Saturday, March 31, 2018

The Innkeeper's Daughter: Historical Novel by Michelle Griep

Good Morrow, Fellow Readers!  It is the last day of March.  This month just went by so swiftly.  The Weavers Daughter by Sarah Ladd will be published on April 10 along with An Amish Heirloom by Amy Clipston, Beth Wiseman, Kathleen Fuller and Kelly Irvin.  

The Innkeeper’s Daughter by Michelle Griep is set in Dover, England in 1808.  Johanna Langley helps her mother care for the Blue Hedge Inn in Dover, England as well as her mischievous younger brother.  The rent payment as well as the loan payment for repairing the hearth are coming due.  If Johanna cannot come up with the money in time, they will be bound for the workhouse.  She is hoping the upcoming Oak Apple Day will bring in some much needed guests.  Officer Alex Moore is given a special assignment by Magistrate Ford.  Alex is to pose as a gambling rogue to unmask a traitor in Dover.  Someone has been leaking military intelligence to the French.  While staying in Dover, Magistrate Ford has arranged for Alex to lodge at the Blue Hedge Inn.  When Alex meets Johanna, he feels an immediate attraction.  But Alex is not free to pursue the comely Johanna while he is on assignment.  Alex’s mission becomes complicated and he must enlist Johanna’s assistance if they are to bring a collaborator to justice.  Come along for the adventure in The Innkeeper’s Daughter.

The Innkeeper’s Daughter has an intriguing premise.  The blurb for the book captured my attention and had me wanting to find out what happened to the Johanna and Alex.   Michelle Griep did capture the time period with the descriptions of the buildings, clothing, people’s attitudes and behavior, the jobs available, and options for those without funds (there was a lack of historical accuracy).  The Innkeeper’s Daughter had a good start, but then the plot dragged for me. There were some interesting sections, but not enough to hold my attention.  I was happy to see the action pick up near the end of the book.   Johanna is a hard character to like.  She seemed to take the joy out of any room she entered.  Johanna had a very depressing attitude.  She did not like to take advice, let someone else be in charge (like Alex) and Johanna felt like a failure (which readers are reminded of often).  I am surprised the inn was still open with the way it was run.  The little brother is allowed to run around wild (instead of helping at the inn) and then brings in customers that end up costing them money (the mother never took charge).  Overall, Johanna was a frustrating character.  She never seemed to let go and trust God to provide (like Alex).  There was a man with a puppet that was silly and was not needed in the story (I have a feeling he would have gotten beat up regularly).   I felt the ending was a letdown and some of the subplots were confusing.  I give The Innkeeper’s Daughter 3 out of 5 stars.  While I did not feel Michelle Griep hit this one out of the park, I have enjoyed her other novels, and I will continue to read her works in the future.  Kindle users can get a free extended preview of The Innkeeper's Daughter.

Thank you for visiting.  I will return on Easter with my thoughts on A Mother's Gift by Charlotte Hubbard.  I hope you have a tranquil day.  Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader

Friday, March 30, 2018

Death by Dumpling: A Noodle Shop Mystery

Happy Good Friday!  Wedding Cake Crumble by Jenn McKinlay as well as Lost Books and Old Bones by Paige Shelton and School for Psychics by K.C. Archer will be published on April 3.  A Daughter's Courage by Kitty Neale will come out on April 5.  

Death by Dumpling by Vivien Chien is the first book in A Noodle Shop Mystery series.  A series of incidents (bad break up, quitting her job, and her parents losing a full-time server) has Lana Lee once again working at her parent’s restaurant Ho-Lee Noodle House in Fairview Park, Ohio.  Lana takes lunch over to Mr. Feng, the owner of Asia Village and overhears Kimmy Tran yelling at him.  A short time later, Esther Chin rushes in with the news that Mr. Feng is dead.  Detective Adam Trudeau arrives to question the restaurant staff and informs them that Mr. Feng died from an allergic reaction to shrimp dumplings.  Mr. Feng ordered pork dumplings.  All the residents of Asia Village knew about Mr. Feng’s shellfish allergy and the Ho-Lee cooks even use special pans to prepare his food.  Lana and her family are shocked when Detective Trudeau arrests Peter Huang, Ho-Lee’s cook, for Mr. Feng’s murder.  Lana knows Peter did not harm Mr. Feng and sets out to dish up the truth.   

Death by Dumpling is the first Asian cozy mystery that I have read (I have not seen one before).  I like the authors unique premise of an Asian shopping center in Northeast Ohio (Cleveland area).  The village sounded unique and a place I would love to visit.  There are mouthwatering descriptions of the delicacies served at Ho-Lee Noodle House (had me craving Chinese).  Lana Lee is a typical late twenties female character who fails to think things through completely, says the wrong thing, clumsy and gets tongue tied around handsome men (sounds like the main character in several books that I have read recently).  I felt that Lana lacked depth as did the other characters in the book.  Lana has a typical relationship with her sister, Anna May (she is the older sister and going to law school).  I found Death by Dumpling to be nicely written and have smooth transitions, but the pace was a little slow.  I also felt the book was too long at 352 pages. Fifty or so pages could have easily been edited out.  There are two love interests for Lana (of course).  Is there a rule that cozy mystery authors must include a romantic entanglement for their main character?  The mystery was straightforward, and it lacked surprises.  I wanted a good twist.  The culprit can easily be picked out early in the story.  The investigation consists of Lana and her roommate, Megan Riley questioning people and speculating on who could have committed the crime.  There needed to be some action which would have helped the pacing. My rating for Death by Dumpling is 3 out of 5 stars.   A Noodle Shop Mystery series has potential, and I hope the author ups her game in the next installment which is Dim Sum of All Fears (August 28). 

I appreciate you visiting today.  Tomorrow (the last day of March) I will be featuring The Innkeeper's Daughter by Michelle Griep.    I hope you have a joyful day.  Be careful and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader 

Thursday, March 29, 2018

The Murderess:

Greetings!  A Breath of Hope by Lauraine Snelling will be published on April 3.  It is the second novel in Under Northern Skies series.  If you like Janette Oke, then you will enjoy reading the works of Lauraine Snelling.   

The Murderess is a new novel by historical author Jennifer Wells.  The story begins in Missensham in 1931.  Kate is being sent away to boarding school by her mother, Millicent Bewsey.  It was a last minute decision by Millicent.  They are on the train platform, and Kate notices her mum talking to another lady.  The next moment Millicent shoves the woman onto the tracks in front of inbound train.  Millicent then refuses to say one word.   Nine years have passed since that day and Kate’s life has changed considerably (for the worse). Kate happens to be at the train station on the anniversary of the incident and notices a disheveled man leaving behind red peonies on the exact spot where Millicent committed her crime.  Kate gets a closer look and there is a card attached that reads “For Rosalie”.  Who is Rosalie?  Is that the name of the victim?  After all these years, the woman’s identity is still a mystery.  The man looks like the one that attacked her mother in their walled garden about a fortnight before the terrible train incident.  Kate’s father, Arthur receives a letter stating Millicent is up for parole and he wants Kate to write a statement to the parole board.  This starts Kate on a quest to get answers.  She starts reviewing the details of the case and delving into her mother’s past.  What secrets will Kate uncover?  Join Kate on her search for the truth in The Murderess.

The Murderess contains good writing and a steady pace in the first half of the book.  I thought the second part of the story dragged (it needed a faster pace).  The story is told from Kate’s (1940) and Millicent’s (1915) perspective.  It alternates between them.   I thought the characters were bland, and Kate was unlikeable.  The main problem with The Murderess is that it was predictable.  Early on I was able to accurately predict how the rest of the novel would play out.  The ending, though, may surprise many readers.  The Murderess is an interesting story, but it needed a more complicated mystery along with a compelling main character.  I give The Murderess 3 out of 5 stars.  The Murderess is available on Kindle Unlimited (through Amazon).

Thank you for reading this review.  Next time I will be featuring Death by Dumpling by Vivien Chien.  I hope you have an extra special day.  Stay safe and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader

Plain as Day: An Amish Mystery novella

Good Day! It is Maundy Thursday. Lord of the Pies by Nell Hampton will be published on April 10.  It is the second installment in A Kensington Palace Chef Mystery series. The Weavers Daughter by Sarah Ladd and An Amish Heirloom by Amy Clipston, Beth Wiseman, Kathleen Fuller, and Kelly Irvin will also be out on April 10.

Plain as Day by Laura Bradford is An Amish Mystery Short Story (Book 5.5).  Claire Weatherly lives with her Aunt Diane in Heavenly, Pennsylvania at the Sleep Heavenly Inn. One of the guests mentions a rattle in the dresser in their room.  Jakob Fisher, Claire’s boyfriend, offers to help Claire investigate the noise.  They uncover a secret compartment with a silver pendant and chain inside.  The pendant seems very familiar to Claire.  The pendant is the exact image of the logo on her favorite mystery series The Subject Murders and the author, Jane Barrett is missing.  Claire wonders if there is a connection between the necklace and the missing author.  She wishes to return the necklace to its owner and begins her research.  Where will the clues lead Claire?

Plain as Day is a cute short cozy mystery.  I liked the author’s relaxed writing style and the story had a nice easy flow to it.  There are good characters (Diane, Esther, Annie, Jakob, Claire) and a lovely touristy small-town setting.  Plain as Day takes place between A Churn for the Worse and Just Plain Murder (which will be published in December).  Plain as Day is not a stand-alone book.  You need to read the other books in the series before embarking on this novella.  The mystery is one that plays out as Claire uncovers the clues.  Readers will be able to guess the outcome, but I still enjoyed joining Claire on her investigation.  My rating for Plain as Day is 4 out of 5 stars. Plain as Day is a quick and engaging cozy mystery.  I am eager to read Just Plain Murder when it comes out later this year.

Thank you for visiting.  I am going to review Death by Dumpling by Vivien Chien tomorrow.  May you have an amazing day (make sure to think pleasant thoughts).  Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Murder with a Cherry on Top: A Lickety Splits Ice Cream Shoppe Mystery

Murder with a Cherry on Top by Cynthia Baxter is the first installment in A Lickety Splits Ice Cream Shoppe Mystery series.  Katherine “Kate” McKay has opened Lickety Splits Ice Cream Shoppe in Wolfert’s Roost, New York.  It is a dream come true for Kate and the start of a new chapter in her life.  Then she notices Ashley Winthrop of Sweet Things Pastry Palace posting a sign in her window stating that they are now selling homemade ice cream.  It seems Ashley is continuing the rivalry that began in kindergarten.  After having a public argument with Ashley in front of the store, Kate heads out to Juniper Hill Organic Dairy where she encounters her old high school boyfriend, Jake Pratt.  The sight of him still makes her heart skip a beat.  The next day Kate is awakened to pounding on her door and Officer Pete Bonano on her doorstep.  Ashley was killed in her bakery the night before, and Kate is at the top of the suspect list courtesy of her vocal disagreement with the victim.  With gossip causing a decline in business, Kate sets out to find Ashley’s killer before her dream melts away.

I liked the premise for A LicketySplits Ice Cream Shoppe Mystery series.  Ice cream and mystery in one book (I love ice cream and have a bowl every day).  The author created an adorable shop for Kate McKay to sell her homemade ice cream treats as well as a charming small town.  Readers are entertained with delectable descriptions of ice cream throughout the book (the Tahitian Vanilla sounds scrumptious).  Every ice cream that Kate sells to a customer is described in detail. The book is nicely written and has a steady pace.  The author has an easy, breezy writing style.  There are some quirky characters like Willow Baines, Kate’s best friend.  I liked Grams and Kate’s niece, Emma.  I fell in love with Gram’s beautiful Victorian home (I want it).  The mystery, though, was lacking and it was not the primary focus of the book.  The investigation consists of Kate asking questions and speculating on the identity of the guilty party (no action or suspense). Instead of Kate identifying the killer, she stumbles upon the solution.  I wish the author had put as much effort into the mystery as she did into coming up with the ice cream flavors.  Of course, there is are requisite clichĂ© nasty detective (thankfully we do not see much of him). My rating for Murder with a Cherry on Top is 3 out of 5 stars.  Murder with a Cherry on Top is a cute and entertaining cozy mystery that will have readers pulling their favorite frozen treat from their freezers.

If you like my book reviews, please consider following my blog (upper right).  Thank you for stopping by today.  I will return next time with my thoughts on Plain as Day by Laura Bradford.  I hope you have a rewarding day.  Take care and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Natural Thorn Killer: A Rose City Mystery

Natural Thorn Killer by Kate Dyer-Seeley is the first installment in A Rose City Mystery series.  Britta Johnston has been putting her dreams on hold (having her own floral shop) and working two jobs so her husband, Chad can work on his novel (he needs to concentrate on it fully). When Britta discovers that Chad is having an affair, she decides it is time for a change.  Britta packs up her belongings and heads back home to Portland, Oregon where her Aunt Elin lives and has her floral boutique and wine bar combination, Blooma.   Aunt Elin raised Britta and is happy to have her return.  The timing is perfect since Elin is getting ready for the grand opening of her cottage that will feature classes/workshops on floral design (flower jewelry for example).  Britta is soon immersed in running Blooma, but not everything is rosy.  Someone is leaving dead roses at the shop and a seedy real estate developer is intent on buying up Riverplace Village (where BLooma and other charming shops are located).  Britta is opening up Blooma one morning and notices the doors to the cottage are open.  She goes inside and finds Frank Jaffe, the developer, on the floor with Elin’s floral shears sticking out of his chest and roses scattered on the floor.  Detective Pete Fletcher hones in on Elin as the killer which makes Britta determined to dig up the guilty party.

In Natural Thorn Killer I was drawn right away into the story.  I liked the author’s conversational writing style.  The book had a nice steady pace and good flow.  The two main characters of Britta and Elin are engaging and relatable.  I liked their creative energy and ideas.  I appreciated that the author gave the characters a Swedish background and had Swedish words/phrases sprinkled throughout the story.  Two side characters that added to the story were Nora who owns Demitasse (spunky) and Officer Tomo Iwamoto (great personality and I wish his parents restaurant was real--yum).  I enjoyed the descriptions of the Riverplace Village where Blooma was located.  It sounds just charming and has a nice small-town feel (even though it is in Portland).  The author included some interesting facts about Portland. I did feel that it was too soon for a romance for Britta since she just left her cheating husband.  I really hope that there will not be a love triangle (there are hints of it).  The author included wonderful descriptions of the flowers and arrangements created at Blooma along with interesting facts about the flowers.  She really brought them alive with her words. The one downfall of the book was the mystery.  There were a limited number of suspects and little investigation (just some questioning). There was a lack of action and the reveal was disappointing.  I wish the author had found a different way to wrap up the book (it was more supposition that fact).  The why part of the murder was slightly farfetched.  At the end there are tips for increasing the longevity of a bouquet of flowers, recipe for Swedish pancakes, and how to pair flowers with wine (never thought of that before).  I give Natural Thorn Killer 4 out of 5 stars.  If the mystery had been more compelling, I would have been a very happy reader.  The next book in A Rose City Mystery series is Violet Tendencies (out November 27). 

Thank you for visiting today.  Next time I will be featuring Murder with a Cherry On Top by Cynthia Baxter.  I am off to do some housework.  Take care and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader

Monday, March 26, 2018

The Summer of New Beginnings: A Magnolia Grove Novel

Hello!  I hope everyone had a lovely weekend.  Bette Lee Crosby is the author of The Serendipity Series, Wishing for Wonderful, Wyattsville series, Cracks in the Sidewalk, Blueberry Hill and A Memory House series.  Readers can follow Ms. Crosby on Amazon, Bookbub, Facebook and Goodreads.

The Summer of New Beginnings by Bette Lee Crosby is A Magnolia Grove Novel.    Meghan Briggs has just graduated from high school in Magnolia Grove, Georgia and is looking forward to attending the Grady College of Journalism in the fall.  But then her father has a deadly heart attack, and Meghan steps in to take over the running of her father’s business, Snip ‘N’ Save magazine.  She wants to preserve her father’s legacy and memory by keeping the publication alive.  Tracy is more about enjoying life and rebelling against the norm.  When Tracy’s boyfriend, Dominic gets a job in Philadelphia, she announces she is moving with him.  Two years later Tracy returns home with her son, Lucas who has yet to start talking.  Tracy has grown up while she was away and begins helping Meghan with the magazine.  It turns out that Tracy has a flair for graphic design.  Meghan has devoted her time to running the magazine and not allowing anytime for a personal life.  One day Meghan is out running and sees a puppy struggling in the lake.  She rescues the little fellow and names him Sox.  She does not want to fall for the him in case his owner shows up, but Meghan is soon under his spell.  Meghan takes Sox to Dr. Tom Whitely to check for a chip, and she discovers her love of working with animals.  Megan used to write in composition books and she picks up the habit again.   It gives her an opportunity to work out her thoughts and emotions.  As the summer progresses, new challenges are put in their paths.  These women will need to reconcile the past in order to have a bright new beginning.  Come along for the journey in The Summer of New Beginnings.

The Summer of New Beginnings is nicely written and has a relaxed pace.  Bette Lee Crosby has a writing style that is relaxed (conversational) and draws the reader in.  The point-of-view switches between the characters with sections that remind me of diary entries.  It allows readers to discover what each character is thinking and feeling which I appreciate.  I like how each character is dealing with real life issues such as the loss of a loved one, problems with a child, limited income, dealing with an ex-boyfriend, falling in love, having to give up on a dream, etc.  There is a great family dynamic and it is lovely seeing these three women come together (help each other, support each other and love each other).  The author created realistic characters that readers can relate to along with their issues.  Ms. Crosby handled the issue with Lucas gently and with sensitively (I would say more but I do not want to spoil it for you).  There are some lovely life lessons in the story that many people will be able to relate to and apply to their own life.  The Summer of New Beginnings is what I call a feel-good book that will leave you with a smile on your face and a good feeling in your heart.  The Summer of New Beginnings will be out on Tuesday, March 27 and is part of the Kindle Unlimited Program on Amazon.

Thank you for stopping by today and reading my review.  Tomorrow I will be sharing my thoughts on Natural Thorn Killer by Kate Dyer-Seeley.  It is the first book in A Rose City Mystery series.  Please consider following my blog by clicking the follow button (top right).  I hope your day is filled with joy.  Take care of yourself and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader  

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Winter Sisters: Mary Sutter Series

Happy Palm Sunday!  Plain Confession by Emma Miller along with A Mother's Gift by Charlotte Hubbard and Just in Time by Marie Bostwick will be released on Tuesday, March 27.  

Winter Sisters by Robin Oliveira is the second book in the Mary Sutter series.  In Albany, New York in March of 1879 the O’Donnell family heads out.  David to the lumber district, Bonnie to her millinery shop and the girls (Claire and Emma) to the grammar school.  That afternoon a horrible blizzard strikes the area. After the storm, David and Bonnie are both found dead.  Claire and Emma were released from school after the storm, but they never made it home.  Dr. Mary Sutter and her husband, William search for the girls, but they are unable to locate them.  Mary routinely visits the police station, but Captain Arthur Mantel urges her to give up her quest.  If the girls have not been found by now, they are presumed dead.  Mary is not about to give up that easily.  What happened to the O’Donnell girls? 

While the Winter Sisters is the second book in the series, it can be read alone.  My Name is Mary Sutter is summarized early in the Winter Sisters along with the history (backstory) of each main character. I like that the main character is a female doctor (such a rarity in that time period).  I found the pace to be lethargic which can be attributed to the abundant details and the authors formal (and descriptive) writing style.  The author’s descriptions help readers visualize the scenes.  However, she needs to find a balance between not enough and too much.  I was amazed to find that the age of consent (for relations) for “women” was ten in New York (how sad and disturbing) in 1879.  The author included some fascinating historical information into the story which helped capture the era.  The attitude towards women by many men (but not all) was accurately portrayed.  The mystery was simple and easily solved before the answers are revealed.  Winter Sisters contains foul language as well as vivid descriptions of violence and child rape (described in graphic detail from a medical viewpoint by Dr. Sutter).  I read Winter Sisters, but I could not get into the story (it failed to hold my attention).  The ending wraps up all the storylines neatly and happily (finally).  The book is too long at 415 pages.   I believe My Name is Mary Sutter is the more compelling of the two books.  

Thank you for reading my latest review.  I will return on Monday with my thoughts on The Summer of New Beginnings by Bette Lee Crosby.  I hope you have a relaxing and blessed day.  Take care and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader

Saturday, March 24, 2018

The Library, the Witch and the Warder: Washington Warders

Welcome.  Have you discovered Bookbub?  You can find books from your favorite authors, follow authors and friends, read reviews of books, get updates from authors, and get good deals on books you wish to purchase (free books too).  Bookbub does not actually sell books, but they can tell you where to find the book for sale.  You can follow Wanda Brunstetter, Mindy Klasky, Ellie Alexander, Amy Clipston and many others. 

The Library, the Witch and theWarder by Mindy Klasky is the beginning of the Washington Warders series.  David Montrose is a warder who has been sidelined courtesy of Haylee James, a witch who did not appreciate David’s by-the-book approach (he likes to follow the rules).  For the past three years, he has been working under Norville Pitt as a file clerk.  Unfortunately, David made the mistake of pointing out an error his boss made in the hearing of some court officials which resulted in an audit of Pitt’s paperwork.  Pitt is a vindictive man who delights in torturing David with unnecessary work and excessive criticism (a petty, nasty little man).  A friend reminds David that he needs to be bonded to a witch before Samhain or will be stuck working for the court (Norville Pitt) for another year.  Late one night he gets a summons from an artifact that he had catalogued.  He arrives to find that Jane Madison has opened the Medieval Compendium and awakened a familiar (on a full-moon night).  David finds her entrancing, powerful and unaware of how to work magic. Could Jane be the witch for David?  Would he be the right warder for Jane?  David is about to fall into bed when his best friend and shifter, Connor Hold calls with an emergency.  An important artifact belong to the Washington Pack has been stolen, and Connor needs David’s assistance in retrieving it.  David needs to tread carefully, or he could find himself in the middle of a war.  David is in for a busy time with his duties as a clerk for Hecate’s Court, helping Connor, keeping an eye on Jane and, mostly importantly, keeping Norville Pitt away from Jane.  Will David be found worthy on Samhain by Goddess Hecate to be Jane’s warder?  Come along for a magical journey in The Library, the Witch and the Warder. 

The Library, the Witch and the Warder is David’s story (takes us back to when David met Jane).  We get to see his side of events as well as meet his friends, family and enemies (versus Jane Madison’s story in Girl’s Guide to Witchcraft which is currently free--Kindle version--on Amazon for a limited time).  I found the story to be well-written with entertaining characters (Aidan O’Rourke, Connor Hold, Neko, Linda Hudson).  The pace varied throughout at the book.  I found it a little slow during the first half of the book, and I was happy to see it pick up later in the story.  I did miss the humor that is normally present in Mindy Klasky’s books.  We get glimpses of it periodically (mostly in the scenes with Jane and Neko), but I think the book needed a little more (I am probably shocking some of you with this statement).  It was interesting to find out more about David Montrose and see how his attitude/behavior changed.  I cannot believe everything he had going on at the time he met Jane.  You do not have to read the Jane Madison Series, before indulging in The Library, the Witch and the Warder.  However, the Jane Madison Series will have you entranced from the first page to the last with many laugh-out-loud moments.  My rating for The Library, the Witch and the Warder is 4 out of 5 stars (I liked it). 

I appreciate you stopping by today.  I hope you have a relaxing Saturday (a beautiful Spring day).  I will be featuring the Winter Sisters by Robin Oliveira on Sunday and The Summer of New Beginnings by Bette Lee Crosby on Monday.  Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader

Friday, March 23, 2018

In Places Hidden: Golden Gate Secrets

Hello!  Tart of Darkness by Denise Swanson will be out on April 3 along with Wedding Cake Crumble by Jenn McKinlay and The Road Home by Beverly Lewis.  So many wonderful new books coming out in the next few weeks.

In Places Hidden by Tracie Peterson is the first novel in the Golden Gate Secrets series.  Camriann “Camri” Coulter has journeyed to San Francisco in late November of 1905 to locate her missing brother, Caleb.  On the journey she meets Judith Gladstone and Kenzie Gifford.  Each woman has their own quest that has brought them to San Francisco.  The three women decide to pool their resources and help one other.  They move into Caleb’s house and Kenzie helps them obtain jobs at her cousin’s candy factory.  Caleb has been missing for over three months.  Camri begins her search by speaking with Caleb’s boss, Mr. Henry Ambrewster.  It seems Caleb took Patrick Murdock, a local contractor being tried for murder, as a client and got a not guilty verdict which angered some bigwigs in the city.  What lengths would these high-powered individuals go to silence Caleb?  Camri teams up with Patrick to discover her brother’s whereabouts and uncover the corrupt people responsible. 

In Places Hidden is well-written and it has some interesting characters.  Kenzie’s candy maker cousin, George Lake is a quirky individual with exacting standards (he is very twitchy).  Camri is an intelligent woman who believes in education and suffrage (she likes to pontificate on the value of education especially).  I was happy to see her alter some of her opinions and behavior by the end of the book.  I had a little trouble getting into the story, but once I did, I was curious to see how matters would play out.  I did feel we were given too much backstory on each of the ladies.  Since each woman (Judith, Camri and Kenzie) will have their own book, we did not need so much detail on Judith and Kenzie in this installment.  It made for a tedious beginning.  The Christian elements are strong throughout the book especially having faith in God to get a person through the troublesome times in life.  I felt the romance between Camri and Patrick proceeded at a little too quickly.  Since In Places Hidden is part of a series, I felt the author could have let their romance progress at a slower speed (which would have been in keeping with the time period). I will be curious to see how Judith and Kenzie’s stories unfold.  In Places Hidden is a light, historical romance with touch of intrigue that will appeal to Tracie Peterson’s fans.  The next book in the Golden Gate Secrets series is In Dreams Forgotten which will have Judith's story.  In Dreams Forgotten will be out on July 3, 2018.

Thank you for stopping by today.  I will be back tomorrow with my review of The Library, the Witch and the Warder by Mindy Klasky.  I hope you have a very special day.  Take care of yourself and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Shipyard Girls in Love: The Shipyard Girls Series

Welcome!  The Summer of New Beginnings by Bette Lee Crosby will be published on March 27 along with Natural Thorn Killer by Katie Dyer-Seeley (first book in A Rose City Mystery series).  

Shipyard Girls in Love by Nancy Revell is the fourth book in The Shipyard Girls Series and it is out today! We return to Sunderland, England in 1941 where Gloria, Rosie, Hannah, Martha, Angie, Dorothy, and Polly work at J.L. Thompson & Sons Shipyard.  All the ladies except Hannah work as welders which before the war was a male only occupation.  It is a beautiful Saturday in November, and Gloria Armstrong is having her daughter, Hope christened.  Gloria is shocked when Jack Crawford arrives at the church with Arthur for the christening. Jack is suffering from retrograde amnesia.  Gloria is filled with hope that Jack’s memory might be returning.  It will not be easy, though, for these star-crossed lovers.  Jack’s wife, Miriam is not about to let herself be humiliated with Jack leaving her for someone like Gloria.  Then there is the matter of Vinnie Armstrong, Gloria’s violent husband.  Gloria’s divorce is progressing, but it is not final.  Vinnie has yet to see Hope and does not know that she is not his biological daughter.  If Vinnie discovers the truth, there is no telling what he will do to Gloria.  Rosie is head over heels in love with DS Peter Miller, but her business venture goes against his beliefs and the law.  Lily, Rosie’s business partner, wants Rosie to be happy, but she also does not wish to go to jail.  Every person has a secret or two that they hope will never be uncovered.  What happens when those secrets are brought into the light.   Rejoin the ladies in Sunderland to see how they are faring in Shipyard Girls in Love.

I thought Shipyard Girls in Love to be well-written and have a gentle pace that suits the story.  The books in The Shipyard Girls Series are best read in order.  Each book builds upon the previous one.  I just love the characters in this series.  They are such a diverse group of women.  With the men off fighting the war, these women have been hired to do a labor-intensive job.  They are welders (except Hannah) who work long, backbreaking hours working to build ships to aid the war.  The co-workers became friends and now they are a family.  These women will do anything for each other.  While Shipyard Girls in Love focuses on Rosie and Gloria, we still get to catch up with the other ladies and their families (Bel and Joe, Maisie, Lily and George, Arthur, Tommy).  The book takes place from November 1941 through the beginning of January 1942.  The United States enters the war after Pearl Harbor is attacked.  The story touches on what is happening to Hannah’s parents who are Jews still in German occupied Czechoslovakia.  Kate opens Maison Nouvelle, but then someone from her past pays a visit.  Shipyard Girls in Love will take you through the gamut of emotions as you progress through the book.  I cannot wait to find out what happens next in Victory for the Shipyard Girls (September 6).  My mother just started reading the series (she heard me talking about it) and is quickly devouring them.  Those readers who enjoy historical novels with strong female characters will be delighted with this series.

The other books in The Shipyard Girls Series are The Shipyard Girls, Shipyard Girls at War, and The Secrets of the Shipyard Girls.  Thank you for reading my review.  I will be back on Friday with my thoughts on In Places Hidden by Tracie Peterson.  Stay warm and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

The Broken Girls: A Novel by Simone St. James

Greetings!  I hope everyone is having a lovely week.  We are enjoying a short cool spell before it goes back into the 80s.  Murder with a Cherry on Top by Cynthia Baxter will be published on March 27.  It is the first book in A Lickety Splits Mystery series.

The Broken Girls by Simone St. James is a dual time-line novel (2014/1950).  In Barrons, Vermont at 3 a.m. Fiona Sheridan is back on Old Barrons Road near Idlewild Hall where her sister’s body was found twenty years ago.  Everyone tells her it is time to move on, but Fiona has unanswered questions.  Tim Christopher, her sister’s boyfriend, was convicted of the murder and is in prison serving his sentence.  When Fiona finds out that Idlewild Hall has been purchased and is being renovated to turn it back into a girl’s boarding school, she decides to write (freelance journalist) an article about it.  While touring the school with Anthony Eden, son of the new owner, a body of a teenage girl is discovered in the old well.  Who is she and how did she end up there?  Fiona dives into the past to discover what happened to this poor girl.  If she happens to turn up information in her sister’s case, all the better. 

In 1950 Idlewild Hall is a girl’s boarding school for troubled girls (too independent, rebellious, illegitimate, traumatized, unwanted).  CeCe, Sonia, Katie and Roberta room together and, as they get to know each other, become close friends.  The lessons are boring, the teachers are rigid, and the luxuries are few. The school is rumored to be haunted by Mary Hand and one room seems to be more sinister than the others.  Then one of the girls disappears-never seen again.  What is going on at Idlewild Hall?  Will Fiona get the answers she seeks?

I had trouble wading through The Broken Girls.  I believe the author had too many ideas and, instead of picking, she put them all into this one story (murder, 1800s ghost, modern killer, a girl from a concentration camp and so much more).  I found the pace to be very slow which made the book seem twice as long.  I found the book disjointed with abrupt transitions.  It jumps around faster than a Mexican jumping bean.  Fiona Sheridan was not a likeable main character.  She came across as obsessed and unsympathetic (I kept hoping the killer would make her the next victim). Much of her sections are devoted to her endless questions and speculation (it was repetitious).  I found the story from the 1950s to be more fascinating than the Fiona’s.  The author could have done a book just on the four girls story (and kept Fiona out of it).  There are a couple of interesting moments in the book, but I mostly found the story to be predictable (mystery readers will have no problem predicting how the book will turn out).  I wanted to feel the suspense and the scare factor, but I did not.  I do want to warn readers that there is foul language in the book.  I realize I am in the minority regarding my feelings on The Broken Girls.  That is the beauty of books.  Every reader has a different perspective.  If you want to see if The Broken Girls is for you, download a sample from your favorite retailer.

Thank you for stopping by today.  I will see you next time with my thoughts on Shipyard Girls in Love by Nancy Revell.  May you have a day filled with happiness.  Take care and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Beneath the Prairie Moon: A novel by Kim Vogel Sawyer

Beneath a Prairie Moon by Kim Vogel Sawyer is a historical romance novel that takes readers back to 1888.  Mrs. Helena Bingham owns Bingham’s Bevy of Brides in Newton, Massachusetts.  She is not surprised to find that Abigail Grant has returned once again.  Abigail was raised to be a lady with a genteel education and refined manners.  After the downfall of her father from his illegal dealings, Abigail found herself without a home and a fiancĂ©.  Helena knew Abigail would be a challenge, but she took her on anyway.  The last gentleman (I use the term loosely) found her too “hoity toity”.  Mrs. Bingham agrees to give Abigail one more opportunity.  She has had a request from sixteen men in Spiveyville, Kansas who are looking for brides.  Mrs. Bingham wants Abigail to give the men lessons in manners, table etiquette, how to court a woman, teach them to dance and proper decorum.  They are met at the station by Mack Cleveland, the hardware store owner.  Mack did not request a bride because he believes that only God can make a heart match.  The enthusiastic grooms are not happy with the delay of their brides nor with the required lessons, but they will do what it takes to get wives.  Events keep throwing Abigail and Mack together, but Abigail’s attitude makes it hard for him to get close.  As time passes, Mack begins to see a different side of Abigail.  Is there a chance for these two different individuals?  Will Abigail realize that perfection will not bring her love and happiness?

Beneath a Prairie Moon is a delightfully entertaining novel.  The book is well-written and has a steady pace.  I enjoyed the mail order bride angle that the author used in this story.  It was unique (hooray).  There are a wide variety of characters from the oh so proper Abigail to Athol Patterson who ran the restaurant (and did not appreciate anyone else cooking in his kitchen) to the evil Elmer Nance.  It was nice to see the townspeople work together to help each other in times of turmoil (a bad storm and a kidnapping).   I like how humor was interlaced throughout the story.  Abigail and her sunburn (ouch) provided me with some laugh out loud moments (you would have to read it to understand).  Beneath a Prairie Moon is a Christian novel and the author handles it beautifully.  There are good lessons woven into the story about forgiveness, pride, the power of prayer, having faith, and following the path God has laid out for you.  The story has a villain in Elmer Nance and a hero with Sheriff Bill Thorn.  I kept hoping Sheriff Thorn would end up with a certain lady, but it did not happen.  The ending will leave you with a smile on your face and a good feeling in your heart.  My rating for Beneath a Prairie Moon is 4 out of 5 stars (I liked it).

Tomorrow I will be sharing my review of The Broken Girls by Simone St. James.  I appreciate you visiting today.  May you have a fulfilling day.  I am off to pick up more leaves in my yard.  They are falling faster than I can dispose of them (due to lack of rain).  Take care and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader