A Proposal to Die For by Vivian Conroy – Review.


About the Book

A murderous beginning
With her father away in India, Lady Alkmene Callender finds being left to her own devices in London intolerably dull, until the glamorous Broadway star Evelyn Steinbeck arrives in town! Gossip abounds about the New York socialite, but when Ms Steinbeck’s wealthy uncle, Silas Norwhich, is found dead Lady Alkmene finds her interest is piqued. Because this death sounds a lot to her like murder…
Desperate to uncover the truth, Lady Alkmene begins to look into Ms Steinbeck’s past – only to be hampered by the arrival of journalist, Jake Dubois – who believes she is merely an amateur lady-detective meddling in matters she knows nothing about!
But Lady Alkmene refuses to be deterred from the case and together they dig deeper, only to discover that some secrets should never come to light…
The twenties have never been so dangerous.

My Review

I don’t read much ‘cosy crime’, it’s usually when I need a break from the usual modern-day crime fiction books that tend to be more grim and which sometimes can be difficult to read. So, when I chose to read this book in preparation for book 4 which I will be reviewing in a few weeks time it was perfect timing.
It is the first book in the Alkmene Callender series and I enjoyed it a lot. I wish I had read it sooner, then I would have time to read book two and three, I feel that this is a series that I would really get into.
It is very sedate, Alkmene has too much time on her hands and decides to play private detective after overhearing a conversation at a party and then reading about a death in the paper. One of the people she heard talking stood to gain from the person’s death. She is helped in her investigation by Jake Dubois, a journalist and  possible ex-convict who would love to get a story into his paper.
It is only a short novel but packs a lot in. There is the crime to solve but it also shows the difference between social classes. Alkmene is upset by things that she sees and when she tries to help, struggles to accept that she might have made the situation worse. Jake has obviously had problems in his past and I wonder if more will be revealed further on in the series.
I liked both characters, Alkmene was like a young Miss Marple with Jake in the background to keep her safe and also make her aware that her world is different to most other people.
With thanks to Vivian Conroy for the initial contact and to the publisher for the copy received via netgalley.

The Unquiet Dead by Ausma Zehanat Khan – Review.


About the Book

One man is dead.
But thousands were his victims.
Can a single murder avenge that of many?
Scarborough Bluffs, Toronto: the body of Christopher Drayton is found at the foot of the cliffs. Muslim Detective Esa Khattak, head of the Community Policing Unit, and his partner Rachel Getty are called in to investigate. As the secrets of Drayton’s role in the 1995 Srebrenica genocide of Bosnian Muslims surface, the harrowing significance of his death makes it difficult to remain objective. In a community haunted by the atrocities of war, anyone could be a suspect. And when the victim is a man with so many deaths to his name, could it be that justice has at long last been served?
In this important debut novel, Ausma Zehanat Khan has written a compelling and provocative mystery exploring the complexities of identity, loss, and redemption.

My Review

Up until a few years ago I had never read any books like this. By that I mean the books that are crime fiction but also break your heart. The majority of the books that I had read regarding the atrocities of war  were committed during WW2. The Unquiet Dead which is based around  events that occurred in 1995, 50 years later, show that nothing had changed. Men, women and children losing their lives due to ethnic cleansing. I remember the events that happened in the former Yugoslavia. I had seen reports on the news regarding the war crimes trials. But none of those reports or most of the earlier reviews I had read about this novel prepared me for how devastating I would find parts of it. Mainly anything that was written in italics was distressing, especially if you did, like I did, which was to read the explanation at the back.
Whilst these parts were important to the novel they didn’t impact on the storyline concerning why Christopher Drayton fell to his death. Nobody appeared to know his true identity, everybody who was connected to him thought his death was an accident but the detectives weren’t convinced. They had a dilemma though, if it was retribution should the culprit suffer more by going to prison.
Both of the detectives had troubled personal lives, some of which isn’t revealed. There was mention of a previous case, which made me think I had missed a book, but this is labeled as book one. Esa, especially is an enigma. his character is very complex and at times I did struggle to connect to him. Rachel, though, I liked immediately.  Another character I really liked was Hadley. Her relationship with the repulsive ‘Mad Mel’ and her devotion to her father and sister was wonderful to read.
It was a book that I needed to read in complete silence. I needed to soak up every word and feel every emotion, whether it be anger, guilt or sadness. Parts are devastating to read but there was also humour from Hadley and loyalty from Nate and Audrey.
A different novel for me but one that I am glad I read and I am eagerly looking forward to reading the second book in the series soon.

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received.

The Blackbird Season by Kate Moretti – Blog Tour Review.


Blackbird Season_cvr

About the Book

In a quiet town, a thousand dead starlings fall onto a school playing field. As journalists flock to the scene, one of them catches a teacher, Nate Winters, embracing a female student. The student claims that she and Nate are having an affair, sending shock waves through the close-knit community. Then the student disappears, and the police have only one suspect: Nate.
Nate’s wife, Alecia, is left wondering if she ever really knew her seemingly loving husband. Nate’s co-worker, Bridget, is determined to prove his innocence and find the missing student. But both women will have to ask themselves do they really know what Nate is capable of?

My Review

The last time I received a book by Kate Moretti ( The Vanishing Year) it came with a lily in a gift box. The Blackbird Season arrived with a handful of black feathers.
I love watching birds and I can’t even begin to imagine a scene where 1000 birds are dead on a school playing field. When the press descend on the area they witness something that manages to take their focus away from what they were meant to be investigating. A teacher and student embracing. When the student then disappears Nate is in danger of losing his family, career and his good name.
When I first started to read the novel I disliked one of the characters, Alecia, immediately. She was Nate’s wife and I should have had sympathy for her but I found her cold and unapproachable. By the time I had finished it, the only character I liked was Bridget. She was the only one who showed any compassion to the student Lucia. It takes place in a town that has nothing left to offer. The mill, which was the main employer had closed and it was no longer a close-knit community. All of the students who were in Lucia’s group were desperate to escape and live their life elsewhere.
I couldn’t work Nate out, was he an innocent Mr Nice Guy who the students could turn to for support or was he somebody who had an unhealthy obsession with his students. My inclination was to go with the latter, if only because of his social media habits.
Bridget, however, grieving the loss of her husband wants to know the truth but knows she needs to maintain her integrity by keeping some distance. She understood a teenage mind a lot better than Nate did.
All of the teenagers were believable. They made me think of a pack of animals circling their prey, looking for a way to cause humiliation or harm. Even though Lucia didn’t make life easy for herself I did feel sorry for her. She did have an intimidating personality though.
I enjoyed reading the previous book The Vanishing Year and even though this book is different I think I prefered it. The author is skilled at creating characters that are difficult to like and in keeping her reader gripped. There were a few times that I thought  knew what happened and then something else would be revealed. Just a little at a time, to keep the reader guessing.
With thanks to the publisher for the copy received.

Blackbird Season_blog tour2

My Publication Day with Mel Sherratt


Today, it is my pleasure to welcome Mel Sherratt to my blog to talk about what publication day means to her. Mel has published books that are part of a series and also standalone novels. Her latest novel was published earlier this week and is available to buy here

My Publication Day.

How will you spend the day?

I’ll be on social media for most of it. I interact a lot with my readers so there are blog posts and my website to update, newsletters to send out, messages to reply to as people share my news and a four hour online party with giveaways. It’s great fun, if somewhat tiring.

Will you be following reviews from early readers or do you prefer not to know?

I read every review that comes in on Amazon. It’s great when readers like the book, but not so good if not. For instance, getting a one star review last year from a reviewer that had received an early review copy was like someone blowing candles out on your birthday cake. So it’s both an exciting and a nerve-wracking time. But equally I want to know if the book hit the right spot for my loyal readers. That’s very important to me.

Is it emotional, getting the novel you have worked on for months into the public

Yes, it’s a definite labour of love. And it’s also such an amazing feeling when someone mentions to you that they liked something in the book which made them feel an emotion that you wanted them to feel too.

If you have had books published before, does the feeling change?

No. She Did It is my fourteenth published novel and yet I still get the same sense of trepidation on launch day and beyond. I’m glad I get it though – I would never want to become complacent.

I often wonder and imagine that when your novel is published and you have been
working on at least one novel since, is the book that is published less important?
And is it a distraction, welcome or otherwise having to focus on what is for you
old material?

I’ve been working fast and furious getting books out for the past two years. So to a certain point it is like a job in the sense that as soon as one is finished, you are right on to the next one (or in my case, working on two at the same time.) Yes, you can forget what the one being published is about – I went for an interview with Audible books and was asked about book one in a series and as I had just finished book two, my mind went completely blank and had to talk about the series character instead.

Do blog tours make you more nervous or do you see them as beneficial?

I haven’t done a blog tour this time but as I know a lot of the bloggers, some of them have kindly offered to put their reviews on their blogs or asked me to do a guest post, or a Q&A like this one. I don’t get nervous about them. I see them as hugely beneficial. Their reach can be far and might peak the interest of someone who has never read any of my books before. There are a lot of passionate bloggers (something I have touched on in She Did It) who give up their time. I’m grateful to them all.

What is your publication day treat? Champagne, cream cake, 10km run?

If I ever have a full day to enjoy one, I’ll let you know! But I definitely have a glass of something chilled and a large slice of something gooey at the end of it.

Thanks very much, Mel, for taking the time to answer my questions. I have the book on my kindle and will read it very soon.

About the Book

A successful businesswoman, Tamara enjoys her champagne lifestyle to the full. At least, that is the front she displays to the world. As well as being lonely, she’s running out of money. A promising new member of staff brings the injection of fresh blood needed to win the contract that will turn things around.

Working for Tamara is a perfect ruse for Esther. But, along with fake references and qualifications, she also has a plan for revenge. Sensing Tamara’s vulnerability, Esther uses their acquaintance as a way of getting close to someone who hurt her in the past.

Tamara is keeping things secret. Esther has a dark side she is trying to hide. For both of them, lying is a habit. But when mistakes begin to catch up with Esther, and people start dying, Tamara realises she’s chosen the wrong person to trust as a friend.

The Coffin Path by Katherine Clements – Review.

About The Book

Maybe you’ve heard tales about Scarcross Hall, the house on the old coffin path that winds from village to moor top. They say there’s something up here, something evil.
Mercy Booth isn’t afraid. The moors and Scarcross are her home and lifeblood. But, beneath her certainty, small things are beginning to trouble her. Three ancient coins missing from her father’s study, the shadowy figure out by the gatepost, an unshakeable sense that someone is watching.
When a stranger appears seeking work, Mercy reluctantly takes him in. As their stories entwine, this man will change everything. She just can’t see it yet.

My Review

The Coffin Path is an eerie tale that takes place on the Yorkshire Moors in the 17th century. It’s a hard place to live, the bleakness, the years after the war and its in a remote area that is reliant on good weather to make a decent living. And there is a rumour that has never gone away of an evil presence on the moors and especially at Scarcross Hall, the home of Mercy and her father.
The novel has two narrators. Ellis, who has recently arrived in the area and Mercy. Ellis has a barely hinted at past and at first Mercy doesn’t trust him. But, when all her regular workers abandon her he is one of her only allies. There isn’t much of his narration that covers the sinister events, apart from what happens with the livestock.
Mercy is the character who is affected most by what is happening. She can see her father’s health deteriorate with what is occurring as well as changing behavior of Sam, a young boy who lives nearby. Most of her narration had me warily looking over my shoulder and tensing at every noise I heard. If I had a fire screen it would have been removed from the house, it was one of the creepiest parts of the novel, and it brought me out in goosebumps more than once.
As well as being a ghost story it was also a historical one. The English Civil War had an impact on the area and many of the characters in the novel were affected by it. Some of them were living in poverty and suspicious of those who had a different religion. Many of the locals weren’t likeable, but living in fear of losing everything and listening to tales of witchcraft and unexplained occurences must have made a difficult situation to live in. I imagine that this was an accurate description for the time.
I enjoy a ghost story, but I have found it difficult lately to find one that kept me on edge. The Coffin Path has made up for recent disappointments, it is one of the eeriest books that I have read for a few years. And with the addition of historical fiction in a period of time that had an impact locally.

The Coffin Path can be pre ordered here

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received.