in her life. Poppy Kincaid had another brouhaha with her father, Chief Eldridge Kincaid.  It is time for the them to mend the fences, and Deveraux sets out to bring them together.  She is the perfect mediator since she has a good relationship with both parties.  Just another ordinary week for Deveraux Sinclair!

Lions and Tigers and Murder, Oh My contains well-developed characters.  Deveraux is a unique woman who has intelligence, determination, loyalty, and good family values.  I thought the novel contained good writing, had a nice pace and was easy to read.  This cozy mystery is lively and absorbing.  While Lions and Tigers and Murder, Oh My is the sixth book in this series, it can be read alone.  All the background details are mixed in with the story.  I do, though, recommend each book in the series.  I am rating Lions and Tigers and Murder, Oh My 4 out of 5 stars.  The romance element was more prevailing in this book than in others in the series.  There are dinner dates and a couple of steamy make out sessions (along with lustful thoughts).  I am happy that the love triangle is finally resolved (sorry I do not want to spoil it for you)!  There is some mild foul language that I wish the author had no included (it is not needed).  The mystery was not challenging.  Most readers will solve it long before the reveal.  Lions and Tigers and Murder, Oh My has all the cozy elements that make for an engaging cozy mystery novel.  There is family, humor, friends, small town charm, romance, a mystery, and good characters.  The story with a cliffhanger that has me looking forward to the next A Deveraux’s Dime Story Mystery tale.

Carolyn Haines' Familiar Trouble is out today.  It is the first book in the Familiar Legacy series.  I am reading 30 Second Death by Laura Bradford.  Thank you for reading my latest review.  I will return tomorrow to share my thoughts on Down a Dark Road by Linda Castillo.  Have a wonderful day. Take care and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Gladden the Heart: Amish Turns of Time

Welcome!  Olivia Newport writes Amish Turns of Time series along with Hidden Falls, Valley of Choice series, and Avenue of Dreams trilogy.  Readers can follow her on Amazon and receive an email when a new book is listed for sale. Her next novel is Colors of Christmas which publishes on October 1.

Gladden the Heart by Olivia Newport is the fifth book in an Amish Turns of Time series.  It is 1847 in Kishacoquillas Valley, Pennsylvania. Susanna Hooley lives on her family’s farm east of Lewistown, Pennsylvania.  One Sunday after church, Susanna’s cousin Noah is not feeling well and then collapses.  He then starts preaching and no one can get him to stop.  Noah is a quiet man and who is not known for his sermons.  After three hours of preaching, Noah collapses into a deep sleep.  When Noah awakens, he has no remembrance of what occurred.  Susanna goes over to Noah’s house the next day and discovers that his preaching is an everyday occurrence.  Noah’s wife, Phoebe has been keeping it under wraps.  Noah soon starts preaching almost every afternoon at the same time and his sermons are attracting attention.  Bishop Shem Hertzberger is less than pleased.  The revivalist movement has taken several Amish from their community, and Shem does not want to lose any other families.  Reverend Charles Baxton, a traveling Methodist minister, listens Noah’s stirring sermons and requests that Noah travel with him.  This controversy divides their Amish community.  Susanna supports Noah, but her beau, Adam is on the side hullabaloo.  But then one day Noah disappears while in one of his trance’s, and the whole community turns out to locate him.   Will they be able to locate Noah?  Is there a way to resolve the controversy and unite the community once again?

