Tuesday, March 21, 2023

Fields of Bounty by Lauraine Snelling

 Fields of Bounty

Book Summary

They must set aside their own plans and rely on their faith to bring their true destiny to light.

Lilac Nielsen's dream has come true: handsome young Reverend Ethan Pritchard has finally noticed her. Yet she must balance this new courtship with the pursuit of another dream--the publication of her artwork in a New York paper. She has secretly been submitting a series of drawings under a pen name, and if anyone traces the drawings back to her and finds out where Lilac and her sisters settled, the entire Nielsen family could be in danger.

As their family farm expands and Lilac's relationship with the reverend grows, it's a time of new beginnings. But when a family crisis back in Ohio shakes the Nielsen sisters, can they continue to build the new life they've begun in Nebraska? And will Lilac be prepared for what God has in store for her future?  
My Thoughts

Fields of Bounty by Lauraine Snelling takes readers back to 1857 in Salton, Nebraska to visit the Nielson sisters.  I thought Fields of Bounty was well-written with developed characters.  I have enjoyed getting to know the Nielson family.  They are a close, loving family.  I like how they are there for each other.  We have gotten to watch the main characters struggle as they establish themselves in the new town, work hard to keep expanding the town and achieve their dreams, and mature as individuals. Fields of Bounty features Lilac Nielson who catches the attention of Ethan Pritchard, their pastor.  We also get to catch up with the rest of the Nielson clan as well as some of the townspeople.  Lilac grows up in this book.  It is nice to see her mature.  I like how Lilac story ends.  I love the path the author chose for Lilac.  Lilac learns that God has a plan for her life and that dashing ahead is counterintuitive (bring her nothing but disappointment and pain).  I liked the life lessons in the story and how the author tied them to God plus provided relevant Bible passages.  Some of the ideas presented caused me to dig out my Bible.  I like how they provided deeper contemplation. 

I can tell that the author did her research for this series.  We get a glimpse at what life was like on a Nebraska farm in the 1850s.  Fields of Bounty is a feel-good story.  People do experience difficulties and heartache, but they work to overcome life’s challenges and become better human beings.  I was left with a couple of lingering questions when I finished the story.  I hope there will be more books featuring the Nielson family and the town of Salton.   Fields of Bounty is the third book in Leah's Garden.  I believe it is best to read the series in order.  It allows you to follow the Nielson family from the beginning.  There are a number of characters and new ones are introduced.  It is a challenge to keep all of them straight along with their storylines.  A list of characters at the beginning of the book would have been helpful.  I like that the author created strong, smart female characters.  They are businesswoman who are working to expand their farms and the town.   Fields of Bounty is a heartwarming tale with a hectic harvest, a patient pastor, a helpful family, a busy boarding house, and witty women.  

Fields of Bounty is available from Amazon*.  The first two books in Leah's Garden are The Seeds of Change and A Time to Bloom.  You can find Lauraine Snelling's other novels here.  Thank you for joining me today.  Tomorrow I am featuring On the Golden Cliffs by Tricia Goyer and Christen Krumm.  It is the second A Big Sky Amish Novel.  I hope that you have a joyful day.  Take care and Happy Reading!


The Avid Reader 

*This post contains affiliate links.  As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.

Wednesday, March 15, 2023

Vera Wong's Unsolicited Advice for Murderers by Jesse Q. Sutano

Vera Wong's Unsolicited Advice for Murderers
Book Summary

A lonely shopkeeper takes it upon herself to solve a murder in the most peculiar way in this captivating mystery by Jesse Q. Sutanto, bestselling author of Dial A for Aunties.

Vera Wong is a lonely little old lady—ah, lady of a certain age—who lives above her forgotten tea shop in the middle of San Francisco’s Chinatown. Despite living alone, Vera is not needy, oh no. She likes nothing more than sipping on a good cup of Wulong and doing some healthy detective work on the Internet about what her Gen-Z son is up to.

Then one morning, Vera trudges downstairs to find a curious thing—a dead man in the middle of her tea shop. In his outstretched hand, a flash drive. Vera doesn’t know what comes over her, but after calling the cops like any good citizen would, she sort of . . . swipes the flash drive from the body and tucks it safely into the pocket of her apron. Why? Because Vera is sure she would do a better job than the police possibly could, because nobody sniffs out a wrongdoing quite like a suspicious Chinese mother with time on her hands. Vera knows the killer will be back for the flash drive; all she has to do is watch the increasing number of customers at her shop and figure out which one among them is the killer.

What Vera does not expect is to form friendships with her customers and start to care for each and every one of them. As a protective mother hen, will she end up having to give one of her newfound chicks to the police?
My Thoughts

Vera Wong’s Unsolicited Advice for Murderers by Jesse Q. Suntato is not what I expected.   I did not like the perspective (it was odd). The author’s writing style made for an awkward story.  It makes for a slow-moving story with repetitive details.  There are multiple points of view (five).   We get these detailed backstories on each person (I really did not need to know that much about each character).  With the multiple points-of-view, it leads to a significant amount of repetition.  I do not need the details of the case told to me five times.  Vera Wong is made out to be an elderly woman with a strong personality.  Vera is only in her sixties (the closer I get to that age the less it seems old).  She is still active as proven by her morning powerwalks.  Vera is a woman of strong opinions.  She is a widow with a grown son who largely ignores his mother.   The book moves at a snail’s pace.  The story needed action and excitement.   

We are privy to each character’s backstory, thoughts, and feelings.  Two-year-old Emma was a baffling character.   The author gives her characteristics of an older child (talks in complete sentences and can do detailed drawings instead of scribbles).  Vera is excited when she finds a dead man in her tea shop.  The police are not happy with Vera’s assistance.  I was surprised that some of her actions did not find her behind bars.  I believe the police wrote off Vera as a silly, interfering old woman.  The mystery was simple.  It felt as if more pages were devoted to Vera’s thoughts and ideas than the actual case.  The reveal is long and drawn out.  There is a “twist” which may or may not surprise readers (it depends on how many mysteries you have read).  I ended up skimming to get through the story.  I did like the ending.  The investigation brings new friends and changes to Vera’s life.  The story was too long (350 pages) especially for such a straightforward whodunit.  I found myself bored by Vera Wong’s Unsolicited Advice for Murders.   There is some mild foul language (just to let you know).  I liked the setting of San Francisco’s Chinatown.  The author brought the area to life with her vivid word imagery.  Vera Wong’s Unsolicited Advice for Murderers has an inquisitive tea shop owner, a slain stranger, curious suspects, stimulating strolls, a dispassionate detective, and a surprising solution.  

Vera Wong's Unsolicited Advice for Murderers is available from Amazon*.  While Vera Wong's Unsolicited Advice for Murderers was not my cup of tea, I suggest you download a sample so you can if it suits you.  Thank you for stopping by today.  I will return on Tuesday, March 21 with Fields of Bounty by Lauraine Snelling.  It is the third novel in the Leah's Garden series.  I hope that you have a relaxing weekend.  Take care and Happy Reading!


The Avid Reader 

*This post contains affiliate links.  As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.

Tuesday, March 14, 2023

Methods of Malice by Ellery Adams & Tina Radcliffe

 Methods of Malice
Book Summary

Welcome back to Hope Street Church, where friendships are formed, fresh starts are encouraged, and mysteries are solved . . .

The Hope Street Community Theater is staging 
It’s a Wonderful Life as a fundraiser, and Cooper and the Bible study group are all taking part. They’ve also managed to land the help of a famous Broadway director who’s trying to clean up his image after a scandal, and he travels to Richmond along with his star actress and staff. But the director’s entourage epitomize the worst of theater personalities, with petty grievances and jealousies stirring up more drama off the stage than on. And when the assistant director is found murdered in her hotel suite, the list of possible suspects is longer than a red carpet.
Unwilling to stand by with a murderer in their midst, Cooper and her friends get to work ferreting out clues and surveilling the staff, including a dangerously inept set technician as well as the director’s current and former love interests. Despite inexplicable and terrifying stage “accidents” threatening to derail their investigation and the play, the intrepid amateur sleuths know the show must go on. Their only prayer is to set a trap and successfully catch a killer before it’s curtains for Cooper.

Includes heavenly recipes from Magnolia Lee’s kitchen!
My Thoughts

Methods of Malice by Ellery Adams and Tina Radcliffe is a pleasing story.  I like Ellery Adams writing style.  She creates stories with friendly characters, charming settings, and interesting storylines.  I enjoyed returning to Richmond, Virginia to catch up with the Cooper Lee and the other members of the Sunrise Bible study group.  All the members of the bible study are participating in the Hope Street Community Theater’s production of It’s a Wonderful Life.  The production is a fundraiser for the senior center.  Unfortunately, the rehearsals are plagued with incidents.  Then, Regina McAllister, the assistant director and the director’s ex-wife, is murdered.  It is important that this production moves forward because the senior center is counting on them.  Cooper Lee and the members of the Sunshine Bible study group set out to unmask the killer.

I found Methods of Malice to be easy to read.  The characters are realistic and relatable.  Grammy Lee is a hoot.  I like that she speaks her mind (in other words she is outspoken and opiniated).  I liked that all the members of the Bible study were participating in the play.  Some of them would have preferred to work behind the scenes (okay, most of them), but they put aside their awkwardness and fears for a good cause. The mystery was fun to solve.  The victim was not well-liked (she had an attitude problem) so there are several suspects.  There are some plot twists along the way that keeps things entertaining.  Cooper Lee and the Bible study group asks questions and uncover clues.  The reveal nicely wraps up the whodunit.  Your mouth will be watering from the tasty treats whipped up by Cooper’s mother, Maggie and Cooper’s beau, Jon Eason (there are recipes at the end of the book).  

I truly enjoyed how the story ended.  It is heartwarming.  There are changes in store for a couple of the characters.   The last meeting of the year for the Sunshine Bible study group touched on some good points.  I like the idea of a gratitude journal.  My favorite lesson was, “Guarding our hearts and letting the things of God in and not the world.”  The members of the Bible study are good friends.  I like how they are there for each other.  Methods of Malice is the seventh A Hope Street Church Mystery and it can be read as a standalone.  The author provides the necessary background information on the characters.  Methods of Malice is a charming Christian cozy with an important play, a dead assistant director, concerning calamities, Bible study sleuths, and a killer Christmas.  

Methods of Malice is available from Amazon*.  You can find the other A Hope Street Church Mysteries here.  Ellery Adams has Paper Cuts (I am reading it right now) coming out April 25.  It is the sixth A Secret, Book, and Scone Society NovelMurder in the Book Lover's Loft (I cannot wait to get my hands on this one) will be out on July 25.  It is the ninth A Book Retreat Mystery.  Tina Radcliffe has The Baby Inheritance publishing on April 25. Thank you for joining me today.  I will return tomorrow with my forthright review of Vera Wong's Unsolicited Advice for Murders by Jesse Q. Sutano.  I hope that you have an inspiring day. I am off to work on my new bike (the doctor thought it would be good exercise).  It arrived unassembled (of course).  The instructions are not the best.  A task that I thought would take two hours is taking me days.  I will get there in the end.  When I am done I will get myself a cute basket and lights for the wheels.  Take care and Happy Reading!


The Avid Reader 

*This post contains affiliate links.  As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.

