book review · NetGalley · psychological suspense · tense · women's fiction

Book Review – The Stillwater Girls

The Stillwater Girls

by Minka Kent

Description:

Two sisters raised in fear are about to find out why in a chilling novel of psychological suspense from the author of The Thinnest Air.

Ignorant of civilization and cautioned against its evils, nineteen-year-old Wren and her two sisters, Sage and Evie, were raised in off-the-grid isolation in a primitive cabin in upstate New York. When the youngest grows gravely ill, their mother leaves with the child to get help from a nearby town. And they never return.

As months pass, hope vanishes. Supplies are low. Livestock are dying. A brutal winter is bearing down. Then comes the stranger. He claims to be looking for the girls’ mother, and he’s not leaving without them.

To escape, Wren and her sister must break the rule they’ve grown up with: never go beyond the forest.

Past the thicket of dread, they come upon a house on the other side of the pines. This is where Wren and Sage must confront something more chilling than the unknowable. They’ll discover what’s been hidden from them, what they’re running from, and the secrets that have left them in the dark their entire lives.

My review:

This book was recommended to me by a good friend who was raving about it, so I jumped on the bandwagon and got a copy for myself, only to hear from the same friend a few hours later – yes, hours – that the ending did not live up to expectations.

Argh! Was I about to waste my valuable reading time on something that would disappoint? A few other reviews – though definitely not all – said much the same thing. It didn’t bode well.

Still, I had the book already – it had to be worth checking it out for myself, after all, I might love it. My friend and I have disagreed over books in the past. (Though, to be fair, we’ve agreed more times than disagreed) Maybe this would be another one of those moments.

And you know what? For the first 75%, I abso-bloody-lutely loved this story. It was well-paced; I could totally empathise with the characters, they intrigued me – it was all good.

I felt for Wren and Sage, left alone in that cabin in the woods, where food was running out but not their hope that Mama and sister Evie would be back soon. When that knock on their door came, I was with them, hiding behind the couch, trembling. The plan wasn’t working out. It was time to leave. I so wanted Wren and Sage to find their mother and sister, and to see that maybe the world wasn’t as bad nor as scary as they’d been told.

Meanwhile, Nicolette and husband Brant lived a charmed life, endless travel opportunities led to recognition for Brant’s photographic career while Nic looked forward to them becoming foster parents after an emergency hysterectomy meant she couldn’t carry a child herself.

Unfortunately, a baby photo in Brant’s sock drawer, and several large withdrawals from her trust fund – without her knowledge – brought doubt to her door. Was Brant cheating? Did he have another family somewhere else?

There was tension every which way, and I raced through the book. It didn’t seem beyond the realms of possibility that the first house Wren and Sage came across belonged to Nic and Brant; and there was a logical reason for Nic to be at home when they knocked on her door. (She usually went to Florida for the winter, but had decided to confront Brant about the money instead)

As the truth came out about the Stillwater Darlings who lived in the cabin in the woods, living a life without electricity or modernity of any kind, it seemed only reasonable – and rather sweet – that Nic would want to help them.

And then came the moment that left me open-mouthed, where the facts of Nicolette’s past were revealed. My first thoughts were that the story had taken a shocking, fascinating and somewhat incredulous turn. While all the connections were finally made, it still left me baffled. Could that have happened? (I’m not going to share the details here in case you’d care to see for yourself) Everyone in Stillwater knew what had happened to Nicolette, including Brant, Cate, (her friend in Florida) and even her parents – and they all agreed to say nothing. Only Nicolette had no idea, no memory of what she’d done.

I loved the author’s writing, she drew me in with strong characters, all the emotional ups and downs you could wish for, and so much dramatic tension. I’ll definitely be checking out her other books. This would be perfect for #bookclubs as it certainly generates conversation. I love that in a book, and I’d recommend those curious enough to check it out for themselves.

My thanks to Netgalley and the author / publisher for a copy of this book; my review is made voluntarily.

As always,

blog blitz · historical fiction · interviews · medieval · romance

Mini Blog Blitz ‘n’ Interview – Reclaimed by her Rebel Knight

It’s Q&A time on the blog today with Jenni Fletcher,author of Reclaimed by Her Rebel Knight.

So, without further ado, let’s go …

Reclaimed by her Rebel Knight

by Jenni Fletcher

Married to a perfect stranger

Reunited with her warrior husband

When Constance inherited her father’s lands she had no choice but to marry cold-hearted Matthew Wintour. He left her for the battlefield without even a wedding night. Five years later Matthew has returned—a valiant knight! But Constance is no longer a frightened girl. And this time she must reach out to discover the honourable man behind the armour and what pleasures await them in the marriage bed…


Purchase Links

Amazon viewbook.at/RebelKnight

Kobo http://bit.ly/2FPYhIz

B&N http://bit.ly/2G08q6S

WHSmith http://bit.ly/2GvC3vM

Apple https://apple.co/2ZxLcfU


Author Bio

Jenni Fletcher is Scottish by birth, but now lives in Yorkshire where she writes Medieval, Roman, Victorian and Regency romance novels. She studied English at Cambridge and Hull University and now teaches Creative Writing at a small university in the north of England. Her favourite Jane Austen novel is Persuasion and her favourite Brontë is Anne. If she had to choose a romantic hero it would be John Thornton, but maybe thats just because she’s northern.

Social Media Links

https://twitter.com/JenniAuthor

https://www.facebook.com/JenniFletcherAuthor/

 

Giveaway to Win 3 x US Version PB copies of Reclaimed by Her Rebel Knight (Open INT)

*Terms and Conditions –Worldwide entries welcome.  Please enter using the Rafflecopter link below.  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.

RAFFLECOPTER LINK

1 Coffee or tea?

Tea first, then coffee mid-morning, then tea again for the rest of the day. Always with some kind of chocolate biscuit.

Chocolate biscuits? A women after my own heart!

2 How did you start writing?

I always wanted to be a writer, pretty much from the day I started reading, but I didn’t really know how to get started. So I read a lot of other books, started a few times and gave up, and then one day woke up with this idea for a Medieval story. I wrote the first 3 chapters and sent them off to Mills & Boon, who encouraged me to finish the rest so I did. That turned into my first book Married to Her Enemy. I’ve written nearly every day since!

I love the Medieval era! Kudos for writing every day – that’s dedication. 

3 Do you have any tips for aspiring writers?

Read everything you can, but also work out what genre you like reading the most because that’s probably what you’ll enjoy writing, too. It’s not easy so it really needs to be a labour of love. Also get a Fitbit or you’ll spend way too much time sitting and snacking at a desk.

Ha ha! I have a Fitbit – it’s in a drawer somewhere. Does that count? 

4 What is Reclaimed by Her Rebel Knight about?

It’s a Medieval story set in 1214 so just before the year of Magna Carta. There’s a bit of political intrigue involving King John, but it’s really a romance between an heiress and a soldier who were married when they were both young and then didn’t see each other for five years. There’s also a scheming father and a mystery involving Matthew’s former step-mother and some noisy seals!

You had me at Medieval, but the seals sold it! 

5 Who are your writing inspirations?

There are so many. One historical romance writer who’s an auto-buy for me is Mary Balogh. She really goes deep into the psychology of her characters – I love that! I’m also a big fan of Kate Furnivall and Tracy Borman.

6. What next?

I have a Victorian book, Miss Amelia’s Mistletoe Marquess, coming out in December and I’ve just finished a Regency romance all about biscuits (some romance, mostly biscuits), but right now I’m writing a Viking story set on the Isle of Skye. So I’m keeping busy.

Vikings! I’m in – getting the biscuits ready!

Thanks for having me! Jenni x

You’re most welcome. 

For more news and reviews, you know where to go:

As always,

blog tour · Greece · romance · women's fiction

Blog Tour ‘n’ Interview – The Summer House In Santorini

The Summer House in Santorini

One summer in Greece will change everything…

Anna’s running away. From a failed relationship, a dead-end career and a complicated family life.

On the island of Santorini, with its picturesque villas, blue-tiled roofs, and the turquoise waters of the Aegean lapping at the white sand beaches, Anna inherits a less-than-picturesque summer house from her estranged father. As she rebuilds the house, she rebuilds her life, uncovering family secrets along the way that change everything. She starts to fall for her little slice of paradise, as well as for gorgeous, charming Nikos.

Will Anna lose her heart in more ways than one?

Purchase Links:

UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Summer-House-Santorini-Samantha-Parks-ebook/dp/B07JHLMQFV

US – https://www.amazon.com/Summer-House-Santorini-Samantha-Parks-ebook/dp/B07JHLMQFV

Author Bio

Samantha Parks is the pen name of Sam Gale. Her pen name comes from her late grandmother Velma Hobbs nee Parks, who was one of Sam’s greatest role models. Sam was born in North Carolina but now resides in Bournemouth, UK with her husband Alex. She owns a successful marketing company and is enjoying her slow descent into “crazy plant lady” status.

Social Media Links

Twitter: https://twitter.com/samanthajgale

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/searchingforsamantha/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/samanthaparksauthor

Website/blog: https://www.samanthaparks.com/

  1. Tell me about your book / series? What do you want readers to most remember after reading it/them?

The Summer House in Santorini is an escapist beach read about a young gallery assistant named Anna whose life is upended when her estranged father leaves her a house in Greece when he dies. While she’s there, she falls in love with the island and the people who love it, especially one handsome young man named Nikos.

The most important thing for me about the book is that it makes people happy. That they are rooting for the characters, and the ending leaves them satisfied whether they want Anna and Nikos to get their happily ever after or they would rather Anna prioritize her career.

With Santorini as a backdrop, this is a perfect summer read – happiness guaranteed! 

  1. Does writing energize or exhaust you?

BOTH. When I have an idea, I feel like I could go all night until it’s done, and I feel excited afterward. But because I’m an excited writer, I end up physically exhausted. My shoulders ache, my eyes are tired, and I never get a better night’s sleep than I do after a marathon writing session.

  1. Have you ever got reader’s block? What’s your favourite genre to read?

All the time! I will read four books in a week and then not pick up another book for months. It depends on my mood, but my general fav is high concept science fiction. If I need to bust a slump though, sometimes I’ll just go for YA romance because I know it will get me back in the groove.

  1. If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?

To let go of the need to feel intellectually superior. No one actually likes that person. It took me way too many years to figure this out, and I’m so much happier now that I have. Life is way more fun when you can appreciate both pop culture and classic literature, and not shame other people for not knowing things or for appreciating less intellectually stimulating material.

Wise words!

  1. What’s your favourite under-appreciated novel? Why?

I absolutely love Mary Jayne Baker. I edited her first novel The Honey Trap, which I found in a slush pile and HAD to have because it made me roll on the floor laughing. No book since has disappointed. She is a hilarious and prolific writer, and she writes a mean sex scene too, which is way harder than you might think.

I have to check her out. Thanks!

  1. Is there a famous novel you didn’t finish reading? Why?

SO MANY. I gave myself permission during college to leave “classics” unfinished. A place in the literary canon does not an engaging novel make, unfortunately. I’m looking at you, Don Quixote.

I  have a feeling you’re not alone in this. Just sayin’ 😉

  1. As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot/avatar/spirit animal?

I always say that my patronus should be a Golden Retriever. I just want people to be happy. I don’t care about being pretentious or seeming sophisticated or clever. If I can make someone smile or improve their day even a tiny bit, that makes me happier than anything else.

Aww! I can see your doggy smile from here!

  1. How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?

I have my next book that I’m working on, which is only about a quarter of the way through the first draft. I also have a third of a Christmas novel, two-thirds of a YA sci-fi novel and outlines for half a dozen more! Anytime I have an idea, I try to plan out as much as possible while I’m feeling inspired so that I have more to come back to later.

Sounds like you have a lot of writing ahead. What fun!

  1. What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?

I only do base-level research beforehand, but I do a lot of research along the way! I had never been to Santorini when I started this book, so I had to do loads of research, even down to walking the island on Google Street View so I could make sure I had landmarks and details correct.

Google Street View – That’s such a great idea! 

  1. How many hours a day do you write?

I’m a binger in everything in life: TV, sweets, reading… and writing is no exception. I’ll usually spend every free moment writing for a few days (sometimes up to 12 hours a day since I’m self employed) and then not again for a couple of weeks.

As long as you dedicate time to sweets, that sounds like a great plan. 

  1. What did you edit out of this book that you really wanted to keep? Will you reuse it at a later stage?

The relationship between Anna and her grandmother is a much smaller part of the final version than it was at the beginning, and it was that original relationship that inspired me to use my grandmother’s maiden name as my pen name. This story idea worked particularly well with that relationship, so I don’t foresee myself having a grandmother feature so prominently again, though I do plan to have some form of nod to her in every book. But never say never, I suppose! Maybe one down the line will have a main character who’s a grandmother!

Nice!

  1. How do you select the names of your characters?

Well, most of these characters were Greek, so I spoke to my Greek friend Evelyn for a lot of them! It was hard because I didn’t want them to be stereotypical names, and I didn’t want them to be the Greek equivalent of John Smith, but I also didn’t want them to be too obscure. The trouble with Greek names is that a lot of people are named things like Adonis or Aphrodite, and I didn’t want to use those because I was afraid English readers would think I was taking the piss.

For Anna’s name, I actually had named her Ellie Linton in my mind before I realised that’s the name of the protagonist from Tomorrow, When the War Began, which I love. I decided to keep the surname and go for a new first name, so it was just a matter of finding something that sounded good!

Names are tricky, aren’t they?

  1. Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with bad or good ones?

This is my first novel, but I imagine I will be reading all of them. Good ones will be thanked and appreciated, of course. For bad ones, I think it’s important to distinguish between someone who’s not your target reader and was always going to struggle with liking your book and someone who is your target reader yet still came away disappointed. The former should be ignored, but the latter present valuable learning moments. You can usually tell from the review which one is which.

Definitely. 

  1. What comes first for you, character or plot?

They both sort of happen simultaneously. I guess the first thing is usually a piece of the plot, but really more of a situation. A prompt, if you will. And then I ask myself, “what characters would find themselves in this situation?” Then the characters are fleshed out to the point where I can begin connecting the dots, and then more so as things come up in the story that need some background.

  1. What was your hardest scene to write? Why?

I really struggled with the climactic scene. I can’t tell you too much about it, but things don’t go too well for our lovebirds, and I struggled to figure out what Anna would say in response. You’ll have to let me know if you would react the same way.

  1. Do you Google yourself? What did you find that pleased you most?

No, but you’d better bet I just did! I just saw that Waterstones is offering a pre-order for the paperback, and I didn’t realise that, so I’m well chuffed now! Thank you for that, haha.

Well, there you go. Glad to have helped! Congrats. 

  1. What one thing would you give up to become a better writer?

I would probably give up most things. But the thing I probably should give up is excuses, because they’re the only thing that keeps me from being more productive.

But, excuses are real … nah, you’re right!

  1. Have any of your books been translated? If not, would you consider it?

This is my first novel, and so far no! But I would be honoured to have my book translated.

  1. If you could speak to any author – past or present – who would you like to meet and what would you ask them?

I would love to speak to Agatha Christie! Her books are so brilliant. Clever plots, great characters and masterful building and diffusing of tension. I would ask her about her planning process.

I’m with you on this. Agatha Christie’s stories are awesome. 

  1. What are you writing now?

I’m working on my next book, which is another beach read about a woman who splits up with her husband and goes on a journey to find herself, but despite her intentions it doesn’t end up anything like Eat Pray Love.

I like the sound of that. Good luck, and thanks for taking the time to answer my questions. 

For more news and reviews, here are the blog to follow:

As always,

blog tour · book review · historical fiction · NetGalley · WWII

Blog Tour ‘n’ Book Review – Victory for the East End Angels

Victory for the East End Angels

by Rosie Hendry

The war is almost over – and it’s up to the East End Angels to keep the home fires burning!

Frankie‘s fiance, a doctor, is away looking after the troops in Europe – will he return safely home?

Winnie has a happy secret – but can she carry on at Station 75 when she’s going to have a baby?

Bella is intrigued by her new friend, a Polish airman.

As the war ends and victory is in sight, what next for the girls of Station 75?

A gorgeously uplifting saga for fans of Ellie Dean and Donna Douglas

Purchase Links

UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Victory-East-Angels-Rosie-Hendry-ebook/dp/B07N6DVRD4

US – https://www.amazon.com/Victory-East-Angels-Rosie-Hendry-ebook/dp/B07N6DVRD4

 

Author Bio

Rosie Hendry lives by the sea in Norfolk with her husband, two children, chickens and a snake. She’s worked in a variety of jobs from fruit picking, waitressing, teaching and as a research scientist but has always loving reading and writing. Starting off writing short stories for women’s magazines, her stories have gradually become longer as her children have grown bigger.

Listening to her father’s tales of life during the Second World War sparked Rosie’s interest in this period and she’s especially intrigued by how women’s lives changed during the war years. She loves researching further, searching out gems of real-life events which inspire her writing.

When she’s not working, Rosie enjoys walking along the beach, reading and is grateful for the fact that her husband is a much better cook than her.

Websitewww.rosiehendry.com

Facebookhttps://www.facebook.com/RosieHendrybooks/

Twitterhttps://twitter.com/hendry_rosie

My Review

As per usual, I’m late to the party having jumped into this war-time series with the final book! Nonetheless, this was still such a great read, the author made it very easy to follow. I only wish I’d got involved sooner to experience the lives of Winnie, Frankie and Bella from the very beginning. I may just have to go back to the start just to satisfy my own curiosity.

It’s clear, as I meet these ladies for the first time, that they have formed an incredible bond, having faced many challenges together through their work at ambulance station 75. As peace beckons, there is – naturally – concern for their loved ones who are serving overseas; yet, there is also time to consider their future when the war finally ends.

Together, these young women have overcome the blitz, only for another wave of even greater terror to hit London in the form of the doodlebugs and the V2 rockets. And while they continue to help others, their own personal stories are told. These tales enrich the book since they reflect the very human aspect of real life, whether there’s a war going on or not. Clearly, their lives are in danger, their loved ones abroad are in constant peril, yet life has to go on.

Frankie still has to put up with her odious step-grandmother, Ivy, and never stops thinking of the day when evacuated Stanley can return home. Winnie continues to ignore her own parents – and for good reason – and bears a secret that she worries will force her to give up her job at the station. And Bella’s writing goes from strength to strength as she builds barrier to prevent being hurt again. For Rose, a later addition to the group (or so I gather), the search for her family carries on, but news is thin on the ground while she hopes for the best but fears the worst.

Meanwhile, back at station 75, there are a myriad of wonderful characters: the strict – yet understanding – Station Officer Violet Steele; Sparky, the news junkie and the wonderful Mrs Connelly who serves up such fantastic meals to the appreciate crew.

It’d be remiss of me not to mention Trixie, Winnie’s little pooch, who travels in the ambulance with her and who has been as much a member of the team as her human counterparts.

This is a heartwarming story, with the perfect mixture of joy and sadness, yet it is never without hope. I loved how at the end, each of their lives – despite having changed so dramatically – had been enriched by their experience. It was good to see Winnie telling her overbearing mother that she would make her own decisions about the birth of her child. For Frankie and her husband to go on to further help others who had lost everything was a lovely touch, and so very typical of them both. To see Bella get swept off her feet by her Polish airman and embrace love again was the best Happy Ever After we as readers could wish for her.

Rosie Hendry has created a fabulous WWII saga, with friendship and love at its core. Despite conflicts on the home front with errant family members, and conflicts caused by the war itself, these ladies showed the true spirit of the blitz – they weren’t always calm, but they certainly carried on with their job, with their lives and with their commitment to each other.

For more news and reviews:

 

As always,

book review · contemporary fiction · NetGalley · women's fiction

Book Review – After Melanie

After Melanie

by Gloria Goldreich

Can they start again, or will they lose one another forever?

David and Judith’s fragile marriage is threatened by the sudden death of their beloved thirteen-year-old daughter, Melanie. As they struggle to cope with their loss, they confront bewildering challenges. But instead of turning to each other, they find comfort with others.

David is drawn to Nancy, a colleague and single mother, and a survivor of her own personal tragedy, while Judith grows close to Jeffrey, a recently widowed physician whom she meets through her volunteer work at a thrift shop, itself the scene of multiple daily dramas. As their grief drives them further apart, does their future lie together ‘after Melanie’, or are they destined to lose one another for ever?

My Review

This is the first book I’ve read by Gloria Goldreich, and I have to say I love her writing style.  The story deals with the aftermath of their daughter’s death. There are no histrionics, it’s all very calm and collected as both parents – David and Judith – absorb their grief, unable to share their feelings with the one person who is going through the same thing.

Their unfinished sentences, ending with since … or before …, tug at the heartstrings as they struggle to vocalise Melanie’s death, unable to even say her name out loud.

They fell silent because silence was less dangerous than the intrusive words they might speak. By tacit consent, they retained the privacy of separate and secret sorrow. They did not want to break each other’s hearts.

That says it all, and it is that very silence that leads them on their different paths. Both befriend another who understands their grief: Nancy lost her husband suddenly while pregnant (albeit many years ago), and her mother has just died, while Jeffrey’s wife passed away leaving him alone in a grand house with his two daughters living across the country.

From the sidelines, their son, Brian, and his fiancée, Denise, watch in despair, not knowing how to help them.

Will Judith and David survive the grieving process without ruining their marriage? For a long time, it seems unlikely, despite their very obvious love for each other. When communication dies, can it be reclaimed?

It’s a compelling yet slow-paced read, emotional and thoughtful, gentle and insightful. I will definitely read more from this author, and wouldn’t hesitate in recommending this book to readers of contemporary women’s fiction.

Thank you to Net Galley and Severn House for an ARC of this novel, in exchange for my honest review.

 

As always,

blog tour · book review · must-read · spies · thriller

Blog Tour ‘n’ Book Review – The Kompromat Kill

 

The Kompromat Kill

They were preparing for decades – now it’s time to take them down.

When a British Diplomat is kidnapped in the heart of London, followed by a brutal double-assassination in Chelsea, MI5 braces for the threat of deep sleeper cells coming alive.

Hiding overseas with a price on his head, Sean Richardson is tasked to lead a deniable operation to hunt down and recruit an international model and spy. Moving across Asia Minor and Europe, Sean embarks on a dangerous journey tracking an Iranian spy ring who hold the keys to a set of consequences the British Intelligence Services would rather not entertain.

As Sean investigates deeper, he uncovers dark secrets from his past and a complex web of espionage spun from the hand of a global master spy. As he inches closer to the truth, the rules of the game change – and the nerve-wracking fate of many lives sits in his hands…….……..

Tense, absorbing, and insightful, The Kompromat Kill is a gripping thriller leaving
you breathless at the pace of intrigue, cleverly unravelled in a dramatic finale.

Purchase Links

UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B07QFSF44F

US – https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07QFSF44F

Author Bio 

I started climbing at 13, survived being lost in Snowdonia at 14, nearly drowned at 15, and then joined the Army at 16. Risk and adventure was built into my DNA and I feel very fortunate to have served the majority of my working career as an intelligence officer within Defence Intelligence, and as an explosive ordnance disposal officer and military surveyor within the Corps of Royal Engineers.

I was privileged to serve for twenty-eight years in the British Army as a soldier and officer, rising through the ranks to complete my service as a major. I served across the globe on numerous military operations as well as extensive travel and adventure on many major mountaineering and exploration expeditions that I led or was involved in.

I was awarded the Geographic Medal by the Royal Geographical Society for mountain exploration in 2003 and served on the screening committee of the Mount Everest Foundation charity for many years. It was humbling after so many years of service when I was awarded the MBE for services to counter-terrorism in 2007.

The Failsafe Query is my debut novel, with The Kompromat Kill, my second.

Social Media Links 

https://twitter.com/FailsafeQuery

https://www.facebook.com/thefailsafethrillers/

Giveaway to Win 5 copies of The Kompromat Kill (Open INT)

*Terms and Conditions –Worldwide entries welcome.  Please enter using the Rafflecopter link below. 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.

RAFFLECOPTER LINK

 

My Review

A thrilling read where you can really hear the clock ticking.

Having read The Failsafe Query, the book that introduced the world to Sean Richardson, there was no way I was going to miss out on this second book. As expected, The Kompromat Kill was another thrilling adventure, filled with spies, drama and danger at every turn.

I must admit to finding the story heavy on the technical detail in parts, much of which went over my head, and long episodes of backstory slowed the pace at times. However, that said, it soon became obvious that everything was there for a reason. I loved the link back to the 80s and Sean’s mother; that proved to be very clever plotting. In fact, despite so many twists and turns, the many subplots all came together really well.

Once I found myself in the thick of the story, it was fast-paced and tense, with unexpected twists and turns coming like rapid fire. The author’s own experience in this world, combined with the many timely modern-day references, made this all the more believable, all the more intriguing, and all the more scary.

As for the characters, well, that Jack fella had a finger in every pie going. I didn’t quite follow his tie-straightening obsession, but loved how he seemed to have an answer for everything – even when it didn’t seem possible. The relationship between Sean and Nadège was intense; two wounded souls looking for some justification to explain how they became the people they did. The team surrounding Sean made me think of The A Team, each was an expert in their field, and each had the others’ back. I guess I wanted it to end with: “I love it when a plan comes together”, instead I’ll settle for: “I love it when there’s another book to follow.” No pressure, Michael 😉

As a spy / political thriller, this was suspenseful and detailed, relevant and uncompromising. If you enjoy a nail-biting thrill ride with a cast of believable, clever, flawed and focused characters, then I’d recommend this in an instant.

For more news and reviews, here are the blogs to follow:

As always,

blog tour · book review · British · community · friendship · there's a dog

Blog Tour ‘n’ Book Review – The Dog-Walking Club (incl. an intl giveaway)

A book starring dogs? Of course, I had to review it!

The Dog-walking Club

by Liz Hinds

Every dog walk brings new drama into the lives of these dogs and their people. A supermarket shelf-stacker, a stay-at-home dad, an elderly widow and a freelance photographer sound an unlikely bunch of friends but they have one thing in common: they all walk their dogs in Beauville Park at roughly the same time each morning.

And that’s enough for Angela, bored organiser without a cause, to get them together to form the Dog-walking Club.For Jock the Scottie, Benji the spaniel, Pixie the boxer, Mitzi the poodle and Bassett the … all sorts, walking each day with their friends is a dream come true. And it changes the lives of widowed Sybil who’s spent a lifetime hiding her secret sorrow, hopeless-with-women Jon who’s wandering almost unwittingly into an affair, freelance photographer Jemma who is at every wedding but her own, and Maggi who is frantically trying to save money to visit her family in Australia.

And for long-suffering Angela a nasty shock turns into a new start in disguise for her and her husband – and their love life.

Purchase Links

UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Dog-walking-Club-Liz-Hinds/dp/1729286054

US – https://www.amazon.com/Dog-walking-Club-Liz-Hinds/dp/1729286054

Author Bio 

I’m a golden-retriever-loving granny, who enjoys walking by the sea or in the woods, who eats too much chocolate and gets over-excited when the Welsh team plays rugby.

Writing-wise, I am an experienced freelance writer – published in The Guardian, Christian Herald and various other magazines and newspapers – with an MA in Creative Writing (Trinity College, University of Wales). My short stories have been published in Cambrensis (the now sadly-defunct short story magazine of Wales) as well as in several anthologies including Mama’s Baby, Papa’s Maybe (Parthian) and Catwomen from Hell (Honno). I am also the author of several non-fiction books published by Hodder & Stoughton, Scripture Union and Kevin Mayhew.

I have self-published two novels, This Time Last Year, and The Dog-walking Club.

I enjoy speaking about my writing to various gatherings and the media, and am an active blogger, facebooker and tweeter.

My everyday blog: www.liz-and-harvey.blogspot.com

My writing blog: http://notanotherwannabewriter.blogspot.com/

Social Media Links –

Facebook @LizHinds99

Twitter @Liz_Hinds99

Pinterest Not Another Wannabe Writer

Giveaway to Win a set of reusable beeswax wraps, three metal straws with a carrying pouch and cleaner, and a face wipe, all in pretty doggy fabric (Open Internationally)

*Terms and Conditions –Worldwide entries welcome.  Please enter using the Rafflecopter link below. 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.

RAFFLECOPTER LINK

My Review

First up, isn’t that cover simply gorgeous? Let me say, the story is just as sweet. This really is a heartwarming story of the most unlikely friendships formed by a group of individuals who just happened to walk their dogs in the same park at the same time each day.

A truly gentle read that drew me in completely; relating to and caring for these people and their dogs was easy.

Now, don’t get me wrong, this story has so much more to offer than you might think. As different as the members of the club are, their common bond – their dogs – holds them together like glue. The friendships formed here span generations and class, yet none of that matters. What is important is that each one of them has a unique story to tell, and a unique dog to go with it.

Angela (originally seen as Lady Muck) and Mitzi the poodle were the founding members. Her affluent lifestyle took an about turn at Christmas, yet the new life she and husband Tony began brought them more riches than they could ever have hoped for.

The story of eighty-something Sybil and her elderly dog, Jock, left a lump in my throat as I read on misty-eyed when the inevitable happened. Although with constant, unquestioning group support, and a knack for making scrumptious cakes, she was never excluded. When she confided a secret past to Jon, little did she expect anything to come of it. She hadn’t reckoned on the group caring, let alone doing something about it. Aww!

Jon, house husband to Tilly and two daughters, is Benji’s human. Bogged down by domesticity, his head was turned at the school gates by a mum picking up her daughter. Looking for friendship, coffee mornings gave Jon something to look forward to, beyond doing the laundry and cooking. Poor Jon did have trouble reading the signs though. Oh dear! Luckily, Jon had others looking out for him when his home life looked threatened.

Maggi was saving all her wages from her job at the supermarket to visit her children in Australia; her dog, Bassett (all sorts of breeds, get it?) kept her company when she had no family close by to turn to. Bassett, known for an adventurous streak, never shied away from following his curiosity, getting into no end of mischief. It was Maggi kindness to a stranger that saw her later friendship with Bernard and his dog, Whisky develop. Their dating was adorable.

And finally, but no means least, there was Jemma and Pixie (the boxer on the cover) Her photography career blossomed with a never-ending demand for dog portraits, all borne from the very lovely idea she and Jon had to help Sybil get over Jock. As a single young woman, Jemma’s love life was a constant cause for concern for her meddling mother. Pixie was the catalyst in solving that situation, albeit leaving his mistress in a deep hole that required an airlift. Despite a broken leg, Jemma’s relationship with her rescuer, Claire was fated, with Pixie’s consent, of course.

All of human and canine life was in this story, along with very realistic funny incidents (speed-dating, Bassett’s adventure in the brambles in particular) and some heartbreaking confessions. But overall, I found here a genuine community of friends, looking out for each other through good times and bad. I’d happily take my two dogs to join this lovely group of people.

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cover reveal · series · speculative fiction

Double Cover Reveal – The Emerald Tablet Series

The Emerald Tablet Omnibus Edition;

three books in one. 

Shaun can’t shake the deep anger over his mother’s death. But when his father’s desperate actions release parasitic hell-beasts upon the world, he has a much bigger fight on his hands. 

Kevin hoped his country would be immune to the pandemic turning everyday people into psychopaths. But as his horror grows, an incredible new power could be the only thing that prevents Earth’s destruction. 

Sophia is terrified of God’s plan for her. Plagued by visions of planetary devastation, she prays she can reach her allies in time to save humanity. 

As doomsday approaches, can the teens accept their destiny in time to protect their world?

The Emerald Tablet: Omnibus is three books of dark speculative fiction in one. If you like brave teenage heroes, intriguing mystical connections, and apocalyptic international settings, then you’ll love JM Hart’s incredible collection. 

Buy The Emerald Tablet to unlock the adventure today! 

Purchase Links: 

Amazon

Other e-retailers

Reduced price for a limited time: $4.99 ebook only on Amazon 

Convergence

As doomsday approaches, can the teens accept their destiny in time to protect their world?

Seven special teens. A deadly ancient evil. Can they combine their unique powers and halt the infection before humanity is obliterated?

 Shaun is dying. The plane’s engine is failing.  Kevin must open a portal to catch the falling plane and save Shaun’s life.

Sophia is terrified of God’s plan for her. Plagued by visions of planetary devastation, she prays Shaun and Kevin can reach her in time to save humanity.

 Convergence book three in The Emerald Tablet Series

Purchase Links

For a limited time only book one, of the trilogy Shadows of Doubt is only  $1.00 on Amazon

Other e-retailers

Author Bio

JM Hart was born in Sydney, Australia and has been a storyteller from a young age, with a particular interest in horror and things that go bump in the night.  Favorite authors include Stephen King, Clive Barker, Dean Koontz, to name but a few.  After being told at the age of 11 that writing about dead bodies and newlyweds dying in a plane crash was unbecoming, JM’s life was instead directed towards bookkeeping and finance.

For the next twenty years, immersed in a point-of-sale advertising company, JM occasionally wrote advertising blurbs, learnt how to ride a motorcycle, taught color physiology to spiritual mediums, meditation and relaxation, studied Religions, Kabbalah, tarot cards, astrology, creative and professional writing, philosophy and volunteered at palliative care, and worked on the local church newsletter – not quite the appropriate outlet for a writer interested in the supernatural. And she became a grandmother.

Social Media Links – 

https://www.pinterest.com.au/jmhartwriter/ 

https://www.facebook.com/JM-Hart-Writer-208264706568204/ 

https://twitter.com/JMHartWriter 

https://www.instagram.com/jmhartwriter/

As always,

bestseller · blog tour · book review · chick-lit · romantic comedy · there's a dog

Blog Tour ‘n’ Book Review – Meet Me in Cockleberry Bay (incl. a giveaway)

Meet Me in Cockleberry Bay

by Nicola May

The cast of the runaway bestseller, The Corner Shop in Cockleberry Bay, are back – including Rosa, Josh, Mary, Jacob, Sheila, new mum Titch and, last but by no means least, Hot, the adorable dachshund.
Newly wed, and with her inherited corner shop successfully up and running, Rosa Smith seems to have all that anyone could wish for. But the course of true love never did run smooth and Rosa’s suspicions that her husband is having an affair have dire consequences.
Reaching rock bottom before she can climb back up to the top, fragile Rosa is forced to face her fears, addiction and jealousy head on.
With a selection of meddling locals still at large, a mystery fire and Titch’s frantic search for the real father of her sick baby, the second book in this enchanting series will take you on a further unpredictable journey of self-discovery.

Purchase links

UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Meet-Cockleberry-Bay-Nicola-May-ebook/dp/B07QXD334Y

UShttps://www.amazon.com/Meet-Cockleberry-Bay-Nicola-May-ebook/dp/B07QXD334Y

About Nicola May

Award winning author Nicola May lives in Ascot in Berkshire with her rescue cat Stanley. Her hobbies include watching films that involve a lot of swooning, crabbing in South Devon, eating flapjacks and enjoying a flutter on the horses. Inspired by her favourite authors Milly Johnson and Carole Matthews, Nicola writes what she describes as chicklit with a kick.
Follow Nicola May
Website – www.nicolamay.com
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/NicolaMayAuthor
Twitter – https://twitter.com/nicolamay1
Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/author_nicola/

Giveaway to Win a signed copy of The Corner Shop on Cockleberry Bay (Open INT)

*Terms and Conditions –Worldwide entries welcome. Please enter using the Rafflecopter link below. 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.

RAFFLECOPTER LINK

My Review

4/5 stars

This was a soap opera in story form – a whirlwind of a read covering many topics: birth, death, drunkards, falling off a cliff, a fire, a clairvoyant, a cheating husband – it all happened here … and more!

Rosa and Josh are now married, but his job in London keeps him away from Cockleberry Bay for much of the week, leaving Rosa to run her corner shop. Being apart does Rosa no favours, and her neuroses are offset by drinking far too much and possibly succumbing to the nefarious intentions of lustful Luke (I say possibly because she has no clue what actually happened). This is a step too far for Josh, who had asked her to stay away from Lucas, and he leaves for London while asking Rosa to get her act together.

I haven’t read the first book in the series, but had heard many great things about it. Whether not reading book one had an impact on my impression of the main character, Rosa, I couldn’t say for sure, but having read other reviews it seems it might have done. I’m not a fan of Rosa – I found her needy, whiny and reckless, and ready to blame everything she ever did wrong on someone else, usually her mother. I understand her background, she had a tough upbringing and all that, but so what? She wasn’t the only person alive to have issues, although from her behaviour you’d think she was unique. Meh, as I said – not a fan.

Luckily, there were many more characters that I absolutely did like. I loved Titch, for starters, and Jacob & Raff – in fact, most every other character. This felt like a proper community, a tight-knit group of friends and families who looked out for each other – of course, with the obvious “villains” of the peace over at The Ship – but even Lucas had some redeeming characteristics.

Naturally, I loved Hot – the hero saving the baby, and his shenanigans with Duchess should prove hilarious if there is a further book to come.

This was an easy book to dip in and out of as it felt quite episodic, much like a real TV soap opera but where the visual elements were beautifully defined, the humour was sharp and chuckle-worthy, and the feel-good factor came through in abundance.

Would I go back to Cockleberry Bay? That’s a yes from me. And I might just grab book one to see if I can get a better handle on Rosa 😉

More news and reviews can be found here:

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blog tour · crime · Giveaways · police procedural · series · thriller

Blog Tour – SLOW DRiP with Giveaway

SLOW DRiP

When a beautiful and highly intuitive small town police detective is presented with a third related murder, she tries to follow conventional police procedure, while the teenage boy who discovered the body possess clues of his own that may lead directly to the killer, a mysterious figure with seemingly advanced medical knowledge who like to torture his victims in a particular sick manner. Clues and taunts left by the killer along with the knowledge held by the teenager, cause the three characters to intersect in a dangerous game of cat and mouse.

Amazon US

https://www.amazon.com/SLOW-DRiP-First-heart-racing-thrillers-ebook/dp/B07N15Z57Z

Amazon UK

https://www.amazon.co.uk/SLOW-DRiP-First-heart-racing-thrillers-ebook/dp/B07N15Z57Z

Google Play https://play.google.com/store/books/details/Gary_Polisano_Slow_Drip?id=ZD2FDwAAQBAJ

Apple Books https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/slow-drip/id1450624212?mt=11

Barnes & Noble https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/slow-drip-gary-polisano/1130367137?ean=9781733648714

Kobo https://www.kobo.com/ww/en/ebook/slow-drip

Scribd https://www.scribd.com/book/398207685/Slow-Drip-First-in-a-series-of-heart-racing-thrillers

Odilo https://marketplace.odilo.us/opac/?id=02584946#recordCard

Bookmate https://bookmate.com/books/HhkTzCuh

24Symbols https://www.24symbols.com/book/english/gary-polisano/slow-drip—first-in-a-series-of-heart-racing-thrillers?id=3036174

Author Bio 

Originally from Los Angeles, California, earning an MBA in Business Management. Now, relocated to Northern Utah, Gary Polisano is a baseball fanatic and avid golfer. He currently works in the medical field of pain/spine management. SLOW DRiP is the FIRST in a murder/mystery series with an overtone of the paranormal.

Social Media Links –

WEBSITE – gpolisano.com

Twitter – @polisanoj

Instagram – garypolisano

LinkedIn – Gary Polisano

Facebook – gary j. Polisano – author

Giveaway – Win 7 paperback copies of Slow Drip (USA Only)

*Terms and Conditions –USA entries welcome, excluding Hawaii and Alaska.  Please enter using the Rafflecopter link below.  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.

RAFFLECOPTER LINK

 

For news and reviews, check out these amazing blogs:

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