Book review: The Framley Examiner by Robin Halstead

The Framley ExaminerThe Framley Examiner by Robin Halstead

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A friend lent this book to me many years ago and I loved it so much that I bought a copy. It is completely bonkers and fun. There is absolutely NOTHING serious about it.
I like to dip into it every so often when I need cheering up. I love the small ads pages. The ad for ‘Can’t you Breathe Little Bear’ had me in stitches. I love the town names too, especially Effing Sodbury.
This is very British and very, very silly. Sometimes you need that.

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Amazon buy link for The Framley Examiner

Book review: Christmas at the Little Village School by Jane Lovering

Christmas at the Little Village School (Choc Lit)Christmas at the Little Village School by Jane Lovering

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This arrived on my Kindle yesterday and I read it as fast as I could. Jane Lovering’s books are an auto buy for me.
Lydia teaches at a school in a tiny village, alongside her fellow teacher Jake. She’s prickly and sharp edged, especially when it comes to Jake. Jake is big and kind without being a pushover. They’ve been tasked with organising the school play at short notice. Given the kids, Christmas, plaster of Paris decorations, an old people’s home and a mysterious man called Gareth, things take a turn for the interesting.
There’s a twist. You find out why Lydia is so prickly part way through the book. It’s kinda hard to tell you about it without giving things away, so I won’t. You’ll just have to read it and find out.

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Amazon US buy link for Christmas at the Little Village School
Amazon UK buy link for Christmas at the Little Village School (Choc Lit)

Book Review: Back To Reality by Mark Stay and Mark Oliver

Back to Reality: The feel-good novel of the year!Back to Reality: The feel-good novel of the year! by Mark Stay

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I’ve listened to the Marks’ podcast (The Bestseller Experiment) for a year and I was keen to read the book to see if it was any good. And it was!
It’s a fast and funny time slip type story. 42 year old Jo (with her unhappy life) suddenly finds that she’s swapped bodies with 24 year old Yohanna who is really Jo from an alternate reality. They have to get back into each other’s bodies before their time runs out and one of them dies.

Having listened to the podcast I felt weirdly affectionate towards this book even before I started it, like I’d watched this story grow up, and there are certain bits (like the character names) that popped out as Easter eggs. This added an extra dimension to the story for me.

This is a nice, feel good story with the right balance between fantasy and realism. Also, there is, as promised, a funny bit with a cow.

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Buy link for Back to Reality on Amazon

Book review: Pincers of Death by Toby Frost

Pincers of Death (Space Captain Smith Book 6)Pincers of Death by Toby Frost

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This latest installment of the adventures of Space Captain Smith and the crew of the John Pym is a return to form with battles and jokes and a cracking good yarn. It had me laughing out loud in places.
Best enjoyed with a nice fortifying cup of tea. Jolly good show.

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Buy link for Pincers of Death 

It’s Christmas novella time!


It’s nearly December, so it must be time to break out a Christmas novella or two.

I have two Christmas novellas out this year. Girl At Christmas, which is set in the same world as the other ‘Smart Girls’ series books, and Snowed In, which is set in a fictional town in West Yorkshire. Here they are:


As you can see Milly Johnson and Jane Lovering have nice things to say about them, so you might like them too!

Both novellas have slightly geeky characters and at least one South Asian main character.

You can buy them separately or together in this handy ‘box set’. (Technically,  it’s an omnibus edition because it’s not actually in a box … but there aren’t any wheels, so I’m going with box set as a description). You save a quid on the box set compared to getting them separately. Aha, you say. But they’ll be dropping down to 99p soon… except they won’t, because the book promotion sites tend not to take novellas, so it’s not worth the hassle.

AChristmasDuet Box.jpg

Buy Snowed In

Buy Girl At Christmas

Buy the super duper box set

Happy holiday reading!


It’s Christmas novella time! Girl At Christmas is out soon.

It’s that time of year when everyone starts thinking about Christmas. I’ve got not one, but TWO Christmas novellas coming out in the next month. The first one is out next week.

Girl at christmas cover w quote.jpg


Tammy is normally at her happiest at Christmas when she has the flat to decorate and those perfect days between Christmas and New Year to relax. But when her long term partner dumps her with no real explanation, her Christmas starts to look very bleak.

Lawrence usually spends Christmas watching DVDs and catching up on his paperwork. At thirty one, he’s already stuck in a rut.

When Lawrence has a sudden heart attack, it is Tammy who comes to his rescue. It turns out a happy Christmas can be made from the most unexpected ingredients.


You can preorder it  now – or just order it in the normal way next week.

Amazon US

Amazon UK 

Everywhere else:

Goodreads Book Review: A Man with One of Those Faces by Caimh McDonnell

A Man With One of Those FacesA Man With One of Those Faces by Caimh McDonnell

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I chose this book based on the title and the cover, both of which are great. The blurb is about how Paul has one of those nondescript faces which means that people tend to mistake him for someone else quite a lot. It starts off with him offering a service where he visits elderly patients in hospitals and hospices and pretends to be a nephew or a grandson – the patient is happy because they’ve had someone visit and Paul gets to do the charity work that is the prerequisite for him getting his allowance.

This is a crime novel with a twist of comedy running through it. I thought that was quite a refreshing thing to see. The humour is quite dark. The crime side is good too. There’s a decent mystery and a good twist at the end.

Paul’s nondescript-ness doesn’t really play much part in the story after chapter one. Paul is meant to be really intelligent, but you only know that because people tell you so. He doesn’t seem any cleverer than your average chap. Nurse Brigit is much more on the ball. I liked her a lot.
I liked Bunny too. He was interesting and realistic. I probably wouldn’t want to meet him in real life.

There were a lot of secondary character gangsters and crooked cops, whom I tended to lose track of after a while (I read fast and am easily confused, so this might just be me).

All in all, a good fun read, especially if you like combination of crime and dark humour.

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A few of my favourite things

Here, for no good reason, is list of things that I love:

Reading – My mum taught me to read. By the time I got to school, I was reading Teddy Robinson and Amelia Jane books to myself. This meant that the library books at school were way to baby-ish. I asked the school librarian if I could go to the middle school library section. She let me, with supervision, choose the big books. Hooray for open minded librarians!

Lego – My brother and I had Lego when we were kids and we shared the sets (there was no pink Lego on those days). I was the one who read the 2016-04-11-17-01-43instructions and built the sets. He was the one who went free style and built houses with escape hatches and booby traps. My kids aren’t particularly interested in Lego (although one of them loves Minecraft), so I can’t pretend I’m buying Lego for them… I make Lego book trailers for my novels.


Confectionery – I like to bake. I love to EAT cake. I was once called a cake Fiend. Such was my reputation that the lady from the canteen used to stop by on Friday and pass me a cake that was going to go off over the weekend… I don’t eat as much cake as I used to because I was in serious danger of being wider than I am tall. I’m only 4 ft 8, so there isn’t much room to play with.

Chocolate – technically, this should go under confectionery… but I feel it deserves a special mention.

Peter Parker – note, the preference for Peter over Spidey. Everyone wants to have secret superpowers and I’m no exception. Also, Peter designed his own web solution and the cartridges that fire the stuff  with the trigger nested in his palm. A chemist and an engineer. Be still my beating heart. 

Firefly – I love Firefly. Buffy passed me by somehow, so my introduction to Joss Whedon’s work was actually Doctor Horrible (loved it!). Then I saw Firefly. I’ve seen the whole series several times and I’m more than a little bit in love with Alan Tudyk (how can you not love a man who combines talent and silliness!). Shiny.

British Comedy –  Blackadder, The IT Crowd, Black Books, Green Wing, Spaced, A Bit of Fry and Laurie, to name a few… I’m ambivalent towards Monty Python apart from Life Of Brian. I love Life of Brian because it contains my favourite joke.

Star Trek the Original series – because it Blew My Mind.

Dr Who –  Strictly New Who only. I started watching it with the 10th Doctor. I went back and caught up with the Eccleston years, but David Tennant is The Doctor to me. Always. I didn’t watch Dr Who when I was a child. It was on too late, probably, or was too scary. Come to think of it, I’m not sure it even made it to Sri Lanka. Did it? Anyone?

The Big Bang Theory – because I love nerd jokes and I knew people like that at university. Clever is the new sexy. 

Clearing fluff from the filters on the tumble dryer – because it’s so satisfying.

Beta male heroes – because they are so much more fun than alphas. I like a man who can take a joke. If they wear glasses, so much the better. I reckon all men look more attractive with glasses on. See also, Big Bang Theory and Peter Parker.

So, what do you love? Tell me in the comments.


Review: Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency on Netflix

Over the Christmas holidays I watched Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency on Netflix. It will come as no surprise to you that I loved the books. This is not so much an adaptation as an expansion of the Gently-verse. I LOVED it. I wrote a review for the fabulous Smart Bitches Trashy Books blog (whose comments section is the closest thing I’ve found to ‘my tribe’). You can read the review here:

In the meantime, here’s one of the trailers: