Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Grilled for Murder

It is the last day of May.  The month just flew by so quickly.  Does anyone else keep forgetting that today is not Monday?  It is National Macaroon Day.  A day to honor the flourless cookie called the macaroon.  The macaroon  (click on macaroon for a recipe) is made from ground nuts and leavened egg whites.  They are frequently made in pretty colors especially at Easter.  If you have not tried them before, this is the day to check them out.  I have to admit that I am getting a good laugh at my mother's expense. Her doctor ordered a test for her and her reaction is priceless.  It is a test that she can do in the comfort of her own home (trust me you do not want details), but it beats her alternative.  The kit arrived today and I am still laughing at her reaction (I cannot help it).  It was priceless (I take my giggles where I can get them)!
Aren't they pretty?
Grilled for Murder by Maddie Day is the second book in the Country Store Mystery series   Robbie Jordan is the owner of Pans ‘N Pancakes in South Lick, Indiana.  It is a restaurant and country store (has great vintage cookware).  Robbie has agreed to cater a welcome home party for Erica Berry Shermer.  Erica recently lost her husband, Jon Shermer (twin brother to Jim Shermer, local attorney and Robbie’s romantic interest) and is returning to South Lick from Chicago.  Erica has been home a month, but her parents want her to feel welcome.  Erica arrives late to the party.  She is flirtatious with a few of the men, but she is rude to others.  The party ends late, and Phil (Robbie’s friend and baker) offers to close up for her (since she has to get up so early).  The next morning Robbie is a little sluggish and eager for her coffee.  Robbie comes downstairs and finds Erica dead in the store next to the pickle barrel.  This is not a good start to her day!  Detective Octavia Slade is the State Police Homicide Detective assigned the case.  It turns out that Jim Shermer knows Octavia (they dated).  Phil ends up being a prime suspect in the murder and Robbie knows Phil would not hurt anyone.  Robbie wants to clear Phil of the crime and find the real culprit (this murder is affecting her business).  It is suggested that Robbie enter the Nashville Gingerbread Log Cabin competition. She could enter a miniature Pans ‘N Pancakes made of gingerbread, icing, and candy.  Robbie has her hands full with the restaurant, the gingerbread competition, decorating the place for Christmas, the investigation, ordering supplies for the restaurant, her stolen Christmas tree, and complications with her love life.  Will Robbie be able to find the killer before the killer comes after Robbie?

Grilled for Murder may be the second book in the series, but you can read it alone (the author provides the necessary background material).  The book is easy to read and has good characters (and a quaint, small town), but the focus of the book was not on the mystery (more on romance, stolen Christmas tree, dancing, her forgetfulness with regard to ordering supplies for the restaurant, etc.).  Figuring out the killer was extremely easy (you just need one clue—I will not tell you which one).    I give Grilled for Murder 3 out of 5 stars.  I have read other books by this author and this is not her best work (sorry, just being honest). Did you know that Maddie Day is a nom de plume for Edith Maxwell?  Do not get me wrong.  It is not a bad book.  I like this authors writing style and the unique murder weapon.  It makes for a pleasant reading experience.  I just wanted more in Grilled for Murder.  I wanted more focus on the murder mystery and subsequent investigation (it is supposed to be a mystery novel).  Will I read the next book in the Country Store Mystery series?  Yes, I will be reading the next book to see if there is improvement.  One thing that is particularly appealing to me is the description of the vintage cooking equipment (I grew up with two antique dealers for aunts and we have always had antiques in our home).

The first book in A Country Store Mystery series is Flipped for Murder which is currently $1.99 on Amazon.  I received a complimentary copy of Grilled for Murder by NetGalley in exchange for an honest evaluation of the novel.

Thank all of you so much for stopping by and reading my blog.  I am currently enjoying A Haven on Orchard Lane by Lawana Blackwell.  I have not read one of her books in years.  I am off to retreat to the back of the house.  My neighbors are having their band practice tonight (they have not improved in ten years).  I hope all of you have an enjoyable and relaxing night!  Take care and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader

Monday, May 30, 2016

Murder Most Fowl

Happy Memorial Day!  It is a day dedicated to those men and women who have lost their lives while serving our country.  My father served in the Navy (he told some interesting tales).  Every holiday I know I will hear from my daughter about dinner (I may be the world's pickiest eater but I am a good cook)!  Sure enough I get a text message this morning (I discovered it when I woke up) asking what I will be cooking for dinner (not that this is the only time I hear from her).  Predictability is a good thing!

Murder Most Fowl by Edith Maxwell is the fourth book in A Local Foods Mystery series.  It is March in Westbury.  Cameron “Cam” Flaherty owns Attic Hill Farm.  She used to visit her Great Uncle Albert and Great Aunt Marie when she was younger at Attic Hill Farm. When Albert was ready to retire (he now lives in a local assisted living facility), he offered the farm to Cam.  She is two years into the three-year organic farm certification.  Spring is a busy time on the farm.  Cam is planting new seedlings, pruning trees, and taking care of a new batch of baby chicks.  Then she hears that neighbor, Wayne Laitinen had his farm vandalized by a local animal rights group called ARF (Animal Rights Front).  They painted a saying on the side of his barn in red paint and opened up his barn where his chickens live (he is a chicken farmer).  Thankfully, the chickens know to stay inside where it is warm.  Wayne is also having trouble with a neighbor.  Judith Patterson wants to buy some of Wayne’s land for a stable (her daughter is wild about horses).  Unfortunately for Judith, Wayne does not wish to sell.  On Sunday, Wayne is found dead at his breakfast table.  Cam’s fiancĂ©, Detective Peter Pappas is assigned the case.  He knows Cam will not keep her nose out of the investigation (she just cannot help herself).  Will Cam be able to find the killer and avoid getting herself in the line of fire?  In addition, Cam has to contend with ARF (unfortunate acronym).  They visited her farm during the night and set loose her baby chicks (into the cold barn and a fox on the prowl) as well as vandalism to the barn (red paint).  Will they be able to find the culprit (ringleader) behind ARF before he does more damage?  Is the same person responsible for Wayne’s death?  You will have to read Murder Most Fowl to find out!

Murder Most Fowl was an enjoyable cozy mystery.  The characters are appealing, friendly, and likeable.  The information provided about the farm is interesting and engaging (planting seedlings, farm animals, perils of foxes on chickens, composting).  Murder Most Fowl is easy to read and can be finished in just a few hours.  The mystery was easy to solve (pay attention to the small clues), but Ms. Maxwell did a good job at misdirection (she had me doubting myself).  After I read about the murder (unique method of killing), I decided upon the killer and wrote it down. When the killer was revealed, I was right (can you tell I enjoy puzzles).  Though the writer could have taken it into two other directions (her misdirection).  There is one sad part with the baby chicks (poor little things).  I give Murder Most Fowl 4 out of 5 stars (I liked it).  I look forward to reading the next book in A Local Foods Mystery series.  Murder Most Fowl will be out on Tuesday, May 31!

The other novels in A Local Foods Mystery series are A Tine to Live, A Tine to Die, 'Til Dirt Do Us PartFarmed and Dangerous, I received a complimentary copy of Murder Most Fowl from NetGalley in exchange for an honest evaluation of the novel.

I am off to make some noodles.  My mother wanted homemade chicken and noodles today (from scratch--no store bought noodles). I am currently reading Eclair and Present Danger by Laura Bradford.  I hope all of you have a fun and relaxing day. Take care and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader

P.S.--today is my nephew, Carsyn's eighth birthday!  Isn't he a cutie?  Carsyn is a special young boy!

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Rock-a-Bye Bones

Happy Sunday!  I am a firm believer that Sunday is a day to be spent relaxing.  For me that means reading, lounging, and watching television (if I can find anything decent on).  Today is Learn about Composting Day! Going green is extremely popular and composting is a part of that.  The compost is good for your flower, herb, and vegetable gardens.  You can find information on composting at Earth Matter's Composting Learning Center.  If you teach your children at home (homeschooling), vegetable gardening and composting are a great way to teach children about science, helping the environment, growing their own food, and get them outside (and away from video games).  There are lesson plans and suggestions available online.

Rock-a-Bye Bones by Carolyn Haines is the sixteenth Sarah Booth Delaney Mystery novel.  Sarah Booth Delaney is awakened during the night to knocking (and Jetty, her resident ghost) at her door.  She discovers a baby on her doorstep (and a lot of blood).  After Sarah Booth opens the door a pick-up truck takes off down her driveway. Whoever left the baby on her doorstep was bleeding badly, but they waited to make sure that someone found the baby.  Sarah Booth contacts Sheriff Coleman Peters (who is attracted to Sarah Booth) and her business partner (and friend) Tinkie Richmond (bad idea).  Tinkie loves children, but she is unable to have them (you can guess that she is going to fall in love with this baby).   Who would leave a baby on Sarah Booth’s doorstep?  Sarah Booth figures the person had to know her or her reputation (for investigating).  Sarah Booth sets out to find the mother of the baby (she could be in serious trouble).  Sarah Booth has another problem.  Gertrude Strom (from previous book) has escaped (she’s on the lamb) and is wanting to kill Sarah Booth.  Gertrude always seems to be a step ahead (someone is helping her).  Sarah Booth refuses to stay home, but she will have to extra vigilant to avoid Gertrude.  Of course, who wants to stay home with Jetty.  She is trying to convince Sarah Booth that it is time to settle down (marry and have kids).  Things are never dull in Zinnia, Mississippi.

I have not read a Sarah Booth Delaney Mystery novel is a few years (I read the earlier books).  I was hoping to see that Sarah Booth had developed more as a character (grown up).  I was disappointed.  I found Rock-a-Bye Bones to be just plain silly (inane).  The book started off with a good pace, but then it slowed down.  There is too much going on in the book (the baby, Tinkie, Jetty, Gertrude, her new haircut, the dogs).  Sarah Booth also seems to have three men after her and she is only interested in two of them (her man issues seem to dominate the book).  Another thing that seemed to be mentioned quite a few times is Sarah Booth’s new haircut.  Her hair suffered from a fire in a previous book and Sarah Booth had to get a new hair style.  She evidently likes it (and we get to hear about it).  I felt that the book went on way too long.  I give Rock-a-Bye Bones 2.5 out of 5 stars.  One thing that made no sense is Sarah Booth taking her dogs with her to find the killer (risking their lives).  Does that make sense to anyone else?  The ghost seems useless.  Her main goal seems to be getting Sarah Booth married and pregnant (I just thought Jetty could be more useful/helpful in the crime solving).  Sorry to be so critical.  I am just trying to explain why I did not enjoy this cozy mystery.  Rock-a-Bye Bones is not a stand-alone book. You do have to have read some of the previous books (at least the first ones) in order to understand everything that is happening in Rock-a-Bye Bones.  Will I be reading any more books in this series?  Unfortunately, no.

