#FridayReads ‘Ryan’s Christmas’ by @LJRoss_author #BookReview

Still waiting for your perfect wintry read? Try this cosy, crime mystery set in England’s most haunted castle in Northumbria and written by international bestselling author, L J Ross.

Ryan's Christmas: A DCI Ryan Mystery (The DCI Ryan Mysteries Book 15) by [Ross, LJ]

From the Blurb

DCI Ryan and his team of murder detectives are enjoying a festive season of goodwill, mulled wine, until a freak snowstorm forces their car off the main road and into the remote heart of Northumberland.

Their Christmas spirit is soon tested when they’re forced to find shelter inside England’s most haunted castle, where they’re the uninvited guests at a ‘Candlelit Ghost Hunt’.

It’s all spooky, fun and games—until one of the guests is murdered. It seems no mortal hand could have committed the crime, so Ryan and Co. must face the spectres living inside the castle walls to uncover the grisly truth, before another ghost joins their number…

Murder and mystery are peppered with romance and humour in this fast-paced crime whodunnit set amidst the spectacular Northumbrian landscape.


Partial View of Chillingham Castle, where the novel takes place.


My Review

Ryan’s Christmas is a real treat! It reads as a traditional whodunit, in the style of Agatha Christie, unlike the other DCI Ryan Mysteries.

It is an atmospheric and compelling crime novel, set in an authentic, 12th century castle in the north of England, which is in my bucket list to visit asap!

It was thriling to see the main characters of the series (DCI Ryan Mysteries), solving a crime at Christmas, while stranded in a spooky castle! It’s book 15 in the series, so plenty of crimes have been solved and the characters have taken on a life of their own!

But don’t worry if you haven’t read the previous 14 books (I haven’t read them all, yet!), the best thing is that Ryan’s Christmas can be read as a standalone by readers who haven’t read any of the previous books, although no doubt if you read this novel you’ll want to read the previous books in the series!

What can I say, I love all the characters, especially Ryan, who is the perfect gentleman and police inspector, admired by all his staff, and Anna, his wife,whom he met in book 1, Holy Island, a scholar of local, ancient history and lecturer at Newcastle University.

Holy Island: A DCI Ryan Mystery (The DCI Ryan Mysteries Book 1) by [Ross, LJ]

Ryan’s Christmas is especially for lovers of well-written, cosy, crime mysteries, set in the UK, in winter.

LJ Ross

LJ Ross is an international bestselling author, best known for creating atmospheric mystery and thriller novels, including the DCI Ryan series of Northumbrian murder mysteries which have sold over four million copies worldwide.

Her debut, Holy Island, was released in January 2015 and reached number one in the Amazon UK and Australian charts. Since then, she has released a further fourteen novels, all of which have been top three global bestsellers and twelve of which have been UK #1 bestsellers.

#AtoZChallenge2019 #Audiobooks ‘B’ is for Shalini Boland @ShaliniBoland @Audible #TuesdayBookBlog

I’m thrilled to continue my AtoZ Blogging challenge with another of my favourite contemporary suspense writers, Shalini Boland author of six psychological thrillers.

Shalini Boland

I’ve read The Secret Mother and The Silent Sister on my kindle, but today I’m going to tell you about the two audiobooks I’ve listened to recently, The Child Next Door and The Girl From The Sea.

The Girl From The Sea: A gripping psychological thriller with a heart-pounding twist by [Boland, Shalini]

Mia is found on the beach, disoriented and not knowing who she is or why she’s there. She’s finally discharged from hospital and allowed to go home when her boyfriend recognises her.

But, who is Mia? She doesn’t even recognise her reflection in the mirror. Although there are some disjointed flashbacks, her memory doesn’t improve until the last few chapters, so throughout most of the novel, Mia is forced to gradually decipher her life with the help of her boyfriend, friends and family, but can she trust them? Why are they lying to her?

The novel is narrated in the first person by Mia. The audio version is brilliant, because as most of the novel is written in the present tense, it is like watching a suspense film. All the events are vividly portrayed, making it a thrilling read, with plenty of twists and turns, right to the last page.

The Child Next Door: An unputdownable psychological thriller with a brilliant twist by [Boland, Shalini]

The Child Next Door is gripping from the first line to the final chapter. It’s fast-paced and very well written domestic thriller about a group of neighbours with plenty of secrets.

Kristie is a teacher who is on maternity leave and is overly worried about her infant’s safety after hearing a strange voice on her baby monitor who wants to ‘take the child and go.’

The novel is narrated in the present tense in the first person from Kristie’s point of view. The events happen over a short period of time, so once more the suspenseful narration leads to an intense listening experience.


Especially for lovers of fast paced, psychological thrillers set in the UK.

Shalini Boland’s Audible Author Page

What? You’ve never read an Audiobook? Here are my 34 reasons why you should be reading audiobooks! 

I’ll be reviewing an audiobook a day throughout April, so come back tomorrow!

Would you like to read about the other authors and audiobooks I’ve posted about during the challenge, which started on 1st April? Here they are!

Find out more about this blogging challenge here!


#TheCuckoosCalling Novel Versus TV/Film Adaptations #MondayBlogs @BBC #Strike

When you watch a film or TV series after reading a book, one of two things can happen, you either love the film version or hate it. This is my take on the novel, The Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith and the TV series, which has just been aired on BBC1.

A Cuckoo’s Calling is one of the books I read last summer on a friend’s recommendation and I was not disappointed.  I also thoroughly enjoyed the first three episodes of the TV series which enacts this novel.

As far as I’m concerned, everything J. K. Rowling writes merits a five-star review because she is so talented at making characters and stories come to life that her novels are a pleasure to read. Thanks to her vivid descriptions, in this case writing as Robert Galbraith, I had ‘seen’ the whole novel in my mind before I watched the TV series, which was an almost perfect rendition of what I had imagined.

All the characters, major and minor come alive, almost jumping out of the pages. The only problem for me, and this is probably very personal, was that I wasn’t very interested in most of the characters involved in Strike’s investigation. He was hired by the bother of an old school friend to find out if his adopted sister, supermodel Lula’s suicide, may have been a murder. I thought it was such a pity that the author invested her talent in bringing such self-centered and mostly uninteresting characters to life.

Fortunately, the main characters, the private detective, Cormoran Strike, and his assistant or sidekick Robin Ellacott, are two extraordinary characters who made reading the novel worthwhile. I thought Cormoran was a complex and intriguing character, who will no doubt show more of his personality as the series progresses. However, Robin steals the show. She’s such a caring, clever, resourceful and engaging character, that she’s my biggest motivation to read on.

Both actors incarnate their literary counterparts brilliantly, again, Holliday Granger as Robin stands out because she’s so perfect for the part, coming across as vulnerable yet determined and sensitive yet tough. Tom Burke as Cormoran is also almost ideal, but for me, at times he came across as too attractive and young for the rugged, as well as physically and emotionally damaged, detective portrayed in the novel.

Cormoran and Robin’s relationship will obviously grow into a solid friendship, and who knows, there may be more, but first, Cormoran, who has plenty of unresolved personal issues, needs to sort himself out, physically and emotionally before he can commit to a serious long term relationship with anyone. On the other hand, Robin, who is already engaged, is not going to indulge in an occasional fling with her boss, even if she feels attracted to him.

The plot was well contrived, but again, to me it was lost on such superficial (and to me tedious) people. I’ll continue reading the series because she’s a brilliant writer, but I hope the rest of the instalments have characters and stories I can feel more invested in.

(You can watch the Trailer and some scenes on this YouTube video channel)

Regarding the television series, it was brilliant, exactly as I had imagined it. It was even better than the novel in some aspects. In the novel, the investigation was long and sagged at some points, whereas the series had a more even pace. For example, the end of the novel, where the murder, murderer, motive and method is methodically disentangled and explained by Strike, dragged a bit (after all, the reader had already figured most of it out), yet the final TV episode reduced the final scene, making it more effective.

One aspect the book conveyed far better than the series was the humour. I found it lacking in the series and brilliant in the novel. The humour, especially at the beginning of the novel had me laughing out loud, whereas the subtle humour throughout, was a breath of fresh air.

Finally, the streets, shops, stations, tubes, homes, people and weather etc. of London, as well as the fabulous music score and songs, added an extra layer of depth to the recreation of the novel.

I definitely recommend both the series and the novel, because on this occasion, the series really does complement, and in some instances even improves on the book.

I listened to the audio version on audible.

If you haven’t seen it yet and live in the UK you can watch it here:

I live in Spain, so I had to watch it on this channel for a small fee.

UK buy link to novel

US buy link to novel

The second book, The Silkworm is about a novelist who has gone missing, and will be aired next Sunday at 9.00pm GMT on BBC1. This time, I’ll be doing it the other way round, I’ll be watching the series first and then reading the novel. I’ll let you know how that goes in about a month’s time, when I’ll have seen the whole series and read the book.

Happy reading and viewing!


Follow Luccia Gray on Social Media:




Check out Luccia Gray’s Books on Amazon 

Check out Luccia Gray’s other reviews on her blog.

Check out Luccia Gray’s reviews on amazon


#FridayBookShare ‘And Then She Was Gone’ by Christopher Greyson @Chris_Greyson

#FridayBookShare was created by Shelley Wilson for book lovers to share what they’re reading. The idea is to answer a few simple questions about the novel and post on Fridays.


Today, I’d like to share And Then She Was Gone by Christopher Greyson

First line of the book.

“Help me!” The old woman’s desperate plea rose above the din of the afternoon traffic.

Recruit fans by adding the book blurb.

Stacy Shaw has her whole life ahead of her. New job, new house and now a baby on the way—everything she’s ever hoped for is finally coming true. But on a warm summer night on the way home from work, she vanishes. The police race to find her, but the clues don’t add up. Conflicting facts emerge as her story twists and turns, sending the trail spiraling in all directions.

A hometown hero with a heart of gold, Jack Stratton was raised in a whorehouse by his prostitute mother. Jack seemed destined to become another statistic, but now his life has taken a turn for the better. Determined to escape his past, he’s headed for a career in law enforcement. When his foster mother asks him to look into the girl’s disappearance, Jack quickly gets drawn into a baffling mystery. As Jack digs deeper, everyone becomes a suspect—including himself. Caught between the criminals and the cops, can Jack discover the truth in time to save the girl? Or will he become the next victim?

And Then She Was Gone is part of the Detective Jack Stratton Mystery Series, which has more than 2,000+ five-star reviews and over half-a-million readers and counting. If you love a page-turning thriller with mystery, humor, and romance, pick up And Then She Was Gone today.

Introduce the main character using only three words.

Jack is impulsive, big-hearted, perceptive.

Delightful design (add the cover image of the book).


Audience appeal (who would enjoy reading this book?)

Especially for readers who like contemporary crime fiction, with lots of action and engaging and controversial characters.

Your favourite line/scene.

Jack and Chandler are two best friends who have met through the foster care system they’ve both been part of. Chandler is more sensible and helps Jack control his headstrong character. Their friendship and witty banter is one of the best parts of the novel.  


 The pull of hate and anger inside Jack was strong, and he found himself frequently drawn to the darkness. But Chandler always had a way of coaxing Jack back from the edge. The thought of what Jack would have become without all those years of his friend’s help made Jack’s stomach churn.

He shoved Chandler’s shoulder, and his big friend laughed. Jack had never understood how Chandler and Michelle had turned out so normal. They’d lost their parents when they were both little, yet they didn’t seem to bear the scars Jack did. He felt like a jigsaw puzzle with a bunch of pieces missing. But them? They seemed happy all the time.

As they neared the end of the street, Chandler asked, “Are we cutting through?”


And Then She Was Gone is the first book in the Detective Jack Stratton crime thrillers. Jack is an underprivileged youth, living in foster care, who is eager to join the army before his life long dream to being a detective. Book two, Girl Jacked, jumps ahead nine years, and we meet Jack Stratton, the man who has finally become a police officer.


Link to my complete review on amazon