Thursday, March 9, 2023

Worthy Opponents by Danielle Steel

 Worthy Opponents

Book Summary

Spencer Brooke always knew she was destined to be CEO of her grandfather’s business—the most respected and luxurious department store in New York City. Brooke’s has been at the center of every happy memory she has, but it hasn’t been an easy journey. Seven years after her father’s death, her life is very different from the days when she walked through the store with her grandfather as a young girl. She may be the owner of Brooke’s, but she’s also now a divorced single mother of twin boys. And with the ever-evolving landscape of the fashion industry comes new challenges for Spencer and the legacy she’s inherited.

Mike Weston is known for making enormous profits by transforming small businesses into bigger, more successful ones. With his marriage at a breaking point and his children grown up, investing is where he thrives—where he can build something greater. And Brooke’s feels like the perfect opportunity. Yet the firm’s beautiful and savvy CEO turns down the offer before they even meet.

Spencer has no interest in outside investors meddling in her family business; her grandfather never saw the need for them, and neither does she. She refuses to be tempted by Mike’s offer, despite her big dreams of expanding the store. But when bad luck strikes, suddenly she is backed into a corner.

In Worthy Opponents, Danielle Steel crafts a thrilling story about a powerful woman—and her equally formidable opponent.
My Thoughts

Worthy Opponents by Danielle Steel is a story that spans three generations.  I thought Worthy Opponents was an easy-to-read story.  I was immediately drawn into the tale.  I like the author’s casual writing style.  I enjoyed the wonderful descriptions of Brooke’s.  It sounds like a very special store.  If I had the money, I would want to shop there.  I liked the majority of the characters in the story (Spencer’s father and wife were the exceptions).  Spencer is a strong, smart woman with a good heart.  I liked how she wanted to preserve her grandfather’s legacy.  Spencer is a woman who works to overcome the obstacles thrown in her path.  She had a great attitude.  Spencer sees no reason why she could not have a career and a family.  It takes hard work, courage, love, and help from the right people.  I enjoyed the heartwarming ending. 

Worthy Opponents is a story about dedication, hard work, family, second chances, and love.  The first couple of chapters are the backstory.  They set the stage for the rest of the book.  There is repetition of the main details.  I am not sure why author’s feel the need to repeat key details (do they think we forget).  I have been reading Danielle Steel’s novels since I was twelve years old.   I am always eager to read her latest creation.  Worthy Opponents is a great escape.  I like it when I begin reading and the world falls away.  For a few hours, I am immersed in a different world.  Worthy Opponents is an uplifting tale about a family legacy, a resilient woman, a  special store, a disheartening hardship, a money man, and a lasting love.

Worthy Opponents is available from Amazon*.  Danielle Steel has The Wedding Planner coming out May 2 and Palazzo on June 27.  You can follow Danielle Steel on Amazon and they will send you an email when she has a new book release.  Thank you for joining me today.  I am off to finish organizing my outdoor decorations.  I am getting them organized into totes by holiday.  I am then storing them in order.  This will make things much easier (as I cleaned things out, I kept finding new inflatables and lights).  I will return on Tuesday, March 14 with Methods of Malice by Ellery Adams and Tina Radcliffe.  It is the seventh A Hope Street Church Mystery.  I hope that you have a delightful weekend.  Take care and Happy Reading!


The Avid Reader 

*This post contains affiliate links.  As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.

Wednesday, March 8, 2023

Second Time Around by Melody Carlson

 Second Time Around
Book Summary

When empty nester Mallory Farrell inherits her grandmother's run-down tourist shop in Seaport, Oregon, it seems the only sensible thing to do is to sell it. But when her former secret crush, Grayson Matthews, wants to buy the property in order to complete his plans to redevelop the funky town's business district into a soulless, cookie-cutter outdoor mall, Mallory digs in her heels and decides to renovate the property herself.

With a lot of hard work and a little bit of help, Mallory makes incredible progress turning the store into an eclectic home décor shop called Romancing the Home--all while trying to ignore the depressing and decrepit apartment she's living in on the second floor. When the shop catches the eye of a popular renovation TV show producer, Mallory is thrilled--until it becomes clear that her apartment is to be part of the segment as well.

She's tempted to abandon her dreams and the town under a cloud of shame. But perhaps there's more to Grayson than meets the eye. Can he swallow his pride, change his plans, and help Mallory romance her own home--and possibly her life?
My Thoughts

Second Time Around by Melody Carlson is an engaging and entertaining story.  I can always count on Melody Carlson to provide a story that will capture and hold my attention.  I like the author’s friendly writing style.  I was quickly drawn into Mallory Farrell’s story.  After the wedding of Mallory’s daughter, Mallory’s home is feeling empty.  She loves the house that she spent years lovingly restoring and Mallory likes her interior decorating business.  Mallory feels that everyone is moving on but her.  When Mallory learns that she inherited her grandmother’s shop in Seaport, Oregon she feels this might be the answer.  Mallory decides to turn the business into a home décor shop as well as offering her interior design services.  The contractor Mallory hires completes the shop portion of the project, but he ignores the apartment above which is desperate need of a makeover.  Mallory opens her store with rave reviews.  She is surprised when a design show host wants to feature her shop and her apartment on the show.  Mallory must swallow her pride and ask for help.  Can the project be completed before the television production crew arrives?  

Second Time Around is a clean, inspiring story.  I liked the characters (well, most of them).  They are friendly and relatable. Mallory has some contentious relatives.  I like how she dealt with them.  I appreciated the life lessons in this story.  The setting was delightful.  A small, coastal town with friendly residents.  I understood why Mallory did not want people to see her colorful, rundown abode.  She is an independent woman which made her reluctant to ask for help especially from someone who wanted to demolish her building for a mall.  Second Time Around came to an end much too soon.  Second Time Around is a cute coastal tale with a wonderful wedding, a hollow home, an unanticipated inheritance, construction quandaries, design dilemma, a tv predicament, and a man with a plan.

Second Time Around is available from Amazon*.  Melody Carlson has A Royal Christmas coming out September 5.  I look forward to reading a new Melody Carlson Christmas story each year.  You can follow Melody Carlson on Amazon.  You will receive an email when she has a new book release.  Thank you for stopping by today.  I will return tomorrow to share my thoughts on Worthy Opponents by Danielle Steel.  I hope that you have an uplifting day.  Take care and Happy Reading!


The Avid Reader 

*This post contains affiliate links.  As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.

Tuesday, March 7, 2023

Lemon Curd Killer by Laura Childs

 Lemon Curd Killer


About Lemon Curd Killer

Lemon Curd Killer (A Tea Shop Mystery) 

Cozy Mystery 

25th in Series 

Setting - South Carolina 

Berkley (March 7, 2023) 

Hardcover ‏ : ‎ 320 pages


High tea and high fashion turn deadly in this latest installment of the New York Times bestselling series.

Tea shop entrepreneur Theodosia Browning has been tapped to host a fancy Limón Tea in a genuine lemon orchard as a rousing kickoff to Charleston Fashion Week. But as fairy lights twinkle and the scent of lemon wafts among the tea tables, the deadly murder of a fashion designer puts the squeeze on things. 

As the lemon curd begins to sour, the murdered woman’s daughter begs Theodosia to help find the killer. Tea events and fashion shows must go on, however, which puts Theodosia and her tea sommelier, Drayton Conneley, right in the thick of squabbling business partners, crazed clothing designers, irate film producers, drug deals, and a disastrous Tea Trolley Tour.


About Laura Childs

Laura Childs is the New York Times bestselling author of the Tea Shop Mysteries, Scrapbook Mysteries, and Cackleberry Club Mysteries. In her previous life she was CEO/Creative Director of her own marketing firm and authored several screenplays. She is married to a professor of Chinese art history, loves to travel, rides horses, enjoys fundraising for various non-profits, and has two Chinese Shar-Pei dogs.

Laura specializes in cozy mysteries that have the pace of a thriller (a thrillzy!) Her three series are:

The Tea Shop Mysteries – set in the historic district of Charleston and featuring Theodosia Browning, owner of the Indigo Tea Shop. Theodosia is a savvy entrepreneur, and pet mom to service dog Earl Grey. She’s also an intelligent, focused amateur sleuth who doesn’t rely on coincidences or inept police work to solve crimes. This charming series is highly atmospheric and rife with the history and mystery. 

The Scrapbooking Mysteries – a slightly edgier series that takes place in New Orleans. The main character, Carmela, owns Memory Mine scrapbooking shop in the French Quarter and is forever getting into trouble with her friend, Ava, who owns the Juju Voodoo shop. New Orleans’ spooky above-ground cemeteries, jazz clubs, bayous, and Mardi Gras madness make their presence known here!

The Cackleberry Club Mysteries – set in Kindred, a fictional town in the Midwest. In a rehabbed Spur station, Suzanne, Toni, and Petra, three semi-desperate, forty-plus women have launched the Cackleberry Club. Eggs are the morning specialty here and this cozy cafe even offers a book nook and yarn shop. Business is good but murder could lead to the cafe’s undoing! This series offers recipes, knitting, cake decorating, and a dash of spirituality.

Author Links



My Thoughts

Lemon Curd Killer by Laura Childs is a delight to read.  A Tea Shop Mysteries was one of two cozy mystery series that got me hooked on the genre.  I thought Lemon Curd Killer was well-written with steady pacing.  The characters are developed and realistic (that includes Delaine).  I just love Theo, Drayton, Hayley, and Miss Dimple as well as Earl Grey.  I even like Detective Burt Tidwell.  I am on the fence concerning Theo’s beau.  The author captured Charleston with her vivid descriptions.  She made me feel like I was in Charleston.  I like the events that were hosted by Theo, Drayton, and Hayley at the charming Indigo Tea Shop. The descriptions of the delectable delights created by Hayley will have your mouth watering.  

The mystery was interesting.  It was not a simple whodunit.  I enjoyed following the clues to solve the crime (I love solving the mysteries).  I enjoyed the multifaceted mystery.  I like how the victim and her killing tied into the Limon Tea.  Delaine’s theatrics were amusing.  She is an over-the-top character.  Theo asked questions and searched for clues.  She even found herself in danger a time or two (need a little suspense).  Theo with help from her friends puts the pieces together.  Of course, Theo’s detective boyfriend tells her to keep her nose out of the investigation (not a chance).  I enjoyed the reveal scene.  Lemon Curd Killer can be read as a standalone for those new to the series.  I have enjoyed reading all twenty-five books in A Tea Shop Mysteries.   I am looking forward to reading Honey Drop Dead when it comes out.  Lemon Curd Killer is a tangy treat with a fatal fashion show, a distraught daughter, scrumptious scones, tasty tea, a dapper Drayton, a worried detective, diaphanous fashions, and an inquisitive Theo. 

Lemon Curd Killer is available from AmazonB&N, Kobo,  IndieBound, and Penguin Random House.  You can find the other A Tea Shop Mysteries hereYou can find Laura Child's other novels here.  The next A Tea Shop Mystery is Honey Drop Dead and it will be out on August 8.  Are you ready for the giveaway?  Two lucky people will win a hard cover copy of Lemon Curd Killer (sorry, but US Only).  You can click here to enter or enter via the Rafflecopter form below.  Leave a comment on my blog for an extra entry.  Good Luck!  Tomorrow I am featuring Second Time Around by Melody Carlson.  I hope that you have a joyful day.  Take care and Happy Reading!


The Avid Reader 

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March 6 – Diane Reviews Books – REVIEW 

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March 8 – The Mystery of Writing – SPOTLIGHT 

March 8 – Christy's Cozy Corners – REVIEW 
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March 11 – Celticlady's Reviews – SPOTLIGHT 
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March 12 – Cozy Up With Kathy – REVIEW

March 12 – Ruff Drafts – SPOTLIGHT

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March 17 – View from the Birdhouse – REVIEW
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