Sunday, May 9, 2021

Purrfectly Dead by Dixie Lyle--Happy Mother's Day!

 Purrfectly Dead
Book Summary

Deidre “Foxtrot” Lancaster is back—with her supernatural sidekicks Tango and Whiskey—to unlock the mysteries of life, death…and Dixie Lyle's Purrfectly Dead.

When zillionairess Zelda Zoransky throws a party, she means business. Assistant extraordinaire, Deidre “Foxtrot” Lancaster knows she’s in for a night when anything can—and will—happen. The evening’s festivities include a high-stakes game between two escape artists locked in a bitter rivalry.


The magic turns tragic when one of the escape artists ends up dead. This is no disappearing act—it’s murder. The suspects include a scientist with a 3D printer, a psychedelically-impaired rock star, and a serpent-tongued ghost with ties to the Garden of Eden. Now it’s up to Foxtrot, Tango, and Whiskey figure out which guest commited the crime before they reach they end of this deadly game of Clue. How will this tail end?

My Thoughts

Purrfectly Dead by Dixie Lyle is the 5th novel in A Whiskey, Tango, & Foxtrot Mystery series.  This is a unique paranormal mystery series that needs to be read in order.  I have not had the opportunity to read the previous books in the series, and, after I began Purrfectly Dead, I soon found myself confused.  We are introduced to a number of characters in the first chapter along with various paranormal elements.  There are Thunderbirds, a ghostly dog who can shape shift and communicate with Foxtrot telepathically, a telepathic cat who is a reincarnation of a pet Foxtrot had as a child, a rival group to the thunderbirds, ghosts, Eli the snake creature, and much more.  I could not keep it all straight.  I still do not understand who can and cannot see the dog (the shapeshifting ghost dog).  To further confuse things, Foxtrot can hear Whiskey and Tango in her head.  They have lengthy conversations, and it is hard to tell who is talking.  I did enjoy reading about the magicians and their tricks (illusions).  The mystery is convoluted with many different components.  I did appreciate that it was all wrapped up at the end of the book.  The main storyline is interesting, but the rest of the components just made it difficult to read this tale.  I liked that the book moved along at a fast pace and the characters were developed.  I was not the right audience for Purrfectly Dead.  My mother, though, is eager to read this series.  I suggest that you obtain a sample of A Taste Fur Murder (the first book in the series), to see if it appeals to you.  That is the beauty of books—there is something for everyone.  Purrfectly Dead is an unusual cozy mystery with a reincarnated cat, a shapeshifting pooch, a motley crew of magicians, a messy murder, an awaiting war, and skillful illusions.

Purrfectly Dead can be purchased from Amazon*.  This series includes A Taste Fur Murder, To Die Fur, Marked Fur Murder, and A Deadly Tail.  You can find the other four novels in A Whiskey Tango Foxtrot Mystery series here.  Thank you for visiting today.  I am a stop on the Great Escapes Virtual Book Tour for Peaches and Schemes tomorrow.  It is the 3rd A Georgia B&B Mystery.  I hope that you have very special Mother's Day.  Take care, be kind, and Happy Reading!


The Avid Reader

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

Saturday, May 8, 2021

The Ghost and the Haunted Portrait by Cleo Coyle: Review and Giveaway

The Ghost and the Haunted Portrait


About The Ghost and the Haunted Portrait


The Ghost and the Haunted Portrait (Haunted Bookshop Mystery) 

Bookshop owner Penelope Thornton-McClure and her gumshoe ghost team up to solve the stunning mystery at the heart of a madwoman’s self-portrait in this all new installment from New York Times bestselling author Cleo Coyle.

While gathering a collection of vintage book cover paintings for a special event in her quaint Rhode Island bookshop, Penelope discovers a spooky portrait of a beautiful woman, one who supposedly went mad, according to town gossip. Seymour, the local mailman, falls in love with the haunting image and buys the picture, refusing to part with it, even as fatal accidents befall those around it. Is the canvas cursed? Or is something more sinister at work?

For answers, Pen turns to an otherworldly source: Jack Shepard, PI. Back in the 1940s, Jack cracked a case of a killer cover artist, and (to Pen’s relief) his spirit is willing to help her solve this mystery, even if he and his license did expire decades ago.

About Cleo Coyle


CLEO COYLE is a pseudonym for Alice Alfonsi, writing in collaboration with her husband, Marc Cerasini. Both are New York Times bestselling authors of the long-running Coffeehouse Mysteries—now celebrating eighteen years in print. They are also authors of the nationally bestselling Haunted Bookshop Mysteries, previously written under the pseudonym Alice Kimberly. Alice has worked as a journalist in Washington, D.C., and New York, and has written popular fiction for adults and children. A former magazine editor, Marc has authored espionage thrillers and nonfiction for adults and children. Alice and Marc are also both bestselling media tie-in writers who have penned properties for Lucasfilm, NBC, Fox, Disney, Imagine, and MGM. They live and work in New York City, where they write independently and together.

Author Links

My Thoughts

The Ghost and the Haunted Portrait by Cleo Coyle is the 7th A Haunted Bookshop Mystery.  This enchanting cozy mystery can be read as a standalone for those new to the series or if you have missed a tome or two.  This is an entertaining and unique cozy mystery series.  I love visiting Penelope and Jack Shepard.  Penelope and her two bickering friends are off to pick up some artwork that will displayed at Buy the Book as part of an exhibit.  They end up finding the owner dead and it relates back to a case Jack investigated before his death.  I like how the past and present tie-in together.  It is neat how Penelope gets to “see” Jack’s memories.  The interplay between Jack and Penelope is delightful.  The mystery was complex which makes it fun to solve.  There are good suspects, a red herring, and exciting twists.  I appreciated that everything was neatly wrapped up at the end.  The Ghost and the Haunted Portrait is well-written with friendly, developed characters.  Buy the Book is a wonderful place to visit with its charming owners.  The romance between Penelope and Jack is special.  We can see how love can transcend time and space (reminds me of The Ghost and Mrs. Muir).      This cozy mystery has good friends, close family, mysterious acts, a dead art collector, books, and humor.  The Ghost and the Haunted Portrait is a unique cozy mystery with precious paintings, a dashing detective, ambiguous acts, concealed clues, treasured tomes, and a suspicious specter.
The Ghost and the Haunted Portrait is available from AmazonBarnes & NobleKoboGoogle Play, and IndieBound.  You can find the other novels in A Haunted Bookshop Mystery series here.  Cleo Coyle also writes A Coffeehouse Mystery series.  The author is giving away two (2) signed copies of The Ghost and the Haunted Portrait as well as a Haunted Bookshop tote bag (sorry, but US Only).  You can click here to enter or use the Rafflecopter form below.  Good Luck!     Thank you for joining me today.  I am featuring Purrfectly Dead by Dixie Lyle tomorrow.  I hope that you have an enchanted day.  Do not forget to leave a comment to get an extra entry in the giveaway.  Take care, be kind, and Happy Reading!


The Avid Reader

Tour Participants

May 4 – Baroness' Book Trove - SPOTLIGHT 


May 5 – The Editing Pen – REVIEW 

May 5 – Laura's Interests – REVIEW 

May 5 – Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers – SPOTLIGHT 

May 6 – MJB Reviewers – SPOTLIGHT 

May 6 – Novels Alive – GUEST POST 

May 7 – Books to the Ceiling – REVIEW 

May 7 – I'm All About Books – SPOTLIGHT 
May 7 – Christy's Cozy Corners – REVIEW 

May 8 – The Avid Reader – REVIEW 

May 8 – Literary Gold – SPOTLIGHT 

May 8 – StoreyBook Reviews – SPOTLIGHT 

May 9 – Diane Reviews Books – REVIEW    

May 9 – Brooke Blogs – SPOTLIGHT 

May 10 – Brianne's Book Reviews – REVIEW 

May 10 – Cozy Up With Kathy – REVIEW 

May 10 – Nadaness In Motion – REVIEW 

May 11 – ebook addicts – SPOTLIGHT 
May 11 – Sapphyria's Book Reviews – SPOTLIGHT 

