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The Secret Daughter of Venice, by Juliet Greenwood

The Secret Daughter of Venice book cover


1941, Kate Arden has grown up in the English countryside but has always felt different to her brothers and sisters. She doesn’t want to be bound by patriarchal convention and is teased by flickering glimpses of a secret past that she only patrially remembers…
The Secret Daughter of Venice is an historical novel set in the UK and Italy during WW2.
Kate knows she is different and has always endured comments from the local villagers. She wants to find the truth about her past and believes there is a secret hidden in a bequested book, if only she could find it. Kate doesn’t want to settle down and become a wife. I really liked her modern outlook and this endeared her to me.
The book is written to show the experience of Kate and Sofia. The war has made Kate even more determined to follow her own dreams even if they are at odds with her family and social convention. Meanwhile, in Italy, Sofia is searching for her lost daughter…
Both women are strong, determined and passionate so I instantly liked them both. There are bucketfuls of emotion as well as historical and geographical detail to bring the characters, plot and setting to life. I felt invested in the characters and wanted them to find each other and peace (inner and world).
The Secret Daughter of Venice is an emotional and well researched historical novel.
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Book blurb: The Secret Daughter of Venice
The paper is stiff and brittle with age as Kate unfolds it with trembling hands. She gasps at the pencil sketch of a rippling waterway, lined by tall buildings, curving towards the dome of a cathedral. She feels a connection deep in her heart. Venice.
England, 1941. When Kate Arden discovers a secret stash of drawings hidden in the pages of an old volume of poetry given to her as a baby, her breath catches. All her life, she has felt like an outsider in her aristocratic adoptive family, who refuse to answer any questions about her past. But the drawings spark a forgotten memory: a long journey by boat… warm arms that held her tight, and then let go.
Could these pictures unlock the secret of who she is? Why her mother left her? With war raging around the continent, she will brave everything to find out…
A gripping, emotional historical novel of love and art that will captivate fans of The Venice SketchbookThe Woman on the Bridge and The Nightingale.
Purchase Links
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Author Bio –
Juliet Greenwood is a historical novelist published by Storm Publishing. Her previous novel, The Last Train from Paris, was published to rave reviews and reached the top 100 kindle chart in the USA. She has long been inspired by the histories of the women in her family, and in particular with how strong-minded and independent women have overcome the limitations imposed on them by the constraints of their time, and the way generations of women hold families and communities together in times of crisis, including during WW2.
After graduating in English from Lancaster University and Kings College, London, Juliet worked on a variety of jobs to support her ambition to be a full-time writer. These ranged from running a craft stall at Covent Garden to running a small charity working with disadvantaged children, and collecting oral histories of traditional villages before they are lost forever. She finally achieved her dream of becoming a published author following a debilitating viral illness, with her first novel being a finalist for The People’s Book Prize and her first two novels reaching #4 and #5 in the UK Kindle store.
Juliet now lives in a traditional quarryman’s cottage in Snowdonia, North Wales, set between the mountains and the sea, with an overgrown garden (good for insects!) and a surprisingly successful grapevine. She can be found dog walking in all weathers working on the plot for her next novel, camera to hand.
Social Media Links –
Storm:                   https://stormpublishing.co/
Website:              http://www.julietgreenwood.co.uk/
Blog:                      http://julietgreenwoodauthor.wordpress.com/
Facebook:            https://www.facebook.com/juliet.greenwood
Twitter: https://twitter.com/julietgreenwood
Instagram:           https://www.instagram.com/julietgreenwood/
BlueSky https://bsky.app/profile/julietgreenwood.bsky.social
Giveaway to Win 3 x Signed copies of The Secret Daughter of Venice (Open to UK Only)
*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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The Art of Murder, by Fiona Walker

The Art of Murder book cover

Phoebe is a crime writer, always looking for new ways to kill off her characters. Her writing is paused as she helps her friend Juno look for a new home in the village. But both women are soon investigating a local murder…
The Art of Murder is the first book in the new Village Detectives series set in the fictional village of Inkbury in the UK.
Juno returns to the UK to help her mum move into a retirement home and meet the new love of her life. She is instantly mistrustful of her mother’s beau whose first 3 wives all died and she wants to protect her mum from the same fate. Juno and Phoebe witness a blazing row between a couple over dinner and one of them is found dead soon after.
There is a wonderful comedic tone to the style of writing which contrasts lightness against the murderous content. Juno was formerly a stand up comic while Phoebe is an author so both have a great turn of phrase. The interactions, banter and dialogue between the whole range of characters felt natural as well as showing affection and emotion. I did feel that the chapters were a little long but that is my personal preference for short chapters to increase the pace of the plot developments.
The Art of Murder is a fun start to a new series. I liked the friendships and relationships depicted in the book and look forward to seeing how they develop over the series.


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The Art of Murder
Welcome to the beautiful English village of Inkbury. Tucked deep in the North Wessex Downs, its only claim to fame is the picturesque riverside that once appeared in a Richard Curtis movie. That is, until the murder…
Former stand-up comic Juno Mulligan has been suffering a serious sense-of-humour failure. Not only has she lost the love of her life, but she’s having to relocate to the (admittedly idyllic) village of Inkbury to watch out for her elderly mother, who she’s genuinely worried might be marrying a wife-killer.
She hopes that her old friend, disgraced-journalist-turned-novelist Phoebe Fredericks can help her crack the case of whether her mother’s perma-tanned, iceberg-smiled, three-times-a-widower fiancé is hiding a murderous past.
But before they have a chance, the local art dealer washes up distinctly dead in the village’s famous river. His lover is in the frame, but Juno and Phoebe suspect that there is a deeper secret… One that relates to Phoebe’s own past and Juno’s present.
Will the unofficial Village Detective Agency solve the mystery before the killer strikes again? In sleepy Inkbury, as they soon discover, living one’s best midlife can be murder.
Purchase Link – https://mybook.to/TheArtofMurdersocial
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Author Bio –
Fiona Walker is the million copy bestselling author of joyously funny romantic comedies. Most recently published by Head of Zeus, she will be turning to cozy crime for Boldwood. The first in her new Village Detectives series, The Art of Murder, will be published in May 2024.
Social Media Links –
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/fionawalkeruk
Twitter: https://twitter.com/fionawalkeruk
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/fionawalkeruk/
Newsletter Sign Up: https://bit.ly/FionaWalkerNews
Bookbub profile: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/fiona-walker

The Affair, by Claire Allan

The Affair book cover
Reclusive Christina is trying to build up her confidence after the end of a relationship. She joins a women’s only social group headed up by influencer Sorcha. Will she make friends and change her life for the better? Or will the past catch up with her…?
The Affair is a psychological thriller set in the UK.
The prologue starts off with a wild swimming incident between two characters and then the book goes back in the timeline to show how they get to that situation. Christina has been through a bad break up and her confidence is at rock bottom. She is almost obsessed with successful influencer Sorcha and decides to emulate her by joining her social group.
The book is written from Christina and Sorcha’s first person perspectives so that we can understand their emotions and actions. My sympathy was initially directed at Christina as she is so low emotionally and I could relate to her social anxiety. Her bravery in reaching out to an empowerment group was quite touching but there is also a slightly sinister overtone to her focus on Sorcha.
Initially it is quite a slow burn as we establish the scenario and main characters. There are hints about the link between the women in the first chapters but I liked the way we find out Sorcha’s awareness about a quarter of the way through the book. The style of writing was easy to read and the plot twists built the tension as the book progressed.
The Affair is an entertaining psychological thriller with two clearly defined female lead characters.
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The Affair
Her heart is thumping now, only just distinguishable from the roar of the water and the wind. This is not safe. She is not safe…
She realises then, only one of them is coming back out alive.
She’s the person I want to be. Sorcha Hannon, survivor of a devastating affair. She’s found the healing and hope I desperately need to find for myself.
And now that Sorcha and I are friends, I am no longer alone. Instead of days hiding away from the world, I have someone to talk to. I feel as if I finally belong.
There’s just one small catch. Sorcha Hannon isn’t just a new friend to me, and she certainly isn’t a stranger. In fact, I know the ins and outs of her life, and her marriage, almost as well as she does. But if she finds out who I really am, I’ll lose everything. Then again, as Sorcha says, no one’s life is really as perfect as it seems… and I should have realised, I’m not the only one with secrets.
Purchase Link – https://mybook.to/theaffairsocial
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Author Bio –
Claire Allan is a bestselling author of psychological thrillers and, in the past, women’s fiction.
A former reporter with the Derry Journal, she published eight contemporary women’s fiction novels with Poolbeg Press in Ireland before becoming a full time author, and switching genre to ‘unleash her darker side’
Her first domestic noir novel, Her Name Was Rose was published by Avon/ HarperCollins in 2018 and was an instant bestseller in several countries. Claire’s novels have been translated into multiple languages.
Latterly. Claire worked as a story consultant on series one of the huge successful BBC drama series ‘Blue Lights’ with Two Cities Productions. She has also written a number of rom-coms under the pen-name Freya Kennedy, and supported Sunday Times Bestseller Serena Terry while she was writing her Mammy Banter titles.
In 2023 Claire signed a multi-book deal with Boldwood Books to write four thrillers as Claire Allan, and three rom-coms as Freya Kennedy, securing her publishing into 2026.
Social Media Links
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ClaireAllanAuthor
Twitter: https://twitter.com/ClaireAllan
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/claireallan_author/
Newsletter Sign Up: https://bit.ly/ClaireAllanNews
Bookbub profile: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/claire-allan

