Book Review: A Spoonful of Gunpowder by Katherine H. Brown

  • Title: A Spoonful of Gunpowder
  • Author: Katherine H. Brown
  • Where to buy: Amazon (affiliate link)
  • Genre: Steampunk, Cozy
  • Would I recommend:

Synopsis:

Think steampunk meets Mary Poppins reimagined in a most delightful way!

Anna-Marie Pauper prides herself on being perfectly practical in every way. Until one day, she isn’t.

An orphan with an interest in tinkering finds herself grown into a thief and a spy and she wants out. She wants more than to do what she is told in order to keep a comfortable life. She wants more than to exist in the world without really connecting to anyone beyond the opportunities to betray them. And she doesn’t want to watch other young girls be pushed headlong into the same fate with no prospects, no choices.

When his supply of orphan girls from London begins to run low, Uncle Ernest wants to know why.

So does Anna-Marie.

She enlists the help of The Procurer, a crime lord known to be able to find anyone or anything, to find the founder of the orphan house she grew up in and the disappearing girls in the city.

But when the founder is dead and an impromptu rescue of many of the missing girls puts a target on her back, she finds herself fleeing London on the airship of the very man who The Procurer said was the heir and new owner of the orphan house, the man she hoped could solve at least some of her problems, and headed straight back to the home of Uncle Ernest to place the girls at his mercy.

Instead, he and his exuberant thirst for life and adventure coupled with his solicitous care of her and the girls adds even more complications to her life and she finds herself thinking thoughts that are not practical at all. Thoughts of freedom. Happiness.

Will a deal struck with Uncle Ernest be the solution?

Can she do one more job, steal one more thing, and finally be free?

Or will her departure from her staid, practical self prove to be her undoing, after all?

My review:

I absolutely loved this book! Katherine H. Brown creates a marvelous alternate London set in the Victorian period, and it’s a good representation of the steampunk genre. There are hat tips to Mary Poppins everywhere, from Anna-Marie’s souped-up umbrella to Bert, the amiable coal deliveryman, and so many more.

Anna-Marie was a very likable protagonist. She cares about the girls she left behind at the orphan home and wants better for them. She uses her common sense to solve problems, and she isn’t afraid to get her hands dirty (literally or figuratively). She doesn’t shy away from difficult situations, and she’s teaching the girls in her charge to do likewise.

Anna-Marie’s attraction to Captain Ambrose Banks, and his to her, is delightful. Ambrose’s general attitude toward life is so joyful, Anna-Marie can’t help but warm to it. But if she wants to gain her freedom from Uncle Ernest’s employ, she’ll have to find a way to do one last job for him. Can she complete the task and find unexpected happiness with an unexpected man? Read and find out!

The orphan girls – I want to hug them all and feed them and give them a safe place to live. Brown pens a realistic portrayal of the hard lives they led in 19th-century London, and the jobs they might find themselves pressed into with no family to be concerned about them. It wasn’t pretty, even in an alternate universe.

The ending of the book makes it clear that this is not the end of the story. Things aren’t tied up in a tidy package, so if loose ends damage your calm, you’d best brace yourself. I, however, am here for it. The cliffhanger ending has me clamoring for more!

A Spoonful of Gunpowder is an engaging story and a great start to a new series. Five stars from me!

Disclaimer: Thanks to BookSirens and the publisher for a review copy. All opinions here are mine, and I don’t say nice things about books I don’t actually like.

Posted in ARC Reads, Book Reviews, BookSirens, Cozy Mystery, Steampunk | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Book Beginnings on Friday and Book Blogger Hop: September 30, 2022

Book Beginnings on Fridays is hosted each week by Rose City Reader. It’s a chance to share the first sentence or so of the book you are reading this week. You can check out others’ book beginnings here. I’m also going to link up with Carrie at Reading Is My Superpower for First Line Friday.

This week’s book beginning:

Synopsis:

From idyllic small towns to claustrophobic urban landscapes, Mallory Viridian is constantly embroiled in murder cases that only she has the insight to solve. But outside of a classic mystery novel, being surrounded by death doesn’t make you a charming amateur detective, it makes you a suspect and a social pariah. So when Mallory gets the opportunity to take refuge on a sentient space station, she thinks she has the solution. Surely the murders will stop if her only company is alien beings. At first her new existence is peacefully quiet…and markedly devoid of homicide.

