Book Review: A Body in the Backyard by Elizabeth Spann Craig

A Body in the Backyard is the fourth Myrtle Clover Mystery by Elizabeth Spann Craig.

Summary (from Wattpad)

It’s just an ordinary day for octogenarian sleuth Myrtle Clover—until her yardman discovers a dead body planted in her backyard. This death isn’t cut and dried—the victim was bashed in the head with one of Myrtle’s garden gnomes.

Myrtle’s friend Miles recognizes the body and identifies him as Charles Clayborne… reluctantly admitting he’s a cousin. Charles wasn’t the sort of relative you bragged about—he was a garden variety sleaze, which is very likely why he ended up murdered. As Myrtle starts digging up dirt to nip the killings in the bud, someone’s focused on scaring her off the case. Myrtle vows to find the murderer…before she’s pushing up daisies, herself.

Favourite Quote

This precognition was an irritating thing.  It made you feel like you were always one-step behind.

Review

This is the first book I’ve read by this author, and the first in the Myrtle Clover Mysteries that I have read.  And, I can say I really enjoyed this cosy mystery.  Myrtle Clover is an entertaining sleuth.  She reminds me a little of Miss Marple as she is always popping up everywhere, but unlike Miss Marple, Myrtle is so much more proactive when it comes to finding the evidence she needs to solve the case.

Myrtle is a fantastic sleuth determined to get to the bottom of the case before her son, Bradley’s chief of police, Red does.  Red is an interesting character.  Professionally he doesn’t want his mother to interfere with a murder inquiry.  Personally he is worried about her, and thinks at her age she should be living in a retirement home.

There were other entertaining characters in this story also: Wanda the psychic and her brother, Crazy Dan, her neighbour, Miles, and Pasha the feral cat (one of my favourites).  I liked how the other characters interacted with Myrtle, their opinions varying from a nosy old lady to a vulnerable OAP, from the stern teacher who taught them over thirty years ago to the crank gnome collector.

This gentle-paced cosy mysteries was a fun, quick read.   I will definitely be reading more of the Myrtle Clover Mysteries, maybe even before this month is out.

Rating

Originally I was only going to award the book 3.5 / 5 but Myrtle was so much fun I bumped it up to 4

I found “A Body in the Backyard” by Elizabeth Spann Craig on Wattpad.

Book Review: Shadow of Doubt by Linda Poitevin

Summary (from Wattpad)

When police officer Kate Dexter runs over a man on a dark country road, the last thing she expects to discover is that he’s also been shot. Unable to get help because of the storm that caused the accident in the first place, she takes the unconscious stranger to her family’s farm, intending to alert the local authorities.

Then Jonas Burke regains consciousness, and his shocking blue eyes and incredible story give her pause. Is he the victim of the conspiracy he claims? Or is he the dirty cop-turned-murderer that’s the subject of a Canada-wide warrant?

With a manhunt underway for the fugitive she’s now harboring, Kate finds herself torn between career and instinct. Even as everything cop in her insists she turn him over, her heart tells her he’s innocent…but can she trust a heart that’s gone as rogue as the cop she may be falling for?

Favourite Quote

The gesture of familiarity twisted through Jonas with all the subtlety of a prison-made shank.

Review

This was one of those books where, on reaching the end of the chapter, I found myself saying, “Just one more”.  Again and again and again.  I just couldn’t stop reading until I reached the end.

The story, set in Canada and then the United States, is told from the perspectives of both Kate Dexter and Jonas Blake.  Their characters are so different from each other that you are pulled along by their toing-and-froing, and the tension between them was palpable throughout. I also liked Todd Jennings, Dexter’s partner.

There is plenty of action in this story, and so many twists and turns to keep you wondering where the next threat is going to come from.  After all, the odds are stacked against them from the start. The pace of the story was just right; fast enough to keep the reader engage but not so fast that they got lost.

As I read, I could clearly envisage each place Dexter and Blake visited.  From the country road where the story began, to the dark alleys, diners and motels that they called into.  The ending wasn’t unexpected, but I was kept guessing as to how the story was going to get there, which made for a fresh and captivating read.

This is one of the best books I’ve read on Wattpad, and I can’t recommend it highly enough, especially to those who like their crime novels to have a romantic suspense element to them.  I will certainly be reading more by this author, without a doubt.

Rating

4.5 / 5

I found Shadow of Doubt by Linda Poitevin on Wattpad.

Short Story Review: The Shrine by Ben Kane

The Shrine is the short story prequel to Eagles at War, the first book in the Eagles of Rome trilogy by Ben Kane.

Summary

The story is set in Mogontiacum, Gallia Belgica in 6BC, and Lucius Cominius Tullus, a Roman soldier, has just accepted a promotion.  The new post involves a transfer, moving from the Twenty-First legion to become a centurion in the Eighteenth, stationed in Vetera.  En route, he pauses on the way, to watch the famous footrace in Mogontiacum after which he decides to visit the local shrine.  The shrine in question is the temple to Magna Mater (the Great Mother) and Isis.

But his stay there is not to be a quiet one.  Neither will it be easy to forget…

Favourite Quote

“Piss off,” hissed Tullus.  He had no woman.  The army was work enough.

Review

I really enjoyed this short story.  It served as a great introduction to the character of Tullus and to the location: the German frontier. This period in Roman’s history fascinates me, and so I found the not-too-heavy, yet still rich detail of the setting a rewarding read.  One of my interests is in ancient religion so the part of the story set in the temple held me captivated.

I especially enjoyed reading the “note from the author” at the end of the story, as it explained how and why the story came about.

I’ve already gone out and bought a copy of Eagles at War, and am looking forward to begin reading it.  Tullus sounds like an interesting character and I want to see how his story unfolds, as I am aware of the events that happen round this time in this part of the empire.

If you’ve yet to read any of Ben Kane’s books, why not pop over to Wattpad and give this short story a read for free? (Here’s the link if you’re interested.)

Rating

 

Non-Fiction Review: Fighting for Freetown by Comic Relief

Summary:

This short non-fiction read tells the story of a young woman, Ikmatu, and how she helped her community when Ebola struck Sierra Leone in 2014.

Favourite Quote:

But Ikmatu didn’t want to just sit back and do nothing.  She wanted to fight for the home that she loved.

So that’s what she did.

Review:

This really is an inspirational read.  Ikmatu’s story is touching – I can’t imagine being thirteen years old and being witness to the spread of such a terrible disease.  This young woman’s courage and care for the people where she lived, even when they looked at her with fear and suspicion, is truly moving.

I am reminded of the review I wrote for Morality for Beautiful Girls by Alexander McCall Smith, where I mentioned ” a theme of the book is that Africa can teach the world how to care for other people”, and I think this book not only echoes that sentiment, but reinforces it.

You can read Ikmatu’s inspiring account by heading over to Wattpad.

Rating:

Looking Ahead to Festive Reads Fortnight 2016

festive reads fortnight

I know it might seem a little early, but we like to plan ahead here at Sammi Loves Books.  Well…sometimes 😉

This year’s Festive Reads Fortnight begins on 11 December 2016.  I have a few stories that I have been putting to one side for this reading challenge, but I am always eager for more. 😀  If you have any recommendations or review requests for stories that centre on the Christmas / Winter Solstice period (no matter the length or genre, whether self-published, or posted on a blog or Wattpad, etc), I would love to hear from you!  Comment below or contact me through my ‘Contact Me’ page.

To see what I read for last year’s Festive Reads Fortnight, click here.

Can’t wait to hear from you!

Would you be interested…?

UPDATE: the anthology “Winter Magic” is now going ahead.  Yay!  Check out the submission guidelines for this project and to learn about future projects, by following this link.  Can’t wait to read what you’ve come up with.

I posted this on my writing blog (Sammi Scribbles) yesterday, but thought I should post it here too, for anyone who missed it that might be interested 🙂


This week has been a whirlwind of ideas.  Sometimes it feels like having too many ideas is just as bad as having writer’s block.  Or is it worse? 😉

So, I thought before I go any further and get carried away (which may or may not already have happened), I might put one of these ideas out there and see what kind or response it gets.  And my!  Am I nervous about doing it.  Take a big, deep breath, Sammi!

So what is this idea?  I was thinking of launching a little side project that would release multi-author anthologies out into the e-world.  And the first of these projects would be an anthology of short stories, flash fiction and poetry inspired by the theme of…wait for it…”Winter Magic”.

Now, all the details are not finalised and what follows is not set in stone, but if you think this might be something that interests you, please read on to see what I have already come up with:

  • The most important point to note is that the primary purpose of this endeavour is to help get writers work seen by as many people as possible.  After all, that’s what we as writers want isn’t?  No, it’s what we need if we are going to get anywhere in this industry.
  • The deadline for submissions would be around 17 November 2016
  • The proposed release date for the anthology would be around 1 December 2016
  • The anthology will be posted online – probably on Wattpad via an account set up specifically for the anthologies.  Yes, I have ideas for many, many others 🙂  This way I won’t be taking credit for anyone else’s work.  You will need a Wattpad account (they’re free to set up and it only takes a matter of minutes) but you are not required to be active on the site.  This is so that I can link your work with your own account / profile as well as having the work attributed to you within the anthology. (Why Wattpad?  Because there is already a strong, supportive readership in place, and work that is posted there is protected.  Also anthologies and collaborations are quite popular on the site too).
  • Unfortunately, you won’t get paid, but all authors will get a PDF copy of the anthology – which won’t be available anywhere else, to anyone else (one small exception might be for book reviewers not on Wattpad as part of the promotional side of the anthology).
  • All genres will be accepted except fanfiction.
  • Reprints will be accepted as long as you hold the rights to the work.
  • Rights remain with the authors at all times.

So those are the bare bones of it.  There are more details, but I thought they could wait until the submission call is released, if it is released.  This will depend if anyone is interested in submitting something for consideration.  The question is, are you?  If yes, please let me know by commenting below or contacting me – don’t worry, you are not committing to anything, only giving me an idea as to whether this little endeavour would be worth my time and effort, and yours.

Thanks so much for reading.  It’s appreciated 🙂

Reading Challenges Update

So, it’s the last day of July, meaning here at Sammi Loves Books, it is the last day of Indie Only Month.  I read and reviewed six stories this month, a few less than I was expecting / hoping, meaning I didn’t get around to a few books that were recommended to me.  However, they have been added to my “To be bought” or “To be read” lists and hopefully I will get around to them later this year. (To see what books I did get manage to read and review, see Indie Only Month 2016)

But we (yes, the royal “we”) are not glum to be leaving Indie Only Month behind us.  Why?  Because August is Historical Fiction Month.  Hurrah!

Historical Fiction Month

The first Historical Fiction Month was held in 2014 and this year I already have a gem or two reviews that I am planning to share.

So, if you have any requests or recommendations, please get in touch!  For more information, check out the Historical Fiction Month page or Review Requests.