Sunday, July 31, 2016

All You Need is Fudge

Happy Sunday!  It is the last day of July.  I thought I would tell you about a magical cozy mystery series today in honor of the release of the new Harry Potter book.  Bailey Cates writes A Magical Bakery Mystery series. They are cozy mysteries with a paranormal element.  There are six books in the series.  A Magical Bakery Mystery series starts with Brownies and Broomsticks.  The latest novel is Spells and Scones. Please take a moment to check out these enchanting stories.

All You Need is Fudge by Nancy Coco is the fourth book in A Candy-Coated Mystery series.  Allie McMurphy is preparing for yacht race week that will take place of the coast of Mackinac Island, Michigan.  Mackinac Island is a quaint town where it is like stepping back in time (where the only vehicles allowed is the fire truck and ambulance).  Allie owns the Historic McMurphy Hotel and Fudge Shop which she inherited.  Allie is taking a walk with her dog, Mal when the little dog leads her to the water’s edge (quite persistent).  There Allie sees a body floating in the water and jumps in.  The poor girl is dead.  The police arrive quickly on the scene and are not surprised to see Allie and Mal (this has happened before).  The lady in the lake is Carin Moore.  It turns out that Carin had a contentious relationship with Paige Jessop.  Since they were children the two competed for everything (grades, boyfriends, etc.).  Paige is Trent Jessop’s sister and Trent is Allie’s boyfriend.  When Paige gets arrested, the Jessop family closes ranks.  Trent stops returning Allie’s calls (which she does not understand and finds upsetting).  Allie sets out to find the person responsible to prove her worth to the Jessop family.  Will Allie be able to find the killer before they sail off into the sunset? Or before Allie ends up in the drink as the latest victim?

All You Need is Fudge is a charming cozy mystery.  It is easy to read and has a good pace.  The mystery captured my interest and had some twists.  One clue is the trick to solving the crime (but you have to figure out which one).  Allie came across as a little desperate in this book.  She did not like being shut out by Trent (understandable).  But I thought it was a little silly to try and “prove her worth” to the family.  I thought in All You Need is Fudge Allie came across more as a “nosy parker” than sleuth (she is a little of both).  I give All You Need is Fudge 4 out of 5 stars (I liked it).  I did enjoy the story, the beautiful setting of Mackinac Island, the characters (for the most part), the mystery, and the descriptions of the fudge!  There are some fudge recipes included in the book (some of them sound delicious).  All You Need is Fudge can be read as a stand-alone novel.  The author does a good job of updating the reader on prior events (the characters history).  I will definitely be reading the next book in A Candy-Coated Mystery series as well as books by Nancy Coco (aka Nancy J.Parra). 

The first three books in A Candy-Coated Mystery series are All Fudged Up, To Fudge or Not to Fudge, and Oh Say Can You Fudge.  All I Want for Christmas is Fudge is A Candy-Coated Mystery novella.  I received a complimentary copy of the novel in exchange for an honest evaluation.  The comments and opinions expressed are strictly my own.

I hope everyone had a good day and had a chance to relax a little bit.  I am going to go take it easy now and watch a little television (I read during the commercials).  I am currently reading Paper and Fire by Rachel Caine (I have not had a chance to read it before now).  Thank you for stopping by and I will see you again tomorrow.  Take care and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader
(and Honest Reviewer)

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Midsummer Night's Mischief

I was awakened this morning by severe thunder and lightening.  My poor Doozy was very scared.  He got as close to me as he could and was shaking terribly.  Wolfie, our Siberian Husky, also came into my room and laid near my bed (she never gets on the bed).  Our littlest dog, Tuxxe never budged (he sleeps with my mother). That dog is one sound sleeper (he is very ornery too). Many cozy mysteries contain animals (cats, dogs, birds, horses). My favorite series that portrays animals is Paws and Claws Mysteries by Krista Davis.  The books are set in Wagtail, Virginia where pets are most welcome (you can bring your pets with you on vacation).  The books in the series are Murder, She Barked, The Ghost and Mrs. Mewer, and Murder Most Howl.  The next book is Mission Impawsible which will be out in February 2017.  The books have charming characters, a lovely setting, and intriguing mysteries.  I definitely recommend this series if you enjoy cozy mysteries (or if you are thinking of trying a cozy mystery)!

Midsummer Night’s Mischief by Jennifer David Hesse is the first book in the Wiccan Wheel Mystery series.  Keli Milanni is an attorney with Olsen, Sykes, and Rafferty in Erindale, Illinois, but she feels that something is missing.  Keli wants to find love (someone to share her life with).  As a Wiccan, Keli decides to cast a spell.  To be more accurate, she casts a love spell and waits to see what happens.  Hunky Wes Callahan might be the answer to her call.  They meet one night at her local watering hole, but he gets a phone call that takes him away quickly (without getting her number and Keli does not get his).  At work Keli is working on a will for a new client who found a valuable item in her attic.  Eleanor Mostriak found an original Shakespeare First Folio in a trunk in her attic.  It had belonged to her husband, but Eleanor thought it had been destroyed.  The book is quite valuable as there are less than 200 copies in existence and the majority of those copies are in museums or private collections.  The first thing Eleanor did was create a will (that would not be the first thing on my to-do list).  Keli did advise her to get an appraisal, put the folio in a safety deposit box at the bank, and contact her insurance provider.  However, Keli did not follow up with Eleanor on any of these items (but the will is done).  Then Keli gets a call from Darlene Callahan (see a connection here), Eleanor’s daughter.  Eleanor passed away the night before.  Then the folio disappears from Eleanor’s home (she carried it around in her messenger bag and was showing it off).  Darlene is holding Keli and her law firm responsible (around $2 million dollars).  Keli convinces her bosses not to fire her (suspension instead).  Keli will use her vacation time and attempt to find the folio (and save her job).  If she cannot find it, then she will have to face the music.  This will also give Keli a chance to reconnect with Wes Callahan (Darlene’s son) to see if he is the one for her.  Can Keli find the folio before it vanishes?  Is Wes the answer to Keli’s love spell?  You will just have to read Midsummer Night’s Mischief to find out!

Midsummer Night’s Mischief was disappointing to me especially the first chapter.  Keli was more obsessed with her love life than anything else.  Keli acted more like a sixteen-year-old (especially around Wes) than a grown up woman who is an attorney (I would not retain this woman as my attorney).  I did not like how Wicca was portrayed in this story.  It did not seem the right type for a cozy mystery and it was a little confusing for me with the Goddess worship (Keli is keeping this part of her life secret from her co-workers).  The writing is satisfactory, but the pace is a little slow.  The book started to feel like it would never end.  Most likely because I was able to identify the killer right away (the prologue gives a big clue).  The romance (more like lust fest) took precedence over the mystery in the book (especially in the first half of the novel).  We get more of the investigation in the latter part of the story.   I was looking forward to reading this novel when I read the blurb about the Wiccan elements and a Shakespeare First Folio.  They sounded like a great combination (the book needs a little tweaking).  I give Midsummer Night’s Mischief 3 out of 5 stars.  It is okay, but I was just not a fan (the characters need work). The book just did not come together in a good final product (like Juliet Blackwell's Witchcraft Mysteries with Lily Ivory and the Magical Bakery series by Bailey Cates). It is only the first book in the series, so I will give the second novel Bell, Book, and Candlemas a chance. 

Bell, Book, and Candlemas will be out in January 2017.  I received a complimentary copy of the novel in exchange for an honest evaluation.  The comments and opinions expressed are strictly my own.

I want to thank all of you for stopping by!  I appreciate it.  I am off to relax and read (I am worn out).  I am currently reading Much Ado about Muffin by Victoria Hamilton.  Some great new books come out next week.  See you tomorrow.  Take care and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader

Ink and Bone

I wanted to tell you about one of my very favorite series today.  It is Deborah Harkness All Souls Trilogy.  I thoroughly enjoyed these books and keep waiting for her to come out with a new novel (which I hope will be very soon).  The All Souls Trilogy is composed of A Discovery of Witches, Shadow of Night, and The Book of Life.  It tells the story of Diana, a scholar and a witch, and Matthew, a centuries old vampire, and a very special book that is wanted by all.  The books are well-written and a delight to read. You should get a sample (for your Kindle or reading device) and see if it appeals to you!

Ink and Bone is the first book in The Great Library series by Rachel Caine.  It is 2025 in London.  Everything is controlled by The Great Library.   The Library is the keeper of knowledge, wisdom, and information.  Jess Brightwell is the son of Callum Brightwell, a book dealer.  Unfortunately, dealing in real, original books (hard covers with printed pages) is illegal.  Jess is taught the business from a young age.  He starts out as a runner where he delivers the illegal books to clients (and will be arrested if caught).  The one thing Jess does love about the business is the books.  He will read anything he can get his hands on (which means pilfering them from his father and hoping he does not notice).  When Jess is sixteen, Callum buys him a placement in the Library training program.  First Jess will have to pass a test and be accepted (which he passes with flying colors).  Callum does have an ulterior motive, of course.  Jess will be training in Alexandria where the Great Library is housed (other cities have satellite libraries).  Callum will want Jess to acquire and deliver books.  Jess is thrilled to get away (and hopes to find a way to avoid his father’s demands).  The training is difficult and rigorous.  Not all the candidates will make it through the training program.  Their teacher is Scholar Christopher Wolfe and he is not thrilled to be teaching a group of postulants (as the students are called).  Scholar Wolfe has no intention of taking it easy on this group.  One by one the students are dismissed.  Then the final group has to go on a dangerous assignment to save books in a war zone.  Who will make it back alive? 

I enjoyed Ink and Bone for the most part.  It is an interesting world (Rachel Caine came up with some unique things), and I liked the main character (especially his love of books and reading).  There is a lot of action in the second half of the book (especially towards the end) which made it more interesting and gave the book a faster pace (better than the first part).  Imagine a world where owning a real book (especially old, first edition books) made with paper and ink is illegal!  The Library owns all originals and you can be arrested/jailed if caught with books (especially trading in them). There is violence and death in the book (if not for that it would more suited to young adults/tweens).  I give Ink and Bone 4 out of 5 stars (I liked it).  I will be reading the next book Paper and Fire to see what happens next (I admit that I am curious).

You can follow Rachel Caine on Amazon and her fan page on Facebook. I received a complimentary copy of Ink and Bone from NetGalley in exchange for an honest evaluation of the book.  The comments and opinions expressed are my own.

I will return later with a review of a cozy mystery (I have several to review).  I hope everyone has a good Saturday.  Make sure to make time for yourself.  Take care and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader

Friday, July 29, 2016

An Untimely Frost

Is everyone having a good Friday?  The weekend is upon us.  Harry Potter's latest comes out this weekend.  It is titled Harry Potter and the Cursed Child.  If it was written in a book format, I would be there waiting in line at midnight to get a copy.  But I am not sure about the play format. I want to see it before I buy it (give it a try).  How about you?  Do you like to read plays/scripts?  Or would you prefer that it was written like a regular novel?  

An Untimely Frost is the first book in the Lilly Long Mystery series.  It is 1881 in Chicago, Illinois.  Lilly Long is an actress with the Pierced Rose Theater Troupe.  Lilly married Tim Warner a few months ago, but it has not been an ideal match.  Tim is threatening Rose Wainwright.  Rose and her husband, Pierce (manager of troupe) raised Lilly after her mother passed away.  Rose has been keeping Lilly’s savings for her.  Lilly made the unfortunate mistake of telling this little tidbit to Tim.  Tim is a scoundrel, thief, liar, and philanderer.  This incident propels Lilly to respond to a Pinkerton National Detective Agency.  They are looking for female agents.  Lilly meets all the qualifications except for her age (she is too young).  Lilly schedules an interview anyway and hopes for the best.  Lilly is interviewed by Allan Pinkerton’s sons, William and Robert.  Robert is against hiring women, but William is opened minded (especially since his father ordered them to hire women).  Lilly impresses William with her abilities/skills, but she is turned down for the position (age).  She then proceeds to use her make-up and acting skills to interview as other women.  One of them gets a call back (technically a letter for a second interview) and Allan Pinkerton himself is present for this interview.  After Lilly reveals her deception (which outrages Robert), Lilly is hired.  Lilly’s first assignment is to find the owner Heaven’s Gate (a house) in Vandalia, Illinois.  Pastor Harold Purcell and his family disappeared twenty years ago (I sense a juicy scandal).  Lilly is excited to start her first case (even if it is an easy one).  After talking with a few people in Vandalia, Lilly finds out that there is nothing simple about this assignment.  Join Lilly on her investigation in An Untimely Frost to see how she fares with the case of the missing pastor.

An Untimely Frost was an enjoyable historical mystery.  I liked Lilly Long as a character.  She may have been bamboozled, but she was not going to let this keep her down. Lilly took the experience and was using it to help others. The mystery in An Untimely Frost was very good (complex).  I was able to figure out most of it, but there was one twist I did not see coming (I like to be surprised in a mystery).  The book is well-written and easy to read (good pace).  I love it when a villain gets his just desserts!  I give An Untimely Frost 4.5 out of 5 stars (I more than liked it).  You can tell when I enjoy a novel because I stay up late reading it (and I give it a good review).  Penny Richards did a excellent job at capturing the era or time period portrayed in the book as well as the two cities.  I will definitely be reading the next book in the Lilly Long Mystery series.

The next book in the Lilly Long Mystery series is Though This Be Madness.  It will be out in May 2017 (subject to change without notice).  I received a complimentary copy of the book in exchange for an honest evaluation of the novel.  The comments and opinions expressed are strictly m own.

I want to thank all of you for visiting!  I am off to enjoy my dinner (after I finish cooking my mother's) and read Sweet Tomorrows by Debbie Macomber.  Have a great (fun and relaxing) evening, take care, and Happy Reading!  

The Avid Reader

A Bee in Her Bonnet

Hello and Happy Friday!  Amanda Flower writes A Magical Bookshop Mystery series (a cozy mystery with magical elements). Ms. Flower has just released the new cover for Prose and Cons (second book in series). I thought I would share this enchanting cover with you!  The first book was very good, and I am looking forward to reading Prose and Cons when it releases on December 6, 2016.
I love the animals and the colors!

A Bee in Her Bonnet by Jennifer Beckstrand is the second book in The Honeybee Sisters trilogy.  Poppy Christner is not like other Amish young women.  Poppy is headstrong, independent, stubborn, determined (she acts before she thinks) and you get the picture.  She wants to prove that she can do the same things as men (despite her continual bruises, cuts, and broken bones) and does not need the help of a man.  Luke Bontranger is a local carpenter and neighbor. Luke is always trying to help Poppy and protect her (he does not want to see her hurt).  He believes he should protect all women and help them (and that they should only do women’s work—don’t you want to bop him one).  Luke needs to change his way of thinking but then so does Poppy (and quit their fighting).  Can these two stubborn people learn to work together and what happens when they do?    Incidents are still happening at the farm.  They have had bee hives overturned, laundry line cut down and clothes in the mud (and stomped on), the chicken coop destroyed with an axe, the barn door written on with a nasty message (again), and Queenie (the horse) is a victim as well.  Who is behind these awful shenanigans?  Poppy almost caught the culprit, but she damaged her arm in the process (and Luke had to save her).  Will they ever catch the miscreant?  Join the Honeybee Sister for more fun and adventure in A Bee in Her Bonnet.

A Bee in Her Bonnet is a fun story to read.  A Bee in Her Bonnet picks up where the first book in The Honeybee Sisters series ended.   I was entertained by Poppy’s and Luke’s antics (I was laughing).  I found A Bee in Her Bonnet to be well-written and easy to read (can be finished in a few hours).  It is the second book in the series, and I believe it would be helpful to read the first book (but you do not have to).  The author does catch up the reader in case you have not read the prior book.  I give A Bee in Her Bonnet 4 out of 5 stars (I liked it).   The romance is predictable, but I found their courtship amusing.  I look forward to the next book in The Honeybee Sisters (Rose’s story Like a Bee to Honey).

The first book in The Honeybee Sisters  trilogy is Sweet as Honey. Like a Bee to Honey will be out on August 30, 2016.  I received a complimentary copy of the novel in exchange for an honest evaluation of the book. The comments and opinions expressed are strictly my own.

I will be back later with another book review.  Until then have a fantastic Friday.  Take care and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader

Thursday, July 28, 2016

No Other Will Do

It is another sunny and hot day in Florida.  This summer is the hottest I have ever experienced since moving to Florida over 30 years ago (I was just a tween).  It is definitely a time to stay inside and read!  Today I am reviewing a historical Christian fiction novel. My favorite Christian fiction author is Janette Oke.  I discovered her when I was in my twenties.  I then proceeded to read every book she had written.  I have continued to read her new works when they come out.  If you like Christian fiction, please take a moment to check out the works of Janette Oke.

No Other Will Do by Karen Witemeyer is the first book in the Ladies of Harper’s Station series.  Emma Chandler discovered a young boy of thirteen in her aunt’s barn in 1882 in Cookie County, Texas.  Malachi Shaw is an orphan without a home.  Emma was instantly taken with him and convinced her Aunt Henry and Aunt Bertie to take him in.  Malachi stayed with them for two years until an incident forced him to leave town.  It is now 1894 and Emma has finally realized her dream with the help of her two aunts.  Harper’s Station is a refuge for women run by women.  But someone is threatening her dream and the lives of the people that live in Harper’s Station.  Threatening notes have been found around the town and then a man fired at the women while they were in the church.  This bandit wants all the women out of the town.  Emma will not back down and sends a telegram to Malachi asking for help.  Malachi is a demolition expert for the railroad.  Malachi does not hesitate when he receives Emma’s request.  He immediately hops a train to Harper’s Station.  Malachi is attracted to Emma (she reciprocates his feelings), but he does not feel he is good enough for her.  But these two have more pressing matters to attend to before they can discuss their feelings.  Why does this brigand want with Harper’s Station?  Read No Other Will Do to find out how the citizens of Harper’s Station out maneuver the outlaw.

No Other Will Do is a nice, easy book to read.  It has good writing, interesting characters, and an intriguing mystery.  Ms. Witemeyer did a good job of capturing the time and place of the setting.  I felt the romance was a little much (there were many lustful thoughts, feelings, and then kissing) for a Christian novel, but otherwise an enjoyable book.  I do not believe that lust equals love (we do not want young people getting the wrong impression) which is how it comes across in the book (until the end).   The romantic portion is predictable, but it does have a sweet ending.  I give No Other Will Do 4 out of 5 stars.  I particularly liked that Emma and the other female characters were strong, independent women with Christian values. 

The next book in The Ladies of Harper's Station is Worth the Wait (January 2017) and it will tell the story of Tori and Ben.  You can follow Karen Witemeyer on Amazon to get updates on her latest novels.I received a complimentary copy of the novel in exchange for an honest evaluation of the book.  The comments and opinions expressed are strictly my own.

Thank you so much for visiting my blog.  I am currently reading Clock and Dagger by Julianne Holmes.  I hope all of you have an enjoyable evening.  Take care and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Live and Let Growl

Happy Wednesday!  I hope all of you are having a bright and happy day. I discovered a new cozy mystery series on Amazon I wanted to share with you.  Blown Away by Clover Tate is the first book in the new A Kite Shop Mystery series.  It will be out in February 2017 and is available for pre-order (which I did).  So many great books to read and so little time!

Live and Let Growl by Laurien Berenson is the nineteenth Melanie Travis Mystery.  Melanie Travis is looking forward to spring break.  Then it is sprung on her by her family that she is going with Aunt Peg to Kentucky.  Aunt Peg has just inherited a thoroughbred named Lucky Luna and wants to check it out.  Aunt Peg (Margaret Turnbull) is also a judge of Standard Poodles in a dog show nearby.  Before checking out the horse, they meet up with Ellie Gates Wanamaker.  She is an old friend of Peg's (she used to raise Standard Poodles until a car accident). Ellie is bright, energetic and vibrant woman.  Peg gets her to agree to come for a day at the dog show.  The next day they hear that Ellie died in an accident on the family farm.  Peg is not sure it is an accident and wants to investigate.  Melanie agrees to look into the matter.   Who wanted Ellie dead?  Can Melanie and Peg find the culprit before there is another "accident"?

Live and Let Growl was well-written and contained good characters.  I felt Aunt Peg was little overbearing and Melanie easily pushed or manipulated.  The story got bogged down, though, with all the details about dog shows and thoroughbred horses (it was very confusing).  The pace of the book did pick up during the last ten percent of the book.  The mystery was no puzzle despite the writer's attempts at misdirection and to lead the reader down a different path.  I kept hoping for a good twist (I ended up inventing my own).  Live and Let Growl can be read as a stand-alone book.  The author does a good job of updating the reader on the characters, habits, and past adventures.  I give Live and Let Growl 3.5 out of 5 stars.  Will I read the next book in the series?  Yes.  I believe I might like the book more without all the dog show judging details (the judging is extremely perplexing) and horse information (it was a little too much information for one novel).  I am glad that I did read this book because it introduced me to a new series and author.

There are eighteen other books in the Melanie Travis series.  The first book in the series is A Pedigree to Die For which is currently $1.99 on Amazon.  You can find all the titles here on I received a complimentary copy of Live and Let Growl from NetGalley in exchange for an honest evaluation of the novel.

Thank you so much for visiting.  I am currently enjoying No Other Will Do by Karen Witmeyer and The Darkness Knows by Cheryl Honigford.  I hope all of you will return tomorrow for my next book review.  Take care, have a good evening, and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Death at the Day Lily Cafe

We have a third candidate for President!  The Cat in the Hat has thrown his red and white striped hat in the ring.  He has chosen Thing 1 and Thing 2 as his running mates (when you consider one of the candidates running for President, the Cat in the Hat does not look like a bad option). It is actually a promotion for their new book "One Vote, Two Vote, I Vote, You Vote".  We get an opportunity to vote for a cause (hunger, education, kindness) and the winning charity will get $10,000 (according to Dr. Seuss site). You can check it out here and on  Do not forget to vote!

Death at the Day Lily Café by Wendy Sand Eckel is the second book in the Rosalie Hart Mystery series.  Rosalie is finally opening the café of her dreams.  It is time for the Grand Opening of the Day Lily Café.  The café will use local and organic ingredients including those from Barclay Meadows (Rosalie’s farm) run by Tyler Wells.  Rosalie is enjoying her opening when Doris Bird (owns Birdie’s Shoes) comes in very upset.  Her sister, Lori has been accused of murdering her husband, Carl James.  Doris knows her sister is innocent and would like Rosalie’s help (because she has already solved one murder since coming to Cardigan).  Rosalie knows she really does not have the time, but she cannot resist helping a friend in need (Doris has been a good friend to Rosalie).  Sheriff Joe Wilgus really seems to have it in for Lori and is determined to arrest for the murder.  What does the sheriff have against Lori?  Rosalie starts looking in to Carl James’ movements before he passed away and she finds out that CJ (as most people called him) was not well liked.  The suspect list is getting longer instead of shorter when Rosalie discovers why CJ was laid off from his latest construction project.  When Rosalie’s daughter, Annie ends up getting hurt, Rosalie knows she needs to solve this case pronto.  Rosalie is going to need to dig deep to eradicate this weed from the town.

Death at the Day Lily Café is a fun and easy to read cozy mystery.  I was entertained by the characters, the setting, the writing, and the mysteries (two in one book).  The mysteries can be solved, but I had a good time following Rosalie and the clues.  I especially liked Janice Tilghman who is starting to experience menopause symptoms.  Janice’s comments had me laughing (I know how the poor woman feels).  While this is the second book in the series, you can read it as a stand-alone.  The writer does a very good job of updating the reader on what happened in the first book without it being boring or redundant.  I give Death at the Day Lily Café 4 out of 5 stars (I liked it).  There is, of course, a little romance (and jealousy) in the novel, but it was not over the top or in your face (not the main focus).  The ending is sweet and romantic. There are recipes included at the end of the book for items mentioned during Death at the Day Lily Café.  I will definitely be reading the next book in the Rosalie Hart Mystery series.

The first book in the Rosalie Hart Mystery series is Murder at Barclay Meadows.  I received a complimentary copy of Death at the Day Lily Café from NetGalley (and the publisher) in exchange for an honest evaluation of the novel.  The comments and opinions expressed are strictly my own.

I am finishing A Grave Prediction by Victoria Laurie (it is very good).  I hope all of you have an enchanting evening.  I am off to cook dinner and then relax.  I will return tomorrow.  Take care and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader

Monday, July 25, 2016

A Most Curious Murder

It is the last full week of July!  How time flies when we are having fun--or working, cleaning, doing laundry, grocery shopping, etc.  I hope everyone had a fantastic weekend (was it at least a decent weekend?).  If you enjoy Amish fiction, A Bee in Her Bonnet by Jennifer Beckstrand comes out tomorrow.  It is the second book in The Honeybee Sisters series (I enjoyed it).  You do need to read the first book in the series (Sweet as Honey) in order to understand what is happening in the second book. 

A Most Curious Murder by Elizabeth Kane Buzzelli is the first book in A Little Library Mystery series.  Jenny Weston has just moved back to Bear Falls, Michigan following her acrimonious divorce.  One thing she has always loved is the Little Library her father built for her mother in front of their home.  Her mother was a librarian before she married, but the town had no library.  This was a way for her to be a librarian and help people picks books (it works a little differently from your traditional little library).  But then they find the little library smashed to pieces.  Who would do this?  Everyone (well, almost everyone) loved the little library.  Their neighbor, grumpy Adam Cane did not like it.  He felt it caused extra traffic on their street.  But when Adam Cane is found dead in Zoe Zola’s (another neighbor) backyard, it does not look good for Zoe.  Zoe is a little odd, but she is no murderer.  Zoe is a Little Person who loves fairies and has little fairy houses (with fairies inside) scattered around her yard (Adam Cane’s body really stood out).  Zoe also quotes from the works of Lewis Carroll (and other stories) frequently (it is annoying) and is a writer (and a dreamer).  Jenny needs to find the culprit for Zoe and her mother, Dora (who is upset over all this hoopla).  Can Jenny solve the crimes and clear Zoe’s name?  Will the unexpected appearance of her ex-husband hinder her investigation?  Then there is Jenny’s infatuation with her old high school boyfriend!

A Most Curious Murder was inspired by Alice in Wonderland, but the author did not pull it off.  The novel came across more odd than fantastical, magical, and intriguing.  I had just started the book and all these characters are thrown at you.  I found Zoe Zola to be overdone.  The author tried to put all too many zany character traits in one person and it did not work (if I met this person I would run the other way).  The constant quotes from Zoe Zola was not an endearing quality.  They made absolutely no sense (despite my reading the same pages several times) and were a hindrance to my enjoyment of the novel.  I found the writing to slightly awkward or stilted which severely lessened my enjoyment (I never got into this book) and the dialogue was stale (flat).  The mystery was simple and easily solved (you need less than 50 pages to figure it out).  I give A Most Curious Murder 2.5 out of 5 stars.  Jenny’s fascination with her old high school boyfriend who cheated on her and got another girl pregnant was just absurd (the writer could have found another way to include the character).  The idea or premise has possibilities.  With work this could be an interesting and enjoyable series.  A Most Curious Murder was just not for me (and I really wanted to like it).

The next book in A Little Library Mystery series is She Stopped for Death which will be out in January 2017.  I have not decided if I will read it or not. I received a complimentary copy of A Most Curious Murder from NetGalley in exchange for an honest evaluation of the novel.  The opinions and comments expressed above are strictly my own.

I am currently reading An Untimely Frost by Penny Richards.  I will return (fair warning) tomorrow with another review.  I will also tell you about the new book releases (quite a few books come out tomorrow).  May all of you have a delightful evening (you deserve it).  Take care and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Magic Bitter, Magic Sweet

Happy Sunday!  We had about one hour of sunshine and then rain again.  I had to turn lights on all over the house.  Does a dreary day make you happy or sad?  Does sunshine affect our mood?  I thought I would share Deanna Chase's novels with you today.  Ms. Chase writes humorous, paranormal novels.  They will have you laughing out loud (and getting those strange looks from people sitting next you when you are in public).  Deanna Chase writes The Jade Calhoun series (currently seven books in the series) and the Pyper Rayne series (two books and a novella).  Her latest novel is Magic and Mayhem:  Witched to Death.  If you like paranormal novels with humor, you should look into Ms. Chase's works.
Magic Bitter, Magic Sweet is the latest book by Charlie N. Holmberg.  Mairie is a baker in Carmine.  She has no memory of her past.  Mairie was found by Franc and Arrice.  They took in Mairie and helped her.  It has been four and a half years since they found her.  Then one day Mairie is out and notices a strange glow.  It is a type of being glowing before her but is not whole (cannot touch him).  He seems to know Mairie, but she (of course) does not know who he is.  He tells her to run. Their village is being attacked by marauders (they ransack, kill, and kidnap people).  Mairie (runs in the wrong direction) hides in a cupboard inside her bakery.  The men quickly find her and take her along with Cleric Tuck (who Mairie was interested in).  The marauders make them walk for days until they put the people in cages.  They are selling them as slaves.  Mairie is bought quickly by Allemas after examining her (he seems to know her).  Allemas takes Mairie to his cottage where he locks her up (and forgets about the basic needs of humans—food, water, etc.).  Allemas soon returns with baking supplies.  Mairie has a special gift.  She can make people feel things with her baking.  Mairie is not sure what Allemas wants at first.  Then when Allemas discovers that there is more to Mairie and her talents, he sets out to exploit them.  This turns out to be a journey for Mairie.  She looks out for the apparition and sees it again (after she finds half a beautiful crystal).  The apparition knows Mairie, but he cannot tell her anything.  Mairie has to discover her past for herself.  She ends up going full circle in her discovery to find out what happened to her, how Allemas knows her, and her relationship to the unusual apparition that goes by Fyel. 

Magic Bitter, Magic Sweet was a sleeper novel.  It is slow paced, strange (just plain odd), and confusing.  I have to admit that it never did completely make sense and the ending did not help (maybe it is just me).  I give Magic Bitter, Magic Sweet 2.5 out of 5 stars (good idea, but did not like the final product).  I prefer Charlie N. Holmberg’s first books.  They had something special, magical in them that this novel was lacking.  The writing is good (which helps), but beware there is abuse in the book (physical and mental).  The book does have a good message if you make it to the end.  Ms. Holmberg makes scenes come alive with her words (which is why she got the 2.5 stars).  The book does have a good message if you make it to the end.  I am not sure if I will be reading any more books by this author.  They would have to sound really good for me to try them.  I’m sorry but Magic Bitter, Magic Sweet was just not for me.  Charlie N. Holmberg's books that I enjoyed the most are The Paper Magician series.

Magic Bitter, Magic Sweet is available on Kindle Unlimited.  I received a complimentary copy of Magic Bitter, Magic Sweet from NetGalley in exchange for an honest evaluation of the novel.  The opinions and comments expressed above are strictly my own.

May all of you have a special Sunday.  I am off to relax, read (Death at the Day Lily Cafe by Wendy Sand Eckel), and watch Home Fires and the latest Signed, Sealed, and Delivered movie. Take care, stay dry, and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader

P.S.--please ignore the one paragraph that looks different from the others.  I have no idea why it decided to go wonky!  It refused to cooperate. 

Saturday, July 23, 2016

The Second Half

I hope all of you are having a fantastic Saturday.  I have been taking it easy today.  I have a cold so I am a little under the weather. Do you like Christian fiction?  There are many contemporary and historical authors you can try.  Tracie Peterson, Janette Oke, James Scott Bell, Judith Miller, Diana Lesire Brandmeyer,  and Elizabeth Maddrey are just few.   

The Second Half is the latest novel by Lauraine Snelling.  Ken Sorensen is getting ready to retire as Dean of Students from Stone University.  Ken and his wife, Mona will now be to travel or do whatever they want.  Ken has plans for fishing and woodworking.  Mona owns and runs an event planning business from home.  Mona is hoping that Ken will assist her with her event planning business once he retires (Ken has no clue).  Just before his last day at work, Ken finds out that people are trying to eliminate the department he created.  Ken has helped many students and does not want to see his legacy destroyed.  Then Mona and Ken receive a call from their son, Steig.  Steig is a captain in Army’s Special Forces.  Steig has two young children and his wife has abandoned them.  He has just received his orders.  Steig needs his parents to watch Jakey (5) and Mellie (10).  Ken and Mona agree (of course), but this is not what they had planned.  They figure they can do this for six months to a year (at most).  It turns out more complicated than they thought.  Ken gets called back into the university to help his replacement, and Mona is left to watch the children.  Mona has her own business to manage and is at risk of falling back into her depression (it is a constant battle).  Jakey is not handling the changes very well (clingy which is natural).  Mona and Ken keep reminding themselves that it is only temporary, but then the unthinkable happens.  What if it is not just for six months or a year?  See what happens when the best laid plans go awry!

Have you ever heard the phrase “we plan and God laughs”?  That is the premise of The Second Half (referring to the second half of their lives when the kids are grown up and we get to retire).  Mona and Ken each have plans for their retirement.  One action changes everything.  Mona has to battle depression (it is a constant battle to keep depression at bay) and Ken a change of his plans (for taking it easy, fishing, his hobby of woodworking, travel) as well as the destruction of something (legacy) he created (and enjoyed).  The Second Half contains good writing (as usual) and has a sweet ending.  There were some slow spots (especially during the prayer sections), but the book keeps moving at a decent pace for the most part.  I thought Mona worried way too much (all her worrying made me nervous), but it is part of her character (worry, prayer, and depression).  I give The Second Half 4 out of 5 stars.  It was interesting to see how Mona and Ken handled each situation.  It teaches us that we are not in control and worrying does not help.  I liked The Second Half, but it is not my favorite book of Lauraine Snelling (just my personal feelings). My favorite contemporary book by this author is The Healing Quilt.  Ms. Snellings also writes wonderful historical Christian fiction novels.  I love her Red River series (Red River of the North, Home to Blessing, and Return to Red River).

You can follow Lauraine Snelling on Amazon and Facebook (to get updates on her latest novels, news about contests, etc.).  I received a complimentary copy of The Second Half from NetGalley in exchange for an honest evaluation of the novel.  The opinions and comments above are strictly my own.

I am off to enjoy some cold medicine and soup!  I am reading Midsummer Night's Mischief by Jennifer David Hesse (more romance than mystery).  May all of you have a superb Saturday evening.  Take care and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader

Friday, July 22, 2016

Little Girl Gone

Can you believe it is Friday already?  The week just zipped by! Did it go quickly for you? I wanted to share a wonderful suspense/thriller author today. Angela Marsons writes great British thrillers.  Ms. Marsons is responsible for the Detective Kim Stone crime thriller series.  There are four books in this great series.  They are Silent Scream, Evil Games, Lost Girls, and Play Dead.  If you enjoy suspense thrillers, take a moment to check out her novels.

Little Girl Gone by Gerry Schmitt is An Afton Tangler Thriller novel (first book in series).  Marjorie Sorenson has a table at the doll show at Skylark Shopping Mall.  She is showing off her reborn dolls (which look just like real babies).  Susan Darden is at the mall and admires Marjorie’s creations.  Marjorie admires the pictures of Susan’s little girl, Elizabeth Ann who is three months old.  That night Susan and her husband, Richard go out for the evening and leave Elizabeth Ann with a babysitter. Someone breaks in and takes the little girl (after attacking the babysitter).  Afton Tangler is a community liaison officer for the Minneapolis Police Department.  She is called in to handle the Darden’s.  Afton wishes to be a detective, but with her master’s in social work made her perfect for the community liaison officer position (and she keeps hoping to get promoted when a spot opens up and she gets the experience needed for the position).  When Afton ends up upsetting the Darden’s, she works with Max on the case.  Max Montgomery works with the Mutual Aid and Multi-Jurisdictional Squad (MAMJS).  The two work the case to find little Elizabeth Ann and bring her back home.  It is going to take a lot of hard work to find the little girl and her kidnappers but Afton and Max are more than capable of handling the task.

Little Girl Gone is a fast-paced suspense novel that is well-written.  The reader is drawn into the story (a good thing) from the beginning. I liked the main character, Afton Tangler.  She is a smart, hardworking, determined woman.  Afton has an ex-husband and two kids (and now a new dog) and all the problems that go along with them.  Max is a good counterpart for her in the book (40s, divorced twice, and two teenage boys).  I enjoyed following Max and Afton as they worked to solve the case.  I give Little Girl Gone 4.25 out of 5 stars.  I would have enjoyed the story more if the culprit had not been revealed to us.  Knowing the person responsible right from the beginning takes away some of the suspense or intrigue (that is the only thing that I did not like).  I look forward to reading the next book in An Afton Tangler Thriller series.  While this is Gerry Schmitt's first book (under this name) you might have read some of her other works.  Gerry Schmitt writes under the name of Laura Childs (if you read cozy mysteries, you will be familiar with her work).  You might be familiar with Laura Childs Tea Shop Mystery series (which I love).

You can follow Gerry Schmitt (and Laura Childs) on Amazon.  I received a complimentary copy of Little Girl Gone from NetGalley in exchange for an honest evaluation of the novel.  The comments and opinions expressed are strictly my own.

Thank all of you for your visit.  I am currently reading Valley of the Moon by Melanie Gideon (interesting but a little flat).  I will be back tomorrow with another book review!  I hope you have a delightful evening.  Take care and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader