Posted in Author Guest Post, Blog Tour, Book Review, Crime, Family Drama, Friendship, Mystery, Noir

When The Time Comes Adele O'Neill 4*#Review @Aria_Fiction @adelesbooks #family #crime #friendship #noir #mystery #BlogTour #BookReview #GuestPost #Author

Her husband says it’s suicide. The police say it’s murder.

Liam Buckley was a married man with two teenage children when he moved out of the family home to start a new life with his lover. His wife Jennifer never forgave him, but now she needs him to come back: she’s been diagnosed with a terminal illness, and the kids can’t cope alone.

One day after Liam moves home, Jennifer is found dead. Liam thinks it’s suicide. But the police, led by DS Louise Kennedy, are convinced it’s murder.

Liam hires a retired detective to help prove his innocence, but it’s no easy task. The children are distraught, and Jennifer’s best friend, Sarah, is waging a campaign against Liam, determined to expose him for a liar and a cheat.

As secrets surface from the complex web of Buckley family life, DS Kennedy must decide. Did Jennifer Buckley end her own life, or did Liam take it from her? The answer, when it comes, will shock them all…

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

My Thoughts…

Emotive, intense, thought-provoking family drama, draws Detective Kennedy and Private Investigator Kelly into another dark investigation. Jenny, a terminally ill patient dies suddenly. Was it assisted suicide? Murder? Or suicide? How far is her estranged husband Liam, just returned to the family home, implicated?

Told from multi-points of view, in the past and present, the story unfolds, revealing clues and unexpected events. Sharing the emotional journey of the children, ex-husband, and others connected to Jenny. The emotional damage terminal illness causes to the family, friends and wider network is explored.

The sense of confusion is reiterated by the differing viewpoints and the dual time perspectives. The investigation is not the main focus of the story, but Kennedy and Kelly are intrinsic to the mystery’s resolution.

The ending is realistic, and the epilogue demonstrates human resilience and optimism.

Guest Post – Adele o’Neill -Bringing Emotion to the Page

For me, the measure of a good story is how much it makes me feel and as most writers will agree, a character that evokes an empathetic response is a character that a reader will invest in. As a writer of issue-based fiction, it’s heart-warming to hear that a reader was crying at a scene that made you cry when you wrote it and while scene-setting and plot progression are important it’s in finding the correct balance of emotion in a sub-text that can make all the difference in an authentic character and how they carry the story to a satisfying conclusion.

How do you do that, you say when you couldn’t possibly have experienced everything that your characters have experienced, or have you?

The short answer is no… but like any short answer, it doesn’t really reflect the reality. I have and I haven’t. Let me explain…

The first idea for a novel or the story concept begins very simply for me. Its usually with an issue that piques my curiosity, either professionally or personally, and has potential for layers and layers of complexity to be added in at a later date. In ‘When the Time Comes’, it was the issue of assisted suicide that pulled me into exploring the impossible choices that someone with a terminal illness is faced with. It is another character-driven story of survival, dark secrets and love, just like life and the consequences of that complexity posed many more questions than I could answer and presented an inherent sense of conflict that I wanted to explore and that’s where the concept for the story came from.

Having written three novels, I’d come to understand that simple plot mechanics are important but not nearly enough to truly engage readers and I’m a firm believer that the best stories, the stories that stay with you long after the last page is turned, are not just about the issue that they say they’re about. They are about so much more; the character’s inner conflict, the human experience, the inherent dilemma, the psychological and emotional fallout of choices and the way in which the characters’ circumstances resonate with the reader.  So the question still stands, can I, if I haven’t experienced the situation in real life, write my character’s emotions authentically?

The short answer is, yes, because I do know what it feels like. We all do. Let me explain…

I know what pain feels like, what it looks like, what it smells like.  I can tell you how emotion overwhelms you when you stand in triumph, conversely too when you cower in fear. I can describe the temperature of tears on my face or the blush of my cheeks and I can tell you the depth of lines around my eyes. Some of them carved from happiness some etched from worry, the deep ones excavated through a deep sorrow that will never leave me. I know what it feels like to laugh contentedly but equally, I know what it feels like to cry in desperation. I can recall all my moments of grace and wisdom and likewise, I can remember what it feels like to be ridiculous (these occasions are more frequent than I would like).

This is what life is for all of us, a series of emotional responses to human experiences that are riddled with happiness, joy, grief, sorrow and fear. And while everyone experiences emotions in their own inimitable way, this collection of personal life experiences and human stories allow me as a writer, to inform the emotional reaction of a character in an authentic way to the set of circumstances that has been written into the scene. Without this realness, the reader wouldn’t engage emotionally so, the next time you come across that common assumption that writers write from personal experience, it’s not the circumstances of the scene or the event that has a biographical element but the emotions and empathy that are represented in our characters. (Otherwise I think a few writers in the crime writing ranks have a few questions to answer!)

Adele O’Neill

Adele is a writer from Co. Wicklow who lives with her husband Alan and her two teenage daughters. Influenced by writers across all genres she has a particular fondness for fiction that is relatable and realistic. Her debut novel was awarded The Annie McHale Debut Novel Award for 2017 and is a character driven story of survival, dark family secrets and sibling loyalty, just like life. Her second novel Behind A Closed Door is another emotionally harrowing tale of impossible choices, loyalty and friendship. Adele writes overlooking the Irish Sea, which she credits for the tumultuous dynamics in the relationships and lives of her unsuspecting characters in her third novel, When The Time Comes, another dark tale that tests the lengths we go to protect the ones we love.

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Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Family Drama, Friendship, Romance, Romantic Comedy

A New Life For Ariana Byrne Liz Hurley 4* #Review @hello_hurley @HeraBooks @rararesources #Romance #romcom #Rural #BlogTour #BookReview

What happens after all your dreams come true?

Ariana Byrne knows how to survive. After becoming guardian to her four little sisters after their parents died when she was only eighteen, she had to grow up quickly. Now she’s in her twenties, stuck in a loveless marriage to Greg, trying to make ends meet for her young twins, William and Leo.

So when Ari is told that she’s actually the Right Honourable Lady de Foix, Countess of Hiverton, owner of a sprawling estate in the village of Saxburgh in Norfolk, her first instinct is laughter. Surely the girl who has to choose between food and keeping the lights on isn’t really rich beyond her wildest dreams?

She knows how to take care of her sisters and her children, but how on earth can Ari take care of an entire village? Can she fight off the circling land developers from Saxburgh, and stop her in-laws from grabbing all the money for themselves?

And while she’s struggling to settle in and settle down, she’s making new friends and new mistakes. Trusting her gorgeous neighbour, Sebastian Flint-Hyssop, maybe the biggest one of all…

She’s swapped sink estate for country estate…but can a girl from inner city London learn how to become a Lady?

Take a trip to Hiverton Manor for the most uplifting novel of 2020 – guaranteed to put a smile on your face!

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

My Thoughts…

Ariana is the type of character you instantly warm to. After a few pages, you’re invested in her life and want her to get out of her claustrophobic relationship and have the life she deserves. All your wishes come true, not in the most realistic of ways, but this is escapist fiction, and so you can forgive the number of coincidences and beneficial serendipity.

Ariana has four sisters, all of whom, have their own stories, as the series progresses, but this is the beginning and Ariana’s tale. After a life full of misfortune and events that demanded exceptional courage and tenacity, Ariana’s fortunes improve, she receives an unexpected bequest and the chance of a new life.

There is lots of humour, plenty of conflicts, and lots of new people to meet, as Ariana learns how to be a landowner. The romance is gentle, and any hopes of a quiet life disappear as part of her estate is threatened by developers.

Engaging, vibrant characters and a vividly described lifestyle and setting, make this rags to riches romantic comedy, the perfect escape for a Winter’s afternoon.

When I grew up I wanted to be an underwater archaeologist or an astronaut but I ended up in a library. Everyone laughed as I’m not a naturally quiet person but I loved it. I went on to become a professional librarian for the money and the glamour. Not finding quite enough of either my husband and I set up a bookshop.  We didn’t find much there either so I started writing. Now I have loads of money and glamour but only in the pages of my books! In the meantime, I dive and look at the stars.

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Posted in Book Review, Crime, Friendship, Suspense, Thriller, Young Adult

Are You Watching? Vincent Ralph 4* #Review @PenguinUKBooks @VincentRalph1 #AreYouWatchingMagpieMan #YA #Teen #CrimeFiction #Mystery #SocialMedia #YouTube #RealityStar #Suspense #BookReview #BlogTour #Paperback #RandomThingsTours @AnneCater

Ten years ago, Jess’s mother was murdered by the Magpie Man. She was the first of his victims but not the last. Now Jess is the star of a YouTube reality series and she’s using it to catch the killer once and for all. The whole world is watching her every move. And so is the Magpie Man.

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I received a copy of this book from Penguin UK Books in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

‘Are You Watching?’ has universal appeal for those drawn to page-turning reads. The social media and YouTube concept is aimed at young adults.

Jess hopes her story will attract a viral audience and draw out her mother’s killer. Told from her point of view, the reader has immediate and uncensored responses from the main protagonist. It also maintains the mystery, as we only know what she does. Relatable and realistic, Jess is a likeable character, with authentic teenage emotions and motivations.

This is an emotional story. Jess feels her mother’s loss but also griefs her family’s demise. Her father is an understandable emotional wreck and she is doing this for him as much as for herself. Parents may question, whether they would have allowed their teenager to do this. Jess’s father feels guilty about his daughter’s damaged life, and will make amends anyway he can.

The book’s structure of short chapters aids the pacing and suspense, which builds as the story progresses. The plot has twists and an unexpected ending.

This story has dark themes, but it is written to engage its target audience. Contemporary fiction focused on crime, relationships, suspense and technology, which will appeal to an older adult audience too.

#VincentRalph

Vincent Ralph has been writing in one form or another since his teens and always dreamed of being a novelist. He owes his love of books to his mother, who encouraged his imagination from an early age and made sure there were new stories to read. Vincent has lived in London, Cornwall and Chester but he now lives in his home county of Kent with his wife, son and two cats.

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

#Postscript Cecelia Ahern 5*#Review @HarperFiction #PSILoveYou2 @HarperCollinsUK @Cecelia_Ahern @fictionpubteam #BookReview

#Postscript

It’s been seven years since Holly Kennedy’s husband died – six since she read his final letter, urging Holly to find the courage to forge a new life.

She’s proud of all the ways in which she has grown and evolved. But when a group inspired by Gerry’s letters, calling themselves the PS, I Love You Club, approaches Holly asking for help, she finds herself drawn back into a world that she worked so hard to leave behind.

Reluctantly, Holly beings a relationship with the club, even as their friendship threatens to destroy the peace she believes she has achieved. As each of these people calls upon Holly to help them leave something meaningful behind for their loved ones, Holly will embark on a remarkable journey – one that will challenge her to ask whether embracing the future means betraying the past, and what it means to love someone forever…

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My Thoughts…

Postscript draws you back into Holly’s world as if you never left. It is now seven years after Gerry’s death and Holly is feeling more confident that life can go on as Holly, and maybe even Holly and Gabriel. It is in this mindset that she agrees to her sister’s request, to take part in a podcast sharing her grief experience, and particularly Gerry’s letters, and what they meant for her.

Facing her grief again, even seven years on is difficult and you feel her pain and the real fear that she may slip back into the dark abyss if she examines her grief journey too closely. Nevertheless, she delivers and the response is positive, but someone seems too involved and Holly’s reaction is avoidance, and this has consequences.

What emerges as you progress with this story, is that Holly’s recovery is superficial. She manages to convince friends and family that she is moving on, and feels less pain, but deep down the grief and sense of loss remain.

Helping others leave their loved ones, messages to help them move on after death is not something Holly feels capable of initially. Her relationships with the P.S. I Love You Club members are an emotional journey for Holly. Her courage forces her to face up to her grief, and finally realise that moving on, doesn’t mean forgetting, or loving less.

There is a maturity in this book that comes with age and experience. Holly in Postscript is different from Holly in P.S. I Love You. Grief and loss change her irrevocably, and healing only comes from acceptance, and courage to embrace the change and the new person she has become.

Postscript’s stories of pain and pleasure, despair and hope and loss and love are emotive and life-affirming, and every bit as potent as the original story.

Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Contemporary Fiction, Family Drama, Friendship, Mystery, Romance, Romantic Comedy

The Cottage in a Cornish Cove Cass Grafton 5* #Review @CassGrafton #Romance #Cornwall #RuralLife #FamilyDrama #RomCom #Mystery #Secrets #PublicationDay @rararesources #TabbyCowPress #Giveaway #Paperback #International

A heart-warming tale of discovering all you never wanted is exactly what you needed.

Orphaned as a baby and raised by indifferent relatives, much of Anna Redding’s happiness as a child came from the long summer holidays spent with an elderly family friend, Aunt Meg, in the quaint village of Polkerran.

With Aunt Meg’s passing, Anna is drawn back to the West Country, relocating to the Cornish cove where she was once so happy. Filled with memories, she hopes to perhaps open a B&B—and perhaps cross paths with Alex Tremayne again, a local boy she used to have a major crush on and who only had to walk past Anna to make her heart flutter.

Settling into her new life, and enjoying her work for the older, reclusive and—to be honest—often exasperating Oliver Seymour, Anna is delighted when Alex reappears in Polkerran and sweeps her off her feet.

The stars are finally aligned, but just as Anna thinks all she’s ever wished for is within reach, a shock discovery brings everything under threat, and she finds herself living a dream that isn’t hers.

Can Anna rescue the new life she has made for herself and, when the testing moment comes, who will be there to hold her hand?

The Cottage in a Cornish Cove is the first in an uplifting series of romances from Cass Grafton. Get to know the locals, wallow in the quaintness of Polkerran and fall in love with romance all over again.

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

My Thoughts…

Anna is a character who is easy to like. Her less than idyllic childhood made bearable by the summers she spent in Cornwall, with her surrogate aunt. Careerwise she’s successful, but her romantic relationships don’t live up to the romantic novels she loved to escape into. An unexpected bequest has her leaving her old life behind, including her career, friends and mercenary boyfriend. She hopes to recapture the happiness she knew during the Summer’s in the Cornish cove.

This story is like a warm hug, it makes you sigh, as you snuggle down and get swept away, into a world full of coasts, comfort and community. As the story progresses, you realise that not all the unscrupulous individuals live in the big cities, and Anna’s naivety in judging people, risks her new life almost before it has begun.

The characters and the plot draw you in, I found myself, offering Anna advice on who to trust, so the story is certainly authentic and engaging. The pacing is gentle, and the historical inferences and parallels, add depth to the story.

There is a mystery to solve, as Anna finds out who she is, and who her friends are. Her character development is good, and in the end, she realises that even though she has people to rely on, she is strong enough to succeed alone.

The romance is sweet but powerful, and you are left with a lovely warmth, even though you regret saying goodbye to Anna and her friends.

Cass Grafton

An avid bookworm since childhood, Cass Grafton writes the sort of stories she loves to read – heart-warming, character-driven and strong on location. Having moved around extensively and lived in three countries, she finds places inspiring and the setting of her novels often becomes as much a part of the story as her characters.

She leans heavily towards the upbeat and insists on a happy ever after. As one of her favourite authors, Jane Austen, once wrote, ‘Let other pens dwell on guilt and misery’.

Cass loves travelling, words, cats and wine but never in the same glass. She has two grown-up children and currently splits her time between Switzerland, where she lives with her husband and imaginary cats, and England, where she lives with her characters.

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Giveaway to Win 3 x Paperback Copies of The Cottage in a Cornish Cove (Open INT)

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*Terms and Conditions –Worldwide 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 be passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for the 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.

Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Childrens Books, Fantasy, Friendship, Parenting and Famlies

Sparky The Dragon Bus Sue Wickstead 5* #Review @JayJayBus #ChildrensBooks #PictureBooks #KidLit #Inclusion #Mobility #playbus @rararesources #BlogTour

SparkyTheDragonBus

Sparky isn’t your typical double-decker bus.

Behind the dragon and magical paintings, she’s full of fun and adventures for all children. Jump aboard to find out what makes Sparky so special

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Free 3D bus template with book orders from Sue Wickstead’s website or direct message to the author – https://www.suewickstead.co.uk/

#SparkyTheDragonBus

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

#SparkyTheDragonBus

My Thoughts…

Sparky transforms into a very special playbus for all children. Sparky is a little worried about being different from the other buses in the station, even though she is secretly proud of her new colourful paintwork. When she meets her new passengers, it all makes sense.

The’ Sparky The Dragon Bus’ story is based on a real play bus in Glasgow. Apart from her new interior and bright paintwork, Sparky has another feature, which she realises, means all children can enjoy her facilities.

This story shows the importance of inclusion, and how it can be achieved in a play environment. The illustrations complement the story and will appeal to those children not yet able to read themselves.

My grandson and I enjoyed reading this diverse, inclusive, beautifully illustrated story together. ‘Sparky The Dragon Bus’ is a lovely motivational addition to the Jay-Jay Bus series of children’s books.

#SparkyTheDragonBus
Sue Wickstead

I am an author and a teacher and have written six children’s picture books, all with a bus included somewhere.

Having been able to share my first book, ‘Jay-Jay the Supersonic Bus’, it was time to think about writing a book for younger readers.

While visiting a local school the children were writing stories about a journey, we read Jay-Jay’s book and then I remembered a book that I had written some years before and I read this to the class too, and they loved it.

The original story was based on a walk with my class around the neighbourhood of Bewbush, Crawley. The walk had led to map work and sequencing. Then together with the class I wrote an imaginative adventure.

The events we imagined were put into a class book. The book was shared with many classes and it was always a favourite.

Now years later I decided it was time to update, improve and look at publishing the book.

There is indeed a walk around the district of Bewbush. and following the publication of the book I went back to see if and how the neighbourhood had changed.

‘Oh, I see you have written a book without a bus!’ commented a friend.

But, look through the pages and you will see there always has to be a bus!

The neighbourhood of Bewbush was a new estate built in Crawley town in the 1970’s. The area was built without any shops, school or safe places for children to play. It was an area of high need and was supported by a special playbus which offered a much-needed playgroup venue.

I also undertake events and author bookings and love to share my stories. There are also a few more stories in the writing process, with links to real events and buses.

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Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Family Drama, Friendship, Motivational, Parenting and Famlies, Romance, Romantic Comedy

A Dozen Second Chances Kate Field 4* #Review @katehaswords @0neMoreChapter_ @rararesources #FamilyDrama #Romance #RomCom #SelfRealisation #StartingOver #NeverTooLate #BlogTour #BookReview #Heartwarming #Motivational

What are the chances that twelve little tokens could change a life?

Seventeen years ago, Eve Roberts had the wonderful life she’d always dreamed of: a degree in archaeology, a gorgeous boyfriend, and exciting plans to travel the world with him, working on digs. But when her sister Faye died, the life Eve knew ended too. Faye’s daughter Caitlyn came to live with Eve, her boyfriend left, and she quickly gave up on her dreams.

Now approaching her fortieth birthday, Eve faces the prospect of an empty nest as Caitlyn is leaving home. Caitlyn gives Eve a set of twelve ‘Be Kind to Yourself’ vouchers, telling her that she has to start living for herself again and that she should fill one in every time she does something to treat herself.

With her very first voucher, Eve’s life will change its course. But with eleven more vouchers to go, can Eve learn to put herself first and follow the dreams she’s kept secret for so long? Because life is for living – and as she well knows, it’s too short to waste even a moment…

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

My Thoughts…

A motivational story with a relatable main protagonist, and an authentic life story. There is a fusion of heartwarming, humorous and poignant moments in Eve’s story of self-realisation. Family secrets are revealed, and Eve is forced to confront the rest of her life when Caitlyn leaves to begin the next chapter of hers.

The love Caitlyn has for the woman she calls mum is evidenced by her tokens. Each one giving Eve, a chance of a new beginning, or a way to recapture the potential of life chances, she believed lost.

The characters are believable, there is a nice multi-generational aspect to the story and a realistic romance.

Kate Field

Kate Field writes contemporary women’s fiction, mainly set in her favourite county of Lancashire where she lives on the edge of the moors with her husband, daughter and cat. Her debut novel won the Romantic Novelists’ Association Joan Hessayon Award for new writers.

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