Monday, August 31, 2020

Goodnight Moo by Lynn Cahoon

Goodnight Moo (A Buttermilk Creek Mystery Book 2) by [Mollie Cox Bryan]
Book Summary

Goodnight Moo by Mollie Cox Bryan has Brynn McAllister’s Buttermilk Creek Farm sponsoring the first annual cheesemaker’s contest at the Shenandoah Springs Annual Fair.  Marigold, one of Brynn’s three cows, is expecting and Schuyler asks that Brynn foster a Highland cow whose owner has passed away.  Jewel has had a rough time and will need lots of food plus tender loving care.  Brynn receives a call from a distraught Willow stating that Josh was just involved in a tractor accident.  The man who was hit dies at the hospital and Josh is arrested.  Something seems suspicious about the whole incident to Brynn.  Wes Scors, Brynn’s assistant, is visiting a farm and finds the hired hand dead.  Sheriff Edge has Wes as his prime suspect.  Brynn knows that Wes would not harm a soul and is determined to prove his innocence.  Something fishy is going on in Shenandoah Springs and Brynn is determined to get to the bottom of it.

My Thoughts

Goodnight Moo by Mollie Cox Bryan is the 2nd tale in A Buttermilk Creek Mystery series.  It can be read as a standalone if you have not indulged in Christmas Cow Bells.  Goodnight Moo is not quite what I expected.  I was expecting a lighthearted cozy mystery and I thought this one a little more serious.  I found the book to be a little on the slow side.  We see what it takes for Brynn to run her farm day in and out.  She gets up early to take care of her cows, do farm chores, and make cheese.  Brynn is lucky to have Wes as an assistant. He is a great chef and baker who is becoming a creative cheesemaker as well.  There is a wonderful community in Shenandoah Springs, Virginia.  The residents all seem to know each other and what is going on in their lives.  Brynn McAllister has her farm sponsoring the first cheesemaker’s contest at the Shenandoah Springs Annual Fair.  As with any new endeavor, things do not run smoothly.  The mystery was more complex than those you normally find in cozy mysteries.  There are two suspicious deaths.  When Wes ends up arrested, Brynn begins asking questions.  There was a lack of active investigating.   I wanted more action and less Brynn sleeping.   While the crime is complex, the solution is quite simple. I also would like a better wrap up of the crime.  Brynn’s sister visits and helps her with the case.  Brynn has good friends that visit regularly and are there for her when she needs them.  I like the diverse cast of characters.  The feelings towards Wes were in keeping what is currently occurring in our country.  I did find Brynn’s naivete regarding local people’s attitudes surprising. There is plenty of cooking and eating in Goodnight Moo plus cheese sampling.  It is interesting learning about the various cheeses and how they are made as well as Highland cows. I was put off by the amount of foul language in the book.  I read cozy mysteries because they are normally void of these offending words.  Goodnight Moo takes us back to Shenandoah Springs with a cheese competition, a terrifying tractor, cute cows, various victims, crazy computer glitches, and fun at the fair.
Chester County Cheese Producer Wins Best of Show in 2019 Farm Show Cheese Competition
Goodnight Moo can be obtained from Amazon*.  The first novel in A Buttermilk Creek Mystery series is Christmas Cow Bells.  It is currently $.99 on Amazon (subject to change without notice) and on Kindle Unlimited.  You can find Mollie Cox Bryan's other novels here. Thank you for reading my review today.  I appreciate it.  It is hard to believe that this is the last day of August.  The month went by quickly.  Tomorrow I am featuring An Amish Singing by Amy Clipston.  Four Amish novels in one book with singing as the common thread.  I hope you have a glorious day.  Take care, be kind, and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader
Autumn in the country   -  Alexei and Sergei Tkachev  Russian b. 1922,1925Oil on canvas,   76.2 x 101.7 cm. (30 x 40 in.)

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Sunday, August 30, 2020

Kayaks, Kickbacks, and Kidnapping by Tonya Kappes

Kickbacks, Kayaks, and Kidnapping: A Camper and Criminals Cozy Mystery Series Book 12 by [Tonya Kappes]
Book Summary

Kickbacks, Kayaks, and Kidnapping by Tonya Kappes has Mae West gearing up for Paddle Fest in Normal, Kentucky.  Mae has added water activities to the list of services offered by Happy Trials Campground.  Happy Trails will host the opening ceremony with activities available at camps around the Daniel Book National Forest. There will be a kayak competition that Bryce Anderson is hoping to win and get a coveted spot on the Olympic team.  Mae is proud that Happy Trails is up for the Campground Hospitality Award.   They are distributing ballots to all arriving guests.  Mae has been asked to join the Daniel Boone National Park board.  She would be the first female member.  After the opening ceremony for Paddle Fest, Mae heads over to the board meeting.  Just as she is about to accept the position, the receptionist announces that there was a murder at Happy Trails.  Mae rushes back to the campground to learn that Bryce Anderson was found dead at the lake.  The news of his death is spreading rapidly which has people fleeing Happy Trails.  Mae and the Laundry Club gals quickly gather and start working on their suspect list.  Mae needs to solve this case before everything she has achieved for Happy Trails and the town of Normal disappears.  
We in the team building activities!Kayak race!A day of precious memories!
My Thoughts

Kickbacks, Kayaks, and Kidnapping by Tonya Kappes is the 12th A Camper & Criminals Cozy Mystery.  It can be read as a standalone as the author provides all the background information needed on Mae, the town, and the campground.  I always enjoy visiting Normal, Kentucky with its friendly residents and Southern hospitality.  Mae West turns out to be quite the entrepreneur.  She has added water activities (canoeing, white water rafting, fishing, kayaking) to the services offered at Happy Trails Campground.  Mae also dreamed up Paddle Fest to launch her latest brainchild.  She coordinated with campgrounds around the Daniel Boone National Forest so there will be water happenings throughout the event.  In addition, there is a kayak competition where the winner hopes to get a coveted spot on the United State Olympic kayak team.  Bryce Anderson is the leading competitor and he is staying at Happy Trails with his agent.  When Bryce turns up dead after the opening ceremony, Mae must work quickly to solve the case.  Mae and the ladies from the Laundry Club get out the notebook and commandeer the write on/wipe off board in the Happy Trails office.  There are a variety of suspects, misdirection, and some good clues.  I like how Mae works with her friends to gather intel and question suspects.  Dottie Swaggert is a hoot.  She is recovering from hip surgery and is cranky.  Dottie made some humorous remarks that had me chuckling.  I enjoy Tonya Kappes’ conversational writing style.  Tonya provides an amusing Southern cozy mystery with quirky characters and small town charm.  It is wonderful what Mae has created at Happy Trails.  She has given the place a cozy, family feel.  Thanks to the authors word imagery, I can envision what the campground looks like with the trailers, cabins, the fires, the trees, and the lake.  I love what Mae has done to her cozy camper home.  It makes me want a small trailer that I can turn into a she shed.  A Camper & Criminals Cozy Mystery series has friendship, family, small town charm, sweet dogs, romance, humor, and, of course, murder victims.  I look forward to Mae’s next adventure in Gear, Grills, and Guns.  Kickbacks, Kayaks, and Kidnapping is an entertaining cozy mystery with tempting trails, committee conundrum, walker woes, naughty “nekkidness”, and killer kayaks.  
Kayaks, Kickbacks, and Kidnapping is available from Amazon*.  It is on Kindle Unlimited along with the other novels in A Camper & Criminal Cozy Mystery series.  You can read the first chapter of Kayaks, Kickbacks, and Kidnapping by clicking here.  You can find Tonya Kappes' other novels here.  Tonya Kappes' next release is Gear, Grills, and Guns which will be out on October 27.  Thank you so much for stopping by today.  I will be back tomorrow with Goodnight Moo by Mollie Cox Bryan.  It is the 2nd novel in A Buttermilk Creek Mystery series.  I hope that you have a cheerful day.  Take care, be kind, and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader
27 Dreamy Campers That Will Make You Want To Drop Everything For The Open Road
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Saturday, August 29, 2020

Killer Kung Pao by Vivien Chien

Killer Kung Pao: A Noodle Shop Mystery by [Vivien Chien]
Book Summary

Killer Kung Pao by Vivien Chien has Lana Lee on Friday evening heading out to enjoy time with her boyfriend and best friend.  In the parking lot of Asia Village, Lana witnesses June Yi of Yi’s Tea and Bakery pull out of her parking spot quickly and hit Millie Mao’s new white Cadillac.  Neither woman has a pleasant disposition, and this sets them off into a shouting match until the police separate them.  The next morning, Lana is at Asian Accents to get her hair died gunmetal gray.  As soon as she sees June enter the salon, Lana knows that she is not going to have the relaxing experience she was looking forward to this day.  Then Millie enters the salon and the two once again get into a shouting match.  The two women are divided, and Lana proceeds to get her hair bleached.  A little while later, the power goes out in the salon.  When the lights come back on, Millie Mao is found dead.  Lana has no intention of getting involved in this case until Shirley Yi, June’s twin sister, pays her a call.  June Yi is, of course, the police’s prime suspect.  Shirley is convinced her sister is innocent and wants Lana to find the real culprit.  
HAIR SALON, Hu Yongkai (male, 胡永凯; b1945, Beijing)
Lana Lee getting her hair done
My Thoughts

Killer Kung Pao by Vivien Chien is the 6th A Noodle Shop Mystery.  It can be read as a standalone if you are new to the series or have skipped a book.  Lana Lee is the manager of her family’s restaurant, Ho Lee Noodle House in Asia Village in Fairview Park, Ohio.  She is also on the board of directors for the village.  Lana is twenty-eight years old, shares an apartment with her best friend, and likes to frequently change her hair color.  She is dating Detective Adam Trudeau when their schedules allow.  Lana is looking forward to spending Friday evening with her roommate and boyfriend.   Before she can leave the restaurant, Ian Sung approaches her.  He wants Lana to coordinate the upcoming sidewalk sale for Asia Village.  Then Lana witnesses a fender bender between the toxic June Yi and rude Millie Mao.  Lana’s plan for Saturday morning is getting her hair colored at Asian Accents.  Unfortunately, Millie and June happen to have appointments scheduled at the same time.  Millie ends up dead and June is at the top of the suspect list.  Despite Lana’s intentions to stay out of this investigation, she gets roped in by June’s twin sister, Shirley.  The suspect list consists of people who were at the salon that morning which leads to some uncomfortable questioning since Lana knows them.  No one likes to be suspected of murder by someone they know, or watch grow up.  There are several viable suspects, good clues, and misdirection. I like how the crime was committed.  I found this whodunit a cinch to solve.  I thought the pacing was a little slow.  I had a hard time staying engaged which is a shame because I really enjoyed the last A Noodle Shop Mystery.  I like Lana Lee and the other characters in this series as well as Asia Village and the close-knit Asian community.  I just think the series needs a little more oomph to take it from okay to wow.  I like how Lana’s roommate knows when something is upsetting Lana by how many donuts she brings home.   All of us who stress eat can relate.  There is humor sprinkled throughout the story that will have you chuckling.  The food descriptions had me craving my favorite Chinese food plus glazed munchkins.  Killer Kung Pao is a charming cozy mystery with a desperate dye job, a fender bender, a sidewalk sale, delectable donuts, fiery foes, a scolding sister, and the Mahjong Matrons.
Lana Lee sporting her new hair color
Killer Kung Pao can be obtained from Amazon* along with the other novels in A Noodle Shop Mystery series.  The next book in A Noodle Shop Mystery series is Fatal Fried Rice which publishes March 9, 2021.  Thank you for reading my review.  Tomorrow I am featuring Kayaks, Kickbacks, and Kidnapping by Tonya Kappes.  It is the 12th A Camper & Criminals Cozy Mystery. I hope that you have a blissful day.  Take care, be kind, and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader
"Three Women Reading" by Uemura Shōen (1875 - 1949)
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Friday, August 28, 2020

Southern Bred and Dead by Angie Fox

Southern Bred and Dead (Southern Ghost Hunter Mysteries Book 9) by [Angie Fox]
Book Summary

Southern Bred and Dead by Angie Fox has Verity Long dressed up and heading to a Sugarland Heritage Society fundraiser at the Three Angels of the Tabernacle Blessed Reform Church of Sugarland (that is a mouthful).  Verity is meeting up with Jorie Davis who has some mementoes of Verity’s grandmother that she wants to give her.  Verity is touched by the items Jorie has for her.  She steps back to her car for a moment to secure an item and Jorie disappears.  Verity hears a scream and sees Jorie fall from the church bell tower to her death.  The photograph Jorie had for Verity is gone.  Verity knows it was not an accident and despite Ellis’ disapproval, she sets out learn the truth.  Verity is also helping Frankie confront his brother, Lou.  Frankie wants answers (no matter how he has to get them).  Verity and Frankie are in for a busy and eventful week.
Borley Church, Essex (UK). Probably once the most haunted church in the world, Borley’s ancient stones have witnessed many spooky things – phantom footsteps, ghostly organ music, voices and unexplainable lights.
My Thoughts

Southern Bred and Dead by Angie Fox is the 9th tale in The Southern Ghost Hunter Mysteries.  It can be read as a standalone if you are new this engaging paranormal series.  Verity Long lives with her pet skunk, Lucy and her ghostly friend, Frankie “the German” Winkelmann.  One day Verity accidentally dumped Frankie’s ashes out of the urn and onto a rose bush.  That is the day she met her first ghost--Frankie and it has been a wild ride ever since.  I thought Southern Bred and Dead was well-written with developed characters and steady pacing.  Sugarland, Tennessee is a small Southern town full of quirky residents.  We get to meet Maybelle Clemens who is quite a character.  She comes from a family of ministers, so she likes to go out of her way to shock people with her behavior.  I liked all the action in this book.   Verity has her hands full in Southern Bred and Dead.  She must find out who killed Jorie Davis, who was an old friend of her grandmother’s.  Frankie wants to know why his brother, Lou killed him.  To top it all off, Ellis is not happy with Verity’s ghost hunting business and it has caused a rift in their relationship.  The mystery surrounding the death of Jorie was multifaceted.  It was interesting and fun to solve (I love figuring out the guilty party before the reveal).  I liked learning more about Frankie and his family.  We finally learn why Frankie was killed.  I found Southern Bred and Dead to be a more serious book than the others in this series.  There are humorous moments especially with Maybelle, but it lacked that laugh-out-loud humor that is normally present.  That did not hinder my reading enjoyment.  I love visiting Sugarland with its unique residents, cozy small-town feel, plethora of specters, and Southern manners.  Let us not forget the adorable Lucy.  My favorite part of the book was Verity at the speakeasy.  She gets to enjoy some jazz music, meet a new friend, and experience a felonious first courtesy of Frankie.  Southern Bred and Dead is a delight with menacing mobsters, frightening phantoms, a deadly dagger, a bothered beau, a pious pastor, and a sweet skunk.
Bell Tower - NoRemorse Cemetery  yard haunt - Jim McCrary
Southern Bred and Dead is available from Amazon* as well as Kobo, Barnes & Noble, Google Play, and iBooks.  You can find the other novels in  The Southern Ghost Hunter Mysteries hereSouthern Spirits is the first book and the digital version is currently free on Amazon.  The next novel in The Southern Ghost Hunter Mysteries is The Haunted Homecoming which will be out on August 17, 2021 (yes, we must wait a year!).  You can find Angie Fox's other novels here.  Thank you for stopping by today.  Tomorrow I am discussing Killer Kung Pao by Vivien Chien.  It is the 6th A Noodle Shop Mystery.  I hope that you have a whimsical day.  Take care, be kind, and Happy Reading!  

The Avid Reader
Sally O’Neil in The Brat 1931
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Thursday, August 27, 2020

A Reunion at Mulberry Lane by Rosie Clarke

A Reunion at Mulberry Lane: The brand NEW festive instalment in the bestselling Mulberry Lane series for 2020 (The Mulberry Lane Series Book 6) by [Rosie Clarke]
Book Summary

A Reunion at Mulberry Lane by Rosie Clarke has Peggy Ronoscki and her husband, Able busy with their seaside café in November of 1949.  With everything except sugar no longer rationed, they can offer delicious meals to their customers.  Their daughter, Fay turns out to be whiz at figure skating, but she needs to be in London if she is to train properly.  Peggy does miss her friends and family who are back on Mulberry Lane.  Janet, Peggy’s daughter, is struggling after her miscarriage.  She will not share her feelings with her husband nor her mother.  Janet is pushing her husband away and it could cause irreparable harm to her marriage.  Sheila Ashley, Peggy’s daughter-in-law, would love another child.  After the difficulty she experienced having her son, the doctor’s advised Sheila to not have another child.  She makes a decision that could cost Sheila her life.  Rose Barton knows how lucky she is to have Tom, but a part of her is not content.  A man at the marketplace flirts with Rose which causes her to blush.  She gives him no encouragement, but one day he decides to go a step further.  Tom loves Rose and is not about to let anyone touch his wife. Maureen Hart is busy with the café she co-owns with Sheila.  Her stepdaughter, Shirley is almost done with her exams and will be heading to medical school soon.  Maureen misses Peggy and would love for her family to come up to London for Christmas.  They are hoping to convince the Ronoscki family to return to Mulberry Lane.
Two barmaids at a pub in London, 1949
My Thoughts

A Reunion at Mulberry Lane by Rosie Clarke is the 6th tale in The Mulberry Lane Series.  I believe it is best if this series is read in order.  Each book builds upon the previous one.  There is a great cast of characters in this series.  Peggy is the matriarch who brought them all together.  She has been through so much and deserves the happiness she has with Able.  Changes may be in store for Peggy as Fay discovers she is a natural at ice skating.  I enjoyed catching up with Peggy, Able, Maureen, Sheila, Pip, Rose, and Tom.  Each family experiences the good and the bad that life has to offer.  I thought A Reunion at Mulberry Lane was well-written and it moves along at a steady pace.  I like the authors descriptions because I feel that I am experiencing things with the characters.  I could imagine walking around the market picking out bits and pieces for Christmas or pulling a pint at the pub.  There is an abundance of food in this tale.  They are eating well now that the war is over and more items are available to them.  These ladies are wonderful cooks and bakers.  I can see why the pub and the two cafes are crowded.  Mulberry Lane is such a cozy place where people look out for each other.  The people are there to help pick up the kiddies from school, take food to someone in need, or help out in the pub.  There are changes being made in the East End, but it has yet to affect those who live and work on Mulberry Lane.  I enjoyed reading A Reunion at Mulberry Lane as I do all of Rosie Clarke’s books.  It was lovely spending Christmas on Mulberry Lane with this group.  A Reunion at Mulberry Lane is a saga with family, friendship, drama, romance, hardship, heartbreak, grief, and fun.  This is what I call a comfort read. I would love PBS to make this into a television series.  A Reunion at Mulberry Lane is a charming historical novel with countless cakes, a spoiled skater, a melancholy mother, unpredicted prospect, matrimonial misfortunes, and a cheery Christmas.  
Children playing on Chisenhale Road, Bow, in 1951, one of the images released  in the recently released book Nigel Henderson's Streets: Photographs of London's East End 1949-1953
A Reunion at Mulberry Lane is available from Amazon*.  You can find the other novels in The Mulberry Lane series here.  It began with The Girls of Mulberry Lane.  All the books except New Arrivals at Mulberry Lane are available on Kindle Unlimited.  Rosie Clarke also writes Welcome to Harpers Emporium series.  The next book in this series is Harpers Heroes which releases November 19.  Check out Rosie Clarke's other historical novels here.  Thank you for stopping by today.  I will return tomorrow with Southern Bred and Dead by Angie Fox.  It is the 9th tale in The Southern Ghost Hunter Mysteries.  I hope that you have a jolly good day.  Take care, be kind, and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader
A Mothers Prayer
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Wednesday, August 26, 2020

Thread and Dead by Elizabeth Penney

Thread and Dead: The Apron Shop Series
Book Summary

Thread and Dead by Elizabeth Penney has Iris Buckley along with her grandmother, Anne preparing for the upcoming Lobster Festival in Blueberry Cove, Maine.  Iris is also working on updating their window display at Ruffles and Bows.  Iris is thrilled when she gets a call from Eleanor Brady who has some vintage linens and aprons to sell.  Iris arrives at Shorehaven, Eleanor’s home, and runs into Dr. Lukas de Wilde.  Lukas, along with his colleagues, are paying guests of Eleanor’s for the summer while they work with on the Farming the Sea project with College of Isles.  Eleanor has beautiful bed linens for Iris plus a trunk full of vintage aprons.  There is also a trunk of vintage Chanel clothes in pristine condition that belonged to Eleanor’s mother.  Iris agrees to help facilitate a sale of the clothing for Eleanor as well as learn more about her mother’s history.  The next morning, Iris is reluctantly rock climbing with her boyfriend, Ian and her best friend, Madison.  She stops at a ledge to rest and finds Hailey Piper, Lukas de Wilde’s teaching assistant, dead.  When it appears that the killer has set up Lukas to take the fall, Iris begins digging into the case.  Someone is unhappy with Iris’ curious nature and attempts to derail her investigation.  Will Iris stay alive long enough to judge the first Annual Lobster Festival Bib & Apron Contest?
Cute way to hang clothes - booth ideas
My Thoughts

Thread and Dead by Elizabeth Penney is the 2nd book in The Apron Shop Series.  It can be read as a standalone for those who have not indulged in Hems and Homicide.  I thought this cozy mystery was well-written with developed characters.  I enjoyed the author’s descriptions of Blueberry Cove, Maine.  She brought the city alive with her vivid word imagery of the shops, people, the boats, the cliffs, and the ocean.  I like the cast of strong female characters in this series.  Iris Buckley is a friendly and intelligent woman who loves vintage items.  Iris co-owns Ruffles and Bows with her grandmother, Anne Buckley.  They also share a farmhouse nearby.  I like the close relationship Iris and her Grammie share.  Iris has close female friends in Sophie, Madison, and Bella.  It is great how they are there for each other and have women’s nights that include Grammie.  Eleanor Brady was a delightful addition.  She is a lively woman for her age with a mischievous sparkle in her eye.  Her nephew, Craig is a bully who thinks only of himself.  I am glad that Eleanor has good friends to watch out for her.  The death of Hailey Piper has multiple suspects.  It could be a local or someone with the Farming the Sea project.  There are good clues to aid the reader in solving this multifarious mystery.  The second mystery involves Eleanor’s mother, Claudia de Witte.  Eleanor’s mother worked as a nursemaid, but she had designer clothing.  Both mysteries were entertaining.  I did feel that the first half of the book was a little slow.  There seemed to be more eating and chatting than sleuthing.  That soon changed as the action ramped up.  The Apron Shop Series is character driven.  The great characters are what draw the reader in.  I just love the descriptions of the vintage bed linens, aprons, and clothes.  I collect vintage aprons, so I was drooling over the trunk of aprons Iris scored for Ruffles and Bows. I cannot wait to read Bodies and Bows in the spring.  Thread and Dead is a charming cozy mystery with antique aprons, comfort cuisine, a mysterious mother, sprouting seaweed, classic couture clothes, and Lobster Festival fun.
I need to track down this fabulous outfit I saw at the Lobster Festival Parade earlier this month. To see this amazing festival and the parade that goes with it, come stay at our family-friendly in-town Rockland, Maine vacation rental! Click through to follow us on Instagram and book directly. #lobster #maine #familytravel #vacationrental #newengland
Thread and Dead can be obtained from Amazon*.  The first book in An Apron Shop Series is Hems and HomicideBodies and Bows will be the third installment in this series and it publishes March 30, 2021.  Visit Elizabeth Penney's website to learn more about her and see what other books she has written.  Elizabeth has written cozy mysteries for Guideposts and Annie's Attic (they are delightful).  Thank you for visiting me today.  I hope I have helped you to find a new book to read and enjoy.  I am sharing my thoughts on A Reunion at Mulberry Lane by Rosie Clarke tomorrow.  It is 6th book in The Mulberry Lane series.  May you have a lively day.  Take care, be kind, and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader

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Tuesday, August 25, 2020

Dead End Detective by Amanda Flower

Dead-End Detective: A Piper and Porter Mystery from Hallmark Publishing by [Amanda Flower]
Book Summary

Dead-End Detective by Amanda Flower has Darby Piper shocked when she is wakened during the night to be told that her business partner, mentor, and friend, Samantha Porter is dead.  Darby does not like it that they were at odds with each other and now the situation cannot be rectified.  Then she learns that Samantha was deliberately run off the road and the evidence is pointing to Darby as the guilty party.  Darby and Samantha were partners in the Two Girls Detective Agency.  Darby is surprised to learn that Samantha did not leave her shares of the business to her as they had agreed.  Samantha changed her will leaving her sixty percent to her wandering nephew, Tate Porter.  Tate has returned to town and wants to join Darby in her investigation into Samantha’s death.  Darby does not know if she can trust Tate, but he will not take no for an answer.  Can this detective duo unravel the clues to discover who did away with Samantha?
My Thoughts

Dead-End Detective by Amanda Flower is the debut of A Piper and Porter Mystery series.  We are transported to Herrington, New York on Seneca Lake where Samantha Porter and Darby Piper run Two Girls Detective Agency.  Darby is upset because Samantha is talking about selling the business and a taking a job as head of security at Lake Waters Retreat.  Samantha is then murdered, and someone has set up Darby to take the fall.  Darby reluctantly teams up with Samantha’s nephew, Tate Porter to find the killer.  I thought Dead-End Detective was well-written with interesting characters and a beautiful setting.  I like that the author took the time to establish the setting and the main characters.  Tate is still a bit of an enigma, but I am sure we will get to know him better in each subsequent book.  He is a charmer and I like how kept popping up when Darby attempted to investigate on her own.  I liked Darby’s mother who is the town librarian.  The whodunit had several suspects, misdirection, and subtle clues.  Someone worked hard to frame Darby.  I like how it all came together, though, I did feel that Darby stumbled upon the solution.  I would have preferred for Darby to solve the case since she is supposed to be such a good detective.  I like how she questioned her various suspects and solved her open cases.  There is humor in the story that mostly comes from the elderly Mrs. Berger and her spoiled cat, Romy.  There is romance potential for Darby.  There is her ex-boyfriend (who does not deserve her) and Tate.  I loved the name of Darby’s cat, Gumshoe.  There is a secondary storyline involving Matt Billows who owns Lake Waters Retreat.  He is trying to buy Mrs. Berger’s land which she does not want to sell.  Dead-End Detective is a good start to this new series, and I look forward to reading the next installment in A Piper and Porter Mystery series.  Dead-End Detective is a charming cozy mystery with one dead detective, an itinerant nephew, a climbing cat, a tenacious nonagenarian, and a set-up sleuth.  
Romy went up the tree again
Dead-End Detective is available from Amazon*.  You can find other mysteries by Hallmark Publishing here.  Amanda Flower has Candy Cane Crime coming out on October 27.  It is An Amish Candy Shop Mystery novella (Book 5.5).  Lemon Drop  Dead will be the 6th An Amish Candy Shop Mystery and it releases on April 27, 2021.  Thank you for reading my review today.  Next time I am featuring Thread and Dead by Elizabeth Penney.  It is the 2nd book in The Apron Shop Series.  I hope that you have a restful day.  Take care, be kind, and Happy Reading!


The Avid Reader
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Monday, August 24, 2020

Cat Me If You Can by Miranda James

Cat Me If You Can (Cat in the Stacks Mystery #13)
Book Summary

Cat Me If You Can by Miranda James has Charlie Harris, Helen Louise Brady, and Diesel in Asheville, North Carolina.  They are spending a week at a boutique hotel with the rest of the members of the mystery reader’s club from Athena, Mississippi.  Miss An’gel and Miss Dickce Ducote organized the event so the members could get a chance to know each other better and discuss their favorite mystery authors.  Charlie and Helen Louise are looking forward to a tranquil week with an opportunity to see the sites of Asheville including the Biltmore Estate.  They enter their suite at the hotel to find a maid supine on the couch.  It turns out that woman has narcolepsy and fell asleep (whew).  The group is having their first discussion when Denis Kilbride enters and causes a scene.  Denis is an uninvited guest who followed Ellie Arnold to Asheville.  The next day Denis is found dead in their meeting room and everyone in the group is on the investigating detective’s suspect list.  Charlie, with help from the Ducote sisters, Helen Louise, and Diesel, begins searching for links between the members and the victim.  Their pursuit of the killer, though, can lead to unexpected consequences. 
My Thoughts

Cat Me If You Can by Miranda James is the 13th A Cat in the Stacks Mystery.  It can be read as a standalone for those new to this feline cozy mystery series.  I thought Cat Me If You Can was well-written with developed characters.  Charlie Harris and Diesel are back.  They are heading out of town with Helen Louise Brady, Charlie’s fiancé, for Asheville, North Carolina.  A chance for their mystery’s reader club from the Athena Public Library to get to know each other and talk about their favorite mystery authors.  The group also gets a private tour of the Biltmore Estate and a chance to visit other sites in Asheville.  Their plans are soon derailed when an uninvited guest is murdered.  Charlie along with Miss An’gel do a little investigating on their own.  Of course, Diesel gets in on the action.  They learn some surprising information and uncover a clue or two.  Then comes the reveal reminiscent of Mrs. Fletcher.  There are multiple suspects, good clues, and misdirection.  I enjoyed solving this whodunit.  It was a nice change of pace for the story to take place outside Athena.  It gives Charlie and Helen Louise some alone time which they rarely get back home.  I enjoyed the groups discussion on the Golden Age of mysteries.  I wrote down several authors that I am looking forward to exploring.  Diesel was his usual adorable self with his cute little trills and chirps.  Miranda James has created a great cast of characters for this series.  They are likeable and relatable.  There were some discussions along with attitudes about a sensitive subject that were realistic (I could imagine similar thoughts and actions happening around the world).  I enjoyed the humor scattered throughout the book.  Cat Me If You Can was an entertaining cozy mystery and I cannot wait to read What the Cat Dragged In next spring.  Cat Me If You Can is a charming tale with the beautiful Biltmore, a Golden Age gumshoe expose, mystery meetings, a sleepy servant, a painful pin, and the darling Diesel.
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Cat Me If You Can releases Tuesday, August 25 and is available from Amazon*.  You can find the other books in A Cat in the Stacks Mystery series here.  The series began with Murder Past Due.  The next A Cat in the Stacks Mystery is What the Cat Dragged In which publishes April 6, 2021.  You can find Miranda James' other novels by clicking here.  Thank you for joining me today.  Tomorrow I am featuring Dead End Detective by Amanda Flower.  It is the debut of A Piper and Porter Mystery series. I hope that you have a merry day.  Take care, be kind, and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader

*This post contains affiliate links.

Sunday, August 23, 2020

Howloween Murder by Laurien Berenson

Howloween Murder (A Melanie Travis Mystery) by [Laurien Berenson]
Book Summary

Howloween Murder by Laurien Berenson has Melanie Travis helping plan the Howard Academy annual Halloween party with the school’s newest teacher, Cheryl.  Everyone is looking forward to Harriet Boom’s delicious marshmallow puffs.  Melanie is walking by the front office and notices Harriet looking upset.  Harriet had just received a call from her sister, Bernadette about two police officers at the house.  It seems that their neighbor, Ralph Pender died from cyanide poisoning after eating one of Harriet’s treats.  Harriet asks that Melanie to help prove her innocence and, in exchange, she will take over her share of organizing the Halloween party.  With a little prodding from Aunt Peg, Melanie agrees.  Collecting the puffs back from the neighbors will give her the perfect opportunity to ask questions.  It is just such a shame that all those tasty morsels will go to waste.  Can Melanie prove Harriet’s innocence, or will it be ding dong for our plucky sleuth?
Happy Hippy DIY Costume
My Thoughts

Howloween Murder by Laurien Berenson is A Melanie Travis Mystery novella.  This was a fun tale to read.  Melanie Travis and Halloween equals a delightful murder mystery.  Melanie Travis is looking forward to Howard Academy’s annual Halloween party where everyone devours Harriet Bloom’s marshmallow puffs.  Unfortunately, there will be no sugary treats this year after one of Harriet’s neighbors dies after eating one of the fluffy delights.  It seems that someone added a little cyanide to that batch which puts Harriet at the top of the police departments suspect list.  Melanie gets an appeal for help from Aunt Peg and Harriet.  Melanie ends up visiting each of Harriet’s neighbors to ask questions while retrieving the pans of marshmallow puffs.  Howloween Murder can be read on its own for those new to the series (I highly recommend reading all the books).  I thought Howloween Murder was well-written with developed characters and a heaping helping of humor.  Melanie’s youngest son, Kevin is quite a charmer and enough energy for five kids.  He has yet to settle on a Halloween costume which means there will be rushing around at the last minute unless decisive action is taken.  Melanie meets Harriet’s neighbors and gets a variety of responses.  I enjoyed following the mystery.  I had my list of suspects and collected the clues which allowed me to make a guess at the guilty party’s identity.  I then waited to see if I was right or way off base.  I had a howling good time reading Howloween Murder.  There is a recipe for Harriet Bloom’s marshmallow puffs (minus the cyanide).  Howloween Murder is a ghostly good time with a costume conundrum, poisoned puffs, nosey neighbors, a poodle problem, and Halloween hijinks.  
Marshmallow Puffs
Marshmallow Puffs
Howloween Murder releases  August 25 and is available from Amazon* along with the other A Melanie Travis Mysteries.  This is such a delightful cozy mystery series.  I look forward to reading each new book.  I hope everyone got the "ding dong" reference (if not, click here). Thank you for dropping by today.  Next time I am featuring Cat Me If You Can by Miranda James.  It is the 13th A Cat in the Stacks Mystery.  I hope that you have a ghoulish day (never too early to start planning your Halloween decorations).  Take care, be kind, and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader
*This post contains affiliate links.

Saturday, August 22, 2020

Penned In by Lynn Cahoon

Penned In (A Farm-to-Fork Mystery) by [Lynn Cahoon]
Book Summary

Penned In by Lynn Cahoon has Angie Turner and the gang from the County Seat heading off for a team building exercise at a historic penitentiary.  After a tour of the facility and learning the local history, they will be locked in for the night.  Shortly after being assigned their cells, Angie finds one of the four guards dead.  One of the people locked in with them is the killer.  Can Angie and the chefs identify the bad guy, or will they end up the next spirits haunting the facility?
A Night Inside The Most Haunted Penitentiary On The East Coast Isn't For The Faint Of Heart
My Thoughts

Penned In is A Farm-to-Fork Mystery novella.  I do not recommend reading it on its own if you are unfamiliar with the series (come back and read it after you finish the others).  I enjoyed reading Penned In.  It was a delightful Halloween mini cozy mystery.  All our favorite characters are back including the large and lovable, Dom as well as Precious, the Houdini goat.  Each quarter the chefs from the County Seat do a team building exercise.  It was Matt’s turn to pick the venue and he chose an old, supposedly haunted penitentiary.  They are not allowed to bring in cell phones or other niceties (like food).  I cannot imagine being locked in with a killer. This was a unique take on a locked room mystery.   Penned In is a fun story to read with a delightful whodunit. There is a recipe for Chocolate chip muffins included.  Penned In has a party penned in at the penitentiary, the darling Dom, a gone guard, and haunted happenings.  
Penned In is available from Amazon*.  It is available through Kindle Unlimited.  The other novels in A Farm-to-Fork Mystery series are Who Moved My Goat Cheese?, Killer Green Tomatoes, One Potato Two Potato Dead, and Deep Fried Revenge.  The next novel in A Farm-to-Fork Mystery series is Killer Comfort Food which publishes on January 5, 2021.  Thank you for reading my review today.  Next time I am featuring Howloween Murder by Laurien Berenson.  It is A Melanie Travis Mystery (a novella for Halloween).  I hope that you have a spirited day.  Take care, be kind, and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader
*This post contains affiliate links.

Friday, August 21, 2020

When I Was You by Amber Garza: Review & Excerpt

When I Was You by Amber Garza
About the Book

YOU meets FATAL ATTRACTION in this up-all-night psychological thriller about a lonely empty-nester's growing obsession with a young mother who shares her name.

It all begins on an ordinary fall morning, when Kelly Medina gets a call from her son's pediatrician to confirm her upcoming "well-baby" appointment. It's a cruel mistake; her son left for college a year ago, and Kelly has never felt so alone. The receptionist quickly apologizes: there's another mother in town named Kelly Medina, and she must have gotten their numbers switched.

But Kelly can't stop thinking about the woman who shares her name. Lives in her same town. Has a son she can still hold, and her whole life ahead of her. She can't help looking for her: at the grocery store, at the gym, on social media. When Kelly just happens to bump into the single mother outside that pediatrician's office, it's simple curiosity getting the better of her.

Their unlikely friendship brings Kelly a renewed sense of purpose, taking care of this young woman and her adorable baby boy. But that friendship quickly turns to obsession, and when one Kelly disappears, well, the other one may know why.

About the Author
Amber Garza has had a passion for the written word since she was a child making books out of notebook paper and staples. Her hobbies include reading and singing. Coffee and wine are her drinks of choice (not necessarily in that order). She writes while blaring music, and talks about her characters like they're real people. She lives with her husband and two kids in Folsom, California, which is—no joke—home to another Amber Garza.

Author Links

TWITTER: @ambermg1

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Q & A with Amber Garza

Please give the elevator pitch for When I Was You.
Two women in the same town with the same name. One goes missing and the other may know why.

What's the "story behind the story" with When I Was You?
There’s another Amber Garza who lives in my town. I’ve known about her for over ten years. We used to go to the same gym for a time, and I only know this because I would have to give my birthdate when I checked in, so they could differentiate between the two of us. We also went to the same doctor at one point. People who have met her say we look similar and both have friendly, bubbly personalities. We’ve never met, but I’ve often wondered about her.
Also, I live in suburbia, and there’s so much comparison going on here. It’s that whole “keep up with the Joneses” thing, you know? And as much as I try to stay away from it, it’s so easy to get caught in that trap. After finding out about the other Amber Garza, I thought about combining these two ideas. What if two women with the same name met and wanted each other’s lives? And from that question, this novel was born.
Two women in matching hats and Christian Dior coats
Which came first: the characters or plot line?
The plot line.

Why do you love Kelly and why should readers root for her?
Kelly is a mom who loves her son fiercely and would do anything for him. She may do some crazy things in this story, but deep down I believe she has good intentions. It comes from a place of deep love and loyalty.
What is one thing about publishing you wish someone would have told you?
To be patient. I feel like I always want things to move faster than they are in this industry. It’s definitely been teaching me patience. But, honestly, I feel so blessed and grateful. And I do get why things take so long to happen. There’s a lot of work that goes into releasing a book successfully. So, even though I spend a lot of time refreshing email, I know it’s all worth it.
I Had My Patience Tested. I'm Negative. Wood Sign
Do you have any specific writing rituals?
No, not really. I often write with music playing in the background, but I can just as easily write without it. I’m actually a person who needs a lot of variety. I get bored frequently. So, I write in different rooms of the house, including outside. I go to coffee shops when I can. I mostly work on my macbook, but sometimes I’ll switch to my desktop. I have an office, but I rarely write there.
 Anne Sexton.  Her re-working of Grimm's   fairy tales is brilliant.  I recommend it.
Which character in this novel is most like you and why?
Kelly (1) for sure. Not in her craziness, I hope. Ha! But we are similar in a lot of practical ways. When I wrote this novel, my husband was working in the Bay Area and my son was nineteen. I, myself, was wrestling with some loneliness, and felt challenged by the changes in the relationship with my son. I was essentially discovering who I was outside of being a wife and mom, so much of that is explored in Kelly (1)’s character.

What can you tell us about your next project?
The working title is WHERE I LEFT HER. It’s the story of Whitney and her fifteen-year-old daughter Amelia. One evening, Whitney drops Amelia off at a friend’s house for a sleepover. From the car, she watches Amelia walk up to the front door, sees the friend let her in. The next day Whitney returns to the house to pick her daughter up but is greeted by an elderly woman who has no idea what she’s talking about.
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My Thoughts

When I was You by Amber Garza is an intriguing thriller.  It has a twisty plot that keeps you guessing.  There are two Kelly Medina’s but there is about a twenty-year age difference.  The older Kelly has a son who is enjoying college while the younger Kelly’s son is just a baby.  The older Kelly is having a hard time adjusting to an empty nest especially with her husband in the Bay Area during the week.  There are odd connections, secrets, and danger.  I did have trouble getting into the story.  The narrator’s voice was inconsistent, and I was never able to relate to the characters. I believe When I was You is one of those books that some will love and others not so much.   I enjoyed the suspense as the plot strengthened and it has a remarkable ending.  Those readers who enjoy a tangled psychological thriller will enjoy reading When I Was You.  

It was a Monday morning in early October when I first heard about you. I was getting out of the shower when my phone rang. After throwing on a robe and cinching it, I ran into my bedroom, snatching my cell off the nightstand.  Unknown number.
Business woman looking on smart phone in a cafe, Close up of female hands holding cell telephone with screen stock photos
Normally, I let those go. But I’d already run all the way in here, and I thought maybe it was a call from Dr. Hillerman’s office.  “Hello?” I answered, breathless. Goosebumps rose on my pale flesh, so I pulled the robe tighter around me. My sopping wet hair dripped down my back.  “Is this Kelly Medina?”

Great. A salesperson. “Yes,” I answered, wishing I hadn’t picked up.  “Hi, Kelly, this is Nancy from Dr. Cramer’s office. I’m calling to remind you of your well-baby appointment this Friday at ten am.”

“Well-baby?” I let out a surprised laugh. “You’re about nineteen years too late.”  “Excuse me?” Nancy asked, clearly confused.   “My son isn’t a baby,” I explained. “He’s nineteen.”  “Oh, I’m so sorry,” Nancy immediately replied. I could hear the clicking of a keyboard.  “I apologize. I called the wrong Kelly Medina.”
Surprised Woman Talking on the Phone Emotions #Woman, #Surprised, #Talking, #Emotions
“There’s another Kelly Medina in Folsom?” My maiden name had been Smith. There are a million other Kelly Smiths in the world. In California, even. But since I’d married Rafael, I’d never met another Kelly Medina. Until now.  Until you.

“Yes. Her child is a new patient.”  It felt like yesterday when my child was a new patient. I remembered sitting in the waiting room of Dr. Cramer’s office, holding my tiny newborn, waiting for the nurse to call my name.
nurse reception Desk talking phone stock photo (c) studiostoks (#5972542) | Stockfresh
 “I have no idea how this happened. It’s like your numbers got switched in the system or something,” Nancy muttered, and I wasn’t sure if she was talking to me or herself. “Again, I’m so sorry.”

I assured her it was fine, and hung up. My hair was still wet from the shower, but instead of blow-drying it I headed downstairs to make some tea first. On my way, I passed Aaron’s room. The door was closed, so I pressed it open with my palm. The wood was cold against my skin. Shivering, I took in his neatly made bed, the movie posters tacked to the wall, the darkened desktop computer in the corner.
Leaning against the doorframe of Aaron’s room, my mind flew back to the day he left for college. I remembered his broad smile, his sparkling eyes. He’d been so anxious to leave here. To leave me. I should’ve been happy for him. He was doing what I’d raised him to do.

Boys were supposed to grow up and leave.  In my head I knew that. But in my heart it was hard to let him go.  After closing Aaron’s door, I headed down to the kitchen.  The house was silent. It used to be filled with noise – Aaron’s little feet stomping down the hallway, his sound effects as he played with toys, his chattering as he got older. Now it was always quiet. Especially during the week when Rafael stayed in the Bay Area for work. Aaron had been gone over a year. You’d think I’d be used to it by now. But, actually, it seemed to get worse over time. The constant silence.
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The phone call had thrown me. For a second it felt like I’d gone back in time, something I longed for most days. When Aaron was born everyone told me to savor all the moments because it went by too quickly. It was hard for me to imagine. I hadn’t had the easiest life growing up, and it certainly hadn’t flown by. And the nine months I was pregnant with Aaron had gone on forever, every day longer than the one before.

But they were right.  Aaron’s childhood was fleeting. The moments were elusive like a butterfly, practically impossible to catch. And now it was gone. He was a man. And I was alone.
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Rafael kept encouraging me to find a job to fill my time, but I’d already tried that. When Aaron first left, I applied for a bunch of jobs. Since I’d been out of work for so long, no one wanted to hire me. That’s when Christine suggested I volunteer somewhere. So I started helping out at a local food bank, handing out food once a week and occasionally doing a little administrative stuff. I enjoyed it, but it wasn’t enough. It barely filled any of my time. Besides, I was one of many volunteers. I wasn’t needed. Not the way Aaron had needed me when he was a child.

When he left, the Kelly I’d always known ceased to exist. Vanished into thin air. I was merely a ghost now, haunting my house, the streets, the town. 
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As the water boiled, I thought about you. Thought about how lucky you were to have a baby and your whole life ahead of you. I wondered what you were doing right now. Not sitting alone in your big, silent house, I bet. No, you were probably chasing your cute little baby around your sunny living room, the floor littered with toys, as he crawled on all fours and laughed.

Was your child a boy? The lady on the phone didn’t say, but that’s what I pictured. A chubby, smiling little boy like my Aaron.
the fleece star footie
The kettle squealed, and I flinched. I poured the boiling water in a mug and steam rose from it, circling the air in front of my face. Tossing in the tea bag, I breathed it in, leaning my back against the cool tile counter. The picture window in front of me revealed our perfectly manicured front yard – bright green grass lined with rose bushes. I’d always been particular about the roses. When Aaron was a kid he always wanted to help with the pruning, but I never let him. Afraid he’d mess them up, I guess. Seemed silly now.
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Heart pinching, I blew out a breath.  I wondered about your yard. What did it look like? Did you have roses? I wondered if you’d let your son help you prune them. I wondered if you’d make the same mistakes I had.

Bringing the mug to my lips, I took a tiny sip of the hot tea. It was mint, my favorite. I allowed the flavors to sit on my tongue a minute before swallowing it down. The refrigerator hummed. The ice shifted in the ice maker. My shoulders tensed slightly. I rolled them out, taking another sip.
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Shoving off the counter, I was headed toward the stairs when my cell buzzed inside my pocket. My pulse spiked. It couldn’t be Rafael. He was a professor and his first class had already started.

Aaron?  Nope. It was a text from Christine.  Going to yoga this morning?
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I’d already showered. I was about to tackle my latest organization project. Today was the kitchen pantry. Last week I’d bought a bunch of new containers and bins. Friday I’d spent the day labeling all of them. After taking the weekend off since Rafael was home, I was anxious to continue with it. I’d already organized several closets downstairs, but my plan was to work my way through all the closets and cabinets in the house.

Usually I loved yoga, but I had way too much to do today.   No, I typed. Then bit my lip.   Backspaced. Stared at the phone. My own reflection emerged on the slick screen - disheveled hair, pale face, dark circles under the eyes.
Sipping on your ice cold smoothie while pairing your phone with the summery Huex Pastels. Summer is here! ☀️  #summer #sunshine #summer2020 #applefan #techgadgets
You need to get out more. Exercise. It’s not healthy to sit in the house all day. Rafael’s voice echoed in my head.  The organizing would still be here tomorrow. Besides, who was I kidding? I’d probably only spend a couple of hours organizing before abandoning my project to read online blogs and articles, or dive into the latest murder mystery I was reading.  I typed, yes, then sent it and hurried to my room to get ready.

Thirty minutes later, I was parking in front of the gym. When I stepped out, a cool breeze whisked over my arms. After three scorching hot summer months, I welcomed it. Fall had always been my favorite season. I relished the festiveness of it. Pumpkins, apples, rustic colors. But mostly it was the leaves falling and being raked away. The bareness of the trees. The shedding of the old to make room for the new. An end, but also a beginning.
Although, we weren’t quite there yet. The leaves were still green, and by afternoon the air would be warm. But in the mornings and evenings we got a tiny sip of a fall, enough to make me thirsty for more.

Securing the gym bag on my shoulder, I walked briskly through the lot. Once inside, it was even colder. The AC blasted as if it was a hundred-degree day. That’s okay. It gave me more of an incentive to break a sweat. Smiling at the receptionist, I pulled out my keys for her to scan my card. Only my card wasn’t hanging from my key ring.
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I fished around in my bag, but it wasn’t there either. Flushing, I offered the bored receptionist an apologetic smile. “I seem to have misplaced my tag. Can you look me up? Kelly Medina?’  Her eyes widened. “Funny. There was another lady in here earlier today with the same name.”

My heart pounded. I’d been attending this gym for years and never had anyone mentioned you before. I wondered how long you’d worked out here. “Is she still here?” My gaze scoured the lobby as if I might recognize you.
“No. She was here super early.”  Of course you were. I used to be, too, when Aaron was an infant.  “Okay. You’re all checked in, Kelly,” the receptionist said, buzzing me in. 

Clutching my gym bag, I made my way up the stairs toward the yoga room, thoughts of you flooding my mind. A few young women walked next to me, wearing tight tank tops and pants, gym bags hanging off their shoulders. They were laughing and chatting loudly, their long ponytails bouncing behind their heads. I tried to say excuse me, to move past them, but they couldn’t hear me. Impatient, I bit my lip and walked slowly behind them. Finally, I made it to the top. They headed toward the cardio machines, and I pressed open the door to the yoga room.
I spotted Christine already sitting on her mat. Her blond hair was pulled back into a perfectly coifed ponytail. Her eyes were bright and her lips were shiny. I smoothed down my unruly brown hair and licked my dry lips.  She waved me over with a large smile. “You made it.”  “Yep.” I dropped my mat and bag next to hers.

“I wasn’t sure. It’s been awhile.”  Shrugging, I sat down on my mat. “Been busy.”  “Oh, I totally get that.” She waved away my words with a flick of her slender wrist. “Maddie and Mason have had a bazillion activities lately. I’ve been running around town like a crazy person. I honestly feel like I’m going insane.”
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“Sounds rough,” I muttered, slipping off my flip-flops. This was the problem with getting married and having a kid so young. Most of my friends were still raising families.  “I know, right? I can’t wait until they’re adults and I can do whatever I want.”  “Yeah, it’s the best,” I said sarcastically.

Her mouth dropped. “Oh, I’m sorry. I wasn’t talking about you…” Her pale cheeks turned pink. “I know how much you miss Aaron. It’s just…”  I shook my head and offered her a smile “Relax. I get it.”

Christine and I met years ago in a yoga class. She’s one of those women with almost no self-awareness. It’s what first drew to me to her. I loved how raw and real she was. Other people shied away from her, unable to handle her filter-less statements. But I found her refreshing and, honestly, pretty entertaining.
Group of women stretching before yoga class in studio
 “I remember how insane it was when Aaron was younger,” I said. “One year he signed up for baseball and basketball. They overlapped for a bit, and I swear I was taking him to a game or practice like every day.”

“Yes!” Christine said excitedly, relief evident in her expression. “Sometimes it’s all just too much.”
“Yeah, sometimes it is,” I agreed.  

The class was about to start and the room was filling up. It was mainly women, but there were some men. Most of them were with their wives or girlfriends. I’d tried getting Rafael to come with me before, but he laughed as if the idea was preposterous.
What It's REALLY Like to Teach a Yoga Class (Illustrated) 6
“Remember when there were only a few of us in this class?” Christine asked, her gaze sweeping the room.  I nodded, glancing around. There were so many new people I didn’t know. Not that I was surprised. Folsom had grown a lot in the ten years I’d lived here. New people moved here every day.

Staring at all the strangers crowding around us, I shivered, my thoughts drifting back to you. We hadn’t even met, and yet I felt like I knew you. We had the same name, the same gym, the same pediatrician for our child.

It felt like kismet. Fate had brought you here to me. I was certain of it.  But why? 
Are you ready to read When I Was YouWhen I Was You publishes August 25 and is available at Amazon*, Harlequin, Indiebound, Barnes & Noble, Walmart, Target, Google, and iBooks.  You can find Amber Garza's other novels here.  This book reminded me of two incidents where I encountered someone with the same name as mine.  I went to  middle school with a Christina M. Anderson who was born on the same day in the same year.  In high school there was another Kristina Anderson.  I was a senior and she was a freshman.  We both went by Kris and we looked very similar.  Have you had similar experiences?  Thank you for dropping by today.  Tomorrow I am sharing my review of Penned In by Lynn Cahoon.  It is A Farm-to-Fork Mystery novella.  I hope you have a calming day.  Take care, be kind, and Happy Reading!


The Avid Reader
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