While Gladden the Heart is part of a series, it is a stand-alone novel.  I thought the concept behind Gladden the Heart is intriguing, I did enjoy the final product.  “Sleeping preachers” is an interesting phenomenon, and it could have made a great story.  Is it God’s will for this to happen to Noah?  I actually did a little research in “sleeping preachers”.  I just felt that the author could have done so much more with this subject.  Why did the Amish believe Noah’s preaching was wrong?  What was the main difference between the Amish faith and other religions at this time in history?  I thought the pace was sluggish (actually, slugs move faster) and the writing was not up to Olivia Newport’s usual standard.  The book was awkward and the characters flat.  There are numerous Bible verses (scripture) and sermons contained within the story (after a while, I started skipping past them).  I really struggled to finish this novel.  I can tell when I am not enjoying a book.  I start checking to see how much farther until the end and I start speed reading through boring parts.   When I start hoping for a good murder to spice up the storyline (especially when I am reading an Amish novel that is not a mystery), then I know I do not like the book.  The romance between Susanna and Adam failed to come to life.  I never felt love between the couple.  Susanna’s mother was an annoying character.  Her fear (for the time period) was understandable.  The characters lacked depth.  There is also a repetition of information (it felt like padding).  I am rating Gladden the Heart 2 out of 5 stars.  I do not want to discourage readers from Olivia Newport’s novels.  While Gladden the Heart was not for me, I have appreciated many of her other books (Valley of Choice series). 

Thank you for visiting and reading my thoughts on this novel.  If you belong to Google+, please consider adding me to your circle (upper right).  My next review will be of Lions and Tigers and Murders, Oh My by Denise Swanson.    May you have a lovely, relaxing Sunday.  Take care and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader

Saturday, July 8, 2017

The Tell-Tale Tarte: A Five-Ingredient Mystery

Salutations!  On July 11 Rachel Hauck's The Writing Desk will be released. Rachel Hauck is the author of The Wedding Dress, The Wedding Shop and The Wedding Chapel.  Maya Corrigan is the author of A Five-Ingredient Mystery series. The books in this series are By Cook or By Crook, Scam Chowder, Final Fondue, and the latest The Tell-Tale Tarte (get the Poe reference).   You, as a reader, can follow Maya on Facebook, Amazon, and Goodreads.  

The Tell-Tale Tarte by Maya Corrigan is the fourth book in A Five-Ingredient Mystery series.  Val Deniston is shocked when her grandfather, Don Myer comes home with a new look.  She can tell that he up to something, but Granddad is claiming client confidentiality.  Val is leaving the mall with her best friend, Bethany O’Shay when she sees a man resembling her grandfather collapse in the parking lot.  The man, thankfully, is not her Granddad.  The man does not survive, and he is dressed in Granddad’s new look (same haircut, glasses, hat, and clothes).  What has Granddad gotten into this time?   At dinner that evening with Gunnar, Val discovers the deceased is Emmett Flint.  Emmett was an actor with the local theater group along with Gunnar.  Gunnar, unfortunately, recently had an argument with the man and benefits from his death which puts him at the top of the suspect list.  While catering a book club dinner, Val discovers Granddad’s new job.  He was hired to impersonate Rick Usher.  Was Emmett Flint hired to perform this task as well?  Was the killer after Emmett, Granddad, or Rick Usher?  Val soon finds herself embroiled in a mystery surrounding author, Rick Usher.  To get closer to Usher, Val accepts a job as the families’ personal chef.  Val needs to clear Gunnar’s name and keep her grandfather safe.  When Val is not scouting for clues, she is working at the Cool Down Café, testing recipes for The Codger’s Cookbook (another one of Granddad’s projects), and exploring ways to get her contract on the café renewed.  Will Val uncover the killer before he strikes again?

