‘A quirky and enjoyable cosy mystery.’ @CathyRy reviews Bells, Tails & Murder by @KathyManosPenn, for Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT

Today’s team review is from Cathy. She blogs here https://betweenthelinesbookblog.wordpress.com/

Rosie's #Bookreview Team #RBRT

Cathy has been reading Bells, Tails & Murder by Kathy Manos Penn

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Leta Parker’s life changed irrevocably when her husband was killed in an accident while they were out biking. Eighteen months later she had fulfilled her dream of retiring to England and has a pretty, restored and cosy cottage in the Cotswolds. All she needs now is to pick up Dickens, a dwarf Pyrenees and Christie the black cat, from the airport. They both have a moan (literally) and Christie particularly has plenty to say about being crated for the journey. Leta is a female Dr Doolittle and can actually communicate with animals. It’s a fun twist, I’ve often thought it would be perfect I could understand ‘dog speak’. I’m glad, however, that the animals were portrayed and treated as pets and not given human traits (apart from the obvious)

‘How life has changed for the three of us. A new home, a new country … and a new life … without Henry. I wondered whether the animals missed him as much as I did.’

Leta has settled into her new life and made some good friends, including fellow ex-pat, Wendy. One morning, on a walk with Dickens, she is shocked and distressed to discover a body in suspicious circumstances. After speaking to the police, Leta feels the need for Wendy’s company and the discussion makes them, and Wendy’s mum Belle, aware they don’t really know the victim, although most people in the village see her in one capacity or another.

‘After Wendy helped her mum into the kitchen, she asked me to tell the story again. Every time I repeated it, I found the telling got a bit easier. I almost made it through this time without tears. Belle braced herself on her cane and leaned over to give me a hug.’

Leta and Wendy discover there are multiple potential suspects, even as they shy away from the awful thought of one of their friends being the culprit.

A steady initial build up allows the reader to get acquainted with the characters and form mental images. I enjoyed how J.M. Barrie and his works were written into the story, with a plot line that wouldn’t be beyond the realms of possibility. And, as always, I love being familiar with the places mentioned in the story. They brought back lots of memories. A quirky and enjoyable cosy mystery.

Desc 1

A Cotswolds village . . . a grieving heroine . . . two furry sidekicks . . . and a murder!

Do you like heroines who’ve lived a little? Who’ve suffered life’s ups and downs but kept on trucking? Then you’ll love Leta Parker and her new friends in the Cotswold village of Astonbury.

When tragedy strikes Leta Parker’s life, the successful banker and closet sleuth chases a lifelong dream to retire to England. Leaving her friends and neighbors in Atlanta, she settles into Astonbury with her talkative dog and cat, Dickens and Christie. 

Picture her driving a refurbished London taxi to the bookshop and the tearoom, enjoying leisurely walks with Dickens the dog, and sipping coffee in the garden with Christie, her sassy cat.

When Leta stumbles across the dead body of a new acquaintance, her inner Nancy Drew comes out. Before you know it, she’s enlisted the help of Wendy, a retired English teacher friend—and even Wendy’s elderly mum.

Two whipsmart retirees, one spunky senior citizen, and a feisty dog and cat are on the case!

Who better to unearth clues from their friends in the village? Even Dickens and Christie get in on the act gathering intelligence from their four-legged friends and pointing out the obvious to Leta.

What do authors A. A. Milne, Arthur Conan Doyle, and J. M. Barrie have to do with all this?

Is their connection with the Cotswolds merely an interesting bit of trivia, or is it more? Will Leta and Wendy let their literary noses lead them astray?

You’ll be captivated as this unlikely team chases clues and ferrets out a long-buried secret—a scenario that would make any BBC cozy mystery producer proud.  No matter the clues uncovered by Dickens and Christie, you’ll be hard-pressed to guess who the villain is unless, like Leta, you’re able to “talk to the animals.” 

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

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‘The Cotswold village was well-described’. Sherry reviews cosy #Mystery Bells, Tails And Murder by Kathy Manos Penn, for Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT

Today’s team review is from Sherry. She blogs here https://sherryfowlerchancellor.com/

Rosie's #Bookreview Team #RBRT

Sherry has been reading Bells, Tails And Murder by Kathy Manos Penn

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I’m a big fan of cozy mysteries, especially those set in Britain. I’m also a huge animal lover so this one intrigued me from the cover and title. It was a bit of a slow start and I almost stopped reading it because nothing much was happening in the first chapters. The writing style wasn’t really up my alley either, but that’s a personal preference. Others may love it, so I’m not downgrading my review due to that.

I persevered and the story got better. One thing that bothered me was I couldn’t tell how old the heroine was. She seemed young and stylish, and men kept asking her out- ones that seemed young and also ones that seemed older- (which could really mean she’s any age—but, it was a bit confusing not to be able to picture her properly) but she kept calling herself an old lady and she took a ton of naps. Every day, she got so tired she had to nap. Her age may not matter in the grand scheme of the plot, but it stayed in the back of my mind as I read. I confess, it was distracting as she’d seem young one moment and older the next.

The Cotswold village was well-described and had all the elements one would expect, from the pub to the tea room, to the bookstore and inn. The village was peopled with an interesting cast of characters as well. The premise surrounding the murder and the author of the Peter Pan books, J.M. Barrie was clever and well done.

While I did figure out who was the red herring and who was the culprit pretty early on, I enjoyed the story as it unfolded. The added fun of the cat, Christie, and the dog, Dickens, who the heroine could understand as if they spoke English rather than barking and meowing, was a neat take on the cozy mystery genre. I liked that some of the characters had names with ties to the Peter Pan tales and the pets were named after writers.

There was lots of wine and lots of Greek salad in the book which made me hungry and I was glad the author included her father’s recipe for the salad and dressing. That was a nice surprise at the end of the book.

I’m giving it three stars for the slow start, but I recommend the reader keep going if discouraged by the lack of action at the beginning. It gets better.

Desc 1

A Cotswolds village . . . a grieving heroine . . . two furry sidekicks . . . and a murder!

Do you like heroines who’ve lived a little? Who’ve suffered life’s ups and downs but kept on trucking? Then you’ll love Leta Parker and her new friends in the Cotswold village of Astonbury.

When tragedy strikes Leta Parker’s life, the successful banker and closet sleuth chases a lifelong dream to retire to England. Leaving her friends and neighbors in Atlanta, she settles into Astonbury with her talkative dog and cat, Dickens and Christie. 

Picture her driving a refurbished London taxi to the bookshop and the tearoom, enjoying leisurely walks with Dickens the dog, and sipping coffee in the garden with Christie, her sassy cat.

When Leta stumbles across the dead body of a new acquaintance, her inner Nancy Drew comes out. Before you know it, she’s enlisted the help of Wendy, a retired English teacher friend—and even Wendy’s elderly mum.

Two whipsmart retirees, one spunky senior citizen, and a feisty dog and cat are on the case!

Who better to unearth clues from their friends in the village? Even Dickens and Christie get in on the act gathering intelligence from their four-legged friends and pointing out the obvious to Leta.

What do authors A. A. Milne, Arthur Conan Doyle, and J. M. Barrie have to do with all this?

Is their connection with the Cotswolds merely an interesting bit of trivia, or is it more? Will Leta and Wendy let their literary noses lead them astray?

You’ll be captivated as this unlikely team chases clues and ferrets out a long-buried secret—a scenario that would make any BBC cozy mystery producer proud.  No matter the clues uncovered by Dickens and Christie, you’ll be hard-pressed to guess who the villain is unless, like Leta, you’re able to “talk to the animals.” 

AmazonUk | AmazonUS

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A Cosy #Mystery. @LizanneLloyd Reviews Bells, Tails And Murder by @KathyManosPenn

Today’s team review is from Liz. She blogs here https://lizannelloyd.wordpress.com/

Rosie's #Bookreview Team #RBRT

Liz has been reading Bells, Tails And Murder by Kathy Manos Penn.

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Leta Parker has long been an Anglophile, so after the tragic death of her husband she decides to leave Atlanta, taking her dog and cat to start a new life in a Cotswold village. It’s the perfect setting for a cosy mystery and Leta’s inquiring mind and interest in people make her an ideal detective. But when Leta finds a body in suspicious circumstances, she has trouble convincing local policewoman, Gemma, that she is not just an interfering American with too much time on her hands.

There are many possible villagers who have motives for the murder but they are Leta’s friends so she searches for clues. In an added twist Leta discusses her investigation with dog, Dickens, and cat, Christie. Not only do they understand her, but she can also interpret everything they say. Suspension of disbelief is necessary, but it adds to the fun! At times I had problems remembering who was who, so a list of characters at the beginning of the book would have been helpful.*

Readers on both sides of the pond will appreciate the descriptions of a visit to Oxford and of the charming imaginary Cotswold village. The setting reminded me of the adventures of Agatha Raisin with a little bit of Midsummer Murder and it is a good choice appealing to both a British and an American audience. If you fancy a light read with a mystery to solve its great escapism.

*Whoops There was a helpful summary of the characters at the beginning of the book but somehow I missed it (Remember to go to the very beginning of a book on Kindle!)

Desc 1

She crossed an ocean to start her life over. Can she nab a killer before her quaint village becomes a graveyard?


Recently widowed Leta Parker desperately needs a change of scenery. Pursuing her lifelong dream of retiring to the Cotswolds, she leaves her soulless corporate hustle in Atlanta and moves to England with her talking dog and cat companions—Dickens and Christie. But she’s barely begun making new friends when she stumbles across her housekeeper’s body …


With several villagers pegged for the crime, Leta teams up with a retired English teacher and her sharp-as-a-tack octogenarian mother to track the killer before the trail goes cold. As the not-so-friendly local policewoman elbows them out and scandalous rumours plague the tight-knit community, it’s left to the ladies and their pets to sleuth for the truth.


Can Leta, Dickens, and Christie sniff out the culprit before the cute little town loses more than its charm?

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

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Love And Life In The Cotswolds. @LizanneLloyd reviews #Romance Elle’s A to Z Of Love by @ClaraVal, for Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT

Today’s team review is from Liz. She blogs here https://lizannelloyd.wordpress.com/

Rosie's #Bookreview Team #RBRT

Liz has been reading Elle’s A to Z Of Love by Claire Huston

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If you enjoy spending time in an idyllic but realistic English village you will love this novel. When Elle Bea returns from University she is welcomed home to Haileybrook by her rather odd family and close friends. Her love life is non-existent but she will soon be travelling to Europe with her lively friend, Serena.  However, memories and old ties are entangling her. She cares deeply for old friend, Toby, who took care of her when she was a shy schoolgirl, but she still can’t stop thinking about Adam, the handsome publican’s son she had briefly dated.

I found Elle’s attitude rather irritating. Her dynamic mother has sapped her confidence and her life seems to be permanently on hold. The redeeming feature is the series of emails she exchanges with Zach, a charming young man she met briefly in the University Library, who is now living with his girlfriend in the States. Their frank remarks tell us a great deal about their personalities and interests. The events in Haileybrook such as a wedding and a country fayre are recoded by Elle as part of her job as a local journalist and we encounter a number of interesting characters such as the elderly Mrs Cooper who tries to provide Elle with guidance.

The usual misunderstandings and foolish mistakes are delightful resolved in an exciting conclusion.

Desc 1

Haileybrook, a beautiful village in the peaceful Cotswolds countryside, is most people’s idea of heaven on earth.

Born and raised in this small slice of paradise, Elle Bea can’t wait to leave.  It should be easy, but every time she packs her bags for exotic adventures, old loves and loyalties pull her back.

Will Elle be forced to forget her dreams of far-flung places and epic romance, or can she grab one last chance to have it all?

An uplifting, romantic story about friends, family and the relationships that make a place a home.

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

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