Sunday, April 30, 2017

Dead Souls: D.I. Kim Stone Novel

Dead Souls by Angela Marsons is the sixth book in the D.I. Kim Stone series.  Doctor A is a forensic archaeologist who was conducting a training class when she uncovered a skull at Hayley Green.  She quickly halts the training and contacts the police.  D.I. Kim Stone arrives at the scene and discovers D.I. Tom Travis is there as well.  This location happens to be on the border of two police districts.  Kim is told by DCI Woodward (Woody) that it will be a joint investigation (inter-force collaboration).  Kim and Tom will have to work together.  Kim will have the challenge of working without her team.  Tom and Kim used to work together until “the incident” (which Kim refuses to discuss with anyone).  Tom has not spoken to Kim since then and she is unsure why.  Kim puts on a brave face and starts working the case.  Doctor A slowly uncovers the three bodies in the grave.  She is able to discern that the grave was not the original dump site.  Exploring the bones, Doctor A uncovers bullet holes, animal trap marking, and dog bites.  What horror did these three people incur?  Kim and Tom explore the relationship between the land owners and their renters.  It is obvious that they are both keeping secrets.  Will the identity of the victim’s lead them to the killer?  Meanwhile, Kim’s team is working on a series of hate crimes, and it causes tension between Bryant, Dawson, and Stacey Jones.  Stacey wants to prove that she is just as good as the others.  She can do more than use a computer and starts her own investigation.  Then one of Kim’s team members is in jeopardy, she uses all the resources available to resolve the crimes.  Can Kim and Tom find the perpetrators in time and bring Kim’s team member home safely?

Dead Souls is well-written and has a fast pace.  This book engages the reader’s attention from the first page and holds it until the very end.  Kim Stone is a complex and unique character.  We get to know a little more about her in each book and Kim’s character grows or develops a little more.  I appreciated finding out more about Stacey Jones in Dead Souls.  It was also interesting to see Bryant and Dawson work together (very entertaining).  The mysteries in Dead Souls are complex and convoluted (lots of twists).  There are many details and moving parts.  It all comes together in the end.  If you pay close attention, you can identify the main culprit before the reveal.  I give Dead Souls 5 out of 5 stars.  If you have not read any of the other D.I. Kim Stone novels, then I suggest you start at the beginning.   Otherwise, you will not understand Kim, how she works, her team, and the team dynamic.  Dead Souls deals with very sensitive and controversial issue.  The story dives into hate crimes (racism) and how people perceive each other.  It is hard to fathom disliking a person based on their race, sexual orientation, or disability.   It is disturbing what people will do in our society.  Dead Souls is an exceptional novel.  

The first five novels in the D.I. Kim Stone series are Silent Scream, Evil Games, Lost Girls, Play Dead and Blood Lines.  Each novel in this series is better than previous one!  I am off to relax and enjoy the day.   I will be reviewing The Hidden Thread by Liz Trenow on Monday.  May each of you have a lovely day.  Take care and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader

Saturday, April 29, 2017

No Charm Intended: A Cora Crafts Mystery

Salutations this hot Saturday!  Temperatures have soared into the 90s.   Mollie Cox Bryan has written A Cumberland Creek Mystery series and A Cora Crafts Mystery series.  The first book in A Cora Crafts Mystery series is Death Among the Doilies and is currently $1.99 on Amazon (for Kindle edition).  

No Charm Intended by Mollie Cox Bryan is the second book in A Cora Crafts Mystery series.  Cora Chevalier is getting ready for her four day “wildcrafting” retreat at Kildare House in Indigo Gap, North Carolina.  She checks her phone and discovers a message stating “I kidnapped her”.  Believing it to be a prank, Cora ignores it.  Just as Cora, Jane and the retreat instructors are leaving for dinner, Officer Glass arrives to discuss Cora’s text message. It seems that Cora was not the only person to receive it.  It turns out that Gracie Wyck, a nanny and babysitter, is missing (they suspect kidnapped).  Later that evening, Cora and Jane receive a visit from Gracie’s boyfriend, Paul and his friend, Henry.  They are trying to retrace Gracie’s footsteps in an attempt to locate her.  The next day Paul’s friend, Henry is missing. Cora fears Paul could be next and offers him a place to stay.  When Henry turns up dead, and Paul becomes a person of interest.  Cora believes Paul to be innocent and starts investigating to prove it.  It turns out that Paul, Gracie and Henry were all playing the same computer game. Did someone decide to change the rules of the game?  Can Cora and friends find Gracie in time?

No Charm Intended was not as enchanting as I was hoping.  I enjoy crafting and love to read cozy mysteries, so No Charm Intended seemed like a perfect match for me.  I did like the various crafts mentioned in the book, and I was glad instructions were provided at the end of the book on some of them.  However, I found the mystery uncomplicated and easily solved early in the book.  Some information was repeated frequently throughout the story (like the author needed filler).  No Charm Intended can be read alone.  The author provided the background details on the main character and summarized what occurred in the first book in this series.  I did appreciate how the author included characters from her A Cumberland Creek Mystery series.  I give No Charm Intended 2 out of 5 stars.  I found a few items in the story hard to believe.  Cora letting Paul stay in the house with the retreat guests (and he is a murder suspect).  If I was a guest, this would make me uncomfortable.  Jane talks about Gracie’s kidnapping in front of her five-year-old daughter, London (more than once).  London then makes herself ill and begins having nightmares because she is scared.  I was surprised by how the issue of depression was portrayed in No Charm Intended.  Mollie Cox Bryan made it sound like a mental illness and people with the disease are unreliable (crazy, unbalanced).  Jane becomes worried that harm could have come to her daughter because the babysitter suffered from depression.  She felt she should have been warned (because she would not have hired the woman).  Depression comes in many forms (including hereditary) and can easily be managed with medication.  Most of the book is written in the third person, but Jane’s sections were in the first person.  I did not enjoy reading Jane’s segments and quickly tried of her issues (regarding her ex-husband in particular).  Jane is my least favorite person among the main characters.  I am not sure I can continue with A Cora Crafts Mystery seriesMacrame Murder is the next book in this series and it will be available on August 29.

I appreciate you taking the time out of your day to read my review. I will be reviewing Dead Souls by Angela Marsons on Sunday.  I hope you have a fun filled day!  Take care and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader

Friday, April 28, 2017

A Good Day to Buy: A Sarah Winston Garage Sale Mystery

It's Friday!  Congrats on making it through another week.  Dead Souls by Angela Marsons it out today.  It is a wonderful and complex novel that I thoroughly loved reading!  Angela Marsons did it again.  She never fails to deliver.  If you enjoy suspense/thriller novels, you really should look into Angela Marsons D.I. Kim Stone novels.

A Good Day to Buy by Sherry Harris is the fourth book in A Sarah Winston Garage Sale Mystery series.  Sarah Winston is helping Verne and Velma Spencer downsize their collections for a move to Florida.  Today is garage sale day, and Velma keeps trying to reclaim items.  Her husband, Verne takes her inside, and Sarah gets ready to bargain.  Later in the morning, a customer attempts to enter an off-limits area in the garage that Sarah has cordoned off with sheets.  Behind the sheets, Sarah discovers the couple on the floor.   Verne is dead, but Velma still has a pulse.  Through the back door of the garage, Sarah sees a man fleeing into the woods.  After giving her statement to the police, Sarah is home enjoying a Fluffernutter sandwich (marshmallow Fluff and peanut butter) when there is a knock at the door.  It is Sarah’s estranged brother, Luke who is twitchy and acting cagey.  He needs a place to stay and asks Sarah not to tell anyone that he is there especially C.J. (Chief of Police and Sarah’s ex-husband/current paramour).  Luke tells Sarah that he is an investigative reporter working on a story.  Luke stays a short time, but he is soon gone without a word.  When Luke’s fingerprints turn up in the Spencer’s garage and he becomes a “person of interest”, Sarah knows she must take action.  Sarah finds a notebook of Luke’s in the couch that contains a list of names.  Sarah hopes that Luke’s research will lead her to him.  She knows her brother did not hurt the Spencer’s.  Now, she has to prove it and then explain her deception to C.J.  Sarah will need to stay alert and on her toes, because she is not the only person trying to find Luke!

A Good Day to Buy is nicely written and has a good pace (and flow).  A Good Day to Buy can be read alone.  The needed background information on Sarah is provided in the book (and she has a complicated history).  There are some wonderful descriptions of antiques in the book.  I love vintage items and there are several objects described that I want to own.  I give A Good Day to Buy 4 out of 5 stars.   I am not a fan of the romance in this series.  I was very disappointed to see Sarah take up with her ex-husband again (I preferred her with Seth).  He strikes me as a self-centered individual, and he does not seem happy with the new Sarah (who she has become since the divorce).  I believe Sarah is with him because it is comfortable, easy, and familiar.  It will be interesting to see what happens between C.J. and Sarah in the next book.  The murder mystery was complex and a delight to solve.  I believe many readers will be stumped by this one.  The secondary storyline regarding veterans was shocking (spoiler).  There are some handy garage sale tips at the end of the book.  I enjoyed A Good Day to Buy better than the previous book in the series.  I was especially grateful that Ms. Harris cut down on the Fluffernutter sandwich references (makes me queasy just thinking about them).  I was surprised by the cliffhanger ending (and disappointed).  I hope the author will resolve the issue early in the next book and not drag it out (sorry, but I do not want to spoil it for anyone).  Tagged for Death ($2.99 on Amazon--Kindle), The Longest Yard Sale ($1.99 on Amazon--Kindle), and All Murders Final! are the first three books in the series. 

Thank you for your visit and I hope you have a great Friday.  I will be sharing my thoughts on No Charm Intended by Mollie Cox Bryan on Saturday.  I have to go put a new cat play center together. The cats have destroyed their last one (they have had it for a year). Cats love climbing and sharpening their nails!  Take care and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader  

Thursday, April 27, 2017

The Beloved Hope Chest: An Amish Heirloom Novel

Hello!  I want to thank everyone who enter What the Bishop Saw Contest. I put all the names in a hat box and had my mother draw out the winning slip.  The winner is Paula. Congratulations! The Hidden Thread by Liz Trenow will be out on May 1. Liz Trenow is the author of The Forgotten Seamstress.  Love and Death in Burgundy by Susan C. Shea and Your Killin' Heart by Peggy O'Neal Peden will be released on May 2.  So many books and not enough reading time!  

The Beloved Hope Chest by Amy Clipston is the fourth book in An Amish Heirloom Novel series.  Mattie Fisher’s daughters have slowly uncovered clues to her secret as they delved into her hope chest.  Mattie gathers Veronica, Rachel, and Emily and starts sharing the story that has she kept hidden for twenty-eight years.  It takes her back to February of 1989 to a life she had before she met their father, Leroy.  It is an emotional tale that brings back many memories and reminds her of a sad period in her life.  Pull up a chair to Mattie Fisher’s table and listen to her story in The Beloved Hope Chest.

The Beloved Hope Chest is a well-written novel that ties all the threads together from the previous three books.  Readers find out how the items the daughters found in the hope chest fit into Mattie’s journey.  The novel had a good pace, great characters, and a picturesque setting.  I sat down to read The Beloved Hope Chest and was quickly drawn into the story.  I did not stop reading until I finished the book (I was up quite late that night).  I give The Beloved Hope Chest 5 out of 5 stars.  Important issues addressed in The Beloved Hope Chest are love, faith, trusting God, forgiveness, power of prayer, and the importance of communication between couples.  The Beloved Hope Chest is not a stand-alone novel.  You need to read The Forgotten Recipe, The Courtship Basket, and The Cherished Quilt prior to The Beloved Hope Chest.  It is the only way you will understand what is happening in this final book in An Amish Heirloom Novel series.  While reading The Beloved Hope Chest, your emotions will be on a roller coaster.  I found some parts of the story to be heartbreaking.  The ending is touching.  I provided only a brief summary of the book so I would not reveal any spoilers.  I hope others will enjoy The Beloved Hope Chest as much as I did.  The Beloved Hope Chest will be available on May 9.

I hope you enjoyed my review.  I am catching up on book review work today (which means sitting at a desk, posting reviews, and copying links).  I will return on Friday with my thoughts on A Good Day to Buy by Sherry Harris.  I hope all of you have a lovely day.  Take care and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Trumpet of Death: A Martha's Vineyard Mystery

Welcome!  Dead Souls by Angela Marsons will be released on April 28. It is the sixth book in the D.I. Kim Stone series.  If you like to read thrilling crime novels, then I highly recommend this series. I have loved each and every book in this series.  Kim Stone is one character you will not forget.

Trumpet of Death by Cynthia Riggs is the thirteenth book in A Martha’s Vineyard Mystery series.  It is September in West Tisbury and Victoria Trumbell is enjoying a nature walk in Sachem’s Rock with her tenant, Zach Zeller.  Victoria points out various mushrooms to him including the black trumpets which are very rare and expensive (aka trumpets of death).  Later that day, Zach visits his troublesome girlfriend, Samantha Eberhardt to break up with her.  Unfortunately for Zach, it does not go well.  Zach remembers the black trumpet mushrooms, picks them, and delivers them to Samantha.  Samantha, who is not fond of mushrooms, gives them to her father, Bruno Eberhardt.  Bruno is thrilled with the delicacy and plans a dinner party around them.  Zach is invited to the party and is shocked to see black mushrooms on the menu.  Zach ends up fleeing the party.  Victoria and her young friend, Robin are walking to the softball field when they discover a body on the bicycle trail.  The police discover it is Samantha Eberhardt, and Zach ends up a prime suspect.  Despite Zach trying to make Samantha sick with the mushrooms, Victoria knows that Zach would not commit murder.  Victoria sets out to find the real killer and prove Zach’s innocence.  Can Victoria find the murderer before he claims another victim?

Trumpet of Death has a fascinating main character.  Victoria is ninety-two years old and seems to know everyone in her town.  She is a feisty, intelligent, and quite active for someone her age.  Trumpet of Death has good writing and a nice pace.  There is some humor in the book (just the right amount and right type) that will have readers laughing.  I enjoyed the descriptions of the town.  I give Trumpet of Death 4 out of 5 stars.  I appreciated the mysteries complexity (such a rarity in cozy mysteries).  I believe many readers will be surprised at the culprit’s identity.  I did find some information repeated a few times throughout the book (such as peoples full names, where they worked, and their occupation).  I thought Zach was lacking in intelligence.  For someone his age, he seems very dense (maybe it was the drugs).  I would recommend reading earlier books in A Martha’s Vineyard Mystery series (at least the first book) before Trumpet of Death.  It would give you a better understanding of Victoria and the town dynamics.  I thought the book had a good ending that wrapped up all the loose ends. Trumpet of Death is a book that many cozy mystery readers will appreciate.  Trumpet of Death is available in hardcover and ebook.

Thank you for reading my latest book evaluation. I will be reviewing The Beloved Hope Chest by Amy Clipston tomorrow.  I am off to take my mother to the beauty salon. I hope you have a very nice day.  Take care and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Sweet Tea and Spirits: The Southern Ghost Hunter Mysteries

Sweet Tea and Spirits by Angie Fox is the fifth book in The Southern Ghost Hunter Mysteries.  Verity Long is enjoying a quiet moment with her boyfriend, Ellis Wydell when she receives a phone call.  The call is from the Sugarland Heritage Society and the caller says, “I need you” and “There’s been a murder”.  Ellis is then dispatched to investigate a break in at the same location.  He finds the building locked up tight, but the security alarm was set off.  Verity becomes the laughingstock of the town when no body was found (gossip spreads quickly in Sugarland).  Verity talks Frankie into loaning her his power (after some bartering), and they set off to explore the heritage society.  The heritage society building was once a Home for Wayward Widows and Orphans run by Mother Mary Cooper.  Verity is greeted by Julia Harper Youngblood, the newly elected president of the Sugarland Heritage Society.  She recently ousted Verity’s arch nemesis, Virginia Wydell (happy dance for Verity).  It is immediately obvious that ghosts are on the premises, and they are having fun with the society’s displays.  Julia hires Verity to explore the spirit activity and pays her in cash (which puts Frankie in a jovial mood).  As Verity is leaving the heritage society, she gets roped into becoming a member.  Frankie has gotten himself into hot water with Mick “The Angel Maker”, and he needs to go on the lam (Verity finds the perfect spot for him).  Verity returns to the heritage society that night to talk to the ghosts who inhabit the house and finds Julia dead at the bottom of the stairs.  While the officer on scene believes it is an accident, Verity knows she was murdered.  Verity wants to find Julia’s killer, and she will need a little ghostly help to accomplish it.  Verity is surprised when she gets some assistance from an unexpected source.  In her spare time, Verity needs to get Mick “The Angel Maker” to forgive Frankie and find out why Frankie is looking so spiffy (and acting strangely).  Just another normal week for Verity in Sugarland, Tennessee.  Join in on the fun by reading Sweet Tea and Spirits!

Sweet Tea and Spirits is a humorous novel.  You will find yourself laughing frequently at Verity and Frankie’s antics.  The book is well-written and engaging.  The characters are endearing and quirky (especially Frankie).    I highly recommend reading the other books in the series before starting Sweet Tea and Spirits.  It will help you to understand Verity’s financial situation, her relationship with Frankie, and why she became a ghost hunter.  I have found each book in the series is better than the previous one.  I give Sweet Tea and Spirits 5 out of 5 stars.  Sweet Tea and Spirits is jam packed, but it all ties together for one hilarious and sweet story.  There is an unexpected romance, ghostly horse racing (and gambling), an unexpected alliance, and a historical home with a surprising history.  The mystery is more complicated than past whodunits in the series, but it is still easily solved.  It is nice to see Verity’s character develop as she explores the supernatural and as her relationship with Ellis deepens.  It was also nice to see change in Frankie.  It was unexpected and amusing.  I will impatiently wait for Angie Fox’s next book in The Southern Ghost Hunter Mysteries.  The other books in the series are Southern Spirits (free on Amazon), The Skeleton in the Closet, The Haunted Heist, and Deader Homes and Gardens.

I appreciate your visit today!  I am off to do some yard work while we are enjoying some cooler weather.   I will return tomorrow to review Trumpet of Death by Cynthia Riggs.  I hope you have a remarkable day!  Take care and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader  

Monday, April 24, 2017

Rachel's Dream: Hope Chest of Dreams

Greetings!  Wendy Wax has a new novel coming out tomorrow.  It is the fifth book in Ten Beach Road Novel series and called One Good Thing.  I have added it to my TBR pile.  I am curious to see what happens in the series.

Rachel’s Dream by Lisa Jones Baker is the third book in Hope Chest of Dreams series.  Rachel Kauffmann is eighteen years old, and her hope chest contains her journal with her secret dreams for her life.  Rachel loves the family horse Cinnamon and is worried about her.  Her father calls out the new vet Dr. Jarred Zimmerman.  Jarred is instantly attracted to Rachel’s sweet, caring nature and glass half full attitude.  Rachel appreciates Jarred’s love for animals and his caring personality.  Cinnamon is very ill and Rachel prays for his recovery.  She is grateful for Jarred doing everything possible to save the horse.  Rachel and Jarred get to know each other when Jarred visits to check on Cinnamon.  Rachel learns that Jarred has not gotten over a tragic incident when he way four years old.  It forever changed Jarred.  Rachel encourages him to contact his parents to resolve the matter.  Jarred is amazed at Grace’s faith and optimism.  The pair are quickly falling for each other, but the path to happiness is not a smooth one.  If they are to have a future together, God will show them the way. 

Rachel’s Dream is easy to read and ties in nicely with the other two books in the series.  I had trouble with the character of Rachel.  She is eighteen, but Rachel comes across as a starry eyed young teenager (a young idealistic twelve or thirteen-year-old girl).  I found the romance between Rachel who seems so na├»ve and young having a romance with a man in his late 20s or early 30s (I am guessing since Jarred’s age is not mentioned) was off-putting.  Rachel wants her horse to get better no matter what.  I can understand having faith and praying for a miracle, but not letting a horse suffer for months (I dislike seeing animals hurting and in pain).  I wish there were more miracles in the world, but it is hard to keep the faith with all the violence in our society.  I also doubt a practical farmer would keep paying vets bills for that length of time.  Rachel’s strong faith and belief in miracles is a lovely trait.  I wish I had such strong convictions.  Rachel also knew what she wanted from life, and she was very unwilling to compromise.  Rachel’s dreams mostly involve getting married and having a houseful of children (which she mentions many times throughout the book).  Of course, this does go with the Amish society as it is portrayed in novels (nevertheless, it really goes against my feminine beliefs).  It once again showcases Rachel’s youthfulness.   The religious aspect was medium level with the focus on prayer (also mentioned are faith and God’s plan for our lives).  I give Rachel’s Dream 2 out of 5 stars (I just found it lacking).  I found the storyline or plot to be flimsy (weak) and unrealistic.  Jarred talks about joining the Amish faith, but the practicalities of this decision are not discussed (would he be allowed to keep his practice for example).  I did find repetition of information throughout the story (the same details were repeated over and over).  It seemed like filler to lengthen the length of the book.  Rachel’s Dream is my least favorite book in the series.  I think Rachel’s Dream would do better with a younger audience (it reminds me of books I read as a young teen). While Rachel's Dream is the third book in the series, it can be read as a stand-alone.  Rachel's Dream will be released on April 25.

Thank you for reading through my review.  I know it was a little longer today.  I will be sharing my thoughts on Sweet Tea and Spirits by Angie Fox tomorrow.  May you have a marvelous Monday.  Take care and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader

Sunday, April 23, 2017

The Librarians and the Mother Goose Chase

Welcome fellow readers!  I hope you are having a nice, relaxing Sunday.  Amy Clipston has a new novel releasing on May 9.  It is The Beloved Hope Chest which is the fourth book in An Amish Heirloom series.   It is a lovely story that nicely wraps up the series.

The Librarians and the Mother Goose Chase by Greg Cox is the second book in The Librarians trilogy.  Eve Baird along with Cassandra Cillian, Jake Stone, and Ezekiel Jones have just returned to the Library annex in Portland, Oregon after another successful mission.  They are all off to relax when the Clippings Book (and the Librarians miniature versions) start acting up.  A professor in Northumberland wakes up inside a pumpkin, a tree trimmer in Miami gets carried away by a freaky wind, a librarian in Ohio found three mice without eyes in her kitchen (and she attacked them with a butcher knife), and Mother Goose’s Magic Garden, an amusement park, is about to be demolished.  Jenkins believes that the 1918 Mother Goose Treaty has been broken.  In the 1700s Elizabeth Goose created a spellbook that ended up getting published.  The Librarian at that time rounded up all the copies except one which remained with the family.  It ended up getting divided into three sections for the three different factions of the Goose family in 1918.  It seems that a descendant has decided to stage a coup and claim all three copies to enact a horrible spell.  Stone, Cassandra, and Ezekiel each take a different clipping and set off.  Eve and Jenkins have their hands full in the Library.  Mother Goose’s magic has set off the goose that lays the golden egg.  They need to catch it and return it to its cage before more magical items start acting up.  Just another typical day for the Librarians and their Guardian!  Join Eve, Ezekiel, Stone, Jenkins and Cassandra on another magical adventure in The Librarians and the Mother Goose Chase.

The Librarians and the Mother Goose Chase is bewitching.  Greg Cox captured the quirky character’s personalities perfectly (for those of you who watch the show) as well as the Library.  I could just envision the Library from the written descriptions.  I found the book to be well-written, engaging, and entertaining.  I thoroughly enjoyed the humor in this story.  I found myself laughing out loud many times while reading The Librarians and the Mother Goose Chase (especially when Jenkins was trying to capture the goose and Eve with Dead Man’s Chest).  The book has a fast pace that never slacks.  The description of Mother Goose was spot on from the children’s books.  I give The Librarians and the Mother Goose Chase 5 out of 5 stars.  I do wish, though, that the mystery had not been so easy to solve.  One clue was all I needed to identify the responsible party.  Others not used to reading mysteries, will enjoy the twist! The book is written with four points-of-view (Cassandra, Stone, Ezekiel, and Eve) which works for this book.  It is not confusing or complicated.  If you have not watched the show or the movies, you can read the book.   The author provides the backstory needed.  I think it does help, though, to have watched the show.  As I read the book, I could picture it in my head.  I have not had the opportunity to read The Librarians and The Lost Lamp (first book in trilogy), but I have moved it to the top of my TBR pile.  The Librarians and the Mother Goose Chase will be available on April 25.

I am off to read (this will be by second attempt) The Witchfinder's Sister by Beth Underdown.  It sounded like a good book, but it is very slow paced (I believe grass grows faster).  I will be back tomorrow when I will share my review of Rachel's Dream by Lisa Jones Baker.  Take care and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Murder is for Keeps: A Penny Brannigan Mystery

Greetings!  I hope everyone is having a pleasing Saturday. Trumpet of Death by Cynthia Riggs will be out on Tuesday, April 25.  It is the thirteenth book in A Martha's Vineyard Mystery series.  You can pre-order it on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and iBooks.

Murder is for Keeps by Elizabeth J. Duncan is the eighth book in A Penny Brannigan Mystery series.  Penny Brannigan is sketching at Gwrych Castle in Llanelen, North Wales.  She is working on a series of painting for an upcoming auction to raise funds to help restore Gwrych Castle and the grounds.  Penny is preparing to leave for the day when she notices a flash of red.  Penny follows the trail into the old kennels where she finds a body.  The victim turns out to be John Hardwick, a landscape architect, who was volunteering at the castle.  The next day Penny is at The Llanelen Spa that she co-owns with Victoria Hopkirk, when she is approached by Christina Hardwick, John’s wife.  Christina has heard of Penny’s reputation as an amateur sleuth and would like to hire Penny to investigate John’s death.  Penny with the help of recently retired, Gareth Davies (former Detective Chief Inspector) starts asking questions.  Gareth can provide some background details on the castle.  His grandmother, Annie worked at the castle as a seamstress, and he has a box of photos and a beautiful needlepoint.  When they return to the castle they meet Lane Hardwick, the victim’s son.  Not long after speaking with Lane, he disappears.  Then another body is found in the gardens at Gwrych Castle.  This victim has been dead for over ninety years.  Penny discovers that the castle has a colorful history and looking into the past will help solve the mystery of John’s death.  Join Penny on her latest sleuthing adventure in Murder is For Keeps.

I thought Murder is for Keeps to be nicely written.  It has a good pace and can be finished in a couple of hours.   The location is unique, and I appreciated the pleasing descriptions of the area.  I do wish the author would provide a pronunciation guide (for people’s names and locations).  Murder is for Keeps may be the eighth book in the series, but it can be read alone.  The author provides the necessary background details on Penny.  I like the character of Penny Brannigan and her friends.  I give Murder is for Keeps 3.5 out of 5 stars.  The various mystery components are interesting, and I like how the author tied them together.  I just wish, though, that the identity of the killer had not been so transparent (nor the location of the missing marble staircase).  Murder is for Keeps is a cozy mystery that I believe many readers will enjoy.  It has just the right blend of mystery and cozy (with a subtle romance element). Murder is for Keeps will be released on May 2.

Thank you for your visit.  I am off to do some much needed clearing out. It is always good to go through and get rid of unneeded items.  If we have not used it in a year, then out it goes (this does not include books)! I will be back tomorrow to review The Librarians and the Mother Goose Chase by Greg Cox.  May you have a pleasant and uneventful day! Take care and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader

Friday, April 21, 2017

Upon a Spring Breeze: An Every Amish Season Novel

It's Friday!  Sweet Tea and Spirits by Angie Fox will be published on Tuesday, April 25.  It is the fifth book The Southern Ghost Hunter Mysteries.  It is a delightful and humorous paranormal mystery series. It is not yet listed on Amazon for pre-order (it gets listed close to the release date).  If you enjoy reading paranormal books, take a moment to check out The Southern Ghost Hunter Mysteries.

Upon A Spring Breeze by Kelly Irvin is first book in An Every Amish Season Novel series.  Bess Weaver is twenty years old and has been married for a year to Caleb.  Bess is pregnant with their first child.  They have been living with Caleb’s parents while Caleb builds their home.  Bess is waiting for Caleb to return home after spending the day helping his best friend, Aidan Graber.  Bess hears the door and expects Caleb to come walking through it.   Instead, it is Aidan with a troubled, distraught expression on his face.  A truck hit Caleb’s buggy on the slick roads and Caleb died in Aidan’s arms.  Bess cannot believe she lost her husband so soon and is struck down with grief.  Bess’ parents arrive from Haven, Kansas for the funeral.  They want Bess to return with them, but Bess does not wish to leave Jamesport, Missouri.  Aidan feels that the accident is his fault because Caleb had run an errand for him.  Aidan cares for Bess (has for many years), and he promised Caleb he would watch out for her.  Bess gives birth to a boy that she names Joshua.  Weeks later Bess is at the local nursery purchasing flowers when she meets Dusty Lake.  He is a friendly, knowledgeable employee, and he actually makes Bess laugh (first time since Caleb’s death).  Bess decides to get a job.  A few days later, Bess is applying for a position at the Heartland Bed and Breakfast.  The new owners are Minerva and Gavin Lake, Dusty’s parents.  But some people do not approve of Bess’ job or her new friend.  Bess’ fate is no longer her own thanks to Bishop Freeman. Bess will be leaving town unless someone finds a good reason for her to stay in Jamesport!

Upon A Spring Breeze is nicely written, has a good pace, and a good storyline.  The religious aspect is light to medium.  Emphasis is placed on having faith and the power of prayer.  The setting of Jamesport, Missouri sounds lovely, and I did appreciate the main characters (especially Bess).  I could understand Bess’ grief having lost my own father recently.  The overwhelming feeling of grief does not go away overnight.  On top of that, Bess had a new and very fussy baby.  Her hormones and emotions are all over the place.  I felt that her family and friends should have been more understanding and patient (instead of critical).   I give Upon a Spring Breeze 3 out of 5 stars.  I had trouble with the male authority figures in the story.  I could never live in such a male dominated society.  I could not believe that Bess did not get to decide the fate of the farmland she owned with Caleb.  When she made a male friend, it was considered inappropriate.  She was forced to give up her job (a woman’s place is in the home and not near eligible Englisch men).  I could not believe that the Bishop wrote to her father regarding her “behavior” (Bess is a widow with a child).  The Bishop would not allow Aidan to accept the government assistance allowed for the loss of his chickens.  How is he supposed to restart his business?  I cannot help but wonder if this is how it truly is in the Amish culture.  I sincerely hope not (can you tell this book riled me up).  The ending was sweet, but it was expected.  I did not enjoy Upon A Spring Breeze as much as other books I have read by Kelly Irvin (for example The Bliss Creek Amish series and The New Hope Amish series).

I appreciate you visiting today and reading my latest book review. I will be sharing my thoughts on Murder is For Keeps by Elizabeth J. Duncan tomorrow.  May you have a cheery Friday!  Take care and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader

Thursday, April 20, 2017

What the Bishop Saw: The Amish Bishop Mysteries

Thank you for stopping by today.  Do you watch The Librarians on TNT? If so, I highly recommend the two books based on the television series. The first book is The Librarians and the Lost Lamp. The second book is The Librarians and the Mother Goose Chase.  It will be out on April 25 (it is wonderful).  

What the Bishop Saw by Vannetta Chapman is the first book in The Amish Bishop Mysteries.  Bishop Henry Lapp lives in San Luis Valley, Colorado.  Henry is awakened with news of a fire at nearby Vernon Frey’s house.  When Henry arrives at the scene, he finds out that Vernon did not survive.  It is disturbing to find out that the fire was set deliberately.  Henry is asked to write a list of people who might have wished to harm Vernon.  Within days a second fire breaks out at a construction site in town.   Sam Beiler spots the fire and calls 911.  Turns out that Sam also called in Vernon’s fire.   Sam is soon arrested for arson and the murder of Vernon.  Henry visited Vernon the day before the fire, and he has a gift that could assist the investigators.  Henry has not used his talent in fifteen years.  But it seems the time has come to use his God given gift once again.  It could provide a helpful clue that will lead to the arsonist.  Unfortunately, the fire bug is not finished and Henry’s workshop becomes the next target.  Meg Allen, the arson investigator, works with Henry and the Amish community to ferret out clues.  Will they be able to identify the arsonists before he claims more victims?

What the Bishop Saw is well-written and is easy to read.  The book has a good pace.  The story has engaging characters.  My favorite are Henry Lapp and Emma Fisher.  They are adorable and nicely complement each other. They both have loving hearts and you can tell how much Henry cares for the people in his community.  It was good to see growth in the characters by the end of the book.  I loved the subtle, slow paced romance between Henry and Emma.  I appreciated the author’s unique setting.  I have not read an Amish novel set in Colorado previously.  I found the scripture and prayer quotient to be medium level (it goes well with the book).  I give What the Bishop Saw 4 out of 5 stars.  The mystery was interesting, though, readers can easily identify the culprit based on the clues.  There is a little suspense near the end that will have readers on the edge of their seats.  I did feel that the book was a little long and some information was repeated.  I liked the epilogue.  It was a good ending to the story.  What the Bishop Saw is the beginning of a delightful series.  What the Bishop Saw is currently available in Kindle format and will be out on May 1 in paperback.

Would you like to win a copy of What the Bishop Saw?  Vannetta Chapman was kind enough to offer a copy for a giveaway!  Leave a comment along with your email to win!  I will pick a winner on April 25!  UPDATE:  The contest is now over!  Thank you for entering!  I am off to run the sweeper and dust.  When you have dogs and cats, sweeping is a constant household chore!  I will be back on Friday to review Upon a Spring Breeze by Kelly Irvin. May each of you have a lovely Thursday.  Take care and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Appetite for Innocence: A Dark Psychological Thriller

Welcome!  I am featuring Lucinda Berry today.  You can follow this author on Facebook and Amazon.  Amazon will send you an email when she releases a new book.  Ms. Berry's other novels are Phantom Limb and Missing Parts.  All three of the books are available on Kindle Unlimited (great program).  

Appetite for Innocence by Lucinda Berry is a new psychological thriller.  Ella Stevenson was out on her evening run when he captured her.  She knows better than to talk to strange men, but she did it anyway.  Now she must find a way to escape.  Sarah is responsible for the new girls.  She helps them adjust to being prisoners in the basement (in a way).  Paige is a fellow prisoner and soon fills Ella in on why she was picked.  Their captor only wants young female virgins.  But how does he know?  Ella soon discovers that it is impossible to escape the soundproofed basement.  But she does discover that there is one way to escape, but she must bide her time.  One night her patience is rewarded and Ella flees.  Police soon arrive at the compound, but only two of the girls make it out alive.  Ella is thrilled to be reunited with her mother.  The FBI are assigned the case and have many questions for Sarah and Ella.  Their abductor has alluded the authorities and the house is destroyed.  The authorities will need every bit of information they can obtain from the girls to catch the man responsible.   Just when life starts getting back on track, something unexpected happens.

Appetite for Innocence has a fast pace and contains good writing.  I thought the characters were well developed.  They girls reminded me of real teenage girls.  Appetite for Innocence is a creepy novel with graphic details (fair warning).  It is hard to read what it happening to the girls in the book (I had to keep reminding myself that it is fiction).  I did not, though, feel the suspense (I did feel the eeriness and the creep factor).  The way it was presented made it seem more matter of fact than spine tingling (at least for me).  Appetite for Innocence captured my interest and it was held through most of the novel (you will want to see what happens next).  The reason my attention was not captured completely is the book jumps between Sarah and Ella along with past and present.  A reader must note at the beginning of each chapter the character and whether it is past or present.  I give Appetite for Innocence 4 out of 5 stars.  I kept hoping for a surprise twist instead of the ending I anticipated.  I did like the books message about being careful about the information that is shared on social media sites. You never know who can access your personal information and how they will use it.  Appetite for Innocence is a disturbing novel that will captivate readers.  Lucinda Berry is a new author for me.  I will have to check out her other works.

I will be reviewing What the Bishop Saw by Vannetta Chapman on Thursday.  I must go rake some leaves.  I am finally starting to see my yard.  I have encountered a tiny little bee problem though and these bees mean business (which is not good for me since I am allergic to them--good thing I have a supply of Epi-pens).  Wish me luck! Take care and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

The Beautiful Word 365 Devotional

Hello!  I wanted to share my review of this lovely devotional with you. The Beautiful Word 365 Devotional has a page for each day of the year.  It is a lovely hardcover book (slightly padded cover) with a decorative cover (which is what captured my attention).  The book measures 8 ¼” by 6”.  The devotional is divided into months with a page for each day.  Each page has a scripture to read, discussion on the verse, and a prayer.  On each two-page spread there is a pretty artwork on the far left and the space for journaling or writing notes at the right.  The pages are made of nice quality glossy paper.  Perfect for writing notes in pen, and they will not bleed through (no room for coloring).  Using this devotional is a good way to start each day.  I appreciate the color illustrations and the book setup.  Each devotion is short but meaningful.  I am very happy with The Beautiful Word 365 Devotional.  I do wish that they had included a ribbon bookmark.  It is the only thing lacking in this attractive book.  This devotional would make a great gift to female friends and family members.

Pillow Stalk by Diane Vallere is currently available for $.99 (Kindle version).  It is the first book in A Madison Night Mystery series.  I hope you have a blessed day!  I will be reviewing Appetite for Innocence by Lucinda Berry on Wednesday.  Take care and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader

The Decorator Who Knew Too Much: A Madison Night Mystery

The Decorator Who Knew Too Much by Diane Vallere is the fourth book in A Madison Night Mystery series.  Madison Night and her boyfriend, Hudson James are heading to Palm Springs for two weeks.  It is going to be part getaway and part work.  Hudson has agreed to help his brother-in-law, Jimmy work on his dream project.  Jimmy wishes to create a midcentury modern strip mall and Madison is the perfect decorator to assist him.  Their visit, though, is fraught from the very beginning.  Their car is sideswiped as they near Jimmy and Emma’s home.  The next day, Madison arrives at the job site and her hat falls into the Whitewater River.  As she bends over to retrieve it, she sees a body floating under the surface of the water.  Before the police arrive, the corpse disappears.  Madison goes on a sketching excursion and ends up getting attacked.  She arrives at the house to discover that Jimmy is upset with her.  He lost a day of work.  The next morning, Jimmy vents his frustration.  Madison and her dog, Rocky decamp to a local motel.  This is not the trip that Hudson had planned for them. Madison has been having a tough time since her last brush with danger in Texas.  She has been suffering from nightmares and is having to rely on sleeping pills.  It is recommended she consult a therapist and is given the name of Dr. Albert Hall.  Madison leaves him a message, but she soon discovers that he is no longer taking patients.  The missing river victim is found in a quarry by hikers. The victim is none other than Dr. Hall.  Madison starts delving into the case and finds it more complex than it first appeared.  She has all these various pieces of information.  Madison will need to shift them around and fit them together to get the complete picture.  Can Madison figure out the identity of the culprit before it is too late?

The Decorator Who Knew Too Much is part of a series and some parts of the story are a little confusing if you have not read the previous novels.  While the author provides details on why Madison loves vintage fashions, midcentury modern design and Doris Day, details what has caused her PTSD are lacking.  I did find The Decorator Who Knew Too Much to be easy to read (good pace/flow) and nicely written.  I liked the authors writing style and the humor she injected into the story.  I appreciate Madison’s love of vintage fashions (her clothes sound unique and beautiful).  I give The Decorator Who Knew Too Much 3 out of 5 stars.  The mystery comes across as complex, but I thought the identity of the perpetrators easy to uncover.  In the beginning of the book, it states that Madison and Hudson are going on vacation.  This is mentioned more than once, but then we are told that they will be working. How is this a vacation?  Is it because they are in a different city?  I was curious how Madison, a decorator, could assist on a project that has not been started.  I found some information to be repeated a few times throughout the book (Madison’s love of Doris Day, vintage fashions, and her dog, Rocky).  The book is written from Madison and Tex’s (Captain Tex Allen) point-of-views.  I was not a fan of this format.  Tex’s sections did not enhance or help the story (for the most part).  I prefer novels that are told from one person’s perspective or from the third person.  Personally, I believe Tex and Madison would make a great couple.  Hudson is not the best partner for Madison with her love of sleuthing.  At the end of the book, readers are left with some unanswered questions.  I wish the author had provided a better recap of the offender’s actions.  Fans of the Madison Night Mystery series (also known as A Mad for Mod Mystery series) will enjoy this latest installment.  I think I will go back and read the earlier novels in this series.

The first three books in A Madison Night Mystery series are Pillow Stalk, That Touch of Ink, and With Vics You Get Eggroll.  Thank you for visiting today.  I am off to run an errand.  I will be reviewing Appetite for Innocence by Lucinda Berry by tomorrow.  Have a great day, take care and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader