Saturday 31 December 2022

Sepultura (The Necropolis Series Book 2) - Guy Portman

This sociopath is a ticking time bomb.

Dyson Devereux is a busy man with a new job and a young son. The cultured council worker would be coping just fine were he not a violent and compulsive murderer. His child’s mother’s hostile partner and an antagonising work colleague are becoming a serious nuisance. They better change their attitude, or it could be the end of them.

As his personal and professional lives threaten to spiral out of control, it is only a matter of time until the suave and sophisticated public sector employee explodes.

Sepultura is a darkly humorous crime novel featuring an unforgettable sociopath.

What did I think?

My favourite sociopath is back!  Sepultura is the second book in the Necropolis series and although it could be read as a standalone, I do think it is better to have read book 1, Necropolis as it gives you more insight into Dyson's character (and because it's absolutely brilliant and unmissable).

Dyson Devereux is such a fantastic character that I could read about his exploits for so many more pages than the 181 in the book.  If someone disagrees with Dyson, either verbally or just by their very existence, he simply gets rid of them.  Dyson's dark thoughts and actions are simultaneously shocking and hilarious, making Sepultura an incredibly entertaining novel.

I loved reading about Dyson's relationship with his son and his attempt to teach young Horatio Latin is very amusing.  I'm really looking forward to seeing how this unconventional father/son relationship progresses.

Dyson's personal life is entertaining, but his work life is even more so.  It feels really bad to say, but I totally get what he means about a lot of his colleagues and I've had similar thoughts myself (apart from actually wanting to kill them, of course!).  The work trip to Italy is a fantastic addition to the storyline and turns out to be the perfect place for Dyson to deal with a troublesome colleague.

I absolutely loved Sepultura; I am completely hooked on this marvellous series and can't get enough of it. Sepultura is like nothing else I've read before; it's dark, funny, entertaining and I'd love to see Dyson brought to life on screen - please pick this one up, Netflix!  I'll definitely be reading it again after I have devoured the rest of the series.  

If you're looking for something different to read, then look no further.  Very highly recommended.

Many thanks to Guy Portman for sending me an ARC to read and review; this is my honest and unbiased opinion.

My rating:

Buy it from Amazon

Wednesday 28 December 2022

Revenge: Meghan, Harry and the war between the Windsors - Tom Bower

The British Royal Family believed that the dizzy success of the Sussex wedding, watched and celebrated around the world, was the beginning of a new era for the Windsors. Yet, within one tumultuous year, the dream became a nightmare. In the aftermath of the infamous Megxit split and the Oprah Winfrey interview, the Royal Family's fate seems persistently threatened.

As Meghan and Harry's much-trailed Netflix documentary finally airs, the public remains puzzled. Meghan's success has alternatively won praise, bewildered and outraged. Confused by the Sussexes' slick publicity, few understand the real Meghan Markle. What lies ahead for Meghan? And what has happened to the family she married into? Can the Windsors restore their reputation?

With extensive research, expert sourcing and interviews from insiders who have never spoken before, Tom Bower, Britain's leading investigative biographer, unpicks the tangled web of courtroom drama, courtier politics and thwarted childhood dreams to uncover an astonishing story of love, betrayal, secrets and revenge.

What did I think?

I'm not particularly a fan of the monarchy but I would have had to have been living under a rock to have missed the war of the Windsors.  Whilst I didn't follow the Megxit split, I did feel sorry for the Queen losing her grandson. Unfortunately, family feuds do happen in real life and the Royal Family are clearly no exception.

I loved Suits so I knew who Meghan Markle was when she first appeared by Harry's side, but I would have classed her as the kind of 'celebrity' who would appear in I'm a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here - someone who not many people would recognise.  That's all changed now and everyone knows who Meghan Markle is.  Finally, she can be the star of the show...erm, not exactly, she's still just a supporting cast member.

Revenge is very interesting reading and it seems to have been meticulously researched.  Reading the inconsistencies, contradictions and story changes is astonishing and I really can't argue with some of the facts that are laid out before me.  What I do argue with is the mindless hatred that seems to be directed at Meghan - nobody should have to experience that, whether they're in the public eye or not.

Whether you love them or hate them, there's no denying that the Royal Family didn't know what hit them when Meghan married Harry.  British history is well documented and this is one history that Meghan Markle cannot erase or rewrite.

I really enjoyed Revenge and would definitely recommend giving it a read.

My rating:

Buy it from Amazon

Friday 23 December 2022

The Paris Apartment - Lucy Foley

In a beautiful old apartment block, deep in the backstreets of Paris, secrets are stirring behind every resident’s door.

The lonely wife
The party animal
The curtain-twitcher
The secret lover
The watchful caretaker
The unwanted guest

One resident is missing. Only the killer holds the key to the mystery… 

What did I think?

Yowzers! Reviewing this book without giving anything away is going to be tricky so this may be a short review, but it’s no reflection on how completely brilliant the book is.

I love Lucy Foley books and The Paris Apartment is no exception.  I absolutely raced through it and couldn’t put it down, greedily devouring every single word until I had discovered all of the skeletons in its closet.  The residents of these luxury apartments have more skeletons in their closets than Halloween, that's for sure.

Jess is visiting her brother in Paris but when she gets there he has disappeared.  Jess seems to be the only one worried about Ben, despite his friend being one of his neighbours.  Told from various points of view, Jess begins her search for Ben whilst the reader peeks through the keyhole of each apartment.

The characters are drawn brilliantly; I was suspicious of all of them and I thought I had worked out what had happened to Ben (and where he was) but of course it's a Lucy Foley book so I was completely wrong.  I love being wrong like this though and there are so many jawdropping moments in the book that I'm surprised I didn't have jaw ache.

Brilliantly written, The Paris Apartment is a twisty, addictive and entertaining mystery.  It's reminiscent of Agatha Christie and I'd love to see this on the big screen.  C'est magnifique!

I received a gifted paperback for the Tandem Collective readalong and this is my honest and unbiased opinion.

My rating:

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Monday 19 December 2022

The Tuppenny Child - Glenda Young

'She's not worth more than tuppence, that child!'

Those are the words that haunt Sadie Linthorpe. She is the talk of Ryhope when she arrives there, aged seventeen, alone, seeking work and a home in the pit village. But Sadie is keeping a secret - she is searching for her baby girl who was taken from her at birth a year ago and cruelly sold by the child's grandmother.

All that Sadie knows about the family who took her daughter is that they live in Ryhope. And the only thing she knows about her daughter is that when the baby was born, she had a birthmark on one shoulder that resembled a tiny ladybird. But as Sadie's quest begins, a visitor from her past appears - one who could jeopardise the life she's beginning to build and ruin her chances of finding her beloved child for ever...

What did I think?

I've made no secret of the fact that I absolutely love Glenda Young's sagas and I first discovered them at book three, Pearl of Pit Lane, so I made sure to add the first two books to my collection.  The beauty of Glenda Young's books is that they're not a series and you can read them in any order, although you do often get cameo appearances by characters from previous books and it's like waving to old friends when they get mentioned.

The Tuppenny Child is set in Ryhope, a small mining village in Sunderland, but it's further down the coast in Hartlepool where we meet our heroine, Sadie.  Sadie is a hard worker and all her earnings are handed over to her landlady for her bed and board and my heart went out to her at being stuck in such a vicious circle.  When Sadie finds herself pregnant by the landlady's son, her landlady sees her chance for a few extra pennies and sells the baby behind Sadie's back.  This is when we see the true strength of Sadie as she vows to get her daughter back and follows her to Ryhope.  

I know Ryhope well but even if I didn't, Glenda Young's wonderfully descriptive writing creates all the sights and sounds of the bustling pit village.  The characters are larger than life and I loved the pub landladies who each run one of the many pubs in the village.  The strength of women, despite their many challenges, is shown beautifully and there is a keen sense of community that warms the heart.

Heartwarming doesn't even come close to describing The Tuppenny Child as it's also heartbreaking yet completely uplifting and incredibly entertaining.  It's a book I will definitely read again and I absolutely loved it.  Very highly recommended.

Wednesday 14 December 2022

Night Sky Almanac 2023 - Storm Dunlop and Wil Tirion

A beautiful gift for anyone interested in the night sky.

Follow the progress of constellations throughout the seasons with this beautiful companion to the night sky from Astronomy experts Collins.

With the aid of easy-to-understand monthly calendars and maps, you will chart the rhythm of the lunar phases, discover events that light up the sky for brief periods, and explore the rich tapestry of characters that adorn the starry canvas overhead.

