Reviewed by me as a member of Rosie Amber’s Book Review Team.
I have long been an admirer of Wendy Clarke’s short stories; she writes with great delicacy about the deep emotional truths found at the heart of seemingly everyday lives.
Christmas is a time of heightened emotion and this collection explores themes of loneliness, loss and love, all with the constant thread of the real meaning of Christmas running through.
In ‘Finding Santa’ we sympathise with a family stranded at Gatwick Airport as the festive season starts and in ‘All I Want for Christmas’ we feel for the new step-father desperately searching the shops for the elusive must-have-toy late on Christmas Eve.
The most original story of the collection in my opinion is ‘Silent Night’, but my favourite is ‘Christmas Strike’, for its humour and for the tenderness of its resolution.
So, enjoy this wonderful collection, with a mince pie and a cup of tea at your elbow!
WARNING: keep a tissue at the ready too, as Wendy Clarke really knows how to pull at the heart-strings.
Link to Silent Night on Amazon UK
Reviewed by me as part of Rosie Amber’s Review Team.
This wonderful collection of short stories takes six characters from Wendy Janes’ novel ‘What Jennifer Knows’ and gives each of them a canvas to themselves. The stories link back cleverly to the novel and give further insights into the characters’ lives and behaviour. Jennifer, the heroine of ‘What Jennifer Knows’, appears in every story at different points in her life. Even though the stories are entwined with the novel, they can be read as a standalone volume with great enjoyment too.
The fifth story, ‘The Perfect Family’, explores the shifting loyalties and cruelties of childhood friendship and how a child’s perception of her parents can change in a crisis.
The emotional gem, for me, is ‘What Tim Knows’. Wendy Janes has a real understanding of what it feels like for a child to be different and how this affects the behaviour and feelings of others too. The closing scene between Tim and his mother Blythe is truly heart-wrenching.
I have no hesitation in recommending this fantastic collection and hope it will send new readers in search of the novel it is so much part of.
Link to ‘What Tim Knows’ on Amazon UK
This new collection of ten short stories can be dipped into throughout your day – a bit like a box of chocolates but without the calories.
Many of the stories have soft centres but some have more bite and crunch. You will find tales of romance, family life, love and loss, friendship and cosy crime. Feast and enjoy!
Link to Irish Charm on Amazon
Link to Murder on the Tor on Amazon UK
Reviewed by me as part of Rosie Amber’s Review Team.
Murder on the Tor is the latest Exham on Sea Mystery by Frances Evesham. There are two previous titles and they can be read as standalones or as part of a series.
Murder on the Tor is well-paced and written in an easy conversational style. It has an intricate plot involving amber beads, a glimpse of the seventies, dangerous jealousies and homemade chocolates, all set in the glorious Devon countryside.
Our two detectives, Libby and Max, continue their tentative romance from an earlier story, while following a trail of confusing clues about a new murder. In the end, the mist lifts and the truth is revealed, not only about the Murder on the Tor, but also about Libby’s deceased husband, Trevor and his gang of crooked friends.
My favourite character has to be Bear, the gentle giant of a dog. The account of how Bear manages to help a young girl communicate is very touching.
For readers looking for a quick cosy mystery – with hidden depths – I thoroughly recommend this delightful read.
Murder on the Levels by Frances Evesham is the second book I have reviewed as part of Rosie Amber’s Book Review Team. I choose this book from a long list as it sounded so much fun from the book description. I wasn’t disappointed as you can see from my review below.
Murder on the Levels is a delightfully quirky cosy mystery by Frances Evesham set in the West Country.
The central character, Libby Forest, is warmly portrayed; a baker of cakes and chocolate-maker by profession, she is unwittingly drawn into a murder mystery and detective work, not for the first time.
I loved all the musical references, my favourite being Libby’s recollection of her recorder playing at school being,
“a regular series of high-pitched squeals, like a dawn chorus of cats…”
There are poisoned cyclists, cars driven badly and much too fast, pets with definite opinions, an enigmatic love-interest called Max, and various characters we suspect are not as respectable as they seem, all contributing to an enormous web of mystery and humour. Like Mandy’s tattoos, all is not as it seems, and when the resolution comes, it is as welcome as it is unexpected.
Link to Frances’ author page on Amazon
I have recently become a member of Rosie Amber’s book review team (#RBRT) and the first book I have reviewed as part of the team is
The Code for Killing: a mystery set in Georgian England by William Savage.
I picked this book because of its intriguing title and the bits of code shown on the cover. I thought it looked both unusual and entertaining – and this certainly turned out to be true. Here is my review:
The Code for Killing is a fascinating historical mystery set in Georgian England. It is the second novel in a series and there are fairly frequent references to the previous mystery, but the novel can be read and enjoyed without any previous knowledge of the first book.
The main character is Dr Adam Bascom – a man who, for all his intellect and skills, has very little understanding of women, much to his mother’s despair and also amusement. Adam relies on quite a few women to help him solve the mystery, including the delightful and spirited Miss Sophia LaSalle. I do hope there will be a sequel as I would love to hear more from this character in particular.
The mystery is set in the turbulent times of the late 1700s and there are many details about the political situations of the period, such as the riots in Norfolk, that add greatly to the vividness of the storytelling. The characters come from all walks of life – we meet the wise Sir Daniel Fouchard, Miss Phoebe Farnsworth the actress and the wonderfully named pair of sailors, Peg and Dobbin, to mention a few among many gems. The details of medical conditions and treatments at that time are described in interesting detail and I was very amused when London was described as ‘noisy and crowded’ by Adam on his welcome return to Aylsham – some things don’t change!
All in all, a really good, well-written story, with great richness of detail. Thoroughly recommended!
Link to The Code for Killing on Amazon UK
The Mysterious Disappearance of Mr Spearman is a cosy crime novella set in the fictional sleepy market town of Burcliffe. A young teacher, Rosie Rainbow, has a broken heart, Mr Spearman the school catering manager has disappeared, six year old Susie Sullivan makes an unusual discovery in the school playground at school and the famous Italian violinist Leonardo Pizzicato is robbed of one of his most precious possessions. As the mysteries deepen and entwine, we travel from Burcliffe to Naples, Legoland and to Dagenham, meeting a mysterious signorina, a suspicious photographer, a jealous cat named Marlow and a gang of ruthless criminals along the way. All is solved by the time we reach the sparkling musical finale, thanks to the incredibly quick thinking of Rob Dobbs and his police colleagues, not forgetting vital help from Rosie Rainbow and the slightly dotty Miss Palmer.
This novella can best be enjoyed with a large pot of tea and a mind eager to spot the cheesy clues.
UK amazon link
USA amazon link