‘Christmas In Heaven’ by Lise Gold is the story of Helen, a professional matchmaker working for Heaven, a high-end company specialising in bringing wealthy couples together. When she is tasked with organising the Christmas party, she turns to the services of Matilda, a corporate events planner. When attraction bubbles between them, their own self-imposed rules about love may prevent them from acting on it. Helen has a very scientific approach, which tells her she and Matilda are a match made in hell, not heaven. And Matilda tells herself she is far too busy to even think about love. Will they be able to stick to their own rules? Or will true love conquer all?
This is the first book by Lise Gold I have read, and I’m kicking myself for waiting so long. I adore her writing style and the beautiful descriptive touch she has. Told from alternating points of view, this is a fun, cosy and wonderfully romantic novella. I loved London in the festive season. Lise Gold captures it so well. She notices every little detail, and through her writing, she allows the reader to feel as if they are really there.
This was a refreshing story, with originality and the feel-good factor. The perfect, heart-warming Christmas romance.
‘Death On The Crags’ by Jo Allen is an ingenious story, with believable characters and the twists and turns I love in a mystery story. DCI Jude Satterthwaite is called in to an apparent accident when visiting police officer, Thomas Davies, falls from a crag while out walking with his girlfriend. When a witness questions whether it was really an accident, Jude and his team look into the incident. They find he has a lot of enemies for such a nice guy. And why does his partner Mia seem reluctant to speak to the police?
The Lake District setting of the story is part of its charm. The hills and walks are described so well, and I can almost imagine being there. I love how Jo Allen slowly teases out a story, information coming bit by bit, as it does in any police investigation. She captures the attention of the reader and ensures they won’t be able to put the book down. I certainly couldn’t.
Amongst the beauty of the lakes and hills, there is darkness and a malevolent presence lurking. The characters are well thought out and relatable. This is quickly becoming one of my favourite crime/mystery series, and I look forward to more from DCI Satterthwaite and DS Ashleigh O’Halloran.
‘Queens Of The Age Of Chivalry’ by Alison Weir is a masterpiece. I have read many of her fiction books on the lives of royal women, and those in the royal courts, but this is the first non-fiction account I have come across. Alison Weir, through meticulous research, brings us the lives of five Queens who lived through England’s Age of Chivalry. Covering the years 1299-1409, we meet five remarkable women, whose stories have never been told in such great detail and with such passion. She shows us that they were remarkable women in their own right, and not just mere appendages to the Kings, or pawns in political games. We meet Marguerite of France, Isabella of France, Phillipa of Hainault, Anne of Bohemia and Isabella of Valois.
Alison weir is an excellent storyteller in her fiction books, and brings that flair to this non fiction account of the Queens. She gives us an insight into the daily lives of the queens. We learn how they spent their money, where that money came from and the strength they needed to live in turbulent times.
Her descriptions of the the palaces made me feel as if I was there. I was astounded at that vast sums the women spent on clothes, food, trips and impressing foreign dignitaries.
Most of all, I found it fascinating reading about queens I had previously heard little about. There is so much detail about each one, and I take my hat off to Alison Weir at the work that goes into every book she writes. My interest was especially piqued at a theory she posits regarding Edward II. But you’ll have to read the book to find out what that was!
Flick Colonna is used to action, adventure and danger. But tragic circumstances have put her back behind a desk, and she’s itching to get back out there. Zamira Saliev has tried to escape her background, and the soul destroying consequences of being the daughter of a rebel. When she is kidnapped by those trying to get at her father, she can only hope he sends someone to save her.
Flick can’t refuse the assignment, and must put the past behind her if she’s to be successful in saving Zamira. Can the pair escape from a regime intent on destroying Zamira’s family for good? And will they learn something about themselves while trying?
I’ve come to expect immersive and well written stories from Valden Bush. This is no exception. She cleverly ramps up fear, tension and dread, as we hope upon hope that Flick will succeed.
The women are polar opposites, but a connection grows between them. Initially there is friction between them as they travel and get to know each other. Their journey is not just about getting out of danger to a safe country. It is about self-discovery and realising that sometimes you have to take a leap into the unknown.
‘Zamira Saliev’ is a heartwarming and tender story at its core. The adventure sets the scene, and allows the women to learn about themselves, and how far they are willing to go to realise their goals. I thoroughly enjoyed it.
The Automobile Assassination’ by MJ Porter is set in England in 1944, when the war is in full swing and tensions run high. Chief Inspector Mason and Sergeant O’Rourke are called in when a body is found in the vicinity of the Castle Bromwich aerodrome. Unable to identify the man, the pair begin to question the members of the Air Force stationed there. Was he one of them? Could he have been a spy? Mason feels compelled to solve the case and find out who he was – and whether his death was linked to the war effort.
This is the first book in this series I have read, but it won’t be the last. The story was compelling and opened my eyes to aspects of the war and the daily lives of those living through it. I liked finding out about the time period and the setting was interesting. The working relationship between Mason and O’Rourke was fascinating. The age gap worked well and I enjoyed seeing how they complemented each other.
MJ Porter’s writing is well crafted and pulls the reader into the story. ‘The Automobile Assassination’ is a very good cosy mystery, with extremely likeable main characters.
‘Chaos At Carnegie Hall’ by Kelly Oliver is a cosy mystery set in 1917 at the height of the First World War. Fiona Figg works for the War Office and is determined to prove herself, despite pushback from those who refuse to believe women can help the war effort. Frederick Fredericks has eluded capture so far, but the German spy is on Fiona’s radar. When he sends her an invitation to the opera at Carnegie Hall, New York, her bosses jump at the chance to nab him. Fiona is sent on the RMS Adriatic – but must babysit the flighty Eliza on the way.
Fiona soon realises that her shipmates have much to hide, and her introduction to New York involves intrigue and political shenanigans galore. Will she capture Fredericks at last? Or is he not as guilty as he seems? It will take difficult decisions and superior sleuthing on Fiona’s part.
I loved the time period as it captured the dangers of war and the perils for those working behind the scenes. Although the old world of privilege was still in full force on board ship and in New York, it was evident that everything was changing. Women’s suffrage was at the top of the agenda for some – and those opposed to it were willing to do anything to stop it.
Fiona found it difficult to work out who to trust, as spies from all sides tried to influence the war. Who was a friend, and who could be a collaborator? I loved how the author brought in true events and real life characters and put a fictional spin on them. Thomas Edison, Dorothy Parker and J Edgar Hoover played their parts in the story and added to the historical interest.
‘Chaos At Carnegie Hall’ is a delightful cosy mystery, with excellent historical detail. It is exactly the type of read to lighten the mood.
‘The Maids of Biddenden’ by GD Harper is the story of conjoined twins, Mary and Eliza, born around 1100 in Kent. Sent away to a priory when their mother died in childbirth, nuns bring them up for the first few years of life. Life seems limited for the maids, but as they grow into adulthood, their own individual talents become apparent. Power struggles in Kent society and local superstition could conspire to halt their progress. But the maids push back and inspire those around them.
What stood out about their story was that they were so different and had to find a way to accommodate the other sister’s interests and needs. Mary’s skill as a healer was renowned, and Eliza became famous for her musical and song-writing talents. It was a wonderfully immersive tale, and I felt I was back there in the 1100s. The sights, smells and culture of the time were well described.
That they are still remembered today tells us that their impact was great.
I found their story fascinating, and I was glad that the author chose the uplifting route. I thoroughly enjoy it.
It’s 1922 and Jack Treadwell Finds himself entranced by the glamorous world of the theatre. On the surface all is well, but tensions and secrets lie beneath the glitz of The Empire. Getting a job there is the dream he didn’t realise he had. Beautiful stars and behind the scenes rivalries draw him in and he finds himself with a chance of a great future – and the love of a wonderful woman.
Michael Ball sets the scene well. His writing is cinematic and I can easily imagine the story being filmed. I found the whole world of the theatre enthralling. I was interested in what went on in putting on a show.
It was a good story with interesting characters, and had a very different setting – one that I hadn’t read before. I loved the characters, especially Jack, Grace, Lillian and Agnes . There was a charming camaraderie and ultimately a feel good factor. I loved it .
‘The Christmas Catch’ by Clare Lydon is what happens when the object of a teenage crush comes into your life 20 years later. Ali has been crazy about Morgan Scott since Morgan was best friend to Ali’s big sister years ago. Mooning over the delicious Morgan Scott took up most of her waking hours back then, and she can’t quite believe they are now living in the same city. As both board a plane for Devon to spend Christmas with their respective families, they are about to start an adventure that will change their lives forever.
This story had it all. A snowy road trip, a romantic adventure, and a love story in the making. When Ali and Morgan are forced to find a way home in the depths of winter, they begin to see each other in a new light. They were funny and sweet and ultimately extremely passionate. I loved their interactions.
I found the settings in this story absolutely wonderful. Starting in Glasgow, I recognised so many of the locations. I loved a Lake District interlude too, and finally the beautiful county of Devon. It makes an huge difference to find new places to set a novel. Clare Lydon hit the jackpot with these.
‘A Christmas Catch’ is about second chances, love and passion. It’s about realising what it really important in life – and having the courage to take a leap. A wonderful Christmas story.
‘A Song Of Winter’ by Andrew James Greig is the chilling and evocative story of an event that changes the world forever. In Edinburgh a warmer than usual winter gives rise to a sudden and significant fall of snow. Disappearing students, disturbing climate research and a government intent on keeping it all secret combine to start a chain of events that Professor Finlay Hamilton cannot stop. His own research into dark matter seems to be playing a part, and he needs to act before it is too late. He must save his wife Jess and young children from what is to come. That means trusting someone from Jess’s past, and realising that there is more to Jess than he first thought. As the snow continues unabated, Jess needs to use everything she knows to get her family to safety.
‘A Song Of Winter’ was compulsive reading – maybe due to the fact that I didn’t think it was out-with the realms of possibility that such a scenario might happen. It was beautifully written and kept my attention . I couldn’t put it down. It would make an amazing film or TV series.
It is far and away the best book I’ve read this year. It’s an astonishing story of survival and hope against the most terrible of odds.