Saturday, December 4, 2021

Petals and Poison by Jess Dylan

 Petals and Poison
Book Summary

Petals and Poison is the second in a colorful cozy mystery series from Jess Dylan, set in a flower shop with a knack for attracting trouble as well as customers.

Sierra Ravenswood has embraced her role as owner of Flower House floral shop and companion to her former boss's pet, Gus the Corgi. Sierra’s team are enjoying their new jobs too. At least until everyone realizes their lack of experience might be contributing to their lack of customers . . .

Sierra decides they need a change in luck, so she creates a special window display featuring lucky bamboo and auspicious flowers. It seems the new arrangement has worked when the shop is flooded with customers the next day, including a van full of college students on a horticulture club field trip. Unfortunately, Sierra doesn't notice that the students’ distracted professor has gone missing until Gus's urgent barking leads her to the storeroom – and the body of the unfortunate professor.

With folks now referring to Flower House as “Poison House” and suspects galore, Sierra fears her new business is doomed before it has a chance to get off the ground. Determined to reverse course and see justice served, she sets out to solve the crime and change her luck once more.

The Flower House is no place for shrinking violets.
My Thoughts

Sierra Ravenswood is busy running the Flower House, a floral shop and preparing for the opening of the new café.  The café will serve food with edible flowers and plants.  Raven is surprised when a van pulls up outside the shop.  Professor Lowry and a few of his students invade the shop for a tour of the orchid greenhouse which had been arranged with Felix before his departure (and he failed to tell Sierra).  The group is quite rowdy and wreaks havoc in the shop.  When things calm down, Sierra finds Professor Lowry dead in the storeroom.  There is no shortage of suspects including Calvin, Sierra’s employee and potential romantic partner.  With the police focused on Calvin, Sierra dons her sleuthing cap once again.  She works on questioning suspects and digging up clues.  Someone, though, is not happy with her sleuthing and attempts to stop her.  Can Sierra expose the killer before Calvin gets arrested or she becomes the next victim? 

Petals and Poison by Jess Dylan is the 2nd A Flower House MysteryPetals and Poison can be read as a standalone if you have not indulged in Death in Bloom.  Petals and Poison contains good writing and developed characters.  Sierra, Denna, Calvin, Granny, Rocky, and Sierra’s parents are some of the residents in this southern town.  I like Sierra’s upbeat attitude and her plans for the business.  Granny is a fun character with her superstitions and folklore.  There are a couple of quirky characters included which is natural in any small southern town.  I like the setting of Aerieville, Tennessee.  It is the type of town where you can relax on your front porch with a glass of sweet tea and chat with your neighbors as they go by.  The mystery was well-plotted with a variety of suspects and good clues.  I like that Sierra actively investigated with help from her friends.  I was able to identify the guilty party early in the story, but I did not know why.  I thought the why was unique for a cozy mystery and it tied in nicely with the theme of the series.  The café with edible flowers and plants was a clever idea.  It was interesting learning more about edible plants.  I could have done with less romance in the book.  Sierra is interested in Calvin, and I thought it took up too much of the book.  Denna and Rocky have a budding relationship as well.  I do not mind some romance as long as the focus is on the mystery.  Petals and Poison is a lighthearted Southern cozy mystery with edible eats, a perished professor, sweet tea, cavorting college students, puzzling poppies, and romantic endeavors.

Petals and Poison is available from Amazon*.  The first A Flower House Mystery is Death in Bloom.  The third A Flower House Mystery is Fatal Flowers which publishes May 24, 2022.  Thank you for joining me today.  I will return on Monday to share my thoughts on A Plus One for Murder by Laura Bradford.  It is the debut of A Friend for Hire Mystery series.  I hope that you have a relaxing weekend.  I will be working on the inside Christmas decorations.  Our home is small so we have to shift things around to put up the trees (two of them).  Take care, be kind, and Happy Reading. 

