Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Murder in the Reading Room by Ellery Adams

Murder in the Reading Room (A Book Retreat Mystery 5) by [Adams, Ellery]
The Book Retreat Mysteries
Murder in the Reading Room by Ellery Adams is the fifth novel in A Book Retreat Mystery series.  Jane Steward, manager of Storyton Hall, along with Landon Lachlan are traveling to Asheville, North Carolina to the famous Biltmore Estate.  Jane’s boyfriend, Edwin Alcott has been missing for two months and she believes he is being held at Biltmore.  Jane’s cover is a participant in the Luxury Lodging Seminar which will give her access to the grounds and buildings to search for Edwin.  Landon is befriending the master gardener on the estate to see if he can provide any useful information while Jane has gotten them a tour of the main building from a high ranking employee.  When Jane and Landon go to give the master gardener a special gift, they find the kind man dead in his favorite chair in his superb library.  It is thanks to the gardener that the pair receive a clue that leads them to the underground passage where Edwin is being held.  Unfortunately, Edwin’s captor is awaiting them, and he has a shocking surprise for Jane.  To get Edwin back, Jane will have to search Storyton Hall for the papers from Ernest Hemingway’s lost suitcase.  Will Jane and her protectors be able to defeat this evil foe?  Join Jane on her dangerous quest in Murder in the Reading Room.
Murder in the Reading Room is a riveting cozy mystery.  I thought the story was well-written and it moves along at a quick pace.  Murder in the Reading Room is the fifth book in A Book Retreat Mystery series, and it cannot be read alone.  This series is best read in order and each book is better than the previous.  Ellery Adams’ has an engaging writing style, and I was quickly engrossed in Murder in the Reading Room.  Jane Steward is a widow with two rambunctious boys.  She manages Storyton Hall as well as being the Guardian to the secret library.  Jane is lucky to have her aunt and uncle on the premises as well as her trustworthy and protective staff.  The characters are complex and continue to evolve as the series progresses. The Fins and the Cover Girls are delightful secondary characters.  I like seeing the relationship between Eloise Alcott and Landon Lachlan progressing. The setting of Storyton, Virginia is beautiful (especially in the fall).  Storyton Hall is a masterpiece and it is filled with books along with paintings, statutes and other unique items (I want to move in).  The mystery is complex and multifaceted.  I love it when I am surprised in a mystery, and Murder in the Reading Room has one fabulous and shocking turn of events.  There were several great phrases in this book, and it was hard to pick my favorite.  I ended up choosing “I think a book is like a good climbing tree.  They both yearn to be touched.”  I enjoyed the book referenced sprinkled throughout the story which included Maisie Dobbs, Anne of Green Gables and various works by Hemingway.  Murder in the Reading Room is my favorite book in A Book Retreat Mystery series.  Murder in the Reading Room is a captivating cozy mystery that will have you staying up until the wee hours to finish it. 
The other novels in A Book Retreat Mystery series are Murder in the Mystery Suite, Murder in the Paperback Parlor, Murder in the Secret Garden and Murder in the Locked Library.  The next novel in A Book Retreat Mystery series is Murder in Storybrook Cottage and Ellery Adams has signed a contract for three more books after that one (hooray).  I am curious to see what direction she will take Storyton Hall as well as Jane and Edwin's relationship.  Thank you for visiting today.  I will be back tomorrow (I have not decided which book I will share with you yet).  I hope you have a spellbinding day.  Take care and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader
Jennifer Berg (@1950sMysteries) | Twitter

Monday, April 29, 2019

Emily Gone by Bette Lee Crosby

Emily, Gone by [Crosby, Bette Lee]
Good Day!  The Printed Letter Bookshop by Katherine Reay will be out on May 14 along with My Ex-Best Friend's Wedding by Wendy Wax.  A Twist in the Tail by Leighann Dobbs releases on May 16 and it is the first book in The Oyster Cove Guesthouse series.  Sconed to Death by Lynn Cahoon, Murder with Cucumber Sandwiches by Karen Rose Smith and The Amish Cookie Club by Sarah Price publish on May 28.  These are just a few of the new books coming out in May.  
woodstock 1969 ... the PEAK of the freedom, the peace, the generousity of spirit, free rides, dinners for everyone, living with Love as Normal. no fear of rape. no fear of murder. no fear of v.d. no fear of life. a beautiful time in history, with much music and art & written work to show for it. This freedom we shall never see again.
Emily, Gone by Bette Lee Crosby takes readers back to August of 1971.  A music festival has been scheduled by Big Sound to be held in Baker’s Field just outside Hesterville, Georgia.  George and Rachel Dixon along with their six month old daughter, Emily live near there and are overwhelmed by the music.  None of them get sleep until the rain hits on Sunday muffling the music thanks to their metal roof.  Emily is put to sleep in her crib and her parents fall into a deep sleep in their room.  They never hear the woman slipping into their home, pick up Emily and disappear into the night.  The next morning, Rachel goes into Emily’s room to discover her gone.  The Dixon’s life will never be the same again.
 The morning after a Mudcrutch Farm Festival, circa 1971. Oh, to have been there!!
Vicki Robart and her boyfriend, Russ “Murph” Murphy are attending the music festival with thousands of others.  Vicki has been keeping herself numb with marijuana since her daughter was stillborn in February.  When they depart the festival on Sunday evening, Vicki is hungry.  She spots the dark farmhouse and has Murph stop hoping the family leaves their kitchen door unlocked.  Vicki sneaks into the kitchen and spots the baby bottles.  She has a chance to fill her arms which have ached since her little girl was stillborn.  Vicki’s act changes the lives of three women.  What happens, though, when the truth is finally revealed?
 The original plan was for an outdoor rock festival, "three days of peace and music" in the Catskill village of Woodstock. What the young promoters got was the third largest city in New York state, population 400,000 (give or take 100,000), location Max Yasgur's dairy farm near the town of White Lake
Emily, Gone is the story of what happens when a woman takes a child and the aftermath.  I thought Emily, Gone was well-written with steady pacing.  It deals with a tragedy that affects not just Vicki, Rachel, George and Emily but others as well including the residents of Hesterville and Sheriff Carl Wilson.  The kidnapping took place before the internet and amber alerts.  There is little forensic evidence and thousands of suspects.  Finding a six month old child is like finding a needle in a haystack.  Rachel Dixon blames herself for not locking the kitchen door while George goes through a similar blame game.  Russ Murphy knows what Vicki did is wrong, and he tries to find a way to rectify the situation.  The two stories are told in a direct manner.  The characters are realistic along with the feelings and situations.  I could feel Rachel’s distress and loss.  George wants to stay strong for his wife, but he is dealing with the same emotions.  Vicki is thrilled to have her baby and joy pours from her.  Bette Lee Crosby portrays the long term affects of the kidnapping.  Helen Dixon, George’s mother, is my favorite character.  She is not without flaws and is no stranger to heartbreak.   Helen, or Mama Dixon as she is called, provides strength to Rachel and George along with love, understanding, and provides practical advice.  I do want readers to know that the book contains foul language and judicious use of marijuana (it was the 70s).  I did feel that the story was a little long at 394 pages and Russ Murphy’s story seemed incomplete.  I appreciated the epilogue.  Emily, Gone is a feel good story that shows there is a reason for why things happen.  I enjoyed the reference to the little girl’s Mrs. Beasley doll (I wanted one of these dolls) from Family Affair.  There are two phrases I thought were especially profound.  “Sorrow does strange things to a woman” is the first.  “When someone you love hurts, you hurt for them.  That’s how love is” as said by Mama Dixon.  Emily, Gone shows that God does work in mysterious ways. 
Murder in the Reading Room (A Book Retreat Mystery 5) by [Adams, Ellery]

Emily, Gone will be available on April 30 and is on Kindle Unlimited. Thank you for visiting me today.  I will be sharing my review of Murder in the Reading Room by Ellery Adams tomorrow.  May you have a sunshiny day!  Take care and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader
transistoradio:  Huang Guanyu (b.1945), July (1978), oil on canvas, 73.7 x 155.8 cm. Via Sotheby’s.

Sunday, April 28, 2019

The Mint Julep Murders by Angie Fox

The Mint Julep Murders (Southern Ghost Hunter Mysteries Book 8)
Hello!  On a Summer Tide by Suzanne Woods Fisher will be out on April 30 along with Prologue to Murder by Lauren Elliott, Murder in the Reading Room by Ellery Adams, and Staging is Murder by Grace ToppingBlessing in Disguise by Danielle Steel releases on May 7 plus The Silent Widow by Tilly Bagshawe & Sidney Sheldon. So many delightful new books to read.
Angie Fox

The Mint Julep Murders by Angie Fox is the eighth tale in The Southern Ghost Hunter Mysteries.  Verity Long, Ellis Wydell and Frankie are on a road trip to the closed Pikesville Sanitorium aka Mint Julep Manor about an hour outside Sugarland, Tennessee.  Verity would rather hang out on her front porch, but she promised to find a way to set Frankie free and a ghostly inmate may have the key.  Bruno Scalieri, a criminally insane & murderous psychopath, claims to have information regarding Frankie’s death, but he wants a favor in return.  Verity had to get special permission from Inspector De Clercq to visit Bruno and consent from the current owner, Barbara Slater.  Barbara is eager for Verity to confirm that Mint Julep Manor is haunted and to provide her with stories to share with guests on her Halloween Tour plus with journalists.  The last ghost hunter ran out of the house screaming.  Unfortunately, the visit turns deadly and they find themselves stuck inside the asylum with no electricity and a torrential rain storm raging outside.  Will Verity make it back home to Lucy, her pet skunk, or will she find herself a permanent inmate of Mint Julep Manor?
 Southern Ghost Hunter Mysteries
The Mint Julep Murders may be the eighth story in The Southern Ghost Hunter Mysteries, but it can be read as a standalone.  Verity’s background and Frankie’s is included for new readers.  The Mint Julep Murders is not as light as the previous books.  It is darker and more intense (they are in an insane asylum).  Angie Fox’s conversational writing style makes for a pleasurable reading experience.  The story grabbed me right away and I kept reading to find out what would happen next.  Verity, Ellis and Frankie know to be cautious, but this is beyond what they expected.  This trip really opens Ellis’s eyes to the dangers of Verity’s job.  The decrepit asylum was the perfect setting for this creepy whodunit.  Add in an odd assortment of humans, unique spirits, creepy treatment rooms, strange noises and chill breezes. Verity, with her positive outlook on life, manages to put an upbeat spin on their situation.  She is so sweet with her Southern manners and tries to befriend every being she encounters. Verity has a new gingham bag that sounds adorable. Lucy is not with Verity on this adventure, but she is mentioned.  The lucky skunk is staying with Melody, Verity’s sister, and gets to visit the library for Take Your Pet to Work Day.  The murder has Verity and Ellis wondering which of their companions could have committed the crime.  Verity questions the ghostly inhabitants of the asylum.  Levi with his room of books was my favorite.  Two college ghost hunters have invented a ghost translator app (very clever of them) which leads to some humorous moments.  Frankie adds levity with his witty retorts.  At one point Frankie exclaims “shoot me now” and Verity replies “I would, but somebody beat me to it”.  I loved the ending and I cannot wait to find out what Verity and Frankie get into next time.  Come along with Verity, Frankie and Ellis on their latest spooky and chilling escapade in The Mint Julep Murders.
american gangsters of the 1920s & 30s | Lethal | actor with Tommy Gun. (Image | The Sun)
A 1920s gangster similar to Frankie.  What do you think Frankie looks like?
The Mint Julep Murders is available on AmazonSouthern Spirits the first book in The Southern Ghost Hunter Mysteries is free on Amazon (and other retailers too).  Tomorrow I am reviewing Emily, Gone by Bette Lee Crosby. I appreciate you reading my latest review.  I hope you have a spirited day.  Take care and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader
"Library Ghost" by Ebeneeza K. [Stefanie Klück], Illustrator, Hamburg, Germany, www.ebeneeza-k.com

Saturday, April 27, 2019

The Body in the Wetlands by Judi Lynn

The Body in the Wetlands

(A Jazzi Zanders Mystery)
by Judi Lynn

About  the Book 

Cozy Mystery
2nd in Series
Lyrical Underground (April 23, 2019)
Paperback: 208 pages
ISBN-10: 151610840X
ISBN-13: 978-1516108404
Digital ASIN: B07FZN7CVT
High summer in River Bluffs, Indiana, is always sweltering and sweet. But the heat is really on when a decidedly dead body turns up in the neighborhood.

When established house flippers Jazzi Zanders and her cousin Jerod donate a week’s worth of remodeling work to Jazzi’s sister Olivia, they’re expecting nothing more than back-breaking roofing work and cold beers at the end of each long, hot day. With Jazzi’s live-in boyfriend and partner Ansel on the team, it promises to be a quick break before starting their next big project—until Leo, an elderly neighbor of Olivia’s, unexpectedly goes missing . . .

When the friendly senior’s dog tugs Jazzi and the guys toward the wetlands beyond Olivia’s neighborhood, they stumble across a decomposing corpse—and a lot of questions. With Jazzi’s pal Detective Gaff along to investigate, Jazzi finds her hands full of a whole new mystery instead of the usual hammer and nails. And this time it will take some sophisticated sleuthing to track down the culprit of the deadly crime—before the killer turns on her next . . .

About the Author

Judi Lynn received a Master’s Degree from Indiana University as an elementary school teacher after attending the IPFW campus. She taught 1st, 2nd, and 4th grades for six years before having her two daughters.  She loves gardening, cooking and trying new recipes.  Readers can visit her website at www.judithpostswritingmusings.com and her blog writingmusings.com.

My Thoughts

The Body in the Wetlands by Judi Lynn takes us back to River Bluffs, Indiana. Jazzi Zanders along with her cousin, Jerrod and boyfriend, Ansel are helping Olivia and Thane roof their new fixer upper home.  During this time, Jazzi makes friends with Olivia’s neighbor, Leo and his dog, Cocoa.  Leo tells her about Miles Lancaster who went missing three weeks ago with the police only finding his bike.  One day Jazzi is working on the landscaping when a bloody Cocoa comes up to her.  She rushes to Leo’s home where she finds his wife, Louisa has fallen, and that Leo never came home from walking Cocoa the night before.  Jazzi contacts Detective Gaff who rushes over to investigate.  When Jazzi takes Cocoa for a walk, the little brown Labrador leads them into the woods near the wetlands and digs up two decomposing corpses.  They also find a torn piece of Leo’s sweater nearby.  Detective Gaff now has two murders and a missing person’s case to solve.  While Ansel and Jerod move inside to work on Olivia’s house, Jazzi accompanies Detective Gaff to question suspects. Will they be able to find their serial killer before he strikes again?
The Body in the Wetlands is the second novel in A Jazzi Zanders Mystery series.  It can be read as a standalone if you have not picked up The Body in the Attic.  I thought The Boyd in the Wetlands contained good writing and it proceeded at a fixed speed (I am tired of saying steady pacing) which makes it pleasant to read.  The main characters are friendly and relatable.  It is kind of Ansel, Jerod and Jazzi to take time off from their current flip to work on Olivia and Thane’s new home despite the hot August heat.  I like that Jazzi is close to her family and that they have a big Sunday dinner each week.  Ansel is estranged from his family after they forced him to depart from the family dairy farm after he graduated from high school.  He is shocked when his brother calls because they need his help after Ansel’s father had surgery and his other brother fell off the roof breaking his leg.  I could feel Ansel’s emotions.  He is hurt by the way his family treated him and that they have only called him because they need help (and cannot afford to hire assistance).  The mystery has red herrings to distract readers from solving this multifaceted whodunit. George, Ansel’s pug, is back plus Jazzi adds two new furry friends to the household who are adorable and mischievous.  I was turned off by the excessive alcohol consumption by our characters, the focus on appearances and the attention paid to intimate relations.  It was a little much for a cozy mystery.  I am curious as to why permits are never mentioned when they plan their work.  There is an especially sweet and romantic scene towards the end of the book that will delight readers.  The Boyd in the Wetlands is an entertaining cozy mystery with house flipping, close friends, adorable fur babies, family drama, romance, two dead bodies, one missing person and a cagey killer.
The Mint Julep Murders (Southern Ghost Hunter Mysteries Book 8) by [Fox, Angie]
Body in the Wetlands is available at AmazonB&NKobo, and Google Play.  The next book in A Jazzi Zanders Mystery series is The Body in the Gravel which comes out September 24. Please take the time to visit the other stops on the tour for author interviews, character guest posts, excerpts, and guest posts (schedule below).  Thank you for joining me today.  I am featuring The Mint Julep Murders by Angie Fox next time.  It is the eight novel in The Southern Ghost Hunter Mysteries.  Take care and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader

Tour Participants

April 23 – A Wytch's Book Review Blog - REVIEW, CHARACTER INTERVIEW

April 23 – Literary Gold – SPOTLIGHT, EXCERPT

April 24 – I'm All About Books – GUEST POST


April 25 – LibriAmoriMiei – REVIEW

April 25 – Babs Book Bistro – SPOTLIGHT

April 26 – Cozy Up With Kathy – AUTHOR INTERVIEW

April 26 – My Reading Journeys – REVIEW

April 27 – The Avid Reader – REVIEW

April 27 – Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book – SPOTLIGHT

April 28 – Christa Reads and Writes - REVIEW

April 28 – StoreyBook Reviews – GUEST POST

April 29 – A Blue Million Books – AUTHOR INTERVIEW

April 29 – Brooke Blogs – CHARACTER GUEST POST

April 30 – Books a Plenty Book Reviews – REVIEW

April 30 – Cassidy's Bookshelves – SPOTLIGHT

May 1 – The Montana Bookaholic – REVIEW

May 1 – Celticlady's Reviews – SPOTLIGHT, EXCERPT

May 2 – Laura's Interests – REVIEW

May 2 – Sneaky the Library Cat's Blog – CHARACTER INTERVIEW

May 2 – Ascroft, eh? – GUEST POST