  • never miss a night sky event wherever you are in the world with this month-by-month guide
  • go meteor spotting, track the phases of the moon and explore the constellations
  • worldwide coverage – with details for both the Northern and Southern hemispheres
  • discover fascinating celestial facts and notable astronomical anniversaries
Written and illustrated by astronomical experts, Storm Dunlop and Wil Tirion, and approved by the astronomers of the Royal Observatory Greenwich.

What did I think?

I’ve always been interested in the night sky but this is the first almanac I have ever had; I expect it to be put to good use throughout the whole of 2023.

The hardback has a beautifully illustrated cloth bound style cover and it’s a really handy pocket-sized book to slip in your bag if you’re going out stargazing.  The month by month guide to the night sky has some handy features to quickly and easily select the correct month: each month is highlighted on the page edges and there is a very useful ribbon marker too.

There is a lot of information at the start and end of the book for novices and accomplished stargazers alike, including: introduction, some interesting objects, major events in 2023, the moon, map of the moon, the circumpolar constellations, world map, dark sky sites, twilight diagrams, glossary and tables, and an index.

Each month contains a wealth of information to devour as well as charts and diagrams to peruse.  I found some of the small fonts on the diagrams to be a little hard to read, especially as they are white words printed on a black background so you might need a magnifying glass if you don’t have good eyes.

It’s very good value for money and incredibly giftable for anyone interested in looking at the night sky.  I can’t wait for January so I can improve my knowledge and further appreciate the night sky.

My rating:

Buy it from Amazon

Wednesday 7 December 2022

BLOG TOUR: Behind Closed Doors - Carol Wyer

Two kidnappings, thirty years apart. Can Stacey face her own dark past in order to save her stepdaughter?

When Stacey’s ex-husband turns up on her doorstep begging her to help save his kidnapped thirteen-year-old daughter, Lyra, the terror is all too familiar. Stacey’s own violent kidnapping thirty years ago was never solved, and while a severe case of amnesia spares her from recalling the specific horrors, she remembers enough…

Stacey knows her father never paid the ransom—she has the missing pinkie finger to prove it. She knows she was only saved because of an anonymous tip-off to the police. And she knows her captor was never apprehended.

Lyra’s kidnappers have made it clear the police must not get involved. But Stacey can’t shake the eerie similarities between the two cases, and she’ll use whatever she can, from her journalistic powers to her shady contacts, to save Lyra from the same nightmare. Desperate to find any link between Lyra’s abduction and her own, Stacey forces herself to revisit her forgotten, traumatic past for clues.

But can she make sense of the terrible secrets she unearths in time to save Lyra? And if she does, is she ready to face her own tormentor?

What did I think?

I'm a huge fan of Carol Wyer's novels so I was very excited to read her new novel, Behind Closed Doors and I'm delighted to say that I was not disappointed.  

When Stacey's stepdaughter Lyra is kidnapped, Stacey is forced to revisit her own kidnapping 30 years earlier as the key to finding Lyra is buried deep in Stacey's past memories.  There's a real race against time feel that keeps the pages turning rapidly; if it's the same kidnapper, then we know they're serious as Stacey has the scars to prove it.

As Stacey tries to recover suppressed memories, it creates a dual timeline as the reader finds out what happened to Stacey in 1992 as well as experiencing Lyra's spookily similar kidnapping in 2022.  I was constantly wondering whether it was the same kidnapper or just someone who knew enough about Stacey's past to become a copycat.  You'll have to read it for yourself to find out which one it was!

Behind Closed Doors is gripping, intriguing and incredibly tense.   Once again, Carol Wyer had me on the edge of my seat as I raced through another one of her fantastic page-turners.  A recommended read.

I received a gifted copy to read and review for the Instagram tour; this is my honest and unbiased opinion.

My rating:

Buy it from Amazon

About the author:
USA Today bestselling author and winner of The People's Book Prize Award, Carol Wyer's crime novels have sold over one million copies and been translated into nine languages. 

A move from humour to the 'dark side' in 2017, saw the introduction of popular DI Robyn Carter in Little Girl Lost and proved that Carol had found her true niche.

February 2021 saw the release of the first in the much-anticipated new series, featuring DI Kate Young. An Eye For An Eye was chosen as a Kindle First Reads and became the #1 bestselling book on Amazon UK and Amazon Australia. 

Carol has had articles published in national magazines 'Woman's Weekly', featured in 'Take A Break', 'Choice', 'Yours' and 'Woman's Own' magazines and the Huffington Post. She's also been interviewed on numerous radio shows discussing ''Irritable Male Syndrome' and 'Ageing Disgracefully' and on BBC Breakfast television.

She currently lives on a windy hill in rural Staffordshire with her husband Mr. Grumpy... who is very, very grumpy. When she is not plotting devious murders, she can be found performing her comedy routine, Smile While You Still Have Teeth.

To learn more, go to, subscribe to her YouTube channel, or follow her on Twitter: @carolewyer

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BLOG TOUR: Local Girl Missing - J. A. Baker

Missing without trace...

When local woman Deborah goes missing, her colleagues Adrian, Yvonne and Merriel are all left in shock. Gossip around the office begins to swirl – what could have happened to Deborah? Is she dead or alive? And who could be responsible for her disappearance?

Everyone is terrified that they could be next…except the one person who has all the answers. The last person people expect.

Because Deborah is being held captive by a monster, a psychopath. But not a stranger… it’s someone she knows all too well…

What did I think?

I love J.A. Baker's books and Local Girl Missing is no exception.  It's so tense it's as taut as a bow string and I couldn't read it fast enough to discover who was behind Deborah's disappearance.

Deborah's colleagues are shocked and distressed when she disappears, but as worried as they are about Deborah, what shocks them just as much is that it could quite easily have been one of them instead.  J.A. Baker puts each of the characters under the microscope as the reader delves beneath their skin to see who they really are. 

Workplace rivalries and gossiping colleagues help to build up the tension as we get to know the characters and discover what each of them is hiding.  If you work full-time, you spend more of your awake time with your colleagues than your family but you never really get to know them.  We all have a work persona and it's only when you inadvertently let your guard down that your colleagues might catch a glimpse of the real you.

I can safely say that I did guess who the kidnapper was in Local Girl Missing but only because I suspected every single character at one time or another, so I would've been right at some point.  Without giving anything away, I really enjoyed discovering the motivation behind Deborah's abduction; even though it's pretty creepy to think that someone you know could be hiding a very dark secret behind their friendly face.

J.A. Baker's writing is exceptional as she builds up suspense and creates so much suspicion about every character.  The tension builds as the reader slowly peels away layer after layer of every character to see what's really underneath.

Tense, suspenseful and compelling, Local Girl Missing is another cracking J.A. Baker novel.  I really enjoyed the workplace setting and think J.A. Baker totally nailed it.  Recommended.

I received a digital ARC to read and review for the blog tour and this is my honest and unbiased opinion.

My rating:

Buy it from Amazon

About the author:

J. A. Baker is a successful psychological thriller writer of numerous books, previously published by Bloodhound. Born and brought up in Middlesbrough, she still lives in the North East, which inspires the settings for her books. Her first title for Boldwood will be published in December 2022.

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Monday 5 December 2022

BLOG TOUR: Homecoming - Isabel Ashdown

Welcome to The Starlings... sun, sea and neighbours to die for.

Security, a sparkling sea view and the best kind of neighbours - The Starlings gated community has it all. Here, doors are left open, children run free, and at the heart of it all is the entrepreneurial Gold Family, who first dreamed up this aspirational vision of 'Dorset's Safest Community'. To the outside world the popular family appears glitteringly blessed... until an idyllic party takes a dark turn and one of their number is found slumped at the foot of the clocktower. Who knows what really happened? And what answers are harboured within the old building, the former Highcap Mother and Baby Home?'

A mesmerising, character-rich thriller with a long-buried secret vibrating at its core: this is Isabel Ashdown at her heart-stopping best, for readers who enjoyed Big Little Lies, Dr Foster or Little Fires Everywhere.

What did I think?

Isabel Ashdown is an author whose books I always enjoy and her latest novel, Homecoming, is no exception.  The format of the book creates unbelievable suspense with a short, disturbing present day prologue before the story takes the reader back to one year ago.  

The Gold Family are very well named; they seem to have the Midas touch.  Katrin, her husband Bill and brother-in-law Hugo are property developers who have renovated an old workhouse that later became a mother and baby home.  The Starlings is named after the birds that nest in the clocktower, but its previous incarnation as Highcap House still has secrets held within its walls...and it looks like someone will kill to keep them buried.

I'm not going to mention any more about the story as it could spoil it for other readers.  Needless to say, with so many secrets I was suspicious of all the characters and thought I had guessed all of the secrets but I was completely wrong.  I love being wrong about a book as it means it has been written so skilfully that it misdirects me completely, which is exactly what Isabel Ashdown does so very cleverly in Homecoming.

Hauntingly atmospheric, Homecoming has a simultaneously idyllic and sinister setting as past and present events collide and secrets that span decades are about to be revealed.  I read Homecoming with a constant feeling of unease and I loved every minute of it. 

I received an ARC to read and review for the blog tour; this is my honest and unbiased opinion.

My rating:

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Friday 2 December 2022

BLOG TOUR: The Drums of War (Thomas Tallant Mysteries Book 3) - Michael Ward

London 1642.

The King has fled London with the drums of war ringing in his ears. Across the country, lines are being drawn and armies raised.

Influential royalist Lady Carlisle switches sides and presses spice trader Thomas Tallant and his partner Elizabeth Seymour into Parliament's service.

Soon Thomas faces double-dealing in his hunt for a lethal hoard of gunpowder hidden on the river, while Elizabeth engages in a race against time to locate a hidden sniper picking off Parliamentary officers at will in the city.

The capital also witnesses a vicious gang of jewel thieves take advantage of the city’s chaos to go on the rampage, smashing homes and shops, leaving a trail of destruction in their wake. They hand pick their targets but refrain from selling any of their loot. There are more questions than answers.

When war finally erupts, Elizabeth is caught in the brutalising carnage of Edgehill while Thomas joins the Trained Bands in their defence of the city. As he mans the barricades at Brentford, in a desperate rearguard action to repel Prince Rupert’s surprise attack, he realises the future of London rests in the hands of him and a few hundred troopers.

Meanwhile, Elizabeth believes she has identified the jewel thief and goes underground to trace his hoard.

But all is not as it seems.

What did I think?

I love this historical fiction series, set in the mid 17th century when England is on the brink of Civil War, and I absolutely loved book three, The Drums of War.  Although it's book three, it can be read as a standalone but it's so much better when read as part of the series as you really get to know the characters.

Thomas Tallant is the main character and there's a lot going on for him but I loved how his partner, pipe-smoking Elizabeth Seymour, had a major storyline too.  Both storylines are excellent with Thomas following the trail of gunpowder as war simmers on the horizon and Elizabeth hunts a killer of army officers and some jewel thieves.

Michael Ward's writing is outstanding as he brings this tumultuous period of history to life; I was so immersed in the story that I could almost smell the gunpowder.  The writing is so vivid and descriptive that it's so easy to imagine the scenes playing out in this action-packed historical novel.

I love finding out new things when I'm reading books and The Drums of War introduced me to the fascinating Cheapside Hoard.  It makes a book extra special when fact mixes with fiction and I have been completely captivated reading about this mysterious hoard of jewellery. 

Filled with mystery, danger and adventure, The Drums of War is an outstanding historical fiction novel and an exceptional instalment in this wonderful series.  Even after thinking the previous novel can't be bettered, Michael Ward goes and does it again; this magnificent series just keeps getting better and better.  Very highly recommended.

I received a digital ARC from the author and this is my honest and unbiased opinion.

My rating:

Buy it from Amazon

About the author:

Writing has been central to Mike Ward’s professional life. On graduating from university he became a journalist, working in newspapers and for the BBC. He then went into journalism education, teaching and researching journalism practice before becoming head of the UK’s prestigious Journalism School at UCLan. For the last eight years he has run his own content creation company.

‘Rags of Time’ is Mike’s debut novel. Its sequel is due to be published late in 2020.

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Thursday 1 December 2022

BLOG TOUR: A Lobster Tale - Erica Manwaring

Laura Robinson can’t be doing with people. She understands the theory but seems to have failed the practical. One day she receives the gift of a lobster. The fact that no one else can see it is less astonishing than what it allows her to see – visions of people’s inner motivations and torments. Laura goes from knowing nothing about people, to knowing everything. Using her new superpower Laura finally gets the life her mother always wanted. But is she happy? To distract herself from that question, she sets out to pay her gift forward, with Lobster’s help. It's tough saving the world but it’s simpler than dealing with the things Lobster is showing her about her own life. Must she really face why her father left and what happened to her as a child? She has been living underwater and it’s time to come up for air.

What did I think?

Oh I loved this fabulous little book.  It may only be 238 pages long but it's definitely quality over quantity in this case.

The premise of the book is very intriguing: imagine if you could see things about people that would explain their actions.  A little magical lobster shows main character Laura why people behave the way they do but you have to wonder whether this is a gift or a curse.  I loved that Laura tried to help people with her gift, despite dealing with people being so far outside of her comfort zone, and it was quite eye-opening to consider the emotional baggage that a lot of people carry around with them.

I could be Laura; I can't be doing with people either so I totally empathised with her.  The things she does and says had me exclaiming, 'that's me!' on many occasions throughout the book.  I absolutely adored little lobster and I think everyone who reads this book would want one for themselves.

Erica Manwaring's vivid and evocative writing really brings the characters to life and the lobster felt so real that I wouldn't have been surprised to find her doing a little dance on my coffee table when I finally looked up from the book.  I feel like I have been on quite an emotional journey with Laura and her lobster and I'm missing them already, so this book is definitely going on my 'to read again' shelf. 

Delightful, entertaining and incredibly thought-provoking, A Lobster Tale is a fantastic book that helps you to understand people a little more while embracing the fact that we are all different and we don't always have to fit in.  Very highly recommended.

I received an ARC to read and review for the blog tour and this is my honest and unbiased opinion.

My rating:

Buy it from Amazon

About the author:

I learn for a living and write for fun. An extrovert by nature, for some reason I very much enjoy closeting myself in a room with imaginary people and letting them surprise me with what they say and do. Having worked in mental health improvement for many years I write about the struggles that people face and the strength they show in living with and overcoming them. 

I’m a single mum to the best thing I have ever done and a grateful resident of Scotland for over 25 years. I’m surrounded by a community of writers who have helped me achieve my dreams of seeing my work in print. This is my second book.

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Monday 28 November 2022

BLOG TOUR: Cooking the Books: A Killer Collection of Recipes to Die For - The Hobeck Team

If an army marches on its stomach, what do crime fiction authors do? Here’s your answer, an exclusive collection of recipes from the Hobeck Books authors team served with a dash of brilliant flash fiction too…

If you love a dribble of ketchup or a drizzle of raspberry jus with your fiction, then this is the cookery book for you.

Discover the delights of mouth-watering Maltese rabbit pasta and luscious lamb in coffee. Or dare to sample chicken wings more deadly than a game of chilli roulette.

Then there’s the story of how a midnight cheese, cucumber and salad cream sandwich helped launch Hobeck itself.

This collection guarantees stomach rumbles and belly roils, and all proceeds help others through the Trussell Trust and their network of foodbanks across the UK.

What did I think?

This is a wonderful charity anthology with an unusual twist: there aren't just fabulous short stories to discover when you open the book, there are also some mouthwatering recipes to try.

Hobeck publish outstanding books so it's no surprise that this anthology is of the highest quality as the authors I have come to know and love have contributed to it.  Even Adrian and Rebecca, Hobeck itself, have written stories and it was lovely of Rebecca to share the personal story about the sandwich that helped to launch Hobeck.

I was entertained from start to finish and I loved the format of the book with each part headed up by an imaginative recipe that describes the different genres that Hobeck publish.  It's perfectly balanced with stories and recipes; I loved every single story and there are so many recipes I want to try.

Proceeds from the sale of the book are being donated to The Trussell Trust and with cost of living rising so rapidly, supporting food banks is even more important now.  It really is a fabulous anthology - definitely put this one on your Christmas list.   Not to be missed and very highly recommended.

I received an ARC to read and review for the blog tour and this is my honest and unbiased opinion.

My rating:

Buy it from Amazon

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Friday 25 November 2022

BLOG TOUR: A Murder at the Castle - Chris McGeorge

King Eric is dead. And when the motive is succession, murder is a family affair...


* * * * *

During a violent snowstorm, the Royal Family gather at the Castle for a traditional Christmas together. Amid rumours that he plans to name a new successor, King Eric stands to make his traditional after-dinner speech. He sips from a glass of his favourite whisky - and drops dead.

The king has been poisoned, and only one of the royals could have done the deed. Trapped by the raging blizzard, it is up to Eric's beloved head chef, Jonathan Alleyne, to play detective and get to the bottom of this heinous crime.

Jon is determined to expose the truth, even if it puts him in grave danger, and threatens to shake the entire monarchy to its core...

What did I think?

A Murder at the Castle is great fun; it's very entertaining with a colourful cast of privileged characters who would kill to get their hands on the crown.  

Set in Balmoral Castle in the Scottish Highlands, it's very atmospheric with snow falling heavily on Christmas Day.  Chris McGeorge's writing is so vivid that I found it very easy to visualise the grounds and interior of the castle.

The cast of characters is brilliant and I loved the chef, Jon.  Jon has a lot on his hands on the biggest day of the year as King Eric has given Christmas Day off to all of his staff except his chef and head of security.  Jon has prepared King Eric's final meal as the King drops down dead after drinking his after dinner whisky.  As they are completely isolated due to the snowstorm, the royal family turn to Jon to investigate.

It's very reminiscent of Agatha Christie with every character having a motive: the King was about to name his successor.  I suspected all of them, as I was meant to, but I was still surprised as the full story was revealed.  I liked the idea that the characters are supposed to be the descendants of Edward VIII, in an alternative history where Edward VIII was never forced to abdicate, but I didn't really feel this came through in the story and I quickly forgot about it.

A Murder at the Castle is an entertaining cosy mystery and a great book to read during winter as the snow falls and Christmas lights twinkle.  I enjoyed it and could totally imagine it being made into a festive film in the future.

I received an ARC to read and review for the blog tour and this is my honest and unbiased opinion.

My rating:

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Thursday 24 November 2022

BLOG TOUR: A Mother's Christmas Wish - Glenda Young

'I hope this Christmas is better than last year's.'

Following a scandalous affair, wayward Emma Devaney is sent in disgrace from her home in Ireland to Ryhope, where she will live with her widowed aunt, Bessie Brogan, and help run her pub. Bessie is kind but firm, and at first Emma rebels against her lack of freedom. Struggling to fit in, she turns to the wrong person for comfort, and becomes pregnant.

Accepting she must embrace her new life for the sake of her baby, Emma pours her energy into making the pub thrive and helping heal the fractured relationship between Bessie and her daughters. She catches the attention of Robert, a gruff but sincere farmer, who means to win her heart.

As December approaches, thankful for the home and acceptance she's found, Emma is determined to bring not just her family, but the whole Ryhope community, together to celebrate - and to make one very special mother's Christmas dreams come true.

What did I think?

With her fabulous cosy crimes, entertaining weekly soap and heartwarming Ryhope sagas, Glenda Young has fast become one of my favourite authors.  There aren't many authors whose books I read without reading the synopsis but Glenda is one of them.  It's not only that the books are guaranteed to be good, it's also that I don't want to spoil a single surprise of the fantastic storyline.

It's December 1923 and 17 year old Emma is leaving her home in a small Irish village and setting off on a long journey to North East England.  Emma is leaving under a cloud and I love the wonderfully imaginative scandal that Glenda Young has come up with for Emma.  Emma makes quite a first impression when she reaches her Aunt Bessie's pub at the end of her journey: the small coal mining village of Ryhope.

I absolutely adored this book; I laughed, I cried (TWICE!!) and I was entertained from start to finish.  I really don't think any review I write could do it justice, you just really need to read it for yourself.  It's festive in the loveliest way with family and community spirit at its heart and I loved seeing the main characters from all of the previous Ryhope sagas making cameo appearances.  I also loved reading about the Irish tradition of Nollaig na mBan (the Women's Little Christmas) and it's so beautifully incorporated into the storyline.

You can save some pounds on your heating bill by reading A Mother's Christmas Wish; it didn't just warm my heart, it warmed me from head to toe.  Glenda Young breaks saga stereotypes with her hugely entertaining and incredibly inventive storylines and A Mother's Christmas Wish is not to be missed.

Very highly recommended - I wanted to read it again the moment I turned the final (soggy, tear-stained) page.  It's absolutely beautiful, unforgettable and unmissable.

I received an ARC to read and review for the blog tour and this is my honest and unbiased opinion.

My rating:

Buy it from:
Amazon UK
Amazon US

About the author:

Glenda Young credits her local library in the village of Ryhope, where she grew up, for giving her a love of books. She still lives close by in Sunderland and often gets her ideas for her stories on long bike rides along the coast. A life-long fan of Coronation Street, she runs two hugely popular fan websites.

Social Media Links – 
For updates on what Glenda is working on, visit her website and to find out more find her on Facebook/GlendaYoungAuthor and Twitter @flaming_nora.

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