#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.

 

#BookReview By Lou – Lies Like Wildfire by Jennifer Lynn Alvarez #JenniferLynnAlvarez #YA #Mystery @penguinrandom #BookTwitter #BookRecommendations

Lies Like Wildfire
by Jennifer Lynn Alvarez

Rating: 5 out of 5.

A compulsive, intensive read for 12-17 year olds that will have their noses stuck in a book until the end. Thanks to publisher – Penguin Random House Children’s UK for gifting me the book to review. Discover more in the blurb and scroll on down to the rest of my review.

Lies LIke Wildfire

Blurb

Secrets and lies are everywhere in this compulsive page-turner, perfect for fans of TikTok favourites One of Us is Lying, We Were Liars and This Lie Will Kill You.

An intense high-stakes story about five friends and the deadly secret that could send their lives up in flames, perfect for fans of Karen McManus and E. Lockhart.

In Gap Mountain, California, everyone knows about fire season. And no one is more vigilant than 18-year-old Hannah Warner, the sheriff’s daughter and aspiring FBI agent. That is until this summer. When Hannah and her best friends accidentally spark an enormous and deadly wildfire, their instinct is to lie to the police and the fire investigators.

But as the blaze roars through their rural town and towards Yosemite National Park, Hannah’s friends begin to crack and she finds herself going to extreme lengths to protect their secret. Because sometimes good people do bad things. And if there’s one thing people hate, it’s liars.

Review

The gang, the teenagers make up – 2 boys, 3 girls, are called The Monsters, are also out to protect each other and themselves when a huge, catastrophic, very destructive fire breaks out in a town, with the wild flames heading towards Yosemite National Park. It’s pretty graphic in some places, especially with the fire, which really highlights the seriousness of the situation.

It’s a dark, twisty young adult book which highlights unhealty, toxicity in some relationships between the characters. There’s also the chase of future life dreams, such as teenagers wanting to become a nurse, work in criminology and more… Each is far, far from perfect. They tried to be good, but they are also far from this too as secrets are kept and many lies are told. Older teenagers and early 20 somethings will find this a gripping read as the story builds as the flames and realisation of the fire does too and there’s nothing much that can be done to fan them as the gang begins to crack here and there, but Hannah tries to hold tight and keep the gang close. As the net closes in on them, one of the gang disappears, creating further speculation and intrigue.

Lies Like Wildfire is about teens, who have their whole lives ahead of them, falling apart and readers can find out how far they are willing to go in their lies, even to the most powerful of authorities in law to try and coverup their terrible secret. There’s the intrigue as to whether they will eventually come good or not and what will happen to them.

I’ll Be Home For Christmas By M. W. Arnold

Ill Be Home For Christmas

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Today I am delighted to be on the blog tour for M.W. Arnold, especially timely on Armistice Day. Thanks to Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me to review.

About The Author

Mick spent fifteen-odd years roaming around the world, courtesy of HM Queen Elizabeth II – gawd bless her – before becoming a civilian and realizing what working for a living really was.

He loves traveling, and the music of the Beach Boys, Queen, Muse, and Bon Jovi. Books play a large part in his life, not only writing, but also reading and reviewing, as well as supporting his many author friends.

He’s the proud keeper of two Romanian Were-Cats bent on world domination, and enjoys the theatre and humoring his Manchester United-supporting wife. Finally, and most importantly, Mick is a full member of the Romantic Novelists Association. I’ll be Home for Christmas will be his third novel with The Wild Rose Press.

Other books by M. W. Arnold from The Wild Rose Press, Inc.

          A Wing and a Prayer                        Wild Blue Yonder

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Blurb

I’ll Be Home For Christmas  – Broken Wings book 3

A mysterious key left by her murdered sister, leads Air Transport Auxiliary pilot Betty Palmer on a journey of discovery and danger. Given up to an orphanage upon birth, the parents she’s long thought had no part in her life force themselves back in, purely out of greed and self-preservation.

Penny’s life is unexpectedly turned upside down by a potentially life-changing situation, which causes her wounded husband to question their marriage. No-one seems safe in this year of turmoil in the middle years of the war, as some relationships face breaking point whilst others become stronger.

Kidnap, crashes and dogfights, the girls of the Air Transport Auxiliary Mystery have never faced such dangers. To survive may not be enough as they must find the strength to rise above the most trying times yet of their lives.

Review

This is a mystery with quite a difference, it is with the Air Transport Auxiliary, in the middle war years. I haven’t read any of these books before and it is perhaps a good idea to read the previous 2 first in some ways for some of the thread, but at the same time there is a new mystery within the book. There’s friendships and heartbreak within the group and yet a gripping mystery to solve. There’s also a fair amount of action. As the mystery gets deeper, there’s a rise in jeopardy, which is welcome as it adds a bit of pace and edge.

The friendships and the turmoils faced also pulls you in and it’s easy to care about the characters and doesn’t overtake the mystery, but enriches it and creates a full community of people and allows readers to really see their lives unfold as they live through difficulties as conflict is within the friendships, and some unexpected highlights of some friendships growing stronger.

This is a good read that will entertain, absorb and make you want to read more…

https://www.facebook.com/MWArnoldAuthor

Twitter – Mick859

Instagram – Mick859

YouTube Channel –tinyurl.com/cymt5zea

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#Review by Lou Stealing The Spanish Princess – Behind Every Painting Is A Story… by Bea Green #BeaGreen @TheConradPress @RandomTTOurs #CrimeFiction #StealingTheSpanishPrincess

Stealing The Spanish Princess
By Bea Green 

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Spanish Princess Graphic 5

I stand in art galleries sometimes, just gazing at paintings, wondering what the story is behind them, or the pose of a portrait. With Stealing The Spanish Princess, you see part of the painting through a door and wonder what’s going on as you step inside.

Thanks to Love Books for inviting me on the blog tour and for The Conrad Press for sending me the book. Follow down to find out more of my review and about the author and what gave inspiration to include a particular piece of art in this first in the series crime fiction book.

Blurb

Spanish Princess Graphic 2In this captivating and dazzling art crime mystery, eccentric detective Richard Langley hunts for a 16th-century masterpiece by the artist El Greco. The thief stole the priceless painting from an apartment in Kensington, London, and in the process knifed to death a Russian woman. DCI Richard Langley from Scotland Yard’s Art and Antiquities Unit joins colleagues from Homicide as they pursue a trail that leads them to St Petersburg and then to Madrid. Following closely in their footsteps is a maverick private investigator hired by the painting’s owner. Knowing how hard it is to sell on stolen artworks of that calibre, Richard wonders what the motive behind its theft might be. The answer, when it comes, takes everyone by surprise.

Review

This is the first Inspector Langley Mystery and readers are in for a treat with this debut that takes readers into the art theft scene and murder! 

Chief Inspector Richard Langley begins his day studying a mummified foot…. as you do… until he is requested to head up to room 402, a room that doesn’t specialise in antiquities and art crime, so comes as a surprise to be called to meet Chief SuperIntendant Alan Matthews, Chief Inspector, Abdul Hazim and Detective Inspector Eilidh Simmons and Super Intendent Lionel Grieves. Then all becomes clear to Langley as murder and art theft of a valuable El Greco painting mix together like colours on a pallet. Bea Green has done some interesting research on El Greco that is intertwined smoothly into the story. You can check out what the paintings are like online. I did a quick internet search. It’s worth doing.
The book is rich with art references to several artists and art security in such a tumultous world, especially in some parts. There are interesting parts about Russia and the art and opera world there, that also become intriguing and all becomes a murky, sinister world with the Russian Mafia.

Rosamie is an interesting character as a person of interest to the police and I found her to be intriguing, especially in her reactions.

There is much for readers to be interested with this book from styles of art to theatre to history, to present times to connections to different countries and of course, crime; all of which takes some unexpected turns.

 

Author Bio for Bea Green

 

Bea Green Author PicBea Green has had a somewhat roving life as the daughter of a British diplomat. Her mother is Spanish and growing up Bea spent every summer at her grandfather’s olive tree farm in Andalusia. This olive tree farm was the inspiration for her contemporary romance book, La Finca.

Bea studied Art throughout school and then did Art History for two of her four years at St Andrews University, where she met her husband. She graduated with an MA in English Literature.

Her interest in art was fostered by her father and her Spanish grandmother. Her Spanish grandmother accompanied her to many of Madrid’s art galleries and several of El Prado’s paintings are fondly remembered in Bea’s art crime book, Stealing the Spanish Princess.

Stealing the Spanish Princess was inspired by a Spanish painting, Lady in a Fur Wrap, at Pollok House, Glasgow. When Bea wrote Stealing the Spanish Princess there was a huge debate among art experts about the painting, with some claiming it was painted by El Greco. Some experts thought the painting was of Princess Catalina Micaela, daughter of the Spanish King, Philip II.

Bea Green has lived in Edinburgh since leaving St Andrews University, with her Glaswegian husband and two daughters. She also maintains close links with her family in Spain.

Stealing Spanish Princess BT Poster

 

 

 

#Review by Lou – Noah’s Gold by Frank Cottrell-Boyce #MiddleGrade #ChildrensBook – Happy Publication Day! @frankcottrell_b @MacmillanKidsUK

Noah’s Gold
By Frank Cottrell-Boyce

Rating: 5 out of 5.

I was excited to see that I had been accepted to review Noah’s Gold. I’ve seen Frank Cottrell-Boyce’s work before in books and on screen and been impressed. Noah’s Gold did not disappoint and middle-grade readers of 9 years plus will have a great adventure in their hands with this book. It is perfect for the home, classrooms, libraries, bookshops. This is the book children who enjoy humour and trepidation, will find hard to put down. I am feel so excited for the children who may pick this book up, as my fingers fly enthusiastically across my laptop as I write the review.
Find out more in my review and the blurb and then check out what other top, very popular children’s authors have to say about it. Then find out more about this exciting author and illustrator and some social media and purchasing links. I thank the publisher – MacMillan Children’s Books for gifting me a book.

Noah's Gold

Packed with mystery, adventure and laughs, Noah’s Gold is the exciting novel from the bestselling, multi-award-winning author of Millions and Cosmic, Frank Cottrell-Boyce. Fully illustrated in black and white throughout by Steven Lenton, this is perfect for readers of 9+.

Being the smallest doesn’t stop you having the biggest ideas.

Eleven-year old Noah sneaks along on his big sister’s geography field trip. Everything goes wrong! Six kids are marooned on an uninhabited island. Their teacher has vanished. They’re hungry. Their phones don’t work and Noah has broken the internet. There’s no way of contacting home . . . Disaster!

Until Noah discovers a treasure map and the gang goes in search of gold.

Review

Noah's GoldNoah’s Gold is story-telling at its best! Frank Cottrell-Boyce has produced an absolutely terrific book for middle-grade readers of aged 9 plus, that’s entertaining, attention grabbing from the start, humorous and one fabulous adventure and mystery!

I love that the chapters become letters, this is ingenious! This book will feed right into children’s imaginations as they join a rip-roaring adventure, that starts as a normal school trip, but there’s so many issues with the sat-nav and all starts to go wrong.
Meet Noah, Ryland, Lola, Dario and Ada as they unexpectedly end up on an uninhabited island. Mr Merriman, the teacher, then mysteriously disappears!
The characters wild imaginations take hold of them and their theories are most entertaining. There’s also the issue of there being no phone signal, which would be the stuff of nightmares for children.
There’s some neat references to faeries and Katie Morag and Paddington 2 that come into play, as they work out what to do next, to resolve their mysterious predicament. There’s also commaraderie amongst the class and some team work as they pull together to create and light a fire and more… as they try to survive together. The book may be thought-provoking to children, who may turn their attentions to what they may do if they found themselves in a similar situation. For all that, it’s a sparky tale, full of energy and wit.

There’s also the fun discovery of a treasure map, with clues that are found in the most curious of places as they magically appear as they go on this further adventure to try and find the gold and then to find out where Mr Merriman can be.

The book is the opposite to Lord of the Flies, which has its merits, which are still important for today, Noah’s Gold has humour and also shows children coming together and pulling all their knowledge and resources together in a positive way. It also puts me in mind of a modern Famous Five or Secret Seven in some ways, and has a bit of a nod to Roald Dahl too, which is so wonderful in this riveting adventure.

The book is fully illustrated in black and white pictures that make it all accessible for children who are still into pictures in their books. I was impressed by the artistic nature of the writing too, as tunnels are found, the colours of the text changed. There’s even a recipe for children who like to bake. The book has absolutely everything! 

Children can read this themselves and it would also work well in a class situation, being read out loud.

Praise for Noah’s Gold

Brilliantly entertaining & thought provoking . . . I am in total awe.’ David Walliams

‘Proper, sparkly, witty, enticing storytelling . . . It’s perfect.’ Hilary McKay

About The Author

Frank Cottrell-Boyce is an award-winning author and screenwriter. Millions, his debut children’s novel, won the CILIP Carnegie Medal. He is also the author of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang Flies AgainCosmicFramed, The Astounding Broccoli Boy and Runaway Robot. His books have been shortlisted for a multitude of prizes, including the Guardian Children’s Fiction Prize, the Whitbread Children’s Fiction Award (now the Costa Book Award) and the Roald Dahl Funny Prize. Sputnik’s Guide to Life on Earth was shortlisted for the 2017 CILIP Carnegie Medal and selected for the inaugural WHSmith Tom Fletcher Book Club.

Frank is a judge for the 500 Words competition and the BBC’s One Show As You Write It competition. Along with Danny Boyle, he devised the Opening Ceremony for the London 2012 Olympics. He has written for the hit TV series Dr Who and was the screenwriter for the hit film Goodbye Christopher Robin. @frankcottrell_b

Steven Lenton is a multi-award-winning illustrator, originally from Cheshire, now working from his studios in Brighton and London with his dog, Big Eared Bob. He has illustrated many children’s books including Head Kid and The Taylor Turbochaser by David Baddiel, The Hundred And One Dalmatians adapted by Peter Bently, the Shifty McGifty and Slippery Sam series by Tracey Corderoy and the Sainsbury’s Prize-winning The Nothing To See Here Hotel series written by Steven Butler. He has illustrated two World Book Day titles and regularly appears at literary festivals and live events across the UK. Steven has his own Draw-along YouTube channel, showing how to draw a range of his characters. He has also written his own picture book Princess Daisy and the Dragon and the Nincompoop Knights’ and his new young fiction series Genie and Teeny. For more info visit stevenlenton.com

Purchase Links

Amazon         Waterstones         Bookshop.org

 

#Review Vera Kelly Is Not A Mystery by Rosalie Knecht @rosalieknecht @verve_books @holliemcdevitt @OldCastleBooks #CrimeFiction #BlogTour #BookReview #FemaleSpyBook

Vera Kelly Is Not A Mystery
By Rosalie Knecht

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

This series is getting better. It started with Who Is Vera Kelly? Now she is back with Vera Kelly Is Not A Mystery. It is a fun, easy-going spy story, asy to get into and stay with and soak up that film noir atmosphere it creates some of within its entertaining plot.

Thanks to Hollie McDevitt for inviting me to review Vera Kelly Is Not A Mystery and for sending me a copy of the book.

Vera Kelly is not a mystery

Blurb

Recently out-of-the-spy-game heroine Vera Kelly finds herself travelling from Brooklyn to a sprawling
countryside estate in the Caribbean in her first case as a private investigator. When ex-CIA agent Vera Kelly loses her job and her girlfriend in a single day, she reluctantly goes into business as a private detective. Heartbroken and cash-strapped, she takes a case that dredges up dark
memories and attracts dangerous characters from across the Cold War landscape.
Before it’s over, she’ll chase a lost child through foster care and follow a trail of Dominican exiles to the
Caribbean. Forever looking over her shoulder, she nearly misses what’s right in front of her: her own desire for home, connection, and a new romance at the local bar.
In this exciting second instalment of the ‘splendid genre-pushing’ (People) Vera Kelly series, Rosalie Knecht
challenges and deepens the Vera we love: a woman of sparkling wit, deep moral fibre, and martini-dry humour who knows how to follow a case even as she struggles to follow her heart.

Review

Vera Kelly Is Not A Mystery is the second in this P.I. series. It’s a bad day when you lose your job in the CIA and girlfriend in a single day, but this is what happened to Vera and so she joined a Private Investigator business. Vera Kelly is essentially a female detective series that has a bit of that 1960’s film noir feel to it, which is all encompassing and can almost be breathed in as if that were possible. There are some of the uphill struggles to be recognised as a strong contender in detective work and yet she gives as good as she gets to prove herself and to get the job done in, sometimes a lively manner.

There is a child who was taken away by the state welfare system because of the death of his gran and this propmts a search to find out what happened to him. From Brooklyn to Dominican Republic and back to New York, she must travel if she is to resolve the case. Amongst this is also the personal life of Vera that creeps in and it isn’t always plain-sailing and she does at times show her softer side as her unfortunate failed love-life affects her here and there.

Pages glide by when reading this series as it is so succinct and is mysterious enough to want to know what happened to the 14 year old boy. The writing is also atmospheric and the details add to this and feel right for this genre. The humour carries it a long too, even though it is as dry as it gets. It’s a gem of a read that can be “got into” very quickly and I read it in one sitting.

The book is all set up and ready to go for Book Clubs. It has a few insightful questions that groups can discuss and debate to do with the book, the era it is set in and more…

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