Tuesday, January 31, 2023



It’s no secret that I’m a fan of cozy mysteries, and A Village Fete Murder by Katie Gayle is a favorite of mine.  I love the Julia Bird Mystery series and this installment is probably my favorite.  It’s time for the annual village celebration at Berrywick House and with all the festivities in full swing and Julia Bird is in the middle of it all.  Ursula Benjamin, who seems to know all the happenings in the village, is in everyone’s business, and has entered the baking competition.  She has been strangled by one of her competitors and Julia is running out of time to find out who the culprit is.  She doesn’t want to leave the investigation to the police knowing full well that she must solve the case as soon as possible.  But when there is another murder Julia must step up her game, put her detective skills to work and find who the murderer is before another festival attendee becomes victim number three.

This was a great who-dunnit and I loved the twists and turns throughout the entire story.  The author kept me guessing who the culprit was and just when I thought I had it all figured out, there was another twist to the story.  I am also a huge fan of Julia’s loveable Labrador Jake.  He always has a nose for the story, and makes the story even better.  I loved this installment to the fabulous Julia Bird Mysteries Series.  This book can be read as a standalone but don’t pass up the other books in this amazing series.  I highly recommend it. 


Rating: 4.5 out of 5
Author:  Katie Gayle 
Publisher:  Bookouture
Publication Date:  January 27, 2023 
Pages: 255

Julia Bird can’t wait to attend the annual village party at the local stately home, with its tea tents, cake stalls, and… dead body in the maze?

The annual village celebration at Berrywick House is underway, complete with over-decorated cake stalls, fiercely contested flower competitions, and even a maze for the disappointed losers to hide in. 
Julia Bird, now a well-known – even notorious – member of the community, with her trusty Labrador Jake, has thrown herself headlong into the festivities. But her reputation for adding drama to any event stands up yet again when she discovers a dead body in the maze…

It seems 
Ursula Benjamin, village know-it-all and prickly baking competition participant, has been strangled – and the killer has to be someone at the fete. As Julia grapples with finding yet another murder in Berrywick, she starts to wonder, could one of the competitive cake-bakers have taken the contest to deadly new heights? Or is there something darker in Ursula’s life that led to her untimely demise?

Embroiled once again in a murder enquiry, Julia isn’t about to leave the investigation to the police. Like it or not, she’s involved, and she’s going to help them solve the mystery. But when there’s another death, and it’s clear the murders aren’t isolated incidents, the stakes become even higher. Can Julia figure out the identity of the killer, and prevent any further dastardly deeds, before the wholesome spirit of the village is ruined forever?


Katie Gayle is the writing partnership of best-selling South African writers, Kate Sidley and Gail Schimmel. Kate and Gail have, between them, written over ten books of various genres, but with Katie Gayle, they both make their debut in the cozy mystery genre. Both Gail and Kate live in Johannesburg, with husbands, children, dogs and cats. Unlike their sleuth Epiphany Bloom, neither of them have ever stolen a cat from the vet. 

Monday, January 30, 2023



This is the third book in the Hanni Winter trilogy, the first book is The Commandant’s Daughter and the second book was The Pilot’s Girl. In this installment more of Hanni’s story comes to light.  Hanni continues to pursue her love of photography and while showing some of her photos to her husband Freddy, he recognizes one of the faces in the photo.  Freddy tells Hanni that the girl is Renny, his sister.  It’s been six years since he saw his sister so the thought of never finding her isn’t something he is willing to live with.  When Hanni and Freddy arrive back at the same concentration camp that uprooted their lives, the very place they never thought they could possibly survive.  It is the place to start their search for Renny, because it was the last place they saw her.

This story had me completely engrossed from the first page to the very last.  I absolutely loved Hanni and Freddy’s story of survival, of losing everything and rebuilding their lives together.  This emotional read will have you reaching for the tissues.  This story was the perfectly written conclusion of this phenomenal series.  Thank you Catherine Hokin, I loved everything about this series, and I highly recommend it. 

Rating: 5 out of 5.


