Death of an Avid Reader

A lady with a secret

Kate Shackleton’s sterling reputation for courageous sleuthing attracts the attention of the venerable Lady Coulton. Hidden in her past is a daughter, born out of wedlock and given up to a different family. Now, Lady Coulton is determined to find her and puts Kate on the case.

A mysterious killing in the library’s basement

But as Kate delves deeper into Lady Coulton’s past, she soon finds herself thrust into a scandal much closer to home. When the body of the respected Horatio Potter is found in the Leeds Library basement, the quiet literary community is suddenly turned upside down with suspicions, accusations and – much to Kate’s surprise – the appearance of a particularly intelligent Capuchin monkey!

The most puzzling case in Kate’s sleuthing history yet

My opinion: Two things I love are cosy mysteries and a good series. As I’ve now read all of the books in my favourite series of Agatha Raisin mysteries, I’m looking for something else to read. So when I got offered a review copy of this book by the publisher, it came at just the right time.

This is the sixth book in the series, so I haven’t got to know the main character Kate in the same way that existing fans have. This wasn’t a problem though as I instantly liked Kate and felt that she seemed very competent and a good, well respected detective.

What I really liked about this book is that Kate is a young female amateur detective, rather than a middle aged or older woman such as Miss Marple or Agatha Raisin. This was a refreshing change. I also loved the period setting of the book.

I would recommend this book to cosy mystery fans as it kept me guessing, but had a great storyline to go with it, along with lots of colourful characters. I will definitely seek out the earlier books in the series and probably revisit this book once I have read them.

A great book to cwtch up with as the nights are drawing in.

My rating: Four stars

I receieved an advance copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.


Book extract: A Nurse’s Life

As part of the virtual coffee morning for Macmillan being hosted by Great Storie’s with Heart, I am hosting this extract of A Nurse’s Life by Jane Grant. Don’t forget to make a donation to this wonderful cause.

A Nurse’s Life by Jane Grant

Heart-warming and humorous tales from a 1950s student nurse.

In this warm and witty book, Jane Grant recounts her life as a trainee nurse in a busy 1950s London teaching hospital.

Jane, and her friends Mary and Phyllis, discover that both happiness and heartache can be found on the wards of St. Bernard’s Hospital. Before long they realise it takes determination and a sense of humour to deal with the colourful characters of hospital life – and that goes for the staff as well as the patients.

The young nurses gain their medical training under the watchful eyes of strict, but generally fair, Sisters and Matrons. They meet patients who are facing the biggest challenges of their lives, and share with them moments of bravery and fear. There are times of laughter, but also of tears.

There is romance too, as Jane and her fellow student nurses enjoy the attentions of the hospital’s handsome young doctors, falling in and out of love for the first time.

A Nurse’s Life is a moving and amusing account of a bygone era, brought vividly to life.

An excerpt from A Nurse’s Life:

The St. Bernard’s Training School contained about fifty probationer nurses at one time; these were trained for three months before going on the wards. During the year four ‘sets’ of nurses received training. Nurses were put in bedrooms in groups of four: how these groups were sorted out is unknown to me. Did the psychologists pick out those of similar backgrounds and tastes? Did Matron take notes when she interviewed us, and send down our files to Sister? Or, as seems more probable, was the arrangement one entirely of chance?

Whatever the system, the result was that, in nine cases out of ten, the strangers with whom one shared a bedroom became, by the end of one’s training, one’s most intimate friends, and this was recognized by the authorities, who, as far as possible did not separate the original quartet.

The first few days at Borwood were frantically busy and confusing. They were divided into periods of classes, practical work, meals, and study periods. During one of these, Mary had gone to see Sister Tutor about leaving early to catch a train at the week-end. She came back into the classroom and announced: ‘Sister Charlotte wants one of us to volunteer to be a patient for the blanket-bathing class.’

There was silence for a moment. ‘Does the victim have to be blanket-bathed?’ asked Sarah.

‘Oh no, I shouldn’t think so,’ said Mary, obviously knowing nothing about it.

I asked what blanket-bathing was.

‘Oh, I know!’ said Sarah. ‘I remember now my mother had one when she was in hospital. They put blankets next to your skin to raise the temperature.’

‘It sounds bliss,’ I said. It was a very cold day and the classroom was none too warm. I added, ‘I’ll be the patient if nobody else wants to.’

Mary went off to take my offer to Sister Charlotte. A group of nurses sitting in front of us started to laugh and said I was brave. I took no notice, though I did remember at that moment the advice of my brothers never to volunteer for anything.

The time came for our class. I went into the Practical Classroom, which was icy cold, and changed into the very unglamorous pyjamas that the hospital provided for patients. I got into the bed, which was in the middle of the floor surrounded by chairs for student nurses. They assembled, chattering, while my friends hurled ridicule at me from the front seats, and I sat there, trying in vain to look at my ease.

Sister Charlotte walked in briskly, and all talking abruptly ceased.

‘Now, Nurses,’ she said, ‘blanket bathing is one of your most important treatments. An ill patient greatly appreciates being washed.’

An appalling vision began to present itself to me. Sarah grinned, Pat giggled and Mary gave a sympathetic smile. A whisper went round the class.

‘It is really,’ Sister Charlotte continued, ‘merely a matter of common sense. You must have plenty of hot water, get up a good lather, and remember to keep the patient warm.’

She rolled up her sleeves and approached me.

‘First of all we strip the bed,’ she said, and started peeling off the counterpane. ‘Then we get our hot water.’

She signalled to the junior Assistant Tutor, who rushed out of the room carrying two enormous jugs.

‘We get out our toilet requisites,’ said Sister Charlotte, rummaging in the locker beside the bed. ‘Then we fill our bowl.’

The assistant, returning, poured out the water.

‘You must,’ said Sister Charlotte firmly, ‘undress your patient completely.’

There was a stifled gasp from the class, while I turned bright red.

She then proceeded to peel off the pyjama jacket from my frozen body, bending my arm at right angles to my back. I tried desperately to retain my modesty with the blanket. She then moved down to my feet and started pulling at the trousers; airily handed the pyjamas to her assistant to put on the radiator, and advanced on me with the flannel.

She washed me thoroughly, remarking at intervals on points of interest.

‘You must never forget, Nurses’ ‒ digging her fingers in my ear ‒ ‘to wash the ears thoroughly.’ She lifted my arm above my head. ‘Always remember to wash the areas where excess perspiration takes place, twice, and powder.’

By this time I had studied the ceiling to the point where I knew its every detail, for I did not dare to look at my classmates. As she finished with my final leg (‘You must always start with the limb farther away from you’) I gave a deep sigh of relief, and perked up enough to give a weak smile at my friends.

Sister Charlotte then stood back from the bed, but showed no signs of putting on my pyjamas again.

‘Now it is very important, Nurses,’ she said, emphasizing every word, ‘that when a patient is in bed all day, the Pressure Areas should receive a great deal of attention. They should be treated four hourly.’

She then poured more hot water into the bowl, and asked me to turn on my side. She whisked back the blanket, soaped her hands and remarked: ‘You must lather the buttocks well, first washing, then rubbing.’

She continued to suit the action to the word, while my teeth chattered and the bed springs creaked. ‘To harden the skin,’ she went on, having dried the affected area, ‘put spirit on.’ This she applied, further lowering my body temperature. ‘Then powder well.’ I thought the whole thing sounded rather like a cooking-recipe.

Much to my relief, she then returned my pyjamas and dismissed the class.

My sympathetic friends transported me, white and shaken, to our room, where I had the last slice of Sarah’s birthday cake to restore my morale.

The next day’s demonstrations were also a little shattering to the nerves. A man from the local fire-station was called in to teach us emergency fire-drill. The climax consisted in having a rope put underneath your arms, and being dropped out of a window from the top floor. Interest was heightened by nurses getting hit on any window that happened to be open at the time, or becoming stuck on the shrubs growing in the beds underneath.


Getting divorced at twenty-five sucks
Teaching over-confident rich kids instead of designing handbags for Mulberry sucks. In fact, every single aspect of Daisy Fitzgerald’s life is one big…

Enter Xander, a veritable Knight-in-Shining-Cricket-Pads, who knocks her off her wedge heels and into his world of It-girls, players and Michelin stars.

Buoyed up on cocktails & escapism
Daisy agrees to play Forfeit, the ultimate game of dares, where a simple kiss sparks her relationship with Xander. But £25,000 is up for grabs and the game’s called Forfeit for good reason.

Blackmail * Betrayal * Revenge
Move over Gatsby, there’s a new bunch of bored young things in town.

Perfect for fans of Jilly Cooper, David Nicholls, Fiona Walker and Jo Carnegie, #Forfeit’s an contemporary romance from a No.1 and ‘Most Read’ Wattpad author with over 3,000,000 online reads.

“#Forfeit will make you laugh, cry, question your sanity and wish for your very own Knight-In-Shining-Cricket-Pads.” –

My opinion: When Caroline got in contact with me to ask if I would read and review her book, I knew from just skim reading the blurb that this was a book for me!

Daisy is a 25 year old divorcee who is trying to piece her life back together after it majorly fell apart. When looking for somewhere to live, she meets Xander, a young lad who comes to her rescue. Not only does he help her with somewhere to stay, but also helps her to start having fun and rebuild her life again. At a party with Xander’s friends, Daisy agrees to take part in a game called Forfeit. The game brings out her competitive side (well there is £25,000 at stake, and she’s skint) and mayhem ensues.

I really enjoyed the book from the moment I picked it up. I instantly liked Daisy, although some of her reactions to bad situations (particularly involving her ex) annoyed me a little bit. Although Daisy works as a teacher in a rural location, she still lives a bit of a rock and roll lifestyle in the book and does things that I wanted to tut loudly at! I also really liked Xander. He seems like such a charmer and a gent, I couldn’t help but like him.

This book is a great modern take on what can happen when young people get bored and play a silly game. Only this time we have the power of the internet and social media, along with lots of sex, booze and dance music!

My rating: Four stars

I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review

Book extract: #Forfeit

Today I’m featuring an excerpt from the fabulous #Forfeit by Caroline Batten

‘What’s Forfeit?’ Finn asked, half laughing.

Daisy daren’t look up. He’d think her a childish brat for handing over five hundred pounds to do a stupid dare.

‘It’s the ultimate game of dares,’ India explained, her gentle, husky voice, sounding like a purr. ‘My parents’ used to play it when I was a kid. They’d have these totes cool parties–’

‘Mum and Dad used to play?’ James asked, his head already shaking, disbelieving her, but India nodded, her glossy curls bouncing.

‘And Bella.’ India sat back, grinning.

My mum played?’ Marcus leaned on the table, frowning.

‘When I was about five,’ India said, ‘she rode a motorbike around the house. I watched through the banister at the top of the stairs. I thought mum would go insane, but she just shrieked with laughter.’ Fleeting sadness washed over her face, but she soon replaced it with a fabulous smile.

‘Bella rode a motorbike, in the house?’ James shook his head. ‘As if.’

‘So can Finn and I play too?’ India asked.

James glanced to Xander who gave an almost imperceptible shake of his head. ‘No. Original players only. If you start it, you have to finish it. It’s in the small print.’

India sulked. ‘You’re such a pedant.’

‘Money, table,’ James said to the others, his interest infinitely more piqued than earlier.

Under India’s envious pout, Daisy merrily tossed five hundred pounds of Clara’s money into the metaphorical pot. Five hundred pounds. One third of what her car was worth. Okay, Clara said she didn’t want it back again if Daisy lost, but no way could Daisy live with herself if she didn’t pay her back. And no way could she afford to pay her back. The only option was to win.

Daisy threw the Teetotum ball. It landed on nineteen, not a number she loved.

‘Shit.’ James said, scowling at his card. ‘Well, that’s hardly fun. Or difficult.’

‘What?’ Xander asked, throwing the ball

James screwed up his face. ‘It says I can’t let anyone know what I’m doing, or why.’

Oh, like the Kiss Dare had to be done in secret. Tentatively, Daisy opened her card.


No drink or drugs for 30 days.

‘Oh, bollocks.’ Despairing, she showed Xander the card.

‘It’ll do you good.’

‘What is it?’ Finn’s eyes glinted as he sipped his wine.

Marcus whipped the card out of Daisy’s hands. ‘No drinking? Good luck with that.’

‘She can do it,’ Xander said, flipping a beer mat at his friend.

‘I’d bet five hundred quid she can’t,’ James said, his lip curling in a mean smile.

‘Bugger you,’ Daisy snapped. ‘Five hundred quid says I can.’

‘You’re on.’ James leant across the table and held out his hand.

Oh, now this was fortuitous. If she did the dare, she was guaranteed to get Clara’s five hundred pounds back and if she won the whole thing… well, hello, two and a half grand.

The Blood of an Englishman

Fee, fie, fo, fum. I smell the blood of an Englishman…”Even though Agatha Raisin loathes amateur dramatics, her friend Mrs. Bloxby, the vicar’s wife, has persuaded her to support the local pantomime. Stifling a yawn at the production of “Babes in the Woods,” Agatha watches the baker playing an ogre strut and threaten on the stage, until a trapdoor opens and the Ogre disappears in an impressive puff of smoke. Only he doesn’t re-appear at final curtain.

Surely this isn’t the way the scene was rehearsed? When it turns out the popular baker has been murdered, Agatha puts her team of private detectives on the case. They soon discover more feuds and temperamental behavior in amateur theatrics than in a professional stage show—and face more and more danger as the team gets too close to the killer.

The Blood of an Englishman is Agatha’s 25th adventure, and you’d think she would have learned by now not to keep making the same mistakes. Alas, no—yet Agatha’s flaws only make her more endearing. In this sparkling new entry in M. C. Beaton’s New York Times bestselling series of modern cozies, Agatha Raisin once again “manages to infuriate, amuse, and solicit our deepest sympathies as we watch her blunder her way boldly through another murder mystery” (

My opinion: You probably already know that I am a massive fan of the Agatha Raisin series, and now read all 25 in the series.

In this latest installment Agatha hasn’t changed one bit. She is still man mad, and getting herself involved in another murder in her local area. This one starts off with a terrible murder during an amateur dramatics production in the local theatre. Agatha gets drafted in to help get to the bottom of who the murderer is, and as always, mayhem and adventure ensue.

I really enjoyed this latest book and thought it was more like some of the earlier books in the series. All of the Agatha Raisin books are formulaic, but that is something I like about them. They truly are cosy and you know what you are going to get from them. Even though Agatha is such an unlikable character, I can’t help but like her. This is a fun story with a good amount of twists and turns and I’m already looking forward to find out what trouble Agatha gets herself into next.

Recommended for fans of the series.

My rating: Four stars

I received an advance copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review