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Sweet Tea and Secrets–a web of lies

Sweet Tea and Secrets

by Joy Avon

Sweet Tea and SecretsLike the main character, Callie Aspen, the plot of Sweet Tea and Secrets seems to exist in limbo in Joy Avon’s latest cozy mystery. Callie has quit a job she loves as an international tour guide and moved back to Heart’s Harbor to help her Aunt Iphy run Book Tea, the local tea shop. She is waiting for a local rental to be restored to livable condition. She doesn’t actually contribute much help to the tea room in this book. To top it off, Deputy Falk, an additional enticement when she decided to move, seems less than enthusiastic about Callie’s return to town.

The plot follows the same erratic pacing and intensity as we see in Callie’s personal life. Callie gets pulled into the investigation of a cold murder case that revolves around a web of lies. It is hard for Callie and the reader to know which characters are reliable. My interest would ramp up, and then I would find myself wondering when the book would end. The ending was a surprise in regards to the mystery, and the author didn’t leave any loose ends. There were a number of subplots that were interesting but sometimes too distracting when acting as red herrings.  I was glad Callie’s personal relationship with Falk showed forward progress. I would read another book in the series, but I hope it will have more of a focus on the tea room like the first books in the series do.

I would like to extend my thanks to netgalley.com and to Crooked Lane Books for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Rating:  4/5

Category: Mystery

Notes: #2 in the Book Tea Shop Mystery Series

 

Publication:   June 11, 2019—Crooked Lane Books

Memorable Lines:

But nothing happened. Just those lights teasing her from the darkness. Telling her she wasn’t alone.

“So far everybody seems to have been lying about everything.”

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Flower Power Trip–flowers at the heart of a mystery

Flower Power Trip

by James J. Cudney

Flower Power TripThe third cozy in the Braxton Campus Mystery series does not disappoint its fans nor leave out new readers. It begins with a helpful Who’s Who briefly describing the characters in the series. The first chapter follows up  with a summary of the action in the first two books as told by the main character Kellan, while getting the plot for the new book underway.

Kellan discovers a dead body and again finds himself in the middle of a homicide investigation. Flower Power Trip swirls delightfully with interesting characters, a multitude of clues, and humorous repartee. Several threads continue on from previous books: Kellan’s rocky relationships with his boss Myriam and Sheriff April Montague, Nana D’s bid for the mayoral seat, and Kellan’s presumed dead wife Francesca with ties to a mob family. There are also romantic conflicts and more than a little danger.

Rating: 5/5

Category: Mystery

Notes: #3 in the Braxton Campus Mystery Series but works quite well as a standalone

Publication:   March 30, 2019—Creativia 

Memorable Lines:

Helena recently celebrated her birthday by doing a pub crawl across all four villages in Wharton County. Eight hours, eight bars, eight different drinks. I wouldn’t have survived that level of commitment.

…”you are nothing but a nosy, interfering, non-stop questioning, painful wart on the tip of my pinky toe that has aggravated me beyond any reasonable expectation.”

…you must always have more physical books than e-books. I wanted Emma to experience a multitude of technology at her fingertips from an early age, but she also needed to respect and cherish all that our country had accomplished in the history of bookmaking and printing.

Bad Pick–goat yoga?

Bad Pick

by Linda Lovely

Bad PickBrie Hooker, a South Carolina aspiring vegan chef, teams up with her yoga instructor and a few friends to start a goat yoga class. That’s a perfect match because Brie is also helping her aunt with 500 goats on her goat farm where they make and sell goat cheese. Also Brie is trying to open a vegan B&B in a semi-dilapidated mansion her aunts bought for her fulfilling a long time dream.

You’ll just have to read this fast-paced cozy mystery to discover how goat yoga and a B&B can be essential components of a mystery with murders, arson, and blackmail. Throw in family relationships, a quirky best friend, and two competing bachelors, and you have Bad Pick, Linda Lovely’s latest humorous cozy you won’t want to put down.

I would like to extend my thanks to Edelweiss and to Henery Press for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 5/5

Category: Mystery

Notes: 1. I had no idea “goat yoga” is actually a type of yoga. A quick Internet search convinced me that it is something people actually pay money to do. Are any of you goat yoga aficionados?

2. #3 in the Brie Hooker Mystery Series. It works as a standalone, but I think I enjoyed it more having read the other two books in the series.

Publication:   April 16, 2019—Henery Press

Memorable Lines:

“There’s more to yoga than meditation. What the goats provide is important—closeness to nature and unbridled joy. all part of being present in the moment.”

Eva’s crusty exterior poorly camouflaged her generous heart.

Mollye’s baby-faced beau always had an eager puppy-dog look about him. Yet his demeanor tonight made me sense he was a quite capable of barking and growling if the need arose.

A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood: The Poetry of Mister Rogers

A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

The Poetry of Mister Rogers

Lyrics by Fred Rogers and Josie Carey

Music by Fred Rogers

Illustrations by Luke Flowers

A Beautiful Day in the NeighborhoodMr. Rogers (Fred McFeeley Rogers) influenced several generations of children with his kind and gentle ways in his television neighborhood. He understood that children need routines to feel safe so he started and ended his show the same way each day. Now we have a compilation of his poetry which, as a trained composer, he put to music as well.

I enjoyed reading his poems. They have a wide range of topics, but contain reassuring verses to help children understand their feelings, and the world around them. He is not shy about sharing his love and encouraging children to do the same. Other topics he addresses include positivity, doing your best, feeling good about yourself just the way you are, and parents. One poem that I think particularly demonstrates his understanding of childhood fears is “You Can Never Go Down the Drain.” 

I think this would be a fun book to share with children, choosing poems at random or when a child has a particular need. The illustrations are colorful and reflect the magic of Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood. This book ends with a brief biography for adults of a fascinating man who has influenced so many in a positive way.

I would like to extend my thanks to netgalley.com and to Quirk Books for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 5/5

Category: Children’s Nonfiction, Poetry

Publication: March 19, 2019—Quirk Books

Memorable Lines:

You’ve made this day a special day by just your being here.

 

It isn’t by size that you win or you fail. Be the best of whatever you are.

 

It is the people you like the most

Who can make you feel the maddest.

 

It’s you I like. 

It’s not the things you wear. 

It’s not the way you do your hair. 

But it’s you I like.

Benchmark Assessments: Weighing the Pig More Often?

As a practicing teacher, I always thought benchmark assessments were worthless and that I had more in-depth knowledge about a child’s progress than would be demonstrated on an exam. Boots on the ground are so important! This is an excellent blog post to explain the effectiveness of benchmark assessments.

Robert Slavin's Blog

There is an old saying about educational assessment: “If you want to fatten a pig, it doesn’t help to weigh it more often.”

To be fair, it may actually help to weigh pigs more often, so the farmer knows whether they are gaining weight at the expected levels. Then they can do something in time if this is not the case.

It is surely correct that weighing pigs does no good in itself, but it may serve a diagnostic purpose. What matters is not the weighing, but rather what the farmer or veterinarian does based on the information provided by the weighing.

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This blog is not, however, about porcine policy, but educational policy. In schools, districts, and even whole states, most American children take “benchmark assessments” roughly three to six times a year. These assessments are intended to tell teachers, principals, and other school leaders how students are doing, especially in…

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Corned Beef and Casualties–St. Paddy’s Day novella

Corned Beef and Casualties

by Lynn Cahoon

Corned Beef and CasualtiesHow about a quick and easy read? Corned Beef and Casualties is good for St. Patrick’s Day or any day you want a brief distraction. It is a fun little novella from one of my favorite cozy mystery authors Lynn Cahoon. It is part of the extensive Tourist Trap Mystery Series.

Cahoon does a great job of making the novella into a standalone with necessary information about the characters relayed succinctly. We witness  unusual cooperation between the main character, Jill, who owns a bookstore/coffee shop and Darla, the proprietor of a winery and also a reporter for the local paper. Be ready for a surprise ending!

I would like to extend my thanks to netgalley.com and to Lyrical Underground (Kensington Press) for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 5/5

Category: Mystery

Notes: 1. A Tourist Trap Novella

2. Cheesecake recipe included

Publication:   February 5, 2019—Kensington Press (Lyrical Underground)

Memorable Lines:

“You need to stop worrying about her and get on with your life.” The look he gave me was filled with such love and sadness I almost teared up. “Miss Gardner, that sounds like a perfectly logical thing to do. Unfortunately, the heart isn’t logical.”

“Some couples just fight…I see couples at their worse. They get a few too many into them, and every slight becomes a big deal.”

Darla was always preaching about the free press and her responsibility to the newspaper-reading public, but deep down, she knew not to release something that might ruin someone’s life. Especially if he was innocent.

FREE Download: Academic Curveball (1st in Braxton Campus Mystery Series)

Free Cozy Mystery! Jump right into this series with this opportunity to get #1 FREE. I’m excited that the third book in the series will be published soon. #1 is a delight!

This Is My Truth Now

Academic Curveball, the first book in my new series, Braxton Campus Mysteries, is FREE for 5 days from 2/7 thru 2/11. You can buy the CRITTER AWARD-WINNING Kindle e-read version via Amazon — SHARE everywhere you can to help promote the book.

Tomorrow we launch the pre-sale for the third book in the series, Flower Power Trip. We will also reveal the cover with over 25 bloggers sharing the first look. Stay tuned for more information on the launch date and blog tour!

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Overview / Description:
When Kellan Ayrwick returns home for his father’s retirement from Braxton College, he finds a dead body in Diamond Hall’s stairwell. Unfortunately, Kellan has a connection to the victim, and so do several members of his family. Could one of them be guilty of murder? Soon after, the college’s athletic program receives mysterious donations, a nasty blog denounces his father and someone attempts to…

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