Tuesday, December 12, 2017

A Murder for the Books: A Blue Ridge Library Mystery

A Murder for the Books by Victoria Gilbert is the first installment in A Blue Ridge Library Mystery series.  Amy Webber is the library director for Taylorsford Public Library in Taylorsford, Virginia.  Amy took this position after an incident at Clarion University with her ex-boyfriend, Charles Bartos.  Amy is showing Richard Muir, Taylorsford’s newest resident, the archival building and she discovers the building is unlocked.  They find the missing Doris Virts (escaped her caregiver again) inside and she has been murdered.  Who would have wanted to kill Doris?  Richard needs Amy’s help in proving that Eleanora Cooper did not kill her husband (the case is from the 1920s).  Eleanora was acquitted of the crime, but the townspeople still did not believe her innocence.  Eleanora disappeared after the trial and was never seen again.  Richard’s great uncle Paul Dassin had been written a novel based on the trial and he had been in love with Eleanora.  Richard inherited his new home from Paul and wants to finally prove Eleanora’s innocence.  Is it possible the two crimes are related?  Amy and Richard set out to get answers, but someone is not happy with their sleuthing.  
A Murder for the Books has one of my favorite premises—a library and a librarian as a sleuth.  I appreciated the fact the Amy likes to solve mysteries (so do I). The book takes place over a matter of weeks as Richard and Amy look into the two murder cases.  I did feel the book was a little too long and could have used some editing (and rewriting).  There was too much speculation, reiteration, gardening, dancing and admiration of Richard’s physique.  The writing is nice, but the pace was sluggish.  The action picks up towards the end of the story, and then it slows back down again (the author dragged out the capture of the killer).   I did like the library, town, and especially Aunt Lydia (great character).  The mysteries had some intriguing aspects.  However, readers will have no problem solving them long before the reveal (which I find disappointing).  I wish the author had thrown a twist in towards the end to surprise readers.   I felt the romance was too pronounced and it progressed at a rapid pace.  I prefer a romance that plays out slowly over the course of a series (let the characters get to know each other first before they progress to the next level).  It seems that Amy is rushing into a new relationship after getting out of a bad one (that caused her to move to another town and get a new job).  Richard comes across as a creepy at times and slightly cheesy (especially his lines).  The ghost element never came alive for me.  It was there (more pronounced at the end), but it felt forced (the author did not pull it off).    I believe the author tried to put too many plots into one book (I only summarized the main points).  I am giving A Murder for the Books 3 out of 5 stars.  I am interested enough, though, to read the next book in A Blue Ridge Library Mystery series which is Shelved Under Murder (July 10, 2018).

I appreciate you visiting and reading my review.  I hope that you found it helpful.  I will be featuring Live and Let Fly by Clover Tate tomorrow.  It is the second book in A Kite Shop Mystery series.  May you have a capricious day.  Take care and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader   

Monday, December 11, 2017

Enchantress of Numbers: A Novel of Ada Lovelace

Hello!  Mistletoe Murder by Karen MacInerney is out today.  It is the fourth book in A Dewberry Farm Mystery series.  Lucy Resnick is looking forward to a cozy Christmas until the Randy Stone turns up dead with a knife in his back and a sprg of mistletoe in his hair!  The sheriff picks his culprit and does not wish to look any further.  It is up to Lucy to get justice for Randy.

Enchantress of Numbers by Jennifer Chiaverini is novel about the life of Ada Lovelace.  Augusta Ada Byron King, Countess of Lovelace, is the only child of Lord Byron and his wife, Annabella.  Not long after Ada was born, Annabella left her husband (Lord Byron had mental problems) and returned to her parent’s home.  Annabella does everything in her power to make sure the Byron blood does not destroy Ada’s life.  Fairy tales, make believe, poetry, passion (for life, ideas) and imagination are banned while mathematics, science, and languages are stressed in Ada’s education regime.  We follow Ada through her lonely childhood into adulthood with her overbearing mother and unorthodox education.  While in London during her first season, Ada meets Charles Babbage.  Ada is fascinated with Babbage’s Difference Engine and the plans he has for the Analytical Engine.  Ada wants to do what she can to help Babbage realize his dream.  She continues to study advanced mathematics, meets the love of her life, discovers the reason her parent’s marriage fell apart, and continues to pursue the development of Babbage’s inventions.  Will Ada be able to assist Babbage in achieving his dream? 

