#BookReview: YOU’LL BE THE DEATH OF ME by Karen McManus @writerkmc @PenguinUKBooks

Publication: 2nd December 2021 – Penguin UK

Ivy, Mateo and Cal used to be close – best friends back in middle school.

Now all they have in common is a bad day. So for old time’s sake they skip school together – one last time.

But when the trio spot Brian ‘Boney’ Mahoney ditching class too, they follow him – right into a murder scene.

They all have a connection to the victim. And they’re ALL hiding something.

When their day of freedom turns deadly, it’s only a matter of time before the truth comes out . . .

It’s Ferris Bueller’s Day Off with murder, perfect for fans of One Of Us Is Lying and A Good Girl’s Guide To Murder. This explosive new thriller is impossible to put down.

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You’ll Be The Death Of Me is my first novel by Karen McManus and I was so hooked by the twisty plot, the author’s addictive writing, and the engaging characters that I read it one day and then ordered the author’s backlist.

The story is told from three different points of views: Ivy, Mateo, and Cal. Once upon a time, they used to be best friends, after they skipped a school trip to have the “Greatest Day Ever”, but then they drifted apart. One morning, they casually meet outside of school, but, each for their own reasons, they don’t want to go in, so they decide to skip school and try to have another “Greatest Day Ever”. When they spot another student skipping school, they follow him and they walk right into a murder scene. While they try to figure out what happened, they also have to deal with the secrets they are keeping from each other and with their old friendship.

I was so addicted to the story that I already want to reread it. The author’s kept me glued to the pages with her clear writing and the twists made me turn page after page. My list of suspects just kept getting longer, but I didn’t figure out the truth until it was revealed.

The characters are fantastic. I loved Ivy, Mateo, and Cal. They are flawed, they make so many make mistakes that I didn’t think they would find a way out of the situation, and they keep secrets from each other that only make thing more complicated. They are also relatable and authentic and very intriguing.

Engrossing, suspenseful, and unpredictable, You’ll Be The Death Of Me is a novel that I highly recommend and thanks to the thrilling ending that left a few things open I am really hoping for a sequel in the future!

A huge thank you to Penguin and NetGalley for providing me with a proof of the novel.

Karen M. McManus is the #1 New York Times and international bestselling author of young adult thriller/mystery novels, including One of Us Is LyingOne of Us Is NextTwo Can Keep a Secret, and The CousinsYou’ll Be the Death of Me will be her next novel, publishing December 2021. Her work has been translated into more than 40 languages worldwide.

Karen lives in Massachusetts and holds a master’s degree in Journalism from Northeastern University, which she mostly uses to draft fake news stories for her novels.
For more information, visit www.karenmcmanus.com or @writerkmc on Twitter and Instagram.

#BookReview: AUTOPSY by Patricia Cornwell @HarperFiction #Scarpetta

Publication: 25th November 2021 – HarperCollins UK

Kay Scarpetta is back, and this time she’s right in the path of danger…

World-renowned forensic pathologist Kay Scarpetta and her husband Benton, a psychologist with the US Secret Service, have returned to Virginia. They are headquartered five miles from the Pentagon in a post-pandemic world that’s been torn by civil and political unrest.

Just weeks into the job, Scarpetta is called to a railway track where a woman’s body has been shockingly displayed, her throat cut down to the spine. But the trail of clues will lead Scarpetta back to her own neighbourhood.

At the same time, a catastrophe occurs in a top-secret lab in outer space, endangering the scientists aboard. Scarpetta is summoned to the White House to find out what happened. As she starts the new investigation, an apparent serial killer strikes again, this time dangerously close to home.

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I’ve read quite a few books in the Kay Scarpetta series, although I may have missed a few books in the past years, so I will need to catch up. Autopsy is the latest novel in the series, the twenty-fifth book to be precise (wow!!!) and medical examiner Kay Scarpetta has a quite few mysterious cases to solve.

Kay Scarpetta was the first woman chief medical examiner of Virginia. Over the years, she’s solved many many cases, she’s often found herself in danger, and she’s changed jobs and cities. Throughout all of this, she’s always been surrounded by her family: her husband Benton Wesley, a renowned psychologist with the US Secret Service; Pete Marino, former police detective who now working privately; her brilliant niece Lucy with her high-tech computers and her helicopters.

In Autopsy, Kay Scarpetta and her family have left Boston and returned to Virginia where Kay has retaken her previous job. A brutal murder brings her closer to home, while she attends secret meetings at the White House to solve murders in outer space. She also must deal with office politics and an arrogant secretary still loyal to her former boss.

I really love this series. There is always a lot of the suspense and twisty and thrilling plots. It is also very insightful and informative about medical examiner and police procedure which I find very interesting. The writing is impeccable and addictive and the characters are realistic, well-developed and intriguing.

I will always recommend a Kay Scarpetta novel and this last one, Autopsy, is especially gripping and immersive.

A huge thank you to HarperCollins and NetGalley for providing me with a proof of the novel.

Patricia Cornwell is recognized as one of the world’s top bestselling crime writers and the author of the Scarpetta series. Her novels have been translated into thirty-six languages in more than 120 countries and won numerous prestigious awards, including the Edgar, Creasey, Anthony, Macavity, and the French Prix du Roman d’Aventure prize. Cornwell, a licensed helicopter pilot and scuba diver, actively researches the cutting-edge forensic technologies that inform her work.

#BookReview: LITTLE THIEVES by Margaret Owen @what_eats_owls @hodderscape @HodderBooks

Publication: 19th October 2021 – Hodder & Stoughton

Once upon a time, there was a horrible girl . . .

Vanja Schmidt knows that no gift is freely given, not even a mother’s love. The adopted goddaughter of Death and Fortune, Vanja has long made her own way in the world as the dutiful servant of Princess Gisele. Until a year ago, when her otherworldly mothers demanded payment for their care, and Vanja decided to steal her future back . . . by stealing Gisele’s life.

With the help of an enchanted string of pearls, Vanja transformed into her former mistress and took her place, leaving the real Gisele a penniless nobody. Now, Vanja leads a lonely but lucrative double life as princess and jewel thief, charming the nobility while emptying their coffers to fund her great escape. Until, one heist away from freedom, Vanja crosses the wrong god and is cursed to turn into jewels, stone by stone.

With a feral guardian half-god, Gisele’s sinister fiancé, and an overeager junior detective on her tail, Vanja has just two weeks to pull off her biggest grift yet, or she risks losing more than her freedom – she could lose her life.

In this delightfully irreverent retelling of ‘The Goose Girl’, Margaret Own crafts an unputdownable tale about stolen lives, thorny truths, and the wicked girls at the heart of both.

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I can definitely list Little Thieves among my favorite books of the year. I found it very difficult to put it down thanks to its fantastic cast of characters, the engaging story full of twists and surprises, and the author’s addictive writing style.

Little Thieves is the story of a young woman. Vanja Schmidt is an incredible anti-heroine. She was abandoned by her mother when she was only four years old, adopted by two goddesses who tried to force her to choose between one of them, who wanted her to become their servant, who sent her to work for a family who bullied and abused her. And finally, abandoned by the friend who she considered like a sister, Vanja decided it was time to think about herself by stealing her friend’s life. She was selfish, she did bad things, and yet I couldn’t help but really like her from the very beginning, and not only for her witty and smart-ass attitude, but because I felt for her and her desire for freedom.

Under her guise as Princess Gisele who is about to marry one of the most important men in the kingdom, Vanja is stealing from the rich and wealthy, until, one night, she steals a gift from a goddess who curses her. The only way to break the curse and not turn into a living jewel is to give back everything she stole, but it’s not easy when Junior Prefect Emeric Conrad is constantly on her heels investigating the thefts, her detestable “fiancé” is a villain who is planning something bad, and she is constantly watched over by Ragne, the goddess’s shapeshifter daughter. Will Vanja be able to redeem herself and save the kingdom?

I adored the characters created by the author (except the villain, of course). Vanja, Emeric, Gisele, and Ragne create an assorted, entertaining, and thick group of allies who get together to stop the villain. The characters are engaging and intriguing and I loved how each one of them develops throughout the story.

The plot is addictive, thrilling, and immersive. There is romance, friendship, and redemption with a brilliant world-building and a fantastic ending that promises more to come and I can’t wait for it!

A huge thank you to Hodder & Stoughton and NetGalley for providing me with a proof of the novel.

Margaret Owen was born and raised at the end of the Oregon Trail, and now lives and writes in Seattle while negotiating a long-term hostage situation with her two monstrous cats. In her free time, she enjoys exploring ill-advised travel destinations, drawing a lot of nonsense, and raising money for social justice nonprofits.

#BlogTour: I WISH IT COULD BE CHRISTMAS EVERY DAY by Milly Johnson @millyjohnson @simonschusterUK @TeamBATC @ed_pr #ChristmasEveryDay #paperbackpublication

Last year, I had the pleasure to read and enjoy I Wish It Could Be Christmas Every Day, the beautiful novel by Milly Johnson in which six strangers are forced to spend Christmas together in a remote cabin during a snow storm.

It is out in paperback on 11th November and I am happy to share again my review of this fantastic Christmas novel to kick off Milly Johnson’s 12 Days of Christmas Blog Tour!

Publishing date: 11th November 2021 (paperback) – Simon & Schuster UK

It’s nearly Christmas and it’s snowing, hard. Deep in the Yorkshire Moors nestles a tiny hamlet, with a pub at its heart. As the snow falls, the inn will become an unexpected haven for six people forced to seek shelter there…

Mary has been trying to get her boss Jack to notice her for four years, but he can only see the efficient PA she is at work. Will being holed up with him finally give her the chance she has been waiting for?

Bridge and Luke were meeting for five minutes to set their divorce in motion. But will getting trapped with each other reignite too many fond memories – and love?

Charlie and Robin were on their way to a luxury hotel in Scotland for a very special Christmas. But will the inn give them everything they were hoping to find – and much more besides?

A story of knowing when to hold on and when to let go, of pushing limits and acceptance, of friendship, love, laughter, mince pies and the magic of Christmas. 

Gorgeous, warm and full of heartfelt emotion, I Wish it Could be Christmas Every Day is the perfect read this winter!

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I Wish It Could Be Christmas Every Day is the perfect Christmas read, especially this year. It’s a beautiful and heart-warming story of love, friendship, and family and I was completely engrossed in the story and its characters.

Bridge and Luke are finally meeting to sign the divorce papers. They once loved each other, but it went all wrong. It took them five years to agree on the divorce and, once it is finalized, they can move on with their lives.

Jack and Mary are travelling for an important business meeting on Christmas Eve. Mary has been in love with Jack for years, but, for Jack, Mary is only his perfect and efficient PA and she is tired of being unnoticed.

Robin and Charlie have planned a special Christmas holiday to Aviemore. They have been together for more than thirty years and their love is beautiful and deep and, even if it’s not what they had planned, they won’t give up on their special Christmas.

These six people, all with their plans and on their way somewhere, find themselves together, stranded by the snow in the remote inn of Figgy Hollow. Forced to spend Christmas together, they decide to make it memorable and unique.

I loved the characters in this novel. Each of them is well-drawn and engaging. They are flawed and so authentic that, at some point or other, I wanted to shake one of them and say: “What are you doing?!”. As we read, we get to know each of them really well. We find out about their past, their hopes, their fears, and their secrets and, the more I read, the more I liked them.

The setting is atmospheric and very Christmassy. Imagine: a beautiful inn surrounded by snow, while inside the characters warm up in front of the fireplace eating delicious food, swapping stories, and listening to hilarious Radio Brian and his stories. What more would you want?

I Wish It Could Be Christmas Every Day is a joyous read. You will laugh and you will shed some tears and it will get you in a festive mood. If you have read Milly Johnson’s previous novels, you know what to expect and you won’t be disappointed. If you haven’t read them, what are you waiting for?

A huge thank you to SJV, TeamBATC, and Simon & Schuster UK for providing me with a copy of this amazing novel and to Ed Pr for inviting me to join the blog tour for the publication of the paperback.

MILLY JOHNSON was born, raised and still lives in Barnsley, South Yorkshire. A Sunday Times bestseller, she is one of the Top 10 Female Fiction authors in the UK with millions of copies of her books sold across the world. In 2020, she was honoured with the Romantic Novelists’ Association’s Outstanding Achievement Award and was a featured author in the Reading Agency’s Quick Reads and World Book Night campaigns.

A writer who champions women and highlights the importance of friendship and community, Milly’s characters are celebrations of the strength of the human spirit. I Wish It Could Be Christmas Every Day is her eighteenth novel.

Her nineteenth novel, The Woman in the Middle, is published 14th October 2021 in hardback.

#BlogTour: HOUSE SWAP by Olivia Beirne @HeadlineFiction @Emily_JP

Publication: 4th November 2021 – Headline

You can learn a lot about someone when you swap houses…

Twins Katy and Rachel don’t know much about each other’s lives anymore.

Rachel thinks that Katy is a high-flying event planner in London, while Katy thinks that Rachel lives in idyllic marital bliss in the countryside.

Each sister believes the other has created a perfect life – but the truth is that neither twin has the life she pretends she does.

And when these sisters unexpectedly swap houses for a week, they’re in for a big shock.

But it might just be the wake-up call they’ve both been waiting for…

Packed hilarity and heartbreak, this new novel from bestselling author Olivia Beirne follows two estranged sisters who learn more about each other from a house swap than they ever expected… Perfect for fans of Beth O’Leary and Marian Keyes.

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I am delighted to welcome you on my stop for the blog tour of House Swap, the entertaining new novel by Olivia Beirne.

House Swap is the story of two sisters, twins to be exact. Once very close, now Katy and Rachel communicate only through emails. Katy left their village in Wales three years ago and moved to London to find a job. Her twin sister Rachel believes that Katy is living her best life with a prestigious job and a fantastic flat. On the other hand, Rachel remained in the family home with her husband and building their perfect family. Or that’s what Katy believes. Both sisters are lying to each other, telling stories of the lives they wish they had, but that are very far from the truth. And when they swap houses, they start to figure out the truth…

I would describe House Swap as a funny, engaging, and enjoyable novel. I read it in two sittings, engrossed in the story of these two twins and their complicated, yet amusing, lives. I laughed a lot reading their adventures, but there are also some emotional moments. The relationship between the two sisters is central to the story, but there is also romance, friendship, and stories of second chances.

Katy and Rachel are fantastic protagonists. I really liked these two characters, although I had a little preference for Katy. I found her witty, funnier, strong, and determined. Rachel is more serious, afraid to fail and to disappoint those around her. As each sister starts to figure out the truth about the other, things get more complicated, a little more entertaining, and I loved how they developed as characters and how the story ended.

House Swap is a very exciting and captivating story, one that I couldn’t stop reading and I highly recommend. And it is out now!

A huge thank you to Emily and Headline for inviting me to join the blog tour and providing me with a proof of the novel.

Olivia Beirne is the bestselling author of The List That Changed My Life and lives in Buckinghamshire. She has worked as a waitress, a pottery painter and a casting assistant, but being a writer is definitely her favourite job yet.

You can keep in touch with Olivia through her website oliviabeirne.co.uk, or via Olivia_Beirne on Twitter, olivia.beirne on Instagram and /Olivia-Beirne on Facebook.

#BlogTour: THE COUNTRY VILLAGE WINTER WEDDING by Cathy Lake @LakeAuthor @ZaffreBooks @Tr4cyF3nt0n

Publication: 28th October 2021 – Zaffre

Clare Greene and Sam Wilson are getting married and everyone in Little Bramble is excited for the event of the year. But Clare and Sam are busy people and have left organising their wedding to the last minute.

Luckily, wedding planner Hazel Campbell has recently moved to the village. She had what she thought was a wonderful life in Edinburgh with a successful business, a loving fiance and her own wedding coming up. But when she caught her groom-to-be in bed with her best friend she fled, leaving everyone and everything behind.

Little Bramble seems like the ideal place for Hazel to start over. As she throws herself into planning the perfect country village winter wedding, she starts to find herself again. And soon she realises that a second chance at happiness might just be on the cards…

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I am delighted to welcome you on my stop for the blog tour of The Country Village Winter Wedding, the entertaining new novel by Cathy Lake.

Hazel Campbell is a wedding planner with a broken heart. Right before her wedding she found her soon-to-be-husband in bed with her best friend and business partner, so she decides to leave everything behind and start again in Little Bramble. With a new house and a new company, all she needs are clients. Everyone in Little Bramble is excited for the wedding of Clare and Sam and thanks to her charm and some brilliant ideas Hazel is hired to organize a winter wedding right before Christmas. Busy with the planning and still bruised by her past experience, romance and love are the last things Hazel is thinking about until she meets Jack who, like Hazel, is in Little Bramble for a new start. Will they find happiness together?

There are lots of things to love in this festive and romantic novel: engaging and likable characters, a beautiful setting, a winter wedding with lots of snow, a close-knit community feeling that comes out from every page, and a heartwarming and emotional story that kept me completely engrossed. I read The Country Village Winter Wedding in one day, captured by the author’s writing style and by the fantastic characters she created. Each character is relatable and authentic and I enjoyed their stories. Full of romance, friendship, and wedding planning, The Country Village Winter Wedding is the perfect story to get you in a Christmas mood!

A huge thank you to Tracy and Zaffre for inviting me to join the blog tour and providing me with a proof of the novel.

Cathy Lake is a women’s fiction writer who lives with her family and three dogs in beautiful South Wales. She writes uplifting stories about strong women, family, friendship, love, community and overcoming obstacles.

#BookReview: GILDED by Marissa Meyer @marissa_meyer @FaberBooks

Publication: 2nd November 2021 – Faber & Faber

All magic comes at a price, but love was never part of the bargain . . .

The look he was giving her. Serilda had never been looked at like that before . . . The intensity.
The heat. The raw astonishment. He was going to kiss her.

Cursed by the god of lies, a miller’s daughter has developed a talent for storytelling – but are all of her tales as false as they appear?

When one of Serilda’s stories draws the attention of the devastating Erlking, she finds herself swept away into a world of enchantment, where ghouls prowl the earth, and ravens track her every move. The king locks Serilda in a castle dungeon and orders her to spin straw into gold, or be killed for lying. In despair, Serilda unwittingly summons a mysterious young man to her aid. And he agrees to help her, for a price. But love wasn’t meant to be part of the bargain.

A compulsive read, and as bewitchingly good as you’d expect from a YA bestselling author. You will stay up all night reading this.

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Gilded is an engrossing and riveting story of magical creatures, ghosts, a cruel king, and fairytales with a fantastic and engaging heroine.

The protagonist is Serilda, a young woman with the gift of narrating stories of legends, murders, and sacrifices. Everyone in the village believes Serilda to be cursed and weird. No one believes her stories, except for the children in the school where she works as an assistant.

Once a month, during the full moon, the evil Erlking leads the hunt in which he captures children and magical creatures. And it is to protect two magical creatures that Serilda lies to the Erlking and tells him she can spin straw into gold. Her lie will cost her as the Erlking takes her to Adalheid Castle and orders her to spin straw into gold by the morning or she will die. Help comes in the form of Gild, a mysterious boy with no memory of his past and cursed to never leave the castle. For a price, Gild spins straw into gold, saving Serilda’s life, but the Erlking is not done with her…

Gilded is my first novel by Marissa Meyer and her writing style captured me and kept me glued to the pages. Full of stories and legends, dark creatures, magical places, and forest folk and with a fantastic cast of characters that includes a brave and determined heroine, a witty and adorable romantic interest, and a wicked villain with no conscience, Gilded is a compelling, gripping, and gothic novel of fairytales and legends I can’t wait to read more.

A huge thank you to Faber & Faber and NetGalley for providing me with a proof of the novel.

Marissa Meyer is the #1 New York Times-bestselling author of the Renegades Trilogy, The Lunar Chronicles series, the Wires and Nerve graphic novels, and The Lunar Chronicles Coloring Book. Her first standalone novel, Heartless, was also a #1 New York Times bestseller. Marissa created and hosts a podcast called The Happy Writer. She lives in Tacoma, Washington, with her husband and their two daughters.

#BookReview: DEFY THE NIGHT by Brigid Kemmerer @BrigidKemmerer @KidsBloomsbury

Publication: 14th September 2021 – Bloomsbury

A spark of rebellion is all it takes to DEFY THE NIGHT.

In a kingdom where sickness stalks the streets and only the richest can afford a cure, King Harristan and his brother Prince Corrick are forced to rule with an iron fist.

Tessa Cade is a masked outlaw marked for death, but she likes it that way. Together with the mysterious, handsome Weston, she robs from the rich to help the poor, distributing food and medicine to those who need it most.

As it becomes clear that the only way to save her people is to assassinate the King, Tessa must face a deadly mission that will take her to the dark heart of the kingdom . and force her to work with the very people she intended to destroy.

From New York Times bestselling author Brigid Kemmerer comes a brand-new blockbuster fantasy series about a corrupt kingdom, a star-crossed romance and a girl who will do anything for justice.

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Defy The Night is the new gripping novel by one of my favourite authors, Brigid Kemmerer. I loved the Cursebreaker series, and I found myself, once again, addicted to her brilliant writing, her gripping plot, and the fantastic characters she creates.

The Kingdom of Kandala is affected by a disease. People die everyday and the cure is not easy to come by. The King equally rations the cure among the people, but the rich have the means to buy more so that the poor are the ones more affected. Daily, smugglers are caught stealing and brutally executed, while rebellion is spreading.

The story is told from two points of views. In the Wilds, Tessa Cade is an orphan who by day works in an apothecary and by night she distributes the cure to those in need together with her partner in crime Weston Lark. In the meantime, in the Royal Sector, Corrick is the Prince and the King of Justice tasked with stopping and punishing the smugglers and he would do anything to protect his brother, the King of Kandala. Through these two characters we see both sides of this world. Growing up in the Wilds, Tessa wants to help those in need of the cure and she hates the King and his brother, so she finds herself on the side of the rebels. However, when she enters the palace she realizes that the truth is much more complicated and that it is not simply black and white. Corrick is loyal to his brother and he is driven by the need to protect him. He is ruthless and terrifying, but there is more to him than it seems.

Defy The Night is, without a doubt, one of my favourite books of the year, especially because of the amazing cast of characters created by the author. I adored Tessa, Wes, Corrick, Harristan, and also Quint. They are complex and driven, but also charming and funny and I can’t wait to read more about them.

Full of political intrigue, surprises, loyalties, outlaws, and romance, Defy The Night is an uptodownable fantasy that I will keep recommending over and over again!

A huge thank you to Bloomsbury and NetGalley for providing me with a proof of the novel.

Brigid Kemmerer is the author of the New York Times bestselling Cursebreaker series, which includes A Curse So Dark and Lonely, A Heart So Fierce and Broken, and A Vow So Bold and Deadly. She has also written the contemporary young adult romances Call It What You WantMore Than We Can Tell, and Letters to the Lost, as well as paranormal young adult stories, including the Elemental series and Thicker Than Water. A full-time writer, Brigid lives in the Baltimore area with her family.

brigidkemmerer.com
@BrigidKemmerer

#BlogTour: UNDERNEATH THE CHRISTMAS TREE by Heidi Swain @Heidi_Swain @simonschusterUK @TeamBATC @harriett_col

Publication: 28th September 2021 – Simon & Schuster UK

Wynter’s Trees is the home of Christmas. For the people of Wynmouth it’s where they get their family Christmas tree, and where Christmas truly comes to life.

But for Liza Wynter, it’s a millstone around her neck. It was her father’s pride and joy but now he’s gone, she can’t have anything to do with it. Until her father’s business partner decides to retire and she must go back to handle the transition to his son Ned.

When Liza arrives, she discovers a much-loved business that’s flourishing under Ned’s stewardship. And she’s happy to stay and help for the Christmas season, but then she has other plans. But will the place where she grew up make her change her mind? And can it weave its Christmas cheer around her heart…?

Underneath the Christmas Tree is the perfect festive read, promising snowfall, warm fires and breath-taking seasonal romance. Perfect for fans of Milly Johnson, Carole Matthews and Cathy Bramley.

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Good morning everyone and welcome to my stop for the blog tour of Underneath The Christmas Tree, the engrossing new novel by Heidi Swain.

Underneath The Christmas Tree is my first Christmas novel of the year and I couldn’t have chosen a better one. I think that Wynter’s Trees would be a magical place for those who, like me, adore Christmas. Full of Christmas trees and with the brand new Christmas market, it is where Christmas comes to life. Liza Wynter has no intention to go back there, but she has no choice. Her late father’s former partner is retiring and leaving his place to his son Ned and, as a business partner, although a silent one, Liza has to approve it. So, very against her will, she moves back to Wynter’s Trees, but she has every intention to leave as soon as possible. Except, as she keeps spending time there, with her memories, with the locals, and especially with Ned, her resolve to leave everything behind weakens.

I am truly a fan of Heidi Swain’s novels. Underneath The Christmas Tree didn’t disappoint. Her writing is addictive and her stories are heart-warming, entertaining, and romantic. I loved the setting of a place that is essentially the home of Christmas. But, as usual, what I loved most are the characters. Relatable, witty, and enjoyable, all the characters are likable and I really enjoyed the sense of community and unity between all of them.

If you love Christmas stories, romance and friendship, and lots of laugh, then Underneath The Christmas Tree is the right read for you. Also, there is a handsome naked guy who comes out of his house only covered by a small towel not once, but twice!

A huge thank you to SJ Virtue, Harriet, and Simon & Schuster UK for inviting me to join the blog tour and providing me with a copy of the book.

Heidi lives in beautiful south Norfolk with her family and a mischievous cat called Storm. She is passionate about gardening, the countryside, collecting vintage paraphernalia and reading. Her TBR pile is always out of control! To find out more, follow Heidi on twitter @Heidi_Swain or visit her website: heidiswain.co.uk.

#BookReview: THE CHRISTMAS MURDER GAME by Alexandra Benedict @ak_benedict @ZaffreBooks

Publication: 30th September 2021 – Zaffre

THIS CHRISTMAS IS TO DIE FOR . . . LET THE GAME BEGIN

Lily Armitage never intended to return to Endgame House – the grand family home where her mother died twenty-one Christmases ago. Until she receives a letter from her aunt, asking her to return to take part in an annual tradition: the Christmas Game. The challenge? Solve twelve clues, to find twelve keys. The prize? The deeds to the manor house.

Lily has no desire to win the house. But her aunt makes one more promise: The clues will also reveal who really killed Lily’s mother all those years ago.

So, for the twelve days of Christmas, Lily must stay at Endgame House with her estranged cousins and unravel the riddles that hold the key not just to the family home, but to its darkest secrets. However, it soon becomes clear that her cousins all have their own reasons for wanting to win the house – and not all of them are playing fair.

As a snowstorm cuts them off from the village, the game turns deadly. Soon Lily realises that she is no longer fighting for an inheritance, but for her life.

Twelve clues. Twelve keys. Twelve days of Christmas.
But who will survive until Twelfth Night?

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Lily Armitage hasn’t been back to Endgame House since her mother’s death when she was young. But, following the death of her aunt Lillian, she has no choice but spend Christmas in the family home with her estranged cousins for the reading of the will and to take part in the traditional Christmas Games. Starting on Christmas Day and for the next twelve days, Lily and her cousins will have to solve the clues left by their aunt to find the keys and win and inherit Endgame House.

Lily has always been good in solving the clues in the previous games, but she is not playing to win the house, but because, in a letter, her aunt promised that winning the game would reveal who really killed her mother. As a snowstorm cuts them off from the outside world, people start dying and, unless someone managed to get into the house, it means that the killer is one of them. But who can Lily trust?

I really enjoyed The Christmas Murder Game. It is suspenseful, full of twists and surprises, and so well-written that I found it difficult to put it down. I liked the setting of a big remote house, with its many rooms and also a maze, where it become very easy to get rid of someone.

The characters are intriguing and suspicious. Everyone has its own motive to take part in the game, inheritance aside, and, at one time or other, I suspected everyone and I didn’t see the truth coming.

Thrilling and unpredictable, with strong Agatha Christie vibes – like in And Then There Were None, who will survive? – The Christmas Murder Game is the perfect immersive read to enjoy as the days turn colder and in front of a fire with a nice cup of hot chocolate.

A huge thank you to Zaffre Books and NetGalley for providing me with a proof of the novel.

Alexandra Benedict read English at Cambridge and studied creative writing at Sussex. She composed film and television soundtracks, as well as performing as a musician before becoming a full-time writer in 2012. As A. K. Benedict, she published the critically acclaimed The Beauty of Murder and The Evidence of Ghosts. Find out more at www.akbenedict.com or follow her on Twitter @ak_benedict