Wednesday, June 23, 2021

Loving Mrs. Bontrager by Loree Lough

 Loving Mrs. Bontrager
Book Summary

Amid the New Order Amish community of Oakland, Maryland, an unexpected gift of comfort and tender caring can help spark a surprising dream of love . . .

Between raising three grieving children and running a booming business, recent widower Aaron Bontrager desperately needs help—even if it means a marriage of convenience only. He couldn’t be more surprised by his new wife, ebullient Bethel Mast. With an unconventional, joyful sense of purpose, she's starting to turn his house back into a home and bring stability and peace to his children’s lives. And somehow, her gentle understanding is reigniting impossible hope in Aaron's guarded, lonely heart . . .
Bethel never had a fair chance for a home and family of her own. She doesn't want to replace Aaron’s first wife, but she’ll face any challenge to aid him and his children. And she soon finds Aaron’s formidable exterior hides a sensitivity and caring that she’s quietly drawn to. Can Bethel show him that their practical arrangement is blossoming into so much more—and can be the start of a wonderful future together for all of them?
My Thoughts

Loving Mrs. Bontrager by Loree Lough is a heartwarming Amish novel.  Bethel Mast arrives in Pleasant Valley, Maryland to become Aaron Bontrager’s wife.  Aaron has been struggling since the death of his wife to run his business, his home, and to take care of his three rambunctious children.  Aaron’s brother-in-law suggested Bethel to Aaron as the perfect solution.  Aaron made sure that Bethel understood that the marriage is an arrangement only.  Bethel soon restores order to the chaotic Bontrager household.  Her sweet, gentle nature soon begins to make changes on the children’s hearts.  Bethel wonders if Aaron could ever find a way to love her as well.  Loving Mrs. Bontrager is the third book in A Little Child Shall Lead Them series.  While it is part of the series, it reads as a standalone.  Loving Mrs. Bontrager is one of those stories that you do not want to put down.  I started reading it before bed and I found myself staying up late because I did not want to stop.  I thought the characters were developed and realistic.  My heart went out to Bethel and Aaron.  I was amazed at Bethel’s sweet nature considering what she has experienced.  We never know what really goes on inside a family’s home.  We only see what they let us.  In Loving Mrs. Bontrager, we get a peak behind the doors.  The children were great characters as well.  The three kids were so different, but they were similar in their need for love and acceptance.  It was a great touch that the author had the sibling’s bicker.  She made them like real-life siblings.  I wish I could accomplish a fraction of what Bethel managed to get done in a day.  She is a whirlwind who does great things with very little.  I thought Bethel had the patience of a saint.  I do not know how she held her tongue at times.  Loving Mrs. Bontrager is special, wholesome Amish novel with great life lessons.    I had two phrases from the book that I wanted to share.  The first is, “What Englishers—what anyone else thinks—is unimportant.  He is the only being we need to impress.”  The other phrase I wanted to share is, “With the right mindset, a person can accomplish much.”   Loving Mrs. Bontrager is a heartfelt tale with busy boys, a demanding mill, a massive mess, colossal amounts of laundry, a sweet story, a startling lodger, and one good-natured woman.

Loving Mrs. Bontrager can be acquired from Amazon*.  The other novels in A Little Child Shall Lead Them series are All He'll Ever Need  (can be borrowed for free if you are a Kindle Unlimited member) and Home to Stay.  You can find Loree Lough's other novels here.  Thank you for visiting today.  Tomorrow I am discussing Outdoors, Oars, and Oath by Tonya Kappes.  It is the 18th A Camper & Criminals Cozy Mystery.  I hope that you have a sunny 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, June 22, 2021

What a Dog Knows by Susan Wilson

 What a Dog Knows
Book Summary

From New York Times bestselling author Susan Wilson comes What a Dog Knows, another heartwarming novel about humans and the dogs that change our lives.

Ruby Heartwood has spent her life running away. Away from the orphanage where she was left as a newborn, away from those who exploited her, and away from the man who raped her. She ran from child welfare authorities as a runaway and teenage mother. She’s never stayed put. She’s never felt connected. Until now.

Ruby is a psychic, a fortune teller. She has spent most of her life working at street fairs, carnivals, and the odd Renaissance Faire. Of late, her abilities to tell a person’s fortune have been declining. One night she pulls off the road during a violent thunderstorm, sheltering in her Volkswagen Westfalia. At the storm’s height, a bolt of lightning leaves Ruby shaken––and changes her life.

