Tuesday 29 January 2019

Book Review: Death of an Old Girl (Cozy Crime/Mystery)

Death of an Old Girl
Elizabeth Lemarchand

Series: Pollard & Toye #1
Publisher: Sapere Books 
Publication date: 20th September 2018
Pages: 283
Format Read: Ebook
Source: Courtesy of Publisher

How do you solve a village murder when everyone is under suspicion…?
1966, Rural England

Shockwaves are sent through the sleepy village of Trill when a woman’s body is discovered in a local school.

Beatrice Baynes – interfering, overbearing and spiteful – was not well liked. But no one expects a body to be found on their doorstep… And how did the annual festival at Meldon School turn from a light-hearted celebration to a gruesome crime scene?

With the local constabulary completely stumped, Scotland Yard’s  Detective
Chief Inspector Pollard and Detective Sergeant Toye are called in to investigate.

But the further Pollard & Toye delve into their inquiries, the more complicated the case becomes…


Death of an Old Girl is the first cozy mystery in the Pollard and Toye crime series; an intricate police procedural set in rural England. Originally published in 1967 it has been rereleased by Sapere Books.

The story is set during the Meldon Girls School’s annual festival and Old Girls reunion. A time of year when previous students (old girls) come together, reunite and catch up on the latest school developments.

After the weekend-long festivities are over and the school is about to be closed for the summer the body of an Old Girl is found hidden in the art room.
DCI pollard and DS Toye from Scotland Yard are called in to help with the investigation. Pollard clearly sees this as a chance to impress his superiors.

Death of an Old Girl is a slow paced and lengthy police procedural as Pollard and Toye piece together snippets of information from numerous interviews to develop an intricate time line.

There are a few good twists as Pollard digs deeper, murder isn’t the only crime being committed. He also uncovers one family’s long held secret and an eavesdropping busy body causes the perfect crime to come asunder.

I found Pollard’s sexist remarks a little grating but I suppose they were probably par for the course in the era the story was set.

The language of the characters came across as more 1930’s than the late 1960’s and it did take me a while to work out when the story was set. Also the old English slang was hard for me to understand so I was a bit lost there.

A classic cozy mystery from a master of the genre! Perfect for fans of Agatha Christie, M C Beaton, Sophie Hannah and Faith Martin.

My rating  3.5/5  ⭐⭐⭐½


*This review is: Letter 'D' in the AtoZ challenge 


Elizabeth Lemarchand was born in 1906. She became a teacher at The Godophin School in Salisbury. Her first book Death of an Old Girl was published in 1967. Elizabeth passed away in 2000 at the age of 93.

Coming soon

Elizabeth wrote 17 books throughout her life in the acclaimed Pollard and Toye detective series. Sapere Books is delighted to be reissuing the series beginning in 2018.



Monday 28 January 2019

Book Review: The Christmas Lights (Romance)

The Christmas Lights
Karen Swan 

I had grand plans to finish all my Christmas themed books before Christmas but time got away from me and now here I am at the end of January reviewing my first Christmas read.
I have more Christmas books to read and I will get them all done before Easter (that's my new plan). And so a late New Years resolution has been made; this year I will have all my Christmas themed books read and reviewed by 25th December.

Publisher:  Pan Macmillan
Publication Date: 30th October 2018
Pages: 467
RRP: $29.99
Format Read: Trade paperback
Source: Courtesy of the publisher

Set on the scenic fjords of Norway, The Christmas Lights by bestselling author Karen Swan is a moving Christmas tale of love and heartbreak.

December 2018, and free-spirited Influencers Bo Loxley and her partner Zac are living a life of wanderlust, travelling the globe and sharing their adventures with their millions of fans. Booked to spend Christmas in the Norwegian fjords, they set up home in a remote farm owned by enigmatic mountain guide Anders and his fierce grandmother Signy. Surrounded by snowy peaks and frozen falls, everything should be perfect. But the camera can lie and with every new post, the ‘perfect’ life Zac and Bo are portraying is diverging from the truth. Something Bo can’t explain is wrong at the very heart of their lives and Anders is the only person who’ll listen.
June 1936, and fourteen-year old Signy is sent with her sister and village friends to the summer pastures to work as milkmaids, protecting the herd that will sustain the farm through the long, winter months. But miles from home and away from the safety of their families, threat begins to lurk in friendly faces . . .

The Christmas Lights is narrated in dual time lines and moves from present day, with Instagram influencers Bo, Zac and their photographer come manager, Lenny, back to 1936 with Signy, a 14 year old milk maid, in the highlands of Norway.

Signy’s story is told over one summer, a coming of age story, and the lead up to the events that would shape the rest of Signy’s life.
Bo and Zac move from the heat of the South Pacific to their next adventure, a month on a cliff farm in Norway. The farm is owned by an elderly Signy and her Grandson Anders.

Bo and Anders are the main characters although you would think it would be Bo and Zac’s story as they are the Instagram couple. We do get Bo and Zac’s story from Bo’s point of view. Bo is running from a past tragedy believing this wandering life is exactly what she wants, although it is starting to wear thin. The fame means they never have a ‘real’ moment to themselves, everything is staged. Their whole life is out there for everyone to see. With Lenny always behind the camera, sometimes Bo feels like the third wheel.

Anders is enigmatic and detached. Is it their lifestyle he hates or has he hidden demons he wants kept locked away?

The story is fast paced and energetic but the underlying details are slow to surface, dispatched sparingly to keep the reader eager for more.

Swan knows how to create atmosphere. The cold was chilling. I felt it like it was real even though it is summer as I read and an astounding 38 . Swan has the knack of throwing her readers out into the chill air over and over so there is no way you can forget how bitterly cold it is.

I really enjoyed this Christmas themed romance with added mystery and suspense. I liked the insight into the world of Instagram influencers and the price of all that fame. With mentions of online trolls and people being jealous and mean spirited with cruel remarks and jibes.
The beautiful setting of the cliff farms of Norway with views of waterfalls and the spellbinding Northern Lights is all brought to life on the page.

Highly Recommended.

My Rating  5/5   ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ 

*This review is: 
  Letter 'C' in the AtoZ challenge 

photo credit - Goodreads
Karen Swan began her career in fashion journalism before giving it all up to raise her three children and a puppy, and to pursue her ambition of becoming a writer. She lives in the forest in Sussex, writing her books in a treehouse overlooking the Downs. 
Her books include Christmas at Tiffany's, Summer at Tiffany's, The Perfect Present, Christmas in the Snow, The Summer Without You, The Paris Secret, and Christmas Under the Stars.  

How did your Christmas reading go? Do you still have a pile of Christmas themed books yet to be read?

Mailbox Monday - Jan 28th

Mailbox Monday is a meme started by Marcia of To Be Continued. Mailbox Monday is the gathering place for readers to share the books that came in their mailbox during the last week. It now has a permanent home at the Mailbox Monday blog. Head over and check out other books received during the last week.

I received one book again this week Before She Knew Him by Peter Swanson. I won this from a publisher competition and it's always exciting to get a surprise win in the mail.
Publication date 7th March 2019.

✿.。.:* ☆:**:about the book:**:.☆*.:。.✿

Hen and her husband Lloyd have settled into a quiet life in a new house outside of Boston, Massachusetts. Hen (short for Henrietta) is an illustrator and works out of a studio nearby, and has found the right meds to control her bipolar disorder. Finally, she’s found some stability and peace.

But when they meet the neighbors next door, that calm begins to erode as she spots a familiar object displayed on the husband’s office shelf. The sports trophy looks exactly like one that went missing from the home of a young man who was killed two years ago. Hen knows because she’s long had a fascination with this unsolved murder—an obsession she doesn’t talk about anymore, but can’t fully shake either.

Could her neighbor, Matthew, be a killer? Or is this the beginning of another psychotic episode like the one she suffered back in college, when she became so consumed with proving a fellow student guilty that she ended up hurting a classmate?

The more Hen observes Matthew, the more she suspects he’s planning something truly terrifying. Yet no one will believe her. Then one night, when she comes face to face with Matthew in a dark parking lot, she realizes that he knows she’s been watching him, that she’s really on to him. And that this is the beginning of a horrifying nightmare she may not live to escape. .  

✿.。.:* ☆:**:.:**:.☆*.:。.✿ 

That is quite some blurb and I'm hoping the book is as great as it sounds. I haven't read this author before so interested to see his style. 

 ✿.。.:* ☆:**:.:**:.☆*.:。.✿

I've read a few books over the past week and will try to post reviews during the coming week.
The Christmas Lights - A romantic suspense featuring Zac and Bo who are instagram influencers. They travel around the world and are paid huge amounts to advertise brand names. How hard can it be?

Death of an Old Girl - An old school cozy murder mystery.

Bridge of Clay - This was a chunker at almost 600 pages I  kept putting off reading it.  This book was everything, tender, sad , uplifting, devastating. I cried and cried. Keep an eye out for my review.

What has arrived in your mailbox this week? Feel free to leave a link to your Mailbox Monday post in the comments below. 

Wednesday 23 January 2019

Book Review: Polar Melt (Crime/ Thriller)

Polar Melt
Martin Roy Hill

Publisher:  32-32 North
Publication Date: 31st December 2018
Pages: 215
Format Read: eBook
Source: Courtesy of the author


 They call it simply "the object."

It sits at the bottom of the Arctic Ocean, waiting.

Waiting . . . for what?

An American research ship disappears in the Arctic's Chukchi Sea only to reappear a few days later. When a special U.S. Coast Guard unit boards the vessel, they find it deserted, its power grid wrecked, two bombs waiting to explode, and an even darker secret hidden below her decks.

A few miles across the international maritime boundary, a massive Russian oil platform harbors its own secret. Below the behemoth lies a mysterious energy source so powerful it threatens to topple the balance of world power in favor of Moscow.

The Russians will to kill to protect it. The Americans will kill to stop its recovery.

And still . . . the object waits.


Polar Melt is a political thriller set in an Arctic summer where the once permanent ice cap was at its lowest recorded ebb in history.

A research ship, the Franklin, built by the US Navy but under charter by an Oceanographic institute goes missing. All communication is lost.
The coast guard’s Deployable Specialised Force crew of six is sent to discover what happened to the Franklin crew. The team’s mission was to investigate mysterious occurrences at sea and whether whatever caused it still posed a threat to maritime traffic.

A separate crew of Marines is sent to salvage the ship but when it starts to look like the Franklin was sabotaged both crews begin to work together to find the saboteurs. The two crews encounter strange electrical failures and the line between real and imagined is blurred as mythology and unidentified submerged objects (unknown subsurface phenomena) play a role in the story. All the while the Russians are up to some shady business on an oil rig whilst they keep a close watch on the US ship and its occupants.
It is clear that Hill knows his subject as technical details and statistics of the ship and submarine are all explained for the layman.

The story quickly evolves from a mystery to a political thriller and the current political climate is used to create a highly feasible plot and an action packed story that would appeal to maritime enthusiasts and readers of political thrillers alike.

Hill’s characters are well developed, his plots are believable and he shows his readers, once again, his love for an explosive ending.

‘Strange and mysterious things happen at sea’

My rating 4/5  ⭐⭐⭐⭐

*This review is: 
Book 'P' in the AtoZ challenge 

Martin Roy Hill is an award-winning author of mystery thrillers and science fiction. All of his books are available from Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

Martin spent more than 20 years as a staff reporter and editor for newspapers and magazines before becoming a military analyst specializing in battlefield medical operations for the Navy. His freelance credits include Reader's Digest, LIFE, Newsweek, Omni, American History, Aviation History, Coast Guard Magazine, Retired Officer Magazine, the Los Angeles Times Sunday Opinion Section, and many more.

Much of his freelance work involves historical topics, especially military history. He was a lead contributor to the 1995 WWII anthology, "From Pearl Harbor to Nagasaki: America at War," published by the Retired Officer Association (now called the Military Officer Association). He was also a contributor to the 2013 Civil War anthology, "Gettysburg: Three Days that Saved the United States," published by I-5 Publishing.

Martin served in the U.S. Coast Guard Reserve, the Navy Reserve and the California National Guard. He lives in San Diego, California, with his wife, Winke, son, Brandon, and their feline overseer, Harry.