Ace of Shades (The Shadow Game #1) by Amanda Foody

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Synopsis: Enne Salta was raised as a proper young lady, and no lady would willingly visit New Reynes, the so-called City of Sin. But when her mother goes missing, Enne must leave her finishing school—and her reputation—behind to follow her mother’s trail to the city where no one survives uncorrupted.
Frightened and alone, her only lead is a name: Levi Glaisyer. Unfortunately, Levi is not the gentleman she expected—he’s a street lord and a con man. Levi is also only one payment away from cleaning up a rapidly unraveling investment scam, so he doesn’t have time to investigate a woman leading a dangerous double life. Enne’s offer of compensation, however, could be the solution to all his problems.
Their search for clues leads them through glamorous casinos, illicit cabarets and into the clutches of a ruthless mafia donna. As Enne unearths an impossible secret about her past, Levi’s enemies catch up to them, ensnaring him in a vicious execution game where the players always lose. To save him, Enne will need to surrender herself to the city…

My review: I struggled to get into this one. Enne’s mother goes missing and she travels to the City of Sin to find her. For me the story was quite slow paced and I couldn’t quite get into any of the characters. It wasn’t a bad book by any means but I was left wanting a little bit more. 

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Bones and Bourbon by Dorian Graves

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Synopsis: Half-huldra Retz Gallows is having an awful day. First, he wakes up in the middle of driving to who-knows-where with an angry unicorn head in his passenger seat. This is almost normal, thanks to a lifetime of sharing a body with Nalem, a bone-controlling spirit with a penchant for wicked schemes and body-stealing joyrides. It’s probably a bad idea to ask what else could go wrong.
Jarrod Gallows left home with plans to rescue his little brother from possession. Instead, he got saddled with a dead-end job as a paranormal investigator, a Faerie curse, and a daredevil boyfriend who might be from another world. At least he’s got a new job—except why is his brother Retz here and why does this sudden reunion feel more like a bane than a blessing?

My review: The blurb really sold me on this book. To be honest I was intrigued just by the notion of an angry unicorn. There’s a lot going on in this book and for the most part it’s enjoyable. It’s got quite a unique plot. I would have liked a bit more backstory for some of the characters and there were a lot of unanswered questions by the end but overall I quite enjoyed this

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Death is Not Enough (Romantic Suspense #21) by Karen Rose

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Synopsis: Gwyn Weaver is as resilient as anyone could be. Having survived an attempted murder, she has rebuilt her life and reclaimed her dignity and strength. She’s always known about her feelings for defence attorney Thomas Thorne, but as her friend and a colleague there could be no chance of anything more… or could there?
Thorne has known violence and pain all his life. He’s overcome the hardships that have been thrown at him thanks to his own steel, and the love of his loyal friends. Now he’s thinking it might finally be time to let his guard down, and allow himself to let in the woman he’s always admired from afar.
Then Thorne’s whole world is torn apart — he is found unconscious in his own bed, the lifeless body of a stranger lying next to him, her blood on his hands. Knowing Thorne could never have committed such a terrible crime, Gwyn and his friends rally round to clear his name.#

My review: I’ve read a few of Karen’s books (although not all but I will at some point) and she doesn’t disappoint. Excellently describes characters full of personality. And there are a lot of them in this book! The cast of secondary characters could fill the lawyers court room and each one is for the most part instantly recognisable. I loved the plat and the book flows really well. I loved the way Tavilla tries to systematically pick apart Thorne’s life and drive him to despair. Rose is very inventive!

It’s difficult to explain one of the things I really liked without possibly sounding a bit insane but I loved the depravity of Tavilla’s wife and daughter-in-law. So many times you read a crime novel and the wife of the bad guy is downtrodden and abused. These two are just as sick as Tavilla himself. It’s equal rights for women but probably not in a way I’d want to condone! But I do like the fact they have such a major role and imaginations even if those imaginations are evil. Told you it was a bit of an insane opinion!

The good-guy females are equally strong. I’m UK based so I don’t really understand America’s obsession with guns but I did like the fact that these women were armed and ready to fight for their family. The mothers may have eventually gone off somewhere safe to protect their children but they all had the ability to kick some arse when needed and often did.

I couldn’t put this book down and can’t wait for the next one

Thank you to netgalley and Headline publishing for the ARC and the chance to take part in my first blog tour.

The Devil’s Wedding Ring by Vidar Sundstøl

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Synopsis: Finding an unlikely partner in Tirill Vesterli—a university librarian and single mother who is obsessed with crime novels—Max is plunged into a menacing world of ghostly monks, severed pigs’ heads, and mythic rites, all somehow connected to Midsummer Eve, which is fast approaching. As Max and Tirill quickly learn, it’s a misconception that the past is past—the truth is that it’s never over.

My review: There was an awful lot of blurb for this book which I’ve cut out of the above but you can find it on Goodreads.

I really enjoyed this skandi novel. Norwegian expat now living in Florida Max has a cosy PI business where he is so successful he pretty much just does the admin. Tirill is a librarian that reads a lot of crime books and is desperate for her own detective adventure. Together they start to look into the suspicious death of Max’s former colleague and several disappearances over the last 30 years.

There are a lot of twists and turns in here and a few red herrings. You never quite know who is going to be the bad guys, everyone comes off as suspicious. I loved that as sometimes it’s so easy to guess the whodunnit. It’s a crime book, it’s a history of pre-Christian religion. I found it fascinating.

I thought the ending was a bit rushed and could have been a bit longer but overall I loved this.

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The Hickory Stick (Barnaby Madden) by Ted Bocking

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Synopsis: In less than two years Barnaby Madden’s life changes from being an apprentice boat builder on the north Norfolk coast to becoming an experienced county police constable with tales to tell of love, hate, robbery and violence.
Barnaby encounters thieves, robbers, rapists, kidnappers, smugglers, tramps and toffs. He has run the gamut of emotions and experiences from total rejection as a policeman to the arms and beds of various women, and from assaults and beatings to near drowning.
Barnaby has been drunk, violent and passionate. He has been severely reprimanded and commended for his bravery. He has been the friend or enemy of the criminal fraternity of mid 19th century Norfolk whilst at the same time being a friend or enemy of the upper classes. Barnaby is a big handsome young man of 19 years who steps spectacularly into a world of which he knew nothing and dealing with people of whom he had never heard. He is attractive to women, and not always a reluctant lover!

My review: This is a fun book to read with Barnaby telling us the story of his life. It has a bit of an  awkward ending with the clear view that you need to pick up the next in the series. I don’t mind a vague ending in books, I don’t need happy endings but I don’t like it when a book is split like a serial. I’m one of those people who saves up a series on sky+/Tivo to watch all in one go as I hate waiting a week for the next episode. It’s worse with books.

It is a fun, fast paced book besides that point. It’s a fun book and a good summer read

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The Best Boomerville Hotel by Caroline James (Choc Lit)

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Synopsis: Jo Docherty and Hattie Contaldo have a vision – a holiday retreat in the heart of the Lake District exclusively for guests of ‘a certain age’ wishing to stimulate both mind and body with new creative experiences. One hotel refurbishment later and the Best Boomerville Hotel is open for business!
Perhaps not surprisingly Boomerville attracts more than its fair share of eccentric clientele: there’s fun-loving Sir Henry Mulberry and his brother Hugo; Lucinda Brown, an impoverished artist with more ego than talent; Andy Mack, a charming Porsche-driving James Bond lookalike, as well as Kate Simmons, a woman who made her fortune from an internet dating agency but still hasn’t found ‘the One’ herself.

My review: I’ve read a few romance novels recently where my complaint has been as an (almost) 46 year old woman I just can’t relate to the twenty-somethings in a lot of the stories. So thank heavens for The Best Boomerville Hotel. Baby boomers are approximately 50-69 years old so I’ve far more in common with them which really helped me relate to the characters in this book. 

I’ve done starting again, I’ve spent time going out of my comfort zone. The idea of a few weeks retreat in a hotel writing, painting and doing other activities sounds just perfect and I just found it so easy to immerse myself in this book and enjoy it. Finally a book written that suits my tastes almost exactly. 

The characters are so rich and easy to relate to. The book flows well and I really enjoyed it.

Thanks to Choc Lit for publishing another great read 🙂

Charity Ends at Home (A Flaxborough Mystery Book 5) by Colin Watson

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Synopsis:  This letter containing heartfelt and urgent pleas for help is received by three very eminent citizens of Flaxborough, including the Chief Constable himself. So when one of the town’s most tireless charity workers, Mrs Henrietta Palgrove, is found the wrong way up in her garden pond, a connection seems likely. Yet Detective Inspector Purbright finds the case does not quite add up and it takes the acute wits of his old friend, the ever-charming Miss Lucilla Teatime, as well as the more unwitting help of Mortimer Hive, indifferent private investigator and accomplished ladies’ man, to tease out the real murderer.

My review: I’m finally caught up on this delightful series. For the most part I’ve really enjoyed going back to a time without CSI and technology where the detective solves the crime purely on his wits. These really are an underrated series of books that I wish I had discovered years ago. 

The language as always witty and the books zooms along at pace, the characters are as always slightly bonkers. They’re just delightful. I believe there are more to come and I’m looking forward to reading them. 

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Lonelyheart 4122 (A Flaxborough Mystery Book 4) by Colin Watson

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Synopsis:  Flaxborough butcher Arthur Spain is worried that his sister-in-law hasn’t been in touch lately, so he pays her a visit. But Lil’s not at home, and by her porch door are a dozen bottles of curdling milk… Alarmed, he calls in the local police, D.I. Purbright and his ever-reliable Sergeant Sid Love. It transpires Lilian Bannister is the second middle-aged woman in the town to mysteriously vanish, and the link is traced to a local lonely hearts agency called Handclasp House. So when a vulnerable-seeming lady with the charming title of Lucy Teatime signs up for a romantic rendezvous, the two detectives try extra hard to look out for her. But Miss Teatime has a few surprises of her own up her dainty sleeve!

My review: Another great book about the Flaxborough detective. It has all the components we’ve come to expect now including crazy characters and a lovely warmth to the story in this case we have the introduction of the marriage bureau. A fun thing to look back on in this age of phone app dating. 

A pure joy.

Thank to netgalley for the free ARC

Dead Bad (Calladine & Bayliss #8) by Helen H. Durrant

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Synopsis: Detective Calladine and Bayliss face a vicious serial killer in a mystery with a shocking ending. A woman’s body is found in a disused church, a homemade stuffed toy by her side. The victim had been dumped there months ago. The crime has the hallmarks of twenty-year-old case whose alleged perpetrator is in prison.
Detective Ruth Bayliss must work out whether a serial killer has returned, or whether a new killer is just taunting the police. Her partner DI Tom Calladine faces the fight of his life to clear his name of corruption accusations. And then things go from bad to worse for Calladine . . .
With the team under massive pressure and drugs flooding the streets, another gruesomely presented body is found. In an ending with a huge twist, the detectives must unpick decades’ old lies before anyone else dies.

My review: I love this series. As with the others I read it really quickly and easily. It’s fairly short and so it only took me half a day. However it’s also one of those that you just don’t want to put down and need to see it to the end before you can do things like sleep.

There’s quite a lot going on. DI Calladine gets kidnapped and accused of corruption, someone is repeating crimes from 20 years ago and there’s a new deadly drug hitting the housing estate. It’s definitely a book packed with action. 

I liked how they tied this book in with the other series regarding DI Greco. It’s such a fast based book and there’s no padding. The action kicks on from the beginning and doesn’t let up until the end. 

This is one of my favourite series and the latest book doesn’t disappoint. 

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Eating Well Everyday by Peter Gordon

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Synopsis: Using easily sourced ingredients and simple methods, the Godfather of fusion cooking Peter Gordon has created over 170 dishes that demonstrate his passion for innovative flavours and textures in an everyday setting.

My review: I seem to be going through a cook book reading phase and this is another excellent one to wish for the hardback to add to my collection. The recipes are easy to follow and are illustrated beautifully.

It’s not a quick and easy cookbook. There’s a lot of prep and cooking time so for me I think, more of a weekend treat of cooking rather than an everyday one but I will definitely be trying a few of these.

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