Cooking Fever Duels game review

My latest gaming venture has begun! I have playec Cooking Fever almost every day for over 15 years and it is one of my favourite games. Cooking Fever Duels has been around for a while but I was only recently tempted to download it.

The aim of the game is the same as the original: to serve customers their food and drink orders as quickly as possible to earn coins and XP. The extra dimension is the competitive aspect where you have to be quicker than your opponent.

The levels are the same as the main game and you begin with the Fast Food Court making burgers and hotdogs. As you earn tokens and coins, you can upgrade ingredients and appliances to increase your chance of winning.

At first I found the game quite frustrating as I seemed to always lose. Upgrades really improve the play experience. I really don’t like the boosters as you have no idea if your opponent is using them until the end screen. You think you are doing awfully due to your playing not the opponent having an advantage!
I have noticed that I always win against AI components and that cerain times of day I’m more likely to play these than ‘real’ people. It helps to build up XP but the satisfaction isn’t so high.
Will I keep playing? Yes, but I’m not as avid a player as I am on the original which has many more levels and restaurants. Would I recommend the game? Yes, especially if you enjoy the challenge of real life and real time opponents.
Have you played Cooking Fever Duels? What do you enjoy best?

The Temptation of Elizabeth Tudor, by Elizabeth Norton

1547, Elizabeth Tudor, illegitimate daughter of Henry VIII, is a pawn on the political stage as well as trying to deal with teenage hormones and first love. Her place in the succession puts her at risk of being used for political gain but also puts her very life in danger…
The Temptation of Elizabeth Tudor is a non fiction book about the teenage years of Elizabeth I and a potential explanation for her later transformation into the Virgin Queen.
This book had a looooong waiting list on my library app so I had very high expectations. In the event, I had very mixed feelings about this book. The research and detail is exemplary and Tudor life is vividly depicted. The personal and political are intrinsically linked as the young princess tries to survive in a patriarchal world.
However, there is a lot of focus on the political machinations of Somerset and Seymour, and sometimes Elizabeth’s name isn’t mentioned for pages. I think the temptations of Seymour would have been a more apt title as it focuses on his desire for power which he aims to achieve through personal relationships with the former queen and her stepdaughter.
The Temptation of Elizabeth Tudor is a detailed historical work but the emphasis was not always on its subject.
The Temptation of Elizabeth Tudor book coverBook blurb
England, late 1547. Henry VIII is dead. His 14-year-old daughter Elizabeth is living with the old king’s widow Catherine Parr and her new husband Thomas Seymour. Ambitious, charming and dangerous, Seymour begins an overt flirtation with Elizabeth that ends in her being sent away by Catherine.
When Catherine dies in autumn 1548 and Seymour is arrested for treason soon after, the scandal explodes into the open. Alone and in dreadful danger, Elizabeth is closely questioned by the king’s regency council: Was she still a virgin? Was there a child? Had she promised to marry Seymour? In her replies, she shows the shrewdness and spirit she would later be famous for. She survives the scandal. Thomas Seymour is not so lucky.
The Seymour Scandal led to the creation of the Virgin Queen. On hearing of Seymour’s beheading, Elizabeth observed ‘This day died a man of much wit, and very little judgement’. His fate remained with her. She would never allow her heart to rule her head again.