Author:  Catherine Hokin

Publisher: Bookouture 
Publication Date: January 27, 2023 
Pages: 342 
Buy on Amazon 

1944. ‘I have to go away, my darling. Please, be brave, stay alive, for me.’ Her mother’s voice breaks. The little girl tries to stop the forbidden tears from falling, as the train takes her mother, and she is left alone in the camp…

Berlin, six years later. When 
Hanni Winter shows her new husband the heartbreaking photos she captured during the war, his reaction is unexpected. His face white, Freddy can’t take his eyes off the photo of a young girl around four years old. ‘That’s Renny,’ he whispers, ‘my sister, she was taken by the Nazis…’

Hanni remembers her perfectly – the child with the wide eyes and bitten lips, who wouldn’t let herself cry despite the chaos and cruelty all around them in the camp. Her heart had broken for the little girl as she took her picture, desperate to reveal the truth about the Nazis to the world. If that child is Renny, then they must try to find her. They must return to hell on earth.

But when Hanni arrives at the black and white arch of the camp, she comes face to face with a man she fears more than any other. Can she find the strength to fight again, or will every hope for the future be lost forever?


Catherine Hokin is the author of two World War Two inspired novels set in Berlin, her favourite city. Following a History degree at Manchester University she worked in teaching, marketing and politics, while waiting for a chance to do what she really wanted which was to write full time. Her short stories have been published by iScot, Writers Forum and Myslexia magazines and she was the winner of the 2019 Fiction 500 Short Story Competition. She is a lover of strong female leads and a quest.
Catherine now lives in Glasgow with her American husband. She has two grown-up children – one of whom lives, very conveniently, in Berlin – and a life long addiction to very loud music. 

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Wednesday, January 25, 2023



The Cottage by the Loch by Kennedy Kerr was a fantastic story that I enjoyed very much.  Zelda Hicks has recently lost her mother and she doesn’t know much about her father.  What she does know is that he is living in Scotland.  Zelda has a trip for work approaching and it happens to be in the little village of Loch Cameron.  The timing is perfect and it gives her an opportunity to get away, have a change of scenery and see if she can find out anything about her father.  While strolling through the Loch she comes across an dilapidated cottage.  She meets Gretchen Ross and the owner of the cottage.  They quickly become friends and Zelda vows to help Gretchen save her cottage.  While cleaning out an antique wardrobe at Gretchen's cottage, Zelda finds a stack of old letters, and that discovery gives her the idea to uncover her own family history.  

I immediately fell in love with Loch Cameron as soon as Zelda arrived.  The vivid description of the quaint village had me hooked from the very beginning.  The friendship that developed between Gretchen and Zelda was heart-warming and completely delightful.  This story was a rapid read and a wonderful escape that I found to be inspiring and uplifting.  Thank you Kennedy Kerr story that swept me away, and made me feel as if I was walking among the Scottish Highlands.  I loved this story and I highly recommend it.


Rating: 5 out of 
Author:  Kennedy Kerr
Publisher: Bookouture 
Publication Date: January 24, 2023
Pages: 321 
Buy on Amazon

The cottage stood alone on a rocky outcropping at the edge of the loch. Standing in the garden amongst the wildflowers, she felt the weight of the tattered envelope in her hands. Maybe there was something keeping her here in Scotland, a secret waiting to be uncovered…

New Yorker Zelda Hicks has just lost her mother, and the only thing she knows about her father is that he was from Scotland. So a work trip to the Scottish village of Loch Cameron couldn’t be better timed. Maybe a break in the beautiful rolling hills of heather will help her reconnect with her roots and recover from her grief.

Then, on a walk around the loch one bright morning, she comes across a tiny, tumbledown cottage, nestled on the edge of the forest. The elderly owner, Gretchen Ross, invites her in for buttery shortbread, and after learning that Gretchen might lose the cottage that has been in her family forever, Zelda vows to help her. She didn’t bargain on butting heads with the handsome, blue-eyed laird Hal Cameron in the process. Zelda can’t seem to forget Hal’s shy smile and she soon learns they might have more in common than she first thought.

But when Zelda discovers a bundle of old letters hidden in the back of an antique wardrobe at the cottage, they lead her back to the mysterious Hal. Pushing Zelda to examine her own family history, the letters reveal a secret that the community has kept hidden for over a generation. Hal says he wants to help Zelda, but just as she begins to open up, she learns he isn’t being entirely honest either… Can Zelda trust him, and finally come to terms with her own past, or will uncovering this secret force her to leave Loch Cameron for good?


Kennedy Kerr is a British fiction author. She adores beaches, lochs and stone circles, and loves writing about small communities, mysteries and family secrets. She has a very cuddly cat called Twinkle who spends her days sleeping: Kennedy aspires to having Twinkle’s nap schedule one day.

Kennedy also loves cooking and baking all types of food, which is almost as much fun as eating it. Her favourite foods include (but are not limited to) Indian food, Victoria sponge, breakfast pastries with coffee and sushi. The only thing she’s not particularly keen on is artichoke, and she’d eat it, anyway.

Saturday, January 21, 2023



Dora Schaul has lost everything she had to the Nazis.  From her parents being imprisoned in concentration camps and murdered, her closest friends disappearing into the night, and she doesn’t even know if her husband Alfred is alive.  Dora isn’t afraid to take risks, after all she has nothing left to lose.  Dora begins to secretly work for the underground network in France.  She has accomplished many dangerous missions, but the next mission agrees to take on is the most dangerous of all.  She goes undercover as the secretary to the Gestapo.  This mission is necessary but if she is found out, it could very well be not just her last mission but her last breath.

The Undercover Secretary by Ellie Midwood was a wonderful story of courage, bravery, love, family and friendship.  This amazing story was heartbreaking and inspiring and left me contemplating what life was like during such a horrible time.  I am always amazed at the strength and courage that so many people demonstrated during World War II and the selfless acts so many people did to survive.  This tear-jerker had me reaching for the Kleenex box so many times.  I was inspired and enthralled with this wonderfully well written novel and that made it unputdownable.  Thank you Ellie Midwood for such a phenomenal story that I will definitely not forget any time soon.  I loved this story and I highly recommend it.


Rating: 5 out of

Author:  Ellie Midwood 
Publisher: Bookouture 
Publication Date: January 19, 2023 
Pages: 290
Buy on Amazon 

France, 1942. “I forced myself to hold his gaze. My heart thrashed inside my chest like a bird battering its wings. They knew who I was. They knew what I’d done.” This heartbreaking and unputdownable World War Two novel tells the incredible true story Dora Schaul, who risked her life by coming face-to-face with enemy—the monsters who killed her loved ones. 


Dora has lost everything to the Nazis. Her dearest friends have disappeared into thin air. Her parents have been imprisoned in concentration camps and murdered for the crime of simply existing. She has no idea if her darling husband, the devoted and brave Alfred, is still alive.


Though her world is crashing and burning around her, Dora refuses to give in to Hitler’s tyranny. The Nazis may have broken her heart, but they will not break her spirit.


Secretly working for the underground network in France, Dora risks her life on the most dangerous mission in the history of the local resistance. She goes undercover as the secretary of the Head of Gestapo; a soldier with a brutal reputation. A cold-blooded killer.


She is tasked with leaking the names of the SS to the British press. Every day, she rubs shoulders with the enemy. She makes coffee for the people she despises. She types letters for the monsters who killed her family. At any second, she could be found out…


Can she survive, turning the tide of the war and saving thousands of lives? Or will those she loved the most in the world, and millions of other innocent people, have died in vain?


Ellie Midwood is a USA Today bestselling and award-winning historical fiction author. She owes her interest in the history of the Second World War to her grandfather, Junior Sergeant in the 2nd Guards Tank Army of the First Belorussian Front, who began telling her about his experiences on the frontline when she was a young girl. Growing up, her interest in history only deepened and transformed from reading about the war to writing about it. After obtaining her BA in Linguistics, Ellie decided to make writing her full-time career and began working on her first full-length historical novel, “The Girl from Berlin.” Ellie is continuously enriching her library with new research material and feeds her passion for WWII and Holocaust history by collecting rare memorabilia and documents. 

In her free time, Ellie is a health-obsessed yoga enthusiast, neat freak, adventurer, Nazi Germany history expert, polyglot, philosopher, a proud Jew, and a doggie mama. Ellie lives in New York with her fiancé and their Chihuahua named Shark Bait.

Friday, January 20, 2023



Wedding planner Kitty Underhay is getting married and she couldn’t be happier.  But before the wedding festivities begin Kitty and her fiancé Captain Matthew Bryant have been invited to attend the charity ball at Lady Eliza Foxley’s home.  They are so excited for the event because many of the attendees to the charity ball are also in town for Kitty and Captain Matthew’s wedding.  However, while dancing the waltz and sipping cocktails at the ball, Kitty’s father Edgar Underhay, finds Lady Eliza strangled by her own silk stocking.  Edgar immediately becomes a suspect.  Captain Matthew and Kitty must jump into action and quickly find the killer in order to free her father in time to walk her down the aisle.

I was so happy to know that Kitty Underhay was back on the case.  This cozy mystery was a rapid page turner that I enjoyed very much.  The author kept me guessing who the culprit was until the very end.  I thought the flow of the story was full of wonderful twists and turns and that made it unputdownable.  Thank you Helena Dixon for such an enjoyable read, I loved it. This book is part of the Miss Underhay Mystery series, it can be enjoyed as a stand alone but don’t pass up this wonderful mystery series. I loved this series and I highly recommend it.

Rating: 5 out of 5.


Author:  Helena Dixon 
Publisher: Bookouture 
Publication Date: January 20, 2023
Pages: 284 

Kitty Underhay is dancing… with death.

Winter 1934. 
Kitty Underhay is enjoying a night off from wedding planning as she attends a charity ball at the home of Lady Eliza Foxley. She’s excited to see her father, roguish Edgar Underhay, who is also a guest in the house. But the evening of cocktails and waltzing turns into a dance macabre when Edgar finds their lively, fun-loving hostess dead, strangled by her own silk stocking.

Who has made this uncharitable donation to the evening’s entertainments? When suspicion falls on Edgar and he is arrested for murder, Kitty has to act fast if she doesn’t want her father walking her down the aisle in shackles. Together with her fiancé Matthew, they vow to clear Edgar’s name and discover 
who used hosiery to commit homicide.

Lady Eliza’s widowed sister is the main beneficiary of her will, but before Kitty and Matt can question her, she is struck down by a severe case of poisoning. Time is running out for Kitty to solve this case and make it to the church on time. But with a devious killer on the loose, 
will she end up leaving as a newlywed, or newly dead…? 


Nell Dixon was born and continues to live in the Black Country. Married to the same man for over thirty-five years she has three daughters, a cactus called Spike, a crazy cockapoo and a tank of tropical fish. She is allergic to adhesives, apples, tinsel and housework. Her addictions of choice are coffee and reality TV. She was winner of The Romance Prize in 2007 with her book Marrying Max, and winner of Love Story of the Year 2010 with her book, Animal Instincts. She also writes historical 1930’s set cozy crime as Helena Dixon.

Wednesday, January 18, 2023



I thoroughly enjoyed Memories of the Cottage by the Sea by Rebecca Alexander.  Charlotte Kingston is in dire need to make some major changes in her life.  After her long-term relationship comes to an end, she is left to try to find a way to put her broken heart back together.  A job comes up on the beautiful Morwren Island.   She hasn’t been back there since her grandmother’s funeral.  She jumps at the opportunity to leave her life behind and put as much distance as  possible between herself and her ex-boyfriend, Zach.  When she arrives on the isolated, picturesque Scillian Isle, she immediately remembers her time there as a child, living with her grandmother. Now she wants to know everything she possibly can about this beautiful island.  She was hired to go there and close the local school, but she also knows that this is the change she needs in her life.  The more she discovers about the island and the people living there, the more she realizes it’s exactly the perfect place for her.  When she finds a bundle of letters that her grandmother wrote, from World War 2, Charlotte had a new reason to be there, to decode the letters.  The letters make known many truths, and a surprising secret.  This heart-warming and inspiring story of family, courage, second chances and hope is just what I needed.

The past meets the present in this wonderfully written dual timeline.  I found the timelines to be so well written, and the author didn’t cause any confusion in writing them.  I loved this rapid read that I absolutely could not bring myself to put it down once I began reading it.  I love the way this author, Rebecca Alexander, writes her stories.  The story flows so well that I thought I was watching a movie on the big screen instead of reading a book. What a great movie this would be.  I am loving this series, and I can’t wait for the third book to be released. I enjoyed it very much and I highly recommend it.

Rating: 4 out of 4.


Author:  Rebecca Alexander
Publisher:  Bookouture 
Publication Date: January 18, 2023
Pages: 355 
Buy on Amazon 

As she inhales the salty sea air, Charlotte glimpses the island on the horizon. Seeing it after all these years still sends a shiver down her spine. Should she be returning to this place?

When teacher 
Charlotte Kingston is sent to close a school on an isolated Scilly Isle, it is her first time on the island since summer holidays spent there with her grandparents. But with a newly broken heart, she’s desperate to travel as far from her life on the mainland as possible.

Not long after she arrives, two visiting children find themselves in need of a place to stay when their grandmother falls ill. When Charlotte agrees to take care of the boys, she suddenly has a reason to keep the school open a little longer. With a renewed sense of purpose, Charlotte begins to connect with the local islanders who tell her more about her family.

Intrigued, Charlotte decides to decode her grandmother’s old letters from the 
Second World War. They reveal a story of a forbidden love that defied the darkness of war, and of a beautiful, brave young man who would risk everything for his country, even if meant losing the woman he loved…

Just as Charlotte realises the secret will change her life forever, the children’s handsome, enigmatic stepfather, 
Ash, arrives to take care of them. But Charlotte doesn’t trust him – he left the boys once before, why wouldn’t he do it again? But as the tension grows between them, Charlotte feels an attraction developing, too. And although she can’t stop thinking about Ash, and his soft, full lips, she’s afraid to open her heart again.

But rereading her grandmother’s story, Charlotte realises there is courage and redemption among the pages. Is this a sign that everyone deserves a second chance, maybe even Ash? 
And, if she is brave enough to let him in, will she be able to put her fractured heart back together once and for all?


Rebecca Alexander was born in Malta and grew up on the south coast of England, becoming a psychologist. She escaped parenting six children to study writing in 2011, and the Secrets series of novels was published in 2013. A Baby’s Bones and sequel followed. Rebecca lives in a haunted 300-year-old cottage in Devon where she grows fruit, paints, and bakes. She reads and writes all sorts of genres, from women’s fiction to fantasy to crime. She is married with four chickens, two grandchildren and a cat. 

Wednesday, January 11, 2023



As World War II rages on across England, Bethany Merston’s life is not what she had expected nor is it the life she wanted for herself.  She leaves her destroyed home behind and heads for the Sussex countryside.  Her new job as a companion for Alice Summer, resident of Summerhayes House, is sure to be a challenge for her.  The beauty of the Summerhayes gardens are long gone, but Bethany still finds them to be amazing.  She enjoys strolling through them everyday, and when she meets Lieutenant Jos Kerrigan she realizes that her life is about to change once again.  Bethany has so many questions about the history of Summerhayes House and when she finds an old painting in the attic, she begins to uncover the answers she needed but not necessarily the answers she wanted. 

This fantastic addition to the Summerhayes House series was just as good as the first book.  I was once again transported to the beautiful Sussex countryside and found myself happy to have the escape.  Once again I really enjoyed the characters and also felt a connection to them.  Life during the war was not easy and there was so much loss, so to read a captivating and encouraging story was uplifting.  I really enjoyed the flow of the story, and this book had me hooked from page one.  Thank you Merryn Allingham for a wonderful, well written book that I highly recommend.

Rating: 5 out o


Author:  Merryn Allingham
Published by: Bookouture 
Publication Date: January 11, 2023
Pages: 369 
Buy on Amazon

1944, England. A chance meeting with a soldier unravels a long-buried family mystery…

England is in the devastating grip of World War Two, and 
Bethany Merston’s life changes in an instant when bombs screech down over London. Heartbroken, she leaves the shattered ruins of her home behind. In the Sussex countryside, she takes a job as companion to elderly Alice Summer, mistress of the crumbling and over-grown Summerhayes House.

Its once-pristine grounds are now home to a regiment of soldiers preparing for an invasion across the channel. But Bethany’s wartime experiences mean she can find beauty in broken things, and she is captured by the estate’s magic. When she meets handsome, blue-eyed 
Lieutenant Jos Kerrigan in the gardens one morning, it is clear he has also been captivated by Summerhayes. As their friendship grows, Bethany realises that it’s not just the house she’s falling for…

But something is stirring beneath the surface at Summerhayes… When Bethany discovers that Alice is receiving anonymous letters that have opened up old family wounds, she is determined to find out who is responsible. Convinced that Summerhayes itself holds the key to the mystery, Bethany and Jos explore the grand house together.

The answers lie in a long-forgotten painting in the dusty attic, unravelling the mysteries of the Summer family. And as the truth about Alice’s past comes to light, it has the power to change Bethany’s future.

Will Bethany and Jos’s blossoming love survive the war, or will the secrets of Summerhayes tear them apart?


Merryn taught university literature for many years, and it took a while to pluck up the courage to begin writing herself. Bringing the past to life is a passion and her historical fiction includes Regency romances, wartime sagas and timeslip novels, all of which have a mystery at their heart. As the books have grown darker, it was only a matter of time before she plunged into crime with a cosy crime series set in rural Sussex against the fascinating backdrop of the 1950s.

Merryn lives in a beautiful old town in Sussex with her husband. When she’s not writing, she tries to keep fit with adult ballet classes and plenty of walking.