**Book Review**Cherringham – A cosy crime series

Cherringham – Book 1 – 3

by Matthew Costello and Neil Richards

On my quest to balance my love for books and reading with work/kids/life, I once again turned to Audible. I am absolutely loving my audible monthly credit, where I can choose one book to listen to.

So this week was Cherringham – A cosy crime series compilation. The first three books in a cosy crime drama series: Murder on Thames, Mystery at the Manor and Murder by Moonlight.

"Jack's a retired ex-cop from New York, seeking the simple life in 
Cherringham. Sarah's a Web designer who's moved back to the village 
to find herself. But their lives are anything but quiet as the two 
team up to solve Cherringham's criminal mysteries."

The two main characters although from two very different backgrounds form an unlikely alliance to dig through murder mysteries in the very “Midsomer” village of Cherringham.  It’s a very stereotypical view of an English village and the character portrayal are also somewhat stereotypical, Jack is a hardened retired ex New York policeman whose wife has died and he has retired to the English Village for some peace. Sarah has returned to her home village after a messy divorce where her husband cheated on her, and she has to return to her hometown to mend her broken heart with two kids in tow.

However, this does not distract from the storyline, I really enjoyed the Midsomer vibe, the mysteries were not too easy that I could guess straight away and neither were they so far out of the ordinary genre of murder mystery that I couldn’t believe what I was reading.

The writing style is somewhat peculiar as it is written by dual authors, an Englishman and an American, so the language can sometimes swap and change depending on the author I guess, but as there is an English and American character, I rather enjoyed this reflection of the characters in the writing. I think it gives it a quirky feel o the story and really helps you bond with the characters and the story.

All three stories, are independent. You don’t need to read them in order, as each mystery is a stand alone murder mystery our crime solving duo have to work on. However, the personal life of the characters is somewhat fluid throughout the series. SO if like me you love to find about characters and fall in love with them, then reading in order is probably for the best.

I have only heard the first three in this series, but I thoroughly enjoyed it and will definitely be carrying on with the series. It was a quick and entertaining read, a good length for a cosy crime thriller. I could curl up and listen in the evenings and still have time to make tea and fit in some work if I needed. I didn’t get bored and I couldn’t wait to start the next one. All of these things for me are signs of a good book.

The first in the series is possibly the least enjoyable if I had to pick one, but I feel its because it has to fit quite a lot in a short story. The authors had to introduce us to the characters and Cherringham, and the murder plot and tie it all up in a neat bow, which meant the first book maybe wasn’t as exciting or as enjoyable as the others. I still really liked it and I couldn’t wait to hear the rest of the books in this first edition.

My one and only question I have from this whole series: Whilst Jack and Sarah are out finding all this evidence and solving the crimes? What are the police doing to miss some huge plot points in the murders? Obviously, we need the police to miss somethings to give Jack and Sarah something to do, but seriously, sometimes makes me wonder. lol!

Overall, I really enjoyed the first three books and I cannot wait to listen to the rest. The narrator audible chose also is a pleasure to listen to which makes the experience even better. I would post certainly recommend it too.

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️5/5 stars. Thoroughly enjoyable especially if you like your cosy English crime dramas as I do.

If you want to have a read, why not check it out for yourself over on Amazon.

****This blog post has a affiliated link in it, if you click through on it and make any purchases, I may receive a small fee.**

 

**Book Review** Sleigh Rides and Silver Bells at the Christmas Fair

Sleigh rides and silver bells at the Christmas Fair by Heidi Swain

I am on a roll with books and the minute. I have this book in real life and on audible so it was a mix of reading and listening for this one, which was a journey I tell you.

When Anna takes on the role of companion to the owner of Wynthorpe Hall, on the outskirts of Wynbridge, she has no idea that her life is set to change beyond all recognition.

A confirmed ‘bah humbug’ when it comes to Christmas, Anna is amazed to find herself quickly immersed in the eccentric household, and when youngest son Jamie unexpectedly arrives home it soon becomes obvious that her personal feelings are going all out to compromise her professional persona.

Jamie, struggling to come to terms with life back in the Fens, makes a pact with Anna – she has to teach him to fall back in love with Wynthorpe Hall, while he helps her fall back in love with Christmas. But will it all prove too much for Anna, or can the family of Wynthorpe Hall warm her heart once and for all…?

I love a Christmas story, you know I do! I especially love one when I am feeling a little down or sad as I remember to carry Christmas spirit with me always, and to funnel my energy into making people smile, positive energy and being kind and considerate to others. I remember these things and it reminds me how lucky I am and I start feeling a little better. So a Christmas story will always be welcome on my books shelf.

Heidi Swain is one of my favourite authors, I have read her other books and I have truly enjoyed them. This book was no exception, I liked reading about Wynthorpe Hall and all the excitement of Christmas. I didn’t fall in love with the main characters Anna and Jamie like I usually would. I am not sure why, I guess I didn’t connect them. I think maybe I didn’t fully engage with their stories or history. Jamies character felt somewhat flat, without any spoilers there is a section of the story where I really didn’t like him very much at all. Which is unusual for me with a male lead. I am usually very forgiving. I didn’t really fall for the love story either, it seemed a little forced and somewhat pretentious. The relationships between the main characters and the secondary characters were much more interesting and exciting than the romance story. However, the secondary characters made this book oh so worth it. I loved all the characters from Angus’ larger than life, loveable father figure to the local villages Anna meets on her travels around the village.

Heidis description of Wynthorpe did make me fall in love with the fictional hall and village and it made me long for our family visits to National Trusts. The warmth and love she described was adorable and I absolutely would recommend this to anyone who needs a little festive cheer up.

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️★ 4/5 stars I would definitely recommend.

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**Book Review** Murder at the Smithsonian

Murder at the Smithsonian by Margaret Truman

Hi Everyone!

So I managed to find time to read an actual real life book. It made me so happy to hold a book in my hand and smell its pages. I am loving audible and the freedom it is giving me to hear a story and continue with other stuff, but there isn’t anything quite like holding a real life book and immersing yourself on a reading adventure. However, my excitement may have peaked with just holding this book as I can’t say it will become one of my favourites.

Murder at the Smithsonian isn’t a bad book, it just didn’t keep my interest all the way through. I feel like a book needs to have dips, twists and turns and a healthy dose of “normal” descriptive writing to keep the story going, and I feel like this book maybe fell a little short.

Dr. Lewis Tunney, a brilliant historian who had stumbled onto an international art scandal, was brutally murdered in front of two hundred guests at an elegant party at the Smithsonian. When his fiancee, Heather McBea, flies in from Scotland to learn more, Mac Hanrahan, the captain in charge of the case, takes a heated interest in her. And when two more murders are committed, Hanrahan has reason to worry about Heather’s sleuthing. But Heather is stubborn and insists on going her own way–right into the arms of a killer….

From this blurb, the story itself sounds like it was going to be right up my street, an engaging tale of murder, mystery and intrigue. What I got was a soft version of a hard-boiled egg tale of murder and not a lot of mystery!

I feel like maybe I am being too harsh, the story itself could have been amazing, it had so much potential. But I feel like the story dragged when it should have galloped and came to a screeching halt just as it started to get good. If a story is like a heart monitor, you want the dips and mountains to come evenly and throughout the book to keep your interest, not peak at the beginning, then nothing for a while with the odd potential for a good plot point to come to nothing, and then everything happen all at once at the end which made the rest of the book a little bit pointless.

I guessed early on who the culprits were, and I even pretty much had how and why down too, which in my opinion isn’t necessarily always a good thing. Sometimes you want the reader to have some ideas, but then with red herrings and the rest of the story developing, you still want them to question their own minds. In this case, I did not. I had pretty much guessed and confirmed a few chapters in.

It was a good book to pass an afternoon, it wasn’t great but I am glad I read it, I just think it had so much potential to be a great book. The characters were easily the second best part of this book for me. The leading characters didn’t draw me in as much as a book usually would, but the secondary characters were incredible. It was still fairly predictable guessing every ones motives and storylines, but they were at least enjoyable to read about.

My favourite part of the story was the scenery and exploring the varying museums. I have yet to travel to America, so for me discovering places in books is my favourite part of reading. I love hearing about the different museums and parts of Washington.

Overall, it was a good afternoon read and was enjoyable to a point. My mum read it after me, and she enjoyed it much more than I did. So, it just goes to show every book is a special journey but different for all of us. I would recommend it and I am going to find another of Margaret Trumans books to try.

⭐️⭐️★★★ 2/5 stars

*Book Review* And then there were none

And then there were none. 

By Agatha Christie.

Agatha Christie never fails to impress me, she really might be the Queen of Crime Writing. I chose this book for my online book club. I have read a couple of other Christies, that I have thoroughly enjoyed. The hardest but most satisfying and rewarding part of a book club, is sharing a book or an author with a group of people and not knowing if they are going to enjoy it as much as you. Thankfully, we are two books in and everyone has, I hope, enjoyed them. As this is a review for my book club, my review is going to be slightly different, I don’t usually go into synopsis much, or have to add spoilers but for this one, I am adding a *SPOILER ALERT*. If you have never read it and want to in the future, please stop reading now and come back when you’ve read it!

Back to And then there were none, I think the novel starts of as quite a slow burner, I think it had to do this to get you drawn in, and understanding the characters. I don’t believe this knowledge of the characters, helps with guessing the mystery or following every twist and turn, but I think thats the huge draw of this book. The psychology of this book, the characters, their history and individual storylines, all mix and twist together, and at every point, I as a reader, thought “ooh maybe thats a clue,” or “I have an idea who is behind it all”, only to be proven wrong or the clue to be a red herring or such.

I would say I am not a novice when it comes to crime/mystery/thrillers, I know my way around a whodunnit, and even though I came awfully close to guessing the end, it had me and I was shocked and amazed by the ending.

The premise for the mystery has probably been written about a few more times since Christie first wrote it, a group fo strangers on an island, something was bound to happen. But I believe this maybe the original premise in this story, and even with the slow start, kept me intrigued from start to finish.

A group of strangers, all with interesting and wicked pasts, are invited to holiday at an unknown millionaires private residence. Here they will each face their past, look upon their wicked deeds of the past and face judge, jury and executioner for the crimes they each got away. Someone knows about their past, has decided they won’t be getting away with their crimes and has come to seek justice. The story moves along in pace with a creepy and chilling poem about ten little “soldiers” (in the newer printings. I have an older copy that still refers to little “niggers” in the poem- which makes the whole story slightly more chilling, as it really gives the book an older viewpoint, so when reading it, you realise the visitors have no way fo escape, there is no wifi or proper phones. The poem is horrible and completely rascist and sensitive – but the way the killer uses it to pysche put the victims is cunning and clever) whom all meet a terrible fate and soon, the visitors start to face similar fates.

Ten little Indian boys went out to dine,

One choked his little self and then there were nine.

Nine little Indian boys sat up very late,

One overslept himself and then there were eight.

Eight little Indian boys travelling in Devon,

One said he’d stay there and then there were seven.

Seven little Indian boys chopping up some sticks,

One chopped himself in half and then there were six.

Six little Indian boys playing with a hive,

A bumblebee stung one of them and then there were five.

Five little Indian boys going in for law,

One got in Chancery and then there were four.

Four little Indian boys going out to sea,

A red herring swallowed one and then there were three.

Three little Indian boys walking in the zoo,

A big bear hugged one and then there were two.

Two little Indian boys sitting in the sun,

One got all frizzled up and then there was one.

One little Indian boy left all alone,

He went and hanged himself, and then there were none.

And with all these characters putting each other under scrutiny, so does the reader. Yet no one on the Island feels like they fit the bill for this mysterious owner or seeker of Justice. There are plenty who tick a few boxes, but at each twist and turn, it gets harder and harder to see who the killer might be. Even when the final character meets their surprising end, we are still left wondering what the hell happened.

I won’t completely spoil this for you, but it was an interesting and amazing read, I finished within two days (I know, I’m not sure what happened) and passed it onto Mamma Butterfly, whom also finished it in 1 day and we then spent the next week discussing, disecting and generally enjoying the conversations it presented. My sister also borrowed it and thoroughly enjoyed it too.

I had a couple of friends in my book group whom also enjoyed it, I believe one struggled with the start but once she got into it, enjoyed it. Check out my book group on facebook –  Butterfly Child Book Group – where hopefully I can get a few more opinions on the book to share.

I already loved Agatha Christie Novels, and this book has just taken it one step further. It was an incredible read, I can’t say I liked or disliked characters as I don’t think it was about that. It was more about how some stories we believe and some characters we make opinions about or connect too, and yet if you have an unreliable narrator or even if you just don’t get the full story, it soon goes to show you can’t always trust our instincts, the stories people tell or even base opinions of peoples careers or temperament. As this can all be an act or hide a truly terrifying or horrible person. But thankfully, (not shown in this book), we know in real life, there is plenty of people the other way, who can be frosty or unsociable but are the kindest, most generous people we know. This story would be an amazing study of personality if it were based on real life. Christie makes this novel unique, exciting and brings the shock factor, as I would never have guessed the ending in a million years. With every twist and turn, and ending of a character, we can question everything about what we know about each character, I found myself skipping back to see if I missed something. I started out with normal theories (perhaps it was the man that brought them in on the boat and he returned to do the deeds) and soon ended up down the rabbit hole, into Narnia, around the houses and back again with some much more confusing theories. (Perhaps there was a hidden tunnel that lead from the mainland. Maybe it was all a dream of someone travelling to the island – I know I lost my way with this one. Or my closest idea, to do with fake dying, swapping bodies and coming back to life, but I couldn’t decide who, and then with everyone dead at the end, I thought well its obviously not that, and came back full circle, to what the hell happened on the Island. And I, like so many others, just had to read the epilogue and be shocked and amazed along with everyone else.

Four out of five stars ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️⭐️ ★

This book loses a star due to the slow start. It wasn’t a problem for me as I’m a character focussed reader, but for people who want to dive straight into excitement, its bit of a slow burner. Also, if you’re accustomed to murder mysteries, you may be able to guess the ending, which would take some of the fun out of it. As I say, I was so close to guessing but I got turned off that idea about 3 pages from the end, so it still kept me guessing. This is part of the fun, so for people who aren’t fans of twists and turns or who may guess the ending, this book might not be a five for you. For me, its a five, I think it lays the foundations for so many other crime writing that followed Christies wonderfully work.

I have read two out of the three books in this collection – and thoroughly enjoyed both! Why not give them a go? I’m off to buy Murder on the Orient Express as I write.

THE WORLD’S FAVOURITE: And Then There Were None, Murder on the Orient Express, The Murder of Roger Ackroyd [Boxed Set edition]

***THIS POST CONTAINS AFFILIATE LINKS, WHICH MEANS I RECEIVE A SMALL COMPENSATION IF YOU MAKE A PURCHASE USING THE LINKS ABOVE***

A perfect day… book and a tea!

For a long time, my dream has been to own a tea and book shop! It’s one of those dreams, where you have dreamt of it for so long, it feels like a part of me. But its also one of those dreams, where you know it will probably never come true but you keep dreaming it anyway, just incase.

Recently, I went back to work. I want to still see the kids, and do school runs etc, so I am working part time and I am actually really enjoying it. I love to work, and I like my children to know how important a good work ethic is, but I also want my children to know that dreams and aiming for them is also really important too. I would love for them to know that if you do want something, try and give it a go. Don’t live in regrets!

On this note, I am not about to dive into opening a tea and book shop, because I also know that as a grown up, its not that easy. But I am hoping to take a step towards this goal. In my spare time, I am looking at starting a book and tea subscription box. Subscription Boxes are really taking off, and I have been looking at ordering some for myself, as a monthly gift to me. I had an idea for my own box subscription. Its only in the early stages, and I am currently doing some market research. If you have five minutes spare, I would really appreciate if you took the time to fill in my survey. Thank you.

Find it here: https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/T93KCPC

I am really excited, as there is nothing I love more than a good book with a beautiful cup of tea! Sharing this with like minded people, or opening up reading to even more people would be as close to my dream as possible.

To follow along on my adventure, please keep an eye out for a tea and a book posts or visit my new webpage https://athenabooks.wordpress.com