It feels like the first month of the year both lasted forever and flew by so fast. Or is that just me?
I didn’t think I was going to do monthly wrap-ups this year as I don’t want to focus on how many books I’m reading. It’s about enjoying reading rather than the quantity. But this month has been jam packed with AMAZING books that I just had to share with you all, so I decided a wrap up post was needed.
I’ve had a fantastic start to my reading year and I think it is in part due to the quality of the books I’ve read, but also because I managed a lot of free reading. It’s been a long time since I was able to choose about half my books I read in a month simply by what I fancied reading, and I loved it. I do have quite a few tours in the next few months – damn so many incredible sounding books being released – but am renewed in my determination to do less of them this year and read more of what I feel like at my own pace.
All but one of my reads this month were four stars or more, with most of them being 4.5 or 5 star reads. The quality of books being released at the moment is phenomenal, particularly in terms of debuts, but it makes choosing a book of the month impossible. For that reason, I have chosen five favourites this month: The Shadow Man, The Lamplighters, The Summer Job, Dead Head and Everything Is Beautiful. Three of these –The Lamplighters, The Summer Job and Everything Is Beautiful – are debuts by authors I am excited to read more from.
There were three others I could have easily added to the list, but eight books of the month seemed a little too much.
Did we read any of the same books this month? Are any of these books in your tbr? Let me know in the comments.
You can see my reviews and more information on each book by clicking on the link in the title*. Thank you to the tagged publishers for my gifted review copies. *Some reviews are yet to be posted and will be up in the coming week.
Happy reading Bibliophiles. Until next time, Emma xx
Published: February 4th, 2021* Publisher: Piatkus Format: Kindle, Audio Genre: Humorous Fiction, Contemporary Romance *Hardcover out March 25th
Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for this heartwarming debut. Thank you to Frankie at Little Brown Book Group for the invitation to take part and the ARC.
When Amy Ashton’s world fell apart eleven years ago, she started a collection.
Just a few keepsakes of happier times: some honeysuckle to remind herself of the boy she loved, a chipped china bird, an old terracotta pot . . . Things that others might throw away, but to Amy, represent a life that could have been.
Now her house is overflowing with the objects she loves – soon there’ll be no room for Amy at all. But when a family move in next door, a chance discovery unearths a mystery, and Amy’s carefully curated life begins to unravel. If she can find the courage to face her past, might the future she thought she’d lost still be hers for the taking?
Perfect for fans of Eleanor Oliphant and The Keeper of Lost Things, this exquisitely told, uplifting novel shows us that however hopeless things might feel, beauty can be found in the most unexpected of places
“We all have baggage. No one travels lightly anymore.”
Amy Ashton is not your typical literary heroine. Standoffish and strange, Amy lives alone in a house that resembles an episode of hoarders. But to Amy her house is perfect; full of the treasures she collects and protects. But I soon discovered that beyond that spiky outer shell is a nuanced, vulnerable and caring woman whom I adored. The story itself was also full of surprises. I was immediately enamoured by the author’s prose and quirky tale and soon found there were unexpected layers to the book waiting to be discovered, including a mystery that grew like the ivy in Amy’s wild back garden. I was hooked.
I’ve found that a lot of the debuts I’ve read over the last year have been outstanding, and Everything Is Beautiful certainly fits that current mode. Full of pathos, heart, charm and wit, I devoured this book and got lost in Amy’s world. The story is told in dual timelines with flashbacks that are linked to specific items in Amy’s collection. Through these chapters the author tells the story of each item’s meaning to Amy, the memories it evokes, and slowly unveils how she became this way, piece by piece; each one waiting to be discovered by the reader like one of Amy’s treasures. These flashbacks also give an insight into who Amy used to be; when she was vibrant and happy and just like any other young woman you might meet.
“Her house was fairly full, of course, but that was because it was filled to the brim with treasures.”
But Amy isn’t the only compelling character in this story. The author has created a cast of characters that are all equally important to understanding Amy and her story. I was particularly taken with young Charles and Daniel, the two little boys who have moved in next door to Amy and decided she is their friend. One of the great things about kids is they don’t see the world as adults do and they can see the beauty in a person when adults only see someone weird. I loved seeing Amy through their eyes and how they slowly brought out a different side to her we might not have seen if they hadn’t moved next door.
This is an absolute must read. Uplifting, warm and wistful, this is a beautiful story that will linger long after reading and has gone straight onto my forever shelf. It reminded me of a combination of Eleanor Oliphant and The Illustrated Child, which are two other debuts I adore.
MEET THE AUTHOR:
Eleanor Ray has an MA in English Literature from Edinburgh University and works in marketing. She lives in London with her husband and two young children.
Eleanor was inspired to write EVERYTHING IS BEAUTIFUL by the objects her toddler collects and treasures – twigs, empty water bottles and wilting daisies. She is currently working on her next novel.
Published: February 4th, 2021 Publisher: Bantam Press Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audio Genre: New Adult Fiction, Contemporary Romance, Medical Romance
Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for this uplifting debut. Thank you Anne at Random Things Tours for the invitation to take part and Bantam Press for the gifted copy of the book.
CAN YOU FALL IN LOVE WITH SOMEONE YOU’VE NEVER SEEN?
Alice and Alfie are strangers. But they sleep next to each other every night.
Alfie Mack has been in hospital for months recovering from an accident. A new face on the ward is about as exciting as life gets for him right now, so when someone moves into the bed next to him he’s eager to make friends. But it quickly becomes clear that seeing his neighbour’s face won’t happen any time soon.
Alice Gunnersley has been badly burned and can’t even look at herself yet, let alone allow anyone else to see her. She keeps the curtain around her bed firmly closed, but it doesn’t stop Alfie trying to get to know her. And gradually, as he slowly brings Alice out of her shell, might there even be potential for more?
“Our scars are simply the marks of our stories. They show we’ve lived our life, and most of all that we have survived it. Don’t hide your story away in the shadows.”
Can you fall in love with someone you’ve never seen? Not even a picture? Just what is it that makes us fall in love with someone? Those are the questions explored in this wonderful debut. A sheer delight from beginning to end, I had a feeling I was going to enjoy this book but was unprepared for how much it would reach into my heart and soul. This is a book that makes you feel a rainbow of emotions, giving you a warm glow inside like porridge on a cold day
The story is told by Alice and Alfie, each taking alternating chapters. These are characters I cared about tremendously; both individually and as a couple. I was rooting for them. And while I loved both characters, there was something just a little special about Alfie. I can’t imagine anyone disliking him (even though Alice did try). He is one of those people who has a spark about them, brings joy, and makes life better for everyone he meets. He sees all strangers as a friend he just hasn’t met yet and can’t bear to see anyone suffer, so when the silent, stoic Alice arrives and initially resists his charms he is determined to find a way to help her. I loved how they were polar opposites and reading as he tried to slowly coax her out of her shell while she battles to resist.
But it isn’t just the two main characters who are so richly drawn, compelling and memorable. It’s every character. No matter how small their part, they leap from the page. Nurse Angels and Mr Peterson each have a particular place in my heart and lit up the page every time they were featured. I know I would have loved a nurse like Nurse Angles when I was in hospital for six weeks as a child. The only nurse I have any real memory of from my time there is a mean one who seemed to go out of her way to make sure we were all as miserable as she was.
Both Alfie and Alice suffered traumatic events that led them to be on the Moira Gladstone Ward and are still dealing with the harrowing physical and psychological aftermath of what happened. The author handles these issues in a raw, realistic way, but also with sensitivity and I was moved to tears a few times. But she balances this with joy, love and humour in abundance, including the sharp, witty dialogue that makes this feel so authentic.
Charming, uplifting and pure escapism, this fantastic debut would make the perfect romantic movie. I highly recommend this one. Just don’t forget the tissues. My one tiny niggle with it was how it ended so abruptly. I needed more to the story after investing so much. I have seen NetGalley reviewers talk about an epilogue that wasn’t included in my ARC so I am hopeful that including that creates the perfect end to the story.
MEET THE AUTHOR:
Emily Houghton is an ex digital specialist and full-time creative writer. She originally comes from Essex but has been living in London for the past 8 years. Emily is a trained yoga and spin teacher, completely obsessed with dogs and has dreamt of being an author ever since she could hold a pen..
Houghton’s debut novel, BEFORE I SAW YOU, is a commercial love story and will be published by Transworld in the UK in January 2021 and by Simon & Schuster in the US.
Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for this utterly heartwarming novel. Thank you Niamh at Hodder and Stoughton for the invitation to take part and my gifted ARC.
Margot doesn’t have time for love.
Will is afraid to love.
And neither of them are expecting to fall in love with Blossom: a gentle Staffy with a tragic past, a belly made for rubbing and a head the size of a football.
After their first meeting at the rescue centre, both Margot and Will want to adopt Blossom so reluctantly agree to share custody. But Will’s obsession for micro-managing and clear-cut boundaries and Margot’s need to smother Blossom with affection, means that soon they have a very confused and badly behaved dog on their hands.
Can they put their differences aside to become successful “co-pawrents” and maybe even friends? And meanwhile, does Blossom have plans of her own?
Heartwarming, uplifting, witty and absorbing, this book wraps its arms around you like a warm hug. It was just what I needed to read when I picked it up. Though I don’t know if my partner would agree as I’ve been banging on about getting a dog ever since.
Margot is thirty-six and ready for commitment and babies. Unable to find a man who’s as ready as she is and recently abandoned by her jerk of a cat, Percy, she decides to look for unconditional love at the dog rescue centre. She intends to adopt a cute, handbag-sized dog that will look good on the Gram but doesn’t bank on Blossom, the naughty staffy with bald patches, stealing her heart. The problem is Blossom has also stolen the heart of Will, who is at the rescue centre after being told by his therapist that he needs to open his heart up to others. Faced with the doggy version of the judgment of Solomon, they decide the only sensible solution is to share Blossom. But of course, things don’t run smoothly in this story about healing and finding love in unexpected places.
If you need a book that will lift your spirits when you’re down then this is the book for you. I adored this book. Yes, it’s a little cliched and predictable in places, but it is also a well-written, hilarious and tender story that gives you all the feelings. Many times I found myself sat smiling to myself like an idiot while reading and I kept laughing out loud and reading lines to my partner as it was just too funny to keep to myself.
There is no way I would consider sharing a dog with a stranger as I know I’d find it too painful, but it does make for a great story that is ripe for conflict and hilarity, which the author mines to perfection. Margot and Will are fantastic characters who are both equal parts likeable and frustrating. They are both trying to deal with their own heartaches and see Blossom as a way to do this, even if it is kind of reluctantly in Will’s case.
But the star of this show is undeniably Blossom. Like Margot and Will, Blossom stole my heart. The author’s love of dogs leaps from the pages and even if you weren’t a dog lover at the start of this book, I guarantee you will be by the end. Not only that, but if you’re anything like me you will be wanting to adopt one for yourself. We lost our old German Shepherd almost three years ago and this really didn’t help my yearning for another dog. I’ve been longingly looking at dog pictures and ads since reading this book and feel the hole left by our old girl more than ever. Don’t say I didn’t warn you!
I do like a good ‘enemies to lovers’ trope and this one was done so well that I couldn’t help but root for them and eat it up like the sappy woman I am. I couldn’t wait for them to finally get together and was going crazy with how long the author kept us waiting for it to happen. Like the secrets and twists in this story, the romance slowly unveils, raising the anticipation for the reader.
All jokes aside, this is a truly wonderful novel that I highly recommend. It was my first time reading this author and I definitely plan to read more. And don’t miss the author’s notes when you’ve finished. I promise you want to read them.
MEET THE AUTHOR:
Sarra Manning has been a voracious reader for over forty years and a prolific author and journalist for twenty five.
Her novels, which have been translated into fifteen different languages include Unsticky, You Don’t Have To Say You Love Me, After The Last Dance, The Rise And Fall Of Becky Sharp and her latest, Rescue Me, which publishes in 2021. Sarra has also written over fifteen YA novels, and four light-hearted romantic comedies under a pseudonym.
She started her writing career on Melody Maker and Just Seventeen, has been editor of ElleGirl and What To Wear and has also contributed to The Guardian, ELLE, Grazia, Stylist, Fabulous, Stella, You Magazine, Harper’s Bazaar and is currently the Literary Editor of Red magazine. Sarra has also been a Costa Book Awards judge and has been nominated for various writing awards herself.
She lives in London surrounded by piles and piles of books.
Published: January 21st, 2021 Publisher: Head of Zeus Format: Kindle Genre: Mystery, Suspense, Psychological Thriller
Happy Publication Day David Mark! Thank you Jade at Head of Zeus for the invitation to take part and the gifted eBook ARC.
If you go into the woods, you’re in for a dark surprise. Thirty years ago, three girls followed a stranger into the woods. Only two returned. The surviving pair have never been able to remember what happened or what the fate of the third girl was. Local rumours talk of hippies and drugs and mystic rituals, but no one has learned the truth.
This story is just what Rowan Blake needs. He’s in debt, his journalistic career is in tatters – as well as his damaged body – and he’s retreated to the Lake District to write. Yet even Rowan isn’t prepared for the evil he is about to unearth, for the secrets that have been buried in that wood for far too long…
“You can weave the most extraordinary tapestry out of lies but one loose thread and it all comes apart.”
This is a story of decades-old secrets, missing teenagers, corruption, shamans, and maybe even murder…
Thirty years ago, three girls followed a stranger into the woods. Only two returned. And they can’t remember what happened, only that everyone seems to want them to forget. Now pieces are coming back and one of them decides to search for the truth.
It’s just the story that down on his luck journalist Rowan Blake needs to reverse his fortune. But he is unprepared for the dark secrets he is about to unearth in the woods. Or what others will do to keep them there.
Dark, chilling, sinister and hauntingly atmospheric, this sent shivers down my spine from the start. It has a strangeness that I found fascinating, even if it did get a little too bizarre at times towards the end. The author’s eerie prose and vivid imagery drew me deeper into the story and compelled me to keep reading as I waited on tenterhooks to learn the truth about what happened in the woods thirty years ago.
The story is told in dual timelines: Rowan is our main narrator in the present, while Violet is the main voice we hear in flashbacks that tell the story leading up to the girls’ disappearance. I found both narrators intriguing, but Violet was the one who’s chapters I enjoyed most of all. I thought the author captured the voice of an antagonistic, troubled and angry teenage girl to perfection. We don’t meet Violet in the present day as more than an off-screen character for most of the book which gives her an air of mystery and allows us to really connect with teenage Violet. Rowan is equally unlikable but compelling; a man at his lowest ebb when we meet him. I enjoyed that the author was brave enough to make both main characters quite unlikable. It’s a risk as that can make it hard to enjoy the book, but he did it so well that it made it a more interesting read.
Absorbing, eerie, twisty and suspenseful, this is a gripping thriller that I would recommend.
MEET THE AUTHOR:
David spent more than fifteen years as a journalist, including seven years as a crime reporter with the Yorkshire Post – walking the Hull streets that would later become the setting for the Detective Sergeant Aector McAvoy novels.
His writing is heavily influenced by real life and have been universally praised for their originality, authenticity and heart. Industry bible Kirkus Reviews said that ‘to call David Mark’s novels police procedurals is like calling the Mona Lisa a pretty painting’. He has been championed by such industry luminaries as Val McDermid, Peter James, Mick Herron and Martina Cole.
He has written eight novels in the McAvoy series: Dark Winter, Original Skin, Sorrow Bound, Taking Pity, Dead Pretty, Cruel Mercy, Scorched Earth and Cold Bones as well as two McAvoy novellas, A Bad Death and Fire of Lies, which are available as ebooks. His first historical thriller, The Zealot’s Bones, was a Sunday Times Book of the Year. With publishers Severn House, he has written the critically-acclaimed The Mausoleum, A Rush of Blood, Borrowed Time and Suspicious Minds.
Dark Winter was selected for the Harrogate New Blood panel (where he was Reader in Residence) and was a Richard & Judy pick and a Sunday Times bestseller. Dead Pretty was long-listed for the Crime Writers Association Gold Dagger in 2016, as was Cold Bones in 2019.
David’s Radio 4 drama, A Marriage of Inconvenience, aired last year. His first novel was adapted for the stage and was twice a sell-out smash in Hull. He has also written for the stage and has contributed articles and reviews to several national and international publications. He is a regular performer at literary festivals and is a sought-after public speaker. He also teaches creative writing.
Happy Publication Day to one of my favourite authors. I’m thrilled to be taking part in the tour for this novel on release day. Thank you to Raven Books for my gifted ARC and to Anne at Random Things Tours for the invitation to take part in the blog tour.
Wicked deeds require the cover of darkness…
A struggling silhouette artist in Victorian Bath seeks out a renowned child spirit medium in order to speak to the dead – and to try and identify their killers – in this beguiling new tale from Laura Purcell.
Silhouette artist Agnes is struggling to keep her business afloat. Still recovering from a serious illness herself, making enough money to support her elderly mother and her orphaned nephew Cedric has never been easy, but then one of her clients is murdered shortly after sitting for Agnes, and then another, and another…
Desperately seeking an answer, Agnes approaches Pearl, a child spirit medium lodging in Bath with her older half-sister and her ailing father, hoping that if Pearl can make contact with those who died, they might reveal who killed them. But Agnes and Pearl quickly discover that instead they may have opened the door to something that they can never put back…
What secrets lie hidden in the darkness?
“Wicked deeds require the cover of darkness.”
A clever mix of whodunnit and ghost story, The Shape of Darkness is told with Purcell’s signature flair of haunting, gothic prose against a chilling and beautiful historic backdrop with richly drawn and memorable characters.
Agnes is a silhouette artist struggling to make ends meet thanks to advancements in the field that have made her craft almost obsolete. When the few customers she does have start to turn up viciously murdered, she becomes the police’s prime suspect and sets out to find a way to prove her innocence; determined to both clear her name and save her business.
Eleven-year-old Pearl is a spirit medium who lives with her sister and gravely ill father. She is the main attraction at the seances she and her sister hold, with people coming far and wide to see her in hope of connecting with a loved one they’ve lost. She is the person that Agnes turns to in hope of finding out who has killed her clients. But they soon learn that when you lift the veil to welcome the other side, you might get more than you bargained for.
“The ghosts are coming. Her arms are glowing, her breath is glowing. She’s being swallowed.”
Laura Purcell is one of my favourite authors so I was giddy with excitement when I received a stunning proof copy of her latest novel. Atmospheric and chilling, the vivid imagery and descriptions transported me back to 1854, making me feel like I was walking the streets of Bath beside Agnes or cowering in the dark beside Pearl. As always, the book is well researched and includes fascinating historical facts that will both thrill and horrify you (phossy jaw, I’m looking at you).
Ms. Purcell has a great recipe for the eerie ambience that lingers throughout this book. First, she sets the book in Victorian Bath and its large, gothic houses. Next, she adds a lonely woman mourning a lost love and an albino child whose mother died in childbirth and father hovers on the edge of death. Then, she includes a generous helping of mesmerism, seances, dark shadows, ghostly happenings and murder. Finally, with a sprinkle she includes the mysterious appearance of notes in the handwriting of someone gone from this world that Anges is trying to forget and a pinch of things from beyond the veil that linger when they should have left, you have a deliciously menacing and gothic read.
Sinister, spooky and mysterious, this book keeps you guessing right until the end. Are Agnes and Pearl really communicating with the dead? Is Agnes really seeing ghosts? Could she be the murderer?
There were times I found this book a bit slow and, for me, it didn’t quite live up to the glory of her first two books (I am yet to read Bone China), but overall this was a gripping gothic read I would recommend to those who love the genre.
MEET THE AUTHOR:
Laura Purcell is a former bookseller living in Colchester, Essex with her husband and pet guinea pigs.
She began her career with two historical novels about the Hanoverian monarchs, Queen of Bedlam and Mistress of the Court.
Her first Gothic novel for Raven Books, The Silent Companions, was a Radio 2 Book Club pick, was selected for the Zoe Ball ITV Book Club and was the winner of the Thumping Good Read Award. Her other Gothic titles include The Corset, Bone China and the upcoming The Shape of Darkness.
In the USA Laura is published by Penguin Books, where The Corset is titled The Poison Thread and Bone China is called The House of Whispers.
Additionally, Laura’s short stories have been published in a number of collections. These include Cameo, featured in Phantoms, Vanitas in the Audible Original Homeless Bodies and Other Stories and Creeping Ivy, coming October 2020 in After Sundown.
Published: January 7th, 2021 Publisher: Michael Joseph Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audio Genre: Thriller, Domestic Thriller
Today is my stop on the blog tour for this sensational debut. Thank you to Michael Joseph for the invitation to take part and the gifted ARC.
*** Pre-order The Push now and be one of the first to discover why this novel you can’t put down is also the novel you will never forget . . . ***
What if your experience of motherhood was nothing like what you hoped for – but everything you always feared?
‘The women in this family, we’re different . . .’
The arrival of baby Violet was meant to be the happiest day of my life.
It was meant to be a fresh start.
But as soon as I held her in my arms I knew something wasn’t right. I have always known that the women in my family aren’t meant to be mothers.
My husband Fox says I’m imagining it. He tells me I’m nothing like my own mother, and that Violet is the sweetest child.
But she’s different with me. Something feels very wrong.
Is it her? Or is it me?
Is she the monster? Or am I?
The Push is a heart-pounding exploration of motherhood, obsession and the terrible price of unconditional love.
“One day you’ll understand, Blythe. The women in this family… we’re different.”
What if there was something wrong with your child? Could you still love them? Would others see what you do? Is it you or them?
Compelling, bold, unsettling, and thought-provoking, The Push explores themes of our expectations of motherhood, unconditional love, family, and if monsters are born or made.
From the first pages the author had me in the palm of her hand. There is an immediate air of mystery and an impending sense of doom that made me excited to keep reading. I needed to know why Blythe was watching her daughter through the window and why she would feel the need to write her side of the story to give to her ex-husband. From the beginning there is also a spine-tingling terror attached to Violet, though I wasn’t sure if this was because she is someone to be feared or it was Blythe’s perception being pushed onto the reader. This conundrum is at the heart of the story as Blythe tries to solve the puzzle of if her daughter really is born a monster or if she is the monster for thinking that of her child.
The idea of children being born evil or being deliberately manipulative is one that is controversial; you aren’t supposed to dislike your child let alone voice that feeling. We see in this story how people are aghast and disgusted with Blythe when she voices her concerns about Violet or tells them the things she’s done. Children are supposed to be innocent and born good. We like to believe that as parents we have an element of control over how they turn out and that by raising them the right way, they will be good people. When people do bad things we look for a reason – neglect, abuse, absent parents, poverty – anything that will reassure us this can’t happen to us. Not our children. This book addresses that fear in all of us that it may not be in our hands and that some people might just be born bad.
The characters are all well-written and compelling, particularly Blythe and Violet. Not since We Need To Talk About Kevin has a child given me the chills or been so unlikable. I thought the author wrote her brilliantly as while she evokes these feelings, we’re never quite sure if they’re the truth or if it is all in Blythe’s head. Every time I made my mind up about Violet something would happen to make me doubt my conclusion, the author keeping me on the edge of my seat until the final page.
I liked the confessional style of writing and how it is mixed with flashbacks to the older generations of women in Blythe’s family. The flashbacks give important insight into not only Blythe’s mindset, but the mystery of the women in her family and the raw truth of motherhood. They also help to show how the past can ripple down through the generations with devastating effects.
Riveting, pacy and insightful, The Push certainly packs a punch. It is a story that feels both shocking and sadly familiar and I think it will resonate with many people as every mother’s nightmare come true. I am still in awe that this is the author’s debut novel and can’t wait to read more from her in the future.
Ashley Audrain is a Canadian writer. During a July 2019 interview with the Toronto Star Audrain described her debut novel, The Push, as a “psychological drama told through the lens of motherhood.” Prior to turning her hand to writing, Audrain was publicity director for the publisher Penguin Canada. Instagram|Twitter
Published: January 7th, 2021 Publisher: Allen & Unwin Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audio Genre: Contemporary Fiction, Urban Fiction
Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for this wonderful debut. Thank you to Allen & Unwin for the gifted ARC and Anne at Random Things Tours for the invitation to take part.
Mona and Wolfie have lived on Victoria Park for over fifty years. Now, on the eve of their sixty-fifth wedding anniversary, they must decide how to navigate Mona’s declining health. Bookended by the touching exploration of their love, Victoria Park follows the disparate lives of twelve people over the course of a single year. Told from their multiple perspectives in episodes which capture feelings of alienation and connection, the lingering memory of an acid attack in the park sends ripples of unease through the community. By the end of the novel, their carefully interwoven tales create a rich tapestry of resilience, love and loss.
With sharply observed insight into contemporary urban life, and characters we take to our hearts, Gemma Reeves has written a moving, uplifting debut which reflects those universal experiences that connect us all.
Victoria Park is a difficult book to review as it is just so different to anything I’ve read. It takes place over the course of a year, focusing on a different character each month and is more like a collection of short stories than a novel. Though it took me a little while to get into the flow of the book as I rarely read short stories, I really liked this fresh and unique approach and thought that the author executed it well.
We are only given a small glimpse into each character’s life as the author tells their stories via individual chapters. But we also see them a little through the eyes of other characters as she has chosen to focus these stories on a group of people whose lives are interwoven. She created a richly drawn community full of a compelling cast of varied characters. I had a soft spot for Wolfie and Mona in particular as they are such wonderful characters. I adored their love story and Wolfie’s devotion to Mona despite the challenges and was thrilled every time they were on the page.
The author also uses the book to subtly examine many themes such as family, friendship, love, isolation, alienation and adjusting to change. There are some powerful and emotional moments that mostly occur during times the characters are quietly reflecting on their lives.
Absorbing, funny and delightful, the book has an air of calm that made it a refreshing and relaxing read. I would highly recommend this remarkable debut.
MEET THE AUTHOR:
Gemma Reeves is a writer and teacher who lives and works in London. She graduated with distinction from the MA in Creative Writing at Bath Spa University and holds an MA in Twentieth Century Literature from Goldsmiths.
Welcome to the first Cozy Mysteries post of 2021. I apologise for this being a little late this month.
Guilt at the Garage (A Fethering Mystery Book 20) by Simon Brett
SYNOPSIS: When Carole Seddon’s car is vandalised, it heralds the start of a disturbing series of events in the witty and entertaining new Fethering mystery.
Carole Seddon’s trusty Renault is one of her most treasured possessions. So when it is vandalised, there’s only one person she will entrust with its repair: Bill Shefford has been servicing the vehicles of the good citizens of Fethering for many years. But how could something like this happen in Fethering of all places? Then the note is shoved under Carole’s kitchen door: Watch out. The car window was just the start. It would appear that she has been deliberately targeted. But by whom . and why? Matters take an even more disturbing turn when a body is discovered at Shefford’s Garage, crushed to death by a falling gearbox. It would appear to be a tragic accident. Carole and her neighbour Jude are not so sure. And the more they start to ask questions, the more evidence they uncover of decidedly foul play.
Published January 1st
Tall Tails Secret Book Club (The Secret Library Cozy Mysteries 1)by CeeCee James
SYNOPSIS: A mysterious mansion, a suspicious death, and a cat too smart for its own good…
When Laura Lee took the summer job as a housekeeper at the old Thornberry Estate, she knew it was a creepy place, but she had no idea how creepy. Mrs. Fitzwater warned her to keep her mind on her work and her nose in her own business, but one thing after another leads her astray, between the manor giving up its puzzles as she goes about her work, fun secrets to share with the clever ladies in her book club who are always up for a mystery, and a cat that seems to know more than she does.
The death of a chauffeur just outside the estate gates changes everything and suddenly creepy turns to deadly as Laura Lee finds herself in the middle of a murder investigation. When the police seem unable to solve the crime, can Laura Lee and her intrepid club find the killer before the killer finds Laura Lee?
Published January 2nd
Killer Comfort Food (A Farm-To-Fork Mystery Book 5) by Lynn Cahoon
SYNOPSIS: Angie Turner’s Idaho restaurant, the County Seat, is known and loved for its fresh food. For Angie, it’s also meant a fresh start. But when big agriculture comes to town–along with whispers of foul play–Angie could lose more than the farm . . .
A soybean processing plant is trying to buy up the land around the small farm Angie’s beloved Nona left her. If Angie doesn’t sell, she’ll be surrounded by the plant and the congestion that comes with it. On the other hand, it’s Nona’s farmhouse. What is Angie supposed to do without it? Move into a condo in town with Precious, Mabel, and Dom–respectively, a goat, chicken, and dog. Worse, a troubling rumor is circulating about the lawyer who’s heading up the development: His socialite wife seems to be missing. When Barb, owner of the local bar, asks Angie to look into the woman’s disappearance, she’s hesitant–until Barb reveals her surprising connection. Now it’s up to Angie to find the woman, uncover a shady plot, and hang onto her home–before she becomes a criminal’s final course
Published January 5th
Ghostly Wedding (A Harper Harlow Mystery Book 17) by Lily Harper Hart
SYNOPSIS: Harper Harlow and Jared Monroe fell in love fast and hard. Finally, their big day is here. They just need to solve a murder before they exchange their vows and take the next step to happily ever after. Peter Humphrey, an insurance salesman from a neighboring town, appeared to be minding his own business when a woman came out of nowhere and struck him down while he was crossing the street. Harper witnessed the accident and vows to solve the murder before it’s time to leave on her honeymoon. It might take more work than she realizes, though. Peter was a normal guy, a father who doted on his daughter and was friendly with his ex-wife, and yet somehow he had a secret. His ghost points Harper toward Montgomery Manor, toward a woman who suffered her own tragedy almost two decades before. On paper, Peter’s murder and the Montgomery tragedy shouldn’t be connected … and yet they are. It’s up to Jared and Harper to figure out how if they want to enjoy their wedding and what comes after … and they’re both determined to do it. Some things are meant to be. Harper and Jared believe their union is one of those things. Prepare yourselves, because this is one wedding you’ll never forget.
Published January 5th
The Bride Wore Black by Cornell Woolrich
SYNOPSIS: When the wealthy ladies’ man fell from his balcony in the midst of his engagement party, the police dismissed the death as the result of a freak accident. There was nothing to connect it with the poisoning of a lonely man in his squalid apartment, or with the married business-man killed after him, sealed into a closet and left to suffocate. No connection, that is, aside from the appearance of a beautiful woman in each case, just before the victims met their untimely ends.
Nobody knows her identity, where she comes from or whither she goes. Nor do they know why anyone would be targeting this series of seemingly-unrelated persons. But one police detective is convinced that the answers to these questions can save the lives of men who might be next on the list, men who will continue to die at a rapid rate unless he can solve the puzzle and intervene.
Cornell Woolrich’s first crime novel, The Bride Wore Black is the stylish, tense thriller that launched the career of “the supreme master of suspense” (New York Times). It was filmed by Francois Truffaut under the same title, and went on to inspire Quentin Tarantino’s Kill Bill movie.
Published January 5th
Long, Hot, Witchy Summer (A Moonstone Bay Cozy Mystery Book 7) by Amanda M. Lee
SYNOPSIS: Life couldn’t be going much better for Hadley Hunter. She’s living the dream on Moonstone Bay with her boyfriend Galen Blackwood, plotting her next move as a witch for hire, and basically basking in happiness. That all changes when a summer afternoon on the beach turns into a nightmare, an odd creature from the depths of the ocean surfacing and attacking Hadley on the beach. Her friend Lilac, a demon with a few issues, fights it off but it escapes … and becomes a problem for an island that bases its entire economy on tourism. The all-powerful DDA isn’t happy. Lilac’s hair refuses to stop glowing red. Booker is struggling to help all his friends. Essentially, things turn messy quickly. On top of that, Hadley’s father drops in out of nowhere and demands she return home. He’s not happy with what he hears about the island and decides it’s too dangerous for her to say. Hadley, of course, has other ideas and is determined to bring her father around to her way of thinking. Between monsters popping up out of nowhere and her father’s inability to stop freaking out, Hadley has her hands full. The monsters keep popping up in the oddest places, and always their attention is on Hadley. Monsters are nothing new for Hadley but the ones attacking now seem to be different. It’s up to Moonstone Bay’s newest witch and her motley crew of paranormal colleagues to solve a mystery and save the day. Again. They just have to survive to do it.
Published January 5th
High Treason at the Grand Hotel (A Fiona Figg Mystery) by Kelly Oliver
SYNOPSIS: Paris. 1917. Never underestimate the power of a good hat… or a sharp hatpin.
Sent by the War Office to follow the notorious Black Panther, file clerk turned secret agent Fiona Figg is under strict orders not to get too close and not to wear any of her usual “get-ups.”
But what self-respecting British spy can resist a good disguise?
Within hours of her arrival in Paris, Fiona is up to her fake eyebrows in missing maids, jewel thieves, double agents, and high treason.
When Fiona is found dressed as a bellboy holding a bloody paperknife over the body of a dead countess, it’s not just her career that’s on the block.
Her next date might be with Madame Guillotine.
Published January 5th
Persian Perpetrator (Marjorie’s Cozy Kitten Cafe Book 4) by Katherine Hayton
SYNOPSIS: Marjorie Hardaway is going stir-crazy. With the country under Level 4 lockdown, her entire world has shrunk to the size of a computer screen. Braden is stuck at the other end of the country and zoom meetings are very nice but they’re no substitute for a chest-crushing hug. Her few ventures into the community to exercise or deliver meals on wheels are the only opportunity for company—at a strict two-metre distance.
But when a regular meal client is found dead, Marjorie discovers how lucky she’s been. Better to have nobody knocking at the door than answer it to find a killer waiting on the front step.
With no other distractions on hand, the local community soon bands together (figuratively) to hunt down the person responsible. If they can’t innovate new ways to investigate, the murderer might get away with the purr-fect crime.
Published January 7th
Scry Harder (Mystic’s End Mysteries Book 7) by Leanne Leeds
SYNOPSIS: Can Fortuna uncover the spark that set off new drama in Mystic’s End? The end of the chaotic holiday season couldn’t come fast enough. Now that Gabe’s settled into a new career, the town has settled into relative normalcy, and Martin has accepted the fact that Fortuna won’t be jumping every time he makes a demand, the witch finally feels like she and Miss Bessie can focus on the magic secrets of the town she’s sure are hidden just below the surface.
But then the new town coffee shop goes up in flames—along with all her plans.
When victim Dalida Dodd hires Gabe to investigate the arson that set her business ablaze, Fortuna can’t help but worry that the newcomer isn’t being completely honest with the earnest detective. As Gabe is pulled further and further into Dalida’s drama, Fortuna has no choice but to dust off her crystal ball and help set things right.
Will Fortuna be able to douse the flames threatening to consume her friend Gabe? Or will her help expose too many secrets, threatening them all?
Published January 7th
Pawsitively Betrayed (A Witch of Edgehill Mystery Book 5) by Melissa Erin Jackson
SYNOPSIS: The Here and Meow Festival has finally arrived! Amber Blackwood and her fellow festival committee members still have plenty to do before the celebration of all things feline begins. Even though Amber’s witchy past keeps interfering, she knows the show must go on. Edgehill’s livelihood depends on the festival’s success.
When two incidents involving her malfunctioning products cause her to shutter the doors of her curiosity shop, The Quirky Whisker, only days before the busiest season of the year, Amber thinks things can’t get any worse. An investigation into the incidents reveals sabotage is to blame—sabotage that only could have been carried out by a fellow witch. Things just officially got worse.
With Edgehill overrun by tourists, any unfamiliar face could be a member of the nefarious Penhallow witch family. Though her parents’ grimoires are hidden in a remote location overlaid with protective spells, Amber fears that won’t be enough to deter the desperate and cursed clan from trying to get their hands on a legendary time-travel spell.
As the opening ceremony of the Here and Meow approaches, Amber contends with a nosy lawyer, mysterious government officials, and a charismatic superstar. Through it all, Amber senses the Penhallows have something planned—something big. With her new circle of close confidants by her side, Amber must find a way to thwart the Penhallow family’s scheme before it’s too late. If she can’t, the Here and Meow will be ruined … and Edgehill could be wiped off the map.
Published January 10th
The Witching Flour (Spellford Cove Mystery Series Book 1) by Samantha Silver
SYNOPSIS: Welcome to Spellford Cove, where the baking is sweet and the witches are wild.
Robin Carter’s life is less than stellar. All she has going for her are a minimum-wage job she hates, an uncanny ability to attract the biggest losers on her dating app, and a raccoon sitting in her kitchen sink eating her chips. So, when she finds out she’s inherited a bakery in a small Washington town, Robin thinks this might just be the fresh start she desperately needs. Upon her arrival, however, Robin finds out she’s inherited more than just a small business: she’s also got her mother’s magical powers.
However, things start going south for Robin when a man dies at the local diner just after her arrival in town and she’s fingered as the prime suspect. With half the town thinking she’s a killer, Robin decides to take matters into her own hands. But between a ghost who desperately needs therapy, a snarky familiar who loves to quote literature, and a grandmother who walks to the beat of her own drum, Robin really has her hands full.
Will she be able to navigate this new reality and find the killer, or will she crumble like an overcooked brownie?
This is the first book in the Spellford Cove paranormal cozy mystery series.
Published January 10th
Southern Jinxed (Sweet Tea Witch Mysteries Book 18) by Amy Boyles
SYNOPSIS: So far, Pepper Reign’s second trimester is smooth sailing. That is until the proverbial crap hits the fan. A rogue werewolf is on the loose and it has got its sights set on Pepper, wanting to make her its next meal.But help is on the way. The werewolves of Clan Reign have recently lost their king. That means Axel is their new alpha–which makes Pepper their new queen. That’s a lot for a gal to deal with while expecting a baby. On top of that, it looks like love is in the air. Grandma Betty has her sights set on one of the werewolves in Clan Reign and she’s even changing her appearance to make him like her.But even with all the good werewolves around, the dangerous one’s attacks on Pepper become more frequent and violent, and no one can seem to catch him. Can they catch the werewolf before it hurts Pepper or will she become its next meal?
Published January 10th
Sins & Needles: A Knitorious Murder Mystery Book 7 by Reagan Davis
SYNOPSIS: When the annual book fair comes to town, life is stranger than fiction!
Harmony Lake buzzes with excitement when world-famous author and avid needle felter, Claire Rivera, attends our annual book fair.
But excitement turns to sadness when Claire is found dead from a freak accident with a felting needle.
And sadness turns to suspicion when the police determine that Claire’s seemingly accidental death is actually murder.
When another world-famous author, who happens to be my father, rockets to number one on the suspect list, I take a stab at finding the real killer.
Can I find out whodunit before my father gets stuck taking the blame?
I hope so, but with no shortage of suspects, finding the killer is like looking for a felting needle in a haystack.
Published January 11th
The Legacy (Tipperary Carriage Company Mystery Book 5) by J. A Whiting
SYNOPSIS: It’s March and St. Patrick’s Day is fast approaching bringing lots of business for the carriage company. Mae Monahan needs one more horse and her friend, Ross is helping her find the right one. After driving the grand marshal in a St. Patrick’s Day parade, an aggressive reporter accosts the former colonel about his time overseas leading troops. Soon Mae, Ross, and the horses are pulled into a mystery involving the old colonel, the reporter, and a horse farm. Will the colonel’s legacy be destroyed by someone with a murderous grudge or will Mae figure out what’s going on in time to save the man’s reputation?
Published January 11th
In Charm’s Way (Hex Falls Paranormal Cozy Mystery #5) by Rachel Rivers
SYNOPSIS: A rival designer arrives in town, bent on stealing Violet’s business. It’s a case of two ghouling designers. Will it be a fight to the death?
It’s a witchly case of ghoulish duelling designers, when rival interior designer Cookie Castleman shows up in town, and sets her sights on taking over Violet’s territory.
Between wooing Violet’s clientele and plagiarizing her designs, not to mention, playing up to Sotherby—the ghostly host of Murder Manor—Violet’s about to off Cookie herself. But somebody beats her to it.
Published January 11th
Dead in the Dining Room (A Moorecliff Manor Cat Cozy Mystery Book 1) by Leighann Dobbs
SYNOPSIS: When the patriarch of Moorecliff Manor drops dead at dinner, it’s up to Aunt Araminta and her Siamese cats Arun and Sasha to uncover the identity of the killer. It will be no easy task, as there is no shortage of suspects… including the butler. But Araminta soon finds herself with more questions than answers. What was the mysterious phone call about? Who has been removing heirlooms and why? How did they manage to get poison into Archie’s dinner and not poison everyone at the table? Who was the mystery man that Daisy met in the garden? And why does Harold, the butler, never answer the door? As Araminta and the cats follow the clues, it becomes clear that she will have a hard decision to make because the clues are pointing in one unmistakable direction – someone in the Moorecliff family is a cold-blooded killer.
Published January 12th
Laying Bones (A Texas Red River Mystery) by Reavis Z. Wortham
SYNOPSIS: The stakes don’t get much higher than murder…
It’s January 1969 in the small rural community of Center Springs, Texas. Constable Ned Parker suspects a larger mystery behind the seemingly accidental death of his nephew, R .B., who was found in his overturned pickup near Sanders Creek bridge. It appears that R. B. drowned in the shallow water, but something doesn’t add up for Ned, who begins turning over stones in search of what really happened the night R. B. died.
The mystery leads Ned to the Starlite Club, a dangerous honky-tonk recently constructed in a no-man’s land on the Lone Star side of the Red River. His investigations there uncover suspicious characters, drugs, and gambling, but even more troubling are a series of murders that seem designed to eliminate anyone who might know what really happened to R. B. on that cold January night.
As he works his way through the cover-up, Ned lands himself in a high-stakes game of consequences with no good end in sight. Are the good citizens of Center Springs conspiring against Constable Parker in his search for the truth?
In this thrilling addition to the historical Texas Red River Mystery Series, Constable Ned Parker bets big, but only time will tell if he’ll win justice or a grave of his own.
Published January 12th
Bryant & May: Oranges and Lemons (A Peculiar Crimes Unit Mystery) by Christopher Fowler
SYNOPSIS: When a prominent politician is crushed by a fruit van making a delivery, the singular team of Arthur Bryant and John May overcome insurmountable odds to reunite the PCU and solve the case in this brainy new mystery from acclaimed author Christopher Fowler.
On a spring morning in London’s Strand, the Speaker of the House of Commons is nearly killed by a van unloading oranges and lemons for the annual St. Clement Danes celebration. It’s an absurd near-death experience, but the government is more interested in investigating the Speaker’s state of mind just prior to his accident. The task is given to the Peculiar Crimes Unit–the only problem being that the unit no longer exists. Its chief, Raymond Land, is tending his daffodils on the Isle of Wight and senior detectives Arthur Bryant and John May are out of commission–May has just undergone surgery for a bullet wound and Bryant has been missing for a month. What’s more, their old office in King’s Cross is being turned into a vegetarian tapas bar. Against impossible odds, the team is reassembled and once again what should be a simple case becomes a lunatic farrago involving arson, suicide, magicians, academics and a race to catch a killer with a master plan involving London churches. Joining their team this time is Sidney, a young woman with no previous experience, plenty of attitude–and a surprising secret.
SYNOPSIS: Mrs. Jeffries always keeps her friends close and now must keep an enemy even closer if she is going to catch a killer. . . .
Inspector Nigel Nivens is not a nice man or a good investigator. In fact, he’s terrible at his job and has always done everything he can to make life difficult for Inspector Witherspoon. But even his powerful family can’t help him after he maliciously tried to hobble Witherspoon’s last homicide investigation. He’s been sent to a particularly difficult precinct in the East End of London as penance.
When a paid informant is found shot in an alley, Nivens thinks that if he can crack the case, he’ll redeem himself and have a much-needed chance at impressing his superiors. But there’s one big problem with his plan–Niven’s distinct antique pistol is found at the scene of the crime and even more evidence is uncovered that links the Inspector to the murder.
Despite their mutual dislike for Nivens, Mrs. Jeffries and Inspector Witherspoon know the man isn’t a cold-blooded killer. Now they’ll just have to prove it. . . .
Published January 12th
Continenal Riff: The Stockwell Park Orchestra series (Book 3) by Isabel Rogers
SYNOPSIS: A continental tour of Europe doesn’t go quite as planned!
When Stockwell Park Orchestra goes on tour to Europe, it proves a challenge for even the most efficient German logistical planner.
A teenage stowaway, brass players falling in canals and a sabotaged timpani van are all in a day’s work for Ingrid Bauer of Note Perfect Tours, but even she can’t solve all the problems this week throws at her. Maybe a bit of surprise Bach can calm the muddy Brexit waters.
She just has to fish out the musicians first.
Published January 12th
A Curious Incident (A Sherlock Holmes Bookshop Mystery) by Vicki Delany
SYNOPSIS: ‘I am not a Consulting Detective,’ Gemma Doyle reluctantly tells 10-year-old Lauren Tierney, when the little girl comes to the Sherlock Holmes Bookshop and Emporium to beg Gemma to find her missing cat, Snowball. Gemma might not be able to follow the clues to find the cat, but her dog Violet follows her nose to locate the missing kitten in a neighbor’s garden shed. Gemma and Violet proudly return Snowball to her grateful owner, and Gemma basks in praise for a job well done. But a few days later Lauren is back with ten dollars in hand, wanting to once again hire a consulting detective, and this time for a far bigger job: Her mother has been accused of murdering her garden club rival. Sheila Tierney’s garden, which everyone said was the one to beat for the West London Garden Club trophy, had been vandalized the night before the club’s early summer tour. Sheila confronted her former friend and gardening partner Anna Wentworth in a towering rage, and the women nearly came to blows. Later that night, after having won the trophy for best garden, Anna is found murdered and Sheila Tierney is the police’s prime suspect. Despite herself, and despite the disapproval of her police detective boyfriend Ryan Ashburton, the game is once again afoot, and Gemma finds herself and Jayne Wilson using their powers of deduction to ponder yet another curious incident.
Published January 14th
Murder on the Menu (A Nosey Parker Cozy Mystery) by Fiona Leitch
SYNOPSIS: The first book in a NEW cosy 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, realising 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?
Published January 15th
Murder Afloat: A Lottie Lindberg 1920s Cozy Mystery by Rachel Rivers
SYNOPSIS: An unsinkable ship. The trip of a lifetime. An unexpected iceberg. MURDER.
Charlotte (Lottie) Lindberg boards the Titanic for the trip of a lifetime and gets much more than she bargained for. Once aboard, Lottie meets and befriends a young Primrose Kensington, who is traveling with her betrothed—a fiancé she is not particularly fond of, but hopes to grow to love. Lottie is not unfamiliar with the concept of arranged marriages—though hers had been true love, and cut short by tragedy. The two young women spend much time together, frolicking about the ship and partaking in its many splendours, discovering they have much in common—including their love of murder mysteries—until disaster strikes.
Unable to sleep, Lottie takes an evening stroll around the upper deck, when she spots something nefarious afoot. Daughter of a retired government spy, her sleuthing instincts kick in when, there, in the shadows, at the bow of the ship, a scuttle is taking place between two gentlemen, over something very sparkly. Next thing she knows, disaster strikes, and poor Lottie realizes her curiosity may have just made her witness to murder. Lottie scurries back to her quarters, only to be woken a short time later by a frantic Prim, who swears she’s seen a sizeable iceberg scrape past her porthole window. She is also unable to locate Thaddeus, her betrothed, who strangely has not come back from playing cards. But what she has discovered is… an enormous gemstone lurking among his things.
It is a run for their lives, through the true terror of Titanic’s sinking, with a murderer hot on their heels. Will the girls escape his clutches in time to reach a lifeboat?
Published January 16th
Mind-Bending Murder (Merry Wrath Mysteries Book 17)by Leslie Langtry
SYNOPSIS: Former CIA agent and current suburbanite Merry Wrath knows she’s having a bad day when she wakes up wearing someone else’s clothes in a locked room with a dead body and a dozen copies of the book, Boats of the Midwest. It doesn’t help matters any when the police burst in and arrest her on the spot for the murder of a man she’s never heard of. With an unimpeachable witness placing her at the scene of the crime, her Girl Scout troop trying to bust her out of jail, and a sister-in-law who’s launched a one-woman campaign to send her to prison, Merry knows that this time she’s in trouble.And Merry finds it’s tough to clear your name when you’re being followed by a wannabe bounty hunter who’s chasing you down and dealing with a group of teenage druids who have just bought a hearse and an old church they call The Chapel of Despair. Added to her trouble are a couple of tattoo artists with a creepy fixation on Lance Armstrong, a witness who works at the Pump & Pawn pawnshop/gym, and most of the town of Bladdersly, Iowa.Can Merry solve this locked room mystery before she ends up locked in a cell?
Published January 19th
Pets, Paws and Poisons (A Cumberpatch Cove Mystery Book 4) by Nola Robertson
SYNOPSIS: How dangerous can an amateur pet show be?
Rylee is about to find out after she enters her cat Barley in a local costume competition. When a trail of powdery paw prints leads her to the scene of the judge’s death, she soon finds herself in the middle of another mystery with a spirit in desperate need of her help.
Not only does Rylee discover there’s more to the world of show animals than cute and furry faces, but she stumbles across some clues that suggest the cause of death for her newest ghostly visitor might be enchanted in nature.
With time running out and magical forces at work, will Rylee and her friends be able to find the killer in time to compete in the show?
Published January 19th
The Broken Spine (A Beloved Bookroom Mystery) by Dorothy St. James
SYNOPSIS: The first in an exciting new series featuring Trudell Becket, a spunky librarian who will stop at nothing to save her beloved books and catch a killer!
Trudell Becket, book-loving librarian, finds herself in a bind when the library where she works is turned into a state-of-the-art bookless library. In a rare move of rebellion, Trudell rescues hundreds of her library’s beloved books slated for the recycle center. She sets up a secret book room in the library’s basement and opens it to anyone who shares her love of the printed book.
When the town councilman, who was the vocal proponent of the library’s transformation into a “futuristic technological center,” is crushed under an overturned shelf of DVDs, Trudell becomes the police’s prime suspect for his murder. She was the only person in the library at the time of his death, or so the police believe. But that’s not true. For the past month, Trudell had been letting a few dozen residents into the building through the basement entrance so they could read and check out the printed books.
But if she tells the police about the backdoor patrons who were in the library at the time of the murder, she’d have to explain about the secret book room and risk losing the books. In order to protect herself from being arrested for a murder she didn’t commit, Trudell–with the help of a group of dedicated readers–decides to investigate. She quickly discovers you can’t always judge a book by its cover.
Published January 19th
A Deadly Discovery (An Allie Cobb Mystery #4) by J. C. Kenney
SYNOPSIS: Certain she’s seen more than enough death for one lifetime, literary agent Allie Cobb is ready to close the book on her amateur sleuthing, even when she learns that an unidentified body has been unearthed in a local state park. But when a worn and haunted-looking woman shows up on her doorstep with a grim story about her young daughter’s disappearance twenty years ago—and the police confirm that the recently discovered body is hers—Allie can’t bear to turn the poor woman away.
Determined to uncover the truth about the young woman’s murder, Allie begins delving into the circumstances of her life and those she knew so many years before. And when she meets powerful resistance from those she questions—many of whom are now trusted leaders in her small, tight-knit community—she’s sure she’s on the right track. But as she narrows down the list of suspects, Allie realizes too late that a cold-blooded killer is dead-set on keeping the secrets of the past buried, and it will take all her wit and cunning to avoid becoming the second young woman to meet an untimely end . . .
Published January 19th
Out of Hounds (Sister Jane 13) by Rita Mae Brown
SYNOPSIS: “Sister” Jane Arnold and her hounds must sniff out a thief with expensive taste when a string of missing paintings leads to murder in this exciting foxhunting mystery from New York Times bestselling author Rita Mae Brown.
Spring is peeking through the frost in Virginia, and though the hunting season is coming to a close, the foxes seem determined to put the members of the Jefferson Hunt Club through their paces. Sister and her friends are enjoying some of the best chases they’ve had all season when the fun is cut short by the theft of Crawford Howard’s treasured Sir Alfred Munnings painting of a woman in hunting attire riding sidesaddle. When another painting goes missing five days later–also a Munnings, also of a woman hunting sidesaddle–Sister Jane knows it’s no coincidence. Someone is stealing paintings of foxhunters from foxhunters. But why? Perhaps it’s a form of protest against their sport. For the hunt club isn’t just under attack from the thief. Mysterious signs have started to appear outside their homes, decrying their way of life. stop foxhunting: a cruel sport reads one that appears outside Crawford’s house, not long after his painting goes missing. no hounds barking shows up on the telephone pole outside Sister’s driveway. Annoying, but relatively harmless. Then Delores Buckingham, retired now but once a formidable foxhunter, is strangled to death after her own Munnings sidesaddle painting is stolen. Now Sister’s not just up against a thief and a few obnoxious signs–she’s on the hunt for a killer.
Published January 19th
Bargain Hunting (Southern Relics Cozy Mysteries Book 5) by Bella Falls
SYNOPSIS: A little sweet tea and a whole lot of spells won’t always put out the fire…
Ruby Mae Jewell’s relationship with her vampire boyfriend has haunted her ever since meeting his family. Her fiery moods have been pushing everybody away. But when a little ghost problem turns into a possible big disaster that could affect her dead-but-not-yet departed family members, she has to rally as much help as she can get.
When all looks lost, a pretty young witch shows up out of the blue and offers her services. There’s more than just her similar flaming red hair that bothers Rue about the supposed ghost wrangler. If Ruby Mae pushes too hard to find out more about the newcomer, she could risk the only hope she has to save all the ghostly Jewell family members.
Will the truth be worth the loss?
Published January 21st
The Dance of the Serpents: The Brand New Frey & McGray Mystery (A Frey & McGray Mystery)by Oscar de Muriel
SYNOPSIS: December, 1889. There have been many bad days in Edinburgh police’s secret subdivision ‘The Commission for the Elucidation of Unsolved Cases Presumably Related to the Odd and Ghostly’.But today is surely the worst.Because the exiled English Inspector Ian Frey, and his Scottish boss ‘Nine-Nails’ McGray are summoned to a meeting in the middle of the night with the Prime Minister himself.And he tells them that Queen Victoria – the most powerful person in the world – wants them both dead.To be pardoned they must embark on a mission so dangerous that they might be saving Her Majesty the job of executing them. Because this case ties together the dark history of the Pendle witches, with the tragic case of McGray own sister, to a conspiracy within the highest office in the land…
Published January 21st
Murder in the Churchyard (A Tommy & Evelyn Christie Mystery Book 3) by Catherine Coles
SYNOPSIS: Downton Abbey crossed with Murder, She Wrote…set in a Yorkshire village!
When the body of Isolde Newley’s long lost husband is found in the grounds of St Augustus churchyard, suspicion falls on Isolde and everyone close to her – especially her new love interest, the dashing Dr Mainwaring.
The mystery is exacerbated by the largest snowfall seen in North Yorkshire for years. No one can get in – or out – of the village.
It will take all of Tommy & Evelyn Christie’s sleuthing powers to clear their friends and find the murderer before the police arrive from York.
If you enjoy the glamour of bygone eras like 1920s Downton Abbey and gentle, cozy mysteries set in the English countryside then you will love this new series.
Published January 22nd
Now and Then Stab (A Francis Bacon Mystery Book 7) by Anna Castle
SYNOPSIS: Spring, 1593. A ballad is posted in the heart of London inciting violence. The Lord Mayor offers one hundred crowns for the name of the author. Thomas Clarady wants that money and drags Francis Bacon into the game. At first it’s just a riddle to be solved. Tom talks to poets, while Francis analyzes the verse.
Things take a dangerous turn when the authorities focus on two popular playmakers. One is cruelly tortured. Another is killed in dubious circumstances. Did he start a brawl that ended in tragedy? Or was he murdered by his dinner companions? The official story seems plausible, at first. But Tom doesn’t buy it. Distraught at the death of his friend, he refuses stop digging, uncovering a plot he should have left buried.Francis Bacon and his team hazard their lives and reputations to determine the truth. Whether justice can ever be obtained is another matter.
Published January 22nd
Murder at Midnight: A Violet Carlyle Historical Mystery (The Violet Carlyle Mysteries Book 28) by Beth Byers
SYNOPSIS: January 1927
New Year’s has arrived and Vi has resolutions. Her friends have faced something they never expected, and they’re all a little fragile. Determined to help her family, Vi brings them all together.No one is even startled when they come across a body. But maybe, for once, something good can come from such an event. Maybe, they’ll find their peace along with a killer.
Book TWENTY-EIGHT in the Violet Carlyle Mysteries. Are you ready for the roaring twenties? You’ll love Vi, her patient husband Jack, her indulgent twin Vic, and their friends. For fans of Carola Dunn, Jacqueline Winspear, Georgette Heyer, and Lee Strauss. A light, cozy mystery with a fun peek into life in the life of a bright young thing. No swearing, graphic scenes, or cliffhangers.
Published January 24th
You’ve Got Spells (Witching Hour Book 4)by Christine Zane Thomas
SYNOPSIS: An owl with secrets…
Or so Constance thinks. She’s having trouble convincing anyone else otherwise.
When two bodies are found on the vineyard property, Constance and Dave make a startling discovery. The timeline of the two deaths is off… by a few decades.
The first died a whole lot more recently than the other. Dave unearths—literally—a cold case from decades past, which only brings more questions.
Is someone using necromancy to do their dirty work? And can Constance and her friends stop them before they become the targets?
It’s the holiday season in Creel Creek, Virginia. And it’s full of mystery, romance, and surprises.
Published January 26th
Vengeance in Little Leaf (A Little Leaf Cozy Mystery Book 5)by Cindy Bell
SYNOPSIS: Living in the country comes with a stubborn next-door neighbor, a mischievous dog, and a puzzling murder…
Cassie Alberta is settling into life in Little Leaf Creek. She has made some good friends, has a romantic interest and is moving on from the death of her husband. She loves living in the small town next to two naughty goats and a cheeky Collie mix. The Little Leaf Creek locals are excited to be hosting a hot air balloon festival. But everything comes crashing down when someone ends up dead.
Cassie partners with her aloof ex-cop next-door neighbor to try and find the killer. But have they bitten off more than they can chew? The list of suspects is sky high and they find themselves in turbulent territory.
Can Cassie catch the killer before they float away?
Recipe included: Orange Bundt cake
Published January 26th
Death Bee Comes Her (An Oregon Honeycomb Mystery) by Nancy Coco
SYNOPSIS: Nancy Coco, author of the popular Candy-Coated Mystery series, brings the Pacific Northwest’s rainy coast to life with her new Oregon Honeycomb Mystery series starring Wren Johnson and her Havana Brown cat, Everett. Wren owns a specialty shop in the tourist town of Oceanview, where it’s all things honey from taffy to body scrub until the murder of a victim clutching one of Wren’s homemade beeswax lip balms makes things sticky…
A BALMY WAY TO GO With her Let It Bee honey boutique buzzing along nicely, life is as sweet as nectar for Wren Johnson–until she takes a morning walk along the Pacific beach with her Havana Brown cat, Everett, and stumbles upon the body of Agnes Snow, the cranky queen of the local craft fairs, stiff as driftwood. More unfortunate? Clutched in the victim’s fist is a label from Wren’s homemade beeswax-and-honey lip balm. Which makes Officer Jim Hampton focus his dreamy-blue Paul Newman eyes on Wren as suspect number one. With fabulous feline support from Everett, Wren must comb the town for clues and clear her name before someone else gets stung.
Published January 26th
A Glimmer of Death (An Odessa Jones Mystery) by Valerie Wilson Wesley
SYNOPSIS: In the first of a thrilling new series, one woman’s extraordinary psychic gift plunges her already-troubled present into chaos–and puts her future in someone’s deadly sights… Until now, Odessa Jones’ inherited ability to read emotions and foretell danger has protected her. But second sight didn’t warn her she would soon be a widow–and about to lose her home and the catering business she’s worked so hard to build. The only things keeping Dessa going are her love for baking and her sometimes-mellow cat, Juniper. Unfortunately, putting her life back together means taking a gig at an all-kinds-of-shady real estate firm run by volatile owner Charlie Risko… Until Charlie is brutally killed–and Dessa’s bullied co-worker is arrested for murder. Dessa can’t be sure who’s guilty. But it doesn’t take a psychic to discover that everyone from Charlie’s much-abused staff to his long-suffering younger wife had multiple reasons to want him dead. And as Dessa follows a trail of lies through blackmail, dead-end clues, and corruption, she needs to see the truth fast–or a killer will bury her deep down with it.
Published January 26th
A Cat on the Case(A Witch Cats of Cambridge Mystery) by Clea Simon
SYNOPSIS: When a panicked stranger shows up at Charm and Cherish, Becca Colwin feels compelled to help. But when that stranger then disappears, leaving behind her heirloom violin the aspiring witch detective is drawn further into a web of deceit and intrigue complicated by a history that only Becca’s three magical cats truly understand.
Published January 26th
One Poison Pie (Kitchen Witch Mystery) by Lynn Cahoon
SYNOPSIS: What’s a kitchen witch to do when her almost-fiancé leaves her suddenly single and unemployed? For Mia Malone, the answer’s simple: move to her grandmother’s quirky Idaho hometown, where magic is an open secret and witches and warlocks are (mostly) welcome. With a new gourmet dinner delivery business–and a touch of magic in her recipes–Mia’s hopes are high. Even when her ex’s little sister, Christina, arrives looking for a place to stay, Mia takes it in stride. But her first catering job takes a distasteful turn when her client’s body is found, stabbed and stuffed under the head table. Mia’s shocked to learn that she’s a suspect–and even more so when she realizes she’s next on a killer’s list. With Christina, along with Mia’s meddling grandma, in the mix, she’ll have to find out which of the town’s eccentric residents has an appetite for murder…before this fresh start comes to a sticky end…
Published January 26th
The Mystery of the Hawke Sapphires (Charles Dickens Investigations Book 7) by J. C. Briggs
SYNOPSIS: Dickens faces a decades-old disappearance, a brutal murder and a missing link…
London, 1851. On his deathbed, the sinister Sir Gerald Hawke asks a distant cousin — Reverend Meredith Case — to find Sapphire, his long-lost ward and heir to the Hawke family jewels.
Concerned for her welfare, Meredith vows to discover where Sapphire disappeared to.
Meanwhile, Felix Gresham — a young man with literary ambitions — is found murdered on the steps of a bookshop. As an acquaintance of the Gresham family, novelist Charles Dickens once again teams up with Superintendent Sam Jones to investigate the murder.But in his quest for the truth, Dickens finds that those associated with Felix are reluctant to talk.
And when he is called on to assist with the search for the Hawke heir, he begins to wonder whether the two cases could be connected…
What became of Sapphire Hawke? What secrets did Felix take to his grave? And can Dickens find the link between the two mysteries…?
Published January 26th
Ink and Shadows (A Witty & Page-Turning Southern Cozy Mystery) by Ellery Adams
SYNOPSIS: Nora Pennington is known for her window displays, and as Halloween approaches, she decides to showcase fictional heroines like Roald Dahl’s Matilda and Madeline Miller’s Circe. A family-values group disapproves of the magical themes, and wastes no time launching a modern-day witch hunt. Suddenly, former friends and customers are targeting not only Nora and Miracle Books, but a new shopkeeper, Celeste, who’s been selling CBD oil products. Nora and her friends in the Secret, Book, and Scone Society are doing their best to put an end to the strife–but then someone puts an end to a life. Though the death is declared an accident, the ruling can’t explain the old book page covered with strange symbols and disturbing drawings left under Nora’s doormat, a postcard from an anonymous stalker, or multiple cases of vandalism. The only hope is that Nora can be a heroine herself and lead the Secret, Book, and Scone Society in a successful investigation–before more bodies turn up and the secrets from Celeste’s past come back to haunt them all…
Published January 26th
A Tourist’s Guide to Murder (A Mystery Bookshop Mystery) by V.M. Burns
SYNOPSIS: Author, amateur sleuth, and bookstore owner Samantha Washington finds herself on a tragical mystery tour while visiting the land of Miss Marple and Sherlock Holmes in the sixth Mystery Bookshop Series installment from V.M. Burns.
Sam joins Nana Jo and her Shady Acres Retirement Village friends Irma, Dorothy, and Ruby Mae on a weeklong trip to London, England, to experience the Peabody Mystery Lovers Tour. The chance to see the sights and walk the streets that inspired Agatha Christie and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle is a dream come true for Sam–and a perfect way to celebrate her new publishing contract as a mystery author. But between visits to Jack the Ripper’s Whitechapel district and 221B Baker Street, Major Horace Peabody is found dead, supposedly of natural causes. Despite his employer’s unfortunate demise, the tour guide insists on keeping calm and carrying on–until another tourist on their trip also dies under mysterious circumstances. Now it’s up to Sam and the Shady Acres ladies to mix and mingle among their fellow mystery lovers, find a motive, and turn up a murderer…
Published January 26th
Murder at Mabel’s Motel (A Granny Reid Mystery) by G. A. McKevett
SYNOPSIS: Stella “Granny” Reid’s youth wasn’t the only thing changed by time in tiny, nondescript McGill, Georgia. Except even back in the 1980s, the Southern town still had a way of attracting downright dubious characters—some with a talent for murder.
As quirky as McGill’s residents can be, they usually welcome society’s oddballs and outcasts into the community with open arms. But the three members of the Lone White Wolf Pack are a different story. Townsfolk aren’t feeling the least bit neighborly toward the ignorant gang widely believed to have orchestrated several hate crimes in the area . . .
When the small group’s irredeemable leader, Billy Ray Sonner, is found dead in an abandoned motel, most assume it was the result of an accidental overdose. An unfortunate yet predictable end for a man who lived the way Billy did. Only Stella and the sheriff have witnessed the crime scene in person, and the smell of cyanide means something more disturbing happened in that ramshackle room. Something like homicide . . .
While Stella wades through a flood of suspects, uncovered secrets link both Billy’s closest allies and respected locals to the incident. One thing is certain—this wasn’t an impulsive act of revenge. There’s a sophisticated killer on the loose, and Stella must expose deep-rooted fears and dark pasts if she wants to crack a carefully planned murder and stop McGill from descending into chaos.
Published January 26th
Death by Intermission (An Abby McCree Mystery) by Alexis Morgan
SYNOPSIS: Abby McCree spends a summer showing family films under the stars—only to end the season with an unexpected slasher flick . . .
Ushered once again onto another committee by the mayor of Snowberry Creek, Washington, Abby is tasked with keeping the box office receipts of the town’s Movies in the Park nights. Cut to the director’s chair from where she’s suddenly organizing the summer’s last feature. From the opening scene through the final credits, Abby feels she’s earned nominations for best volunteer, best movie date with her tenant Tripp Blackston—and best daughter for ignoring her mother Phoebe’s own movie date with Owen Quinn.
Unfortunately, Abby and the others are treated to a post-credits scene: the body of local insurance agent Mitchell Anders. This discovery is followed by a plot twist revealing that the murder weapon comes from Owen’s food truck. With her mother’s boyfriend suspected of murder, Abby starts her own investigation determined to shine a spotlight on the real killer . . .
Published January 26th
Claw & Disorder (A Cat Groomer Mystery) by Eileen Watkins
SYNOPSIS: Expert groomer Cassie McGlone knows how to handle even the feistiest of felines, but their owners are a different tale . . .
Around the quaint town of Chadwick, New Jersey, are two families in need of Cassie’s help. Wealthy perfectionist Gillian Foster is orchestrating the restoration of her family’s nineteenth-century home and wants her purebred Himalayan, Leya, boarded at Cassie’s Comfy Cats. Meanwhile, the elderly Tillmans are in dire straits, hoarding possessions and a clowder of cats in their run-down house. Perhaps Cassie can persuade the couple to surrender a few of their furry friends. Unfortunately, neither task is cut and dried . . .
Mrs. Tillman is mysteriously asphyxiated in the night, and suspicion falls on her husband—and their cats. Meanwhile, the Fosters host a banquet for the local historical society, and when one of their guests falls gravely ill Gillian is convinced someone is out to get her. After a second death occurs, it’s clear a killer isn’t pussyfooting around. Now it’s up to Cassie to get these houses in order before disaster pounces again . . .
Published January 26th
Irish Parade Murder (A Lucy Stone Mystery) by Leslie Meier
SYNOPSIS: Lucy Stone’s late-winter blues usually vanish by the time Tinker’s Cove goes green for its annual St. Patrick’s Day celebration. There’s just one wee problem that not even the luck of the Irish can fix–murder!
After returning from her father-in-law’s funeral in Florida, Lucy can almost hear the death knell of her part-time reporter job the instant she meets new hire Rob Callahan. He’s young, ambitious, and positioning himself to become the Pennysaver’s next star reporter. Adding insult to injury, Lucy only gets assigned the local St. Patrick’s Day parade once Rob passes on the story. But before beer flows and bagpipes sound, Rob becomes suspected of destroying more than other people’s careers… It’s a shock when Rob is suddenly charged with sending a corrections officer from town to a fiery death. Contrary to the evidence, Lucy seriously doubts her office rival committed murder, and she’s willing to follow that nagging hunch into the darkest corners of the community if it means shedding light on the truth… As an unnerving mystery unfolds, a strange woman reveals news that could change everything for Lucy and her family. Troubles in her personal and professional life are colliding, and Lucy comes to realize that she’ll sooner discover a four-leaf clover than confront a killer with the gift of the gab and live to tell about it…
Published January 26th
Death Comes to the Rectory (A Kurland St. Mary Mystery Book 8) by Catherine Lloyd
SYNOPSIS: In Catherine Lloyd’s eighth Regency-set Kurland St. Mary Mystery, murder casts a dark shadow over the christening of Major Sir Robert Kurland and Lady Lucy’s daughter Elizabeth–even more so when Lucy’s own father, the rector, falls under suspicion for the crime…
Lucy and Robert’s joy in christening their new daughter, surrounded by extended family and loved ones who have gathered in the village of Kurland St. Mary, is only enhanced when Robert’s aunt Rose–now the second wife of Lucy’s father Ambrose–announces that she is with child. However, not everyone is happy about the news, in particular Rose’s adult daughter Henrietta and her husband, who fear for their inheritance. Following the christening, Rose’s disagreeable son-in-law Basil Northam threatens to turn afternoon tea in the rectory into an unsightly brawl. The next morning, he is found in the rector’s study, stabbed through the heart with an antique letter opener, clutching a note that appears to implicate the rector himself. As the local justice of the peace, Robert has an obligation to remain unbiased in his investigation of the ghastly crime, even though his prime suspect is a man of the cloth and his wife’s father. But Lucy is under no such obligation. As snow traps the members of the christening party in Kurland St. Mary, she vows to clear her father’s name and bring the cold-blooded culprit to justice. Someone had better start saying their prayers…
Published January 26th
A Sinister Service (A Lady and Lady’s Maid Mystery Book 6) by Alyssa Maxwell
SYNOPSIS: A trip to Staffordshire for Lady Phoebe Renshaw and her lady’s maid, Eva Huntford, leads to murder in a famed pottery works . . .
Following the devastation of the Great War, England’s noble class takes comfort in honoring tradition. To celebrate their grandparents’ wedding anniversary, Lady Phoebe Renshaw and her siblings travel to Staffordshire to commission a china service bearing the Wroxly coat of arms from the venerated Crown Lily Potteries, a favorite of Queen Mary.
The two leading designers at the illustrious china manufacturer offer competing patterns. But when one of them is found dead—his body crushed in a grinding pan and his design pattern book missing—his rival is immediately suspected. The police are also suspicious of the dead designer’s resentful young son, a schoolmate of Phoebe’s fifteen-year-old brother Fox. When Fox gets involved to help his friend, Phoebe begins to investigate the rival artist.
At the same time, Eva is enlisted to go undercover at the works so she can gain the confidence of the female employees, who are only allowed to paint, not design, which may have led to a grudge against the victim. Pursuing a killer who has no compunction about using a kiln as a coffin, Phoebe and Eva take their lives into their hands to discover the shattering truth . . .
Published January 26th
Undercover Kitty(A Second Chance Cat Mystery) by Sofie Ryan
SYNOPSIS: Sarah Grayson and her capable cat, Elvis, go undercover in the newest installment of the New York Times bestselling Second Chance Cat Mysteries.
Sarah and Elvis can always be found at a charming secondhand shop in the village of North Harbor, Maine. Despite the small-town setting, the daring duo often find themselves wrapped up in murder, but luckily they have help–a quirky group of senior citizens runs an amateur detective agency called Charlotte’s Angels out of the store.
The Angels are hired to look into who is sabotaging cat shows in the state, and they decide the best way to do that is to send Elvis the cat undercover as a contestant. But then one of the cat show volunteers is murdered just before the latest competition, and Sarah and the Angels have to catch a killer in two shakes of a cat’s tail!
Published January 26th
Don’t Taco ‘Bout Murder (Mexican Mysteries Cozy Mystery Series Book 1) by Mona Marple
SYNOPSIS: Don’t Taco ‘Bout Murder! Emily Monk and Uncle Cornelius are off to Mexico, but this is no package holiday!
It’s the Day of the Dead festival, and Emily and Uncle C are joining the crowds at Janitzio Island, where the locals are honouring the dead with sugar skulls, marigolds and personalised altars.
But the pair can’t get too comfortable with the celebrations, as they befriend a local woman accused of having killed her husband. They believe that Maria is innocent, but when another person dies in the exact same way, clearing her name becomes a lot harder.
Can the unlikely sleuths find the real killer?
This is the first book in an exciting new cozy mystery series by popular author Mona Marple. This is a clean read with no bad language, on-page violence or sex.
Published January 28th
Egg Shooters (A Cackleberry Club Mystery) by Laura Childs
SYNOPSIS: Suzanne Dietz co-owner of the Cackleberry Club Cafe is visiting her fiancee, Dr. Sam Hazelet, when a masked gunman bursts into the emergency room. He shoots two people and would probably have done more damage had Suzanne not brained him with a thermos full of chili. Still, the gunman manages to escape. Now the ladies of the Cackleberry Club are determined to find the killer before he finds them.
Published January 28th
Inked Out: A Seaside Cottage Books Cozy Mystery (Snug Harbour Mysteries) by Karen MacInerney
SYNOPSIS: When fledgling bookseller Max Sayers agrees to host Snug Harbor, Maine’s new mystery writers’ group, she envisions filling Seaside Cottage Books with literary conversation, warm, fresh-baked cookies, and a community to support her assistant Bethany’s mystery writing dream. But the group has barely begun its inaugural meeting when local author Martha Crabtree accuses young Bethany of plagiarizing her novel. The next morning, Martha turns up a half mile from the bookstore, a letter opener plunged into her bony chest and her face covered in black ink. When police learn that an almost identical murder happened just last week–in Bethany’s unfinished murder mystery—Max’s beloved assistant rockets to the top of the suspect list.
As Max struggles to clear Bethany’s name, she discovers that some old roots in Snug Harbor run deeper–and are more twisted–than she ever dreamed possible. She soon uncovers a network of deceit that sprouted from a bad seed planted in the bookstore itself, almost a century earlier. But someone doesn’t like her digging. A rash of threatening anonymous phone calls–and a heavy inkwell hurled through the shop window, barely missing Max’s head–send a clear and deadly message. Back off… or else.
Can Max clear her assistant’s name in time? Or will she—and Seaside Cottage Books—be the killer’s next victim?
Published January 30th
Marvellous Mary Brown and the Mysterious Manhunt (MARY BROWN MYSTERIES Book 2) by Bernice Bloom
SYNOPSIS: This is the second Mary Brown Mystery Book…the follow up book to Mysterious Invitation. It can be read alone, but is best read after Marvellous Mary Brown and the Mysterious Invitation.Mysterious Manhunt continues the story, as Mary and the unlikely Mysterious Invitation crowd head off in search of a missing family. There are twists and turns and moments of madness. Featuring Juan Pablo on the stage, her boyfriend, Ted, in a fight and Mary Brown in the middle of it all, wondering what in the name of the lord she’s got herself all caught up in…Mary proves herself to be super sleuth extraordinaire as she finds the clues to help crack the code. But will it be enough?
Published January 30th
A Murder Mystery Cruise (A Rachel Prince Mystery Book 8) by Dawn Brookes
SYNOPSIS: When Rachel Prince accompanies Lady Marjorie on a cruise to the beautiful Norwegian Fjords a murder mystery party turns deadly…
Convinced there won’t be any murders on this cruise, the incorrigible Lady Marjorie books the two of them on an event involving a series of murder mystery dinner parties hosted by Murder Mystery Creations.
All is not what it seems within the mismatched cast nor within the group of guests attempting to solve an imaginary crime. When a member of the cast winds up dead, Rachel and Marjorie join forces once again to track down a cunning murderer who seems intent on removing anyone who stands in their way.
Published January 31st
Fruit Basket Upset (A Taylor Quinn Quilt Shop Mystery) by Tess Rothery
SYNOPSIS: She’s ready to reap the rewards of her hard work, but this harvest is a killer.
Though she’s still healing from serious injuries, Taylor Quinn’s heart is ripe with happiness. Business at Flour Sax Quilt Shop has blossomed in the early spring sun, and with it hope for the future of Comfort, Oregon. But the promise of the season is poisoned when she discovers a dead body.
Murder at the family strawberry farm uncovers a scandal she’d do anything to bury. But when her messy romantic life sullies both her investigation and her alibi, she’s going to have to dig deep to catch the killer.
Can Taylor pick the rotten fruit from this crop of suspects before she gets bagged for the crime?
Fruit Basket Upset is the sixth cozy in the heart-felt Taylor Quinn Quilt Shop Mystery Series. If you like witty dialogue, charming settings, and stitching together the truth, then you’ll love Tess Rothery’s page-turning whodunit.
Published January 31st
Bikinis and Murders (Barefoot Sleuth Mysteries Book 4) by H. Y. Hanna
SYNOPSIS: Join barefoot sleuth Ellie on her fourth adventure as she finds mystery and murder lurking among the swaying palm trees and white sand beaches of Gulf Coast Florida. When death strikes a bikini contest at her luxury beach resort, Ellie must use all her wits to find the killer. Help comes from Hemingway the parrot and Mojito the resort cat – not to mention her eccentric Aunt Olive – but Ellie also has other things on her mind. With her time in the Sunshine State coming to an end, she has to decide whether to follow her heart and let her “vacation fling” with handsome resort doctor Blake Thornton turn into something more…
Welcome to me stop on the blog tour for this compelling thriller. Thank you to Bookouture for the invitation to take part and the eBook ARC.
I will do anything to protect my daughter. She’s all I’ve ever wanted and all I really have, but the moment I opened that letter and accepted the inheritance, I walked us right into a dangerous trap.
I know I should have got her to tell me who she’s been talking to on the phone late at night, and where she was the day I went to pick her up from school and couldn’t find her, but she’s not spoken a word since she found that little pile of bones buried in the garden.
And now she’s missing…
A jaw-dropping, addictive and totally twisty psychological thriller that will have you sleeping with the light on! Perfect for anyone who loved The Girl on the Train, Friend Request or The Wife Between Us.
Single Mother is another first-rate thriller from Ms. Hayes. The intriguing prologue immediately draws you in and compels you to keep reading as you need to make sense of what you just read. Who was the woman? What – or who – was in the bag?
Single mum Mel will do anything to protect her daughter. Particularly from her abusive father Billy. She will sacrifice anything to make sure she’s safe. So when she loses her job, finds out Billy might have been released from prison and discovers she’s inherited a hotel from a mysterious benefactor all in the space of one day, she does the only thing she can do: move to the hotel where her ex can’t find them.
But once at Moreton Inn she finds it isn’t quite the sanctuary she’d hoped it would be. The hotel holds dark secrets and not everyone is pleased with her windfall. Once again Mel finds herself fighting to protect her daughter. But this time, the odds are life and death.
Samatha Hayes is one of those authors who I jump at the chance to take part in blog tours for as I know I am getting great quality writing, fascinating characters and a supercharged plot. She just keeps getting better and I think this could be her best book yet. Jaw-dropping, twisty and emotionally charged, it had me on the edge of my seat. And even though I guessed a lot of the twists, it didn’t dampen my enjoyment or mean this wasn’t still full of surprises.
Mel is a great character. As someone who was a single mother for many years and left an abusive ex, I saw a lot of myself in her and thought the author portrayed her as the perfect mix of feisty and determined yet vulnerable and afraid. She’s still dealing with the trauma from her abusive relationship and for me it was the small details that made it so realistic and resonate with me so much; things like finding joy in putting on body spray because her ex wouldn’t have allowed it. Even over a decade later, I will still find myself getting a kick from the fact I can do something my ex wouldn’t have allowed.
Another character I enjoyed was Miss Sarah. She was eerie, ghostlike and very gothic and I loved the mystery surrounding her. She has so much presence and impact every time she’s on the page despite the fact she never says a word. I got literal goosebumps on my arms a few times and didn’t want to turn out the light for fear of imagining her standing there in the dark!
If you enjoy psychological thrillers with a dash of spine-tingling fear, then this is the book for you. Just be prepared to get sucked in because once I started, I didn’t want to put this one down.
MEET THE AUTHOR:
Samantha Hayes grew up in a creative family where her love of writing began as a child. Samantha has written eight thrillers in total, including the bestselling Until You’re Mine. The Independent said “fantastically written and very tense” while Good Housekeeping said “Her believable psychological thrillers are completely gripping.” Samantha’s books are published in 22 languages at the last count.
When not writing, Samantha loves to cook, go to the gym, see friends and drink nice wine. She is also studying for a degree in psychotherapy. She has three grown-up children and lives in Warwickshire.