Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Murder by the Book: A Beyond the Page Bookstore Mystery

Murder by the Book by Lauren Elliott is the debut novel in A Beyond the Page Bookstore Mystery.  Addie Greyborne has had a rough year with the murder of her fiancé and the death of her father.  Thanks to an inheritance from her great aunt, Anita Greyborne, Addie has relocated to Greyborne Harbor and is ready to open Beyond the Page Books & Curios.  Opening day begins by Addie almost getting run over by a black sedan.  After opening the bookshop, she meets Serena Chandler who owns SerenaTEA next door.  The day spirals out of control when someone uses a distraction to steal a 1961 copy of Alice in Wonderland.  Late that night, Addie awakens to a noise and finds that someone has broken into her home.  Several of the rooms have been ransacked but Addie has no clue what the thieves are after.  When her shop suffers another break in, the local shop owners are less than pleased with Addie.  The next day there is a commotion outside Fielding’s Department Store involving Serena.  She has been arrested for murdering Blain Fielding.  Addie uses her keen eye for detail and sleuthing skills from tracking down rare books and artwork to expose the guilty party behind this nefarious plot.  Can Addie clear Serena of the murder charges?  Come along for the investigation in Murder by the Book.
Murder by the Book is a book full of action.  It starts off with a bang with a car almost running down Addie.  Addie has lost her fiancé, father and a great aunt in one year.  She leaves her job at the Boston Library to start over in Greyborne Harbor.  In her new home, Greyborne Manor she discovers numerous books which gives her the idea to open a used bookstore.  Then someone starts breaking into her home and shop.  We are left wondering what the thieves are trying to locate.  Then there is the murder and slowly more details are revealed.  The mystery is complex yet simple at the same time.  There are hidden rooms, rare books, a secret staircase, a black sedan, and unknown thieves.  Some details/clues are provided as the story progresses, but others come to light just before the reveal with the remainder explained at the end.  I would have liked more clues interspersed throughout the book to allow a reader to play sleuth along with Addie (the best part of a mystery is solving it).  Most readers, though, will have no problem identifying the guilty party.  Addie quickly becomes friends with Serena and her new employee, Paige.  I thought the relationships developed too quickly.  It seems Serena became Addie’s instant friend and she trusts Paige despite her disagreeable mother.  For some reason, the bakery owner, Martha has taken a disliking to Addie.  We are not given Martha’s last name, the name of her establishment or why she dislikes Addie.  Actually, very little information is provided on Greyborne Harbor.  Addie has been in town three months and seems to have met no one.  A prequel to the series would have been beneficial or the author should have started the series with Addie receiving her inheritance.  I loved the description of Addie’s Queen Anne Victorian.  It sounds beautiful inside and out (period details with antique furnishing including a desk with hidden compartments).  I would like to know more about Addie (her growing up years).  I appreciated her enthusiasm for books and knowledge of rare books. I hope the author lets the romance build slowly between Addie and Marc especially since Addie is not over her fiancé.  I enjoyed reading Murder by the Book.  It captured and held my interest which few books have done recently.  My rating for Murder by the Book is 4 out of 5 stars (I liked it).  I thought it was a delightful beginning to A Beyond the Page Bookstore Mystery series, and I look forward to reading Prologue to Murder (April 30, 2019). 

Thank you for joining me today.  I will be sharing my review of Thread Herrings by Lea Wait tomorrow as part of the Great Escapes Virtual Book Tour.   I hope you have a fun yet safe Halloween.  Take care and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

An Hour Unspent: Shadows Over England by Roseanna M. White plus a Giveaway!

About the Book

Once London’s top thief, Barclay Pearce has turned his back on his life of crime and now uses his skills for a nation at war. But not until he rescues a clockmaker’s daughter from a mugging does he begin to wonder what his future might hold.

Evelina Manning has constantly fought for independence but she certainly never meant for it to inspire her fiancé to end the engagement and enlist in the army. When the intriguing man who saved her returns to the Manning residence to study clockwork repair with her father, she can’t help being interested. But she soon learns that nothing with Barclay Pearce is as simple as it seems.

As 1915 England plunges ever deeper into war, the work of an ingenious clockmaker may give England an unbeatable military edge—and Germany realizes it as well. Evelina’s father soon finds his whole family in danger—and it may just take a reformed thief to steal the time they need to escape it.

Click here to purchase your copy!

About the Author

Roseanna M. White is a bestselling, Christy Award nominated author who has long claimed that words are the air she breathes. When not writing fiction, she’s homeschooling her two kids, editing, designing book covers, and pretending her house will clean itself. Roseanna is the author of a slew of historical novels that span several continents and thousands of years. Spies and war and mayhem always seem to find their way into her books…to offset her real life, which is blessedly ordinary. You can learn more about her and her stories at

Guest Post from Roseanna

Last year, as I finished up the writing of An Hour Unspent, my great-grandmother passed away at the age of 103. As I sat at her funeral service and listened to the heartfelt memorial raised up to her by her kids and grandkids, I realized anew that this woman had been a matriarch in the truest sense of the word. She’d taught my family for generations how to love the Lord and each other, how to serve the Lord and each other, and how to trust the Lord and each other. Grandma Seward was, in so many ways, the one who instilled in me my idea of what family really is.
That idea—that it’s those knit together by love more than blood, and that faith is the strongest foundation—is what I built my unusual family of thieves upon in the Shadows Over England series. And strange as it is to liken my twenty-something reformed-thief hero to my 103-year-old-grandmother, Barclay Pearce is very much to his family what Maxine Seward was to mine.
The founder. The caregiver. The leader.
I knew as I began the series that I would write about Barclay in book three, and as I got to know him better throughout the series, I grew so excited to share his story! This is a man who led his family first into and then out of a life a crime, always for the right reasons—so he could provide for the children under his care. All he ever wanted to do was give them what he himself had lost. To show them love. To prove to them that they were worth any sacrifice.
It was truly a blessing for me to get to write the story in which Barclay found someone to come alongside him, to appreciate and learn to understand him. To finally share what started him down this path. I loved the idea that only a reformed thief could steal the time another family needed to overcome their own trials.
There are many historical items in the book that were such fun to explore—watchmaking of the era, the suffrage movement in England, technological advancements of the war—but at the heart, this isn’t a story about any of those.
It’s a story about how far people should go for love. I hope you enjoy Barclay’s story as much as I did!

My Thoughts

An Hour Unspent by Roseanna M. White is the third book in Shadows Over England series.  Barclay Pearce has given up a life of crime and now uses his talents to help his country win the war.  Barclay’s latest assignment is clockmaker, Cecil Manning who has an invention that would give England’s flying men an edge over Germany’s pilots.  On the way to the Manning residence, Barclay saves a woman from a mugging.  The woman turns out to be Evelina Manning, the clockmaker’s daughter.  Barclay is intrigued by the independent woman and perplexed by the identity of her mugger.  Evelina is shocked when her fiancé, Basil ends their engagement three weeks before the wedding and learns that he has enlisted in the army.  Basil tells Evelina that she lacks warmth and the last thing he wants is a marriage like their parents.  Evelina never thought that standing up for a woman’s right to vote and for safe working conditions would drive away Basil.  She dreads telling her mother about the broken engagement.  Barclay works with Mr. Manning on his invention in the evenings and makes a point of arriving early to spend time the clockmaker’s fiery daughter.  It seems that someone else is interested in Mr. Manning’s device, and they will go to great lengths to acquire it.  Barclay will need to dig deep into his bag of tricks if he is to complete this assignment and keep the Manning family safe.

An Hour Unspent is an intriguing novel.  It begins in May of 1915 when England is at war with Germany.  I recommend reading the books in Shadows Over England series in order.  Each book builds upon the previous one and it will provide you a better understanding about the family and its members.  The characters from A Name Unknown and A Song Unheard appear in this installment along with the rest of Barclay’s family.  I enjoyed getting to know more about Barclay who is the head of his family.  He has given up a life of crime, has become a Christian and is reading the Bible.  When he is asked to acquire an item, he has a moral dilemma.  There is only one way to get it and it is not legal.  Barclay’s faith continues to grow as does his character. Barclay is issued a new challenge to steal an hour from Big Ben and the solution is unique (and practical).  Barclay decides to follow the mysterious Mr. V one evening.  Readers get to know a little more about enigmatic man.  I thought An Hour Unspent was well-written and researched.  The author captured the time-period with the character’s speech, clothing, items available, conveyances, books, music and the environment (descriptions of Poplar, the buildings).  Ms. White provides detailed descriptions that brings the scenes to life.  I wish, though, that the pace had been a little peppier (it drags along sometimes).  Unique historical events are included in the story and it was fascinating to learn the origins of Rolex.  Wrist watches were considered a newfangled idea that would not catch on. The mystery is captivating with its many twists and turns.   I was happy the author provided an epilogue. An Hour Unspent combines a thought out plot along with great characters, drama, suspense, humor, romance, friendship, family, and faith.

