A fast-paced thriller set on the streets of a London rife with undercover magic.
Abras, as they are known, can harness these illegal powers, but for con-artist Amanda Coleman – whose father was a powerful and abusive practitioner – magic is anathema.
When her criminal crew decide to hire an Abra to help with their heists, they don’t expect to raise a demon or to quickly lose control of it. Now Coleman and her crew must travel across Siberia to a remote stone circle in order to kill this murderous creature, who has destroyed everything they hold dear.
But as the demon’s power grows, a battle of wills commences. Coleman must fight to survive, facing demons both in chains and within herself.
I received a copy of this book from Canelo via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
Fantasy and paranormal fiction do not have the popularity of a few years ago. The current trend for fusion in genres allows for paranormal and fantasy themes, to fuse with the crime fiction genre, something which has always been popular in graphic novels.
‘The End of the Line’, is a crime based story set in a dystopian world, where magic is outlawed, and paranormals are used to further criminal ends, often, as in this case, with disastrous results.
The violent world setting of this novel is immediately apparent. The leader of the gang is ruthless and emotionally damaged having suffered a personal tragedy. The violence is vividly described, indeed this story would make an excellent graphic novel.
Understandably, there is a great deal of world-building in the main part of this story, which adds to the complexity, and takes the reader away from the main story. If you are a fan of fantasy worlds, this will not be a problem, but if you find it difficult to merge into someone else’s creation, this will reduce the book’s appeal.
The story is fast-paced, adrenaline-fueled and dark. There is little to dissipate the noir world, some of the characters do have redeeming features, but these cost them dearly. The picture painted, is of a world without hope.
So, not an uplifting read, but something to try, if you enjoy fantasy crime in a dark dystopian setting.
Discovering the 300-year-old skeleton of shipping tycoon Jedediah Biddeford in the ballroom wall is a big old hassle for Josie Waters, owner of the Oyster Cove Guesthouse. Especially when Biddeford’s descendants turn up, certain that a family legend about treasure buried nearby must be true.
Josie is too busy dreaming up the perfect cake for the Oyster Cove’s 250th-anniversary celebration to worry about the Biddeford family – plus half the town – digging up her yard… until one of her guests is murdered in the guesthouse garden.
With worries that her guesthouse will get a reputation for being the kind of place you only leave in a body bag, Josie must put her detective skills to work to find the killer. Lucky for her, Nero and Marlowe and their gang of cat sleuths are also on the case.
From the old wharf to the town common, to the guesthouse itself with its many nooks and crannies, the cats are sure to sniff out the killer… but can they help Josie stop the person behind the mysterious murder before they strike again?
I received a copy of this book from Bookouture via NetGalley in return for an honest review
This is the second book in the Oyster Cove Guesthouse cozy mystery series. Attracted by the cover, I love cats, and still fondly remembering reading ‘The Cat Who…’ cozy mysteries when I was younger, I dived in.
I was surprised that the characters didn’t immediately draw me in. Maybe, I needed to read the first book in the series? As I read on, there is the necessary backstory to Josie, her friends and family, to see how their story got to this point. The murder mystery is standalone, and the cats Nero, Marlowe and their friends are so perfectly characterised, they tell their own stories.
The characters, once you get to know are delightfully quirky, the family of guests staying at the guesthouse, less so, but they are flawed, and therefore realistic. The plot has plenty of twists and false leads, so just when you think you know who did it, another suspect appears.
The cats are major characters in this story, their detective musings are like a parallel universe to the main story. This story relies on a little ‘magic’, but everyone who has shared life with a cat or two will find this easy to accept.
The ending ties up all the loose ends, and guess what? The cats find the culprit.
If you enjoy reading cozy mystery with a New England setting, quirky characters, and cat detectives, this is for you.
Born in 1973 to a Greenlandic mother and an English-Explorer father, Malik has always been something of a misfit. He has one black eye and one blue. As a child, his mother’s people refused to touch him and now his own baby daughter’s family feel the same way.
On his own now, Malik’s only companion is a guiding spirit
no-one else can see, but one day a white man with a nose like a beak and a
shadow like a seagull appears on his doorstep and invites him to England.
has had enough of living with domestic abuse. She compares bruises with her
friend Neil, who regularly suffers homophobic attacks. With Martha’s baby, they
go on the run to Shetland, where Martha has happy childhood memories of summers
spent with her aunt.
their way up north in a camper van, they come across a dejected Malik, alone
again after a brief reconciliation with his father’s family.
arrive safely together in the Shetland Isles, but Malik still needs answers to
the identity of the beak-nosed man who casts a shadow over his life, and must
now embark on a further journey of his own.
The Seagull’s Laughter is an immersive read, intertwined with nature and the magic of Greenlandic folk tales.
up in Derbyshire but has always been drawn to the sea. She has written from a
young age. Her love affair with island landscapes was kick-started on a brief
visit to the Faroe Islands at the age of eighteen, en route to Iceland. She was
immediately captivated by the landscape, weather, and way of life and it was here
that she conceived the idea for her first novel, The Eagle and The Oystercatcher.
Icelandic, Norwegian and Old Norse at University College London. She also
studied as an exchange student at The University of Iceland (Háskóli Íslands) and spent a memorable
summer working in a museum in South Greenland.
She decided to start a family young and now has three small children. Holly helps run Life & Loom, a social and therapeutic weaving studio in Hull. She likes to escape from the busyness of her life by working on her novels and knitting Icelandic wool jumpers.
When Maisie Meadows finds herself single
and jobless on New Year’s Day, she resolves that this will be the year she
focuses on bringing her scattered family back together. Romance is all very
well, but it’s the people you grew up with that matter the most.
But a new job working at an auction house
puts her in the path of Theo, a gorgeous but unattainable man who she can’t
help but be distracted by. As their bond begins to grow, Maisie finds herself
struggling to fulfil the promise she made to herself – but the universe has
other ideas, and it’s not long before the Meadows family are thrown back
together in the most unlikely of circumstances…
Can dealing with other people’s treasures help Maisie to let go of the past, and teach her who she ought to treasure the most?
I received a copy of this book from Avon Books UK via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
What a lovely story. Maisie the youngest child in a dysfunctional family is the star of this gently paced, characterful story. Her attempts to recreate the ‘perfect family’, are spectacularly unsuccessful, as she is let down by her latest lover and loses her job as well.
The auction house job is a new start, and it feels right, but the serendipitous change in circumstances and career, and the part tea set she uncovers have a profound effect on her life and those close to her.
Maisie is a realistically flawed but easy to empathise character, her motivation for good is strong, but her foundations are rocky. Was life really as ‘rosy’ as she remembers? Is having a tidy house, the only way she can live her life, which seems so out of control. Is her secret, a true reflection of who she really is?
There are so many levels to this story, a potential romance, that is fraught with misunderstanding. A little magic, that Maisie hopes to use to bring her family together. The outcome is not what she expects, but is believable and hopeful. A multi-generational theme, that adds depth to the story and shows how the present reflects the past, and the lessons to be learnt.
It’s easy to lose yourself in this book. Character-driven, it makes you believe in the story, and want the best for Maisie and her friends. The setting is authentic, and relatable and gives the book its unique twist.
Gentle romance, quirky characters and a wealth of emotion and regret, all make this story a lovely interlude in everyday life.
Guest Post – Jenni Keer
Love for Auctions
Thank you for inviting me over, Jane, to talk about the fascinating backdrop to my latest novel The Unlikely Life of Maisie Meadows, which is set at Gildersleeve’s – a fictional auction house in north Suffolk.
When I was playing about with ideas for my second book, I started thinking about environments I already had a good knowledge of (partly because I had a deadline for this book and was a bit panicky about how much research time I would have). Amongst other things, auction houses sprang to mind. My husband has an antique furniture business and we have been attending auctions at T. W. Gaze in the picturesque market town of Diss, Norfolk, for over twenty years. Over this time, I have seen the auction evolve and grow, and it has always been one of my favourite places to visit. It seemed the perfect setting for a story and much of the plot grew from this seed.
The highly knowledgeable Elizabeth Talbot (you may have seen her on the TV) was very generous with her time and I had several visits behind the scenes and the opportunity to quiz her about various aspects of the business – all of it was fascinating but only a fraction made it into the book. James Bassam, the modern design expert, also gave me his time and expertise, and this helped me to make Theo a much more rounded character. I learned a lot about Scandinavian furniture, studio pottery and post-war glass – so Theo now knows all those things, too.
If you have never been to an auction, I would encourage you to go. I hope I manage to get across some of the tension and excitement of bidding in a busy saleroom, but much of the fun is to be had in wandering around on viewing days and looking at the myriad of items coming up in the weekly sale. You truly never know what you are going to come across. I asked Elizabeth about the most bizarre objects they’d had pass through their hands and she said if it’s legal to sell it, they’ve probably had it – including a coffin (which gets a mention in the book).
Going back a couple of hundred years, most towns held regular auctions and they would have been a thing for all. Sadly, by the middle of the twentieth century, they were not so commonplace and had become the preserve of the dealers – who bought items at auction and sold them on to the general public. But more recently, largely thanks to the TV and the internet, auction rooms have become more accessible again and, although I appreciate they remain intimidating places to some, I hope those who read Maisie Meadows might be tempted to give them a go. Even Maisie had never been to an auction until she started working at Gildersleeve’s, yet instantly falls in love with the variety and energy her new workplace affords.
I suspect if my husband’s profession hadn’t taken us to the auctions, I would never have discovered the thrill that is a live auction, but it’s often the highlight of my week. Much of the furniture in my house has come from Gaze’s over the years, when we’ve been looking for stock but “accidentally” purchased things we fell in love with. This is the downside – you stumble across things you never knew you needed until you see them. Consequently, we have pieces of unusual glass, dinner services (that’s my bad – I can’t resist pretty china), too many bicycles, pieces of art, garden furniture, Scalextric, ceramic clock faces, and a box of 500 old keys… to name but a few of our impulse purchases.
All of my experiences fed into my plot and I loved writing about Gildersleeve’s and its eclectic staff. I knew I wanted the plot to centre around a very unusual tea set that had been separated, so an auction house was the perfect place to start Maisie’s journey. Early on in her new job, she stumbles across a teapot that she recognises from her past – so much so that it sends prickles up her arm. Why has it ended up an auction? And is there more to this curious teapot than meets the eye?
I hope you have fun following Maisie as she tries to reunite both the tea set and her own scattered family. Thank you for having me over, and for the delicious cup of virtual coffee.
Jenni Keer is a history graduate who embarked on a career in contract flooring before settling in the middle of the Suffolk countryside with her antique furniture restorer husband. She has valiantly attempted to master the ancient art of housework but with four teenage boys in the house, it remains a mystery. Instead, she spends her time at the keyboard writing women’s fiction to combat the testosterone-fuelled atmosphere with her number one fan #Blindcat by her side. Much younger in her head than she is on paper, she adores any excuse for fancy-dress and is part of a disco formation dance team.
The Hopes and Dreams of Lucy Baker was published in January 2019.
The Unlikely Life of Maisie Meadows is out in July 2019.
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Jenny Starling is working at The Spindlewood Inn for the weekend. It’s hosting a Regency Extravaganza, involving historical costume, amateur dramatics and food. The leading actress of the amateur dramatic society and reputed man-eater Rachel Norman portrays a doomed noblewoman. But when she turns up actually drowned in the pond, there’s suddenly a murder to investigate.
There’s been plenty of trouble at the idyllic country inn. The performers weren’t a happy troupe, and Jenny discovers a simmering romantic tension. Who wanted Rachel dead and why? Jenny Starling is going to need all her wits to crack this complex case. This is the seventh in a series of enjoyable murder mysteries with a great cast of characters and baffling crimes which will keep you in suspense to the final page.
JENNY STARLING In her late twenties, Jenny Starling is an impressive woman. Physically, she stands at 6ft 1inch and has shoulder-length black hair and blue eyes. Curvaceous and sexy, she’s a modern single woman, living the lifestyle that suits her – that of a travelling cook. Her famous (and now very rich) father, is a ‘celebrity’ cook, divorced from Jenny’s mother. Jenny drives a disreputable cherry-red van and is happy travelling the country catering events and cooking great food. She is on a one-woman crusade to bring back ‘real’ food. And definitely doesn’t like having to divert her attention from achieving the perfect Dundee cake or creating a new sauce recipe by having to solve a murder. She finds crime very distracting, especially when there is chocolate to temper or pike to poach. Nevertheless, she is very good at reading people, and with a quick and agile brain, becomes very good at unmasking killers. And her always-undaunted sense of humour goes a long way in keeping her sane when all around her people are dropping like flies.
I received a copy of this book from Joffe Books via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
Jenny is providing holiday relief for a friend at a Country Inn in the Cotswolds, the highlight of her visit is a Regency Extravaganza, where a select few from the local amateur dramatics society will be acting out a piece of local Regency scandal with a tragic end.
The clues for this one start early on, but are so well hidden that you don’t realise their significance until the end. There is slightly less emphasis on the cooking side of things, in this first time published Jenny Starling mystery. The focus is on the characters, mostly from Jenny’s point of view.
The characters are realistic and the tensions between individuals in the group of guests, and actors gradually revealed, but none seem relevant until an unfortunate incident occurs and someone dies. Is it suspicious or not? If it is, it appears to be a perfect crime, committed in plain sight of all.
The relationship between the investigating police officers and Jenny is less antagonist than usually the case, but her amateur sleuthing and astute observation skills make interesting reading.
An enjoyable book, with a well-described setting, enigmatic amateur detective and a twisty, absorbing plot.
Sleuth Callie Aspen wants to light up the Fourth of July tea party by solving a celebrity’s decades-old disappearance, but her digging results in more fireworks than she expects.
Last Christmas, Callie Aspen left her tour guide job and settled in Heart’s Harbor, Maine. Now, she helps out at Book Tea, her great aunt’s vintage tearoom, where each treat has a bookish clue. Though she’s excited to start her new life, Callie worries she may regret having burned her bridges behind her. Fortunately, she finds immediate distraction in the preparations for a spectacular Fourth of July tea party, which will recreate key moments from the town’s rich history.
Intrigued to learn that 1980s TV star Monica Walker was last seen in Heart’s Harbor before she vanished—allegedly to elope—Callie probes the townsfolk for information. She’s stunned when several locals share contradictory stories about the last day before Monica’s disappearance. Did she intend to leave her hit TV series? Was she being stalked by her ex? And why is the newspaper editor who investigated the story at the time so anxious about the cold case heating up?
When one of the talkative townspeople turns up dead, Callie aims to catch the killer. But it’s no picnic: Deputy Falk doesn’t want her meddling, and the locals suddenly know more about the past than they’d been at liberty to admit. If Callie and the Book Tea crew can’t crack the case, they’ll pay a very steep price in Joy Avon’s explosive second Book Tea Shop Mystery.
I received a copy of this book from Crooked Lane Books via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
Cozy mystery is the perfect escape. Quirky characters, quaint settings, a mystery to solve, this story has all these ingredients. Set in a small coastal town, on the Maine coast, it features Callie, who has just moved to the town, to her help her great aunt, run her vintage tea shop with a distinctive bookish theme, and a town that has a penchant for murder.
‘Sweet Tea and Secrets’, is the second book in the series, and although the mystery is solved within the pages of this story, reading the first book would be useful, for learning about the setting and characters.I struggled a little with the characters and the writing style, initially. Both grew on me as the story progressed, but the characters come across as two-dimensional, and less believable, spoiling my enjoyment of the story slightly.
Callie is wondering if moving to the small town is really for her, and if giving up the job she loves as an international tour guide is a wise move. Her Great- Aunt, aims to get her settled in, by finding her a place to make her own and getting Callie involved in the 4th July celebrations.She meets Quinn, another new visitor to the town, he is a little mysterious, but a willing partner in the celebrations, they stumble upon a cold case, of a missing person, and then the mystery really takes off.Romance is a feature of this story too, in keeping with the style, it is of the sweet variety, and on the slow burn.
There’s murder. Plenty of suspects and misinformation. I did manage to solve the mystery, but that is part of the fun. It is a little contrived in parts, but again this is part of the style, so not detrimental to the reader’s enjoyment.
In conclusion, it is full of quirky characters, with a decent mystery, I would like to see what happens next in the series.
The sun breaks through the clouds to shine on a little cottage where a mossy path leads to the front door, but inside something terrible has happened…
Police photographer Sukey Reynolds is looking forward to a quiet weekend gardening at home when she gets a call that there has been a shocking break-in at a local manor house. Once she begins to gather evidence, Sukey realises that this is the latest in a spate of well-crafted burglaries in the Cotswolds. Someone is targeting expensive houses with valuable art collections…
Thankfully, the police soon have a suspect in custody. But, during questioning, he suddenly catches a glimpse of Sukey, turns deathly pale and calls out to her. Sukey is sure she has never met this man before… Is this a bizarre joke, or is there a stranger out there who is Sukey’s perfect double in every way?
Just as Sukey begins to suspect she’s being followed, the police are baffled by a spate of local murders. With the body count rising, and the police unsure of where to turn, is Sukey herself a clue in this strange case? Can she unmask the killer before she becomes the next victim?
I received a copy of this book from Bookouture via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
I missed out on the second book in the Sukey Reynolds series, but no matter, this third book reads well as a standalone and is an enjoyable read.
Sukey comes to the fore as the main protagonist in this story. Art thefts and murder spoil the idyllic Cotswold’s setting, and Sukey becomes an integral part of the mystery when a suspect thinks she is someone else. This leads Sukey and her family into the direct line of fire and makes this an exciting story.
Again cozy mystery and police procedural are fused together to produce an intriguing, well-characterised story, set in the late nineties. The retro setting adds to the story’s ambience.