Review | Rules for Perfect Murders by Peter Swanson

An entertaining puzzle mystery tailor-made for bookworms. 4/5 stars.

Rules for Perfect Murders by Peter Swanson book cover

Thank you to Faber & Faber for providing me with an e-copy of this book via NetGalley.

The blurb:

A series of unsolved murders with one thing in common: each of the deaths bears an eerie resemblance to the crimes depicted in classic mystery novels.

The deaths lead FBI Agent Gwen Mulvey to mystery bookshop Old Devils. Owner Malcolm Kershaw had once posted online an article titled ‘My Eight Favourite Murders,’ and there seems to be a deadly link between the deaths and his list – which includes Agatha Christie’s The ABC Murders, Patricia Highsmith’s Strangers on a Train and Donna Tartt’s The Secret History.

Can the killer be stopped before all eight of these perfect murders have been re-enacted?

My take:

This is such a hard book to review without giving anything about the plot away… but I’ll do my best!

Firstly and most importantly, take a look at the list of books on the main character’s ‘Eight Favourite Murders’ list. If you haven’t read any of the titles and would like to read them at some point without having the endings spoiled, please read them before you read this book! The story here pulls no punches and reveals exactly who did it and how for each of the books on the list.

Rules for Perfect Murders is an entertaining puzzle mystery which plays with a lot of the most popular tropes of the murder mystery genre. It will instantly be of particular interest to bookworms: the main character is a book seller, a lot of the story takes place in a specialist bookshop and the plot revolves around the plots of other books. You’re sure to find this an interesting read if you are a fan of classic whodunnits in the vein of And Then There Were None.

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Recipe | School jam and coconut sponge cake

Fluffy sponge cake smothered in jam and sprinkled with dessicated coconut: a classic from the old school canteen. Custard optional!

Classic old school jam and coconut sponge cake easy uk recipe

Another old school classic I’ve been meaning to make for ages. This school jam and coconut sponge cake is made using a basic sponge mix with some jam and dessicated coconut to decorate. You can use any size or shape of shallow baking tin you have, just tweak the ingredient quantities up or down as necessary.

I believe some school canteens used to serve this as a dessert with (pink!) custard. But I’d rather eat it as it is!

Wait! There’s more. Click for the recipe and more pics!

Review | Paris Adrift by E. J. Swift

More exciting in theory than practice. 3/5 stars.

Paris Adrift by E. J. Swift book cover

Thank you to Solaris for providing me with an e-copy of this book via NetGalley.

The blurb:

Determined to escape her old life, misfit and student geologist Hallie packs up her life in England and heads to Paris. As a bartender at the notorious Millie’s, located next to the Moulin Rouge, she meets Gabriela, who guides her through this strange nocturnal world, and begins to find a new family.

But Millie’s is not all that it seems: a bird warns Hallie to get her feathers in order, a mysterious woman shows up claiming to be a chronometrist, and Gabriela is inexplicably unable to leave Paris. Then Hallie discovers a time portal located in the keg room. Over the next nine months, irate customers will be the least of her concerns as she navigates time-faring through the city’s turbulent past and future, falling in love, and coming to terms with her own precarious sense of self.

My take:

Paris Adrift opens with a scenario familar to all sci-fi fans: a disastrous war in the future can only be prevented by travelling back in time to disrupt the events which will lead to humanity’s destruction. However, after an attention-grabbing opening chapter set a few hundred years hence, most of the story then takes place in the Clichy area of Paris in the early 21st century, with brief trips to other past time periods.

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Recipe | Jammie dodger white chocolate blondies

Jammie dodger blondies: a classic biscuit in a chewy white chocolate brownie

Mini Jammie dodger white chocolate blondies easy recipe uk

I got this recipe from olive magazine. While I do prefer traditional chocolate brownies to blondies, I was tempted by the use of mini Jammie dodgers and white chocolate, which I love.

The chopping involved when preparing the ingredients may seem like a faff, but you’re just doing all the hard work usually involved in post-bake decoration before the bake.

If you can’t find mini Jammie Dodgers, the ordinary sized biscuits would also work, but wouldn’t look as “neat” on top. In fact, any biscuit would work, so choose your favourite!

Wait! There’s more. Click for the recipe and more pics!

Review | Mystery on Hidden Lane (Eve Mallow Mystery 1) by Clare Chase

An entertaining whodunnit

Mystery on Hidden Lane by Clare Chase

Thank you to Bookouture for providing me with an e-copy of this book via NetGalley.

The blurb:

Seasoned obituary writer Eve Mallow has a new assignment: to tell the life story of famed musician Bernard Fitzpatrick. A chance to spend a few days in the sweet little village of Saxford St Peter, walking the country lanes with her beloved dachshund Gus and meeting new people sounds like a dream. But it turns out that Bernard’s life was much less interesting than his death. On the day she arrives, news breaks that the charismatic cellist was the victim of a grisly murder. Could this quaint English village be hiding a dark secret?

As Eve starts to interview Bernard’s friends and colleagues, she finds that he’d ruffled a few feathers. In fact, from the keepers of the Cross Keys Inn to his own staff at High House, there’s barely a person in town who doesn’t have some reason to hate him… is one of the friendly villagers a cold-blooded killer?

Eve hoped Saxford St Peter would be the perfect escape from her busy city life. But there is darkness even in the most sunlit of settings. And when a second body is found, Eve becomes certain that one of the people she’s met must be the murderer. She has never done any detective work before… but is there something in her notes that can crack the case?

My take:

This is a very classic mystery in the style of Marple or Midsomer. A beautiful rural setting, small village gossip, a “genteel” murder (and by that I mean the death doesn’t involve gallons of blood and serial killers) … you know what to expect! So if you usually enjoy this sort of classic whodunnit, I highly recommend this book.

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Recipe | One-bowl banana cake

Only one bowl needed to make this quick, moreish banana cake. No mixer, no mess. Loaf shape optional!

Easy banana cake recipe uk quick baking

I got the recipe for this banana cake from the happy foodie. They got it from Mary Berry, so no wonder it’s terrific! Never throw out bananas that have turned black when you could make a delicious banana cake with them.

You don’t have to bake this in a loaf tin. Any shape tin will work, but if you use a shallower tin the cake will bake more quickly, so just keep an eye on it so it doesn’t burn.

Wait! There’s more. Click for the recipe and more lovely pics!

Review | Secret Lives of Mothers and Daughters by Anita Kushwaha (@MsAnitaKushwaha)

Happy UK and US publication day!

Secret Lives of Mothers and Daughters by Anita Kushwaha book cover

Thank you to the author and HarperCollins Canada for providing me with an e-copy of this book.

The blurb:

Veena, Mala and Nandini are three very different women with something in common. Out of love, each bears a secret that will haunt her life—and that of her daughter—when the risk of telling the truth is too great. But secrets have consequences. Particularly to Asha, the young woman on the cusp of adulthood who links them together.

On the day after her eighteenth birthday, Asha is devastated to learn that she was adopted as a baby. What’s more, her birth mother died of a mysterious illness shortly before then, leaving Asha with only a letter.

Nandini, Asha’s adoptive mother, has always feared the truth would come between them.

Veena, a recent widow, worries about her daughter Mala’s future. The shock of her husband’s sudden death leaves her shaken and convinces her that the only way to keep her daughter safe is to secure her future.

Mala struggles to balance her dreams and ambition with her mother’s expectations. She must bear a secret, the burden of which threatens her very life.

Three mothers, bound by love, deceit and a young woman who connects them all. Secret Lives of Mothers & Daughters is an intergenerational novel about family, duty and the choices we make in the name of love.

My take:

Tackling difficult and emotional themes such as the immigrant experience, mental health and identity, Secrets Lives of Mothers & Daughters is a moving story of the affection, obligations and traditions which maintain and break family bonds.

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Romantic Fiction Bookclub launch and amazing competition! #RNA60 #RomFicBookClub @RNATweets @0neMoreChapter_

How would you like to win 60 books?!

RNA60 romantic fiction bookclub on facebook launch win 60 romance books competition with One More Chapter

As part of their 60th anniversary celebrations, the Romantic Novelists’ Association has set up The Romantic Fiction Book Club on Facebook. The group is for readers who love romantic fiction and authors of novels which feature romance. If that sounds like you, you can request to join here.

To get the group off to a flying start, the lovely people at One More Chapter have donated a whopping SIXTY books to be won by one very lucky reader. And 60 runners up will also win one signed romance novel each, donated by RNA members.

Please note that the competition is open to UK residents only (sorry!).

Here are a just few of the gorgeous books you could win: Read on for details on how to enter!

Recipe | Valentine’s heart-shaped Florentines

Chocolate-topped, heart shaped Florentines: a sweet Valentine’s treat

Quick Valentine's heart shaped Florentines recipe uk with dark choc and white chocolate

I’ve had a recipe for cherry and coconut Florentines that I clipped from bbcgoodfood magazine waiting for me to make for ages. Turns out you can find it online here.

It appealed to me because the method makes things a bit easier: make a big slab of Florentine and then cut them out.

I decided to use a heart-shaped cutter to make these Florentines more suitable for Valentine’s Day, but obviously you can use whatever cutter you have or just cut/break the large slab into irregular shapes.

Wait! There’s more. Click for the recipe and more lovely pics!

Review | Dreamland by Nancy Bilyeau

High drama in an evocative setting. 4/5 stars.

Dreamland by Nancy Bilyeau

Thank you to Endeavour Media for providing me with an e-copy of this book via NetGalley.

The blurb:

The year is 1911 when twenty-year-old heiress Peggy Batternberg is invited to spend the summer in America’s Playground.

But the invitation to Coney Island is unwelcome. Despite hailing from one of America’s richest families, Peggy would much rather spend the summer working at the Moonrise Bookstore than keeping up appearances with New York City socialites and her snobbish, controlling family.

But soon it transpires that the hedonism of Coney Island affords Peggy the freedom she has been yearning for, and it’s not long before she finds herself in love with a troubled pier-side artist of humble means, whom the Batternberg patriarchs would surely disapprove of.

Disapprove they may, but hidden behind their pomposity lurks a web of deceit, betrayal and deadly secrets. And as bodies begin to mount up amidst the sweltering clamour of Coney Island, it seems the powerful Batternbergs can get away with anything… even murder.

My take:

Although I felt Dreamland got off to a slow start, once the action moves the Coney Island, I found myself becoming increasingly gripped by events. Stick with it!

The descriptions of the area are very atmospheric. I found the period details, particularly the clothes (for some reason!), highly evocative and the author clearly did a lot of research. Setting the story during a heat wave is also a great touch as it adds pressure to all the characters and brings a bit of madness to a already tense situation.

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