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

Mistletoe at Moonstone Lake – Holly Martin

Way back in June, I was lucky enough to get the preview cover reveal of Holly Martin’s latest novel set on the magical Jewel Island. Now it is time to tell you all about what that cover might reveal!

It is Christmas at Jewel Island and if you have been with Holly (and me reviewing these books!) from the beginning then you will recognised some familiar names and faces from the island. However like all of her books, they can be read as a standalone and this would be a great place to start if this is your first time reading the author.

Zoey had this Christmas all planned out, in fact her wedding was to be on Christmas Eve, but it seems her fiancé had other ideas and now Zoey finds herself at Jewel Island Christmas Market selling her quirky drawings and paintings to those looking for something different as a gift.

Staying near her mum on this magical island seems the best tonic for a jilted bride. That is until fate throws something in her way.

In fact fate in the form of Kit Lewis, doesn’t just throw something in her way he throws something over her! From that moment, their fate is sealed. The attraction instant and you are immediately behind these two lost souls who seem drawn together.

That is until a secret Zoey has been keeping is going to destroy everything. It wasn’t her secret to tell and she is determined to keep that promise.

Can the perfect Christmas sparkle for these two on Jewel Island?

As ever, this is a wonderfully uplifting book which is filled with everything you would expect from this author and everything you would expect from a Christmas market too! Mulled Wine, Hot Chocolate, Snow, Churros and a visit from Santa. What more could you want to get you in the festive mood?

Thank you to the author who kindly provided me with a copy of this book in return for an honest review. I have received nothing in return and the only thing I give is the recommendation to read this book. 

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

Autumn Dreams at Mermaids Point – Sarah Bennett

Nerissa Morgan, forty three and spinster of Mermaids Point. Her true love, her soul mate died many years previous before their lives had really begun. Nerissa has never really moved on it seems.

She is simple waking up and existing each day as the receptionist and live in housekeeper at Mermaids Point Doctors surgery. She doesn’t even need to go far, she has accommodation there as well. Her world is very small.

With the Doctor retiring, Nerissa needs to except the fact that everything is going to change. However she did not bargain for the handsome Tom Nelson to arrive into her life and her life getting much bigger.

Dr Tom Nelson has lost his wife, he threw himself into his work as a GP in London and neglected not just himself but also his two children, who were grieving for their mum. When an incident at school leads to some honest truths, Tom decides it is time to take a break. That break he decides will be a Mermaids Point.

Will it be for a week? Or will the magic of the place, the community and the possibility of his own mermaid in Nerissa, mean that the week will last a lot longer.

This is the second in the series of books set in Mermaids Point. Of course if you come to this book first, you will still find yourself drawn into the place and the wonderful characters that make up the Morgan family, which include Nerissa. It is great to see a woman of a certain age being the main protagonist in this story.

It was also lovely to still see plenty of the characters from the first book and that they were fully involved in the story and not just names mentioned as reference points like you can get in some series of novels. I always think this is what makes Sarah Bennett’s books stand out from some I read.

This is a lovely book of second chances, hope and how the sea can frighten and heal in equal measure and just maybe some dreams can come true, even if you have to wait a while for them! I could not help but fall in love with Mermaids Point and the Morgan family all over again with this book.

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

Autumn Dreams at Mermaids Point is published today.

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

Running out of Road – Cath Staincliffe

Three different people. Not connected until today.

Scarlett; on her way home to her Nana who has looked after her since the death of her mother. Excited to be in the school show the following day. Dancing brings her so much joy.

Dylan; always trying to keep one step ahead, never staying in the same nest for long, picking off each victim and dealing the drugs and then moving on. One day he will make it and not be the one doing all the work. Aim big.

Ron; being a house sitter and pet sitter by default seems really a lot easier to handle than real humans. From his previous job as a firefighter, this is much more pleasant.

DS Laura O’Neil, a mother with a teething toddler who has left him at home with his father as she suddenly gets to know all these people.

All these people that are thrown together and for one wet, stormy and panicky night all their roads cross. As they all take different turnings, will Laura get to the truth?

This fast paced thriller left me exhausted without leaving my home. Whether it was the vast swathes of the Peak District that was covered physically as the hunt for all three of them takes over the pages of the book. Or the historic events that build up the characters of the here and now. The country line drug storyline was strong and frightening real as if you are reading a news reports. You have to remember the main events are just a mere twenty four hours. The skill of the writing made it feel like a week of my life.

If you want a great British thriller which covers many themes including guilt and grief and the overarching hope of a better future then this is simply the book for you. Highly recommend for a heart stopping read to keep you on the edge of your seat.

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

Running out of Road 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

Orphans of the Storm – Celia Imrie

Marcella married young, swept away by Michael a man who has ambitions to be the best tailor in Nice, South of France. However the romance has gone and Marcella is left with a jealous husband who wishes to control and bully.

Marcella makes the momentous decision that she needs to leave this man for the sake of herself and her two young boys. Divorce is not going to be easy, it is 1911 and the French courts need to decide whether this will go ahead and what happens to the two young boys.

Margaret has been touring around Europe with friends, but she is bored and wishes to return to her home in America. When the chance to travel home in style on the RMS Titanic, Margaret makes the fatal choice.

How can these different lives cross? It is inevitable that they will, but perhaps not in the circumstances that everyone thinks. When you begin a book which clearly features one of the most famous ships in history, there is an inevitably about it – prior knowledge means you known what happens on that fateful night in April 1912. Interestingly the event doesn’t happen until well into the last third of the book – a sense of trepidation is built as the story of Michael and Marcella is built upon.

The introduction of Margaret, becomes clearer as the book goes on and as readers we are swept under the sea as everyone’s worlds change.

Whilst slow at points, I did wonder where and how this book was going to culminate and I was so intrigued by the characters that were created. I was completely surprised by the fact that whilst this story was fiction – every person and experience was based on real people and real events. The information and research given at the end of the book is fascinating and brought more to the story than if it had been pure fiction.

Very different to previous novels and I noticed that the author has had some assistance in research which is fine, but made me doubt as to how much was really the author. That though is probably my fussiness and for fans of historical fiction this definitely a book that is worth a read.

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

Orphans of the Storm 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.