The Avid Reader 

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

Friday, December 3, 2021

The Memory Quilt by Lenora Worth

 The Memory Quilt
Book Summary

Running a historic Inn on beautiful Shadow Lake is a satisfying life for the Amish King sisters. Until love stirs a longing for more . . .
When Abigail King stumbles upon a man lying on the beach near her family inn, her every instinct says to help the stranger. With his memory gone, “Jonah” is reluctant to contact the authorities, so Abigail offers him shelter, despite her sisters’ reservations.  As she nurses him back to health, Abigail helps him recover his lost past, creating a quilt from images of the shattered fragments he recalls. But with every square Abigail adds, she wonders if she is falling for a man who can never truly be hers . . .
Jonah feels at home at The Shadow Lake Inn with the lovely Abigail, at peace with the Amish lifestyle she lives.  But as the pieces of his past are sewn together, the mystery only deepens—until he knows the only way forward is to turn himself in to the police, to finally discover the truth of who he really is.  For the one thing worse than not knowing his past, is not knowing what the future holds for him and Abigail . . .
My Thoughts
The Memory Quilt by Lenora Worth takes us to the Shadow Lake Inn on the shore of Lake Erie in Pennsylvania.  Abigail King is taking a walk along the shore when she spots a man laying motionless on the beach.  Abigail notices that he is bleeding.  She enlists her sisters’ help to get the man back to the guesthouse at the inn where she hides him from her parents.  The man awakens, but he cannot remember anything about himself.  As Jonah, as Abigail dubbed him, recovers, he remembers fragments.  Abigail sketches his disjointed memories which she begins making into a quilt.  The more time Jonah and Abigail spend together, the more the come to care for each other.  They both know it is not possible since they are from two different worlds plus Jonah does not know how he ended up injured in the lake.  The last thing Jonah wishes to do is bring harm to the King family.  How can Jonah discover the truth about himself?

The Memory Quilt by Lenora Worth is a sweet story.  I thought the story contained good writing with developed characters.  We get to know the King family who run the Shadow Lake Inn.  Abigail’s parents have given Abigail the running of the inn because they have health issues.  I did find it curious how Abigail was able to spend so much time caring for Jonah when she was responsible for a busy inn.  There is a mystery regarding Jonah’s identity and how he ended up injured.  No one seems to be looking for him either.  There is some suspense near the end.  I wish there had been more clues for the reader so they could try to solve the mystery before the reveal (I love solving mysteries).  I would have liked a little more action as that would have increased the stories pacing.  There was also repetition of information.  I enjoyed reading about Abigail’s unique quilt. The King family were a close-knit unit with caring parents who wanted to make sure their daughters stayed on the straight and narrow.  They did not want to risk gossip about their girls or that one of them would jump the fence.  The descriptions of the area around the inn sounded beautiful.  It would be a wonderful place to go on vacation.  The Memory Quilt is a unique Amish novel with fragmented memories, considerate sisters, apprehensive parents, a compassionate maedel, an upsetting situation, and a sticky situation. 

The Memory Quilt is available from Amazon*.  You can find Lenora Worth's other novels here. Lenora has Christmas K-9 Protectors (a Love Inspired Suspense) out now.  Thank you for reading my review today.  Tomorrow I am sharing my thoughts on Petals and Poison.  It is the debut of A Flower House Mystery series.  I hope that you have a merry day.  Take care, be kind, and Happy Reading!


The Avid Reader 

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

Thursday, December 2, 2021

A Murder Like No Author by Amy Lillard

A Murder Like No Author

Book Summary

Bookstore owner Arlo and her Friday Night Book Club sleuths are going to have to read between the lines to solve this mystery!

It's movie time in Sugar Springs and the whole town is pitching together to get the historical Coliseum Theater ready for the event of the year—the premiere of Missing Girl, local author Wally Harrison's bestselling novel turned film.

Thrilled to bring tourists to Sugar Springs, the town comes together to host the late author's event. But when a stranger arrives, boasting he has definitive proof that Wally didn't write Missing Girl...well, drama leaps from the page into real life. Mishaps start taking place around the theater—and then the stranger is discovered dead in his hotel room right before his press conference.

Can Arlo and her Friday night book club to sleuth out the killer and solve the mystery before the town's Hollywood dreams go up in smoke?

My Thoughts

A Murder Like No Author by Amy Lillard has Arlo and the book club group try to solve the murder of a visitor who was causing a ruckus in town.  The town of Sugar Springs is getting ready to host the movie premiere of Missing Girl.  The film is based on the bestselling book by the late Wally Harrison.  The victim claimed he had proof that the author’s assistant really authored the novel.  He was killed before he could produce his evidence.  Arlo and the Friday Night Book Club (which is now meeting every day and rarely discusses books) set out to solve the crime before the movie premiere.  Arlo has her hands full this time trying to wrangle the ladies to keep them out of mischief and out of the Chief of Police’s hair.  Matters are further complicated by a series of incidents at the theater.  Fern claims it is ghosts, but Arlo has her doubts.  Can Arlo and the book club ladies get to the bottom of the murder? 

A Murder Like No Author is the 3rd book in A Main Street Book Club Mysteries.  I suggest reading the books in order as each book builds upon the previous one.  It will allow you to understand the characters and their relationships.  The characters are developed and unique.  Arlo is a kind woman who is always there for her friends.  She has the patience of a saint.  She tries so hard to wrangle Helen, Camille, and Fern.  They can be a handful especially when they have an idea.  Mads Keller, the Chief of Police, is a good man who is rapidly losing patience with the senior sleuths.  Sam is going through a tough family situation.  Arlo feels for him and wishes there was more she could do for him.  My heart went out to Sam.  I understand what he is going through very well. The town of Sugar Springs is charming.  It is full of quirky residents and quaint shops.  I love the bookstore, though, I do not how Arlo can listen to Faulkner all day.  The mystery was thought out and there are good clues to help readers solve the crime.  I liked the red herring. The crime can easily be solved long before the reveal if you do not let Helen, Camille, and Fern’s antics distract you.  Everything comes together for a satisfying ending.  The Wally Harrison storyline which has been running through the first three books is finally put to bed.  There is plenty of humor in this cozy mystery that will have you chuckling and shaking your head.  I could do without the repetition.  It is a bit much after a while.  I also am not a fan of the sort-of love triangle between Arlo, Mads, and Sam.  I am hoping that Arlo will get with Mads.  Their relationship makes more sense to me, and they are a cute pair.  A Murder Like No Author is a spirited whodunit with a departed rebel rouser, hilarious hijinks, a cross chief, a lady in scarlet, and an overburdened bookstore owner.

A Murder Like No Author is available from Amazon*.  The first two books in A Main Street Book Club Mysteries are Can't Judge a Book by It's Murder (on Kindle Unlimited) and A Murder Between the Pages.  You can find Amy Lillard's other novels here. Amy Lillard has Marry Me, Millie publishing on December 28.   It is the first book in the Paradise Valley series. Amy Clipston, Kathleen Fuller, and Shelley Shepard Gray have An Amish Quilting Bee releasing December 7.  I hope that you cheerful day.  Take care, be kind, and Happy Reading!


The Avid Reader 

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

Wednesday, December 1, 2021

Marriage Can Be Mischief by Amanda Flower

 Marriage Can Be Mischief

Book Summary

Millie Fisher may be widowed, but she leads a full life in her Amish hometown of Harvest, Ohio. There’s her quilting circle, her Boer goats, her gift for matchmaking—and the occasional murder . . 
Millie is happy that her childhood friend, Uriah Schrock, has returned to Harvest after decades away. He was sweet on Millie in their school days, but she only had eyes for her future husband. Now, there’s a new spark between them, so Millie is concerned when Uriah doesn’t show up at the Harvest concert series—or for his job as the Village square’s groundskeeper. Perhaps Millie has been involved in too many murder investigations, but she has a sinking feeling. And when she and her best friend, Lois, find Uriah with the police, it seems she’s right  . . .
A film crew is in Harvest to make a movie about a forty-year-old unsolved murder. A skeleton has been found at the bottom of a ravine—and Uriah is certain it’s his sister, Galilee. Right before Uriah left Ohio, she disappeared, and her harsh husband, Samuel, was found fatally stabbed with a knitting needle. The sheriff declared that Galilee killed him and ran away. Uriah never believed the theory, and he’s come back to Harvest hoping, Gott willing, Millie will help him stitch together the truth . . .
My Thoughts

Marriage Can Be Mischief by Amanda Flower is an entertaining cozy mystery.  While it is the third book in An Amish Matchmaker Mysteries, it can be read as a standalone.  You will be missing out two amusing stories though.    I love that we get an older protagonist in this series along with her over-the-top sidekick.  Millie Fisher is a delight and so is her best friend, Lois.  These two are complete opposites in appearance.  Millie and Lois are a hoot.  That Lois is something else.  I love that Lois calls Millie “Amish Marple.”  Millie’s goats are amusing.  I love that Millie takes Peter and Phillip for walks.  I can just see Millie on her red bike with her two mischievous goats following along.  Those two rotten darlings are Millie’s furbabies.  It is always a pleasure to visit Harvest, Ohio.  It is a charming town with a mix of Amish and Englisch.  I like that the characters from An Amish Candy Shop Mysteries make an appearance like Margot and Deputy Little.  I keep hoping the sheriff of their town will get ousted. I wish Aidan had run against him in the last election.  The mystery has a documentary crew finding a skull in a ravine.  It relates to a cold case that is forty years old.  Millie’s friend, Uriah Schrock has been searching for his sister, Galilee Zook for forty years.  She disappeared the same night her husband, Samuel Zook was found dead.  Uriah never believed the rumor that Galilee killed her husband or that she went Englisch.  Millie and Lois begin asking questions in the hopes of discovering what happened to Uriah’s sister.  Someone is not happy with Millie’s meddling and decides to stop her.  I had a good time following along on Millie and Lois’ investigation.  You never know what Lois is going to do or say next.  While I had no problem identifying the guilty party, it did not diminish my reading pleasure.  I like how the case wrapped up.  I appreciated the epilogue at the end of the book.  I hope we get many more An Amish Matchmaker MysteriesMarriage Can Be Mischief is an amusing whodunit with gamboling goats, a troubled brother, a broken buggy, a missing sister, a friendly filmmaker, an unsupportive sheriff, a colorful coiffure, and an Amish sleuth. 

Marriage Can Be Mischief is available from Amazon*.  The other two books in An Amish Matchmaker Mystery series are Matchmaking Can Be Murder (on Kindle Unlimited) and Courting Can Be KillerAn Amish Matchmaker Mysteries ties into An Amish Candy Shop MysteriesAmanda Flower has Because I Could Not Stop for Death publishing  on July 12, 2022. On February 22, 2022 we can obtain Put Out to Pasture which is the 2nd book in Farm to Table Mysteries.  The latest A Piper & Porter Mystery is Frozen Detective which releases March 22, 2022.  Thank you for visiting today.  I will return tomorrow to share my thoughts on A Murder Like No Author by Amy Lillard.  It is the 3rd book in A Main Street Book Club Mysteries.  I hope that the first day of December is a cozy one for you.  Take care, be kind, and Happy Reading!


The Avid Reader 

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

Tuesday, November 30, 2021

Bear a Wee Grudge by Meg Macy: Review & Giveaway!

Bear A Wee Grudge


About Bear A Wee Grudge


Bear a Wee Grudge (A Shamelessly Adorable Teddy Bear Mystery) 

Teddy bear shop manager Sasha Silverman must step fast to find a murderer before an upcoming Scottish festival . . .

It’s springtime in Silver Hollow, Michigan, and Sasha is looking forward to the village’s inaugural Highland Fling weekend. Plans are underway for a Kilted 5K, athletic competitions, dancing, live music, and even a Hurl-the-Haggis contest. Meanwhile, Sasha’s staff is busy crafting custom teddy bears in kilts for the Silver Bear Shop’s vendor booth. But trouble’s brewing behind the scenes, as the obnoxious Teddy Hartman, former owner of a rival teddy bear company, sows seeds of discord about town, targeting Sasha’s family and their business.

Things go from plaid to worse when—just a week before the festival kicks-off—the disgruntled gossip is found murdered with an ax buried in his back. Sasha’s dad is arrested, since he’s a champion ax-thrower. But she doesn’t give a dram what it looks like—Sasha knows that despite the old business rivalry with Hartman, her father is innocent. So with a spot of help from her friends, Sasha must bag the real killer before her first Fling also becomes her last.

About Meg Macy

Award-winning mystery author Meg Macy lives in Southeast Michigan, close enough to Ann Arbor, Chelsea, and Dexter -- the setting of her "Shamelessly Adorable Teddy Bear" cozy mysteries for Kensington. She is also one-half of the writing team of D.E. Ireland for the Eliza Doolittle & Henry Higgins mysteries; two books, Wouldn't It Be Deadly and Get Me to the Grave On Time were Agatha Award finalists for Best Historical. Meg's first published book, Double Crossing, won the 2012 Best First Novel Spur Award from Western Writers of America. Meg loves reading historical and cozy mysteries, gardening, crafts, and watercolor painting.

Author Links

Links Website -- 

My Thoughts

Bear a Wee Grudge by Meg Macy is the 5th A Shamelessly Adorable Teddy Bear Mystery series.  It can be read as a standalone if you are new to the series, but I recommend reading this cute series in order.  Sasha Silverman manages the family’s teddy bear shop in Silver Hollow, Michigan.  She is looking forward to the upcoming Highland Fling weekend.  It is a first for their cozy village.  The only bone of contention is the obnoxious Teddy Hartman who is determined to make life difficult for the Silverman’s.  The family is checking out the festival grounds where people are practicing for the highland competitions.  When Sasha’s father, Alex and Gil are hunting for a missing weapon, they find Teddy dead with an axe in his back.  Detective Phil Hunter arrests Alex before forensics is even collected.  Sasha must work quickly if she is to prove her father’s innocence.  I thought Bear a Wee Grudge was well-written with developed characters.  The pacing is a little slower in this story, but the mystery kept me interested.  I like the setting of Silver Hollow.  It is a charming small town with quaint shops and friendly residents.  I love all their festivals and activities.  I enjoy the teddy bear theme and camaraderie at the factory.    The whodunit was a fun one to solve.  There are a number of suspects to consider and clues along the way to help solve the crime.  Sasha actively investigated the murder, and she asks good questions.  There is humor in the story along with plenty of warm moments with family, friends, and Sasha spending time with her kind beau.  Bear a Wee Grudge is a craicing good time with Highland Fling fun, tartan teddy bears, an axed antagonist, an indolent detective, a frustrated family, cruel chatter, a mean Morkie, and a sleuthing Sasha.  

Bear a Wee Grudge is available from Amazon,  B&N, Kobo, Google Play, and Apple BooksYou can find the other novels in A Shamelessly Adorable Teddy Bear Mystery series here.  
Giveaway Time!  One winner will receive a print copy of Bear a Wee Grudge, a teddy bear, and more (sorry, but U.S. Only).  To enter, click here or use the Rafflecopter form below.  Leave a comment for an extra entry.  Good Luck!
Thank you for joining me today.  Tomorrow I am featuring Marriage Can Be Mischief by Amanda Flower.  It is the 3rd An Amish Matchmaker Mystery.  Here are a few of the other books that were published today:  Big Trouble in Little Greektown by Kate Collins, Murder at the Lobstah Shack by Maddie Day, The Memory Quilt by Lenora Worth, A Murder Like No Author by Amy Lillard, Christmas Candy Corpse by Rosemarie Ross, and Petals & Poison by Jess Dylan.  I hope that you have a cozy day.  It is hard to believe it is the last day of November.  This year is going by so swiftly. I am off to continue working on my yard decorations.  I have an extension cord problem (too many inflatables and not enough outlets).  I believe a trip to the hardware store is in my future.  Do not forget to leave a comment for an extra entry.  Take care, be kind, and Happy Reading!


The Avid Reader 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tour Participants

November 30 – The Avid Reader – REVIEW 

December 1 – I'm All About Books – SPOTLIGHT 

December 1 – Literary Gold – CHARACTER GUEST POST 

December 2 – Socrates Book Reviews – SPOTLIGHT 

December 2 – Ascroft, eh? – AUTHOR INTERVIEW 
December 3 – Sapphyria's Book Reviews – REVIEW 

December 4 – Books a Plenty Book Reviews - REVIEW, CHARACTER INTERVIEW 

December 5 – Cozy Up WIth Kathy – REVIEW 

December 6 – Novels Alive – GUEST POST 

December 6 – Baroness' Book Trove – REVIEW 
December 7 – I Read What You Write – AUTHOR INTERVIEW 

December 7 – Maureen's Musings – SPOTLIGHT 

December 8 – Valerie's Musings – REVIEW 

December 9 – Mysteries with Character – GUEST POST 

December 9 – Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book – REVIEW 
December 10 – Brooke Blogs - SPOTLIGHT 


December 12 – Celticlady's Reviews – SPOTLIGHT 

December 13 – BookishKelly2020 – SPOTLIGHT
*This post contains affiliate links.  As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.

Monday, November 29, 2021

A Little Christmas Spirit by Sheila Roberts: Review & Excerpt!


A Little Christmas Spirit

About the Book

The best Christmas gifts—family, friendship, and second chances—are all waiting to be unwrapped in this sparkling new novel from USA Today bestselling author Sheila Roberts.

Single mom Lexie Bell hopes to make this first Christmas in their new home special for her six-year-old son, Brock. Festive lights and homemade fudge, check. Friendly neighbors? Uh, no. The reclusive widower next door is more grinchy than nice. But maybe he just needs a reminder of what matters most. At least sharing some holiday cheer with him will distract her from her own lack of romance…

Stanley Mann lost his Christmas spirit when he lost his wife and he sees no point in looking for it. Until she shows up in his dreams and informs him it’s time to ditch his Scroogey attitude. Stanley digs in his heels but she’s determined to haunt him until he wakes up and rediscovers the joys of the season. He can start by being a little more neighborly to the single mom next door. In spite of his protests he’s soon making snowmen and decorating Christmas trees. How will it all end?

Merrily, of course. A certain Christmas ghost is going to make sure of that!

About the Author

Sheila Roberts lives on a lake in Washington State, where most of her novels are set. Her books have been published in several languages. On Strike for Christmas, was made into a movie for the Lifetime Movie Network and her novel, The Nine Lives of Christmas, was made into a movie for Hallmark.

Author Links

My Thoughts

A Little Christmas Spirit by Sheila Connolly is a heartwarming Christmas tale.  I was drawn into the story from the very beginning.  This is a cute holiday tale that will put a smile on your face.  The book is well-written with realistic dialogue and characters.  Stanley Mann is still mourning the loss of his wife, Carol.  He has become something of a hermit and curmudgeon.  Then his deceased wife, Carol makes an appearance.  She is tired of Stanley moping about the house and has come to give him a big nudge.  Lexie and her son, Brock have moved in next door. They are new to town and could use a father/grandfather figure in their lives.  Stanley begins by doing little things and then he starts spending more time in their company until he says the wrong thing.  It looks like he will end up spending Christmas alone despite Carol’s best efforts.  Is there a way to get them all back together again?  Stanley may seem gruff but there is a softie in there somewhere.  We get to know more about Stanley and Carol’s life together through the reminisces.  We get to see the special life the couple had together as Stanley travels down memory lane.  Lexie is a teacher raising her son on her own.  She is grieving the loss of her father.  Lexie wishes her mother would visit her, but her mother is grieving as well.  Lexie would like to find a man to be a part of her and Brock’s life, but she wants to make sure that he is nothing like her ex-boyfriend.  Brock was your typical little boy.  He really took a shine to Stanley and helped bring the man out of his shell.  Brock’s behavior could be an example to adults especially his ability to forgive.  There is a cute Westie in the story too.  I have a feeling Carol helped the dog find Stanley.  A Little Christmas Spirit is just what I needed to put me in the mood for the holidays. I knew I could count on Sheila Connolly to provide a touching Christmas tale.  A Little Christmas Spirit is a tender holiday story with a cute canine, a bubbly boy, a calamitous matchmaking attempt, a grouchy grandpa, an inconvenient injury, and a tenderhearted teacher. 


It was the sixth call in two days, all from the same person. Wouldn’t you think, if a man didn’t answer his phone the first five times, that the pest would get the message and quit bugging him?

But no, and now Stanley Mann was irritated enough to pick up and say a gruff “Hello.” Translation: Why are you bugging me?

“It’s about time you answered,” said his sister-in-law, Amy. “I was beginning to wonder if you were okay.”

Of course, he wasn’t okay. He hadn’t been okay since Carol had died.

“I’m fine. Thanks for checking.”

The words didn’t come out with any sense of warmth or appreciation for her concern to encourage conversation, but Amy soldiered on. “Stan, we all want you to come down for Thanksgiving. You haven’t seen the family in ages.”

Not since the memorial service, and he hadn’t really missed them. He liked his brother-in-law well enough, but his wife’s younger sister was a ding-dong, her daughters were drama queens and their husbands were idiots. The younger generation were all into their selfies and their jobs and their crazy vacations where they swam with sharks. Who in their right mind swam with sharks? He had better things to do than subject himself to spending an entire day with them.

He did have enough manners left to thank Amy for the invite before turning her down.

“You really should come,” she persisted.

No, he shouldn’t.

“Don’t you want to see the new great-niece?”

No, he didn’t. “I’ve got plans.”

“What? To hole up in the house with a turkey frozen dinner?”

“No.” Not turkey. He hated turkey. It made him sleepy.

“You know Carol would want you to be with us.”

He’d been with them pretty much every Thanksgiving of his married life. He’d paid his dues.

“You don’t have any family of your own.”

Thanks for rubbing it in. He’d lost his brother ten years earlier to a heart attack, and both his parents were gone now as well. He and Carol had never had any kids of their own.

But he was fine. He was perfectly happy in his own company.

“I’m good, Amy. Don’t worry about me.”

“I can’t help it. You know, Carol was always afraid that if something happened to her you’d become a hermit.”

Hermits were scruffy old buzzards with bad teeth and long beards who hated people. Stanley didn’t hate people. He just didn’t need to be around them all the time. There was a difference. And he wasn’t scruffy. He brushed his teeth. And he shaved...every once in a while.

“Amy, I’m fine. Don’t worry. Happy Thanksgiving, and tell Jimmy he can have my share of the turkey,” Stanley said, then ended the call before she could grill him further regarding those plans he’d said he had.

They were perfectly good plans. He was going to pick up a frozen pizza and watch something on TV. That sure beat driving all the way from Fairwood, Washington, to Gresham, Oregon, to be alternately bored and irritated by his in-laws. If Amy really wanted to do something good for him, she could leave him alone.

At first everyone had. He was a man in mourning. Then came COVID-19, and he was a senior self-quarantining. Now, however, it appeared he was supposed to be ready to party on. Well, he wasn’t.

Two days before Thanksgiving he made the one-mile journey to the grocery store, figuring he’d dodge the crowd. He’d figured wrong, and the store was packed with people finishing up the shopping for their holiday meal. The turkey supply in the meat freezer was running dangerously low, and half a dozen women and a lone man crowded around it like miners at the river’s edge, searching for gold, each trying to snag the best bird from the selection that remained. A woman rolled past him with a mini-mountain of food in her cart, a wailing toddler in the seat and two kids dragging along behind her, one of them pointing to the chips aisle and whining.

“I said no,” she snapped. “We don’t need chips.”

Nope. That woman needed a stiff drink.

Stanley grabbed his pizza and some pumpkin ice cream and got in the checkout line.

Two men around his age stood in front of him, talking. “They’re out of black olives,” said the first one. “I got green instead.”

The second man shook his head. “Your wife ain’t gonna like that. Everyone knows you got to have black olives at Thanksgiving.”

“I can’t help it if there’s none left on the shelves. Anyway, the only one who eats ’em is her brother, and the loser can suck it up and do without.”

Yep, family togetherness. Stanley wasn’t going to miss that.

He’d miss being with Carol, though. He missed her every day. Her absence was an ache that never left him, and resentment kept it ever fresh.

They’d reached what was often referred to as the Golden Circle, that time in life when you had enough money to travel and enjoy yourself, when your health was still good and you could carry your own luggage. They’d enjoyed traveling and had planned on doing so much more together—taking a world cruise, renting a beach house in California for a summer, even going deep-sea fishing in Mexico. Their golden years were going to be great.

Those golden years turned to brass the day she died. She didn’t even die of cancer or a stroke or something he could have accepted. She was killed in a car accident. A drunk driver in a truck had done her in and walked away with nothing more than some bruises from his airbag. It wasn’t right, and it wasn’t fair. And Stanley didn’t really have anything to be thankful about. He didn’t like Thanksgiving.

There would be worse to follow. After Thanksgiving it would be Merry Christmas!, Happy Hanukkah!, Happy Kwanzaa!, you name it. All that happy would finally get tied up in a big Happy New Year! bow. As if buying a new calendar magically made everything better. Well, it didn’t.

Stanley spent his Thanksgiving Day in lonely splendor, watching football on TV and eating his pizza. It’s not delivery. It’s DiGiorno. Worked for him. He ate two-thirds of it before deciding he should pace himself. Got to save room for dessert. Pumpkin ice cream—just as good as the traditional pie and whipped cream, and it didn’t come with any irritating in-laws. Ice cream was the food of the gods. After his pizza, he pulled out a large bowl, filled it and dug in.

When they got older, Carol had turned into the ice cream police, limiting his consumption. She’d pat his belly and say, “Now, Manly Stanley, too much of that and you’ll end up looking like a big, fat snowman. Plus you’ll clog your arteries, and that’s not good. I don’t want to risk losing you.”

Ironic. He’d wound up losing her instead.

Between all the ice cream and the beer he’d been consuming with no one to police him, he was starting to look a little like Frosty the Snowman. (Before he melted.) But who cared? He got himself a second bowl of ice cream.

He topped it off with a couple of beers and a movie along with some store-bought cookies. There you go. Happy Thanksgiving.

For a while, anyway. Until everything got together in his stomach and began to misbehave. He shouldn’t have eaten so much. Especially the pizza. He really couldn’t do spicy now that he was older. Telling everyone down there that all would soon be well, he took a couple of antacids.

No one down there was listening, and all that food had its own Turkey Day football game still going in his gut when he went to bed. He tossed and turned and groaned until, finally, he fell into an uneasy sleep.

“Pepperoni and sausage?” scolded a voice in his ear. “You know better than to eat that spicy food, Stanley.”

“I know, I know,” he muttered. “You’re right, Carol.”

Carol! Stanley rolled over and saw his wife standing by the side of his bed. She was wearing the black nightie he always loved to see her in. And then out of. Her eyes were as blue as ever. How he’d missed that sweet face!

But what was she doing here?

He blinked. “Is it really you?” He thought he’d never see her again in this lifetime, but there she was. His heart turned over.

“Yes, it’s really me,” she said.

She looked radiant and so kissable, but that quickly changed. Suddenly, her body language wasn’t very lovey-dovey. She frowned and put her hands on her hips, a sure sign she was about to let him have it.

“What were you thinking?” she demanded.

He didn’t have to ask what she was referring to. He knew.

“It’s Thanksgiving. I was celebrating,” he said.

She frowned. “All by yourself.”

“I happen to like my own company. You know that.”

“There’s liking your own company, and there’s hiding.”

“I am not hiding,” he insisted.

“Yes, you are. I gave you time to mourn, time to adjust, but enough is enough. Life is short, Stanley. It’s like living off your savings. Each day you take another withdrawal, and pretty soon there’s nothing left. You have to spend those days wisely. You’re wasting yours, dribbling away the last of your savings.”

“That’s fine with me,” he insisted. “I hate my life.”

He hated waking up to find her side of the bed empty and ached for her smile. Without her the house felt deserted. He felt deserted.

“You still like ice cream, don’t you?” she argued.

Except for when he paired it with pizza.

“Stanley, you need to get out there”

“What do you think I’m doing?” he grumped.

“Going through the motions, hanging in limbo.”

What else could she expect? “It’s not the same without you,” he protested.

“Of course it’s not. But you’re still here, and you’re here for a reason. Don’t make what happened to me a double waste. Somebody snatched my life from me, and I wasn’t done with it. I want you to go on living for the both of us.”

“How can I do that? This isn’t a life, not without you sharing it.”

“It’s a different kind of life, that’s all.”

It was a subpar, meager existence. “I miss you, Carol. I miss you sitting across from me at the breakfast table. I miss us doing things together and sitting together at night, watching TV. I miss...your touch.” He finished on a sob.

“I know.” She sat down on the bed next to him, and he couldn’t help noticing how the blankets didn’t shift under her. “But you have to start filling those empty places, Stanley.”

“I don’t want to,” he cried. “I don’t want to.”

He was still muttering “I don’t want to” when he woke up.

Alone. For a moment there, her presence had felt so real.

“She wasn’t there at all, you dope,” he muttered.

Except why was there a faint scent of peppermint in the bedroom? It made him think of the chocolate Christmas cookies she used to make with the mint-candy frosting and sprinkles on them. After a few big sniffs, he couldn’t detect so much as a whiff of peppermint and shook his head in disgust. Indigestion and memory. That was all she was.
Are you ready to read A Little Christmas SpiritA Little Christmas Spirit is available from Amazon*, Harlequin, Barnes & Noble, Books-a-Million, Powell's, and  You can find Sheila Roberts other novels here.  You should check out The Snow Globe by Sheila Roberts (such a charming story).  Visit to look at their other Christmas stories.  Thank you for stopping by today.  I hope I have helped you to find a new book and author.  I will be back tomorrow with Bear a Wee Grudge by Meg Macy.  It is the 5th A Shamelessly Adorable Teddy Bear Mystery.  I hope that you have a merry Monday.  Take care, be kind, and Happy Reading!


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