Monday, August 15, 2022

Room and Board by Miriam Parker

Room and Board 
Book Summary 

A charming and redemptive novel about unexpected second chances, following a publicist who, after the sudden implosion of her career, takes a job as a dorm mom at a Sonoma boarding school that happens to be her alma mater.

Gillian thought she had everything she ever wanted—as a successful publicist running her own Manhattan firm and working with a high-profile-celebrity clientele, she finally made herself at home among the elite who eluded her throughout her youth. That is, until her career implodes, leaving her jobless, friendless, and with a googleable reputation that follows her everywhere. So, when she receives an offer to become a “dorm mom” at Glen Ellen Academy, the prestigious Sonoma boarding school she attended two decades earlier on scholarship, she leaps at the opportunity for a change of scene—at least until she can figure out how to rehabilitate her career.
But Gillian is surprised to find herself enjoying her new life: her role as a mentor is unexpectedly fulfilling, she finds a community, and most surprisingly of all she runs into an old flame from her own time at school, who is just as dashing now as he was then. However, just as she begins to feel comfortable, a scandal surfaces on campus that threatens to derail everything, and Gillian must figure out how to save her job, her students, her friends, and her new romance before it’s too late.

My Thoughts

Room and Board by Miriam Parker is the perfect cure for insomnia.  I struggled to finish this book. The disgraced publicist becomes a dorm mom at the boarding school she attended for high school.  We are left to wonder how she got this this job for which she is not qualified.  The other dorm moms must do double duty by teaching and chaperoning a building full of students.  Gillian neglects her job from the beginning.  The first night she is too tired to check on her charges and is just shocked when she discovers evidence of partying in the building the next day including the requisite sick teenager from overindulging in alcohol.  This will not be the last time Gillian neglects her duties (dating before duties seems to be Gillian’s motto).  I was surprised when a pampered princess named Bunny (a senior) befriends Gillian.  Bunny and her clique frequently hang out in Gillian’s suite.  The students just love Gillian, and they trust her from the beginning (is anyone buying this).  Gillian pays more attention to her love life than the students she is responsible for.  Gillian’s crush from high school is now the father of Rainbow who happens to live in Gillian’s dorm (what a coincidence).  Here is Gillian’s chance for the man she has been unable to get out of her thoughts for twenty years.   She is willing to overlook what he did back in high school.  

The students are your stereotypical pampered rich kids who expect the best and enjoy torturing the scholarship students.  I believe the author has spent too much time watching Gossip Girl (both versions) and Gilmore Girls.  I can see details from both shows in the book.  I had to roll my eyes at some of the scenes.  When you put out a sign stating that you can ask me anything, what do you expect.  People are going to ask you some ridiculous questions.  Gillian gets annoyed when a child shows up at her door asking for help.  This means taking time away from getting ready for a date or stalking her crush on social media.    The author is detail oriented.  I really did not need to know what Gillian wore down to her shoes or that she spends an hour doing her face care routine (or all the items she used to keep her skin looking youthful).  There are many contradictions in the book.  If the headmaster’s assistant does the accounting for the school, why is there a finance department?  Gillian tells the girls that accepting freebies will make you beholden to others, but readers are told in great detail how the majority of Gillian’s wardrobe is from freebies (clients and from companies).  The dialogue is awkward and unrealistic (the author should have spent some time talking to teenagers).  There were some plot points started in the book that were never revisited while others were left unresolved.  I found the ending to be unrealistic.  Room and Board is one of those books that left me feeling like I had just wasted a few hours of my time.  

Room and Board comes out Tuesday, August 16 and it can be preordered from Amazon*.  You can follow Miriam Parker on Amazon to receive an email when she has a new book releaseRoom and Board was not a good fit for me.  I do suggest that you download a sample so you can judge it for yourself.  I appreciate you stopping by today and reading my book review.  The Challenge by Danielle Steel is on deck for tomorrow.  We are halfway through August which is the hottest month in Florida.  I am eager for fall to arrive.  I am keeping myself busy (while I impatiently wait for fall) planning my outdoor Halloween decorations.  I am hoping to rope in a neighbor or two. I have more ideas than space. I hope that you have a joyful day (joy is good for you).  Take care, stay cool, and Happy Reading!


The Avid Reader 

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

Friday, August 12, 2022

The Magic of Lemon Drop Pie by Rachel Linden

 The Magic of Lemon Drop Pie

Book Summary

An uplifting novel about a heartbroken young pie maker who is granted a magical second chance to live the life she didn’t choose. . . . from the bestselling author of The Enlightenment of Bees.
Lolly Blanchard's life only seems to give her lemons. Ten years ago, after her mother’s tragic death, she broke up with her first love and abandoned her dream of opening a restaurant in order to keep her family’s struggling Seattle diner afloat and care for her younger sister and grieving father. Now, a decade later, she dutifully whips up the diner’s famous lemon meringue pies each morning while still pining for all she's lost.  
As Lolly’s thirty-third birthday approaches, her quirky great-aunt gives her a mysterious gift—three lemon drops, each of which allows her to live a single day in a life that might have been hers. What if her mom hadn’t passed away? What if she had opened her own restaurant in England? What if she hadn’t broken up with the only man she's ever loved? Surprising and empowering, each experience helps Lolly let go of her regrets and realize the key to transforming her life lies not in redoing her past but in having the courage to embrace her present.
My Thoughts

The Magic of Lemon Drop Pie by Rachel Linden has Lolly Blanchard about to turn thirty-three.  Her sister has found an old childhood diary of Lolly’s where she wrote goals she wanted to accomplish.  Lolly notices that she has yet to achieve any of them.  There are three items that really stand out.  Lolly wonders what would have happened if she had made a different choice.  Aunt Gert offers Lolly an opportunity to explore the roads not taken.  Will this help Lolly let go of her regrets?  

The Magic of Lemon Drop Pie is women’s fiction novel with a touch of magic.  I found it to be a slow starter.  It was not until the last third of the book that I became interested.  Lolly seemed immature for her age (32).  She has regrets which is understandable.  Her mother died and Lolly gave up her dreams to help her family. I found it odd, though, that someone who wishes to own a restaurant only makes six lemon meringue pies for the family diner.  I was baffled how she planned to run a restaurant if she does not cook (I know you can hire someone, but it just seems odd).  She has ideas to help the diner which is struggling, but her father is against them.  An enterprising person would have found a way to implement a change or two to see how they went.  If they were successful, Lolly would have ammunition to convince her father.  Another odd item is a diner that opens for breakfast at 8 a.m., but they only serve coffee and pastries from the local bakery.   I just felt there were inconsistencies.  Aunt Gert was an interesting character.  She is a woman who knew what she wanted and worked hard to achieve her goals.  Aunt Gert is an eccentric dresser (keeps things interesting).  The story is told in a unique way.  We have present day, the lemon drop (what if) days, and the past which shows what happened between Lolly and Rory.  It is a confusing format (the past you go back fifteen years, ten years, seven years).  I enjoyed the ending, but it was predictable.  It is easy to surmise how the story will conclude.  The book is heavy on the romance.  Lolly wonders about Rory frequently.  She waxes poetic about his scent and eyes. My favorite line from The Magic of Lemon Drop Pie is, “Trying to change the past is pointless.  We can only change our future by the choices we make today.”  Those readers who like second chance romances will enjoy The Magic of Lemon Drop PieThe Magic of Lemon Drop Pie is a story about ill-chosen choices, flavorsome lemon meringue pie, lemon drop days, a missed mum, a rare restaurant, a second chance romance, and an unfamiliar future.
The Magic of Lemon Drop Pie is available from Amazon*.  You can find Rachel Linden's other novels here.  Thank you for stopping by today and reading my thoughts.    I will return on Monday with Room and Board by Miriam Parker.  I hope that you have a relaxing weekend.  Take care, stay cool, and Happy Reading!


The Avid Reader 

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

Thursday, August 11, 2022

A Killing in Costumes by Zac Bissonnette

 A Killing in Costumes
Book Summary

Jay Allan and Cindy Cooper were soap opera stars in the late ’90s, a wholesome young husband-and-wife duo who combined musical talent with humor and charisma. When the truth about their sexual orientations came to light, their marriage and TV careers ended, but decades later they have remained friends. Together, they open Palm Springs’ chicest movie memorabilia store, Hooray for Hollywood--but no customers and dwindling finances spell trouble.
A Hail Mary arrives in the form of Yana Tosh, a ninety-year-old diva of the silver screen who has amassed a valuable collection of costumes and props and is looking to sell. But first, Jay and Cindy have to beat their competition, a vice president from a mega-auction house with ten times their resources. And when he winds up dead, they become prime suspects in the murder.
With their freedom and livelihoods on the line, Jay and Cindy desperately need to clear their names. There are plenty of other potential suspects, but they'll have to solve it soon before they're forced to trade in their vintage costume collection for two orange jumpsuits.

My Thoughts

A Killing in Costumes by Zac Bissonnette is the debut of A Hollywood Treasures Mysteries.  We meet Jay Allen and Cindy Cooper who own Hooray for Hollywood a movie memorabilia store in Palm Springs.  If their fledgling store does not start making a profit soon, they will have to close the door on their dream.  They receive a call from Yana Tosh, a ninety-year-old diva who performed in numerous horror movies back in the day.  She is going to sell off her extensive costume collection.  Cindy and Jay are competing with the smug Dylan Redman who runs the entertainment memorabilia department at Cypress Auctions.  Dylan contacts Jay and Cindy to request a meeting.  They meet with Dylan in his hotel room at The Parker who offers them a deal if they back off on the Yana Tosh collection.  Later that evening, Detective Simon Fletcher stops by the house to speak with Jay and Cindy.  Dylan was found dead in his room, and they are the last two people know to see him alive.  After a television report listing them as suspects, people begin canceling their appointments with Hooray for Hollywood.  The only way to ensure their freedom and save the store is to find out who killed Dylan.  Do these two ex-soap opera actors have the chops to investigate the crime?
A Killing in Costumes is a light cozy mystery with two gay protagonists.  The point-of-view switches between Jay and Cindy.  I wish the point-of-view had alternated chapters instead of switching randomly (I would have preferred third person).  It was made more challenging with Cindy telling us how Jay felt about Jay’s attraction to the detective (shouldn’t Jay be telling us how he feels) or Jay telling us that Cindy is getting angry.  The characters lacked development.  We are given some basic background information.  I wanted more details that would bring the characters to life.  I did feel that the information we are given on Jay and Cindy does not jive with their age.   We get to learn the ins and out of the movie memorabilia business.  There are numerous descriptions of movie props, posters, and costumes.  All the descriptions slow down the pacing considerably.  The whodunit was straightforward.  We have a dead man, several suspects, and a red herring or two.  It takes one clue to solve the mystery.  The pacing does pick up near the end as Cindy and Jay are discovering the final details they need to solve the crime and have a dramatic reveal.  I got tired of being told that Cindy drove a Jurassic Park Explorer and the horror movie table was mentioned nine times.  As you can tell, A Killing in Costumes was not my type of book.  A Killing in Costumes is a blithe cozy mystery with movie memorabilia, slow sales, a prima donna nonagenarian, a murdered competitor, killer costumes, a lethal envelope, a dispassionate son, a shady assistant, and an iffy financier.  

A Killing in Costumes is available from Amazon*.  You can find Zac Bissonnette's other books here.  I appreciate you joining me today and reading my review.  I will return tomorrow with my thoughts on The Magic of Lemon Drop Pie by Rachel Linden.  I hope that you have a joyful day.  I am off to get some work done around the house.  Take care, stay cool, and Happy Reading!


The Avid Reader 

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

Wednesday, August 10, 2022

The War Librarian by Addison Armstrong

 The War Librarian

Book Summary

The Paris Library meets The Flight Girls in this captivating historical novel about the sacrifice and courage necessary to live a life of honor, inspired by the first female volunteer librarians during World War I and the first women accepted into the U.S. Naval Academy.

Two women. One secret. A truth worth fighting for.

1918. Timid and shy Emmaline Balakin lives more in books than her own life. That is, until an envelope crosses her desk at the Dead Letter Office bearing a name from her past, and Emmaline decides to finally embark on an adventure of her own—as a volunteer librarian on the frontlines in France. But when a romance blooms as she secretly participates in a book club for censored books, Emmaline will need to find more courage within herself than she ever thought possible in order to survive. 
1976. Kathleen Carre is eager to prove to herself and to her nana that she deserves her acceptance into the first coed class at the United States Naval Academy. But not everyone wants female midshipmen at the Academy, and after tragedy strikes close to home, Kathleen becomes a target. To protect herself, Kathleen must learn to trust others even as she discovers a secret that could be her undoing.

My Thoughts

The War Librarian by Addison Armstrong is a dual timeline historical novel featuring courageous women.   We get to meet Emmaline Balakin who went from working in the Dead Letter Office to a librarian in an army camp in France in 1918.  Kathleen Carre is admitted as one of the first women into the United States Naval Academy in 1976.  Each woman will face obstacles as they enter areas dominated and run by men.  I thought the author beautifully wove the two storylines together.  The book contains good writing with realistic characters. I enjoyed getting to know Emmaline, Kathleen, and Nellie (Emmaline’s friend in France).  We get to see what life was like for them.  It was especially difficult for Kathleen who was not wanted by the male cadets or the people who ran the school.  Prejudice, banned books (censorship), secrets, lost love, courage, and bullying are the themes in The War Librarian.   

It was interesting learning about the Library War Service who was responsible for getting books to servicemen training in camps and those overseas.  At first blush, it would seem that the two storylines would be worlds apart.  As the story progresses, we get to see the similarity.   The twist was something I saw coming, but I enjoyed seeing how it played out. I do want to let readers know there is bullying, mild foul language, and an intimate situation.   If you are someone who has been bullied, you might find it hard to read one of the scenes.  I was shocked at what the female recruits were subjected to at the academy.  That they were expected to carry a purse and wear three-inch heels was idiotic.  I understand they are training soldiers, but I do not know how recruits put up with the demanding routine, the yelling, and all the rules (some of them are ridiculous). The War Librarian is an emotional story with a special ending.  The War Librarian is a captivating tale that historical fiction lovers will enjoy. 

The War Librarian is available from Amazon*.  Addison Armstrong has also written The Light of Luna Park.  You can follow Addison Armstrong on Amazon so you can receive an email when she has a new book release.  Thank you for reading my review today.  Next time I am featuring A Killing in Costumes by Zac Bissonnette.  It is the debut of A Hollywood Treasures Mysteries.  I hope that you have a happy day.  Take care, stay cool (it really is the dog days of summer), and Happy Reading!


The Avid Reader 

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

Tuesday, August 9, 2022

A Dark and Stormy Tea by Laura Childs: Review & Giveaway!

 A Dark and Stormy Tea

About A Dark and Stormy Tea


A Dark and Stormy Tea (A Tea Shop Mystery) 

Cozy Mystery 

24th in Series 

Berkley (August 9, 2022) 

Hardcover ‏ : ‎ 320 pages 


A possible serial killer on the loose sends tea maven Theodosia Browning into a whirlwind of investigation in this latest installment of the New York Times bestselling series.

It was a dark and stormy night, but that was the least of Theodosia Browning's troubles. As she approaches St. Philips Graveyard, Theodosia sees two figures locked in a strange embrace. Wiping rain from her eyes, Theodosia realizes she has just witnessed a brutal murder and sees a dark-hooded figure slip away into the fog.

In the throes of alerting police, Theodosia recognizes the victim—it is the daughter of her friend, Lois, who owns the Antiquarian Bookshop next door to her own Indigo Tea Shop.

Even though this appears to be the work of a serial killer who is stalking the back alleys of Charleston, Lois begs Theodosia for help. Against the advice of her boyfriend, Detective Pete Riley, and the sage words of Drayton, her tea sommelier, amateur-sleuth Theodosia launches her own shadow investigation. And quickly discovers that suspects abound with the dead girl’s boyfriend, nefarious real estate developer, private-security man, bumbling reporter, and her own neighbor who is writing a true-crime book and searching for a big ending.


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 that is Charleston.

The Scrapbooking Mysteries – a slightly edgier series that take 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.

Laura’s Links:   WebsiteFacebook

My Thoughts

Theo is taking a shortcut back to the Indigo Tea Shop when stumbles upon the murderer with his latest victim in St. Philips Graveyard.  Unfortunately, this is Fogheel Jack’s, as the press have dubbed him, third victim.  Theo recognizes the victim as the daughter of the Antiquarian Bookshop owner, Lois.  Lois is distraught and asks Theo to find who killed her daughter.  Detective Pete Riley, Theo’s boyfriend, would prefer Theo to keep her curious nose out of this investigation.  Theo dives into the case and discovers several suspects.  Can Theo unmask the deadly killer, or will she become the next victim?

A Dark and Stormy Tea by Laura Childs is the 24th A Tea Shop Mystery. It can be read as a standalone if you are new to the series (though, you will be missing out on a charming cozy mystery series).  A Tea Shop Mysteries is one of the two series that got me hooked on cozy mysteries.  I look forward to reading a new book each year.  I thought A Dark and Stormy Tea is well-written with developed, realistic characters.  I enjoyed the vivid word imagery that brought Charleston alive.  It is rainy and foggy in Charleston which gives it a creepy atmosphere especially at night.  It is the perfect setting for a murder.  It is great to catch up with Theodosia, Drayton, Haley, Miss Dimple, and Earl Grey.  Detective Pete Riley is in the periphery in this book while Detective Tidwell takes lead.  Detective Tidwell manages to stop by the Indigo Tea Shop a couple of times to question Theo, see if she has learned any new details, and enjoy Haley’s delectable food.  The mystery was intriguing.  It suited the creepy atmosphere of Charleston.  There are several good suspects along with a red herring.  There are clues, but they are subtle.  Details are important when trying to solve a crime.  While I was able to identify the killer early in the book (I knew who, but I did not know why), I still enjoyed following the investigation. Both men should know by now that Theo is not going to stay out of a crime.  She is curious by nature and when a friend asks for help, Theo will give it.  I did feel that there needed to be a better wrap up.  I was left with a couple of unanswered questions which is unusual for this author.  I enjoyed the tea events hosted at the Indigo Tea Shop with the mystery tea being my favorite.  The food descriptions will have your mouth watering (recipes at the end of the book).  I cannot wait to see what Theodosia gets up to next time in Lemon Curd KillerA Dark and Stormy Tea is a chilling whodunit with wet weather, a creepy cemetery, a serial killer, tempting tea treats, a determined developer, and an inquisitive Theo.  


As part of the tour, the author is giving away two (2) print copies of A Dark and Stormy Tea (sorry, but US Only).  You can click here to enter or use the Rafflecopter form below.  Leave a comment on my blog for an extra entry.  Good Luck!

A Dark and Stormy Tea is available from AmazonB&NKobo, and IndieBound.  The next A Tea Shop Mystery is Lemon Curd Killer which comes out March 7, 2023.  You can find the other A Tea Shop Mysteries here.  You can find Laura Child's other novels here.  Thank you so much for stopping by today.  Two other books that were published today are The War Librarian by Addison Armstrong (I am featuring tomorrow) and A Killing in Costumes by Zac Bissonnette (debut of A Hollywood Treasures Mystery series).  I hope that you have an interesting day.  Do not forget to enter the giveaway for a chance to win a copy of A Dark and Stormy Tea (US Only).  Take care, stay cool, and Happy Reading!


The Avid Reader 

a Rafflecopter giveaway 

Tour Participants

August 8 – Angel's Guilty Pleasures – SPOTLIGHT 

August 8 – Brooke Blogs – SPOTLIGHT

August 9 – The Avid Reader – REVIEW

August 9 – Christy's Cozy Corners – REVIEW 

August 9 – I'm All About Books – SPOTLIGHT 
August 10 – The Book Diva's Reads – SPOTLIGHT

August 10 – Lady Hawkeye – SPOTLIGHT

August 11 – Valerie's Musings – REVIEW

August 11 – The Book's the Thing – SPOTLIGHT

August 12 – eBook Addicts – SPOTLIGHT
August 12 – Cozy Up With Kathy – REVIEW

August 13 – #BRVL Book Review Virginia Lee Blog – SPOTLIGHT

August 13 – Baroness Book Trove – REVIEW 

August 14 – Maureen's Musings – SPOTLIGHT

August 14 – Sapphyria's Book Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

August 15 – Diane Reviews Books – GUEST POST

August 16 – Celticlady's Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

August 16 – Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book – REVIEW

August 17 – Ruff Drafts – AUTHOR INTERVIEW
August 17 – I Read What You Write – SPOTLIGHT

August 18 – Reading Is My SuperPower – GUEST POST

August 18 – MJB Reviewers – SPOTLIGHT

August 19 – Ascroft, eh? – AUTHOR INTERVIEW

August 20 – Socrates Book Reviews – SPOTLIGHT
August 20 – Books a Plenty Book Reviews – REVIEW

August 21 – StoreyBook Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

August 21 – Girl with Pen – SPOTLIGHT

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