Review: The Storm Girl, by Kathleen McGurl

The Storm Girl

 

About the Book, The Storm Girl

Cover: The Storm GirlThe gripping new historical novel from the USA Today bestselling author of The Girl from Bletchley Park and The Forgotten Secret.

A heartbreaking choice. A secret kept for centuries.

1784. When Esther Harris’s father hurts his back, she takes over his role helping smugglers hide contraband in the secret cellar in their pub. But when the free traders’ ships are trapped in the harbour, a battle between the smugglers and the revenue officers leads to murder and betrayal – and Esther is forced to choose between the love of her life and protecting her family…

Present day. Fresh from her divorce, Millie Galton moves into a former inn overlooking the harbour in Mudeford and plans to create her dream home. When a chance discovery behind an old fireplace reveals the house’s secret history as a haven for smugglers and the devastating story of its former residents, could the mystery of a disappearance from centuries ago finally be solved?

Sweeping historical fiction perfect for fans of Lucinda Riley, Kathryn Hughes and Tracy Rees.

Buy, read, and discuss this book:

Amazon (UK) | Amazon (US) | Goodreads


About the author, Kathleen McGurl

Kathleen McGurlKathleen McGurl lives near the coast in Christchurch, England. She writes dual timeline novels in which a historical mystery is uncovered and resolved in the present day. She is married to an Irishman and has two adult sons. She enjoys travelling, especially in her motorhome around Europe but home is Mudeford, where this novel is set.

Connect with Kathleen:

Website | Facebook | Twitter


My Thoughts

MissMelissThe Storm Girl is my first Kathleen McGurl nsovel, but it won’t be my last.

A dual-timeline story, this book follows Esther, in 1784, beginning with an opening faintly reminiscent of Alfred Noyes’s “The Highwayman,” though it quickly moves beyond that trope. Our historical heroine is no lovestruck maiden idly braiding her hair in moonlit windows; rather she is a vibrant and dimensional young woman, acting with her own agency.

Similarly, recent divorcee Millie, our present day heroine, is bright and curious, and game for minor adventures. We first meet her as she is rescuing kittens (and a mama cat) from a blocked off fireplace, and her helper Nick, sparks her love of a good mystery when he suggests that said fireplace would be worth restoring (something she was already considering.)

Both women end up tangled in a mystery involving smuggling, which we modern audiences think of as a romantic form of crime, but is really very violent and dangerous, still, the puzzle that begins in the past is resolved in the present in a gripping story that is well plotted and perfectly paced.

What I especially loved about this book was that the author captures the language and tone of each period with great accuracy. You really don’t need to be told the date of each chapter; rather the writing makes it obvious where the story is in time.

I also loved that there were equal parts suspense and romance. Nothing ever got TOO tense or TOO fluffy; instead there was balance, and that made for a delightful read.

I’ve long been a fan of parallel narratives. Now I’m a fan of Kathleen McGurl and The Storm Girl as well.

Goes well with: hot tea and blueberry cobbler with a dash of firelight.

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Review: Finding Summer Happiness, by Chris Penhall

Finding Summer Happiness

 

About the book, Finding Summer Happiness

Finding Summer Happiness by Chris PenhallYou won’t find happiness without breaking a few eggs …
Miriam Ryan was the MD of a successful events and catering company, but these days even the thought of chopping an onion sends her stress levels sky rocketing. A retreat to the Welsh village of her childhood holidays seems to offer the escape she’s craving – just peace, quiet, no people, a generous supply of ready meals … did she mention no people?

Enter a cheery pub landlord, a lovesick letting agent, a grumpy astronomer with a fridge raiding habit – not to mention a surprise supper club that requires the chopping of many onions – and Miriam realizes her escape has turned into exactly what she was trying to get away from, but could that be just the thing she needs to allow a little bit of summer happiness into her life?

Buy, read, and discuss this book:

Amazon (USA) | Amazon (UK) | Goodreads


About the author, Chris Penhall

Chris PenhallChris Penhall won the 2019 Choc-Lit Search for a Star competition, sponsored by Your Cat Magazine, for her debut novel, The House That Alice Built. The sequel, New Beginnings at the Little House in the Sun was published in August 2020. Her short story, Lily McKee’s Seven Days of Christmas appears in Choc Lit and Ruby Fiction’s Cosy Christmas Treats anthology.

Her new novel, Finding Summer Happiness, which is set in Pembrokeshire in South West Wales was published in May 2021.

Chris is an author and freelance radio producer for BBC Local Radio.
She also has her own podcast – The Talking to My Friends About Book Podcast in which she chats to her friends about books. Good title!

Born in Neath in South Wales, she has also lived in London and in Portugal, which is where The House That Alice Built is set. It was whilst living in Cascais near Lisbon that she began to dabble in writing fiction, but it was many years later that she was confident enough to start writing her first novel, and many years after that she finally finished it!

A lover of books, music and cats, she is also an enthusiastic salsa dancer, a keen cook, and loves to travel. She is never happier than when she is gazing at the sea.

Connect with Chris:

Website | Facebook | Twitter


My Thoughts

Melissa A. BartellSomething I’ve learned in the last few years is that if a book has Chris Penhall as the author, it’s going to be a fabulous read. Finding Summer Happiness, the author’s most recent title completely supports my initial statement. Charming, with a bit of romance and a bit of intrigue, it came into my life when I really needed it, and put a smile on my face.

Protagonist Miriam is quite possibly my favorite Penhall lead so far. Savvy and smart, she’s burnt out with her business, and finally agrees to have her personal assistant arrange a break for her. Six months in a cottage by the sea. When she learns the actual terms of said break, I felt her disappointment, displeasure, and confusion, and wanted to rush in and help her out. Her work ethic and sense of honor merge with her attorney’s advice, and the story really takes off

A former business-owner myself, although not professionally, I really resonated with Miriam, especially since I’ve been through the experience of leaving the corporate world, but I enjoyed the characters of Jim the pub owner, Rhiannon the realtor (sorry, letting agent) and Alan the unwanted sort-of guest, and the largely offscreen Justin. These characters were all funny and interesting and felt the like odd assortment of friends and cohorts many of us tend to collect.

I also appreciated the various guests and villagers who rounded out the story. Penhall has a knack for creating vivid and dimensional characters and communities, and in this book she excels at both. I wanted to knock on the door of Miriam’s rented cottage and demand a seat in her supper club.

This is a light read that is grounded in serious topics, like how to change your life and when to make the leap and follow your dreams.

Goes well with: A rainy day, a glass of wine, and a bowl of onion soup.

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Review: Blooming Murder by Simon Whaley

Blooming Murder

About the book, Blooming Murder

Blooming Murder ebook coverMURDER IS BLOSSOMING IN THE WELSH BORDERS.

Aldermaston’s having a bad day. A falling hanging-basket has killed the town’s mayor, and a second narrowly missed him. His wife wants him to build her new greenhouse in three days, and some nutter is sending him death threats.

This isn’t the quiet life he expected as the new Marquess of Mortiforde.

It’s the annual Borders in Blossom competition, and Mortiforde is battling with Portley Ridge in the final. But this is no parochial flower competition. The mayor’s mishap looks like murder, and there’s another body in the river. Someone desperately wants Portley Ridge to win for the fifteenth successive year.

So when a mysterious group of guerrilla gardeners suddenly carpet bomb Mortiforde with a series of stunning floral delights one night, a chain reaction of floral retaliation ensues.

Can Aldermaston survive long enough to uncover who is trying to kill him, and why? And can he get his wife’s greenhouse built in time?

Buy, read, and discuss this book:

Amazon (US) | Amazon (UK) | Goodreads


About the author, Simon Whaley

Blooming Simon Whaley squareSimon Whaley is an author, writer and photographer who lives in the hilly bit of Shropshire. Blooming Murder is the first in his Marquess of Mortiforde Mysteries, set in the idyllic Welsh Borders – a place many people struggle to locate on a map (including by some of those who live here). He’s written several non-fiction books, many if which contain his humorous take on the world, including the bestselling One Hundred Ways For A Dog To Train Its Human and two editions in the hugely popular Bluffer’s Guide series (The Bluffer’s Guide to Dogs and The Bluffer’s Guide to Hiking). His short stories have appeared in Take A Break, Woman’s Weekly Fiction Special, The Weekly News and The People’s Friend. Meanwhile his magazine articles have delighted readers in a variety of publications including BBC Countryfile, The People’s Friend, Coast, The Simple Things and Country Walking.

Simon lives in Shropshire (which just happens to be a Welsh Border county) and, when he gets stuck with his writing, he tramps the Shropshire hills looking for inspiration and something to photograph. Some of his photographs appear on the national and regional BBC weather broadcasts under his BBC WeatherWatcher nickname of Snapper Simon. (For those of you who don’t know, they get a lot of weather in Shropshire.)

Connect with Simon:

Facebook | Twitter


My Thoughts

Melissa A. BartellI love getting into a series when it’s brand new. I get to meet all the main characters and then look forward to their returns in future novels. I’m not spoiling anything when I tell you, I’m really looking forward to seeing where Simon Whaley’s new “Marquess of Mortiforde Mysteries” go from here.

But let’s talk about the beginning. Blooming Murder is the opening novel of what I hope will be a series of many books. Whaley’s writing style is straight-forward and hooks you instantly, and his plot builds steadily from there. Aldermaston, the Marquess, is one of the first characters we meet, of course, and it’s clear that he’s going to be our POV character, after all, it’s “his” series.

Characters abound in this novel, many of whom are involved either in local (village) politics, or in the politics of a gardening club, or both, and Whaley describes them vividly (dainty feet stuck in my head) and writes them with just as much care. This novel takes place in Wales, and the author doesn’t write in dialect, but he still manages to convey where each character hails from and how they sound, as much as how they look.

What I really loved about Blooming Murder is that the murder in question felt really organic, not just shoved in as a plot contrivance. I also appreciated that there are touches of humor throughout the book, lightening some of the more serious moments. (A character hoping the body won’t be in frame for a photo opp is just one example.)

Overall, Blooming Murder is a charming, engaging novel, and I am looking forward to the series continuing.

Goes well with: a glass of Prosecco and a salad that includes edible flowers.


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Cover Reveal: The Road from Cromer Pier, by Martin Gore

The Road From Cromer Pier - Cover Reveal

About the book The Road from Cromer Pier

Coming July 17, 2021

It’s ten years on from The Road to Cromer Pierand Summertime Special Show Director Karen Wells has two potential headliners, but both have issues. Dare she take the risk? And Karen herself is at a crossroads. Will her mother Janet ever retire and allow her to run the pier theatre?

Meanwhile Janet’s nemesis, businessman Lionel Pemrose still has designs on the pier theatre, but he is facing growing financial problems. Bank manager Peter Hodson is haunted by a past indiscretion, and calls in recently widowed turnaround expert Tom Stanley. Can he keep the indiscretion a secret?

Tom is bereaved and has recently been made redundant from his own firm. He is too young to retire, and after years of long hours, suddenly finds himself unemployed. He pours his energies into the assignment, which could be his last hurrah.
Old enmities, loyalties and past mistakes surface as the future of the pier theatre is once again under threat, and those involved must deal with unresolved issues in their lives.

Buy, read, and discuss this book:

Amazon (US) | Amazon (UK) | Goodreads


About the author, Martin Gore

The Road From Cromer Pier Author PhotoI am a 63 year old Accountant who semi-retired to explore my love of creative writing. In my career I held Board level jobs for over twenty five years, in private, public and third sector organisations. I was born in Coventry, a city then dominated by the car industry and high volume manufacturing. Jaguar, Triumph, Talbot, Rolls Royce, Courtaulds, Massey Ferguson were the major employers, to name but a few.

When I was nine year’s old I told my long suffering mother that as I liked English composition and drama I was going to be a Playwright. She told me that I should work hard at school and get a proper job. She was right of course.

I started as an Office Junior at Jaguar in 1973 at eleven pounds sixty four a week. I thus grew up in the strike torn, class divided seventies. My first career ended in 2015, when I semi retired as Director of Corporate services at Humberside Probation. My second career, as a Non Executive Director, is great as it has allowed me free time to travel and indulge my passion for writing, both in novels and for theatre.

The opportunity to rekindle my interest in writing came in 2009, when I wrote my first pantomime, Cinderella, for my home group, the Walkington Pantomime Players. I have now written eight. I love theatre, particularly musical theatre, and completed the Hull Truck Theatre Playwrite course in 2010. My first play, a comedy called He’s Behind You, is now available on: https://www.silverbirchingtonplays.com/product-page/he-s-behind-you-by-martin-gore

Pen Pals was my first novel, and a second, The Road to Cromer Pier, is now available in all three formats. It was. officially launched on Cromer Pier itself, coinciding with the new season of the Summertime Special Show.

I’m an old fashioned writer I guess. I want you to laugh and to cry. I want you to believe in my characters, and feel that my stories have a beginning, a middle, and a satisfactory ending.

Connect with Martin:

Website | Facebook | Twitter


The Cover: The Road from Cromer Pier

The Road from Cromer Pier12

 

Review: Finding Jo, by Frances Ive

Finding Jo

 

About the book, Finding Jo

Finding Jo Front CoverAt breaking point Jo deserts her dysfunctional family and possessive boyfriend, making an uncharacteristic escape to the Himalayas in a bid for freedom and self-knowledge. The peace she finds there helps her to unravel her turmoil, but unexpected challenges test her new-found equilibrium to the limit.

Finding Jo focuses on relationships between families, lovers and friends, and the resentment and long-held grievances that threaten to destroy them. Jo’s quest for a deeper purpose in life acts as a catalyst to her family, indicating that willingness to change and grow enables people to find happiness.

Buy, read, and discuss this book:

Amazon (US) | Amazon (UK) | Goodreads


About the author, Frances Ive

Finding FrancesA career as a journalist/PR led to health writing for UK nationals newspapers and consumer magazines. Out of the blue I was inspired to write a novel, Finding Jo, which has taken some years to come to fruition, self-publishing in January 2021. I travelled a lot in my 20s and I have drawn on my three months’ trip to India in Finding Jo.

Connect with Frances:

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My Thoughts

Melissa A. BartellMany times during my read of Frances Ive’s Finding Jo, I felt like I was reading a real-life travelogue and not a novel. This is not a bad thing, as it only makes Jo and the rest of the characters feel more dynamic.

At the same time, Ive’s writing puts you smack in the center of every scene. From Jo’s first steps in India as she’s realizing no one is there to meet her,  to her purchase of a train ticket and beyond, I could feel the heat and hear the noise of begging children, rickshaw drivers seeking clients, and vendors offering their wares (do not drink the green juice!),  and at one point I even checked to make sure my own purse was still on the chair in my mother’s guest room. That’s how vivid the writing is in this novel.

But the dialogue is equally well-crafted. Perhaps it’s the author’s experience as a journalist that has helped her recreate dialogue that gives the essence of different languages without resorting to writing in dialect, or maybe it’s just natural talent, but at no time did I have trouble keeping track of who people were or where they were from.

India is a place of extremes… major cities teeming with people, and then the Himalayas, which are unrelenting and unforgiving. Life, itself, can also be full of extremes. In Finding Jo, highs and lows in both landscape and emotion are represented with care and skill, making a compelling novel that lingers with you long after you’ve finished it.

Goes well with: Chicken tikka masala and garlic naan.


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Review: Sweet Pastries and Sourdough at the Little Duck Pond Cafe, by Rosie Green

Sweet Pastries & Sourdough

 

About the book Sweet Pastries and Sourdough at the Little Duck Pond Cafe

SWEET PASTRIES and SOUR DOUGHLDPC_FRONT_RGB150dpiEllie’s brand new enterprise, the True Loaf Bakery, is finally open and classes are due to start. But when Katja’s ski-ing holiday ends in disaster, a new teacher must be found very quickly. Anita is up for the challenge, but – fresh from a break-up and an operation that’s left her feeling physically and emotionally vulnerable – the last thing she’s looking for when she moves to Sunnybrook is a new relationship. So it’s Sod’s law that she should find herself with not one but two guys vying for her attention. Sven, from Denmark, is a bit of an enigma – but maybe passion lurks beneath his cool reserve? And as for twenty-five-year-old football coach Ross – surely she’d be asking for trouble getting involved with a gorgeous man a decade her junior? (Although her football-mad son Rufus seems to love him.)
Moving in with Bertha proves a real comfort – but can Anita get to the bottom of what’s troubling the older woman?

Anita’s job at the True Loaf Bakery is only temporary, but she finds herself drawn ever deeper into life in the village – especially when she finds a child’s bracelet from long ago, in the rubble of the newly-renovated building. Solving the mystery of who it belongs to takes Anita on a journey of discovery – a journey that might just help her discover what her own heart really needs…

Buy, read, and discuss this book:

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About the author, Rosie Green

Rosie Green Author PicRosie has been scribbling stories ever since she was little.

Back then, they were rip-roaring adventure tales with a young heroine in perilous danger of falling off a cliff or being tied up by ‘the baddies’.

Thankfully, Rosie has moved on somewhat, and now much prefers to write romantic comedies that melt your heart and make you smile, with really not much perilous danger involved at all – unless you count the heroine losing her heart in love.

Her series of novellas is centered around life in a village cafe.

Connect with Rosie:

Twitter


My Thoughts

Melissa A. BartellSweet Pastries and Sourdough at the Little Duck Pond Cafe is the fifteenth Little Duck Pond Cafe Book, but it’s the first I’ve read. Nevertheless, the characters and setting were all so vivid that I felt as though I’d been visiting the cafe for years.

Part romance, part mystery, this novel is the story of a single mother named Anita seeking to redefine herself after a divorce and being a stay-at-home-mom during her son’s early life. It’s such a relatable story – how many women go through such things? – that stepping into the world Rosie Green has created was as effortless as stepping across the street to visit with a neighbor. Anita is a fantastic lead character: smart, funny, and flawed, as well as supremely real. The first person point of view was the perfect choice for her story.

Sven, Bertha, and especially best friend Ellie, as well as the other characters who live and work in Sunnybrook, were all as dynamically drawn as Anita, and felt like just the sort of people you’d encounter in every day life, and I really appreciated the great affection Ellie and Anita showed for each other. Friendships between women are too often depicted as competitions, and this was, refreshingly not the case with these too.

Author Green’s style is fresh and breezy, accessible without being too shallow, and I liked that she used casual language so well in dialogue and for Anita’s narration. As well, she balances romance and mystery elements without going too far with either.

While I had no issue reading Sweet Pastries and Sourdough at the Little Duck Pond Cafe as a standalone novel, a part of me wishes I’d been reading Green’s work from the beginning so I could appreciate the way her talent has grown.

Goes well with: a cheese danish and a mug of coffee.


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Review: A Little Birdie Told Me, by Sharley Scott

A Little Birdie Told Me

 

About the book, A Little Birdie Told Me

A Little Birdie Told Me_ FINALIt’s 1988. The era of young love, with Scott and Charlene melting hearts in Neighbours, and a new princess for the Royal Family. With Bros, Madonna and Wet Wet Wet in the charts, and children hoping for Ghostbusters’ toys in their stockings.

But it’s not all fun for Belinda. If her life was a board game, she’s losing at snakes and ladders. Once she’d been working her way up one of those ladders but, thanks to her snake-like polytechnic lecturer, she’s toppled from the rungs. Now she works in an old people’s home, where her chief duties involve cleaning toilets and emptying commodes.

At least her lovely colleague, Joe, offers excitement in her otherwise dreary life. But Belinda can’t believe he’d be interested in someone like her. Not when her pretty friend, Tracey, only has to glance at a man to have him fall for her.

But just when it seems things are looking up for Belinda, the residents’ precious possessions start to go missing. Then she witnesses a disturbing incident and doesn’t know what to do. Luckily, Belinda has Joe to guide her – until she discovers that he’s hiding a secret, one that forces her to make an agonizing decision.

Will she continue to hide in the shadows, never speaking out – or will she put her future on the line to stand up for what is right? After all, she’s caring for a generation that’s lived through two wars. Now it’s time to fight for them.

Buy, read, and discuss this book:

Amazon (US) | Amazon (UK) | Goodreads


About the author, Sharley Scott

Sharley Scott is the author of the Devon Seaside Guesthouse novels – Bedlam & Breakfast and B&Bers Behaving Madly – and the Maddie Meadows series.

Sharley is a guesthouse owner in South Devon. She is thankful to have been blessed with lots of amazing and kind-hearted guests, who are nothing like some of the fictional characters featured in the Devon Seaside Guesthouse series.

The Two Lives of Maddie Meadows – and its sequel The Gift of a Rose – portray the life of a working single mum. Some of the mischief Maddie’s little one, Josh, gets up to will be familiar to all parents. In real life, Sharley has carried out the threats she made to her son decades ago and now gets her own back him by telling tales to his girlfriend (some of the incidents in the books are inspired by him), although he returns the favour by recounting utterly embarrassing stories about his mum.

Sharley’s latest novel ‘A Little Birdie Told Me…’ is being published in February 2021. This book goes back in time to the late eighties: a time of fun music, interesting fashion, strange hairstyles and no internet or mobile phones. Fancy having to talk to each other! (Says the author who frequents Facebook too often).

Connect with Sharley

Facebook | Twitter


My Thoughts

Melissa A. BartellI’ve read and reviewed Sharley Scott’s work before, and her books are always absorbing and well-written.

A Little Birdie Told Me is no exception. Protagonist Belinda, like her story, is at times frustrating, funny, and feisty. She is a completely realistic character, and while her best friend Tracey almost slips into the realm of stereotypes, she is also the perfect foil for her friend.

What I really loved about Belinda, and what drew me into this novel, was her flaws. She’s not quick to stand up for herself, she lacks self-confidence, and she tends to mumble. Put together, these things don’t scream “leading lady,” and yet, under Scott’s deft hand what could be a tragic character becomes a romantic heroine.

While Belinda is the focus of the story, I enjoyed meeting Joe, wanted to throttle Belinda’s coworkers, and loved meeting all of the different residents of this retirement home, and seeing them interact with our young lead.

Like the last Scott novel I read, this book is not a predictable, cookie-cutter romance, but a deep, personal story with an element of romance running through it. The dialogue is convincing, and the plot is well-paced, with just enough exposition to keep things clear without ruining the experience for readers who prefer to learn things from the characters’ activities.

A Little Birdie Told Me is a fast, compelling read, perfect for a rainy weekend.

Goes well with: egg salad sandwiches and fresh lemonade enjoyed while lounging on a blanket in the park.

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Review: A Brush with Death, by Fiona Leitch

Nosey Parker Cosy Mystery Series

 

About the book, A Brush with Death

  • Publisher : One More Chapter (February 12, 2021)
  • Publication date : February 12, 2021
  • Language : English
  • File size : 2794 KB

A Brush with Death coverJodie ‘Nosey’ Parker is back!

When a body turned up at her last catering gig it certainly put people off the hor d’oeuvres. So with a reputation to salvage, Jodie’s determined that her next job for the village’s festival will go without a hitch.

But when chaos breaks out, Jodie Parker somehow always finds herself in the picture.

The body of a writer from the festival is discovered at the bottom of a cliff, and the prime suspect is the guest of honour, the esteemed painter Duncan Stovall. With her background in the Met police, Jodie has got solving cases down to a fine art and she knows things are rarely as they seem.

Can she find the killer before the village faces another brush with death?

The second book in the Jodie ‘Nosey’ Parker cosy mystery series. Can be read as a standalone. A humorous cosy mystery with a British female sleuth in a small village. Includes one of Jodie’s Tried and Tested Recipes! Written in British English. Mild profanity and peril.

Buy, read, and discuss this book:

Amazon (US) | Amazon (UK) | Goodreads


About the author, Fiona Leitch

Fiona Leitch headshotFiona Leitch is a writer with a checkered past. She’s written for football and motoring magazines, DJ’ed at illegal raves and is a stalwart of the low budget TV commercial, even appearing as the Australasian face of a cleaning product called ‘Sod Off’. Her debut novel ‘Dead in Venice’ was published by Audible in 2018 as one of their Crime Grant finalists. After living in London, Hastings and Cornwall she’s finally settled in sunny New Zealand, where she enjoys scaring her cats by trying out dialogue on them. She spends her days dreaming of retiring to a crumbling Venetian palazzo, walking on the windswept beaches of West Auckland, and writing funny, flawed but awesome female characters.

Connect with Fiona:

Facebook | Instagram | Twitter


My Thoughts

Melissa A. BartellThe second novel in Fiona Leitch’s delightful Nosey Parker mystery series can be read and enjoyed as a standalone story, but leaping into it immediately after finishing the first provides a richer experience because it becomes evident that these wonderfully rich characters have further developed.

Opening a few weeks after the original story, A Brush with Death focuses on an arts festival with all of the quirky personalities such events inevitably draw. These include the familiar characters of Jodie “Nosey” Parker, her mother and daughter, her friend Tony, DCI Nathan Withers, and Germaine the dog. All of them seem a bit more developed than they were in Murder on the Menu, but the differences are subtle. Nathan seems a little less officious. Tony feels more grounded. And Jodie “Nosey” Parker herself has reached the point in her post-London life where she’s open to romance again.

Of course, there’s a murder early in the festival activities, and Jodie is in the thick of it, trying to prove the truth of what happened even when it takes her away from other things. While her relationship with the one of the figures at the center of the investigation, famous painter Duncan Stoval, calls her judgement into  question, her choices are understandable for a woman in her position. Similarly, she gives real consideration to her flirtatious friendship with Withers, even as she’s inserting herself into his attempt to solve the murder.

As before, the backdrop of the Cornish seaside is as much a character as any of the humans (or dogs), but this time the action moves further afield from Penstowan than before.

Fiona Leitch has given readers a compelling mystery and an accurate look at dating after a divorce, lacing it with her usual humor and deftness at writing dialect. Whether or not you’ve read the first Nosey Parker novel, A Brush with Death is not a book to be brushed aside.

Goes well with: hot tea and saffron buns.


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Review: Murder on the Menu, by Fiona Leitch

Nosey Parker Mysteries

 

About the book, Murder on the Menu

  • Publisher : One More Chapter (January 15, 2021)
  • Publication date : January 15, 2021
  • Language : English
  • Series: Nosey Parker Cozy Mysteries

Murder on the Menu coverThe first book in a NEW cozy mystery series!

Still spinning from the hustle and bustle of city life, Jodie ‘Nosey’ Parker is glad to be back in the Cornish village she calls home. Having quit the Met Police in search of something less dangerous, the change of pace means she can finally start her dream catering company and raise her daughter, Daisy, somewhere safer.

But there’s nothing like having your first job back at home to be catering an ex-boyfriend’s wedding to remind you of just how small your village is. And when the bride, Cheryl, vanishes Jodie is drawn into the investigation, realizing that life in the countryside might not be as quaint as she remembers…

With a missing bride on their hands, there is murder and mayhem around every corner but surely saving the day will be a piece of cake for this not-so-amateur sleuth?

The first book in the Murder on the Menu cozy mystery series. Can be read as a standalone. A humorous cozy mystery with a British female sleuth in a small village. Includes one of Jodie’s Tried and Tested Recipes! Written in British English. Mild profanity and peril.

Buy, read, and discuss this book:

Amazon (US) | Amazon (UK) | My Book | Goodreads


About the Author, Fiona Leitch

Fiona Leitch headshotFiona Leitch is a writer with a checkered past. She’s written for football and motoring magazines, DJ’ed at illegal raves and is a stalwart of the low budget TV commercial, even appearing as the Australasian face of a cleaning product called ‘Sod Off’. Her debut novel ‘Dead in Venice’ was published by Audible in 2018 as one of their Crime Grant finalists. After living in London, Hastings and Cornwall she’s finally settled in sunny New Zealand, where she enjoys scaring her cats by trying out dialogue on them. She spends her days dreaming of retiring to a crumbling Venetian palazzo, walking on the windswept beaches of West Auckland, and writing funny, flawed but awesome female characters.

Connect with Fiona:

Facebook | Instagram | Twitter


My Thoughts

Melissa A. BartellFiona Leitch’s Murder on the Menu, the first of her Nosey Parker novels, is one of those books that feels like it should be something you see on television. Here in the U.S. it would be a perfect member of the PBS “Mystery” series, or for more contemporary viewers something you stream on BritBox.

Labeled as a cozy mystery, this novel certainly lives up to it’s niche. The main character, Jodie “Nosey” Parker is a former cop and a single mother who moves back to her hometown to give her daughter a life free from worry over her mother’s job. She’s smart, funny, engaging, and I really loved watching her code-switch, speaking proper English to people like the (hot) DCI Nathan Withers but switching into the local vernacular when speaking to people like the local cops her father (a former Chief Inspector) recruited to the small-town force, or the townsfolk, many of which have known her since birth. The use of dialect in this book is one of the things I really appreciated because it’s used both sparingly and organically.

Jodie Parker’s choice to become a caterer after leaving the police behind is something I identified with because I always find catharsis in cooking. (Spoiler alert: there’s a recipe at the end of the book, and I plan to try it!), but it was also amusing to watch her reactions to DCI Withers, first annoyance at his handling of the case (a death at her childhood’s friend wedding which she is catering, and later the recognition that he’s attractive in general, finally, getting a bit flirty.

Jodie is more than flirty though, she’s still got being a cop (though not a detective) in her blood, and it’s hard to stifle a lifelong need to know things.

While the murder mystery is gripping and fast paced, the character interactions are just as fascinating. Jodie’s mother and daughter often act as a sort of Greek chorus for her, while her friend Tony (the groom in the wedding) and their other childhood friends are equally dimensional.

The Cornish coast is also a character in this novel, with its beaches and meadows – Jodie’s back yard has a wall just high enough to keep the cows from visiting – and the setting, here, is important because it sets a tone, not just of cozy small-town life, but also of a very specific culture.

Leitch’s writing is compelling, and she balances humor and gravity very well.

I leapt into reading book two as soon as I finished Murder on the Menu and I fear this series may be my new addiction. It may well be yours, too. Highly recommend.

Goes well with: organic sausages and mashed potatoes.


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Spotlight: Trust Me, by Candace Hutton – With Giveaway

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About the book, Trust Me

Trust MeBrooke Anderson never pictured herself as a divorcee at twenty-eight. But when she mentions getting a post-nup to her husband Garrett after one deliciously sex-filled year, he promptly serves her with divorce papers. Admittedly, she could’ve told him about how her father left her and her mother homeless when she was young, and how she’s never been wired to trust anyone. Especially those closest to her. Now, all she wants to do is avoid anywhere he might be so she won’t have to face him again.

But she’s not the only one who can’t seem to trust.

Garrett Call grew up with parents who married for money and wants no part of a life that puts material possessions above love. He reinvented himself in college, complete with a new last name so he couldn’t be tied to his family’s lucrative business. He never even told Brooke the truth. Admittedly, he could’ve handled the issue of a post-nup better with his ex-wife. Maybe he didn’t count on how much he was going to miss having her in his life.

When their best friends’ wedding forces the exes to see each other again, a dangerous man from Garrett’s world threatens Brooke’s life. And they realize the only way to save themselves is to finally learn to trust each other.

Buy, read and discuss this book:

Amazon (US) | Amazon (UK) | Goodreads


Trust Me - Candace Hutton AvatarAbout the author, Candace Hutton

Candace Hutton was born and raised on books. She spent a great deal of her teenage years in libraries and bookstores and still tries to sneak off to them as often as possible. Some of her other favorite things are coffee, puppies, and the smell of rain.

Connect with Candace:

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Read an Excerpt from Trust Me

Trust MeContext: Brooke and Garrett bump into each in a club, and they argue about their decision to divorce.

Brooke took a sip of her martini just as a familiar body slid into the chair across from her. Garrett. It wasn’t fair for him to look that good, with the sleeves of his dress shirt rolled up and his tie missing. His hair was artfully tousled, and she felt a stab of satisfaction when she noticed he’d done it himself. It hadn’t been caused by a woman running her fingers through it over and over.

God, why the hell wasn’t he out of her system yet?

His lips were pulled up in a smirk when he sat down, but then the smile slipped a little when he looked at her. “You okay?”

“Perfect.”

“Like I can’t tell when you’re upset.”

She stirred her martini with the olive stick. “Since we’re no longer married, you really don’t have a right to ask me questions like that.”

“I don’t have a right to be a caring human just because we’re no longer married?”

Brooke didn’t respond. She’d never told him about her dad or mom. Never told him about sleeping under an overpass when it rained or wanting someone to come along and rescue them. She didn’t want him thinking she was weak, didn’t want to be that scared little girl around him.

Garrett leaned forward, resting his elbows on the table. “If it were up to me, we’d still be married.”

“If you’d wanted to stay married, you would’ve signed the damn post-nup,” she snapped.

His jaw twitched with anger. “A marriage built on a contract wouldn’t last.”

“Maybe we weren’t meant to last from the beginning.”

He settled back in his seat. “I don’t know about that. I think I always did a pretty decent job lasting.”


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