Friday, August 7, 2020

Across the Winding River by Aimie K. Runyan

Across the Winding River by [Aimie K. Runyan]
Book Summary

Across the Winding River by Aimie K. Runyan has Dr. Beth Cohen wanting to spend as much time as possible with her father during his last months in 2007.  He has asked Beth to bring his box of World War II memorabilia and photos from when he was a medic on the front lines in Germany.  Beth finds a photo of her father looking lovingly at a woman who is not her mother.  Beth wonders who is this woman and what she meant to him.  What her father reveals provides Beth with a mission that she needs to complete before it is too late.
A Medic stops for a chat with some fellow soldiers of the 83d Infantry Division. Werdau, Germany. April 1945.
My Thoughts

Across the Winding River by Aimie K. Runyan is a rich historical novel.  Dr. Beth Cohen regrets that she did not spend more time with her mother when she was dying, and she is not going to make that mistake with her father.  His request to look at his old box of World War II mementoes provides Beth with insight into her father and has her on a quest.  The story takes place from 1937 to 2007.  It goes back in forth in time and switches point-of-view from Beth, Max (Beth’s father), and Johanna.  Johanna lost touch with her sister after the war and she has wondered all these years what happened to her.  Johanna would like to get answers for herself and for her children.  We see how the war affected Max and Johanna plus we get answers on Beth’s hunt. It sounds confusing, but it is not.  It is all beautifully woven together into one complete piece.   I like how their stories connected.  We get transported back to World War II where Max is serving as a medic and Johanna is an engineer who designs planes.  Johanna has a brother in the SS and her sister marries a high-ranking SS officer.  Johanna is against everything Hitler stands for and believes in, but she loves her job.  We get a look at life inside Germany during the war.  Across the Winding River is a well-written with a complex plot and developed characters.  The story does play out in an expected manner and the pacing is slow in the beginning.  It is a compelling story, though, that will soon capture and hold your interest.  The last seventy-five percent is the best part of the book.  The pace and tension ramp up.  Everything begins coming together and you get that aha moment.  Across the Winding River is a captivating story about hope, love, loss, and courage. 
Lives Lost: Veteran guarded Nazis during war crimes trial
Across the Winding River is available from Amazon*.  You can read Across the Winding River through Kindle Unlimited.  You can find Aimie K. Runyan's other novels here.  Thank you for taking the time to read my review today.  Tomorrow I am showcasing The Cabinets of Barnaby Mayne by Elsa Hart.  I do hope that you have a thoughtful day.  Take care of yourself, stay safe, and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader
[A to Z] Lust-- Reading

Eugen Spiro (1874-1972), born in Breslau, Silesia as a German Jew, well known in Europe for his portraits of celebrities, and later for his portrait of Albert Einstein, which he painted in 1941 when he and his wife were recent emigres from Berlin and Paris.
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Thursday, August 6, 2020

The Christmas Fair Killer by Amy Patricia Meade

The Christmas Fair Killer
Book Summary

The Christmas Fair Killer by Amy Patricia Meade has Tish Tarragon with a prime location for her Cookin’ the Books Café and Catering booth at the Hobson Glen Holiday Fair.  She is delivering breakfast to the members of the Williamsburg Theater Group with actor, Justin Dange.  When Jenny Inkpen fails to answer their knock, they enter her trailer where Tish finds the young ingenue dead.  Sheriff Clemson Reade is quick to arrive and appreciates Tish’s help with the case.  People open up to Tish and share information that they would not with Sheriff Reade.  Lies, jealousy, and secrets abound among the theater troupe.  Tish whips up culinary delights for the Christmas Fair visitor,  and, in between, she stirs together the clues in the hopes of serving up the killer.
20 Photos to Inspire You to Visit Budapest • The Blonde Abroad
My Thoughts

