Books

A Line to Kill – Anthony Horowitz

This is the third instalment of murder mystery novels that feature the ex-detective Daniel Hawthorne and in an interesting twist, (if this is the first time of discovering these novels), it also features Anthony Horowtiz. Yes the author has written himself into this piece of fiction. Stick with it, it works better than you think!

Invited to a literature festival on Alderney, Hawthorne and Horowitz as they are more better known, the former seemingly more of a draw than the latter, finds themselves stuck there. Right in the middle of their own murder mystery.

The victim is Charles Le Mesurier, a man with a lot of money and so it seems a lot of power. There are many suspects, many questions to be asked about everyone who was at the festival, especially as the victim was the sponsor.

How can a celebrity chef, a blind psychic, a children’s author, a performance poet, a war historian plus a number of locals opposed to a potential power line disrupting their island have anything to do with the deceased?

This is a classic locked room mystery, but extended to an whole island. An island that has never had any murder on it but suddenly is embroiled in something quite nasty. Hawthorne is called upon to at least go some way to solve the crime, Horowitz the side kick, think Hastings to Poirot is there to capture the tale.

What follows as everyone is seemingly trapped is the true twist, turns and red herrings of a good murder mystery. The digs about authors, literature festivals and the world of crime gives the book a different undertone than perhaps some novels of the same genre. For me it is this humour which gives these books the edge over others I have read. The author has some skill to write himself in and write himself in as the underdog; the bumbling assistant almost.

Both this series of books and the Magpie Murder ones are examples of skilful writing which gives and edge to the murder mystery genre. If you want something different and you don’t mind having your mind tested then pick up these novels – you won’t be disappointed.

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

A Line to Kill is out now.

Books

The Library – Bella Osborne

Reading, books and library’s can bring people together. They cross the generations, they cross class divides, social divides, gender divides. There is something for everyone and anyone.

Tom is someone who hasn’t really picked up a book unless it has to be read for school. But his mum loved to read, and he thinks perhaps to understand women and girls he should perhaps read about romance. At least it might help him with his school boy crush on Farah. He has no where else to turn to, his mother has gone and his father is turning into an alcoholic whose only aim is to make sure Tom, leave schools and goes to earn money at the local factory.

Tom it seems has other ideas once he finds books, stories and the local library.

Tom also finds Maggie. Maggie is in her early seventies, she has lived alone for ten years and is content with her life at the small holding she has and the routine that she has developed. Visiting the library for a book group weekly and enjoying the stories that let her escape the life she has seemed to create for herself.

When a chance encounter brings Tom and Maggie together, they both find something from each other. Whether it is a mother figure and home cooked food, to recognising past mistakes and how they can shape the future, they both bring a lot to their unlikely friendship.

With this bond, they help to campaign to save the library which is threatened with closure and they try to make sure everyone knows what can happen when a space such as a library can bring to a community.

Although this campaign is important, the friendship between Tom and Maggie and the things they find out about each other and learn about their past and present makes for a heart-warming novel. However some of the topics are not heart-warming and underneath the surface there are some tricky topics dealt with; grief, debt, alcoholism, adoption to name a few. Perhaps too many for some, but all had their relevance to play in this novel and for me it was perfectly balanced.

A change from previous Osborne books I have read, but a welcome one and I would highly recommend to anyone who enjoys getting really involved in characters and plot.

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

The Library is out now.

Books

The Best Things – Mel Giedroyc

When famous people for something other than writing then write a book, there is always an element of doubt and trepidation. Looking back at reviews now I have read it, seemed to be very much of the love it or loathe it variety but shows you that not all books are for everyone, despite who wrote it.

I could hear the author’s voice as if she was telling me the story as we got to know Sally and Frank Parker. They had it all literally and then one day they didn’t.

Sally is living a half life, she has everything, she doesn’t even have to think. She has people to do that for her, whether it be ferrying the children a few yards to school, to the cooking and the laundry. She just needs to get up and be there, be part of those groups in the suburbs who are simply trying to out do each other. Whether it be home décor, shopping, holidays or clothes. Think Margot Leadbetter but in the 21st century!

However Sally is in for a rude awakening and thankfully so were some of the more unpleasant characters in the book.

Sally has to think. She has to save herself from her husband Frank as well as save him from himself. Then there are the children, Stephen, overweight and addicted to online games, Cleo who has no sense common or otherwise and her interactions were aspiring and so astute they were laugh out loud funny. Mikey, the wheeling dealing eleven year old girl who is going places if only they would listen to her. Then niece Emily, the academic exceeder who feels she has no place in the family anymore.

Add to the mix, a Welsh great granny, a couple of strange uncles and a few dogs and tractors and you have a real mix of a book about what you really need to survive. The trappings of life do not always fulfil what you most want and need.

I was pleasantly surprised at this book, it made me laugh about some of the ridiculousness of the situations but also there was some rather empathic moments especially with the children, which gave it added pathos. What I liked the most, that for added impact perhaps, the author really laid on thick about how much ‘stuff’ they had, whether it be electronic devices, decorations and ornaments from around the world, thirty two named lawnmowers, a pool house, a rack of BBQs and the envy of every other resident in the suburb who were all trying to emulate or be better.

Pure escapism but with an undercurrent that this is a world that does exist and that actually being in that world seems quite frightening. Some great characters to love, loathe and hate!

Books

September Roundup

Depending on how the month ends on what day during the week, depends on how quickly I can get these roundup posts done! Hence why I am a couple of days out from those that follow my blog and expect to see the previous months round on the first.

But better late than never and whilst autumn has clearly arrived in my part of the world, Christmas has too!

It is always nice to go back to something familiar with stories so I was more than happy to return to Jewel Island for this festive season with Holly Martin – Mistletoe at Moonstone Lake. And with a name like Holly what more would you expect Christmas wise!

Of course being a fan of authors and series of books makes reading sometimes easy but with that comes an absolute joy to be part of another world for a while and so I was thrilled to welcome back Sarah Bennett – Autumn Dreams at Mermaids Point and with a novella following close behind, I was delighted to keep the story going for that bit longer with Sarah Bennett – Christmas Surprises at Mermaids Point.

Whilst not my favourite Christmas book so far of 2021, Rachel Burton – A Bookshop Christmas did give me that cosy Christmas bookshop feel that you can get in certain bookshops.

Christmas is not the main theme of Helen Rolfe – The Kindness Club on Mapleberry Lane but it certainly played a part in bringing the kindness of a family together, whether they be true family or simply neighbours.

Of course nothing brings people together than the threat of the closure of a library. In Bella Osborne – The Library, two unlikely people strike up a friendship and find solace in books. There appears to be a number of books this year featuring similar tales and all of them have been thoroughly enjoyable and make me ever so guilty that I hardly visit the library!

I wonder how long the waiting list at the library is for Richard Osman – The Man Who Died Twice? His second novel and if I may say so, I think better than the first. I can see this series lasting quite a while with the quirky residents getting into some rather interesting mysteries. Retirement is not boring for them or us.

Looking back it seems that all the books read in September were on my kindle and were netgalley reads. I have to confess of having got a bit happy with requesting and find myself playing catch up which is how I had only just got round to reading Anthony Horowitz – A Line to Kill, the third novel in the Hawthorne series. Featuring the author himself this book works in such a wonderful way.

Quite a lot of Christmas, quite a bit of murder so I took myself back to some historical reading with Dinah Jefferies – Daughters of War, the first in a new trilogy from this author. Taken to France and the Nazi occupation and the French Resistance, I am interested to see where this series takes us next.

So that was September, October promises to be just as good. I have plenty lined up to read and currently engrossed in an actual book as well as the countless on my netgalley to read list. I hope to balance out the Christmas reads with some more interesting and quirky ones in between. Who knows where I will end up.

I hope your September reading has been what you wanted, anything I have missed?

Books

The Man Who Died Twice – Richard Osman

Harnessing on the success of the author’s first novel, comes the second one and the characters are eager to continue their Thursday Murder Club, that it is simply the following Thursday.

Elizabeth, Joyce, Ron and Ibrahim are reconvened in the Jigsaw Room and the next case seems to relate to Elizabeth and all seems a bit too close to home.

Elizabeth gets a letter from her past – and it turns out her past is ex-husband, Douglas and he has turned up at Cooper’s Chase. He needs help with a few sparkly stones. And it seems lessons of Elizabeth and Douglas’s past are going to be needed to crack this particular case.

Meanwhile Ibrahim, the quieter of the four, is mugged for his phone and suddenly the world gets smaller for him, How can he possibly help when he can’t leave his home? Enter Chris and Donna, the Fairhaven police who are determined to get the young lad, Ryan for what he did to Ibrahim.

Add in some mafia, a local drug baron, a money launderer and the promise of twenty million pounds and you have a book which twist and turns as the pages do.

Throughout the book we are treated to Joyce’s journal entries as she not only giver take on events but other miscellany that seem to enter her head in stream of conscious. This is wonderfully insightful and funny and Joyce comes across as one of those dotty old ladies who knows exactly what is happening! Her and Elizabeth make a great team.

What I did like was the introduction of Ron’s grandson, Kendrick who brings that juxtaposition between the old and the young and his work with Ibrahim was key into finding out the truth with one of the plotlines. I hope we get to see more of this.

For the supposed notorious difficult second book, this was better than the first, in my opinion. Tightly potted, wonderfully engaging and had me hooked right to the end. The right about of gruesomeness and humour.

A quintessential British crime novel, with quintessential British references which the whole world is clearly loving. No pressure Richard Osman, but more please.

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

The Man Who Died Twice is out now.

Books

The Heron’s Cry – Ann Cleeves

This is the second novel in the Matthew Venn series from renowned author.

Can be read without having read the first, The Long Call but then why deprive yourself of such good storytelling. You will also get the background of the characters and the previous case which through witnesses does filter into this story.

DI Matthew Venn, uptight and determined to maintain a level response to what he sees in his work is back alongside his DS Jen Rafferty and ever eager DC Ross May. Jen is at a party when another guest, Dr Nigel Yeo approaches her to ask for her help. Jen, not fully sober, brushes him off.

The next day that man is found dead, stabbed with a piece of glass from his daughters glass blowing workshop. He seems such an unlikely victim and when his daughter turns out to be a friend of Matthew’s husband Jonathan, it seems this crime is always going to involve that Matthew knows.

When another body turns up, with a similar killing method. Matthew and his team dig deeper into these people and what Dr Nigel Yeo really wanted to tell Jen at that party. However the truth is sometimes hidden away amongst those in the community and are they all closing ranks as the police get to the truth.

This book is not a fast paced thriller, if that is what you are looking for then this is not the book for you. It is a book which develops as you turn the pages, the characters and their background build. The past is filled in and as the clues lead you to think that perhaps the answer is all so clear, the metaphorical rug is pulled out and you are turned to face the truth. Of course it was obvious – wasn’t it?

More is filled in about Matthew and the past life he has escaped as he tries to come to terms with the life he is leading now. We learn more about Ross May and his relationship with his wife. Jen is still coming to terms with living in a smaller town than the large city she left behind. All three of them seem unlikely work colleagues but somehow it works and the author uses the small team, the community, the setting to weave a great murder mystery tale.

If you want modern day crime fiction in the vein of those golden ages then always start with Ann Cleeves and you will enjoy every page, every book and every detective created.

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

The Heron’s Cry is out now

Books

The Rose Garden – Tracy Rees

Wake up and smell the roses world, because women are no longer going to capitulate, they will branch out on their own. Making friendships and decisions that will shock the society of 1895 when this book is set, steeped in Victorian values. The author takes us to the past as much as the present.

1895, London, Hampstead. Olive’s life is full of privilege, she knows how lucky she is, but she craves to have a child. A difficulty when unmarried in 1895. However that does not stop head strong Olive and her sense of philanthropy leading her to an orphanage.

Mabs, has become the matriarch of the household after her mother dies, with younger siblings and a grieving father, she works on the canals, disguised as a young boy. It is some of the most dangerous work. An opportunity though takes to her to Hampstead, to be a companion of Mrs Finch.

Young Ottilie Finch, is only twelve and along with her family, they are newly arrived from Durham. For reasons we do not know but are of some intrigue. Ottillie wants to explore this new territory and finds herself meeting some very different people and cannot understand others abuse about the friendships she wants to build.

Women and girls, who are all on different paths in life, but through the magic of storytelling all come together and their worlds mix and collide. What you think of perhaps as modern day problems; racism; domestic abuse and sexism is played out in this historical context and was at times upsetting but also heartening to know that we have progressed from having to dress up as males to seek work.

This book wanted me to cheer out loud for these female characters who were facing society head on. It had me hooked as I knew it would from this author and I felt bereft when it ended as I wanted to know more about these wonderful women and what happens next in their story.

Simply engrossing and one of my favourite reads of 2021.