May 12 – Here's How It Happened – SPOTLIGHT 

May 12 – The Book's the Thing – REVIEW 

May 12 – Maureen's Musings – SPOTLIGHT 

May 12 – Books a Plenty Book Reviews – REVIEW 

May 13 – BookishKelly2020 – SPOTLIGHT 

May 13 – Mysteries with Character – GUEST POST 

May 13 – Author Elena Taylor's Blog – SPOTLIGHT

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

Friday, May 7, 2021

A Tale of Two Cookies by Eve Calder

 A Tale of Two Cookies

Book Summary

A Tale of Two Cookies by Eve Calder has Kate McGuire happy for her friend, Desiree Goldsmith who is retiring and marrying Judson Cooper.  Kate can tell that Desiree and Judson are very much in love and that they suit each other.  She has created beautiful bride and groom cookie toppers for their cake.  Kate along with the rest of the guests are waiting on the beach in Coral Cay, Florida for the bride and groom to arrive.  The bride arrives, but the groom is MIA.  Kate contacts Detective Ben Abrams who dives into the baffling case.  Kate begins asking questions and searching for clues with the help of her friends.  Things are hectic in Coral Cay as a reality show takes over a local home and begins filming. Kate wonders if there is a connection between Judson’s disappearance and the show.  Kate ends up with a jumble of clues that she will need to sift through if she is to find Judson.

My Thoughts

A Tale of Two Cookies by Eve Calder is the 3rd A Cookie House Mystery.  It can be read as a standalone for those new to the series.  This is an engaging cozy mystery set in Coral Cay, Florida.  Kate McGuire is part-owner in The Cookie House where she whips up delectable cookies with Sam Hepplewhite.  There is a delightful cast of secondary characters that includes Maxi and Kate’s dog, Oliver.  The characters are well-rounded, friendly, and relatable.  There are vivid descriptions of Coral Cay, the beach, and the various cookies.  It allows readers to envision they are on lounging on the beach with a good book and a bag of fresh baked cookies from The Cookie House.  The mystery was clever for a cozy mystery. I did arrive at the solution early on, but it was fun following Kate’s investigation to the resolution.  There was a good wrap up of the crime.   I like it when all loose ends are tied up.  I did feel the story was a tad long (fifty-chapters).  A little editing would not have been remiss.  The ending of A Tale of Two Cookies is one that will leave readers smiling.  A Tale of Two Cookies is a sweet treat with scrumptious cookies, a gone groom, a wrecked wedding, a bothered bride, threatened turtles, a beautiful beach, and a pushy photographer.  

A Tale of Two Cookies can be purchased from Amazon*.  The first two books in A Cookie House Mystery series are And Then There Were Crumbs and Sugar & Vice.  Thank you for reading my review today.  Tomorrow I am a stop on the Great Escapes Virtual Book Tour for The Ghost and the Haunted Portrait by Cleo Coyle.  It is the 7th A Haunted Bookshop Mystery.  I hope you have a sweet day.  Take care, be kind, and Happy Reading!


The Avid Reader

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

Thursday, May 6, 2021

Death Gone A-Rye by Winnie Archer: Review, Excerpt, and Giveaway!


Death Gone A-Rye 

A Bread Shop Mystery

by Winnie Archer

About Death Gone A-Rye


Death Gone A-Rye (A Bread Shop Mystery) 


In the Northern California seaside town of Santa Sofia, a killer is trying to get a rise out of baker’s apprentice Ivy Culpepper . . .

Vincent van Dough focaccia is being touted on Instagram as the best thing since sliced bread. By strategically placing chives, olives, and yellow peppers to look like poppies and sunflowers, bakers create a mouthwatering masterpiece in the style of the great postimpressionist painter. At Yeast of Eden, where bread making has always been an art, they’re baking their own version for the school district’s Spring Fling.

But one person won’t be tasting the Mexican bakery’s latest specialty. Ambitious school board president Nessa Renchrik has been murdered. Like the rest of this close-knit community, Ivy is shocked. But she’s just as surprised to discover her beau—restaurateur Miguel Baptista—had his own fling with Nessa back in the day and now the police have this half-baked notion he might have killed her. It’s up to Ivy, her boss Olaya Solis, and eighty-six-years-young Penelope Branford to separate the wheat from the chaff to determine who the real culprit is . . .


About Winnie Archer

The indefatigable Winnie Archer is a middle school teacher by day and a writer by night. Born in a beach town in California, she now lives in Colorado. She fantasizes about spending summers writing in quaint, cozy locales, has a love/hate relationship with both yoga and chocolate, adores pumpkin spice lattes, is devoted to her five kids and husband, and can’t believe she’s lucky enough to be living the life of her dreams. Visit her online at

Author Links

My Thoughts

Death Gone A-Rye by Winnie Archer has Ivy Culpepper enjoying the wedding of her best friend and her brother in Santa Sofia, California.  She notices Capt. Craig York looking at his phone and then consult with the bride, Sheriff Emmaline Davis.  It turns out that Santa Sofia school board president, Nessa Renchrik has been murdered.  Unfortunately, Capt. York narrows his sights in on Miguel Baptiste, Ivy’s boyfriend.  It turns out that Miguel dated Nessa over ten years ago and saw her the week before her death.  Ivy knows that Miguel did not harm Nessa.  Thankfully, there are plenty of suspects.  Ivy with help from Penelope Branford, retired schoolteacher, and Olaya Solia, owner of Yeast of Eden, set out to sift through the clues and uncover the killers’ identity.  Death Gone A-Rye is the 6th tale in A Bread Shop Mystery series.  It can be read as a standalone if you are new to the series or if you have missed a book or two.  The story is well-written with developed, likeable characters.  There is a diverse cast of characters.  I especially love Mrs. Penelope Branford.  I hope I am like Mrs. Branford when I am in my 80s.  It is always pleasant to visit Santa Sofia.  The pacing is a slow for my taste.  A little action would have helped.  It was wonderful to see Billy and Emmaline get their happily ever after.  I enjoyed the descriptions of the bread offered at the reception.  The Vincent Van Dough focaccia sounded beautiful (you should look them up online).  The mystery was multifaceted.  There are several good suspects in the death of Nessa.  I am surprised the list was not longer after learning more about the victim.  Ivy questions a number of people in her quest for the truth.  There are good clues (if you pay close attention to the details) to help you identify the killer.  I like everything tied together and the complete resolution.  The ending will leave a smile on your face.  I do feel that the story needs more humor.  That is the one thing lacking for me.  There are recipes at the end for Van Dough Focaccia Bread Art along with helpful bread making tips.  Death Gone A-Rye is an appetizing cozy mystery with fancy focaccia, a bothered bride, a surplus of suspects, a framed fella, curious clues, and a cantankerous captain.


“Are those sourdough?” Miguel asked. He pointed to a cluster of dinner rolls. Instead of having a rounded top, each looked like the dough had been rolled into a strand, then knotted and sprinkled with white and black sesame seeds.

“Yes. Made with fresh-milled local rye, spelt, and, por supuesto, wild yeast.”

“Of course. Only wild yeast,” Miguel agreed with a smile.

“You laugh, but it makes a huge difference,” she said.

Miguel threw up his hands. “I am not laughing. I know the importance of your traditions and the best ingredients.”

Olaya nodded her head, just once. It was her acknowledgment that she knew Miguel understood. She released my arm, took up a napkin, and used it to rearrange a few of the rolls to better balance the display. Miguel slipped his arm around me, pulling me close. “You look beautiful,” he said. With his free hand, he played with the loose strands of my hair. “I like the updo.”

I gingerly patted the back of my head. My hair tended toward unruly, but the clips and bobby pins were keeping it controlled at the moment. My coquettish reply was stalled when the door from the patio flung open and a man stepped through. It was David Soul’s look-alike. He had his phone in his hand again, but this time he held it to his ear. “I’ll tell her, but she’s leaving on her honeymoon. Don’t worry. I’ll handle it.”

Miguel and I looked at each other. This was the captain in the sheriff’s department, and he was clearly talking about Emmaline. “Will do,” he said into his phone. He snapped the device onto the phone clip strung onto his belt, then looked up, noticing us for the first time. A wee bit concerning for a crime investigator. I thought spacial awareness and observation would be key to his position.

“Sorry ’bout that,” he said. He looked at me. “You’re Ivy, right? Culpepper? Sister of the groom?”

I nodded. I’d originally placed him in his late forties, but up close, he looked younger. Maybe forty or fort-yone. His skin was tanned, and with his blond hair and white teeth, he wore his age well. I wondered how he felt about having a female boss who was younger than him, hoping he was the progressive sort who celebrated women in power.

“The sheriff has mentioned your, um, contributions to the department.”

Contributions. That was one way to put it. Crime solving was another. I was an apprentice baker at Yeast of Eden, but I had also found myself acting as a Santa Sofia sleuth lately. “She’s mentioned you, too. She was thrilled to steal you from San Luis Obispo.”

He nodded but didn’t continue the chitchat. “There’s been a . . . an incident. Good to see you.” He nodded to Miguel, acknowledging him, although they hadn’t formally met, before turning on his cowboy-booted heel and heading back outside.

From his conversation on the phone and his demeanor, I knew he didn’t want to burden Emmaline with whatever incident had happened, but she was the sheriff and I knew he had to. I pulled away from Miguel. “I’ll be right back,” I said, and started after him.

“Stay out of it,” Miguel called after me.

I couldn’t promise that until l knew what it was. I looked over my shoulder and smiled. “I don’t know what you’re talking about,” I said, and before he could tell me exactly what he was thinking, which was that I didn’t need to get wrapped up in another murder, I was back on the patio and making a beeline for Em and Billy.


Death Gone A-Rye can be purchased from AmazonB&N, and Kobo.  You can find the other five novels in A Bread Shop Mystery series hereKneaded to Death (ebook) is on sale for $1.99, Crust No One (ebook) is on sale for $1.99, Flour in the Attic (ebook) is on sale for $.99, and Dough or Die (ebook version) is available for $.99 (also on Kindle Unlimited).  The sale is for a limited time (who knows when it will end) on ebook versions only.  As part of the tour, the author is giving away three copies (sorry, but US only) of Death Gone A-Rye.  You can click here to enter or use the Rafflecopter form below.  Good Luck!  The next A Bread Shop Mystery is A Murder Yule Regret which publishes November 30.  Thank you for joining me today.  I will return tomorrow with another book review.  I hope that you have a bubbly day.  Don't forget to leave a comment for an extra entry into the giveaway.  Take care, be kind, and Happy Reading!


The Avid Reader

Tour Participants

May 3 – Socrates Book Reviews – SPOTLIGHT 

May 3 – Maureen's Musings – SPOTLIGHT 

May 4 – I'm All About Books – SPOTLIGHT 

May 4 – Cozy Up With Kathy - REVIEW, CHARACTER GUEST POST 

May 5 – Celticlady's Reviews - SPOTLIGHT, EXCERPT 

May 5 – Reading, Writing & Stitch-Metic - SPOTLIGHT, RECIPE 

May 6 – Novels Alive – GUEST POST 

May 6 – The Avid Reader – REVIEW, EXCERPT 

May 7 – Baroness' Book Trove – REVIEW 

May 7 – My Journey Back the Journey Back - SPOTLIGHT, RECIPE 

May 7 – My Reading Journeys – REVIEW 

May 8 – Literary Gold - SPOTLIGHT, EXCERPT 

May 8 – #BRVL Book Review Virginia Lee Blog - SPOTLIGHT 

May 9 – Books a Plenty Book Reviews – REVIEW 

May 9 – The Book's the Thing - REVIEW, EXCERPT 
May 9 – Sapphyria's Book Reviews – SPOTLIGHT 

May 10 – Christy's Cozy Corners – GUEST POST 

May 10 – Ascroft, eh? – CHARACTER INTERVIEW 

May 11 – Mysteries with Character- AUTHOR INTERVIEW 

May 11 – A Wytch's Book Review Blog - REVIEW, CHARACTER INTERVIEW 
May 12 – Brooke Blogs - SPOTLIGHT, RECIPE 

May 12 – Moonlight Rendezvous - REVIEW, EXCERPT

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

Wednesday, May 5, 2021

For Batter or Worse by Jenn McKinlay

 For Batter or Worse
Book Summary

For Batter or Worse by Jenn McKinlay has Mel and Joe finalizing the plans on their upcoming nuptials.  Oz Ruiz is preparing the cupcakes for the reception which is being held at the posh Sun Dial Resort where he works his magic as the master pastry chef.  Things are not rosy at the resort thanks to the bullying chef de cuisine.  Joe, Angie, and Mel observe a scorching row between the two men while sampling Oz’s sweet creations.  After meeting with the wedding coordinator at the resort, Joe and Mel decide to stop by Oz’s kitchen and see if he has any more cupcakes.  They find Oz crouching over the chef de cuisine’s body with blood on his hands.  Uncle Stan arrives and, unfortunately, must put Oz at the top of the suspect list.  Mel is not about to let Oz take the fall for a crime he did not commit.  Mel, Angie, Joe, Tate, Marty, and the DeLaura brothers sift through the clues and subtlety question suspects.  They need to work quickly so they can clear Oz before the wedding day.  Can the Fairy Tale Cupcake crew find the guilty party before Mel and Joe say I do?

My Thoughts

For Batter or Worse by Jenn McKinlay is the 13th A Cupcake Bakery Mystery.  This is a sweet addition to a scrumptious series.  It is finally time for Joe and Mel’s wedding (hooray), but a murder may put a crimp in the big day.  I thought For Batter or Worse was well-written with developed characters and it moved along at quick pace.  I love the snappy dialogue between the characters.  I find the movie quotes (the game they play) delightful.  I have enjoyed following Mel and Angie since the beginning of this scrummy series.  There is a delightful cast of characters that includes Angie, Mel, Tate, Joe, Oz, and Marty.  The DeLaura brothers are a hoot.  I laughed often while reading about their antics.  Marty is another humorous character.  The detailed descriptions of the cupcakes will have you salivating and heading for the closest bakery.  The mystery is well-plotted with several suspects, misdirection, and a tantalizing twist.  I had fun solving this zestful whodunit.  I like the romance between Uncle Stan and Mel’s mother, Joyce.  I wonder if wedding bells are in their future.  There are some special moments in this story.  I just loved the ending.  If you are new to the series, I would not recommend starting with For Batter or WorseA Cupcake Bakery Mystery series is one I highly recommend reading in order.  For Batter or Worse has lovable characters, laugh out-loud humor, scrumptious cupcakes, and an enticing mystery.  This is one cozy mystery you do not want to miss.  For Batter or Worse is a tasty tale with delectable delights, marriage arrangements, a pregnant partner, a frantic friend, bothersome and brilliant brothers, and an exultant ending.