Them Bones is the first book in the Sarah Booth Delaney series (and it has a lovely cover).  Other books in the series are Buried Bones, Splintered Bones, Crossed Bones, Hallowed Bones, Bones to Pick, Ham Bones, Wishbones, Greedy Bones, Bone Appetit, Bones of a Feather, Bonefire of the Vanities, Smarty Bones, Booty Bones, and Bone to be Wild.  The first six books are the best.  I received a complimentary copy of Rock-a-Bye Bones from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

I am off to make my bed up with clean sheets and then enjoy dinner. Everyone else has eaten and now it is my turn.  I hope all of you had an enjoyable and relaxing day.  Thankfully, we all get one more day (well, most of you)!  I love three day weekends!  I am currently reading Knit to be Tied by Maggie Sefton.  Take care and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader

Saturday, May 28, 2016

A Simple Vow

It is International Jazz Day!  A day to celebrate jazz music, its history, and the musicians that play it.   This day was created in 1991 by D. Michael Denny, a musician and bandleader.  I happen to enjoy jazz.  If you have not listened to it before, give it a try today (you never know, you might enjoy it).  A place to enjoy good jazz is its birthplace in New Orleans, Louisiana.

A Simple Vow by Charlotte Hubbard is the first book in a Simple Gifts series.  In Willow Ridge the town is getting ready for the wedding of Ira Hooley and Millie Glick.  Edith Riehl steps out onto the front porch and hears people arguing.  Then she hears babies crying.  She goes to investigate and finds two babies.  Edith immediately picks them up and soothes them.  Will Gingerich was bringing the babies to the Riehl’s to see if they could take care of them for him.  His wife, Molly recently died from cancer leaving behind the six month old twins.  On her deathbed she said the name Asa.  Will found out that Molly was pregnant when she married him, but not by him.  Will is at his wit’s end and needs assistance while he takes care of funeral arrangements.  Edith happily takes in the twins without consulting her father.  Edith loves children, but Edith is unable to have her own kids (thanks to an infection from a burst appendix when she was a teenager).  Will was arguing with Asa Detweiler.  He is accusing Asa of getting his Molly in the family way.  Asa has never heard of Molly and denies the accusation.  Asa promises Edith to get to the bottom of the situation.  Asa is immediately drawn to Edith and does not want anything to stand in his way of courting her.  Who is the father of the twins?  Edith will have to contend with her penny pinching father who has not been in the best of moods since his wife passed away.  Also, Edith feels that someone is watching her.  Is she imagining it or is someone out there lurking?  Will things work out between Asa and Edith?  You will have to read A Simple Vow to find out.

In A Simple Vow we get to revisit the town of Willow Ridge and the people who live there.  It is a warm and welcoming town that is different from other Amish towns.  Many women own and run businesses and the bishop is more open than most.  There is a great twist that readers may or may not see coming (I figured out but then I read many mystery novels).  A Simple Vow is well-written and pleasurable to read (it’s a nice change of pace).  It contains good messages (moral lessons) on forgiveness, Christian love, and lending a helping hand (Christian charity).  A Simple Vow has a sweet ending.  If you have not read the books prior to A Simple Vow, it can get confusing.  This is the first book in a new series, but it is based on characters from a previous series of books (Seasons of the Heart).  I give A Simple Vow 4 out of 5 stars (I liked it).  I will definitely be reading more books in the Simple Gifts series (and any other books by Charlotte Hubbard).   I want to learn more about the rug making technique that is mentioned in the novel.  A Simple Vow will be out on Tuesday, May 31.

The Seasons of the Heart books are Summer of Secrets, Autumn Winds, Winter of Wishes, Breath of Spring, and Harvest of Blessings.  You can follow Charlotte Hubbard on Amazon and they will update you on new releases.  I received a complimentary copy of A Simple Vow from NetGalley in exchange for an honest evaluation of the book.

I hope you liked my review.  If you did, please consider becoming  a member of my blog.  I am off to cook my dinner (chicken on the grill) and read. I am currently enjoying Murder, Handcrafted by Isabella Alan (aka Amanda Flowers).  May all of you have an enjoyable and relaxing evening (or fun and frantic if you prefer).  Take care and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader

Friday, May 27, 2016

Ghostwriter Anonymous

Happy Sunscreen Protection Day!  It is important to protect your skin (skin cancer is no joke). Living in Florida, I use a moisturizer with sunscreen in it.  It gets very hot during the summer and you can easily get burnt (I seem to burn very easily).  If you are doing an outdoor activity, you should put on sunscreen (even on a cloudy day).  Do I sound like one of the service announcements?  My father failed to use sunscreen and had a continual problem with skin cancer because of it (he worked outside quite a bit).

Ghostwriter Anonymous by Noreen Wald is the first book in A Jake O’Hara Mystery series.  Jacqueline Grace O’Hara was nicknamed Jake by her father.  Jake’s is a ghostwriter by profession which means she does the work, but she does not get the credit. Jake belongs to a support group for ghostwriters (called—wait for it—Ghostwriter Anonymous) and they help each other.  Jake is excited about her latest job.  She is going to write for Kate Lloyd Connors, the mystery writer.  Her friend and fellow ghostwriter, Barbara is a little worried about her current writing gig (Mafia Don’s daughter spilling secrets).  Jake tried to reassure her, but maybe Barbara had a right to be nervous.  Barbara soon turns up dead.  And she is only the first victim.  Jake tries to find the culprit with the help of her (unhelpful) friends.  Will Jake be able to find the killer before Jake ends up a ghost?

I was not a big fan of Ghostwriter Anonymous.  It was alright.  It is an easy to read novel with a mystery that I solved immediately.  My favorite part of the book was the last line (it gave me a good laugh).  I would love to share it, but the last line is a major spoiler.  I felt that the book spent more time of Jake's newly whitened teeth (she mentions it quite frequently) and the ghostwriter group than on the mystery.  I give Ghostwriter Anonymous 2.5 out of 5 stars.  The book does have a good pace which makes the book easier to read.  I guess I am just not a fan of the silly, humorous  type of novels.  I like mystery books for the mystery and this novel was very light on that subject.  This is just not my type of book (of course, my mother says I am lacking in the humor department)!  I believe I will skip the other books in the series.

To check out the other books by Noreen Wald, visit Amazon. I received a complimentary copy of Ghostwriter Anonymous from NetGalley in exchange for an honest evaluation of the novel.  

Thank you for reading my latest review.  I have told you about my Doozy and I thought I would share a picture with you (see below). You can see he has El Diablo (his toy) with him.  I am currently reading The Calamity Cafe by Gayle Leeson.  I hope everyone has a wonderful and enjoyable day!  You deserve it.  Take care and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader

This is my Doozy!

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Most Wanted

Happy Sally Ride Day!  It is a day to honor the first women into space (she was a mission specialist on Challenger in 1983).  Miss Penny (my fifteen year old calico) sat on my keyboard (if I do not want her on it, she will get on it).  Now the virtual keyboard keeps popping up (and I cannot get rid of it).  I went into settings and thought I had it fixed.  Nope! Everytime I go to type something, it comes up with a "bing".  I think the computer is trying to annoy me (and drive me crazy--which is a short trip according to my mother).

Most Wanted by Lisa Scottoline involves an interesting moral dilemma.  Christine Nilsson, schoolteacher, and her husband, Marcus are finally pregnant.  They have been trying to get pregnant for quite some time.  After a round of tests, it is discovered that Marcus is the culprit.  They decided to use a sperm bank and picked a man that looked like Marcus.  Then Christine sees a news report about Zachary Jeffcoat being arrested for murder.  This man, Zachary, looks just like their donor.  Is it him?  Christine is sure it is the same man and sets out to find the truth.  If their donor really is a murderer, what will they do about their baby?  Christine finds herself trying to prove Zachary’s innocence (hires him a lawyer). 

I found Most Wanted to be an unsurprising novel that contains quite a bit superfluous writing.  The story goes on for way too long (I started skimming and wondering if the novel would ever end).  The book shows a woman who is out of control and no one stops her (blamed on hormones).   Most Wanted was less than acceptable (and not worth $14.99 for an ebook).  I am surprised that this book was written by Lisa Scottoline.  I found the book to be expected (predictable) especially the ending.   I kept hoping for something unexpected or surprising (like killing off the whiny husband).  I give Most Wanted 2 out of 5 stars.  The characters were not enjoyable (or likeable) especially the husband, Marcus (he had some serious issues).  If you want a 101 on sperm banks, then you will want to read this book.  If you are looking for a crime novel/thriller, then this is not the book for you. 

You can follow Lisa Scottoline on Facebook. I received a complimentary copy of Most Wanted from NetGalley in exchange for an honest evaluation of the novel.

I am currently reading Books of a Feather by Kate Carlisle (I love this series).  I am off to spray paint some furniture (part of the redecorating).  I hope all of you have had an enjoyable day.  Take care and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Enchanted Islands

Happy Wednesday!  I spent the afternoon cleaning shelves in my room. The room used to be my parents den (formerly my daughter's bedroom), and it is now my bedroom (I moved to be closer to my mother in case of a problem).  I am moving out my mother's things (Department 56 Snow Village houses), and moving in my books.  I have discovered that I need many, many more shelves (there seems to be piles of them everywhere)! I am trying to figure out which pictures can come down in the living room so I can add shelves (you never get rid of the books)! Today is National Wine Day (a good one).  Pop the cork (or unscrew the cap) and enjoy a glass of wine tonight!  

Enchanted Islands by Allison Amend is a historical novel.  This is the story of Frances “Fanny” Frankowski (later shortens it to Frank).  Fanny is eighty-two years old and telling the reader her story (fictionalized account).  Fanny was born in Duluth, Minnesota on August 3, 1882.  Fanny was born to a Polish family that had immigrated to the United States.  Fanny meets Rosalie Mendel. Rosalie comes from a Jewish family that encourages education.  The Mendel has a nice apartment and clothes with plenty of books.  Fanny was looking forward to high school until her parents told her that she had enough education and forced her out to work (though she did evade it for a while through a little trickery).  But life is not always greener on the other side.  Fanny soon comes to find out that Rosalie’s life is not all it appears.  Fanny tries to help Rosalie but ends up getting shut out.  Then one day Rosalie is ready to flee.  They both take off to Chicago.  Fanny gets a job and finds a nice beau.  Things are great until Rosalie betrays Fanny.  Then Fanny heads off on her own.  Fanny finishes high school and gets a college education.  She ultimately ends up in California.  After teaching for many years, Fanny needs a change.  She becomes a secretary at the Twelfth District Office of Naval Intelligence.  This is where Fanny reconnects with her old friend, Rosalie (I cannot believe Fanny forgave her).  One day Fanny is approached about a special assignment.  Lt. Commander Ainslie Conway is an intelligence operator (and ten years younger than Fanny).  Ainslie needs a wife for a mission in Galapagos Islands (also known as the Enchanted Isles).  Fanny agrees to marry Ainslie (they can annul it after the mission) and they set out for training.  The two eventually spend a couple of years on the Galapagos Islands where there is no electricity, running water, homes, etc (it sounded awful).  They have to take everything with them.  This is before World War II and they are checking out the German presence in the area.  How will they fare on the island?  Will their mission be successful?  See what happens to Fanny by reading the Enchanted Islands.

Enchanted Islands is a misleading novel.  It is really about Fanny and Rosalie.  How their friendship shaped their lives and how it endured despite betrayal and time apart.  Very little of the book is devoted to the spy mission and the time the two spent on the islands.  This novel started out interesting, but then the pace slowed down considerably (I believe slugs travel faster than the pace of this book).   Enchanted Islands is nicely written, but it is lacking spark (something/anything exciting).   It just drags on until the end.  There are intimate scenes in the novel (and some inappropriate scenes with a minor) and violence.  I did not understand Frances with relation to her “marriage”.  It was supposed to be a marriage of convenience, but she acted like this was a real marriage (it was odd).  This novel is based on real life people, but Enchanted Islands is fiction.  I give Enchanted Islands 3 out of 5 stars (just okay).  If you are looking for an intriguing spy novel, keep looking.    

You can follow Allison Amend on Amazon.  I received a complimentary copy of Enchanted Islands in exchange for an honest evaluation of the novel.

I appreciate you taking the time out of your day to stop by and read my review.  I am off to relax.  I am just staring The Lie by C.L. Taylor and reading Fate of the Fallen by Ellery Adams (I am disappointed with this novel).  Have a great evening.  Take care and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Murder in Morningside

Thank you for stopping by!  I got my mother to her appointment (though she did drag her feet a little and whine on the way).  It is National Missing Children's Day.  They suggest that you go over safety issues with your child (not talking to strangers, get into strangers car, go home with someone you do not know) and keep a safety kit on your child (with a current photo, fingerprints, and such).  You can get a safety kit from your local police station.  You can never be too careful with your child.

Murder at Morningside by Sandra Bretting is the first A Missy DuBois Mystery novel.  Melissa “Missy” DuBois and her friend, Ambrose are at the Morningside Plantation to assist with a wedding of Trinity and Sterling. Ambrose is doing the gown (owns Ambrose’s Allure Couture) and Missy the veil (owns Crowning Glory).  Unfortunately, before the bride and groom so can say their I Do’s, the bride is found dead in the bathroom (what a horrible place to kick the bucket).  Who would want to kill a pregnant woman about to be married (Missy noticed the baby bump earlier in the day)?  Missy had met Ivy Solomon, step-mother of the bride, earlier at a tea (and hat contest) Missy now feels that they are friends and sets out to find the killer (friends after an hour).  Trinity was well-liked, but her father Herbert Solomon was not because of his oil refinery (and cheapskate ways).  Would someone kill Trinity to get back at her father?  Then there is the strange “ghost” being seen around the hotel.  Will Missy be able to find the killer?  You will have to read Murder at Morningside to get the answer.

I found Murder at Morningside to be contrived (very fake).  Missy DuBois is a true Southern woman (or what people believe a Southern woman to be) who keeps using various southern expressions like “bless her poor little heart” and “butter my biscuit” (I have yet to hear one southern person say any of these phrases.  Maybe I live in the wrong state).  I was not a fan of Missy (she was okay but no very believable as a real life character).  How can you consider someone a friend after knowing them an hour?  It seemed like a lame excuse to look into a murder (it would have been better if she had just admitted she was to curious for her own good). The characters were not developed.  We get basic information on them, but they were not brought to life.  There is quite a bit about a fashion show that Missy volunteers herself and Ambrose to organize and run (in a very short amount of time from scratch which is unlikely).  The book is easy to read, but I just did not enjoy it.   The mystery was child’s play to solve (the killer was extremely apparent).  I give Murder at Morningside 2.5 out of 5 stars.  I am not a fan of these silly mystery novels (which I do not know they are until I read them).  I will not be reading the next book in the series (for which I am sure the author will grateful). Murder at Morningside came out today along with Enchanted Islands by Allison Amend (which was boring).

You can follow Sandra Bretting on Amazon (to get updates on her latest novels).  The next book in the series is Something Foul at Sweetwater.  It will be out on December 20 (subject to change without notice).  I received a complimentary copy of Murder at Morningside from NetGalley in exchange for an honest evaluation of the novel.  

Please remember that this review contains my feelings about the book. Just because I did not enjoy it, does not mean that you will not.  I do appreciate you visiting my blog and checking out my latest review.  Have a nice, relaxing evening (or fun and exciting if that is what you wish). Take care and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader

Monday, May 23, 2016

Hold Still

Welcome back!  Did you know that on May 23 . . . in 1995 the first version of Java programming language is released (I had a good time learning programming language during this decade).  Adam Lambert became the first openly gay artist to debut at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 charts in 2012!  In 1829 the accordion patent was granted to Cyrill Demian in Vienna, Austria (who wishes he had not invented the accordion).

Hold Still by Lynn Steger Strong is a difficult novel to enjoy.  Maya Taylor is at her wit’s end with her daughter, Ellie (who is twenty).  Ellie’s life is out of control with bad choices.  Maya sends her daughter to Florida to be a nanny to a friend.  Unfortunately, it turns out to be a bad decision.  An incident fractures apart both families and sends Ellie spiraling further out of control.  Can Maya save her daughter? 

Hold Still is told from Maya and Ellie’s point-of-views (goes back and forth).  In addition, it jumps around to different times (back and forth) to tell the story.  These two things lead to a very confusing book (and it did not need to be) that I had a hard time finishing.  The majority of the book leads up to the “incident” and then what happened afterward.  The incident is easy to figure out (Florida, sun, sand, ocean), but the writer leaves the reader in the dark.  I found that I did not like the characters at all which then leads to not caring what happens to them (thus unenjoyable read).  The ending was odd (I actually wrote down weird).  This is a story that is just told.  It is lacking in emotions and depth (I just did not feel it).   I give Hold Still 1 out of 5 stars. 

You can follow Lynn Steger Strong on Amazon.  I received a complimentary copy of Hold Still from NetGalley (and the publisher) in exchange for an honest evaluation of the novel.

I am off to watch my shows and relax.  I have to take my mother to a doctor's appointment tomorrow (another one).  At least I know she will not try and cancel this one (it took a year and a half to get in to see him). Take care and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader

Sister Eve and the Blue Nun

Happy Lucky Penny Day!  Do you have a lucky penny?  I have a unique penny (not necessarily lucky).  It was flattened and embossed with a design.  They make great charms (for jewelry).  

Sister Eve and the Blue Nun by Lynne Hinton is the third book in A Divine Private Detective Agency Mystery series.  Sister Eve is trying to decide whether to stay a nun or become a private detective with her father’s agency (she has been conflicted for a while).  Sister Evangeline or Sister Eve (as she prefers) is currently without a convent (since the decision was made to make it strictly a boy’s club at Our Lady of Guadalupe in Pecos, New Mexico).  Sister Eve has returned for a conference (she is currently living with her father since his illness) on Sister Maria de Jesus de Agreda (The Blue Nun).  Dr. Kelly Middlesworth, a professor in religion, has studied The Blue Nun.  She is going to give a speech at the beginning of the conference.  Kelly is also the sister to Brother Anthony, a monk with the order.  Anthony gave Kelly some special papers he had recently discovered regarding The Blue Nun.  He told her to tell no one about them, but he knew she would want to see them.  Unfortunately, Kelly did not keep the secret.  Sister Eve finds Brother Anthony upset and he confesses that he discovered Kelly dead in her room.  After a lengthy discussion, Sister Eve goes to Kelly’s room to investigate (telling Anthony to stay put which he does not do).  Kelly is indeed dead in her room.  Sister Eve takes in every detail of the room (while messing with evidence).  She is soon joined by Father Oliver.  Anthony went to Father Oliver and told him the news (told you he would not stay put).  They then both discuss the incident in the room and look to see if the papers are still there (no one makes a move to call the police).  They soon hear sirens (at last, someone called the authorities).  Unfortunately, Sister Eve breaks a vital piece of evidence upon hearing the sirens and then takes another clue with her upon leaving the room (won’t she make a great private detective).  The evidence points to Brother Anthony as the killer, but Sister Eve knows he could not kill his sister.  Sister Eve sets out to prove his innocence and find the missing papers.

As I am sure you can tell, I did not enjoy Sister Eve and the Blue Nun.  This book is bogged down with details.  We were subjected to many details including Eve including items in a room, the scenery, knocking on a door, putting a car in reverse, etc.  The pace is very slow and only picks up a little towards the end. The idea of a nun investigating crimes is a good one, but I did not like this author’s interpretation.  Some information is repeated often (I think they went over the details of the murder in the second chapter two to three times).  There are very few clues, but they are all you need to solve the crime (the killer was obvious).  A lot of the book is devoted to Sister Eve’s thinking (and over thinking).  One thing that was extremely annoying was Sister Eve’s constantly correctly people on the pronunciation of her late name (Divine).  She did it every time she gave her last name.  But when she is corrected on the proper pronunciation of someone else’s name, she does not like it (very contradictory).  While this is the third book in the series, it can be read without having enjoyed the previous books.  I give Sister Eve and the Blue Nun 2.5 out of 5 stars.  This book was just not for me.

The other novels in the A Divine Private Detective Agency Mystery series are Sister Eve, Private Eye and The Case of the Sin City Sister.  I received a complimentary copy of Sister Eve and the Blue Nun from NetGalley and BookLook Bloggers in exchange for an honest evaluation of the novel.  

I am off to finish dinner.  I am making fried potatoes with dinner (for my mother) and it involves a lot of hand washing.  I am allergic to potatoes and will break out in a rash (same problem with many gloves).  I am lucky to have found a machine that will peel them for me!  It is wonderful (I then just have to slice).  I am currently reading Grilled for Murder by Maddie Day.  I hope all of you have had a great day and enjoy a nice, relaxing evening.  Take care and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Play Dead

Happy Sunday!  The beginning of a new week.  It is World Goth Day which originated in the United Kingdom in 2009 (and quickly spread around the world).  Goth is not just a way of dressing (we tend to think of people with black hair, black nail polish, and black clothing).  You can find out more here.  One of my cats, Miss Penny has decided to take up residence in my bathroom.  I have told her that she is not.  Miss Penny, though, is one stubborn cat.  I wonder which one of us will win (most like Miss Penny).  I do not understand why she would pick my bathroom over her luxurious cat tree.

Play Dead by Angela Marsons is the fourth D.I. Kim Stone novel.  Kim Stone and her team are being given a “treat” by their boss, Detective Chief Inspector Woodward for solving their latest case.  They are being sent to Westerley, a body farm. The West Mercia precinct recently solved two cold cases thanks to information from Westerley.  Woodward is hoping his team will benefit from the trip.  Unfortunately, the stumble across a body that is not a part of the body farm.   Someone beat and killed a woman and then dumped her body at Westerley (it would seem like the perfect dump site).  How did they get onto the property without anyone noticing?  While searching for clues, another body turns up in similar condition.  Are the two connected in any way (besides the killer)?  Then reporter, Tracy Frost turns up missing. As much as Kim dislikes Tracy, she sets out to find her before it is too late.  Will Kim and her team be able to find the killer before Tracy becomes his third victim?

Play Dead was a wonderful novel.  Play Dead is fast paced, has a complex mystery, and great, well-developed characters.  I did not want to put it down (so I just kept reading).  Play Dead was my favorite book in the series.  I liked how Kim is developing and changing and the addition of Barney, her dog, in her life.  We also get more details on Kim’s childhood and it will help you understand her trust issues.  The mystery will draw you in and there is a good twist at the end that most people will not see coming.  It was good to get more information on Tracy Frost (it will help you to understand her better).  While Play Dead can be read alone, I would highly suggest you go back and read the other book in the series.  It will help you know and understand the characters. One thing that gave me a good laugh is the TARDIS reference (you have to be a Doctor Who fan to get it).   I give Play Dead 5 out of 5 stars.  I cannot wait to read the next book in the D.I. Kim Stone series (let’s hope the author and publisher do not keep us waiting long).

The other novels in the D.I. Kim Stone series are Silent Scream, Evil Games, and Lost Girls.  I received a complimentary copy of Play Dead from NetGalley (and the publisher) in exchange for an honest evaluation of the book.

I am off to do some chores.  Thank you for taking the time to visit and read my latest review.  I hope all of you have a lovely day and make sure you take time out for yourself.  Take care and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader

Saturday, May 21, 2016

A Killer Ball at Honeychurch Hall

Happy Armed Forced Day!  This is a day to honor those men and women who serve bravely in all the branch of the armed forces. This day was created and first celebrated on May 20, 1950.  My father served in the navy and he had some very interesting stories.  I especially enjoyed hearing about the Panama Canal.  If you have a parent who was in the armed forces, please take the time to listen to their reminisces.

A Killer Ball in Honeychurch Hall by Hannah Dennison is the third book in the Honeychurch Hall Mystery series.  Katherine “Kat” Stanford is starting out her new business Kat’s Collectibles and Valuation Services.  Kat has been called up to the hall to evaluate and crate up a William Dobson painting (they need the money).  The ceiling in the King’s Parlor has suffered severe water damage and is in desperate need of repair (it is Elizabethan and will need a specialist to fix it).  While looking around Kat discovers a priest hole (a hidden room).  Upon entering Kat stumbles and discovers another hidey hole (it is called a double hide) and a dead body.  The body is that of a woman and it looks like she has been there for some time.  Who is this woman and how did she end up the double hide?  The priest hole is usually only told to the owner of the house who then passes it along to his heir.  Detective Inspector Shawn Cropper is called out.  Upon investigation it is discovered that this woman disappeared in June of 1958.  This leads the investigation towards Kat’s mum, Iris.  Iris is known for her secrets and not telling the truth.  Iris needs to be more forthcoming this time or she could end up in jail.  Kat will have her work cut out for her finding the real killer.

A Killer Ball in Honeychurch Hall is not a stand-alone book.  You do need to read other books in the series, otherwise the story can be confusing (trust me on this).  Some things are explained (from prior books), but not everything.  The mother, Iris was not likeable to me.  I think she is supposed to come across as humorous (and mysterious), but I just found Iris annoying.  She was too over-the-top (and not in a good way).  Secrets and lies are all Iris tells even to her daughter (and everyone else).  The murder mystery was simple, and I solved it early in the book.  There are quite a few characters in the book which can be befuddling and there is quite a bit going on.  I just told you about the murder.  There is a man sneaking about the property; Harry, the Earl’s son, is having trouble in school and everyone blames Kat because she convinced them to let Harry go to the local school; Alfred, Iris’ brother, is a thief and forger (and up to no good) are just a few things going on in A Killer Ball in Honeychurch Hall.  I give A Killer Ball in Honeychurch Hall 3 out of 5 stars. It was okay (just not for me).  The book is easy to read and has a good pace.  I am just not a fan of this type of humor and the quirky, exaggerated characters (I have no problem with quirky but do they have to be so overstated).  But many readers will enjoy it (especially if you are a fan of the series or if you like comedies). 

The other books in the Honeychurch Hall Mystery series are Murder at Honeychurch Hall and Deadly Desires at Honeychurch Hall.  I received a complimentary copy of the novel from NetGalley and the publisher (through the Cozy Mystery Review Crew) in exchange for an honest evaluation of the book.

I am currently enjoying Murder Most Fowl by Edith Maxwell.  Do not forget that Outlander is on tonight if you enjoy that show (which I do).  I was watching the season one of Wayward Pines today before the new season starts (I wish they would replay the last season for all shows). Have a wonderful evening!  Take care and Happy Reading.

The Avid Reader

Friday, May 20, 2016

Tall Tail: A Mrs. Murphy Mystery

It is National Bike to Work Day!  This day was started by the League of American Bicyclists in 1956 as a part of National Bike Month.  It is encourage people to set aside their motor vehicles for one day and ride a bike to work.  It is good exercise and good for the environment.  In 1609 Shakespeare's sonnets are published in London for the first time (perhaps illicitly) by the Thomas Thorpe, the publisher.  On a funny note the first traffic ticket issued in New York City was to taxi driver, Jacob German.  He was arrested for speeding while going 12 miles per hour on Lexington Avenue! If you enjoy mystery suspense/thriller novels check out Play Dead by Angela Marsons.  It is wonderful and released today. I will be reviewing it this weekend.

Tall Tail:  A Mrs. Murphy Mystery by Rita Mae Brown is the twenty-fifth book in the Mrs. Murphy Mystery series.  Harry Haristeen is driving down the road with her brood (her animals) in Crozet, Virginia when another car comes careening down the road.  The other driver ends up in an accident near the Avenging Angel statute in the local cemetery.  Harry (short for Mary Minor Haristeen) hurries over to check on the driver and finds Barbara Leader dead at the wheel.  Barbara is the nurse for Susan’s paternal grandfather, Samuel Holloway (former governor of the state).  Barbara had been such a help with Samuel (lifting his spirits).  Samuel has leukemia and is slowly dying.  His mind, though, is still sharp and he is busy working on his biography.  A few days later a media company is broken into.  Harry was using the company to shoot video for her website and they had recently shot footage at Big Rawly, the Holloway estate.  Coincidence or is something more sinister afoot in this small town?

It is 1784 in Virginia when Francisco Selisse is murdered.  It is believed Moses, a slave killed him and his wife, Ailee is an accomplice.  Maureen Selisse, the victim’s wife, was present at the time.  Catherine and John Schuyler along with Rachel and Charles West help Moses and Ailee.  They did not commit the crime, but no one will believe a slave.  Francisco is buried in the local cemetery with a beautiful Italian statue of an Avenging Angel marking his grave.  How does the past tie in with what is happening in the present?

I have not read A Mrs. Murphy Mystery is a few years so when I saw this novel up for review, I thought it would be nice to catch up.  I found Tall Tail to be more of life (and the people) in Crozet than a mystery novel. We get a lot of information about golf, Harry’s farm, horses, politics (a lot about politics) and the various animals.  TallTail is nicely written and entertaining, but the mystery was easy to figure out.  The beginning can be very confusing if you have not read any of the other books in the series especially when it starts going back in time (you have to get quite a bit into the book to see how the past and present relate).  I give Tall Tail 3 out of 5 stars.  I believe fans of the series will enjoy Tall Tail.

There are twenty-four other books in the A Mrs. Murphy Mystery series. You can find the complete list here. I received a complimentary copy of Tall Tail from NetGalley in exchange for an honest evaluation of the novel. 

Tonight is the Grimm season finale (I love that show).  I hope all of you had a delightful (and non-stressful) day!  I am off to rest my back. I think I pulled something on the right side.  I am currently enjoying Dear Thing by Julie Cohen and Rosalia's Bittersweet Pastry Shop by Rosanna Chiofalo.  Enjoy your evening, take care, and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader