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

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.

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

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

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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

 

The Secret to Falling in Love by Victoria Cooke #BookReview #BlogTour (@VictoriaCooke10) @HQDigitalUK @RaRaResources #Giveaway #RachelsRandomResources #TheSecretToFallingInLove

The Secret to Falling In Love

I’m really happy to be taking part today in the book birthday blog blitz for The Secret to Falling in Love by Victoria Cooke. Happy book birthday, Victoria! My thanks to Rachel Gilbey of Rachel’s Random Resources to inviting me to take part in the blitz and to the publisher for my gifted copy of the book, which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.

There is a chance to enter a giveaway further down the post, so make sure you enter.

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Lifestyle journalist and thirty-something singleton Melissa hashtags, insta’s and snapchats her supposedly fabulous life on every social media platform there is.

That is until she wakes up on her birthday, another year older and still alone, wondering if for all her internet dates, love really can be found online? The challenge: go technology free for a whole month!

Forced to confront the reality of her life without its perfect filters, Melissa knows she needs to make some changes. But when she bumps into not one, but two gorgeous men, without the use of an app, she believes there could be hope for love offline.

If only there was a way to choose the right guy for her…

This was a really great, fun, light-hearted read for an idle moment where you don’t want anything too taxing but still want a novel with great plot and enticing writing.

The main character of Melissa seems not to take life too seriously, at least as far as anything outside of work is concerned, until she hits her mid-thirties and starts to worry about being left on the shelf. This feeling isn’t helped by a mother desperate to marry her off to the next available bachelor she happens across!

Cue a modern-day hunt for love via dating sites, Tinder, set ups by friends and chance encounters in coffee shops, whilst Melissa tries to discover the best way to find a partner in the twenty-first century. Her search is further hampered when she forced to go analogue for a whole month for a magazine article, and her man-hunting means are severely depleted. How did people find love in the dark ages?

Victoria’s writing style is very direct and down to earth, as is the main character, Melissa, and I fell in love with both of them. Melissa is a modern woman after my own heart, the person you’d love to have a friend, confident and sassy but not immune to romance or loneliness. I think a lot of us will recognise some part of themselves in Melissa, which really helps emotionally involve the reader in the book. I really loved watching her fumbling along, trying out different ways to find love, knowing as I do that you can’t find it, it finds you when the moment is right (I am an old romantic at heart!)

Add in to this the fact that this book is absolutely hilarious, and it will be a big hit with most readers. There were so many parts where I actually laughed out loud and The Irishman kept asking me what I was laughing at. Some of it was down to the scrapes that Melissa got herself in, some was just Victoria’s excellent turn of phrase, but this book really made me chuckle, so if you fancy something that is going to make you crack a smile, this is the book for you.

The setting is mostly metropolitan Manchester, so good for anyone who enjoys a book which acknowledges that there are cities outside the capital, but also in a remote area of Scotland. Both areas are brought clearly to life and are integral to the story.

Were there any negatives? I found one of the characters a little cartoonish and the ending felt a little rushed, but these are minor quibbles. I really enjoyed this book from start to finish. It was funny, honest, interesting and believable, with a big dollop of romance. If anyone is looking for the perfect read for Valentine’s Day, look no further, here it is. Start dropping hints to you other half now. Would go perfectly with some pink prosecco and a nice box of chocolates.

The Secret to Falling in Love is out now and you can get a copy here.

Giveaway

The Secret to Falling In Love Giveaway Prize

Win an ARC of The Secret to Falling in Love and a box of Belgian Truffles (UK Only) by clicking 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

Victoria Cooke Image

Victoria Cooke grew up in the city of Manchester before crossing the Pennines in pursuit of a career in education. She now lives in Huddersfield with her husband and two young daughters and when she’s not at home writing by the fire with a cup of coffee in hand, she loves working out in the gym and travelling. Victoria was first published at the tender age of eight by her classroom teacher who saw potential in a six-page story about an invisible man. Since then she’s always had a passion for reading and writing, undertaking several writers’ courses before completing her first novel, ‘The Secret to Falling in Love,’ in 2016

Connect with Victoria:

Facebook: Victoria Cooke Author

Twitter: @VictoriaCooke10

Instagram: @victoriacookewriter

Summer on the Italian Lakes by Lucy Coleman #BookReview #BlogTour (@LucyColemanAuth) @Aria_Fiction @RaRaResources #RachelsRandomResources #Giveaway #SummerOnTheItalianLakes #NetGalley

The Writing Retreat on the Italian Lake

It is my turn on the tour today for this lovely summery-looking novel by Lucy Coleman, Summer on the Italian Lakes. My thanks to Rachel Gilbey of Rachel’s Random Resources for offering me a place on the tour and for Aria Fiction for my complimentary copy of the book via NetGalley, which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.

Make sure you scroll down below the review to enter the wonderful giveaway.

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Bestselling Brianna Middleton has won the hearts of millions of readers with her sweeping – and steamy – love stories. But the girl behind the typewriter is struggling… Not only does she have writer’s block, but she’s a world-famous romance author with zero romance in her own life.

So the opportunity to spend the summer teaching at a writer’s retreat in an idyllic villa on the shores of Lake Garda – owned by superstar author Arran Jamieson – could this be just the thing to fire up Brie’s writing – and romantic – mojo?

Brie’s sun-drenched Italian summer could be the beginning of this writer’s very own happy-ever-after…

Don’t you just want to dive in to this gorgeous scene? I know I do, I can feel the sunshine beaming out from cover and lifting the winter chill.

This is another lovely, warm book from Lucy Coleman, who is fast becoming one of my favourite authors. This time we are following author, Brianna Middleton, as she takes up the mantle of writing tutor on a summer retreat in the Italian Lakes, whilst considering her own writing path and lack of romantic life – since the heroines in her books have way more going on in the relationship department that she has. Will meeting handsome fellow author, Arran Jamieson kickstart her romantic mojo in more ways than one?

Lucy always writes really likeable and relatable protagonists and Brianna is no exception. She is shown from the beginning of the book to be an intelligent, ambitious but possible lonely, and definitely lost, woman that you can’t possibly help but feel for. She is very open and honest with the struggles she is having, and we start off with a clear picture of what is wrong in her life and that something definitely needs to change.

Cue a fortuitous opening at a writing retreat in a villa on the shores of Lake Garda run by military historian and author, Arran Jamieson, who has problems of his own. They share an agent, who is hoping that her two clients may be able to help each other out.

The author does a great job of portraying a beautiful, lakeside setting that will draw the reader right in to the heart of Lake Garda and its environs, touching every sense with her vivid descriptions and making you wish you were there as you discover the area through Brianna’s eyes. It is the perfect read for a chilly winter weekend and I could practically feel my levels of Vitamin D rising as I read and long to book an Italian escape of my own as soon as possible.

As a writer, I also found the insight into the whole writing process that the author depicts absolutely fascinating and it brought me even closer to the character. I don’t know how much of what is described actually reflects Lucy’s own process – I’m guessing quite a lot as it would be hard to describe someone else’s writing routine so vividly – but to get a glimpse in to how other authors might work is intriguing and inspiring (although some activities I’m assuming are pure imagination and NOT part of Lucy’s daily writing routine, or maybe they are!) Anyway, I think authors and wannabe authors will really find this book has an added dimension of interest for them.

The romantic arc develops rather rapidly, it did quite take my breath away how fast it moved, but this is such a heart-warming, fun, sunshine-y, positive read that it would be positively churlish to put forward any real criticism of this book. I thoroughly enjoyed it from start to finish – setting, characters, plot and themed. I can’t see that anyone who enjoys this type of book will not like it. Highly recommended.

Summer on the Italian Lakes is out now and you can buy a copy here.

Giveaway

Writing Retreat Prize

For your chance to win a chocolate dipping set, click on the Raffleopter link below:

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*Terms and Conditions –UK entries only.  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.

To follow the rest of the tour, please check out the marvellous blogs as detailed on the poster below:

Summer on the Italian Lakes Full Tour Banner

About the Author

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From interior designer to author, Linn B. Halton – who also writes under the pen name of Lucy Coleman – says ‘it’s been a fantastic journey!’

Linn is the bestselling author of more than a dozen novels and is excited to be writing for both Aria Fiction (Head of Zeus) and Harper Impulse (Harper Collins); she’s represented by Sara Keane of the Keane Kataria Literary Agency.

When she’s not writing, or spending time with the family, she’s either upcycling furniture or working in the garden.

Linn won the 2013 UK Festival of Romance: Innovation in Romantic Fiction award; her novels have been short-listed in the UK’s Festival of Romance and the eFestival of Words Book Awards.

Living in Coed Duon in the Welsh Valleys with her ‘rock’, Lawrence, and gorgeous Bengal cat Ziggy, she freely admits she’s an eternal romantic.

Linn is a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association and writes feel-good, uplifting novels about life, love and relationships.

Website: http://linnbhalton.co.uk

Facebook: Linn B Halton Author

Twitter: @LucyColemanAuth and @linnbhalton

 

 

Bones In The Nest by Helen Cadbury #BookReview @TheFictionCafe #FictionCafeBookClub #FictionCafeReadingChallenge2019 #amreading #bookbloggers #challenges

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The Chasebridge Killer is out; racial tension is rising and the mutilated body of a young Muslim man is found in the stairwell of a tower block in Doncaster. As he gets drawn into the case, Sean Denton’s family life and his police job become dangerously entwined. Meanwhile a young woman is trying to piece her life back together, but someone is out there; someone who will never let her forget what she’s done.

This is the second book I have chosen in the 2019 Reading Challenge for my online book club, The Fiction Cafe Book Club.  You can find details of what the challenge entails in this post. The second category is ‘A book set in the town in which you were born,‘ which in my case is Doncaster in South Yorkshire.

This is the second of the Sean Denton books I have read. I read the first, To Catch A Rabbit, which won a couple of awards, last year and enjoyed it and, in my opinion, this one is even better.

Sean Denton has now graduated from Police Community Support Officer to full police constable now, which gives him, and consequently the reader, a more central role in the investigation this time around. This investigation also centres around racial tensions, whether a person deserves a second chance after committing a horrendous crime, and a possible honour killing, so the topics are very current and relevant, even though this book is now a couple of years old. The author has also continued the aspects I really enjoyed from the first book, namely Sean’s family, work and romantic relationships, and the inclusion of these give him a real humanity which allows the reader to get close to him and become invested in his journey.

It is novel and interesting to have a very rooky investigator at the centre of a book of this nature, and there are certain aspects of his junior position that provide interesting plot points in the story, as he has to assert himself and find his place when manipulated by the hierarchy. He is a very warm, honest and likeable character that you can’t help but want to succeed. He also has certain disadvantages and divided loyalties to overcome – there is a lot going on in the book.

Although not a Doncaster native, the author did live in York and obviously knows and likes the Yorkshire folk and has a great grasp of the region. Although the main setting of the book, the Chasebridge estate, is fictional, there are a lot of allusions to real life areas of Doncaster and the town is depicted fairly and accurately but warmly and kindly in the book. I felt well disposed towards the author and her depiction of my birthplace having read it, despite it being rife with crime!

This book was a great read, pacy and entertaining with an enjoyable, gripping plot and interesting characters. I am looking forward to reading the third book in the series and think it is a great shame that we have lost an author who was clearly talented.

You can get a copy of Bones in the Nest by Helen Cadbury, here, along with the first book in the Sean Denton series, To Catch A Rabbit and book three, published posthumously, Race To The Kill.

About the Author

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Helen Cadbury was a British crime fiction author, poet and playwright, whose debut novel, To Catch a Rabbit, won the Northern Crime Award, was an Amazon Rising Star, and was chosen as one of the Yorkshire Post’s top novels, since the millennium, to reflect the region. It introduces Sean Denton, a young Police Community Support Officer, uncovering the murky truth behind the death of a trafficked young woman and the disappearance of a local man.

Her second novel, Bones in the Nest, follows Sean Denton back to the Chasebridge Estate, where racial tensions are rising and the notorious Chasebridge Killer has just been released from prison.

Before writing fiction Helen was an actor and teacher, including spending five years teaching in prisons. Sadly, Helen died in 2017 aged 52 after a battle with breast cancer.