Wednesday, 22 March 2023

Guest Review: The Lost Notebook by Louise Douglas

It’s summer and holidaymakers are flocking to the idyllic Brittany coast. But when first an old traveller woman dies in suspicious circumstances, and then a campaign of hate seemingly drives another victim to take his own life, events take a very dark turn.

Mila Shepherd has come to France to look after her niece, Ani, following the accident in which both Ani’s parents were lost at sea. Mila has moved into their family holiday home, as well as taken her sister Sophie’s place in an agency which specialises in tracking down missing people, until new recruit Carter Jackson starts.

It’s clear that malevolent forces are at work in Morranez, but the local police are choosing to look the other way. Only Mila and Carter can uncover the truth about what’s really going on in this beautiful, but mysterious place before anyone else suffers. But someone is desperate to protect a terrible truth, at any cost…

Review: This is my first book from this author. I was drawn to the story as it sounded to be a bit of a mystery and a little different from my usual reads. The plot grabbed me from the very start and I enjoyed to trip to Brittany and trying to solve the puzzle within the book’s pages.

The story concerns Lila Shepherd, who has moved temporarily to the lovely seaside town of Morranez to look after her niece Ani following the tragic death of her sister and brother-in-law. All is not as peaceful as expected in the popular tourist destination. First of all, a traveller woman dies in her caravan under suspicious circumstances, some of her belongings having disappeared at the same time. Then an academic is hounded apparently to take his own life. Having failed to convince the police that anything is wrong, Lila, who is working at her stepmother’s agency that specialises in tracing lost individuals, joins forces with new colleague Carter Jackson to try and discover what really happened to these two victims. They put themselves into severe danger in the process, and what they eventually uncover is truly shocking. 

I very much enjoyed this book and recommend it to anyone who likes a good mystery. I wasn’t sure that I liked Lila at the start, but she soon grew on me, especially as it became clear that she was really committed to doing the best for the niece who had suddenly become her responsibility. The little down of Morranez sounds a fabulous place to spend a holiday but the proximity of the sea must have been difficult for the family after the tragic end of Lila’s sister. I liked the idea that all through the story Lila communicated with her deceased sister about all sorts of things, sometimes receiving unwelcome advice. I was unsure about Carter Jackson, who suddenly appeared on the scene claiming to have a background in investigation; I felt that there was maybe more to his story but that avenue was not explored. It was not until quite a way into the story that the real element of danger emerged and I became concerned for the safety of Lila and Ani in particular. I will definitely be looking out for more books by this author and hoping that their storylines can catch my imagination as well as this one has. 

To order your copy now, just click here!

Saturday, 18 March 2023

Guest Review: The Ordnance Survey Journey Through Time By Ordnance Survey and Tim Dedopulos

Join the nation's favourite puzzle brand as we take a journey through landscape and history.

In this brand new puzzle book in the bestselling Ordnance Survery series, take a trip through time - from the earliest recorded footsteps of humans in Britain, to the spot where Caesar first surveyed Britannia, to the beaches where the battle of 1066 took place, and on through some of the most iconic moments in British history (as well as plenty of less well-known historical treasures!).

Including 40 new regional maps and hundreds of puzzles, mind-boggling brainteasers, navigational tests, word games, code-crackers, anagrams and mathematical conundrums, there will be plenty to keep you occupied as you go!

With maps covering the whole of the UK and puzzles ranging across four levels of difficulty, The Ordnance Survey Journey Through Time is an adventure for all the family.

Review: This is another treat for all map addicts! It comprises a collection of forty maps produced by Ordnance Survey, Britain's mapping agency, selected for their connection to particular historical events. Alongside each map there is an introductory explanation about the historical event connected with it, together with a set of puzzles about features shown on the map.

The puzzles are graded under four headings: Easy; Medium; Tricky; and Challenging, although to be honest, I found them all equally difficult. They range from identifying certain features on the maps and navigational skills to word puzzles, anagrams and ciphers, so there is something for people with different aptitudes. An eye for detail is definitely an asset for solving the puzzles.

However, it is the maps and their introductory notes that are the book's crowning glory. The maps are of various locations in cities, towns and the countryside throughout Britain. Some of the areas, such as the city of York, were familiar to me, but others were less so. The book is divided into eight sections, each covering a distinct historical period, starting from the Prehistoric, Mesolithic and Neolithic Era and finishing in the 20th century.

Hence, if you enjoy maps, journeying through time and solving clues, then get out your magnifying glass since this is the book for you.

To order your copy now, just click here!

Wednesday, 15 March 2023

Guest Review: Honeymoon for One by Portia Macintosh

When disaster strikes, paradise calls...

As a published novelist, Lila Rose has been writing about fictional weddings all her life. But disaster strikes on her own big day when she hears her philandering fiancé, Daniel whispering sweet nothings to someone else.

With her dream day shattered, all Lila wants to do is run and hide, so she decides to fly solo on her own honeymoon.

When Daniel arrives in the resort with his new squeeze, Lila strikes up a ‘showmance’ with hot new movie star, Freddie Bianchi. Freddie is perfect for the part and Lila soon relaxes into her leading lady role.

But as truth starts to merge with fiction, could real love be in the air?

Review: Portia Macintosh is well known for her romantic comedy books, but this is just the second one I have read. I will say at the outset that I found it entertaining from start to finish and absolutely hilarious a lot of the time. 

The story concerns novelist Lila, who the reader meets on her wedding day, just as she is about to get into her fabulous dress. She goes to fetch something from the garden where she unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately) witnesses her husband-to-be Daniel in a romantic embrace with one of her friends. Lila instantly flees, and, deciding that it would be a shame to waste the luxurious honeymoon she booked, sets off on her own. At first unsure if she has done the right thing, being surrounded on a beautiful island by loved-up couples, Lila strikes up a friendship with Freddie, who is also on holiday on his own. Although she doesn’t recognise him, he is a famous film star.  When Daniel turns up with his new girlfriend, Lila and Freddie pretend to be a couple to make him jealous. However, it soon becomes apparent that it may not all be pretence.

I can really recommend this book to anyone who feels like a light-hearted read. It had me laughing out loud in several places. The author skilfully transports the reader to an idyllic setting in the company of interesting and often highly amusing characters. I certainly wouldn’t mind a holiday on that island with its lavish accommodation and sumptuous food on offer. What could have been a lonely trip for poor Lila turned out to be exactly the opposite. 

To order your copy now, just click the link!

Saturday, 11 March 2023

Guest Review: Ask a Historian: 50 Surprising Answers to Things You Always Wanted to Know By Greg Jenner

Why is Italy called Italy? How old is curry? How fast was the medieval Chinese post system? How do we know how people sounded in the past? Who invented maths?

Responding to fifty genuine questions from the public, Greg Jenner takes you on an entertaining tour through history from the Stone Age to the Swinging Sixties, revealing the best and most surprising stories, facts and historical characters from the past. From ancient joke books, African empires and the invention of meringues, to mummies, mirrors and menstrual pads - Ask A Historian is a deliciously amusing and informative smorgasbord of historical curiosities.

Review: Greg Jenner is a historian who has been involved in the television series “Horrible Histories”. His aim has always been to make the subject of history accessible to everyone. This book was compiled during the Covid lockdown and is an attempt to give answers to 50 questions that have been posed by the public, either during tours to publicise earlier books or, mostly, via an online questionnaire.

The questions vary from ones about statues in Ancient Greece, via the origins of curry, to the treatment of immigrants of the Windrush generation on their arrival in the UK. As can be seen, the questions posed are extremely wide ranging, and the author does his best to answer them in as succinct and readable way as possible. He also makes a lot of witty remarks, and this is what made the book so entertaining for me. For a book on history, it is reasonably short, at a little over 300 pages. However, the author’s aim, as stated in the introduction, was to make it light and entertaining, and in this I feel that he has succeeded. However, he also hopes that the book will have whetted peoples’ appetites to explore further, and to this end there is an extensive list of recommended reading for the various topics covered.

Overall, this book is an entertaining and accessible overview of the question “why?” regarding an eclectic range of historical topics and, hopefully, will encourage readers to continue asking questions.

To order your copy now, just click here!