Announcement: Smita Bhattacharya’s ARC team sign-up!

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For those of you who do not know of her, Smita Bhattacharya is a management consultant by day and an author of mystery novels by night (in her own words!). She has written and published both novels and novellas, each as amazing as the next.

The Darya Nandkarni series follows amateur and self-proclaimed detective Darya Nandkarni as she embarks on adventures that somehow lead her into the middle of a mystery. Every single time! Or in this case, across three books in this series! 🙂

The Retribution series is a series of novellas among which Snow Fever is indeed quite mysterious and thrilling! I absolutely loved it and cannot recommend it enough!

Smita has a unique perspective of things and life in general and this is seen through her books and writing. She has strong protagonists and well thought-out whodunnits that will keep readers hooked and yearning for more!

And so, here I am, calling out to all fans of mysteries, thrillers and short stories in this genre to join me in signing up to be a part of Smita’s advance reader team!

Smita has so many stories to tell and it would be amazing to be a part of the journey!

The sign-up form can be found here.

Thanks for stopping by!

Book Review: Lies of the Blood Moon by Nina Walker and Kimberly Loth

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My Thoughts:

Note: I received an ARC from Nina and Kimberly in exchange for an honest review! A huge thanks to them for this opportunity.

Lies of the Blood Moon is Book 2 in the New World Shifters series, coauthored by two wonderful authors! This book picks up where Book 1 ended just after Madame Nova’s death. Poppy, our protagonist, is now a stronger person and suspects that the death was actually murder. Her suspicions grow stronger when another of the girls is killed putting everyone at risk. On the other hand, Ryne is trying to stay away from Poppy and is found to be betrothed to Elle, a Luna Wolf and the new teacher for the girls. Here we are introduced to the protective and jealous side of Poppy, a side I’m guessing even she didn’t know about.

As the plot thickens, we have a whole lot of emotions going around and the authors have done a brilliant job in building up the suspense. No-one is really as they seem and there is more to the people than meets the eye. With the Pink Moon Festival approaching and a few engagements announced, there is a whole lot of drama in this book! I like how the girls are portrayed in this book and the bonds that form, break and reform among all of the characters.

Be prepared to be shocked by the turn of events which leads to an interesting ending that lays a strong foundation for the next book. Though some of the plot is easy to guess, the authors have a few tricks up their sleeves just to throw us off balance. There is romance, action, drama and even death in this well-written sequel that makes the book absolutely worth reading! I am looking forward to the next book and all the events to come.

Book Review: The Burglar’s Ball (Jane Austen Investigates, #2) by Julia Golding

About the Book:

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Nancy Drew. Enola Holmes. Sally Lockhart. Move over girls, it’s Jane’s time!

Join young budding detective Jane Austen in her second investigation to uncover a devious diamond thief at the glitziest, most scandalous ball of the year! Inspired by Sense and Sensibility.
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‘No one who had ever seen Jane Austen in her infancy would suppose her to be born to solve crimes. From her early love of sugar plums, and cleverness in hiding her expeditions into the pantry, her mother declared her far more likely to commit them. However, as Jane would counter, there was no better person to identify the culprit than the thief turned thief-catcher.’

When the headmistress invites her past favourite pupil to attend their end of term ball, Cassandra brings her younger sister, Jane, along too. Cassandra plunges into the feverish excitement of preparing for the biggest event of the year – the dresses, the dances and the boys expected from the neighbouring school.

Feeling rather excluded, sharp-witted Jane unearths the reason for the fuss – the headteacher wants to impress a rich family returned from India as the school is at risk of going bankrupt. Jane also befriends the dancing master’s assistant, a former slave, called Brandon, who is as quick to notice things as she. At the ball, a diamond necklace is stolen from a locked room and they are propelled into a race to uncover the burglar and save Brandon from gaol.

With the ever-present Austen spirit, Jane with notebook in hand, boldly overcomes the obstacles to finding the truth.

Perfect for readers aged 9-109, and for fans of Katherine Woodfine and Lucy Worsley.

My Thoughts:

Note: I received an ARC of the book from NetGalley. A huge thanks to the publishers and author.

This is the second book in the Jane Austen Investigates series that follows a young Jane Austen on another of her adventures to solve a mystery. Cassandra Austen is invited to attend a ball at her old school and asks Jane to come along. The headmistress of the school has a soft spot towards Cassandra, her favourite pupil. However, Jane’s presence is quite unexpected and received with some reluctance.

What follows is a series of friendships, some cricket and a theft that leads to Jane stepping in to investigate once again. We also meet Arjun and Deepti again, characters from Book 1 who are delightful and add some wonderful color to the book. I enjoyed the different perspectives in the book and everyone’s lives.

I found that this book was a little less impactful when compared to Book 1, but I still enjoyed it thanks to some of the newer characters, a talking parrot and some circus friends. The mystery was well thought out with a simple plot of theft which moves quickly ensuring the reader is engaged. In an attempt to solve the mystery, Jane uncovers many truths that shed light on the various characters of the book including the headmistress. This is the perfect book for middle graders and will give them a thrill to read it. Let’s not forget the cricket match that has to come to some kind of conclusion with the girls all showing off their amazing skills in a “boys game”! Not to be outshone, the boys also show off their skills in dancing at the ball! It’s all fun and more fun until things go wrong!

I am delighted to have read the books in this series so far and am looking forward to reading more of Jane’s adventures and her witty, sarcastic letters. She had a gift for writing and the author of this series does her justice in my opinion!

Book Review: Cruel Stakes (Vampires and Vices #2) by Nina Walker

About the Book:

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Cross your heart and hope to live.

I should leave them alone and be done with vampires. I finally have my mother back, I’m dating the perfect guy, and I’ve parted ways with Adrian Teresi.

But I have an opportunity to help the hunters and hopefully learn something that could save more humans. Not to mention, I need answers about the venom burning through my veins.

So I go back to The Alabaster Heart to strike another deal with the vampire prince. The game of cat and mouse that follows is expected, and maybe even a little fun, but nothing prepares me for the day that our games end—and the consequences begin.

My Thoughts:

Cruel Stakes picks up where Blood Casino ends. Eva is at odds with what is happening and no longer wants to trust the vampires, especially Adrian Teresi. However, having been bitten, she is driven to find out more regarding her newly heightened senses. In the hope that this information will help with her position among the hunters, Eva once again strikes up a deal with none other than Adrian.

This story was a little less exciting than the first, but it drew me in none the less. There was more action and so much more romance in this book. The author focused a lot on the workings of the vampires giving us a glimpse into their minds. Eva is her usual rebellious self, torn between her long time crush on Felix and her growing attraction to Adrian.

This book shows us some rather negative sides of some of the characters and is filled with some unexpected twists. All this in the end ensures that the reader is in for a BIG shock thus justifying the title and everything that happens in Book 2. There are some unlikely friendships and bonds that form that the reader just wont see coming. This is what I liked most about the book, the elements of surprise which were very well executed!

I am truly excited for and looking forward to Book 3 which I am sure will take us on a big roller coaster ride if these two books are anything to go by!

Cover Reveal: Twilight’s Temptation by Shilpa Suraj

Book Blurb:

The ace photographer and the supermodel, they should have been a match made in heaven. Instead, they fought like the demons of hell.
Complicated, surly, and sexy, Manav Apte was probably the only photographer who resented his muse. From the day he’d seen her, there had been no other. Unfortunately, she was the one woman he could never have.
Passionate, talented, and gorgeous, Diana Severes refused to give the temperamental ass behind the camera the satisfaction of knowing he got under her skin. It was, however, impossible not to notice him or his glowering disapproval that trailed her everywhere she went.
Their dislike and distrust of each other is legendary in the fashion industry and yet, the sparks that fly when they come together for work are enough to light the sets on fire.
Will the Golden Girl of India’s fashion scene be able to see beyond his hatred to the love he’s desperately trying to mask? And will the country’s most talented photographer realise that his true talent lies not in what he views through his lens but what he sees through the filter of his heart?
About the Author:

Shilpa Suraj wears many hats – corporate drone, homemaker, mother to a fabulous toddler and author.

An avid reader with an overactive imagination, Shilpa has weaved stories in her head since she was a child. Her previous stints at Google, in an ad agency and as an entrepreneur provide colour to her present day stories, both fiction and non-fiction.

Contact the Author:
Website * Facebook * Twitter * Instagram * Newsletter

Book Review: A Baffling Murder at the Midsummer Ball by T.E. Kinsey

About the Book:

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A locked room. A mysterious death. Just another gig for the Dizzy Heights.

When London’s finest jazz musicians, the Dizzy Heights, are booked to play the glitzy Midsummer Ball at a country house in Oxfordshire, they expect a weekend filled with flappers and toffs having a roaring good time.

But the festivities at Bilverton House take a turn for the worse when the group are stranded by a summer storm. And when a member of the Bilverton family turns up dead in a locked room in an apparent suicide, Skins, Dunn and Ellie realise this is going to be a much tougher gig than they thought.

But here’s the lick. What if it was in fact cold-blooded murder? And what if the killer is still at large? It’s up to the Dizzy Heights to once again put down their instruments and get improvising if they want to solve this confounding mystery.

My Thoughts:

Note: A huge thank you to NetGalley and Amazon Publishing UK for providing me with an ARC of the book.

This is  the first book that I have read by author T.E. Kinsey. Of course this is the second book in the Dizzy Heights Mystery series, but it can be read as a stand alone book. This story follows the Dizzy Heights band as they arrive at Bilverton House to play at the Midsummer Ball. What is expected to just be a band performance for an evening turns into a situation of house arrest due to the rains. With the Bilverton family members and the Dizzy Heights band stuck together, the plot becomes more interesting when there is a death – in a locked room that is almost ruled a suicide.

As the story progresses, we are introduced to the various members of the band as well as the Bilverton family. It is indeed quite a mix of interesting characters, each with their own quirks, personalities and habits. It also looks like everyone in the Bilverton family is up to something and is keeping secrets. When Ellie hears a gunshot and finds the dead body, she along with Skins and Dunn agree that the circumstances are suspicious and suspect murder.

This turns into an interesting investigative few days for them while the band also plays music and mingles with the family to pass the time. I love how the plot unravels and Ellie’s perceptive nature. She is one of my favourite characters in this story. The author has done a great job in building up the atmosphere and describing each situation and person to the readers! It feels as though we are involved in the investigations and discussions along with the band. I would also like to point out that there are some great references to music from the time period of the setting ( a lot of which I don’t even know), but I felt like I could relate anyway due to how it was described.

This is one murder mystery I would recommend to all fans of the genre and I cannot wait to join the Dizzy Heights band on their next performance and adventure!

Book Review: Nine Lives by Kevin McManus

Book Blurb:

Nine Lives Book Cover

In Western Ireland in 1979, Hazel Devereaux, a student of Trinity College in Dublin, goes missing while working at a summer job. Six months later her body is discovered in a shallow grave. A line from a poem by Edgar Allan Poe entitled “A Paean” is discovered in an envelope at the house Hazel was renting.

Could this be a calling card of the murderer?

Thirty years later, Detective Ray Logue discovers that a series of murders in Boston appear to be connected to the killings in 1979. Each victim also received a line from the poem by Edgar Allan Poe delivered to their homes.

It becomes evident that a serial killer is at work and has claimed seven lives so far.

The murderer kills two victims every ten years, always on a year ending in nine and always on the same dates in June and December. If he follows the same pattern, he will kill again in less than a fortnight.

Ray Logue is dispatched to Boston to work alongside Detective Olivia Callaghan and Inspector Sam Harper to discover the identity of the murderer and to stop him before he strikes again. Logue’s ‘bull in a china shop’ policing method brings him into conflict with Sam Harper’s more calculated and measured approach.

As a result, trying to work together becomes almost as challenging as catching the serial killer.

But catch a killer they must.

Buy the Book:

About the Author:

Kevin McManus Author Photo

Kevin McManus is an Irish author. He primarily writes Crime Fiction novels but also delves into writing poetry and short stories. He lives in County Leitrim in Western Ireland with his wife Mary and their dog Jack. He works by day as a secondary school teacher. Kevin has produced a series of novels featuring an Irish Detective called Ray Logue and a series based around a New York Detective called John Morrigan. His debut novel published in 2016 was “The Whole of the Moon”. In a previous incarnation, Kevin was a bass guitarist in several rock bands for over twenty year. Kevin is a supporter of Aston Villa FC which has caused him to age prematurely.

Follow him at:
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Books-by-Kevin-McManus-1075444599167606
Twitter: https://twitter.com/bassbreeze
Amazon : https://www.amazon.co.uk/Kevin-McManus/e/B01E4GF0GY/ref=dp_byline_cont_pop_ebooks_1

My Thoughts:

Nine Lives by Kevin McManus is a wonderfully well-written detective story that takes the reader into the heart of cold cases that seem to resemble the current string of murders. Detective Ray Logue travels to Boston to work on the case alongside two fine and rather interesting people, Detective Olivia Callaghan and Inspector Sam Harper.

I found the working dynamics of this group of people to be quite interesting and each character’s personality was quite different. The plot is well thought out and will definitely hold your attention until the very end. Be prepared to go on a roller coaster ride as we try to find the serial killer alongside some rather fine detectives.

The author brings a unique spin to the plot with the Edgar Allan Poe messages and the patterns behind the killings. With time running out, the detectives are in a race to catch a killer and prevent more murders! This is one worthwhile read and having read this book first, I am going to now go back and read the book that came before this! I have indeed been won over and am a fan of the author’s works!

Note: This review is a part of the blog tour planned by Zooloo’s Book Tours as a part of the promotion leading up to the release of the book.

Nine Live Book Tour Poster

Zooloos Book Tours

Cover Reveal: Guilt by Michelle Kidd

I am excited to be a part of the cover reveal of this book. The cover is scary but intriguing and the blurb is just wow! I cannot wait to read this book!

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Book Blurb:

Guilt Book Cover

Guilt
Is a killer born…. or created?

A missing child.
A killer on the loose.
A past that refuses to die.

When a six-year-old boy disappears from a local fair, every parent’s worst nightmare is about to come true.
And for Detective Inspector Nicki Hardcastle, twenty-two years after her own nightmare began, the past she thought was buried starts catching up with her – and fast.
Leading the hunt for the missing child, Nicki soon finds the chase takes on a personal twist, with her own memories haunting her every move.
With time set against them, and a killer following his own chilling agenda, can Nicki and her team stop history from repeating itself?
Only time will tell.
But it’s time they don’t have.

About the Author:

Michelle Kidd Author Photo

Michelle Kidd is a self-published author best known for the Detective Inspector Jack MacIntosh series of novels set in London. She has also recently begun a new series which is set in her home town of Bury St Edmunds in Suffolk – starring Detective Inspector Nicki Hardcastle.

Michelle qualified as a lawyer in the early 1990s and spent the best part of ten years practicing civil and criminal litigation.

But the dream to write books was never far from her mind and in 2008 she began writing the manuscript that would become the first DI Jack MacIntosh novel – The Phoenix Project. The book took eighteen months to write, but spent the next eight years gathering dust underneath the bed.

In 2018 Michelle self-published The Phoenix Project and has not looked back since. There are currently four DI Jack MacIntosh novels, with a fifth in progress, and the first DI Nicki Hardcastle novel is due for release in August 2021.
Michelle now works full time for the NHS and lives in Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk. She enjoys reading, wine and cats – not necessarily in that order.

Follow her at:
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/michellekiddauthor
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/michellekiddauthor/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/AuthorKidd
Website : http://www.michellekiddauthor.com

Pre Order Links
Amazon UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B099FMGZ16
Amazon US – https://www.amazon.com/dp/B099FMGZ16

Zooloos Book Tours

Book Review: Jane Austen Investigates: The Abbey Mystery by Julia Golding

About the Book:

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Jane Austen turns detective in this spooky historical adventure by award-winning author Julia Golding!

It’s 1789 and a young Jane Austen turns detective as she seeks to solve the mysterious happenings at Southmoor Abbey. When a carriage accident forces a change of plans, 13-year-old Jane is sent to be a companion to Lady Cromwell for a week as the household prepares to celebrate the eldest son’s coming-of-age party. While there, Jane vows to solve the mystery of the ghostly monk in the Abbey grounds – for she does not believe in such stories!

But this is not the only strange occurrence for the adventurous young Jane to investigate. There are shivery night-time investigations, an Indian girl with secret talents, a library fire, two prize horses in danger, and friends to save from false accusations.

With notebook in hand and her faithful dog Grandison by her side, will Jane overcome the continuous obstacles and find out the truth?

My Thoughts:

Note: I received a copy of this book through NetGalley. The below review reflects my honest opinion!

This is a delightful book for young readers and fans of mystery and adventure! The reader meets a young and spunky Jane Austen who is thirteen years old. She is sent to Southmoor Abbey as a companion to Lady Cromwell for a week in place of her sister. Jane is drawn to the mystery surrounding the Abbey and the so called ghost who haunts the place. On a dare from one of her brother’s she decides to investigate and find out the truth since she does not believe that ghosts exist.

The story introduces us to a myriad of characters, including a father-daughter duo from India and Jane’s “lap” dog Grandison. There are many secrets and mysteries to be solved that eventually end up being connected. I enjoyed reading about Jane’s thoughts and experiences which the author described quite well. We are able to see some of the famous author in this young girl with her strong imagination and opinions. We also see how supportive her family is of her, encouraging her to write and share her thoughts and stories. Jane’s letters to her sister were a delight to read about and some of them had me in splits.

Though the focus moved away from the mystery of the ghost in between, the overall plot is well done and will ensure that the target audience of middle graders (as well as adults) will be hooked. The story and main character remind me of Nancy Drew and other such heroines who seek out and solve mysteries. The author has done a great job in bringing a young Jane Austen to life and I am indeed looking forward to join them on further adventures along with all the friends Jane (and enemies) Jane makes along the way! I do hope you all join the adventure too.

Book Review: Empire of Sand by Tasha Suri

About the Book:

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A nobleman’s daughter with magic in her blood. An empire built on the dreams of enslaved gods. Empire of Sand is Tasha Suri’s captivating, Mughal India-inspired debut fantasy.

The Amrithi are outcasts; nomads descended of desert spirits, they are coveted and persecuted throughout the Empire for the power in their blood. Mehr is the illegitimate daughter of an imperial governor and an exiled Amrithi mother she can barely remember, but whose face and magic she has inherited.

When Mehr’s power comes to the attention of the Emperor’s most feared mystics, she must use every ounce of will, subtlety, and power she possesses to resist their cruel agenda.

Should she fail, the gods themselves may awaken seeking vengeance…

Empire of Sand is a lush, dazzling fantasy novel perfect for readers of City of Brass and The Wrath & the Dawn.

My Thoughts:

This debut novel by Tasha Suri is well written and gripping. Set in a world inspired by Mughal India, Tasha creates a captivating world of politics, intrigue and of course magic. Her characters are refreshing as is the concept for the plot.

The book follows Mehr as she tries to survive in her father’s household under her very watchful stepmother. Born of mixed heritage, Mehr is forbidden from talking about or openly following the customs of her mother’s people. She practices and learns in secret and is always careful to not be seen doing anything she should not. However, one foolish action leads to a series of events that define Mehr and her life thereafter. When her power is finally noticed, the Emperor’s mystics come for her with an offer of marriage.

As the story progresses, we learn a lot more about the ways of the Amrithi people, their culture and magic. They are a dying race and few have the kind of power that Mehr possesses. The author weaves an intriguing tale around this concept, taking us deep into a world of deceit and a thirst for power. With few people on her side, Mehr has to save not only herself but the entire world and set things right by the Gods.

I loved reading about the journey through the desert and the experiences of our characters. The setting is exotic and pulls the reader into a different world entirely. Overall this is a good read in the fantasy fiction genre and I recommend this for all fans!