Loved Up – Q&A with Marcie Steele

Today’s final instalment in the Loved Up theme week is a great Q&A with Marcie Steele aka Mel Sherratt. Mel is known for her crime novels but has recently published her romance novel, Stirred With Love, with Bookouture, writing as Marcie Steele.

My thanks to Mel and all the contributors this week for all the fab posts.

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1. Tell us a little about Stirred With Love. 

Three women of differing ages are brought together to change a café into a thriving coffee shop. Stirred with Love is predominantly a story about moving on. It’s about the lives the women left behind and how they affect them moving forward, about forming new friendships and creating bonds, about taking chances in love and getting over loss. Of course this is all done with lots of coffee and cake…  

2. Marcie Steele is your romantic alias, Mel Sherratt is known for her gritty crime novels. How do you find it swapping your murderous (literary!) tendencies for more romantic writing? 

I find it very refreshing! It’s such fun to write about love rather than violence. They are two very different genres and I can switch from one to the other quite easily. As a writer, it gives me change too. It keeps things fresh for me. There is nothing nicer than writing about love and friendship.

3. Are you a plan, plan, plan writer or do you sit down and see where the words take you? How long does the process take you from first line to completed novel?

I’m a planner. I work out who my characters are, their sub plots and weave them all together so that I have a beginning, a middle and an end. It takes me, all in all, about four months to write the first draft. I write it quite quickly and then I layer things in during further drafts. For example, the second draft, I will look at plot holes and extra twists, the next draft I will look at characterisation and the next I’ll give it more description. The final draft is more about checking the wording.  Once I’m happy with it, then it goes through structural edits, copy edits and proofs, so all in all, it takes about six months. 

4. What do you do when you aren’t writing? What do you do to relax and get away from it all? 

A very good question. As I will (as Marcie Steele and Mel Sherratt) have ten books out by the end of this year and am already working on two for next year, I spend a lot of time doing promotion, indirectly on social media, and also keeping everything fresh and up-to-date. When I’m not working, I like to catch up with other author’s books, preferably while lounging on a beach in the sun, or I go walking with my fella and our dog, Dexter. Switching off is a big problem, and an addiction, now that social media is so accessible, so it’s great to get away. 

5. If you could only read one book for the rest of your life which book would it be?

I’ve been stuck here for a while as I have absolutely no idea! I can think of authors I would read forever such as Carole Matthews, Rowan Coleman and Lisa Jewell, but one book? Okay, it would be Sushi for Beginners, Marian Keyes. It’s the one book that has stuck with me since I first read it, and one I could read over and over.

6. I like to end my Q&A’s with the same question so here we go. What question have you not been asked that you wish had been asked – and what’s the answer?

Ooh… em… would you like me to adapt your book into a TV show? Well, it’s surely every writer’s dream, and the answer would be yes! 

Thanks for answering my questions and appearing on the blog.

Thank you for having me!

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Loved Up – Katey Lovell talks about her favourite romantic reads

Today’s Loved Up post is from author Katey Lovell, whose Meet Cute series is being published by Harper Impulse. Here Katey talks about her favourite romantic reads. My thanks to Katey for such a great post.

I absolutely love romance.  I love to read it, write it, watch it … basically I can’t get enough of it.  As a teen I devoured the books in romance series’ such as Sweet Dreams and Point Romance, and as an adult not much has changed.  It’s not the only thing I read, but it’s a genre I’ll return to again and again.

Here are a few of my favourite romantic reads – and I can tell you now, it wasn’t easy to choose!

Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte

I can’t help it.  The rough and rugged Edward Rochester is irresistible to me, and as such I’ll always put Jane Eyre in any list of bookish recommendations.  And it is a classic romance, maybe not a perfect or conventional one, but the sort of story that twists your gut with the feeling it evokes.  If you’ve never read it, you really must.

Somewhere Only We Know – Erin Lawless

This book was only published earlier this year, but it’s already forged a space among my favourite books of all time.  The story of Nadia, appealing for the right to remain in the UK, and immigration department worker Alex, it’s got the perfect balance between humour and heart.  Somewhere Only We Know is crammed full of both friendship and romance, a wonderfully heartwarming read from an up and coming British author.

Letters to the Lost – Iona Grey

Another recent release, Letters to the Lost is the story of Dan and Stella’s love during WWII.  It’s a bittersweet read, but I think you’d have to have a heart of glass not to be moved by their plight.  This is a beautifully written debut novel which will tug on your heartstrings and have you reaching for your hankies.

There are so many more authors I could recommend and I’ve reviewed hundreds of books on my blog,, but these are three stand-out romance novels which I know I’ll return to again and again.  I hope you love them as much as I do!

Katey Lovell is the author of The Meet Cute Series.  Her short stories The Boy in the Bookshop released 29th October 2015, The Boy at the Beach released 5th November 2015 and The Boy at the Bakery released 12th November 2015, are published by Harper Collins digital-first romance imprint Harper Impulse.  They are available for pre order now.


Amazon UK

Amazon US





Katey Lovell is fanatical about words. An avid reader, writer and poet, she once auditioned for Countdown and still tapes the show every night. Getting the conundrum before the contestants is her ultimate thrill. She loves love and strives to write feel-good romance that’ll make you laugh and cry in equal measure.  Originally from South Wales, Katey now lives in Yorkshire with her husband and their seven year old son.

Find Katey on twitter, @katey5678.

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Loved Up – Laura James on the appeal of Romantic Fiction

Today I’m pleased to welcome author Laura James to the blog. Laura is the author of Follow Me, Follow You and Truth or Dare and has kindly written a piece on the appeal of romantic fiction. My thanks to Laura for her fantastic article.

The Appeal of Romantic Fiction

My son returned home from school with ‘talk’ homework whereby he had to discuss with his family what makes a good ending to a story. ‘Ah,’ I said. ‘For me it’s a story that leaves me fulfilled and satisfied. One that makes me sigh as I close the book.’

In romantic fiction, it’s ‘universally acknowledged’ that the hero and heroine will get together before the turn of the final page, and I believe that is part of the appeal of the genre. The reader can relax and enjoy the ride knowing there will be a hopeful ending or a happy ever after. It’s like having faith in your train driver ‒ you can flick your shoes off, kick back and fully absorb yourself in the scenery and world through which you’re being transported. It’s about trusting the author to get you there, even if the journey is torturous. The reader can endure the tough times because it will be all right in the end.

And there is such a vast array of romantic fiction, ranging from sweet, chick-lit, YA, erotic and romantic suspense, with a few more in between, all with the potential to stir our emotions, all of which have the potential to be relatable, with characters and scenarios with which we can identify.

I took a straw poll among my friends and fellow romance writers, The Romaniacs. I asked them what it is about romantic fiction that appeals to them.

Sue Fortin said: Love in all its forms is complex, but a basic human need, and as a reader, I like to connect with the emotion of a story.

Certainly, romantic fiction, written well, tugs on the heartstrings and provokes a response.

Jan Brigden said: For me, it’s the love conquers all element; the lengths people will go to be together ‒ overcoming the odds when they are seemingly stacked against them. It’s

the draw of the emotions and excitement that builds between characters and the lovely, crazy, daft and sometimes uncharacteristic things love can make you do.

I thought about this. It’s a little like watching a serial drama on TV ‒ we can experience the characters emotions vicariously, in the safety of our own home. We can explore and practise our own responses to their situations. I do that as a writer. We can cry with the characters, laugh with them and nod with empathy at the way love sometimes makes them/us act.

Celia J Anderson said: I love the insight into people’s minds when they love somebody to distraction ‒ the highs, the lows, the mood swings, the euphoria, the gloom … it’s like Through the Keyhole into somebody’s head.

So, it’s the psychology of love and romance that appeals to Celia.

I think it’s fair to say romance novels draw on and tap into human experiences. They are relatable, and they provide the satisfaction of the hopeful or HEA ending, the emotional ride and the eternal optimism that comes with love, and escapism from the nine-to-five.

And as Romaniac Catherine Miller says, ‘What is life without love?’

Laura E. James


Living in and enjoying the inspirational county of Dorset, Laura is a graduate of the Romantic Novelists’ Association’s New Writers’ Scheme, a member of her local writing group, Off The Cuff, and one eighth of The Romaniacs.

Published by Choc Lit, Laura’s debut novel, Truth or Dare? was nominated for the Festival of Romance Best Romantic eBook. Her second novel, Follow Me Follow You was a editorial selection. What Doesn’t Kill You, the third in the Chesil Series, is due for release November 2015.

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Loved Up – Daisy James tells us about Rosie Hamilton from The Runaway Bridesmaid

Today I’m pleased to welcome Daisy James to the blog. Daisy has kindly written a piece telling us all about Rosie Hamilton, the lead character in her new book, The Runaway Bridesmaid. Rosie, for reasons to be revealed, takes up baking and Daisy has kindly shared one of Rosie’s recipes with us. Happy baking!

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The Runaway Bridesmaid


Daisy James

Rosie Hamilton Character profile

Have you ever wanted to run away from a situation and never look back? I’m sure most of us have been in that situation when the flight or fight instinct kicks in. But would you run away from your sister’s wedding – when you are holding the bridesmaid’s posy? 

Well, that’s exactly what Rosie Hamilton does. A fancy wedding in Connecticut which she has single-handedly arranged for her beloved, but spoilt little sister, the fabulous, floaty dresses, the elegant flowers and the spectacular catering – she leaves it all behind. After finding Freya in the linen closet with her wedding date, she slings her bouquet out of the window and storms away in her hired red roadster. Enough was enough!

And whilst Rosie adores the vibrant buzz of Manhattan, its vertiginous glass buildings, its quirky, cosmopolitan residents and its awestruck tourists, she needs to get away from the overwhelming sense of loneliness that had infused her bones. So she ditches her Louboutins for Wellies and flies off to London – well, Devon to be precise – where she holes up in her late Aunt Bernice’s thatched cottage hoping that her heartache seeps away.

Rosie doesn’t know what to do with herself in the tiny hamlet of Brampton where there’s only the village shop and the village fête for entertainment. She’s uncomfortable with the invasion of privacy masquerading as community spirit and yearns to return to her old life of social indifference. But then she discovers her Aunt’s hand-illustrated recipe journal entitled ‘Bake Yourself Better’. Not only is the diary crammed with beautiful drawings of flowers and herbs from her Devonshire garden, it is also contains recipes to ‘bake yourself better’. 

She decides to take her aunt’s advice. The first recipe Rosie tries just has to be …‘Strawberry Tarts for Broken Hearts’ where her aunt has recorded:    

‘Strawberries are often referred to as the fruit of love. When the strawberries in this recipe are sliced as directed they appear heart-shaped, bursting with sweetness and zinging

with a luscious rich red, the colour of love and passion. They are nutrient-rich and packed with healthy antioxidants, especially if grown in your own garden! Some believe they possess healing qualities and can alleviate melancholy. And if that isn’t enough to tempt you, darling Rosie, the strawberry plant is part of the rose family.’

And she sets to – to bake, bake, bake until she’s liberally doused in flour and sugar and exhausted from her culinary exploits.

There are many other recipes from her Aunt Bernice’s Bake Yourself Better journal to try out on a wet April afternoon – ‘Fig Delights for Passion-filled Nights’ and ‘Sweet Basil Biscuits for New Love Interests’ – all of which Rosie bakes – with varying degrees of success. 

But will Rosie find the solace she craves? Or the love and happiness her aunt has urged her to find? 

All will be revealed in The Runaway Bridesmaid!

Here is a taster for your lovely blog readers:

‘Sweet Basil Biscuits for New Love Interests

One of the meanings of the herb basil is love and I know we can all do with an extra sprinkle of that in our lives! It is written in some folklore that a young man who accepts sweet basil from a woman will fall in love with her. I love that story so I had to include this recipe for you, Rosie, especially as I have grown basil in my garden since I bought the Lodge. Be careful who you select as a sampler, darling! We wouldn’t want to tempt the fates, would we?


150g butter, softened

75g caster sugar

75g ground almonds

150g plain flour, sieved

Large bunch of basil


Beat the butter and sugar together until creamy. Add the ground almonds and mix. Fold in the flour and knead gently. Wash the basil and dry with a paper towel. Remove stalks and chop. Roll the basil into the mixture until it resembles a speckled green sausage 8-10 cm in diameter. Wrap in cling-film and refrigerate for ten minutes whilst you clear up. Cut into biscuits approx. 1 cm think and place on a greased baking tray. Bake for 15-20 minutes until golden (gas mark 6, 200˚C). Cool on a wire rack.’

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I’d love to hear from readers who’ve tried out any of the recipes in The Runaway Bridesmaid – either via Facebook or Twitter or Instagram – and photos would be a bonus!!!

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Here are my links:



Thanks ever so much for having me.

Happy Reading Everyone.



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A Parcel for Anna Browne by Miranda Richardson – Review

Published by Pan Macmillan

Publication date  – 24 September 2015

Source – review copy


“The gift of a lifetime?

Anna Browne is an ordinary woman living an ordinary life. Her day job as a receptionist in bustling London isn’t exactly her dream, yet she has everything she wants. But someone thinks Anna Browne deserves more . . .

When a parcel addressed to Anna Browne arrives, she has no idea who has sent it. Inside she finds a beautiful gift – one that is designed to be seen. And so begins a series of incredible deliveries, each one bringing Anna further out of the shadows and encouraging her to become the woman she was destined to be. As Anna grows in confidence, others begin to notice her – and her life starts to change.

But who is sending the mysterious gifts, and why?

A Parcel For Anna Browne is an utterly captivating novel by Sunday Times bestselling author Miranda Dickinson.”

3.5 of 5 stars

I received a copy of this book from the publishers and this is my honest opinion of the book.

Anna Browne is content with her life. A receptionist at a London newspaper company, it may not have been the career she had envisaged for herself but she is happy. The few friends she has means she has a perfectly adequate social life. One day she receives a parcel at work. Anna has no idea who the sender of the parcel is, or why she has been sent it. The gift inside is beautiful. When Anna wears her present she begins to notice changes around her. The world seems a happier place, or is it Anna. More parcels arrive and with each one Anna slowly changes, which does not go unnoticed to the people around her. Anna soon wants to find out who sent her the parcels, and why.

I really enjoyed this lovely story from Miranda Dickenson. Anna is a lovely character, kind, considerate and unaware as to how important she is to the people in her life, and what effect she has on others, however small the interaction. It was lovely to see how Anna slowly changed and blossomed as each present arrived. She has a history that means she likes to live in the shadows but as each new present arrives Anna emerges as the person she truly is, more confident, outgoing but still the kind considerate Anna her friends and colleagues value. It is this value that Anna becomes more aware of, something she hadn’t really considered before.

As for the other characters they were all distinct and each added to the story.  Her colleagues on the reception desk add a lovely comic element to the tale. Anna’s friends Tish and Jonah are two opposites but both regard Anna highly, more than she was aware before the gifts arrived.

As for the presents, I looked forward to finding out what each one was just as much as Anna and some of them I wished I could receive.

There were a couple of niggles I had with the book. I did feel it was slightly too long. I don’t think that there would have been a detrimental effect to the story if it had been shorter. Also Jonah is from Yorkshire. This of course is not a problem. I’m from Yorkshire, its a wonderful place. But Jonah is virtually always described as being from Yorkshire, or as the ‘Yorkshireman’. His vocabulary was almost a caricature. The terms that littered his speech were repeated so often, as if to confirm his heritage, that they did begin to grate.

That said this is a lovely tale, with a magical quality to it.

Yes it is a love story, for there is a romantic element to it. But more importantly its a story about a woman finding out about herself, and falling in love with what she finds in the process.

This is the first book by Miranda Dickenson I have read but it won’t be the last. I’ll be on the lookout for more of her books in the future.


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Loved Up

After last week’s Killing Spree today see the start of something a little more different on the blog. Monday to Friday this week will see posts that all celebrating romantic fiction. Romance is often a common theme in books, from women’s fiction to literary fiction, love and its various forms are great subjects for novels. I love reading a piece of good romantic fiction. There is wonderful escapism to be found in women’s fiction and I often find that these warm, funny books are the literary equivalent to a hug.

There are authors who’s new novels I always have to read, Katie Fforde and Christina Jones being two firm favourites. As I’ve started to review books I’ve been fortunate to come across authors whose novels I would possibly have missed. I have a few in the to read pile that I am particularly looking forward to and I can’t wait to share my reviews with you.

Let me know which authors you’d recommend, the ones that make you laugh, smile and whose books you will always be on the look out for.


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Killing Spree – Liz Barnsley reviews Last Rites by Neil White

In the final instalment in the Killing Spree theme week Liz from LizLovesBooks talks about her love of Neil White books and why she recommends Last Rites to everyone looking for a cracking crime novel. My thanks to Liz and to everyone who has contributed this week.

Last Rites – Neil White.

So my favourite author (ok second favourite yes yes) and one of my favourite books. Despite the trauma. Because Last Rites is traumatic. And also for me, one of the best books Neil has written (even in amongst the plethora of other top crime he’s done) Because of the trauma. Sob.

It sits within the Garrett/Mcganity series of novels which rank amongst my top favourite series ever, top 5 for sure– but there are two things about Last Rites that gave it that added extra, the first of which is the victim. Because we follow the victim (one of them at least) through her ordeal and this is not the kind of crime writing that is at all predictable or promises a happy ending. There were times I really couldn’t bear it – and I’ve read the damn thing a few times now, I guess I just never learn. Or maybe it really is just that good that it demands to be read over. 

The other thing is the absolutely nail biting, beautifully written, descriptively horrifying finale. Remember up there I said there was no promise of a happy ending? Well that relates to the main cast of the series as much as to any victim we may meet in each separate novel – when I first read it years ago I’m fairly sure there were actual nails bitten off. Yes I get over involved sometimes. But when the writing is this immersive it’s hard not to. You are just there.

Every time I read it, it has the same impact. Even though I know every nuance by now it doesn’t stop me going to all those dark places again – it doesn’t stop me sitting on the edge of my seat (or to be fair and much more likely hiding further under my axe proof duvet) and some of it is scary stuff for sure. Don’t head in alone if you can help it.

Great crime fiction. REAL crime fiction. That’s what this author gives us every time. So far (and hey we are not at the end of the road yet) Last Rites stands out in my head – it’s the one I point everyone towards when they ask me which to read, not only if they are asking for a recommendation for this specific author but if they are asking for a Crime Fiction book to blow them away. 

This one will blow you away. It’s ok. You can borrow my axe proof duvet.


“The Lancashire town of Blackley has been rocked by the violent death of Luke Howarth. The fingers of suspicion point towards his girlfriend, Sarah Goode – missing since his murder. Just another crime of passion with a tragic end.

Or is it? Reporter Jack Garrett isn’t so sure – especially when he’s asked by Sarah’s distraught parents to find their daughter. Their description of caring schoolteacher Sarah doesn’t tally with the media’s portrayal of a cold-blooded killer.

But as he hunts for Sarah, Jack finds himself immersed in the town’s troubled history and discovers that dangerous rituals from the past are impacting on the present.

Jack’s girlfriend, DC Laura McGanity, in the midst of a tough custody battle, must be content to sit on the sidelines. But she soon finds herself caught up in the investigation, as the mystery surrounding Sarah’s disappearance dramatically unravels.

Jack and Laura find themselves in mortal danger as they come face to face with an unhinged killer who is determined that they will pay with their lives… “

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Killing Spree – Stephanie Rothwell reviews The Lost by Claire McGowan

Today’s Killing Spree post is from Stephanie Rothwell. Stephanie blogs at Stephsbookblog. Here she talks about her love of crime series and reviews The Lost by Claire McGowan. My thanks to Stephanie for this fab post.

I have always loved books that form part of a series, especially crime fiction. When I was a child it was always Enid Blyton, the Nancy Drew books and The Hardy Boys. As I got older I progressed to Agatha Christie and Raymond Chandler. I enjoyed all I read but it never occurred to me to read them in any order. It was just what I could lay my hands on. And then I started using the local library. I got totally hooked on books by Val McDermid (the Kate Brannigan series) and Faye Kellerman (Decker). It was the Kellerman books that made me more interested in reading books in series order.
I always try now to read books in the correct order. The only way I can describe this ‘obsession’ is a feeling of anxiety that the tale I had missed could be revealed but more that I have missed out on character development. There are a few that I have read recently that I really do think need to be read in order. These are Steven Dunne, Eva Dolan and Claire McGowan. 
Steven Dunnes’s first two books in his Damon Brock series are so closely linked the second wouldn’t make much of an impression if you hadn’t read the first. 
Eva Dolan has published two books so far out of her series that feature Zigic and Ferreira. The third is out next year and is one that is am very eager to read. The plots were not linked but the character and team development is one of the best that I have read.
Claire McGowan has three books published that feature Paula McGuire. I have only read one of these so far but my gut feeling is that this series where The Troubles in Northern Ireland feature strongly will affect the character development and the plots significantly. 
Here is my review of The Lost by Claire McGowan

Not everyone who’s missing is lost
When two teenage girls go missing along the Irish border, forensic psychologist Paula Maguire has to return to the hometown she left years before. Swirling with rumour and secrets, the town is gripped by fear of a serial killer. But the truth could be even darker.

Not everyone who’s lost wants to be found
Surrounded by people and places she tried to forget, Paula digs into the cases as the truth twists further away. What’s the link with two other disappearances from 1985? And why does everything lead back to the town’s dark past- including the reasons her own mother went missing years before?

Nothing is what it seems
As the shocking truth is revealed, Paula learns that sometimes, it’s better not to find what you’ve lost.

The Lost had been sat in the kindle pile for a while and after seeing a flurry of tweets about the new book in the series I decided to see what I was missing.
I found it to be a fantastic novel. The first in a new series Paula Maguire has been employed by the police force in her home town. She is working with a team who are assigned to cold cases but who are also investigating a current case, the disappearances of two missing teenage girls. She doesn’t really want to be back there. Looking after her father, seeing old friends she hasn’t been in touch with for years and unanswered questions about her Mother’s disappearance years earlier. 
The team were brilliant. Consisting of both Catholic and Protestant, Northern and Southern Irish, the way they interacted with each other was a joy to read. I could hear the dialect as I read, something that I have felt in other novels seemed false. 
The investigation has its problems and initially Paula isn’t accepted by the others but she is determined to solve the case with or without their help. 
It was a great book to read, I know that there are at least another two I can read and I’m looking forward to doing so. I see great potential for the team of detectives in Ballyterrin.

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A Death in the Dales by Frances Brody – Review

Published by Piatkus

Publication date – 1 October 2015

Source – review copy


“The seventh fantastically quirky crime novel featuring amateur sleuth extraordinaire Kate Shackleton!

A murder most foul

When the landlord of a Yorkshire tavern is killed in plain sight, Freda Simonson, the only witness to the crime, becomes plagued with guilt, believing the wrong man has been convicted. Following her death, it seems that the truth will never be uncovered in the peaceful village of Langcliffe . . .

A village of secrets

But it just so happens that Freda’s nephew is courting the renowned amateur sleuth Kate Shackleton, who decides to holiday in Langcliffe with her indomitable teenage niece, Harriet. When Harriet strikes up a friendship with a local girl whose young brother is missing, the search leads Kate to uncover another suspicious death, not to mention an illicit affair.

The case of a lifetime

As the present mysteries merge with the past’s mistakes, Kate is thrust into the secrets that Freda left behind and realises that this courageous woman has entrusted her with solving a murder from beyond the grave. It soon becomes clear to her that nothing in Langcliffe is quite as it appears, and with a murderer on the loose and an ever-growing roster of suspects, this isn’t the holiday Kate was expecting . . .”

4 of 5 stars

I received a copy of this book from the publishers and this is my honest opinion of the book.

Kate Shackleton has taken her niece, Harriet, to the countryside to recuperate after an illness. It will also give Kate time to assess her relationship with Lucian Simonson. Staying in Lucian’s deceased Aunt Freda’s home Kate becomes aware that Freda was a witness to a murder 10 years previously and that she was adamant that the wrong person had been convicted and hung for the crime. Kate is at first reluctant to

Although this is only the second Kate Shackleton book I have read it was lovely to be back with the characters of Kate, Mr Sykes and Mrs Sugden. This time they are joined by Kate’s niece, Harriet, who adds another element to the story, keen as she is to be a detective, like her aunt.

The scenery and characters are well drawn. I could easily picture the village and the locals, some of whom have secrets to hide. The atmosphere and feel of the 1920s was portrayed in a great way and I found myself transported back to what I imagine a country village on 1926 would be like.

The mystery was engaging. Was the wrong man hanged ten years ago for the brutal murder of the local pub landlord? Another suspicious death throws confusion into the mix. What does the disappearance of a young boy and an old affair that ended years ago have to do with it. It was lovely to read along and play armchair detective, seeing if I could guess the culprit.

The Kate Shackleton investigations are what I like to call ‘gentle’ murder mysteries, if you’ll excuse the oxymoron. The blood, guts and gore aren’t there and this was a time before DNA so investigations are centred on brain power unsupported by science. There’s no swearing, violence is hidden and social hierarchy is shown to be important. They are books to curl up with on a rainy day, between episodes of Poirot and Miss Marple.

This is the seventh book in the series and though I prefer to read a series in order this could be read as a standalone. Whilst I’m waiting for the next book I’ll just have to go back to the beginning.


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First Encounters (Killing Spree week) by Victoria Goldman

Today’s Killing Spree piece is from Victoria who blogs at Off-the-shelf book reviews. Victoria talks about reading books from a series. You can see more of Victoria’s reviews on her blog. My thanks to Victoria for her great guest post.

First Encounters (Killing Spree week) – Victoria Goldman, Off-the-shelf book reviews.

As a book blogger, I often get asked to review a crime novel that’s the latest in an established series. Not all book bloggers will do this. But I’m usually happy to read the book as a standalone, knowing nothing about the previous books’ plots or characters. After all, this is how many new readers first encounter a crime series, picking up the latest novel on the ‘Bestsellers’ shelf.

Authors usually set out to make sure their new readers will enjoy the latest book as much as existing fans. Most of the time this works well for me, since the authors are able to provide enough background to keep me satisfied. I may even enjoy the latest book so much that I then buy the previous books too. But occasionally I am left with unanswered questions, which leaves me frustrated.

Sometimes it’s good to set aside time to read an ongoing series from the beginning – and hope that I’ll catch up before the next book is published.

Around 18 months ago, I downloaded Ben Aaronovitch’s first Rivers of London novel onto my Kindle, with every intention of reading it straight away. Yet thanks to my book addiction, and also becoming a book blogger, it’s been festering on my Kindle ever since. Until a few weeks ago, when I finally decided to take the plunge, ignoring my ‘more urgent’ TBR pile.


For anyone who doesn’t know, the Rivers of London series was launched in 2011. It’s published by Gollancz (an Orion imprint). The 5th book was published in paperback in July 2015. The next book – The Hanging Tree  – will be published in June 2016. 

This is a crime series with a supernatural element. It follows the adventures of Peter Grant, a Detective Constable and new trainee wizard. So far in the first book, I’ve met lots of intriguing characters and visited some dark, mysterious places, as Peter Grant is being exposed to magic for the first time. I love the humour and also that the book is set in London, with its familiar landmarks (as this is where I live).

Since there are five published books in the Rivers of London series so far, I still have a long way to go before I catch up. With my current TBR pile of review books (both printed books and e-books), it’s likely to take me a while. But I’m looking forward to enjoying the journey along the Rivers of London – and according to some of my blogger friends, I won’t be disappointed.

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