Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Bodies and Bows by Elizabeth Penney

 Bodies and Bows

Book Summary

Bodies and Bows by Elizabeth Penney has Iris Buckley helping her grandmother, Anne with the displays for the new lighthouse museum in Blueberry Cove, Maine.  With the summer season winding down there is more time to work on obtaining stock for their shop Ruffles & Bows.  They have orders for custom aprons pouring in, but they do not have enough time to sew them.  Iris begins looking for an employee who can sew and help in the shop.  Early one morning, Irish is awakened by a phone call from Bella Ricci.  Bella’s latest beau, Lance Pedersen was out jogging when he was run down by a driver in Bella’s loaner car.  Bella was home alone which leaves her without an alibi, and she had motive after catching Lance the night before out with another woman.  Iris with help from her friend’s sets out to clear Bella of a murder charge.  

My Thoughts

Bodies and Bows by Elizabeth Penney is the 3rd book in The Apron Shop Series.  It can be read as a standalone for those new to the series, but I do not know why you would want to miss the first two books in this cute cozy mystery series.  Iris Buckley and her grandmother, Anne owns Ruffles and Bows in the quaint town of Blueberry Cove, Maine.  Ruffles and Bows sells vintage linens and aprons as well as new aprons made by Iris and Anne.  I just love the descriptions of the vintage linens and the gorgeous aprons (I collect vintage aprons myself).   Iris is a strong female character who wears vintage clothing (sometimes new clothes made from 1950s patterns).  She is close to her grandmother and has good friends as well as a boyfriend.  Iris and her girlfriends organize ladies’ nights in which they include Grammie (I think that is wonderful).  Iris’ friend, Sophie is getting married and needs help with her wedding plans.  Grammie and Iris offer to assist.  The old lighthouse is being turned into a museum.  Anne and Iris are on a committee to help with the exhibits.  They are going through old trunks and furniture looking for items to help.  Iris finds an old apron with a love note inside.  She sets out to help two star crossed lovers and hope it does not backfire.  I liked learning about lighthouses and keepers.  It would be fascinating working on a lighthouse museum.   Iris’ friend, Bella is accused of killing Lance Pedersen.  Iris and her friends know that Bella is innocent and work together to prove it.  There are several viable suspects along with subtle clues in this whodunit.  I was able to discern the guilty parties’ identity, but I had no clue as to why this person committed the crime.  There is a great action-packed reveal.  I enjoyed reading this appealing cozy mystery and I look forward to my next visit to Blueberry Cove.   Bodies and Bows is a charming tale with antique aprons, luxury linens, a slain suitor, lip-smacking barbecue, a funky filling, and ill-fated mates.  

Bodies and Bows is available from Amazon*.  The other two novels in The Apron Shop Series are Hems and Homicide plus Thread and Dead.  Elizabeth Penney has Chapter and Curse publishing September 28. It is the first book in a new cozy mystery series featuring Molly Kimball and set in one of the oldest bookshops in Cambridge, England.  I am eager to read it.  Tomorrow I am a stop on the Great Escapes Virtual Book Tour for Boarding with Murder by Kathryn Long.  It is A Sierra Pines B&B Mystery.  I hope that each of you have a sprightly 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, March 30, 2021

A Wish for Home by Jo Ann Brown

A Wish for Home

Book Summary

A Wish for Home by Jo Ann Brown has Lauren Nolt stranded in Bliss Valley when her car breaks down during a snowstorm after hitting a large pothole.  Lauren’s family left the Amish just before her fourteenth birthday and she has been living Englisch since then.  She is only in the area on an important business deal that could get her a promotion she wants so she can take care of her parents.  Lauren stays with her great aunt Sylvia Nolt at The Acorn Farm Inn.  Unfortunately, Lauren runs into her childhood tormentor, Adam Hershberger who lives next door to Sylvia.  Adam is a widower with a young daughter to raise.  He also takes care of the family farm, his great-grandfather, and two teenage cousins.  Lauren receives some startling news from her parents that leaves her reeling.  She finds herself confiding in Adam and spending time with his adorable little girl.  Then Lauren’s business deal threatens Adam’s farm which has Adam needing her help.  What does God have planned for Lauren and Adam?

My Thoughts

A Wish for Home by Jo Ann Brown is the first book in Secrets of Bliss Valley series.  I have read several of Jo Ann Brown’s books, and I have enjoyed each one of them.  I thought A Wish for Home was well-written with relatable characters.  A Wish for Home is more than “a girl-and-boy who dislike each other and later realize they are in love” story.  Someone is setting fires in Bliss Valley that is causing significant damage as well as costing the Amish a large amount of money to rebuild.  Also, Lauren receives some unexpected news from her shunned parents.  It turns her world upside down.  Sylvia Nolt and Grossdawdi Ephraim are delightful characters as well as Adam’s daughter.  They provide humor and sweet moments.  I appreciated the epilogue that nicely wrapped up book.  My favorite phrase from the story is, “To trust God knows the best path for my life, especially when I don’t have the slightest idea what it is.”  I am eager to read the next Secrets of Bliss Valley novel.  A Wish for Home is a charming Amish tale with a mischievous moppet, a grumbling grossdawdi, an astute aunt, surprising secrets, a cunning cousin, and baffling fires.  

A Wish for Home is available from Amazon*.  You can find Jo Ann Brown's other novels here.  Thank you for stopping by today and reading my review.  There are some great new books out today.  They include:  A New Love for Charlotte by Amy LillardPhantoms and Felonies by Lucy Ness, Pine Creek Courtship by Amity Hope, Bodies and Bows by Elizabeth Penney, A Patchwork Past by Leslie Gould, Fresh Brewed Murder by Emmeline Duncan, Under the Cover of Murder by Lauren Elliott, For All She Knows by Jamie Beck, Checking out Crime by Laurie Cass, No Way Out by Fern Michaels, Murder at the Taffy Shop by Maddie Day, and Mrs. Morris & the Sorceress by Traci Wilton.  So many books and so little time to read. Tomorrow I am featuring Bodies and Bows by Elizabeth Penney.  It is the 3rd book in The Apron Shop Series.  I hope that you have cheery 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.

Monday, March 29, 2021

A New Love for Charlotte by Amy Lillard

A New Love for Charlotte

Book Summary

A New Love for Charlotte by Amy Lillard has Charlotte Burkhart feeling out of sorts.  With her daughter married and her mother-in-law soon to be wed, Charlotte is not looking forward to living alone.  When Charlotte sees Glenn Esh in church, she feels that he is the answer to her prayers.  She knows that she is meant to marry him and immediately invites him to dinner.  Paul Brenneman is Charlotte’s neighbor and best friend. Lately, though, Paul’s feelings have been changing and he finds himself falling in love with Charlotte.  Before Paul can express his feelings to her, Charlotte begins courting Glenn.  One evening, Charlotte’s dog begins barking.  They find a baby in a basket on the doorstep with a note asking them to take care of her.  The moment Charlotte holds the baby, she knows this is what she has been missing.  Glenn is not thrilled with the new addition.  Charlotte wants to adopt the baby, but the system would prefer a married couple for the little girl.  Paul would happily marry Charlotte.  Second chances at love do not come around often.  What are God’s plans for Paul, Charlotte, and one sweet baby girl?  

My Thoughts

A New Love for Charlotte by Amy Lillard is the 11th A Wells Landing Romance and the third novel revolving around The Burkhart family (Loving Jenna and Romancing Nadine are the other two).   A New Love for Charlotte can be read as a standalone for those new to the series.  I thought the book was well-written with complex characters.  Charlotte Burkhart is feeling adrift with her daughter married and her mother-in-law to soon be wed.  She is also feeling out of sorts and snapping at people for no reason.  When Charlotte sees Glenn Esh at church, she feels that God has answered her prayers.  Charlotte is a strong, stubborn woman who has a strong faith.  She is also a caring woman who thought her daughter would always be with her because of the brain injury she suffered.  You can tell how much she loves Jenna (her daughter) and cares for Nadine, her mother-in-law.  Nadine and Charlotte have a unique relationship.  They are there for each other in times of need and I enjoy their banter.  I could feel Charlotte’s emotions (pain, frustration, sadness as well as joy).  Paul Brenneman is a kind, thoughtful man.  He is patient and is a good friend to Charlotte. There is humor scattered throughout the story that had me grinning and sometimes laughing.  I thought it was great that the friends got together each week for puzzle night.  They certainly had a unique way of working puzzles.  I liked that we got to catch up with the characters from the other books in the series.  The ending was warm and a good wrap up.  I enjoyed reading this sweet, heartwarming Amish tale.  I look forward to Amy Lillard’s next uplifting tale.  A New Love for Charlotte is a heartening story with a peppy pooch, a fancy Amish man, an abandoned baby, a selfless friend, perplexing puzzles, and an abundance of baked goods.  

A New Love for Charlotte publishes March 30 and is available for pre-order from Amazon*.  You can find the other Wells Landing Romance novels here.  Check out Amy Lillard's other books. She has A Murder Like No Author releasing on November 30.  I hope I have helped you find a new book, series, or author today.  I appreciate you stopping by today and reading my review.  I hope you have a fun 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.

Sunday, March 28, 2021

For All She Knows by Jamie Beck

 For All She Knows

Book Summary

For All She Knows by Jamie Beck has Grace Phillips and her best friend, Mimi Gillette at odds over the upcoming vote regarding the budget for the local high school.  The school wishes to spend millions updating the sports facilities which Mimi approves of since her son, Rowan is a football player.  A football scholarship is the only way Rowan will be able to attend college.  Grace feels the funds should be spent on academics which would benefit the majority of the students.  It has caused a rift in the town and it is affecting Grace’s son, Carter.  Rowan’s football friends have been picking on Carter.  Mimi agrees to let Rowan have some of his buddies over one evening.  She is surprised to learn that Rowan invited Carter since the two boys have not been close in recent years.  Mimi is on a date when she receives a call from Rowan that there has been an accident.  Mimi arrives home to find Carter laying at the bottom of the steps with a severe injury.  Grace is indignant over what happened to her son, and she wants to make sure those who are responsible for his injuries are held accountable.  This further divides the small community of Potomac Falls and wreaks havoc with her friendship with Mimi as well as her marriage.  Litigation causes further upset.  Grace’s husband does not recognize his wife and wonders what is driving her to cause so much dissention.  Is there a chance at peace and forgiveness in Potomac Falls? 

My Thoughts

For All She Knows by Jamie Beck is the third book in the Potomac Falls series.  Each book can be read as a standalone.  For All She Knows is an emotional novel.  Grace’s son is severely injured, and she wants to make sure the people responsible pay for their crimes.  Grace’s actions divide a town, a friendship, and a family.  I thought For All She Knows contained good writing with steady pacing.  We get to see how a tragic incident can change lives in an instant.  Issues from the past rule how Grace raises her children.  She wants to make sure that her children have a safe and happy childhood.  Mimi is a mother who is laxer with the rules (opposite of Grace).  These two women are best friends until a school budget issues and then Carter’s injuries divide them.  For All She Knows deals with forgiveness, guilt, and blame.  We see how the past affects decisions made today.  The story alternates point-of-view between Mimi and Grace.  This allows us to see both sides of the issues.  Emotions pour from the pages.  Anger, fear, love, caring, hurt, and loss are some of the feelings.  I was surprised by Mimi’s thoughts toward underage drinking.  I cannot imagine allowing a teenager access to my liquor cabinet (or not locking it) or leaving beer unattended in the fridge.  Teenagers and alcohol are a bad mix.  Jamie Beck tackled some difficult subjects in For All She Knows.  Fans of this author will enjoy this poignant tale.  

For All She Knows publishes March 30 and can be pre-ordered from Amazon*.  If you are a Kindle Unlimited member, you can borrow it for free.  The other two novels in the Potomac Point series are If You Must Know and Truth of the Matter.  Both of the books are on Kindle Unlimited as well.  Thank you for visiting today.   Tomorrow I am sharing my thoughts on A New Love for Charlotte by Amy Lillard.  It is the 11th A Wells Landing Romance.  I am off to put together our new grill.  Our last one rusted away (Florida sun did a number on it along with the ocean air) before we moved.  I have been smelling barbecue around the community that had me hankering for food on the grill.  I am getting a cover for this grill to help protect it from the environment.  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, March 27, 2021

The Baby Next Door by Vannetta Chapman

The Baby Next Door

Book Summary

The Baby Next Door by Vannetta Chapman has Grace Troyer and her daughter living at home with her parents.  After spending time in her aunt’s Mennonite community in Ohio, Grace knew she wanted to be plain and to raise her daughter in the faith.  Grace just wants peace, quiet, and seclusion but she finds it difficult to find living next door to Adrian Schrock’s Plain & Simple Exotic Animal Farm. Adrian’s llama frequently escapes his pen and ends up peering in the Troyer kitchen window.  Grace’s daughter, Nicole loves it when Kendrick, the llama, visits plus she adores Adrian.  Adrian is equally taken with Nicole and her lovely mother.  To take care of the bills related to his farm, Adrian needs to set up a tour for Englischers.  He gets Grace’s parents to agree to provide a meal for the Englishers which will be cooked by Grace.  Grace is against the venture for reasons she will not share with Adrian.  Since her parents have already promised their help, Grace must find another way to stop the tours.  

My Thoughts 

The Baby Next Door by Vannetta Chapman is the 7th book in Indiana Amish Brides series.  Each book can be read as a standalone.  I enjoyed reading this entertaining Amish tale.  I was drawn into this unique story right away, and the story held my attention until the end.  The Baby Next Door is well-written with steady pacing.   I liked the relatable characters and the lovable animals.  There are some special and exotic animals.  You could tell how much Adrian loved each one of them.  I liked that this was different from other Amish stories.  There are good life lessons in the book with the most important being to trust God because He knows what is best. Three of the themes In The Baby Next Door are family, faith, and forgiveness.   I enjoyed the humor in the story.  Grace’s determination to stop the tours led to some laughable situations.  I appreciated how the epilogue that nicely wrapped up the tale.  The Baby Next Door is a humorous and sweet Amish story.  I look forward to reading Vannetta Chapman’s next entertaining book.  

The Baby Next Door releases March 30 and can be pre-ordered from Amazon*.  You can find the other Indiana Amish Brides series hereA Widow's Hope (first book in series) can be borrowed through Kindle Unlimited.  You can find Vannetta Chapman's other novels here.  Thank you for stopping by today.  I am reviewing For All She Knows by Jamie Beck next time.  It is the third book in the Potomac Point series.  I hope that you have a lively 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.

Friday, March 26, 2021

Phantoms and Felonies by Lucy Ness

Phantoms & Felonies by Lucy Ness

Book Summary

Phantoms and Felonies by Lucy Ness has Avery Morgan, manager of Portage Path Women’s Club, organizing a 1920’s murder mystery event to raise funds and, hopefully, bring in new members.  Bob Hanover, a local banker lousy with dough, is bankrolling the event, and starring in the play.  Unfortunately, Bob’s attitude rubs people the wrong way.  The murder mystery starts off with a bang when Bob is found chilled off.  Bob was bumped off in the speakeasy and found with Avery’s psychic aunt, Rosemary standing over the body.  Avery immediately jumps into investigator mode.  She knows that to save the club, Avery needs to prove that no one connected to it was involved in the crime.  Avery has help from the mansions resident ghost, Clemmie Bow.   Avery needs to be careful, or she could be the next one zotzed.

My Thoughts

Phantoms and Felonies by Lucy Ness is a lighthearted paranormal cozy mystery. Avery Morgan has been hard at work to revitalize the Portage Path Women’s Club by booking events in the elegant Dennison mansion.  They need a big influx of cash as well as new members, so Avery has come up with a twenties themed murder mystery event which is open to the public.  Unfortunately, the local banker is found bumped off in the speakeasy in the basement of the mansion.  Avery sets out to solve the murder with help from the mansion’s resident ghost, Clemmie Bow.  Phantoms and Felonies is the second book in A Haunted Mansion Mystery series.  I was able to read Phantoms and Felonies, but the task would have been easier if I had read Haunted Homicide.  I just loved Clemmie Bow, the flapper ghost who has become Avery’s friend.  I enjoyed the 1920s slang (it was the bee’s knees). The mystery has several suspects who all had motive to rub-out the banker.  There are good clues to help readers solve the whodunit before the reveal.  I enjoyed the witty banter between Clemmie and Avery.  They work well together and have a good friendship.  There is humor throughout the story that will have readers chuckling.  Aunt Rosemary was a hoot.  Aunt Rosemary is a psychic who lives in Lily Dale, New York where Avery grew up.  She believes that Avery has psychic powers as well, but Avery has always claimed she does not believe in all that “woo woo” stuff.  Now, Avery works to make sure her aunt does not find out about Clemmie.  I hope that Avery will embrace her gift as the series progresses.  Phantoms and Felonies is an entertaining tale with a flapper phantom, an assertive aunt, a dashing detective, a bumped off banker, and a cat’s meow chick.  

Phantoms and Felonies comes out April 6 on Amazon*.  The first A Haunted Mansion Mystery is Haunted Homicide.  Readers can follow Lucy Ness on Facebook.  By the way, according to the 1920's slang dictionary, a "cat's meow chick" is a stylish or splendid woman".  I appreciate you stopping by today and reading my review.  Tomorrow I am sharing my thoughts on The Baby Next Door by Vannetta Chapman.  It is the 7th tale in the Indiana Amish Brides series.  I hope your day is the bee's knees.  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, March 25, 2021

Paddlers, Promises and Poison by Tonya Kappes

Paddlers, Promises, and Poison

Book Summary

Paddlers, Promises, and Poison by Tonya Kappes has Mae West and the Laundry Club Ladies out looking at the new housing development being built on rare Daniel Boone National Park land in Normal, Kentucky.  Many people are unhappy with the construction including Happy Trails Campground manager, Dottie Swaggert.  The group enters the model home to find realtor, Chelsea O’Connell dead.  Detective Hank Sharp quickly arrives at the scene, but Mae can tell that something is bothering him since he brought Chester with him.  It turns out that cutbacks are going to be made to the Sheriff’s Department and the rumor is it will be Hank’s job.  He wants to solve this high-profile case quickly to show his worth.  Mae and the Laundry Club Ladies want to help Hank and immediately begin investigating.  They have several suspects including owner of the housing development, a local deputy, the victim’s husband, and the town’s mayor.  Can the ladies help Hank?

My Thoughts 

Paddlers, Promises, and Poison by Tonya Kappes is the 16th A Camper & Criminals Cozy Mystery.  We return to Normal, Kentucky where Mae West and her friends are in an uproar over homes being built on land from the Daniel Boone National Park.  It has already begun affecting the habits of the local wildlife.  When the realtor of the development is found dead (by Mae of course), the Laundry Club Ladies have a new case.  I always enjoy visiting Normal with its charming shops, the gorgeous scenery of the Daniel Boone National Park, the cozy Happy Trials Campground, and its quirky residents.  Tonya Kappes’ has an engaging writing style.  It draws the reader right into the story and holds onto them until the very last page.  Paddlers, Promises, and Poison went by quickly thanks to its quick pace.   The whodunit has several good suspects, a red herring, and subtle clues.  We are left with some unanswered questions at the end regarding a couple of items that I hope that author will address in Insects, Ivy, and Investigations.  There is humor sprinkled throughout the story that had me laughing.  I just love the Southernisms, especially Dottie’s.  There is some good news for some people close to Mae.  I just love how Mae helped them out.  The ending left me wondering what is going to happen in the next book.  I would say more, but I do not want to spoil this charming tale for you.  Paddlers, Promises, and Poison is delightful Southern cozy mystery with Southern sweet tea, housing hubbub, a job in jeopardy, a puzzling poisoning, unjust government, and relationship queries.  

Paddlers, Promises, and Poison is available from Amazon*.  You can fIind the other A Camper & Criminals Cozy Mystery novels here (can be borrowed through Kindle Unlimited).  Tonya Kappes writes several other engaging series.  You can find Tonya Kappes' Amazon page here.  The next book in A Camper & Criminals Cozy Mystery series is Insects, Ivy, and Investigations.  Thank you for joining me today.  Phantoms and Felonies by Lucy Ness is planned for next time.  It is the 2nd A Haunted Mansion Mystery.  I hope that you have a fulfilling 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, March 24, 2021

Pine Creek Courtship by Amity Hope

Pine Creek Courtship

Book Summary

Pine Creek Courtship by Amity Hope has Emma Ziegler struggling to raise her siblings while managing the family farm.  Her Aunt Naomi’s solution is to sell the family farm to Amos Stoltzfus and have Emma become his bride.   The last thing Emma wishes to do is marry Amos who has a bad reputation.  Aunt Naomi also wants to take Ezekiel and Sadie, Emma’s siblings with her.  Levi Bontrager and Emma have been friends since they were children until he did something that drove a wedge between them.  When Levi hears the aunt’s plans, he steps in to state that Emma cannot wed anyone else because they are courting.  Emma is not comfortable lying so Levi suggests that they court.  This is Levi’s chance to win back Emma’s trust back as well as her heart.  Is there a hope for Emma and Levi?

My Thoughts

Pine Creek Courtship by Amity Hope is the first book in the Pine Creek Series.  I enjoyed reading this sweet Amish novel.  It was a nice change of pace from the other books that I have been reading and real life.  I thought Pine Creek Courtship was well-written with good characters and steady pacing.  I like Emma Ziegler who has been through so much.  She is working hard to maintain the family farm while caring for her younger siblings.  They also have the maple trees to care for as well (they tap the trees for the sap that they turn into maple syrup).  Emma can be stubborn though (she has her pride as well).  Levi Bontrager is a good man with a caring heart.  He loves Emma and wants to help her and keep her safe.  I like all the characters in the story especially Emma’s brother, Ezekiel.  Sadie, Emma’s sister, had a fondness for animals.  She has unique chickens (it was interesting learning about them) and raises goats (makes yummy cheese).  I love the drama in the story.  It gives the book additional depth and interest.  I like how the romance played out between Levi and Emma.  There are good values in the story.  I like how the Amish in this story care for their families and help others in the community.  I am looking forward to the next book in the Pine Creek series.  Pine Creek Courtship is a charming Amish tale with strong characters, a pastoral setting, delightful drama, a caring cousin, a rewarding romance, and sweet siblings.  

Pine Creek Courtship publishes March 30 and can be pre-ordered from Amazon*.  This is Amity Hope's first Amish novel.  I look forward to her next one.  Thank you for reading my review.  Tomorrow I am discussing Paddlers, Promises, and Poison by Tonya Kappes.  It is the 16th A Camper & Criminals Cozy Mystery.  I hope you have a positive 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, March 23, 2021

The Women of Chateau Lafayette by Stephanie Dray

The Women of Chateau Lafayette

Book Summary

An epic saga from New York Times bestselling author Stephanie Dray based on the true story of an extraordinary castle in the heart of France and the remarkable women bound by its legacy in three of humanity's darkest hours.

Most castles are protected by powerful men. This one by women...


A founding mother...

1774. Gently-bred noblewoman Adrienne Lafayette becomes her husband's political partner in the fight for American independence. But when their idealism sparks revolution in France and the guillotine threatens everything she holds dear, Adrienne must choose to renounce the complicated man she loves, or risk her life for a legacy that will inspire generations to come.


A daring visionary...

1914. Glittering New York socialite Beatrice Astor Chanler is a force of nature, daunted by nothing--not her humble beginnings, her crumbling marriage, or the outbreak of war. But after witnessing the devastation in France and delivering war-relief over dangerous seas, Beatrice takes on the challenge of a lifetime: convincing America to fight for what's right.


A reluctant resistor...

1940. French school-teacher and aspiring artist Marthe Simone has an orphan's self-reliance and wants nothing to do with war. But as the realities of Nazi occupation transform her life in the isolated castle where she came of age, she makes a discovery that calls into question who she is, and more importantly, who she is willing to become.


Intricately woven and beautifully told, The Women of Chateau Lafayette is a sweeping novel about duty and hope, love and courage, and the strength we find from standing together in honor of those who came before us.

About the Author

Stephanie Dray is a New York TimesWall Street Journal, USA Today bestselling author of historical women's fiction. Her award-winning work has been translated into eight languages. She lives near the nation's capital with her husband, cats, and history books.

My Thoughts

The Women of Chateau Lafayette by Stephanie Dray is unique historical novel.  I thought this book was well-written with developed characters.  We learn about the history of the Chateau Lafayette and three strong women.  It was fascinating learning about Lafayette and his wife, Adrienne as well as Beatrice Astor Chanler.  Beatrice is a bigger-than-life character and a fascinating woman.  She is a lively woman with a zest for life.  Beatrice was a determined woman who was intelligent and courageous.  I enjoyed Beatrice’s storyline the best (as you can tell).  Adrienne was a woman of strong faith and abiding principles.  It can be confusing switching between the three storylines as you try to keep track of the various characters.  I can tell the author did her research.  It is full of historical information from the three time periods (French Revolution, World War II, Benjamin Franklin, George Washington, slavery, anti-Semitism).  Stephanie Dray is a detail-oriented writer which brings the scenes to life.  I did feel that there was too much detail at times when a room or person would be described down to the tiniest detail.  This type of detail can slow down the pacing of the story.  The Women of Chateau Lafayette does contain some foul language, a lesbian flirtation, intimate situations, and violent situations.  This is a long story that could have done with some editing (it would have made it a better book in my opinion).  The Women of Chateau Lafayette is good historical novel that will appeal to those who love history.  I liked how the three storylines intertwined and provided a complete picture.  I appreciated the epilogue and author’s note. The Women of Chateau Lafayette is a well plotted book that intrigue historical fiction lovers.    

The Women of Chateau Lafayette publishes on March 30 and it is available from Amazon*.  You can find Stephanie Dray's other historical novels here.  If you enjoy reading detailed historical novels, then The Women of Chateau Lafayette is for you.  If in doubt, download a sample.  The pictures I used today are (in order):  Chateau Lafayette, Beatrice Astor Chanler, and Adrienne Lafayette.  Thank you for reading my review today.  Next time I am featuring Pine Creek Courtship by Amity Hope.  I hope that you have a tranquil 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.

Monday, March 22, 2021

Murder By Page One by Olivia Matthews: Excerpt and Review!


Murder Page One by Olivia Matthews

A Peach Coast Library Mystery

About Murder Page One


Murder by Page One: A Peach Coast Library Mystery 

Cozy Mystery 

1st in Series 

Publisher: Hallmark Publishing (March 23, 2021) 

Print length: 328 pages Digital 


If you love Hallmark mystery movies, you’ll love this cozy mystery with humor, intrigue, and a librarian amateur sleuth.

Marvey, a librarian, has moved from Brooklyn to a quirky small town in Georgia. When she’s not at the library organizing events for readers, she’s handcrafting book-themed jewelry and looking after her cranky cat. At times, her new life in the South still feels strange...and that’s before the discovery of the dead body in the bookstore.

After one of her friends becomes a suspect, Marvey sets out to solve the murder mystery. She even convinces Spence, the wealthy and charming newspaper owner, to help. With his ties to the community, her talents for research, and her fellow librarians’ knowledge, Marvey pursues the truth. But as she gets closer to it, could she be facing a deadly plot twist?

This first in series cozy mystery includes a free Hallmark original recipe for Classic Peach Cobbler.

About Olivia Matthews

Olivia Matthews is the cozy mystery pseudonym for Patricia Sargeant, a national best-selling, award-winning author. Her work has been featured in national publications such as Publishers Weekly, USA Today, Kirkus Reviews, Suspense Magazine, Mystery Scene Magazine, Library Journal and RT Book Reviews. For more information about Patricia and her work, visit

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My Thoughts

Murder By Page One by Olivia Matthews is the debut of A Peach Coast Library Mystery series.  Marvey Harris along with her cat, Phoenix has relocated to Peach Coast, Georgia where she is the library’s new Director of Community Engagement.  Jo Gomez owns To Be Read which is hosting a book signing of Coastal Fiction Writers.  Marvey is attending the signing with Spencer Holt, publisher and editor-in-chief of The Peach Coast Crier.  The event is starting, and Jo is worried that one of the author’s Fiona Lyle-Hayes is not in place.  The trio go to the backroom where Fiona was unpacking her books to find her dead.  Jo becomes the prime suspect of Deputy Jed Whatley which has her unnerved.  Jo asks Marvey to help prove her innocence.  Marvey with help from her friend’s sets out to discover who wanted Fiona permanently removed from circulation. I enjoyed reading Murder By Page One.  I thought Murder By Page One was well-written with steady pacing.  The author took the time to introduce Marvella Harris along with a variety of secondary characters. I look forward to getting to know Marvey and her friends better as the series progresses.  I enjoyed the descriptions of Peach Coast with its quaint shops and a library housed in a former bus depot.  The story is full of quaint southernisms.  The one that had me laughing the most was “Well, butter my butt and call me a biscuit.”  Gossip runs rampant in Peach Coast.  As with most rumors, there is only a grain of truth in them.  Peach cobbler was another recurring theme.  The townspeople seem to consume it in great quantities.  The whodunit had several suspects, misdirection, and good clues. I was able to identify the guilty party early, but I did not know why this person had committed the deed.  This is what kept me turning the pages.  Marvey needs to build the library’s patron list.   As she meets new people, she asks them, “Do you have a library card?”  I like how the questions unnerves some people.    You can tell that Marvey loves her job.  I look forward to reading the next A Peach Coast Library Mystery.  Murder By Page One is a charming new cozy mystery with rampant rumors, a departed author, a meddling mother, a determined deputy, and a sleuthing librarian.  


“It’s nice that you’ve all come to support Fiona.” I turned to Fiona’s friend. “Especially you, Mr. Pelt, coming from South Carolina.”

Willy glanced up from his wristwatch. He seemed surprised that I knew his name, then he noticed Nolan. Willy inclined his head in a silent greeting to Fiona’s business partner, the expression on his pale, square face pleasant but vague. He drove his fingers through his shock of thick auburn hair. “I’ve known Fiona’s family for years.”

“I wonder what Fiona will do now?” Nolan’s attention bounced from Jo to the rest of the group. “Will she give up her share of the business to write full-time?”

It was a good question, although I knew most authors continued to work full-time. Popular media’s depiction of fiction writing as a lucrative career was greatly exaggerated.

Betty snorted. “Well, she doesn’t need a job, now does she? Not like the rest of us. When Buddy died, he left her well provided for. The rest of us have to work for a living.”

The bitterness in her voice seemed to come from far more than envy of another person’s good fortune—literally and figuratively. Then I made the connection: Fiona Lyle-Hayes. Betty Rodgers-Hayes. There was a story there, one that could explain Betty’s hostile disposition.

“I was wondering the same thing.” Willy crossed his arms over his chest. His brown jersey and tan slacks were slightly wrinkled, as though he’d recently pulled both from a suitcase. Had he just driven into town from Beaufort? How long that had taken? “Her late uncle left her his vacation property. The house’s in good shape, and the land is pretty. It’s in a quiet area on the outskirts of town where she could write without being disturbed.”

Bobby shoved his broad hands into the front pockets of his navy blue cargo pants. “She’ll probably go on a lot of tours.” He sounded disappointed, as though he was going to miss Fiona’s company.

“This is ridiculous.” Jo’s words ended the discussion. Her eyes flashed with irritation as her gaze swung to the back of her store. Her ponytail arched behind her. “The signing has started, and Fiona still hasn’t brought out her books. Now, I’m going to have to hustle to help her set everything up.”

“I’ll help.” I hurried to follow Jo as she whirled toward a book aisle.      

“So will I.” Spence’s voice came from behind me.

Jo stopped long enough to give us a grateful look. “Thank you, but I can’t ask you to work for me. You’re here as guests.”

Spence arched a thick black eyebrow. “We’re also your friends. Let us help.”

“Okay, since you’ve twisted my arm.” Jo turned to continue her agitated march down the aisle. Her ponytail swung back and forth in a tsking motion. “I wish she’d let me and my team handle her books from the beginning. Unloading them now will be disruptive to the other authors who got here early and actually set up.”

I struggled to both keep up with Jo and speed read the titles on the passing shelves. We were in the young adult section. I loved young adult fantasy novels. I hesitated in front of a newly released title. Spence nudged me along.

I caught up with Jo. “This won’t endear her to the other members of her group.” I remembered the way Zelda had acted, as though Fiona was She-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named.

“I don’t think Fiona likes them, either.” Jo’s tone was dry.

“What makes you think that?” Spence asked.

Jo glanced at us over her shoulder. “It’s just a feeling I got from her when we were organizing this signing.”

Jo crossed into the storage room. Spence and I were right behind her. The room was dimly lit in comparison to the main part of the store. Empty boxes stood to the side, waiting to be flattened for recycling. Step ladders and carts were stored in a corner for easy access. Shelving affixed to the walls held office supplies such as paper, printer inks, packing tape, markers, and box cutters. In the center of the room, two matching dark wood tables balanced open boxes of books still to be shelved. On the far table, Fiona’s books had been unpacked, only needing a cart to carry them out. But who would operate the cart?

Was I the only one feeling uneasy? “Where’s Fiona?”

In front of me, Jo frowned as her store owner’s attention seemed to catalog the room’s contents. To my right, Spence appeared to be scanning the room, searching for the source of the disquiet. I stepped forward.

“Marvey, wait.” Spence’s voice stopped me.

But not before I saw the body, lying in a pool of blood on the far side of the rear table.

I must have rocketed a foot into the air before landing on semi-solid ground. Spence’s large, strong hands gripped my shoulders to steady me.

Jo gasped. “Oh, my God. Fiona.”

Are you ready to read Murder By Page One?  Murder by Page One is available from AmazonHallmark PublishingAppleBarnes & NobleBookshopFantastic Fiction, and Kobo.    Thank you for joining me today.  I hope I have helped you to find a new author and series.  I will be back tomorrow with a review of an upcoming book release.  I hope that you have a peachy day.  Take care, be kind, and Happy Reading!


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