Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Dear Santa by Debbie Macomber

 Dear Santa
Book Summary

Lindy Carmichael isn’t feeling particularly joyful when she returns home to Wenatchee, Washington, for Christmas. The man she thought was “the one” has cheated on her with her best friend, and she feels completely devoid of creativity in her graphic-design job. Not even carolers or Christmas cookies can cheer her up—but Lindy’s mother, Ellen, remembers an old tradition that might lift her daughter's spirits.
Reading through a box of childhood letters to Santa and reminiscing about what she'd wished for as a young girl may be just the inspiration Lindy needs. With Ellen's encouragement, she decides to write a new letter to Santa, one that will encourage her to have faith and believe just as she’d done all those years ago. Little does Lindy know that this exercise in gratitude will cause her wishes to unfold before her in miraculous ways. And, thanks to some fateful twists of Christmas magic—especially an unexpected connection with a handsome former classmate—Lindy ultimately realizes that there is truly no place like home for the holidays.
In Dear Santa, Debbie Macomber celebrates the joys of Christmas blessings, old and new.

My Thoughts

Dear Santa by Debbie Macomber is a book that captured my attention from the very first page.   I look forward to reading Debbie Macomber’s Christmas story each year and Dear Santa did not disappoint.  Lindy Carmichael is returning home for the holidays, and she is feeling a little blue.  Her mother suggests that Lindy read the letters she wrote to Santa as a child.  After reading the letters, Lindy writes a letter to Santa with what she would like for Christmas.  Lindy is surprised when the items on her list start coming true.   When one wish comes true, Lindy will need to make a heartrending decision.  Dear Santa has Debbie Macomber’s trademark writing.  Her writing is engaging and draws the writer right into the story.  The story was easy to read thanks to the writing and steady pacing as well as the engaging characters.  I like the lessons in the story.  We all go through rough patches, have heartbreak, or struggles, but something good usually comes from these difficulties.  It is a clean story which I appreciate (no foul language and there is only kissing, hand holding, and hugs between our romantic couple).  Dear Santa is an uplifting story that leaves you with a smile on your face.  The one sad thing is now we have to wait a year for Debbie Macomber’s next Christmas book.  Dear Santa is a sweet, feel-good tale that will put you in the mood for the holidays.  

Dear Santa had me humming Christmas carols around the house (which is decorated for Halloween).  Dear Santa is available from Amazon*.  You can find Debbie Macomber's other novels here.  Thank you for stopping by today.  I will return on Friday, October 22 with Christmas Dessert Murder by Joanne Fluke.   I am finishing up the last details of my Halloween display outside.  I need a few spiderwebs.  I will share some pictures with you soon.  Take care, be kind, and Happy Reading!


The Avid Reader 

*This post contains affiliate links.  As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.

Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Freedom's Song by Kim Vogel Sawyer

 Freedom's Song
Book Summary

Indentured servant Fanny Beck has been forced to sing for riverboat passengers since she was a girl. All she wants is to live a quiet, humble life with her family as soon as her seven-year contract is over. However, when she discovers that the captain has no intention of releasing her, she seizes a sudden opportunity to escape--an impulse that leads Fanny to a group of enslaved people who are on their own dangerous quest for liberty. . . .

Widower Walter Kuhn is overwhelmed by his responsibilities to his farm and young daughter, and now his mail-order bride hasn't arrived. Could a beautiful stranger seeking work be the answer to his prayers? . . .

After the star performer of the River Peacock is presumed drowned, Sloan Kirkpatrick, the riverboat's captain, sets off to find her replacement. However, his journey will bring him face to face with his own past--and a deeper understanding of what it truly means to be free. . . .

Uplifting, inspiring, and grounded in biblical truth, Freedom's Song is a story for every reader who has longed for physical, emotional, or spiritual delivery.

My Thoughts

Fanny Beck is an indentured servant for Sloan Kirkpatrick, a riverboat captain.  Fanny’s father indentured her in exchange for passage for the rest of his family to America.  Unfortunately, Fanny’s father did not realize the fine print indentured Fanny for seven years for each family member which is 35 years instead of the seven Fanny believes.  When a fire on the ship gives Fanny a chance to escape, she grabs it.  It sends her on a journey where she encounters people in need including Walter Kuhn, a widower with a young daughter.  Walter needs someone to watch his daughter until his mail order bride arrives.  Fanny wants to get to New York to reunite with her family, but she needs to earn more funds for the train ride.  In the meantime, Sloan is scouring the Midwest looking for a singer for his riverboat.  What is God’s plan for Fanny?  

Freedom’s Song by Kim Vogel Sawyer is a heartwarming historical novel.  I thought it was well-written with realistic, developed characters.  Sloan is an opportunistic riverboat captain who takes advantage of a man’s inability to read or write.  Fanny is a sweet woman who has led a hard life.  She just wants to rejoin her family whom she has not seen in seven years.  Fanny is a woman of great faith.  She relies on God to direct her journey.  The romance element is sweet.  I like that it happened slowly and was not rushed.  I enjoyed the “embarrassing” moments between Fanny and Walter.  This is a clean story which I appreciated (no intimate situations or foul language).  The theme of freedom (physical, emotional, and spiritual) was woven throughout the story.  It was well-done.  I wish there had been an update on Enoch and his family.  They were such wonderful characters and I wanted to know how their journey ended.  I liked that the story had emotion, suspense, romance, drama, and faith.  There is some predictability to the story, but that did not diminish my reading pleasure.  I can tell the author did her research for this story.  She captured the time period and included good details that enhance the story (the difficulties of traveling by stagecoach for example).  Freedom’s Song is an inspiring, emotional story that was a joy to read.  

Freedom's Song is available from Amazon*.  You can find Kim Vogel Sawyer's other novels here.  I appreciate you joining me today and reading my thoughts on Freedom's Song. Here are some of the other novels that were published today:  In the Company of Witches by Auralee Wallace, Dear Santa by Debbie Macomber, A Christmas Courtship by Shelley Shepard Gray, and Oh William! by Elizabeth Strout.   I will be back tomorrow with Dear Santa by Debbie Macomber.  I hope that you have a joyful day.  Take care of yourself, be kind, and Happy Reading!


The Avid Reader 

*This post contains affiliate links.  As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.

Monday, October 18, 2021

In the Company of Witches by Auralee Wallace

In the Company of Witches

Book Summary

When a guest dies in the B&B she helps her aunts run, a young witch must rely on some good old-fashioned investigating to clear her aunt's name in this magical and charming new cozy mystery.

For four hundred years, the Warren witches have used their magic to quietly help the citizens of the sleepy New England town of Evenfall thrive. There's never been a problem they couldn't handle. But then Constance Graves--a local known for being argumentative and demanding--dies while staying at the bed and breakfast Brynn Warren maintains with her aunts. At first, it seems like an accident...but it soon becomes clear that there's something more sinister at work, and Aunt Nora is shaping up to be the prime suspect.

There's nothing Brynn wants more than to prove Nora's innocence, and it hurts her to know that even two years ago that might have been easier. Brynn, after all, is a witch of the dead--a witch who can commune with ghosts. Ghosts never remember much about their deaths, but Constance might remember something about her life that would help crack the case. But Brynn hasn't used her powers since her husband died, and isn't even sure she still can. Brynn will just have to hope that her aunts' magic and her own investigative skills will lead her to answers--and maybe back to the gift she once thought herself ready to give up forever.
My Thoughts

In the Company of Witches by Auralee Wallace is the debut of An Evenfall Witches B&B Mysteries.  Brynn Warren is a likeable and relatable protagonist.  She is still dealing with the loss of her husband which makes her sympathetic.  Brynn lives in the carriage house behind the bed-and-breakfast and helps her aunts take care of their guests.  When their demanding guest, Constance Graves is murdered, Brynn’s fiery Aunt Nora becomes the prime suspect.  Brynn works to clear her aunt whose actions are making things worse.  I thought the story contained good writing with some interesting characters.  Each Warren woman has a unique personality.  The animals are fun & quirky especially Dog.    I like the magical elements.  They enhance the story.  The mystery was thought out.  There are several good suspects in Constance’s death.  It does not help Brynn’s investigation that Constance was a pain-in-the-you-know-what.  Her own siblings are on the suspect list.  There are clues to help readers solve the crime.  I had fun cracking this whodunit.  I like that all the details were wrapped up so there were no loose ends.  The story had whimsy and humor that made it enjoyable to read.  I look forward to reading When the Crow’s Away next spring.  In the Company of Witches is a spirited tale with a challenging guest, an angry aunt, an odd death, an irritating itch, a modicum of magical mayhem, and a killer confrontation.  

