Book Review: A Spoonful of Murder

If you’ve been here for a while, you’ll know I’m a huge fan of Robin Stevens and her Murder Most Unladylike series. It takes me right back to my childhood and the boarding school books I used to read (I say used to, but I still have a complete set of Chalet School books which get read regularly!), while making sure the kids of today love them just as much. A Spoonful of Murder is the most recent volume, and I made sure I had it pre-ordered so it arrived on release day!

a spoonful of murder

When Hazel Wong’s beloved grandfather passes away, Daisy Wells is all too happy to accompany her friend (and Detective Society Vice President) to Hazel’s family estate in beautiful, bustling Hong Kong. But when they arrive they discover something they didn’t expect: there’s a new member of the Wong family. Daisy and Hazel think baby Teddy is enough to deal with, but as always the girls are never far from a mystery. Tragedy strikes very close to home, and this time Hazel isn’t just the detective. She’s been framed for murder! The girls must work together like never before, confronting dangerous gangs, mysterious suspects and sinister private detectives to solve the murder and clear Hazel’s name – before it’s too late . . .

Obviously, I loved A Spoonful of Murder. Possibly not as much as I loved Mistletoe and Murder, the previous novel in the series, but it’s still a brilliant book. My favourite thing was the way that being in Hong Kong meant Hazel was in charge and Daisy didn’t always know what was going on. It was a fantastic reversal of the usual dynamic, and it was great fun to see Daisy think about her attitude towards Hazel. I mentioned in my review of Mistletoe and Murder last year that Robin Stevens does an amazing job portraying the racism that Hazel faces on an everyday basis, even from her best friend, and this book is no exception, although it takes a slightly different angle.

The plot (which I’m not going to spoil for you here) races along as usual, as Daisy and Hazel struggle to solve the murder of a maid and the kidnapping of Hazel’s new baby brother. I always like it when the mystery strikes close to home for these two, because the importance of family to both of them is something that shines through all the books. No-one is more important to Hazel than her father, and it’s really interesting to see more of that after the events of First Class Murder.

It’s also very interesting to learn more about Hazel’s life away from Deepdean, and about Hong Kong in general. Because this is as new to Daisy as it is to us, she acts as our eyes, and I loved her astonishment at realising just how rich Hazel’s family is. As I said above, it’s good to see Daisy thinking about how she acts with Hazel – the events of this book make her realise she doesn’t really know that much about Hazel’s life at home. I thought there was also a good exploration of how her father suddenly having a son might change Hazel’s life dramatically.

Robin Stevens always manages to pack so much into her books that they really are a masterclass in writing, and A Spoonful of Murder is no exception. While I would highly recommend it if you’re up to date with the books (and if you are, I doubt you need my recommendation – you’ve probably already read it!), I definitely wouldn’t jump into the series here, because you’re not going to get the same depth out of it. Go back to the beginning (Murder Most Unladylike) and savour the entire series as it was intended, and you’ll be as hooked as I am on Robin’s books!



Book Review: Sunflowers in February

So a few weeks (months? I can’t remember!) Hot Key Books put out a blogger call for their mailing list, and having signed up like a shot, a blogger call out email duly arrived, for Sunflowers in February, the debut book by Phyllida Shrimpton. Obviously I was not going to pass up this opportunity, especially because the book sounds fascinating – Lily wakes up at the side of the road, only to realise she’s dead. It maybe didn’t quite live up to its potential for me, for reasons I shall go into shortly, but it was still a highly enjoyable book.

sunflowers in february

Lily wakes up one crisp Sunday morning on the side of the road. She has no idea how she got there. It is all very peaceful. and very beautiful. It is only when the police car, and then the ambulance arrive, and she sees her own body, that she realises that she is in fact… dead. But what is she supposed do now? Lily has no option but to follow her body and see her family – her parents and her twin brother start falling apart. And then her twin brother Ben gives her a once in a deathtime opportunity – to use his own body for a while. But will Lily give Ben his body back? She is beginning to have a rather good time…

A moving, startlingly funny yet achingly sad debut novel from a stunning new talent.

First things first, you can’t really tell in that picture, but the cover is gorgeous. The blue petals are foiled and it’s a lovely, shiny and bright cover. I love the effort publishers are putting in to their covers recently.

As to what I thought of the content, well, like I said above, I did enjoy it. The relationships, particularly between Lily and Ben, really came through, and I liked the little snippets we got from other people’s points of view. I also liked how we saw that grief affects different people in different ways, particularly in the way Lily’s parents each reacted to her death. I did think we found out a bit too soon who was responsible for Lily’s death, and I’m not sure we ever got real closure on that aspect, but that was never the main point of the book (in my opinion anyway).

My biggest problem was that sometimes the writing was a bit childish and simple. It felt like it hadn’t quite worked out which demographic it was aiming at, and I think older teenagers would be disappointed in the writing style if they picked it up. Also, Lily could be incredibly annoying, even taking into account the trauma she’s just been through. I mean, she knows Ben has to come back eventually, but she continues to make him look ridiculous, instead of just staying out of the way. Of course, the book couldn’t exist if she just stayed out of the way, but she could have been a little more aware of the effect she was having on his life! My last negative is that the epilogue just didn’t work for me. I do think there needed to be something there, I’m just not sure that epilogue was it, but I don’t want to say more because of spoilers.

All in all, Sunflowers in February is a good book, but not a great one. It has some great ideas and a very realistic depiction of a sibling relationship, but it loses its way a little bit in the middle, which is a real shame. It is a debut though, and I’m definitely happy to give Phyllida Shrimpton’s next book a go!


ARC received from the publisher, Hot Key Books, in exchange for an honest review.


Wildest Dreams February Unboxing

It’s been a little while again, hasn’t it? Apologies for disappearing – I had an absolute stinker of a cold that left me good for nothing for a week. The good side of this is that I managed to read seven books in one weekend. Hopefully at some point I’ll actually review them!

Anyway, today’s post is a slightly belated unboxing of a new subscription book box. Run by the very lovely Zoe of the No Safer Place blog and YouTube channel, Wildest Dreams promises to provide a book, tea and bath or body product every month, for an incredibly reasonable £18. Isn’t that a fabulous price? Wildest Dreams is definitely the best value subscription box I’ve come across!

So February’s theme was Truth and Lies, and I was pretty sure I knew what the book was going to be. However, the main reason I chose to purchase this box was because I knew there was going to be a candle from Taken Moons in it.

Just look how amazing that candle is, and it smells gorgeous. It’s black cherry flavour, and called Lies Require Commitment, inspired by Divergent. I love it!


The tea is from Rosie Lea Tea, and is lemon and ginger. Called Veritaserum, it’s obviously inspired by Harry Potter. One of the things I love about this box is the way Zoe includes some teabags to make sure you can actually use the tea. I forgot to take a photo of them, but they’re so cute!

The book comes beautifully wrapped, with the Wildest Dreams sticker on it, and this month’s book came with a signed book plate and a letter from the author. It was, of course, The Truth and Lies of Ella Black by Emily Barr.


So there you have February’s Wildest Dreams box. It’s a really well curated, good value box and I’m sure it’s not the last one I’ll be buying.

(I realise there are no links in this post, but I’m writing on my phone and it’s not letting me include any. I will add them tomorrow when I can get on my laptop, so come back then and I’ll tell you where you can order future boxes!) Links now included!

Wildest Dreams

Taken Moons

Rosie Lea Tea

Six for Sunday: Favourite Tropes

Sunday again! Where do the weeks go?! Anyway, time for this week’s Six for Sunday, which is a meme created by Steph over at A Little But A Lot. This week’s theme is favourite tropes, so here goes!

  1. The chosen one
  2. Insta-love (I’m sorry, I know it’s terrible and unrealistic but can’t help it!)
  3. Friends to something more
  4. Angst
  5. Found families
  6. Meet-cutes

God, they’re all terrible. I am a cliche of a person, but I really do love all of them – with the caveat that they have to be done well.

What would be on your list of favourite tropes? Let me know in the comments!