Saturday, June 19, 2021

Bridge of Gold by Kimberley Woodhouse

 Bridge of Gold
Book Summary

Repairs on the Golden Gate Bridge Uncover a Century-Old Murder
Walk through Doors to the Past via a new series of historical stories of romance and adventure.
Underwater archaeologist Kayla Richardson is called to the Golden Gate Bridge where repairs to one of the towers uncovers two human remains from the late 1800s and the 1930s. The head of the bridge restoration is Steven Michaels, who dives with Kayla, and a friendship develops between them. But as the investigation heats up and gold is found that dates back to the gold rush, more complications come into play that threaten them both. Could clues leading to a Gold Rush era mystery that was first discovered during the building of the bridge still ignite an obsession worth killing for?
My Thoughts

Bridge of Gold by Kimberley Woodhouse is the third novel in Doors to the Past series.  I thought Bridge of Gold was well-written with developed characters.  It is a time slip novel told from two time periods and from multiple points of view.  It can be confusing in the beginning until you adjust (learn the characters).  I like that we also get the villains point-of-view in both time periods.  It makes the story more intriguing, and I like figuring out the identity of the bad guy.  The author did her research for this book.  She captured the 1930s and the construction of the Golden Gate Bridge.  It was interesting learning what went into making this beautiful and lengthy bridge.  The divers had their work cut out for them with the shifting currents and steep drop off.  I loved the addition of a sunken ship with treasure.  I like how the author tied the past and present together with a satisfying conclusion.  I appreciate it when the author makes sure that there are no loose ends.  I also liked how faith was incorporated into the story.  I enjoyed the descriptions of San Francisco along with those below water.  The authors word imagery allowed me to imagine seeing the treasure ship for the first time along with feeling the excitement.  The romances were clean and the historical one was sweet.  The author expertly weaves together the past and present into one pleasing tale.   Each novel in the Doors to the Past series can be read on its own.  Bridge of Gold is a compelling novel with greed, murder, a buried ship, sought after treasure, faith, and love.  

Bridge of Gold can be purchased from Amazon*.  The first two books in Doors to the Past series are The Lady in Residence and Hope Between the Pages.  You can find Kimberley Woodhouse's other novels here.  Thank you for stopping by today.  I will be back on Monday to share my thoughts on Edie's Home for Orphans by Gracie Taylor.  I hope that all of you have a relaxing weekend.  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, June 18, 2021

Deadly Delights by Laura Jensen Walker

Deadly Delights
Book Summary 

In Laura Jensen Walker's second Bookish Baker mystery, Teddie St. John enters a pie-baking contest. But her chances of winning plummet when she's suspected of killing one of the judges!

August in Lake Potawatomi, Wisconsin, always means one thing: the annual baking contest. Picture The Great British Baking Show, writ Midwestern. It's a huge draw for the upper crust of Wisconsin pastry aficionados. And, of course, bon vivant baker-turned-mystery writer Teddie St. John has a pie in the ring. The white vinyl baking tent boasts an array of folding tables housing each entrant's daily baked good. And at one of those tables sits the corpse of the head judge, his face half-buried in a delectable coconut cream pie.

The body in question belonged to notorious Les Morris. Les may have been getting on in years, but he hadn't outgrown his well-earned reputation for lechery. Now, Les is no more. But unfortunately, by his side lies Teddie's distinctive embossed rolling pin...covered with blood.

It's out of the baking pan, into the oven. A life sentence behind a lattice of prison bars and a tangle of rhu-barbed wire will never do, and Teddie's quick wit and bohemian charm won't save her from the long spatula of the law. So, with the help of her friends, she'll concoct a recipe to clear her name--if the real killer doesn't ice her first.
My Thoughts 

Deadly Delights by Laura Jensen Walker has readers returning to Lake Potawatomi, Wisconsin in August where it is time for the annual baking competition.  Teddie St. John finds herself a murder suspect when her grandmother’s rolling pin is used to murder Les Morris.  With help from her friends, Teddie works to prove her innocence.  Deadly Delights is the 2nd book in A Bookish Baker Mystery series.  It can be read as a standalone if you have not indulged in Murder Most Sweet.  It contains good writing with varied pacing. There are some slow sections due to lack of action.   Most of the activity takes place near the end of the book (the last fifty pages or so).  Teddie St. John is a developed character. Teddie is a cozy mystery writer and baker who has had a double mastectomy.  She chose not to have reconstruction surgery and makes light of her figure.  It is great that Teddie is comfortable in her own skin.  I like that the author is addressing the issue of breast cancer (in a compassionate way) and how a woman deals with the aftermath.  Each woman must choose her own path.  I wish the secondary characters were as fleshed out as our main one.  There are mouthwatering descriptions of baked goods (some of the recipes are at the end of the book including one for Peanut Butter Blossoms).  The mystery starts off on a humorous note with Les Morris being found face down in a contestant’s pie.  There are several good suspects along with misdirection.  I like how Teddie’s friends help to clear her name.  They get themselves into some noteworthy situations that will have readers laughing.  The author decided to add in what Teddie’s dog was thinking which I found odd since this is not a paranormal novel (it just did not go with the book).  I enjoyed the sweet and touching ending that will have readers smiling.  Deadly Delights is a lighthearted cozy mystery with a lecherous Les, sweet treats, caring chums, a ruined rolling pin, and a chocolate cake conundrum.  

Deadly Delights is available from Amazon*.  The first book in A Bookish Baker Mystery series is Murder Most Sweet.  You can find Laura Jensen Walker's other books here.  Thank you for joining me today.   Tomorrow I am featuring Bridge of Gold by Kimberley Woodhouse.  It is the 3rd book in Doors to the Past series.  I hope that you have a sweet 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.

Thursday, June 17, 2021

Samuel's Return by Susan Lantz Simpson

Book Summary

The first scent of blooming flowers, fresh green fields, and invigorating days of sunshine. A Southern Maryland Amish spring bursts with hope, bright promise--and a practical young widow's chance to try love anew...

With two lively daughters, an active newborn, and a huge farm to tend, Lena Troyer has no time for impossible what-ifs. She just can't let herself be distracted by Samuel Mast's unexpected return. Even though her childhood sweetheart became the man she longed to marry, Samuel never saw or wrote Lena again after his family abruptly moved away. Now a widow, Lena is determined to keep Samuel's helpful ways and irresistible good humor at arm's length--no matter how often he's there when she needs him most...

A restless father with a shameful secret was the reason Samuel's many letters never got to Lena. And it's why Samuel can't bring himself to tell Lena the truth--though he's doing everything he can to regain her trust and prove he's worthy of the resourceful woman she's become. But as a rival for his affections complicates matters, Samuel and Lena must somehow put the past to rest--and believe that faith, honesty, and rekindled love will be more than enough to finally build a family together...
My Thoughts

Samuel’s Return by Susan Lantz Simpson is the 6th novel in The Amish of Southern Maryland series.  It can be read as a standalone.  The book has good writing with relatable characters.  The book moved along at a steady pace for the most part.  There were a couple of slow sections in the middle.  I thought Lena’s girls were delightful.  They were such sweethearts.  I cannot imagine, though, asking a four-year-old to watch after two younger siblings.  I see a lot of responsibility in Mary’s future.  I loved that we get to see Becky Zook (from The Reconciliation) get married and have her baby.  Becky certainly deserves a happy ending as well as Atlee. Bishop Menno was a great character.  He is the kind of bishop a community needs (kind, sympathetic, watchful, clever, good sense of humor).  I loved his reaction to Sarah and her pies. There is humor scattered throughout that I enjoyed.  I laughed often while reading Samuel’s Return.  I did find Lena frustrating at times.  The way she refused to listen to Samuel and kept running from him.  I thought Lena acted immature considering she is a widow with three children (what type of example is she setting for her eldest who is very observant).  I also found the story to be predictable. Samuel trying to woo Lena and Lena avoiding Samuel makes for a long book.  Plus, we know everything our characters are thinking and feeling.  I felt the book needed something else to give it more depth and substance.  Samuel’s Return is a sweet Amish tale.  I did feel it could have been shortened.  Some of the themes in Samuel’s Return are trust, forgiveness, shame, hope, and faith.  Another one is trusting God.  My favorite phrase from Samuel’s Return is, “People kumm in all shapes and sizes.  The Lord Gott made and loves us all.”  Samuel’s Return is a charming Amish tale with children’s clatter and chatter, a frolic with friends, a benevolent bishop, pitiful pies, strong storms, and a lasting love.

Samuel's Return can be obtained from Amazon*.  You can find the other novels in The Amish of Southern Maryland series here.  The Promise (first book in series) is currently $1.99 on Amazon (kindle version).  The Reconciliation (third book in series) can be borrowed through Kindle Unlimited.  You can find Susan Lantz Simpson's other novels here.  Thank you for reading my review today.  Tomorrow I am featuring Deadly Delights by Laura Jensen Walker.  It is the 2nd A Bookish Baker Mystery.  I hope that you have a heartwarming 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, June 16, 2021

Murder at Madison Square Garden by Linda Shenton Matchett: Review & Giveaway!


About the Book

Book:  Murder at Madison Square Garden

Author: Linda Shenton Matchett

Genre: Historical Mystery

Release date: July 15, 2020

The dream of a lifetime becomes a nightmare.

Photojournalist Theodora “Teddy” Schafer’s career has hit the skids thanks to rumors of plagiarism. With any luck, a photo spread with Charles Lindbergh at the America First Rally will salvage her reputation. After an attempted assassination of Lindbergh leaves another man dead, Teddy is left holding the gun. Literally. Can she prove her innocence before the police lock her up for a murder she didn’t commit?

Private Investigator Ric Bogart wants nothing to do with women after his wife cleaned out their bank account and left him for another man, but he can’t ignore the feeling he’s supposed to help the scrappy, female reporter who is arrested for murder at the America First rally. Can he believe her claims of innocence and find the real killer without letting Teddy steal his heart?
Click here to get your copy!

About the Author

Bestselling author of over twenty books, Linda Shenton Matchett writes about ordinary people who did extraordinary things in days gone by. A volunteer docent and archivist for the Wright Museum of WWII, Linda is currently working with the curator to create her first exhibit, Shaped by Conflict that will be on display from May 1 to June 15, 2021. She is a native of Baltimore, Maryland, and was born a stone’s throw from Fort McHenry. Linda has lived in historical places all her life and is now located in central New Hampshire where her favorite activities include exploring historic sites and immersing herself in the imaginary worlds created by other authors.

More from Linda

Dear readers:

I grew up in New Jersey and often went into New York City for school field trips and family visits. One of my favorite places to go was Madison Square Garden. I have lots of happy memories, so I wondered if I could possibly set a book there. I spent a lovely afternoon digging into the building’s past and learning about the important, historic events that took place there. When I discovered that aviator Charles Lindbergh spoke at the Garden about the controversial topic of U.S. isolationism prior to America’s entry into WWII, I knew I had the beginning of a story.

My protagonist came about during one of my shifts as a volunteer docent at the Wright Museum of WWII. While talking to one of our guests about our wartime print and broadcast journalism display, the conversation turned to the role that women played. Therese Bonney was a one of the photojournalists highlighted in the exhibit. As I studied her picture, I was struck by her determination in the set of her jaw and look in her eyes. My protagonist Theodora “Teddy” Schafer was born.

I enjoyed my trip down Memory Lane at the Garden during my research and had fun subjecting Teddy to uncomfortable situations as she tried to prove her innocence. But most of all, I hope her story honors the men and women who served in countless ways during this difficult time in history.

Enjoy Murder at Madison Square Garden.


My Thoughts

Murder at Madison Square Garden by Linda Shenton Matchett has Teddy Schafer, a photojournalist, taking pictures of Charles Lindbergh at an America First Rally.  She notices a man with a gun hidden in the tress and tries to stop him.  Teddy ends up with the gun in her hand when the police arrive on the scene while the shooter disappears.  Teddy is accused of murder and the situation looks bleak.  Private Investigator Richard “Ric” Bogart finds himself helping Teddy after being nudged by God.  They need to follow a trail of breadcrumbs if they are to clear Teddy or come up with a brainchild.  If they cannot crack the case, Teddy will take a powder in a black and white.  This is the first novel that I have read by Linda Shenton Matchett.  I thought the author captured the time-period.  I enjoyed the references to songs and movies from the era along with the clothing.  The lingo a private eye would have used was missing though along with slang.  The mystery was interesting with several good suspects.  I liked the action that kept the story lively.  The chemistry between Ric and Teddy was palpable.  I enjoyed their witty repartee.  The ending of Murder at Madison Square Garden will leave you smiling.  Murder at Madison Square Garden is hot diggity dog with a cute cookie, a dreamboat detective, a glitterati aviator, a killer diller cop, and one dead drip.  


To celebrate her tour, Linda is giving away the grand prize of a $50 Visa Gift Card.  Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click here to enter. Good Luck!  

Murder at Madison Square Garden is available from Amazon*.  You can find Linda Shenton Matchett's other novels here.  Thank you for visiting today.  I will return tomorrow with my thoughts on Samuel's Return by Susan Lantz Simpson.  It is the 6th book in The Amish of Southern Maryland.  I hope that all of you have an inspiring day.  Do not forget to leave a comment for an extra entry.  Take care, be kind, and Happy Reading!


The Avid Reader 

Blog Stops

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, June 15

Book Reviews From an Avid Reader, June 16

The Avid Reader, June 16

Daysong Reflections, June 17

Texas Book-aholic, June 18

Vicky Sluiter, June 18

Inklings and notions, June 19

For Him and My Family, June 20

Blossoms and Blessings, June 20

Betti Mace, June 21

deb’s Book Review, June 22

Blogging With Carol, June 22

Locks, Hooks and Books, June 23

Connie’s History Classroom, June 24

Gina Holder, Author and Blogger, June 25 (Author Interview)

Ashley’s Clean Book Reviews, June 25

A Modern Day Fairy Tale, June 26

Happily Managing a Household of Boys, June 26

Musings of a Sassy Bookish Mama, June 27

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, June 28

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

Tuesday, June 15, 2021

Carried to the Grave and Other Stories by Leslie Budewitz

 Carried to the Grave & Other Stories
Book Summary

In her A Food Lovers’ Village Mysteries, Agatha Award-winning author Leslie Budewitz introduces us to Jewel Bay, a tight-knit Montana community that thrives on tourism and farm-to-table fare. Featuring Erin Murphy, beloved proprietor of the Merc—a century-old general store converted into a local foods market—each book brings us closer to the folks who call Jewel Bay home, and the cunning culprits in their midst.

In this delicious new collection of five short stories and one novella, she takes us further into the heart of Jewel Bay—from the playhouse to the Merc, from funerals to food festivals—with equal parts humor, suspense, and compassion, and no shortage of murder to spice up the menu . . .

In CARRIED TO THE GRAVE, a long-hidden family secret refuses to be put to rest.

Jewel Bay’s community food festival serves up the perfect opportunity for a devious killer with an appetite for murder in POT LUCK.

In THE CHRISTMAS STRANGER, a small gesture by a mysterious man turns out to change lives . . . and much more.

A romantic getaway to a secluded beach town in Mexico provides a deadly remedy for a couple’s trouble at home in A DEATH IN YELAPA.

As the local playhouse opens for the season, it’s curtains for a stage manager with a secret in PUT ON A DYING FACE.

And in AN UNHOLY DEATH, when Kate and Paddy Murphy open Murphy’s Mercantile in 1910, they know making a go of it in rough-and-tumble Montana will be hard work, but for a local preacher, it’s murder.
My Thoughts

Carried to the Grave and Other Stories by Leslie Budewitz contains tales involving the characters from A Food Lover’s Village Mystery series.  Erin Murphy in Jewel Bay, Montana runs the Merc, a local food market.  There are five short stories and one novella in this book.  This is a nice addition to the series. Each storyline ties back to Erin Murphy and/or The Merc.  We get to see how Adam went from friend to husband in this collection.  I especially enjoyed An Unholy Death where we get to go back to the opening of The Mercantile.  I thought the stories were well-written and engaging. We get a chance to explore Jewel Bay and get to know the unique characters (past and present) that reside in the town a little better.  Fans of the series will enjoy these fun mysteries.  You can read all at once or one at a time. Carried to the Grave and Other Stories contains humor, romance, mystery, kindness, and more than a little mayhem.  

Carried to the Grave and Other Stories is available from Amazon*.  You can find the novels in A Food Lover's Village Mystery series here.  You can find Leslie Budewitz's other novels here.  Thank you for visiting today.  Tomorrow I am a stop on the Celebrate Lit Tour for Murder at Madison Square Garden by Linda Shenton Matchett.  I hope that you have a friendly 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, June 14, 2021

The Amish Secret Wish by Laura V. Hilton

 The Amish Secret Wish 
Book Summary 

As a columnist for the The Budget, with a secret byline of GHB, Hallie Brunstettler writes about community news, and sometimes alludes to her overwhelming loneliness. Her columns portray a woman who goes from day to day showing a brave face to the world while longing to know how it would feel if one person truly cared about her....

Hezekiah "Kiah" Esh cares. He's been reading her articles for months. Nursing his own broken heart, he writes to GHB on a whim and is thrilled to receive a response. Soon, the two become pen pals, but his new friend never signs her real name--just her initials. Wanting to meet her in real life, Kiah travels to Hidden Springs, where the newspaper is based. On the way, he meets Hallie, a waitress at the Amish-owned diner, who serves Kiah's pie along with some much-needed companionship. She also discourages him from looking into GHB's identity.

Over the next week, Kiah and Hallie spend more and more time together. Kiah is conflicted... Should he abide by Hallie's advice to forget about his pen pal's identity? But soon Kiah does find GHB, a woman who is as beautiful and kind as he imagined she would be. The only problem? She is Hallie. Why did she keep this secret? And will she ever be willing to share her true feelings?
My Thoughts 

The Amish Secret Wish by Laura V. Hilton is the 3rd Hidden Springs novel.  While it can be read as a standalone, I believe it works better if read after the other two books in the series.  Hallie Brunstetter suffered deeply after losing her fiancĂ©, Toby.  Being the community’s scribe for The Budget has helped her to heal.  She writes under her initials GHB because the bishop has decreed that no one can know her identity.  Kiah Esh suffered a heartbreak as well.  He found himself enjoying GHB’s articles and decided to write to her.  The two have become pen pals.  Kiah has fallen in love with his pen pal and has come to Hidden Springs to find her.  He meets Hallie whom he finds intriguing and begins spending time with her.  Kiah soon wishes that GHB was Hallie.  He is unsure how to proceed.  The Amish Secret Wish is a humorous Amish tale.  I had trouble in the beginning getting into the story.  The beginning felt stilted and that I should know information that had yet to be provided (unless you read the prior books).  The story gets better after the first couple of chapters.  I enjoyed the humorous situations scattered throughout the story.  I giggled frequently while reading.  Kiah got himself into a number of situations that caused chaos.  I did feel that Hallie and Kiah were immature characters.  They reminded me of teenagers, not adults who were contemplating marriage.  I loved Bishop Nathan along with George, Kiah’s parents, Hallie’s parents, and Hallie’s sister, Joy.  The situation with Kiah’s father and Kiah’s ex-girlfriend felt contrived.  I found the ending to be rushed and abrupt.  The Amish Secret Wish needed an epilogue to make it feel complete.  This is a sweet, fun story that is good for a younger audience.  I feel that some rewriting and editing were needed.  I am not, though, sorry that I read this story.  It made me laugh and smile which I needed.   Misconceptions, misunderstandings, and mayhem abound in The Amish Secret Wish.  The Amish Secret Wish is an amusing tale with assassinated ants, a wily woodpecker, a droll disguise, a broken buggy, patient parents, and a wary whippersnapper.  

The Amish Secret Wish is available from Amazon*.  The first two books in the Hidden Springs series are The Amish Wedding Promise and The Amish Christmas Gift. You can find Laura V. Hilton's other novels here.  Thank you for joining me today.  Next time I am featuring Carried to the Grave and Other Stories by Leslie Budewitz.  I hope that you have a pleasant 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, June 12, 2021

Come Back to Me by Jody Hedlund

 Come Back to Me
Book Summary

The ultimate cure that could heal any disease? Crazy.

That's exactly what research scientist Marian Creighton has always believed about her father's quest, even if it does stem from a desire to save her sister Ellen from the genetic disease that stole their mother from them. But when her father falls into a coma after drinking a. vial of holy water believed to contain traces of residue from the Tree of Life, Marian must question all of her assumptions. He's left behind tantalizing clues that suggest he's crossed back in time. Insane. Until Marian tests his theories and finds herself in the Middle Ages during a dangerous peasant uprising.

William Durham, a valiant knight comes to Marian's rescue and offers her protection . . . as his wife. The longer Marian stays in the past, the more she cares about William. Can she ever find her father and make it back to the present to heal her sister? And when the time comes to leave, will she want to?

Bestselling author Jody Hedlund is your guide down the twisting waters of time to a volatile era of superstition, revolts, and chivalry in this suspenseful story.
My Thoughts

Come Back to Me by Jody Hedlund is the debut of Waters of Time series.  Marian Creighton is a research scientist who travels to England to be with her father when he falls into a coma.  Following the clues he left for her, Marian ends up in 1381 where she meets William Durham.  Marian finds herself stuck in the turbulent Middle Ages with a handsome knight.  Can she find a way to return back to her own time?  Will she want to return after her adventures?  Come Back to Me is an interesting story.  I thought it contained good writing with solid characters.  Marian is a smart, strong, and stubborn woman.  She is a research scientist who has devoted her life to her work.  William Durham is a handsome (we are told this often), strong, caring man.  He does his duty to his family and his King.  Something from his past is tormenting him.  It did take me some time to get into the story.  I liked that Marian goes back in time trying to help her father and sister.  The author did her research for this story.  She captured the time period with her vivid descriptions.  I could imagine the area, the castle, the clothing, and more from the word imagery.  The one misstep was the way Marian spoke.  It would have been immediately obvious she was not from the Middle Ages by the way she talked (and her cleanliness).  I was curious how the people understood her and why no one cried “witch”.   The time travel theory was thought out and described in detail.  It was unique and I liked how it tied to the Bible.  I did feel that the details were repeated too often.   I also felt that the romance was a little over-the-top.  It became the focus of the book.  The glances, touches, kisses, and desires were too much.  There are sensual scenes (nothing explicit) as well.  This was too much for me and for Christian novel.  The faith element is not strong (prayer).  I expected it to be more prevalent.  I was also left with unanswered questions at the end of the book (I hope they are addressed in the next book).  There were some compelling elements in Come Back to Me.  I enjoyed identifying the mole.  I wish there had been more about the competitors after the ultimate cure.  There was action, mystery, and suspense during these sections.  I am interested enough to read the next Waters of Time novel.  Come Back to Me is an intriguing time-travel novel with Middle Ages mayhem, malodorous masses, a curious coma, a potent potion, and a handsome hero. 
Come Back to Me can be purchased from Amazon*.  You can find Jody Hedlund's other novels here.  Thank you for visiting today.  Tomorrow I am taking the day off.  My fibromyalgia is flaring up so I need to rest.  I will return, hopefully, on Monday with my thoughts on my latest read.  I hope that you have a relaxing and joyful weekend.  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, June 11, 2021

Reserved for Murder by Victoria Gilbert

 Reserved for Murder

Book Summary

Meeting your favorite author in the flesh can be the chance of a lifetime. But for one unlucky fan, her plum place in line at a book signing will lead to her untimely demise.

Beaufort, North Carolina, is home to Chapters Bed and Breakfast, owned and operated by former schoolteacher Charlotte Reed. This historic 18th-century inn draws in voracious readers from far and wide with its lovingly curated special events celebrating a host of genres and authors.

On this sunny July weekend, a visit by one of the biggest names in romantic fantasy attracts throngs of admirers to the quaint coastal village. That's not ideal, as the author retreated to Chapters to get away from it all for a while. No matter--she'll appease her fans with a "Tea and Talk" meet-and-greet at the B&B celebrating her bestselling series (starring a devilishly dashing, time-traveling pirate), follow that up with a quick book signing at Bookwaves, the hip indie bookstore across town, and spend the remainder of the weekend in delightful repose.

But when the president of the reclusive writer's fan club is found dead in the harbor by the Beaufort docks--done in by a blunt-force blow to the head--it's up to Charlotte Reed, her neighbor Ellen, and Ellen's trusty Yorkshire terrier to sniff out the killer. Because if they can't, a spectacularly successful book series--and its author--may come to a sudden, lethal conclusion.
My Thoughts

Reserved for Murder by Victoria Gilbert is the 2nd book in A Book Lover’s B & Mystery series.  It can be read as a standalone if you have not had the time to delve into Booked for Death. However, you would understand more about Isabella, Charlotte’s aunt who left her the house, if you read Booked for Death.  I thought Reserved for Murder was well-written with good characters.  I like that we get to know a little more Charlotte Reed and her aunt.  Charlotte is a retired schoolteacher who now runs a literary themed bed and breakfast called Chapter’s.  Each room features a different genre of books (romance and mystery for example).  I love the descriptions of Chapter’s. I would love to own this home filled with books. In Reserved for Murder a bestselling author is coming to stay along with three fans who won a contest.  There will be a special event as well.  Unfortunately, one of the fans who is also president of the author’s fan club ends up dead.  Charlotte, of course, is going to investigate.  There are several suspects in this whodunit along with misdirection to keep readers off the trail of the real killer. I did find it a cinch to identify the guilty party.  I can also guess the why based on the details provided.   I like putting together the various pieces and arriving at the conclusion (like putting together a puzzle).  The more I read, the more my suspicions were confirmed.  There is a subplot involving Charlotte’s neighbor and her guest, Gavin.  Personally, I do not feel the spy element adds anything to the story.  It did not go with the rest of the book.  There is, though, sparks between Gavin and Charlotte.  There is a significant amount of dialogue in this story as they discuss the mystery and other events.  I could have done with less talking and more action.  I enjoyed Booked for Death more than I did Reserved for Murder.  I thought this story moved along at a slower pace which is courtesy of the dialogue.  I like that we get a glimpse into the world of publishing and fanfiction.  Charlotte has a great circle of friends.  They are a friendly bunch who are there for each other.  Reserved for Murder is a literary cozy mystery with a weary writer, a frustrating fan, a circumspect spy, a mystifying murder, suspicious suspects, and an inquisitive inn owner.  

Reserved for Murder can be obtained from Amazon*.  Booked for Death is the first book in A Book Lover's Mystery series.  You can find the Victoria Gilbert's other novels here.  Thank you for visiting today. I am switching gears tomorrow with Come Back to Me by Jody Hedlund.  It is the first book in Waters of Time series.  I hope that each of you have 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.

Thursday, June 10, 2021

Every Window Filled with Light by Sheila Stovall: Review & Giveaway!


About the Book

Book:  Every Window Filled with Light

Author: Shelia Stovall

Genre: Contemporary Women’s Christian Fiction

Release date: April 2, 2021

Welcome to Weldon, Kentucky, where the only things the locals love more than fried pies are gossip and match-making.

Librarian Emma Baker, a young and childless widow, believes her dream to build a family is over. It’s been two years since a student accidentally stabbed Emma’s husband to death, and her grief has stifled any interest in romance—until she meets Pastor Luke Davis. But when Emma learns Luke is counseling her husband’s killer fresh out of jail, her temper gets in the way.

Meanwhile, Emma discovers twelve-year-old Harley, abandoned by her drug-addict mother, hiding in the library, and takes the girl in as her foster mom. Then a young mother is made homeless by an apartment fire, and Emma opens her home again. One person and one prayer at a time, Emma begins to discover hope.

If Emma can yield and offer forgiveness to her husband’s killer, perhaps she’ll be able to piece together the broken parts of her heart…and the broken people who enter her life…to form a new family and maybe even have a second chance at love.

Click here to get your copy!

About the Author

Shelia Stovall is the director of a small-town library in southern Kentucky, where only strangers mention her last name, and the children call her Miss Shelia.

Shelia and her husband Michael live on a farm, and she enjoys taking daily rambles with their three dogs to the creek. Spending time with family, especially her grandchildren, is her all-time favorite thing. The only hobby Shelia loves more than reading uplifting stories of hope is writing them.

More from Shelia

When I was younger, I daydreamed about becoming an author, but it wasn’t something I pursued. I wrote a few short stories for fun, but I poured my time and energy into my children and career.

In the summer of 2011, I participated in a Bible study called Jonah by Priscilla Shirer. One evening, our facilitator asked us to meditate on the question, What does God want you to do that you don’t want to do.  I sat feeling smug as the others prayed. I’d already signed up for a short-term mission trip to Africa, which I hadn’t wanted to do. But as I sat in the quiet, God spoke to me. Write a book for me. My heartbeat quickened as God gave me the opening and the ending of the story. I envisioned a large two-story yellow Victorian home with every Window filled with light.

God’s request filled me with panic, and the workbook page remained blank. The thought of someone reading God’s request made my face hot. Who was I to think I could be an author? Finally, I made a feeble attempt, but it was too hard.

My Ninevah was Africa. I turned my thoughts and efforts to preparing to go to Niger in December 2011. After the trip, all I could think about was returning to Africa. Our translators were visiting the US. It thrilled me when they accepted my invitation to stay overnight in my home. While preparing for their visit, I discovered my laptop under the bed covered in dust. I gulped as I remembered God asking me to write a book. With trepidation, I opened the computer and read the first few pages of the story I’d started. It wasn’t terrible, but it wasn’t great. I whined to God. I don’t have the skills or the talent. I don’t know how to write a book.

Then, I received an email in my work email account promoting a Christian writers’ conference. To this day, it is still the only email I’ve received at work advertising a writers’ conference. I could hardly breathe as I read the email promoting the writers’ workshop to be held at East Texas Baptist University in Marshall, TX—a long way from Kentucky. I shared everything with my husband, and he encouraged me to go even though we didn’t have the money. He reminded me we had a travel credit in our airline account because of connection problems during our first trip to Africa, and so, I packed my bags.

When I attended the conference, two instructors, New York Times best-selling author Lisa Wingate and Judy Christie, changed my life when they encouraged me to finish the story. Judy asked me to commit to writing one hour a day, and she predicted I’d finish the first draft by Thanksgiving if I’d stick with it. The conference was held in October, and I thought her expectations impossible. I didn’t meet her goal, but I finished the first draft on 12/12/12. I’ll never forget that morning. It’s a good thing I had no idea of the work ahead of me.

Judy was kind enough to give me the email address of her award-winning editor Jamie Clarke Chavez. I sent the first three chapters to Jamie, and my mouth dropped open when she agreed to work with me. Today, she is someone I consider a dear friend. Writers have asked me, How did you get Jamie Chavez to work with you. She must have taken pity on me. I cringe as I remember those first chapters. I consider Jamie a gift from God.

Through the years of hard work, God has been faithful to provide me with encouragement and help along the road to publication. If there is anything good in Every Window Filled with Light, it is from Him and the people he sent to aid me. The best blessings of the writing journey are the friendships I’ve made along the way.

I hope you’ll read Every Window Filled with Light or give it to someone who needs an uplifting story of hope. If there’s a person you know who doesn’t know Christ and doesn’t want to listen to a witness, this is a book you can share. I hope the reader will be so drawn into the story they won’t realize they are being exposed to God’s salvation plan until it’s too late.

Thank you for taking the time to learn about why I wrote Every Window Filled with Light. Has God ever asked you to do something you didn’t want to do?  I’d love to hear your story.

Warm regards,


My Thoughts

Every Window Filled with Light by Sheila Stovall is the debut of The Weldon Novels. This is a charming story about library director, Emma Baker who is a widow.  She is just starting to emerge from her grief, but sadness still plagues her at the idea of her home not being filled with light and laughter.  Emma then finds Harley camping out in the library.  Emma becomes a foster mother to the prickly teen.  Emma and Harley are in for a bumpy road.  After a beginning that had me cringing (I am not a fan of slimy creatures), I became immersed into the story.  It contains good writing with developed characters and steady pacing.  I liked seeing the main characters grow as the story progressed.  I enjoyed the charming setting of Weldon, Kentucky.  It is a sweet Southern town with friendly residents who look out for each other.  We get to see true Southern hospitality. Emma belongs to a wonderful church family.  I like how they help each other out.  Faith is prominently featured in Every Window Filled with Light.  Trusting God, forgiveness, and prayer are a couple of the topics addressed.  Except for a mild swear word in the story (repeated at least twice), this is a clean Christian story.  Every Window Filled with Light is a heartwarming story about forgiveness, having hope, finding family, good friends, and relying on God.  Every Window Filled with Light is a touching tale with flavorsome fried pies, a troubled teen, a marvelous Victorian, a bouncy baby, a sweet Schnauzer, scrumptious cookies, and absorbing books. 


To celebrate her tour, Shelia is giving away the grand prize package of a themed gift basket from Habegger’s Amish Market.  Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click here to enter.  Good Luck!  

Every Window Filled with Light is available from Amazon*.  You can borrow it for free if you are a Kindle Unlimited member.  Thank you for joining me today.  Do not forget to leave a comment for extra entries in the giveaway.  I will be back tomorrow to share my thoughts on Reserved for Murder by Victoria Gilbert.  It is the 2nd novel in A Book Lover's B&B Mystery.  I hope everyone has an uplifting day.  Take care, be kind, and Happy Reading!


The Avid Reader 

Blog Stops

Book Reviews From an Avid Reader, June 10

The Avid Reader, June 10

Through the Fire blogs, June 11

Ashley’s Clean Book Reviews, June 11

Texas Book-aholic, June 12

Cats in the Cradle Blog, June 12

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, June 13

For Him and My Family, June 14

CarpeDiem, June 14

Abba’s Prayer Warrior Princess, June 15

Inklings and notions, June 16

Just Writing, June 16

Older & Smarter?, June 17

Rebecca Tews, June 18

deb’s Book Review, June 18

Locks, Hooks and Books, June 19

Because I said so — and other adventures in Parenting, June 20

Happily Managing a Household of Boys, June 20

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, June 21

A Modern Day Fairy Tale, June 22

Mary Hake, June 22

Musings of a Sassy Bookish Mama, June 23

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