For Batter or Worse can be purchased from Amazon*.  You can find the other novels in A Cupcake Bakery Mystery series here.  Jenn McKinlay also writes A Library Lover's Mystery seriesKiller Research is the 12th novel in the series and it publishes November 2.  She also writes A Hat Shop Mystery series set in England (it is delightful).  Ms. McKinlay has Wait for It releasing August 10 (a contemporary romance).  Thank you for visiting today.  Tomorrow I am a stop on the Great Escapes Virtual Book Tour for Death Gone A-Rye by Winnie Archer.  It is 6th A Bread Shop Mystery.  I hope that you have a sweet day.  Take care, be kind, and Happy Reading!


The Avid Reader 

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

Tuesday, May 4, 2021

The Jam and Jelly Nook by Amy Clipston

The Jam and Jelly Nook
Book Summary

The Jam and Jelly Nook by Amy Clipston has Leanna Wengerd worried about her son, Chester.  He has been rude and disobedient recently.  Leanna gets a late-night call from Chester who is at the local police station.  Chester along with Maggie Speicher were caught trespassing on a local farm.  At the police station, Leanna meets Emory Speicher, Maggie’s widowed father.  The pair learn that they have similar doubts and misgivings especially regarding their children.  Leanna and Emory get coffee together at Bethany’s Coffee Corner and begin discovering that they have a lot in common.  Life begins to look brighter for Leanna and Emory until their teens voice disapproval.  Neither Leanna nor Emory wants to do anything that would upset their kids, but what do they do about their budding feelings.  In the meantime, Emory’s sister-in-law decides to set Emory up with a friend.  They get along well, but the spark he feels with Leanna is missing.  His daughter, though, likes the woman and bonds with her over sewing.  Emory wonders which path is the right one for him.  Leanna begins to wonder if she will get a second chance at love.  What does God have planned for Leanna and Emory?   

My Thoughts

The Jam and Jelly Nook by Amy Clipston is the 4th (and final) An Amish Marketplace Novel.  It can be read as a standalone, but I recommend reading this charming series in order.  It will allow you to get to know the characters and follow their progress.  We get Leanna Wenger’s story in this tale.  I have been looking forward to getting to know Leanna better.  Leanna is a widow of seven years with a teenage son named Chester.  Chester went from sweet boy to surly teenager who is smoking and carrying a cell phone.  Leanna worries about Chester and wonders she can do to help him.  Emory Speicher is a widower of six years raising his teenage daughter, Maggie.  Maggie is a sweet girl who prefers to remain at home.  She does not spend time with other people her own age and she lacks joy.  When Emory and Leanna end up at the police station to pick up their kids, they discover they have things in common which leads to a friendship.  Of course, friendship could lead to something more if the circumstances are right.  I thought The Jam and Jelly Nook was well-written with friendly, relatable characters.  We get a chance to catch up with Bethany, Christiana, and Salina.  I have enjoyed getting to know these four ladies and I was sorry to see this delightful series end.  I love the setting of the Bird-in-Hand Marketplace.  I liked watching the friendship develop between Leanna and Emory.  Patience is the key to their having more (waiting is key when you have faith).  Faith is at the forefront in this book.  It is nicely woven into the story.  The Jam and Jelly Nook was a good book to read and one that I was sorry to see end (because that meant the series was over).  I will miss these lovely characters.  My favorite phrase from The Jam and Jelly Nook is, “With God all things are possible.”   The Jam and Jelly Nook is a great escape novel.  The Jam and Jelly Nook is an enticing Amish tale with jewel-toned jellies, quality quilts, darling dolls, beguiling birdhouses, a problematic lad, a jam-packed marketplace, a dutiful daughter, and a snoopy sister-in-law.  

The Jam and Jelly Nook can be ordered from Amazon*.  The other An Amish Marketplace Novels are The Bake Shop, The Farm Stand, and The Coffee Corner.  You can find Amy Clipston's other novels here.   An Amish Schoolroom with Amy Clipston, Shelley Shepard Gray, and Kathleen Fuller publishes August 3.  Amy Clipston has Foundation of Love releasing December 28.  It is the first An Amish Legacy Novel.   Thank you for stopping by today.  I will return tomorrow with For Batter or Worse by Jenn McKinlay.  It is the 13th A Cupcake Bakery Mystery.  I hope you have an inspiring day.  Take care, be kind, and Happy Reading!


The Avid Reader 

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

Monday, May 3, 2021

Banished by Linda Byler


Book Summary

Banished by Linda Byler has Obadiah (Oba) and Merriweather (May) Miller becoming orphans after the death of their parents in Apple Creek, Ohio.  None of their local relatives are willing to take them in so the siblings are shipped to Blytheville, Arkansas to live on the cotton farm of Melvin and Gertrude Amstutz.  They discover the weather is hot and the days are long on the farm where they are expected to work.  It does not take long to learn that no matter how hard they work, they will be treated harshly.  Uncle Melvin is forbidding and quick to punish for anything he perceives is wrong.  Aunt Gertie does not want to live in Arkansas which has turned her into a bitter, unhappy woman.  May is a sweet child who is eager to please. The years pass and life continues to get worse for the siblings.  After a particularly cruel beating, Oba disappears leaving May with more work and no one to rely on.  One day May meets Clinton while collecting the mail.  She is drawn to his kindness and would love a friendship with Clinton.  Unfortunately, it is impossible with May being white and Clinton a young black man.  Uncle Melvin would whip her senseless if he discovered May with Clinton.  May, though, is eager for companionship and find herself sneaking away to meet Clinton.  When life becomes unbearable, May knows it is time to escape.  The question is how is she going to accomplish it and where will she go.  

My Thoughts

Banished by Linda Byler is the first novel in The Long Road Home series.  Oba and May Miller are eleven and ten when their kind, loving parents die in a tragic accident.  They are sent to Arkansas to live when none of their Ohio relatives will take them in.  The home of Gertie and Melvin Amstutz is starkly different from how the siblings grew up.  Life is bleak, harsh, and hot on the cotton farm.  May and Oba are unprepared for the long workdays and the cruelty of their guardians.  I thought Banished was well-written with developed, realistic characters.  The point-of-view switches between Oba and Mary.  While Mary is a sweet girl with strong faith and helpful nature, her brother is angry at God for taking their parents.  Oba’s attitude worsens after suffering at the hands of his uncle.  Linda Byler is a descriptive writer who brings the scenery to life with her word imagery.  The story takes place over a number of years as Oba and May grow from children to teenagers.  I could understand Oba’s anger and his desire to escape from his harsh uncle.  May is the opposite of her brother.  I liked her faith in God, but I did not understand some of the choices she made.  Banished is a difficult novel to read because of the violence (whippings, beatings, slaps, and sexual misconduct) and the attitudes.  I will never understand why someone is treated differently because of the color of their skin.  As May said, “God created us equal, no matter the color of our skin.”  This book shows us life during the Depression in Arkansas on an Amish farm.  I wish the author had specified the time period at the beginning of the book.  I am guessing the tale begins in the late 1920s.  Banished is a shocking tale that is nothing like any Amish book that I have ever read.  We are left wondering what will happen next with Oba and May.  We must wait for the next installment in The Long Road Home series to find out.  Banished is a heart wrenching tale with hot heat, blossoming cotton bolls, an angry aunt, an unkind uncle, demanding duties, and cruel cousins.

Banished publishes May 4 and it can be pre-ordered from Amazon*.  Linda Byler's next release is A Christmas Engagement which releases September 14.  You can find all of Linda Byler's novels here.   Thank you for joining me today.  Tomorrow I am featuring The Jam and Jelly Nook by Amy Clipston.  It is the 4th An Amish Marketplace Novel.  I hope that you have a blissful day.  Make sure to take time for joy.  Take care, be kind, and Happy Reading!


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