A Tasty Treat

‘A Contest to Kill For’ by Evie Hunter

The competition is fierce….

Desperate to try and rebuild the reputation of Hopgood Hall, owners Alexi Ellis and Cheryl and Drew Hopgood agree to host a realty TV baking show, spearheaded by their arrogant but enigmatic head chef Marcel Gasquet. Hopefully the ratings will bring in bookings to the struggling hotel and Cosmo, Alexi’s antisocial feral cat, is hoping to get a starring role too!

The temperature is high…

Fiery and hot-headed, Marcel’s antics makes for brilliant television, but off-screen trouble is brewing. One of the contestants, femme fatale Juliette Hammond, makes it clear that she will do anything to secure the winning prize – even if it means sweetening up the prima donna chef.

The results are deadly!

So when Juliette is found dead, all eyes turn to Marcel. Has his fiery French temper got the better of him or has someone else fallen victim to Juliette’s devious ways?

With the reputation of the hotel in tatters and Marcel’s liberty on the line, Alexi needs answers and fast.  And the only person she can turn to for help is her old friend and private eye Jack Maddox.  Jack’s working his own case, but he can’t refuse Alexi and he knows more than anyone that this murder could cost them everything!

Purchase Link – https://mybook.to/ContestToKillForsocial

In my other life I have, this year, been teaching Home Economics. Because, well I said I’d help out and that is how small schools are staffed. So, English teacher to donning the chef’s whites I went. Hardly my natural zone, but needs must when the devil vomits in your kettle. In order to facilitate this, I have watched a quite simply Herculean quantity of Masterchef episodes. UK edition? Completed it, mate. Celebrity incarnation? Tick. Professional? I-Player rung dry. Singaporean, New Zealand, Australian and Celebrity Australian for a little international flavour: I have watched a lot of Masterchef.

And, I’m not going to lie, I understand the temptation to bump off some of the “characters” who present this format internationally.

So, apart from the fact that I had very much enjoyed Evie Hunter’s opening instalment in this series, ‘A Date to Die For’ this latest outing for Alexi, her dilapidated country house owning chums Cheryl and Drew and her chunky monkey sleuthing feline companion Cosmo really appealed for the opportunity to take out any lingering frustrations with celebrity chefs from my in-depth cooking research.

And Hunter, of course, does not disappoint. Her characters have texture – since the debut of the protagonists the world has moved on – they have changed and grown and are dealing with new arrivals. What Hunter maintains is the easy of interaction between them as well as a plot which zooms along reaching a nice rolling boil before satisfyingly concluding like a well-paced meal.

This is another successful outing for the Hopgood House crew and I look forward to dining at their table again in the future.

Author Bio –

Evie Hunter has written a great many successful regency romances as Wendy Soliman and is now redirecting her talents to produce dark gritty thrillers for Boldwood. For the past twenty years she has lived the life of a nomad, roaming the world on interesting forms of transport, but has now settled back in the UK.

Social Media Links –  

Facebook https://www.facebook.com/wendy.soliman.author

Twitter https://twitter.com/Wendyswriter

Instagram https://www.instagram.com/wendy_soliman/

Newsletter Sign Up: https://bit.ly/EvieHunter

Bookbub profile: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/evie-hunter-572c1816-05f2-47c2-9c13-6d10a229670b

Historical Resonance

‘The Body at Carnival Bridge’ by Michelle Salter

How deadly is the fight for equality?

It’s 1922, and after spending a year travelling through Europe, Iris Woodmore returns home to find a changed Walden. Wealthy businesswoman Constance Timpson has introduced equal pay in her factories and allows women to retain their jobs after they marry.

But these radical new working practices have made her deadly enemies.

A mysterious sniper fires a single shot at Constance – is it a warning, or did they shoot to kill? When one of her female employees is murdered, it’s clear the threat is all too real – and it’s not just Constance in danger.

As amateur sleuth Iris investigates, she realises the sniper isn’t the only hidden enemy preying on women.

Purchase Link – https://mybook.to/CarnivalBridgesocial

I very much enjoyed the opening instalment in Michelle Salter’s novels involving Iris Woodmore, Murder at Waldenmere Lake

I described Salter’s novel as being in the “best traditions of the cozy crime genre” and I still stand by this judgement with Iris’ return in ‘The Body at Carnival Bridge’. I understand why, in these divisive times, there are people who have issues with contemporary novelists inventing characters who buck the trend of their historical periods and so we have a world of women and people of colour powering through social divides at a time in history when this was a significant barrier.

However, I’ve always been of the view that this is a distraction and distortion. One of the big issues is that you can often find real historical people who broke the moulds and have been written out of history and so fictional counterparts getting the airtime these pioneers deserved is rather charming.

Secondly, I think watching these characters interacting in their worlds and overcoming their challenges is entertaining.

These thoughts were pootling along in my head while I read this. Iris Woodmore might have found the real world even more stacked against her than she does in the novels but I particularly enjoyed the dynamic between her and potentially under fire industrialist, Constance Timpson.

This is yet another Golden Age-style romp from an author with the historical cajones to back up her lively world of deception and murder and a protagonist of suitable charm and nosiness to get herself into – and out of – plenty of entertaining trouble.

Author Bio –

Michelle Salter is a historical crime fiction writer based in northeast Hampshire. Many local locations appear in her mystery novels. She’s also a copywriter and has written features for national magazines. When she’s not writing, Michelle can be found knee-deep in mud at her local nature reserve. She enjoys working with a team of volunteers undertaking conservation activities.

Social Media Links –  

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MichelleSalterWriter

Twitter: https://twitter.com/MichelleASalter

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/michellesalter_writer/

Newsletter Sign Up: https://bit.ly/MichelleSalterNews

Bookbub profile: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/michelle-salter

Without This, Nothing Else Matters

‘Caring Conservationists Who Are Changing Our Planet’ by Kate Peridot.

Travel around the world and discover the stories of 20 conservationists and the endangered animals they are helping to save, including the orangutang, blue whale, Indian tiger, rhino, honeybee, Komodo dragon and sea turtle. Positive, uplifting and packed full of information, with 20 fun activities for children to try, this book will show children no one is too small to make a difference.  

When I was about nine years old, my Mum took me to London Zoo. We didn’t really do things like that very often and London was big and far away and expensive and a rare luxury.

I’ve never forgotten that trip. It was the late 80s and Zoos were moving away from being the preserve of manically depressed gorillas staring mournfully out of inadequate cages and towards being research and conservation centres, the way the public want them to be today.

Something was awoken in me for sure. And I badgered my Mum to sign me up to the World Wildlife Fund (the original WWF) right there in the park. I suspect that we could scarcely afford this but she acquiesced because, well, she is my Mum and she was/is lovely and I was spoilt.

I moved quite far from an interest in nature as I grew up but, in the last 10-15 years, that interest has come back with a passion. Children – of all ages, classes, and background are interested in the natural world but we lose it so quickly.

In this lavishly illustrated book, Kate Peridot aims to introduce to some of the most famous conservationists who have tried to make a difference and increase awareness. There’s a beautiful breadth of figures featured and a range of activities which could act as excellent introductory tasks for inquisitive young minds.

A full colour delight for the eyes, I have a couple of young nephews who will be getting this for their birthdays. Without their engagement in these issues, nothing else is going to matter anyway.

Purchase Links

Author Bio –

About Kate

Kate is an author of both fiction and non-fiction children’s books. Originally from London, she now lives with her family in the South of France. She writes wild and adventurous stories about animals, people and STEM that encourages a can-do spirit, a quest for knowledge and a sense of adventure. 

Caring Conservationists (Walker Books) is her first non-fiction children’s books. A further nine books are in production launching between 2023-2025. Find out more about Kate and her books at www.kateperidot.com .

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