The Rain Watcher by Tatiana de Rosnay #BookReview #BlogTour (@tatianaderosnay) @WorldEdBooks #TheRainWatcher

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It is raining non-stop over Paris.

The Malegarde family – split between France, London, and the US – is reunited for the first time in years. When Paul, a famous yet withdrawn arborist, suffers a stroke in the middle of his 70th birthday celebrations, his son Linden is stuck in a city that is undergoing a stunning natural disaster.

As the Seine bursts its banks and floods the streets, the family will have to fight to keep their unity as hidden fears and secrets also begin to rise.

In this profound and intense novel of love and redemption, De Rosnay demonstrates her wealth of skills both as an incredible storyteller and also as a connoisseur of the human soul.

I’m thrilled to be taking part today in the blog tour for The Rain Watcher by Tatiana de Rosnay. My thanks to Julia Forster for inviting me to take part in the tour and to the publisher for my copy of the book which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.

I warn you now that I am going to wax lyrical about this book because this has been a very special read for me, although I realise this book is not going to be to everyone’s tastes, as it is a book about human relationships first and foremost, told tenderly and luxuriously, so for those that like a fast-paced book, it is not going to be your cup of tea. However, if you are looking for something different that will reward you endlessly with wave after wave of emotion, look no further.

The book follows the Malegarde family as they reunite in Paris after a four-year separation to celebrate the seventieth birthday of the patriarch, Paul. With him are his wife, Lauren and his daughter, Tilia and son, Linden. Although on the surface, the family appear close and cordial, over the course of the book the disconnect between them all becomes obvious and the secrets they are all keeping from one another are slowly revealed.

This is a book about communication, and how a lack of it, a lack of honesty between us and those we love, prevents us from having the true depth of understanding and connection that will bring us closer and enriches our lives. How our fears of judgment and rejection by our family prevent us from revealing parts of ourselves which, whilst forming a fundamental part of who we are, we fear may be something that courts their disfavour or disappointment. but to avoid that risk, not only do we lose the potential for closeness and understanding that can enrich our lives, but we possible do them a disservice and deny ourselves years of joy and support we could otherwise have had. And no one is perfect.

The characters in this book are drawn beautifully, with real love and truth and I raced through it, despite the slow pace of the actual plot, because I wanted desperately to find out all I could about them and how their stories were going to end. I feared the foreshadowing I saw of potentially sad events to come, so gripped was I by the dramas of this family, and was moved beyond words by how the story unfolded. I read this book over the course of one day, unable to put it down, which goes to prove you don’t need explosions and car chases and duplicity and twists to make a compelling novel, just beautiful and truthful writing done exceptionally well.

The story is set against the back drop of catastrophic flooding in Paris, and the descriptions of the devastation and hardship were compelling and eye-opening, and an interesting story in their own right. The parallels the author was trying to draw between this and the upheaval going on in the Malegarde family were rather lost on me and didn’t really add to the story, but did not take from it either, so I would not highlight this as a negative in the book. This is obviously a love letter and a lament for a city that the author loves, and I think this came through in the writing.

This is a beautiful, moving, poetic and lyrical story of one family and its struggle for closeness and authenticity. I absolutely loved it, it will haunt me for a while now I know and I will pick it up again. I cannot recommend it highly enough. A true gem.

The Rain Watcher is out now and you can buy a copy here.

To get some alternative viewpoints of the book, please do read the reviews by the other wonderful bloggers on the tour, as detailed on the poster below:

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About the Author

Tatiana de Rosnay credit Charlotte Jolly de Rosnay

Tatiana de Rosnay, of English, French, and Russian descent, was born in 1961, in Neuilly-sur-Seine, and raised in Boston and Paris. After studying literature in England at the University of East Anglia, Tatiana worked in Paris as a reporter for Vanity FairPsychologies Magazine, and ELLE. She has published twelve novels in French and three in English including New York Times bestseller Sarah’s Key, which sold over eleven million copies worldwide, and was made into a film starring Kristin Scott Thomas in 2010. Her books have been published in 42 countries and in 2011 she was listed by Le Figaro as the fifth most-read French author worldwide.
Connect with Tatiana:
Instagram: @tatianaderosnay
Pinterest: tatianaderosnay

Killing State by Judith O’Reilly #BookReview #BlogTour (@judithoreilly) @HoZ_Books @LoveBooksGroup #LoveBooksGroupTours #KillingState

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I am really excited to be on the blog tour today for Killing State, the new thriller by Judith O’Reilly. I have been a huge fan of Judith’s non-fiction writing, so I was eager to see what she would produce when she turned to fiction. It was not what I expected, I can tell you! My thanks to Kelly Lacey at Love Books Group Tours for inviting me to take part and to Head of Zeus for my copy of the book, which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.

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WHAT IF THE PERSON YOU’RE ORDERED TO KILL IS THE WOMAN YOU WANT TO PROTECT?

Michael North, assassin and spy-for-hire, is very good at killing bad guys. But what happens when his shadowy bosses at the dark heart of the post-Brexit British government, order him to kill an innocent woman and North can’t bring himself to do it?

The woman is a rising political star, Honor Jones, MP.  She has started asking dangerous questions about the powerful men running her country. The trouble is, Honour doesn’t know when to stop. And, now that he’s met her, neither does North…

Well, this book has it all going on! Right from the opening pages, the action never lets up for a second and we find ourselves in a labyrinth of cross and double-cross, people switching sides in the blink of an eye, assassinations, explosions, fights, intrigue, paranoia, shadowy organisations and political machinations (do those of you who grew up with Blackadder always want to finish that phrase with ‘of the evil Pitt. Lord Baldrick’ or is that just me? Blackadder the Third, Episode 1: Dish and Dishonesty, in case you were wondering.)

The main character here is ex-soldier, Michael North, a man damaged both physically (a bullet lodged in his brain) and mentally who is now working as an assassin for a shadowy political organisation that has him getting rid (in the most permanent sense of the word) of people they believe threaten the security of the country and he does this without question until he is instructed to kill MP Honor Jones. Something about her makes him question his mission, and then everything changes for him and he begins to wonder if he might be on the wrong side after all.

The action then takes off at a cracking pace and doesn’t let up until the shocking climax which will take your breath away so you had better buckle in as you are in for a bumpy, wild ride through the book. The book involves a feisty teenage cyber-genius, thugs on both sides, prisoners of war, blackmail, storms at sea and a million other excitements. It reminded me of every Mission Impossible, Tom Clancy and Jason Bourne thriller I have seen all mashed together in an explosion of events. At times it was quite hard to keep up with what is going on because everything is happening so quickly and the action bounces around between characters and settings, so you need to pay attention. It is also a big book and requires and investment of time and attention but, if you are fans of action and poetical thrillers by the likes of James Patterson and Lee Child, you will enjoy this novel.

Michael North is a grizzled, damaged but sympathetic action hero in the best traditions of the genre and there are enough surprises and take-your-breath-away moments to hold the tension. A rip-roaring read. A sequel is already planned for release later in the year so, if you enjoy this, there is more to come. Watch this space.

Killing State is out now in hardback and ebook formats and will be available in paperback on 11 July. You can buy a copy here.

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

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About the Author

Judith

Judith O’Reilly is the author of Wife in the North, a top-three Sunday Times bestseller and BBC Radio 4 Book of the Week. Judith is a former political producer with BBC 2’s Newsnight and ITN’s Channel 4 News, and, when she isn’t writing novels, she writes for The Sunday Times.  Judith lives in Durham.

Connect with Judith:

Website: http://www.judithoreilly.com/p/home-page.html

Facebook: Judith O’Reilly

Twitter: @judithoreilly

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She’s Mine by Claire Lewis #BlogTour #Extract (@CSLewisWrites) @Aria_Fiction @HoZ_Books #NetGalley #ShesMine

She's Mine

She was never mine to lose…

When Scarlett falls asleep on a Caribbean beach she awakes to her worst nightmare – Katie is gone. With all fingers pointed to her Scarlett must risk everything to clear her name.

As Scarlett begins to unravel the complicated past of Katie’s mother she begins to think there’s more to Katie’s disappearance than meets the eye. But who would want to steal a child? And how did no-one see anything on the small island?

I’m very happy to be kicking off the blog tour today for She’s Mine by Claire Lewis. My thanks to Victoria Joss at Head of Zeus/Aria for my copy of the book and for allowing me to share the below extract from the book with you.

Extract

That’s the truth, but not the whole truth. What I don’t reveal to her is an incident that took place in Christina’s bedroom the week before we flew out to the British Leeward Isles. I don’t disclose it because the incident doesn’t put me in a good light either! On Tuesdays, Katie does a full day at kindergarten so I have a little time to myself. I’ve got into the habit of using Christina’s en-suite, luxurious, walk-in power shower and expensive beauty products following the weekly hot yoga class that I go to after dropping off Katie. So last Tuesday, I had just finished my shower and wrapped myself in Christina’s bathrobe when I heard her bedroom door opening and then the sound of her antique roll top desk being unlocked.

I thought she must have come back early from work for some reason. There was nothing else for it but to come clean (literally!) and apologise for taking the liberty of using her bathroom without asking first. So I took off her bathrobe, draped a towel around me and opened the door. But it wasn’t Christina. It was Damien with his back to me, checking the contents of the desk. Caught in the act. Hearing the catch he started and turned in alarm. He reddened but quickly composed himself and went on the offensive. 

‘What a vision of beauty!’ he sneered as I stood there, my wet hair dripping onto the carpet. ‘I didn’t realise you and Christina were so intimate.’

‘And I didn’t realise you made a habit of going through her private papers!’ I snapped back. I know very well that the desk, an old family heirloom shipped over from the UK, is a strictly no-go area that she keeps locked at all times. He just laughed and then cool as a cucumber, he slipped some documents into a green cardboard file under his arm, locked the desk, pocketed the key and marched out of the room.

‘Just mind your own business and keep out of our affairs. Or you’ll be going the same way as the previous nanny,’ was his parting shot.

I understood this was no idle threat. Christina’s so possessive and distrustful that I knew if she got wind of this brush with Damien, she would imagine the worst and I’d be out of a job. So I said nothing to Christina in New York and I say nothing to the police officer now as she converses with me in the hotel bedroom.

I decide to keep my suspicions about Damien to myself – for now.

*

For something that was supposed to have been a ‘friendly chat’ the questioning is intense. After asking about my relations with Christina and Damien she embarks on a list of questions clearly aimed at working out a timeline for my movements this afternoon. What time did I arrive at the beach with Katie? Did I speak to anyone? Did anyone approach me or Katie? Did I notice anyone watching her? What time did I fall asleep? What time did I wake up? When did I become aware Katie was missing? What did I do next? Did I see anyone on the beach when I was looking for her? How long did I spend searching the beach before raising the alarm? What time did I tell Christina her little girl was missing? 

My head is pounding and I feel like a criminal by the time the family liaison officer finally puts her notepad away.

‘These questions are nothing to worry about,’ she assures me. ‘We just need to establish the timeline for the disappearance of the little girl.’ She ends the conversation by encouraging me to contact her ‘any time, any place’ if I need support or if I ‘remember’ anything else that may be relevant to the investigation. I half expect her to clap me in handcuffs and announce that she’s putting me under arrest, when at last she says that I’m at liberty to go.

*

In a waking nightmare, we struggle on through the grief-stricken hours of the day making calls, badgering the search team for any new scrap of information and giving interviews to reporters in the belief that getting Katie’s story out there might somehow help in her rescue.

The worst moment comes just after midnight when the operation is called to a halt. I collapse onto a chair in a quivering heap. All the strength has gone from my legs. Christina appears distraught, begging members of the police and emergency services to go on searching. 

‘There’s nothing more we can do tonight. We’ll resume at dawn. You should get some sleep,’ says the commander sternly. Holding our despair at bay and unable to contemplate the thought of sleep, we pace the beaches and the rocky headland for the next two hours, tripping over stones in the darkness, our steps lit only by the moon and stars in the cloudless black sky and the light from our mobile phones. 

I am lightheaded with exhaustion by the time I accompany Christina to her room in the early hours of the morning. We sit out on the balcony mesmerised by the sound of waves rolling on to sand. We are too tired to speak. I make tea and give her three sleeping tablets from a packet I find in her wash bag. Once the tablets take effect, I steer her to bed, her expression vacant and confused, as she lets me pull the covers over her. It’s not until I shut Christina’s door and go down the corridor to the room I’m sharing with Katie that it strikes me again. Where the fuck is Damien? I haven’t seen him all day, not since he handed me the cocktail at the pool. 

When I open the door, there is Katie’s blue bunny, propped up on her newly-made bed. The tears stream down my face. The bedtime story I was reading to her last night is still open at the page we got to when her eyes finally closed. It’s a beautifully illustrated copy of Peter Pan that Christina discovered in a quaint little bookshop called the Book Cellar, one of her favourite haunts for second-hand books. I glance down at the page. ‘The Mermaids’ Lagoon’ – Katie’s favourite chapter. She loves the colour illustrations of the mermaids diving in the waves. The doors to the balcony are open. I shiver in the sea breeze and step out through billowing curtains. 

I stand there for a few moments still clutching Katie’s bucket. 

Lost. Drowned.

If this extract has whetted your appetite to read the book, which I am sure it has, She’s Mine is out today and you can buy a copy here.

To follow the rest of the tour for alternative reviews and exciting articles, check out the poster below:

Blog Tour poster

About the Author

Claire S. Lewis

Claire Simone Lewis studied philosophy, French literature and international relations at the universities of Oxford and Cambridge before starting her career in aviation law with a City law firm and later as an in-house lawyer at Virgin Atlantic Airways.  More recently, she turned to writing psychological suspense, taking courses at the Faber Academy. She’s Mine is her first novel. Born in Paris, she’s bilingual and lives in Surrey with her family.

Connect with Claire:

Facebook: CS Lewis Writes

Twitter: @CSLewisWrites

The Two Hearts of Eliza Bloom by Beth Miller #BookReview #BlogTour (@drbethmiller) @bookouture @NetGalley #TheTwoHeartsOfElizaBloom #NetGalley #PublicationDay

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She followed her heart to change her life, but she didn’t realise how much she left behind…

Eliza Bloom has a list of rules: long, blue skirt on Thursdays, dinner with mother on Fridays, and never give your heart away to the wrong person. Nothing is out of place in her ordered life…

Then she met someone who she was never supposed to speak to. And he introduced her to a whole world of new lists:
New foods to try – oysters and sushi
Great movies to watch – Bambi and Some Like It Hot
Things I love about Eliza Bloom

Eliza left everything she knew behind for him, but sometimes love just isn’t enough. Especially when he opens a hidden shoebox and starts asking a lot of questions about her past life. As the walls Eliza has carefully constructed threaten to come crashing down, will she find a way to keep hold of everyone she loves, and maybe, just maybe, bring the two sides of her heart together at last?

Oh, I am so VERY happy to be kicking off the blog tour on publication day for this most marvellous book! Happy Publication Day, Beth. The hugest thanks to Kim Nash at Bookouture for giving me a place on the tour and for my gifted copy of the book, which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.

The blurb of this book doesn’t really give you a clue what to expect between the covers and gives very little hint of the main plot device of the novel, so it is going to be quite difficult to write a comprehensive, spoiler-free review. Still, I’m up for a challenge so let’s give it a go.

This is a ‘two worlds collide, fish out of water’ story about a couple falling in love from opposites sides of a divide that throws up a multitude of problems in their relationship. If you scout other reviews, you will probably find out what the differences are that divide them without reading the book, but I think that will be a shame for you and I would advise you going into the book naively and discover the secret for yourself as you read. For me, it was really eye-opening, as the world Eliza comes from is one that I know nothing about, and learning about the conventions and rules of the society in which she lives was fascinating and humbling; I’m embarrassed that I have never taken the time to learn more about it before.

However, aside from the particular issues Eliza’s background presents to the relationship, there is a lot in this story that rings true for anyone who has ever been in a relationship, especially one that has been entered into at a young age when, whilst we might feel we are adults, we are largely unformed and uninformed as people, and we are making life-changing decisions joining ourselves to other people when we don’t really know who we are ourselves. Through the book, the author explores all kinds of relationships that shape all of our lives, not just romantic ones. The bonds of family – spouses, parents, children, siblings, friends, extended family, wider community- their needs, expectations, ideologies, personalities, dynamics, all of these things affect each of us in different ways and impact our behaviour and decisions and part of life is learning where we fit, how to manage these things, when we should comply, when we should rebel, what is important and what isn’t. The arts of empathy, understanding and compromise are something we all need to learn, whoever we are and wherever we come from.

The author writes with sensitivity, warmth and approachability. Her characters felt so real to me, even though the world she is writing about is so alien in many ways, I was totally drawn in. The main character, Eliza, could be me, you, or any of us because, as humans, we have more similarities than we have differences, no matter who we are or where we come from, if we choose to see them and focus on them, rather than our differences. Given some of the current things going on in the world today, I think this message is an extremely relevant and important one to be getting out there, and this book does it beautifully.

This is a gorgeous story, the writing pulls you through with ease and pleasure. There was nothing but joy in the reading of it for me, and I cannot recommend it highly enough. Pretty close to reading perfection.

The Two Hearts of Eliza Bloom is out today and you can get a copy here.

To read some alternative reviews of the book, please do follow the tour as detailed below:

Two Hearts - Blog Tour

About the Author

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Beth Miller is the author of two novels and two non-fiction titles, including For the Love of The Archers. She has worked as a sexual health trainer, a journalist and a psychology lecturer and is now a mentor and book coach. Beth is a member of the Prime Writers, has a PhD in Psychology, and is a world class drinker of tea.

Connect with Beth:

Website: https://www.bethmiller.co.uk

Facebook: Beth Miller Author

Twitter: @drbethmiller

 

Inceptio by Alison Morton #BlogTour #GuestPost (@alison_morton) @PulcheriaPress @annecater #RandomThingsTours #RomaNovaSeries

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New Yorker Karen Brown is caught in a tangle of hot foreign agents, vicious maniacs and tough families. Running for her life, she flees into the alien culture of Roma Nova, the mysterious last outpost of the Roman Empire in Europe. Apart from kidnapping, heartache and a close encounter with Latin grammar, she must contend with a fascinating but arrogant Praetorian special forces captain.

Plus a crazy killer wants to terminate her for a very personal reason.

Roma Nova is Karen’s dead mother’s homeland. Founded sixteen hundred years ago by Roman exiles and now ruled by women, it gives her safety, a lover and a ready-made family – but at a price. And the enforcer is still pursing hers her. Desperate to find out why he is hunting her so viciously and unable to rely on anybody else, she undergoes intensive training, develops fighting skills and becomes an undercover cop. But crazy with bitterness at his past failures, the enforcer sets a trap for her, knowing she has no choice but to spring it.

I am delighted to be kicking off the blog tour today for Inceptio by Alison Morton, book one in the Roma Nova series of thrillers featuring Carina Mitela. My thanks to Anne Cater of Random Things Tours for inviting me to take part in the tour and to the author for featuring on the blog today with a fascinating guest post.

Now it’s over to Alison to tell us more about her writing process for Inceptio.

Writing ‘alternatively’

An avid reader of spy, thriller and crime stories from childhood and a life-long devotee of all things Roman, I yearned to write a Roman thriller with a true-hearted heroine imbued with Roman virtue but a tendency to go off-piste. But I wanted women to run this New Rome. There was only one solution:  I brought it up to the 21st century.

When I produced my first manuscript, I didn’t know I was writing in a genre called alternative history (“althist” for short). I was inspired by Robert Harris’s Fatherland, a tense, shocking and beautifully written thriller with a heart-wrenching ‘secret’. Twisting history was allowed and used by acclaimed writers! 

Of course, a thriller must be exciting, intriguing and full of emotional punch, but althist stories have their own ‘rules’. The most important are to identify the moment where history as we know it veers off onto a different path forever, and to weave into the story how the alternative timeline has developed since. 

How to do this

1. Make the point of divergence logical. It doesn’t have to be a single grand event like a battle or assassination; it can be a private incident, or a new law passed. My first four books are set in 21st century Roma Nova, but the country’s origins stretch back to AD 395 when the Christian Roman emperor Theodosius banned all pagan religions on pain of death. This sparked the trek north by twelve families to found Roma Nova.

2. Research the divergence point. You have to know your own timeline history before attempting to “alternate” it. Roman civilisation lasted over 1,200 years; things were significantly different in AD 395 from how they had been in 200BC. Serstertii, the classic silver Roman coin, had been replaced by AD 395 by the gold solidus as the standard unit, so my 21st century Roma Novans use solidi but as notes, debit cards and via internet banking as well as coins.

3. Reinforce the divergence point story. People often refer back to a significant event, e.g. “the war”, in their country’s history. Roma Novans are no different and often quote the courage of how their ancestors trekked north out of Italy sixteen centuries ago to find their new home.

4. Steal from the historic record. In my books, I reach back and pluck the Praetorian Guard forward into the 21st century. Not only does this build on the image of toughness, a dash of ruthlessness and a sense of duty and glamour that we may already have, but it also anchors them as Romans guarding the ruler and the state. Sadly, like their historical counterparts, modern Praetorians can become corrupt and plot against the state – a gift for a writer! 

5. Think through the setting that has formed your characters. How do people make their living? How are they educated? What kind of industry and transport are there? Is the government representative? Are laws authoritarian, permissive and strictly enforced? What’s the food like? Are there markets, little shops, big chains? What’s growing in the fields, does the countryside consist of plains, valleys or mountains? And what’s the weather like? And the big question – who holds the power? You don’t need to mention any of this unless it impacts on the story, but you should have it all worked out in your head. 

6. Make sure your characters live naturally within their world. Your characters know where they live; this is their normality, so writers need to remember to view things through their characters’ eyes rather than their own. As The temptation to explain what is everyday to your characters should be resisted!  

The keys are plausibility and consistency. 

Almost every story hinges upon implausibility – a set-up or a problem the writer has purposefully created. Readers will engage with it and follow as long as the writer keeps their trust. 

One way to do this is to infuse, but not flood, the story with corroborative detail so that it verifies and reinforces the setting. Honey cake is more common than digestive biscuits – honey was important for the ancient Romans. We might call law officers ‘fuzz’, ‘the Old Bill’, ‘filth’ or ‘rozzers’, but the Roma Novan public call their police, the custodes, ‘scarabs’ – hard-shelled dung beetles having to deal with a lot of nasty stuff. But the custodes wear a dark blue uniforms and clamp flashing blue lights on the car roof when chasing the bad guys.

A vital way to connect to readers is to make sure characters display normal behaviour. Human beings of all ages and cultures have similar emotional needs, hurts and joys, often expressed differently, sometimes in an alienating or peculiar way. But romantic relationships, (whether painful, instant or intense), grief, friendship, impatience, fear, frustration and triumph are emotions that connect us all, whether reader or writer.

Thank you for sharing insights into the process of writing ‘althist’ today, Alison, it is absolutely fascinating to get a peek into the work and research that went in to writing the book.

If your curiosity has been piqued by this post, the resulting book, Inceptio is out now and you can buy a copy here.

To follow the rest of the tour, make sure you visit the blogs listed on the poster below on the relevant date:

Inceptio Blog Tour Poster

About the Author

Alison Morton Author Pic

Alison Morton writes the Roma Nova thriller series featuring modern Praetorian heroines. This springs from a deep love of Roman history, six years’ military service and a life of reading crime, adventure and thriller fiction.

All six full-length novels have received the BRAG Medallion. SUCCESSIO, AURELIA and INSURRECTIO were selected as Historical Novel Society’s Indie Editor’s Choices. AURELIA was a finalist in the 2016 HNS Indie Award. SUCCESSIO featured as Editor’s Choice in The Bookseller.

A ‘Roman nut’ since age 11, Alison has misspent decades clambering over Roman sites throughout Europe. She holds an MA History, blogs about Romans, social media and writing. Oh, and she gives talks.

She continues writing, cultivates a Roman herb garden and drinks wine in France with her husband. To get the latest news, subscribe to her free newsletter https://alison-morton.com/newsletter/

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Connect with Alison:

Website: https://alison-morton.com

Facebook: Alison Morton Author

Twitter: @alison_morton

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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

One Last Author Photo

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

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

Gap Years

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.

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About the Author

Gap Years - AuthorHeadShot

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