In the Company of Witches releases Tuesday, October 19 and can be ordered from Amazon*.  The next An Evenfall Witches B&B Mystery is When the Crow's Away which publishes April 5, 2022.   You can find Auralee Wallace's other novels here.  Thank you so much for stopping by today.  Tomorrow I am featuring Freedom's Song  by Kim Vogel Sawyer.  I hope that you have a magical day.  Take care, be kind, and Happy Reading!


The Avid Reader 

*This post contains affiliate links.  As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. 

Saturday, October 16, 2021

Digging Up Trouble by Kitt Crowe

 Digging Up Trouble
Book Summary

Life is sweet when you live in Confection, Oregon. Or, at least, that's how it's supposed to be. But on a summer day, when tourists and locals alike gawk at the majestic mountains, quaint Craftsman houses, and lovely flowers--particularly the renowned Confection Rose--the last thing anyone has come to see is a dead body, unearthed from a shallow grave by a curious dog.

A bathrobe-clad Lexi rushes next door to her neighbor's backyard to find her pooch, Cookie, stalwartly sitting watch over a body in the vegetable garden. Cookie, encrusted in dirt, grips a copper pipe between her teeth. Was this the murder weapon? And was Lexi the murderer? It sure looks that way, seeing as she was spotted squabbling with the victim just the day before. The case becomes all the more perplexing when the real murder weapon turns out to be a garden stake. Then where does the copper pipe fit in? And might a more likely suspect let Lexi off the hook?

All the volumes in the Sweet Fiction Bookshop, and all the specials at Eats n' Treats, prove of little help in jogging Lexi's brain to find a solution. Fortunately, Cookie is not finished digging up clues. As the fur flies, can this trusty border collie mix save sweet Lexi from a bitter end?
My Thoughts

Digging Up Trouble by Kitt Crowe has Lexi Jones managing her families’ bookstore in Confection, Oregon. Lexi’s dog, Cookie has managed to escape the yard once again and has landed her in hot water with Detective Berg (again). The next day, Lexi awakens to find Cookie has done a Houdini and is in her neighbor’s yard along with Detective Berg.  Gil, Lexi’s grouchy neighbor, is dead and Cookie has the murder weapon in his mouth.  Lexi is at the top of the suspect list after Gil was seen yelling at her the previous afternoon.  Lexi with help from the Macaroons digs into the case in the hopes of exposing the killer. Digging Up Trouble is the debut of A Sweet Fiction Bookshop Mystery series.  Confection, Oregon is a small town where the residents lavish their time and attention on their gardens.  The upcoming contest with the large cash prize has people pushing for their gardens to look their best.  They do not appreciate a cute dog digging in their flowerbeds.  Lexi Jones has returned to her hometown where she manages the family bookshop, Sweet Fiction and, in her spare time, is working on a novel.  I would have liked to learn more about Lexi (lack of background).  There are a number of secondary characters that include Lexi’s besties, her uncles, and the Macaroons (the book club). The whodunit is straightforward.  There are several suspects and I thought there were too many red herrings.  There are clues a plenty to help readers arrive at the solution before the reveal.  I did not understand why Detective Berg was so focused on Lexi. The story flowed well until about two thirds of the way through.  It slowed down then until the reveal scene. The author has set up a love triangle that I wish was not a part of the book.  Cookie was the highlight of the book.  He is a smart, wily, and entertaining canine.  Digging Up Trouble is a lighthearted whodunit with crafty canine, rampant rumors, flower garden fanatics, a devious digger, a cunning killer, curious clues, and a surfeit of suspects.  

Digging Up Trouble is available from Amazon*.  The next A Sweet Fiction Bookshop Mystery is A Poisonous Page which publishes July 12, 2022. I appreciate you stopping by and reading my review today.  I will return on Monday with In the Company of Witches by Auralee Wallace.  It is the debut of An Evenfall Witches B&B Mysteries.   I hope that you have a wonderful weekend.  I am going to go work on spiderwebs.  I have a skeleton resting in a chair outside.  I feel she needs some spiderwebs as well as some spiders.  As you can tell, I am having fun setting up my Halloween decorations outside. Take care, be kind, and Happy Reading!


The Avid Reader 

*This post contains affiliate links.  As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.

Friday, October 15, 2021

Christmas by the Book by Anne Marie Ryan

Christmas by the Book 

Book Summary

In small-town England, two booksellers facing tough times decide to spread some Christmas cheer through the magic of anonymous book deliveries in this uplifting holiday tale for book lovers everywhere.

Nora and her husband, Simon, have run the beautiful oak-beamed book shop in their small British village for thirty years. But times are tough and the shop is under threat of closure--this Christmas season will really decide their fate. When an elderly man visits the store and buys the one book they've never been able to sell, saying it's the perfect gift for his sick grandson, it gives Nora an idea. She and Simon will send out books to those feeling down this Christmas. Maybe they can't save their bookstore, but at least they'll have one final chance to lift people's spirits through the power of reading.

After gathering nominations online, Nora and Simon quietly deliver books to six residents of the village in need of some festive cheer, including a single dad of twins who is working hard to make ends meet, a teenage boy grieving for his big sister, a local Member of Parliament who is battling depression, and a teacher who's newly retired and living on her own. As the town prepares for a white Christmas, the books begin to give the recipients hope, one by one. But with the future of the bookshop still up in the air, Nora and Simon will need a Christmas miracle--or perhaps a little help from the people whose lives they've touched--to find a happy ending of their own....

My Thoughts

Nora and Simon Walden own The Stowford Bookshop in England.  Nora inherited the shop from her mother who passed on her love of books to her.  Unfortunately, the shop is currently in the red plus the taxes are due.  It is hard to compete with online retailers.  Another problem is that many of the people in the village are struggling so books are a luxury they cannot afford and weather is keeping the tourists away.  When the oldest book in the store sells, it gives the couple an idea.  They post on social media asking people if there is someone in their lives who can use a boost this holiday season.  They draw out six names and send them a special Christmas book.  Nora and Simon get to see how each book makes a difference in the life of the receiver.  Christmas by the Book by Anne Marie Ryan is a feel-good Christmas tale.  The book does get off to a slow start as we are introduced Nora and Simon.  The story becomes more engaging the further I got into the book.  We get to see how the books affect the receivers.  The story also touches on depression.    Many people are ashamed of having depression and do not discuss it with others.  Winter plus the holiday season tend to make this mental health condition worse.  I thought the author handled this subject very well.  Christmas by the Book allows us to see how a gift can spread joy and hope.  I liked how each book was right for each person’s situation.  It was great to see what Nora and Simon’s idea sparked in others.  The ending left me smiling.  Christmas by the Book will help you get into the holiday spirit.  Christmas by the Book is an uplifting holiday tale with a special sale, tax troubles, beneficial books, a dark depression, Christmas chaos, and a merry miracle.  

Christmas by the Book is available from Amazon*.  You can follow Anne Marie Ryan on Amazon so you can receive a notification when she releases a new book.  Thank you for visiting today.  Tomorrow I am sharing my thoughts on Digging Up Trouble by Kitt Crowe.  It is the first A Sweet Fiction Bookshop Mystery.  I hope that you have an uplifting day.  I am off to work on my Halloween decorations outside.  A witch flew into our pine tree and two ghosts have taken up residence in the palm tree.  Take care, be kind, and Happy Reading!


The Avid Reader 

*This post contains affiliate links.  As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.

Thursday, October 14, 2021

In Hot Water by Kate Kingsbury

 In Hot Water
Book Summary

Vivian Wainwright is living her dream. The middle-aged widow owns the Misty Bay Tearoom, a quaint, English-accented shop on the Oregon coast. But on the eve of the tearoom's second anniversary, the dream turns nightmarish when a man falls to his death from a hotel balcony.

The body belongs to Dean Ramsey, ex-husband of Vivian's assistant, Jenna. Detective Tony Messina quickly zeroes in on Jenna as prime suspect, since she was seen leaving the hotel shortly before the body was found.

Vivian and her other assistant, Gracie, set out to help clear Jenna's name, using their wit and a bit of criminology know-how Vivian picked up from her late attorney husband. Detective Messina is on board, but he's starting to develop feelings for his number one suspect. Puzzling questions persist--chief among them, whose clothes was Dean wearing when he landed on the rocky shore?

To complicate matters, Vivian's friend, pet shop owner Hal Douglass, seems to know some secrets about the hotel that could add a long list of names to the suspect list...including Hal's own. Vivian must work quickly because if she can't, Jenna faces a murder rap...or worse.

My Thoughts

In Hot Water by Kate Kingsbury is the beginning of A Misty Bay Tearoom Mysteries.  Vivian Wainwright owns Willow Pattern Tearoom in Misty Bay, Oregon.  Jenna and Gracie are her two employees.  When Jenna’s ex-husband, Dean is found dead on the cliffs under the Blue Surf Hotel, Jenna becomes Detective Lieutenant Tony Messina’s prime suspect.  Vivian, Jenna, and Gracie work to clear Jenna and find the guilty party.  I thought In Hot Water was easy to read with good characters.  The characters suited the story.  I liked Vivian Wainwright who is an older protagonist (in her 60s).  I like that we are seeing more mature characters in cozy mysteries.  Normally in the first book in a series, we are introduced to our characters and given their background.  I found that lacking in this book.  We are given some background information, but I wanted more.  The point-of-view alternates between Vivian and Messina.  I am not sure how I like this format.  It is unique and it does allow readers to see how the police investigation is progressing (which was slow).  The mystery is straightforward.  It can be solved early in the book.  I wish it had been more of a challenge to solve.  I was easily able to discern the who and why.  There was a detail that came out later that was a surprise.  The three ladies kept busy asking questions.  They were able to obtain some helpful details.  They do receive threats which, of course, they ignore.  The mystery is wrapped up at the end.  I like the humor in the story.  I also like how well Jenna, Vivian, and Gracie get along.  I enjoy the friendship between Hal and Vivian as well.  In Hot Water is a lighthearted cozy mystery that provides a nice diversion from real life.  In Hot Water is a cute cozy mystery with teatime treats, a pink negligee, a nosedive death, a direct detective, hotel happenings, bothersome reporters, and three snoopy amateur sleuths.

In Hot Water is available from Amazon*.  You can find Kate Kingsbury's other titles here.  Thank you for visiting today and reading my review.  I will be back tomorrow with Christmas by the Book by Anne Marie Ryan.  I hope that you have  an upbeat day.  Take care, be kind, and Happy Reading!


The Avid Reader 

*This post contains affiliate links.  As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.

Wednesday, October 13, 2021

A Christmas Courtship by Shelley Shepard Gray

 A Christmas Courtship
Book Summary

A solitary sort, forty-two-year-old Atle Petersheim spends his time hard at work in his wood shop. But as the days get long, he realizes just how lonely he’s become. When his longtime crush, Sadie Mast, a widow and mother of three, asks him to help her build a room in their barn for her son Cale, Atle can’t say no. Eager to pursue Sadie at last, he turns to bookmobile librarian Sarah Anne Miller for courting advice. More than happy to help, Sarah Anne decides the best way to learn about love is through books—romance novels to be precise.

Between completing holiday orders for her flourishing food business, helping Cale navigate a dramatic new relationship with his boss’s daughter, and coming to terms with the trauma her late husband had inflicted upon her and her children—not to mention Atle showing up at her door with flowers—Sadie is in over her head. Though Atle’s efforts are initially clumsy and his declarations a bit awkward, Sadie can’t help but be charmed by him. He’s patient and kind...and at times even seems to know far more about romance than he’s let on.
My Thoughts

Sarah Anne Miller Canon is a newlywed at sixty-two and enjoying her career as a bookmobile driver.  Sarah Anne does more than dispense books in her compact vehicle.  Atle Petersheim has admired Sadie Mast for a long time, but as a bachelor at forty-two, he has no idea how to court a woman.  He asks Sarah Anne to find him a book that will help him with the task.  Sarah Anne come sup with an unusual solution.  Cale Mast is sixteen-year-old who works hard to help his widowed mother, Sadie.  He would like to court Hope Overholt, his boss’s daughter, but Cale is unsure how to go about it.  Cale also is pondering his future and the career that would be for him. 

   A Christmas Courtship by Shelley Shepard Gray is a sweet heartwarming story.  I enjoyed reading it very much.  I had just finished reading a couple of lackluster books and needed a pick me up, A Christmas Courtship did the trick.  A Christmas Courtship is the 3rd tale in The Berlin Bookmobile Series.  It can be read as a standalone, but I do recommend the two previous books.  I thought the book was well-written with engaging characters.  The characters are realistic and developed.  The book moved along at a good pace and was over much too quickly.  There are some good life lessons about forgiveness and dealing with painful memories.  The story does discuss domestic abuse.  I like how the author handled this difficult subject. Gwen the goat was a delightful addition.  It was cute how Atle  took to her.  A Christmas Courtship is a story of faith, hope, and love.  I love A Berlin Bookmobile Series and I hope there will be more adventures with Sarah Anne.  A Christmas Courtship is a heartfelt, entertaining tale that made me smile and laugh. 

A Christmas Courtship publishes October 19 and can be pre-ordered from Amazon*.  The other A Berlin Bookmobile Series are A Perfect Amish Romance and An Amish Surprise.   You can find Shelley Shepard Gray's other novels here.  Thank you for joining me today.  I will return tomorrow with my thoughts on In Hot Water by Kate Kingsbury.  It is the debut of A Misty Bay Tea Room Mystery series.  I hope that you have a joyful day.  Take care, be kind, and Happy Reading!


The Avid Reader

*This post contains affiliate links.  As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.

Tuesday, October 12, 2021

Once Upon a Seaside Murder by Maggie Blackburn

Once Upon a Seaside Murder 
Book Summary

As the holidays approach, bookstore owner Summer Merriwether learns a dark secret in this second volume of Maggie Blackburn's Beach Reads mystery series.

There's no place like home for the holidays, even if home is sleepy, beachside Brigid's Island, NC. During this season for giving, the town wakes up to a welcome throng of shoppers--and Beach Reads is no exception. But bookseller Summer Merriwether's Christmas cheer turns to cringing fear when she uncovers a deadly secret about her late mother--a secret someone will kill to keep.

When the local library hosts a cozy mystery panel discussion, Summer learns that one of the authors on the panel based her book on an actual murder that shook Brigid's Island thirty-five years before. Worse, she soon learns that her dearly missed mother, Hildy, took a disturbingly deep interest in the case, going so far as to collect clippings and keep a journal of the dark doings. This doesn't jibe with Summer's memories of her usually cheery mother at all.

Tidings get worse when Summer learns of her long-lost biological family's involvement in the crime...and still worse when the life of the book's author is threatened. With the help of Hildy's plucky book club, Summer puts her scholarly smarts to work on protecting the cozy author and solving the decades-old murder.

But this ghost from Christmas past may still be deadly in the present, and if she can't find the killer, Summer's future will be brief.
My Thoughts

Summer Merriweather is still reeling from the loss of her mother.  It is particularly difficult as Christmas nears.  Beach Reads is hosting a cozy mystery author panel discussion, but someone is not happy that Mimi Sinclair, author of Mermaid Point Murder, is coming to town.  Threats and warnings proceed the kidnapping of the author.  Summer works to discover who has taken Mimi and where she could be kept.  If Summer cannot figure it out in time, she could lose something precious to her.  Once Upon a Seaside Murder by Maggie Blackburn is the 2nd A Beach Reads Mystery.  It can be read as a standalone if you have not had a chance to indulge in Little Bookshop of Murder.  I found Once Upon a Seaside Murder a Debbie downer.  There is a lot of sadness, anxiousness, and stress in the story.  Summer has several issues that affect her personality.  She is grieving the loss of her mother, she zones out, and she is terrified of spiders.  We get to hear in detail about her thoughts and feelings.   These issues, of course, affect her attitude.  I just do not find Summer appealing as a protagonist.  Summer is learning about her birth father and family.  We get to meet her newly found half-siblings as well as a grandmother plus she learns about a host of other relatives.  The whodunit ties to a murder that occurred at Mermaid Point over thirty years ago.  There are threats, break ins, and a kidnapping.  There was one thing done that was a little extreme for a cozy mystery.  The mystery is resolved in the end with complete explanation.  I wish Once Upon a Seaside Murder had been lighter and shorter.  I hope going forward that Summer starts to move past her grief and fears.  There are some good characters in the story such as Glads, Marilyn, Mia, and Aunt Agatha.  They are fun and engaging.  Let us not forget Mr. Darcy.  I also enjoyed the descriptions of the bookstore.  I could get lost for hours inside Beach Reads.  Once Upon a Seaside Murder takes readers to Brigid’s Island, North Carolina where mayhem ensues when a cozy mystery author is kidnapped, and old secrets come to light. 

Once Upon a Seaside Murder is available from Amazon* as well as other major booksellers (Barnes & Noble, Kobo, etc.).  The first A Beach Reads Mystery is Little Bookshop of Murder.  Maggie Blackburn writes A Cora Crafts Mysteries under Mollie Cox Bryan.  Thank you for joining me today and reading my review.  Some of the other new book releases today are In Hot Water by Kate Kingsbury, Mango Mambo Murder by Raquel V. Reyes, Slashing through the Snow by Jacqueline Frost, Digging up Trouble by Kitt Crowe, A Brush with Murder by Bailee Abbott, Christmas by the Book by Anne Marie Ryan, and Strawberries & Crime by Elle Brooke White.  So many new cozy mysteries to read!  I hope that you have a day filled with joy.  Take care, be kind, and Happy Reading!


The Avid Reader 

*This post contains affiliate links.  As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.

Monday, October 11, 2021

A Brush with Murder by Bailee Abbott: Review, Excerpt, and Giveaway!


A Brush with Murder: A Paint by Murder Mystery
by Bailee Abbott

About A Brush With Murder

A Brush with Murder: A Paint by Murder Mystery

A quiet lakeside town in western New York state is the new home of Manhattan artist Chloe Abbington and the backdrop for murder in this series debut by Bailee Abbott.

For Chloe Abbington, the transition from fine art painter in New York City to painting-event business owner in charming Whisper Cove is more than a little jarring. But when poison-pen journalist Fiona Gimble writes a viciously negative review of the newly opened Paint with a View, Chloe learns that critics are the same everywhere. And when she finds Fiona’s body behind her shop with a painting knife in her neck, Chloe realizes that this picture-perfect town offers anything but peace and quiet. 

Suddenly, bustling Artisan Alley is a crime scene, and Chloe is the prime suspect. Her sister and business partner, Izzie, isn’t much help–she’s busy running the shop, and besides, she has secrets of her own. As shrewd Detective Barrett tries to paint her into a corner, Chloe soon finds that Fiona had plenty of enemies. The Whisper Cove Gazette columnist wielded her pen like a sword, slicing and dicing just about every shop owner in the lakeside town.

Chloe sets out to prove that she’s been framed for Fiona’s murder. But she’d better learn the fine art of detection quickly, before the real killer paints the town red again. Otherwise, she may end up trading in her paint smock for an orange jumpsuit…or a green burial plot.

About Bailee Abbott

Bailee Abbott is a native Ohioan who spends her days plotting murder and writing mysteries. She’s a member of Sisters in Crime as well as of International Thriller Writers. Bailee lives with her husband and furry friend Max in the quiet suburbs of Green, Ohio. Visits to Bemus Point, a town along the Chautauqua Lake in southwest New York inspired the setting for the PAINT BY MURDER mystery series. She also writes the SIERRA PINES B&B mystery series under the name Kathryn Long.

Author Links

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My Thoughts

A Brush with Murder by Bailee Abbott is the debut of A Paint by Murder Mysteries.  Chloe Abbington returns home to Whisper Cove, New York to help her sister, Izzie with the opening of her shop, Paint with a View.  After the first event with local shop owners, Chloe finds Fiona Gimble, a local journalist, dead in the alley behind the shop.  The scene haunts Chloe so she works to find who is responsible the critical journalists death.  A Brush with Murder takes us to the charming town of Whisper Cove that has an Artisan Alley where Izzie has located her new venture.  Painting classes with friends and family are becoming popular especially when wine and food are offered.  I liked Chloe but was not a fan of her younger sister, Izzie.  Izzie tends to be bossy and has a laissez-faire way about running her business.  You can tell she wants it to be a success, but then Izzie fails to show up for planning meetings and leaves the first event in hands of Chloe and her shop assistant, Willow North.  Fiona Gimble is not well-liked in the town thanks to her nasty reviews of the local shops.  It is not a surprise when she turns up dead.  Chloe finds herself preoccupied with the crime.  She decides to do a little snooping. There are multiple suspects in her death including Chloe’s sister.  There are clues to help readers solve the crime if you pay close attention.  The resolution was complete which I appreciated. Chloe’s New York boyfriend arrives in town determined to win her back.  I did not feel this storyline was necessary.  It will only cause a love triangle with Chloe, Detective Barrett, and Ross (and I for one am not a fan of love triangles).  I also found it odd that when Izzie decided they needed to pass out flyers to promote the business, she felt it necessary for them to wear costumes (Minnie and Mickey Mouse) as well as sandwich boards.   I liked Chloe’s cute dog, Max.  He was a sweetie.  It will be interesting to see what happens next at a Paint with a View.   A Brush with Murder transports readers to Whisper Cove where there is a wrathful departed reporter, pleasurable paint projects, shop owner suspects, a cuddly canine, a determined detective, a bothersome ex-beau, and a curious Chloe.  


I scowled, waving the light across the alley pavement until it rested directly in front of me. My eyes widened, and the phone slipped from my hand as the floodlight flickered. A scream built in my throat, and I couldn’t stop the sound. A body lay at my feet with arms and legs spread out in a disturbing, awkward pose.

I back shuffled but couldn’t pull my gaze from the horrible sight. A knife protruded from the neck while blood tinged the mop of white hair with red. The curved handle of the weapon looked familiar. So did the body. I cringed and clamped one hand over my mouth to keep from screaming again.

Fiona was dead, and she’d been stabbed with what looked to me like a painting knife.

Are you ready to read A Brush with MurderA Brush with Murder publishes Tuesday, October 12 and it can be ordered from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, and Apple.  Time for the GIVEAWAY!  As part of the tour,  Bailee Abbott is giving away a $20 Amazon Gift Card.  You can click here to enter or use the Rafflecopter form below.  Leave a comment for an extra entry.  Good Luck! Thank you for visiting today.  I will be back tomorrow with Once Upon a Seaside Murder by Maggie Blackburn.  It is the 2nd A Beach Reads Mystery.  I hope that you have a creative day.  Do not forget to leave a comment for an extra entry in the giveaway.  Take care, be kind, and Happy Reading!


The Avid Reader 

Tour Participants

October 11 – Socrates Book Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

October 11 – The Avid Reader – REVIEW

October 11 – Novels Alive – SPOTLIGHT

October 12 – I’m All About Books – SPOTLIGHT

October 12 – Moonlight Rendezvous – REVIEW  

October 13 – Christy’s Cozy Corners – GUEST POST

October 13 – Celticlady’s Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

October 14 – Baroness Book Trove – CHARACTER INTERVIEW

October 14 – I Read What You Write – GUEST POST

October 15 – Brooke Blogs – SPOTLIGHT

October 15 – StoreyBook Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

October 16 – Literary Gold – SPOTLIGHT

October 16 – Sapphyria’s Book Reviews – SPOTLIGHT


October 18 – Maureen’s Musings – SPOTLIGHT

October 19 – Cozy Up With Kathy – REVIEW, AUTHOR INTERVIEW

October 19 – Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book – REVIEW

October 20 – BookishKelly2020 – SPOTLIGHT  

October 20 – Books a Plenty Book Reviews – REVIEW

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