Sunday, 23 December 2018

Murder for Christmas by Francis Duncan - Book Review - Vintage Murder Mystery

First Published:  1949
Re-Published by Vintage:  12 Nov 2015

A Classic Mystery for the Festive Season, Mulled Wine, Mince Pies ....... and Murder

Mordecai Tremaine, former tobacconist and perennial lover of romance novels, has been invited to spend Christmas in the sleepy village of Sherbroome at the country retreat of one Benedict Grame. 

Arriving on Christmas Eve, he finds that the revelries are in full flow - but so too are tensions amongst the assortment of guests.

Midnight strikes and the party-goers discover that it's not just presents nestling under the tree...there's a dead body too. A dead body that bears a striking resemblance to Father Christmas. 

With the snow falling and the suspicions flying, it's up to Mordecai to sniff out the culprit - and prevent someone else from getting murder for Christmas.

The scene is set .... a country house at Christmas, snow falling, an eclectic cast of characters including an amateur sleuth, smouldering drama, resentments and secrets .........

Our protagonist with the wonderfully sounding name of Mordecai Tremaine, having already helped the police solve one murder recently, is taken into the confidence of the local constabulary who want him to inveigle himself with the house guests in order to try and discover who the killer may be.

An undercurrent of tension flows through the story as Mordecai's easy manner has them giving him information that they don't want the police to know as the truth is slowly revealed over the course of the Christmas holidays.

Set in the 1940's, I really enjoyed the careful writing style and sixty something bachelor Mordecai is an interesting character, he wears a pince-nez, reads romantic stories, has a sentimental soul and enjoys weighing up all the house guests.

This murder mystery is a great addition to the vintage 'golden age' of crime fiction.

My thanks to Dead Good Books for giving me the opportunity to read this vintage novel.  You can read the first chapter of Murder for Christmas on their website

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Wednesday, 19 December 2018

A Christmas Gift by Sue Moorcroft - Book Review

Published:  4 October 2018
Publisher:  Avon Books

Georgine loves Christmas. The festive season always brings the little village of Middledip to life. But since her ex-boyfriend walked out, leaving her with crippling debts, Georgine’s struggled to make ends meet.
To keep her mind off her worries, she throws herself into organising the Christmas show at the local school. And when handsome Joe Blackthorn becomes her assistant, Georgine’s grateful for the help. But there’s something about Joe she can’t quite put her finger on. Could there be more to him than meets the eye?
Georgine’s past is going to catch up with her in ways she never expected. But can the help of friends new and old make this a Christmas to remember after all?

A Christmas Gift opens with debt collectors knocking at Georgine's front door as she runs out of the back door!  She runs to her job at Acting Instrumental, a brilliant Performing Arts College where she loves putting on the shows.

When a new volunteer helps her with preparing for this year's Christmas show, she is not prepared for what impact it has on her.

The show is the main focus of the story, how detailed it all is, it was so illuminating to discover how it is all put together, the music, the acting, the stage direction, the props, I found it totally fascinating and enjoyed learning some of what goes into putting a stage production on.

The story was a real mix of family misunderstandings, relationships, past mistakes, friendships old and new, secrets and lies.  There's romance and music with a cast of characters who were well-developed.

Sue Moorcroft kept me guessing till the end as to how all the issues were going to be resolved.

This is sure to delight anyone who enjoys a festive read which also deals with more serious issues - which I thought were handled very sensitively.

My thanks to Avon Books for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

A Christmas Gift is available from

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Saturday, 8 December 2018

Bells and Bows on Mistletoe Row by Emily Harvale - Blog Tour & Book Review

Today, I am delighted to be part of Emily Harvale's blog tour for her new book Bells and Bows on Mistletoe Rowthanks to Rachel at Rachel's Random Resources ...... please check out my review below .....

It’ll take a miracle to make Juliet’s Christmas merry, but Mistletoe Row is the place to be when you need some Christmas magic. 

The last person Juliet Bell expects to see when she returns home for Christmas is Harrison Bow.Especially with the most beautiful woman in the world by his side. Twenty years ago, Juliet and Harrison had the shortest romance in history, consisting of one date – and one blazing row. But Juliet will never admit when she’s wrong, and Harrison doesn’t forgive easily, so they haven’t seen, or spoken to one another since.

Harrison Bow vowed he’d never visit his grandfather at The Grange, again, or drive along Mistletoe Row, the scene of one of the unhappiest times of his life. He hasn’t been back for twenty years and he’s only here now because his brother pleaded with him to come. At least with his executive assistant joining him, he’ll be able to do some work. 

But Juliet’s sister, Zoe and Harrison’s brother, Luke have some surprises in store for their elder siblings, and so it seems does Fate. After Harrison risks his life to save Juliet, the least she can do is be nice. The problem is, Harrison is hotter than the log fire in The Mistletoe pub, and when she’s surrounded by twinkling lights and softly falling snow, it doesn’t take long for her to realise she’s in love with the man she thought she hated. Even if he doesn’t appear to be in love with her. 

Bells and Bows on Mistletoe Row is the kind of book that surrounds you in a lovely, soft, comfy blanket and you just don't want to step out of it into the real world.

I loved the village's name of Mistletythe, with the mistletoe trees, the local pub leading down to the river and the little bridge over the river, and the big house The Grange looking over Mistletoe Row.

This was a joy to read, with wonderful characters, friendly locals, family secrets and misunderstandings.

It was also lovely to catch up with some of the characters from Emily Harvale's earlier story Christmas Secrets in Snowflake Cove though you don't need to have read that book as the storyline doesn't involve them.

The writing was at just the right pace, it was entertaining and it left me with a big smile on my face!

Definitely one to get you in the Christmas mood and keep you there all through the holidays!

About the Author

Having lived and worked in London for several years, Emily returned to her home town of Hastings where she now spends her days writing... and chatting on social media. Emily is a Member of the SoA, a PAN member of the RWA and a Pro Member of ALLi. She's an Amazon bestseller and a Kindle All Star. Emily loves writing and her stories are sure to bring a smile to your face and a warmth to your heart.

Emily says, "I write about friendship, family and falling in love. I believe in happing endings." When she isn't writing, she can be found enjoying the stunning East Sussex coast and countryside, or in a wine bar with friends, discussing life, love and the latest TV shows. Chocolate cake is often eaten. She dislikes housework almost as much as she dislikes anchovies - and will do anything to avoid both.

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Friday, 30 November 2018

A Hollow Sky by M. Sean Coleman - Blog Tour, Extract & #Giveaway

Today, I am delighted to be part of M Sean Coleman's blog tour for his new book A Hollow Skythanks to Rachel at Rachel's Random Resources ...... I have an Extract and a fantastic giveaway prize!

Genre:  Mystery Thriller
Publication Date:  21 November 2018
Standalone book two of the Alex Ripley Mystery Series

Jane Hewitt had been miraculously healed—cured of a terminal cancer that had been eating away at her body for months. After one meeting with an incredible young woman, Jane rose from her wheelchair and walked out, believing that her lifetime of devoted faith had been rewarded.
The next day, Jane died in her husband's arms, devastated that her God had deserted her. Her husband, Ian, blames her hastened death on the faith healer she visited. But that faith healer is a teenage girl called Megan, who has been in a coma for five years, and has no say over how her gift is used.
When Ian is arrested after being accused of breaking in to Megan's house and trying to tamper with her life support, he turns to the only person he knows can help clear his name, and stop this family deceiving any other victims—Dr Alex Ripley, the so called Miracle Detective.
Fascinated by Megan's case, and needing a distraction, Ripley finds herself on Holy Island, off the coast of North Wales, caught up in an investigation that will prove more sinister and dangerous than she could have imagined. Ian is not the first person to complain about Megan and her supporters, but he seems to be the only one left alive. For now.
A Hollow Sky is the second Alex Ripley Mystery

Purchase Links
Direct from Red Dog Press -


RIPLEY WAS GRATEFUL for the stupid woolly hat she’d shoved in her bag at the last moment. Colourful candy stripes with a pompom on top, it was an unwanted and unexpected gift last Christmas from a friend who obviously didn’t know her as well as she’d thought. She felt it made her look unnecessarily cheerful and quirky. But at least it was warm, and no one knew her here, so let them judge.
It was a bitterly cold, crisp day. Ice in the air made her nose run and her eyes water. She shoved her hands deep into the pockets of her long coat and tucked her chin into her collar. The arctic wind coming off the sea brought a familiar smell of salt, seaweed, and sand. A big gust caught her full in the face as she rounded a long bend in the narrow road.
A narrow pavement grew up out of the verge as the road straightened out. A neat row of cottages, small-windowed and compact, ranked along it. Their white-washed walls all stained grey with the years of being battered by the elements. Weather-beaten.
Short, mossy paths led from the pavement to a series of narrow front doors, all painted that ubiquitous seaside blue. An old man in a heavy coat and flat cap, raking leaves from the small patch of grass in front of his cottage greeted her with a cheery ‘hullo’. So far so pleasant.
The church loomed into sight, steeple first. A small building in a small town, though its dark, flinty walls made it seem imposing against the grey sky. The whole church, including the small surrounding graveyard, was above road level on a grassy slope, forcing the observer to look up at it from any angle, lifting their eyes to the heavens in the process. Clever.
A stone wall which protected the graveyard from the road was mostly obscured by a long canvas banner with the words God’s Gift – The Power to Heal printed across it. The same logo she had seen on the poster in the police station, advertising the group prayer meeting with Megan Shields. Sure enough, beside the words this time was an image of a young girl, seemingly asleep. Megan.
Ripley rolled her eyes as she passed the banner—such cynical commercialism had no place on a church wall. She walked up the stone steps to bring herself up to ground level with the church. The door was ajar, and she could hear a gentle burble of voices within. Chatter, rather than worship. A high, joyous peal of laughter made her smile.
She pushed the door open and peered into the body of the church. A handful of round tables nestled in the space behind the pews. Some kind of social morning was in full swing, complete with plump sponge cakes and the rich smell of coffee.
There were only a few empty seats, with the rest filled with well wrapped-up parishioners, pinkie-fingers held aloft as they sipped from fine cups. Some women knitting as they chatted, a couple playing dominoes, another reading a faded-covered, well-thumbed, romance novel.
A man in a thick-knit, heavily patterned jumper looked up at Ripley and smiled. He waved happily.
“Come on in,” he said, his voice loud enough to carry clearly over the hubbub, which showed no sign of abating. The world was being put to rights here, just as it doubtless was every week.
Ripley pushed the door closed behind her and stepped into the church as the man headed over towards her, his arm outstretched, low and welcoming.
“Don’t be shy,” he said. “Everyone’s welcome. There’s coffee or tea in the urns, and there’s plenty of cake left.”
He shepherded her in without waiting for an answer, steering her towards a low trestle table, decked in a check cloth. A pair of silver catering urns sat side by side, radiating heat. China cups on matching saucers lined the table beside them, and a selection of cupcakes and sponge cakes sat beneath transparent plastic lids. Ripley’s stomach rumbled spontaneously. The cakes looked great.
“Help yourself,” he said. “They’re all handmade. Not by me. There’s no charge. Apart from a little friendly conversation and a smile.”
“What a nice idea,” Ripley said, as he handed her a cup. His hand trembled ever so slightly. His smile revealed yellowing teeth, overcrowded enough to overlap in places, forcing their way over each other at strange angles.
“Gets people together, doesn’t it? I’m Colin, by the way. Can I tempt you?”
He lifted a plate of cupcakes towards her, and she chose a small one.
“Of course, if you feel compelled to make a contribution, we have a local fund we like to collect for, but there really is no obligation. We love new faces.”
Ripley noticed that the collection box he was talking about also bore that same God’s Gift logo. She filled her coffee cup and added a splash of milk. She fished a pound coin out of her pocket and dropped it into the container.
“Yes, I’ve seen some of her posters while I’ve been wandering around today,” she said, treading carefully. “It must be quite a thing to have someone like her right here in the village.”
She’d made her voice sound enthralled, excited by this miracle girl. She wasn’t sure of Colin’s role here, but she’d bet he was very much in favour of Megan Shields and her so-called healings.
“We are all very proud to call Megan one of our own,” he said, leaning in too close, his hand patting her arm just briefly. An awkward gesture. His breath smelled of stale coffee, lingering cigarettes, bad gums.
“I’m sure.”
“Are you in town for an audience yourself?”
“Not specifically, no,” Ripley said, truthfully. “Although I would love to meet her. We all have something that needs fixing, don’t we? Maybe I should look her up while I’m here.”
“Oh, you definitely should,” he gushed. He dashed across to a table near the door and came back with a leaflet which he thrust into Ripley’s hand. “We will be holding a group prayer the day after tomorrow. At the All Souls Meeting Hall, just through the back there. We’re very excited.”
She looked at the leaflet, turning it over to glance at both sides.
“Having come all this way, I would far rather see her in person, if I could,” Ripley said, folding the leaflet and dropping it into her pocket.
“Oh, but you will see her,” Colin said, looking at her like she was stupid. “She will be right here in the church, otherwise what would be the point?”
Again Ripley questioned how Anne Shields could wheel her daughter out in front of all these people, in her condition. It was barbaric. The poor girl.
“Oh, great,” she said, masking her surprise with false enthusiasm. “Well, in that case, I may well drop in.”
“Please do,” said Colin. “It’ll be busy, but we’ll make room for everyone who wants to come. One way or another.”
“Are you the vicar here, then?” Ripley asked.
“Oh, Lord no,” Colin laughed explosively, and Ripley leaned back to get some clean air between them. “No, they let me do the odd sermon now and then, at peak times, you know? But no, Reverend Rodwell is your man. He’ll be here this afternoon, if you were looking for him.”
“Great,” said Ripley, thinking it would be as good an excuse as any. “Perhaps I’ll pop back then. Thanks for the coffee.”
“Not to mention the cake,” he said.
She waved the cupcake aloft in acknowledgement as she headed for the door.
Ripley took one bite of the cake as she strolled away and dropped the rest into a waste bin as she passed. It had a strange flavour she couldn’t quite pinpoint. Mostly cheap margarine and sugar.

About the Author

Author Bio – Born in the UK and raised in South Africa, M. Sean Coleman developed a love for reading and writing novels in his early teens, thanks to two incredibly passionate English teachers who infected him with their love of words and stories. Over the intervening years, he has written film and television drama, cross-platform series, an interactive children’s storybook and a graphic novel series.
He finally found his niche as a thriller writer when he was asked to write a novel as part of the cross-platform project, Netwars. His first book, The Code, was published six months later, with the sequel, Down Time, hot on its heels. There was no going back.
He is obsessed with crime, mystery and thriller stories, especially those with a fresh or surprising angle. He writes novels from his home in The Cotswolds, where he lives with his husband and their three red dogs.
Social Media Links –  

Giveaway to win paperback copies of The Cuckoo Wood and A Hollow Sky, a cool tote bag with book quote from the publisher, a branded bookmark and some chocolates (Open INT)

*Terms and Conditions –Worldwide entries welcome.  Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below.  The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then I reserve the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over.  Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time I will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.
To enter the giveaway click here

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Tuesday, 27 November 2018

The Paris Winter by Imogen Robertson - Book Review - Historical Fiction

Maud Heighton came to Lafond's famous Academie to paint, and to flee the constraints of her small English town. It took all her courage to escape, but Paris, she quickly realizes, is no place for a light purse. While her fellow students enjoy the dazzling decadence of the Belle Epoque, Maud slips into poverty. Quietly starving, and dreading another cold Paris winter, she stumbles upon an opportunity when Christian Morel engages her as a live-in companion to his beautiful young sister, Sylvie.
Maud is overjoyed by her good fortune. With a clean room, hot meals, and an umbrella to keep her dry, she is able to hold her head high as she strolls the streets of Montmartre. No longer hostage to poverty and hunger, Maud can at last devote herself to her art.
But all is not as it seems. Christian and Sylvie, Maud soon discovers, are not quite the darlings they pretend to be. Sylvie has a secret addiction to opium and Christian has an ominous air of intrigue. As this dark and powerful tale progresses, Maud is drawn further into the Morels' world of elegant deception. Their secrets become hers, and soon she is caught in a scheme of betrayal and revenge that will plunge her into the darkness that waits beneath this glittering city of light.

The Paris Winter is set during the winter of 1909/1910, a time of peace and prosperity where the arts flourished and gained recognition, known as La Belle Epoque.

Maud hates being poor and hates being hungry but she's determined she'll survive and when she gets the chance to be a companion to Sylvie, the sister of a wealthy Parisienne, she's convinced she has never been happier.  They walk the streets of Paris, sketching and painting, forming a friendship that Maud treasures.  But secrets in the Morel household turn Maud's world upside down.

Author Imogen Robertson's beautifully descriptive writing was an absolute joy to read, she paints such a wonderful illustration of the sights, sounds and smells of Paris.

Some afternoons, Sylvie rebelled against sketching and demanded that they take a turn through the Jardin des Tuileries then along Rue Saint-Honore so she could peer in at the windows.  The displays were becoming more splendid by the hour as Christmas approached: sweet shops filled with great banked displays of pastel coloured macaroons or truffles like scrunched scraps of silk peppered with flakes of gold: stationers, their windows heaving with reams of butter-coloured writing paper and glistening silver fountain pens; haberdashers plumed in an explosion of lace.

The Paris Winter is a slow burner, but when it crackled into life I was taken on a journey from the highs of  the splendour of the wealthiest homes, the fancy boulevards and avenues of Paris, the elegant ladies in their fashionable clothes, to the cafes, low-life bars and opium dens of the thieves and the poor all set against the backdrop of the rising waters of the river Seine, where the floodwaters threaten to take away all of Paris with it.

As Maud changed from a young meek woman into a strong woman who was unafraid, shrewd and clever, the story twisted and turned. 

This is also a story of unlikely friendships between three very different women and I loved how these relationships developed and how they interacted with each other.

This was spoken by Suzanne, one of the artists who helps Maud:

The Russian princess, the French model and the English miss.  Sounds like the start of a bad joke or a good brothel!

Love that quote!  Loved this book!  

The Paris Winter is one of my favourite reads of this year and one I would certainly recommend to anyone who enjoys reading about this particular period and place.

My thanks to NetGalley and publishers St. Martin's Press for giving me the opportunity to read and review this book.

You can buy The Paris Winter from:
Amazon UK
Amazon US
Book Depository

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Sunday, 25 November 2018

Dark Corner by Vicki Vass - Blog Tour, Spotlight & Giveaway (US only)

Dark Corner: A Witch Cat Mystery by Vicki Vass

About the Book


Paranormal Cozy Mystery 
2nd in Series 
Tedeschi Publishing (October 9, 2018) 
Paperback: 190 pages 
ISBN-10: 0998989363 
ISBN-13: 978-0998989365 
Digital ASIN: B07J4P2521

Evil has awoken in Asheville, North Carolina, and Terra Rowan must prepare the Ladies of the Biltmore Society for battle. With her familiar, Pixel, a crooked leg fluffy orange cat, and her apprentice Abigail Oakhaven, a stubborn teenage girl with a bloodline dating back to the beginning of time, she begins their journey. The witch hunters have come to the Appalachian Mountains in search of the last witch of Salem. The magic of the mountains can no longer protect her and her coven. She must travel to the one place on earth that holds the secret to save mankind – Dark Corner.
Combining elements from different cultures, Appalachian folklore, Celtic legends, Native American mysticism, Dark Corner continues its new witch mythology while staying true to the realm of cozy mystery.
Terra Rowan is a witch trapped between worlds and lost in time.

About the Author


Vicki Vass traded in her reporter’s notebook to pursue her passion of writing cozy mysteries. Her Antique Hunter series was a finalist in the 2016 Mystery & Mayhem contest. Bloodline is the first book in the Witch Cat Mystery series. Vicki has written more than 1,400 stories for the Chicago Tribune as well as other commercial publications including Home & Away, the Lutheran and Woman’s World. Her science fiction novel, The Lexicon, draws on her experience in Sudan while writing about the ongoing civil war for World Relief. She lives in the Chicago area with her husband, writer and musician Brian Tedeschi, son Tony, Australian shepherd Bandit, kittens Terra and Pixel, seven koi and Gary the turtle. 

Author Links – WebsiteBlog Facebook 

Purchase Link – Amazon 

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November 19 – Babs Book Bistro – SPOTLIGHT 
November 20 – Jane Reads - REVIEW, CHARACTER GUEST POST 
November 21 – Melissa's Eclectic Bookshelf – GUEST POST 
November 22 – THANKSGIVING U.S. - OFF 
November 23 – A Wytch's Book Review Blog – CHARACTER INTERVIEW 
November 24 – A Holland Reads – SPOTLIGHT 
November 25 – Laura's Interests – REVIEW 
November 25 – Carole's Book Corner – SPOTLIGHT 
November 26 – T's Stuff – SPOTLIGHT 
November 26 - Socrates' Book Reviews – SPOTLIGHT 
November 27 – Book Babble – REVIEW 
November 27 – I'm All About Books – SPOTLIGHT 
November 28 – Books a Plenty Book Reviews – REVIEW, GUEST POST 
November 28 – Paranormal and Romantic Suspense Reviews – SPOTLIGHT 
November 29 – Brooke Blogs – GUEST POST 
November 29 – MJB Reviewers – AUTHOR INTERVIEW 
November 30 – Mallory Heart's Cozies - REVIEW, CHARACTER GUEST POST 
November 30 – Sneaky the Library Cat's Blog – CHARACTER INTERVIEW 
December 1 – Celticlady's Reviews – SPOTLIGHT 
December 1 – Varietats – REVIEW, CHARACTER GUEST POST 
December 2 – Readeropolis – CHARACTER INTERVIEW 
December 3 – The Pulp and Mystery Shelf – AUTHOR INTERVIEW 


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