Of Life, Deaths, Aliens and Zombies by Dario Cannizzaro Review

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Blurb

Misnomer on purpose, this amazing debut rocks nine short and amusing stories – a Zombie Apocalypse without zombies; the Vatican announcing contact with Aliens; a heroin junkie that loves poetry; a timeless love, and much more.

Ordinary characters facing extraordinary situations, dry humor, philosophical musing dressed as whimsical, offhand commentary, and a fairy-tale like writing; those are the key elements of the style of this funny and thought-provoking collection.

The collection comprehends three previously published stories (“The Galway Review”, “Trigger Warning”, “Two Thousand Words” and “Chantwood Magazine”); five new unpublished pieces; and for the first time in English, the best-selling story “Impurità”, which was Selected Work in 2012 by Apple iBooks.

Review

First thing’s first, if you open this book expecting a book written in the vein of Dawn of the Dead, that’s not what you get. What you do get, however, is a collection of stories that deal with every aspect of life, from love to sex to our appreciation of seemingly ‘perfect’ people. Coupled together with Dario Cannizzaro’s beautiful style of writing, you have a very interesting book indeed!

In general, I don’t read a lot of short story collections, but this one really grabbed me. The themes explored were thought-provoking and well-handled. Fake Plastic Trees was the standout story for me. It’s about a girl who seems perfect, but is really a bad person on the inside. She visits a clinic that can make her seem like a good person to the outside world, even if she’s still the same person she always was. This story made me think and posed an important question: how much of the images people present of themselves is real? We all like to put our best foot forward and enhance our best qualities, but how much of who we are do we really show? Other stories I enjoyed were Yet Another Zombie Apocalypse, Bathroom Love and Terrorism Marketing. Each piece in the book was carefully crafted, and the author managed to pack lots of emotion and well-drawn characters into so few words.

Overall, I commend Dario Cannizzaro for creating a well-thought-out collection of stories that deal with very deep themes. Would recommend if you want to read something totally unexpected.

***GIVEAWAY***

Enter this giveaway to win a paperback copy or one of three digital copies of Of Life, Death, Aliens and Zombies!

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/bf633057111/?

Links

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Life-Death-Aliens-Zombies-ebook/dp/B01M0MUVWD/

 iBooks: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/life-death-aliens-zombies/id1156255178?mt=11

 Barnes&Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/of-life-death-aliens-and-zombies-dario-cannizzaro/1124662613?ean=9781508045472

Google Play: https://play.google.com/store/books/details/Dario_Cannizzaro_Of_Life_Death_Aliens_and_Zombies?id=1k4ZDQAAQBAJ

 KOBO: https://store.kobobooks.com/en-us/ebook/of-life-death-aliens-and-zombies

 

Author Bio

DARIO CANNIZZARO was born in the sun-eaten Naples, Italy in 1982. He moved to Ireland in 2011, and has called it home ever since. He started writing short stories at seven, which are shamefully lost forever, but has never stopped writing since. His works have been published in Italian and English in Literary Magazines such as The Galway ReviewTwo Thousand Words and Chantwood Magazine.

Website: www.dariowrites.com

Twitter: http://twitter.com/dariowrites/

Facebook: http://facebook.com/dariowrites/

Meet Me at Willoughby Close by Kate Hewitt Review

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Blurb

Meet Me in Willoughby Close

Welcome to Willoughby Close… a charming cluster of cozy cottages, each with a story to tell and a happy ending to deliver…

Ellie Matthews has come to Wychwood-on-Lea to find a new start for her and her daughter Abby. But, life there doesn’t start out as idyllic as she had hoped. While Ellie loves her cute cottage in Willoughby Close, the Yummy Mummies at the primary school seem intent on giving her the cold shoulder, Abby has trouble fitting in, and her boss, Oliver Venables, is both surprisingly sexy and irritatingly inscrutable.

But miracles can happen in the most unexpected places, and in small, yet wonderful ways. Slowly, Ellie and Abby find themselves making friends and experiencing the everyday magic of Willoughby Close. When Oliver’s nephew, Tobias, befriends Abby, the four of them start to feel like family… and Ellie begins to see the kindness and warmth beneath Oliver’s chilly exterior, which awakens both her longing and fear.

Ellie knows all about disappointment, and the pain of trying too hard for nothing, while Oliver has his own hurts and secrets to deal with. When the past comes rollicking back to remind both of them of their weaknesses and failings, will they be able to overcome their fears and find their own happy ending?

Discover the heartwarming magic of Willoughby Close… with four more stories of hope and happily-ever-afters to look forward to.

Review

This book was a charming read from start to finish, telling the story of two people who had to overcome their past heartbreak to find their way to each other.

Ellie moves to Willoughby Close for a fresh start with her daughter Abby, but runs into some problems along the way. The group of Yummy Mummies at the school gate don’t intend to make life easy for her and the unexpected chemistry with her sexy boss Oliver has her in a spin. Yet, Willoughby Close’s magic weaves its spell on both Ellie and Abby and they discover love and friendship in the strangest places.

I really enjoyed this book, it was a sweet, charming read with a cast of loveable characters. The chemistry between Ellie and Oliver was really well-drawn and a nice contrast to their inner conflicts that initially prevent them from going after what they want. Abby and Toby’s friendship was also well-written and I enjoyed seeing it develop over the course of the book. This book shows what happens when you embrace a new start and how love can be found in the strangest places, especially when you’re not looking for it.

Links:

Amazon UK:https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B01M4RR8EW/ref=x_gr_w_bb?ie=UTF8&tag=x_gr_w_bb_uk-21&linkCode=as2&camp=1634&creative=6738

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/32934017-meet-me-at-willoughby-close?ac=1&from_search=true

About Kate Hewitt: Kate is the USA Today-bsetselling author of over 40 books of women’s fiction and romance. She is the author of the Hartley-by-the-Sea series, set in England’s Lake District and published by Penguin. She is also, under the name Katharine Swartz, the author of the Tales from Goswell books, a series of time-slip novels set in the village of Goswell. Other series include the Emigrants Trilogy, the Amherst Island Trilogy, and the Falling For The Freemans series.

She likes to read romance, mystery, the occasional straight historical and angsty women’s fiction; she particularly enjoys reading about well-drawn characters and avoids high-concept plots.

Having lived in both New York City and a tiny village on the windswept northwest coast of England, she now resides in the English Cotswolds with her husband, five children, and an overly affectionate Golden Retriever. You can read about her life at http://www.acumbrianlife.blogspot.co.uk.

Links:

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/katehewitt1

Website: http://www.kate-hewitt.com/

Giveaway:

3 Paperback Copies of A Cotswold Christmas (UK ONLY)

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/bf633057110/?

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The Den of Iniquity by Anabelle Bryant Review

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Blurb

Welcome to the most notorious address in London…

Beneath the airs and graces of the Ton lies The Underworld – London’s most scandalous gambling hall.

The only thing darker and more debauched that the hall itself? The proprietor, Max Sinclair. As mysterious as the corners of the city he stalks, Max has vowed to take revenge against the men who murdered his mother. And The Underworld attracts London’s darkest characters – the perfect partners in crime.

But when Lady Vivienne Beaumont enters The Underworld, Max’s life becomes more dangerous than he ever thought possible.

Enter a world of lust, lawlessness and obsession with The Den of Iniquity, the first in Anabelle Bryant’s Bastards of London series.

Review

First of all, this book has the most fabulous tag-line: Welcome to the most notorious address in London. Talk about intriguing! If that doesn’t draw you in, I don’t know what will. I’ve said before that Regency romance isn’t my usual genre, but I always enjoy reading outside of my comfort zone. Anabelle Bryant has delivered another sizzling romance that kept me hooked from start to finish!

Max SInclair is the owner of The Underworld, a gambling hall where people go to let loose and spend big. However, pain lives at Max’s core; his mother was brutally murdered and he’s out for revenge. By running The Underworld, he’s hoping he can enlist the help of some of the dark characters it attracts. He doesn’t bargain, however, on Lady Vivienne Beaumont…

Anabelle Bryant’s strengths lie in creating wonderfully-drawn world and characters, and these strengths are evident in The Den of Iniquity. The descriptions of Max, Vivienne and the host of background characters are beautifully vivid and visual and I loved  being able to picture them in my head. The chemistry between Max and Vivienne was delicious throughout, as was Max’s conflict between his desire for revenge and his love for Vivienne.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book. Anabelle Bryant’s signature style and flair were stamped all over it and made it a highly enjoyable tale of romance and revenge.

Amazon: http://amzn.to/2h5FK1c

B & N:  http://bit.ly/2hNKi9Q

Kobo: http://bit.ly/2hRLEiM

Bio:

Anabelle Bryant is the bestselling author of seven historical romances. Her love of writing keeps her busy in front of her laptop when not in front of a classroom or traveling, her favorite preoccupation.

Thrilled to be writing for HarperCollins, Anabelle’s Regency Rogues trilogy and Regency Charms quartet are bestselling collections. Her historical romances are high concept, character driven stories which provide a heartfelt connection between hero, heroine, and the reader, believing the emotional journey on the path to true love is the most important bond.

The Den of Iniquity is book one in her newest series, Bastards of London, an edgier look at the Regency. Anabelle enjoys hears from readers and talking all things bookish. Visit AnabelleBryant.com and see what she’s up to on Facebook and Twitter.

Social Media Links:

Website: http://www.anabellebryant.com

Facebook Author Page: https://www.facebook.com/AnabelleBryantAuthor

Twitter: @AnabelleBryant

YouTube Channel: http://bit.ly/1r0TjsY

Pinterest Boards: https://www.pinterest.com/anabellebryant/boards/

Brake Failure by Alison Brodie Review

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Blurb

Brake Failure is a contemporary romance with humour, suspense and a kick-ass heroine.  The story is set in one of the most fascinating periods of America’s history:  the months leading up to Y2K “melt-down.”

“Is it too late to tell him you love him when you’re looking down the barrel of his gun?”

Ruby Mortimer-Smyth is an English debutante, destined for Ladies Day at Ascot and taking tea at The Savoy. She knows the etiquette for every occasion and her soufflés NEVER collapse.

She is in control of her life, tightly in control.  Until fate dumps her down in … Kansas.

Ruby believes that life is like a car; common-sense keeps it on the road, passion sends it into a ditch. What she doesn’t know is, she’s on a collision course with Sheriff Hank Gephart.

Sheriff Hank Gephart can judge a person.  Miss Mortimer-Smyth might act like the Duchess of England but just under the surface there’s something bubbling, ready to explode.  She’s reckless, and she’s heading for brake failure.  And he’s not thinking about her car.

With the Millennium approaching, Ruby gets caught up in the Y2K hysteria.  She joins a group of Survivalists, who give her a gun and advise her to stockpile basic essentials, such as gasoline and water-purifying tablets.  So she bulk-buys Perrier, Gentleman’s Relish and macaroons.

Ruby, far from home, is making Unsuitable Friends and “finding herself” for the first time.  She falls in with a gang of Hells Angels and falls foul of the law.  At every turn, she comes up hard against Sheriff Hank Gephart, whose blue eyes seem to look deep into her soul.  She desperately wants him but knows she can never have him.

She’s angry at the emotions he arouses in her.  Pushed to her limit, she bursts from her emotional straightjacket.

As the clock strikes midnight of the new Millennium, she’s on a freight train with three million dollars, a bottle of Wild Turkey and a smoking gun.

What happened to Miss Prim-and-Proper?   And why did she shoot Mr Right?

Review

If ever there was a book about someone being firmly shoved out of their comfort zone, it’s this one! Ruby Mortimer-Smyth is definitely not the type of woman you’d usually find in Kansas; more like afternoon tea at a posh hotel or rubbing shoulders with royalty. Yet Kansas is exactly where she finds herself…in more ways than one! It’s in this most unlikely of surroundings that Ruby has the opportunity to discover who she really is, even if Sheriff Hank Gephart keeps popping up with those blue eyes of his.

I love stories about characters who find themselves in totally unfamiliar surroundings, and this one does it with a great dose of humour. Ruby finds herself in the most madcap situations, but they all help her uncover the person she really is. I loved seeing her journey throughout the book, from elegant debutante to the polar opposite! Her chemistry with Hank is evident throughout. Although he’s the last man she thinks she’ll fall for, the fact that she does ties in nicely with the book’s theme: you never know what’s around the corner.

If the January blues are getting you down, pick up this book to chase them away.

***GIVEAWAY***

Click the link below for your chance to win a $25 (or equivalent) Amazon gift card!

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/bf633057108/?

Author Bio

Alison Brodie is a Scot, with French Huguenot ancestors on her mother’s side.  Alison was a photographic model for a wide range of products, such as Ducatti motorbikes and 7Up.  She was also the vampire in the Schweppes commercial.

A disastrous modelling assignment in the Scottish Highlands gave Alison an idea for her first romance novel, Face to Face.  It was taken up by Dinah Wiener, the first agent Alison sent it to.  Three weeks later, Alison signed a two-book deal with Hodder & Stoughton.  Subsequently, Face to Face was published in English, German and Dutch.  “Vain, but wildly funny leading lady.” -Scottish Daily Mail.  It was also chosen as Good Housekeeping’s “Pick of the Paperbacks.”

Unfortunately, Alison then suffered from Second-Book Syndrome.  The publisher’s deadline loomed but Alison couldn’t think of a story!  She found the whole experience a nightmare; and this is why she cautions first-time authors not to sign a multi-book deal unless they are prepared!

Alison lived in Kansas for two years.  She loved the people, their friendliness, the history and the BBQs!  Now, she lives in Biarritz, France with her rescue mutt, Bayley.

Alison’s previous release, THE DOUBLE, was published to rave reviews:

“Proof of her genius in writing fiction…Excellent.” –San Francisco Book Review.

Goodreads:https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/31683339-brake-failure

Twitter: https://twitter.com/alisonbrodie2

Website: http://alisonbrodiebooks.com

Facebook PAGE: https://www.facebook.com/AlisonBrodieAuthor/

Pinterest:  https://fr.pinterest.com/a_brodie/

Buy Links

 

Amazon US: http://amzn.to/2hJfKph

Amazon Canada: http://amzn.to/2gLOUef

Amazon UK: http://amzn.to/2gLNTDh

Be My Baby by A L Michael Review

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Blurb

Two’s company… 

If you asked Mollie whether she struggled as a single mum, she’d have to cover her daughter’s ears before answering. Surrounded by friends, watching Esme grow into the sassiest eleven-year-old in North London, and building her name as TV chef Mollie Makes, Mollie’s never been happier. Well, that’s what she’d tell you. But as her best friends pair off, and Esme starts getting into trouble at school, Mollie wonders whether life would be different – not better…but easier – with a team mate.

Three’s a crowd?

But Esme’s dad, Jamie, would be the last man Mollie would team up with. After all, he made it clear eleven years ago that he wasn’t interested in playing the family game. So when he suddenly reappears, Mollie can’t believe her eyes. And soon, she’s got to ask herself the hardest question yet: she knows she can succeed as a single mum. But what if her daughter doesn’t want her to?

Review

I’ve thoroughly enjoyed A L Michael’s magical The House on Camden Square series, but this book has to be my favourite of all. Mollie has stood out as my favourite character throughout the three books and I was so excited to gain an insight into her story.

A L Michael expertly crafts Mollie as the perfect blend of sweet and strong. She’s a fantastic mother to Esme (who is just about the funniest kid character I’ve ever read!) yet when it comes to Jamie – the thorn in her side – she’s vulnerable and scared of being hurt. Ever since their teenage romance fell apart, it’s clear he’s always lurked in the back of her mind. When he comes back after so many years, will she give him another chance? Or will single dad Max prove to be her perfect match instead? Even I wasn’t sure right till the very end!
This book was so emotive and packed full of warmth. A L Michael has again shown her expertise in creating gloriously flawed and well-rounded characters. They say things they don’t mean, make mistakes, but also redeem themselves in spectacular ways. I spent more than a few late nights on this book because I was just so excited to see what would happen next. Be My Baby served as a perfect farewell to Evie, Chelsea, Mollie and of course, the unforgettable Ruby Tuesday. I’ll certainly miss them.

Links:

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/30619784-be-my-baby?ac=1&from_search=true

Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B01FCQFJ8O/ref=x_gr_w_bb?ie=UTF8&tag=x_gr_w_bb_uk-21&link
Code=as2&camp=1634&creative=6738

About A.L. Michael

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A.L Michael is a writer and workshop leader from North London. She has a BA in Creative Writing with English Lit, an MA in Creative Entrepreneurship and is starting an MsC in Creative Writing for Therapeutic Purposes. She likes learning and hates essays.

She’s a fan of cheap wine, expensive chocolate and still wants to be a secret agent when she grows up, but she’ll settle for lying on the page.

Links:

Website: http://www.almichael.com/

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/almichael_

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/A.L.Michael.writer/?fref=ts

Alora’s Tear Volume 1: Fragments by Nate Barham Review

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Blurb

There is no magic in Vladvir…

Tucked away in a quiet valley, the community of Tolarenz offers a refuge and safe haven for its people, keeping persecution at bay. One young citizen—Askon son of Teral—is destined to lead them, but first he must leave them behind: one final mission, in service of the king.

In the north, leering nightmare creatures known as the Norill gather. Their armor is bone and skin; their weapons are black and crude and cold. They strike in the night, allies to the darkness. It is to them Askon marches, his men a bulwark against the threat.

For there is no magic in Vladvir.

What Askon finds when he arrives seems impossible: smoke and fire, death and defeat, and all around a suffocating sense of dread. The Norill seek something they call ‘the Stone of Mountain,’ but in the half-remembered stories from Askon’s childhood, it was always ‘Alora’s Tear’: a gem with powers great and terrible. A gem that cannot exist.

Unless there is magic in Vladvir…

Review

This book was a richly-woven tale of fantasy that reminded me of J R R Tolkien at his best. Vladvir was expertly described and the characters were fully fleshed out. Askon was a great hero of the story, setting off on his quest for the king and encountering all manner of nightmares on the way. I certainly wouldn’t like to meet a Norill on a dark night! They covet Alora’s Tear, a jewel that would give them powers too great to imagine. But it doesn’t exist. Or does it…?

I would recommend this book to fans of J R R Tolkien or people who like absorbing, engaging tales of adventure, power and the depths people will sink to for it. The themes were richly explored and I loved how  the human struggles were woven into the world of fantasy and magic.

Tucked away in a quiet valley, the community of Tolarenz offers a refuge and safe haven for its people, keeping persecution at bay. One young citizen—Askon son of Teral—is destined to lead them, but first he must leave them behind: one final mission, in service of the king.

In the north, leering nightmare creatures known as the Norill gather. Their armor is bone and skin; their weapons are black and crude and cold. They strike in the night, allies to the darkness. It is to them Askon marches, his men a bulwark against the threat.

For there is no magic in Vladvir.

What Askon finds when he arrives seems impossible: smoke and fire, death and defeat, and all around a suffocating sense of dread. The Norill seek something they call ‘the Stone of Mountain,’ but in the half-remembered stories from Askon’s childhood, it was always ‘Alora’s Tear’: a gem with powers great and terrible. A gem that cannot exist.

Unless there is magic in Vladvir…

Buy Links

Barham Ink | iBooks | Amazon | Nook | Kobo

Bio
Nathan spends most of his working days with the students of Genesee Junior-Senior High School in Genesee, Idaho. Whether it’s essay structure, a classic literary work, or the occasional impromptu dance routine, he strives to keep students interested in the fun and the fundamentals of the English language.

When he’s not teaching, he wears a number of hats, though the one that says “Dad” is the most careworn and cherished (it says “Husband” on the back). It hangs on a hook in a house where music is a constant and all the computers say “Apple” somewhere on their aluminium facades. From time to time it is said that he ventures into the mysterious realm called outside, though the occasion is rare and almost exclusively upon request by son or daughter.

Author Links

Website | Tumblr | Twitte

Snow Flakes and Christmas Cakes by Lindsey Paley Review

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Giveaway

UK ONLY. 1 eBook copy of Snowflakes and Christmas Cakes and an actual Christmas cake. Mmm! http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/bf633057101/?

Blurb

When all-round buttercream princess, Millie Carter, becomes stranded at Craiglea Manor Cookery School, she believes her chance of enjoying a merry festive season is over.


The village of Aisford is Christmas-card perfect, but Millie hates it – she hates the snow, her freezing fingertips, and being forced to look like her Aunt Marjory in a mud-splattered wax jacket and wellies instead of her beloved shorts and sparkly sandals. 

She plots her escape but ends up locking spatulas with the estate manager, Fergus McKenzie, who is forced to rescue her before she succumbs to a severe dose of hypothermia. Things start to improve with the arrival of handsome Sam Morgan, fresh from the beaches and rum shacks of the Caribbean. 

Can Millie accept her fate? And will Aisford sprinkle some of its seasonal magic on her troubles? 

Snowflakes and Christmas Cakes is a festive story of love and friendship and reaching for the buttercream icing and edible glitter when life gets tough.

Review

I love a good Christmas romance and this book delivers on every level. To say that Millie Carter is a fish out on water in Aisford is a pretty big understatement! Usually found in the south of France, she agrees to spend Christmas with her sister in England, but ends up reluctantly taking her place as cookery demonstrator at Craiglea Manor Cookery School instead. I loved the descriptions of Craiglea Manor and the village of Aisford, they both sounded like lovely places to spend the festive season. Millie’s reluctance to be there was funny; you could just tell she’d rather be back in the south of France instead of stuck in England with frosty estate manager Fergus Mackenzie. I really enjoyed the dynamic between them; they butted heads from the second they met and I loved the back-and-forth between them. Then there’s the very handsome Sam Morgan, who’s just flown in from the Caribbean. Who steals Millie’s heart over the festive season? I couldn’t possibly say…

Snow Flakes and Christmas Cakes marks the start of what I’m sure will be an absolutely fantastic series. Millie, although quite standoffish at first, eventually draws the reader in and even I wasn’t sure who she’d choose in the run up to the end. She rose to the challenge of teaching Craiglea Manor’s guests to cook with some hilarious results thrown in for good measure!

Buy Links:

Amazon.co.uk: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Snowflakes-Christmas-Cakes-Camille-Carter-ebook/dp/B00ZRPVB4W/ref=sr_1_4?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1466418451&sr=1-4&keywords=lindsey+paley

Amazon.com: https://www.amazon.com/Snowflakes-Christmas-Cakes-Camille-Carter-ebook/dp/B00ZRPVB4W/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1466418732&sr=8-1&keywords=lindsey+paley

Author Bio

Lindsey Paley is a Yorkshire girl and author of contemporary romance novels with page-turning plotlines and satisfying endings. When not scribbling away in her peppermint and cream writer’s retreat (shed) she loves baking cakes, enjoying a spot of afternoon tea with friends and taking long walks in the countryside. Snowflakes and Christmas Cakes is the first book in the Camille Carter series set in the beautiful Lake District and the Caribbean. The latest in the series is April Showers and Wedding Flowers and is out now.

Author Links:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/lindsey.paley.9

Twitter: https://twitter.com/LindseyPaley1