Thursday, August 31, 2017

The Promise of a Letter: An Amish Letters Novel

Thank you for visiting today.  My cold is still present, but I can get up and do small things around the house.  I am just thankful the debilitating migraines have eased up.  I wanted to mentioned that Ax to Grind by Tonya Kappes is out in paperback.  The kindle version will be published on September 19. It is the third book in A Kenni Lowry Mystery series.

The Promise of a Letter by Kathleen Fuller is the second An Amish Letters Novel.  It is August in Birch Creek, Ohio.  Roman Raber left his Amish community of Draperville, but things have not gone as planned.  He wishes to go to college to become an engineer, but he cannot get the funding he needs.  Roman receives a missive telling him his beloved grandmother has passed away.  She left him a letter suggesting that he reconcile with his brother, Daniel.  Roman knows it will not be easy, but he does know it is the right decision.  Roman knows that Daniel will not make the task easy, but Roman is hoping Daniel will forgive him in time.

Leanna Chupp is an unusual Amish woman.  She is twenty-four, 6-foot-tall, unmarried and works at Daniel Raber’s small engine repair shop.  Leanna enjoys her work (has a knack for it) and is happy with her independence.  Shortly after Roman returns to the community and starts working at Raber’s Small Engine Repair, Leanna finds herself out of a job without a warning or a reason.  An accident brings Roman and Leanna together to work towards a mutual goal.  They slowly get to know each other, and Leann begins to envision a different future for herself.  But is Roman ready to commit to the Amish community?  Will Daniel be able to forgive his brother?

The Promise of a Letter is a well-written, has a steady pace and beautiful setting.  I liked the characters especially Leanna Chupp.  I found her to be a refreshing change.  I appreciated that she had an unusual occupation and that she was not afraid to be herself.  It was nice that the pair become friends and get to know each other before the romance develops.  The story had good life lessons (giving and accepting forgiveness, power of prayer, holding on to your faith, gossip).  My favorite was the harmful effects of rumors/gossip.  The Christian element is noticeable, but it was light (handled very well).  My rating for The Promise of a Letter is 4 out of 5 stars (I liked it).  I did feel that the ending was rushed.   The Promise of a Letter is a sweet, heartwarming story with good messages.  I am looking forward to reading the next book in An Amish Letters Novel series that will contain Ivy’s story (Words from the Heart in February 2018).  Written in Love is the first book in the series.  Each book in An Amish Letter Novel series can be read independently. 

I appreciate you reading my review.  I am currently reading A Tale of Two Kitties by Sofie Kelly (cute story).  On Friday I will be sharing my thoughts on When the Bishop Needs an Alibi by Vannetta Chapman.  May each of you have a smashing Thursday.  Take care and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

A Knit Before Dying: A Tangled Web Mystery

Sweet cover!
Welcome!  It is hard to believe that August is almost at an end.  When the Bishop Needs an Alibi by Vannetta Chapman is out early.  It is the second novel in The Amish Bishop Mysteries.  Bishop Henry Lapp is soon embroiled in another murder and this time he is at the top of the suspect list.
A Knit Before Dying by Sadie Hartwell is the second cozy mystery in A Tangled Web Mystery series.  Josie Blair owns Miss Marple Knits as well as the building next to it in Dorset Falls, Connecticut.  Josie has recently leased to Lyndon Bailey and his business partner, Harry Oglethorpe for Nutmeg Antiques and Curiosities.  Josie purchases a box of beautiful (and one a little unusual) handcrafted doilies from Lyndon after he arrives.  The day after the weekly knitting meetings, Josie heads over to give Lyndon some brownies.  She walks in to find a stranger looking very pale standing in the middle of the shop.  Josie goes to where the man is looking and finds Lyndon on the floor behind the checkout counter stabbed with old sheep shears.  The stranger is Lyndon’s business partner, Harry.  The police quickly zero in on Harry as the killer.  Josie feels the solution is not so simple.  She exchanges her knitting needles for a magnifying glass as she searches for clues and suspects.  Who could have wanted to harm Dorset Falls newest citizen?

A Knit Before Dying may be the second book in A Tangled Web Mystery series, but it can be read alone.  I do, though, recommend the delightful Yarned and Dangerous (first book in series).  I was hooked with Yarned and Dangerous and could not wait to get my hands on A Knit Before Dying.  I thought A Knit Before Dying was easy to read and had nice, relatable characters (there is a nice mix too).  I appreciated the small-town setting and the yarn shop (I want to buy up all the beautiful yarn).  The book has a nice, steady flow which keeps the book moving toward the conclusion.  One of my favorite characters is Josie’s uncle, Eben Lloyd.  He is such a character.  I found myself laughing at his antics (his practical joke was very clever and amusing).  My rating for A Knit Before Dying is 4.5 out of 5 stars (I loved it, but I did accurately solve mystery before reveal).  I thought the mystery was intriguing with its complexity and uniqueness (hooray).  Many readers will be surprised by the outcome (I loved it).  I did feel that food was given too much attention.  I do not need to know each and every item that the main character eats (I have been seeing this a lot lately in cozy mysteries). The romance element was light and nicely handled (thank you Ms. Hartwell).  The ending is sweet and I loved who is teaching Josie to knit.  I will be eagerly awaiting the next installment in A Tangled Web Mystery series.  

Readers can connect with Sadie Hartwell on Facebook (she has giveaways). Thank you for visiting. I am currently reading Ax to Grind by Tonya Kappes. May each of you have a wonderful and wild Wednesday (I will settle for uneventful).  I will be sharing my thoughts on The Promise of a Letter by Kathleen Fuller on Thursday.  Take care and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Assaulted Caramel: An Amish Candy Shop Mystery

Assaulted Caramel by Amanda Flower begins An Amish Candy Shop Mystery series.  Bailey King has rushed to Harvest, Ohio to check on her grandfather, Jebidiah King.  She received a call from grandmother, Clara that his heart condition was worse and he had been taken to the hospital.  Bailey is walking up to Swissmen Sweets (where her grandparents work and live) to sees her grandfather having a disagreement with someone before collapsing (he would not stay in hospital).  Her grandparents are Amish and have a strong work ethic. It was at her grandfather’s side that Bailey learned her love of chocolate.  It turns out that the man arguing with Jebidiah was Tyson Colton.  Tyson has been trying to convince Jebidiah to sell the shop. Tyson has big plans for the town.  The next morning, Bailey heads downstairs to get her phone and finds Tyson Colton stabbed to death in the shop’s kitchen.   It is soon apparent that the police consider Bailey’s grandfather their prime suspect.  Bailey knows that this situation will only worsen her grandfather’s heart condition.  She switches out her sugar thermometer for a deerstalker cap and sets out to find Tyson’s killer. 

I found Assaulted Caramel to be well-written and engaging.  It has an easy writing style which made for an enjoyable read.  The story has real characters, a lovely setting, steady pace and plenty of humor.  One of my favorite things in the book (besides the luscious chocolate and fudge descriptions) was Jethro, the spotted pig.  Jethro’s description and antics had me chuckling.  I also appreciated the snark from Bailey’s best friend, Cass Calbera.  I hope we see more of Cass in future novels.  My rating for Assaulted Caramel 4.5 out of 5 stars (I liked it, but easily solve the mystery).  I did feel that there was too much internal dialogue (Bailey thinking).   The mystery had some good elements and many readers will not guess the identity of the culprit until the second half of the story (or you might be surprised).  There are the right number of suspects and pointed clues.   I am eager to read Lethal Licorice when it comes out in February.

I really appreciate you visiting and reading my book evaluation.  My current reading selection is Cat Got Your Secrets by Julie Chase.  I will be showcasing A Knit Before Dying by Sadie Hartwell tomorrow.  May each of you have a remarkable day!  Take care, stay dry (it has been pouring in my area) and Happy Reading (perfect time to stay inside and read)!

The Avid Reader

Monday, August 28, 2017

Shot in Darkness: In Darkness Book Four

Greetings!  I hope everyone had a pleasant weekend (for those in Texas--I pray you made it through the hurricane safely).  I spent Sunday watching murder mystery movies.  I enjoy solving the mysteries!  Today's featured writer is Heather Sunseri.  I first discovered this author when I read her Mindspeak series (young adult science fiction).  Ms. Sunseri's has also written Emerge series and her adult In Darkness series.

Shot in Darkness by Heather Sunseri is the fourth novella in the In Darkness collection.  Brooke Fairfax has agreed to housesit/pet sit for her friends, Tyler and James in Georgetown (dogs are called Thurston and Lovey—who know what show these names come from?).  The call came just when Brooke needed to get away and her old college friend, Anya Bhatia requested an in-person meeting (good timing).  Her boyfriend, Declan O’Roark was talking about their future and Brooke is not sure she is ready.  She packed up her suitcase and took off—without telling Declan.   Brooke is out with the dogs when she notices Tyler’s neighbor, Bradley getting a large package of ammunition.  She puts it aside when she sees Declan standing on the front porch (did not take him long to track her down).  They agree to not discuss the future for the next two weeks (while housesitting).  That evening on the way to the Full Court Press for her meeting with Anya she notices Bradley again.  Brooke calls Tyler to get some details while Declan heads into the bar.  Then shots ring out and, once again, Brooke’s life is in jeopardy.  But who was shot?  Does this have anything to do with Brooke asking Anya to dig for Romeo’s identity? 

Shot in Darkness contains good writing and strong characters.  I was thrilled that Shot in Darkness had a faster pace than the last two books.  It is a quick and easy novella to read (just a short story).  And at long last, it looks like the Romeo case is making headway (hooray). It was nice to see growth in Brooke’s character (about time).  I could feel the suspense during critical scenes in this story.  I can understand wanting answers about her husband, but Brooke takes things to extremes.  I give Shot in Darkness 4 out of 5 stars (I liked it).  Shot in Darkness is not a stand-alone book.  Each book in the In Darkness series builds upon the previous one.  It will be interesting to see what happens next regarding Romeo (I am just hoping it does not drag on for several more books).  The other books in the series are Exposed in Darkness (currently free on Amazon), Cut in Darkness and Covered in Darkness.  Shot in Darkness will be available on August 29!

I appreciate you visiting.  I will be featuring Assaulted Caramel by Amanda Flower on Tuesday (book release day)!  I am currently reading Sins of the Mother by Susan Boles (I am so far behind in my reading thanks to this awful flu).  I hope you have an amazing Monday (the last one of August)!  Take care and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader

Sunday, August 27, 2017

The Girls of Mulberry Lane: First book in The Mulberry Lane series

Happy Sunday!  I am still sick, but I can sit upright for short amount of time. My daughter was kind enough to bring me won ton soup (I prefer Chinese food when I am sick).  My mother and daughter commented that they have not seen me this sick in a very long time (and that's saying something for a person with Fibromyalgia).  Today I am featuring the latest historical novel by Rosie Clarke. Ms. Clarke has written The Workshop Girls series, Jessie's Promise, The Downstairs MaidEmma Trilogy, and so many more wonderful historical books.  I (as well as my mother) enjoy her stories.

The Girls of Mulberry Lane by Rosie Clarke is the first book in The Mulberry Lane series (1938).  We are swept back to London’s East End on Mulberry Lane in 1938.  War will be breaking out across Europe and England will soon be getting into the fight.  Peggy Ashley and her husband, Laurence own the Pig and Whistle pub in London’s East End.  Peggy is the mother figure to the people of Mulberry Lane.  Maureen Jackson is Peggy’s closet friend.  Maureen wanted to marry Rory Mackness after her mother passed away, but her father used emotional blackmail (playing sick) to keep her at his side.  Maureen takes care of her father and runs their little discount store on Mulberry Lane.  She still loves Rory, but he moved on when she would not leave her father.  Rory is now married and full of regrets.  Janet Ashley is eighteen years old and is in love with Mike Rowan.  Mike is ready to enlist in the Navy, but he wants to marry Janet before he departs.  Laurence refuses to give his blessing and sign the necessary papers (Janet is underage).  Mike knows there is one way to ensure they are able to wed.  Two young people in love cannot be denied their passions.  Janet ends up pregnant and quickly wed with Peggy’s blessing.  The Ashley family is divided and Peggy wants to find a way to bring them back together.  Is there a chance of happiness for Maureen?  Will Peggy be able to heal the rift in the Ashley family? 

The Girls of Mulberry Lane is a well-crafted novel.  It contains good writing and the book is realistic of the time period.  You can tell the author did her research for this novel.  The book has a slower pace, but it suits the story.  The characters were brought to life.  As a reader, I could feel their struggles, heartaches, love, joy and regrets.  The book contains British slang that was common during that time period.  It added realism and flavor to the story (did not feel like an add in).  My rating for The Girls of Mulberry Lane 4.5 out of 5 stars.  I was drawn into the story and my attention (for the most part) was held.  There were a couple of slow areas, but they were few.  I like this gritty yet hopeful novel.  It contains real life struggles that people encountered during this era (as they prepare for another war).  We get to see the characters overcoming adversity.  The book has hope, love, friendship, secrets, sacrifice, and the ties of family.  The Girls of Mulberry Lane is a lovely, wholesome story that I enjoyed reading. I am looking forward to reading A Wedding at Mulberry Lane when it comes out (January 2018).  The Girls of Mulberry Lane is on the Kindle Unlimited program and is currently $1.99 on Amazon.

Thank you for visiting today and reading my review.  I hope all of you have a lovely, relaxing day.  I am currently reading When the Bishop Needs an Alibi by Vannetta Chapman (I can read for short amounts of time).  I will be reviewing Shot in Darkness by Heather Sunseri on Monday.  Take care and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader 

Friday, August 25, 2017

A Pinch of Salt

Happy Friday!  The Girls of Mulberry Lane by Rosie Clarke is the first book in The Mulberry Lane series.  I will be sharing my review of this novel on August 27.  I hope you will stop by and see what I have to say!

A Pinch of Salt by Eileen Ramsay takes readers to 1910 in Scotland.  Kate Kennedy is only thirteen years old when her mother passes away giving birth.  Kate now is responsible for taking care of her father, her siblings, and the house.  The years pass by quickly for Kate in the mining town as she cares for her family.  She loves her family and wants to see her siblings get opportunities that were not available to her.  After World War I, Kate finds herself going from her father’s household to her husbands.  She starts a bakery business while raising a family.  Kate transfers her aspirations (that she had for her siblings) to her oldest son, but at what cost to her other two children.  Life is full of ups and downs especially when the world is on the brink of another war.  Will Kate get the better life for her children she so desires? 

A Pinch of Salt is a gritty, realistic story.  It is a book of hardship, loss, and love.  It has some good writing, but lacks a good flow/pace.  I found it a little difficult to read A Pinch of Salt.  The first half of the book was better than the second.  If the book had better pacing, it would have been easier (and a more enjoyable) book to read.  The story could have done with some shortening (it went on too long).  There are parts that are rambling.  Kate is a difficult character to like.  Kate is stubborn, hard woman (which fit in with the town and era), but she kept making the same mistakes.  I wish we could have seen some growth in her character.  I am giving A Pinch of Salt 3 out of 5 stars.  The ending of A Pinch of Salt felt incomplete.  I wish the author had included an epilogue that allowed the readers to see how Kate’s life played out.  I appreciated the mention of one of my favorite authors, Mazo de la Roche (just love the Jalna series).  I felt that A Pinch of Salt could have been a good book with just a little polishing.  While A Pinch of Salt is the third book in Flowers of Scotland series, it can be read alone.

I appreciate your visit today to read my latest review.  I am still struggling with this cold/flu thing that I am currently experiencing (I am just miserable).  May each of you have a fantastic Friday!  Take care and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader

Thursday, August 24, 2017

A Wedding Tail: A Rescue Dog Romance

Thank you for visiting today.  I am starting to feel a little better (I can sit up for small periods of time). My mother can always tell when I am extremely sick--I do not read!  Heather Sunseri's next In Darkness book--Shot in Darkness--will be released on August 29.  It is the fourth story in the series, and they do need to be read in order.  

A Wedding Tail by Casey Griffin (aka Diane Kelly) is the third book in A Rescue Dog Romance series.  Zoe Plum is a wedding/event planner (owns Plum Crazy Events) and a representative for Pure Pleasure in San Francisco, California.  She has been working on the Fisher-Wells wedding for the last year with an extremely difficult bride.  Zoe needs the commission from this wedding to help her purchase a home of her own.  The wedding day, though, has not been going smoothly.  A sick horse (that was going to pull the carriage), a drunk uncle, missing groomsmen, air conditioning on the fritz, doves on the loose, the brides dress does not fit (a little binge eating), and now the organist is ill.  Zoe quickly recruits Levi Dolson, guest turned groomsmen turned organist, for the job.  The Fisher-Wells wedding quickly deteriorates and Zoe is out a commission.  She hopes to get some new clients at The Wedding Expo where she was to have a prime booth location.  It seems that it is not Zoe’s week.  She finds her booth moved to a back corner right next to Levi Dolson.  Levi seems intent on pursing Zoe despite her disinterest.  Then someone attacks Zoe’s van and destroys an $11,000 wedding gown.  This is just the beginning (so much more) of problems that begin to plague Zoe.  Someone is targeting her, but she does not know why. Levi wants to keep Zoe safe and show her that they can have a happily ever after (despite her beliefs). 

A Wedding Tail is a light-hearted romance novel with a mystery woven through it.  There was one zany incident after another in the book.  I am sure most people will find it amusing, but, after a while, I just found it ridiculous (plus the incidents made me nervous, stressed-out).  My mother was laughing at the antics in the beginning, but then she agreed it was over-the-top.    My rating for A Wedding Tail is 3 out of 5 stars.  I felt too time was devoted to Zoe’s sideline of selling sex toys and her copious use of them (she really should invest in rechargeable batteries since she goes through so many).  The mystery was uncomplicated.  Most readers will pick out the identity of the culprit long before the reveal.   A Wedding Tail can be read without having indulged in the first two books in A Rescue Dog Romance series. I am not the right audience for this type of story (I am too pragmatic).  Readers who enjoy comedic romances with a light (airy) mystery will like reading A Wedding Tail.  It is the perfect book to read while on summer vacation (and lounging by a lake, beach, or pool).  The other two novels in A Rescue Dog Romance series are Must Love Wieners and Beauty and the Wiener.

I hope you have a good day.  I will see you next time when I return with another book review.  Take care, stay cool and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Silvia's Rose: Peace in the Valley Novel

Welcome!  I hope everyone enjoyed the eclipse on Monday.  Beverly Lewis has a new novel being published on September 5.  It is titled The Proving.  I am looking forward to reading this new Amish novel. The Beloved Christmas Quilt by Wanda Brunstetter will be out on the same day.  

Silvia’s Rose by Jerry S. Eicher is the first novel in Peace in the Valley series.  Esther Stoltzfus has moved with her daughter, Diana new a new home in the valley.  It is a chance for them to start fresh after the death of her husband, Lonnie.  Esther feels God has led her to the area to marry Isaiah Mast.  Isaiah is a widower and a minister that Esther knew as a teen back in Lancaster County. Esther feels that Isaiah would be the perfect husband for her and it seems that many people in the area agree.  Esther is known for being no-nonsense, practical, and organized (good qualities for a minister’s wife).  Then she meets Joseph Zook who lives across the street and owns a greenhouse.  Joseph is a widower who deeply loved his wife, Silvia.  He created a special rose (which he named Silvia’s Rose) which he is hoping will win an award.  Joseph’s beliefs in romance and love change Esther’s views.  Esther is not the only person influenced by Joseph’s stories.  Joseph knows he needs a wife and mother for his son, Ben.  However, he has found it difficult to move on from Silvia until Arlene King comes into his life.  Arlene does not buy into Joseph’s ideas of romance, but she yearns to be his wife.  Is there a possibility of a second chance at love for Joseph?  Will Isaiah be able to win Esther’s heart?  Find out how their stories end in Silvia’s Rose.

Silvia’s Rose is a sweet and simple Amish romance novel.  It is nicely written and easy to read.  Silvia’s Rose is a clean, wholesome story that is perfect for younger readers (young adults).  I do wonder if people in real life talk the way they do in this book.  They frequently mention God’s will, having faith, power of prayer, etc.  The religious aspect was a little heavy for my tastes.  I thought it needed a lighter touch.  My rating for Silvia’s Rose is 3 out of 5 stars. I found the main details to be repeated frequently.  The ending is predictable.  I kept hoping for a different conclusion (would have made it more interesting).  Silvia’s Rose is an inspirational story about a second chance at love, faith, power of prayer, friendship, and how God has a plan for each of us (if we are brave enough to follow His lead).  Silvia’s Rose is a charming, Christian romance.  It is the type of story I would have enjoyed when I was tween (I was an advanced reader--I read the works of Patrick Dennis when I was 13).  The other two novels in the Peace in the Valley series are Phoebe's Gift and Mary's Home (I will be reviewing them soon).

I appreciate your visit.  My current reading pleasure is Oh, Fudge by Nancy Coco.  May you have a special and happy Tuesday.  I will be featuring A Wedding Tail by Casey Griffin (do you know what other name this author writes under) next time (later in the week when I feel better).  Take care and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader

Monday, August 21, 2017

The Paris Spy: A Maggie Hope Mystery

Welcome.  I hope everyone had a nice, relaxing weekend.  Grave Errors by Carol J. Perry is the fifth A Witch City Mystery novel and will be available on August 29.  There are several new cozy mysteries coming out on that date.  My favorite new cozy coming out next week is Assaulted Caramel by Amanda Flower.

The Paris Spy by Susan Elia MacNeal is the seventh novel in A Maggie Hope Mystery series.  Maggie Hope is in agent with SOE—Special Operations Executive.  She is in occupied Paris waiting for the documents she needs to start her assignment.  Maggie wants to find her missing half-sister, Elise Hess and fellow spy, Erica Calvert.  Erica had been sent to get soil samples England needs to plan its invasion.  They know that Erica was captured, but they do not know where she hid the samples she obtained.  Maggie is curious how the enemy discovered that Erica was an agent—could there be a mole in their department.  Maggie assumes the identity of Paige Kelly and checks into The Ritz.  She did not count, though, on meeting inquisitive Coco Chanel.  Maggie will need to work carefully and strategically to get the intel she needs, find her sister, discover what happened to Erica, retrieve the missing samples and get herself out of France.  Join Maggie on her latest mission in The Paris Spy!

The Paris Spy is well-researched and contains good writing.  I liked the addition of Coco Chanel.  I did find the pace to be slow (good for my insomnia, but not for reading).  There is a significant amount of historical detail which makes an accurate book, but, in fiction, can make a boring book.  At times, it felt like I was reading a nonfiction novel instead of fiction.  Maggie is portrayed as a strong female character (most of the time), which I really appreciate.  There are not enough strong, female role models in cozy mysteries.  My rating for The Paris Spy is 3 out of 5 stars.  The guilty party (the mole) was easily identifiable.  I was hoping it would be more of a challenge.  Maggie not being an experienced spy showed in this story.  She always seemed to be on edge and scared (I can understand the feeling, but she is a spy—albeit an inexperienced one—and should be careful in public).  I was surprised that she was not captured by the Germans the first day.  I had a difficult time wading through The Paris Spy and the ending was dissatisfying.  History is one of my favorite subjects (especially WWII), but The Paris Spy missed the mark for me.  I felt the author missed a great opportunity with this novel.  I have decided not to continue with this series.

Thank you for your visit.  I am currently reading Macrame Murder by Mollie Cox Bryan.  I wish for each of you to have a very pleasing and safe Monday.  We are experiencing troubling times in America.  I will be reviewing Silvia's Rose by Jerry S. Eicher on Tuesday.  Take care and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Pieces of Happiness: A novel about friendship

Thank you for stopping by today.  I hope you are having a pleasant Saturday. Sally Goldenbaum's Murder Wears Mittens will be published on August 29.  It is the first book Seaside Knitters Society.  I always enjoy mystery novels that incorporate yarn, knitting, crochet, etc.  You should see my large yarn collection (takes up seven totes in my closet).

Pieces of Happiness by Anne Ostby is the story of five friends starting a new lease on life in their 60s.   Kat had finally settled down in Korototoka, Fiji with her husband, Nicklaus after year of traveling.  Unfortunately, they only got to enjoy Vale nei Kat, the cocoa plantation, for a few years before he passed away.  Kat wrote to her four high school friends (that she has not seen in forty years) inviting them to join her in Fiji.  It will give all them a chance to reconnect and start a new venture together.  Ingrid, Sina, Lisbeth, Maya and Kat had never thought they would get such an opportunity and leap at the opportunity.  Their golden years will be filled with friendship, happiness and chocolate.  Each one of them have secrets they wish to keep hidden, but it is hard to do with good friends.   The first thing the five of them need to decide is how to make the farm profitable.  Soon Kat’s Chocolate is born.  Can they make a success of the business?  Can the five friends live out the rest of their days together?  See how these five women fare in this book about friendship, second chances and healthy chocolate. 

Pieces of Happiness was not a pleasant read for me (made me wish we could read a preview before agreeing to review).  The POV alternates between the five women and the housekeeper which made it confusing (especially if you put the book down and then come back to it hour later).  All the characters are thrown at you and I never did get them straight (they each have a different story).  I found the pace to be slow (plodding).  The writer is overly descriptive and likes flowery prose (which I found off putting).  It reminded me of how people talked in the 1960s (based on movies, not actual experience—just to clarify).  Think San Francisco, Haigh-Ashbury, laid back islands, crystals, Zen.  I believe I am too sensible for this novel.  The writing seemed clunky (for lack of a better word) and the book was too long (you can see why I started skimming—my term for speedreading).  It could be (in part) the translation of the writing from the author’s native language to English (but this should have been corrected by the editor).  I found the story a little boring and it ended as expected.  I give Pieces of Happiness 2 out of 5 stars (I did not like it).  I tried several times to get into and read this novel (the blurb made it sound good).  I ended up skimming through the book to see what happened to each character (I always finish a book I agreed to review).  I was not the right reader for this book.

I am off to relax (I am sick with a cold) and my daughter is coming by for a visit later.  I will be sharing my thoughts on The Paris Spy by Susan Elia MacNeal when next I return (depends upon my cold). Take care and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader

Friday, August 18, 2017

Trouble in Dixie: A Familiar Legacy Novel

Happy Friday!  I hope you have had a pleasant week.  Familiar Legacy is a series about a cat named Trouble who fancies himself a sleuth.  The series consists of Familiar Trouble, Trouble in Dixie and Trouble in Tallahassee which will be out on September 12.  

Trouble in Dixie by Rebecca Barrett is the second book in the Familiar Legacy series.  Julia Hampton is cat sitting, Trouble for her friend, Tammy Lynn.   Julia lives in Savannah, Georgia and is a PI for her firm, The Hampton Detective Agency. Julia’s degree in Russian Art History comes in handy when she is asked to investigate an art theft for The Weatherby Insurance Agency.  Julia is asleep when Trouble hears noises in the office below.  Julia, with Trouble’s assistance, scares off the thieves.  Nothing was taken from her office, but the intruders seemed particularly interested in her files (which are now scattered around the office).   The next day Julia heads to her meeting with Peter Ryder at The Weatherby Insurance Agency after retrieving her briefcase (she left it at her parents’ home the previous night with the files Ryder gave her).  Peter has not shown up for work and is not answering his phone.  He had asked Julia to look into the theft of a Nicolai Fechin portrait along some missing Russian jewelry.  Is Peter’s disappearance related to the thefts?   Julia with some unexpected assistance (along with Trouble) sets out to get answers and recover the missing items.

Trouble in Dixie is a light cozy mystery novel.  While the second book in the series, it can be read alone (easily).  I found the story easy to read and to have a good flow.  I also appreciated the beautiful old Southern setting of Savannah, Georgia.  However, I found the story to be lackluster (lacked dimension).  The focus is on romance (what is happening to cozy mysteries).  The mystery portion (what there is of it) is easily solved.  Most of the mystery plays out, but the bad guy can easily be picked out.  I wanted more solid content and less thinking about handsome Mitch Lawson.  Less repetition about Julia’s background would also have been appreciated (from old money, good family, etc.).  I am rating Trouble in Dixie 3 out of 5 stars.  I was entertained by Trouble’s chapters.  I liked Trouble more in Trouble in Dixie than I did in Familiar Trouble.  He was light-hearted and humorous.  Aunt Ethel was a hoot.  I wish she had been the main character (an eccentric older woman).   Trouble in Dixie is a cute story, but I am just not the right audience.  I like more mystery (complicated, hard to solve) in my cozy mysteries. If I wanted that much romance (where it dominates the book), I would (rarely) pick up a romance novel.  

I appreciate you reading my latest book review. May each of you have a stupendous Friday.  I will be reviewing Pieces of Happiness by Anne Ostby the next time.  I am enjoying Grave Errors by Carol J. Perry.  I hope each of you have a delightful book to entertain you and take you on a grand adventure.  Take care and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Wives of War: Soraya M. Lane's WWII Collection

Greetings!   Assaulted Caramel by Amanda Flower will be out on August 29.  It is the first book in An Amish Candy Shop Mystery series.  It is a cute cozy mystery with great characters, entertaining mystery and wonderful chocolate descriptions.  I look forward to reading Lethal Licorice (second book in series) when it comes out.

Wives of War by Soraya M. Lane is part of a three-book collection that takes readers back to the World War II era.  It is 1944 and Scarlet Alexander has joined Queen Alexandra’s Imperial Nursing Service (QA nurses).  Scarlet is waiting for the train (and a little nervous) and is happy when Ellie O’Sullivan introduces herself. The pair are reporting for duty and final field training.  Scarlet comes from a privileged background and is joining against her families wishes.  She has not heard from her fiancĂ©, Thomas is thirteen weeks and is worried about him.  Scarlet feels nursing will allow her to look for Thomas.  She knows he is still alive.  Ellie has three brothers off fighting and she wishes to do her bit for the war effort.  Ellie meets Dr. Spencer Black while training for the front and they are attracted to each other.  Scarlet meets a soldier named James who makes her forget about her missing fiancĂ©.  Ellie and Scarlet are soon sent to France where are they inundated with injured soldiers.  The unflappable Lucy Anderson is assigned to their unit as a surgical nurse.  Lucy wants to enroll in medical school after the war.  Rough conditions, little food and long hours are in store for these nurses.  Their friendship will help them endure these difficult conditions along with hope and love.

I thought Wives of War was easy to read and had a good pace (in most sections).  However, Wives of War is a book for readers who enjoy romance novels.  Love is in the air for Lucy, Scarlet and Ellie and the war takes a backseat for the majority of the novel.  The war in France plays out in the background while these ladies flirt (for the most part).  I found the dialogue to be very American.  It did not match up with the characters.  Scarlet is upper-class British and should speak differently from Irish Ellie.  There are a couple of British phrases tossed in here and there but they do not make the novel any more British.  I also felt it was lacking in historical accuracy.  I am rating Wives of War 3 out of 5 stars (it is okay).  I found Wives of War to be expected (predictable) and a repetition of basic details (how many times were we told Scarlet loved Thomas).  I thought the characters were lacking and flat.  They were not fleshed out and developed.  Friendship blossoms instantly between the ladies (they just met), and then they fall in love just as quickly (Instant connection).  I thought it was unrealistic (even for fiction).  I wanted a story with more depth (about nurses working in Europe, their patients, etc.) with less focus on women finding husbands in the middle of a battle field.  I wish the publisher had written the blurb differently (it is listed as historical fiction).  If I had known it was a romance novel, I would have passed.  My mother also read this novel and came away with the same impressions (which is rare for the two of us).  Voyage of the Heart and Hearts of Resistance (January 17, 2018) are the other novels in the collection by this author.  Wives of War is available through the Kindle Unlimited program.

Thank you for visiting.  I will be reviewing Trouble in Dixie by Rebecca Barrett next time.  May you have a spellbinding day!  Take care and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

The Bequest: A Nicole Graves Mystery

I hope everyone is having a lovely week.  It has been exceptionally hot and humid in my area (Tampa Bay area of Florida).  Since my hot flashes (related to my Fibromyalgia) have increased (lucky me), I am staying indoors as much as possible.  The dogs agree with me about the heat.  They go outside, do their business and rush back indoors. I will be glad when it gets cooler in November.  

The Bequest by Nancy Boyarsky is the second book in A Nicole Graves Mystery series.  Nicole Graves has just returned from London where her boyfriend, Ronald Reinhardt failed to show up for their rendezvous.  Nicole goes to the law office of Bascomb, Rice, Smith and Di Angelo, where she is the office manager, and is informed that Robert Blair, the in-house investigator, has been MIA.  Nicole heads to Robert’s house to check on him.  She finds his very expensive home unlocked and Robert with a bullet through his forehead.  Nicole was friendly with Robert, but they were not close or so Nicole thought.  The police find pictures of Nicole in Robert’s bedroom that indicate they had an intimate relationship.  Detective Frank Miller believes Nicole is withholding information and is guilty of Robert’s death.  Then the beneficiary of Robert’s vast estate and life insurance policy is revealed.  The paparazzi turn out in droves and Nicole is soon unable to move without being photographed.  After an attempt on her life, Nicole decides to disappear and discover who killed Robert on her own.  What was Robert involved in?  Where did her get his wealth?  Nicole intends to get answers and clear her name.   Will Nicole discover the killer’s identity or will Nicole become another casualty? 

The Bequest is easy to read and has a nice pace.  Most of the action takes place in the last 40% of the book (the pace picks up a little).  While The Bequest is the second book in A Nicole Graves Mystery series, it can be read alone (though I recommend The Swap).  What happened in The Swap is summarized (rehashed) in The Bequest.  Personally, I enjoyed The Swap (which is currently $1.99 on Amazon--the kindle version) more than The Bequest.  I thought this second installment was a letdown.  The romance and mystery competed for dominance in the story.  Nicole has a new love interest, and she is wasting no time with this new fellow (Reinhardt should have responded to her messages).  I wish the romance had been turned down a few notches (it was too much for a mystery novel).  The mystery was interesting (parts were unrealistic though), but not compelling.  I correctly identified the guilty parties early in the book.  I kept hoping there would be a good twist to surprise me (maybe I have read too many mystery/suspense novels).  My rating for The Bequest is 3 out of 5 stars.  I found there to be a repetition of details (especially about Reinhardt).  For some reason, we are given a description of all food items (every single thing at each meal).  I wanted to feel the suspense and I did not.  The Bequest is a good story that many readers will enjoy, but it could have been a great story with some changes.  

Thank you for your visit.  I will be reviewing Wives of War by Soraya Lane on Thursday.  May each of you have a fabulous Wednesday.  Take care and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Gathering the Threads: The Amish of Summer Grove

Happy Book Release Day!  Some of the new releases are A Mother for Leah by Rachel L. Miller, The Bequest by Nancy Boyarsky, Gathering the Threads by Cindy Woodsmall, The Promise of a Letter by Kathleen Fuller, and Tiny House on the Hill by Celia Bonaduce.  I hope you find some new novels to add to your TBR pile!

Gathering the Threads by Cindy Woodsmall is the final novel in The Amish of Summer Grove series.  Ariana Brenneman is returning to the Old Order Amish community where she was raised before it was discovered she was switched with Englischer, Skylar Nash.  Settling back into her old life, though, is not easy.  Arianna is no longer sure what she believes in and needs time to think things through.  Arianna is less accepting of authority (being told what to do).    Isaac, Arianna’s father, does not understand the changes in Arianna and is worried her attitude will affect other members of the family (the Amish leaders are not pleased).  Rudy, Arianna’s beau, has been waiting for her to return so they can marry, but he does not understand the dilemma facing Arianna.  Quill Schlabach is the one-person Arianna can discuss what she is feeling and thinking, but the Amish leaders (and Arianna’s father) to do not approve of Quill.  Everyone has an opinion about Ariana, her behavior and her future.  But what does Ariana want?  What is God’s will?  Skylar Nash has adjusted to life in the Amish community and with the Brenneman’s.  She has found her niche, but she worries what will happen now that Ariana has returned.  Each woman must discover where they truly belong.  The path to their future will fraught with potholes, but, at the end, they will find what their hearts truly desire. 

Gathering the Threads is well-written and engaging.  It contains nicely developed characters that grow and change over the course of the series (Nicholas is a great example).  I do feel the pace was a little slow.  Gathering the Threads is the third book The Amish of Summer Grove series, and the books are best read in order.  There is a great summary at the beginning of Gathering the Threads that reminds readers on what occurred in the Ties that Bind and Fraying at the Edge (it has been a year since the last book).  My rating for Gathering the Threads is 4 out of 5 stars.  I did feel the story dragged on a little long with some parts of the book feeling like filler (they were unneeded and did not enhance or add to the story).  I would not survive one day living Amish.  It is a patriarchal society that goes against my beliefs.  I felt bad for Ariana (while cheering for her) when the Amish leaders attacked her for not bowing to their authority and rules (I loved it when she took back her cellphone).  It was difficult for her to be standing with one foot in each world (one in Amish and one with her biological parents).  The Christian element is prevalent throughout the story, but it is handled beautifully by the author.  I like the themes of acceptance, forgiveness, faith, and love.  I do feel the end was a little rushed.   Ariana reaches a decision about her future (one her own) and then the story concludes.  The ending is heartwarming and nicely wraps up the three-book series (no dangling threads).  We get a little glimpse at what the future holds for Arianna, Skylar and their families.  I was especially pleased to see closure for Frieda Miller (about time).   I look forward to reading Cindy Woodsmall's next book!

Thank you for visiting and reading my thoughts on this Amish novel.  I will be featuring The Bequest by Nancy Boyarsky on Wednesday.  I really hope that each of you have very special days.  Take care and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader

Monday, August 14, 2017

A Mother for Leah: Windy Gap Wishes Novel

I hope everyone had a pleasant weekend.  I spent my time paying bills, running a couple of errands, reading, and doing chores around the house (you can tell I lead a very exciting life).  

A Mother for Leah by Rachel L. Miller is the first story in a Windy Gap Wishes series.  Leah Fisher lost her mother when she was seven years old.  Her father, Samuel is worried about Leah as she approaches adulthood (ten years have passed by).  She stays close to home and does not attend other young people events.  Samuel has decided it is time he found a new wife (frau) who will help guide Leah into womanhood.  Samuel leaves the house one morning leaving Leah at home.  He is traveling to a nearby town to look for a wife (makes me imagine a store with eligible young women waiting for a suitor to come along).  On his journey Samuel encounters a buggy at the side of a road with a passenger inside.  Samuel finds Naomi inside the buggy and escorts her to her aunt’s house where she will be residing.  Naomi felt God was calling her to Windy Gap to find a new husband.  Samuel is instantly attracted to the widow (and vice versa, of course).  While Samul is away, a young man knocks at the door needing assistance with his buggy (methinks it is the same buggy).  Leah’s brother takes off to help Jacob, but Leah remembers the young man long after he is gone.  Love has arrived at the Fisher household, but the path to happiness is will not be a smooth one. 

A Mother for Leah is easy to read (I always try to start with something positive).  It is a simple story about love and faith.  However, I felt it was geared for a younger audience.  The writing reminded me of books written for young adults.  Jacob meets Leah and falls instantly in love.  Jacob then comes a courting (after I wrote this the song “Froggie Went A-Courtin” started running through my head).  Samuel and Naomi instantly connect and start talking about marriage on the first date (this is at the beginning of the book—I am not spoiling anything for you).   My rating for A Mother for Leah is 3 out of 5 stars.  The story is told from the main characters point-of-view (it switches between Jacob, Leah, Samuel, and Naomi).  I wanted more depth and substance in the book.  I felt the book was a sappy romance.  I cannot see a widower (in his late 30s or early 40s) blushing when he looks into Naomi’s beautiful brown eyes (this is in the book).  I found information repeated and a great deal of time devoted to internal dialogue (people thinking about love).  The words “God’s Plan” and “God’s Will” were mentioned too often (we get the point after the first three times).  Amish words were sprinkled throughout the text.  I know they are meant to add Amish color or authenticity to the story, but it felt forced (odd).  Especially when the same word is used (gegisch).  A Mother for Leah is a clean Amish romance that would a good book for younger readers. A Mother for Leah will be available on August 15.

I appreciate you visiting today and reading my review.  I am currently reading A Knit Before Dying by Sadie Hartwell.  I will be sharing my thoughts on Gathering the Threads by Cindy Woodsmall on Tuesday.  I hope that you have a happy Monday!  I am off to the pharmacy to pick up a prescription for my mother.  Take care and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader