Needlemouse by Jane O'Connor


Sylvia is a thoroughly unlikeable character at the beginning of Needlemouse, not to mention deluded about her relationship with her boss.

We see the world through her eyes so it takes a while to grasp the extent of her delusion. Eventually her world comes crashing down and she withdraws into herself for a while. Like a hedgehog coming out of hibernation, she slowly starts to recover and makes some new friends.

It really is a book of two halves and I definitely prefer who she becomes in the second half. The writing is very assured with well-rounded, interesting characters, especially Jonas and Crystal.

I also loved the little snippets of information about the hedgehogs. Thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for a review copy.

A Gift from the Comfort Food Cafe by Debbie Johnson

A Gift from the Comfort Food Cafe

Since she was a small child, Katie Seddon has made a habit of running away. Now living with her young son, Saul, on the Dorset coast, she is once again fighting the urge to flee.  

On the surface she has settled in well, and has a lot of friends, but she still seems unable to let anyone get too close. This is understandable, up to a point, as she has been deeply scarred by her upbringing.

However, Katie takes it to such extremes that it becomes unbelievable and self-destructive. Were it not for her son, she probably would have taken off again, but even she can see it would be harmful to take him away from the life he loves.

It was only after I had finished reading A Gift from the Comfort Food Café that I discovered it was part of a well-established series; this explained why I found it so difficult to work out who all the people were.

The story is well written, but I found Katie almost too irritating to read. Saul is my favourite; he makes up for his mother’s shortcomings and everyone loves him. The book deals with some fairly serious subjects in a realistic and sympathetic way, but you really need to read the books in the right order.

Thank you to Lovereading and HarperCollins for a free copy of this book in return for an unbiased review.

Buried on the Fens by Joy Ellis

Buried on the Fens

Buried on the Fens is the seventh in the Fens series by Joy Ellis featuring DI Nikki Galena and DS Joseph Easter. I have to admit to being biased as I have been a fan right from the start.  Although the novels can be read in isolation, they make more sense if read in order.

This is a complex story that eventually links two recent murders with a skeleton unofficially buried in a churchyard many years before.

Nikki’s team have to break through a wall of silence to reach the truth.  My only criticism is the very large number of characters, which I found quite confusing at times, otherwise I would have given it five stars.

Joy paints a vivid picture of the Fens and the difficulties involved in policing such a vast landscape. Her main characters are realistically written with their troubled pasts, but they work well together as a team and support each other. I look forward to reading the next story very soon.

Many thanks to Joffe Books for an advanced copy in exchange for an honest review.

A Rose Petal Summer by Katie Fforde

A Rose Petal Summer

I have been a huge fan of Katie Fforde’s books ever since my mother-in-law gave me a copy of Living Dangerously in 1995.

Over the years I have liked some better than others, but a lot of that’s down to personal taste; there are some that I have reread many times over.

I really enjoyed A Rose Petal Summer, especially that it was mainly set in Scotland. There are a lot of familiar themes here, a lot of echoes from her other novels, and the various seemingly unconnected plot strands are woven seamlessly into a believable story. It kept me reading far into the night.

Dead Lock by Damien Boyd

Dead Lock

I have read all of the Nick Dixon novels, and Dead Lock (number 8) is one of the best. It could be read on its own but you would gain so much more by starting at the beginning of the series.

The Somerset setting is a big part of the appeal.  At the beginning Dixon is on holiday in the Lakes, but when he is called back the whole investigation seems to step up a gear, racing towards a dramatic finale.

There are red herrings galore, but when they finally work out the reason for the kidnappings it all gets very complicated, and time is running out. 

Although Dead Lock was published in 2018, I have only just read it and so have the next one, Beyond the Point, to look forward to later this month.