Wednesday 31 January 2024

Stranger in the Village (The Malvern Mysteries book 2) by Kate Wells (2024)

Where there’s a body in Malvern End, there are secrets to be uncovered…

Jude Gray has worked hard to bring a steady equilibrium to life on Malvern Farm and things are going well.

The only fly in the ointment is the foul addition of a new face in the village: staunch townie and chauvinistic sleaze, Des Smith. Jude has nothing but sympathy for his caring, patient wife, Loretta, who has become a regular visitor to the farm for a cup of tea and a chat.

But things take a turn for the worse when a hit and run outside The Lamb brings death once again to the village. Is it an accident or is something more sinister afoot?

Perhaps the answer lies in the stranger with red trainers who’s been seen wandering through the village and through Jude’s fields at night. Following the clues, Jude desperately hopes she will find the right answers, because the murderer being someone she knows is unfathomable…

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An absolutely gripping read from start to finish.  I had my favourite suspect towards the end but there were so many twists that I kept questioning myself. 

There were a few new characters in the village and I didn't trust any of them but I wanted to believe in Marco as he and Jude were becoming friends with a hint of something more.

Village life in Malvern is as lively as in the first book. Affairs, domestic violence and a hit-and-run are the talk of the day. But when another murder occurs and Jude's sister, Lucy, gets arrested as suspect number one things take a very sinister turn as it means that the real killer is someone very close to Jude and her family.

Lucy's son, Sebbie, provides a lot of comical relief in the way all toddlers do; repeating inappropriate phrases at the most inopportune times and being generally cute and adorable between tantrums. 

There are some very dramatic scenes, particularly where Sebbie and Jude are in harm's way. I could not put this book down.

Humour, small-town drama and taut suspenseful scenes create a winning combination for this mystery series.

Author Bio –

Kate Wells is the author of a number of well-reviewed books for children, and is now writing a new cosy crime series set in the Malvern hills, inspired by the farm where she grew up. Boldwood will publish the first title, Murder at Malvern Farm, in August 2023.

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Monday 29 January 2024

Driven to Murder (A Sophie Sayers Cozy Mystery Book 9) by Debbie Young


Driven To Murder

A perfect cosy crime for fans of M C Beaton's Agatha Raisin and Hamish Macbeth series.

Change is coming to Wendlebury Barrow – and not everyone is happy about it…

When the local bus company announces it will be stopping its route through their quaint Cotswold village, the people of Wendlebury Barrow are up in arms. Not least Sophie Sayers, whose driving lessons with her boyfriend Hector get off to a bumpy start.

But the locals’ peaceful protests against the decision turn deadly when a body is discovered on the Number 27. No one can work out how Janice Boggins met her demise, let alone how the driver didn’t notice. While the police wait for the post mortem results, Sophie immediately suspects foul play, and launches her own investigation.

Can she solve the murder before another passenger is hurt?

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I wouldn't normally jump into a series at the ninth book but this one appealed and it was easily enjoyed having not read the previous books, yet.

What I loved most about this cozy mystery was the humour. The murder itself was quite peculiar and the events leading up to it were quirky as the villagers banded together to protest against the cancellation of their local bus service.

I enjoyed Sophie as the main protagonist and I found her to be refreshing and intelligent. She handled a lecherous driving instructor, and a murder suspect with aplomb.

The small village setting added charm to the storyline and it was easy to get to know the local characters. I liked the eccentricities of the people and I could relate to their protesting to save their bus service. Villages and rural areas are constantly having to fight to save basic services like post offices, banking and public transport so I could easily imagine the feelings of the villagers and how riled up they could get about important matters.

This is a very entertaining and engrossing murder mystery and a new series to me that I want to explore from the beginning.

Author Bio –

Debbie Young is the much-loved author of the Sophie Sayers and St Brides cosy crime mysteries. She lives in a Cotswold village where she runs the local literary festival, and has worked at Westonbirt School, both of which provide inspiration for her writing. She is bringing both her series to Boldwood in a 13-book contract. They will be publishing several new titles in each series and republishing the backlist, starting in September 2022.

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Sunday 28 January 2024

Once Upon an Algorithm by Clara O'Connor

A brand new spicy STEM romance for fans of Ali Hazelwood and Sally Thorne!
Leonie’s personal dating algorithm:

1. Over 6 ft Tall
2. Funny and carefree
3. Well-travelled

But when a dating app leads Leonie to one night in Paris with brooding stranger Jack – the total opposite of what she’s looking for – she realises her list is missing out the most important thing: chemistry. And the chemistry between Leonie and Jack is off the charts!

Could the algorithm be on to something? When Leonie starts her new job at a tech start up the last person she expects to see is Jack. But there he is, sitting in the boss’s office, the man behind the code and the best night of sex of her life…

This is a difficult one to review as I didn't love it but I didn't entirely hate it either.
I did not enjoy the romance storyline and there was no comedy despite it being billed as a rom-com. 
Leonie and Jack meet for the first time in Paris via a dating app but it really lacked that meet-cute to set them up as aromantuc couple. There is no chemistry between them or funny banter to lighten the mood. Jack was a miserable sod for most of the novel. For an Irish man he was zero craic and the last person I'd volunteer to go for a drink with. He doesn't seem to like or trust Leonie at all and I didn't believe in any romantic feelings he may have had for her because he didn't show that he had any. 
There seemed to be a slight shift in their frenemies relationship when they travelled to Los Angeles. I did find their travelling scenes quite entertaining especially as Leonie had to look after him. This was the best part of the book for me. It provided a good opportunity for a real friendship to build as they spent time together but they didn't really grow emotionally closer in the way that I wanted. 
Maybe a dual POV would have helped with this book as there are so many red flags with Jack. It would have helped to understand his marriage arrangements and what he actually felt for Leonie beyond the obvious.
There is an awful lot of focus on the work behind the development of the app and the process the characters had to go through in order to get it ready for launch. It was more realistic than the romance but it didn't exactly make the book a page turner.

Wednesday 24 January 2024

The Library on Love Heart Lane (Love Heart Lane, Book 13) by Christie Barlow


Don’t miss this very special standalone novel in the Love Heart Lane series. Previously published as Evie’s Year of Taking Chances but now rewritten and improved by the author!

Love, life, and libraries

Growing up in foster care, Elle Cooper always felt a piece of herself was missing. Now, as her thirtieth birthday approaches, she’s ready to find it. But when instigating the search for her birth mother leads to a whole host of unexpected events, this librarian’s quiet life suddenly gets very loud!

With new friends, old flames and surprising influences keeping Elle busy, she soon starts to see that there’s more to life than where you came from – and that where you are right now, and who you have in your corner, is what might just matter most of all…

Love Heart Lane – where friends are there for you no matter what.


The Library on Love Heart Lane is a cosy, small-town romance where all the characters seem to be connected in some way or other through friends or family.

It's book thirteen in the series but I read it as a standalone.

This book centres around Elle who is looking for her birth mother. She is also single but secretly pining for Noah whom she had met a while ago. I did wonder why she didn't phone him but I enjoyed watching Pippa interfere and kickstart some social media interaction between the pair. It was cute watching them look out for likes and messages. 

Elle's back story pulled on my heartstrings as I read about her childhood and how that affected her. Her reunion with her mother was sensitively handled. I had an inkling as to who her father would be and it was pleasing to see the scenario of their meeting unfold.

The romance between Noah and Elle was a slow burn where they kept missing opportunities because of a lack of communication on Elle's part. She was really bad at sending out the right signals to him and I wondered how long he was going to hang about. But, it all worked out in the end sweetly and charmingly.

For a light, relaxing read The Library on Love Heart Lane fits the bill. 

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Saturday 20 January 2024

A Scandalous Match by Jane Dunn


‘Angelica had always known her lack of high birth, fortune or influence debarred her from being presented as an eligible young woman worthy of marriage. To cap it all, being an actress assured she was utterly beyond the pale of respectability.'

Nightly at the Covent Garden Theatre in London, an enchanting actress is wowing the crowds with her affecting portrayal of Ophelia. Preyed on by rakes and opportunistic young bucks, feted by dukes and earls, even the Prince Regent himself, Angelica Leigh is a sensation.

But in Regency England, beauty and talent are not enough to be considered marriage material, so when the eminently eligible Lord Charles Latimer sets his heart on Angelica, his uncle is sent to intervene.

As a highly respected, hard-working and wealthy lawmaker, The Honourable Ivor Asprey, is himself seen as desirable husband material, but widowed with an eleven-year-old daughter Elinor, he has forsaken all thoughts of romance. Lord Latimer’s mother, the Duchess of Arlington, despairs of her son, despite being reassured by Ivor that his infatuation with the actress will pass. But there is something about Angelica Leigh that demands attention, and even the austere and upstanding Mr Asprey isn’t immune to her charms.

Sunday Times bestselling author Jane Dunn brings the Regency period irresistibly to life. Perfect for fans of Jane Austen. Janice Hadlow, Gill Hornby, and anyone with a Bridgerton-shaped hole in their lives.

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A beautiful story, impossible to put down. A Scandalous Match blends the social and political history of Regency England with a riveting and thought-provoking romance between a member of parliament and an actress.  

There are plenty of characters in this book who delight and entertain. I couldn't help but adore Lord Latimer and Mr Locke as they both appeared very genuine in their friendship and admiration for Angelica. 

The theatre scenes were riotous and I could almost hear and feel the responses of the audience to Angelia's portrayal of Ophelia's death.

The slow burn enemies to friendship to lovers romance between Angelica and Ivor Asprey was fun to watch and a very charming read. Despite his protests to her suitability for his nephew he couldn't help but come to her aid whenever she was in trouble. He is kind and has a social conscience. Child labour reform is at the heart of his parliamentary endeavours and he is careful with his reputation to prevent opposition from latching on to anything scandalous that might derail his efforts. He didn't anticipate an emotional attachment to Angelica to put a spanner in the works.

There is a nice amount of humour in the story as Ivor's daughter, Elinor also develops a fondness for Angelica and is determined to play matchmaker. She is a lovely and endearing child and I couldn't help but want this trio to become a little family.

I enjoyed every minute of this book. It has depth, emotional charge, suspense and drama in addition to being a sparkling romance.

Author Bio 

Jane Dunn is an historian and biographer and the author of seven acclaimed biographies, including Daphne du Maurier and her Sisters and the Sunday Times and NYT bestseller, Elizabeth & Mary: Cousins, Rivals, Queens. She comes to Boldwood with her first fiction outing – a trilogy of novels set in the Regency period, the first of which, The Marriage Season, is to be published in January 2023. She lives in Berkshire with her husband, the linguist Nicholas Ostler.

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Friday 19 January 2024

Murder at Merewood Hospital by Michelle Salter


The patients survived the Great War only to face a new danger…

In 1916, Sister Helen Hopgood was sent with a team of nurses to care for wounded soldiers at Merewood Farm, a temporary military hospital in Hampshire.

Now the war is over, only five patients remain – and she is the only nurse. The last ward must close, and Helen is doing all she can to find new homes for the injured servicemen.

Joseph Wintringham has to sell the farm to keep Merewood Manor. But since the murder of Nurse Taplin, locals believe the place is cursed - perhaps by the doomed nurse or by the patients who perished from their war wounds.

Is the hospital haunted? Or is someone very real behind the unnatural deaths that begin on Midsummer’s Night 1919?

Can Helen discover the truth before it’s too late..?

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Murder at Merehood Hospital is a dark and twisty mystery full of tension. The hospital is populated with so many flawed characters that it is impossible to decide who could be the killer and until the last suspenseful moment, I had absolutely no idea.

Tension and menace build slowly but steadily right from the very beginning. The unsolved murder of Nurse Taplin is at the forefront of everyone's minds and this is quickly followed by nasty pranks and murder. There is a sense that something bad could happen at any moment. There are no cute, quirky characters in this book or have an obvious villain. Everyone is flawed and one or two are quite unlikeable. I suspected every single person at various stages including Sister Helen Hopgood.

The final scenes where everything starts to become clearer are intensely suspenseful and dramatic. I couldn't put it down.

Helen was a great character. Independent and smart. There is a little bit of a romantic element in her storyline as two men are interested in her. I didn't particularly care for either of them as neither seemed to be worthy of her. I loved the ending and the decisions that Helen made for her future. 

Michelle Salter writes historical cosy crime set in Hampshire, where she lives, and inspired by real-life events in 1920s Britain. The first book in her Iris Woodmore series,
Death at Crookham Hall, draws on her interest in the aftermath of the Great War and the suffragette movement.

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Thursday 18 January 2024

The Secret Book Club by Shauna Robinson (2024)


Maggie Banks loves books. And running a bookstore sounds like the best job in the world. Except in Bell River, a place that refuses to let her sell anything written this century.

But in Maggie's world, book rules are made to be broken.

And what better way to break tradition than by starting an underground book club. But keeping her new club quiet, selling forbidden books and dodging the strict literary society is proving harder than it seems. Especially when Maggie unearths a secret that could upend everything…


I found this book incredibly easy to get into and once I started I had it read in no time. It is cute, funny and entertaining.

I loved the idea of an underground book club but found many things unrealistic and a stretch to the imagination. A non book reader who falls into the job of running a bookshop and then suddenly develops a big love of reading. A businessman so obsessed with his ancestor that he won't allow modern books to be sold in his bookshop to the extent that he is in danger of going bankrupt. 
The local people who don't order their books online (or maybe they are all boycotting the zon) and resort to buying them secretly from a person who has one box of books? But hey, the story was really cute so I just went with it.
Malcolm and Maggie have a sweet friendship/romance and I enjoyed their game where they each have to read a book of the other's choosing and then go out for dinner to chat about it.  However, their romance was a bit bland and not central to the story.

 I loved the quirky characters in this strange little town and the friendships they created as they bonded over their secret book club. It was very entertaining to watch the book club thrive whilst trying to stay hidden from the bookshop's owner. 
Everything gets resolved in the end in a sweet and uplifting way.

The Secret Book Club is out today.

Tuesday 16 January 2024

Death Writes (Inishowen Mysteries #6) by Andrea Carter (2023)


'Hugely enjoyable, a proper mystery novel in a glorious Donegal setting' JANE CASEY

'Brilliant, beloved characters, a setting to die for and a sensational, twisted plot. I loved this one!' JO SPAIN

'A perfect summer read' SUNDAY INDEPENDENT

The next gripping book in the Ben O'Keefe series.

A very public death in front of an adoring crowd... or something more sinister?

Early summer in Glendara and the town's literary festival, Glenfest, is about to begin with Phyllis Kettle, the bookshop owner, at the helm. The big news is that Gavin Featherstone, the peninsula's bestselling but reclusive writer, has been persuaded to take part.

An eager crowd awaits his first public appearance in ten years. Unexpectedly charming, he is just about to read from his new memoir when he collapses and dies on stage.

Ben discovers that she holds Featherstone's will at the office, drafted by her predecessor. But just as it is confirmed that the author's death was murder, his assistant appears in Ben's office, brandishing a rival will which is very different from the one Ben has.

Ben and Molloy are thrown into an investigation where they are pitted against a killer who has nothing left to lose. And although working together, there are secrets Ben has to keep from Molloy... but is he keeping his own secrets from her?

Praise for Andrea Carter's Inishowen Mysteries series

'Atmospheric and vivid' 
The Irish Times

'I adored this traditional crime novel; it's modern day Agatha Christie with Ben as Miss Marple' 
Irish Examiner

'The colourful cast of characters may be fictional, but the landscapes, towns and villages are instantly recognisable' Irish Daily Mail

'A beguiling heroine - clever, sympathetic and bearing a weight of guilt' 
The Times


The sixth book in a beloved series. Ben has two mysteries to solve in this instalment. A stranger has moved in with her parents and Ben is convinced he is swindling them. And an author dies suddenly at the local book festival and it looks like murder.

Inishowen is a real place and I love how the author brings it alive with vivid descriptions of the landscape. The little towns like Malin and Moville are all very recognisable and I love guessing which local people some of the characters might be based on. The quirky characters are true to life and bring a lot of heart to the series.

The Inishowen Mysteries have a gentler pace than some mystery thrillers but I think it reflects very well the pace of life we have here in the peninsula.

I was particularly happy to see Moville and the Moville Shore Walk appear in this book as it's such a gorgeous place and close to my heart. 

I loved the storyline with Ben's parents and I was as excited for them to love Inishowen as much as Ben does. It's so scary to think about how vulnerable the older generation are to con artists and scams and I was glad that Ben had Molloy on hand to help her investigate the man at her parent's house.

The death of the author was also an interesting puzzle to solve as it was riddled with red herrings, secrets and lies.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. The series goes from strength to strength but it is advisable to start at book one as there are recurring characters and story arc involving Ben's background.

Death Writes has left me with the question; what happens next for Ben and Mollloy's relationship? Will Ben's parents feature more in the series? I hope they do.

Saturday 13 January 2024

An Enchanted Moment on Ever After Street by Jaimie Admans Blog Tour


An Enchanted Moment on Ever After Street

A picture-perfect town, a place where dreams come true. Welcome to Ever After Street...

A tale as old as time…

Since her mum’s death, Marnie Platt has shut herself away from everyone who cares about her. Worse, her beloved bookshop on Ever After Street is suffering too. With sales down and the shop’s garden falling into disrepair, Marnie risks losing the very last thing she loves. Until a chance encounter with her surly and reclusive neighbour….

Dark and brooding, Darcy O'Connell likes to keep himself to himself. But when he hears Marnie needs help, he can’t turn his back on her. Soon they are spending most evenings together in her enchanted garden and a friendship starts to bloom…

With the help of old and new friends on Ever After Street, Marnie's bookshop begins to thrive again, and with Darcy's kindness, she starts to get her sparkle back too. She just can't understand why Darcy continues to shut himself away - especially from her. Can she convince him it isn't too late to embrace life, and maybe love, again?

Because every story, even theirs, deserves a happy ending….

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I adored this book! It's such a lovely, heartwarming story. Its fairy tale theme is enchanting and charming and focuses on friendships, love and kindness. It was so sweet and endearing. It made me feel that every little community should have a local bookshop like Marnie's. It manages to bring people together in friendship and for me, it really brightened up a very miserable week in January.

The Beauty and the Beast parallels were cute. I loved the garden scenes, especially Marnie and Darcy's first meeting and a lot of their interactions had me laughing out loud. As Darcy mellowed and began to trust others again it was lovely to see the neighbours change their minds about him and genuinely care about his welfare. 

This was simply a gorgeous, uplifting story and if you are a fan of Beauty and the Beast and old-fashioned romance then this is one you won't want to miss or leave lingering on your TBR.

Author Biography

Jaimie Admans is the bestselling author of several romantic comedies – including The Little Christmas Shop on Nutcracker Lane and The Chateau of Happily-Ever-Afters. She lives in South Wales and was previously published by HQ Digital. Her new work for Boldwood, The Ever After Street Series, is based on the magical world of fairytales, the first title of which will be released in Spring 2023. 

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Thursday 11 January 2024

A Cocktail to Die For By Helen Golden


A Cocktail To Die For

Cocktails, chaos, and an unexpected twist. Can Perry and his hens unveil the truth before time

runs out?

Death at Prestigious Hotel and Spa, Chasingham House

We are hearing reports that a young woman has been found dead at Chasingham House, the exclusive venue in the Cotswolds. She has not been named, and the cause of death is unknown at this time. This will no doubt cast a cloud over the bachelor weekend being hosted there by Lady Beatrice (36), the Countess of Rossex, for her business partner Perry Juke (34) ahead of his wedding to bestselling author and celebrity chef Simon Lattimore (40). Also staying at Chasingham House are top models Camile Redmaine (35) and Mel Parks (35), who are celebrating newly single Cammy’s birthday with a group of friends.

When one of the birthday girls is found dead in her room, it’s clear Bea's plans for her, Perry, and their friends to chill around the pool, have a few treatments, and generally relax, seem to have gone down the drain. When the local police are quick to dismiss the death as an accident, Bea is determined to help investigate anyway, along with the rest of Perry’s party.

Can Perry and his hens catch the killer before the weekend is over and the trail goes cold?


Starting a series on the eighth book would normally be a huge no for me as I'd assume I'd be missing too much backstory of the main characters. However, this reads surprisingly well as a standalone. It was easy to, not only get into the story but, get to know the main characters and I never felt lost with who's who.

The untimely death of a party guest sparks the group to begin their own murder investigation, especially as the police are intimating that the death was an accident. Murder suspects are limited to the guests at the hotel but there were enough red herrings to keep me guessing and asking questions.

This is quite a gentle cosy mystery as all the investigation takes place in the hotel where it is easy to round up everyone there and conduct interviews on-site. There is quite a bit of humour throughout the book so I wasn't expecting the sad and poignant story behind the murder and I found that scene quite moving.

There is a little sneak peek into the next book to be published so I will be looking forward to that one but in the meantime, book 1 is calling.

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Author Bio –
Hello. I’m Helen Golden. I write British contemporary cozy whodunnits with a hint of humour. I live in
small village in Lincolnshire in the UK with my husband, my step-daughter, her two cats, our two dogs,
sometimes my step-son, and our tortoise.
I used to work in senior management, but after my recent job came to a natural end I had the opportunity
to follow my dreams and start writing. It's very early in my life as an author, but so far I'm loving it.
It’s crazy busy at our house, so when I’m writing I retreat to our caravan (an impulsive lockdown
purchase) which is mostly parked on our drive. When I really need total peace and quiet, I take it to a
lovely site about 15 minutes away and hide there until my family runs out of food or clean clothes.

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