Saturday, 21 May 2016

Hook, Line and Stinker (A Lily Thistle Cozy Mystery Book 1) by Maggie West

Publisher's Information
Teaching fifth graders might be a pain, but it's nothing compared to clearing your name. 

When grade school teacher Lily Thistle finds the body of a local womanizing garbage man washed up on the beach in her new town, she becomes suspect number one. Can this teacher turned amateur sleuth narrow down who wanted him dead and get the hot chief of police to recognize her as something other than a murder suspect? 

This culinary cozy mystery includes two recipes: Rose's Marionberry Muffins and Whiskey-laced Chocolate Chunks. 

This book is a clean read.

Review 
A light hearted and fast paced cosy mystery. 
The one thing that worries Lily Thistle after she finds a dead body on her morning walk, isn't that there's a murderer loose in her little town but that she is going to be late for work on her first day because of it.
She doesn't realise that her presence at the murder scene automatically makes her a suspect and so she decides to move the investigation along in a direction away from her and towards the real killer. Most of her investigating takes the form of participating in local gossip and finding out what the locals know and then passing that information along to the handsome CoP. in charge. 
Her investigative technique proves quite successful in that the townspeople open up to a fellow gossiper much more quickly than they would to the police and it isn't long before Lily has the mystery solved which clears her name and means she can finally go out on a real date with the chief of police. 

This light hearted first in the series introduced me to a town full of interesting characters and I look forward to Lily's future investigations.

Hook Line and Stinker is available in Kindle format from Amazon

I received a copy in exchange for an honest review.


Wednesday, 18 May 2016

Dash's Busy Day by Terrance Perrin (2016)


Publisher's Information
Learn basic direction concepts and counting as Dash the dragonfly flies left, then right, and all around the pond seeing several other pond inhabitants along the way. Simple, brightly colored, engaging character checking out the environment in which it lives, counting as it goes. 
The original illustrations were done in ink and watercolor and scanned into computer for final touch up and addition of text. 24 page picture book.
Suggested reading age 2-5


Review 


Dash's Busy Day is such a lovely book to share with your child. It is beautifully illustrated by the author and has the added benefit of being educational in so many different ways. The most obvious of course are counting and learning directions but the scope for learning from this book is so much broader. 

I read this story to a class of 5 year olds and they really loved it. They didn't complain that the creatures didn't look right (as they have done with similar books) and they enjoyed the counting from one to ten (even though they can count to 100, or so they informed me) and the more able children felt proud of themselves in being able to read out loud along with me. The language in the story was pitched just right for younger children and I liked that the numbers were written in both digits and words.
We also used the book as a starting point for learning about dragonflies. We looked at photos on the internet of Ireland's dragonflies and we discovered a little bit more about them. 
Older children and their teacher could also enjoy this book as a stimulus for drawing simple plans or art lessons based on 'a bird's eye view.' The author has made some lovely, simple 'bird's eye view' pictures which provide a useful tool in explaining the concept.


Available at Amazon US  and Amazon UK

I was provided with a copy in exchange for an honest review.

Thursday, 12 May 2016

A Matter of Time (Matters of Love #2) by Margaret Locke (2015)

Nobody would blame widowed doctoral student Eliza James for giving up on Happily Ever After; at twenty-nine, she’s suffered more loss than most people do in a lifetime. But Eliza’s convinced her own hero is still out there, waiting for her, just like in the beloved romance novels she devours. Every girl deserves a Darcy, right?

Only Eliza doesn’t dream of a modern-day affair: she wants the whole Regency experience. When a magical manuscript thrusts her back two hundred years into the arms and life of one Deveric Mattersley, Duke of Claremont, however, Eliza soon realizes some fantasies aren’t all they’re cracked up to be, especially when her duke proves himself less than a Prince Charming.

Deveric Mattersley has no interest in marriage. Determined to atone for his sins after convincing himself he's at fault for the death of his first wife, he decrees himself content to focus on running his family’s estates, and on raising his son–until the mysterious Mrs. James appears. Who is she? What does she want? And why does she make Dev’s blood run hot in a way no woman ever has?
 

Review 

A wonderful, fast paced and romantic time travel tale with a twist. Who doesn't wish that they could write themselves the perfect man and then have him appear in real life to sweep you off your feet? Eliza manages to do just that with the help of her friend. She is whizzed off to Regency England after a New Year's Eve kiss from the Duke of Claremont.
There are a few obstacles to overcome in their path to true love. Emily is a modern, twenty first century woman thrust into the restrictive era of the nineteenth century. On top of that, she is American and not everyone approves of the Duke's attachment to her. The Duke also has his own inner demons to face before he can embrace a future with Eliza.

I really loved this story. It was such fun. There was plenty of humour, angst and romance. I am sorry I didn't read the first book in the series but that's something 
I will remedy as soon as possible.

A Matter of Time is available in digital and paperback format. It is also available on Kindle Unlimited.
Find it here at Amazon UK

I received a copy in exchange for an honest review.




Sunday, 8 May 2016

The Captain's Wallflower by Audrey Harrison (2015) Narrated by Pippa Rathborne (2016)

Publisher's Summary

Captain Worthington is injured in the battle of Trafalgar. Blinded by shrapnel, his life goes from being at the forefront of society to being almost cast off. He finds himself sitting with the wallflowers at a ball - something he doesn't take too kindly to.
Miss Amelia Basingstoke has no dowry and enough dreadful relations to ensure that even on her third season, she is unmarried and a confirmed wallflower. Her only friend is a large boisterous dog of dubious character who considers himself too good to chase dead birds.
A chance meeting between the pair frees the captain in ways that he had never thought possible since his injury.
A stubborn captain, an opinionated young woman, an unruly dog, and Christmas is approaching - what could possibly go wrong?

Review 


This is a lovely, sweet and romantic Regency romance.
There are so many wonderful scenes in this story. 
The initial meeting between Amelia and the Captain at the ball was sweet and funny. Both of them were left sitting and ignored in the wallflower's area and they exchanged humorous quips about it. Amelia is a nice character who speaks her mind. She is unfortunate in her relations who are unkind to her.
I loved the role that Samson, the dog, played in bringing the pair together and his presence added humour. 
The Captain is very fortunate in having a very good friend who helps him get around and I'm hoping there is a story being written for him.


This is the fourth book I've read and enjoyed by the author. Audrey Harrison writes very good, clean regency romances and she is an author I can recommend to family and friends who are fans of the gene.

Other recommended titles by the author are;
An Inconvenient Ward
An Inconvenient Wife
An Inconvenient Companion

The Captain's Wallflower is currently 99p for Kindle Amazon
                    for more information about her titles.

I received the audiobook in exchange for an honest review.

Thursday, 5 May 2016

Distress Signals by Catherine Ryan Howard (2016)



ABOUT DISTRESS SIGNALS:


Standalone crime/thriller


Published May 5 by Corvus/Atlantic in Ireland and the UK, June 2 in Australia and New Zealand. Details of North American publication later in 2016 coming soon.


Did she leave, or was she taken?


The day Adam Dunne's girlfriend, Sarah, fails to return from a Barcelona business trip, his perfect life begins to fall apart. Days later, the arrival of her passport and a note that reads 'I'm sorry - S' sets off real alarm bells. He vows to do whatever it takes to find her.


Adam is puzzled when he connects Sarah to a cruise ship called the Celebrate - and to a woman, Estelle, who disappeared from the same ship in eerily similar circumstances almost exactly a year before. To get the answers, Adam must confront some difficult truths about his relationship with Sarah. He must do things of which he never thought himself capable. And he must try to outwit a predator who seems to have found the perfect hunting ground...


Advance praise:


“Pacey, suspenseful and intriguing … [A] top class, page turning read. Catherine Ryan Howard is an astonishing new voice in thriller writing.” — Liz Nugent, author of 2014 IBA Crime Novel of the Year Unravelling Oliver


“An exhilarating debut thriller from a hugely talented author. Distress Signals is fast-paced, twisty and an absolute joy to read.” — Mark Edwards, #1 bestselling author of The Magpies and Follow You Home


Read a preview of the first three chapters here:

https://catherineryanhoward.com/access-your-exclusive-preview/


My Review 

Distress Signals is an addictive and compelling tale of love, betrayal, loss and hope. The mystery surrounding Sarah's disappearance had me glued for the entire book. The twists and turns in the story meant that once I'd started reading I couldn't put it down until I'd reached the conclusion.
The characters and the situations they find themselves in are so realistic and true to life it scarily reads like a true story.
The reaction of Sarah's parents when they couldn't contact her after a day or two resonated with me as my own parents would react in exactly the same way. Their dealings with the Gardaí when reporting Sarah missing was also how I would imagine it to be in real life. I couldn't help but feel the family's pain and frustration at the lack of information and support available to them.
Also what makes the story so realistic is that not one of the characters is painted black or white, good or evil. Each one is likeable and relatable but they also have flaws and a breaking point that leads them to act in ways they wouldn't necessarily do in ordinary circumstances. Even the supporting characters are given a fleshed out background and you get a real sense of how life has shaped them and influenced the decisions they make. Although I loved both Sarah and Adam I found myself feeling annoyed with them at times because of their actions or in in Adam's case his inaction. At the same time I was I rooting for them and hoping against hope that Adam would find the answers he was searching for and bring home the girl he loves.

Distress Signals certainly doesn't disappoint. A brilliantly crafted mystery/thriller I can recommend to all friends and family. 


It's one book I'll be hounding everyone read because it's that good.

Buy now from Amazon



ABOUT CATHERINE:

Catherine Ryan Howard was born in Cork, Ireland, in 1982. Prior to writing full-time, Catherine worked as a campsite courier in France and a front desk agent in Walt Disney World, Florida, and most recently was a social media marketer for a major publisher. She is currently studying for a BA in English at Trinity College Dublin.



Twitter: @cathryanhoward

Instagram: @cathryanhoward

Facebook: facebook.com/catherineryanhoward

My interview with the author
Where are you from?

I’m from Cork, in Ireland, but I’ve lived in Dublin since 2014 when I decided – for some reason that escapes me now! – to go back to college as a mature student and study for a BA in English Literature.
           
Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

I’m not sure if I would call it a message as such, but the novel explores the idea that there are, effectively, no police at sea – at least when you’re in international waters. I don’t want to turn anyone off going on a cruise holiday, but I do think most readers will be thinking about cruises in a very different way when they get to the end of the book… (She says mysteriously!)
           
If you could, which of your characters would you most like to hang out with?

I love Adam, my narrator/main character. He’s a dote, as we’d say here in Ireland. And in my mind he looks a little like Jamie Dornan, so that doesn’t hurt!

What book are you reading now?

I’m very lucky to have a preview of Liz Nugent’s second novel, Lying in Wait, which is out in July. I really liked her debut, Unravelling Oliver. I’m also looking forward to getting stuck into Harlan Coben’s latest and Eligible by Curtis Sittenfeld.

Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?
Not sure how new the “new” has to be, but Caroline Kepnes, who wrote You and Hidden Bodies is one of my current faves. She writes just the kind of book I love to read. I’m also really looking forward to reading Clare Mackintosh’s new novel, I See You. I Let You Go was a triumph – I’m a sucker for a big twist and Clare, in a master stroke, plonked one right in the middle of hers. She didn’t even wait until the end!
           
Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?

Michael Connelly. I picked a damaged hardback copy of Void Moon out of a bargain bin fifteen or sixteen years ago and I’ve been utterly addicted to his work ever since. I have my own annual Michael Connelly day: I buy his new books on the day they come out, then make sure I have a clear schedule so I can go home and read them in one sitting. To me, his detective Harry Bosch is a real person, and when I read his books now I feel like I’m checking in with an old friend, seeing what he’s been up to for the last year. I won a special red leather bound, limited edition of his novel Nine Dragons in a competition his website ran, and it’s personally inscribed to me. If my apartment went up in flames, that’s what I’d grab. It’s my most treasured possession.

Do you have any advice for anyone thinking about becoming a writer? e.g. Do you think creative writing courses are a good way to introduce aspiring writers to the discipline?

I think courses, books, blogs, etc. are all great – but wait until you’ve finished your book before you get stuck into all that. I wasted so much time perfecting my manuscript formatting abilities, for example, before I even had a manuscript to perfect. At the end of the day, it’ll all come down to the book – so just concentrate on writing the best book you possibly can. Worry about everything else afterwards. And the best way to learn how to write a great book is to read, read and read some more.

Sunday, 1 May 2016

Portrait of a Forbidden Lady by Kathleen Bittner Roth (2016)


Publisher's Summary
England, 1859
Lady Georgiana Cressington is living a nightmare. Coerced by her father into returning to her childhood home, the young widow becomes a pawn in another of his heartless games. Her return to Summerfield Hall reunites her with the man she once loved before their hearts were shattered by a devastating betrayal.
Sir Robert Garreck, an artist knighted by the queen, lives in a mansion near the family estate Georgiana’s father won in a crooked card game. Rob sets out to regain Summerfield Hall to keep Georgiana’s son from inheriting Rob’s rightful home. However, when he and Georgiana are thrown together, he craves the forbidden lady he never stopped loving. Facing danger and a long-hidden truth, Georgiana and Rob try to claim the powerful love they once had.
Those Magnificent Malverns Series Order
The Seduction of Sarah Marks
Portrait of a Forbidden Lady

Review 

The best historical romance I've read in a long time. 
 I didn't want it to end it was so good. The romance between Georgiana and Robert was full of angst and longing. I loved that the author didn't make the characters dwell in bitterness for their lost love but allowed them to embrace their second chance together without acrimony and misunderstandings getting in the way. I loved watching the pair find love with each other again and get their happily ever after.
The path to true love doesn't come easy though and the pair have to overcome old secrets and adversaries in order to finally have their happy ending.
I love it when there is a little bit of suspense thrown in and Georgiana's miserable father and his nasty henchman provide that extra bit of drama.

The author did a brilliant job with Portrait of a Forbidden Lady and I can't wait to start reading the first book in the series. I'm not sure why I started reading the series out of order but each book is a standalone story so it doesn't matter.

I received a copy in exchange for an honest review.

Little Peach Pit: A story about dealing with bullying, perseverance, and friendship. By Grace Nava (2015)




Little Peach Pit confronts bullying and other difficulties during its growth, but overcomes them with the help of a Higher Power, perseverance, and hard work.

Suggested reading age 5-8.

Part of the proceeds from this book will be donated to children's charities and projects throughout the world.

Review- 

I read this book to a group of five and six year old children. The group enjoyed the story and it kept their attention for the duration which, at 42 pages long, is quite a feat. Their only criticism was of the illustration of the peach pit itself. They thought that it didn't really look like one.

The message in the book was put across in a simple and thought provoking way. The children learned a few new words and they took on board the idea of perseverance, forgiveness and being a good friend to one another. They were shocked at the unkind things the apple and watermelon seeds said to little peach pit at the beginning of the story. They felt sorry for it but as it grew and thrived the they began to feel sorry for the other fruit trees who didn't persevere.

The story of the Little Peach Pit has stayed with the children, days even weeks, after listening to it. Forgiveness and kindness are general themes that pop up in everyday conversation and interactions with children. Some of the group who listened to the story still refer back to the Little Peach Pit as an example. 

The Little Peach Pit is a story that can be revisited often. It deals with themes that children need to discuss and be reminded of frequently; kindness, forgiveness, friendship and perseverance.
Teachers looking for a story during anti bullying week or as an extra resource will find this book very useful. In addition it has a linking website with lesson plans, activities and printable resources to enable the teacher and children to get the most out of this book and to enrich their learning experience. 

Another thing that teachers will like are the illustrations. They clearly show the changing seasons and the life cycle of the seed/tree.

I received a copy in exchange for an honest review.

Take advantage of free international shipping and buy now from The Book Depository