Wednesday, May 31, 2017

The Antique House Murders: The Oakwood Mystery series

Hello!  Can you believe it is the day of last of May?  The month went by so quickly.  Once Upon a Spine by Kate Carlisle will be out on Tuesday, June 6.  It will be the eleventh book in A Bibliophile Mystery series.  Only Skein Deep by Maggie Sefton will also be published on June 6.  It is the fifteenth book in A Knitting Mystery series.

The Antique House Murders by Leslie Nagel is the second book The Oakwood Mystery series.  Charley Carpenter lives in Oakwood, Ohio where she owns Old Hat Vintage Fashions.  Her friend and mentor, Calvin Prescott of Prescott Auctions is handling the sale of the contents of Mulbridge House.  The heirs plan to demolish the old home once everything of value has been removed.  Charley is at Mulbridge House to look at some vintage fashions that Calvin has put aside for her.  While at the house Charley witnesses a skirmish between Holland Mulbridge and Millie Peache.  Millie as the president of SOAP (Sustain Oakwood’s Architectural Past) is spearheading the campaign against the demolition of the home.  The Oakwood Planning Commission will soon vote on the fate of Mulbridge House.  Millie claims that Augusta Mulbridge, Holland’s mother, had drafted a new will that would leave the home to SOAP.   Will the beautiful but decaying home be saved or will it fall victim to the wrecking ball?  On Monday Charley heads over to Prescott Auctions to pick up the items she purchased from Mulbridge House.  The place is ablaze with lights which is unusual for that hour of the morning.  Charley heads inside with her friend, Dimitri and finds Calvin dead in his office.  She calls Detective Marcus Trenault (her boyfriend) who in the building across the street.  Before Trenault arrives, Charley takes notice that someone had thoroughly searched the office and left it a mess.  Charley later discovers that there have been a series of robberies over the weekend.  Are they related to Calvin’s death?  Trenault asks Charley to stay out of this investigation, but this was her friend.  Charley starts asking questions and uncovers some illegal activities.  But what happens when Charley gets too close to a killer who does not wish to be caught?

The Antique House Murders is the second book in The Oakwood Mystery series.  I suggest you start with The Book Club Murders (the first book).  The author goes over what occurred in TheBook Club Murders and Charley’s past history, but, due to the numerous characters, you might be a confused.  As you can see from my summary, there are several storylines in this mystery novel (there are more than mentioned above).   While the mystery was convoluted, the killer’s identity was easy to discern.   I give The Antique House Murders 3 out of 5 stars.  This book, unlike traditional cozy mysteries, has foul language (which it did not need) and intimate scenes.  There were also some remarks (I believe they were meant to be jokes) made about sexual assault and rape that I did not appreciate (between Charley and Trenault as foreplay).  The Antique House Murders has the traditional nasty cop with Chief Zehring, boyfriend who keeps telling Charley to stay out of the investigation (which she ignores), and boyfriend’s ex who works with him (which makes Charley jealous).  Charley gets carried away with her investigation.  She continually lies to Trenault and some of her actions are bordering on or are illegal.  Charley continually puts her life in danger (it got tedious).  Trenault’s jealousy of Sean Ambrose was unpleasant (no woman likes a boyfriend who is continually jealous). Does he not trust Charley?  I did appreciate the information on how Safety Departments operate and the Leica-10 3D scanner (I want to know more about this gizmo).  

I appreciate you visiting today and reading my review.  I am off to bake cookies (my mother is out once again) and sort through my yarn stash (it is getting out of control).  I am currently reading Naomi's Hope by Jan Drexler.  May you have a wonderful Wednesday.  I will be reviewing One Fete in the Grave by Vickie Fee on Thursday.    Take care and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Marriage is Pure Murder: A Blossom Valley Mystery

The cover is just adorable!

Marriage is Pure Murder by Staci McLaughlin is the sixth book in A Blossom Valley Mystery series.  It is early November and Dana Lewis is getting ready for her wedding to Jason Forrester at the O’Connell Organic Farm and Spa in Blossom Valley.    Dana is visiting the florist, Bethany Lancaster at the Don’t Dilly-Dahlia Flower Shop to go over the final details.  Bethany seems to know particulars about Dana’s life that she did not share with her and the florist probes for more information.  Later that day Dana receives a call from Bethany.  One of the flowers Dana wanted for the wedding is no longer available, and Bethany needs Dana to stop by after work to pick a replacement.  Dana arrives at the flower shop to find the lights out and the door locked.  She goes around back and finds the alley door unlocked.  Dana enters to find Bethany on the floor with blood pooling around her head.  Detective Palmer is assigned the case, and he considers Dana a suspect (based on very flimsy evidence). Dana wants this matter cleared up before her wedding.  She starts asking questions about Bethany and discovers that she was a blackmailer.  Bethany used people’s secrets to her advantage.  That certainly opens up the suspect pool.  But one person had more to lose than any of the others.  Will Dana make it to her wedding or will it turn into a funeral?

Marriage is Pure Murder is nicely written and has a good pace which makes for an easy to read cozy mystery.  The mystery was slightly more complex than those in previous books in this series (which appealed to me).  I liked how one little detail gave away the killer’s identity to Dana in the book.  The ending is sweet and will provide readers with a laugh.  I give Marriage is Pure Murder 3.5 out of 5 stars.   I do wish that there had been more substance (depth) and less time devoted to Wilbur and food descriptions.  I was curious as to the name of Dana’s mother.  It was not mentioned once throughout the book.  I found Dana’s sister, Ashlee to be infantile, selfish and annoying (I really did not like her).  I sincerely hope that we see less of her in future novels. While Marriage is Pure Murder is the sixth book in the series, it can be read alone (you will not be lost). Marriage is Pure Murder is a cute, lighthearted story that will appeal to many readers. 

Thank you for visiting today. I am currently reading Only Skein Deep by Maggie Sefton.  May you have a superb Tuesday.  I will return on Wednesday with my thoughts on The Antique House Murders by Leslie Nagel.  Take care and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader

Monday, May 29, 2017

Return to Huckleberry Hill: The Matchmakers of Huckleberry Hill series

Happy Memorial Day!  It is a day to honor the men and women who gave up their lives for our country (for us). Also a day for relaxing on the beach and having a barbecue (for most families).

Return to Huckleberry Hill by Jennifer Beckstrand is the seventh book in The Matchmaker of Huckleberry Hill.  It is Christmas Eve in Sugarcreek, Ohio.  Reuben Helmuth along with the youth group is providing some Christmas cheer to the elderly and shut-ins in the community.  Reuben is happy to spend time with his girlfriend, Linda Sue (Bishop’s daughter).  Reuben notices that Linda Sue is no longer with the group and starts searching for her.  He finds her with his best friend, John King.  It turns out that Linda Sue and John have been seeing each other (behind Reuben’s back) and have fallen in love.  Reuben feels humiliated and his pride is wounded (other people knew about Linda Sue and John’s relationship).  He cannot believe that Linda Sue would pick a pig farmer over him.  Reuben departs Sugarcreek and heads for Bonduel to stay with his grandparents.  Anna and Felty are surprised by Reuben’s appearance, but they are happy to see him (though it changes their current matchmaking plans).  A couple of months go by and Reuben is still at Huckleberry Hill.  One day Fern King, John’s sister arrives in town.  She is there to get Reuben to return to Sugarcreek and forgive John.  Anna and Fern devise a plan to find Reuben a new girlfriend and get him out of his funk.  They set up a knitting group of eligible young women.  When Reuben ends up insulting the ladies (foot-in-mouth disease), he enlists Fern’s help to make amends.  But what happens when a couple of the girls get the wrong idea.  Reuben is in for a challenging time, but it will not be boring with Fern along for company. Will Anna and Felty succeed in making another successful match for one of their grandchildren?

Return to Huckleberry Hill is just delightful.  Anna and Felty are amusing and heartwarming characters.  Their hijinks are guaranteed to make you smile (and laugh).  I could not believe that Reuben actually liked Anna’s cooking (there must be something wrong with his taste buds).  Some of the food descriptions will put you off your next meal (Anna’s food combinations are certainly creative).  Fern was a great addition.  I appreciated her spunk and outlook on life.  I give Return to Huckleberry Hill 5 out of 5 stars.  Some of the messages or themes in Return to Huckleberry Hill are forgiveness, the downfall of pride, trusting in God and judging others based on occupation, appearance, or social standing.  I thought Return to Huckleberry Hill was well-written and had a good pace.  The author’s descriptive writing allowed me to picture the scenery and characters.  This really brings the book to life for me and allows for a pleasurable reading experience.  The ending left me giggling and a clue to Anna and Felty’s next victim.  While Return to Huckleberry Hill is the seventh novel in the series, it can be read alone.  I do, though, recommend reading this entire charming and romantic series of books. I will be on the lookout for the next enchanting book in The Matchmakers of Huckleberry Hill series.  Return to Huckleberry Hill will be published on Tuesday, May 30.

The eighth book in The Matchmakers of Huckleberry Hill will be A Courtship on Huckleberry Hill and it will be available on December 26. I hope each of you have a relaxing yet fun day.  I will be back tomorrow to review Marriage is Pure Murder by Staci McLaughlin.  Take care and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Amish Brides

I hope everyone is having a fun holiday weekend!  An Amish Summer by Amy Clipston, Kathleen Fuller, Kelly Irvin and Shelley Shepard Gray will be out on June 6.  It contains four Amish novels by four tops authors in Amish fiction.  

