Tuesday, January 31, 2017

The Newcomer: An Amish Beginnings Novel



The Newcomer by Suzanne Woods Fisher is the second book in An Amish Beginnings Novel series.  The Charming Nancy has arrived at Port Philadelphia on October 15, 1737.  The group is happy to arrive after ten long weeks at sea.  Jacob Bauer, the bishop and founder of their new settlement, is there to meet them.  Jacob and his wife, Dorothea are happy to reunite with his long, lost son Bairn, the ship’s carpenter.  Jacob’s land is the farthest he could purchase under British rule with his land warrants (and you have to get through the Indians first).  Jacob wants to make sure that they are truly separate from others who do not share their Amish beliefs.  Jacob gets tired of waiting for the group to be able to depart for their new home and sets out ahead with Dorothea.  The men on the ship cannot travel until they swear allegiance to the British crown.  This is problematic for these religious men.  Bairn finds a way to help the men, but he starts having doubts about becoming a farmer after marrying Anna Konig.  Bairn is offered an opportunity as first mate on a ship, and he jumps at it.  One final journey and then he will settle down with Anna (he assures her).  But is Anna willing to wait for Bairn?  Will Bairn ever be happy away from the sea?  Henrik Newman arrives in Port Philadelphia and wishes to join the group on their journey to their new settlement.  Henrik is charming and outgoing (opposite of Bairn). He becomes indispensable to the group.  Will Henrik also win Anna’s affections while Bairn is away?  The Amish’s journey to their new settlement will not be easy nor will Bairn’s on the ship especially after he finds a stowaway.  To see how they fare, start reading The Newcomer

The Newcomer is a different take on an Amish novel.  We are taken back in time to when the Amish first came to America (to have religious freedom).  In Anna’s Crossing (the first book in An Amish Beginnings Novel series) we experience their trip on the Charming Nancy.  In The Newcomer we get to see how different life is in America for this group.  The Newcomer is well-written and has good characters.  My favorite character is Felix.  I like his curious nature (he is also entertaining).  I appreciated Ms. Woods writing style.  I also liked the time-period and felt that Suzanne Woods Fisher did a very good job at capturing it.  I was especially entertained with her addition of Benjamin Franklin.  I give The Newcomer 4 out of 5 stars.  I did feel, though, that the pace of the book was a little slow in a couple of sections and there is a little predictability (regarding Henrik, Felix—the little rascal, and the romance between Anna and Bairn).  The Newcomer can be read alone.  The author summarizes what occurred in Anna’s Crossing (I do recommend reading it, though, because it is such a lovely novel).  I look forward to reading The Return (the conclusion to the series) when it releases on August 1.

I hope you had a good day and that you have an even better night.  I am currently reading An Amish Home (four novellas) by Amy Clipston, Beth Wiseman, Kathleen Fuller, and Ruth Reid.  I will see you tomorrow when I review another new novel.    Take care and Happy Reading!

Kris
The Avid Reader

Monday, January 30, 2017

Murder Wears White: A Wedding Planner Mystery


Happy Monday!  I spent the day doing various chores around the house and yard today.  It was such a nice, peaceful day (I get so few of these).  

Murder Wears White by Stephanie Blackmoore is the second book A Wedding Planner Mystery series.  Mallory Shephard is having Thistle Park, the home she inherited from Sylvia Pierce, renovated.  She is turning it into a bed and breakfast as well as a wedding venue (Mallory is also launching a wedding planning business).  Then Whitney Scanlon throws a wrench in the works.  She wishes to move her wedding from June to November 1 (in just four weeks).  Whitney’s father, Porter is ill and his last wish is to walk Whitney down the aisle.  Mallory, of course, agrees without consulting with her contractor, Jesse Flowers.   It turns out that there have been “accidents” on the site.  After Rachel, Mallory’s sister, almost falls through a newly installed railing, it is suggested that the house is haunted.  Rachel (without Mallory’s permission) agrees to have The Port Quincy Paranormal Society check out the house.  Whitney is attending a tasting with Porter, and her two aunts, Lois and Angela (along with Lois’ three Westies).  Afterward, Lois starts choking and collapses.  Lois dies before the paramedics can arrive.  Who wanted Lois dead? Whitney’s mother was murdered twenty years prior.  The man convicted of the crime claims he is innocent and Whitney has been receiving anonymous letters regarding Eugene Newton, the convicted man.  Is there a connection between the deaths of Vanessa and Lois Scanlon?  Mallory wants to resolve these issues for Whitney before her wedding. Someone, though, sets out to sabotage her efforts.  It is going to be a busy four weeks for Mallory.  Will Whitney be able to get married on November 1?


Murder Wears White is a very busy novel.  I only summarized the main events.  It seems there is one zany thing after another (and I was not laughing).  Murder Wears White is easy to read and can be finished in just a few hours.  While it is the second book A Wedding Planner Mystery series, it can be read as a stand-alone.  The contents of the first book (Engaged in Death) are summarized in Murder Wears White.  I give Murder Wears White 3 out of 5 stars.  The murders of Lois and Vanessa were complex, but easily solved.  I knew exactly what killed Lois before she started choking.  I could tell you the culprits identity by the time I was 40% of the way through the novel.  The secondary riddle of the mysterious ghost and the work-related accidents is no brain teaser.  One conversation gave away the identity of the perpetrator.  I wish this author had not packed such much nuttiness into Murder Wears White.  I especially detested Delilah Flowers, Jesse’s obnoxious mother.  She is a tarot reading, scooter riding terror that comes to work with Jesse.  She drives her scooter around Thistle Park terrorizing the workers and Mallory.  Why would anyone hire Jesse if he insists on bringing Delilah with him?  Rachel Shephard continually steals her sister’s clothes and jewelry without returning them.  She is also a big flirt who dates any handsome man with a heartbeat (or so it seems).  Lois and her three dogs that she takes with her including to a stranger’s home for a wedding tasting.  Do you see what I mean (and there is still more)?  One of these things would be funny, but several of them has me just shaking my head. I just felt that all this detracted from the novel.  I wish the author had focused on the main mystery.  It was enough for this book along with the wedding and house renovations.  I believe it would have made for a more enjoyable novel.  Murder Wears White releases on Tuesday, January 31.

The first book in A Wedding Planner Mystery series is Engaged in Death and it is currently $1.99 on Amazon.  I am off to relax for the night (some great shows on tonight).  I am currently reading A Death at the Yoga Cafe by Michelle Kelly.  May all of you have a peaceful evening.  I will return tomorrow.  Take care and Happy Reading!

Kris
The Avid Reader

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Two Suitors for Anna: A Keepsake Pocket Quilt Novel


Salutations!  Thank you for visiting and reading my latest book evaluation.  It is a cold and wet Sunday.  The perfect day for relaxing inside with a good book, hot chocolate, and a movie playing on the television.

Two Suitors for Anna by Molly Jebber is A Keepsake Pocket Quilt Novel.  Anna Plank has been seeing Noah Schwartz for the last three years since her family moved to Berlin, Ohio.  Lately, though, Noah has begun to grate on her nerves.  Noah likes to change things up, and he keeps pushing Anna.  Anna is happy with her life, family and job at Grace’s Dry Goods Shop.  Noah has a big surprise for Anna.  After they marry, he wishes to move to Lancaster, Pennsylvania.  Anna does not wish to leave her family and start over especially since Noah is not sure that he wants to settle forever in Lancaster.  Noah moves forward with his plans and moves within a week to Lancaster.  Daniel Bontrager has just moved to Berlin from Lancaster (what a coincidence).  Daniel is taking over his deceased brother’s farm.  Daniel is instantly taken with Anna and is happy to hear that she is now available.  Daniel slowly gets to know Anna, and they start spending more time together.  Daniel is especially helpful with Anna’s younger sister, Leah.  Leah gets involved with an Englischer who cannot take no for an answer.  But then Noah returns to town.  Anna’s heart is torn between these two men.  Anna will need to pray and ask for God’s guidance so she can make the right decision.  Then something unexpected enters Anna’s life that will complicate her decision, but it will greatly enhance her life.  Return to Berlin, Ohio to see what choice Anna will make and catch up with the characters we have come to know and love in Two Suitors for Anna.

Two Suitors for Anna is well-written, has a good pace, lovely setting, and a nice time period (1903).  I liked the characters.  They are realistic and relatable (they feel like real people).  I give Two Suitors for Anna 4.25 out of 5 stars.  The only negative comment I have is that I did find the book predictable.  I knew what would happen once April Cooper entered the scene.  I like the life lessons provided by the author.  Two Suitors for Anna is an uplifting novel.  I enjoyed reading this book, and I stayed up late to finish it (I knew how it would end, but I still wanted to read it).  Two Suitors for Anna can be read alone, but I recommend checking out the other books in A Keepsake Pocket Quilt series.  All the books in the series are heartening stories that will leave you with a smile on your face and good feeling in your heart (corny, but true).  Two Suitors for Anna will be out on Tuesday, January 31.  

Change of Heart (currently $1.99 on Amazon) and Grace's Forgiveness are the other two books in A Keepsake Pocket Quilt series.  I am currently reading Fever in the Dark by Ellen Hart (slow starter). May each and every one of you have a happy night.  I have a few chores to finish up before I relax.  I will return tomorrow to review Murder Wears White by Stephanie Blackmoore.  Take care and Happy Reading!

Kris
The Avid Reader


Saturday, January 28, 2017

Murder Go Round: A Witch City Mystery series


How is everyone today?  I am, thankfully, much better today.  I do not like it when I am so sick I do not even want to read (for me that is very, very sick).  Cold weather has hit Florida.  You can tell when it is cold for Floridians because we actually wear jeans, sneakers, and a light jacket (no short, sandals or flip flops).  My oldest dog, Wolfie, just loves the cooler weather.  She is a Siberian Husky! 

Murder Go Round by Carol J. Perry is the fourth book in A Witch City Mystery series.  It is late August in Salem, Massachusetts.  Maralee “Lee” Barrett and her aunt, Ibby (Isobel Russell) are going to a storage locker auction.  The first locker looks like it is full of junk, but Ibby notices the writing on one of the boxes.  They bid and win.  What looks like a space full of junk, turns out to be full of treasures.  There is a beautiful hand-carved wood carousel horse wrapped in a crazy quilt, a gorgeous clock, Russian nesting dolls, and a gorgeous sterling silver samovar.  But it seems that someone else wants their newly acquired gems.  They sort through the many items and divide them into piles.  One pile heads to the curb, one for the local charity shop, and the final (and much smaller) pile heads into the house.  Pete Mondello, a police detective and Lee’s boyfriend, helps Lee take the carousel horse to Paul Carbone be refinished.  That night Lee receives a call from Pete that Paul’s shop has been broken into.  Someone took apart her carousel horse and the police found a man deceased outside Paul’s shop.  It is soon obvious that the culprit is not finished.  The next morning, they discover that the trash from the storage locker has disappeared from the curb during the night (trash men are not that efficient).  The items at the thrift shop are also gone. What could they be looking for?  Lee uses her special ability (she can see visions in reflective surfaces) along with clues from her equally unique cat, O’Ryan to help Pete solve the case. 

Murder Go Round is easy to read, and I like the setting of Salem, Massachusetts.  While Murder Go Round is the fourth book in A Witch City Mystery series, it can easily be read alone.  The author updates the reader on what has occurred in the previous novels.  The mystery is intriguing.  I like how it takes us back to Czar Nicholas II (the last Czar of Russia before the revolution).  I give Murder Go Round 3 out of 5 stars.  I did not enjoy Murder Go Round as much as I did the previous books in the series.  I found information to be repeated (especially about the case) and the mystery was not difficult to solve.  I was able to ferret out the culprit early in the book.  I wish there had been less time spent on Raven and her tarot card reading.  I did not feel it enhanced the story (it was distracting and the cards are confusing).  I wish that Lee would embrace her abilities.  I am tired of her complaining about her unique gift.  Lee mentions more than once that she associates her gift (visions) with death and dying (what does she expect when she solves mysteries and helps her detective boyfriend).  I believe the author needs move Lee forward.  We need to see her character grow, develop and embrace her gift.  I will read the next book in A Witch City Mystery series.  I will give it another shot to see if there is improvement.  Murder Go Round will be released on Tuesday, January 31.

The other novels in A Witch City Mystery series are Caught Dead Handed, Tails You Lose, and Look Both Ways.  Thank you for visiting. I am currently reading Unpunished by Lisa Black May all of you have a special evening.  Take care and Happy Reading!

Kris
The Avid Reader




Friday, January 27, 2017

The Swap


Happy Friday!  Unfortunately, I am stuck in bed today due to illness. My review will be a littler shorter than usual.

The Swap by Nancy Boyarsky is an entertaining mystery book. Nicole and Brad Lewis are flying to London for the summer.  Brad’s office has sent him across the pond to handle an acquisition.  Nicole insisted on going with Brad because she felt that they need the time together, not apart, to work on their marriage.  They arranged to swap houses with a couple named Lowry.  The Lowry’s would live in the Lewis’ condo in LA while the Lewis lived in the Lowry’s home in Cheswick.  Nicole starts having trouble from the moment they land at Heathrow.  First she is missing a suitcase, then someone breaks into the house and locks Nicole in the bathroom, and then she is attacked at the museum.  This is just the beginning of Nicole’s adventure in the United Kingdom.  Nicole is determined to find out what happened to the Lowry’s and why someone keeps trying to kidnap her.  Read The Swap to find out what happens to Nicole and the solution to the mystery!   I was drawn into this story and kept reading until the end.  It is nicely written and has good characters.  I really liked the mystery with its twists and turns.  I give The Swap 4 out of 5 stars.  I look forward to reading books by Nancy Boyarsky in the future.

Thank you for visiting.  Hopefully, I will be better tomorrow.  Have a good Friday night.  Take care and Happy Reading!

Kris
The Avid Reader

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Dog Gone Ghost: A Southern Ghost Hunter Mysteries Novella


Greetings!  I hope you have had a good Thursday.  I got sweeping done today.  When you have dogs, you need to sweep frequently. Or, you have dog fur dust bunnies swirling across the floor!  Dog Gone Ghost by Angie Fox was released today.  It is a part of The Southern Ghost Hunter Mysteries.  The other books in the series are Southern Spirits (currently free on Amazon), The Skeleton in the Closet, The Haunted Heist, A Ghostly Gift (novella), Ghost of a Chance (novella) and Deader Homes and Gardens (which is now available in audiobook form).  You can connect with Angie Fox on Facebook , follow her on Amazon, and get more details about her novels on her website.

Dog Gone Ghost by Angie Fox is the latest short story (Book 4.5) in The Southern Ghost Hunter Mysteries.  Verity Long is trying to teach her pet skunk, Lucy to walk outside using an adorable gingham harness and matching leash.  Unfortunately, the training is not going well.  It does not help that Lucy is afraid of Frankie, the resident 20s gangster ghost.  Verity is trying to coax Lucy out from the woodpile when she is approached by Bree LaMont. Bree works at the Sugarland Animal Sanctuary.  Recently, someone has started letting the animals out of their cages at night.  Bree would like Verity to use her ghost hunting abilities, but she is unable to pay her.  Verity agrees to trade leash training for ghost hunting.  Everyone is happy except Frankie, who prefers cold hard cash.  It takes a little convincing, but Verity finally gets Frankie to agree to assist.  Later that night, Verity, Lucy and Frankie head to the sanctuary.  In solving the sanctuary’s problem, Verity will also get answers on what happened to a little boy who disappeared a decade ago.  Join Verity, Frankie and Lucy on their latest caper in Dog Gone Ghost.

Dog Gone Ghost is just delightful.  It will make you laugh out loud, and you might even shed a tear.  I found Dog Gone Ghost to be well-written, easy to read, and to have a fast pace.  This book (actually the series) has loveable characters that you want to revisit again and again.  I give Dog Gone Ghost 5 out of 5 stars.  Dog Gone Ghost is a short story, but it is a delightful addition to The Southern Ghost Hunter Mysteries.  While Dog Gone Ghost can be read alone, I suggest you read all the books in this highly engaging series.  Frankie, his friends and antics are a constant source of amusement.  I cannot wait for Sweet Tea and Spirits (the next book in the series) to come out this spring.

I am off to finish The Amish Cooking Class:  The Seekers by Wanda E. Brunstetter and eat dinner.  A new show starts tonight on The CW.  It is called Riverdale (it is up against Scandal).  I hope all of you have a delightful night.  I will see you tomorrow when I return to review another new novel.  Take care and Happy Reading!

Kris
The Avid Reader

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Phantom Limb


I hope all of you have had a delightful Wednesday.  I spent the day doing housework and a little yard work.  I was down with my headache trifecta yesterday (I suffer from three types of headaches), so I had extra work to do today.  After all the wind we had this past weekend, I had several trash cans of limbs.  I am still working at raking up the leaves.  When I purchased this house, I thought the trees would be helpful in keeping the house cool.  I did not take into account the work involved in raking and picking up fallen leaves.

Phantom Limb by Lucinda Berry is the story of Elizabeth and Emily Rooth.  Emily and Elizabeth are twenty years old and identical twins.  They had an extremely difficult childhood with an abusive (cruel, depraved) mother.  The twins were lucky enough to be adopted when they are eight by Dalila and Bob Rooth (they are patient and loving people).  After graduating from high school, the pair moved into their own apartment.  Elizabeth is attending a local college on scholarship and works as a telemarketer (because of the flexible hours).  Elizabeth is also dating Thomas (a seminary student), but she has yet to work up the nerve to tell Emily.  Emily has had a difficult time since they moved into the apartment.  Emily suffers from severe depression and is a cutter.  Some days she cannot get out of bed.  Elizabeth devotes herself to taking care of Emily.  One day Elizabeth finally tells Emily about Thomas.  Emily does not take the news well and refuses to let him in the apartment.  A couple of days later Thomas tells Elizabeth that Emily confronted him one day outside work (Emily was not nice).  That evening the two of them have a fight.  Emily goes into the bedroom and slams the door.  Elizabeth can hear her crying, but refuses to comfort her this time.  The next morning Elizabeth goes to check on Emily and finds her dead in the bathroom.  A week later Elizabeth wakes up in the hospital.  Elizabeth is put in the psych ward with a team of professionals to help her.  They slowly help her discover what happened and how she ended up in the hospital.  Elizabeth is in for some startling revelations. 


Phantom Limb is listed as a psychological thriller, but it does not read that way.  I did not even find it mysterious or suspenseful. Phantom Limb has a decent pace except for the areas about various psychological conditions (technical talk).    I give Phantom Limb 3 out of 5 stars.  Phantom Limb is more the telling of a horrific story.  The two “twists” were easy to predict.  I wrote down what I thought would be the revelations and then read the book to see if I was right (I was).  I was hoping to be stumped or shocked (it is supposed to be psychological thriller).  I found the ending to be expected.  Phantom Limb does contain violence, child abuse, and upchucking (be careful not to eat while reading).  Phantom Limb shows a good example of a person who should not have children (and the damage the wrong parent can inflict on children). Phantom Limb is available on Kindle Unlimited (great program on Amazon). 

I will be reviewing Dog Gone Ghost by Angie Fox tomorrow.  I am going to enjoy my dinner and then watch my shows (Arrow, Frequency, and Code Black).  I am reading Murder Wears White by Stephanie Blackmoore.  May all of you have a enchanting evening. Take care and Happy Reading!

Kris
The Avid Reader  

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Because You're Mine


Salutations!  Angie Fox's latest The Southern Ghost Hunter Mysteries comes out January 26.  It is titled Dog Gone Ghost (book 4.5 in the series).  It will be available for purchase on Amazon on that date.  It is a cute and humorous story.  Now is the perfect time to see if this series is for you.  The first book, Southern Spirits, is currently free on Amazon (for a limited time).

Because You’re Mine is the latest novel by Colleen Coble.  Alanna Connolly is a singer and fiddle player in the band Ceol.  Alanna created the Celtic band that includes Fiona, Ciara, Ena.  Alanna’s husband, Liam plays percussion instruments for Ceol.  After a performance in Charleston, Liam is going out with his friend, Jesse Hawthorne.  The pair went to college together in Ireland.  Liam leaves with Jesse and Alanna heads out in the van with her bandmates.  They get down the street when there is an explosion.  Jesse’s yellow sports car is in flames.  Only one of the men survived the explosion.  The paramedics ask the survivor his name and they are told Jesse.  Alanna is devastated at the loss of her husband especially since she is four months pregnant with their first child.  Upon returning to Ireland for the funeral, Liam’s father, Thomas threatens to sue for custody of Alanna’s baby (their last link to their son). Alanna will not let them get her son and asks Barry Kavanagh, lawyer and band manager, for assistance.  Alanna wishes to become a citizen of the United States.  Barry tells her the fastest way to accomplish it is to marry and he proposes.  Barry is from an old southern family in Charleston, and he will be able to keep the child (and Alanna) safe.  Alanna quickly agrees and they marry eight weeks after Liam’s funeral.  After the wedding, Barry takes Alanna to his old family home twenty miles from Charleston.  The big house is positioned near a swamp that is home to a gator named Pete.  The home is in desperate need of repairs.  It turns out that Barry neglected to mention a few things to Alanna.  The crumbling Kavanagh home is full of secrets and danger.  To make things worse, Jesse keeps popping up in Alanna’s life.  Jesse has memory of life before the accident and he does not like what he has discovered.  He wants to make changes.  Join Alanna, Jesse, and Barry in Because You’re Mine.


Because You’re Mine is nicely written and easy to read.  I found the storyline to be predictable.  I could tell how the book would end before Alanna married Barry (I forecasted every “twist”).  I found several things odd and just plain unbelievable.  Alanna likes to walk around without her shoes on.  Would you walk near a swamp without shoes on?  Especially since there are snakes and gators hanging around!  I can understand wanting to protect her unborn child, but rushing into marriage with a man you barely know.  Alanna also fails to research citizenship requirements or custody laws for herself (would you trust an American attorney on Irish law).  I give Because You’re Mine 2 out of 5 stars.  I thought Alanna to be very na├»ve and gullible for someone who is about to turn thirty.  I was disappointed in the books ending.  The author did not wrap up all the threads with the epilogue.  I felt Because You’re Mine an expected love story, and it reminded me of those chick flicks that I do not watch on Lifetime.

Thank you for visiting.  I hope all of you have a good evening. Take care and Happy Reading!

Kris
The Avid Reader

Monday, January 23, 2017

The Fifth Petal


Hello.  I hope everyone is having a good Monday.  I am reviewing Brunonia Barry's latest novel in The Lace Reader series today.  The first book in the series is The Lace Reader.  Another novel by this author is The Map of True Places.  You can follow Brunonia Barry on Amazon and receive updates on her latest novels.

The Fifth Petal by Brunonia Barry is the second book The Lace Reader series.  John Rafferty is the police chief for the town of Salem, Massachusetts.  It is Halloween which is a busy time in Salem and a big problem just landed in his lap.  Rose Wheelan has been arrested for the murder of Billy Barnes.  Billy along with his pals, James and Monk were tormenting Rose (Billy sliced her check with a knife).  Billy’s great-aunt, Helen Barnes wants justice.  Helen along with many others in Salem, feel Rose is a nuisance and a murderess.  They blame Rose for the murder of three women in 1989.  It is Salem’s famous cold case known as The Goddess Murders.  Twenty-five years ago, Rose was a respected scholar in the community. On November 1, 1989 Rose and a little girl were the only survivors of a brutal slaying on Proctor’s Ledge.  Rose has never been the same since then.  She now wanders the city talking to trees and looking for the original hanging tree.  John decides to start looking into the cold case and see if he can solve it.  He wants to prove Rose’s innocence.  Callie Cahill has been living in Northampton and working as a music therapist.  When she reads about Rose in the paper, she is shocked.  The nuns had told her that Rose was dead.  Callie is the other survivor of that fateful night.  Callie wants to help Rose, and she would love to finally get answers on what happened to her mother.  Callie’s mother, Olivia was one of the victims along with her two friends, Cheryl Cassella and Susan Symms.  It turns out that each person who was present that night was related to a “witch” executed  in 1692.  Callie, thanks to her visions, will be able to assist John with the investigation.  What were the women doing on Proctor’s Ledge that Halloween night?  Is the real killer a human, a witch, or something far more sinister?

The Fifth Petal sounds like a great paranormal mystery novel.  Unfortunately, I was very disappointed with the final product.  There is some nice writing and excellent research, but the novels pace is sluggish (actually, I think slugs move faster).  I was never drawn into the story (it did not engage me in any way).  The author did not stick with the main storyline.  There are a couple of side stories that were unnecessary.  The main one being Callie and her music therapy.  I ended up skipping through these sections.  Brunonia Barry is also a descriptive writer which leads to many unnecessary details.  I give The Fifth Petal 2 out of 5 stars (I did not like it).  I believe the book needs major editing.  The Fifth Petal could be a good book with a little work.  I wish the author had run with the supernatural elements (embraced it).  It would have made for a more entertaining story.  Many readers will be able to figure out the identity of the culprit.  Only a couple of clues are needed to work out this mystery (if you can manage to get that far into the book).  I was tempted many times to toss The Fifth Petal aside, but I did persevere to the end (which I discovered to be a letdown).  Of course, The Fifth Petal has the requisite romance which just slows down the narrative even more (Thanksgiving seemed to go on for days).  I found some information to be replicated especially about the 1989 murder (and I forget how many times we are told that John Rafferty is the chief of police).  While this is the second book in The Lace Reader series, it can be read alone.  The author updates the readers on what occurred in The Lace Reader The Fifth Petal releases on Tuesday, January 24.

I am going to go eat my dinner and then enjoy my shows. Supergirl returns from its winter break tonight.  Shadowhunters, Beyond, Lucifer, and Timeless are on tonight as well.  I am currently reading Because You're Mine by Colleen Coble (I just received a copy of it).  May you have an enjoyable night.  Take care and Happy Reading!

Kris
The Avid Reader

Sunday, January 22, 2017

A Fatal Romance: A Twin Sisters Mystery


Happy Sunday!  It is very windy in my area today.  The one benefit is the wind gets all the dead branches out of the trees for me (I just have to pick them all up off the ground).  As I get older, I can see the appeal of living in a condo (no yard work or home repairs).

A Fatal Romance by June Shaw is the first book in A Twin Sisters Mystery series.  Sunny Taylor and Eve Vaughn are identical twins with very different personalities.  The two of them joined together to open Twin Sister Remodeling and Repairs in Sugar Ledge, Louisiana.  Eve and Sunny are attending the funeral of Zane Snelling, a client.  They did a patio and pond for the Snellings.  Zane had tripped on his patio and ended up drowning in his pond.  The widow enters the church with the urn, trips, the lid pops off and ashes fly out.  Some ashes end up on Sunny and in her jacket pocket (which causes to her laugh in nervousness).  Sunny offers to fetch a sweeper and Daria Snelling gets upset.  Sunny starts belting out a Christmas carol (she does this when uncomfortable, nervous, or thinking about relations with men). Daria orders the twins to leave the church.  Sunny later discovers that some ashes are in her jacket pocket.  She calls and leaves a message for Daria stating she has something that belonged to Zane and leaves her phone number.  Later that day Eve returns to her home to find it ransacked.  Someone destroyed her paintings (I am using the word loosely) and left a message on the wall.  What were the intruders looking for?  When Daria does not return Sunny’s call, the twins go over to her home.  They find Daria dead in her kitchen.  Detective Wilet is assigned the case and his investigation leads him to Sunny (of course).  When clients start canceling their jobs, Sunny sets out to find the real killer.  But this murderer will go to great lengths to avoid capture including killing anyone in his way!


A Fatal Romance is an interesting concept for a new cozy mystery series.  I do not believe there is another series with a set of twins.  I found the pace of the novel to be on the slow side, and I was not fond of the characters.  I found Sunny to be neurotic.  She also has self-esteem issues (appearance and intelligence), and is jealous of her sister.  She is also overprotective of Eve and smothers her (I understand why, but it was still unpleasant).  Sunny worried about Eve over the course of the investigation.  She would drive down her street, call her, and enter her home to check on her (many, many times).  If I was Eve, I would change the locks of my home (or move away and leave no forwarding address).  I believe Sunny’s singing of Christmas songs is supposed to be humorous, but I found it annoying (my mother thought it was funny, but she did not have to read the whole book).  Eve is egocentric and intent on finding the love of her life (she has three ex-husbands from whom she still receives expensive gifts).  I think the author was going for quirky, but she missed the mark with these characters.  The characters lacked depth and realism.  I give A Fatal Romance 2 out of 5 stars (not a fan).  Sunny going on about Zane’s ashes was not amusing.  She kept going on about the “flakes” in her jacket pocket and I thought she was going to lose it when she found some in the church.  The mystery was uncomplicated (once it got started).  I could identify the culprit long before the reveal (very small suspect pool).   A Fatal Romance is just not my type of cozy mystery (I am told it might be because I lack a sense of humor--Nah!).  A Fatal Romance will be out on Tuesday, February 24.

If you enjoy my blog, please consider joining (at right).  I hope you have a great Sunday evening.  I will be enjoying The Librarians season finale and Victoria (on PBS) while reading The Newcomer by Suzanne Woods Fisher.  Take care and Happy Reading!

Kris
The Avid Reader

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Raging Storm: The Remnant series


I hope everyone is having a delightful Saturday.  It is very windy in my area today.  The wind is bringing in rain and a "cold" front (which means the weather will be in the 60s during the day).  I just love to snuggle up in a chair with a good book while it is raining. How about you?

Raging Storm by Vannetta Chapman is the second book in The Remnant series.  Shelby Sparks and her son, Carter have relocated with Max Berkman to High Fields.  High Fields is the farm belonging to Gloria and Roy Berkman, Max’s parents.  With the destruction of the Sparks home and the problems Abney is encountering, it made sense to relocate.  But Shelby does not plan on staying at the farm for long.  She needs to get to Austin to find more insulin for Carter.  Shelby’s first priority is taking care of her son and he needs the insulin to survive.  Max, of course, will not let Shelby go alone (he loves Shelby and wants to protect her).  The two of them set off for Austin, but encounter a problem when they reach Abney.  Nadine Perkins, the mayor, wishes them to find medicine for the town.  They are in desperate need of antibiotics and other medications.  Mayor Perkins insists that they take Dr. Farhan Bhatti with them.  He knows Austin and the medications needed.  Shelby resents the delay, and she distrusts Dr. Bhatti, but the mayor is leaving them with no choice.  Patrick Goodnight and Bianca Lopez will be joining them on the perilous journey to Austin.  Bianca and Patrick will follow in a second vehicle and provide backup in case they encounter trouble along the way.  This group was not prepared for what they encounter in Austin.  Will Shelby be able to find the insulin she so desperately needs for her son?  Will this group be able to get out of Austin and back home?

Raging Storm picks up where Deep Shadows left off.  Raging Storm is even better than the first book.  This book is well-written and engaging.  I was immediately drawn in and kept reading until I finished the story.  The novel has a good pace which makes it a pleasure to read.  I give Raging Storm 4.5 out of 5 stars (I really liked it).  The only sour note was Shelby.  I had trouble liking her in Deep Shadows, and I found her discourteous in the first half of this novel.   Shelby is impatient (dislikes every delay in their journey) and is only thinking about her objective for the journey (I understand her concern, and I have issues with patience myself).  However, Shelby does change over the course of the story and improves in the second half of the book.  I think that Vannetta Chapman did a remarkable job at depicting what life would be like if we experienced a disaster.  We would like to think that people would help each other out and come together as a community.  But it is not realistic.  Many people would be looking out for themselves and trying to find ways to profit from the disaster (you know I am being realistic).  I liked how Ms. Chapman tied Raging Storm back to Overshadowed.  Readers finally get to find out about The Remnant and how it connects to the story.  I am curious to see what will happen in the next book in The Remnant series.    Raging Storm is not a stand-alone novel.  You do need to read Overshadowed and Deep Shadows prior to Raging Storm. The third and final book in the series is Light of Dawn.

I am off to cook dinner (we are having breakfast for dinner) and then watch Ransom.  It is a show that airs Saturdays at 8 p.m. on CBS. I want to thank you for visiting and reading my latest review. May each of you have a lovely, Saturday night.  Take care and Happy Reading!

Kris
The Avid Reader

Friday, January 20, 2017

Deep Shadows: The Remnant Series


Greetings!  I hope you have had a good day.  The 45th President of the United States was sworn into office today.  That is all that I will say on this matter (it is so controversial).  Vannetta Chapman is an author known for her Amish novels.  I especially enjoyed her An Amish Village Mystery series and A Shipshewana Amish Mystery series.  You can follow Vannetta Chapman on Amazon and Facebook.  You can get more information about this author and her books at her website.

Deep Shadows by Vannetta Chapman is the first book in The Remnant series.  It is June 10 when Shelby Sparks is out hiking with Patrick Goodnight, Bianca Lopez, and Max Berkman in Colorado Bend State Park when they see aurora borealis.  Shelby knows that their seeing the northern lights is a result of a CME (Coronal mass ejection—solar flares) and immediately advises the group that they need to head home to Abney.  Shelby wants to check on her seventeen-year-old son, Carter.  The solar flare has taken out all modern conveniences.  Luckily Max’s truck is an older model without computer technology so the group can get back to town.  This event has far reaching effects.  Life will not be the same.  Shelby’s first concern is acquiring insulin for Carter.  Carter was diagnosed as a diabetic when he was four years old and needs daily doses of insulin.  Without this necessary medication, Carter will die.  Shelby is not the only person seeking medication and other necessary supplies.  Nadine Perkins, Abney’s mayor, rises to the occasion is helping to organize the town’s resources.  It is soon apparent that the town will not be getting help from the state or federal level.  Life deteriorates quickly and people must find a way to survive in this new world.


Deep Shadows is well-written, easy to read, and engrossing.  I was immediately drawn into Deep Shadows.  The novel has good characters.  I especially liked Max.  I had a hard time liking Shelby.  Shelby has a single-minded focus on obtaining insulin.  I can understand her concern, but I felt she should not let this rule her life.  Personally (if this was real life and not a book), I would have obtained as much insulin as possible within the first 24 to 48 hours, and then I would have started researching alternatives (before people started burning books for fuel).  Shelby is also an over protective parent (the kid is seventeen).  I was surprised Carter had not rebelled from Shelby’s constant smothering presence.  I give Deep Shadows 4 out of 5 stars (I liked it).  The book is full of action and it is very realistic.  We see how important it is to have friends, family and faith.  I hope we never have to find out how people will respond when faced with a similar disaster.  I do recommend that you read Overshadowed (a prequel) prior to reading Deep ShadowsOvershadowed (free on Amazon) sets the stage for Deep Shadows and its sequel Raging Storm.  You will find Deep Shadows very different from Vannetta Chapman’s Amish novels.  It is a new direction for this author and she handles this topic splendidly.  Deep Shadows (which is $.99 on Amazon) will make you think (and question).  I am eager to read the Raging Storm, the next book in The Remnant series.

I hope you find my review helpful.  I will return tomorrow to share my thoughts on another novel I have recently read.  I am currently reading Murder Go Round by Carol J. Perry.  I hope all of you have an entertaining (or relaxing) evening. Take care and Happy Reading!

Kris
The Avid Reader