Sunday, January 31, 2016

The Restaurant Critic's Wife

Are you having a great Sunday?  I hope it is at least a relaxing one. Did you know it is Backwards Day?  You should do everything backwards today or get creative.  Try writing things backwards or putting your shirt on backwards.  It is a popular day with young children (as you can imagine).  I am clumsy enough when doing things the right way.  I would probably break a limb if I tried to do anything (especially walking) backwards.

The Restaurant Critic’s Wife by Elizabeth LaBan is an unusual novel.  Lila Soto is pregnant with her second child.  Lila, Sam (her husband), and Hazel (their three-year-old daughter) have just moved from New Orleans to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  Sam has the chance to do his dream job—be a food critic!  Sam and Lila met with Lila was in New Orleans for Addison Hotels and Resorts and Sam was doing research for an article on gumbo.  When Sam saw a job opening at the Philadelphia Record for a food critic, he applied.  Lila had to give up her job in order to relocate with Sam.  They are moving into a suburban neighborhood called Colonial Court where the mothers stay home and take care of their kids.  This will be a new experience for Lila. 

Sam is immediately wrapped up in his new job and experiments with ways to hide his identity.  He also wants Lila to make sure not to tell anyone what he does (actually he would prefer it if she stayed in the house and did not associate with anyone for fear of exposure).  Will Lila be able to cope with two kids, a new home, and Sam’s wacky behavior?  Lila is going on a new journey and she will have to find a way to cope (and move forward).

I did not find The Restaurant Critic’s Wife to be an enjoyable novel.  It was a little weird (and boring).    I believe the book is supposed to be humorous but the writer did not pull it off.  One thing I did not get is if Lila never wanted to be a stay-at-home mom, why did she have kids (Lila loves working and wants to continue to work)?  This book was lacking (like a good plot).  I got tired of hearing about Lila’s everyday life (getting up, her wardrobe, breast feeding the baby), Sam’s attempts at disguises and how he does not pull them off (that was actually the only funny part in the book), their many neighbors (I could not keep track of them), and the many food descriptions (the author described every food item they ate).  I did not like any of the characters.  Lila is someone who does not know what she wants (she really should have decided before having two kids) and Sam who is very childish and selfish.  Sam was so obsessed with keeping his identity a secret.  I wanted to know why he did not write the reviews under a pseudonym (of course, then there would not be a book).  It was just an odd book.  I give The Restaurant Critic’s Wife 2 out of 5 stars (I did not like it). 

The Restaurant Critic's Wife is available on Kindle Unlimited.  I received a complimentary copy of The Restaurant Critic’s Wife from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. 

I am off to get dinner and then watch Downton Abbey and Mercy Street. Enjoy the rest of your weekend.  Take care and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader


It is the last day of January.  The month went by so quickly.  It is Inspire Your Heart with Art Day! When people look at art we get a reaction.  We like it, dislike it, do not understand it, etc.  There are some works of art, though, that grab you and touch your heart.  We are celebrating that type of art today.  You can also think about creating an art piece for someone you love.  Valentine's Day is quickly approaching.  You can create a personal piece of art to touch the heart of the person you love.  The first daytime network television soap opera debuted on January 31, 1949 on NBC.  It was titled These Are My Children.  It started the daytime soap opera trend that would last for over 60 years (to be replaced by idiotic talk shows about a child's paternity and cheating spouses).  I thought this was an interesting tidbit.  In 1747 the first venereal disease clinic opened in London Lock Hospital!  The Thirteenth Amendment abolishing slavery was passed by Congress in 1865.  It was the sent to the states for ratification.  Other historical events are 3M begins marketing Scotch Tape in 1930, the first McDonald's in the Soviet Union opens in Moscow in 1990, and Avatar becomes the first film to gross over $2 billion worldwide.  

Earnest by Kristin Von Kreisler is set on Gamble Island, Washington.  Anna and Jeff are looking to adopt a dog.  They go to the Seattle’s Second Chance Shelter to check out their selection.  They see Earnest (well, his name is listed as Moonbeam).  He is a beautiful wheat colored Labrador Retriever.  He was found tied to the shelter’s doorknob (poor little thing).  Earnest is a great addition to the family.  Earnest goes to work with Anna during the day to her flower shop called Plant Parenthood.  Her shop is housed in a beautiful Victorian home that she lived in with her grandmother when she was a child.  After her grandmother’s death, the home was sold.  Anna and her two friends, Joy and Lauren (who also have shops in the house) are saving up to buy the gorgeous home from their landlady Mrs. Blackmore (who they called Mrs. Scroogemore).  One day a fire breaks out in the house, but thanks to Earnest everyone made it out.  Earnest, though, suffered some damage from the smoke and is rushed to the vet.  When Anna calls Jeff to tell him about Earnest, she finds out that he is working to tear down her beloved Victorian (he is actually down the street turning in paperwork for the permits).  Anna does not understand why Jeff did not tell her about the Cedar Place project (she had to hear about it from his office assistant).  Anna does not even want to hear Jeff’s side of the story.  Anna asks Jeff to move out.  This leads to a custody battle over Earnest.  As well as a fight for Anna’s beloved Victorian.  Can Jeff and Anna work out their differences?  What will happen to Anna’s Victorian house?  How will Earnest get his owners back together again?

Earnest is a cute novel, but I thought it a little over the top (the feud over the Victorian home).  I give Earnest 3 out of 5 stars (which means it was okay).  I have to admit to skimming a little through the middle (during Anne’s thinking periods).    My favorite character was Earnest (sounded like such a cutie and smart cookie).  Earnest was the dominant character in the book.  Earnest is an easy book to read (the author has a nice writing style) and can be finished in a couple of hours.  I just thought everything was a little exaggerated and the story was basically frustrating (because of a lack of communication).  Earnest is a simple story.  I just felt it lacked depth.  The novel felt more like a rough draft than a finished book.

You can follow Kristin Von Kreisler on Amazon.  You will then receive updates on her latest releases.  I received a complimentary copy of Earnest from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

I hope everyone is having a nice, relaxing Sunday (I am).  The book I am currently reading is Marked Masters by Ritter Ames (not enjoying it). Take care, stay safe, and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader

Saturday, January 30, 2016

A Scone to Die For

It is National Inane Answering Message Day!  Ever receive a stupid message (meaningless, stupid, a prank call) on your voice mail or answering machine?  Today is the day to talk about it and make fun of it!  On this day in 1933 Adolf Hitler was sworn in an Chancellor of Germany (a very bad day in history).  The Beatles' last public performance took place in London (on the roof of Apple Records) on this day in 1969 (it was an impromptu performance). The performance was broken up by the police!  Unfortunately, the other events that happened on this day dealt with war and death. We do not need more of that!  Actress Vanessa Redgrave was born on this day in 1937.  Ms. Redgrave currently does the voice of Jenny Lee on Call the Midwife (that we hear at the beginning and end of the show).  

A Scone to Die For by H.Y. Hanna is the first book in an Oxford Tearoom Mysteries.  Gemma Rose (age twenty-nine) has left her executive job in Sydney (that she disliked) to open Little Stables Tearoom in Meadowford-on-Smythe (her hometown in Cotswold near Oxford).  Gemma has hired her best friend, Cassie to wait on the tables and has a great chef named Fletcher.  One day a rude American comes for tea (he actually touched Cassie’s butt and thought it was okay to do it).  The next day Gemma comes to work to find Brad Washington (the rude American) dead in her courtyard outside the tearoom.  There is one of the tearoom's scones stuffed into his mouth.  Who killed him and why did they have to leave him there?  Gemma sets out to find the killer with the help of the "Old Biddies" (four elderly ladies that have their nose in everyone's business).  When Professor Geoffrey Hughes is killed (went to college with Brad), Gemma knows the cases are related.  Can she find the killer?

A Scone to Die For is a satisfactory cozy mystery.  We are not given clues that help solve the mystery until just before the killer is revealed.  The mystery is very good, but I like trying to solve the crime as I read the book (don't we all).  I felt that there was too much romance in this book.  Gemma's old boyfriend, Devlin O'Connor is the inspector assigned the case.  They have not seen each other in eight years.  However, Gemma gets jealous when Devlin questions a beautiful suspect (there is also much admiration of Devlin's looks--goes on and on).  There were also some puzzling items.  Like Gemma wanting to call Devlin but does not know his number (but he called her a couple of times).  Also calling the library to get information in the newspaper archives (has she not heard of the internet).  I give A Scone to Die For 3 out of 5 stars.  Be aware that the novel contains British spelling of words (does not detract from novel).  Some of the desserts (i.e.—sponge is a thin cake) mentioned are not what we are familiar with here in the United States (unless you watch the British Baking Show).  I just felt A Scone to Die For was a superficial novel.  There is not enough information on the characters and too much information on Devlin’s good looks.

A Scone to Die For is available on Kindle Unlimited.  The next book in an Oxford Tearoom Mysteries is Tea with Milk and Murder.  I received a complimentary copy of A Scone to Die For from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

I hope everyone is having a great Saturday.  I have to admit that I took it easy today.  I am reading No Ordinary Life by Suzanne Redfearn.  I am going to go eat dinner and be lazy!  I hope you have a great evening. Take care and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader

P.S.--on February 19 I will be doing a review of Kim Vogel Sawyer's new book Room for Hope and I will be giving away a copy of the book! Make sure to stop by and check it out.

Friday, January 29, 2016

Bradstreet Gate

It is National Puzzle Day!  This day honors all types of puzzles (crossword, number, Soduku).  I have to admit that I love puzzles (the type you put together).  I even have a special table set up for me to work on them.  There are so many gorgeous and unique puzzles available (I love the type with uniquely shaped puzzle pieces).  Edgar Allen Poe's The Raven was published on this day in 1845 (great poem).  Kansas becomes the 34th state in 1861 and the first inductees to the Baseball Hall of Fame are announced in 1936. 

I just finished reading Bradstreet Gate by Robin KirmanBradstreet Gate is basically the story of three people who go to Harvard University and what happens to them after college.  We get to follow the story (or lives) of Georgia Calvin (daughter of famous photographer), Charlie Flournoy (son of a working class man), and Alice Kovac (of Serbian descent and very odd).  At Harvard Rufus Storrow is a professor of Law and the Colonial State.  He is the charismatic, dynamic man who attracts the young college students and has affairs with them.  Julie Patel, another student, is murdered and Professor Storrow is suspected of the crime.  Ten years later no one has been convicted of the crime.  The school is having a reunion and there will be a dedication to Julie.  The story goes back and forth to tell what happened while they were at Harvard and what happened to them after they left college. 

Bradstreet Gate is a strange novel.  I was extremely disappointed.  It sounded interesting, but it is definitely not (if you think there is a mystery in this novel, you are wrong)!  I did not like any of the characters (they are not the type of people you want to know).  The book came across as pretentious and the author liked to use big (my father calls them ten dollar words) words.  The book has a lot of foul language and explicit sex scenes.  I got to the end of the book and was confused.  The book felt unfinished (incomplete).  The ending is horrible and made me feel like the whole novel was just pointless (I am very sorry but I am just being truthful).  Bradstreet Gate is just a telling of these people’s uninteresting lives.  I give Bradstreet Gate 1 out of 5 stars (I really did not like it). 

You can follow Robin Kirman on Amazon to get updates on her books.  I received a complimentary copy of Bradstreet Gate from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. 

I bet everyone is glad it is Friday!  The last weekend in January.  I am currently reading The Restoration by Wanda E. Brunstetter (it is very good).  Thank you for stopping by and reading my review.  I hope you have a great Friday!  Take care (stay warm) and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Home to Cedar Branch

Happy National Kazoo Day!  The kazoo was conceived by Alabama Vest from Macon, Georgia in 1840.  Alabama had Thaddeus Von Clegg (German clockmaster) make/carve it for him to his exact specifications. Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice was published in 1813 on January 28!  Other events that happened on this day:  Northwestern University becomes the first chartered university in Illinois in 1851, in 1915 an Act of Congress creates the United States Coast Guard, the space shuttle Challenger exploded shortly after liftoff in 1986 (with the first teacher in space on board), and Elvis Presley makes his first television appearance in 1956 (filmed only from the waist up because of his swiveling hips).  

Home to Cedar Branch by Brenda Bevan Remmes is a Quaker Café novel (second book in series). The book starts in March of 1994.   Katy Devine is married to Hank, her abusive husband and has two children, Savannah and Dusty.  Katy is getting sympathy (euphemism) from Dr. Lawrence Attwuld in one his exam rooms when nosy kids fall from a tree (they were peaking in the exam room) and through the skylight right into the exam room.  People (staff and patients) rush into the room and they see Katy and Dr. Attwuld in all their glory.  The news quickly spreads through the town (gossip spreads quickly in a small town).  Katy takes her two children and hides before her husband returns home (he is a trucker).  Hank, the abusive husband, returns to town (he is a trucker and was on the road.  His brother, Ray, radioed him to tell him the news) and starts looking for Katy.  When he cannot find Katy, he goes after Dr. Attwuld.  When Dr. Attwuld opens his front door, Hanks shoots him. 

Do to the scandal (the affair and shooting), Katy decides to move back home to Cedar Branch and live with her brother, Sam.  Sam (he is a crop duster) and the residents of Cedar Branch welcome them with open arms. Katy gets a job at the Quaker Café in town.  But there will be a few bumps in the road for the family (the trial, a potential lawsuit, and, of course, Hank and his evil brother, Ray).  The town of Cedar Branch will be there to help them.  Read Home to Cedar Branch to find out what happens.

Home to Cedar Branch is a sweet novel.  I enjoyed everything except the ending.  Home to Cedar Branch is easy to read and interesting (can you imagine kids falling through while you are having illicit sex).  Home to Cedar Branch can easily be read without having enjoyed the first book in the series.  The book has a good pace until near the end when it slows down.  I give Home to Cedar Branch 3.5 out of 5 stars (it was a 4 until I read the ending). 

Home to Cedar Branch is available on Kindle Unlimited (you can try it for free for thirty days). The first book in the Quaker Cafe Novel series is The Quaker Cafe.  You can follow Brenda Beven Remmes on Amazon to get updates on her latest releases. I received a complimentary copy of Home to Cedar Branch in exchange for an honest review.

It has been a rainy twenty-four hours in my area (just keeps raining).  Perfect day to stay in and read!  I am currently reading An Amish Market (four novellas by four authors).  I hope you have a good Thursday.  Drive carefully, stay dry, and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

The Silver Suitcase

Can you believe it is Wednesday?  Happy Chocolate Cake Day!  Not red velvet, no yellow, no rainbow!  Just chocolate (dark, milk, semi-sweet, German, fudge)!  If you enjoy (devour) chocolate cake, then this is your day!  I will celebrate the day with a Hershey Bar (my current addiction)!  I (the world's pickiest eater) do not like cake (or pies, turnovers, danish, etc.).  I told you I was picky!  In 1785 the University of Georgia was founded.  It was the first public university in the United States.  Thomas Edison receives his patent for the incandescent lamp in 1880.  Birthdays include Donna Reed (1921--actress), Bridget Fonda (1964--actress), and Jerome Kern (1885--American Composer and Songwriter).  

The Silver Suitcase by Terrie Todd intriguing novel.  Cornelia Faith Simpson is eighty-four years old when she passes away.  She leaves behind her daughter, Grace Gladstone and her granddaughter, Benita Gladstone.  Benita was particularly close to her grandmother and will miss her dearly.  They are cleaning out her house when Grace mentioned the silver suitcase to her daughter.  She believes it will be helpful to her and suggests she take it home and look through it.  The silver suitcase is actually a trunk that Cornelia kept her favorite treasures in along with her diaries that she started when she was twelve years old.  These diaries are just what Benita needs. Benita is going through a rough time.   Her husband, Ken is out of work (and not going out and looking for a new job), Benita’s employers pass away (and she may be out of a job), and now the loss of her grandmother.  Benita starts reading the diaries and embarks on a journey.

Cornelia started writing diaries at age twelve after her mother passed away.  She wrote about her everyday life, her worries, and her secrets.  The novel takes us back to 1939 in Roseburn, Manitoba Canada when Cornelia is seventeen.  Cornelia had to quit school after the ninth grade because she was needed at home to take care of her father and brother.  That summer she meets Henry Roberts and they fall in love.  Unfortunately, war is declared and Henry insists on enlisting.  Henry is killed in a train accident on his way to Halifax (where he was boarding a ship for England).  Cornelia had quit believing in God when her mother died and this just makes things worse.  But then an angel shows up.  Read The Silver Suitcase to find out how this visitation forever changes Cornelia life and the lives of her descendants.

The Silver Suitcase was a slow starter (and a little confusing) but I ended up liking the novel (more than I thought).  The Silver Suitcase is well-written and very interesting.  In the beginning it jumps around a little going from generation to generation (or person to person).  After a while I got used to it and the novel just flew by.  I especially loved the epilogue.  It was my favorite part of the book.  We get to see how Cornelia’s diary affected other people and their lives.  The Silver Suitcase is a Christian novel with many scripture references (not just a historical novel).  I give The Silver Suitcase 4 out of 5 stars (I liked it).

You can follow Terrie Todd on Amazon to get updates on her books.  The Silver Suitcase is available on Kindle Unlimited (if you are a member or you can try it for free for thirty days).  I received a complimentary copy of The Silver Suitcase from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

I am currently reading The Case of the Missing Morris Dancer by Cathy Ace (at least I am trying to read it).  It has been a rainy night and day in my area.  My dog, Doozy dislikes the rain and will not go out in it unless he is desperate (I do not blame him).  This rain is bringing in more cold weather (hooray).  Have a good day, stay warm (and dry), and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Louisiana Saves the Library

Happy Spouse's Day!  It is a day to celebrate and appreciate your significant other!  Not so much with gifts, but with love.  Now on this day in 1998 Clinton denies his affair with Monica Lewinky (we all knew he was lying).  The Phantom of the Opera opens on Broadway in 1988 (longest running musical on Broadway).  Tennessee enacts the first prohibition law in 1838.  The first demonstration of the television was done in 1926 by John Logie Baird.  Libby Lane becomes to first woman to be ordained as a bishop by the Church of England (which was created by Henry VIII).  These are just a few of the events that happened on January 26 in history!

Louisiana Saves the Library by Emily Beck Cogburn is a fun book to read.  Louisiana Richardson (aka Louise) is a newly divorced woman with two young children (her husband asked for a divorce about three months after the birth of their second child).  Louise moved to St. Jude, Louisiana about a year ago with her two children to accept an academic position in the Library Science Department at Louisiana A&M.  Louise is having trouble making ends meet on her salary and with the child support she receives from her ex-husband, Brendan (when he sends it).  Then come the budget cuts.  Louise and her friend, Sylvia Jones are both laid off from the college.  Sylvia finds the two of them jobs at the Alligator Bayou Parish Library.  It will be the first time either of them have worked in a public library (they have always preferred academia). 

Alligator Bayou Parish Library stopped evolving sometime in the late 80s.  The library is seriously behind the times.  Mr. Foley Hatfield, the library director, spends his days in his office updating his goat breeding site (and some online gambling).   Mr. Hatfield is not interested in bringing the library into the modern age (with DVD’s, CD’s eBooks, a young adult room, etc.) and make it more a part of the community.  Louise and Sylvia decide to drag the library into the twenty-first century (despite the opposition from Mr. Hatfield and Mrs. Gunderson—a big wig in the town who would like to see the library closed).  Louise and Sylvia have their work cut out for them, but they are more than up to the task.  Louise also has to deal with her ex-husband, Brendan.  Brendan (aka Mr. Critical) is getting married to Julie (young and rich).  He is also moving to St. Jude.  Just what Louise does not want (would make me want to flee). Can Louisiana save the library and keep her sanity?

Louisiana Saves the Library is an entertaining book.  I just described a couple of the things that happen in this book.  It is a little over-the-top at times, but overall an enjoyable read.  The characters are interesting and what you would find in a small, Southern town.  The only thing that really bothered me was Louise’s constant complaints about her children (they are out of control).  Being a single mother can be very difficult, but the constant complaining (whining) was too much.  I wish the author had provided a little more information on some of the characters (some characters we only get a first name or a last name for example).  There are also some abrupt transitions between scenes which leads to confusion.  One moment we are with Louise and then someone else (but you could not tell at first).  I did like the ending.  It was sweet and wrapped up the story nicely.  I give Louisiana Saves the Library 3.5 out of 5 stars.  I did like the programs for the library that are mentioned in the book.  The author included some clever ideas to bring patrons to the library.

Louisiana Saves the Library came out today.  You can follow the author, Emily Beck Cogburn on Goodreads to get updates (on her releases, answers to reader questions, etc.).  I received a complimentary copy of the book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

I am currently reading Beyond the Orphan Train Series by Arleta Richardson.  It is a children's, Christian series.  It is a busy television night tonight.  Why do they put all the good shows on one night?  The Flash, Chicago Fire, Chicago Med, Limitless, Pretty Little Liars (do not judge), and Shadowhunters are just a few of the shows on tonight.  I hope all of you have had a great day (or at least a decent one).  Take care and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader

Monday, January 25, 2016

Lights, Camera, Murder!

Weekends just seem to fly by!  Happy Opposite Day!  This day could lead to a lot of confusion if it was widely celebrated.  This day is mostly celebrated by younger children (elementary school age). A teacher can make a good lesson out of this day. Now for a little bit of history. In 1924 the first Winter Olympic Games opened in France!  Nellie Bly, journalist and adventurer, finished her 72 day trans-global journey that was inspired by the book Around the World in 80 Days.  Thomas Goldsmith, Jr. filed for the world's first video game patent in 1947 (the beginning of the downfall of our society).  In 1949 the first Emmy's award ceremony is held.  A children's show ventriloquist won the first Emmy.  These tidbits are helpful on trivia nights!

Lights, Camera, and Murder by Marie Celine is the second book in the Kitty Karlyle Pet Chef Mysteries.  Kitty Karlyle is a gourmet pet chef in Los Angeles, California.  She makes meals for the pets of the very wealthy and famous (she does meals for all types of pets including pigs).   Kitty is getting ready (reluctantly) to film a pilot for a new cooking show called The Pampered Pet for CuisineTV at Santa Monica Film Studios.    After filming the pilot, Kitty looks for the producer, Gretchen Corbett to see how she liked the show.  Unfortunately for Kitty, she finds Gretchen face down in her office with one of Kitty’s knives in her back.  Kitty is shocked at her discovery.  Then the security guard comes along and thinks she murdered Gretchen (she is standing over the body).   The police are called and one of them is Kitty’s fiancé, Jack Young.  Kitty is a suspect and she does not like being in the hot seat.  Kitty with the help of her new friend (and roommate), Fran Earhart (who is loud, flamboyant, and can be a wee bit annoying) sets out to find the killer.  Kitty will have to work quickly before she is arrest for the crime or the killer decides she is a nuisance.  Kitty also has to deal with her jealously of Jack’s new boss, Lt. Elin Nordstrom (a goddess according to Kitty).  Can Kitty keep her fiancé from falling for another woman while keeping herself out of jail?

Lights, Camera, Murder is the second book but it can be read as a stand-alone.  It is a cute story, but a little too silly (and sometimes unbelievable) for me.  For a reader who likes silly humor, this is the book for them.  The mystery is child’s play to solve (the author gives it away).  The writer tries to lead us on a merry chase on a search for the killer, but none of them make sense (or are logical).  I wish the murder had not occurred so early in the book (it makes for a long book).  There are a couple of references (ambiguous or incomplete) to the first book (Dishing Up Death) in the story, but they do not detract from the reading of the book.  I did not like most of the characters (they are too over the top).  Kitty is immature (and has a big jealous streak) for a business woman.  I think the characters lacked depth.  We are only given superficial information on the main people in the story.  I give Lights, Camera, Murder 3 out of 5 stars (it is okay).  The idea is good, but the final product just needs a little more work.

The first book in the Kitty Karlyle Pet Chef Mysteries is Dishing Up Death. I received a complimentary copy of Lights, Camera, and Murder from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

I am currently reading Joshua's Mission by Vannetta Chapman.  I am off to the grocery store.  The cats are out of food (again).  Have a good day, stay safe (and warm), and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Kingdom Come

Happy Compliment Day!  This day was created in 1998.  It is important to give someone a compliment today (a sincere one)! There has to be something nice (complimentary) you can say about your loved one, sister, brother, child, or parent.  On this day (January 24) James Marshall found gold in Sutter's Mill (near Sacramento) that starts the Gold Rush. The first Boy Scout Troop is organized in 1908 in England by Robert Baden-Powell.  The first Apple Macintosh goes on sale in 1984!  Did you know that the actor Ernest Borgnine (1917-actor), Neil Diamond (1941-singer), Mary Lou Retton (1968-gold medal gymnast who is the second female gymnast to get 10s), and Tatyana Ali (1979-actress and singer) were born on this day?

Kingdom Come by Jane Jensen is An Elizabeth Harris Mystery set in Paradise, Pennsylvania (Lancaster County).  Elizabeth Harris is a detective with Lancaster City Bureau of Police.  She moved back to Paradise eight months ago after living in Manhattan for ten years (working on NYPD).  Elizabeth’s husband was murdered, and she needs to get away from the memories (and have a quieter life).  Detective Lieutenant Mike Grady calls Elizabeth out to a homicide in an Amish barn.  A young woman (scantily dressed) was killed in Amos Miller’s barn (actually dumped in the barn) and Jacob Miller (age 11) found her when he came to do chores.  Elizabeth and Mike partner up to solve the case.  Elizabeth’s boss (and Mike) believe that a non-Amish person committed the crime.  Elizabeth is not so sure, but she has no concrete proof or a good lead.  Then a second girl (Katie Yoder) who was missing turns up dead.  Katie Yoder is an Amish teen who has been missing for a while.  Are the two girl’s deaths connected?  Elizabeth sets out to find the killer within a tight knit community.  One of the suspects, Ezra Beiler turns out to be very attractive and Elizabeth feels a connection with him.  Will Elizabeth let her feelings get in the way of solving a case?

Kingdom Come is not what I expected.  It starts off very slow and is hard to get into (it does get better).  There is foul language (too much of it and it is not needed), lust, and sex.  I felt that the romance between Elizabeth and Ezra developed too quickly and it seemed to go against Ezra’s beliefs (it just did not feel right).  The mystery in Kingdom Come was very easy to solve (child’s play).  I felt that the killer was so obvious.  I kept hoping for a twist, but I did not get one.  Kingdom Come needed some polishing which would have made it a better book.  I give Kingdom Come 3 out of 5 stars (which means it was okay).  It was a good first book in a series, and I hope the next one will be much better. 

The next book in An Elizabeth Harris Mystery series is In the Land of Milk and Honey.  It is set to be out on August 2, 2016. I received a complimentary copy of Kingdom Come from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

I am currently reading The Girls in the Woods by Helen Phifer (excellent book).  I hope all of you have a glorious and warm Sunday evening! Downton Abbey is on tonight as well as the new show Mercy Street. Take care and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader

Saturday, January 23, 2016

After She's Gone

I hope everyone is having a lovely Saturday!  I have a feeling many of you are staying inside where it is warm (it is in the 50s here in Florida)!  I do not blame you one bit!  Today is National Pie Day! If you like pie, today is the day to indulge!  It is also Measure Your Feet Day (who knows why someone created this day).   Children get their feet measured when they get new shoes, but I cannot think of another reason to measure your feet!  Can you?  Ready for some history (the answer is yes).  In 1957 Wham-O introduced the Frisbee.   It was originally invented by Walter Morrison, a WWII pilot.  He sold them on Santa Monica Beach as Pluto Platters!  In 1571 the Royal Exchange opened in London (it is now retail shops and restaurants).  In 1855 the first bridge over the Mississippi River opened in what is now considered Minneapolis (crossing made today by Hennepin Avenue Bridge).  Elizabeth Blackwell is awarded her M.D. in 1849 by Geneva Medical College in Geneva, New York.  She is the first woman to become a doctor in the United States!  Also, Duke Ellington played at Carnegie Hall for the first time in 1943.  There were some interesting events on January 23 in history.

After She’s Gone by Lisa Jackson is the third book in the West Coast series.  Cassie Kramer and her younger sister, Allie grew up with a famous mother.  Their mother, Jenna Hughes was a famous actress.  When she was a child, Cassie (and her mother) had a horrible incident with a crazy (and very dangerous) fan.  Cassie still has issues with it to this day.   However, that did not stop Cassie from moving to Hollywood to try her hand at acting.  When her sister, Allie turned eighteen, Cassie encouraged her to join her.  Allie was an instant success (with some help from their father).  They are filming (actually filming it again) a scene for Allie’s latest movie Dead Heat, when Allie turns up missing.  When Cassie ends up being the number one suspect, she checks herself into a psychiatric hospital in Portland, Oregon.  One night Cassie gets a visit from someone dressed like an old-fashioned nurse (with the cape and nursing cap).  The person tells Cassie that her sister is still alive (was she visited by a real person or was it a hallucination).  Cassie checks herself out of the hospital the next morning and sets out to find her sister (she thinks she is the only person who can find her).  Will Cassie be able to find her sister? 

After She’s Gone sounded like a great novel of suspense, intrigue, and mystery.  It was actually a very predictable book with little intrigue (or suspense).  The characters are very unlikable (especially Cassie).   Cassie had so many issues (anger, trust, blackouts, hallucinations) that I wanted to commit her.  There were so few clues that would help the reader solve the mystery (though it was very easy to figure out).  The author used the same phrases and sentences several times throughout the book (it was like she was short on the required word count so she copied and pasted).  There is also many pages of Cassie’s internal dialogue.  It was monotonous (I just started skimming past it after a while).  This novel was tedious and dragged on for too long (sorry, but just being truthful).  I give After She’s Gone 2.5 out of 5 stars.  

The other two books in the West Coast series are Deep Freeze and Fatal Burn.   I received a complimentary copy of After She’s Gone from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

I am currently reading Louisiana Saves the Library by Emily Beck Cogburn.  I am off to finish a little cleaning and then I am going to read! This is the perfect day for it (plus every joint in my body aches).  Have a great day, stay warm, and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader

Friday, January 22, 2016

Mail-Order Marriage

Happy National Blonde Brownie Day!  What is a blonde brownie? You use light brown sugar instead of dark.  In 1973 the Supreme Court of the United States delivered its decision in Roe vs. Wade (legalizing elective abortion in all 50 states).  In 1984 the Apple Macintosh (the first consumer computer to popularize the use a mouse and GUI) was introduced during Super Bowl XVIII (a commercial).  Edward VII is proclaimed King in 1901 after the death of his mother, Queen Victoria. In 2002 Kmart is the largest retailer in the United States to declare Chapter 11 Bankruptcy Protection (I cannot believe this one is listed as a historical event). These are just a few events that happened in history on January 22.

Mail Order Marriage:    Five Historical stories of marriagearranged by strangers (various authors).  Cinda’s Surprise by Mary Davis involves Cinda Harrison and Lucas Rawlings.  Cinda’s friends decided to help her find a husband.  Cinda agrees to the marriage and wonders why Lucas needed a mail order bride.  Cinda discovers the answer when she arrives at his home.  Will these two be able to make it work?

His Brother’s Bride by Denise Hunter takes place in Cedar Springs, Kansas.  Emily Wagner is traveling to Cedar Springs to meet her fiancé, Thomas for the first time.  Emily is hoping this marriage will help her save her grandmother from her Uncle Stewart’s clutches.  Emily arrives to find Cade Manning, Thomas’ brother.  Thomas died before Emily arrived.  Cade (a widower), though, needs a wife to help with the house and to take care of his son.  Will Emily still be able to help her grandmother?

The third book is Changes of the Heart by Judith McCoy Miller.  Luther Buchanan opened a mercantile in Placerville, California. He needs a wife to help at home and around the store.  He advertises for a mail order bride (but does not mention he wants help with store).  Maura Thorenson feels that Luther’s ad is an answer to her prayers.  Maura wants to get married, but none of the local men will marry her because of her affliction (as she calls it).  Maura answers Luther’s ad but does not mention her affliction (you just know this is not going to go well).  On the trip to California (aboard ship around the Cape) Maura meets Georgette Blackburn.  Georgette desperately needs help and Maura is going to provide it.  Luther is surprised when he picks up his fiancé.  Is there a chance for these two?

Mail-Order Husband by DiAnn Mills is set in Nebraska in 1880.  Lena Walker is a widow with two children.  They have a farm and she needs help to keep it.  She advertises (the local men are disgusting) for a husband (a very rare occurrence).  Gabriel Hunters answers her ad.  He is a bookkeeper and loves to read.  Gabriel figures his book knowledge will help him run a farm (he has never lived on a farm or performed manual work).  Lena is shocked by Gabriel’s appearance (and manner of speaking), but Lena gave her word.  Will Gabriel be able to work a farm?  Can a marriage work between these two very different people?

Forever Yours by Tracie Peterson is set in Bandelero, New Mexico.  Daughtry Lucas is twenty-three and would love to escape her family.  Her father and brothers are over protective.  Daughtry runs away to answer Nicholas Dawson’s ad for a wife.  They are married by proxy before Daughtry starts her journey.  But Daughtry is not quite what Nicholas was expecting.  Does their marriage stand a chance when her father and brother’s show up?

Mail-Order Marriage contains some good stories.  I enjoyed three out of the five of them (the first three).  The story by Judith McCoy Miller was my favorite (and I wish it had been longer).  I give Mail-Order Marriage 4 out of 5 stars.  The stories are all well-written and interesting to read (just some more than others).    They are all Christian stories with nice themes. There is no sex or foul language in any of the stories.  They are good Christian, historical romance stories.  The last two are good, but I just did not enjoy them as much as the other three (just personal preference).

I received a complimentary copy of Mail-Order Marriage from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

I am currently reading The Silver Suitcase by Terrie Todd.   The wind is blowing and we have had rain.  The cold weather is getting ready to descend on our area (hooray).  I hear it is cold all over the United States.  Make sure you stay warm and safe (especially if you go out driving where there is snow).  Take care and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader