Murder at the Playhouse – Helena Dixon

Kitty Underhay is definitely on track to be a popular favourite amongst fans of cosy mysteries and with this her third adventure.

Kitty having still not made it up with Matthew Bryant the debonair ex Army Captain and now private investigator from the previous two novels, she finds herself rather lost and missing him.

Matthew is much in the same mood, but that is all forgotten when a knock at his door reveals the police come to arrest him for murder.

Kitty rushes to his aid.

The deceased is a young actress on the cusp of something bigger, Pearl Bright, found strangled with one of Matthew’s bootlaces. There is a straightforward believable explanation from Matthew.

Stanley Davenport a theatre impresario and on verge of a knighthood is as well as Matthew’s neighbours seemed convinced it his him and that there is no need to look any further, especially not at Stanley Davenport and his family and associates seem to have a lot to hide.

Kitty manages through Mrs Craven to get to know the Davenport’s and she finds herself centre stage with helping with a local theatre show for a charity. Being this involved means she might be able to get to the truth if it all plays out right.

It will be alright on the night – surely?

Regular characters are back, including the insurmountable Mrs Craven as well as Kitty’s maid at the hotel, Alice who is a great character and I am pleased she is featuring more dominantly. Her sound advice and obvious observations are a great for Kitty.

The sub plot of Kitty’s missing mother is still throughout this book and Matthew is kept occupied with this and we start to find out a bit more of what might have happened to her.

All in all a great mystery with good characters both likeable and absolutely dreadful that you love them and the continual mystery makes we excited to read book four!

Thank you to the publisher via netgalley for the opportunity to read this book. 

Murder at the Playhouse is published on 30 June. 

Catch up with Kitty from the beginning:

Murder at the Dolphin Hotel

Murder at Enderley Hall 


Books · Jottings

Six in Six – 2020 Edition

Here it is again – I hope that the small select few of us that complete this meme can perhaps spread the word so we have a few more participants this year. However it is always great to see fellow book bloggers joining in.

When did all this begin?

I started it in 2012 on a whim and it has been going ever since!

If you want to look back at the previous years and get a flavour then please do.









What is it all about?

The idea being that as the end of June approaches and we are then halfway through the year,  let us share the books we have read in those first 6 months. In fact let’s share 6 books in 6 categories, or if time is of the essence then simply share just 6 books. Whatever combination works for you as long as it involves 6 books. Of course the same book can obviously feature in more than one category.

What categories can I choose from?

  • Six new authors to me
  • Six authors I have read before
  • Six authors I am looking forward to reading more of
  • Six books I have enjoyed the most
  • Six books I was disappointed with
  • Six series of books read or started
  • Six authors I read last year – but not so far this year
  • Six books that took me on extraordinary journeys
  • Six books that took me by the hand and led me into the past
  • Six books from the past that drew me back there
  • Six books from authors I know will never let me down
  • Six books I must mention that don’t fit nicely into any category
  • Six books I started in the first six months of the year and was still caught up with in July
  • Six trips to Europe
  • Six blogging events I enjoyed
  • Six bookish things I’m looking forward to
  • Six Espionage or Historical Novels I enjoyed
  • Six Cool Classics
  • Six Non-US/Non-British Authors
  • Six From the Non-Fiction Shelf
  • Six books that didn’t live up to expectations
  • Six books that I had one or two problems with but am still glad I tried
  • Six books that are related to The Great War or Second World War
  • Six bookshops I have visited
  • Six books I’ve read in an English translation
  • Six books which are better than the film
  • Six books which are worse than the film
  • Six books that have sport as their major theme
  • Six favourite places to read
  • Six books read on kindle and then went and bought an actual copy
  • Six books I abandoned
  • Six classics I have read
  • Six books I have read on my Kindle
  • Six physical books I have read
  • Six book covers I love
  • Six book covers that bear no resemblance to the story contained within
  • Six books to read to avoid politics
  • Six books I have read but not reviewed
  • Six books I have read in lockdown
  • Six classic mysteries
  • Six books about Royalty
  • Six pretty book covers
  • Six books set in a country other than my own

Or you can come up with your own category,  (If you do: please comment and I can add them to this list for future years)

What do I need to post?

Simply choose six of the categories above and list six books under that category. Some bloggers use pictures, some put excerpts of reviews. The main thing being it is six categories and six books. Of course if you want to do a shorter version, then just post something about six books you have read in the first six months of 2020

Please link back to this post and/or my blog and share this post so we can have lots of people joining in. All those that participate I will endeavour to collate into one post.

When do I post?

Anytime in July. We have reading days left of June and that book might well fit nicely into one of the categories.

Anything else?

Please spread the word and get people to join in and let them know that we are all halfway through our 2020 reading year!


Sunny Days and Sea Breezes – Carole Matthews

Jodie is on the run from her previous life, give the opportunity to escape for a while and makes sense of everything that has happened to her she ends up in the Isle of Wight on a luxury houseboat, Sunny Days thanks to her brother.

Thinking she can hide and lick her wounds is far from the truth as she encounters the whirling dervish cleaning lady that is Marilyn. Bright and abundantly cheerful, Jodie is not going to be able to escape being looked after by Marilyn. She succumbs to Marilyn’s food, fashion advice and guidance and finds herself truly escaping.

Next to Sunny Days, is Sea Breezes another houseboat but not quite as luxurious, but most intriguing with its decor as well as it’s owner Ned. Intrigued by this man, Jodie finds herself drawn to Ned as he goes through life, with early morning yoga on the beach, wood sculpting and playing in a band. All so far away from the life Jodie had at home.

Jodie starts to feel part of something in this little place on the Isle of Wight, as she passes the time of day with George the statue makes on her way to the beach cafe where she meets Ida. All of these people begin to help, some unknowingly, heal Jodie.

But you cannot always out run the past and despite the relentless messages and phone calls, Jodie’s past finds her and she now has to find out what exactly she really wants and can she live with it forever.

What a wonderful story from Carole Matthews, where I instantly felt empathy to the characters, and laughed aloud at the way Marilyn was determined to show colour to Jodie and see the importance it could have in life. This is definitely a book to bring colour to your life, the yellow sand, the blue sea and sky no matter how grey your life may feel, colour can be found in the unexpected places.

A simply joyous read.


Thank you to the publisher via netgalley for the opportunity to read this book. 

Sunny Days and Sea Breezes is published on the 25 June.




Summer Strawberries at Swallowtail Bay – Katie Ginger

If you want something organised in Swallowtail Bay then you go to Hetty. She can do pretty much anything, she is not afraid to get her hands dirty and whether it is anniversary parties or birthday parties for hyped up children she can deliver. Events management is what she does the absolute best.

But Hetty is looking for that next big project and when she thinks she can pull off bringing back the local Strawberry Festival bigger and better than ever before within four weeks she sees it as a make or break moment.

The only problem she can foresee is persuading the residents of Thornhill Manor that it is a good idea and that it will be beneficial for them. John Thornhill, youngest son takes a lot of convincing, but it seems Hetty has something that he has never encountered before.

As plans gather pace with, food stalls, bouncy castles, fairground rides and a outdoor cinema, it seems that Hetty is going to pull it all together.

Trouble is she is also having to deal with her mother who has made decision which shocks not just Hetty but her father as well.

Then Ben, the man Hetty finished with is suddenly back in her life with a plan – one that Hetty could never see coming.

Hetty is not the only one having trouble, John Thornhill is dealing with the fallout of his father’s actions, his mother is retreating further into her shell and his older brother is about to make the worse decision for the family without consulting anyone. Surely he can rely on Jaz his personal assistant to sort out everything else – it seems not.

So much is packed into this story, that you almost forget about the success of the festival. Brought to life from visiting potential fairgrounds, tasting food as well as the wonders of dealing with the general public. It feels like you are there walking round the stalls, tasting the food, listening to the music, letting it all wash over you.

Of course that is what Hetty and John want you to feel? What do they feel and will they be able to solve it all before the festival finishes and becomes the success they both want?

A second visit to Swallowtail Bay, but it doesn’t matter if this is your first, a great summer story for any point in the year.

Like perfect strawberries with a big dollop of luscious cream on top – simply irresistible.

Thank you to the publisher via netgalley for the opportunity to read this book. 

Summer Strawberries at Swallowtail Bay is published on the 24 June. 



The Little Shop in Cornwall – Helen Pollard

Where better to be than by the sea. Where you can breathe in the clean air, listen to the waves crash and retreat against the shore as your worries drift away and you start to heal.

What better place to visit that Healing Waves, Claudia’s little shop at the end of the beach road. Claudia escaped here from her frantic city life and re-balanced herself and made friends with the locals, her neighbours and the tourists that come to her shop. With her cat Pudding, Claudia has found the life she wants.

Jason and teenage daughter Millie, have moved to be nearer Millie’s grandparents. Life has been tough for them in recent months and Jason is hoping a change of scenery will be what they both need. What he wasn’t expecting was Millie’s fascination with Claudia’s shop and her interest in things that Jason has no understanding of.

Jason is scared of the unknown which is why he has taken an immediate dislike to what he thinks Claudia stands for. When he learns of a new shop opening in the seaside town and that Claudia’s friends are perhaps slightly usual he starts to question the rights and wrongs of his move and the influence over impressionable teenagers.

But it seems that someone else in the town is none too take with Claudia and her shop, as natural disasters and man made ones seem to hit Claudia perhaps there is some sort of curse hanging around.

Help comes for Claudia where she least expects it and it seems that opposites can attract and that getting under the skin of someone and making them question is perhaps what she has been missing in life.

A bright sunny book which has so much spark in it, the interaction between some of the characters jumps right off the page and you find yourself fully immersed in the story and the setting. I was writing my own worries and problems on the sand and watched the sea take them away.

Escape to Cornwall this summer and heal all your troubles and meet some new friends. I hope we get to return here again soon.

Thank you to the publisher via netgalley for the opportunity to read this book. 

The Little Shop in Cornwall is published on 15 June. 




A Perfect Cornish Escape – Phillipa Ashley

Back in the Cornish town of Porthmellow from Ashley’s earlier books but you need no prior knowledge of the regular inhabitants of the place, you just need a love of Cornwall and cracking good story.

Marina’s husband was lost at sea almost seven years ago and time is a healer and when it comes to when she can finally let go and move on. Can she really move on to another love though?

Tiff is Marina’s cousin and comes down to Porthmellow to stay with her to let the dust settle on her journalism career after causing a bit of a stir with a well known politician.

Lachlan is in Cornwall to escape, he clearly has a story to tell. His scars go deeper than those on his face, there is a story to tell but who is the best person he can tell it to.

Dirk, a resident and local of Portmellow who has been on the receiving end of being well known by association is a bit stormy. He is used to storms, his manner creates them buthe is also quite used to the ones out at sea as well, working on the lifeboat.

All of them are escaping from one thing or another and it seems that maybe by doing so they can start to heal and move on with their lives. Because you can never really escape love.

Plenty is packed into this novel as well as the relationships that are forged, along with a few complications just to make it difficult. Life is not easy and it is great to read a book where the happy ending is perhaps not inevitable and that changes have to be made on a all sides to find a new way, a new life.

The book is full of everything that you might love about a seaside harbour town. I was taken away to where you can see the lifeboat launch dealing with everyday occurrences when tourists and sometimes locals don’t listen to those that know best. It was if the clear blue water, was washing over my feet as I walked whilst the sunset along the shore and I could be swept away with the warmth of the sun as well as the love. I wanted to sit and eat chips and devour them and the story. Utter bliss.

Another great visit to Porthmellow and I hope we get to go back soon.

Thank you to the publisher via netgalley for the opportunity to read this book. 

A Perfect Cornish Escape is published on the 11 June. 



The Little Teashop in Tokyo – Julie Caplin

Julie Caplin this time takes us half a world away to Japan, Tokyo in her wonderful series of Romantic Escapes. If you cannot go holiday, then let the holiday come to you.

Fiona is a travel blogger and is always found with her camera, she almosts hides behind that lens and her blog but given the opportunity to go to Tokyo and the prospect of an exhibition at work, means that Fiona needs to get out and find whos he really is. Going to Tokyo to be mentored by a famous photographer is an ideal opportunity.

Except that the famous photographer is not able to help and sends Gabe instead.

Fiona knows Gabe from an rather embarrassing episode ten years ago and he broke her heart. But does Gabe recognise Fiona?

Fiona stays with three generations of one family above a tea shop and she is immediately immersed in Japanese life. But Gabe seems very reluctant to mentor her and thinks he can simply dump her at various tourist spots and scuttle off and hide.

Fiona steps out from behind the lens and challenges Gabe in more than one way and as the sparks fly, memories are reignisted and both Gabe and Fiona find that photography is not the only thing they may have in common.

Can Fiona risk having her heart broken a second time?

Can Gabe remember why he enjoys photography?

This is a wonderful sweet romance with a few ups and downs as you would expect in such a book. However the setting and clearly the research that has gone into the setting – Tokyo – is apparent to see. I was transported to Mount Fuji, to the cherry blossoms that I could almost smell them. The tea ceremony and the meaning behind the old traditional Japan and the bright vibrant modern version that is emerging is covered so well in this book. As with all previous books, food makes a welcome appearance and you can visualise the plate as Fiona is introduced to whole a new food culture.

This is a book to transport you away to somewhere else, to somewhere you may never get to visit and you can do it all for the cost of a book. What better form of escapism.

Where next for Julie Caplin to explore? Can I put in a request and perhaps go to Canada?

Thank you to the publishers via netgalley for the opportunity to read this book. 

The Little Teashop in Tokyo is published on 11th June. 

Have a world tour so far with Julie Caplin – all links to my reviews. 

The Little Cafe in Copenhagen

The Little Brooklyn Bakery

The Little Paris Patisserie

The Northern Lights Lodge

The Secret Cove in Croatia





Daughters of Cornwall – Fern Britton

In a change from perhaps what I was expecting from Fern Britton, I am transported to Cornwall as is to be expected but I am submerged into the past in this excellent piece of historical fiction.

Clara is making the journey from London to Cornwall after the Great War to meet the family that she could have been apart of. She is taking with her a secret, one that only one other person knows about.

Hannah wants to know more about her past but her mother’s reluctance makes her even more curious. With the outbreak of the Second World War looming, Hannah and her brothers want to make a difference. They don’t think they can from their corner of Cornwall. But Cornwall always calls them back.

Caroline discovers her families history through a trunk which looks like it has come all the way from Penang. She embarks on a discovery. Caroline wants to show her daughter how a life can be lived and that all it takes is determination and an inner strength that all the women in the family clearly have.

This story starts like a whisper as all the characters are introduced and you are immediately caught up in love affairs, war, secrets and lies. The book is rich in description at the breathtaking views of Cornwall of the horror of war, of death and birth and shows how strong women can be no matter what the path in life they have chosen to be on. as the secrets come tumbling out or are kept hidden until the end, the story draws you right in. A story that will stay with you long after you have finished reading.

If you like Fern Britton’s previous novels this will be a change – but it is worth every word on the page.

Great for fans of historical fiction with multiple narratives, a book to get lost in.

Thank you to the publisher via netgalley for the opportunity to read this book. 

Daughters of Cornwall is published on the 11th June. 



The Second Chance Hotel – Rachel Dove

If you enjoy Cornwall as a backdrop for your stories then you are going to adore the latest novel from Rachel Dove.

April has runaway, now divorced she has put as much distance between her old life in Yorkshire and her new life at Shady Pines Chalet Park on the Cornish coast. She has not just escaped their she has bought it and ploughs her money and her life into starting again.

Cillian O’Leary can’t runaway far he has young daughter Orla to deal with and an ex partner who does not value their daughter at all. He needs to start again so when his old job as general handyman comes up again at Shady Pines he spots his chance in starting again.

He didn’t bank on the whirlwind that is April though nor permanent curmudgeonly resident Martha’s reluctance to accept change.

April and Cillian’s burgeoning friendship and relationship seems doomed from the start. Not only trying to contend with April’s clumsiness and lack of confidence. Cillian constantly sstomps about grunting and falls into a sulk over the smallest thing.

But it is Orla’s innocence which keeps drawing April back and makes her realise what the future may have held if she had stayed where she was.

Martha starts to soften as she can see what settling for one life and love can do for you and when relations with April that slightly she lets her in to a secret, to one that will perhaps give her a second chance to.

This is a lovely book to lose yourself in, perhaps not as polished as it could be, a bit clunky in parts and I found myself a bit lost with who was who. Not sure though if that was me or the writing. However, these points are easily overlooked and the joy of the story comes off the pages and a perfect holiday escape if you cannot get to one yourself. I could see myself waking up in a chalet and walking the cliffs and eating fish and chips!


Thank you to the publisher via netgalley for the opportunity to read this book. 

The Second Chance Hotel is published on the 29th May. 


Highland Fling – Sara Sheridan

I have been absorbed with this series since the beginning. For fans of murder mysteries set in the past this is for you. To make it different from many other series of books out there – this has strong female characters, it is the 1950s, racism is still clearly prevalent and the memories of war are still not quite in the long forgotten past. Mainly based in and around Brighton this time we take a train journey to the Highlands.

For Mirabelle this is a holiday with Superintendent Alan McGregor her beau and very much intellectual equal. They are to visit Alan’s family home and meet some of his family, the Robertsons.

Being embraced into a glamorous family life with big houses, servants and cocktails is a bit of a shock for Mirabelle but she finds she instantly warms to these people.

Then a body is found in the orangery.

No matter where Mirabelle or Alan go, crime seems to surround them.

The body is an American fashion designer with links to Russia. As the Cold War is very much at the forefront of everyone’s minds, it seems that there may be more to this murder.

The urge to investigate and find out what happens is too much to resist and when it seems there is mysteries unsolved about the house and the Highlands, Mirabelle finds herself questioning people about the murder but also her own actions and limitations to her relationship with Alan.

This holiday is going to be one to remember for them.

Great to see Mirabelle and Alan’s relationship flourish and there is no doubt that they are not sticking to the conventions of the time. Even the Robertsons recognise this and it was a breath of fresh air to see such things, but to also know that is was still of time of great change.

Whilst the world changed, so did Mirabelle and Alan. The Highlands was definitely a place they could say was a turning point for them.

A big house murder mystery, spies, servants, ghosts and secrets. Everything you want from a book and one of the best examples of this type of story.

For me well written and constructed and probably the best of the series (so far) and whilst I always recommend starting at the beginning, this would be a good book to dip into as the main characters are away from their normal lives and surroundings. You can then have the joy of catching up with the rest of the series – lucky you!

Thank you to the publisher via netgalley for the opportunity to read this book. 

Highland Fling is published on 4 June.