As the storm clears, Ruby finds a visitor sitting outside her van door: a little dog who says, quite distinctly, Let me in. Ruby has woken up able to hear the thoughts of animals, so she adds that to her list of psychic offerings and signs up for the Harmony Farms Farmers’ Market and Makers Faire.

With the little Hitchhiker, her fast friend and her familiar, Ruby finds herself lingering in Harmony Farms. At the same time, she is haunted by dreams that lead her to wonder if she hasn’t been running away all this time, but running toward something––or someone.
My Thoughts

What a Dog Knows by Susan Wilson is a cute story.  Ruby Heartwood is a traveling psychic.  She is looking for her next place to land when a rainstorm hits.  Ruby stops in by Lake Harmony in Harmony Farms for the night where something odd happens during a lightening strike.  The next morning, Ruby can hear someone outside.  It turns out to be a little dog and Ruby is “hearing” him inside her head.  Ruby signs up for the local Farmers’ Market and Markers Faire and adds “pet communicator” to her list of skills.  This is the beginning of a new venture for Ruby where events conspire to keep her from leaving the bucolic town.   What a Dog Knows is well-written with an interesting group of characters and animals. We learn Ruby’s history a little at a time.  I could certainly understand her nomadic existence and her desire to run when the going gets tough.   I loved the descriptions of the charming town. There was a cozy house that I would love to live in.  Ruby being able to hear a dog’s thoughts was intriguing.  I would love to know what my pets are thinking except after bath time.  I thought the author captured the animals’ thoughts and feelings very well.  I enjoyed the chapters from Hitchhiker’s (Ruby’s dog) point-of-view.  I did feel the pacing was a little slow at times, and the story played out in an expected manner.  I still enjoyed reading this sweet story.  What a Dog Knows is a mesmerizing tale with hope, fear, family, courage, friends, romance, and lovable animals.  What a Dog Knows is a relaxing story that is great to read on a hot summer afternoon (preferably while relaxing by the pool).  

What a Dog Knows is out today and can be obtained from Amazon*.  You can find Susan Wilson's other novels here.  I appreciate you joining me today and reading my review.  Do not forget to check out the deals for Amazon Prime Days. You can find them here.  There are new deals throughout the day.  Tomorrow I am featuring Loving Mrs. Bontrager by Loree Lough.  It is the latest book in A Little Child Shall Lead Them series.  I hope that you have a spellbinding 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, June 21, 2021

Edie's Home for Orphans by Gracie Taylor plus Amazon Prime Day!

 Edie's Home for Orphans
Book Summary

On the Home Front, one girl is determined to make a difference.

Edie’s hopes of serving overseas are dashed when she’s sent to be a Land Girl in a sleepy Cumbrian village.

Prue has shut the world out since her son went away to fight. Yet when asked to take in a Land Girl and two little evacuees from London, she has no choice.

Edie’s heart breaks seeing the children’s cold welcome. But when the evacuees take in a stray puppy, even Prue can’t say no.

Edie realises Applefield Manor could become a sanctuary. But can she persuade Prue to open her heart, and her home?

A moving, uplifting wartime story that fans of Dilly Court will love. 

My Thoughts

Edie’s Home for Orphans by Gracie Taylor is a sweet historical novel.  Edie Cartwright wants to do her bit for the war effort, but her health precludes her from joining the WRENs (Women’s Royal Naval Service).  She learns that she can join the Women’s Land Army (become a Land Girl).  Edie is assigned to Applefield Manor in Cumberland where she will work part-time helping Prudence Hewitt’s gardener, Jack and spend the rest of time at Larkstone Farm.  Edie is mystified when she learns that only four people live in such a large home.  Soon, two evacuees join the household much to Prue’s dismay.  The siblings have had a rough time of it and need love plus reassurance.  Edie hopes that the children will help soften Prue’s heart and open the doors to the manor.  All lost strays need a sanctuary.  Edie’s Home for Orphans is a charming, inspirational tale.  It has great characters that include Edie, Prue, Jack, Sam, Tilly, the siblings, and a variety of animals.  I liked seeing the characters develop over the course of the story.  There are good descriptions of Cumberland, and I thought the author captured the feeling of the war especially how everyone wants to help.  I enjoyed learning about the Women’s Land Army.  Food was needed to feed the soldiers as well as those at home.  With the men off fighting, women were needed on the farms.  In Edie’s Home for Orphans, we get to see that there is more than one type of family.  The story does contain some mild foul language (less than ten words). I admit that I prefer the title used in the UK better than the one used in the United States which is Edie's Home for Strays. I enjoyed Gracie Taylor’s debut novel.  I look forward to reading this author’s books in the future.   Edie’s Home for Orphans is a heartwarming, uplifting historical novel.  

Edie's Home for Orphans is available from Amazon*. This is Gracie Taylor's debut novel.  You can follow her on Amazon to receive updates on her latest releases.  Thank you for stopping by today. Don't forget it is Amazon Prime Day.  There are great deals and new ones throughout the day.  Check them out here.  I will be back tomorrow with What a Dog Knows by Susan Wilson.  I hope that you have joyous 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, June 19, 2021

Bridge of Gold by Kimberley Woodhouse

 Bridge of Gold
Book Summary

Repairs on the Golden Gate Bridge Uncover a Century-Old Murder
Walk through Doors to the Past via a new series of historical stories of romance and adventure.
Underwater archaeologist Kayla Richardson is called to the Golden Gate Bridge where repairs to one of the towers uncovers two human remains from the late 1800s and the 1930s. The head of the bridge restoration is Steven Michaels, who dives with Kayla, and a friendship develops between them. But as the investigation heats up and gold is found that dates back to the gold rush, more complications come into play that threaten them both. Could clues leading to a Gold Rush era mystery that was first discovered during the building of the bridge still ignite an obsession worth killing for?
My Thoughts

Bridge of Gold by Kimberley Woodhouse is the third novel in Doors to the Past series.  I thought Bridge of Gold was well-written with developed characters.  It is a time slip novel told from two time periods and from multiple points of view.  It can be confusing in the beginning until you adjust (learn the characters).  I like that we also get the villains point-of-view in both time periods.  It makes the story more intriguing, and I like figuring out the identity of the bad guy.  The author did her research for this book.  She captured the 1930s and the construction of the Golden Gate Bridge.  It was interesting learning what went into making this beautiful and lengthy bridge.  The divers had their work cut out for them with the shifting currents and steep drop off.  I loved the addition of a sunken ship with treasure.  I like how the author tied the past and present together with a satisfying conclusion.  I appreciate it when the author makes sure that there are no loose ends.  I also liked how faith was incorporated into the story.  I enjoyed the descriptions of San Francisco along with those below water.  The authors word imagery allowed me to imagine seeing the treasure ship for the first time along with feeling the excitement.  The romances were clean and the historical one was sweet.  The author expertly weaves together the past and present into one pleasing tale.   Each novel in the Doors to the Past series can be read on its own.  Bridge of Gold is a compelling novel with greed, murder, a buried ship, sought after treasure, faith, and love.  

Bridge of Gold can be purchased from Amazon*.  The first two books in Doors to the Past series are The Lady in Residence and Hope Between the Pages.  You can find Kimberley Woodhouse's other novels here.  Thank you for stopping by today.  I will be back on Monday to share my thoughts on Edie's Home for Orphans by Gracie Taylor.  I hope that all of you have a relaxing weekend.  Take care, be kind, and Happy Reading!


The Avid Reader 

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

Friday, June 18, 2021

Deadly Delights by Laura Jensen Walker

Deadly Delights
Book Summary 

In Laura Jensen Walker's second Bookish Baker mystery, Teddie St. John enters a pie-baking contest. But her chances of winning plummet when she's suspected of killing one of the judges!

August in Lake Potawatomi, Wisconsin, always means one thing: the annual baking contest. Picture The Great British Baking Show, writ Midwestern. It's a huge draw for the upper crust of Wisconsin pastry aficionados. And, of course, bon vivant baker-turned-mystery writer Teddie St. John has a pie in the ring. The white vinyl baking tent boasts an array of folding tables housing each entrant's daily baked good. And at one of those tables sits the corpse of the head judge, his face half-buried in a delectable coconut cream pie.

The body in question belonged to notorious Les Morris. Les may have been getting on in years, but he hadn't outgrown his well-earned reputation for lechery. Now, Les is no more. But unfortunately, by his side lies Teddie's distinctive embossed rolling pin...covered with blood.

It's out of the baking pan, into the oven. A life sentence behind a lattice of prison bars and a tangle of rhu-barbed wire will never do, and Teddie's quick wit and bohemian charm won't save her from the long spatula of the law. So, with the help of her friends, she'll concoct a recipe to clear her name--if the real killer doesn't ice her first.
My Thoughts 

Deadly Delights by Laura Jensen Walker has readers returning to Lake Potawatomi, Wisconsin in August where it is time for the annual baking competition.  Teddie St. John finds herself a murder suspect when her grandmother’s rolling pin is used to murder Les Morris.  With help from her friends, Teddie works to prove her innocence.  Deadly Delights is the 2nd book in A Bookish Baker Mystery series.  It can be read as a standalone if you have not indulged in Murder Most Sweet.  It contains good writing with varied pacing. There are some slow sections due to lack of action.   Most of the activity takes place near the end of the book (the last fifty pages or so).  Teddie St. John is a developed character. Teddie is a cozy mystery writer and baker who has had a double mastectomy.  She chose not to have reconstruction surgery and makes light of her figure.  It is great that Teddie is comfortable in her own skin.  I like that the author is addressing the issue of breast cancer (in a compassionate way) and how a woman deals with the aftermath.  Each woman must choose her own path.  I wish the secondary characters were as fleshed out as our main one.  There are mouthwatering descriptions of baked goods (some of the recipes are at the end of the book including one for Peanut Butter Blossoms).  The mystery starts off on a humorous note with Les Morris being found face down in a contestant’s pie.  There are several good suspects along with misdirection.  I like how Teddie’s friends help to clear her name.  They get themselves into some noteworthy situations that will have readers laughing.  The author decided to add in what Teddie’s dog was thinking which I found odd since this is not a paranormal novel (it just did not go with the book).  I enjoyed the sweet and touching ending that will have readers smiling.  Deadly Delights is a lighthearted cozy mystery with a lecherous Les, sweet treats, caring chums, a ruined rolling pin, and a chocolate cake conundrum.  

Deadly Delights is available from Amazon*.  The first book in A Bookish Baker Mystery series is Murder Most Sweet.  You can find Laura Jensen Walker's other books here.  Thank you for joining me today.   Tomorrow I am featuring Bridge of Gold by Kimberley Woodhouse.  It is the 3rd book in Doors to the Past series.  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.

Thursday, June 17, 2021

Samuel's Return by Susan Lantz Simpson

Book Summary

The first scent of blooming flowers, fresh green fields, and invigorating days of sunshine. A Southern Maryland Amish spring bursts with hope, bright promise--and a practical young widow's chance to try love anew...

With two lively daughters, an active newborn, and a huge farm to tend, Lena Troyer has no time for impossible what-ifs. She just can't let herself be distracted by Samuel Mast's unexpected return. Even though her childhood sweetheart became the man she longed to marry, Samuel never saw or wrote Lena again after his family abruptly moved away. Now a widow, Lena is determined to keep Samuel's helpful ways and irresistible good humor at arm's length--no matter how often he's there when she needs him most...

A restless father with a shameful secret was the reason Samuel's many letters never got to Lena. And it's why Samuel can't bring himself to tell Lena the truth--though he's doing everything he can to regain her trust and prove he's worthy of the resourceful woman she's become. But as a rival for his affections complicates matters, Samuel and Lena must somehow put the past to rest--and believe that faith, honesty, and rekindled love will be more than enough to finally build a family together...
My Thoughts

Samuel’s Return by Susan Lantz Simpson is the 6th novel in The Amish of Southern Maryland series.  It can be read as a standalone.  The book has good writing with relatable characters.  The book moved along at a steady pace for the most part.  There were a couple of slow sections in the middle.  I thought Lena’s girls were delightful.  They were such sweethearts.  I cannot imagine, though, asking a four-year-old to watch after two younger siblings.  I see a lot of responsibility in Mary’s future.  I loved that we get to see Becky Zook (from The Reconciliation) get married and have her baby.  Becky certainly deserves a happy ending as well as Atlee. Bishop Menno was a great character.  He is the kind of bishop a community needs (kind, sympathetic, watchful, clever, good sense of humor).  I loved his reaction to Sarah and her pies. There is humor scattered throughout that I enjoyed.  I laughed often while reading Samuel’s Return.  I did find Lena frustrating at times.  The way she refused to listen to Samuel and kept running from him.  I thought Lena acted immature considering she is a widow with three children (what type of example is she setting for her eldest who is very observant).  I also found the story to be predictable. Samuel trying to woo Lena and Lena avoiding Samuel makes for a long book.  Plus, we know everything our characters are thinking and feeling.  I felt the book needed something else to give it more depth and substance.  Samuel’s Return is a sweet Amish tale.  I did feel it could have been shortened.  Some of the themes in Samuel’s Return are trust, forgiveness, shame, hope, and faith.  Another one is trusting God.  My favorite phrase from Samuel’s Return is, “People kumm in all shapes and sizes.  The Lord Gott made and loves us all.”  Samuel’s Return is a charming Amish tale with children’s clatter and chatter, a frolic with friends, a benevolent bishop, pitiful pies, strong storms, and a lasting love.

Samuel's Return can be obtained from Amazon*.  You can find the other novels in The Amish of Southern Maryland series here.  The Promise (first book in series) is currently $1.99 on Amazon (kindle version).  The Reconciliation (third book in series) can be borrowed through Kindle Unlimited.  You can find Susan Lantz Simpson's other novels here.  Thank you for reading my review today.  Tomorrow I am featuring Deadly Delights by Laura Jensen Walker.  It is the 2nd A Bookish Baker Mystery.  I hope that you have a heartwarming day.  Take care, be kind, and Happy Reading!


The Avid Reader

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

Wednesday, June 16, 2021

Murder at Madison Square Garden by Linda Shenton Matchett: Review & Giveaway!


About the Book

Book:  Murder at Madison Square Garden

Author: Linda Shenton Matchett

Genre: Historical Mystery

Release date: July 15, 2020

The dream of a lifetime becomes a nightmare.

Photojournalist Theodora “Teddy” Schafer’s career has hit the skids thanks to rumors of plagiarism. With any luck, a photo spread with Charles Lindbergh at the America First Rally will salvage her reputation. After an attempted assassination of Lindbergh leaves another man dead, Teddy is left holding the gun. Literally. Can she prove her innocence before the police lock her up for a murder she didn’t commit?

Private Investigator Ric Bogart wants nothing to do with women after his wife cleaned out their bank account and left him for another man, but he can’t ignore the feeling he’s supposed to help the scrappy, female reporter who is arrested for murder at the America First rally. Can he believe her claims of innocence and find the real killer without letting Teddy steal his heart?
Click here to get your copy!

About the Author

Bestselling author of over twenty books, Linda Shenton Matchett writes about ordinary people who did extraordinary things in days gone by. A volunteer docent and archivist for the Wright Museum of WWII, Linda is currently working with the curator to create her first exhibit, Shaped by Conflict that will be on display from May 1 to June 15, 2021. She is a native of Baltimore, Maryland, and was born a stone’s throw from Fort McHenry. Linda has lived in historical places all her life and is now located in central New Hampshire where her favorite activities include exploring historic sites and immersing herself in the imaginary worlds created by other authors.

More from Linda

Dear readers:

I grew up in New Jersey and often went into New York City for school field trips and family visits. One of my favorite places to go was Madison Square Garden. I have lots of happy memories, so I wondered if I could possibly set a book there. I spent a lovely afternoon digging into the building’s past and learning about the important, historic events that took place there. When I discovered that aviator Charles Lindbergh spoke at the Garden about the controversial topic of U.S. isolationism prior to America’s entry into WWII, I knew I had the beginning of a story.

My protagonist came about during one of my shifts as a volunteer docent at the Wright Museum of WWII. While talking to one of our guests about our wartime print and broadcast journalism display, the conversation turned to the role that women played. Therese Bonney was a one of the photojournalists highlighted in the exhibit. As I studied her picture, I was struck by her determination in the set of her jaw and look in her eyes. My protagonist Theodora “Teddy” Schafer was born.

I enjoyed my trip down Memory Lane at the Garden during my research and had fun subjecting Teddy to uncomfortable situations as she tried to prove her innocence. But most of all, I hope her story honors the men and women who served in countless ways during this difficult time in history.

Enjoy Murder at Madison Square Garden.


My Thoughts

Murder at Madison Square Garden by Linda Shenton Matchett has Teddy Schafer, a photojournalist, taking pictures of Charles Lindbergh at an America First Rally.  She notices a man with a gun hidden in the tress and tries to stop him.  Teddy ends up with the gun in her hand when the police arrive on the scene while the shooter disappears.  Teddy is accused of murder and the situation looks bleak.  Private Investigator Richard “Ric” Bogart finds himself helping Teddy after being nudged by God.  They need to follow a trail of breadcrumbs if they are to clear Teddy or come up with a brainchild.  If they cannot crack the case, Teddy will take a powder in a black and white.  This is the first novel that I have read by Linda Shenton Matchett.  I thought the author captured the time-period.  I enjoyed the references to songs and movies from the era along with the clothing.  The lingo a private eye would have used was missing though along with slang.  The mystery was interesting with several good suspects.  I liked the action that kept the story lively.  The chemistry between Ric and Teddy was palpable.  I enjoyed their witty repartee.  The ending of Murder at Madison Square Garden will leave you smiling.  Murder at Madison Square Garden is hot diggity dog with a cute cookie, a dreamboat detective, a glitterati aviator, a killer diller cop, and one dead drip.  


To celebrate her tour, Linda is giving away the grand prize of a $50 Visa Gift Card.  Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click here to enter. Good Luck!  

Murder at Madison Square Garden is available from Amazon*.  You can find Linda Shenton Matchett's other novels here.  Thank you for visiting today.  I will return tomorrow with my thoughts on Samuel's Return by Susan Lantz Simpson.  It is the 6th book in The Amish of Southern Maryland.  I hope that all of you have an inspiring day.  Do not forget to leave a comment for an extra entry.  Take care, be kind, and Happy Reading!


The Avid Reader 

Blog Stops

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, June 15

Book Reviews From an Avid Reader, June 16

The Avid Reader, June 16

Daysong Reflections, June 17

Texas Book-aholic, June 18

Vicky Sluiter, June 18

Inklings and notions, June 19

For Him and My Family, June 20

Blossoms and Blessings, June 20

Betti Mace, June 21

deb’s Book Review, June 22

Blogging With Carol, June 22

Locks, Hooks and Books, June 23

Connie’s History Classroom, June 24

Gina Holder, Author and Blogger, June 25 (Author Interview)

Ashley’s Clean Book Reviews, June 25

A Modern Day Fairy Tale, June 26

Happily Managing a Household of Boys, June 26

Musings of a Sassy Bookish Mama, June 27

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, June 28

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

Tuesday, June 15, 2021

Carried to the Grave and Other Stories by Leslie Budewitz

 Carried to the Grave & Other Stories
Book Summary

In her A Food Lovers’ Village Mysteries, Agatha Award-winning author Leslie Budewitz introduces us to Jewel Bay, a tight-knit Montana community that thrives on tourism and farm-to-table fare. Featuring Erin Murphy, beloved proprietor of the Merc—a century-old general store converted into a local foods market—each book brings us closer to the folks who call Jewel Bay home, and the cunning culprits in their midst.

In this delicious new collection of five short stories and one novella, she takes us further into the heart of Jewel Bay—from the playhouse to the Merc, from funerals to food festivals—with equal parts humor, suspense, and compassion, and no shortage of murder to spice up the menu . . .

In CARRIED TO THE GRAVE, a long-hidden family secret refuses to be put to rest.

Jewel Bay’s community food festival serves up the perfect opportunity for a devious killer with an appetite for murder in POT LUCK.

In THE CHRISTMAS STRANGER, a small gesture by a mysterious man turns out to change lives . . . and much more.

A romantic getaway to a secluded beach town in Mexico provides a deadly remedy for a couple’s trouble at home in A DEATH IN YELAPA.

As the local playhouse opens for the season, it’s curtains for a stage manager with a secret in PUT ON A DYING FACE.

And in AN UNHOLY DEATH, when Kate and Paddy Murphy open Murphy’s Mercantile in 1910, they know making a go of it in rough-and-tumble Montana will be hard work, but for a local preacher, it’s murder.
My Thoughts

Carried to the Grave and Other Stories by Leslie Budewitz contains tales involving the characters from A Food Lover’s Village Mystery series.  Erin Murphy in Jewel Bay, Montana runs the Merc, a local food market.  There are five short stories and one novella in this book.  This is a nice addition to the series. Each storyline ties back to Erin Murphy and/or The Merc.  We get to see how Adam went from friend to husband in this collection.  I especially enjoyed An Unholy Death where we get to go back to the opening of The Mercantile.  I thought the stories were well-written and engaging. We get a chance to explore Jewel Bay and get to know the unique characters (past and present) that reside in the town a little better.  Fans of the series will enjoy these fun mysteries.  You can read all at once or one at a time. Carried to the Grave and Other Stories contains humor, romance, mystery, kindness, and more than a little mayhem.  

Carried to the Grave and Other Stories is available from Amazon*.  You can find the novels in A Food Lover's Village Mystery series here.  You can find Leslie Budewitz's other novels here.  Thank you for visiting today.  Tomorrow I am a stop on the Celebrate Lit Tour for Murder at Madison Square Garden by Linda Shenton Matchett.  I hope that you have a friendly 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, June 14, 2021

The Amish Secret Wish by Laura V. Hilton

 The Amish Secret Wish 
Book Summary 

As a columnist for the The Budget, with a secret byline of GHB, Hallie Brunstettler writes about community news, and sometimes alludes to her overwhelming loneliness. Her columns portray a woman who goes from day to day showing a brave face to the world while longing to know how it would feel if one person truly cared about her....

Hezekiah "Kiah" Esh cares. He's been reading her articles for months. Nursing his own broken heart, he writes to GHB on a whim and is thrilled to receive a response. Soon, the two become pen pals, but his new friend never signs her real name--just her initials. Wanting to meet her in real life, Kiah travels to Hidden Springs, where the newspaper is based. On the way, he meets Hallie, a waitress at the Amish-owned diner, who serves Kiah's pie along with some much-needed companionship. She also discourages him from looking into GHB's identity.

Over the next week, Kiah and Hallie spend more and more time together. Kiah is conflicted... Should he abide by Hallie's advice to forget about his pen pal's identity? But soon Kiah does find GHB, a woman who is as beautiful and kind as he imagined she would be. The only problem? She is Hallie. Why did she keep this secret? And will she ever be willing to share her true feelings?
My Thoughts 

The Amish Secret Wish by Laura V. Hilton is the 3rd Hidden Springs novel.  While it can be read as a standalone, I believe it works better if read after the other two books in the series.  Hallie Brunstetter suffered deeply after losing her fiancĂ©, Toby.  Being the community’s scribe for The Budget has helped her to heal.  She writes under her initials GHB because the bishop has decreed that no one can know her identity.  Kiah Esh suffered a heartbreak as well.  He found himself enjoying GHB’s articles and decided to write to her.  The two have become pen pals.  Kiah has fallen in love with his pen pal and has come to Hidden Springs to find her.  He meets Hallie whom he finds intriguing and begins spending time with her.  Kiah soon wishes that GHB was Hallie.  He is unsure how to proceed.  The Amish Secret Wish is a humorous Amish tale.  I had trouble in the beginning getting into the story.  The beginning felt stilted and that I should know information that had yet to be provided (unless you read the prior books).  The story gets better after the first couple of chapters.  I enjoyed the humorous situations scattered throughout the story.  I giggled frequently while reading.  Kiah got himself into a number of situations that caused chaos.  I did feel that Hallie and Kiah were immature characters.  They reminded me of teenagers, not adults who were contemplating marriage.  I loved Bishop Nathan along with George, Kiah’s parents, Hallie’s parents, and Hallie’s sister, Joy.  The situation with Kiah’s father and Kiah’s ex-girlfriend felt contrived.  I found the ending to be rushed and abrupt.  The Amish Secret Wish needed an epilogue to make it feel complete.  This is a sweet, fun story that is good for a younger audience.  I feel that some rewriting and editing were needed.  I am not, though, sorry that I read this story.  It made me laugh and smile which I needed.   Misconceptions, misunderstandings, and mayhem abound in The Amish Secret Wish.  The Amish Secret Wish is an amusing tale with assassinated ants, a wily woodpecker, a droll disguise, a broken buggy, patient parents, and a wary whippersnapper.  

The Amish Secret Wish is available from Amazon*.  The first two books in the Hidden Springs series are The Amish Wedding Promise and The Amish Christmas Gift. You can find Laura V. Hilton's other novels here.  Thank you for joining me today.  Next time I am featuring Carried to the Grave and Other Stories by Leslie Budewitz.  I hope that you have a pleasant day.  Take care, be kind, and Happy Reading!


The Avid Reader 

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