Monday, December 31, 2018

Live and Let Pie by Ellie Alexander

Live and Let Pie (A Bakeshop Mystery Book 9) by [Alexander, Ellie]
Happy New Year's Eve!  2018 has flown by so quickly for me.  I sincerely hope 2019 will be a better year for my mother and myself (we have had a rough year).  Do you make New Year's Resolutions and do you keep them?  I always had trouble keeping my resolutions. Murder, She Meowed by Liz Mugavero will be released on January 29 along with Dead as a Door Knocker by Diane Kelly.

Live and Let Pie by Ellie Alexander is the ninth A Bakeshop Mystery.  Jules Capshaw is busy running Torte and supervising the renovations.  With the shop expansion, it is time to hire some new employees.  Jules’ mother, Helen and her new husband have been house hunting.  Helen requests that Jules accompany her to look at a house on Emigrant Lake and they can then enjoy a picnic afterword.  Unfortunately, the picnic takes a backseat when two teenage girls discover a skeleton while diving.  George Mill went missing in the 1960s when the town of Klamath Junction was flooded for Emigrant Lake expansion, and now his body has finally been found.  Edgar Hannagan is selling his lot, and he has numerous interested parties including the owner of the Nightingale B&B and the director of the homeless council.  When Edgar is found murdered, Jules sets out to track down the killer.  She must work in her sleuthing in between the grand re-opening of Torte, two bickering employees, the 58 year old crime and her indecision regarding Carlos.  Jules dives into baking to avoid thinking about her marriage, and her delectable treats provide a handy excuse when visiting the people on her suspect list.  Come along to Ashland, Oregon for Shakespeare, friendly faces, tasty desserts and a touch of murder.

Live and Let Pie takes us back to Ashland, Oregon and Jules Capshaw.  She cannot wait for the renovations on Torte to be finished.  Jules is hiring three new employees who she hopes will fit in with the rest of her staff, but change can be difficult for people.  I like Ellie Alexander’s conversational writing style.  It makes for an easy, breezy book with steady pacing.  Baking is prominently featured in the story.  Creating and baking of pastry is described in detail (one example is a fluffernutter).  I find that it interrupts the flow of the story with so many baking breaks.  I wish the author would take the time to further develop the mystery instead. While Live and Let Pie is the ninth book in the series, it can be read alone.  The author summarizes what has happened to Jules so far for new readers.  Jules is still contemplating what to do about her marriage.  This has been going on for nine books and it is time for a decision to be made.  Personally, I am not a fan of the suave Carlos who is handsome and seems to charm everyone with his personality and cooking (too perfect).  I kept hoping Jules would ditch the chef for Thomas.  Jules also has a major decision to make regarding her living arrangements courtesy of a wonderful offer from the Professor and her mother (I do not know why she hesitated). I like the staff of Torte along with Helen, the Professor, Thomas and Lance.  Lance provides many humorous moments in Live and Let Pie.  One cannot help but laugh at Lance’s antics, and he does make the sleuthing more entertaining.  I enjoyed the descriptions of the finished Torte (though, I would not like going up and down those stairs). The two mysteries are not at the forefront of the book.  I do like how they tie together, but the solution was not surprising.  I would have preferred full closure on the mysteries instead of supposition.  I am giving Live and Let Pie 3.5 out of 5 stars.  There are recipes at the end of the book for those who wish to recreate some of Torte’s creations. 

Crewel and Unusual: A Haunted Yarn Shop Mystery (Haunted Yarn Shop Mystery Series) by [MacRae, Molly]Meet Your Baker is the first book in A Bakeshop Mystery series.  You can find the complete list of book in the series here on Amazon.  Ellie Alexander also writes A Sloan Krause Mystery series and A Rose City Mystery series as Kate Dyer-Seeley.  Thank you for joining me today.  I hope you have a safe and lively New Year's Eve.  I will feature Crewel and Unusual by Molly MacRae tomorrow.  Take care and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader 

Sunday, December 30, 2018

Alaskan Holiday by Debbie Macomber

Alaskan Holiday: A Novel by [Macomber, Debbie]
Greetings!  The Forgiving Jar by Wanda E. Brunstetter comes out on February 5 along with A Faithful Gathering by Leslie GouldCorned Beef and Casualties by Lynn Cahoon will also be released on February 5.  It is A Tourist Trap Mystery Novella.

Alaskan Holiday by Debbie Macomber takes readers to Ponder, Alaska.  Josie Avery has spent the last six months working as the chef at Caribou Lake Lodge.  The season is over, and Josie is heading back to Seattle to start her new position as sous chef at Chef Douglas Anton’s new restaurant.  Josie will miss Alaska, the freedom to create unique dishes with local game, Jack Corcoran who supplies game to the lodge and loves to eat, and will especially miss swordsmith, Palmer Saxon.  Josie and Palmer spent many hours together during the season.  But her mother is her only family and she lives in Seattle.  Plus, working for Chef Anton is a wonderful opportunity and she has worked hard to obtain her culinary training.  Palmer proposes the night before Josie departs, but she feels she cannot stay (though she is very tempted).  The next morning, Josie awakens late and learns she missed the last ferry out of Ponder.  Jack insists that this is Palmer’s chance to convince Josie to stay in their rustic town (and keep cooking her delicious food).  When Josie finally departs for Seattle, the pair want to make their long distance relationship work. Palmer is willing to give Josie the time and space she needs.  Reality gets in the way of their plans and a picture of Josie with the handsome chef awakens the green eyed monster in Palmer.  Can the magic of Christmas find a way to bring these two star-crossed lovers together? 

Alaskan Holiday is a charming story.  I loved Debbie Macomber’s descriptions of the Alaskan wilderness and the people who live in Ponder.  Jack Corcoran’s is a delightful character.  He is rough around the edges, but a softy inside.  He loves to eat and wants to keep his favorite chef in Alaska.  Jack provides plenty of humor in Alaskan Holiday.  Josie has fallen for the quiet, rugged Palmer Saxon who is a master swordsmith.  But she does not want to leave her mother alone in Seattle plus she has gotten her dream job of working for a big name chef.  But if two people love each other, life has a way of working things out.  Compromise is the key to any relationship.  I thought Alaskan Holiday was well-written, with engaging characters and a good flow.  While the story does have an expected outcome, it did not hinder my reading pleasure.  Debbie Macomber has a way of drawing readers into her books and keeping them entertained.  I am giving Alaskan Holiday 4 out of 5 stars.  Alaskan Holiday is a light, feel good story which is just what we need during the holiday season. 

Live and Let Pie (A Bakeshop Mystery Book 9) by [Alexander, Ellie]My favorite series by Debbie Macomber is The Blossom Street series.  Thank you for joining me today.  I will return tomorrow to feature Live and Let Pie by Ellie Alexander.  It is the ninth A Bakeshop Mystery.  I hope you have an upbeat day.  Take care of yourself and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader

Saturday, December 29, 2018

Dear Santa by Nancy Naigle

Good Day!  Grimoires, Spas and Chocolate Straws by Erin Johnson is out today.  It is the eighth book in the Spells & Caramels series starring Imogen and Prince Hank.  I will be featuring Grimoires, Spas and Chocolate Straws on January 11 as part of the Great Escapes Virtual Book Tour.  

Dear Santa by Nancy Naigle has us traveling to Pleasant Sands, North Carolina.  Angela Carson owns Heart of Christmas located in an old lighthouse in Pleasant Sands, North Carolina.  She is the third generation to run the store, but Angela is unsure how much longer the store can survive.  Business has not been as brisk this year and it has gotten worse since Christmas Galore opened.  While Heart of Christmas sells one of a kind handcrafted items, Christmas Galore carries more affordable options.  Angela’s niece suggests she write to Santa via the Dear Santa app (sponsored by Christmas Galore) for help.  Angela takes the opportunity to vent and waits to see what type of response she receives.  Geoff Paisley manages Christmas Galore with his mother, and they move every two years to open a new location.  Dear Santa is Rebecca Paisley’s special project and answers certain letters personally.  When Rebecca becomes ill, she asks Geoff to answer the letters for her.  A letter from Anita C. Miracle intrigues Geoff and he soon begins writing to her on a regular basis.  When Geoff learns that Anita C. Miracle is Angela he is surprised, since they clash whenever they run into each other.   Is there a chance for these two to reconcile their differences?  See if the magic of Christmas can work on Angela and Geoff in Dear Santa.

Dear Santa is the perfect book for those who love to watch the Hallmark Christmas movies.  It is nicely written with a cute romance and the story progresses along at a steady pace.  I enjoyed the Dear Santa letters are the beginning of the chapters along with the trivia for Pleasant Sands, North Carolina.  I liked the Angela’s store, Heart of Christmas.  The store is in a lighthouse that features handcrafted items in a cozy atmosphere which I think is a wonderful idea.  It is a shame that Angela did not keep up with the times.  She was still running the store the same way it had been since the beginning (no online presence).  Pleasant Sands sounded like a charming coastal town with friendly residents.  I admit that I was not a fan of the main characters (Geoff and Angela) and especially disliked Angela’s sister, Marie (not supportive of her sister’s store).  My favorite character was Angela’s niece.  I did appreciate that Angela grew from her experience and I liked the epilogue.  I did find that Dear Santa was very similar to the popular movie You’ve Got Mail.  There is a secondary storyline regarding Rebecca Paisley and how she met Geoff’s father along with Virgil, their operations director.  Unfortunately, the storyline seems to peter out and readers are left with unanswered questions.  I was curious how Geoff did not realize he was writing to Angela write away.  It was extremely obvious (Angela’s niece would have figured this one out sooner).  I kept hoping for a different solution for Angela’s store and was disappointed how this thread played out.  I wanted to give Angela a good talking too and suggest ways to improve her business.  I am giving Dear Santa 3 out of 5 stars.  Dear Santa is a book for readers who love feel-good romance novels. 

Alaskan Holiday: A Novel by [Macomber, Debbie]Thank you for stopping by today.  I will see you tomorrow when I return to feature Alaskan Holiday by Debbie Macomber.  I sincerely hope you have a day filled with happiness.  Take care and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader

Friday, December 28, 2018

A Christmas Revelation by Anne Perry

Good Day!  Flights of Fancy by Jen Turano will be released on January 1.  It is the first novel in the American Heiresses series.  Jen Turano rights humorous, historical romance novels.  Hot Fudge Murder by Cynthia Baker comes out on January 29 along with The Gun Also Rises by Sherry Harris (I will feature on January 28). 

A Christmas Revelation by Anne Perry is the sixteenth novel in The Christmas Stories series.  The first book in the series is A Christmas Journey.  Worm lives at the clinic on Portpool Lane thanks to the kindly Claudine Burroughs.  Worm is out and about one day when he witnesses a lovely lady get kidnapped by two men.  Worm runs back to the clinic and reports the problem to Squeaky Robinson, the clinic’s accountant.  Squeaky tries to distract Worm with preparations for Christmas, but he is not to be deterred.  The next morning, the pair set out to find where the kidnappers are hiding the woman.  They soon find her and learn that she has the situation well in hand.  Eloise has plans for bringing the two men to justice for more serious crimes, but she could use their help.  With the assistance of Worm and Squeaky, Eloise sets out to bag the criminals and make sure their stockings are filled with coal by local prison warden.
A Christmas Revelation is part of The Christmas Stories series, but it can be read as a standalone (I have not read any other book by this author).  I found A Christmas Revelation to be a charming story.  Worm is grateful to have a warm, safe place to live plus food in his belly.  He has never experienced Christmas before and Squeaky wants to make sure Worm gets the full experience.  I enjoy the interactions between Worm and Squeaky.  I especially liked the scene where Squeaky was trying to explain Jesus to Worm.  When Squeaky could not distract Worm from Eloise’s dilemma, he sets out to help the young lad.  Squeaky is familiar with the ways of the street and has connections that can help them.  I liked seeing Squeaky and Worm grow closer.  I also appreciated that Worm is developing a sense of wrong and right now that he is living at the clinic.  A Christmas Revelation contains good writing and steady pacing.  I felt the author captured the time period with the language, clothing, buildings, conveyances, and how Christmas is celebrated during that time.  I liked the reference to how they needed to obtain a Christmas tree thanks to Queen Victoria’s husband. I did feel the mystery was slightly disappointing and there was a loose thread or two at the end.  I am giving A Christmas Revelation 4 out of 5 stars. It is a short book with only 177 pages which makes it the perfect type of book to read on a cold afternoon.  A Christmas Revelation is an enticing Victorian Christmas mystery.  

I appreciate you visiting today and reading my review.  I will feature Dear Santa by Nancy Naigle next time.  I hope you have a festive day.  Take care and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader

Thursday, December 27, 2018

Woman of Courage by Wanda E. Brunstetter

farm life | Amish Farm 1024 x 768 | Amish Farm 1280 x 720 | Amish Farm 1680 x 1050Welcome!  With This Pledge by Tamera Alexander publishes on January 8 and it is the first book in The Carton Series.  Did you know that Wanda E. Brunstetter's husband, Richard takes photographs?  He takes beautiful photos of Amish country (like this one).  Find out more at

Woman of Courage by Wanda E. Brunstetter takes us on a journey to Dansville, New York in 1837.  Amanda Pearson, a young Quaker woman, is excited to marry her fiancĂ©, Nathan Lane the next day.  Then Nathan stops by and tells Amanda that he has fallen in love with another woman and is canceling their wedding.  Amanda decides to join Reverend and Mrs. Spalding on their mission in spreading Christ’s word to the Nez Perce Indians.  Her father is joining her on the long, perilous journey to the Oregon Territory.  Harvey Hanson is their guide for their trek with his knowledge of the wilderness and the various Indian tribes.  In Wyoming Territory, Amanda becomes ill and is rescued by trapper, Buck McFadden.  He takes her to Jim and Mary Breck’s cabin to recover.  Mary becomes Amanda’s friend and the first Indian she converts.  Jim and Buck want nothing to do with Amanda’s religion.  Buck has received terrible treatment from white men who claim to be Christians and prefers his solitary existence.  He is attracted to Amanda and he cannot help but overhear what she shares with Mary about God.  This has been a life altering journey for Amanda and she has yet to reach her final destination.  What does the future hold for Amanda?  Come along for the dangerous expedition in Woman of Courage.

Woman of Courage:  Collector’s Edition Continues the Story of Little Fawn has a beautiful cover.  The book contains Woman of Courage plus the story of Little Fawn, an Indian child that Amanda raises.  I found both stories to be well-written.  The author captured the time period and the hazards of traveling west.  Woman of Courage is different from Wanda E. Brunstetter’s Amish novels (in a good way).  Amanda is strong, Quaker woman who is intent on sharing Christianity with others especially the Nez Perce Indians.  She lives a Godly life and is an example to others.  Amanda’s journey is difficult and there are fatalities along the way.  Most women would return East when given the opportunity, but Amanda is determined to be a missionary.  The authors descriptions of the scenery, the various types of lodgings, how the people lived on the frontier, the clothing worn, and the people brought the story alive for me.  I could visualize Amanda’s journey.  It was interesting to learn about the herbal medicines utilized during this time period.  People in the west did not have access to a physician and it was important to know the healing properties of the herbs and other floral/fauna in their area.  It also helped them to flavor their dishes and know what to avoid (do not want to poison anyone by adding the wrong type of mushroom to their stew).  The pacing of the story varied.  There were some slow sections, but it did not detract from this inspirational novel.  I could tell the author did her research on the Indians based on her descriptions.  I liked learning about the different tribes, how they lived and their beliefs.  I appreciated that the author gave us Little Fawn’s story.  It is amazing that any woman survived out west during this time period.  Woman of Courage is a realistic story that will keep you reading late into the night. 

Thank you for taking the time out of your day to stop by.  I will be sharing my thoughts on A Christmas Revelation by Anne Perry tomorrow.  May you have a day filled with happiness.  Take care and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Avoiding the Mistletoe by Anne Greene

Avoiding the Mistletoe (Mistletoe, Jingle Bells, and Second Chances #1)
Happy Boxing Day!  I hope everyone had a happy Christmas.  With Winter's First Frost by Kelly Irvin releases on February 5 along with A Rebel at Pennington's by Rachel Brimble.   Anne Greene is a Christian author whose books include A Christmas Belle, Marriage by Arrangement, A Williamsburg Christmas, Recipe for a Husband, and Angel with Steel Wings.   

Avoiding the Mistletoe by Anne Greene takes us to 1865 in Lowell, Massachusetts.  Darcy Davenport wants to become one of Asa Mercer’s mail order brides and travel to Seattle, Washington.  She refuses to go, though, without her sister, Olivia Rose Baker.  Olivia is a widow who did not find marriage agreeable thanks to her abusive husband, but there are few opportunities for them in their hometown.  When Darcy points out that teaching positions are available, Olivia reluctantly agrees.  On May 28, 1866, the Mercer Maidens (as they are called) arrive to find hundreds of men meeting the ship which only has thirty-four women on board.  Sheriff Stark Macaulay is instantly smitten with Olivia when he sees her disembark.  Olivia, though, only sees his gray Confederate uniform which reminds her of the soldiers who killed her father and husband at Gettysburg.  Within a short amount of time, Olivia is the only woman from the ship who has yet to marry.  While she is teaching at the Central School in town, he insists she fulfill her contract.  Olivia must pick a man to marry by Christmas or pay back the $300 passage.  Or Asa Mercer will pick a husband for her.  If Stark is to win Olivia’s hand, he will need to show her that he is nothing like her deceased husband.

Avoiding the Mistletoe is a charming Christian romance.  I found it to be well-written with steady pacing.  I liked the characters in the story.  I thought Olivia was the perfect sister for Darcy.  Darcy is flighty and fanciful while Olivia is down-to-earth and cautious.  Stark is a widower who came to Seattle for a fresh start.  He has dreams for his future and they did not include a new wife until he sets his eyes on Olivia.  It was cute how the mistletoe featured in the story.  Christian elements included in Avoiding the Mistletoe are the importance of faith, prayer and trust.  Second chances are possible if you are willing to open your heart to new possibilities.  I enjoyed seeing how Stark and Olivia overcome the past in the hope of having a rewarding future together.  Avoiding the Mistletoe is a sweet novella about love, hope and second chances.   

Avoiding the Mistletoe along with many of Anne Greene's other stories are available on Kindle Unlimited.  Thank you for visiting today.  I am departing from the Christmas books tomorrow to share my review of A Woman of Courage:  Collectors Edition continues the story of Little Faw by Wanda E. Brunstetter tomorrow.  The hard copy is just beautiful.  I hope you have a relaxing day.  Take care and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader

Tuesday, December 25, 2018

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas!  I hope all of you have a delightful holiday.  I am enjoying the day with my mother, daughter and her significant other plus my fur babies.  I will see you when I return with my review of Avoiding the Mistletoe by Anne Greene.  Take care, stay safe and warm, and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader

Monday, December 24, 2018

The Nightingale Christmas Show by Donna Douglas

Merry Christmas Eve!  Are you ready for Christmas?  I could use a few more days (actually weeks).  The Gun Also Rises by Sherry Harris comes out on January 29 along with Dead as a Door Knocker by Diane Kelly.  A Desperate Hope by Elizabeth Camden will be released on February 1.  

The Nightingale Christmas Show by Donna Douglas takes us to London’s East End in November of 1945.  The war is finally over, and Matron Kathleen Fox is eager to see the Nightingale restored.  It suffered from bombings and they lost some treasured staff members.  Kathleen is not sure she is up to the task and is considering a new position in Lancashire.  She would dislike seeing the new assistant matron, Charlotte Davis take over her position.  Charlotte manages to fault with every ward they visit plus she lacks warmth and empathy.  Charlotte is all for efficiency and order.  One evening Kathleen and her friend, Violet Tanner enjoy a show at Players Theatre Club and run into Kathleen’s former lover, James Cooper who is accompanied by his wife, Simone.  James pays Kathleen a visit the next day and presents her with unexpected proposition.  To raise morale in the hospital with the patients and staff, Kathleen decides they will host a Christmas Show.  She decides to put Charlotte in charge of the project much to the assistant matron’s dismay.  The Christmas Show could just be the boost everyone needs if Charlotte can pull it off. 
 Nightingales (9 Book Series) by  Donna Douglas
The Nightingale Christmas Show is written differently from the other novels in the series.  The story is told from different characters point-of-view.  We get to see how each person views what is happening at the hospital along with what is going on in their life.  I found it a little strange and repetitive.  We start with one character, go forward a few days and then it switches to a different character and goes back to the beginning (and repeat).    While it is a different format, I still enjoyed catching up on the lives of the nurses at the Nightingale.  I would have preferred the story told from the third person (my personal preference).  However, this did not detract from my enjoyment of the story.  I recommend reading the books in the Nightingales series in order.  Each book builds upon the previous one in the series.  We get to catch up with Kathleen Fox, Peggy Atkins, Miriam Trott, Violet Tanner, Dora Riley and Veronica Hanley (now a ghost who likes to bother Kathleen).  The characters are friendly, likeable and well-developed.  I have enjoyed following these ladies on their journey as they became nurses and navigated the war.  I would have liked to know more about Dora Riley and the other trainees from the earlier books.  The Nightingale Christmas Show has a great ending, but it seemed like this was the final book (I hope not).  I think it would be great if the author introduced a new set of nursing students to the series and we can follow them on their journey along with our regular characters.  I am giving The Nightingale Christmas Show 4 out of 5 stars (I liked it).  If you like the show Call the Midwife, then you will appreciate the Nightingale series.  The Nightingale Christmas Show is a heartwarming tale that could make a pleasant read during the holiday season. 

You can find the novels in the Nightingale series here on Amazon.  There are nine books in total.  Thank you for joining me today.  I hope that all of you have a wonderful holiday.  I will be back after Christmas to share my thoughts on Avoiding the Mistletoe by Anne Greene.  Take care and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader

Sunday, December 23, 2018

The Noel Stranger by Richard Paul Evans

I cannot believe that Christmas is almost here. Bones Behind the Wheel by E.J. Copperman will be out on January 8 along with Seven Deadly Zins by Nancy J. ParraThe Wartime Sisters by Lynda Cohen Loigman will be published on January 22.

The Noel Stranger by Richard Paul Evans takes readers to Salt Lake City, Utah.  Agnetha “Maggie” Walther is shocked when she learns that her husband, Clive is a bigamist.  Maggie hides in her home for the next six months to avoid the people’s looks and reporters.  Her friend, Carina convinces Maggie that she needs to get out and suggests she purchase a Christmas tree.  Maggie goes to the local tree lot where she meets the owner, Andrew.  Andrew delivers the tree later that evening and they chat over coffee. Maggie is taken with him and cannot stop thinking about the handsome Andrew.  A few days later Maggie goes back to the lot to obtain Christmas lights, and he offers to help her decorate the tree.  Their friendship begins and quickly blossoms into romance.  Maggie’s heart is opening as she falls in love with Andrew.  But then Maggie discovers that Andrew has been not been forthcoming on his past and doubts begin to surface.  Can Maggie listen to Andrew with an open mind and heart?
The Noel Stranger is the second book in The Noel Collection (The Noel Diary is the first book in collection), but each book in the series is meant to stand on its own.  While I have enjoyed other stories by Richard Paul Evans (The Christmas Box being my favorite), The Noel Stranger was a letdown.  Maggie is supposed to have trust issues, but she meets Andrew and seems to instantly fall in love.  Within two weeks, they are jetting off to Mexico for a vacation.  I would have expected the romance to progress at a slower pace as she slowly gets to know Andrew.  The Noel Stranger felt unrealistic and predictable.  The story lacked depth and I was not able to connect with the characters.  Maggie is a contradiction as well as selfish.  Maggie has been neglecting her business for the last six months while she has been wallowing at home in self-pity (I would have been angry).  She has been relying on her business assistant to run the business and she has little training (I am shocked she still has a business).  The story felt contrived and flat.  I rolled my eyes so often they hurt the next day.  The Noel Stranger features forgiveness, love, redemption, hope, compassion, important of communication and second changes.  I am giving The Noel Stranger 3 out of 5 stars.  The Noel Stranger is a light, clean romance novel that is an easy and quick story to read (just not the right fit for me).

Thank you for joining me today.  I am off to unearth the Christmas gifts I have been buying all year (wish me luck) and get them stuffed into gift bags (such a delightful invention).  I gave up on gift wrap when I saw how quickly people tore it off the gift and then wadded into a ball for the trash.  I will be sharing my thoughts on The Nightingale Christmas Show by Donna Douglas tomorrow.  It is the ninth story in The Nightingales series (for fans of Call the Midwife).  Stay warm, try not to stress out and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader

Saturday, December 22, 2018

Santa Puppy by Lynn Cahoon: A Tourist Trap Novella

Good Day!  Isn't the cover of Santa Puppy just adorable?  Pruning the Dead by Julia Henry will be out on January 29 along with Ellie's Redemption by Molly JebberDeath by Committee by Alexis Morgan releases on January 22.  The Forgiving Jar by Wanda E. Brunstetter publishes on February 1.  It is the second book in The Prayer Jars series.  Did you know you can follow your favorite authors on Bookbub (like Wanda E. Brunstetter)?   Bookbub is becoming more popular as Amazon makes it harder for people (reviewers) to leave book reviews.  

Santa Puppy by Lynn Cahoon is A Tourist Trap Novella.  Jill Gardner of Coffee, Books and More will be hosting a pet adoption event next Saturday at the store to help some adorable animals find forever before Christmas.  In anticipation of the event, Jill along with Greg King and her friends are at the Bakerstown shelter to wash the dogs.  Jill meets Baby, a ten year old terrier who arrived at the shelter after his owner was found dead on the beach the previous week.  Jill takes off his collar and a safety deposit key falls out.   Greg King, a South Cove police detective, obtains the items from the box hoping it will provide them with the deceased identity.  The contents of the safety deposit box provide Jill with a mystery to wrap up before Christmas.
A Tourist Trap Mystery (9 Book Series) by  Lynn Cahoon
Santa Puppy is a cute and uplifting cozy mystery.  There is an adorable dog that misses its owner and a deceased human that the police have been unable to identify.  All our favorites characters from A Tourist Trap series are back in this Christmas novella (120 pages).  I found Santa Puppy to be well-written and it moves along at a fast clip.  I would suggest reading one of the full length novels in A Tourist Trap Mystery series prior to reading Santa Puppy.  The story has a good moral plus it highlights the plight of our veterans.  There is a hint of Christmas magic at play in this engaging Christmas story (I do not want to spoil it for you).  Santa Puppy is a heartwarming Christmas cozy with a sweet ending.

Thank you for stopping by today.  I know it is a busy time of year.  I will see you next time when I will share my thoughts on The Noel Stranger by Richard Paul Evans.  I am trying to share with you as many Christmas books as I can before the holiday.  Take care of yourself and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader

Friday, December 21, 2018

Jacob's Bell by John Snyder

Jacob’s Bell by John Snyder has readers traveling to Chicago in September of 1944.  Jacob McCallum is sixty-three years old and recently had a brush with death.  He has been estranged from his children for over twenty years, and he now wants to make amends.  At one time, Jacob was a wealthy businessman, with a loving wife and three kids.  Then an accident changed his life and that of his family.  Jacob has been traveling the country in an alcohol induced haze for the last ten years via freight trains.  He wants to have a relationship with his children and their families, but Jacob is afraid.  He enters a bar for liquid courage and ends up passed out in an alley.  Pastor Howard Angel from the local Salvation Army Mission befriends Jacob and takes him back to the mission.  Jacob relates his story to Howard while working on overcoming his alcohol addiction and trying to find his son, Tom.  Jacob’s road to redemption and forgiveness is not without roadblocks and potholes.  He must deal with his guilt over his past deeds before he can seek his children’s forgiveness.  Jacob ends up in Baltimore seeking his daughter, Emma during the holiday season.  He ends up becoming a Salvation Army bell ringer.  One day a little girl comes by and donates all the money she has saved up for a new doll and they become friends.  This one little girl will help lead Jacob to his family and obtain the forgiveness he desires.  Join Jacob on his poignant journey in Jacob’s Bell.

Jacob’s Bell is a heartwarming and heart wrenching Christmas story.  Jacob McCallum wants to reconnect with his family.  He regrets the choices he made over twenty years ago, and Jacob knows that he will not receive a warm reception from his children.  Jacob’s Bell is a man’s journey towards forgiveness, redemption, recovery and reconciliation.  I thought Jacob’s Bell was well-written with steady pacing.  Readers join Jacob on his emotional journey and learn valuable life lessons along the way.  There is a good flow between the present and the past.  How Jacob ended up in his present state is slowing revealed as the story progresses.  Jacob finds faith with the aid of Pastor Howard Angel and the people at the Salvation Mission.  He learns that forgiving himself will relieve him of a heavy burden and he will find freedom.  The Christian elements are intertwined with the story beautifully.  It is reminiscent of Melody Carlson and Dan Walsh’s novels. Jacob’s Bell is a feel-good Christmas story that will tug at your heartstrings.   John Snyder has also written The Golden Ring.

I appreciate you visiting today.  I hope I have helped you find a new book to read.  I will be sharing my thoughts on Santa Puppy by Lynn Cahoon next time.  I am off to continue my Christmas preparations (I am so far behind).  Stay warm and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader

Thursday, December 20, 2018

In the Shadow of Croft Towers by Abigail Wilson: Review & Giveaway!

About the Book

Book: In the Shadow of Croft Towers
Author: Abigail Wilson
Genre: Historical fiction, romantic suspense
Release Date: January 15, 2019

From debut author Abigail Wilson comes a mysterious Regency tale of secrets and spies, love and treachery.
Orphaned Sybil Delafield jumps at the opportunity for a position at the mysterious Croft Towers. She believes she was hired to act as companion to a dying woman, but a highway robbery and a hostile welcome from the Chalcroft family cause her to wonder if she was actually hired to help someone spy for France.
An unsolved murder adds intrigue to this already secretive family, and Sybil recognizes Mrs. Chalcroft’s handsome grandson as one of the infamous highwaymen who robbed her. Sybil must determine if this man’s charming smile and earnest eyes speak the truth or if he is simply using her like others in the house. Everyone seems to have something to hide, and Sybil must decide who to trust while also coming to terms with the truth about her own past.

Click here to purchase your copy!

About the Author

Abigail Wilson combines her passion for Regency England with intrigue and adventure to pen historical mysteries with a heart. A Registered Nurse, chai tea addict, and mother of two crazy kids, Abigail fills her spare time hiking the National Parks, attending her daughter’s gymnastic meets, and curling up with a great book. In 2017, Abigail won WisRWA’s Fab Five contest and ACFW’s First Impressions contest as well as placing as a finalist in the Daphne du Maurier Award for Excellence in Mystery/Suspense. She is a cum laude graduate of the University of Texas at Austin and currently lives in Dripping Springs, Texas, with her husband and children. Connect with Abigail at

Excerpt from the Book

I often wonder what my life would have been like if I had never learned the truth. I wouldn’t have set off as I did for Croft Towers. I never would have met him.
It’s strange what I remember about the day I left London. The mail coach was late; the weather wretched. The clock had struck midnight long before two strangers and I ducked beneath the postmaster’s outstretched umbrella to board the Royal Mail and rumble across the North Downs.
That difficult journey east marked the beginning of an unseasonably cold autumn. Frigid rain pelted the coach windows. The undercarriage squealed beneath the seats as a metallic scent wound its way between the drafty boards. I gripped the windowsill, wondering if the coachman intended to hit every bump in the road.
“Far to go, miss?”
The woman’s voice startled me. Dressed head to toe in red
satin, she’d endured the last few darkened hours with a handful of smelling salts and a tongue hot for complaints, but she hadn’t spoken to me until now. Not until the first hint of rain-soaked daylight peeked over the horizon.
I lowered my gaze and fiddled with my bonnet ribbons. “Yes, ma’am . . . well, not too much farther, I hope.”
Taken from “In the Shadow of Croft Towers” by Abigail Wilson. Copyright © 2018 by Abigail Wilson. Used by permission of

My Thoughts

In the Shadow of Croft Towers is a debut novel by Abigail Wilson that takes readers back to 1813.  Sybil Delafield is twenty-two years old and has accepted a position as companion to Mrs. Chalcroft at Croft Towers.  Sybil is traveling by Royal Mail coach along with Mrs. Plume and her lady’s maid, Thompkins.  Along the way, the coach is stopped by armed highwayman who go through everyone’s belonging.  One of the men even takes Sybil’s recommendation letter to Mrs. Chalcroft.  Upon arriving at Chalcroft Towers, Sybil is met by Mrs. Chalcroft’s various relatives who are less than welcoming.  She is surprised to recognize Mrs. Chalcroft’s godson, Curtis Sinclair as one of the highwaymen who attacked the mail coach.  Instead of outing Sinclair, Sybil decides to keep his secret and it is just the first of many.  It seems that everyone in Croft Towers has something to hide including Sybil and one person is willing to kill to keep their skeletons under wraps.

In the Shadow of Croft Towers is a dark, mysterious novel.  Sybil is an orphan who has been attending a London seminary courtesy of an anonymous benefactor.  Unfortunately, the funding recently stopped.  Sybil was lucky to get the position as Mrs. Chalcroft’s companion with the aid of her teacher, Mrs. Smith who is also a friend of Mrs. Chalcroft.  Sybil recently received a letter and bracelet that gives her hope that she will find information about her parents at Croft Towers.  Secrets abound at Croft Towers as Sybil soon discovers.  Mrs. Chalcroft sends Sybil off on mysterious missions with letters, Sinclair disappears for hours and sometimes days, soldiers are scouring the countryside for the highwayman and spies for the French, Mrs. Chalcroft’s nieces and nephews each have their own agenda, and there is a hidden room in the overgrown garden.  In the Shadow of Croft Towers is nicely written with gentle pacing.  There are a variety of characters in the story.  I would have liked the author to have taken the time to develop the characters further (more 2D than 3D).   There are twists and turns that will have you quickly turning the pages to find out what happens next.  In the Shadow of Croft Towers is a dark Regency story that contains mysteries, spies, murders, and romance. 
To celebrate her tour, Abigail is giving away a grand prize of one finished copy of the book.  Be sure to comment on the blog stops (schedule below) for nine extra entries into the giveaway. Click here to enter. Thank you for joining me today.  I will feature Jacob's Bell by John Snyder next time.  May you have a day filled with hope.  Take care and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader

Blog Stops

Just the Write Escape, December 20
Faery Tales Are Real, December 20
The Avid Reader, December 20
Mary Hake, December 22
Carpe Diem, December 22
Inklings and notions, December 23
Blogging With Carol, December 23
Stories By Gina, December 24
Remembrancy, December 24
Madeline Clark, December 25
Janices book reviews, December 26
Back Porch Reads, December 27
Book by Book, December 27
Daysong Reflections, December 28
All-of-a-kind Mom, December 28
Godly Book Reviews, December 29
Bigreadersite, December 29
A Rup Life, December 30
Bibliophile Reviews, December 30
A Reader’s Brain, December 31
Texas Book-aholic, December 31
Bookworld Reviews, January 1
Pause for Tales, January 1