Thursday, July 11, 2024

Murder on Devil's Pond by Ayla Rose

Murder on Devil's Pond

Book Summary

A quaint Vermont inn offers idyllic peace–until a body is found  on the property–in this charming series debut, perfect for fans of Ellen Byron and Ellery Adams.

When thirty-three-year-old Hannah Solace returns to her hometown to renovate and reopen the inn she co-owns with her sister Reggie, her mission is to give the old Victorian hotel an entirely new life. She’s even planting pollinator gardens around the inn–native flowers and fruit trees to lure honeybees and houseguests alike. 
Hannah’s fresh start is stymied by Reggie’s continual interference, unreliable contractors, a check-the-couch-for-coins budget, and townspeople Hannah left behind fifteen years ago. Her main source of camaraderie is Ezra Grayson, an eighty-year-old recluse who lives nearby. After an unsettling conversation with a disgruntled Ezra, Hannah is horrified to discover him dead on her property later that day. 

Ezra had always had plenty of people to complain about, especially locals trying to force him out of his property for its prime real estate. As buzz around town grows after his death, Hannah finds herself on the short list of suspects. Hannah starts digging and quickly discovers that secrets lurk beneath the charming surface of the town she once again calls home.

My Thoughts

Murder on Devil’s Pond by Ayla Rose is the debut of A Hummingbird Hollow B&B Mysteries.  This story does not fit into the cozy mystery mold.  There is a small town (Jasper, Vermont) with a variety of shops and residents.  The first chapter is like an information dump as we are told about various people and what they do or the shop they own (I heard the term, “just the facts, ma’am” going through my head).  Hannah Solace discovering the dead body of Ezra Grayson happens in the second chapter.  The descriptions are too gruesome for a cozy mystery.  Some elements of the whodunit are unbelievable.  There is no way a small town can get DNA results within twenty-four hours (unless you are on an hour-long television show).  Hannah was focused on getting answers (mostly about a matter relating to the murder).  

Noah, the local police officer, would pop up at convenient times to share details with Hannah (he was Johnny on the spot).  The reveal was lacking in detail (which was odd considering all the specifics in the rest of the book).  I found the story to be filled with unfriendly characters who were not fleshed out.  Everyone seems stern or unhappy.  Even Reggie’s daughter, Peach is not a happy go lucky kid (and I do not blame Peach for not wanting to eat the food presented at mealtimes).  The best characters in the story are Turnip, Hannah’s cat, and Moose, Ezra’s dog (loved Moose).  I did not appreciate the foul language (even the preacher used it).  The bed and breakfast seemed like an afterthought.  The rooms are not cleaned on a daily basis, the sheets are not changed daily (yuck), nor are the towels restocked daily (I hope she is not expecting rave reviews online).  I did not understand how a guest could stiff Hannah on the bill (she has keycards, but she did not get their credit card when they checked in).  I know I ran a little long (okay, more than a little), but Murder on Devil’s Pond was not a pleasant reading experience for me.  

Murder on Devil's Pond is available from Amazon*. Finding You by Amy Clipston also came out this week.   Thank you for stopping by today.  I will return on Tuesday, July 16 with Matters of the Heart by Kelly Irvin.  It is the second An Amish Calling NovelAmazon Prime Days are next week on July 16 and 17.  My mother's birthday is on July 16th as well.  She will be seventy-nine years old this year.  I hope that you have a delightful weekend. My bike is fixed (the back chain was broken), so I will be able to ride around the village with Dickens (I have two cats, Dickens and Bucky--they are sisters who turned fourteen this year).  Dickens loves to get out and meet people (she loves people to fuss over her).  Bucky is my shy cat and prefers to stay at home (she hides when guests come over).   Take care, stay cool, and Happy Reading!


Kris

The Avid Reader

*I voluntarily read an advanced copy of this book.  I am not required to leave a review.  The comments and opinions expressed are strictly my own.

This post contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase using my links, I will receive a small commission from the sale at no cost to you.  Thank you for supporting The Avid Reader.  

Wednesday, July 10, 2024

The Burning by Linda Castillo

The Burning 
Book Summary

Chief of Police Kate Burkholder investigates a gruesome murder that reveals a little-known chapter of early Amish history in this next riveting installment of the bestselling series by Linda Castillo.

Newlywed Chief of Police Kate Burkholder is awakened by an urgent midnight call summoning her to a suspicious fire in the woods. When she arrives at the scene, she discovers a charred body. According to the coroner, the deceased, an Amish man named Milan Swanz, was chained to a stake and burned alive. It is an appalling and eerily symbolic crime against an upstanding husband and father.

Kate knows all too well that the Amish prefer to handle their problems without interference from the outside world, and no one will speak about the murdered man. From what she’s able to piece together, Swanz led a deeply troubled life and had recently been excommunicated. But if that’s the case, why are the Amish so reluctant to talk about him? Are they protecting the memory of one of their own? Or are they afraid of something they dare not share?
When her own brother is implicated in the case, Kate finds herself not only at odds with the Amish, the world of which she was once a part, but also the English community and her counterparts in law enforcement. The investigation takes a violent turn when Kate’s life is threatened by a mysterious stranger.

To uncover the truth about the death of Milan Swanz, Kate must dive deep into the Anabaptist culture, peering into all the dark corners of its history, only to uncover a secret legacy that shatters everything she thought she knew about the Amish themselves—and her own roots.

My Thoughts

The Burning by Linda Castillo is an intriguing story.  The characters are developed and realistic. Kate Burkholder is now happily married to John.  Her latest case is a dark and gruesome one (the details are quite graphic).  This case hits close to home for Kate when her brother ends up one of the prime suspects. Trying to get answers out of the Amish is like pulling a wisdom tooth (tough and painful).  Kate should see if the local hospital has a frequent visitor program because someone is determined to sideline her.  I was surprised that case details were repeated so often.  The case leads to a suspenseful reveal.  The Burning can be read as a standalone.  I believe it would be helpful, though, to read Sworn to Silence (the first book in the series--available through Kindle Unlimited) which would give you an introduction to the characters (or watch An Amish Murder).  The story does contain some “salty” language.  John and Kate had an interesting conversation at the end.  I will be curious to see what becomes of it.  The Burning took me on a roller coaster (Kate too and she has the bruises to prove it) and I am looking forward to Kate’s next adventure.  

The Burning can be obtained from AmazonSworn to Silence is the first book in the Kate Burkholder series (it is available through Kindle Unlimited).  If you follow Kate Burkholder on Amazon, they will send you an email when she has a new book release.  Thank you taking time out of your day to visit me.  I will be sharing my thoughts on Murder on Devil's Pond by Ayla Rose tomorrow.  It is the first A Hummingbird Hollow B&B Mystery.  I am off to set up my fun in the summer sun display in my front yard.  It has been raining every day which is good for the garden, but it is not good for laying out a display in your front yard.  I hope that you have an amusing day (we need positivity in our lives to offset the current political climate).  Take care and Happy Reading!


Kris

The Avid Reader 

*I voluntarily read an advanced copy of this book.  I am not required to leave a review.  The comments and opinions expressed are strictly my own.

This post contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase using my links, I will receive a small commission from the sale at no cost to you.  Thank you for supporting The Avid Reader. 

Tuesday, July 9, 2024

Mary's Calico Hope by Anne Blackburne

 

About the Book

Book: Mary’s Calico Hope (The Heart of the Amish: Book 5)

Author: Anne Blackburne

Genre: Amish/Christian Fiction

Release date: June, 2024

Mary Yoder Is Content Despite Challenges Thrown Her Way

Full of faith, hope, and romance, this new series takes you into the Heart of Amish country.

If God wills it, Mary Yoder will do it, even if that means using crutches for the rest of her life. She was badly injured in a buggy accident as a child. Still, she is content living in the Dawdi Haus connected to her parents’ farmhouse and with her work weaving baskets and raising specialty roosters whose feathers she uses to make excellent trout lures. She is truly happy at twenty-nine, but. . .she wouldn’t mind finding a husband—if the Lord wills it. Along comes Reuben King, a Mennonite doctor. They are attracted to one another, but how could they ever be together? She’s a baptized Amish woman, so it seems impossible. Also, he wants her to have surgery to improve her mobility and lessen her day-to-day pain. She’s sick and tired of surgeries! But if God wills it, she’ll do it. And just maybe there will be a way for these two unlikely souls to connect.

Click here to get your copy!

About the Author

Anne Blackburne lives and works in Southeast Ohio as a newspaper editor and writer. She is the mother of five grown children, has one wonderful grandchild, and a spoiled poodle named Millie. For fun, when she isn’t working on Amish romance or sweet mysteries, Anne directs and acts in community theater productions and writes and directs original plays. She also enjoys reading, kayaking, swimming, searching for beach glass, and just sitting with a cup of coffee looking at large bodies of water. Her idea of the perfect vacation is cruising and seeing amazing new places with people she loves.

More from Anne

Hello from Southeastern Ohio, where the sun is shining and it’s good to be alive!

Less than a year ago I wrote a kick-off post for the launch of my debut novel, Ruth’s Ginger Snap Surprise, which was also featured in a Celebrate Lit Book Tour in December 2023.

As a green newbie, I didn’t really understand what this meant, but I was (and am!) very happy for any help with my writing career. Well, the amazing bloggers who work with Celebrate Lit did a bang-up job promoting my book, and it is doing very well. So thanks to all of them, and to all who have read Ruth’s story!

Now, here I am again! I can hardly believe that my second book, Mary’s Calico Hope, is published and available to readers, and that once again I’m blessed to have the help of the Celebrate Lit folks in launching my book.

Mary Yoder will be familiar to anyone who read my first book. She appears several times in that story; you may remember her as the quiet young woman with a great attitude despite the fact that she has been using crutches to get around since a childhood accident injured her spine and legs.

Mary is the heroine of my second book, Mary’s Calico Hope. In fact, Mary is something of a heroine to me. I love her joy in living and her faith that God will get her through any challenge, even if she can’t begin to see how He’s going to do it.

We all face challenges, and would all benefit from a little more faith, and not just when times get tough, am I right?

I am so happy to bring you Mary’s story and can’t wait for you to experience her happy-ever-after. (Which of course is guaranteed, since we’re talking about a romance novel!) But how will she get there? Ah, that’s the question!

Thank you for taking the time to learn about Mary’s story! This book is my second in Barbour Publishing’s new series, “The Heart of the Amish”. It’s actually the fifth book in that series, which also contains great reads from authors Mindy Steele and Lisa Baker Jones.

I’m currently writing my third book in the series, which will feature a young woman you met in both Ruth and Mary’s stories, Elizabeth Miller. Look for Lizzie’s Little Mouse next winter.

Oh! I forgot to mention, each of my heroine’s received a tiny kitten from an elderly friend, Lydia Coblentz. Ruth had Ginger Snap. Mary has her calico kitten, Hope. And Lizzie’s kitten is a little gray one that reminds her of—you guessed it! A mouse!

I hope you’re having as much fun reading about these remarkable young women—and their kitties! —as I’m having writing about them. Thanks for being part of our journey! Without you, it wouldn’t be possible.

As for me and mine, we are all well and enjoying spring in southeast Ohio. In other words, enjoying the sunshine, but carrying a sweater and an umbrella, just in case!

God bless you and yours!

Joyfully,

Anne Blackburne

My Thoughts

Mary’s Calico Hope by Anne Blackburne is a warm-hearted tale.  Mary Yoder is a special woman.  She creates lovely baskets as well raising specialty roosters whose feathers she uses to make unique fishing lures (which fetch a pretty penny).   Reuben King is well meaning and determined.  He manages to put his foot in his mouth up past his ankle with Mary.  It will take fancy footwork to get back on Mary’s good side.  I enjoyed reading Mary’s Calico Hope.  I liked most of the characters.  Mary has caring, loving parents (their fussing may aggravate Mary at times, but they do it out of love).  There was a busybody who loved to stick her nose in where it did not belong, spread gossip, and tattle to the bishop.  I liked how it was a close community.  Faith is beautifully woven throughout the story.  The power of prayer, God’s guidance, faith, and trusting in God are a few of the main themes.  I know from experience that it is hard to turn our worries over to God and surrender to His plan.  I liked catching up with Lydia. Mary’s Calico Hope is the fifth book in The Heart of the Amish series.  It can be read as a standalone for those who are new to the series or who may have missed a book.  The ending was heartwarming and left me smiling.  Mary’s Calico Hope is a special Amish story about resilience, love, faith, and community.

A chicken with curly feathers!

Giveaway

 

To celebrate her tour, Anne is giving away the grand prize package of a print copy of the book and a $25 Amazon eGift card!! Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click here to enter.  Good Luck!

Mary's Calico Hope is available from Amazon*.  The other books in The Heart of the Amish series can be found here.  The next book in The Heart of the Amish series is Serenity's Secret which will be out on September 15.  You can find Anne Blackburne's other novels here.  I could not resist adding the fun pictures of fancy chickens and roosters today.  Mary, in Mary's Calico Hope, made fishing lures from specialty roosters, so I thought I would share pictures of some unique chickens and roosters. Thank you for stopping by today.  I will return tomorrow with my thoughts on The Burning by Linda Castillo.  It is the 16th book in the Kate Burkholder series.  I hope that you stay cool today.  It was certainly a hot holiday weekend.  Don't forget to enter the giveaway before you depart. Good Luck, take care, and Happy Reading!  


Kris

The Avid Reader

Blog Stops


Vicky Sluiter, June 27

Jeanette’s Thoughts, June 27

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, June 28

Lighthouse Academy Blog, June 29 (Guest Review from Marilyn Ridgway)

Texas Book-aholic, June 30

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, July 1

Lakesidelivingsite, July 2

Splashes of Joy, July 2

Happily Managing a Household of Boys, July 3

For Him and My Family, July 4

Locks, Hooks and Books, July 5

The Lofty Pages, July 5

Abba’s Prayer Warrior Princess, July 6

Stories By Gina, July 7 (Author Interview)

Devoted To Hope, July 7

Bigreadersite, July 8

Little Homeschool on the Prairie, July 8

The Avid Reader, July 9

Life on Chickadee Lane, July 10

Holly’s Book Corner, July 10

*I voluntarily read an advanced copy of this book.  I am not required to leave a review.  The comments and opinions expressed are strictly my own.

This post contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase using my links, I will receive a small commission from the sale at no cost to you.  Thank you for supporting The Avid Reader. 

Wednesday, July 3, 2024

A Choice Considered by Tracie Peterson

 A Choice Considered
Book Summary

Love has a way of derailing even the most carefully laid plans.

Melody Doyle has spent years following her father across the country as the transcontinental railroad is built. When she announces her desire to settle down in Cheyenne, her father presents her with an unconventional challenge: he will allow her to stay if she finds a husband before his departure. As word spreads and the men in town vie for her hand, she wonders if she could ever be happy with a husband chosen in such a way.

Charles Decker, heir to a banking dynasty, has been sent west by his father to manage their family's new bank. His heart yearns for a simple life of teaching, but banking is the family business, and Charlie feels obligated to fall in line. When his friendship with Melody blossoms, he's drawn to this remarkable woman who defies conventions. Will he be able to come to terms with his growing feelings for her and confront the true desires of his own heart before it's too late?

My Thoughts

A Choice Considered by Tracie Peterson is the second book in The Heart of Cheyenne series.  It can be read as a standalone for those who have not read A Love Discovered.  I thought A Choice Considered was easy to read.  I enjoyed getting to know Melody and her father as well as Charlie.  The characters, though, needed more depth.   The characters are a little too perfect with the bad guy being the sneering, twirling the ends of his mustache type of villain (the type you see in cartoons).   We get to visit Cheyenne in 1868 just as the railroad tracks have been finished and the workers are ready to move on to the next site.  I do not blame Melody for being ready to settle down in one location after years of travel.   I did find some of the details to be inaccurate (two small examples are you do not leave a stove unattended in a tent for long periods of time nor do you leave food out on the table because a dog will snatch it—or a hungry vagrant). 

The story follows Melody and Charlie as they get to know each other.  In between the pair go to work and Melody goes on the dates set up by her father. There is a touch of suspense when a disgruntled bank employee makes off with funds. A Choice Considered is a clean, Christian story (no intimate relations or foul language).  A Choice Considered is a nice story, but I thought it was very predictable.  I could foresee how the story would play out early on.  I felt this book was not on par with Tracie Peterson’s earlier works.  While A Choice Considered was a miss for me, it will not keep me from reading Tracie’s books in the future.  

A Choice Considered can be obtained from Amazon*.  The first book in The Heart of Cheyenne series is A Love DiscoveredA Truth Revealed is the third book in The Heart of Cheyenne series and it will come out on November 5.  Tracie Peterson has A Constant Love which is the first book in The Hope of Cheyenne series publishing on March 4, 2025.  You can find Tracie Peterson's other novels here.  Thank you for popping by today.  I will return next week with  new book reviews.  I will be taking part in the Celebrate Lit Blog Tour for Mary's Calico Hope by Anne Blackburne on July 9.  I hope that you have an enjoyable and safe Fourth of July.  There will be a golf cart parade in our community before the Fourth of July fireworks (you get around on a golf cart or an adult tricycle if traversing within our community).  People will decorate their golf carts for the parade.  There is always an activity going on (there is no reason for someone to be bored in this village).  Have a fun holiday!  It is a great opportunity to sit by the pool (lake or ocean), relax, and read.  Take care and Happy Reading!


Kris

The Avid Reader

*I voluntarily read an advanced copy of this book.  I am not required to leave a review.  The comments and opinions expressed are strictly my own.

This post contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase using my links, I will receive a small commission from the sale at no cost to you.  Thank you for supporting The Avid Reader.  

Tuesday, July 2, 2024

Meet Me at the Starlight by Rachel Hauck

 Meet Me at the Starlight
Book Summary

1987. Supermodel Harlow Hayes seeks solace in a quaint Florida beach town to heal from a heartbreak that shattered her entire world. To her surprise, she encounters Matt Knight--a Hollywood A-lister with a bad-boy reputation--who has returned to his hometown to help his plucky grandmother, Tuesday, save her century-old skating rink, the Starlight.
The Starlight holds a special place in the hearts of the community, once acting as a refuge for Depression-era families and bringing the town together with gatherings and celebrations. Tuesday's determination even protected her beloved rink from her husband's shady business dealings. Yet when the Starlight is threatened with demolition, Tuesday begins to wonder if an era has come to an end.
As Matt and Harlow strategize to save the rink, they find themselves on a journey of surprises, self-discovery, and the kind of healing that leads to love.

My Thoughts

Meet Me at the Starlight is the latest novel by Rachel Hauck.  The story alternates between 1932 with Tuesday Knight and 1987 with Harlow Hayes as well as Tuesday’s grandson, Matt.  Tuesday was my favorite character.  Tuesday has a big heart and an abiding faith.  She loves her family and the skating rink, the Starlight. I enjoyed the references to the skating rink. When I was a teen (in the 80s), it was the place to go on Friday and Saturday nights with friends. I could not believe the mayor and other bigwigs wanted to tear down a town landmark in the name of progress (aka money).  I thought Harlow’s storyline paled in comparison to Tuesday’s. I thought Harlow was wishy washy (she needed to grow a backbone). Personally, I wish the story had focused on Tuesday and the Starlight.  I loved the 1980s references.  The author captured the eighties including the way women had to look (thin was in—I am talking size 0). I struggled with the first sixty percent of the book, but I enjoyed the last part.  I like how everything turned how except one tiny detail (I wish I could say what it is, but it would be a spoiler).  Meet Me at the Starlight is a story about second chances, faith, romance, finding yourself, and fighting to save the Starlight. 

Meet Me at the Starlight can be obtained from Amazon*.  You can find Rachel Hauck's other novels here.  Thank you for stopping by today.  Are you ready for the Fourth of July?  I have my grill cleaned as well as a full tank of propane.  I also picked up the fixings for hamburgers.  My yard is decorated (of course).  It can be seen from the far end of the street.  Tomorrow I will be sharing my thoughts on A Choice Considered by Tracie Peterson. It is the second book in The Heart of Cheyenne series.  I am off to take care of the neighborhood cats who visit every day plus the two ducks (Quackers and Quigley).  For some reason, the ducks have been wandering around the village instead of staying by the lake.  Quackers and Quigley have decided they like my house and spend most of their time in my yard and on my porch (ducks are messy).  They drink a lot of water (and spill the water bowl frequently).  I had fun watching them play in the rain on Sunday.  I hope that you have a merry day. Take care and Happy Reading!


Kris

The Avid Reader

*I voluntarily read an advanced copy of this book.  I am not required to leave a review.  The comments and opinions expressed are strictly my own.

This post contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase using my links, I will receive a small commission from the sale at no cost to you.  Thank you for supporting The Avid Reader. 

Thursday, June 27, 2024

An Amish Country Reunion by Patricia Johns

 An Amish Country Reunion

Book Summary

When friends reunite in Amish Country…

Will love follow?

Arriving at the State Police K9 Training Center, Trooper Genevieve Austin learns that she’ll be reporting to her former partner, Sergeant Scott Simpson. Gen hasn’t seen Scott since he ghosted her to protect his job. And after her own struggles to climb the ranks, she can sympathize. When working together makes old feelings resurface, will Gen and Scott choose their careers…or each other?

My Thoughts

An Amish Country Reunion by Patricia Johns is a heartwarming romance with a soupcon of mystery.  I like the author’s engaging writing style. I enjoyed getting to know Genevieve Austin and Scott Simpson.  I thought the characters were developed and relatable.  You could feel the emotions emanating from the characters as well as the sparks between them. The mystery of the missing watch was well done. There were some interesting twists and turns along the way to solving the crime.  I like that the story mixed English with Amish characters.  I was surprised to see one word used in the story (starts with an h and ends with an l).  I liked the K9 aspect of the story, and I wish the story had delved a little deeper into it.  I thought Benjie was a sweetie.  An Amish Country Reunion is a touching tale with a bounding Benjie, new beginnings, a missing timepiece, and a second chance at romance.

An Amish Country Reunion is available from Amazon* as well as other major retailers.  Patricia Johns has Her Pretend Amish Beau coming out July 23. You can find Patricia Johns other books here.  Thank you for joining me today!  I will return on Tuesday, July 2 with Meet me at the Starlight by Rachel Hauck.  I hope that you have a peaceful and cool weekend (it is so hot).  It is the perfect time to relax inside with a cool drink and a good book.  Take care and Happy Reading!


Kris

The Avid Reader

*I voluntarily read an advanced copy of this book.  I am not required to leave a review.  The comments and opinions expressed are strictly my own.

This post contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase using my links, I will receive a small commission from the sale at no cost to you.  Thank you for supporting The Avid Reader.