Thursday, 30 April 2015

Guest Post - Romy Sommer on Westerwald - Harper Impulse Fortnight

It gives me great pleasure to welcome Romy Sommer onto the blog today. She is the author of what I can only describe as adult fairy tales, that are simply enchanting.

Westerwald

Once upon a time, in a kingdom far, far away, there lived a princess. Okay, so it wasn’t a kingdom, just a little Archduchy, and she was a cocktail waitress, not a princess, but every fairy tale has to start somewhere.

My fairy tales all start in the magical Archduchy of Westerwald. In the 21st century it’s a tiny little (fictional) nation squashed between Germany and France, and don’t be embarrassed if you’ve never heard of it. Most people haven’t. In fact, if you don’t zoom right in on Google Earth, you might miss it completely.

But back in the middle ages, when Europe was just a patchwork of warring rival kingdoms, Westerwald was a force to be reckoned with. The Archdukes controlled the Wester River, which meant they also controlled European trade. At the height of their power and wealth, they established their base in the southern part of the kingdom, building a magnificent castle on a hilltop overlooking the river, surrounding by vineyards and forests ideal for hunting. (Readers of my first HarperImpulse novel, Waking up in Vegas, will recognise this setting as the town of Waldburg.)


But we all know that in fairy tales pride comes before a fall. By the end of the seventeenth century, Archduke Willem believed he could do whatever he wanted. He kept his royal bride a virtual prisoner and set his low-born mistress beside him on the throne. (Shades of Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn). The imprisoned princess managed to sneak just one letter out to her nephew, who lived in a neighbouring kingdom. With the support of his king, the nephew gathered an army and rode to her rescue. The result was a civil war that ended with Willem’s death, and with the princess’ nephew, Anton, crowned as the new Archduke.

After her husband’s death, the princess never married again. But she lived to see the new Baroque town her nephew built in the north of the country, and in its glorious palace she helped to raise the next generation of princes and princesses. That same palace at Neustadt (literally New City) features in The Trouble with Mojitos and To Catch a Star.




Archduke Anton’s descendants still rule over Westerwald today. They’d be the first to tell you that this is the 21st century, and they’re no fairy tale princes. They’re just ordinary men searching for their own happy ever afters. But we all know, that’s exactly how every fairy tale begins…

Not A Fairy Tale by Romy Sommer


And the award goes to…

Not Nina Alexander that’s for sure.
With her best gracious loser face firmly in place, Hollywood’s hottest starlet is hoping to end her evening of disappointment with a graceful exit stage left. Only an unexpected proposal and an awkward wardrobe malfunction mean that this is certainly going to be a night to remember… for all the wrong reasons! So what girl would resist the gorgeous Dominic Kelly coming to her rescue?!  Especially when he’s whisking her out of the paparazzi’s prying eyes on the back of his motorbike – and wearing a tux to rival James Bond!

Nina soon realizes that the only way to recover from such a scandal is to toughen up and snag the role of the decade in the year’s hottest YA screen adaptation. Who better to train her than her very own professional stuntman? Getting up close and personal with Dom will take Nina well out of her comfort zone – both professionally and in her closely scrutinized private life.  But this A-list couple know only too well that’s it not all happy ever afters in Hollywood…

Not a Fairy Tale is published by Harper Impulse, a division of Harper Collins, and is available from the following online retailers: Amazon Smart URL | Barnes & Noble iBooks | Kobo | eBooks by Sainsburys | All Romance eBooks

About Romy Sommer 

I’ve always written stories for myself, but didn’t even think of being an author until I realised that being over thirty and living in a fantasy world was a little odd. Writing those same stories for other people makes it a lot more acceptable!


By day I dress in cargo pants and boots for my not-so-glamorous job of making movies but at night I come home to my two little Princesses, in Johannesburg, South Africa, where I live, and I get to write Happy Ever Afters. Since I believe every girl is a princess, and every princess deserves a happy ending, what could be more perfect?


Thank you very much Romy, for that insight into Westerwald. Stay tuned to Rachel's Random Reads over the weekend, when I will be bringing you my reviews for the first two books in the Westerwald trilogy - Waking Up in Vegas and The Trouble with Mojitos.

Wednesday, 29 April 2015

Paperback Month Roundup

During April, I have been taking part in #paperbackmonth on Twitter and Facebook, which was a month for a group of bloggers, reviewers, book fans in general, to try and make inroads into our often neglected TBR piles of paperbacks.

This was run by Sophie at Reviewed The Book, and Suze at Librarian Lavender and I would like to thank both of you for a fantastically run month, of fun, chat, reading and giveaways. You are both stars.

About a week into April, it was suggested that I start blogging, given the rate I seem to be able to read and review, and although I had thought about it in the past, I finally took the plunge and on the 8th April 2015, Rachel's Random Reads was born, and so far I am loving it and want to thank everyone in the book blogging community for being so incredibly supportive.

At the start of the month, I took some before photos, and counted how many books I had that I was going to choose from to read during the month, and was amazed there were 41!

Having just checked back to my first post in the Facebook event, I stated my aim for the challenge was to reduce the pile of books, so that if feels like I have made progress with them.

Before & After shots of my purchased books section

At the Start of April

At the End of April

As we can see from the pictures, at the start of the month, I had 18 unread paperbacks that I have purchased at some point in my life. In the after shot, I have 12 unread paperbacks that I have purchased.

I have been almost very well behaved with regards buying more books this month, most of my purchases have been ebooks, and I only have the 1 brand new book, Wild and Free by Wendy Holden, which I only got at the weekend.

So mission achieved with this subsection. I have definitely made progress on the books I have purchased piles!

Before & After shots of my "won" book sections

At the Start of April

At the End of April


As you can see, I had 23 books that I have previously won from various book competitions that I hadn't had time to read yet. However at the end of the month I have 26 books in this category.

The explanation for this is simple, I have had a very lucky April and have won some wonderful looking books, so although I have definitely read some of my winnings, the pile just hasn't shrunk.

So what did I read?

Well I'm glad you asked that, I read this pile of books below:

Books read and enjoyed during April

Overall, I read 21 paperbacks, which in a 30 day month sounds scarily impressive. This was mainly due to the Easter break, as well as having a few days off work ill just after Easter, where al I wanted to do was curl up and devour books - so I did!

Overall

Start of challenge - 41 paperbacks to read
End of challenge - 38 paperbacks to read

This means I have met my aim, and in fact my piles are smaller, just about! Delighted with the way the month has gone.

What I did learn during April, was that I can no longer read paperback after paperback, after paperback. By the middle of the second week of the month, I was suffering from severe kindle withdrawal symptoms, to the effect that it was shouting at me to give it some love and attention again.

I believe Sophie and Suze are planning to run another Paperback challenge during the summer, which when its announced I will definitely take part in, and would urge you all to do so too, as its loads of fun talking about books with like minded people. I would though pace myself better and probably alternate paper and e-books.

If there are any books you have seen in my photos that you would like to see a review for on my blog, please leave me a comment and I will try and read those books first (can't promise, but will try to!).


Book Review - A Diva in Manhattan by Aubrie Dionne - Harper Impulse Fortnight

Amazon UK
Title: A Diva in Manhattan
Author: Aubrie Dionne
Format reviewed: E-book
Source: Purchased
Publisher: Harper Impulse
Publication Date: 20th November 2014
Rating: 4 Stars


A Date with the Diva

Fresh off a successful Italian tour, soprano soloist Alaina Amaldi returns to America on cloud nine. The Metropolitan Opera has invited her to guest star in their performance of Mozart’s Magic Flute, and she’s singing at the top of her game. But, to act the part of the sweet, young Pamina in love, she has to be likeable; something that has never come easily to her. On a quest to soften her diva-like image, she volunteers at an arts school for underprivileged children. Too bad the kids call her the opera witch…

Brett Robinson has moved to Manhattan to start afresh. Used to living on his own as a logger, he finds a job with a construction company repairing the sidewalk in front of the Metropolitan Opera House. What he didn’t count on was for one of those hoity-toity divas to strut straight past him and into his heart!

However, Brett knows that a guy like him doesn't have a chance with a woman like Alaina. That is until an older woman asks him to attend a fundraiser, posing as her Wall Street stockbroker son. Before he knows it, Brett’s drinking cocktails with the gorgeous diva! Trouble is, she thinks he’s quite a few billion dollars richer. Is she as shallow as everyone claims, or will she still love what she sees when the tux comes off?. 

We meet Alaina Amaldi as she is auditioning to star in the opera The Magic Flute at New York's Metropolitan Opera. She is a diva with a reputation. The Met only agree to let her star, if she massively changes her public images, by attending charity functions, as well as volunteering to teach music at an arts school for underprivileged children. 

Alaina, although having no experience with children, desperately wants the part, so agrees, and that night has to attend a charity gala, with auction.

Brett is a former logger, now working for a construction company near the Met. He spots Alaina walking past, but knows he would never stand a chance with someone like her. However, he then gets asked by Mrs De Barr, if he could impersonate her son, to attend a charity gala, and be auctioned off. He isn't comfortable with the lie, but agrees as the charity is one that is close to his heart. 

Alaina, and her arch rival Bianca are both at the gala and both try to outbid each other for the date with Brett (posing as Lance). Alaina wins, and both of their lives change. 

I loved the scenes where Alaina  was teaching in the school. To make opera accessible to a group of children, and to see her character soften over the course of the lessons was very touching, especially when she takes a special interest in a couple of them. During the lessons, the reader gets some information too about the stories of a few operas, which was interesting. 

Due to the big lie Brett is having to tell, the courtship doesn't exactly run smoothly, but then when does true love ever run smoothly? He seemed like good looking, warm hearted man, who was trying to the best for varying people, for good reasons. 

The rivalry between Alaina and Bianca was amusing, and I loved Bianca's attempts at sabotage. 

Overall I found A Diva in Manhattan to be an entertaining romance, with two characters I warmed too, and I was sad that it ended so fast. 

Tuesday, 28 April 2015

Book Review - The Chalet Girls Series by Lorraine Wilson - Books 3 - 5 - Harper Impulse Fortnight


Amazon UK

Title: Revenge of a Chalet Girl 
Author: 
Lorraine Wilson
Format reviewed: Paperback
Source: Competition Win
Publisher: Harper Impulse
Publication Date: 19th December 2013
Rating: 4 Stars
  All she wants for Christmas is…revenge.

When chalet girl Amy Wright finds her ex’s name on Chalet Repos’ guest list she sees her chance to get back at him – Josh Carter, the guy who broke her heart. Getting revenge without losing her job will be tricky but luckily the other chalet girls are on hand to offer their support. Pretty soon she’s in too deep and realises she doesn’t want to hurt him anymore. She wants him back.

There’s just one teeny complication…

Amy has been enjoying her time as a chalet girl until she spots a familiar name on the guest list for the next week. Josh Carter, he broke her heart when he took a job in Saudi Arabia, and she has never really recovered.  
The rest of the chalet girls, including Tash and Sophie from previous books, encourage Amy that a spot of revenge is on order. However it doesn't take too long until she realises she still cares about him. 

Just one small problem, he's on his stag do, and has been brought up to do the right thing by women. 

This is a lovely light romance story, that is enjoyable, but was just missing the heat and passion, that made me love the first two books. 

This can be read as a standalone book, however if this is your first one in the series, I honestly would start with one of the others first. 

There is quite a lot of humour in this book, and the writing is still great, its just not quite as amazing as the others. I would love to see books featured around both Tash and Sophie as I feel like I'm getting to know them quite well through the series so far, and that they would both be fab leading ladies. 



Amazon UK

Title: Secret Crush of a Chalet Girl
Author: 
Lorraine Wilson
Format reviewed: Paperback
Source: Competition Win
Publisher: Harper Impulse
Publication Date: 27th February 2014
Rating: 5 Stars
  Chalet Girl Sophie Trent has plenty of reasons to hate Valentine's Day. After a lifetime of being treated like she didn’t matter because of her looks, she’s shed the pounds but not the self-esteem issues – and when she can curl up with one of her beloved romance novels, why put herself through a night of awkward speed ski dating? 

A treasure hunt set by a secret admirer makes her reconsider. Only, what if it’s a cruel joke? Because it certainly wouldn’t be the first time! 

But as Sophie follows the trail of red paper hearts around the idyllic winter wonderland of Verbier, she can’t help but wonder whether there really might be a Secret Valentine waiting for her out there on the slopes…

Sophie, who has been a perennial chalet girl and background character in the previous books, finally gets her turn as a main character, Within 3 pages of this book, I knew I would love Sophie even more than all the other chalet girls, and I could identify with her a lot. 

Sophie, suffers from a lack of confidence with men, after an incident 2 years ago, that keeps playing on her mind. She and the other chalet girls, take part in the Valentines Day ritual of speed ski dating. 

I loved the idea of speed ski dating, and it was great to see some action on the ski slopes in this book as well as the apres ski scene! During the first run of the speed dating, Sophie is approached by a man who hands her a heart, which has the clue which will be the start of a treasure hunt. 

The treasure hunt, and the man at the end of it are incredibly romantic, and I must say I was jealous of Sophie for having such a wonderful Valentines day surprise.

I love the way in all these books you get to see what is running through both romantic leads heads, just by the use of italicised sentences. Gives you a real insight into a variety of insecurities. 

This was my absolute favourite of the chalet girls books. It is such a romantic story, and clearly very tenderly written.


Amazon UK
Title: Rebellion of a Chalet Girl
Author: Lorraine Wilson
Format reviewed: Ebook
Source: Purchased
Publisher: Harper Impulse
Publication Date: 26th March 2015
Rating: 4 Stars
   Always the Chalet Girl…

Year round chalet girl Tash doesn’t do attachments—she’s learned the hard way that relationships of any kind never last. But when self-made millionaire and hit TV star Nathaniel Campbell arrives to spend a month at Chalet Repos, she’s tempted to reconsider her no-strings rule…

Tash and Nate may be from different sides of the tracks, but the connection between them is undeniable! And Tash soon realises that one hot night with Nate will never be enough. But can Nate ever think of Tash as more than a fling, especially once the truth about her past comes out?

Nathaniel Campbell is a self-made millionaire and has hired Chalet Repos for a month, so he can work on his new book. He is also looking at possible investment in the area.  Holly and Scott, have warned their chalet girls they have to be extra nice ot to VIPs this month. 

Tash, stays in Verbier all year around, doesn't do attachments, commitment or trust. She however finds she feels some sort of connection to Nate, 

You really get to know Tash well in this book, and from what I knew previously of her, I was surprised at just what secrets she was hiding. 

The main sex scene was very well done, and I really felt the heat and passion coming out of it. 

I can't put my finger on it, but I just didn't enjoy this book as much as others in the series. The writing is still really good, and there wasn't anything wrong with the story, it just didn't entice me in, as much as others in the series. 

That being said, I am looking forward to future releases by Lorraine Wilson, and would love to see her write a full length book. 



Monday, 27 April 2015

Book Review - The Chalet Girls Series by Lorraine Wilson - Books 1 & 2 - Harper Impulse Fortnight


Amazon UK

Title: Confessions of a Chalet Girl 
Author: 
Lorraine Wilson
Format reviewed: Paperback
Source: Competition Win
Publisher: Harper Impulse
Publication Date: 27th June 2013
Rating: 5 Stars
   Verbier. Exclusive Swiss ski resort and the winter playground of the rich and famous


Maximum time on the ski slopes – and in the bars at night! 

Looking for flings – or looking for rings! 

Super hot snowboarders such as Luxury Chalet Experiences owner Scott Hamilton… 

But not for Holly Buchanan. This accidental chalet girl won’t drink, can’t ski – and isn’t there to hook up with any man who’s only interested in making her another notch on his ski pole. Or so she thinks! 

Scott’s living life to full, both on and off the piste, and Holly can’t help but find his attitude just a little bit infectious… And the hook up?

Well,she’s going to have to confess that one night with her boss just won’t be enough!


So pack your salopettes and pour another shot of J√§germeister, it’s time to hit the slopes


Holly is not your typical chalet girl. She was persuaded to do a season by her best friend, who then pulled out after meeting a man and falling pregnant.  Holly isn't keen on drunken behaviour and she can't ski. 

During the chalet girl initiation night, Holly encounters her boss Scott, who is gorgeous, and gives off sex appeal. There is instantly chemistry between the pair. 

As you may expect sparks soon fly, and the scenes are very well written, and I loved the sexual tension between Holly and Scott. 

Confessions of a Chalet Girl is a steamy romance novella, that enjoyable and  gives a good idea on what goes on after hours in a ski chalet!



Amazon UK

Title: Secrets of a Chalet Girl
Author: 
Lorraine Wilson
Format reviewed: Paperback
Source: Competition Win
Publisher: Harper Impulse
Publication Date: 24th October 2013
Rating: 5 Stars
   Set in the exclusive Swiss ski resort of Verbier, the winter playground of the rich and famous, Secrets of a Chalet Girl is the second book in Lorraine Wilson’s fabulous Ski Season series.

Flora is playing Truth or Dare at her bosses hen party. She however doesn't really want to take part in any of the dares, but as the new girl in Verbier, she does want to fit in.  The dare she picks from the bag, is to kiss the sexiest man in the bar.

Flora, picks Zac, a guy she had already noticed at the bar, who is incredibly sexy. He doesn't object or seem too bothered about someone randomly going up to him and kissing him. There is instant chemistry between the pair. 

Flora has recently come out of a traumatic relationship, which wrecked her self confidence, and is a bit nervous of stating anything with another man. Zac has secrets of his own to overcome. 

There is enough heat in these fabulous 87 pages, to boil a kettle! It was also fantastic to catch up with some of the chalet girls you meet in the first book. 

Secrets of a Chalet Girl can be read as a stand alone novella, as the main character is different to the previous book. This is a very easy read, and is a very pleasant way to while a way an hour.

Reviews for the next books in the Chalet Girls series will be posted tomorrow. See you then!

Guest Post - Lorraine Wilson on Escapism - Harper Impulse Fortnight

Welcome to Harper Impulse Fortnight. For the next two weeks I will be bringing you reviews, guest posts and even a giveaway, from some of my favourite Harper Impulse authors.

I am delighted to open the Fortnight, with a wonderful guest post by Lorraine Wilson, author of the superb Chalet Girls series.

Purchase Lorraine's books


Escapism

I write escapist fiction. I make no apology for this. Fiction is a door - every time we open a novel we step into another world and someone else's shoes. I like to both read and write books set in interesting and/or glamorous locations. Escapism widens our world and distracts us from whatever crap we're dealing with in life. No it's not a cure but I don't think it's unhealthy to take a break from our problems now and then. In fact I think it's good for us.

If you don't have any problems by the way then I'm very happy for you, escapism will still entertain you and expand your world view.

Escapism also connects us. We might read something that shows the author is familiar with what we're going through and understands. A book can make us feel less alone if we're lonely or make us laugh when we're feeling low.

I'm not claiming that my books do all of that but if they even manage a little of the above I'll be very happy.

If you'd like to try Lorraine Wilson's Chalet Girl Series for free you can download a free ebook copy of Chalet Girl Plays Cupid here: http://hyperurl.co/chaletgirl1

About Lorraine Wilson

I live in Wiltshire, England, with my husband but love to travel and have lived in four continents. From playing amidst Roman ruins in Africa as a child to riding a Sultan's racehorse in the Middle East as a teen, I’ve many experiences to draw on for the stories I’ve been writing ever since I can remember. 

When I’m not writing you'll find me listening to audiobooks while I sew or design handbags, usually with a rescue terrier or two curled up on my feet!


To keep up to date with Chalet Girl Series news checkout my author page on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/LorraineWilsonWriter or find me on twitter @Romanceminx

Thank you so much Lorraine, and I completely agree, escapism never hurt anyone,. Please come back at midday, when my reviews of Confessions of a Chalet Girl and Secrets of a Chalet Girl go live. 

Saturday, 25 April 2015

Harper Impulse Fortnight


I am pleased to announce that Rachel's Random Reads will be taking part in Harper Impulse Fortnight, from April 27th to May 10 2015.

The lovely Katey over at Books with Bunny has been very busy organising all of us book bloggers, in a celebration of the fabulous digital imprint Harper Impulse.


What is Harper Impulse Fortnight?
Harper Impulse Fortnight (HIFortnight) is a two week period celebrating Harper Collins' digital first romance publisher Harper Impulse.

When is Harper Impulse Fortnight?
It runs April 27th 2015-May 10th 2015 inclusive.

Who are Harper Impulse?
HarperImpulse is an exciting new range of romance fiction brought to you from the women’s fiction team at HarperCollins. Our aim is to break new talent from debut authors and import the hottest trends from the US, bringing you the very best in romance. Whether that is through short reads for your mobile phone or epic sagas that span the generations we want to proudly publish romance fiction that gets everybody talking.

What will Rachel's Random Reads be doing to celebrate Harper Impulse Fortnight?
I have multiple guest posts from fab authors lined up, and most of the majority of the books I will be reviewing over the next two weeks, will be published by Harper Impulse. They have such a fabulous range of authors, I'm delighted to help promote them, and introduce you all to new authors. I've even got a giveaway coming up during the second week.

How can I follow along with all Harper Impulse Fortnight posts?
Follow the Hashtag- To keep up to date with everything that is happening in HIFortnight, including some wonderful giveaways, follow the hashtag #HIFortnight Also you can follow @katey5678 and @HarperImpulse

Friday, 24 April 2015

Book Review - The Cake Shop in the Garden by Carole Matthews

Amazon UK
Title: The Cake Shop in the Garden
Author: Carole Matthews
Format reviewed: Paperback
Source: Competition win from Carole Matthews
Publisher: Sphere
Publication Date: 23rd April 2015
Rating: 5 Stars


Fay Merryweather runs her cake shop from her beautiful garden. She whips up airy sponges and scrumptious scones, while her customers enjoy the lovely blossoms and gorgeous blooms. Looking after the cake shop, the garden and her cantankerous mother means Fay is always busy but she accepts her responsibilities because if she doesn't do all this, who will?

Then Danny Wilde walks into her life and makes Fay question every decision she's ever made.

When a sudden tragedy strikes, Fay's entire world is thrown off balance even further and she doesn't know which way to turn. Can Fay find the strength to make a life-changing decision - even if it means giving up the thing she loves the most? Life, love and family are about to collide in The Cake Shop in the Garden.

I was over the moon on Saturday morning to discover I had won a signed copy of The Cake Shop in the Garden, since I have been a Carole Matthew fan for probably 12 years at least now, and have read almost every book she has written. I was even more delighted to come home on Monday, to see it had arrived already, and since I was between books, I couldn't resist. I had to read this one.

Fay Merryweather, is running a teashop out of her garden, and also her narrowboat at the bottom of the garden on the canal. She gets a reasonable passing trade from people meandering up and down the canals near Milton Keynes, as well as people from the local village. While running this teashop, she also is sole carer to her bedridden mum Margaret, as well as a huge support to her sister in New York. 

Fay has a long term partner of 10 years, in Anthony, who seems more interested in golf and his handbell ringing group, than in Fay, and seems like he must have been old before his time, at least it felt that way. 

Lija is Fay's assistant in the cafe, and perhaps one of Fay's only real friends. I loved Lija's attitude towards everything, and she is a massive help to Fay. 

Danny Wilde, is young and incredibly handsome. He has recently packed in a job in The City, in order to have a more relaxed way of life, travelling around the UK on the canals. He moors his boat on Fay's mooring and helps out preparing the cafe for another summer. 

Fay is the sort of person that put literally everyone first, and as a result she initially seems a bit "woe is me", a  bit uninspiring and spineless. But when suddenly everything around her changes, she has to decide exactly what is most important in her life, and in doing so, I feel becomes a far more well rounded person. 

I loved the idea of a Cake Shop/Cafe being run out of a boat, and a garden, and in bad weather parts of the house. The cakes always sounded so nice, and regular customer Stan is a real ray of light. He is the perfect example of an elderly gentleman.

The bedridden mother, Margaret, and sister Edie are really hard to like. Both of them utterly selfish and take advantage of Fay. In fact although there quite a few characters I didn't like, they were the sort that I still enjoyed reading about regardless. 

The Cake Shop in the Garden is a novel with heart. It is a wonderful story about love, life, family and not to mention cake! As is always the case, it was an absolute pleasure to read, and I would love to see a short story sequel, as I feel I'd love to see how the story develops, after the book ended!

The Cake Shop in the Garden was published in paperback yesterday. 

Release Recap - 23rd April 2015


Just in-case you missed out on seeing all of yesterday's simply amazing new releases, I have listed them all for you in one easy place. I am just amazed at the quality of yesterday's release schedule, and think you will be too, once you pick and choose what you want to read.

Love Shack by Jane Costello
One Small Act of Kindness by Lucy Dillon
Girls on Tour by Nicola Doherty
The Doris Day Vintage Film Club by Fiona Harper
Wild and Free by Wendy Holden
The Cake Shop in the Garden by Carole Matthews
When We Were Friends by Tina Seskis
The Lie by C.L. Taylor


Reviews of most of these have been posted in the last week. If you take up any of my suggestions, please let me know, as I would love to know what you think of these books. 

Thursday, 23 April 2015

Book Review - Girls on Tour by Nicola Doherty

Amazon UK
Title: Girls on Tour
Author: Nicola Doherty
Format reviewed: Ebook
Source: Netgalley
Publisher: Headline
Publication Date: 23rd April 2015
Rating: 5 Stars


Four girls. One year.

Five fabulous destinations.

Poppy is bound for Paris, the City of Love. Could this be her chance to end her epic dry spell?

Lily is en route to her cousin's wedding in LA, where she's willing to break a few rules to land her dream role.

Maggie can't wait for her romantic ski holiday in Meribel - until it goes seriously off-piste.

Rachel packs for a glamorous Roman holiday, but a blast from the past is about to sabotage la dolce vita.

The girls get together and fly to Manhattan. But someone's been hiding a big secret in the Big Apple...

Hilarious, romantic and unputdownable, Girls on Tour is an irresistible series of interlinked stories about four ordinary girls who have extraordinary fun in faraway places. Follow them in an unforgettable year that includes breaking up, making up, new jobs and some big surprises ...

This is the ultimate feel good, light hearted chick lit book. Friendships, relationships, glorious destinations and lots of fun. 

We meet Poppy, who is on her way to Paris to try and land a new deal for the publisher she works for. She has to take her colleague Charlie, who is younger than her and incredibly flirty. 

Then there is Lily, an aspiring actress that is heading to LA for her cousin Alice's wedding, and is asked to help with last minute bridesmaid duties. Poppy is best friends with Alice and also a bridesmaid too.  Alice's fianc√©e is a casting agent, and Lily is desperate to get him to help, for her stalled acting career. However things don't always turn out like you would expect.

Maggie is best friends with Lily, and is off to Meribel, with her boyfriend Leo, for a few days skiing, and romance. It is a group holiday, with two other couples plus a single girl, Jenny. Watch out in this section for the incredibly sexy ski-instructor.

Rachel, who met Maggie in Meribel, after her boyfriend has to attend a conference on Valentines weekend, decides she will have a weekend break in Rome, along with Maggie and Lily. This trip secures their friendships, and you see just how different the girls approaches to holiday are.

I will admit I was a bit worried as to how five previously released novellas would be combined and work as one full feature length book, but I needn't have. The transitions from each story were incredibly smooth, and the girls stories do interlink very well.

The sections of emails between Maggie and Lily are a great touch, and help move the story along and give you more info about both those characters and their friendship, in a very easy to follow way.

In all the destinations the girls go to, there are gorgeous men, hilarious situations and an all round feeling of fun. There is such a lively tone to the whole book, that I kept looking forward to having time to pick it up to continue reading, as I was enjoying it so much.

Girls on Tour is out today

Wednesday, 22 April 2015

Book Review - The Lie by C.L. Taylor

Amazon UK
Title: The Lie
Author: C. L. Taylor
Format reviewed: Ebook
Source: Netgalley
Publisher: Avon
Publication Date: 23rd April 2015 
Rating: 5 Stars


This was no accident…

Haunting, compelling, this psychological thriller will have you hooked. Perfect for fans of Gone Girl and Daughter.

I know your name’s not really Jane Hughes . . .

Jane Hughes has a loving partner, a job in an animal sanctuary and a tiny cottage in rural Wales. She’s happier than she’s ever been but her life is a lie. Jane Hughes does not really exist.

Five years earlier Jane and her then best friends went on holiday but what should have been the trip of a lifetime rapidly descended into a nightmare that claimed the lives of two of the women.

Jane has tried to put the past behind her but someone knows the truth about what happened. Someone who won’t stop until they’ve destroyed Jane and everything she loves . . .

If you have ever had the misfortune of  your holiday turning into a "holiday from hell", then when you read this book you will be delighted that is wasn't as bad as Jane's.  When Jane and her friends went to Nepal, to a retreat, it was meant to be a "holiday of a lifetime", but it turned into a living nightmare.

The Lie is told, in both the present day, and also we get the details of the holiday to Nepal, imparted to us slowly throughout the book. Everything is from Jane's perspective, and in the case of the trip, and the details of want went on at the retreat, a lot of it makes incredibly harrowing and terrifying reading.  

The Lie starts when, during her normal working day at the animal rescue centre, she receives a note saying "I know your name's not really Jane Hughes". This terrifies Jane, as in fact her name was not originally Jane Hughes, but she had taken on a new identity for reasons that become very clear.  Jane has forged a new life for herself, including a boyfriend Will, and his daughter Chloe (who is an adorable child). 

Trust is a key concept in this story. Who exactly can Jane trust, and who could she trust 5 years ago.  Friendships are torn apart, and terrible things occur. However someone else knows the truth, and they are determined to destroy Jane's new life. 

The writing is just the right mix between descriptive narrative, and action, and I found it to be fast paced. No sooner have you absorbed one shocking piece of information, another comes along. I had no clue at all, that it would end the way it did, and I must say its nice not to read a completely predictable book. 

I feel I need to give you a few warnings about this book:- Only read The Lie when you have enough time to sit and read large chunks of it in one go, you really won't want to put it down. In addition, if you have a slightly nervy disposition, don't read it while on public transport. A door slammed while I was on my way home, completely absorbed in The Lie, and I jumped out of my skin, and was worried the old man walking past that had caused met  jump, would attack me. I was so engrossed in The Lie, I for a few mins couldn't tell the difference between real life and the immensely immersive story.  I felt like I was there in Nepal with the four friends, and what they were feeling, I was feeling. I honestly don't think a book has ever had me hooked that deeply before this one. 

If you only read one psychological thriller this quarter, than make sure it is The Lie. You won't be disappointed.

The Lie is out on Thursday.

Tuesday, 21 April 2015

Book Review - The Love Shack by Jane Costello

Amazon UK
Title: The Love Shack
Author: Jane Costello
Format reviewed: Ebook
Source: Netgalley
Publisher: Simon & Schuster UK
Publication Date: 23rd April 2015
Rating: 4.5 Stars


Life's great when you're 29 years old with a gorgeous girlfriend and fulfilling job. Until you have to move back in with your mum . . . 

Dan and Gemma have found their dream first home, but the asking price is the stuff of nightmares. The only way they'll ever save enough for the deposit is by moving in, rent-free, with Dan's mum. 

It's a desperate solution, but it's only for six months. And Gemma's determined to make it work, no matter how bad things get. 

But between Dan's mum's kitchen karaoke, her constant innuendos, irrepressible argumentative streak and - worst of all - her ham and pineapple curries, life back at home would test the patience of two saints. Which Dan and Gemma most definitely are not. 

Then, as they're trying to convince themselves it will all be worth it, Gemma's past comes back to haunt her. And suddenly the foundations of their entire relationship are shaken to their core…

The Love Shack is an entertaining story of Dan and Gemma attempting to purchase their first home together. After months of viewing completely unsuitable properties, they fall in love with Pebble Cottage. Just one small snag, it is slightly out of their price range, and the seller won't budge on the asking price. 

So Gemma comes up with  a solution, if they live thriftily, give up their flat and save every penny they can meet the asking price, so long as they also move in with Dan's mum. Dan although he has reservations, as after all, what 29 year old wants to move back in with his mum, agrees because he loves Gemma and wants her to have her dream house. 

Dan's mum, Belinda is a larger than life character, her brain doesn't seem to filter anything she says, but she is letting the young love birds live there rent-free, until they get Pebble Cottage. It doesn't take too long for Gemma and Dan's patience is tried to the limit. 

The Love Shack is like  a comedy of errors. The scenes with Belinda are generally very funny, and the situation with how the house sale progresses is the stuff of nightmares. Add in, an ex boyfriend getting back in touch with Gemma, and you are suddenly wondering exactly who will end up with who, and if they will ever get their house.

There is a whole host of ancillary characters, and some sub-plots, my favourite of which involves Gemma's best friend Sadie, and their new boss. Also to watch out for is estate agent Rich, who is almost cringe-worthy with the way he talks. 

The story is told from both Dan and Gemma's perspectives, alternating, but giving a continuous story. They pick up wherever the other leaves off, and this makes it feel as though they are telling the story together, perhaps sitting next to each on a couch, reminiscing. 

The Love Shack is a very entertaining story, with a lovely voice to it. It is incredibly light hearted romantic comedy, and I loved reading it. 

The Love Shack is out on Thursday.
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