Books

Moonflower Murders – Anthony Horowitz

I first met Atticus Pund in Magpie Murders, I thought it was a one off, it seemingly started at the end of what could have been a series of books. However four years later Atticus is back and his creator Alan Conway long since dead is still making an impact from beyond the grave.

Susan Ryeland, former editor of Conway’s novels of Atticus Pund has recovered from her ordeal in the first novel, (this works as a standalone without prior knowledge of the first book) and is living with her boyfriend Andreas in Crete, slogging away in a hotel. It is a far cry from the world of publishing.

That is until two people turn up at the hotel, Lawrence and Pauline Trehearne – they want Susan to help them. They think she must have some prior knowledge to help with the disappearance of their daughter Cecily.

How can Susan help someone she has never met before?

It turns out that Cecily was reading Atticus Pund Takes the Case by Alan Conway and believes it holds the answer to a murder that took place on her wedding day at the Branlow Hotel. Before Cecily can tell anyone why she disappears.

Susan sees this as an opportunity to return to England, to think over what her life has become and to perhaps escape Andreas and the slog of the hotel work and temperamental staff and stagnant relationship.

Being paid by the Trehearne’s is an added bonus and surely the answer will be obvious within the book she has edited.

As Horowitz tried out successfully in Magpie Murders, we are treated to a book within a book, a novel within a novel, a murder within the investigation of something else. Everything clearly hidden in plain sight and in the style of the great Golden Age authors.

Can you work out the clues in Atticus Pund Takes the Case?

Can you work out what Susan has discovered through all her investigation?

The reader is treated to a skilfully written novel, the clues are all there, and whilst I had the wrong person for a while, I did have the right reasons but the most obvious simply passed by Susan Ryeland as well as me! If the lead character can be fooled as much as the reader – the author must be on to something.

It would be a great delight if there were more of these novels from Horowitz. I am sure there is much Atticus Pund has to tell us.

A must for all fans of great murder mysteries.

 

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

Moonflower Murders is out now. 

 

 

Books

The Little Cottage in Lantern Square – Helen Rolfe

Hannah is running a business from her little cottage in Lantern Square – Tied up with String. Bringing individual and unique care packages to anyone who requests one. Her only company is her two cats Smokey and Bandit. It is far cry from the life she left behind, a high powered accountancy job, a man with even higher aspirations and a best friend.

Now it is just her and Hannah is adapting to life in Butterbury where Lantern Square is based and she is throwing herself into community life. We get to meet the gardener Rhys, the local Doctor Joe, the rather fearsome next door neighbour Mrs Leadbetter as well as some more interesting characters in the local old peoples home where Hannah volunteers.

This book has a real community feel about it and as Hannah starts to fit in, her past starts to appear.

Luke the man she left to come to Butterbury seeks her out and tries to make her see that she was making a mistake by leaving him. Trouble is Hannah’s heart is torn when she finds herself interested in others in the village. Luke is going to have to work hard to win her back, but is he trying too hard?

Then Georgia her former best friend appears, begging forgiveness for an event from their past and Hannah looking for the good in everyone thinks that maybe it is time to move on. But there is something about Georgia that just does not sit right with Hannah and she doesn’t know what it is?

As the year progresses and events within the community show how much Hannah loves being in Lantern Square and she soon realises where she should be and who she should be with. But will it all happen in time?

This is a great comforting read that can be devoured in pretty much one sitting as you feel you are part of the place, you know the characters so well; some lovely, some downright destructive. The events described make you want to join in and feel part of something. It all jumps off the page with great warmth.

Previously published in four part novellas, this is the complete story in one book – a way I much prefer. This book won’t leave you disappointed which the previous one I read did, sometimes books just hit the right spot and this one certainty did.

 

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

The Little Cottage on Lantern Square is published on 20 August. 

 

Books

Knife Edge – Simon Mayo

London. Rush Hour.

Seven people started their day thinking it was going to be what they knew.

What they did not know was that they would never get to work.

Seven seemingly random people stabbed.

What connected them all?

Famie Madden, journalist watches the terror unfold. But there is a familiarity to some of those killed and it seems that what links them all can also be linked to Famie.

Is the danger over or is Famie potentially the next victim.

If ever a book was relevant, was of its time, it is this book.

You are immediately throw into the action and you are carried along on a wave of adrenaline which inevitably peters out. But that is probably a good thing as you start to slow down and look around to what is really going on just as Famie and other investigative journalists start to pick up the pieces put them together and can see the inevitably of the next point of danger.

The pace picks up and does not stop until the conclusion, it is almost a race to get there, but draws everything to a conclusion.

I found I needed to concentrate on all the references to terror groups from the past which were throughout the book, some passages for me needed some rereading just so I could get to understand the purpose.

Terrorism can take many guises and it was a interesting concept to pick something so unsophisticated as using a plan that was “off grid”, coded advertisements in newspapers, messages in invisible ink, no phones, nothing of the modern day technology we all know. This made it particularly appealing when in reality this books is probably a reflection on modern day life.

An interesting thriller that starts well, sort of wobbles a bit in the middle but reaches a rather interesting climax which will set the heart racing right until the end.

 

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

Knife Edge is published on 20 August. 

 

Books

Starcross Manor – Christie Barlow

Back North of the border to the village of Heartcross and to meet the residents once again. If you have read the previous three in the series you will recognise some characters, but this book is easy enough to enjoy without that prior knowledge – though I recommend reading them as they are simply fab books!

Julia Coleman is the owner of the B& B and with her colleague Eleni they provide bed and wonderful full breakfasts to hill walkers and people passing through Heartcross as it has become more popular on the tourist trail thanks to the event of the previous books; floods and celebrities.

Everything is going well for Julia and with planning permission granted to extend her B&B her business is flourishing.

That is until she bumps into Flynn Carter – a face from the past and now the owner of Starcross Manor. Julia knows he should not be trusted but there is a chemistry between them and they seem drawn to each other.

When Julia finds out that Starcross Manor is not going to be a rest home but a luxury five star hotel, all she can see is that she was right not to trust Flynn Carter and that her business along with a number in the village are going to be affected.

Flynn is not out to cause trouble but when the renovations of the manor come to a sudden stop – it seems that the village has plenty to say about his plans.

Julia horrified at what she might have done, but when her livelihood is threatened and she has to rely on Flynn Carter to bail her out, she knows that she needs to forget the past and think about the future.

And just maybe Flynn is trustworthy and shouldn’t be judged on his past?

A book to devour in a couple of sittings as you are simply swept away with the loveliness of it all. Sometimes that is all you need with a book.

Knowing what you are getting with an author and story is sometimes so reassuring that it doesn’t matter what they write. However, with this author what she writes is always superb and deals with some real issues with care and tact.

I am off to pack by bags to visit Heartcross and I hope you pay a visit soon.

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

Starcross Manor is published on 14 August. 

To catch up with the first three books please find links to my reviews below

Love Heart Lane

Foxglove Farm

Clover Cottage

 

Books

The Hidden Wife – Joanna Rees

Vita Casey has made it to Paris after fleeing London and her brother.

She is trying to keep a low profile and becomes a dresser for the dancers in a cabaret club where her friend Nancy is performing. Always in Nancy’s shadow and seemingly picking up the pieces after her, Vita knows this is not the life she wants to lead in Paris.

Paris is where the fashion is and Vita’s life is about designing and creating clothes. Nancy’s life is one of late night parties, drink and drugs and it seems that Nancy is going to spiral down and Vita will not be able to help if she doesn’t do something more.

A chance meeting leads to Vita getting to venture behind the doors a Paris fashion house and she finds herself with the chance to finally get her designs out there and make a name for herself.

Back in Darton, England. Vita’s brother Clement has still not forgiven Vita for her actions and when his marriage throws up some interesting opportunities his new wife can see a way of the past being finally put behind them all.

Faces from the past come back to Vita and it doesn’t matter where she hides, someone will always find her – whether that be brothers, sister in laws, wives and long lost lovers.

So much is packed into the pages of this book, you get a real sense of the Paris of 1928, the lifestyle led by the up and coming ‘young things’. The live for this moment attitude and that money can buy anything, position, clothes, tables in clubs, yachts and women. Rees manages to remind the reader that actually not all lives were rich with wealth and position.

The book gives you plenty more questions to take you into the final part of the trilogy but I would strongly recommend you have read the first to really appreciate the story of this one.

Excellent historical fiction a must for all fans of this genre.

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

The Hidden Wife is out now. 

 

Books

One Book, Two Book, Three Book, Four and Five #3

Ok so it might be nine (yes nine) years since I first did this but a reflection of the years blogging gone past has led me back to it and I thought it would be good to come back to it and try it in 2020.

Thank you to Simon at Stuck in a Book who created it, all credit to him.

1.) The book I’m currently reading: 

If you have seen the Channel 5 programme or even seen Amanda and her nine (yes nine) children interviewed and fascinated but where it all started. This is the place to start and I am thoroughly enjoying it.

2.) The last book I finished: 

Despite the ARC being badly formatted through netgalley this really is a great book and I recommend it for anyone who likes cosy crime. Not sure if that was his intention but it is full of everything that makes us uniquely British.

3.) The next book I want to read: 

I read the first last year alongside the television adaptation – I was enthralled and as I can see the programme is coming back soon, I feel I need to go back and catch up with Lyra and more of the story.

4.) The last book I bought: 

For the sake of completeness and as a treat for my holiday and not going away I bought the next two in the Yorkshire Shepherdess.

5.) The last book I was given: 

Not really given as would have to go all the way back to Christmas but this is the current book I have borrowed from my mum, as part of the Read Christie 2020 challenge.

Well there is a snapshot of the here and now – I am sure Simon would not mind if you joined in.

What it has shown me is that there has been relatively few books bought in 2020 for obvious reasons I suppose. I am starting to see some gaps on my shelves and it feels good to be working my way through the books that have been waiting an age to read.

I may well do this again at some point – it may take me another nine years, but who knows? The ten years reflecting posts have only reached 2012 but I hope to make more of a headway now I have some time off work and going back through all the posts.

2020 has in many ways certainly been a time of reflection.

Books

Escape to the French Farmhouse – Jo Thomas

Although I have seen this author’s name around before, this is the first time I have picked up one of her books to read and I was not disappointed. I will search out more by this author for the future.

Del and Ollie have moved to a rambling farmhouse in Provence, France. It has not worked in healing the gaping chasms in their marriage and after six weeks – they are due to return to the UK.

Expect in a whim, completely out of character Del decides to stay and watches as her husband drives away from their life.

Now all alone, Del is faced with starting her life again. What can she do? How will she pay for the house?

Del finds herself drawn to the friendly locals and has more in common with their lifestyle than the expats who have set up home and are trying to a piece of Britain abroad.

Upon finding an old recipe book she discovers that lavender was used extensively in cooking and tries out a few recipes. Encouraged by Fabian who runs the local antique come junk shop who provides her with more than just furnishings for her farmhouse. He introduces her to more locals and also to someone who can help her reinvigorated the lavender fields that once dominated the countryside.

Armed with new friends, a new outlook and a new project it looks like Del is staring to find out who she is in the backdrop of love, loss and lavender.

This book has everything you could possibly want – warm sunshine, the scent of lavender (if that is your thing), the mouth watering recipes created by Del and the food at the bistro, the joy of helping those less fortunate than yourself and the sharing of all of this to create a great summery read.

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

Escape to the French Farmhouse is out now on kindle or in paperback on 6 August. 

Have you read any Jo Thomas? Which book should I go to next?

Books

Roundup – Six in Six 2020

First of all a very big THANK YOU to everyone who joined in. We might be a select bunch but I hope those that have just read our posts are inspired by some more in their reading, to all the new blog followers, watchers and readers it has been great to discover your little piece of the internet.

Here is a list of everyone that joined in this year. I have to say it has been a BUMPER year and I am so thrilled that you have joined in.

If I have missed you off or you know someone who took part but failed to link back to me, then let me know and I can add. We are growing year on year ever so slowly but we all have one thing in common – we like to read!

In no particular order please check out these fellow Six in Sixers!

Happy reading and discovering folks!

 

Superfluous Reading

Secret Library Book Blog

The Bookworm Chronicles 

Reading Ladies

She Reads Novels

findingtimetowrite

Hopewell’s Public Library of Life

Brona’s Books

Introverted Reader

Fiction Fan’s Book Reviews

Lizzie’s Literary Life

BooksPlease

Howling Frog Books

Pining for the West

The Quiet Geordie

A Darn Good Read

 

Enjoy the next few months reading and see you in 2021!

 

Books

The Wife’s Choice – Emma Davies

Alys has just lost her job, her daughter, Esme is starting a new job in a fancy restaurant and her husband, Hugh has seemingly forgotten she exists as a person in her own right.

But a series of unconnected events result in an encounter with someone from Alys past – her first husband.

The man who had a horrific car accident and as part of his recovery when it looked like there was some hope, he told Alys to go – to start her life again.

Now her past is very much hurtling towards her present and it seems that the future of her life as well as her daughter’s is at stake.

Is it time to tell the truth? Is it time to break free from the lie and start a new life again?

The characters in this book got under my skin straight away. The seemingly passive actions of Alys made we want to scream, as in equal measure Hugh’s treatment and actions were controlling that you wondered where this book could possibly go and was Hugh going to get some sort of comeuppance and Alys a deserved justice.

But life is rarely that black and white, and Emma Davies give us a book full of family tensions and drama. It moves along at a good pace and kept me hooked and wanting to finish to see if perhaps there was a resolution that suited everyone.

Of course there are no winners and losers in such games when it involves peoples feelings and emotions, but the conclusion left a legacy – that there is always time to pursue what ever you want to do and that you should never be kept in the shadow of anyone. You have a choice and it is not always the wife’s choice – everyone in this book had a choice.

Emma Davies’ writing is addictive and all her novels are strong reads. They all have depth and emotion and this latest one is no exception.

 

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

The Wife’s Choice is published on 4th August. 

Books · Jottings

July Roundup

As 2020 ambles along, the reading has been keeping apace and I seem to be devouring more books and spending more time with reading, crafts and jigsaws than I do television. The best bit about July was that first length in the outdoor pool at the gym on the 26th July. Sheer utter bliss!

Of course it is the books you are most interested in – so without further ado.

Proper sagas are what is missing in some of my previous reading months and years and I have found that whenever I go back to them, I seem to what to read more and more. Dilly Court – The Constant Heart a story to get lost in and that I did, I am sure I enjoyed it more by the feel of the book in my hand – I read a tremendous amount on my kindle (thanks to netgalley) but you cannot beat that feeling of being lost in a story and pages and holding on to it in your hands.

Joanna Rees – The Hidden Wife, is the second in a trilogy about the era of the Bright Young Things, the 1920s. This time action in the main has moved to Paris and as the story develops on one side of the channel, the past is stirring things up at home for all the main characters.

Moving forward a few decades got me to Cathy Mansell – The Dublin Girls, although read on kindle this is another author who if you are looking for something of the Catherine Cookson variety, then you have found it. Set in 1950s Ireland it is a great example of fiction that captures you and holds your attention to the very end.

Of course murder mysteries and thrillers can hold your attention too as did Simon Mayo – Knife Edge – the opening few pages have you right in the heart of the plot and the story and whilst I did think it got a bit “ploddy” for a while it soon picked up pace and had your heart racing to the denouement.

Talking of denouements is a great plot to segway into Agatha Christie – The Man in the Brown Suit, which was the Read Christie 2020 book for July. One I have never read, very different from a Poirot and a Marple but with the familiar face of Colonel Race who you see in other Christie novels. Another books ticked off my Christie list.

Chattering as I am about lists, I have add a new author for me to catch up on and read more of since I gave Jo Thomas – Escape to the French Farmhouse a go. I was swept away to the french countryside and the lavender fields, the glorious food and the love of a simple life. I cannot think of any better way in escaping the world than with a book like this.

You cannot always escape your past and sometimes it comes back to not just haunt you but to weave its way into your present day as it does with Emma Davies – The Wife’s Choice. A move away from perhaps what you are used to and this was an wonderful look at dysfunctional families and lives that need to move on.

Of course with dysfunctional families you cannot always go back to places you knew as a child but soemtimes you are drawn there as in Trisha Ashley – The Garden of Forgotten Wishes. Trisha’s books get better and better and this is no exception. And for those who cannot get into a garden for whatever reason, read this book – all the hard work without the muddy hands and aching back!

And of course we all like a happy ending, a good old fashioned wedding and a bit of a cry and Caroline Roberts – Summer at Rachel’s Pudding Pantry delivers that in spades. What I assume is the end of series of books featuring Rachel and all her delightful cooking came to a satisfying conclusion. I look forward to reading what comes next from this author. (In the meantime I a Chocolate Shop to visit).

So that was July, a mix of genres as I need to be reminded that life is not all sunny and roses, but in the main I spent my time simply enjoying all the stories.

And there is plenty more to come in August.

How was your July? Anything you wish to recommend?