Monday, 19 January 2015

MURDER OUT OF TUNE BY LESLEY COOKMAN - BOOK REVIEW AND GIVEAWAY




MURDER OUT OF TUNE
BY
LESLEY COOKMAN

A Libby Sarjeant Murder Mystery
Cozy Mystery - 270 pages
Publisher - Accent Press (30 Sept 2014)



The fourteenth book in the Libby Sarjeant series of British murder mysteries which features a retired actress as the female sleuth and are based in the picturesque village of Steeple Martin.
A member of a local ukulele group is found dead in Steeple Martin’s churchyard. Libby’s first reaction is relief that the victim isn’t anyone she knows. She and the usual suspects have other things to occupy them as they are gearing up for a Christmas concert and pantomime in the Oast Theatre but when Libby’s cousin gets romantically involved with a man in whom the police are taking an interest, she can’t help asking a few questions – and getting into trouble…
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This is the first book I've read in this popular and long-running series which features middle aged Libby Sarjeant, who is very nosy and can't help getting involved in discovering who would murder a very quiet and unassuming local man.
My first thought is that there were so many characters in the series but, luckily, there is a very handy who's who guide in the front of the book, which I needed to refer back to several times during my read!
However, once I'd got used to the very narrative driven story I was soon engrossed in this mystery and was eager to find out the culprit, as there were so many red herrings, and suspects that I didn't have a clue who the murderer was.
A very enjoyable read, there were several mentions to past murders, but I didn't feel that I was missing out by not reading those.
Some of the local village names had me tittering, such as Shott, Itching and Bishop's Bottom!  These names are typical of some of the smaller towns in England.
From ex-rock stars to local battleaxes, there were lots of quirky characters, some endearing, some nasty, all of which made this an entertaining mystery.
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About This Author
A former actor, model and freelance journalist, Lesley Cookman lives on the Kent coast in the UK, has four musicians as children, two small grandchildren and two cats, Lady Godiva and Gloria. All 14 of her Libby Sarjeant books have reached number one in their genre charts on Amazon UK.



Purchase Links
Amazon B&N Book Depository
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I am giving away one ebook copy of Murder out of Tune on my stop!  If you would like the chance to be in the draw please enter the PromoSimple giveaway below (it's very similar to Rafflecopter!)
Open Worldwide - I'll draw out one winner's name and will email them soon after the draw ends




Sunday, 18 January 2015

Book Review: THE CURVY GIRLS CLUB BY MICHELE GORMAN


My Thoughts on this witty and weighty issue .........


THE CURVY GIRLS CLUB
BY
MICHELE GORMAN


Published:  15 Jan 2015



Pixie, Ellie, Katie and Jane have been best friends since meeting at Slimming Zone. Tired of being judged by the number of calories they consume, they decide to form a different kind of club. The fun evenings they spend together, not worrying about their size, make them happier than they’ve been for years.
 

But the club doesn’t stop real life from getting in the way and together the girls have to address some much bigger issues than just their weight…


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Spoken by Kate who has been attending Slimming Zone for several years, she works cold calling by selling nutritional supplements but feels she's undervalued at work, possibly due to her size she thinks.

Together with the friends she's met at the slimming club, they decide that instead of going to the club they would all go out together and have different experiences such as going to the theatre, trying salsa dancing, wine tasting to name but a few.

As the club grows, so does their confidence.



I enjoyed reading this story of the Curvy Girls Club, I liked the fact that they all had their flaws, though some of them could be quite nasty to each other!

The pace of the writing was quick, with some funny moments interspersed with the more serious issues, with romance, health problems, unexpected twists and petty jealousies I feel this is one to recommend, whatever your size!

Available to buy from Amazon UK - Amazon US - BookDepository

I received an ebook copy from Notting Hill Press in exchange for an honest review.


 

Saturday, 10 January 2015

Book Review: THE STRINGS OF MURDER BY OSCAR DE MURIEL


My Thoughts on this tale of murder, mayhem and music ........


THE STRINGS OF MURDER
BY
OSCAR DE MURIEL


Published:  Penguin:  12 Feb 2015
Pages:  406  (Paperback Advance Reading Copy)


Jonathan Creek meets Jonathan Strange in this blistering crime debut set in Victorian Edinburgh.

Edinburgh, 1888.  A violinist is murdered in his home.  The dead virtuoso's maid swears she heard three musicians playing in the night.  But with only one body in the locked practice room - and no way in or out - the case seems to be an impossible puzzle.

Fearing a national panic over another Ripper, Scotland Yard sends Inspector Frey to investigate under the cover of a fake department specializing in the occult.  However, Frey's new boss, Detective 'Nine-Nails' McGray, actually believes in such supernatural nonsense.
McGray's tragic past has driven him to superstition, but even Frey must admit that this case seems beyond reason.  And once sometimes loses all reason, who knows what they will lose next .......

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The Strings of Murder is the first book in a new series following Inspector Frey and Detective McGray as they investigate crimes around Victorian Britain and if this tale is typical of them I will be adding them to my wish list!

Told in the first person by Inspector Ian Frey, who we learn has in the past started and abandoned both medicine at Oxford University and Law at Cambridge University but when he recently uncovers an infamous murderer in London he feels he has found his forte in the CID.

A mark on the wall, the contents of a wallet, a lock of hair ..... a glove carelessly left behind ... those tiny details of everyday life, things that the ordinary man would never normally ponder on, were our tools, and most of the time sufficient to allow us to draw a full picture of victims and aggressors.....in short, their innermost darkest secrets were at hand if one knew just how to read the world around.  
How thrilling, how fascinating that game was.  Finally, I'd found my place.  Proved my value.

But, a new man at the head of Scotland Yard sends Frey to Edinburgh as they fear another Jack the Ripper in Scotland.  He meets Detective Adolphus McGray and, to say they don't meet eye to eye is an understatement!  Frey thinks McGray's an idiot and McGray thinks he's a soft Southerner and proceeds to call him a lassie from then on.

Of course, they work well together, even though they are such opposite characters, to try and discover the perpetrator of several puzzling and gruesome murders, their exchanges were funny some of the time and some of McGray's contacts were dodgy most of the time.  With twists aplenty and a good strong plot featuring the occult, devil worship, a clairvoyant and an impossible puzzle, I really enjoyed this mystery and was constantly changing my mind as to who the murderer was.  I also loved the atmosphere of horror that the author conjured up.

I thought the book cover was perfect - it sums up the story very accurately to me.

This is Oscar de Muriel's debut book and he can be found at these places - his website - Facebook - Twitter

His book can be bought at these places - Amazon UK - Amazon US - BookDepository

I received an advance reading copy from Real Readers in exchange for an honest review.


 

Saturday, 3 January 2015

Book Review: DYING FOR CHRISTMAS BY TAMMY COHEN


My Thoughts on this brilliant and chilling psychological thriller ......


DYING FOR CHRISTMAS
BY
TAMMY COHEN


Published:  20 Nov 2014


I am missing. Held captive by a blue-eyed stranger. To mark the twelve days of Christmas, he gives me a gift every day, each more horrible than the last. The twelfth day is getting closer. After that, there'll be no more Christmas cheer for me. No mince pies, no carols. No way out .

But I have a secret. No-one has guessed it. Will you?

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The book opens on Christmas Eve in a department store cafe on Oxford Street, narrated by Jessica, she begins to tell us how a stranger approaches her, he sits down, they get chatting and she then makes the worst decision of her life to go back to his flat with him.....this sets up the shocking events of the next 12 days of Christmas.

Dominic Lacey, the stranger, holds her prisoner in his flat where she is subject to acts of cruelty and mind games, and is given a beautifully wrapped but utterly creepy present every day.  Every time he gives her the gift she is told the story behind it, often chilling, and she dreads each one, not knowing what to expect.

Both Dominic and Jessica are outsiders in life, even her own brothers called her weird and last Christmas Jessica's parents bought her six sessions with a therapist!

Interspersed with Jessica's captivity, there is the story of Kim, the police officer assigned to the case of looking for the missing woman who has her own domestic problems.

I knew that Jessica had a secret, as the blurb tells us, but what it is is not revealed until part two where the story takes us in a whole different and totally unexpected direction. Brilliant!  

This story had shocks, twists, secrets, revenge, all wonderfully written and I was hooked from beginning to end.  Dominic was your worst nightmare, he was a frightening figure, taking pleasure in Jessica's pain, sometimes I found it difficult to read but I couldn't stop, I just had to keep reading to find out how it all would all end for Jessica.

To say much more about the plot would spoil it, and I want readers to be as surprised as I was.  Yes, some of the story I did find a tad unbelievable, but, overall, for me, in the end that didn't matter.  This was a gripping, psychological thriller that kept me turning the pages.

Tammy Cohen is a writer that I shall be looking out for in the future.

My thanks to NetGalley for this ebook in exchange for an honest review.

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 Available from Amazon UK - Amazon US - Book Depository


 About the Author




Tammy Cohen (who was previously published under her formal name Tamar Cohen) is a freelance journalist. A late starter to fiction - and to other things besides - she has now written four novels:The Mistress's Revenge, The War of the Wives, Someone Else's Wedding, and The Broken. Now embarking on psychological suspense, Dying for Christmas, her Christmas chiller, is just published to wide acclaim. She lives in North London with her partner and three (nearly) grown children, plus one very badly behaved dog. Follow her on Twitter @MsTamarCohen






Tuesday, 30 December 2014

Book Review: THE FRENCH FOR CHRISTMAS BY FIONA VALPY


My Thoughts on this moving and magical story ......

THE FRENCH FOR CHRISTMAS
BY
FIONA VALPY


Published:  3 October 2014
Publisher:  Bookouture


Evie used to LOVE Christmas, but this year she can’t wait for the tinsel and presents to be a distant memory.
When her best friends offer the use of their cottage in the beautiful French countryside, Evie jumps at the chance. With her soon-to-be-ex-husband, celebrity chef Will Brooke, plastered over the news with his latest ‘love interest’, leaving the country seems like the perfect plan.
Armed with her French grandmother’s tattered notebook of recipes, Evie is determined to ignore Christmas altogether and bake herself back to happiness.
And when Evie meets her next-door neighbour – the très gorgeous doctor Didier she finds a very willing taste-tester. But is it possible that he could be interested in more than just her Tarte Tatin?
With snow falling, a special Réveillon dinner and a little Christmas magic in the air, could Didier even be the one to thaw Evie’s heart? Or will a visit from the ghost of Christmas past change everything?
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Evie is not looking forward to Christmas this year.  In the last twelve months she has lost her baby, her husband and her cooking mojo.  She can't face the fun and glitz of Christmas so she decides to get away, to France for peace, quiet and some healing space.  She's an American with Irish and French roots.
At first in the countryside there is no rural tranquillity with a crowing rooster, screeching owl, barking dog and a midnight mechanic for a neighbour!  But when Evie browses the local market with the wonderful sights and smells she gradually begins to feel inspired to start cooking again.....and start healing.
I feel cocooned here, far enough away, at last, from London with its constant reminders of failure and disappointment and loss; far enough away from my family in Boston to allow them the space to stop worrying about me and enjoy their lives, unimpeded by the weight of my sorrow; far enough from the magazine articles and the TV programmes and, at last, far enough away from Christmas itself.
She meets her neighbours, including the dishy local locum doctor, a Bradley Cooper lookalike....and her heart starts to heal as well as her culinary skills.
The writing is so rich and vivid, I especially enjoyed the parts where Evie is reminiscing about her childhood memories such as skating on the lake in the middle of winter with her sister and her mother.
If you love French cooking, there are lots of delicious recipes dotted throughout the book.  If you love the French countryside, there are some lovely descriptions of the village setting.  This is the sort of book that's perfect for losing yourself in during the long winter nights, it's like a cosy jumper to wrap around yourself keeping you snug and warm.  I loved it!
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I received a copy of this ebook from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
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Fiona Valpy has pledged to donate 10% of any royalties she receives from sales of The French for Christmas to the charity Medecins Sans Frontieres (Doctors Without Borders) in support of their work all over the world, providing care and medical aid where it's needed most.  Please visit her website www.fionavalpy.com for more details and updates.  And you can find out more about Medecins Sans Frontieres at www.msf.org
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About the Author
FV12
Fiona Valpy lives in France, having moved there from the UK in 2007. She left behind a career in Marketing and Public Relations to explore new avenues and now teaches yoga and writes.
Having renovated an old rambling farmhouse with her husband, she has developed new-found skills in cement-mixing and interior decorating, although her preferred pastime by far is wine-tasting.



    




Tuesday, 23 December 2014

Book Review: TOGETHER FOR CHRISTMAS BY CAROL RIVERS


My Thoughts on this emotional warm-hearted festive story .......


TOGETHER FOR CHRISTMAS
BY
CAROL RIVERS


Publisher:  Simon & Schuster
Published:  23 October 2014
Pages:  438  (Paperback)


August 1914, London. Britain has just declared war on Germany, and the whole country seems to be in uproar. Flora, Hilda and Will, who grew up together in St Boniface orphanage sit in the sunshine in Hyde Park on a rare day off, discussing the impending war and the changes it will bring to their lives. Will means to go off to fight, Hilda hopes to better her current lot in life as a maid at the charitable institute, Hailing House, but Flora is content with her job as assistant to the Isle of Dogs' kindly Doctor Tapper. Taking a vow, they pledge to always be there for each other, come what may.
It soon becomes clear that the war will not be over by Christmas, as so many thought, and the first zeppelin raids bring casualties flooding into the surgery where Flora works. Tragedy strikes in the trenches, too, and Will returns home with physical and mental wounds too deep for Flora to be able to nurse back to health.
In the meantime, Hilda has taken herself away from London to work as a maid at the sumptuous house of Adelphi. But it is not long before she finds herself out of her depth. And the consequences of her choices will lead to a shocking discovery that will change the course of the three orphans lives forever.

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I read Carol Rivers novel A Wartime Christmas last year and really enjoyed it, that was set in the 2nd World War, in Together for Christmas the story starts at the beginning of the 1st World War, and is just as heart-warming and entertaining.

We first meet Flora and Hilda in London's Hyde Park watching in disbelief as excited young men were revelling in the thought of joining the army and going off to war.

"Just look at them silly chaps!' exclaimed Hilda Jones, Flora's best friend. 'You'd think Britain had won the conflict already from the way they're carrying on. And it was only four days ago the prime minister announced we were at war!' 
'And now Mr. Asquith's calling for our boys to volunteer,' said Flora.  She was not for war at all, though watching the rejoicing crowds today it seemed that the rest of the country disagreed with her.

Sensible, kind, thoughtful Flora and flirtatious, impulsive Hilda have been best friends since they were children, brought up in the orphanage.  Both are now sixteen and having to make their own way in the world, Flora as a Doctor's assistant and Hilda who works in the kitchens of a big house though she has ambitions to be a lady's maid.

We see the harrowing effects of the war mainly through Flora's eyes as she and Dr. Tapper do their best to treat the soldiers suffering from shell shock, gas poisoning, dysentery, and the many life-changing injuries they've sustained.

And it's one of these soldiers that becomes smitten with Flora, so there's a nice little romance to lighten the dark subject matter.  

Hilda finds her life in service is challenging and busy, as so many of the men were at war the women had to take on their jobs so the way women's lives were changing is also touched upon, together with how the suffragette movement is gaining momentum.

While Carol Rivers does touch on many of the difficult situations and hardship the people at home were suffering, the novel does not focus too much on the serious aspects, there are many light moments.

The storyline kept me engrossed with characters that I cared about, some surprises, this is a well-written feel good book.

I received a copy of this book from the publishers in exchange for an honest review.

Available to buy from Amazon UK - Amazon US - Book Depository.

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About the Author



The East End of London,UK, is Carol's backdrop to her historical family dramas. She has been published with Simon&Schuster for a decade and has a well established presence on the internet. Her stories spring from the warm-hearted and resourceful people of the East End - the heart of London's docklands. Her writing is simple, but her rough-tough Cockney characters tell it like it is for them, giving a punch to the stomach and leaving the reader in no doubt that her heroines are a force to be reckoned with. Carol is well-known in the UK but is now building a steady readership in the States and welcomes feedback. Carol would especially like to thank all the Amazon reviewers who have gone to the expense and taken the time and trouble to buy, read and report on her books. She reads every one of the reviews and takes great heart and inspiration from all your comments. You can visit webpages, http://www.carolrivers.com to find out more about this author.

You can also follow Carol on twitter @carol_rivers

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Monday, 8 December 2014

Book Review: THE GIRL IN THE PHOTOGRAPH BY KATE RIORDAN


My Thoughts on this atmospheric and spellbinding story ......


THE GIRL IN THE PHOTOGRAPH
BY
KATE RIORDAN


Published:  15 Jan 2015
Publisher:  Penguin books
Pages:  437 (paperback advance reading copy)


Summer, 1933, Alice Eveleigh has arrived at Fiercombe Manor in disgrace.  Hiding her shame in the beautiful yet isolated manor, in the care of housekeeper, Mrs. Jelphs, Alice soon begins to sense that something isn't quite right.  And that she is being watched ....

There are secrets at Fiercombe that those who remain there are determined to keep.  Tragedy haunts the empty rooms and foreboding hangs heavy in the stifling heat.  Traces of the previous lady of the manor, Elizabeth Stanton, are everywhere and Alice discovers Elizabeth's life eerily mirrors the path she herself is on.


The past is set to repeat its sorrows, and with devastating consequences.



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'I could never have imagined all that would happen in those few short months and how, by the end of them, my life would have altered irrevocably and for ever'

These are the words of Alice, three years on from the long hot summer of 1933 as she recalls the events and people from that time who changed her world forever.

The story then started in 1932 as Alice is wondering when 'her life - her real life - would begin'.  She has a good job but becomes smitten with a married man and when she falls pregnant her mother suggests she go to stay at the centuries old Fiercombe Manor, deep in a Gloucestershire valley, while she awaits the birth.  

Glad to be away from London and her mother's chilly disapproval, she is almost enthusiastic about exploring the manor and tries to discover what became of the family who used to live there but no-one seems able to tell her.



I felt intrigued and almost excited, as though a mystery had presented itself to be solved.  Delving into the past was just the sort of distraction I needed to take me away from my own present.


Interspersed with Alice's story is Lady Elizabeth Stanton's story where she recalls the summer of 1898 when she too is awaiting the birth of her child. She lived in Stanton House which was nearby to Fiercombe Manor.


Alice's mind starts to play tricks on her as she has strange dreams of Elizabeth and thinks she sees glimpses in the shadows of the dusty corridors.  These events were quite scary and chilling to read and there was a real sense of foreboding as Alice gradually becomes obsessed with Elizabeth and her family and the mystery of their disappearance.


The old manor house itself has staircases that are out of bounds, locked rooms, clocks and watches don't work and there are several out buildings which have been long since demolished but no-one knows why.  The descriptions of the house and grounds are wonderfully eerie and all add to the atmosphere that builds throughout as the tale unwinds.


I thoroughly enjoyed this book, it was full of wonderfully drawn characters such as Ruck, the groundsman, still there after four decades, who sees much but says little.  A well-told story that had me hooked from the beginning.



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Available from January 2015
I received an advance reading copy from Real Readers / NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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Tuesday, 2 December 2014

COZY CHRISTMAS CAPERS - HOLIDAY BOOK BLITZ!




HOLIDAY BOOK BLITZ
Cyber Monday - 1 December to 4 December 2014


This Book will only be available from 1 December 2014 until 31 January 2015



19 holiday short stories by 19 New York Times, USA Today and award winning authors!

Enjoy these tales of mystery, romance and laughter amid the backdrop of pine trees, gingerbread men and Santas galore!

The perfect short bites for cozying up by the fire with a cup of cocoa ........ or waiting in line for gift wrapping!





Get Your Copy Today Here





Stories include:
Rosolio Red (Franki Amato Mysteries) by Traci Andrighetti
Chasing Tinsel (Miranda Vaughn Mysteries ) by Ellie Ashe
Death of a Christmas Witch (A Crewel to be Kind Mini Mystery) by Diane Bator
Queenie Baby: Pass the Eggnog (Queenie Baby Mysteries) by Christina A. Burke
The Holiday Inside Job by Mary Jo Burke
Hard to Catch a Christmas Thief (Hard Targets) by Wendy Byrne
A Christmas Ghost & Zero Regrets (Dead by the Numbers Mysteries) by Jennifer Fischetto
Christmas Canapés & Sabotage (Culinary Competition Mysteries) by Janel Gradowski
Christmas in High Heels (High Heels Mysteries) by Gemma Halliday
Christmas Al Dente (Southern Pasta Shop Mysteries) by Jennifer L. Hart
Santa Claus, Lies, and Murder (Amber Fox Mysteries) by Sibel Hodge
A (Gingerbread) Diorama of Death (Helen Binney Mysteries) by Gin Jones
Mini Pie the Christmas Spy! (Mini Pie Mysteries) by Libby LaManna
Have Yourself a Deadly Little Christmas (Greatest Hits Mysteries) by Leslie Langtry Ornamental Danger (Working Stiff Mysteries) by Kerri Nelson
Motion for Mistletoe (Jamie Winters Mysteries) by Kelly Rey
Christmas in Venice by Maria Grazia Swan
Baby, It’s Cold Outside (Tahoe Tessie Mysteries) by T. Sue VerSteeg
Santa’s Little Mistake by Stacey Wiedower

BUY LINKS:
Amazon UK:  http://tinyurl.com/pfrcye8
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