Saturday, September 30, 2017

12 Days at Bleakly Manor: Once Upon a Dickens Christmas


Welcome Back!   Merry and Bright by Debbie Macomber will be available on October 3.  I look forward to reading Debbie Macomber's latest Christmas novel each year.  Ella's Journey by Lynne Francis is a historical British novel that will be published on October 5.  Seashells, Spells and Caramels by Erin Johnson is a new cozy mystery with paranormal elements that will be published on October 31 (it is not listed on Amazon yet).  

12 Days at Bleakly Manor by Michelle Griep is the first book in Once Upon a Dickens Christmas.  Clare Chapman lost everything nine months ago.  She is surprised when she receives an invitation to spend twelve days Bleakly Manor.  If Clare lasts the full duration, she will receive a sum of 500 pounds.  When Clare arrives at the manor, she finds she was not the only person to receive the unusual invitation and promised something in return.  Ben Lane was arrested on his way to marry Clare for a crime he did not commit.  He was promised his freedom if he stays through the twelfth day of Christmas.  Their anonymous host has decided that only one of the guests will win their promised prize.  Which guest will last the full twelve days and what is the person willing to do to win? 

12 Days at Bleakly Manor is a well-crafted and entertaining novel.  It is short, but it is packed full of action and intrigue.  The mystery was delightful (see if you can figure out the culprit in this one) and the characters interesting.    I like the Christian beliefs expressed in the story (compassion, prayer, faith, forgiveness, second chances, God is in control, trust, and hope).  The Christian theme is light but the point is gotten across.  My rating for 12 Days at Bleakly Manor is 4 out of 5 stars (I liked it).  The author combined Bleak House by Charles Dickens with And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie in 12 Days at Bleakly Manor.  I appreciated the colorful, unique characters (especially the lady with the mice) that Ms. Griep created.  I am looking forward to the next installment in Once Upon a Dickens Christmas in A Tale of Two Hearts.  

If you enjoy reading Christian Christmas stories, check out Colors of Christmas by Olivia Newport.  Thank you for visiting.  I will be reviewing Purring Around the Christmas Tree by Liz Mugavero next time.  May you have a satisfying and relaxing Saturday. Take care and Happy Reading!

Kris
The Avid Reader

Friday, September 29, 2017

Whispers of Warning: A Change of Fortune Mystery


Happy Friday!  I hope everyone has a good week.  Ellery Adams has a new book coming out on October 31 titled Secret, Book and Scone Society.  It is the first book in a new cozy mystery series. Ellery Adams is the author of The Charmed Pie Shoppe Mystery series, A Book Retreat Mystery series, A Hope Street Church Mysteries, Antiques and Collectibles Mysteries, and A Books by the Bay Mystery series.  

Whispers of Warning by Jessica Estevao is the second story in A Change of Fortune Mystery series.  Ruby Proulx and her Aunt Honoria are thrilled when suffragist and spiritualist, Sophronia Foster Eldridge checks into the Belden for a month long stay (quite a coupe for the hotel).  At a suffrage rally, Sophronia states she is writing a book about corruption and secret dealings by powerful men. She will sell her manuscript to the highest bidder and use the money to further suffrage movement.  Despite a threatening letter and a sabotaged stage, Sophronia will not be deterred.  Is Sophronia that dedicated to the cause or does she have a hidden agenda?  Sophronia is soon found dead a pool at Pinkney Ferris’ bathhouse.  Ruby starts looking into Sophronia’s life and sets out to expose her killer.

Whispers of Warning is the second story in A Change of Fortune Mystery series and it can be read alone.  Ruby’s past and her abilities along with what occurred in the first book is discussed (in great detail).  I like the paranormal and historical aspects of the story (suffrage, spiritualist, Hay Feverist Society). The writing style, though, hindered my reading enjoyment.  It lacks an ease.  The pace was glacial thanks to the overabundance of details (the author needed to find a balance) and repetition of information.  The dialogue seems stilted and awkward. I am rating Whispers of Warning 3 out of 5 stars (it was okay).  The murder did not occur until almost halfway into the story.  By the time Sophronia was killed (there was no doubt she would be the one murdered), I already identified the evil doer.  Suffrage instead of mystery dominates Whispers of WarningWhispersof Warning has an interesting premise, but I did not enjoy the final outcome.

Thank you for stopping by today and reading my review.  I will be discussing 12 Days at Bleakly Manor by Michelle Griep next visit.  May you have a fantastic Friday.  Take care and Happy Reading!

Kris
The Avid Reader

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Turkey Trot Murder: A Lucy Stone Mystery


Hello!  Leslie Meier is the author of A Lucy Stone Mystery series which consists of twenty-four books.  I have read each delightful installment in this series.  The series began with Mistletoe Murder in 2008.  Readers can revisit two A Lucy Stone Mystery holiday classics in Holiday Murder.  It contains Mistletoe Murder and Christmas Cookie Murder (it will provide you with many laugh out loud moments).

Turkey Trot Murder by Leslie Meier is the twenty-fourth A Lucy Stone Mystery.  Lucy Stone is out jogging (really) preparing for Tinker’s Cove annual Turkey Trot 5K race.  She is going by Blueberry Pond when she notices something pink near the reeds.  Upon closer (and careful) inspection, Lucy finds the body of a girl and immediately contact the police.   The victim is Alison Franklin, daughter of new board of health member, Ed Franklin.  Alison’s death is blamed on drugs which has been a problem recently in the local area.  Lucy, however, is unsure that drugs were Alison’s undoing.  Chef Rey Rodriguez has purchased the Olde Irish Pub and plans to turn it into Cali Kitchen.  Locals are in an uproar over this new addition thanks to Ed Franklin (he is lumping the Rodriguez family in with Mexican drug dealers).  Things are heating up in Tinker’s Cove and Lucy will need to work quickly if the town is to have a happy and peaceful Thanksgiving!

Turkey Trot Murder is well-written and engaging.  It has a nice easy writing style and flow that makes for a pleasurable read.  It is always delightful to revisit Lucy Stone and her family.  Lucy has certainly changed since readers were introduced to her (and her family) in Mistletoe Murder.  There is plenty of action in Turkey Trot Murder (murder and mayhem—just the way I like it).  I like how Ms. Meier tackled the issues of opiate dependency and immigration.  Ed Franklin will remind readers of a real life figure that holds a high political office in our country.   I give Turkey Trot Murder 5 out of 5 stars (I loved it).  Ms. Meier creates such engaging, personable characters (Lucy, Bill, Rachel, Pam, Ted) and a charming town (that is facing some troubles).  I like the humor that is injected into the story creating many laugh out loud moments (which I really needed since I read this while we were without power after Hurricane Irma).  The mystery was absorbing, and I liked following the clues to solve the case. I really appreciate the lovely ending and how the author wrapped up all the storylines.  I look forward to reading the next A Lucy Stone Mystery when it is published.

I appreciate you visiting today and reading my latest book review.  I will be sharing my thoughts about Whispers of Warning by Jessica Estevao next time. May each of you have a delightful day! Take care and Happy Reading!

Kris
The Avid Reader

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

These Healing Hills by Ann H. Gabhart


Welcome!  Colors of Christmas by Olivia Newport will be out on October 1 along with A Place to Call Home by Tania Crosse.   Christmas at Carnton by Tamera Alexander will be released on October 3.  

These Healing Hills by Ann H. Gabhart takes readers back to 1945 in Hyden, Kentucky.  Francine Howard needs to get away from Cincinatti, Ohio before her former fiancé, Seth Miller returns home from the war with his English bride.  Fran has a nursing degree, can ride a horse, and looking for an adventure so she signed up for the Frontier Nursing Service Midwifery School in the Appalachian Mountains.  It will be a life style change for Fran, but she feels she will be something worthwhile.  Ben Locke is returning home from the war.  He cannot wait to return home to the mountains, but he has not thought of what he will do with his future.  Ben is on his way home when he encounters a very lost Fran.  They are immediately comfortable around each other, but they come from very different backgrounds.  But Fran feels at home in the mountains and has fallen in love with the people.  Is there a chance for a future between Ben and Fran?

These Healing Hills is well crafted novel that has a unique plot.  It was interesting reading about the Frontier Nursing Service Midwifery School in Hyden, Kentucky (it still exists) and the services their nurse midwives offer.  I liked the characters and the beautiful setting.  Woody Locke was my favorite character.  He was refreshing and entertaining.  Ann H. Gabhart is a descriptive writer which brings scenes to life (especially the mountains and the people who live there), but it also makes for a slower pace novel.  I sometimes felt the author was a too verbose.  The Christian element is prominent throughout the story and I liked the Christian attitude of the mountain people.  I appreciated the spiritual wisdom that Fran’s grandmother (Grandma Howard) imparted on Fran.  I am giving These Healing Hills 4 out of 5 stars.  My favorite phrase was “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart”.  The romance was sweet, but it was predictable.  Some of the themes in the story are prayer, friendship, trust, listening to God, believing in God, and a person finding their path or place in life.  I did feel that the ending was abrupt and felt incomplete. It would have been nice if the author had included an epilogue.  Readers who enjoy rich, historical novels will appreciate These Healing Hills.

Thank you for stopping by, and I hope that you have a enchanting day.  I will return tomorrow to review Turkey Trot Murder by Leslie Meier.  Take care and Happy Reading!

Kris
The Avid Reader

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Wagging Through the Snow: A Melanie Travis Mystery



Wagging Through the Snow by Laurien Berenson is A Melanie Travis novella (technically it is the twenty-first book in the series).  Melanie Travis is enjoying a quiet Saturday when her brother, Frank visits.  It turns out that he made an impulsive purchase of Haney’s Holiday Home (a Christmas tree lot) in Wilton, Connecticut without the knowledge of his business partner, Bob (Melanie’s ex-husband).  The family troops out to examine the property and finds the buildings are dilapidated.  Everyone will need to work quickly to get it up and running for the Christmas season.  Davey and Kevin come running inside.  They heard a strange whimpering noise in among the trees.  The noise is coming from a cute little Maltese hidden under a dead body.  The victim is a local homeless man named Pete who had trouble with alcohol.  It looks like Pete was killed by a falling tree limb but appearances can be deceiving.  Melanie with Aunt Peg’s assistance (of course) sets out to discover more about Pete and who could have wished him harm.  Can Melanie wrap up this case before Santa comes sliding down the chimney or will she find herself stuffed in a body bag?

Wagging Through the Snow is well-written, engaging and has a good pace (which makes for an easy to read story).  I like the characters and most especially the lively dogs.  There is just the right amount and type of humor in this delightful tale.  There were some definite laugh out loud moments.  My rating for Wagging Through the Snow is 5 out of 5 stars (I loved it).  It is short, but packed full of action.  The mystery was compelling and the elements are revealed as the story progresses.  One clue gave away the identity of the killer to me.  I think many readers will be surprised when the culprit is revealed.  I was glad that the story was not rushed (it happens frequently in short stories).  The ending was heartwarming.  Wagging Through the Snow is my favorite A Melanie Travis Mystery.  This delightful cozy has engaging characters, good mystery, adorable dogs, humor, family, friends, and the spirit of Christmas.    

I appreciate you visiting today and reading my review.  I will be sharing my thoughts on These Healing Hills by Ann H. Gabhart on Wednesday.  May you have a jovial day.  Take care and Happy Reading!

Kris
The Avid Reader

Monday, September 25, 2017

A Catered Costume Party: A Mystery with Recipes


Salutations!  Turkey Trot Murder by Leslie Meier (I enjoyed it) will be out on Tuesday, September 26 along with A Hive of Homicides by Meera Lester and This Side of Murder by Anna Lee Huber.  Hide and Seek by M.J. Arlidge will be released on October 10.  It is the latest A Helen Grace Thriller and it is wonderful (action packed).

A Catered Costume Party by Isis Crawford is the thirteenth A Mystery with Recipes novel.  Bernie and Libby Simmons have agreed to cater Darius Witherspoon’s Halloween party at the Berkshire Arms (the old Peabody School).  They do not wish to return to the building, but bills must be paid.  They are surprised Darius was still going through with the party since he wife, Penelope went missing three weeks prior (methinks something hinky is going on).  The celebration is in full swing, but the guest of honor has yet to make an appearance.  Suddenly a scream rings out and the guests can see the Darius’ body hanging outside the French doors.  The police rule it a Halloween prank gone wrong, but the Simmons sisters have other ideas. They waste no time in diving into their investigation to prove that Darius was murdered and identify the culprit. 

A Catered Costume Party is the thirteenth book in the series, but it can be read alone (easily).  While the book is easy to read (for the most part), it has a slow pace (the roof scene went on forever).  The sisters’ constant speculation and questions bog down the story along with the repetition of details (the crime scene, Darius’ life, their business, Michelle and their father, Sean).  I did like how the author started the novel with Darius offing his wife (this is not a spoiler).  It sets the stage for the rest of the story.  The killer’s identity is easy to discern.  I knew how the story would play out after I read the beginning (do you think I have read too many mysteries?).  While I identified the culprit early in the story, many readers will be surprised when the perpetrator is revealed.  My rating for A Catered Costume Party is 3 out of 5 stars (it is okay). I am shocked that the sisters are still in business with the small amount of time they spend at A Little Taste of Heaven (no wonder they are having trouble paying their bills).  Sean Simmons girlfriend, Michelle is irritating and dislikable.  I wish the author had not written her into the series.  The sisters’ childishness regarding Michelle has gone on far too long.  I can certainly understand their disdain but does it have to be brought up so often in the story.  Libby and Bernie’s squabbling got on my nerves (I read to be relaxed, not irritated.  Plus I can go down the street to my sisters if I wanted to experience bickering).  I ended up skimming through the last half of this book just to reach the end and verify the killer’s identity.  I do want to mention that there is mild foul language in A Catered Costume Party.  I read A Catered Murder (first book in series) when it first came out and after reading A Catered Costume Party, I notice a lack of growth/development Libby and Bernie Simmons.  One thing I enjoy about cozies is how the characters develop of the course of the series.  We get to know and love the characters.  In this case, the Simmons’ sisters seem to be going backward with regard to their behavior.  I have come to the conclusion that I am not the right audience for this series.

I appreciate you visiting today and reading my review.  On Tuesday I will be sharing my thoughts on Wagging Through the Snow by Laurien Berenson.  I hope you will stop by and see what I have to say about the latest A Melanie Travis Mystery.  May each of you have a outstanding day.  Take care and Happy Reading!

Kris
The Avid Reader

Sunday, September 24, 2017

The Christmas Blessing: A Christian Christmas Novel by Melody Carlson


Happy Sunday!  A Simple Wish by Charlotte Hubbard will be published on Tuesday, September 26. It is the second book in Simple Gifts series.  It is a charming Amish novel with engaging characters. The Amish Christmas Candle by Kelly Long, Jennifer Beckstrand and Lisa Jones Baker will also be out on September 26.  So many books and I do not have enough time to read them all (those pets of mine keep me hopping).

The Christmas Blessing is the latest story by Christian author Melody Carlson.  It is November 1944 in San Diego, California.  Amelia Richards and her baby, Jimmy has decided to pack up and move to Rockford, Montana to be near Jimmy’s paternal grandparents.  James Bradley is the father of little James and he passed away a month after he was shipped out.  James and Amelia were going to marry on the first leave that he received, but his plane was shot down before that could occur.  Amelia is spending the last of her funds to get her to Montana in the hopes of a better life for Jimmy and herself (a family).  The only hitch in Amelia’s plans is Mr. & Mrs. Bradley are unaware of Amelia and Jimmy.  Amelia is not sure how they will be received.  Will they be welcomed or turned away?  Christmas is the season for miracles.  Will Amelia’s dreams come true this Christmas? 

The Christmas Blessing is a lovely story.  I found it to be well-written and to have a good pace (once you get into it—it starts off slowly).  It is a short shorty containing under 200 pages (can be finished in just a couple of hours).  It contains good messages (forgiveness, trust, power of prayer, faith) and has a heartwarming ending.   My rating for The Christmas Blessing is 4 out of 5 stars.  I did feel that the characters are not fully developed (fleshed out), the ending is slightly rushed, and the story is predictable (unoriginal).  I missed the humor that is present in Melody Carlson’s other Christmas stories (Christmas at Harrington’s and The Christmas Joy Ride).  The Christmas Blessing is a charming novella that will appeal to readers who enjoy happily-ever-after romance stories.

Thank you for visiting and may each of you are having a satisfying Sunday.  I will be sharing my thoughts about A Catered Costume Party by Isis Crawford on Monday and Wagging through the Snow by Laurien Berenson on Tuesday.  Take care and Happy Reading!

Kris
The Avid Reader

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Start Where You Are Note Cards by Meera Lee Patel


Start Where You Are Note Cards by Meera Lee Patel come in a little box with pretty watercolor flowers painted on the lid.  Inside the box are twelve unique note cards with matching envelopes.  The cards have various watercolor painted images on them with quotes.  The images include birds, night sky, flowers, elephant, tiger, and a sailboat.  The inside of the cards is blank so you can write your own message.  The cards are whimsical with inspiring messages.  These little note cards are perfect for sending a thoughtful word to someone you care about (let them know you are thinking about them by sending them an encouraging and uplifting message).  


Kris
The Avid Reader

Body on Baker Street: A Sherlock Holmes Bookshop Mystery


Happy Saturday!  Vicki Delany is the author of A Year-Round Christmas Mystery series, A Constable Molly Smith series, and A Sherlock Holmes Bookshop Mystery series.  As Eva Gates she has written A Lighthouse Library Mystery series (a new one will be out next June).  Readers can follow the author on Facebook and Amazon.

Body on Baker Street by Vicki Delany is the second cozy mystery in A Sherlock Holmes Bookshop Mystery series.  Gemma Doyle co-owns (and manages) Sherlock Holmes Bookshop and Emporium in West London, Massachusetts.  Gemma is surprised when author Renalta Van Markoff wishes to set up a last-minute book signing.  The day of the signing the store is packed with fans and things are going smoothly until Donald Morris starts in on Renalta about her portrayal of Sherlock Holmes in her novels.  The author counters Donald’s arguments successfully and proceeds with signing books.  After taking a drink of water, the author starts gasping and collapses—she is dead.  Donald ends up being the prime suspect in the author’s murder when it is discovered he had the means, motive and opportunity.  Gemma with Jayne’s assistance sets out to find the killer.  One thing not lacking in this case is suspects.  Which one of them disliked Renalta enough to do her in?

Body on Baker Street is the second book in the series, but it can be read alone.  Everything the reader needs to know is included in this story.  The mystery was intriguing and I think that many people will be surprised by the killer’s identity.  There are good clues that will aid readers in solving the crime (armchair sleuths should have no problem in figuring it out).  My rating for Body on Baker Street is 3 out of 5 stars.  My main problem with the series is Gemma Doyle.  Gemma is a difficult character to like (rude, obnoxious, know-it-all).  Gemma’s attitude is off-putting (I am surprised someone has not killed her off).  Her way is the right way and she is always right.  I especially did not like her mocking the police.  I appreciate that Gemma is a strong, female protagonist with keen observation skills (everyone knows I prefer strong female main characters).  It would have been nice (preferable) if Gemma was more personable. I wish the author had made Jayne the main character (and we did not get much of Jayne in Body on Baker Street).  Most of the investigation involved Gemma talking to people.  I know this is vital to a good investigation, but it can get tedious (and frustrating).  Gemma’s rude attitude when talking to people was a turnoff (I could not figure out why anyone answered her questions).  I can understand why Moriarty (the shop cat) lashes out at Gemma!  The first book in A Sherlock Holmes Bookshop Mystery series is Elementary, She Read.  The Cat of the Baskervilles will be the third installment in this series and it will be out on February 13, 2018.

I appreciate you visiting today.  I will be evaluating The Christmas Blessing by Melody Carlson on my next blog posting.  May each of you have a nice, relaxing Saturday.  Take care and Happy Reading!

Kris
The Avid Reader

Friday, September 22, 2017

The West Woods: The Fountain series



Welcome, fellow readers!  On September 26 some delightful new books will be released.  A few of the titles are Home All Along by Beth Wiseman (good story), A Hive of Homicides by Meera Lester, Purring Around the Christmas Tree by Liz Mugavero (some poisons Santa), Holiday Murder by Leslie Meier, and Yuletide Homicide by Jennifer David Hesse.    

The West Woods by Suzy Vadori is the second novel in The Fountain series.  Courtney Wallis tried to convince her father to her not return to St. Augustus after the winter break.  Jim Wallis, Courtney’s father, told her that the school is special and he wants her to discover the answer on her own.  He tells her that the West Woods are the key.  That evening on a dare Courtney is running through the woods when her foot falls into a hole.  She discovers a wood box with a key inside.  Is this the key her father was referring to?  After listening to Ms. Krick’s lecture on the school’s history, the teacher talks to Courtney privately.  Ms. Krick wants Courtney’s help in discovering the location of the fountain.  She wants to make a wish.  Courtney is not sure what to make of Ms. Krick and her rantings.  Later, Courtney then receives a map that her father left with her sister, Hanna.  The map leads Courtney back into the West Woods where she finds a fountain.  She makes a wish not expecting it to actually come true.  Once a wish is made, though, it must be fulfilled—no matter what the cost. 

The West Woods is a prequel to The Fountain.  I found the book to have a good pace, but I was not fully engaged.  The West Woods did not hold the same appeal as The Fountain. The West Woods is a young-adult novel that will appeal to tweens and teens (especially with Halloween fast approaching).  There was a little too much focus on boys for my taste (it seemed to dominate the first half of the story).  I wish there had been less attention on romance and more on the magic.  Just when the paranormal action starts to heat up, the book quickly ends (I felt the séance scene was a bust).  I felt The West Woods did not live up to its potential (especially after reading The Fountain).  I had trouble liking Courtney and especially disliked Violet, the school gossip.  It was interesting to find out more about the school and Ms. Krick.  My rating for The West Woods is 3 out of 5 stars.  I did like the moral of the story.  I do recommend checking out The Fountain (I gave it 4.25 stars).  

I really appreciate you reading my book reviews.  I will be discussing Body on Baker Street by Vicki Delany next time.  May each of you have a delightful day. Take care and Happy Reading!

Kris
The Avid Reader

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Secrets of the Shipyard Girls: The Shipyard Girls


Hello!  The West Woods by Suzy Vadori is the second book in The Fountain series.  It is a young adult paranormal story and it publishes on September 22. Wagging through the Snow by Laurien Berenson is the latest A Melanie Travis Mystery book.  It is a delightful Christmas tale and will be released on September 26. 

Secrets of the Shipyard Girls by Nancy Revell is the third novel in The Shipyard Girls series.  We return to 1941 in Sunderland (England) where the ladies are continuing their welding work at J.L. Thompson & Sons Shipyard despite Helen Crawford’s attempts to break up their group.  Gloria just loves her little girl, Hope but she is worried about Jack.  It has been three weeks since his ship went down off the coast of Ireland.  Dorothy loves her role as godmother to Hope and presses Gloria to have her christened.  Rosie is busy with working in the shipyard during the day and at the brothel, where she is a co-owner, at night.  She has stopped seeing DS Peter Miller, a local constable, but Rosie misses him.  But she knows it is for the best.  Kate O’Donnell is opening up her own dress shop.  She has come a long way since her days on the streets thanks to Lily and Rosie.  Bel and Joe Elliot are in love and ready to move forward with their lives.  Pearl, Bel’s mum, is up to her usual antics, but her past is about to come back to haunt her.  Pick up a copy of Secrets of the Shipyard Girls to find out how things turn out for ladies along with their family and friends.

Secrets of the Shipyard Girls is well-written and a delight to read.  It has a good pace and I was fully engaged in the story.  It contains wonderful, endearing characters.  We get to see what life was like in England during World War II for women in Sunderland.  I love the diverse set of characters in this series.  I do recommend reading the books in the series in order (otherwise, you will be lost).  Secrets of the Shipyard Girls shows the enduring power of friendship and that families come in all forms.  My rating for Secrets of the Shipyard Girls is 5 out of 5 stars (I loved it).  I read this book while Hurricane Irma was blowing through my area, and it definitely took my mind off the storm (imagine it is dark, raining, and heavy winds).  I cannot wait to read Shipyard Girls in Love when it is released in March.  The first two books in the series are The Shipyard Girls and Shipyard Girls at War.

Minotaur is running a sweepstakes regarding Beach, Breeze and Bloodshed by John Keyse-Walker. To enter you need to take a photo of the book and post on social media (Facebook, Twitter, etc.) with the hashtag #BeachBreezeBloodshed. Winners will get a $75 gift certificate to the bookseller of their choice (see picture below with details).   Good luck to all who enter.  I will be featuring The West Woods by Suzy Vadori on September 22.  Have a great day, take care and Happy Reading!

Kris
The Avid Reader   

.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Doom with a View: A Merry Ghost Inn Mystery


Welcome! I hope you are having a good week.  Kate Kingsbury is the author of A Pennyfoot Hotel Mystery series and A Merry Ghost Inn Mystery series. Readers can follow Ms. Kingsbury on Facebook, Amazon and Goodreads.  The first book in A Merry Ghost Inn Mystery series is Dead and Breakfast.   

Doom with a View by Kate Kingsbury is the second tale in A Merry Ghost Inn Mystery series.  Melanie West and her grandmother, Liza Harris own the Merry Ghost Inn in Sully’s Landing, Oregon.  They are open and booked with six guests from Portland who all belong to the same book club.  The guests are currently being entertained by Cindi’s (their assistant) magician boyfriend, Nick Hazelton.  Walter Dexter, though, is not enjoying Nick’s act (continuous heckling and complaining).  The next morning, Melanie hears Max barking (like he is upset) outside and goes to investigate.  She finds Walter dead from where he fell from the balcony.  Officer Ben Carter is the first responder and discovers someone tampered with the balcony.  Which one of their guests disliked Walter enough to kill him?  Detective Tom Dutton (aka Grumpy) is assigned the case and issues a stern warning to Melanie and Liza not to investigate.  They have no intention of listening to him.  The pair, with the aid of their resident ghost-Orville, set out to nab a killer.

Doom with A View is a cute story with a subtle paranormal element.  I found the book easy to read and it has a nice, steady pace.  I had not the opportunity to read Dead and Breakfast (first book in series) prior to picking up Doom with a View.  I was a little confused in the beginning because the author starts introducing the main characters along with all the guests (ten people, one dog, and a ghost).  Once I got all the characters straight, I was fine.  I was surprised that Melanie and Liza had hired an assistant.  You would think they would wait until they started turning a profit.  I thought it was strange that the owners did not share news with the guests themselves.  Instead, they would send out Cindi to announce activities and such.  It seemed odd and out of place (especially with Cindi’s appearance).  I am rating Doom with a View 3.5 out of 5 stars.  The mystery was not complicated and I thought the killer stood out (eliminate the obvious).  The author does provide some pointed clues that will aid readers in solving the murder.  I wish there had been more sleuthing or active investigating (instead of them just asking questions).  I loved the ghost, Orville.  He would laugh and move items around the house.  Quite a bit of the book is devoted to cooking and eating (wanted less of this and more mystery).  One thing I am extremely tired of in cozy mysteries is grumpy, mean detectives.  Detective Dutton did nothing to enhance the story.  Instead we get numerous mentions of his grumpiness.  Doom with a View is an appealing cozy mystery.  It has good main characters, quirky inn, a ghost, and a dog.  A little fiddling and A Merry Ghost Inn Mystery series would be delightful.

I appreciate you visiting and reading my review.  On Thursday, September 21 I will be evaluating Secrets of the Shipyard Girls by Nancy Revell.    May each of you have a wonderful Wednesday. Take care and Happy Reading!

Kris
The Avid Reader

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Ax to Grind: A Kenni Lowry Mystery


Happy Book Release Day!  Tonya Kappes is the author of A Ghostly Southern Mystery series, A Killer Coffee Mystery series, A Kenni Lowry Mystery series and A Magical Cures Mystery series. Readers can connect with her on Facebook (she also holds contests) and follow Ms. Kappes on Goodreads and Amazon.  

Ax to Grind by Tonya Kappes is the third story in A Kenni Lowry Mystery series.  Kenni Lowry is the sheriff in Cottonwood, Kentucky.  It is time to start her re-election campaign and her mother is pulling out all the stops (imagine giant sign and a bull horn—just for starters) since Kenni’s former deputy, Lonnie Lemar is running against her.  Kenni is at an award ceremony honoring her dog, Duke when she is approached by Cecily Hoover, Beryle Stone’s assistant.  Beryle, a famous author, passed away a week ago and her estate is to be auctioned off.  Beryle had finished a tell-all book that will expose secrets and Cecily is afraid someone will try to steal it.  The one problem is Beryle hid the manuscript and Cecily has been unable to locate it.  Before the book can be found, Cecily turns up dead in the alley behind Ruby’s Antiques and Paige Lemar is unconscious inside.  Poppa, Kenni’s grandfather, returns to help her with the case.  The killer obviously does not wish the manuscript to see the light of day (much less be published).   Kenni along with Deputy Finn Vincent (and let’s not forget Poppa) dig into Beryle’s past to find Cecily’s killer. 

Ax to Grind may be the third installment in A Kenni Lowry Mystery series, but it can be read alone.  The author provides the necessary background on Kenni as well as summaries of what occurred in the first two books in the series.  I found the book to be a slow starter, but the pace picked up the further I got into the story.  The zaniness factor was ramped up in Ax to Grind (much to my disappointment).  Kenni’s mother needs to be reined in (my mother thought her antics were hysterical, and she told me I lack a sense of humor).  If I was Kenni, I would change my house locks (using an out-of-town locksmith) and get an untraceable phone number (to thwart her mother).  The mystery was cleverly set up, but I wish there had been a good twist to surprise me.  I identified the killer before the third chapter in the book.  There are a limited number of suspects and there are big clues that point to the killer.  Most readers will be able to solve the crime before the reveal.  I love the paranormal element (Poppa) and wish there was more of it in the story.  I feel that Poppa would be a great resource to Kenni if used properly.  A Kenni Lowry Mystery series portrays what life is like in small Southern towns.  For those readers who enjoy light, comical cozy mysteries, pick up a copy of Ax to Grind.  Fixin' to Die and Southern Fried (currently $.99 on Amazon) are the first two books in the series.

Thank you for reading my latest review.  I will be sharing my thoughts on Doom with a View by Kate Kingsbury on Wednesday, September 20.  I hope that you have a pleasant and happy day.  Take care and Happy Reading!

Kris
The Avid Reader

Monday, September 18, 2017

The Beloved Christmas Quilt from Three Generations of Brunstetter's


I hope everyone had a delightful weekend!  On Tuesday, September 19 some new books are being released.  The titles include Whispers of Warning by Jessica Estevao, To Be Where You Are by Jan Karon, Invictus by Ryan Graudin, and Ax to Grind by Tonya Kappes.

The Beloved Christmas Quilt:  Three stories of Family, Romance and Amish Faith by Wanda E. Brunstetter, Jean B. Brunstetter and Richelle Lynn Brunstetter.  We get to see how one quilt with a Psalm 31:3 embroidered on the back helps and guides three generations.  Luella’s Promise by Wanda E. Brunstetter is set in Bird-in-Hand, Pennsylvania.  Luella Ebersol was hired by Atlee Zook to care for his dying wife, Dena Zook and young son, Daryl.  Before Dena passes away, she gifts Luella with a special quilt that Dena and Atlee received as a Christmas gift from Dena’s mum the first year they were married.  It is a quilt that is to pass from mother to daughter.  After Dena’s passing, Luella continues to work for Atlee and care for little Daryl.  Slowly the pair begin to care for each other, but Luella’s parents are not pleased with the pairing (age difference).  Without her parents blessing, Atlee and Luella cannot have a future together.  Is there a chance for them to have a happily ever after?

Karen’s Gift by Jean Brunstetter takes us to Lykens, Pennsylvania.  Karen and Seth Allgyer moved to Lykens two years prior to get away from the commercialized Paradise.  Karen misses her family especially now with newborn, Nancy Anne in the house along with her other daughters, Roseanna and Mary.  Karen is worried about Nancy Anne who was born early and is afraid the little girl might suffer from the effects of the German measles Karen had while pregnant.  Seth is having trouble at work with a co-worker and he cannot handle any more stressful news.  How will the family cope during this worrying time?

Roseanna’s Groom is by Wanda Brunstetter’s granddaughter, Richelle Lynn Brunstetter (her first published story).  Roseanna Allgyer is marrying John Beiler.  She is excited and nervous to start her new life with the man she loves.  They are standing before the Bishop while he discusses their responsibilities when John suddenly flees.  Roseanna is hurt and confused.  John goes away, and old beau, Mark returns to town wishing to court Roseanna again.  Roseanna is afraid to trust another man with her heart.  What choice will Roseanna make?

The Beloved Christmas Quilt contains three sweet stories.  I liked how we get to experience three generations of the family.  It was nice that the characters from Luella’s Promise are in all three tales.  My favorite one is Luella’s Promise.  It is well-written, good pace, and engaging characters.  I like the messages or themes in the novellas.  They include friendship, power of prayer, kindness, compassion, overcoming adversity, and following God’s path for your life.  My rating for The Beloved Christmas Quilt is 4 out of 5 stars.  Roseanna’s Groom is a nice story and for Richelle Brunstetter’s first published work, she did a good job.  Karen’s Gift, though, was not as enjoyable.  I was not fully engaged by this short story.  It lacked the nice, easy writing style that readers prefer (and we get from Wanda Brunstetter).  The Beloved Christmas Quilt has three inspiring, romantic stories that will leave you with a warm feeling in your heart.

I appreciate you stopping by today.  I am currently reading Wagging through the Snow by Laurien Berenson (cute story).  May each of you have a lovely day.  I will be sharing my thoughts on Ax to Grind by Tonya Kappes on Tuesday, September 19.  Take care and Happy Reading!

Kris
The Avid Reader

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Pudding Up with Murder: An Undercover Dish Mystery


Salutations!  Turkey Trot Murder by Leslie Meier is the latest A Lucy Stone Mystery novel (Book 24). Lucy Stone and her husband, Bill are going to be alone this holiday.  But you can count on Lucy to stir up excitement when she finds a body while training for the Thanksgiving 5K.  Turkey Trot Murder will be released on September 26.

Pudding Up with Murder by Julia Buckley is the third cozy mystery in An Undercover Dish Mystery series.  Lilah Drake works as a secret chef in her spare time (when not working at Pine Haven Caterer’s).    Lilah along with her dog, Mick are attending the birthday party of Marcus Cantwell.  She prepared a rice pudding for her client, Ellie Parker to take to the event.  After speaking with Marcus, Lilah is given a tour and the dish on the family by Cash Cantwell.  When Lilah goes back to the kitchen, people are enjoying the rice pudding.  Marcus enters the kitchen with an empty bowl of rice pudding and collapses.  Thankfully, Detective Maria Grimaldi was on hand to secure the scene and quickly gather evidence.  Who disliked Marcus enough to murder him?  When Cash ends up being a prime suspect, Lilah starts looking at the extended family to find the real killer.

I found Pudding Up with Murder to be easy to read and it had a decent pace.  The mystery was straightforward and one detail gives away the identity of the murderer.  I could pinpoint the killer early in the story.  I felt the romance dominated the book (I like a little romance, but I this was over-the-top).  I quickly tired of Lilah mooning over Jay and Jay’s jealousy over Angelo Cardelini (it was ridiculous).  I wanted more investigation and less day-to-day activities.  There is cooking, walking the dog, dates, friends, and work.  These elements make up a significant portion of the book.  My rating for Pudding Up with Murder is 3 out of 5 stars.  I do not quite buy into concept of a secret chef.  Why would anyone be ashamed about not cooking or not wanting to cook? What am I missing?  I was not enthralled with Lilah, but I did enjoy Mick, the dog (a cutie).  Pudding Up with Murder can be a standalone.   For cozy mystery readers who prefer the emphasis on cozy, then you will appreciate Pudding Up with Murder.  The first two books in An Undercover Dish Mystery series are The Big Chili and Cheddar Off Dead.

I really appreciate you visiting and reading my latest book review.  On my next visit (Monday, September 18), I will share my thoughts on The Beloved Christmas Quilt by Wanda Brunstetter. May you have a very relaxing and enjoyable Saturday.  Take care and Happy Reading!

Kris
The Avid Reader  

Friday, September 15, 2017

The Proving: A new Amish novel by Beverly Lewis


Happy Friday!  Secrets of the Shipyard Girls by Nancy Revell will be published on September 21.  It is third installment in The Shipyard Girls series.  I read this while waiting for our electricity to return (I made sure all four of my Kindles had a full charge before the storm hit).  It is just wonderful.  I will publish my full review on September 21.  If you have not had the opportunity, you should out the first two books in this engaging historical series.

The Proving by Beverly Lewis takes Amanda Dienner back home to Gordonville, Pennsylvania.  Amanda “Mandy” Dienner left home five years ago after discovering her twin sisters, Arie Mae, betrayal.  Mandy has been living and working in Scott City, Kansas.  One day she receives a certified letter from her older brother, Jerome telling her that her mother, Saloma passed away unexpectedly.  Mandy learns that she has been left Butterfly Meadows, the families Amish bed-and-breakfast, to her.  Mandy would have expected the B and B to be left to Arie Mae.  The inheritance comes with the condition that Mandy run Butterfly Meadows at a profit for twelve consecutive months.  Mandy returns home to take over the inn, but she is not prepared for the community’s and guests feelings about her non-Amish status.  Will Mandy be able to handle the close proximity to her sister and her husband?  Can Mandy find it in her heart to forgive and move on with her life? 

The Proving is well-written, engaging, and has a nice easy flow.  I liked the main characters and their stories.  It was nice to follow their journey and see how they changed/developed.  I only summarized Mandy’s portion of the story and her challenges (lack of cooking skills, not being Amish—when guests expect an Amish hostess, resentment).  There is Catrina Sutton who signs up for a mystery vacation (hoping for beach destination) and ends up at Butterfly Meadows.  Some of themes in The Proving are forgiveness, power of prayer, love, and letting God take the driver’s seat on your life’s journey (He is in control, not you).  It is amazing what happens when you pray and believe.  My rating for The Proving is 4 out of 5 stars (I liked it).  The story is somewhat predictable (romantic outcomes especially), but I enjoyed reading this pleasant Amish book. The Proving is a lovely, heartwarming novel that provides a delightful respite from reality (which we all desperately need at times).

I appreciate you visiting today!  I am currently reading Whispers of Warning by Jessica Estevao (it is slow going).  Next time I will be sharing my thoughts on Pudding Up with Murder by Julia Buckley. May you have a fantastic Friday. Take care and Happy Reading!

Kris
The Avid Reader