‘SHIP AHOY!’ There’s an entertaining mystery in my handbag

The Bookshop Detective 

Jan Ellis

 

It was a great treat for me to take another holiday in idyllic seaside town where:

‘To the east, the land fell away towards Combemouth; to the west a chain of scalloped shaped bays edged the land’.

The setting is vivid and the charming bookshop is inviting.  I settled back into my usual seat in The Reading Room and listened to the latest gossip.

Eleanor, the bookshop owner, is a kind, engaging character – she is someone that one could trust.  Her positive outlook led her to set up a new life in Combemouth six years ago.  Her philosophy of love is that ‘love is twenty percent attraction, thirty percent luck and fifty percent timing.’  She appreciates her good fortune to meet Dan and the fact that his love supports and guides her – proof that a second marriage can work. The previous book told Eleanor and Dan’s love story but this book tells a different kind of story.  In this novel, Eleanor is a glamorous, young ‘Mrs’ Marple:  forget the brogues, forget the tweed and dig out a vintage party frock.

The suspense story captured my imagination so much that I wanted to be there.  I could imagine a stage production of this mystery as it has all the right ingredients: the manor, the briefcase, the ring, the vicar…   Enter Eleanor, the Bookshop Detective, exit Dreary Deirdre.  Cue Daniel, waiting in the wings to support but something is troubling him. Is his ex-wife on the horizon?

Blow away the dust on Joshua’s books to reveal a ship. Can you see the ghost ship sailing in the distance and will this bring a bad omen?  Dim the lights as the ghost ship gets closer.  The characters present a tableau of the Victorian scenes.  But what happened to the poor boy who was flogged?  Can Eleanor’s investigation save the boy?  Why does someone think that Eleanor is ‘going to kill him?’

In a stage production, the actors would have to play many roles.  For instance, Erika and Deirdre could be the same actor, or could it be Erika and Daniel?  Could someone play the rock star and the vicar?  Surely Connie and Joyce could be the same actor.  Are there any clues here? You will have to read the book to find out.

I am getting carried away with this ‘detective lark’!  Jan Ellis is so clever at writing the dialogue that I became completely absorbed and wanted to be amid the drama.  Jan Ellis has skilfully woven the clues into the narrative.  I envied Eleanor’s knowledge and read the book greedily in one sitting.  I visited the bookshop, the fair and the parties so it was only right that I should be able to get involved in the investigation.

This book has been cleverly constructed so that it could be enjoyed without knowledge of Summer of Surprises and An Unexpected Affair.  However, I would recommend this delightful duo as a holiday read!  Begin at the beginning with An Unexpected Affair and let the drama unfold as you take a comfortable seat in the Reading Room. Jan Ellis is skilled at creating fun, engaging characters and drawing you into their world.

Jan Ellis

This novel presents a perfect escape: a cleverly constructed narrative.  What a brilliant idea to delve into the detective genre with the characters created in the romance genre -love it!

 

 

 

Click to buy on Amazon

 

Please read all my reviews on My Reading and my blog at jessiecahalin.com

Originally posted 2017-06-21 07:00:13.

Love blogging, reviewing and moving authors to tears

Please see my blog at jessiecahalin.com to read my reviews and subscribe to receive the weekly updates.

Thank you to everyone who regularly visits my website and a massive thank you to my wonderful subscribers.  I have been overwhelmed with the praise for my website and book reviews.  Angela Petch captured my motivation perfectly when she wrote that ‘your blog shows me that you are a true book lover.’

I am dedicated to reviewing authors’ books as it is simple act of kindness that lets them know that they are valued.  For instance, Sue Moorcroft responded to a review with ‘There are few things that give me greater pleasure than people enjoying my book.’ Carol Drinkwater wrote that my review was a ‘wonderful surprise’. Authors are the wordsmiths, the dream weavers and storytellers and it is an honour to read their work.  It has made me so happy to discover that Angela Petch was ‘moved to tears’ by my review, and Jan Ellis said that my review made her ‘well up’.  It was a delight to receive Diane Need’s comment that she was ‘so thrilled with the review of her debut novel’.

In addition, to writing the weekly review, I have also enjoyed interacting with the authors about their characters.  Angela Petch has updated me on Giuseppe, Marisa, Francesco, Anna, Ines, Danilo and the little horses of San Francesco from Now and Then in Tuscany. Diane Need has sent messages from Beth in Press Three for Goodbye. Jan Ellis has kept me posted with regard Eleanor’s social life in A Summer of Surprises. I have exchanged postcards with Leah in Just for the Holidays and as Sue Moorcroft said, ‘it was so much fun’. I will catch up with Leah again soon when I read the book.

This week I am reviewing Practicing Normal by Cara Sue Achterberg and feel honoured to have read this before the official release.  I know that I will not be able to resist reading Sue Moorcroft’s Just for the Holidays and The Bookshop Detective by Jan Ellis.  Angela’s Tuscan Roots is also speaking Italian to me.  The Vineyard in Alsace by Julie Stock is tempting me with dreams of wine. I wonder if any other authors will be moved to tears of joy by the reviews?

 



Please visit jessiecahalin.com to read my reviews and subscribe to receive the weekly updates.

Originally posted 2017-05-11 08:00:54.

A beautiful book of memories in my handbag

Please see my blog at jessiecahalin.com

 

A Summer of Surprises and an Unexpected Affair

Jan Ellis

I will buy a beautiful book of memories from Eleanor’s ‘crumbly bookshop’ and place it in my handbag because I am also ‘addicted to books’.

 

 

Click to buy on Amazon

Imagine a delicious dream of a bookshop, tucked away in a British seaside town, bursting with friends, family and loved ones. Order some tea and warm scones as you listen to Eleanor chat about life, former lovers and romance.

Alternatively, join Eleanor and her sister as they raise a glass ‘to the people we love and the people we don’t know we love because we haven’t met them yet.’

If you haven’t guessed, this is a very satisfying, cosy book about love.
However, it examines the way in which love develops at a more mature age.  It makes you reflect on how we are shaped by previous relationships.  As I meandered through Eleanor’s life, I was constantly wondering if she would be tempted.  Jan Ellis captures the raw infectious fever of the first love and explores this from the mature character’s perspective; this was refreshing and insightful.  I listened to the inner voices of the characters and considered their questions, doubts and secrets.  Above all, I adored the message that love shapes, moulds and makes the person, but you must open your heart at any time of life.  Love has the power to transform us, and Ellis writes:

‘She had gone into the water as a rather staid middle-aged woman and came out feeling invigorated and daring.’

The book explores the landscape of emotions and memories that imprint on our experience.  I enjoyed the anticipation, the excitement, the guilt and the realisation of the characters. The book is also fun and the characters are great company.  Who doesn’t want a best friend like Erika who can keep you grounded, or a sister like Jenna to help you to consider the options?  Perhaps you too could also tolerate a mother who loves life and wants to prompt you to do the same.

I enjoyed this book as it breezed through the events. The author’s style is controlled, succinct and teases the reader into the sequence of events.  The characters feel like friends, and the natural dialogue places the reader in the heart of the events.  I love the way that Jan Ellis threads nuggets of wisdom and observations into a light-hearted, entertaining read.

If you stay at home then put the kettle on and grab some cake, or get your passport and find a suitable bistro with tempting treats.

 

Please read this and all my other reviews on My Reading.

Originally posted 2017-05-06 07:00:34.

The trouble with my handbag adventures

Connecting with the virtual world of WordPress, Twitter and Facebook has encouraged me to find a message in the ordinary world around us.  I am always looking for photograph opportunities to support a tweet, Facebook post or blog. My mind is constantly buzzing with ideas and it’s great. These adventures can result in some fulfilling interactions in the real world, but my photographing adventures can also get me in into trouble.

On the whole people are very accommodating and let me take photographs of their shops, museums, pubs, gardens, houses etc.  For instance, the porters on The Grand Hotel, in Brighton, were happy to let me capture the glamorous setting with my camera. I needed the photographs for Ally Bunbury’s book review and interview.  The helpful porters even cleared some luggage to enhance the shot.  Later that day, a kind gentleman pointed out various signs for me to capture in his grocer’s shop, but I did get a little suspicious when one of the signs read: ‘New husband for sale’.

During my adventures, I have learned to smile at the museum curators and carry on.  Unfortunately, I was chastised for photographing Churchill’s writing desk. Though, I was delighted to be informed that Churchills would ‘fight me on the beaches’ if I dared to take photos.  Another curator pretended not to see me taking a view of the garden from the window.  One antique shop owner looked at me suspiciously when I declared, ‘I need pictures of old spades etc to display as murder weapons.’  I intended to use these in a murder story lark developed, on Facebook, with Angela Petch and Patricia Stoner.  On this occasion, I didn’t use the photos but they will be useful at some stage.

Walking through the Beacons, I decided to write a blog about the inspiring environment.  I spied an opportunity to throw a stone in the water to represent a big splash.  The splash would represent a thought or an idea.  Unfortunately, I was chased away from the lake by the people who were fishing for trout.   I did ask if they would like me to ‘sling my hook’ but they weren’t amused.

Sue Moorcroft’s ‘Just for the Holidays’ got me into the most trouble.  I required some images of holiday items as mine weren’t glamorous enough for a friend of Leah.  While shopping in a supermarket, I saw lots of holiday goodies. Bingo! I set to work removing the various items, placing them in better light and clicking my camera phone.  The Canadian security guard was not impressed with me and said, ‘Ma’am, would you please follow me?’  I followed him.  Disappointingly, I was led to his security post and not his horse.  He was very polite and soon accepted my explanation.

The most frightening experience occurred when I was taking a photo of a street sign for Muddles Green.  That day, I was in a muddle with editing so the sign was perfect.  I stood in the middle of the quiet country lane to snap the image.  A motorbike almost ploughed into me as it raced around the corner. It was worth it when lots of authors connected with the message.

Not everyone can connect with my adventures.  I asked shop owner if I could place Jan Ellis’s The Bookshop Detective’ in his window display and then take a photograph.  Sadly, he wouldn’t allow it as he was concerned that there would be breakages.  How did he know that I am clumsy?  Maybe, he thought that I was the detective and wanted to get inside of the window display.

It is great fun to think about representing my adventures through social media. It is a bonus that my everyday experiences and thoughts mean something to like-minded people out there in the world.  My handbag adventures have enabled me to connect with a wealth of creative people who challenge and inspire me.  These connections wouldn’t have happened without social media, and now I am exploring how I can further develop some creative collaborations.  I am looking forward to working with Jenni Lopez from @TheJennieration.  

 

More of my adventures can be found at Handbag Adventures and see my blog at jessiecahalin.com