Amish Brides contains three stories by Jennifer Beckstrand, Molly Jebber and Amy Lillard.  The Reluctant Groom by Jennifer Beckstrand is set in Bonduel with Anna and Felty Helmuth.  Suvie Newswenger visits Anna to request her assistance.  Suvie has fallen for their great-grandson, Aaron Beachy who has yet to get over the loss of his wife three years prior.  Anna and Felty are happy to assist Suvie with her request.  The threesome set out one morning with a casserole (prepared by Anna), petunias and a knitted item.  Is there a chance for this match or will Anna’s matchmaking streak come to an end? 5 stars

Joshua’s Bride by Molly Jebber takes us back to 1885 in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.  Joshua Stutzman proposes to Madeline Lehman and she gladly accepts.  Unfortunately, Joshua’s parents are unhappy with the match thanks to Madeline’s sister, Catherine who left the community and ended her relationship with Nathaniel, Joshua’s brother.  One day Madeline hears a baby outside and finds one on the doorstep with Catherine running away.  Catherine does not want the child nor does she know the father’s identity.  Joshua accepts the baby in their life, but his family is incensed.  The added tension affects Joshua’s relationship with his parents and brother.  Madeline does not wish to come between Joshua and his family, so she calls off their wedding.  What will it take for the Stutzman’s to realize the Madeline is not Catherine? 4 stars

A Summer Wedding in Paradise by Amy Lillard is set in Paradise, Pennsylvania.  Reba Schmucker is on her way to the schoolhouse when a carriage with a runaway horse forces her into a wet, muddy ditch.  Reba ends up filthy, dripping and with an injured ankle.  She arrives at the schoolhouse to find out the driver is the repairman, Abel Weaver.  Reba’s nieces want her to be happy like their father who is getting married thanks to their matchmaking efforts.  The three girls decide to fix Reba up with Abel.  Abel and Reba start spending time together, and Reba starts wearing boring clothes instead of her vibrant toned dresses to be more appealing.  Will the girl’s matchmaking effort pay off? 4 stars

Amish Brides contains three well-written stories that are entertaining to read.  My favorite story is The Reluctant Groom.  I love Anna and Felty Helmuth (great characters) and their antics.  I giggled frequently while reading it, and I was left with a happy feeling when I finished The Reluctant Groom.  Joshua’s Bride is a well-constructed story that is more serious than The Reluctant Groom.  It is about not judging others based on their family members.  It shows us the importance of love, forgiveness, the power of prayer, faith and believing in God’s will.  In Amy Lillard’s A Summer Wedding in Paradise, I liked  Reba Schmucker.  She is a sassy, independent woman who loved bright, bold colors and pushing boundaries.  The story has a good message.  It reminds us to be ourselves which can be hard to remember in our society.  The little girls were adorable and their capers provided me with some chuckles.  The Christian element is light yet powerful.  Amish Brides contains three inviting novels that I give 4.5 out of 5 stars.  

Thank you for reading my review of Amish Brides.  May all of you have a nice, relaxing Memorial Day.  My next review will be Return to Huckleberry Hill by Jennifer Beckstrand.  Take care and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Bearly Departed: A Teddy Bear Mystery

Welcome!  I hope you are enjoying your Saturday on this Memorial Day weekend. Return to Huckleberry Hill by Jennifer Beckstrand will be released on Tuesday, May 30.  It is a delightful addition to The Matchmakers of Huckleberry Hill series.  Anna and Felty Helmuth are such sweet and humorous characters.  

Bearly Departed by Meg Macy is the first book in A Teddy Bear Mystery series.  Sasha Silverman is the manager of The Silver Bear Shop and Factory in Silver Hollow, Michigan.  The business was started by Sasha’s grandfather, and she took over the running when her father retired.  Will Taylor, their salesman and public relations expert, is trying to force changes on the business.  He wants to export production overseas to China and oust Uncle Ross who oversees the factory.  Will has just returned early from a trip and immediately called a meeting.  Will states that he has Alex Silverman’s approval to proceed with his plan’s.  Uncle Ross is angry and makes some threats against Will’s life (you can see where there is leading).  Later that evening, Sasha and her sister, Maddie are returning home and are almost hit by a car squealing out of their parking lot.  They notice Will’s car still in the lot and go inside the factory.  Sasha finds Will dead next to the stuffing machine with his mouth full of the material.  Detective Mason is assigned the case.  He insists on closing the factory and store while he investigates.  Uncle Ross quickly becomes the prime suspect in Will’s death.  Sasha knows Uncle Ross did not commit the crime.  She quickly dons her investigator cap and starts looking for other suspects.  Can Sasha find the real killer, clear Uncle Ross and get their shop reopened before it is too late?

I found Bearly Departed to be nicely written, and I liked the premise of a teddy bear shop and factory.  It was interesting to read about the different steps to building a bear and it was cute that the shop had a teddy bear hospital.  Bearly Departed starts out at a good pace and then slows down considerably (especially since we get detailed descriptions of each person Sasha encounters along with their businesses).  I thought there were several cozy mystery clichés in this novel.  The cop is rude and impatient, the person who would be killed was foreseeable, and the killer’s identity was unsurprising. Sasha babbles, stumbles, is forgetful, misplaces things, a gossip, impulsive and seems to take her dog with her everywhere. Since Sasha is the manager of a store, I was hoping for a competent, smart, and confident woman as the main character (it would have been a nice change).  I give Bearly Departed 3 out of 5 stars.  The mystery was slightly complicated, but the identity of the culprit was not.  There is a side plot in the book that acts as a red herring.  Personally, I felt that the author tried to stuff too much into this first book.  There was just one incident after another.  I thought that there were too many characters.  Readers are introduced to the Silverman family, the workers in the factory, owners of the shops on their street, townspeople, etc.  I quickly tired of reading about Rosie’s (Sasha’s dog) bathroom habits.  The author added in Sasha’s ex-husband who is (of course) a cheating louse who ends up returning to town.  Was this really needed?  Information about the case is repeated several times throughout the novel (like filler). I was also curious why when Sasha has a teddy bear picnic (a company event) that they do not use bears from their own shop.  They had bears from other designers (Winnie-the-Pooh and Boyd’s Bears for example) and generic bears present.  Since people are paying to attend the event, it would be better advertising to have their own bears dressed up for the picnic (and then have them for sale).  Bearly Departed was just okay for me.  The premise is unique, but otherwise I was underwhelmed.  If you prefer to read lighter cozy mysteries (that have more of the cozy element), than check out at Bearly Departed

I am off to relax and enjoy my day.  I am currently reading One Fete in the Grave by Vickie Fee.  I hope all of you have a nice, peaceful Saturday.  I will be back on Sunday with my review of Amish Brides by Amy Lillard, Jennifer Beckstrand, and Molly Jebber.  Take care and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader

Friday, May 26, 2017

All The Best People: A Novel by Sonja Yoerg

Greetings!  Sonja Yoerg (the author I am featuring today) has written House Broken, The Middle of Somewhere, and All the Best People. Readers can follow her on Amazon and get emails when a new book is listed on Amazon.

All the Best People is a new novel by Sonja Yoerg is the story of Carole LaPorte and her family.  Carole is forty-four years old, married and has three children.  Lately, Carole has been having trouble concentrating and she has been hearing things (that people are mocking her, talking behind her back, the cat is evil).  Carole is afraid to tell her husband about her troubles for fear of ending up in Underhill State Hospital like her mother, Solange Gifford.  Alison, Carole’s daughter, can tell something is wrong with her mother, but no one will listen to her.  She tries to find another way to help her mother.  Alison is becoming a young woman and needs her mother’s love and guidance.  Janine, Carole’s younger sister, is a widow and has her eyes on Greg Bayliss, Alison’s teacher, as her new husband.  Then April Honeycutt, the new special education teacher, and Greg start spending time together.  Janine is not going to let April take away her prize.  Solange has been in Underhill since she was thirty-four years old.  Her husband, Osborn had her committed after the birth of Janine leaving the girls in the care of his sisters.  Carole continues to get worse and starts withdrawing from her family.  Pick up All the Best People to find out what happens with Carole, how Solange ended up in Underhill, and if Janine gets her man.

All the Best People shows how mental illness can affect a family and not just one generation.  The story is told from Carole, Janine, Alison, and Solange’s point-of-view.   The book takes us back to when Solange agreed to marry Osborn.  Solange came from river people in Burlington, Vermont and Osborn from the upper class.  This pairing is doomed right from the beginning.  A trial case of Ploof v. Putnam divides Osborn and Carole as well as the citizens of Burlington.  The changing viewpoints made it difficult to get into the story.  I wish the story had been told from third person.  The pace of the book slowed down considerably during Solange’s story which I did not enjoy.  How Solange ended up in Underhill was a necessary part of the story.  However, it was predictable by delving into the division of the classes.  I knew where the story would go as soon as the read that Solange and Osborn were from different sections of town.  I give All the Best People 2 out of 5 stars. The book is full of unlikeable characters.  The only person I found endearing was Lester.  I found information to be repeated often throughout the story and the ending was a letdown.  The book could have used more editing and a reduction in length (it was too long).  A blue box and a pearl figure prominently into the story, but I did not get why (except to represent water).  The blurb for the story hints at magic, but the only magic is Alison reading spells from books (there was a definite lack of supervision).  I was never able to get into the All the Best People.  I did like some of the references to shows and items from the 70s (I was a little girl in the 70s).  The author handles the serious issue of mental illness very well.  She showed how mental illness was treated in the late 30s and in the 70s.  All the Best People was not the right novel for me, but I do recommend Ms. Yoerg’s House Broken.

Thank you for visiting today.  I hope you found my review helpful (I struggled with this one).  I will return tomorrow to review Bearly Departed by Meg Macy.  It is the first book in A Teddy Bear Mystery series and will be published on May 30.  May you have a pleasant Friday.  Take care and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Mulch Ado About Murder: A Local Foods Mystery

Greetings!  On June 6 Once Upon a Spine by Kate Carlisle will be released.  It is the eleventh book in A Bibliophile Mystery series.  I look forward to finding what Brooklyn Wainwright is up to this time along with her handsome fiance, Derek Stone.  I have read every book in the series and each one is better than the last. Homicide in Hardcover is the first book in the series.  I hope you find a new series for you to read and enjoy!

Mulch Ado about Murder by Edith Maxwell is the fifth book in A Local Foods Mystery series.  Cam Flaherty owns Attic Hill Organic Farm in Westbury, Massachusetts.  It is the end of May and a busy time for Cam on the farm.  Cam heads into town to drop off some basil and lettuce seedlings to Nicole Kingsbury.  Nicole is starting Seacoast Fresh, a hydroponic organic greenhouse.  Cam arrives at Seacoast Fresh and discovers protestors outside the building.  One of the demonstrators is her mother, Deb Flaherty.  Her parents decided to surprise Cam with a visit.  Cam skirts around the picketers and enters the greenhouse calling out for Nicole.  Cam discovers Nicole deceased by the slurry vat clutching a rosary.  Once again Cam is embroiled in a murder investigation with her mother on the suspect list.  Cam wants to get her mother cleared of the crime and starts digging into Nicole’s life.  Cam gets an unlikely sidekick in her father, William.  Will this duo be able to uproot the killer?

Mulch Ado about Murder is an easy to read cozy mystery.  The book is nicely written and has a good pace (can be finished in just a couple of hours).  I liked the main characters and enjoyed the addition of her parents (especially William). It was good to get more background on Cam and how her family influenced her life choices.  Mulch Ado about Murder is a light cozy mystery with focus on Cam’s day to day life (the crops, taking care of the chickens, eating out, her boyfriend, parade, her friends).  The mystery was medium level.  There are a couple of suspects and a unique method of murder (the best part).  When reading a mystery novel, the little details are the most important.  That was definitely the case in Mulch Ado about Murder.  I give Mulch Ado about Murder 3.5 out of 5 stars.  I did find some information to be repeated a few times throughout the story.  There were also some details brought up that were never addressed (what was in Nicole’s slurry, chemical smell Cam smelled).  For instance, D.J. had left his bike at Cam’s farm while out of town.  At the end of the book, D.J. arrives at Cam’s on his bike (had just returned to town and he had not been out to farm yet).  While Mulch Ado about Murder is the fifth book in the series, it can be read alone.  The author provides all the needed background information for someone to read and understand the story.  I did like reading Mulch Ado about Murder and look forward to the next book in A Local Foods Mystery series.  Mulch Ado about Murder will be released on May 30!

Thank you for reading my review.  I am currently reading The Antique House Murders by Leslie Nagel.  I will be back on Friday to review All the Best People by Sonja Yoerg.    I hope you have a congenial day. Take care and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

The Farmers' Market Mishap: Sequel to The Lopsided Christmas Cake

Hello and thank you for joining me today.  Wanda E. Brunstetter is the author that got me hooked on Amish novels.  She is a prolific author who has written some wonderful novels.  You can follow her on Facebook and Amazon.  There is also a book club on Facebook for readers who enjoy her novels.

The Farmers’ Market Mishap by Wanda E. Brunstetter and Jean Brunstetter is the sequel to The Lopsided Christmas Cake.  Elma Hochstetler is thirty-four years old and has been living alone since her twin sister, Thelma married Joseph Beechy.  Elma has a busy life with taking care of their general store, home, garden and chores in the barn.  But it does get lonely and Elma wonders if she will end up an old maid.  Thelma is worried about her sister and keeps pushing her towards Delbert Gingerich.  Delbert and Elma used to court, but they were not suited (Elma found him set in his ways and disliked his various quirks).  Thelma hopes that her sister will change her mind (she wants her to stay close by).  Thelma and Joseph are excited about their first child.  It means, though, that Thelma cannot work as many hours in the store, and Elma must take on more responsibility.  Ben Wagler lives in Grabill with his widowed mother, Dorothy.  Dorothy has taken a booth at the Shipshewana farmer’s market to sell some of her excess produce and her lovely flowers.  Ben decides to look around before the market opens and encounters Elma at her stand where he proceeds to knock over some of her produce.  Elma and Ben are attracted to each other, but they live about fifty miles apart.  Elma tried a long-distance relationship in the past and it did not work out.  Plus, she has responsibilities and would never consider moving away from her sister especially now that she is becoming an aunt.  Is there a chance for a happily ever after for Ben and Elma?

The Farmers’ Market Mishap is a light-hearted Amish romance that I enjoyed reading.  It is well-written and has engaging characters.  The Farmers’ Market Mishap has a good pace, it is just the right length, and it has a satisfying ending.  I especially liked the addition of Hunter/Freckles.  He is a smart and loving dog that accomplishes what the humans could not. The Farmers’ Market Mishap is a sequel to The Lopsided Christmas Cake, but it can be read alone. I give The Farmers’ Market Mishap 4 out of 5 stars.  The story has an expected ending, but I was still pleased with the story.  The Farmers’ Market Mishap is the perfect book to read on a hot afternoon.  You can get an extended preview of The Farmers' Market Mishap for free (Amazon and Barnes and Noble).

I am off to do some work around the house.  I am presently going through the kitchen cabinets (getting rid of old items and cleaning the shelves).  May you have a very pleasing day.  My current novel is Marriage is Pure Murder by Staci McLaughlin.  I will see you tomorrow when I return with another book evaluation.  Take care and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Bringing Them Home: Rosemont Series

Thank you for visiting today!  If you are looking for a new Amish novel to read, I suggest The Farmer's Market Mishap by Wanda Brunstetter and Jean Brunstetter.  It is the sequel The Lopsided Christmas Cake.  It is a cute story!

Bringing Them Home by Barbara Hinske is the fifth book in the Rosemont series.  Maggie Martin is the mayor of Westbury and owner of Rosemont where she lives with her husband, John.  Maggie has been taking care of her daughter, Susan since she donated a kidney to her half-sister.  Soon Susan will be able to start her new life as Mrs. Aaron Scanlon in California.  But what happens when Aaron’s residency is completed?  Maggie is worried about the case against Chuck Delgado.  It will be going to trial soon, but Alex is not sure they have enough evidence.  There are people in the town who have the proof needed to put Chuck away.  But one if afraid of being implicated in Chuck’s crimes and another wants to protect a relationship.    Another person gets in Chuck’s way and does not get the opportunity to come forward.  Chuck will do whatever it takes to avoid jail.  David Wheeler wants revenge against Chuck for his father’s death.  David decides to look for the needed documents.  If Delgado catches him, David will not make it home to his mother.  Maggie gets to spend some time at Highpointe College, and it leads to a wonderful offer.  Is this the right time for to make a change?  Come back to Rosemont to see if Chuck Delgado gets his due and to catch up on everyone’s lives in Bringing Them Home.

Bringing Them Home is nicely written, easy to read, and has a good pace.  The setting sounds lovely (I enjoyed the descriptions of the town), and I like the good guys in the series (Chuck and his cohorts need to be taken down).  There are several storylines in the book (as you can see from my summary), but it is easy to keep track of them all.   Bringing Them Home is the fifth book in the series, and it is not a stand-alone novel.  Each book in the series builds upon the previous one (in other words, you need to read them in order).   I give Bringing Them Home 4 out of 5 stars (I liked it).  The Chuck Delgado storyline ending was anticlimactic.  It was wrapped up too quickly and cleanly (and the readers were not a part of it).   I did like how all the storylines were wrapped up in the end.  It was a lovely and sweet conclusion (you will finish the book with a smile on your face).  

The other novels in the Rosemont series are Coming to Rosemont, Weaving the Strands, Uncovering Secrets, and Drawing Close.  All five books in the series are available on Kindle Unlimited.  I hope you have a very special day.  I will be back tomorrow to share my thoughts on another book.  Take care and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader

Monday, May 22, 2017

Murder in the Dark: Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries

Greetings!  I hope everyone is having a lovely day.  Kerry Greenwood has written twenty Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries (originally listed as A Phyne Fisher Mystery series).  The series starts with Cocaine Blues and ends with Murder and Mendelsshon. Some books are better than others. 

Murder in the Dark by Kerry Greenwood is sixteenth book in Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries.  It is Christmastime much to Jane and Ruth’s delight.  The Butler’s, Dot, Bert, and Cec will be spending Christmas Day with their families.  Phryne’s sister, Eliza and her companion will be spending the day with Phryne and the girls.  Phryne has received an invitation to Gerald and Isabella Templar’s The Last Best Party of 1928.  After receiving a threatening Christmas card warning her off from the party, Phryne decides to attend.  The next day the family is opening gifts and there is one last gift for Phryne that had been left on the front porch.  There is a lovely cuff inside with a venomous snake wrapped around it.  Thankfully, Ember (the cat) kills the slimy creature before it can harm anyone.  Phryne is dropped off at the party, and she sets out to explore.  It is a massive affair that will last from December 27 through January 1 with costumed events each evening along with music (Nerine is with us once again), polo matches, cocktails and other recreational (lascivious) activities.  Gerald requests to speak with Phryne privately.  He has been receiving threatening letters and needs her assistance discovering this perpetrator’s identity.  Later Phryne discovers that Gerald and Isabella adopted children and Isabella’s adoptive daughter, Marigold has disappeared.  It is assumed that she ran away.  But one evening, Tarquin, Gerald’s adoptive son, goes for drinks and disappears.  Phryne investigates and finds that Tarquin has been taken. But, the evildoer has left a riddle behind on a luggage tag.  Phryne must unravel each riddle in this scavenger hunt to find the next clue.   Will Phryne get to the end in time to save the victims?

Murder in the Dark is set at Christmas.  We are told that it is Phryne’s first Christmas in Australia. Then everything that has transpired in the first fifteen books has occurred in less than twelve months.  Does anyone else find this a little odd?  I did like that we caught a glimpse into the lives of Bert, Cec, Dot, and the Butler’s away from Miss Fisher’s household.  The party is an over-the-top affair with many varied activities.  Readers need to remember that the story is set in 1928 when recreational drugs flowed freely and were not illegal.  The mystery was complex, and I do not believe many readers will figure out the whole solution (I am being cryptic on purpose).  I particularly enjoyed the riddles.  They were fun to decipher.  I give Murder in the Dark 3 out of 5 stars.  I did feel that the book was a slightly too long.  The book needed more focus and editing (it would have certainly helped with the books slow pacing).  Kerry Greenwood was rather wordy.  We are given descriptions of the clothes, food, costumes, house, grounds, tents, games, erotic scenes and so on.  Several recitations and songs are also included in the story (I skimmed through them).  I wish there had been less focus on the party with its varied activities.  Since Murder in the Dark was a Christmas novel, I would have liked it to be more Christmas themed (instead of a hedonistic party).  I did find the solution to the twin’s financial woes to be creative but unrealistic (might have been some eye rolling).  I did like the afterward included by the author.  

I will be reviewing Bringing Them Home by Barbara Hinske on Tuesday.  It is the fifth book in the Rosemont series.  Thank you for visiting.  Take care and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Ruddy Gore: Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries

Ruddy Gore by Kerry Greenwood is the seventh book in Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries.  Phyrne Fisher is attending a gala performance of Gilbert and Sullivan’s Ruddigore at His Majesty’s Theater.  Along the way, Phryne and her aviator friend, Bunji Ross encounter some trouble and must rescue an elderly Chinese woman and her grandson, Lin Chung (good thing Phryne is handy with an axe).  Phryne is enjoying the performance until Walter Copland, playing Sir Ruthven, collapses on the stage.  The theater’s manager and an old friend of Phryne’s, Sir Bernard Tarrant requests Phryne’s assistance, but the performance must go on first.  Robert Craven takes over the part of Sir Ruthven and, near the end of the play, it is obvious that something is wrong with the man.  It turns out that both men were poisoned. The production has been plagued with problems and some believe there is a ghost in the theater.  Sir Bernard hires Phryne to investigate.  When Walter Copland does not last the night, Detective Inspector Jack Robinson is out to find his killer.  Jack is glad to have Phryne involved with this case (he dislikes theaters).  But the person responsible is not done tormenting the production.  Can Phryne and Jack find the culprit before there is another fatality?  And Phryne has not seen the last of the fetching Lin Chung.

Ruddy Gore is an entertaining novel.  It is always delightful to revisit the vivacious Phryne Fisher.  The story starts out a little slow while Phryne is enjoying Ruddigore, but the pace picks up after the performance.  The book has an overabundance of characters.  Readers are introduced to the cast of the play and the people who work behind the scenes at the theater.  I do wish there had not been so many characters to weed through and that some of the core characters had been included in Ruddy Gore (Bert, Cec, Dot, Ruth, Jane, the Butlers).  In addition, I missed Phryne’s over-the-top personality.  She was more subdued in this novel.  Lin Chung is a nice addition to the series, and I am sure we will see him again in the future.  I give Ruddy Gore 3.5 out of 5 stars.  I found the mysteries (there is a thirty-year-old one too) entertaining, but they can be solved (if you pay close attention).  It was interesting to see the differences between the book and the show by the same name. Personally, I was more a fan of the show.  It had more focus.  If you are not a fan of Gilbert and Sullivan, I do not recommend Ruddy Gore. Information about the play and characters are discussed in length.  While reading Ruddy Gore, you need to remember that the book is set in 1928.  People’s views towards Chinese were very different than they are today. If you are a fan of Miss Fisher and her antics, you will enjoy this seventh installment in the series.  Those who have not read the earlier books in the series may not enjoy Ruddy Gore.  There are twenty books in the Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries.

I hope that you have a lovely and relaxing Sunday.  I will be back on Monday with my review of Murder in the Dark by Kerry Greenwood. Take care and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader

Saturday, May 20, 2017

The Chapel Car Bride

Beautiful cover!

Salutations!  I hope you are having a lovely day.  Jennifer Beckstrand writes writes The Matchmakers of Huckleberry Hill series.  Her latest edition is Return to Huckleberry Hill and it will be released on May 30.  I think it is my favorite book in the series. It is a sweet, humorous story with great characters.  If you like to read Amish fiction, I suggest reading this entertaining series.  You will laugh at the antics of Anna and Felty Helmuth.

The Chapel Car Bride by Judith Miller begins in the spring of 1913.  Hope Irvine along with her father, Reverend Layton Irvine, a traveling missionary, are traveling on Herald of Hope chapel car train.  Hope had been living with her Aunt Mattie in Pittsburgh until her passing.  It took some work, but Hope convinced her father to let her travel with him.  She will be able to assist with the children and play the organ for the services.  Their new assignment will take them to Finch, West Virginia.  They temporarily stop in Brookfield where Hope is accosted by four ruffians and a miner traveling through town comes to her rescue.  They finally arrive in Finch and Hope meets the miner once again.  Luke Hughes works for the Finch Mining and Company along with everyone else who lives on the hill in Finch.  Miners are having a hard time since hours have been cut and they are finding other ways to make money.  Kirby Finch got into trouble once again and his father has sent him to Finch to work.  Kirby is more interested in making quick, easy money that will allow him to escape what he considers a backwater town.  Kirby believes Hope will provide a nice diversion while he is in town and then he comes up with a plan.  Kirby offers to drive Hope to neighboring towns where she can teach the children about God and the Bible.  Luke knows that there must be another reason for Kirby’s generosity, and he is determined to find out the reason.  Luke is jealous of the time Kirby is spending with Hope.  He has gotten to know Hope and is falling in love.  But he does not feel worthy of such a wonderful woman.  What is Kirby up to and is Hope being put in danger?  Is there a chance for a future between Hope and Luke?

The Chapel Car Bride is nicely written and has an interesting concept.  I had not heard about chapel cars (click link for history) previously and it was interesting to find out more about them.  I was, though, disappointed with Judith Miller’s latest work.  It was nicely written, but it was not up to her usual standard.  The characters were not fleshed out or brought to life (flat).  Hope is a naïve, upbeat, devout young woman who believes the best in everyone (I am surprised little birds did not fly around her head singing sweet tunes).  Luke is the poor, handsome yet godly man who struggles with his cynicism of Kirby (yawn).  The story builds up to Kirby and what he has been doing in Finch.  The conclusion to this storyline is very anticlimactic.  All the sudden it is over.  I thought it was wrapped up to quickly and neatly.  The pace of the book is slow.  When you keep checking to see if you are closer to the end, you know the book is creeping along.  I give The Chapel Car Bride 3 out of 5 stars (it is okay).  It is a sweet romance novel, but I just thought it needed more (complexity, depth, feeling).  It was too predictable for me.  Some issues are never discussed in detail (the father’s illness and recovery as well as the mining accident are good examples).  There is a light, Christian element throughout the book (information about Bible stories and prayer).  I have read all of Judith Miller’s works, and this is the first one to disappoint me.  

I appreciate you visiting today.  I will see you when I return to review another novel.  Take care and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader

Friday, May 19, 2017

Edited Out: A Mysterious Detective Mystery

It's Friday!  Barbara Hinske writes the Rosemont series and will soon publish the fifth book. Bringing Them Home will be out on May 23 and is a part of the Kindle Unlimited program (as are all the books in the series).  You do need to read each book in order as they build upon each other.    There is a Facebook group for fans of the Rosemont series.

Edited Out by E.J. Copperman is the second book in A Mysterious Detective Mystery series.  Rachel Goldman lives in Adamstown, New Jersey and writes the Duffy Madison mystery series.  She is working on her latest book, but she is having difficulties.  Ever since meeting a man named Duffy Madison she keeps confusing her make-believe character with the real man.  It is affecting her writing in a very negative way.  Rachel has been avoiding Duffy’s calls for the last few months.  Rachel’s assistant, Paula points that avoiding him may not be the best tactic.  Rachel believes Duffy is really Damien Mosley who disappeared five years prior.  It just so happens that Duffy appeared five years ago.  He has no memory of his life before that time.  Rachel calls Duffy and he shows up ready to explore Damien’s life.  Another investigation was not what Rachel had in mind, but maybe she can prove to Duffy that she did not create him.  Is she letting Duffy lead her into another dangerous situation?   Is there a chance that Duffy was created from Rachel’s imagination?  You need to read Edited Out to find out the answers!

I had a difficult time reading Edited Out (I am surprised that I finished it).  I thought the book to be slow paced and tedious.  I had a hard time believing that a rational woman believes that a man sprang forth from her imagination.  A Mysterious Detective Mystery series is not a paranormal series, so I did not understand this logic (am I overthinking it?).  Edited Out is the second book in the series and, in this case, you really do need to read Written Off first.  Otherwise, you will be utterly lost and confused.  Edited Out is the written in the first person from Rachel’s point-of-view.  Rachel’s character feels the need to explain Duffy’s thinking, lack of emotions, and actions as if the reader will not understand it from the reading the narrative (all throughout the book).  Rachel seems to be surprised by Duffy’s actions, the way he talks, thinks, etc.  Even though he is acting exactly how she wrote him (that would be a little freaky at first).  I give Edited Out 2 out of 5 stars (I did not enjoy this one).  I found many items to be repeated frequently throughout the book.  I did not need to be told so many times that writer’s block was “not a thing”, that Rachel is not an investigator, why Duffy lacks emotion, and information about the Tappan Zee Bridge.  At the end of the book, readers are still left wondering if Duffy is a real “human” or he sprang to life five years ago.  Will this continue throughout the whole series?  Will we get one new puzzle piece per book?  I wish the author had made this a paranormal series.  It would have been entertaining to read about a character that sprang to life based on an author’s books.  E.J. Copperman also writes A Haunted Guesthouse Mystery series (which I have read and liked).

I appreciate you visiting today and reading my review.  I am currently reading Return to Huckleberry Hill by Jennifer Beckstrand.  May you have a fun Friday.  Tomorrow I will be sharing my thoughts on The Chapel Car Bride by Judith Miller. Take care and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader