Thursday, June 30, 2016

Sunshine Beach

With the Fourth of July weekend coming up, I thought you might be looking for a beach (lake, backyard, or comfy chair) read!  Sunshine Beach fits the bill!  It will also give you a break from all the cozy mysteries I have been reviewing recently (and I have more coming up).  My plumbing leak is fixed, and I am a few hundred dollars poorer.  The poor guy was sweating buckets after being in our hot attic.  I definitely need to learn how to do plumbing repairs.

Sunshine Beach by Wendy Wax is the fourth book in the Ten Beach Road series.  The story starts in 1952 at the Sunshine Beach Club in Pass-a-Grille, Florida.  A little girl that likes to show off who lives with her parents, older sister, and grandparents at the Sunshine Hotel and Beach Club.  We then return to the present day as the group slowly returns to Bella Flora (also in Pass-a-Grille).  Nicole, Madeline, Avery, and Kyra need to discuss what they are going to do now.  They walked out on the home improvement they were working on after the network made them all look horrible and for the treatment they received.  The group decides to produce a show on their terms, but they need a new project.  They need a local project to save on costs.  Kyra is out walking with her son, Dustin and discovers the abandoned Sunshine Hotel and Beach Club.  It would be the perfect project.  The owner turns out to be Renee Franklin (John Franklin’s wife) and her sister, Annelise Handleman (a real piece of work).  The two sisters inherited the property jointly (which means they both have to agree on the disposition of the estate).  But because of what happened to their parents, the two sisters (especially Annelise) cannot move on.  Renee and Annelise never found out what happened to their mother.  She disappeared and was never heard from again.  They agree to let the four women work on the hotel, if the investigation into their mother’s disappearance is reopened.  Annelise, an avid crime show watcher, is convinced that evidence will still exist in her parent’s cottage (which has not been touched).  Will the ladies be able to make their own show and revitalize the Sunshine Hotel? Can the police figure out what happened to Renee and Annelise’s parents?  You will have to read Sunshine Beach to find out!

I normally enjoy reading the books in this series (there a nice break) and was looking forward to this latest installment.  But Sunshine Beach was a big letdown.  It seemed to dwell more on Nicole and Joe’s relationship and Nicole’s commitment issues (as well as her determined/stubborn attitude); Malcolm Dyer (Nicole’s brother and the person responsible for the Ponzi scheme) wanting to see Nicole (and it would help the FBI), but she does not wish to see him (and dwells on it for many pages); Kyra and Daniel Deranian’s relationship (even though he is married), the press (which are camped out in front of Bella Flora), and their son, Dustin; Avery having trouble dealing with the loss of her mother, Deidre Morgan (they were estranged for more than two decades); and Maddie’s romance with recovering rock-n-roll star, Will Hightower and her insecurities.  I have to admit that the characters (that I normally enjoyed) got on my nerves in Sunshine Beach (too many issues especially with Nicole).  I thought the pace was slow and the renovation project rushed.  This book just was okay.   I give Sunshine Beach 3 out of 5 stars.    There was definitely something lacking in Sunshine Beach.  This book was just not up to Wendy Wax’s usual standards.  Sunshine Beach can be read as a stand-alone novel.  Ms. Wax does a great job of updating the reader on what happened in the previous novels.  I will probably read the next book in the series, but I think it should be the last book.  It is time to put Ten Beach Road series to bed (let it go out with the tides).

The other novels in the Ten Beach Road Novel series are Ten Beach Road, Ocean Beach, Christmas at the Beach (a novella), and The House on Mermaid Point.  I received a complimentary copy of Sunshine Beach from NetGalley (and the wonderful publisher) in exchange for an honest evaluation of the novel.

I hope all of you had a delightful Thursday.  I appreciate you taking time out to stop by and visit.  I am currently reading A Dark and Stormy Murder by Julia Buckley. I am off to eat dinner and, finally, relax.  May all of you have a magical evening!  Take care and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Tea Cups and Carnage

We are halfway through the week and then we get to enjoy a three day weekend!  The Fourth of July will be here before you know it. I am giving up on the plumbing.  If it was anywhere but the attic (where it is so very hot), I would keep going.  But I have had enough of the itchy insulation (I break out in a horrible rash).  I am calling a plumber and letting them fix it. I admit defeat!  I believe I should have taken a plumbing course in college (silly me, I took computer classes).

Tea Cups and Carnage by Lynn Cahoon is the seventh book in A Tourist Trap Mystery series.  Jill Gardner lives in South Cove, California and owns Coffee, Books, and More (CBM).  It is a shop that sells coffee, treats, and books (she combined two things she loves and enjoys).  Jill is getting ready for the Summer Beach Blast Party that the town is hosting.  CBM will have their mobile coffee annex at the beach which will stretch their staff thin (she really should have hired more help).  There is a new business in town. Kathi Corbin is from Melaire, Texas (a small town) and opening a store called Tea Hee (a very odd name for a shop).  The men in town are fascinated by Kathi and her Southern accent (much to the other women’s puzzlement).  Things are looking up until a motorcycle riding man starts causing havoc around town.  The police keep trying to catch him, but they have not succeeded.  Aunt Jackie ended up hurting her ankle trying to avoid being hit by this maniac.  Then a woman is going around to the various shops looking for a job.  Ivy Corbin has followed her sister to South Cove from Texas (she is supposed to be taking care of their father).  There is evidently difficulty between the sisters.  Then the police are called out to a dead body at The Coastal Inn.  At first they do not know his identity, but, after a little investigating, they find out that it is Daryl Corbin (another Corbin).  He is a cousin to the sisters.  Something smells fishy in South Cove, and it is not from the nearby ocean.  When Kathy ends up at the top of the suspect list, Jill tries to clear her name. Kathi seems to be running from her past, and it has caught up with her in South Cove.  Jill’s boyfriend, Greg King (and South Cove Police Detective) does not like her investigating (even though it usually helps his case).  Jill is also having an issue with CBM.  A check for the library event that Jill helping organize goes missing.  The bank knows it has been cashed, but they are unable to provide any further information at this time (which is extremely odd).  In the meantime, Jill is worried and looks into the matter. Could one of her loyal employees taken the check?  It is going to be a busy week in South Cove.  Join Jill and her friends for another adventure in Tea Cups and Carnage!

Tea Cups and Carnage was a cute story.  It is easy to read and had a good flow.  The mystery, though, was simple and easy to solve (I wanted it to be more complicated).  I also did not understand why Jill would accuse her loyal employees of taking the check (can you imagine).  There is a perfectly logical explanation for the missing check staring her in the face (spoiler), but it does not seem to occur to Jill.  There were several things happening in the book (too much).  I did not mention everything (yes, there is more).  The novel was a little all of the place.  It needed more focus (and not on the check).  The mystery was shoved in the background in this novel instead of being center stage.  There also needs to be less focus on the romances of the various characters.  I like a little romance in a cozy mystery, but it should not be the focal point.  I give Tea Cups and Carnage 3 out of 5 stars.  I will be reading the next book in A Tourist Trap Mystery series when it comes out (a writer can have an off book now and then).  I do hope that Lynn Cahoon gives her characters more than cheesecake in the next novel (there was quite a bit of it in Tea Cups and Carnage).  I believe Coffee, Books, and More needs a variety of treats for its customers (and readers)!

The other novels in A Tourist Trap Mystery series are Guidebook to Murder, Mission to Murder, If the Shoe Kills, Dressed to Kill, Killer Run, and Murder on Wheels.  I received a complimentary copy of Tea Cups and Carnage from NetGalley (and the publisher) in exchange for an honest evaluation of the book.

I am currently reading Fixin to Die by Tonya Kappes.  It is the first book in A Kenni Lowry Mystery series. I hope all of you had a great Wednesday. Take care and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

The Calamity Cafe

It has been a day!  I believe the leak is fixed for now.  I will have to change out the pipe (eventually) and put in a shut off valve, but it will work for now.  But, I was in the attic (a very tiny crawlspace) when I heard a big noise.  The bathroom ceiling fell down (well, technically, only half of it). Something else I will need to fix.  I am grateful that it is an easy dry wall patch job (I actually know how to do it).  Home ownership is not for the weak!  

The Calamity Café by Gayle Leeson is the first book in A Down South Café Mystery series.  Amy Flowers is ready to open her own café in Winter Garden, Virginia.  She would love to buy Lou’s Joint where she has been working as a waitress for the last year (while taking care of her grandmother for the last year), but Lou Lou Holman does not wish to sell.  Lou Lou’s son, Pete, though, would love for the restaurant to be sold (and get out from under his mother’s thumb).  Amy could build her own place, but it would much easier to remodel an existing structure.  Amy is surprised when she gets a call asking her to a meeting at the café to discuss the sale (Pete has been talking to his mom).  Amy arrives at the café and no one answers.  She goes back to the office and finds Lou Loud dead.  Somehow, Amy ends up the prime suspect (just because she wanted to buy the place, had a disagreement with Lou Lou, and quit her job).  If Amy wants to open her Down South Cafe, she will need to get her name off the suspect list (and hopefully solve the murder). 

The Calamity Café is not bad for a first book.  With a little work, this could be a good series.  The book has a good pace (which I liked) and I found the book easy to read.  The characters need more development (of course), but they have potential.  Amy cried a wee bit too much in this book (it got on my nerves).  I liked that there were several suspects in the crime and is was interesting how it tied back to an eighty-year-old crime.  I did wonder how Amy was planning on opening a café without a business plan, budget, etc. (they definitely help when opening a new business).  I give The Calamity Café 3.5 out of 5 stars.  I will be reading the next book in A Down South Café Mystery series.

Did you know that Gayle Leeson has books under other names?  She writes one of my favorite series under the name Amanda Lee.  It is the Embroidery Mystery series.  If you have not read any of the books in that series yet, you should check them out. I received a complimentary copy of The Calamity Café in exchange for an honest evaluation of the book.

I am off to collapse on my bed (I am in agony) and read Borrowing Death by Cathy Pegau.  I will be back tomorrow with another great review.   Have an enchanting evening!  Take care and Happy Reading.

The Avid Reader

Tea with Jam and Dread

I hope all of you are off to a good start on this Tuesday morning!  It is book release day! There are some great books coming out.  In the cozy mystery category are Caught Bread Handed by Ellie Alexander, Cracked to Death by Cheryl Hollon (it's good), Final Fondue by Maya Corrigan (very good), Engaged in Death by Stephanie Blackmoore (very good), and Something's Knot Kosher by Mary Marks (it's good too)!  If you enjoy Amish novels, check out The Courtship Basket by Amy Clipston (sweet novel) and Sweet as Honey by Jennifer Beckstrand (cute story).  I will post reviews of all these novels soon!

Tea with Jam and Dread by Tamar Myers is the twentieth book in the Pennsylvania Dutch Mystery series.  Magdalena Portulacca Yoder Rosen is fifty years old, a Mennonite, married to Dr. Gabriel Rosen, and mayor for the town.  Magdalena also runs The PennDutch Inn in Hernia, Pennsylvania.  Agnes has convinced Magdalena that she needs to change the image of the inn (instead of giving them an “Amish” experience by working them death and charging guests for it).  Agnes has too much time on her hands since the death of her husband, Doc Shafer (they were married for ten days).  Agnes believes they should appeal to English nobility and Magdalena can be the “grossest hostess” (in other words show them that we are really rude Americans).  The first guests of the new inn are the Earl of Grimsley-Snodgrass (this was their name) and his family (wife and Countess=Aubrey; Lady Celia=daughter; Viscount Rupert=eldest son and twin; Mr. Sebastian=youngest son).  They are in for a rude awakening at The PennDutch Inn (like having to bring in their own bags).  Things are off to a great start until they find a mummified body on top of the lift (elevator).  Then one of Earl’s sons disappear off a cliff (they look alike so it is hard to tell them apart).  Though it is odd that no one can find a body.  There is something very fishy about this group.  Where exactly did Agnes find them?  Magdalena sets out to investigate the two crimes.

I had a hard time getting through this book.  Tea with Jam and Dread went from silly to idiotic to moronic.  This is the worst book I have read in quite some time.  Some information is repeated frequently (like the author needed filler).  There are also pages of arguing, mudslinging, insults, and long annoying rants.  The words “Mennonite” “Jewish” and “hunky Gabe” were repeated so often that it was ridiculous.  Magdalena would go off on tangents and get off track.  She would then say “Now where was I” and “Oh yeah” (this happened quite often during the course of the novel). I’m sorry, but the whole story was just ridiculous.  I wondered if the author had a problem with religion the way various religious groups were mentioned and talked about (it was strange).  Tea with Jam and Dread was extremely disappointing.  It is nothing like the early books in the series.  I give Tea with Jam and Dread 1 out of 5 stars. 

Too Many Cooks Spoil the Broth is the first book in the series (and you can find the other eighteen on Amazon).  I received a complimentary copy of Tea with Jam and Dread from NetGalley in exchange for an honest evaluation of the novel.

Thank you for stopping by!  I am off on my plumbing adventure! Wish me luck.  Take care and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader

Monday, June 27, 2016

Dead End Street

It's Monday!  I hope all of you have had a great day so far.  I visited the hardware store to see about fixing my leaky pipe.  It is a work in progress. Then I have to find out how to repair dry wall (the ceiling)!  My daughter asked me if I was ready to move into a condo yet!  If it was not for the pets, I would happily move!  I am starting to see the appeal.

Dead End Street by Sheila Connolly is the seventh book in A Museum Mystery series.  Nell Pratt is the president of the Pennsylvania Antiquarian Society.  Nell gets a visit from Tyrone Blakeney and Cherisse Chapman.  They inform her that the Society owns a row house (slated for demolition) in North Philadelphia (at 387 Bickley Street).  They would like some assistance with a project they are working on to save neighborhoods.  Nell was under the impression that the Society had divested itself of all properties (people die and leave things to properties as well as money and other items).  Nell agrees to go with them to visit the house (she really will regret this decision).  They arrive at the house and are sitting in the car when another car comes by and starts shooting at them.  Cherisse dies from her wounds and Tyrone is severely injured.   Nell, thankfully, came out alive (with minor injuries).  James Morrison, an FBI Agent and Nell’s boyfriend, quickly arrives at the scene.  Who was the gunman’s intended target?  Because of the neighborhood, the police believe it was random violence (it occurs frequently in the area).  Nell thinks there is more to the story and sets out to get answers (but at what cost).  Join Nell on her latest investigation in Dead End Street.

I have red and enjoyed every book in A Museum Mystery series.  However, this is the first one that I did not love.  The mystery was not at the forefront of the book.  I wanted to know where were the clues.  Instead of an investigation, it is like it just played out and the killer was revealed.  It is easy to guess the identity of the killer (when the person is finally introduced) which was such a shame.  I thought maybe there would be a great twist or something unpredictable would happen (one could hope).  Dead End Street is well-written and easy to read.  Nell was a little different in this book.  I know the shooting shook her up, but she was not her usual confident self.  Nell doubted herself (quite a bit) which led to long paragraphs of Nell thinking, worrying, analyzing, and questioning.  I give Dead End Street 3.75 out of 5.  I just expected more (and have received in the past) from Sheila Connolly.  Will I read the next book in A Museum Mystery series?  Definitely.  This book might just be a fluke.  I will be sure to check out the next novel in this series.

You can follow Sheila Connolly on Facebook and Amazon.  The other books in A Museum Mystery series are Fundraising for the Dead, Let's Play Dead, Fire Engine Dead, Monument to the Dead, Razing the Dead, and Privy to the Dead.  I received a complimentary copy of Dead End Street from NetGalley (courtesy of the publisher) in exchange for an honest evaluation of the novel.

I am off to read up on plumbing repairs and enjoy dinner.  I hope all of you have a divine evening!  There are some great shows on tonight (UnReal, Devious Maids, Rizzoli and Isles, Houdini and Doyle).  Take care and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader

Alice and Oliver

Alice and Oliver by Charles Bock is the story of Alice’s diagnosis with cancer (in 1993) and her struggle to survive.  Alice and her husband, Oliver have a five-month old daughter named Doe (poor kid).   Alice, Oliver, and Doe are on their way to Alice’s hometown to visit her mother for Thanksgiving when Alice becomes very sick.  when Alice falls ill and is taken to Dr. Glenn.  Dr. Glenn discovers that Alice has an extremely low white count and immediately has her transferred by ambulance to the hospital.  The book follows Alice through the hospital, doctor’s appointments, struggle to get a nanny, understanding her insurance, billing issues, filling out the endless forms at each doctor, and her various treatments (we get details on each procedure, how the medicines affect her).  We get to see how this affects Alice and Oliver (their relationship).  Read Alice and Oliver to find out if Alice survives.

Alice and Oliver is written like Alice opened her mouth, started talking and never shut up.  We get details on everything (it is too much) from people to rooms (it is excruciating).  There is one paragraph that is particularly disgusting, and I highly suggest you avoid it (trust me you do not want to know and have this visual in your head).  I really, really did not want to finish this book (I started skimming after the first hundred pages).  I give Alice and Oliver 1 out of 5 stars.  I just did not enjoy this novel.  I read fiction as an escape and this book is more like non-fiction or reality.  This type of novel should tug at the reader’s heartstrings, but instead I found myself disliking the main characters (especially the husband).  The epilogue (takes us to 2010) was unusual.  They only thing it really lets us know is if Alice survived.  The author’s writing style did not help this book.  It was disjointed and confusing.  You were never sure who was talking (Alice, Oliver).  I’m sorry but this novel was just not for me.

You can follow Charles Bock on Amazon and on Facebook.  I received a complimentary copy of Alice and Oliver in exchange for an honest evaluation of the novel.

I want to thank all of you for visiting and reading my book reviews. You really do not know how much it means to me.  I wasn't sure if this new venture (reviewing books) would work out for me when I started a year and a half ago, but I needed something that would keep my mind sharp and me occupied.  I hoped I would find an audience that liked what I provided and I have!  I hope all of you have a fabulous Monday morning.  Take care and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader

Sunday, June 26, 2016

A Premonition of Murder

Is everyone having a wonderful Sunday?  It is the last week of June.  The month went by so very quickly.  I have been trying to fix a leak I discovered.  Plumbing fixes are not as easy as they might seem (the hard part seems to be figuring out the size of the pipe I need to replace).  If you enjoy paranormal mystery novels, Tonya Kappes has the Ghostly Southern Mysteries.  She will coming out with the fifth book in the series A Ghostly Reunion in December. Take a moment to check them out.

A Premonition of Murder by Mary Kennedy is the third book in A Dream Club Mystery series.  Taylor Black is living in Savannah, Georgia helping her sister, Allison “Ali” Black with her shop Oldies but Goodies.  Taylor and Ali have been invited by Abigail Marchand to her home Beaux Reeves.  Abigail has been having a disturbing dream, and Abigail believes it means her death is imminent.  Taylor and Ali are members of the Dream Club and Abigail was hoping they could assist her.  Taylor reassures her that the dream could mean many different things.  She promises to discuss it at their very next meeting and get back in touch with her.  Unfortunately, Abigail is found dead at the bottom of her stairs before Taylor can get back in touch with her.  Abigail was pushed down her stairs.  The Dream Club sets out to find Abigail’s killer.  It certainly helps when Ali and Taylor are contacted by Abigail’s attorney.  Abigail had left a letter requesting that the sisters take a complete inventory of the house.  They will finally get a chance to see inside Beaux Reeves (very few people ever get inside the house) and, hopefully, find some clues to help their investigation.  Will the Dream Club be able to find the killer before there is another victim?

A Premonition of Murder is the third book in the series, but it can easily be read as a stand-alone. The author did a good job with the mystery. I liked the clues and her misdirection.  I was able to pick out the killer early in the book (as soon as I read about the murder), but, thanks to the clever writing, I was starting to doubt myself a little bit (which I liked).  I am not sure about the dream interpretations (my parents always taught be that it is hogwash), but I liked the candy shop Oldies but Goodies.  It is interesting to see how the group used dreams to help solve the murder. A new concept for cozy mysteries.  How they make any money, though, is beyond me. It seems their intern, Dana (who is supposed to be part-time) does all the work. They are barely breaking even so I do not know how they can afford a part-time employee (we are probably not supposed to think about that).   I also wondered about the amount of frozen food they use to serve to customers (instead of fresh every day).  Of course, they are too busy sleuthing to make fresh.  Another anomaly is the cats that are allowed in the store.  You would think they would not be allowed cats in the shop since they serve cooked/prepared food as well as candy (yum).  I give A Premonition of Murder 4 out of 5 stars. A Premonition of Murder is well-written and entertaining.  I will definitely be reading the next book in A Dream Club Mystery series.

The first two books in A Dream Club Mystery series are Nightmares Can Be Murder and Dream a Little Scream.  I received a complimentary copy of A Premonition of Murder from NetGalley (courtesy of the publisher) in exchange for an honest evaluation of the novel.

I am currently reading All the Missing Girls by Megan Miranda (its awful). It is supposed to be a suspense thriller, but I have found it to be one boring book (no suspense and definitely no thrills)!  I will, of course, be reviewing it in the future. If you like period shows, PBS has some great new shoes on.  Home Fires is playing at 7 p.m. and a new mini-series at 8 p.m. titled Dancing on the Edge.  May all of you have a nice, relaxing evening.  Take care and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader

Saturday, June 25, 2016

The Black Cat Knocks on Wood

Happy Saturday!  It is the last Saturday in June.  Can you believe the month is almost over?  Next weekend is the Fourth of July! We are experiencing some rain this afternoon.  Our usual afternoon summer shower.  The one thing I do not like about the rain is that Doozy, my dog, will not go outside.  He is afraid of the rain. When I know he has to go, I have to physically drag him to the door and then shove him out (and then slam the door closed quickly). Anyone watching us gets a good laugh! 

The Black Cat Knocks on Wood by Kay Finch is the second book in A Bad Luck Cat Mystery series.   Sabrina Tate is trying to work on her new novel, but Aunt Rowe (an eccentric) and her friends are practicing for the goat tying competition.  They wish to compete at the Texas Hill Country Pro Rodeo (and maybe perform as well.  Sabrina is worried that Aunt Rowe will hurt herself (Aunt Rowe is stubborn and determined).  Sabrina also does not like the rodeo because she believes it is cruel to animals.  Sabrina rents a cottage from Aunt Rowe (Rowena Flowers) at Around-the-World Cottages.  Each cottage is decorated after a different destination (like Paris and Monte Carlo).  Pearl who owns the Sweet Stop is having some difficulties.  Pearl arranged to purchase the empty shop next door (for expanding the Sweet Stop) with Crystal Devlin (realtor) and then Crystal reneged on the deal (after Pearl gave her earnest money).  Pearl tried to talk Sabrina into loaning her Hitchcock, Sabrina’s black cat.  Pearl was hoping to give Crystal some bad luck (the town is very superstitious).  Sabrina refused Pearl’s request.  Then Sabrina receives a call from Pearl.  Pearl needs to see her right away.  When Sabrina arrives at the destination, she finds Pearl and a dead Crystal Devlin (Pearl called Sabrina instead of 911).  Then a black cat rushes out of the building and the police show up (at least someone called them).  Pearl ends up the primes suspect in Crystal’s death.  Pearl needs help and Sabrina cannot resist a good investigation (even if it will mess with her writing schedule).  Will Sabrina be able to corral the killer before Pearl ends up in the poky? 

The Black Cat Knocks on Wood was not quite as good as it sounds.  I found the book to be slow paced.  There were very few clues (not that you need them, but it is fun to find and follow them).  I found Sabrina to be a little bit of a contradiction.  She is supposed to be an animal lover and against animal cruelty (really dislikes rodeos).  But she has a cat door and lets her cat roam outside (and he manages to get into town).  The town is scared of the cat (but she takes the cat with her into town).  Why would she let it outside where someone could get a hold of it and hurt it?  I found some reactions (from townspeople) a little over-the-top.  An example is the dry cleaning lady.  When the lady opens her door and sees the black cat, she screams and slams her door!  Sabrina was a little brusque in her questioning of people (who do not even have to talk to her or answer her questions).  My favorite character was Aunt Rowe (Rowena Flowers).  I really liked her and wish she was the main character.  I think the novel would be more entertaining (just my feelings).  I give The Black Cat Knocks on Wood 3 out of 5 stars (it was okay).  I think with a little tweaking; this could be an enjoyable series.  This is the second book in A Bad Luck Cat Mystery series, but you can read it as a stand-alone.  The author does a good job of updating the reader in case they missed the first book.  Will I read the next book in the series?  I believe I will give it a try.

The first book in A Bad Luck Cat Mystery series is Black Cat Crossing. You can follow Kay Finch on Facebook. I received a complimentary copy of the novel in exchange for an honest evaluation of the book. 

I am off to relax for a while.  I am having a bad flare up today and can hardly move (in my lower back).  I hope everyone is having a great Saturday.  I will be back later with another review (I have more books to review than days of the month).  I am currently enjoying From This Moment by Elizabeth Camden (it is slow going).  Take care and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader

Friday, June 24, 2016

Spells of Blood and Kin

Spells of Blood and Kin is a debut novel by Claire Humphrey.  Lissa Nevsky just lost her grandmother or Baba (as Lissa called her).  Baba was the local koldun’ia (sorcerer) and Lissa is her successor.   Lissa has to make the spells (with eggs) for their clients.  Maksim knew Baba.  Maksim had saved Baba from the Gulag, and, in return, Baba saved him with a spell (one that goes against her teachings/beliefs) which ended when she passed away.  Maksim needs Lissa to recreate the spell for him before he gets completely out of control.  Maksim has already harmed a person by changing him (he licked Nick Kaisaris).  Maksim needs to find Nick before he harms people.  Can Lissa find the spell she needs and do it in time to help Maksim?  Will Maksim be able to find Nick in time?

This sounded like such a great book, but it turned out to be very boring (I actually started drifting off to sleep a couple of times).   You would think with magic it would be an interesting or lively novel.  The magic is never fully explained.  Why do they need to use eggs for the spells and only during a full moon?   What exactly Maksim is (the type of monster as he calls himself) is not fully explained in the novel.  We get a little bit, but not a full description.  If the author had enlightened the readers (provided details about the characters) it would have improved the story.  For the most part the characters are unlikeable.  Lissa is just plain boring (and I thought my life was dull).  Lissa is uptight, rigid and has no idea how to enjoy life.  I thought the writing was awkward/stilted and the pace of the novel was slow.  I ended up speed reading through the majority of the book.  The ending is just plain odd (makes no sense). The novel is told from the main characters (Lissa, Nick, and Maksim) points-of-view.  It goes from one to the next to the next and then starts over.  I think it would have helped the story (at least a little bit) if it had just been told in the third person.  I’m sorry, but this book was just plain unenjoyable (I dislike saying that about any book, but it is true).  I was not taken into this world or engaged in any shape, way, or form.  I give Spells of Blood and Kin 1 out of 5 stars.  Fair warning that the novel contains violence and alcohol (great quantities of alcohol are consumed by the characters).  It is said to be a dark fantasy. I agree it is dark, but there is definitely no fantasy!

You can follow Claire Humphrey on Facebook and Amazon.  You can check out Claire Humphrey on Amazon.  I received a complimentary copy of the novel in exchange for an honest review.

I want to thank each and every one of you for stopping by and reading my book reviews.  I really do appreciate it.  I hope all of you have a wonderful and relaxing Friday evening.  I am currently reading Engaged in Death by Stephanie Blackmoore.  I will return tomorrow with a new review (fair warning)!  Take care and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader

The Lady Who Saw Too Much

It's Friday!  If you enjoy Amish fiction novels The Courtship Basket by Amy Clipston and Sweet as Honey by Jennifer Beckstrand will be out on Tuesday, June 28.  A couple of other books coming out on Tuesday are Engaged in Death by Stephanie Blackmoore, Caught Bread Handed by Ellie Alexander, Cracked to Death by Cheryl Hollon, and Something's Knot Kosher by Mary Marks.   I will be reviewing all of these novels on my blog soon!
The Lady Who Saw Too Much by Thomasine Rappold was the second book in the Soul Survivor series. Gianna “Gia” York has to leave her position at the Troy Female Academy (she should not have told the headmistress the truth).  Thankfully, Gia is offered the position as companion to Miss Alice Elmsworth.  Alice is twenty years old and painfully shy.  Alice hates going out in public to parties, dances, and dinners.  When Gia is handed Landen J. Elmsworth card, she immediately gets a vision of his death.  Gia is determined to never let another person die if she can help it (because her parents refused to let her pursue a vision or warn the family and Prudence Alber died).  Gia and Landen are immediately attracted to each other.  Landen tries to steer clear of Gia, because he does not wish to commit (because of an incident with a woman).  One night Gia is trying to find something personal of Landen’s to get a vision and is in his bedroom.  Landen returns early and the two end up kissing (she is in her nightclothes and he a blanket).  They are caught in this comprising position by Landen’s Aunt Clara.  Aunt Clara is going to send Gia away until Gia mentions that she should stay around at least a month—just in case (Gia is determined to save Landen’s life).  Aunt Clara insists that the two of them marry.  Landen feels that Gia had this goal in mind all along and is furious.  Can Gia save Landen’s life?  Would he believe her if she told him about her visions?  Is there any hope for their marriage with such a difficult beginning?  Join us in Misty Lake for the summer to see if Gia succeeds in saving Landen and getting Alice out of her shell.

The Lady Who Saw Too Much was acceptable, but it could have been so much more.  I thought too much of the book is devoted to the attraction between Gia and Landen.  I wanted more of the paranormal elements.  I ended up skimming through the many pages that describe how handsome he is, her lovely lips, the curve of her neck, the kissing, intimate bedroom scenes, and more.  It just went on and on (I ended up skimming through these pages).  The last half of the book was significantly better.  The story starts to progress (finally) into the mystery (who was going to kill Landen) and how Gia can save him.  I give The Lady Who Saw Too Much 3 out of 5 (which means it was okay/satisfactory).  I just felt that the writer could have made this a great novel (it had so much potential).  Instead we get an expected historical, romance novel.  While this is the second book in the series, it can be read alone.  If you have not read the first book, it will not hinder your reading The Lady Who Saw Too Much (the first book or the characters are not mentioned in this novel). 

The first book in the The Sole Survivor series is The Lady Who Lived Again. I received a complimentary copy of The Lady Who Saw Too Much from NetGalley in exchange for an honest evaluation of the book.

I am off to mold some white chocolate (my current sweet craving) before collapsing on my bed.  My pain is a little worse today than normal (with fibromyalgia you have good days and bad days). May all of you have a delightful evening!  Take care and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Title Wave

Happy Thursday!  I hope everyone is having a wonderful day. Some new cozy mysteries have been listed on Amazon that will be coming out later this year and early next year (I love pre-ordering). The kindle version is not listed yet for some (or most) of the titles. You can, though, add them to your wish list on Amazon or on Goodreads to your "Want to Read" Shelf (which is what I did).  A few of them are Of Books and Bagpipes by Paige Shelton, Bel of the Brawl by Maggie McConnon, When Grits Hit the Fan by Maddie Day, Fudge and Jury by Ellie Alexander, Kneaded to Death by Winnie Archer, Dead and Breakfast by Kate Kingsbury, and She Stopped for Death by Elizabeth Kane Buzzelli.  I will be telling you about more new books soon.

Title Wave by Lorna Barrett is the tenth book in A Booktown Mystery series.  Tricia Miles and her sister, Angelica Miles are going on a Mystery Lover’s cruise on the Celtic Lady along with family members (Antonio and Ginny Barbero and their daughter, Sofia) and colleagues from the Stoneham Chamber of Commerce.  Milford Travel proposed the excursion and it is taking place during the slow period for their town.  They are all looking forward to spending some time in the sun (and away from the snow).  They will get a chance to meet various mystery authors, attend lectures and workshops, and get books signed.  Tricia owns Haven’s Got a Clue in Stoneham, New Hampshire which carries mystery novels (the town is full of various bookstores).  Unfortunately, EM Barstow is one of the authors.  Ms. Barstow is a bestselling mystery author with horrible attitude (rude, demeaning).  Ms. Barstow is accompanied by Dori Douglas, who is president of her fan club and Cathy Cooper, her editor.  Tricia cannot sleep the first night and goes to get some hot cocoa.  She is on the way back to her room, when she notices a stateroom door wide open.  She investigates and finds EM Barstow dead.  The suspect list is extremely long, and they need to solve it before the ships arrives back in port (and the killer will walk away).  Can Tricia find the killer before the killer decides to write her off? 

Title Wave was my least favorite book in this series.  From the moment EM Barstow was introduced the reader knows (and hopes) she will be killed.  I thought the killer was obvious (the suspect list is really short in actuality), but the author did a good with it (and there is a twist near the end).  The one thing that really annoyed me in the novel was the constant mention of how much and what Tricia ate.  It is talked about more than the mystery.  It was too dominant in the book.  Angelica pushed Tricia to eat and Tricia declined to eat.  The readers find out why near the end of the book, but, by that time, I did not care (I was sick of it).  I think Ms. Barrett could have handled it differently, more subtlety.  I wish the author had spent more time on the mystery and less on food issues.  I felt that Tricia took the joy out of the book (and the trip for the group). I found that some information was repeated (like Tricia and her eating issues and Tricia’s deceased ex-husband).    I give Title Wave 3 out of 5 stars.  I do not recommend reading Title Wave without having enjoyed the earlier books in the series.  It would be hard to keep the characters straight and their various relationships (it can be confusing even if you have read the books). I will read the next book in A Booktown Mystery series, and I sincerely hope it will be like the novels at the beginning of the series.

The other novels in A Booktown Mystery series are Murder is Binding, Bookmarked for Death, Bookplate Special, Chapter and Hearse, Sentenced to Death, Murder on the Half Shelf, Not the Killing Type, Book Clubbed, A Fatal Chapter.  You can a list of them here on Amazon.  I received a complimentary copy of the novel in exchange for an honest review.   

Thank all of you for visiting.  I am currently reading Caught Bread Handed by Ellie Alexander (so far there is very little mystery).  I will be back soon with more book reviews!  Take care, have a lovely evening, and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

A Haven on Orchard Lane

It is the middle of the week.  Wednesday has arrived.  I think I have figured out the leak in my kitchen.  It is coming from the air conditioning overflow pan (I am not sure if that is the right term). It is so hot in the attic, the air conditioning is working overtime (more condensation is created).  I am beginning to see why people live in condos and apartments (I am beginning to wish for one). Especially after I spent the afternoon picking up leaves and limbs in the backyard (filled seven trash cans).

A Haven on Orchard Lane is the latest novel by Lawana Blackwell.  Charlotte Ward was an actress until she married Roger Fosberry, Viscount of Spilsby.  Charlotte is desperate to escape his clutches.  Roger is not a kind man and his housekeeper is more like a jailer.  Charlotte receives an invitation to come back to the Lyceum Theater from Mr. Henry Irving (it took some work to get the letter to her).  With a little help, Charlotte escapes one night and heads to London.  Charlotte steps out onto the stage and collapses.  Charlotte needs rest and a safe place to hide from the press.  Rosalind is Charlotte’s daughter from her second marriage (Roger was her third husband).  Rosalind was raised by Aunt Vesta and is now a teacher in Cheltenham.  Rosalind reluctantly heads to London.  Rosalind collects Charlotte and takes her to Port Stilwell to recover.  They rent a house (well, they thought they were getting a whole house) and Rosalind gets Charlotte settled.  Rosalind is hoping she will be able to return to her teaching post soon.  These two have a complicated relationship, but maybe this is there chance for them to get to know each other and mend fences (everyone deserves forgiveness and a second chance).  Rosalind soon finds a friend (and maybe more) in Jude Pearce, the local bookseller.  Rosalind and Charlotte find friends in this quaint town and have a chance to help others (like Danny and Albert Fletcher).  But then someone tries to destroy the life they have built.   If you want to know more, you will have to read A Haven on Orchard Lane!

I fell in love with Lawana Blackwell’s novels many, many years ago. I was tickled to see a new book by Ms. Blackwell.  A Haven on Orchard Lane is a lovely, historical novel with a Christian theme (forgiveness, helping others, trusting in God, second chances--just about everyone deserves a second chance except ex-husbands).  The writing is very good, but the pace is a little slow (I also felt the novel was also a wee bit too long).  I liked the characters (they are complex and well developed as well as realistic) and the writer did a great job with describing the locations (London, Fosberry Hall, Port Stilwell, and the bookshop) as well as the historical content.  I give A Haven on Orchard Lane 4 out of 5 stars (I liked it).  I thought the book was a little flat, but overall a nice book to read on a relaxing afternoon.  A Haven on Orchard Lane is a nice escape book.  A book without violence, foul language, and intimate relations (most book sites do not allow the word sex in reviews).  I will definitely read future books by Lawana Blackwell (I have actually read all her published books). 

Other books by Lawana Blackwell are The Gresham Chronicles and Tales of London (both are great series). I received a complimentary copy of A Haven on Orchard Lane in exchange for an honest evaluation of the novel.

Now that I am completely worn out (I wear out quickly with my Fibromyalgia), I am going to go read and relax.  Big Brother starts tonight (don't judge)!  It is about the only show of its type that I watch.  My father loved it and he talked me into watching it with him.  A new show entitled American Gothic also starts this evening.  I am currently reading Something's Knot Kosher by Mary Marks (it's good so far).  Take care, have a wonderful evening, and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

A Shattering Crime

I tell you that when it rains (not literal rain) it pours!  I mean problems with a house.  A leaking ceiling in my kitchen (there is no plumbing in the attic in that area and no leak in the roof), the cats made an utter mess (I cannot figure out how they got the kitty city apart), sick dog, my mother decided today was a good day to be talkative (I am not a chatty type of person), and it looks like someone got into our workshop (where I keep the tools).  This is just a few of the things that happened today.  I get one thing done and something else happens.  I want to climb back in to bed and pull the covers over my head.  Have you had a day like this recently? I am sure that all of us have these type of days!  I can just hope and pray that tomorrow is a better day (I am channeling Scarlett O'Hara).

A Shattering Crime by Jennifer McAndrews is the third book in A Stained Glass Mystery series.  Georgia Kelly is a CPA, but she prefers working with stained glass (she is an artist).  Georgia has been making a living by selling small stained glass pieces and jewelry (like her fairy chime earrings) that are being sold at local stores (like Aggie’s Gifts and Antiques).    Georgia is attending the ground breaking ceremony for the new Riverside Promenade in Wenwood, New York with her boyfriend, Tony Himmel (a contractor).  Unfortunately, there is a group protesting the new shopping complex led by David Rayburn (for political reasons).  The highlight of the event are the delectable delights being served by Rozelle Shurz from her bakery.  Rozelle is seeing Georgia’s grandfather, Pete (aka Grandy).  When David (the protestor) turns up dead, Rozelle ends up at the top of the suspect list.  Rozelle had made special pastries for David (gluten free).  Georgia knows Rozelle would never hurt anyone and sets out to prove her innocence (Grandy wants Rozelle’s name cleared).  Georgia is also having to deal with her cat, Friday who has been making the most awful racket (those of us who own cats know what the noise means).  Georgia takes her to Dr. Bucherati, the local veterinarian, and finds out Friday is in heat (definitely explains the caterwauling).  Then Georgia’s mother, Joanne arrives in town (and takes over Georgia’s bedroom) with her new husband, Ben Sutter (a condescending scumbag—pardon my language).   They feel that Georgia is not on the right track with her life, and they spend their time badgering her about her life choices.  The investigation gives Georgia a good excuse to avoid home.  Then there is her boyfriend, Tony.  His current job is ending and he needs to decide upon his next job.  Tony wants to talk to Georgia, but Georgia does not wish to talk to him (she has commitment issues).  Life is never dull.  You will have to read A Shattering Crime to find out how it all turns out!

The mystery in A Shattering Crime not only took a backseat in this novel, but it was in the trunk in a locked box (maybe a pretty stained glass box).   The crime investigation really did not start until the second half of the book and then it is still not a dominate part of the storyline.  The killer is extremely easy to figure out despite the few clues the readers are given (I could have told you the killer as soon as the guy keeled over).  The majority of the book is about Georgia, her life, her family, the cat, and her “issues”.   Georgia has extreme commitment issues (which I found exceedingly annoying after a while).  Georgia had to move out of her bedroom and into guest room for her mother’s visit, and Georgia did not like it (which she made it evidently clear).  The bedroom issue was mentioned five times and then I stopped counting.  I thought too much time was devoted to Georgia’s thinking and her insecurities.  It is supposed to be a cozy mystery, and I wanted more mystery! I give A Shattering Crime 3 out of 5 stars (it was okay).  I did not find A Shattering Crime as good as the first book in A Stained Glass Mystery series.  The best part of the book was about the cat in heat (it was funny the way the sound was described)!  Grandy was my favorite character.  I liked him and his attitude.  Will I read the next book in the series?  Yes.  I will give A Stained Glass Mystery series another chance (every series deserves a second chance).

The first two books in A Stained Glass Mystery series are Ill-Gotten Panes and Death Under Glass.  I received a complimentary copy of the book in exchange for an honest evaluation of the novel which does not influence my review in any way.

I sincerely hope all of you have a delightful evening.  I am off to eat dinner (hide in my room) and finish Cracked to Death by Cheryl Hollon.  I will return tomorrow with another entertaining book review!  Take care and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader