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A Body at the Altar, by Dee MacDonald

A Body at the Altar book cover

Nurse Kate Palmer and her boyfriend Woody Forrest, a former police officer, are guests at a wedding when the groom drops dead at the altar. Kate desperately tries to save the groom but he is declared dead at the scene. A post mortem reveals poison… Kate then discovers that someone had previously tried to sabotage the wedding and other village weddings had been cancelled too…
A Body at the Altar is the 4th book to feature amateur sleuth Kate Palmer. I have previously reviewed the other books in the series: A Body In The Village Hall, A Body In Seaview Grange, and A Body at the Tea Rooms.
Kate cannot resist a new investigation especially as she feels threatened by the new police officer that her boyfriend seems friendly with. I love that these characters are in their 60s but they still have emotional intrigues and are well rounded and authentic. I hope I still have Kate’s energy in 20 years!
There are plenty of suspects as the plot unfolds. Several weddings have been cancelled and a poison pen letter writer has successfully destroyed their relationships. Kate searches for possible clues which allows the village and peripheral characters to be brought to the forefront. She needs to uncover motive to lead her to the killer but why would anyone want to sabotage weddings?
Kate’s relationships play a key role again. Her jealousy and own self doubt cast a shadow over her romance with Woody Forrest. Meanwhile her sister Angie is more settled and drinking less so I felt that their relationship was strengthened.
A Body at the Altar is a great addition to the series. This latest case has all the features of classic murder mysteries especially the poison pen letters and poison itself. I would LOVE to see these cosy mysteries turned into a TV series!

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A Body at the Altar book description:
Jilted grooms, sudden deaths, broken hearts and threatening letters. All in a day’s work for super sleuth Kate Palmer!
Nurse Kate Palmer thought the pretty Cornish village of Tinworthy would be the perfect place for a peaceful retirement. She couldn’t have been more wrong! But even she is shocked when she attends a beautiful wedding at St. Pirin’s Church and the handsome groom drops dead in front of her very eyes.
While the rest of the wedding party panics, Kate notices the strange behaviour of the not-so-blushing bride and the posh mother-in-law – and vows to find out the truth behind the poor young man’s sudden demise. Especially when the new detective Charlotte Martin makes it known that she doesn’t want Kate involved – and also shows an interest in Woody Forrest, Kate’s partner in crime-solving.
Undeterred, Kate discovers this isn’t the only wedding to have been sabotaged. A series of peculiar letters contain the clues Kate needs to get to the heart of the matter. But is the mystery letter writer behind the unusual deaths? Or is more than one person responsible for the strange goings on in the seaside village…
As Kate digs deeper, she adds more suspects to her growing list: the world-weary vicar, the unlucky-in-love cleaner and the bride’s former flame. But, as a pair of boots bring Kate closer to the killer, it becomes clear their investigation has placed Woody in danger.
Can Kate solve the murder and save the man she loves at the same time?
If you love cozy crime mysteries by Agatha Christie, Faith Martin or Joy Ellis, this page-turning novel will have you reading late into the night!
author Dee MacDonald
Author Bio:
Aged 18, Dee arrived in London from Scotland and typed her way round the West End for a couple of years before joining BOAC (forerunner of British Airways) in Passenger Services for 2 years and then as a stewardess for 8 years.
She has worked in Market Research, Sales and at the Thames TV Studios when they had the franchise.
Dee has since relocated to Cornwall, where she spent 10 years running B&Bs, and only began writing when she was over 70!
Married twice, she has one son and two grandsons.
Buy Link:
Amazon: https://bit.ly/3mJXoXy


Children’s book review: Animalympics, by Josie Dom

Animalympics book cover
Humans are staying inside due to the pandemic and the animals decide to host their own sporting event: the Animalympics!
This children’s book is written entirely in rhyme. It is actually quite lengthy which is impressive for poetry in my opinion. The ingenious merger of sports and animals is very entertaining and there is a good level of detail about the animals’ behaviour and a variety of sporting knowledge.
The illustrations are beautiful and cleverly show the animals taking part in a variety of sports. The pictures really bring the words to life. Most show the animals in realistic poses (such as the bats performing martial arts and the walruses playing handball) but some animals are shown on hindlegs or in an upright stance to also be sporty.

Animals are given the chance to show off their prowess, using their natural skills to compete and enjoy a celebration of all sports. I love that a wide range of land and sea animals, birds, insects and reptiles are included so I’m sure your child will spot their favourite animal taking part!
Animalympics is a warm book that will make you and your child smile. It is a clever celebration of both humans with their sporting invention, and animals with their natural abililties. Plus the author used this book to support UK zoos which have struggled during the Covid crisis as well as regularly donating book profits to children’s charities.
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Animalympics book blurb:
Woodpecker Will presents the Animalympics! Whilst the humans stay indoors, the animal kingdom takes over to hold the sporting event of the century! Join the golfing ostriches, trampolining moles and weight-lifting gorillas (plus many more) in a fun rhyming adventure for all ages.
Purchase Links
author Josie Dom
Author Bio –
Josie Dom is a children’s author learning to embrace her individuality.
Join her in a world of imagination where anything could happen and the most important things are friendship and kindness.
Josie lives in the small town of Halstead in Essex with her husband Nic Phine (illustrator of the Lum books), their son and daughter, a mixed-up dog (LabLurchTrievOodle) Frank and a big fluffy ginger cat called Mittens.
Although Josie’s books are too young for her children now, it was their love of stories when they were little which inspired Josie to pick up her pen and create.
After a lifetime in sensible office jobs, Josie is relishing the opportunity to explore her creative side.
Josie is passionate about supporting causes close to her heart.  Each year, Josie donates 15% of profit on book sales to a children’s charity.
In 2020, due to Covid-19, Josie penned an Animalympics which she used to raise funds for UK zoos.

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Social Media Links –
Facebook:           https://www.facebook.com/josiedomauthor
Instagram:          https://www.instagram.com/josiedomauthor/
Twitter:                https://twitter.com/JosieDom
LinkedIn:             https://www.linkedin.com/in/josiedom/
Giveaway to Win a signed copy of Animalympics, an Animalympics gold medal plus stickers and bookmarks (Open to UK only)
*Terms and Conditions –UK entries welcome.  Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below.  The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then Rachel’s Random Resources reserves the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over.  Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.
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The Mother’s Fault, by Nicole Trope

The Mother's Fault book cover

Single mum Beverly has just broken up with her most recent boyfriend Ethan. Her 8 year old son begins receiving presents and she suspects Ethan is trying to worm his way back into their family unit. But Beverly is also haunted by her memories and, when Riley disappears, she is forced to confront the past…
The Mother’s Fault is a psychological thriller set in the present day in Australia.
The book is written from three perspectives: Beverly and Riley both in the third person, and a mystery person written using first person narration. This increases the tension over the first third of the book as we see this person’s intent but do not know their identity.
I think the author was clever to use Riley’s childish voice to bring his character to life and offer an unexpected and unusual dimension to the style. His focus on things that adults might not spot felt authentic and his thought processes give the reader a chance to understand the plot twists.
The pace and drama increases significantly as Riley is abducted from his garden. The identity of the stranger is revealed to Riley as a panicked Beverly anguishes over the past. Her decisions in the past have overshadowed her life for eight years so despite the devastation I think it did her good to confront her demons. Meanwhile, our sympathies for the abductor grow as we learn of their unhappy childhood.
The Mother’s Fault was a gripping book and held my interest in the characters and plot. I have previously reviewed Bring Him HomeThe Girl Who Never Came HomeThe Life She Left BehindThe Nowhere GirlThe Boy in the Photo, My Daughter’s Secret, and The Family Across the Street by Nicole Trope.
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The Mother’s Fault book description:
She’ll do anything to save her son. But what if telling the truth means losing him for ever?
On a crisp winter’s evening, Beverly is cooking for her son. Eight-year-old Riley is climbing a tree in the garden, and Beverly smiles as she watches him. Nothing makes her happier than her precious child having fun – she never thought they’d be happy again.
The water on the stove is boiling, and Beverly slides in a handful of spaghetti. When she glances out of the window again, Riley is not there.
She races outside, her heart thumping. Riley is nowhere to be found.
Instinctively, Beverly knows that her son has not just run away. She knows this because of her secret – the one she has kept for eight years. The one that means she has no choice but to keep neighbours at a distance, that stops her sleeping at night.
She thought she’d made the right decision, that she was protecting her son. But now he’s gone. Could this be all her fault?
She’ll do anything to save him. Yet if she tells the truth, she could lose him for ever…
A totally gripping psychological thriller that will get your pulse racing like crazy as it hits you with twist after twist after twist! If you loved The Wife Between Us or The Girl on the Train you’ll be utterly glued to this page-turner.
author Nicole Trope
Author Bio:
Nicole Trope went to university to study Law but realised the error of her ways when she did very badly on her first law essay because, as her professor pointed out, ‘It’s not meant to be a story.’
She studied teaching instead and used her holidays to work on her writing career and complete a Masters’ degree. In between raising three children, working for her husband and renovating houses, she has published six novels. She lives in Sydney, Australia.
Buy Links:
Amazon: https://bit.ly/3afuwjX
Apple: https://apple.co/3yAmfSn
Kobo: https://bit.ly/2VGFGdP
Google: https://bit.ly/3lH3cSJ

The New Mother, by Julia Crouch

The New Mother book cover


Famous influencer Rachel Rodrigues is taking her brand in a new direction: she’s pregnant! Behind her ‘authentic’ style is a team of experts and she decides to hire a mother’s help to care for her baby. She hires Abbie who is a huge fan. But both women are hiding secrets…
The New Mother is a psychological thriller and is the first book that I have read from this author.
It is not easy to like either of the main charcaters although both of them earned my sympathy at various points in the book. Rachel seems to have it all but she is suffering from frightening blackouts and is haunted by an event from the past. Abbie is shocked by the reality behind the brand that Rachel presents to the world. Her own deception involves lying to get the job and then hiding her past from Rachel.
There is an unsettling atmosphere to the book as we know that both lead charcaters are lying to each other. I spotted lots of clues that made me think ‘aha’ and then emjoyed seeing how the plot unfurled as the pace increased.
The book is written in the third person and alternates chapters with text from Instagram posts so that we see the power of social media. I read the detail of the IG posts versus reality with such a cynicism and a wry smile being a blogger myself!
The New Mother is thoroughly entertaining and I found myself caught up in Rachel and Abbie’s lives and deceptions.

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The New Mother book description:
Who would you trust with your precious family?
Wanted: full-time, live-in help for expectant mother. Must be organised, friendly and willing to do anything.
Rachel is determined to be the perfect mother. She has a birth plan, with a playlist and a bag ready by the door. She’s chosen a lovely light cream paint for the nursery, and in wide-eyed, innocent Abbie she’s found the perfect person to help her with her baby.
After all, every mother needs a bit of help, don’t they?
But Rachel needs a little more than most.
She still makes sure her bedroom door is locked before she goes to sleep. She still checks the cameras that are dotted throughout the house.
Rachel trusts Abbie. Even if Abbie’s smiles don’t always reach her eyes, and the stories she tells about her past don’t always add up, it doesn’t matter.
Because Rachel knows better than to trust herself…
From the bestselling author of Her Husband’s Lover, this is a truly gripping story about how far people will go to find a family. Filled with tension and twists to keep you glued to every page, it is perfect for fans of Ruth Ware, Shari LaPena and The Girl on the Train.
author Julia Crouch
Author Bio:
Julia started off as a theatre director and playwright. While her children were growing up, she swerved into graphic design. After writing and illustrating two children’s books for an MA, she discovered that her great love was writing prose. The picture books were deemed too dark for publication, so, to save the children, she turned instead to writing for adults. Her first book, Cuckoo, was published in 2011, and she has been writing what she calls her Domestic Noir novels ever since. She also writes for TV and teaches on the Crime Writing MA at the University of East Anglia. She has three grown up children and lives in Brighton with her husband and two cats, Keith and Sandra.
Buy Links:
Amazon: https://bit.ly/3a8iyJ3
Apple: https://apple.co/3FlxrGk
Kobo: https://bit.ly/3laxlJn
Google: https://bit.ly/3r9quRU

First Girl To Die, by Helen Phifer

First Girl To Die book cover
Detective Morgan Brookes is called to assist prevent the suicide of her childhood friend but Brittany’s behaviour is erratic and Morgan is not able to save her. The other former friends begin to act strangely too, possibly as a result of poison, and Morgan realises their lives are all in danger. Does the current situation relate to the death of a teenaged boy 5 years earlier…?
First Girl To Die is the fourth book by Helen Phifer to feature Morgan Brookes. I have reviewed all of the earlier books in the series: One Left Alive, The Killer’s Girl and The Hiding Place.
Morgan’s has personal involvement of the case and knowledge of the victims which increases the tension and emotion. She is also dealing with fallout from the previous books which involves her family and there are spoilers about her family members in this book.
Morgan’s boss Ben, with whom there is a spark of attraction, causes her great anguish in this book as he suspects her aunt of accidentlally poisoning the women using herbal tea. Morgan jumps straight to Ettie’s defence and finds herself increaslingly isolated within the police team.
The action is fast paced and there are plenty of victims despite Morgan’s frantic attempts to save her former friends. The chapters are quite short to maintain the momentum. The book is written in the third person, mostly in the present day but interpersed with chapters from 2016 to show the connection with the past.
First Girl To Die had me completely hooked and I look forward to the next book in the series.
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Book: First Girl to Die
Author: Helen Phifer
Pub Day: Oct 11th 2021
Buy Links:
Amazon: https://geni.us/B0971BTGVGsocial
Apple: https://apple.co/3waIYTI
Kobo: https://bit.ly/3zhrgQv
Google: https://bit.ly/2TitVZB
About the Book:
Morgan shudders as she leans out of the window and takes in the familiar blonde curls and clear blue eyes of the fallen girl below. She knows this woman, and she realises with sickening certainty that her friend is now gone forever…
When Detective Morgan Brookes is called to the scene of a suicide, she’s devastated to recognise the young teacher sprawled out on the grass like a broken doll. She hasn’t seen Brittany for years. Not since the tragic death of Morgan’s high-school boyfriend ripped their friendship group apart. But when witnesses describe Brittany’s erratic behaviour and jumbled speech that morning, Morgan is convinced the fearless, life-loving girl she once knew didn’t jump of her own accord.
Traces of poison found in Brittany’s blood prove Morgan’s theory right, but no one can find the source. Then Morgan uncovers a distinctive jar in Brittany’s home filled with toxic herbs, and the sight of it turns her blood to ice. She has a jar just like it, a handmade gift from her aunt. Is this a coincidence, a set-up, or could the only person she’s ever trusted with her damaged past be capable of murder?
Then another woman from Morgan’s past is found, close to the scene of that fatal teenage party. Has Morgan been looking at this all wrong? Are these deaths connected to that deadly night? And how could someone from her own family possibly be involved?
With her aunt’s freedom and more innocent lives at stake, Morgan must dig deep into her painful memories for answers. Who else was there that night, and what exactly did they see? She must stop this twisted killer before any more of her old friends become new victims – but at what cost?
An absolutely heart-stopping and unputdownable crime thriller, perfect for fans of Angela Marsons, Lisa Regan and Rachel Abbott.

author Helen Phifer

Author Bio
Helen Phifer’s love of reading began with Enid Blyton, before progressing on to Laura Ingals Wilder and scaring herself with Steven King. If she can’t write for any particular reason she finds herself getting itchy fingers and really irritable. She loves reading as much as writing and is also very fond of chocolate, Prosecco, The Lake District, New York, white Zinfandel wine, her children and grandchildren, her friends, porn star martini cocktails, Stephen King, watching scary films, Marilyn Monroe, Melissa McCarthy, Idris Elba, Simon Baker, Spandau Ballet, The Munsters and coffee. In no particular order.
Social Media
Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/Helenphifer1/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/helenphifer1
Website: https://www.helenphifer.com/
Instagram:  https://www.instagram.com/helenphifer/