Thursday, 31 October 2019

Princes of the Lower East Side by Meredith Allison + #Giveaway + Excerpt

Princes of the Lower East Side (A Scalisi Family Novel, #2) by Meredith Allison
Published in America by Persnickety Publishing on the 28th October 2019.

Add Princes of the Lower East Side to your Goodreads

Mia Scalisi returns in this highly anticipated follow-up to Blood & Whiskey!

Sicily is a paradise on earth Mia Angela Scalisi doesn't want to leave, but after over a year of peace, obligations - like being Hyman Goldberg's It Girl at his new nightclub - call her back to New York City. But everything she's known in New York has changed - and that might even include the men she once thought were her friends.

When a new, ambitious gangster threatens to take over the old neighborhood, bringing devastation to the poor families who live there, Mia can't ignore the bonds that tie her to the underworld way of life that killed her brother and set her upon a merciless, bloody path of revenge. With her brother's widow, her niece, and a mysterious, devoted bodyguard at her side, Mia must reclaim her position as head of her dead brother's business, establish herself as the reigning queen among the princes of the Lower East Side, and make the ultimate decision: who lives, and who must die.


Gloria said, hands on her hips. “You promised my husband to watch out for me and Em, but he would want me to watch over you, too. You need someone to look after you, Mia. To care for you. Even if you don’t think you need anyone.”
“I have Paolo.” Mia had asked him once if he’d known what she’d done in America. He understood English, so she spoke both Sicilian and English to him. Paolo had responded with a single, firm nod. And that had been the only time they had discussed it—as much of a discussion as could be had with a mute man.
When she’d announced to her family two weeks ago that she was returning to New York, there seemed an unspoken understanding Paolo would also make that trip. Nevertheless, Don Catalano, who had made the arrangements for her, had told her in no uncertain terms the fierce Sicilian man would be accompanying her as her bodyguard and remaining by her side in New York.
She had come to appreciate his silent presence, his protective hovering. It was hard to understand why he had chosen her to devote himself to, but it wasn’t a gift she was interested in questioning.
“I don’t trust Paolo,” Gloria said. “How do you trust a man who can’t talk?”
“I find him the most trustworthy of men for that reason alone.”
“You can’t travel and live on your own with a man you’re not married to,” she insisted. “You’re still just a young girl, after all.”
“I’ll be twenty-three in September.”
“You are a child,” Gloria repeated softly.
Mia smiled, a little bitterly, down at her small case of cosmetics, dropping the envelope on top. When she was a child, she’d lost both of her parents—her father to a heart attack when she was just a toddler. Her mother had died in a terrible fire at the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory, leaping from the top of the building in order to avoid being burned by the flames. Mia and Nick had been forced to hustle the streets, begging for handouts, learning poker to swindle the gangsters, stealing food, freezing nearly to death in their filthy tenement. She’d become a vaudeville performer, because young girls telling raunchy jokes to older men made money. When Nick had been drafted to the war, she’d worked a dozen hours a day for an abusive woman in a dress factory, just to keep a little food in her stomach. She’d known more about being an adult at twelve than most women her age knew now. Once she might have been proud of that, but now, it only made her sad. 
Finally, she looked at Gloria. “I haven’t been a child for a very long time.”

Meet the Author 

Meredith Allison has embraced her nerdiness from youth, with minor jaunts of attempting to be "cool" during high school and college. Spoiler alert: she was unsuccessful at fooling anyone. After this dark period, she returned to the light, embracing her bookish nature and penchant for action and horror films, bloody survivalist video games (she's looking at you, Resident Evil and Call of Duty) interspersed with the occasional sweeping fantasy adventure RPG (Final Fantasy, anyone?). Along the way, she developed her knack for storytelling, which began when she was a mere child-person many moons ago.

Meredith is a writer (and reader) of many kinds of fiction, but in particular spy thrillers, military-esque suspense, and historical crime. A native of Lincoln, Nebraska, she is by proxy a Huskers fan (GO BIG RED!), as UNL is her undergraduate alma mater, and moonlights as an obligatory Blue Jays fan due to completing her graduate MFA studies at Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska. When she emerges from her writing cave, blinking in dismay at having to be exposed to the cruel light of day yet again, she can be found romping with her two Pomeranians, serving her overlord cat, hanging with her husband, battling it out with the undead or practicing a new kind of magery on her PlayStation, or simply huddled in a dark corner somewhere with just enough light to read a favorite book. Other interests include baking, cooking, and blogging about new restaurants.

Author links:

And now it's time for the Giveaway!

The prize is a $20 Amazon gift card.
Open internationally until the 7th November.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Etsy Find!
by Lauren Shugrue Studio in
New York, USA

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Books by Meredith Allison / Thrillers / Books from America

Wednesday, 30 October 2019

A Cosy Christmas in Cornwall by Jane Linfoot + #Giveaway

A Cosy Christmas in Cornwall by Jane Linfoot
Published by One More Chapter on the 19th October 2019.

Add A Cosy Christmas in Cornwall to your Goodreads

A December to remember…

Christmas in a Cornish castle? Sign Ivy Starforth up! Hired to kit out the holiday rental as the world’s most Instagramable festive dreamland, there’s only one thing standing in the way of her hefty paycheque – the lord of the manor.

Bill Markham could give Scrooge a run for his money but Ivy is firmly #TeamChristmas…even if her handsome host seems to be doing everything he can to sabotage her staging. Maybe she shouldn’t have stumbled in on him starkers in the hot tub?

As the temperature outside cools, things inside the castle heat up. It’s been a long time since Ivy allowed herself to give in to temptation…surely one little kiss under the mistletoe won’t hurt?

Meet the author

Jane Linfoot is a best selling author, who lives in a cottage on a Derbyshire hillside with her family and their pets. Although she loves seeing cow noses over the garden wall, she’s happy she can walk to a supermarket.
Jane grew up in North Yorkshire where she spent a lot of her childhood avoiding horizontal gales blowing off the sea and wrote her first book by accident. While she loves to write feel good books that let readers escape, she’s always surprised to hear her stories make people laugh, admits to (occasionally) crying as she writes, and credits her characters for creating their own story lines.

Jane’s garden would be less brambly if she wasn’t on Facebook and Twitter so often. On days when she wants to be really scared, she rides a tandem.

Her recent stand alone novels are all set in and around the (imaginary) seaside village of St Aidan in Cornwall. They are: Ivy’s Cornish Christmas, Edie’s Browne’s Cottage by the Sea, The Little Cornish Kitchen. Her four book Little Wedding Shop series are standalone stories, also set in St Aidan. They are: The Little Wedding Shop by the Sea, Christmas at the Little Wedding Shop, Summer at the Little Wedding Shop and Christmas Promises at the Little Wedding Shop. They are all published by the Harper Impulse and One More Chapter imprints of Harper Collins.

Author links: 
Facebook ~ Twitter ~ Instagram ~ Pinterest

And now it's time for the Giveaway!

The prize is a signed Jane Linfoot Book and some chocolate
This giveaway is open Internationally until the 4th November 2019.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

*Terms and Conditions –Worldwide entries welcome.  Please enter using the Rafflecopter box above.  The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then Rachel’s Random Resources reserves the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over.  Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

Etsy Find!

by Natalie Bonney Ceramic in
Penryn, England

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Books by Jane Linfoot / Christmas stories / Books from England

Tuesday, 29 October 2019

Dorothy In the Land of Monsters by Garten Gevedon + #Giveaway + Excerpt

Dorothy In the Land of Monsters by Garten Gevedon
Published in America on the 11th October 2019.

Add Dorothy In the Land of Monsters to your Goodreads

Shifters, Zombies, and Vampires? Oh my!

My name is Dorothy Gale, and I think I might be dead. When my dog Toto and I got swept up in a twister, we landed in hell. A very colorful hell. Like a rainbow dripping in blood. Now it looks as though this dreadful underworld plagued with vampires, zombies, and shifters will be the site of my eternal damnation. They say this terrifying land called Oz isn't hell or purgatory and escape is possible, but first I must survive the journey down the blood-soaked yellow brick road to the only place in Oz where vampires dare not tread: The City of Emeralds.

