Inspector Hobbes and the Bones – Wilkie Martin 4* Review

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‘I was grateful for having been born human’

There’s going to be trouble. Andy Caplet’s wife goes away, someone is out to get him, and he loses nearly everything in a storm. Amazing both himself and his unhuman friend Inspector Hobbes, he heroically rescues flood victims and uncovers something shocking.

Is Andy being set up for blackmail by the apparently charming young woman who attempts to seduce him, or is something even more sinister afoot? Hobbes certainly believes so, and he’s getting worried.

This is the fourth in Wilkie Martin’s unhuman series of standalone cozy comedy crime fantasies.

Suitable for teenage and upwards. Set in the English Cotswolds and featuring the unhuman British detective Inspector Hobbes as told by the chaotic reporter Andy Caplet. It is not necessary to have read the previous books in the series

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Click on the book cover below for an excerpt from the book.

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My Thoughts…

A lovely mix of cozy mystery and fantasy set in a quirky Cotswold town. This was my first Inspector Hobbes novel and it’s been on my reading list for almost a year now. After reading it, I’m anxious to read the other mysteries.

Designed to be read as a standalone, you get all the backstory you need to enjoy both the characters and the mystery. Inspector Hobbes is an enigmatic, witty character but I’m still not sure what he is? It certainly didn’t spoil my enjoyment of the story, just made visualising him difficult.

Andy, our narrator attracts misfortune and this makes him both a vulnerable and comic character. He did exasperate me at times but he is a good person and makes a perfect ‘sidekick’ for the inspector.

The setting is vividly described and the plot easy to follow, allowing the reader to concentrate on the enthralling characters. There is a noticeable preoccupation with food, so make sure you have some snacks handy when reading this.

An addictive, humorous read.

I received a copy of this book from The Witcherley Book Company via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

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Christmas Read: Joe and Clara’s Christmas Countdown – Katey Lovell – 4 * Review

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As Christmas approaches Joe Smith knows he should be celebrating with friends and family, making the most of the season. But for Joe, Christmas only holds painful memories. Ones he can feel crushing his heart, a reminder of a time he can never forget.
Clara O’Connell loves Christmas. For her, it is the most magical time of the year. And she’s determined to make Joe love it too! She knows he’s hurting, but maybe she can help to ease his pain. Her plan: One special gift every day to remind Joe just how loved he is.
But the clock is ticking. Will the Christmas magic wear off at midnight or will Clara’s Christmas countdown be the perfect gift to heal Joe’s, broken heart? And in doing so, maybe she will get a gift in return…Joe’s love for Christmas and forever…?

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My Thoughts…

Perfect, if you like your festive reads with a touch of realism. Christmastime is supposed to be fun but what if life gets in the way and makes it a time to endure rather than enjoy?
Joe lost someone he loved at Christmas time and now he just goes through the motions until the festive season is over. Clara is unlucky in love but having Christmas to look forward to helps her keep going. When she and Joe are thrown together helping Manchester’s youth and trying to keep their youth centre viable Clara can’t resist trying to restore the magic of Christmas for Joe by giving him a personalised advent calendar of special events. Joe sets out to make Clara see not all men are deceitful and a lovely, gentle Christmas story unfolds, which demonstrates the real meaning of Christmas.
I received a copy of this book from Harper Impulse via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

A Gentleman in Moscow – Amor Towles – 4*Review

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My Review -1

I’ve had this book on my to-read pile for over a year. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to read it but I wanted to savour it and until now, I never had the time. 

This story is full of historical detail and the pacing is quite slow, very much in the style of Russian literature. It is a very engaging tale full of beautiful imagery and vivid characters who come to life as you read. 

The history of Russia after the 1917 revolution is well documented. In this story, the main events are highlighted but it’s more about how the political and cultural change affected particular individuals who would probably have never known each other so well in imperialist Russia.

It is an enjoyable read, well written but you definitely need time to appreciate it.

I received a copy of this book from Random House UK, Cornerstone via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

Missing Presumed – D.S. Manon #1 – Susie Steiner – 4 *Review

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Mystery Thriller Blurb

Mid-December, and Cambridgeshire is blanketed with snow. Detective Sergeant Manon Bradshaw tries to sleep after yet another soul-destroying Internet date – the low murmuring of her police radio her only solace.

Over the airwaves come reports of a missing woman – door ajar, keys and phone left behind, a spatter of blood on the kitchen floor. Manon knows the first 72 hours are critical: you find her, or you look for a body. And as soon as she sees a picture of Edith Hind, a Cambridge post-graduate from a well-connected family, she knows this case will be big.

Is Edith alive or dead? Was her ‘complex love life’ at the heart of her disappearance, as a senior officer tells the increasingly hungry press? And when a body is found, is it the end or only the beginning?

Mystery Thriller Buy Links

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Mystery Thriller My Review

A good crime mystery is defined by its detective. Manon Bradshaw is a complex, compelling creature who ensures you keep turning the pages even when the plot is a little pedestrian in parts.

I liked the carefully layered plot, which gradually gives the reader more pieces in the jigsaw, only to add tragic events and new characters which complicate rather than inform. It would have been so easy to write a sensationalised ending but ‘Missing, Presumed’, stays true to its credible roots and is believable. The story’s women’s fiction element is strong and makes it worth reading.The suspense is well written but this is more about familial relationships and friendships than criminals.

I received a copy of this book from Harper Collins via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

Christmas Read: Millie Vanilla’s CupCake Cafe – Christmas Weddings – Georgia Hill 4* Review

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Winter wedding bells are ringing at the Cupcake Café!

It’s winter in Berecombe and Millie’s café is up for sale. Her final task as its owner is to host her friends’ Christmas wedding on the beach, only she’s feeling anything but festive! Putting her ex, Jed, firmly out of her mind is proving impossible now he’s back working for her biggest rival.

What on earth is Jed up to? Telling her he still loves her is all very well, but if her café goes out of business, no-one will buy it. Christmas might be the season of goodwill towards men – but can Millie trust this particular man with her heart again?

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My Thoughts…

I ‘ve enjoyed reading the first two books in this series, so I’m pleased the final book has a festive flavour. Like all of these Cupcake Cafe books, they can be read as standalone but I recommend reading the whole series, which is a lovely quick read, to appreciate the character development and the overall plot.

Millie returns from her travels abroad, hoping to complete the sale of her cafe.  part of her wants to see Jed but she sent him away so there is no chance of that?

Another romance dominates this story apart from the loved-up couple who Millie is arranging the wedding for at the cafe. Ri and Alex are an unlikely couple but their’s proves to be an engaging story, with a mystical slant that I always enjoy.

This is a  gentle, romantic story, which incorporates the festive element beautifully. The ending is charming and full of vivid imagery, which makes it easy to imagine being one of the wedding guests. Thankfully everyone has a happy ending. What more could you ask for in a festive read?

I received a copy of this book from Harper Impulse via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

 

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Read my reviews of the first two books in the series

Spring Beginnings

Summer Loves

 

 

Christmas Read: Blog Tour – Extract The Cosy Christmas Chocolate Shop – Caroline Roberts – 5* Review

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Emma is the proud owner of The Chocolate Shop by the Sea, nestled in the heart of the cosy seaside village that’s become her home. With Christmas right around the corner, she and her assistant Holly are busy cooking up the locals’ festive favourites.

From cinnamon hot chocolates to reindeer lollipops, Christmas wouldn’t taste the same without a little cocoa magic. And for Emma, it’s the perfect distraction from her romantic pains of the past. So when the shop’s miserly landlord threatens to hike up the rent, Emma’s Christmas and New Year suddenly look a lot less cheerful.

With the whole village rallying behind her – and loyal spaniel Alfie by her side – Emma’s determined to hold onto her chocolate-box dream.

The chocolate calendar countdown is on. Can Emma rescue her business and her broken heart? 

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Blog tour banner - Cosy Christmas Chocolate Shop

 

Extract from Chapter 1 – The Cosy Christmas Chocolate Shop – Caroline Roberts

Silver baubles, dangly stars, fairy lights and chocolates, hundreds of chocolates, filled the shop.

‘Hi, how can I help?’

‘I’ve been put in charge of the sweets for the children’s Christmas stockings – any ideas?’ The thirty­something gentleman smiled hopefully.

‘Of course. We have reindeers, Santas, and angels in chocolate lollipops – great stocking fillers. There are figures of Father Christmas, too. Also, we have snowy stars in a pretty bag – little girls love those, I can vouch for my nieces – and packs of chocolate­ dipped fudge.’

‘Well, there’s three kids to cater for, two boys and a girl, so can I have a selection? Oh, and I’d better get a nice box of chocolates for the wife.’

Emma pointed to the three sizes of gold boxes, positioned on the top of the truffle and ganache refrigerated display. ‘Large, medium or small?’

With a queue listening in behind him, and thoughts of fulfilling Christmas wishes on his mind, he went for the large.

‘Any particular favourites for your wife?’

‘Umm, she likes champagne truffles and caramels, I think, but a variety would be good.’

‘Great, I’ll pop a couple of champagne truffles in, and some caramels, with a lovely selection alongside that. Just give me a few moments and I’ll get them all ready for you.’ Emma set to work with boxes, bows and silver and gold ribbon, turning the gifts into works of art.

‘Wow, that all looks great. Thank you. So, how much do I owe you?’

Emma tallied it up on the till. ‘A total of fifteen pounds thirty, please.’ She popped one of her Chocolate Shop by the Sea business cards into the package.

‘Thanks.’

‘You’re welcome, and have a really lovely Christmas,’ Emma smiled.

Four o’clock, Christmas Eve afternoon, the till was pinging, the shop door chiming, and still the queue of last­minute shoppers continued to grow. Emma, proud owner of this gorgeous little chocolate shop in the harbour village of Warkton­by­the­Sea, Northumberland, and her assistant, Holly, were buzzing about like Christmas elves. In fact, they looked very like elves, dressed as they were in their festive jumpers, Holly with a Christmas pudding across her chest and Emma a red­nosed reindeer. Emma was also sporting dangly red­bauble earrings. She wished she had put some lighter clothing on now, though, something like a T­shirt: it was bloody warm dashing around, the two of them cramped in the serving space behind the counter, dressed in winter woollens.

Holly was serving an elderly chap from the village. ‘Hello, Stan. How’s Hilda?’ Emma asked him.

‘Not too bad thanks, Emma. Getting over the cough she had last week. But I thought it best she stayed home today. I’ve just been getting a few last­minute groceries in – we were low on milk and teabags – and then I thought it might be nice to cheer her up with some of those lovely coffee creams you do.’

‘Sounds a good idea. I’m sure she’ll appreciate it.’

Holly passed him over a prettily tied cellophane bag with his chocolates in. ‘There you go, Stan. I popped an extra one in for luck.’

Emma gave her assistant a mock­shocked look and then smiled.

‘Well, take care then, lassies, have a good Christmas.’ ‘You too, Stan – and give my best wishes to Hilda.

Happy Christmas!’

Emma had a chance for a breather for a few seconds as Holly began to serve the last customer waiting. Her feet were throbbing, despite being in her comfiest trainers, and her fingers were aching from all the delicate tying of ribbons and making up of boxes and gift bags

– as well as having been up from 6.00 a.m. making more batches of truffles and chocolate lollipops to see them through. She gazed past the window display of baubles and dangling snowflakes that reflected the twinkle of the fairy lights in the shop, and out to the street. It was dark already out there, these short December days, but from the glow of the street lights she could tell it was still dry and a touch of frost was glinting on the pavements. She might get a chance to take Alfie, her springer spaniel and best friend, out for a quick walk down to the harbour once they’d closed. He’d been cooped up upstairs all afternoon with them being so busy.

A figure dashed past the window and came in, clanging the door. It was Danny who worked as the bar supervisor in The Fisherman’s Arms, the pub down the road.

‘Afternoon, ladies. I need a box of chocolates for my girlfriend. Something fancy­looking.’

‘Hi, Danny,’ Emma greeted him.

‘Which one’s this, then?’ Holly chipped in cheekily. To be fair, he’d had about six different girlfriends in the past six months.

‘The lovely Helen – and less of your cheek, young lady,’ he quipped back.

‘Large box then, Danny? I’ll giftwrap it for you, shall I?’ Em didn’t bother asking which flavours she liked as he probably didn’t know her that well yet.

‘Perfect. How’s tricks, Holly?’

‘Been busy, hasn’t it, Em? Just a little lull for now.’ With that, a family came in, seemingly a dad and his two kids, who started to browse the shelves. ‘Oh, and there we go again,’ Holly added.

‘Yeah, I think we’ll be having a busy night down at the Fisherman’s too. Christmas Eve usually gets cracking. You coming down, girls?’

‘No, quiet night in for me,’ said Emma. She couldn’t imagine being in a big noisy crowd, not tonight.

‘What about you, Hols?’

‘Nah, my mum and dad want me home tonight. Family day tomorrow and all that.’

‘Ah well, see you around then. Maybe over New Year.’ He paid, taking a box beautifully wrapped in star­ patterned paper with a big pink ribbon around it from Holly.

‘Maybe.’ Em left her answer deliberately vague. ‘Cheers, Danny. Oh, and there’s a gift tag for you to fill in on that box,’ she added as he turned to leave.

‘I’ll try and remember,’ he grinned. ‘Merry Christmas!’ the girls chanted. ‘And to you too!’’

Find out what happens next tomorrow on www.chicklitclub.com.

My Thoughts…

Christmas is a time that polarises peoples’feelings you either love it or hate it. I love it, though when my father died very close to the festive season it was the most painful of times, watching people around me enjoying the celebrations when I was so sad. So  I completely understand how Emma feels at Christmas time at the beginning of this story.

The instant connection I felt with the heroine made me empathic to her circumstances and had me on ‘Team Emma’ from the start. The setting is picture postcard, a small harbour town in Northumberland, It was beautifully described and the vivid imagery enhanced the story for me.

Emma has an unexpected encounter on Boxing day, which makes her revisit her pain and wonder whether there is more to life than her chocolate shop and lovable Spaniel.

This is a slow-paced, realistic life story, which highlights the importance of friendship and community. This is especially apparent when Emma’s home and livelihood are threatened by an unscrupulous entrepreneur.

The romance is slow in coming and Emma is full of trepidation that she will give her heart and be hurt again but by the time Christmas revisits the little harbour village fate takes a hand and makes her realise she has to take a risk and live for the moment. The ending is hopeful and paves the way for another story set in this charming little village.

I received a copy of this book from Harper Impulse via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

 

 

 

 

 

Covent Garden in the Snow – Jules Wake – 4 * Review

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Tilly Hunter has fabulous friends, her dream job as a make-up artist with a prestigious opera company and Felix, her kind and caring husband to be. It looks set to be the most perfect Christmas yet!

But when a monumental blunder forces her to work closely with new IT director Marcus Walker, it’s not only the roast chestnut stalls on the cobbles of her beloved Covent Garden that cause sparks to fly…

Super serious and brooding, Marcus hasn’t got a creative bone in his sharp-suited body. For technophobe Tilly, it’s a match made in hell.

And yet, when Tilly discovers her fiancé isn’t at all what he seems, it’s Marcus who’s there for her with a hot chocolate and a surprisingly strong shoulder to cry on … He might just be the best Christmas present she’s ever had.

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My Thoughts…

A lovely, festive romantic comedy.

Tilly is a make-up artist whose creativity is often at odds with life’s practicalities. The story starts with email disaster that is full of humour and necessitates a cute meet with Marcus the new super, efficient director of IT. The theatre setting is unusual and adds additional interest to a smooth plot. The outcome is not surprising but in this genre, working out what is going to happen before it does is part of the enjoyment.

Tilly is a likeable, quirky romantic heroine, very ‘Bridget Jones’ and Marcus rivals ‘ Mark Darcy’ for his stuffy attitude, which masks his loyalty and love of Tilly. Tilly matures in this story and realises her parents and her sister really do want her to be happy.

There’s sizzling romance, misunderstanding, deceit and a lovely, warm festive ending.
It’s definitely a Christmasy story worth reading.

I received a copy of this book from Harper Impulse via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

 

My Summer of Magic Moments – Caroline Roberts – 5* Review

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When Claire arrives for her cosy cottage retreat on the beautiful Northumberland coast, she prays that three weeks of blissful peace and summer sunshine will wash away the pain of the last year.

Claire’s a survivor – she’s proud of the scars that prove it – and she’s determined to make the most of each and every day, to seize those little magic moments that give life its colour.

Her plan for peaceful solitude goes awry when handsome, brooding Ed turns up in the cottage next door. The last thing Claire needs is the risk of getting hurt, but she soon discovers that Ed has emotional battle scars of his own.

Will he prove the worst distraction? Or might he be just the perfect remedy?

 

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My Thoughts…

This story turned out to be so much more than I expected. 

Claire has an indomitable spirit.  Despite suffering life-threatening illness and the worst kind of betrayal, she has lived to tell the tale. Spending some time on her own in idyllic coastal surroundings is her present to herself, for getting through the pain.

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The setting for this story is one that I am very familiar with.  Reading it was an added pleasure when I recognised places that I had visited in the last few years. The cover of this book is lovely but doesn’t really reflect the setting, which has a rugged untamed beauty.

 

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The story reflects the title, each chapter illustrates a magic moment. The plot’s beautiful simplicity allows the Claire to tell her story with all its poignant and sometimes humorous nuances.

Ed has an impact on Claire even before they meet and this continues but doesn’t have the obvious conclusion you would expect. He is deeply troubled and Claire isn’t sure she is strong enough to ride the storm with him.

The supporting characters are few but memorable, as Claire realises how important her family and friends are to her happiness.

This book is so much more than a holiday romance or an escape to recharge the batteries. This is about discovering what’s really important to you and appreciating how transient life is. Dark issues are treated with reverence but there is always hopeful ethos in this story, which makes it an absorbing and emotional experience.

Definitely one of my favourite books from 2017.

I received a copy of this book from Harper Impulse via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

And finally, this story highlighted a magic moment of my own. Watching my lovely dogs frolic in the sea on Beadnall Bay beach, precious because I lost Jazzy last November.

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Millie Vanilla’s CupCake Cafe – Summer Loves – Georgia Hill 4 * Review

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Summer lovin’ never happened so fast…but will it last?

Heartbroken after breaking up with her gorgeous boyfriend, Jed, even baking in her beloved Cupcake Café while the summer sun’s shining on Berecombe Beach can’t cheer Millie up! So it’s time to bring in the big guns – her best friend, Dora.

But when Dora arrives, it’s clear she’s busy licking her own wounds and Millie can only watch as her friend falls head over heels for an old flame. With everyone around her finding love, should Millie give Jed the second chance he’s been asking for or has the time come for a fresh start away from Berecombe?

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My Thoughts

After being introduced to the Cupcake Cafe, I was intrigued to see what would happen in the summer. Millie is on her own again after her Spring romance with rich boy Jed, but her cafe is surviving and so is she, especially when her school best friend returns to Berecombe unexpectedly.

Dora, a successful actress returns home and finds Millie’s love life in tatters. Determined to see her friend happy she doesn’t
expect her own heart to be threatened when someone from her past returns to challenge and allure her.

Dora and Mike’s love story is poignant and steamy in equal measures and mirrors the theatre production they both find themselves involved with. Millie and Jed’s path to true love is equally frustrating and seems unlikely to have a happy ending until Millie can trust Jed again.

The older generation is determined not to be outdone in the romance stakes and provide much of the humour in this story, which seesaws between laughter and tears.

Another cliffhanger ending makes reading the festive chapter of this story a must.

I received a copy of this book from Harper Impulse via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

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