#BookReview By Lou of A Spoonful of Murder By J.M. Hall #JMHall @AvonBooksUK @HarperCollinsUK #CrimeFiction #Mystery #BookRecommendation

A Spoonful of Murder
By J.M. Hall

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

A Spoonful of Murder is an engrossing, enjoyable cosy crime with an edge, full of former teachers who have started a coffee club, who become unlikely sleuths. Readers are in for a treat! Take a look at the blurb and my review. Thanks so much to Avon Books for gifting me this in a “care package” at the online Avon Books Showcase in 2021, I was kindly invited to and thoroughly enjoyed seeing what was coming in 2022.

A Spoonful of Murder

Blurb

Retirement can be murder…

A Spoonful of Murder 1Every Thursday, three retired school teachers have their ‘coffee o’clock’ sessions at the Thirsk Garden Centre café.

But one fateful week, as they are catching up with a slice of cake, they bump into their ex-colleague, Topsy.

By the next Thursday, Topsy’s dead.

The last thing Liz, Thelma and Pat imagined was that they would become involved in a murder.

But they know there’s more to Topsy’s death than meets the eye – and it’s down to them to prove it…

Sit down with a cup of tea, a slice of cake and this perfectly witty, page-turning cosy crime novel. 

Review

There is something in the air about Thursdays. It is becoming an increasingly dangerous day as the years pass by. I am now thinking I perhaps had better watch my back on Thursdays, you just never know what might occur or whether you might end the day dead or alive or involved in trying to solve a murder! First came The Thursday Murder Club and now comes a group of retired teachers in a Spoonful of Murder, and here is where any similarity (except genre of course, ceases and it comes into its own and is also a very enjoyable to read. It’s mysterious and humorous throughout its twisty and entertaining plot.

The retired teachers are an interesting bunch of characters that the more you delve in, the more you want to know about them. There is Liz, who likes David Essex and takes care of her grandson when she picks him up on Fridays Thelma who does a stint in a charity shop and Pat who does shopping on Fridays, meet every Thursday at Thirsk Garden Centre, Yorkshire, for coffee and cake as they set up a Coffee Club. There would be Monday and Tuesday free, but there’s a funny reason that seems perfectly justifiable as to why not those days… The idea of a coffee club sounds great! It is all innocent enough as they sit around talking about life and their former school, giving insights into their personalities and what they do the other days of the week as they do so. Then there is Topsy, who they go to visit, who sadly isn’t keeping so well and there are health and there are financial troubles and large sums exiting her account… and then, she is dead. Unintentionally the retired teachers are caught up in this to discover the murderer. There is also Topsy’s daughter, who Thelma almost witheringly rips through for what she was doing before her mum died and about care, or lack of. There are some poignant moments, dilemmas as well as secrets and deceptions. These unintentional sleuths probe and investigate what happened to a woman they once knew.

As the mystery continues, this becomes increasingly engrossing and enjoyable. You get to know everyone fairly fast. This, I feel, may be the beginning of what will hopefully become a series about the retired teachers and the murders they get involved in solving. It’s cosy crime with an edge to it with its insalubrious characters. It has clues abound that you will want to follow throughout to keep guessing who the killer is, through the light humour and warmth that is also sprinkled in the book. A Spoonful of Murder is good for cosying up with a cup of coffee and easing yourself into a book for an afternoon or two.

 

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#Review of A Home In The Sun by Sue Moorcroft @SueMoorcroft @AvonBooks #SummerRead #Summer #Books

A Home In The Sun
By Sue Moorcroft

Rating: 5 out of 5.

A Home In the Sun is a great summer read by Sue Moorcroft. Readers can escape to Malta, with it’s beautiful scenery and find out about Judith’s complicated life of love and woe and more… It is a delight for these hot weather days and nights. Discover more in the blurb and my review below.
I thank Avon Books for inviting me to review and for gifting me a book.
Please note, my review is unbiased.

A Home In the Sun

A gorgeous summer read about new beginnings from the Sunday Times bestseller.

Home is where the heart is…but what if your heart is broken?

When Judith loses her partner, she loses her life in Malta too – including the beautiful view from her sun-warmed balcony of the sparkling blue waters of Sliema Creek.

Back in England, Judith finds a spare room in her sister’s house where she grew up – but with it comes a whole host of family dramas. Nursing a broken heart, Judith knows she must find happiness again – and rebuild her life on her own terms.

Could an island in the sun be the answer she is looking for?

A wonderfully escapist summer read, perfect for fans of Katie Fforde and Carole Matthews.

Review

A Home In the SunWho can, on a hot, balmy summer’s day, resist that title?

Judith McAllistair, in 2000 is 40 and lives in Malta and is hungry for change. New millenium, start of a new decade in her life, newly single, she sees it the perfect time to make changes. Already new romance is on the horizon with Georgio Zammit. All isn’t as it seems with a peel back of the sun and scenery, into the culture of Malta, one that makes this potential romance tricky and a bit squirmy. It’s a part of their culture that isn’t talked about as it resembles very little to the tourist scene, but is part of real life for the permanent population. It gives a very interesting insight for people wanting to reside there, that becomes compelling. The summer vibe is also all there, adding to that blissful summery mood.

The book moves to the first chapter and time has also moved onto April 2004 and there’s sizzling romance and it oozes with delightful scenery and diving is on the agenda. Everything is idyllic and has, even though, Judith is living in Malta, it has that easy holiday feel atmosphere, until tragedy strikes and her world of new hot passion is turned upside down and she is brought to earth with a jolt.

There is time for readers to soak up the Maltese sun and surroundings, which makes it lovely to escape into, amongst the challenges of the characters lives, which also takes readers to England in a move that isn’t taken lightly and ends up in Birnham, where welcomings aren’t all terribly warm and emotions are high and adjusting and building a new life is harder than it is assumed to be. There are serious money issues and the need for a new job and huge decisions to make about what it is she wants to do and not do for a living. It is fun meeting everyone, but not always easy for Judith to be reunited with people. As if that isn’t enough to contend with. there is an unexpected issue involving a snake…

In part 2, time slinks into 2005. There are secrets to keep and lives for Judith to watch moving on and to be halted by more tragedy that is beautifully observed in the writing.

The writing has everything from sadness, anger, humour and overriding all of that is absolute pure drama as the past affects the present and future and how lives can move on and keeps you guessing how they can and if that is possible and where Judith will end up in her life – England or Malta?

#BookReview by Lou An Endless Cornish Summer by Phillipa Ashley @PhillipaAshley @AvonBooksUK #Summer #SummerRead #Fiction

An Endless Cornish Summer By Phillipa Ashley ★★★★★

Rating: 5 out of 5.

An Endless Cornish Summer is a great summer read that will take you on a heartrendering mission to find a donor. It’s quite a story that has some heartache, but an overriding warmth and escapism with some romance. It’s a great book for on the beach. Find out more in my blurb and check out the rest of my review too. I thank Avon Books for allowing me to review and gifting me the book.

An Endless Cornish Summer

Blurb

Escape to the seaside with this gorgeous new series from the Sunday Times bestselling author – perfect for fans of Trisha Ashley and Heidi Swain. Rose Vernon is headed to a quiet Cornish village – to find the man who saved her life.  For Rose, every day is a gift. She narrowly survived a life-threatening illness and owes everything to her anonymous donor. Determined to thank him, Rose follows a trail of clues that lead her to the little Cornish fishing village of Falford. But things become complicated when Rose is drawn into local life, becoming involved in the legendary Falford Regatta and meeting the handsome Morvah brothers – one of whom might just be the man she’s looking for. But which one? Can Rose find the answer she’s searching for, or will she lose her heart before the summer is over?

Review

An Endless Cornish SummerThis has a great summer feel and a great story. Rose has had a life-threatening illness and has been in hospital in an isolation ward, where even stem-cell treatment crops up. Fast forward 4 years later and things are much better, but sad events still occur in her life, but it is heartwarming that Marge lleaves a powerful, beautiful letter, which persuades her to start to hunt for her donor. It’s quite a story that has heartache, is heartrendering and affairs of the heart. Rose meets Finn Morvah and he and his family own Morvah Marine, but business is complicated on the backdrop of gorgeous scenery, boats and boatyards, that make the area colourful and come to life, along with the other characters she meets. There’s even the potential for a spot of romance and it keeps you guessing whether she will fall for Finn or Joey or neither of them. They also have to work her out too, whether she will be interested in either of them, or so dedicated to her job as an archeologist that she doesn’t have time for that sort of thing. It also brings some light humour to what starts out as quite a heartbreaking situation and moves to being heartwarming, romantic in a way that is great for lounging in the sun with. It is all such a joy to escape to Cornwall and its coastal scenery. It really does make you wish summer would never end. It has that sunshine glow written all over it that makes it a great summer read!

Happy Publication Day for The Lucky Escape by Laura Jane Williams @laurajaneauthor @AvonBooks @ElliePilcher95

The Lucky Escape
By Laura Jane Williams

Happy Publication Day to Laura Jane Williams for her book The Lucky Escape. It is available in paperback, e-book and audio book. Discover more in the blurb below and you can purchase this feel-good summer read from today. Thanks to Ellie Pilcher at Avon Books for giving me the opportunity to share this with you all.

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Blurb

The wedding? Cancelled. 
The bride? Heartbroken.
The honeymoon? Try and stop her…

 
The Lucky Escape by Laura Jane Williams is OUT TODAY in ebook, paperback and audiobook. Escape to Australia this summer in this hilarious feel-good read!       

Purchase Link –  Waterstones

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#Review Wartime With The Cornish Girls by Betty Walker @AvonBooksUK #BookReview #FamilySaga #WartimeSaga

Wartime With The Cornish Girls
By Betty Walker

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Tense and atmospheric, with sinister moments of unease, this deals with the hardships of motherhood and a burgeoning romance that may be the start of a new life for Hazel, away from her home situation as she takes on a top secret job. It uplifting as well as being an all encompassing, excellent read. Find out more in the blurb and full review and where you can buy it.

I thank Avon Books for gifting me the book.

Blurb

Wartime With The Cornish Girls1941. The Blitz rages over London.
And even in Cornwall, the war is being fought…

When Violet loses her sister in the Blitz, she must take her nieces to safety in Cornwall. On the coast, she meets carefree chorus girl Eva, who is also running from the dangers of London.

But Porthcurno hides a secret military base, and soon Violet and Eva realise there’s a battle to fight in Cornwall, too.

Together with local Hazel, who works on the base, they must come together to help the war effort. But will their friendship be enough to keep them safe?

Wartime With The Cornish Girls

Review

Set in Dagenham, East London, readers first meet Violet and it has a sinister start with Violet, a cafe worker, being followed. It immediately sets an unease, with the way it is written. There is also Fred, who is vying for her attention. There is some dialect such as “meself”, which really places her. It’s not strong and is easy to figure out.

Betsy had married Ernst and it caused quite a stir and now feelings are bubbling to the surface again as he is a German. The story centres a good mix of characters from across the UK and an American.

The plot does move to Cornwall, somewhere near Porthcurno in the south, where there is a hidden army base. It is also where a stubborn teenage boy, Charlie lives there with his parents, Hazel and Bertie, who are married out of convenience. It also demonstrates how unhappy some of those marriages were. It doesn’t shy away from the hardships of motherhood and the challenges some people faced, shown through the eyes of Hazel. Charlie, being a teen also goes to show that even as the decades pass in real life, some things never change or evolve and parents and teachers will certainly be able to relate to his mannerisms and attitude.

The changing scenery when the war began is quite a feature as does the change in life and the meaning of signing an official secrets act as Hazel takes on a top secret job. There is a sense of urgency and upmost responsibility and beyond that spikes through the pages with these top secret job involving codes and so much more and the threat of what could happen if anyone divulges the secrets. It gives a harsh reality.

It’ll take readers on an interesting, windy path with a tense, serious atmosphere of duty and family as the war closes in and the realities emerge and are pretty hard-hitting, cut by the friendship of the women that smudges through, bringing a bit of light relief and a sense them being in it together.
It certainly isn’t a cosy book, but one of a believable plotline that doesn’t sugar-coat anything, and instead, shows anguish and the sacrifices people made, including in their daily lives and how they had a certain resilience and also got on with the job. There is also a touch of romance in the air as well as a bit of desperation for a different life, away from domestic violence, portrayed in Hazel, but also a panic that is captured so well, in what the consequences of the betrayal of her husband and what her son will say and do, which adds to the intensity that grows throughout.

The second book will be coming soon – Christmas With The Cornish Girls.

Wartime With The Cornish Girls

Purchase Links

Waterstones

Bookshop.org 

Amazon

#Review by Lou – Under the Italian Sun by Sue Moorcroft @SueMoorcroft @ElliePilcher95 @AvonBooksUK #WomensFiction #Romance #Fiction

Under the Italian Sun
By Sue Moorcroft

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Family members to discover, loss and lovely scenery and food, Under the Italian Sun will play with your emotions in a journey from the very south of England to Italy. It is all quite intriguing to see lives unearthed as ancestry is uncovered.
Discover more in the blurb and review as you escape to being Under The Italian Sun.

Thanks to Ellie Pilcher at Avon Books for inviting me to review and for gifting me an e-book.

Under The Italian Sun

Blurb

The #1 bestseller is back with an uplifting, escapist read that will brighten the gloomiest day!

A warm, sun-baked terrace.

The rustle of verdant green vines.

The sun slowly dipping behind the Umbrian mountains.

And the chink of wine glasses as the first cork of the evening is popped…

Welcome to Italy. A place that holds the answer to Zia-Lucia Costa Chalmers’ many questions. Not least, how she ended up with such a mouthful of a name.

When Zia discovers that her mother wasn’t who she thought she was, she realises the time has come to search out the Italian family she’s never known.

However, as she delves into the secrets of her past, she doesn’t bargain on having to think about her future too. But with local vineyard owner, Piero, living next door, Zia knows she has a serious distraction who may prove difficult to ignore…

This summer, join Zia as she sets out to uncover her past. But can she find the future she’s always dreamed of along the way?

Review

Under The Italian SunThe book deals with loss of a gran and family discovery of where you come from. It begins with Zia and Ursula looking through belongings, left behind by Zia’s gran for clues to who her father was/is. There is also the mystery as to who Victoria Chalmers was and how she may have fit into the family. There’s a lot of unravelling, a bit like “Long Lost Family” and trying to piece together Zia’s family tree, which is of much interest, and Zia is on a mission to discover all, by hiring Harry – a private investigator and things get rather complicated. There’s also the burgeoning romance that brings characters together on this adventure.

The valley where Zia and Ursula go to in Italy – Tenuta Domenicali, in Orvieto wine region, is awash with grape vines for wine, where Emiliano works on the production side, which belongs to the Domenicali family. There’s much to consider for the business and whether to sell to a big company with big tourist ideas and plans for development or to decline the offer. 

The book goes between Italy and Devon and brings up some real issues about affordability in the very south of England, or rather lack of it and how everything is vastly expensive.

There is an air of holiday time about the book, which makes it a lovely, beautifully written book to read whilst on a staycation or in your garden with the sun beating down on you or curled up somewhere in your home. The book is both uplifting and emotional. It isn’t a heavy read, although it deals with grief, it still has that lazy summer’s day feel about it. It may also make you hungry with some of the lovely food that is mentioned.

As Under the Italian Sun continues, it is intriguing to see how the vines of family connections intertwine. There are birth and death certificates to be found and the details that come with those. It’s a book that may even inspire some readers to investigate their family history to see what they can unearth.