Monday, July 31, 2017

The Dream Keeper's Daughter: A Novel by Emily Colin

Happy Monday!  I hope you had a great weekend.  Emily Colin debut novel was The Memory Thief and has followed it with The Dream Keeper's Daughter. Readers can follow Emily on Amazon and on Twitter (@emilyacolin).  

The Dream Keeper’s Daughter by Emily Colin is a book about two people who wish to find each other.  Dr. Isabel Griffin lives in Charleston, South Carolina with her seven-year-old daughter, Finn.  Finn’s father, Max Adair disappeared eight years ago, and Isabel has not heard from him since.  This is the second time this has happened to Isabel.  Her mother, Julia disappeared in a similar manner six year prior to Max’s disappearance.  While on a dig in Barbados, Isabel receives a call from Max telling her to keep Finn safe.  Hope surges within Isabel that Max is still alive.  Where is he?  Later, one of the students uncovers part of her mother’s custom-made necklace.  How did her necklace end up here?  Isabel heads home to Finn, her dad, and her best friend, Ryan Baxter.  Strange events occur that convince Isabel that Max is alive and trying to reach her.  Will they ever be together again?

The Dream Keeper’s Daughter was a missed opportunity.  I liked the core idea, but I was not a fan of the completed novel (I finished it and said “meh”).  The story alternates chapters between Isabel in the present and Max in the past.  I would just settle into Max’s story when we were back to Isabel. While in the present with Isabel, she would then reminisce about her past with Max (it could get confusing at times).  In the past with Max, he would remember his time with Isabel.  I was not enamored with Isabel (did not like her at all).  Isabel came across as obsessed (in finding Max) and unable to move forward with her life emotionally.  The time difference is never really explained.  Max disappears and is gone eight years, but it is only two weeks for him.   I wish the author had played up Finn’s special abilities.  The supernatural elements were not emphasized or brought to life.  My rating for The Dream Keeper’s Daughter is 2 out of 5 stars.   I thought the story was lackluster and flat (this is one of those books I did not want to finish).   The ending was disappointing and expected.  Readers are left with many unanswered questions (I would be more detailed, but then I would give away key details).  The descriptive relations between Max and Isabel unnecessary (though predictable).  I do want to mention that the book does contain foul language and violence.  The Dream Keeper’s Daughter comes across as a first draft instead of a published novel.  

I appreciate you reading my book evaluation.  I will return on Tuesday to tell you about some of the new releases and to share my thoughts on Covered in Darkness by Heather Sunseri.  May you have a delightful day.  Take care and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Books I Looking Forward to Reading This Summer!

What novels are you looking forward to reading this summer (or this year)?   Here are a few that are in my TBR pile.

An Amish Christmas Love by Amy Clipston, Beth Wiseman, Ruth Reid and Kelly Irvin.  The cover is beautiful on this anthology.  All four novellas look entertaining, but The Christmas Cat by Amy Clipston is the one I am looking forward to the most.  Christmas stories can be uplifting and heartwarming (we all need this in our lives). (September 12)

When the Bishop Needs an Alibi by Vannetta Chapman is the second book in The Amish Bishop Mysteries.  Henry Lapp is an Amish bishop with a unique ability.  He uses his ability to help solve crimes. (August 29)

Assaulted Caramel by Amanda Flower is the first An Amish Candy Shop Mystery series.  I like this authors writing style, and the novel is set in my home state of Ohio (I am from Columbus--Go Buckeyes).  The sleuth is a chocolatier! (August 29)

A Knit Before Dying by Sadie Hartwell is second book in A Tangled Web Mystery series.  I thoroughly enjoyed the first book in the series and have been eagerly awaiting A Knit Before Dying.  Great characters, good mystery and beautiful yarn descriptions! (August 29)

The Girls of Mulberry Lane by Rosie Clarke is the first book in The Mulberry Lane series.  I enjoy reading British novels that take place from the 1930s through the 1950s.  Rosie Clarke has a nice, easy writing style.  I am curious to see what happens on Mulberry Lane in London. (August 1)

I hope you have a wonderful Sunday.  I am be reviewing The Dream Keeper's Daughter by Emily Colin on Monday.  Take care and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Knot What You Think: A Quilting Mystery

Thank you for visiting today.  Isn't the cover of Knot What You Think beautiful? The quilt is just lovely. Mary Marks is the author of A Quilting Mystery series which includes Forget Me Knot, Knot in My Backyard, Gone But Knot Forgotten, and Something's Knot Kosher.  Readers can find out more about Mary Marks on her website.  

Knot What You Think by Mary Marks is the fifth installment in A Quilting Mystery series.  Martha Rose and her friends are settling in to spend the day quilting when Jazz Fletcher arrives.  He was trying to deliver some completed doggie outfits and accessories to Dolleen Doyle.  They had arranged to meet the previous evening, but Dolleen was a no show.  Jazz, though, could hear her dog, Patti barking inside.  Dollen was never without her beloved pooch.  Jazz stopped by again this morning, and, again, there was no answer (just barking).  Martha has a bad feeling, so the group heads to Dolleen’s house in nearby Tarzana.  They peek in Dolleen’s windows and discover her laying in a pool of blood on her kitchen floor.  The quickly enter the house through the unlocked back door, but they are too late to save Dolleen.  Martha calls Detective Arlo Beavers (her ex-boyfriend), a LAPD homicide detective, who rushes over.  After the evidence is processed, Jazz ends up the prime suspect.  Martha puts on her investigator cap and delves into Dolleen’s life.  It turns out that Dolleen was keeping secrets, and they are the key to finding her killer.  Follow Martha Rose and her friends on their quest to capture a murderer in Knot What You Think.

Knot What You Think is nicely written and it has a good pace.  I appreciate that Mary Marks included a character (Martha Rose that has fibromyalgia.  Many people do not understand what sufferers of fibromyalgia experience (it is a misunderstood disease).  The character of Martha Rose is well-developed.   I am, though, tired of her indecision regarding her romantic life.  There is a love triangle (insert groan here) between Martha Rose, Yossi “Crusher” Levy and Arlo Beavers (I am Team Arlo).  I believe the situation will be resolved in the next book in the series (keep your fingers crossed).  The romance takes up too much of the story.  I prefer romantic entanglements to be in the background and not dominate a novel.  I did, though, enjoy Birdie’s wedding at the end of the story.  Birdie deserves her happy ending.  My rating for Knot What You Think 3 out of 5 stars.  The mystery is slightly complex and gets more interesting in the second half of the book.  The suspect pool is small, and I thought one individual (the killer) stood out.  I did like the quilt descriptions provided in the story especially the one on charm quilts.  I found the information about the Jewish faith and their traditions (Passover was celebrated in the story) to be very informative.  I wish there had been less repetition of certain details (the “do rag” Yossi wears on his head and why, Yossi’s job, why Martha Rose has trust issues, details about Jazz Fletcher’s relationship with Russell Watson, the type of car Jazz drives are a few examples).  Knot What You Think can be a read without having enjoyed the previous four novels in the series (all that you need to know is included).  At the end of Knot What You Think, readers are left with a cliffhanger.  Who is behind Martha Rose at Birdie’s wedding?

If you enjoy my reviews, please consider joining my blog (see right hand side of page).  I sincerely hope you have a nice, relaxing day.  I am reading Cat about Town by Cate Conte.  If you like to read Christian novel or the works of Lauraine Snelling, check out The Promise of Dawn which releases on August 1. I will return soon with another book review.  Take care and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader

Friday, July 28, 2017

The Forgotten Family of Liverpool: The Mersey Trilogy

Happy Friday!  Have you tried British historical novels?  There are some wonderful novels available that will take you back to 1930s through 1950s in England.  A few of my favorite authors of these novels are Donna Douglas, Kitty Neale, Rosie Clarke, Nadine Dorries and Daisy Styles.  I now get to add Pam Howes to the list.  

The Forgotten Family of Liverpool by Pam Howes is the second installment in The Mersey Trilogy.  The story starts in June of 1952.  Dora Rodgers is a dressmaker in Liverpool, England living with her two daughters, Carol and Jackie.  She has recently separated from her husband, Joe after he had an affair with Ivy Bennett.  Ivy and Joe work at the Royal Ordnance Factory which provides the house Dora is living in with the girls.  One afternoon there is a knock at the door and Dora opens it to find a Mr. Oliver from Department of Children’s Welfare.  They have received a complaint about Carol being neglected and that her behavior has deteriorated.  Mr. Oliver is removing Carol from Dora’s care and into Joe’s.   Dora is not allowed any contact with Carol.  Dora is determined to fight for her daughter but circumstances work against her.  Dora moves forward with her life while working to improve her circumstances and get Carol returned to her care.  But Dora’s journey along life’s highway will be filled with hairpin curves, potholes and speed bumps.  See how Dora fares in The Forgotten Family of Liverpool.

The Forgotten Family of Liverpool is well-written and has a nice, steady pace. The characters and their situations are realistic.  I could easily put myself into Dora’s shoes (not Ivy’s though).  It is an emotional story that draws readers into the lives of the Rodgers’ family.  While this is the second story in The Mersey Trilogy, The Forgotten Family of Liverpool can be read alone.  I did not have the pleasure of reading The Lost Daughter of Liverpool, and I had no problem.  Readers are brought up-to-date on what has occurred in the characters’ lives.  My rating for The Forgotten Family of Liverpool is 4.25 out of 5 stars (I liked this story).  The book does contain British slang and terminology.  Most of the terms meanings (or American counterpart) can be discerned from the text. The Forgotten Family of Liverpool is a heartfelt story that will have you cheering for Dora and hoping for the worst to happen to Ivy.  Fans of Donna Douglas, Rosie Clarke, and Nadine Dorries, will enjoy reading The Forgotten Family of Liverpool.  The book will remind you of Call the Midwife (the families that the midwives are responsible for).  

I hope you found my review helpful.  The next book I will be discussing is Knot What You Think by Mary Marks.  I hope you have a good and uneventful day. Take care and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader

Thursday, July 27, 2017

You, Me and the Voodoo Queen: A Malveau Curse Mystery

Welcome!  Covered in Darkness by Heather Sunseri will be out on August 1.  It is the third book in the In Darkness series.  The first two books in the series are Exposed in Darkness and Cut in Darkness.  If you have a Nook, Covered in Darkness is available now!

You, Me and the Voodoo Queen by G.A. Chase is the second novel in A Malveaux Curse Mystery series.  Kendell Summer is enjoying a day with her boyfriend, Myles Garrison.  A steamboat passes by playing a tune that Kendell recognizes, she says goodbyes to Myles, and runs to jump aboard the boat.  Her friends and fellow bandmates are in trouble and need her assistance.  It seems that Kendell is not done with the Malveaux curse (or the curse is not done with Summer).  The kidnappers want Baron Malveaux’s possessions in exchange for Kendell’s friends.  Kendell and Myles team up with Madam Delphine de Galpion, the voodoo practitioner, to outwit the Broussard’s.  Unfortunately, things do not go as planned and Myles life ends up endangered.  Kendell sets out to save Myles and eliminate the threats against him.  Can she accomplish the task in time?

You, Me and the Voodoo Queen is not what I expected.  G.A. Chase is the husband of Deanna Chase who writes entertaining paranormal mystery novels.  What I love about Deanna’s novels is missing from You, Me and the Voodoo Queen (lacking in humor, the easy flow, and great characters).  I found the writing to be awkward (clunky) and the pace slow (gets better at the end of the story).  Information is repeated throughout the story.  You, Me and the Voodoo Queen is not a stand-alone novel.  It is necessary to read Dog Days of Voodoo or you will be lost.  The Malveaux curse is complicated with various components and there are numerous characters in the book (too many).  My rating for You, Me and the Voodoo Queen is 3 out of 5 stars (it is okay, but I like the premise—the curse).  I thought the main characters were underdeveloped and lacked depth (especially Myles).  The author is trying to jam too much into one short book (218 pages).  I do want to mention that Kendell and Myles have graphic intimate relations in the book.  At the end of You, Me and the Voodoo Queen, readers are left with a cliffhanger.  We must wait until Voodooed Again to find out what Kendell will need to do to save someone she loves.

Thank you for stopping by today and reading my book evaluation.  I will be sharing my thoughts on The Forgotten Family of Liverpool by Pam Howes on Friday.  I hope you have a fabulous Thursday! Until next time, take care and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Accidental Sire: A Half-Moon Hollow Novel

Welcome.  The Forgotten Family of Liverpool by Pam Howes, the second book in The Mersey Trilogy, came out today.  It takes readers back to the 1950s in Liverpool, England.  I am featuring Molly Harper and her A Half-Moon Hollow series today.  If you are a fan of her books, I suggest you check out her website and Facebook page.

Accidental Sire by Molly Harper is the latest delightful installment in A Half-Moon Hollow series.  Meghan Keene is an undergrad at the University of Kentucky.  She is enjoying a mixer (human/vampire) party hosted by Ophelia Lambert (as a punishment) and meets Ben Overby.  They enjoy a lovely evening, kiss goodnight and then Meghan is hit with a 45lb. dumbbell on her way back inside her dorm (vampires were playing Ultimate Frisbee).  Thankfully, Meghan signed the consent form to be turned in case of emergency.  A volunteer sire is quickly obtained and Meghan is turned.  When Meghan wakes up, Ben is in her room (you just know this is not going to end well).  A thirsty Meghan takes a little “sip” (he gave permission) and then Ben collapses.  Jane Jameson-Nightengale is summoned, and she whisks the pair away to Half-Moon Hollow.  Open Accidental Sire for another fun adventure with Jane, Gabriel, Ophelia, Dick, Georgie and friends. 

Accidental Sire is an amusing and engaging novel.   I was pulled into the story from the very beginning (and I did not pop out until I finished the last word).  I did not want Accidental Sire to conclude.  I giggled, chuckled, and outright laughed while reading this paranormal mystery novel (there are some great one-liners and plenty of snark).  Accidental Sire is well-written, easy to read, and has a fast pace.  I appreciated that Ms. Harper has given us a new vampire with unique traits (spoilers).  If you have not had the pleasure of reading A Half-Moon Hollow Novel previously, I do not suggest you start with Accidental Sire.  I can guarantee you will be lost.  While Accidental Sire focuses on Ben’s story, characters from the previous novels are present (actually, all of them including creepy Georgie).  Their lives and stories have been told in the previous books in the series (which are equally delightful).  I am rating Accidental Sire 5 out of 5 stars (I loved it).  I especially liked that readers have had the opportunity to see these original characters grow and develop over the course of the series (fourteen books approximately).  The biggest change has happened to Jane.  It is amazing to see how far Jane has come since Nice Girls Don’t Have Fangs.  At the beginning of reach chapter are tips on how to raise an “unplanned vampire” (humorous).   Accidental Sire has romance, suspense, a unicorn room, mystery, vampires, werewolves, humor, and so much more.  I wish there were more books like this one.

I am currently reading The Address by Fiona Davis which will be published on August 1.  Next time I will be reviewing You, Me and the Voodoo Queen by G.A. Chase.  May you have a wonderful Wednesday.  Take care and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader  

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

A Ghostly Secret: A Ghostly Southern Mystery

Welcome!  There are some new books coming out today.  The titles include:  The Wilding Sisters by Eve Chase, The Dream Keeper's Daughter by Emily Colin, Accidental Sire by Molly Harper, Let the Dead Speak by Jane Casey, Muffin to Fear by Victoria Hamilton, A Toast to Murder by Allyson K. Abbott, Knot What You Think by Mary Marks, The Stepchild by Joanne Fluke, Addressed to Kill by Jean FlowersWrong Side of the Paw by Laurie Cass, and A Ghostly Secret by Tonya Kappes.  I hope you find something new to add to your TBR pile!

A Ghostly Secret by Tonya Kappes is the seventh novel in A Ghostly Southern Mystery series.  Emma Lee Raines owns Eternal Slumber Funeral Home in Sleepy Hollow, Kentucky.  Emma Lee is a “Betweener”.  She has the ability to help murdered spirits cross over to the other side by getting them closure (bringing their killer to justice).  Betsy, a young girl, and a cat named Mr. Whiskers are Emma Lee’s latest clients.  Betsy has been present for the last six months and has yet to remember what happened to her.  With a little help from Debbie Dually, a medium, Emma Lee discovers that Betsy died twenty years ago.  Sheriff Jack Henry Ross needs new evidence before he can open the case.  Emma Lee gets help from an unexpected source and sets out on the trail of Betsy’s killer.  Emma Lee is still dealing with the death of her sister, Charlotte Rae (why does everyone go by two names in small Southern towns).  She can always count on Granny to liven things up and shake her out of her doldrums.   Emma Lee mistakenly tells Granny a secret which leads to a surprise party (it will have you chuckling and shaking your head in disbelief) and a serious talk between Jack Henry and Emma Lee.  Come to Sleepy Hollow for Emma Lee’s latest ghost adventure in A Ghostly Secret.

A Ghostly Secret is an entertaining paranormal mystery novel.  The story contains good writing with a nice, easy pace. The characters are well-developed and multifaceted.  While I do find Granny annoying and over-the-top at times, she is entertaining.  Granny provides humor (a lightness) that the story needs.  There is romance in the story, but it does not dominate the story (thank heavens).  I really appreciate the well-rounded, balanced story—good characters, mystery, spirits, animals, romance, family, friendship, ghosts and more.  My rating for A Ghostly Secret is 4.5 out of 5 stars.  If the whodunit in A Ghostly Secret had been harder to solve, it would be a 5 star review.   I identified the perpetrator early in the story (insert sigh).   It was great that the mystery was a cold case (and nicely plotted out too). I find that refreshing (instead of the main character stumbling over a dead body in the first chapter).  I liked the new character introduced in A Ghostly Secret (spoiler).  This woman is smart, observant, and friendly.  She is a great addition to the series.  I am not sure if A Ghostly Secret can be read as a stand-alone.  The main details are present (for example:  how Emma Lee obtained her abilities, romantic history with Jack Henry, her families history with Eternal Slumber), but you might be a little lost (not knowing how Charlotte Rae died). A Ghostly Secret captured my attention and held it throughout the whole story (which is so rare).  I look forward to reading the next installment in A Ghostly Southern Mystery series

I would love to get comfortable in a chair and read, but I need to do some housework.  The last time my mother "helped" me, she broke the vacuum (I had to buy a new one).  I will be back tomorrow to share my thoughts on Accidental Sire by Molly Harper.  Take care and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader

Monday, July 24, 2017

Two Nights: A Novel by Kathy Reichs

Happy Sunday!  I want to share two upcoming books with you today.  A Ghostly Secret by Tonya Kappes is being released on Tuesday, July 25.  It is the seventh book in A Ghostly Southern Mystery series. Molly Harper's Accidental Sire will also be out on Tuesday.  

Two Nights is the newest novel by author Kathy Reichs.  For the past six years, Sunday “Sunnie” Night has been living on remote Goat’s Island (off Charleston, South Carolina).  Sunday receives an unexpected visit from her former foster father, Beau Beaumonde.  Beau has a case that needs someone with Sunday’s skill set.  One year and a week ago, Opaline Drucker lost her daughter and grandson to a bombing at a Hebrew girls’ school in Chicago.  Her granddaughter, Stella was not found.  Opaline wants Sunday to get answers and she is willing to pay handsomely for Sunday’s services.  It will be a challenging task and it brings long buried memories to the surface.   What happened to Stella?  Can Sunday get answers for Opaline?  What will happen to Sunday along the way?

Two Nights was a hard book for me to read.  I was hoping for a fast-paced suspense novel (the blurb had captured my interest).  Two Nights is a slow starter.  I was never able to get into the story.  I ended up skimming through some of it (i.e. speed reading).  I was not a fan of Sunday Night.  She is intelligent, tough, stubborn, inventive, sarcastic, distant, does not trust easily, and does not let people get close to her.   I think it was hard to connect with Sunday because readers are given few details on her past.  We get little bits during the story with the main details revealed at the end of the book (too late).  The one thing I liked about Sunday was her pet squirrel, Bob. My rating for Two Nights is 3 out of 5 stars.  Two Nights is supposed to be a suspense novel, but I did not feel it.  I particularly disliked the alternating chapters (which do not make sense until the end).  Add to that every single detail of Sunday’s day (what she did, where she went, what she ate, flopping on the bed, etc.).  The story needed something more.  I think it would have helped if the book had been written in the third person (instead of first person).  The mystery seemed complicated, but I accurately guessed the outcome early in the story.  There are some parts that are a little implausible.  The case has gone cold (despite the Chicago PD’s best efforts), but Sunday can get a lead right away and solve it within a short period of time.  Two Nights does not have the same appeal as Ms. Reichs other creations.  Two Nights does contain violence (quite a bit) and foul language.  I am a fan of Kathy Reichs and Brendan Reichs Virals series. I have loved each book in the series (great characters, fast pace, good plots).

This review was a hard one for me to construct.  I had a difficult time conveying my thoughts.  I hope you had a pleasant weekend.  I will be evaluating A Ghostly Secret by Tonya Kappes on Tuesday. Thank you  for visiting, take care and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Dead Storage: A Maggie McDonald Mystery

Thank you for stopping by today.  Cindy Woodsmall writes The Amish of Summer Grove series.  The third and final book will be published on August 15. It is called Gathering the Threads.  If you have not started the series, check out this BOGO offer from the publisher.  Mary Feliz is the author of A Maggie McDonald Mystery series.  The books in the series are Address to Die For, Scheduled to Death, and Dead Storage.  

Dead Storage by Mary Feliz is the third installment in A Maggie McDonald Mystery series.  Maggie McDonald lives in Orchard View, California with her husband and two sons.  She owns Simplicity Itself Organizing Services.  Maggie is ready to start her new job decluttering Stephen Laird and Jason Mueller’s beautiful Victorian home before they embark on their remodel project.  Jason has been deployed to Texas on an important assignment, but he wants Stephen and Maggie to proceed as planned.  The next morning Maggie arrives and Stephen is not at home.  She notices Stephen’s dog, Munchkin limping towards home without his owner (and they are always together).  While at the vet with Munchkin, Maggie receives a call from Paolo Bianchi, Jason’s partner on the force.  Stephen is in jail and will only speak with Maggie.  After promising to not tell Jason, Stephen tells Maggie the story.  Stephen stumbled upon a murder at the Golden Dragon, and he is considered the prime suspect in the death of Mr. Xiang, the owner.  He has a good reason, though, for not talking to the police.  Stephen needs Maggie to find the culprit before the local prison becomes his permanent home.

Dead Storage is nicely written, has a good pace and easy to read.  I like the author’s writing style.  While it is the third book in the series, it can be read alone.  The details on Maggie’s background and family are in Dead Storage.  Maggie is a good character with an understanding family.  I particularly enjoyed Maggie’s tips at the beginning of each chapter (on storage, organizing, decluttering—i.e. taking care of your junk).  My rating for Dead Storage is 3 out of 5 stars.  The mystery was straightforward (some readers will be surprised).  Avid mystery readers should be able to solve the whodunit before they hit the halfway mark (at the latest).  The ending is a little anticlimactic (disappointing).  It was wrapped up a little too neatly and easily.  While the cozy element is enjoyable, I wanted a more complicated mystery.  It would be nice if it was hard to solve and, maybe, had a good twist (has more meat to it).  The author addressed some serious issues in Dead Storage (PTSD among veterans and the plight of the homeless).   Dead Storage is a good “escape from reality” book.  The type to snuggle up with on a wet afternoon.  

I will be reviewing Two Nights by Kathy Reichs on Monday. I hope that you have a satisfying day. Take care and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader

Saturday, July 22, 2017

30 Second Death: A Tobi Tobias Mystery

Welcome!  Laura Bradford is the author of An Emergency Dessert Squad Mystery series, An Amish Mystery series, Jenkins and Burns Mysteries, A Tobi Tobias Mystery series and Southern Sewing Circle Mystery series (as Elizabeth Lynn Casey).  Readers can find Ms. Bradford on Facebook (like her page).  You can follow her on Amazon and they will email when a new book is listed for sale.

30 Second Death by Laura Bradford is the second book in A Tobi Tobias Mystery series.  Tobi’s friend Carter McDade needs a little help.  He is a hairdresser for the Central West End Theater and has been having a hard time with the temperamental and troublesome Fiona Renoir.  Carter ended up having an extremely vocal argument with her at the theater and is afraid of losing his job (which he loves).  Frank Martindale, the theater’s owner, will not go against Fiona, because she is his niece (which is why she has a job along with the fact that no one else would put up with her antics and diva attitude).  Tobi decides to help Carter by giving Fiona a role in the Salonquility commercial.  Tobi immediately regrets her act of kindness when Fiona causes drama on the set (upsetting the crew).  They get through the first two segments of the commercial and take a short break before they start the hair dying portion of the commercial.  Tobi is getting ready to return to the set when she hears Carter scream.  She rushes in and finds him staring at Fiona on the floor—dead!  Thanks to the very public argument Carter had with Fiona, he is suspect number one.  Grandpa Stu returns to town to help Tobi with the investigation and spend a little quality time with Martha Rapple (which makes Tobi cringe).  Tobi, with Grandpa Stu’s assistance, needs to whittle down the long suspect list (no one liked Fiona) and find the killer.  Will she be able to clear Carter’s name before the cops slap him behind bars?

30 Second Death is an easy to read book (and can be a stand-alone novel).  There are some cute moments in the story and the details the author allowed me to envision it in my head (an example is Rudder described in pj’s, nightcap and slippers).  I wish, though, that the author had devoted more time and effort into the mystery.  It was obvious who would be murdered and how (the nasty person is always bumped off).  I identified the killer early in the novel (very limited suspect pool).   I am rating 30 Second Death 3 out of 5 stars.  Tobi has the maturity of a teenager girl at times (with regard to her personal life).  Grandpa Stu’s relationship with Martha Rapple makes her want to throw up.  This fact is frequently mentioned.  Then the parrot, Rudder makes fun of her laugh (snort, snort).  She gets annoyed with the bird (over and over).  I admit that I got annoyed with it being mentioned every single time she called the pet store or visited it (repetition of details seems to be a common theme).  The whodunit took a backseat in 30 Second Death.  More time was devoted to Tobi’s relationship with Andy (and the current problem they are experiencing), Mary Fran’s noise problem at the pet store, Tobi’s need to have sweets and chocolate on hand, and Mary Fran’s high school reunion (and getting the chance to reconnect with the guy she liked in high school).   I just felt 30 Second Death was lacking (I wanted more, but that is me).  Readers who prefer a light, humorous “cozy” mystery will enjoy 30 Second Death.  The first book in the series is Death in Advertising.

The next book in A Tobi Tobias Mystery series is And Death Goes To . . . which will be published on December 5.  Thank you for visiting today.  The next book I will be reviewing is Dead Storage by Mary Feliz.  May you have a relaxing day. Take care and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader

Friday, July 21, 2017

The House of Memory: A Pluto's Snitch Mystery

Thank you for stopping by today.  Carolyn Haines is the author A Sarah Booth Delaney Mystery series, Fear Familiar series, The Pluto's Snitch series and Familiar Trouble.  Fans of her work can like her author page on Facebook, follow her on Amazon and Goodreads.  You can find out more information about Ms. Haines and her books on her website (  You can also sign up for her mailing list on her website.

The House of Memory by Carolyn Haines is the second book in The Pluto’s Snitch series.  Raissa James and Reginald Proctor are traveling toward Montgomery on a steamship for their latest case. Raissa and Reginald are partners in the Pluto’s Snitch PI Agency that specializes in the occult.  Zelda Sayre (aka Mrs. F. Scott Fitzgerald) needs their help with her friend, Camilla Granger.  Camilla is engaged to marry David Simpson.  David was showing Camilla their new home when she became violent and attacked with him a knife. Camilla has no memory of the event.  After a second incident, Camilla agreed to be admitted to Bryce Hospital.  Camilla’s overbearing mother, Maude Granger will soon take drastic measures if Camilla’s situation is not rectified.  While staying in Montgomery, Raissa hears about the rash of young women who have gone missing in the area and later are found deceased—and the deceased want Raissa’s help!  What caused Camilla to attack her fiancĂ© and who is hurting these young women?  Tag along on Raissa and Reginald’s latest case in The House of Memory.

When I started reading The House of Memory, I was drawn into the story.  After a while, though, my interest started to wane.  The pace of the novel slackened and the numerous details bog down the story.  An irritation (to me) is the constant repetition of information.  The details of the cases are repeated over and over (it is odd, though, that we are never told what year it is).  There are some good ideas present, but I just felt it needed some work (nothing a little rewriting and a good editor couldn’t fix).  My rating for The House of Memory is 3 out of 5 stars.  The mystery of the missing girls was straightforward and identifying the culprit was a snap.  I did appreciate the mystery behind Camilla’s odd behavior.  I do wish the author would have Raissa embrace her gift (and learn more about it).  It feels like she is flirting with the paranormal, but is not sure if she wants to make a commitment.  The House of Memory is the second book in the series, but it can be read alone.  The author rehashes what occurred in The Book of Beloved. At the end of The House of Memory, we are given a glimpse at Raissa and Reginald’s next case.  The House of Memory is available on Kindle Unlimited.

I hope you have found my review helpful.  I am currently reading The Forgotten Family of Liverpool by Pam Howes.  May you have a incredible day.  I will be sharing my thoughts on 30 Second Death by Laura Bradford (A Tobi Tobias Mystery).  Take care and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader

Thursday, July 20, 2017

A Name Unknown by Roseanna M. White

Welcome!  Roseanna M. White is a Christian author who has written Ladies of the Manor series, Culper Ring series, and Giver of Wonders.  Ms. White can be found on Facebook, Goodreads, and Amazon
A Name Unknown is the first book in Shadows over England series by Roseanna M. White.  We are taken back to 1914 when tensions are on the rise throughout Europe (war has yet to break out).  Rosemary Gresham is a thief in London who helps support her “family”.  The group consists of twelve orphans who have banded together and become a family.  Rosemary has done two previous jobs for Mr. V and now he is offering her a third with a handsome payout.   Mr. V wants Rosemary to find documented proof of Peter Holstein’s loyalties.  He is loyal to England or Germany? Peter is of German descent and has the ear of the King of England, George V.   War is sure to be declared soon and time is of the essence.  Peter has just returned home to Kensey Manor from London.  He is happy to be away from the crowds and return to his writing.  Peter needs important documents to be found in his library or what his friend, Gryffyn calls the cave.  With troubling times coming, he needs the documents that prove his nationality (his loyalty).  Rosemary arrives as a librarian to apply for the position Peter has available (to sort the items in the cave).  As time passes, Peter’s character is revealed to Rosemary.  He is a kind, Christian man, but few people get to know Peter because of his stutter.  Will Rosemary find the documentation she needs to complete the job?  Or will she find a far greater prize in Cornwall?

A Name Unknown is set in beautiful Cornwall.  I thought the story idea was interesting (and the cover is just lovely), but the execution (for me) was lacking.  The book starts out with a good pace, but then it slows down to a crawl.  The story gets bogged down (too much detail), and I felt like I was sinking in quicksand (I kept looking to see if I was any closer to the end).  A little rewriting and editing would have made a significant difference.  My rating for A Name Unknown is 3 out of 5 stars.  The Christian element is moderate (just the right amount).  Peter is a Christian man who prays and leads by example (many people look up to him and correspond with him).  I particularly enjoyed Rosemary finding comfort in the Bible and God (becoming a Christian).  It was the best part of the book.  The mystery element was not complicated, and I easily identified the culprit. The mysterious Mr. V was an intriguing figure, and I believe people will be surprised by his motives.  The romance plays out slowly over the course of book and had an expected outcome.  A Name Unknown does have a charming ending.   A Name Unknown has some good elements, but I was not wowed.  It needs some reworking to improve the flow and eliminate the extraneous (it is too long).  

I wanted to let you know that Tamera Alexander's To Wager Her Heart will be published on August 8. It is the third A Belle Meade Plantation Novel.  May you have a very special day.  I will return on Friday to review The House of Memory by Carolyn Haines.  Take care and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader 

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Familiar Trouble: A Familiar Legacy Novel

Greetings!  I had the best surprise this weekend.  A neighbor that I have not met before saw me outside and asked if I owned a calico cat.  Miss Penny, our long haired calico, disappeared almost a year ago from our yard (an escapee), and I was never able to find her (despite my walking and driving around calling her name).  She has been two houses down this entire time!  Miss Penny lucked out finding such kind people to take care of her.  My mother and I are thrilled to have her home.  

Familiar Trouble by Carolyn Haines is the first book in Familiar Legacy series.  Tammy Lynn owns the Book Basket in Wetumpka, Alabama where she lives with her cat, Trouble.  Tammy is at Rook’s Vantage stargazing when she hears a noise.  She walks over, investigates and is attacked by a person in black.  Tammy ends up unconscious. When she awakes, she finds that all four tires of her vehicle have been slashed.  Deputy Aiden Waters transferred to Wetumpka six months prior.  He is on the trail of the Silk Stalking Killer (SSK) who killed his wife.  Debby Caldwell, a local bank worker, has disappeared and Trouble has found a vital clue near where Tammy was attacked.  Did Tammy interrupt SSK the night before?  Aiden has begun to care for Tammy and now her life is threatened. He does not want to lose another woman he cares about to this serial killer. Trouble puts his detective skills to work to help Aiden and Tammy catch the elusive SSK.  

Familiar Trouble is a spin-off of the Familiar series by Carolyn Haines.  In this series, we are introduced to Trouble, Familiar’s son who is a fan of Sherlock Holmes.  I thought Familiar Trouble was an easy to read cozy mystery.  I enjoyed the sections written in Trouble’s point-of-views.    I found them entertaining and would have enjoyed more.   My rating for Familiar Trouble is 3 out of 5 stars. I felt, though, that the characters lacked depth.  The author did not provide enough background detail on Tammy Lynn (more detail is provided on Trouble than Tammy).  The mystery idea was interesting, but I identified the killer before the first body turned up.   There is a small suspect pool and one individual stood out.  It would have been better if the author had included more action and had upped the suspense factor.  The romance factor is prominent and moves quickly.  I found many details repeated several times throughout the story (like the author was padding the story).  If you are burnt out and looking for a little light reading, then take a look at Familiar Trouble.  The next book in the series is Trouble in Dixie by Rebecca Barrett.  It turns out (I found this out after I read the book) that each book in the Familiar Legacy series is being written by a different author (and seem to have different main characters--Trouble is the one constant).

I appreciate you reading my latest review.  I am currently reading The Dream Keeper's Daughter by Emily Colin (it is way too long).  May each of you have a wonderful day.  I will be reviewing A Name Unknown by Roseanna M. White next time.  Take care and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Killer Party: A Tourist Trap Mystery

I hope you are having a good week.  Killer Party by Lynn Cahoon, Room for Doubt by Nancy Cole Silverman, The Strange Disappearance of a Bollywood Star by Vaseem Kahn and Dead Storage by Mary Feliz were published today.   Lynn Cahoon is the writer of A Tourist Trap Mystery series and A Cat Latimer Mystery series.  Lynn Cahoon can be found on Facebook and more details about her books on her website.  

Killer Party by Lynn Cahoon is the ninth book in A Tourist Trap Mystery series.  Jill Gardner is packing for a weekend getaway with her boyfriend, Greg King and his friends.  Greg’s childhood friend, Levi Walker is getting married, and he is holding a stag party weekend in South Cove at The Castle.  Jill is looking forward to enjoying the spa services and escaping Aunt Jackie’s wedding planning while Greg reconnects with his friends.  On Saturday, the men go on a boat excursion to “fish” (ingest alcohol) while Jill shows the ladies around South Cove (it seems that Greg “volunteered” Jill for the task).  It gives Jill an opportunity to introduce herself to newcomer, Vladimir Petrov who opened a Russian collectibles shop.  Early the next morning (around 4 a.m.), Greg and Jill are awakened by Brenda Morgan, manager of The Castle.  A dead man has been found in the pool.  Greg runs downstairs and discovers it is his friend, Levi.  Because of Greg’s close connection with the victim, he is not allowed to investigate the crime.  Mayor Baylor asks Bakerstown PD to step in.  This does not stop Greg and Jill from conducting their own inquiry into Levi’s murder especially when the detectives focus on Greg.  Could one of Greg’s friends committed this homicide?  Tag along with Jill on her latest adventure in Killer Party.

Killer Party is easy to read, has good writing and has a nice steady pace.  Each book in A Tourist Trap Mystery series builds upon the previous (they are not stand alone books).  We get to know a little more about the characters and see them change/grow.  Killer Party focuses more on the cozy element (food galore, Jill adjusting to living with Greg, Jill out jogging, Emma, shopping, Toby getting over Sasha, Aunt Jackie planning her wedding, Aunt Jackie annoying the employees of the coffee shop, Jill spends a lot of time reading, Jill getting ready for a new class at college, and Aunt Jackie going to the doctor).  It is an easy, breezy type of book that is perfect to read while lounging by the pool or at the beach.  My rating for Killer Party is 3.5 out of 5 stars.  The mystery is made to seem complex.  Unfortunately, I identified the killer before Levi (I just knew he would end up belly up) turned up dead in the pool.  There are a limited number of suspects (one really stands out).  The characters in Killer Party seemed grumpy (especially Aunt Jackie).  I liked how Lynn Cahoon found a way to work Cat Latimer into the story (from Ms. Cahoon’s A Cat Latimer Mystery series).  I believe, though, that Greg and Jill may be moving too fast.  There are still many details they do not know about each other (they really need to talk more).  Killer Party ends with a cliffhanger.  Readers will have to wait until the next A Tourist Trap Mystery to find out what is going on with Aunt Jackie.

For readers who enjoy paranormal mystery novels, Molly Harper's Accidental Sire releases on July 24.  I am a fan of the Half-Moon Hollow series and Ms. Harper did not disappoint with Accidental Sire.  I will be reviewing Familiar Trouble by Carolyn Haines on Wednesday.  May you have a delightful day.  Take care and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader