Thursday, March 31, 2016

Reining in Murder

It is the last day of March!  The month just flew by so quickly.   It is Bunsen Burner Day.  This day celebrates the birth of German chemist Robert Wilhelm Eberhard von Bunsen (born on March 31, 1811) who created the Bunsen Burner.  I have some interesting historical facts for you today!  In 1889 the Eiffel Tower officially opens!  In 1917 the United States buys the Danish West Indies and renames them the Virgin Islands, construction of the RMS Titanic begins in 1909, and Daylight Savings Time goes into effect for the first time in the United States in 1918.

Reining in Murder by Leigh Hearon is the first book in A Carson Stables Mystery series.  Annie Carson is a horse rescuer in Suwana County, Washington.  She receives a call during the night from Sheriff Dan Stetson.  A man was in an accident, and he was hauling a horse.  The horse needs to be brought back to Carson Farm.  The man who was driving, Wayne Johnston, did not survive.   The horse was okay and only suffered minor injuries.  Unfortunately, the gorgeous horse belongs to Hilda Colbert of Colbert Farm.  Hilda has a nasty personality.  Hilda contacts Annie after she has been up all night caring for her horse, demanding that the horse be transported to her farm immediately (indicating that her farm is far superior).  When Annie insists that the horse cannot be moved yet, Hilda states that they will pick up the horse first thing the next day.  The next day no one shows or calls.  When Annie goes over to Colbert Farm (the next day), she finds Hilda dead in her bedroom.  The suspect list is long (since Hilda did not have a winning personality).  Sheriff Stetson’s number one suspect is Marcus Carson, Hilda’s husband (feel sorry for him—being married to Hilda).  Annie is not so sure.  Annie starts investigating (while keeping Dan filled in—sort of) and then Marcus disappears.  Annie is sure that foul play is involved, but Dan feels that Marcus took off.  Then one of the Colbert Farm ranch hands is missing.  People are dropping like flies.  What is going on?  Not only is Annie investigating Hilda’s murder, but her half-sister Lavender has decided to visit (they have never met).  Lavender is a quirky individual who believes that she has psychic powers (Lavender was spoiled by her parents).  Life is never dull at the Carson Farm. 

Reining in Murder is an easy to read cozy mystery novel.  I just wish more of the book had been devoted to the mystery.  The clues are very sparse (more show up just before the killer is revealed).   More time is devoted to Lavender and her antics than to the mystery.  We also get quite a bit of information about horses, mules, dogs, Annie’s eating habits, Sheriff Stetson’s marriage troubles, and the type of scotch Annie (and Dan Stetson) like to drink.  I give Reining in Murder 3 out of 5 stars.  I wish the mystery had been harder to figure out.  You would think there would be a lot of suspects (since Hilda was not liked by anyone but her husband), but, in reality, there are few of them provided in the book.  As soon as Annie found the body, I knew who killed her (you know who is going to be killed as soon as she is mentioned in the book).  I did like the main characters and the gorgeous setting.  I will read the next book in the series (hopefully, there will be improvement).

The next book in A Carson Stables Mystery series is Saddle Up for Murder which will be out on October 25, 2016 (it is available to pre-order).  I received a complimentary copy of Reining in Murder from NetGalley (and the publisher) in exchange for an honest evaluation of the novel.

My current novel is Curtains for Miss Plym by Kathleen Delaney (I think Amazon has the price incorrect at $22.36 for Kindle).   I am off to do chores and run to the post office.  I hope everyone has a lovely day! Make sure to make time for yourself today.  Take care and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Playing the Part

It is I am in Control Day (yeah, right)!  I always thought I would be in control of my life when I became an adult!  Hah!   I now have some interesting historical trivia for you . . .the Florida Territory was created in 1822, ether anesthesia is used for the first time in the United States by Dr. Crawford Long in 1842, Jeopardy hosted by Art Fleming debuts in 1964 (and is still going strong), and in 1909the Queensboro Bridge opens in New York City connecting Manhattan and Queens.

Playing the Part by Jen Turano is the third book in A Class of Their Own series.  Playing the Part is set in New York in 1882.  Lucetta Plum is an actress and currently doing a new play written by the reclusive and mysterious Mr. Grimstone.  Her step-father Nigel Wolfe pays her a visit (which is not good).  Nigel has managed to gamble away the deed to the family plantation, Plum Hill.  Unfortunately for Nigel, he does not own the plantation nor does he have the deed.  It belongs to Lucetta, and she left the deed with a friend (who will make sure her step-father cannot get ahold of it).  The man to whom Nigel lost was Silas Ruff.  He is an awful man who has been pursuing Lucetta for some time.  Lucetta thought he had learned his lesson after the last incident.  Mr. Skukman, Lucetta’s personal bodyguard, believes she needs to leave town and lay low for a little while (which will make Lucetta’s understudy very happy).  Abigail Hart, society lady, widow, friend, and determined matchmaker/meddler, agrees with him.  Abigail suggests that they go to her grandson’s estate (do we detect a little matchmaking).  It certainly sounds like a good idea.  They arrive at Ravenwood (which seems to be behind a cemetery) and are not warmly welcomed.  They are barely in the drive when they are attacked.  Bram Haverstein, Abigail’s grandson, has been having trouble with marriageable young women dropping in (plus he has a secret).  After being attacked by dogs and falling into the moat, Lucetta finally gets into the house.  This visit is not off to a good start.  The visit is plagued by a woman hating goat in Lucetta’s room, walking suit of armor, jewels hidden in the fireplace, and a falling knife (more like a sword).  What is going on at Ravenwood?  Someone seems determined to get rid of the occupants of the house.  Lucetta and Bram are intent on getting to the bottom of the matter (and Abigail is thrilled that they are spending time together).  Will Abigail get her wish?  What happens when Silas Ruff tracks down Lucetta?  You will have to read Playing the Part to find out.

Playing the Part was humorous.  I did enjoy reading this novel.  It was a little over-the-top at times but it provided me with many laughs (which made my mother keep asking me why I was laughing).  Playing the Part has great characters and an interesting setting (loved Ravenwood).  Playing the Part was a great end to the series.  You do need to read all the books in the series in order to understand what is going on in Playing the Part (you will want to read them).  I have read all three books in the series and enjoyed each of them.   I give Playing the Part 4 out of 5 stars.  Playing the Part is nicely written, and I was pulled into the book right away (which I love).  It was nice to catch up with the characters from the previous novels to see how they were doing.  If you enjoy reading historical romance novels with a little mystery (and a lot of humor), you will love Playing the Part.

The other books in A Class of Their Own series are After a Fashion and In Good Company.  I received a complimentary copy of Playing the Part from NetGalley and the publisher in exchange for an honest evaluation of the novel.

I am currently enjoying Bitter Poison by Margaret Mayhew. The sun is finally shining in our area.  I have been fixing things around our house.  My mother needed a new doorknob on her bathroom, her showerhead needed fixing, the sliding door was so hard to open, and the tail light was out on the car.  I have fixed them all.  I guess all my father's lessons have paid off.  I hope all of you have a wonderful Wednesday. Take care and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

The Seven Sisters

The Seven Sisters by Lucinda Riley is the first book in the Seven Sisters series.  Maia D’Apliese is in London when she gets the news that Papa Salt (her adoptive father) has passed away.  Maia is one of six children that her father adopted during his travels and then brought home to Atlantis.  Atlantis is their home in Lake Geneva, Switzerland.  Maia is the eldest of the six girls.  The others are Alcyone (Ally), Asterope (Star), Celeano (CeCe), Taygete (Tiggy), and Electra.  They are named after the star cluster the Seven Sisters.  There is a seventh name, but their father never brought home a seventh girl.  The lawyer gives each girl a letter from their father and shows them an armillary sphere.  It was made special and there is one band for each girl.  On the band is the girl’s name, a saying, and coordinates.  The girls (well, all but one) never asked Papa Salt about their origins and now he is giving them an opportunity.  Maia’s letter also contains a little tile with names written on it.  Maia decides to look into her birth parents and sets off for Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.  The coordinates lead her to the house of the Carvalho family.  With the help of Floriano Quintelas (an author for whom Maia translated his work from Portuguese to French), Maia sets out to find out her origins.  

The story goes from 2007 (which is present for Maia) into the past as Maia reads letters from her ancestors.   I found The Seven Sisters to be a long, long book.   The author includes many descriptive paragraphs (of Atlantis, Rio, statues, etc.) which I started skimming over after a while (the book just seemed to go on forever).  The Seven Sisters is basically a romance novel with Maia’s search for her family as well as Maia finally getting confidence (and believing in herself) thrown in.  I give The Seven Sisters 3 out of 5 stars.  I think The Seven Sisters could have been much better with some editing.  I thought this novel would tell the story of all the sisters (at the beginning), but it only told Maia’s story (I imagine that there will be five more books).  Overall, it was a satisfactory novel.  I just kept hoping for a twist about Papa Salt to be thrown in (clues that he was still alive).

The second book in the Seven Sisters series is The Storm Sister and it is available now.  I received a complimentary copy of The Seven Sisters from NetGalley (and the publisher) in exchange for an honest review.

I am starting to catch up on the books I was not able to get to previously (while my father was ill).  I hope all of you have a nice, relaxing evening!  Take care and Happy Reading.

The Avid Reader

This is the cover for the UK.  Just gorgeous!

Silenced in the Surf

It is National Mom and Pop Business Owners Day!  It is a day to celebrate small business owners.  There are some great little shops in this country and we need to patronize them so they can thrive.  If you get an opportunity, you should check out the little businesses in your area (we have one that makes handmade chocolates).   On March 29 in history . . . farmers discover the burial site of Qin Shi Huang, the first Emperor of China in 1974.  They will eventually discover about 8,000 life-sized clay soldiers as well as horses and chariots that are meant to protect the Emperor in the afterlife.  In 1806 construction is authorized on the Great National Pike (better known as Cumberland Road) becoming the United States for federal highway!  The Royal Albert Hall is opened in 1871 by Queen Victoria.  Dr. John Pemberton brews the first batch of Coca-Cola in 1886 in Atlanta, Georgia.  And the first same sex marriage are performed in England and Wales in 2014!  

Silenced in the Surf by Kate E. Dyer-Seeley is the third book in A Pacific Northwest Mystery series.  May Reed is a journalist with Northwest Extreme in Portland, Oregon.  They are currently experiencing a heat wave.  So when the assignment came up to cover King of the Hook in Hood River (surfing and windsurfing competition), Oregon, Meg jumped at the opportunity (to cool off in the water at the beach).  The only rental she could find was a three-bedroom house, so Meg invites her bestie, Jill and boyfriend (sort-of), Matt to come along for the weekend.  Meg gets an opportunity for a lesson (on a surfboard with a sail) with other reporters.  Justin Cruise shows up and shows off some of his tricks (Justin is the number one competitor and first-class jerk).  Meg gets separated from the group during the lesson and winds up on the other side of the river where she sees a body floating face down.  She turns the body over and it is Justin Cruise.  Who wanted him dead (besides the number two competitor)?  Meg cannot help but investigate the case (she has a curious nature) despite being told to stay out of hit by Sheriff Daniels (who is dating Meg's grandmother, Gam), Matt, and her boss, Greg.  Will Meg be able to find the killer, complete her assignment, and stay out of trouble?

Silenced in the Surf is my least favorite book in A Pacific Northwest Mystery series.  The mystery was so simple that a child could solve it.  There were also very few clues provided in the book.  The book's focus did not seem to be on the murder.  More time was devoted to surfing (and other water sports), beer (ale), crystals and healing energy (thanks to Gam), and Meg not taking care of herself in the sun.  I also thought it was odd that Meg, as a reporter, did not write up the story about Justin.  She had a unique point-of-view and could have sold her story (that she wrote) to any newspaper (but she never even attempted it).  One thing that has gone on too long is Meg's investigation into her father's death.  It has been going on since the beginning and has not really advanced (we get like one clue per book).  It is time to wrap up that particular storyline instead of dragging it out further.  I give Silenced in the Surf 3 out of 5 stars. It is just okay (which is a shame).  I was not a fan of Meg in this book.  Meg is actually bitter that she has a great job and lives on her own when other people her age are job hopping and still living with her parents (does this make any sense).  I am not sure if I will continue with this series.

The first two books in the series are Scene of the Climb and Slayed on the Slopes.  The next book in A Pacific Northwest Mystery series is First Degree Mudder.  I received a complimentary copy of Silenced in the Surf from NetGalley (and the publisher) in exchange for an honest review of the novel.

Thank you so much for visiting my blog.  I am currently reading Hope in the Land by Olivia Newport.  I hope all of you are having a terrific Tuesday.  It is very rainy in our area (just dismal). Please be careful when you are out driving (the roads can be slippery). Take care and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader

Monday, March 28, 2016

Brush of Wings

Happy Monday!  It is Dyngus Day (also spelled Dingus).  It is a Polish holiday for fun (safe fun).  On this day (March 28) in 1776 San Francisco is founded by Spanish explorer Juan Bautista de Anza. He arrived with 247 colonists and starts a fort on the location of modern day San Francisco.  In 1990 Jesse Owens was posthumously awarded the Congressional Gold Medal  by President George H. W. Bush.  

Brush of Wings by Karen Kingsbury is the third book in Angels Walking series.  Orlon is sending Ember, Beck, Jag, and Aspyn (an Angel Walking team) on an important mission.  They need to make sure that a little baby gets born and to keep four individuals alive and together.  Mary Catherine Clark is leaving for Uganda to help out at a new orphanage.  She has always wanted to do this.  However, Mary Catherine has a heart condition that is now life threatening.  Mary Catherine needs a new heart, but she is not letting that stop her nor is she telling anyone about it.  Marcus Dillinger is a baseball player with the LA Dodgers who cares for Mary Catherine, but she keeps pushing him away.  She feels that he should get a chance at love with someone who might not die.  Sami Dawson is Marth Catherine’s best friend and roommate.  Sami works at the Youth Center where Mary Catherine also volunteered (until she decided to go to Uganda).  Sami keeps getting Mary Catherine to confide in her, but Mary Catherine is keeping mum.  Sami is in love with Tyler Ames, a coach with the LA Dodgers (and a friend of Marcus).   Can the angels work to keep these four people alive and the demons at bay?   It is imperative that their mission be successful.

Brush of Wings is basically a long (sappy) romance novel with angels, scripture, and prayer thrown in.   The novel contains quite a bit of scripture and prayer (basically every page someone is praying or asking people to pray).  I found the book hard to get into (I actually never did get into the book) which takes away my enjoyment of the book.  Mary Catherine is the main focus of the book, and I found her to be a martyr.  I did not like her and found her extremely annoying.  This is the third book in the series, but I believe the novel can be enjoyed without having read the first two books in the series (I actually did not know it was part of a series until I started reading the book).  I give Brush of Wings 3 out of 5 stars.  Readers who love Christian romance novels will probably enjoy Brush of WingsBrush of Wings will be out on Tuesday, March 29. 

The first two books in the Angels Walking series are Angels Walking and Chasing Sunsets.  I received a complimentary copy of Brush of Wings from NetGalley in exchange for an honest evaluation of the novel.

It is a dreary day in my area.  It has been raining all night.  A good day to stay indoors and do some housework (or read).  I hope all of you had a wonderful Easter weekend.  Take care and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader

Sunday, March 27, 2016

The Nightingale Nurses

The Nightingale Nurses by Donna Douglas is the third book in the Nightingales series.  It picks up not long after the second book ended.  Helen Tremayne is in her final year and studying diligently for her exams.  Helen, though, does find time to out with her beau, Charlie Dawson (despite Mrs. Tremayne’s objections).  Helen is looking forward to a future with Charlie after she graduates, but then Charlie becomes ill.  Dora Doyle is stepping out with Officer Joe Armstrong.  Dora is trying to get over Nick Riley (Ruby, her best friend, stole Nick from Dora).  But is Joe the one for Dora or is his nice persona hiding something more sinister.  Dora is also worried about her brother who has gotten involved with the wrong group.  He is supporting the Blackshirts (Fascists).  Millie is worried about her fiancé, Seb who is in Spain covering their civil war.  However, classes and ward work are definitely keeping them busy.  They are learning more advanced procedures and experiencing new wards (and new patients).  Life is never dull at The Nightingale. 

The Nightingale Nurses is another delightful installment of life in 1930s London and the training it took to become a nurse (involved a lot of cleaning).  The characters are like old friends and it was nice to visit them again.  The Nightingale Nurses is an engaging, fast paced novel that I did not want it to end (thankfully there are more books in the series).  I give The Nightingale Nurses 5 out of 5 stars.  The book is well-written, and I was instantly drawn into the novel.  I cannot wait to read the next book in the series.

Check out the other books in the Nightingale series on Amazon. Donna Douglas is coming out with a new book titled The Nurses of Steeple Street.  It will be out in late April (according to Amazon).  I received a complimentary copy of The Nightingale Nurses from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review of the novel.

I hope everyone had an excellent Easter (everyone stuffed from their ham and candy).  I am off to watch Call the Midwife (they are showing the episodes from the last season before the season begins), Mr. Selfridge, and Once Upon a Time!  I am also reading Reining in Murder by Leigh Hearon. Take care and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader

At the Edge of the Orchard

Happy Easter!  It is a beautiful Easter Sunday.  Easter is also called Resurrection Day (the day Christ arose).  Lent is over (if you follow that tradition).  Did you know that . . .the decorating of Easter eggs represent the empty tomb and the Easter lily represents resurrection.  

At the Edge of the Orchard by Tracy Chevalier is not what I expected.  James Goodenough and his wife, Sadie leave Connecticut (and the rest of the Goodenough family) to find a farm of their own.  They end up in Black Swamp, Ohio (because it was so muddy they could go no further). James and Sadie had ten children (but only five lived because of swamp fever from the mosquitoes).  Life is hard in the swamp, but James is determined to make a go of his apple orchard.  James and Sadie do not get along.  Sadie resents the apples (because her husband pays more attention to the apples than her) and does her best to sabotage the trees.  Sadie is a drunk (on applejack) the majority of the time.  Things do not end well for the couple and their youngest son, Robert takes off.  We then have a series of letters that explain what Robert did for the next seventeen years.  Robert ends up working for William Lobb as a plant collector in California.  We get to see how his growing up years affected the rest of his life and the choices he makes.

At the Edge of the Orchard was okay.  I normally love Tracy Chevalier's books, but I was not a fan of this one.  It is a slow paced book with unengaging characters.  Parts of the book are told in the first person (Sadie and James) point-of-view.  Sadie's part is hard to understand with her backwards way of talking (and accent).  The rest is told in the third person (about Robert).  The descriptions of the apples, the orchards, and the plants/trees in California were lovely and interesting.  The pace of the novel, though, is slow (I think apples grow faster).  The writing is good, but the story is depressing.  There is domestic violence, foul language, sex, and incest in this novel (just fair warning).  I give At the Edge of the Orchard 3 out of 5 stars.

You can follow Tracy Chevalier on Amazon to get updates on her latest novels.  I received a complimentary copy of the book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

I hope all of you have a wonderful Easter!  Enjoy the day with your family and friends.  I am currently reading Sawbones by Melissa Lenhardt (it is okay).  Take care and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Hold Still by Tim Adler

It is Make Your Own Holiday Day!  You can make it whatever crazy day you want!  Get creative!  For me and my mother it is Get New Eyeglasses Day!  We had eye exams and then picked out new glasses (I got some pretty blue metal frames). On March 26, 1920 F. Scott Fitzgerald saw the publication of his first novel.  His first novel is This Side of Paradise.  Other events are the publication of the Book of Mormon in New York in 1830 and in 1934 the United Kingdom driving test is introduced.

Hold Still by Tim Adler is a clichéd suspense novel.  Kate Julia and her husband, Paul are in Tirana, Albania for the funeral of his uncle.  After the funeral, Paul steps out onto their balcony.  The next thing Kate hears is car horns and sees his body on the street below.  Kate cannot believe that her husband killed himself.  Kate had snapped a picture right before Paul disappeared and the picture does not add up with the information Kate receives from the police.  Kate had her husband cremated and returns home to London.  However, the more Kate looks into her husband’s death, the less it makes sense.  Then her flat is broken into and tossed.  What is going on?  Kate meets John Priest at a support group.  Kate contacts him after the break in.  John is understanding and sympathetic, but there is more to John than meets the eye.  What happens when Kate keeps (recklessly) probing Paul’s death?  Will she still be alive to tell the tale?

I found Hold Still to be a very predictable novel.  Once I started reading the story, I knew exactly how it would play out (I do not want to give away any spoilers).  Kate is a naïve, trusting women who does everything she is not supposed to do (like trust a man she just met).  I had trouble getting into this book (I actually never did).  I like to dive into a story and be drawn into that world.  Instead, Hold Still was a book that I read (to a reader there is a big difference).  There were no unexpected surprises or twists.  I give Hold Still 3 out of 5 stars.  It was okay, but nothing great.  There is some foul language and sex in the novel as well as extreme violence (fair warning).  

I received a complimentary copy of Hold Still from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review of the novel.

I hope all of you are having a delightful Saturday.  I am off to enjoy dinner and finish reading Killer Reunion by G. A. Mckevett.  Take care and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader

Friday, March 25, 2016

The Nightingale Sisters

The Nightingale Sisters by Donna Douglas is the second book in The Nightingales series.  It picks up where the first book left off.  The Nightingale Teaching Hospital has a new night sister named Violet Tanner.  She seems to have a secret, though, so tries not to mingle with the other staff.  Secrets, though, have a way of coming out.  Dora, Millie, and Helen are busy with their lessons and working on the wards.  Millie is engaged, but she is not sure he is the right man for her (shouldn’t she have thought of this before accepting his proposal).  Dora is upset of losing Nick to another woman.  Helen has her nose to the grindstone determined to do well in her studies (because of her tyrant of a mother).  Life is busy for everyone at the hospital.  Come check out life for the nurses and students in the 1930s at The Nightingale!

I thoroughly enjoyed reading The Nightingale Sisters.  It fascinating to read about life and nursing in the 1930s in England.  I liked getting to revisit these characters and see how they are going.  The author does a wonderful job bringing these characters to life.  The book is well-written, engaging, and easy to read.  I would recommend reading the first book in the series prior to enjoying The Nightingale Sisters.  My only complaint is that the book ended too soon.  Thankfully, there are more books in the series to read.  I give The Nightingale Sisters 5 out of 5 stars. 

The other books in the The Nightingales series are The Nightingale Girls, The Nightingale Nurses, Nightingales On Call, A Nightingale Christmas Wish, Nightingales at War, A Child is Born, and Nightingales Under the Mistletoe.  I received a complimentary copy of The Nightingale Sisters from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Donna Douglas has a new book coming out in April called The Nurses of Steeple Street.  I cannot wait to read it.  Thank you for visiting and have a fantastic Friday evening.  Take care (drive safely) and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader

She's Not There

Happy Good Friday!  I hope all of you have a very special day!  On this day in history . . . Venice was founded at noon in 421, Robert the Bruce becomes the King of Scotland in 1306, in 1584 Sir Walter Raleigh is granted the patent to colonize Virginia, and in 1957 US Customs seizes 520 copies of Allen Ginsberg's poem "Howl" on grounds of obscenity (it goes to trial).

I was really looking forward to Joy Fielding's She's Not There.  I love suspense novels, but this novel had no suspense nor a real mystery.  Caroline Shipley and her husband, Hunter went on a vacation to Rosarito, Mexico fifteen years previously for their anniversary.  Caroline would not leave the kids with her mother or brother, so they brought five-year-old, Michelle, and two-year-old, Samantha with them.  On the last night the babysitter failed to show up.  The hotel said that someone had canceled the sitter.  Since they were going to be eating just outside (they could see the window from the table), they went to dinner (Hunter insisted because he had a surprise for Caroline).  They took turns checking on the sleeping girls.  When they go back after dinner, Samantha is gone.  Who took her and why?

Fifteen years later Caroline gets a call from a young girl stating she might be Samantha.  Could this be her long lost daughter?  We get to see how this kidnapping affected the family and if this young woman is really Samantha.  Will Caroline finally get the truth?

I found She's Not There to be a slow novel with no suspense.  It was so easy to figure out who took Samantha and why.  We are subjected to a lot of Caroline thinking (and over thinking) and disagreements between Michelle and Caroline.  Michelle was a difficult child before the kidnapping and she has not improved over the last fifteen years (I got very tired of their arguments).  I did not like any of the characters in the book.  Caroline plays the blame game and has issues controlling her temper.  The writing is okay (satisfactory).  I kept hoping that there would be a twist at the end.  I give She's Not There 3 out of 5 stars (which mean it was okay).

I received a complimentary copy of She's Not There from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review of the novel.

It is a very rainy day in my area.  So I will be doing work indoors today (there is always more housework to be done).  I am currently reading The Charm Bracelet by Viola Shipman.  Have a stupendous Good Friday! Take care and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Planted with Hope

It is Holy Thursday!  It is also National Chocolate Covered Raisin Day (not a real national holiday)! On March 24, 1958 Elvis Presley was drafted into the United States Army (he had very cushy assignments).  America gets to see images of the moon on their television sets courtesy of NASA spacecraft Ranger 9 in 1965 (and then it crashes).  

Planted with Hope by Tricia Goyer and Sherry Gore is the second book in the Pinecraft Pie Shop series.  It is the beginning of a new year in Pinecraft, Florida (a Mennonite, Old Order Amish, and New Order Amish community) near Sarasota, Florida.  Matchmaking is going on behind the scenes for Hope Miller and the temporary schoolteacher (filling in for his sister), Jonas Sutter.  Jonas is a widower from Kentucky with an eight-year-old daughter named Emma.  Jonas is instantly attracted to Hope when he meets her after Hope rescues Emma from where she fell into the water.  Hope is a person who does not like crowds or a lot of noise (and quiet is hard to find in her house).  She enjoys the quiet of a garden.  Hope severely misses that in Pinecraft.  The soil is not ideal for a vegetable garden, and Hope does not have the money to bring in the proper type of soil.  Hope is discontented and unhappy.  Hope has decided maybe she needs to go back north and writes to a relative to find a nursemaid position (and where she can have a garden).  Her family has decided to give her a garden behind Me, Myself, and Pie (her sister Lovina’s pie shop).  But what Hope has yet to find out is that Jonas is going to be involved as well (and the schoolchildren).  Will the families matchmaking attempts pay off? Will the victory journal Emma receives change her outlook and her attitude about the garden?   What happens when it is time for Jonas to return to Kentucky?

I enjoyed reading Planted with Hope.  It was a heartwarming story with engaging characters (and a lovely setting).  I like the addition of the victory journal (written during World War II).  The entries add a special element to the book.  Planted with Hope is easy to read (can be finished in a few hours) and well-written.  I liked Planted with Hope better than the first book in the Pinecraft Pine Shop series.  Planted with Hope can be read without having enjoyed the first book in the series.  The book includes some great recipes (there is even one for ice cream).  There is a Christian element in the novel, but it is light and flows with the storyline (just the right touch).  I give Planted with Hope 4 out of 5 stars.  I will definitely be reading the next book in the Pinecraft Pine Shop series.

Made with Love is the first book in Pinecraft Pie Shop series.  I received a complimentary copy of Planted with Hope from NetGalley in exchange for an honest evaluation of the novel. 

I am currently enjoying the cozy mystery Silenced in the Surf by Kate Dyer-Seeley.  I am almost ready for Easter.  How about you?  Do you have your Easter dinner, candy (for adults and children), and cute bunnies (stuffed)?  You are never too old to get a stuffed toy on Easter. When I was a child, my sister and I also got a new dress and shoes (patent leather Mary Janes from Lazarus).   Those shoes are not made for running on driveways (too slippery)!  I hope all of you have a wonderful day!  Take care and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader


Wednesday, March 23, 2016

No One Knows

Happy Wednesday!  We are halfway through the week.  It is also National Chip and Dip Day (do not confuse it with National Potato Chip Day on March 14).  Make sure to enjoy some chips with a dip tonight (I will just eat the chips and skip the dip).  On March 23 in 1806, Lewis and Clark head home after traveling through the Louisiana Purchase and reaching the Pacific Ocean.  Other events that happened on this day . . . Elisha Otis' first elevator is installed in New York in 1857 (thank you Mr. Otis) and NASA launches Gemini 3 in 1965 with Gus Grissom and John Young on board.  

Aubrey Marie Trenton Hamilton divides her life into three sections.  Seven years before she met Josh, the seventeen years she knew Josh, and the five years since Josh died.  Josh Hamilton and Aubrey met when they were around seven years old.  When Aubrey was eight her parents passed away and Aubrey went into foster care (where she grew up too fast).  Five years ago Josh and Aubrey were going to friend’s bachelor and bachelorette parties.  They were in an accident on the way, but they finally arrive at the hotel where the parties were being held.  They parted ways after entering the lobby and that is the last time Aubrey saw Josh.  Josh’s body was not found and the investigation focused on Aubrey (of course).  Daisy Hamilton, Josh’s mother, never liked Aubrey (because she did not like Aubrey’s mother, Marie).  Daisy petitioned the courts to have Josh declared dead after five years (she wants his big life insurance policy which names Aubrey as beneficiary).  Daisy likes rubbing salt into Aubrey’s very open wounds (still grieving).  Then Aubrey sees a man who walks just like Josh (has other similar mannerisms).  He also looks a lot like Josh.  His name is Chase Boden.  Chase is a reporter from Chicago wanting to write a story on Josh (believes there is more to the story).  Chase and Aubrey start looking into Josh’s past.  What happened to him five years ago?  Read No One Knows to find out.

I found No One Knows by J.T. Ellison to be expected (I wanted surprises and twists).   It is a slow-paced novel with a likely "twist" (to me it was no surprise) at the end.  The pace of the novel does pick up near the end (thank goodness).  No One Knows is told from various viewpoints and goes back and forth in time to tell the story (which makes it hard to get into the novel).  I was hoping for a good suspense novel, and it was just okay.  I think to enjoy a novel you have to like the main character (at least a little bit), but I did not like Aubrey (nor Daisy).  My favorite character was Winston, the Weimaraner.  No One Knows contains foul language, sex, drugs, and violence (fair warning).  I give No One Knows 3 out of 5 stars.

You can follow J.T. Ellison on Amazon to get updates on her latest novels.  I received a complimentary copy of No One Knows from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review of the novel.

I am currently enjoying Crime and Poetry by Amanda Flower (it is wonderful).  Thank you for stopping by! I am off to enjoy dinner. Take care and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Fool Me Once

Happy Book Release Tuesday!  My favorite day of the week!  Who doesn't love getting new books?  Fool Me Once by Harlan Coben and No One Knows by J.T. Ellison came out today. Today is National Goof Off Day (it is not a "real" national holiday).  A day that people can kick back, relax, and have fun (but nothing dangerous, illegal, or that will get you into trouble).  Every now and then a person needs a day off when they can do what they want.  If you are a parent or a caregiver, you know what I mean.  And thanks to Auguste and Louis Lumiere, you can go to a movie.  On March 22, 1895 the invited 200 people to watch their first film on their cinematograph.  The patent for the laser was issued to Arthur Schawlow and Charles Townes in 1960.  Laser stands for "light amplification by stimulated emission of radiation".  The ERA (Equal Rights Amendment) passes Congress in 1972 (took them long enough). Unfortunately, the amendment does not get enough state votes to be ratified (it dies).  

Fool Me Once is a new novel by Harlan Coben.  Maya Stern Burkett is burying her husband, Joe Burkett.  He was shot in the park on night when out with Maya.   Maya is a former Army Captain (returned home amid a little scandal) back home after being in Iraq (suffering PTSD).  Maya now teaches others how to fly.  She also has a two-year-old daughter, Lily.  Maya is devastated at the loss of her husband.  Maya lost her sister, Claire Walker within the last year as well.  A friend gives her a picture frame that is also a nanny cam.  Maya can take out the SD card and view the coverage of her daughter with the nanny, Isabella.  Maya is checking the camera one morning and sees a man that looks just like her husband (wearing her husband’s clothes), Joe with their daughter, Lily.  Maya confronts Isabella who denies seeing anything on the screen.  She then sprays Maya with pepper spray, takes the SD card, and runs.  Could Joe still be alive?  Maya did not see the shot that killed her husband and it was a closed casket funeral (arranged by his family).  Maya is determined to get some answers.  Will Maya like the answers she receives?  Of course, answers can lead to more questions!

I was excited when I was contacted and asked if I wanted to read and review Fool Me Once.  However, I was disillusioned.  Fool Me Once is a fast-paced book and quick book (above average writing).  There is too much of the book devoted to Maya thinking (especially paranoid thinking).  The ending was also a big letdown (and slightly odd).    I kept waiting for a big twist or a shocking reveal, but I did not get it.  What I got was predictable and just what I expected.  I was surprised by the choices Maya made especially considering that she had a child (a lot of parents will be appalled by Maya's decisions).  I just expected more from this author. I give Fool Me Once 3.75 out of 5 stars.  I did learn one important thing from Fool Me Once.  Do not bring a nanny cam into my home! 

You can follow Harlan Coben on Amazon to get updates on his latest books.  I received a complimentary copy of Fool Me Once from NetGalley (and the publisher) in exchange for an honest evaluation of the novel.

I got some wonderful news today!  I received an advance copy of Rachel Caine's new book Ink and Bone!  I cannot wait to read it (and I hope it is good).  I am off to run a few errands.  We are having a beautiful cool day in my area and I am loving it (so are the dogs).  Have a wonderful Tuesday!  Take care and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader

Here is an Easter coloring page for you!  Enjoy!

Monday, March 21, 2016

Eyes of Elisha

Eyes of Elisha by Brandilyn Collins is the first book in the Chelsea Adams Series.  Chelsea Adams became a Christian a year ago and began having visions (mostly of future incidents).  Chelsea believes the visions are from God.  Then she has a vision of a murder that had already occurred.  Chelsea sets out to find the victim and the killer.  Her husband, Paul, is skeptical about her visions and avoids talking to her about God.  How will this investigation affect their marriage?  Will Paul ever accept her visions?  

I did not enjoy reading Eyes of Elisha.  I thought it would be good with the visions and the mystery.  However, the Christian elements (a lot of prayer and Bible verses) overshadowed everything else.  The mystery was extremely simple (I knew who the killer was as soon as the character as introduced).  I like Christian stories, but where the Christian element is barely noticeable (subtle and not in your face).  I was not drawn into the story (by the characters or the storyline).  I give Eyes of Elisha 3 out of 5 stars (it was okay but its potential was not realized).  I just do not think that I am the right audience for this novel (or in my speak "It is not my cup of tea!").

I received a complimentary copy of Eyes of Elisha from the author through The Book Club Network, Inc. in exchange for an honest review.

Thank you so much for stopping by and reading my latest review.  I am currently reading Just Plain Sadie by Amy Lillard.  I will let you know how I like it. Take care and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader

Ripe for Murder

Happy Monday!  It is Fragrance Day!  This is not a day for people with allergies to fragrances (like me).  I have driven my parents and daughter crazy over the years because of this allergy (especially my daughter who likes perfume).  Ready for some facts (I am going to give them to you anyway).  In 1952 was the first rock and roll concert!  DJ Alan Freed's Moondog Coronation Ball (I did not make this up) was held in Cleveland, Ohio.  The police were forced to break it up after an hour (party poopers).  Alcatraz Prison closed on March 21 in 1963.  It went from one of the most feared places to a big tourist attraction (said to be a haven for many ghosts).   President Carter announced that the United States would boycott the 1980 Olympic games that were being held in Moscow (because they invaded Afghanistan--anyone see the irony in this).  Dallas airs "A House Divided" episode leading to eight months of speculation on Who killed J.R.?  How many of you remember this?

Ripe for Murder by Carlene O’Neil is the second book in A Cypress Cover Mystery series.  Penelope “Penny” Lively owns Joyeaux Winery in Cypress Cove, California which she inherited from her aunt.   Penny and her neighbor (and friend), Antonia Martinelli have been invited to St. Katrina Silverado Mission Inn and Spa by a train line company.  The company wants to set up a rail line through the area and it will stop at the local wineries (which will mean more visitors and sales for the wineries).  Penny and Antonia will be contributing land instead of money (for the rail line).  Connor Lavigne, Penny’s manager, will be attending with Penny.  Penny is attracted to Connor but has yet to act on it.  Maybe they will have a chance to get closer on this trip.  Unfortunately, Chantal Martinelli is attending with her mother.  Chantal and Penny do not get along.  Chantal is a big flirt as well as annoying.  One of the potential investors is Dave Dupont of Dupont Automotive who has brought his new wife, Tara (she is a piece of work).  The group then boards a train to experience the companies train tours.  They are at the Berninni Winery when Chantal and Tara have a fight (cat fight).  Penny actually comes to Chantal’s defense (shocking).  The group departs back to the train.  Soon the train comes to a sudden halt.  Someone pulled the emergency brake cord.  Tara Dupont is dead on the tracks and Chantal is the main suspect (found unconscious in the last car).  Penny might not be fond of Chantal, but she does like her mother (who wants her daughter cleared).  So Penny starts sleuthing to find Tara’s real killer.

Ripe for Murder was too much like a romance novel.  I read mystery novels for the mystery (shocking I know).  There was too much fixation on Connor by Penny (feeling that Chantal was paying him too much attention, Connor spending time with Chantal, admiring his physique, etc.).  Penny and Connor are not even dating.  I hate to see what Penny would be like if these two were a couple.   One thing that did not make sense was Penny’s blood phobia.  She faints at the sight of blood (happened more than once).  Not a good trait for a sleuth.  I think it is supposed to be a quirky trait, but it came across as ridiculous (I think it was just an excuse for her to be caught and carried by Connor).   The author did provide good clues and does a credible attempt at misdirection.  I did find that the killer was obvious, and I knew who had done the deed as soon as the murder scene was described.  Ripe for Murder is the second book in the series, but it can easily be read as a stand-alone book (information from the first book is included).  I give Ripe for Murder 3 out of 5 stars.   I will read the next book in the series to give it another chance (to see if the writer has improved).

The first book in A Cypress Cove Mystery series is One Foot in the Grape.  You can follow Carlene O'Neil on Amazon to get updates on her latest books.  I received a complimentary copy of Ripe for Murder from NetGalley (and the publisher) in exchange for an honest review.

I hope all of you had a delightful and relaxing weekend.  I am currently reading Death of a Bacon Heiress by Lee Hollis (it is a little ridiculous).  Take care and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader