Welcome to my belated stop on the Twelve Cosies of Christmas Audio Tour. Thank you to Danielle for the invitation to take part and Ulvercroft for the gifted audiobook.
It’s Christmas at London’s Theatre Royale and journalist Daphne King is determined to solve an extraordinary mystery…
December 1935. Director Monty Harrison’s production of A Christmas Carol has had a troubled run on its tour of regional theatres. With tensions amongst the cast running high, the company reach their final stop—London’s Theatre Royale.
Catastrophe, however, strikes on opening night: Scrooge dies on stage, the result (it is presumed) of a heart attack. But the show must go on. Until, that is, a leading theatre critic—and old rival of Monty’s—is killed backstage. Are those associated with the production being picked off one by one? Budding journalist Daphne King takes up the case…
The 12 Audiobooks of Christmas Audiobook Tour is now firmly a part of my festive reading traditions. This year, I listened to Murder at the Theatre Royale, which is the second book in Ada Moncrieff’s A Christmas Mystery Series.
We are transported to December 1935 as amateur sleuth Daphne King investigates more mysterious murders. It begins with the actor playing Scrooge in A Christmas Carol who drops dead while on stage on opening night at London’s Theatre Royal. Then, when an old rival of Director Chester Harrison is also found dead, Daphne begins to wonder if someone is slowly picking off those involved with the production. There are few clues to follow, but Daphne pieces them together as she tries to unmask the killer before they can strike again.
This was an absolute joy to listen to. The snowy landscape and Christmas setting were perfect for festive listening and the author’s evocative descriptions and old fashioned language merged with the delightful narration to completely immerse me in the story. I was hooked and kept guessing right until the big reveal, the murderer’s identity as much of a surprise to me as it was those involved.
Charming, entertaining and atmospheric, this is cosy festive fun at its best and is the perfect book to listen to this time of year. I’m already looking forward to following Daphne’s escapades again next year.
MEET THE AUTHOR:
Ada Moncrieff was born in London. She studied English at Cambridge University, and has worked in theatre, publishing and as a teacher. Murder Most Festive was her first novel.
Published: May 1st, 2022 Publisher: Isis Audio Genre: Contemporary Fiction, Pensioners in the Pages Format: Audiobook, Paperback, Kindle
Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for this delightful summer read. Thank you to Danielle for the invitation to take part and Isis Audio for the gifted copy of the audiobook.
In the 1970s, the girls were best friends sharing a house and good times: Zara, the famous diva actor; Val, the uptight solicitor; Jackie, the wild child and Pauline, the quirky introvert. Now they’re in their twilight years, and Zara suggests that they live with her to support each other through old age.
Initially, being housemates again is just as much fun as in their heyday. But then Zara reveals the real reason she asked them to move in with her, and suddenly things take a sinister turn.
As the women confront their demons, they come under the spotlight of the press, the police and an angry parrot. With their lives spiralling out of control, can they save their friendships and each other?
“One last hoorah. What do you say.”
Legendary actress Zara is hoping to spend her 80th birthday quietly, but her agent has other ideas and has put together a surprise party. At the event are the three friends she shared a house with back in the 70s. Though they haven’t seen each other in decades, the group share an undeniable bond and spend the evening reminiscing on old times and wondering where the years have gone. Wondering aloud why they are spending their twilight years alone, Zara surprises her friends when she suggests they spend them together, the other women moving into her house so they can recreate the joy of their youth. Though initially reluctant, Pauline, Val and Jackie soon decide to take Zara up on her offer and the adventure begins.
I love a book with older characters at its centre, so when I was offered the chance to listen to The Girls on audiobook as part of this blog tour, I didn’t hesitate. Refreshing, funny and uplifting, it also has a much deeper side of poignant moments, controversial topics and sensitive issues which the author handles with both realism and compassion. It also transports you to sunnier climes, something that is very welcome during the unreliable British ‘summer’.
The four women at the centre of the story are richly drawn and compelling characters, though not particularly likeable at times. Each are very different people and are battling their own demons that are slowly revealed through glimpses into their past. And when Zara’s true motivation for inviting them to live with her is revealed, the women are outraged. I liked their dynamics and how the bonds, friction and struggles were still there after so many years apart. But what I loved most of all is that despite the problems, that bond of true friendship triumphed and they supported each other through some of the most difficult moments they’ve ever faced.
Delightful, entertaining and full of emotion and adventure, The Girls is a feel-good summer story that I highly recommend.
MEET THE AUTHOR:
From Bella’s website:
I’ve been jotting down my stories for as far back as I can remember… well that’s not exactly true. I remember writing a story when I was about nine and I was in Mrs Hurran’s class. The story was about a thief who stole the crown jewels but then didn’t know what to do with them. It went on for pages and pages, in my spiders dance handwriting, so my teacher typed it up and pinned it to the classroom wall. It was a proud day!
Somehow life took over, I got a sensible job and the writing remained a hobby which other people puzzled over and which I adored.
Over the years there have been dalliances into poetry, short stories and five unfinished novels. But I decided that 2013 would be the year that was going to change. I joined the Romantic Novelists Association New Writer Scheme which gave me a deadline to chase – a full length novel had to be completed and submitted for review by 31st August. I beat the deadline by a month!
In 2014 I secured a two book contract with Harper Impulse, part of the HarperCollins Group, and my first novel ‘It Started at Sunset Cottage’ was published in ebook format on 12th February 2015 and paperback on 23rd April 2015. It went on to be shortlisted for the Joan Hessayon New Writers’ Award and the RNA Contemporary Romantic Novel of the Year 2016.
My second book ‘A Family Holiday’ and my fifth ‘A Walk in Wildflower Park’ were both shortlisted for the RNA Contemporary Romantic Novel of the Year!
In 2016 I moved to Avon, which is also part of the wonderful HarperCollins family. My books are released in four digital instalments ahead of the whole story being published a few months later.
2021 saw the publication of two novels: a romantic comedy The Promise of Summer and a bookclub read The Library. The Library was published by a new publisher – Aria, Head of Zeus. 2022 looks like it will be just as busy with The Girls out in April and A Wedding At Sandy Cove being published in July. I can’t believe these will be books ten and eleven!
I was overjoyed to win the RNA Jane Wenham-Jones Romantic Comedy Novel of the Year award 2022 with The Promise of Summer!
In my spare time I love to read, cook with my daughter, plan holidays and rehabilitate rescue hedgehogs.
This is one of the loveliest and most challenging jobs for any actor and Julia Franklin is a passionate enthusiast for audiobooks. She has read everything from romance, historical fiction, sagas and “chick lit” to gritty detective fiction and thrillers. She has combined this with a busy career in broadcasting as a TV and radio presenter and as a voiceover artist. “There are,” she says, “few things more exciting than starting a new book and feeling it beginning to work its magic.”
Welcome to my delayed stop on the blog tour for this gripping thriller. Thank you to Danielle for the invitation to take part in the tour and to Isis Audio for the gifted audiobook.
SOCO Maya Barton is called to a canal where a heavily decomposed male body has been discovered. A bank card belonging to Trevor Dawlish is found in the cadaver’s pocket, and the name matches that of a missing person. All seems straightforward – until Trevor’s wife phones the police to say that Trevor has returned home, leaving Maya and the team wondering who the unknown male is.
When it’s revealed that the male was dead before he entered the water, Maya finds herself with a murder on her hands. But when another body is discovered, the case becomes further complicated. The hope is that facial reconstruction of the first victim will help solve the mystery – but it may lead Maya and her team down an even darker path.
When a heavily decomposed body is found in a canal and a bank card is found in the cadaver’s pocket belonging to Trevor Dawlish it looks like a pretty straightforward case for SOCO Maya Barton and her team. But when Trevor’s wife calls saying he just assaulted her and then disappeared things get more complicated. But the crazy twists in this case are only beginning…
This gripping audiobook packs a punch from the start with a rage-filled prologue that is immediately followed by a gruesome crime scene. I was caught on the author’s hook and on the edge of my seat as I listened. While Shattered Bones is the second in Kate Bendelow’s Maya Barton trilogy, it was my introduction to both the series and the author. Despite this I never struggled to keep up or understand what was happening, making this a great standalone or introduction to the series. The story is skillfully written, the author’s history as a CSI shining through in the gritty, authentic feel and small details.
This story is a tangled web with many threads, some that I found hard to imagine how they wove together. But as the investigation goes on they slowly begin to weave together and I saw the final picture take shape. And it looked nothing like I’d imagined. I love it when a thriller is hard to predict and this one really was, forcing me to reassess my predictions again and again.
Maya is a great protagonist. I found her likeable, interesting, witty and adept. I loved her relationship with her mother Dominique and enjoyed the tension and emotion that their shared history added to the story. I was very invested in this particular thread of the story and listened with my heart in my throat and even tears in my eyes at one point.
Tense, twisty, unflinching and compelling, Shattered Bones was one of my favourite audiobooks yet and I look forward to the final part of this trilogy. A must-listen for anyone who enjoys a really well-written thriller.
MEET THE AUTHOR:
I am the author of The Real CSI: A Forensic Handbook for Crime Writers. I also deliver presentations on the same subject to crime writers. I hope you find The Real CSI a useful resource.
Bloodhound Books are the publishers behind the SOCO Maya Barton trilogy. It’s crime fiction with a twist, as the main protagonist is a scene of crime office rather than a detective. The first two books in the series are Definitely Dead and Shattered Bones and are perfect for you if you’re interested in forensics crime scene investigation.
Welcome to my stop on the 12 Audiobooks of Christmas Blog Tour. Thank you Danielle for the invitation to take part and to Isis Audio for the gifted audiobook.
It’s Christmas at Westbury Manor and amateur detective Hugh Gaveston must unravel a fiendish mystery…
Christmas Eve, 1938. The Westbury family and assorted friends have gathered for another legendary celebration at their beautiful country house. The champagne flows, the silverware sparkles and upstairs the rooms are ready for their occupants.
But one bed will lie empty that night. On Christmas morning, David Campbell-Scott is found dead in the snow. There’s a pistol beside him and only one set of footprints.
Yet something doesn’t seem right to amateur sleuth Hugh Gaveston. Campbell-Scott had just returned from overseas with untold wealth – why would he kill himself? Hugh sets out to investigate…
‘If you’re a fan of historical mysteries, then Murder Most Festive should be at the top of your to-read list’ Cultured Vultures
Wonderfully atmospheric, with charming wit and brilliant plotting, Murder Most Festive is perfect for fans of Agatha Christie, M.C. Beaton and James Runcie’s Grantchester series.
It’s Christmas at Westbury Manor and amateur detective Hugh Gaveston must unravel a fiendish mystery…
On Christmas Eve 1938 the Westbury family and some of their friends have gathered for a celebration at their beautiful country house. Everyone is in the festive spirit as the champagne flows and Christmas games begin. But on Christmas morning, one of the guests is found dead in the snow. All clues seem to point to suicide, but ameutur sleuth Hugh Gaveston thinks that something is amiss. Could there be a killer in their midst?
I listened to this charming festive cozy mystery as part of the 12 Audiobooks of Christmas blog tour. While I admit that it took me a few chapters to get into it, once I did I enjoyed this story. The combination of the prose and narration came together to create a witty and atmospheric read that transported me back in time. It has a Christie-esque charm that I loved, making me feel like I was in an episode of Poirot. I was surprised to discover that this is Ava Moncrief’s first novel and I look forward to either reading or listening to more of her books.
A fabulous, fun and festive read, this is the ideal book to listen to this Christmas for anyone who enjoys historical fiction or cozy mysteries.
MEET THE AUTHOR:
Ada Moncrieff was born in London and has lived in Madrid and Paris. She studied English at Cambridge University, and has worked in theatre, publishing and as a teacher. A Christmas Murder is her first novel.
August is over, and so is the summer. It was not the best summer in terms of weather here in the UK, and a difficult summer on a personal level for me, but it’s been a fantastic summer in terms of reading.
In August I read a total of sixteen books, three of which were audiobooks. Here’s a summary of those books with links to my reviews:
Home Before Dark by Riley Sager
I’ve been wanting to read a book by Riley Sager for years. So when I got the blog tour invitation for Home Before Dark I jumped at the chance to take part. Chilling, nerve-shredding and twisty, it did not disappoint. Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮
Sexy and seductive, The Idea of You is a sizzling debut that was perfect for summer. It follows the story of a May/December romance between a suburban mother and the lead singer of her tween daughter’s favourite group. A sharp, sassy and hilarious novel, this was a fun read that I highly recommend. Rating: ✮✮✮✮.5
Normal doesn’t exist. We are all extraordinary. The above really is the perfect tagline for this remarkable debut. Patience is a thought-provoking look at what life is really like for people with severe disabilities and those who care for them. Patience Willow is a special and memorable character and I loved reading her story. It is one I will remember forever. Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮
Sumptuous, sensual and absorbing, this intoxicating blend of skullduggery, friendship, passion and empowerment transports you back to 1820s Edinburgh. The author reimagined real characters from history and brought them to life in this exquisite tale. Rating: ✮✮✮✮.5
Cecily was my 100th book this year. I read it as part of a readalong with The Squadpod and also took part in the blog tour. This atmospheric debut tells the story of the War of the Roses through the eyes of the women who fought from the shadows. Though I found it hard to get into at first, was slowly drawn in, and ultimately enjoyed this fascinating debut. Rating: ✮✮✮✮✫
I’ve found that I particularly enjoy audiobooks that have a podcast element. So when a fellow blogger raved about Girl, 11, I knew it was one I had to download. Compelling, tense and twisty, this was a great listen and one I’d highly recommend. Rating: ✮✮✮✮.5
Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince by J.K. Rowling
I know it looks like I’m listening to the Harry Potter books out of order, but I actually started listening to them as I’d never finished reading the series and only got to the end of book four. I was near the end of listening to The Half Blood Prince when I paused and switched to The Philosopher’s Stone as I wanted something not quite so dark after the death of my Nan. I then finished book six once I’d finished listening to book one. Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮
A steadily paced family saga, Olympus, Texas is a dramatic and emotional novel that follows the Briscoe family. Atmospheric and tense, this debut explores family, flaws and forgiveness in ways that really make you think. Rating: ✮✮✮✮✰
One of the best thrillers I’ve read this year, She’s Mine is a dark, devious and suspenseful read exploring every mother’s worst nightmare. But there is much more lurking beneath the surface that is slowly reveals. This is just the kind of twisted thriller that I love, keeping me on the edge of my seat from the start. And that ending: Wow! If you are a fan of this genre then this is an absolute must read. Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮
A gritty and addictive thriller that has your heart racing, Mimic follows a brutal killer who is recreating famous works of art through his victims. It jumped straight into the action and took me on a terrifying rollercoaster ride. Rating: ✮✮✮✮✰
Mesmerising, powerful and heart-rending, I flew through this book in just a few hours. A portrait of lives lived under the constant threat of prejudice, it follows Jamil and his sixteen-year-old daughter Abida. Beautifully written and full of compassion, this is one that will break your heart but also give you hope. An absolute must read. Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮
The Wolf Mile (The Pantheon Series 1) by C.F. Barrington
The first in an addictive new series, I loved The Wolf Mile. It is out of my comfort zone so took a while to settle into. But once I did, I couldn’t put it down and I screamed in frustration when it ended. Thankfully it’s not long until book two. Rating: ✮✮✮✮✰
The Last Library is a wonderful debut that feels like a warm hug for book lovers. It follows Librarian June and the patrons of Chalcot Library as they battle to keep their beloved library open. My review will be posted on publication day this Thursday. Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮
For a lot of this month it was hard to pick a favourite, with a couple of the month’s early reads vying for the position. Then I read No Honour, and it seemed I had a clear book of the month. Enter Next of Kin to show me I was wrong. The third book from Kia Abdullah stands out even amongst the other fantastic five star rated reads this month. Her books just get better and better.
What did you read this month? Did we read any of the same books? Let me know in the comments.
Thanks for reading this month’s wrap up. Seeyou next month Emma xxx
I can’t quite believe that I’m doing my June wrap up and that we’re half way through the year already. One of the hardest things I had to do this month was to decide my list of favourite reads so far, so look out for that post coming soon. It was another great reading month for me and I read a total of 15 books. I enjoyed them all and most of them were four stars or above.
Threadneedle by Cari Thomas
Threadneedle was one of my most anticipated books this year. The first book in the exciting new Language of Magic Series, it is a story of secrets, lies and self-discovery interwoven with a hidden magical world. It is a magical and bewitching story that slowly hooks the reader in as the author introduces us to the characters and the hidden magical world around us. I loved the world building and following Anna on her journey and can’t wait to see what the author has in store for book two. Rating: ✮✮✮✮.5 Read my review here Buy the book*
One Last Time by Helga Flatland
Beautiful, moving and heartfelt, One Last Time is a portrait of an ordinary family dealing with the realities of terminal illness. This was my first foray into Helga Flatland’s books, and I was struck by the beauty, warmth and compassion with which she writes. She skillfully created a book centred around terminal illness that manages to be elegant, poignant and funny that I would highly recommend. Rating: ✮✮✮✮✰ Read my review here Buy the book
The Forever Home by Sue Watson
Taut tense and twisty, this gripping thriller that had me hooked. It was my first time reading this author and I enjoyed her compelling characters and how she kept me guessing. I will definitely be reading more of her books. Rating: ✮✮✮✮✰ Read my review here Buy the book*
The Wolf Den by Elodie Harper
The Wolf Den was another of my most anticipated books this year and I was also excited as it was the first read with the SquadPod Book Club. It did not disappoint. I am yet to post my review as I am struggling to do the book justice. It is an absolute masterpiece. Lush, evocative and enthralling, I couldn’t get enough of Amara and the women who worked at the Wolf Den. It felt like I had been transported back in time and was walking on Pompeii’s dusty streets alongside them. And that ending. Omg! I am so relieved that this is a trilogy as I have to know what is next for Amara and the others. Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮ Keep an eye out for my review soon Buy the book*
Fragile by Sarah Hilary
Nothing was what it seemed in this mysterious and sinister thriller that had a chilling gothic twist. The suspense crackled on every page and the author had me in the palm of her hand. It was a perplexing tale full of red herrings that kept me guessing right until the end. Fans of the genre will love this book. Rating: ✮✮✮✮✰ Read my review here Buy the book*
Everything Happens For A Reason by Katie Allen
I am still shook that this extraordinary novel is a debut. It seeped into my heart and soul and I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it. The author bravely draws on her own experiences of grief and losing a child to tell Rachel’s story, injecting an authenticity into the book that is searing. It took me through a kaleidoscope of emotions, including tears, but this book is far from depressing. Sharp, witty, sarcastic and full of dark humour, you will laugh as often as you cry. Maybe more. Everything Happens For A Reason is a powerful, moving and unforgettable story that everyone should read. Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮ Read my review here Buy the book
The Stranding by Kate Sawyer
This glorious debut was nothing like I was expecting. It was better. Captivating, imaginative and original, The Stranding is a richly imagined and evocative tale about the end of the world. It follows two survivors, Ruth and Nik, as they attempt to navigate this new existence alongside a complete stranger. An absolute triumph, this swept me away. This is a debut you don’t want to miss. Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮ Read my review here Buy the book*
Murder at the Fair by Verity Bright
This was another witty, fun and compelling cozy mystery in the Lady Eleanor Swift series. I love the combination of historical fiction and mystery and even after just two books, this feels like putting on a cosy cardigan and sitting by the fire. Great as a standalone or part of the series. Rating: ✮✮✮.5 Read my review here Buy the book*
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J. K. Rowling
I’ve been listening to the fifth book in the Harry Potter series on audio for a few months now. I often listen at night as I fall asleep, which is why it’s taken so long to get through it. I love the Harry Potter films and the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios was one of my favourite parts of our 2016 visit to Florida, but I’d never finished reading the books. I decided to start where I left off reading in audio as I knew that sitting down with one of the books is something I’m not as likely to do. I loved Stephen Fry’s narration and thought it was a fantastic adaptation that was entertaining and compelling. I’ve downloaded the next book in the series and am looking forward to listening to that next. Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮ Buy the book*
Suspects by Lesley Pearse
Suspects is an ensemble piece told in the third person, all of the residents of the idyllic Willow Close narrate the story, slowly unveiling the secrets they are hiding behind their picture-perfect facades as the police try to solve the murder of thirteen-year-old Chloe Church, who lived on the close. This was an entertaining and steadily paced whodunnit I’d recommend for those who like their mysteries without gore. Rating: ✮✮✮.5 Read my review here Buy the book*
Shadow Sands by Robert Bryndza
I read Shadow Sands as part of a buddy read organised by the Tandem Collective and devoured this fast-paced and addictive thriller. I really enjoyed the first installment in this series, so I had high hopes for book two. Thankfully, the author delivered once again and I couldn’t put it down. My review will be posted soon, but I highly recommend this to anyone who enjoys tense and twisty thrillers. Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮ Buy the book*
The Beresford by Will Carver
Wow. Just wow. Will Carver is a twisted genius, and The Beresford is another outstanding and original novel from one of the most unique voices in Fiction and his best book yet. I’ve never read anything like this and it’s taking me some time to put into words what I thought of this book, so the full review will probably be up closer to publication day, which is July 22nd. What I can tell you, is that you need to read this book! Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮ Buy the book
One Child Alive by Ellery Kane
I didn’t need anther crime series when I read the first installment of the Rockwell and Decker series, but I’m so glad I started it. This is a compelling series with great characters, back stories and plots that are readable, tense and twisty. One Child Alive is an exciting, fast-paced thriller that I would recommend to anyone who enjoys the genre. Rating: ✮✮✮✮✰ Read my review here Buy the book*
Truth or Dare by M. J. Arlidge
The DI Helen Grace series has been a favourite of mine ever since I read the first book and anything the author writes is a must read for me. Truth or Dare is the tenth book in the series and sees Helen under pressure like never before. Not only is there an unprecedented crime wave sweeping the city, but she’s facing mounting tension in her personal life and fighting for her career and reputation. Once again, M. J. Arlidge has written a dark and cunningly crafted novel that weaves multiple plot lines together in unexpected ways. An unmissable read for anyone who loves crime fiction. Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮ Read my review here Buy the book*
This Is How We Are Human by Louise Beech
This Is How We Are Human is a truly astonishing novel that explores the nuances and complexities of being human. Full of heart, warmth and wisdom, this beautiful story is one you will never forget. I really can’t say much in a short paragraph about this book, it needs so much more, so please go and read my full review. But I can tell you that this is a story that needed to be told and one that needs to be read. It is one I believe will help create more awareness and compassion for those who are neuro-diverse and I am so grateful to Ms Beech for writing it. It is quite simply one of the best books I have ever read. Go and read it. Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮ Read my review here Buy the book
With so many five-star reads that made it onto my favourite books that were also some of my favourites this year, choosing a book of the month was no easy task. I had five contenders: The Wolf Den, The Beresford, The Stranding, Everything Happens For A Reason and This Is How We Are Human. After a lot of consideration, I narrowed it down to two and chose The Wolf Den and This Is How We Are Human as my books of the month.
What did you read in June? Did we read any of the same books? Let me know in the comments below.
Thanks for reading this month’s wrap up. Seeyou next month😊 Emma xxx
Thank you to the publishers for my gifted proof copies and eBook ARCS.