Enchantress of Numbers is well-researched and contains interesting information on Ada’s life (if you make it that far into the book).  The writing reminded me of a boring textbook (very dry).  I loved Jennifer Chiaverini’s The Elm Creek Quilts series which is well-written, has a good pace, and wonderful characters.  Enchantress of Numbers did not feel like it was written by the same author.  Part of the problem was the first-person narrative.  The story is first told from Annabella’s perspective and then from Ada’s point-of-view.  She shares her reminisces starting with infanthood (which is unbelievable).  Can any person remember being a baby especially with such detail?  It reminded me a diary where Ada tells us how her mother controls her life (never meets her father, told her blood is bad).  Any time Ada gets close to a caretaker, they are fired.  If she shows an interest in a subject (like making wings), it is discouraged.  The characters came across as flat.  They were not brought to life.  Ada (as well as her mother) is an unlikeable protagonist.  I find it difficult to read a book when I do not like the main character.  The mathematics sections will put many readers (non-mathematicians) to sleep (great if you suffer from insomnia).  They dragged on for pages.   The book was too long (it seemed to go on forever) and it was overly detailed.  Many times, I wanted to abandon my pursuit of completing this Enchantress of Numbers. There were a couple of interesting sections, but they were few and far between.  I’m sorry, but I was not enchanted by Enchantress of Numbers.

Thank you for visiting today and reading my latest review.  I will be featuring A Murder for the Books by Victoria Gilbert tomorrow.  It is the first book in A Blue Ridge Library Mystery series.  I hope that you have a very special day.  Take care and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Secrets of Cavendon: Cavendon Chronicles

Salutations!  Thank you for visiting today.  Please consider receiving my blog via email.  You can sign up and receive my latest reviews right in your inbox (right hand side of screen).  I am featuring the Cavendon Chronicles Series today by Barbara Taylor Bradford.  The first three books in the series are Cavendon Hall, The Cavendon Women, and The Cavendon Luck.

Secrets of Cavendon by Barbara Taylor Bradford is fourth book in the Cavendon Chronicles Series.  It is June in 1949 at Cavendon Hall.  Countess Cecily Swann Ingham is working to make the property profitable and for them to be able to pay the upcoming taxes.  Lady Daphne objects to how commercial Cavendon Hall is becoming and decamps with her husband to Switzerland.  Lady Cecily must now stay on at Cavendon Hall full time while managing her business, Cecily Swann Couture long-distance which has been struggling since the war ended.  Lady Cecily decides to create a new collection using the gardens at Cavendon Hall as inspiration.  Alicia Ingham Stanton is starting a new film and is taken by Adam Fennell, the associate producer.  Can Adam be the love of her life?  Victoria is busy doing photo shoots and is intrigued by her latest subject, Christopher Langdon.  Lady Daphne’s family is worried about her health, but she is evading their questions.  Life is never dull for the Swann and Ingham families.  Come see how they are faring in Secrets of Cavendon.
Secrets of Cavendon did not feel as if it was written by Barbara Taylor Bradford.  It lacked focus and jumped around from character to character (and kept introducing more people).  The last 15% of the book was the most interesting.  I was never pulled into the story the way I was with other works by this author (A Woman of Substance for example).  Before embarking on Secrets of Cavendon, you need to have read the first three books in the Cavendon Chronicles Series (or you will be utterly lost in the beginning).   The story dwells on Lady Cecily trying to keep the estate afloat.  There is a lack of action until the end of the book when a murder occurs.  Most of the characters lack depth, and they are all very similar (and felt fake).  Many of them are superficial and do not add to the story.  It is easy to predict how the book will turn out (it is expected).  I found many of the same details repeated throughout the story (like filler) along with information from the previous books in the series.  I do feel that Barbara Taylor Bradford accurately portrayed the financial woes that befell many great estates after World War II.  Otherwise, I was not impressed with Secrets of Cavendon.  I will hesitate before picking up another book by this author (she used to be one of my favorites).

I will return tomorrow with my review of Enchantress of Numbers by Jennifer Chiaverini.  I am currently reading Stowed Away by Barbara Ross (comes out December 26).  I was fortunate enough to win a copy from the author.  May you have an enchanting day.  Take care and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Hide and Seek: A D.I. Helen Grace Thriller

Welcome!  A Courtship on Huckleberry Hill by Jennifer Beckstrand will be released on December 26.  It is the eighth book in The Matchmakers of Huckleberry Hill series with Anna and Felty Helmuth.  You can count on Anna and Felty to match up another grandchild with their true love and throw in some crocheted (or knitted) items and Anna's inedible food.

Hide and Seek by M.J. Arlidge is the sixth book in D.I. Helen Grace series.  Helen Grace is behind bars in Holloway Prison and she is in general population.  Helen needs to find a way to stay alive until the trial or until Charlie Brooks can find the real killer—Robert Stonehill.  Just when Helen thinks her situation cannot get any worse, a body turns up in the next cell.  Grace (being Grace) cannot help but investigate the crime.  Then the killer strikes again.  Grace needs to work quickly to find the culprit before they kill again.  Making things more difficult is Annie, a gang leader, bent on causing Helen harm. Charlie is working quickly to locate Robert Stonehill and prove Grace’s innocence.  Charlie is risking her job to help her friend.  Helen and Charlie are racing against the clock.  Will Helen make it out of Holloway alive?  Can Charlie find Robert Stonehill in time to save Helen?  Who is killing the female prisoners in Holloway?
Hide and Seek is masterful.  M.J. Arlidge has done it again with Hide and Seek.  I found it well-written with a complex mystery and a fast pace.  There is plenty of action, suspense and twists.  The author keeps a reader guessing in this one (it was delightful).  I suggest that you read the books in the D.I. Helen Grace series in order.  The books in the series build on one another.  What happens in Hide and Seek is the result of what occurred in Little Boy Blue.  Helen is a complex character (intelligent, resilient, good instincts) with many layers (we have only scratched the surface in the first six books).  We get to see a different side of Helen in this story.  I was glad to see Charlie get more play in Hide and Seek.  She is also strong, smart, and feisty.    The action ramps up toward the end of the story, and I was glued to my e-reader.  I did not stop reading until I finished the book (I was riveted).  M.J. Arlidge keeps readers on the edge of their seats.  I am giving Hide and Seek 5 out of 5 stars (I loved it).  I have both the book and the audiobook (allowed me to listen to the story on the go).  The narrator did a wonderful job.  If you enjoy psychological thrillers/suspense novels, then Hide and Seek is for you.  I am eager to read the next installment in the D.I. Helen Grace series which is Love Me Knot.

I appreciate you visiting today and checking out my latest review.  I will return tomorrow with my review of Secrets of Cavendon by Barbara Taylor Bradford.  May you have a delightful day.  Take care, stay warm (it is in the 50s in my area of Florida) and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader

Friday, December 8, 2017

A Bella Flora Christmas: Ten Beach Road Novella

Thank you for stopping by today.  Stowed Away by Barbara Ross is the sixth book in A Maine Clambake Mystery series and it will be published on December 26.  

A Bella Flora Christmas by Wendy Wax is a Ten Beach Road Novella (#5.5).  It is almost Christmas at Bella Flora in Pass-a-Grille, Florida.  Kyra Singer is worried about losing Bella Flora thanks to the loan she took out to finance the remodel of the Sunshine Hotel (and get control of their show Do Over).  Kyra will be hosting Christmas for family and friends at Bella Flora before decamping.  She has rented out Bella Flora to a mystery tenant who will be arriving at the beginning of January.  Kyra also needs to decide whether to let her son (Dustin) act in Daniel Deranian’s (Dustin’s biological father) new movie.  The money will be helpful, but it will mean six weeks in the company of Daniel’s wife, Tonja.  Nicole, Avery, Madeline, Kyra, spouses, significant others, children and friends come together for Christmas.    It is a joyful holiday only marred by an unexpected and unwelcome arrival.  What decision will Kyra make about the movie?  Can they save Bella Flora once again?
A Bella Flora Christmas is a very short novel.  I recommend reading the Ten Beach Road books in order.  While details from the previous books is rehashed in A Bella Flora Christmas (unfortunately), new readers to the series will be confused (all the characters, various relationships).  I wish the author had not tried to make it a standalone.   A Bella Flora Christmas was too short, and it left fans of the series disappointed.  I wanted more Christmas and less reiteration. There is more drama between Kyra, Daniel and Tonja along with the Christmas celebration.  Kyra makes her decision and then the book ends (rather abruptly).  The story alludes to the mysterious renter, but readers are not told the persons identity.  We will have to wait for Best Beach Ever.  I was entertained by the names the ladies came with for Dustin’s new puppy.  The book is nicely written, but the pace was a little slow.  Kyra agonizing over decision dominated the book (with characters being introduced in between).  I found myself yelling at my e-reader telling her to decide already (she really needs the money and it is only six weeks) and to quit lusting after Daniel.  The series has well-developed characters that people will like and relate to with the exception of Tonja (every story needs a villain).  While I found A Bella Flora Christmas lacking, it will not keep me from reading the next book in the Ten Beach Road series. Best Beach Ever is the next book in the Ten Beach Road series and it will be published on May 22, 2018.

I will be back tomorrow with my review of Hide and Seek by M.J. Arlidge.  It is the sixth book in D.I. Helen Grace series.  I hope that you have a very special day.  Take care and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Not a Creature was Purring: A Paws and Claws Mystery

Not a Creature was Purring by Krista Davis is the fifth book in the A Paws and Claws Mystery series.  Holly Miller is looking forward to Christmas in Wagtail, Virginia with her Oma and large circle of friends.  Then Holly discovers that Holmes Richardson has brought his fiancĂ©, Norma Jeanne Blume along with her extended family home for the holiday.  Holly was hoping Holmes would realize Norma Jeanne was not the right woman for him and see that the perfect partner for him is right under his nose.  Dale Thackleberry, Norma Jeanne’s grandfather and CEO of a pet apparel company, is in the Christmas spirit and distributes gifts to local children (despite his families grumpy and haughty demeaner).  Rupert Grimpley, though, disturbs the entire town with his giant blow up Grinch (with lights and music).  Birdie Dupuy, Holly’s aunt, is particularly disgruntled over this new edition.  Holly is out walking Trixie when she takes off towards Rupert’s Grinch.  Inside, Holly finds the body of Dale Thackleberry.  Holly is asked to put her sleuthing skills to work and track down the killer.  Can Holly uncover the culprit before Christmas?  Is there a chance for Holly and Holmes?  There is if Holmes’ grandmother, Rose and Holly’s grandmother, Oma have anything to say about it.
Not a Creature was Purring was just delightful.  It has lovely, well-developed characters and a gorgeous setting.  Who would not want to live in Wagtail?  A place that welcomes people and fur babies.  Ms. Davis brings her characters and town to life with her descriptions.   I found the story to be well written and have a nice, steady pace.  My attention was grabbed right away, and it was held until the very last page (something I rarely say about a book).  It has two mysteries, Christmas spirit, secret Santa elves, a Christkindl Market, adorable dogs and cats, a couple of quirky characters, plenty of drama, a dash of humor and a touch of romance.  I found the murder mystery to be complex with a unique murder weapon.  There is misdirection, a couple of twists and several possible suspects (including Aunt Birdie). I believe many readers will be surprised by the killer’s identity.  I am giving Not a Creature was Purring 5 out of 5 stars (I loved it).  While Not a Creature was Purring is the fifth book in the series, it can be read alone.  There are human and pet recipes at the end of the book.  Personally, I find A Paws and Claws Mystery series delightful and have yet to miss each new installment.  Not a Creature was Purring is an entertaining cozy mystery that will put you in the Christmas spirit.  

Thank you for visiting and taking the time to read my review.  I will return tomorrow with my thoughts on A Bella Flora Christmas by Wendy Wax.  May you have a relaxing day during this hectic time of the year.  Take care and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Canal Days Calamity: A Dog Days Mystery

Thank you for visiting today.  How are you doing on your Christmas preparations?  I am a long way from being ready.  Kappy King and the Puppy Kaper by Amy Lillard will be released on December 26.  It is the first book in An Amish Mystery series.

Canal Days Calamity by Jamie M. Blair is the second book in A Dog Days Mystery series.  Cameron Cripps-Hayman is organizing Canal Days with Roy, Johnna, Anna and Logan (Metamora Action Agency) as well as helping her sister, Monica get ready for the opening of Dog Diggity.  While painting polka dots on the outside of the building, Cameron discovers a man dead on the bench behind Dog Diggity.   The victim, Butch Landow, was shot in the head and unhappy with people wanting his farm for a casino.  Andy (Monica’s handyman) gets arrested for the crime and Cameron knows that the police have the wrong man.  Despite Ben’s warning not to meddle, Cameron assembles the Metamora Action Agency to uncover the killer and get Andy out of jail. 

I wanted to give A Dog Days Mystery series a second chance.  I quickly discovered that Canal Days Calamity is not my type of book (I am not into the humorous, wacky, over-the-top cozy mysteries).  Canal Days Calamity is not a standalone story.  You need to read Deadly Dog Days prior to Canal Days Calamity (details a reader needs are missing from this story).  The murder occurs in the first chapter which leads to a long book.  I thought the mystery was simple and can be solved early in the story.  There was one silly incident after another along with an annoying mother, teenage antics, family drama, lots of food, dogs and cats (oh my), and frequent use of the phrase “good gravy”.  I found people’s reactions over-the-top.  Cameron is married to Ben (a police officer), but she is separated from her husband.  There are currently “dating” and Cameron contacts him to get intel on the case (and then he tells her to stay out of it—and she does not listen).   Canal Days Calamity has a quaint small town that is pet friendly and a variety of quirky characters.  I am just not the right audience for this series.  I prefer more substance and less zany (just my preference).  I am giving Canal Days Calamity 3 out of 5 stars.

I will return tomorrow with my review of Not a Creature was Purring by Krista Davis.  The fifth cozy mystery in A Paws and Claws Mystery series.  May you have a delightful day.  Take care and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Sweet Tea and Sympathy: Southern Eclectic

Greetings!  Enchantress of Number by Jennifer Chiaverini is out today along with Live and Let Fly by Clover Tate and Comic Sans Murder by Paige SheltonCrust No One by Winnie Archer will be released on December 26.  It is the second book in A Bread Shop Mystery series.

Sweet Tea and Sympathy by MollyHarper is the first book in Southern Eclectic series.  Margot Cary is an event planner with Elite Elegance in Chicago until her latest soiree is sabotaged by the chef (he put out a shrimp tower).   Margot loses her job and is unable to find another one after the party fiasco is posted on You-tube.  She is shocked when she receives a call from Tootie, her great aunt, in Lake Sackett, Georgia.  Tootie is offering Margot a job at McCready Family Funeral Home and Bait Shop (you can bury your loved one and then pick up bait for fishing).  Margot accepts the position, but she insists it is just temporary.  Margot soon discovers that life in Lake Sackett is very different from Chicago.  Everyone knows your name, your family and your personal business.  Margot delves into her new position and finds romance with elementary school principal, Kyle Archer.  But what happens when Margot gets offered a position out-of-state?

Sweet Tea and Sympathy is a quirky, zany over-the-top story.  The author shoved too many characters into the story.  There are numerous relatives and townspeople.  I found it impossible to keep them all straight (I gave up after a while).  The pace of the novel is slower than it needs to be (thanks to the numerous characters).  It needed a snappier pace.  I was not a fan of the humor.  Instead of being funny, I just found it unbelievable (lots of eye rolling).  The petty squabbling and backbiting got on my nerves.  I did not like the main character.  She thought she was better than her relatives (I found her annoying) and had the maturity level of a teenager (most of the time).  Margot’s constant complaints about the town’s coffee got on my nerves (and wondering why she did go out and buy a coffee maker).  Frankie, the mortician, was my favorite character.  She is unique and embraces it (she also loves her job).  The ending is expected and quickly wrapped up (with a nice big bow).  It seemed like the author took every Southern stereotype and shoved them into this story.  Moonshine, thick Southern accents, deep fried everything, and so on.  I did not laugh once while reading the book (my mother thought it was hilarious and claims I have no sense of humor).  Sweet Tea and Sympathy is a predictable Southern romance novel with the wacky factor ramped up.  I will stick with Molly Harper’s vampire novels which I just love.  The next two books in the Southern Eclectic series are Save a Truck, Ride a Redneck and Peachy Flippin' Keen.

I will return tomorrow with my review of Canal Days Calamity by Jamie M. Blair.  It is the second book in A Dog Days Mystery series.  May you have an astonishing day.  Take care and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader

Monday, December 4, 2017

A Spoonful of Magic:

Welcome!  We are still enjoying beautiful weather here in Florida.  The air has been in off in our home for almost a month (a record in our household).  The Runaway Children by Sandy Taylor will be released on December 8.  It will sweep readers back in time to England in 1942.

A Spoonful of Magic by Irene Radford is set in Eugene, Oregon.  Daphne “Daffy” Deschants has been married to Gabriel “G” Deschants for thirteen years and they have three children.  She thought they had a great relationship until she receives photos of him in bed with another woman.  Daffy is ready to confront him about his infidelity, when they are mugged.  G handles the robbers with magic and Daffy learns that her husband is a wizard.  Daffy is shocked to learn that G is the sheriff for Guild of Master Wizards and her children may also have magical gifts.  Daffy makes G move out of the house and then chaos ensues when her children’s magic starts bursting forth—Daffy quickly discovers that they are not the only ones in the house with talents.  To make things even more chaotic, G’s ex-wife—D’Accore (that Daffy thought was dead) has escaped from prison and is seeking Jason’s (her biological son that Daffy adopted) eyes for her own blinded ones.  The family will need to band together utilizing their magical gifts to defeat this menacing foe. 

A Spoonful of Magic was not what I expected.  At times it felt like a young adult story.  If the author had left out the parts about sex and infidelity, it would have fit into that genre nicely.  The book really did not need this element.  A Spoonful of Magic has one crazy antic after another (mostly involving the children who run amok after discovering their powers—all of them at the same time).  I found many details repeated throughout the book.  I never felt the suspense in the story with D’Accore coming after the family.  It missed the mark.  The book was too long and lacked a nice snappy pace.  I ended up skimming through the dull sections to get to the end of the book.  I was not taken with the main characters especially G.  He uses people to achieve his goals for work and home.  The characters lacked depth and development.  They all felt flat.  There were also contradictions.  Children upset with their father cheating on their mother, and then they soon forgive him.  G lied about many things over the years, but he felt it was justifiable.  I did like the part about how wizard’s pick their wands.  I found it an interesting tidbit.  A Spoonful of Magic  felt more like a rough draft than a finished manuscript.

I appreciate you reading my latest review.  I will be sharing my thoughts on Sweet Tea and Sympathy by Molly Harper tomorrow.  It is the first book in the Southern Eclectic series.  I hope that you have a fabulous day.  Take care and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Prism: The Color Alchemist

Thank you for visiting today.  On December 12, A Murder for the Books by Victoria Gilbert will be published along with The Trouble with Murder by Kathy Krevat.  

Prism by Nina Walker is the first book in The Color Alchemist series.  Jessa Loxley and her family are being questioned by General Faulk.  She is accusing one of the girls of being a color alchemist.  Jessa believes her younger sister, Lacey is responsible (she is the age when the gift starts manifesting) and wants to protect her.  That night, during Jessa’s first ballet solo, unbeknownst to her she starts using color alchemy.  Jessa is quickly taken into custody the Guardians of Color (GC) and escorted to the palace.  Jessa is one of the rare people who can work with red and King Richard wants her trained immediately.  Prince Lucas takes charge of her training, but he has an agenda of his own.  Prince Lucas has seen the work his father has ordered the color alchemists to do—the devastation.  When Prince Lucas was approached by the Resistance, he did not hesitate to join them.  Prince Lucas knows what his father will do if he gets Jessa to manipulate the color red.  Can he convince Jessa to join the Resistance?  Prince Lucas has the added worry of his mother.  Queen Natasha has been ill for some time and he suspects that someone is making her sick.  Who is doing this to her and why?  Jessa misses her family and just wants to return home.  Jessa does not know who she can trust.  To join Jessa and Prince Lucas on their adventure, pick up Prism. 

I found Prism to be intriguing.  I thought the use of color for magic a unique and creative concept (green for healing for example). The magic is based on chakras.  Personally, I could have done with less romance in the story (along with teenage angst and jealousy).  At times it dominated the storyline and it seemed too intense for two people that barely knew each other (especially since Jessa was only 16).  I thought the story contained good writing and had a good pace.  The second half of the story had a faster pace and more action (.  I did find some repetition of details and a couple of contradictory statements (eliminating both would enhance the book).  Prism is geared towards a young-adult audience who will just love this book.  It has magic, royalty, romance, action, intrigue, mysteries and much more.  I found the characters to be nicely developed and they act like normal teenagers (despite the book being set in the future in a dystopian world with magic).    The point-of-view alternates between Jessa and Lucas.  Readers can see the situation from both perspectives.   We only get a glimpse of the Resistance and it left me wanting to know more.  I especially want to find out more about Sasha.  The story continues in the second installment in The Color Alchemist series in Fracture.   I am giving Prism 4 out of 5 stars.  The next book The Color Alchemist series is Fracture.  Both books are available on Kindle Unlimited (through Amazon).

I appreciate you stopping by today and reading my latest book review.  I will be sharing my thoughts on Sweet Tea and Sympathy by Molly Harper tomorrow.  May you have a sparkling day.  Take care and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Full Bodied Murder: A Rose Avenue Wine Club Mystery

Welcome! The Ladies of Ivy Cottage by Julie Klassen will be available on December 5.  It is the second book in Tales from Ivy Hill series (historical romance).

Full Bodied Murder by Christine E. Blum is the first book in A Rose Avenue Wine Club Mystery series.  Annie “Halsey” Hall is thirty-six years old and starting over.  She has divorced her husband, starting a new software apps company, and moved across country from New York to Rose Avenue in California.  Halsey was happy to receive an invitation to attend the Rose Avenue Wine Club.  She is off to attend her first meeting with her puppy, Bardot.  Halsey finds the front door ajar and Bardot runs into the dark house.  After some stumbling and knocking into furniture, Halsey finds the homeowner with a kitchen knife protruding from her body.  It turns out that Halsey went to the wrong home for the meeting.  The victim is Rosa Sobel and the police have set their sights on Halsey as the killer.  To clear her name, Halsey, with the ladies of the Rose Avenue Wine Club, start investigating the residents of Rose Avenue to uncork the culprit.  It seems, though, that murder might not be the only criminal activity taking place on their street.  
Full Bodied Murder is not what I expected.  I thought the characters lacked development (along with the setting---we are told about the street, but what about the town—its name) and Bardot overshadows the secondary characters.  There are frequent mentions of wine and wine terminology (with dictionary at back of book for those who need assistance—like me).  With the amount of wine the group drank, I am surprised that none of them have problems with their livers.  I believe the author tried to cram too much into one story.  Every single person on Rose Avenue is quirky and there are numerous activities going on (yogurt shop, nosy neighbor, cars shifting around during the night, drug dealers, theft, illegal cameras, angry neighbors, etc.).  The story jumps all over the place with a distinct lack of focus.  Of course, let us not forget the police who concentrate their investigation on Halsey who did not even know the dead woman.  Halsey contaminates evidence and I am curious how they can get a conviction when she ruins the chain of custody on evidence.  Then there is the flirtation, romance and sexual innuendo/tension between Halsey and then men she encounters.  Full Bodied Murder also contains foul language (fair warning).  The various mysteries can be figured out by the readers.  The killers’ identity will come as no surprise.  The next book in A Rose Avenue Wine Club Mystery series is Murder Most Fermented (I will not be reading it).
I will be sharing my review of Prism by Nina Walker tomorrow.  It is a young adult paranormal novel and the first in The Color Alchemist series.  I hope that you have an amazing day.  Take care and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader

Friday, December 1, 2017

Mayhem & Mass: A Sister Lou Mystery

Happy December 1.  A Wedding At Mulberry Lane by Rosie Clarke is out today.  It is the second book in The Mulberry Lane Series.  It is a delightful historical series of book that takes place in Spitalfields, England during World War II.

Mayhem and Mass by Olivia Matthews is the first book A Sister Lou Mystery series.  Sister Lou LaSalle is a sister with St. Hermione of Ephesus in Briar Coast, New York.  She has invited her old friend, Dr. Maurice Jordan to be their speaker for Saint Hermione of Ephesus Feast Day presentation.  Sister Lou’s choice was not a popular one since Dr. Jordan, a theology professor, is known for his controversial views.  The day of his speech, Maurice fails to show up on time or respond to Sister Lou’s phone calls.  Sister Lou finds Maurice dead in his hotel room from blunt force trauma.  Deputy Fran Cole and Deputy Ted Tate focus on Sister Lou and her fellow sisters as suspects in Maurice’s death.  Sister Lou feels responsible for Maurice’s death and is determined to get justice for her friend.  She enlists her nephew, Chris LaSalle to help with the investigation.  Sister Lou and Chris are joined by Shari Henson, reporter for The Briar Coast Telegraph (despite Chris’ objections).  Can this threesome find Dr. Jordan’s killer or will they end up the next victims?
Mayhem and Mass had an interesting premise.  A sister who investigates crimes.  I found Sister Lou to be feisty, determined, smart, but lacking in her questioning technique.  Instead of nicely asking people questions in an unassuming way, she is forthright and direct.  It is off-putting.  Sister Lou ends up alienating every person she talks to during the course of the investigation.  The story takes place over a few weeks (be prepared to fall asleep).  I found the book to be slow paced and repetitive (same details rehashed).  The cops are portrayed as incompetent (which is mentioned frequently) and one is nasty (of course).  The mystery cannot be solved early in the story because the killer is not introduced until almost midway in the book (though the actual murder takes place much earlier).  There is misdirection and multiple suspects, but the culprit is obvious (once introduced).  Readers will have no problem surmising the guilty party and their motive.  The multiple points of view were a hinderance to the story.  The author should have stuck with telling the story from Sister Lou’s perspective or third person (instead of alternating with Chris and Shari).  It felt like Shari and Sister Lou were competing for dominance in the book instead of Sister Lou coming across as the main character.  Then we have Chris worrying about his aunt’s safety, his job and his attraction to Shari (repetitive).  Shari wants to further her career and is fighting with her boss who prefers to portray Briar Coast as the perfect small town with no issues (unrealistic).  Let us not forget the extremely negative Sister Marianna and her constant criticism.  The author seemed to delight in telling readers about every little detail of rooms (especially the color of each item). How many times do I need to be told about Sister Lou’s powder blue chairs?  Once was enough.  I wanted to like Mayhem and Mass, but I found it tiresome, tedious, and boring (and in need of editing).  The next book in A Sister Lou Mystery series is Peril and Prayer (June 2018). 

I will return tomorrow with my review of Full Bodied Murder by Christine E. Blum.  The first book A Rose Avenue Wine Club Mystery series.  Thank you for visiting today.  Take care and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Death Comes to the School: A Kurland St. Mary Mystery

Good Day!  It is the final day of November.  My sister and grandmother were born on this day.  A Murder for the Books by Victoria Gilbert will be released on December 12.  It is the first book in A Blue Ridge Library Mystery series.  

Death Comes to the School by Catherine Lloyd is the fifth book in A Kurland St. Mary Mystery series.  Christmas is quickly approaching in 1820.  Lady Lucy Harrison and her husband, Major Sir Robert Kurland are having issues in their relationship since her last miscarriage.  Robert hopes to improve Lucy’s spirits by bringing Aunt Rose Armitage to town who dives in to help Lucy plan the Christmas ball.  Then Lucy receives an anonymous threatening note and she is not the only lady to receive one.  Who is sending them out and why?  Robert goes to the schoolhouse to speak with the schoolteacher, Miss Broomfield about her teaching methods and discovers her dead in her chair with a quill through one eye (someone making a point).  Did Miss Broomfield write the threatening notes?  Over her husband’s objections, Lucy starts asking questions and nosing around.  Will the killer be apprehended before the Christmas festivities commence?
Death Comes to the School can be a standalone.  However, you will miss out on the early years of Lucy and Robert’s relationship.  I found the story to be nicely written and have a good flow.  I did, though, tire of the miscommunication and bickering between the couple.  I missed the easy rapport we normally experience between the couple (who are usually open with each other and very frank).  It was present throughout the whole book and took away from an otherwise enjoyable story.  It was odd and did not fit with the characters.  I found the mystery to have several layers, and it was appealing.  The killer’s identity can be discerned long before the reveal (which was disappointing to me) despite the author’s attempt at misdirection.  I always enjoy visiting A Kurland St. Mary Mystery characters.  They are well thought out and developed.  It was nice to see how Christmas was celebrated in Kurland St. Mary and that time-period.  The author certainly captured the era in this series with the events, how they communicated, method of travel, clothing, and language.  My rating for Death Comes to the School is 4 out of 5 stars (I liked it).  The other novels in A Kurland St. Mary Mystery series are Death Comes to the Village, Death Comes to London, Death Comes to Kurland Hall, and Death Comes to the Fair.

I will be reviewing Mayhem and Mass by Olivia Matthews.  The first book in A Sister Lou Mystery series. I hope that each of you have a remarkable day.  Take care, stay safe and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader