How Deadly is Chocolate?

Death by Chocolate Book Cover Death by Chocolate
bk 1 of 7
Sally Berneathy
female sleuths, murder, mystery, cooking
Sally Berneathy
(1 Aug. 2013)

Maybe it isn’t the chocolate itself, but the chocolatier? Or actually it may be the amount of chocolate you eat – especially if all you drink is full sugared coke!

I realise that this is all in the cause of humour, but I did think that the amount of chocolate eaten and drunk with full sugared coke was a recipe for disaster – fat and diabetes and heart attacks, not to mention cavities! And giving babies/toddlers full fruit juice is also bad for their baby teeth! Not to mention giving them a taste for sweet things to drink. They should drink water and milk until over 1 at the very least.

And then there is the love of speed – and fast driving. Interesting though that having speeding tickets doesn’t disqualify you from driving unlike in the UK where the minimum penalty for speeding is a £100 fine and 3 penalty points added to your licence. You can be disqualified from driving if you build up 12 or more penalty points within a period of 3 years 

All the above taken into account, I enjoyed the 7 books in this series – I read them in a book set, one after the other, which at the moment is my default setting on series it seems!

I loved Fred. He is clearly ex-spy/FBI or private assassin – for the Mob? An on-going mystery which made for a great background character.

It is clear that this is the murder capital of the US – rather like MidSummer’s Murder Mysteries villages. Pity Kansas City stats on crime…

I loved the humour, light writing style and Lindsay as a character and will not try out any recipes as offered in the books, but if you fancy some chocolate cakes I thought the ingredients would be novel and tasty. And as for her cat – King Henry -please, a psychic cat who knows to hate her weasel of an ex… absolute joy.

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Light up those deep Northern villages

The Christmas Lights Book Cover The Christmas Lights
Christmas books by this author
Karen Swan
contemporary fiction, romance, suspense
Pan Books

Set on the scenic fjords of Norway, The Christmas Lights by bestselling author Karen Swan is a moving Christmas tale of love and heartbreak. December 2018, and free-spirited influencers Bo Loxley and her partner Zac are living a life of wanderlust, travelling the globe and sharing their adventures with their millions of fans. Booked to spend Christmas in the Norwegian fjords, they set up home in a remote farm owned by enigmatic mountain guide Anders and his fierce grandmother Signy. Surrounded by snowy peaks and frozen falls, everything should be perfect. But the camera can lie and with every new post, the 'perfect' life Zac and Bo are portraying is diverging from the truth. Something Bo can't explain is wrong at the very heart of their lives and Anders is the only person who'll listen. June 1936, and fourteen-year old Signy is sent with her sister and village friends to the summer pastures to work as milkmaids, protecting the herd that will sustain the farm through the long, winter months. But miles from home and away from the safety of their families, threat begins to lurk in friendly faces . . . The mountains keep secrets - Signy knows this better than anyone - and as Bo's life begins to spiral she is forced, like the old woman before her, to question who is friend and who is foe.

This is a story with a moral for people who live by their instagram feeds – living a life defined and paid for, by social media exposure, can be more of a ‘drudge’ and be more limiting, than working in an office. you may think you are living a free life, but in fact you are not – you are bought and paid for by your advertisers. And in this story, this proves to be only to true for the couple that thought that they were giving into their wander lusting and living free of the consumer/money driven world.

We read the disturbing story of the couple who whilst scuba diving off Samoa, mountain climbing in Norway and all their many other adventures, yet  they were always ‘on’, on an adventure, that was being photographed and videoed for the their followers. Being a digital influencer was not a job with many hours off. and where they went and where they stayed was always with an eye to how they could improve their ratings and followers.

To counter this, with a story set on the same mountains but in 1936. This part of Norway is rather remote especially in 1936. roads hadn’t yet reached across and through the mountains and the modern conveniences of skidoos and helicopters were not yet available. 

So the village still abided by pagan customs mixed with Christian and old ways of farming. And i was a little concerned that, if the village was that remote, wasn’t there a good chance of too much in-breeding?

I found myself getting more and more engrossed by both storylines as the book progressed. Initially, it was difficult to see where the two interlinked and some elements remained unresolved as the book ended – but we can always hope for the happiest of endings of course.

I was concerned about a couple of things – okay they improved the story but even here in England no-one goes up a mountain, especially in winter, without a winter pack – including hot drinks, silver blankets for accidents and extra layers surely? At least that”s what our rescue guys always tell us. Yet in Chapter 9 we have an experienced guide doing just that.

Having been to Gereinger myself, I enjoyed re-visiting, in my memory the fjord and its waterfalls and the little orchards down by the water’s edge. And having spoken to natives, know just how easy it is to get cut-off there by snow in the winter – and funnily enough – to match the story – I arrived there on the cusp of pneumonia but with the antibiotics having just kicked in by 24 hours…!

For me it’s a 4.5 – rounded up.

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Books/book review/fiction/crime fiction

What is a Forensic Archaeologist to do?

The Crossing Places Book Cover The Crossing Places
Dr Ruth Galloway 10 books, 11th coming out soon
Elly Griffiths
Fiction, thrillers, mystery,
Houghton Mifflin

Summoned by Detective Chief Inspector Harry Nelson to help the investigation of bones found near England's Saltmarsh region, archaeologist Ruth Galloway discovers that the remains are bizarrely linked to a case involving a disturbed anonymous letter-writer and a missing child.

It seems  that her job is to solve murders – both new and ancient, and those somewhere in between. 

I confess, I read every book in this series without a break. 

i got fascinated by Ruth Galloway, Dr. And kept wanting more. I wanted more of her expertise in solving murders, old and new; and more of her daughter; and more of her romances; especially with her daughter’s father, but we are cleverly always on the hook about that one!

For me though, there was one problem. reading the books in a series burst, the style and content of the writing become very obvious, and I felt that the latter stories from around book 6 onwards, were getting thinner. 
There was less forensic archaeology and more ‘soap’ – more people relationships and less crime if you like and for me that let them down.

They are still good stories and I love the landscape in which they are set. I have visited this area quite a few times and the bird sanctuaries and have even been to a seal birthing site – a little way up the coast which is very like that one described except that you can very close to the babies – behind a wire fence – and they are very curious and come right up to you, and are cute beyond belief!

A Norfolk Seal Baby

So overall, I liked the books and was happy to pay for them, and will certainly continue to read this series in the future, but I need a change now after 10 books!  Oh, and PS, the wooden henge is real – I’ve seen it…

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Books/book review/fiction

Three go drinking

Cocktails for Three Book Cover

Cocktails for Three

Madeleine Wickham, Sophie Kinsella,


Black Swan/Carousel/Corgi

January 1, 2010


Three great friends meet for cocktails and gossip once a month. One night a conversation with the cocktail waitress sets in train an extraordinary chain of events which will affect all three women's lives.

An early Sophie Kinsella novel written under a pseudonym. And unfortunately, in my opinion, she hadn’t yet fully developed her craft.

I got bored and stopped reading about 1/3 of the way through. I just didn’t feel the suspense and although I could sense that things were going to go downhill with Heather I just wasn’t bothered enough about the characters to read more.

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Books/book review/fiction/crime fiction

The truth is not always so straight forward

All the Hidden Truths

Claire Askew

Adult, Psychological Thriller, crime, women's fiction

Hodder Paperbacks

(2 May 2019)

n the aftermath of a tragedy, the world needs an explanation.

In Edinburgh, after the Three Rivers College shooting, some things are clear.

They know who. They know when.

No one can say why.

For three women the lack of answers is unbearable: DI Helen Birch, the detective charged with solving the case. Ishbel, the mother of the first victim, struggling to cope with her grief. And Moira, mother of the killer, who needs to understand what happened to her son.

But as people search for someone to blame, the truth seems to vanish...

This is a police procedural with a difference set in Edinburgh.

That the author knows the city well is evident but she is/was a writer in residence at the uni there, so not surprising that she set her debut novel there.

The author’s voice is clear and well styled but I did initially find the the way the story was et out into different people and time lines confusing. But then I ‘got it’ and was able to manage and found it interesting stylistically.

I thought there were some nice reader questions that came through when reading the sections, for instance ‘What is she hiding?’; ‘Did she know?’; ‘Why did he do it?’; which kept you reading as you wanted to know the answers. And it follows a story that we are finding the truths hard to stomach – why do young people want to shoot their peers? At least with some gun control this is curtailed but…

I thought the reflections on how difficult it is to be an outsider as a teenager were well described; and also just how hormones can deflect morals and beliefs, and thus cai=use your people to things they would not have normally considered using a rational mind and thought process.

Overall a promising novelist and a series to follow surely.

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