Friday, July 31, 2015

Brightest and Best

Rain drops keep falling on my head (and body).  The weatherman states we will have more rain this weekend!  Soon I will not need a pool because the backyard will be underwater!

I just finished Brightest and Best by Olivia Newport. The story takes place in Geauga County, Ohio (Seabury) in 1918.  Ella Hilty is twenty-six and still lives at home.  Her mother died when she was a tween.  Her father has just remarried and Ella is no longer needed at home (what a fine how to you do).  Ella, though, has fallen for widower, Gideon Wittmer.  Gideon has three children (Tobias, Savilla, and Gertrude or Gertie).  Ella loves to read.  She goes to the library and checks out an armload of non-fiction books frequently (not supposed to read English fiction novels).  Gideon asked Ella to accompany him to visit the local school.  The teacher, Nora Coates asked some of the parents to visit to see the condition of the school.  Unfortunately, the school starts falling apart while they are inside.  While they are waiting to hear about the building of a new school, Nora gets engaged.  Now they have no teacher and no school.  The local schoolboard superintendent, Mr. Brownley has no intention of building a new school.  He wants to incorporate the children into the new progressive consolidated schools in town.  The children will be bused in to attend school (and take art, music, and other subjects that the Amish do not approve of). 

Margaret Simpson is recruited to help convince the Amish that the new schools are in their best interests.  Margaret is the teacher of first grade at the consolidated elementary school.  Margaret was not acquainted with the Amish ways or customs, which did not help her cause.  When Mr. Brownley is not happy with Margaret’s slow progress, he takes matters into his own hands.  The Amish are going to have to fight for what is best for their children.  Ella gets caught up in the middle since she is the most educated Amish person in their area.  If Ella does end up teaching the children, will she be able to get married?  What sacrifices are Ella, Gideon, and the rest of the families willing to make for the sake of their children and their beliefs. 

Brightest and Best brings up an interesting topic—Amish education.  The Amish only believe in educating their children through the eighth grade (which is just wrong).  I started reading this book and did not want to stop.  It is very engrossing.  Olivia Newport fictionalized the account of the Amish fight to educate their children the way they wanted.  She provides some great information at the end of the book (the actual history).  I give Brightest and Best 5 out of 5 stars.  This book captures your attention from the very beginning and holds it until the last page.  Olivia Newport did a wonderful job writing this book.  I think Brightest and Best is her best book yet!  I have only given a small summary of what happens in the book.  There is also a compelling mystery (which is easy to solve), romance, influenza epidemic, and a female carpenter (unusual for this time period).  Brightest and Best will be out on August 1, 2015.  If you enjoy Amish fiction, you should love this book!

I received a complimentary copy of Brightest and Best from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.  The review and opinions expressed are my own.

I hope everyone is staying dry and safe.  I hope you have a lovely evening and  a fabulous weekend!  Enjoy and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader

London From My Windows

Happy Friday!  Here in Dunedin, Florida it is pouring rain again. When my dog, Doozy had to go outside, I opened the back door, he stuck his head out, saw rain, and pulled his head back in.  He was not going outside!  I do not blame him one bit.  I would love to see him in a rain coat with little galoshes on his feet though!  I would need to get them in extra large since Doozy is such a big dog.  Do children wear galoshes any more?  I disliked them when I was a kid.  Somehow I always ended up with wet feet and my shoes were always stuck inside them (the kind where you put the rain boots on over your shoes).  My mother even had us where them in the snow.

London from My Windows by Mary Carter was an unusual novel.  It begins with Ava Wilder dancing with her father.  They go out dancing along the sidewalk when her father drops dead from a heart attack.  Her mother, Gretchen, clutches her husband and tells her daughter that she killed him (she was upset and grief stricken).  Ava feels that she has murdered her father and is very angry.  At first Ava believes that if she is very good, her father will return.  Then she starts acting out until the day she will no longer leave her bedroom.  The one person she wants to see is her Aunt Beverly (her father’s sister).  The one person who Gretchen (the mother) will not contact or talk to is Beverly (the reasons come out later in the book).  Nineteen years later Ava lives in her own home, but she rarely leaves it.  She has severe agoraphobia.  Ava has black sheets over every window in the house.  She does sketches for the local police department (for an income), but they usually come to her.  The day she has to go to the police department, she has to be blind folded, medicated, a trash bag over her head, and bodily hauled out (she carried trash bags with her like they were blankies).  Then she hears from Jasper Keyes.  Jasper is her Aunt Beverly’s barrister (lawyer).  Beverly Wilder was an actress who recently passed away from cancer.  She left her West End flat in London to Ava.  But in order to inherit, she has to live in the flat for one year and visit a list of sites around London (within 90 days).

Ava decides to go to London (after talking with her psychiatrist) because she has to get away from her mother.  Ava is heavily medicated for the flight and has to be wheeled through the airport (in a wheelchair after she is found hiding in a custodian’s closet).  No one believes that Ava will be able to complete the list.  If Ava does not meet all the conditions of the will, the flat will go to Beverly’s best friend, Queenie (a fun loving drag queen).  With help from Jasper, Queenie, and Queenie’s fun friends, Ava starts to enjoy life again.  Will Ava be able to leave the flat and visit all the sites on the list before the deadline?  Can she get over her agoraphobia? 

London from My Windows contains a lot of internal dialogue from Ava.  It goes on and on for pages.  The one thing I did like about the novel was how it highlighted that all disabilities are not physical or can be seen.  The way it was handled, though, was more like a bad comedy routine.  I kept at this book until I finished it, but I did not really like it.  The writing was okay, but the novel was not pleasant to read.  I really got sick of Ava’s internal monologues and constant panic attacks (she even got them when people came over to the house or flat).  I give London from My Windows 2 out of 5 stars.  It was just not my cup of tea.  This novel contains an extreme amount of foul language (even from a child).  

I received a complimentary copy of London from My Windows in exchange for an honest review.  The review and opinions expressed are my own.  

I was just looking out my bedroom window.  I think I could actually take a small boat and travel down my street.  I hope everyone has a lovely and dry afternoon!  Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader

Thursday, July 30, 2015

No Place to Hide

Well, I did not get to the grocery store.  By the time I finished a few things, it was pouring rain.  I do not drive in the rain (hard to see in the rain and I am not the best driver in the rain).  I guess I will go tomorrow (can you tell I do not like grocery shopping)!  Instead, I will finish reading my book!

No Place to Hide by Susan Lewis tells the story of Justine Cantrell and what happened to her family.  The book starts out in present day with Justine and daughter, Tallulah (prefers Lula) arriving in Culver, Indiana.  They are starting over in a new place, new last name, and new country.  Justine felt she had to get away and start over.  She picked the city where her grandmother used to live before she passed away and where Justine spent a couple of summers when she was young.  Her husband, Matt is still living in England. 

The book then goes back eighteen years to tell how Justine and Matt met.  We get to find out how they find the perfect home in Chippingly Vale (in the UK) and started their family.  Justine and Matt had a little girl named Abby and a son named Ben.    Lula was not born until the other two children were teenagers.  Matt is a writer whose books ended up being turned into video games.  Justine started a deli and then a catering company.  Things started going wrong after Ben hit his head on the ground getting out of a tree (he was coming down at the same time as Abby).

The story tells of the families’ great tragedy and the long road to recovery.  You have to read through half the book before we find out about the tragedy (you will guess what it is while reading the book).  I did not enjoy reading this book.  I like to read books for pleasure and this was like watching a news special (those hour long specials on news events).  The writer takes forever getting to the actual event (just when you are ready to chuck the book across the room).  The story was very long and protracted.  I give No Place to Hide 2 out of 5 stars.  It is a very depressing book (do not read this on a rainy day or you will really be in the dumps).  Also, there is a lot of foul language in the book.

I received a complimentary copy of No Place to Hide from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.  The review and opinions expressed are my own.

I am off to eat dinner and do a little reading.  Have a lovely, relaxing evening, stay dry, and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader

A Deceptive Homecoming

I just finished two great books that I want to tell you about.  The first one is The Girl Who Ignored Ghosts by K.C. Tansley which will be out tomorrow.  The second book is Brightest and Best by Olivia Newport which will be on August 1.  I will post my reviews of these books as soon as I write them!

A Deceptive Homecoming by Anna Loan-Wilsey is the fourth book in the Hattie Davish Mystery series.  Hattie Davish has returned to her home town of St. Joseph, Missouri for the funeral of her best friend’s father.  Virginia “Ginny” Hayward and Hattie went to school together at Mrs. Chaplin’s School for Women.  Hattie was devastated when she lost her father and wanted to be there for Ginny.  Hattie is a traveling secretary to Sir Arthur Windom-Greene and will return to Newport, Rhode Island after the funeral.  When Hattie sees the body of Frank Hayward, she knows that it is not Frank.  She tries to tell Ginny, but she refuses to listen (she is also very cold and distant towards Hattie).  Then Hattie receives an anonymous note written in an outdated shorthand.  It asks Hattie to help.  Hattie knows it is about Mrs. Chaplin’s school.  There have been several incidents at the school and no one seems to know who is behind them.  Someone set a fire, stole pages from textbooks, destroyed champagne at a party, and embezzled money from the school (these are just a few of the incidents).  Hattie wants to help Mrs. Chaplin find the culprit behind these occurrences.

Then Hattie happens upon Mrs. Bertha Yardley.  She is looking for her husband, Levi.  When Hattie sees a picture of Levi Yardley, she notices that he could be Frank Hayward’s twin (except for the nose).  Hattie could see how Levi could have been mistaken for Frank since the face had been damaged in the accident.  Looking for Levi leads Hattie to the State Lunatic Asylum (the last place Hattie wants to visit).  Hattie’s father died in the asylum and it brings back bad memories for her.  Dr. Cyrus Hillman (who also treated Hattie’s father) was Levi’s doctor.  He claims that Levi escaped from the asylum and has not been found.  Dr. Hillman is not being completely forthright with Hattie and Mrs. Yardley.  Hattie is determined to find out who was in the coffin and what Dr. Hillman is hiding.  Hattie believes that Dr. Hillman contributed to her father’s death and the truth will be beneficial to Hattie (she will be free to move on with her life).