With enchanted footwear and the help of my three new friends - a friendly zombie, a massive shifter lion, and a heartless axe murderer of evil night creatures (who also happens to be the hottest guy I've ever seen) - Toto and I have a chance to make it to the Vampire Free Zone. When we get there, I must convince the most powerful wizard in this magical land of monsters to send us out of this radiant nightmare and back to the world of the living. They say he's just as frightening as this monstrous land, that he detests visitors, and even the most horrifying creatures cower in his presence. But I must seek him out. And when I find him, I'll do whatever it takes to make him send me home.


Gray everywhere. As I stand on the porch of my aunt and uncle’s home, all I can see is the great gray expanse of prairie on every side. No trees, houses, buildings, people, nothing at all breaks the broad sweep of flat gray country that reaches to the edge of the gray sky in every direction. The sun scorched the plowed fields into a dusty, gray mass that expands to the horizon line, the endless gloom broken only by the little black shadows of the fissures running through it like the marbling of a corpse. 
Even the grass is dead and gray—the hot sun singed the blades until they were the same lifeless gray color that blankets everything. Years ago, the house was a pristine white, but the torrid summer sun burned and blistered the paint and the heavy winter rains battered it away, and now the house is as weathered and gray as everything else here. It’s fitting for what it’s like to live here in Middle of Nowhere, Kansas. It looks like what it is—bleak, leached of any color, any excitement, anything interesting at all—drained of life. Gray is gray is gray is my life. It surrounds me from all sides, all the time. And it sucks. Thanks a lot, climate change.
I came to live with my Uncle Henry and Aunt Emily on a crappy little farm when my parents died in a car accident. I was thirteen. Because Emily was the only family I had left, she got stuck with me. She could have refused me and left me as a ward of the state, but she was kind enough to take me in. Even though I don’t share the same connection with Emily and Henry that I did with my parents, they’re still family—the only family I have—so, I may complain about this being the middle of nowhere, but it’s better than being in an orphanage or foster care or some group home. Yeah, their place is tiny, and old, but at least it has four walls, a floor, and a roof. 
The two-bedroom farmhouse I live in is as weathered and brittle as the farm it’s set on. One story with no attic and no basement, the only feature it has is a cyclone cellar which we’ve had yet to use since I’ve lived here. It may lack color and any of the luxuries most people in America have these days—cable, wifi, consistent hot water to shower with—but I am grateful I have somewhere to live, even if life here is so gray that the grayness proliferates, turning everything in it to a gray as dry as dust.
When Aunt Emily came here to live with Uncle Henry, she was a young, pretty, vivacious woman with golden hair and bright emerald green eyes—or I thought I remembered her that way. Even she’s gray now. Just like it changed this once green land, the sun and wind have changed her, and her once sparkling green eyes are now dim and muted, tinged with a melancholy gray. Living here in this sweltering, exanimate world has stolen her radiance and left her ashen. It’s exhausted the red from her cheeks and lips, and now they’re pallid and gray too. Once she was curvy and a little plump. Now she’s gaunt and never smiles. Can’t blame her for never smiling, living in this dull, gray crap hole. 
When I first came to her, Aunt Emily would startle when I laughed. She’d scream and look at me like I was nuts, shocked I could find anything to laugh at in this gray place. Uncomfortable and bored out of my skull, I’d laugh trying to entertain myself, trying not to let the depression get the best of me, but after being here for four years, I get it now—what is there to laugh about when all that’s here is gray?
Uncle Henry never laughs either. Morning to night, all he does is work hard. If he knows what joy is, he doesn’t let on. From his gray beard to his rough boots, Henry is also gray, stern, and solemn. With a permanent stone face, he almost never speaks. It’s like he’s made of hard, gray stone. If he didn’t work so much trying to make this gray land yield something, I’d think he was stone—a gray statue of a man.
Sometimes I wonder if it’s me that’s gray, or the lens I see the world through. Before my parents died, my life was a bright white, like a pristine sheet of paper wishing for a colorful story to grace its surface. Then the black smear of tragedy struck, and it’s as though the thousands of tears I shed diffused the black that blemished my bright whiteness, spreading it over the unsullied parts like watercolor, leaving my world gray. But I don’t think I’m gray. Not yet. I don’t think it has spread to me yet.

Meet the Author 

Garten Gevedon lives in New York City with her family. She's a sci-fi, fantasy, and paranormal author who loves taking fairy tales and turning them inside out.

Author links:

And now it's time for the Giveaway!

The prize is a $50 Amazon gift card.
Open internationally until the 7th November.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Etsy Find!
by Cornish Wench Does Art in
St Austell, England

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Books by Garten Gevedon / Retellings / Books from America

Monday, 28 October 2019

The Greater Freedom by Alya Mooro

The Greater Freedom: Life As A Middle Eastern Woman Outside The Stereotypes by Alya Mooro
Published by Little A on the 1st October 2019.

One of my 2019 New Release Challenge reads and my Book Of The Month for October 2019

How I got this book:
Received a review copy from the publisher via NetGalley

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

In this rallying cry to outsiders everywhere, Alya Mooro makes her peace with not fitting in.

Egyptian-born and London-raised, Alya Mooro grew up between two cultures and felt a pull from both. Where could she turn for advice and inspiration when it seemed there was nobody else like her? Today, Mooro is determined to explore and explode the myth that she must identify either as ‘Western’ or as one of almost 400 million other ‘Arabs’ across the Middle East.

Through countless interviews and meticulous research, as well as her own unique experience, Mooro gives voice to the Middle Eastern women who, like her, don’t fit the mould. Women under pressure to conform to society’s ideals of how a woman should look and behave, what she should want and be. Women who want to think and act and love freely, without feeling that every choice means ‘picking a side’. Women who are two things at once and, consequently, neither.

Part memoir, part social exploration, this is a book for anyone who has ever felt like an outsider.

I hoped when I chose a review copy of The Greater Freedom from NetGalley that Alya Mooro's writing would be thought-provoking for me and that absolutely proved to be the case. I would happily put this book alongside We Need New Stories by Nesrine Malik and My Past Is A Foreign Country by Zeba Talkhani as timely and essential reading for everyone who is seeking new ways to understand our social history and alternative directions for the future. Mooro explores in depth how Middle Eastern women are socially conditioned to have certain life expectations, and how those us from Western countries are conditioned to view Arabs, particularly Arab women. I appreciated Mooro's candid honesty in recounting episodes from her own life, divided as it was between Cairo and London, which allowed her to develop insights into both cultures.

The Greater Freedom is a strong blend of personal memoir, philosophy and social commentary. Mooro includes the words of dozens of other women as well as quotations from a dizzying array of written sources to illustrate and support her ideas. (This is one of those books whose bibliography added lots more reading suggestions to my TBR!) She writes from a perspective which is uniquely her own, however I enjoyed recognising elements of her strict childhood from my own experiences. As women, regardless of where we were born or raised, I agree that we all have a lot more in common than perhaps we have been led to believe and we need to build upon this shared bedrock to support each other achieve our individual life choices. I feel The Greater Freedom is an inspirational call towards the creation of fairer societies where women's lives are no longer restricted by fear of what Everyone Else might say.

Etsy Find!
by Say Hello London in
London, England

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Books by Alya Mooro / Sociology books / Books from Egypt

Sunday, 27 October 2019

Escaping The Asylum by Siggy Galaen

Escaping The Asylum by Siggy Galaen
Published by Trollscape Press on the 17th June 2019.

One of my 2019 New Release Challenge reads

How I got this book:
Received a review copy from the publisher via NetGalley

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

“This isn't the first psychiatric hospital I've been treated at. I've been transferred a few times before ending up here. However, I don't quite remember how it all started – it's a bit of a mental fog now, really. It is for this reason that I recently decided to start writing down my thoughts and elaborate on the situation here.“

“I think the patients, the psychiatrists, the Money Men and the Asylum Manager may have more in common than some of them would like to think. We all have a mental diagnose.”

Escaping the Asylum is a short novel about a psychiatric patient's view of the treatment within the Asylum and the attempts to escape it once and for all. It gives pointers to issues relevant beyond those of psychiatric institutions. The written form resembles a written diary but also the patient as the narrator through present observations and thoughts on various subject.

I wasn't initially sure how well I would get on with this unusual Norwegian novella. It's told in the first person by an unnamed narrator and we are thrust straight into their world without being given much in the way of description or background information. Within a few pages though, I found myself intrigued! Our narrator is in some kind of Asylum. It doesn't seem a particularly unpleasant place, but they are unsure of exactly how they came to be there or, indeed, how long they must stay. In trying to figure out for themselves what is going on, they gradually give the reader enough insight to understand too.

Escaping The Asylum is written in a gentle style that, for me, felt just like listening to someone telling me their personal story. I think it is worth mentioning that there are a sprinkling of grammatical errors such as the use of 'diagnose' for 'diagnosis' in the synopsis. I imagine this is due to the author writing in their second language and I actually found it didn't bother me - a surprise as I'm usually a stickler for proper English! In this case with the direct first person point of view though, the language idiosyncrasies add a layer of depth to the character which compensates for the otherwise deliberate anonymity.

I don't want to say too much about how Escaping The Asylum progresses because I think this is a story that is best appreciated without much in the way of forewarning. Certainly I appreciated it this way. I recommend it as fairly swift read for Black Mirror fans and folks who also enjoyed The Unit by Ninni Holmqvist or I Who Have Never Known Men by Jacqueline Harpman. A thought-provoking and rewarding story.

Etsy Find!
by Blue Raccoon Designs in
Virginia, USA

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Books by Siggy Galaen / Science fiction / Books from Norway

Saturday, 26 October 2019

The Amorous Nightingale by Edward Marston

The Amorous Nightingale (Christopher Redmayne Book 2) by Edward Marston
First published in the UK by Headline in July 2000.

One of my 2019 Mount TBR Challenge reads and my 2000s read for my 2019-20 Decade Challenge

How I got this book:
Swapped for at a campsite book exchange

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

London 1667. Acclaimed beauty and singer Harriet Gow is the star performer at the famous Theatre Royal on Drury Lane, as well as the favourite mistress of King Charles II. After seeing her perform, Christopher Redmayne is likewise captivated so he is intrigued when the King urgently summons him – it seems Harriet has been kidnapped. Redmayne, with the help of his friend Jonathan Bale is engaged to resolve this delicate affair and they quickly begin delving into Harriet’s background.

The façade of elegance soon begins to crumble in the face of their investigations, and just as Redmayne and Bale start to question whether Harriet is really the victim or the guilty party, a brutal murder provides the answer...

The Amorous Nightingale is the second in Edward Marston's series of six Reformation Era crime mysteries, each of which feature the unlikely detective pairing of architect Christopher Redmayne with constable Jonathan Bale. I haven't yet read the first book in the series, but the few brief nods to its storyline are adequately explained here so I didn't feel as though I was missing information about the characters or their previous lives. The paperback edition I read had fairly large font and wide page margins so, despite this being a 372 page book, it was a quick read which I happily devoured over the course of an afternoon. The kidnapping mystery was convoluted enough to maintain my interest, but without being too taxing.

Where Marston excels, I felt, was in his portrayals of 1660s London. The city is far smaller than its present-day incarnation, even more so as the Great Fire destroyed thousands of homes only a year or so before our story takes place. Through the investigations and exploits of Redmayne, Bale and their friends we get to see varied streets, homes and characters from the no-longer-quite-as-divine King Charles II himself to the thugs and prostitutes who scrape a living on the docksides. I loved Marston's descriptions of the rich males outrageously fashionable outfits and also appreciated Jonathan Bale's crushed Puritan hopes - Cromwell's Commonwealth having existed still well within living memory.

The Amorous Nightingale is more of an entertaining crime mystery than a serious historical novel. I would have liked more depth to the characterisation because I felt we often had too large a cast at the expense of their individual believability. That said, I did enjoy this story and would happily seek out the further (and earlier!) books in this series.

Etsy Find!
by Amulet Art And Antiques in
Delaware, USA

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Books by Edward Marston / Historical fiction / Books from Wales

Friday, 25 October 2019

Siren Song by Alex Hayes + #Giveaway + Excerpt

Siren Song (The Chameleon Effect #3) by Alex Hayes
Published in America on the 15th October 2019.

Add Siren Song to your Goodreads

Connell Kurēn doesn’t love being a paparazzo…

He’s a member of the most scorned profession in Hollywood, but he’s good at it, and a hard-ass to boot.
He might also be called an ambulance chaser, though not for the disreputable reason he chases celebrities. Connell has the ability to heal, and at the sound of a siren, he is drawn to those in need.
Life is just fine until his pushy paparazzi nature almost gets someone killed.
Rowan Bren suffers post-traumatic stress and a permanent headache following a near-death experience at the hands of her mortal enemy. After months, she still isn’t right, but she won’t be held back from seeking her bond mate, Con, any longer.
She travels to Los Angeles motivated to help her friend, Idris, with his brilliant plan to locate their missing people. But Rowan’s top priority in the City of Angels is to find Con. She doesn’t know where he lives, but she’s not worried, because her crystal will lead her straight to him.
When she trips into his world, she finds a man so different from the person she expects, she fears he might not be Con at all. That he might be possessed by an evil force like the one that almost killed her.


As we walk and talk about the artwork around us, I catch her gentle smiles, the toss of her head as she looks at me over a shoulder, her fingers touching a corrugated steel surface or sliding across a set of tubular bells, her embarrassment and laughter as they return a clamorous and dissonant tune.
Then I see the perfect picture. “Stop, right there.”
She freezes. “What?” Her eyes shift side to side.
We’ve reached the center of the park marked by a circular fountain.
A copper statue of a woman stands at its center, arms outstretched, waves of hair, similar in color to Rowan’s, falling from her head. An angel. The statue’s wings flow in ever-moving scrolls of water into the pool below.
“Take a half turn to your left.” Yeah, a posed shot. So what?
I get down low, so I can catch her profile backlit by the light shining up through falling water. The angel statue looks down upon her, as if X marks the spot and Rowan is standing right on it.
After a few test pictures, I tweak the flash, lowering it to half power, and take a few more. I chimp my shots, which could be better, then snap a couple more.
She looks gorgeous with the curtain of light separating her from the darkness of the night. The statue looks celestial behind her but is still a part of the background. The girl standing forefront traps the eye and holds it prisoner.
One more adjustment.
Setting my camera down, I step forward to dislodge a curl caught in the top button of her coat. Releasing it with unsteady fingers, I look up to find her eyes on mine, her lips parted just enough to show their fullness.
A perfect image I’ll never capture because I’m too caught up in the moment to photograph it.

Meet the Author 

Alex Hayes wrote her first fiction story when she was twelve. Inspired by her mother's storytelling, she began work on her first novel, Ice Cracks, at eighteen. She received a Bachelor of Arts degree in English, Creative Writing from San Francisco State University. In her twenties, she moved from Marin County, California to Boston, Massachusetts, where she built a career as an IT professional in database engineering. In 2004, she self-published Ice Cracks, which became a semi-finalist in the 2005 IPPY Awards. Alex splits her time between Grand Junction, Colorado and Guanajuato, Mexico. When she isn't writing, she's helping her partner, Lee, renovate a 450 year old hacienda. She is mother to one beautiful daughter and many wonderful cats.

Author links:

And now it's time for the Giveaway!

The prize is a $25 Amazon gift card.
Open internationally until the 31st October.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Etsy Find!
by CW Photo Art in
Telford, England

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Search Literary Flits for more:
Books by Alex Hayes / Romance fiction / Books from America