Review: Ten Little Herrings by L.C. Tyler

Ten Little Herrings (The Elsie and Ethelred Series)

 

Blurb:  When obscure crime writer Ethelred Tressider vanishes, his dogged literary agent, Elsie Thirkettle, is soon on his trail. Finding him (in a ramshackle hotel in the French Loire) proves surprisingly easy. Bringing him home proves more difficult than expected – but (as Elsie observes) who would have predicted that, in a hotel full of stamp collectors, the guests would suddenly start murdering each other? One guest is found fatally stabbed, apparently the victim of an intruder. But when a rich Russian oligarch also dies, in a hotel now swarming with policemen, suspicion falls on the remaining guests. Elsie is torn between her natural desire to interfere in the police investigation and her urgent need to escape to the town’s chocolaterie. Ethelred, meanwhile, seems to know more about the killings than he is letting on. Finally the time comes when Elsie must assemble the various suspects in the Dining Room, and reveal the truth.

My Rating: 4/5

Review:   Until a few days ago I had spent hours each week commuting to work and had realised that an excellent way of passing the times was to listen to audiobooks while I drove.  When my last book finished I decided to choose this one next despite having not read the first book in the series (it’s on my kindle waiting for me!).  After my last audiobook, which was an excellent psychological crime novel, I was in the mood for something a bit lighter and this fit the bill perfectly. 

Within minutes of starting the book I was laughing at the thoughts and antics of Elsie and Ethelred and so began what can only be described as a rollicking good read (or listen in my case).  The story never takes itself too seriously and that is why it works, between Ethelred’s constant disapproval of Elsie’s antics and Elsie getting herself into trouble over her obsession with chocolate it’s a never ending ride which had me stunned into disbelief one minute and laughing out loud the next.

The story has the usual type of characters you expect to see in a Marple or Poirot novel, from the suspicious one who simply looks like a murderer to the ones who appear suspect simply because they say very little and aren’t keen on being questioned by Elsie. She spends a lot of the book trying to figure out who the murder(s) is/are and the rest of it trying to get more chocolate which is made tricky by the fact that the police stop the guests/suspects from leaving the hotel, cue some hilarious and cringe-inducing but dramatic scenes.

I really enjoyed this book and the narration. The narrator did a good job of the different voices and accents along with conveying the incredulity that Elsie often had and Ethelred’s many feelings about Elsie’s behaviour. 

I would recommend this to anyone who enjoys a murder mystery but wants something with a bit of fun and lightness to it. Now I just need to make some time for the other books in the series!

Review: The House in Quill Court by Charlotte Betts

9780349404530

 Published 25th August 2016

Paperback Original | £8.99

From the multi-award-winning author of The Apothecary’s Daughter, The House in Quill Court is a gorgeously evocative Regency novel bursting with historical flavour and characters you won’t forget. If you love Philippa Gregory and Joanne Harris, you will adore Charlotte Betts.

Blurb:  1813.  Venetia Lovell lives by the sea in Kent with her pretty, frivolous mother and idle younger brother. Venetia’s father, Theo, is an interior decorator to the rich and frequently travels away from home, leaving his sensible and artistic daughter to look after the family. Venetia designs paper hangings and she and her father often daydream about having an imaginary shop where they would display the highest quality furniture, fabrics and art to his clients.

When a handsome but antagonistic stranger, Jack Chamberlaine, arrives at the Lovell’s cottage just before Christmas bringing terrible news, Venetia’s world is turned upside-down and the family have no option but to move to London, to the House in Quill Court and begin a new life. Here, Venetia’s courage and creativity are tested to breaking point, and she discovers a love far greater than she could have ever imagined . . .

My Rating: 4/5

Review: I’ve not read a lot of historical fiction but when I have I’ve always loved the descriptions of the past, of places that are familiar to us but at the same time completely different from things are now.  The blurb of this book had enough intrigue in it to pique my interest that I was willing to give it a chance despite never having read anything by this author before.  It’s a very well written book with a lot of description, perhaps a little too much at times, but certainly enough that makes for vivid imagery of what you are reading about, the locations, characters, sights and sounds.

While the main characters mentioned in the blurb are Venetia and Jack, the female characters of Venetia and Kitty are far stronger in the book than the other characters, including the men. It’s almost as if there are two interlinked but separate stories as we watch the stories of both women unfold as they deal with the changes of moving from Kent to London, meeting new people and having new experiences.  For reasons which i can’t clearly explain Kitty comes across as a stronger person to me, even though Venetia is certainly no wilting flower.  Perhaps Kitty’s story is more relatable for me as I know had I lived then I would certainly have been a maid or some other type of servant.  Although these two characters are by far the strongest the others have their own strengths and their own stories which are developed enough to give them depth and make them as realistic as everyone else.

The book has a good story, it’s one that could easily happen now nevermind in 1813 so it’s easy to understand why feelings run so high in Quill Court and why the characters behave the way they do.  I think this is partly why the book is so good, you don’t spend time reading it and finding it hard to follow or disbelieving of everything that happens.  In fact, I spent a fair amount of time reading it and completely missing what anyone else was saying to me because I was so caught up in what was happening.  There is a big scene near the end that I found a little confusing because so much was happening at the same time but other than that this book is easy to follow and certainly a good choice for a first foray into historical fiction.

Many thanks to Clara Diaz at  Little Brown, UK for letting me having a copy of this book, and to the author for writing such an intriguing story.  This is my honest review.

 

BettsCharlotte

 

Charlotte Betts began her working life as a fashion designer in London. A career followed in interior design, property management and lettings. Always a bookworm, Charlotte discovered her passion for writing after her three children and two step-children grew up.

Her debut novel, The Apothecary’s Daughter, won the YouWriteOn Book of the Year Award in 2010 and the Joan Hessayon Award for New Writers, was shortlisted for the Best Historical Read at the Festival of Romance in 2011 and won the coveted Romantic Novelists’ Association’s Historical Romantic Novel RoNA award in 2013. Her second novel, The Painter’s Apprentice was also shortlisted for the Best Historical Read at the Festival of Romance in 2012 and the RoNA award in 2014. The Spice Merchant’s Wife won the Festival of Romance’s Best Historical Read award in 2013.

Charlotte lives with her husband in a cottage in the woods on the Hampshire/Berkshire border.

www.charlottebetts.com | @CharlotteBetts1

For further information please contact Clara Diaz on 020 3122 6565 | Clara.Diaz@littlebrown.co.uk

poster-page-001 (6)

 

Blog Tour Review: The Irish Inheritance by M J Lee.

Tour banner M J LEE I I for JENNY

Blurb: June 8, 1921. Ireland.
A British Officer is shot dead on a remote hillside south of Dublin.

November 22, 2015. United Kingdom.
Former police detective, Jayne Sinclair, now working as a genealogical investigator, receives a phone call from an adopted American billionaire asking her to discover the identity of his real father.

How are the two events linked?

Jayne Sinclair has only three clues to help her: a photocopied birth certificate, a stolen book and an old photograph. And it soon becomes apparent somebody else is on the trail of the mystery. A killer who will stop at nothing to prevent Jayne discovering the secret hidden in the past. 

The Irish Inheritance takes us through the Easter Rising of 1916 and the Irish War of Independence, combining a search for the truth of the past with all the tension of a modern-day thriller.

It is the first in a series of novels featuring Jayne Sinclair, genealogical detective.

Links

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/30237191-the-irish-inheritance?ac=1&from_search=true

Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B01FR5PP9S/ref=x_gr_w_bb?ie=UTF8&tag=x_gr_w_bb_uk-21&linkCode=as2&camp=1634&creative=6738

The Irish Inheritance Cover LARGE EBOOK

My Rating: 5/5

Review:  Anyone who has been following me for a few months will know that I already love and cannot wait for the next in the Danilov series by this author, or what I refer to at home as the Shanghai books, so when I was asked if I wanted to be involved in this blog tour it didn’t take long for me to make my decision.

As with the Danilov books the stand out feature of this story is Lee’s ability to draw the reader in fast and create vivid imagery  and characters through his writing.  The story moves between  different time periods though the main ones are November 2015 and the time from just before the 1916 Easter Rising to approx. 1930.  Before I read this book I knew a little about the Easter Rising, partly because of this being the 100 year anniversary as was mentioned on the television a few months ago.  However, a mention on the news doesn’t convey what it was like to actually be there, to be involved in the revolution, the noise, smells and sounds that anyone in Dublin at that time would have experienced.  For me, this book did exactly that.  I took the book with me when I went away for a weekend break and was reading it outside one evening as the darkness of night closed in around me.  During this time I was reading of one of the characters experiences of Dublin under shell and gunfire, the open hostility they experienced from people who thought they should be fighting in France and the realities of being in a battle when you have no previous experience of one.  I was sitting in a garden bordering woodland which is well populated with birds, deer and other animals so there were frequent rustling noises and every time I heard one I looked up, jumpy and anxious because of the book.  The writing was so good at recreating Dublin’s sights, sounds and smells and the feelings of the character that I felt like I was there and  the noises from the woodland startled me out of that and reminded me where I really was.  It got so bad that I ended up having to go back inside because I needed to take a break from the intensity of the writing and the events I was reading about.

As I’ve said I started reading this and continued while it got dark.  My second reading session was outside during daylight hours (when you have good weather you take advantage of it!)  and again the writing drew me in.  As well as the events in 1916 and later, there were the events in 2015 that were grabbing my attention.  As I read the world around me disappeared and I was sucked into Jayne Sinclair’s life and work.  I got annoyed at things I felt she should do but wasn’t, got excited or emotional when things worked out and almost reached out to touch someone when she did even though they weren’t there.  At times I felt like I was walking beside her, following her every move and at other times I felt like I was her, experiencing everything she experienced both good and bad.

Although I’ve gone on about the feelings and descriptions I’ve barely mentioned the characters but those are as brilliantly written as the rest of the book. Every character has depth, even with the minor ones their frustration, sadness or pride is clearly conveyed and this is why this book and Lee’s Danilov books are so good. They are written in such a way that everything is real and you, the reader, are transported instantly from a wet and soggy Manchester to to Dublin 1916 where you can hear bullets whistling past your ears.

I realise this review is probably a little long but, to me, the book deserves it.  There are few authors that I have read who write so well that I am transported and can hear, feel and smell everything associated with the location I’m reading. Unsurprisingly MJ Lee is one of them and that is what makes this book so good. From this book you get the sort of reading experience that other authors can only dream of being able to provide, the writing picks you up and takes you away somewhere else.

This is true escapism, time travel from your own sofa, and it is a rare thing indeed. If you like historical fiction, genealogy or have read the Danilov novels then I would highly recommend this book. If this is not your usual genre then I would give it a go, you never know, you might love it. So, get the kettle on, find a comfy quiet spot to read and prepare to be whisked away into the past, its an experience not to be missed!

Many thanks to the author and Neverland Blog Tours for letting me have a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Author bio: Martin has spent most of his adult life writing in one form or another. As a University researcher in history, he wrote pages of notes on reams of obscure topics. As a social worker with Vietnamese refugees, he wrote memoranda. And, as the creative director of an advertising agency, he has written print and press ads, tv commercials, short films and innumerable backs of cornflake packets and hotel websites.
He has spent 25 years of his life working outside the North of England. In London, Hong Kong, Taipei, Singapore, Bangkok and Shanghai, winning awards from Cannes, One Show, D&AD, New York and London Festivals, and the United Nations.
Whilst working in Shanghai, he loved walking through the old quarter of that amazing city, developing the idea behind a series of crime novels featuring Inspector Pyotr Danilov, set in 1920s and 30s.
When he’s not writing, he splits his time between the UK and Asia, taking pleasure in playing with his daughter, practicing downhill ironing, single-handedly solving the problem of the French wine lake and wishing he were George Clooney.

 

Author links:

 

Twitter: www.twitter.com/WriterMJLee

Website: www.writermjlee.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

Update and looking to the future.

So…….apart from the posts I’ve done this week the blog has been pretty quiet for a bit but I have a good reason for this.  If any of you remember as far back as my post from December 2015 you may remember I mentioned that in 2014 I finished my psychology degree well……..next month, 5th September to be precise!, I’m back at university to start a full-time MSc which I will finish (all being well) in June 2018.  I’m absolutely over the moon to be doing this course, the past few weeks have been filled with sorting out funding and a whole host of other things so between doing that and generally being overwhelmed with the prospect of postgraduate study my head has been so full of that, that blogging has had to take a temporary back seat.  However, I have been reading so all is not lost, there will be more reviews soon once I’ve had a chance to type them up.

monster-lernen-das-erschrecken-auf-der-monster-uni-

I don’t yet have a timetable for my course but I know it is going to be the equivalent of a full-time job with placements built in so I will be extremely busy but I intend to keep reviewing and blogging though how frequently I will be able to do that remains to be seen.  I have signed up for a few blog tours but these have all been done with my new commitments in mind so I’ve been very careful not to overload myself and barring any unexpected problems like a powercut or illness all of these commitments will be met.

I’m also going to be making some changes to the way I deal with twitter, new followers and emails, probably the last two will be dealt with once a week so I’m not swamped and twitter will be checked/used on an ‘as and when’ basis until I get into the swing of things.

So, university excitement aside over the next  few weeks I have a few blog tours I’m on (dates below) and am also hoping to volunteer at Bloody Scotland again in September, fingers crossed for that.  Apart from that I’m getting organised for next month and spending as much time reading and watching TV/DVD’s etc as possible while I still can.  I know everyone will be patient and understanding while I adjust to this new stage in my life and I really appreciate that so thank you!!

Current Blog Tour dates for August and September

19th August –  The Irish Inheritance by MJ Lee.

5th September -Tempting Isabel by Rissa Brahm

14th September – The Girls in the Woods by Helen Phifer

25th September – Lost in Static by Christina Philippou

 

(Picture from Monsters University by Disney Pixar)

 

 

Guest post by Daisy James, author of When Only Cupcakes Will Do.

Having taken part in the cover reveal for this book and then met the lovely Daisy at the Edinburgh Authors and Bloggers get-together in June I was thrilled to have the opportunity to host her on my blog.  Due to my own personal circumstances this post is a little later than planned but well worth a look despite this. Enjoy!

 

image001

Blog post

“When life gives you lemons, make lemon drizzle cake!”

I’m an avid baker. One of the best parts of researching my brand new novel – When Only
Cupcakes Will Do – was experimenting with new recipes and exotic ingredients. A rainy
afternoon spent in the kitchen, elbows deep in flour and sugar, brings back many happy
childhood memories of doing exactly the same thing with my grandma during the school
holidays. My sister and I would stand on a little wooden stool mixing, stirring and beating –
and then came the best bit – being allowed to lick the bowl. Are we even allowed to do that nowadays?

Whenever I indulge in a baking session in my own kitchen now, the fragrance of warm
caramel and melted chocolate sends my thoughts zooming back to those carefree times of
butterfly buns and jam tarts made from left-over pastry from my grandma’s apple pies that
she made with fruit from the garden.

For When Only Cupcakes Will Do I tested out a more contemporary selection of cupcakes
such as coconut flavoured sponge with chunks of dried pineapple topped with rum-infused
buttercream, raspberry cakes with prosecco icing and edible petals and blackcurrant
sponges with vodka-tinged toppings. I also experimented with a twist on the carrot cake
recipe and made beetroot cupcakes with cream cheese frosting – a sort of red velvet
version. I wasn’t sure about those, but they still disappeared within minutes of coming out
of the oven. There’s never a shortage of willing samplers in my house!

As the main character, Lucie Bradshaw, is an Italian pastry chef by profession I also had to
create a number of Italian desserts, so I called in the experts – my friends Gino and Kate. My favourite was Cannoli – a thin, crispy shell made by wrapping the biscuit around a broom
handle – crammed to bursting with sweetened ricotta cheese which can be flavoured with
whatever takes your fancy. I added fresh cherries and white chocolate chips to mine.

If I haven’t already whet your appetite here’s a lemon drizzle cake that’s just come out of the oven.

Fancy a slice?

20160725_145036

Blurb

The delightfully heartwarming romantic comedy from Daisy

When life gives you lemons, make lemon-drizzle cupcakes…

Lucie thought that proposing to her boyfriend in Tiffany’s would be the best day of her life. Until he said no. In just a few seconds, her whole world is turned upside-down! And when she
accidentally switches cocoa powder for chilli powder at work, she finds herself out of a job, too…

Baking has always made life better in the past, but can Lucie really bake her way to happiness?
Starting her own company, selling cupcakes out of an old ice cream van might just be the second chance that Lucie needs!

Of course, she never expected to find love along the way…

Links

Amazon: amzn.to/22Cd9hN

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/daisyjamesbooks/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/daisyjamesbooks

Many thanks to Daisy for lovely, mouth-watering post.  When Only Cupcakes Will Do is out now as an ebook and can be purchased here.

REVIEW: The Sunflower Cottage Breakfast Club by Lynsey James

Tour banner sunflower cottage JENNY

 

Blurb:  The perfect summer romance for a sunny afternoon and a picnic in the park.

Emily Reed is having a bad day. Devastated at losing her hard-earned promotion to the ditz who’s sleeping with the boss, her mother drops a devastating bombshell—the dad she’s known and loved for twenty-five years isn’t her biological father.

Now Emily needs answers and a month in Luna Bay should give her the time she needs to find her father, and land the difficult client at the Sunflower Cottage B&B which should put her back in the running for her coveted promotion.

Setting up the Sunflower Cottage breakfast club should be a great way to meet the locals and maybe even find out who her father is! The only problem is that brooding and insanely gorgeous, Noah, is determined to make Emily’s stay perfectly uncomfortable.

Finding out the truth was never going to be simple, but she never thought her heart would get in the way…

Links:

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/29744756-the-sunflower-cottage-breakfast-club?ac=1&from_search=true

Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Sunflower-Cottage-Breakfast-Club-Luna-ebook/dp/B01BW633T0?ie=UTF8&camp=1634&creative=6738&linkCode=as2&redirect=true&ref_=x_gr_w_bb&tag=x_gr_w_bb_uk-21

 

cover for scbc-1

My Rating: 3.5/5

Review:  As the blurb says, Emily has had a bad day.  As if missing out on a promotion wasn’t  enough she finds out that evening that the man who raised her is not her biological father.  After this shocking revelation she decides to head off to Luna Bay in Yorkshire where her biological father lives to meet him and see what she’s missed out on all these years.  What she doesn’t bargain for is for her boss to make it a working holiday, or for her to get tangled up in the workings of the very business she is there to buy and to end up falling for the village and its inhabitants.  At the end of it all what will she choose, her old life in Glasgow or a new life in Luna Bay……..

This was a light, easy read that I read over a couple of days.  It’s ideal for a bit of summer escapism as Luna Bay comes across as a bright and breezy, friendly place.  This is the first book of Lynsey James that I have read and overall I enjoyed it, the characters were well-written and the village, Sunflower Cottage and the other businesses there were well described.  What let it down, for me, was the characters of Emily and Noah, I didn’t particularly like either of them. Noah was limp and judgemental and Emily was honestly quite boring to start with, for someone of 25 she acted more like someone far older.  Emily did grow on me a little once she loosened up but even then I still found her immature and too willing to do what she thought she should rather than what she wanted to do.  Emily’s mother also irritated me but the other characters were lovely, especially Rose who probably deserves a book all to herself.  In fact that would be an excellent idea, the story of Rose and Sunflower Cottage and some of the guests who’ve stayed there, that I would love to read.

Back to the actual book though, it was a lovely story even though it didn’t quite capture me as much as I had hoped it would and ended a bit more abruptly than I expected.  The setting was clearly gorgeous and I could easily imagine myself staying there for a long weekend, it sounded like the sort of place you could go and never leave.  If you want a light, breezy read, especially one that will distract you from our appalling weather, then this may well be the book for you.  Ideal with something chilled or a nice fruity ice cream, it’s the perfect summer combination.

Many thanks to the author and Neverland Blog Tours for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

 

13627588

 

About Lynsey James

Lynsey James was born in Fife in 1991 and has been telling people how to spell her name ever since. She’s an incurable bookworm who loves nothing more than getting lost in a good story with memorable characters. She started writing when she was really young and credits her lovely Grandad- and possibly a bump on the head from a Mr Frosty machine- with her love of telling stories. She used to write her own episodes of Friends and act them out in front of her family (in fact she’s sure she put Ross and Rachel together first!)

A careers adviser at school once told Lynsey writing wasn’t a “good option” and for a few years, she believed her. She tried a little bit of everything, including make-up artistry, teaching and doing admin for a chocolate fountain company. The free chocolate was brilliant. When Lynsey left my job a couple of years ago, she started writing full-time while she looked for another one. As soon as she started working on her story, Lynsey fell in love and decided to finally pursue her dream. She haven’t looked back since.

When Lynsey’s not writing, eating cake or drinking tea, she’s daydreaming about the day Dylan O’Brien FINALLY realises they’re meant to be together. It’ll happen one day…

Links

Twitter: www.twitter.com/Lynsey1991

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/lynseyjamesauthor/?fref=ts

Blog: www.lynseyjames.wordpress.com