Posted in Book Review, Crime, Mystery, Suspense, Thriller

Missing in Wales – Jenny O’Brien 4 * #Review @ScribblerJB @rararesources #Thriller #Crime #Wales #Blog Tour #Extract #PublicationDay

Missing in Wales, the first in an exciting new Welsh-set crime series by Jenny O’Brien, author of The Stepsister. The next in series, Stabbed in Wales, will be available soon. 

Alys is fine – don’t try to find us


Izzy Grant is haunted by the abduction of her newborn daughter five-years ago. When a postcard arrives from her missing partner, the man she believes is responsible, saying they’re fine and asking her not to try to find them, she knows she can’t give up hoping. Then she sees a face from her past. Grace Madden. Just where did she disappear to all those years ago? And is there a connection between her disappearance and that of her child?

DC Gabriella Darin recently transferred from Swansea, is brash, bolshie and dedicated. Something doesn’t fit with the case and she’s determined to find out just what happened all those years ago. 

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Extract – Missing In Wales – Jenny O’Brien

Chapter One.

Past

 ‘Be careful. It’s the first time you’ve been out with her by yourself.’

 ‘Give over nagging, Izzy. We’ll be fine, won’t we, gorgeous?’ Charlie said, bending on his haunches and gently running his finger down his daughter’s plump cheek, her dark blue eyes staring back at him. ‘We’re going to let your mammy have some rest while we go to the shops. It’s time we got better acquainted. I can tell you all about football and which team to support.’

‘You will not. Don’t listen, Alys. There’s only one football team worth supporting and it’s not his,’ Izzy teased, feeling redundant now that Charlie had stolen her attention.

This would be the first time they’d been apart since the birth and already she could feel the bonds of motherhood straining at the thought of Alys being out of her sight, even if it was only for half-an-hour. It had only taken a week for her world to shrink to the boundary walls of the house. But she’d never been happier.

 Her eyes grazed the pair of them and love-filled every corner. They needed this time, both of them and a few minutes alone after another interrupted night’s sleep would be like a gift from the gods. 

 ‘Now, what about a goodbye kiss from your pretty mam then?’ he said.

Pushing himself to standing, the car seat in the crook of his arm, he leaned in for a kiss reminiscent of the best Hollywood romances.

‘You daft thing,’ she laughed. But secretly she was pleased, more than pleased.

She watched as he reversed the Mini into the road and continued watching until they were out of sight before returning to the warmth of the house. She slipped off her shoes by the front door, fumbling into her slippers and heading for the kitchen. There was washing and ironing, not to mention food to prepare. There were so many things she knew she should be doing but she felt sick with tiredness. With a mug of tea in her hand, she returned to the sofa and, feet propped up on the end, rested back, allowing the silence envelop her.

There was always noise in the cottage. It wasn’t Charlie’s fault that he was one of those men you could hear long before you could see them: Charlie, her one-night-stand, who seemed to have taken up root in both her house and her heart. He was always clomping around the place with a heavy tread and if it wasn’t him, it was one of his mates he’d invited back for her to feed. The house suddenly felt empty with the pervading sound of silence.

She’d close her eyes; just for five minutes…they’d be back soon.

I received a copy of this book from the author in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

An atmospheric, emotional police procedural, with a refreshingly unique storyline, and a complex and interesting female detective.

Izzy’s story is tragic, and the chance for closure, has her contacting the police again, even though it will mean revisiting her painful past. This is a character-driven story, and the players are believable. Izzy is easy to empathise. The pacing is a little slow in the first third of the story but picks up as the plot twists start.

DC Darin has secrets, but good instincts and insight, which prove to be pivotal in solving the case. The ending is suspenseful, and though I did guess who the antagonist is, the clues are there, if you look, the ending’s impact resonates.

Definitely, a series I would like to read.

Jenny O’Brien was abandoned in Dublin at the tender age of 17 by her parents when they decided to move to Wales. It was only on the completion of her studies that she was finally able to join them. 
She’s an avid reader and book blogger in addition to being a RoNA book judge.
She writes for both children and adults with a new book coming out every six months or so. 
In her spare time, she can be found frowning at her wonky cakes and even wonkier breads. You’ll be pleased to note she won’t be entering Bake-Off. She’s also an all-year-round sea swimmer.
Jenny currently resides on the island of Guernsey with her husband, children and cats. She works as a nurse and writes in her spare time. 
Readers can find out more about Jenny from her blog Facebook Twitter

Giveaway to Win a signed copy of Missing In Wales and the chance to be a character in the next book STABBED IN WALES. ( UK only)

Giveaway Link

*Terms and Conditions –UK entries welcome.  Please enter using the Rafflecopter box 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.

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Posted in Author Interview, Blog Tour, Book Review, Historical Fiction, Saga

The Girl from the Corner Shop – Alrene Hughes @HoZ_Books @alrenehughes #WW2 #Manchester #BlogTour 5* #Review #AuthorInterview #WomenInWar

WW2 Manchester: Newlyweds Helen and Jim Harrison have big plans – to leave the family shop where Helen works and set up home together. But when Jim is tragically killed in an air raid, Helen is heartbroken, her life in ruins.

Battling grief and despair, Helen resolves to escape her domineering mother and rebuild her shattered world. Wartime Manchester is a dangerous place, besieged by crime and poverty. So when Helen joins the Women’s Auxiliary Police Corps, working with evacuees, the destitute and the vulnerable, she finds a renewed sense of purpose. She’s come a long way from her place behind the counter in the corner shop.

But there’s still something missing in her heart. Is Helen able to accept love and happiness and find the courage to change her life?

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Alrene Hughes – Author Interview

What are the inspirations behind this story?

I wanted to create a character – a young woman working in a corner shop – who has little belief in herself. When her circumstances change dramatically with the death of her husband, she is at her lowest ebb. The story twists when she joins the police, finding strength in helping others, especially women and children, and courage when she places herself in danger.

When you write what comes first the characters, the plot, or the setting?

I always know the wider setting, to begin with. In my first three novels, it was Belfast and my last two books have been set in Manchester. I’ve lived in both cities and I know the geography well but, more importantly, I have a sense of the atmosphere of the place and the character of the people. Almost at the same time, I focus on the main character, but it’s important as the story develops that she grows and changes with the events she experiences. As far as the plot is concerned, I don’t have a detailed story, just an idea to set it going and a possible ending with a few ideas in between. The detail comes when I’m immersed in the story. It’s almost as though the characters suggest what’s going to happen as it’s being written.

Do you draw your characters from real life, your imagination, or are they a mixture of both? How do you make your characters realistic?

They’re all bound up together, I think, but I never transfer a real person into a novel. It’s more like a Rubik’s cube, twisting a complex character into being. You aim for an authentic, believable person who is memorable, even if they only play a small part in the novel. Overall, I think dialogue is one of the best ways to make characters realistic.     

If you could live in any time period which would it be? Why?

As a writer of WW2 sagas/romances, I would love to spend a day or two in Belfast during the war, just to see the city as it was when my family lived through that period. I would have no desire to stay any longer because, through my research, I know full well the hardships they endured.

What made you decide to become a writer and why this does this genre appeal to you?

I began to write in my thirties and for over twenty years I wrote poetry and short stories. I didn’t have the time to write anything longer because I had children and I worked as an English teacher and Assistant Head. Eventually, I decided I would write a family saga set in WW2 based on the story of my mother and her sisters who were singers, like the Andrews Sisters, entertaining the troops. That novel ‘Martha’s Girls’ was a success and I went on to write a trilogy.

What sort of books do you enjoy reading and why?

I like books that are well written. If I’ve read 3-4 chapters and it hasn’t grabbed me, I don’t persevere.  I like historical novels, with elements of romance, and the occasional crime novel.

What are you currently writing?

I’m working on a third Manchester novel set in WW2. It’s the story of two sisters and their completely different experiences of war. The youngest is conscripted into the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force, where she is part of the exciting Parachute Training School. The older sister stays at home looking after their invalid mother, enduring the hardships of the home front.    

I received a copy of this book from Head of Zeus via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

This story focuses on women in WW2, how their lives changed, and how many were exposed to deprivation, uncertainty and violence. The writing is full of vivid historical details and believable characters, some you dislike passionately, but most you admire, and can empathise.

Helen is newly married, living and working at her mother’s corner shop in Manchester. After a tragedy, leaves her widowed, and she finally rebels against her controlling mother in the midst of her grief, she finds herself jobless and in a home, she can’t afford.

Offered a lifeline by her godmother, she finds that not everything is as it first appears. Her brush with the seedier side of life, makes her rethink, can she give something to society and fill her lonely hours? Joining the Women’s Auxiliary Police Corps seems an opportunity too good to miss.

Helen naivety is shortlived, and her compassion and courage make her an excellent police auxiliary. The story is interesting and full of emotion and historical insight that make this wartime saga a page-turner. The challenges for Helen and women in war are realistic and give this story its authenticity.

This is a compelling story with great characters and a lovely hesitant love story that gives the story its hope for the future.

Alrene Hughes grew up in Belfast and has lived in Manchester for most of her adult life. She worked for British Telecom and the BBC before training as an English teacher. After teaching for twenty years, she retired and now writes full-time. Facebook Twitter

Posted in Book Review, Family Drama, Historical Romance, Mystery, Romance

A Postcard From Italy – Alex Brown 4* #Review @HarperFiction @HarperCollinsUK @fictionpubteam @alexbrownbooks #Romance #Italy #WW2 #Mystery #SelfDiscovery #Carers #Family

Grace Quinn loves her job at Cohen’s Convenient Storage Company, finding occasional treasure in the forgotten units that customers have abandoned. Her inquisitive nature is piqued when a valuable art collection and a bundle of letters and diaries are found that date back to the 1930s.

Delving deeper, Grace uncovers the story of a young English woman, Connie Levine, who follows her heart to Italy at the end of the Second World war. The contents also offer up the hope of a new beginning for Grace, battling a broken heart and caring for her controlling mother.

Embarking on her own voyage of discovery, Grace’s search takes her to a powder pink villa on the cliff tops overlooking the Italian Riviera, but will she unravel the family secrets and betrayals that Connie tried so hard to overcome, and find love for herself?

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I received a copy of this book from Harper Collins UK – Harper Fiction via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts...

Grace needs to escape from her daily life, she has a broken heart, a controlling mother and a family who take her for granted, no wonder she enjoys her work, where she is appreciated. Finding some letters and treasures in a storage unit whose payments have lapsed, Grace finds a kindred spirit in Connie. She finds both, courage and solace whilst learning her story and tracking down her heirs.

There is a good mystery to solve, romance, but most of all a journey of self-discovery for Grace. The Italian scenes are vividly described and give the story added interest. The historical aspect of the story is well-written and shows the problems faced by women in the 1940s. There are obvious similarities between Connie and Grace’s stories, but some important differences too.

This is an emotion-driven story, you feel for both Connie and Grace as they are constrained by their circumstances, familial demands and society’s expectations.

There is a detailed epilogue, which draws the drama together well, and gives Grace the hopeful ending she deserves.

Posted in Book Review, Family Drama, Friendship, Literary Fiction, Mystery

4* #Review The First Time Lauren Pailing Died – Alyson Rudd @HQStories @allyrudd_times #LiteraryFiction #timeslip #love #grief #family #friends #mystery

Lauren Pailing is born in the sixties and a child of the seventies. She is thirteen years old the first time she dies.

Lauren Pailing is a teenager in the eighties, becomes a Londoner in the nineties. And each time she dies, new lives begin for the people who loved her – while Lauren enters a brand new life, too.

But in each of Lauren’s lives, a man called Peter Stanning disappears. And, in each of her lives, Lauren sets out to find him.

And so it is that every ending is also a beginning. And so it is that, with each new beginning, Peter Stanning inches closer to finally being found…

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I received a copy of this book from HQ via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

This story may not appeal to everyone. You have to be willing to accept the concept of parallel lives that exist but only come to your notice, if you act in a certain way. Lauren Paling as a young girl, sees snapshots of her other possible lives, she learns not to share these insights with others who don’t understand, but then she dies and the emotional rollercoaster journey begins.

In each life she is different, and although surrounded by those who love her, they may relate to her, in different ways. The stories explore, love friendship, relationships loss and grief in a poignant way.

Lauren is searching for a mystery man in each life, without knowing his significance to her, if any. This is a story that can be read more than once, and perhaps needs to be, to fully grasp everything it is about, but that might just be me?

The historical scene-setting is well done, I grew up in this time frame, and I enjoyed the mid to late 20th Century references. Each life has subtle differences to authenticate it to Lauren, as part of her struggles to accept her new present and forget what has gone before.

The plot is detailed and the characters are likeable and believable, despite the extraordinariness of the storyline. This has a uniqueness, because of its emotional content and characterisation, even though the parallel lives concept is often used in science- fiction literature.

If you enjoy variety in your reading and enjoy a lovely, out worldly story this is for you.

Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Domestic Thriller, Family Drama, Mystery, Romance, Suspense

The Dead Wife – Sue Fortin 5* #Review @HarperCollinsUK @HarperFiction @fictionpubteam @suefortin1 #Suspense #FamilyDrama #InvestigativeJournalist #DomesticThriller #PublicationDay @rararesources

SINCLAIR WIFE DEAD!  HUSBAND CLEARED! 

Police have ruled out suspicious circumstances in the investigation into the death of Elizabeth Sinclair, wife of charismatic entrepreneur Harry Sinclair, found drowned in the lake of the family’s holiday park.

It’s been two years since the Sinclair case closed but when reporter Steph Durham receives a tipoff that could give her the scoop of the year, she’s drawn deeper and deeper into the secretive Sinclair family.

Elizabeth’s death wasn’t a tragic accident. And the truth will come at a deadly price…

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I received a copy of this book from Harper Collins UK – Harper Fiction in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

You are thrown into the deep end from the beginning of this book, as you witness a personal tragedy. These scenes engender your empathy towards the victim. Is she as innocent as she seems?

Steph is the PR and journalist for a travel company based in the South of England. She has always wanted to be an investigative journalist, since her days of cub reporting in the North West, but things didn’t work out. The opportunity to review a new leisure venture in her home town is viewed with mixed emotions, but she needs the money. Her friend suggests she uses social media, to advertise her latest job, with a view to gaining further work. The interest she attracts is unexpected and leads her into a role she has always wanted, but at what cost?

The Lake District setting is always good for fiction. The beauty and danger of the landscape, the perfect foil for accidents, or even murder. The Sinclair family, practically own the town, and you are immediately wondering if their influence could cover up a murder? Steph’s estranged mother ran the initial police investigation and her deceased father worked for the Sinclairs, something that puts her at risk, even before she starts her investigation.

The suspense increases with every chapter, and the dual timeline, of Steph’s present-day investigation of Elizabeth’s death, and the historic revelations of Elizabeth’s life up to her demise, work well.

Only Steph and widower Harry are characters that you can empathise, even Elizabeth has her own agenda, and is not really likeable. The other two brothers Dominic and Owen are not attractive humans. One the dominant bully, the other weak, but manipulative. The clues are well hidden in the plot, disguised by the misinformation, but they are there. The ending is well-written, as the suspense reaches breaking-point.

This story keeps you on tenterhooks throughout, with authentic characters, a twisty plot and an unexpected end, it is an excellent domestic thriller.

Sue Fortin is an award-winning USA Today and an Amazon best-selling author, an international bestseller and has reached #1 in the Amazon UK Kindle chart. Sue writes mystery, suspense and romance, sometimes combining all three. 

Sue was born in Hertfordshire but had a nomadic childhood, moving often with her family, before eventually settling in West Sussex where she now lives with her husband, children and grandchildren. Facebook Page Twitter Instagram Website

Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Family Drama, Mystery

The Library of Lost and Found – Phaedra Patrick – 4* #Review #BlogTour @HQStories@phaedrapatrick #Family #Secrets #Fairytales #library#mystery

Librarian Martha Storm has always found it easier to connect with books than people, though not for lack of trying. She keeps careful lists of how to help others in her notebook. And yet, sometimes it feels like she’s invisible.

All of that changes when a mysterious book arrives on her doorstep. Inside, Martha finds a dedication written to her by her grandmother Zelda, who died under mysterious circumstances years earlier. When Martha discovers a clue within the book that her grandmother may still be alive, she becomes determined to discover the truth. As she delves deeper into Zelda’s past, she unwittingly reveals a family secret that will change her life forever.

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dav

I received a copy of this book from HQ in return for an honest review

My Thoughts…

Martha feels like a lot of us do, invisible to those around her, despite all her well-meaning efforts to be helpful, always putting others first. She is comfortable in the library, feels safe there. Books are easier to understand than people. The library setting is one that will appeal to most book lovers, it offers endless possibilities, just by opening the cover of one of the books.

Receiving a mysterious gift from her much loved, deceased grandmother Zelda, Martha is confused, but intrigued. Is there perhaps some mistake about Zelda’s death? She puts her fears aside and sets out to solve the mystery of the book, whose stories trigger memories of the past.

The story moves from present to past, illuminating Zelda’s life and Martha’s childhood. Martha journey to find the truth is emotional and empowering, she discovers a devastating family secret, but also learns that she is can do anything, as long as she believes in herself.

With vivid characters and a female lead who is easy to care about, this story enthrals and shows that there is a little magic, even in the ordinary. A lovely read for those who love to dream.

dav
Posted in Book Review, Cozy Mystery, Murder Mystery, Mystery

The Country Inn Mystery – Faith Martin 5* #Review @FaithMartin_Nov @JoffeBooks #MurderMystery #Crime #TheCotswolds

Jenny Starling is working at The Spindlewood Inn for the weekend. It’s hosting a Regency Extravaganza, involving historical costume, amateur dramatics and food. The leading actress of the amateur dramatic society and reputed man-eater Rachel Norman portrays a doomed noblewoman. But when she turns up actually drowned in the pond, there’s suddenly a murder to investigate.

There’s been plenty of trouble at the idyllic country inn. The performers weren’t a happy troupe, and Jenny discovers a simmering romantic tension. Who wanted Rachel dead and why? Jenny Starling is going to need all her wits to crack this complex case. This is the seventh in a series of enjoyable murder mysteries with a great cast of characters and baffling crimes which will keep you in suspense to the final page.

JENNY STARLING In her late twenties, Jenny Starling is an impressive woman. Physically, she stands at 6ft 1inch and has shoulder-length black hair and blue eyes. Curvaceous and sexy, she’s a modern single woman, living the lifestyle that suits her – that of a travelling cook. Her famous (and now very rich) father, is a ‘celebrity’ cook, divorced from Jenny’s mother. Jenny drives a disreputable cherry-red van and is happy travelling the country catering events and cooking great food. She is on a one-woman crusade to bring back ‘real’ food. And definitely doesn’t like having to divert her attention from achieving the perfect Dundee cake or creating a new sauce recipe by having to solve a murder. She finds crime very distracting, especially when there is chocolate to temper or pike to poach. Nevertheless, she is very good at reading people, and with a quick and agile brain, becomes very good at unmasking killers. And her always-undaunted sense of humour goes a long way in keeping her sane when all around her people are dropping like flies.

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I received a copy of this book from Joffe Books via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

Jenny is providing holiday relief for a friend at a Country Inn in the Cotswolds, the highlight of her visit is a Regency Extravaganza, where a select few from the local amateur dramatics society will be acting out a piece of local Regency scandal with a tragic end.

The clues for this one start early on, but are so well hidden that you don’t realise their significance until the end. There is slightly less emphasis on the cooking side of things, in this first time published Jenny Starling mystery. The focus is on the characters, mostly from Jenny’s point of view.

The characters are realistic and the tensions between individuals in the group of guests, and actors gradually revealed, but none seem relevant until an unfortunate incident occurs and someone dies. Is it suspicious or not? If it is, it appears to be a perfect crime, committed in plain sight of all.

The relationship between the investigating police officers and Jenny is less antagonist than usually the case, but her amateur sleuthing and astute observation skills make interesting reading.

An enjoyable book, with a well-described setting, enigmatic amateur detective and a twisty, absorbing plot.