Sunday, December 31, 2017

Kappy King and the Puppy Kaper: An Amish Mystery

Happy New Year's Eve!  The last day of 2017. I plan an exciting evening of reading and relaxing with my sweet fur babies huddled nearby (thanks to fireworks). The Orphan Girl by Lindsey Hutchinson (historical fiction) will be published on January 1 along with It's Tutu Much by Lorraine Bartlett.  A Daring Escape by Tricia Goyer will be available on January 2 along with Scones and Scoundrels by Molly MacRae, Another One Bites the Crust by Ellie Alexander, and Dial M for Mousse by Laura Bradford.

Kappy King and the Puppy Kaper by Amy Lillard is the first book in An Amish Mystery series.  Kathryn “Kappy” King lives alone making kapps for the women of her community in Blue Sky, Pennsylvania.  Kappy arrives home from shopping to find her front door painted blue which implies an available maidel lives here.  Kappy knows instantly that Jimmy Peachey, next door neighbor’s son with Downs syndrome, painted her door and heads over to talk with him.  She finds Jimmy in the barn crying with his mother, Ruth dead on the floor.  When the police arrive, they arrest Jimmy.  Detective Jones states that Jimmy confessed to the crime.  Edith “Edie” Peachey, Jimmy’s shunned sister, returns to town determined to find her mother’s killer and get Jimmy released from jail.  Since the Amish will not speak with Edie, she asks Kappy to assist her.  The pair start questioning the neighbors and then Ruth’s business acquaintances (dog breeder) hoping for clues that will lead them to the killer. Then the Mifflin County Animal Welfare arrives thanks to an anonymous complaint that they are running a puppy mill on the property.  The next day animal rights activists arrive.  This is just the beginning of a series of incidents.  Who is doing this to them and why?   Kappy and Edie need to work quickly before things turn deadly. 

I enjoy reading Amy Lillard’s Amish novels and was eager to read her new Amish mystery.  However, Kappy King and the Puppy Kaper missed the mark.  I found the book easy to read and it had a nice flow.  The characters, though, lacked development.  In a way, Kappy and Edie reminded me of Laverne and Shirley with their antics (but not as humorous).  It is mentioned that Kappy is eccentric, but I could not figure out why (except her how she conducted her business).  Edie was the unconventional one especially with her manner of dress.  I am thankful that the zany is mild and not over-the-top.  Identifying the killer and the person behind the destructive incidents is child’s play.  The book needed more substance and a feeling of community. Readers are given few details on the town.  We are told about Hiram Lapp who owns Sundries and Sweets.  Kappy was engaged to Hiram, but she recently broke it off with him (and I can see why with his dominating ways).  Kappy feels she is unworthy of Hiram.  Hiram talks several times to Kappy to get her to reconsider her decision as well as trying to deter her involvement in the investigation.  There was also some flirting between Detective Jones and Edie.  Jimmy was a sweetie along with the cute puppies (and the other adorable animals).  There is a preview of Kappy King and thePickle Kaper at the end of the book which will be published on June 26, 2018.  Readers who are looking for a light, amusing cozy mystery should take check out Kappy King and the Puppy Kaper

Thank you for taking time out of your day to read my latest review.  May each of you have a pleasant and safe New Year holiday.  I will return on January 2 with my thoughts on Another One Bites the Crust by Ellie Alexander.  Take care and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Better Dead: A B&B Spirits Mystery

Thank you for stopping by today.  A Song Unheard by Roseanna M. White will be published on January 2.  It is the second book in Shadows Over England series.  Willa Forsythe is tasked with getting a cypher key from Lukas De Wilde, a Belgium violinist and refugee.  Lukas is worried about his mother and sister who are still in Belgium.  He wants to find a way to get them out of the country and to safety.  But German officials wants the work done by Lukas' father and they believe he has the answers they need.

Better Dead by Pamela Kopfler is the first A B&B Spirits Mystery.  Holly Davis owns Holly Grove Plantation in Delta Ridge, Louisiana which she turned into a bed and breakfast three years prior.  Holly’s husband, Burl passed away three months ago just before he was served with divorce papers for his cheating ways (and so much more).  Holly is celebrating the end of her mourning with champagne and raises a toast to Burl.  The next thing she knows he is there before her (then chaos ensues).  The next morning Holly wakes up on the floor with white powder all around her (long story) and the Deltas are peering at her through the window. Burl was not a drunken hallucination and he cannot move on until Holly helps with his unfinished business.  He only has until midnight on Halloween to make things right or he will be stuck at Holly Grove forever (Holly’s worst nightmare).  Holly is the only person who can see and hear Burl.  Before his death, Burl was involved in smuggling drugs through Holly Grove and he believes busting up the ring is his unfinished business.  Holly agrees to help Burl in exchange for him haunting the house during the Haunted Pilgrimage Tour of Homes.  Holly needs to turn a profit, or she is in danger of losing Holly Grove (thanks to Burl).  Then Holly’s old high school flame, Jake McCann returns to town and wishes to stay at Holly Grove.  Unknown to Holly, Jake is an ICE agent trying to stop the drugs being smuggled through the plantation.  He is as handsome as ever and Holly is still attracted to him.  However, it is hard to flirt with your deceased husband in the room.  Can Holly discover who is behind the drug smuggling and put a stop to it?  Why has Jake returned to town?  Watch Holly juggle her duties at the B&B along with Burl, Jake, the Deltas, and a housekeeper who wants the ghost out of the house.

Better Dead is a Southern cozy mystery with paranormal elements.  The story is told from Holly and Jake’s POV.  I prefer stories that are written from one viewpoint (preferably third person).  It allows readers to stay immersed in the story and not be distracted by the changing voice.  Better Dead is a humorous story with one zany antic after another throughout the whole book.  While I do not enjoy reading these type of stories, many other readers find them delightful.  I prefer intelligent, strong female characters.  I was never drawn into Better Dead.  I read it, but just found it unbelievable.  Some examples are:  The Deltas believing fire hydrant foam dust to be cocaine and that Holly has a drug issue (the gossip quickly spread throughout the whole town); the gold sex toy that Holly breaks and then needs fixed (because she is snooping through her guests luggage); the housekeeper who brings in a priest and a medium to get rid of the ghost;  housekeeper and Holly wearing garlic to keep the ghost at bay; Holly runs a B&B, but she cannot cook (or reheat) without destroying food (which happens in the book). I was curious why the B&B served dinner?  Especially since the housekeeper cooks the food in advance (she does not stay until dinner) and then Holly has to reheat it (would you pay for this service).  Like I mentioned before, many people will find these things hilarious (I am just not one of them).  There was too much of it along with the bickering between Holly and Burl (tiresome and repetitive) and Holly ogling Jake (and thinking about him).  I believe the author was trying for screwball comedy type humor (but did not pull it off).  The mystery is in there among all the zaniness.  The culprit can be identified before the reveal (do not let the crazy distract you).  Holly gets herself into one dangerous situation after another since she refuses to listen to anyone (which gets her into trouble and then she needs rescuing).  The characters lacked development and Burl was annoying.  Better Dead was too long (I did not think the book would ever end).  Better Dead was not my cup of tea.  Downright Dead is the next book in the series and will be released on September 25, 2018.

Please remember that my review is just my personal thoughts regarding the book.  While a book may not appeal to me, other readers will find it wonderful.  That is the beauty of books.  There is something for everyone! I will return tomorrow on the last day of 2017 with my review of Kappy King and the Puppy Kaper by Amy Lillard.  Have an enchanting day.  Take care and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader  

Friday, December 29, 2017

Crust No One: A Bread Shop Mystery

Salutations!  Out of the Ashes by Tracie Peterson and Kimberley Woodhouse comes out on January 2.  It is the second book The Heart of Alaska series, but it can be read alone.  Jean-Michel Langelier and Katherine Demarchis were broken apart by her father five years prior.  They have both had difficult times since that day.  But now they have an opportunity to be together again.  But are they strong enough in body and spirit to take advantage of it?

Crust No One by Winnie Archer is the second installment in A Bread Shop Mystery series.  Ivy Culpepper has found solace at Yeast of Eden run by her friend and mentor Olaya Solis in Santa Sofia, California.  The Blackbird Ladies (as Ivy as dubbed them) come into the shop to partake in the delicious goodies and chat (gossip).  Miguel Baptista calls to hire Ivy (professional photographer) to do photographs for his menus, advertising, and web site for Baptista’s (the restaurant he is remodeling).  Ivy had hoped that the spark between them would flare up again, but there is something holding Miguel back.  The Blackbird Ladies are worried when Mustache Hank, the local produce man, disappears.  He has missed his deliveries, and no one has seen him recently.  Miguel is also concerned about Hank who provides produce for his restaurant and has never missed a delivery.  Ivy (who only met the man once) and Miguel team up look for Hank Rivera.  They get assistance from the loquacious Blackbird Ladies who know all the local gossip.  Hank had recently gone through a divorce from his high school sweetheart and he was having financial difficulties.  Ivy and Olaya are also preparing for the Winter Wonderland Festival where they will have a booth.  What happened to Hank?  Will romance bloom between Ivy and Miguel? 

Crust No One is the second book in A Bread Shop Mystery series.  It can be read as a standalone since the author provides the needed background information and a summary of events from the first book are included.  The cozy elements are the dominant part of the book.  Ivy settling into her new home, making bread, chatting, enjoying Winter Wonderland Festival, the various Blackbird Ladies, walking, eating, etc.  The mystery is different with a missing person (instead of Ivy stumbling over a dead body).  It is a medium level mystery and readers might not figure out all the elements (I do not want to say too much and give anything away).  The issues between Miguel and Ivy were not enjoyable (I wanted to lock them in a room and tell them to talk it out).  They broke up after high school and have yet to discuss the why.  At the end of the book, the topic is finally addressed (but you will have guessed what happened long before then).  I found the pace to be a little slow for my liking and my attention was not held by this story.  The investigation consists of talking to people.  These talks can provide pertinent information and vital clues.  The story could have used some action and a faster pace.  Ivy’s thinking/speculation and repetition of details (how many times do I need to be told Mrs. Branford’s age) along with bread making fill the book.  I thought it was odd that Ivy became so invested in looking for a man she only met (briefly) once.  Something else that stood out to me was when Miguel contacted Ivy for her photography services, she did not contact him back immediately.  She waits two days because she will only do things on her terms (with regard to Miguel).  Did she forget this is a business transaction and not personal?  I preferred Kneaded to Death to Crust No One (what captivated in the first book was missing in this one).  Crust No One could have used a few tweaks. 

I appreciate you visiting today and reading my review.  I will return tomorrow to discuss Better Dead by Pamela Kopfler.  It is the first story in A B&B Spirits Mystery series.    May you have a very special day.  Take care and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Stowed Away: A Maine Clambake Mystery

Greetings!  The Lacemaker by Laura Frantz will be released on January 2.  Lady Elizabeth "Liberty" Lawson is preparing for her marriage to Miles Cullen Roth.  The night before the wedding, her life is forever changed.  Liberty must adapt to her new world and pick a side.  Her father is a Tory and loyal to the King.  Williamsburg has become a Patriot town and a revolution is brewing.  The only person to aid Liberty is Noble Rynallt, a Patriot.  What choice will Liberty make?

Stowed Away by Barbara Ross is the sixth book in A Maine Clambake Mystery series.  Julia Snowden is getting ready for another tourist season in Busman’s Harbor, Maine.  Julia and her family own the Snowden Family Clambake Company.  They host authentic Maine clambakes on Morrow Island.  Windsholme, the old mansion on Morrow Island, suffered severe fire damage and Quentin Tupper is bringing an architect to provide an evaluation on the house.  Wyatt Jane, the architect, went to prep school with Julia (Julia is less than pleased to see her).  Wyatt arrived on the reclusive Geoffrey Bower’s yacht, Garbo.  She invites them to dinner that night to see some of her work and they are surprised to see their friend, Genevieve Pelletier who is the chef for the yacht.  The next evening, Julia gets frantic call from Wyatt.  Julia races over and Geoffrey Bower is dead in the dining room with a strange grimace on his face. Julia had noticed a diamond ring on the table which disappears before the police arrive on the scene.   There was something about the diamond that looked familiar to Julia.  Suspicion falls onto Wyatt and Quentin asks Julia to investigate the murder.  Julia dives into her investigation and begins by chatting with the crew.  She wants to see if any of them had a motive to kill Mr. Bower.  But then Geoffrey’s attorney arrives with news that surprises them all and changes the focus of the investigation.  Who is the killer?  Will they find the culprit before the crew departs town?

Stowed Away is nicely written and has a good pace.  While Stowed Away is the sixth book in the series, it can be read alone.  All the necessary details are included in the books.  There are many cozy elements in the book.  Getting the business ready for the season, Genevieve and her romance with Sgt. Tom Flynn, why Julia dislikes Wyatt, Page’s friend, Page’s friend Vanessa Bailey with green eyes just like Chris’, Julia’s romance with Chris Durand, whether to renovate or tear down Windsholme, and the upcoming Family Day clambake (for friends, employees, and family).  The mystery is interesting, and many readers will not solve it before the reveal.  Can it be solved?  Yes. The clues are there to aid readers in solving the crime. There is a delightful twist that will surprise you (unless you have been paying close attention).  This is my favorite book in A Maine Clambake Mystery series.  I especially appreciated the complex mystery  (great details and active sleuthing) and that the romance between Chris and Julia was in the background.  Ms. Ross has created a lovely community of people in A Maine Clambake Mystery series. The main characters are smart, caring and friendly (instead of silly, bumbling fools).  Fans of A Maine Clambake Mystery series will be delighted with Stowed Away.

Thank you for visiting today.  2017 is quickly winding down.  I will be featuring Crust No One by Winnie Archer next time.  May you have a happy day.  Take care and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

A Courtship on Huckleberry Hill: The Matchmakers of Huckleberry Hill

Welcome!  Another One Bites the Crust by Ellie Alexander will be published on January 2.  It is the seventh book in A Bakeshop Mystery series.  The actor playing Antony in Antony and Cleopatra is murdered and Lance is the prime suspect.  Jules needs to prove his innocence and find the killer.  Jules is also wondering about the key that Carlos gave her.  What did it mean? What does the key open?

A Courtship on Huckleberry Hill by Jennifer Beckstrand is the eighth installment in The Matchmakers of Huckleberry Hill series.  Anna and Felty Helmuth lives in Bonduel, Wisconsin on Huckleberry Hill.  Anna has had great success in finding the perfect mates for her grandchildren.  She has found the perfect match for her granddaughter, Elsie Stutzman.  Now she just needs to find a way to get them together.  Elsie has signed on as the local schoolteacher.  Elsie is known for being outspoken (which has gotten her into trouble in the recent past) along with being determined and stubborn (feisty).  She loves teaching, but Elsie has been having trouble with fourteen-year-old Wally Sensenig.  Wally only has one full leg and is missing fingers on one hand (threshing accident), but Elsie will not let Wally use that as an excuse for not working up to his full potential.  Wally has been using his disability to manipulate people and to get what he wants.  But he has finally met his match in Elsie Stutzman.  Elsie is also trying to convince her grandmother to wait on matching her up with an eligible bachelor.  Elsie’s last relationship did not end well, and she is not ready to try again.

Sam Sensenig, Wally’s older brother, takes care of the family farm, his ill mother and his siblings.  He feels guilty for Wally’s accident and gives into to Wally’s “requests” (had electricity installed in Wally’s bedroom, purchased him an Xbox along with games, and does not require him to do chores).  Wally tells Sam that the teacher is picking on him.  A riled Sam goes to the school to confront Elsie about picking on his disabled brother.  Elsie tries to explain to Sam what she wishes to accomplish with Wally, but she meets with resistance.  It will take time for Sam to realize that Elsie only wants what is best for Wally.  Sam is also dealing with Anna Felty and her numerous attempts to get him to meet her granddaughter, Elizabeth.  She keeps sending him letters with potholders enclosed.  If the young lady needs her grandmother to match her up, Sam is not sure he wants to meet her, nor does he have the time.  Can Elsie get Sam to see the error of his ways?  Will Elsie be able to change Wally and his outlook?  Can Anna succeed in bringing these two stubborn individuals together?

I found A Courtship on Huckleberry Hill to be well-written, engaging and it had a good pace (which makes for a book that is enjoyable to read).  Anna and Felty Helmuth are such delightful characters.  They are in their 80s, and Anna has no qualms meddling in her grandchildren’s lives.  Anna is a quirky woman who wears sweaters that are not approved by the Ordung, is a knitting machine, and cooks the worst food (Felty finds it delicious, but his taste buds are not to be trusted).  Elsie is a strong, determined, persistent yet compassionate and kind woman.  These qualities make her an excellent teacher.  She wants what is best for her students.  I ended up liking Sam in the end, but he was irksome (I did not think he would ever see reason).  I could not believe how oblivious he was to Rose Mast (neighbor who was in love with him).  His cluelessness to the situation went on a little too long for my liking.  It was cute and humorous how Anna kept trying to match up Sam and Elsie without success.  The scenes did have me chuckling.  A Courtship on Huckleberry Hill can be read as a standalone.  I do, though, recommend the other novels in The Matchmakers of Huckleberry Hill series (each one is unique and a pleasure to read).  Anna is determined to find matches for all her grandchildren whether they want it or not.  In A Courtship on Huckleberry Hill, you will find yourself cheering for Elsie as she sets out to change Wally and Sam.  I am eager to read Home on Huckleberry Hill (June 26, 2018) which is the next novel in The Matchmakers of Huckleberry Hill series.

I appreciate you visiting today and reading my review.  I will return tomorrow with my thoughts on Stowed Away by Barbara Ross.  I hope that you have a beautiful day.  Take care and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Murder with Lemon Tea Cakes: A Daisy's Tea Garden Mystery

Murder with Lemon Tea Cakes by Karen Rose Smith is the first book in A Daisy’s Tea Garden Mystery series.  Daisy Swanson co-owns Daisy’s Tea Garden (housed in a beautiful old Victorian) with her aunt, Iris Albright in Willow Creek, Pennsylvania.  Iris has been dating Harvey Fisk who is working to obtain a divorce from his wife, Monica.  At a party honoring the 25th anniversary of Harvey’s store, Men’s Trends at Daisy’s Tea Garden, Monica storms in and accuses Harvey of hiding assets (talk about a party pooper).  Iris leaves to meet Harvey for a date and Daisy hears a scream.  Harvey is dead in their herb garden from blunt force trauma and one of their statues is missing.  Detective Rappaport is on the case, and he has decided Iris is the culprit.  Daisy with the help of former detective, Jonas Groft query the various suspects.  It turns out that Harvey had recently changed his will which angered his children.  Could one of them have murdered Harvey?  Daisy is worried about her youngest daughter, Jazzi.  She has been acting out lately, and Daisy discovers that Jazzi wants to locate her biological mother.  Daisy knows she needs to support Jazzi’s decision and help her in any way she can.  Business is booming at the tea garden courtesy of Harvey’s murder and Daisy brings on additional staff.  Daisy follows the clues in the hopes of catching the real killer and removing Aunt Iris from the suspect list.  Who murdered Harvey?  

Murder with Lemon Tea Cakes is nicely written and has a good pace.  The author sets the stage in this book for the series.  She establishes the characters, Daisy’s Tea Garden, and the town.  I found the characters to be congenial and relatable (except for Detective Rappaport).  Daisy is a smart, strong and caring woman who loves her family and is striving to make a success of her new business.  She is a widow with two daughters (one biological and one adopted).  Thanks to Karen Rose Smith’s description, I can picture Daisy’s Tea Garden in my head.  She provides sumptuous descriptions of the tea and food served at the tea garden (recipes at the end of the book).  I was not a fan of cantankerous Detective Rappaport, but their does need to be one disagreeable character (someone who readers love to hate).  He was like a dog with a bone.  He gets a hold of an idea and does not let go.  The mystery was appealing with several suspects and misdirection.  The investigation mostly consisted of questioning (I wish there had been more action).  The murder was not the prominent part of the story.  The mystery can be solved before the reveal if pay careful attention to the clues.  More time is devoted to the tea garden, Daisy’s family, food descriptions, tea, talking, cats and flirting.  There are two possible romantic partners for Daisy.  I am sincerely hoping that this will not result in a love triangle in future books in the series.  Murder with Lemon Tea Cakes is a lovely cozy mystery, and I will be reading the next book in A Daisy’s Tea Garden Mystery series. Fans of Karen Rose Smith and A Caprice De Luca Mystery series will be entertained by Murder with Lemon TeaCakes.  The next book in A Daisy's Tea Garden Mystery series is Murder with Cinnamon Scones which will be published on May 29, 2018.

Thank you for visiting today.  I will be featuring A Courtship on Huckleberry Hill by Jennifer Beckstrand tomorrow.  It is the eighth book in The Matchmakers of Huckleberry Hill series.  I hope you will stop by and see what I thought about this Amish romance.  May you have a pleasing day.  Take care and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader

Monday, December 25, 2017

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas!  May each of you have a joyous and blessed day!

The Avid Reader

Saturday, December 23, 2017

The House on Foster Hill

Christmas is almost upon us!  Are you ready?  I am working frantically to get everything completed in time.  Wish me luck!

The House on Foster Hill by Jaime Jo Wright is a Christian mystery story and the author's debut novel.  Ivy Thorpe lives with her father in Oakwood, Wisconsin.  In March of 1906, a body has been found in the hollowed tree on Foster Hill near Foster Hill House.  Who is the young woman and why was she killed?  Ivy wants to find out the identity of the woman along with who harmed her.  However, the one person who can assist her is also the individual who left her when she needed him the most.  Then it is discovered that the victim had recently given birth.  Ivy is determined to get justice for the woman and locate the missing child.

Kaine Prescott has decided to relocate from San Diego to Oakwood, Wisconsin.  She lost her husband, Danny two years prior and Kaine is certain his death was no accident.  The police, though, will not investigate further nor they believe that Kaine has a stalker.  Kaine bought Foster Hill House (unseen and without an inspection) in her grandfather’s hometown.  When Kaine starts work on the home, she finds clues to the century old mystery.  Will Kaine be able to discover what happened to the young woman who died in 1906?

The House on Foster Hill splits time between 1906 and the present.  I felt the author did the story a disservice by splitting the focus.  The story felt muddled.  The first two chapters of the novel felt creepy and mysterious.  However, it soon fizzled into humdrum (especially the contemporary sections).  I found Ivy more interesting than Kaine. The romance (for both characters) was more prominent than the mystery.  The only reason for the mystery was for the two women to find love.  The author tried to put too much into one book (needed editing and a major rewrite).  I found the story slow-paced (paint dries faster) and lacking in flow.  Ivy kept a journal in which she wrote stories about the people who died (made up stories).  She was determined to solve the murder and kept running off which put her in danger multiple times (reckless).  Kaine buys a house that needs massive renovations in a town she has never visited.  She has no DIY skills or tools.  She overreacts each incident.  There was a repetition of information, and I never felt the suspense (or tension).  The mystery is one that plays out (another disappointment) with the details being revealed in the final 10%. The ending felt incomplete.   I found The House on Foster Hill to be a tedious book to read (felt like I was slogging through a mud pit).  The House on Foster Hill is available on Kindle Unlimited (a program through

Thank you for taking the time out of your day to read my latest review.  I will return on December 26 with my evaluation of Murder with Lemon Tea Cakes by Karen Rose Smith.  I hope that each of you have a very Merry Christmas.  Take care and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader

Friday, December 22, 2017

In This Moment: The Baxter Family

Greetings!  Lies that Comfort and Betray by Rosemary Simpson will be available on January 30.  It is the second book in A Gilded Age Mystery series.   
In This Moment by Karen Kingsbury is part of The Baxter Family series.  Wendell Quinn is the principal of Hamilton High School and he is tired of what is happening in his school (drugs, violence, high teen pregnancy).  Wendell is going to start a controversial after school program that could cost him his job.  Wendell is a Christian and has decided to start a voluntary after-school Bible study and prayer group.  After one year, Wendell has seen many changes to his school.  Test scores are up, teen pregnancies and violence are down along with violence and drug use.  The biggest change is in Cami Nelson.  She is no longer angry, she believes in God and has discovered a love of writing. Wendell tells the parents about the program and Andy Nelson, Cami’s father, is not pleased.  He contacts the local newspaper and files a lawsuit against Wendell.  Wendell needs to make a choice.  Stand up for what he believes in (what is best for his students) and fight the lawsuit or cave into pressure and disband the group.  Wendell decides to fight and hires Luke Baxter to defend him. Can Wendell win the lawsuit, or will he lose everything?
In This Moment has some nice writing and a decent pace.  I did not realize In This Moment was part of such a large series (twenty seven books in the series) until I opened the book.  I had trouble reading the sections about Luke Baxter and his extended family.  There are numerous family members and I was not aware of their various relationships and backstories (it was confusing).   The Baxter family is not heavily featured in this book (fair warning to fans of the series). You can find the complete list of the books in the series here. I found Wendell Quinn courageous for standing up for what he believes in and trying to improve the lives of others.  Wendell trusts that God will get him through any situation (which He can) and his vocal about his beliefs.  The story, though, is expected.  It follows a predictable path with an unoriginal ending.  The religious aspect is dominant and comes across as preachy.  You can tell where the author stands on the issues presented in the book.   I hope that there are people like Wendell Quinn out in the world, but I have never meet a person like him (or any of the people in the book).  The characters felt forced (contrived, fake) and many situations seemed unrealistic.  I am giving In This Moment 3 out of 5 stars.  
If you find my reviews helpful, please consider joining my blog (at right).  You can join via Google or email.  I will be sharing my evaluation of The House on Foster Hill by Jaime Jo Wright next time. I hope that you have a beautiful day. Take care and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Dead of Winter: A Lily Dale Mystery

Welcome!  Survival of the Fritters by Ginger Bolton will be published on January 30 along with Class Reunions are Murder by Libby KleinAmish Cooking Class - The Celebration by Wanda Brunstetter will be available on February 1 (I am looking forward to reading it).

Dead of Winter by Wendy Corsi Staub is the third book in A Lily Dale Mystery series.  The night before Bella Jordan heard a scream out on the lake and the next morning she discovers a dead body wrapped in a tarp on the shore.   Then Max’s friend, Jiffy Arden (who manages to lose his belonging on a routine basis) disappears one day during snowstorm.  To top it off, Misty Starr (Jiffy’s mom) disappears.  What is going on in Lily Dale?  Did Jiffy see something the night the body was dropped into the lake?   
Dead of Winter is not a standalone novel.  You need to read the first two books in the series prior to Dead of Winter.  The story is told from multiple POVs which makes for a confusing story (and frustrating).  It switches between Bella, Max, Jiffy, Misty, and the killer.  Then there are the multiple townspeople who all seem to be psychic (but cannot find the missing kid or prevent him from being kidnapped). The paranormal elements are not believable (come across as contrived).  I felt that Dead of Winter needed a rewrite and editing.  There is a significant amount of repetition (the same details over and over).  The story also jumps around (the multiple POV thing).  Dead of Winter lacks flow and continuity (and it way too long).  The ending was unfinished.  Important details were left out (like what happened to the four stolen gold rings).  The mystery is one that plays out and readers are not given a chance to solve the murder.  I did not enjoy reading Dead of Winter (it was blah).  This was the last A Lily Dale Mystery for me.  The first two books in the series are Nine Lives and Something Buried, Something Blue.
I appreciate you taking the time to visit today and read my latest review.  I will return tomorrow with In This Moment by Karen Kingsbury (part of The Baxter Family series).  How much did Santa pay for his sleigh?  Nothing--it was on the house!  I hope you have a cheerful day.  Take care and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

The Dark Lake: A Gemma Woodstock Mystery

Good Morrow!  Beneath the Summer Sun by Kelly Irvin is the second book in Every Amish Season seriesIt will be published on January 16.  Scone Cold Killer by Lena Gregory will be available on January 23.  It is the first book in All-Day Breakfast CafĂ© Mystery series.

The Dark Lake by Sarah Bailey is the first book in A Gemma Woodstock Mystery series.  Detective Sergeant Gemma Woodstock lives and works in Smithson, Australia.  Gemma receives a call regarding the strangulation death of Rosalind Ryan.  She was found by a jogger floating in Sonny Lake with red roses surrounding her body.  Gemma went to school with Rosalind and were once friends (as well as rivals).  Rosalind had recently returned to town to teach drama at Smithson Secondary College.  Rosalind was a woman who spoke her mind and recently put on an adaptation of Romeo and Juliet (she was quite insistent about it).  Gemma starts to dig into Rosalind’s life.  Despite her popularity, Rosalind was something of an enigma.  Why had Rosalind quit her job in Sydney and returned to Smithson?  Gemma is determined to track down the killer despite the threats to her own life and that of her son’s.  Will Gemma find the killer, or will she end up the next victim? 
The Dark Lake had an extremely dislikeable main character.  You know you do not like a character when you keep hoping the killer will do her in.  Gemma’s personal life was a mess and it spilled over into her work.  She is living with one man (father of her son) while having an affair with another man.  There are numerous sex scenes and it seems to be all Gemma can think about (it was obsessive).  Gemma came across as unstable.  I do want to mention that the book does contain foul language (a pet peeve of mine).  I found there to be a lack of action and suspense.  The mystery comes across as complex, but the solution is obvious.  The book seemed long and drawn out (lacking in suspense and action).  The same details kept being repeated.  The focus of The Dark Lake was on Gemma and her messed up life instead of Rosalind’s murder.  The book had potential.  It just needed a major rewrite and severe editing.  You can get the prologue and first five chapters of The Dark Lake in a free preview (click here).  I give The Dark Lake 2 out of 5 stars. 

Thank you for visiting today.  What did the gingerbread put on his bed?  A cookie sheet!  I will return tomorrow.  Take care and Happy Reading!


The Avid Reader

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

As Bright As Heaven: Latest novel by Susan Meissner

Welcome!  Christmas is rapidly approaching, and I am nowhere near ready for the holiday.  I could use another month or two to prepare!  Beneath A Prairie Moon by Kim Vogel Sawyer will be published on March 20.  It is a delightfully entertaining Christian, historical romance novel.

As Bright As Heaven is the latest novel by Susan Meissner which is set in 1918.  Pauline and Thomas Bright along with their family are relocating from Quakertown to Philadelphia.  Thomas has been offered the opportunity to work with his uncle, Fred Bright and eventually inherit the Bright Funeral Home.  Pauline is hoping it will provide a better life for their family (three daughters:  Evelyn, Willa and Maggie) and, after losing her six-month-old son, she feels that Death is near her.  A few months later, Thomas is drafted and their neighbor’s son, Jamie Sutcliff goes off to training camp.  Then the Spanish Flu arrives with a vengeance and thousands are dying.  Pauline and Maggie are taking food to those without family to assist them.  Maggie is waiting for her mother and hears a baby crying.  She finds the infant’s mother dead, and Maggie feels the baby is a replacement for the brother she lost.  The Bright family takes in the child and names him Alex.  But then Willa becomes ill with the dreaded flu and Pauline is the next to become infected.  Amidst sickness and war there is hope with little Alex.  The Bright family will need to band together during this difficult time and find a way to move forward. 
As Bright As Heaven has a unique point-of-view with the Spanish Flu (instead of focusing on the war).  The POV switches between Pauline and the three daughters (told in first person).  We get to see life through each of their eyes with each person providing a unique perspective given their ages (Willa is the youngest at 6).  It does, though, disrupt the flow of the book (pulls you out of the story).   The book is nicely written, but I did find the pace a little slow during the first half of the story.  It picks up in the second half as the girls grow older.  I thought it was intriguing that Evelyn goes to medical school and is working to become a psychiatrist. This was very unusual for a woman in the 1920s.  The characters are well developed, and I appreciated the strong female characters.  The author did a good job at portraying the time period, the panic and horror of the Spanish Flu epidemic, how the war affected families, and the changing roles of women in America during the 1920s.  As Bright As Heaven has love, sorrow, hope, grief, tragedy, fear and so much more.  Get swept back in time in Susan Meisner’s latest novel As Bright As Heaven.  Readers who enjoy historical dramas will enjoy reading As Bright As HeavenAs Bright As Heaven will be available on February 6, 2018.
Other Susan Meissner books that I recommend are The Shape of Mercy, The Fall of Marigolds and Lady in WaitingWhat happened when Santa's cat swallowed a ball of yarn?  She has mittens!  Thank you for visiting and reading my latest book review.  I will be featuring The Dark Lake by Sarah Bailey next time.  It is the first book in A Gemma Woodstock Mystery series.  Make sure to take time to relax during this busy time of year.  Take care and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader

Monday, December 18, 2017

Ginger Snapped: A Spice Shop Mystery

Hello!  Another One Bites the Crust by Ellie Alexander will be released on January 2.  It is the seventh book in A Bakeshop Mystery seriesAmish Sweethearts by Amy Clipston will be published on January 9.

Ginger Snapped by Gail Oust is the fifth book in A Spice Shop Mystery series.  Piper Prescott owns Spice It Up! In Brandywine Creek.  It is April and Melly Prescott, Piper’s former mother-in-law, is getting married to Judge Cottrell Herman.  Love has mellowed Melly and changed the relationship between the two women.  During the wedding, Sgt. Beau Tucker and John Strickland (the coroner) get phones calls and rush off.  After the wedding, Piper finds out that a body was found in Sheriff Wyatt McBride’s pond.  Piper rushes over to his home worried about Wyatt (Piper is attracted to him).  It turns out that local realtor, Shirley Randolph is the victim.  Since Wyatt had been seen with Shirley recently, he is a prime suspect.  Wyatt is suspended, and Beau Tucker is made interim sheriff.  To clear Wyatt’s name and get him reinstated as sheriff, Piper along with Reba Mae and Wyatt explore Shirley’s life to see who could have wished her harm.  Piper realizes she is close to the truth when someone runs her off the road one night and then breaks into her home.  What was the killer looking for in her home?  The culprit is setting up Wyatt to take the fall, and Piper is not going to let it happen.   
Ginger Snapped is a light, humorous cozy mystery.  I found it nicely written with a steady pace that made it easy to read.  Gail Oust shows what life is like in a small, Southern town where everyone knows your business, gossip abounds, nepotism is alive and thriving, and the people are friendly (and very nosy).  The jealousy, flirting and attraction between Wyatt and Piper was prevalent throughout Ginger Snapped.  While Ginger Snapped is the fifth book in A Spice Shop Mystery series, it can be read alone.  The author provides the necessary background on Piper, the spice shop, the town and secondary characters.  We get to experience Piper’s life at the shop and with her family.  I am not a fan of Piper’s ex-husband and his new wife.  They are annoying and hinder my enjoyment of the story.  I keep hoping that CJ will become the killer’s next victim (and Amber will get eaten by a shark).  The investigation consists of Piper asking questions and nosing around the victim’s home with Reba Mae (who is in love with victim’s closet of clothes and shoes).  When the killer’s identity is revealed, most readers will not be surprised.  The why, though, takes a little longer to figure out.  I appreciated the description of the spice shop and the information on ginger (it was interesting). Readers who enjoy hilarity, hijinks and homicide in a small Southern town, pick up a copy of Ginger Snapped.  The first four books in A Spice Shop Mystery series are Rosemary and Crime, Kill 'Em with Cayenne, Cinnamon Toasted and Curried Away.

I hope you found my review helpful.  I will be showcasing As Bright As Heaven by Susan Meissner tomorrow.  Why are Christmas trees like bad knitters?  They both drop their needles!  I hope that you have a jolly day.  Take care and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader