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A Christmas Miracle in the Little Irish Village by Michelle Vernal #Review

  Michelle Vernal's A Christmas Miracle in the Little Irish Village was published on September 27th by Bookoutre . Ava Kelly loves returning to Emerald Bay for Christmas. Snowflakes fall on the green rolling hills and mulled wine fills The Shamrock Inn with the smell of winter spice. But this year, the Kelly family is hoping for a miracle… When twenty-four-year-old Ava Kelly and her adventurous twin Grace return home to The Shamrock Inn, their Ma’s favourite baubles bring back so many memories of Christmases past. They have always done everything together, even leaving their little Irish village for the excitement of London. But with the locket her handsome ex Shane gave her hanging just above her heart, Ava has just one wish this festive season… After a year stuck in a job she can’t stand and going on dreadful dates, Ava longs to be back with Shane. Curling up in front of the fire with him, the brooding fisherman everyone else sees melts away as his blue eyes meet hers.

Quieter Than Killing by Sarah Hilary ** Blog Tour Guest Post**

    I'm pleased and excited to welcome Sarah Hilary to Books, Life and Everything today as part of the Blog Tour to celebrate the publication of her latest crime novel, Quieter Than Killing. This is the 4th featuring Detective Marnie Rome and Sarah has kindly agreed to tell us more about creating Marnie Rome. First though, a little about the book:

 Marnie and Noah are investigating a series of assaults. The attacks appear to be random, the targets young and old, men and women, but all were convicted of violent crimes and recently released. They are on the perpetrator's trail when outside events come to the fore. Marnie's parents' house has been targeted by a gang of youths, her tenants attacked in an apparent robbery and Marnie can't help but feel there's a connection to Stephen, her foster brother. Noah's brother Sol is about to fall foul of the gang he pretends not to be involved in. As they investigate they begin to question whether all three cases linked... after all some crimes are quieter and more insidious than killing...

Welcome to Books, Life and Everything, Sarah. ! And now, over to you!

Writing Marnie Rome

Sherlock Holmes, Tom Ripley and Clarice Starling all play a part in how I write Marnie Rome. Sherlock got in first, whispering in my ear when I was ten about the appeal of a hero with hidden depths. Tom Ripley convinced me that a good character could be made better by being bad. But it wasn’t until I read The Silence of the Lambs and witnessed Clarice Starling’s unique brand of courage, full of very human cracks, that inspiration really took hold.

Looking back, it all seems terribly logical; all roads led to Marnie Rome. But there was a time when I didn’t know she existed, and a time when I thought she was a straight-die detective without secrets of any kind. Perhaps there was a clue in the way she arrived (in a story that came before my debut, Someone Else’s Skin): biker-booted, hiding behind contact lenses. It took a bit of digging to scratch beneath her surface. Marnie doesn’t give up her secrets easily and she has a talent for surprising me, which I hope means she surprises readers, too.

I don’t believe in characters who ‘write themselves’, in case you were imagining something of that sort. Sooner or later you have to sit down and write them yourself. But Marnie has a habit of standing at my shoulder as I write, and shaking her head when I get stuff wrong (such as the time I was about to give her a third cup of coffee and she pointed out that what she actually wanted was a Peroni). Conan Doyle ended up hating Sherlock Holmes, which doesn’t usually happen unless your character has taken on a life of his or her own. I can’t envisage a time when I’ll hate Marnie, but she’s certainly taken on a life that’s at least partly independent of my plans for her. In my latest book, Quieter Than Killing, she surprised me on more than one occasion.

When Someone Else’s Skin came out, someone asked me how hard it was to balance Marnie’s character traits, “She’s psychologically damaged, yet incredibly strong.” Well, I associate strong characters with survival – Marnie’s trauma made her the woman she is; not just strong but compassionate, too. My grandmother, who survived a Japanese PoW camp as a young mother, always said that the trauma she suffered made her a stronger (and better) person. So I think in my mind, the two attributes go hand in hand.

All my favourite characters in fiction are both human and unique. Flawed, yes, but in all the right ways. I like to think Marnie and Clarice Starling would get on a storm.
Thank you, Sarah. What a great insight into your work.  I wonder what else Marnie Rome has in store.
My Thoughts
    Well I am a little late to the party here as this is the first Marnie Rome book that I have read. However, no matter, as I soon picked up on the fact that she is a feisty, complicated character. I found the novel to be full of twists and turns, set in a dark and complex  hinterland of abuse, bullying and intimidation. Family life is seen as a place of danger rather than safety and innocence seems to be trampled in the dust. 

    I particularly enjoyed how family relationships were stripped bare. You sense how the police partners work together at the same time having family tensions which tug at their conscience. This is a multi-layered plotline and I did have to concentrate to keep abreast with the storyline. However, you are taken to a dark world of subertuge and the depth of the plot and characterisation carries you through.  
In short: deep, dark, mesmerising- I loved it!    
About the Author

Sarah Hilary has worked as a bookseller, and with the Royal Navy. Her debut, SOMEONE ELSE'S SKIN, won Theakstons Crime Novel of the Year 2015 and was a World Book Night selection for 2016. The Observer's Book of the Month ("superbly disturbing) and a Richard & Judy Book Club bestseller, it has been published worldwide. NO OTHER DARKNESS, the second in the series was shortlisted for a Barry Award in the US and was published in 2015. Her DI Marnie Rome series continued with TASTES LIKE FEAR and her fourth book, QUIETER THAN KILLING, is out now.

Follow Sarah on Twitter at @Sarah_Hilary

Thanks to Katie Brown and the Headline Publishing Group via Bookbridgr for a copy of the book and a place on the tour.
Check out the rest of the Tour!


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