Friday, August 31, 2018

Goodbye Cruller World: A Deputy Donut Mystery

It is hard to believe it is the last day of August.  The month went by so quickly for me.  A Christmas by the Sea by Melody Carlson will be available on September 4 along with The First Love by Beverly Lewis and A Deadly Brew by Lynn Cahoon (this is a novella).  

Goodbye Cruller World by Ginger Bolton is the second tale in A Deputy Donut Mystery series.  Emily Westhill and Tom Westhill co-own Deputy Donut in Fallingbrook, Wisconsin.  Their shop has been commissioned by Jenn Zeeland, who owns Dressed to Kill, to provide a late night snack for her wedding guests at her wedding reception.  They have constructed a donut wall (with dowels to hold the donuts) and Tom’s wife, Cindy added some decorative touches.  At Little Lake Lodge, Emily puts out the fresh donuts and they are an instant hit (who doesn’t love freshly made donuts).  Emily is being twirled about the dance floor when the groom is discovered curled up on the carpet by the donut wall.  Scott Ritsorf, the fire chief, attends to the victim while Emily notices a saucer with a strange white substance hidden under her hat.  It appears that someone used Deputy Donut’s crullers to poison the groom.  Unfortunately, the groom does not survive and the police chief calls in DCI to work the murder.  When Detective Yvonne Passenmath is assigned the case, Emily knows she needs to track down the poisoner to save Deputy Donut’s reputation.   When Detective Passenmath narrows her investigation to Jenn, Emily needs to work quickly before Jenn must trade her wedding dress for a prison jumpsuit. 

Goodbye Cruller World can be read on its own.  The author provides the necessary backstory on Emily and the secondary characters along with what occurred in Survival of the Fritters.  I found the book to be easy to read and I liked the steady pace.  However, we really do not need every activity described in detail (unlocking the shop doors, turning on the lights, making the coffee, wiping down the tables, etc.).  The author needs to take the time to develop the characters in the series.  They are not fleshed out and the secondary characters felt flat.  I like Misty, Samantha, Scott, Brent, Tom and the others.  I just wish we knew more about them.  I could do with Emily spending less time trying to match up her various friends (as she avoids dating and the fact that two men would like to date her).  Dep, the cat, is adorable and playful.  I like that the author has Emily talk to Dep and he responds with his little “mmp” noise.  I did not understand why other characters, like Brent, would answer with a “mmp” though.  I would re-read the paragraph because I wondered if I had missed something (was it a person talking or the cat).  The mystery could be solved before the bridegroom consumes his first cruller.  The killer was as obvious as powdered sugar on a black shirt.  Emily does ask questions, but she spends an inordinate amount of time speculating on the crime with Dep (I want more solid content). I like that Brent listens to Emily’s insights and the information that she digs up on the suspects.  I intensely dislike Detective Yvonne Passenmath.  She is another cliché nasty detective who focuses on finding evidence to convict innocent people instead of following the evidence to find the guilty party.  I would like to know more about the town of Fallingbrook.  We are given scant details on this little hamlet in Wisconsin.  There are delectable donuts described in the story and recipes at the end of the book. Goodbye Cruller World is an easy breezy cozy mystery that will have you making a run to your local donut shop.  I am giving Goodbye Cruller World 3 out of 5 stars.

Survival of the Fritters-kindle edition-(first book in A Deputy Donut Mystery series) is currently on sale for $1.99 (at least it was when I wrote this posting).  Thank you for visiting today.  I hope you day is filled with brightness.  I will be sharing my review of The Mending by Susan Lantz Simpson tomorrow.  Take care, enjoy the day and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader


Thursday, August 30, 2018

Stabbed in the Baklava: A Kebab Kitchen Mystery plus a Giveaway!

Stabbed in the Baklava (A Kebab Kitchen Mystery)

by Tina Kashian

About the Book

Cozy Mystery
2nd in Series
Kensington (August 28, 2018)
Mass Market Paperback: 336 pages
ISBN-10: 1496713494
ISBN-13: 978-1496713490
Digital ASIN: B077WVFL8M

Lucy Berberian has taken over her family’s Mediterranean restaurant on the Jersey Shore after an unsatisfying stint at a Philadelphia law firm. It’s great to be back in her old beach town, even if she’s turning into a seasoned sleuth . . .
Catering a high-society wedding should bring in some big income for Kebab Kitchen—and raise its profile too. But it’s not exactly good publicity when the best man winds up skewered like a shish kebab. Worse yet, Lucy’s ex, Azad—who’s the restaurant’s new head chef—is the prime suspect. But she doesn’t give a fig what the cops think. He may have killer looks, but he’s no murderer. She just needs to prove his innocence, before he has to go on the lamb . . .
Recipes included!

About the Author

Tina Kashian spent her childhood summers at the New Jersey shore, building sand castles, boogie boarding, and riding the boardwalk Ferris wheel. She also grew up in the restaurant business where her Armenian parents owned a restaurant for thirty years. She worked almost every job—rolling silverware and wiping down tables as a tween, to hosting and waitressing as a teenager.

After college, Tina worked as a NJ Deputy Attorney General, a patent attorney, and a mechanical engineer. Her law cases inspired an inquiring mind of crime, and since then, Tina has been hooked on mysteries. The Kebab Kitchen Cozy Mystery series launches with Hummus and Homicide, followed by Stabbed in the Baklava and One Feta in the Grave by Kensington Books. Tina still lives in New Jersey with her supportive husband and two young daughters. Please visit and join her Newsletter to enter free contests to win books, get delicious recipes, and to learn when her books will be released.

Author Links

My Thoughts

Stabbed in the Baklava by Tina Kashian is the second A Kebab Kitchen Mystery.  Lucy Berberian is now the manager of her family’s restaurant, Kebab Kitchen in Ocean Crest, New Jersey.  Lucy is surprised when Philadelphia socialite, Scarlet Westwood asks Kebab Kitchen to cater her wedding in two weeks.  It is a tight timeline for the restaurant, but it would be excellent publicity.  Two weeks later they arrive at Castle of the Sea prepared to wow the wedding guests with their cuisine.  Preparations are going well until a drunken Henry Simms, local banker, stumbles into the kitchen and ends up in a verbal disagreement with Azad Zakarian, Kebab Kitchen’s head chef.  After extricating Henry from the kitchen, the rest of the meal goes off without a hitch.  Henry is later found in Kebab Kitchen’s van with a shish kebab skewer thrust through his neck.  Detective Calvin Clemmons, unfortunately, is assigned the case and he has narrowed his sights on Azad.  Lucy, at the urging of her parents, works to prove Azad’s innocence and unveil the killer.  Accompany Lucy on her campaign to decipher the clues and spot the individual who skewered the banker like a shish kebab!

Stabbed in the Baklava contains good writing and a nice steady pace which makes for an easy to read cozy mystery.  While Stabbed in the Baklava is the second book in series, it can be read alone.  The author provides Lucy’s backstory and summarizes the mystery from Hummus and Homicide.  Lucy has settled into managing the restaurant and is learning how to cook as well.  There are some luscious food descriptions that will have readers craving Mediterranean food.  Her attempts at making improvements at the restaurant have met with limited success.  Lucy has two love interests which include her old boyfriend, Azad Kazarian who has her parent’s approval and the handsome motorcycle riding Michael Citteroni.  While a cozy mystery needs to have some romance (it is expected), I prefer it to play out softly in the background and I am tired of love triangles.  The murder mystery was ingenuous.  I identified the victim and killer before the victim was skewered.  Lucy needs to work on how she asks suspects questions.  She lacks subtlety and her questions come across as accusatory (I am sure she will get better in time).  I hope the author introduces a new detective in a future book.  Detective Clemmons is the cliché nasty detective with a grudge because of an incident that occurred in high school.  I appreciate Lucy’s best friend, Katie Watson.  She is a lively character with an upbeat personality.  Katie is always up for adventure and has inside intel thanks to her police officer hubby.  I did feel that there was too much time devoted to Lucy speculating on the crime and I could have used less repetition of key details (like Lucy’s lack of cooking skills).  Stabbed in the Baklava is an undemanding cozy mystery with a quaint small town, charming characters and food descriptions that will have you salivating.  The next book in the series is One Feta in the Grave which will be published on February 26, 2019.

The author is giving away two copies of Stabbed in the Baklava (digital or print--winner's choice).  Click here to go to the giveaway form or use the form below.  Do not forget to leave a comment on my blog for an extra entry.  Please take the time to visit the other stops on the Great Escape Virtual Book Tour (see schedule below rafflecopter form).  There are spotlights, character guest posts, and author interviews. I will be featuring Goodbye Cruller World by Ginger Bolton tomorrow.  I hope you have a mesmerizing day.  Take care and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader


August 27 – Laura's Interests – REVIEW

August 27 – The Pulp and Mystery Shelf – SPOTLIGHT

August 28 – Varietats – REVIEW

August 29 – Reading Is My SuperPower – REVIEW

August 29 – Babs Book Bistro – SPOTLIGHT

August 29 – Socrates' Book Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

August 30 – The Avid Reader – REVIEW

August 30 – Ruff Drafts – GUEST POST


August 31 – StoreyBook Reviews – REVIEW

August 31 – A Blue Million Books - CHARACTER GUEST POST

September 1 – Devilishly Delicious Book Reviews – REVIEW

September 1 – Lisa Ks Book Reviews – REVIEW

September 2 – Cozy Up With Kathy - REVIEW

September 3 – The Montana Bookaholic – REVIEW

September 3 – A Holland Reads – SPOTLIGHT

September 3 – T's Stuff - AUTHOR INTERVIEW

September 4 – Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book – REVIEW

September 4 – Teresa Trent Author Blog – AUTHOR INTERVIEW

September 5 – Bibliophile Reviews – REVIEW  

September 5 – Celticlady's Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

September 6 – MJB Reviewers – REVIEW

September 6 – Island Confidential – SPOTLIGHT

September 6 – Mysteries with Character - GUEST POST

September 7 – Books a Plenty Book Reviews – REVIEW

September 7 – My Reading Journeys – CHARACTER GUEST POST

September 8 – Readeropolis – CHARACTER INTERVIEW

September 9 – Handcrafted Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

September 9 – A Wytch's Book Review Blog - REVIEW

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Died in the Wool: A Knit & Nibble Mystery

Good Day!  The First Love by Beverly Lewis and An Hour Unspent by Roseanna M. White come out on September 4.  Read and Gone by Allison Brook will be available on September 11.

Died in the Wool by Peggy Ehrhart is the second novel in A Knit & Nibble Mystery series.  Pamela Paterson along with Bettina Fraser have been selling knitted aardvarks at Arborfest all day with the proceeds to benefit the Arborville high school athletic program.  During the afternoon, Bettina noticed that two of the little knitted critters have gone missing and, as Pamela removes the canvas from around the table, she finds one of them—on top of a dead body someone stashed under the table.  The victim is local high school history teacher, Randall Jefferson who managed to rub many people the wrong way and angered many people for his critical op-ed regarding school sports programs.  When the knitting club members and their knitted creations become persona non grata, Pamela must work to unravel the clues.  After a search of Randall’s home, they come up with two likely suspects.  Someone is not happy with Pamela’s questioning and leaves her an unusual warning.  Pamela will not be deterred, and she soon uncovers the second missing aardvark along with another victim.  Can Pamela connect the clues and identify the wily killer?

Died in the Wool can be enjoyed if you have not read Murder, She Knit.  The author provided the necessary background on the main character and the knitting club.  I had some trouble getting into the book because I found Died in the Wool to be a slow starter.  They eat frequently in this book and the food is described in detail (the ingredients, how it is prepared, every item in the meal, sitting down to eat, etc.).  There are also detailed descriptions of plants as the various members maintain their perennial beds and purchase new plants.  Readers are also entertained with every outfit that Penny Patterson wears to work (she has an interesting wardrobe).  The group has a new member, Holly who is very perky.  I liked that she is knitting with larger needles and yarn (similar to roving).  The ruby red yarn that Pamela picked up for her new sweater sounded beautiful.  The mystery had Pamela and Bettina breaking into Randall’s home, questioning suspects, tailing thieves and tampering with evidence.  Any forensics that could have been obtained from the evidence was lost by the time this group was done with it.  There are pointed clues to aid readers in solving the crime and the killer can be pinpointed early in the book.  In Died in the Wool more time is devoted to food than the mystery and the murder mystery was lacking in substance.  I did get a good laugh when the cat in heat noises were described (it is very distinctive).  Pamela had no clue what the caterwauling indicated.  There is a knitting pattern at the end for a cozy cat and a recipe for strawberry shortcake.  I am giving Died in the Wool 3 out of 5 stars. If you are looking for a light cozy mystery with charming characters, then you should check out Died in the Wool.

The next A Knit & Nibble Mystery is Knit One, Die Two which comes out on April 30, 2019.  Thank you for stopping by today and reading my review.  I will feature Stabbed in the Baklava by Tina Kashian tomorrow as part of the Great Escapes Virtual Book Tour.  I hope you have a heartwarming day.  Take care and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Dim Sum of All Fears: A Noodle Shop Mystery

Dim Sum of All Fears by Vivien Chien is the second book in A Noodle Shop Mystery series.  Lana Lee is surprised when her parents announce they are departing for Taiwan and leaving Lana in charge of the Ho-Lee Noodle House.  Just when Lana has a second interview for a well-paying office manager position.  The day her parents depart for Taiwan, Lana arrives at work ready to focus on the restaurant and show her parents she can do the job in their absence.  Then Isabelle and Brandon Yeoh who own Charm City Souvenirs are found dead in their shop.  Isabelle and Lana shared a common love of books and had become friends.  It turns out that Isabelle and Brandon had several skeletons in their closet that are now coming to light.  Despite being told repeatedly by Detective Adam Trudeau to stay out of the investigation, Lana cannot help but do a little digging.  Which one of the suspects could have done the deed?  Join Lana on her quest for the truth in Dim Sum of All Fears.

Dim Sum of All Fears is nicely written and has steady pacing. If you have not read Death by Dumpling, you will not be lost.  The author provides the backstory readers need to proceed with Dim Sum of All Fears.  There are a variety of quirky characters that include the Mahjong Matrons, Kimmy Tran and Esther Chin.  In the beginning of the book, Lana shocks everyone by showing up with her hair dyed blue.  I was baffled as to why she would do this when she was interviewing for an important office manager position.  At twenty-seven years old I believe it is time for Lana to quit antagonizing her mother and figure out what she wants to do with her life.  Lana had days to find someone to cover for her, so she could attend the interview, but waits until it is too late (evidently, she really did not want the job).  The bickering between Lana and her sister especially at the restaurant in front of customers and employees (unprofessional and inappropriate) was tiresome.  I was baffled by the scheduling at the restaurant.  I thought it was unusual that they open in the morning (I have never seen this type of establishment open before 11 a.m.) and during the lunch hour rush there would be only one waitress on duty (the other employee would be on her hour lunch break).  The mystery was straightforward, and I could identify the killer before I was a third of the way through the book.  There were a couple of suspects and Lana was proactive in asking questions.  Detective Adam Trudeau tells Lana to repeatedly stay of the investigation and, of course, she has no intention of listening to him.  There is a cliché love triangle between Lana, Adam and Ian Sung.  Personally, I preferred Death by Dumpling to Dim Sum of All Fears (it was not as silly). My rating for Dim Sum of All Fears is 3 out of 5 stars (it was okay).  I hope the author ups her game in the next A Noodle Shop Mystery.  I will say one thing about Dim Sum of All Fears--it had me craving Chinese food!  I just love pepper steak (yum).

Thank you so much for reading my review.  Tomorrow I am featuring Died in the Wool by Peggy Ehrhart.  The second A Knit & Nibble Mystery.  May you have a day filled with engaging books.  Take care and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader

Monday, August 27, 2018

A Gathering of Secrets: A Kate Burkholder Novel

Welcome!  In His Father's Footsteps by Danielle Steel will be available on September 4.  I started reading her books when I was twelve (I liberated them from my mother's bookshelves) and have read them ever since.  Hitting the books by Jenn McKinlay will published on September 11 along with Ours for a Season by Kim Vogel Sawyer.

A Gathering of Secrets by Linda Castillo is the tenth A Kate Burkholder Novel. Kate Burkholder, the police chief for Painters Mill, gets a late night call about a barn on fire at the Gingerich’s.  Kate arrives and is told that Daniel Gingerich is missing.  It looks like an accidental barn fire until Daniel’s body is found inside the locked and barricaded tack room.  Someone wanted to make sure that Daniel did not survive the fire.  Kate begins her investigation, but the Amish in Painters Mill are less than forthcoming.  Despite being raised Amish and having family in the community, Kate’s uniform and position holds her apart.  She is determined, though, to find out who murdered Daniel and set fire to the Gingerich’s barn.  The more Kate learns about Daniel, the more unsettled she feels.  Can Kate break through the wall of silence to get the answers she needs?  

I do not recommend reading A Gathering of Secrets on its own.  While it can be read alone, you will miss out on Kate’s backstory.  Why she is no longer Amish, how she become the police chief, her relationship with John Tomasetti, and how she gets along with her family.  In A Gathering of Secrets, we follow Kate as she delves into Daniel’s life.  She gathers evidence, interviews family and friends, follows up on anonymous tips, etc.  Kate finds herself once again in a situation that endangers her life.  I am amazed that she allowed herself to fall for the one incident.  Kate has enough experience to know better (I would say more but it would be a spoiler).  A Gathering of Secrets contains good writing and I like Kate’s character.  She is a strong, smart woman who does a difficult job.  It cannot be easy being English in a community where you grew up Amish.  I would like to see Kate grow more as a person.  It is time for her to move beyond what happened to her as a teenager (she will never forget it, but she needs to find a way to deal with what happened to her so she can have a future).  I was disappointed that A Gathering of Secrets is exactly like the nine books before it.  The author seems to follow a formula for her books and she is sticking with it.  The descriptions are the fire, the body and other crimes are vivid and explicit.  There is an uncalled for amount of foul language as well.  I liked that the author included different Amish sects (Beachy Amish and Swartzentruber) and explained the differences.  The mystery had depth, but the solution was obvious.  I kept hoping there would be a surprise/twist that would shock me.  I was amazed at the amount of violence from non-violent people.  My rating for A Gathering of Secrets is 3 out of 5 stars (it was okay).  While I was not enamored with A Gathering of Secrets, I will read the next A Kate Burkholder Novel.

I appreciate you visiting today and reading my review.  If you find my reviews helpful, please consider following my blog or adding me to your Google circle (upper right). On Tuesday, I will be sharing my thoughts on Dim Sum of all Fears by Vivien Chien.  I will also tell you about the new books that have been published.  May you have a whimsical day.  Take care and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader

Sunday, August 26, 2018

Books I cannot wait to read . . . .

Good Day!  I hope you are having a delightful and relaxing weekend.  I wanted to share some upcoming books with you that I am looking forward to reading!  An Amish Homecoming by Amy Clipston along with Beth Wiseman, Kathleen Fuller and Shelley Shepard Gray will be out on October 16.  Four Amish novellas in one book.  The cover is just lovely.

Premeditated Peppermint by Amanda Flower is the third book in An Amish Candy Shop Mystery series.  It will be published on September 25.  I am sure there will be luscious candy descriptions included along with a clever mystery.

A Seat by the Hearth by Amy Clipston is An Amish Homestead Novel and it comes out on November 13.  Priscilla Allgyer has returned home along with her six year old son.  What kind of reception will she receive from her family?  Can you go home again?

Glitter Bomb by Laura Childs and Terrie Farley Moran releases on October 2.  It is the fifteenth novel in A Scrapbooking Mystery series.  I look forward to seeing what Carmela and Ava get up to this time.

A Crafter Knits a Club by Holly Quinn is the first novel in A Handcrafted Mystery series and it will be available on October 9.  I enjoy cozy mysteries that include crafts.

A Wrench in the Works by Kate Carlisle will be out on November 6.  It is sixth A Fixer-Upper Mystery.  Shannon Hammer's younger sister is returning to film a couple of episodes of her home repair show with her co-host.  What happens when the co-host's ex-wife ends up dead?

What books are you looking forward to reading?  I would love to hear from you. Please let me know in the comments below. I will be sharing my review of A Gathering of Secrets by Linda Castillo tomorrow.  Stay cool (it is so hot outside) and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader

Saturday, August 25, 2018

A Love for Leah: The Amish of Pontotoc

Felicitations!  The Christmas Remedy by Cindy Woodsmall comes out on October 23.  Another lovely Christmas story coming out in October is The Christmas Star by Donna VanLiere (October 16).  

A Love for Leah by Amy Lillard is the second book in The Amish of Pontotoc series.  Leah Gingerich is opening Twice Blessed, a secondhand store on Main Street in Pontotoc, Mississippi.  Leah is an independent Mennonite woman with forward thinking ideas.  Jamie Stoltzfus and his nephew, Peter have moved into a cabin on the Gingerich property.  Peter lost his parents and baby sister in a house fire six months prior and has not spoken since that day.  Jamie is a traditional and stubborn Amish man who has certain ideas on how to live life and raise his nephew.  Leah and Jamie clash from the moment they meet and somehow, they keep finding themselves together (I believe there is some matchmaking taking place).  Despite wanting to avoid Jamie, Leah feels that God is calling her to help Peter and Jamie.  Unfortunately, while Peter enjoys spending time with Leah, Jamie does not want her assistance.  Leah is not going to let that stop her.  But will a blast from Jamie’s past ruin their chances?  Can this unlikely duo find common ground?

A Love for Leah is the second book in The Amish of Pontotoc, and I recommend reading the series in order.  It will provide you with a better understanding of the characters, their background, the town, etc.  Leah is the twin sister of Hannah whom we met in A Home for Hannah.  She is present throughout A Love for Leah. Leah is an independent and strong minded woman who cares for her nephew, Brandon.  I like the bond between Leah and Brandon as well as their interactions.  It is good that Leah is strong willed because she pushes Jamie to do what is best for Peter.  God finds a way to help those in need. With Deborah King (Jamie’s ex-fiancé), the author created a character that readers will love to dislike.  She is annoying and full of herself.  I thought the story was nicely written and it had gentle pacing.  I had trouble, though, getting into A Love for Leah and it failed to hold my attention.  While it is a cute Amish romance, I found it to be expected.  The story could have used editing to tighten it up and it desperately needed to be shortened (way too long).   Some of the Christian themes present are having faith, staying hopeful, and the power of prayer.  We get to see the importance of being close to family, having good friends, and allowing love into our lives.  I like that we get to see some of the differences between the Amish and Mennonite faith.  My rating for A Love for Leah is 3 out of 5 stars.  A Love for Leah is an uplifting Amish romance that will leave you with a good feeling in your heart and a smile on your face.

I appreciate you visiting today.  I am going to take Sunday off and return on Monday with my review of A Gathering of Secrets by Linda Castillo.  It is the tenth A Kate Burkholder Novel.  On Tuesday, I will be featuring Dim Sum of All Fears by Vivien Chien.  May you have a wonderful weekend.  Take care of yourself and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader

Friday, August 24, 2018

Last Call: A Mack's Bar Mystery

Welcome!  The Trouble with Truth by Kathy Krevat comes out on August 28 along with The Mending by Susan Lantz SimpsonDeadly Dram by Melinda Mullet publishes on September 4 along with Die Me A River by Denise Swanson.

Last Call by Allyson K. Abbott is the sixth A Mack’s Bar Mystery.  Mackenzie “Mack” Dalton has been asked to be a consultant for the Milwaukee Police Department. Her synesthia has helped solve several recent cases and Duncan Albright calls her his secret weapon.  Duncan is called out to a murder scene and Mack joins him for her first consulting gig. They find Sheldon Janssen dead from a gunshot wound and his little girl hidden in a secret room.  Mack is surprised to discover that the little girl, Felicity has undiagnosed synesthia.  Mal O’Reilly’s blood and fingerprints are found at the scene, but no one can find him.  It turns out that Mal was working undercover at Wade Klein’s construction company and Janssen was Klein’s right-hand man.  They do not know if Mal has been badly injured or if his cover has been blown?  Sonja, a Capone Club member, brings the group a case to solve.  Caroline Knutson has been griping about her husband for quite some time, and suddenly Oliver turns up dead.  Instead of grieving, the widow is updating her look at the salon with a pleased countenance.  Mack and Duncan team up with the lead detective, Roberta Dillon to make sure Oliver did not have help getting to the great beyond.  As if Mack does not have enough to keep her occupied, the O’Reilly clan is working on the bar’s elevator and, to keep them safe, they have moved into her apartment.  Come along to Mack’s Bar, pull up a stool, grab a bite to eat along with a refreshing beverage and help the group solve the two crimes in Last Call.

Last Call may be the sixth novel in A Mack’s Bar Mystery series, but it can be read alone.  The author summarizes the first five books in the series (the cases in each one).  We learn about Mack’s synesthesia, how she inherited the bar, the Capone Club, updates she has made to the bar, and her relationship with Duncan.  If you have not read the other books, it will spoil it them you. However, it is has been a while since you read a book in A Mack’s Bar Mystery, you might find it helpful.  I thought the story was nicely written with steady pacing throughout (for the most part).  I did feel that the frequent explanations of Mack’s synesthesia interrupt the flow of the story.  It is obvious that the author did her research on synesthesia from the way she presents the information and the amount of detail included. The two crimes were interesting, but they were not complex.  The way one of the murders was executed was unique and clever.  There are good clues to aid readers in solving the cases before the solution is revealed.  The members of the Capone Club are mentioned in the book, but we spend little time with them.  It can be difficult to keep all the characters straight (there are so many with the bar employees, Capone Club, O’Reilly family, police officers).  I thought the ending was sweet and romantic.  A majority of Last Call felt like filler.  I would have preferred the author focus on one murder mystery.  The way Last Call ended makes it seem as if it is the last book in A Mack’s Bar Mystery series.  My rating for Last Call is 3 out of 5 stars.  

Allyson K. Abbott also writes under Annelise Ryan (A Mattie Winston Mystery series).  Thank you for visiting me today.  I will be sharing my review of A Love for Leah by Amy Lillard next time.  I sincerely hope you have a day without conflict.  Take care of yourself and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader

Thursday, August 23, 2018

In the Dog House: A Dog Club Mystery

In the Dog House by V.M. Burns is the debut novel in A Dog Club Mystery series.  Lily Echosby is getting a divorce after being married for twenty-five years.  Her husband, Albert cheated on her with Bambi Love (I am betting that is not her real name).  After a disastrous divorce meeting, Lily meets Miss Florrie on the train home who gives her some excellent advice.  Lily reconnects with her old friend, Scarlett “Dixie” Jefferson from Chattanooga, Tennessee.  Upon hearing what Lily has been going through, Dixie arrives the next morning in her RV with her two Standard Poodles and an adorable toy poodle in need of a home.  Lily promptly adopts the endearing puppy and calls her Aggie (short for Agatha Christie).  The morning after a disastrous party to celebrate Albert’s grandmothers ninety-fifth birthday, Lily is surprised to find police on her doorstep.  Albert was shot by someone who broke into his residence during the night and he did not survive.  Since Lily’s alibi will not hold up in court (Aggie), she is the number one suspect.  Lily with the help of Dixie, Stephanie (her daughter), and David (her son) set out to find Albert’s killer.  When Lily’s next door neighbor is murdered, it leads to her being collared.  Can this foursome prove Lily’s innocence and keep her out of prison?  Orange is not Lily’s best color.

In the Dog House is a light-hearted, humorous cozy mystery.  I thought the story had a steady pace and I found it easy to read.  I wish, though, that the author had taken the time to develop her characters.  Since it is the first book in the series, I wanted more information on Lily (not just her immediate background).  It also would have been nice to have details on the town where Lily lived (I missed the small town feel).  A lot of time is spent on the day-to-day activities.  I do not need to know every little detail about Lily’s life (cooking, laundry, getting dressed, doing dishes, walking dogs).  The mystery is uncomplicated, and the solution was handed to readers on a silver platter.  There are limited number of suspects and the pointed clues make solving the crime a cinch.  There are cute dog antics and Aggie sounded adorable (I wanted her).  I liked that Lily used creative curse words (instead of real ones that offend me), but the same could not be said for Bambi Love.  There was a stakeout scene that included dogs that I found amusing.  In the Dog House is for the cozy mystery reader who prefers a light mystery with comical antics.  My rating for In the Dog House is 3 out of 5 stars.

If you are looking for a cozy mystery with dogs shows and sleuthing, check out A Melanie Travis Mystery series by Laurien Berenson.  I will be featuring Last Call by Allyson K. Abbott tomorrow.  I hope that you have a happy day.  Take care and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Toby's Troubles: An Appleton, WV Romantic Mystery & a Giveaway!

About the Book

Book Title: Toby’s Troubles
Author: Carole Brown
Genre: Romantic Mystery, Cozy Mystery
Release date: July 1, 2018

Everyone loves Toby Gibson. A co-owner of Undiscovered Treasures, a unique shop of antiques, collectables and junk, Toby is friendly, generous to a fault, the director of the local plays in Appleton and supports his church’s youth functions. But the minute his sister, Caroline and her new husband, take off for their honeymoon, a “ghost” begins to haunt the shop—or maybe it’s just an intruder. If so, Toby has no idea for what he is looking. To add to his troubles, he suspects Amy, not only is bidding for the property he’s wanted forever, but is in love with him. And he’s not interested.
Amy Sanderson who owns the only flower shop in Appleton—Bloomin’ Life—is drawn into capturing Toby’s “ghost” when her own business is damaged by a destructive intruder. Having loved Toby from childhood, she’s more than willing to join forces with him. But she has no interest in being his best friend or like a sister to him. And if she has to resort to schemes of outbidding him at his frequent auction attendences to get his attention, then so be it. She can be just as stubborn as the man who’s determined to ignore her love.
In between the break-ins, destruction of property, thefts and personal competitions against each other, Amy and Toby work together to find the thief who seems so determined to find a valuable item, he’ll stop at nothing.

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About the Author

Besides being a member and active participant of many writing groups, Carole Brown enjoys mentoring beginning writers. An author of ten books, she loves to weave suspense and tough topics into her books, along with a touch of romance and whimsy, and is always on the lookout for outstanding titles and catchy ideas. She and her husband reside in SE Ohio but have ministered and counseled nationally and internationally. Together, they enjoy their grandsons, traveling, gardening, good food, the simple life, and did she mention their grandsons?

Guest Post from Carole Brown

I knew when I wrote this book who Toby was. But capturing Toby’s personality and presenting it in the right way, was a challenge for me. Readers can see his teasing, fun-loving character when he labels the person who’s breaking into his shop as a ghost. But Toby is also serious, smart and successful. The side of him who has had plenty of girl friends, but who’s never gotten serious with any of them, is prominent too. But I didn’t want him to seem frivolous and uncaring, because he isn’t that. With a focus on his interests, love has never—as of yet—been a primary concern, so when Amy Sanderson strolls into his life, she turns out to be his confidant in the time of his troubles. The question is: can she not only have a place in his life as a best friend, but also capture his heart?
Let’s talk about:
Antique Shops
Who doesn’t love a place filled with valuable items, interesting history, and hard-to-find items? Undiscovered Treasures—a shop of antiques, collectibles and junk—could be described as the town gathering place. Everyone loves browsing there. Deciding on such a place for the business of brother and sister, Toby and Caroline Gibson, was a fun choice. From grandfather clocks to unique shaped vases, it’s a shop where treasure hunters could just find what they’re looking for.
A Thief:
There are way too many new people visiting Appleton, West Virginia, so how is someone like Toby suppose to guess what the thief is after? The thief definitely knows what he’s looking for, just not where. He’s tall, thin and a fast runner, especially when escaping across a rooftop. But then, maybe it’s not a new person in town. Maybe the thief is Toby’s part time help, who has a mystery all of his own. It makes things interesting, and a bit terrifying for everyone.
The Community Theater:
One of Toby’s loves is directing and overseeing the community theater. Caroline Gibson writes some of the plays, the actors are usually taken from the West Virginia area, and all proceeds go to charities. But when their main actors, of the current play, elope and leave the play desolate, someone has to step in to fill the gaps. Toby struggles with decisions he doesn’t want to make.
Toby is smart, funny, and a resourceful man. He’s also busy with his community theater activities and his business. Known as the one man in town who’s not interested, at the current time, in getting married, his reputation of loving and leaving is in danger of being wrecked by one small woman. Can she sabotage his well-laid plans and help him realize it’s now or never? Could it be the time when real love is captured by two people, even when one of them seems doomed to ignore what God’s put in their hearts?
I love creating characters. Developing them into real people with real desires, moods, troubles

My Thoughts on Toby's Troubles

Toby’s Troubles is a cute romance with a light mystery.  I found it easy to read with a conversational writing style and steady pacing.  I do want to recommend reading the other novels in the series prior to picking up Toby’s Troubles.  I started reading and it seemed like I was plopped into the middle of a novel.  I felt that I was missing the backstory on the town and the characters.  It would have been helpful if background information had been provided on Toby and Amy.  Appleton, West Virginia sounds like a charming small town.  A great place to make lifelong friends and raise a family.  Toby may be savvy when it comes to running his shop and obtaining merchandise, but he is clueless regarding women.  Amy is a smart woman who knows what she wants and lays out a plan to obtain her goal.  She was quite clever in how she went about gaining Toby’s attention.  The mystery is straightforward with a limited number of suspects.  The who is easy to figure out, but it takes longer to find out the why.  I felt that the same details were rehashed multiple times and I wanted a more thorough resolution.  Toby’s Troubles is a clean, wholesome story. Toby’s Troubles combines romance, mystery, humor, appealing characters and a cozy small town in one inviting book.  

To celebrate her tour, Carole Browne is giving away a grand prize that includes winner’s choice of one of the two attached mugs, winner’s choice of a print or kindle copy of Toby’s Troubles and a tote bag!  Be sure to comment on the blog stops (schedule below) for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click here to enter. 

Toby's Troubles is a part of the Amazon Kindle Unlimited Program.  The next book in the series is The Golden Touch featuring Ryle Sadler and Jazzi Sanderson. Thank you for stopping by today.  I will return tomorrow to feature In the Dog House by V.M. Burns.  It is the first book in A Dog Club Mystery series. May you have a restful day.  Take care and Happy Reading!

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