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

The Rose Garden is out now.

Books

The Country Village Summer Fete – Cathy Lake

Little Bramble Village is the childhood home of Emma and since she has left, she has hardly returned for more than a few days if that. But on the edge of her forties and with her fifties looming fast, she suddenly feels that perhaps she has achieved nothing and certainly doesn’t have anything to show for it.

Returning to Little Bramble, with the reason to look after her widowed father who seems to have lost his way is Emma’s excuse to perhaps take stock of where she is in life and where she wants to go next.

However going back means she needs to face what she left behind in the village all those years ago – her first love. Confronting her actions from the past and the villagers who have long memories too, means that perhaps Emma needs to stop and reassess what she was really running away from. Can the answer be found in her mother’s workshop, full of jams and chutney? Can the answer be found in making friends and catching up with old ones? Can the answer be watching your dad deal with the widowhood? Can the answer be in the past?

Clear, really from the start where and how this book was going to pan out, it was a pleasant diversion and was great to return a place I have visited before, in the first novel. They work well as standalone books and there is no need for any prior knowledge. I would have like a bit more intrigue, ‘will they, won’t they’ jeopardy before the happy ending. It was just a bit too neat for me.

A book to while away the hours, but for me perhaps a series I would not return to, when there are perhaps stronger books out there.

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

The Country Village Summer Fete is out now.

Books

The Reading List – Sara Nisha Adams

A book about books, what more could a book lover possibly want to read?

Aleisha is a reluctant employee at the local library and not that much of a reader, this is a job that her brother previously did and is a stop gap until the next part of her education.

She ventures no further than the library and home, her world is very small but she discovers a list of books to read that allow her world to expand and perhaps allow her to connect with other people, with her mother, with library patrons.

Mukesh, a widower misses his wife terribly, the gap she has left behind can never be filled and the stifling protection of his daughters means he has yet to find a new way to live being a widow. He wants to connect somehow to his granddaughter and through her love of books he finds himself at the library that Aleisha works at. He finds a list of book that broaden his horizons and he finds new worlds to share with everyone.

The list of books, covers a wide range of different books, which if you are familiar with will make perfect sense into how they fit into the story and their own stories they tell to help both Aleisha, Mukesh and us as readers. If you are not familiar with then you have just gained a whole list for to enjoy at your leisure.

This is a powerful and emotional book and I was caught out by one particular plot thread, so swept away was I with the story and the characters, it felt that I was suffering my own loss. The comfort was the familiarity of books, the comfort that they can give and the way they help and heal. The message which this debut novel has conveyed with sensitivity, across cultures, across ages and across book shelves.

Without doubt, one of the best books I have read and one that I would recommend for anyone who has a passion about books.

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

The Reading List is out now.

Books

The Seaside Cocktail Campervan – Caroline Roberts

It is only in recent years that I have discovered Caroline Roberts and was thrilled to be able to read the latest from her. The cover itself is a delight and a great draw and just absolutely cheers your soul as does the story within.

Lucy lives in a cottage just near the sea with Daisy the Dachshund her faithful companion since she realises that her fiancé was never going to propose, well not to her anyway. Changing her life completely she finds herself starting a new adventure and venture with the Horse Box she has converted to a mobile Pizza van.

Jack has been driving his red Cocktail Campervan to local events, weddings, parties in Northumberland for the last couple of years. Whilst it is not what his parents thought he would end up doing, he has had made a success of it and he is kept busy. However Jack seems to be using all his energy into this venture and not giving himself any time for life and love.

Lucy and Jack’s paths cross at many events and the book is wonderfully divided into different events that we are also invited along to share the fun, the laughter, the wonderfully cocktails created and the delicious pizzas which simply make your mouth water.

Thanks to Daisy, Lucy does make rather an impact on Jack’s campervan and when they find themselves drawn together, despite some prior warnings and previous hurts it seems that the happy ending is clear for all to see. Of course true love does not always run smoothly and of course you need to be sure and both Lucy and Jack test this to the max.

Like the perfect pizza and cocktail you know when you have found your favourite and it made my heart sing the whole way through this story with Lucy and Jack. I wanted to dive right into the book, queue for the pizza and watch the cocktail being made and curl up in Lucy’s delightful cottage.

A book that will leave you simply smiling and with your heart full of joy – the best tonic to any cocktail!

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

The Seaside Cocktail Campervan is published today.