Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Raspberry Danish Murder: A Hannah Swensen Mystery

It is the last day of February.  Who Moved My Goat Cheese? by Lynn Cahoon will be released on March 6 along with Plum Tea Crazy by Laura Childs and Who the Bishop Knows by Vannetta ChapmanSix Feet Under by Tonya Kappes will be published on March 13.  There are some delightful books coming out in March!  I definitely need to add a SD card to my Kindle!

Raspberry Danish Murder by Joanne Fluke is the latest A Hannah Swensen Mystery.  Hannah Swensen Barton is wondering why her husband disappeared two weeks ago.  To get her mind off the conundrum, she is keeping herself busy baking delightful treats for The Cookie Jar. Thanksgiving is just around the corner and people are clambering for baked goods.  Hannah gets a late-night call from P.K. Alesworth, Ross’s assistant at KCOW Television, who is using Ross’ car while his is being worked on.  It is a video call and they (Hannah and Michelle) can instantly tell that something is wrong with Ross.  They witness him crash the car after muttering something about candies in Ross’ desk.  P.K. is rushed to the hospital, but he does not survive.  It turns out that P.K. ingested a lethal dose of a drug that caused a fatal heart attack via candy sent to Ross’ office.  They do not know is if the killer was targeting P.K. or Ross since P.K. has been using Ross’ office at the station.  Hannah dives into the case to get answers.  Along the way, Hannah discovers that she did not know Ross as well as she thought.  Why did Ross leave?  Is he trying to protect Hannah?  Hannah wants answers, and she starts with uncovering P.K.’s killer.

Raspberry Danish Murder is the twenty-second book in A Hannah Swensen Mystery series and it cannot be read alone.  A new reader to the series would be utterly lost.  I did enjoy Raspberry Danish Murder better than Banana Cream Pie Murder, but it still does not have the feel of the earlier books in the series.  The last few books feel as if they are written by someone other than Joanne Fluke. The book has a nice steady pace and smooth transitions.  There is a significant amount of repetition of information (the details of the case).  One character gets some information than repeats it to Hannah, then Hannah tells Michelle and then they must share it with Mike and Norman.  It was completely unnecessary.  The dialogue was stilted, and the characters names were overused.  Hannah is unlike herself in Raspberry Danish Murder.  She is not the strong, confident woman we are used to, and I miss that Hannah Swensen.  She actually worried that Ross left her because she might snore (really).  The two mysteries are interlaced with baking, chatting, cooking, drinking coffee (I do not know how they can drink that much coffee) and munching on cookies.  Every meal and cookie they bake is described in detail.  P.K.’s murder is not the main focus.  There is a limited suspect list, and, to my disappointment, the culprit is easily identified.  The revelations regarding Ross are more interesting.  As more details were revealed, the phrase “marry in haste and repent in leisure” came to mind (I wish the author had not brought Ross into the series).  Hannah was quick to marry Ross and she now realizes that the background information he gave her is contradictory (I would say more but I do not want to spoil it for you).    There is a dilly of a disclosure and cliffhanger at the end of the book (which will have me reading the next book in this series).  There are twenty-nine recipes in the book (too many) and an excerpt from Winter Chill at the end.  I give Raspberry Danish Murder 3 out of 5 stars.  Raspberry Danish Murder is a book for the die-hard Hannah Swensen fans.  

Thank you so much for visiting today.  I will be reviewing A Home for Hannah by Amy Lillard tomorrow.  May you have a day full of sunshine.  Take care and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Lethal Licorice: An Amish Candy Shop Mystery

Lethal Licorice by Amanda Flower is the second story in The Amish Candy Shop Mystery series.  Bailey King is now living in Harvest, Ohio and working at her grandparent’s candy shop Swissmen Sweets.  They are preparing for the Amish Confectionery Competition (ACC) where Bailey will take her deceased grandfather’s spot.  All items made for the competition can only be done the Amish way—no electrical appliances.  Josephine Weaver of Berlin Candies, though, is not happy with Bailey taking Jebediah’s spot since she is an Englischer, and she is not the only person who feels that way.  Just before the first round begins, Jethro, who is Juliet Brody’s polka dotted pig, disappears and she needs assistance in locating him.  Bailey goes into the church to search where Charlotte Weaver, a cousin, is playing the organ which sounds a little off.  Charlotte opens door to pipe area to see what could be the problem and screams.  Bailey peers inside to see a dead Josephine Weaver.  It is discovered that Josephine died from an allergic reaction to anise, and she had a piece of Swissmen Sweets licorice on her.  This puts Bailey on the suspect list which along with her natural curiosity makes it impossible for her not to investigate Josephine’s death.  Bailey must work in her sleuthing in between the rounds of the competition, looking for Jethro (he is still missing), manning the candy shop and offering Charlotte guidance on her future.  Will Swissmen Sweets win the competition?  Who killed Josephine Weaver?  Follow Bailey on her latest adventure in Lethal Licorice.

Lethal Licorice is written in a conversational writing style with a good pace which makes the story easy to read. I was drawn into Lethal Licorice immediately.  Lethal Licorice can be enjoyed without having read Assaulted Caramel.  Readers are given an abbreviated version of Bailey’s history and how she ended up in Harvest, Ohio.    The setting of Harvest, Ohio is brought to life thanks to Amanda Flower’s visual imagery.  There are a variety of characters in this series which I appreciate.  The characters are well-developed and relatable.  Jethro, the polka dotted pig, is a fun addition along with his owner, Juliet Brody (she is the quirky character in the story).  I like the chemistry (and interactions) between Bailey and Aiden Brody.   There is just the right touch of humor in the story. It is balanced with the seriousness of the murder and the intensity of the competition. The mystery is well crafted, and readers will be pondering the killer’s identity.  There are some good clues to aid in identifying the evildoer. Bailey, though, needs to work on her questioning technique (shape her questions differently and be subtler).  She is too blunt which is off-putting.  It turns off people because they feel like they are being accused of wrong doing.  There are tantalizing candy descriptions that will have you running out to purchase your favorite sweet treat (it had me craving my homemade peanut brittle). There was one scene that left me cringing.  There was a cat in the candy kitchen at Swissmen Sweets.  I hope the health inspector does not find out about it.   It was interesting to discover how various candies are made without the aid of modern technology.  Lethal Licorice is a feel-good cozy mystery.  It was pleasurable to read and when I finished reading it, I had a smile on my face.  Lethal Licorice is a cute and entertaining cozy mystery that will have you eager to read for Premeditated Peppermint (which will be out in September 2018).

Thank you for visiting.  I will be reviewing Raspberry Danish Murder by Joanne Fluke tomorrow.  It is the twenty-second book in A Hannah Swensen Mystery series.  May you day be filled with sunshine.  Take care and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader

Monday, February 26, 2018

Color Me Murder: A Pen & Ink Mystery

I hope everyone had a delightful weekend.  His Risk by Shelley Shepard Gray will be out on March 6.  It is the fourth book in The Amish of Hart County seriesKrista Davis is the featured author today.  She is the author of A Paws and Claws Mystery series (wonderful cozy mystery series set in Wagtail) and A Domestic Diva Mystery series.  

Color Me Murder by Krista Davis is the first book in the new A Pen & Ink Mystery series.  Florrie Fox is the manager of Color Me Read in the Georgetown area of Washington, D.C.  At night she uses her artistic skills to create adult coloring books.  When Florrie arrives at work, Professor John Maxwell (her boss) asks if she is still looking for an apartment.  Florrie wishes to move closer to work to cut down on her commute.  Professor Maxwell offers Florrie his carriage house (rent free) on the condition that she move in that day.  Liddy Woodley, Professor Maxwell’s sister, wants her son, Delbert to live in the carriage house.  The last thing Professor Maxwell wants is his odious nephew living on the property.  After meeting Delbert, Florrie can understand Professor Maxwell’s feelings.  That night someone tries to break into the carriage house.  The next morning Florrie stumbles on the third-floor landing. The carpet was not lying flat.  Upon investigation, she finds a trap door which opens to reveal a hidden compartment.  Inside is Delbert with a spear sticking out of his back.  Professor Maxwell is arrested for Delbert’s murder, and he is relying on Florrie to solve the crime.  There are many people who disliked Delbert due to his various schemes.  Florrie, with the aid of her friends and her sketches, works to cover a killer and free Professor Maxwell.   

Color Me Murder was an entertaining cozy mystery.  The story drew me in right away.  I thought Color Me Murder was well-written and had a steady pace (and good flow) which made it easy to read. Krista Davis has an appealing writing style. Florrie Fox is a delightful character.  She works at the bookstore and designs adult coloring books which I found unique.  While working on solving the murder, she uses sketches (instead of notes).  Florrie interprets what she is told into visual images which aid her in solving the crime.  Florrie is creative, intelligent, loyal, likeable and she rolls with the punches. There are a couple of quirky characters in the story. Mr. DuBois, the butler, is a hoot. Professors Rosca, Goldblum and Bankhouse are friends of Professor Maxwell’s and are helpful in gathering intel for Florrie.  I do hope we get to see more of Professor Maxwell in the next installment (he is a lively gentleman).  The author provided lovely descriptions of Georgetown where the bookshop is located and Florrie’s new residence.  The mystery is well-constructed and clever.  Many readers will be surprised by the culprit’s identity.   All the loose ends tie together and are wrapped up neatly at the end of the book.  I appreciated that the focus of the book was on the mystery.  There is a touch of romance, two adorable animals (a cat and a dog), a beautiful old home with some hidden secrets, an unwanted admirer, humor, a gorgeous necklace and an unexpected ally for Florrie in Color Me Murder.  The cover of Color Me Murder (for those that purchase a hard copy) can be colored which ties into the story.  There are recipes at the end of the book.    I finished Color Me Murder with a grin on my face (no silly characters or inane antics in this story). My rating for Color Me Murder is 5 out of 5 stars (I loved it).   I am eager to read to the next A Pen & Ink Mystery.  Color Me Murder will be released on Tuesday, February 27.

Thank you for stopping by today.  Tomorrow I will return with my thoughts on Lethal Licorice by Amanda Flower.  May you have a day full of smiles.  Take care and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader

Saturday, February 24, 2018

The Book of Secrets: The Last Oracle

The Book of Secrets by Melissa McShane is the first novel in The Last Oracle series.  Helena Davies is interviewing for a job at Abernathy’s, a local disorganized bookstore.  She is shocked when Nathaniel Briggs hires her and asks for her to start immediately after signing a handwritten contract.  Helena is typing (on a typewriter) labels to mail out catalogues when a customer enters the store looking for Mr. Briggs. Malcolm Campbell is astonished that Helena was hired to work in the store.  Helena goes searching for Mr. Briggs and discovers him dead from a stab wound in the basement.  Who would want to harm Mr. Briggs?  Malcolm must explain to Helena that Abernathy’s is no mere bookstore.  It is a living oracle that provides prophecies.  Helena, as the new custodian (she signed the contract) is tasked with finding the right book to answer the question put to the oracle by Wardens.  Abernathy’s is an important tool in helping them fight the invaders in the Long War (information overload for Helena).  Magic is real, and creatures invade from outside their reality to obtain it.  Unfortunately, Mr. Briggs died before training Helena and the instruction book to assist her is missing.  Malcolm is not the only person surprised by Helena’s appointment.  Judy Rasmussen has been training for twelve years and wants Helena to abdicate (and she is quite pushy about it).  Helena needs to learn her new position while fulfilling her customer’s needs, deal with Judy’s hostile attitude, discover who murdered Mr. Brigg’s before the police arrest her for the crime, and evade the deadly creatures who seem intent on attacking her (that’s not good).  Despite everything that is happening, Helena believes she might have finally found her place. 

The Books of Secrets is well-written and engaging.  It has fast pace that will keep readers on their toes.  I liked the author’s unique take on magic. I would say more but I do not want to spoil it for you.  I did appreciate that the author did not dump out all the details at once.  It develops throughout the story, but readers are not given everything in this first installment (we are left wanting to know more).  The creature’s descriptions are enough to give a person nightmares (it did not stop me from reading though).  Abernathy’s is a fascinating place.  The author’s concept for the store was creative and multi-layered.  Melissa McShane did a remarkable job at creating a one-of-a-kind world for her characters (and for us).  I did feel that the characters needed more development and backstory.  I wanted to know more about Helena’s upbringing and Malcolm’s background.     I was also not a fan of Viv, Helena’s best friend.  I found her annoying, overbearing, and immature.  As Helena’s best friend, she is the logical choice for a sidekick.  I just wish the author had tweaked her personality a bit.  I am glad that The Book of Secrets is just the first book in The Last Oracle series.     For a delightful story containing magic, murder, mayhem and mystery grab a copy of The Book of Secrets.

Thank you for visiting today.  I will return on Monday with my review of Color Me Murder by Krista Davis.  I hope that you have a relaxing and enjoyable day.  Take care and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader  

Friday, February 23, 2018

A Mother's Love: An Amish Novel by Charlotte Hubbard

Hello!  If you are looking for a light-hearted magical story, pick up Midnight Magic by Jo-Ann Carson (available on Kindle Unlimited). 

A Mother’s Love by Charlotte Hubbard is a heartwarming Amish novel.  Rose Raber lives in Cedar Creek with her daughter, Gracie and her mother, Lydia.  The previous fall Rose lost her father and her husband in a fire at their sawmill.  Now, Rose is losing her mother to cancer.  Before her mother passes away she tells Rose about a stationery box in her dresser which contains letters addressed to Rose.  When Rose reads the letters, she discovers that she was adopted.  In the last letter in the box, Anne (her birth mother) requests that Rose not look for her.  Rose does not know if she can honor that request.  Rose and Gracie are at the local mercantile when they run into (literally) Matthias Wagler.  Matthias is a widower who is opening a harness shop in nearby Morning Star.  Rose is fortunate in obtaining a position as a cook at Morning Star Senior Center.    Rose and Matthias spend more time together (thanks to Gracie), and Rose finds Matthias easy to talk to.  She ends up confiding in him about her birth mother and how Anne was being courted by Saul Hartzler at the time.  This information puts Matthias in a sticky situation.  He is familiar with Saul Hartzler of the Hartzler Carriage Company and is entering into a partnership with him.  Should he tell Rose that her birth mother is nearby?  The decision is taken out of Matthias hands when Anne Hartzler walks into the senior center and encounters Rose.  Rose lost one mother, but she is getting a wonderful opportunity to know the woman who gave her life.  They must be discrete, so Saul does not discover Anne’s secret.  Morning Star is a small town, though, and it is inevitable that Saul will encounter Rose who is the spitting image of her mother.  What happens when a thirty-year-old secret springs forth disrupting several lives? 

A Mother’s Love is well-written and has a nice steady pace which makes for easy to read and engaging novel.  I found A Mother’s Love to be an emotional novel (you might need to keep a tissue handy).  I give A Mother’s Love 4 out of 5 stars.  The characters are developed and realistic.  Rose is going through a rough time and we can feel her emotions (the turmoil, confusion, concern, doubt, love).  I did feel that she worried too much about what others would think about her actions.  Gracie is a gregarious, curious and active child who easily charms every person she encounters.  She will be handful when she is a teenager.  A Mother’s Love is full of activity.  It is amazing at how much the author packed into one story.  I thought A Mother’s Love had several good messages.  They include that none of us are perfect (all of us have flaws), God has a plan for our lives, good things come to those that wait (aka God’s timing not our own), and the power of prayer.  We see how important it is to forgive a person, to have love in our lives, and the importance of faith.  The ending is very special and leaves a person with a good feeling in their heart.  A Mother’s Love is a thoughtful and heartfelt novel.  I am eager to read her next novel A Mother's Gift.

I appreciate you visiting today and reading my review.  Next time I will share my thoughts on The Book of Secrets by Melissa McShane.  May you have a stunning day.  Take care and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Miss Mary's Daughter: A New Historical Novel by Diney Costleloe

Welcome!  Diney Costeloe is the author of The Throwaway Children, The Runaway Family, The Girl With No Name, The Sisters of St. Croix, The Lost Soldier, The Married Girls, and Her Missing Husband.  You can find more information on Ms. Costeloe on her website.  Readers can follow her on Facebook, Twitter (@Dineycost), Amazon, Bookbub and Goodreads.  

Miss Mary’s Daughter by Diney Costeloe will sweep you back to 1886.  Sophie Ross is the daughter of Mary and John Ross.  Mary defied her father to marry John and has been estranged from Thomas Penvarrow (and the rest of her family) ever since.  Sophie’s father passed away five years prior and now she is losing her mother.  Unbeknownst to Sophie’s, Mary has written a letter to her family to be posted by Hannah Butts, the housekeeper (and so much more) after her death.  After Mary’s funeral, Sophie starts looking for cheaper lodgings for herself and Hannah as well a position.  One day Sophie opens the door and is surprised to see someone who looks just like her mother.  Matilda “Matty” Treslyn is Mary’s twin sister, and she has come to take Sophie to Trescadinnick House in Port Felec, Cornwell.  Sophie knew nothing about her mother’s family.  Sophie agrees to visit the family estate if Hannah comes along as well.  Sophie soon meets the rest of the Penvarrow family.  Tomas is gruff, Louisa (her aunt) is rude, Charles (a cousin) is distant, Matty is warm, and little Alice Ann is delightful.   Sophie settles in to get to know her relations.  But like any family, there are secrets, arguments, lies and strain.   An unexpected bonus comes in the form of Dr. Nicholas Bryan, Thomas’ physician. What does the future hold for Sophie Ross?  Find out in Miss Mary’s Daughter.

Miss Mary’s Daughter is a well-written historical saga.  I thought the characters were fully developed with a nice variety of different characteristics and personalities.  The characters were realistic with normal emotions (they were not exaggerated).  Sophie was very naïve in the beginning and I was glad to see her grow as the novel progressed.  Little Alice Ann was adorable.  I felt the author captured the era (late 1880s) and locale (London and Cornwall) with her vivid descriptions.  Diney Costeloe’s provided beautiful depictions of the fashions (I love historical clothing).  The pace of the story does slow down a touch in the middle but then it picks back up again around the sixty percent mark.  There is mystery, intrigue, secrets, romance, friendship and family in this novel.  Fans of Rosie Goodwin and Julie Klassen will be delighted with Diney Costeloe’s Miss Mary’s DaughterMiss Mary’s Daughter is a pleasurable novel to read.  Perfect for a rainy or snowy evening settle into a comfortable chair.

Here is an excerpt from Miss Mary's Daughter for your enjoyment:

Sophie woke to an insistent knocking on the front door, and realizing that Hannah must still be out, she glanced into the mirror. Her eyes were red and her hair in disarray, but she sluiced some cold water onto her cheeks, patted the stray wisps of hair into place, and went down to see who should be demanding entrance so determinedly. She opened the front door with words about impatience on her lips, but those words died unspoken as she saw her mother standing outside on the step; her mother, not as she’d last seen her, sunken-eyed, her skin stretched tight across her cheekbones, translucent and paper-white, her hair thin and greying, but as she had been before her illness took hold, cheeks glowing with health, eyes bright with laughter and curiosity, hair thick, rich, dark, luxuriant. Her mother stood on the step, a question in her brown eyes, and said in her gentle voice, ‘Sophia?’
Sophie didn’t pass out, though she thought for a moment or two that she was going to. She simply stared at her mother, her head spinning and her body cold, as the shock hit her and the colour drained from her face. Her lips formed the word Mama, but no sound came and she continued to stare.
Her mother’s expression changed from one of query to one of concern, and stepping forward she took Sophie’s arm and guided her into the house. Sophie sank onto a chair in the hall and the visitor closed the door behind them. For a long, silent moment Sophie remained crouching in the chair at the foot of the stairs, her mind dazed. Diamonds of sunlight cast through the glass of the front door, patterning the floor, and the solemn tick of the grandfather clock emphasized the silence, rather than broke it. Her mother spoke again. Only it wasn’t her mother, of course. Her mother was dead. But it was someone so incredibly like her that it took careful study of her face to notice the differences. When she did speak her voice was one of great concern.
‘Sophia, my dear, are you all right?’
Sophia. Well, her mother had never called Sophie that, and anyway the voice was wrong. This was deeper and there was the trace of an unfamiliar accent, missing from her mother’s voice.
The visitor continued. ‘I’m sorry if I’ve given you a shock, my dear. I did write but perhaps you’ve not received my letter yet. I’m your Aunt Matilda and I’ve come to take you home.’
Sophie stared at her uncomprehendingly. ‘Aunt Matilda?’
Her aunt said gently, ‘Yes. Aunt Matty. I’m your mother’s twin. She’ll have told you about me, no doubt. Your grandfather wants you to come home.’
Still dazed, Sophie ignored the last part of what she’d said, but latched on to the first. ‘Her twin? I didn’t know she had a twin. I didn’t even know she had a sister… or any family!’
Matilda knew from the letter that Mary hadn’t told Sophie she was writing to Trescadinnick, but she’d assumed that Sophie had at least some knowledge of the family. Clearly not. She smiled and reached for Sophie’s hand. ‘Well, we’ve obviously got a good deal of catching up to do. Perhaps we could go into the parlour and have some tea.’

Thank you for stopping by today.  I hope I have enticed you to pick up a copy of Miss Mary's Daughter.  It can be purchased on Amazon, Kobo, GooglePlay Store and iBooks.  Tomorrow I will be featuring A Mother's Love by Charlotte Hubbard (currently $2.99 on Amazon).  May you have a day full of whimsy and happiness.  Take care and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Claws for Concern: A Cat in the Stacks Mystery

Welcome!  I hope everyone is having a good week thus far.  Lethal Licorice by Amanda Flower will be out on Tuesday, February 27.  It is the second novel in An Amish Candy Shop Mystery series.

Claws for Concern by Miranda James is A Cat in the Stacks Mystery. It is July in Athena, Georgia and we find Charlie Harris along with his Maine Coon cat, Diesel volunteering at Athena Public Library.  Charlie notices the gentleman, who has been coming into the library for the last week, has returned.  The man wants to look at the local phone books to locate Delbert Collins.  Delbert was married to Charlie’s Aunt Dottie.  Charlie discovers the man is Bill Delaney, and he is the son of Delbert Collins.   Del never knew about Bill, and Bill did not find out about his birth father until after his mother passed away three months ago.  Charlie wants to get to know Bill better and is going to invite him to stay with him.  Then Charlie learns that Bill was entangled in a murder investigation. The multiple homicide investigation went cold and was never solved.  Charlie teams up with true crime writer, Jack Pemberton to resolve the twenty-year-old case.  Jack wants to write a book about Charlie (and Diesel) regarding a few of his past cases (his sleuthing prowess).   Accompany Charlie, Jack and Diesel as they delve into the case and uncover a killer.

Claws for Concern may be the ninth book in A Cat in the Stacks Mystery series, but it can be read as a standalone.  I like the author’s writing style (conversational and comfortable) and the characters are developed.  Diesel is a smart, lovable cat who enhances the book (I enjoy his manner of speaking and interacting).  I do not understand, though, why Charlie feels the need to have someone watch Diesel (a catsitter) when he cannot take the cat with him.  This happened a couple of times in the book.  I thought the pace, though, was a little slow (especially in the first part of the book).  The mystery does not start until the halfway mark.  The first half of the story is devoted to Charlie’s daily activities (eating, walking, spending time with girlfriend, volunteering at the library, talking with daughter, watching grandson, etc.) as well as meeting Bill Delaney and talking to Jack Pemberton about his book idea.  There was a lack of action through the whole book.  There is questioning, looking up records and speculation (ho hum).  The mystery had some interesting points, but it was not compelling.  There was a lack of suspects which made identifying the culprit a simple matter.  The wrap up at the end could have used a few tweaks (it was lacking).   I had eagerly been anticipating Claws for Concern after reading Twelve Angry Librarians last year.  Unfortunately, Claws for Concern was not of the same caliber as its predecessor.  If you are new to A Cat in the Stacks Mystery series, then I suggest starting with Murder Past Due.  Readers looking for a light, pleasant cozy mystery will be pleased with Claws for Concern.  The next novel in this series Six Cats a Slayin' which is scheduled to be released on October 23.

Thank you for visiting today.  Tomorrow I will be reviewing Miss Mary's Daughter by Diney Costeloe.  It is a historical mystery set in London in 1886.  I hope that you have a jolly day.  I am off to rake up leaves (thanks to the lack of rain).  The area I raked two days ago looks like I never touched it.  I am currently reading Who the Bishop Knows by Vannetta Chapman which will be published on March 6.  Take care and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Pressing the Issue: A Cookbook Nook Mystery

Happy Book Release Day!  Claws for Concern by Miranda James, The Book of Secrets by Melissa McShane, The Tuscan Child by Rhys Bowen, Death of an Honest Man by M.C. Beaton and Pressing the Issue by Daryl Wood Gerber are out today.

Pressing the Issue by Daryl Wood Gerber is the sixth book in A Cookbook Nook Mystery series.  Jenna Hart is busy getting the Cookbook Nook ready for the Crystal Cove Renaissance Fair.  Bailey Bird, though, is of little help since she is out of sorts.  Bailey is getting married in two weeks to Tito Martinez at Baldini Vineyard. Lola Bird has not helped matters by telling Bailey that she has a bad vibe about the nuptials.  Bailey receives a cryptic message from Nick Baldini and it sounds like he is in trouble.  Jenna and Bailey rush to his home to find him on the floor with blood coming from a head wound.  They check for a pulse and find their King of the Renaissance Fair, Nick is dead.  Jenna quickly contacts Police Chief Cinnamon Pritchett who warns Jenna to stay out of the investigation.  The murder weapon turns out to be a winepress that Nick had shown them earlier in the day.  Bailey is thrown into a tailspin. What will happen to her wedding?  Jenna quietly (does not want to incur Cinnamon’s wrath) begins asking questions to find out more about Nick and who could have wished him harm.  Time is running out because soon the Renaissance Fair visitors will be departing, and the killer could be hiding among them.  Who could have committed this dastardly deed?  Will Bailey and Tito have their wedding?

Pressing the Issue can be read alone.  Everything a reader needs to know is included in the book.  Returning to Crystal Cove is like visiting old friends.  It is a charming town with welcoming townspeople, a beach, and inviting shops.  The main characters are warm, friendly and relatable.  It was lovely to catch up with Jenna, Bailey, Kate, Rhett and Aunt Vera.  The descriptions of the Renaissance Fair are vivid.  I enjoyed reading about the costumes, food and activities (the Renaissance Fair speak was entertaining and amusing). It felt like I was there enjoying it with them.  There are delightful book descriptions (cookbooks and some cozy mysteries).  The tantalizing food narratives will have your mouth watering (recipes included at the end of the book).  I appreciated how the author incorporated Charlotte Bessette of Fromagerie Bessette into the story (from the Cheese Shop Mystery series written under her Avery Aames pen name) and her mention of Ohio State University (Go Buckeyes).  The mystery was enticing, but avid cozy mystery readers will find it child’s play to solve.  There are several suspects and some good misdirection that will lead readers down the wrong path.  I do wish that Police Chief Pritchett would start working with Jenna on the investigations.  Cinnamon knows that Jenna’s natural curiosity will not keep her away from looking into a case and Jenna is good at ferreting out information.  I found the ending to be endearing.  I am rating Pressing the Issue 4 out of 5 stars. 

The other novels in A Cookbook Nook Mystery series are Final Sentence, Inherit the Word, Stirring the Plot, Fudging the Books and Grilling the Subject.  I will return on Wednesday with my review of Claws for Concern by Miranda James.  May you have an enticing day full of delightful books!  Take care and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader 

Monday, February 19, 2018

No One Can Know: A Stillwater General Mystery

Happy Monday!  Dead Calm by Annelise Ryan will be published on February 27.  It is the ninth book in A Mattie Winston Mystery series (not a standalone book). 

No One Can Know by Lucy Kerr is the second book in A Stillwater General Mystery series.  Francesca “Frankie” Stapleton has temporarily moved back home to Stillwater, Illinois to assist her family.  She has taken a part time job as an ER nurse at Stillwater General as well as working at family hardware store.  On a Tuesday evening, a man comes into the ER with a dislocated shoulder after a hitting a deer with his car.  Frankie is then pulled away to help with a trauma involving a pregnant woman who was severely injured in a car crash.  The staff safely delivers the baby (a little boy), but the patient passes away from her severe injuries.  The patient was Katherine Tibbs whose husband is running for Congress.  He is the local town hero who stopped a fire from destroying the business district when he was in high school.  When Frankie returns to her dislocated shoulder patient, he has disappeared.   It is then that Frankie realizes that her patient with the dislocated shoulder hit Katherine (not a deer) and he vanished on her watch.  Then they learn that the crash was not an accident.  Why was Katherine targeted?  Does it relate to her husband or her job as a social worker?  Frankie feels compelled to locate the killer.  The situation escalates when Baby Tibbs disappears from the hospital.  What is Frankie willing to do to find the baby and catch a killer?

No One Can Know can be read as a standalone novel.  The author provided Frankie’s history as well as a summary of what happened in Time of Death.  The mystery had potential, but it was not fulfilled.  With a woman is murdered, a baby stolen, political candidate, and a social worker, I expected the mystery to be complex.  I was hoping for a good twist or unexpected revelation.  Unfortunately, I accurately pegged the killer early in the story along with the reason for the crime.  I appreciate that Frankie is a strong, intelligent female character, but she seems to have a death wish in No One Can Know.  She repeatedly put herself into dangerous situations.  I lost track of the number of times (at minimum once a chapter) she was told to stay out of the investigation (Noah should have worked with her instead of fussing at her).  Frankie’s reason for looking in to the crime was weak.  There was also too much speculation (thinking, questioning, wondering) and reiteration of facts regarding the murder.  I do, though, like the author’s writing and the pace of the book (steady).  I enjoy the medical scenes which enhance the book, and they are not overly technical.  I am hoping that there will be some crimes centered in the hospital in future books.  I also enjoy the interactions between Frankie and her family especially her niece, Riley (she is very inquisitive).  The ending felt incomplete. Readers are left with unanswered questions.  A Stillwater General Mystery series has the capability of being a good mystery series with a few tweaks.  No One Can Know, unfortunately, only gets 3 out of 5 stars. 

I hope you find my review helpful.  On Tuesday, I will be featuring Pressing the Issue by Daryl Wood Gerber.  The sixth book in A Cookbook Nook Mystery series.  I am now off to take my mother to the doctor. I am just hoping I can get her out of the house on time (I doubt it though since she dislikes going to the doctor).  Have a gorgeous day, take care and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Cozy Winter Books to Read!

Are you looking for a good book to read on a cold night?  I am sharing a few of my favorites with you.  I have picked some novels that are out now and a couple that will be released soon.

Amish Sweethearts by Amy Clipston contains four lovely Amish novellas. Readers of Amish fiction and Amy Clipston will be delighted.

Amish Cooking Class - The Celebration by Wanda E. Brunstetter.  The third (and final) book in the Amish Cooking Class series.  It is a heartfelt Amish novel.  

Not a Creature was Purring by Krista Davis is the fifth A Paws and Claws Mystery.  This is an entertaining series that will delight readers especially those who adore their fur babies.

A Wedding at Mulberry Lane by Rosie Clarke is historical fiction novel.  It is the second book in The Mulberry Lane series.

Color Me Murder by Krista Davis which will be out on February 27.  It is first book in a delightful new cozy mystery series.

Lethal Licorice by Amanda Flower is the second book
An Amish Candy Shop Mystery series.  It will be available on February 27.  

I hope you find some new novels to delight you.  I am always on the look out for new books and authors.  You can never have too many books to read!  May you have a entrancing day.  I will be back on Monday with my thoughts on No One Can Know by Lucy Kerr. Take care and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader

Friday, February 16, 2018

Come a Little Closer: DCI Tom Douglas Series

February is just flying by.  Lethal in Old Lace by Duffy Brown will be published on March 13 along with Six Feet Under by Tonya Kappes.  

Come a Little Closer by Rachel Abbott is a DCI Tom Douglas novel.  DCI Tom Douglas is called out to Pennington Flash Country Park.  A woman has been found in a birdwatching hide.  There is no identification on her, she is very thin, no shoes or sign of a struggle.  At first glance it would appear to be suicide.  Tom, though, knows there is more to this woman’s story.  Nearby three women are in a dark kitchen.  They are thin, scared, tired and afraid.  Sharon is taking the trip her father always talked about it.  Her boyfriend, Ian wanted her to cancel and give him half the money since he is out of work.  She is honoring her father by embarking on this cruise.  The trip is not as relaxing as she expected.  A man seems to be following her and someone was in her cabin.  She returns home to an angry Ian and a puzzling problem at work.  It is a relief when a new friend offers her assistance.  DCI Douglas and his team work to unravel what happened to the woman found in the Flash.  They soon discover that she is not the first woman found this way and, undoubtedly, she will not be the last unless the police stop them. 

Come a Little Closer may be the seventh book in the DCI Tom Douglas series, but it can be read alone.  I struggled with this novel.  It is very confusing in the beginning because it jumps around.  One minute with DCI Tom Douglas, then with Sharon, then with women, then it jolts to next chapter.  It all starts to gel at the half way mark and comes together into a complete story at the end.  I thought the writing was choppy and it lacked a nice flow (slow pace too).  The dialogue was stilted (awkward).  The characters were not fully developed (lacking in details that help bring them to life).  The mystery is one that plays out and is supposed to be suspenseful.  Unfortunately, I did not feel it.  I wanted to get a hold of these women and shake them.  I cannot see anyone in this day and age being that naïve (unless they are under 6).  I do not want to say to much and spoil for you.   I wanted to the story to be less predictable.  The chapters that focused on Tom’s private life felt off.  They did not blend well with the rest of the book.  Be aware that this is a British novel, so it contains British slang and the words are spelled differently (British spelling). My rating for Come a Little Closer is 2 out of 5 stars (I did not like it). Come a Little Closer was not the right fit for me, but many other readers have found it thrilling.  I suggest getting a sample and see if it appeals to you.  Every individual has their own perspective.

Thank you so much for visiting today.  I will be featuring some cozy winter reads tomorrow.  See what I books I have enjoyed reading on a cool night and recommend for others.  May you have a beguiling weekend.  I will return on Monday with my review of No One Can Know by Lucy Kerr. Take care and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader