British · cosy · fun · mystery

Blog Tour ‘n’ Book review – Blooming Murder

Blooming Murder

MURDER IS BLOSSOMING IN THE WELSH BORDERS.

Aldermaston’s having a bad day. A falling hanging-basket has killed the town’s mayor, and a second narrowly missed him. His wife wants him to build her new greenhouse in three days, and some nutter is sending him death threats.

This isn’t the quiet life he expected as the new Marquess of Mortiforde.

It’s the annual Borders in Blossom competition, and Mortiforde is battling with Portley Ridge in the final. But this is no parochial flower competition. The mayor’s mishap looks like murder, and there’s another body in the river. Someone desperately wants Portley Ridge to win for the fifteenth successive year.

So when a mysterious group of guerrilla gardeners suddenly carpet bomb Mortiforde with a series of stunning floral delights one night, a chain reaction of floral retaliation ensues.

Can Aldermaston survive long enough to uncover who is trying to kill him, and why? And can he get his wife’s greenhouse built in time?

Purchase Links

UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Blooming-Murder-Marquess-Mortiforde-Mysteries-ebook/dp/B094DCYK9Q/

US – https://www.amazon.com/Blooming-Murder-Marquess-Mortiforde-Mysteries-ebook/dp/B094DCYK9Q/

Author Bio

Simon Whaley is an author, writer and photographer who lives in the hilly bit of Shropshire. Blooming Murder is the first in his Marquess of Mortiforde Mysteries, set in the idyllic Welsh Borders – a place many people struggle to locate on a map (including by some of those who live here). He’s written several non-fiction books, many if which contain his humorous take on the world, including the bestselling One Hundred Ways For A Dog To Train Its Human and two editions in the hugely popular Bluffer’s Guide series (The Bluffer’s Guide to Dogs and The Bluffer’s Guide to Hiking). His short stories have appeared in Take A Break, Woman’s Weekly Fiction Special, The Weekly News and The People’s Friend. Meanwhile his magazine articles have delighted readers in a variety of publications including BBC Countryfile, The People’s Friend, Coast, The Simple Things and Country Walking.

Simon lives in Shropshire (which just happens to be a Welsh Border county) and, when he gets stuck with his writing, he tramps the Shropshire hills looking for inspiration and something to photograph. Some of his photographs appear on the national and regional BBC weather broadcasts under his BBC WeatherWatcher nickname of Snapper Simon. (For those of you who don’t know, they get a lot of weather in Shropshire.)

Social Media Links

Twitter: https://twitter.com/simonwhaley

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SimonWhaleyAuthor

My Review

If you’re looking for a funny, cosy mystery with a cracking pace, you’ve come to the right place. Quintessentially British humour is in abundance here, as are the blooms … and the dead bodies.

Now, the characters’ names might be tongue-twisters, but they perfectly sum up the vibe of this story – think of it as a mash-up of Carry On films, The Darling Buds of May and an Agatha Christie mystery and you’ll be primed for the Borders in Blossom competition where innuendo and double entendres are in full bloom.

So, to the story: When his older brother proves not to be the legitimate heir to the Marquess of Mortiforde title, Aldermaston and his wife are obliged to take up the position, bringing a halt to their previous lives to serve the community as his family always has. Part of his role includes being Chair of the Borderer’s Guild on behalf of the people of Mortiforde. As is the norm, the village has entered the Borders in Bloom competition, reaching the final two along with the winners for the past fourteen years, Portley Ridge. The prize is to host the horticultural TV show in the village, which is guaranteed to boost the village coffers in tourism alone.

Members of the County Council, or rather one member, the Chief Exec, takes advantage of Aldermaston’s absence at a meeting to take a vote on the Marquess’s position as Chair, convincing many (through nefarious means) to call for Aldermaston’s resignation if Mortiforde loses once again to their rivals at Portley Ridge.

Meanwhile, as the competition is launched, a hanging basket falls and knocks out the Mayor, who later dies of her injuries. A second hanging basket, placed above Aldermaston’s head has also been sabotaged. But why would anyone want to kill them? Aldermaston determines to find out.

Aldermaston has a battle on his hands both to find the Mayor’s killer and to win the competition, but unbeknownst to him, the villagers of Mortiforde (the allotment group, in particular) are also fed up of losing and launch a plan of their own to win the competition.

When the Mayor’s belongings are investigated, a file with Aldermaston’s name on it suggests she has discovered some dodgy undertakings going on that may explain how Portley Ridge has won so consistently over the years. Has the competition been fixed? There is very good reason to suspect so, and threats upon Aldermaston’s life plus the “unfortunate” drowning of a second councillor seems to imply that somebody wants to stop Aldermaston from digging further into the case.

Putting all thoughts of the other jobs on his to-do list (building his wife’s new greenhouse, and winning the competition) he and Lisa, the new Democracy Support Officer, pick up the case where the Mayor left off, but it’s not without its complications.

While they investigate, the “guerrilla gardeners” of Mortiforde spring into action and the roundabouts of the village burst into bloom with dazzling displays of floral fancy that surely must earn them the title this year. The villagers are delighted with the overnight transformations, and hopes are high, much to the annoyance of the person(s) behind the death threats for whom Portley Ridge must win and Aldermaston’s involvement has to end.

Naturally, it’s less straightforward with yet more sabotage to come, hidden tunnels, dark dealings (I mean, where HAVE all the gardening guys from the TV show gone?) and some very un-village-like shenanigans going on, and let’s not even mention the cottage cheese incident.

Chock-a-block with over the top characters, oodles of humour and some plain old silliness, Blooming Murder is a breath of fresh air in the cosy mystery genre, combining olde-worlde village charm with modern day crimes. A chuckle-worthy read. Bring on book 2.

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Blog Tour ‘n’ Book Review – The Widow Catcher (plus Giveaway)

The Widow Catcher

by Jonette Blake

February 1-28, 2021 Tour

Synopsis:

Delia Frost loves her job at the bank. She loves her customers, most of whom are elderly. She doesn’t love the idea of quitting her job to travel around Australia in a motor home with her husband who is recovering from a heart attack. And she can’t bring herself to tell him that she doesn’t want to go. Days before she quits her job, she is invited to a book club meeting, run by a local celebrity. This seems like a beacon of hope, one last chance to do something for herself before she leaves it all behind. But this isn’t a random invitation. Delia has been carefully selected by a serial killer to play her part in the murders of elderly widows. ​Finding herself caught in a web of blackmail and murder, Delia is now keen to leave this town behind. But the killer doesn’t want to let her go.

Book Details:

Genre: Thriller
Published by: Jonette Blake
Publication Date: August 27th 2020
Number of Pages: 260
ISBN: 9798675198726
Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

Read an excerpt from The Widow Catcher:

Chapter 1

Susan

ONE WEEK AGO

The setting sun cast a shadow on the headstone. A cool wind blew down the mountain. Susan Johnson tugged at her long woollen coat thinking she would soon be trading this blustery weather for tropical bliss and poolside cocktails.

She placed a hand on the headstone to steady herself and leaned over to drop a bouquet of lilies on the gravesite. She regretted not being able to bend low to lovingly place the flowers in the slot provided, but if her seventy-six-year-old body tilted even a few degrees she would topple over. It was embarrassing having paramedics lift her off the floor.

“This is goodbye for now, love,” she told the ten-years-dead occupant. “Just for a little while. I won’t be visiting because I’m off on a holiday.” She smiled and nodded. “Yes, I know what you’re thinking. I never go anywhere by myself. But I’m not going alone.”

The snap of twigs pierced the frigid air. Her grip remained on the headstone for support. But she managed to twist her head to catch a glimpse of the noisemaker.

Someone was here.

“I won’t be long,” she told the man. “I was just telling Eric about our trip.”

The man stood with his hands thrust deep into the pockets of his trouser pants. The sunlight framed his body, and she wanted to picture him as an angel, instead the image of angry plovers at the beach protecting their nests popped into mind. The sneaky way they flew towards you with the rising sun blinding you to their attack meant you heard the click of their beaks too late.

She pushed off this sense of trepidation and the chill that followed. It was just nerves. This trip was something new for her; it was bound to give her goose bumps.

She returned her attention to her late husband’s grave. “We’re in for a storm. You’d better batten down the hatches.” She laughed gently, then her features grew serious. “My new friend has promised to take me to North Queensland. Well, to the airport at least. That’s a big help. Once I’m on the plane I’ll be fine. Ah, Eric, I’m finally going to a place where the nights are warm and I wish you could be coming with me. I’ll be gone a few weeks.”

“Susan,” her visitor called out. “I’m ready when you are.”

“We’re off to the airport,” she told the gravestone.

The day had finally arrived when she was going on holiday. Without her friend’s support, she’d never have found the courage to say ‘book it’. He’d helped with booking the flights, hotels, and the tourist destination. He’d even created a week-long itinerary. She fumbled in her pocket for it but couldn’t find it.

Where have I put it?

Never mind. Her friend would have a copy.

She was finally going to see the Great Barrier Reef. It had been a cast-aside dream until her friend had searched on the website and found a tour operator with a glass-bottom boat who specialised in trips for people with mobility issues.

“Susan,” he called out again. “We don’t want to be late.”

“I’m almost done,” she replied, though the wind snatched away her words. Once, she’d had the strength in her lungs to be heard over an earthquake, but years of cigarette smoking had reduced her voice to an almost inaudible wheeze.

She spoke to the headstone again: “I know you think he’s only using me for my money, but he’s never asked for any. He’s not like that.” She patted the headstone. “I’ll bring you back a present.”

She hobbled over with the aid of her cane to join the man.

He lifted a bouquet of flowers from a shopping bag at his feet. “I brought something to show my respects,” he said, thrusting them at her.

Yellow roses were her favourite; they’d be wasted on Eric. Her late husband wouldn’t have known a rose from a weed.

The man smiled at her. “Will you place these on his grave for me?”

“I thought you said we were in a hurry.”

“I said we don’t want to be late. We have time to say our goodbyes.”

She glanced back at the gravesite. There was a lot of uneven lawn between here and there. Her cane had sunk into the dirt already and almost tripped her over a dozen times.

“You should take them yourself,” she told the man.

“Susan, I feel downright scandalous taking his wife to the airport for the first real holiday of her life. I can’t go over there and rub this in his face. Even in death, a person has dignity. My mother used to tell me that all the time. She was a nurse at a hospital in Sydney. Saw people dying every day. A lot of elderly people, too. The stories she told me of comfort she gave them in their final years has made me the compassionate man I am today.”

Susan knew a snow job when she heard one. She was old, arthritic, deaf in one ear, probably riddled with emphysema, but she was not stupid. Still, a sense of gratitude swept over her. She would have been locked inside the aged-care facility forever if her young friend had not convinced her to do something adventurous with the remaining years of her life.

“All right,” she said. “And then we’re off to the airport.”

She gripped her cane in one hand and the yellow roses in the other and set off across the uneven lawn.

“Be sure to inhale the perfume before you place them on the grave,” the man called out. “I asked the florist to select the most delectable bunch.”

Susan stopped and pulled the bouquet closer to her face to take in the scent. This bunch was strong. Probably perfumed. Everything was perfumed these days: soap, washing powder, toilet paper, tissues. As if the big companies could convince the population that life smelled like roses, therefore it must be roses.

She took a deep breath. This was a strange scent. Stronger than most. Not rosy at all. More like yellow jonquils. They had a stink that could cause nostril hairs to fall out.

She coughed on the odour. Her cough turned into a fit, one that fifty years of smoking ensured would bring a crushing pain to her chest.

Then her head began to swim. Her vision blurred. Her chest should have gulped for air. Instead it felt like it was sealing itself shut, jam-jar tight.

She twisted and tried to run toward the man who was still dappled in hues of orange and pink as the sun set behind him. She called out for help but her voice was lost. She couldn’t move.

The cool wind raced along her body like a knife, except this wasn’t the wind. This was an invisible chill attacking her veins.

Her limbs grew weak. She lost her grip on her cane.

A stroke? A heart attack? Years of being warned about the impact of smoking did not lessen the shock that it was actually happening.

Unable to support herself, she fell to the ground.

“Help,” she called out, though her voice was barely above a whisper.

The sun was setting faster now. Her visitor was now a dark, ominous shadow.

A shadow that wasn’t rushing to help her.

He should have grabbed his phone and called for medical help.

He should have raced over to her and administered first aid.

He should have done something.

Instead, he stood at the edge of the cemetery with his hands thrust in his pockets, rocking back and forth on his heels.

“Help,” she spluttered in between chest-breaking coughs.

She couldn’t get enough air into her lungs.

The man still did not make any movement to help her.

At last, he walked towards her and knelt down to stare into her face. His stare was vacant, expressionless, and when he tilted his head and frowned, she realised it wasn’t a vacant stare, but one of curiosity.

As if he’d never seen someone die before.

She reached for his hand.

He reached out for her.

His hand moved to the left toward the flowers. She noticed he wore gloves.

Had he been wearing them earlier?

The bouquet of flowers were pushed closer to her face. The pungent stench had lessened, as if her senses had adapted to the stink. More likely they were numbed by something else. Chemicals.

Now she recognised the scent. It was…

Sharp pain shot throughout her body. Her muscles contorted. Her vision blurred.

She saw his shadow fade away.

And then everything went dark.

***

Excerpt from The Widow Catcher by Jonette Blake. Copyright 2020 by Jonette Blake. Reproduced with permission from Jonette Blake. All rights reserved.

 

Author Bio:

Jonette Blake writes supernatural thrillers and suspense thrillers. She is the author of over ten books and dozens of short stories, writing as D L Richardson.

She was born in Ireland and grew up in Australia. She lived through the 80s and music is still a big part of her life. When she is not writing, she plays her piano and guitar, listens to music, reads, and enjoys the beach.

​She has held jobs in administration, sales and marketing, has worked in HR, payroll, and as a bank teller. Her latest novel The Widow Catcher is based on the coastal town she lives in and her own bank teller experience.

Her books are standalone titles.

Catch Up With Jonette On:
www.JonetteBlake.com, Goodreads, BookBub, Instagram, Twitter, & Facebook!

My Review

4/5 stars

Delia has been so worried about her husband’s health that she daren’t tell him that she doesn’t want to give up her job and go travelling in a campervan around Australia. Not only does she fear she might trigger another heart attack in him, but she also worries her two children won’t have anywhere to return to, should they need her. All this despite them both willingly having moved abroad to live their own lives.

To say she is stuck in a rut – the dependable wife, mother & colleague – is an understatement. When Andrew, a colleague at the bank where she works, invites her to his monthly book club hosted by a local celebrity – a former famous actress – she jumps at the chance. Will this add some sparkle to her life, and give her the confidence to tell husband Richard that she’s not as keen on his travel plans as he is? Or is this her one last hurrah before succumbing to a life she doesn’t want? Either way, you have to feel sorry for her – attending a book club doesn’t scream risk or adventure or excitement or even fun.

The book club, while held at the actress’s beautiful home, is anything but exciting, aside from the gossip about the increased number of deaths within the community. When she leaves, the hostess forces an envelope into Delia’s hands, which puts her in a very awkward position. Not really wanting to attend another meeting of the book club, Delia tries to hand the envelope and its contents back – but Karen, the actress is having none of it. In fact, she wants Delia’s help to solve the mystery of the recent deaths … and to stop either of them from becoming the next victim.

Delia being Delia can’t walk away, she either too nice or too intrigued by the story Karen tells her. So, predictably, she finds herself embroiled in the mystery, going so far as to look into the bank records of the victims and placing herself very firmly in the path of the killer.

There are some great suspenseful moments as Delia, the mother of dependability, sees her life thrown into a spiral of disasters. From complaints about her work at the bank, to plants on the porch, not to mention the drama over her car keys and her encounter with the police, Delia certainly gets a glimpse of a very different and much scarier life than she is used to.

I loved her relationship with her sister, and how they came together stronger. Sometimes, I probably overestimated Delia, and expected her to break the mould but her innate “niceness” held her back, so her sister’s input really made the story for me. Though the killer is revealed early on, the motive behind the killings kept me engaged and the pace certainly picked up in the second half. From a cosy-esque mystery to hints of psychological suspense, this was an intriguing read with some great characters.

Tour Participants:

Visit these other great hosts on this tour for more great reviews, interviews, guest posts, and giveaways!

Click here to view The Widow Catcher by Jonette Blake Participants

 

Giveaway!:

This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for Jonette Blake. There will be 1 winner of one (1) Amazon.com Gift Card. The giveaway begins on February 1, 2021 and runs through March 2, 2021. Void where prohibited.

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blog tour · book review · cosy · mystery

Audiobook Blog Tour ‘n’ Review – The Invisible Case

The Invisible Case

Narrator: Bridget Eaton

Heartbreaking tragedy or cold-blooded murder…?

An Italian stranger arrives in Tamarisk Bay and brings with him mystery and intrigue….

It’s Easter 1970 in the seaside town of Tamarisk Bay. Amateur sleuth and professional librarian, Janie Juke, is settling into motherhood and some quality time with her family. When her Aunt Jessica is due back from Rome after nine years travelling around Europe, she arrives back in town with a new Italian friend, Luigi, and the whole family soon get embroiled in a tangle of mystery and suspicion, with death and passion at the heart of the story.

As time runs out on Luigi as prime suspect for murder, Janie has to use all of her powers of deduction in the footsteps of her hero, Hercule Poirot, to uncover the facts. Why did Luigi come to Tamarisk Bay? What is the truth about his family?

As Luigi’s story unfolds, tragedy seems to haunt the past, present and unless Janie acts fast, possibly what is yet to come.

If you love Agatha Christie style twists and turns, or are a fan of Call the Midwife, Endeavour, Inspector George Gently and all those great 60s characters, then you will love this Sussex Crime series.

Purchase Link –

UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Invisible-Case-Heartbreaking-Tragedy-Coldblooded/dp/B08NXYBLTF

US – https://www.amazon.com/Invisible-Case-Heartbreaking-Tragedy-Coldblooded/dp/B08NY2JNHR

Author Bio

Isabella is never happier than when she is immersing herself in the sights, sounds and experiences of the 1960s. Researching all aspects of family life back then formed the perfect launch pad for her works of fiction. Isabella rediscovered her love of writing fiction during two happy years working on and completing her MA in Professional Writing and since then has gone to publish five novels, two novellas and a short story collection.

The Invisible Case is the third book in her Sussex Crime Mystery series, featuring young librarian and amateur sleuth, Janie Juke. Set in the late 1960s, in the fictional seaside town of Tamarisk Bay, we meet Janie, who looks after the mobile library. She is an avid lover of Agatha Christie stories – in particular Hercule Poirot – using all she has learned from the Queen of Crime to help solve crimes and mysteries. All three novels are now available as audiobooks.

As well as three novels, there are three novellas in the series, which explore some of the back story to the Tamarisk Bay characters.

Her latest novel, Crossing the Line, is the first of a new series of Sussex Crimes, featuring retired Italian detective, Giuseppe Bianchi who arrives in the quiet seaside town of Bexhill-on-Sea, East Sussex, to find a dead body on the beach and so the story begins…

Isabella’s standalone novel, The Forgotten Children, deals with the emotive subject of the child migrants who were sent to Australia – again focusing on family life in the 1960s, when the child migrant policy was still in force.

Social Media Links

https://isabellamuir.com/

https://www.facebook.com/IsabellaMuirAuthor

https://twitter.com/SussexMysteries

My Review

I felt this was a very traditional mystery. much in the style of Agatha Christie. Set across Italy and England via a train journey through picturesque countryside, the mystery begins when Luigi’s briefcase is stolen. (He is accompanying Jessica back to visit her family in England) He is sure he saw the thief, but feels he’s not being taken seriously.

In England, Jessica is staying with her brother but Luigi is in the way, and so books into a B&B run by a fellow Italian. When a new guest arrives at the B&B and is soon found dead in his room, Jessica’s niece, Janie is curious …more than curious really. As an amateur sleuth, she takes an interest in Luigi and the new guest, determined to find out more about the man who accompanied her aunt.

The missing briefcase does play a role later in the story, as do other elements an characters connected to Luigi.

For me, the narration was hard to follow at times. It was very breathy and often too quiet (even at full volume) and I had to rewind often to hear what was said.

Overall, it’s a gently-paced mystery, perfect for fans of cosy mysteries but with a different kind of sleuth.

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Blog Tour ‘n’ Book Review -The Silver Rose Dating Agency

The Silver Rose Dating Agency

When lonely widow Kitty Merriweather moves to Derbyshire’s Hope Valley, she joins the Silver Rose online dating site because it offers a safe place for the over sixties to find romance.

There, she meets the enigmatic Harvey, a scientist working on a conservation project in Bali who promises her “hot days and stormy nights.”

Love blooms quickly but Kitty breaks all the rules laid down by the agency, putting herself at risk. When little things don’t add up she dismisses them as being unimportant. Nothing matters more than her plans for them to live happily ever after.

When she confides in her new friend, Edna Reid, octogenarian and former café owner, Kitty gets angry at Edna’s implication she is likely the victim of a scam. The more Edna hears about Harvey, the more she is convinced he’s only interested in Kitty for her money.

Using her knowledge of computers Edna finally uncovers the truth, but where does black magic and murder fit into this intriguing cosy mystery?

Purchase Links

UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B08KFFMQB2

US – https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08KFFMQB2

Author Bio

Angelena Boden has spent thirty- five years as an international training consultant, specialising in behavioural management and conflict resolution. She trained in Transactional Analysis, the psychology of communication and behaviour, her preferred tool for counselling and coaching.

She originates from the Peak District but has spent a life time travelling and living in places as far apart as Vancouver, Dubai, Paris, Seville and Iran. Now semi-retired in Great Malvern, she writes every morning, walks the hills and paints landscapes every afternoon and fits family and reading in between.

She is the author of two novels published by Urbane Publications (rights reverted) and two self-published cosy mysteries and a number of business books (Management Pocketbooks). Angelena is a regular blogger for a mental health publisher (Trigger) and Autumn Voices website which promotes authors over 60.

Social Media Links – angelenaboden.com

My Review

A light, cosy mystery with quintessentially charming villagers and an equally delightful setting. Miss Marple would approve!

Having retired from running The Happy Oatcake café, Edna Reid is not ready to put her feet up just yet. An avid crossword puzzler and keen participant in village life, Edna keeps a keen eye on the goings-on in the village of Hope, and if that means solving a real-life mystery, then so be it.

Kitty Merriweather is a recent widower, and Hope’s newest resident. She moves into Lavender Lodge, a property purchased by Bob, her late husband, and the intended destination for their later years. Kitty’s reliance on Bob for everything is quickly evident, and the single life is not something to which she easily adapts. This leads to her joining an online dating agency: The Silver Rose Dating Agency, and being something of a technophobe she relies on others to set everything up – from security to payments and everything in between.

Edna and Kitty first meet at the church choir, where the organist, Ned, is delighted to have someone of Kitty’s calibre join them ( she is apparently a well-known operatic singer). Choir practice is far from smooth, however, as the church is beset with vandals and threats, and it seems Ned is the target.

Meanwhile, Kitty has found herself a new admirer through the agency, and is over the moon – but also a bit frustrated that her new beau, Harvey, is camera shy … not to mention in need of cash. His requests to Kitty start small, but soon escalate.

Edna has been watching a TV series about scammers using agencies like The Silver Rose to steal thousands of pounds from vulnerable women, and she feels Kitty might be such a victim. Not that Kitty will hear a bad word about Harvey. Edna has her work cut out if she’s to prove anything. Fortunately, Edna is up for the challenge, and calls on her friend Manny to help.

This is quite a busy story, with lots of subplots running alongside the agency story. Do they all work? For me, maybe not. That said, it’s quite an entertaining mystery, if a little predictable. Edna and Manny are delightful; even Kitty has some redeeming features in the end, though there are a few less likeable characters that muddy the waters.

This is cosy in style and substance, and an easy read when you’re looking to escape the world for a few hours.

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Blog Tour ‘n’ Book Review – Murder Ahoy!

Murder Ahoy!

Famous crime writer Bella Tyson is hired to co-host a Murder Mystery cruise, on a luxury liner sailing from Southampton to New York. She’s expecting an easy ride; fun and games, surrounded by amateur sleuths and fans of her books, all the while staying in a deluxe cabin and enjoying the spa and the amazing restaurants on board, culminating in a visit to one of her favourite cities in the world – the Big Apple.

She’s NOT expecting to be stuck on a boat in the middle of the Atlantic with her two least favourite people in the world, her hot but unfaithful bastard ex-husband Joel Quigley and fellow crime writer, bitch goddess and Twitter frenemy, Louise Meyers. And when real live dead bodies start turning up – as well as fake not-really-dead bodies – Bella’s dreams of being pampered on the high seas turn sour.

Accused of a murder she would have liked to commit but didn’t, and helped (or hindered) by a gang of unlikely detectives, can Bella find out who the real murderer is before the ship reaches its destination and New York’s finest drag her off?

Purchase Links mybook.to/Ahoy

 

Author Bio

Fiona Leitch is a writer with a chequered past. She’s written for football and motoring magazines, DJ’ed at illegal raves and is a stalwart of the low budget TV commercial, even appearing as the Australasian face of a cleaning product called ‘Sod Off’. After living in London and Cornwall she’s finally settled in sunny New Zealand, where she enjoys scaring her cats by trying out dialogue on them.

She spends her days dreaming of retiring to a crumbling Venetian palazzo, walking on the windswept beaches of West Auckland, and writing funny, flawed but awesome female characters.

Her debut novel and first in the Bella Tyson series, ‘Dead in Venice’, was published by Audible as one of their Crime Grant finalists. Fiona is represented by Lina Langlee at the North Literary Agency.

Social Media Links

https://twitter.com/fkleitch

www.fionaleitch.com

https://www.pinterest.nz/fionakleitch/

My Review

A Murder Mystery cruise sounds like a great idea, especially when competing with rival teams headed up by some of the finest authors in the industry. No wonder bestselling crime writer Bella Tyson couldn’t resist taking part. After all, as a co-host and team leader, she and her new husband would get one of the best suites and a free trip to New York too.

Bella’s excitement is soon dampened – nay, decimated – when she learns that the two other co-hosts have been substituted at the last minute. One being her ex-husband, the other a rival author.

Still, it’s only a game, a bit of fun … isn’t it?

Of course it is … until the murders became a reality. Not only that, everything points to Bella as the prime suspect. Can she solve the mystery and clear her name before they arrive in New York? Well, you can be sure she’ll do her damnedest.

The story speeds ahead, yet there’s still plenty of character development too. As Bella eliminates one passenger after another, the layers to their personalities and lives unravel. All is not as it seems.

This is a funny and absorbing read. Bella has a knack for a witty comeback, and with both her ex and rival onboard she is not short of a few colourful phrases to dish out. It’s probably not the most difficult crime to solve but the way Bella handles the things that come her way is hilarious, with frequent scathing one-liner responses. I dare you not to laugh out loud.

Hugely entertaining as a story and when you need a good laugh. Enjoy!

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FREE Books – Mystery & Crime (plus: Win a $25 giftcard)

If you’re a fan of mystery and crime books, then this is going to be right up your street.

Find your next crime or mystery novel among these FREE ebooks.

From cozy mystery to cold cases, suspense to hard-boiled police procedural, there is sure to be something to take your fancy.

You’ll be asked to sign-up to the authors’ newletters in return for your free book(s), but you can unsubscribe at any time. Although, hopefully you’ll be keen to see what else these authors have to offer and newsletter subscribers tend to get access to advanced copies and other freebies. Oh, and did I mention there’s a chance to win a $25 giftcard too.

What have you got to lose?

 

Follow this link for more details. You may even find you next new favourite author too.

Many thanks to Book Cave and author, Christer Tholin for organising this awesome deal.

 

PS – the prequel to my cold cases cosy mystery series is included in this promotion. This story is currently only available to my newsletter subscribers, so if you’re interested, please check out “Never Forgotten” under my pen name bea kendall.

As always,

 

 

blog tour · book launch · cosy · mystery

Release Blitz – Hairballs & Homicide

A Kitty Beret Cafe Mystery, Book 1

Cozy Mystery

Release Date: June 26, 2020

 

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When Ellie Warren opens the Kitty Beret Café, her life revolves
around finding forever homes for rescued cats and serving lattes. That is,
until a woman’s body is discovered behind her shop—the same
woman who’d thrown a hissy fit with Ellie in front of lots of
witnesses. With Ellie’s cat, Templeton, supplying clues and the help
of handsome Detective Simon Dare, she’s on the prowl for the murderer.
Will Ellie discover the identity of the culprit before the murderer sinks
their claws into her?

 

 

 About the Author

Ruth J. Hartman spends her days herding cats and her nights spinning
mysterious tales that make you smile. She, her husband, and their cats love
to spend time curled up in their recliners watching old Cary Grant movies.
Well, the cats sit in the people’s recliners. Not that the cats couldn’t get
their own furniture. They just choose to shed on someone else’s.

Ruth, a left-handed, cat-herding, farmhouse-dwelling writer uses her sense
of humor as she writes tales of lovable, klutzy women who seem to find
trouble without even trying.

Ruth’s husband and best friend, Garry, reads her manuscripts, rolls his
eyes at her weird story ideas, and loves her in spite of her penchant for
insisting all of her books have at least one cat in them.

 

Contact Links 

Website

Twitter

Facebook

Promo Link

 

Purchase Link

Amazon

RABT Book Tours & PR
As always,
blog tour · book review · cosy · crime · humour

Blog Tour ‘n’ Book Review – Marrow Jam

MURDER, MYSTERY…AND MARROWS

Some people would describe Beattie Bramshaw as a pillar of the community. Many would applaud her numerous successes in the bakery competition at the annual village show. A small number might say, if pushed, that they find her a little on the bossy side. And one or two might just whisper the words ‘interfering’ and ‘busybody’ behind her back.

But no-one would have her down as a murderer.

So why is she being questioned in Dreighton police station after being found in the local allotments, at the dead of night, wielding a kitchen knife just yards away from where local lottery winner, Yvonne Richards, was found stabbed to death? And what does all of this have to do with Doug Sparrow’s prize marrows?

Marrow Jam is a comedy crime caper in the spirit of Agatha Raisin. It will have you chuckling all the way through many a cup of tea.

Amazon UK

My Review

The story jumps straight in with Beattie being arrested after having been found brandishing a knife on the allotments. Unfortunately for Beattie, a body has also been found nearby, the victim stabbed to death by a weapon similar in size to her knife. The police officer in charge is adamant Beattie is the killer, and when during her rambling account of events she admits to not liking the victim, then jealousy seems the most likely motive for her crime. 

In an attempt to prove her innocence, Beattie insists on giving a full and frank account which involves steering off topic so many times as to test the police officer’s patience.

I’ll be honest, I was ready to lock her up and throw away the key – not for the murder, but for simply being so annoying! As Beattie’s explanation unfolded, she didn’t endear herself to me until very close to the end when the reasons for her pernickety, prudish and determined nature was clarified. 

The nostalgia of 1999 was lovely to reflect on, especially right now, and the author came up with some of the best metaphors I’ve seen in a long time that so depicted the era and took me right back. 

I’m a big fan of cosy mysteries. You might say “it’s my jam”, and while this was entertaining overall, it didn’t quite resonate with me in the way most mysteries do. The constant timeline changes, while clearly marked at each chapter’s start, meant I had to flick back a lot to double-check where the story was. Maybe I wasn’t concentrating hard enough! The pace began well, faltered a little in the middle but then picked up again towards the end – there was a lot going on in that village. 

Marrow Jam is more of a funny story than a real mystery in my eyes, the humour often bordering on slapstick, Set in a typical English village with the ubiquitous annual fête, it offers a cast of quirky older characters with huge personalities. A charming story with plenty of laughs thrown in. 

About the author:

Susan A King lives with her husband in a quiet suburb in Hampshire. Between them they have four grown-up sons.

The inspiration for her first novel, Marrow Jam, came from her long experience and observation of competitors at the local Romsey Show, where she regularly aspires to win Best in Show with her floral arrangements. 

Social Media Links

Twitter – Susan A King

Twitter – Eye and Lightning

 

For more news and reviews, 

 

Audiobook · cosy · mystery · series

Audiobook Blog Tour ‘n’ Review – Scarlet Oaks and the Exposed Photographer

Audiobook Series Blog Tour: Scarlet Oaks Mystery Series by Michaela James

Author: Michaela James

Narrator: Kimberly M. Wetherell

Length: 12 hours 230 minutes

Series: Scarlet Oaks Cozy Mystery Series, Book 2

Publisher: LW Media Group Ltd.

Released: Feb. 6, 2020

Genre: Cozy Mystery

Something sinister is going on at Bay Radio. Is it possible there’s a connection between the mafia-type men who show up after dark, the terrified young women they have in tow, and the ominous commune Scarlet’s sister calls home? A troubled caller’s cryptic clues point to a man from Scarlet’s past. Could he be the key to breaking her sister Violet out of a seemingly impenetrable commune? Scarlet’s new boyfriend gets a crash course on the life and times of Violet, as they enter a world of shadows, sex, and secrets. With more than her own life on the line, Scarlet fights to save her sister. Can Scarlet and friends, armed with only a harebrained scheme and spy store gadgets, solve this mystery? All roads lead back to the cryptic caller. Expose the photographer from Scarlet’s past, and the thick, scandalous web starts to unravel. Jump on this speeding cable car with Scarlet and hold on for dear life. This fast-paced, clever mystery will have you laughing one minute and gasping the next. Spend time with the characters you’ve grown to love and make room in your heart for more. If you grew up reading or listening to Nancy Drew, you’ll love Scarlet Oaks. This is the second book in the Scarlet Oaks series. Continue the adventure – buy Scarlet Oaks and the Exposed Photographer today!

Michaela lives near Reno, Nevada, where there are lovely walking trails and lots of sun. She was born and grew up in Hampshire, England, where there is less sun, but better chocolate! A professional voice over artist and the voice of a local radio station, Michaela enjoys watching great movies with her husband and grown sons, playing tennis and and drinking lots of tea.

WebsiteTwitterFacebookInstagram

Narrator Bio A bright, versatile, broad-next-door type, Kimberly M. Wetherell is rapidly becoming a sought-after talent in the voiceover market, specializing in audiobooks, commercials, and animation. Kimberly has worn multiple hats in the entertainment industry for over 30 years. A graduate of The Theatre School at DePaul University, Kimberly has been an actor, a singer of musical theatre, director of both opera and film, and producer of opera, film, and most recently, commercials. She speaks French, Italian, and German (all thanks to her 15-year career in opera), and, as a lifelong lover of language, has a large catalogue of dialects and accents from around the world at the tip of her tongue. Equally active in the literary world, Kimberly is a published essayist and contributing editor of The Nervous Breakdown. She founded and hosted DISH, a monthly food & drink reading series at SoHo’s Housing Works Bookstore Cafe, as well as having hosted other reading series around NYC, such as NPR’s Dime Stories at Brooklyn’s Barbès and TNB’s Literary Experience at Chinatown’s Happy Endings. Voiceover artistry is the perfect marriage of her life’s two passions, and she couldn’t be happier with this new career pursuit.

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4/5 stars

At 12 hours and 30 minutes long, this was definitely a story within a story within a story. Following on from where book one finished, Scarlet and Sylvia now have a new, larger studio to match their larger audience. Their show, Mending Men, has changed and now includes experts to give advice to men on legal and family matters – from divorce and alimony to grief counselling.

When Scarlet gets a call warning her that she needs to look into a matter concerning someone she knows, thoughts immediately turn to her sister Violet who is living in a “commune” that doesn’t allow visitors from family members. Convinced Violet is in danger, Scarlet and her friends (boyfriend James, plus Tom & Niles) check out the place …and don’t like what they see.

A further clue leads her to a photographer, who she knows from her childhood days as a beauty queen contestant with her sister. All clues point to the commune, so the friends make a visit to their local spy gadget shop and virtually empty the shelves. These scenes resemble those when James Bond visited Q to see all the gadgetry available. Tom’s excitement here is hilarious.

While all this is going on, Scarlet’s brother has disappeared. His wife, Lisa, is unperturbed, as she agrees with her “pastor” that things in her marriage need to change.

From here, the story splits into yet more subplots, all of which come together by the end. But who would have known that a homeless man by the dumpster, a baker, and a man dressed as a cleaning lady would have anything in common in this story? The plot ideas are wild, and funny, poignant and crazy. As before, the story is slow to get going, but once it does it is a wild race to the finish.

Is Violet in danger? Where is Trent? Is there a cult at large? And why does the commune need a photographer?

All will be explained in this cosy mystery tale, where stories of family members and friends mingle with the crime solving capers.

The narrator keeps the story buzzing, injecting life into every character, and keeping them distinct and therefore making it easy to follow.

A little on the long side, but an enjoyable story and a fun and endearing cast of characters.

I received this audiobook as part of my participation in a blog tour with Audiobookworm Promotions. The tour is being sponsored by Michaela James. The gifting of this audiobook did not affect my opinion of it. Dream Cast

Q&A with Author Michaela James
  • Was a possible audiobook recording something you were conscious of while writing?
    • My novels are heavy in dialogue, so an audiobook is absolutely in the back of my mind while writing.
  • How did you select your narrator?
    • I found a sample of Kimberly’s talents on ACX.com and contacted her right away. Fortunately, she was in between assignments and available.
  • How closely did you work with your narrator before and during the recording process?
    • Kimberly requested to read the book prior to agreeing to narrate. She then sent a very in depth questionnaire regarding how I envisioned the characters. This helped her to voice them to match my vision.
  • Were there any real life inspirations behind your writing?
    • Marilyn Oaks is a modern day Mrs. Bennet.
  • Are you an audiobook listener? What about the audiobook format appeals to you?
    • Absolutely. I have an Audible account and listen to audiobooks every evening and on long car journeys.
  • Is there a particular part of this story that you feel is more resonating in the audiobook performance than in the book format?
    • I feel that Kimberly brings my characters to life, which is to me the true beauty of an audiobook.
  • If you had the power to time travel, would you use it? If yes, when and where would you go?
    • I would use it to go back to Jane Austen’s time. It would be fascinating to witness the manners and customs. I love the formality and politeness of the correspondence in that era.
  • Do you have any tips for authors going through the process of turning their books into audiobooks?
    • Really try to find the right narrator. A weak narrator can hurt your book. A good one may cost you more, but it’s so worth it in the long run. Be patient, it’s not an overnight process.
  • What’s next for you?
    • Kimberly Wetherell is in the process of narrating Book 3 in the series, Scarlet Oaks and the Banished Witness. I’m writing Book 4, Scarlet Oaks and the Hollow Man.

Music Playlist https://open.spotify.com/playlist/5PinNfjJufu3w4nnjwa8UK Giveaway

Giveaway: $50 Amazon Gift Card

The Scarlet Oaks Mystery Series Giveaway: $50 Amazon Gift Card https://widget.gleamjs.io/e.js

View the full 14-day schedule here

Plugging you into the audio community since 2016.

Sign up as a tour host here.

Audiobook · book review · cosy · mystery · serial killer · series

Audiobook Tour ‘n’ Review – Scarlet Oaks and the Serial Caller (with giveaway)

Audiobook Series Blog Tour: Scarlet Oaks Mystery Series by Michaela James

Author: Michaela James

Narrator: Kimberly M. Wetherell

Length: 10 hours 25 minutes

Series: Scarlet Oaks Cozy Mystery Series, Book 1

Publisher: LW Media Group Ltd.

Released: Nov. 9, 2019

Genre: Cozy Mystery

Is it possible Scarlet Oaks, the reluctant new host of a men’s call-in show, inspired the first serial killer San Francisco’s seen in some 40 years? Struggling to pay the rent after her boyfriend’s sudden departure, continue her role as mediator in an unconventional family, and feed a micro pig who appears less micro by the day, Scarlet’s life is far from perfect. But when an eerie sounding caller is identified as the bay area’s latest serial killer, it appears her life will never be the same. With the killer continually calling into Scarlet’s show, while managing to stay one step ahead of the San Francisco police, Scarlet begins to fear she’s his next victim. Enlisting best friends Niles and Tom and their often-hilarious help, Scarlet sets out to find the elusive Serial Caller…before he finds her. Root for Scarlet during this heart-pounding and alternately humorous mystery thriller. Fall in love with unforgettable characters, recognize familiar family members, and hold on tight for an adrenaline-filled ride. If you’re a Stephanie Plum fan, make room for Scarlet Oaks! This is the first book in the Scarlet Oaks series.

Michaela lives near Reno, Nevada, where there are lovely walking trails and lots of sun. She was born and grew up in Hampshire, England, where there is less sun, but better chocolate! A professional voice over artist and the voice of a local radio station, Michaela enjoys watching great movies with her husband and grown sons, playing tennis and and drinking lots of tea.

WebsiteTwitterFacebookInstagram

Narrator Bio A bright, versatile, broad-next-door type, Kimberly M. Wetherell is rapidly becoming a sought-after talent in the voiceover market, specializing in audiobooks, commercials, and animation. Kimberly has worn multiple hats in the entertainment industry for over 30 years. A graduate of The Theatre School at DePaul University, Kimberly has been an actor, a singer of musical theatre, director of both opera and film, and producer of opera, film, and most recently, commercials. She speaks French, Italian, and German (all thanks to her 15-year career in opera), and, as a lifelong lover of language, has a large catalogue of dialects and accents from around the world at the tip of her tongue. Equally active in the literary world, Kimberly is a published essayist and contributing editor of The Nervous Breakdown. She founded and hosted DISH, a monthly food & drink reading series at SoHo’s Housing Works Bookstore Cafe, as well as having hosted other reading series around NYC, such as NPR’s Dime Stories at Brooklyn’s Barbès and TNB’s Literary Experience at Chinatown’s Happy Endings. Voiceover artistry is the perfect marriage of her life’s two passions, and she couldn’t be happier with this new career pursuit.

TwitterFacebookInstagram

4/5 stars

As a fan of cosy mysteries, I had an inkling that I was going to enjoy this audiobook. I was right 😉

Firstly, what a great title – perfect for a cosy. It was off to a great start. Secondly, Scarlet is a DJ, now that’s original. Even more so when she’s taken off her successful Top 40 show and given a new slot hosting  “Mending Men”, a late-night show for men. Most have sporting stories and gripes to share, but occasionally a caller is looking for advice. Scarlet is well out of her comfort zone, and the building is an eerie place at midnight when she finishes her shift.  Thirdly, and here’s where the mystery kicks in – a caller with the slowest of slow drawl has a problem with his wife. He likes Scarlet’s suggestion, and calls back a few days later to thank her and let her know he is much happier now. Yeah! Read into that what you will; don’t dismiss him too easily. The narrator is fabulous, especially with this caller.

Outside of her job, Scarlet has a dysfunctional family whom she adores, but who bring a plethora of drama to her life. Her best friends are a marvellous gay couple who care a lot about her, and enjoy entertaining. But the absolute star of Scarlet’s household cavalry is Prudence her not-so-micro micro pig.

Back at work, Scarlet finds flowers on her car windscreen. The same flowers found at the scene of a murder. Are they connected? Is Scarlet in danger? When Stu, the slow drawl caller, rings again, his messages seems more threatening and infinitely personal. But as she hasn’t seen him, only ever heard his voice, she has nothing to go on in terms of tracking him down.

Until …it’s apparent that he has been watching her, and together with her friends she builds a picture of him. But the police can’t find him, and the man’s wife has been murdered. See! Don’t say I didn’t warn you!

As New Year’s Eve approaches, Scarlet’s friends decide to hold a masquerade ball … Uh oh – you can see where this is going, right? Well, now might be the time to get the book and see if your hunches are correct 😉

This is a hugely entertaining story. The narrator, as I said previously, is wonderful. She injects great personality into the characters, and it’s very easy to follow …and get totally drawn in.
As the end approaches, there are some tense moments, but the resolution of the mystery falls a little flat in its delivery. Overall, though, a great story with highly likeable characters and plenty of scope for more mayhem. I’m ready for more from Scarlet Oaks. Bring it on!

I received this audiobook as part of my participation in a blog tour with Audiobookworm Promotions. The tour is being sponsored by Michaela James. The gifting of this audiobook did not affect my opinion of it.

 

Giveaway

Giveaway: $50 Amazon Gift Card

The Scarlet Oaks Mystery Series Giveaway: $50 Amazon Gift Card https://widget.gleamjs.io/e.js

View the full 14-day schedule here

Plugging you into the audio community since 2016.

Sign up as a tour host here.

As always,