Hattie’s employer, Sir Arthur has asked Hattie to do a little research while she is in town (it’s not like she is doing anything else), and her beau, Walter (a doctor) would like a souvenir from the Jesse James’s house (where he was shot).  Hattie is going to be very busy while in St. Joseph.  She will have to keep her wits about her to solve the crimes (especially since someone seems to be following her).  A Deceptive Homecoming can be read without reading the first three books in the series, but there are references to incidents and people (from the other books) that are not completely explained.  Hattie’s beau, Walter is mentioned several times throughout the book, but we never get his last name or other details about him (except he is a doctor).  I found Hattie to be a contradictory character.  One minute she is strong, nosy, and determined, and then she is fainting, scared, and wanting to go home.  We are also never told what year it is in the book.  I am guessing it is around 1890 or later from the descriptions of clothing, hat, behavior, etc.  I give A Deceptive Homecoming 3 out of 5 stars (my rating for okay).  I think there is too much in this book.  The mysteries were child’s play to solve.  All the mysteries relate to each other, but it can get very confusing (with all the people and details).   

I received a complimentary copy of A Deceptive Homecoming from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.  The review and opinions expressed are my own.

I appreciate you stopping by and reading my latest review.  I am currently reading Made with Love by Tricia Goyer and Sherry Gore.  I am off to the grocery store.  Take care and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Murder at Barclay Meadow

I want to tell you about a new cozy mystery that will be coming out in October.  Murder at Redwood Cove by Janet Finsilver is the first book in a new series.  I am looking forward to reading it.  It is available for pre-order on Amazon.  

Murder at Barclay Meadow by Wendy Sand Eckel is a cozy mystery set in Cardigan.  Rosalie Hart does not know what to do with herself now that she does not have a daughter and husband.  Her daughter is now at college and has gotten her to open up a Facebook account.  Her husband, Ed has fallen in love with a younger woman and wants a divorce.  Rosalie decided to move to Barclay Farm that she inherited several years ago.  Ed wanted her to sell the farm, but it is a part of her family’s history.  The Cardigan River runs behind her two hundred year old home.  While walking along the river one day, Rosalie finds the body of a young woman. 

The young woman is Megan Johnston who was a college senior at John Adams College.  She was wearing a black cocktail dress and had her Vera Bradley backpack on her back.  When the incident is ruled an accident, Rosalie starts looking for answers (she just knows there is no way it was an accident).  Sheriff Joe Wilgus is not happy with Rosalie’s involvement.  He is a mean, nasty, and a bully.  He warns Rosalie to leave the case alone (you know she will keep investigating).  Megan gets help from the students in her memoir writing class that she is taking at John Adams College.  Glenn Breckinridge, Tony Ricci, and Sue Ling help Rosalie get answers.  They call themselves the What Ifs (and set up a Facebook group).  They start by looking at her Facebook page (Sue is good at hacking) and her life on campus.  Dr. Nicholas Angeles is the psychology professor at the college, received a big grant (to study sex), and he was having an affair with Megan.  Rhonda Pendleton is a friend of Megan’s parents and her daughter was a friend of Megan’s.  Rhonda also had an affair with Megan’s stepfather, Bill.  Bill Johnston, Megan’s stepfather, was very controlling and kept a close eye on Megan.  Then there is the stalker as well as the college president.  Who wanted Megan dead and why?

Rosalie also has to deal with her husband, Ed and the divorce.  Ed decides he wants Rosalie to sell the farm and freezes all their bank accounts as well as their credit cards (good thing she has some money from her aunt).  Their daughter, Annie is not handling the news of the divorce very well and Ed is unhelpful (unless it benefits him).  One day Tyler Wells stops by the house.  He used to rent the farm land from Rosalie’s Aunt Charlotte (Rosalie neglected the farm after her aunt’s death).  Tyler would like to rent the fields again.  Tyler also gets hired as Rosalie’s handy man (the house needs work).  They soon start spending a lot of time together.  Rosalie, though, needs to get over her ex-husband, Ed before she can have a future.

Murder at Barclay Meadow was a good book, but not great.  I found Rosalie to be very wishy washy (especially concerning her husband and daughter).   Who would want to go back to a man that said he no longer loved you?  I really disliked the character of Sheriff Joe Wilgus.  I hope he will not be in future books.  I liked the mystery in the book (though it was a cinch to solve) and the What Ifs.  I could have done without the Facebook chats, but that is very much a part of our society.  I give Murder at Barclay Meadow 3 out of 5 stars (which means it was okay).  If there is a next book in the series, I will give it a try to see if the writer has improved.  The series has possibilities it just needs a little work.

I received a complimentary copy of Murder at Barclay Meadow from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.  The review and opinions expressed are my own.

I am going to go eat dinner and read my book.  I hope you have a relaxing evening.  Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader

Harry Plotter and the Chamber of Serpents

I think my dog is regressing.  We have had Doozy a year now.  He had not torn up anything in over six months, and then bam!  He is attacking my dolls again (I collect Raggedy Ann's).  I do not know what has gotten into him.  He has a nice big backyard to run around in, lots of toys, and playmates (I have not been able to walk him since I injured my shoulder).  I hope he settles back down soon! Doozy is such a sweetie otherwise.  I am sharing  a review of a tween novel today (or for those young at heart).

I just finished reading Harry Plotter and the Chamber of Serpents by M.J. Ware.  Austin Winters is thirteen years and from America.  He is in England with his father.  His father is with the Diplomatic Corp. and has a new job at the American Embassy in London.  Austin received a letter via owl about Hogworts School of Magic and Mystery.  Austin loves magic tricks and likes the idea of learning more tricks.  When his father and secretary start talking about schools, Austin convinces his father (he did not need a lot of convincing) to send him to Hogworts.

Austin arrives at the school thinking that all the unusual things he is seeing is part of a magic act.  After the singing hat puts him in Slipperen House, Austin passes out.  Smape, head of Slipperen, thinks Austin is a Muddle until Headmaster Dumblesnore tells him otherwise.  Smape gets to tell Austin that magic is very real.  Harry had arrived without any supplies and has to use what is in lost and found.  As soon as he touches the wand he picked, he feels something and there is a spark.  Turns out that Austin is a second year student and he has to catch up on all the first year lessons (very quickly).  Want to guess who gets to tutor him?

Harry Plotter is the boy who lived and has a reputation as being stuck up as well as full of himself.   Along with his friends, Ronald Weasely and Hermione Danger (she is portrayed as stuck up at the beginning and does not like to help people in Slipperen house). 

I liked getting a different take on the story.  It contains a lot of the same scenes from Harry Plotter and the Chamber of Serpents, but scene through the eyes of Austin.  The names of all the main characters have been changed (Dumblesnore, Smape, Ravenbeak).  It also gives us an explanation for how Harry came to have the sorting hat and sword in the chamber to defeat the Basilisk.  We also get a different viewpoint on the teachers and Dumblesnore (the headmaster).  I wish the author had not taken so much from the Harry Potter books (and make Harry out to be a snob).  It is a cute book, but not fantastic (not of the caliber of J.K. Rowling).  I give Harry Plotter and the Chamber of Serpents 3 out of 5 stars.  I think young children (tweens) would get a kick out of reading this book with its American viewpoint.  Harry Plotter and the Chamber of Serpents is currently free on Amazon.

I received a complimentary copy of Harry Plotter and the Chamber of Serpents from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.  The review and opinions expressed are my own.

I have to do some binge reading the next few days. I have seven books to finish for August 1 (it was eight, but I finished one early this morning).  Wish me luck!  I am currently reading The Girl Who Ignored Ghosts by K. C. Tansley.  I hope everyone had a great day and has a lovely evening.  Take care and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

In the Drink

It took me a while, but I came up with something positive to say about the rain!  Pulling weeds is much easier with the ground so wet from the rain (not the best, but it is positive).  I went to get the mail and found a package on the front porch.  As you can probably guess it was sopping wet from the rain (I do not know when it arrived).  It was important papers from the mortgage company and they are just mush (came in a cardboard envelope).  I need to get some type of big water proof mailbox for the front porch! Somewhere for the delivery people (UPS, Fedex, and the mail carrier) to put packages (I think it is a good idea).
In the Drink by Allyson K. Abbott is the third book in the Mack’s Bar Mystery series.  Mackenzie “Mack” Dalton has grown up in Mack’s Bar.  Her mother died before she was born (was kept in a coma until Mack could be born safely) and she was raised by her father.  Her father has been gone almost a year.  Mack has just finished expanding the bar and adding a games room as well as a room for the Capone Club (a group of bar patrons that like to solve mysteries and crimes).  Mack has been dating Duncan Albright a cop she met a year ago.  However, since it came to light that she helped with his last case, Mack has not seen much of Duncan.  Duncan got to keep his job, but he is not allowed to consult with Mack. 

Mack has synesthesia.  It is a neurological disorder where her senses are cross-wired and her senses are highly acute (she can smell things that others cannot).  Mack is also good with math and letters.  Mack and Duncan make a good team (Duncan is good with deductive reasoning).  Mack, though, just received a threatening letter.  She has to solve the clues in the letter without help from the police or someone she knows will die.  Mack with help from the Capone Club as well as Duncan and a new friend, Malachi O’Reilly set out to follow the clues from letter to letter.

In addition, the Capone Club is working to solve the twelve year old case of two missing girls (Lori Gruber and Anna Hermann).  Lori Gruber was the sister of club member Tiny Gruber.  Tiny (whose real name is Jurgen) wants to find out what happened to his sister.  He needs closer.  The group will have their work cut out for them to solve this cold case and keep ahead of the killer.

In the Drink was a fun cozy mystery to read.  One thing that I did not like, though, was that the mystery of the letters was not solved in this book.  We have to wait until the next book for answers.  The murder mystery of Lori Gruber and Anna Hermann was a cinch to solve, but it was a good mystery.  I liked Mack’s unique disorder.  The author did a good job describing it and I like how the character uses her disorder (skill) to solve crimes.  I give In the Drink 4.5 out of 5.  This is the third book in the series, but can easily be read as a stand-alone book (it reviews the information from the previous two books).  The first two books in the series are:  Murder on the Rocks (currently $2.99 on Amazon) and Murder with a Twist (which is currently $1.99 on Amazon).  

I received a complimentary copy of In the Drink from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.  The review and opinions expressed are my own.

So many wonderful books and so little time to read them!  I am currently reading London from My Windows by Mary Carter.  Have a lovely evening and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader

Drape Expectations

Happy Book Release Day!  I love waking up and finding new books on my Kindle (such a wonderful invention).  I also woke up to a little sunshine after it poured all night (like we needed more rain).  One of our hibiscus trees is actually leaning over and coming out of the ground from all the rain (home ownership is not for the weak).  What is it like in your area?

I just finished reading Drape Expectations by Karen Rose Smith.  It is the fourth book in the Caprice De Luca series.  Ace Richland has asked Caprice to do him a favor and stage the home of his girlfriend, Alanna Goodwin.  Ace and Alanna are going to move in together.  Caprice agrees because Ace is a friend (though she knows Alanna is going to be very difficult).  Alanna’s house is very southern and stuffed to the gills.  She objects to every change Caprice wants to make to the house.  During the open house, Caprice notices that Alanna is off having a discussion with Len Lowery, the keyboard player in Ace’s band.  What are those two discussing?  It is the second time Caprice has seen them together.

Ace is getting ready to go out on tour, but he is having to replace one of the band members who just quit.  Then two of Ace’s best guitars are stolen from his mansion (the locked room).  Only someone close to Ace could have gotten into that room and stolen the guitars.  Then some original songs are also stolen.  It seems like someone is trying to sabotage Ace’s tour.  When Caprice goes over to Alanna’s one day, no one answers the door.  Since the door is open, Caprice (of course) goes in.  She finds Alanna dead.  Since, unfortunately, Ace is a prime suspect, Caprice has to investigate to clear his name.

Caprice looks into who stood to inherit Alanna’s vast estate.  Alanna’s will divided her estate into three parts.  One third went to Alanna’s sister, Twyla Horton.  One third goes to charity.  The last third of the estate goes to Archer Ford.  Archer claims to be the illegitimate son of Alanna’s first husband, Barton.  Barton refused to have a DNA test done or to acknowledge Archer.  Alanna never felt that it was fair to Archer (there is also a rumor of Alanna having an affair with Archer)!  Of course, there are many people that did not like Alanna.  She was pleasant in front of Ace, but Alanna could be a viper. Alanna owned a beautiful cat, Mirabelle whom she treated horribly (kept her in a little closet with no food, water, or bed).  Since Twyla is allergic to cats, Caprice agrees to take care of her.   There is a long list of suspects for Caprice to wade through and figure out who really killed Alanna Goodwin. 

Caprice also has to deal with her love interests, Seth Randolph and Grant Weatherford.   Seth is a doctor who took a job in another town.  Caprice has not seen him since the Valentine’s Day dance.  Grant has yet to ask Caprice on a real date, but Caprice has strong feelings for Grant.  Grant is finally ready to start dating again when Seth shows up.  Caprice needs to make a choice.  Who will Caprice pick?

Drape Expectations was an excellent book!  I could not put this book down.  The author did a great job with the mysteries (the guitars and music as well as Alanna’s murder).  I especially loved how Karen Rose Smith handled the murder mystery (she actually made me doubt myself).  You will have to be very clever to figure out who killed Alanna Goodwin.  I was glad that Caprice finally makes a choice between her two loves interests.  Drape Expectations has fun, lovable characters, a fantastic mystery, cute animals, and romance.  I give Drape Expectations 5 out of 5 stars.  The rating is well deserved for this superbly written book. The next book in the series is Silence of the Lamps.  It will be out in May 2016.  The first three books in the series are:  Staged to Death (currently $1.99 on Amazon), Deadly Decor (currently $1.99 on Amazon), and Gilt by Association.

I received a complimentary copy of Drape Expectations from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.  The review and opinions expressed are my own.

Karen Rose Smith will be hosting a special event on Facebook tonight in honor of Drape Expectations.  If you get a chance, check it out.  I hope you have a lovely and dry afternoon!  Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader

Monday, July 27, 2015

Killer Jam

You can see Blossom the cow.  She is an escape artist!

I saw a beautiful cardinal in one of our bird feeders this afternoon. It was the female (colors not as vibrant).  I believe they have a nest nearby.  My mother loves cardinals.  You should see all the different items she has in her room with cardinals on them!  Before I start dinner, I wanted to share this review with you. 

I just finished the first book in a new series called Killer Jam by Karen MacInerneyThe series is called Dewberry Farm Mystery series.  Lucy Resnick has bought Dewberry Farm which used to belong to her grandparents (they had to sell it fifteen years ago).  Lucy was a report in Houston until the paper had to downsize.  Lucy is going to earn money with making candles, jam, making cheese, and selling produce.  She has acquired one cow that she named Blossom.  Blossom is less than cooperative.  She likes to dump full buckets of milk and has turned out to be an escape artist (the seller failed to mention this to Lucy). 

Lucy is using her Grandmother Vogel’s recipe book for making the jam and other delights from her garden (and orchards).  Lucy can swear she smells violets on occasion (which was her grandmother’s scent) but that cannot be possible.  One day Butch Simmons from Lone Star Explorations show up at Dewberry Farms.  Evidently, Lucy does not own the mineral rights to the land (only surface rights).  The real estate agent failed to disclose this to Lucy upon purchase.  The owner is asserting her rights to land (even though she has owned it for fifteen years) and they are going to start digging up Lucy’s new vegetable beds.  The owner of the mineral rights is Nettie Kocurek.  Nettie is a woman who always gets her own way no matter what she has to do.  She has ruled the town and her daughter, Flora with an iron fist. 

They are getting ready to announce the winner of the Founders Day Festival Jam Off when a scream rings out.  Nettie Kocurek is dead in the jam tent with a bratwurst skewer to the heart (you knew she was going to be killed).  Sheriff Rooster Kocurek (he is a relation to Nettie) has decided that Lucy is the killer (without any evidence).  Lucy will have to investigate to prove herself innocent.   Then Lucy stumbles upon another body which provides just the right clue she needs to solve the murders.  If she can just prove it before the sheriff arrests her for both murders.  Lucy would really like to stay out of jail since she has just started dating Dr. Tobias Brandt, the local vet.

Lucy’s friend, Quinn Sloane is experiencing some troubles from her ex-husband.  Jed, the ex-husband, is extremely violent especially when he is drunk.  Can Lucy keep Quinn safe from Jed (you know the sheriff is not going to help)?  Then there is the mystery of an old murder from the 1940’s.  A newspaper blew down from the loft in the barn (there were no open windows and no breeze blowing).  It tells about a murder that was never solved.  Lucy works on finding out what really happened back in 1940 and how it impacts the life of a certain town member.

Lucy is up to her next in trouble!  She will have to work hard to keep herself out of jail and on Dewberry Farm.  Can Grandma Vogel really be haunting Dewberry Farm or is it someone else?  Check out Killer Jam to find out!  I enjoyed Killer Jam (I read it straight through).  The murders (all three of them) were simple to solve (maybe I have read too many mysteries), but I enjoyed following the clues.  I give Killer Jam 5 out of 5 stars.  I liked the characters and the humor in the book.  I also loved the paranormal element (or the possibility of a ghost)!  I look forward to the next book in this series. Killer Jam will be out on Tuesday, July 28 and is available on Kindle Unlimited.

I received a complimentary copy of Killer Jam from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.  The review and opinions expressed are my own.

Thank you for stopping by and reading my review.  Tomorrow I will share my reviews of In the Drink and Drape Expectations. Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader

Lorie's Heart

My yard is a giant mud puddle (well, since we have sand and not dirt, I guess it is a sand puddle)!  There has just been too much rain. It is impossible to keep the floor clean near the back door (we rarely use the front door).  We have not had this much rain in over ten years.  It is normal to have an afternoon shower (usually around 3 p.m.) every day during the summer, but not this constant rain. I see some sunshine, and I am hoping it will last for a little while. I wanted to share a review of a lovely Amish novel today.

I just finished reading Lorie’s Heart by Amy Lillard.  It is the third book in the Wells Landing Romance series.  Lorie Kauffman’s father, Henry just passed away.  Lorie was very close to her father and is having a hard time dealing with his death especially after she notices a notice on his chest (when she goes to identify the body with her step-mother).  Lorie’s step-mother, Maddie, is less than cooperative.  Then Lorie goes through a box of belongings given to them by the police.  In it is a wallet with a driver’s license.  Lorie is even more confused when the license has her father’s picture on it but the name Henry Mathis.  Lorie is even more determined to find out more about her father and his secrets.

Lorie convinces Luke Lambright (a young man who left the Amish to become a race car driver) to take her to the address on her father’s license.  It leads them to Sundale Retirement and Assisted Living Center.  There Lorie finds a grandmother she never knew about.  Betty Mathis is in the early stages of dementia and Alzheimer’s.  Lorie also meets Zachary Wayne Calhoun.  Zach works part-time at the center while he was finishing college (he just graduated).  Zach is instantly attracted to Lorie and wants to get to know her better.  Lorie starts coming to the center regularly to get to know Betty and, hopefully, find out more about her father.  Lorie’s stepmother forces Lorie to start taking baptism classes in order to join the Amish church.  Lorie is not sure she wants to join.  She would have to give up her painting (which she has been doing in secret for many years) and marry Jonah Miller (a man she has been seeing since she was eighteen).  Will Lorie find the answers she seeks?  Will she decide to join the Amish church or jump the fence?

You will have to read Lorie’s Heart to find out!  Lorie’s Heart is a lovely book and I thoroughly enjoyed reading it.  It may be the third book in the series, but it can easily be read by itself.  I give Lorie’s Heart 5 out of 5 stars.  It is a book that can be read in an afternoon (especially if it is raining).  It is well-written and engaging. Lorie's Heart will be out on Tuesday, July 28, 2015.  The next book in the series will be Just Plain Sadie (about Lorie's step-sister).  Just Plain Sadie will be out on March 29, 2016.  The first two books in the series are Caroline's Secret and Courting Emily (both books are currently $1.99 on Amazon).

I received a complimentary copy of Lorie’s Heart from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.  The review and opinions expressed are my own.

Thank you for visiting and reading my latest review.  I am currently reading A Deceptive Homecoming by Anna Loan-Wilsey. Have a great afternoon and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader

Sunday, July 26, 2015


I hope everyone is having a delightful and relaxing Sunday!  I was being with laundry, cooking Sunday dinner, feeding the cats and dogs, cleaning up dinner, and so on.  It seems that no matter how much cleaning a person does there is still more to do!  We need cleaning robots!  I just read about a hotel in Japan that utilizes robots.  The doors open with face recognition (since robots cannot chase down keys).  They are using the robots to cut down on the cost of the hotel rooms.  It was an interesting article.

Sight by Juliet Madison is the first book in The Delta Girls series.  Savannah Delcarta is almost sixteen years old and has an aneurysm in her brain that needs to be removed.  The surgery goes well, but Savannah is left in a coma for two months.  Just before she wakes up, Savannah feels a strange sensation (like bubbles rising through her body) and then she gets a vision of a scene at the beach.  Savannah awakens to find her four sisters surrounding her.  Savannah is a triplet.  Thankfully, they are not identical (their poor mother).  There is Sasha (six minutes older than Savnnah) and Serena (two minutes older than Savannah).  In addition they have two older sisters:  Talia and Tamara (twins). 

A few months later they are moving into their new home at 3 Roach Place (what an awful name for a street).  Their mother, Rose decided they needed a new start and moved them to a new town (near the beach).  The girls are at the beach and a volleyball game is in progress.  They all gasp at the same time.  Just before Savannah woke up, this was what she saw.  Turns out that all the girls had a similar sensation and vision (sort of).  Each girl received a different sense (the five senses—see, taste, smell, hear, and touch).  After some experimenting, the girls figure out how their new gifts work.  There have been fires set around the town, but the police cannot figure out who is setting them.  When the girls start seeing visions about the fires, they try to solve the case.

Savannah gets her first boyfriend in the boy across the street.  His name is Riley Pearce and he plays volleyball.  He is being raised by his older brother since the death of his parents.  Riley has a lot anger inside over the death of his father.  He believes his father killed himself.  Savannah, in addition to the visions, starts seeing ghosts.  The first one is Riley’s father.  Will Riley believe her or push or her away?  Savannah can help Riley come to grips with his father’s death and move on with his life.  Savannah will also get a chance to help her own family when she sees a familiar face (a ghost, of course). 

I give Sight 3 out of 5 stars.  It is an interesting story, but I think the author could have done so much more with the girls abilities (maybe she will since this is the first book in the series).  The book contains the requisite teenage romance with its ups, downs, and misunderstandings.  I did not understand why the girls were not more curious to explore their abilities at the beginning or how their mother could be so oblivious.  I think the series has possibilities and it will be interesting to see what the author does. This novel will appeal more to young adults and teenagers. The next book in the series is scheduled to come out in October.  

I received a complimentary copy of Sight from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.  The review and opinions expressed are my own.

Please have a nice, relaxing evening.  I do appreciate all of you that take the time to read my book reviews.  Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader

Hugo and Rose

Happy Sunday!  The beginning of another week!  The year is just flying by so quickly.  When I was younger, time seemed to pass very slowly.  I have been a bit of a reading binge this weekend. Since it just keeps raining, it is the perfect time to relax and enjoy some good books!

Hugo and Rose by Bridget Foley is a weird (I’m sorry, but the word fits) contemporary novel.  Rose has been dreaming about Hugo since she was six years old and injured in a bicycle accident.  She has been dreaming of him and the island for the last thirty years.  Rose is now married to Josh, a surgeon, and they have three children:  Adam, Isaac, and Penelope.  Rose has shared her adventures on the island with the boys (they like the stories).  Rose is tired of her life and unhappy with the way she looks (she has gained weight, forgets to shower, shave, or change her clothes).  She does not consider her problems “real problems” but she is tired and frustrated.  Rose loves her husband very much, and she knows, even though he is very busy, that he loves her and their children.  However, the only things Rose wants to do is sleep so she can dream of Hugo. 

One day she takes the kids through an Orange Tastee for some food and she sees a man who looks like her Hugo.  She stalks him for weeks before finally approaching him.  He is the Hugo from her dreams.  Hugo cannot believe that Rose is real.  He has books of drawings and recently he had begun doing comic books of their adventures on the island.  Seeing Hugo in real life is starting to change their dreams.  Rose seems drawn to Hugo and Hugo wants to spend time with Rose (they are obsessed).  Rose neglects her children and sort of “check out” of real life.  She finally tells Josh and he does not believe her when she tells him about real life Hugo.  Josh is a guy who only believes in reality (a scientist) until he sees irrefutable evidence.  Rose tries to stay awake and avoid Hugo.  She loves her family and wants to do what is best for them.  Then things get really strange as the dream world and reality collide.  With Rose avoiding Hugo, Hugo decides to take matters into his own hands.

I did not enjoy reading Hugo and Rose.  The book describes their dreams at length (childish dreams of pink beaches, strange monsters, and trying to get to the Castle City).  The idea of two people seeing each other in their dreams is good, but the way it was carried out was not.  Rose has a wonderful husband (I found him irritating, but he did love her), but all she does is whine, complain, and lie to the poor guy.  I found real life Hugo very creepy.  Hugo and Rose was not my type of book (which is okay).  That is why there are so many different books on the market.  Different books appeal to different people.  I give Hugo and Rose 1.5 stars.  

I received a complimentary copy of Hugo and Rose from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.  The review and opinions expressed are my own.

I finished Killer Jam by Karen MacInerney last night.  I will post a full review soon.  I am currently reading Murder at Barclay Meadow by Wendy Sand Eckel.  Have you read a good book recently?  I would love your suggestions.  Have an enjoyable Sunday and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader

Saturday, July 25, 2015

In Good Company

The squirrels were happy to see me this afternoon.  We have these glass bird feeders outside (like a bird bath only with chains to hang in tree) and they were full of water from the rain.  As soon as the feeders were filled, the birds and squirrels came out to eat!  I enjoyed watching the squirrels in the tree from my kitchen window. They were scrambling up and down the tree enjoying the sunshine (and food)!

In Good Company by Jen Turano is the second book in A Class of Their Own series.  Millie Longfellow is nanny who carries a dictionary in her apron pocket (for when she needs to look up a word she does not know) and frequently gets fired.  It is really not her fault that she gets fired.  She is a good nanny and does what it is in the best interest of the children (it is the adults who never listen). 

Everett Mulberry has been guardian to his three godchildren for five months and they have gone through over a dozen nannies.  The only nanny available is Millie.  Everett knows about Millie (through his friend Oliver and his fiancĂ©, Harriet).  Everett’s finance, Caroline Dixon is ready to depart for Newport, Rhode Island for the summer and she insists that Everett hire a nanny immediately.  Everett hires Millie (she manages to get a good fee too).  Millie’s methods are unorthodox, but they work (she tied the children to chairs, but they tied her up first).

You just know the trip to Newport is not going to go smoothly.  When Millie beats Caroline at tennis (and then accidently whacks in the head with the ball), Caroline sets out get rid of Millie.  Unfortunately for Caroline, Everett will not fire Millie.  The kids are taken with her and are finally starting to settle down.  When Everett’s parents arrive at a very inopportune moment, things look a little hopeless for Millie (again).  But Everett’s parent take a shine to Millie and work with Abigail Hart (Millie’s friend and patron) to do a little matchmaking (as well as changing out her whole wardrobe).  Then Lucetta Plum shows up in Newport.  Lucetta is an actress (with high morals) and very beautiful.  She is a little unorthodox though.  Abigail has some matchmaking plans for Lucetta, but they are put on hold (for book three).  With Abigail, Everett’s parents, Lucetta, and the children working on getting Everett and Millie together, it is going to be a fun summer (Millie and Everett’s resistance is futile).  If they could just get rid of Caroline!  Caroline is a very determined woman.  She is used to getting her own way and she wants Everett (even though she does not love him).  Will Everett be able to change his snobbish ways and see what a wonderful life he could have with Millie and the children?

In Good Company was just a delight to read!  I read it in under three hours (between midnight and 3 a.m.).  Jen Turano captured my interest right away and held it until the very last page.  I give In Good Company 5 out of 5 stars!  I cannot wait until the next book in the series (with Lucetta Plum).  If you are looking for some romance, mystery, and laughs, than In Good Company is the book for you!  While this is the second book in the series, it can be read as a stand alone.  After a Fashion is the first book in the series.  

I received a complimentary copy of In Good Company from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.  The review and opinions expressed are my own.

Thank you so much for stopping by and reading my latest review. I just finished reading Lorie's Heart (loved it).   Have a wonderful evening and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader

The Invention of Wings

After another night of rain, the sun is shining!  Who knows for how long!  We have not had this much rain in years.  The yard is very soggy.  The dogs do not want to go out in it especially our littlest dog, Tuxxe.  He does not like getting his paws dirty.  Wolfie and Doozy get their paws wiped when they come inside (otherwise we would have mud all over). Doozy loves to try and run past me into the house to avoid getting his paws cleaned.  He thinks it is funny to go and jump on my bed!  

The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd is a remarkable historical novel.  The book starts out in February of 1805 in Charleston, South Carolina.  Hetty Handful Grimke is ten years old and a slave in the Grimke household.  Her mother is Charlotte and the seamstress of the house.  Sarah Moore Grimke is turning eleven years old and is leaving the nursery.  She is finally getting her own room and her mother is giving her a “waiting maid” as a present.  Handful (as Sarah calls her) is Sarah’s new maid.  Sarah is against slavery and does not want to own a slave.  She tries to refuse, but her mother will not back down.  Sarah is very intelligent. She loves to read and learn (not what she is taught at the girl’s school, but what her older brother teaches her).  Her father has reluctantly given her access to his library (she loves to read books on mythology, law, history).  Sarah is a very unusual girl for her time.  Sarah’s draft up manumission paper for Hetty, but her parents destroy them.

Sarah rebels by teaching Hetty to read.  They get up to 100 words before they are discovered.  Sarah no longer has access to the library and Hetty gets the whip.  Hetty’s mother, Charlotte, is always pushing the boundaries.  She steals small items (and usually no one notices), she found a way to sell her sewing work (since the missus would not give permission) and earn money, and is dallying with a free black man in town (when she is supposed to be buying material).   Is she setting the right example for Hetty?

Sarah at one point gives her ownership of Hetty back to her parents.  Hetty then becomes the assistant seamstress in the house and turns out to be even better than her mother.  Sarah spends a lot of her time helping to raising Angelina or Nina.  Sarah had requested to be the child’s godmother (which she got despite her mother’s misgivings).  Sarah raises Nina in her image (strong, determined, rebellious, and very intelligent).  When Sarah’s father becomes very ill, Sarah takes him up north to see a specialist (her mother wanted her out of the house).  Sarah gets to experience a different way of life and likes it.  After her father dies, Sarah delays returning home as long as she can.

When Sarah returns home, she is not happy.  She finds her way to a Quaker settlement in the north (where she does not quite fit in).  Sarah is determined to find a way for her voice to be heard.  The book tells of how Sarah as well as Nina fight for abolishment of slavery as well as rights for women.  We get to see how Hetty rebels in her own way as she grows up.  The Invention of Wings is a complex novel, but very enjoyable.  I was not sure I would like this book and I ended up riveted.  I give The Invention of Wings 4.5 out of 5 stars.  Please be aware that there are some scenes that go into detail on slave punishments (especially the one involving a rope and a foot).  The Invention of Wings is a well-written and deeply moving novel.  I will definitely be reading more books by Sue Monk Kidd.

I received a complimentary copy of The Invention of Wings from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.  The review and opinions expressed are my own.

I am currently reading Lorie's Heart by Amy Lillard (it is very good).  Have a fun and relaxing Saturday!  Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader