Wednesday, August 31, 2016

A Story to Kill

Can you believe it is the last day of August already?  This year is just flying by so quickly.  It is an extremely wet day in my area.  It has been raining all night and, so far, all day.  I am unable to navigate my yard without a canoe (or getting my feet wet up to my ankles or higher in some areas).  I checked the forecast and it looks like it will be this way until the beginning of next week.  I bet my daughter, Betsy is really wishing she had purchased the car instead of a motorcycle right about now!

A Story to Kill by Lynn Cahoon is the first book in A Cat Latimer Mystery series.  Cat Latimer is a former English Professor at Covington College.  She has decided to start the Warm Springs Writer’s Retreat in Aspen Hills, Colorado (near the college).  Writers can get away from the normal environment, meet fellow writers, and have some quiet time to write.   It is all thanks to her ex-husband (Michael) who recently passed away and left her this house.  This is Cat’s first retreat and one of the guests is Tom Cook, a bestselling writer (something Cat was not expecting).  Things are going well until Cat notices that she has not seen Tom in a while.  Cat finds Tom dead in his room.  Cat immediately calls Chief Pete Edmond, her uncle. Who wanted Tom dead?  Cat needs to get to the bottom of this mystery (it did happen in her house).

Seth Howard, her boyfriend from high school, has been fixing up the house for her and will be doing a remodel to add additional space to the house.  Seth discovers a secret room in the attic but is unable to open it.  When Cat finds Michael’s journal, it references the room, and he even left her a key.  Did any of this have something to do with his death?  Then someone leaves a white carnation outside her study.  Only Michael knew she loved them.  This is only the beginning.  Cat is in for a busy time with her writing (she writes paranormal novels), her writing retreat business, a possible romance, solving Tom’s murder, and now this!  Join Cat on her adventures in A Story to Kill.

I thought that there was too much romance in A Story to Kill. I do not feel that romance should not be the dominate part of a cozy mystery.   The book had Cat admiring Seth’s rear end in his jeans and watching “his muscles ripple”.  It was too much (these were just two examples).  I enjoy a little romance in a cozy mystery (it needs to be subtle and play out slowly), but the lust fest was over the top (and I am not exaggerating).  The mystery (main one) was so very simple and easy to solve (I knew who the murderer was when they found the body).  The secondary one leaves us with a cliffhanger (it will probably take place over a series of novels). I thought the secondary mystery (about Michael) was more captivating (it definitely captured my interest).  A Story to Kill as a satisfactory first novel. I think it needs some work (like less romance and lusting).  I felt bad for the retreaters.  Cat spent more time writing (working on her second novel) and with Seth, than with the people who paid for the retreat.  I give A Story to Kill 3 out of stars.  The writing was good and the book had a good pace.  I will read the next book in the series to see if there is improvement.

Fatality by Firelight is the next book in the series.  It will be out in February 2017! Lynn Cahoon writes A Tourist Trap Mystery series. You can follow Lynn Cahoon on Amazon and Facebook (get updates on her latest releases and contest notifications).  I received a complimentary copy of the novel in exchange for an honest and forthright review.  The comments and opinions expressed are strictly my own.

Thank you for visiting.  I am off to relax and read. I am enjoying The Hawaiian Quilt by Wanda Brunstetter (it is a sweet story).  I hope all of you have a lovely evening.  Take care, stay dry, and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Death Among the Doilies

Welcome!  It is book release day (my favorite day). A Catered Tea Party by Isis Crawford, Pumpkin Picking with Murder by Auralee Wallace, Like a Bee to Honey by Jennifer Beckstrand, Death of a Pumpkin Carver by Lee Hollis, A Story to Kill by Lynn Cahoon, Murder with Macaroni and Cheese by A.L. Herbert and Beneath a Thousand Apple Trees by Janie Devos are some of the books that came out today.  You should take a moment to check out this new books (I love that you can get a sample and try it before you buy it)!

Death Among the Doilies by Mollie Cox Bryan is the first book in A Cora Crafts Mystery series. Cora Chevalier has moved to Indigo Gap, North Carolina and purchased a beautiful, big Victorian home called Kildare House.  She is going to offer craft retreats with the help of her friend, Jane Starr (a potter) and her daughter, London (a little cutie).  Her first retreat will feature Jude Sawyer, master broom maker.  This will be a chance to work out the kinks.  But Cora does not anticipate Jane being accused of murdering Sarah Waters, the school librarian.  Jane’s fingerprints (partials) turn up at the crime scene, and she is immediately arrested (like that would be enough evidence in real life).  Ruby O’Malley, a gifted herbalist and lives on the premises (came with the house), calls her son Cashel (a lawyer) for assistance (he is also very handsome).  Then Cora starts getting retreat cancellations from the locals.  Cora knows she needs to find the Sarah Waters real killer before her business is in ashes.  Cora has to investigate while handling her retreat.  What Cora did not anticipate was ladies’ man, Jude Sawyer.  He seems to be working his way through the women at the retreat (and then leaving upset women in his wake).  Join Cora in her investigation and find out about the doilies in Death Among the Doilies!

Death Among the Doilies is a good first book in A Cora Crafts Mystery series (there is much more going on in the book).  I liked the characters (Ruby is a hoot), the small town setting of Indigo Gap, and the crafting ideas (especially Cora’s reuse/upcycling ideas).  The Victorian house sounds gorgeous (I want it).  The mystery was interesting and complex.  The main mystery can be solved, but there are parts that have to play out (not everything is revealed to the readers).  I give Death Among the Doilies 4 out of 5 stars (I liked it).  I hope that there will be more crafting (especially pottery) in the next book.  We are given a lot of information about the main characters in this book (as expected) since it is the first book in the series.  The author does a good job of laying out the character’s background and why they have relocated.  I will definitely be reading the next book in A Cora Crafts Mystery series.

The next book in A Cora Crafts Mystery series is No Charm Intended and it will be out in April 2017!  Mollie Cox Bryan also writes A Cumberland Creek Mystery series. I received a complimentary copy of the novel in exchange for an honest review.  The comments and opinions expressed are strictly my own.

Thank you for visiting and reading my latest book review.  I am off to cook dinner and then finish The Graces by Laure Eve (it is just awful).  May all of you have a lovely evening!  Take care and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader

Monday, August 29, 2016

Wedding Bell Blues

Welcome Back!  It is raining again in my area.  There is a tropical depression in the Gulf of Mexico that is affecting the weather in our area. We can expect a lot of rain this week in Florida (lucky us). Tonya Kappes has a new book out today.  It is Betting Off Dead.  It is the second book in the Spies and Spells series.  She is having a release party on Facebook between 7 and 9 p.m. today (with prizes).  

Wedding Bell Blues by Ruth Moose is the second book in A Dixie Dew Mystery series.   Beth McKenzie own the Dixie Dew Bed and Breakfast in Littleboro, North Carolina (a unique town).  She receives a phone call from Crazy Rena (not sure where she obtained a cell phone) asking for assistance and Beth hops in her “Lady Bug” (her car) to go assist her.  Beth arrives to find Rena at a picnic table with a man laying atop it.  The man is injured.  Beth immediately calls 911 and gives CPR (though she would rather not after seeing the guys mouth).  Sheriff Ossie DelGardo (who is getting married soon) quickly arrives in his white cowboy hat and showy white snakeskin boots (he looks ridiculous).  Rena keeps rambling that she “killed him” so he carts her off to jail.  That is when Beth notices a truck nearby that states Goods on Delivery (GOD) and Beth realizes that maybe Rena is not as crazy as they all think.  Rena has been telling everyone in town that she is having a June wedding and that the groom is God (the ladies in town helped her put together a dress, veil, and bows for her flip flops).  Maybe she meant the Goods on Delivery guy.  Beth decides to look into the matter, but things get dicey after she receives a threatening phone call (also called her a hussy).  The town is having its Green Bean Festival.  There is a fair, food judging (of items made with green beans), and the crowning of the Green Bean Queen (I am not kidding).  The judges are staying at the Dixie Dew B&B.  After the green bean food judging, Debbie Booth (one of the judges) turns up dead.  Are the two events related (the Goods on Delivery guy and the death of Debbie booth)?  Join Beth and friends in Wedding Bell Blues to find out what happens.

I found Wedding Bell Blues to be over-the-top ridiculous (I am being truthful).  I like some humor, but this was one nutty thing after another.  Rena breaks out of jail and then moves into someone’s home while they are in the hospital (they find her in the person’s bed eating cake and making a mess).  She breaks into people’s homes and steals items (like the cell phone, cake, clothes).  Tell me in what town this would be allowed to occur?  Beth runs around like a loon asking questions and badgering people.  It is a good thing that she has Ida Plum to run the inn or Beth would soon be out of business.  The mystery was easy to figure out.  The novel is a quick and easy read. I give Wedding Bell Blues 3 out of 5 stars (it was okay, just not for me).  There are frequent mentions of Mama Alice (about once a chapter) and “Lady Bug” (her car).  The majority of the book is devoted to silly antics than the mystery (missing rabbit, green bean festival, the mayor’s turtle).  Personally, I think the whole town should be locked up.  Now many people will find the book entertaining, but it is just not for me. Wedding Bell Blues is the second book in the series, but it can be read alone (easily).

The first book in A Dixie Dew Mystery series is Doing It At The Dixie Dew. You can follow Ruth Moose on Amazon.  I received a complimentary copy of Wedding Bell Blues from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.  The comments and opinions expressed are strictly my own.

I want to thank you for joining me and reading my latest review.  I am currently reading The Room with the Second Best View by Virginia Smith (I am really enjoying it).  I will see you tomorrow when I return with another book evaluation.  Take care and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader

Sunday, August 28, 2016

The Darkness Knows

It's the beginning of another week and it is the last week of August. I was in the store the other day and they already have fall candy and decorations on display (and one aisle of Christmas items at the craft store).  The year is going by so quickly.  Some new books come out on Tuesday.  The list includes Beneath a Thousand Apple Trees by Janie Devos, A Catered Tea Party by Isis Crawford, Death of a Pumpkin Carver by Lee Hollis, Death Among the Doilies by Mollie Cox Bryan, A Story to Kill by Lynn Cahoon, Pumpkin Picking with Murder by Auralee Wallace, and Like a Bee to Honey by Jennifer Beckstrand.  I will be reviewing all of these books here on my blog.

The Darkness Knows by Cheryl Honigford is a Viv and Charlie mystery novel.  Vivian Witchell is a radio actress in Chicago, Illinois in 1938.  Vivian was a secretary at the station (for Mr. Hart) before she made the move into acting.  Vivian is determined to be independent and a big star.  One evening Vivian forgot her umbrella and had return to the lounge.  She walks into the lounge and finds a body.  Vivian screams which alerts the elevator operator and then faints dead away.  She awakens in the office of Mr. Hart, the station owner.  The body was that of radio star, Marjorie Fox.  She was the main character in The Golden Years.  After Vivian gets threatened, Mr. Hart hires Charlie Haverman, Jr., a private investigator, to keep her safe and look into the crime.  Vivian wants to help Charlie with the investigation.  She does not want to stay safe at home with her mother (Vivian comes from a well-to-do family).  Can they find the killer before Vivian ends up the next victim?

The Darkness Knows was a good concept.  I like the time period and the radio angle (different from other novels).  However, I thought the mystery was simple and very easy to solve (one clue gives it away).  Vivian is trying to be this independent woman but it does not come across.  She is from a rich family who live in a big house, have a chauffeur, maid, etc.  Her shows of independence are comical (like not using the chauffeur).  There are phrases and words in the book that are not correct for the era.  There is also some information repeated a few times.  I give The Darkness Knows 3 out of 5 stars (it was okay).  Vivian was not my favorite character in the book (I found Graham Yarborough entertaining).  She is such a contradiction (independent, stubborn and then faints and cries).  I thought Cheryl Honigford was a very verbose writer (a nice word for long winded and descriptive).  The book seemed unfinished at the end.  The crime was solved, but we are left with a couple of unanswered questions.  I do not believe I will read the next book in the series (just not for me).

You can follow the author, Cheryl Honigford, on Amazon and get updates on her latest novels.  received a complimentary copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.  The comments and opinions expressed are strictly my won.

I am wore out and ready to go relax.  I am currently reading My Sister's Prayer by Mindy Starns Clark and Leslie Gould (it is too long). May all of you have a delightful evening and a happy Monday morning.  I will be back tomorrow afternoon! Take care and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader

Saturday, August 27, 2016

The Artisan's Wife

It is a bright and sunny day in my area (nice change from the rain). I hope all of you are having a good day.  This is my day to relax because Sunday's are always busy for me (cooking Sunday dinner). What do you like to do on Saturday's?  Is it a day with the family, run errands, or relax with a good book?  Today I am showcasing a book by Judith Miller.  She has written some wonderful Christian series.  They include Postcards from Pullman, Lights of Lowell, Home to Amana, Bells of Lowell, and Daughters of Amana.  If you have not read any of these series, you should take a moment and check them out (get a free sample and try them).

The Artisan’s Wife by Judith Miller is the third (and final) book in Refined by Love series.  Ainslee McKay is happy teaching students, but her sister Adaira has an artistic streak.  Adaira convinced her brother to purchase a tile works where she could use her artistic talents.  Ainslee would run the business end.  Shortly before they are to leave, Adaira disappears.  She ran off and eloped with Chester Mulvane.  The family had no idea she was that serious about the man she married.  Ainslee will have to go off on her own to run McKay Tile Works.  Ainslee has confidence issues and does not want to leave home on her own (she only agreed to the venture to please her twin).  Ainslee gets her brother’s agreement that he will try and sell the tile works so she can return home soon (preferably within six months).  Levi Judson has moved to Weston, West Virginia to be near his brother.  His brother, Noah, has some mental issues (he is not crazy) and is being housed at Trans-Alleghany Lunatic Asylum.  Noah worked at a tile works in Philadelphia and he has some unique and creative ideas.  But if the McKay’s are selling the business, they will not be interested in trying out new ideas.  As Ainslee settles into her new life and role at McKay Tile Works, she starts to enjoy her new life.  Ainslee also gets involved in a project at the asylum helping the patients. When Levi shows her his new designs, Ainslee thinks they are beautiful and unique.  They could be a profitable venture for the tile works.  But is Ainslee willing to stay in Weston?

The Artisan’s Wife is a sweet novel.  I liked how Ainslee grew and changed after spending time in Weston.  Her sister leaving her in the lurch was really a blessing in disguise.  The tile descriptions sounded gorgeous (I wish there were pictures).  The novel is well-written and engaging.  It had a good pace/flow.  The characters were relatable.  They felt like real people and fit into the time period.  I completely understood how Ainslee would feel.  How nervous she would be going off on her own to a new city, job, and place to live.  The romance is very subtle in the book.  It plays out in the background (I like how the author did it).  This is a Christian novel that teaches forgiveness (something Ainslee struggled with in the book), power of prayer, God’s plan for our lives, and misperceptions (how people viewed the residents of the asylum).  I give The Artisan’s Wife 4 out of 5 stars (I liked it).  This novel is part of a series, but can be read alone.  We are updated on the lives of the couples from the previous novels.  We get to check in with Rose and Rylan (who run the pottery works), Ewan and Laura (as well as Grandmother Woodfield), and Chester and Adaira.  One thing I did find annoying was Ainslee “fainting” episodes.  There were too many of them to be believable (women usually fainted because their corsets were too tight and they could not get enough air into their lungs).  I look forward to reading more books by Judith Miller.

The first two books in Refined by Love series are The Brickmaker's Bride (available on Kindle Unlimited) and The Potter's Lady.  I received a complimentary copy of The Artisan’s Wife in exchange for an honest review.  The comments and opinions expressed are strictly my own.

As I am sitting here the sun is disappearing and it is starting to sprinkle.  I am going to go relax and read.  I am currently enjoying Until I Love Again by Jerry S. Eicher.  May all of you have a great evening.  I will be back tomorrow with another honest book review!  Take care and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader

Friday, August 26, 2016

The Book of Beloved

Happy Friday!  It is pouring rain in my area (makes it hard to cook my dinner on the grill).  My dog, Doozy refuses to go outside after a rain storm.  I end up having to push him out the door (and he is a very big boy).  Have you checked out the books of Angie Fox? Ms. Fox writes the Southern Ghost Hunter Mysteries and Biker Witches Mysteries.  They are extremely entertaining (you will be laughing out loud).  Both are paranormal mystery series with unique characters.  They are definitely worth checking out!

The Book of Beloved by Carolyn Haines is the first Pluto’s Snitch novel.  Raissa James is twenty-four years old and a widow.  Her husband died during World War I.  Raissa is a teacher of high school literature in Savannah, Georgia.  She is living a very quiet and dull life which does not go with Raissa’s personality.  Raissa’s secret ambition is to be a writer.  Then Raissa gets an invitation from her Uncle Brett Airlie to come to Mobile, Alabama and visit his home, Caoin House.  It is a chance for her to get away and maybe move out of her mourning period.  Caoin House is set to be haunted and Raissa is excited by the possibility (research for her writing).  Her uncle is going to throw a party in her honor.  On the train to Mobile, Raissa meets Robert Aultman.  The two of them hit it off and want to continue their acquaintance.  Unfortunately, their relationship is meant to be short when Robert falls to death from the roof of Caoin House during the treasure hunt at the party.  Did Robert commit suicide or was he pushed?  Then Raissa sees a spirit in a Confederate uniform.  She is drawn to this spirit.  What does he want with Raissa?  It turns out that he is not the only spirit or ghost in Caoin House.  There is a secret that someone does not want to come to light.  Raissa sets out to get answers and free the spirits from the house.  Join Raissa on her investigation in The Book of Beloved.

The Book of Beloved was just okay.  I definitely felt it was too long.  It needed some (okay, quite a bit) editing which would have enhanced the story.  The pace was too slow which made it hard to read and enjoy.  The pace does pick up in the last 15% of the book (thank goodness).  I found the mystery to be extremely easy to solve.  The culprit was obvious (there might as well have been a spotlight shining on this person), and I solved it very early in the book.  There is one unique twist thrown in (fits with the title).  There are graphic descriptions (no pictures though) of men’s genitalia in the book (fair warning).  Some of the historical references and word usage in the book are inaccurate for the time period and locale.  An example is “gay” was an expression that meant someone was having a good time (she was having a gay old time at the party or the mood at the party was quite gay”).  It did not refer to a person’s sexual persuasion as it does today.  The year was 1920 and the flapper lifestyle (and style of dress) did not become popular until later (starting in 1923).   I give The Book of Beloved 3 out of 5 stars.  The idea has potential, but I just did not enjoy the final product.

The Book of Beloved is available on Kindle Unlimited.  You can follow Carolyn Haines on Amazon to get updates on her book releases.  I received a complimentary copy of the novel from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.  I also won a copy from Goodreads.  The comments and opinions expressed are strictly my own.

Thank you for stopping by and reading my latest book review.  I am currently reading Sewn with Joy by Tricia Goyer and Sherry Gore. Several Christian novels come out on September 1. May all of you have an enchanting evening (we all deserve it). Take care and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Fraying at the Edge

Happy Thursday.  I hope all of you are having a happy and productive day!  It seems that there are not enough hours in the day to get everything done.  Cindy Woodsmall is the author of the book I am highlighting today.  She has written some wonderful novels. Sisters of the Quilt trilogy, Amish Vines and Orchards series, and An Ada's House trilogy are a few of her series.  Amish Christmas at North Star, The Sound of Sleigh Bells (one of my favorites), and Christmas in Apple Ridge (three books in one including The Sound of Sleigh Bells) are just a few of her books. Her Christmas novel this year is The Angel of Forest Hill (I just love her Christmas novels).  If you enjoy Amish fiction, you should definitely check out Cindy Woodsmall.

Fraying at the Edge by Cindy Woodsmall is the second book in The Amish at Summer Grove series.  Ariana Brenneman is twenty years old and has just discovered that she was switched with another girl at birth.  There was a fire at the birthing center the night Ariana and another little girl were born.  Everyone had to evacuate and Rachel, the midwife took charge of the babies.  The two girls must have been switched at that time.  In order to avoid the Rachel, the midwife and now elderly,  from being sued or going to jail (by Nicholas Jenkins, her biological father), Ariana must live in the Englisch world with her biological family (blackmail is always a good way to start a relationship).  Nicholas does not believe in organized religion and has a very low opinion of the Amish culture (he is an atheist).  Nicholas wants Ariana to spend one year with him and her biological mother, Brandi Nash (they are not married to each other). This means that Ariana will have to ask her family to run her new café while she is gone and her fiancé, Rudy will have to be patient and await her return.  Nicholas makes up a list of items (a life lessons list) for Ariana.  He wants her to accomplish a certain number of items on the “list” (going to a bar, dating, getting her driver’s license, hair, clothes, etc.).  Ariana is in for a rough adjustment.  The only person she can contact is Quill Schlabach, former Amish, who works with his brothers at Schlabach Construction (Nicholas believes he is a good influence).  They also help people who wish to leave the Amish community.  Ariana had hoped for a future with Quill, but then he left the community unexpectedly with her best friend.  How will Ariana adjust to the Englisch world?  Will Ariana be the same person when she returns home?

Skylar Nash is the girl that was switched with Ariana.  Skylar is given the choice of staying with her birth parents (Lovina and Isaac Brenneman) or going to rehab.  Skylar has a drug problem and is rebellious.  Nicholas is cutting her off (no money for college, place to live).   Skylar picks staying with the Brenneman’s.  But Skylar is in for a shock when she finds out that they do not have electricity, phones, etc.  Her goal is to find money to escape and keep herself plied with drugs.  After spending her first few days sleeping, Isaac insists that Skylar has to contribute to the household.  She can work in the gardens, help with the household chores, work in the barn, or help in the café.  Skylar picks working in the café hoping it will provide a chance to see her boyfriend and drug dealer.  Lovina wants to get to know her daughter, but Skylar is not interested.  She feels that Nicholas and Brandi were glad to be rid of her and her birth family did not care enough to look for her.  Skylar is in for a reality check living with the Brenneman’s.  Can the Brenneman’s help rebellious and wounded Skylar?

Fraying at the Edge is well-written (as are all of Cindy Woodsmall’s books) and has good characters.  It is not a stand-alone novel.  You do need to read the first book in the series in order to understand everything that is happening in Fraying at the Edge (or you will be very confused).  I did find that the religious aspect is strong in this book.  There are many theological “discussions” as Nicholas rants about the Amish culture and other religions.  I have to admit that I did find it off-putting, and I started skimming through these sections (for me that means speed reading).  I did, though, like his point about questioning things and not just following with blind obedience.  It was interesting to see how Ariana adjusted to life in the Englisch world.  Ms. Woodsmall did a very good job at showing us how our world (Englisch) looks through Arianna’s eyes.  I give Fraying at the Edge 4 out of 5 stars.  I was disappointed with the cliffhanger.  We have to wait another year for the final book and answers (which I will be reading).  I am curious to see what life Ariana will pick.

The first book in The Amish of Summer Grove is The Ties that Bind.  I received a copy of Fraying at the Edge from Blogging for Books and the publisher in exchange for an honest review.  The comments and opinions expressed are strictly my own.

I really appreciate you stopping by and reading my review (sorry it was long today).  I am currently reading Sarah's Orphans by Vannetta Chapman (it is very good). May all of you have a delightful evening.  I will be back tomorrow with another honest book review.  Take care and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Homeschooling Can Be Murder

Welcome!  I hope everyone has had a good Wednesday. I wanted to share some Christian cozy mysteries that are aimed at adults with you today.  You can purchase them from Guideposts and on Amazon (They are significantly less expensive if you purchase them on Amazon than through Guideposts).  Patchwork Mysteries, Mystery and the Minister's Wife series, Tales from Grace Chapel Inn (wonderful series), Church Choir Mysteries, Secrets of the Blue Hill Library, and Mysteries of Silver Peak.  They are all delightful to read (I just love them).  You should take the time to check them out on Amazon (available in hardcover only). 

Homeschooling Can Be Murder by Susan Lyttek is a Christian cozy mystery, and the first book in A Talbott Family Mystery series. Jeanine Talbott is married to James Talbott who is in the army.  James has gotten his order that they are moving to Gentle Springs.  Jeanine does not want to move and does everything possible to avoid it as long as possible.  She does not even go with James to pick out the new house (she lets him buy it alone—big mistake).  When Jeanine cannot delay any longer, she travels to her new home with her son, Justin (soccer tournament delayed them). That is when Jeanine finds out that James bought a house next to a cemetery.  Jeanine has a strong aversion to cemeteries and graveyards.  They have no sooner arrived when James is sent out of town on assignment.  Then the noises and lights start appearing every night in the cemetery.  They try the police, but they will no longer respond to calls from the house (because of the previous owner).  One morning Jeanine lets the dog out and he escapes the yard (someone left the gate open).  Jeanine and the children (Justin and Josie) find Jelly (the dog) in the cemetery guarding a dead body and Justin’s soccer bowl is nearby.  The problem is the person is newly deceased (the graveyard is no longer being used).  Who killed him and why was he left in the cemetery? 

Homeschooling Can Be Murder is a Christian cozy mystery that seems to be aimed more at tweens and young adults.  It is a cute but simple story.  It is easy to read and has a good pace.  I liked the goods in the book (better than the mother).  The book is a has too much religion for my tastes (it could be toned down).  I give Homeschooling Can Be Murder 3 out of 5 stars (it was okay).  A few things bothered me in the book.  The mother takes her children into the cemetery and lets them view a dead body (one kids touches it).  She lets them participate in the investigation (which leads to the children being in a dangerous situation).  What mother would do this (that is why I think this is book is aimed at a younger audience).  The mystery was the best part of the book.  It was easy to solve, but I liked the turn it took (treasure and tunnels).  I would definitely recommend this book for tweens.

You can check out Susan Lyttek other books on Amazon and get updates on her latest releases (by following her).  I received a complimentary copy of the novel in exchange for an honest evaluation.  The comments and opinions expressed are strictly my own!

I will be reviewing Fraying at the Edge by Cindy Woodsmall tomorrow.   I hope all of you have a delightful and relaxing evening (I cannot wait to sit down and relax).  I am currently reading A Catered Tea Party by Isis Crawford.  Take care and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader  

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Die, Die Birdie

I hope everyone is having a lovely Tuesday.  There are just not enough hours in a day to get everything done (especially when you would rather be reading)!  I thought I would share a paranormal mystery series with you today that I enjoy reading.  It is the Relatively Dead Mysteries by Sheila Connolly.  There are currently four books in the series with the fifth one to be released very soon (according to the author).  The main character can see spirits.  But only if they are related to her.  And her family goes back for many, many generations in New England.  The books in the series are Relatively Dead, Seeing the Dead, Defending the Dead, and Watch for the Dead.  I hope you take a look at this unique and enjoyable series.

Die, Die Birdie by J.R. Ripley is the first book in A Bird Lover’s Mystery series. Amy Simms is opening Birds and Bees in Ruby Lake, North Carolina in a beautiful old Victorian home.  It is a shop that will have bird supplies, apiary gear and supplies, and other items related nature such as gardening items.  Amy is hoping to open her shop soon if only her supplies will arrive.  Amy has the shop on the first floor, apartments on the second floor (with a grandfathered in renter), and Amy lives on the top floor.  Amy comes home and finds the front door unlocked (she remembers locking it).  Amy decides to check out the place to make sure no one is inside (besides the crotchety renter).  Amy is on the second floor and finds a body with a feeder hook nearby (which she touches).  The next thing she knows Esther Pilaster, the renter, is accusing her of murder.  The dead guy turns out to be Matt Kowalski.  Amy knew him in high school and they had an encounter with a baseball bat.  Unfortunately, Sheriff Jerry Kennedy (also knew Amy in high school) believes Amy to be the number one suspect (her fingerprints are on the murder weapon).  Amy needs to clear her name pronto so she can open Birds and Bees.  What was Matt doing in her house and why did someone kill him?  Amy dives into the investigation.  She will be busy as a bee trying to find the culprit and getting her shop ready for its grand opening.

Die, Die Birdie is a cute book.  I found it easy to read and the writing was good.  I did feel that the crime happened too early in the story (chapter one).   I wish there had been a little more build up to the murder.  The author tries to divert the reader, but the mystery is really easy to solve (it needed to be more complex or have a good twist).  I give Die, Die Birdie 3.5 out of 5 stars (needs a little tweaking).  The main character and the tenant are good characters, though Amy is a little scatterbrained.  We did not get a lot of information on Amy, but I hope we will in future books.  The setting is a typical small town with gossip central (everyone knows everyone else’s business).  I liked the idea for the shop (unique). I wish there was one in my area (I have several bird feeders in my yard).  I did find some things to be a little too silly (i.e. idiotic) for me (had me rolling my eyes).  Die, Die Birdie is a good start to a new series.  I look forward to reading the next book in A Bird Lover’s Mystery series.

The next book in A Bird Lover's Mystery series is Towhee Get Your Gun and it will be out on January 3, 2017.  You can follow J.R. Ripley on Amazon to receive notification on new releases.  I received a complimentary copy of Die, Die Birdie in exchange for an honest evaluation.  The comments and opinions expressed are strictly my own.

I am off to cook my mother's dinner and bake some cookies (she ran out of her chocolate chip cookies) before I relax for the night. I hope all of you have an enjoyable evening.  I will be back tomorrow with another honest book review.  Take care and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader

Monday, August 22, 2016

The Wedding Shop

I hope all of you are having a delightful Monday.  It is a nice sunny day in my area (and hot).  I spent the majority of my afternoon going through emails.  I had over 300 emails (just ridiculous). They are all gone now (thank goodness).  If you are looking for a Christian historical romance (what a mouthful) novel to read, check out The Artisan's Wife by Judith Miller and The Meeting Place by Janette Oke and T. Davis Bunn (first book in a good series).

The Wedding Shop by Rachel Hauck tells the story of Haley Morgan and Cora Beth Scott.  Haley Morgan has returned to Heart’s Bend, Tennessee where she grew up.  Haley has resigned from the Air Force and needs to decide what to do next.  When Haley finds out that The Wedding Shop is going to be torn down for a parking lot, Haley decides it is time to make an old dream come true.  When Haley was younger, she dreamed of reopening this shop with her friend, Tammy.  Tammy, unfortunately, passed away recently.  Haley decides this is a way to save the building and honor her friend.  Cole Danner was Tammy’s fiancé (she died before their wedding).  Cole runs Danner Construction and is just the right person to help Haley.  Haley has to convince the city to let her have the building (instead of selling it to the developers).  But that is just the beginning!

Cora Beth Scott ran The Wedding Shop after the death of her Aunt Jane.  Cora was in her element at the shop.  But Cora had a weak spot named Rufus St. Claire, a riverboat captain.  Cora was convinced he loved her and was waiting for Rufus to earn enough money so they could settle down.  Birch Good was in love with Cora, and he was waiting for her to realize the Rufus was a no good scoundrel.  What will it take to open Cora’s eyes?  Join Haley as she remodels The Wedding Shop, discovers the shops history as well as Cora’s, and starts a new chapter in her life.

The Wedding Shop was a very good book.  It is well-written and captured my attention right away.  I liked how the author tied everything together.  It is such a charming story that is easy to read.  The Wedding Shop had a nice small town setting (Heart’s Bend, Tennessee), good characters that a reader can relate too, and an interesting tale.  I enjoyed the descriptions of the shop and the beautiful clothes (especially the vintage wedding dresses).  Rachel Hauck put some great lessons or messages into The Wedding Shop.  The importance of listening to God, the power of prayer, and knowing that God has a plan for your life (it may not be what you have in mind).  I give The Wedding Shop 4 out of 5 stars (I liked it).  I did find Cora to be a little too naïve (very gullible).  Cora seemed to view Rufus through rose colored glasses, but it did fit into the storyline.  I like Rachel Hauck’s writing, and I will definitely read her novels in the future. A Royal  Christmas Wedding (Rachel Hauck's next book) will be out in October.

Rachel Hauck has also written The Wedding Dress (very good) and The Wedding Chapel (I enjoyed it). You can follow Rachel Hauck on Amazon and they will notify you when she has a new book release.  I received a complimentary copy of The Wedding Shop in exchange for an honest evaluation of the novel.  The comments and opinions expressed are strictly my own.

I hope all of you have a good evening.  Make sure to take time for yourself!  I am currently reading Death of a Pumpkin Carver by Lee Hollis.  I am off to cook dinner and then write more reviews (they do not write themselves).  Take care and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader  

Sunday, August 21, 2016

An Amish Harvest

Thank you for stopping by!  I hope all of you are having a nice, relaxing Sunday.  I have a roast chicken in the oven for dinner (we do a family dinner on Sunday's).  I will be making an apple crisp to go with it (my mother loves dessert).  Does you family have any Sunday traditions?  Did you know that authors frequently have contests when they release a new book?  They will post information on their blog, Twitter, and Facebook. You should take the time to "like" your favorite author on Facebook so you will be notified when there is a contest.  I recently won a Deanna Chase novel this way.  I also won meat thermometers (to use when grilling) and a picnic package (had the cutest napkins) from Daryl Wood Gerber. It is worth the investment in time (sometimes you can win gift cards to Amazon too)!

An Amish Harvest contains four stories by Beth Wiseman, Kathleen Fuller, Vannetta Chapman, and Amy Clipston.  Under the Harvest Moon (Beth Wiseman) is set in Paradise, Pennsylvania.  Naomi Dienner is a widow with two children.  Her husband recently passed away and Naomi is not exactly sad.  Stephen, her husband, was abusive to her, but Naomi did not tell anyone.  Brock Mulligan was hired by Gideon, Naomi’s father to harvest her fields.  Brock and Naomi get to know each other, but Naomi is not sure she can ever trust another man.  Will Naomi be able to get over Stephen’s abuse and have a happy future?

Love and Buggy Rides (Amy Clipston) is set in Bird-in-Hand, Pennsylvania.  Janie Lantz has a new job as cashier at Lancaster Buggy Rides and Souvenirs.  On her first day Janie witnesses an accident between a car and one of the buggy drivers.  Janie is not questioned by the police at the time.  Later on, Janie hears that the car driver is blaming Jonathan Stoltzfus, the buggy driver, for the accident.  Janie wants to come forward to clear his name, but her father forbids it.  Will Janie listen to her conscience or her father?

A Quiet Love (Kathleen Fuller) takes place in Middlefield, Ohio.  Dinah Keim has a bad stutter and prefers to be alone (to read book, write poetry, and not be judged).  Her mother is sending her to help her Aunt Judith in Ohio.  Dinah meets Amos who is different.  These two form a bond.  But are they meant to be?

Mischief in the Autumn Air by Vannetta Chapman is the final story.  Martha Beiler is a widow in Sugar Creek, Ohio.  Martha has just received a letter from Aunt Irene who is offering her a place to live in Shipshewana (there are a few rules though).  Martha has no choice but to accept.  Aunt Irene is not the most pleasant person in the world and Martha is thankful for the job she gets at a local auction barn (Bishop arranged it for her).  Eli Wittmer owns the auction barn and is having trouble adjusting to Martha’s sunny disposition (and many suggestions).  During the Fall Festival (they are very busy), Martha notices some unusual bidders.  She tries to warn Eli but he ignores her.  Three items went for an unusually high price and they were sold to the strange bidders.  Upon further examination, they discover parts of a map on the three pieces.  The furniture belonged to Jacob and Charity Weaver who just moved into a retirement home.  Eli and Martha set off to get answers and unravel the mystery.

An Amish Harvest was a pleasure to read.  Each story was well-written, had likeable and engaging characters, and a moral lesson (that apply to all readers).  An example is relying on God and his plan for each of our lives.  The stories are short (the last one is the longest), but they are packed with charm.  I enjoyed the fall time period.  It is my favorite time of year and the one thing I miss by living in Florida (we never really have a fall).  My favorite story was Mischief in the Autumn Air.  I liked the unique mystery, the setting, and the characters (Martha had a good outlook on life and personality).  I give An Amish Harvest 4 out of 5 stars (I liked it).  You can purchase the book whole or you can buy the stories individually (if you just wanted one or two of them).  I will definitely read books by each of these authors in the future. 

You can follow Beth Wiseman, Vannetta Chapman, Kathleen Fuller, and Amy Clipston on Amazon.  I received a complimentary copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.  The comments and opinions expressed are strictly my own.

I am off to make my apple crisp.  I am currently reading Pumpkin Picking with Murder by Auralee Wallace (it is trying to hard to be humorous).  May all of you be blessed with a very special day.  I will be back soon with another review.  Take care and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Seasons in Paradise

Welcome!  I hope all of you are having a stupendous Saturday!  I am continuing with the non-cozy mystery books today and sharing an Amish fiction novel.  I discovered them in my early 30s at a Christian bookstore near my job.  I have been a fan ever since.  If you have not tried Amish fiction before, I hope you will at least give one book a try.  Wanda Brunstetter, Beverly Lewis, Sarah Price, and Amy Clipston (her Kauffman Amish Bakery series) are just a few of the authors who publish Amish fiction novels.

Seasons in Paradise by Barbara Cameron is the second book in The Coming Home series.  Mary Elizabeth Zook is twenty-three years old and living with her family in Paradise, Pennsylvania. Mary Elizabeth is in love with Sam Stoltzfus, but Sam has left the Amish because of his father’s domineering ways (all three brothers left).  Sam’s father, Amos, was recently diagnosed with an illness and it has caused him to change his ways (it is still a work in progress).  Sam has yet to see this change aimed in his direction (he only seems different with David who married Lavina, the oldest Zook girl).  Mary Elizabeth needs to make a decision.  Either move on with her life, or find a way to bring Sam back into the fold.  Sam takes Mary Elizabeth aside one day and tells her that he is not coming back to the community.  While Mary Elizabeth is heartbroken, she knows she needs to move on with her life.  Ben Miller is new to Paradise, and he takes an interest in Mary Elizabeth.  They start spending time together. 

Mary Elizabeth, Kate Kraft (a local police officer) and Rose Anna (the youngest Zook sister) donate time to a local women’s shelter.  They teach the women to sew and makes quilted items.  Leah, owner of Stitches in Time (local quilting store), purchases the building next door to her shop.  Leah is going to allow the women from the shelter to sell their work in the shop which will be called Sewn in Hope.  Sam and his friend, Peter Beiler form their own construction company, and they are hired to do the remodeling work for the new shop.  This brings Sam in touch with Mary Elizabeth on a regular basis.  Ben does not like Mary Elizabeth around Sam and wants her to avoid it.  This is a new side to Ben that Mary Elizabeth does not like (he is a little domineering).  Sam does not like seeing Mary Elizabeth with another man.  Can Sam make amends with his father and return to the Amish way of life (and Mary Elizabeth)?  Which man is the right one for Mary Elizabeth?  Join Mary Elizabeth, Sam, and friends in Paradise, Pennsylvania in Seasons in Paradise!

Seasons in Paradise is the second novel in the series, but it can be read as a stand-alone novel.  The author does a very good job at summarizing what happened in the previous novel.  Seasons in Paradise is well-written, easy to read, and has a good pace (flows well).  It is a sweet, simple romance story that makes for good reading on a rainy afternoon (or sitting at the beach).  The story is told from Mary Elizabeth and Sam's point-of-views.  The book has engaging and likeable characters in real life situations.  While it is a predictable story, I still enjoyed it (I closed the book with a smile on my face).  I enjoyed seeing how the women in the shelter had made progress with their lives (and seeing people donating their time to help others).  The next book will deal with the third sister, Rose Anna.  I give Seasons in Paradise 4 out of 5 stars (I liked it).  I will be reading the next book in the series to see what happens with Rose Anna (see if she winds up with the last Stoltzfus brother).

The first book in The Coming Home series is Return to Paradise. The next book in the series is Home to Paradise (out in February 2017).  I received a complimentary copy of the book in exchange for a review.  The comments and opinions expressed are strictly my own.

May all of you have a fantabulous evening!  I will be reviewing Amish Harvest tomorrow.  I am off to rest and put my feet up (hopefully the swelling will go down).  Take care and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader