It's Friday! Congrats on making it through the last week of March. Please be very aware that tomorrow is April Fool's Day! You need to watch out for the pranksters in your life (my father always loved playing jokes on me).
Tightening the Threads by Lea Wait is the fifth book in A Mainely Needlepoint Mystery series. Angie Curtis is surprised when her friend and
antiques dealer, Sarah Byrne tells her why she has been spending so much time
with gallery owner, Ted Lawrence. It
turns out that Ted is her uncle. Sarah
has finally found family and this weekend Ted is going to tell his children
about Sarah. They are all coming to town
for Ted’s seventy-fifth birthday. Sarah
asks Angie to come along for the weekend at Ted’s home The Point. Jeremy, Ted’s longtime gallery employee and
Patrick West will also be in attendance.
After Ted’s children arrive, they enjoy a special dinner and then
birthday cake along with champagne. Ted
then announces that the kids (they are all adults) have a new cousin and
introduces Sarah. But, Ted is not finished
with his pronouncements. He tells them
that he has stage four lung cancer, and he will be altering his will to include
Sarah. He wishes for her to receive the
Robert Lawrence (Sarah’s grandfather) paintings. The children are outraged and Jeremy is less
than pleased. The next day they prepare
for a lobster and clam bake on the beach.
Everyone is enjoying the delicious seafood dinner when Ted suddenly stands
up. He cannot speak and points at his
throat. Ted is quickly rushed to the
hospital where, unfortunately, he passes away an hour later. Someone in the family objected to Ted changing
his will, and they were making sure he would not be able to accomplish his
goal. Luke Lawrence hires Angie to
investigate Ted’s death. He wants the
case wrapped up as quickly as possible (so everyone can return home). The next day Angie receives word that there
has been another death. Is foul play involved?
Angie needs to work quickly before Haven Harbor gets a bad reputation
(or someone does away with the rest of Ted’s ungrateful children).
Tightening the Threads is easy to
read, has good characters, and a beautiful setting. The author provides some
lovely descriptions of the town and surrounding area. I thought the book had a good pace. I did not find any slow spots. The mystery did not start until I was forty
percent of the way through the book. The
first part of the book sets up the story and the last part is in solving
it. I give Tightening the Threads 4 out
of 5 stars. The mystery was intriguing. I like how the author crafted it and the
unique method of murder. I thought that
part of it was easy to solve, but the other element was a little more
challenging (I am trying not to give anything away). I do wish that there had been a good outcome
for Sarah. I am a little disappointed
with Angie and her jealousy concerning Patrick West. Patrick and Angie’s relationship is in the
early stages and her jealousy seems unwarranted. Patrick does not seem the type of person to
kiss and cheat. The author included a
secondary mystery regarding bones in a wall dividing Angie’s property from her
neighbors. It really seemed like a
senseless inclusion (it was a letdown).
Then there was the issue of Ted’s wife, Lily. The way it was written in the book, I thought
Lily’s death would turn out to be a long unsolved murder (I expected it to go somewhere). Her death was mentioned a couple of times,
and I kept thinking the author would tie it in somehow (a lover did her in, a
jealous friend, someone spiked her drink).
Overall, though, I enjoyed Tightening the Threads. It captured and held my interest. I will be reading Thread the Halls when it
comes out in October.
The Avid Reader
When the Grits Hit the Fan by Maddie Day is the third A Country Store Mystery series. Robbie Jordan owns the Pans ‘N Pancakes in
South Lick, Indiana. The restaurant is
full of graduate students and professors from Indiana University’s Sociology
Department. Robbie’s friend, Lou Perlman
is having a heated conversation with Professor Charles Stilton. Professor Stilton had been Lou’s advisor for
her research paper, but he recently had his own paper accepted for publication
on the same topic. He claims that it was
parallel research, but Lou states he stole her material. New department head, Dr. Zenobia “Zen” Brown
manages to settle the group, before it breaks up for the night. The next day Lou and Robbie decide to get
some exercise and head out on snowshoes for a walk in the woods. They end up at Crooked Lake, and Robbie notices
an ice fishing hole. Robbie has not seen
one previously and peers in to check out the fish. Instead of fish swimming under the ice,
Robbie finds Dr. Stilton swimming with the fishes (I couldn’t resist). It turns out that Dr. Stilton had a habit of
angering others which makes for a long suspect list. Unfortunately, Lou is at the top of that
list. While business is slow (because of
the winter weather), Robbie is working on remodeling the second floor of her
building. She wants to turn it into a
bed and breakfast. She has been finding
a variety of objects inside the walls including newspapers and vintage shoes. Robbie must put her remodeling plans on hold
when Lou is bumped up to prime suspect.
Robbie starts delving into Charles Stilton’s life and history to find
out who made him fish bait. One person is not happy with Robbie’s meddling and
sets out to stop her from discovering the truth.
When the Grits Hit the Fan is an
entertaining cozy mystery. I found the
book to be nicely written, easy to read, and it has a good flow. I enjoyed the characters and the
setting. I like in the descriptions of
the old kitchenware items that Robbie has on display in the restaurant (I love
antiques and vintage items). When the Grits Hit the Fan is the third book in A Country Store Mystery series, but it
can easily be read alone. The author
provides background details on Robbie and her business. I give When the Grits Hit the Fan 3.5 out of
5 stars. There are two mysteries in the
book, and I appreciated how the author tied them together. I just wish the solution to both crimes had
not been so simple. I was hoping there
would be a nice surprise twist at the end that would leave me by flummoxed. I did find that some information was repeated
a few times over the course of the novel.
This cozy mystery is a little more cozy than mystery. It is nice, though, to revisit South Lick,
Indiana and get updates on the citizens that populate this quaint town. There are recipes at the end of the
book. The next book in A Country Store Mystery series is Biscuits and Slashed Browns!
The Avid Reader
Cherry Cake and a Cadaver by
Susan Boles is the second book in A Lily Gayle Lambert Mystery series. Lily Gayle Lambert lives in Mercy,
Mississippi. Recently some out of
towners purchased the old Mitchell Manor and are turning it into a bed and
breakfast. The house has undergone
massive renovations and is being renamed The Midnight Dragonfly. The gossip hotline is on fire as people
speculate on the new owners and what the inside will look like. The new proprietors will be holding a party
to unveil the house, but Lily Gayle does not wish to wait. She convinces her friend, Dixie Newsom to
sneak a peek in the windows. Because of
the blinds, Lily Gayle cannot see anything.
Dixie wishes to leave, but Lily Gayle moves around to the back of the house
where she discovers the back door is slightly open. Lily Gayle considers this an invitation to go
in and explore. In the kitchen, the pair
are in for shock when they find local baker, Luxen Natolovish dead on the
floor. Dixie calls Sheriff Ben Carter
while Lily Gayle checks out the scene of the crime (and maybe snaps a few pictures). Lily Gayle starts inquiring about Luxen’s
background. She wonders why someone
would wish to harm him. Then Bobby
Moore, local bad boy, approaches Lily Gayle about the disappearance of his
mother, Rikki. He is worried about her
and refuses to contact the sheriff. Bobby wants Lily Gayle to find her. Is Rikki’s disappearance related to Luxen’s
murder? How do the new owners of The
Midnight Dragonfly fit into this puzzle?
Can Lily Gayle untangle this mystery and find Rikki? Join Lily Gayle on
her latest investigation in Cherry Cake and a Cadaver!
Cherry Cake and a Cadaver is best
enjoyed after reading Death of a Wolfman.
Information from the first book is alluded to but not fully
explained. I wish the author had taken
the time to provide some background on Lily Gayle (like her occupation) for
readers who are new to the series and a reminder for others. Cherry Cake and a Cadaver is a light,
humorous novel. It has a good pace and
can easily be finished in a couple of hours (or less). I found this story to be more cozy than
mystery. Readers get to find out about
the various shops in town as well as the citizens. In addition, we find out why Harley Ann has
come to Mercy to live with her aunt, Miss Edna.
I was intrigued about the refugee camp mentioned in the book. I discovered that there are pictures
available online. I give Cherry Cake and a Cadaver 3 out of 5 stars. I do wish
that more time had been spent on the mystery and that it was more complex. Readers will be able to easily solve the
whodunit. I felt that the ending was a
little rushed. You could tell that the
author was trying to wrap up the story. There
are recipes included at the end of the book including the one for the cherry
cake mentioned in title. Cherry Cake and a Cadaver is a humorous, short story that is sure to liven up your afternoon. Cherry Cake and a Cadaver will be published on Friday, March 31!
Thank you for visiting and reading my latest book review. I hope you have a wonderful Wednesday. I will be back on Thursday to tell you about When Grits Hit the Fan by Maddie Day. Take care and Happy Reading!
The Avid Reader
Plain Missing by Emma Miller is
the fourth book in An Amish Mystery series.
Rachel Mast is staying at her parents’ house to help take care of her
mother, Esther while she is undergoing chemotherapy for her breast cancer. It
is difficult because Esther refuses to talk with Rachel directly or let Rachel sit
at the dining table with the rest of the family. This has been going on for over seventeen
years. Late Friday evening, Rachel is
sitting on the back porch when she notices a light bobbing across the field
towards the Mast home. It is her cousin,
Mary Aaron seeking Rachel’s assistance.
Elsie, Mary Aaron’s sister, failed to arrive home from the singing. Rachel and Mary Aaron drive around to see if
they can find Elsie and the man who drove her home, Dathan. After twenty-four hours, Elsie or Dathan are
still missing and so are the horse and wagon.
Rachel contacts Trooper Lucy Mars for assistance since her fiancé (and
detective) Evan Parks is out of town.
The police cannot do much since both parties are over twenty-one. The police believe that the pair decided to
elope and escape into the English world.
Elsie’s family knows that she would never do that. Rachel is determined to find out what
happened to Elsie and Dathan. People in
the community are keeping secrets, and Rachel is going to ferret them out.
Plain Missing may be the fourth
book in the series, but it can be read alone.
The author provides the needed background information on Rachel and her family. The book is nicely written and, for the most
part, easy to read. The pace was a
little slow at times especially when Rachel was speculating. The author tried to make the mystery complicated,
but it can easily be solved early in the story.
There are several major clues in the book that assist readers in untangling
the riddle. I give Plain Missing 3.5 out
of 5 stars. We get to see what life is
like in an Amish community for its members, outsiders, and young people who
have yet to decide whether or not to join the Amish church. I can see the pros and cons for each
choice. I cannot imagine, though, living
without modern technology (it has to be different if you have never had it). I do wonder, though, if Amish are as naïve as
they are made out to be in novels. Are
the young people aware of the dangers in our society? While Plain Missing is a nice story, my
attention was never fully captured by the writing. I just felt that something was lacking and
that the book was too long. The ending
was stretched out. I did appreciate the
epilogue and the growth in Esther’s character. The other novels in the series are Plain Murder, Plain Killing, and Plain Dead. Plain Missing came out today!
The Avid Reader
Marrying Jonah by Amy Lillard is
the sixth book in the Wells Landing series.
Sarah Yoder has been smitten with Jonah and everyone knows it. But Jonah is in love with Lorie
Kauffman. Unfortunately, Lorie decided to
leave the Amish and recently married another.
Jonah is still pining for Lorie. Sarah
has decided to turn over a new leaf. She
is going to ignore Jonah and find a way to move on. One night after a youth event, Jonah happens
upon Sarah who is walking home (the young man who was driving her home became
fresh). While driving Sarah home, Sarah asks if they cannot find a way to be
friends. They end up stopping by the
lake to talk, and Jonah ends up seeking comfort from Sarah. Six weeks later, Sarah discovers that she is
with child. Jonah does the honorable
thing and offers to marry Sarah (after adjusting to the news). She wanted Jonah as her husband, but Sarah
wanted him to love her. The last thing
she wants is a man who does not love her in return. Unfortunately, they are not given an alternative
and are quickly married. The marriage
gets off to a rocky start when the pair must live with Jonah’s parents. Gertie Miller, Jonah’s mother, is not partial
to Sarah and makes her feelings quite evident.
Jonah decides to make things easier by finding a house for them. Slowly, Jonah begins to see the kind, caring
and lovable woman he married. But then
tragedy strikes, and it looks like their relationship is doomed. Is there a chance for these two-young
people? If they are to have a future, Jonah
needs to prove his love to Sarah and open the lines of communication.
Marrying Jonah is a sweet and
nicely written Amish novel. I liked the
characters and the storyline. It was
interesting to see Jonah’s reaction to Sarah once she quit paying attention to
him. The book had a good flow and can be
read in a few hours. There are some good
lessons in this novel (forgiveness, doing the right thing). Readers get to see how important love and
communication are to a relationship. While Marrying Jonah is the sixth book in
the series, it can be read alone. Each
book is about a different set of characters.
I give Marrying Jonah 4 out of 5 stars.
I did become frustrated at times at the lack of communication between
Sarah and Jonah. I wanted to tell these
two to grow up and start talking. Sarah,
though, did not make things easy for Jonah.
Marrying Jonah is my favorite book in the series. It is a moving novel with a special
ending. I really appreciated the
epilogue and how the author provided updates on the characters from the other
novels in the Wells Landing series. Marrying Jonah will be out on Tuesday, March 28.
The Avid Reader
I hope everyone is having a lovely and relaxing Sunday. It is a chance for you to recharge your batteries before a new week begins. Heather Sunseri has a new book coming out on April 4. It is titled Cut in Darkness and it is the second book in the In Darkness series. Exposed in Darkness is the first book in the series and is currently $2.99 on Amazon.
A Mother’s Love is the newest
book by Amish author Charlotte Hubbard.
Rose Raber lives in Cedar Creek with her daughter, Gracie and her
mother, Lydia. The previous summer Rose
lost her father, Myron and her husband, Nathan in a fire at their mill. Now, Rose is losing her mother. Lydia’s cancer has returned after thirty
years. The chemo was ineffective this
time and Lydia is dying. Her mother has
one last bit of information to share with Rose before she passes on. She tells Rose about a stationery box in her
dresser that has letter addressed to Rose.
Rose reads the letters and discovers that she is adopted. Her birth mother, Roseanne was sixteen when
she discovered herself with child and her aunt, Nettie found Lydia. Lydia was unable to have children due to the
cancer treatments. A second letter tells
Rose that Roseanne (now Anne) is being courted by a good man, but he is unaware
of her past. She asks Rose to not look
for her and Bishop Gingerich agrees.
Rose and Gracie are at the mercantile when they bump into Matthias
Wagler, a widower, who is opening a harness shop in nearby Morning Star. Rose is
lucky to find a cooking position at Morning Star Senior Center. Rose and Matthias spend more time together
(thanks to Gracie), and she confides in him about her birth mother. In Anne’s letter, she had mentioned that Saul
Hartzler was courting her. Matthias is
aware of Saul and the Hartzler Carriage Company in Morning Star. One day Anne Hartzler walks into the senior
center and meets Rose. Rose lost one
mother, but she is getting a chance to know the woman who gave birth to
her. It a town as small as Morning Star
it is inevitable that Saul runs into Rose and Gracie when he is out with Anne
and his mother. What happens when a thirty-year-old
secret springs forth disrupting several lives?
To see what happens, pick up A Mother’s Love.
A Mother’s Love is well-written
and is an engaging novel. I found A Mother’s Love to be an emotional novel (you might need to keep a tissue handy). I give A Mother’s Love 4 out of 5 stars. I did have a little trouble with Gracie. She is a gregarious and active child who can
easily get on a person’s nerves (she would wear me out in less than thirty
minutes). She comes across as a little
spoiled (of course, I am sure my Doozy does too). Her mother gives her what she
wants and Gracie does not seem to get punished when she eavesdrops on adult
conversations (she snuck out of bed).
You just know that this child is going to spill the secret (small
children cannot keep secrets). A Mother’s Love is full of activity. It is amazing at
how much the author packed into one novel.
I thought A Mother’s Love has several good messages. They include that none of us are perfect (all
of us have flaws), God has a plan for our lives, good things come to those that
wait (aka God’s timing not our own). We
see how important it is to forgive a person, to have love in our lives, and the
importance of faith. The ending is very
special and leaves a person with a good feeling in their heart. I liked A Mother’s Love and look forward to
reading more Charlotte Hubbard books in the future.
A Mother's Love will be released on Tuesday, March 28. Thank you for your visit. I am going to go relax and enjoy the day. I will see you when I return to do another book review. Take care and Happy Reading!
The Avid Reader
The Shipyard Girls at War by Nancy Revell is the second book in The Shipyard Girls series. It is December 27, 1940 when Isabelle “Bel”
Elliot receives a telegram notifying her that her husband, Teddy was killed in
action. Bel is devastated and does not
know how she will carry on without her husband.
Bel and Teddy have a little girl, Lucille (two and a half years old). Thankfully, they live with Teddy’s
family. Bel grew up with the Elliot
children: Teddy, Joe (his twin brother)
and Polly. Polly works as a welder at
the Sunderland shipyard along with Angie, Gloria, Dorothy, Martha, Hannah, and
Rosie. Soon after Teddy passes away, his
twin brother, Joe comes home. He
suffered a leg injury and can no longer serve in the war. Because Teddy and Joe are twins, Bel has
trouble with his presence in the household.
To make matters worse, Pearl, Bel’s estranged and unwanted mother, shows
up unexpectedly. Bel’s grief turns to
anger and she lashes out at everyone in the house. Polly is glad for the overtime in the
shipyard. It gets her out of the house
and away from the tense atmosphere. The
ladies at work are more than coworkers, they are close friends (a type of
family in a way). When Helen, the boss’s
daughter and interim manager, sets out to get rid of the group, they band together. Rosie has a secret that she cannot share with
the group and would ruin her life if it became common knowledge. But she cannot help but dream of a different future
when she starts going to tea with DS Peter Miller. Gloria worries about her expanding waistline
exposing her secret. She also lives in
fear that her husband, Vinnie will appear at home and start in on her with his
fists again. Hannah wants to help the
war effort, but her strength makes it difficult for her to do her share as a
welder. Each person has their trials,
but together they will make it through the war.
Shipyard Girls at War is an
engrossing novel. It has likeable (real
life) characters, and I appreciated the angle of females working in a shipyard. It is not something I have seen in the
numerous books that have been published over the last two years set during
World War II. Shipyard Girls at War is
the second book in the series and you really do need to read The Shipyard Girls
(first book in this series). Otherwise,
you will be a little lost in the beginning.
The author does an amazing job at capturing the time period and
locale. Her descriptive writing makes me
feel like I am in England during the war.
I cannot imagine being a welder on a ship. It sounds like a hard and difficult job. Plus, the ladies had to endure the males with
their catcalls, groping, pranks and insults. We are introduced to two new characters in
this book—Pearl and Joe. It was
interesting to find out more about Bel’s past and how she came to be involved
with the Elliott family. I give Shipyard Girls at War 4.5 out of 5 stars. There
are a couple of slow sections, but they are few. They are mostly the “thinking” areas as I
call them. It is when a character is
contemplating a subject for a long period of time (or feels like it). The story had a great ending, but readers are
left with some unanswered questions. Will
DS Miller keep pursuing Rosie? Did Jack
survive the downing of his ship? Can
Pearl change her ways? Will Tommy make
it through the war and home to Polly?
Unfortunately, we must wait until Secrets of the Shipyard Girls comes
out in September (09/21).
Single Malt Murder by Melinda Mullet is the first book in A Whiskey Business Mystery series. Abigail “Abi” Logan has returned to England
upon hearing about the death of her uncle, Bennett Logan. Abi is a photojournalist and was in Africa on
assignment when she received the call that he was dying. Ben suffered from lung cancer and the end
came quicker than expected. Abi heads to
Scotland with her friend, Patrick (associate editor for Wine and Spirits
Monthly) for Ben’s funeral and the reading of his will. Before leaving London, Abi receives a
threatening note. Someone is not happy
that Abi is inheriting Abbey Glen, Ben’s single malt whiskey distillery. About fifteen years prior, Ben retired and
sold Haven, his home. He relocated to
Balfour, Scotland where he renovated an old distillery and house for
himself. This is Abi’s first visit to
Ben’s home (she held a grudge with Ben for selling Haven). They arrive at Ben’s
home to find another warning (a very nasty one which I am not describing). Abi discovers that someone has also been
sabotaging the distillery. Abi and
Patrick decide to check on the distillery before retiring on the day of the
funeral (worried that someone would take advantage of the place being empty). They are in the Yeast Room and find a body in
a washback. It seems that the saboteur has
escalated to murder. Abi is planning on
selling Abbey Glen, but she cannot move forward with her plans until she finds
the person responsible. She does not believe the local police are up to the
task. But the locals do not appreciate
Abi’s presence and prefer to keep their secrets hidden. It will take all of Abi’s investigative
skills to uncover the offender and remain alive to see the wrongdoer brought to
Single Malt Murder contained an
interesting and complex mystery. A good sleuth
will be able to identify the wrongdoer if they pay close attention (one
sentence provided me with the identity).
The novel is easy to read (for the most part), but I did find the pace a
little slow at times. I had trouble
liking Abi. She is an acquired taste
(just like whiskey). I did like her approach
to investigating the crime, though, I quickly tired of her three words for each
person. I give Single Malt Murder 4 out
of 5 stars. The setting sounded
beautiful. I would love to visit the
area. The whiskey making process is
described in the book. It is complicated
and involves many steps (this is one area where the flow is slow). I do not drink so I was unaware of the
different types of whiskey. I believe
the book could have done with just a little more editing. I found it to be a little too long. I wish the author had not made the romance
element so prevalent. I did tire of Abi
admiring Grant’s appearance and personality as well as debating the merits of
getting involved with him. Single Malt Murder is a good first book and it will be interesting to see where the author
takes the series in the future. Death Distilled is the next book in the series. It will be released on September 5.
I am off to take my mother to a doctor's appointment. Wish me luck on actually getting her to leave the house. I might have to resort to bribery (I keep a stash of items hidden away for this purpose). I will reward myself with chocolates if I am successful. May you have a very special day. I will be reviewing Shipyard Girls at War by Nancy Revell tomorrow. Take care and Happy Reading!
The Avid Reader
Thank you for visiting on this fine Thursday. The Shipyard Girls at War by Nancy Revell is out today. It is the second book in the series. It takes place in England during World War II. We get to see how the war affected the woman left at home and how they helped the war.
The Hope Chest by Viola Shipman
is a story of hope and love. Madeline “Mattie”
Tice has ALS and can no longer stay in Hope Dunnes—her beloved lake house. Don, her husband, is moving them into a newly
built home that can accommodate her wheelchair.
The movers are bringing down one more item as Mattie takes one last look
around the house. It turns out to be the
hope chest given to her by her mother and father one Easter when she was a
little girl. Each item in the chest
holds a special meaning to Mattie. Don
is wore out from caring for his wife full-time and is hiring a caregiver. Rose Hoffs is applying for the position. She desperately needs a full-time job. She has been working part-time for There’s No
Place Like Home. Her boss feels that
Rose is the perfect fit for the job with the Tice’s. Rose has been raising her daughter, Jeri on
her own since her husband left her. Rose
is forced to bring Jeri with her to the interview. Mattie notices that Rose has a little girl in
the car and insists she bring her in.
Rose and Jeri entering Mattie and Don’s life is just what they
needed. They were both feeling hopeless
and lost (and so was Rose). We get to
find out about Mattie’s life through the items in her hope chest. The items hold precious memories. These items help bring Mattie, Don, Rose and
Jeri together as a family and provide hope for the future. Mattie may not be with them much longer, but
she is leaving behind a legacy of memories and a future for three important people
in her life. Join them in Saugatuck, Michigan
for a story of love, faith, courage, hopefulness along with a touch of sadness
in The Hope Chest.
The Hope Chest is a heartwarming
novel. It is nicely written and easy to
read. I was drawn into the story and my
attention was held throughout the book.
There were a couple of slow sections, but they were few. I like how as each item is revealed in the
hope chest, we are taken into the past.
We slowly see how Mattie’s life unfolded and how each item impacts the
present. I especially liked the Raggedy
Ann doll that was in the chest. It is an
emotional novel that will make you smile, laugh, and cry. I give The Hope Chest 4 out of 5 stars (I
liked it). The book shows you how
important it is to enjoy and savor each moment of your life. We are also
provided with a new type of family dynamic. I like the relationship drawn between hope and
home in the story. There is a little repetition
of information, but the book has a pleasing ending. The Christian element is just
right and the author did a superb job at portraying a person with ALS. ALS is a debilitating disease that affects the
body horribly, but leaves the person with their mind intact. The Hope Chest is my favorite book by Viola Shipman.
The Avid Reader
Salutations! I hope each of you are having a wonderful Wednesday. Shipyard Girls at War by Nancy Revell will be out tomorrow. It is the second book in the engaging series. The first book is The Shipyard Girls. I enjoy reading novels set in England in the late 1930s through the 1940s.
If Not for You is the latest
novel by author Debbie Macomber. It is the third book in the New Beginnings series. Beth Prudhomme
has moved from Chicago to Portland, Oregon to get out from her mother’s
thumb. Her mother, Ellie likes to
smother her and control all aspects of her life. Beth’s Aunt Sunshine, a famous artist, lives
in Portland providing Beth with support and love. Beth found a position at a local high school
as a music teacher and quickly made friends with Nichole Nyquist, a substitute
teacher. Nichole wishes to set up Beth
with Sam Carney, a friend of the family.
Sam is not like any other man Beth has ever dated. He has long hair, drives a big pick-up truck,
likes country music, and is a mechanic.
The evening is tense and the two leave quickly after dinner. Unfortunately, Beth ends up in an accident
when a teenage girl runs a red light (with a phone in her hand). Sam saw the accident and quickly rushes to
Beth’s aid. Beth suffers severe injuries
that will have her laid up for weeks.
Sam begins visiting Beth at the hospital and continues when she moves to
rehab. Sam is unsure about a
relationship, but he is unable to stay away.
When Beth’s mother, Ellie, blows into town she is quick to show her
displeasure in Sam. Matters are not
helped by the rift between Sunshine and Ellie.
Beth wants to mend the bridges between them and sets out to find what
caused their conflict. Then Beth decides to meddle in Sam’s past and he is
unappreciative. Is there a chance to a
happily ever after for Beth and Sam? Can
Beth make her mother understand that she wants to live her own life?
If Not for You is nicely written
and has a good pace. While If Not for You is part of the New Beginnings series,
it can be read alone. I felt that the
book was too long and the ending was abrupt (and predictable). I wish the author had devoted a little more time
to the conflict between Sunshine and Ellie.
It ended up being resolved very quickly.
It was nice to see the characters develop over the course of the
novel. I give If Not for You 3 out of 5
stars. It is a sweet story, but it
reminds me of every other romance novel on the market. The couple quickly fall in love, conflict
(and jealousy), break up, and then get back together. It was interesting to see such two-diverse
people come together. They do say that
opposites attract, and that is true in this book. Sam’s continual use of “babe” instead of Beth’s
name grated on my nerves. Do men think
that women enjoy being called “babe” or “baby”? Once they started dating, he never called her
by her given name. I found some
information to be repeated throughout the book which is unnecessary. The story
is told from Beth, Sam’s and Sunshine’s point-of-view. It changes with each chapter. I would have preferred the story being told
from the third person narrative. I did wonder what happened to the teenage girl
who caused the accident (maybe I missed it).
I went back and checked, but I
did not see where this matter was addressed.
Beth’s meddling was thoughtful, but not well thought out. I know she meant well, but her actions are reminiscent
of her mother. If Not for You is a
pleasant story, but it is forgettable. I
did not feel that this is Debbie Macomber’s best work (I prefer her Blossom Street series). I am sure, though, that fans of Debbie
Macomber will enjoy If Not for You.
The first two books in the New Beginnings series are Last One Home and A Girl's Guide to Moving On. I appreciate you reading my latest review. I am off to do chores around the house. I will return tomorrow to review The Hope Chest by Viola Shipman. Take care and Happy Reading!
The Avid Reader
Happy Tuesday and Book Release Day! Girl in Disguise is the second
book by Greer Macallister and it came out today. Her first novel is The Magician's Lie. Greer Macallister is on Amazon and Facebook. Follow her to get notifications
when she releases a new book.
Girl in Disguise by Greer Macallister is
based on the real life of the first female Pinkerton agent, Kate Warne.
It is 1856 in Chicago, Illinois and Kate Warne needs a job. She is a
widow with little in the way of funds. In response to an advertisement,
Kate arrives at the offices of the Pinkerton National Detective Agency.
Kate is interviewed by Allan Pinkerton who states that they do not hire
women. She asks him for an opportunity to prove her worth by solving a
case. If she can close the investigation, Kate will get a position.
Pinkerton agrees and gives her an opportunity to recover money stolen from
First Eagle Savings Bank. With a little assistance, Kate is successful
and gets her position as the first female Pinkerton agent. Unfortunately,
her fellow agents are not as welcoming as Allan Pinkerton. Kate sets out
to learn the skills she needs to be a successful agent and prove to the men
that she is an asset. We get to follow Kate as she learns her craft and
shows how valuable female agents can be to the agency. Kate is so
successful that Pinkerton needs to start a Female Bureau of Detectives, and he
wishes Kate to head it. This is a great opportunity for Kate, and she
embraces the challenge. With the outbreak of the Civil War, Kate feels
her services are more valuable in the field. Kate’s skills could prove vital to
the country during this time of upheaval. But life is not all rosy for
Kate. Pick up a copy of Girl in Disguise to find out what
happens to Kate Warne.
Girl in Disguise is a slow
starter, but it gets better the further I got into the story. The novel
is nicely written, and I did find it appealing. I wish, though, that the
author had focused on Kate’s joining the Pinkerton agency and maybe one or two
cases. Kate’s life would have made a great series. Each book could
have focused on a new case. The novel starts in 1856 and takes us through
the end of the Civil War. I was dissatisfied with the romance portion of
the book and how it affected Kate. It just did not seem to go with her
personality or behavior prior to this point. I give Girl in Disguise 4 out of 5
stars. The book, in a way, reminds me of a biography. But it lacked
the depth you would find in one. We do not get enough details on Kate and
her life as an agent. It is a superficial overview. I would have
loved more details especially when she first started out as an agent. It
is supposed to be a fictionalized account, so I wish the author had pushed it a
little further. The ending was a bit of a letdown. It would have
been nice if the author had included an epilogue showcasing the end of Kate
Warne’s life. I am interested in finding out more information about Kate
Warne and her life. I know that little information on Kate and her
activities survived the Chicago Fire of 1871, but I hope to find more details
than were available in Girl in Disguise. If you enjoy
reading historical novels, check out Girl in Disguise.
Fixin’ to Die by Tonya Kappes is
the first book in A Kenni Lowry Mystery series.
Kendrick “Kenni” Lowry is the sheriff in Cottonwood, Kentucky. Kenni was elected two years ago, after the
passing of her Poppa, Elmer Sims, who was the previous sheriff. Kenni has been lucky that there has been no
crime in Cottonwood since she took office (which is extremely odd even for a
small town). But Kenni’s luck has run
out. She is called out early to Dr.
Ronald Walton’s house (where he also had his office). Dr. Walton was found dead in his home by his
receptionist, Toots Buford (only in the South would you find someone with the
name of Toots). There is a strange
symbol on the doctor’s wrist. Later that
day White’s Jewelry store is robbed and the same symbol is on the wall. The two crimes seem to be connected. Kenni goes the grave of her Poppa (her grandfather)
and asks for his help since the townspeople are in an uproar. After that, Kenni starts hearing her Poppa’s
voice (she thinks it is in her head).
Then she actually sees him. At
first Kenni believes she is losing her mind, but Poppa soon convinces her that
he is real. Poppa is there to help
her. Kenni also gets help from the Kentucky
State Reserve in the form of Finn Vincent.
He is originally from Chicago (so he does not understand the ways of the
South-yet). Finn is assigned to help her
solve the two crimes. This is especially
helpful since Kenni’s deputy just retired, and her only other help is the
county jailer, Wyatt Granger. Kenni,
Finn, and Poppa set out to find the culprit behind the robbery and murder. Will they be able to find the culprit before
he commits another crime?
Fixin’ to Die is easy to read,
has a good flow, and I like the paranormal element. Kenni Lowry is an acquired taste. Her behavior is a wee bit over-the-top
(especially in the first half of the story).
Kenni goes around town doing her investigation and accusing the wrong
people (angering the citizens and losing their cooperation). Kenni does not read the reports provided to
her, question witnesses, or follow-up on forensic evidence (to make sure it
arrived and was processed). Kenni does
not actually solve the crime as stumble upon the killer accidentally
(technically, it is a win). Kenni is not
used to crime, and this is an adjustment period for her (and the town’s
citizens). I enjoyed Poppa. I found him to be funny and entertaining. I hope the author will enhance his role in
future novels in the series. I give
Fixin’ to Die 3.5 out of 5 stars. Ms.
Kappes did include a romantic element in the story. There is an attraction between Kenni and Finn
(she certainly likes to ogle his physique). It will be interesting to see how it
progresses. The author did include some
outlandish characters like the philandering town mayor and the spoiled,
pampered daughter of well-to-do parents.
The cozy element is very prevalent in Fixin’ to Die. Kenni has a busy social life, likes to jog, has
a dog, and enjoys a good card game. The
mystery was good, but I found it easy to solve (I wish the crime had been more
complicated). I could identify the
killer before I reached a hundred pages.
I appreciated the paranormal element in the form of Poppa’s ghost. It greatly enhanced Fixin’ to Die. Overall, Fixin’ to Die is a good first start
to a series. With a little tweaking this
could be an entertaining paranormal mystery series. I will be reading Southern Fried the next book
in A Kenni Lowry Mystery series which will be released on April 4 (and the Kindle version is only $2.99 on pre-order). Henery Press is currently hosting a giveaway on Goodreads for a copy of Southern Fried.
I appreciate you visiting. I am off to coax my mother to leave the house on an errand. I was unsuccessful last week. I am currently reading Shipyard Girls at War by Nancy Revell. I will return tomorrow when I review Girl in Disguise by Greer Macallister. Take care and Happy Reading!
The Avid Reader
It is the beginning of a new week! Weekends are a great time to relax and enjoy your favorite activities. I hope all of you have a great day!
Cruel Winter by Sheila Connolly
is the sixth book in A County Cork Mystery series. Maura Donovan owns Sullivan’s Pub in Leap,
Ireland. Maura inherited the pub from
Old Mick Sullivan nine months ago, after the death of her grandmother. This is Maura’s first winter is Ireland and
she is unprepared (she had originally only planned to spend a week in
Ireland). Maura heads to Sullivan’s to
check in with Mick Nolan, her bartender.
A big snow storm is expected to come through that night and Maura is
unsure what to do to prepare for it (she is from Boston where they have big
snowstorms frequently). It turns out
that other people do not want to stay home alone during the storm and decide to
visit the pub. One of pub’s patrons
turns out to be Diane Wolfe Caldwell.
Diane was questioned in the murder of her neighbor, Sharon Morgan twenty
years ago. In the court of public
opinion, Diane was found guilty. The
murder is still unsolved. Maura decides
that this is the perfect opportunity to hear Diane’s story and get some answers
(Maura wants to prove that Diane did not commit the crime).
Cruel Winter is nicely written
and can be read alone (the author provides the necessary background information
on Maura and how she ended up in Ireland).
I did, though, find the pace of the novel to be extremely slow. The story takes place over the course of one
day (a very long, drawn out day). I give
Cruel Winter 3 out of 5 stars. The
mystery is one that plays out over the course of the novel. Most readers will be able to figure out the
whodunit before the reveal. I did find
some elements of the story to be unrealistic.
Maura knew winter was coming, but she has no winter clothes (wouldn’t
you purchase some clothes if you did not bring them with you). Maura has been responsible for the pub for
nine months, but she has no clue how it is run.
I found it odd that after living in Boston, Maura has no idea on how to
prepare for a storm (making sure you have fuel, food, batteries, blankets,
water). There is some information that
is repeated throughout the novel (how Maura only planned to stay in Ireland one
week and facts about the murder). For
some reason, Maura felt it necessary to keep recapping the facts presented about
the murder. I found Cruel Winter to be
atypical for Sheila Connolly. I have
read her other cozy mysteries and enjoyed them.
In future books of A County Cork Mystery series I would like to see
Maura start to grow up and take responsibility.
In Cruel Winter, we do get to catch up with Jimmy, Rose, Mick, Gillian,
Harry, Sean, Eveline, and Old Billy. The other novels in A County Cork Mystery series are Buried in a Bog, Scandal in Skibbereen, An Early Wake, and A Turn for the Bad.
Thank you for visiting today and reading my latest review. I am currently reading Girl in Disguise by Greer Macallister. I will see you when I return tomorrow. Until then, take care and Happy Reading!
The Avid Reader