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Category Archives: #FridayReads

Return to the Little French Guest House (La Cour des roses #2) by Helen Pollard #FridayRead #bookreview

Blue skies, new love, and a glass of Bordeaux . . . what could possibly go wrong?

Return

In January, I decided to chase away the winter blues by reading Helen Pollard’s “Little French Guesthouse.”  Now on a sunny Spring break I have picked up “Return to the Little French Guest House.” It was a delight to join heroine Emmy as she began her new job as Rupert’s right hand woman.  Filled with enthusiasm and great ideas she relished the task of putting the Guest House on the map, starting her own online business and developing her budding relationship with charming Anglo-French solicitor, Alain.  But it is not all plain sailing.  A critical review by a vindictive travel blogger instigates cancellations, a major booking for a large family was never recorded by Rupert’s wife, Gloria, and both she and Emmy’s ex-partner Nathan are still causing trouble.

However Emmy does manage to spend time with new friend Sophie visiting chateaux and nearby towns and she becomes closer to Rupert’s friends, especially Jonathan, who is beginning to feel his advancing age.  It is a warm community, always willing to help each other out and most of the guests enjoy their holidays immensely.  Once Alain returns from Paris, he and Emmy grow closer but will their previous relationships cause them grief?

There are some very humorous scenes occurring in the guest house and delightful repartee around Rupert’s dinner table.  Combining these scenes with lovely descriptive passages and the romantic experiences of a likeable heroine, make this an entertaining follow-up not to be missed by those who read the first book.

You can find Return to the Little French Guest House at Amazon UK

My review of the original Little French Guest House is here

Helen Pollard

As a child, Helen had a vivid imagination fuelled by her love of reading, so she started to create her own stories in a notebook.

She still prefers fictional worlds to real life, believes characterisation is the key to a successful book, and enjoys infusing her writing with humour and heart.

Helen is a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association and The Society of Authors.

The Curse of Arundel Hall: A Yellow Cottage Vintage Mystery by J. New #FridayRead #RBRT

Arundel

Although this is not the first of the Yellow Cottage cosy mysteries, Chapter One introduces the heroine, Ella, and explains why, as an intelligent 24 year old widow, she is living on the island of Linhay needing to occupy her life with a challenge.

 

Set in the 1930s, there are parallels with the investigations of Miss Marple, but in Ella’s case her help is welcomed by Sir Albert Montisford, Police Commissioner at Scotland Yard.  In addition to the usual cast of suspects, the local Lord, a spurned spinster, a handsome doctor and a disreputable bachelor, Ella has a phantom cat and sees ghosts others are unaware of.  New developments in police methods such as finger-printing are explained and the local village provides a range of interesting characters.

 

At first the story moves rather slowly as Ella researches the history of Arundel Hall and why it is cursed.  I felt Phantom the cat should have had a more active part in the story and I kept trying to locate the island of Linhay, which was such a short drive or train ride from Scotland Yard.  Once the murder had occurred, the pace increased and the reader is presented with several possibilities for the culprit.

 

For me the most interesting part are the questions raised towards the end of the book.  What is the mysterious background of Ella’s housekeeper and who is the person who telephones Yellow Cottage filling Ella with dismay?  Definitely an invitation to read the next book.  If you like a light read in the style of Agatha Christie or Midsummer Murders you will enjoy this novel.

PS I love the black cat on the cover picture!

 The Curse of Arundel Hall is available on Amazon UK

J New

J. New is the British author of paranormal cosy mysteries, murder mysteries and magical YA with a hint of romance. A voracious reader and writer all her life, she took her first foray into Indie publishing in 2013, and has never looked back.
She has an eclectic reading taste, ranging from the Magic of Terry Pratchett, JK Rowling, Tolkien and Neil Gaiman, to Dean Koontz, Eion Colfer, Anne Rice and Agatha Christie. A lover of murder mysteries set in past times, where steam trains, afternoon tea and house staff abound. She is convinced she was born in the wrong era as she has a particular aversion to cooking and housework.
She also has an impossible bucket list, which includes travelling on the Orient Express with Hercule Poirot, shopping in Diagon Alley with Sirius Black, lazing around the Shire with Gandalf and Bilbo, exploring Pico Mundo with Odd Thomas and having Tea at the Ritz with Miss Marple.
Funds from the sale of her books go towards her dog rescue effort.

Rosie's Book Review team 1

The Gilded Lily by Deborah Swift #bookreview

Gilded

The Gilded Lily tells a frightening tale of two young girls in Restoration London.  Young Sadie has been brought from her country home in Cumberland by her more worldly older sister, Ella, to start a new life.  Ella has stolen from the house of her dead Master and now she is suspected of his murder.  Perhaps they could have gone unnoticed, but Sadie has a distinctive port wine stain on her face and the dead man’s brother is hunting for them.

As Ella becomes entwined in the dangerous world of ambitious Jay Whitgift, she decides Sadie must hide away.  I empathised with Sadie’s feeling of entrapment in the city which teemed with unkind, threatening people but I began to realise that Ella’s thoughtless behaviour was rooted in her tragic childhood and her longing for love and prosperity.

The story shows the hard toil of girls making wigs in a perruquier’s workshop, the corrupt world of rich, self-obsessed young men and the lives of ordinary people such as clerks and barber-surgeons in 17th century London.  I particularly liked the role of the Thames, which fills Sadie with awe, as she watches a ship set sail on a distant voyage while later Ella sells beauty products from a stall on the frozen river. The details of life, the complexity of the plot and the variety of characters take time to unfold but the pace hots up in the last few chapters where the plight of Ella and Sadie worsens and there seems no escape from the gallows.

For Sadie and Ella, the bond of sisterhood is sorely tried by their difficulties and separation but they cannot deny their need for one another.  The Gilded Lily which shines so brightly in Ella’s eyes proves to be fool’s gold concealing ugliness.

Exposure by Rose Edmunds

exposure

The return of Crazy Amy in this nail-biting story, opens with drama and amusement. You have no need to have read Rose Edmunds’ previous book, Concealment as you will soon know a great deal about Amy and her devilish alter ego, Little Amy, within the first few pages. But Amy is a highly intelligent, talented lady who has discovered a conscience and after the loss of her well-paid, city career in London, she needs a project.

Returning to her life is old-flame Toby Marchpole, an investigative financial journalist. While prying into possible fraud at IPT plc, a distributer and retailer of plumbing components, he is shocked to see the firm’s finance director, Venner collapse in front of him, spluttering, “Tell Amy….” He soon discovers that Venner was a former colleague of Amy Robinson and realises that it’s time to renew their friendship.

I know nothing of city finance, but then I also know nothing about spies or murder, so what is important is that the thrilling events keep me reading and the complexities of the fraudulent actions are clearly explained. This is a story which is a worthwhile read for two reasons; Amy’s adventures keep you on a knife edge and at the same time you warm to her flawed personality, longing for her to find happiness.

Adopting a new identity, Amy is unsure whether to trust Toby and she is sometimes unwise in those she does choose as trustworthy. Once again, she encounters DCI Carmody, with whom she had hoped for a relationship, but he is chilly and judgemental, knowing her failings and trying to deny his own feelings.

This book stands alone as an enjoyable, exciting page-turner but I would also recommend Concealment either before or after reading Exposure, and you never know, Amy may return for another adventure after the exciting final twist in this story.

Exposure  will be published on March 24th 2017
I reviewed this book as a member of Rosie Amber’s Book Review Team.

You can read my review of Concealment here

Rosie's Book Review team 1

#FridayReads ~Reviewing my favourite books from 2016

According to Goodreads, of the 65 books I have read this year, 21 are contemporary stories, 18 historical fiction, 7 crime novels and 5 mysteries. In addition, I chose to read 5 non-fiction history books, 3 steampunk novels, 2 travel books, one young child’s book, one dystopian novel and one of literary fiction. Only one is specifically a romantic novel, but of course romance often turns up in historical novels or mysteries too and definitely in most contemporary stories. There is a lot of blurring at the edges.
The number of books in each category does not surprise me, but perhaps next year I should try self-help, vampire books or maybe return to fantasy or science fiction. I’m not promising!
These are my highlights of the year.

rack-ruin-front-cover-002

Midnight Sky Cover LARGE EBOOK

devil-you-know

Rusty

AB Bamboo Island

Lake House

I could list more, but I will stop with these chosen few from my favourite genres; historical, contemporary and mystery.  If you click on a book cover it will link you to my review of that book.

Tom-All-Alone’s by Lynn Shepherd #FridayBookShare

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#FridayBookShare is a game created by Shelley Wilson to help search for an ideal read.

Anyone can have a go – all you need to do is answer the following questions based on the book you are currently reading/finished reading this week and use the hashtag #FridayBookShare

First line of the book.

Recruit fans by adding the book blurb

Introduce the main character using only three words.

Delightful design (add the cover image of the book).

Audience appeal (who would enjoy reading this book?)

Your favourite line/scene.

Tom-All-Alone’s by Lynn Shepherd  contains the ingredients I love to find in a book; well-researched history, a touch of mystery, literary quality and a special twist.

First Line   The young man at the desk puts down his pen and sits back in his chair.  The fog has been thickening all afternoon, and whatever sun might once have shone is now sinking fast.

Recruit fans by adding the book blurb

The story of Tom-All-Alone’s takes place in the ‘space between’ two masterpieces of mid-Victorian fiction: Bleak House and The Woman in White – overlapping with them, and re-imagining them for a contemporary reader, with a modern understanding of the grimmer realities of Victorian society. Charles Maddox, dismissed from the police force, is working as a private detective and can only hope to follow in his uncle’s formidable footsteps as an eminent thief-taker. On a cold and bright Autumn morning, a policeman calls on Charles at his lodgings with information that may be related to a case he is working on. He goes to a ruined cemetery to find a shallow grave containing the remains of four babies has been discovered. After examining them he concludes they are not related to his investigation, which is to find a young girl abandoned in a workhouse 16 years before, when her mother died. But all is not as it first appears. As he’s drawn into another case at the behest of the eminent but feared lawyer, Edward Tulkinghorn, London’s sinister underbelly begins to emerge. From the first gruesome murder, Charles has a race against time to establish the root of all evil. Tom’s-All-Alone is ‘Dickens but darker’ – without the comedy, without the caricature, and a style all its own. The novel explores a dark underside of Victorian life that Dickens and Collins hinted at – a world in which young women are sexually abused, unwanted babies summarily disposed of, and those that discover the grim secrets of great men brutally eliminated.

Introduce the main character – Charles believes in justice and cares for those who suffer but he is sometimes thoughtless and careless.

Delightful Design

tom-all

Audience appeal  A lover of Dickens’ London who would like to see deeper into the sort of characters you might find in Bleak House.

Your Favourite Scene

“As you will recall from your own days in the Detective’ when a certain person has been seen more than once at the scene of the crime, when that person has, indeed, been heard arguing with the victim- even, perhaps, threatening him- a threat witnessed by a most unimpeachable source- then it’s in the natural way of things that I should seek out that person and bring him in for questioning.  So, young Charles, am I to call in assistance or is the deed done?”

Charles stares at him for a long moment, as if weighing his options.  “There’s no need for that. If I have to come I’ll come quietly.”

“All the same,” says Bucket affably, “this is a very serious charge, Charles, and I have a preference to do such things by the book.”

He takes a pair of cuffs from his pocket and stands, holding them, waiting.  Charles stares back angrily but says nothing, and eventually holds out his hands in silence.

It is mercifully a very short way to Bow Street, so it is barely half an hour later that Charles finds himself in an underground cell, the iron-bound door of which he knows only too well, even if this is the first time he has seen it from the inside.

If you want to join in, then answer the F.R.I.D.A.Y questions and use the Friday Book Share meme. Tag Shelley (@ShelleyWilson72) in, so she can read what you have added, too.

The Poisoned Rock by Robert Daws #bookreview

poisoned-rock

The Poisoned Rock, though set mainly in present day Gibraltar, also takes us back to events in 1942 and the repercussions of the murder of a young prostitute.  Chief Inspector Gus Broderick and Detective Sergeant Tamara Sullivan are embroiled in a complex investigation of murder and abduction which takes them over the border into Spain, exploring the background to the film, “Queen of Diamonds,” currently in production on the streets of Gibraltar.

 

The film set and the relationships of director, producer and Hollywood star are described with veracity and interest, as you would expect from the author, Robert Daws, and the increasingly mysterious story of espionage and heartless murder is difficult to put down.  The varied characters make guessing the culprit or culprits almost impossible and you will be intrigued by the final denouement.

 

Although complete in itself, this is the second book about the investigations of Broderick and Sullivan and as I learnt more about them, I looked forward to further developments at the office of the Royal Gibraltar Police Department, in the next book, to be published in 2017.

daws

As an actor, Robert Daws has appeared in leading roles in a number of award-winning and long-running British television series, including Jeeves and Wooster, Casualty, The House of Eliott, Outside Edge, Roger Roger, Sword of Honour, Take A Girl Like You,Doc Martin, New Tricks, Midsomer Murders, Rock and Chips, The Royal, Death in Paradise, Father Brown and Poldark.

His recent work for the stage includes the national tours of Michael Frayn’s Alarms and Excursions, and David Harrower’sBlackbird. In the West End, he has recently appeared as Dr John Watson in The Secret of Sherlock Holmes, Geoffrey Hammond inPublic Property, Jim Hacker in Yes, Prime Minister and John Betjeman in Summoned by Betjeman.

His many BBC radio performances include Arthur Lowe in Dear Arthur, Love John, Ronnie Barker in Goodnight from Him and Chief Inspector Trueman in Trueman and Riley, the long-running police detective series he co-created with writer Brian B Thompson.

Robert’s second and third Sullivan and Broderick novels – Poisoned Rock and Killing Rock – will be published in September 2016 and early 2017, respectively. His first novella, The Rock, has been optioned and is being developed for television.

The Poisoned Rock can be found on Amazon UK

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