Thursday, October 19, 2017

The Persian Always Meows Twice: A Cat Groomer Mystery

I hope everyone is having a lovely week.  Broken Bones by Angela Marsons will be published on November 3.  It is the seventh book in the D.I. Kim Stone series.  Each book in this suspense/thriller series is better than the last.

The Persian Always Meows Twice by Eileen Watkins is the first book in the new series A Cat Groomer Mystery.  Cassie McGlone has opened Cassie’s Comfy Cats in Chadwick, New Jersey.  Cassie is off to her biweekly appointment at George DeLeuw’s house to groom his Persian cat, Harpo.  She arrives and finds Harpo outside and the front door ajar (you know where this is leading).  She follows Harpo to George’s study where she finds him dead from obvious blunt force trauma.  Detective Angela Bonnell of the Chadwick PD is assigned the case.  With herself and Nick Janos’ son (Cassie’s handyman) suspect in the murder, Cassie starts investigating.  Unfortunately, no one is giving her bupkis. Then Cassie becomes the temporary guardian of Harpo and someone is determined to get their paws on George’s confidant.  Did George’s high standards get him killed?  And why is everyone after Harpo?

The Persian Always Meows Twice is nicely written.  The author has an easy writing style which makes for a pleasant paced story.  There is just the right amount and type of humor.  I found the characters to be nicely developed (especially for the first book in the series).  Cassie is a smart, personable and caring woman with her own business (hooray).  I also think she is brave since she bathes cats (not an easy task unless the cat has been bathed since it was a kitten).  Cassie’s business sounds like a lovely place for cats.  My cats would love the perches in her place.  I thought it was funny that Cassie is not willing to let cats sleep in her bed (that is one of the best benefits unless they commandeer your pillow), but she does allow a cat on her table (while she eats).   My rating for The Persian Always Meows Twice is 4 out of 5 stars (I liked it).  The only disappointment was the mystery—it was light.  I wish the author had made it more complicated or added in a good twist to surprise me.  The killer’s identity is not a puzzler.  I was happy with the investigation and the amount of action.    I like that Cassie worked with the police to help solve the crime (and that the detective did not constantly tell Cassie to stay out of the investigation).  I will definitely be reading the next book which is The Bengal Identity.

I appreciate you visiting today!  I will return tomorrow with my review of Mining for Justice by Kathleen Ernst.  May you have a splendid day.  Take care and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

A Christmas Peril: A Theater Cop Mystery

Thank you for visiting today.  On October 31 Crazy Like a Fox by Rita Mae Brown will be published along with Knit to Kill by Anne CanadeoThe Murderess by Jennifer Wells will be released on November 1.  Potions and Pastries by Bailey Cates will be out on November 7.  So many delightful new books to purchase and devour.

A Christmas Peril by J.A. Hennrikus is the first story in A Theater Cop Mystery series.  Edwina “Sully” Sullivan has been the general manager of the Cliffside Theater Company in Trevorton, Massachusetts for the last five years since leaving the force (and her ex-husband).  Sully is busy with preparations for their annual performance of A Christmas Carol, but she is taking time out to attend the funeral of Peter Whitehall.  Peter’s son, Eric is a friend and Sully is tending the event for him.  When Eric ends up arrested for Peter’s murder, Sully puts her detecting skills to work finding the real killer.  Sully has her hands full with keeping the budget on track for A Christmas Carol, replacing an actor, dealing with Patrick King who cannot remember his lines and has a drinking problem (along with a huge ego), and finding Peter’s killer.

When I started reading A Christmas Peril, I went back to check that this was the first book.  I felt like I was plopped down in the middle of a series.  The book is very confusing in the beginning.  It felt like the book was written out of order (with the beginning in the middle and the middle at the beginning).  The pace of the story is a little too slow for my liking and it felt dated (like it was written for a different time period).  The book lacked flow and smooth transitions.  Many of the same details are repeated frequently (after I while I could recite them by rote).  Sully became fixated on murder (obsessed). Too much of the book is focused on conjecture and hearsay (Sully going over the same details).    I solved the crime at Peter’s funeral (it should not be that easy).  There are a couple of possible love interests for Sully in the story.  I could have done with less “flirting” and a more interesting/engaging mystery.  At the end of the story, there are dangling threads (it felt unfinished) and it was convoluted. The Christmas aspect was very light (almost non-existent).   A Christmas Peril would have benefited from more editing/rewriting.

I appreciate you reading my latest review.  I will be sharing my evaluation of The Persian Always Meows Twice by Eileen Watkins on Thursday, October 19.  Take care, have a hauntingly good day and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

The Girl Who Saved Ghosts: Second book in The Unbelievables series!

Greetings! K. C. Tansley is the author of The Unbelievables series.  The first book is The Girl Who Ignored Ghosts.  It is a paranormal mystery series aimed at young adults.  K.C. Tansley is author Kourtney Heintz who wrote The Six Train series.

The Girl Who Saved Ghosts by K.C. Tansley is the second book in The Unbelievables series.  Kat Preston Langley is returning for her senior year at McTernan Academy with her best friend, Morgan Sanchez.  The ghosts that wants their reckoning have followed her back to school.  One young ghost named Ellie is covered in blood and asks Kat for her help.  Kat is not sure how she can save Ellie and something more pressing captures her attention.  Kat discovers that a sinister force called the Dark One is out to kill her.  She needs training and the only people who can provide it are her two greats aunts (Jacqueline and Vivian) at Dumbarton.  Kat along with Evan Kingsley travel to Dumbarton and meet with trouble as soon as they step off the train.  The Dark One is testing their strength.  To help Kat in the present, Evan and Kat need to travel back to 1831 Vienna to retrieve the Kingsley dagger.  It is supposed to be a quick mission, but then Kat has a chance to help Ellie.  Will Kat and Evan make it back to the present safely (let’s settle for alive) or will they meet their end in old Vienna? 

The Girl Who Saved Ghosts is the second book in The Unbelievables series and I suggest reading the series in order (otherwise, you will be a little lost).  There are numerous characters and it can be hard to keep them straight.   Those of you who have read The Girl Who Ignored Ghosts there are references to it that will help remind you of what occurred (it has been a year).  I thought the pace was a little slower in this installment and the same details are repeated throughout the story (after a while I could recite them by heart).  I understand Kat wanting to know her father, Max, but it got to be a repeated refrain.  The Girl Who Saved Ghosts is a good story.  Readers are given more details on the Langley heir and her relationship to the other three families.  I wish there had been more action.  The book leads up to Kat and Evan going back in time (once again) and it was such a short section (rich with historical detail though).  I wanted more of the time traveling and supernatural aspect.  I am giving The Girl Who Saved Ghosts 4 out of 5 stars! The romance element is light (hooray) and the story is aimed at a young adult audience (adults will enjoy it as well).  I am glad that the author excluded intimate relations and foul language from the story.   The Girl Who Saved Ghosts is nicely written, has good characters, and has an intriguing mystery (you never know what will happen next). I appreciated the growth in Kat that took place during the course of the story.  I am happy to see these changes in her.  I want to know who is the Dark One and how will they stop him. I will be reading the next book in The Unbelievables series to find out what happens next.

Authors need our reviews.  After you finish a story, take the time to write a short review (two sentences minimum for Amazon).  Thank you for visiting today.  I will be reviewing A Christmas Peril by J.A. Hennrikus next time.  Have a delightful day, stay safe, and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader

Monday, October 16, 2017

The Skeleton Paints a Picture: A Family Skeleton Mystery

Hello!  A Place at Our Table by Amy Clipston will be published on November 14.  It is the first book in An Amish Homestead series.  The first three books in A Family Skeleton Mystery series are  A Skeleton in the Family, The Skeleton Takes a Bow, and The Skeleton Haunts a House.

The Skeleton Paints a Picture by Leigh Perry is the fourth tome in A Family Skeleton Mystery series.  Dr. Georgia Thackery is working at an adjunct at Falstone College of Art and Design (FAD) in Falstone, Massachusetts.  Georgia arrives home (the borrowed bungalow) and finds two packages on her porch.  She opens them to find her best friend, Sid inside—a walking, talking skeleton.  Sid was feeling lonely (too many grad students at the Thackery home) and decided to visit Georgia (who was equally lonely).  That night Sid (who doesn’t need to sleep) is out exploring the backyard and spots a car crashed in the woods behind the bungalow.  When Georgia and Sid check it out, they find the body of a woman.  The next day, Georgia discovers the victim is Kelly Griffith who ran the writing lab at FAD.  Georgia and Sid believe there is something off about Kelly’s death and start researching the victim (and faculty—Sid is whiz with computers).  It seems that Kelly was involved in her own investigation and it ended up getting her killed.  Can Georgia and Sid follow the trail and find Kelly’s killer?

The Skeleton Paints a Picture is nicely written and easy to read.  I just love Sid.  He is such an entertaining and unique character (Sid will provide many laugh out loud moments) and Georgia is the perfect counterpart for him.  I like that their relationship is changing and developing into a partnership (a team).  I especially like the creative “swear” words that they utilize.  The author has certainly found some creative ways for Sid to get out and explore the world as well as investigate (Sid just loves snow blowers).  I do want to mention the author included a “gender fluid” character.  I applaud the author for tackling a gender fluid character and her handling of it (though it was confusing to read about the character without the gender specific pronouns).  My rating for The Skeleton Paints a Picture is 4 out of 5 pumpkins.  The mystery is medium complexity.   I think some readers will be surprised by the solution (pay very close attention & it can be solved).   I did miss Georgia’s parents and daughter (Madison) in this installment.  I hope they return in the next book in A Family Skeleton Mystery series.  While The Skeleton Paints a Picture is the fourth book in this series, it can be read alone.  Personally, I am glad I have read each book in the series.  I believe you will be missing out by not reading the first three books (you find out more about Sid and how he joined the family, Georgia’s teaching history).  The Skeleton Paints a Picture is a humorous (Sid makes a “humerus” pun in story that will tickle your funny bone) cozy mystery that will delight many readers.  I am glad that Sid is back!  

I do hope that you are having a lovely day (and that it is not stressful).  I am currently reading Cremains of the Day by Misty Simon.  I will be reviewing The Girl Who Saved Ghosts by K.C. Tansley tomorrow (10/17).  Thank you for visiting, take care and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Yuletide Homicide: A Wiccan Wheel Mystery

Welcome!  I wanted to mention that Cremains of the Day by Misty Simon and Slay Bells Ring by Karen Rose Smith will be published on October 31.  So many new books and so little time to read them!  I think my TBR list is topping 300. My mother is actually starting to complain about the piles of books around the house (I have them stacked on top of and under many pieces of furniture in every room of the house).  I really need to get more bookshelves!

Yuletide Homicide by Jennifer David Hesse is the third story in A Wiccan Wheel Mystery series.  Keli Milanni is a lawyer at the law firm of Olsen, Sykes and Rafferty.  Keli is called into Beverly’s office (her boss) along with Crenshaw Davenport III (an overbearing colleague).  One of their clients, Edgar Harrison of Harrison Properties LLC is being blackmailed.  Beverly would like them to work Edgar’s offices and attempt to locate the culprit.  Edgar has just announced that he is running for mayor of Edindale in the next election.   Keli is at the Harrison Properties Christmas party at the Harrison Hotel and is surprised when her old college boyfriend, Mick MacIntyre shows up (he is a piece of work).  Later that night, Keli gets a call from Mick asking her to return to the hotel.  Keli notices a small Christmas tree knocked over and Edgar dead nearby.  Police rule the death an accident, but Keli knows he was murdered.  She sets out to discover who was blackmailing Edgar and sent him plunging to his death. 

Yuletide Homicide had a mystery with medium complexity, and I believe some readers will be surprised by the outcome.  Keli, though, was annoying and lackluster in this installment in A Wiccan Wheel Mystery series.  The Wiccan elements did nothing to enhance or add to the story.  Another unnecessary element was the return of Keli ex-boyfriend.  The only reason it seemed he was added was to get Keli to return to the hotel.  His storyline was left unfinished.  I am giving Yuletide Homicide 3 out of 5 stars.  I was glad to see the action pick up towards the end of the story.  The book lags in the middle while Keli does her investigating (questioning).  If you are looking for a feel-good Christmas cozy, I suggest you keep looking.  The first two books in A Wiccan Wheel Mystery series are Midsummer Nights Mischief and Bell, Book & Candlemas.

I hope that you have a pleasant day!  I will be featuring The Girl Who Saved Ghosts by K.C. Tansley (aka Kourtney Heintz) October 17.  Tomorrow I will share my review of The Skeleton Paints a Picture by Leigh Perry (Sid is back). Take care and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader

Saturday, October 14, 2017

A Secret History of Witches by Louisa Morgan

Happy Saturday!  Sweet Tea and Sympathy by Molly Harper will be published on November 1.  It is the first book in A Southern Eclectic Novel series.  I have added it to my "wish list" on Amazon.  

A Secret History of Witches by Louisa Morgan is a historical novel that starts in 1838 at Orchard Farm.  The Orchierres families magic seemed to wither with the death of Grandmere Ursule.  Her descendants keep following the practices she established that have been handed down from mother to daughter.  They have Ursule’s magic crystal and grimoire.  Some of them can do simple spells, simples and charms.  Nanette, Ursule’s granddaughter, is the first one to blossom with real power.  Magic, though, always comes at a price.  Follow the magic through the generations to see what happens to the Orchierres line of witches.

A Secret History of Witches was a slow-paced novel that I found lacking in magic.  The story had potential, but it was never achieved.  Each generation seemed to make the same mistake (it seemed like the same story repeated over for each generation—the author just changed the clothes or words to fit the time period).  I thought it would be a story about strong, female witches (instead we have women that grow up, get pregnant, pass on family history and repeat for the next generation).  Unfortunately, the only strong person was Gradmere Ursule (and she was dead).  The woman and men were stuck in their gender roles and they were conventional.  The magic elements were uninspiring.  For a book about witches and magic, it was deficient.  The characters lacked development (they were flat).  Some sections were more complete than others.  I was disappointed in the ending (it was unsatisfying and felt unfinished).  I did not understand why the author did not bring the book into modern times and bring the witches full circle.  She could have shown them back in full power in modern times.  The book needed some oomph.   My rating for A Secret History of Witches is 2 out of 5 pumpkins.  There is some good writing and the author did her research for the historical periods featured.  My favorite section the World War II with Veronica Selwyn.  If you are looking for a magical novel, check out Deborah Harkness’ All Souls Trilogy (vampires too)!

I appreciate you reading my latest review.  I will be sharing my evaluation of Yuletide Homicide by Jennifer David Hesse next time.  I hope that you have a very special and happy day!  Take care and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader

Friday, October 13, 2017

Death Overdue: A Haunted Library Mystery

Welcome Back!   Knit to Kill by Anne Canadeo publishes on October 31.  It is A Black Sheep & Company Mystery.  The cover for Death Overdue is eye catching.  Look at all those beautiful cats and the cute little black cat!  And what reader doesn't love a window seat. 

Death Overdue by Allison Brook is the first book in A Haunted Library Mystery series.  Carrie Singleton has been staying (and working) in Clover Ridge, Connecticut with her Aunt Harriet and Uncle Bosco, but she feels it is about time to move on.  Then Carrie is offered the position as head of programs and events at Clover Ridge Library (thanks to Uncle Bosco).  Carrie accepts the position and settles into her new life.  The first program is retired homicide detective, Al Buckley talking about the fifteen-year-old murder of Laura Foster.  Al claims to have new evidence that will solve the case and bring the family closure.  Before Al can reveal his new evidence, he dies and his iPad is stolen.  Someone poisoned Al and Carrie feels responsible for his death (she pushed her boss to go ahead with the program).  She teams up with Jared Foster, Laura’s younger son, to not only find Al’s killer, but Laura’s as well.  Carrie is busy with learning her new job, looking for new evidence in the murders, dealing with a troublesome co-worker, and locating a place to live.  She does, though, get help from the library’s resident ghost, Evelyn Havers.  The killer is unhappy with Carrie’s investigation and sets out to make sure that Carrie is permanently checked out!

I was drawn into Death Overdue from the very beginning.  The author has a nice writing style that is engaging and makes for nice flowing story.  I liked the characters, the town, the library, Smokey Joe (the cat), and (my favorite) the ghost.  I am amazed at the events the library hosts (I wish my library had something besides boring lectures and movies).  The mystery (technically, there are two mysteries) was easily solved (all readers will figure this one out before the reveal).  I identified the guilty party before retired detective Al Buckley was pronounced dead.  The other elements, though, elevate the story.  I give Death Overdue 4 out of 5 pumpkins (I thought I would change things up for October).  The investigation consists of light questioning and some searching.  The book was also a tad too long (it needed to be shortened) and I could have done with less romance/flirting.  I hope we get to know more about Evelyn, the ghost, in the next book.  Evelyn is a great character and I want to know more about her past.  I also suspect her death was not just a simple slip and fall in an icy parking lot (at least I hope there is more to it).  I will definitely be reading the next book in A Haunted Library Mystery series (I want more)!

Thank you for your visit.  I will be sharing my thoughts on A Secret History of Witches by Louisa Morgan next time (I had a hard time with this one).  May you have a beautiful day and I hope it is cooler in your area than it is in mine (we are in the 90s still).  Take care and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader

Thursday, October 12, 2017

A Room with a Brew: A Brewing Trouble Mystery

Thank you for stopping by today.  Heartaches and Christmas Cakes by Amy Miller will be published on October 20.  The Secret, Book and Scone Society by Ellery Adams will be out on October 31 (Halloween)! I am extremely honored to have been picked to be on her new EA Review Crew.  I have just started reading the book and I was immediately drawn in to the story.

A Room with a Brew by Joyce Tremel is the third installment in A Brewing Trouble Mystery series.  Maxine “Max” O’Hara owns the Allegheny Brew House in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  Max is busy preparing for the Oktoberfest weekend she is going to have at the brew house.  To see if she wants to hire The Deutschmen, a local oompah band, Max and her girlfriends are going to an event at the fire hall.  Felix Holt, accordion player, stares at Candy and insists that he knows her from somewhere.  Candy ends up being rude and leaving without providing an explanation.  The next day Max receives a call from Walter “Doodle” Dowdy, the sousaphone player, asking to meet in person.  He has something to share with her.  When Max, Jake and Candy arrive they find Doodle dead with his head stuffed in his sousaphone.  Candy is at the top of the suspect which sends Max into overdrive to find out who killed Doodle and why.  Just when Max thinks things cannot get worse, Jake’s ex-fiancĂ©, Victoria pops up at a gallery opening they are attending for the unveiling of a newly discovered Vermeer painting.  Max will need to keep her wits about her if she is going to nab a killer, finish her Oktoberfest preparations, and avoid the manipulative Victoria. 

A Room with a Brew can be read as a standalone novel (everything you need to know is included).  I had some trouble getting into the story.  I found it to be a slow starter and the murder did not occur until I reached the 18% mark (seems to be a new trend).  I found the mystery to be expected.  Once the Vermeer is mentioned, I accurately predicted how the story would play out.  I tried it with a third party, and they came to the same conclusion (I only gave them two details).  It was interesting to learn more about the quirky Candy in this story (who only wears black and gold).  Most of the characters in A Room with a Brew are flat.  We are given scant details on them and the author never gave them life.   Candy, Jake and Max are the only fully developed personas.  My rating for A Room with a Brew is 3 out of 5 pumpkins.  The main focus of the cozy mystery is on the Allegheny Brew House, Max’s romance with Jake, food (lots of food), time spent with Max’s family, and preparing for Oktoberfest.  I did not know that blue and white were colors for Oktoberfest (from Bavaria).  I have only seen the colors from the German flag used in conjunction with this event.  There are recipes for some of the food items at the end of the book.  A Room with a Brew is a cute cozy mystery that will appeal to many readers and have you craving a bratwurst (I will be heading to the local German meat market soon)!  The first two books A Brewing Trouble Mystery series are To Brew or Not to Brew and Tangled Up in Brew.

I appreciate you taking time out of your day to visit.  I will be sharing my thoughts about Death Overdue by Allison Brook tomorrow (I have positive things to say about it)!  I hope that each of you have a remarkable day.  Take care and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Christmas at Carnton: Prequel to the Carnton Novel series

Happy Wednesday!  The Girl Who Saved Ghosts by K. C. Tansley will be published on October 17. It is the second book in The Unbelievables series. Deanna Chase has released a new A Jade Calhoun Novel.  It is titled Hexed on Bourbon Street.  Find out how pregnancy is affecting Jade's powers.

Christmas at Carnton by Tamera Alexander is a Christmas story that is a prequel for The Carnton Novels (the first book will be released in 2018).  The story starts in November of 1863 in Franklin, Tennessee.  Aletta Prescott is a widow with a six-year-old son and another child on the way.  Aletta received word that her husband, Walter passed away a month prior from battle injuries.  Aletta has just lost her position at Chilton Textile Mills and her home is close to being foreclosed upon.  She happens upon an advertisement for a cook at Carnton for the upcoming auction being held by the Women’s Relief Society in support of the Confederate cause.  Can this be the answer to her prayers?  Captain Jake Winston was recently injured and is unable to return to battle until he recovers.  Mrs. Colonel John McGavock from Carnton has requested a solider be present for the upcoming auction and it is Jake’s new assignment.  Jake does not understand why the women do not just donate money instead of hosting the big gathering to raise money.  Over time, though, Jake’s opinions change as he witnesses the hard work of the women and, in particular, Aletta Prescott. 

Christmas at Carnton is a lovely, heartening Christian novel.  It has great characters and a beautiful setting.  Christmas at Carnton is well-written and engaging.   Ms. Alexander knows how to draw her readers into her stories.  It was obvious that the author did her research for this series (on the battles, the conditions, what widows suffered and experienced, and on Carnton—a real place).  The novel contains prayer, hope, struggle, faith, grief, heartache, love, and so much more.  We are shown the true meaning of Christmas and that we should be thankful for each blessing in our lives.  Andrew, Aletta’s son, was a delightful addition to the story.  My rating for Christmas at Carnton is 4 out of 5 pumpkins (I liked it).  I appreciated that the author gave Aletta unique skills that were uncommon for a woman at that time (woodworking).  I look forward to reading each book in The Carnton Novels when they come out.  

I appreciate you visiting today and checking out my latest review.  I will return on Thursday with my evaluation of A Room with a Brew by Joyce Tremel.  May you have a remarkable day.  Take care and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

A Cajun Christmas Killing: A Cajun Country Mystery

Happy Book Release Day!  I just love waking up with new books on my kindle. Who remembers when they used to arrive in your mailbox on release day?  Some of the new titles out today are Hide and Seek by M.J. Arlidge (just wonderful), The Skeleton Paints a Picture by Leigh Perry, The Rules of Magic by Alice Hoffman, Death in St. Petersburg by Tasha Alexander, Death Overdue by Allison Brook, Murder on the Toy Town Express by Barbara Early, A Cajun Christmas Killing by Ellen Byron and Twelve Slays of Christmas by Jacqueline Frost

A Cajun Christmas Killing by Ellen Byron is the third book in A Cajun Country Mystery series.  Maggie Crozat and her family are busy with guests at the Crozat Plantation B&B and making Christmas preparations.  One of their guests, Donald Baxter is playing the part of Scrooge with his constant complaints.  Maggie is guiding a tour around Doucet and discovers their guest has become a ghost when she finds him stabbed to death.  Bo Durand, Maggie’s boyfriend, is a person of interest and Rufus Durand, his cousin, returns to be lead investigator (he is not a fan of the Crozat family—but he swears he has changed).  Maggie needs to find the real killer and clear Bo off the suspect list as well as herself and the rest of the Crozat family.  Her attention is diverted by Tannis Greer’s changes at Doucet (and her hideous new costume), her father’s ill health, numerous anonymous complaints about the B&B on a travel site, Lia’s revelations, and the return of her ex-boyfriend who is determined to exploit Bo’s son, Xander.  Just another typical week for Maggie in Pelican, Louisiana.  Come along for some Christmas fun in A Cajun Christmas Killing!

A Cajun Christmas Killing is an entertaining cozy mystery.  It has lively, unique characters and a small, quirky Southern town.  Maggie has a large extended family and many friends in Pelican.  It was interesting to read about the bonfires being built and how they are utilized on Christmas Eve (what a nifty tradition).  I just loved the descriptions of the old homes with original details (I am one of those people who loves squeaky old wood floors).  I found the story to be nicely written and to have a good pace (makes for an easy to read story).  There is quite a bit going on in A Cajun Christmas Killing.  I highly recommend reading the series in order.  It will help familiarize you with the characters (it can be hard to keep them all straight).  My rating for A Cajun Christmas Killing is 4 out of 5 pumpkins (I thought I would switch in honor of Halloween).  I do wish, though, that the mystery had been harder to solve.  I like to be challenged, and I accurately predicted the outcome before Maggie stumbled upon the body.  There are some delightful sounding recipes at the end of the book.  The ending was very satisfying (those who dislike Tannis will be merry).  I look forward to visiting Pelican, Louisiana again in the next A Cajun Country Mystery.

The first two books in A Cajun Country Mystery series are Plantation Shudders and Body on the Bayou.  I will return tomorrow to review Christmas at Carnton by Tamera Alexander.  May each of you have a stupendous day.  Take care and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader  

Monday, October 9, 2017

Colors of Christmas: Two Christian Christmas Stories by Olivia Newport

Happy Monday!  The Skeleton Paints a Picture by Leigh Perry will be out on Tuesday, October 10. Sid is back in the fourth book in A Family Skeleton Mystery series.

Colors of Christmas by Olivia Newport contains two inspirational Christmas stories.  Christmas in Gold stars Astrid who recently suffered a fall in her home causes her to break her ankle.  It was all her children needed to force her move into Sycamore Hills Community Living.  Carly is Astrid’s physical therapist at Sycamore Hills.  She has been having a challenging time since Truman started harassing her.  As time passes, Astrid tells Carly the story of her life in Germany during the war and what she experienced after immigrating to America.  Astrid’s strong character and perseverance give Carly hope and strength.   Is there a chance for a happily ever after in Carly’s future?  Will Astrid adjust to her new living arrangement?

Christmas in Blue is the second story starring piano teacher, Angela Carter.  Angela lives in Spruce Valley and she is lacking the Christmas spirit this year.  Her best friend, Carole passed away earlier in the year and it has left Angela feeling very blue.  Angela is late to A Christmas to Remember committee meeting and finds herself in charge of the whole events with only eight days to go.  A Christmas to Remember was Carole’s baby and the last thing Angela wants to do is take it over.  She soon discovers that the event seems to be doomed from the start with one catastrophe after another.  There is a stranger in town that stands out to the locals and they blame him for problems plaguing their celebration.  Angela, though, is happy to see Gabe despite what brought him to town.  Gabe provides Angela with hope and inspiration.  Will Angela be able to pull of A Christmas to Remember?  Why is Gabe in Spruce Valley? 

Colors of Christmas is well-written and easy to read.  I liked the characters, setting, and the Christian elements/lessons.  Astrid was a woman who had endured much hardship, but she had such a strong faith in God.  It was inspiring and heartening.  Christmas in Blue deals with depression which is common for many people during the Christmas season.  I liked the uplifting ending.  Some of the Christian messages or themes were faith, trust in God, hope, acceptance, courage, and perseverance.  I give Colors of Christmas 4 out of 5 stars (I liked it).  My favorite story was Christmas in Gold.  It had more depth and such a heartwarming conclusion.  Colors of Christmas contains two lovely, inspirational stories.  They show that Christmas is not about presents, but about helping people and honoring the one person who sacrificed everything for His believers.

May each of you have a dazzling day.  I will be featuring A Cajun Christmas Killing by Ellen Byron tomorrow.  Take care and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader

Sunday, October 8, 2017

All the Secret Places: A Gin Sullivan Mystery

Welcome!  Mining for Justice by Kathleen Ernst is out today.  It is the eighth installment in A Chloe Ellefson Mystery series.  A well-written and researched cozy mystery that takes readers back to 1983.  

All the Secret Places by Anna Carlisle is the second tale in A Gin Sullivan Mystery series.  Gin Sullivan is living back in Trumball, Pennsylvania with her boyfriend, Jake Crosby.  In the early morning hours, Jake receives a phone call that the house is in building for Leon Archer is in on fire.  While digging a fire break around the property, the fire fighters find a buried body.  When Jake is suspected of torching the home, Gin sets out to prove his innocence once again.  Gin gets hired to consult on the body which was found wearing an old military uniform.   Who is this person and how long have they been deceased?  Gin works with the abrasive Detective Bruce Stillman and the newly appointed Chief of Police Tuck Baxter to solve the crimes. 

All the Secret Places can be a standalone novel.  The author rehashes Gin’s background (growing up in Trumball, her parents, what happened to her sister, her career, love life) and what occurred in Dark Road Home (in detail).  The two mysteries have different levels of complexity.  Readers will find one mystery easier to solve than the other (one might even surprise some people).  I kept hoping there would be a twist to astonish me.  Gin’s personal issues dominated the storyline (relationship drama).  I quickly tired of Jake’s attitude and kept hoping Gin would ditch him for Tuck Baxter (I liked him).  For a smart woman, Gin makes poor choices especially regarding her safety.  I am amazed at how often she puts herself in perilous situations.  I am giving All the Secret Places 3 out of 5 stars.  I found All the Secret Places to be slow going in the beginning and a little long.  It could have used some editing to increase the pace and tighten up the story.  I wish there had been less repetition of the details surrounding the crimes (they kept repeating the same things over and over).   

Thank you for taking time out of your day to visit.  I will be reviewing Colors of Christmas by Olivia Newport next time.  I hope that you have a satisfying day. Take care and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader

Saturday, October 7, 2017

House. Tree. Person. by Catriona McPherson

House. Tree. Person. is a new suspense novel by Catriona McPherson.  Alison “Ali” McGovern along with her husband, Marco and son, Angel have just moved to small home after losing their dream home and their businesses.  Their quiet life is disturbed when a body is found next door at Dundeennan Abbey. Angel spends quite a bit of his free time at the abbey and Ali wonders if he knows more than he is revealing.  Marco is online and discovers an opening for a beauty therapist at the local high-end psychiatric facility, Howell Hall for Ali.  With a doctored resume, Ali applies and gets the position.  Ali has her patients draw her a picture containing a house, a tree, and a person.  It is amazing what a simple picture can reveal about a person.  She soon discovers that Howell Hall is full of secrets and danger.  Who buried the body at the abbey?  What is going on at Howell Hall? What happens when Ali gets too close to the truth?

House. Tree. Person sounded like such an intriguing suspense novel.  However, I found it to be a slow-paced novel that is deciding lacking in suspense (I wanted to be gripping my book, riveted, quickly turning the pages to find out what happened next—instead I was sighing with boredom).  The story plays out in an expected manner (no surprises or great twists).  The first half of House. Tree. Person. plods along with slightly more action in the second half.  Personally, I wish the story had not been written in the first person.  Ali is an unlikeable character (whiny, dramatic) and her ramblings made the story even worse.  I know what the author was trying to accomplish (make the story more intriguing and make readers assume things), but I was frustrated, displeased, annoyed, and irritated.  Ali overreacts to every single little thing.  I can understand why her son spends so little time at home.  To those of us who read mysteries like they are going out of style, you will figure out the guilty parties long before the reveal (foreseeable).  I did have trouble with some of the word usage (Scottish slang words used by Angel, the son).  Usually, I can discern the meaning from the context.  I wish the publisher had provided a dictionary at the end of the book (or changed out the words for Americans).  I do want to advise readers that there is foul language in this book.  My rating for House. Tree. Person. is 2 out of 5 stars (I was not a fan).  Parts of the story are just unrealistic (this is not science fiction).  Ali gets a job she is underqualified for and passes a background check that she knows she cannot pass.  Didn’t she wonder how this was accomplished?  The characters lacked depth/development.  I thought they were flat.  I did not feel this novel was up to Catriona McPherson’s usual standards.  

Thank you for stopping by today and reading my review.  I hope that each of you have a heavenly day.  I will return on Sunday to share my review of All the Secret Places by Anna Carlisle.  Take care, stay safe, and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader

Friday, October 6, 2017

Fixing to Die: A Southern Ladies Mystery

This week has just sped by so quickly.  Miranda James is the author of A Cat in the Stacks Mystery series (Claws for Concern will be out in February 2018) along with A Southern Ladies Mystery series.  The novels in A Southern Ladies Mystery series are Bless Her Dead Little Heart, Dead with the Wind, Digging Up the Dirt, and the latest is Fixing to Die.

Fixing to Die by Miranda James is the fourth book in A Southern Ladies Mystery series.  An’gel and Dickce Ducote have received a letter from Mary Turner Catlin about strange happening at her home, Cliffwood in Natchez, Mississippi. Mary Turner is at a loss and needs their help.  The sisters along with their ward, Bengy (and the pets) pack up and head to Natchez (with Bengy driving so they make it without any speeding tickets and get to enjoy the scenery).  Mary Turner was not kidding about the odd things occurring around the house—doors closing on their own, items moving around a room, cold spots, and strange shadows.  Is there a ghost at Cliffwood or is someone trying to get the Catlin’s out of their home?  The Ducote’s are just getting settled when a psychic shows up at the door saying she was drawn by a spirit who needs her help.  But she is not the only unwanted guest.  Two cousins and their lawyer descend on Cliffwood and insist upon staying for a few days (just what they need during their vacation time).  The next day Nathan Gable (one of the cousins) is found dead in his bed with a frightened expression on his face.  Did one of their unexpected guests kill Nathan or was it the spirit haunting Cliffwood?  An’gel and Dickce want answers and set out to reveal the truth.

Fixing to Die has some lively characters and a beautiful old home for the setting (I would love to live in it).  Miranda James did a wonderful job at portraying the accent of people who live in the South along with their characteristics.  The story contains some nice writing, but it lacked an ease. I thought Fixing to Die was a slow starter.   The murder did not occur until the 48% mark.  The murder mystery was straightforward and the majority of readers will identify the perpetrator long before the reveal (it can be deciphered before Henry Howard finds Nathan’s cold body).  The “hauntings” and who is behind them is equally unpuzzling. There was little investigation by the sisters.  They never looked at the body or checked out the crime scene.  Most sleuths would rush to check out both before the police arrive (the body would give them vital clues).  An’gel and Dickce asked questions, examined walls (for secret passageways), and endlessly speculated what could have happened.  The story is lacking in action and ending was anticlimactic.  The author also left some threads dangling at the end of Fixing to Die.  My rating for Fixing to Die is 3.5 out of 5 stars.  I would not recommend starting with Fixing to Die.  I have read the other books in A Southern Ladies Mystery series, and I felt a little lost in the beginning.  I liked what was called the Nancy Drew effect (made me laugh).  Who doesn’t want to find a secret passageway?  

I hope everyone has had a pleasant week and that you will have a relaxing weekend.  I will be sharing my thoughts about House. Tree. Person by Catriona McPherson next time.  Take care and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader

Thursday, October 5, 2017

A Hive of Homicides: A Henny Penny Farmette Mystery

Thank you for visiting today!  Ella's Journey by Lynne Francis is out today.  Join Ella on her journey to see what happens to her and her family.  The Girl Who Saved Ghosts by K.C. Tansley will be published on October 17.  It is the second book in The Unbelievables series.

A Hive of Homicides by Meera Lester is the third A Henny Penny Farmette Mystery.  Abigail “Abby” MacKenzie runs a farmette in Las Flores, California since she left the police force.  Abby is attending the vow renewal of her friend and truffle maker, Paola Varela and Jake Winston, owner of Country Schoolhouse Winery (and notorious womanizer).  There is a bit of kerfuffle after the ceremony with a blonde, but then everyone is off to the reception.   Abby heads off to locate Chef Emilio Varela to deliver the honey she promised as gifts for the guests.  The sous chef points Abby in the direction of the alley outside the kitchen.  Abby is outside looking for Emilio when she hears gunshots and then sees the shooters car.  Abby finds Jake and Paola in their car with Jake dead and Paola severely wounded.  A week later, Paola is in a coma and the case is going nowhere.  Abby is warned to not investigate, but she can think of little else.  She decides to start asking questions to see who would want to harm Jake and Paola.  Jake had created a lot of buzz around town with his numerous conquests and the blonde at the renewal seemed to dislike him as well.  When a second body turns up at the winery, Abby knows she needs to zero in on the killer before he strikes again.

A Hive of Homicides is nicely written and has a good pace.  I appreciated the bee and honey information the author included in the book (it was very interesting and informative).  The mystery is complex (I liked this part) and I think many readers will be surprised by the killer’s identity.  My rating for A Hive of Homicides is 4 out of 5 stars.  Abby was different in this book (and not in a good way).  Abby’s reaction to finding Jake and Paola was very unlike her.  For an ex-cop, you would expect her to be used to find dead bodies, seeing injured people, and finding herself in dangerous situations.  Instead, we are subject to nausea, shaking, and she is afraid of her own shadow (not our usual strong, feisty Abby).  The author did a good job at portraying PTSD as well as techniques to help Abby cope (she visits a counselor).  I did not the like the direction the author took Abby’s character in A Hive of Homicides.  It overshadowed the mystery.   There are many delightful cozy moments in the book and a sweet, hopeful ending.   The first two books in A Henny Penny Farmette Mystery series are  A Beeline for Murder and The Murder of a Queen Bee.

I appreciate you visiting and taking the time to read my book reviews.  I will be featuring Fixing to Die by Miranda James on Friday (October 6).  May you have a very happy day.  Take care and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Protocol: A Maggie O'Malley Mystery

Greetings!  Mining for Justice by Kathleen Ernst is the eighth A Chloe Ellefson Mystery and it will be published on October 8.  You Were There Before My Eyes by Maria Riva (daughter of Marlene Dietrich) will be released on October 10.

Protocol by Kathleen Valenti is the first book in A Maggie O’Malley Mystery series.  Maggie O’Malley has just started her new job as a clinical research associate at Rxcellance.  Maggie is enjoying drinks with co-workers after her first day at work when she reminder for a meeting on her phone.  However, Maggie did not schedule the meeting nor does she recognize the woman.  As she is leaving the bar, Maggie glances at the television and sees a report about a hit and run accident involving the same woman.  Maggie checks it off to a coincidence until it happens again.  Maggie contacts Gus who purchased the phone for her.  They start looking into the victims and find a connection back to Rxcellance.  Maggie and Gus dig into the case and they soon catch the attention of the killer.  Can Maggie find the necessary proof to put the culprit away before she becomes the next victim?

When I read the blurb for Protocol, I was intrigued.  It sounds like a great medical suspense/mystery novel.  However, the final product was disappointing (for me).  The story lacks suspense or scare factor.  I wanted to be drawn into the story and riveted until the very last page.  Instead, I found myself bored and skimming to get to the end (to see if I correctly identified the perpetrators).   I think, though, that some readers will be surprised when some of twists are revealed.  For the most part, the book is easy to read and has a good pace.  There are technical sections relating to medical research (medical conditions, chemistry, drug interactions) that slow down the pace (some of it is a little too technical for laypeople).  The writing is unpolished.  I wish the editor had given the book another going over and tightened it up.  The book is too long and the author left some dangling threads at the end.  My rating for Protocol is 2 out of 5 stars (I was not a fan).  The big problem was the main character—Maggie O’Malley.  She bumbles, stumbles, overreacts, loses items, breaks things and blushes her way through the book.  I am surprised that she has not started an epidemic (by dropping something deadly in the lab).  Maggie “trusts” a man that she has only been out with twice more than Gus she has known since childhood.  She barely knows him, but Maggie is willing to risk her life for him.  Most of the characters were not fully developed and the plot seems implausible (which I can overlook if the rest of the book was captivating—which it was not).  I do want to warn readers that Protocol contains foul language and gory crime scenes (great crime scene descriptions).

I hope you have found my review helpful.  I will be sharing my thoughts on A Hive of Homicides by Meera Lester on Thursday.  May each of you have a wonderful Wednesday.  Take care and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader