Saturday, November 30, 2019

A Desperate Hope by Elizabeth Camden

A Desperate Hope (Empire State, #3)
Welcome! It is hard to believe that today is the last day of November.  Before we know it, 2019 will be over.   I am switching my Sunday feature to today for this week.  On Sunday's I review a book that I was unable to when it was released.  I am featuring Elizabeth Camden today who wrote An Empire State Novel series.  Elizabeth Camden is best known for her historical novels set in the gilded age with clever heroines and richly layered storylines.  Before becoming a writer, Elizabeth was an academic librarian at some of the largest and smallest libraries in America.  Her favorite library, though, is the continually expanding one in her own home.  Elizabeth lives in Florida with her husband who graciously puts up with her stockpile of books.  The author's latest series is Hope and Glory which began with The Spice King.  The next book in that series is The Gilded Lady which comes out on June 2, 2020.   Christmas at Whitefriars is a new novella that released in October.
Ashokan Reservoir-Construction-Catskill Aqueduct-NYC Drinking Water
Construction of reservoir in New York
A Desperate Hope by Elizabeth Camden takes us back in time to 1908 in New York.  Eloise Drake is an accountant for the New York State Water Board, and she has been handling the bills for the Duval Springs project.  Eloise is prim, proper and believes in following the rules.  She learned the hard way that it does not pay to follow your heart and break the rules.  Then she learns that she is being sent to Duval Springs to where the state plans to obliterate the town for the state’s new reservoir which will supply water for New York City.  Alex Duval is the mayor of Duval Springs and he has been fighting the state’s decision for the last five years.  They may have lost the suit, but Alex is determined to save the town.  Alex is shocked to see that Eloise is on the team charged with demolishing the town.  He has not seen Eloise in twelve years, but that has not diminished his love for her.  Alex comes up with a plan that could save the town.  He needs Eloise’s help, though, to pull it off.  Alex not only wants to save Duval Springs, he wants to win back Eloise.  Will Alex be able to save Duval Springs and captures Eloise’s heart?
Ashokan Reservoir in New York
A Desperate Hope by Elizabeth Camden is the third An Empire State Novel.  It can be read as a standalone.  However, they are three delightful historical novels that tie together beautifully.  Elizabeth Camden provides an engaging story with developed characters and a multifaceted story.  Eloise is a mathematical genius who dresses in an understated manner to evoke a prim and proper appearance.  Eloise is prickly but who can blame her after what happened when she was caught with Alex Duval.  She likes to be needed and to help others.  Returning to Duval Springs is the last thing Eloise wishes to do, but that is where her boss is sending her.  Alex Duval fell in love with Eloise when she was a teen, but then her guardian yanked them apart.  He has not forgotten her, and Alex still loves her.  He has been fighting the state of New York to save the town.  Duval Spring resides in a valley that is perfect for the state’s new reservoir which will provide water to New York City.  Alex lost the lawsuit, but he is not done trying to find a way to save his town.  Alex is a strong character with a good heart.  You can tell how much he cares for the town and its residents.  There are other subplots going on in the story.  Elizabeth Camden beautifully weaves it all together into one compelling story.  I like that Nick and Rosalind from A Daring Venture appear in the story.  The point-of-view alternates between Alex and Eloise so we get to see both sides.  I like that because men and women see things in different ways.  I appreciated the epilogue that nicely wrapped up A Desperate Hope.  I liked the messages in the story especially that a child can grow up to be whatever they want.  Christian values are beautifully woven into the story.  I can tell that the author did her research.  There are discussion questions at the end which is helpful for book groups.  I enjoyed all three novels in An Empire State Novel series, and I look forward to reading Elizabeth Camden’s next book.  A Desperate Hope fascinating story that will hold your attention until you finish the very last word.  
Модный курьер 1908
1908 Fashions
A Desperate Hope can be purchased through Amazon* (Amazon UK) and other major booksellers.  The other two novels in An Empire State Novel series are A Dangerous Legacy (currently available through Kindle Unlimited) and A Daring Venture.  For details on towns lost to reservoirs in New York, read this article.  I will return tomorrow to feature Christmas from the Heart by Sheila Roberts.  I hope you have a leisurely day.  Take care and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader
Vrouw in Jardin des Tuileries / Woman in the Tuileries ,1908 - Isaac Lazarus Israëls (Dutch, 1865-1934)
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Friday, November 29, 2019

The Ghost of Christmas Past by Angie Fox

The Ghost of Christmas Past (Southern Ghost Hunter Mysteries, #8.5)
Happy Black Friday!  I hope everyone had a lovely Thanksgiving.  Are you taking advantage of the Black Friday deals?  Amazon has some amazing deals (I belong to Amazon Prime so I can get the items delivered within two days and I do not have to fight the crowds).  Angie Fox is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author.  She writes cute, humorous, action-packed paranormal mysteries.  While her characters are clever and fearless, Angie is afraid of basements, bees and going upstairs when it is dark behind her.  In other words, Angie would not last two minutes in one of her stories.  Angie writes The Southern Ghost Hunter Mysteries and A Biker Witches Mystery series.  You can find out more about Angie and her books by visiting her website where you can also sign up for her newsletter which will garner you a free book.  You can also follow Angie Fox on Amazon and they will notify you when she has a new release.  Angie is on Facebook as well.
'A Christmas Carol: Day 6' “Business!” cried the Ghost, wringing its hands again. “Mankind was my business. The common welfare was my business; charity, mercy, forbearance, and benevolence, were, all, my business. The dealings of my trade were but a drop of water in the comprehensive ocean of my business!” It held up its chain at arm’s length, as if that were the cause of all its unavailing grief, and flung it heavily upon the ground again. #NoteStream #NoteStreamBookClub
The Ghost of Christmas Past by Angie Fox has Verity Long getting ready for the Wydells annual Christmas Eve party.  She borrowed a dress and shoes from her sister plus she has done up her hair and applied lipstick.  Then a delivery man arrives with an astonishing package that comes at a steep cost. Virginia has done it again and it is the last straw for Verity.  With her evening suddenly free, Verity is thrilled when an old friend who is now a ghost appears on her doorstep.  When she asks Verity for a favor, she is happy to oblige.  Frankie, though, is less than thrilled since he has a date with Molly in just two hours.  Verity believes it will be a simple errand, but things are never easy when there are animals and ghosts involved.  Verity gets an unexpected opportunity that will change her life.
 a christmas carol -- 1868 edition illustration
The Ghost of Christmas Past by Angie Fox is a “between the books” holiday story.  It can be read as a standalone, but The Southern Ghost Hunter Mysteries are an entertaining series of books that are not to be missed.  I was instantly drawn into The Ghost of Christmas Past with Verity, Frankie, Lucy and Ellis.  I like Angie Fox’s engaging writing style which makes for a pleasant to read story.  The book has delightful characters (except for Virginia) with my favorite being Frankie the German.  He is a ghost that was a gangster in the 1920s.  I just love his snarky dialogue and he finds some new friends in this story that allows us to see Frankie’s softer side.  Virginia is my least favorite character who decides to humiliate Verity once again.  This is a humorous retelling of Charles Dickens classic tale.  The Ghost of Christmas Past is a magical tale with surprising spirits, a grating gift, alarming animals, lopsided lights and one painful party.
The Ghost of Christmas Future by vaughany_boy
The Ghost of Christmas Past is out today. It is available through Amazon*, Amazon UK, Kobo, iBooks, Barnes & Noble and Google Play.  You can The Southern Ghost Hunter Mysteries here on Amazon.  The next tale in The Southern Ghost Hunter Mysteries is Southern Bred and Dead which will be out on August 28, 2020.  It is available for pre-order.  I hope everyone has a jolly good day.  I plan on sharing my review of An Amish Christmas Promise by Jo Ann Brown which comes out on December 1.  Take care, drive safely and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader
Young Woman by a Christmas Tree - Max Rimböck , 1918 German, 1890-1956 Oil on artist’s board , 63,2 x 51,1 cm
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Thursday, November 28, 2019

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving!

I hope that all of you have a lovely day.  I will return tomorrow to share my review of The Ghost of Christmas Past by Angie Fox.  Take care, drive safely and Happy Reading!


The Avid Reader
Fresh Vintage by Lisa S: Vintage THANKSGIVING Postcard Printables

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Holiday Roast Mortem by Tonya Kappes

Holiday Roast Mortem
Welcome!  Tonya Kappes has written more than fifty southern cozy mysteries.  Her stories are charged with southern charm, emotion, humor and flawed characters.  Tonya's books have garnered reader praise and glowing critical review.  Tonya Kappes lives with her husband in northern Kentucky where she now writes full time since her four sons have flown the coop.  Join the Tonya Kappes Cozy Krew Online Group on Facebook where she holds contests and shares updates about new releases.  There is also the Tonya Kappes Books page on Facebook.  You can find out more about the author, her books and sign up for her newsletter by visiting her website.
We're finding so many cute and cozy corners in Manchester - the cafe game here is pretty strong and we love it! @visitmanchester .… #restaurant #café
Holiday Roast Mortem by Tonya Kappes returns us to Honey Springs where Christmas is rapidly approaching.  Roxy Bloom Cane and her husband, Patrick will be hosting dinner for their family and friends at The Bean Hive on Christmas Day.  Roxy is busy with the preparations along with handling the influx of tourists who stop by for coffee and pastries.  Patrick and Roxy have had little time together lately, so they have a date night at the Watershed.  Unfortunately, Ryan and Yvonne Moore are seated nearby, and they bicker loudly throughout the meal.  On the way home, they see Ryan’s car go off the road and into Lake Honey Springs.  Patrick dives into the frigid waters and pulls out the couple.  Yvonne survives, but Ryan does not make it.  Sheriff Spencer Shepard drops by the next morning to inform Roxy that Ryan’s death was not accidental.  Yvonne is the primary suspect and she hires Roxy to defend her.  Then Roxy learns that her ex-husband, Kirk represents Ryan’s estate and is pushing for Yvonne’s arrest.  Roxy leaves the coffee shop in the hands of her employee, Bunny while she begins asking questions around town.  She soon begins to wonder if Yvonne is as innocent as she claims.  Can Roxy wrap up the case in time for her Christmas Day celebration?
I *love* this idea for something to photograph while guests are eating!  Would work best if there were tall centerpieces or other large elements to be still while heads are blurred.  Leo Patrone.
Holiday Roast Mortem by Tonya Kappes is the seventh A Killer Coffee Mystery.  Each book can be read on its own, but why would you not want to read each book in this entertaining series.  Holiday Roast Mortem is a fun holiday cozy mystery where Roxy gets an opportunity to dust off her lawyer skills.  When Yvonne Moore is suspected of killing her husband, Ryan, she requests that Roxy represent her. Yvonne was seen arguing with her husband the previous night by Roxy, Patrick and a restaurant full of diners.  There are also rumors swirling around town that Ryan was having an affair.  Roxy believes Yvonne is innocent until a shock has her doubting her instincts.  Holiday Roast Mortem has Tonya Kappes’ trademark writing style which is engaging and easy to read.  It is like talking with an old friend when I read one of this authors books.  I quickly became engrossed in the story and the pages flew by as I tried to figure out who killed Ryan Moore.  There is plenty of holiday happenings with the town decked out its finest decorations for tourists plus Roxy and Patrick are decorating their tree.  Roxy has planned an elaborate feast for her friends and family for Christmas Day which is being held at The Bean Hive.  There might be one less guest after Aunt Maxi tries to steal Bunny’s beau.  The mystery was interesting.  I liked the method of murder which suited the season.  There are several viable suspects and good clues to help readers solve this whodunit.  There is an adorable bunny who needs a home and Roxy believes the local bookstore would be the perfect place for it to reside.  She just needs to convince the store’s owner.  Holiday Roast Mortem is a happy holiday cozy mystery with choice coffee, a beautiful bunny, tasty treats, a conniving killer, dating disharmony, and tree trimming.  
Classy Girls Wear Pearls: Thanksgiving Holiday Traditions for Couples
Holiday Roast Mortem is available on Amazon* (Amazon UK).  You can find a complete list of the books in A Killer Coffee Mystery series here.  They are all available on Kindle Unlimited.  Thank you for visiting today.  I hope you and your family have a very Happy Thanksgiving (for those of you in the United States).  I will return on Friday with my review of The Ghost of Christmas Past by Angie Fox.  Take care, safe driving and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader

Fresh Vintage by Lisa S: Vintage THANKSGIVING Postcard Printables

Young Puritan Woman Reading While Spinning at Her Wheel
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Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Paw of the Jungle by Diane Kelley

Paw of the Jungle (Paw Enforcement #8)
Diane Kelly is a former state assistant attorney general and tax adviser who spent much of her career fighting, or inadvertently working for, white-collar criminals. She is also a proud graduate of the Mansfield, Texas Citizens Police Academy. The first book in Diane's IRS Special Agent Tara Holloway series, Death, Taxes, and a French Manicure, received a Romance Writers of America Golden Heart Award. Book #2, Death,Taxes, and a Skinny No-Whip Latte, won a Reviewers Choice award. Diane has combined her fascination with law enforcement and her love of animals in her K-9 cop A Paw Enforcement series.  Diane also writes A House Flipper Mystery series starring Whitney Whitaker and her cat, Sawdust.  You can find out more about Diane Kelly and her books on her website.  She is also on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.
Pin By Cathy Boyd On Shepards German Shepherd Dogs German
About the Book

Police officer Megan Luz and her K-9 partner in crime, Brigit, are on all fours as they try to solve their latest Lone Star mystery.


The weather is beautiful, work is slow, and her canine colleague could use a walk. What better day for Megan to take Brigit to the Fort Worth Zoo, where they can let loose and witness the law and order of nature unfold? But what begins as a fun field trip turns serious when a pair of rare hyacinth macaws named Fabiana and Fernando goes missing. Is the new custodian, a gentle soul who happens to be an ex-convict, to blame? Or is something far more sinister afoot?


The birds are worth thousands of dollars, and the list of people on the premises who might have stolen them is long. Soon other animals start disappearing. . .and Megan and Brigit have their hands and paws full of suspects. But when a rare black rhino is taken from the zoo, presumably for its black-market-friendly horn, time is of the essence. Can Megan and Brigit find out who’s behind the mystery—before they too become prey?
Paw of the Jungle by Diane Kelly is the 8th A Paw Enforcement series.  Each book in the series can be read on its own, but I recommend reading each book in this entertaining series.  Megan and Brigit have two new cases to solve in Fort Worth, Texas. Someone is making off with animals from the local zoo.  They need to stop this thief once they figure out how they are getting into the habitats.  A woman reports her ring stolen and it is just the beginning of a spree.  Plus, there is a new paramedic at the station house who takes a shine to Sean.  Megan Lutz is a strong female character who loves her work plus her partner, Brigit.  Megan is an intelligent woman with good instincts who can twirl her baton with ease.   Megan has an excellent work ethic and I like that she can be snarky especially with that horrible Derek Mackay (he deserved to be tasered in his private parts).  She will make an excellent detective one day and gets to practice thanks to Detective Bustamente.  Megan is dating Seth, a firefighter who works with Blast, a dog trained to detect explosives.  Brigit happens to be very fond of Blast.  I adore Brigit and love the chapters from her point-of-view.  They are hilarious.  It makes me wonder what my dogs think about me.  The story is told (as usual) from Megan, Brigit and the poacher’s point-of-views.  The zoo mystery is one that plays out while the missing jewelry is a whodunit that readers can solve. I found both mysteries to be fun to read about it and they were clever.  It was interesting to learn about poaching, inexpensive zoos, and ranches where you can hunt exotic animals (just terrible).  There is a parolee in the story and there are details on training programs available to prisoners and recidivism rates.   I find that details like these add realism to the story.   A Paw Enforcement series pushes past the bounds of a traditional cozy mystery as there is some foul language and adult humor.  The story takes readers from just before Christmas to Valentine’s Day.  I liked getting to spend time with Megan and her family during the holidays.  The ending Paw of the Jungle was unexpected and has me looking forward to reading the next installment in A Paw Enforcement series.  Paw of the Jungle is a diverting cozy mystery with a perilous poacher, delectable doggie delights, a ring riddle, malodourous manure, an enticing EMT, and Christmas cheer.  
Lol! Let the pup have fun.
Paw of the Jungle is available for purchase on Amazon*, Amazon UK, Barnes & Noble, and IndieBound.  You can find a list of the other books in A Paw Enforcement series here.  Diane Kelly's next release is Dead in the Doorway which is the second tale in A House-Flipper Mystery series.  It will be out on March 31, 2020.  Thank you for visiting today.  I will be back tomorrow to feature Holiday Roast Mortem by Tonya Kappes.  It is the latest novel in A Killer Coffee Mystery series.  I hope that you have a jolly day.  Take care and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader

Funny Animal Pictures Of The Day - 24 Pics
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Monday, November 25, 2019

Spy by Danielle Steel

Spy: A Novel by [Steel, Danielle]
Hello!  Danielle Steel has been hailed as one of the world's most popular authors with over 650 million copies of her books sold.  Her works include The Mistress, Dangerous Games, Property of a Noblewoman, Turning Point, A Good Woman, Full Circle, The Klone and I, Rushing Waters, and Pure Joy:  The Dogs We Love. She has even written two children's novels titled Pretty Minnie in Paris and Pretty Minnie in Hollywood.  
Member of First Aid Nursing Yeomanry (FANYs) in an ambulance, 1914-1918.
Spy by Danielle Steel takes us back to 1939 in Hampshire, England.  Alexandra “Alex” Wickham had her debut into society five years prior when she was eighteen.  She has not settled down much to her mother’s consternation, but Alex is a spirited woman who likes to ride horses, discuss current events and read.  She wanted to study literature at the university, but her father denied her this opportunity.  England is at war and Alex wants to do her bit for her country.  Alex joins the First Aid Nursing Yeomancy in London while her two brothers join the RAF and her parents agree to take in twenty refugee children.  Alex matures while in London and soon adopts wearing trousers as well as donning red lipstick which will become her signature.  Her linguistic skills plus her intelligence draw the attention of the newly created Special Operations Executive (SOE).  Alex is recruited as a secret agent where, after training, she performs dangerous missions that she can tell no one about.  Alex meets Richard, a RAF pilot, who manages to capture her heart, but she cannot share her deepest secret with him.  Alex has an intriguing journey ahead of her.
When the time came, she had no shortage of potential suitors — but it wasn’t until the outbreak of World War II that she met her future husband Etienne Szabo
Spy by Danielle Steel takes readers through the life of Alex Wickham.  When England entered the war, Alex joined the First Aid Nursing Yeomancy in London where she drove lorries.  Alex knew French and German fluently which is how she captured the eye of the newly organized Special Operations Executive (SOE).  Alex becomes a secret agent who goes on dozens of missions to aid England during the war.  When the war ends, Alex finds a new way to serve her country.  We follow Alex from London to India, Moscow, Morocco, Pakistan, Hong Kong and Washington D.C.  I find Spy to be a captivating story that is rich in historical detail from World War II to India gaining its independence from the United Kingdom to the cold war in Moscow.  Danielle Steel did a superb job on the research for this book.  The historical details enrich the Spy and really bring it to life.  I felt like I was there with Alex.  Alex Wickham was a developed character who was intelligent, strong and lovely.  I became engrossed in Spy which moved along at a fast pace.  It is a realistic and emotional story.  There are life’s normal high and low’s as well as the travesties that come from war.  I like Danielle Steel’s writing style which makes a story engaging and easy to read.  Spy has family, friendship, love, grief, adventure and secrets.  I like where the author took the story plus the charming ending.  Spy is fascinating tale with secret agents, exploding bombs, undercover missions, political uprisings, and surprising secrets.
The International Museum of World War II, Natick, MA  Explore the Collection
Spy releases on Tuesday, November 26 in the United States and December 12 in the United Kingdom*Moral Compass is Danielle Steel's next novel which will be out on January 7 (can pre-order now).  You can find a complete list of Danielle Steel's books on Amazon.  I am reviewing Paw of the Jungle by Diane Kelly tomorrow.  It is the eighth A Paw Enforcement Novel.  Megan and Brigit have quite an adventure in the latest book.  I hope that you have a mesmerizing day.  Take care of yourself and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader
UK Cover
reading a book images - Google Search
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Sunday, November 24, 2019

In Cold Chocolate by Dorothy St. James

Dorothy St. James was born in New York but raised in South Carolina.  For the last twenty years, Dorothy has made her home on an artsy island community in South Carolina with her husband.  Dorothy St. James is the alter ego of Dorothy McFalls, an award winning, multi-published author.  She enjoys writing different genres.  It wasn't until 2001 that Dorothy took the plunge and pursued her life long dream of writing full-time.  You can sign up for her newsletter by clicking here.  Dorothy has also written A White House Gardener Mystery series.  
In Cold Chocolate by Dorothy St. James has readers traveling to Camellia Beach, South Carolina.  Charity Penn owns the Chocolate Box where she is featuring sea salt chocolate turtles in honor of the baby sea turtles that will soon hatch on local beaches.  Penn joins Althea Bays and the rest of the turtle watch team to welcome the baby sea turtles into the world.  The event gets off to a rough start because Chef Bailey Grassi has left his outside lights blazing.  Jody Dalton takes off with a gun to shoot out the lights.  They soon hear a scream and find slimy realtor, Cassidy Jones dead with Jody standing over him with her gun.  It seems like a slam dunk case, but Jody claims she is innocent.  Penn, a soft touch, ends up digging into the case and finds a number of likely suspects. Penn is also dealing with missing sea turtle chocolates at the shop plus being told to keep her nose out of the murder investigation.  Can Penn expose the killer, or will she end up swimming with the fishes like the sea turtles?
20 of the beautiful baby sea turtle..
In Cold Chocolate by Dorothy St. James is the third story in A Southern Chocolate Shop Mystery series.  In Cold Chocolate can be read as a standalone if you are new to the series.  Charity Penn owns The Chocolate Box in Camellia Beach, South Carolina where she is currently finishing up renovations to the shop.  The sea turtles will soon be hatching so Penn has created a delectable treat in their honor that is flying off the shelves.  On the night of the hatching, Cassidy Jones is killed, and it looks like antagonistic Jody Dalton is responsible.  Penn would love to avoid this investigation, but Jody’s son asks her to please help his mommy.  Despite being warned to keep her nose out of the case, Penn is soon knee deep in suspects.  I wanted to give this series another chance after not having been enthralled with Asking for Truffle.  Charity Penn is a nice character and I just love the descriptions of the chocolates that she creates for the shop (they have me pining for a chocolatey treat).  The island sounds like a lovely place to live, but there are too many mean people in this story for my liking.  There were some slow sections that could have been peppier and some areas that could have been eliminated completely (seemed like filler).  It was interesting to learn about the hatching of sea turtles.  I had no idea they were considered a delicacy (that is just terrible and disgusting).  I see why they need people to keep an eye on the hatching ground.    The mystery was uncomplicated, and the guilty party can be identified before the coroner removes the body.  I did enjoy the dog, Stella and her antics.  She was a delightful addition to In Cold Chocolate.  While In Cold Chocolate was not the right fit for me, I suggest you obtain a sample to judge for yourself.  In Cold Chocolate is a light-hearted cozy mystery with sun, sand, sweets and sea turtles. 
Loggerhead hatchlings can emerge from their nests in a variety of different colors.  I've seen plenty of black, brown, white and tan hatchlings but this particular turtle was born with a vibrant orange color that I had never seen before.  Lucky for me, the sand was soft enough for the turtle to leave its tracks as it hustled to the ocean to make the photos composition more interesting.  I was able to capture the moment just before a wave surged in and welcomed the vibrant beauty to the sea.
In Cold Chocolate can be picked up at Amazon* (Amazon UK).  The other two novels in A Southern Chocolate Shop Mystery series are Asking for Truffle and Playing with Bonbon Fire.  Thank you for stopping by today.  I will return tomorrow with my review of Spy by Danielle Steel.  This novel sweeps you back to World War II where Alex Wickham goes from debutante to secret agent.  I hope that you have an exciting day.  Take care and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader
Young nerd woman reading a book and drinking coffee - Illustration price | Minty

Saturday, November 23, 2019

The Child from the Ash Pits by Chrissie Walsh: Review, Excerpt and Giveaway!

The Child from the Ash Pits by [Walsh, Chrissie]
Welcome!  Chrissie Walsh was born and raised in West Yorkshire.  Chrissie trained to be a singer and a cellist before becoming a teacher.  When she married her trawler skipper husband, they moved to a small fishing village in Northern Ireland.  Chrissie is passionate about history.  Her passion and knowledge shine through in her writing.  The Girl from the Mill was Chrissie's debut novel.  Readers can follow Chrissie Walsh on Facebook and Twitter (@WalshChrissie).

About the Book

In the aftermath of the General Strike, times are tough for coal miners and their families. Can little Cally break free from poverty, and forge a successful life for herself?

When Cally loses her beloved mum, she hopes her father will comfort and protect her. But instead she soon acquires a cruel and vengeful stepmother, and Cally begins to fear that she is on her own.
Through uncomfortable years in service, to a terrifying brush with the streets, through hard work and determination, Cally finally finds a place for herself. She even trusts enough in the future to create her own family, despite being so cruelly abandoned by her own.

At last in a place of peace and contentment, Cally has all she ever hoped for, but with World War 2 looming, how long can she hold on to the people she loves?
Taking us from 1926 all the way to end of the Second World War, Chrissie Walsh has written a heartbreaking tale of love and survival, perfect for fans of Dilly Court and Lyn Andrews.
My Thoughts

The Child from the Ash Pits by Chrissie Walsh takes us back in time to 1926.  Cally Manfield is nine years old when her mother passes away and her life changes forever.  The Child from the Ash Pits takes us from 1926 through the end of World War II.  Despite her humble beginnings, Cally was determined to get ahead.  There were numerous obstacles put in her path.  Cally had a horrible stepmother who intensely disliked her and a father who failed to stand up for her.  She is intelligent and worked diligently on her studies.  Cally is tested throughout her whole life, but she perseveres thanks to her strength and determination.  A saying of her mother’s guides Cally.  It is “Happiness doesn’t find you; you make your own.” The beginning is incredibly heartbreaking (have a box of tissues nearby).  We get to see what it was like living in the shadow of the mines. The air, the filth, and the incredible danger.  I found The Child from the Ash Pits to be well-written and the story moved along at an even pace.  The characters were developed and suited the time period.  I thought the author captured what it was like to live during this era.  I do want to let readers know that there is violence in the story along with foul language (a sprinkling).  The Child from the Ash Pits is a story that will linger with you long after you finish it.  The Child from the Ash Pits is a heart-rending tale with coal calamities, flashy floozies, handsy humans, terrible travesties, and a sympathetic soul. 
LA IMAGEN DEL SIGLO.: 1900-1930`s. EMIL OTTO HOPPÉ. Instantáneas

In the shelter of the ash pits Cally huddled against the wall, her cheeks wet with tears, her stomach churning. She wanted her mam, but her dad had shouted at her the minute she’d arrived home from school, then he’d locked her out.

Cally knew why. He and Annie were doing things they shouldn’t; her dad hadn’t had his trousers on. It wasn’t the first time she had caught her dad, George, and her aunt, Annie, doing naughty things behind Mam’s back, and now they were at it again. A sudden wave of nausea filled her throat and she vomited.
The puddle of stinking bile was too close for comfort, so she shuffled on her bottom to the other side of the ash pit, and blinking away her tears, gazed across the wasteland that separated the ash pits from the giant slag heaps and the pithead at Calthorpe Colliery. Infuriating questions and ugly thoughts buzzed inside her head.

Had her dad stopped loving Mam? Did he love Annie now? Annie’s a hateful pig, she lets Dad stroke her titties, and she’s always giving him secret smiles with her sticky red lips when she thinks I’m not looking. Mam never wears lipstick; she says it’s common. Does Mam know he doesn’t love her any more?
Black and white photograph of 1940s housewife ironing
A gush of bile choked her throat again as she dwelt on these awful thoughts and she spat it out angrily. If the new baby would hurry up and get born, Mam wouldn’t be in bed, she’d be downstairs and her dad and Annie wouldn’t dare kiss and cuddle in front of her. And if the pits weren’t on strike again Dad wouldn’t be hanging about the house messing with Annie, Cally told herself, her eyes on the motionless pithead winding gear.
Cass R. Sunstein, It Captures Your Mind (NYRB SEPTEMBER 26, 2013). Fascinating article about economics and psychology with a great lede about how politics work to boot. Enough in here for a week's worth of discussion.
She thought back to the previous day, anger fizzing inside her chest. After school she’d been upstairs with Mam; she always rushed home to see her. When she came down to go to the lavatory, Annie was sitting on her dad’s knee. She’d jumped off when she saw Cally, and Cally had stared balefully at her.  ‘What are you staring at, you cheeky little sod?’
God seeks the dirty faces... I love Ash Wednesday!  Is that wrong? (I need to speak to my confessor about that.) ...
‘Your blouse’s unbuttoned, Aunt Annie, and your neck’s gone all red, Dad,’ Cally had replied insolently, sounding much older and wiser than her seven years. She knew as she spoke that she would pay for it later and, the accusation delivered, she had fled to hide in the ash pits.

Now, as Cally traced the bruises Annie had inflicted on her left wrist with the tip of her right forefinger, she recalled how pleased and excited Mam had been when Annie had arrived in Calthorpe several weeks ago. She’d even shed a few tears, telling Annie she had arrived just at the right moment; but that was before she found out how lazy and selfish Annie was. Mam had said Annie could stay and help out until the baby was born, but Annie wasn’t helping; she was making matters worse.
It’s because she wears pretty dresses that show off her titties and her tiny waist, and that stuff she paints on her face, and the way she flutters her eyelashes when she’s fussing over my dad, thought Cally; that’s what my dad likes about Annie. Then she thought about Mam’s puffy, grey face, her swollen hands and feet and the huge mound of her belly; were they the reason Dad didn’t love her any more?
early 1900's Burnley
Has the excerpt left you wanting more?  The Child from the Ash Pits is available at Amazon*, Kobo, Google Play, Amazon UK, and iBooksThe Girl from the Mill is Chrissie Walsh's debut novel and the ebook is currently $1.99 on Amazon.  Would you like to win a digital copy of The Child from the Ash Pits?  All you need to do is leave a comment on this post with your email address (so I can contact you if you win).  If you prefer, you can email me at with The Child from the Ash Pits in the subject line.  Make sure to include your name in the email.  This contest ends on November 30 at 11:59 p.m. EST.  Good Luck!  Thank you for looking in today.  I am sharing my review of In Cold Chocolate by Dorothy St. James tomorrow.  It is the third A Southern Chocolate Shop Mystery. On Sunday's I share books that I was unable to review when they were released.  I hope that you have a satisfactory day.  Take care and Happy Reading!


The Avid Reader

EUGENI FORCANO (1926-2018). Ha sido considerado uno de los más grandes fotógrafos de la segunda mitad del siglo XX en Cataluña. Autodidacta, intuitivo y vitalista.En 2012 recibó el  Premio Nacional de Fotografía, que otorga el Ministerio de Educación, Cultura y Deportes, aparte de otros múltiples reconocimientos. Pasión por la lectura.  Bajada de Santa Clara. Barcelona, 1962

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Friday, November 22, 2019

Christmas Cocoa Murder by Carlene O'Connor, Maddie Day & Alex Erickson

Christmas Cocoa Murder by [O'Connor, Carlene, Day, Maddie, Erickson, Alex]
Christmas Cocoa Murder by Carlene O’Connor has Siobhan O’Sullivan in Kilbane, Ireland looking forward to a quiet Christmas with her family.  Siobhan is surprised by the hot cocoa dunk tank that Paddy O’Shea dreamed up for the Christmas carnival.  Before departing for the pantomime, Siobhan looks for her dog, Trigger and cannot find him.  She hears a similar story from a little boy who is searching for his Christmas puppy.  When the dunk tank rolls out, Paddy is found floating in it.  Siobhan is quick to note some pertinent clues that will help in the search for the killer.  During the investigation, Siobhan learns Paddy had been up to some mischief that put him squarely on Santa’s naughty list.  Did Paddy’s Christmas tom foolery get him killed?
Elf on the shelf dunk tank
Christmas Cocoa and A Corpse by Maddie Day has Robbie Jordan down one staff member at Pans ‘N Pancakes during the busy holiday season.  Robbie and her boyfriend, Abe are having dinner with his parents as well as Jed and Willa Mae Greenberg.  Karinde Nilsson drops off Abe’s Christmas puppy early so Willa Mae agrees to watch him until Christmas Day so the little fellow will remain a surprise.  The next morning, Lt. Buck Bird arrives at the restaurant with a solemn face and announces that Jed Greenberg was found dead near the library.  He had been walking the puppy and slipped on a patch of ice hitting his head.  Howard, Abe’s father, is at the top of the suspect list which has Robbie searching for answers to clear his name.
Another Slippery - Photos to Elicit Use of Adjectives / Teach Descriptive Concepts - Pinned by @PediaStaff – Please Visit for all our pediatric therapy pins
Death by Cocoa by Alex Erickson has Krissy Hancock along with Rita Jablonski taking part in a Christmas themed escape room game.  Lewis Coates, the creator of the game, introduces them to the other players and then gives them instructions before departing the room.  After escaping from the first phase, the players come out to find Lewis dead on the floor.  Krissy finds herself locked in with a killer.  They all must work together to escape with the hope that the killer does not strike again.  Krissy figures it a bonus if she can wrap up the crime before she departs as well.  Which one of her fellow contestants did in the escape room creator?
Stranger Things Escape Room
Christmas Cocoa Murder by Carlene O'Connor, Maddie Day, and Alex Erickson contains three cozy novellas that are a part of the following series:  An Irish Village Mystery series, A Country Store Mystery series and A Bookstore Café Mystery series.  I thought they were three entertaining Christmas cozies.  They are all well-written and full of Christmas spirit.  The three mysteries were interesting with various levels of complexity.  The escape room mystery was my favorite, and I particularly enjoyed the description of the escape room puzzles.  I have read books from all three series, so it was not a problem for me to read each story.  I already knew the characters plus the settings.  Maddie Day has my favorite writing style.  It is like conversing with old friends.  I like how hot cocoa played a part in each story with Christmas Cocoa Murder featuring it in a unique way (a dunk tank).  We get to enjoy Christmas festivities in three different towns from two countries.  I especially appreciated that all three stories featured intelligent female protagonists who are resourceful and do not break down at the sight of a dead body.  I am glad that Kensington puts out these holiday novella collections and I hope that they continue to do so.  It is a chance to catch up with our favorite series and solve a mystery (a definite bonus in my book).  Christmas Cocoa Murder has three cocoa connected conundrums, a swarm of suspects, many missing mutts, sharp sleuths and copious Christmas cheer.
Hot cocoa bar sign, Christmas sign, winter sign, valentine sign, gift #farmhousedecor
Christmas Cocoa Murder can be obtained through Amazon* (Amazon UK).   Carlene O'Connor writes An Irish Village Mystery series with the fifth book being Murder in an Irish Cottage which releases on February 25, 2020.  Ms. O'Connor also has Murder in Galway which is the debut of A Home to Ireland Mystery series coming out on April 28, 2020.  Maddie Day writes  A Country Store Mystery series which Nacho Average Murder publishing on June 30, 2020.  She also has Murder on Cape Cod releasing on December 31 which is the debut of A Cozy Capers Book Group Mystery.  Alex Erickson writes A Bookstore Cafe Mystery series.  Thank you for reading my review today.  I am featuring A Child from the Ash Pits by Chrissie Walsh tomorrow.  There will be an excerpt from the book plus a giveaway.  I hope that you have a pleasurable day.  Take care and Happy Reading!  

The Avid Reader
"How to live in pjs and stay inside all day" a book written by me. // if you haven't updated your phone do it asap! The back heart emoji (and the avocado emoji what) are finally here!  #whywhiteworks
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