Saturday, June 30, 2018

Till Death Do Us Tart: A Bakeshop Mystery

Good Day!  It is the last day of June.  2018 is flying by so quickly.  The Silver Ladies of London by Lesley Eames is out today.  Venture back to 1920s London is this historical novel.  Did you know that Ellie Alexander is Kate Dyer-Seeley?  She writes A Pacific Northwest Mystery series and A Rose City Mystery series.  Under Ellie Alexander she also writes A Sloane Krause Mystery series.

Till Death Do Us Tart by Ellie Alexander is the eighth tale in A Bakeshop Mystery series.  Jules Capshaw has a lot of on her plate.  She is busy planning a surprise wedding for her mother and the Professor.  Everyone in Ashland, Oregon is in on the surprise except the couple getting married.  The nuptials will take place Uva, the vineyard that Jules now owns shares in along with her estranged husband, Carlos (and the horrible Richard Lord).  Carlos will be arriving in Ashland along with his son, Romero in two days.  It is a Midsummer Night’s Dream wedding and guests have been asked to wear Elizabethan themed attire.  The renovations of Torte are still ongoing.  The downstairs will be complete within the week and then they can begin work upstairs.  As if that is not enough, Lance returns to town and he has a problem.  He believes his brother, Leo is poisoning their father and that someone is following him.  He would like to invite Leo and his entourage to the wedding (oh no) as part of his plan.  Then Lance’s father passes away under suspicious circumstances and a wedding guest collapses from poisoned wine.  That glass of wine, though, was meant for Jules.  Are the two cases connected?  Murder, mayhem and the makeover of Torte are on the menu in Till Death Do Us Tart.

Return to Ashland, Oregon in the latest A Bakeshop Mystery.  While Till Death Do Us Tart is the eighth book in the series, it can be read alone.  The author does provide the necessary background details for readers.  Till Death Do Us Tart is nicely written and it has a fast pace.  Ellie Alexander has a conversational writing style that makes her books easy to read and enjoy.  There are many cozy moments with baking, friendship, the vineyard, touring the town and the wedding.  Carlos is back in Jules life and the attraction between them in undeniable.   Jules is falling back in love with Carlos, but she is not sure if he would be happy in Ashland.   While I liked the mystery, I thought it was a cinch to solve. I would have liked a better wrap up of the mystery at the end.  I wanted more facts and less assumption.  My rating for Till Death Do Us Tart is 4 out of 5 stars (I liked it).  Many delectable delights are mentioned in the book.  They will have your mouth watering (there are recipes at the end of the book).  We are left with a small cliffhanger at the end.  Readers will have to wait for the next A Bakeshop Mystery to discover what happens next with Jules.  Till Death Do Us Tart is a light-hearted, charming cozy mystery that will leave you smiling.

Thank you for stopping by today.  I will return on Monday, July 2 with my thoughts on Home on Huckleberry Hill by Jennifer Beckstrand.  It is the ninth delightful installment in The Matchmakers of Huckleberry Hill series.  I hope that you have a very special weekend.  Take care and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader

Friday, June 29, 2018

Buried in Books: A Bibliophile Mystery

Salutations!  Dyeing Up Loose Ends by Maggie Sefton comes out on July 3 along with The Hope of Azure Springs by Rachel FordhamShelved Under Murder by Victoria Gilbert will be released on July 10.

Buried in Books by Kate Carlisle is the twelfth A Bibliophile Mystery.  Brooklyn Wainwright is marrying Derek Stone in just a few days.  With the wedding plans completed, Brooklyn is off to attend the annual National Librarians Association conference.  She is surprised when she runs into Heather Babcock.  Brooklyn, Heather and Sara Martin were roommates and best friends in graduate school until Roderick came along.  Brooklyn has not heard from Heather or Sara in twelve years.  The next day after Brooklyn’s Book Lovers Tour of San Francisco, Brooklyn is surprised with a bridal shower.  She is shocked when she discovers her mother invited Heather and Sara (oh dear).  Heather gives Brooklyn a first edition of The Blue Fairy Book by Andrew Lang.  Not to be one upped, Sara unexpectedly presents Brooklyn with a beautiful (and valuable) first edition of The Three Musketeers.  Later Sara turns up dead which causes Brooklyn to take a closer look at her gift from Sara.  When she discovers it is a forgery, Brooklyn wonders if Sara knew about it or was she innocent victim.  With her wedding quickly approaching, Brooklyn finds herself once again embroiled in a mystery.  Can Brooklyn wrap up the case before she dons her wedding gown or will she end up being fitted for a coffin?

Buried in Books is a well-written and engaging book.  The authors conversational writing style combined with the steady pacing makes Buried in Books easy to read.  I started reading Buried in Books and did not put it down until I finished.  There are many delightful humorous moments in Buried in Books.  Brooklyn and Derek’s mothers are quite a pair. They are two peas in a pod and their families had better be prepared for more of their antics in the future.  I love reading about the beautiful books Brooklyn encounters (the authors descriptions allowed me to visualize the wondrous tomes.  It is also interesting to learn more about bookbinding (which makes A Bibliophile Mystery series unique) and creating one-of-a-kind handmade books. There are beautiful descriptions of San Francisco and various book lover attractions.  I enjoyed how the victim was killed.  It is unique and fits with the book.  The murder does not occur until page 110.  The author took the time to set the stage (give us background) for the crime.  I was disappointed that the mystery was uncomplicated and easily solved.  Brooklyn is a great character.  She is intelligent, spunky and has a nose for murder.  Brooklyn has grown over the course of the series, and I think that Derek is the perfect partner for her.  He supports Brooklyn in her investigations and assists her while keeping her safe.  There are many wonderful cozy moments in the book.  We get to see the Wainwright and Stone families mingle, the wedding, lots of food, Brooklyn spending time with her friends, the sights of San Francisco, descriptions of old books, the convention, the rehearsal dinner, and special moments between Derek and Brooklyn.  There are recipes for a couple of the dishes served at Derek and Brooklyn’s wedding at the end of the book.  My rating for Buried in Books is 4 out of 5 stars.  Fans of A Bibliophile Mystery series (and cozy mysteries) will be thoroughly delighted with Buried in Books

Thank you for visiting.  I will be reviewing Till Death Do Us Tart by Ellie Alexander tomorrow.  It is the eighth novel in A Bakeshop Mystery series.  May you have a pleasing day.  Take care and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader

Thursday, June 28, 2018

Ruff Justice: A Melanie Travis Canine Mystery

Ruff Justice by Laurien Berenson is the twenty-second (wow) novel in The Melanie Travis Canine Mystery series.  Melanie Travis along with her husband, two sons, and Augie are at the Sedgefield dog show.  Davey is hoping to complete Augie’s, his Standard Poodle, championship after two years.  Augie does not get the win, but Aunt Peg discovers a dead body.  Aunt Peg had ordered a special leash for Coral, her six-month-old Standard Poodle puppy, from artist Jasmine Crane.  Jasmine was not at her booth and Aunt Peg (you know how she is) was determined to find the leash.  Instead, Aunt Peg found Jasmine strangled behind her booth.  The next day, Aunt Peg is visited by her dog sitter’s twin sister, Abby.  It seems Amanda Burke has been missing for twenty-four hours and her sister is worried about her.  It turns out that Amanda lived in the apartment over Jasmine Crane’s garage.  It cannot be a coincidence that Amanda disappeared after Jasmine was murdered.  Abby had heard about Aunt Peg and Melanie’s success with investigations in the past.  She wants them to find her sister and, of course, they agree.  Melanie will have to fit in questioning in between teaching, duties at home (laundry, grocery shopping, cleaning), the kids, the various dog shows, a student who is being bullied, taking care of the dogs, and spending time with her husband, Sam.  Melanie has a busy life, but she would not have it any other way.  Melanie soon finds herself ensnared in two perplexing mysteries.

Ruff Justice contains good writing and established characters.  Melanie has grown over the course of the series.  She has a happy home life with her two kids, loving husband and six dogs (five Standard Poodles and Bud).  Aunt Peg, though, has not changed one iota.  She is still headstrong and likes things done her way.  Davey, Kevin and the dogs (especially Bud) provide levity.  I had a good laugh over the finger paint and tomato incidents.    Sam is the stabilizing influence and I love that he does not discourage Melanie’s investigating.  The characters are likeable and relatable. The dog show judging is quite interesting (I did not realize how many dog breeds there were).  There are many variables as we see in Ruff Justice as Davey and Augie work towards their goal of earning Augie his championship title. It is obvious that the author is well versed in the subject of dog competitions (it comes through in the book).  Laurien Berenson explains dog show judging in a way that is easy to understand.  One of Melanie’s tutoring students, Francesca is being bullied, and I like how Melanie addresses the situation.  The mystery is well-crafted and multi-faceted.  I do wish, though, that the author had included a twist.  I was able to identify the culprit early in the story (my one complaint).  Ruff Justice is not a standalone book.  You cannot just pick up Ruff Justice and dive in.  My rating for Ruff Justice is 4.5 out of 5 stars.  If you are looking for an engaging cozy mystery with great characters and a complicated mystery, then pick up Ruff Justice

The first book in A Melanie Travis Canine Mystery series is A Pedigree to Die.  Thank you for visiting today and reading my review.  I will be featuring Buried in Books by Kate Carlisle tomorrow.  It is the twelfth A Bibliophile Mystery.  Brooklyn Wainwright is getting married!  May you have a bewitching day.  Take care and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader 

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

The Foyles Bookshop Girls: The Foyles Girls

Welcome!  I am featuring debut author Elaine Roberts today.  Ms. Roberts said one of the challenges with writing a historical novel is the research.  She said it is easy to get lost in the events (and end up with too much material).  When her research is done, she constructs a timeline of events.  This will be the basis of her story.  Her characters lives and what happens to them are woven around the historical events.  Foyles is a real bookstore chain located in the United Kingdom.  There is a store on Charring Cross Road in London.

The Foyles Bookshop Girls by Elaine Roberts is the first story in The Foyles Girls series.  Alice Taylor works at W & G Foyles Bookstore on Charring Cross Road in London with her friends Victoria Appleton and Molly Cooper.  Victoria is responsible for her two younger siblings since their parents died four and a half years earlier.  Molly is in love with Tony Fletcher who likes to flirt with every woman he encounters.  Alice comes from a well-to-do family and her father, Luke has very rigid ideas for women which makes life difficult for Lily, Alice’s spirited sister.  Alice loves her job at Foyles and spending time with her beau, Freddie who is a police sergeant.  Then England declares war against Germany and the men rush to enlist including Freddie.  Before Freddie departs for training camp, he proposes to Alice.  The wedding will have to wait until he gets leave.  As the war continues on, Alice, Victoria and Molly want to find a way to help the war effort at home.  Alice learns to drive an ambulance and transfers passengers from the train station to the hospital.  She likes to keep herself busy to avoid thinking about the danger those she loves are in.  Will Freddie make it home from the war?  Are her brothers safe?  Will the war ever end?  Venture back to 1914 in The Foyles Bookshop Girls.

The Foyles Bookshop Girls takes readers back to 1914 when World War I begins.   We see how quickly life can change.  The story focuses on Alice but includes her family and friends.  Alice comes from a more affluent household than her friends.  The author did a wonderful job at setting the stage for the book.  Elaine Roberts  descriptions brought the book alive for me.  I could envision the characters, their homes, and Foyles Bookshop.  Alice is a spirited, strong intelligent woman. She was the anchor for her group of friends.  I like how the characters developed over the course of the story and the friendship between the ladies deepened.  Alice matured and developed new insights and a stronger voice.  I just loved the accounts of Foyles Bookshop.  It sounded like a magical place with all the wonderful books.  When Alice mentioned the smell of the books, I completely agreed and understood.  It was interesting how the bookshop operated (how people purchased their books, how the payment system operated).  I would have liked more about the Foyles Bookshop.  It was not central to the story.  I wanted to know more about Victoria and Molly.  I am hoping that they will be featured more prominently in the next two books in the series.  The Foyles Bookshop Girls contains good writing and it is gently paced.  Elaine Roberts is off to a promising start with her debut novel of The Foyles Bookshop Girls.  I have included an extract for your enjoyment:

Alice sighed with relief. Foyles Bookstore frontage was unmissable. The message was clear. They were the largest booksellers in London, with six floors. If a novel was purchased and returned after it was read, there would be a refund of two thirds of the price for each book. They had created quite a name since William and Gilbert Foyle started selling their own unwanted books in 1903. Everyone who started working there was told about their vision of having a bookshop for the people.

She paused for a moment to take a couple of deep breaths, hoping to lessen the heat on her face, catching sight of her reflection in a shop window. Her slender figure was slightly distorted by the glass as she patted down the wide, black-edged lapels of her white blouse. Her hand automatically ran down the small black buttons, twisting each one in turn. She took a deep breath, patted her pinned up hair and stepped towards the open doorway of the shop.  The shutters were being lifted and bookstands were being placed by the entrance and to the side of the store. Customers of all ages were already gathering.

‘Morning, Miss Taylor.’ A slim man towered above her. ‘You only just made it on time.’ He frowned.  Her heart pummelled in her chest. She looked up at his stern expression. His grey hair was greased back. ‘Sorry, sir, I foolishly went to St Thomas' before I came to work.’ Colour flushed her cheeks; Mr Leadbetter was a stickler for timekeeping.  ‘Oh.’ His face softened. ‘Nothing wrong I trust?’
‘No, sir, I’ve so many books indoors, I wanted to give some to the hospital…’ Alice's voice faded to a mumble. ‘For the patients.’

Mr Leadbetter raised his eyebrows. His hands linked behind his back, making his dark grey jacket gape revealing more of his blue tie and lily-white shirt. ‘Very commendable.’ He paused for a moment. ‘You do know we sell second-hand books as well as new ones, don't you?’  The corners of Alice's lips lifted slightly. ‘Of course, sir, I’ve worked here for a few years now. I just thought it would be a good thing to do, but I should have waited until my day off.’  Mr Leadbetter nodded and stepped aside for Alice to walk through the store to the staff room. Having removed her hat and left it with her shopping bag, she stood in front of a large white clock face with its wooden surround and pulled her clocking-in card from the individual slots next to it. She dropped it into a hole in front of the clock and pulled it out again. Alice looked down at the time stamp, realising she had only just made it on time. Quickly placing it back, she hurried into the shop.

Foyles had an air of a library about it as men, women and children lifted books from the shelves to look at the covers and read the first few pages. People whispered to each other, some louder than others, as their excitement grew. The bookshop had become a popular meeting place. There were shelves upon shelves of old and new books, priced from tuppence upwards. She took a deep breath, never tiring of the smell that came from them. She smiled, remembering how Mr Leadbetter had caught her with her nose in a book, her eyes shut, savouring the smell. He hadn't questioned her; he understood and they spent ten minutes trying to work out how to describe it. Was it woody? But then there was a trace of something else; maybe it was the ink or dust. If the previous reader had been a smoker, then that also clung to the pages. No one in the store thought it was odd; they were book lovers, after all.

I hope that snippet has enticed you to pick up The Foyles Bookshop Girls.  The next novel in The Foyles Bookshop Girls series is The Foyles Girls at War which will be out in January 2019.  It will focus on Molly Cooper.  Christmas at the Foyles Bookshop will feature Victoria Appleton (June 2019).  Thank you for stopping by today.  Tomorrow I will feature Ruff Justice by Laurien Berenson.  It is the 22nd book in The Melanie Travis Mystery series.  I hope you have a pleasing day.  Take care and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Deserts, Driving and Derelicts: A Camper & Criminals Cozy Mystery

Happy Book Release Day!  There are some fabulous new books out today.  Ruff Justice by Laurien Berenson is the 22nd A Melanie Travis Mystery.  The family is trying to get Davey's Standard poodle, Augie is championship title.  See what happens when Aunt Peg finds a dead artist and then her pet sitter goes missing.  Buried in Books by Kate Carlisle is the twelfth A Bibliophile Mystery.  Brooklyn Wainwright is getting married but an old friend turns up dead and there is something funny about The Three Musketeers book she received as a gift.  Some of the other new releases are Portrait of a  Sister by Laura Bradford, Home on Huckleberry Hill by Jennifer Beckstrand (this book is just a delight to read), Runaway Murder by Leigh Hearon, Staged 4 Murder by J.C. EatonClaws of Death by Linda Reilly, Murder at the Mansion by Sheila Connolly, Kappy King and the Pickle Kaper by Amy LillardA Lady's Guide to Etiquette and Murder by Dianne Freeman, Death by Espresso by Alex EricksonTill Death Do Us Tart by Ellie Alexander, Italian Iced by Kylie Logan and Deserts, Driving and Derelicts by Tonya Kappes.  

Deserts, Driving and Derelicts by Tonya Kappes is the second A Camper & Criminals Cozy Mystery.  Mae West has settled into her new life living in her RV in the Happy Trails Campground in Normal, Kentucky.  Business is booming at the campground and tourists are enjoying the shops in town.  The article on Happy Trails in National Parks of America Magazine was a real boon.  Mae is surprised when an old friend appears one day.  Bobby Ray Bond was in the same foster home as Mae and he gave her the money to move to New York and enroll in flight attendant school.  It seems it Mae’s turn to help Bobby Ray.  Mae is assisting Betts Hager with her cleaning business and must clean persnickety Tammy Jo Bentley’s home.  The next day she stops by for a check and finds Camille Braun, Tammy Jo’s dog nanny, with a knife sticking out of her chest.  Mae is once again in the middle of a murder investigation plus the reluctant dog sitter to Tammy Jo’s high maintenance pooch.  One thing you can count on in Normal, Kentucky—life is never normal.  Join in on the fun in Deserts, Driving and Derelicts.

Deserts, Driving and Derelicts is an amusing cozy mystery.  The series contains fun, quirky characters that are not over-the-top (thank heavens).  They live in the charming small Southern town of Normal, Kentucky.  I love the descriptions of the town.  It is a welcoming place with quaint shops (I want to live in Normal).  The author has a conversational writing style that draws the reader in and holds their attention.  The story has a steady pace and I quickly finished the book.  The mystery was interesting with several suspects.  There is a twist that some readers may not expect at the end (depends upon your sleuthing skills).  I am curious to see what happens with Bobby Ray.  He doesn’t appear to be ready to move on (I wish Mae good luck at getting him out of the RV he is residing in).  My rating for Deserts, Driving and Derelicts is 4 out of 5 stars.  I would have preferred a more complicated mystery and I felt the story was a little short (154 pages).  I like how Mae fixed up her RV.  For very little money, she really updated the place and made it homey (it sounds so cute).  Deserts, Driving and Derelicts can be read alone.  It was clever how the author handled the synopsis of the first book in the series.  Deserts, Driving and Derelicts is the perfect book to read while sitting beside the pool on a lazy summer day.  Be prepared for people to stare at you, though, when you start chuckling out loud.  

For a limited time the Kindle version of  Beaches, Bungalows and Burglaries is $.99 on Amazon.  It is the first book in A Camper & Criminals Cozy Mystery series.  The next book in the series is Forests, Fishing and Forgery which will be out on July 31.  Tomorrow I will be featuring The Foyles Bookshop Girls by Elaine Roberts.  Have a beautiful day and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader

Monday, June 25, 2018

An Amish Family: An Amish Novella Collection

Welcome!  I hope you had a lovely weekend.  Plain Discovery by Susan Lantz Simpson releases on June 30.  It is the second novel in the Plainly Maryland series.

An Amish Family by Kathleen Fuller is An Amish Novella Collection.  Building Trust is the story of Grace Miller and Joel King.  They have been dating secretly for almost a year and Joel has proposed.  They make the announcement at a family dinner and are shocked when Grace’s father, Vernon forbids the union.  When Vernon is asked why, he will not reveal his reasons and banishes Joel from his property.  Grace needs to find out what her father has against Joel, so they can move forward with their future.

Surprised by Love has Emily Schwartz in a pickle when she tells people she is dating Rueben Coblentz.  She is trying to avoid the latest efforts of her match-making mother.  Rueben can see Emily’s distress and agrees to help her out.  What happens, though, when friendship turns into love? 

A Gift for Anne Marie is set in Paradise, Pennsylvania.  Anne Marie Smucker and Nathaniel have been friends since they were little kids.  When Anne Marie’s friend, Ruth states she is interested in Nathaniel, it surprises Anne Marie that she feels jealous.  Anne Marie looks at Nathaniel in a new light and realizes her feelings for him have changed.  But then her mother announces she is getting married and the family is moving to Ohio.  Is her budding relationship with Nathaniel over before it can begin? 

A Heart Full of Love keeps us in Paradise, Pennsylvania where Ellie and Chris Miller are expecting their first child.  Ellie’s mother has been protective of Ellie since she lost her sight in accident eight years prior.  Since Ellie announced her pregnancy, her mother has become even more protective.  When Ellie gives birth to twins, her mother moves in and takes control of the babies.  When it becomes unbearable for Ellie, Chris is forced to act.  Will Ellie’s mother finally tell them the reason for her behavior?

The four stories in An Amish Family are well-written, thoughtful, and engaging.  I thought each story was just the right length.  There are good life lessons included in each novella.  It is always important to remember that God is in control.  As Christians we need to be faithful to Him and pray for his guidance and assistance.  A Heart Full of Love (in An Amish Cradle) and A Gift for Anne Marie (in An Amish Second Christmas and in An Amish Hope) are not new stories, but I liked revisiting these narratives.  Each novella can be purchased separately or in one volume.  An Amish Family are lovely, heartfelt tales that are enjoyable to read.  I dare you to read just one!

Thank you for reading my review.  I will be featuring Deserts, Driving and Derelicts by Tonya Kappes.  The second book in A Camper & Criminals Cozy Mystery series.  I hope you will join me.  May you have a dazzling day.  Take care and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader 

Sunday, June 24, 2018

A Daring Venture: An Empire State Novel

Happy Sunday!  Killer Green Tomatoes by Lynn Cahoon comes out on July 3. It is the second A Farm-to-Fork MysteryMinding the Light by Suzanne Woods Fisher publishes on July 3 as well.  I will be featuring this book on July 4 as part of the Celebrate Lit Tour.  

A Daring Venture by Elizabeth Camden is the second novel in An Empire State Novel series.  It is June 1908 in Jersey City, New Jersey when Dr. John Lael and Dr. Rosalind Werner, a biochemist, get the verdict on a two-year court case for which they were consultants.  They have ninety days to prove their case that chlorine can prevent waterborne diseases in the water supply.  It is a controversial idea and people are against a toxic chemical being added to their drinking water.  How can they prove chlorine will not harm people?  Nicholas Drake spoke for the opposition in court and is up for the position of Commissioner of State Water Board of New York.  Dr. Lael suggests they meet with Nicholas Drake and try to bring him over to their side.  Nicholas is instantly attracted to Rosalind, but she cannot change his mind about the chlorine argument.  Nicholas is hoping that after the legal case is closed, he can court Rosalind and make her his wife.  Rosalind enjoys spending time with Nicholas, but she is afraid of what will happen when her secrets come to light.  But when Nicholas uncovers the duplicity, he sets out to wage a war in the court of public opinion.  In the midst of this turmoil, an unknown enemy has set their sights on Rosalind and intends to destroy her.  Who is behind this maliciousness? 

A Daring Venture may be the second novel in An Empire State Novel series, but it can be read alone.  The author provides the necessary background on Nicholas Drake (his sister, Lucy was featured in A Dangerous Legacy).  I thought A Daring Venture was well-written and had charming main characters.  Nicholas Drake is a handsome, down to earth man who can be exasperating.  Rosalind is an intelligent woman who wants to help prevent disease.  She is naïve, though, in the ways of the world (men) and cannot explain science in a way that normal people can understand.   The characters are realistic with good traits and flaws (like Nicholas’ impulsiveness and quick temper).  I found the premise fascinating.  We take for granted that we have safe drinking water, but rarely think about how it came about.  It was obvious the author did her research for the book and she managed to explain the process in a way that lay people can understand.  The story is based on real life events which the author explains at the end of the book.  I thought that the era was captured with the descriptions of the clothing, buildings, and attitudes.  I laughed at Rosalind’s fear of using the new fangled subway.    The romance was not over-the-top, nor did it dominate the story.  The battle over the water and the mystery of the unknown enemy are intertwined with the romance between Nicholas and Rosalind.  I especially enjoyed the humorous moments and lines (added levity).  I liked that the author included Lucy and Colin in the story.  We get to find out what is happening in their lives.  I am giving A Daring Venture 4 out of 5 stars (I liked it).  I was not thrilled with Rosalind’s sister-in-law, Ingrid.  I did not like her poor attitude or how she treated Rosalind.  The faith element was very light in A Daring Venture which is unusual for this author.  Elizabeth Camden sets the stage for A Desperate Hope (2019) which will provide us with Eloise Drake’s story.     A Daring Venture is an engaging, multi-faceted story.

I appreciate you reading my review today.  I will be featuring An Amish Family:  An Amish Novella Collection by Kathleen Fuller on Monday.  May you have a blessed day.  Take care and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader

Saturday, June 23, 2018

Death and a Pot of Chowder: A Maine Murder Mystery

Welcome!  Airships, Crypts and Chocolate Chips by Erin Johnson is out today.  It is the sixth novel in the Spells & Caramels series staring Imogen and Iggy. 

Death and a Pot of Chowder by Cornelia Kidd (aka Lea Wait) is the first A Maine Murder Mystery.  Anna Winslow lives on Quarry Island in Maine with her husband, Burt and son, Jake.  She is surprised when she receives a letter from Isabel “Izzie” Jordan stating that she is her half-sister and would like to meet.  A couple of weeks later, Anna is in Portland to meet up with Izzie.  They arrive at their lunch destination when Anna gets a call from Burt regarding his brother, Carl.  Carl’s boat was found adrift and he is missing.  Anna and Izzie rush to Quarry Island where the search is ongoing.  Later that night, Carl’s body is discovered, but he did not die from drowning.  Detective Jonas Preston of the Maine State Police is on the case and they soon learn that the evidence is mounting against Burt.  Anna and Izzie band together to track down Carl’s killer.

Death and a Pot of Chowder is set on Quarry Island, Maine. The author provided detailed descriptions of the island and its history.  Anna is thirty-two and has been married to Burt since she was eighteen years old.  Burt is a fourth-generation lobsterman and expects his son to follow in his footsteps.  Anna grew up on the same street.  Her mother and grandmother still live in the house (close knit family).  It is a place where people can leave their doors unlocked and children can roam freely (until someone murdered Carl).  The author did a terrific job at setting the stage for A Maine Murder Mystery series.  I like how the author brought the two sisters together and their plans for the future.  I loved how Anne of Green Gables was woven into the story (one of my favorite books).  I thought the mystery was simple.  I easily identified the guilty party.  Anna and Izzie work together to figure out Carl’s movement before he was killed.  They question various people and get assistance from retired detective and neighbor, Rob Erickson.  I could have done with less speculation and repetition.  There needed to be more action which would have helped the pacing (which was slow at times).  My rating for Death and a Pot of Chowder is 3.5 out of 5 stars.  I found Jake to be extremely annoying.  I realize his attitude and behavior are realistic for a fourteen-year-old, but I did get tired of his yelling and door slamming.  Izzie’s love of cooking comes through as she describes how she likes to create dishes and execute them.  There are various cookbooks mentioned and there are recipes included at the end of the book.  There are many engaging cozy moments as the two sisters bond, explore the island, cook, and plan for the future.  Death and a Pot of Chowder is nicely written, has good characters, rustic setting and plenty of food.  Death and a Pot of Chowder captured my interest and I will be picking up the next A Maine Murder Mystery.

Cornelia Kidd aka Lea Wait is the author A Mainely Needlepoint Mystery series and An Antique Print Mystery series. I appreciate you stopping by today.  I hope you are having a relaxing Saturday.  I will return on Sunday with my review of A Daring Venture by Elizabeth Camden. The second book in An Empire State Novel series.  Take care and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader

Friday, June 22, 2018

No Grater Danger: A Vintage Kitchen Mystery

Good Day!  Buried in Books by Kate Carlisle will be out on June 26 along with Runaway Murder by Leigh Heron and Murder at the Mansion by Sheila ConnollyDeserts, Driving and Derelicts by Tonya Kappes also releases on June 26.  It is the second book in A Camper & Criminals Cozy Mystery series.  So many new books will be out in the next few weeks.  I wish I could spend more time reading!

No Grater Danger by Victoria Hamilton is the seventh story in A Vintage Kitchen Mystery series.  Jaymie Leighton Muller is enjoying her new life married to Jakob and taking care of her stepdaughter, Jocie.  Sybil Thorndike, Jocie’s school principal, asks Jaymie to assist in a new program that involves teaching through objects.  They want to use objects from the heritage house for an upcoming spice trade lesson.  Mrs. Stubbs suggests Jaymie talk with her cousin, Lois Perry who owns a large collection of nutmeg graters along with other historical objects.  Lois Perry is a reclusive woman who lives in the Nutmeg Palace and owns the waterfront property in town.  Fergus Baird, a developer, has been badgering Lois to sell off the property.  When Jaymie arrives for a meeting with Lois, she finds her at the bottom of the back stairs. Someone set it up for Lois to fall and this was not the first time an attempt has been made on her life.  Jaymie sets out to find the person behind these dastardly deeds because the next attempt on Lois’ life could be successful.

No Grater Danger contains good writing, a steady pace and smooth transitions.  There is a great cast of established characters and I like the addition of Lois Perry (feisty and intelligent woman).  I have liked watching Jaymie grow over the course of the series, and I am glad that she has found the right partner for her in Jakob Muller.  Queensville, Michigan is a lovely town with quaint shops and I appreciate how they want to preserve their history.  There are beautiful descriptions of vintage items in the book including the Savoy by Buccellati Sterling Silver set, various nutmeg graters, and Pyrex.  The mystery is well-crafted with a twist that will surprise you.  There are red herrings and multiple suspects.  Jaymie actively questions suspects and seeks clues to aid her investigation.  Armchair sleuths will be able to discern the guilty parties’ identity early in the story.  However, it did not hinder my enjoyment of the book.  I wanted to keep reading to discover the why and spend more time in Queensville.  There are many appealing cozy moments in the story with Jaymie and her new family (hubby and stepdaughter), time with friends, cooking and eating, shopping, and wonderful descriptions of vintage items.  I am giving No Grater Danger 4 out of 5 stars.   I could have done with less repetition of facts and speculation.  I will be eagerly awaiting the next installment in A Vintage Kitchen Mystery series.  Victoria Hamilton also writes A Merry Muffin Mystery series.

The other novels in A Vintage Kitchen Mystery series are A Deadly Grind, Bowled Over, Freezer I'll Shoot, No Mallets Intended, White Colander Crime and Leave It To Cleaver. Thank you for reading my review.  May happy hour come around quickly for you (which means the work day is over)!  I will see you soon when I share my thoughts on a book that I have read recently.  Take care and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader

Thursday, June 21, 2018

The Love Letter by Rachel Hauck and a Giveaway!

Good Day!  Rachel Hauck is an award winning, New York Times, USA Today and Wall Street Journal best selling author.  Rachel is a graduate of Ohio State University with a degree in journalism and is a devoted Ohio State football fan (Go Buckeyes!).  She now lives in central Florida with her husband and one ornery cat. Rachel Hauck is the author of The Wedding Shop, The Writing Desk, The Wedding Chapel, A Royal Christmas Wedding, and The Royal Wedding Series.

The Love Letter is the latest novel by Rachel Hauck.  Chloe Daschle is auditioning for a role that could change her career.  She has become stereotyped into roles where she dies, and it is time to change her fate.  She gets the role of Esther Longfellow in Bound by Love written by Jesse Gates.  The other thing Chloe longs for is her one true love.  After several disastrous romances, she wonders if the right man is out there for her.  Then Chloe meets screenwriter and actor, Jesse Gates at a friend’s wedding.  Based on a letter from an ancestor, Jesse wrote Bound by Love.  When Jesse meets Chloe, he wonders if she is the woman for him.  He is not sure that he deserves a happily ever after because of what happened eight years prior. 

Esther Longfellow has been in love with Hamilton Lightfoot for many years.  She has returned from two years in London with the hopes of marrying him.  However, war is breaking out and their families are on opposite sides.  Esther’s father, Sir Michael is a loyalist who will not allow his daughter to marry someone unworthy of her much less a patriot.  After a devastating death, Hamilton goes off to war and sees many horrors.  One night before a big battle, he pens a love letter to Esther.  Four people, two stories, one letter.

The Love Letter is a novel about finding someone who will love you, complement you, be there for you during the good times and the bad times.  Finding someone to love can be easy but finding your soul mate is a different matter.  I thought the story was nicely written and the author takes readers on a journey.  The Love Letter is a dual storyline novel that is told from four point-of-views.  I did find it jarring with the four POV’s in the beginning (trying to keep the characters and their stories straight).  It became easier as I progressed through the book.  I found Esther and Hamilton’s storylines more compelling.  The author did a wonderful job at capturing the time-period (starts in 1781) with the descriptions of the area, the clothing, the various Revolutionary War battles and attitudes.  It was clever how the author connects the four people together (I do not want to spoil it for you).  The Christian elements are light but present throughout.  Having faith is the main theme.  You need to have faith that God has the best plan for your life.  I appreciate that the author did not make the characters perfect.  She made them realistic with their own flaws and struggles.  My rating for The Love Letter is 4 out of 5 stars.  It is a lovely story, but I did find the pacing to be slow and the transitions were not smooth (as we switched from character to character).  The Love Letter is a satisfying romantic Christian story with an unpredictable, heartfelt ending. 

The Love Letter is available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, iBooks, and Google.   To celebrate her tour, Rachel is having a giveaway.  The Grand Prize is Kindle Fire 7.  The Semi-Grand Prize is a book basket.  Second through fourth place win a copy of The Love Letter.  You can enter here.  Thank you for stopping by today.  Please take the time to visit the other stops on The Love Letter Celebrate Lit Tour (list below). Good luck on the contest and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader

Blog Stops

Among the Reads, June 21
The Avid Reader, June 21
Genesis 5020, June 21
ansel book blog, June 22
C Jane Read, June 24
By The Book, June 25
Carpe Diem, June 26
Mommynificent , June 27
Radiant Light, June 28
Novels corner, June 29
Bigreadersite, June 29
Pause for Tales, June 30
Splashes of Joy, June 30
Remembrancy, July 2
amandainpa, July 2