But when the station agrees to allow additional human guests, Mallory knows the break from her peculiar reality is over. After the first Earth shuttle arrives, and aliens and humans alike begin to die, the station is thrown into peril. Stuck smack-dab in the middle of an extraterrestrial whodunit, and wondering how in the world this keeps happening to her anyway, Mallory has to solve the crime—and fast—or the list of victims could grow to include everyone on board….

Nobody ever believed murders “just happened” around Mallory Viridian.

Not at first, anyway.

What say you? Will you keep reading after that beginning?

Book Blogger Hop

Book Blogger Hop is hosted by Coffee Addicted Writer. It starts each Friday and runs through the following Thursday. Each week, there’s a new prompt featuring a book-related question. It’s designed to give bloggers a chance to follow other blogs, learn about new books, make new blogging friends, and gain followers. See what others have to say on this topic and link up your own post here.

Have you ever skipped ahead to read the ending?
Sept. 30th – Oct. 6th – Have you ever skipped ahead to read the ending? (submitted by Billy @ Coffee Addicted Writer)

What, me? Skip ahead? Never. Perish the thought.

Okay, maybe occasionally. If it’s a REALLY tense book and I just can’t wait to know what happens to a beloved character, I might take just the teensiest of peeks. Just to know whether they make it out okay or not. I don’t read the ENTIRE ending, promise.

What about you? Do you strictly read straight through, or do you ever sneak a peek to find out what happens in the end? Leave me a comment!

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Book Review and Blog Tour: A Death at Neptune Cove (Jemima Jago Mystery #4) by Emma Jameson

Book: A Death at Neptune Cove
Author: Emma Jameson
Pub Day: September 29, 2022 
Buy Link: Amazon

Book Description:

A birthday beach party gone wrong, buried treasure and… a dead body? This might be Jemima Jago’s most baffling case yet!

When Jem knocks on the door of an isolated cottage overlooking beautiful Neptune Cove, she’s hoping for help fixing a birthday cake baking disaster. She’s not expecting to find the tenant dead on the tiled floor, specks of blood on the collar of his navy-and-red satin pajamas…

The victim is Arthur Ajax, a handsome and wealthy American businessman who arrived in the Isles of Scilly as a tourist ten months ago and never left. There have been rumors about him in town, as he was known for his extravagant lifestyle. Perhaps he’d gone overboard, or could his death be connected to an unpaid debt?

Later that same evening, Jem stumbles across a hoard of buried jewelry, dug up from the dunes by little dog Buck, and she immediately wonders if they could be connected to the rich man’s murder. It’s not every day you find expensive—and very real-looking—sapphire earrings stashed away in an antique biscuit tin!

Jem seeks help from a local jewelry expert to identify the gems. But when he suddenly goes missing, Jem knows someone is trying to cover their tracks. Can she catch the killer before he makes her walk the plank too?

A completely gripping cozy page-turner set in the beautiful Isles of Scilly, from the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Emma Jameson. Fans of M.C. Beaton, Faith Martin and Agatha Christie will be hooked by A Death at Neptune Cove.

My review:

I previously had the opportunity to review the third in Emma Jameson’s Jemima Jago series, A Death at Silversmith Bay. It was delightful, so I was pleased to have the chance to be on the blog tour for A Death at Neptune Cove.

Emma Jameson does not disappoint!

Jem is only trying to find help fixing a squashed birthday cake when she and Pauley let themselves into Neptune Cottage. Instead of a helping hand, though, they found the tenant, one Arthur Ajax, dead on the kitchen floor. The murder weapon? Apparently a loaf of pumpernickel bread. Clarence, a local amateur baker, handed them out to everyone. Jem realizes the police will take this to mean Clarence was the killer, so she and her friends jump into action to figure out who really dunnit.

And not only is there a murder. There’s also treasure! Rhys Tremayne’s little dog Buck unearths a cache of jewels. Are the jewels related to the dead man? Jem is determined to find out.

This is another fun read! Arthur Ajax is definitely not what he seems. Several things don’t make sense – a stash of letters addressed to someone else and a very expensive sewing machine found in the cottage don’t seem to fit what people know of Arthur. The more Jem digs, the more she realizes that several people might have wanted to see an end to him. As they unravel the clues, we get international intrigue, a yacht that Arthur may or may not have owned, and a line of hearts he trifled with that could wrap around the island. The twists and turns kept me guessing.

The island setting is, as always, delightful. I want to visit the Isles of Scilly now. Jameson uses the environment and the things associated with it, particularly boats, to good effect here.

And I was thrilled to see progress in Jem and Rhys’ relationship! I give nothing away, but they do make me smile.

This is another tremendously enjoyable read from Emma Jameson, and I recommend it to anyone who enjoys a good cozy with a side of romance and a lovely British setting. Five stars from me!

Thanks to Bookouture and NetGalley for a review copy. All opinions here are mine, and I don’t say nice things about books I don’t actually like.

About the author:

Emma Jameson writes mysteries that readers call witty, romantic, and full of surprises. An aspiring novelist since age seven, she took a long, twisty route to the New York Times and USA Today bestseller lists. After years of working at a major medical center, her first novel, cobbled together on nights and weekends, became a runaway e-book bestseller. Now she writes full-time and has sold over half a million books. A compulsive reader and information hoarder, Emma is always searching for that fascinating nugget or startling fact that will spark another novel. A lifelong Anglophile, she resides in the United States, where she enjoys swimming, yoga, and serving the needs of not one, not two, not three, but four cats.

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Book Review and Blog Tour: The Thread Collectors by Shaunna J. Edwards and Alyson Richman

  • The Thread Collectors 
  • Authors: Shaunna J. Edwards and Alyson Richman
  • Publication Date: August 30, 2022
  • Publisher: Graydon House

Buy Links:

HarperCollins.com 
BookShop.org
Barnes & Noble
Amazon
Books-A-Million
McNally Jackson

Book Summary: 

“An unforgettable story of female strength, hope and friendship. This collaborative work is magnificent—a true revelation!” —Pam Jenoff, New York Times bestselling author of The Woman with the Blue Star

“A brilliant story brimming with unexpected friendships and family ties. Historically sound and beautifully stitched, The Thread Collectors will stay with you long after the last page is turned.” —Sadeqa Johnson, international bestselling author of Yellow Wife  

1863: In a small Creole cottage in New Orleans, an ingenious young Black woman named Stella embroiders intricate maps on repurposed cloth to help enslaved men flee and join the Union Army. Bound to a man who would kill her if he knew of her clandestine activities, Stella has to hide not only her efforts but her love for William, a Black soldier and a brilliant musician.

Meanwhile, in New York City, a Jewish woman stitches a quilt for her husband, who is stationed in Louisiana with the Union Army. Between abolitionist meetings, Lily rolls bandages and crafts quilts with her sewing circle for other soldiers, too, hoping for their safe return home. But when months go by without word from her husband, Lily resolves to make the perilous journey South to search for him.

As these two women risk everything for love and freedom during the brutal Civil War, their paths converge in New Orleans, where an unexpected encounter leads them to discover that even the most delicate threads have the capacity to save us. Loosely inspired by the authors’ family histories, this stunning novel will stay with readers for a long time.

My review:

You know how sometimes life just sneaks up on you and you lose track of something? That’s what’s happened with my review of The Thread Collectors. My deepest apologies! Because this book is far from forgettable. It’s an amazing testimony to what we’ll do for love and freedom.

The story unfolds from the perspectives of Stella, a Black slave whose love, William, has escaped from slavery, and Lily, a Jewish woman from New York whose husband, Jacob, has enlisted for the Union.

Stella was a slave, purchased by a white man as his mistress, to be used for his pleasure. She had very little to call her own. Lily was the daughter of a wealthy businessman in New York, with all the advantages the world had to offer. They seem as different as two people could possibly be. But Lily felt very strongly that slavery had to end, and she became involved with the abolitionist movement. These women’s lives and their fights for freedom intersected when the men who were important to them met up at a Union encampment in Louisiana.

Thread ties the lives of Stella and Lily together. Stella sewed a map to the Union camp for William before he left, using what cloth and thread she could come up with, both so that he’d have a guide as he fled his bondage and so that he’d have a piece of her to carry with him. She then continued to stitch maps for other slaves to find their way to freedom as well. Lily helped the war effort by rolling bandages and stitching quilts for the soldiers, with her first quilt made especially for Jacob, a tangible representation of her love for him.

Likewise, music is a unifying force for William and Jacob. William is a good musician, and that earned him a little bit better treatment than many slaves received. His master always wanted him to perform. Jacob is also musically inclined, and when he realizes William’s talent, he does his best to ensure that William has a chance to put his skills to use in the military.

This book is simply amazing. The research the authors put into it is apparent, and the events they convey are often heartbreaking. It’s loosely based on their own family histories, and quite a compelling tale. And this book really stands out because its viewpoint is different. I’ve read a fair bit of historical fiction, and I can’t say that I recall reading another story told from Black and Jewish viewpoints. That made this a story that really caught my attention and didn’t let go.

If you want a story that’s well researched, well written, and emotionally gripping, set in the latter days of the Civil War, you’ll love The Thread Collectors.

About the authors:

SHAUNNA J. EDWARDS has a BA in literature from Harvard College and a JD from NYU School of Law. A former corporate lawyer, she now works in diversity, equity and inclusion. She is a native Louisianian, raised in New Orleans, and currently lives in Harlem with her husband. The Thread Collectors is her first novel. Find her on Instagram, @shaunnajedwards.

ALYSON RICHMAN is the USA Today and #1 international bestselling author of several historical novels, including The Velvet HoursThe Garden of Letters, and The Lost Wife, which is currently in development for a major motion picture. Alyson graduated from Wellesley College with a degree in art history and Japanese studies. She is an accomplished painter and her novels combine her deep love of art, historical research, and travel. Alyson’s novels have been published in twenty-five languages and have reached bestseller lists both in the United States and abroad. She lives on Long Island with her husband and two children, where she is currently at work on her next novel. Find her on Instagram, @alysonrichman.

Shaunna Edwards: Facebook | Instagram | Goodreads

Alyson Richman: Author Website | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | Goodreads

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Book Review: A Night to Remember by Danny and Wanda Pelfrey

  • Title: A Night to Remember
  • Author: Danny and Wanda Pelfrey
  • Where to buy: Amazon (affiliate link)
  • Genre: Mystery, Christian Fiction
  • Would I recommend: Enthusiastically!

Synopsis:

A NIGHT TO REMEMBER chronicles the further adventures of siblings, Kirby and Riley Gordan. Riley is back in Adairsville, Georgia anticipating a leisurely vacation from the rigors of law school. then, as part of a political plot one of her Sunday School girls is kidnapped. Stumbling upon the abduction, Riley and her friends are pulled headfirst into a search for the girl. The probe leads them into a series of fast paced and dangerous events that include a Neanderthal called Houston, a green KIA Soul, an old man with a big gun, and ultimately murder. All of this with a backdrop of a beautiful friendship between an old baseball player turned politician and a spunky adolescent who are jointly known around town as “Nate and the Kid.” 

My review:

Riley Gordan has come back home to Adairsville, Georgia, hoping for a restful break from law school and some quality time with her dear friend, Trish. But the peace and quiet is shattered when one of Riley’s Sunday school girls, Kaylene, is kidnapped. Kaylene is friends with Nate Bannister, a bit of a local celebrity around Adairsville. A former pro baseball player, Nate is making a run for local political office. Someone wants to keep him from running, and they figure putting Kaylene in harm’s way will make the old man back off to keep her safe.

Adairsville, Georgia is a real place, similar in size to the small town I grew up in. So it’s easy for me to visualize, and Danny and Wanda Pelfrey have filled it with engaging characters. I love the friendship between Riley and Trish. I can imagine the shenanigans they got up to when they were younger, and now they’re putting themselves in harm’s way to try to rescue Kaylene.

I liked the relationship between Nate and Kaylene, too. We live in a society where so often, older people are dismissed as no longer having worth. It was refreshing to see a friendship between the old and the young, and when Nate explained why Kaylene meant so much to him, I choked right up. Would that we valued and learned from our older folks more.

Faith is a strong component of this story. Riley teaches Sunday school. The characters pray and attend church services and rely on God for direction in their lives. They reach out to others and try to treat them as Jesus would have. It’s nice to see a book where Christianity is an active part of the story, not just a passing mention, and it’s done without leaving the reader feeling like they’ve been whacked upside the head with the King James Version of the Bible. Nicely done!

The story also did a good job of keeping me in the dark as to the bad guy’s identity. I love stories where I’m kept guessing until the end.

There’s a bit of romance, but it’s clean. Language is also clean.

In short, this is a delightful mystery in a setting I hope to visit again in the rest of the series!

Disclaimer: I received a review copy of this book from the author. All opinions here are mine, and I don’t say nice things about books I don’t actually like.

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Can’t-Wait Wednesday: Madly, Deeply: The Diaries of Alan Rickman by Alan Rickman

Can’t-Wait Wednesday is a weekly meme that highlights books soon to be released, the ones we’re excited about but haven’t read yet. It’s hosted by Wishful Endings, and was formerly hosted by Breaking the Spine. Y’all can check out all of this week’s Can’t-Wait Wednesday posts here.

  • Title: Madly, Deeply
  • Author: Alan Rickman
  • Genre: Memoir
  • Release Date: October 18, 2022

Synopsis:

Harry Potter and Sense and Sensibility actor Alan Rickman builds upon his legacy as a world-class actor, a tireless political activist, an avid traveler, and more through his diaries—a twenty-five-year passion project in which Rickman invites readers backstage and into his life.

Alan Rickman remains the one of the most beloved actors of all time across almost every genre in the American and British markets, from his breakout role as Die Hard’s Hans Gruber to his heart-wrenching run as Professor Severus Snape, and beyond. His air of dignity, his sonorous voice, and the knowing wit he brought to each role have captivated viewers across nearly every generation alive today.

But Rickman’s artistry wasn’t confined to just his performances. Fans of movies, theater, and memoirs at large will delight in the intimate experience of Rickman detailing the extraordinary and the ordinary in a way that is “anecdotal, indiscreet, witty, gossipy and utterly candid.” He grants us access to his thoughts and insights on theater performances, the craft of acting, politics, friendships, work projects, and his general musings on life. The Rickman Diaries was written with the intention to be shared, and reading it feels as if Rickman is chatting to a close friend.

My thoughts:

Alan Rickman has been one of my favorite actors since Die Hard. Who thinks Die Hard is a Christmas movie? Leave a comment with your thoughts. My thoughts on that: it’s not Christmas until somebody drops the Hans!

But I digress. Anyway, from Die Hard to Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves to the Harry Potter series, Rickman was always a treat to watch on the movie screen. A lot of the time, he played the villain, and did a great job of it. I’m looking forward to reading this book to learn a little more about him, because I’m pretty sure he wasn’t the bad guy in real life.

What about you? Do you like a good memoir? Are you interested in reading this one? Discuss in the comments!

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Top Ten Tuesday: Book Covers with Eye-Catching Typography

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish and is now hosted by Jana at That Artsy Reader Girl. Check out upcoming Top Ten themes on Jana’s blog and go here to see what others have on their Top Ten Tuesday lists!

Today’s theme is books with typography that steals the show, submitted by Mareli @ Elza Reads. The books I’ve chosen have covers where the words catch my eye for some reason. I’ll tell you, some of these have been on my Goodreads “want to read” list for a LONG time. Maybe I should go back and pick some of them up!

Without further ado, my top ten….

The Traitor’s Mark – That calligraphy grabbed my eye! And a mystery based on an actual, historical unsolved crime? Heck yes! Why has this one languished on my TBR list for so long?

How to Catch a Russian Spy – The slant and boldness of the font catches the eye. The description, “the one-of-a-kind story of how one young man’s post-college adventure became a real-life US counter-intelligence coup,” makes me want to read it right now.

Molly Pepper & the Night Train – The curves in the font almost make it look like smoke from a train, don’t you think? The story sounds like a fun middle-grade read.

Confections of a Closet Master Baker – First, I love the word play of confections/confessions. And the title is designed to look like words on a cake! That’s fabulous! I need to pull this one out of the stack and get to reading.

Ready Player One – I mean, how could you not notice that font? The color, the size, it’s eye-popping. The book was fabulous, the movie an homage to those of us who were gamer kids in the 80s. I loved both.

Yonder – The graceful curves of the “Y” in the title beckon you to pick up the book. And with the subtitle “A Southern Haunting,” I suspect I’ll gladly jump in and stay awhile.

The Starless Sea – White on black, like stars in the sky. The keys and ribbons remind me of planets and the swirls of galaxies in the heavens. Stunning. The book was magnificent, too.

Every Little Thing – This book is about how even what seems like a little thing can make a big difference. The black script stands out against the yellow stars that call to mind all the little things we might use as our excuse not to do something to make a change, right where we are.

The Bellbottom Incident – That font, those arcs, those attention-getting colors. How could I not notice this one? And when you read the book description, it talks about “time-traveling crime-stoppers.” Get off my TBR pile and onto my Kindle right now!

The City We Became – The book is about the soul of New York City and the people who protect it. What better way to display the title than on the underside of what appears to be one of New York’s iconic bridges? I thoroughly enjoyed the book, and not just for the cover. But the cover caught my eye and tempted me to pick it up.

Are there any books whose typography you particularly admire? Share in a comment!

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Book Review and Blog Tour: Death on the Menu

It’s my pleasure to be on the blog tour for Death on the Menu by Emma Davies. This is the third in Davies’ Adam and Eve Mystery series.

Title:         Death on the Menu

Author:     Emma Davies

Publication Day: September 22, 2022

Buy Link: https://geni.us/B0B21SSK37social

Synopsis:

Francesca Eve has planned a showstopping funeral supper to say goodbye in style, but the last thing she expects is a murder on the menu…

When elderly millionaire and eccentric entrepreneur Clarence Lightman dies, his nearest and dearest gather one final time at Justice House, Clarence’s beautiful country estate, for the reading of his will. But the day ends in uproar when it is revealed that whoever solves a series of complex clues will inherit everything. Will one of Clarence’s disagreeable children outwit everyone else for the fortune, or could his devoted housekeeper or even Francesca herself win the day?

Francesca knows she should stick to the kitchen and stay out of this lethal game, but she is unwillingly drawn into the mystery when she finds one of Clarence’s sons, blood pooling from a deadly thwack to the head, shoved into the larder. Somebody is clearly not playing fair, and Francesca feels sure that they won’t stop until all of the competition has been eliminated.

Trapped in the game until all the riddles are solved, Francesca must solve the clues and find the ruthless killer to protect herself and her fellow innocent guests. But she can’t trust anyone. Fran must use all her wits, not only to hunt down the truth, but to stay alive…

An addictive cozy crime novel packed with twists you won’t expect. If you love Faith Martin, M.C. Beaton and The Thursday Murder Club you’ll adore this thrilling mystery.

My review:

Francesca (Fran) Eve’s old school chum, Olivia, has hired her to cater the funeral dinner for Clarence Lightman. Mr. Lightman, an author who created games based on his books, died a wealthy man. His will makes one last effort to reconcile his fractured family by sending his “nearest and dearest” on a treasure hunt. His children do not take this news well, and they’re really unhappy when they learn that Olivia – the “hired help” – has the right to try to unravel the clues and claim an inheritance for herself.

This book is nearly impossible to put down! The treasure hunt premise is unique and a lot of fun. The characters end up in some pretty outlandish situations trying to chase down the clues that lead to the fortune. And in addition to trying to sort out the clues, Fran and Adam are trying to track down a murderer.

There’s some stiff competition among the teams (Marcus and Cate, two of Lightman’s children; Saul, the third of Lightman’s children; and Fran, Olivia, and Adam). At least one of the teams is playing dirty, and we know it isn’t our fearless protagonists. The fact that someone is willing to stoop to murder really ramps up the tension in the story.

And the characters! Fran is a delight. She’s close to my age, which makes me appreciate her that much more. She and Adam seem like they’d be as different as chalk and cheese, but their personalities actually work well together. I like that Fran isn’t someone who has to be in charge all the time. She realizes that Adam has the skill set they need to work out the clues here, and she doesn’t hesitate to let him take the lead on that. She knows her strengths and is fine with letting others shine when it’s what works best. And even the minor characters, like Margaret, the family solicitor, are fleshed out nicely.

There were plenty of twists and turns in the story, and Davies kept me guessing until the end. I love a book where I can’t solve the mystery until the reveal smacks me in the head!

If you like a modern story with a unique premise and a cozy mystery that will have you second-guessing what you think at every turn, I highly recommend Death on the Menu!

About the author:

After a varied career, Emma Davies once worked for a design studio where she was asked to provide a fun and humorous (and not necessarily true) anecdote for their website. She wrote the following: ‘I am a bestselling novelist currently masquerading as a thirty something mother of three.’ Well the job in the design studio didn’t work out but she’s now a forty something mother of three and is happy to report the rest of her dream came true.

After many years as a finance manager she now writes full time, and is far happier playing with words than numbers. She lives with her husband, three children, and two guinea pigs in rural Shropshire where she writes in all the gaps in between real life. It’s a county she adores, her love of its beautiful people and landscapes providing endless inspiration for her books, and in fact the only thing that would make Shropshire more idyllic is if it were by the sea.

Pop over to her website www.emmadaviesauthor.com where, amongst other things, you can read about her passion for Pringles and singing loudly in the car. You can also wave to her on twitter @EmDaviesAuthor or find her on Facebook (a little too often than is good for her).


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Book Beginnings on Friday and Book Blogger Hop: September 23, 2022

Book Beginnings on Fridays is hosted each week by Rose City Reader. It’s a chance to share the first sentence or so of the book you are reading this week. You can check out others’ book beginnings here. I’m also going to link up with Carrie at Reading Is My Superpower for First Line Friday.

This week’s book beginning:

Synopsis:

Francesca Eve is catering a sombre funeral supper, but the last thing she expects is another murder on the menu…

When elderly millionaire and eccentric entrepreneur Clarence Lightman dies, his nearest and dearest gather one final time at Justice House, Clarence’s beautiful country estate in rural Shropshire, for the reading of his will. But the day ends in uproar when Clarence’s will reveals that whoever solves a series of complex clues will inherit everything, whether that’s one of Clarence’s disagreeable children, his devoted housekeeper, or Francesca herself…

Francesca knows she should stick to the kitchen and stay out of this macabre game, but she is unwillingly drawn into the mystery when she finds Clarence’s son, blood pooling from a deadly thwack to the head, shoved into the larder. Somebody is clearly not playing fair, and Francesca feels sure that they won’t stop until all of the competition has been eliminated.

Francesca must find the murderer, and protect herself and her fellow innocent guests. But trapped in the game until the riddles are solved, she can’t trust anyone. If she can solve the clues, could they lead her to this ruthless killer? And can she find them before they strike again? Fran must use all her wits, not only to hunt down the truth, but just to stay alive… 

Fran stared at the woman in front of her.

Even after all these years it was like looking in the mirror.

Is that enough to hold your attention and keep you reading?

Book Blogger Hop

Book Blogger Hop is hosted by Coffee Addicted Writer. It starts each Friday and runs through the following Thursday. Each week, there’s a new prompt featuring a book-related question. It’s designed to give bloggers a chance to follow other blogs, learn about new books, make new blogging friends, and gain followers. See what others have to say on this topic and link up your own post here.

Have you ever reread a book? If so, why did you decide to reread it?
Submitted by Billy @ Coffee Addicted Writer.

I have reread books on occasion. A Wrinkle in Time, Anne of Green Gables, the Little House books. Usually I reread them because they’re old favorites and I just enjoy going back to them. Sometimes I’ve reread books in the context of what my boys were reading for school – I’d read along with them. Many times they wanted to reread books before bedtime when they weren’t yet able to read, so I’d read – and reread – those books to them. But just for myself, I wouldn’t say I reread a tremendous number of books. There are too many other books in the world still waiting for my attention!

What about you? Are you a rereader? Leave me a comment and let me know!

Posted in Book Beginnings on Fridays, Book Blogger Hop, Book Memes, Cozy Mystery | Tagged , , , , , | 17 Comments

Book Review and Blog Tour: Death Among the Diamonds by Fliss Chester

I’m delighted to help kick off the blog tour for Death Among the Diamonds by Fliss Chester! This is the first in her Cressida Fawcett series, and it is a treat.

Author: Fliss Chester
Title: Death Among the Diamonds
Release Date: September 21, 2022
Publisher: Bookouture

Buy Link:
Amazon: https://geni.us/B0B5LNRLRYsocial

Audio Links:
UK: zpr.io/5TH6WL7X6AsX
US: zpr.io/CHm3wmGbN8AW

Listen to a sample

Synopsis:

Everyone in 1920s London knows the Honourable Cressida Fawcett: fiercely independent (though never apart from her little pug Ruby), lover of martinis and interior designer extraordinaire. She’s solved many crimes of fashion… so how about murder?

Cressida Fawcett is heading to the English countryside for a weekend of cocktails and partying at her friend’s glamorous mansion, the location of a recent diamond heist. But just hours after her arrival, Cressida is woken by an almighty scream. Rushing to the landing, she looks down into the great hall to find a trembling maid standing next to the body of Harry, the friendly young chandelier cleaner.

Everyone believes Harry’s death was an accident. But as Cressida examines the opulent hall and the beautiful grounds, she thinks something darker is afoot. Why clean a chandelier in the early hours of the morning? And who overheard Harry boasting about coming into unexpected wealth? A small piece of torn silk found near the body has Cressida looking at the guests’ elegant clothes with fresh eyes…

The short-tempered Detective insists that she keeps her curious nose out of the investigation, but it’s Cressida who realises the stolen diamonds were hidden in the sparkling chandelier. Convinced there is a connection between the theft and the murder, the case takes a sinister turn when a guest is killed in his sleep after a brandy-fuelled night of cards. With everyone unable to leave, can Cressida’s sharp eye for detail catch the killer before another life is taken? 

My review:

I adore the Lady Eleanor Swift series by Verity Bright, so when I had the chance to read and review Death Among the Diamonds, another cozy series set in 1920s England, I jumped at it. I’m so glad I did!

The Hon. Cressida Fawcett is a young woman ahead of her time. Single and well to do, she’s enjoying her life, not looking to make a good marriage match as so many young women are. She lives with her pug, Ruby, and she’s quite happy that way.

When she travels to the countryside for a weekend at the home of her friend Dorothy, she certainly never expects to be caught up in a crime scene. But diamonds have been stolen, and the young, affable chandelier cleaner is found dead. Suddenly anyone there on the estate is a suspect, and no one is free to leave.

This book is simply enchanting! Cressida’s world of money and the high life is far from my own middle-aged mom existence, but it’s a lot of fun to read about. Cressida herself is refreshing, a woman not afraid to buck expectations and do what makes her happy. Ruby is a fun addition to the story, and often a help to Cressida. (And now I want a pug.)

Fliss Chester creates characters that are a joy to read about. (Basil really came off as a creep, though. I think Dorothy can do better.) The story moves along at a nice clip, and there were twists and turns enough to hold my interest. She does a nice job with the locked-room mystery, and I look forward to reading more in the series.

I highly recommend Death Among the Diamonds if you love clean historical cozies. I think I’ve found a new author to add to my favorites!

About the author:

Fliss Chester lives in Surrey with her husband and writes historical cozy crime. When she is not killing people off in her 1940s whodunnits, she helps her husband, who is a wine merchant, run their business. Never far from a decent glass of something, Fliss also loves cooking (and writing up her favourite recipes on her blog), enjoying the beautiful Surrey and West Sussex countryside and having a good natter.

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