Book Review: The Murder Next Door (2021)

The Murder Next Door by Sarah Bell

sapphic. mystery. 1912.

I don’t read a lot of historical mysteries (Agatha Christie would not be impressed), but the description was just so intriguing and I’m on a costume drama roll~ television wise at the minute. (Cable Girls, yo! More historical lgbt+ awesomeness!)

Right, so The Murder Next Door follows Louisa and Ada throughout 1912 as they try to solve the mystery of, yanno, the murder next door!

Bell’s writing and attention to detail shines throughout – very impressive for a debut! What I loved most, though, was seeing historical moments through a new perspective.

Sexology texts. All the theories she’d gathered to try to understand her lack of sexual interest. A search that only intensified when she first met Ada and realised she was falling in love but still with none of the subsequent desire attached.

I love this quote. So. Much.

It’s things like this that remind you why rep is so important. It reminds me of this timeless quote, actually:

So Matilda’s strong young mind continued to grow, nurtured by the voices of all those authors who had sent their books out into the world like ships on the sea. These books gave Matilda a hopeful and comforting message: You are not alone. – Roald Dahl.

Bell’s on page representation is just amazing, seriously. \o/ You can really feel how much Bell cares about her characters and the nuanced and kind way she approaches them, not to mention how well she draws you into their world.

For those who like historical fiction and crime solving ladies, check this one out!

Show Review: Falsa identidad (2018) [pt. 2]

Oh my gosh, okay, fewer shows have destroyed my heart as much as Falsa identidad. Luis Ernesto Franco has quickly become one of my favourite actors, too – DUDE CAN ACT. Seriously, I have not loved a couple as much Diego and Isabel in a while.

If anyone wants a romantic crime thriller, for sure watch this show!! Has anyone else seen it? If not, you absolutely must. The show’s available on Netflix!

I’m starting Señora Acero now, which stars Luis Ernesto Franco and ¿Quién mató a Sara? star Carolina Miranda. I loved her in that, so seeing them together is awesome! I can’t wait to see how their scenes unfold. It’s so good so far! (I started in season three because the cast swapped out, but it’s not confusing starting here, if anyone’s curious!)

Character Art for These Violent Nights [Thorn/Kol + Lucien/Nik]

My new fantasy novel These Violent Nights now has some fantastic character art for the main couples, drawn by the wonderfully talented Libra Illustrations. (Go check out her website!) I’ve imagined these characters in my head for so long that seeing them drawn for the first time is just absolutely amazing!

Meet Thorn and Kol, and Nik and Lucien!

[Goodreads | Amazon]

Free on Kindle Unlimited!

Two of my books are currently available on Kindle Unlimited, so if you have an account, you can read them for free!

Dust & Lightning

In the near future, humans have gone beyond simple space travel. By the year 4054, multiple solar systems are inhabited, and taking a spaceship is as commonplace as taking an aeroplane.

Unfortunately, not everything about the future is so advanced. The central planets, led by Earth, have risen high at the expense of cheap labour on distant worlds. Dissent is widespread and arrests are common. Sometimes prisoners are released; sometimes they disappear without a trace, sent to labour camps in other solar systems.

When Ames Emerys receives a letter telling him that his brother Callum has died en route to the remote planet of Kilnin, he takes the first ship he can off Earth, desperate for answers. But the secrets Ames uncovers prove far more dangerous than he could have imagined.

Haze

When Eliza Owens gets a phone call in the middle of the night from a girl she’s never met, she doesn’t know what to think. The girl introduces herself as Paige, and says she used to date Erik Stern, Eliza’s fiancé. What’s more, she has something important to discuss.

The only problem? Paige has been dead for years.

Believing it to be a sick prank, Eliza tries to force it from her mind until Sam, Eliza’s older sister, tells her she met Paige only a few weeks before. And, according to Sam, Paige has nothing nice to say about Erik.

The fight which follows shatters the lives of everyone involved, and Erik disappears without a trace.

Five years later, Erik returns to town after his father’s death. Old wounds quickly resurface, and with them several burning questions. None the least of which is: Who spoke to Eliza and Sam if it wasn’t Paige? And why?

Shows For Hopeless Romantics (multilingual recs)

For those who, like me, adore a good romance plot line and want more of it, I’ve compiled a list of some of my favourite shows that are filled to bursting with wonderful romance, emotions and FEELS. A few have longer reviews attached, and I’ve added where I’ve found them, what language they’re in, and the country they’re set in.

Suspicious Partner is honestly so adorable. It follows a woman who keeps landing herself in trouble entirely unintentionally. It gets even worse when she’s wrongly accused of murder! Her paths cross (and cross again) with the prosecutor, and soon the pair join up to solve the mystery of the death she was accused of. (Longer review here.) [On Netflix | Korean | South Korea]

The Road to Love follows Cecilia, born and raised in a trucking family and desperate to make a name for herself in a crowd that doesn’t want her to. From episode one, her best friend Fabián, aka Peluche, declares his love for her and proves himself to be the best friend (and maybe more~) everyone wants. [On Netflix | Spanish | Colombia]

Sense8 is definitely a romantic show. Yes, it has a strong sci-fi/action plot line (the fight/chase scenes are AMAZING) but romantic and platonic love drive the show completely and the characters’ love lives take front and centre. [On Netflix | English, Spanish, Korean, German, Icelandic, Swahili, Hindi | USA, Mexico, SK, Germany, Iceland, UK, India, Kenya]

Summertime is such an underrated gem! Set in an Italian beach community, the story follows Summer, the daughter of a musical family who’s become rather jaded due to her father’s long absences to perform, and the romance that develops between her and Ale, a racer who doesn’t want to race anymore after a bad fall. [On Netflix | Italian | Italy]

Where Your Eyes Linger is a short web series that follows the romance that develops between a bodyguard and his friend, who he’s been tasked with protecting. (Longer review here.) [Online web series | Korean | South Korea]

Virgin River is set in a small, idyllic town where a young widowed doctor relocates to heal and start fresh. She bonds with the locals and finds love with a bar owner. There’s something very sweet and wholesome about this show. If you like Gilmore Girls, Ginny and Georgia, Hart of Dixie or Sweet Magnolias, this one is up your alley! [On Netflix | English | USA]

Romance is a Bonus Book is the perfect show for book lovers. The story follows a young woman with no money and no experience, trying desperately to get hired. She’s living in her best friend’s house without his knowledge so that he doesn’t find out she’s homeless. She soon scores a job at his company and romance blossoms as their lives collide. (Longer review here.) [On Netflix | Korean | South Korea]

One of my favourite costume dramas, Kurt Seyit ve Şura is truly in a league of its own. The story follows a young Russian noblewoman’s romance with a Turkish officer just as war breaks out. (Longer review here.) [On Netflix | Turkish, Russian, Arabic | Turkey]

Another small town romance (although much different from Virgin River), When the Camilla Blooms blends murder into its romance (like Suspicious Partner) and follows the romance and struggles of a young cop and the single mother he falls for while trying to solve a murder. (Longer review here.) [On Netflix | Korean | South Korea]

A Discovery of Witches follows a young researcher/professor arrives in Oxford to study in the old libraries only to accidentally find a book that every vampire, daemon and witch are also seeking. She instantly becomes a target for just about everyone – but not if fellow academic (and vampire) Matthew has anything to say about it. (Longer review here.) [On Sky, Amazon | English, French | UK, USA, France]

Crash Landing on You cannot be over-recommended. A woman from South Korea accidentally hang-glides into NK and lands near a solider. Along with his dearest friends, he keeps her alive and tries to plot a way to send her back to South Korea before they’re all found out. This is truly one of the most fantastic romances I’ve seen and it’s the show that introduced me to Korean dramas. (Longer review here.) [On Netflix | Korean | South Korea]

Bonfire of Destiny, like Kurt Seyit ve Şura, is based on true events. This one is based on a real fire that happened in a French bazaar in 1897. The show follows three women who are in the bazaar and what becomes of them and the men in their lives after the fire. (Longer review here.) [On Netflix | French | France]

If you like bodyguard romances like I do (second on the list, woooo), I probably don’t need to say more, but The K2 is truly a fantastic action/romance series. The chemistry between the two leads tugs at your heart in every scene, the soundtrack is fantastic, and the action scenes have some of the best fighting choreography. SO GOOD. [On Netflix | Korean | South Korea]

Okay, so this is a television film not quite a show, but I’m counting it. I adore Richard Madden and Holliday Grainger, so having them both in a show is true perfection. I haven’t yet read Lady Chatterley’s Lover, but I truly adored this adaptation. [On Netflix, BBC One | English | UK]

Cable Girls is everything you want in 1920s romance and intrigue. The storyline follows four woman in Spain working at a telephone company, who find themselves entangled in politics and thievery after a young woman calling herself Lidia shows up with a plan in mind. Little do her new friends know that Lidia has a lot of secrets, many of which include the company’s boss, Francisco. (Longer review here.) [On Netflix | Spanish | Spain]

Surely a classic already, Poldark is a great show and totally worth your time. I love Demelza so bloody much and even though Ross wrecks my head at times, they’re perfect and their love is beautiful. Ross also has pretty good politics for the era, so hats off to him! (Longer review here.) [On Netflix, BBC | English | UK]

And last but certainly not least, Timeless. Yes, it’s a show that’s centred on time-travel and conspiracy, but what fuels the show is the love the characters had for those they lost and the love that develops between various couples through its two seasons. There is also a huge emphasis on found family and the importance of friendships. The finale also made it clear that love was the driving factor of the show, and I freaking adored every second. Fear not, lads, it doesn’t end on a cliffhanger. (Longer review here.) [On Netflix | English | USA]

Show Review: Falsa identidad (2018)

I’m definitely on a Spanish-language show roll this week. [I also recommend Las chicas del cable and ¿Quién mató a Sara? And at some point I’ll write up a review for Vivir sin permiso.] I stumbled across this whopper of a romance-thriller show at random and fell in love after the first episode.

*SPOILER WARNING EPS 1-7*

The series follows Diego, the wayward brother of rising politician Eliseo. Diego is caught on film stealing petrol and Eliseo reluctantly issues a warrant for his arrest. At the same time, Diego is caught on film with the wife of his fiancée’s father, who also happens to be in charge a cartel. (He gets caught, like, a lot in the first ten minutes, goodness. Not a sneaky sneakerson) Gavino, the head of the cartel, makes it his personal vendetta to hunt Diego down. Now on the run for his life, Diego turns to Eliseo, who is still trying to clean up his mess with the petrol and warrant. Everything rapidly changes when Eliseo’s maid’s dear friend Isabel shows up at Eliseo’s house with her two children, fleeing from her abusive husband, Corona. Eliseo quickly devises a plan to get Diego, Isabel and Ricas, her son out the country, with the aim of her daughter joining them in the US once things settle down. (Eliseo can only get three passports.) Unfortunately, it doesn’t go swimmingly. At. All.

This is very much an on-the-run romance, with side plots developing amongst the characters chasing Diego and Isabel and it’s kept me on the edge of my seat every episode!

Something I noticed throughout the episodes is the running commentary on toxic masculinity and misogyny. Fair warning, this show has a lot of rough elements and dark themes. The main guy, Diego, is contrasted by the abusive Corona and his just-as-terrible father Mateo. (THEY ARE BOTH ABSOLUTELY TERRIBLE AND THE WORST AND UGH). But Diego is kind, sensitive. He encourages Ricas to face his fears and tells him that real men show emotion. He talks Ricas through everything step by step and supports Isabel at every turn. And you can see how his conversations with Ricas impact Isabel, who is still expecting the worst after being married to Corona for so long. This dynamic is contrasted by the situation Circe, Gavino’s only daughter, is facing. The misogyny of those around her has left Circe largely on her own, with only her close friend and advisor at her side. Then there’s Lourdes, who has been lied to and abused by Mateo. Her storyline breaks my heart and I hope it improves. I have a feeling that she’s going to cross paths with the other characters eventually, though.

I find Circe an interesting character. When Diego cheats on her and she’s ordered by her father to handle it, she can’t and instead turns on her father. (He, like Corona and Mateo, is also THE WORST.) She determines that she’s going to make her own decisions and quickly becomes a power player in the series. Her hawking is super cool, too. Lady’s got style. I want her to rise up and be rid of José for good. He’s her father’s right hand and so awful, ugh. (THE WORST, etc.)

The relationship between Diego and Eliseo is also great. I love close brother dynamics and theirs is wonderful. Very Prison Break, with Eliseo the calm headed, well connected one, and Diego the wild, kind-hearted one. Both are so well meaning and adore each other. The family dynamics that begin almost instantly with Diego, Isabel and Ricas are great, too.

I’m curious to see where the show goes, but there’s 169 episodes, so it’s going to take a while to find out! Has anyone else watched this show? I’d love to know your thoughts!

Show Review: Las chicas del cable (2017)

I started watching Las chicas del cable after finishing ¿Quién mató a Sara? (which you should all watch, FYI. Season two is a banger!) I wasn’t initially sure what the plot was going to be, but I wasn’t expecting it to draw me in so quickly and now I’m four episodes in and loving it!

*MILD-ISH SPOILERZ FOR EPISODES 1-4*

The plot follows four women in 1920s Spain at a telecommunications company. So basically early telephones, where you tell the operator who you want to speak to. The girls are tasked with being the operators, essentially. When Lidia, aka Alba, arrives at the company with the aim to rob the place in order to settle her debts, she doesn’t intend to find her childhood best friend and beau, Francisco, now a married wealthy man and her new boss. Francisco immediately figures out who Lidia is and determines to help her. THEIR CHEMISTRY IS ON FIRE, YO.

At the same time, Lidia’s new friends Marga, Carlota and Ángeles are all struggling with their own personal problems. Marga is young and timid, and cannot for the life of her pluck up the confidence to face Pablo, a colleague she has a crush on. Carlota is trying to flee her overbearing father who hates the fact that she works and keeps trying to get her fired. And Ángeles is in a terrible marriage with a cheating jerk who is trying to get her to leave her job because he doesn’t want to cease his affair. SO MUCH UGH AT HER HUSBAND.

The women quickly bond, pursing their new found freedoms, helping each other with their troubles, and in some cases exploring their sexualities.

It’s a really well written show, the costumes are fantastic. The music seems quite modern, what with the show taking place in 1928, but it’s not bad music (some good bops, to be honest), it just sometimes feels a little anachronistic in some places. Although I could be totally wrong. I’m excited to see how the political angle of the show develops as well, as there’s hints throughout the first episodes that that’s where it’s going.

My favourite characters so far are Lidia, Francisco, Pablo, Carlota and Marga, but honestly all the characters are well written and portrayed. I feel so bad for Ángeles and I hope she gets some happiness soon. Poor thing. The chemistry between Lidia and Francisco is amazing and they’re my favourite couple so far along with Pablo and Carlota. Not totally sure about Carlos as a character yet, although he’s nice enough.

I thoroughly recommend this show for anyone who enjoys costume dramas and romance-driven narratives (as you can tell, this is my absolute jam).

Book Review: Caught Inside (2016)

Caught Inside by Jamie Deacon

❧ audiobook review

Another Joe Jameson narration and an absolute find. [Other great Jameson narrations I’ve reviewed are: An Honest ManThe Prince of ThornsThe Last Romeo and The Magnificent Sons.]

THIS BOOK IS SUCH CUTE ROMANCE, UGH. ❤❤❤ Luke and Theo are fantastic together and so adorable. They have such good chemistry, it’s insane.

This is a perfect summer romance read! Beaches and new love. And the constant surfing descriptions just made me think of Shelter.

Totally a compliment, FYI. I adored this book so much. Jamie Deacon’s writing is so evocative and lush and lovely.

*SPOILERS BELOW*

This book totally stole my heart. That said, despite how shippable Luke and Theo are, I do feel bad for Zara. She really deserved much better than everyone keeping secrets from her. Giles was such a prick at pretty much every point, although he was a good friend to Theo.

Really hard not to picture Rupert Giles:

But this Giles was decidedly less Watcherly. I got so annoyed at him throughout the book. He’s a good character, though, so there’s that.

One of the things I loved, but found myself shaking my head and laughing at, was how Luke is so DRAMATIC. He ought to get an award for epic overreactions, yet he’s written so well and so sympathetic, that even when he is a DISASTER, you end up rooting for him. I really adored Theo, too, although a lot of his decisions left me so frustrated.

Meredith is definitely a queen ❤

[Audiobook Rec] Caught Inside (2016)

I came across a great audiobook yesterday for anyone who is looking for recommendations. It’s by one of my favourite narrators, Joe Jameson, and is a contemporary lgbt+ romance.

Caught Inside by Jamie Deacon

Luke believes he has his life figured out…and then he meets Theo.

It should have been simple—a summer spent with his girlfriend Zara at her family’s holiday cottage in Cornwall. Seventeen-year-old Luke Savage jumps at the chance, envisioning endless hours of sunbathing on the private beach and riding the waves on his beloved surfboard. He isn’t interested in love. Though his rugged good looks and lazy charm mean he can have his pick of girls, he has no intention of falling for anyone.

Nothing prepares Luke for his reaction to Theo, the sensitive Oxford undergraduate who is Zara’s cousin and closest friend. All at once, he is plunged along a path of desire and discovery that has him questioning everything he thought he knew about himself. No one, especially Zara, must find out; what he and Theo have is too new, too fragile. But as the deceit spirals beyond their control, people are bound to get hurt, Luke most of all.