To celebrate her tour, Roseanna is giving away a grand prize of a signed book, a London mug, and a 48-pack Twinings tea sampler.  Be sure to comment on the blog stops (list below) for nine extra entries into the giveaway. Click the here to enter and Good Luck!  Thank you for stopping by today.  Tomorrow I am featuring Murder by the Book by Lauren Elliott.  The first book in A Beyond the Page Bookstore Mystery series.  I hope you have a peaceful day.  Take care and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader

Blog Stops

The Avid ReaderOctober 30
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Texas Book-aholicNovember 12

Monday, October 29, 2018

Due East, Beasts and Campfire Feasts: A Spells & Caramels Mystery by Erin Johnson plus a Giveaway!

Due East, Beasts & Campfire Feasts: A Cozy Witch Mystery (Spells & Caramels)

by Erin Johnson

About the Book

Cozy Mystery
7th in Series
Self Published
Paperback: 278 pages
ISBN-10: 1727777034
ISBN-13: 978-1727777031
Digital ASIN: B07HWQ5J9J
A hostile town. A mountaintop mission. Will their magic save the day or spoil the pudding?

Imogen thought escaping the king's wrath would give her everything she wanted. But her relationship with Prince Hank is tougher than an overcooked flan and the welcome they get on Badlands Island is far less than friendly. Accused of kidnapping, Imogen proposes they prove their worth by traveling through a deadly forest to retrieve a magical herb at the top of a mountain…

Forced to take her baking skills on the road, Imogen and her friends must navigate monsters, secrets, and a possible traitor. And the little matter of the impending typhoon is seriously compressing their timeline…
With the storm and creatures closing in, can Imogen complete the quest or will her next meal be her last?

Due East, Beasts & Campfire Feasts in the seventh book in the Spells & Caramels series of paranormal cozy mysteries. If you like amateur witch sleuths, unbreakable friendships, and fascinating magical creatures, then you'll love Erin Johnson's page-turning adventure.

Buy Due East, Beasts & Campfire Feasts to battle a mountain of monsters today!

About the Author

Erin Johnson is a native of Tempe, Arizona, Erin spends her time crafting mysterious, magical, romance-filled stories that’ll hopefully make you laugh. In between, she’s traveling, napping with her dogs, eating with her friends and family, and teaching Pilates (to allow her to eat more).

Purchase Link - Amazon

My Thoughts

Due East, Beasts and Campfire Feasts by Erin Johnson is seventh tale in the Spells & Caramels series.  Imogen Banks and her friends have been transported via Horace’s mirror portal to the Badlands.  After revealing King Roch’s wrongdoings, they barely escaped with their lives.  Prince Hank was injured and, thankfully, Horace healed him before departing.  The group is now surrounded by soldier’s and accused of orchestrating the disappearance of a Captain Kenta.  All of them have been hit with darts that stripped them of their magic, and they are forced to march through a forest full of monsters to Kusuri to go before the council.  They must prove their worth by obtaining a much needed herb within three days or they will be banished into the forest (with the monsters).  To make matters worse, a typhoon is on the way and Hank is not talking to Imogen.  They must navigate an unknown territory full of unusual, deadly creatures without their magic.  When things start to go wrong on the journey, it is obvious a traitor is in their midst.  Can they complete their quest in time and will they all make it back in one piece? 

Due East, Beasts and Campfire Feasts is an entertaining story.  I like Erin Johnson’s conversational writing style.  The story is well-written with a fast pace.  There is plenty of action that will keep you riveted. All our favorite characters are back for another adventure in a new land.  Horace has left them (once again) in a sticky situation in a strange land.  The Badlands are not quite what our group imagined.  Hank is unconscious, and Francis is left in an unusual state without his powers (poor Rhoda must carry him).  Erin Johnson has a creative imagination.  She has created some unique worlds, magic and unusual creatures (her take on a unicorn had me laughing).  While our favorite characters are present, I missed the normal interactions between them (while they are baking, enjoying the sights of a new kingdom).  Sam stepped up to the plate in this story and showed his value as a shapeshifter.  I appreciate the humor sprinkled throughout the story.  I found myself giggling several times (Francis’ predicament for instance).  The mystery was interesting and sad (the poor monsters).  While identifying the bad guys is a snap, I wanted to keep reading to see what would happen to our bakers next.  I am giving Due East, Beats and Campfire Feasts 4 out of 5 stars (I liked it).  Due East, Beasts and Campfire Feasts is not a standalone book.  Each book in this series builds upon the previous one (so read them in order).  Due East, Beasts and Campfire Feasts has delightful yet quirky characters, a strange land, magic, scary monsters and a mystery rolled into one engaging story.  I cannot wait for the next installment in A Spells and Caramels Mystery series.
In honor of the tour, the author is hosting a giveaway.  Please click here to enter or enter using the Rafflecopter form below. Make sure to leave a comment on my blog for an extra entry.  I hope you have a bewitching day.  I will be sharing my review of An Hour Unspent by Roseanna White tomorrow as part of the Celebrate Lit Tour. Take care and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader


October 29 – The Avid Reader – REVIEW

October 29 – A Chick Who Reads – REVIEW

October 30 – Valerie's Musings – REVIEW

October 30 – Readeropolis – SPOTLIGHT

October 31 – Rosepoint Publishing – SPOTLIGHT

October 31 – Sapphyria's Books – REVIEW

October 31 – Babs Book Bistro – SPOTLIGHT

November 1 - Varietats – REVIEW

November 1 - A Holland Reads – SPOTLIGHT

November 2 - Mallory Heart's Cozies – REVIEW

November 2 - Books a Plenty Book Reviews – REVIEW

November 3 – StoreyBook Reviews – REVIEW

November 3 – Celticlady's Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

November 4 – Laura's Interests – REVIEW

November 4 – The Montana Bookaholic – REVIEW

November 5 – Cozy Up With Kathy – SPOTLIGHT

November 5 – Community Bookstop - REVIEW

Sunday, October 28, 2018

The Runaway Children: A Gripping World War II Tale by Sandy Taylor

Greetings!  Overkilt by Katilyn Dunnett along with Lover Come Hack by Diane Vallere, Purls and Poison by Anne Canadeo, Deadly News by Jody Holford, and Yeast of Eden by Sarah Fox will be available on October 30.  Wreath Between the Lines by Daryl Wood Gerber comes out on November 8. I wish there were more hours in the day to devote to reading!

The Runaway Children by Sandy Taylor begins in the spring of 1942.  Nell Paterson is thirteen years old when she and her two siblings are sent away from the East End to escape the Blitz.  Nell’s mother just had a baby boy and her father is in the navy.  Mrs. Patterson refuses to leave despite the baby’s sickly condition.  Tony boards the train with the girls, but then jumps off to return to their mother.  Nell and five year old Olive end up in Wales with a vicar and his wife.  Nell makes a friend in free spirited Lottie Lovejoy and the children are enjoying living in the country with the kindly couple.  Unfortunately, the vicar is reassigned to Cardiff and the girls are relocated to Hacker Farm.  Martha Hacker and her son, Albert are cruel to the girls and the house is filthy.  When Albert is inappropriate with Olive, Nell takes action.  The girls quickly escape and head for London.  Along the way, Nell falls ill and she fears for their safety in her weakened capacity.  Will the girls make it home?  Join Nell and Olive on their journey across England in The Runaway Children. 

The Runaway Children is different from other World War II novels since it is told from a young woman’s perspective   I thought the story was nicely written, but the pacing was a little slow.  Some thoughtful editing would have enhanced the story.  I like that The Runaway Children is told from Nell’s point-of-view.  Hundreds of children are sent out of London for their own safety, but things do not always work out as planned.  There were too many children and not enough people to check up on each home.  The Runaway Children is an emotional story.  The girls go on a journey that will forever change their lives.  Nell and Olive are characters that grow over the course of the book.  My favorite theme in The Runaway Children is the kindness of strangers.  The girls will need help if they are to make it to their destination.  Little Olive is adorable with her endless questions and direct manner.  The book has a happy, though predictable, ending.  I appreciate that we learn what happens to the various characters (epilogue).  I am giving The Runaway Children 4 out of 5 stars (I liked it).  The Runaway Children is what I call a “feel good” book (puts a smile on your face and a good feeling in your heart).  I look forward to reading more books by Sandy Taylor. 

Sandy Taylor's newest release is The Little Orphan Girl (available through Kindle Unlimited on Amazon).  I will feature Due East, Beasts and Campfire Feasts by Erin Johnson tomorrow as part of the Great Escapes Tour.  I hope you have a leisurely day.  Take care and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader

Saturday, October 27, 2018

Final Roasting Place: A Cook-Off Mystery by Devon Delaney

Felicitations!  A Wrench in the Works by Kate Carlisle will be published on November 6 along with Santa Puppy by Lynn Cahoon, A Christmas Revelation by Anne Perry and The Skeleton Makes a Friend by Leigh PerryA Seat by the Hearth by Amy Clipston along with Death and Daisies by Amanda Flower will be out on November 13.  Now is the time to start making a list of books you will buy with that gift card you are expecting to receive for Christmas (my mother has one and keeps hinting for an Amazon gift card)!  

Final Roasting Place by Devon Delaney is the second novel in A Cook-Off Mystery series.  Sherry Oliveri is appearing on Sunny Side UP with Carmell and Brett to compete in the News Twelve Appetizer Cook-Off in Augustin, Connecticut.  Sherry takes home the prize with her Spicy Toasted Chickpea and Almond Bites.  If her father, Erno had been the judge, the mushroom appetizer would have won (he certainly scarfed down enough of them).  Before Sherry and Erno can depart the station, the power goes out.  When electricity is restored, Carmell Gordy is slumped over the news anchor desk with something metal sticking out of her neck.  The weapon turns out to be a rug hooking tool that points the police in Erno’s direction.  Erno ends up collapsing and on doctor ordered bed rest.  Sherry and her friend, Amber Sherman come up with a plan to clear Erno and find the Carmell’s killer.  They soon learn that Carmell was not popular at the station because of her ambitious nature.  When the killer strikes again, Sherry knows she must be getting close.  Which one of her suspects is guilty of the killings?

Final Roasting Place can be read as a standalone for those of you who have not picked up Expiration Date.  The author provides the necessary background on Sherry, her friends, family and why she enters cooking competitions.  I found Final Roasting Place easy to read with steady pacing.  There is plenty of shopping, cooking and baking in the story. Food is worked into all aspects of the book.  Sherry is a type A personality who likes things done a certain way and items their place.  I am glad that her panic attacks are not as frequent, and she is learning to deal with them (breathing techniques).  I am happy she went back to her maiden name of Oliveri, so she will quit telling people how to properly pronounce Frazzelle.  Now, though, Detective Raymond Bease (like grease) is doing it. Sherry’s friend, Amber Sherman returns in Final Roasting Place.  She is a lovely individual with a kind, caring personality.  Amber rushes to town when she heard about Erno’s troubles and is offering to help with the shop and clear his name.  The conversations between Sherry and father are awkward. I do like that they have a close relationship and Erno supports Sherry in her cooking endeavors.  There is a similar problem with the dialogue between Sherry and Detective Raymond Bease.  There are two cute dogs in the story, Bean and Chutney.  Bean needs a home since his owner, Carmell passed away.  The mystery has ties to the town’s upcoming Founder’s Day celebration.  There is misdirection, several suspects and pointed clues.  I loved the unique murder weapon.  If you are an avid mystery reader, you will find the whodunit easy to solve.  I enjoy the rug hooking aspects of the story.  There is hand dyeing of yarn, descriptions of rugs and explanation on how to use the tool.  I would love a cozy mystery series based on a rug hooking store.  I am giving Final Roasting Place 3 out of 5 stars.  There are recipes for a few of Sherry’s dishes at the end of the book.  Final Roasting Place is a light-hearted cozy mystery with food descriptions that will have your mouth watering. Guilty as Charred is the next installment in A Cook-Off Mystery series which comes out June 25, 2019.

Thank you for reading my review.  I will feature The Runaway Children by Sandy Taylor tomorrow.  It is a gripping historical novel that takes readers back to World War II (popular theme lately in historical books).  I hope that you have a relaxing day.  Take care and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader