One Last Prayer for the Rays #BookReview #BlogTour (@MarkinWes) @RaRaResources #RachelsRandomResources #OneLastPrayerForTheRays

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Today is my turn on the blog tour for One Last Prayer for the Rays by Wes Markin. Thank you to Rachel Gilbey of Rachel’s Random Resources for my place on the tour and to the author for my copy of the book which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.

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DCI Michael Yorke faces his most harrowing case yet.

When 12-year-old Paul disappears from school, Yorke’s only clue is a pool of animal blood. Fearing the worst, he turns toward the most obvious suspect, recently released local murderer, Thomas Ray.

But as the snow in Salisbury worsens, Ray’s mutilated body is discovered, and Yorke is left with no choice but to journey into the sinister heart of a demented family that has plagued the community for generations. Can he save the boy? Or will the evil he discovers changes him forever?

I had no idea what to expect going in to this book as it is a debut from a new, and potentially exciting, crime novelist. The blurb doesn’t give a huge amount away about the book, so I went in to in with an open mind and was treated to a rollercoaster of a ride  of a book with a few niggling issues.

The plot of this book clever; the writer comes up with some ingenious twists and turns and devilish ways of torturing both his fictional victims and his readers as he tugs them through the book before revealing what is going on. The book opens with a shocking abduction at a school and the action doesn’t really let up all the way through as the police of Salisbury, led by DCI Michael Yorke, try to fathom who has kidnapped the boy, and why, which proves difficult given the very strange nature of the crime. I have to warn readers, there are some very graphic, gory and disturbing scenes in this novel, so the book will delight crime readers who like their murders explicit, but may turn the stomaches of some.

The crime centres around the notorious Ray family, who have a brutal and twisted history in the area, to the extent that seems to be a curse on the family. Is this why one of the last of the Rays has been abducted and is this in revenge for crimes committed in the past? This is a labyrinthine plot that readers will enjoy trying to decipher, alongside the police, and it romps along at a goodly pace.

There are some great characters in this book, particularly amongst the ‘baddies’ whose personalities and motivations are, by and large, are clear and fully fleshed out. I got the feeling that the author really enjoys and has great fun writing these characters. The exception to this seemed to be Lacey Ray who, although a character I enjoyed very much, seemed to be lacking a clear motivation for her actions other than – ‘she’s a psycho’ – which seems a little simplistic. Parts of what were happening to her, such as the Blue Room, were not fully explained and her story left hanging so I got the feeling that the author was possibly being deliberately vague so she could return for another instalment, but I would have liked a little more development of her psychopathy to make this instalment fully satisfying.

The main police protagonist, Yorke, seemed a down to earth and solid policeman with good relationship with his colleagues and he was dogged in his efforts to solve the crime. What he was lacking though was a fully fleshed out personal story and the lack of this made it hard to really invest in him as a character. Again, I really feel that the author enjoyed writing and devoted more time to developing the baddies and their stories. I believe the author has written a prequel featuring Yorke, and that this is the beginning of a series, so no doubt more will be revealed in future books but here he seems curiously devoid of any life or interests outside of his job.

There are a lot of other minor characters on the police side of the story. Way too many in fact, it was practically impossible to keep up with them all and, aside from Jake Pettman, none of them were developed at all. People were given names and job titles that were repeated that really didn’t warrant that level of identification based on their relevance to the story. People’s full job titles and roles were repeated and repeated in a way that dragged parts of the story to a crawl and didn’t add anything to the narrative. However, I think this eased towards the end of the book and comes down to the experience of the writer. Time, practice and a good additional edit could eliminate this issue in future volumes and doesn’t take away from the fact that here is a talented writer who has real potential to produce gripping and addictive crime fiction.

This is a strong debut with a gripping plot and a real flair of imagination, marred slightly by some rookie errors that can easily be addressed and I expect to see this author go from strength to strength. I would recommend you give this book a go for its inventive plot, and watch out for exciting future books from this writer.

One Last Prayer For The Rays is available by following this link.

To read some alternative reviews of the book, make sure you follow the tour as detailed below:

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About the Author

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Wes Markin is a hyperactive English teacher, who loves writing crime fiction with a twist of the macabre.

​Having released One Last Prayer for the Rays he is now working on the second instalment of DCI Michael Yorke’s wild ride, The Repenting Serpent. He is also the author of Defined, a prequel to his DCI Yorke novels, which takes the reader back to his blood-soaked university days.​​

​Born in 1978, Wes grew up in Manchester, UK. After graduating from Leeds University, he spent fifteen years as a teacher of English, and has taught in Thailand, Malaysia and China. Now as a teacher, writer, husband and father, he is currently living in Harrogate, UK.​

Connect with Wes:

Facebook: Wes Markin Author

Twitter: @MarkinWes

Tempted by….Portobello Book Blog: Dear Mrs Bird by A. J. Pearce @portybelle @ajpearcewrites @picadorbooks #DearMrsBird #RichardAndJudyBookClub #bookbloggers #amreading #readingrecommendations

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London, 1941. Amid the falling bombs Emmeline Lake dreams of becoming a fearless Lady War Correspondent. Unfortunately, Emmy instead finds herself employed as a typist for the formidable Henrietta Bird, the renowned agony aunt at Woman’s Friend magazine. Mrs Bird refuses to read, let alone answer, letters containing any form of Unpleasantness, and definitely not those from the lovelorn, grief-stricken or morally conflicted.

But the thought of these desperate women waiting for an answer at this most desperate of times becomes impossible for Emmy to ignore. She decides she simply must help and secretly starts to write back – after all, what harm could that possibly do?

Today’s Tempted by… is a book that is going to be familiar to practically everyone and I am quite ashamed to say that I haven’t read yet. It is Dear Mrs Bird by A. J. Pearce, a Sunday Times Bestseller and Richard and Judy Book Club pick, but it was this review by Joanne at Portobello Book Blog that first drew my attention to this book, almost a year ago. (My TBR is totally out of control, I cannot believe how long this book has been languishing on the pile!)

I am not a massive fan of books set in wartime in general, but I was absolutely intrigued by the approach this book is taking to the subject – the main character answering agony aunt letters that are too Unpleasant for the real agony aunt to answer – and the way Joanne describes it made it sound both light-hearted but moving at the same time, so it sounded just my kind of book. Everyone has been raving about it, and the plot sounds so original, I was really drawn in by the hints at the personality of Mrs Bird, as well as the friendship between Emmy and Bunty that it would appear to be a ‘must read.’ Anyway, who wouldn’t want to read a book where one of the main characters is called Bunty and everyone speaks with capital letters at the front of words?

Joanne’s blog is one of the very earliest that I discovered, long before I started blogging myself. In fact, hers is one of the blogs that inspired me to start my own. I was always finding reviews for new books that I hadn’t come across and sounded interesting, and the reviews were always detailed, fair and honest and enticing. She often puts little personal details in as well, and I think it is very attractive when we get a feel of the person behind the blog through their reviews. If you feel like you are making a friend through reading their book reviews, that makes a blog a big draw for me. Joanne is a very well-established and respected book blogger and you should definitely go and check out her blog here.

If Joanne’s review has tempted you to pick up Dear Mrs Bird, you can get a copy here. As for me, this book will not be languishing on the TBR for much longer. I will be reading it in a couple of weeks as part of The Fiction Cafe Reading Challenge 2019, for the category of ‘an uplifting book,’ so watch out for my review coming next month.

Gap Years by Dave Holwill #BookReview #BlogTour (@daveholwill) @RaRaResources #RachelsRandomResources #GapYears

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Delighted to be taking part in the blog tour today for Gap Years by Dave Holwill. My thanks to Rachel Gilbey at Rachel’s Random Resources for my place on the tour and to the author for my free copy of the book which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.Gap_Years_Front

19 year old Sean hasn’t seen his father since he was twelve. His mother has never really explained why. An argument with her leads to his moving to the other side of the country.

Martin, his father, has his life thrown into turmoil when the son he hasn’t seen in nearly eight years strolls back into his life immediately killing his dog and hospitalising his step-daughter.

The one thing they have in common is the friendship of a girl called Rhiannon.

Over the course of one summer Sean experiences sexual awakenings from all angles, discovers the fleeting nature of friendship and learns to cope with rejection.

Martin, meanwhile, struggles to reconnect with Sean while trying to delicately turn down the increasingly inappropriate advances of a girl he sees as a surrogate daughter and keep a struggling marriage alive.

Gap Years is an exploration of what it means to be a man in the 21st Century seen from two very different perspectives – neatly hidden inside a funny story about bicycles, guitars and unrequited love.

I read Dave Holwill’s last book, The Craft Room, last summer and absolutely loved it so I was looking forward to more of the same. However, this book is completely different, but that is not necessarily a negative.

This is a story about family in the modern age, where people don’t marry, have 2.4 children, celebrate their ruby wedding anniversary and then die and get buried side by side in a family grave plot they bought thirty years ago. In the current climate, family is a much more fluid idea, where people have children, split, have new families, take on other people’s children as their own, make family units that are entirely unique.

This story reflects that, and how these more transient relationships affect the different generations involved. Martin split with his wife eight years previously and she moved away and took their young son with her. Martin most touch with Sean and hasn’t seen his son since, until the day Sean reappears and announces he’s moving in with his dad. The only problem is, Martin has moved on and now has a new family, including a step-daughter with whom he has a closer relationship than he has with his natural son.

This is a book that explores our family relationships. About how they are formed and maintained and fractured and broken and rebuilt. About whether blood really is thicker than water. About what it means to be a parent in the modern day and what it means to be a child. The author tells this story in the alternating voices of father and son, so we get to see the relationship from both sides, and it is absolutely fascinating.

Sean is a fairly typical confused teenager, with unrealistic ambitions who ends up stuck in a dead end job. He has a fraught relationship with both of his parents, each of whom has badly let him down as far as I can see, and he is trying to find a place where he feels at home. Oddly, it is his step-mother and new step-sister with whom he has the easiest relationship, which begs the interesting question as to whether the problems we have in our blood relationships are the expectations we place on them which can probably never be fully met, which don’t exist with people we aren’t actually related to and from who we have no right to expect anything and we have to work at meaning something to. His hormones are also racing, and leading to complications of the female kind.

When we are young, we expect our parents to know what they are doing, but as we grow older, we realise they are just as clueless as everyone else. Everyone is winging it, and this is certainly true with Martin. He feels fairly impotent, one failed relationship behind him, struggling to maintain his new one, estranged from his son and unsure how to rebuild that bond, wondering why he finds it easier to love his step-daughter than his own flesh and blood. Stuck in his own dull job. Add in a manipulative, self-serving female playing father off against son and this leads to some taut drama.

This book is very well-written and, despite the plot being a fairly small, domestic drama, absolutely riveting. The author does a magnificent job of showing the pressures and problems that beset the ordinary people up and down the country in the modern age and every reader will find something to relate to in this story. It is unusual to see male relationships portrayed so honestly and accurately, and I felt really moved by it. At the same time, it contains the same blackness and humour that I loved from Dave’s last book.

This is a really accomplished story that reflects family relationships in the twenty-first century and it was a joy to read.

Gap Years is out now and you can get a copy here.

To follow the rest of the tour, check out the poster below:

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About the Author

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Dave Holwill was born in Guildford in 1977 and quickly decided that he preferred the Westcountry – moving to Devon in 1983 (with some input from his parents).
After an expensive (and possibly wasted) education there, he has worked variously as a postman, a framer, and a print department manager (though if you are the only person in the department then can you really be called a manager?) all whilst continuing to play in every kind of band imaginable on most instruments you can think of.
His debut novel, Weekend Rockstars, was published in August 2016 to favourable reviews and his second The Craft Room (a very dark comedy concerning death through misadventure) came out in August 2017. He is currently in editing hell with the third.

Connect with Dave:

Website: http://davedoesntwriteanythingever.blogspot.com

Facebook: Dave Holwill

Twitter: @daveholwill

Instagram: @dave_holwill

Goodreads: Dave Holwill

Friday Night Drinks with….Graeme Cumming @GraemeCumming63 @MatadorBooks @Williams13Anne #FridayNightDrinks

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Tonight I am delighted to welcome to the blog for Friday Night Drinks, author and all-round lovely chap, Graeme Cumming. Something tells me this is going to be an interesting evening!

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Good evening, Graeme, thanks for joining me for drinks this evening. So tell me, what are we drinking?

If you’re going to ask me difficult questions like that, I’ll need to keep a clear head, so I’m contemplating a sparkling water. As you’ll see, I like living life on the edge…

Seriously, for a quiet night with easy conversation, I’ll go for a Scotch – and don’t go putting anything in it!.   

I’m not quite sure what you are implying, but I can assure you my intentions, and the Scotch, are pure. If we weren’t here in my virtual bar tonight, but were meeting in real life, where would you be taking me for a night out?

I’m not much of a pub-goer unless it’s for a meal or to go and watch a live band. It’s tempting to suggest any pub with a band playing classic rock, but we wouldn’t get much chance for a chat. For that, although it may be a little out of our way, I’d suggest heading down to Waterstones in Piccadilly and stopping off at the 5th View Bar. A great, relaxing place to have a drink and unwind – as long as you can drag yourself past the books!

How did I not know this place existed, it sounds exactly like my kind of bar, although I’m not sure I could drag myself past the books, I have notoriously low will power in this area. If you could invite two famous people, one male and one female, alive or dead, along on our night out, who would we be drinking with?

I’m going to plump for Roger Moore. He’ll never be classed as a great actor, but I’ve yet to watch something he was in and not be entertained, and his heyday in TV and film does tend to coincide with my formative years. Plus, he’d have stories to tell, and I’d love to hear all that behind the scenes stuff. I never met him, but always got the impression he’d be good for a laugh and wouldn’t take things too seriously – and I’m sure he’d appreciate you using this picture of him above all others.

And, on the subject of not taking things too seriously, I reckon Dawn French would be great company. Again, I’m sure she’d have stories to tell, and she may have a serious side to her, but I suspect we’d have a good laugh. 

I love Dawn French so much. So, now we’re settled, tell me what you are up to at the moment. What have you got going on? How and why did you start it and where do you want it to go?

After a bit of a break from it, I’m currently working on (yet) another draft of a novel called Carrion. It’s one I originally started nearly fifteen years ago after writing nothing for several years. I started it because I realized it had been a long time since I’d last written anything, and I chose this particular story because I’d told a version of it to my kids at bedtimes. I say a version because it’s evolved into something you wouldn’t dare tell your children. The first draft took around six years to complete. Since then, I’ve rewritten it a few times, but never been quite happy with the result. The essential story hasn’t changed, but there are different ways to tell the same story. I think I may have cracked it this time, but I’ll let you know.If I have, it should be released by the end of the year.

Given how creepy your last book was, I can imagine that it isn’t really going to be a children’s bedtime story but I will look forward to reading it. What has been your proudest moment since you started writing and what has been your biggest challenge?

For a lot of writers, the proudest moment comes when they see their book in print. Funnily enough, it didn’t really excite me. The eBook had been out for a while, and the release of a paperback was just another part of the process. I’ve never been particularly attached to books as objects – or any other objects for that matter. Forgive me for thinking aloud on this, but it has helped to get the cogs turning. I think it was the point when I realised my market was bigger than I expected, and that came about when Anne Williams at Being Anne reviewed it.

My biggest challenge is a recurring one. Whenever I start a new story, I struggle to motivate myself, and I procrastinate and look for distractions – isn’t the Internet great for that? Once I’m up and running with it, though, I tend to feel less inclined to be distracted.

I am a terrible procrastinator when it comes to my writing. I’m actually doing it right now by typing up this blog post! What is the one big thing you’d like to achieve in your chosen arena? Be as ambitious as you like, its just us talking after all.

Like a lot of people, I’d love books of mine to be turned into movies or TV series, though it says something about the state of literature that to be considered a success it needs converting to a different form. At a more down-to-earth level, I’ll be very happy if I can earn enough from my writing to live on – and I don’t need much.

What are you currently working on that you are really excited about?

Carrion. Even when I’ve got frustrated with it because I can’t find the right way to tell the story, I’ve always been convinced it’s a story that needs to be told. And I’m excited because I feel I’m on the right track with it now. 

I love to travel, and I’m currently drawing up a bucket list of things I’d like to do in the future. Where is your favourite place that you’ve been and what do you have at the top of your bucket list?

I used to have great ambitions to go to lots of places but, as I’m getting older, I find I’m not so bothered, even though I’ve not managed to get to lots of the places I should have done. I’m more interested in the things I can do when I get there, particularly if there’s an opportunity to sail. My preference is to sail dinghies, but my favourite holiday was taking a sailing course in the Canaries, where we lived on the boat for a week. 

The top of my bucket list would be to go sailing again, though there are a range of places I can go for that, and it all looks the same once you’ve slipped your moorings and headed out to sea. 

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Tell me one interesting/surprising/secret fact about yourself that people might not know about you.

I have two children. Apparently that came as a surprise to someone recently. Not sure what that says about me…

That might be the funniest answer to this question I’ve had so far and I’m now wondering what they know about you that we don’t! Books are my big passion and central to my blog and I’m always looking for recommendations. What one book would you give me and recommend as a ‘must-read’?

Shibumi by Trevanian. I don’t tend to read books more than once, but there are a handful I go back to occasionally. This is one of them. It’s probably a bit dated now – it was written in the 1970s – but it’s brilliant in my view. It tells the story of an assassin – his life and a specific situation he finds himself in when he’s dragged out of retirement. Some aspects of it are tongue-in-cheek, but it still stands up as a terrific thriller. If you like the idea of kicking dints in Volvos, you’ll love it! 

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Half German, half Russian, Hel was raised by a Japanese general and survived Hiroshima to become a mystic, a master of the senses, and the most deadly assassin in the world.

Nicholai has left his past behind him to live a life of isolation in a remote mountain fortress, determined to attain a state of effortless perfection known as shibumi. Then Hannah Stern arrives at his door.

Hannah needs protection from a sinister organization known as the Mother Company. But, as Hel knows all too well, they are not easy to escape. And now they’re coming after him too. The battle lines are drawn: ruthless power and corruption on one side, and on the other…shibumi.

Since I drive a Volvo, I’d rather we didn’t encourage that type of behaviour but this sounds like a different book to my usual fare so I’ll add it to the pile. So, we’ve been drinking all evening. What is your failsafe plan to avoid a hangover and your go-to cure if you do end up with one?

For me, the best way to avoid a hangover is to not drink all evening. But if I’m going to drink, I tend to pace it and have the occasional glass of water to break things up a bit.

And if I do get a hangover, there isn’t really a cure that works. I just spend all the next day moaning about how bad I feel.

After our fabulous night out, what would be your ideal way to spend the rest of a perfect weekend?

Assuming I haven’t got a hangover, then my preference is for an active weekend. I often sail at weekends between March and October, and getting out on the water and feeling the wind is a great way to remind yourself you’re alive. If time permits, going for a good walk or bike ride helps to blow the cobwebs away, though I’m quite happy to have some quiet time reading, and maybe a catch a movie at the cinema. (Though I might be being a little ambitious trying to do all of those things!)

Busy weekend, I hope it stays dry! Graeme, this has been a blast, thank you so much for joining me and best of luck with the writing.

Graeme’s novel, Raven’s Gathering is out now and you can get a copy here. If you would like to read my review of this excellent book, you can find it here.

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As she let her gaze drift around her, she saw that there were more birds. Perhaps a dozen or so, perched among the trees that stood on the edge of the clearing. And yet more were arriving, swooping down through the gap overhead and landing on branches that overlooked them. The birds weren’t threatening, yet the sight of them all coming together in this dark and isolated spot was unnerving. Tanya reached a hand out towards Martin, and was relieved to feel him take it. She felt him move in behind her. After the uncertainty she’d experienced with him in a similar position only a few moments ago, she recognised the irony of her reaction. His closeness offered security.
“You know what they are, don’t you?”

A stranger’s arrival in a small village coincides with a tragic accident. For the Gates family, in particular, it’s more than a coincidence, but unease increases following a brutal attack. As tensions rise, a dark past returns to haunt them and others, while newcomers to the village are drawn into a mystery with terrifying consequences.

And only a select few know why the ravens are gathering.

Graeme Cumming has spent most of his life immersed in fiction – books, TV and movies – turning to writing his own stories during his early teens.

He first realised he genuinely had some talent when he submitted a story to his English teacher, Christine Tubb, who raved about it.  The same story was published in the school magazine and spawned a series that was met with enthusiasm by readers.  Christine was subsequently overheard saying that if Graeme wasn’t a published author by the time he was 25, she’d eat her hat.  Sadly, she probably spent the next 25 years buying her groceries exclusively from milliners.  (Even more sadly, having left school with no clear direction in life, Graeme made no effort to keep in touch with any teachers, so has lost track of this source of great support and encouragement.)

Having allowed himself to be distracted (in no particular order) by girls, alcohol and rock concerts, Graeme spent little of his late teens and twenties writing.  A year-long burst of activity produced a first draft of a futuristic thriller, Beyond Salvage, which has since lain dormant, waiting for a significant edit.

With the onset of family life, opportunities to write became more limited (though it could be argued that he got his priorities wrong), until he reached his early forties, when he realised he hadn’t written anything for several years.  Deciding to become more focused, since then he has written regularly.

With his interests in story-telling sparked by an excessive amount of time sitting in front of a black and white television, his tastes are varied.  Influences ranged from the Irwin Allen shows (Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, Lost in Space, etc.) to ITC series (The Saint, The Champions, Randall and Hopkirk (deceased) and so many more), so the common theme was action and adventure, but crossed into territories including horror, fantasy and science fiction as well as crime and espionage.

This diverse interest in fiction continued with reading books and his discovery of the magical world of cinema.  As a result, his stories don’t always fall into a specific genre, but are always written as thrillers.

Graeme’s first novel, Ravens Gathering, was published in 2012, and has been warmly received.

When not writing, Graeme is an enthusiastic sailor (and, by default, swimmer), and enjoys off-road cycling and walking.  He is currently Education Director at Sheffield Speakers Club, although he lives in Robin Hood country.  Oh yes, and he reads (a lot) and still loves the cinema.

If you would like to find out more about Graeme and his books, connect with him on social media:

Facebook: Graeme Cumming
Next week, I will be joined for drinks by author Stephanie Bretherton so I hope you will pop back then.

Flowers Over The Inferno by Ilaria Tuti #BookReview #BlogTour (@Ilaria_Tuti) @wnbooks @gigicroft @orionbooks @Tr4cyF3nt0n #FlowersOverTheInferno #NetGalley

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An idyllic village in the alps.
A legacy of sin.
An evil lurking in the woods.

In a quiet village surrounded by the imposing Italian Alps, a series of brutal assaults take place.

Police inspector Teresa Battaglia is called in when the first body is found. Soon more victims are discovered – all horrifically mutilated – and when a new-born baby is kidnapped, Teresa’s investigation becomes a race against the clock.

But Teresa is also fighting a battle against her own body, weighed down by age and diabetes, and her mind, once invincible and now slowly gnawing away at her memory…

Delighted to be rounding off the blog tour today for Flowers Over The Inferno by Ilaria Tuti. my thanks to Tracy Fenton of Compulsive Readers for inviting me on to the tour and to Virginia Woolstencroft of Orion for my copy of the book which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.

This is the debut novel by Ilaria Tuti, and the first novel featuring Detective Teresa Battaglia, and I have to say it is impressive to see such a strong and unique novel coming from the pen of a brand new author. Everything about this book is accomplished and confident, you would be forgiven for believing that this is a writer who has been doing this for years.

There is so much to enjoy about this book if you are a fan of the Euro-crime genre. Firstly, and probably the strongest aspect of this book, are the main detective duo. Teresa Battaglia is a really refreshing change to the standard grumpy male or feisty, young, ambitious female detectives you find carrying these stories. A woman of middle years, not beautiful, not thrusting, not particularly stand out in any way except through her intellect, her dedication to her job and the devotion she inspires in her team. I absolutely loved her, and was willing to follow her through whatever ups and downs she might face throughout the novel. She is brutal and forthright in her opinions, no nonsense, dedicated. She has personal issues, health issues, issues with relationships, but battles all these quietly and with dignity to get the job done.

She also does not suffer fools gladly, which appears to be a problem when she gets a new, young, male wet-behind-the-ears inspector to add to her team. To begin with there is the usual chalk and cheese friction between the two, but this has the makings of a great partnership for future books and the two will find that their differences can be an asset, as they have lots to learn from each other.

There is a great supporting cast for this book, but these two carry the book, along with the third standout star of the novel, which is the setting. Forget Scandi-noir, here we have Italy as a back drop for the drama, but not the picturesque coastal towns of Amalfi or Sorrento or Portofino; not the glamorous cities of Rome or Venice or Florence; not the rural beauty of Tuscany or the Italian Lakes. This is the remote, forgotten, mountainous area on the Italian-Austrian border which very rarely has the literary spotlight shone upon it. This author, however, obviously has a great fondness for the region, she brings it vividly to life throughout the book, illuminating the forests, gorges, peaks, rivers and isolated villages making the landscape an integral part of the story, a character in its own right.

The setting of this book is what gives it its atmosphere, and that atmosphere is deeply claustrophobic and unsettling. This is a place cut off from the outside world to a large degree. They are insular, superstitious and extremely suspicious of outsiders. Protective of their community and any perceived external threat, they close ranks and shut out interlopers, protecting their secrets, even if that means protecting a serial killer from the police. This makes the investigation more complicated, and the diplomatic skills of Teresa Battaglia vital to crack the case. The area is sparsely populated, mountainous, heavily wooded, large areas unexplored or long forgotten. The intrusion of the modern world into this ancient wilderness, upsetting the dynamics unchanged for centuries, is one of the fascinating themes of the book and adds to the air of menace and threat.

The case itself is gruesome and deeply disturbing. It is hard to say too much about it without including any spoilers in the review, but there are links to unpleasant echoes of a unedifying era of the area’s past. Some aspects of the book are quite graphic and upsetting, but the plot is completely gripping from start to finish and the reader will find it very hard to break away from the story without finding out what happens. I am still thinking about the plot, even now the book is finished and I have moved on to my next read. There are some moral questions raised in the book that will get you thinking more deeply than is often the case in a standard crime novel, a deeper dimension to the narrative.

The book is written from a few different perspectives, in a variety of time periods, and through different mediums, such as diary entries. As it hops around quite a lot, I did find it tricky to keep up in places. Some of this was due to the way my review copy was formatted on my Kindle I think, but I do believe that this is one of those odd books that would be more easily and enjoyably read in physical format, rather than on an e-reader. Fortuitously, this is also a book where I would suggest that the story is worth the investment in an actual book. This was something new and different and interesting din would highly recommend it. A brave new voice in the crime genre.

Flowers Over The Inferno is out now and you can buy a copy here.

To follow the rest of the tour and read some alternative reviews of this book, check out the blogs on the poster below:

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About the Author

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ILARIA TUTI lives in Friuli, in the far north-eastern part of Italy. FLOWERS OVER THE INFERNO, her debut novel and the first book in the Teresa Battaglia trilogy, was a top 10 bestseller on publication and the biggest debut of 2018 in Italy. Rights for the novel have been sold in over 15 countries, making her one of the most internationally successful Italian authors of recent years.

Connect with Ilaria:

Twitter: @Ilaria_Tuti

The Ghostly Father by Sue Barnard #BookReview #BlogBlitz (@AuthorSusanB) @ocelotpress @RaRaResources #BookBirthday #TheGhostlyFather

The Ghostly Father Red

Delighted to be taking part today in the blog blitz to celebrate the book birthday of The Ghostly Father by Sue Barnard. My thanks to Rachel Gilbey of Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me to take part and to the author and publisher of the book for my  gifted copy, which I have reviewed honestly and impartially. Make sure you check out the details of how you can enter the giveaway to win a signed copy of the book further down the page.

The Ghostly Father

Was this what really happened to Romeo & Juliet?

Think you know the world’s most famous love story? Think again.What if the story of Romeo & Juliet really happened – but not quite in the way we’ve all been told?

This part-prequel, part-sequel to the original tale, told from the point of view of the Friar, tells how an ancient Italian manuscript reveals secrets and lies which have remained hidden for hundreds of years, and casts new doubts on the official story of Shakespeare’s famous star-crossed lovers.

If you love the Romeo & Juliet story but are disappointed with the way it ended, this is the book for you.

I’ve always had mixed feelings about sequels and prequels and retellings of my favourite stories when they aren’t done by the original author and I tend to avoid them. I’m always slightly worried that they won’t be quite as good and might spoil the story or the characters from my most beloved books for me. This happened to me when I saw the film version of Staying On by Paul Scott, a book I adore but could not read for years afterwards and, as they say, once bitten, twice shy. As a result I haven’t watched the film versions of My Sister’s Keeper or The Time Traveller’s Wife, the recent TV adaptation of Anne of Green Gables or read any other versions of Pride & Prejudice, Rebecca or Wuthering Heights.

You must be wondering by now what possessed me to pick up a book that is both a sequel and a prequel to one of the most beloved and enduring stories of all time, Romeo & Juliet. I can only assume it was a lapse in concentration. Or maybe it was fate because, despite any reservations I might have, I absolutely LOVED this book.

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I know, I’m as shocked as you are. After all I have said, I could not be happier that I picked this book up. I was gripped on the story from start to finish, I adored everything about it and it left me with a really happy feeling that this story exists in tandem with Shakespeare’s version. It has enhanced, rather than tainted, my love of the story and I am in awe of the author’s imagination.

It always fascinates me the way people’s minds work and what different individuals take from different stories and it was interesting to see what Sue has chosen to focus on from the original tale. This book is written almost wholly from the perspective of the friar, who is a secondary, though important, character in the original story. She has given him and rich, full and pivotal story all of his own which is fully realised and detailed in this book beautifully.

The setting of historical Venice and Verona is perfectly captured, and the author spares no detail of the societal hierarchy, clothing, manners, social norms, speech – it all feels authentic and roots the reader deeply in the setting and brings it to life. I loved the way she interwove quotes from Shakespeare’s play in to the text, together with quotes from the Franciscan Orders services and prayers. Being prose rather than dialogue and scene directions, Sue is able to give the characters more depth and personality perhaps than is possible in a play and can flesh out their inner thoughts, actions and motivations so we get a deeper understanding of what might be driving them (not to diss the Bard in any way, of course!) Like I said, this is a great spin on the original tale that enhanced my enjoyment of it and made me look at it from another perspective. It’s one of my favourite books of the year so far.

If you are a fan of Romeo & Juliet, I’m sure you will enjoy this book very much and I recommend you give it a whirl. This is the second prequel/sequel that I have read recently and loved, the other being Miss Marley by Vanessa Lafaye & Becca Mascull. It might be time for me to address my prejudices in this regard.

The Ghostly Father is out now and you can buy a copy here.

Giveaway

If you would like to be in with a chance of winning a signed copy of the book, please click on the Rafflecopter link below:

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*Terms and Conditions –UK entries welcome.  Please enter using the Rafflecopter box above.  The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then Rachel’s Random Resources reserves the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over.  Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

About the Author

Sue Barnard Author

Sue Barnard is a British novelist, editor and award-winning poet.  She was born in North Wales some time during the last millennium, but has spent most of her life in and around Manchester.  After graduating from Durham University she had a variety of office jobs before becoming a full-time parent.  If she had her way, the phrase “Non-Working Mother” would be banned from the English language.

Her mind is so warped that she has appeared on BBC TV’s Only Connect quiz show, and she has also compiled questions for BBC Radio 4’s fiendishly difficult Round Britain Quiz. This once caused one of her sons to describe her as “professionally weird.” The label has stuck. 

Sue speaks French like a Belgian, German like a schoolgirl, and Italian and Portuguese like an Englishwoman abroad.  She is also very interested in family history.  Her own background is far stranger than any work of fiction; she would write a book about it if she thought anybody would believe her.

Sue now lives in Cheshire, UK, with her extremely patient husband and a large collection of unfinished scribblings.  

Connect with Sue:

Website: http://broad-thoughts-from-a-home.blogspot.com

Facebook: Sue Barnard Author

Twitter: @AuthorSusanB

Instagram: @suebarnardauthor

 

Hunter’s Chase by Val Penny #BlogBlitz #GuestPost (@valeriepenny) @crookedcatbooks @LoveBooksGroup #LoveBooksGroupTours #HuntersChase #EdinburghCrimeMysteries #TartanNoir

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Some of you may remember that I reviewed this excellent book, Hunter’s Chase, by Val Penny last summer and really enjoyed it, so I am delighted that Kelly Lacey from Love Books Group Tours has invited me to take part in this blog blitz today to celebrate the book being available both in paperback and ebook format. I have a great guest post from Val to share with you and also a link further down to my original review of the book.

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Hunter by name – Hunter by nature: DI Hunter Wilson will not rest until Edinburgh is safe.

Detective Inspector Hunter Wilson knows there is a new supply of cocaine flooding his city, and he needs to find the source, but his attention is transferred to murder when a corpse is discovered in the grounds of a golf course.

Shortly after the post-mortem, Hunter witnesses a second murder, but that is not the end of the slaughter. With a young woman’s life also hanging in the balance, the last thing Hunter needs is a new man on his team: Detective Constable Tim Myerscough, the son of his nemesis, the former Chief Constable Sir Peter Myerscough.

Hunter’s perseverance and patience are put to the test time after time in this first novel in The Edinburgh Crime Mysteries series.

Guest Post by Val Penny

I am delighted to be visiting your blog today to chat about so many of the exciting events and opportunities 2018 offered me and my family.

            It was clear that 2018 would be an exciting one for our family, because my husband had learned last May that he had qualified, again, to represent his country in their International Fishing Team. This is his third Scottish Cap for his beloved fishing. We are all very proud of him.

            Imagine our happiness when our older daughter and her husband compounded our excitement by making us grandparents for the first time in April. Joy of joys! A beautiful baby girl. Of course, I have never seen a more beautiful baby nor one more fascinating. Time to get knitting.

            I also made a New Year Resolution this year. The first one I have made in many years, and it is one I have found very easy to keep. I resolved to read more books by authors with whose work I was not familiar. This has been a fabulous resolution. I have been thrilled by a historical romance, ‘Heart of Stone’ by John Jackson, spooked by the ghost story ‘Woman in Back’  by Susan Hill and intrigued by the mystery that is ‘The Silence’ by Katharine Johnson. The book that I have found most compelling book so far is the autobiography ‘Born a Crime’ by Trevor Noah. He is a South African comedian and presenter who grew up during the period of Apartheid. As the son of a black South African mother and a white Swiss father his tales of life as a child in his native country are fascinating.  This is the best resolution I have ever made.

            But the thrills of 2018 continued to roll in. My debut crime novel, the first in The Edinburgh Crime Mysteries series, was ‘Hunter’s Chase’. The book, set in Edinburgh was published by Crooked Cat Books on 02.02.2018. I was excited and nervous about that, in equal measure. So, when my publishers confirmed that they were accepting the second book in The Edinburgh Crime Mysteries series, ‘Hunter’s Revenge’, with a view to launching it on 09.09.2018, I really did not think things could be any better.

            I was wrong: in a good way, but I was wrong: things could and did get better when I was asked to lead a session on publicising your work at the prestigious Swanwick Writers’ Summer School in England in August. I have no doubt that the magic of Swanwick gave me the confidence to show ‘Hunter’s Chase’ to my publishers in the first place, so it will be a delight to be back.

            All in all, 2018 was an extraordinary year for me and my family.

            Believe it or not, 2019 looks like being even more exciting! The third book in my series The Edinburgh Crime Mysteries, Hunter’s Force, will be published by Crooked Cat Books on 03.03.2019 and I have been invited to Denver, Colorado to launch the book. It is my first international launch and I am thrilled. I hope the year ahead will be similarly exciting for you and all your readers.

Val, thank you so much for visiting my blog today, it was great to hear about your fantastic year in 2018 and I hope an equally great 2019 lies ahead.

If you would like to read my original review of Hunter’s Chase, you can find it here.

If you would like to get hold of a copy of this excellent book, you can find it here, where it is also available for free as part of the Kindle Unlimited program.

About the Author

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Val Penny is an American author living in SW Scotland. She has two adult daughters of whom she is justly proud and lives with her husband and two cats. She has a Law degree from Edinburgh University and her MSc from Napier University. She has had many jobs including hairdresser, waitress, lawyer, banker, azalea farmer and lecturer. However she has not yet achieved either of her childhood dreams of being a ballet dancer or owning a candy store. Until those dreams come true, she has turned her hand to writing poetry, short stories and novels. Her first crime novel, ‘Hunter’s Chase’ set in Edinburgh, Scotland was published by Crooked Cat Books on 02.02.2018. The sequel, ‘Hunter’s Revenge’ will be published on 09.09.2018.

Connect with Val:

Website: https://authorvalpenny.com

Facebook: Valerie Penny

Twitter: @valeriepenny

Instagram: @valerieepenny

Goodreads: Val Penny

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