Wednesday, 25 April 2018

Book Review - A Home at Honeysuckle Farm by Christie Barlow

Amazon UK
Title:  A Home at Honeysuckle Farm
Author: Christie Barlow
Format reviewed: Ebook
Source: Netgalley
Publisher: Harper Impulse
Publication Date: 6th April 2018
Rating: 5 Stars

A family secret

One shocking argument and ten-year-old Alice Parker’s world was turned upside down. Her peaceful life at Honeysuckle Farm in the quiet rural village of Brook Bridge swapped for the bustling metropolis of New York City. Alice’s life was changed forever…

A second chance

Now, thirteen years later, Alice’s American dream is over. With her life in tatters, there is only one place Alice wants to be… home at Honeysuckle Farm. So, when Alice learns her beloved Grandie is ill, she knows this is her last chance to heal the family rift.

A forever home?

But secrets still swirl in Brook Bridge, and Alice is no closer to discovering the truth. And for some reason her new friendship with local heartthrob Sam Reid seems to be making the locals tense.

Sick of the lies Alice knows it’s time to lay the past to rest once and for all. But could the truth ruin her hopes of ever calling Honeysuckle Farm home again?

Wow this is yet again proof of what I think I may have said before, Christie Barlow is getting better and better with every single book. This was superb, I was hooked instantly, desperate to know what the big secret was that meant that Alice and her mum moved suddenly to New York,13 years ago, and why Alice hadn't seen her beloved Grandie in that time. 

And when you do get to the reveal, lets just say I didn't see that coming, although it makes complete and utter sense.  Before that though there are many other secrets to  unravel, an emotional homecoming for Alice, and an offer that could lead to her changing her life for the better. 

Oh and lets not forget a simply gorgeous guy, if the rest of the small community can get past something that happened before Alice was even born. 

Although this is all about Honeysuckle Farm as a sense of home,  this is not a book set on a farm as such, more around Alice's love of dance and theatre, and with a chance to right some wrongs, and reboot her own life, I loved seeing what the author had in store for Alice next. 

At various times when I was reading this I felt as though I was on the verge of tears, and by the end I had shivers and goosebumps with the mosts wonderful finale.  I loved every second of this book, and just wish I could take a time machine to transport me back to the start of the book again, so that I can discover its greatness again for the first time! 

Thank you to Harper Impulse and Netgalley for this copy which I have reviewed honestly and voluntarily. 

Tuesday, 24 April 2018

Book Review - The Purrfect Pet Sitter by Carol Thomas

Amazon UK
Title: The Purrfect Pet Sitter
Author: Carol Thomas
Format reviewed: Ebook
Source: Netgalley
Publisher: Ruby Fiction 
Publication Date: 24th April 2018
Rating: 4 Stars

Introducing Lisa Blake, the purrfect pet sitter! 
When Lisa Blake’s life in London falls apart, she returns to her hometown rebranding herself as ‘the purrfect pet sitter’ – which may or may not be false advertising as she has a rather unfortunate habit of (temporarily) losing dogs! 

But being back where she grew up, Lisa can’t escape her past. There’s her estranged best friend Flick who she bumps into in an embarrassing encounter in a local supermarket. And her first love, Nathan Baker, who, considering their history, is sure to be even more surprised by her drunken Facebook friend request than Lisa is. 

As she becomes involved in the lives of her old friends Lisa must confront the hurt she has caused, discover the truth about her mysterious leather-clad admirer, and learn how to move forward when the things she wants most are affected by the decisions of her past.

Once I got into the groove of this book, I thoroughly enjoyed it.  This is a book about regaining old friendships, old flames re-appearing and how to move forward with your life.  

For a book about a pet sitter there seemed to be a disappointing amount of animals featured, with predominately just one dog that was key to the story, as is Lisa's friendship with Jack's owner Winnie, For Winnie is one of very few new friends that Lisa has made since returning to her childhood town. 

We also get to know Felicity with her four children, which added a nice bit of contrast to Lisa's rather more solo story, but it wasn't until their stories interlink that I really felt the book started to get going. At which point I enjoyed the various dynamics a lot more and there are some utterly hilarious scenes. 

The Purrfect Pet Sitter is a good story that I was really entertained by on a wet and windy bank holiday weekend. It took me on a lovely journey of personal growth and even features a couple of gorgeous men too.   

Thank you to Netgalley and Ruby Fiction for this copy which I have reviewed honestly and voluntarily. 

Monday, 23 April 2018

Book Review - The Babysitter by Sheryl Browne - Rachel Reads Randomly Book #95

Amazon UK
Title:  The Babysitter
Author: Sheryl Browne
Format reviewed: Ebook
Source: Netgalley
Publisher: Bookouture
Publication Date: 8th March 2018
Rating: 4 Stars

You trust her with your family. Would you trust her with your life?

Mark and Melissa Cain are thrilled to have found Jade, a babysitter who is brilliant with their young children. Having seen her own house burn to the ground, Jade needs them as much as they need her. Moving Jade into the family home can only be a good thing, can’t it?

As Mark works long hours as a police officer and Melissa struggles with running a business, the family become ever more reliant on their babysitter, who is only too happy to help. And as Melissa begins to slip into depression, it’s Jade who is left picking up the pieces.

But Mark soon notices things aren’t quite as they seem. Things at home feel wrong, and as Mark begins to investigate their seemingly perfect sitter, what he discovers shocks him to his core. He’s met Jade before. And now he suspects he might know what she wants …

Mark is in a race against time to protect his family. But what will he find as he goes back to his family home?

From the start you know not to trust the Babysitter, the clue is in the title and the blurb, in fact from the prologue I was 99% positive I had worked out her identity and I would expect most people reading this to get that far in their predictions. 

And yet despite being sure you know what the reveal will be, due to the various perspective the book is written from, and the specifics of the story, I found myself drawn into this rather twisted tale, which contained more horrors than I initially anticipating. 

We get chapters from Melissa and Mark's perspectives and its amazing how they seemed to be seeing various incidents differently and then there were chapters from the Babysitters point of view, in theory meaning the reader was one step ahead of Mark and his family, but in reality, there are still shocks to be had. 

There was just something that seemed to keep the book on my mind constantly until I gave in and sat down to finish it.  It is a story about knowing who you can really trust, whether people really are what they seem, and of some really sloppy police work with one of the most dislikeable colleagues of Mark's that I've met. 

Thank you to Netgalley and Bookouture for this copy which I have reviewed honestly and voluntarily. 

Thank you to everyone that voted for this book this week including Snoops who deserves an honorable mention, as you don't often get dogs voting for their favourite books!  This was definitely a book I needed to read so I thank you all for that and look forward to seeing what wins this week. 

Rachel Reads Randomly - Vote #96

Thank you everyone for your input last time. The results of the last vote were:

3 Votes - Annie's Summer by the Sea by Liz Eeles
6 Votes - The Garden of Small Beginnings by Abbi Waxman
15 Votes  -  The Babysitter by Sheryl Browne

Given the weather this week I was very surprised the the spring/summer looking books didn't get more votes, but not to worry I was delighted to finally read The Babysitter by Sheryl Browne, which had me open eyed in disbelief at some of the events as they unfurled.  

For the next few weeks we will be randomising from my review back log - until each book in the back log has been up for a vote I keep falling further behind this may take a while,   Also hoping it means there are books more of you have heard of and thus will be more engaged with the vote!  

Below is my initial theory for this feature, and then a bit further, what you are all waiting for... This weeks's vote! Enjoy!

I am also awful at deciding what book to read next, as I often have about 10 titles or authors jumping into my brain at any time, shouting at me to read them, and I tend to worry I have made the wrong decision while reading a perfectly good book. I am hoping this will save me having to make at least 1 choice a week, while possibly providing a review to the site of a book you all either love or are curious about yourselves. 

So what I am proposing, is my lovely loyal readers of Rachel's Random Reads, select one book for me to read a week, and I will post the review the following week. 

This week's random numbers are...

And the books these numbers correspond to are...

So the 3 choices with my gut feeling responses are:

3 - My Girlfriend's Perfect Ex-Boyfriend by Peter Jones -  I know this book had great reviews on the blog tour, and I love his writing from previous releases. 
5 - The Undercover Mother by Emma Robinson - There was something as it was announced that made me download it from Netgalley and not just the publisher. I haven't been paying attention to it though,so comments generally are very welcome! 
7 - A Bicycle Made For Two by Mary Jayne Baker - Love this authors sense of humour and have been meaning to read this book since I got it. 

Three fabulously fun sounding books, I know I will be happy with all of the options I just wish I knew how to pick books so that I didn't have such readable sounding things in my backlog!  Clearly far too many great releases at the moment.  I look forward to the outcome. 

And authors, if its your book up on this feature, feel free to take part, vote for yourself, or stir up excitement amongst your fans! 

Pick your favourite or the one you most want me to review, or just the one you are curious about, and leave me a comment below, before midnight on Wednesday. 

I look forward to seeing what I will be reading over the weekend, courtesy of you all. 

The explanation if you haven't seen the feature before. 

How is this going to work?

Every Monday, I am going to have a post like this, which is going to have some choices on it. I am planning on using to select 7 random numbers, to coincide with my spreadsheet of unread books.  

I will from that produce a list of hopefully 5 books, I reserve the right to veto any books, and will give reasons for them, if it occurs.

I will take screenshots and post them, of the chosen books, and also give you my instinctive reactions to the choices (without checking blurbs or any other info about them, which could be interesting as there are probably many forgotten about books on my spreadsheet!). 

Your task is to post a comment on this post, with the book you would like me to read this week. At midnight on Wednesday I will take a tally of the votes and the book with the most, I will read and review for the following Monday, where you will also get a new choice post. 

In the event of a tie, I will chose which one appeals most, for the Monday review, and possibly try and read and review the other to appear when I can. 

I am hoping this will provide some variety to the books appearing, and will let me potentially read or discover some great authors that I have wanted to read but not got around to yet.

Saturday, 21 April 2018

Book Review - The Wedding Date by Zara Stoneley

Amazon UK
Title: The Wedding Date
Author: Zara Stoneley
Format reviewed: Ebook
Source: Netgalley
Publisher: Harper Impulse
Publication Date: 20th April 2018
Rating: 4 Stars

One ex.
One wedding.
One little white lie.

When Samantha Jenkins is asked to be the maid of honour at her best friend’s wedding, she couldn’t be happier. There are just three problems…

1) Sam’s ex-boyfriend, Liam, will be the best man.
2) His new girlfriend is pregnant.
3) Sam might have told people she has a new man when she doesn’t (see points 1 and 2 above)

So, Sam does the only sensible thing available to her… and hires a professional to do the job.

Actor Jake Porter is perfect for the role: single, gorgeous and cheap! Sam is certain it’s the perfect solution: no strings, no heartbreak and hopefully no chance of being found out.

But spending a week in the Scottish Highlands with Jake is harder than she imagined. He is the perfect boyfriend, charming, sexy and the hottest thing in a kilt since Outlander! And his dog Harry is quite possibly the cutest things Sam has ever seen!

As the wedding draws closer, Jake plays his part to perfection and everyone believes he is madly in love with Sam. The problem is, Sam’s not sure if Jake is acting anymore…

This is a lovely and enjoyable story,  that I think would make a great film. However that may be because I years ago watched a film with the same basic premise and in fact same title, ao although I enjoyed the journey and writing, I wasn't overly surprised about the overall story arc. 

Ok there are differences between the film and the book as you would hope being completely different but there was that sense of familiarity with the thoughts that Sam was having throughout. 

Putting all that to one side, this is a book filled with amusing moments, and I think I fell in love with Jake almost instantly. I do love a book with eye candy, and he is more than just a gorgeous actor willing to be a fake boyfriend. 

He is hiding the true reason he is willing to go along with the the charade of being Sam's boyfriend and a date for a week long wedding in Scotland.  I loved how he slipped into the role perfectly and seemed a natural at the various activities on offer, while also absolutely hating on sight Sam's ex-boyfriend who is the best man. 

I really enjoyed the character of Sam too and completely understood her need to go to these lengths, showing just what a good friend she is.   

And of course this wouldn't be a Zara Stoneley book if there weren't horses and dogs involved somewhere, and the two dogs featured are fabulous.  Tank is exactly that and Harry is a larger than life dog who may be very keen on human food, despite the regime he may be apparently on.   The scene involving horses too was great 

Despite my initial thoughts this is easily a book I would recommend to others, it really has everything I look for in a romantic comedy - romance, comedy, gorgeous man, some fabulous scenes, an ex worth hating, funny parents and animals.  This is pure enjoyable escapism and I did really enjoy the whole book. 

Thank you to Netgalley and Harper Impulse for this copy which I have reviewed honestly and voluntarily. 

Friday, 20 April 2018

Book Review - The Postcard by Fern Britton - #HolidayReading Book 30

Book 30 of 30 that I read on my holiday to Fuerteventura in December 2017

Amazon UK
Title: The Postcard
Author: Fern Britton
Format reviewed: Ebook
Source: Netgalley
Publisher: Harper
Publication Date: 29th June 2017
Rating: 5 Stars

Secrets. Sisters. The summer that changed everything . . .

Life in the Cornish village of Pendruggan isn’t always picture perfect. Penny Leighton has never told anyone why she’s estranged from her mother and sister. For years she’s kept her family secrets locked away in her heart, but they’ve been quietly eating away at her. When an unwelcome visitor blows in, Penny is brought face to face with the past. And a postcard, tucked away in a long-hidden case, holds the truth that could change everything.

Young Ella has come back to the place where she spent a happy childhood with her grandmother. Now she’s here to search for everything missing in her life. Taken under Penny’s broken wing for the summer, the safe haven of Pendruggan feels like the place for a fresh start. Soon, however, Ella starts to wonder if perhaps her real legacy doesn’t lie in the past at all.

Pendruggan: A Cornish village with secrets at its heart

Wonderful return to Trevay and great to see Penny Leighton again, in this new novel from Fern Britton. 

Thoroughly enjoyed getting to know Penny even more, having already met her in A Seaside Affair, although this is a completely new story and could easily be read as a standalone.  Penny is struggling a bit to juggle work and being a mother, and its starting to get to her a bit. She really isn't herself and the last thing she needs is her estranged sister trying to get in touch with her. 

I loved getting to know Penny and all the other people in Pendruggan, including her new neighbours Adam and Kit. I also really enjoyed Ella's storyline and can't help but think this isn't the last that we have seen of her, at least I hope it isn't. 

Given how much I love books set in Cornwall, this was a really lovely story, that had a great community feel to it, and was just a joy to read.  It was also a relatively quick read for me as I read the whole of it on a plane journey home from the Canary Islands, and it kept me awake, and entertained for the duration of the flight.  

Always love reading Fern Britton's books and can't wait for more by this lovely author. 

Thank you to Harper and Netgalley for this copy which I have reviewed honestly and voluntarily. 

Thursday, 19 April 2018

Book Review - The Lido by Libby Page

Amazon UK
Title:  The Lido
Author: Libby Page
Format reviewed: Ebook
Source: Netgalley
Publisher: Orion
Publication Date: 19th April 2018
Rating: 4 Stars

Meet Rosemary, 86, and Kate, 26: dreamers, campaigners, outdoor swimmers...

Rosemary has lived in Brixton all her life, but everything she knows is changing. Only the local lido, where she swims every day, remains a constant reminder of the past and her beloved husband George.

Kate has just moved and feels adrift in a city that is too big for her. She's on the bottom rung of her career as a local journalist, and is determined to make something of it.

So when the lido is threatened with closure, Kate knows this story could be her chance to shine. But for Rosemary, it could be the end of everything. Together they are determined to make a stand, and to prove that the pool is more than just a place to swim - it is the heart of the community.

The Lido is an uplifting novel about the importance of friendship, the value of community, and how 
ordinary people can protect the things they love.

This is a story of an unlikely friendship, of two women who have one main thing in common The Lido in Brixton - and their mission to save it from being closed and turned into a private sports facility.  

This is the story also of Rosemary and George and their shared history of over seventy years at the lido, and it is also the story of Kate and her attempts to once and for all conquer "the panic". 

Kate and Rosemary only meet when Kate, is sent to the Lido to do a story on it closure, and wants to interview Rosemary. Rosemary is 86 years young, and loves the Lido, she swims daily and also spends time in the cafe just watching life pass by in her favourite place in the world. 

Between the two ladies we also get a fabulous picture of Brixton itself, and almost makes the most dedicated North Londoner, in me, go south of the river and experience the multiculturalism of Brixton for myself. 

There is some fabulous descriptions in this book which really give you a feel for the lido, its users and also Brixton as a whole. 

However what I found frustrating was how frequently you seemed to be in the present with Rosemary and then suddenly she is reminiscing about her life with George, and I found I was losing track of the time lines, as we get a look at their lives at the Lido over a lifetime. 

I found The Lido to be an interesting story of friendship,  that was enjoyable to read and has me curious as to what else the author may write in the future. 

Thank you to Orion and Netgalley for this copy which I have reviewed honestly and voluntarily. 

Wednesday, 18 April 2018

Book Review - It Started With A Tweet by Anna Bell - #HolidayReading Book 29

Book 29 of 30 that I read on my holiday to Fuerteventura in December 2017

Amazon UK
Title: It Started With A Tweet
Author: Anna Bell
Format reviewed: Ebook
Source: Netgalley
Publisher: Bonnier Zaffre
Publication Date: 27th December 2017
Rating: 5 Stars

Daisy Hobson lives her whole life online. But when her social media obsession causes her to make a catastrophic mistake at work, Daisy finds her life going into free-fall . . . 

Her sister Rosie thinks she has the answer to all of Daisy's problems - a digital detox in a remote cottage in Cumbria. Soon, too, Daisy meets a welcome distraction there in Jack, the rugged man-next-door.

But can Daisy, a London girl, ever really settle into life in a tiny, isolated village? 

And, more importantly, can she survive without her phone? 

Utterly hilarious and a perfect way to spend a few hours while waiting for a transfer back the airport at the end of the holiday.  Of course I had I read this at any point over the previous 2 weeks I would have been saying generally that is a perfect poolside read.

From the fun and clearly social media addicted start of the book Daisy soon makes a vital error tweeting something inappropriate from the wrong twitter account, which since I now have multiples I can completely understand the fear. 

Her sister comes to the rescue after the errant tweet goes viral and encourages Daisy up to the wilds of Cumbria for a digital detox, plus her own ulterior motive too.

I loved every single second of this book, Daisy was just fabulous and Iliked the various men she met too - from Dominik that triggered the mess she is in, to Jack and Alexis out in the countryside. All 3 different but gorgeous!

I read this without stopping in about 4 and half hours give or take some eating of lunch simultaneously. I just couldn't and didn't want to put it down as I was enjoying myself so much. 

If like me you understand the addiction of social media the odds are you will also adore this book.  I'm also a massive fan of this authors writing and she is getting better and better with each book, and each fab idea for a story.  Wonder what the next one will bring.  

Thank you to Netgalley and Bonnier Zaffre for this copy which I have reviewed honestly and voluntarily. 

Tuesday, 17 April 2018

Book Review - The Sunday Lunch Club by Juliet Ashton

Amazon UK
Title: The Sunday Lunch Club
Author: Juliet Ashton
Format reviewed: Paperback
Source: Publisher goody bag
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Publication Date: 19th April 2018
Rating: 5 Stars

The first rule of Sunday Lunch Club is … don't make any afternoon plans.

Every few Sundays, Anna and her extended family and friends get together for lunch. They talk, they laugh, they bicker, they eat too much. Sometimes the important stuff is left unsaid, other times it's said in the wrong way. 

Sitting between her ex-husband and her new lover, Anna is coming to terms with an unexpected pregnancy at the age of forty. Also at the table are her ageing grandmother, her promiscuous sister, her flamboyantly gay brother and a memory too terrible to contemplate.

Until, that is, a letter arrives from the person Anna scarred all those years ago. Can Anna reconcile her painful past with her uncertain future?

Juliet Ashton weaves a story of love, friendship and community that will move you to laughter and to tears. Think Cold Feet meets David Nicholls, with a dash of the joy of Jill Mansell added for good measure.

How novel, a whole novel told in a series of Sunday lunches, I loved it.  For the Sunday Lunch club is more than just eating, its about family and friends of the family, getting together on semi-regular basis to exchange news and give each other support. 

The main focus of the book is Anna Piper and its the Piper family we really get to know, with her grandmother Dinkie,  and siblings Neil, Maeve and Josh, plus her ex husband Sam.  

Through the story we have all manner of life issues touched on, some of them very contemporary, others a bit more worrying, plus hidden secrets for all of the family members are hiding certain things from their loved ones, not necessarily huge things, but secrets nonetheless. 

I loved getting to know each and everyone of the characters and by the end of the book I felt like an honorary member of the Piper family. 

I loved how each chapter started with whose house the Sunday Lunch club was meeting in, and then the menu for the week. There were huge differences in the food each person would serve and all of the feasts matched their makers personalities really well. 

This is a loving, warm hearted book that is a pleasure to read. I can't find any fault with it, and whenever I wasn't reading it, I was wishing I had more time on my hands so I could go back between the pages and finding out what would happen next.  This is another gem from Juliet Ashton that comes highly recommended from me. 

Thank you to Simon & Schuster for this copy which I have reviewed honestly and voluntarily. 

Monday, 16 April 2018

Book Review - Come and Find Me by Sarah Hilary - Rachel Reads Randomly Boo #94

Amazon UK
Title: Come and Find Me
Author: Sarah Hilary
Format reviewed: Ebook
Source: Netgalley
Publisher: Headline
Publication Date: 22nd March 2018
Rating: 5 Stars

On the surface, Lara Chorley and Ruth Hull have nothing in common, other than their infatuation with Michael Vokey. Each is writing to a sadistic inmate, sharing her secrets, whispering her worst fears, craving his attention.

DI Marnie Rome understands obsession. She's finding it hard to give up her own addiction to a dangerous man: her foster brother, Stephen Keele. She wasn't able to save her parents from Stephen. She lives with that guilt every day.

As the hunt for Vokey gathers pace, Marnie fears one of the women may have found him - and is about to pay the ultimate price.

Woah! Well that was a book completely unlike the rest of this series but utterly compelling, and still completely brilliant.  

There is good progress made on some of the overall series story arcs, especially Marnie's feelings towards Stephen Keele, her foster brother. Noah's story continues too, with regular updates on Sol, Noah's brother. 

But the main story this time felt like a game of hide and seek.  We know what the big chaotic violent event is, but we don't know exactly who did what and why, but the suspicion is the man that escaped must be to be blame for it all. 

In amongst the police work, we get chapters from the only person able to give an accurate eye witness account of just what happened at the prison, and the run up to the large amount of chaos, and the story is revealed in small sections. What is apparent early on is that this is being told by someone critically ill who can't speak, and that they are in hospital. 

The whole book felt a lot like it was smoke and mirrors, the more you thought you knew about the case and the many they are looking for, the less you really did seem to know.  At no point in any of it did I have any suspicions to the truth. 

This book pulls you into many different directions, and you are never sure what is a red herring or key evidence.  The readers know not much more than the police in this story and I loved the pacing and how the whole book was written. 

This is an excellent fifth book in this series, and I'm highly curious what direction the author will take her characters in next. One this is for sure if Come and Find Me is anything to go by, there will be more incredibly cunning and twisted villains to come, and be found. 

Thank you to Netgalley and Headline for this copy which I have reviewed honestly and voluntarily. 

Thank you to everyone that voted for this book, it was only a glut of other thrillers released on the same date that lead to me not having read this yet, as I was always intendit to fit it in as soon as I had a chance.  I do though wonder what you will pick for me this week! 
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