Sunday, 23 April 2017

Book Review: THE BODY IN THE ICE BY AJ MACKENZIE (Historical Murder Mystery)



Published by Zaffre on 20 April 2017

On the frozen fields of Romney Marsh stands New Hall; silent, lifeless, deserted. In its grounds lies an unexpected Christmas offering: a corpse, frozen into the ice of a horse pond.

It falls to the Reverend Hardcastle, justice of the peace in St Mary in the Marsh, to investigate. But with the victim's identity unknown, no murder weapon and no known motive, it seems like an impossible task. Working along with his trusted friend, Amelia Chaytor, and new arrival Captain Edward Austen, Hardcastle soon discovers there is more to the mystery than there first appeared. 

With the arrival of an American family torn apart by war and desperate to reclaim their ancestral home, a French spy returning to the scene of his crimes, ancient loyalties and new vengeance combine to make Hardcastle and Mrs Chaytor's attempts to discover the secret of New Hall all the more dangerous.


The Body in the Ice is the second in the Hardcastle and Chaytor mystery series - the first The Body on the Doorstep I reviewed here.

I loved the first book and I eagerly looked forward to reading this and wondered whether it would be as good ..... and I'm so pleased to say that it is every bit as good as the first book.

It was wonderful to be back in the company of the irascible Reverend Hardcastle and the ingenious Mrs Amelia Chaytor as they attempt to discover the identity of the frozen body in the icy pond of New Hall on Christmas Day 1796 and why they were murdered.

Hardcastle is now the Justice of the Peace which has curtailed his drinking and his argumentative nature somewhat but then when his sister turns up unexpectedly to stay at the Rectory he becomes his usual grumpy self. One of my favourite scenes is when she invites Mrs Chaytor for tea and they act like two adversaries checking each other out.  Brilliant writing!

The desolate and empty New Hall is at the centre of this story, the murder was committed there, a family return to live there after many years away, some of them involved in the Americas War which caused a family feud.  Why have they returned now, is it connected to the dead body, and what secrets does the New Hall contain?

Rev Hardcastle and Mrs Chaytor try to find all the answers by coming up against old foes, old acquaintances, lies and secrets. 

They make an unusual and unlikely team but it really works.  You don't need to have read the first book as this is a standalone story.

This was an enjoyable and clever storyline, slow suspense with twists and shocks and surprises with great characters, lots of historical detail and even a dog called Rodolpho that was one of the stars of the story.

I can't wait for the next mystery with the Hardcastle and Chaytor duo.

Also, I must just mention how I love maps of areas in books and this had not only a map but a floor plan of New Hall and a family tree.  So useful to refer to and which added to my enjoyment.



Thanks to the publishers Zaffre and Net Galley for giving me the chance to read this book.

Available to buy from Amazon UK - Amazon US - Book Depository



Meet the Authors

AJ MacKenzie is the pseudonym of Marilyn Livingston and Morgen Witzel, an Anglo-Canadian husband-and-wife team of writers and historians.

They write non-fiction history and management books under their own names but 'become' AJ Mackenzie when writing fiction.

They can be found at their website - twitter 




Monday, 17 April 2017

Book Tour, Review & Giveaway: DIAL P FOR POISON BY ZARA KEANE (Irish Cozy Mystery)

Today is my stop on the Dial P for Poison virtual book tour.  I loved this book and my review is below, together with a fantastic giveaway





Genre: Cozy Mystery
Date of Release: 13 April 2017
Number in Series: 1
Publisher: Beaverstone Press
Number of Pages: 352

Synopsis

Movies. Muffins. Murder.
Maggie Doyle moved to Ireland to escape her cheating ex and crumbling career in the San Francisco PD. When the most hated woman on Whisper Island is poisoned at her aunt’s Movie Theater Café, Maggie and her rock-hard muffins are hurled into the investigation.
With the help of her UFO-enthusiast friend, a nun, and a feral puppy, Maggie is determined to clear her aunt’s name. Can she catch the murderer before they strike again? Or will her terrible baking skills burn down the café first?
Cozy, quirky, and fun, this tongue-in-cheek mystery is a delicious introduction to the Movie Club Mysteries Series. Grab a cocktail and join Maggie as she takes her detective skills across the pond in Dial P For Poison.




Dial P for Poison is the first in the Movie Club Mysteries Series and is set on a small island called Whisper Island near the coast of Ireland.
Maggie hadn't set foot on Whisper Island for over ten years, her father had been born there and she had spent many happy childhood summers visiting her relatives, especially her aunt Noreen who's cafe she would be helping in while Noreen recovered from surgery.  It was a perfect idea ..... what could possibly go wrong?

The local newspaper columnist Sandra Walker is not well liked on the island due to her nasty gossip column but who would hate her enough to kill her?  Actually, there's no shortage of suspects whose lives she could ruin and when Aunt Noreen is wrongly arrested by the bungling local police it's up to Maggie to find out the real killer.

This was such a fun and light-hearted read, I liked Maggie and her inept baking skills when she nearly burned down the cafe.  With an assortment of island characters, including alien spotters, buried treasure, and a little flirting, this is a great start to a new series and I look forward to more of Maggie's sleuthing on Whisper Island!



Check out the other bloggers on the tour


Tour Participants
April 13 – fundinmental – SPOTLIGHT
April 13 – Community Bookstop – REVIEW, GIVEAWAY  
April 14 – Books,Dreams,Life – INTERVIEW
April 15 – Island Confidential – CHARACTER INTERVIEW, GIVEAWAY
April 15 – Lori’s Reading Corner – GUEST POST
April 16 – Readeropolis – INTERVIEW
April 17 – Carole’s Book Corner – REVIEW
April 17 – T’s Stuff – SPOTLIGHT
April 18 – Book Babble – REVIEW
April 18 – The Pulp and Mystery Shelf – GUEST POST
April 19 – My Journey Back – REVIEW, CHARACTER GUEST POST, GIVEAWAY
April 19 – Celticlady’s Reviews – SPOTLIGHT
April 20 – Author Annette Drake’s blog – INTERVIEW
April 21- Cozy Up With Kathy – INTERVIEW
April 22 – StoreyBook Reviews – REVIEW, GIVEAWAY  
April 23 – A Blue Million Books – CHARACTER GUEST POST
April 25 – Moonlight Rendezvous – REVIEW  
April 26 – Cassidy’s Bookshelves – REVIEW, GIVEAWAY  

Meet the Author

USA Today bestselling author Zara Keane grew up in Dublin, Ireland, and spent her summers in a small town similar to the fictional Smuggler’s Cove, the setting of her new cozy mystery series.
She currently lives in Switzerland with her family. When she’s not writing or wrestling small people, she drinks far too much coffee, and tries – with occasional success – to resist the siren call of Swiss chocolate.
Author Links

GIVEAWAY

For a chance to win a box of 4 paperback cozy mysteries, 1 signed copy of Zara Keane's 'Dial P For Poison', and a $100 Amazon.com gift certificate, enter the Movie Club Mysteries Launch Giveaway!  Just click the link below

https://gleam.io/ZItEy/zara-keanes-movie-club-mysteries-launch-giveaway







Saturday, 15 April 2017

Book Review: THE ROANOKE GIRLS BY AMY ENGEL



Published by Hodder & Stoughton on 7 March 2017

THE ROANOKE GIRLS
BY
AMY ENGEL


Beautiful.
Rich.
Mysterious.

The Roanoke girls seem to have it all. But there's a dark truth about them which is never spoken. Every girl either runs away, or dies.

Lane is one of the lucky ones. When she was fifteen, over one long, hot summer at her grandparents' estate in rural Kansas, she found out what it really means to be a Roanoke girl. Lane ran, far and fast. Until eleven years later, when her cousin Allegra goes missing - and Lane has no choice but to go back.

She is a Roanoke girl.

Is she strong enough to escape a second time?


This beautiful flowery book cover hides a dark family secret, one that has been covered up for many years and for many reasons.  
At the beginning of the book there is a family tree of all the girls in the Roanoke family which I kept referring to throughout the story - I do love maps and family trees in books!
The story is mainly narrated by Lane whose mother committed suicide and left her all alone in New York ..... or so she thought .... until she discovered she had grandparents and a cousin, Allegra, in Kansas who were more than happy to look after her - why had her mother never talked about them?
The story travels back and forth in time between Lane first arriving on the farm and then in the present when we learn that she left the farm ten years ago and has now been asked to go back as her cousin Allegra has disappeared.
Also interspersed with Lane's story are the voices of the other Roanoke girls who either died or disappeared.  Very eerie and which added so much to the back story.

I liked Lane, she was a complex character who was more comfortable with cruelty than with kindness due to her loveless upbringing by her single mother, and I warmed to her slowly over the story.  She wanted to do right by Allegra.

Even though the secret was revealed quite early on there was so much going on in this story that made me keep turning the pages eagerly wanting to know what had happened to Allegra.

It is a story of obsession, love, healing and hope.  Recommended reading.

My thanks to Louise Swannell at Hodder & Stoughton for giving me the opportunity to read this book.

Available to buy from Amazon UK  -  Amazon US  -  Book Depository


Wednesday, 5 April 2017

Spotlight on WORTHY OF THIS GREAT CITY BY MIKE MILLER Virtual Book Tour

Today it's my turn on the book tour for Worthy of this Great City by Mike Miller



WORTHY OF THIS GREAT CITY
BY
MIKE MILLER

Literary / Satire
Date Published: October 2016
 Publisher: JAM Publishing

Ruth Askew, a minor celebrity, is spouting some highly incompetent philosophy about the end of virtue. Con Manos, a journalist, is attempting to uncover a political scandal or two. Add some undistinguished members of City Council, an easy listening radio station, a disorganized charity, a prestigious Philadelphia newspaper, and any number of lawyers and other professional criminals. In Worthy Of This Great City the compelling stories of two stubborn individualists intertwine in a brisk, scathing satire that invites you to question everything you think you think about today's most discussed issues: populism and elitism, the possibility of truth, the reach of profound stupidity, and the limits of personal responsibility in these post-truth, morally uncertain times.







Meet the Author

If you know my website and Twitter addresses (asmikemiller.com and asmikemiller, respectively), you must realize Mike Miller is only an author name. It's not a matter of privacy or secrecy; anybody can find me with minimal effort. It's about keeping things separate. My writing is about what appears on the page. It's not about my personal politics or religion or history. 

Worthy Of This Great City is a B-game book. I'm ambiguous about this, being interested in money like most people, but I don't want to compete with a slick professional cover or smooth editing so I've stuck to a sort of reasonable, human middle ground. I value those things for what they are, of course, but I see them as artifacts, part of a system of publishing that fought like hell for a week's worth of shelf space, that fought to catch the eye, not the mind or heart. 

As my character Con Manos says: "It's a revolution, isn't it?" I say: Why fight on the side of the enemy? Why imitate and thus perpetuate a business model that stifles originality? Just to show you can? Unless, of course, you're fighting to attract the eye, not the mind or heart.

I've played a joke with this novel - my first, incidentally. Played with the idea of narration and who can be speaking after all. It's all very literary.




Reading Addiction Blog Tours

Tuesday, 4 April 2017

Book Review: GONE BY MIN KYM



Published by Viking Books on 6 April 2017



GONE
BY
MIN KYM

A Girl - A Violin - A Life Unstrung

At seven years old Min Kym was a prodigy, the youngest ever pupil at the Purcell School of Music.  At eleven she won her first international prize.  She worked with many violins, waiting for the day she would play 'the one'.  At twenty-one she found it: a rare 1696 Stradivarius, perfectly suited to her build and temperament.  Her career soared.  She recorded the Brahms concerto and a world tour was planned.

Then, in a train station cafe, her violin was stolen from her side.  In an instant her world collapsed. She descended into a terrifying limbo land, unable to play or function.


Gone is one of the most moving stories that I have read in a long, long time.

Min Kym's narration is so beautiful and poetic as she talks of her childhood as a child prodigy.  


There's that peculiar sensation of feeling completely normal within yourself, but acutely aware that you are different.......your responsibilities take root, flower - to your parents, your tutors, the time everyone has invested in you, the financial outlay.....great expectations indeed.  You start to carry a burden on your shoulders, a burden that your violin is responsible for, and only it, can alleviate.

She also lived in two worlds - the Korean way of rules and obedience and the English way of questioning everything, which goes some way in explaining what happened on that night.

Her childhood flew by and she played her way through several violins until she found 'the one' and I thought that the writing was so wonderful as she described her feelings on playing it for the first time ... she felt she had found her 'soul mate'.  

I am not musical in any way, I can't sing or play an instrument, but it didn't matter as I was drawn into this other world of Brahms and Schubert and Beethoven and concertos and solo performances and violins.  Her love for these composers shines throughout her story.

Moving on several years and I could hardly bear to read the build up to her violin being stolen - I could feel the pain in her writing.  It's almost unbearable reading the aftermath. I had no idea whether her violin was ever found or what happened before I started to read her story so I'm not going to spoil it here for anyone who doesn't know.

This is such a lovely book, with a rhythmic and unique style of writing that I really enjoyed.  It was sad, poignant, uplifting, educational and very, very special.

I shall definitely remember the name of Min Kym for a long time to come.


My thanks to publishers Viking for giving me the opportunity to read this story.  
They are publishing Gone on the 6th April 2017 and, at the same time, Warner Classics will break new ground by releasing a soundtrack to accompany the book.  To be available on Spotify and Apple Music, the Gone album will feature the original recordings of pieces played by Min Kym through her life, so you can listen as you read.

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

Book Tour, Review & Giveaway: ELEMENTARY SHE READ BY VICKI DELANY


Elementary She Read by Vicki Delany


Today is my stop on the Elementary She Read book tour  I am reviewing the book and I also have a fantastic giveaway for one print copy (US only)



Read the first chapter here.


Elementary, She Read: A Sherlock Holmes Bookshop Mystery by Vicki Delany Cozy Mystery 1st in Series Publisher: Crooked Lane Books (March 14, 2017) Hardcover: 
320 pages ISBN-13: 978-1683310969 Kindle ASIN: B01MT6H7O1

Gemma Doyle, a transplanted Englishwoman, has returned to the quaint town of West London on Cape Cod to manage her Great Uncle Arthur's Sherlock Holmes Bookshop and Emporium. The shop--located at 222 Baker Street--specializes in the Holmes canon and pastiche, and is also the home of Moriarty the cat. When Gemma finds a rare and potentially valuable magazine containing the first Sherlock Homes story hidden in the bookshop, she and her friend Jayne (who runs the adjoining Mrs. Hudson's Tea Room) set off to find the owner, only to stumble upon a dead body.

The highly perceptive Gemma is the police’s first suspect, so she puts her consummate powers of deduction to work to clear her name, investigating a handsome rare books expert, the dead woman's suspiciously unmoved son, and a whole family of greedy characters desperate to cash in on their inheritance. But when Gemma and Jayne accidentally place themselves at a second murder scene, it's a race to uncover the truth before the detectives lock them up for good.


Elementary She Read is a thoroughly entertaining read that I devoured quickly and easily.  

Gemma is incredibly observant - she notices every little thing about everyone who comes into her shop - the Sherlock Holmes Bookshop and Emporium.  This sounds a wonderful place, selling not just books but memorabilia as well and there's even a quaint little Tea Shop adjoining the shop.

When Gemma discovers a magazine in her shop that she knows is not hers she tries to find the owner but then this leads to a whole lot of trouble for both her and her friend Tea Shop owner Jayne.

I loved how Gemma's mind worked when trying to solve the murders, she was very methodical, just like Sherlock, but she isn't as serious, she is a fun character that I liked enormously.

The plot was easy to follow, with a few twists, some dodgy suspects, set in a beautiful part of the world, and with a couple of hunky men to distract Gemma, I'm already looking forward to the next in this new series.



 

Vicki Delany is one of Canada’s most prolific and varied crime writers. She is the author of twenty-three published crime novels, including standalone Gothic thrillers, the Constable Molly Smith series, and the Year Round Christmas Mysteries. Under the pen name of Eva Gates she is the national bestselling author of the Lighthouse Library cozy series. The first in Vicki’s Sherlock Holmes bookshop series, Elementary She Read, will be released in March 2017 from Crooked Lane Books. Vicki lives and writes in Prince Edward County, Ontario. She is the past president of the Crime Writers of Canada.   www.vickidelany.com Facebook: Vicki Delany & Eva Gates and twitter: @vickidelany and @evagatesauthor Purchase Links Amazon B&N

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TOUR PARTICIPANTS March 13 – The Bookwyrm's Hoard – REVIEW March 13 – 3 Partners in Shopping, Nana, Mommy, &, Sissy, Too! – SPOTLIGHT March 13 – Melissa's Eclectic Bookshelf – SPOTLIGHT March 14 – Laura's Interests – REVIEW March 14 – Reviews by Martha's Bookshelf – REVIEW March 15 – Back Porchervations – REVIEW March 15 – Valerie's Musings – REVIEW March 16 – Rainy Day Reviews – REVIEW March 16 – A Holland Reads – GUEST POST March 17 – Reading Is My SuperPower – REVIEW March 17 – Books,Dreams,Life – SPOTLIGHT March 18 – Shelley's Book Case – REVIEW March 18 – Girl with Book Lungs – GUEST POST March 19 – The Book's the Thing – REVIEW March 20 – Bibliophile Reviews – REVIEW March 20 – Mochas, Mysteries and Meows – REVIEW, INTERVIEW March 21 – Melina's Book Blog – REVIEW March 21 – View from the Birdhouse – SPOTLIGHT March 22 – Sapphyria's Book Reviews – REVIEW March 22 – Carole's Book Corner – REVIEW March 22 – The Pulp and Mystery Shelf – INTERVIEW March 23 – Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book – REVIEW March 23 – fundinmental – SPOTLIGHT March 23 – StoreyBook Reviews – GUEST POST March 24 – Cozy Up With Kathy – REVIEW, INTERVIEW March 24 – Mystery Thrillers and Romantic Suspense Reviews – SPOTLIGHT March 25 – Moonlight Rendezvous – REVIEW March 25 – Island Confidential – spotlight March 26 – Brooke Blogs – REVIEW March 26 – Girl Lost In a Book - REVIEW Have you signed up to be a Tour Host? Click Here Find Details and Sign Up Today!


Sunday, 19 March 2017

Book Review, Tour & Giveaway: THE WITCHFINDER'S SISTER BY BETH UNDERDOWN

Today is my stop on the The Witchfinder's Sister blog tour.  I have reviewed the book and I'm also delighted to be able to offer you the chance to win five hardback copies (UK only)




Published by Penguin on 2nd March 2017


'The number of women my brother Matthew killed, so far as I can reckon it, is one hundred and six...'
1645. When Alice Hopkins' husband dies in a tragic accident, she returns to the small Essex town of Manningtree, where her brother Matthew still lives.
But home is no longer a place of safety. Matthew has changed, and there are rumours spreading through the town: whispers of witchcraft, and of a great book, in which he is gathering women's names.
To what lengths will Matthew's obsession drive him?
And what choice will Alice make, when she finds herself at the very heart of his plan?


The Witchfinder's Sister is an exceptional novel.  It begins in 1645 and is spoken by Alice Hopkins who seems to be held a prisoner, she has gone without food for 3 days.  It is Christmas which is a time for fasting not feasting now.  She decides to write down everything that she knows about her brother - she wants everyone to know the truth - and this is her story of what happened over the past year.
And what a horrendous story it is.
It all began when she came back home after losing her husband in London.  Her brother Matthew and she parted on bad words five years ago and she's fearful of his welcome.  She need not have worried as he is very pleased to see her ..... at first.
I could really connect with and identify with Alice.  She is such a kind person, and she always sees the good in people, including Matthew.  She believes the best of people, and she doesn't believe the rumours she hears from the servants that Matthew is writing names in a book and has become quite a powerful figure in the area.  She makes excuses for his bad temper.
The book has a sense of foreboding as gradually the truth slowly and horrifically dawns on Alice what and who Matthew had become.
On the surface he seems calm, polite and respectful, but underneath he is so frightening, unpredictable and compelling.  We only see him through Alice's eyes and so we only know what she knows.
I loved the way the novel was written - in a similar style to the talk of the 17th century.  It really gave an air of believability to the story.  
The writing is so descriptive, so powerful, I really had some sense of how superstitious the people were in those times.
A brilliant novel by a debut author.

Meet the Author

Beth Underdown lectures in Creative Writing at the University of Manchester. Her first novel, The Witchfinder's Sister, is based on the life of the 1640s witchfinder Matthew Hopkins. Beth's interest in seventeenth-century England was sparked by the work of her great-uncle David Underdown, one of that period's foremost historians. She came across a brief mention of Matthew Hopkins while reading a book about midwifery, igniting an interest which turned into an all-consuming hunt for the elusive truth about this infamous killer.

GIVEAWAY
I am delighted that I can offer one of FIVE Hardback copies of The Witchfinder's Sister to you.
Entry is by Rafflecopter below.
UK entries only please.
Giveaway ends Sunday 2 April 2017 at midnight.
If you're lucky enough to win this great prize I will email the winners shortly afterwards and obtain their addresses for the publishers to send out their prizes.


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