The Christmas Fair Killer by Amy Patricia Meade is the 3rd A Tish Tarragon Mystery.  It can be read on its own if you have not read Cookin’ the Book or The Garden Club Murder.  Tish Tarragon owns Cookin’ the Books Café and Catering where she serves up culinary themed food.  I had to laugh at the creative names for her dishes.  It is time for the Hobson Glen Holiday Fair with food vendors, craftspeople, and entertainers.  A Christmas Carol and Twelfth Night are being performed each day by the Williamsburg Theater Group.  Tish has agreed to deliver breakfast to theirs trailers each day of the fair.  The first day begins with a bang when Tish finds Jenny Inkpen dead in her trailer.  Tish helps Sheriff Clemson Reade by asking questions.  People have a way of sharing information with Tish which provides Sheriff Reade with helpful intel.  The mystery had multiple suspects in the death of the ingenue. There are red herrings and good clues.  I am amazed at the secrets that come to light.  I thought the murder weapon was unique as well as a couple other aspects of the crime.  I found Identifying the killer, though, to be a snap while others have found it challenging.  I believe it depends on the number of mysteries you have read.  The whodunit does involve a sensitive subject that is normally not broached in cozy mysteries.  Each food dish is described in detail along with the outfits people wore.  I did feel it was a little too much detail especially in the first chapter (where each dish Tish created for the Christmas Fair was described) which slowed down the beginning of the story.  I was surprised and disappointed by what happened at the end. I hope this development is not permanent. The author captured the Christmas feeling with the cold weather, the fair, decorations, and the food.  Christmas Fair Killer has developed characters who are good friends and have become a family.  I like that they support each other and are there in times of need.  The Christmas Fair Killer is an entertaining cozy mystery with fair fun, anxious actors, earsplitting explosives, captivating cuisine, cozy cocoa, and Christmas cheer.
Dresden Christmas Market (Germany’s oldest) - TOP 10 Christmas Markets in Germany - It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas! The enchanting smells of roasted almonds and chestnuts, mulled wine and rum punch fill the air. Hot chocolate, potato pancakes and candied apples. Wooden Christmas ornaments and crystal angels. It’s all there. Everything’s decorated for Christmas with greens and lights and invites you to enjoy traditional Christmas in all shapes, sizes and tastes.
The Christmas Fair Killer is available from Amazon* along with the other two novels in A Tish Tarragon Mystery series which are Cookin' the Books and The Garden Club Murder.  You can find more books by Amy Patricia Meade here.  I appreciate you dropping by today.  I will be back tomorrow with Across the Winding River by Aimie K. Runyan.  I do hope that you have a day filled with laughter.  Take care, stay safe, and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader
Woman Reading Book by Christmas Tree #Reading, #Woman, #Book, #Tree
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Wednesday, August 5, 2020

Piecing It All Together by Leslie Gould

Piecing It All Together (Plain Patterns Book #1) by [Leslie Gould]
Happy Wednesday!  Mums and Mayhem by Amanda Flower releases on August 11.  It is the 3rd A Magic Garden MysteryPeachy Scream by Anna Gerard is also out on August 11.  It is the 2nd novel in A Georgia B&B Mystery seriesMaster of Illusion by Nupur Tustin is now out.  It is the beginning of A Celine Skye Psychic Mystery series.  
More than quilting going on here!
Book Summary

Piecing It All Together by Leslie Gould has Savannah Mast off to enjoy Christmas Eve with her fiancé, Ryan when she gets a text saying there has been a change in plans.  The next day, Savannah finally gets Ryan on the phone and is shocked when he cancels their wedding.  Savannah decides a change is in order and heads to her grandmother’s farm in Nappanee, Indiana.  On New Year’s Eve, Savannah finds herself delivering a baby when her cousin, the local midwife, is ill with the flu.  Her patient’s oldest daughter disappears that evening.  Savannah is worried about the teenager and the attitude of the deputy sheriff investigating the case. He seems intent on fingering Savannah’s childhood friend, Tommy Miller.  Savannah accompanies her mother to the weekly quilting circle meeting at Jane Berger’s quilt shop, Plain Patterns.  Jane is a local historian who shares the story of a woman who disappeared in the 1800s.  The story motivates Savannah into finding the missing teen and proving Tommy’s innocence.
Alma Sues  3667 Bahia Vista Street  Sarasota, Florida  34232  (941) 330-0993
My Thoughts

Piecing It All Together by Leslie Gould is the beginning of the Plain Patterns series.  I thought Piecing It All Together was well-written with developed characters in a picturesque setting.  Savannah Mast is at crossroads when her fiancé calls off the wedding a week before the big day.  It inspires her to make a change and go back to the place she loved growing up which was her grandmother’s house. Her mammi, Dorothy Mast, welcomes her and introduces her to the quilting circle at Plain Patterns owned by Jane Berger.  Besides running the quilting shop, Jane writes a column for the Nappanee News and is a local historian.  Jane knows that God will send someone to her who will need one of her historical tales.   When Savannah gets involved in the disappearance of local teen, Jane begins telling her a story that echoes what is happening.  I soon found myself engrossed in this novel and did not want to put it down.  I like how the two stories (Savannah and Emma) worked together. I enjoyed both women’s stories.   Piecing It All Together is a story about friendship, family, faith, and love.  It was interesting learning about midwifery. I loved the descriptions of the Home and Hearth quilt the ladies created for someone special.  I like how all the loose ends were wrapped up with a satisfying ending.  I look forward to reading A Patchwork Past when is comes out in the spring.  Piecing It All Together is a charming story with an unfeeling fiancé, an AWOL adolescent, a determined deputy, a quilt quandary, an emergency midwife, and ancestral anecdotes.  
.Reminds me of Grandma's quilting friendships
Piecing It All Together is available from Amazon*.  The next book in the Plain Patterns series is A Patchwork Past which comes out March 30, 2021.  You can find Leslie Gould's other novels here.  Thank you for joining me today.  Tomorrow I am talking about A Christmas Fair Killer by Amy Patricia Meade.  It is the 3rd book in A Tish Tarragon Mystery series.  I hope that you have a congenial day.  Take care, stay safe, and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader
La lectrice du peintre allemand Emil Holzhauer
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Tuesday, August 4, 2020

The Mockingbird's Song by Wanda E. Brunstetter

The Mockingbird's Song (Amish Greenhouse Mystery #2)
Holmes County, Ohio, Baskets & Blooms small business run by the Amish.
Book Summary

The Mockingbird’s Song by Wanda E. Brunstetter has Sylvia Beiler grieving the loss of her husband, brother, and father on Christmas Day.  To make matters worse, Monroe Esh dropped by and stayed the rest of the day.  Sylvia and her siblings can tell that Monroe is interested in their mother.  They hope that she does not return his affections.  One day in early spring, Sylvia notices a grey mockingbird in a tree.  She decides to go birdwatching with Henry to help occupy her time, and they come upon Dennis Weaver who has just moved to town.  He is looking to rent a property for his horse training business and Sylvia offers to let him look at her home.  Belinda, Sylvia’s mother, is surprised by Sylvia’s rash offer, but she cannot dissuade her daughter.  As spring progresses and Sylvia sheds the black of mourning, Sylvia and Dennis begin spending time together. Unfortunately, Belinda does not approve of Dennis which has Sylvia doubting her blossoming feelings.  Belinda is on edge because the threats that she thought were behind them started when they reopened the greenhouse in March.  How far is someone willing to go to get to scare off the King family?
In this July 13, 2011, photo, Amish children help out with chores in a greenhouse in Centerville, N.Y.
My Thoughts

The Mockingbird’s Song by Wanda E. Brunstetter is the 2nd Amish Greenhouse Mystery. It can be read on its own for those who have not read The Crow’s Call.  I thought the story was well-written with developed characters.  Sylvia Beiler misses her husband.  She is depressed and angry at God.  She worries about her children and does not like to be separated from them for any length of time.  Henry is also angry and rebellious.  When he is not busy with chores, Henry likes to read magazines and books on birds.  Amy Beiler is planning her wedding to Jared next fall.  She cannot wait to become a wife.  Belinda Beiler misses her husband whom she loved dearly.  Instead of dealing with her feelings, she keeps herself busy with work, her grandchildren, and worrying about her family.  The Mockingbird’s Song is a story about dealing with overwhelming grief, the various threats to the family and their livelihood, birdwatching, hope, and love.  Sylvia and Henry have lost faith in God.  They do not understand why He did not save their family members.  The mystery is not the focus of the book.  It is something that is happening, but it is not investigated.  The threats are escalating making the situation dangerous.  Virginia Martin and her husband, Earl live across from the King family.  Virginia dislikes living in the country and especially from the noisy and smelly greenhouse (her words).  She spends most of her day watching her neighbors (reminds me of my Grandma Anderson).  Loneliness and the actions of the woman’s first husband have shaped Virginia.  I am curious to see how Virginia’s story will turn out.  The Mockingbird’s Song is an inspiring story of faith, family, friendship, healing, and love.  I am curious to find out what happens next with the King family and their greenhouse.  
Home Shalom: Amish Pest Control - for "all bugs" #domyownpestcontrol
The Mockingbird's Song is available from Amazon* as well as The Crow's Call.  Wanda E. Brunstetter has Amish Friends Farmhouse Favorites Cookbook with over 200 recipes for simple and hearty meals.  I appreciate you reading my review today.  I am sharing my thoughts on Piecing It All Together by Leslie Gould tomorrow.  It is the beginning of Plain Patterns series.  I hope that you have a joyful day.  Take care, stay safe, and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader
Woman Reading in a Garden by Georges d'Espagnat
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Monday, August 3, 2020

Peace in the Valley by Kelly Irvin

Peace in the Valley (Amish of Big Sky Country #3)
About the Book

Peace in the Valley by Kelly Irvin has a forest fire heading for the homes in West Kootenai, Montana.  Nora Beachy and her family are forced to evacuate along with the other residents including Levi Raber, Nora’s beau, and his extended family. The smoke is bad for her youngest niece who was born with underdeveloped lungs.  It is decided to send Nora along with her sister and her family to live with their grandparents in Libby.  The Amish in Libby have embraced a different type of worship which is not approved of by Nora’s parents nor their church elders.  Nora finds her relatives wearing a variety of clothing from traditional Amish dress to English clothes.  Their services are held in a church with live music.  After Nora attends her first service with the Eagle Valley Amish, she understands their choice.  Nora would like a closer relationship with Jesus and to understand the scriptures.  She begins to question the Amish church and its practices.  When Levi is sent to bring her home, Nora will have to decide which life suits her best.  
Montana's Wildfire Smoke Affects Climate and Health - Moms Clean Air Force
My Thoughts

Peace in the Valley by Kelly Irvin the final novel in Amish of Big Sky Country series.  We return to West Kootenai, Montana where fires are decimating the West Kootenai National Forest.  The people in the town built their homes close to the mountains and always knew that this could happen.  Nora Beachy’s family evacuates to nearby Rexford where the smoke is still present in the air.  Sadie, the youngest child of Nora’s sister, was born early with underdeveloped lungs and the smoke is bad for her.  It is decided to send Jeannie (Nora’s sister) along with her husband and children to their grandparents’ home in Libby with Nora to assist (poor Jeannie is just worn out with three kids under five).  Nora’s parents, though, are worried about the Eagle Valley Amish influencing Nora with their different way of worshipping and their more worldly choices.  Nora is twenty years old and a baptized member of the community.  She is looking forward to marrying her beau, Levi Raber when they have saved enough to purchase the home they have their eyes on.  Peace in the Valley is a story about temptation, judging others, trust, family, and faith.  I thought the story was well-written and it can be read as a standalone.  We see Nora seeing a different way of life and worship.  The Amish in Libby have more freedoms.  They can dress differently, play musical instruments, and drive cars.  Nora finds her faith and beliefs challenged from the moment she arrives.  Temptation can be hard to resist especially when it is things you have always wanted to do.  She wonders what is so wrong about playing an instrument or studying the Bible.  I find that the story followed an expected path and there is repetition of the same details.  It is a story laden with scripture quotes and talk about faith.   I could understand why Nora struggled especially with regard to Levi.   I do know that I would make a lousy Amish wife because I could not “bow to my husband’s wishes”.   My favorite line is, “God has a plan for us.”  I liked the epilogue that wrapped up the series.   
Why I Fell In Love with the Amish. As I considered writing an Amish novel a friend offered to take me up to the small Amish community in West Kootenai, Montana. She’d grown up there and was friends with many of the Amish families. I jumped at the chance.
Amish in West Kootenai, Montana
Peace in the Valley releases on Tuesday, August 4 and is available from Amazon*.  The other two novels in Amish of Big Sky Country series are Mountains of Grace and A Long Bridge Home.  You can find Kelly Irvin's other novels here.  Thank you for joining me today.  I will return tomorrow with The Mockingbird's Song by Wanda E. Brunstetter.  It is the 2nd book in Amish Greenhouse Mystery series.  I hope that you have a tranquil day.  Take care, stay safe, and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader
Stock Photo : Young woman reading a book by the lake
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Sunday, August 2, 2020

The Last of the Moon Girls by Barbara Davis

The Last of the Moon Girls
Happy Sunday!  I hope you are having a pleasant weekend.  Here are some of the books that will be published on August 4:  Piecing It All Together by Leslie Gould, A Life Once Dreamed by Rachel Fordham, The Cabinets of Barnaby Mayne by Elsa Hart, and Peace in the Valley by Kelly Irvin.  I will be sharing my thoughts on all of these books this month.  Which one do you wish to read first?
Lavender Herb Farm in Okanagan Valley
Herb Farm
Book Summary 

The Last of the Moon Girls by Barbara Davis has Lizzy Moon learning that her grandmother, Althea has passed leaving Moon Girl Farm to her.  Lizzy left the family farm eight years ago after two teenage girls were murdered, and their bodies found in the pond on their property.  Althea was never charged, but the gossip did its damage.  Lizzy returns to the farm to obtain the family journals and put the farm up for sale.  She was unprepared for the emotions and memories that come rushing back or the condition of the farm.  Lizzy finds a journal that Althea left for her titled A Book of Remembrance which is meant to help her remember the good times as well as assist her with her gift.  Andrew Greyson, their neighbor, arrives to fulfill a promise he made to Althea.  He has been in love with Lizzy since they were children.  Andrew never doubted Althea’s innocence in the girl’s deaths.  Lizzy realizes there is only one way that she can move forward and that is to clear Althea’s name.  She sets out to discover who murdered the teenage girls eight years ago.  Someone is not happy with Lizzy resurrecting the case and delivers forbidding messages.  Can Lizzy clear Althea’s name and embrace her legacy?
Drying flowers from the Natural Bridges Farm
Drying racks for herbs
My Thoughts 

The Last of the Moon Girls by Barbara Davis is not quite what I expected from the description.  Moon Girl Farm has been in the Moon family since Sabine Moon purchased the property in 1786.  It has passed from mother to daughter through the generations and now Lizzy Moon, as far as she knows, is the last Moon girl.  Lizzy left the farm eight years after a scandal rocked Salem Creek, New Hampshire and the Moon family.  Two teenage sisters did not make it home one night.  After the sheriff’s department received an anonymous tip, they dragged the lake on the farm and found the girls who had been missing three weeks.  People believed Althea Moon, Lizzy’s grandmother, killed the girls despite the lack of evidence.  Lizzy is notified that Althea has died leaving the farm to her.  Lizzy comes home to sell the farm and collect the family journals.  After reading a special journal Althea left for Lizzy, she sets out to learn what really happened to the teens.  Lizzy was a conundrum.  She went eight years without visiting her elderly grandmother who raised her.  All her life all Lizzy wanted was to be normal (highly overrated).  Lizzy has wanted nothing to do with the farm or the scandal (as we are repeatedly told).  But then she doggedly pursues the truth.  I did enjoy the magic, the information about herbs and perfume, and Lizzy’s soapmaking.  I was disappointed that the romance was so prominent.  I wish it had taken a backseat to the mystery and magic.   Andrew Greyson, Lizzy’s love interest, had cared for Lizzy since they were kids. He was always there when she needed assistance.  They are now both back in town and Andrew is working to fix the greenhouse.  I did not like Andrew rescuing Lizzy because I would have preferred Lizzy saving herself. My favorite character was Evvie Broussard, the keeper of bees and jewelry maker.  I thought the story was predictable and it moved along slowly.  You can foresee how the story will play out after the first few chapters.  There were various storylines all happening at the same time which muddled this book.  Lizzy, the farm, the magic, and finding herself would have been enough.   The epilogue wrapped up the book with a bow.  The Last of the Moon Girls is a good escape novel.  Some changes would have taken this book to the next level and made it great.  
Aftelier Perfumes - perfume organ-Mandy Aftel Is A Natural Perfumer We Love
Creating Perfume
The Last of the Moon Girls is available from Amazon*.  You can find other novels by Barbara Davis here.  I appreciate you reading my review today. I did want to mention that I know information is the My Thoughts portion repeats parts of the Book Summary.  The summary I write only appears here on my blog while my review appears everywhere else.  Tomorrow I am featuring Peace in the Valley by Kelly Irvin.  It is the third (and final) novel in Amish of Big Sky Country.  I hope that you have a carefree day.  Take care, stay safe, and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader
Reading outside under the apple tree
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Saturday, August 1, 2020

Ghost Ups Her Game by Carolyn Hart

Ghost Ups Her Game (A Bailey Ruth Ghost Novel Book 9) by [Carolyn Hart]
Welcome!  It is the first day of August which means the hottest days of the summer are ahead of us in Florida.  The perfect time to stay inside with a cool drink and an ereader full of books.  The Last of the Moon Girls by Barbara Davis is out today along with Across the Winding River by Aimee K. Runyan, and Trust No One by Debra WebbCastelmezzano, The Witch is Dead by Adriana Licio is now out.  It is the prequel to the author's new Italian cozy mystery series, The Homeswappers.  What is next on your TBR list?
The Glory Train - PLAY - The Train - Wattpad
Ghost Ups Her Game by Carolyn Hart has Bailey Ruth Raeburn heading back to Adelaide, Oklahoma when an urgent call comes through the Heaven’s Department of Good Intentions.  She quickly hops aboard the Rescue Express with Wiggins calling out that this case is “Irregular.  Problematic.  Out of the Ordinary.” He issues a final warning about following the Precepts.  Bailey Ruth arrives to find Matt Lambert, Vice President of Outreach at Goddard College, dead on the floor with Professor Iris Gallagher standing near the victim with the murder weapon in her hand.  Newly minted attorney, Robert Blair also in the room.  Bailey Ruth quickly starts searching for clues.  She knows Police Chief Sam Cobb will soon have Iris at the top of his suspect list.  The clues are few, but it turns out that there are several people who were not happy with the victim.  Unfortunately, the evidence is stacked against Iris who soon finds herself behind bars.  Bailey Ruth needs to save Iris before the local prison becomes Iris’ permanent home and Bailey Ruth finds herself out of a job.  

Crime Scene Cleaning :: Crime-scene-cleanup-seattle
Ghost Ups Her Game by Carolyn Hart is the 9th A Bailey Ruth Ghost Novel.  Bailey Ruth Raeburn is a delightful character.  Bailey Ruth is a woman who loves her heavenly job as well as fashionable clothes.  When an urgent call from Adelaide arrives at the Department of Good Intentions, Bailey Ruth knows the assignment is for her.  I always enjoy the Bailey Ruth novels because they have humor, mystery, and a fashionable female sleuth from Heaven.  I thought Ghost Ups Her Game was well-written with steady pacing.  I do not believe this would make a good standalone book because some key details are missing for new readers.  I suggest beginning with Ghost at Work.  The mystery was fun to solve.  I can always count on Bailey Ruth to diligently search for clues and question witnesses.  I like that she keeps Sam Cobb, the Adelaide Chief of Police, up to date.  They get along for the most part.  It is great how they bounce ideas off each other when they are not eating unhealthy food.  The mystery is not hard to solve, but that did not diminish my reading pleasure.  Ghost Ups Her Game is one of those books that you just sit back, start reading, and enjoy the ride.  My favorite line from Ghost Ups Her Game comes from Bailey Ruth when she says, “A ghost must do what a ghost must do.”  The only thing I dislike about the book is the descriptions of every outfit.  I do not need to know what each and every one of Bailey Ruth’s outfits look like especially since she changes so often.  I look forward to Bailey Ruth’s next adventure.  Ghost Ups Her Game is an entertaining tale with a mystifying murder, a curious clue, a weighty weapon, a careful cop, a pushy politician, and a heavenly emissary riding the rails to the rescue.  
Kate's jb murder board
Bailey Ruth standing in front of murder board
Ghost Ups Her Game is available from major booksellers including Amazon*.  You can find the other eight A Bailey Ruth Mystery series here.  Thank you for visiting today.  I will be back next time with The Last of the Moon Girls by Barbara Davis.  I do hope that you have a heavenly day.  Take care, stay safe, and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader
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Friday, July 31, 2020

The Orphan Twins by Lesley Eames: Review & Excerpt

The Orphan Twins
About the Book

London, 1910. Lily is ten years old when she realizes her grandmother, a washerwoman in the backstreets of London's Bermondsey, is seriously ill. She's determined to do what can she can to help and keep her grandmother's illness a secret – even from her beloved twin, Artie. But Gran isn't getting any better, and there's only so much Lily can do...
When tragedy strikes and the twins are faced with the prospect of a workhouse or an orphanage, a benefactor offers to take Artie in and educate him. All Artie's needs will be taken care of – but the gentleman has no use for a girl. The twins have lost everything they knew and loved, but they never thought they'd lose each other.
As the orphan twins grow up and take different paths, their new lives are beyond anything they could have imagined. Will they ever find a way to be together again?
Southwark Park Road, Bermondsey, Southwark, c.1910 | London Borough of Southwark | Ideal Homes
Southwark Park Road, Bermondsey 1910

About the Author
Lesley Eames was born in Manchester but currently living in Hertfordshire, Lesley’s career has included law and charity fundraising. She is now devoting her time to her own writing and to teaching creative writing to others. In addition to selling almost 90 short stories to the women’s magazine market, Lesley has won the Festival of Romance’s New Talent Award and the Romantic Novelists’ Associations Elizabeth Goudge Cup.
Poplar workhouse dining hall, c.1903 and link to workhouse recipes // Meet your privileged relatives, kids ...
Workhouse Dining Hall
Author Links

Twitter: @LesleyEames

Carl Duwe outside his baker and confectioner's shop on Burton Rd, West Didsbury, 1908
Bakery & Confectionery 1908
My Thoughts

The Orphan Twins by Lesley Eames is an engaging historical novel.   Lily Tomkins and her twin brother, Artie live with their Gran on Jessey Street in Bermondsey in 1910.  Lily is just ten years old when she notices that Gran is unwell.  Gran passes within a year leaving the twins with just each other.  Artie is fortunate to have found a benefactor in Mr. Crispin Alderton.  He agrees to take in Artie and provide him with an excellent education which will allow him to obtain a good position later.  Lily is sent to Booth’s Cottage Schools in Sevenoaks where she will train for life as a domestic.  The twins will need to work hard to get ahead and fight to keep in touch with each other.  I thought The Orphan Twins was well-written and it moved along at a good pace.  The characters are developed, and I enjoyed following the twins’ journey.  We get to see how differently boys and girls were treated.  The Orphan Twins is told from Lily’s point-of-view.  Lily Tomkins is smart, and she knows that she wants more out of her life.  Artie is given a great opportunity (one Lily would have loved) and Lily encourages Artie to accept it.  The education of a boy was considered a higher priority than that of a female.  We get to see the differences in the twins’ lifestyle.  I thought the author captured the time-period with the clothing, books, attitudes, and historical events.  There are great descriptions of London and the scenic places the characters visited.  Lesley Eames brought the setting to life with her vivid word imagery.  The Orphan Twins is an emotional novel about love, family, trust, friends, and hope.  We get to see good times and the bad (make sure to have tissues handy).  The ending was just lovely.  My favorite phrases from The Orphan Twins is, “It isn’t how much money a person has that matters.  It’s what’s in their hearts.”  The Orphan Twins is a captivating historical novel with a raging war, fine friends, tons of tea, romantic despairs, ingenious ideas, and steadfast siblings.

‘How much would this errand cost?’ Mr Higgins asked, when Lily took his washing round and announced that she was running errands for people.

‘Just a halfpenny,’ Lily told him. None of their neighbours were rich so she knew she was unlikely to get any business if she asked for more. ‘I can fetch things like cigarettes and milk or shoes from the cobbler. Or I can post letters. You know you can trust me. I’m Maggie Tomkins’s granddaughter, after all.’

‘Hmm.’ He gave her a long look as she stood before his chair, hands clasped behind her back. ‘All right. You can fetch me ten Woodbines from Welby’s. Be quick about it or I might think you’ve gone off with my money.’
Wild Woodbine Cigarettes
He gave her two shillings. Lily raced to the corner shop, bought the cigarettes and raced back to hand them to Mr Higgins along with his change which he counted carefully. ‘You haven’t taken your halfpenny,’ he pointed out.

‘I thought I should wait for you to give it to me.’  He pushed a halfpenny across the table and Lily picked it up. ‘Thanks. Maybe I’ll call tomorrow and see if you have any more errands for me.’
Half Penny coin - what was the point??!!!!
A half penny coin
‘I’m not promising I’ll have any.’

‘I can ask, though, can’t I?’

‘I suppose you can. Knock on the window and I’ll beckon you in if I need you.’

Lily took the halfpenny home and wrapped it in an old sock. By the end of the first week she had seven halfpennies in there – three from Mr Higgins, two from his neighbour, Mrs Platt, and two from Mr Wright across the road.

Gran seemed no worse but neither did she seem any better. She was eating little and looked terribly tired in unguarded moments. She also looked deeply relieved for all the help Lily was giving but she fired up one afternoon when she and Lily were alone and Lily asked, ‘Feeling all right, Gran?’ ‘’Course I am!’ Gran insisted.
Rustin’s shoreditch
Lily regretted asking the question because Gran got up and busied herself instead of resting for a moment over a cup of tea. Lily was sure Gran still wasn’t back to her old self, but some illnesses took a while to pass and Lily hoped Gran’s was one of them.

Even so, she made it known to her customers that she was available for errand-running in the mornings too. It meant getting up very early to fill the copper and set it to boil, put washing in the dolly tub or the old tin bath to soak, mix starch, scrub grubby collars and cuffs, and eat breakfast too, moving quickly while trying to look as though she wasn’t rushing at all.
Philip Mernick’s East London Shopfronts | Spitalfields Life

She encouraged Artie to leave for school sooner than was really needed by suggesting he’d like to play with his pals then, as soon as he’d joined them, she’d say, ‘Don’t be late,’ and hasten away as though going to see her own friends, Gertie and Ruth. In reality she’d race off to get her errands done before running back to school in time for the starting bell.

By the end of the second week the money in the sock totalled eightpence. By the end of the third week there was a shilling and thruppence.

Gran still wasn’t better. No matter how hard she was trying to hide it, the signs were there. Less washing was coming in and yet Gran was behind with it. There were occasional creases in ironing that used to be perfect, little food in the house and Gran herself seemed… smaller somehow. Not the vigorous Maggie Tomkins of old.
22 Borough High Street: rear elevation 
For all that she was trying to leave Gran her pride, Lily couldn’t help speaking out again when she caught Gran’s worn hands rubbing her middle as though trying to soothe pain. ‘I wish you’d tell me if you have a belly ache.’  ‘Only a bit of wind, Lil.’

It was more serious than wind. Lily was certain now. She wished she knew how much it would cost for Gran to see a doctor, but asking any of their neighbours would arouse their suspicions about why she wanted to know and word might get back to Gran. Perhaps when Lily had three shillings in the sock she’d speak to Gran about seeing someone.
Taking over a London bus in the Armistice day celebrations, 1918
Armistice Day in London 1918
The Orphan Twins is available from Amazon, Kobo, iBooks, and Google Play.   The Orphan Twins is available through Kindle Unlimited (can learn more about the program here).  If you like The Orphan Twins, check out Lesley Ames' other novels here.  Thank you for joining me today.  I will be back tomorrow Ghost Ups Her Game by Carolyn Hart.  It is the 9th A Bailey Ruth Ghost Novel.  I do hope that you have a positive day.  Take care, stay safe, and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader

Be Kinder than You Think Your Students Need
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Thursday, July 30, 2020

Witches and Wedding Cake by Bailey Cates

Witches and Wedding Cake (A Magical Bakery Mystery #9)
Good Day! I want to share some upcoming book releases with you. The Mockingbird's Song by Wanda E. Brunstetter is out on August 1.  It is the second novel in Amish Greenhouse Mystery series.  A free preview is available from Amazon by clicking hereAdriana Licio has created a new cozy mystery series called The Homeswappers.  It begins with a prequel titled Castelmezzano:  The Witch is Dead which comes out July 30.  The Cabinets of Barnaby Mayne by Elsa Hart publishes on August 4.  You can never have too many books!
Crime Scene Do Not Cross Chalk Stock Vector (Royalty Free) 453970798
Witches and Wedding Cake by Bailey Cates has Katie Lightfoot completing the final details of her wedding which will take place within a week.  It has been a whirlwind three months since Declan proposed.  Declan’s mother and two of his sisters arrived in town early to revisit old haunts.  Unfortunately, Rori McCarthy’s ex-husband has tracked her down.  Katie gets a late-night call from Declan.  Rori visited her ex-hubby at his seedy motel and found him dead on the floor of his room.  Detective Peter Quinn has Rori at the top of his suspect list especially since she made a threat against him hours before his demise.  Rori asks Katie to investigate.  She wants closure as well as off the suspect list.  In between working at the bakery, moving into the newly renovated carriage house, and last-minute wedding details, Katie, with help from the ladies of the spellbook club, begins asking questions.  It turns out that Tucker Abbott, Rori’s ex-husband, was a con man who left unhappy people in his wake.  Katie will need to work quickly if she is going to solve this case before she walks down the aisle.  
9 Brilliant Alternates to a Wedding Cakes | City of Creative Dreams  wedding cake alternatives cheap, wedding cake alternatives unique, wedding cake alternatives dessert table, wedding cake alternatives ideas
Witches and Wedding Cake by Bailey Cates is the 9th A Magical Bakery Mystery.  I have been reading this spirited series from the very first beginning.  Witches and Wedding Cake can be read as a standalone, but I recommend reading this series in order.  It will allow you to follow Katie on her journey from discovering she is a kitchen witch, moving to Savannah, solving mysteries, and falling in love with Declan McCarthy.  Katie has had a busy two and half years.  I thought Witches and Wedding Cake was well-written with developed characters.  The author captures the beauty of Savannah, Georgia with her word imagery.  Katie Lightfoot is the perfect protagonist for this series.   She is friendly, smart, creative, and relatable.  There is a great cast of characters from Lucy, Ben, and Declan to the ladies of the spellbook club.  I just love Mungo, Katie’s familiar with his adorable “yip”.  The mystery was fun to solve.  There are multiple suspects that slowly get whittled down.  One little detail can provide the solution.  Katie has a full plate in this book, but she found time to help Declan.  Connor, the spirit who had attached himself to Declan, is missing.  Declan misses the Irish spirit.  I look forward to seeing how they find him. The special part of this book is Katie and Declan’s wedding.  Katie must deal with an interfering soon-to-be sister-in-law and a lack of an officiant.  I enjoyed reading Witches and Wedding Cake.  It is one of those books that puts a smile on your face.  Witches and Wedding Cake is an enchanting cozy mystery with a twitchy troglodyte, distinct dragonflies, a cupcake wedding cake, a mystifying music box, a stray spirit, and a magical marriage ceremony.
Fairytales Come To Life At This Whimsical Wedding #bohowedding
Witches and Wedding Cake can be obtained from Amazon* along with the other eight books in A Magical Bakery Mystery series.  I hope you enjoy this enchanting cozy mystery.  I appreciate you reading my review today.  Tomorrow I am sharing The Orphan Twins by Lesley Eames. I hope that you have a magical day.  Take care of yourself, stay safe, and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader
tiny paints
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