I found The Tell-Tale Tarte to be a slow starter.  I had a hard time finishing this cozy mystery.  The pace starting out slow and failed to improve.  There is a repetition of information.  I find it annoying to find the same details repeated over and over.  I have not been able to warm up to Val and her grandfather (or any of the characters).  I felt that the characters are lacking in depth.  Val is a hard character to like.  She does not exude warmth or friendliness.  The grandfather’s antics just got on my nerves.  Why does it have to be one zany thing after another?  I do not mind a little bit of quirkiness, but Granddad is over-the-top.  He expects Val to support him in his subterfuge (which she does).  My rating for The Tell-Tale Tarte is 3 out of 5 stars.  The mystery was interesting, but uncomplicated and could be solved early in the story. The suspect pool is minute and the killer sticks out (might as well have been an arrow pointing at the individual).  The subplot of Val’s café contract was too dominant in the book. The details about the contract and who would take over the space are mentioned frequently.  The “romance” between Gunnar and Val does not feel real.  It is like the author determined that there should be a romance in the book so she put it in.  I just do not feel the connection or affection between them.   I did enjoy the Poe references in the book.  I am a fan of Edgar Allan Poe and his works (did a paper or two on him in college).  There are recipes at the end of the book from the Codger.  

If you are a fan of Edgar Allan Poe, you should take a look at the adult coloring books available for sale.  I am currently reading Two Nights by Kathy Reichs.  I will be sharing Gladden the Heart by Olivia Newport next time.   I sincerely hope you have a lovely Saturday.  Take care and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader

Friday, July 7, 2017

Death in Dark Blue: A Writer's Apprentice Mystery

Happy Friday!  Death Plays a Part by Vivian Conroy comes out today.  It is the first book in A Cornish Castle Mystery series.  I will be sharing my thoughts on this new cozy mystery soon.  Julia Buckley is the author of An Undercover Dish Mystery series as well as A Writer's Apprentice Mystery series. Readers can follow the author on Facebook, Goodreads, and Amazon.  Amazon will send you an email when a new book is listed for sale by this author.

Death in Dark Blue by Julia Buckley is the second novel in A Writer’s Apprentice Mystery series.  Lena London lives with famous author Camilla Graham in Blue Lake, Indiana.  She is happy that her boyfriend, Sam West is returning to town after being gone for the last month.  Sam has been in New York searching for his missing wife, Victoria with the help of a private investigator.  Taylor Brand, a friend of Victoria’s and a blogger, stated on her blog that she would be coming to Blue Lake to apologize to Sam in person for her accusations (she accused him of harming Victoria).  Lena is on her way to Sam’s to drop off a copy of the book she co-wrote with Camilla when she comes across a person in a blue coat in the snow.  Lena has discovered Taylor and she will not be making that apology.  Once again, Sam is a suspect in a murder and the press are out in full force.  Lena needs to find Taylor’s killer and clear Sam from suspicion.  She also wants to find a clue that will lead them to Victoria.  Lena enlists the help of Belinda, research librarian at the Blue Lake Library.  Can they finally discover what happened to Victoria West?  The paparazzi are making it difficult for Sam and Lena to spend time together since they are trying to keep their relationship under wraps.  Can Lena unravel the clues and uncover Taylor’s killer? 

Death in Dark Blue is packed full of action.  Lena is busy solving two mysteries, spending time with Sam, and working on Camilla’s latest novel.  I thought the book contained good writing and it has a good flow.  The pace is medium level.  The murder mystery was child’s play to solve.  I identified the killer before the body made it to the morgue.  The suspect pool is very limited.  I give Death in Dark Blue 3.5 out of 5 stars.  I suggest that you read A Dark and Stormy Murder before Death in Dark Blue.  The first book sets the stage for what occurs in Death in Dark Blue.  There is some repetition of information (especially regarding Victoria).  I wish the author had not put so much focus on the romance between Lena and Sam.  Their relationship has moved too quickly (aka they are already cozy between the sheets) especially since he is technically married and his wife MIA.  The story ends with a cliffhanger that will have me reading the next book in the series.  I admit that I am curious to see what happens next in the Sam and Victoria saga.  Let us hope, though, that Sam does not end up suspected of murder again in the next novel in A Writer’s Apprentice Mystery series.

Thank you for visiting and reading my review.  I am currently reading Familiar Trouble by Carolyn Haines.  It will be released on July 10.  My next book review will be of A Tell-Tale Tarte by Maya Corrigan.  I hope you have a very special day.  Take care and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader