Book Review: You Can Lead a Horse to Murder

NEW RELEASE….You Can Lead a Horse to Murder

There’s a killer in Sanctuary, and the prime suspect is a horse.

When spirited Ember Burns is led back home to open her own veterinary practice, her first client lands her in the middle of a mystery. It starts as a desire for Ember to clear her name, and turns into a personal entanglement in a rapidly unfolding story of lies and deceit.

The small mountain town of Sanctuary has always had its secrets. Who can be trusted? It’s been ten years since Ember lived there but roots run deep. Discerning friend from foe isn’t an easy task. Relying on her intelligence and instinct, Ember tries to piece the clues together as the town gears up for its centennial celebration.

From the quaint historic shops, to the rugged mountains surrounding them, Ember works to unveil the true culprit before time runs out.


Available to buy from…… Paperback


Book Review

Ember Burns has returned to her home town following the death of her mother. She’s taken over the only veterinarian centre in the town, and business is booming before she’s even officially opened.

Her first case is that of a distressed horse, but everyone else quickly becomes distressed when they find the body of the farrier in the horse’s stable. At first, the horse is blamed for killing Tom. However, Ember thinks that the test results and Tom’s autopsy don’t quite add up. As she digs deeper, she begins to uncover some secrets that were long buried that puts her own life in danger.

You Can Lead a Horse to Murder was not what I expected based on the title and the cover (I know you shouldn’t judge but….). It was much more of a crime thriller than I expected. You couldn’t trust any characters as lots of them looked suspicious, and had their motives for killing Tom. The horse angle was an interesting one. There is so much money in horse racing, and breeding ex-racehorses. As people begin to get greedy, they all want in on the action, causing crimes to be committed and, in this case, murder.

Ember is a very likeable character, as is her puppy labradoodle, Daenerys. A lot of thought was put into the characters and location as a whole, as Tara Meyers includes the new logo for Ember’s vet business in the book, a small detail that makes the vet centre feel like a real business (you can see the Sanctuary Animal Clinic logo below).

You Can Lead a Horse to Murder was a surprising read, that kept me guessing about ‘whodunnit’ the whole way through. Was it really a horse accident, or is there something deeper lying below? You’ll have to read it to find out!


Read an excerpt

About the author
You Can Lead a Horse to Murder author picture

At nineteen, I was recruited into a secret government program, where my memory was erased .. wait — that’s the outline for a potential book. Sorry, my real biography isn’t quite as interesting, but I’ll give it a shot!

I live in the Pacific Northwest, and when I’m not writing, I’m out beach combing with my dogs for sea glass, or hiking in the rugged Cascade Mountains. It’s the perfect backdrop to fuel my creative genius. *rubs hands together evilly*

You’ll find all my adult romantic suspense and cozy mysteries on Amazon under Meyers, and on my OTHER profile (secret identity ;)) Tara Ellis, I keep my middle grade and young adult books. Check them out, You might like those, too!

Find the author on the following sites….Facebook Twitter Goodreads Amazon Author Page

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Book Review: The Secret History by Donna Tartt

So before you think it, I know, I’m about twenty years late on The Secret History.

My dad came over the other day (who isn’t a big reader) and goes, Oh that’s a good book. If he’s read it, then I’m definitely behind.

The first Donna Tartt novel I read was a few months ago. It was The Little Friend, a book that I’d picked out because of the creepy looking doll on the cover, and the small font—I only read books with small font which is a big hindrance when choosing a book to read.

The Little Friend drew me in because of the cover and the blurb. But I’ve never been so disappointed when reading a book. It took me months, but I was so determined to finish it because I’d already invested so many hours of reading just to make it halfway. I stuck it out, but it went straight in the charity bag (and I rarely throw books out).

I’d heard many good things about The Secret History, so decided to give Tartt another chance. And I am so glad I did.


Brief Plot

The Secret History follows a group of six friends, narrated by Richard, who’s one of the six. The group have murdered one of their six, Bunny. This is revealed in the prologue, before the actual book has even started. It starts at the end, and then returns to the beginning, showing us how and why the group ended up killing one of their own. Will Yates, in his review on Oxford Student, claims the novel has been described as a ‘whydunnit’ as opposed to the traditional Poe-sian ‘whodunnit’.

The Secret History is a harrowing tale, and I won’t give away any spoilers. Each member of the group have their problems. Richard, the narrator, is poor and spends much of the book trying to convince the group otherwise.

The rest of the group, Henry, Francis, Camilla, Charles, and Bunny are from extremely privileged backgrounds. Most receive money every month from their parents. They’re all students, studying Classics at Hampden College by their elusive and bizarre professor, Julian. Tartt shows that although the rest are more privileged than Richard, they have as many problems as him. Charles is an alcoholic, Francis is a gay man who struggles to find reciprocated love, Henry is too proud.

And Bunny finds out a secret that he won’t let the others live down. So they decide to shut him up themselves. This is revealed at the beginning. The remainder of the book shows the run up to the murder, and also how they evade being found out by the police, their college and the FBI. It shows how guilt can hammer down on you, force you to do things that you wouldn’t otherwise have considered. Can the group pretend it never happened, or will one of them crack?



The Secret History was a fabulous novel. At 630 pages it was a long one, but every page was needed. The characters were so deep and…real? Tartt truly captures the feeling that you’ve been let into a huge secret, that you mustn’t tell anyone else. You become the 7th member of the group, experiencing things as they do.

The Greek, Latin, Italian, and French elements that appear in the novel only seem to draw you into a different world that you didn’t know existed.


Buy your copy now, with £2 off – only £6.99!


Other books like this:

The Little Friend, Donna Tartt


Then She Was Gone, Lisa Jewell


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Book Review: Last Seen Alive by Claire Douglas



Libby Hall needs to hide, to escape from everything for a while. Which is why the house swap is a godsend. The chance for Libby and her husband Jamie to exchange their tiny Bath flat for a beautiful haven on the wild Cornish coast.


But before they can begin to heal their fragile marriage, Libby makes some disturbing discoveries about the house. And soon the peace and isolation begin to feel threatening. How alone are they? Why does she feel watched?


What is Jamie hiding? Is Libby being paranoid? And why does the house bring back such terrible memories? Memories Libby’s worked hard to bury. Memories of the night she last saw her best friend alive… and what she did.


Last Seen Alive is about a young couple, Libby and Jamie, and the struggles they’re going through in life (aren’t we all?). There are aspects of the plot that we’re confused about here. Libby is holding secrets, and there’s mention of something that happened back when she lived in Thailand for a few months.

Libby gets a leaflet through the door from another couple, asking residents to get involved in a house swap. The letter explains that their daughter needs life-changing surgery in the hospital in Bath.

Libby jumps at the chance for a week away in Cornwall, and accepts the offer. Very quickly, their relaxing Cornish holiday starts to go wrong. Jamie is poisoned, some bloodied underwear is found in the garden, and who is the strange man following them around? The house is creepy, just too empty and un-lived in. Everything looks to perfect.

Their trip is cut short, to their relief, and they return to Bath. But their bank accounts have been emptied, other accounts have been opened in Libby’s name, and items start to arrive in the post, including a backpack and a blonde wig. And then they find a dead man in their garden, of which Libby is the ultimate suspect.

Can she convince the police that they’ve been away in Cornwall all week, or is she being framed by someone?

Book Review

I felt like there was a bit of a lull in Last Seen Alive whilst the couple were in Cornwall. My reading of it slowed down, and I couldn’t visualise where it was going.

Until the flashback to Libby’s time in Thailand and OMG COULDN’T PUT IT DOWN FROM THIS POINT. Everything changed, everything started to make sense. So what did happen in Thailand all those years ago, and why is Libby only paying the price for it now?

It’s really hard to write this review without giving away too much about characters that I can’t tell you about (otherwise the plot gets ruined) or about what the hell happens in Thailand. Just trust me, it’s worth buying, the book is good.

I read half of this book in one sitting once I reached the shocking twist that no one saw coming (see Jenny’s review here). I absolutely would love to read some more of Claire Douglas’ books. Last Seen Alive is definitely one for any thriller fans, and will leave you thinking about it for days afterwards.

Grab your copy of Last Seen Alive from Waterstones or read an extract here!


Books similar to this one:

Best Day Ever, Kaira Rouda

Then She Was Gone, Lisa Jewell



Photo header credit:


Best Day Ever, by Kaira Rouda

New Release….

A loving husband. The perfect killer?

‘I wonder if Mia thinks I have a dark side. Most likely as far as she knows, I am just her dear loving husband.’ 

Paul Strom has spent years building his perfect life: glittering career, beautiful wife, two healthy boys and a big house in the suburbs.

But he also has his secrets. That’s why Paul has promised his wife a romantic weekend getaway. He proclaims this day, a warm Friday in May, will be the best day ever.

Paul loves his wife, really, he does. But he also wants to get rid of her. And with every hour that passes, Paul ticks off another stage in his elaborately laid plan…

Behind Closed Doors meets Liane Moriarty in this creepy, fast-paced psychological thriller with a twist you won’t see coming!


Paul Strom is just a traditional, romantic guy who wants to treat his wife to the Best Day Ever, right?


Paul plans to take his wife Mia away for a weekend. The Stroms are a well-off family, and they own a lake house on a gorgeous site near to Lake Erie (yes, we will discuss the irony of that name in a bit).

They have two gorgeous boys, aged 6 and 8. They own a huge home, the biggest in the street, in Columbus. And they have an au pair who looks after the boys whilst Paul and Mia go for a romantic weekend away.

But whilst they’re away, things seem tense. Is it just tiredness, stress, work related, or down to Mia’s recent illness? Secrets begin to emerge and the Best Day Ever quickly becomes one of the worst.

Best Day Ever Review

Best Day Ever is set just under a 24-hour period, and the first person narration is provided by Paul. The chapters are set into time zones, beginning at 9am and continuing until 6am the next day. Very early on we learn a few details about Paul’s past. His mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and accidentally killed herself and Paul’s dad whilst leaving the car running in the garage. Paul and Mia have been happily married for around ten years. He feels they’ve both been stressed and run down recently, and that they need to take a break, without the children.

Paul is a very cocky and obnoxious man. He is very vain, and everything comes down to appearances. He’s constantly wanting to appear richer than he is, more successful than he is. When they arrive at the lake, he spies his neighbour’s house: the Boone’s.

“I stop in front of the Boones’ cottage. All of the lights are on, it seems, in every room of the place. They are entertaining people from our neighborhood, no doubt, wining and dining them at their grand historic cottage…I turn the corner onto Laurel Street and our cottage is glowing with light too. There are two people on the screened-in porch. They sit in the two chairs that face the sofa. The furniture is old and rather embarrassing” (p. 132).

We know from previous scenes that two of his credit cards have been declined. They seem to have suddenly run out of money, but why? He has compared himself to his neighbours, whose house, even though they both live in cottages in the nicer part of the camp, is ‘grand’ and ‘historic’ but his is embarrassing and old-fashioned. He talks about replacing the outside furniture.

Rather quickly, we begin to question Paul’s reliability as a narrator. We can tell straight away that there is something not quite right. He’s lying to his wife, which he also tells us early on:

“I must recollect everything I’ve uttered to my wife about Caroline, and the Thompson Payne office in general over the past few months. Then, like for one of Sam’s first grade projects, I must sort what has been said into one pile and what hasn’t been into another. This is an important exercise, done on my terms, not hers” (p. 41).

Paul has these psychopathic tendencies that rear up frequently throughout the book. It also seems that he can’t read people’s emotions very well:

“Embarrassed, that’s the emotion” (p. 140)

Mia, his wife, even states to a neighbour that Paul’s “emotional intelligence is a bit lacking.” He says things because he thinks it is what people will expect: “I think that is a thing a guy would say to another guy” (p. 142).

We hear from Mia’s perspective in the epilogue at the end of the novel, but until then Paul is our only narrator. Paul depicts her as whiny, and a bit of a worrier. We know from Paul that people like Mia, though he isn’t sure why: “Mia is a person many want to befriend” (p. 132).

As an unreliable narrator, we quickly disregard anything he tells us, and so understand that Mia is liked by people because she is a genuinely nice person.

Rouda is very clever in the way she has portrayed Paul. We thoroughly dislike him, and yet it doesn’t stop you from reading the book. He often acknowledges and talks to the reader, asking them not to share his secrets with his wife, as if we know them. As if they live next door and we might spill the beans. This is a very clever literary technique.


As I mentioned before, the lake town they visit is called Lake Erie which only adds to the strangeness this small town exudes. Paul seems to think that the place is lovely but the people and the neighbours are out to get him. His neighbours don’t talk to him and he can’t understand why. He hates going to the Lake during the busy summer months because it fills with idiots. He likes the place, but not the people.

When Mia and Paul go out for lunch, Paul mentions the lighthouse that sits on the rocks leading boaters to safety, away from land. If the lighthouse is leading them to safety, back into the water, Rouda is insinuating that the land is dangerous. Whilst we know this for boats, could she also be applying it to the people on the land? The town is even described as a ‘dry’ place, and the vegetables seem to be wilting in the grocery shop.

Mia also finds safety and comfort in the sky. She enjoys stargazing, and has a phone app that tells her which constellations she can see. People are constantly trying to find a way to escape the land, to somewhere much further away.

I read Best Day Ever in about 3 days. It was gripping, and even comical in places. We can see straight through our narrator, and you’ll find yourself asking, Are you really going to do that? Do you really think that? Very cleverly written, and one any thriller fan should read.


Book available to buy from….   Google Play   Barnes and Noble   iBooks   Kobo   Waterstones   HarperCollins

About the Author
Kaira Rouda is a USA Today bestselling, multiple award-winning author of contemporary women’s fiction and sexy modern romance novels that sparkle with humor and heart. Her women’s fiction titles include Here, Home, Hope, All the Difference, In the Mirror and The Goodbye Year (April 2016) Her bestselling short story is titled, A Mother’s Day. Kaira’s work has won the Indie Excellence Award, USA Book Awards, the Reader’s Choice Awards and honorable mention in the Writer’s Digest International Book Awards. Her books have been widely reviewed and featured in leading magazines.

Her sexy contemporary romance series set on Indigo Island includes: Weekend with the Tycoon, Book 1; Her Forbidden Love, Book 2; The Trouble with Christmas, Book 3; and The Billionaire’s Bid, Book 4. Each of these novellas can be read as a stand alone, or enjoyed as a series. Her new series is set in Laguna Beach and includes: Laguna Nights, Book 1; Laguna Heights, Book 2; Laguna Lights, Book 3, and Laguna Sights.She also helped launch Melissa Foster’s The Remington’s Kindle World with her bestselling novella, Spotlight on Love and in the Dare to Love Kindle World, The Celebrity Dare.

Her nonfiction titles, Real You Incorporated: 8 Essentials for Women Entrepreneurs, and Real Your For Authors: 8 Essentials for Women Writers, continue to inspire.

She lives in Southern California with her husband and four almost-grown kids, and is at work on her next novel.

Find the author on the following sites…
Website   Facebook   Twitter   Pinterest   Google+   Goodreads   Amazon Author Page

Other Women’s Fiction books by the author…

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The Pact by Jodi Picoult

The Pact is described as a ‘love story’, but it seems to me more a tale of grief and loss.


The Pact: For eighteen years the Hartes and the Golds have lived next door to each other, sharing everything from Chinese food to chicken pox to carpool duty– they’ve grown so close it seems they have always been a part of each other’s lives. Parents and children alike have been best friends, so it’s no surprise that in high school Chris and Emily’s friendship blossoms into something more. They’ve been soul mates since they were born.

So when midnight calls from the hospital come in, no one is ready for the appalling truth: Emily is dead at seventeen from a gunshot wound to the head. There’s a single unspent bullet in the gun that Chris took from his father’s cabinet–a bullet that Chris tells police he intended for himself. But a local detective has doubts about the suicide pact that Chris has described.


The Pact book front cover

Plot Summary

How does one 17-year-old end up dead when she seemed to have the perfect life? She had a great boyfriend, was intelligent and doing well at school, and had a lovely ‘normal’ family, in a lovely neighbourhood. So why did Emily want to kill herself?

Chris and Emily have known each other since forever. Chris was at the birth of Emily when he was six months old, and since then, they have never been apart. Everyone had hoped that they would end up together. Their parents had hoped for it since the day they were born, so when they finally got together at the age of 13, the Golds and the Hartes couldn’t have been happier!

Until their daughter ends up dead, with Chris the only one who knows what actually happened. Was it his fault? Could he have stopped what happened? Or was he the instigator?

The two families are ripped apart when Chris is arrested for first-degree murder. The remaining story follows his trial and how he will survive without Emily, the love of his life.


The main story of The Pact follows two parallels: then and now. ‘Now’ is centred around the death of Emily, the aftermath, and Chris’ trial. ‘Then’ starts with Emily and Chris’ relationship up until the night she dies. Picoult is very clever in the way she conveys Emily. She is a character we never meet, or hear from directly, but we only know her through other characters’ perceptions.

We finally discover the truth as the narrative of the past leads up to Emily’s death in the final 50 pages of The Pact. Don’t worry, there are no spoilers in this review though!

The characters are *mostly* likeable. There are the parents of Chris and Emily, Gus and James, and Melanie and Michael. As with all novels, Picoult explores the relationships between the couples after the death of a child. One parent copes differently to another and they drift apart.

Rather more unusually, Picoult follows the backstories of both the prosecution and defense lawyers, S. Delaney and Jordan McAfee. Jordan is defending Chris, whilst Delaney is trying to prove that he killed Emily.

The issues that Picoult observes are wide and varying, including mental illness, suicide, love, suffering and sex/sexual abuse. She also looks more deeply into relationships and how our lives are affected by them.

Also unusually, she narrates the entire trial. It’s not just a typical brief trial scene with a verdict, but around 100 pages of prosecution, defence, judges, witness statements, etc. It was truly enthralling and a heart-in-my-mouth moment.

The Pact was a brilliant book, and a brilliant read, though slightly cliched in places (but who doesn’t love a bit of cliche?).



Buy a copy now for £8.99


Other books similar to this one

Then She Was Gone, Lisa Jewell

The Little Friend, Donna Tartt