Book Reviews by Boo

Six Tudor Queens-Jane Seymour: The Haunted Queen. Headline Publishing-May 2018

Hi! How are you all? I hope you’re well.

I haven’t been reading much as I’ve been so ill in hospital however, while I was away, I received a copy of this beauty. I can’t tell you how thrilled I was to see my quote from ‘The Sun’ included on the jacket for the second time. As a teacher, history & literacy are my passion and so it makes me so happy to see my words on the jackets of these utterly compelling stories.

Anyone who knows about Henry VIII knows how things ultimately pan out for his wives, but these books offer an accurate historical insight into these amazing women who were so much more than the King of England’s wife!

I always felt the most sorry for Jane Seymour. Whilst I believed she was the wife Henry really loved the most, who gave him his much desired son, I imagined her to be a shy, almost dull woman: I was wrong. That’s the beauty of these stories -they turn your preconceived ideas upside down & give you so much more of an insight into these strong women who came up against so much adversity.

If you are interested in history, then I recommend you read these books, starting with the first. It’s here you can really see how Alison Weir begins to explain Henry’s complex love life from the very beginning, where the seeds are sown which don’t come to fruition until later books; she truly is a gifted storyteller, weaving solid, factual historical research throughout the narrative. As I said, the detail & description, as in the previous books, is immaculate and is, I think, the key to holding the reader enraptured.

I never really cared for Anne of Cleves, I don’t know why, but I know everything I think I know about her is probably all wrong and when I get to read Alison Weir’s next book my opinion will have changed dramatically! I cannot wait!


Games with the Dead-James Nally-out now!

This is the third book in the series so far & easily the best. A young woman is kidnapped in disturbingly familiar circumstances to a previous high profile case. Tensions are high & the race is on to find her. DC Donal Lynch is in charge of dropping off the ransom money. Things don’t go quite to plan & he is blamed for the botched job & suspended. None of these events sit well with quite Donal & along with his brother Finton, he sets about finding out the truth behind the crime.

Those familiar with Donal, know that he has the ability to connect with the spirits of recently deceased murder victims who give him clues in order for him to solve the crime and this time is no different.

Nally has, once again, come up with a fantastic plot constructed using, strong characters, hilarious dialogue & smaller sub-plots which weave seamlessly together to create this thrilling masterpiece.

I sincerely hope this isn’t the last time we meet Donal Lynch. 5🌟

Perfect Death-Helen Fields

Avon Publishing-Released January 2018

Based in Edinburgh, D.C.I. Ava Turner is newly promoted and as such has a lot to prove. A young girl is found dead in a local beauty spot & the police are perplexed as to how she came to be there, another death occurs soon after and there are some disturbing similarities.

Turner works with D.I. Luc Callanach & the rest of her team to try to understand what makes this killer tick but time is not on their side & they face an almost Herculean task in order to prevent more possible deaths.

There are a couple of sub-plots, which are as equally thrilling but one, involving the criminal underworld in Glasgow, I had a small niggle with. As a teacher (read perfectionist) I will always focus on the one negative thing in lesson observation feedback. It doesn’t matter that there might be a million good points. So I hate criticising anyone’s writing because I know it is a labour of love & this could just be my perception of it but…I think the ‘villains’ in this section could have been portrayed as younger men. For me it was a bit stereotypical of old style gangsters with their names, traits & weapons even. I understand that they were supposed to have been around for a long time, old school etc but I felt they were too old school & didn’t fit with the age/generation of the rest of the characters in that way. Like I said, a small, personal thing & who cares what I think right? It doesn’t detract from a compelling read!

This is a macabre story made worse, because it could actually happen. There have been two previous novels in the series which I haven’t read and so it would seem that both the main characters have a history & baggage which they bring into this story. I don’t think you need to have read the previous books in order to get a firm hand on the story but I think I will do now because I enjoyed this one so much!

Fields has written a pacy, engaging thriller with a carefully & cleverly constructed plot- I am looking forward to reading the next one! 4/5🌟

The Perfect Victim-Corrie Jackson-published by Zaffre.

It’s been a while since I have been able to read a book, let alone review one, but I have just had major surgery & have 6 weeks recovery time so I am hoping to put that right! I picked this beauty up out of the mountainous pile of books which arrive each week and I was absolutely transfixed from the start!

Sophie Kent is a journalist at the London Herald when her friend & colleague, Charlie Swift, becomes the suspect in a murder. Charlie is a successful journalist, handsome with a beautiful wife, he appears to have it all, which is why Sophie refuses to understand how he can be implicated in this savage crime; she makes it a priority to clear his name. 

Sophie is not without her own demons & the death of her brother recently has hit her hard. Despite this, she is determined to help, as she begins digging around she realises that Charlie’s life isn’t as perfect as it seems. Without warning, everything she believes about her friend is turned upside down as she struggles to swallow the bitter pill that Charlie could have betrayed them all. 

A roller coaster of a plot where I literally had my heart in my mouth at times. As a teacher,  I encourage my class to ‘show not tell’ the reader the story: Jackson has a gift for this. My heart raced, I got goosebumps & she made me think as she grabbed me by the hand and took me along for the ride. I have been a silent bystander in newspaper offices, press conferences, pubs, dingy cellars, places of worship & the seaside town of Bournemouth, afraid to breathe, it seemed, the whole time-right up until the very last sentence. Chilling, powerful & compelling- I read it in one sitting. 5🌟 

Late Summer in the Vineyard-Jo Thomas

This is a review from last year but I really enjoyed it especially since it featured a Dogue de Bordeaux-the best breed of dog in the world ever! 😊🐶

It never gets old…

Love getting books through the post. This proof arrived today for ‘The Coffin Path’ & it is lovely to see my  quote from The Sun included in the cover. I really enjoyed Katherine Clements last book ‘The Silvered Heart’ it wouldn’t have been a book I would normally read but I am so glad I did-it does me good to get out of my reading comfort zone! I’m looking forward to this-blog review to follow.

Moonlight over Manhattan-Sarah Morgan

I’m not a big fan of the build up to Christmas, I just think the hype starts way too early so when this dropped on my mat the day before I flew out on my summer break, well let’s just say there was lots of eye rolling! 😬 

On holiday I read Sarah Morgan’s ‘Holiday in the Hamptons’ where I met Fliss & Harriet Knight, two very different twin sisters who run a dog walking company in New York. I loved it! Which is why I threw aside my Christmas ‘issues’ & dived into the next story. Where HITH focuses mainly on Fliss, ‘Moonlight in Manhattan’ is primarily Harriet’s story. 

Harriet lacks confidence, this is because of her relationship with her father: an intimidating, cruel man. His dominance & mood swings had a terrible effect on her as a child and she developed a stammer which she has worked hard to overcome.

This winter Harriet decides to embark on ‘Challenge Harriet’ a series of activities which force her to come out of her comfort zone & be more independent. 

This does not turn out to be plain sailing and after one of her challenges she ends up in the Emergency Room with a sore ankle. This is where she meets Ethan Black, the handsome, workaholic doctor who comes to her cubicle to assess her injury. Neither of them have cause to think they’ll see each other again however fate has other plans. 

In an odd coincidence, Harriet walks his sister’s dog. When a family emergency calls his sister away, she pleads with Ethan to look after her pooch, Madi. He is reluctant, he works long hours and isn’t that keen on dogs however because he wants to help her, he agrees. 

Things don’t work out, and Harriet is called in to help. Both of them are shocked to meet each other again but with settling Madi their priority, they try to find a way to muddle along together. Little does she know that Dr Black will become her biggest challenge to date. 

I like romantic fiction, I loved the backdrop of Manhattan in Winter, although having experienced it, the wind chill is so cold staying alive is usually more of a focus than romance! Sarah Morgan’s talent is characterisation & I liked how she portrays the relationships between each of them. Harriet is easy to adore, she is kind, honest & completely without guile; find yourself championing her throughout. Even for a Grinch like me, I found this story entertaining and enjoyable. 

If I had to pick one fault, personally, I dislike the idea of pets-rescue ones or not-being given as Christmas gifts, even in a novel. Both my dogs were unwanted Christmas presents & ended up in a shelter. It makes me feel uncomfortable and as Harriet is supposed to be a dog lover, I don’t think she would get a dog at Christmas. I don’t know, like I said, it’s a small thing in an otherwise fabulous read. 

A wonderful Christmas gift, packaged with love. 🎅🏽🎄🎁


The Little Bakery on Rosemary Lane-Ellen Berry

Now, the first thing I thought when I picked this book up was that it was a book about a bakery written by a ‘Berry’! Was this a Mary Berry sideline? Not content with her Bake-Off & cookery book empire was she expanding her work to fiction? 

It turns out that Ellen Berry is actually the pseudonym of fabulous journalist/author Fiona Gibson. I’d just read ‘The Woman Who Met Her Match’ so I already knew I was in for a treat. 

Roxanne is a forty-something fashion editor who loves her career and what is more is rather good at her job. In a bid to sell more copies the owner orders a shake-up at the magazine & suddenly Roxanne finds herself fighting for her job. It all becomes a bit much and in order to get some clarity, she goes back to her home town in Yorkshire. 

Remembering it as a bit of a boring one-horse-village, she is surprised to see that it has changed. There are lots of independent shops-her sister runs a cookery book shop- where local artisans display their wares. This includes a gorgeous little bakery, run by single dad Michael, offering a plethora of different mouthwatering products. 

As a city girl at heart, Roxanne doesn’t expect to adjust to life in Yorkshire quite as quickly as she does, but as the days pass she begins to question if her life in London is really what she wants & whether it’s too late to make some positive life changes. 

I lost myself in the village of Burley Bridge as Berry’s description was so detailed, the story had great humour and emotion and the way that the author conveyed Roxanne’s thoughts & feelings as she  reflected back on her life in London & on her relationships, was exquisitely done. 

The Little Bakery on Rosemary Lane is a superb story with a wonderful mixture of honesty, humour & bravery-you ‘knead’ to read it! 🍞 🎂 🥐 🥖⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Escape to Willow Cottage.

Bella Osborne.

I was sorting through a pile of books trying to decide what to take away on holiday. The end of term madness was just beginning to die down & I made myself a promise that all the books I read while away we’re going to have absolutely nothing to do with education! I picked this one up & read the blurb and then I read the first few pages and then well, erm… I read the whole thing from cover to cover! My name is Boo & I’m a book-a-holic!

Single mama Beth needs a fresh start, like with immediate effect. She buys a cottage in the Cotswolds which needs some TLC & embarks with her son, Leo, on a new chapter in her life. Once she finally assesses what needs to be done at Willow Cottage she begins to realise she has bitten off more than she can chew and begins to doubt her own abilities. She decides she will renovate what she can & hopefully sell it for a profit before moving on.

Having relocated to Cornwall almost eleven years ago, I really could relate to Beth, finding your feet in a new area is challenging enough, getting to know new people & finding your place in the community is daunting but when you are harbouring a huge secret, I guess that makes it even more scary! 

Fortunately, Beth meets Jack & his incredible English Mastiff-Doris! With their help she begins to re-build Willow Cottage and soon settles into the village of Dumbleford.  However, is Beth’s past  threatening to disrupt her new happiness?

I enjoyed this story immensely, it evoked lots of emotions: laugh out loud humour weaved in with a heart wrenching sub-plot with Beth & her friends Carly & Fergus. 

Bella Osborne has cleverly written an authentic story about real people, she tackles a serious issue sensitively which makes it easy to understand & perhaps, for some readers, relate to. As an owner of two French Mastiffs, I loved how she nailed the character of these gentle giants so magnificently through Doris the dog too! 

An engaging Mastiff-ly marvellous read! I loved it! ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

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