Friday, March 31, 2017

Tightening the Threads: A Mainely Needlepoint Mystery

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.  

Lea Wait also writes An Antique Print Mystery series.  You should get a sample of Shadows at the Fair which is the first book in the series.   I will see you tomorrow when I review Dying on the Vine by Marla Cooper. May each of you have a fantastic Friday.  I hope the day passes quickly for you.  Take care and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader

Thursday, March 30, 2017

When the Grits Hit the Fan: A Country Store Mystery

Good Morrow!  At one time "good morrow" and "good day" were considered the proper salutations to use before noon.   Today I am featuring the author of A Country Store Mystery series.  Maddie Day is a pseudonym for Edith Maxwell.  The first two books in this series are Flipped for Murder and Grilled for Murder.

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!

I am off to mop floors (a dreaded chore).  I hope each of you have a remarkable Thursday.  I will be featuring Tightening the Threads by Lea Wait tomorrow.  I am currently reading The Amish Widower by Virginia Smith.  Enjoy the sunshine, take care and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Cherry Cake and a Cadaver: A Lily Gayle Lambert Mystery

Welcome!  Can you believe it is Wednesday?  Cherry Cake and a Cadaver is the second book in A Lily Gayle Lambert Mystery series. The first book in the series is Death of a Wolfman.  Cherry Cake and a Cadaver will be out on March 31 and is available for pre-order on Amazon (as well as iTunes and Barnes and Noble). You can follow Susan Boles on Amazon and Facebook.

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

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Plain Missing: An Amish Mystery

Happy Book Release Day!  The Promise Girls by Marie Bostwick is out today along with Tightening the Threads by Lea Wait, and When the Grits Hit the Fan by Maddie Day.  I hope you find some new books to read today.

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!

I will be back tomorrow to review Cherry Cake and a Cadaver by Susan Boles.  May each of you have a very special day.  Take care and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader

Monday, March 27, 2017

Marrying Jonah: A Wells Landing novel

Greetings!  I wanted to mention a couple of books that will out this week. They include Preyed in Murder by Helen Gray (March 30), Shades of Pink by Gina LaManna (March 31), Coached in Murder by Helen Gray (March 30), Itsy-Bitsy Murder by Wendy Meadows (March 29), and Murder on Tap by Emily James (March 31).  All of the books are available for pre-order on Amazon.

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 seriesMarrying Jonah will be out on Tuesday, March 28.

The other novels in the series are Caroline's Secret, Courting Emily, Lorie's Heart, Just Plain Sadie, and Titus Returns.  I am off to take my mother to the neurologist.  I am bribing her with donuts (she has a sweet tooth), and I just love glazed donut holes.  I hope you have a beautiful Monday.  Take care and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader

Sunday, March 26, 2017

A Mother's Love: A new novel by Charlotte Hubbard

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

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Shipyard Girls at War: Shipyard Girls Series

Welcome.  I wanted to share with you the Amish fiction novels that are releasing on Tuesday, March 28.  They are Plain Missing by Emma Miller, Marrying Jonah by Amy Lillard, A Mother's Love by Charlotte Hubbard, and The Ebb Tide by Beverly Lewis.    

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).

If you do enjoy Nancy Revell's novels, I recommend the books by Donna Douglas and Ellie Dean.  I hope you have a pleasurable day. I am currently reading Marrying Jonah by Amy Lillard.  I will return on Sunday with a new book review.  Take care and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader

Friday, March 24, 2017

Single Malt Murder: A Whiskey Business Mystery

It's Friday once again.  The week just flew by so quickly.  On March 31, Susan Boles new novel Cherry Cake and a Cadaver will be released.  It is the second book in A Lily Gayle Lambert Mystery series.  The first book is Death of a Wolfman.  I hope you will take a moment and check out Cherry Cake and a Cadaver.

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 justice. 

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

Thursday, March 23, 2017

The Hope Chest by Viola Shipman

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. 

Other novels by Viola Shipman are The Charm Bracelet and Christmas Angels.  I hope you have a marvelous Thursday.  I will be reviewing Single Malt Murder by Melinda Mullet tomorrow. Take care and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

If Not For You by Debbie Macomber

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  

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Girl in Disguise by Greer Macallister

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.

If you use Goodreads, here is the link to Girl in Disguise.  Girl in Disguise is available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Books-a-Million, Indigo, and Powell's. I hope you have a beautiful Spring day.  We are actually enjoying a spring in Florida (very unusual for us).  I will be reviewing If Not For You by Debbie Macomber tomorrow.  Take care and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader

Monday, March 20, 2017

Fixin' to Die: A Kenni Lowry Mystery

Greetings!  Tomorrow a new batch of novels will be released.  Girl in Disguise by Greer Macallister, The Hope Chest by Viola Shipman, If Not for You by Debbie Macomber, A Knightbridge Scandal by Anita Davison, and Single Malt Murder by Melinda Mullet are a few of the releases.  I will be reviewing all of them over the next week.

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

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Cruel Winter: A County Cork Mystery

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 seriesMaura 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